STARS FALL DOWN
For my sis, who is waiting for What I Really Want even if I told her that a future update this soon is improbable.
Enveloped in the cold crisp evening breeze, eighteen-year-old Hiiragizawa Eriol leaned down on the railing of his mansion's balcony, letting the gentle gust play with his hair. This place was his solace whenever he seeks comfort and answers, and although more often than not, he doesn't get both at the same time, he would still return to this place. An act driven by a pigeon's homing instinct.
Everywhere else in the compound was dark and still—even the kitchen, Akizuki Nakuru's favorite playground, and the library (which, on the other hand, was Spinel's personal kingdom) were quiet.
He silently checked his watch. Almost midnight. He barely noticed that some three hours had passed already since he walked into this place that night to reflect on his day. This was what Clow Reed would have done anyway, calm himself and think rationally of the highlights and low points of his daily activities, take note of what were important to bear in mind the next day, and bury in his unfathomable stock of wisdom those that should be remembered beyond the day after tomorrow, and the future that would follow.
Only those three hours weren't spent on the usual philosophical thoughts his former identity enjoyed; they were all monopolized by the image of a young woman that could might have been very well a gift of mocking from something he thought he held much power on.
Fate. Fate, who was now snickering at him for sure, because for all his power over the clow cards and his authority in the field of sorcery, he still fell prey in the hands of providence.
A sharp exhale released itself from his throat. Returning to Tomoeda was a very big mistake from the start. Had he not long knew the way his life would be? A decade of acceptable marriage with Mizuki Kaho, a lifetime of black and white ivory keys music, and the eventual birth of a son who would continue his duty as grand mage of the cards, overseer of the card master or card mistress.
Everything had been planned, or so his vision said. But he stepped back and ran away from it.
Because there was one part of the vision he did not like—that the woman he would spend his life with would pass away earlier than he would.
Dear Kaho didn't know about the prophecy, but somehow, she understood when he told her one fateful night that he would like to return to Tomoeda and settle there for a while. Alone.
"Till we meet again," he remembered her saying softly as her hand clasped his in a sad farewell. Their special bond may have been wrong in the eyes of some, but then, her companionship was one of the things he would cherish in memory for a very long time.
When he stepped once more on the soil of Japan after seven years of being away, he had intended to tell no one of his return—he knew that his old acquaintances would want to know why he suddenly came back, and he was not looking forward to having to explain himself.
For almost a month all throughout the summer, he was able to effectively conceal his presence, but then, Fate decided to pull a fast one on him.
He met her.
He was absorbed into the smooth, tranquil flow of his music, but his keen senses detected another presence from outside the room. Strangely, it felt nothing disturbing; in fact, it felt like the person was trying his best to not intrude.
He abruptly got up, picked up his music sheet, and headed for the door quietly. Intrusive or not, the knowledge of another person in the same breathing as space as him still annoys him. Desolation had already been his way of life, and anything outside that was something to avoid.
"A-Anou…gomen nasai…" A young woman emerged shyly from the double doors of the music room, startling him. It was not the presence, but the person. Seven years had passed, yet the striking familiarity of the youthful raven loveliness with flushed cheeks stunned him. There was no mistake about it: the young lady standing before him, head bowed in embarrassment trying to hide her face aflame, was no other than Daidouji Tomoyo.
She looked up, as if almost afraid to meet his acute, scrutinizing gaze. "D-Don't be angry…I…um…" She hugged her own music book tighter to her chest, as if it was something to protect her from him. "…heard your playing from the corridor. I…I found it…magnificent…" She finally looked up, tilting her head shyly as she smiled blushingly. "It was the best performance I've ever heard for quite a long time."
"What are you doing here?" he asked instead, not wanting to let the woman escape with what he felt as her incursion to his private shell. This music room, empty when the university had let out, was his extension of his house's balcony. He had left an invisible barrier around this area to mark this as his territory. After the daylight, he would enjoy his lordship over his nocturnal kingdom, together with music sheets and solitude.
"A-Anou…" Her lilac eyes immediately flew back to the tiled floor, cheeks still in flames. "I-I practice here every afternoon for the singing competition held annually…a-and my practice would begin today…"
"Competition," he echoed. "I see."
"I did not mean to—" She watched in awe as he nonchalantly exited the room. "A-Ah…I-I really am sorry!" She quickly followed him, face troubled. "I-If my presence disturbs you then—"
"Damage done," he said curtly. He quickened his pace.
But the woman was not about to let him get away easily. "H-Hey!" On impulse, her hand reached for the sleeve of his uniform's light blue jacket.
This made both of them stop: him whirling around to face her, and her looking back down on the floor, embarrassed.
