Well…it's taken me a long time to write this and to be honest it was hard to get it down. A lot of this is very meaningful to me and I will say that a few tears were shed in the making. All I can say is that it's longer than I thought it would be, probably longer than a one shot should be, but I didn't have the heart to split it up.
Anyway, all I can say is that, as the title says, There are no Words. This is for anyone who has ever loved someone they can never have. I hope this helps and shows that, even if they rule your heart forever, contentment is still attainable. Even if they belong to someone else. Enjoy.
I had a dream last night.
It had that hazy feel about it that images from your subconscious do, that half clarity where only certain things stand out, where perception is skewed and where thought floats tangibly through the air, whispered prayers rising on wings of silver, hovering in front of my face, some liquid pressure brushing against my closed eyelids.
And then I was hovering, some bodiless entity watching, unable to move, to look away, but fascinated all the same, my eyeless gaze fixed firmly on what I took to be me. A younger me, fuzzy to sight, my face indistinct. A dream me, an ethereal me, one who only exists in this space and will escape my mind when real eyes open, an image I will be unable to call up while awake only to surface once more when I surrender to darkness.
But it's only dark at first, a velvet blanket that twines around the me I can see. It's smothering, I see pale hands rise to push it back, china doll lips speaking silent words, a plea for the darkness to leave, to back off. A silent soul watches, mute, no hands to reach out to help, to help that person I know is me.
And it complies, the pale hands send it back, a silver light running through my veins and I, we, both of us, breathe a sigh of relief, a momentary respite from the suffocating darkness. But it's a dream, so my interest shifts suddenly, ignoring the light in my hands, no, her hands and I look around, seemingly unconcerned.
And then I'm transposed between the hovering me and the bodily me, a kind of dual existence, like a switch between views in a movie. The whole sequence is like a movie after all, where I can watch myself, I know what will happen yet there is always the surprise when I live each moment anew.
For this is a dream and memory does not enter my subconscious, I draw it all from myself time and time again.
It's about that time when the darkness leaves and a grey light, a morning light enters the area, wherever it is that I am. It's then and only then that I realise I'm not alone. Some nights, when I'm more awake when I'm asleep if that makes sense, I will beforehand sense someone near, someone hovering, but in a way I'm not aware of them.
Do you know what I mean?
I turn and one of the lingering qualities that always stays with me, even when awake, is that my hair is in my eyes, gaze obscured by the long strands, long red strands that march across my vision. I'm impatient, so impatient to see who it is, even if I know, I know who it will be, but my hands move as if I were swimming through lead strewn mud, thick stickiness that weighs heavily on my muscles.
When I finally manage to clear my gaze, you're gone. I can't see you and I feel the loss, the confusion as to why I feel loss and an ache in abdomen that I'll feel when I wake up. It's hard to tell whether it's an emotional pain or a physical pain. At this stage I don't care, all I know is that you're gone and it hurts.
But you're not gone and you show this as you wrap arms around me, one pressing against the ache in my abdomen, the other, resting just over my diaphragm, under my bust.
That dream quality increases and I only feel certain sensations. I feel heat where I know you're pressed up against me, heat, but no pressure, no solid flesh behind me, so soft skin against my own. I'm not even aware of what either of us is wearing, we could be naked for all I know, it just isn't even shown.
A haze, a mental haze inflicted by my own self. I've still to decide whether it's a blessing or a curse.
You do my job for me, cold hands smoothing the auburn tresses away from my face and I smile, tentatively, still unnerved by this feeling of nervousness, a faint, lingering sense which tells me that this isn't right.
But it is, you whisper, crimson lips pressed against the shell of my ear, that I can feel. I can feel your breath, warm and moist since it's something I've felt when awake, a mental copy pasted into the haziness of the dream. A sudden clarity in a clouded view. It is right and I know it is, you tell me.
Then you've turned me and I'm not sure how, but again I don't care, I'm just looking at your face. And it's the same as when it's the real me and the real you except you're looking at me and oh, oh….I can't explain because when I look at you, I see me mirrored back. It's still you, those features that I've memorised so lovingly, the one's that always hover behind closed lids. But it's not an expression I've seen on your face, not directly, so I see me. That expression I know because it's my eyes half closed, irises wistful, my lips parted slightly, breath coming in small gasps, but oh so warm.
I reach towards you, but my hand's glowing again, veins lit up and you look at it. That one look lasts a lifetime and I can feel it working, that light is driving the darkness away, but there's a mistake, it thinks that you are dark and you're fading.
No, please, don't go! I need you!
There's a chance that this is the last time, the last time I dream this and I don't want it to end. Even with you fading from sight, that's better than you not being here and I can still see that look on your face, my look, the look I need to see on you before my soul flies into oblivion because it would, I would fly into the absence of anything, just to find you because without you I am nothing. Even when I'm awake and you don't know, you're smiling at me, but that care isn't there, I love the pain that loving you brings. If I didn't love you…I wouldn't be there.
But you fade and I'm left alone and the darkness is coming back and I'm falling, that end of dream fall that symbolises the world as you know it is coming to an end and darkness dances with light, but it's all shattered when a silent scream tears through the light and the dark, complete opposites, but it's my cry and my scream isn't black or white.
It's a different shade of grey.
And I awaken and I'm alone, but it's a worldly alone, an alone I can handle. Because I know that next door, you're there, so close. I draw comfort from that and sometimes I wish I would carry that sleeping scream into a waking scream, just so that I could bring you in.
But that would make me a little girl and I'm already far enough in your eyes from what I want to be that I won't. I will not scream.
I will not scream as that will make it real.
I can't or I won't, that's the question.
This is one of the dreams. I know them well, I've even labelled them. I'll wake up and though I may not know exactly what my subconscious dredged up that night, but I will be able to say which it was. For example, that was Dream Two, one of the more common ones, a one that will cause me to walk through the next day in a trance, the haziness of the dream lingering in my waking hours.
When did I realise that I loved you?
You call that an easy question? What kind of questions do you think are hard?
Don't answer that. I know you'll come up with some pert reply.
I try to think hard, but how do you answer that?
When does care turn into love, how can I know that it wasn't love at first sight. For most people, first meeting and first sight for the same.
I'm not most people.
