Lion Heart: Chapter Ten: Another World
Bearit's Notes: Finally, finally the last chapter of "Lion Heart" is up! More than a month later than I wanted to finish it, but, um, it's finished, and I'm happy. Oh, no, it's never completely finished. Believe me; my muses are demanding that I write more side stories (two are already up: "Ore no Shin'yuu" and "Futari ga Onaji")... and I even have a sequel planned. I'm not done with Hikaru's brothers yet! Egad, this is forever and ever more going to be my pet project. sigh
(Oh, and if you're wondering about the relationship (platonic relationship; they aren't involved, despite being different genders) between two characters, read "Futari ga Onaji" for details, k?)
"I think I'm disturbed again," Kakeru muttered, walking side-by-side with Masaru. Masaru looked at his younger brother quizzically, wondering what on Earth he could possibly be referring to. He made a safe bet when it was something about that Eagle Vision character. "I really, really, really am disturbed again."
"What are you talking about?" Masaru asked with a sigh. He made sure that nobody could hear; the two younger Shidou brothers were trailing behind Satoru, Lantis, and Hikaru as they led the way to somewhere in this... odd... fantasy-like palace.
"Lantis reminds me of Satoru..."
"As if I didn't know that already."
"And Eagle reminds me of Kyousuke," Kakeru whined, tightly shutting his eyes.
Masaru arched a brow and gave Kakeru a funny look. "I'm going to have to disagree with you there."
"What's worse is that Eagle's in love with Hikaru," Kakeru continued as if he hadn't heard Masaru. "What if Kyousuke--"
"Trust me, Kakeru, Kyousuke has somebody else he's in love with," said Masaru, knowing exactly where Kakeru was trying to go with this.
It disturbed Masaru after he reminded himself that Lantis and Hikaru had plans to get married and how Lantis reminded Kakeru so much of Satoru, so he knew that he had to convince Kakeru otherwise. It was true, though, when he said that Kyousuke was in love with someone else, but Masaru decided that if Kakeru had yet to figure out who it was then he had no right to know.
Kakeru scowled but went no further with his complaints.
Masaru sighed. "Besides, what the hell are you going to do to a guy in a coma?"
"Maybe I'll... well... it isn't exactly a coma!" Kakeru snapped. "That weird in-the-mind talk--"
"Shut up; I knew that."
Masaru laughed as an archway came into view. The sun was already setting, so the lighted room seemed yellow as he drew nearer and nearer.
Actually, it didn't seem much like a room. It seemed more like a garden. There was much greenery and the oddest plants that Masaru had only seen in picture books of South America. Visible from a hundred meters outside, which Masaru only guessed they were from the room, was a huge, beautiful water fountain. It was a standard type; nothing was fancy about it. But it was huge, and that's what attracted him the most. He only saw miniscule water fountains indoors. Also, gathered around the cement structure were several people, and the two people approaching them was Umi and some really, really big guy. Taller than Lantis, yes. Buffer, yes.
Masaru decided that he was one person he didn't want to upset.
Umi hurried to the group, and in one fluid motion she grabbed Hikaru's arm and dragged her away from the garden/room/whatever.
"Hikaru, I have to tell you something real quick!" she hissed as she passed Masaru and Kakeru. Before Kakeru could protest, the tall, muscular man diverted his attention.
"Sheesh," he said with a sigh. "Umi's really paranoid about this. It isn't that bad."
Kakeru snapped his head toward him. "That bad what?" he asked through suspicious teeth.
"It actually isn't bad at all. Umi's just... well... jumpy, I guess," the man shrugged. He turned to Lantis with a small smile. "Hey, haven't seen you in a while."
"I didn't expect you to be here today," Lantis replied. "Is Zazu here?"
The man nodded. "Yes. And Tatra and Tarta. And Aska and her advisors. Oh, and your little fairy thing is looking for you. That sums about all of the reasons why Umi's paranoid right now."
Masaru and Kakeru stole a glance at each other. "Fairy?" they asked each other simultaneously. They turned back to Lantis and the man. "Fairy?"
Satoru sighed. "Expect everything here, isn't that what Hikaru told us?"
"Yeah, but..." Kakeru said, but Satoru shook his head, which always got him to simmer down.
"Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. Somehow, that always happens with at least one person. I'm Geo Metro. You must be Hikaru's brothers, I'm guessing."
Kakeru tilted his head. "Umi told you, didn't she?" he asked, and quietly, to Masaru, he hissed, "Isn't 'Geo Metro' a car brand of some sort?"
