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Makes the Heart Grow

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"Are you trying to will that door to open with the power of your mind?"

"I'm just sitting here minding my own business, old man, I suggest you mind yours."

Saul laughed. "Very clever. He'll get here when he gets here."

Three months had passed since Richard had seen Seigi off at Heathrow. Since the last time he had seen Seigi -- really seen him, in the flesh, not as an image that had grown more and more rosy the longer Richard stayed away.

He'd imagined their eventual reunion in so many different ways, he could have filled at least one bookshelf with the novels that may have resulted, but the world was better off without Richard's literary stylings.

Doesn't anybody stay in one place any more

In one version, Richard doesn't wait three months. He gets on the first plane to Japan after Seigi's, tracks him down at his apartment, and asks him to come back to England and marry Richard anyway. Seigi says no then, but four years later, when he's done with university and has a real job, his answer changes. Richard liquidates his Claremont assets and moves to Japan for good this time. Seigi works a lot of overtime, and Richard learns to cook a little.

It would be so fine to see your face at my door

In another version, Richard comes back to Japan after a few years of travelling around South America, and when he goes to register his new address at city hall, the young clerk who helps with his paperwork is none other than Seigi, whom Richard was going to call just as soon as he was done there. He hangs around and waits for Seigi to get off work, takes him to dinner, and then takes him home.

Doesn't help to know you're just time away

In a third version, Seigi's the one who flies right back to London after getting off the plane at Haneda airport. A cab drops him off at the Claremont estate, and Seigi has to wait for Richard to come and pay the driver because he had no idea how expensive English cabs are. Seigi apologises profusely, promises to pay Richard back, and tells him he can't live without him. They don't leave Richard's bedroom for what feels like a week.

Long ago I reached for you and there you stood

In a fourth version, Seigi marries Tanimoto-san after graduating from university; they move to Shizuoka for Seigi's civil service posting, raise two adorable daughters, and spend their free time helping other local volunteers clean up the area beaches. They grow old together, happily ever after, until stomach cancer takes Shoko just three years after retirement. Richard comes to the funeral just as he came to the wedding, and offers Seigi what comfort he can. Richard's own wife passed a decade ago, so he knows what to say and what not to do. They get a decade together.

Holding you again could only do me good Oh, how I wish I could But you're so far away

In a fifth version, Richard reunites with his old love and marries her, but it goes bad within three years, and after the divorce is final -- thankfully, no children are involved -- he flees to Japan, where a stock market crash has sent everything arse over teakettle, and Seigi is a chain-smoking yakuza executive covered in tattoos. It's the worst timeline, because Seigi is no longer the man Richard fell in love with, but Richard can't help but love him anyway. Seigi feels the same way, and he has forgotten what it is not to get what he wants. Richard doesn't try to remind him.

One more song about moving along the highway

In a sixth version, a couple of years after their parting, they meet on a cruise ship. They spend three weeks getting reacquainted, in Richard's deluxe stateroom with a private deck. His upgraded status doesn't require them to dine with other passengers, so they do not. When they eventually emerge for some human contact that doesn't involve being naked, they find the ship quarantined off the South African coast due to some new virus ravaging the planet. When the quarantine is lifted months later, Seigi and Richard are already married; they weren't about to wait and weddings are one of the services offered by the cruise ship company. The world is forever changed, but what the two of them have remains the same.

Can't say much of anything that's new

In a seventh version, Richard returns to Jewelry Etranger around Christmas time and meets Seigi, who's been working part-time for Saul, again. He takes Seigi out to dinner at their usual spot upstairs in Shiseido Parlour, and Seigi orders the curry and rice while Richard works on a parfait, and they talk about old times and new friends, as if no time has passed at all. Then they take a walk along the chilly streets of Tokyo, making it all the way to the Imperial Palace, and Richard doesn't feel the cold. It starts to snow just as they start to walk along the moat, and Seigi says something adorable about the snowflakes in Richard's hair. Richard kisses him then, and the world is warm and beautiful.

Saul brought him a fresh cup of tea, startling Richard out of his private thoughts, and then the door swung open, admitting a breath of cool December air and a promise of something truly special.

He'll get here when he gets here.

And here he was -- Nakata Seigi, in vivid colour, his cold-stung cheeks a little pink, the tips of his ears a little pinker, his dark eyes bright and eager, his surprised little smile just wonderful. He was just as Richard remembered him, and better than Richard's imagination, better than anything anyone could ever think up. He was perfect.

If I could only work this life out my way I'd rather spend it being close to you

[end]