All I had of you was a sense of terror for something unknown, unseen, something that only my male companions could warn me about, but then you spoke and I lost track of the fear for what I couldn't even see. You said you knew Katsuya and I believed you. I felt my world move and I knew that you were saving me, but I didn't even know who you were. All I knew was a darkness that might become the perpetual night of my life.
I didn't want to be blind, I didn't want to lose my sight. To never see Katsuya again, to never look upon something as simple as a snowfall or the pregnant round of the moon through the pale pink of the cherry blossoms in the park near home. To never see.
I was filled with a pain I never knew existed, a pain that I had refused to look at before Katsuya saved me with money I never knew he had, a pain that was physical, a trembling in my limbs and a blinding pain in the deepest darkest pit of my stomach.
Yet you soothed that and do you know why? Do you know why you soothed me Mai?
It was because of your voice Mai. Your voice was alive. I didn't need to see you to know that such a vibrant voice would have a vibrant owner. I knew that you were beautiful before I had so much as seen the light of day for the second birth of my sight.
You had a voice which conveyed so much and you knew about me. Do you know how loved that made me feel? If Katsuya had told you about me then you were special. I felt it. I felt it when you first let me out of your car and you placed a hand on my arm to guide me up. I didn't ask you to, but I did and I felt the concern and I loved it.
When did I first love you Mai? When you spoke to me. When you spoke about Katsuya. Katsuya. Our first conversation was about him. I should have known.
But your voice Mai, you don't know how beautiful your voice was. Your voice showed me that I could still 'see' even if my eyes were forever closed. I loved you because you made the fear go away, I felt I could survive in the dark if I only had your voice to light it up for me. Mai, I didn't know that love like that could exist. Not between you and me and it doesn't, but it could.
No it couldn't.
So, I guess that's when I loved you. When you spoke to me. When you told me that I was special. But when did I realise? You have to ask these hard questions. I'm so sleepy, why won't you let me sleep? Another of those questions you don't need to answer.
Well, they do say that you never appreciate something until you've had it taken from you.
It's been quite a while since then – I was still the gangly, naïve child that I was and you, you were my mentor, you were trying to lead me through life.
But didn't you see? My life was with you? You didn't see that all those flirting techniques, the ones you spent long evenings teaching me, I only used them on you? I was only comfortable using them on you! You tried to introduce me to guys, but even then I couldn't use them.
It was always you, always will be.
It was one of those days and we were just hanging. I still didn't understand why I wanted to be with you, I didn't understand what it was.
Do you want the truth? I was too young, I didn't know what love was, clichéd as it sounds, but I did have a hazy idea. Some sense in my gut, an ache that intensified when you were there and hurt when you weren't around. I didn't know, I mean, I couldn't tell. How could I? You were my first.
You were my first and I didn't even know it.
I stray from the point, hit me if I do it again.
We were at your place and it was summer. Stiflingly hot and the air smelt like India. I've never been to India, but the headiness, that intoxication simply from air, what else could it be, but India? The windows were open and the night sounds filled your small living room. Honkings and engine roarings faded into a soft, residual hum, the background music of the city and it travelled far, even up to the thirty second floor where it found us.
You were lounging on your couch, your beautiful violet couch. You'd always had the best taste and your apartment was no exception. Glittering mirrors, violet rim, the deep indigo plush of your carpet that I was fingering with disbelieving glee. You lived so well, with such freedom compared to the beige velour of my own home. I was sitting cross legged on you violet sea of velvet and I was looking up at you, the only person in the room and it was you.
I was lucky and I was looking at you and I felt, I didn't know what I felt. You had ordered pizza and you were cupping a slice in two hands, ignoring the havoc it was playing on your perfect nails and you were taking a bite, lips ruby red against the stringy cheese which never stuck to your gloss. You may have that talent, but I would, in your position, have cheese hanging down my face.
And I did and I was trying to suck them up, my face flushing slightly as I had an image of how I must seem to you. At this point, my whole life was measured in how you would see me, what image you would have of me and right now it was hardly sophisticated, cheese over my face, a tongue vainly striving to pull them in and my cheeks being some embarrassed hue though to what degree I was unsure of.
So you reached across and I watched those fingers, tips reddened from tomato sauce, coming closer to my face and my breath hitched up, catching in my throat with a flutter that made me cough slightly, but that finished swiftly as I continued to watch those slim digits as they approached.
And they reached me and they twisted the strands, snapping them as they hung, elastic and pale from your fingers and then they were moving and they travelled from my lips to yours. When you ate them, I just watched you, I'm sure my lips were parted and I felt that flutter in my throat again and the tremor in my hands which were fisted in the carpet beside me and I felt white lightening.
Lightening flashed through my veins and for one blink of my eyes I swore that my hands were glowing silver, liquid fire running through my body with thunder rolling in my body and I was alive and you were looking and I was looking back and, and….
Yet the lightening went and the thunder stayed, my abdomen aching, but it wasn't an ache I'd had before, it was different and it needed to be filled and when you touched me, oh God the ache intensified. When you looked at me with those big purple eyes, with concern apparent and you cupped my cheek and I felt the slight dampness of where there was still tomato sauce on your fingers and you made me look at you.
It came back and I realised that your eyes were a lightening rod for what beat in my chest. I burnt again and I wanted to cry, half in pleasure, half in pain and half in longing for something that I didn't realise I could have.
I loved you before, but I only knew then. A moment of clarity. It was from then that I started talking to you. Not the real you, but the you that hovered in my vision, the one I had conjured up because, because….because I needed you close all the time and this was the only way it was possible. So I took all I knew of you and that was easy since most of what was stored in my mind was you.
Birthday, workdays, your days off, dentist appointments, the way you would eat an ice cream (bite off the bottom of the cone and suck the ice cream down through it), what you would do if someone was overly friendly, something I was loathe to see again – you were as fearsome as your harpy ladies, the way you would laugh. Oh how I loved it when your eyes deepened into little crinkles and your mouth lifted more on one side than another as you sounded your musical chuckle. Your laugh was as vibrant as your voice.
All this information cluttered up my mind, overflowing from the drawers in which I tried in vain to keep some semblance of order, but it was all you. It was all little snippets of you and I held them close, I was loathe to let them go however irrelevant they seemed.
Even now. They're all I have in a way.
