It started with little things.
He had lost a photo, a very important one. He had practically ripped the place apart trying to find it. He had checked the drawers, behind the bed, under the bed, behind the desk, in between the books, and every other place it could have been.
It was after an entire day of searching that he decided reluctantly it was lost forever. He went to bed that night with a heavy heart.
Until the next morning, when he found it under a paperweight on his desk, accompanied by a small folded piece of paper.
Take better care of your things.
He was so grateful to have the photo back that he didn’t even ponder very hard on who could have found it.
The next time was when he had been passing by a bookstore and decided that he needed some new novels to read; it got incredibly boring on missions sometimes, especially during the ride. Browsing the shelves, he noticed a familiar title and hesitated before buying the whole series.
He brought the first volume with him on his mission, and he finished it within the second hour of the five-hour-long ride. He had groaned, wishing he had brought the second volume. When he returned back home, he found another note on his desk.
I told you you would enjoy this series.
At that point, he was getting a bit freaked out since no one but herhad actually suggested the book series to him. He wondered if it was really her or if this was some sort of messed-up prank.
But it didn’t feel like a prank, because the energy signature on the paper could not be replicated. And the handwriting… The way some i’s were not dotted and how the g’s occasionally looked like s’s… It definitely seemed like her.
He brought it up during his Wednesday lunch with Drew, and the young girl—no, woman now—looked down at her drink pensively.
“I’ll go ask Sonovia,” she said quietly, looking incredibly solemn for a normally preppy woman.
He received a message from the other the next day, where apparently Sonovia had no idea what was going on but she was going to look into it.
When he glanced at the desk, he was definitely not disappointed at the fact there was no note. No, he was not. Really.
The third note came when Neil told him he really needed a new watch, but he happened to like his watch because it was nice and stylish and definitely had nothing to do with the fact that it had been their father’s and that it’s one of the few things they had left of their parents.
“No, Neil,” he told his brother for the one-hundredth time, before the younger even opened his mouth. “This watch stays.”
His brother stared before rolling his eyes. “Then stop complaining about how it’s malfunctioning all the time.”
“I’ll do what I want, Neil!” he yelled as the other walked away to his room. Once Neil disappeared behind the door, he huffed and continued shaking his watch as if hoping it would magically be fixed again. When that didn’t work, he set it down on the living room table and went to get a can of soda from the fridge.
When he came back, he definitely did not expect a note next to the watch; he had gotten used to it being on the desk.
Do not worry. It is fixed, and will not give you problems again.
True to the note’s words, it never malfunctioned again.
There were others, like when all of his single socks suddenly were pairs again (How can you lose so many?), or when a shirt he really liked that he thought he had left behind on a mission found itself back in his drawers (Did I not tell you to take better care of your things?), or when he opened the fridge repeatedly in hopes there would magically be some food and then on the twelfth time he opened the fridge door there was suddenly a chocolate mousse cake (Now stop opening the fridge).
But then it grew from those little things.
Such as when he was in a fight against Jace—he called him that simply because it annoyed the younger male very much—on the roof of a building and the other had managed to knock him back against the ledge. He had groaned in pain and glared at the younger boy.
That was when something flickered, a figure standing off to the side, and it distracted him from the fire ball heading right for him. Instincts worked against him, and he jumped backwards.
Off the ten story building.
Once he realized what he did (he was too used to jumping backwards and then landing on the ground to dodge attacks), he panicked, trying to grab hold of the building (and failing), but eventually noticed that things were slowing down around him.
And then he realized he was being lowered down gently and once his feet touched the ground, he immediately looked around frantically, hoping to catch a glimpse of whatever that—
Another flicker, from a few feet away, and the figure looked so familiar and he could only gaped at where it had been before Jace attacked him, returning his attention back at him.
When he got home, he felt happy that there was a note, but not at the words.
Stop antagonizing him.
He pouted but put the note in the small box he used to store all of them.
He didn’t know what was going on, but if this really was her way of reaching beyond the grave… Well, he certainly could appreciate it.
There was another time, when he had been discovered during a retrieval mission and was trying to escape the maze-like building with the files he had stolen. Even though he had the blueprints of the place, it was still difficult trying to get out of the building and not get caught by the guards who were all over the place.
He came across a fork in the hallway and he wondered which way to go when a breeze went by, going left. He stiffened instinctively, before taking a deep breath and hurrying to the left. Another fork, and the wind blew to the left again, so he followed.
And it continued, the wind guiding him until he was outside the building and he didn’t give himself any time to rest as he ran as far as he could and then reached into his pocket to—
He froze when his fingers touched not only the detonator but also a folded piece of paper. However, time ticked away and he knew he had to complete his mission so he pulled them both out and pressed the button first, unfolding the paper as he heard the loud explosions going off behind him.
I told you the wind was not angry.
He wanted to laugh.
These notes taunted him. Knowing that she was there watching him but not being able to see or touch her…
This must be what hell would be like.
But then it all changed one day.
It was after a rather long and difficult mission out in the middle of nowhere and he had collapsed onto his bed, eager for a good sleep. But because he was such a light sleeper, he had woken up immediately after feeling his bed dip on one side.
“I know you are awake,” said a soft familiar voice.
