Five Centimeters Per Second
Or, the five times Gill let Angela slip through his fingers and the one time he caught her.
A/N: Dear AsianFlipGurl, I hope your Christmas and New Years bring you all kinds of joy. Also, I hope you enjoy my gift to you and that it satisfies your Gill x Angela craving! (;
Disclaimer: Title belongs to Makoto Shinkai.
Angela was radiant and not just because the summer sun made her skin glow in a way Gill hadn't seen for months or because it made her eyes burn like two mini supernovas' or because she was wearing that smile which could light up a city. No, she was radiant because today she had succeeded in spinning straw into gold or more specifically in ringing the five bells and restoring the town to its former glory.
As she became swathed in embraces and cheek kisses and "Congratulations!"it became all the more apparent to Gill how much Angela burned, blazed in comparison to the towns folk.
Of course, if he had been more of a man he would have been front and centre of the melee, whispering his own quiet praise and hugging her tightly in gratitude. After all, they had both been fierce and unyielding in their determination to save the Town and she had had succeeded where he had fallen short.
It was a lovely harmony, Gill thought, the ghost of the five bells chiming in everyone's ear and the ecstatic cheering of the town's folk (Luke in particular). More so, it was a reminder that this girl – who had tumbled into their lives only two year ago – was their saviour. It had been awe inducing watching the bells breathe life into the oceans, restore vibrancy to their trees and balance to a land lost to desolation.
Chase's sharp voice sliced through the rumble of noise, "Drinks on the house at the Brass Bar!" His words set off a new wave of cheers as people rapidly dispersed towards the promise of free wine and beer.
During this, Angela broke through the disintegrating crowd towards Gill. He couldn't help but smile at her and the pride that echoed in her eyes. Through the two years they had worked together, he had come to admire the farmer's selfless drive and in recent months that admiration had transformed into a crush of sorts. Looking at her now, so overcome with delight for saving the village, it simply reaffirmed Gills feelings and sent a wave of butterflies buzzing in his stomach.
"You never were a fan of crowds were you?" She teased lightly, waving a hand towards the various huddles of people who lingered on her farm.
"I find such commotion unnecessary, regardless of how worthy the cause may be." He explained, choosing not to mention how he simply lacked the courage of an extrovert.
Angela ran her tiny fingers through her brown curls and in the same teasing tone replied, "Oh, I thought it was because you didn't want to crinkle your outfit."
Shrugging, he said, "That would be quite devastating also."
"So the 'saving of the land' isn't a good enough reason to pick up the iron?" She asked with a tinkling laugh.
He tossed a lazy finger in the direction of the empty land, "I'm afraid you've lost your chance to find out." Gill focused on her and the way her whole body seemed to tremble when she laughed.
Angela struck a hand on her hip and changed the subject, "Anyway, I didn't come over here to discuss laundry priorities."
Gill smirked, "I'm shocked."
"I just wanted to thank you. I mean, you've done so much for this town for so long and it seems that I just took credit for everything when in reality I couldn't have summoned the Harvest King without you." She took a deep breath before more words gushed out, "And I think you're going to make an amazing mayor so when the time comes I'll support you like you supported me."
"I don't quite know what to say expect that I appreciate your words." Gill replied honestly. Hearing those words from Angela seemed to melt something inside of him that he didn't know existed and once again he found himself stunned by Angela's kindness.
"Well lucky for you that was the reaction I was hoping for." Angela smiled that smile at him and squeezed his shoulder gently, "Anyway, I better be off before all the wine runs out. You'd be surprised how quickly Calvin can down those glasses and still see straight."
"Wait, Angela!" Gill called out and suddenly, against a backdrop of newly revived ocean waves and whirling breezes, Gill knew that he needed to tell her how indebted he was to her. Yet instead the words that needed saying drowned in his throat and he asked, "What was the Harvest King like? I've always been curious."
"The Harvest Gods magnificent. He's like a living sunrise, just looking at him gives you hope."
"How lucky you are then to have met him." Once again, gratitude stirred on his lips but he couldn't follow through because behind his "Thank you" would simmer every three worded sentence he couldn't bring himself to say.
