Welcome to the final chapter of Hole In My Heart! This is more or less an epilogue. I would herby like to thank everyone who has read and/or reviewed my random ramblings. Your comments and criticism make it all worth it!
So I hope you enjoyed this story, and I also hope you'll check out future fics!
One more note, this chapter has some references to Japanese customs. I've numbered them, and explanations are given at the end of this chapter for those of you in need of a refresher course.
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-gi-oh!, the basic storyline from xxxHolic vol. 6, or any of the quotes I referenced. No money is being made from this, and no copyright infringement is intended. Any part of this story that was not referenced but may resemble other writings was purely coincidental and copyright infringement unintended.
"Because I'm not alone, I can continue to live. With the people I love... I can find happiness." – Hikaru, Magic Knight Rayearth 2, Volume Three
It was a beautiful, sunny day. Birds were chirping, crickets singing a mid morning tune, and all living things breathed in the crisp, clean air. A light wind flowed freely, whistling a happy song through the fresh green leaves of the dew covered trees.
And Yuugi Mutou stood in the midst of it all, simply taking it in and letting the essence of spring fill his senses and being completely. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, smiling as the breeze ruffled through the spiky strands of his hair. Then he exhaled and opened his amethyst eyes.
He began strolling forward, hands casually resting in his jeans pockets. The wet grass dampened his sneakers slightly as he walked around a petite white house with a "For Sale" sign on the front. This led him to the back yard, where a circular grove of trees grew. A lonely tire swing hung from a high branch of one of the outer trees. He glanced at it briefly as he wove through the grove.
They cleared in the middle, revealing a small open space. On the far end of the clearing was one large grave marker, covered in moss and weeds, partially hiding the family name: Mutou.
Yuugi continued on until he was standing directly in front of the marker. He paused, simply staring at it, eyes narrowed in sadness, but cherry lips upturned in a tiny smile. After a while, he bent down and cleared away the moss, scratching dirt from the grooves of the engraving, and pulling back overgrown weeds. Once he was satisfied, he stood again, returning his hands to his pockets. He tilted his head as he read the marker.
Syaoran and Sakura Mutou: You'll Always Be In Our Hearts.
Tears began to gather in his eyes, but he hastened to wipe them away. He took a deep shaky breath and softly began to speak.
"Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. It's been awhile hasn't it?" He paused, as if waiting for a response, before he continued. "I'm sorry I haven't been to visit in so long. Things have been... kinda crazy." He chuckled at the joke. "I've been on all kinds of wild adventures. Just like Grandpa. He's doing fine, by the way." This time, he did let the tears fall. "Still, I wish you were here. I miss you so much."
Yuugi was quiet for a long time as he thought to himself. He removed his hands from their resting place and folded them behind his head, a sheepish grin on his face. "There's a lot of things I wanna say. I was rehearsing the whole way here, but now... I kinda forgot. Heh heh... I guess some things never change." He let his arms fall and dangle at his side. "But I think.. what I really wanted to say, is that I'm going to be okay. You don't have to worry about me anymore. I've got a good life, and a great future ahead of me. I just know it. And I'm not alone. I miss you, and I'll always love you, but... I have others that I love and love me. As long as they're with me, then everything's alright."
The wind picked up a little, blowing through the trees, the grass, tousling his clothes and hair. Sunlight peaked between drifting clouds, shining brightly on the little grove.
"Well," Yuugi whispered at last, "I think I better get going. Someone's waiting for me." He reached into his back pants pocket and pulled out a card. He kneeled and set it on the base of the gravestone. "Oh, and if you could, say hi to Hikaru-san for me. And tell her... I'm doing just fine."
He gave the silent grave one last smile as he brushed away the tears and turned to leave. Behind him, the Guardian Spirit card glowed, but quickly faded away.
He kept his eyes trained on the ground as he walked away. It was so strange. Suddenly, he felt like this heavy lead weight was lifted off his shoulders, and in his heart, he felt... happier. He giggled once, and straightened his back. His steps quickened until he was almost skipping.
Yuugi waved to Atemu, who stood on the other side of the street, leaning casually against their Grandpa's car. After looking both ways, the smaller teen hurried over to him. He laughed again as his yami wrapped his arms around his waist and pulled him close. He returned the hug and rested his head against his other's shoulder, very much enjoying the closeness between them.