So he opened his eyes, and saw the figure as his deceased wife. He groaned, not wanting to deal with this. He glanced at his clock, noting that only two hours had gone by since he went to bed. “I’m dreaming.”
“No, you are not.” She sounded amused. Of course she did.
“Try again.” Still amused.
“Do I seem like a ghost to you?” She gestured to the bed dipping under her weight.
“What are you then?”
“That is neither here nor there,” she informed with a soft smile. “You seem well.”
“Obviously not well enough if I am seeing my dead wife,” he growled. “Are you a shapeshifter then?”
Shaking her head, she leaned forward to grab his hand, but he moved away. Her eyes softened, not angry at his action. ”I forgot how paranoid you have been since I passed.”
“You died,” he told her. “Twice. I was there the first time, and the second time… you just asked to be alone. But it was obvious you were dead since you refused any help, saying that Death does not like those who try to cheat Him. I have a reason to be suspicious of the person who looks like my dead wife.”
She laughed lightly, and he still didn’t see what was so funny. “Noah, I am here.”
She held out her hand again, this time palm up, and she looked at him expectantly. He stared at the hand, and then at her smiling face, before hesitantly placing his hand in hers.
She did not disappear and there was a second before he pulled her towards him, earning a startled gasp. He hugged her tightly, thinking that she might slip away if he was not careful.
“I’ve missed you,” he whispered, resting his head on her shoulder.
She ran her hand through his hair. “I have always been here, watching over you.”
“Don’t leave me.”
She pulled away first, looking at him with a smile. “There is a reason I am here right now. I wanted to give you this message in person.”
He blinked, gripping her hands tightly. “What?”
“It’s a surprise,” she said. “Wait until December.”
She leaned forward to kiss him and then faded away. He stared blankly before exhaling deeply. Right. He could wait until December. That was just a few more months.
He could wait forever if she told him to.
On the first day of December, he had lined up at the cafe, rubbing his hands together in order to generate some warmth. He looked at the menu on the wall, wondering what to get. Maybe a warm mocha…
He ordered and dug around his pockets for a quarter, knowing he had one since he had one as change from his lunch, when someone reached past and handed the coin to the cashier.
“Here you go.”
He turned and saw her again. Running a hand through his hair, he glared at her, still sore about that day several months ago. “Are you going to fade away again?”
She smiled calmly. “You are holding up the line, Noah.”
He moved to the side and watched her give her order—hot chocolate with whipped cream, of course—with a suspicious look because he did not know what was going on and why he had to wait until December in order to know what this surprise was.
But then it hit him, that the cashier had interacted with her, that the people knew she was in line, that she had paid that quarter, and—
“Surprise,” she said with a smile, seeming to know exactly what was on his mind (like always).
He stared incredulously at her. “H-how in the world did you—”
“Death helped me get to a second chance,” she answered, still smiling.
He continued staring, still in disbelief, until his order was called and he went to get it reluctantly, afraid that she might disappear again if he didn’t keep his eye on her, but she was still there as she went to receive her drink and the two of them walked out of the cafe together.
“…so you’re here to stay?” he asked quietly.
She held his free hand, sipping her drink carefully. “Did you already forget?”
“Forget…?” He was distracted by the feel of the ring she wore on her left hang, the ring he had given her, the ring that had take forever (okay, just three months) to save up for.
She smiled at him. “I promised to bake cupcakes with you, remember?”
He stopped walking, and she did too, looking at him curiously as he laughed. Ofcourse she would choose such a vague way to put it. When she promised that, it meant she promised to come back, that not even Death could keep them apart (until death do us part, he had said to a smiling brunette dressed in white), that there was still a future with the two of them together.
“Now, are you going to stop sulking?” she asked. “I want to surprise my friends as well.”
“How are you gonna do that?” he asked, already coming up with a few plans. He couldn’t wait to see their faces.
“I was hoping you could help me.”
She was here to stay. He knew she didn’t break her promises and to think she would actually rise from the dead—did that make her a zombie?—to bake cupcakes with him again (well, not just cupcakes) just proved how far she would go to keep them.
Since he met her on that day several years ago (had it really been five years?), he had found himself new friends, new enemies, new priorities, new thoughts, new morals, and a new girlfriend-now-wife.
All just from him gathering enough courage to ask for her number when he bumped into her again at the supermarket.
Really, who knew what the future would bring now.
“You look familiar.”
“I believe it was at the cafe yesterday. I was behind you.”
“Ah.” An awkward pause. “Can you hand me that box please?”
Blink. “I am sorry?”
Slower. “Can I have your number?”
Lie. “I…like you?”
“Very convincing.” A head tilt to the side. “Alright then.”
“Really? You’re just going to give someone you barely know your number?”
An eyebrow raised. “Well, if you do not want—”
Crap. “No! I mean, uh, yes! I mean, thank you.”
Amusement. “You are interesting.”
Blink. “What does that mean?”
A breeze, but impossible, they were indoors. “That the wi—that I am curious of you. I am Madison Fuujima. Nice to meet you.”
“Noah Li. I look forward to being acquainted with you.”
Another awkward pause.
“Can you hand me that box of frosting now please?”
A smile. “Me too.”
“I too look forward to being your acquaintance.”