By Ryuuza Kochou
Disclaimer: X is owned by the lovely and talented CLAMP, by extension Asuka magazine, and other general studios and companies. If I had this much talent, I'd be publishing as we speak. I'll make do with no money.
Main pairing mentioned is Sorata/Arashi, but not very strongly.
There were screams and cries such as the Armageddon wouldn't inspire.
Arashi slumped as much as she would allow herself.
Arashi had never had a high opinion of herself – quite the opposite. Nevertheless, she felt that she was well on her way to earning a status that must be pretty near sainthood by now; given the patience and restraint she was showing in the face of trials. That is, if she were a Christian.
Sorata whooped loudly enough for all of Tokyo to hear, and grinned unrepentantly in the face of her embarrassed glare.
How had she let him talk her into this? She hated noise, people, mess and his company, most of the time. This place was the epitome of all of the above, and therefore hell for the reserved shrine maiden.
The stadium shook under the cheers of the crowd, temporarily seeming to white out every other noise. Arashi nearly groaned.
'Come on, nee-chan,' Sorata had whined beguilingly at her. 'It'll be fun. And it is for Kamui.'
Arashi snorted at that. Kamui has looked forward to this about as much as she had. This was all for Sorata, from start to finish.
They were at a baseball game.
It was the semi-finals, or some other vital game that Arashi neither knew nor cared about. What it meant was that the stadium was packed – and messier, louder and more claustrophobic than ever.
Normally, the only reason Arashi would come here was if a fight against a Dragon of Earth had lead her here. She rather shamefully admitted to herself that she'd caved to Sorata's incessant harping and acquiesced to the torture she now found herself in. Kamui had been lagging a lot lately, and as much as she hated to agree with Sorata, the boy did need some sort of leisure moment.
"Oy, homerun!" Sorata yelled, somehow contriving to be louder than everyone else combined. "Mark it down, Nee-chan!"
Arashi gritted her teeth, but obediently made a mark on the mini score board she held in her lap with a pencil. She had somehow been relegated the task of scoring. She had protested at first, citing quite fairly that she knew nothing about the game. Sorata had looked at her open mouthed, and exclaimed about how anyone could live in Japan and not at least know the basics. Even Kamui knew a bit. Unfortunately, the others all had jobs, so she'd been stuck. She'd been tempted just to leave, but the steely maiden never backed down from a challenge, and she genuinely didn't want to ruin anyone's day.
And, as much as she hated encouraging Sorata, the monk might have gotten it right this time. Karen and Yuzuriha were clearly having a ball leading the 'cheering section'; Karen was wearing jeans and a skin tight top, a rather fetching baseball cap perched jauntily on her head, enthusiastically yelling and waving banners with uninhibited oompah. Yuzuriha was a perfect backup for her, bouncing in her seat and waving cute pom poms while her phantom pet Inuki rooted around at her feet, searching for stray snacks. Next to Karen was the ever-suited Aoki, who had been relegated to keep a steady supply of snacks and drinks coming out of his editor's pay. Between the three of them, Kamui had been drawn into talking and chatting – not cheering exuberantly like Yuzuriha, but at least having a spirited debate with Aoki over the subtleties of the game, and clapping along with the rest of them as points were scored. He'd even been cajoled into participating in a Mexican wave, a miracle if ever there was one. It was the first that Arashi had seen that lighter, almost smiling expression on his face in a while, certainly since the Onmyouji Subaru Sumeragi had been called away on urgent business to Kyoto. He was the only missing member.
Seen in the right light, and without any knowledge of the end of the world, he looked almost like a completely regular teenager, and Arashi couldn't help but admire the change.
Arashi sighed, and pragmatically decided to persevere. After all, it did not harm to her and the others were all having fun. Perhaps she even felt a brief, tiny wisp of wistfulness that they could all get into the spirit of the game.
"No way was that a strike!" Sorata screamed, large frame out of his chair, voice cutting across a thousand other cries of outrage. "Somebody get that referee his glasses before they fire his ass!"
Other cries joined his. Arashi, red-faced, sank lower in her seat, mentally cursing and praying for a Dragon of Earth to come and put her out of her misery.
The game was played, and they had all gone to the ice cream parlour on Yuzuriha's insistence. Arashi carefully ate her vanilla sundae while Sorata attacked some chocolate on chocolate monstrosity with gusto. "It wasn't so bad today, was it Nee-chan?" he asked, still buzzed from the excitement of the game.
"I assume that we are done for today," Arashi said frostily.
"Done and done," Sorata replied cheerfully, unconcerned with her stiff demeanor, not that he'd ever been. "And I mean it. I only needed to see one game…hey, yeah, that reminds me."
He licked his fingers, and dug around in his jacket for a moment.
The paper he withdrew was not so much well-loved as worshiped. The edges were ragged, it was ripped along its folds so that some parts were barely hanging on by a thread and it was so crumpled with it looked like a dried up, yellow mint leaf covered in random stains. Arashi was genuinely surprised it didn't just fall apart in his hands.
Nevertheless, Sorata dug out a pen, and with a flourish, crossed something off.
Arashi felt the stirrings of the rather alien sensation of curiosity. She felt the words lining up in her mind, but firmly stopped them. Whatever it was, it was Sorata's business. Even if she could have tolerated him, that still wouldn't have given her the right to pry.