Masaru, after stifling a laugh, shrugged and decided to return the favor. "And I'm Masaru Shidou, one of Hikaru's brothers. The middle one. That's our older brother Satoru, and this is my younger brother Kakeru. And... um..." Masaru looked around. "That's... all I have to introduce to you."
"Idiot," Kakeru muttered.
Geo laughed as Hikaru and Umi returned to the group. Hikaru looked very confused while Umi was fuming with some sort of rage that Masaru could only pinpoint after she burst out to Geo:
"She doesn't realize how weird everything is going to be!" she snapped.
Ah, that's it. Irritation.
"I don't see how it's going to be weird, Umi," Geo replied with a shake of his head.
Umi stared at Geo for a moment, and then she sighed in exasperation. "I'd call you blind if I didn't know you any better." That earned a smile from Lantis and a chuckle from Geo.
"I'd call you paranoid if I didn't know you any better... wait a second. I know you just as well as anybody else, and I'm still calling you that--hey!" Geo exclaimed as Umi punched him in the arm.
"This is why you're never going to get a girlfriend."
"Not one like you, at least. I wonder how men manage to survive around short-tempered women..."
Masaru arched a brow and turned to Hikaru. "Hey, are those two... well... interested in each other? Romantically?"
Hikaru shook her head rapidly. "No, they're just like brother and sister to each other. Umi told me once that she always wished that she had an older brother, and, well, I guess she found one." Hikaru smiled brightly and started to jog towards the garden-room thing. "Everybody's here today! That's great, so I want you to meet them all!"
"'Everybody?'" Masaru and Kakeru asked, but Hikaru was already in the fountain room. Both of the younger brothers turned to Satoru and Lantis. Satoru had a small smile as he watched Hikaru's retreating figure, so Lantis answered.
"Everybody that we know from all four of the countries," said Lantis. "Cephiro isn't the only land in this 'other world'. You already know about Autozam. Geo is also from there. You also have Chizeta and Fahren. You'll meet them all within time."
"But... everybody?" asked Kakeru. "Wouldn't that be a lot of people?"
Umi, apparently having overheard that, turned and nodded. "Yes, which is exactly why--"
"You're paranoid," Geo put in for her and laughed when she glared at him.
Masaru grinned. "Cephiro really is one interesting place. I'm so going to have fun tonight!"
Kakeru knew that he was going to get more and more shocks for the rest of his life.
There were many things that Hikaru didn't tell the family about Cephiro, and it wasn't until just that night did Kakeru actually find out how many different situations she must have come across during her adventures in this strange world.
He had absolutely nothing against anybody yet. How could he when he barely even knew anything about them or their connection with his little sister? Besides, most of the people from 'countries' other than Cephiro were women, and he had no concerns with any of the men from the other nationalities. Zazu and the Chinese-looking kid were much too young, and Geo, besides seeming unconsciously interested in one of the two Arabian-looking sisters, was much too old.
Kakeru decided to ignore how old Lantis must be. He didn't feel like hating anybody else tonight.
He was silent during the conversation among everybody but a few other people and himself. The younger 'Arabian' sister kept silent like him as Masaru seemed to be doing some sort of interview with the older sister about their country. Kakeru forgot the name of their country, but it seemed somewhere along the lines of 'zesta.' Kakeru was nervous to find out; he was sure Masaru was going to tease him or something. Or worse, Umi would. Or both might. Either way, he wanted to enjoy himself and getting upset with his older brother or his little sister's friend would not be the best way to do so.
Kakeru looked around the room and found Satoru talking with the "Chinese" group as well as some people who were obviously from Cephiro. It was easy to tell by their clothes. Hikaru and Lantis were also with them. Kakeru found himself yearning to go over there, but the reason he didn't was because it seemed like... boring stuff. At least Masaru was somehow making his more interesting.
"Bored, aren't you?" the younger 'Arabian' sister asked. Kakeru nodded idly. "It could be worse. A whole lot worse. At least Tatra is being... more herself than an airhead who's trying to hide her feelings."
"Until after the invasion, she put up this front that really pissed me off," she replied. "I think those Autozam people had something to do with it."
Kakeru blinked and frowned. "Invasion? What invasion? What?"
"Never mind. It's in the past. Say, I forgot your name..."
"Kakeru," he offered. "Sorry, I forgot your name, too."
