Author's Notes: Yue and Yuki are getting to the point where they really overlap, and writing it is giving me a hell of a headache. The blue-framed photo of Touya, Yukito and Sakura; look back to chapter two and the flashback/memories there. At last, fifteen chapters later, Yue accepts that he loves Touya, which means Yukito realises what he's been feeling all this time. Right after Touya's power has been taken. Bad timing. More angst ... *sigh*
Shadows of the Moon
I don’t know how long I sat there, cradling To-ya in my arms and stroking his hair. It couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before I lifted him and placed him on the bed I had lain in, drawing the covers over. And again, I watch him sleep.
To bring myself to believe what has just taken place is almost impossible. I’m still not sure if I understand the meaning of it all. Something profound and vitally important – not just in terms of giving me strength, but something far more significant – has happened to me, and I have yet to realise what. It is disturbing, but the feeling of alertness and restlessness throbbing in me is too strong to be denied. For the first time in months I feel that I have awakened. I am no longer dying; I have a new life. A new chance to do all those things I thought I would never be able to do.
And it is all because of him.
I think I’m smiling a little. To-ya’s dark hair falls into his eyes like always; before I realise it, I’m reaching out to brush it back –
– the moment I sense the eyes staring I flare my wings out to hide my action and whirl around. Who is it? Who dares to spy on us?
The window – there is someone outside the window. My eyes narrow, and I use my newly-gained power to slide the curtains aside. If that it Akizuki I swear I will –
It is not Akizuki, it is not anyone I expected. And yet … I should have expected this person.
My Mistress. My friend.
She lifts her head. There are tears in her eyes. I stare in amazement and … what is this feeling?
Quietly, I glide over to the window and open it. Sakura gazes up at me wordlessly, more tears trickling down her cheeks. Why is she crying? Why do her tears make me ache? I move aside to let her climb over the windowsill – she tries, but her little hands are trembling. Before I realise what I’m doing, I reach out and help her inside. She is small and light in my arms as I set her feet on the floor. I pause a moment before closing the curtains. The sunlight outside is so beautiful. It is Sakura’s uncharacteristic quietness that draws me back. She is standing at her brother’s side, very, very still. For some reason I’m almost hesitant as I move to stand behind her.
Sakura does not speak. It is uncomfortable, this silence, so I break it.
"You were listening all this time?" I ask softly.
How should I feel knowing that such a moment between To-ya and myself was witnessed? Angered? Perhaps so, but for some reason that is farthest from my mind at present.
It is a few moments before Sakura replies.
"I heard …" Her childish voice is so low. "I heard that Yukito-san had collapsed at school and I was worried . . ." She trails off a little, and I hear her sniffle. "Onii-chan showed me where the Seijou sick-room was once, so . . ."
Another sniffle. I stare at the tears falling onto her clasped hands.
She buried her pretty face in her hands and sobs. I stare. I don’t know what to do.
"I wasn’t strong enough, and because of that–" another sob interrupts her, "–Yukito-san might have disappeared and now Onii-chan doesn’t have his power but if he hadn’t given it something awful would have happened and . . ."
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do, what to say, how to comfort her –
Yes, I do.
" … I’m sorry …"
Before I realise what I’m doing, I kneel down and look at her face to face. I don’t know what to say yet somehow the words come. How does one speak like this when they don’t know what to say?
"The Cards and their Guardians were created by Clow Reed, a magician unparalleled in this world," I tell her gently. Gently? It feels strange yet . . . nice. "It is only natural that you, being only a child, cannot support us all . . ."
Slowly, I lift a hand to touch her face.
"If you cry … that will make him sad."
"So … I want you to protect her."
I’m not supposed to make Sakura cry. I don’t want to see her cry. I cup her small face between my hands and wipe the tears away.
"I made a promise to protect you . . . so please, don’t cry."
Am I really saying this? It feels so strange. She is my mistress, and my duty is to obey her. Yet here I am, holding her, supporting her . . . not as a servant to a master, but as an equal, a friend . . .
Is this what being a friend means?
I lower my hands. She closes her eyes and dries her face.
" … Okay."
I step away. Sakura approaches the bed on which her brother sleeps and takes his hand.
