Within this time that’s passing through, we met by chance
And I’m believing in the me who’s changing
Until this dream arrives at its end, carve out a blue everyday
Fight your fate!
“Nee, mite mite!” Sounds of cooing and babbling woke him up from his slumber, from another haze that he barely remembered anymore. Slowly but surely, the dreams were lessening, though a single encounter with the shadow in his mind was more than enough to still render him nearly useless for the entire day, much to his frustration.
“Well now, aren’t you both just darling?” His mother, no doubt keeping the two entertained while he begrudgingly pulled himself up, having overslept by a long shot–again–the clock about to strike 13 o'clock in the afternoon. So much for keeping his promise of going for a walk in the morning…he stilled as a slight brush of wind fluttered over his cheeks, noticing for the first time that the curtains were slightly open, letting in a warm breeze.
Someone had come into his room while he’d slept… Though it was likely just his mother, or even his son, somehow the thought of being observed, looked at when he was at his most vulnerable…it sent a twist into his gut, because there was only one person he would allow to see that fragility of what made him human…
And she was no longer there…
“Ah, Adam…I assume you slept fairly well, then?” A light teasing tone as he finally wandered into the main room, having actually washed up and was wearing something other than a t-shirt and sweatpants for once.
“Tou-san! Tou-san tou-san, does this mean we can go out today?” He’d barely even sat down to eat something before the energetic blur tackled his leg, the enthusiasm so infectious even Adam felt a stirring of affection, of that satisfaction in the small things in life he never thought he would feel again.
“Yeh…sorry I woke up so late. But I didn’t forget…after lunch, we can go out for a bit. You’d like that, no?”
He couldn’t help but smile.
“Don’t go too far where I can’t see you; stay close, all right?” The sun was so brilliant that for a second he feared he might actually go blind, but if made them happy, then it was worth it.
Laughing, the toddler took off after the butterflies, or at least as well as he could on his stubby little legs. His daughter was still too young to do anything other than be held, but if he put her down she would automatically start to crawl towards anything that caught her interest–chairs, rugs, and now it seemed, rocks. It wouldn’t be long before she would probably start walking his mother had commented, while beaming with pride.
“An’ you, get to stay right here,” he muttered while pulling her back before she could sink into the soft mud near the riverbank. She made a pouty face at him as he cradled her, obviously upset at being unable to explore. “Oy, you’re way too young t’ be givin’ me that look…I swear, if this is what you’re like now…can’t wait ‘til you’re a teenager…”
Still, despite the fact that he felt like a vampire that was out of its coffin for the first time, he had to admit the air was pleasant, its warmth comforting. After what seemed like countless weeks of his self-imposed prison, to be able to live again…it was almost surreal.
A shadow passed over his face, and he realized that he was about to doze off again, despite having slept so long. “Eh? What’s up, squirt?”
“Ano…are you gonna take a nap?”
Huh? Where did that come from? Though, in the shade of the tree, with the warmth from the sunshine and nothing but the wind as it gently weaved its way through the cattails…it sounded extremely tempting. “Well…I wasn’t planning to…why? Don’t tell me you’re already tired out?”
“N-No! …Maybe…” Chuckling to himself, he patted the spot next to him and the child plopped down, already rubbing his eyes.
“Riight.” Well, considering that all three of them were already snuggling into a pile of drowsiness…nap time it was, then.
“…–at way! You know…”
“…oy not so hard, squirt!”
“Well, excuse me,” a sudden bump and he was very confused, because where the hell, “are you just gonna stand there all day young man?” A dourly old lady with several bags and a cane glared at him, apparently he was standing in the middle of the doorway.
“Sumimasen…” He answered in Japanese on automatic, brain switching instantly to respond in another language despite his immense confusion. The obaa-san muttered something about the ignorance of foreigners that were infesting Tokyo nowadays before shuffling around him. “What the bloody hell…”
Wait, Tokyo? It felt like gravity was gone and he was in limbo, head swirling from the overload of information. Wasn’t he just in England? Weren’t they about to take a nap on the riverbank? His son, daughter–!
“Where the hell am I?!” His breath froze in the air and he stilled, realizing he was wearing a heavy overcoat and scarf. This wasn’t England at all…not even the right season…perhaps the question should be when was he, not just where.
‘Or maybe this is all just some…extremely realistic dream…’
Or just wishful thinking on your part.
Thankfully he was sitting down on a bench, or else he might’ve fallen over entirely. ‘Nightingale?! Bloody hell, don’t tell me this is one of your tricks again!’
I can assure you, this is no trick.
‘Well then, what the hell is this?! Some sort of…vision?!’
…In a sense.
