Disclaimer: It's Maki Murakami's sandbox; I just play in it. I do not own the series or the rights to these characters nor do I make any money from them.
Rating/Warnings: T for some romantic bonding and a rude word.
It's a beautiful day. The sky is a perfect cloudless blue.
It's been a long time since we returned here as we don't live in the neighborhood anymore. The park doesn't look that much different from the way it did before, though.
We take the path on which we met. I walk as close to Eiri as I can without tripping or bumping into him, but he doesn't hold my hand. Far be it from him to indulge in romantic gestures. That's only to be expected, I suppose. I'm happy just getting him to agree to come here.
He snorted when I reminded him that today was the anniversary of the day we first met. "Reminded" might be an exaggeration. "Told" might be more accurate because from year to year he forgets when it was that we met. He's not big on anniversaries or occasions or dates.
He rolled his eyes when I told him I wanted to return here. But it's a Saturday afternoon and he has nothing better to do - at least that's what he said - so here we are.
When we get to the exact spot where he was standing when he picked up my lyrics, glared at me, and trashed them, I ask, "If you had it to do all over again, would you?"
"Do what all over again?"
Has he forgotten where we are? "Criticize my lyrics."
"Why would I need to 'do it all over again', as you put it? I still criticize your lyrics, don't I?"
True enough. It doesn't matter what I write, he criticizes it. It's gotten to be something of a running joke between us because what I write can't all be equally bad.
"Would you be just as mean if you ran into me and picked up those lyrics for the first time today?"
He takes a drag on his ever-present cigarette and appears to reflect. "Probably. Would you have even noticed me if I'd handed them back to you and said nothing?"
"Probably not, but you could have been nicer – much nicer!"
"Be honest. Wasn't part of the reason you chased me to prove that I was wrong about you and your lyrics? Would you have tried to find me again if I had been nicer about them?"
"You're making it sound like you said those things deliberately so I would fall for you!"
"You're crazy if you think that I was trying to get you to fall for me. All I'm saying is that if I hadn't been a rotten bastard to you, you would never have pursued me and we wouldn't be together now. Seems to me like it was worth it."
"I hadn't thought about it that way," I say, and take his hand in mine. I pretend not to notice that he's admitted that our relationship is worth the suffering and heartache with which it began and which almost ended it several times.
"That," Eiri says, "is why I'm the brains of this partnership." I know it will get me nowhere to argue with him about it, so I don't. I'm misty-eyed about our past and he's not.
Under a cloudless sky, we walk out of the park hand in hand to the car and head back to the home we've shared, in various forms, for almost four years now. I pray and hope that we have many more years together to look forward to.