...And come to think of it, why the hell do I not have an icon of either Tsubasa or Misaki? Gotta rectify that soon.
Title: Key to Flying
Fandom: Gakuen Alice
Pairing: Andou Tsubasa/Harada Misaki
Theme: [#25-30] 26. if only I could make you mine, 27. overflow, 28. Wada Calcium CD3, 29. the sound of waves, 30. kiss
Disclaimer: Gakuen Alice doesn't belong to me.
Summary: Done for 30_kisses on lj. A guy hopelessly infatuated and a girl hopelessly oblivious. Or, thirty ways the poor boy loses out on getting a kiss. Somewhat.
Uhm, just a heads-up – 6,600+ words. Yes, I know. I don’t know how it happened, seriously. I normally fake-cut to ff.net, but under the cut is theme 29 – the sound of waves, all on its own. It’s easily the best out of all of them, and since I’ve decided not to post it separately at ff.net, I’ll at least do so here. (2,766 words. There is the sand and the sea, but the soft crash of the waves is his only answer. This – is paradise. This is where he wants to be.)
First, all of the other themes are here.
Second, (the sound of waves) is…hm. It’s pre-series, going via the universe where Tsubasa was like Natsume and was on missions, and…let’s just leave it at that. Some fanon, a passing reference to his curse seal from chapter 60-something that’s not really spoilery. And a lot of fanon/the crazy universe that I made up. Anyway.
the sound of waves
All I want to do is sleep.
All I want to do…is sleep.
“Good morning,” Tsubasa hears. But when he opens his eyes, nobody’s there.
He’s lying on a beach chair, and the shadow of a large umbrella falls on him as he stirs. But even if it wasn’t there, he wouldn’t be roasting in the afternoon sun anyway – on the contrary, the temperature’s just perfect, and he’s in no danger of getting a sunburn. The sun’s barely risen, wisps of yellow-white slowly leaking into the sky. He can smell sea salt as he breathes in; he can see the ocean as he looks out.
The first thought that assails his mind is: this is perfect.
It’s not until later that he wonders, why is he here?
The soft crash of the waves is his only answer.
After what must be hours, Tsubasa realizes – he’s all alone.
The beach is deserted. Desolate. There are no children playing on the sandy shores, no crabs scuttling along the surf. He feels that gentle ocean breeze ruffle his hair from time to time and the now mid-morning sun’s warm against his face, but other than that, it feels like nothing here is moving at all. Like this is a perfect moment caught in time, frozen forever.
But, he thinks, as he watches the sunlight bounce off of the water and shimmer in the sky, it’s still such a perfect moment. And there’s nowhere else he can think of at the moment that he’d rather rest at, except here.
(but so content)
What would it be like, he muses before he drifts off again, to touch the ocean?
You idiot! Wake up!
(she’s calling for you)
(why won’t you answer her)
But again, when he opens his eyes, nobody’s there.
(desolate, all alone)
It’s starting to be somewhat discomfiting, the soundless crash of the waves, the white in the sky, the blue on the sea – but the sun glimmers on the surface of the water again and the breeze kisses his face and nothing’s wrong.
What was wrong? What made him feel that way a moment ago?
The thought drifts away somewhere over the horizon, and he slowly drifts off as well, thinking for a moment that he’d like something to drink.
Why can’t you see that this is what I want? Why can’t you just leave me in peace?
When he awakes this time, he thinks that he can hear someone laughing far away in the distance.
There’s a little white table at his side now with a glass sitting on top of it. He picks it up – why does his arm feel like lead, like he’s too slothful to even move – and downs it, cool liquid something seeping through his veins and calming him, before he feels warm again.
He sets the glass back down just before his arm falls down to his side like a weight dropping, but doesn’t feel any alarm, panic.
All he feels – is relaxed.
All he wants to feel – is like this.
You see? There’s nothing wrong with –
But the words die before he even says them, as he realizes what gave him that strange feeling of displacement a while back. Or maybe it was a few minutes; things seem to feel like an eternity here.
Only, an eternity is nothing without someone else there.
Who, though? He likes this peace and quiet, this open-air atmosphere and shoreline stretching for miles. That obnoxious sempai with long hair would soon drive him insane here. He doesn’t care for most of his classmates. His teachers – almost all of them, and especially one in particular – are anathema. His family…
…out of the question.
Surely there’s someone?
(pink hair, warm eyes - )
Of course not. That’s a joke. He’s spent so long making sure that no one would get close that it wouldn’t make any sense.
He doesn’t need anyone. He doesn’t want anyone.
Tsubasa continues to stare off into the distance, letting himself absorb the saltine smell and the aquamarine hues.
Paradise is what you make of it, after all.
(and this is. paradise.)
Please, Tsubasa. Just wake up. You don’t understand what it means if you…if you don’t wake up.
“Is there something wrong?”
He shudders awake to a blazing yellow sun sinking into the sea. How many times has he fallen asleep? This whole place is starting to feel so strange. Surreal.
Not quite right.
(but still so peaceful, so eternally peaceful)
“There’s nothing wrong,” he replies without thinking. “Just…thought I heard someone.”