"I’m sorry, Onii-chan," she says quietly. Even though To-ya is sleeping, I feel that he can hear her. "If anything happens to you, I promise I’ll be there."
Brother and sister. I remember so many times when they tease each other, bicker, squabble … yet under all of that, they really care and love each other . . .
Sakura brings her brother’s hand, so large against her own, to her face.
"I promise I’ll protect you."
… it is beautiful, and I know I’m smiling now. One could say that I’m proud of her, my mistress.
Sakura sets her brother’s hand back to rest and wipes her eyes again. Then she turns to me.
"You are kind, aren’t you," she says.
I frown a little. "Who is?"
I fold my arms. "You both say such strange things. You say that I resemble my false form, that I am a kind person …"
Am I kind?
Something – a memory – flashes. Sweets, a smile, hands wiping away tears …
Sakura wears a small smile on her face, a private one, as if she has found something rare and treasured. "You are like Yukito-san. No, that’s not it . . ." She looks a little thoughtful. "No, I think you are the same."
"You and Yuki. You are the same."
I give Sakura a dubious look. "In what way?" I ask curiously.
Sakura’s smile seems to shine. "In every way."
I stare at her. First To-ya, now Sakura … what do these two siblings, both powerful in their own way, see that I do not?
Yukito. Yue. I know who I am …
Sakura and I simultaneously whirl towards the window.
"This presence -!"
The signature burns on my newly-regained senses. "It’s Clow?!"
No. It can’t be! Clow is dead, I know that, I have accepted it – swiftly I fling the curtains aside, not caring if anyone sees me, just to confirm for myself and Sakura that we are dreaming, that this is not real –
There is no one there. Only the sunlight and the trees. But . . .
Sakura stares intently, almost leaning out of the window. I understand her frustration; we both know there was someone out there, someone who was watching us. Someone with power. We both thought it was Clow, but Clow is dead . . .
I sense a teacher crossing the lawn outside and quickly pull the curtains shut. Angels in sick-rooms aren’t exactly an everyday occurrence. Sakura seems lost in thought, and a thought-frown mars her pretty face.
"You should go," I say softly. She glances up at me, startled. "Class has started, and you do not want your friends to worry about you."
She looks towards the bed. "But Onii-chan –"
"Don’t worry." I look away, standing tall and keeping my face neutral. "I’ll take care of him."
Silence for a few moments. Then Sakura smiles at me. "Okay."
I don’t look at her. Despite what has happened between us, I still find such displays uncomfortable. Even so, I feel her eyes on me, seeing things I don’t know what and understanding them better than I do myself. I feel naked, exposed. I’m not sure if I like it.
Footsteps, soft, going away. The door opens, then closes. I am left alone. With To-ya.
I watch him quietly for a moment, a long moment. There was something I was supposed to say to him. But Sakura-chan … Sakura-chan, in my mind’s eye I see her smiling, I see the way she looks at ‘Yukito’ with eyes full of adoration . . .
And then I see her crying.
Slowly, I reach out and take To-ya’s hand.
"I know …" I take a breath and try again. "I know I should tell you, now that I have this second chance, but . . ."
I don’t know if he can hear me. It doesn’t matter.
"… I can’t. Not yet."
I don’t know.
I let out a breath I didn’t even know I was holding, then look about the room. A sick-room. A school sick-room. A place where anyone can come in.
I’d better change forms.
I take a deep breath, close my wings about myself, and begin the transformation.
There’s something different this time. I can sense it as the magic soaks into me, changing me and yet not changing me.
I’m not too sure what it is …
"You are like Yukito-san. No, that’s not it … no, I think you are the same."
For the first time in his life, Yukito woke up.
He stood there blinking for a moment or two, wondering why the air tasted sweeter, why the colors seemed sharper, why he felt glad, so glad, merely to stand there and breathe. Then he remembered – he had been dying.
After so many days – weeks, rather – of exhaustion and brief moments of consciousness like candles in the dark, it felt like heaven.
And yet, like heaven, it was strange.
He wasn’t sure what it was exactly, but in his mind there were things, images, feelings. All completely new and almost foreign to him – and yet, he felt as if he had known these all his life. He knew ...
… he knew that Sakura-chan had been in the room just a few moments before, he knew that she had been crying –
because of what her brother had to do
– and he knew that To-ya had done something for him that had saved his life.
