Damn it! Where was she?
Steve put his hands on his knees, panting, winded from racing through the main lobby of the library and taking the switchback stairway to the second floor. Of course she’d decided to sit at the opposite end of the vaulted open air space from the stairs, a vast wasted space full of artistic mobiles, abstract primary-colored slabs of steel twirling in the air currents generated by number and the activity of patrons. Of course she’d be still seated at the desk even as he crested those stairs, sprinting and dodging the other people browsing books, people he suspected whose sole purpose was to provide obstacles between him and that woman with the dark hair cascading in ragged curls around her shoulders.
Of course she would disappear as he rounded the stacks of books placed with malign intent of cutting off his view of her for just long enough, as long as it would take to break that hawk-like, laser-focused gaze he’d held her in on that madcap sprint from the entrance below.
“You’re too old to be running through libraries, young man.”
He looked towards the voice, which belonged to a woman who looked old enough to be his grandmother’s grandmother.
“I might expect if from someone a third your age, but you are entirely too old to be acting –“
“Sorry grandma, I don’t have time for this,” Steve said as he darted down a row of shelves. She protested his rude interruption, but he missed most of it by the time he rounded the end of the row and slowed down to check each the empty space between the shelves for the woman in a black tank top and matching leggings, each of the rows as empty as he —
He had dodged just in time, but was unable to keep his balance in the process, so he spun in slow motion, performing an awfully amateurish pirouette to land hard on his ass. He felt his face redden, then burst into flame when he saw who he had nearly collided with.
“You.” She had her fists on her hips in a way that he supposed was supposed to show him how annoyed she was with him. “Why are you following me?”
“Umm.” All the things Steve had planned to say to her, all the words he’d written and refined and practiced in a mirror evaporated.
“Do you deny you’re following me?”
“Oh good god. I can’t believe this.” She threw her arms up in the air, exasperated, and turned to walk away.
“Stop following me, or you’ll regret it, asshole,” she said without bothering to grant him the courtesy of facing him when she said it. “Why does this shit always happen to me?”
Steve finally found his voice.
“I saw you in a dream,” he called out after her.
“Great. Dreams,” she said turning around the edge of the bookshelves. “Work on your pickup lines, buddy, ‘cos that one is lame by anyone’s standards.”
“Kismet!” he shouted, not caring that other patrons were turning in his direction and scowling at the break in the relative quiet all libraries seem to engender.
She stopped mid-stride and looked hard at Steve, like she was trying to see into his soul. “What…did…you… say?” The question came slow, molasses.
“Kismet! You’d said we’d meet again. If one of our memories served us well, one of us would recognize the other and that we should say ‘kismet’ as proof.”
The woman Steve had spent weeks trying to find marched up to him and yanked him up from the floor by an armpit. She marched him, stumbling to one of the study cubicles with a privacy door. None to gently, she shoved him into a chair and shut the door behind her.
“Tell me everything you know about this. Now.”
He took a deep breath and began with the the hard part. He didn’t pretend to understand the whole moving through time in opposite directions, but the dream had said she would, and that it would be important to tell her what he knew, even if he didn’t understand what it meant.
He could ask her name afterwards.