Summary: Wanderers almost never remain wanderers. And those who were exposed to such serious, catastrophic circumstances almost never remain apart. In a world where collisions with stars and other planets could occur at any time, what will those who have averted it before do when their main weapon is gone?
Chapter One: Revival
They had not managed to continue to move around for long. Or rather, they managed to find a place to settle down and go undetected. Bambi couldn't bear to stay away from her princess, so she found a place right near Seeu and Kaguya. Seeu and Kaguya, meanwhile, had decided that moving around so often wasn't at all fair to their son, and so, had decided to settle down in an inconspicuous countryside in the fifth world. Kaguya remembered it…. or at least, she thought she did, though it wasn't the place that she thought it was. It strongly resembled the place they had hidden with the sages in the floating castle, on the run. The place where Seeu had slept so often, remembering the hands, remembering Kagami….
Kaguya wasn't sure about it at first. It wasn't out of the way enough, she had argued. They couldn't establish permanent residence, they'd be found out, when all they wanted was to live in peace. All of her arguments were nothing more than excuses, however, for her underlying worry for her husband. She didn't want him to suffer a nervous breakdown. She didn't want him to sleep all day, overloaded with emotion and memory. This place, though it was not the same place, was eerily close, and it seemed to her that it would cause disastrous emotional turmoil in her lover. However, the meadow, the countryside, everything, seemed to have the opposite effect on him. It reminded him of Kagami, of happy times fishing and playing in the meadow, of when the dark-haired boy had loved him and tried to teach him how to love. Kagami always thought he failed to impart that knowledge into his friend, but it turned out that he had taught Seeu quite well indeed. And so, Seeu was happy in the decent sized house they built in the peaceful field, not too far from a town, but adequately out of the way. That was the deciding factor, Kaguya thought, how happy it made her husband – that and the fact that, as Seeu argued, it was a good resting and hiding place for him. That was really all the convincing Seeu needed to do.
It had been five years that they lived there – their son was already nine years old. Nine! Had it really been fourteen years that they prevented the demolition of the worlds? It truly didn't seem possible. They were all so happy – Kaguya was making a living by crafting jewelry and sculpting pottery – she was really quite talented – and selling her work at the market every week, earning a considerable sum. Seeu took care of their son, Akeno, and occasionally forayed into scientific fields, sending in research anonymously, yet somehow managing to be paid for it. Kaguya never did understand that.
Kaguya hummed softly as she bustled about the kitchen. She bought fresh groceries every afternoon on her way back from work, and if she didn't set up her stall at the marketplace that day, rather staying home and craft more pieces, either she or her husband would venture out in the morning and buy whatever they need that day and for next day's breakfast. Today, though, she was making a foray into town in order to sell her wares. She was quite looking forward to chatting with the other stall owners – they were all quite amicable, and Kaguya was friendly with all of them.
Kaguya finished her cooking, carefully serving herself a bowl and eating first before setting two more places. Just as she predicted, her husband glided into the kitchen, graceful and possessed despite just getting up. Kaguya smiled.
"Good morning, dear. Breakfast's on the table." Seeu nodded, looking at the sweet omelets and rice on the table. Kaguya didn't hold on to many of her homeland's customs, but she had a tendency to fix Japanese food – or at least, as close to Japanese as she could get with fifth world food. It was similar to that of Eden's, but not exact, leading to some very interesting dishes. Kaguya passed by Seeu on her way to the door, stopping to give him a good morning kiss. He smiled at her – he had gotten much better at smiling since she met him. "Good morning, Kaguya," he greeted. Seeu didn't tend to use many endearments.
Kaguya crept down the hall until she reached a door at the end. Softly, she cracked it open, sticking her head inside. A smile spread across her face.
"I see that grin, Akeno-chan. You can't fool me, I know you're awake," she whispered. Akeno let out a small groan and snuggled into the covers. Kaguya's smile widened and she slid into her son's bedroom. Gently, she lowered herself onto the bed and stroked the soft red hair. "Come on sweetie, it's time to get up. Breakfast's on the table." Immediately, at the mention of breakfast, Akeno bolted upright and shot out of bed, not bothering to get dressed from his fuzzy gray pajamas before eating. Smirking and shaking her head, Kaguya followed her son to the kitchen at a more subdued pace. Checking to see that Seeu had given Akeno a napkin and his booster seat, Kaguya left the kitchen and headed to her workroom.
Kaguya carefully packed her pottery and beadwork, wrapping the delicate pieces in soft, colorful cloth that would serve as decorative pieces once she set up her stall, backgrounds to best show off her work. She then walked to the doorway, stepping down into the area for shoes – yet another custom she had kept from Japan, though if she was in a hurry (like, say, she was dropping her groceries and really needed to put them down on the kitchen table) she didn't always observe the "no shoes in the house" rule. Carefully sliding her slippers on to her feet, she hoisted her bags and prepared to leave.