There was something else, as well. Was it his imagination or was his heart beating faster than normal? Faster than what was normal for a human?
Like a bird, flying …
He lifted a hand and stared at it, its fullness and warmth. Last time he had looked at his hand . . . was it his imagination, or had he been fading?
He was fading …
… as if he …
… never existed.
"No," he murmured to himself, "no. I’m still here. I’m human. Aren’t I, To-ya."
Somehow, he knew his friend was still in the room with him; he turned to look –
" … To-ya?"
Touya, lying motionless on the behind him, didn’t answer. Yukito blinked. What was Touya doing there? Wasn’t he supposed to be lying there instead?
What had happened?
Slowly, he made his way over to the bed. His glasses were sitting by the pillow. As if were him sleeping in the bed Touya was now in.
"To-ya?" He reached out and shook his friend gently. "To-ya, wake up."
It was too much. I hurt him.
I hurt … him …
Hands trembling, Yukito squeezed his eyes shut and slid his glasses on. Immediately, the world refocused. Only then he realised that before he had been walking around the room without any visual problem at all. That didn’t make any sense at all.
Think on that later. Now …
Yukito reached out to touch his friend’s sleeping face.
I have to watch over him.
Yes. He had to watch over To-ya. He promised Sakura-chan that he would.
When had he done that?
It doesn’t matter.
Besides, there was something … something he was supposed to tell Touya.
What was it?
I … you …
He thought he had it, but like moonlight, it slipped away.
Silently, Yukito pulled up a chair and watched his friend sleep. It kept his mind off other things, other thoughts. Thoughts that scared him.
What happened to me?
Something is … wrong. And yet, that’s not the word to describe it. It’s wrong because it doesn’t feel right, but it’s not incorrect in the way that two and two doesn’t equal five. It’s more … strange.
Strange. Like something new.
Something doesn’t feel quite right.
I don’t know why.
A few teachers came by several times during the course of the afternoon, mainly to ask that Yukito return to class. Yukito politely but firmly refused to. Then the sports teacher came.
"Huh?" The man blinked between Yukito and Touya, confused. "I thought that it was Tsukishiro-san who was unwell. What’s Kinomoto-san doing in the sick-bed?"
Yukito didn’t answer. The teacher’s confusion merely echoed that within himself. Then he realised that the teacher wasn’t alone.
Akizuki, back in school uniform, appeared in the doorway. To a casual observer, she might have seemed upset. To Yukito, he saw something quite different. The hazel eyes narrowed as they flickered between Yukito and Touya, something dark and almost disappointed in their depths. As if she had resigned herself to something happening, but still hoped that somehow, what had come to pass would not.
Since when have I been able to see so much?
When Akizuki glanced at him, Yukito met her gaze calmly. Almost coolly. To his surprise, she was the first to look away. Some part of him took a little delight in that.
"Touya-kun!" Averting her eyes from Yukito, Akizuki dove past the teacher to bend over Touya. "What happened to you? Why isn’t he awake?" She touched a hand to his forehead as if feeling for temperature. Whatever she registered, however, resulted in another unreadable glance at Yukito. "Tsukishiro-kun, what happened?" she demanded.
"Yes, I’m curious to know too," said the teacher. His brow furrowed. "Kinomoto-san carried Tsukishiro-san off the field. Yet when I come to check it’s Kinomoto-san sick and Tsukishiro-san standing."
There was a theatrical gasp from Akizuki. "Tsukishiro-kun must have done something to Touya-kun!"
Yukito started –
– I am hurting him, I am hurting him but I can’t make myself let go –
"Don’t be silly, Akizuki-san," the teacher chided. "Anyway, shouldn’t you be in class?"
Akizuki turned wide eyes to the man. "Yes, but I was too worried to stay away. Besides," she added, looking significantly at Yukito, "if I should be in class, shouldn’t Tsukishiro-kun be too? He’s certainly well enough to go."
NO. "I’m not leaving," Yukito stated firmly. I made a promise to stay. "Someone has to stay and watch over To-ya."
"Then why can’t it be me?" Akizuki opened her eyes even wider if that was possible. "I can stay and watch Touya-kun just as well as Tsukishiro-kun can."
