From Far Forgotten

A/N: Welcome to the final chapter of From Far Forgotten! To all those who have stuck with this story, thank you, I hope you enjoy it. I don't if anyone remembers when this story was first published (other than me), but it's been a long journey for many people. All I want to say is, to all the wonderful fanfic authors who have AUs from long ago they haven't finished, go back and work on them! I probably have read them, and am waiting for more. :D

Chapter 10: Fuji's Memories (The Human)

"I forgot..." he whispered, oblivious to Mizuki's murderous glares. "I forgot he loved me... and so that love ceased to exist."

A smirk twisted once again on the data fiend's face as the panic inside him vanished. Of course he knew about the curse's base; Fuji had brought himself down.

"I forgot Tezuka's love."

His doubt fueled the curse. First he had forgotten... and then, once that precious feeling had vanished, Tezuka fell easily into the dark realm of the curse, forgetting he'd ever had someone to love.

Fuji had allowed it to happen. It was if he'd cast the curse on himself. If Tezuka, the most important person in his life had forgotten him, then nothing else mattered, not even his own existence...

He was in Mizuki's hands now. The chains around him constricted with the manager's will, digging painfully into his skin. His head fell back, his mouth dropped open in a silent scream, and he could feel Mizuki closing in on him, surrounding him, owning him...

And then there was a loud bang, and a crash, and someone yelling as the floor shook angrily. He heard a startled gasp, then something like a growl along with stomping feet, and the whack of someone being punched.

The remaining candles blew out in an instant, but though the room grew dark, his shadow cast against the wall as a bright light poured down on him from behind. Less than a second had passed, and then a body was falling, and he saw Mizuki crash onto the ground next to him with a hard thump. Something else flew into the wall and shattered.

Fuji took a few shocked breaths, then he felt the chains being torn off, except what he had thought were metal chains were no more than long white strips of paper.

Warm, strong hands took hold of his arms and pulled him from the shreds of paper. He was turned around and gently embraced by a firm, warm chest, cloaked in a familiar white and blue polo.


His whimper was hushed by a large hand placed against his cheek, his wide blue eyes caught by soft, trembling hazel. Heavy breaths shook the cold air, his chest flooded with relief as his eyes captured the visage of the one he'd wanted to see so badly, the one who was by some miracle holding him.

Tezuka looked so handsome without his glasses.

"You … you remembered..." Fuji whispered, and the glimmer swirling in those hazel orbs was enough to confirm everything he'd finally realized. I remembered that you love me, and so that emotion existed within you again. And then, you were able to remember me too...

They held each other in a moment of silence, only their breathing pulsing through the cold, stale air.

"But... how did you find me?" The question fell from his lip, laced with not only curiosity but worry. Just because Tezuka had remembered him didn't mean he'd developed Fuji-radar.

"This." Tezuka help up a small paper man, the lowest level of Shikigami. "Kawamura gave it to me after school. It led me to you. And this-" he held up two scraps of familiar looking paper. . . "was with it."

Fuji could tell at a glance who the shikigami belonged to. Onee-san. . . Taking hold of the papers, he saw that they were actually the same talisman slip, ripped in two...

Atobe. Brows wrinkled in pity, he blew lightly on the sheets, erasing the name inscribed in ancient characters. It was no longer needed as a pole - he had a much stronger support holding him now.

His hazel eyed lover helped him to stand, draping a regular's jersey upon his bare form. They stood in a cultish circle, drawn in white chalk around the floor, with the burnt out candles placed carefully at five points. Glancing around, he realized they were in a small bedroom, probably Mizuki's dorm room at St. Rudolphs, and the occupant of said room was sprawled miserably on the floor. By the awkward angle of his flailed limbs, it didn't look like the purple loving manager would be regaining consciousness any time soon.

Tezuka helped him walk forward, but as soon as he stepped outside the circle, a burning sensation flashed white hot through him, lasting for only a second, as the last of Mizuki's spell cut completely away from his body. He felt so light and so heavy at the same time, and would have fallen if Tezuka had not taken him up in a hug. Tezuka... was not asking anything...

But this was not the place and now was not the time for explanations, from either of them. They both remained in mutual silence as Tezuka bent to scoop up his glasses from the floor. Only one lens remained, the other shattered into shards embedded into the nearby rug.