Instead Gill scribbled them down in his diary in the late hours of the night, long after he had bid Angela farewell for the second time, because there was no intimidating glow of heroism or fear for rejection in their yellowed pages.
I fancy you, I like you, I adore you, I want you, I (maybe) love you.
Gill was at Anissa and Jin's wedding party, a glass of scotch pressed to his lips and his eyes trained on the brunette farmer.
He was watching the way she smiled as she was doing those silly little shimmies or shakes that she calls dancing and the way her eyes would light up as soon as Owen and Luke joined in. The sound of her laugh trickled all the way through the room just to tease him and make him miserable in his own little, secluded corner.
It wasn't fair. Not fair at all. Gill wasn't used to this, all the irregular heart beats and insecurities and heaving breathing and blushing.
It would be a lot easier if he just grabbed his jacket, downed the rest of his scotch, wrote in his diary and went to bed.
Still, it couldn't be that difficult asking Angela to dance. After all, Luke – Luke, of all people - had been able to. All it would take was grabbing her hand, all delicate twirling and sashaying hips, and drawing her into his arms.
Simple, Gill thought. He procrastinated though, drinking his scotch in tiny sips, fixing the curl of his hair, brushing non-existent creases from his pants. As he finally turned away to set his glass down, taking a little longer than normal to find the perfect spot, he spun back around to find that Angela was gone.
The farmer had disappeared leaving Gill staring through a haze of disbelief at Luke and Selena who were meshed together in a slow dance, Maya and her expectant glances at Chase and Calvin toasting with Luna on the sidelines.
Disappointed, he scanned the room again but there was still no sign of her. Sighing, Gill filled up his glass again, adding an extra shot this time, and pretended that he didn't care as he stood in his corner.
He showed up at Angela's house in the middle of winter with a gift of green ear muffs and a nervous smile adorning his lips. In a moment of hesitation he leaned against the hard, chestnut door and contemplated just turning around and forgetting about giving Angela his present. He bit hard on his bottom lip, tugged a few stray threads from his waistcoat and forced his other hand to tap on the brass door knocker – he had come this far after all.
"Hi Gill." Angela chirped, "What brings you here so early?"
"I just wanted to give you this" Gill inhaled and kept going, "I just saw them lying around and thought of you, it's nothing special." Nervous, he thrust the gift into her out stretched arms.
"It's from you so regardless of what it is I'm sure I'll cherish it." Angela hesitated for a moment, "Do you mind if I open it later? Since you're here there's something I've been meaning to ask you."
"I have no objections so continue with what you were saying."
"Well you know how it's the starry night festival next week?" Angela began tentatively, one hand leaning against the door and the other clutching the present.
"As someone who has lived here his entire life and who incidentally happens to be the son of the Mayor, I had no idea." Gill replied with a scathe and snark that rivalled Chase's tongue.
"I'm going to ignore that ruthless display of sarcasm and get straight to the point; do you want to go with me?"
Gill looked at her, cocking his head in disbelief, his breath exhaling clouds of smoke, "Sure why not."
"Great." She replied. Angela's face seemed to light up and her lips curved into a smile that could melt the snow at their feet.
"I'll be seeing you then; my paper work isn't going to do itself. I hope you like your gift." As he turned to go, Angela reached out and captured his wrist.
"One last thing," Angela said, tilting her head upwards in the direction of a cluster of dark green leaves and white berries; Mistletoe. "As the future mayor of this town, I'd hate to find out that you didn't have any sense of tradition."
"T-Tradition is important I suppose." Gill spluttered, his embarrassment weaving itself into the fabrics of his resolve. Blushing furiously but somewhat more composed he continued, "Okay Angela, I'll humour you in the spirit of Christmas." The barest hint of a blush crept down the back of Gill's neck.
Despite the tempting allure of Angela's lips, Gill found his mouth grazing her cheek lightly before pulling away swiftly. It was a cordial peck – professional even – and the exact opposite of how he wanted to kiss her. Cheeks aflame with humiliation, he stared down the ground and refused to meet Angela's stare.
Giggling softly, she murmured, "Thank you Gill." Before she closed the door, Angela met his eyes briefly and as blue met brown he couldn't help but note the amused sparkle in her gaze.
