It was late afternoon when he reached the shrine.
It had been raining heavily for the last couple hours, turning the dirt paths winding up the mountain into unrecognizable masses of mud and puddles. Taki had struggled to make his way up, treading carefully to make sure he didn't slip and fall.
But he had made it.
He was there, at the top of the mountain, looking down into the crater. And it was there. Miyamizu Shrine.
There it is! It's really there, he thought to himself. It really wasn't just a dream.
He wiped the tears from his eyes. No time for that. His memory was already beginning to fade; he was running out of time.
He began to make his way down the crater walls and towards the shrine, making sure to not slip and fall the rest of the way down. The ground at the bottom was just as muddy as it was while he was climbing; his shoes were quickly becoming caked in mud. A dense fog hovered close to the ground, almost completely blocking the shrine from view. It took him several more minutes of walking to even get a glimpse of it.
He stopped at the edge of the pond, gazing at the shrine. It was wider, and deeper than he remembered. The storm had been severe, and the pond was now almost a meter deep in places, if Taki's guess was anything to go by.
A memory resurfaced from the hazy depths of his mind.
"Kakuriyo," he said. "The underworld."
He slipped into the water. It was cold against his skin and quickly went past his knees and up past his waist. It was only a distance of around 5 to 6 meters and only took a minute to cross, but it was long enough to let the cold seep into his bones and set him shivering uncontrollably. He ignored it. He didn't have time to focus on his being cold.
Not if he wanted to save Mitsuha while he still remembered.
He entered the shrine. It was damp, with moss covering the walls and most of the floor. He tread carefully, making sure to not slip on the wet moss.
At last, he reached the offerings. The two kuchikamisake bottles sat there, covered in moss after sitting for three years, untouched. He turned on his phone flashlight, gazing upon the bottles.
"The sake we brought," he whispered to himself. Half of Mitsuha was in one of these bottles. He could save her.
He grabbed one of the bottles, wiping some of the moss off, feeling the smooth ceramic underneath his fingers.
"Before the comet struck… So the Mitsuha I know is from 3 years ago?" He sighed. "Our timelines weren't in step."
He pulled on the braided cord, carefully setting it aside and pulling off the cap. With infinite care, he worked the cork out with a satisfying pop! as he slowly poured some Kuchikamisake, gazing upon the clear liquid. He sighed.
"Half of Mitsuha…" he whispered. "Musubi. If time can really be turned back, give me one last chance… to see Mitsuha again."
He downed the sake. It tasted bittersweet as it slid down his throat. He waited, expectant, hoping against hope that maybe, just maybe, he really could save her. Five seconds. Ten seconds. Twenty seconds. A minute passed by as he sat there, desperately hoping for that elusive second chance. But nothing.
He sighed, defeated.
He made to get up when his foot slipped out from underneath him. He fell backwards, time seeming to slow to a crawl as his phone, still gripped tightly in his hand, flew up…
To illuminate the brilliant streak of a comet sketched along the ceiling of the cave.
He slammed into the ground, hard, head hitting with a sickening crack. His vision was already dimming, distorting until all he saw was the small comet streaking across a star-crossed sky. Sights and sounds flashed before his eyes, too many for him to process.
The sound of a baby crying, the mother looking on, grasping the baby's hand with her own.
"Your name is Yotsuha…" she says, before the memory was swept away from him.
Why was he looking into her memories...
"You are both my treasures," a man's voice says. He knows it's Mitsuha's father. The view of a picture of Mitsuha with her parents sits on a shelf.
A get-well card, carefully done in crayon, taped to a hospital room wall, Yotsuha's name proudly stamped on it. A wilted flower sits, tired, in a vase.
"I'm so sorry…" the mother says. The father is tired, face worn and wrinkled with new lines. The two sisters look on, Yotsuha's expression one of confusion.
Did I pick the wrong bottle? Taki thought to himself.
"Dad, when's mom going to come home?" Yotsuha asks.
The sight of a traditional funeral procession. They're dressed in black.