"Tarta?" Kakeru asked to confirm it. She nodded. "Tarta... Tarta... okay, got it. I hope I don't forget it this time. How is it I can remember those two--" He nodded towards Geo and Zazu. "--names better than I can anyone else's?"
Tarta shrugged. "Well, in my case, when your older sister is head over heels for one of them, you learn the names quickly. But... I don't know what your case is."
"You resent your sister being in love with somebody else?" asked Kakeru, taking note of her disgusted tone.
Tarta paused and bit her lip. "What would happen if I said 'yes'?"
Kakeru sighed. "Nothing. I know how you feel. The only difference is that you're the younger sister with this dilemma, and I'm the older brother."
"The older brother has a better excuse than the younger sister," Tarta said. "So, you really don't appreciate Hikaru's relationship with Lantis?"
Kakeru scowled. He was supposed to not get upset, but the conversation with Tarta was probably worth it in order to keep from being too bored. Maybe he should have butted into Masaru and Tarta's older sister's conversation. A yelling match really does sound pretty good.
"I don't appreciate anything about this place, to tell you the truth," Kakeru admitted, glancing around the place again. "She first came to this place during a field trip to Tokyo Tower, and after that field trip, she was... the complete opposite of Hikaru. She was like Yami or something. Gloomy. I know this place has something to do with it, yet at the same time, she always loves coming here. I wish I knew why... the thing that really irritates me is that Umi and Fuu know exactly what it was, and neither of them will tell me. Nobody's telling me anything."
Tarta offered Kakeru a weak smile. "Tatra once told me that we all need our secrets. I can only imagine how much she's hiding from me, but there's a lot I never share with her, either. And if it bothers Hikaru so much to talk about it, and Umi and Fuu likewise, why should you force it out of them?"
"You're worried. I hate worrywarts, just so you know, Kakeru. What's more, I don't like overprotective people. Better watch your step, 'kay?" Tarta winked with a playful smirk and lightly punched Kakeru on the shoulder. He frowned.
"I'm not... over... protective," he protested. "And... I'm not... a worrywart..."
He knew that Tarta could hear him, but she seemed to enjoy ignoring him. Or pretending she never heard him. It was the same thing; Kakeru knew that he was really out of it. Like he did for many other things, he blamed that exclusively on Cephiro.
However, the playful exchange Tarta gave Kakeru did not go unnoticed. Masaru's and Tarta's older sister's attentions were caught by it, and Kakeru knew for certain that going through the entire evening without being irritated was an impossible goal. Now that he thought about it, when was the last time he went an entire day without getting upset at all?
"Hey, hey, what's this?" Masaru said, laughing. "I see my little brother has finally gotten up the courage to have a civilized talk with a woman. Is she your future girlfriend?"
"What?" Kakeru snarled. He didn't know if Tarta had said the same thing or not, but by the scowl on her face, he decided to think she had.
Tarta's older sister, however, didn't seem to mind Tarta's deadly glare. "How cute!" she said, clapping her hands together. "Ne, Geo-san, Umi, don't you think those two would be so adorable together?"
Geo shifted uncomfortably, seeming unsure whether to play along with the teasing or to just stay out of it. Kakeru decided that he really was smarter than he looked. Umi stifled a guffaw that was threatening to emerge. Zazu might as well have fallen to the ground, rolling around in the grass. The older 'Arabian' sister giggled at her flustered sister. It was only a matter of a couple of seconds before Tarta finally rid her system of temper and sighed.
"I swear, this is why it's impossible for me to befriend anybody of the male species," she muttered.
"'Species?'" Kakeru asked, dumbfounded. "'Species?'"
Again, Tarta ignored him. Kakeru really hated it when women insulted men, and he wondered what Tarta's experiences with men were. Obviously not good, otherwise this wouldn't be such an awkward situation... or to Umi and Zazu, very hilarious.
"Oh, come on, Tarta," said Umi, laughing a little but her voice carrying reassurance. "We were just joking."
"Hey, Zazu, quit it," Geo said, grabbing the back of his younger friend's neck. "What have I told you about women's fury?"
"Sorry," he replied, obviously not very since tears still streamed down his face and the smile having yet to wipe away. "It's just that the thought of Tarta... with a... a... a boyfriend..." And he cracked up again.
"Whazzat suppose ta mean?!" Tarta screamed, making Zazu laugh all the harder and Kakeru and Geo flinch.
Kakeru sighed. "And Hikaru is actually friends with these people? I... I don't believe it."
