"Shizuru," said Keiko, placing her chin on her hands, "You ever heard the story about how there's a lady living in the moon?" She balanced her folded fingers on the windowsill and stared out at the little slip of a crescent moon hanging in the dark blue satin sky.
Shizuru came in from the kitchen, two bottles of beer in her hand. She stood in the doorway for a moment, taking in the sight of Keiko in her sitting room. "You keep sitting there you'll catch a cold," she murmured distractedly. Then, louder, "I think I saw a painting when I was a child, of a woman flying to the moon with a rabbit in her arms."
Keiko sighed, a soft, wistful sound. "Wish I could do that. Wish we could all do that." She turned her head a little and smiled at Shizuru.
"The old rock'll be a little crowded if that's the case." She handed Keiko a beer and then opened her own, pitching the cap accurately into the little wastepaper basket under the table. She sat down on the carpet next to her and took a long swig. "Don't you feel better after spending loads of money on clothes?" she asked, teasing a little.
"No," Keiko said seriously, then smiled. She took a sip from her bottle and coughed a little. "I don't know how you can stand this stuff," she complained, "It's bitter."
Shizuru looked at her and smiled. There were droplets of beer on Keiko's chin. She reached over a finger and dabbed at it. Her finger touched a spot beside her lips and stilled. She stared at Keiko, Keiko whom she had known for almost half her lifetime, and the moon seemed to turn her into a different person, a woman with alabaster skin and eyes of ruby.
"Shizuru?" Her voice sounded uncertain.
Shizuru's smile faded a little, but not much. She leaned over, very slowly, her finger not leaving its place, and Keiko watched her with something like curiosity in her eyes. Shizuru paused with her face an inch from hers, and exhaled softly before kissing her on the lips.
When they both drew back, they stared at each other for a long moment. Pale, wavering moonlight made little patterns on the windowsill, and in the distance the lonely wail of a siren made its frantic way to some unknown urgent destination.
"I think I like you with short hair," Shizuru said, absently. "I used to think your hair was horrible, back then. It made you look ancient." Keiko blushed, and she went on, "But you're beautiful with short hair."
Keiko felt her mouth quirk upwards. "Thank you, Shizuru." Kenji never tells me anything like that, she thought, but kept it unsaid.
"I'm going to Kazuma's for dinner tomorrow," Shizuru informed her. She finished her beer and threw it confidently into the basket. "You want to come?"
"Oh, but I haven't seen them for so long..." Keiko hedged. She looked at the night sky and wondered if they could return to a few moments ago, in which the real world had seemed so far away behind a veil of moonlight and frozen time. "They won't even remember me..."
"I remembered you." Shizuru gave her a grin. "Why shouldn't they?" After a pause, she said, "It's this city. It's a city made of dots, you know, all these little dots and all of them separate and alone. You just gotta take a pencil and connect them together." I can't believe how corny that sounds, she thought with a silent laugh, but went on, "It's amazing how alone people can be, in a city this big. I'm an independent woman. I'm self-sufficient. I don't go with all this traditional family stuff. But I don't want to be lonely."
She stopped. Now where had that come from? she thought, but suddenly Keiko was at her side with her palm on her cheek and her breath tickling her eyelashes, and Keiko said, "I don't want to be lonely either."
In the moonlight her eyes were like rubies in cold marble, and Shizuru's breath caught.
Keiko smiled. "I'll go with you to Kuwabara-san's tomorrow."