Author's Note: Sorry this chapter took so long, min'na-san. I sort of lost my train of thought and forgot where I was going…I found the old hand-written notes, though, so now the story is back on track. Also, I reread and revised all the previous chapters, so you might want to go back and reread them so it'll all make sense by the end. I cleared up some confusing things here and there and fixed most of the typos, (I think), as well as added Translation Notes at the end of every chapter to explain what the different Japanese terms used in this fanfic mean.
I realized, while writing this chapter, that ACOH is really an Alternate Universe fanfic. It's a blend, sure, but if I make it an AU then I can put in little scenes like Yue's flashbacks and the things Touya sees while sleeping. So…yeah. It's an AU. Fun.
For everyone who is angry at me for so frequently updating Bound and never updating this, I am also extremely sorry. Yoshiaki arimasen…sumimasen…gomen nesai…
Nana-ban: Aika no Torinoboya
"Yue! Yue, stop it!"
Another window shattered, the sound seeming like music to the Moon Guardian's ears. Cerberus was saying something, but his deep voice was so far away that his brother couldn't understand a single word. He took another shaky step, then turned his wide, blank eyes to the mirror hanging on the nearest wall.
Detachedly, Yue noted that he was a mess. His hair was coming undone from the two ribbons that kept it bound; his robes were rumpled, one sleeve rolled up to his elbow, the other missing entirely. He did not quite understand what the crimson fluid clinging to his hands, arms, even his face, meant. He did know that it was warm, and he felt a distant sting wherever it was settled most. It smelled salty, and it smelled sweet, and—for some reason—it reminded him of Clow. The mage had smelled like that, toward the end…
Yue's face was drawn and sallow, he looked somehow undernourished—had he been outside to see the moon lately?—and his eyes were blank. Almost as though he were dead.
Cerberus came up behind him, tugging lightly on the hem of his tattered robes. "Yue, come out on the porch for a while. You haven't been outside in days, and we need to save our strength now that Clow Reed is…is…" His brow furrowed and he averted his golden eyes.
Yue blinked, still staring into the mirror, and then hurled himself at it.
"Soon?" Touya breathed in inquiry. "Soon what?"
Everything was dark, the memory had faded now; Touya was dreaming emptiness. The youth-turned-immortal wondered if this was what it had been like for Yue, all those years pretending he didn't exist, letting Yukito create a life for himself. He took a deep breath, closing his amethyst eyes—why did he look like Yue even in his dreams? It made no sense! He was still Touya, wasn't he?
"…Kaho," a voice chimed.
He turned, one pale figure coming into view behind him, then another. He recognized both, and his heart ached for both. Mizuki Kaho's pale burgundy hair caught and reflected light that had no source, whereas the pale figure that was Yue seemed to emanate a pale light of his own. "Kaho," the moon angel repeated, "I would ask something of you, if you do not object…"
Kaho—she looked so young, sixteen at most—nodded slowly. "Whatever you ask of me, Sir Yue, I will do."
The angel's face softened and he held out both slender hands, closing his eyes. An azure glow formed in the air between his palms. Touya watched in awe as the light intensified, a faint wind pulling everything in the scene toward that glow. Kaho's hair was pulled over her shoulder, drawn toward the light; light that reflected beautifully in her amber eyes.
Yue clenched his eyes shut tightly, grinding his teeth, and a beam of light shot out from his chest, circling the two figures once before joining the glow already sated between the angel's hands. The Guardian opened his eyes and let out a sigh of relief as the light took form, solidifying into a Chinese bell.
Kaho held out her hands as it began to fall, catching it easily, and examined it. Her eyes were drawn to the character inscribed on the front, which she read aloud. "'Tsuki…'" she paused, shaking her head. "No, 'Yue.' This is the Moon's Bell," she marveled, looking up at the much-taller Guardian. "But, Sir Yue, I cannot—"
"I ask that you keep it; keep it and use it when the time is right." He averted his catlike eyes. "I do not know how I could possibly give dominion to the Clow Cards to anyone else—they belong only to Clow. I fear…I will make a mistake." He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and letting it out in a sigh. "Make sure I make the proper choice, Kaho. Please."
