Lynne begins remembering when she first hears his name.
It's like a bell deep in her subconsciousness is telling her something big about this name; about this black cat, glancing up with innocent yellow eyes and scratching the red handkerchief tied around his neck in annoyance. It's slightly off, and not just because he's the same cat from ten years ago in that park. Nope, it's because this same cat from ten years ago in that park hasn't changed. He hasn't aged a day, his hair hasn't grown an inch…she pauses. Where has she heard that phrase before? Why is this scene so familiar?
Kamila and Detective Jowd cross into the kitchen at the calling of dinner, but Lynne straggles behind and gathers up the cat shakily into her arms, propping him into eye contact as she stands. He leisurely looks her over and purrs accordingly, and somehow Lynne feels she should know the name Sissel. She should know him from something long ago, something important, something that put her feet on the path to who she was today.
"I bet you're just like me," she says, and she must sound crazy, talking to a cat—but has she done this before? Because she feels oddly like this cat should understand her.
"Your destiny led you here somehow, too."
She must sound absolutely psychotic, like this, but something is stirring inside hers, memories that shouldn't exist. But something tells her that both of them have been brought here by the same fate, the same turning point, the same event, and she should be able to put her finger on it.
The cat meows, almost an amused sound, and suddenly Lynne feels like the cat is connecting the links in her head she wasn't supposed to forget.
Sissel…where have I heard that name before?
Suddenly, it comes back in a blur as the red on his neck catches her eye—red, just like the suit he thought he used to wear. The Yonoa, Yomiel, Detective Jowd's imprisonment, everything, and how he saved her five times over. She looks at him in slight disbelief as if to say that's what you were? A cat? And she is surprised, honestly, because after that entire night of miracle after miracle she thought the blue flame shape that launched away from her for the last time on a torpedo would be something more, something greater than a cat. Sissel, however, simply gives her an incredulous look along the lines of hey, what do you want from me?
She returns the look. Are you kidding? You're not even human!
Look at Missile.
Lynne smiles slightly and holds her out at arm's length, laughing freely as she looks him square in the eye.
"And so we meet again, Sissel!"
Kamila begins remembering when Inspector Cabanela arrives.
To be specific, of course, it's not the inspector; it's Missile. Kamila always loved that little Pomeranian Lynne had, babysitting it for her on vacations, and it seemed to like her, a lot, too. But even she was surprised by his reaction when he saw Sissel: he immediately began barreling toward the stack of presents upon which he was perched, while Sissel leisurely leaped off and twitched his whiskers in amusement as he almost fell backwards into a stray balloon.
Kamila looks at the two of them, how wonderfully they're getting along, and narrows her eyebrows in thought. Dogs and cats were legendary for not getting along, but Missile and Sissel seem to be getting along just fine.
Shrugging, she invites Inspector Cabanela into her seat, instead opting to abandon her plate of spaghetti for a bit of love with Missile. Inspector Cabanela takes the invitation warmly, eating with his usual flair, bits of sauce landing everywhere except, of course, on his coat. Missile looks up and begins jumping up to lick Kamila's face, Sissel perches back on top of the stack of presents with a yawn, and life goes on.
"Alright, alright, Missile, stop!" She laughs and turns to Lynne.
"Is Missile a boy or a girl?"
Lynne props her chin up on her fist, abandoning her quickly disappearing chicken as she thinks. "You know, I never asked the previous owner. I think I just assumed it was a boy and named him Missile."
"Well, you can't well call a girl Missile, can you?" Kamila laughs. "Can we, Missile, old boy?"
He wags his tufted tail, and barks, and Kamila sits back and thinks, finally looking up decisively.
"I think, if you were a girl, I'd call you Missy!"
Missile barks and Sissel mews, and suddenly Kamila wonders what she'd call Sissel if he were a girl. Well, the obvious answer, of course, parallel to Missile's—
Sissy. She's heard that name before.
She looks up at him, wondering where and when she's heard that, and as if in answer Sissel's incessant scratching finally pays off as the handkerchief around his neck falls to the floor, red like blood.
Or, of course, like a suit.
Frowning, Kamila pats Missile on the head absentmindedly and thinks. She'd wanted to name that black cat her dad had brought home Midnight or something along the lines of that, but her father had put up a fight to get the name 'Sissel.' At the time, Kamila had opted for coincidence, but was it something more?
Sissel's yellow eyes light up, and Kamila wonders where she has seen the contrast of black, red, and yellow.
There's only one person like that—another Sissel that she once knew. Or the same Sissel, under a different mask.
Getting up and walking over to Sissel under the pretense of putting the collar back on, Kamila takes a good look at him. "Sissy? Is that really you?"
As if in answer, Sissel gives an almost human nod of the head, and Kamila smiles.
Inspector Cabanela begins remembering when Detective Jowd drops the hint.
The party was fun while it lasted, of course, but now was the time to leave. Lynne was already whistling Missile out the front door, finally able to duck away under the pretense of not wanting to be late for her first day on her dream job and promises to come again. Cabanela was hanging back for old time's sake, chatting on animatedly with his friend while Alma and the little lady went to the back; Alma to clean up the dishes, Kamila to finally put away her contraption with reluctance. Grinning, Cabanela laughed as the cat bounded up to him, glancing at his suit. Both men laughed and waited for his reaction.
