Author's notes:

My first FoR fic…. I do hope you guys like it…. So…. Here goes….

Oh and by the way, I don't own FoR… I'm not that lucky to have the privilege to own it….


Have you ever been to a masquerade? A fun party wherein everyone would be hiding behind a mask with a big smile on it? Sometimes, everyday life becomes a long masquerade party wherein you just hide your real emotions behind a smile just to let other people see that you're okay and that you could pull through whatever pinch you are in. Most of the times, the day would end with you getting away with your façade but at times, someone would just see right through your mask and you would realize that the masquerade isn't fun anymore.


Prologue:

It's so hard… to lose the one you love…

To finally have to say… good-bye…

Now it's time for me to find my happiness again…

I have to escape… to forget…


A clash of thunder clapped across the sky as the rain continued to pour down heavily and wet the cold grass around her. Only the protection of a small umbrella held by Recca prevented both of them from getting wet.

"Fuuko we have to go." Recca said while gently placing a hand on her shoulders, hoping that somehow, his voice reached her and would wake her from her reverie. "Yanagi and the others are already in the van and they're waiting for us already."

Fuuko heard the unspoken concern in Recca's voice but she couldn't will herself to move and go to where the others are waiting for her. All she could do was to stare at the mound of earth in front of her where the very first man who learned to appreciate her was now buried six feet under. All her hopes and all her happiness seemed to have been drained from her and went with him under that mound of earth. Gone now was the cheerful Fuuko who always had a smile on her face to offer everyone. She seems to have been buried together with the man who made her smile.

Why did you leave me?

You promised to be always there, remember?

I miss you already. . .

"Fuuko?" Recca uttered once again while gently tugging at her shoulders and hoping to wake his friend from the trance she was currently in.

The sound of Recca's voice broke her line of thoughts and woke her up from her reverie. But it didn't do much help to ease the pain she was feeling.

"You can go now Recca." Her voice sound distant and soft. She seemed to have suddenly forgotten how to speak, or maybe it was because of the lump in her throat that she couldn't utter anything more to say.

"But if I leave, you'll get wet. You might—" Recca protested, growing more and more concern about her welfare.

"It's okay. I still want to stay here. I want to be with him. . ." she said, unable to continue and trying her very best to control the tears that were bound to cascade down her cheeks once again. "for the very last time. . ."

A long paused followed after that caused by Recca's hesitation to leave his friend like she requested and Fuuko's need for silence and privacy during this heart-rending moment for her. This time, however, it was Fuuko who broke it and addressed her friend standing behind her.

"It is okay, Recca. I just want to be alone right now. Don't worry, I'll go home in just a few minutes." She whispered, trying her very best to sound okay and to assure her friend that she will be alright in time.

"Well then, at least take this umbrella with you…" Recca offered the umbrella to her to at least provide her some shelter.

"No… it's okay… I don't want it… just let me be… please…" Fuuko choked on the words she was trying to say.

Recca hesitated at first but when he heard the desperate plea in her voice, he gave up and left her standing alone in the rain. He recognized the façade she was trying to pull up just to assure him that she will be okay but he knew that it will take a long time before she can pull herself together once again. Not when he, himself, became a soul witness to the growing relationship she had with the man lying under the ground in front of her. He had never seen her offer so much and never that happy and content with someone until she had him. And now that he's gone, his friend might have a hard time recovering from her state.

After a few minutes of being alone, she couldn't help but reminisce the times they have together and the happiness that they shared. Recalling all these only made a new wave of tears to form in her eyes and drop down her cheeks, merging with the raindrops dripping from her hair. It was only when she heard the van with Recca and the rest of the gang was in sped away that she let herself fall down to the ground and gave in to the weakness that was eating up her soul. It was only then that she hugged herself and cried, wishing and hoping that somehow, her tears will bring him back. A desperate plea, she knows, but it's all that she could do to find comfort that her friends could not offer her.

Why did you leave me?

I miss you already...