Slipping his hand into Tezuka's right pocket, he took out the handkerchief he'd given his buchou last Christmas, knowing Tezuka always carried it with him. He carefully wrapped up the pieces of glass, not wanting to leave anything of Tezuka's in this place, cupping the tiny parcel in his hands as his beloved led him outside.

Fuji realized what was going to happen a fraction of a second before they stepped through the room's doorway. The white scrawl circling the room glowed with one last flicker of brilliance before going out, and Fuji gasped as Tezuka's jacket slipped - not from, but through his shoulders.

Tezuka stopped with a jerk, his lips loosening in concern, a slight tremble in them and in his eyes as he entwined Fuji's fingers with his own. The tacit question in his eyes made Fuji smile, just slightly, despite his latest predicament. Even now, Tezuka was holding in his fear and lack of understanding, staying strong, though Fuji could see how he really felt, how confused and worried he was. But they were still touching - Tezuka's hand stayed firm in his own.

"My body's not really here," Fuji quietly explained, looking up into the soft brown eyes of his lover.

"The spells around this room connected me to my physical form, so Mi... Mizuki could touch me, but ... I broke that connection when I stepped through the wards. It should be... my body should have reappeared where I ... well, where I left it."

Tezuka thought for a seconds, then nodded. "My room." He squeezed Fuji's hand, his silent way to ask another question.

Fuji smiled, genuinely at this little bit of affection. This was the Tezuka he knew... always speaking without words. If only Fuji had believed, had understood what all Tezuka's little signs of caring were trying to tell him...

"You remember me now," he softly whispered, quieter than a humming bird's wings. "And we're connected in a way like no other. That's why you can touch me like this. But my body isn't here... I need to take it back."

His eyes filled with determination, gaining strength from Tezuka's reaffirming presence, the emotions that were strong enough to touch even his formless soul.

Tezuka frowned, clearly not understanding. "Shouldn't this all be over once we retrieve your body in my room?"

"No..." Fuji breathed out coldly, his fear turning to anger as his mind began to churn. "This won't end until I face the true caster... the only one who could truly be behind this."

Tezuka stiffened, his eyes narrowing as he growled, "True caster?"

"Yes... My grandfather."

Fuji muttered some spells, changing his form so that he was back in his regular's uniform. His spiritual form was only a projection, anyway, and for the first time since this all began, he found he had the clarity of mind to control it.

He began to explain as they headed towards Tezuka's. No one else could see him, so it was convenient that Tezuka was a man of little words - he wouldn't look like he was talking to himself.

He told Tezuka about everything that had happened those last several days... how he had seen the regulars, and his family, and Mizuki... and Atobe. Tezuka had been shocked, which meant his eyes slightly widened, but he said nothing other than nod. The squeeze he gave Fuji's hand served as reassurance - Tezuka knew who he had chosen.

"Then Mizuki said... and Atobe too... they made me realize that I'd forgotten... I forgot that you loved me, and..."

"Fuji..." Tezuka stopped walking, and turning towards him. Fuji could see it in his eyes, an overflowing guilt, bubbling out along with his words, "I'm so sorry... I can't believe... I forgot you, I can't believe it, I can't forgive myself. It's not because I don't... I don't know why..."

"No." Fuji felt his heart breaking, his eyes welling up with tears as he saw how painful, how overcome with remorse his lover felt. "Oh Tezuka, it was my fault, it was always mine... I... you forgot me, but I - I forgot you first. I forgot you loved me, and that love ceased to exist. I was just so... scared." He could feel it, all his insecurities, all his fears from the day since they'd gotten together spilling out. "I thought you would forget me if you left. If you went to Germany, or when we graduate... or when someone found out, like your parents, and forced us apart. I was so afraid, and I didn't trust you...

"I know it was stupid... I should have realized, should have trusted that you did love... do, even though you've never put it into words -"

"Fuji Syuusuke." Tezuka placed his hands on both sides of Fuji's head, turning up his chin and staring intently into those clear blue eyes. "I love you. Never forget that."

