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 for my own little play.

Author's Note: I, originally, used a song from Rurouni Kenshin that goes by this fanfiction's title. However, with the site no longer allowing lyrics in a post, I improvised and made a poem/lyrics to replace it. Bold texts represent the free-verse poem/lyrics I made. Italicized texts are flashbacks. This is unbeta'ed but I hope you like it anyway… I dedicate this to all D/H and Escaflowne fans out there.


It was unexpected, very much unexpected.

He, Albatou Dilandau, 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 intermittently the past hour 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.

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, contemplating.

Left by myself, the light seems so far away
I run towards it desperately but the distance never ends

A few more hours passed and he was still there. He had already run out of cigarettes but he could not seem to move away from where he was, could not seem to stop himself from looking at the window every once in a while; this was his safe haven, where he could think and be at ease.

Though tonight, it was different.

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 a chance for him.

Almost indistinct footfalls sounded in the dimness and his eyes abruptly opened. With each second that passed, 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 was not 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 break him down.

"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 against her hair, closing his eyes as if willing away what was inside her mind. He knew this had been coming for a while but that did not mean he was ready. 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.

Even with a straightforward path, all I do is stumble and fail
And I know, once again, nothing will work out

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 as the side of his face throbbed with pain 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 out of fear. Fighting was not their forte and even if they tried to help their national-level sprinter, Albatou Dilandau's buddies were there. Aside from that, all athletes involved in fighting were suspended from school 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 did not seem to abate. He was incensed even more when Amano managed to hit him back a couple of times. But his rage powered him up too much and it was not long before Amano was sprawled on the floor, hardly able to stand up.

He had often seen Amano hanging out with his girlfriend and it was gradually eating him up inside. It was not that he did not trust his girlfriend; it was Amano he did not trust. The guy had such a clean record and it would be so easy for the sprinter to lure anyone away.

Seeing Amano going out of his way to help Hitomi all the time drove him insane with jealousy. But hearing some talk about the sprinter spending time alone with Hitomi during the track meet finally pushed him over the edge.

He was scared that she would leave him for someone better. He could never be like Amano or any other guy in school; he was not the best guy around. Was it so wrong for him to fight for her?

Efforts are meaningless because the result is all that matters
Nothing is ever right - it's like I'm all tied up

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

He knew he was beginning to see things that were not there. And as ruthless as he could be, he did not care if he was stepping on people so much more than usual. He only wanted to eliminate his suspicions and any possibility of her leaving.

It was not 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. Then again, he was always in fights long before Hitomi came. It was just the way he solved things. Fighting had been the only way he knew of to cope with his life.

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

In my life, effort only breeds failure
You can't blame me for building a wall to protect myself

She came then, green eyes wide with fear and worry… all for Amano. 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 with the other members of the club.

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 her, the girl who had managed to worm her self into him without him knowing how.

I let my anger fuel me because it's the only thing I have left

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 infirmary."

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

Her hands closed around his wrists, pulling his clenched hands upwards to inspect his knuckles. "You know that's not possible; he's with me in the team…" Sighing at the bruises that were starting to form on his knuckles, she looked up at him. "What happened?"

He glared defiantly at her but she remained firm. Wrenching himself away from her, he bit out, "The track meet. Don't you dare deny it."

And she didn't; she remained quiet and had the audacity to look confused. He grew angrier and in an attempt to calm down, punched the nearest locker to him. She gasped and moved to stop him. "Stop, please," she practically begged.

Frustrated, he sank down against the locker, gripping his sweaty hair in his bloodied hands. He felt her kneel down beside him, encircling him with her thin arms.

"The coach asked me to accompany Susumu," she explained tiredly. "He passed out from exhaustion and from the heat. I tried to tell the Coach to pick someone else but he said I'm the best choice since I've already done my laps."

The room was engulfed in silence then. He always seemed to fall prey to his insecurity. He wanted to apologize especially when she drew away and headed for the door, stopping but never looking back at him.

"These past months, you always see things that aren't there. Aren't you tired, Dilandau?"