I miss you so much…

Raiha…


Half-hidden behind a tree a few meters away from Fuuko's place stood a man with an umbrella in hand, watching her shoulders shiver from wrecked sobs and cold. He wanted to go to her and offer her comfort but how could he when he was known for being cold himself? How could he go to her when he knows that she's crying her heart out for a man she deeply cared for, or perhaps, more than that, even? How could he comfort her when he, himself was suffering, seeing her cry like that while knowing that he can't do anything to make the tears subside? How could he give comfort when all he ever felt was pain, knowing that her heart belonged to the man lying under the ground and left her broken?

Fuuko…

Knowing that he couldn't do anything for her anymore, he slowly turned around and walked away, wishing that somehow, someway, she would be able to recover and learn to love again. When that day comes, maybe then, he would have a chance…

He was already a good distance away when a figure from the shadows emerged near the tree he was concealed a while ago and it looked at his back while he dragged himself from the place.


"You shouldn't have left her there Recca!" Domon shouted at the forlorn form of Recca sitting on the sofa in Fuuko's apartment. "Now where in the bloody hell are we going to look for her! It's been two hours already since we left her there and she still isn't here! What if—"

"Will you fucking shut up!" Recca screamed on top of his lungs, gripping Domon by the collar and glaring at him face to face.

Domon, who seemed to have not been affected by the way Recca was glaring at him, returned the glare and held Recca by the collar too.

Yanagi, Ganko and Koganei both stood up from the seats and became alert of what was bound to happen between the two people who seem to care for Fuuko the most. One was because she is his childhood friend and closest comrade, the other, because of the devotion and respect he have for her.

"You don't know how it feels to see her so lost like that! You don't know how it feels to want to stay with her to comfort her then she suddenly turns to you and asks you to leave because she wants to be alone!" Recca shouted back at Domon, telling him his own agony in wanting to comfort Fuuko but couldn't do anything because she wouldn't let him do so.

"Recca, Domon, please stop that!" Yanagi pleaded while putting a gentle arm on their shoulders.

Just then, the doors of her apartment opened and revealed a very soaked Fuuko to them. For a whole minute, they just stood there, waiting for anything that Fuuko will say or do until such time that she seems to be falling slowly to the ground.

"Fuuko!" everyone shouted, rushing up to her and trying to prevent her fall.

Recca was the fastest among them and immediately caught Fuuko before she hit the floor.

"Fuuko!" he called out while placing a hand on her forehead to feel her temperature. "She's burning with fever!" he announced to the other occupants of the room concerned about her welfare.

The moment he did, he quickly lifted her from the floor and carried her upstairs while Yanagi went to the kitchen to get some water for her friend. It's a pity though, that she couldn't heal anymore. If she could, then the fever would have left her friend the moment she placed her hand on her.

But I know that even if I still have my powers, I still wouldn't be able to take the pain in your heart. She thought while carrying the basin of water to Fuuko's room.


Tokiya arrived at Fuuko's apartment an hour after Yanagi called him and told him about Fuuko's case.

"Mikagami-sempai." Yanagi acknowledged his presence the moment he entered the apartment.

He nodded at her greeting and observed the other occupants of the room.

Recca was sitting beside Yanagi and looking so down cast and worried while Domon was at the other sofa looking the same. Kaoru and Ganko were both sharing a mat laid on the floor and were soundly asleep but he can still see traces of worry and concern in their little faces for Fuuko.

"You look tired, Yanagi-san." He said when he noticed the marks of stress across her face.

"Fuuko needs us now." Yanagi answered him, her eyes showing that she was again in the verge of crying.

"I understand your desire to help her but you also have to rest." He said, turning to Recca and voicing out his concern for Yanagi. "I suggest that you tell her to rest Hanabishi then you and Ishijima should do the same. You all look in the verge of following Fuuko to bed."

"But what about Fuuko?" Domon protested, willing to fight his stress just to know that his friend will be taken care of.