"Well, I still can't believe that Hikaru has an older brother like you, so I really don't think you have a place to talk," Umi put in, and Kakeru glared at her. She smiled mischievously and said nothing more. Kakeru decided that wasting his breath in an argument with her would probably not be a good idea, so he kept silent while Tarta was teased further on the subject of men.
Satoru smiled at his two younger brothers by the group of fruit trees as a loud commotion erupted from their little group. Despite the miniscule quarrels, all of them, even the ones who seemed to be angrier than the others, were enjoying themselves immensely. The bliss, while hidden pretty well for anybody who didn't know any better, was genuinely golden, and Satoru couldn't pinpoint a time when Masaru and Kakeru were happier. Even if they --especially Kakeru-- didn't want to admit it, Cephiro was one place where troubles could go away. Satoru, for one, was happy that Hikaru finally found the best place in existence to spend the rest of her life.
It wasn't just the magical land itself, but it was the people who lived in it or the people who visited it that made it all the worthwhile. Satoru had yet to become thoroughly acquainted with anybody but the people of Autozam, Chizeta, Fahren, and maybe a few others from Cephiro like Lantis, Prince Ferio, Ascot, and Clef, but it was enough to know that the friends Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu made were better than most that could be found on Earth.
Satoru was not oblivious to Kakeru's comparison between Kyousuke and Eagle, nor was he sure whether he agreed with them or not. Kakeru was not a shallow boy; he wasn't trying to find uncanny similarities for the sake of being freaked out based on appearances alone. Sure, Kyousuke and Eagle looked somewhat like each other. The only three differences that Satoru could pick out were their body build --Eagle was frail, while Kyousuke was robust-- the eye color --Kyousuke's was green, and he was unsure what Eagle's was-- and the length of the hair. Kyousuke wore his hair straight and down to the bottom of his chin. It used to be to his shoulders, but Kyousuke had decided to cut it. Eagle had his hair short like any other man would. Other than that, everything down to skin tone and hair color were nearly exactly the same.
After thinking about it for a little while, Satoru knew that Kakeru really wasn't searching too deeply in-between the lines. There were some similarities with Kyousuke's and Eagle's personality. Both had a seemingly never-ending optimism that could fluctuate between genuine and gilded depending on the subject at hand. Eagle was more jubilant with his words, while Kyousuke always had a pained look in his eyes in most cases. And while it was obvious that Eagle was in love with Hikaru but never did anything about it for the sake of Lantis's and Hikaru's happiness, Kyousuke's romantic life remained a complete mystery to Satoru. Surely Kyousuke wanted Satoru to be happy with a woman, but there was something else behind those words and efforts that Satoru could never pinpoint. He doubted that he ever would be able to figure it out.
However, despite the coma, Eagle seemed to have a less tragic atmosphere about him than Kyousuke. All of Kyousuke's friends from high school no longer kept in touch, and Satoru was all he had left and vice versa. Eagle had two very close friends that visited him often: Geo and Zazu. In a strange and unnerving sense, the two acted a lot like the mixed personalities of all of Kyousuke's friends. Loud but not obnoxious, carefree yet caring, and always looking for fun but only at the appropriate moments.
The two princesses of Chizeta, Tatra and Tarta, were an unlikely match to be sisters, but when Satoru considered his brothers and sister, their kinship actually seemed quite normal. Like everybody else in Cephiro and those who visited the land, despite their outward appearances, they were really kind people at heart. For whatever reason the two girls may be doing it for, most likely for sovereignty issues, their shields were very effective to promote otherwise.
The 'foreigner' that had the biggest heart of all, Satoru noted, was Princess Aska of Fahren. As he observed her and her interactions with her servant Sang Yung and advisor Chang Ang, she carried an undying devotion to both her country and those she considered family. The others really didn't seem to care too much about their country at the surface, but Aska wasn't afraid to show it, so anybody with half a heart could see her open love. Children always were the purest of the pure, whether it was good or evil.
"Waah," Aska gasped at the entire tale of Hikaru's brothers first involvement with Cephiro. "That's so wonderful, Hikaru! Hey, Lantis, how did you view Hikaru's country?"
Lantis cracked a small smile, and Satoru tuned in to what he had to say. "I was met with surprises, both good and bad," he said. "I understand why Mokona gave up on Earth to create Cephiro, Fahren, Autozam, and Chizeta. The nature of the land has been conquered by the humans. That's a bad part about it."
"Hikaru says that they don't fight as much as Mokona had originally said," Aska mused.
