Title: Heart of Sword - Before Dawn

Author: Frostmourne

Disclaimer: I still don't own anyone from Vision of Escaflowne. I'm merely borrowing the characters and putting them in my own deranged idea. The characters and even the song belong to their respective owners.

Author's Note: The song is from Rurouni Kenshin. I just heard the song and it gave me an idea. I'm feeling melancholic lately for no reason. Maybe the reason's just behind my mind. I tend to repress stuff and push them at the back so even I won't see or feel it much anymore until I forget them consciously.

      Anyway, I hope this one passes the passing mark and doesn't suck too much. By the way, the italicized bold texts are the translation for the just bold ones. The texts that are just italicized are flashbacks. It's really substandard and I didn't check for any grammatical error but I hope you like it anyway… I dedicate this to all those who was and is still with me in Intruder Alert and to all D/H fans out there.

It was unexpected, very much unexpected.

He, Dilandau Albatou, was considered one of the bad crowds in school. An unfeeling bastard who took pleasure in other people's pain was what he was. What he still is. Except to one…

Ashes from his cigarette fell to the ground. He had been smoking non-stop for the past three hours or so, leaning on the lamp post in front of a house. For a second, he stole a glance at a particular closed and lightless window of the house.

Times like that were when most thoughts would plague him, when things he had done would come haunting him, when a new chance appeared so out of his reach.

He crushed the cigarette butt and lit another one, once again looking at the darkened window.

Hitori de wa, tooi ashita wo

Yoake no mama de, koesou de

When I'm alone, tomorrow feels far away.

And I must go over still into the darkness of dawn.

A few more hours passed and he was still there. He had already run out of cigarettes but he couldn't seem to move away from where he was and he couldn't seem to stop himself from looking at the window every once in a while.

He closed his eyes for a moment, almost daring to wish that everything was going to be alright, that even when he kept messing up there was still something left.

Almost indistinct footfalls sounded in the dimness and his eyes abruptly opened. With each footfall, he was finding it harder to keep himself from not moving.

"Dilandau."

He straightened and stared coolly at the thin girl in front of him. She wasn't afraid of him like everybody was. Despite her weak appearance, he could admit to himself that she was stronger than him. She was the only one strong enough to make him break down into so many pieces.

"Why are you here?"

"I couldn't sleep," he stated plainly.

She nodded and just stood there, her brilliant green eyes gleaming against the light from the lamp post they were standing near at.

"Why are you here?"

"I could feel you," she answered quietly.

He shook his head slightly. "As always."

The wind blew gently, its coolness penetrating the thin fabric of her sleeping attire. She shivered slightly, indiscernibly. But he knew somehow and he reached out for her, pulling her into his arms.

"It's cold. Just go back inside."

"I can't," she said with a determined hint to her voice. "We need to talk."

He tightened his hold on her. "About?"

"You know what it's about."

He buried his face on her hair, closing his eyes as if willing away what was inside her mind. She didn't say anything more, merely waited for him to acknowledge what she said or to even just comment on it. But he didn't.

Butsukatteikya kokeru omoi yo

Konya mo mata, sure chigai

If I try to play it straight, it will no doubt fail,

And tonight it won't go well between us again.

Loud, continuous thuds reverberated in the entire locker room.

He kept banging the male track team's star against the metal locker. He was letting his raging emotion run wild and there was no stopping him, even the pain in his body that was caused by the sprinter's retaliation.

Those track team members who dared to help Susumu Amano were now bloodied, courtesy of his friends who were there with him. The rest of the male track team were standing there, staring angrily at him but could do nothing. Fighting wasn't their forte and even if they would try to help the national-level sprinter, Albatou Dilandau's buddies could beat them senseless. Aside from that, all athletes involved in fighting were suspended and then removed from the team.

"What did I do?!"

Dilandau punched Amano again and again before slamming him once more to the nearest locker. "Acting stupid, Susumo?!" He spat angrily. "I'd teach you to flirt with my girl!"

Punch after punch, his anger was not even decreasing especially when Amano managed to hit him back a couple of times. His rage powered him too much and before long, Amano was sprawled on the floor, hardly able to stand up.

He had often seen Amano hanging out with his girlfriend and it was eating him up with so much negative emotions. It wasn't that he didn't trust his girl. It was Amano he didn't trust. The guy had such a clean record and it was most likely easy for the sprinter to get her to fall in love.