‘Then what’s the point? What am I supposed to do?’ No response, his head suddenly feeling very empty. “Tch, thanks for nothin’, you old hag…” Still, if this was a vision as she’d implied…
It was Tokyo, he was pretty sure. Whether or not it was real life Tokyo or some made-up Tokyo…well perhaps that wasn’t the important part. As for timeframe…he couldn’t tell. Certainly, it seemed like the same as when he’d left it, albeit winter instead of summer.
As if being guided, he felt his feet start moving towards some destination. ‘Th’ Tokyo Tower…?’ He looked up at the immense structure in front of him, the iron beams decked out with lights to celebrate the…holidays? ‘Is it Christmas already?!’
That made some more sense, but still didn’t explain exactly why he was here and what he was supposed to get out of it. But maybe, there was a reason…making his way to the top of the observation deck, ignoring the myriad of the other happy couples who were giggling and taking photos with their phones. Why here, why now…for some reason there was a strange sense of anxiety, as if he should be afraid of what it was that awaited him at the top…
“–Ah, Adam-san, you’re back already?” His heart nearly stopped at the voice. Because it just wasn’t possible–because how–!
“Oh! I-I mean…s-sorry, I uh, thought you were, someone…else…” But as she stared back at him, those large maroons widening even further, her voice dropping to a hush… “…A, Adam…?”
A petite brunette, hair cut into a messy bob that framed her face nicely and dressed very much like when they had first met. She was younger, that was for certain…eyes still very much innocent and not yet hardened by all the horrors and tragedies she would come to face. Her knees were starting to buckle and on automatic instinct he rushed forward, to be able to catch her this time when he failed to then–
“I-I, I don’t…understand…a-are you, Adam? But, you look a little…d-different…” She touched his face briefly and he thought he could just die happy now, to be able to feel her again, see her, even if this was just all in his head…
“Y-Yeh…shit, I don’t really know what the hell’s goin’ on myself, but–” The girl gave a squeak as he nearly crushed her, unable to stop himself now that she was here in his arms, warm, soft and safe–“Gods Sio, you have no…you have no idea how much I’ve–”
“–A-Ah, Adam…san?” For all intents and purposes he fully expected her to just freak out and shove him away, but she didn’t; as if unconsciously knowing, what he was and why he was here.
If this is a dream…please don’t let it end… Time, manner and place, none of that seemed real at all–until he was roughly pulled away from her, followed by a surprisingly effective blow to his stomach, a very familiar voice barking at just who the bloody hell was he and how dare he assault his girlfriend–
“I-Iya, wait a minute, Adam!”
“Wha’ for? Swear to god, next time I'm not leavin’ you alone even for a minute–”
Adam? Another Adam? Or was it… Groaning, he slowly climbed to his feet, almost dreading looking at that figure whom he somehow already knew–
“–you…you two look almost identical…”
White hair, piercing emeralds for eyes except the left one was always hidden under a veil of white. It was like looking into a mirror…except this mirror could only have existed in the past.
“…I-It can’t…is this some weird, batshit insane e-gene deal–” His younger self gulped nervously, what little color that remained in his face drained to a bloodless white, and it was incredibly surreal, to see himself–them, as they used to be.
How much of this was real…and how much of it was a dream? Without thinking, he reached out and grasped the other’s arm, only to feel an enormous shock pulse through him.
“Gah! Bloody hell…what’re doing?!”
“I-I don’t, know…” Suddenly he felt incredibly dizzy, gripping onto the handrail to prevent himself from slumping over–and he wasn’t the only one.
“Adam, daijoubu?! Both of you…”
The two of you are resonating…
‘What the hell does that even mean…! Argh–whatever it is you're doin’, knock it off!’
Their lives may be different, but the soul…it remains unchanged.
‘Are you trying to say…I’m in, some…alternate timeline dimension?!’
…I will accept that.
Of course she would never tell him. Silence once again, after his head cleared slightly and he realized that Sio had been checking on both of them, peering worriedly between two nearly-identical faces. “A-Ano, are you…okay?”
This was just getting too bizarre. But first things first…if he really had been given a chance to go into another timeline, and back in time at that… “Yeh…look, I know this is incredibly confusing and well, bizarre, but I think I know…what’s goin’ on.” A skeptical look from the younger one, but how could you doubt your own self?
“…All right then. Why don’t we head somewhere quieter.”
It wasn’t what he’d call ‘quieter’, but at least they weren’t standing around yelling at each other in a public space. Though, he wished his other self could’ve picked a less-conspicuous cafe–when they’d first entered, the number of stares the two of them attracted–no doubt many thought they were brothers, or even twins, and it was making him very uneasy.
“…So, let me get this straight: you’re…me, but from…what, another dimension? Timeline?” Identical emeralds stared back into his own, one white brow raised in suspicion. “Tch—if I didn’t already go through this crazy shit with DOGOO an’ all that already…”
They had all ordered hot chocolate—was this what Nightingale had meant by their lives being different, but the soul was the same? And which soul? Did yet another Nightingale exist in this place, too, controlling the other Adam with the same invisible strings he was bound by?
