The Girl Who Didn't Believe
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the FY characters. They belong to Yuu Watase. I do own Kitten and Sable though.
/…/ telepathic conversation
at another place
That's all, minna-san! Enjoy!
Chapter 39- The Beginning Of The End
"You are pretty calm for someone whose koibito is in danger."
Kamui didn't even bother to look at the silver-haired elemental.
"If worrying would help Sable in her situation, I would. But it does not, so it would be a waste of effort on my part." The blonde turned his head to look at the idling Elemental. "You, on the other hand, can actively help improve Sable's situation by making sure that we don't get lost."
A vein-pop appeared on the Wind master's forehead.
"I get it. Stop rubbing my weakness in my face already." He turned back to control the wind direction. "There is nothing to worry about. We are ahead of schedule. We should reach Sairo in another couple of hours."
The mismatched pair was on their way to Sairo. After Kamui's scouts had managed to locate and retrieve Haiiro, the duo had immediately made use of the Celestial Guardian's power to travel to Byakko's domain. Combined with proper directions, the wind travel was infinitely faster than by foot or beast. They were making record pace.
Haiiro glanced at the blonde chief advisor of Kutou. The tall man was immaculately dressed, not one hair out of place. As usual, his attire was quietly tasteful yet practical and bespoke of great wealth. Looking at his face, Haiiro could easily understand why women would be attracted to Kamui. High cheekbones, sharp aristocratic features, long elegant nose and thin lips, Kamui would have looked like an ideal Adonis if not for the totally emotionless look in his eyes.
Haiiro snorted at his own fanciful illustration of Seiryu's vessel.
"Heh. You are mad, aren't you, Kamui? You are furious."
Blank blue-eyes slid to clash with interested grey ones.
"Don't bother concealing it anymore. I can sense your anger as clear as day. You are really like Seiryu, aren't you? No wonder he chose you to bestow his powers upon." There was no reply to Haiiro's statement, and the Elemental continued talking. "It's not Chichiri's fault, you know. The Shibo no Kusuri is a really powerful drug. Mere mortals cannot possibly overcome its effect. Even immortals like us would have that problem too."
Again there was no response, and Haiiro was beginning to wonder if the blonde was going to be an unresponsive block of wood for the rest of the journey when said blonde finally saw fit to speak.
"It doesn't matter the circumstances." Kamui stared at the distant sand dunes that surrounded Sairo. "A promise made must be a promise kept. Chichiri broke his promise, and he will have to make up for it."
Haiiro was incredulous.
"You are not planning to start the entire "Sable will be mine" thingy again, are you?"
The Wind master's disbelief amused the chief advisor, and Kamui smirked.
"I may be known as stubborn and tenacious at times, but I have my pride too. Another rejection would put a permanent dent in it."
"Dent huh? You don't say. I thought that things like these would be below the esteemed Kamui-sama." Haiiro grinned; then turned serious again. "What are you planning to do when we reach Sairo then? The situation with Chichiri should still be pretty stable at the moment."
Kamui shrugged nonchalantly.
"Who knows? We shall see when we get there."
"Then it's settled; tomorrow we shall return to Sable and Chichiri at first light." Aoi regarded everybody. "We have already spent the whole of today searching for Haiiro within the immediate vicinity of this village. If we cannot find him here, then chances are that we won't find him all. I suggest that we find somewhere safe to settle down for the night since it is already getting dark."
Tasuki, Akai, Kitten and Saki each made indications of agreement with the Water master's logic, and the group immediately started to keep an eye out for a suitable clearing where they can camp out comfortably for the night. Soon, an area was spotted and declared safe enough, and everyone fell into their respective duties of setting up camp; the girls started preparing dinner with the ingredients that they have; the guys went to work building a strong fire that would last throughout the night.
Kitten felt like she could fall asleep as she was; standing up. She was that exhausted. Like Aoi had mentioned, they had literally been searching the whole day.