"I'll look over her, if that's what you're worrying about. After an hour or so you can resume taking care of her."

Yanagi thoughtfully looked at Tokiya. Despite of his reputation of being cold and uncaring like other think he is, he could be nice by his own ways to them, although he would rather die than admit it even to himself.

Mikagami-sempai does care for us, although he doesn't show it that often.

Reluctantly, they settled themselves in a comfortable position on the sofas and closed their eyes to rest their body and wear out the fatigue that was eating them.

Seeing them settled in the living room, Tokiya slowly approached the only room upstairs where Fuuko was currently resting. He opened the door and found her panting heavily on the bed, the towel on her forehead had now dropped the side of her head and the blankets that was once covering her up to the chin was curled below her waist. Sweat continued to drench the night clothes she was in and made some strands of her hair to stick on her face.

Seeing the current state she was in, he quickly approached her bed and pulled the blankets to her chin. Then, he took the towel beside her head and soaked it in the cold basin of water placed on the side table. After squeezing the excess amount of water, he gently placed it back on her forehead. For a whole minute he just sat there at the side of her bed, staring at her face and noticing the emotions written all over it now that she was unconscious to mask them. Then, without thinking, he found his fingers working its way up to the side of her cheeks to brush the strands of hair from it. When he realized what he just did, his hand froze over her cheeks and he looked stunned at the moment.

What just happened back there? His mind questioned.

Before his mind could even think of a rational explanation for his actions, the door slowly opened and revealed to him Kagero.

Quickly composing himself, he stood up from the bed and turned around to face Kagero.

"How is she?" Kagero questioned, lowering her voice so as not to disturb the sleeping woman lying on the bed.

"Not good." He briefly replied, shaking his head slowly from side to side to indicate Fuuko's worsened state.

He watched as the immortal woman's eyes softened as she approached the bed where the former Fuujin wielder laid. He saw her gently caressing the tousled bangs on her forehead while the other hand went to touch her cheeks. He saw the softness of her gestures; like a mother would do to her sick child and he can't help but remember the way Mifuyu cared for him when he was sick.

Quickly dismissing the thought of his late sister, he focused his attention to the woman sitting at the edge of the bed and giving comforting gestures to Fuuko. It was as if the woman was trying her best to ease her pain with her touch but he knew that no matter what they do, they won't be able to take away her pain just like the way his own pain remains in his heart.

"Only Raiha could take away her pain." Kagero whispered in a low voice to avoid waking Fuuko up but still loud enough for the other conscious occupant of the room to hear. "And for the past two years, I was thinking that everything will be alright, now that Recca and Kurei are living under the same roof and putting aside what happened in the past and Uruha and Hokage surprisingly became close to each other."

He remained silent leaving the older lady to ponder whether he was affirming or opposing what she had just said.

"It will take a very long time before we see the Fuuko we have come to know before… now that Raiha is gone." Kagero continued when she realized that she will not receive a response from her companion.

"She'll get over it." He said, knowing that the girl's character is not the type that could easily be swayed by things like this.

"But not easily. She lost someone very dear to her. She just lost someone who makes her smile and I fear that her smiles might be buried together with Raiha."

Tokiya contemplated at what Kagero had just said then shrug his shoulders and left the room. How could he comment on that one when he, himself, was guilty of doing the same things when his sister died? The only difference between him and Fuuko was that she had her friends to worry about her and care for her while he didn't have anyone before and the only man who showed compassion to him turned out to be the man who planned his sister's death.


"How is she?" a deep baritone voice echoed around an empty office.

"Not good. She's burning with fever as of the moment. Mikagami's looking after her."

"Do you need me there?"

"No… We're already making a huge crowd here. Besides, Fuuko's apartment is not that big to hold us all in here."

"If there's anything that I can do, call me."

"I will… Thanks Kurei-niichan… I'll see you then…"

"Okay…" he said, clicking his phone off and putting it beside his table.

