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my true love sent to me

twelve magic events


[Title] Street Seasons
[Fandom] Jet Set Radio
[Rating] G
[Notes/Summary] Sometimes the weather in Tokyo-to is nothing. Sometimes it's everything.



Sometimes you just got nothing days: like the sky was empty, not even interesting clouds. Beat had always hated those days, back home, because it felt like nothing was going to be colourful ever again. Even his wobbly tags had looked faded.

“Tell me about it,” Gum said, as they sat on the Garage roof, staring up at the empty sky. “Try growing up in Shibuya, blah concrete capital of the East. I wanted to chew my own arm off on days like these.” She held up a hand, tilted it to block out different parts of the city skyline. “God, imagine if you could tag the sky.”

“Yeah, but imagine if everyone could tag the sky. We wouldn't be able to stay on top always. That'd mean living under Love Shocker graffiti at least part of the time. I reckon you'd be in an even worse mood then.”

“Good point.”

“Anyway, it'll clear up soon.”

“Not in spring. Spring's shit. People pretend it's cherry blossom and warm weather but it's just dead plants and these kind of skies. I'm holding out for summer.”

“We all spend our time stealing bottled water and trying not to pass out in summer.”

“Don't care. At least the sky's blue.” Gum sighed. “I guess even if you've saved the world sometimes you're gonna have days that are just kind of nothing. Unless you live in Kogane-cho. Then you're gonna constantly have days that are just kind of full of air pollution.”

“How about Benten?”

“Benten's even worse. There's nothing more depressing than a party district with no party.”

Beat laughed. “So, blue skies. Any other requests?”

“Mm... hold off on the autumn, please. The leaves get tangled in my skates. And no one's gonna get anywhere skating in the snow.”

“Do you basically hate the outdoors?”

Gum laughed. “Only like you hate your family 'cause they're always there and you know exactly how they're going to piss you off. And, you know, just when I have had it with everything, it does something... you know, one of those magic moment things. It's so corny I hate that it works. Then I remember no matter how much I hate the outdoors, I'd hate having to spend all day inside even more. And any of the others'll say the same.”

***




Tab once spent an entire day painting a cherry-blossom tag along the half-pipe. He was out to practise tricks, not even planning to go to town on the graffiti side of things, and all the trees in Shibuya were in bloom, drifts of petals in every gutter and trailing round his skates, clouds of ‘em flying up like sand. Tab had never found Shibuya a particularly beautiful place – it was his home and it was mostly concrete and he spent a lot of time spraying paint on it – but the sunlight was just right and for a moment, the whole bus terminal and square were glowing with a pink blossomy haze. Down the middle of the half-pipe were all the dead petals, paler and shrivelled, and Tab wanted to try and get the haze into his artwork somehow – it was the season. He started off with a black jagged tree, its branches stretching down the wall, and then he started adding petals, and then the next thing he knew it was late afternoon and he was starving. But when he looked back down the half-pipe it was full of painted blossom, just like the real thing. The tag was covered up within a fortnight, but that was okay, cherry blossom was meant to be fleeting.

***




All through school Mew hoped the rain would hold off, that the heavy clouds she could just make out from the classroom window would stay as clouds. Walking home, the air was still and silent, but she'd been promising herself all week she'd go out and get some practice-at-being-a-rudie in, so she scrambled out of her school uniform and into the dress she'd got from that thrift store and even did her make-up, blue streaks on her face, like she couldn't hear the thunder starting outside.

She got to Genkijomae Square and the sky opened. No one else was outside because no one else was an idiot and within seconds the rain was pouring down like an everlasting bucket of water. She shrieked and hugged herself and thought about dashing to Main Street to duck under an awning and then she thought – then she thought Oh, please, like a little rain's going to put me off? If I wanna join a gang sometime I can't wuss out with a little rain – and she stopped huddling over and held out her arms and just dashed. Round the square and up onto the rails – her skates squeaked on the damp metal and she nearly fell a bunch of times – and jumping and wall-riding and the rain rattling off the roof of the cinema – and she didn't get any tagging done and she did fall, twice, hard on her side right in a puddle, and when she finally stopped her dress was plastered to her like it was a swimsuit, she was soaked through to her panties, and her teeth wouldn't stop chattering, but she was laughing, because she'd kind of realised why she was doing all this skating stuff at all.