Satoru sighed. "There has not been a single year in the history of the Earth that humans had ever been living in complete peace and unity like you are in this world. There's much that we can learn from you all."
Aska blushed a little, and Lantis continued, "Yet, there is much that Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu have taught us that came directly from Earth, and even more that I discovered on my own in Tokyo that they have never told us. The good things and the bad things from all four countries are integrated there. You have the technology, civilization, and even the pollution of Autozam there, the culture of Fahren, and the morals of Chizeta and Cephiro. If you go to the right place, you even have the nature of Cephiro."
Satoru grinned. For a man who came from a land that was considered successful to the Creator, Lantis viewed the world that the Creator saw as a failure as a breath of fresh air. To him, there was no clear distinction on which was the better dimension.
Aska widened her eyes excitedly. "I want to go there someday!" she exclaimed. "Hey, Hikaru, could you take me one day?"
Chang Ang opened his mouth, perhaps in protest, but he smiled, shook his head, and muttered something that sounded like words of approval.
Hikaru nodded. "Sure! Anytime you want to, we'll take you!"
"Sang Yung, too?"
Sang Yung turned bright red. "A-Aska-sama..."
Satoru couldn't help but to chuckle lightly. He caught Lantis's eye, and Satoru turned to him with a grin on his face.
"I think I have more hope for the future of Fahren than I do either Chizeta or Autozam," he said, and Lantis only returned the smile.
Unlike what everybody else seemed to have done, Caldina was unsure as to how to think about how siblings from Earth acted. Hikaru's three older brothers obviously loved her, and the feeling was mutual. Among the brothers, however, there were altercations, especially between the two younger ones, Masaru and Kakeru. After seeing Satoru, the eldest one, only smile at their bickering, she decided that it was rather cute. They really didn't hate each other even if they tried to convince otherwise.
Caldina grew up as an only child, so she never knew what it was like to have brothers and sisters. In fact, she envied Hikaru because of this.
Caldina and Umi once had a bonding moment when they vented their frustrations about never having any other family member their age while growing up. Their parents always paid either too much attention to them or not enough, and it always contradicted what they wished. Oh, Caldina held nothing against her parents. She knew that they gave everything they had to raising her to be a good child, and Caldina hoped that she turned out just as they expected... or even better. But sometimes they, like all parents somehow managed to do, frustrated her.
That wasn't to say that Caldina and Umi never had a brother. Ever since when they first met, Caldina adopted Ascot as her younger brother, and Geo seemed to do likewise with Umi as a younger sister despite him already having an older brother himself. Last she heard, however, Geo and his older brother were not on speaking terms.
So the only conclusion Caldina came up about Earth siblings: they were no different than surrogate siblings or real siblings of Cephiro, Chizeta, or even Autozam... maybe even Fahren. The only difference was the number; most families Caldina came across only had two children, three at the most. Four seemed a bit much, but Caldina was certain that nobody in the Shidou family regretted it, especially with Hikaru as the youngest of them all.
"You look lost in thought."
Caldina looked up to her side and saw Lafarga staring at her, his face overwhelmed with concern. "You seem troubled," he continued.
"Oh, it's nothing," Caldina replied. "I was just thinking about how lucky Hikaru is, having the brothers that she has."
Lafarga nodded as he looked in said trio's direction. "I think that's the one thing on everybody's mind today. I almost wonder how Hikaru turned out the way she did with the three of them."
Caldina smiled. "That 'almost' has a lot to do with it, doesn't it? I can see how it worked out. Her brothers love her so much that they have never fought with her, and she always had Satoru, her oldest and more mature brother, to help her out in times of trouble. Masaru and Kakeru were probably very protective over her, which is why when we first met her, she seemed so naive. The three examples of the perfect brother. Hikaru is very lucky."
"I guess you're right," Lafarga answered, and all of a sudden, a wicked thought crossed Caldina's mind.
"You know, I hope our kids turn out to be like those four," she said with a huge smile on her face, folding her hands behind her head. "Charming kids who parents never have to worry about... I wonder..."
From the corner of her eye, to her delight, Lafarga's face turned pink. She snickered.
"'Our' kids," he repeated, dumbfounded.
Caldina mockingly raised her eyebrows. "Oh? You don't want children? You know, what's the point of having a relationship if you can't have kids?"
Lafarga stuttered to say something coherent, and Caldina decided that the teasing was over. "I'm just joking, Lafarga!" she reassured. "Well, I do want kids, but not until you're ready!"
