Language of Flowers
Language of Flowers

By Maria Szabo

Disclaimer:  The Characters and storylines of X/1999 are the property of CLAMP, their publishers and their distributors.  This is a work of fan fiction, and no profit is being made from it, nor is any infringement intended.  Please don't sue!

Part 1

    It was late in the evening by the time they finally got back to Ichigaya.  The sun had long since set, but the base for the Japan Self Defense Force was still a hive of activity.  A line of trucks pulled into the gate and rumbled past the sentry.  They made their way towards the last line of buildings, finally grinding to a halt in front of the barracks, the tires screeching in protest to the uncaring pavement.

     Kusanagi Shiyuu roughly shook the shoulder of the man dozing next to him.

    "Hey, Yamaguchi."


    "Wake up.  We're back."

     "Um.  Thanks."  Yamaguchi blinked and shook the sleep from his head.  "Sorry."

     "No Problem."

    The other guys were already jumping out of the back of the truck and forming up with the rest of the unit for final instructions.  Kusanagi followed suite, landing lightly on his feet and taking his place in the ranks.  He took a moment to stretch—it had been a long day and the recent earthquakes had made the roads very bad.  The ride back from Shinjuku had been jarring.  He was surprised that Yamaguchi could sleep through it.  He also hoped that the Captain kept his nightly dispensation of wisdom short this time.  The unit had spent the last few days helping to clear the debris of what was once the Shinjuku highrises, coordinating with the Earthquake Disaster Relief Team, some troops borrowed from the US Marines and several independent search-and-rescue teams.  Everyone had been putting in long hours.

     When the men had come to attention, the Captain, a fairly young man with an inflated sense of self-importance, began to speak, pacing in his usual nervous manner.

     "I know you're tired, so I'll keep this brief.  You did good work today, but there's a lot more waiting for us.  Fortunately, the government has allowed troops to be brought in from Itami and Kengun to back us up.  Please continue your hard work.  Get well rested tonight—we muster at 0400.  Dismissed."

    Yosh!"  the men intoned as the Captain took his leave. 

    "0400.  Great, just great." Muttered Yamaguchi as he fell into step with Kusanagi's larger stride. 

     "Life in the force, soldier."

     "Yeah, yeah. Should'a known I'd get no sympathy from you."

     "Then quit complaining."  Kusanagi's words held no malice.  He'd worked with Yamaguchi before, back in Hokkaido, and was used to the smaller man's quirky nature. "You'll be up at 0200 anyway."

    "Son of a bitch." Replied Yamaguchi in a cheerful tone.  "Hey, where're you goin?"

     "Post office.  No need fighting for the showers."

     "But that's on the other side of the base…shit, you're crazy.  You know that?"

     "It won't take long.  I'll see you back at the barracks."

     "Yeah, whatever."  Yamaguchi broke off and turned towards the nearby building.  "Just don't stay out all night again."

     Shortly thereafter, Kusanagi found himself at the Post Office.  He was grateful that Yamaguchi had not insisted on coming along, as he sometimes would.  It was much quicker to cross the base in a few leaps than to walk the whole way—and it always amazed him that no-one ever looked UP.  The actual office had closed much earlier in the day, but he could still get to the Post Office boxes and retrieve any mail he might have.

     He shook his head ruefully.  Time was when he rarely came here—he'd been hard pressed to remember his mailing address when Yuzuriha had asked if she could write him, in that artless way of hers that so charmed him. 

     "Kusanagi-san…." She'd start, with the eager light in her eyes…and that was it.  He just couldn't turn her down.  At first, when she had asked to see him again, he thought she was joking.  But what the hell…hanging around with a cute girl and her dog eating ice cream beat wasting the day away with a bunch of guys you saw all the time anyways.  She seemed pretty lonely, but had said she was meeting up with some people.  He figured she'd forget about him once her friends showed up and they'd both remember a pleasant afternoon.

     But that's not what happened. 

     He took out his key and opened the post office box.  There was mail there…an ad, another ad, paycheck stub, what looked like a bill …and a letter with a return address Clamp Academy.  A wide smile broke across his face.

     The ads went into the nearest trashcan.  He opened the bill, grimaced, and then stuck it in his pocket, along with the paycheck stub.  He debated opening the letter right away, but the cold harsh interior of the post office seemed wrong, somehow.  He knew a better spot.

