The flicker of the streetlights shimmered off of her deep auburn eyes in the blanket of the night. Though the noise of the city never ceased, it dared not approach her now, as the rain that had snuck into the scene was nothing but a drip in comparison to the tears held behind her eyes by sheer will alone. In the distance, the solitary of an equally woeful piano swept through the wind, but she could not hear them above her heartbeat. Only the lonely howl of a departing airliner touched her, making her shiver with sad acceptance. She knew full well that this day was always coming, always waiting in the shadows. But for just a few days, that didn’t matter. She was with him once again. She was happy once again, and nothing was going to sully a dream so precious, regardless of lifespan.
With only the chill of the sorrow to keep her company, she hadn’t heard his approach, one slow, weighted step at a time. Still, with but a word in that gruffly smooth voice, the temperature in her cheeks spiked. “Rise…”
Her pulse jumped almost as high as her smile as she turned to face him, “I was wondering if you were going to come. Actually,…I was hoping you’d be late. Just by a few minutes,” The thought of Souji Seta being late, just once in his life, made the vibrancy return to her senses, though her shoulders dropped. She knew him better than that. That wouldn’t have been the man Rise Kujikawa fell in love with.
Still, would it have killed him to surprise me, just this once? she let herself muse.
Souji grinned in return, brushing shining silver locks from his brow “The thought had crossed my mind. Calling up my partners in Huston and telling them to just start without me.” Reaching out to her, he let his palm warm her cheek, which she gladly nuzzled into. “After all, I finally caught you between tours and commercial shoots.”
Rise chuckled, gripping his snug hand in lithe fingers “For you, I always save a backstage pass. Watching from a world away just isn’t the same…” One by one, the memories began to collapse her resolve not to cry. The magazine shoot in Osaka that took an entire day because she couldn’t stop blushing at his gaze The sold-out concert in Seoul when she was late to the stage thanks to him somehow tossing her stockings over the dressing room mirror. The last time they were both in the small town of Inaba, spending a sunset at the shrine where they first kissed…
At first, they came one by one, warm trails of love and longing gracing her flushed guise. But there was nothing to hold them back now, and a woman so schooled in performance could not hide painfully real heartbreak.
And just as he did so many years ago, Souji wrapped her in a comfortably strong embrace, the last feeling she needed to keep her composure, but the one she desired most of all. Rise sobbed and held onto him with every bit of strength se could muster. Caring members snaked their ways through russet locks as he knew she loved, tightening her arms around his torso.
If time stopped now and never restarted, Rise would never want for anything more than this. If not for the notes whispering past them by a watchful maestro, there would be no way to judge the passing of seconds or centuries. What jolted her senses back into their right mind was something Souji had not done for a long time. Each whisper resonated from his voice and to her very soul, the tune soft but brimming with emotion meant only for her.
In a way, Souji understood better than most how hard the life of a starlet could be. The snap of a director’s fingers, and Rise Kujikwa would transform into whatever the public desired; actress, pop idol, or simple a beautified face to be desired and chased. It was a path that once claimed all but the last slivers of her being and her life, twisting and corrupting everything she understood about the world.
Yet when the shadows of her world swallowed her down into the black, one hand dared to rip them back open to find her. Not the idol of so many posters or damsel clad so scantily . With it came more than simple salvation from her own broken self, it gave her a place and a cause to call her own. And closest to her heart, it gave her Souji Seta. Even if their moments were contained to blessed thought or loving wisp, they were the foundations of her true self now.
Rise couldn’t help but chuckle softly into his chest at that. Sure, Souji was dashing sometimes, and brash during others and always unshakable. But his confidence was never arrogant or inflated, in fact it was gentle. She knew deep down that even if his words said the reverse, he never want to slow down her dreams. To her, it was almost a silly notion, however noble. However long she was in the spotlight and bringing joy and entertainment to the world, her hopes for the future and everything to come were never without him.
Until I send for you,
Don’t wear your hair that way
If you cannot be true,
Tell all the others,
You’ll hold in your arms
That I said I’d come back for you
I’ll leave my jacket to keep you warm
That’s all that I can do
As if summoned by his will alone, a new weight wrapped around her shuddering shoulders. It was warm and it carried his touch, the coat tails reaching almost to her calves. How exactly Souji managed to snake off his own coat an ensnare her within it, she did neither understood nor questioned. No sooner was it secured around her did his lips grace her cheek ever so lightly. Even if such a sensation broke into the last wells of her tears, Rise’s smile grew stronger.
She wanted to lose herself in that one last moment forever, to forget the world and simply live in his warmth. But just like Souji, he was gone by the time she could open her eyes again. Like the breeze that curled across her nose, he had come, however briefly, took her heart within his ever-caring palm, and gave her something to cherish and hold just as close. For that she would sing just for him, no matter how many stood before her raining down adulation.
Rise finally opened her eyes when her fingers tickled against something in the coat pocket, something so simple, but so familiar. The paper crinkled in-between her nails as she pulled out the miniature avian. Crafted with expert technique, the crane carried on its wings their names, on its tail their connection and in its heart, their future, forever immortalized by a small shining silver band.
This is a little something that I haven’t done in a long time, and I do miss being able to do it as often. This scene is based on the Tom Waits song “If I Have to Go“, which I heard only once before this story wrote itself in my head and I had to get it out of there. Course, this means I haven’t gone over it with a fine-tooth editor like I usually do, so it might need some smoothing. Why do creativity and sleep seem to be mortal enemies?
Still, I hope you all enjoy.