AN: I figured this story should have a conclusion. Voila.


Our Wedding Anniversary is Wrong, As Expected

Chapter 9:

In the suburbs of Chiba, an industry orientated city in Japan, about 6 miles from the site of Soubu High, there is an apartment.

There isn't anything particularly outstanding or extraordinary about it. In fact, it's just about as mundane and boring as a flat can possibly be. It's located in a small square that a driver would reach by taking a right turn off a main road- in short, barely noticeable. The flat in question is on the second floor, but anyone apart from the person inhabiting a place of this kind would not be able to identify it. It has a metallic door just like any other, with a view that, instead of looking out onto the distant buildings of the Chiba business sector and the countryside beyond them, simply looks out onto the rest of the square. A couple of cars are parked on the gravel, and the noise of the traffic and the constant movement of the city rumbles like booming artillery of a distant battlefield.

As Hachiman walks up the stairs that take him to the second floor (the apartments open out onto an outside corridor as opposed to an actual complex), he can't help but feel as if he himself is returning from a battefield. Despite a lack of any real physical exertion, his arms are lugging weights he can scarcely comprehend. Despite a lack of any mental exertion, his mind is aching, like the result of a thousand headaches that he'd somehow managed to ignore. It's an emotion that he knew of, that he'd felt in excess before, but that he'd forgotten. Now, it's making him fully aware of it once more.

He walks along the corridor, replaying the events of the evening over and over, like skipping film reel in his head. Why does it feel like these cues, these images, these lines that were recited, have all been done so before? It's a film that he's watched on repeat so many times it feels more like deja vu than it does something that actually took place.

Yuigahama Yui, and Yukinoshita Yukino. Two names that have been on his lips for so long. Was he ever going to be rid of them? Perhaps once, in some distant daydream in a moment even further from memory, he'd thought that eventually a time might arrive when those four words would suddenly fall from his memory, evaporate from his vocabulary, and float away like comets into an endless vaccuum. And with them would fade all of the pessimism and the cynicism or whatever you wanted to call it, and he'd be left with an innocence that faded with that same finality in his youth. Then, he could start again, and counteract previous mistakes. A blank slate. Every human has undoubtedly wished for that at some point in their life.

But, a blank slate wouldn't just mean the evaporation of the times we'd rather forget, like the times of social humiliation and arguments and of thinking "why the hell did I say that". Those minimal instances of happiness would disappear too like dust caught in a twister, leaving only the vague scent of petrichor; the promise of a laugh or a sigh or kiss that you can no longer remember.

Those moments are worth carrying on for. Even if you have to wade through a mudslide of bitterness and failure, at some point, one can only hope that they will find a diamond. Or, at the very least, something akin to that.

When Hachiman reaches the door, he opens it with his key, but pauses at the handle. Strange, for despite the events he had to navigate at Yukino and Hayato's anniversary, a tiny part of him was quick to remind him that he was also just as in for it when he returned to his apartment.

He sighs. There isn't much point in putting it off. He'd made a stupid choice (to the surprise of no one). It was only yet another he'd have to live with.

He opens the door.

And is immediately met by the arms of another.

"Where the hell have you been, Hikio?! I was worried sick about you!"

He grunts, trying to get Miura Yumiko's tangled blonde hair out of his face. Even to this day, her embraces are just as bonecrushing as they were when they first met.

The day they first met. In truth, he met her on two different days. Such a ridiculous statement shouldn't make sense, but to Hachiman, it makes so much sense that it makes him want to laugh and cry, all in one glorious mess, at once. What does it mean to know someone? How can you possibly claim to know somebody from a snippet of conversation, or even a billion conversations, when people have such a tendency to lie and to pretend and to unintentionally, but really intentionally, forget.

The Miura Yumiko he saw on his first day at Soubu High, and occasionally spoke to in the next few years is so radically different to the one encased in his arm. Back then, she'd been the epitome of everything antagonised in his loner philosophy; the antithesis to him, Hikigaya Hachiman, the King of Loners. She lied with the same ease as Hayama Hayato, and though she'd expressed the desire to change her stagnant group's dynamic it had never really materialised to much. Despite the efforts of the Service Club, he might add.

Then, in university, the same event that torn him in two did the very same for her. Hachiman had been in love with Yukinoshita Yukino. Miura had been in love with Hayama Hayato. Although they'd been too preoccupied with themselves at the time, two hearts had broken simultaneously when Hayato and Yukino announced they were engaged. Both of them, upon hearing the same news, were catapulted into the very same darkened, infinitely total abyss.

Recounting the story in his mind then and there... Hachiman can't help but think of a single word. Destiny. Not a word he has any belief or faith in, but a lesser thinker (in his eyes) might put their meeting a couple of years later down to that.

Hachiman had been wandering. He did indeed become a taxi driver, and lived in the same flat that they still did now. Life had been a constant, unmoving, unrelenting squall of monotony. It wasn't as if with the respectable qualifications he earned that he couldn't strive for better; it was just that he found himself devoid of motivation, or ambition, or even really of emotion. It wasn't just the break up of his friendship with Yukino or Yui. It was amplified by the stress of living in a world he hated and disagreed with on principle, with people who had never even tried to understand him.