They stared at each other for a moment, taking in the look on each other's faces. Fuji had said those words to Tezuka so many times, and he felt like he didn't want to say them again, not now, not until he was back in his own body. But it was true, they both realized - it was different in words, and Fuji could feel his heart pound, as fast and hard as it had been when he'd first made his confession.

Tezuka's face was as stony as always, but as always, Fuji could see more emotion in his eyes, in the slight tremble of his pupils. His lover wasn't embarrassed, much to Fuji's pleasure, but they both seemed to understand that this was the chip in their relationship. They spent too much time relying on their ability to read the feelings of each other, rather than flat out speaking them.

They walked the entire way to Tezuka's house. They didn't want to worry about dealing with a bus or a train, though it was late enough in the day that most of the crowds would be gone at this hour. They had much more to discuss, anyway.

"I was watching the paper man, when I began to remember," explained Tezuka. "It was, the memories were just suddenly there, back, a part of me. I perhaps should have been more confused, but I knew you were gone, that you'd disappeared for weeks, and that I had to find you to get you back. I thought the paper man had made me remember, so I followed it, believing it would lead me to you."

Fuji nodded. "It wasn't actually the shikigami... that is the name of this... but I can't imagine the timing was a coincidence. This shikigami belongs to my sister... she's been helping me all along."

"I also found this," Tezuka pulled out two small scraps of paper, that had obviously once been one. "The paper... shikigami, waved, and the paper attached to it."

"This talisman... Atobe had it," Fuji took the scraps of paper from Tezuka, that had clung to the little origami man. "It had my name on it... the shikigami probably used what was left of its magic to find me." He rubbed it, his lips deepening into a frown. "'s more than a pole..." He sighed heavily, feeling a weight grow in his heart. "My grandfather... he did something horrible... oh god, he must have done this to Mizuki too, that would explain..."

Tezuka looked at him questioningly.

"These are kankikujyunjou. They manipulate emotions." Fuji ran his finger along one of the halfs, and it rustled as if torn around by a circular wind. This required far more power than he used before - Fuji realized now how blinded he'd been to his grandfather's manipulations.

After the rustling settled, Tezuka suddenly found a second piece of paper peel away from the one he had, thin and almost translucent, but there was writing on it, a word scrawled in a language he didn't understand.

"Roughly, the closest translation for this would be amorous..." Fuji shook his head, his eyes cringed in a mixture of sympathy and disgust. "What started as faint interest on Atobe's point, was amplified a hundred fold into a raging desire. It's not his fault he felt that way... my grandfather forced this on him. ... And Mizuki... he must have had something like this too. I know my grandfather, he is a buddha of patience, he would have planned this for a very long time..."

"Why would he do this to his grandson?" Tezuka's voice was it's typical monotone calm, but Fuji could hear the anger within it.

"It's... a test," Fuji sighed, knowing he'd have to come to terms with this sooner or later. No... he had to figure this out now, before they reached Tezuka's house. He had a bad feeling...

"I come from a long line of onmyouji. My grandfather said to be a distant relative of Abe no Seimei, who founded the religion. Everyone in my family - my mother, my sister, even my brother, and of course, myself... we all have inherited his power.

"I have been trained, for a very long long as I can remember, even, to control my abilities. I can do... well, most of what my grandfather has done, I can do as well. I have used kankikujyunjou before, many times. When I was younger, and far too immature to have such powers, I used them for fun... but those times are harmless compared to what I've done... more recently. I'm a practicing onmyouji, and I've done... so many, many things. I can't..." He shook his head, trying to shake out the darkness he felt overwhelm him. "I know what this is. My grandfather... for him, this is no more than a test. I'm of age, now, to fully envelop my role ... as an onmyouji."

Tezuka growled, "But this kind of test - "

"- Could kill me, yes." Fuji crumpled the papers in his hand, letting them turn to ash before dissolving into the wind. "But if I failed, then my grandfather would easily be rid of a useless heir. It's killing two birds with one stone; for him, either path is a benefit.

"I've been in his way, you see, of Yuuta's training, and in some way even Yumiko's. I didn't want my family to take on this burden... so I forced my grandfather to focus his training and attention on me. My parents wanted that as well, thinking I was more talented than my siblings. But with this curse... either I'd prove myself, and complete my training. Or … eventually, my family would have forgotten more and more about me... and then they wouldn't have to feel the pain of my failure."