A laugh. “That’s not possible. You’re the only one here for miles.”
“Here with you, of course. Just me.”
He frowns. The voice – female – is coming from behind him, but he can’t see who it is. And he can’t muster up the energy or the effort to move, as though his limbs have given up and atrophied long ago.
(even if her voice is echoing in his ear, god it sounds so familiar)
“It doesn’t matter,” she sharply comments.
He hears soft, quick footsteps on the sand. “Everything. Nothing. Take your pick.”
Tsubasa has to crane his neck to see her as she walks forward, and barely gets a glimpse of her face before she’s several meters in front of him and all he can see is her back. Her white dress brushes against the sand, and her hair looks almost brown-gold, sun-kissed with the tint of the sunset.
He swallows, but whatever’s caught in his throat won’t go down.
Are you –
“Relax, Tsubasa,” she said, smiling. “Enjoy the view of the sunset – one like this only comes around once in a long while.”
“Even in a place like this?”
“Even in a place like this.”
And she’s right. The way the colors bleed across the sky is mesmerizing, like a purple-orange-blue kaleidoscope of color that he can’t tear his eyes away from. He could stare away like this all day…
(it’s like he’s caught in an enchantment…)
Something flutters into his line of vision – strands of this woman’s long hair, silver-gold-brown – and the spell is broken, though the longing remains.
“Wasn’t I right?”
“Maybe you were,” he mumbles.
She slowly starts to turn around, dress billowing gently in the breeze, but before he can muster up the energy to see, everything goes warm and hazy dark.
“Just rest a while for now…”
You don’t understand.
Of course I do. You’re an idiot for doing this. This isn’t what you really want.
What I want? What I want is…
This time, the sun is almost gone, with the first breaths of twilight slowly starting to creep up on him.
For a moment, he thinks he feels cold, but the chill passes so swiftly that he isn’t sure the temperature ever dropped at all.
“Even at this time of day the scenery’s beautiful, you know.”
He reflexively tenses up, even as the atmosphere wills him to relax.
“What, Tsubasa?” she asks, standing where the shore meets the sea, with her back turned to him and her dress still fluttering around her feet.
“N…nothing. You just startled me. I didn’t think you’d still be here.”
She spins around then, so fluidly that it’s almost like she’s floating on the waves. And he can’t help but gasp.
“Have you missed me? Tsubasa.”
The dying rays still give her a bit of a glow, but her hair’s back to its usual dark shade, her skin still pale and her eyes still deep and her smile all exactly as he remembers.
He says nothing.
She takes several steps towards where he sits, smiles down at him against the backdrop of the sun. “And that’s how you greet your mother? After all these years?”
The beach is still so relaxing, so warm, so inviting, but a thrill goes up his spine anyway. Like a warning.
Don’t get caught. Don’t get caught.
He feels something icy cold coursing through his veins again, and blanches, almost wishing for the lull of that afternoon drink to wash it away again. Almost, until the warning echoes again and it’s all he can do to focus on the sky.
“But it’s okay. We have so much time to talk. So much time.”
She smiles again; the ice pricks his fingers and he slowly starts to curl them, slowly gets them to move again.
“You’ll stay here with me forever, won’t you?”
(forever’s such a long time)
“We can live happily like we’ve always wanted. Freely, out here. You’ve felt it, right? Everything here’s so soothing, it’s like paradise. It’s something we never dreamed of.”
Paradise is where you choose it.
Her words pour out faster and faster, a bubbling lullaby that dulls the cold in his hands and causes his eyelids to droop again. And when he wakes up the next time, judging by the progression of the sun, it would be…
“We can forget everything else. You don’t have to use your Alice any more. You don’t have to remember the academy ever again.”
His eyes snap open. “Why did you have to bring that up? Why did you have to?”
She takes in a sharp breath, staring at him.
He looks down and realizes that he’s standing upright, free of the chair.
(you could throw all of this away)
(you would throw all of this away)
Almost immediately, it’s as though the temperature drops to absolute zero, the sea breeze now a chilling wind, and he collapses on the sand.
“Oh, Tsubasa.” She kneels down next to him, tucks a strand of his hair behind his ear, and he leans into the touch. “Why did you have to do that? We only have until nightfall…”
“But I thought you said that this would be forever,” he grits out.
She smiles sadly at him. “But don’t you see? You have to choose. Do you want to stay here?
- or do you want to go back?
Over her shoulder, he can see the tide slowly creeping up on them, the darkened stretch of sand reaching far past where she’d stood moments ago.
“I hate it there,” he whispers. “I never wanted to go.”
“I never wanted to send you. But I didn’t have a choice.” She pauses, and her smile could break his heart with its fragility. “Now, though, we do have a choice. Here, you won’t have to do the things they force you to do.”
(you can relax, sit and watch the waves soundlessly crash)
The water is only a few feet away from them, now, and it’s only getting colder.
Paradise is where you choose it.
Instinctively, he knows that the cold, the pain – that they’ll all go away if he stays. That he’ll feel that serenity again, the loss of which is already gnawing at him like a dull throb alongside the icy ache.
So why can’t he say yes?