So I talk to you in my head, I ask you questions and because I know you, I know what you'll say. I formulate answers and I listen to them carefully.
Crazy aren't I? But it was only because I wanted to spend all my time with you, but you were older and you had a life as compared to my uneventful existence. Why would you want to have a shadow, a little, adoring shadow? You were sweet to me that was for sure, we often spent time together, but it didn't mean anything to you. You didn't hurt if it was cancelled by one of us, not like I did. It wasn't the end of the world for you.
I was Jonouchi's little sister, little Shizuka to you.
That was what hurt me most. That ache when I realised that I loved you. Love was supposed to be splendid, but you were my first and you were impossible. So I was looking at you and you were holding my face, a worried look creasing your perfect brow and I felt you wince and I didn't know why until your hands coaxed one tear from my cheek.
Katsuya used to do that. Collect my tears I mean. His fingers were smooth then, uncallused. By the time I found him again, his hands were tough, proof of the hard labour he had done in his life. A life which I had no part in since I had been taken away when our parents split. Maybe that's why I was attracted to you Mai, you were a link to the part of my brother I wasn't there to experience. I missed him so much…I had so much love for him and then I found him again and it was too much.
I suppose all that love spilled out and just added to the feelings already building for you.
Enough questions, I'm tired, just let me be for now. I need to sleep because tomorrow…tomorrow I lose you and I don't want to wake up, but I have to because if I don't you'll be upset and so will Katsuya.
When it's the happiness of the person I love most and my brother, I suppose it's the best thing to do. It's not as if not going will make me any happier. It will still have happened and it will still hurt so if I go, at least some people will be happy.
Just let me sleep.
That night, dream number one made an appearance. I don't like this dream, it makes me feel odd. It may be one of the more recent dreams to surface, but it's the most recurrent.
It seems my subconscious is out to fuck up my life.
This dream, dream number one is a short one, but it's clear. It's a clear image and I hate it so much.
Because I'm little again and I'm sitting up high, watching a sea of shifting clouds, no, they're not clouds, they're people, a shifting pool of grey clothed people and they're eyes are all on me. I'm young again and uncomfortable and I just want to suck my thumb, but a part of me is still, well, me and I don't.
Not that I'm not tempted…
Then the sea parts and I'm looking around, since I'm suddenly on the floor. This is due to the fact the dream has shifted suddenly, causing my chair to disappear and now I'm surrounded by tall people, towering, swaying tall people. I'm scared, but I carry onwards, nudging the people aside. How the young me can push them away when I seem to only be about twelve I don't know, but it's a dream, dreams don't make sense. I can't stress this strongly enough.
They part. That's all I know. That's all I care about because now I can see you. There's some sort of backlighting and I suddenly realise we're alone now, those grey people have left. It's you, Mai, so I walk confidently towards you, but you back away, an odd smile on your face and I suddenly realise you don't know who I am. You don't know this young me. I want to yell and tell you who I am, that I'm Katsuya's little sister, that I'm….I don't know what I am to you, I can't say.
But it doesn't matter because I can't speak, I'm frozen again, that leaden, sticky mud.
As I said, my subconscious hates me.
So your gaze passes over me and I suddenly know what you see. You see a baby, someone not worth your time unless it were to humour me. Someone you'd never see in the way that I wished you to. No, wish is too kind a word, need, desire, long for.
Take your pick.
So you pass over me and I get another of those moments of clarity. It's almost in slow motion when time diminishes and hovers before my eyes again. I control the time, but I have no control over myself.
I watch you turn and this time it's definitely from my eyes this time. I know it is, there's no split feeling, no hovering me or a bodily me.
Just me. Shizuka. And that makes it all the worse.
Because it's all me, the whole me, the dreaming me, but still me and you turn away in slow motion and it rips a part of me out with you. I know loss on a major scale, something that I've never felt before, yet feel all the time because each time it's new. A new pain and yet an old pain and it kills because you're turning away from me. You don't know me and it hurts, it hurts so bad, but I can't move and that makes it worse.
You don't know me so you don't seem worried and you're still turning, sheets of shimmering gold waving around your face, hanging to midback. Yet the gold is fading and I know that's because you're getting further and further away, but I still can't move.
I try, I try so hard, but the invisible bonds are too strong and I wrench too hard. White hot pain runs up my side, adding a far too real physical pain to the ache I'm feeling already.
Dream one is really not one I enjoy.
I want to die.
I actually want to die – I can't cope, not here, not now. I need to get out, I can't watch you being given away. Not that I have much choice, I'm standing behind you, there's no way I can't see you without closing my eyes and the surrounding crush of people won't let me.
Of course, things weren't helped by you this morning when you, unwittingly of course, smashed the already shattered pieces of my heart into a fine powder, sifting and light, blown away by a gust of wind.
You woke me this morning and even when I was still hazy from my sleep, you were radiant in the light shining through my barely opened curtains. Golden hair violet eyes, the blinding white of your silk shift, lace running softly around the curve of your thighs.
You brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye, but when you saw the crystal drop, you smiled. I remember your exact words.
"Don't cry Shizuka honey, I'll take good care of your brother."
The last clouding veils of sleep fell away and my gaze instantly fell to my faded bedspread. Pink roses on a cream background. I really needed bed linen that reflected me, not my six year old self. Katsuya…oh crap…it was today now.
Today I lose you.
You smiled at me, tapping the top of my red head and sliding off my bed. Even though I breathed a sigh of relief, the pressure on me released, I missed the warmth your body had radiated towards me, the small, electric distance between your spread hand and my loose fist, both resting on the same pink rose.
"Come on squirt, I thought you were going to help me into my dress – you have more subtle tastes when it comes to makeup than Anzu and Isis, well she'd just tattoo on the eyeliner." You smiled at me, that blinding, lopsided smile, revealing a slight chip in one tooth. It made your smile unique and beautiful, a smile no one else had.
You never will know the effect your smile has on me.
I get up reluctantly, vaguely embarrassed by my rather scanty nightwear – basically flimsy shorts and a vest top. I'd normally wear one of Katsuya's shirts, but it was too hot now for me to do that. Trust you to get married on the Summer equinox, so typically and uniquely Mai.
