Promises to Keep, Chapter 9
"Adventures in Electromagical Engineering"

(Okay, originally this was part of chapter 8 too, but then it turned out to be 18 pages long, so I split it at the scene break again... ^^;; And Lawson's is a late-night convenience store with branches all over the place in Japan. Last chapter entirely from Touya's POV for a while, I should be back to rotating next time...)


In the Tomoeda movie theater, Yukito went completely rigid; a moment later, he started to shake, almost like convulsions. Alarmed, Tomoyo reached over and touched his hand. "Tsukishiro-san...?"

He couldn't answer, both hands knotted around the arms of the theater's chairs, eyes shut tight, shuddering all over.

The people behind them were too busy making out to notice; Tomoyo wondered if she should go and ask the security guard to call the mall's staff paramedics. Oddly enough, a little boy two rows in front of them turned around to stare.

"Why is he shining like that?" the little boy asked Tomoyo, wide-eyed.

The boy's mother waved an apology, turned the child around, and gave him a quick hushed lecture about keeping quiet in the movies; Tomoyo looked at Yukito again. Years of life around magic she couldn't see had almost attuned her to events like this, but it was a bit disconcerting for it not to be Sakura who was reacting to the invisible powers. Of course, she would have asked Yukito if he hadn't been busy convulsing at the moment...

Do I call the paramedics? But what do I tell them when they try to take a CAT scan to find out what's wrong? 'Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention he's not human?'

I can't tell Sakura-chan, she'll feel compelled to use her powers...  If I call Li-kun he'll be terrified it's something to do with Sakura... that is, if Kero-chan isn't bringing him here in a panic already... Hiiragizawa-kun's on the other side of the planet, Kinomoto-sensei's at a conference in Sapporo.

Touya-san... can't do anything more than I could do, not anymore...

And then, just about the time she'd decided to ask the security guard to call her a taxi and help her carry Tsukishiro-san out to it, the convulsions passed; he slumped back into his chair, visibly dazed, the flush in his cheeks visible even by the reflected light from the movie screen.


Panting for breath, he managed to whisper, "I... I think... that was a feedback loop..."

"From what?"

His eyes were far too bright, and a little glassy, and he giggled as though he were very softly drunk. "From the world's most amazing piece of chocolate...!"

Tomoyo blinked, several times, and then decided which of the several dozen questions clawing for attention was the most vital one. "Everything's all right?"

"Everything's... wonderful..."

Feeling her face burning with embarrassment at the sheer sensual euphoria in his voice, Tomoyo turned her attention strictly back to the movie.

Lekos instead of fresnels for the backlights, it looks like -- it makes the shadows sharper, but I think they should have gone a bit more soft-focused for this shot, and a little more amber, and...

Yukito sighed deeply, in trembling bliss, too wrung out even to reach for the half-empty bucket of popcorn they were sharing. (For a certain value of "she'd eaten two handfuls and he'd eaten the rest" sharing, that was.)

...backlights! Needed another two reflectors at five and seven, it's underexposed at the edges... definitely... more backlights...



Every nerve in his body was electrified, and still giving him aftershocks. He'd been almost painfully aware of everything in those few moments, overwhelmed by not one connection, but three. Yuki, of course -- and Yue curled sleeping within him, though not sleeping for long once the connection had hit; he could still feel Yue reeling with it, disoriented by the feedback from a long-latent piece of Touya's magic that now sang both to and from the three of them. And to and from Sakura as well -- it had been her power providing the core of the 'battery,' it had been her power sustaining her Guardians for years now, of course she was a part of the connection -- he'd understood intellectually, before, how tiring her pregnancy must be for her, but he'd never felt it. Now he felt it in her, the deep warm greedy needing of the baby growing in her womb, the way it demanded her life and strength and comfort, the way it drained her reserves -- both physical and magical... the hell did she put up with this for eight months? Why didn't she give Yue to me months ago...?

"Because I didn't know if it would set off my labor, to lose that much power so abrup-...oh!" You didn't SAY that, did you? Oh... oh, goodness...

She was far more experienced at magic than he was, by now; she put some kind of dampener over the connections that had been made between the lot of them, some kind of magical mute button. Touya blinked to clear his vision, because he'd still been seeing hazy glimmerings of the movie Yukito was barely focusing on, and it had been vaguely alarming to see a print of Helena Bonham Carter's face ghosted into their cheerful living room walls. All gone now, though... he didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed.

If he felt everything I felt as clearly as I felt him... then... the next time we touch each other... dear God in heaven...

"Oniichan, you're not 'hearing' me anymore, right?" Sakura asked.

It took some effort to lift his head enough to focus on her. "Wha'...?" he managed intelligently.

She held up a hand. "How many fingers?"

"Five," he said, then added before she could have a full-out panic attack, "but you're only showing three."

"...Oniichan! You-- you-- ooooooooh!" Then, a moment later, she hugged him fiercely. "You scared me half to death -- I thought I'd done something horribly wrong...! Are you sure you're okay? If you've got enough energy to pick on me you've got to be mostly okay, but... you were shaking all over, and..."

