She followed him again today. Yui had been abusing her premonition evol these days, making accidental brushes against strangers whenever she can.
She would bump into as many passengers on the bus as she could without causing a scene, brushed her hand against the coffee shop staff as he handed her the coffee, even went out of her way to pet every dog in the park that would allow her to do so without biting her hand off.
She was being obsessive, she knew that. But that was the only way.
The only way she could try to catch a glimpse of him. Of her Gavin.
Each and every time she touched someone, there was a chance for her to see a vision. And for every vision she saw, there was a chance for it to involve the military.
And every time the military was involved, there was a chance that Gavin would be there, so she could go and try to catch a glimpse of him.
She didn't care if what she was doing was unethical, if every single vision she saw weighed on her soul, if arriving at every single possible incident meant risking her life. If she could see him, even for one single second, it would be worth it, even if he never saw her.
In fact, it was probably better if he never saw her. Otherwise, he would definitely have suspected her of being a spy again and he would have treated her the way he did last time.
She couldn't forget how cold his eyes were the last time they met, when he shoved her against the wall and placed those handcuffs on her. She could still remember the feeling of those cold metal digging into the delicate flesh on her skin.
She had never seen him look at her with so little trust in his eyes. Not when he was helping her reach the poetry volumes on the tall library bookshelves during high school and definitely not after they reunited when he transferred back to Loveland City as a police officer.
So, yes. It was for the best that he did not see her. At least that way, she could still imagine.
Imagine nothing had changed. Imagine he was only out on one of those missions where he could not contact her. Imagine that he would show up at her window some time tonight, asking her if she wants to go stargazing with him.
But she knew this illusion wouldn't last long. So far, her visions had only been of sightings of military investigations and other successful operations. But she knew that sooner or later she would see something bad, something preventable and she would have to try to intervene.
And then, she would have to stare into those cold distrustful eyes again. She would be forced to face reality.
The reality of Gavin no longer being hers. The reality of Gavin not knowing her as if she never existed in this dimension.
It hurt to remember how he questioned her intentions towards him. It hurt to tell him that he was her senpai and he barely believed her.
So she tried to forget reality, tried to imagine they were still living in their original dimension, where his eyes lit up every time he saw her. Where he touched her with so much gentleness that it made her want to cry. Where he would blush every time she mustered up the courage to tell him how much she loved him.
She knew she was being willfully in denial, but if that could stop the hurt in her chest for just one minute, she would gladly do so.
Yui turned her head up to the sky as she heard the sound of the blade of a helicopter closing in. Her hands pressed against the shop window of the cafe where she had been sitting in for the last three hours, waiting for this very moment.
As the noise grew louder and louder, the military chopper came into view. She held her breath, eyes glued to it as it hovered over the park a block away from the coffee shop.
The door slid open and a tall figure in dark military uniform came into view. His brown hair flying every which direction as the strong wind blew around him.
She watched as he quickly surveyed the ground, preparing to jump out of the helicopter.
Yui opened her mouth to silently mutter, "You look well today. Stay safe, Gavin. I miss you." And for that brief moment, her heart stopped aching.
He was gone from her line of sight the next moment, having jumped out and began to fly towards his destination.
She sat back in her chair, closed her eyes and convinced herself that was enough. Enough to support her through the next few days or weeks without spiraling into the endless abyss in her mind that was constantly threatening to drag her in ever since she came to this dimension.
She could now function until the next time she saw him again. And she was determined to function through this. Too much was at stake otherwise.
Black Swan was still scheming to turn everyone into an evolver, while non-evolvers were banding together to wage war against those with evol abilities.
She could not afford to sit back and wither away while watching the world fall apart. She had come too far to give up now, regardless of how much she wanted to curl up in a ball at the loss of everything and everyone important in her life.
It was the least she could do, when Gavin worked so hard to protect everyone, whether in this dimension or the last.
The buzzing sound of her phone brought her back from her thoughts.
"Hello, Shaw." She answered the phone without even glancing at the caller ID. After all, there was only one person left in this world now who would call her.
"You got the file?" Shaw yelled over the phone, the background noisy as usual.
Yui plugged one ear with a finger and pressed the phone closer to her other while turning up the volume. He must be at Live House with a live concert going on. She could hear loud music playing in the background and people cheering. Before she met Shaw, she always thought these live shows only played at night, but she was wrong. Apparently, they played whenever they wanted to.
"Yes. Where do you need me to go this time?" She asked with a voice loud enough for him to hear, but quiet enough that people from the cafe wouldn't be disturbed.
"Getting efficient, huh?" He said with a voice that was obvious he was smirking on the other side. "The amusement park."