With a deep sigh, he buried his head on his hands and stayed like that for a minute, pushing aside the sudden rush of emotions in his chest. Then he ran his hands on his hair and focused his gaze on the file of papers in front of his desk. He intends to go back to his work but after the funeral and hearing about Fuuko's current state, he had lost his concentration and was left hoping that he could be there with her.


Fuuko's eyelids fluttered open revealing dark blue pools that still mirrored the sadness she was feeling deep inside. When she looked around the room, she noticed Yanagi looking at her worriedly from her seat beside her bed.

"Yanagi." She acknowledged her presence, quickly trying to hide her worries so as not to make her worry so much.

Yanagi smiled softly at her, consciously aware that she was trying to sound fine and hiding whatever she was feeling. "How do you feel?" she softly asked although she wasn't sure whether it was an appropriate question to be thrown at her at the moment.

"A lot better than yesterday." She replied while her hand instinctively went to her head and gently massaged the part under her palm.

"You mean, a week ago." Yanagi corrected her, restraining herself from lashing out at her friend and scold her for the stupid thing she did a week ago. "You were sick for one week, drifting in and out of consciousness from time to time." She added when her friend gave her a confused look.

"I was asleep for one week?" Fuuko frowned. "That long?"

Yanagi only nodded in response but the restraint she was holding to keep her self from questioning Fuuko on a topic that might disappoint her broke and ended up raising her voice at her friend not from anger but from concern. "Just what were you thinking staying out under the rain like that! You really had us worried about you! It doesn't feel good to be seeing you like this! This isn't you, Fuuko!"

Fuuko lowered her head and received all the scolding she was getting from Yanagi. Besides, she couldn't bear to see her face almost at the verge of crying especially when she's the reason for that.

"For God's sake say something! Tell us how you feel! Let us help you Fuuko! Let us try to understand what you're feeling and stop doing stupid things that isn't you!" she said, completely losing her control and letting uncontrolled sobs rack her body.

Fuuko heard the sobs coming from her friend. Uneasily, she pushed herself into a sitting position and reached out for Yanagi to embrace her and stop the sobs from coming.

"I'm sorry Yanagi… I wasn't myself during that time…"she apologized, gently rubbing her back to soothe her.

"Why won't you let us help you, Fuuko?" Yanagi cried, muffled by the sobs coming from her.

Fuuko refused to answer, thinking that there was no way they could help her. It isn't as easy as they think it is. Losing someone important isn't as easy as it sound to be.

After a few minutes more, Yanagi finally subside, getting a hold of herself and composing herself before she pushed the chair she was sitting at looked down at her friend. "I'll go downstairs to get your breakfast." She informed her before turning around and leaving her alone.

Fuuko stared at her retreating back and thought about what she said earlier.

If I was asleep for one week, then that means…

She was not able to continue the thought that was going in her head. She was scared of the truth slamming onto her face and hurting her, making her want to cry again. And all the while, she thought that she could wake up from the nightmare she was in a week ago. Now that the truth was slowly sinking in, she could also feel the pain starting anew in her chest.

No. She couldn't go on like that forever. She has to escape. She need some time to herself. She needs to recover from what she just experienced and Tokyo was no place for her to recover. Not when all their memories lingered in the four corners of this place. She has to go someplace where she can think and recover from all the pain. She has to go some place where she could forget.

Turning her head to the side table beside her bed, she knowingly eyed the phone on top of it until an idea came to her mind. With trembling fingers, she reached for the phone and dialled the number of the airline that could take her far from all the memories.


"Are you serious?" Recca asked the girl half-lying on the bed and looking at them with unwavering eyes.

She's dead serious alright. He thought when his friend didn't comment or burst out laughing and telling them that they're so stupid to fall for that one. Not that somebody in the room expects her to suddenly burst out laughing, that is.

"For how long?" Yanagi asked, concerned that her friend's idea might not be good for her yet still willing to support her all the way.

"I don't know." Fuuko shrugged her shoulders. "Until I have fully recovered, I guess, or maybe until I can jump around and, you know, be Fuuko again." She chuckled at her lousy sense of humour.