The sports teacher had been in the education business for years. In other words, it took a lot more than endearing wide-eyed girls to affect him. Besides, everyone knew that Touya Kinomoto and Yukito Tsukishiro were as inseparable as a married couple.
"Go back to class, Akizuki-san," the teacher said firmly. Still obviously confused at the complete turnabout in the expected sick-room situation, he turned to leave. "Tsukishiro-san, I have no idea what happened, but I trust you’ll alert someone if anything else does happen, yes?"
Yukito nodded. "Of course."
Satisfied, the teacher departed for his own classes. Akizuki pouted after him until he disappeared. Then she turned back to Yukito. She stared at him for a very long time.
Calmly, Yukito stared back.
"He may be pleased," said Akizuki softly, "and you are definitely pleased. But I’m not."
Yukito stared at her blankly.
"Oh well!" Suddenly the smile was back on her face, but it wasn’t one Yukito had seen before. Casting one last look at Touya, she skipped to the door. "There are other battles to come," she said cryptically. "Not the least of which is the last."
And she left.
There was a time, not so long ago, that I would feel resentful about Akizuki. I suppose, to an extent, I still do feel that way about how she always tries to sabotage my time with To-ya, but it is a reaction only, not conscious.
I suppose I’ve become a little more tolerant.
Besides, I have more important things to worry about.
Touya still hadn’t woken up when the final bell rang. The worried school nurse had suggested calling a doctor, but Yukito surprised himself by firmly telling her no, there was no need, that Touya was just very, very tired, and that he would take him home.
I will take care of him.
So it was that he found himself walking home from school with one arm around Touya’s waist and the other holding Touya’s arm across his shoulders. They drew several strange looks going down the street.
Get used to people staring at you.
He had thought about using Touya’s bike, which had to be left at the bike-racks near class, but he was already having enough trouble balancing his friend on his shoulders, let alone on a moving bike. Trouble, not because Touya was heavy – for some reason Yukito found lifting his friend no problem at all – but because he was taller. What a pity they couldn’t fly home.
Why not? I could do that.
No, I can’t. People don’t fly.
But I –
Yukito shuddered. Concentrating on getting Touya home safely was also preventing him from thinking too hard about that afternoon, something he was very grateful not to do.
He dreaded tonight, that space of time lying in bed before he fell asleep, when he could do nothing but think.
"To-ya," he said softly but nonetheless urgently, "please wake up soon. I need to talk to someone. Please."
Touya didn’t respond. Yukito bit his lip against the unexplainable wave of guilt that washed over him and kept walking.
When will To-ya wake up? How am I going to explain this to his father?
When will To-ya wake up? Will he wake up?
Or did I take too much?
Yukito hesitated at the Kinomoto’s door. Sakura would be home by now. What was he going to say to her?
"Ne, Touya, I’ve brought you home," he said quietly. As painfully expected, there was no response. Yukito swallowed hard and pressed the intercom button. He made sure to school his face into a smile as he did so.
Yukito smiled into the intercom-camera, knowing that Sakura could see him and Touya in the view-screen. "Hello!"
"Yukito-san!" The happy surprise was evident in the girl’s voice. It cheered him up. Then she must have seen who was with him – or rather, draped over him. "Onii-chan?!"
The smile was slipping a little; Yukito gripped Touya’s shirt as if it provided him with some support. "He fainted at school, so I brought him home," he said to the intercom. "I –"
Without warning the door opened. Sakura held it wide for them, her favorite yellow stuffed toy sitting on her shoulder.
Yukito stared at it.
"Um, Yukito-san?" said Sakura nervously. Nervously? Why nervously? Why should she be nervous of him? Squishing the toy into her pocket (did Yukito hear the toy go ‘ouch’?) she flitted up the stairs. "I’ll get Onii-chan’s bed ready for him."
"Right." Yukito shook his head, cradled Touya close, and followed her. By the time he had managed to maneuver Touya’s body up the stairs Sakura had drawn the blankets back and gotten an extra one from her room. Yukito laid his friend down on the mattress and pulled the covers over. He couldn’t resist running his hands through Touya’s hair.
Then he stood back and gazed down. There was an odd sense of déjà vu in the situation. Except, last time, it had been him in the bed.
Perhaps that’s the way things should have stayed.