"I couldn't save her…" the father says. The tears are flowing freely down his cheeks. Mitsuha looks on, concerned, Yotsuha's hand clenched in hers.
"Get a hold of yourself!" Mitsuha's grandmother cries out.
"Who cares about the shrine?" he shouts.
"You're the adopted son-in-law!"
"I loved Futaba. Not Miyamizu Shrine."
"Get out!" her grandmother shouts. Mitsuha curls up, hands pressed tightly to her ears. In the next room, Yotsuha looks up, bewildered by all the shouting.
"Mitsuha, Yotsuha, you'll be living with Grandma from now on…"
The trees sway slowly in the wind. They look sad.
"Grandma, Mitsuha's actin' all weird…" Yotsuha says one morning. "She's like a completely different person…"
"Is that so?" Hitoha asks, smirk on her face.
"I'm going to Tokyo," Mitsuha says. Yotsuha turns around, surprised.
"What?! Right now? Why?" she asks. Mitsuha seems to think about it a bit.
"You've got a Tokyo boyfriend?"
"Not my date," Mitsuha says, before hurrying down the stairs and towards the train station. Yotsuha looks on and shakes her head.
"She's really lost it…"
Going to Tokyo…
Why did Mitsuha go to Tokyo?
"Are you going to the festival?" Kaito asks. Yotsuha nods.
"Of course. Why wouldn't I?"
"The comet'll be at its brightest tonight," Aoi speaks up. "How's your sister doing?"
Yotsuha sighed. "She's being all weird again. She got her hair cut short yesterday, and she even lost her cord. She's so crazy sometimes…"
The sight of Yotsuha putting on her yukata. It's red, with pink flowers. The image is completed by red hair ties holding up her pigtails. She leaves her room. Mitsuha's waiting in the blue yukata her mother used to wear.
She's beautiful, Taki thought to himself.
The sight of a comet in the distance.
"Wow…" Kaito says, staring up at it in awe.
"It's so beautiful…"
No, no, no, you can't stay...
Yotsuha, get out. Take Mitsuha and Grandma and go!
Staring up in wonder...
Yotsuha, get out of here! He shouted. No use, they can't hear him.
And then in increasing horror as the comet came down, down, down, hitting the ground with the brilliant light of a thousand suns.
Yotsuha looked on in terror as the shockwave reached her-
He woke up, shooting upright in his bed. Except wasn't his. He looked around. The room was familiar, yet foreign. There was a lot more pink, and in place of the now-familiar white shirt with a bow and black skirt was an orange hoodie, yellow shorts, and knee-high pink socks. He looked down. He was flatter; gone was Mitsuha's body (and by extension her well-endowed chest), and in its place was Yotsuha's body.
There was a full-length mirror in her room. He rushed over, gazing upon the person staring back at him. Sure enough, it was Yotsuha.
He screamed. Something had gone very wrong.
Mitsuha woke up to the high-pitched screaming of her sister. She had barely enough time to rub the sleep from her eyes when Yotsuha came crashing in, tears streaming down her face.
"MITSUHAAAAAAAA!" she shouted, crashing into her, burying her face into Mitsuha's chest and wailing with all her might.
"It's you, it's really you…" Yotsuha blubbered into Mitsuha's chest. "It worked, it really worked!"
"Uhh…" She wasn't sure whether to scream, hug Yotsuha back, or do something besides those two. She settled for the third option.
"Ehh, sis?" she began. "Are you ok?"
No response. Yotsuha continued to blubber and hug her as tightly as she possibly could.
"She's really lost it, huh…" Mitsuha muttered to herself.
Author's Note: Hey, it's been awhile. Sorry about that. I got the idea to write this fanfic from a piece of fanart I saw when I was browsing the interwebs and thought, "Man, I could probably write a story about this." So I tried. I can't really say whether or not I did a good job, nor can I find that piece of fanart again, but feedback would be pretty cool, I guess.
As for updates, I think this'll be my main project for the time being, and I'll try to keep updates and new chapters roughly timely. Not like I've got many chances to play World of Warships for the foreseeable future.
Anyways, time to go. I'll catch y'all later.