"You don't really believe that, do you?" Tezuka's voice rumbled low, a comforting force as solid as a boulder. "No matter what the curse does, to our minds, to our memories - Syuusuke, you are far from forgotten."

Lit blue eyes turned towards him. "Kunimitsu?"

"As terrified as I was when I realized you were gone, and that I needed to find you... I was in far more pain during the time I'd forgotten you'd existed."

He wasn't lying. Fuji couldn't tell if he felt joy or horror hearing his lover's confession, the depth of his tone and length of his sentence more than enough indication of how horrible Tezuka had truly felt, though he had acted normal before his peers. hadn't been normal. Fuji had fooled himself into thinking that, but Tezuka had been far more harsh, and far more distant with his teammates than the honey haired brunette could ever remember.

The rest of the trip went quickly, and it was only when they stood at the gateway to Tezuka's home that Fuji let go of his hand.

"I can feel it... my grandfather's power." Fuji grimaced. "I know there must be more to this test... from his point of view, I've almost failed. My sister... and you... were the ones to save me."

"Why must you pass by his standards?" Tezuka's anger even disturbed his usual monotone. "We're going to fight this together."

Looking up at his bespectacled lover, Fuji smiled and re-grasped his hand. "Let's go." I can't lose, he thought to himself. Even if Tezuka forgets me, he'll still be in pain... I have to remember that, and fight whatever traps Grandfather has set for me...

They went up the stairs, hand in hand, Fuji pulling slightly ahead. Tezuka opened the door - they'd learned on their way that Fuji couldn't touch anything, other than his beloved.

Fuji had tried to imagine what he would have to face - tiny shikigami, attacking them in hoards; black magic cursing blindness and whatever other ailments upon them; perhaps even his grandfather himself, ready for a battle of wits and magic tossed at each other.

Tezuka's room was as calm as his house. All that was there was Fuji's body.

His body, standing over at the window, even though he wasn't in it. His visage, turning to smile at them, that same, close lipped smile he always gave to his opponents when calmly playing a match. His light brown locks, shifting just slightly about his own chin, framing his own face, somewhat covering his eyes, which were obscured into upturned crescents, hidden as he always hid them from the outside world.

His voice, coming from his own small lips, talking to them, soft and effeminate - "Hello, me."

"Syuusuke," confusion seeped through Tezuka's voice as he glanced between the Fuji by his side, and the identical, if not far more real looking Fuji across the room. "What -"

The smile vanished, and the Fuji by the window revealed his eyes, a boiling shade of red that was nothing like cerulean that should have been there. The red eyed Fuji lifted his hand, and power in the form of hailing wind burst through the room, flinging about everything in the room, enveloping the room with a hurricane the spiralled towards them at a hurling pace. No more than a spirit, Fuji was unaffected, but Tezuka was flung outside, the door slamming shut behind him.

Fuji took a deep breath, willing himself to ignore the pounding and faint shouts of his name from Tezuka who was locked outside the door, and locked eyes with his red eyed doppelganger. He'd known he'd have to face this test alone.

"You will return my body to me." His voice shook with power, his words coupled with his determination weaving into a spell.

But his double merely chuckled, lightly, identical to the sound he himself would make when facing a far weaker opponent, and the demand spell dissolved away.

"Such weak determination," his fake laughed. "You can't even tickle me with magic like that. You don't even deserve this body, not after you abandoned it."

"My grandfather forced me out of that body," Fuji charged, unblinking, his voice as steady as his glare. "And then he let you, a wandering spirit, slither into it. Your real body is gone, you must have died along time ago, and taking over mine will not give you back the life you've lost. The ones who remember you will not know you in this form - be gone."

He held out his hand, palm forward and fingers spread, the air around it shimmering with the power of his command. Even without his talismans or the time to chant, he felt powerful in his spiritual form, unbound by the physical world, he himself was pure magic. He had no need to translate that magic into something solid, not when his opponent was also a spirit.

Yet despite his gleaming barrage, the sanguine eyed being merely laughed, even imitating Fuji's hand gestures as it folded his arms and rested its chin against its fingers.

