Redemption

This is a fairly dark and religious fic I wrote. There are adult situations, homosexuality, and some cursing (nothing that bad). While none of these things are the focal point of this fic or even described (I am the master of a graceful fadeout), they're what up the rating from a PG-13 to an R. If you dislike these things, you probably shouldn't read this fic.

I used song lyrics and some quote/poems to help move along and set the mood for this fic. I obviously do not own the Torah/Bible, insert smart/possibly offensive remark here. The translation was from one version or another, there's a lot of different translations and I translated parts of the verses by myself. I also don't own Yasashii Ame, Hikari's 02 image song, or RUN, Eagle Vision's (from Magic Knight Rayearth) image song. The rights to the Digimon characters I used here belong to their rightful owners, same goes for RUN. For the life of me I can't remember the title of the poem used in here, sorry.

There are some religious beliefs in here, sort of. They're more philosophical/theological ideas, but just so you know (I can get touchy about this), I'm not endorsing any religion or ideas from this fic. The ideas discussed in here are either my own personal beliefs or things that I thought the characters might believe in. Don't yell at me, but I'd appreciate reviews.

Redemption
by Rb

"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. The earth was unformed and void, with Darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water. And God said, "Let there be Light," and there was Light. And God saw that the Light was Good, and God seperated the Light from the Darkness. God called the Light Day, and the Darkness he called Night. And there was evening, and there was morning, one day." Genesis 1, verses 1-6.

Yagami Hikari tossed and turned in her bed, her soft body encased in her bedding.

I won't sleep, she vowed. I won't sleep. I won't sleep.

Eventually, her tired body won over her fear-stricken mind, and she fell into a dream that she'd had so many times before...

---

Be our Queen. Be our Goddess. Be our Ruler. Use the Power, bend us to Your Will. We want You, we need You. Come to us, and we will make You great.

No, Hikari whispered. No. No. No! Her voice rose to a shriek.

But the figures were always there, always prying at her mind, always trying to make her bend...

---

Hikari woke, as always, drenched in the sweat of her own fear.

Why do they come for me? she wondered as she took her morning shower, rinsing off her sweat-soaked body. Why don't I ever have enough strength to get them away?

"Am I that weak?" she asked out loud. The only answer was the gentle hiss of the steaming shower.

She turned off the spray and dried herself off with a towel. At nearly eighteen, she was still very slender and pale. Her light brown hair now fell gently around her shoulders in soft, gentle locks.

Her eyes had not changed. Her eyes still glimmered with an almost heavenly light.

She wrapped herself in her pale pink bathrobe and walked to her room. Clothing, what to wear today?

From amidst the pale pinks and cheerful yellows and baby blues that made up her wardrobe, she found a plain black t-shirt and pair of blue jeans that had belonged to Taichi. The jeans were too big for her; she held them up with a belt. Leaving her hair wet and loose on her shoulders, she walked barefoot into the kitchen.

Her mother was sitting at the kitchen table, and so was Takenouchi Sora. Their heads were bent together over a magazine. Hikari padded past them and opened the refrigerator door. Beer, beer, milk, soda, last night's leftovers...

"Hikari!" Sora exclaimed. Hikari poked her head out of the refrigerator while she selected a can of soda.

"Sora-san," she greeted the older girl, who looked fetching in a long, flowered skirt and a pale yellow bouse.

"Skip the formalities, Hikari, we're practically sisters, after all." Sora smiled gently. Since Sora and Taichi had announced their engagement six months ago, Sora had been smiling an awful lot. It made Hikari sick to her stomach, although she kept an answering smile on her face.

"Right," Hikari said. She sipped her soda and was quiet while her mother and Sora went over more and more wedding plans.

---

One night, when Hikari was twelve, she'd been outside and alone in the park, lost in the beauty of the half moon in the night sky, in the balance between light and darkness. A shadowy figure, a boy older than herself with evil urges, had come up to her and grabbed her.

She'd been so frightened, the boy forcing himself towards her in a way that she simply wasn't ready or willing to accept. She'd pointed with one finger toward the boy, trembling -- and a lance of bright light had shot from her finger to his chest. The boy had been writhing on the ground in pain as she had run away.

---

That was the night she'd begun to bleed. It happened every month, but she'd always hated it. It made her feel as though her life was dripping out between her legs. It made her feel weak. Hikari hated feeling weak. Hikari hated being weak.

