Why is he doing this..?
Though the cool night air seemed amicable and sentimental, there was a pained voice knocking on the walls of my heart.
As Taki continued to row the boat further away from the dock like we were running away to a world of our own, my thoughts were clouded with what could've been...
It's only been a few hours but feelings from a decade ago I never thought I would've felt again came rushing back towards me.
"We've used to go on boat rides like this back then, remember?" I blurted out all of a sudden.
To my surprise, he remembered. "Yes, I remember you panicking every time you thought the boat would sink."
"Hey there's no need to remember something that embarrassing!" I retorted playfully. "Besides, it was your fault for rocking the boat on purpose..!"
We shared a laugh, the weight of my heart feeling much lighter. And the smile on his face...it was the smile that made everything seem better.
And then all of a sudden, he stopped rowing, but for me, it felt like he stopped time. No sooner than that does he place his warm hand over mine—the same hand I used to wear the ring he slipped on for our act a while back.
Why isn't he saying anything..? A part of me wanted to ask him, "Don't you want me to hold your hand?" but nothing came out.
Now I couldn't help but wish he asked me that. If we were still dating, we wouldn't be out here in the darkness hiding from the world around us. I'd hold his hand without any fear of retreating, but is that what I really want?
Shun's face flashes in my mind. There's no doubt that I love Shun, but Taki...
Taki was my first love. There was never a time I hadn't thought of how things would've been between us if we never broke up. Every night, I cried in my bed wondering what wrong, only to find out it was all because of a misunderstanding.
In another world, maybe he and I would be married by now...in fact, maybe he and I would even have a baby. A heavy weight sinks onto my heart as I think of how many happy memories we've lost in the span of time.
"If..." My lips quivered as I tried to speak. "If we could turn back time again...would we still be together..?"
I met his heartbroken gaze and realized he had the same look that I had.
Then, he answered, "We'll never know. Maybe we would've, but even so, MC, it's not too late in this timeline, is it?"
"What do you mean..?"
"Can you seriously think that fate reunited us for just the closure of our past?"
Taki had a point. Our bond that was held together too tight in the past ripped a seam and now here we were, holding the needle and thread to sew it back up again.
"But I'm no longer the girl you loved in the past," I reminded him, "we both changed drastically over the past ten years..."
"I know, and I've seen those changes myself when we were together recently, MC. I wouldn't be sitting with you here right now telling you all these if I didn't love the woman in front of my own eyes," he professed, the force of his confession knocking the wind out of my heart.
Now I realized...Taki wasn't the one who needed to cross the line between us.
It was me.
As if he read my mind, he added, "All these years I've never stopped yearning for you, MC. And when I saw you again, I knew fate was giving me one more chance to fix things between us..." He reached for both of my hands this time but I had yet to make a move to hold them back. The warmth of his hands and his words made me want to cry, the same way he was about to cry too.
Deep in my mind, I could hear echoes from our past pushing me to be with him. The day we met, the day we hung out together at the camping trip, the day I realized I had feelings for him, and the day...
"I'll spit it out, I like you, MC."
"And no matter what Tsubaki says, I don't care, I really want to be with you."
"...I feel the same way," I whispered shakily, repeating the words I said in the past.
Before he could respond, I leaned in forward and kissed him. The feeling in my heart was so painful yet so sweet.
But the sudden force threw both of us into the water.
Oh God what have I done...
I can't swim!
A pair of strong arms were holding me. I tried to open my eyes but it was too dark for me to see anything. The skirt of my gown billowed in the deep waters.
Then, I could feel Taki pulling me up to the surface the way Shun did when I first fell into the pool back at Pandora. It was as if the story began differently...a new beginning...
After moments of struggling, we finally made it out of the water, gasping for a much-needed breath as we clung onto the boat that carried us earlier.
"Are you okay?!" Taki asked frantically.
"Y-Yes, I'm good, thank you..." I coughed out.
After we climbed back into the boat, Taki took off his wet suit jacket and draped it over me. "It's not much, but it'll do for now."
The cold air enveloped my skin, giving me goosebumps. How were we supposed to go home like this?
He must've read my thoughts because then he said, "I can't let you go home looking like that, and I doubt Shun would like the idea of us returning together."
There were a dozen scenarios playing in my head on how he would react. As Taki rowed the boat back to the dock, I started panicking. I don't want them to lose their friendship but I also don't want to lose Taki again...
When we got back to the surface, he helped me get up. He noticed my worried expression and said, "Don't worry, MC, he can't stay mad forever."
"If you say so..."
His hand over mine slowly soothed all of the worries in my heart. Instead, they were replaced with new feelings of thrill and excitement. It was like I was Juliet from a play running away with her true lover.
Taki checked his pocket watch, whose hands seemed to be frozen because of the water. Time has indeed stopped.
He turned to me and smiled knowingly. "It seems that we still have a whole night ahead of us."
I couldn't help but giggle and play along. "So...are you ready to whisk me away?"
"I've waited too long not to."
He gave me one last kiss before we made our way back to his car. I knew that starting tonight, my new life with Taki would begin.