Beta credits: Thanks to Luna for betaing this for me. All remaining mistakes are my own.
Author's Notes: This fic is a crossover with Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora, so it mainly centres around Kaon/Himiko who I see as reincarnations as Chikane and Himeko from Kannazuki. However, during the story the two tales morph together as one, so I don't think it's incorrect to post it here.
Disclaimer: I do not own Kannazuki no Miko or Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora. I'm only playing around. Kaishaku owns everything.
Reality in Past, Memory in Present
"I was hoping that you'd say I wasn't heavy."
"Oh my, I should have."
Basking in the suppressed amusement hidden in Kaon-chan's reply, Himiko feels a giggle escape her own lips, a crisp breeze carrying it upwards into the skies above until the sound has been swallowed by the silence of the sunset. One could be fooled to believe that tonight they are alone, that tonight there is only Himiko and Kaon-chan left behind in an empty world. Himiko would like that, she thinks, something inside her stirring at the idea of the chains of this world being taken off their wrists and ankles, even if it's only for one short moment.
But empty the world is not. They are anything but alone. Instead they are surrounded by the remains of Higashigetsu Fūma Academy. However, if Himiko were to look over her shoulder, she wouldn't pay much attention to the actual ruins, because by remains she is not thinking about collapsed buildings – in fact the buildings themselves are mainly intact, and the room Kaon-chan and she share has not changed one bit from when it was still their prison – but rather she thinks of the spirit within the walls, within the heart of a home. The spirit which is now dead and gone, leaving only bricks behind.
After all, it is not her surroundings that have been altered. No, what has changed is Himiko herself, and along with her, her perception of those walls. A part of her own self is gone, having vanished along with the ghost of Mika-sama. Now when Mika-sama's eyes – the eyes that still haunt Himiko in her nightmares – can no longer follow Kaon-chan's every movement; now when Mika-sama's hand will never again strike out – as it has done time and time over in the past, scars invisible, but still hurtful – colouring her skin blooming red; now – without any of this – the Academy is only a building. A construction of walls and memories. Without its mistress, the school is only their earthly frame, nothing else, and realising it is both a relief and a stinging pain in Himiko's chest. A wound that has yet to heal, promising a new and stronger beginning… much like her broken leg.
After Megingjord's – no, Kuu's, Himiko corrects herself, remembering the girl that Kaon-chan kidnapped and brought here what seems such a long time ago; that girl was so much more than her tenshi form, just like Kaon-chan is so much more than Murakumo….
Breathing in Kaon-chan's sudden burst of laughter at her earlier comment, letting her gaze move slowly over the blinking surface of the water stretching out in front of them, Himiko leads herself back down her original trail of thoughts. She tends to get lost in her own world. Kaon-chan has teased her about it often enough when Himiko draws her little sketches of her.
Well, after Kuu's disappearance things have not become dramatically different, and yet everything around them has changed radically. It's the paradox of life, Himiko can't help but think. But no matter the changes that have been brought abound, life goes on. She has finally had the chance to finish her painting of Kaon-chan, and even though it does not compare to the actual beauty of her, Himiko is satisfied. When she looks at it she doesn't think of Kaon of the Moon Spiral – she doesn't think of a warrior – but of a girl; a girl just like herself, though she is not sure who it is that she recognises in Kaon-chan's pose. Perhaps she is no one. Perhaps she is a dream.
Perhaps she is a distant memory.
The two last words have barely faded away in Himiko's mind, before Kaon-chan decides to ask her question – the question, the one that Himiko has seen burning in her gaze from the very first time they lay eyes on each other as Mika-sama pushed her forward to let Murakumo obtain energy from her lips; the first time Mika-sama had let her trusted sword feed on her; the first time Kaon-chan and she had kissed. Secretly, Himiko tells herself it was her first kiss ever, even though it was no real kiss at all.
"Himiko," Mika-sama had said with that curved, sadistic smile of hers that had once both frightened her and awakened a feeling of pity in the pit of her stomach. "Himiko, please serve my sword."
"Himiko," Kaon-chan says now, the wind whipping stains of dark hair into her face as the cheer of her laughter dies out. Once more her smile bears the shadow of melancholy, her eyes filled with the guarded solemnity that Himiko has come to associate with everything that defines Kaon – in all her forms. Himiko turns to look at her without hesitation. She has feared many things during her life, but never Kaon-chan. "Himiko, please tell me your real name… would you?"
