The rain softly pelted the window as another thunder storm rolled through the large city, bringing refreshing nourishment to the beautiful plant life and cleansing away the grim that always accumulated in areas of high human population. Not that it was as it had been so many years ago, when pollution clogged the air of the cities and litter soiled the grounds, but no matter how much they advanced, humans always left things dirtier than it was before they got there, it was just a fact of life. Fortunately, the Earth patiently cleaned up after them each and every time, like a mother looking after her rambunctious children. Sometimes she was stern, sometimes there were punishments, but usually she just shook her head, smiled, and put things back the way they belonged.
green eyes staring out the window did not see the rain of that day,
however, but of a different day long, long ago. The gentle splashing
sound of falling water hitting the building or the sidewalk always
took him back to those times...
Back to her.
Had he done enough? Would she have been happy here, in this future he had made for her?
Most were, he admitted, and those who weren't were – for the most part – merely stuck in the past. But was it perfect yet? Had he molded the world into something she could have enjoyed? Would she have been able to live here, never feeling a moment of pain or unhappiness or want?
There was no way to know the answer, probably there never would be.
"Master?" a dark haired young man asked quietly as he stepped into the large office. "Are you alright?"
"As well as ever, Tokimitsu," Ai Shiomi replied with a deep sigh.
"How long has it been," the ever observant man asked.
"Eleven years, four months, twenty-two days," Ai replied without hesitation.
"Do you think you'll see her in the next Para-Dream?"
The two stood at the window for a long time, staring out at the city below them. Neither saw reason to speak as Ai's eyes were still seeing a sight from the past and Tokimitsu was quietly lending his master support through his presence.
Finally, Tokimitsu decided that he had to break their silence. "Master, Zerodime and Chiroro are here to see you."
"I don't think I'm up for a visit right now," Ai whispered, "not today."
Again silence descended upon the room, unnoticed by Ai.
The dark haired man waited to see if his master was going to add anything and then bowed his head and turned to leave.
"Do you miss her still?" Ai's voice stopped him.
"Yes," Tokimitsu replied, not needing to ask which her they were discussing. Ai always asked the same question when he thought about the woman he'd lost all those years ago. "I'm sure that I always will, but perhaps it hurts more because it was me who took her life."
Ai bit his lip, a sign of nervousness what was out of character for the man who had changed the world, the man who always seemed to know how things needed to be and always seemed so in control. "How much would you give to change your sister's fate?"
Tokimitsu turned and glared at his master for the first time in over a decade, this question was a new one. "You know I would give anything to bring her back... Master... but the dead are just that, dead. You cannot not bring back Mew, I cannot bring back Nene."
Ai nodded thoughtfully without looking away from the window. "I'm sorry if I upset you," he said. "Please send in my brother and his wife, I think I could do with the distraction after all."
Tokimitsu smiled, "I'll be sure to let Zero know that he's a 'distraction,' he'll be crushed to hear it."
In spite of himself, Ai smiled as well. "Good, he needs to be humbled every once in a while. I don't know how Chiroro puts up with him."
"Perhaps he slips something into his Special Punch that saps away her judgment," the dark haired young man suggested as he turned to leave.
"His Special Punch does that all by itself, he doesn't need to add anything to it."
Tokimitsu had pledged his life to the Light aura user the day Ai had broken out of A.D.C., though he didn't exactly say it out loud at the time. As he lay there in the A.D.C. medical wing, in that white room, on his white bed, wearing his white clothes, he knew that his life had become tied to that of Ai Shiomi.
It was almost natural, or at least, didn't feel unnatural for their fate to be tied together. They shared 100 compatibility, after all. But beyond that, he had made a choice as he lay there and stared out the tiny window in that unnaturally white room, looking at the color that existed just beyond the pane of glass, he decided that he would give everything he had to Ai, to make up for what he had done and to repay his debt.
The day that Ai left, Tokimitsu had been a normal human, completely unable to use his Dark aura powers. His powers had bee locked away by Ai's light, or at least that's how he felt. The scientists who ran test after test on him had come up with a different explanation, but their words were meaningless to him. They'd wanted to reawaken his powers, but he refused to put in any effort and so their experiments had failed and they quickly grew bored of him.
For the next year, he'd waited. Waited for Ai to return, to come and ask for his help. He had known some how that the day would come when Ai would call upon him and reawaken his powers. As he waited he both feared and longed for that day. He did not want to become a monster again, but he wanted to help the man who had saved him from the darkness.
And then, one day, Ai was there. Simply appearing in Tokimitsu's room and smiling at him. Ai explained what he and his brother were doing, that they were changing the world to make it a safe place for both aura user and human alike.
When Ai asked if Tokimitsu would like to help, he had pledged himself again, vowing to follow Ai to the ends of the Earth and back again, to forever work to repay the infinite debt that he owed.
Ai had tried to tell him that his debt wasn't that large, that he didn't want a servant, just another friend, but Tokimitsu couldn't see it that way. He'd committed too many crimes, both against Ai and against himself, to accept that kind of forgiveness without earning it with every action of the rest of his life.
And so they went out and changed the world. Just like that. