Language of Flowers
By Maria Szabo
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!
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.
Thanks." Yamaguchi blinked and
shook the sleep from his head. "Sorry."
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.
the men intoned as the Captain took his leave.
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
"Son of a bitch." Replied Yamaguchi in a
cheerful tone. "Hey, where're you
"Post office. No need fighting for the showers."
"But that's on the other side of the
base…shit, you're crazy. You know
"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
"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."
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
"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