Sissel retched up a furball onto the suit.
Jowd was now hysterical, boisterous heaves of his belly corresponding to the rich laugh coming from his mouth, but Cabanela pulled away the hem of his suit from the cat with a disappointed look. Kicking up the bottom of the suit, he looks at the yellowed saliva spot with disdain and sighs. "Animalistic instincts…nothing like it, baby."
He says it without his usual flair. Jowd's eyes twinkle, and he waves a final goodbye and shuts the door with a final word.
"I guess Sissel can't very well call you 'the man in white' anymore, eh, old friend?"
The cat follows him out through the cat flap, and he glances down sadly. "You just haaaad to ruin this good man's suit, didn't you, booooy?"
The cat, as if to rub in the point, deposits a large amount of grass and cat hair over his suit.
"You can't call me much of anything now, can ya? Then again, you're a cat, you can't speak at all."
The cat follows Cabanela to his bicycle, and he stops to shoo him off, but he stays resolute and mewing.
"My own personal stalker, huh? Nothing like the sound of that, baby!"
But something is off, yes, quite so. His detective instinct is buzzing like a hornet's nest, and he remember something off.
Jowd knows full well that this old cat can't speak.
The cat, who looks up at the Inspector, yowls in alarm when a fierce yell of "CABANELA!" issues from the general direction of the doorway. Looking up, he sees Jowd striding over with a wide smile on his face, holding out something blue in his hand.
"You left this on a hook in the house," he said, obviously amused by something. "And the tag is still on it."
Flushing the same shade of red as the cat's scarf, Cabanela flips the object—a soft knit cap—over to find the note inscribed To Cabbie, From Mum. Covering it up with his trademark grin, he shoved the hat onto his head, grinning. "I just looooove knit caps. So warm…and most of all, so soft."
He stops short, looks at the cat, and looks back up at Jowd. He's said that phrase before, and suddenly he remembers under what circumstance. He swallows, looks up, looks down, and looks up again, for once in his life speechless as he points at the cat. "He—you—I—manipulator—that's him?"
Sissel purrs in affirmation, and Jowd throws a flabbergasted Cabanela a sly wink before whistling to Sissel and making his way back towards the door. Sissel follows with an amused twitch of the whiskers, leaving Cabanela to clamber onto his bike in the first show of clumsiness in five years.
The junkyard super begins remembering when he begins to forget.
He doesn't know why he's still researching Temsik, to be honest. Nothing major has happened with it, nothing was killed by it, and he's given up a perfectly good, well-paying job to flock among the pigeons for the sake of this rock. Sometimes, he quite hates it.
But it's an enigma, and he never could quite let it go. Sometimes he himself didn't even know why.
Well, not completely. Because whenever he thinks Temsik, almost as if in reply, he thinks Sissel.
Again, completely confusing. But the shroud of mystery around it is deep, and his friend got injured by it, so he goes on.
He thinks with slight amusement on another Sissel, the cat of aforesaid friend that was a stray in the park on the day Temsik fell. How does he fit into the picture, along with the mystery of that giant mascot-on-a-lampost or the subconscious movement of Yomiel? How did that cat go unconscious without a scratch? Starvation? Unlikely. He'd been walking and meowing and doing all the things normal strays do less than ten minutes ago. The mystery annoys the junkyard super to no end. But no one's solved it, no one looks at it, so he keeps going.
He clambers into the crater, and a sudden gust of wind envelops his head as he waves the radiation detector around. Patting the top of his head, he scowls—Lovey-dove has gone off to rock with that hooligan with the spiky hair again. Shrugging, he waves the detector around, wondering again why he is doing this. Coming up blank, he stows the device in his pocket before freezing.
This is a breaking of routine. He has not thought Sissel in association with Temsik.
He doesn't like forgetting this. Then again, he doesn't like forgetting anything. He never did, either, when he could help it. Not even in death—
As Lovey-dove usually does when he is about to leave, he flits back, hauling a thick blue body with him. The junkyard super grimaces—he really should stop feeding that obese pigeon table scraps. Bending toward the super's pocket, Lovey-dove hauls up the radiation detector, cooing softly and staring straight into the super's eyes.
There's another time he's seen his pet pigeon like this, in the same position, then—
And he remembers an aching sort of aftershock coursing through his spine, a knot of worry in the pit of his stomach, and telling Lovey-Dove in a rather stern voice: don't drop it, it has Mr. Ghost in it.
Mr. Ghost. And, from listening to Jowd on the Yonoa, the ghost's name was…
Lovey-dove spirals up into the sky, holding the detector next to a hook on the lamppost, and the junkyard super slowly conjures up a smile.
The justice minister begins to remember when he signs an execution order.
He thoroughly hates this job sometimes, knowing that someone's life is in his hands. He knows he is a foolish, weak-hearted man. He doesn't deserve this job. But someone needs to do it, and that someone might as well be him.