He was trying to keep his girl. He just couldn't seem to know what he could do to assure himself that she wouldn't leave him. He could never be like Amano or any other guy in school. He couldn't talk with flowery words or display so much sappy moves.

Sanzan sugite doryoku no ato mo

Naku naru kekka, only no tsuna watari

You can't see all of my hard efforts, because it's only result

Is that it makes no sense. It really is a "tightrope".

Girls like him, sure. For his good looks and this bad boy image they seem so attracted to. But his girlfriend was another issue. He wasn't even sure if she liked him at all. And it was making him insecure about everything.

He was beginning to see things that weren't really there. And as ruthless as he could be, he didn't care if he was stepping on people so much more than usual. Just as long as he was finishing something that would assure him and eliminate his suspicions.

It wasn't the first time he had been in a fight for that reason. Amano was no different from the other guys who he was wary of because of his girlfriend.

"You take one step near her," he left the threat hanging as he glared at Amano's crumpled form on the floor.

Yaru dake son suru yona, mainichi wa

Sha ni kamaeteta hou koso, raku ni naru

More effort, more damage--this is my daily life.

Taking a cynical attitude may give me some comfort...

She came then, green eyes wide with fear and worry… all for Amano. She called some of the sprinters and they came to her to help Amano, knowing that Dilandau wouldn't do anything to them with her around. His friends began pushing the track team members out. She looked at him with an impassive expression as she helped Amano stand up to leave the locker room.

Left alone, she waited for him to talk.

He was furious. She had taken side with Amano. And it was adding to his insecurity about keeping her, the girl who had managed to worm her self into him without him knowing how.

Atsukute, tsurai jibun wo kakushite, mijikai toki wo ikiteru

Hiding myself, heated and irritated; living only a short time.

He was clenching his jaw in anger but she walked towards him and reached out a hand to touch the side of his mouth, where a line of blood had fallen from.

"Let's get you to the clinic."

He didn't move. "I don't want you near him."

She walked towards the door and looked back at him. "He's with me in the team… These past months, you always see things that aren't there. It's tiring me, Dilandau."

With that, she walked out of the locker room. He was left there all alone to think of her last words. And he almost dared to regret what he did. What if she had meant something with her last sentence?

Hitori de wa, tooi ashita wo

Yoake no mama de, koesou de

When I'm alone, tomorrow feels far away.

And I must go over still into the darkness of dawn.

"…suspension," the principal finished his long speech with the verdict.

He didn't mind the principal's decision at all as he walked out of the office. What he minded was what her decision would be for him. Their relationship would be in jeopardy once again. And it was always his fault… because he let his passion run wild.

Hottokeba, hashiru omoi yo

Yume mo mata, sure chigai

If I let my emotions free,

My dreams will once again not go well.

A week of suspension.

His older brother, his guardian, was berating him again and again for it. And as extra punishment, every means of communication was taken away. They had ended up fighting about it and breaking so many things in the house.

Everything was so messed up in his life. Maybe it was his fault… maybe not. But that wasn't the issue.

Life was unfair.

Kanpeki to chau, jinsei no shuushi

Puramai zero da nanteba honto ka na?

I think the balance sheet of my life is imperfect.

If I add up the plusses and minuses, will it really equal zero?

Walking towards her, his intention wasn't even clear to him. He just wanted to talk for no reason at all.

She looked at him and shook her head. "I need to talk to Amano."

The students at the hallway looked at him fearfully, afraid that he might blow up any moment.

Shinu made ni tsukaikiru, un no kazu

Semete, jibun de dashiire wo sasete

I want to control all my luck

That may be used up before my life is ended.

"Let's talk, Dilandau," she said, after a long time of his silence had passed.

He still didn't say anything.

She pulled away slightly to look at him. Her green eyes pleaded silently and even when he wanted nothing more than not talk about what had happened and what would happen between them, he was unable to put up a wall against her plea.

He nodded, although reluctantly. It never ceased to make him speculate how his stubborn attitude always seemed to disappear around her.

Wakacchainai, kimi nara dou ni demo, rikutsu wo kaete ii noni

You don't know--you can change logic at your will.

She stepped away from his arms. "I talked to Amano everyday when you were suspended as if nothing happened. But yesterday, I opened up the fight. He said that you mentioned something about him flirting with me."

He didn't even bother to deny or explain, merely waited for more words.

"Even if he was, do you think I would? You see so much. You seem so insecure and it's not in the right place."

"How can I not feel that? You've got a crush on Amano before I had you."