She looked at the bell once more, and nodded slowly. "I will, Sir Yue." Then, so subtly that Touya barely noticed it, the scene began to fade. Yue, Kaho, the bell…all were gone in a matter of moments.
The former mortal felt a twinge of confusion—that memory was most definitely Yue's, not Yukito's. But then, how did he see it? Yukito had his own memories, completely separate from Yue's. So how was it possible for Touya to see Yue's memories in Yukito's mind?
The line between boy and angel, mortal and Guardian, was beginning to blur. And Touya didn't like it one bit.
Any further thoughts he might have had were cut off, however, when a searing heat formed in his chest, spreading out through his limbs and making him hiss in pain. It was horrible, lancing and liquid, as though he had fallen into a pool of molten rock. Like he was being burned alive. On top of the heat, all pressure had disappeared, causing the mortal-turned-angel to feel as though he were coming apart. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't move, he couldn't make a sound…
What was happening that could possibly put him through such pain? What was it that was making him want so badly to scream? He would have ground his teeth, if he could have—would have gasped for breath, if he could have—would have shrieked in agony, if only he could find the strength.
But he couldn't, and so there was nothing but relief when the darkness at last came up to claim him.
"Guardian of the Clow," Yue recited carefully, arms at his sides, hands no longer clenched into fists, "Avatar of the Moon, conceal your angelic guise and walk as mortals do." Touya's eyes clenched tightly, he gave a faint whimper of pain. Yue knew what this felt like—the exact opposite of a Yukito-initiated transformation. He apologized silently for putting Touya through such pain. "Rest your feet upon the Earth, draw your wings away from the Moon, and hide within your human visage: Tsukishiro Yukito." He raised his voice slightly at the end of the spell, giving Yukito's name a higher level of certainty.
The moon-pale figure that was Touya glowed brightly, encircled with silvery light, and Yue was forced to close his eyes to preserve his sight. The magic surging around him lifted him up into the air, the light reaching its crescendo, and Touya's back arched as his eyes grew wide and frenzied. Touya, eyes narrowed and one hand to his brow, watched as the moon angel stiffened, mouth opening wide and letting fly a silent scream. His hidden wings reemerged and wrapped tightly around him, the light flashed brightly and the feathery limbs parted once more and faded into blue-silver light, burying themselves once more in the slender figure's back.
Yukito hovered in place in the air for a moment, then his silvery hair drifted upward as he began to fall. Yue leapt onto the bed and caught the falling youth, the springs creaking at the added weight.
The teen opened his hazel eyes, still sleepy, and looked up at the guardian-turned-mortal with confusion. "Yue?" he murmured.
The dark-haired youth lowered the smaller boy to the ground, stepping off the bed shortly after. "Sakura called," he said in explanation, "and we are to join her and her father at her home."
"Didn't she tell us to stay here?" the boy inquired, arching one eyebrow. Yue replied with an uncharacteristic shrug, to which Yukito cocked his head to one side in confusion. That movement had looked disturbingly Touya-like. To take his mind off what that could mean, all the things that simple motion entailed, Yukito glanced around his room. His brow furrowed when he caught sight of the box sitting beside the door. "What's that?"
Yue turned. "No idea. Sakura left it, I believe."
They remained in silence for several seconds, both of them staring at the box. "Shouldn't we…maybe…open it?" Yukito suggested. Yue turned to face him once more, scrutinizing him closely, as though seeing him for the first time.
"Do you want to?" he inquired at last.
The guardian went silent for a moment, biting his bottom lip and averting his eyes. He shouldn't have worried about what was in that box, it shouldn't have meant anything to him whether or not it was ever opened, but for some reason he really did want to pen it. It was a foreign feeling, wanting to do such a pointless thing, and Yue was not merely surprised by its presence—he was frightened. He wasn't supposed to feel things like this.
Several seconds passed. "…I don't care," he lied.