With that, she walked out of the locker room. He was left there all alone to think of her last words. What if she had meant something with what she said?

Left by myself, the light seems so far away
I run towards it desperately but the distance never ends

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

He did not 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 insecurities run wild.

When I let myself dream
I end up ruining it by being who I am

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 was not the issue.

Life was unfair.

Maybe my karma is all messed up
The good and the bad never add up right

Walking towards her, his intention was not even clear to him. The week away from her had been long; he just wanted to talk for no reason at all.

"His parents might press charges." She looked at him sadly and touched his arm briefly. "I'm need to talk to him about this."

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

I wish I have power over my luck
So I can save it up and use it to get to you

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

He remained mum.

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 deny her plea.

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

You're born lucky - everything changes to suit your whim

She stepped away from his arms. "I talked to him; it took a week to get him to even consider asking his parents to change their minds."

The light from the lamppost flickered, casting them in darkness intermittently.

"Talk to me, Dilandau. Just tell me what you see... what you feel."

Running long fingers through his cold hair in frustration, he struggled to formulate what to say. At last, he settled for the blunt truth. "That bastard likes you." When she did not say anything, he continued. "I hate that he's always around you. I hate that he's this fucking perfect guy. I hate that your parents hate me, wouldn't even let me anywhere near your house if they could help it. But its dead sure they'd love to have him visit."

He turned away, swallowing the cuss words that demanded to be said. Trying to calm himself down, he started pacing. "They hate me, can't even look at me. But I saw your dad with that bastard a few weeks ago, outside our school. They were fucking smiling!" He stopped abruptly, glaring at her. "Why are you even with me? Aren't you tired of your parents telling you to stay away from shit like me?"

She gave him a watery smile and touched his cheek. "I love you, that's why."

His stomach clenched and he felt like the biggest bastard in the world.

"My dad... he's just worried. They're just worried. But that's what parents do." She swallowed thickly and withdrew away. "I've been thinking about things lately."

A cold hand wrapped around his heart but even then, his heart pounded fast. The words froze in his throat. No, he wanted to say. But he could not get a sound out.

"I think we need to step back and think about things - our future." She paused, as if hesitating on how to go in for the killing blow he knew would come regarless. "It's time to move forward separately."

He felt like he had been slapped. "That's it?" The hollow feeling in his chest seemed to consume him. He laughed coldly, mockingly. "You're finally listening to them, aren't you? Your parents, friends, teammates-"

"Your brother."

Something tightened inside him; he felt betrayed. How could his brother do this to him? "What?" Her silence grated on him and he felt like pulling at his hair to distract him from the pain in his chest. They were all conspiring against him - the whole world. He though she was on his side but now, she was leaving. Just like everybody else - his womanizing dad, his irresponsible mom, the rest of his family-

"It's for the best," she cut through his thoughts and unknowingly, deeply into his heart - so deeply he felt it a miracle he was still alive.

"So you'll stop fighting for us?" He hissed angrily. "Fucking awesome! You're so weak. So fucking weak." He clenched his hands tightly, trying not to reach out to her in case he would end up shaking her. Or maybe he was afraid he would hold her tight and beg instead of making her suffer the same pain she was putting him through. "It's easy for you to walk away. Yeah. Be like everybody else and leave. I'm done. I'm done." Glaring at her serene expression, he gave in to the urge and reached out, gripping her hand tightly - so tightly it was like he was trying to crush her.

The light flickered again and abruptly, he let her go, turning away. He did not want to be here. This was no longer his safe haven. Just like every other place, he was no longer welcome here.

"He's right."

He almost did not hear her with the heavy pounding of his heart on his ears. Against his tattered pride, he stopped, resisting the urge to clench a hand against his chest as his heart continued to bleed.

"He's right. They're right."

