L-chan's notes: This was previously posted on livejournal, and I'm putting it here to share with my fellow Tomouya fans. I hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: The characters are CLAMP's. I just borrowed them for a bit.
The Greatest Power
They—whoever they are—say that a man wants to marry a woman just like his mother. I've come to realize that's true. Your mother is the first person to ever love you. To ever give you that love unconditionally. To put your needs above hers, and to make you the center of her world. She is the one to teach you kindness and compassion, caring and understanding. And she is the first person you ever love. It's that kind of safe love you spend the rest of your life trying to find again.
Maybe on a psychological level that's unhealthy and unrealistic. Maybe it creates and ideal that can never be realized. And maybe not everyone is lucky enough to have a mother like that. But it just makes them crave that kind of love more. Everyone deserves to be loved like that.
After a couple of missteps, I know I've finally found it. But it was those same missteps that make me insecure about it. How do I know for sure, one hundred percent, that this time will be different? That this time, I won't be disappointed?
We're sitting under the cherry trees near the university. She'd finished her classes early, and I'd snuck out of work with a relatively believable excuse, so we were able to meet for lunch. I let her choose the spot, and she led me here, picnic blanket and specially made bento in hand. Scattered around the park are a few others enjoying the warm spring afternoon and the gentle breeze that causes cherry blossoms to fall around us.
I look at her as she lies stretched out on the blanket, her legs swinging back and forth in the air as she sketches the scene before her. Every delicate petal, every leaf of each individual branch is drawn meticulously. "Is that for your art project?" I ask stupidly, breaking the silence that settled over us after we'd finished our lunch.
"No, just for fun," she answers. Long, curling locks of her lavender hair falls over her shoulders, and she brushes them back absently as she tries to finish her drawing.
It has been pointed out to me on many different occasions and by many different people that she is the spitting image of my mother. In particular, it has led to a lot of teasing from my sister, and most notably my father, who asked if he needed to watch his back. He thought he was being funny. He wasn't. It wasn't something I'd ever noticed, but now, of course, I see it all the time.
What they say is true after all.
She is like my mother in many ways. Her appearance is just a small part of it. (In fact, her eyes aren't even the same color, as I often defensively reply, which only leads to more teasing.) But I don't know how anyone can claim that the physical resemblance is all there is.
She has a kindness that I've never witnessed anywhere else since my mother died. Everyone matters to her, from the maid who serves afternoon tea to the woman who runs the art supply store to her best friend to her mother. Everyone is treated with the same consideration and respect. And she has so much empathy for others. She can tell how someone is feeling just by looking at them, and she knows exactly what to say to make them feel better. She has something... something that makes you believe. It isn't anything specific, but it's there.
And she has a quiet loveliness that makes me feel inferior in her presence. It's almost as if she is beyond anything on this earth. She's from another place—a place of beauty and warmth and gentleness. She knows so much. She understands everything. No philosophy is beyond her. She is philosophy. She is wisdom.
She is love.
And that is why I'm afraid. I shouldn't be, but I am. She is so much better than me. She doesn't have these same doubts and fears.
I lean back against the tree and rub one of the fallen petals between my fingers until the tip of my thumb turns pink. Though that could just be in my imagination. "Why do you love me?" I ask. It wasn't something I'd meant to say out loud, but it's too late now. I see her pencil stop in mid-stroke as my words reach her.
She closes her sketchbook and turns around to face me. There's a mischievous twinkle in her violet eyes, and I can tell she's struggling to keep her expression neutral. "Well, the sex is pretty great," she answers.
"No, seriously," I say.
"You're so adorable when you're insecure," she says, and I know that within her teasing, she's letting me know that I have no reason to feel that way.
"Why aren't you ever insecure?" I ask anyway.
"Because I know you," she says, as if that's an answer. She comes to sit beside me now, and though one of the groups nearby starts making a lot of noise in their frivolity, I don't hear any of it. I'm only focused on her, and waiting for her to answer me. "Why do I love you? Because I do," she says. The word "dummy" is left off the end of that sentence, but it's implied in her tone.
"Is that enough?"
"No. Of course, it isn't." She rests her head on my shoulder, and I can smell the soft scent of her perfume. I close my eyes and let it become my whole world. "I think people try to tell us that it is enough," she continues, "but it's not true. It's a myth people cling to, and they only end up disappointed. They think that you can love somebody and that love should be able to conquer anything. That nothing can get in the way of it. And that's a very childish view to hold."
There is something so beyond about her. She has wisdom that no other nineteen-year-old can possibly possess. Nineteen-year-olds are supposed to be off drinking and neglecting their studies and trying to figure out who the hell they are. But she already knows. She has self-possession and assurance that most people never find.
"I love you," she says again. Each time I hear it, I believe it more. It's something I need. "But for us to be together, there has to be more than that. We have to have the same goals in life, the same values, the same passions and interests and desires. And we do. And we can give each other something that no one else can. That's love.
"I want a family," she continues. "And I know you do, too. That's something we share. That's something that will keep us together."
I nod, and with my arm around her, I hold her closer. "I love you," I say, apropos of nothing and everything.
"I know you do," she answers. "But why?" She looks up at me with a smile that rivals the sun in warmth. "If you get to ask, so do I."
"Because you make me feel like I matter," I tell her. "Because you make me feel like I can do anything, and you'll still be here." And so much more than that. Because she is the center of the chaos we call life. When I look at her, I see one of those films where time is sped up, people are moving quickly and appear to be nothing more than blurs across the screen, while the sun rises and sets within a matter of seconds, and yet, within all of that, she is completely still. She is the calm in the middle of the storm. With her, I feel peace.
"You can do anything," she says. She pauses for a moment before continuing her earlier thoughts. "The reason I love you is because I feel safe with you. I feel like you'll protect me. And I don't mean that I trust you with my life, though I do. I trust you with my heart. That's so much more valuable."
I can't find words to answer her. But I know now that that's what I've been looking for since I first asked my question.
"The thing is," she says, "you have great power. The greatest power there is."
"Yes," she answers. "You have the power to hurt me more than anyone else in this world can. If I didn't love you, you wouldn't have that power."
That's when I realize what she's been saying. What I've experienced my whole life. Love is giving someone the power to hurt you and trusting them not to use it. That was a power I'd never truly had. And if I have it now, I am never going to use it.
She looks at me now, waiting for me to say something. I can see everything she's told me in her eyes—the love, the trust. And I can see the things I need—the calm, the understanding. And I can see the great power that she holds because of the love I have for her—the power to hurt me. It's all there. Everything.
Now, I know. Now, I am sure.
"Does that answer your questions?" she asks, and I hear that bit of teasing come back into her voice. She always indulges me when I get like this.
"Yes, but I have one more."
"Okay. What is it?"
"Will you marry me?"