Hikari always wanted to be strong, but she never could be...

---

"I wonder if Sora knows what she's getting into," Hikari's mother said after Sora left.

"What do you mean?" Hikari asked, intrigued despite herself. She sat herself down at the place Sora had so recently vacated.

"Well, marriage changes a woman in many ways. And Sora's still quite young, I wonder if she's ready." Her mother sipped from her cup of tea.

Hikari made some quick mental calculations. "You were younger than Sora is now when you got married, Mom."

Her mother stirred her cup of tea absent-mindedly with a spoon. "Ah, but I was...well..."

"What?" Hikari asked. She took another gulp of her own drink.

"It's sort of silly to think of it now, but...I was escaping."

Hikari set down her can. "From what?" An edge of steel had entered her normally kind voice.

Her mother blushed. "Nothing specific. I just kept having these dreams..."

"Dreams?"

"Dreams." Her mother nodded. "They were of these...twisted, mutated creatures. They wanted me to..." Her brow creased in thought. "They wanted me to do something, anyway. I can't remember now. But the dreams had been haunting me for a while, and I was afraid, so I...I married your father." She sighed in relief. "After we...after we got married, the dreams stopped completely."

She didn't notice the color draining from Hikari's face, or her jaw straightening. She did notice when Hikari left the apartment, but by then it was too late.

---

One night, Hikari'd been sixteen and stupid and she'd accepted a date from a guy who was handsome and honey-coated. And she'd been driven in his car to a place where only the moon could invade their privacy. He'd started to kiss her, her lips, her ears, her neck, and then his hands caressed her body, her bare body, bringing a type of pleasure she'd never felt before, bringing heat.

And then the temperature had gone up, up, way up, and he'd cried out in shock as her body had started to glow with a sizzling light. His hands, the hands that had touched her guiltily, had been burnt and cooked by the holiness of her own body.

She'd sat there, because she couldn't do much else. He'd cursed at her, said horrible words to her, which she knew simply couldn't be true. His true personality revealed at last, she'd stepped out of the car and walked home in the silence of the night.

She wasn't afraid of the dark, not really, not truly. She was afraid of a certain kind of dark, the kind of dark that follows the light, just waiting for a chance to glow. That kind of darkness resides mostly in the heart of man.

Or woman...

---

She'd bled that night, too.

---

Hikari left Tokyo forever that day, frightened by her mother's story.

"It might protect the others...if I'm no longer here," she thought, her eyes closed, as she stepped onto the plane.

If her eyes hadn't been closed, she would have noticed Takaishi Takeru and Hida Iori trying to reach her. But she didn't, and so they never found out why she left, never were able to track where she'd been going.

Such is the way that the world goes. They say that a butterfly flapping its wings in China can cause a tornado in America. The direction in which the light falls will make a difference.

---

Takeru awoke in the night and sat up straight, careful not to disturb his lover besides him. He'd dreamt about her again.

Ever since he was eight years old, ever since he'd been in the digital world with Yagami Hikari for the first time, he'd wanted to protect her with all of his heart. She was like him, younger than the others, with a big brother and an angel digimon, and he wanted to help protect her because she was good, and she was kind, and she was the kind of person that it would be wrong not to help.

What he hadn't counted on was the...the soul-binding?...that he had undergone with Yagami Hikari. For twenty years now, the greater part of his life, he'd been this way.

When she was injured, he felt the pain. When she was upset, he caught the clash of her mind. And when she was happy -- and there was nothing like Hikari when she was happy -- his entire mind would be filled with joy and light.

Takeru hadn't seen Hikari for eleven years, seven months, and four days. She was no longer at the front of his mind every waking second. But lately, his dreams had been of her. They weren't ever racy or pornographic; his tastes didn't go that way, and anyway, thinking anything like that about Hikari would be...twisted.

But increasingly in the past few months, in his dreams he'd see images of Hikari's life. Places she'd been. People she met. And an overwhelming feeling of...fear? Sadness?

"Iori," Takeru said, nudging gently at the bare shoulder of the man who slept besides him.

"What is it, Takeru?" asked Iori, rubbing one emerald green eye with his hand but otherwise awake.

"I dreamt of her again."

"What was your dream, Takeru?" asked Iori.

"I saw her. She was in a city, where the stones gleamed gold. There was a temple of some sort, but...no, she didn't pray there. She prayed at a Wall." Takeru hesitated, hearing the capitals in his speech.

