A/N: This is not a fanfic. If you say it is, go make me an account on the fanfic site and I will post it there.


"Narusegawa…" I watched her disappear into the Tokyo crowd. She was like a dream slowly growing bad.

"Loss," said one old man to another. "What is loss?"

"That is a good question," replied the other old man. "Loss is like a dream, both are painful when realized and both are temporary."

"mmm…" mumbled the first man. "You speak the truth."

There had been a rumor going around town: People who confess their love on Christmas Eve have all their wishes granted. Everything had another side to it though, do people who are dumped on Christmas Eve have a curse placed on them? I looked towards the sky. There were sky scrapers as high as the clouds. There could be angels on top of them throwing snow down on us to create the illusion of precipitation.

"Narusegawa…" What is a man supposed to do? How does a man react differently than a boy? Am I a man or a boy? Should I follow her through this crowd? Accept the chains of love so that they can set me free? Should I let her go and let this pain be mine alone?

"So many questions…" said one old man to another, "But what do they mean?"

"Questions?" The old men watched me. "Are they a step forward or are they an excuse to stand still?"

"I do not know," said the first old man.

"Narusegawa!" I pushed my way through the crowd. "Narusegawa!" Tokyo is a large city and if someone does not wish to be found she can easily slip away. "Narusegawa! I'm Sorry! Onegai! Please! I love y-"

"Shut up, kid!" A man shoved me onto the ground. The crowd closed around me and moved on through the endless night air.

"Narusegawa…" I lay on the ground shivering and hopeless. Why should I get up? She was the person that mattered most to me. Whatever I had said or done had broken that fragile thing that we had liked to call a relationship.

"Love," the old man spoke. "What is love?"

"A conditioned reflex to a particular pheromone combination and mixture of facial features?" asked the second old man.

"A certain balance of serotonin and dopamine in the brain?" asked the first.

"I do not know," said the second.

"I love you," said the first old man to the second.

"I love you too," said the second old man to the first.

"Let's be together." They embraced and faded into the winter night.

"Narusegawa… I love you…" I whispered to myself and to her wherever she might have been. I saw the moon far above the city. Few people noticed me as I lay on the ground staring off into space; it's not an uncommon sight in Tokyo to losers lost in love. I forced myself to stand up. Perhaps life had meaning with or without her. I wanted my life to have meaning with her. I would get her back so that we could move forward together. The difference between a man and a boy is that a man has the power to shape his own destiny while a boy relies on others to do it for him. I wandered through the mass of lovers and happy faces. Neon signs filled the air brighter than any god-made object ever could. I found the sign that I wanted and shoved my way to it.

"25 yen… 25 yen… I need 25 yen…" I searched my pockets even though I knew that I had spent the last of my money on the subway ride over here. I was about to walk away and die alone in some cold alley when one of those little Christmas miracles happened. I noticed some change on top of the phone box with a little note:

Have the strength to do what I could not. Merry Christmas.

-Kei

God rest his soul whoever he was. I dialed the number and the phone rang twice. "Hello? Shinobu-chan? If Naru-chan calls, tell her that I'll be at the pedestrian bridge over twelfth and fifth… Merry Christmas to you, too… Bye." Shinobu was a good girl; I sincerely hoped that destiny would be kind to her.

"Always thinking of others," said one old man.

"And never of himself," said another.

"Is it a virtue or a fault?"

"Perhaps both?"

"Hai…"

I walked slowly down the sidewalk. The store displays were lit up with everything anyone could ever want. I thought that I should get Naru a present, but what would I get her? What is something that says "I'm sorry. I love you. Will you love me too?" of course roses do not grow in December. I passed rows of red dresses, jewelry, candies, and other things I could not afford. I thought about the objects between us that meant something. I thought of cheap bracelet I bought her for her birthday and of that picture. That picture had been taken back in happier times, back when there was no snow on the ground. We were both smiling in that picture, pretending to be happy. We had been living a dream, but perhaps it had been nothing more than a sugary lie?

"What is the difference between a dream and a lie?" asked one old man of another.

"A dream is a personal lie, and a lie is a shared dream," replied the other.

"That seems sad, does it not?"

"It does," said the second man. "But perhaps we are destined to sadness?"

"Perhaps…" said the first.

They stood in silence for a moment.

"Can one changed one's destiny?" asked the first.

"We shall see," replied the second.