Dazed, I'm led through the morning until I find myself straddling your knees, applying your make up. The bumps of your knees, hidden by the soft material of your petticoat, are rubbing against the inner skin of my thighs and the contact makes me shiver.
It's always made me guilty, the fact I get aroused by your presence. It seems wrong somehow, like taking advantage of you when you aren't even aware of it. Pleasure out of your ignorance. Of course, I still feel guilty about getting aroused at all – I've never got used to it…never.
So, of course, I'm blushing as I bend over your face, but thank God your eyes are closed due to my ministrations. Trying to ignore the ache in my stomach, that deep, pleasurable ache, I concentrate on your smooth skin.
Bad mistake. Smoothing foundation into your skin, it's so…sensual. Like moulding clay. I run the sponge into the sockets of your eyes, along the contours of you cheeks, fingers brushing briefly against your lips.
Another rush of guilty pleasure.
I step back hurriedly, as soon as you're ready. I can't stay close to that beautiful face now. You didn't need make up Mai, you have your own luminescence and it makes me sigh to see you.
You make me sigh even more when you stand up, silk petticoat clinging sensually to the curves of your body. It gets worse because now, you pull on your wedding dress, turning so I can zip up the satiny material.
Trembling fingers obey automatically and I look over your shoulder, seeing the sight that you see in the mirror.
You're a vision Mai. A vision in white.
Your dress, the smooth, sleek lines hang around your torso, a creamy expanse of bosom revealed over the lace bodice. The lace is handmade, you told me, the pattern supposed to represent fertility. To be honest, I can't see anything except swirling lines, but it is perfect, everything's perfect. From your slim waist, the skirt pools outwards, not overly wide, more like rippling liquid around your legs, a free flowing stream of satin.
And over your shoulder, my pale face peeps out, red hair bright against the virgin whiteness of your dress. I've lost weight, you've commented on it with that concerned look in your eyes as you cup the haggard cheek of mine. Yet, despite the stark look of my once rounded face, I have a serenity I only gain when I'm around you. We look good together.
It's a shame that that's an impossibility.
But I drink in the image of you in a wedding dress and me beside you hungrily, greedily. I'll need this thought when I watch you walk down the aisle. I'll need the thought just to be able to keep on going.
I love you…that's all I can say, but I can't say it. Not to the real you anyway. To my Mai. My dream Mai.
You're interrupting me love, again might I add. I'm trying to explain to the people out there. What was that? Another question? You're full of surprises love. Fine, one more question.
Pick a hard one won't you? What do I want from you? That's difficult, it isn't tangible…
It isn't sex I want, that I can tell you right away. For a start, I wouldn't know what to do. I wouldn't know what to do with a guy, let alone you.
For me…I'm so young, I'm not even an adult for another three months. You keep badgering me to have some sort of big celebration, but I refuse. Eighteen isn't that big a deal, it's just a number after all. Needless to say, I'm a virgin. I've remained faithful to you.
Well, not to you. To my image of you.
So I've established that it isn't sex I want, but that doesn't mean I don't want anything physical. In a way, some parts of love are physical.
What did I say? No more questions. And doesn't that make a question within a question? What do you mean it's a question squared?
I worry about you sometimes.
Fine, make it a question squared. What is love to me? Jesus…You are in an aggravating mood today.
For me, love is what I want from you, so I guess it's the same question. Love isn't all Romeo and Juliet, valiant sacrifices and burning passion.
For me, love is the little things. All the little things that I suppose you take for granted.
Waking up next to a person, feeling their soft breath on your face, the slight drag towards them their weight on the mattress causes.
A sip of coffee. That's all I ask. The freedom to lean across and take a sip of their coffee, without asking, without thinking about asking because you know that they'll willingly give it to you. A sip of coffee, foam gracing my lip and one finger of theirs to wipe the moustache away.
I'm not explaining this well, am I? Let me try again.
I have this image in my mind and it's always there, just…hovering. It's a park bench, just a plain old, paint peeling, weathered bench. I'm sitting on it and it must be winter because I'm wrapped up warmly, woolly jacket up to my earlobes, red hair covered by an absurdly coloured hat. And only one glove.
Why only one glove? That's because you're only wearing one glove as well. Well why are you only wearing one glove? That's because you're holding my bare hand and I'm holding your bare hand and it's impossible to tell who grabbed whose hand first, or perhaps we did at the same time. It's cold and our skin is smooth with cold, fingers turning slightly numb, but we refuse to let go of each other.
We're not looking at one another. We don't need to. It's natural to be doing this. That's what I see as love, the fact that it happens without thinking. We don't care who's around us because in this perfect world, we're accepted. Everyone sees that I'm a girl and you're a girl, no, a woman and even though we're just holding hands, it's apparent what we feel. No words, no gazes, just a simple hand hold, but that says it all.
One hand, yours, is that too much to ask? One thing to ask for, the only thing I've ever asked for?
Apparently it is too much. I've asked too much. I'm sorry.
The image is beautiful to me, but then again, it is my deepest wish. Of course it's beautiful. And I've seen it, it does exist. But it isn't me that's holding your hand, it isn't me that you don't need to look at.
It's my brother. Katsuya. Katsuya and you.
Someone up there hates me.
And now I'm behind you and there's the soft sound of the bridal march playing. I look down at my hands and they're holding the trailing end of your veil. The soft refrain of lilting violins hover seraphim like around the globe of my ear, harmonies melodious as the wedding march plays.
It's almost like a dream again, I feel so detached. I'm hovering. I mean that. I'm split, torn asunder, separated. Again. I'm absently watching myself, as per normal.
I have a feeling I do that too much, but I'm taking the coward's way out. It's easier to not feel at all and miss out on what little pleasure my life holds then to go around with the serrated barbs impaled in my faltering heart.
Slow, measured steps.
I remember Mai's words before we entered, a brief and secret smile flashed to me from beneath the whirling cloud of her veil. That's one good point – I had the privilege, if you can call it that, of seeing Mai before Katsuya did.
Odd. I always thought that Katsuya and myself had a wonderful relationship as opposed to many other brothers and sister pairs. But here I am, close to gloating over the fact that I saw his fiancée, soon to be wife, before he did.
Okaa-San was right, I am going to go to hell.