Among her companions, Kitten was the only 'normal' human. That meant that she had her limitations even when the others did not. Aoi and Akai are Elementals, and Saki a demi-goddess. Tasuki was human enough, but he is a seishi and therefore could not be considered 'normal' at all. The blue-haired girl knew that all she had to do was to just mention something about being fatigued and the rest would immediately readjust their paces, but she did not want to be a burden and slow down their progress. After all, the sooner they found the silver-haired Guardian, the sooner they could return to Sable, where she could watch over her dear emerald-eyed friend and prevent the brunette from doing anything dangerous.
And so Kitten had forced herself to bear with the punishing pace and not complain about it but in the end it was all for naught; a wild goose chase. Kitten was sincerely starting to regret her earlier resolution. Her limbs ached unbearably and her eyes watered with exhaustion.
Just a little bit more, she told herself, a little bit more till dinner and then I can die in peace already. But for now…
Kitten continued to work side by side with Saki, her actions sluggish but methodical.
The white-haired goddess noticed the fatigue in Kitten of course, and had been waiting for Kitten to say something. But she never did, much to the growing admiration of the goddess. The poor girl had been so obviously exhausted that even her fingers were trembling. Saki was surprised that Kitten had managed to hide her tiredness from all of them until now. This will not do. It was one thing to endure, but at a time when it is safe?
"You have done enough for today." The goddess deftly took the spoon that Kitten had been using away from her. "You should get some rest."
Kitten opened her mouth to protest. "But you have done the same amount as I did…"
"Precisely." Saki cut in. "You have done the same amount of work as I have, and you do not even possess a fraction of my strength. I should be ashamed of myself. I will definitely be able to handle the rest of the cooking. Go and rest. Tasuki, Akai and Aoi are almost done; I can ask them for help if I really cannot handle myself."
But still Kitten was hesitant.
Saki sighed. There was only one way to get Kitten out of here, it seems. The goddess turned around and called for Tasuki despite Kitten's protests.
"Tasuki! Come here."
Sure enough, a certain fanged boy wandered up, together with Aoi.
"We are just done. What is going on?"
Saki motioned to the blue-haired girl. "Look at your koibito."
"Sweet Suzaku, what happened to you!" It seemed that the dense seishi had just realized how tired Kitten really was. She was deathly pale and her eyes were abnormally bright. "You look like death warmed over."
As exhausted as Kitten was, she was still able to shoot Tasuki a deadly glare.
"Thanks a lot. I feel so much better now. Now that everyone is here to comment on how horrible I look, I think that I will go lie down somewhere and just die in peace." Kitten walked towards one of the tents that the guys have just erected.
"That was not what I meant." Tasuki walked beside the girl easily. "Why didn't you say that you were tired and couldn't keep up with our pace?"
Aoi stared at Saki, who shrugged imperceptibly. The white-haired goddess turned back to her chores at hand. Aoi tried half-heartedly to help.
"You are changing, Saki." The Celestial Guardian commented after awhile of companionable silence. "And I think that it is a good kind of change."
Saki's hands stilled.
"You think so?"
Aoi nodded. "You aren't preoccupied with gaining Byakko's approval anymore, and you are finally getting to be more aware of your surroundings, of all the people around you." Amethyst eyes met golden ones. "You are starting to open up to people, to us."
Saki started at the sudden insight. She had not realized that in choosing to be immersed in the single act of winning her father's love, she had forsaken the life brimming around her. She had always thought that the ticket to happiness would be through her parent, but now she realized that it was not the case.
Love has to be given freely or it won't be worth anything at all.
'My god Saki, how blind can you get?' An inner voice chided the demi-goddess. 'You have been observing Kitten and Sable the moment they landed in this world and you still couldn't see what was clearly laid out in front of you. Haven't all the examples said something? Why couldn't you understand it sooner?'
But she had.
As the full extent of all her inner wants and feelings were revealed to her, Saki realized that her bitterness and dissatisfaction with her status in life had started shortly after the girls had entered the Universe of the Four Gods. It was obvious that her heart had recognized the genuine affection that the girls had when they looked at each other, or when they looked at their respective other halves. She had been blind then, but her heart was not. So it had stirred up all kinds of tumultuous emotions that she had not been able to understand until now. The bitterness then had sprung from envy, the dissatisfaction from the near dismal way that she had been living her life the past century.
But not anymore.
How can anyone love you if you do not love yourself?