***




Yo-Yo's favourite time of day was twilight. In Shibuya it was just streetlamps coming on and salarymen starting to fill the streets, and Kogane was so smoggy it always looked like the sun was setting, but in Benten – well, damn. Sometimes he figured even if he had to stop being a rudie and, like, go back to school or whatever, he'd still cope as long as he could walk through and see the neon signs blinking into life when he looked at 'em, the lanterns being lit outside bars and noodle joints, strips of sunset at the ends of alleyways or chopped up by bridges. On the other hand, only a rudie could skate along the air vent and see the entire district spread out below you glittering like a circuit board and, then, ahead of you, the sky still light and a wistful gold-pink colour you could never recapture in paint. Most people wanted to be in Benten at night, bar-hopping or clubbing or late-night shopping, but Yo-Yo always felt like once the sky was dark, the show was over.

***




Beat pulled a lot of all-nighters, particularly after all the crazy Golden Rhino stuff had died down. Now you could go skating without being shot at (well, not more than usual) and he needed to get to know this city he'd somehow managed to save from... well, god knew what, but it was still standing, at any rate.

But skating in the small hours didn't seem part of that. He'd end up going to some empty place and just focusing on the skating, pulling tricks with no one to see, no sound but the echoes of his own wheels bouncing off concrete. That was on the stairways crossing over the main freeway in Benten, the concrete turning yellow in the streetlights, and a car only about every half-hour. It kind of felt like if he skated fast enough or jumped high enough, he'd find the stairways never ending, or the world folding in on itself, like one of those trippy pictures. During the day these stairways were just there, just another route to get you to a high point, but at night they were their own place. Sometimes – and this was probably falling asleep on his feet – he'd feel like someone was watching him from across the road, or from a dark window. It wasn't creepy. Just a feeling like someone else was there. Maybe that was a dream too.

***




Summer during the day, Gum spent her time lying on the cool floor of the garage, enjoying the feel of air on her bare feet and in her hair. “I'm blonde,” she pointed out if anyone teased her. “I'm not built to withstand the sun.”

But when night fell she'd head out. Wear as few clothes as she could get away with – ratty bikini top and a miniskirt, usually – with the air still so hot it felt like she was wearing it wrapped round her. Sometimes one of the others would come out with her, Garam (who only wore a shirt when it snowed) or Beat (who seemed happy to put up with any number of difficulties if it meant more time to skate around the city) and it would just be them, leaping over rooftops at one a.m., or not leaping, instead coming to wander along silent stuffy streets, maybe even take off their skates and dip their feet in the river. Or standing at a high point, say the doors to the old factory building, and gazing down at the empty streets filled with nothing but warmth and open windows. The ground and the walls were still hot, even at night, and Gum could skate past tags she'd painted earlier that day and place her palm on them and feel the warmth, as if the damn things were alive. Sometimes she wasn't at all sure she wasn't dreaming this.

***




For a goth girl, they all said, Cube sure liked the sunrise. She was way too much of a morning person, Coin always complained, specially as half the time she hadn't gone to sleep til after midnight. Cube said they were lucky 'cause it meant she was usually out on the streets and back with coffee or doughnuts just as everyone else was waking up and looking for breakfast. She didn't feel like explaining the rest of it. The feeling of being outside on a sunny morning, before the warmth had set in, and being awake, it being a new day... just put a smile on her face. But it had to be real early, enough that few things were open and the world hadn't settled into its routine, that you felt like you were riding the trail of last night. It was better if she'd been up late, partying or skating or just talking about nothing. Then the morning sun pulled her back to herself and she felt like she wasn't tired at all. That was how Tokyo-to started feeling like home, the way sunrise felt the same.

***




Mostly the air in Kogane-cho hung heavy and sticky on you but every so often the wind picked up and then it felt like a whole different place. Always made Garam want to throw on his skates and dash out to catch some air, which sucked if, say, you happened to be in school.

Actually, okay, more likely he just sort of... made himself not be in school, wasn't like anyone missed him, and whatever wonderful life finishing high school would apparently get him (and this was Kogane-cho, a living reminder that finishing high school likely only got you a tiny apartment full of cockroaches with walls you could put a foot through), however amazing his future could be, there was nothing that could beat this present. He was in the abandoned factory yard this time, and he could practically feel the air catching him and spurring him forward. Dust swirling round and round, he could taste it in his mouth, the birds scattering and soaring on the air, breeze rattling on the piles of dead cars. When he leapt to pull a trick, for a moment he was half-kidding himself he was going to catch the air and soar himself. He came back covered in dust, but it was worth it.