"I had a crush on him before. He courted me before you noticed me and I would've accepted him. But when you started to talk to me, I liked you so I turned him down. I felt so drawn to you that even when I had a crush on him, I chose you."

"He's the good guy, the type that your parents want for you. I'm me, the resident bad boy who I'm sure your parents are against at."

"Yes. But I still chose you, didn't I? Doesn't that mean anything to you at all?"

He countered her with a question. "Why did you choose me?"

She was silent for a moment. "Because I know that even when they say you are unfeeling, you could feel something true for me. I'm right about that because if I wasn't, you'd never be this human to me. You'd never let me see past the tough image you have," she answered so surely. "Amano is not going to take me away. I wouldn't let him or anyone at all to do that. But you are gradually holding me too tight that you even go beyond the line so many times."

"I don't want you taken away."

"You're pushing me away. You're proving to me that I had chosen the wrong choice. I didn't look at the bad boy appearance. I looked on what could be the inside. But you're showing me that you don't trust me. How can we tell the world that we should be together despite what they think when you don't trust me at all?"

He looked elsewhere. "I trust you."

"You don't," she said, her voice having hints of suppressed sadness. "This is both giving us too much pain. Maybe we should just let go."

His eyes turned to her abruptly. "Are you saying we should just break-up?" He asked in suppressed anger and hurt.

"We'll both end up destroying ourselves if we don't," she said almost too quietly in a slightly quivering voice. "You're becoming too insecure of yourself that you end up making so many people suffer and hate you. And I want to be honest with you. Every time I hear them talk about how more bad you are becoming, it's making me die inside because I may be the reason why you are like that."

"But you're not," he stated firmly, as if imposing her to accept his answer.

She shook her head, trying hard to keep her emotions in check. "Instead of me pulling out the good in you, I'm doing the opposite."

"You don't love me, do you?"

"I do love you. But that's the point. If I do love you, I should give you what's best for you even if it means I need to lose."

"So this is it? We just say I love you that's why I have to hurt you?" He said as sarcastically as he could to cover up the burning ache he was feeling. "You're so calm in this! You really don't love me!"

She didn't even flinch at his harsh tone. "You're always too impulsive in interpreting things."

He clenched his jaw. He couldn't understand how she could be so calm even when they were in that bad point of their relationship. All he wanted to do was make her calm façade break away to reveal what she was hiding inside.

A few more minutes of exchanged words passed but he still didn't want to acknowledge what she was suggesting. Of course he knew this would happen beforehand that's why he didn't want to talk about it. But she changed his mind about not wanting to talk. Somehow, he knew that she would change his mind about this soon enough. And he hated that.

"I just want you to live a better life," she said softly, as she turned away, trying to regain back the mask that was beginning to fall apart. "Do you know that if you get suspended one more time you'll be expelled?"

"Yes."

"I've been the reason for you suspensions the past months and I'm afraid that if… if we don't break up… you'd end up not having a future at all…" She turned to him, emeralds gleaming more so than it usually did. "I just don't like you… I love you… even if people say we're too young for that. And I'd hate myself if I become the reason for your loss of a good chance in life…"

He looked away and for a very long time, they just stood there silently in the cold of the dawn.

It may have just been minutes… it may have been hours… but it didn't matter.

He finally looked back at her and for the first time, saw her eyes giving way to tears of sadness and pain. She was strong and he had never seen her cry for those reasons. But now, he did. And it was the most painful jolt he had to wake up.

He reached out for her and engulfed her in his embrace. "If I try so very hard to change, would you still give me a chance?"

"Yes," she whispered, finally in a broken voice.

He smiled sadly. "But we're bad for each other, aren't we?"

She nodded against his shoulder.

He closed his eyes tightly as he realized that it was finally over. "Could you just promise me one thing before we end this?"

"Anything."

"If you have someone again, make sure you'll be happy."

 She didn't answer. But soon, he felt her small frame tremble and it made him tighten his hold on her.

"I love you, Hitomi."

It was then he realized that he had broken her dam. She cried… harder and harder as each moment passed. And just before she had fallen asleep from being drained by her release of her tears, her whispered sentiments made him realize he was so wrong about not being sure that she had liked him.

"I love you so much, Dilandau, that it kills me to keep you only to make you self-destruct. I love you so much that I'd rather see you walk away than stay with me and hurt so much."

His chest tightened so painfully but he ignored it and just held her for the last time.