He still remained speechless. It was much too hilarious for Caldina, so she cracked up.
At that moment, Ascot walked into the gardens for the first time all day. Caldina put her hands on her hips and ordered for him to approach her, which he did meekly.
"Er, yeah, Caldina?" Ascot asked.
"What's this?" she asked, puzzled. "Where you were you... all day? You knew Umi was coming to Cephiro today!"
Ascot rubbed the back of his head. "Ah, well, you know, I promised the kitchen maids that I would help them out today, so I did, and..."
Caldina caught Ascot moving his other hand behind him. She also saw that he held something in that hand. "And what?" she asked, but then sighed. "Sheesh, Ascot, you knew for an entire week that today was the day that Hikaru would be bringing her brothers to Cephiro. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that you wanted to avoid Umi... but I do know you very well." She smirked. "You made something special for Umi in the kitchen, didn't you?"
Ascot blushed. "Th-that's not it..!"
"And that, in your hand, is the thing that you made!"
"That's not it!"
"Come on, 'fess up!"
Ascot shuffled his feet and looked to the ground. "I-it's a flower. I picked it, not made it."
"A flower for Umi?" Ascot nodded. Caldina laughed. "I knew it!"
"What do you mean by that?" Ascot demanded, and Caldina smiled.
"It's something that all men in love do," she stated. She wished that she had eyes in the back of her head to see Lafarga's expression. He did that once. It was so uncharacteristic of him that Caldina found it amusing, but since she found it more sweet than hilarious, she decided once and for all that Lafarga was the man for her. "So, what are you waiting for? Go give it to her!"
Ascot took a quick glance to where Umi was, and she was still with the same group she had been with all evening. Frantically, he replied, "Not with Geo and Tatra there... and are those two strangers Hikaru's brothers?"
"Of course it is!" said Caldina. She pointed to where the others were. "And the other man over there is her oldest brother. You should get to know them. They really are some good folks."
"Er... I think I'll wait until later..." said Ascot.
To that, Caldina frowned and turned Ascot around, shoving him towards Umi. "Go now!"
"H-hey! Caldina! Quit that! You're stronger than me, you know!"
"Quit? Okay," said Caldina, and she let go of him after giving him a quick, strong push. Ascot didn't expect that to happen, so he fell flat on his face, gaining the attention of Umi and the others. Caldina smirked. "There's no need to be so shy," she said softly, oddly contradicting her facial expression. She turned to Lafarga. "After all, romance is useless unless you have fun with it, right?"
Lafarga smiled. "So... children like Hikaru's brothers, you say?"
And Caldina only grinned.
"Is it all right if I come in?"
"Oh, go ahead."
"I hope I'm not interrupting--"
"My sleep? I've been asleep for many years now, so don't worry about it. So, you are Hikaru's... oldest brother? Satoru, is that right?"
"I can't help but to keep comparing you to Lantis."
"Kakeru does the same thing. He says that it disturbs him because you remind him so much of my closest and dearest friend, Kyousuke."
"Disturbing? I guess there's some connection that I don't know anything about."
"It's probably the uncanny similarities. To me, you're a completely different person."
"I guess so. So, why have you come?"
"I just had a question to ask. I hate to intrude on your privacy like this, but..."
"Oh, go ahead. I have nothing to hide. Not from you, at least."
"Is it the Lantis aura?"
"Did you... or do you love my little sister?"
"What brought that up?"
"Well, I can't ask if she was in love with you. Many people are modest. It's wrong of me to make an assumption like that, I know, but..."
"Yes. To both. We were in love, and so was Lantis. All three of us... Geo and Umi would say that it would have been perfect."
"Lantis deserves Hikaru more than I do. She seems happier with him, anyway. And... I can't let Hikaru wait around forever for me to wake up, and I can't let her hold on to the love. Everything fades within time, even love, and by the time I wake from this coma... who knows? Hikaru may not be interested in me that way anymore."
"How long did it last?"
"Probably about... six years."
"She's probably just as much in love with you now as she was six years ago. I don't think it will be fading soon, and I'm certain that the time for you to wake will be quickly approaching."
"It's nice to think that."
"You don't believe it?"
"I've given up all hope for love."
"Don't you think that by now I would have found the perfect person for me? There's exactly one person for everybody, and Hikaru and I would never work out. I don't know who else to turn to, and by now..."
"How old are you?"
"I think I'm about twenty-six. I lost count. Hikaru is...?"