"Yesterday," Iori pressed gently, "you saw her in a desert of some sort?"

"Yeah..." Takeru said, and frowned. "And the day before, at a resort on a beach."

"Huh, I wonder if you're seeing fragments of her day, or of her dreams," said Iori, staring at the ceiling.

"Eh?" asked Takeru.

"Well, it seems like a rather varied landscape for one place." Iori thought for a minute more. "Anything else?"

"Well..." Takeru shrugged. "It might sound stupid, but...everywhere that I 'see,' the people are mostly children."

"Children? What do you mean?"

"Well, there are adults, but anyone over a certain age seems sort of...irrelevant, I guess, to Hikari's mind."

"How old?" questioned Iori curiously.

Takeru thought for a moment. "Oh...maybe anyone over the age of eight or so? They just aren't considered relevant."

"Eight..." echoed Iori. "Do you think she knows about Hikaru?"

"Taichi hasn't had any contact at all with Hikari, and neither has Sora," said Takeru glumly.

"Well, I'll check it out in the morning. Sleep some more, Takeru. Maybe you'll find out where she is." Iori gave his partner a kiss, and then dropped back into sleep.

Takeru wanted to sleep, needed to sleep, could feel it in every fiber of his body. But did he want to get in contact with Hikari's mind again? When he was younger, the pain that was often connected to Hikari's mind was nothing compared to the joy and the love that he and his best friend shared.

But now...he was nearly thirty. He hadn't seen Hikari for so long. Why did she want to get in contact with him now? Why was her mind, closed for so long, suddenly open?

---

"Do you ever wonder what we're gonna be when we get older?" Takeru asked Hikari when they were both fifteen.

"You...I know what you'll be. You'll be a teacher," Hikari answered confidently.

"A teacher?" He'd never even considered the possibility before.

"Yeah. You're so good with little kids! An educator, definitely."

He would have never picked that job for himself, but...since Hikari-chan had said it, he knew it'd become true.

"And what about you?" he asked. "What do you see yourself doing?"

Her face shut down. "I...I don't see myself doing anything at all." A wave of sadness washed over her, him, them, and their carefree afternoon came to a close.

---

She was right, though. Takeru did have an aptitude for teaching. In one of his classes, he even taught Hikari's niece, Yagami Hikaru.

Hikari didn't know about her niece, and that was a shame. They looked and acted so much alike, it was unbelievable...

Takeru rolled over and fell asleep, letting dreams of another person, another life cloud his mind and soul.

---

Sunshine. Bright sunshine. It warmed Hikari's face and arms and made her smile.

"Hey, Ora, you all right?" asked another woman, coming up behind her.

"Yes, Rifkah?" Hikari turned around, responding easily to her new name.

"You just froze for a second.." The older woman touched Hikari on the shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," said Hikari. "I'm all right."

"Another one of your headaches, Ora?" The entire kibbutz knew of her headaches and how much they pained the slender, strange woman.

"No, but thank you for caring, Rifkah." Hikari walked away. Rifkah stared after her.

No one on the kibbutz really knew Ora well. She'd just appeared, announcing she wanted to live there -- and no one had objected. She spoke Hebrew with an accent no one could place, not American, not Russian, but entirely different. She was wonderful with children, they all trusted her instinctively, but she was...not cold, but distant towards the adults. She loved to travel to all corners of their nation, Israel.

Ora was a mystery, but...Rifkah sniffed. It wasn't her business to figure out the intricacies of Ora's life, after all. She'd leave that up to the many young men jousting for Ora's attention...although Ora never paid any attention to them, or to the women, either.

It wasn't her place, anyway.

---

In the distance, Hikari sat down and thought.

She'd been completely dream-free for the past five months, and they'd been appening with decreasing frequency for..oh...years before that. The sunlight was comforting, the day warm, and she was finally free of the chains of darkness which had bound her.

Why, then, was she so worried?

She didn't know, but she knew something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

Hikari closed her eyes and concentrated...

---

In Tokyo, eight-year-old Yagami Hikaru tossed and turned in her bed.

They were after her. They were bad. They were bad, but They wanted her, and she didn't know why.

Let me be! she cried in her sleep. Let me be!

But she would not sleep in peace.

---

Hikari bolted upright, dashed past Rifkah, and ran into the computer room. She started typing furiously on the nearest free computer, ignoring the looks from the other startled inhabitants of the computer room.