"Its something I started writing when I was a kid," Sorata replied for her. Arashi could have cursed. It was very easy to be fooled by the guileless face and childish enthusiasm that Sorata had. Very few had ever managed to spot his steely mind and his excellent observational skills. Arashi just knew he did it deliberately.
She gave up. "What is it, Sorata-san?"
"This," he flourished the paper like a grand scepter. "Is the work of a lifetime. This is the plan, the itinerary, the star map of my whole existence. This," flashed her a wide smile and handed it over. "Is the List."
"List?" Arashi repeated blankly. She didn't open the folded paper.
"Yeah, well, back on Kouya, y'know how I was told how I would die in this whole end of the world thing, right?" Sorata rested a cheek on his propped fist. Thankfully he didn't bring up why he was going to die, to Arashi's relief. He continued "Well, three year old me got to thinking – lots of people die when their hair's all grey, and they can still regret things. Lots of the monks I knew had little things they regretted or never saw – life in a monastery doesn't open itself up to much lifestyle variety, no matter how vital it is. I'm not the kind of guy that likes regretting anything. I wouldn't even see old age andI had a lot less time to do and see everything I wanted, so I figured I'd better have a clear idea of what I wanted to do before the end. So I," he gestured to the paper. "Started writing them down. Go ahead, take a look."
Arashi shook her head. "Its personal, Sorata-san."
"Only if I want it to be," Sorata shrugged. "Go on, I want you to see."
Arashi never liked admitting to weakness, but she couldn't help her curiosity. Mindful of the ancient paper, she carefully unfolded it.
It looked like a piece torn out from an old notebook. It had clearly been exposed to sun and water damage. The lines were barely visible anymore, and the writing almost illegible, but Arashi could make out a few words and phrases.
At the top was a more childish script – bigger, blockier characters and letters. The handwriting, she saw, clearly matured down the List, until she reached a messy scrawl she recognized.
There were some childish things in there – like 'eat the worlds biggest anman', 'build a fort' and 'learn to play soccer', and there were other, more teen-like desires – 'learn to dance at a nightclub', 'drive a car' and there was the recent 'see the Tokyo baseball finals', newly crossed off. There were a few truly odd things in there – like 'go to America at see the Statue of Liberty' – things he would never get to do. Many of them were crossed off; a few were still waiting to be done.
Arashi suddenly felt inexplicably sad all of a sudden – for all of them. She didn't believe that she was Sorata's Chosen One, of course, so the prophecy itself came into question. Nevertheless, they were in a struggle for the world – of course some of them would die. Arashi looked over at Kamui, who was smiling at Yuzuriha as she made Inuki stand on his hand legs for some ice cream while Karen and Aoki laughed. Maybe none of them would experience old age, or get the chance to repair old regrets. They wouldn't have the time to fulfill their desires or follow their dreams. They were all justswept up in this.
It had to be done, of course. Arashi wouldn't deny her duty for a single moment. And the desires of a few people didn't amount to much against the whole world.
But still – that didn't mean they weren't important.It was stilla terrible thing that they had to sacrifice so much.
Arashi looked back down at the List, and could clearly see the three year old that had had that terrible sacrifice thrust on him so early. Instead of sending him to his knees, at it would do most, Sorata had become determined to live his life with everything he was – into the last moment and down to the last inch. He knew he was going to die young, but he wasn't going to die wishing for more than he had had. Arashi admired him for that, if for nothing else.
He would die with no regrets.
Arashi noticed something else about the List. "Its very…short, Sorata-san." Altogether there might be only two dozen things on it. Not much of a plan for a lifetime.
Sorata shrugged. "I'm an easy going guy, nee-chan. It doesn't take much to make me happy. I never needed much."
"But," Arashi fingered the thoroughly abused page. "Some of these things you'll never do." It was too late to go and see America, or the pyramids of Egypt, or go to university. They were in a war.
Sorata shrugged. "I know. But that doesn't bother me. Almost all of the things on there are just odd things I've thought about doing; I don't really need to do them to feel I've lived a full life. The only one I really had to do was the first one; the rest was all just a bonus."
Arashi looked back at the page – yes, there at the top. The first thing he ever wrote in that three year olds hand – 'find Chosen One'. It had been underlined several times, and then happily scored out.
Arashi could feel herself blushing like schoolgirl, and firmly closed up the page. "I doubt whether you've found her yet, Sorata-san." She said flatly.
"I don't," Sorata replied cheerfully. He reached out and grabbed the hand which had handed back the List. "And I don't have to worry about not having any desires to fulfill nowadays, nee-chan," his eyes looked straight at her.
He dug around at his jacket again. He pulled out a bundle of clean, white pages.
"'cause you're at seven Lists and counting of the things I though of doing with you after I found you."
The whole parlour looked up looked up at the sound of Sorata's frantic yelp of pain as Arashi performed a painful twist with precision. As the others all ribbed Sorata for his latest attempt, Arashi surreptitiously looked at a few items listed on the papers that had fallen from Sorata's hands. 'Go on a date'? 'Get ice cream'? 'Curl up together and watch movies'? Arashi glare could have ignited the whole lot.
Still, as Sorata shook the ache from his hand, and challenged Yuzuriha to an ice cream pig out, Arashi remembered the poignancy of his first List. She sighed, and let her anger dissipate.
After all, it was his wish. She didn't want him to regret this day. That would be terrible, because who knows how long anyone has?
No, she didn't want him to regret.