They stood still silently for a few more moments before he decided to break it. "Don't worry about it." He intended this as a dismissal; he silently noted to himself that he would change his schedule in visiting the music room. He didn't want another run-in just as this. It seemed like a lifetime ago since he last made contact worth more than a few minutes of his time with another person, and whether he admit it our loud or not, he was growing uneasy already with the situation.
But her eyes lit up, in a way that a child's own would when she learns that she would go to the circus. Immediately, she held her hand out to him. "Ne, I'm Daidouji Tomoyo. You are…?"
He mechanically took her hand and bowed down to plant a small kiss on the back of her palm. "Charmed to meet you." Again.
However, something went off the mark. If it was the blushy reaction of the woman, or his own body's traitorous reaction when he realized he liked the silky-softness of her skin, he didn't bother to know. He abruptly let go of her hand and bowed in farewell.
"M-Matte kudasai!" she cried upon recovering from her shock. "M-Mister…will you tell me your name?"
He gave her a sideway glance. "No."
She refused to be put down easily. "Then will you come back tomorrow and play again?"
The two-letter word of refusal was forming on his lips already when he paused, and then shrugged. And for the life of him, he couldn't understand why he did that.
"Good enough for me." She smiled, eyes softening. "I will wait…tomorrow."
After that smile that drove his breath away, he was never the same again.
The next day went on smoothly—he answered all his paper exams correctly and properly represented his ideas in the discussions. All in all, it was another ordinary day for him.
But within him, a small eddy of anticipation whirls. Will she be there as she said, waiting for him?
No matter how hard he tried to divert his attention towards his problem-solving in advanced calculus, or solving the physics problem sets that the teacher would give only after the next sem, he couldn't deny that the wait was turning him edgy.
His eyes flickered momentarily at the clock. Five thirty-five pm. This was his schedule to head for the music room.
He turned his attention back at the laws and formulae before him, but his mind's presence was already drifting elsewhere…
Half a quarter before six, he was already in the corridor leading to the Music room. The janitor he passed by the drinking fountain looked at him strangely, as if wondering why he was still in this wing when everyone else, including the faculty, had vacated the place already. In turn, he smiled reassuringly. "I won't be long. I'm just going to get something I forgot in one of the rooms."
"Curfew at seven pm," shrugged the man before taking his mop and heading for the next floor of the building. He shrugged back and headed for the Music room.
When he pushed open the double doors, he nearly did a double take.
Daidouji Tomoyo was seated primly on the piano bench, looking outside the window pensively. It took her some seconds to turn his way, and in those seconds he felt something cold touch his heart.
She waited for him.
His fingers tapped the last note of the song, and then silence returned in the room. He slowly looked behind his shoulders and gazed at Tomoyo, who was seated behind him, eyes shut . Then she slowly opened her eyes, as if the magic of his melody had just released her from its hold.
"It was…" Though groping for proper words, her face clearly showed how much she enjoyed his playing; and that for him, was the highest compliment he ever received.
"Thank you." A small smile formed on his handsome face.
She looked at him intently for some more minutes, and then looked down. "I have asked around for your name…"
His smile vanished.
"They told me one name, but I didn't want to believe them until I hear it straight from you." She looked at him earnestly. "May I know your name?"
He got up brusquely. "It's already six thirty. You and I both need to go home and get some rest."
He sighed and slowly turned around to meet her gaze. "Why do you want to know?"
"So I can call you by your name," she explained quietly. "I call all my friends by their names."
A flash of anger crossed his face. "I do not remember that we had agreed to be friends."
"You don't?" She smiled sadly. "You should refresh your memory then. Back in our elementary days, you allowed me to call you by your first name before you and Mizuki-sensei left."
He dug his hands into his pocket. "So you have a pretty good recall of those days. But really, Daidouji-san, why don't you tell me who do you think I am?"
She met his gaze, and for a moment, did not say anything. He felt something within him crumble, and he wished to the heavens that it wasn't his ice-cold defenses. He needed it badly now, especially when the woman's eyes shook.
"Well?" he prompted, suddenly all-too-aware that his voice had turned husky.
"You are a lost man desperately needing to be saved." She sighed audibly. "Am I right, Hiiragizawa-kun?"
He felt as if he took a heavy blow in his heart. How could have she known how he felt just in a moment's gaze? He recovered his composure and smirked. "And you feel you are adequate enough to be my redeemer?" He looked at her challengingly. "Is that why you're offering your hand in friendship?"
She didn't seem to mind the haughty expression on his face. In fact, it made her laugh quietly.
The echoes of her amusement fascinated and vexed him at the same time. He did not like being laughed at, but the laughter was as ire-alleviating as the serenity of the seas and gentleness of the spring breeze.
