"I don't hate you, you know," said Syaoran, without looking at the other boy. His clone looked away from the moon, where he had been staring, and looked at him without expression.

They were sitting at Yuuko's porch overlooking the garden. Doumeki had given them sake, but Watanuki snatched the bottle away and substituted a pot of tea. Two drunk Syaorans, who knows?

"No, I don't know." He turned away and resumed staring at the moon.

Now Syaoran looked at him, waiting for him to say more, if any.

"Every time we met, we… fight," the clone said, looking sidelong without turning his head at Syaoran. Finding Syaoran looking at him, he hastily looked away again. Syaoran had been his template, his archrival in bloody battles. Then his ally. Syaoran would not have won without his help.

Now, maybe something a little more awkward. Friend?

"Are you holding that against me?" said Syaoran, still staring at the other boy.

The clone swallowed, but shook his head. "Syaoran, I mean…" It felt so strange calling someone else with his own name. "No. But…"

Syaoran waited. The clone was awkward where strong feelings were involved.

"Syaoran… do you hold it against me?" He finally let his breath go in a gush.

"No. I fight, then I let go after it is done."

The clone now looked at him, eye to eye. "Kurogane-san said something like that."

"It was my father. But Kurogane made me remember that."

The clone looked away, scowling. Of course. Kurogane always made a point of looking out for him. "Did Kurogane tell you to talk to me?"

Syaoran sighed. There was a gulf between them, but the bridge was only a few bricks short of completion, in a manner of speaking. "Syaoran," he said, calling the clone by his own name. "I am not perfect. I am not flawless. I am not the great paragon of virtue you think I am, that you keep comparing yourself to and feel small.

"I needed to be reminded. I'm human."

"Human," the clone choked. His head drooped and he drew up his knees miserably. He was only a…

"And so are you! No, look at me! Look at ME! You ARE human!" Syaoran now kneeled, forcibly turning and raising the clone's head to look at him. He paused, wiped a finger on the clone's cheek, holding up a drop of moisture.


"I don't hate you."

It didn't matter which boy said it.