Author's Notes: This chapter, although not that long compared to the rest, took absolute ages. Why? Because it seemed that everyone was anticipating this part and I hate anticipation sometimes.
If you can't tell who (Yue or Yukito) is thinking what anymore, don't worry. You're not supposed to.
Enough of Yue being depressed because he's going to die, now he's going to be depressed for relationship problems >P
Shadows of the Moon
"So. We finally meet."
I keep my eyes closed as the residual power dissipates from the air. I’m afraid to look. I feel that if I were to open my eyes everything that I hold inside will spill out.
He has called me.
Someone who for so long I have watched from afar even as I shared my life with him, unable to say a word of what I’ve wanted to say for so long and never had the chance to.
But now . . .
no more hiding
I can . . .
answer the question
I can tell him . . .
. . . before I disappear . . .
"What is your name?" I hear him ask.
Slowly, I lift my face from behind a curtain of silver-white hair. For the first time, I look upon To-ya with my own eyes –
– and as I do, any hope of confession dies.
To-ya doesn’t know me.
" . . . Yue," I whisper.
How many times have I introduced myself with my true name? Once only, when I revealed myself to Sakura for the Final Judgment. I remember her staring at me dumfounded, shock and no small amount of fear in her wide eyes as she beheld the angel before her. There is no such emotion in To-ya’s face, but . . . it is not the way I remember him looking at me.
No, not me.
To-ya, like everyone else, only knows the part of me that is always smiling.
I look searchingly at him, keeping my face strictly neutral. This is not the time for emotion, not when there is so much that is unclear. To-ya sits there on the bed, aloof despite the casual sports uniform and all I know about him. Waiting for an explanation.
If I tell him, will he understand?
"‘Yukito’ . . . doesn’t know that he is not human," I say softly. Expressionlessly. I let no hint of the feelings that are pulsing show. "Only you do. ‘He’ couldn’t change until you gave ‘him’ the chance."
Pause, breathe. It’s easy to speak of ‘me’ and ‘him’ – too easy. There is no reply. To-ya simply sits there on the bed, back straight, regarding me. It is discomfiting.
I remember the first time Yukito looked into those eyes. He felt as if he were drowning in a sapphire blue sea. It is the way I feel now, and it hurts so much to stand tall amidst the waves. I want so badly to just drop all of this, to stop pretending and let myself fall knowing that he would catch me and hold me close like he has done so many times . . .
But I was ‘Yukito’ then. If I were to give voice to my heart, it would be given back to me the same way as To-ya has given back the hearts of all those girls who have confessed to him.
And yet . . . and yet . . .
I want to tell him.
But I am afraid . . .
"‘Yukito’ is still confused about his feelings," I say slowly, hesitantly. "However, just then, ‘he’ instinctively stopped you from leaving. And in that unconscious moment, ‘his’ feelings were clear."
I look at To-ya as unflinchingly as possible. It is not easy.
"Your existence is special to ‘Yukito’."
To-ya makes no response to this. Still he watches me, his eyes clear and deep. I can’t read them. Usually it is easy to tell what others are thinking through their eyes. Sakura-chan, the Li boy, Tomoyo, the other students . . . I can read everyone’s eyes, except To-ya’s.
Is he looking for ‘Yukito’ in my face?
Is he even looking at me?
I swallow bitter disappointment. No, of course he isn’t looking at me – why should he? I am merely something that happens to be a part of his best friend. Something to bear with in order to keep what is really wanted.
If that is what To-ya wants . . .
"You once told ‘Yukito’ that you would hate for him to disappear," I say as detachedly as possible. I try not think about the way he’s looking at me, the way he has looked at me – Yukito, I try not to think about how he makes the loneliness go away …
There is complete calm in To-ya’s voice. He wants to save his friend. I need no mind-reading powers to know that.
But to save me – Yukito, a sacrifice is needed. One I am not willing to make.
I sigh and bow my head. "My master cannot support my existence anymore," I say softly. "Do you know what that means?"
It means that I will have to hurt him.
Startled, I look up. To-ya meets my eyes with complete calm. "If my power is what it takes to keep Yuki from disappearing . . . I want you to take it."
I blink as his words sink in. Surely not – "You won’t be able to see your mother anymore," I say without thinking. Once the words have left my mouth, I could kick myself. That secret about seeing the spirit of his dead mother was a secret told to Yukito alone. How does To-ya feel, knowing that his most private moments with ‘Yukito’ are known to me?
To-ya shrugs eloquently. "It’s unfair that I’m the only one who can see her," he replies with a small smile. It is a little sad, but accepting. As if he has already considered the consequences and come to terms with them.
All this time I have spent despairing over hurting To-ya to save myself . . . and he has already made the decision. Again, I wonder, how long has To-ya known about me? Was it only recently when I began to fade? Or even before that? No, it can’t have been for long; why would he be friends with someone who is not human?
"But," he continues, the smile disappearing, "without my power, I can’t watch over Sakura." His eyes bore into mine. "So I want you to protect her."
I stare at To-ya, speechless. He said ‘you’. He wants me to protect his sister. Not Yukito. Me.
He would trust an otherworldly, non-human stranger whom he has known for only a few minutes, with the life of his beloved little sister.
It is a humbling realization. I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with it. "There’s no need to promise," I say, defensively folding my arms. "When I take this form, I have to protect my master."