Hikari had a gift for languages. Perhaps it wasn't so much a gift as an understanding of people's minds, but it never took her long to become proficient in any language, even a langauge like Hebrew, so different from anything she'd ever studied before. Japanese was her native language, of course, but she hadn't even thought of using it for ten years...but grammar rules, instructions from her teachers, it all rushed back as she accessed the memories.

She sent the e-mail and instantly collapsed, unaware of anything around her but her need to have her e-mail be received, and fast...

---

Even though I get the feeling that someone
Is calling me, I keep walking
I'll chase the invisible thing anywhere
I still don't know my destination.
Yasashii Ame

---

During a lull in his workday, Iori logged online and started checking his e-mail.

"Junk...junk...something from Daisuke...junk...junk...hey, that's important...mailing list stuff...huh, what's this?" Iori frowned, his green eyes narrowing. "A letter from someone in...Israel?"

He opened the e-mail. After reading the first line, his mouth dropped open. "What...what game is she playing?" he murmured, as he read the letter to himself.

Dear Iori-kun,

Please do not tell anyone I am still alive, especially not Takeru or my brother. To the world, I am dead, and I prefer to keep it that way.

There is a need for me to come back to Tokyo, and I am never one to disregard the twists of fate. You are the most reliable person I have never known, and I know I can trust you to do as I ask you.

Please meet me in the Tokyo International Airport on Friday, May 5th, at Gate 5-A at 11:05 AM. I will be there and all will be explained.

Sincerely,
Yagami Hikari

"What...?" he asked helplessly, before checking his calendar. The date was tomorrow. And...of course, his schedule was free.

He'd be there, he knew. And he'd keep her trust. That was who he was.

If it's real...maybe, just maybe, I can help Takeru to heal.

---

He was at the airport a half-hour before the plane was scheduled to land. His eyes were intent on the gate that she would come out of. Other people were surprised by the young man's intensity. Maybe he was waiting for a lover, they thought, someone close in his heart. They were right...and they were wrong.

Iori's heart was a cold place, because he'd rarely had any reason to be warm. He cherished his friends and family, but he was utterly ruthless when he had to be, cold and calculating. He didn't expect any good from meeting Hikari again.

She abandoned us. She abandoned Takeru. She doesn't know what we went through, mourning her, searching for her, searching half the damned world...why does she want to contact us now, when all of us, even Taichi, have put her behind?

Takeru had always been sure Hikari had a reason for what she had done, but he'd sunk into the deepest depression when she had left...Takeru who was suffering from the dreams of her, the soulbinding they'd undergone as children still keeping him tied to her.

Iori wasn't jealous, wasn't really jealous of the bond they shared, of how Hikari always, always came first in Takeru's mind, how she had a part of Takeru's heart that Iori could never hope to reach...he wasn't jealous. He was curious. Curiosity always came first, sometimes even usurping manners.

Sometimes.

He was so busy going over his own thoughts, he didn't notice the girl -- woman -- standing quietly in front of him.

She was a few inches taller than his own lanky height, slim and compact. Her skin was very tanned, her hands rough. A laborer, someone who worked with her hands in the outside. Her clothing was ambiguous as to its point of origin, a worn t-shirt, an open flannel shirt, a pair of jeans. Her hair was a soft brown, pulled back from her face in a loose ponytail. Her eyes were huge, a luminous amber brown.

"Hikari-san," Iori stated.

"Iori." Her voice was subtly changed, her Japanese accented.

"Why are you here?"

She pushed a stray lock of hair back from her face. "It's not appropriate for a public conversation. Let's find someplace to eat."

"Let's talk while we eat," Iori said, watching her face intently.

"Yes." She smiled, but Iori's heart remained cold.

---

"So?" Iori asked a half-hour later as they sat in a private booth in the airport.

"Yes?" Hikari asked, looking up from her tempura.

Iori made a slicing motion with his hands. "Hikari-san. Where have you been for the last twelve years?"

Hikari sighed and wiped her mouth delicately with a napkin. "Israel," she said, meeting Iori's steady gaze.

"Clever of you," admitted Iori. "I've never heard much about the place."

"It's a small, war-torn country in the Middle East," Hikari said, her eyes growing distant. "Its capital, Jerusalem, is the focal point of three major world religions -- Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. It manages to be a rather modern country despite its ancient roots."

