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lay me down in the star dust and reset

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Miki grips the handle of the bag, lips pursed as she took out her phone (again) to check the time. The screen tells her it hasn’t even been five minutes since she last checked it. Conclusion: one, she is horribly impatient and two, Akira is late.

Clicking her tongue, she slips it back into her handbag, shifting on her feet. She catches her reflection on the store’s window on the other side of the street. Miki cocks her head, watches her reflection do the same, and brushes out her skirt. The pale pink hue matches her shoes and looks amazing with the white top her mom got her.

Now if only her date would actually show up. “Damn,” she mutters to herself.

A mother walking by shoots her a glare, wrinkling her nose and practically shoving her child in front of her.

She blushes, mostly out of shame, but nonetheless is tempted to stick out her tongue at her back. Miki spent all morning getting ready. Hair, makeup, gagging out of sheer nervousness and repeating was hell.

She pushes a lock of short hair behind her ear and looks away from the reflection. All of this for him.

Her heart flutters behind her ribcage. After all of these years, they’re finally going on a date. If anyone told them when she was 10, Miki would’ve busted a gut from laughing. Now if they told her that she was the one who asked him, she would’ve pissed her pants. Her? Miki “The Hands” Makimura dating crybaby Akira? At that age, Miki tried to convince herself that he was nothing more than that. Now at 22, she’s nothing but jitters.

Her Mark, an intricate set of lines shaping into a circle, stands proudly on her leg. She’s being bold by wearing this skirt today of all days. But if she doesn’t, if she doesn’t do anything, then Miki will stay wondering and pondering about her Soulmate.

“Calm down, calm down.” But her heart thunders louder. Sighing loudly, she looks into her bag and pulls out a compact and some lip gloss. “So what if it’s been, like, four years since you last saw him?” If he agreed to this date as quickly as he did on the phone, Akira must still like her. That crush from their childhood didn’t disappear. Now, with her Mark proudly out, she’ll finally know if what her heart’s telling her is right.

She applies the gloss on her bottom lip then her upper. Plump, glossy, pink.

Sometimes, after she realized everything, Miki would find herself awake at night. Fear consuming her chest until it felt as if she was choking. Because what would’ve happened if his crush, his love, vanished before she even recognized her own?

Then more often than not, she fears the possibility that they aren’t Connected. If their Marks don’t match then what are these feelings? These damn feelings that make her feel dizzy and burst into laughter at the thought of him.

Miki stares at her face in her mirror. Tired. She looks so tired. Her lips twitch to make a smile. Now she only looks nervous. She sighs again and closes the compact before putting it back into her bag.

Last time Akira saw her in person was when they were 18. She doesn’t look like that anymore. She didn’t have her Mark until after he left, and she sometimes wonders if it was a blessing. Miki sighs again. Stop worrying, something deep inside of her whispers. Plus, the voice adds encouragingly, things will turn out fine, just wait and see!

They’ve traded photographs but never of their Marks. They never spoke of them, maybe because of Akira’s shy nature influencing her when she even thought about those things. But it doesn’t really matter. Just speaking to him makes Miki feel happy. They’ve skyped, faced-timed, sent emails and even letters in the time he went off exploring the old world.

With Ryo.

Leaning against the restaurant’s brick wall, she lets the cold steep into her body.

Ryo. Akira could never go without mentioning him once in their talks. Ryo haunts the backgrounds of the pictures he sends to her. Like the full moon, he’s brilliantly bright and cold. Beautiful but untouchable.

They’ve known each other longer than Miki and him have. Ryo, the amazing, rich, beautiful best friend. The first time she had the pleasure to meet him, she felt like a bug under his polished shoe. It didn’t matter. She turned her nose up at him just the same. They had nothing in common but Akira, and because of that, she thinks is why he tolerated her. As time went on, she felt an embarrassing (and odd) attraction to him. She chalked it up to nothing more but his hot face and ignored the butterflies.

That didn’t stop her envy however. One time she was so frustrated with the happiness, the pure bliss, in his tone when he mentioned Ryo, that she just asked him if they were Connected.  

Almost as soon she said it, Miki bit her tongue. Jealousy was disgusting, especially on her, but more than anything she felt ashamed for asking him when she didn’t have any right.

None whatsoever.

 (“Oh- Um I- Uh he’s-”

“No, never mind! Tell me more about Egypt!”)

That ended the exchange. But if he agreed to this date, with just as much happiness in his voice, that was just as good of an answer to her.

Miki nods to herself, checking her phone once again, and looking up. That’s right! Even if he loves Ryo, then she would-

What would she do? Would she if they were in love and Connected-

Ryo?

Miki stands up straighter, blinking.

At the street corner stood Ryo. Tall, taller than she remembered, slender limbed and that ethereal face. She only catches a glimpse of his profile before he turns his back to her, waiting for the traffic to stop so he can cross. Miki sees that his hair is longer than the last picture Akira sent. It’s falling into his eyes.