"Why would I return to that drab, boring life," The spirit chuckled, still with Fuji's voice. "When I can be Fuji Syuusuke? Tennis prodigy, onmyouji, social enigma - in fact, I bet I can be an even better Fuji Syuusuke than you ever were. Better, and more loved."

"I'll beat you," Fuji declared, never letting his eye contact go. "I'll rip you from my body, and take back the life that's mine. I'll protect Tezuka -"

"Protect him?!" The spirit laughed, loudly, not in the soft, graceful tones of the brunette, but in a hollow, malicious voice that echoed strangely in the small space. "From what, yourself?!" It almost gurgled, bending double over its stomach. "How could you protect him, when you've caused him so much pain?!"

Fuji's nostrils flared, water filming over his eyes as he charged, "I won't allow him to feel the pain of forgetting me again -"

"He won't!" The spirit grinned, "Don't you see? He won't forget you. He'll have me, his lover, Fuji Syuusuke. It won't be like before, with that silly lack of existence curse. This time, all your friends, your family, your sex pet - they won't notice any difference, since there won't be anything to forget." The grin turned maniacal, his white teeth gleaming along with those wide, red eyes. "This time, they'll have me."

"No!" Fuji's breaths came out in fast, hot spurts. "It's not the same, a spirit like you, you're malignant, you'll break from your facade of being me and harm them -"

"Not nearly as much as you already have." The spirit grew calm, its smile waning, the visage returning to what most people saw when they looked at Fuji Syuusuke - close lipped, smiling, eyes upturned - calculating and calm. "You saw what this curse has done to them. How much pain and distress they felt, not knowing what had happened, not knowing anything about why."

It stepped towards him, its smile widening just slightly. "And it's all your fault.

"You forgot first. You didn't trust Tezuka... he loves you, but do you really love him? For you to carelessly forget his feelings."

For every step it took towards him, Fuji found himself drifting a step back, his mouth unmoving, his mind producing no words.

"It's your fault they were affected, your fault they suffered. Because you didn't keep your distance, because you made them care about you, even though you were taught, as an onmyouji, that you could never truly be close to anyone... "

He had to say something. Words were power, he had to use words...

"It's pathetic, really. All that training... and you didn't notice it was your grandfather creating the curse. Do you even wonder why? Oh, it must be obvious to you now that I say it. He made it that way. He controlled your thoughts so that you couldn't think, couldn't imagine that it was, even though his essence was all over those talisman. Who else would have the power to target you so carefully? So patiently?

"He waited until you were outside the wards placed in your home. He made your family members alter their wards, so that they would be affected by the curse and wouldn't become poles. Isn't that funny? Your own family abandoned you, let this happen to you. Of course they did... you're so pathetic, you didn't notice, you didn't realize.

"You were warned, too. You've been trained for this - you let yourself get distracted. By tennis. By sex. What a stupid, hormonal teenager you are. All you care about is your boyfriend, throwing yourself all over him. Such an easy chink in your armor to exploit. You threw yourself at him like a whore, without even believing he loved you. You even denied him that chance... you forced him to forget his love, by forgetting it yourself first. You hurt him. He'll always remember this trauma, and it'll always be all your fault.

"It won't be the last time you hurt him. Every time you try to be normal, live normally, with sports and school and romance, this is what will happen. You were born with too many gifts to simply be let go. You refuse to use them - that makes you even worse. Worse than someone who has no gifts but tries his hardest. And you deny those - like your brother - from using their gifts, saying it's to protect them, when really you're just afraid. Afraid of being outdone. Afraid your brother might be stronger than you, so you let him go untrained.

"So much for everything you were given... you're a failure. You weren't able to defeat the curse. You don't deserve to be an onmyouji."

The spirit was no more than a foot away from him now, in his own body, using his own hand to push against his chest and press him into the door. He could no longer hear the pounding, or Tezuka shouting... maybe his lover had given up on him.

"You don't need this body anymore, Fuji Syuusuke. I'll take it.

"I'll be Tezuka's lover... a far better lover than the only one he's had. I'll never hurt him, like you have, like you always will. I'll be good to him, and trust him, trust in his love, always there to let him love me, adore me.

"Nor will I forget my family, my responsibilities to them, and to my own abilities. It'll be beautiful, a beautiful new life for me, and I'll live it so much better than you have."

