And just like that he was back again, back to that moment in time when he'd lost her. He saw her on the crowded street, looking around confused and quite lost. He wondered what she would have done had he not been able to get back.
"There you are!"
She looked so scared. He thought of telling her everything he'd been through since this moment, but decided there was time for that. He was still processing everything himself anyway. Would she notice his English was better? Would she notice he wasn't wearing what he'd been wearing his first time here?
"I am sorry about that. I was still getting control of my power. I came back as soon as I could."
"Came back? You mean…"
He nodded his head quickly. "I'm glad I found you. I have something to show you."
"Oh, Hiro, you've shown me so much already."
"No, no. This I must show you." He offered her his hand, which she took. He'd forgotten what her hand felt like. Not delicate, but uncertain because she was still learning that he was telling the truth.
He closed his eyes and transported them to Chicago.
"You had to show me a mall?"
"No, no, we need something first."
"All right," she said and he hoped she wouldn't protest any further.
"We will need these," he said, purchasing them raingear.
"Should I ask where you are taking me?"
He smiled widely. "You would never guess in a million years."
Charlie regarded Hiro and the raingear he'd purchased. He was probably right, she'd never guess where he was taking her.
"Where are we?"
"You do not recognize it?"
"No. Should I?"
"We are in Chicago."
"Just like that?" Her eyes widened as she took in her surroundings. "I mean, I know you can do that but it's still kind of strange to think a minute ago we were in another country."
"Are you ready?"
"I guess," she said, following him out the doors of the sporting goods store. They stopped to use the bathroom to put their new things on. She felt ridiculous, she hadn't worn this type of stuff since she was a little girl. Then she'd had to have rain boots because puddles were just too tempting to pass up.
She took his hand again once they were both set and the next thing she knew …
Well, her eyes widened. She knew exactly where they were. Not just where they were but when! The raingear made sense now. They were at the World Series game between Houston and Chicago the night it rained throughout the game.
"Hiro," she said, throwing her arms around him.
"I can't believe you did this. How did you?"
"You like baseball. And who wouldn't want to see a World Series game?"
Who wouldn't indeed, she mused to herself. It was a dream come true. Well, for a baseball fan anyway.
"And you even made it so I'd see Houston."
"That's right. Texas team."
"They lose, though."
"That's okay, this is worth it. I can say I've been to a World Series game."
She didn't notice he'd left and come back, making a stop in the booth that controlled the scoreboard sign. He couldn't wait to see her face when she saw what he'd planned for her.
Seeing her again made him remember what he'd felt for her, the excitement at meeting someone else like him. It wasn't that he'd forgotten, but his time with Yaeko was still fresh in his mind. And his heart. He knew, though, that there was room for both of them there.
He pointed to the scoreboard. It wasn't the most original thing, but the WELCOME TO COMISKEY PARK, CHARLIE ANDREWS was there on the sign for everyone in the park - and who were watching on TV - to see. Proof that she had been here.
No one seemed to pay attention to them. He had no tickets, he hadn't needed them. As the game went on and it continued to rain, they were able to find some empty seats when it became obvious the White Sox were going to win.
There was something about eating peanuts, shells soggy from the rain and drinking beer out of big plastic cups with raindrops collecting on the side that was enjoyable. He imagined it was, in part, the company he was keeping.
He didn't know any of the players, but she did and it was fun to watch her. Her enthusiasm wore off and despite her being from Texas they were both cheering the White Sox on by the end of the game. Of course, they both already knew the White Sox would win not just tonight but the next two games as well, sweeping the Astros.
They were on their feet with the rest of the crowd, cheering loudly as Paul Konerko hit a ball with the bases loaded. They, like the other 51,000 people there, watched, stunned as it went out of the ballpark. A grand slam! The look on Chad Qualls face said it all, considering it was the first pitch of the game he'd even thrown. He'd like to have that one back.
Charlie threw her arms around him, jumping up and down. He was pretty sure the rest of her beer was now cascading down his slicker but he didn't care. She was happy! He was giving her a happy memory. And he was so glad he'd finally gotten to go back to her.
"I'd forgotten about that! I hated him the first time around, but being here, this is so exciting."
Despite the grand slam, it came down to the wire as the White Sox gave up two runs in the top of the ninth. They pulled it off, though, by getting a run in the bottom of the ninth bringing the final score to 6-7 in the White Sox favor.
Despite the cold and the rain, they stayed to watch the fireworks. Of course there would be fireworks after the type of win the White Sox had gotten today. And they didn't scrimp on the display either. And why should they? The White Sox were halfway to winning their first World Series in almost a century.
"Can we just sit here for a while longer?"
"Yes, yes we can, as long as you wish."
"You are welcome."
She never dreamed of having an experience like this. She remembered watching these games on the TV, excited a team from Texas was in it. To be here, really here, with a gamebook and everything was enough to make her pinch herself to ensure she wasn't dreaming.
As she watched the last of the fireworks dissipate in the overcast Chicago sky, made even more so by the smoky residual from them, she didn't want to pinch herself. Because if she was dreaming, well, she didn't want to wake up.
This was one dream worth staying in bed for and seeing just where it would take her. She had no doubt the ending would be bittersweet, there was no other choice given her situation. But she hoped the sweet would far outweigh the bitter for not just her sake but for Hiro's as well.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com