"All countries have ancient roots," Iori noted.

Hikari stirred her tea meditatively. "Some people are more constrained by those roots than they'd like to admit."

A faint flush appeared on Iori's cheeks, but he managed to maintain an even tone. "Hikari-san, what did you do in Israel?"

"I lived on a kibbutz, a communal living center. Changed my name to Ora -- it means 'light,' if you're interested." She took a sip of tea. "Ignored the outside life. Prayed."

"Ignored your family and friends who were worried about you?"

Now it was Hikari's turn to flush in anger. "I had my reasons."

"Too bad you neglected to inform us of them."

"How's Takeru, Iori?" Hikari said, changing tactics.

"Depressed because of his dreams," Iori said bitterly.

Interest and horror flashed across her otherwise perfectly controlled face. "Dreams?"

"Dreams," Iori nodded. "Dreams of you. Dreams of your life. He dreams what you see, he feels what you feel."

Hikari looked shaken. Good, thought Iori cruelly. "Are they...bad dreams?" she asked timidly.

"He dreams of what's in your heart," Iori said coldly. "Are you a bad person, Hikari-san?"

She stared off into space for a few moments. When she 'returned,' her speech was slow. "I wanted to protect you all."

He glared. "From what, Hikari-san? What game are you playing that we don't know about?"

"Game? No game." She smiled again, but there was no mirth in it. "Life."

"What...what are you talking about?"

Instead of answering his question, she gazed out the window. "Our birth is but a death and a forgetting/the soul that rises with us, our life's star/hath had elsewhere its setting/and cometh from afar," she quoted, her voice distant.

Iori's brow wrinkled. "What's that?"

"Wordsworth. Can't remember the title of the poem."

"Who are you, Hikari-san?" Iori asked in frustration.

"I came back to find the answer to that very question." She stared at Iori. "Do you know what it's like to have a destiny, a true destiny, one that sucks you in and tears you apart before spitting you out?"

"Destiny..." Iori repeated.

"I feel the pull of my destiny all the time," Hikari told him. "It wants me. It wants to use me. It doesn't care that I have dreams and wishes of my own."

"What does it want you to do?"

"I...don't know." Hikari stared down at her plate.

Silence.

"What are your dreams and wishes?" Iori asked finally. He was curious. Curiosity excuses so much.

Hikari looked up. A small, genuine, bitter-sweet smile was on her face. Iori saw the tears in her eyes and asked no more.

"I want..." she said finally. "I want to know that I've done the right thing." She stirred her tea again. "There's been so much that I could have done in my life, so many problems I could have solved. I ran away for too long, and I'd like to know...I'd like to know what the point is."

"Hikari-san..."

"Iori, I have to meet my niece."

Iori's jaw dropped. "How...how did you know you had a niece?"

"It's the only reasonable answer for how my dreams have been going away..."

"Dreams?"

"Dreams of another world, a world that needs me. A world that I...that I must go to. That's not important, though. I must see my niece." Hikari fixed her eyes on Iori. "What's she like?"

"Your niece?"

"Yes."

"She's...a kind, sweet, girl." Iori thought for a moment. "She's a bit withdrawn, but bright and nice..."

"What's her name?" Hikari pressed.

"Yagami Hikaru."

Hikari was silent for a while. "And how is your Takeru?"

"Besides the dreams, he's...ehh? My Takeru?" Iori blushed.

Hikari gave him a wistful smile. "I knew that you two would support each other, right?"

"He still loves you." It came out as an accusation, not the cool fact Iori had intended it to be.

Hikari nodded, a quick, sharp, gesture. "And I him."

"Then why...?"

"Because sometimes, things are not meant to be. Sometimes, a butterfly has to flap her wings and fly in the other direction. Sometimes, there is shadow in the light."

Iori shook his head. "I don't understand you, Hikari-san."

"I don't understand myself, Iori."

---

When Takeru got home from work, he found Iori sitting primly on a chair, staring off onto nothingness.

"Iori? You all right?" Takeru asked, his eyebrows raised in alarm. Iori almost never got home before him.

"Eh? Takeru?" Iori jumped in surprise, then regained control over his features and body.

"You okay?" Takeru repeated.

"Yes," Iori said firmly.

"Good," said Takeru. He took off his shoes and sprawled out on another chair. "Aiya, what a day. I couldn't concentrate at all, I kept getting this feeling at the back of my mind...like someone was scratching inside my skull, trying to get my attention."

