Title: dead men and the dawning
Rating/Pairings: PG. Gen.
Summary: Survivors, looking at Tokyo Tower. Tokyo Tower, the survivor.
Notes: Written for the x2009 fic challenge, Sept. 2008, originally posted at LJ; edited Sept. 2014. Title is from Pablo Neruda's poem "The Word" (trans. Alastair Reid).
There are no bones mingled with fallen girders, no more bones to be seen—worn away by the elements in a vicious cycle of ice and rain, transformed into dust that the wind scatters to all crevices of the city. In the night, as in the day, the tower's faded white and orange shades of paint are indistinguishable from each other, blending into a confused muddle of shifting grays to accompany the darkness.
This is the nexus of all connections; it stands high with a singularly disinterested stare across the mutating city, for the scent of spilled blood has long since dissipated into thin air.
The woman stops by every weekend on her walks and stands under the nearby tree for shade, idly stroking her companion behind the ears and listening to his pleased growl.
"I do wish that they would let the students visit you again," she says on her last visit, tilting her head in a quick, sharp movement as she stares up at the top; or tries to, at least, but the clouds obscure her view. "It's said you'll have to be brought down soon—they call you structurally unsound. But you really aren't, are you?"
She smiles at her companion's answering bark and glances up at the tree; it is, curiously, still the green of leaves brimming over with life which ought to falter at the onset of autumn, but does not. Affinities, just like memories, linger on long after people have come and gone from the earth, for the earth remembers every little imprint.
Raising a hand, she brushes her bangs out of her face and leads her dog onward.
"Daddy, what is de—de-ton-ashun?"
"Detonation?" He looks up from the newspaper, folding it up crisply so the headline Detonation planned for Tokyo Tower can no longer be seen. "That's when you use something to blow something else up." (Not the pain and the fear that comes with explosions, but a clean break, a carefully designed destruction. And he wonders if there could be anyone who would have the ability to destroy in such a carefully designed way. Wishes, too, that he could have the ability to save.)
"Oh." His daughter blinks—cute, adorable daughter, my family, he thinks, family, family, family—and the persistent pain from his old chest wound suddenly compounds with the dull ache that comes from thinking of his parents—if only they could be here to see him now. Mother, father, you would love her so. "I should have taken you there sometime," he says. "I used to go up to the observation deck and look out over Tokyo."
Her eyes are wide with the prospect. "But wait, why not?"
"They won't let us any more." He leans back in his chair and gestures to her; she comes, smiling cheerfully, and throws her arms around his neck. The warmth settles inside him deeply, like a cup of tea slowly sipped, when the sun has just peeked over the horizon and the air is crisp and clear. "Maybe they'll build a new tower, okay? The city isn't very pretty now even after all these years. Or I'll take you up in a plane and then you—" he suddenly stands up, lifting her up into the air "—you can see it all!"
She shrieks and kicks and giggles, and he begins to laugh. If he closes his eyes and thinks of old Tokyo, just so—the image remains vivid in his mind. A bedtime story tonight, and the ending left for later.
Five meters to the left. He moves, picking up his equipment, and trudges over. The positioning is done now, he knows; somewhere, a block away or more, a person stands over the trigger with the sober anticipation of only one order. Done because of an order, not done because they simply are.
He recalls all too well the feeling—no cruelty, no dark joy, simply that he was, was the counter to Kamui's is am was will, and that was how destiny wanted it.
There is no destiny which leads them now.
—and when the sound of the blast reaches him, a millisecond after the tower shudders abruptly, he traces the metal twisting through the air with the same disinterested look into which he habitually lapses. If people are to look through him and see another, why should he not do the same?—
They once did, at least. He has been stripped of his role as a mirror, just as the unyielding dictates of a carved-off fate have been stripped from the world. Fate was not fortunate in choosing the one person who had the power of choice in the end.
He glances down; sees a shard of glass glinting faintly through the dust. In its dirtied reflection, it takes a moment before he recognizes himself.
There are bones jutting up into the air, bones of blasted steel and jagged glass that emerge from the night as the sky welcomes the sun, to stand with a terrible majesty in defiance of their destruction. The steel shines soft silver upon clouded glass, through which nothing is seen but the hint of brightening light.
As dawn yawns idly and stretches itself across the sky, it grasps at the points of metal girders and shattered windows, painting the dying heap with fingerprints the color of washed-out blood.
And so this is the inheritance;
this is the wavelength which connects us
with dead men and the dawning
of new beings not yet come to light.
—Pablo Neruda, "The Word"