"You okay?" Atemu whispered in his ear, rubbing his back soothingly.
Yuugi nodded. "Yep. Everything's fine now." He pulled away so he could look into those beautiful crimson orbs. "Ready to go?"
Atemu smiled, kissing his koi lightly on the cheek. "Yeah. The others are waiting for us."
The autumn and winter months had passed quickly after the incident with the spirit of Hikaru. Everyone moved on with their normal lives, struggling with their final year of high school and preparing for their eventual emergence into the working world.
Yuugi made a full recovery, with the enthusiastic support of his loved ones to help him through. His newfound romance with Atemu was at the heart of many discussions initially, but things settled down into a comfortable routine. Their other friends were grateful that they didn't become the stereotypical couple who constantly cooed at each other, ignoring and annoying everyone with public displays of affection. In fact, as far the Anzu, Jou, Honda, and Ryou were concerned, little had changed in the group's relationship. Yuugi and Atemu were perfectly fine and capable of spending time apart, even in group activities. And except for the occasional hug and holding of hands, they kept deeper affections and physical contact reserved for dates. So even though it was a little strange at first to think of them as a couple, everyone was soon very content and happy with the idea.
Yuugi and Kaiba finished their project at last, easily receiving the highest marks in the class. When congratulated on their perfect score, the shorter duelist modestly laughed while the teenage CEO snorted, with "what did you expect?" attitude.
Things were going well with Ryou and his family. His little sister Amane often came to visit, and even though she was much younger than the others, she tagged along on many of their group outings.
Anzu had been accepted by several different dance academies and was in the process of deciding which she would attend.
Jou and Honda were simply their normal goofy selves.
The winter holidays passed, and the world eagerly welcomed the warmth of spring. Sakura trees were in full bloom, and everyone was gearing up for the Hanami (1) festival. At first, they were going to attend the same one they did every year, at the Domino Wildlife Preserve, but Yuugi shyly requested to go elsewhere instead. He explained that he wished to return to his original hometown of Himawari. He had something he needed to do there, but likewise bragged that its Hanami parties were far more enjoyable and entertaining. So, after a lot of preparation, the group of friends packed up two vehicles and made the four hour trip over the Ame-Warashi Mountain Pass. Yuugi was understandably a little nervous during the drive up, but with his beloved yami by his side, he remained calm.
Once they arrived, Atemu and Yuugi split from the others to visit his parents' grave while the boys and Anzu checked into their hotel rooms. And now that the hole in Yuugi's heart was not quite as big and empty as it once was, it was time to celebrate.
Laughter filled the air as hundreds of people raised their glasses and offered varying toasts. All around them, poems about and praising the flowering cherry blossom trees were recited by the evening star lights.
Honda, Jou, and Ryou could be seen stuffing their mouths with food and playing the different carnival games set up in booths around the vast park. More often than not, the taller brunette and the white haired teen would have to restrain Jounouchi from attacking a helpless booth worker, demanding a refund from a rigged game.
Atemu, Yuugi, and Anzu laughed merrily from their picnic spread out under an especially gorgeous Sakura tree. They too nibbled on food, joked and talked, about everything and anything, and sipped slowly at their cups of sake. (3)
After a while, Anzu got bored with sitting. She jumped up and stood, taking a moment to straighten her pink yukata (4) and tightening her matching white obi. (5) Then she offered a hand to Yuugi.
"Hey Yuugi, care to dance?" She nodded towards a clearing lit with lanterns where loud music was playing.
"Sure!" He grinned and took her hand, allowing her to help him up and deliberately ignoring the teasing pout he got from Atemu.
Atemu smiled and leaned back against the trunk of the Sakura tree, careful not to spill his sake. He honestly couldn't remember a time when he was so happy. He had a good life, the love of his precious aibou, and loyal friends he could always count on. He was so glad he decided not to move on the afterlife.
He waved at Yuugi who winked at him as he danced with his friend. He couldn't help but laugh at his lame, but enthusiastic attempts; Anzu was considerably more graceful than his hikari. It didn't matter though. He looked so beautiful in a light blue yukata tied with a dark blue obi. The couple matched, as the former pharaoh was currently wearing a dark blue yukata and light blue obi.