“But if, if you’re here…then there must be a reason…” Two sets of emeralds turned towards the girl, and she blushed under their scrutiny. “I-I mean, is…is there something you need from us?”
That feeling, the urge to just embrace her and never let go…suddenly there was a wave of emotions running through him, and it must’ve shown, for the two others looked at him with slight concern. For one wild second, he wanted to just take this Sio and bring her back, even if it was probably impossible and even if it was essentially stealing from himself…
“Or…” Another sip, and the younger albino narrowed his emerald, “…you're here to deliver some…not-so-good news…aren’t you?”
“I…don’t actually know.” Which was the truth; all Nightingale had hinted at was that this was something important, but as for the what, the why…he was on his own. “It’s not like she”–he gave his head a tap–“told me anything other than that this isn't a dream. Is yours tellin’ you anything?”
The boy fell silent, no doubt holding an audience with his own e-gene. “…Not really. Actually, she’s not sayin’ much at all…”
“Hmph, figures. Guess some things never change…”
“W-Well, then, Muirhead-san,” he gave her a look, not used to being addressed only by his last name, “a-ah, gomen, but it’s just…a little confusing to call you ‘Adam’ too. Ano…is that okay? Maybe we can call you ‘Jack-san’ instead–”
“–’s fine. Don’t worry about it. It’s just you–I mean, she…never called me by my last name, so…” The girl nodded shyly, eyes taking on that look he knew very well–the one where she was about to blurt out something, but wasn’t sure if she should. “Well, what is it, squirt? You've got somethin’ t’ say…I know it.”
“Oy, only I can call her that–”
“–Are you forgetting I’m also you, moron–”
“–Y-You guys, please,” and she grabbed both their arms, silencing their spat instantly. “It’s okay…I-I’m just thinking…”
“…That, maybe…there aren’t any rules for, whatever this is…maybe Muirhead-san should just do…what he feels is, the right thing…”
Trust Sio–no matter which version of her–to always point out the the answer that was right in front of them, yet somehow he failed to think of. After all, Nightingale had given him neither instructions nor restrictions, so who was to say that he couldn’t just blurt everything out? Perhaps it wouldn’t even affect anything in his own timeline…but if he was sent to a time and place where they were still together…
…untainted by the tragedy that would force them apart…
‘…Does this mean there’s a chance that these two…will have the life that we couldn’t…?’ For some reason that thought made him simultaneously hopeful and yet consumed with grief; how unfair, as if he was being cruelly teased with a vision of what could have been, but was now out of his reach.
“S-So, uh…if, you’re here, uh, does that mean there’s an…older version of me, too?"
He stared at her with sorrowful emeralds, unsure if he should even respond or not. “…There was…but, she’s no longer…around…” There was a sharp intake of breath from both of them, no doubt they were thinking the worst. “Ah, I mean…it’s not, what you’re thinking…the Sio I know…my Sio…she’s not dead. Just…I think, it’ll be a very long time before she wakes up again.”
“H-How…” His younger self was demanding answers, clearly shaken by the possibility of losing her. “If she’s in a…coma…it must’ve been…serious…"
They were locking hands together–how sweet, he noted, though he doubted either of them were aware of actually doing it. “…Yeh…th’ mission was a total disaster; didn’t help that she was pregnant too–”
“P-Pregnent?!” For a second the serious atmosphere dissipated, and the poor girl blushed a deep, deep crimson, as did his counterpart. “L-Like, y-you know, w-we….”
As grim as his loss was, their reactions were too priceless–he could feel his mouth curving into that signature grin. “Oh, don’t worry–we were already married by then,” another round of incoherent squeaking and stuttering from the two blushing teens, “and uh, it wasn’t our first…kid.” He had to hide his smirk into the sleeve of his jacket as the two attempted to look at anything but each other.
“I-I, see…w-well, I guess that’s…good to know…” Attempting to recover from the initial shock, the other Adam hastily swallowing a mouthful of cocoa. “Just please tell me it wasn’t a shotgun wedding…”
“…Nah. You’re more responsible than you think, kid…” As the other heaved a sigh of relief, the girl turned her attention towards him.
“Nee, Muirhead-san…I-I mean, if, in your future, I’m…in a coma,” her eyes dropped and she squeezed his other’s hand, “…does this mean, the same thing will…happen to me, here?” There was a sudden growl from the younger man and he knew that feeling, the sense of wanting protect everything around him.
“Not. Happening. I swear…I don’t care what occurs in some other dimension or whatnot, but I will not let anything happen t’ you…I-I mean, you said so yourself–that, it’s a completely different timeline…it doesn’t mean the exact same thing’ll happen here…right?”