She froze. She was ready to work, to gather intel for Shaw, hoping it would get her mind off of her current situation, even for a tiny little bit. But she didn't expect it to be at the amusement park of all places.
"What? Cat got your tongue?" He asked when she didn't reply.
"Does it…" She hesitated, not wanting to give Shaw the opportunity to learn more of her weakness, but she didn't know if she had it in her to go there. "Does it have to be the amusement park?"
"You think intel goes wherever you want it to go?"
She clutched her fist and sighed. He was right. The file he sent clearly indicated that someone was planning an attack. If SHAW said she could gather information at that location to prevent it, the suspects must have left a trail there and not somewhere else. After all, SHAW had never pointed her to the wrong location yet.
But she'd rather go anywhere but there. Send her to the headquarters of Black Swan for all she cared, just not the amusement park.
"Fine. You got me interested. What don't you like about the amusement park?" He usually didn't seem to care about what she does or does not want, but this intrigued him.
"Nevermind. I'll go. I don't want to talk about it." Her voice flat. She didn't want him to ask any further. She would rather face the pain herself than to expose more of her weakness to him. "Besides, you were going to have me go regardless, no?"
"You're no fun." He tutted at her. He paused for a second before resuming with a voice deeper than usual. "I bet it's because of him. You guys probably went on stupid lovey-dovey dates there and so you don't want to go back when he's not with you."
SHAW’s guess was dangerously close to hitting a bull’s eye.
She and Gavin did go on a date at the amusement park, but he was so stupid and so unromantic that he ended up talking on the phone the whole time they were on the Ferris Wheel. She got so upset with him she didn't even want to talk to him. Of course, they made up in the end, but that now-cute memory, as much as it pained her to remember, wasn't the one she was most afraid of reliving.
It was the wedding shoot. Gavin and her stood in for the 100th couple who backed out of the shoot last minute. Although they weren't truly getting married, the memory of her in the wedding gown standing beside Gavin in his blue striped suit, telling each other they were the only ones they ever wanted to be partners with in a wedding whether real or fake was too much for her to bear. It reminded her too much of what might never be if she wasn’t able to fix the situation of her not existing in anyone’s memories in this dimension.
Having to be back at the location that would force her to relive this memory, she wasn't sure if she could keep herself together let alone complete the mission.
But this was private. A memory she wanted to hold so dear that she did not want to discuss with anyone in fear of losing it just like how she lost everything else. It was an irrational fear, of course.
But with so much going on, she felt the need to allow herself to be irrational on this one thing.
She kept her silence, having already said what she wanted to say on the matter.
"Doesn't matter," he finally said, seemingly irritated by her silence. "You start tomorrow."
The line went dead. He hung up on her.
Loud thunder cracked through the air. She jumped at the sound and wondered why the weather was so strange in this dimension. It was a bright sunny day outside.
Yui shook her head and thought of SHAW again.
She didn't understand him. On the outside, he seemed like any other 20 year old little brat, without a care in the world and yet he was doing all these things to gather information and even had Black Swan and evol agents from the STF going after him. He even had connections to make fake identities that would pass most government checks for her. All signs pointed to him being a big player in these schemes everyone seemed to be weaving.
However, his attitude were also too laissez-faire, too chaotic. He wasn't like anyone she had known.
He was a leader, much like Victor, but unlike Victor who always had a clear destination, he may lead you in a wild goose chase for his own amusement.
He played, much like Kiro, but unlike Kiro who was like sunshine and puppies, he plays with you like a cat would a mouse.
He was mysterious, much like Lucien, but unlike Lucien who would always plan five steps ahead in everything, he seemed only to have an end goal in mind, making things up as they unfold.
And he was nothing like Gavin. In fact, other than his eye color, his jawline and the fact that they were both amazing bass players, he was the total opposite of Gavin. Where Gavin was gentle, SHAW was rough. Where Gavin always strive to do the right thing for the greater good, SHAW seemed to only do things for his own benefit.
But it didn’t matter what kind of person SHAW was or what his goals were. In this partnership, Yui and SHAW took what they needed from each other, that was it. Nothing more and nothing less.
Placing her cell phone in her pocket, she gently touched the ginkgo bracelet on her wrist before she stood up and walked out of the coffee shop. As cold air rushed at her face, she adjusted her winter jacket and pulled the hood over her head.
She had one night to steel herself from the emotional onslaught that was sure to come during the next few days. But she had agreed to take on the mission and she would not allow herself to back down or to fail it. She would give it her all, even if it meant ripping the still-open wound in her heart even wider.
Yui stepped forward with stubborn determination in her stride.