Whispers of regret rained down on him as he trudged and shivered and slid up the snowy path. Gill couldn't help but let his mind imagine what would have happened if he had just pulled Angela into his arms and smiled and laughed and kissed her mirth away.
But the magic was broken, the moment lost and he was once again left with a chagrin that lingered for days.
Winter truly was remarkable in Harmonica Town and on the Starry Night festival this fact rung truer than ever. Gill took a moment to himself to appreciate this; the way the stars wove a dazzling magic as they twinkled, the way the moons silver glow entranced his stare, the way his breath danced in hypnotic, eerie wisps in front of his face.
"Gill!" Angela's voice rang out and he turned to meet her shadowy figure. "You came!"
"Why wouldn't I? It goes against everything I stand for to break my word." Gill tucked his hands into his knees, the cold finally getting to them.
"I know but I thought you might decide that signing documents was more exciting or something."
"Do I really seem that dedicated?" He pretended to be offended but Angela could tell from the tense of his jaw that he was biting back a sheepish grin.
"Well you're here now so I guess not. Anyway, I made you something. I've had these tomatoes lying around since summer and I needed to use them up. It's not special or anything." Mimicking his words from earlier, she handed him a small container of Tomato juice.
"Thank you very much Angela, I can tell this is going to be delicious."
"You're most welcome."
A peaceful lull enveloped the pair as they both sat side by side, mesmerized by the view. Slowly, ohso slowly, Angela placed her dainty hand on Gills and his breath caught in his throat. With a pounding heart, Gill laced his fingers through Angela's and clasped on tightly. He brushed her skin lightly with his thumb, exploring the incredible sensation of Angela's skin on his.
"Gill, there's something I want to tell you." Angela said; all shaky whispers and jittery words. He didn't hear her though or feel the way her hands were shaking in his. Instead, his attention was drawn to a striking, purple haired figure in the distance whose arms were splayed around Calvin's waist.
"Is that Luna and Calvin?" Gill's mouth gaped as he watched the pair. The tenderness of their embrace was not lost on a disbelieving Gill. Instead, what was lost was the look of hurt that flashed across Angela's delicate features as he interrupted her.
"No, it's that other person we know that wears an Indiana Jones hat." Angela's irritation was clear in the furrow of her brows and the snideness of her tone but Gill remained oblivious.
"What a simply ridiculous couple." He stated, shaking his head.
"They look happy to me." Angela kept her voice soft. She began to dust the build-up of snow from her shoulders, her right hand still entwined with Gills.
"For now, but the lifestyles they lead are far too different for a relationship to ever flourish." Gill had spent countless hours observing the townsfolk over the years so when it came to relationships he couldn't help but consider himself an expert on who belonged with whom. In his opinion, Calvin had always complimented the eccentric, mechanic Phoebe and given their close proximity day after day Gill had assumed it had only been a matter of time before the inevitable couple emerged.
"So you're saying that even though Calvin is at his happiest when he's laughing at Luna's jokes, it won't work because of their opposing lifestyles?"
"Exactly." Gill drew out the words and Angela shot him a pained smile, "I'm certain it will only end it heart break, such relationships always do." Shock and surprise was making Gill come to the conclusion that because he hadn't predicated this couple or approved them together, their love simply wasn't legitimate.
"You know, I should probably go. Thanks for the evening Gill, it was very eye opening. I hope you enjoy the juice."
This time Gill wasn't ignorant to the way her words tumbled out in angry surges. Nor did he miss the way Angela yanked her hand out of his and stormed off, all chin jutted out and stiff shoulders, without giving him a chance to even say goodbye.
Once he eventually swallowed his pride, he sat at the Brass Bar, red wine in one hand, ready to hear some advice on what he had done wrong. The reactions of Maya and Chase when he told the couple about his Starry Night with Angela were a tormenting mix of sighs, pity and derisive laughter from the latter
Chase ran his fingers through his hair, "I can't believe this idiot is going to be running our town." Maya shushed her boyfriend, kicking his toes lightly underneath the table with her foot.
Chase rolled the rim of the glass along his lower lip for a moment, "Look, in all seriousness, Angela thinks your opinion on Calvin and Luna applies to you and her."
