The more Akihiro looked at Makoto, the clearer it became; the more he thought about it, the more obvious it was. Brief smiles and delicate movements, you're like a song.
He felt he had enough experience to make such a comparison. Had spent too much of his youth listening to songs, those songs, listening to Shin's music and thinking of Shin and oh, Shin. And he'd been the same; too transient, too fragile. Short and deep, graceful, cold. That small sense of emotion present in the flowing notes that could be cancelled out as soon as the will ceased. There was no music anymore, not now, not from him.
So, instead, Akihiro sat on the rocks by the ocean inlet, looking out to the sea and thinking of Shin, thinking of Makoto, thinking those things he always thought. Even out here, so far from there, they couldn't escape. Makoto, especially, hadn't been able to escape. Akihiro leant back against the chilled stone and felt the brush of the night's breeze; to think of that, his smiles seemed all the more brief and all the more unbearable. Yoshikuni had touched the hearts of so many, but never in a good way. Akihiro wondered if he'd escaped. Compared to Makoto, maybe he'd never been caught in the first place.
The problem with the songs that Shin had wrote was, Akihiro felt, that he'd understood them too much. The tortured artist, trying to hide his feelings behind metaphors and similes, lay them unintentionally in full view. Every comparison tempted thought brought conclusion and Akihiro didn't know if those facts made him feel closer to Shin, or further away. Nonetheless, those feelings lay intangible in the air, presented to an audience who didn't know to try to understand them. All of those excitable teenage girls. Akihiro would smile to think of them; if only you'd known.
Makoto wasn't like that, wasn't like any of that. The songs that Akihiro felt he knew so well, too well, Makoto wasn't that at all. An unfamiliar melody, the sound of a dying note in the night sky.
We're not young anymore, are we?
All paths and all coincidences had brought the two of them to this point, to the present moment, to this short time spent together. Akihiro still stared at the sea. How long would he stay? He didn't know. He never knew. Maybe he'd leave tomorrow. (He wouldn't, though.) He thought of Makoto and, to consider that point, thought of Hiro, too. Had he ever thought, those nights spent in the coffee house, that things would lead to here? No, that had never been anything like a realistic thing to think about. Had he ever even noticed Hiro enough to think of him like that? No, he hadn't. And here they were, so many miles away now, with Hiro's smile echoing the fragility of Makoto's own, you can stay with us as long as you like--!... Akihiro didn't know how long was safe to stay. Maybe it was already too late.
Makoto didn't leave his thoughts, not for one moment. He knew it was already too late, much too late, now.
He looked towards the beachside buildings, dark but for the occasional doorlamp to punctuate the view. When he looked away, there was nothing to disturb him except for his own presence, the rocks and stones around him, the sea in front of him. He turned again and Takuto was there, as ever he was. Smiling, but different to Makoto, different to Hiro (the latter seeming so strange).
"You're still here, then?"
Akihiro didn't pretend to have got used to the other man, but tried to hide this. "You thought I wouldn't be?"
That smile didn't lessen, Takuto leant his back against the rock Akihiro sat upon. "Oh, nothing like that, nothing like that. I just wondered, that's all."
Akihiro didn't have anything to say to that and so let silence fall between the two of them; he knew that if he said anything or he didn't, Takuto would speak as he liked anyway. Waiting long enough would only prove that theory correct.
"... So, do you believe me yet?"
A non-committal shrug, "If you're telling the truth, shouldn't you be able to tell me that?"
Takuto rocked on his heels, hands in his pockets. "Haha, you're right, you're right. I wish I could. I'm afraid it's altogether not quite as precise as that."
"It doesn't matter if you don't, Akihiro. There are a lot of idiots out there who'd find this acceptable far more quickly."
"So why are you still stood here, talking to me?"
"Because there's no reward in delighting a fool. Of course, really, it doesn't matter who it is. I just thought you might appreciate it, that's all."
Akihiro said nothing.
"You're being all surly, but I think you do have an answer for me, don't you?"
"... Like what?"
"Oh, who could say? Other than yourself, of course. Nonetheless... I think everybody would have an answer to that question if they thought about it for long enough."
Akihiro did, not that he wanted to admit so to Takuto. Coming forward with such unbelievable ideas, who would talk to them about such private things in the first place? And yet Akihiro still couldn't help but think, whenever he saw Takuto, that there was something about him. Not quite the truth, but something. Maybe he wasn't lying? No, but to believe something like that... who would?
All of this conflict was obvious on Akihiro's face, which just made Takuto's smile all the deeper. He leant his arms against the top curve of the rock, leant his head down against his arms. He looked up at Akihiro, but Akihiro didn't look back down at him.
"... So, Akihiro... if you could change anything, anything that you've lived through... what would it be...?"
The answer required no thought, but Akihiro still knew he wouldn't speak it. Not to anybody, not to him. He felt around on the rock, feeling the shift of a smaller stone beneath his fingers. Rather than answer, he pulled his arm back and threw the stone with as much strength as he could muster; it made a satisfying, heavy noise as it landed in the wider stretch of water.
"... I won't keep asking."
"Then why do you?"
Takuto pushed himself away from the rock, considering this for a moment.
"... Because you're interesting, I suppose. Good night, Akihiro. I'll see you tomorrow."
Akihiro didn't hear Takuto leave. He left it a few minutes, long enough; he turned around, looked all around him, saw no sign that Takuto had ever been there. Even the sand lay untouched, which caused Akihiro moments of genuine confusion. Anybody, frustratingly tricky or not, would leave footprints, surely? He sighed and shook his head, berating himself for being so ridiculous. He still wasn't sure that Takuto wasn't some kind of hallucination, some thought process determined on taunting him with promises of the past. After everything that had happened, he thought as he set to throw another stone, he wouldn't have been surprised.