"Oh?" asked Iori guardedly.

"Yeah." He shrugged. "It couldn't have been Hikari, I'm not that delusional."

"Delusional?"

"Well...I only see her in my dreams, now. And it could really be my subconscious mixing up images, or whatever...maybe I'm getting confused in my old age," he grinned.

Iori stood up suddenly, walked deliberately over to where Takeru sat, and kissed him.

"Well," said Takeru after Iori let him up. "I guess my senility can wait a while. What was that for?"

"What do you mean, what was that for?"

"Why did you just kiss me?"

"Well, you know, I love you."

"I'm aware of that."

"And I'll always love you."

"Yeah, I hope so."

"And I wanted to promise you that I'll never abandon you, no matter what."

"That's good."

"So I kissed you."

"I didn't mind."

"I'm glad."

Silence.

"Mind doing it again?"

---

Some hours later, Iori, taking a deep breath, laid the grounds for the first part of Hikari's plan.

"Takeru, would you like to see a show with Taichi-san and Sora-san tomorrow night?"

"Tomorrow?" Takeru blinked. "Without you?"

"Without me. Someone has to baby-sit Hikaru, right?"

"They could get someone else..."

"No!" Iori said forcefully.

"No?" Takeru, surprised, asked.

Iori forced a smile that Takeru could barely see in the dim light of their bedroom. "I haven't spent any time with Hikaru lately, and yet she counts me as an uncle. Besides, I only have three tickets, and I don't really want to see the show. Please, Takeru, you'd be doing me a favor by taking out Taichi-san and Sora-san."

Takeru's blue eyes were shadowed. "I thought you just promised you wouldn't leave me." His hand pulled at the threads of the covers.

Iori placed his hand over his lover's. "Takeru." His voice was warm. "I know you feel lonely right now, but you aren't alone. Not you. I'm always going to be here for you."

Takeru embraced the other man then, and no words were said for a while longer. Iori was glad, because the embrace hid his face from Takeru's, hid the tears in his green eyes.

---

Saturday evening, a young woman stood outside an apartment building.

She liked standing outside. The wind carressed her face like a gentle lover. She thought so, anyway; as she'd never had a lover, her knowledge in that area was purely academic.

Her hooded, oversized sweatshirt covered most of her face, although wispy brown strands fell out and framed her large brown eyes. She spent her time being inconspicious and invisible to the world. No one paid her any mind. She didn't want anyone to pay her any mind.

She let the wind embrace her, leaving her cold and clean. Pure, in a way. In a cold way.

The doors to the apartment building swing open. Two men and a woman walked out, laughing and chattering.

The brown-haired woman's senses heightened. This was the group she had been waiting for.

The woman's face had the luminous quality one often saw in expecting mothers and a sweetness that one only saw in the truly kind. The man who had his arm linked in hers had wild brown hair and painfully familiar features.

The other man had blonde hair and blue eyes, and he was the most familiar one of all. The woman was a friend, and the first man a brother, but this blonde hero...he was a soulmate.

She couldn't help herself, she stared at him, devouring the sight of him. He had changed, he had changed, he'd promised...

But they were different, now...

As he passed by her, she couldn't help herself; she reached out and grabbed his coat. He stumbled.

"I'm sorry, are you all right?" she said, breaking her self-imposed vow of silence.

"I...I'm all right," he said, his eyes taking in her appearance. She could see the questions mounting in his eyes.

"I'm sorry," she repeated helplessly, and turned away, into the building. To where he awaited, and she.

Above her, the half-moon shown, balancing perfectly between the light and the darkness.

---

Hikaru sat in one chair, her knees drawn to her chest, her arms encircling her legs, blankets covering most of her body.

Iori sat in the chair facing her, simulating ease.

The clock ticked.

"Uncle Iori," said Hikaru finally, "what's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong, Hikaru-chan."

Hikaru shook her head, making her light brown bangs dance as they fell across her forehead. "If nothing was wrong, then you wouldn't be so worried."

Strange, thought Iori, how she doesn't look like Taichi or Sora, but like Hikari did in the pictures of her when she was that age. The same hair, the same innocent eyes... they weren't identical, but they could have passed for sisters. And Hikaru had the same eerie perception that had characterized much of Hikari's life.

"Hikaru-chan," he said finally, "have you ever heard anything about your aunt?"