Uttering a sound somewhere in between a sigh and a yes, Himiko recalls that she once went by another name, but it is such a long time ago that it could as well have been in another life. Taking off her glasses, eyes drawn to the moon, so alike Kaon-chan in its strong fragility, in its soft and somewhat cool beauty, Himiko wonders who she was before she met Mika-sama. Was she anybody? Has she ever been anybody… anybody special?
Perhaps she is a distant memory.
"My…." Her lips form the word before she is ready to answer. Kaon-chan's eyes have come to a halt on her face; Himiko can feel it in the heat just underneath her skin, the blush that hasn't merged yet but will soon enough. She blushes as easily as her heart flutters, but only Kaon-chan's gaze with the depth of dark, moonlit water makes her feel both uneasy and relaxed at the same time. Dark forces are hidden within Kaon-chan's being, this is true, but Himiko has never doubted that she, as an Absolute Angel, can control her tenshi powers. To Himiko, trusting Kaon-chan is as natural as breathing, simply because something about her makes Himiko believe in her with all of her heart. Yes, when it comes to Kaon-chan, doubting is out of the question.
She steals a peek at Kaon-chan out the corner of her eye. If the moon had a daughter, a representative on earth, a priestess to honour her, Kaon would be it. Himiko knows it as surely as she knows that the girl in her painting both is and isn't Kaon-chan.
With this thought, quick as a scared bird in flight, comes a flash of recognition, a picture that edged itself into her heart that first time she raised her head to kiss Kaon-chan. Before her inner eye Himiko sees two girls, clad in miko robes, caught in the middle of nowhere, a sphere where the surroundings can change from one instant to the next, but underneath the transformation everything remains the same. One of them, the one with hair the same colour as the midnight sky and eyes blue like water bathed in moonlight, her white robe decorated with bands of red, is bleeding.
Perhaps she is a distant memory.
"My name is…."
Kaon-chan is waiting. Himiko should answer her, quite simply tell her what her name was before Mika-sama took her in (was it Ai, Keiko or Yuri; she doesn't remember anymore… does it even matter?), but the image holds her captive. The memory – for it must be a memory, because the other girl has long blonde hair and purple eyes, reminding Himiko of her own reflection – has taken her prisoner. Those eyes…. Those purple eyes are… Himiko's eyes, but they are not hers because this takes place in a different reality, in a different time.
The dark-haired priestess opens her mouth to speak, but the blonde priestess stops her, leaning in with a look of determination on her face, cutting her words off with a kiss. A courageous willpower is carved into every of her features – Himiko's features, but different somehow – and it is a strength that Himiko has only ever experienced in herself when she thought Kazuya-san was going to take her Kaon-chan away from her.
In her mind, in her memory, the two girls kiss, clinging to each other. It has nothing to do with obtaining food – no, it's a real kiss. There is no struggle from the nameless girl who resembles Kaon-chan in Himiko's picture so strongly. And even though Himiko feels her life energy draining away as clearly as were it her own hands digging into the soft material of the miko ceremonial outfit instead of the girl in the purple-banded robe, she knows it is not out of inability to resist, but rather because this kiss is the final consequence of fate.
The moon murmurs the name in her ear, the name that she can see her own lips on the blonde stranger form as she draws back, but which she cannot make out over the roar of silence; the name of this girl who is the one portrayed on the canvas in her bedroom, the one who both is and isn't Kaon-chan.
Chikane. Chikane… -chan.
In the blink of an eye the memory is gone, disappearing along with her dead-ended sentence. There is a full stop trembling in the air around them, invisible fingers of a distant memory playing the silence like strings on a cello, accompanying the music with a lullaby sung in a gentle voice, repeating the name again and again. The mute notes reach her ear, and the voice is one Himiko knows so well that she turns her head, fully expecting Kaon-chan's lips to smile around the name, but Kaon-chan is not speaking, only watching her without a word, awaiting her answer.