He could hardly even hear the spirit now, it was as if his ears were ringing, but he couldn't hear any ringing, all sounds from the world were muffled, like a thick sheet had been wrapped around his head.

It seemed to affect his eyes, too. The room was going blurry, he could barely make out the features on his own face before him, even though the spirit had place his nose only a few inches away.

"Some tensai." The spirit's words sounded like echos, like they were mumbled a hundred miles away. "You can't protect anyone, you can't even protect yoursel..."

He couldn't see anything but a blur of lights, and even those seemed to be fading. He couldn't hear any more, either. If he had had any feeling, any mimicking of a physical form as his soul had done up till now, it was gone, numbed to nothing, from his toes to the tip of his ears. He couldn't feel himself breathing, couldn't tell if he had a mouth to breath from. Even as a spirit, breath had form, had power...

But he had nothing.

No hands, no feet, no face - no eyes, ears, tongue, or nose. He tried to think of his friends, the people who would miss him, but their faces were blurry, and when he tried to draw the memories closer, instead they dissolved. He had no friends, he never had, he'd never deserved any.

His family, too, was cold to him. They knew the things he'd done, the darkness of the curses, his cruel manipulations. They were happy to forget him, that he'd ever been their son, that they'd ever had a middle child. That wasn't so bad, he realized... after all, he'd forgotten them too.

He had to have parents, he reasoned... but they were gone, now, not even a memory. And his lover...

As if someone could ever love him...

He was nothing.

No, he was almost nothing.

He was still just a little bit of something, he realized, because he felt pain.

He felt pain, in his hand. He had a hand, and it was able to feel pain.

He smelled iron. He knew it was iron, because it smelled like blood. Perhaps it was blood, he wondered, instead of iron, and he brought up his hand to his mouth, because he had a mouth, he realized his did, and he licked it. It tasted salty, and like iron, and he knew it was blood, his blood, from his hand, which was cut and bleeding.

And he could smell it, because he had a nose, and a face. A face for his nose to be on.

He heard a clink, the sound of glass, pieces of glass clinking together. They had fallen when he had moved his hand, fallen against each other and onto the bed. He knew he was on a bed, he could feel it, a mattress soft and warm below him.

He was lying down on a bed, he knew it. He reached out with his hand - there was the glass, cutting into his fingers, tiny little pieces, and he felt he should know what they were. He did know, they were pieces from a lens, a broken glass lens, he remembered because below them he could feel the soft cotton of a handkerchief, his handkerchief that he'd weaved tiny spells of protection into.

The handkerchief... it had stayed with him, solid in his hand, carrying the little pieces of glass, even when Tezuka's jacket had passed through him, and he hadn't been able to touch anything else, because it held his own magic inside of it.

"... Te..." He breathed, gasping, choking, trying to make his lungs work, to take in air. He could breath, it hurt, it was hard, but he could do it.

He tried to talk, and managed a cough, feeling his head lull to the side. He knew who Tezuka was. He wasn't going to forget. He know Tezuka was the one person who loved him.

"... Ku... ni..." His attempt to form syllables came out as more coughs. He felt a pressure on his hand, something warm, another hand, taking his, holding it.

"... -suke. Syu..." He could hear. The voice first sounded like it was coming through water, but it was getting more and more clear. "... ke. Syuusuke!"

"... Kunimitsu..." Fuji could feel his eyelids, so heavy, refusing to open, refusing to let him wake, but he had to, he wanted to, he wanted to see light...

He could see it, light, just barely, coming through his lashes as he slowly cracked them open... light... it was so beautiful...

An unfocused collection of lights was above him, but it was becoming more focused, more clear, he could see more now that his eyes were almost fully open, the familiar face so blurry above him, mouthing his name, calling him...

"Kuni...mitsu..." Speaking hurt, his throat hurt, it was so dry, so coarse, as if it hadn't been used in days. "I don't know... how you could love me, but... I know you do."

"Of course I do." Tezuka held his hand, and Fuji could only chuckle weakly as he realized how heavy his body felt, how hard it was to get up from the bed.

But he had to get up. His memories were coming back to him now... only a little bit further, if he had lost himself only a little more, he would have forgotten everything, and ceased to exist.