"My aunt?" Hikaru asked, puzzled.

"Your father's sister." Don't tell me Taichi and Sora never told her...Hikaru was named for her, for goodness's sake. "Hikari."

Hikaru's smile shone. "Oh! Hikari-san, I know about her. Touchan said that she was his sister and very precious to him, but she went away a long time ago. Kaachan said that she might come back some day, but they don't talk about her very often."

"Why do you think that is?" Iori pried.

Hikaru shrugged. "Touchan looked very sad when he was talking about Hikari-san. I think she's painful for him to talk about."

"Well, Hikaru-chan..."

There was a single, soft knock on the door. Iori knew who was there.

"She's here now."

---

Takeru couldn't concentrate on the play. It was a comedy, and Taichi and Sora, beside him, were obviously enjoying it, but he just couldn't concentrate. Adrenaline was flooding his system, and the mental itch was back, scratching at him, telling him 'no time, no time, no time...'

"Takeru, are you all right?" Sora asked him at intermission when she found him clutching the armrests of his seat so tightly that sweat was forming.

"I...I'm not sure, Sora-san," Takeru gasped.

"Do you want us to take you home?" Taichi questioned, concerned.

"N-no...I'll take a taxi, I'll be all right." He forced a smile and refrained from wiping the sweat off his forehead. Worried, the Yagamis let him go. Takeru walked patiently out of the theater -- and then broke into a run.

She was close. She was very close. He knew she was close, all of his senses were heightened, and he had to see her, he had to see her again, he loved her damnit, he had to see her, ask her, his best friend for years and she was haunting his dreams and he had to...had to...had to...

He ran, because the cool air dried his sweat and his feverish body and his tears. He ran, and his world honed down to a single thought as it had for so many years...

Hikari...

---

Hikari stood in the doorway of the Yagami apartment. The hood had slipped off her head, leaving her hair to fall wildly around her head. It also left it clear that Hikari was glowing.

Her very skin pulsed with a light that was clearly unnatural, giving her a look that was halfway between angelic and demonic. It frightened the normally stoic Iori, and made Hikaru pull one of the blankets over her head.

"It's all right," Hikari said, but her voice was not her own, it was more musical, a voice that belonged to the pattern of the stars and the strands of the tapestry of the world, not a human being. "I'm...I'm Yagami Hikari. Don't be afraid, little one."

Hikaru pulled the blanket away from her face. "Yagami Hikaru. What are you?"

Hikari swallowed and walked past Iori to her niece. "I'm your aunt."

"My aunt went away," said Hikaru. "A long time ago. Kaachan said you'd come back, did you come back to see me?"

"Yes," said Hikari, and smiled. Hikaru smiled too, and extracted one of her hands from the blankets for Hikari to hold. Hikari solemnly grasped the child's hand.

Standing at a distance, Iori thought he could see the resemblence between the two of them even more clearly. It was just their physical similarities that made them look so much like each other. It was that both of them had the same pulsing glow shining from their skin, and the same aura of sacred light surrounding them.

"So why did you leave?" Hikaru asked, apparently unaware of the miracles happening around her.

Hikari sighed. "Little one, have you ever been scared?"

"Yes," Hikaru nodded. "But I got over my fear because I didn't want to be weak."

"But what if the scary things keep following you?" Hikari pressed.

"Then face them down. That's the only way to become strong."

"What..." Hikari started, then stopped. "I see Oniichan has been talking with you," she smiled wistfully. "He's strong, but I'm not."

"Why do you think you are not strong?" Hikaru asked, wrinkling her nose.

"Because..." Hikari's voice shrank to a whisper. "Because whenever I tried to face down my scary things, they would grow stronger until they enveloped me in themselves."

"Ehh?"

Hikari shook her head. "Never mind, little one. Tell me, do you have scary dreams?"

Hikaru stiffened. "Yes."

"Are they of monsters, of creatures of a different world? Those that want to control you, to use you, and..." Hikari got her answer by how Hikaru was retreating, her face closing down.

"Yes." Hikaru's voice was a bare whisper.

"So you see why I'm afraid, why I don't want to face it, right?"

"You can face them down?" Hikaru asked, her eyes widening.

"Yeah, but..."

"If you're afraid, I will!" Hikaru said, her face determined. "I don't want the dreams to hurt me anymore."