Suddenly, it was as if someone had turned on the electric power that fed Saki's very soul. The bright hues hidden deep within golden eyes stirred; glimmered with life that were beforehand nonexistent; slender shoulders pulled back with intoxicating freedom as if all the weight of the world had finally been lifted off it; and the lithe body straightened with newfound confidence that were previously unknown.
It had been a slow awakening, but it was well worth the wait.
For this night, in this forested clearing, the white-haired goddess finally found the answers that she had been so desperately seeking her whole life. Saki could feel it; from now on, life is never going to be the same again.
The goddess embraced the change with raw fervor and delight.
Aoi saw the transformation happen from within Saki, and he couldn't help but feel proud of the younger immortal. Saki was still unable to fully display her emotions and feelings, but she was slowly learning, and it would be a matter of time before she did. At the moment, fierce, quiet joy lit up the youthful face and made it even more breathtaking than before, and the lapis lazuli-haired elemental beside her watched the celebrating goddess with a gentle smile on his face.
Finally, you are growing up.
"Byakko, are you really sure of what you are going to do?" Genbu asked quietly as they both made the descent to Sairo. "You do know that you cannot unmake this decision after-"
"After I make it. I know." There were no emotions in the Tiger God's words and Genbu winced inwardly at the telling sign. If anything, Byakko was a proud person, and betrayal was something he considered unforgivable.
Genbu tried again.
"Anou…Saki is still young. She probably doesn't know that what she was doing was wrong. You should give her a chanc-"
Genbu gave up on being diplomatic.
"Damn it; you listen to me, Byakko." The Turtle God forced his younger sibling to a stop. "I won't allow you to disown Saki. This whole thing wasn't her fault. I am asking you not to do anything rash, but if you still insist on this ridiculous course of action, I won't stand aside and do nothing. Do not force my hand, aniki."
Byakko stiffened at the veiled threat. Golden eyes narrowed. The God of Sairo turned on his brother.
"Do not speak to me like I am the one at fault. I was not the one who had turned against my family." The Tiger hissed. "And I will not tolerate the knowledge of having a traitor in the family. You ask me not to force your hand, so now I am telling you not to push me. Back off, aniki."
Genbu sucked in a deep breath. The molten fury in Byakko's words had confirmed Genbu's suspicions. This entire challenge was more than a game for Byakko now.
"She is your daughter. The only daughter you have, the only daughter you will ever have." The God of Hokkan sighed. "Can you really bear to disown her like that?"
Byakko paused, and for the slightest of moments, something flashed within eyes the color of aged gold. Then Byakko blinked, and it was gone. The god of Sairo looked at his older brother. "Do not attempt to change my mind anymore, Genbu. She had made her decision, and I won't change mine."
Genbu shook his head. When will Byakko learn that pride is a lousy substitute for family?
"Then I hope that you really know what you are doing, because I have no idea where this is going to take us."
Byakko looked straight ahead.
"I know what I am doing."
Do you? Do you really?
Sairo is a country steeped with canyons and valleys, with ravines and gullies oft a common sight. Many a couple have been brought together by the stunning scenery, touched by the sheer wilderness and romanticism of the place. These natural wonders were what made Byakko's domain such a breathtaking place of desolate beauty.
Unfortunately, they also happened to be excellent locations for suicide.
The dangerously steep valleys and their dry and hard waterbed; the majestic cliffs with their fatally jagged bottoms; one would be assured of instant death if they were to step off any one of these deadly edges.
As it was, Sable was standing on one of these planes, feeling strangely detached as she stared at the magnificent view. For a moment, there was totally no sound at all, and the brunette felt as if time had stopped, as if she was all alone, closed off from the real world in this little bubble of time.
It would be like flying, if she were to jump from here.
Unbidden, Sable started to recall a long time ago when both Kitten and her were still young; she wasn't even past the age of fifteen then; they had both discussed the subject of death.
"Ne, Sab." A ten year old Kit had asked her best friend. "If you were given a choice, how will you choose to die?"
The brunette had been startled. It had been an extremely somber topic for a ten-year old to ask, and the little blue-haired girl had asked it so seriously that it gave Sable perfect cause to be concerned.