That brings us to another sad chapter in the long, morose tale that is my life. It's like a really, really, really bad soap opera sometimes. My Mother. I've never forgiven her in a way. For outward shows, I hug, I kiss, I smile. But that's because I'm to weak to display true feelings. Most of what people see is an act, a sham. A façade. Okaa-San is scary, simple as that. When she left my father, she took claim of me. Why just me? Why not both of us? Or none of us?
The question was, was it punishment of praise? Was it because I was a favorite or was she just looking for further ways to split the 'happy' household in two?
I think you're rubbing off on me love, I'm starting to ask myself too many questions.
Katsuya doesn't talk about the time while I was gone. In the end though, however he feels, he had the better deal. Our father tries, he may not succeed very well, but he does try to be a good parent.
Okaa-San just tries to be a bad one. Beration, endless nagging. She has that down to a tee. Every day, every miserable day she pecked at me. I was there, scared to death about losing my sight and she would nag at me about being a wicked child, about being selfish. About not caring.
Not caring? I care too much! I care about Katsuya, I care about my friends, I care about you. God I care about you…heh, so much for not feeling at all I guess. You have that effect on me.
A jolt back to reality, the realization that we have now reached the altar. You turn, looking at me, that glorious smile on your face. Why wouldn't you smile? You're getting married, the best day of any woman's life.
You may be a woman, I'm just a girl.
I start as you lean towards me, brushing your cheek against mine, the feel scratchy through the sheer material of your veil. It's odd. Pleasurable, but still odd. No, it mustn't be pleasurable, it's forbidden now – it's always been forbidden. Yet I can't hide the slight shiver that runs up my spine. Put it down to the church, it must be cold in the church.
It doesn't stop you giving me an odd look and I realise I need to move. Feet lead me blindly to my place with the other bridesmaids; Anzu in dusky pink, Isis in cream and me in periwinkle blue. I'm not sure about it actually – the dress is slightly too low cut, I'm not used to reminding myself that I'm a girl. Out of the three dresses it's the simplest, square neckline, long sleeves and a flowing skirt, very similar to your own skirt, but less elaborate.
Isis' is more Egyptian, that flawless style she pulls off so easily – heavy material sheath like around her body, her customary jewellery elegant around her neck and brow, bands adorning her wrists and probably her ankles. Looks like Yami gave her the Sennen Torque back…I can see it now, Motou's Rental Sennen Items – perfect for all your family occasions.
I have a weird mind.
Anzu looks lovely as normal – a sleeveless gown blossoming around her curvy body, the silk complementing her already smooth skin, bouncing the light to illuminate her shapely chest.
Lucky her, lucky all of them – Mai, Isis, Anzu, they're all gorgeous, mature women. As I said, I'm still unsure whether I'm even female or not at times. Maybe it would have been easier if I wasn't…
Across from us stand the happy couple, you in the halo of silk and lace, Katsuya resplendent in what I heard Yuugi dub as a penguin outfit. He shouldn't mock – him, Honda and Otogi all have the same 'penguin' deely going on. It does serve to make me smile, all these people have been like uncles to me, they watched over me as much as Katsuya did.
Well, apart from Otogi and Honda, but I've grown accustomed to avoiding their less than subtle advances. I suppose everyone has uncles like those.
I sneak a look around, face discreetly hidden behind my bouquet – freesias, the delicate versions of lilies with the oh so sweet scent. They're dainty and exotic, according to the blushing bride, yet they hide a bountiful fragrance. Apparently that's why she chose them for me…it's disturbing how people who know me, don't know me if that makes any sense.
Shush, I know I stopped making sense a long time ago, you don't need to keep reminding me love. You are argumentative today. Just hush a while longer, we'll be out in a minute.
We are out in a minute, but not after the most poignant, and painful part. The priest pauses in his dronings and suddenly you've turned to face me, excitement dancing in those heavenly violet eyes of yours. My slow ears suddenly thrust the words 'rings' at me and I fumble in the little pouch you provided for me. Dove grey, trimmed with pearls. Very nice.
But nice isn't a good enough word for the ring. White gold, burnished white gold in a slim band. The sparkling dots I can see, where the fairy lights festooning the arch over our heads illuminate the tiny gems, are set firmly along the top half of the band. Simplicity. You said big rocks were tacky and cold, you said you didn't want your fingers to fall off under the weight after all.
You've probably forgotten that you said this, but I haven't. I treasure every scrap of memory I can of you, however mundane they seen.
The ring. As I said, it was beautiful. To everyone else it was beautiful, to me, its attractiveness was marred by the loss it represented. Your hand was outstretched, prepared to receive the round with which you had entrusted me, your maid of honour.
Hmm, maid of honour, wasn't there some sort of rule which said if the bride didn't turn up, the groom married the maid of honour? That's a disturbing thought considering that it's my brother who is the groom. Or was it the jilted bride and the best man? Mai and Yuugi, that's never something I've thought of. Not that I ever thought of you with anyone love. Well, right now, Yuugi is presenting the ring to Katsuya, along with a hearty hug and a ruffle of my brother's tousled hair – he never can get it neat.
I guess it's my turn…but I don't want to! I don't want to hand you the ring that will effectively make you my sister. I don't want to lose you…but if I don't I'll lose your friendship instead of losing your love which I never had in the first place.
Hush, I know you love me, but remember, I made you. However much I love you, you're a pale shadow of her, a hazy image my mind concocted. No, don't pout like that, we both know it's true. I know…don't worry love, we'll make it work.
Dead fingers place the ring in your palm and I look up into starry eyes. I can't help, but smile, mine being as watery as your own is. You cry with happiness, I cry for a bittersweet loss. Then again, I cry at anything – be it movies, books or the fact that you're marrying my brother.
All too soon, Katsuya and you are kissing and everyone's clapping and cheering, whistles running riot through my tender eardrums. Mr and Mrs Jonouchi. How wonderful.
Vaguely remembering the rehearsal, I turn to my right and find Yuugi offering my arm. Best man and maid of honour, it's us who now have to clear the way for the happy couple and we do so with relative ease, my hand resting limply on the curve of his inner arm.
"That wasn't so bad, was it now little one?" he asks quietly, face serene as he nods amiably to the people around us.
Little one? He's not that much taller than me and I used to top him considerably. Lucky for him he had a growth spurt. Wait, what did he say?