Sakura, he realised belatedly, was watching him. Yukito smiled at her. "To-ya didn’t wake up at all so I brought him home," he explained. "Quite the opposite from before."
Sakura looked at him curiously. "Yukito-san, are you okay now?"
"Yes." He turned away from To-ya on the bed, trying not to think about the tension in his gut. "I don’t understand it, but my sleepiness seems to be cured."
And who do you have to thank for that?
Sakura sighed in relief. Yukito shifted restlessly from one foot to the other. As much as the Kinomoto’s house was a second home to him, for some reason he wanted to be as far away from this place as possible. This place to which he had been welcomed, accepted …
a place I don’t want to lose …
"To-ya can’t afford to skip his part-time job, can he," Yukito said suddenly. Sakura blinked as he turned abruptly towards the door. "I’ll go in his place. Tell him that if he wakes up, okay?"
if he wakes up … if
Sakura nodded. "Yes."
To-ya doesn’t actually have a job today. Today’s supposed to be one of his few free days. But he has so many, I doubt Sakura will realise the little white lie.
I just want to get away from here.
He had his hand on the doorknob, ready to step into the hall outside, when he heard Sakura say something. "What is it?" asked Yukito, smiling as he turned back to the girl.
Sakura was clasping her hands together and biting her lip. Finally she came out with it. "Um … tomorrow my school is having a Mock Business contest," she said quickly. "Do you want to come?"
Yukito thought for a moment. "That’s Sunday, right?"
I shouldn’t encourage her
encourage her in what?
what she feels
yes, but …
But I …
Want to see her smile.
Isn’t this what I came back for?
He smiled, already out of the room. "I’ll definitely be there."
Sakura’s face lit up with a smile that almost made her glow. Yukito shut the door and headed down the hall.
At least she’s cheered up.
He started at a casual walk. When he got to the stairs he began to hurry. He had to stop a while to put on his shoes, but once he had them on he flung the front door open and began to run. Run as fast as he could out the gate, around the corner, and down the road getting faster and faster until he felt almost that he could fly. Part of him delighted in it, the wind on his face, in his hair, the smell of it uplifting him so alive … and yet, there was another reason to his flight, a darker one, a colder one.
The largest and fastest wings in the world wouldn’t be enough to take him away from the murmuring in his mind.
You know, don’t you.
His head buzzed, his veins felt like they were on fire like some strange magic, making him feel, making him feel …
Yukito ran faster. He blinked in surprise when he realised that already, he had reached his house – had he really run that fast? – he dug into his pockets for his keys and unlocked the door, throwing himself inside.
There was no one to welcome him home.
Yukito slowly removed his shoes, hearing Sakura’s high and happy ‘Tadaima’ in his memory. Only now did he realise that he had never said ‘tadaima’ before in his life.
Why only now had he noticed that?
Feeling like an intruder in his own home, Yukito went from room to room, taking note of everything contained in them as if for the first time. The house was a large house, big enough for a decently-sized family, yet there was only him. Living room decked out for one. Kitchen with only one set of bowls and cutlery in the dryer. One bedroom with one bed. One towel in the bathroom. One. One.
No one. No family. No grandmother, no grandfather, no mother, no father …
… not human …
No, that can’t be!
Yukito stopped in the bathroom’s doorway, staring at the singleness of everything. He knew who he was. He knew who he was.
That is what I am …
Without turning on the lights Yukito entered the bathroom. In the afternoon’s dying light he stared at his reflection in the mirror over the sink. He looked at his hair, his face, his eyes staring back at him so widely, like that of someone desperately searching for help …
Water … a liquid mirror …
A moon, shining bright above and below …
A face …
Yukito blinked, and shivered. Something was wrong. Yes, he was better, much better, but even that fact made it everything wrong, because he didn’t know how he had gotten better –
because of him
guilt, guilt, I hurt him, I took something from him, I don’t even know how I hurt him
oh yes I do
– and there were gaps in his memory, he was sure that he remembered a baseball game of some sort, and there was something hazy about a bed, but no matter how hard he tried to reach for those pieces they always slipped away … and in their place were strange, strange impressions; light, warmth, weightlessness, fire and song and something so much more that made his heart race …
… it all comes back to me in a rush as my other-self tries too hard to remember, to travel those paths in memory that I so carefully hid – I can’t stop it, I can’t stop me, it all flows back, the talking, the magic To-ya’s magic, the touch and the exchange of more than magic, of something so much more that makes my heart race, To-ya, To-ya – I lean forward and grip the sink for support and bow my head –
something I’m supposed to tell him
something I have always known
this feeling …
who are you
who am I
who are you
– no, no no no it must STOP!