Yukito's hazel eyes went cloudy for a moment, some indescribable emotion flitting over his features. "All right," he said with a smile. "Then we won't bother."
Fujitaka sighed, interlocking his fingers and leaning his hands against his chin. "If you don't mind my saying so," he said after looking between Yukito and Yue several times, "this doesn't look like the work of CHANGE."
Yue started, sapphire eyes widening. "But—" the head of the Kinomoto household turned his turquoise eyes on the Guardian, arching both eyebrows. Yue broke off and lowered his gaze, brow furrowing as he leaned back further against his chair. "I'm sorry, I did not mean to interrupt you." The man was too much like Clow, in his features and mannerisms, for the moon Guardian to ever be at-ease in his presence. It was the same with Eriol—he was so close to having the magician back, but still so far it hurt.
Fujitaka gave a nod in reply. "My guess would be that one or the other of you—you or Touya-kun—used your own brand of magic."
Sakura shook her head. "But Touya doesn't have any magic," she said softly. "He gave it all up to save Yukito—a long time ago." Her father gave her a knowing glance that seemed far too wise to be his, and she chewed her bottom lip for a moment in thought. "Well, he did…didn't he?"
"Indeed," Yue answered.
"The magic you call Touya's," the oldest Kinomoto explained, "is not like the magic of most wizards. His power came from his mother, a gift granted to him through her death; it was never really his to begin with." All of the three gathered round Clow's reincarnation—Yukito, Sakura, and Yue—stared in disbelief, exchanging a confused glance. "Touya's magic hasn't even woken up yet, and I'm glad for that. If he had been aware of his own magic as a child, then he likely wouldn't have survived to this age." He lowered his eyes. "I was surprised that Nadeshiko lasted so long…"
Sakura blinked, confused beyond all belief. "What do you mean? That Mama's magic was…was…"
"Fatal," Fujitaka completed. "Your mother's power, like that of Clow Reed, was too great for her body to handle. Her spirit…" he paused, gaze darkening as the memories of his wife's death returned. "…overflowed, making it impossible for her to keep herself within physical bounds. When she died, a portion of that spirit was given to Touya, and a portion to you. Your half was used only to protect, the fragment given to Touya settled within him and he found a way to draw on it, using it like his own power. It was split in two, just as Clow did with his soul all those years ago."
Yue narrowed his eyes, realizing just how familiar this sounded. He had read about this before, in Clow's library, he was sure of it. He tried desperately to recall what had been written in that ancient text; when the words at last returned to him his eyes widened. "Overabundant Magic," he said softly, lifting his gaze to meet Fujitaka's. "That's what you're talking about, isn't it? That was the illness Clow had?"
The man nodded solemnly. "There will be time for more discussion about Touya-kun's latent powers later—right now we need to figure out what happened here." He gestured to Yukito and then to Yue. "Between you three."
"But Overabundant Magic is curable!" the guardian continued, uncaring of the man's change of subject. "It isn't even hard to treat—Clow himself treated several cases before he even started creating the cards!" He shot to his feet, clenching both hands into fists and grinding his teeth. "We could have saved him! It wouldn't even have been difficult! But he…he chose to…?" his hands fell back to his sides and his eyes went blank. "Clow chose to let himself die…"
"Yue-san?" Sakura whispered, eyes filled with concern.
The Guardian turned to face her for a long moment, sapphire eyes casting from his mistress to the other half of his soul, then to the reincarnation of his first master. It was all too much to bear. He took a step back, clenching his eyes tightly shut. "I-I can't…I…" He held both hands to his head, trying to will away the jolt of pain rushing through his skull, and screamed at the top of his lungs.
Sakura's eyes widened and she froze in place—never had she seen Yue like this, never. Not even when she went back to the moment of Clow's death had he been so obviously torn. Yue was screaming, she realized belatedly, her mind finally getting over the shock. Yue wasn't supposed to scream.
While the young mage stared in bewilderment at her Guardian, Yukito concentrated on the presence barely evident in the back of his mind, yelling as loudly as thoughts would allow in an attempt to wake him.