    The Ichigaya Base was, like most military installations, fairly utilitarian, but even it had a park.  The land there was too steep to build on properly, so the powers that be stuck a few benches, a couple of walking paths and some lighting here and there and declared it a "recreation area."  The trees there were constantly worried that they'd be sacrificed as their brethren down the hillside had been—they had needed a lot of reassurance and it had taken a while before Kusanagi had felt comfortable there.  But now, it was one of his favorite places.

     The bench he settled on was close enough to the streetlight to read from, but even closer to a lovely beech tree whose white branches reflected the light's harsh glow.  He'd wondered if the tree was unhappy about the light being placed so close to it, but got the feeling that the beech didn't mind so much.

    "A letter." He explained as he sat down.  "You don't mind if I read it here, do you?"

     The leaves rustled in response.  The tree seemed amused.

     He grinned and opened the envelope.  Just one page this time.

     "Dear Kusanagi-san…" it began,

    "Thank you for helping me the other day.  You saved my life, you know.  It means a lot.  I got back okay, but I think you know that by now.  Subaru-san said that someone had called to see if I had returned safely—but didn't leave a name or number."

     So that was "Subaru-san" who had answered the phone that day.  He'd sounded a bit too old to be a student.  Yuzuriha had dropped his name before—he'd been hurt somehow and she'd gone by to visit or something.

     "I've not been back to class for a few days—they're making me stay in bed and rest up."

     Good, he thought.

     "I didn't mind at first, because I was very tired.  But now, it's kinda dull.  Everyone came by the first day or so—even Aoki-san, who is usually working.  But after that, I guess they got busy—well, except Subaru-san.  He has come by every day.  Which is kind of strange, because I never thought he liked me very much.  Actually, I didn't think he liked anyone very much."


    "But I guess that I remind him of his sister.  Kamui-san told me that Subaru-san's sister had died when she was around my age."

    That's alright, then.

     "I wonder what she was like?  I'd ask, but he's so quiet and it's hard to know what to say around him.  I bet you're laughing at me, huh?  But he's not like you at all. You're easy to talk to.  I think the only one here he talks to is Kamui-san.  Which makes Kamui-san very happy."

     Whoa.  So much for Subaru-san.

    "Anyway, I wish I could see you.  We never made it to the fruit parlor—I guess it's not there anymore, is it?  No, don't worry, I'm not going to cry again.  I'll be strong, just like I told you."

    That's my girl.

    "Oh, and I have a surprise to show you!  I don't know when we can meet again (they have to let me out of bed, first!), but just you wait!  I'm so excited!  I hope I get to see you soon!"

    He smiled sadly.  It wasn't likely that he would be able to get away—at least, not until the reinforcements came in.

     "But I know you're probably very busy right now.  They showed the JSDF on the TV the other night, helping with the earthquake rescues.  You must be working very hard.  I'm not sure when you'll get this letter, so please know that I'm thinking about you and please be careful."

    Kusanagi felt a little tightness in his chest.  Getting nippy out here, he thought. 

    "I have to go now.  I'll write again soon.  Sincerely, Yuzuriha Nekoi"

    His fingers slowly traced the characters of her name.  He folded the letter back into its envelope and held it before him, considering it.  He should have ended this before—she was so young and naïve.  But he so enjoyed the time he spent with her.  She was so open and honest about her gifts and abilities, while he'd spent a lifetime hiding his talents.  He'd told her more about his gift than he had anyone else, and he knew that she understood.

    So why was it so hard to tell her that he had been chosen as a Dragon of Earth?  The fact that she was one of the so-called "Dragons of Heaven" had come as a shock to him.  He had known from the beginning that she was talented, but not the extent of her power.  And he doubted that she even guessed the limits of his abilities,  She probably had never thought much about it.  It wasn't her way.

    "Well?" he asked the tree above him.  "What do I tell her?"

     The branches swayed and the rustling leaves mocked him.  He reached out beyond the park and sensed the land beyond, with its familiar, sullen anger.  His muscles tightened as the waves of tension ran through him.  He clenched his fist, almost crushing the letter in his hand.

    "Yuzuriha." He whispered.

To be continued