He hoped so; truly, he wished them to have the life, that fairy-tale ending one always dreamed of in his stead, now that his chance was already over. “…I’m sorry I can’t give you two a straight answer…but what I can give you, is the chance that it won’t happen.” Their faces were so hopeful, so full of optimism…who was to say that they wouldn’t be able to achieve the dreams he couldn’t?
“…Well, I suppose that’s better than nothing. Don’t suppose you've got anymore tips on how to prevent all this shit?”
“Yeh; don’t send your pregnant wife out in battle,” and in spite of themselves the three shared a quick laugh, “but, no…I suppose, if there’s anything t’ be gained out of all this…it’s to never give up hope. Trust yourself, and your feelings; even when you think there’s nothing left…your fate, promise me you’ll fight it…”
They stayed silent for a bit after that, the cafe having gotten considerably quieter now that the hour was getting late. Muttering about heading out soon, he paid for their bill (somehow he also had his wallet), and the three headed back into the crisp winter night.
“How long’re you stayin’? How does this whole time-dimension-travel spiel work anyway…” They were back at the Tokyo Tower, one of the few places left that still had some semblance of a crowd around it.
“Who knows; the last thing I remember before coming here, was taking a nap along the River Thames with the kids,” and he could hear Sio whisper excitedly something about multiple children to the blushing young man, “maybe if I fall asleep here or something I’ll just wake up back where I was.”
“Mmm…well, if you need a place to stay until then, you’re…more than welcome to join us at…m-my, house…”
He gave her a gentle smile. “…Thank you, Sio…” Though, he was getting a feeling that it might not come to that, after all. Somehow, he unconsciously knew…that he had accomplished whatever it was that he’d been sent to do, or learn, or…whatever. The rest of the time now, it was just extra, to spend cherishing something that likely he would never get to experience again, being with her…
“Whoa, hey look, a shooting star!” Excited maroons glittered as she tugged both their sleeves and pointed to the trailing light across the darkness of midnight. “Hurry, close your eyes and make a wish!”
Nagareboshi…the thing that he wished for, wanted more than anything else…his eyes fluttered shut and slowly he gripped the girl’s hand, relishing the warmth from her fingers.
“Tou-san tou-san, wake up?” The toddler fell backwards with a squeal as he shot up, eyes squinting at the setting sun. “Tou-san, daijoubu?”
“Daijoubu desu…” Looking around, he saw one toddler blinking curiously back at him, and a baby who was still sleeping while sucking her thumb. “Gods…was it really just a dream?” Heart pounding, it took several deep breaths and a reminder that he was not crazy before he calmed down some.
‘Did that really just happen? Otherwise what could it be…’
Just because it was in your head, does not mean it wasn’t real…
Oh, great. Of course she would reveal herself now, after it was all said and done. ‘How nice of you t’ show up…when I don’t actually need you…’
Do you have that little faith in your own abilities? In your own beliefs?
He let out a sardonic chuckle, the kids confused because of course they couldn’t hear her. ‘What, are you tryin’ to tell me that what my being there…will actually make a difference?’ Knowing how he was in his younger years, his other self would probably freak out for a few days, then eventually dismiss it as just another weird side-effect of being an e-gene holder.
This world…holds countless different paths. Do you not want to believe that somewhere else, there is a you who will know true happiness?
And then she vanished, in that strange, inexplicable method that he had a feeling was shared by all e-genes. Smiling, but mostly to himself, he took his son by the hand and carried the infant on his hip. “C’mon squirt, we’d best be gettin’ back before grandmum starts calling the coppers on us for bein’ late to dinner.”
“…Are we going back soon?” Once again, the ability to understand what he meant without any other words.
“…Yeh. Tomorrow, in fact.”
The cold wind sliced like steel through even his jacket–but no matter, for it wasn’t like they’d be on the deck for long–
“–Mr. Jack! Welcome back sir, good to see you again–”
“–Easy there cadet, no need to be so formal–”
“Adam! You’re back!”
“About bloody time, I was starting to think you wanted me to be the leader…”
“–You mean you didn’t enjoy ordering me around on the field, Jess?”
“Say that again and I’ll stomp you flat–”
He laughed; the sound startled him as much as it did the other members, but he couldn’t help it. It was…good, to be back. To feel alive, again…
‘So this is what it’s like…to actually live…’
Adam was not a fool; he knew this was only the start of a long, difficult, and likely never-ending battle that he would fight for the rest of his life. But if this was his fate…then so be it. He would accept it, accept that this version of his soul would suffer an inexorable tragedy…but there was the hope that there would be at least one other, who would perhaps escape it all together…
“Nee tou-san, can we say hi to Mummy?”
The other two glanced at each other, but he simply shrugged and gave his son a small smile.
“Sure, why not.”