"Sorry?" I ask finally, a too long pause probably being my betrayer for he gives me a sad little smile, whimsical and child like on his innocent face. He's the only twenty something year old I know who manages to look so sweet. He taps his temple, nodding towards the resplendent puzzle which hangs around his neck, contrasting oddly with the formality of his penguin suit.
"Auras, Shizuka, auras. I'm not completely blind you know?" The smile brightens as he waves to the Kaiba brothers, gaining an equally friendly gesture from Mokuba while a haughty stare is his only reward from the elder Seto. Charming. Yet there is no time to dwell on the differences that can occur in one gene pool as Yuugi turns back to me, eyes sympathetic. "I thought you handled it bravely – not many can put on such a beautiful face while they suffer so terribly."
What can you say to that? One of my hands unconsciously goes to my cheek, my tired, sunken cheek and I look at him with surprised eyes. By now we've reached the lavish hall, crystal and marble and mirrored walls apparent – as I said, Mai has good taste. We've led the guests here, but now Yuugi pulls me aside, into a small, delightfully pink and brocaded passageway which clearly leads to one of the many powder and primping rooms available in a place like this.
For the first time in a long time, I'm wrapped in arms that belong to an unrelated male and I feel Yuugi holding me gently, acutely aware that he is not messing up either my hair or my dress. What a great guy. I would cry, but to weep would make it real. To cry would be to admit that she's gone, so instead, I hold Yuugi back, both of us silent.
Silent is good – what words can make this situation better? None and silence is the best policy. Of course, Yuugi might not be being intuitive, merely reading my aura again. Oh well, enjoy it while it lasts Shizuka. He's the only one who knows….which reminds me.
"Yuugi-kun?" I voice and I'm surprised by how old I sound. Does heart break really do that to you? Make you sound like an old crone? Wonderful.
"Yeah?" His voice is calm and obviously pitched to soothe me somewhat. What am I, a frightened horse? That would be interesting, if I were a horse, perhaps I could race away into the sunset and never come back. How anticlimactic.
"You won't tell will you?"
"Course not, so long as you don't tell Isis."
Isis? Oh holy crap Yuugi, what a pair we make – me longing for the girl who's marrying my brother and you for the older woman who loves Rishid. Great choices we make…
Oh God, I'd forgotten about he throwing of the bouquet. It always looks so good on television, but here, all the single females present are forced to the front of the crowd, us three bridesmaids among them. I stand there awkwardly, not sure what to do with my hands as I have been forcibly relieved of my own bouquet. Wonderful.
I watch you, we all are, but I watch you for different reasons. It would be so like you to rig this and I can tell you will by the wicked gleam in your eyes as you move yourself from your seat, perched regally atop of Katsuya's knee. You're looking at me…oh no Mai, don't you dare, don't you dare throw it to me.
I glance disbelievingly at the fragrant blossoms which have fallen straight into my unmoving hands and then up at those who missed the bouquet. Disappointment, that I see, along with sly little smirks as they nudge each other. Who will little Shizuka marry, that's the question. I look at Isis, whose caramel skin is luminescent under the gentle light, though I notice a slight skew of her poker straight onyx locks, her eye line bent towards a certain other Egyptian.
I throw the flowers to Isis. She and Rishid need them more than a spinster like me. A spinster at seventeen, well, nearly eighteen, but anyway, I can't be normal.
The stately woman catches them and from the look on her face, I knew her Sennen Torque hasn't warned her of this for she nearly drops them, fumbling to keep them in her elegant hands. She sends me a puzzled look and I return it soberly, gaze drifting past her to rest pointedly on Rishid who is watching us with his normal scrutiny. The wicked part of me cackles when a slow flush spreads across the face of the female Ishtar and she ducks her head, curtain of black hair falling across under the restraining band of her headdress.
I smile, at least I hope it's a smile and not a grimace before turning away to look at someone I might have hurt with that action. No, Yuugi is watching me with warm, brotherly eyes, approval apparent in his face.
He's smart, he doesn't grudge other people making the one he loves happy. He is so selfless in his love that it doesn't matter if he isn't the one holding her, kissing her or whispering promises of forever to her. If Isis is happy, than so is Yuugi.
That's food for thought. Oh no, photos! I look around for somewhere to hide, but am accosted by said King of Games taking my arm once more.
"You can't escape them little one – why don't us failures in love go and join those that have succeeded?" Even his teasing proves how much more mentally mature he is than me. He and I need to have some long talks – perhaps he can help me live with this, take the paths he has chosen for Yuugi is happy, there can be no question about that.
"If I must Yuugi-Kun, if I must." I try a tentative smile on him, aware that people are looking and whispering, but I try to ignore them. They don't know the depth of the situation, they never will.
"I think you've know me long enough to call me Yuugi now," he reprimands gently, leading me out towards the sunlit rose garden in which the joyous couple are waiting with the photographer.
"Only if you stop calling me little one – You're not that tall!"
A rueful smile and a wry laugh as he rubs the shock of tricoloured hair on his head. "That's what Yami keeps telling me and Bakura and Marik and Kaiba…" We both break into laughter, a sound which has been loathe to come from my throat for a while now.
It's true – misery loves company.
"Oh and Shizuka?"
"Don't forget to smile – trust me, smiling makes the pain go away."
Dream Three. I'm undecided about this one. It makes me happy and sad in a moment. Happy because, well, you're in the dream. Sad because it fuels a fire that I want to die, but never will.
Dream Three is very simple, short and to the point. Floating feelings, sensations and one clear cut image. Silken sheets, cool against the skin showing under my nightclothes. My proper nightclothes, slobbing ones – a shirt borrowed, alright, stolen from Katsuya. The scent of rose smelling….something. Not pure rose scent, but something flavoured, I have no idea – candles probably.
I feel heat beside me and I roll over. I see you, golden hair spread over the pillow on which your head is cushioned, strands intermingling with some of my own red ones. Your eyes are closed and I can see by the slight shadow under your eyes that you were too tired to fully take off the last of your mascara last night for black still tips the ends of your blonde lashes. Lazy, I'll reprimand you on it when you wake up.