"You can't!" Hikari said, aghast. "It's not your problem to solve, and I won't let you get hurt."

"Whose problem is it, then, if they're my dreams?"

"They want me, little one," Hikari whispered. "They've wanted me for a long time, and I have to stop them."

"You?"

"Me." Hikari smiled, but there was pain behind her expression. "Little one, I wanted to speak to you, to make sure you were all right. And..if you're okay, then...then...Just know that if I never see you again, I love you and your mother and father...and I wish I could talk to them again, but..."

"You're leaving me?" Hikaru asked as her eyes filled with tears.

"I have to leave, little one. I have to face down my fears." Hikari let go of the younger girl's hand and embraced her, tears silently flooding down both their cheeks.

When they broke apart, Hikari turned to Iori. "Let Takeru know that I love him." There was very little else to be said.

Iori nodded. "I'll tell him."

Hikari looked thoughtful. "You would. You would never think of doing otherwise. And that's why Takeru loves you so much more than he could ever love anyone else -- even me."

Iori flushed but said nothing.

"Sayonara." Hikari disappeared suddenly, without further notice. She left Iori and Hikaru in the room behind her. They both blinked furiously, adjusting their eyes -- and their lives -- to a room without light. Being without light, of course, is the same as darkness.

---

Passing wind, silver wings, wishes that can't be erased
Now. Definitely a future I saw with my own eyes
Flowing clouds, through the space between my fingers, time that will not return
Now. I am definitely living for my own sake.
Eagle Vision, RUN

---

Takeru ran up the stairs, hoping and praying with every step he took that he wasn't too late. The presence in his mind was buzzing louder and louder, and he could sense her fear, her worry, her indecision.

I have to get to her. I have to get to her!

Outside the apartment, one hand on the doorknob, what the hell was he doing, breaking and entering, but he had to see Hikari, he had to, he had...

He pushed the door open.

She was gone.

All he saw was Hikaru, wrapped in blankets, with tears streaming down her face, and Iori blinking owlishly, his face a mask.

"Where did she go?" he demanded.

"She just left," bit off Iori.

"Where'd she go?"

"I don't know."

"Don't you care?"

Iori opened his mouth, then shut it. The two men glared at each other for an indetermineable length of time.

"Stop it!" To Takeru's surprise, it was Hikaru who broke the silence.

"She left me, and it's all my fault, I said the wrong thing, she left, I could have made her stay..." Hikaru started to cry again, weeping not only for her own emotions but to mourn.

"It's not your fault, Hikaru-chan," said Takeru immediately. "It's mine."

"But if only I'd...if only I'd..." Hikaru started.

Takeru grasped Hikaru's hand. "We can't say, if only, if only, Hikaru-chan." He sighed. "Sometimes things happen and we can't explain them, sometimes things happen and..." He looked to Iori for help.

"Sometimes -- no, all the time," Iori said quietly, "things happen for a reason. It's what we call destiny. And destiny isn't always kind, Hikaru-chan, and it's not always happy, but it's because we can't see everything that happens. So dry your tears, Hikaru-chan." His gaze shifted from Hikaru to Takeru. "Don't cry. Hikari-san is still here. In our hearts. And I know neither of you will ever let her go."

And so it was that Light returned to the world, even when it had been taken away.

---

The portal to the other world had closed down a long time ago, but Hikari had never needed a portal. The other world was a part of her. The shadow of her light.

And there was light...

Hikari sent herself through, closing her eyes on the way.

They were there. And they were waiting. They had been for an eternity.

Be our Queen. Be our Goddess. Be our Ruler. Use the Power, bend us to Your Will. We want You, we need You. Come to us, and we will make You great.

"Yes," Hikari said in a voiceless whisper. "Yes, I will."

And she was.

And she was the light, and she saw the shadow...and she embraced the shadow.

The light had always been divided from the darkness. There had always been that barrier. It had happened in every world, a line to keep the good good and the evil evil. Hikari collapsed it.

And now, the good were no longer pure and innocent, kept away from the rest, and the evil were no longer darkness. Good and evil, in one single world, had become nothing more than a phrase -- because the light and the shadow, instead of being two, were one.

And it was Good.

---

In a different world, Yagami Hikaru was no longer troubled by dreams of another world calling her. Takaishi Takeru's heart healed. And in the night sky, a new star appeared in the middle of the darkness, sending its healing, holy light over the world.

And it was evening, and it was morning, another day.