"Seeu! Akeno! I'm going!" Kaguya called to the two in the kitchen. At once, the pit-pit-pit of bare feet could be heard running across the tiled floor.
"Mama! Wait!" A small panicked voice cried. The boy flung himself at Kaguya, small frame colliding with her legs and causing her to stumble back a little. "Don't go! I haven't said good-bye yet!"
Laughter filled the room. "Akeno! You know I could never leave without my good luck hug." Fond fingers stroked through the petulant child's apple-red hair, and the frown faded to a smile. Kaguya bent down and gave his small forehead a small kiss, then returned the tight hug her son have her. Seeu appeared in the entrance hall, and Kaguya leaned past the shoe-area in order to give him an affectionate peck on the lips.
"When will you be back?" Seeu inquired. Kaguya grinned. That was her husband… all practicality, no flowery sentiments.
"I'll be home early evening – 5 o'clock?"
Seeu nodded. "…I'll make dinner," he offered begrudgingly. Kaguya had managed to pound a few recipes into his head over time – mainly soup. She had a funny sense of humor. After one more kiss on the lips for her husband and the forehead for her son, she left, starting down the gently curving path.
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The day was beautiful, Kaguya decided. She loved beautiful days, for more reasons then one. Beautiful days brought out the butterflies and bees currently buzzing about the flowers in the meadow surrounding the dirt path. The sun was barely risen, but the young rays of sunlight took the nip out of the early morning chill that always lingered in the meadow. An early morning breeze rippled through the air, blowing the flowers gently.
Beautiful days were also nice because they brought more customers, more people to chat with, to hear stories from. It meant more stalls would be open, which meant more friends to catch up with and confabulate with when there were no customers and the minutes were becoming boring.
Kaguya smiled and hummed to herself, slightly swinging her large basket as the town grew steadily larger in her view.
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The sun was slightly past its zenith, rays beating down upon the town, but the canopy above her stall protected both Kaguya and her customers.
'Just a few more hours…' she thought with a small smile as she helped a woman choose a necklace for her daughter's birthday gift. Finally, the woman decided, and Kaguya waved and wished her a good day as she walked away.
Kaguya was rearranging her wares when suddenly, something happened. She was just standing there, passing the time by straightening fabric and moving necklaces and rings to cover gaps, when all of a sudden, reality rippled. Kaguya was thrown to the ground as waves seemed to distort the image of the bazaar, and everything sped up: Customers seemed to move faster than cars had on Eden, but their legs weren't moving any more than they would at walking speed. Things disappeared off of stalls, and sometimes Kaguya could discern that they had been bought by the people "walking" by. Just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. Kaguya found herself lying on the ground with a massive headache. She carefully sat up, rubbing her aching cranium, and noticed that a few other shopkeepers were doing the same. Most of them, though, were rushing to help the people that had been affected as she had. She noticed that things were just as they had been before the strange event: nothing had moved, or was missing. Hurriedly, she pushed away the people that had helped her up, thanking them for their kindness and babbling about going home. Things disappeared into her bags at a rapid rate as she shoved them in, still making sure, even in her disoriented state, to wrap the more delicate objects. She took off, yelling goodbyes to her "neighbors" as she left. They waved goodbye, looking very worried as she rushed off.
Kaguya sprinted down the dirt path, intent on getting home to her husband and Bambi-chan as soon as possible.
Then the meadow seemed to shudder. She was thrown to her feet, and, as she glanced up, she saw what looked like blindingly bright glitter sprinkled on a backdrop of velvet. There seemed to be a ribbon of the same substance winding through it, though what distinguished it from its background, she couldn't say. Suddenly, a searing pain ripped through her, and she screamed in agony. It felt as if limbs were being ripped off and reattached in the wrong place the wrong way. Worse, she decided, it felt as if every atom – every single particle of her being was being unraveled, scrambled and then slapped back together. A dull roaring sounded in her ears, like a "whoosh" at a low, humming frequency. She couldn't breathe, and it was cold, so bitingly frigid that it almost seemed hot and her skin burned, she wanted to get it off get it OFF but she couldn't, because she couldn't just strip her skin off like clothing and why not, why not? her addled mind queried, and she wanted to claw at her arms, her legs, anything, everything, just make the pain stop, the burning end –
And everything was still. The only sound that filled her ears was that of her harsh, labored breathing. A cold sweat covered her, and her body hummed and tingled with residual pain. She carefully pushed herself up, and her noodle-limp arms collapsed under her weight. Kaguya lay there, panting, before trying again ten minutes later. This time, she managed to sway to her feet. She stood there for another couple of minutes, before, assured that she wouldn't topple over, she bent down to pick up her basket and bags. This upset her newfound balance, and once again, she tumbled to the ground. After waiting another minute or so, Kaguya began to rise again. Her mind was considerably clearer, and she had the good sense to sit up and collect her things before standing up. She set off at a steady walk, but after several dozen feet, she decided that she could run.