The answer she is waiting for, the answer that Himiko is going to give her floats in the air, brushing over her ear as were it uttered by smiling lips sharing secrets, given to her by the distant memory of the Lunar Priestess, Himemiya Chikane,from a distant country in a distant time. Yet the word, each single syllable, is crystal clear.
"My name is Himeko," she responds finally, after years of waiting, years that are only minutes and seconds, disappearing like droplets in the span of eternity.
Looking away from the moon, her eyes lock with Chikane's that are still, after so many reincarnations, blue like the sky without stars, only kept out of the cursed darkness by the gentle moonlight. The sparkle of recognition inside Himeko is reflected in Chikane-chan's gaze – her tender, never-fading blue eyes, eyes that Himiko does remember from distant dreams, eyes that have observed her every step down this road.
Chikane-chan. Himeko's Chikane-chan. Himeko's moonlight.
The words sound like an ancient spell; the key to her understanding of this world; a trance-like invocation of any of the eight thousand gods as they are whispered over and over in her mind.
Chikane-chan doesn't even look surprised and Himeko knows it would be uncharacteristic of her to show any sign of shock. Even though her present self has never really known Chikane, she knows Kaon-chan well, and Kaon-chan is not shaken by anything; she is always poised, she is always perfect – in Himiko's eyes a true angel. Eternal. Absolute. It is in her nature to be so, and apparently it is in Himeko's nature as well, because….
"This is us?" Chikane-chan asks, the words being less of a question than a conclusion, her ear-ring that reminds Himeko of the pendant her former self bought as a silent symbol of her love that fateful evening when everything changed tinkling like bells in the wind.
"Yes," Himeko answers, looking at the glasses in her hand. This is her. Her eternal form, despite her humanity. She is no tenshi, no Absolute Angel; nothing about her is perfect – in that aspect she is so very unlike Chikane-chan. But this she has, this moment to look at herself and recognise a fragment of her undying soul, acknowledge her reunion with yet another facet of her nature.
This is them. They have both changed; they have both seen many lives since that October when Õgami-kun rode Ame no Murakamo and helped them seal Orochi; they have both….
The feelings are overwhelming her. Back then, at their parting, she had promised Chikane-chan that she would look for her, remember her and never forget… never forget… and here she is, barely able to recall her own name, not to mention Chikane's.
The first tear stings, but Himeko cries with a smile on her face, because she feels Chikane (Kaon-chan) grabbing hold of her arm with a soothing, tsh-ing sound, hugging Himeko close to her body. The Academy, the Angels and the future farewell that is sure to come are all forgotten in that embrace as Himeko hides her face in the soft fabric of Chikane-chan's dress, the scent of Chikane's body welcoming her as warmly as her lips that press a fleeting kiss to Himeko's cheek.
Yes, they have both been through a lot, but at least they have been in it together, despite the obstacles that they have been presented with again and again. At least they have been together.
"You found me." Chikane-chan's voice is like a blanket of velvety night that both wakens Himeko up and lulls her to sleep at the same time, a murmur of dusk and sunrise. "Thus, we meet again… Himeko."
"Chikane-chan!" It's only one word, but it says everything Himeko is able to express in this moment, containing the raw power of identity. Once Chikane-chan was her shield, her fortress, her safeguard, now she is her sword, her knight and – being what she is, who she is – also Himeko's protégé. This time around Himeko can finally give something in return. Remembering everything, she knows their scales have rarely been balanced, Chikane-chan's and hers, but right now it feels close… close enough… close enough to perfection.
They met again. They always do. They always will.
Letting the spectacles slip from between her fingers, not hearing the clinking sound as they hit the ground, Himeko looks up at Chikane and smiles, feeling the world slip away at last, even if it is only for a split-second; a moment of existence that may only be existing between the two of them; a sphere similar to the one in which two priestesses of a time long ago were faced with their past, present and future in a kiss.
Leaning up to seal their chapter of the never-ending story with the same kind of kiss – a true kiss, a kiss of the kind that they have yet to share – Himeko sees an image behind her closed eyelids; a picture of two school-girls in a hidden garden, meeting for the first time or the hundredth time, it doesn't matter – it's still a destined encounter, because those two girls are Chikane-chan and she. Timeless, ceaseless, perpetual. Kannazuki no miko. This is who they are. Who they will always be.
Maybe she is going to paint that next.
… We fall in love all over again …