His look of heavy annoyance shifted to bewilderment. "May I know what is so funny, Daidouji-san?"
She gracefully shook her head. "I prefer to keep the reason a secret."
"And why so?" he asked, but not as furious as he wanted to project. In fact, he felt like he was starting a normal conversation between them.
"That too, is a secret."
Her eyes twinkled. "I'm afraid I can't tell you that too."
The corner of his mouth twitched. "So basically…"
She laughed again, livelier this time. He could only watch in silent awe, amazed by how much more striking the woman could be when the aura of lightness radiates around her.
"I think I deserve that," he said after a while, somewhat rueful. Uneasiness had already disappeared from the moment he heard her burst of laughter. His doubts on his social skills after his self-imposed exile melted readily with the sunburst that was Daidouji Tomoyo.
"Ne, Hiiragizawa-kun, I am never the one to give up." Determination was evident on her face. "I will not stop until the day you give me your name willingly."
He looked surprised, and then amused. "Really?"
She nodded vehemently.
For a fleeting second, he considered stopping this now before a string of events unforseen by his self-prophecies happen. In the first place, his return to Tomoeda was not part of his plan. Meeting Daidouji Tomoyo was another deviation from the fixed structure of his future.
He had the sole ability above mankind to hold concretely the key to the future, and if he lets himself continue with this madness, he too would lose it.
A decision formed within him. "Very well." With that, he turned his back on her and walked away, knowing that this was just the beginning of a chain of mistakes Clow Reed wouldn't have committed.
He knew, but he turned away.
He rested his chin on the crook of his arms, his elbows resting on the metal railing. Why ever did I let her get close to me?
How many times had he asked himself that question? It was more than ten times, that was for sure. But each time, he would offer himself a consoling alibi: that he was just bidding his time, waiting for the right moment to tell her that they had to part ways. He didn't want to hurt her; she was a very dear friend.
He wasn't that slow not to catch on to the fact that Daidouji Tomoyo was starting to like him more than as a pianist or a companion.
Not to say that these feelings would go unreciprocated—he may not grasp the perfect knowledge on love as he could in terms of sorcery, but he could understand that someone like Daidouji Tomoyo was someone he respected with all his soul.
And now, someone he wanted to keep.
But that, he could not allow.
"The person I would choose to live the rest of my life with will die before I do." He shook his head, laughing in sadness. "I want to be alone, not because I was left, but because I left them. That's how it has always been."
Daidouji Tomoyo had already carved her place in his life, perhaps bigger than he would admit. He renewed his vitality in her companionship, and she gave him back his smile he thought he had lost forever.
How then could I not love her so?
And if she disappears…and he couldn't do anything even if he holds the highest power among all sorcerers…
From a distance, a star streaked down the night sky, at the same time that Hiiragizawa Eriol made a decision.
It wouldn't be easy, but it would spare themselves the pain.
"Ne, Hiiragizawa-kun, this is…?" Tomoyo looked around the magnificent gold and cream edifice of the church as Eriol, holding two candles, went to the candle stand and prayed silently.
A moment later, he felt her join him. He opened one eye and glanced at her.
Her eyes were shut in solemn prayer, and for a second, he thought he was gazing at a heavenly creature. The serenity of her face, the sweet innocence…
His chest tightened. And what had he got to offer her? An identity living in the shadows of a dead person?
He turned his attention back towards the candle stand.
This is for me, to give me strength to walk away from the arms that told me how cold the solitude's arms could be compared to a loving woman's embrace.
He placed the other candle beside it.
And this is for a wonderful miracle who goes by the name of Daidouji Tomoyo. When I return to the darkness, I would die happily, knowing that I had seen beautiful light once upon my time.
"Hiiragizawa-kun?" She peered over his shoulders, her eyes on the two candles. "Hmm, you had been staring at those two candles for quite some time already." In the darkness of the church that late afternoon, the two flames glowed in pensive mourning, as if knowing what was in the heart of the man that gave life to them.
She placed her hands at the back, still not knowing what was on the poker-faced Londoner. "T-This isn't a good luck candle for my singing competition tomorrow, ne, Hiiragizawa-kun?" Her mouth slightly dropped open when she felt the tension rising within him. "H-Hiiragizawa-kun?"
"H-Hai?" She stiffened.
He turned to her, his face relaxed into a warm, heart-melting smile. "I was just thinking…if you know how much you made me happy…"
"Oh…" Her eyes widened, her cheeks flushed.
"Domo arigatou gozaimasu, Daidouji-san." And for the first time since they met each other in the music room some months ago, it was he who held out his hand and took hers that was limply on her sides. He intertwined his fingers with her and clasped them lovingly with his.