Kaguya arrived home panting and perspiring heavily. She slammed open the door, carelessly dropped her bags on the floor and ran through into the house without bothering to remove her shoes.
"Seeu! Seeu-anata!1" she cried. Seeu rushed to the front, catching Kaguya. Rare panic graced his features, and Kaguya thought that she hadn't seen him look worried in quite a while. She sagged against him, gasping for breath.
"Kaguya, what happened? You only left twenty minutes ago. Is something wrong in the city?"
Kaguya stared at him in abject confusion. "Twenty minutes? But – but I've just come back from an entire day in the city!" She sprinted to the door, new adrenaline pumping through her veins and giving her energy. Seeu ran after her.
Kaguya flung open the door and gaped. It was true: the sun was only as high as it had been when she left that morning, not at the one or two o'clock position as it should have been. Kaguya collapsed, but before she could really fall, thin arms caught her, and Seeu gently carried her inside.
Akeno was inside, shouting "What wrong with Mama? What's wrong with Mama?"
"Mama's fine," Seeu soothed, "but she's not feeling well enough to go to the market today, so Papa's putting her to bed."
Akeno followed them, eyes shimmering with worried tears. Seeu gently laid Kaguya down on their bed, then ushered Akeno out, saying "Mama needs her rest now."
Once Akeno was set up in the family room with pencil and crayons to keep his mind off of his "sick" mama (not that it would ever work), Seeu returned, shutting the door behind him with a soft "click."
"What happened?" he inquired. Though his voice made an honest attempt at neutrality, it failed miserably, and came out laden with worry.
Kaguya merely shook her head. "Please, fetch Bambi-chan for me?" Seeu agreed without complaint, carefully covering her up before heading out of the house.
Bambi's house was a fair trek away, but Seeu made it there in no time flat. His worry for his wife pushed his speed marvelously. He knocked on her door loudly, and Bambi was standing in front of him within moments.
"What is it?" Bambi solicited, her distaste for Seeu clearly showing. The only reason she lived so close to Seeu was because she was very fond of his wife and child, and she didn't make any particular attempt to be civil towards him. Generally, out of politeness for Kaguya, she managed neutrality, but she had been in the middle of something important, and didn't really feel like being anything even close to polite for him.
"Kaguya wants you," he responded, his feelings for Bambi exactly the same as what she felt for him.
Bambi frowned. "I thought she was going to the market today." The hostility was gone from her voice, replaced by confusion and traces of distress.
"She was," Seeu replied. "She came dashing back twenty minutes after she left, completely out of breath. She looked very ill, and insisted that she had just spent all day in town."
Bambi's eyes widened, and she brushed past Seeu on her way out. "Let's go!" she urged. She didn't need to say it twice, as Seeu immediately took off, Bambi following close behind.
They slowed down as they reached Seeu's house, Seeu opening the door quietly. They both removed their shoes and crept down the hall, cracking open the door to Kaguya and Seeu's bedroom. Kaguya had arranged the pillows so that she was easily sitting upright, and she waved them in.
"Can you two promise to listen to me with an open mind?" she started with no small talk. They both nodded. Kaguya took a deep breath. "I left this morning just after the sun rose. I spent several hours at my booth in the bazaar selling things. I had just sold a woman a necklace for her daughter's birthday present when this weird… tremor ran through the market place. Everyone seemed to speed up, and an entire day seemed to pass by, but then time returned to normal and it was as if nothing happened. I ran back here, but in the middle of the path, another… tremor ran through the meadow, only stronger. It was like the meadow was ripped away and I saw something – I don't know, it almost looked like space. And it hurt, it felt like I was being deconstructed or something, and put back together wrong. Then the pain just stopped and everything was back to normal… except that when I came home, Seeu started talking about how I had just left and…" she trailed off, her eyes welling with tears. "Please believe me!" she pleaded, clutching onto her husband's sleeve. He gently (and rather awkwardly) patted her back, soothing her wordlessly. Bambi frowned.
"I believe you," she assured her princess.
"As do I," Seeu agreed softly.
"I was listening to the news on other planets," Bambi began rather abruptly. Seeu and Kaguya glanced at her, Seeu with a blank face and Kaguya with a confused one. "They mentioned strange happenings as well. Odd energy readings with no source, seismic readings but no earthquakes… there's no explanation. However, they are worried that it could change the trajectories of the different planets. It could be that what Kaguya mentioned had something to do with it."