***




Slate was never gonna like Shibuya – it wasn't home unless the rooftiles were colourful, the air was shimmering with smog and there was some random dude selling likely-illegal stuff out of a suitcase on the pavement – but it looked a hell of a lot better in the autumn. Shibuya had more trees than Kogane, fair enough, so it turned properly orange and yellow, and he was prepared to admit standing at the top of Center Street and gazing down the hill it was actually kind of beautiful with all that colour. Like someone had finally managed to tag the trees. Wasn't just that, though.

Although Kogane had no trees, it always seemed to pick up leaves on the ground, and scuffing through them on your way to school, or seeing them spiral up around you when you leapt up to skate on the edge of a wall, it promised something. Slate wasn't sure what, 'cause winter was just dark and life was mostly just life and he didn't believe in magic, but one evening, hurtling down Center Street at stupid miles per hour, he shot right through a heap of leaves waiting for the street sweepers, and as they swirled around him like he was in an anime, he actually found himself laughing. And kid-him would've laughed too, and for once he didn't feel like he'd grown apart from himself at all.

***




Shibuya in the fog was the best. Even when she was a kid Piranha had always quite liked the fog because it was so ghostly, it softened everything out and made you feel like anything could be waiting round the next corner (and when you're a kid, or when she was a kid, anything is fun-scary and exciting).

When she got her first pair of skates it was autumn and a foggy autumn at that and it made it way easier to go out and practise. In the sun you felt like you had to be foot-perfect, pulling tricks at the top of a half-pipe, and if it was cloudy it was probably gonna rain and make every surface even harder to balance on than it usually was, but the fog hid you. She didn't feel any more like she was a wobbly-footed little kid pretending at something she couldn't possibly do – she was a mystery, a ghost girl, the sound that other people glanced nervously round when they heard it. She didn't have any friends into skating, so she made up a whole lot of stories about gangs of ghost rudies and her being invisible and some other goofy stuff. Tagging wasn't just leaving her name, it was leaving a path, a scribble on the wall of a maze, and she'd half-expect it to be gone, washed away in the fog, if she looked again.

Now she's got a whole gang of friends on skates and she doesn't need to make up stories – got quite enough peril in real life – but the fog always makes her smile anyway and pretend like she can hear ghost footsteps disappearing into it.

***




Sometimes Combo figures he's got used to Tokyo-to and it's just another city and then it does something which makes him feel like he's in one of them old movies with samurai or whatever. Whenever there's a frost it feels like that. Not so much in Shibuya, which is mostly like Grind City, but in Kogane, the frost edges the curled-up green and red roofs and you look at it and you think of temples and wind chimes. (And there are temples and wind chimes, down particular streets, which the GGs usually leave alone 'cause Beat's a nice guy at heart and Tab said they'd probably be cursed if they tagged up a temple or a shrine.) There's the frost on the roofs and frost coating the switched-off kanji signs in Benten, and even things like frozen leaves look kind of more delicate, more finished, like they been carved out of wood. Not to mention, the noodles are better'n cheaper here. He's pretty good, now, at skating with his hands wrapped round a cup of ramen. It ain't home, but it's not a bad place to find yourself in.

***




That year Tokyo-to had the heaviest snowfall on record, or something, and even in the Garage the GGs could see the white light from it coming off the streets. No one was going to try skating in the snow, but after a while, Beat and Cube and Combo went out for a walk in it, like they were regular normal people or something. In beaten-down trainers they'd not worn in months, their feet were soon soaked, but it was worth it seeing the city whited out like that. Or something. Rails and cars and billboards and low roofs, every part of the city they knew had turned into nothing more than pillows and lines of snow.

“Like none of it's real,” Cube said as they got to the bus terminal. “Like, that could be a bus, or could be a rock. You know? Like we're making it all up.”

“Or like there ain't nothing under it all,” Combo said. The snow swallowed up the sounds of their voices, as well. They were both remembering that Coin had always loved snow, had professed to be chill and cynical about everything and then turned back into a little kid whenever Bantam Street had had even a flurry of it.

“Or like we didn't stop the Rokkaku Group after all,” Beat said. “Which means they're still out there. Which means we better get training.”

“We can't train now, we aren't wearing –” Cube shrieked and dashed for cover as he hurled the snowball. “Oh, you are so dead –”

The next day they came back with the rest of the GGs. A group of people who typically spent their days fleeing the use of excessive law enforcement turned out to be very good at snowball fighting, and it had been dark for hours by the time Tab was declared the winner. As they headed back to the Garage, more snow started to spiral down, yellow in the streetlights. It was already filling in all the hollows and footprints.

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