Touya! He yelled. Touya, I know you're sleeping, but Yue needs help right now!
Yukito's mental voice was frantic, edged with concern far beyond anything Touya had ever heard him voice, and the boy-turned-Guardian rushed to take control in spite of his fatigue. In a flash of blue light he was at the dark-haired youth's side, and instantly on his feet. He wrapped both arms around the taller figure and held him tightly, keeping him from thrashing about any more than he already had.
He turned his amethyst eyes on his sister. "Sakura, do something!" he screamed.
The girl reached for the key around her neck, but her father held out one hand to stop her. When she looked at him he shook his head, eyes dark, and rose to his feet. Standing before his son, Fujitaka leaned down. "Let him go, Touya-kun," he commanded.
"Let him go."
Touya, amethyst eyes dark and awash with turmoil, reluctantly released the howling youth. Fujitaka stepped forward and placed a hand on either side of Yue's head and let out a long breath, blowing against the Guardian's face. Golden light flickered in the man's breath, and Yue's cry trailed off, sapphire eyes opening wide. Fujitaka gave a sympathetic smile. "Sleep, Yue," he said softly. "You need it more than any of us."
The Guardian-turned-boy blinked once, vision blurring through tears. For an instant he could swear that the man standing before him did not have auburn hair, but black; not brown eyes, but gold; he was not garbed in a button-up shirt and dark slacks, but a long, flowing robe…
"…Clow?" he murmured brokenly. Sakura and Touya started in time, turning from the Guardian to their father, waiting for an explanation that they knew would never come. Fujitaka averted his eyes, whispering sleep to the dark-haired youth once more, and Yue crumpled into an unconscious heap on the floor at his feet.
The song was not unpleasant in flow or melody, but the Guardian felt that it made his heart hurt. For what reason he was uncertain, but as his Master sang out the last verse he wanted nothing more than to turn away.
"For nightbirds loved moonlight
And songbirds the sun's heat
No matter how the two did care
Their love did never meet."
The song trailed off, deep voice falling slowly silent, and the singer turned his deep golden eyes on the moon-pale figure seated at his feet and gave a nod.
Yue's brow furrowed. "I don't think I like this song, Master," he said softly, lowering his gaze. The ebon-haired man reached down one sun-darkened hand and hooked two fingers under the Guardian's chin, lifting until the young construct was facing him again.
"Some songs must be learned," he said gently, "regardless of whether or not we like them. This song in particular is one you must learn."
"I alone? Cerberus does not have to learn it?"
The mage's gaze softened. "Cerberus does not need it, little moon angel. You, however, will most certainly need it before the end."
Yue narrowed his eyes in confusion. "The end?" Those deep golden eyes suddenly turned away, dark fingers released his chin. Yue rose halfway, taking the man's dark hands in both of his own and holding them tightly as he knelt before his creator. "Master, what do you mean? Master?"
But Clow Reed kept his golden eyes averted and refused to answer.
"I-Is he gonna be okay?" Sakura inquired shakily, looking down at the now-sleeping form of Yue.
Fujitaka sat back down, silent, and Touya turned to him with disbelief. "Are you just going to leave him there? On the floor?" He pointed with one moon-pale hand, eyes flashing dangerously.
The auburn-haired man took a deep breath and let out a sigh; he closed his eyes and crossed his hands, holding them just in from of his mouth as he spoke. "I need to explain this in the most easily-understood fashion, and having him lay there will help." He looked sideways at his daughter, who started when he looked at her. Was she imagining it, or were his eyes…gold? "Sakura, when you are done playing with one of your toys, your dolls, what do you usually do with it?"
"Well, I supposed to put it aw—"
"I didn't ask what you're supposed to do, Sakura," he interjected. The girl wondered when he had stopped using his pet-honorifics. "I asked what you do."
She mused one this for a moment. "I leave them laying around," she replied. "Usually on the floor."
Fujitaka looked down at Yue. "So do I."
As the eldest Kinomoto had expected, Touya flew into a rage. "What are you saying, dad?! That Yue's just a-a doll?! Some toy to be discarded once you get bored?! That's not what Clow Reed believed and you know it! Clow never thought Yue was just a doll!"