"Twenty-one. Twenty-six, is it? Eagle-san, forgive me, but I'm single. I'm not married, I don't even have a girlfriend. And I'm thirty years old. It's not too late. Kyousuke is the same age as me, and he has yet to give up hope for finding someone for me."
"Perhaps you've already found your perfect match, and you just don't know it yet."
"Maybe you have as well."
"Maybe. ... So, why did you ask that question?"
"I don't care how cheerful she sounded earlier. I could tell from her eyes and the words she said that something had happened to prevent the two of you from getting together. I never imagined it would be the three of you."
"You know, polygamy is illegal on both Earth and Autozam."
"Some parts of Earth allow polygamy, but not Japan."
"Another reason why I broke it all off."
"Have you ever regretted it?"
"To tell you the truth, I felt a little regret about five minutes afterward. Umi screamed her head off at me. Geo scolded me. Those two work so well as a team that it's frightening."
"It hurt Hikaru, didn't it?"
"Unfortunately... yes. Umi told me that if Kakeru ever heard of it, he would, and I quote, 'rip me to shreds'."
"That's the Kakeru Umi was speaking of."
"He does seem rather violent."
"You should have seen him in elementary school. Once there was a bully... Hidehiro was his name. All he did was tease Hikaru's emotional friend Rei, and Kakeru got involved somehow. He threatened to hurt Hidehiro badly, if I remember correctly. But, even so, after the ordeal was over and done with, after only one parent-teacher conference, Hikaru decided to befriend Hidehiro. She knew more about him than any of us ever knew. The funny thing is, within time, Hidehiro became one of Kakeru's best friends."
"I see Hikaru was the same exact way she still is even when she was only a child."
"I think she was that way practically all of her life. How much do you know about our family life?"
"Only that Kakeru has a grudge against your father, who left your family when you were very young."
"That's where everything actually began. Kakeru being as overprotective as he is, Masaru spoiling Hikaru rotten..."
"And you teaching Hikaru the wisdom of the world."
"I wouldn't say that, but I tried my best to lead Hikaru in the right direction."
"You did a wonderful job. I don't see a failure in Hikaru; you succeeded marvelously."
"How young were you when your father left?"
"I... think I was about fourteen years old. I remember starting the last year of junior high school without a father, being teased for it... and yet at the same time, gaining respect because of it. Everybody, within time, knew that I was now heading our dojo, and I kept my grades fairly high despite it. I was probably fourteen, give or take a year. Hikaru was just about ready to start elementary school, and she defeated Father fair and square in kendo the day he left. It was because of that he left.
"Masaru and I tried to hide it from both her and Kakeru since Kakeru worshipped Father, and Hikaru would put all of the blame on herself, but we found we could no longer do it. So we finally told them both."
"They took it harshly, didn't they?"
"I can't say who took it worse. Kakeru began his campaign of never forgiving his father, and the hatred only increased as the years drew by. Hikaru, as Masaru and I expected, began to hate herself not because Father left, but because Kakeru hated him. She hated herself for creating such a rip in the family, but to be perfectly honest, if he never left, Hikaru wouldn't be the way she is now. Our relationship wouldn't be the way it is now. I hate to say this, but Father leaving the family for as long as he had was the best thing that ever happened to us."
"Despite the hard times? Hikaru is stronger than I ever imagined."
"I never imagined that she could become even stronger until after the second trip to Cephiro. I don't know what exactly happened, and at the time, I didn't know anything about Cephiro, but she was depressed after a field trip. That's all Masaru and Kakeru and I knew for the longest time. But she became stronger. I could feel it. And I'm never sorry for ever-increasing strength."
"And then your father returned one day. I remember when that happened. Hikaru seemed very troubled, and I asked her about it, but she wouldn't tell me. She only trusted Umi and Fuu with the news, but soon we all discovered it. Lantis told me, but I don't know where he heard it from. Maybe from Geo who heard it from Umi? I wonder if they were even as close back then as they are now."
"It must be very depressing to be in a coma."
"It is. I would've been out of it by now if... well..."
"I understand. But don't you dare give up hope. You'll awaken, and you will find love. Don't you even begin to give it all up. Hikaru wouldn't want you to do that."
"Now you're giving off an aura of a mix between both Lantis and Geo now. Geo, no matter what, always supported me. Do you know about the invasions?"
"I've heard about them. Nobody ever gave me the full explanation except that it's all in the past, and it's best to forget it."