"But…" Kaguya spoke up hesitantly. "What happened to me? Why did these… these tremors affect me and no one else?"
Bambi frowned. "Well, we learned that you aren't linked to the universe like everyone else… that could be it." Her frown deepened. "What we should be thinking about is whether or not this will happen again. Obviously, it has an adverse effect on Kaguya, so we should try to figure out what they are and what we can do about it." Kaguya nodded, and Seeu also gave a slight nod. "It's also possible that the stunt we pulled to keep the planets from colliding didn't work as well as we had hoped. We might have thrown off their orbits, and what we're feeling now is a prelude to the collisions of the planets." Kaguya stared at her in horror.
"We can't let that happen! We have to do something! If we know about it, then it's our duty to at least try!"
Bambi sighed. "There's no guarantee that's what's happening. It was just a thought. It would probably be a good idea to see what the other planets think, so if you don't need me anymore, I'll go home and see if I can hear anything."
Kaguya looked a little unsure, but nodded. Seeu just shrugged.
Once Bambi had left, Kaguya turned to Seeu. "Do you think…" she started softly, hesitantly. "Do you think that the planets are really going to collide?"
Seeu looked grave. "The last time, they were going to crash because they weren't remaining in their own dimensions any more. It's possible that the "tremors" you were feeling were the side effects of the tearing dimensions."
Kaguya looked down at the floor. Her voice sounded even softer than it did before, and she looked as if she desperately didn't want to suggest this. "Should…" she licked suddenly dry lips. "Should we… wake him up, do you think? Is it time?" She looked at him, her large blue eyes pleading, and Seeu wished that he did not have to be the one to answer his wife's question and confirm how bad it really was.
"I do," he replied, his voice equally quiet, but none of his unease reflected in his tone.
Kaguya bit her lip and nodded. "Tonight then, " she whispered," when Akeno is asleep… I go down."
"I'll go with you," Seeu intoned. His tone brooked no argument, but Kaguya ignored that. "No," she replied sharply. Her tone softened. "You need to stay with Akeno, in case anything happens."
"Kaguya…" Seeu started, but Kaguya merely shook her head and Seeu stopped.
"Tonight, then," he agreed resignedly.
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Kaguya snuck down the hall, slippered feet making no sound on the wood. She had a thick cloak wrapped around her in anticipation of the night's chill. Carefully, Kaguya slid her feet into sturdy boots, whose soles would allow none of the premature dew that might have collected to penetrate. She slid out the door, closing it behind her with practically no sound.
Grass crunched crisply under her booted feet, and the air was heavy with moisture and cold, the cutting scent entering her nose with each breath. Bugs chirruped, but no birds sounded, since there were no trees near by. The world was a wash of blacks and grays, the crescent moon barely giving off any light. Kaguya needed both hands where she was going, though, and she could not risk a lantern. Despite the fact that the last time she had been to this place was nearly five years ago, her steps were sure. She knew the way.
Kaguya came across a small pond and stopped. She walked twenty-five paces counter-clockwise, bringing her directly across from where she was before, and took out a tiny dagger from her cloak. Crouching down, she checked for the small, out of place patch of toadstools she knew should be there. Upon finding them, the blue-eyed woman brought the knife up to the pad of her left index finder and made a small slit, her hand wavering only slightly. The drops of crimson, faded to a nearly black color in the pale light, splashed down onto the mushroom. Five heartbeats past, then five more, till nearly half a minute had gone by. It seemed like a long wait in the cold darkness, but Kaguya stayed where she was. Finally, a low rumbling shook the ground. Directly to her right, a small patch of mud pulled away to reveal a long set of stairs. Putting the knife away after wiping it on the grass, Kaguya made her way over to the new opening. She headed down the stairs, bracing her hands on either side of her to make sure she didn't fall.
Kaguya reached the bottom and stretched her hands in front of her, taking tiny steps forward until she bumped into an invisible barrier. She immediately called upon the small, brightly glowing core of energy Bambi-chan had taught herself to find inside of her and began carefully pushing it into the barrier. The shaking that had preceded the opening of the stairs started again, more violent this time, before getting to the point that a lantern would have fallen over and broken. Kaguya stayed her ground until the barrier disappeared from under her hands. She started forward, continuing until her path took her to a stone dais in the middle of the room. On it lay the still figure of a boy. Kaguya placed her hands of the bare chest of the boy and began channeling energy into him just as she had the barrier. She continued until a certain feeling flowed through her, the feeling that the boy had enough energy. Kaguya stepped back.
Before her, on the stone table, the boy's bright blue eyes snapped open with a gasp.
1 – anata: "dear"