I was cold so I stopped at a vending machine to buy some tea with the remaining money from the phone box. The hot can popped out and on second thought, another popped out after it. I put one in my jacket and opened the other. Steam rose out of it like my breath. Steam rose out of it like her breath. "Narusegawa… I will find you…" I promised myself. "Damn…" I spit some tea on the snow after burning my tongue. The snow melted in the shape of the splash of tea. I let the tea warm my hands as I waited for it to cool. Tonight was one of those long and quiet nights perfect for both lovers and loners. I walked down the sidewalk, past young children staring at toy displays and old children staring at each other. I saw some old men talking in the distance as old men are wont to do. I passed some old men wearing traditional clothes and talking in the distance as old men are wont to do. Some people seem to fear change, but perhaps everyone is afraid of it in their own way.

I continued on my lonely way down the side of Fifth Street, down past all the holiday displays and gaudy Christmas decorations. There were shops filled with empty promises and people filled with empty hearts. My tea can was empty, so I tossed it in a nearby trashcan. I could see the bridge in the distance, crowded with people of all ages.

"Why do people seek comfort in another's arms?" asked one old man of another.

"Even though they know that they will be hurt and betrayed?" asked the second.

"Yes."

"Sometimes people need lies more than they need truth. People need to feel as if they have a purpose."

"Even if they have no purpose?" asked the first.

"Yes," replied the second.

"Why are people destined for sadness? Why are people always alone, no matter how closely they hold each other?"

The second man never answered.

I climbed the stairs up to the top of the bridge. I worked my way through the lovers and dreamers until I found a vacant spot on the railing. These people seemed so silly, believing that they could hold on to a particular moment forever. They lived in a sort of bliss that comes from chilled air and buzzing atmosphere. I hoped that I could be like them soon.

"Narusegawa… Where are you?" I looked up and down the lines of people, but she wasn't here. I turned and watched the traffic pass below my feet. Busses, taxis, people with purposes, all speeding towards some far off Christmas destination. I checked my watch. It was 23:55, a half an hour since I called. Maybe she wasn't even coming. The whole plan depended on so much. I had put all of my faith into hope. I had to hope that she would feel sorry, hope that she had called home, and hope that she would love me again. Hope can be such a terrible thing.

"Hope," said one old man to another. "What is hope?"

"The only thing that mankind has." replied the other.

"Mmm…"

They were silent.

I watched the people walk up the stairs of the bridge. It was the perfect place to watch the fireworks that were supposed to start at midnight. The bridge was in the ideal spot because it was in one of the more open parts of the city; there were few sky scrapers and the snow fell more freely. I looked at my watch again, 24:00. I heard a loud thud and a whistle. I looked up as the sky exploded with light. Pinks and blues traced flowers against the soft snowflakes. I heard the crowd around me "Oooh!" and "Ahhh!" like it was their first time seeing fireworks. I felt a hand slip itself inside of my own.

"It's pretty isn't it?"

I didn't even have to look to know that touch and that voice.

"Narusegawa…"

"What?"

"You came."

"Yes."

I looked at her and she looked at me.

"Aren't you going to hug me and tell me you're sorry?" she asked and smiled.

"I'm sorry…" I held her close. We were both cold together now. We stood in silence and watched the sky explode above us. Lovers, people, humans, we were the same as everyone else on the bridge.

"Narusegawa…"

"What?" She looked up at me with those pretty eyes; the breath from her words froze with the breath from mine. Should I confess to her now? What would she do? Would she leave me cold on a Christmas day? Would she laugh at me? Would she slap me and tell me how horrible I am? Would it even matter since I missed the Christmas Eve confession deadline? Had I been cursed since that moment?

"Do you think he'll do it?" one old man asked another.

"No," said the other.

"Why not?" asked the first.

"Because human nature is a frail thing. People become so torn by their own indecision that they never accomplish anything. People become so wrapped up in their dreams that they forget what is real…" replied the second old man.

"Is that true for all people?" asked the first.

"Hai," said the second.

"We shall see," said the first.

I handed Naru the can of tea from my jacket. It was still faintly warm.

"Narusegawa…" If I did not say it now, I might never have a chance to say it. I might wake up and find that it was only a dream, only a lie that I had been living all my life. "Narusegawa… I love y-"

The world turned grey. The words Merry Christmas, Love Hina, 2001 A.D. appeared at the bottom of my subtitled dream. So that is all that it was. My mind was only lying to itself, creating a fantasy of my secret desires while I slept.

"Narusegawa…" I whispered as I stared at my familiar ceiling, but she was only a character from a TV series I had seen one too many times… She was only temporary… She was only…

"Narusegawa… I love you…"

"Is it not sad?" One old man asked the other, but there was only one old man talking to himself in a nursing home halfway around the world.

"Thank you Naru-chan…" I said to her memory as I left my house to live the dream that was my life. I felt that somewhere, across all of space, time, and logic, there was a girl watching me as I walked. She was smiling. She was waiting.