Notes: I love Daisuke. I love Daisuke. Sure, he may be the second least attractive character in a series filled with bish, but he's the most realistic and responsive character in the series, plus, along with Kamui, he's really the only one who grows and changes as a character. This is a look at his relationship with Aoki, which I also happen to deeply, deeply love. Also: first X/1999 fanfic, I'm still getting my feet wet in the fandom.

Summary: Daisuke, Aoki, and living in the shadows.

Shadows.

Daisuke doesn't mind so much that he is merely Aoki's shadow, as while he is eclipsed by his uncle he is also undeniably there, and being a part of Aoki is far better than being whole alone. He's more muted, faded shades of grey and black instead of any of the brilliance that simply shines from his uncle, but it is worth it to simply be able to catch the scattered remains that sometimes fall or filter past. It is worth it, to be able to gaze up and be blinded by a quiet smile that is meant merely for him.

Aoki doesn't push Daisuke in the way his parents do in a desire for a son that possesses more power and less heart. They want him to be the perfect head for a clan that only a fool would believe was ever meant to be Daisuke's, and even the stars that he was born under had scoffed at such a notion. But his parents breathe delusion as though it is instead merely air, and even though Daisuke pretends he's beyond it all and that he simply doesn't care, he stills finds himself drowning in a whirlwind flooded with contradictions. He doesn't care, doesn't care, and it's because he doesn't that he joins the local school gang and reminds them all with his fists that the pressures mean nothing to him. He doesn't care, doesn't care, and so that he spends hours practicing the art or at the temple with the priestess is simply because he's falling, falling into endless eyes.

It has nothing to do with them. Nothing at all. It is fitting, since never once have their dreams and desires for his future ever had anything to do with Daisuke.

Aoki doesn't push. Aoki smiles and welcomes, waving a hand lightly over a field of wheat and watching quietly as the grains flutter at his command, turning the world before them into a wave of motion created solely for Daisuke. Daisuke breathes it all in as Aoki watches with warmth, and Daisuke smiles, and he welcomes.

With Aoki, his powers simply don't have meaning, so does he. More than that, he has a place.

It's as Aoki's shadow.

And it isn't dark or cold there, it's not even close. Instead, there's a calm that Daisuke finds nowhere else, and a special sort of quietness that encompasses the same warmth that each of Aoki's smiles do. It's a shadow where he grow and blossoms, learning and absorbing and defying, and Aoki's smile takes on something that Daisuke has never known before. Pride.

It's a smile he would do anything for.

Aoki tells him when they train that, one day; Daisuke's powers will surpass even what they are now, as they will become tainted by something deeper than skill and more akin to love. Aoki thinks that day may be sometime soon, and his somewhat sly smile says her name even though Aoki himself doesn't speak at all. If Aoki's words are true, and Daisuke has never once doubted the man before, then Daisuke knows that Aoki's words are also wrong.

Daisuke will never get any stronger than this, and it has nothing to do with the priestess. It's something he will never admit to his uncle, he can barely admit to himself, but none of that ever quite matters when all that is between them swirls on currents of their own making.

He thinks he might linger here in the shadows a little longer. Just a little.

A little is all he has.