One lid flickers and I lean in, intrigued by the emotions which pass over your face as you rise through the many layers of sleep you sank through the night before. Smiling like a naughty child, I reach over, intent on pinching the tip of your nose, but you're clearly more awake then you let on for I find my hand captured and brought against your lips as you fix me with a sleepy slit of violet.
"Go back to sleep," is all you say, flipping the covers over our head to form a cocoon around us, breaths silently heating the air inside. Squirming into the circle of your arms, I don't comply until you press a kiss to my temple. It's a ritual by now, I find ways to catch you out, yet we both know I delight in being caught.
We both win.
It's wonderful how natural this dream feels, how close we have become in it. But that's it, don't you see love? It is a dream, it's my subconscious creating it not ours. You are my subconscious, I made you, but I can't let you go. You're like a distant memory of childhood.
"Aunty 'Uka! Aunty 'Uka!"
Kids never could get my name right and I turn, swooping down to catch a giggling and squirming body that presses very hot kisses to my nose. Blonde hair scented with coconut fills my nose and I wrinkle said appendage, not really minding though. Children always smell nice, well, girls at least.
"Heya Manna," I murmur, taking the opportunity to have a sly tickle of her ribs which results in an appreciative squeal of delight. Three year olds are so easy to please. Another blonde…thing attacks my ankles and I stumble, looking down to see the grinning face of the girl in my arm's male counterpart. "Mahado!"
The names came care of Godfather Yuugi who had, with the aid of Yami, been planning them since the pregnancy had been announced, an astounding month after Katsuya and Mai had come back from their honeymoon. Three guesses as to what they spent it doing. The names were supposed to have had some significance, but I had always been more interested in the twins themselves. I was fascinated – the thought of Mai having children had never featured heavily in my mind for obvious reasons.
Speaking of Godfather Yuugi, a familiar tricoloured head bends over the grinning blonde one as he sweeps the chortling boy away from my legs, luckily before I topple over. Amethyst eyes laugh at me silently while he proceeds to wrestle with Mahado. The two adore each other, that much is clear, just as Manna seems to prefer me. Must be the whole girl power thing. We chicks have to stick together. Manna actually came out innocently with that sentence the other day causing big brother to look at me suspiciously and question me as to what I was teaching his daughter.
A halloo from the gate caused both golden haired terrors to let out another delighted yell before deftly escaping our arms and running towards the entrance on still chubby legs, voicing cries of "Aunty Iss-Iss," and "Uncle Rish" as they went.
Yuugi, panting from his exertions looked at me fondly, vainly trying to neaten up his ruffled hair.
"Guess the Ishtars are here then," he commented unnecessarily, judging by the familiar figures that were busy indulging themselves in the same kisses we had just received.
I nod, shaking my head as I lean over to tug a gold bang into place. It's easier now – a last minute growth spurt in my eighteenth year brought me up to his height finally, making it equal.
"The twins missed Hikari." I replied, naming the pair's own child, also named by Yami. That one I did understand – it wasn't every child that was blessed with the name of light by a Pharaoh, even if it was a three thousand year old one to be exact. If I got it right, they were all still Ra.
Yuugi gave his own nod and we stood there in the afternoon sun, pondering. Neither of us seemed to grudge the offspring of our friends, regardless of the fact that love still bloomed for our prospective people. He still looked wistfully at Isis every now and then and I still talk to you, I'm doing it right now! You still take up all this room in my head. If I were a computer, you'd have long exceeded hard drive capacity by now.
But over the past three years, our resident King of Games helped me to become as selfless as he was – long talks over steaming coffee, salted with many tears were common in those first few painful months after I realised I had lost her. I lost my Mai, but gained a sister Mai, one that in a way I had always possessed.
"Love isn't good or evil," he had explained as he wiped the hundredth tear from my cheek with as much care and patience as he had with the first. "It doesn't decide whether to make us happy or sad – that choice belongs to destiny and ourselves." He had paused, looking outside where autumn winds were dancing a ballet with the fallen leaves, muted colours warming the grey surroundings outside his apartment. "Destiny decides who we love and we choose how we spend our love."
I must have looked confused for he laughed and added another sugar cube to my coffee, absently stirring it with the plastic…stirrer thing or whatever you call it.
"Take Isis – I could grudge my love, resent it for the fact that destiny pointed it towards an unobtainable person, but that's only because destiny pointed her towards Rishid. Her love for him is the same as mine for her, but our persona's shape it accordingly." He shrugged at this point, slim shoulders rising and falling as he stopped stirring my coffee and placed my hands around it, the hot cup warming my chilly hands as much as his did. "I love Isis fully and since I do, her happiness is paramount. If she is happy loving Rishid, then so am I."
I was amazed by his sincerity – he meant this. But then again, I was amazed by how he could be so calm about suffering from unrequited love, sitting there, serenely sipping his coffee.
With a coffee moustache.
That settled it for me and I laughed, reaching over to wipe it away with a napkin. He was right, I was being selfish. He hadn't come out and said it, but it was true. I was lamenting about how I had lost her, when I should be celebrating her happiness and her impending blessing (Twin blessings as I would see later on.)
Yuugi was being the bigger man. I could be the bigger woman. Well, except for the fact we were both pretty petite people.
To put it shortly, I never got over Mai. I still love her, just as Yuugi still loves Isis. What we did do was stop our love from clouding our view of our lives, stopped it from contaminating our other feelings.
As a very wise King once told me, love isn't good or evil. We decide that for ourselves. I decided. I decided that I could still love you, but still be happy for you.
I haven't got around to telling you all this actually. I probably never will. I'm content to be Aunty 'Uka for the rest of my life
"They're good kids, aren't they?" Yuugi asked finally, nodding to where the blonde twins and the dark haired girl were playing some complicated child's game which seemed to include a lot of giggling and a very familiar pyramid shaped object.
I turned to him with an arch expression on my face.
"You gave them the Puzzle to play with?" I asked incredulously and he actually looked shamefaced.
"Well, it keeps them occupied," he protested, scuffing at the grass with a penitent foot. "It's not like Yami and I use it anymore."
I laugh harder at that and walk over to press a brief kiss to his cheek, one he returned on my brow. Is it any surprise that we're dating? When you know you belong to someone else, someone unobtainable, it's hard to explain that to another person. It's hard to tell them that in a way they're second best. It's hard to tell them that you can't ever love them the way you love that person.