Yukito gasped, opening his eyes wildly. He was staring at the tiled floor. Belatedly he realised that he was gripping the edge of the sink tightly in both hands as if it were the only certainty in the world …
what is that?
something I no longer have
everything about me … is a lie …
… Yukito gripped the sink-edge tighter, gritting his teeth. No. I am me. Me. I am human
I have a grandmother and grandfather
who is my mother?
I am, I am …
The young man lifted his head determinedly and spoke aloud.
"I am Tsukishiro Yukito. I am Tsukishiro Yukito."
He stared at his reflection in the mirror almost pleadingly.
"... Aren’t I?"
No – I don’t know!
Long moments passed. Then Yukito stood up. Determinedly he exited the bathroom and went around the house once more in search of photos. Houses, family houses always had photos scattered around, snapshots of personal history that built up into the present picture. They would reassure him, prove to him what he wanted to know. Surely he had some somewhere…
are you sure?
There were none in the kitchen, none in the living room, none on the walls of the hall. No framed photos, portraits, or albums. And when Yukito really stopped to think about it …
they never existed in the first place
… he couldn’t remember seeing any photos at all.
Growing desperate with each failure, Yukito finally made his way to his bedroom. Of all rooms in the house, this was his most personal. If he had any pictures of his family he would have them here …
There was nothing.
Yukito stared at his shelf. He rubbed his eyes and stared again. Books. A small pot plant. A decorative bookend. That was all that was on his shelf.
One photo, framed in dark blue with a white crescent moon in the top corner. Three faces smiled at him from behind the glass. Slowly Yukito lifted the photo from its place and held it. He remembered this one. It had been April, his first April knowing the Kinomoto family. The sakura had been in full bloom. Tomoyo had taken this group photo of himself –
who am I?
– Sakura-chan –
– and To-ya.
someone special, someone who I …
To-ya had framed this photo and given it to Yukito for the first birthday he had celebrated knowing Touya. This, he knew for sure, was an irrefutable fact. A certainty.
He replaced the photo on the shelf. With a pounding sense of urgency he went to his bedside table and flung the bottom drawer open. Inside was a thick book with a pastel-colored plastic cover. No, not a book, an album. A photo album.
Settling himself comfortably on his bed Yukito opened the photo album. He went through them all, and they all struck a chord in his memory so that each photo came to life in his mind.
These too, then, were certainty.
Yukito kept turning pages. Faces smiled back at him, snapshots in time. Most were familiar to him, but there were a few that he saw repeatedly. Sakura-chan, always smiling, wide green eyes shining no matter what she was doing, whether it be cheerleading, running or playing the prince in the school play. With her was Tomoyo, never seen without her calm soft smile. He saw himself in a variety of scenes; school festivals, sports matches, picnicking with Sakura, Tomoyo, and To-ya. To-ya. Always he was in the picture with Yukito, doing the same things, participating right there by his side, sometimes pretending to glower at the camera being shoved in his face, other times grinning devilishly as he teased Sakura. And then there were some photos were he was smiling, soft and gentle, caring, and always at one person …
Scarce was there a photo where they weren’t together.
Someone who was always there for him.
Someone whose life he was an inexplicable part of.
Someone who …
Someone who …
Someone who helped me.
Someone who I hurt.
Someone who it hurts me to know that I hurt.
Someone who …
Someone who cared for him.
Someone who he cared for.
Someone who the thought of never seeing again cut like the cruelest blow. Like that other person …
that other person who I had loved –
Yukito stared at a photo of him and felt his heart stop.
Was that it?
I … I can’t breathe. I can’t hide from this fact anymore –
I don’t have to hide
– the fact that I …
He loved To-ya.
Yukito couldn’t breathe.
… and only now, when To-ya lies helplessly unconscious and the beliefs ‘Yukito’ took for granted are shattering, do I accept this. Yet, even as I try to steady myself, there is some part of me that is smiling.
It’s about time.
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