"Dinner," she replied.
"Home?" I said hopefully.
"Out," she said.
"Oh." I thought for a few minutes as she drove down Commonwealth Avenue, dodging cars and SUVs driven, apparently, by pure madmen. As we reached the bridge over the Charles River, I asked, "Why?"
Anthy glanced at me from the corner of her eye. "Today is May 16th."
I wracked my brain. We didn't really have an anniversary... we just celebrated whenever the mood struck us. Not her birthday. Not my birthday. I rubbed my dry, sore eyes. "Um. Yeah? And?"
"Oh," she said, sounding a little disappointed. "Nothing. I'll tell you later."
Her amazing parking luck found us a parking spot in front of one of our favorite little restaurants. It's a tiny cafe that only takes cash, is painted in vivid colors, and serves the world's most fabulous Tunisian cooking. I needed the food and the quiet and the gentle, slow service that's so very European. Anthy took great pleasure in ordering mezes I'd never heard of, and watching my face as each flavor exploded in my mouth.
"That was so fabulous," I said, leaning back in my chair and stretching after I finished my tiny glass cup of hot, sweet mint tea.
Anthy smiled across the table. As I looked at her, as full of good food and humor as I was, there was this intense... full sensation in my body that wasn't just from the cuisine. I thought my chest would burst with all the feelings there. I couldn't help smiling back. Heck, I couldn't help smiling at the whole world. I couldn't believe how beautiful she was in that moment, and I never wanted to lose her. I suddenly realized that, despite everything we'd been through to banish the shadow of Ohtori, it was still there, almost all the time. Except right now.
It was a cool evening outside as we emerged from the cafe. Life was good, and peaceful, and a woman who loved me was holding my hand.
She guided me away from the car, toward Central Square, and I let her because I was feeling too warm and fuzzy to resist. By the time we reached Mass Ave, I could hear... a roar? We turned down Mass Ave and I saw the largest crowd I'd ever seen, gathered on the lawn of Cambridge City Hall. There were television trucks on the street, and police in riot gear, and the crowd was... singing.
Anthy laughed with delight. She dragged me toward, and then into, the crowd.
People were holding signs. There was an impromptu jazz band in one corner of the lawn. People kept singing, "Goin' to the Chapel," and various other things that I couldn't always make out. But every time a couple ran up the steps, sometimes holding signs, sometimes holding a bunch of flowers, sometimes just holding each others' hands, everyone roared and screamed and applauded.
We stood near one woman who held a sign that just said, "YAY!" and cheered along with everyone else, watching the pairs of women and pairs of men make their way into City Hall.
"All these people," I shouted to Anthy finally. "All these people, and everyone is so happy!"
She grabbed me and kissed me, to light applause and whoops from people around us, who evidently hadn't yet clapped their hands off.
When she let me go, we both said, simultaneously, "Will you marry me?" and then laughed and hung around each other's necks until we managed to get away from the crowd and collapse on a tiny patch of lawn. We laid there, draped over each other and tangled together, staring up at the soap bubbles drifting into the sky and listening as the crowd counted down to midnight. The explosion of noise shook the walls and the ground and something deep inside me.
I started to cry. So did Anthy. For the first time in years, we were just... us. Utena and Anthy. There was nothing else--I felt like we were suspended in time together. Forever.
When we were done, we stood up and, arms around each other, swaying a little, we made our way back through the crowd and out into the night. Behind us, the crowd started singing, "Goin' to the Chapel," again.