But both of us know that from the other for we feel that ourselves. Our love is happy in itself, but pale against what we feel for Isis and Mai. What would have resulted in inferiority when told to another partner, with us, we are content to be second in love because we are first in friendship.
We may be lovers, but in a way we're more like friends.
It didn't happen at first, in fact it's only been about four months since we started. If you really want to know, the first was Kaiba. Hah, shocked you, didn't I? It's safe to say that I'm not a virgin anymore. It was…strange to say the least. Dating was weird, trying not to compare their every move to yours. I didn't really enjoy it to be honest, but thanks to Yuugi's 'agony aunt' sessions, my confidence grew. Love isn't good or evil. I kept my feelings separate, it took some work, but I have it down now.
If she's happy, then I'm happy.
A particularly loud round of joyous squeals brings me back to earth and I look with a dry smile towards Yuugi, appreciatively squeezing his firm arm. I'm grateful too him. He alone shares in what I feel, secrets I haven't even told the one they concern. I do love him, I think, I'm not really sure of things like that anymore.
"They are good kids," I agree, laughing as I watch Manna scramble to the top of the heap they had formed, triumphantly grabbing the prize of the Puzzle and waving it around. Chubby legs carried all three children around as they rampaged through the spacious garden, watched by us alone as Isis and Rishid had rushed inside, probably to partake of parent chat.
"Yeah…" I shivered when he looked at me oddly, head tilted to one side, amethyst eyes brighter than normal. "So do you ever want kids?"
I think I stood there blinking for quite a bit, probably looking like an awestruck deer. What kind of question was that? Kids?
I shrugged finally, aware that I had stiffened up somewhat. "I never thought about it…you know…" He did know so there was no point in elaborating.
Yuugi flushed and nodded, kissing me gently before he pulled away, heading towards the children who greeted him loudly and bouncily. It was rather amusing when he was borne to the ground by their attacks. I smiled and looked away, padding towards the gate.
Yuugi was used to this by now – I took my leave every now and then. My alone time, that's what he called it, a time when I needed to collect my thoughts. And talk to you of course.
Yuugi. Our relationship confuses me. I suppose I'm happy, but there's something missing, the feeling is incomplete. Of course, we know what that is, isn't it?
My feet have carried me to the park. They seem to do that, my feet I mean, take me to places I wouldn't have thought I was going to go to. One bench looks particularly tempting and I sit.
Golden light streams down, dappled by the patchwork of branches that hang over me and I close my eyes, attempting to sort my mind into some sort of order.
You and Yuugi and golden haired children. They're all running around my skull, not letting me rest. It's been three years love, but things haven't changed. You still own most of my mind space, all those details carry on filling it up, useless, pointless information, but I treasure it. Do you know why loving you stopped hurting? See, it's my turn to ask you a question now. No, don't pout, guess.
Fine, I'll tell you. It stopped hurting because what I felt for you grew to encompass my whole being. It became so much a part of me, it fuelled everything I did. Oddly, that means it's my love for you that drives my love for Yuugi or my love for Manna and Mahado.
You keep me going, love, never forget that.
My eyes were closed throughout this, but I feel a light brush against my nose and I open a slit of an eye. My vision is hazy and filled with sudden sunspots, but I see a blurred figure bending over me, tentatively smiling.
"Yuugi?" I question huskily, half asleep and drunk on sunshine as I peer, unattractively squinting, into his face as he nods affirmation.
"I didn't mean to scare you earlier…" he finally says, voice low and uneasy as he hovers over me, clearly in two minds about being here. I hate to admit it, but I'm probably not a good person to be involved with – I'm moody, needy, not to mention in love with someone else and I'm amazed that Yuugi has the patience to put up with me, yet here he is.
It's odd, when I look at him now, there's almost a second presence hovering behind him and for once it isn't Yami. No, this is a familiar golden haired angel, smiling and winking at me over his shoulder.
"You didn't scare me," I answer truthfully, unconsciously twining a strand of red hair around one finger. "It just wasn't something I had considered before."
He smiles and behind him you smile, beckoning with slender fingers for me to stand up. I've never been able to resist you and you know that. So what do I do? Of course I stand up, you wanted me to.
"I'm glad." He sounds truthful and it's my turn to smile. We're all smiling now, especially the golden you, watching intently as Yuugi holds out a hand towards me.
"The children want to play with Aunty 'Uka," he teases, poking my nickname at me. For a man of just turned twenty six, he's uncommonly cheeky when he wants to be and I can see you laughing over his head, translucent and yet radiant face approving. You like him, of that I'm glad.
Yuugi knows who I love best, so do I – for all I know, he's seeing Isis right now, the way I'm seeing you. There's never been any contest, love, you win with flying colours, but maybe I could be content this way. I can be Aunty 'Uka to your children, maybe I can be Shizuka to Yuugi.
"Come on Shizuka, I won't let them eat you." He proves my point exactly. He's looking out for me, regardless of how he knows he's second best. He knows destiny chooses our love, but we decide whether it is good or evil. Destiny didn't choose him, but I can make the love for him good.
I look to you for confirmation and you nod, still a glowing angel as you place an insubstantial hand on top of his upturned one, simply awaiting mine now. If I do take it, it's not like I'm giving up on you. I could never give up on you – you're me now, there's so much of you in my mind I'm even talking to you. I'm seeing visions of you. I love you and I could love him, if not as I love you. If I take his hand…
I take it.
Well….it's finished. Many tears and long nights spent slaving over the keyboard and I doubt many will read this post script or even finish the story. It's too long and it's too meandering, but all of this has come from me. Comments will be…well received – I don't even know what I think of this. Anyway, those who know me will know what this is about. I just want to say thank you for being there, for being so supportive. You know who you are my wonderful darlings.
Writing this story helped, it really did. Life is harsh and in this, the ending was probably better than a lot of people will get. I debated with myself whether Shizuka should take Yuugi's hand, but I couldn't bear to see her lost forever.
Take it from me, loving an impossibility is hard, the pain never goes away. But I've come to live with it – I hope anyone else who suffers from the same problem can do as I have had. I'm content now, probably because admitting it was the hardest part. Never give up on love though, it's too precious. I'm rambling now, but I just wanted to say, and this is honest, it means a lot to me that you've read this.