You promised. You promised that you’d make it back. Idiot, I knew you always break your promises…
Something flickers in her eyes; what, he doesn’t know. But now he can’t stop here, no matter how much it pulls at him.
“I don’t know why, but I can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t stay here.”
She whispers so softly, like a gust of summer. “Does it feel that wrong, staying here with me?”
He feels as though his heart could shatter. “I just…can’t explain it.”
This is not the paradise that I would choose.
And suddenly, she pulls him tightly into a hug, and his body’s unsure of whether to curl into her warmth or to freeze jaggedly from the pain in his chest. “I miss you still. But all along,” and his eyes widen as he feels something wet against his collar, “I knew that this would happen. Even if you don’t want to go back, you’ve always been a fighter. Always.”
The tide is slowly seeping into her dress, staining it darkly. And he instinctively realizes: he doesn’t have much time.
His voice starts to crack. “I’m sorry, mother, so sorry…”
She lets go of him, and pain shoots through his abdomen. “You still won’t stay?”
The look in her eyes threatens to undo him, but he can’t look away, can’t ever look away. And the rocks in the distance are suddenly looming and the sky is almost completely blue-dark-black and the quiet buzz has erupted into a roaring storm, and like that, everything changes.
(are you sure this is right? you know this is not right. she would never wish you harm like this, never wish you pain)
The seawater soaks through his clothes in a rush, and the smell of salt is overpowering.
“You’ve made your choice. Good luck.”
A tear slides down her face, followed by another.
The water envelopes him completely, and he slips into the tide.
No one can sleep like the death the way you do.
But don’t you think that this much is enough?
Nostalgia for that beach hits him before he even opens his eyes. Already, he’s realized what he’s irrevocably lost.
Perhaps it is a dream. Perhaps it was a dream.
(perhaps he’s just a fool.)
He’s lying on a hospital bed, and he can feel tight, constricting bandages around his lower body. There’s a dull ache thudding in his head, and his arms feel as leaden as they did over there.
What hits him first: he misses that place. (He misses her.)
What hits him next: he left her behind, for this. (Even if it wasn’t real, wasn’t right?)
“You’re finally awake.”
He blinks as an angry Misaki looks down at him.
“Do you know how long you’ve been asleep? We weren’t sure if you were ever going to wake up!” She looks as though she’d do something violent and probably painful, but then a shadow passes over her face and she changes her mind.
Don’t hurt the injured guy any more, he thinks weakly, but makes a noncommittal sort of sound.
“Do you remember anything?”
The smell of the sea, the ocean breeze, the white of her dress…
“The curse mark. He’s…they’re going to reprimand him for this, because this time it was too much. He could’ve killed you.”
Tsubasa vaguely starts to remember. He’d botched up the mission, gotten injured, and then…his head hurt just thinking about the pain that the curse seal – that bastard – put him through. “So I passed out from the shock, is that it?”
She doesn’t say anything, but he feels like her anger’s abated…slightly.
I had a dream, he wants to say. That I could make a choice. But it sounds ludicrous even as he thinks it, and he’s not stupid enough not to know what the other choice would’ve meant. In the end, it probably wasn’t…really as good as it seemed.
(and there was his mother, but it’d been forever since her hair was that long, and an eternity since her voice was so soft and her smile so gentle, and…lies, lies, lies, all lies, everything’s always a lie.)
Metaphors are ridiculous, he thinks darkly to himself.
“What?!” he shouts in response, startled. Why did he ask her to visit him, again?
“Just…” Her expression’s softened. “Don’t do something so stupid again. Well, so soon. I know you’ll do something that stupid again. So be careful.”
Should I just tell him not to activate the curse mark next time, tell them that I refuse to go on another mission? he thinks. Because I’m sure they’ll listen to me.
But what he says softly is, “Right.”
“I’m going to get the nurses. And Tono’s going to come by in an hour like he usually does.” And with that, she brusquely leaves the room.
He isn’t sure what to think. About her, about this – how long was he asleep? – about anything. In fact, he feels like he’s missing something. Like a huge revelation, a turning point, a realization.
(like sand under his nails and feathers in the sky)
(like mothers moving forward and children left behind)
He’ll settle for the fact that dreams don’t make much sense, and that while this life isn’t paradise, for now he’d rather stay all the same.
(Paradise is where you choose it.)
He’d made the right decision, hadn’t he. For whatever reason.
For whatever reason.
The stark white of the ceiling, and not the charmed blue of that sky, is reassurance enough.
Four months, but 6,600 words. Still can't believe it.
So. It’s done. A year and two months and my romance is clichéd crap but it’s done, done, done, holy crap I torture myself when it comes to themes challenges but this is done.
Forgive my writing, though I think it’s improved at this point. And how I completely screwed with canon for these two, though come on, dark and angsty. And how I completely made up fanon for them, and how some of my premises are borderline ridiculous, and anyway, it’s done.
Dex (biases) is the most amazing beta ever. Thanks to her for putting up with my ceaseless moaning and grumbling, and to everyone who actually stuck with this the entire way and left encouraging reviews. Hope you’ll tell me what you think about the final installments (or 29, in this case, but I like reviews at ff.net too), and thanks again!