He goes through orders, and it's all the usual: petty arguments, petitions to give praise where praise is do, prison term extensions, bail and parole.
And then he reaches the execution order.
It is a woman, a loving mother with a healthy family, with one small flaw—
The father is dead. The woman killed him.
She pleads guilty, the evidence all points to it, she even wants the death sentence, breaking down during her trial until finally sobbing, begging the jury to let her join her husband in heaven.
Every piece of evidence points to it until it is almost overwhelmingly obvious, but the justice minister, for some odd reason, feels an unexplainable urge to protect this person. He can't explain it, he doesn't understand it, but he feels an odd aversion to signing this order. He glances at the signature line, he glances at his fountain pen, and he shrugs and signs it. His handwriting is shaky, and the paper is splattered with stray ink droplets when he finally lays down the pen and puts his head in his hands.
His wife enters, customary glass of red wine in her hand, and takes a glance over the document before laying a hand on his shoulder. "If she deserves it and wants it, give it to her." That is all she says, and she leaves with a comforting pat on the shoulder. The man smiles. At least he has a loving family standing by his side. As he turns toward the open door, indeed, he sees Amelie smiling under her mother's arm. Emma shoots a smile backwards before ushering them both out the door.
He looks at the document and sighs, but decides to go forth. Summoning a footman, he claps his hands over his head.
He lowers his hand and stares at them quizzically. He has never clapped his hands over his head before.
But he remembers, once, doing the same motion, watching helplessly as the document bearing his signature but not his approval exited the room, heading toward an unfortunate soul who was to die with his own confession as evidence—and indeed, perhaps, nothing else. He remembers that feeling, of taking another life. And he remembers, later that night, the pity he felt for the prisoner's daughter, kidnapped for the price of the death of her own father.
And he remembers dying himself and wondering what Amelie would think.
A soldier snaps into the hallway, stern and saluting, standing a fair distance from the table, and suddenly the lost years catch up on him in a flash that leaves him with realizations that make him rethink the whole order. He watches the footman pick up the document, keeping a respectful distance, and realizes he is no longer the wishy-washy man he was in the other version of ten-years-ago.
"Come closer," he beckons, smiling invitingly, and the footman does. The justice minister smiles, the furrows on his brow disappear, and he nods toward the execution order.
"Don't deliver that document."
The boy in the park remembers when he sees the family taking a walk in the park.
Not the family, per say—a family and two family friends are more like it. He has never seen them before, but he approaches them with the customary leaflet in his hand and the customary sentence in his mouth: 'Stop the park from charging admission! Protect the rights of those who live here!'
The words die in his throat, quite abruptly.
All he needs to do is take one look at the red-headed girl and he remembers. It does not seem like it happened in an alternate timeline. Rather, it seems like it happened in the very near past. He doesn't know why he remembers it so well. Maybe it is because, in that past lifetime, his life's goal was centered around that very girl, this very park, that very crater.
"Stop the park from turning into a housing site. Protect this park, and the rock of the gods," he says in a feeble voice, for old time's sake, and they crack twin smiles before Lynne waves goodbye and they walk their separate ways.
The boy is not at all sad. He will be here every day, still hammering hard at a goal he wants to achieve. And if the girl wants, maybe she can come visit, and they can work on catching up with their memories.
The first thing Yomiel does once out of prison is hug Sissel, his fiancée, until they're both reduced to sobbing masses at the bottom of the prison lobby. Finally, the receptionist has the tact and heart to boot them out, so Yomiel tells Sissel a cock-and-bull story about thanking the witness who spoke in favor of him during his trial—a man by the name of Jowd, who told the jury how he had attempted to make amends by letting himself be crushed under Mino as opposed to the girl who he had taken hostage.
Letting himself into the house, he is surprised that Sissel is the first to sense him. Leaping up and curling into his lap, Yomiel laughs as Sissel purrs until Jowd appears, pleasantly surprised, and manages to summon up enough gusto to tell Yomiel's finacee that the cat has the same name as her. She laughs it off and is led away by Alma to exchange small talk.
Finally, it is just the three of them. It is companionable silence—the first time Yomiel is out of jail, the first time so many of the four at Temsik Park got together. Finally, Jowd winks and leaves as Kamila calls him from her room. Then it is just Yomiel and his old friend.
Flipping over, Sissel asks for a tummy rub, which Yomiel obliges too. However, mid-stroke, he pauses before laying two fingers on Sissel's stomach.
He doesn't have a pulse.
He remembers what Jowd said about the cat at the report—where every circumstance of the case had to be recorded—when he said it was unconscious, but there was not a scratch on him. He looks at him with a sad, quizzical smile, and Sissel nods.
"I'm sorry, that should have been me."
But Yomiel knows Sissel means it when he twitches his tail in an eh, it'll be fine manner, because he knows this is what Sissel deserves. To spend the rest of his days still saving, still helping, doing a better job with his powers than Yomiel ever could have done. This is what Sissel wants, even. To continue doing something good. Penance. And Yomiel understands that because sometimes he wishes he had the courage to do that too.
So they sit there, man and cat, while the world turns, the clock chimes, and life goes on.