"He was never supposed to be more than that," Fujitaka said, his voice pained. "Yue was meant to be a toy, a doll. Something to play with, train a bit, and leave behind. I went too fa—" He broke off, shaking his head and wincing slightly, as though in pain. "No, Clow Reed went too far in his attachment to Yue. Perhaps if he had been more careful with what he said, how he behaved, then Yue was not have broken himself."
Sakura cocked her head to one side. "Broken…? What do you mean?"
Fujitaka shook his head. "That, Sakura, is his secret to share." The man slid to the floor, kneeling before the Guardian-turned-mortal, and took a deep breath before taking hold of his shoulders and hoisting him up into the chair. "You can ask him yourself later. In the meantime he needs his sleep."
"What are we going to do about tomorrow?" Touya inquired, gesturing with his thumb over his shoulder at the now-open box laying in the corner. It contained Touya's school uniform, his books, the book Yukito had left behind by accident when he went home, and a decent supply of pocky—to keep Yukito sated and relatively calm until they could figure out what to do.
Fujitaka, once-again-brown eyes slightly narrowed, regarded the box with a shrug. When he rose to his full height, mouth curving in a smile once more, and spoke again, his voice no longer held the oddly-accented undertone of Clow Reed. Kinomoto Fujitaka was, once again, only himself. "Well, Touya-kun, I guess we'll just have to wait and see if Yue's feeling up to it tomorrow. Until then, you should probably get some sleep."
Touya sighed and sunk back into his chair. "All I ever seem to do anymore is sleep…" His amethyst eyes drifted shut, though he fought to keep them open, and he was enveloped in azure light.
Sakura gave her father a sideways glance, wondering if what he had said was true—was Yue meant to be nothing more than Clow Reed's doll? Her father caught her gaze and turned to face her, ever-present smile in place. She started and turned away, suddenly nervous. When Eriol split his magic in two he woke up the Clow Reed in Fujitaka, Sakura knew that much. But now she wondered something else; she had always assumed that Eriol, because of his relatively dark practices, was the darker half of the mage. Now, seeing her father so…different…even from what she knew Clow to be, she wondered if she had supposed wrong.
Perhaps Eriol was the light, and Fujitaka was the dark after all.
Nana-ban: Number Seven. Yes, that's it. Nana is seven, although it is sometimes replaced with the older term, shichi, in much the same manner "four" (yon) becomes shi.
Aika no Torinoboya: Literally, "Lament of the Bird of the Night." The last term is a conglomeration of Tori, "bird," no, "of," and boya, meaning "night." There is no word meaning, exactly, "nightbird" in Japanese, so I put this one together myself. It's pretty mangled, but it gets the point across. Oh, and aika is a lament, as in "a song of great sorrow."
Honorifics (revisited 3): I should have put this in the previous chapter, but I forgot and so here it is. Fujitaka refers to his children with honorifics, which is rather odd for a parent. This can be blamed either on him using them like a pet-name, or the fact that he isn't really Japanese, you decide. He refers to Touya as "Touya-kun," using another honorific usually restricted to school. (Usually, but not always.) Kun, like the feminine ko, is a term of friendship used when you've known someone, usually through school, for over a year. It can also be used between childhood friends, (e.g. Juvinile Orion, in which Mana refers to Kusakabe Kaname as Kaname-kun in spite of the fact that she hasn't seen him in seven years, much less been in school with him. Note: anyone who hasn't read this, and I do mean anyone, should. It's intense. She also refers to Itsuki Naoya as Itsuki-kun, and Amou Tsukasa as Amou-kun even though she's only known them for about a week and a half, whereas Shiba Yi-Xin remains, sadly, Shiba-sempai and Nakaura Tomonori is still Nakaura-sensei.) Wow, I'm sort of giving a crash-course in basic Japanese, aren't I? Sorry, I wasn't intending to try to teach foreign languages…I'll stop if you want and just list the basic definitions in my notes…