That particular photo was different since Akira had somehow managed to capture the other man under his arm. Their faces pressed together to fit into the screen.  

Ryo’s face was flushed red, angelic with his pale skin and pretty features.

Miki’s heart was filled with equal parts envy and overwhelming love. The latter freaked her out so much, she instantly slapped that thing into the shoebox she kept everything Akira sent her. The whole ordeal left her confused and screaming into her pillow until Tare came up to the bedroom door and demeaned she shut the hell up.

Her lips part, hand coming up from her bag to call out and wave.

Ding

Miki glances at her phone, about to ignore it when she sees Akira’s name on top of the message of “I’m sorry I’m late!!” complete with a teary-eyed emoji. She quickly unlocks it, fingers at the ready to reply her own pouty yet adorable comment when she peeks upwards.

Miki didn’t think much beyond the image her eyes saw before her.

Car, going fast (much too fast fast fast) and Ryo walking in the middle of the street, walking ahead with his hands hidden prettily in his pockets. Unaware. More than ever, he looks completely untouchable.

Her legs reacted before she comprehended what was happening. She didn’t even hear the crack her phone made dropping down onto the pavement. Miki didn’t get to see the incoming text of “oh I think I see you”

Ryo!” His name sang like a raw war cry in her throat. Each step booms in her eardrums and she almost sees the blood spattered on the dirty road. Miki sees Akira’s pained face and tear stained cheeks. She sees herself wondering why there’s such an empty spot is inside of her chest.

She leaps with all of her might, arms outstretched, and pushes as hard she could.

There’s screaming all around her and a crash so loud, her ears pop. Darkness spots her vision, reshaping and reshaping as the white noise dims down and she can suddenly see Ryo staring down at her, kneeling at her side. His mouth is open like a fish, yet he still somehow looks perfect. It’s unnatural really. God, just like those eyes, too blue. They can see right through her soul.

She tries getting up, but her arms tremble and collapse right under her again. A trickling warmth runs down her face, and for a split second she’s worried she’s sweating. A hand nonchalantly goes to swipe it off. Miki almost screams at the bright redness on her fingertips.

“O-oh…” She swallows, trying to get up again. Her arms shake harder than before. She manages to flip herself over and sit up. The runaway car sits slammed into the post light. The driver frantically looks around, suit wrinkled and slurring his words of apology.

“You…” Ryo starts, staring down at her, not moving a finger to help her.

Expected but still disappointed, Miki admits to herself.

“H-hey…” Her throat is too way. Her heart is going to give out if it keep pounding so hard. “R-ry-Ah!” Her ankle. It hurts. It hurts way too much. Her head throbs with each blink and now she really wishes that she wore something a little thicker than a skirt.

“You…” Ryo starts again, actually sounded both confused and annoyed if possible. Thick brows draw together to add to his frown. “You’re bleeding from your head,” he says drily, his eyes roam down, “and I’m sure you twisted your ankl-” Something stops his words and his skin turns paper white. All the blood drains from his face, leaving him nothing but specks of blue in the snow.

“What?” Her voice sounds rough even to her ears. She looks down to spot her Mark, scratched up. “Oh fuck.” She almost cries. There’s blood running from her knee to it, making it look it it’s been cut into threes.

“Miki! Miki! Ryo!”

She blinks away the tears but they roll down her cheeks in full force, trying to spot the source. “Akira?” Miki utters, looking around.

Akira stands at the sidewalk, big brown eyes shining with tears. He gasps loudly almost in pain himself as his hands grip his hair. Emotions upon emotions crash and ebb on his face. The tears come in full force as he looks around in panic.

He hasn’t sent a picture in the last three months because he was in some remote part of Liberia. His skin looks sun-kissed and healthy. His cheeks still have a soft roundness to them that make Miki laugh. She actually laughs through the tears, forgetting that Ryo almost died and she probably has a concussion. Her little Akira is probably as tall as Ryo, which says a lot about his growth.

“What the hell were you thinking!” he screams at the driver. It catches her so off guard, Miki blinks in confusion.

Akira kicked the busted bumper hard, causing another dent. “You could’ve killed him! You could’ve killed her!” It’s so un-Akira-like that Miki has to wonder if she’s already passed out. Her head is shrieking in pain.

“Akira!” Ryo suddenly calls out. As he walks past her, blue eyes actually glance down, shocking Miki even more. The Ryo she knows wouldn’t even acknowledge her, similarity, Akira was the apple of his eye. Her pulse picks up even more and the world starts titling.  

He gives the car another kick before turning to face Ryo. He holds out his hands, taking Akira’s. It looks too tender, like a scene straight from a romance novel. It’s not one for her eyes, she thinks and hates herself for it.

Akira’s eyes don’t say on him, however. He races to her. Behind him, with arms crossed, Ryo pulls his phone to his ear, staring at Miki. Akira’s coming closer towards her but it’s too late to figure Ryo’s expressionless mask because everything’s disappeared.