"D-Dou itashimashite." She looked like she was still dazed by what he did, but she managed to smile back happily.
They were walking home together that night from their church visit, still hand-in-hand when suddenly, she stopped.
"What is it, Daidouji-san?" he asked gently.
She looked up, face pensive. "Will you be there in my competition tomorrow? It's in the afternoon, almost the same time as my practice."
He paused. He would be leaving sometime noon tomorrow, and it was too late to book another flight for the same day.
"Your face says you can't make it," she whispered softly, prompting something in his chest to tighten. "And you're probably thinking of something to break it easily to me. Sometimes, you are simply too kind, Hiiragizawa-kun."
"I-Iie," he murmured. "I-I'm going to make it—" The rest of his words were hushed when she tiptoed and planted her fingertip on his lips.
She beamed cheerfully. "No, Hiiragizawa-kun, before you blemish our friendship with pathetic attempts to lie to me, I will tell you that you are not obligated to come anymore. Anyway, about the contest tomorrow…don't worry about it. I'll win it for you." She crossed her heart. "You can come anytime, since you know where to find me. I will wait for you."
"Daidouji-san…" He slowly understood that she knew he was going to say goodbye.
"Anytime, Hiiragizawa-kun. Anytime." She stepped back, her eyes speaking volumes of loneliness, but there was no hurt.
"I will wait for you." It was spoken simply, and forever.
He watched her walk away, his mind a turmoil of realizations and answers, and strangely, they comforted him. He didn't really need silence, or his balcony, or even his piano to find comfort and answers.
He only needed to seek his heart's solace.
He held her hand tightly as he bent down to arrange her blanket that was slowly slipping down her lap. The skies overhead were slowly yielding to the velvet darkness, but for him and his wife, it was only the start of the day.
His beloved looked up at him and smiled. "Do you remember what I said before? That I will not stop until you give me your name?"
He nodded, eyes crinkling with the memory.
Eighty-nine years old Hiiragizawa Tomoyo laughed with the same grace of the eighteen-year-old stammering woman that he fell madly in love with. "I told you, I keep my promises."
"I know," he whispered with much gratefulness. Sixty four years after their marriage, he knew that he had to thank his beloved for staying by his side and making him realize that though the past counts and the future is important, the present is what people should think about the most. From the word itself, it's a gift that makes unalterable past and unconceivable future kinder, even without having to utilize Clow Reed's powers of visions.
"Hiiragizawa Eriol?" she whispered.
She looked up at him, eyes shining. "Do you know how happy you make this woman talking right now?"
He laughed, and then clasped her hand tighter. "I hope it's as much as you do to me."
She smiled lovingly at him once more, and then turned her gaze at the night sky. "Do you love me?"
"Beyond words," he replied, hugging her through the wheelchair. "Beyond belief. Beyond everything tangible."
"Are you now…ready to let me go?" she asked cautiously.
He froze, dread forming within him. This same fear that enslaved him for the first year of their marriage but gradually melted when they had children, who had children of their own, and were now all growing beautifully in their own ways.
But when he saw the serenity in her lilac eyes, he found himself nodding slowly. For her eyes said that never would he be alone again.
His seclusion ended when she asked for his name.
His loneliness ceased when he gave it to her, in the eyes of God and their loved ones.
For the woman who gave him so much when he had only little to offer, he could think of nothing he would not want to give up.
Even if it had to be her, because he knew wherever she was going, the place would make her very happy.
His hold on her hand loosened, as if silently giving his affirmation. Peace entered his soul when he saw his wife's face light up, and then lie back on his broad shoulders, eyes on the night sky.
For a moment, there was only silence that spoke for them: of their love, faith, and trust on each other that even time did not wane.
Then she spoke.
"I will wait for you."
As an avowal from the skies, a star fell down.
He smiled and hugged her tighter, holding back his tears when life slowly left her body.
He had nothing to fear.
His wife keeps his promises. Always.
This has got to be the strangest ET fic I did hehe. It was sad and happy at the same time, and Tomoyo here is more…Tomoyo-ish. (Effect of watching too many Hyuuga Hinata thingies).
Before I hit the submit button in , I want to extend my hugs to the following people. They may have forgotten me already, but ah, I'm taking my chance XD
Kyte-chan, wicherwill, trc-chan, kasumi-chan, kate-chan, june6, shima and tempis-chan (one of my most hyper, conversation-like talking reviewers hehe), suppi-chan, Autumn Willow, and …(racks her mind for the names) Ahahaha, I have one name in my mind…it's on the tip of my tongue and…geez, never mind.XD