To-ya gives me a Look as he mutters, "You don’t like changing, do you" – am I that obvious? Suddenly, he stands up. He is very tall, and we see eye-to-eye for the sole reason that I am levitating a few centimeters above the floor. "But if you disappear, Yuki disappears."
My heart sinks. I should have known better than to think that it was I myself that he cares for. Why did I even hope?
"Protect Sakura . . ."
I know. Sakura for all her power is still a child. A little sister. A friend.
But does she need me?
". . . and protect yourself."
Protect myself? How am I to protect myself? There has been so much for me to doubt ever since the Judgment. My strength, my choices, my emotions, my own identity . . .
But I cannot refuse his gift. He gives it willingly, and even if it isn’t for me . . . I don’t want to die anymore. If I live, I can dream, and if I can dream, I can be happy. It is not everything, but it is enough, enough to be ‘Yukito’ and be with him and Sakura, every day.
"And under these conditions you’ll give me your power?" I ask finally, one more time. Just to be sure that I am not dreaming.
To-ya looks surprised for a moment. Didn’t he expect me to be so hesitant?
Then he smiles at me.
I can’t believe what I am hearing. I give him my best look of disbelief, and still he smiles. I find my shields faltering; I want to touch him. But I don’t know how he would react. He’d probably pull away.
Belatedly I realise that he is looking at me strangely at my lack of response. "I’ll do my best," I say gruffly. To-ya’s smile turns into a grin. I blink. What’s so amusing? Am I amusing? I am not an amusing person, am I?
He takes a step closer to me. I do my best not to flinch.
"You really do resemble each other," he says, tilting his head as he looks at me, seeing something I don’t know what. I blink again in confusion; it’s getting to be a habit. What does he mean? Still he smiles. The way I remember and the memory of which I treasure so dear.
"You and Yuki. You are the same."
I stare. The same? Is that possible?
I don’t know.
But still . . .
I lean towards him. Just this once, let me feel the way ‘I’ do with him.
Hesitantly I press against him; To-ya does not flinch. Encouraged, I move closer. I lift my hands to grasp his shoulders as I feel him sigh, letting his defenses down. Completely down. He knows that I don’t have the strength to work past his barriers anymore. And then he waits for me.
I take a deep breath and for the first time, I let down the shields in my mind.
I can feel his magic, a wellspring of strength and power that has never truly been touched. To-ya’s magic, unlike Sakura’s is not active. Hesitantly, I touch it, reach into it and taste it – oh gods, it tastes so sweet, of life, his life. It is so much, I cannot believe it.
So much power, so much magic . . . and he is giving it all to me.
I sense the seal appearing beneath our feet, the room darkening as the magic begins to sing – I press my lips against his neck, a physical contact through which the magic can move. Then it pours into me, a river of liquid fire reviving everything that for so long has been so tired – I stretch my wings high, I want to fly!
But I don’t. I can’t. My fingers are clenched in his shoulders, holding me down.
I can’t miss the gasp that escapes To-ya’s lips, it sounds like wonderment or pain, I can’t tell. It is lost in the whirlwind of magic that surrounds us tossing my wings and hair high – I barely notice, all my senses are flooded in light, his light that’s almost blinding in its brightness, it is all I can do to hold on, my fingers tighten and he gasps again as I kiss him further – I am hurting him, I am hurting him but I can’t make myself let go, too much, too much joy and relief I don’t know who it is that is feeling all of this, I’m scared, I’m frightened, I don’t want to lose myself –
It’s alright. Somewhere in the storm I feel that rare smile. It’s me.
You . . .
Laughter, and twinkling blue eyes. Yes. I’m here with you, and everything’s going to be just fine.
I close my eyes. So much light . . . I gasp as I realise just how much he cares, beyond words, beyond explanation, it is enough to know that he will always be there, always watching, ready to catch me should I fall.
The depth of his caring scares me.
But . . .
Even as he is completely open to me so am I to him . . .
hold me I want you stay with me don’t leave me help me –
This is –?!
No, I can’t let him know, I can’t –
I don’t want to be alone don’t forget me I need you –
It is enough, more than enough, too much more and I will kill him, he will know about me – somehow I bring myself to pull away –
I . . . you . . .
– and it is finished.
The light fades and To-ya falls forward into my arms. I sink to the floor, holding him, not because he is heavy, but because I am so shaken by what has taken place. I close my eyes and breath in deeply. Already the air tastes different. Sweeter. I sit on the floor, legs curled beneath me, and cradle To-ya’s head in my lap. His eyes are closed – for a moment I worry, but his chest steadily rises and falls. He is sleeping. I curl my wings in around us, creating a little world of our own.
I lift my right hand, the same one that ‘Yukito’ stared at so and realised the truth of his – my nature. A blue-white fire curls around my slender fingers like a familiar incense, the only physical manifestation of the magic given to me. Already I am revived.
"It’s just like Clow’s power . . ." I watch the magic fade from my hand as I finally make it mine. "It is because you are a blood relative of the Card Mistress, yes?"
No answer. I didn’t expect one. Only the soft breathing of one in slumber.
Gently, I touch his cheek. To-ya is warm.
"And . . . I should have said this earlier, but . . ."
There is something else I wanted to say.
No. Not yet.
" . . . thank you."
He can’t see me, but I smile. For him.
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