The time it takes for the two of them to fall feels like a thousand years. Beside him, Takaya’s hand is grasped tightly in his, and he turns his head amidst the whistling of the wind in their eyes to look at him.
Takaya doesn’t meet his eyes, and instead hangs his head back. His hairband comes off in the gale, only making his hair more unruly than usual, and it obscures his eyes even while Jin continues to stare at him, knowing that it might be the last thing he sees.
They hit the water hard. The force of it makes his glasses smash on his face and his briefcase is so much heavier than it ever felt on land.
Takaya has to grab his forearms and drag him across the rough pebbles on the bank of the river beneath the moonlight bridge. It catches his clothes, his cheeks, his hair, until he’s half-bent on the grass, choking up red water.
“Get up, Jin,” he bites, “We don’t have time for you to cough up all of your internal organs.”
The night air is cold, but Takaya’s colder - he’d been far too impatient since Chidori had been taken. He grabs the back of Jin’s jacket and further drags him across the pavement until Jin stumbles to his feet and begins running alongside him.
Jin only lets himself breathe when they get back - the Dark Hour ends the second he slams the door, like an omen or a threat. Takaya won’t look at him, so instead of waiting around for conversation that won’t come, he immediately goes to turn on his computer and find out where Chidori is being held.
For the longest time, the only sound in the room is the clacking of his keyboard’s keys - at some point before dawn, Takaya fell asleep, but his breaths are so shallow and short that Jin wouldn’t be able to tell if he was actually dead. Jin’s hair is still soaking, though his wet rag of a jacket’s been discarded in a heap across the room, and every so often droplets fall onto his hands as he scours the files of every hospital he knows the Kirijos have a hand in.
(As much as he doesn’t want to, he knows he has to check the files of the lab where the experiments had taken place all those years ago. Chidori isn’t there, thank God, or Nyx, or Takaya, or whatever, but every single file from that time has been wiped. Somehow, it makes him feel worse.
It doesn’t even really feel like it happened to him, anymore - it’s more like someone told him of these awful events and it was just one of those things that was so horrible that you internalise it and think about it daily. The kid who managed to escape with Chidori and Takaya seems like he died a long time ago. Jin doesn’t have time to mourn the deaths of those he never met.)
They get her back, and it feels like a blessing, before they’re right back to work again, bidding Chidori against the only people who seemed like they were any good for her.
Jin knows when they’ve been beaten, and they’ve been beaten. Part of him wants to tackle Takaya to the ground right now, point his own gun at him, tell him that it’s over, they can’t win - but he doesn’t.
“Jin,” she whispers, her voice a passing breeze. “Have you ever been in love?”
It’s a stupid question - she’s known him his whole life, or at least the important parts, so he’s sure that she’d know if he had been.
Then again, though, he has to think. He looks at her face in a way he seldom does - he’s never been one for eye contact - and wonders.
Maybe, he thinks, but does not say, I’d like to think so.
Instead, he scoffs.
“Love is for people who don’t have anything to worry about.” When Jin lies, he has a habit of choking on his own tongue. He chokes now. “Who needs love, when the end is so soon?”
Chidori is still so weak, but she has far more than enough energy to shoot him such an expression that he wouldn’t be surprised if she spit at his feet.
“You’re different now,” she tells him, and it makes his stomach twist. “You don’t get it.”
Chidori dies at the crux of November, and only then does Jin realise that she was right.
In Kirijo’s labs, the same conversation had taken place before, though Jin does not remember it.
The three of them sit around a plastic table, on plastic chairs, eating with plastic utensils. The food tastes plastic too, but Jin scarfs it down nonetheless.
Takaya and Chidori are lazily talking about something, haf-draped over the table, but Jin’s too busy trying to devour his lunch as fast as possible to listen. All of a sudden, they turn to him, their expressions reminding him of cat’s eyes.
“Jin,” Chidori says, and the depressed drawl of her voice he comes to associate her with hasn’t reared it’s ugly head yet. “Have you ever been in love?”
Jin laugh-coughs. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Answer the question,” Takaya’s smile is still full. “Have you?”
“Maybe,” he says. Smiling with them like this makes it easy to forget about the loud beeping of the machines in the next room, how the wires twist around people and make them look like the monsters they are forced against. “I’d like to think so.”