"Don't worry, Sab. I am just asking that's all." Kitten had hurriedly assured. "I don't know why, but this question just appeared in my head all of a sudden."
"Hmm…" Sable looked seriously at the younger girl. "I don't know how I will die, but I know for sure that I won't want to die violently."
"Violently?" Kitten frowned. "Like how?"
"Like how…? Let's see…" The older girl grinned mischievously. "Like getting run over by a train…or being beheaded in a guillotine…or being dismembered alive…"
The blue-haired girl turned green.
"Dismembered…yuck! Sable no hidoi! That's gross; I am not going to ask you about these ever again!"
That had ended their one and only conversation about death.
Now that she remembered that incident, it occurred to Sable that she had never gotten around to answering Kitten's question.
'Ah Kit, if I were given a choice, I would have never chosen death at all. There are so many things worth living for, and I would have wanted to experience each and every one of them.' As the brunette stood at the peak of the precipice, her eyes misted. 'But I have no choice, and neither do I have any regrets.'
Memories assailed Sable, and ghosted into images right before her eyes.
Her first meeting with Chichiri.
Talking to Chichiri, just enjoying his company.
Listening to his past, sharing his memories and shouldering each other's burdens.
Going through thick and thin together, braving all types of situation.
Chichiri telling her that he liked her.
His gentle smile and sweet character…
The crimson pupil and harsh voice.
The hate-filled accusations.
The ugly name-calling.
The violence. Dear god, the violence.
Sable was helpless from the past, and defenseless against the tears that were brought along with it. Salty liquid trailing heartbreakingly from porcelain cheeks, Sable gazed unseeingly into the distance.
'I'm sorry, Chichiri. But memories are all that I have left now. Please give me a little more time with them…
And then I will set you free.
Tasuki, Akai, Aoi, Kitten and Saki dug into the simple fare that both Aoi and Saki had finished preparing just moments ago. The men ate with gusto, whereas the girls picked slowly at their food. Normally Kitten would have been just as enthusiastic as the guys in terms of food, but she was still feeling the effects of today's search despite a brief one hour nap earlier. Nevertheless, Tasuki was taking no chances. He fussed over her like a mother hen and made sure that she ate adequately by making little taunts at her that fired both her appetite AND her temper, much to the amusement of the rest of the group.
"Just admit it, Kit." Tasuki teased lightly. "You are too weak to even finish your food. I doubt that you will be able to walk tomorrow. I think we might as well be prepared to take turns carrying you back tomorrow morning, weakling that you are."
Predictably, the amethyst-eyed girl saw red, tired or no.
"I am NOT weak! Who said that I cannot finish my food? I am so hungry now that I can even finish your food! Just wait and see, you stupid carrot-head!"
And so on and so forth, that was how dinner went. Needless to say, Kitten finished her food, much to the inward relief of the redhead seishi. Finally mealtime was over and Kitten proceeded to help Saki with the cleaning up. Saki was about to chase the blue-haired girl away when Tasuki struck again. Or rather, his ingenious big mouth.
"Heh, now you have done it, Kit. I have never seen anyone eat as much as you do. Are you really an onna? Maybe you are a pig in disguise instead?" The seishi snorted. "You ate so much just now that I bet that you won't be able to sleep."
Akai gaped at his fiery counterpart. The man is either really stupid, or really in love with loudmouthed onna. Maybe both. The fire Guardian was starting to form some semblance of respect for the Suzaku seishi. He decided that he would do Tasuki honor by digging a grave for him later when Kitten was done mutilating him.
Honestly, but calling a woman a pig?
Akai shook his head and retreated from the area. He was going to go look for a suitable grave site now.
All thoughts of helping clear the dishes flew out the proverbial window. Kitten shot Tasuki a glare so evil that it would have made Nakago shake in his boots.
Aoi and Saki looked upon the scene with faint amusement.
The blue-haired girl looked like she wanted to kill something. A carrot-haired something. She opened her mouth as if to yell at Tasuki then promptly shut it again. Without another word, the girl turned around sharply and stalked off. Saki, Aoi and Tasuki watched her veer towards the direction of the tents when she suddenly paused. Abruptly Kitten did a u-turn and Tasuki watched warily as his koibito neared him again. His wariness increased when she stopped right in front of him.