Yanagi saw her futile attempt to lighten up the mood. She felt bad for her friend and she felt bad to herself for she can't do anything but reach out and hold her hand in hers.

"I'm okay Yanagi. You don't have to be that worried." Fuuko assured her friend.

"Well, you can't blame her neechan." Kaoru commented, putting his hands at the back of his head and tried to avoid the scene in front of him.

Ganko, this time, climbed up the bed and stayed there beside Fuuko, wrapping her arms around her waist and leaning her small head against her chest. "I'm going to miss you." She whispered, recalling the times they share on the very same bed, since Fuuko had adopted her and treated her like her own little sister. "I can stay with Yanagi-neechan until you come back again."

Fuuko smiled down at the blonde girl hugging her close and silently thanking her for being so understanding. It wasn't everyone in her age to understand the current situation she was in. Ordinary girls her age will definitely throw tantrums or ask too many questions that would take her the whole day just to answer them all.

"So when are you leaving?" Domon asked.

"The day after tomorrow." She answered briefly.

"That soon, eh?"

Fuuko was about to explain to Domon her need to escape immediately when she saw Tokiya turning around to leave the room. "Mi-chan, where are you going?"

Tokiya didn't bother to turn around while he answer the question he knew would come his way once they realize that he intends to leave. "Home." And with that, he gently closed the door behind him and left them gaping behind his back.

For a moment, everyone left in the room was silent until the blonde girl stood up on the bed and glared at the closed door. "Mou, that was really rude!" Ganko stated then stuck out her tongue towards the door's direction.

"Well, it is Tokiya-niichan we're talking about here." Kaoru shrugged.

"And besides, he might be tired. He was after all the one taking care of Fuuko most of the times." Yanagi defended Tokiya's actions.

Fuuko's eyebrows furrowed and looked at Yanagi with confusion and astonishment written all over her face. "He helped taking care of me?"

"Well, yes. He seems to be the only one who could stay up so late among us, unlike me, Recca and Domon, who get sleepy right after midnight." Yanagi explained.

Fuuko's gaze went back to the closed door a few steps in front of her and can't help but think about what Yanagi had just said. It was very unlike Tokiya to be helping them out in times like this but she always knew that he cares for them, even a little bit.

So the ice is finally beginning to melt, right Mi-chan? She can't help but think as a smile slowly made its way across her face.

Kagero's sharp eyes noticed the smile on her face and she can't help but wonder if Tokiya has anything to do with it. It was, after all, her first genuine smile after Raiha's demise. A different thought suddenly made its way up to her head but she seems to find the idea absurd so she dismissed it and placed it at the back of her head.


"So, I guess, this is it." Fuuko sighed as she flashed her friends a sad smile.

Everyone came to see her off at the airport. Recca, Domon, Kaoru, Ganko, Tokiya, Kagero, Yanagi and even Kurei came just to see her off. They probably need the assurance that she'll be okay and to make her feel that she will be missed so dearly.

"Take care of yourself Kirisawa-san." Joker said giving her one of his flashing grins.

Kurei, however, seems to have a very different way of saying good-bye to her. Instead of just saying good-bye, he even stepped closer to her to have a little private talk with her before leaving.

"I'll be waiting for your return. By that time…, I hope you're back to Fuuko." He said before wrapping his arms around her waist and engulfing her in a, surprisingly, tight embrace.

Fuuko let herself be comforted in Kurei's embrace. He, after all, became very close to her ever since the day both sides decided to set aside their feud and live peacefully. After a long minute, Kurei gently pushed himself away and looked at her for the last time before she leaves. Then, just like those times when he bid her good-bye, he softly brushed his lips againsts her cheeks and whispered something to her ear.

"I've always been jealous of Raiha because of you."

Before Fuuko could react on what he said, he already had his back on her and was walking slowly away from her, leaving her gaping at his back with her mouth slightly ajar from astonishment due to her friend's sudden change of behaviour and weird parting words.