He knew everything, now, could see everything, and understand it - and he knew he had one more thing to do.

He pulled himself up, wincing as a sharp pain shot through his hand.

"You're bleeding," Tezuka calmly informed him, helping him sit up and taking hold of his wrist. The bespectacled tennis captain carefully checked the wound for any remaining shards of glass, putting aside the ones on the comforter, then used his handkerchief to tie up Fuji's hand. Smiling gratefully, Fuji swept his feet off the bed, using the sharp ache in his hand and the confidence of his lover to fuel his will to get moving.

He was barely on his feet, when a light wind lifted up his strands of hair, and a feeling of power enveloped the room.


Standing before him, in the formal garbs of an onmyouji, white, loose garments that puffed out from the stiffness of their cotton, the tall, black hat imperiously rising from his head, covering his pulled back, tied up hair. Fuji's grandfather looked eternally young, in this form, anyway, his black hair and blue eyes a perfect, chiseled image of an almost formless face - smooth skin, thin lips, neither smiling nor frowning - not happy, not sad, not disappointed, not impressed. His grandfather simply was.

Tezuka was gone. The room was gone. Everything around them was simply white. This was a space just for them, a space where only they could see each other, hear each other - talk to each other.

"You succeeded," came his grandfather's echoing, fathomless voice. It filled the endless space, and at the same time was absorbed by it, gone in the instant it was made. "You overcame my curse. Fuji Syuusuke, you are worthy of the title of Abe."

Steeling his jaw, Fuji glared up with cerulean orbs of his own. "Your curse failed, yes. The people who loved me helped me overcome it. I won't disappear. But, I do not believe I passed your test -"

"It was your power that woke you up," the onmyouji continued, unperturbed. "The spells you wove into the fabric you gave to your lover - they were your final protection. You have learned your lesson - always to be prepared, in every way. Vigilance can only go so far. You have created connections - those who would aid you. Left pieces of your power scattered about, to be there in your time of need. And you were born in the possession of a great quantity of magic. I acknowledge you, now, as my one true heir.

"You will, from here, enter into the world of onmyouji. You will cast aside all of the unnecessary things, anything and anyone that can bring you down - not only for yourself, and for the greatness you are about to achieve, but for their protection, as well. You have learned that there is a price to pay for power.

"But fear not. For this duty is not without rewards. A lover, one lover, shall always be yours. The one you have chosen had proven himself as well. Your sister will continue the line. I have great pride in you, all three of my daughter's children. You have proven yourself worthy.

"You are about to embrace the most important, most potent position in all of Japan. I have for nearly a century been the spiritual guardian of all the great families our nation, of all our great treasures, against the demons and otherworldly beings that would harm it. I have saved mankind, countless times, and this great dignity, this honor that is like no other, no trophy or medal or achievement, this I grant to you. I now -"

"Stop." Fuji shut his eyes, knowing his grandfather would not listen to him otherwise. "You misunderstand me. I don't care about all those things. You hurt my friends. You hurt my family. And frankly, I would rather stay to protect all that is around me, and everything I have right now, then to be some servant of all those wealthy pricks."

"You -"

"I don't accept anything. Go away - right now, I just want to be with the people I love, who are waiting for me."

Fuji raised his hand, feeling power like he had never known flow up from his heels and out through his fingertips. His grandfather - well, the image of his grandfather - faded to white, and then the white, which was all around him, faded back into Tezuka's room, back to where he'd been but a moment before.

He saw, where his grandfather had been, an ornate origami koi fish, twisting as if it leapt from a pond - a far more powerful shikigami than one his sister or he himself could make - with red drops for its eyes. It gave one last tremble in the air, before vanishing into the ground, as if the carpet were the pond's surface.

Tezuka was staring at him, doubtlessly unaware of what had just transpired. Fuji smiled, and wrapped his arms around him in a hug.

"There - Now, it's over."

A/N: Merry Christmas!

I realize it's been four years since the last update... seven since this fic started. But I always meant to finish it. This Nanowrimo, I forced myself to finish before starting on my actual story. XD; So... here you go! Hope it didn't disappoint... or have too many plot holes. -sweatdrop-

And yes, there is an epilogue. ;)