Nando kimi ni, ketsu mazuitemo

Modottekichau, aijou ni

I hurt myself because of you, over and over;

But my love didn't go away--it kept coming back.

The news of their break-up was all over school the following day. He didn't even bother knowing who was responsible for the news. He was just sure it wasn't Hitomi. She would rather he had the first word than her. And he never said anything so it wasn't her.

Maybe it was one of those nosy students who always seemed to find private affairs of life a good focus of gossip on. But he was too tired to do anything. And it was always in his raging emotion that the fault of their break-up came about.

He didn't want her hating him. Not at all. So he just let everything slide off. He just tried so hard to let everything slide off. And every night, he'd lay awake just thinking what could've happened if he wasn't the bad boy Albatou Dilandau.

Shinjikaneru, utaretsuyosa yo

Konya mo, soutou nemurenai

The toughness gained from my damage is unbelievable.

I won't be able to sleep at all tonight either.

"If I try so very hard to change, would you still give me a chance?"

"Yes."

"But we're bad for each other, aren't we?"

"Could you just promise me one thing before we end this?"

"Anything."

"If you have someone again, make sure you'll be happy."

"I love you, Hitomi."

"I love you so much, Dilandau, that it kills me to keep you only to make you self-destruct. I love you so much that I'd rather see you walk away than stay with me and hurt so much."

The pain came again and again whenever he remembered their last words to each other which were quite often during the first months that passed after their break-up. But even with the pain, he couldn't stop himself from loving her.

For many unidentifiable reasons, he needed to feel that emotion for her. And months passed by full of so many emotions for a person who was supposed to be an unfeeling bastard who took pleasure in other people's pain.

Nando nankai, kurikaeshitemo

Modottekichau, ai dakara

However many times it's repeated,.

It revives again and again--because it's love.

Even when a long time had passed since their break-up, he still couldn't stop himself from following her form with his eyes whenever she would walk by or whenever he saw her. He still felt the same affection for her that he hated but required at the same time.

She was still what she was to him… the nonviolent girl who was in every attitude, his opposite… the not-so-pretty but strong girl who understood him through and through… the serene sprinter who had captured his elusive heart for good…

There were many dawns when he'd go to her house just to stare at her dark window for sometime. At times, he couldn't stop himself from going to her just to be near her again. And sometimes, he couldn't stop himself from calling her at night just to hear her voice.

Even when he never talked whenever he'd call, she would always know that it was him. And it was the same all the time, her voice still warm and friendly, telling him in her own gentle tone…

"Goodnight, Dilandau."

Butsukatteiku, kesunu omoi wo

Semeru hou ga, suji chigai

You can't blame my emotion,

Because you should know it will never fade away.

He stood in front of her darkened window for the last time, almost seeing her laid on her bed, wide awake and sensing his presence. He had wondered before why she could do that. But now he knew…

It was all about the invisible and yet heartfelt ties between them.

With a very faint smile, he looked at her window for the last time before walking away. He heard the opening of her window and he could feel her soulful emeralds following him.

He wanted to turn back but he knew that he shouldn't. He had to walk away… away from her, his patient and loving Hitomi who deserved someone better.

Hitori de wa, tooi ashita wo

Yoake no mama de koeteyuku

When I'm alone, tomorrow feels far away.

And even though I'm in the darkness of dawn, I have to go.

College years came. She went to study in another city and he was by that time, already straightened up in terms of the way he lived his life.

Despite all the damage they both had during those times, it was not important at all… not anymore.

After a couple of years, she came back. He heard from one of his new friends that she already had a fiancé and was getting married soon. He could only smile even when there was a dull pain pounding in him. At least she had found someone who deserved her better than him.

He knew it was an act of friendship and no hard feelings when she invited him to come to her wedding. He did go, and just before she said 'I do', she had looked at him.

Their eyes met for a brief moment and she smiled slightly, as if trying not to let the world know.

Her smile was still like how she smiled for him years ago. Always so full of understanding, assurance, and love even as it was almost so faint to be recognizable. Her smile brightened her eyes as they would always tell him what he knew so well, that she was happy.

His face remained impassive. But his eyes spoke back and they both knew the truth.

The pain and turbulence meant nothing at all. Because in the end, they have ties that would always bind them together even when they weren't really together anymore…

Aishou yori mo, fukai futari wa

Sure chigatte kamawanai

I don't care about "bad affinity".

Even if our love is not doing well,

Nevertheless we have deep ties.