"What's wrong Fuuko?" Recca asked when he noticed that Fuuko suddenly became quiet and shocked at the same time.

Fuuko recovered from her state and quickly brushed away what she had just heard. "Nothing."

"Well, the flight you're about to board just paged its passengers." Recca said, looking directly at Fuuko. "I'll see you, then." He said before giving her a quick hug then turned around to follow his brother and wait for the rest in the car.

Yanagi, Kaoru and Ganko were the next to hug her and Fuuko couldn't help but wonder when she would be able to do that again. When she drew back, she noticed the tears on Yanagi and Ganko's eyes while Kaoru had his head down, his bangs covering his eyes.

"Hey, you promised that there will be no crying." She reminded them about their agreement before they went to the airport this morning.

Yanagi hastily wiped the tears from her eyes but she couldn't help the new wave of tears from misting what she had dried a second ago. "Gomen Fuuko but I really can't help it. Hiroshima is just too far from Tokyo."

"Well at least it is still in Japan, right?" she softly said as she started wiping her friend's tears from her eyes and preventing her own to pool her cobalt eyes.

Then, turning to Ganko, she kneeled down in front of the sobbing girl, whose face was contorted in a very funny way just to keep her self from crying. Gently, she brushed a few tendrils of golden locks from her cheeks and the simple gesture she meant to soothe her just made her tears flow freely down her cheeks. In a moment, Fuuko was trapped in a very tight embrace as Ganko sobbed her heart out against her shoulders.

"Hush now… Please…" she tried to comfort her despite the tears that were also slowly cascading down her cheeks. "I promise I won't be long. Who knows? Before you know it, I'm back again and we will go to the ice cream parlour together and I'll give you a treat."

"I don't want ice cream! I want you neechan!" Ganko's sobs were muffled against her shoulders.

Fuuko wanted to soothe her, to stop her from crying but how could she when she, herself, can't stop herself from doing so. She tried to muffle her sobs, biting down on her lower lip just to prevent each racking cry to escape her lips.

Yanagi, sensing the difficulty that she was having, gently pried Ganko from her and lead her back to the car to prevent further flow of emotions during her departure.

Fuuko gently collected herself from the ground and turned towards the boarding entrance of her airline. The moment she did, instead of the glassy doorway she was expecting, she saw Tokiya standing there, his face devoid of any emotion the rest had just shown earlier.

Well, it's Mi-chan we're talking about here…

"I'll see you then, Mi-chan." Fuuko cordially said her good-bye to the ensui wielder.

Tokiya just stared at her without moving and Fuuko couldn't help but wonder what was going on in his mind. The next moment she knew, he was already walking towards her, yet with the intention of leaving and letting her pass through the entrance he was blocking.

"What? No good-byes?" she mocked him when he reached her side.

Tokiya turned his head to her direction and for the second time in a span of three minutes, poignant cobalt met with frosty baby blue. "You're a coward." He hissed softly then resumed walking without another glance.

He said it without a hint of anger or mockery yet those softly spoken words, barely a whisper, created so much impact on her that she was still thinking about it as the stewardess ushered her to her seat.

Maybe I am…

But I can't help it…

I'm just not the same girl anymore without him…

As the plane picked up speed along the runway, Fuuko looked outside the window to her left and watched as the scenery before her flash in a blur, just like the way her memories with Raiha flashed in her mind and becoming a blur. Slowly, the plane took off from the ground at the same time Fuuko closed her eyes and let a solitary tear rolled down her cheeks. It will be the last one, she promised her self. It will be the last one that she'll shed for Raiha.

Gomen ne, Raiha…

But I have to leave…

To forget…

To be able to move on again…

I love you…

Good-bye…


A/N: well, what do you think? Reviews are welcome, so are suggestions… but I do hope you don't flame me though… thanks!

oh and before i forget, the italizized words at the first part of the chapter was a line from a song entitled "When the Last Teardrop Falls" by blaque...