He'd seen shades of that Hachiman in the Yukino and Yui at the wedding anniversary. More than shades, in fact. It was a reflection. The bitterness, the obsession with past memories so creaking and antiquated they may as well have been rusting metal. But that very same reflection could be same, yet somehow deeper and clearer beheld, in Miura Yumiko.

He picked her up in one of his taxi rounds. She was waving at him and he pulled in and he recognised her but he didn't recognise her, because the person on the pavement was so utterly apart from the gossiping Fire Queen of Soubu High. Her blonde hair was wild. Her clothes looked uneven and her shirt was untucked. She never did tell him what exactly happened on her night out (though she conceded such nights were a regrettably regular occurrence). When she climbed into the taxi, the air was tainted by a stench of alcohol so thick he thought it similar to smoke, choking his windpipe and replacing the oxygen in his blood with toxic fumes, and then she vomited and the smell of that was somehow even more overriding.

She was too drunk to tell him when she lived, so he ended up driving her back to his apartment. She slept on the couch.

It had felt foreign even then, when he woke up in the morning and there was a beautiful girl in his presence. She apologised profusely, and he accepted the apologies bluntly, but he'd really struggled to notice that her shirt was still untucked and the pale skin of her stomach was exposed, and she didn't seem to be wearing a bra and that he couldn't stop looking.

Suddenly, they were having sex right there, on the couch where the warmth of her body still radiated. Suddenly, it wasn't just something they could attribute to spontaneity and lust. Suddenly, they were meeting regularly and they were going dates. Suddenly, Miura's hair was being combed again. Suddenly, they were kissing so deeply and fiercely that it felt like the whole world was splitting at the seams when they did so, and they were collapsing into that fissure... or maybe they weren't, and the kisses were an ascension. An ascension from that same darkened, total abyss.

Because then, even more suddenly, she'd moved into his apartment. Suddenly, it was something permanent. Suddenly, his life revolved around the whims of a woman as impossible to satisfy as she was joyous to be with.

Their lives began to change. The name Yukinoshita Yukino or Yuigahama Yui was no longer quite so prevalent, or ready to burst from his chest. Instead, it was Miura Yumiko that lay on the tip of his tongue, and likewise for her, it wasn't Hayama Hayato imagined on the other side of her bed, but himself. Except that he wasn't imagined, and Hachiman still wasn't sure what to think about that. Miura managed to get a job as a secretary, and though he still works as a taxi driver on and off to make ends meet, he's also writing a book. Well. Trying to write a book.

Nearly fifteen years with one woman. Huh. Hachiman shifted, accommodating her body against his by resting his arms on her waist. Even after so long, the sudden bouts of affection, the contact and the intimacy, still catch him by surprise. It is no longer the awkwardness that is the route of this, but more so the fact that, after the Service Club, he'd somehow convinced himself that this affinity was for the riajuu of the world alone, and certainly not a loner like him. If you'd told him that, after 493,516,800 seconds, he'd still be in a longstanding relationship, he would've scoffed, and understandably so.

"Remind me why I went, Miu...?" he mutters, somewhere in the gold of her hair.

She breaks away from the hug and pulls him into the apartment, closing the door behind them. Then, she pushes him against it so hard that a sharp pain shoots down his neck.

"That was for leaving without telling me, Hikio."

He opens his mouth but is cut off by her lips.

"And that's for coming back. Eventually."

He sniggers. 'Also remind me to leave for extended periods of time more often.'

She ignores, and the kiss lingers for a few moments longer.

"So... how bad was it?"

Hachiman blinks. "... Worse than I imagined."

"Really?"

"I don't know why, but... a part of me thought that... that they might've found something, I guess. Not necessarily genuine, but... just something. But they hadn't. In fact, they might've lost a thing or two while searching."

Miura doesn't say anything at first.

"I told you it was a stupid idea as soon as the letter came-"

"I had to see them, Miu, so don't talk to me about that."

Both of them go silent.

"Miu..."

"Yes?"

"You're happy, right?"

Hachiman is surprised at how desperate his voice sounds. But, after seeing such a lack of it for the evening, just a glimpse will suffice.

He gets far more than that. Miura Yumiko scoffs.

"Do I seriously need to answer that?"


Fifteen years.

A great number of things can happen in fifteen years. Friendships can fall apart. Relationships can shift. People can change.

Humans have very little to cling onto in life. But, if you put that into the grand scheme things, a human's happiness and unhappiness is so miniscule it seems hardly worth considering. The universe is so obtrusively, inconveniently sheer in its scale. Stars explode and supernova and another one rises in its place every day, and if something so huge can burn in a flash, then how insignificant must a human's emotions be?

But... insignificance is not quite the same as irrelevance. Any sane person would prefer to be happy rather than sad, and if life is meaningless, then they may as well make the most of it. Therefore, true, genuine happiness is worth pursuing. Be it happiness for fifteen years, or a lifetime, or even just for a second.

Truth, like everything else, is relative. Words have an uncanny ability to be misleading. But, once or twice a millenia, they've been known to hold something of merit.

So, if upon being asked, Hikigaya Hachiman and Miura Yumiko reported that they were happy... you may as well believe them.