He would have walked away then but her voice had broken towards the end. Turning back, he saw her silent tears and was reminded of who she was. She was not like any other girl; she kept her emotions in check all the time. But this, it was breaking her, too. It was not just him crying, bleeding, dying.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you," she began, her voice wavering horribly as if she could not breathe. "Your brother begged me once, told me I was destroying you faster than anyone did or could've ever done. I was selfish - I wanted to keep you. I told him he's a liar and that he's an awful brother because he didn't want you happy."

His mind played the event in his head and it was a struggle to picture his proud brother asking - begging - someone for something.

"You're not alone, Dilandau. Your brother has always loved you, more than anyone else, more than me. I'm sorry I made you self-destruct faster. I'm sorry I made more people hate you. I'm sorry I was selfish; I didn't care about anything but staying by your side. But after what happened, I realized you will never be able to stand up again as long as we're together. You could've been expelled... could've gone to jail... and it's because of me. Always because of me. I'm sorry."

He wanted to deny everything. This was just a nightmare. It was not the first time he was in a fight. No, it was not her fault.

"The teachers asked me to help you. But look at where we are now? I brought out the bad in you."

"Shut up." He pulled her in to a bone-crushing embrace. "Just shut up." No, it was his fault. He just never know when to stop, when to forgive, when to let go; he always lashed out.

She nodded against his chest.

This was what he was afraid of. He knew a talk with her this time would lead to this but she could change logic with her will and now they were here, about to say goodbye. "Do you love me?" He all but begged. But he knew her answer. She did love him, love him more now than she ever did; it was why she was walking away. Because she was right about them being right. He just was not ready to accept it before. But coming for her... yeah, she could change logic with her will.

"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…"

They stood there together, under the flickering light of the lamp post, clinging to each other as if the world would end soon. It may have just been minutes, it may have been hours, but it did not matter at all.

He finally loosened his hold enough to look at her. She was a mess, all red-faced and snotty. He would have laughed, if only he did not feel like he was dying. "If I try so very hard to change, would you still give me a chance?"

"Yes," she whispered, voice so horribly thick and hoarse.

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

She pressed her face against his shoulder, nodding, stifling another batch of tears.

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 completely. She cried… harder and harder as each moment passed. And towards the end, she confessed what he already knew for certain now.

"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.

I cut away at myself little by little
But you're still all I can see

The news of their break-up was all over school the following day, like it was the juiciest gossip for everyone to feast on. He knew Hitomi would never have said anything.

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 numb, too tired to do anything. Let them talk, he had thought. It was always in his raging emotion that the fault of their break-up came about. His inability to let go of hurts and betrayal that made his life like this.

He did not want her to worry about him anymore. Not at all. So he just let everything slide off. He just tried so hard to let everything slide off. And every night, he would lay awake just thinking what could have happened if he was not the bad boy Albatou Dilandau.

The scars I collected are countless
Nevertheless, I'll spend all this time moving towards you

"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 throbbed constantly and with it the memory of their last words. Even with months gone by, the pain did not abate; he could not stop himself from loving her.

For many unidentifiable reasons, he needed to feel that emotion for her. And more 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.

No matter how many times I fall on my knees,
I'll get up and keep running to you

Even when a long time had passed since their break-up, he would catch himself following her form with his eyes whenever she would walk by or whenever she was in his vicinity. 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 was swift enough to have captured his elusive heart for good.

There were many dawns when would go to her house just to stare at her dark window because there, he felt at ease. At times, he could not stop himself from walking by her in hallways just to be near her again. And sometimes, he would pick up the phone and call her at night just to hear her voice. A "hello" was enough.

Even when he never talked in those calls, 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."

Don't deny me my feelings
Because this heart is always just yours

He stood in front of her darkened window for the last time, imagining her 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 so badly to turn back but he knew that it would be wrong. He had to walk away, away from her, his patient and loving Hitomi who deserved someone better.

Left by myself, the light seems so far away
I run towards it desperately but the distance never ends

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 clawing at his heart. 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 too faint to be recognizable. Her eyes were alight with an emotion he always wanted for her; 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 were not really together anymore…

I don't care if I'm the darkness and you're the light
Even if we're not supposed to be together
I know, we're tied together by fate - we can't exist without each other