Twenty-fifth of December.
Hugging myself, I braved the December chill and walked with the cluster of family and friends who are celebrating Christmas together.
My mistress told me that Touya left early to visit Tsukishiro Yukito who was celebrating his birthday also. When I asked if I could follow him there, her emerald eyes saddened. But she did give me a piece of paper bearing an address.
"You can find Onii-chan there," she said.
"This is it," I realized when I saw the number of the house. I tried the door, and it swung freely open. I let myself in and looked around. "Tsukishiro-san? Kinomoto-san?"
I heard the front door close behind me. I turned around and was stunned.
Touya Kinomoto was frowning at me. "Who are you? What are you doing here?"
I winced. He didn't look too happy to see me! In fact, he didn't even recognize me! And I thought his sensory perception was extra sharp!
"Look, if you won't speak up, I would just have to think that you are a thief and I should call the police right now," he said, his voice mildly irritated.
I couldn't find my voice.
He groaned. "Fine!" He crossed his arms. "I heard you call my name and Yuki's, so basing from that fact, you know us."
I nodded slowly.
"Take a seat." He gestured towards the couch. I did as told. He looked at me suspiciously. "So why re you here, speechless stranger?"
"T-To see you," I choked.
His brows raised.
I handed him the paper my mistress gave me.
His eyes scanned it, then returned to my face. "This is my sister's handwriting." He smiled wearily. "I'm sorry for treating you rudely at first, but you see, there are a lot of pranksters that drop by Yuki's house to create trouble."
I wanted to ask why, but he had already stood up. "Coffee, tea, or juice?"
I shook my head.
"No, thank you," I said softly.
His eyes were puzzled. "I suppose that you came here just to say something."
"So what is it?"
I took a shaky breath.
This is it.
"D-Do you remember a little girl who is gifted in making replicas of anything and anyone in this world?"
His forehead creased.
"A girl who imitated your sister."
He remained silent.
"A girl you once called 'a spirit'," I continued. "A girl who seriously injured you by leading you to fall in a cliff."
I felt my heart wrench. He doesn't remember. Before I could speak up again, he spoke up.
"The girl who stood as my sister's substitute whenever she's out in who knows where, right?"
I nodded, relieved that he remembered. "Listen,"
To my utter shock, he laughed out loud.
"W-What's so funny?" I sputtered.
"I should have known." He touched my hair. "I gave someone a hair ribbon like this before."
I blushed. "Well…"
"But strangely, I never saw her again." He smiled at me tenderly. "So is this your true form?"
"I don't see why you have to endure looking like that kaijuu when you're prettier than her," he teased amusedly.
My heartbeat danced erratically. He thinks I am pretty?
"I have a lot of questions I want to ask now," he said. "Like how come you are human and yet when I touched you the first time, you feel lifeless…"
I bit my lip. Eriol-sama explained that the Clow cards are not capable of complex human emotions that are why they are considered lifeless. However if the cards interacts with a human, it is likely that it will learn how to feel and soon, feel human.
"…but if you have something else in mind…" he finished.
I nodded. "I..just want to thank you for your kindness." I looked down. "Even though I know you disapprove of me tolerating your sister's late-night escapades even if she's sick with fever."
"A-And..I.." I rubbed my hands together. "..love.." I shut my eyes. "..to meet Tsukishiro-san," I finished lamely.
"Y-Yuki?" The haunted look in his eyes returned.
I nodded slowly.
He sighed deeply before he stood up. "Follow me."
At the backyard was a fence-protected tombstone where white rabbits leaped and bounced gaily.
"He died a few months ago," he narrated. "No medical reasons." He knelt down and petted one of the rabbits lovingly. "I reared rabbits here so he would be kept company even if I'm in school or working in one of my part-time jobs."
"Oh!" Before I realized what I was doing, I had placed my hand already on his shoulder. "Don't be sad."
I gasped when I felt his hand clasp my hand on his shoulder. "You feel different now," he said. "You feel alive…human."
"Thanks to you." I said finally, the three words bearing all my outpouring love for him.
He smiled gently.
I did to.
Just as the soft, feathery snow fell from the skies.
"Will I see you again?"
"I don't know."
"Come visit me again. You made my day less lonely."
"Next December, perhaps?"
"Can it be sooner?"
"I'll ask the Lord of December Dreams."
"The Lord of what?"
"Yes. If you believe in them, they will give you the nicest Christmas gifts of all."
Merry Christmas, minna-san!