Touya felt himself blushing. Yeah, an ongoing magic-induced almost-orgasm probably does that to people. God, I can't wait for that movie to get over with, I want Yuki back here, I want my hands on him, and my mouth, and... everything,  everywhere...

"...Oniichan, are you listening at all?"

"Er... no?" he managed a little sheepishly. "Give me a second... still getting over the fireworks..."

"I'll go get some tea," she said, determinedly heaving her child-burdened girth out of the sofa and half-waddling toward the kitchen in her haste. Touya let his head drop back against the sofa, still lost in fantasies about the possibilities.

He heard her set the teapot down on the table, and the clink of the glasses, and the quiet ripple of the pouring tea; it smelled sharper than it had for years, crisp and fragrant and wild. Everything felt sharper. Clearer, crisper, almost overwhelmingly so.

Even if I can't use the power, even if I can't see Mother again,  this alone is amazing; I hadn't realized how much I'd missed...

"Monster?" he managed faintly. "That thing where I was seeing the movie through Yuki's eyes and all that... what was that...?"

"Eriol-kun and I miscalculated a little," Sakura mumbled. "We thought we'd have to boost the connection a little, because it wasn't your own native magic, it might need some coaxing to connect with you. We'd underestimated how much you'd take in the part that was what Yukito-san was giving back to you, because even though it's a bit of what used to be yours, it's been suffused with his magic now, and..."

"Oh," Touya said, still drifting in the aftermath. "That's nice."

"...But it looks as though something in you wanted it even more eagerly, because it feels like him; you weren't rejecting it even though it didn't feel like yours anymore, so it seems like it's not like physical transplants -- it's -- It was like the stereo being turned on at full volume when we plugged it in, I had to find the volume knob kind of fast and turn it back down... or like adjusting the amperage before the circuits fried... and... um... --and Kero-chan's probably in a panic, I need to call Shaoran..."

Her cell phone rang even while she was saying it, and she dug it out of her purse hastily. "I'm fine! --Yes, Shaoran, I knew it was you, and I'm fine... I promise... Kero-chan's just feeling what I did for Yue-san and oniichan, so that oniichan's life can support him too... yes, I know I'm not supposed to do magic now. That wasn't really doing magic as much as just, er, repackaging it a little..."

Sakura held the phone away from her head a little, smiling ruefully at the indignation of the frantic squawks coming from it. "...No, really, Eriol-kun said that... Shaoran, I promise, I'm fine. Ask Kero-chan. I promise. I'm not sure how well Yue-san's taking it, but I'm completely fine..." sounded like, one way or another, either Kero or her sheer amused patience had gotten through to the brat; now Sakura was blushing and mumbling sugar-laden honey-twiddles into the phone, and then placed the phone against her belly so that the father-to-be could say something revoltingly cute to her bulge, and then they started gooping at each other again, heavily interlaced with assurances of how much everyone was fine and how much everyone loved each other.

God, were Yuki and I that sappy at each other whenever he left with Sakura to go somewhere?

Yuki was always a sap. He practically reveled in it. It had to be something about the sugar addiction.

...Well, I wasn't that sappy, anyway...

or at least not all the time.

and even if I was, it's Yuki. Anyone would be sappy about him. It's like he's a walking sugar magnet. I can't help it if I was just responding to normal pheromone pressures and...

Even he couldn't protest that much in the face of his own common sense.

...yeah, right. Love is love. I haven't got a clue what she sees in the brat, but I know that she sees it in him... that's got to be good enough, right?

He felt a warm wave of approval, and thought in startlement, Yuki, are you 'leaning' on my mind?

Touya could have sworn he heard Yuki giggle.

You manipulative little... --no wonder Yue looks so cranky all the time, if he's got his own little sugar-fairy conscience thinking CUTE at him so relentlessly! So how do I get to lean on you?

There was no answer to that, of course.

Yuki? Yuki, that's not fair...

The next fuzzy image that was slowly nudged into his mind came with a faint and long-distance but still palpable wave of pink embarrassment. And it involved whipped cream and hot fudge warmed to body temperature.

Touya didn't have to think hard at all to realize the potential for manipulation available there.

All right, now I forgive you, Touya thought, grinning broadly. As long as you buy whipped cream and hot fudge at the Lawson's on the way home, that is!

Just to make sure Yuki heard it, he thought very loudly about Yukito standing in line at the Lawson's with two containers in his hands, and the giggle of the high school girl who worked at the counter and had a mad crush on the polite and soft-spoken young man.

Got it?

Again, there weren't any words in the reply, but a small ripple of sheepish self-consciousness in the back of his mind definitely wasn't Touya's own.

...Maybe this was just the lingering aftereffects of the first rush, maybe it wouldn't last long, but Touya planned to enjoy it while it lasted. Maybe he could figure out how to work the controls a little, too... in any case, he was looking forward to experimenting. Maybe his little sister was onto something with the magic-and-science analogy.

(And he couldn't wait to see the expression on Yue's face when he told the angel that Sakura classified him as an always-turned-on refrigerator in the modern-revisionist rewrite of the magical lexicon, too.)