Gill looked at Chase in disbelief and Maya, clucking her tongue in disapproval, took over, "When you said that Luna and Calvin wouldn't work because of their lifestyles, she felt like she was Calvin and you were Luna. I mean a farmer and a mayor are very, very different if you think about it." Groaning, Gill placed his fist on his mouth.
"But that's not how I feel at all." He said softly, his hand still obscuring his lips.
"We know that but she doesn't."
Berating his foolish tongue, he took another sip of his wine and contemplated how he was going to fix the situation. It was funny in an entirely humourless way how Gill could solve a shipping crisis or a town dispute but his mind fumbled on how to tell a girl he loved her.
He was an idiot. Really, he was. It was already New Year's Eve and Angela had been giving him a cold shoulder frostier than the snowflakes swirling around him. It was almost heart breaking how her eyes no longer shone like stars for him when he passed her in the town.
Following Maya's advice, Gill had decided to confront her at midnight and let his lips do all the talking against hers. Maybe then, at the stroke of midnight, he could finally do something right with his mouth when he kissed her.
Gill had assumed Angela would avoid him during the festivities, had anticipated those sad smiles she tossed his way these days. What he hadn't expected was that she wouldn't come. In fact, he refused to believe it. Surely, surely, Angela would be here somewhere.
Yet as the minutes meandered closer and closer to midnight, he still couldn't find her. Angela wasn't gossiping with the girls in some quiet, secluded corner or even teasing, joking, laughing with the carpenters.
As the countdown began, and more and more villagers recited variations of the line, "No, I'm afraid I haven't seen Angela. If you find her, tell her I said hi," Gill had to accept that she simply wasn't coming.
With a boom, boom, boom the first, second, third firework struck the pitch sky and ignited it flashes of rainbow. Couples everywhere collided with each other; Chase tenderly kissed Maya, Anissa and Jin shared a loving peck, Calvin and Luna wrapped their arms around each other, their lips meeting shortly after.
Emptiness settled in his stomach as he continued to watch the fireworks shimmer and glisten in the sky as they left trails of red, yellow, pink, blue stars on the horizon.
Later Maya would tell him that Angela was just embarrassed at what she assumed was his subtle rejection and wanted to lie low. "It's a girl thing," She would explain.
Later than that, after a few more glasses of wine, Chase would tell him he was a spineless idiot who needed to man up and confess because he was sick of him third wheeling on "Chase and Maya" time.
Gill agreed wholeheartedly.
Looking more goddess then human, Gill spotted Angela sitting against a cherry blossom tree, her eyes closed in relaxation, and shoulders rising and falling gently. It was a typical flower festival, with refreshing warmth caressing the villager's skin, and pink petals spiralling down on Gill in mini hurricanes.
Gill swallowed loudly, licked his lips, took a deep breath and headed over to where she was. This was it. The now or never moment Gill had been waiting almost a year for. He counted the stray cherry blossoms that had tangled themselves in her hair, the petals that had spilled onto her shoulders and the ones nestled in her lap before he said anything.
"Did you know that cherry blossoms fall at an average rate of five centimeters per second?" Gill began, as he sat down next to her, "I read that the other day and you were the first thing that sprang to mind."
Angela bristled at his company and as she opened her mouth to say something Gill shook his head, his blue eyes pleading with hers for silence, "The reason I thought of you was because that's how I fell for you. Five centimeterss per second. As constantly as these blossoms falling, everything you did made me love you a little more. Nothing excuses my actions and regardless of your feelings for me, I need to tell you how much I appreciate the way you selflessly give yourself to this town and how much I love you for that."
Gill's words seemed to physically melt Angela and thaw her cool expression, "I don't think I've ever felt this excited by a statistic." She replied honestly, with flaming cheeks and a pearly smile.
With a tentative hand, Gill brushed the blossoms out of Angela's soft tresses and watched them flutter to the ground. He leaned in slowly but Angela placed a finger to his lips and whispered in his ear, lips skimming the lobe and hair tickling his chin, "Please, doesn't kiss me on the cheek this time, okay?"
He happily obliged.
Merry Christmas to everyone! Stay safe, happy and well.