"Take my hand."
Concrete. Chainlink fence. Cold, night, a sea of cars passing.
Moca climbs up, over, lingers on top, and then she says that to Ran - and Ran takes her hand.
It feels cold. Moca can feel how cold it is - the roughness under her grip, the softness, the yield, the shape of her palm and fingers, as Moca pulls her over. Sensations. The force she puts into it that brings her up.
It hurts to hold tonight.
It feels funny that it does. Like it's hurt for a longer time than this.
Ran lands on the other side. Inside. A fenced-off enclosure on the embankment of the underside of a bridge over a highway.
Lands there with Moca. Hits the steep concrete incline. Slides down a little, falls back on her butt, grinds her shoes against the slope to stop.
Moca joins her.
Ran's lips open—breath meets empty air lit in scatters by highbeams through chains.
Lungs fill, chilled, worn. From somewhere unconscious, one thought - like breathing in night.
Her throat hitches. No words come yet. But her voice is ready.
"Ran?" Moca, tired. Come far, past everything, all the way to the roads.
With no response, Moca... asks. "You wanted to talk about something?"
Ears, eyes hide for a moment in the passing headlamps, engines.
A moment only.
"Then I think I'm ready."
"Moca, I've noticed you hanging back more on stage lately."
Oh. It really is this. She's noticed.
"What's so weird about that, Ran? Did they make that illegal while I wasn't looking~?"
The push that forms the words freezes in her throat. Of course she's noticed. It's always the wrong things that get noticed.
"You know what I mean."
Moca knows she's right.
But this isn't how it should happen. This isn't their everyday. There's no sky to see under this bridge. This is somewhere else, dark, sunken, the way out unknown.
"Truth is, Ran—"
Just that far.
"Enough with the 'truth', Moca! Tell me straight! Not anything you tried to make as... as correct as possible! I don't want you to lie by being kind to me! We figured this out, didn't we? We realised! We're going different ways! We all have our own... our own places to call the same as always!"
"I don't want not to understand anymore... I don't want to be afraid I can't understand anymore... I just want to be..."
"On the same page?"
It comes to Moca. The magic phrase. The next idea, seed, kernel, perfect, the conversation grasps tight once said.
"Yeah... on the same page."
"I didn't realise that I was bothering you that much..."
"Whatever it is bothered you that much. Obviously that would bother me. Dumbass." Voice weak, cracking, tearing up in hard light intermittent.
Don't give up, Ran. Courage. You're Moca's courage. The figure to chase behind.
"I... might be just adjusting."
"Adjusting? To what? I don't get it. Did something change?"
"It's... you... maybe... I realised."
She knows Ran's heard that before. The incisive words. Words bringing everything down.
"But that's not the problem this time! It's that I'm not—!"
"That you're not—"
"I'm not changing, Ran. You're..."
She can't say it.
"You're going somewhere I can't reach! You're already somewhere I can't reach!"
"And what the hell does that mean!?"
"I can't be at your side anymore, Ran! I'm not there anymore! That's not where I stand! That's not what you need!"
The shadow of the chainlinks and the noise of a car.
"I'm leaving! Don't fuck with me!"
Suddenly, with force, constriction, held tight. Moca's embrace. Desperate.
"I don't want to!"
"Do you want to stand with me or not? Did you ever actually care about me, or is this how you're ending it all?"
"I do care! I do want to stand with you, I really do! But I... I just don't have..."
What is it she doesn't have?
Why won't the words come to her? Why can't she finish her thoughts? Why is it that the opportunity escapes her, every time? How long ago
did her resignation cut so deep?
"Don't tell me... you think you're not good enough?"
Is that it?
That's it. Fighting not to fight, mind tying her life. That's it.
That's all it is.
on Ran's back.
"Alright, Moca. I'm turning around. You just need to let go of me for one moment."
She can't. She won't.
"I'm serious, Moca. Standing on this slope hurts, and I'm getting cold. We can't do this forever, you know."
"Don't leave me."
Moca loosens her grip. Feels Ran keep her promise. Of course she would. Of course Moca's being silly. Of course Ran would understand...?
But... what a miracle Ran understands.
Clumsily, warily, soulfully, tightly embraced back.
"Idiot. You're Moca. You've always been Moca. You've never once left my side."
Through tears, left over, a laughing jibe.
"You make me sound like a pest, Ran..."
"Of course. I can't solve the problems on your mind for you, but... I can tell you that you're a huge problem yourself. Bigger than any other one. Nothing else makes me worry nearly as much as you do."
Soft, shaking breaths. Shuddering. Moca tries.
"I'll... I'll work it out."
Shivering in the dead of night.
"It's hard, Moca. It took so much... support, just for me to begin to find where we were again. I don't... I'm not sure if I can..."
"It's okay. I know you're useless, Ran. You need us. You might even need me."
Ran's soft smile. Shifts her head. "Maybe. If you ever drifted too far away for me to reach, I would hate that, you know."
The fence, back over. Moca first, hand to Ran at the top.
Ran's hand feels cold. It hurts to hold. She might forget to remember, to feel this night the moment she next lets go.
But they're similar. But they're close. But she'll work on it.
But Ran understood. But Ran understands. But the next time Ran finds Moca out, next time the tear in Moca comes that far apart again, she will... hopefully, understand.
They climb up the grassy slope off of which the bridge runs. The great above, in the city, faint as it is, is starred.
On the path by the bridge's road, they catch their breath and gaze at the horizon. Tomorrow, it will be a new daybreak, noon, dusk, and night once again.
Connected like the states of the sky, Ran and Moca dive once more into the everyday.