Small hands shot out and grabbed Tasuki by the collar. Eyes the color of topaz widened as he was abruptly jerked downwards and met with a passionate, if not slightly awkward kiss.
Whatever Tasuki was expecting, this was not it. Not that he was going to complain, mind you. The redhead seishi got over his shock quickly, clasped his arms over Kitten's waist and happily took what was given to him. Nope, he was not going to look a gift Kitten in the mouth, especially when there are so many other things that one can do with said appendage.
Saki and Aoi watched with surprise at the young couple's ardor. Just when the both of them were about to feel like perverted voyeurs, the couple separated, slightly breathless. Kitten leaned her forehead against Tasuki's, trying to catch back her breath. Looking into amber eyes, she smiled tiredly.
"I know what you were trying to do just now, koishii," The girl addressed her beloved. "and I want you to know that I love you all the more for caring." She wrapped her own arms around his sleek physique and squeezed against him as tightly as she could before releasing. Kitten stepped back, forcing Tasuki to release her as well.
"I know that you are worried about me, Tas." Kitten tilted her head to a side to look at him. "Don't be. I will go rest now, ok?"
The Suzaku seishi did not know what to say. She was always surprising him at every turn. He nodded and she brushed her lips lightly against his.
"Oyasumi." He whispered back, staring at her with a tender look in his eyes.
Kitten turned to Saki and Aoi and gave them a brief nod in greeting before heading back to the tents, leaving a bemused Tasuki and two nonplussed immortals behind.
Saki and Aoi looked at each other, then stood up from their respective seats and quietly gathered the plates. Together, the two of them strolled down to a nearby stream to wash the dishes. They met a returning Akai on the way.
"What the heck is that idiot doing, standing up there all alone and smiling to himself? Did the woman hit him too hard or something?" Akai squinted at Tasuki.
Aoi laughed softly.
"That you have to ask Tasuki yourself, Akai. I am afraid that Saki and I have seen more than we should."
By his side, Saki nodded.
Akai peered suspiciously at the both of them before resuming his walk back to the redhead seishi, no doubt planning to annoy all the details out of the blissfully daydreaming man.
The water master smiled gently to himself and glanced down at the demi-goddess walking sedately by his side.
"Tonight is a peaceful night, ne?"
Saki silently agreed.
'Tonight is the night.'
'Don't deny it. The sooner you accept this, the better it will be for both of us. '
'Tonight I will be free. We will be free. What fun we will have then…'
A single crimson eye burst open. Chichiri lurched up from his futon. The Suzaku seishi was shaking violently. The intricate wind and water bond strained against his limbs.
'Break the bond, Chiri.'
"…no…" Chichiri moaned with anguish. Perspiration beaded his forehead.
There was a pause.
'Don't force my hand, Chiri. Break the bond.'
'You leave me no choice then.'
Brutal, merciless pain.
It wracked through his body in waves. Again and again. Unrelenting.
A raw tortured cry echoed through his fogged mind. It took awhile for the blue-haired seishi to realize that it had been him who had emitted the awful sound. Droplets of sweat rolled off his face, dripped into his eye, matted his hair. His frame shuddered violently. Precious oxygen wheezed through tortured airway and badly bruised lungs.
'So? Ready to give up?'
"Never." He panted shakily, crimson pupil revealing a magnitude of pain no one should have been forced to endure.
A malicious chuckle.
'Never say never, Chiri. One last chance. Release us.'
"Never." He spat out hatefully this time.
'Fine. Fight me all you want. We both know who will win this one.'
The screams were ripped from his throat this time.
They echoed the mountainside like those of a tortured, dying animal.
Whew. What an evil cliffy. Now let's all take a deep breath, relax and refrain from evil thoughts like killing the authoress.
Hehe, now would probably not be the best time to announce that I am alive and kicking, would it?
Thanks to all my reviewers who kept on encouraging me to continue this fic. Please do not worry that I will discontinue; I will definitely be seeing this fic to the end, I am not sure if you readers will survive the wait though. Lol.
You guys know the drill! Review!
Until then, this is your dastardly procrastinating authoress signing off!