Atemu's eyes widened momentarily, and he blinked a few times. He could swear that just for a second, Yuugi looked a little different. When his koi twirled, he could see the fold of white angel wings, unfurled and glowing with joy. And where, months ago, chains could be seen wrapped around his torso, there were none. He couldn't be sure, since it happened in the blink of an eye, but his grin widened nonetheless.
When the song ended, Anzu searched for a new partner while Yuugi bounced back over to his yami, plopping down next to him and curling up to his side, face bright red and laughing with glee. "That was fun! You should try it, Atemu."
He set down his cup and pulled his little one onto his lap. He chuckled and nuzzled his hair, delighting in the blush it drew from his other. "Maybe later." He sighed. "I'm content right where I am." Yami rested his head on Yuugi's and closed his eyes.
Yuugi snuggled closer, arms worming their way around his dark's waist. "Tired?"
Atemu shrugged. "A little." He lifted his head again, a little surprised when Yuugi seemed to pout.
"Really? That's too bad."
The one-time king raised an eyebrow suspiciously. "Why's that?"
Yuugi turned his face away, attempting to hide the mischievous glint in his eyes and the smirk threatening to break on his lips. "Well, um... you see... I sort of made a mistake when I booked our hotel rooms."
Atemu's brows furrowed in confusion. Since he had been busy helping Sugoroku in the store, he left the hotel and transportation arrangements to Yuugi and the others. And usually, he was very careful about checking such things. "What sort of mistake?"
Yuugi scratched his chin and looked up at the sky. "Well, seems I completely forgot to ask for a room with separate beds." He shrugged and laughed, a hand behind his head. "Silly me! It seems I accidentally booked a honeymoon suite with king-sized bed instead."
Yami blinked slowly in astonishment. Was Yuugi... did he...?" In the months they'd begun dating, the couple took things slow, choosing instead to enjoy the simple things and resolve the various stresses they'd been dealing with. So they hadn't actually... gone all the way yet. They'd talked about it briefly, but Yuugi had said he wasn't ready and needed to find closure for something else first. After that, Atemu never brought it up, no matter how much it was driving him crazy. So then... did that mean...?
The young hikari looked into his eyes, and smiled so sweetly, Atemu thought he'd melt. "I'm sorry I kept you waiting, Atemu, but... I just needed to finish this thing with my parents and Hikaru-san. And now that I have... I'm ready." He punctuated the bold statement by kissing his other softly.
Atemu looked in his eyes, searching for any signs of a hesitancy. What he saw instead was an unwavering determination, loyalty, love, and now... just a tiny hint of lust glowing in those amethyst depths.
He didn't need to say anything. Instead, he pulled his aibou into a much deeper kiss, holding him tightly. Then, he took his hand and stood, leading him away from the noisy crowds.
Spring is a time for new beginnings. And that spring, Atemu and Yuugi found theirs. They were no longer bound by painful and uncertain pasts, no longer chained to the wheel of fate. They were free to guide their own destinies, free to shape their own future, and free to become one at last.
So they were, and so they are.
And... that's it! But ya know... I'm not entirely certain I'm satisfied with this chapter. It seemed longer in my head. So I may end up revising some things later if I think of something.
A brief explanation of the Japanese terms I used:
Hanami – a festival held in April when the Sakura trees are in full blossom. You've probably read about them or seen them used in various anime/manga series.
Kampai (also sometimes spelled kanpai) – literally "dry (or empty) glass". Like saying "cheers" before you drink.
Sake – a traditional Japanese rice wine, with an alcohol content about 15 percent and often drunk at festivals.
Yukata – an informal, light kimono
Obi – a sash worn at the waist of a kimono
All of the above information was taken from wikipedia. Simply input key words in the search engine for more information.
Well, now that this story is over, I'll be moving on to some new stuff. In the following couple of weeks, I'll be posting a few oneshots I've been working on (not all of them Yu-gi-oh!) as well as the story I've written for my contest winner, In Pursuit of Love." Look for those coming, but I would appreciate some input on what everyone would like to see after that. I know some of you have expressed an interest in the untitled one, now called Sayonara Solitier, but I had another idea, which has also been posted. So even if you already cast a vote, check out my profile again, read the new entry, and vote again. The one with the most is the one I'll start next.
And last, but not least, I'll be answering any final reviews personally, so don't look for an extra chapter regarding that.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to review!