"Do you know about the Pillar?"
"I guess I shouldn't get too in-depth on the invasion, then. It's a long story with the invasions, but to get to the point, I decided that our country, Autozam, should invade Cephiro to gain control of the Pillar. At the time, before Hikaru abolished the Pillar system, whoever was the Pillar would be able to change Cephiro as they pleased, but there were many restrictions placed upon it. I can explain that to you sometime in the future. Anyway, Lantis was one of my closest friends at the time, changing between being second only to Geo or being first, only ahead of Geo. It depended on the situation, my mood... anyway. Geo and Lantis were close friends as well, but Geo only came along on the invasion because of me. He supported me throughout everything, until he discovered that I was about to fall into this coma. Then he tried to stop me. He's a really good friend."
"He really seems like it. Actually, no offense or anything, but my friend Kyousuke seems more like Geo than he does you."
"None taken. So, can I ask exactly what happened when your father returned that put Hikaru through so much stress?"
"There were a lot of factors. Hikaru gave up kendo so that when he returned, when they dueled, she would lose, and he would stay. But she took it back up later to get into a prestigious school, and I think if it wasn't for that, she would have never come to Cephiro. Ever. But even so, she knew better than anybody since she was the only one who remembered because Mother, Masaru and I completely forgot that Kakeru held a terrible grudge against Father. That's what had her so troubled. There was something more, but I never discovered it. I don't know what it was, but Kakeru was determined to defeat Father to protect Hikaru."
"Kakeru really cares a lot about Hikaru. He almost seems obsessed."
"Perhaps he is, but it's because of Father he turned out to be that way."
"How do you think you turned out?"
"... I really don't know. Kyousuke once deemed me 'perfect', but like every other human being I have my flaws. From Father's absence, I earned the respect of my peers, teachers, and family. I don't hold this against Father, because if it wasn't for this, I'm not sure if our family would have stuck together.
" When Father left, my childhood was forevermore gone. Kyousuke is trying desperately to give it back to me by finding me a girlfriend, but... I need to tell him that it's too late."
"Oh, Satoru, be careful what you say. I said that it was too late for me to find love. You say otherwise. It's never too late. It's not too late for you to have fun in your life, for you to become a child once again. Hikaru is twenty-one, and she still has the innocence of a five-year-old."
"Kakeru did everything in his power to preserve that."
"Satoru, it's never too late. It's not too late for you to regain your childhood, your innocence. It's not too late for Kakeru to forgive your father. It's never too late, not as long as it's not too late for me to find love once again."
"I guess you're right. I'm sorry for being such a hypocrite."
"It's the human nature. We're all allowed to be a hypocrite sometimes."
"I sincerely do hope you awake from your coma soon. You deserve to live again. You still haven't waken up yet because you gave up hope, is that right?"
"... yes. But thanks to you, I think I can find my true place in life again."
"You don't need to. You already found it. It's to be with your loved ones... and to live until eternity ends. That's the same way for everybody."
"Except you and your brothers have another reason."
"What do you mean?"
"You live to protect your beloved younger sister. That's why you were born. Always, by her side, you will stay, no matter what the distance is, no matter who stands in the way."
"Always... because she really was the one who kept our hearts beating."
"And because you and your brothers were the ones who kept her spirit alive."
- This is a pun between light and dark. "Hikaru" means "light" and "Yami" means "dark".
"Lion Heart" Trivia: This story was named after a SMAP song with the same name. It's a really, really pretty song, and I like it a lot. I also like SMAP--real life bishounen! squeals Anyway, remember, when you go looking for this song: "Lion Heart" by SMAP. The album name is "014" if you really need it. Listen and love. SMAP rocks.
And something else I think I'd ought to add to keep from people pointing at me with signs that say "Plagiarist!"... Kakeru being terrible with names is an idea I snatched from Firestorm244's fic, "Cross". (Oh, and the car name thing, too...) It's a really wonderful read, and I shame myself for not reviewing it yet. Someday, I swear, I will! That, and I feel that promoting fics with Hikaru's brothers with more character than just "overprotective" is a must.
Obligatory Disclaimer: If I owned Magic Knight Rayearth, well, take a wild guess what I would be doing. I would create a manga/anime focused purely on Satoru, Masaru, and Kakeru, that's what. ; CLAMP owns Magic Knight Rayearth. Worship them. And "Lion Heart" belongs to SMAP. I just borrowed the title of their song for the purposes of this fanfic. Drool over SMAP.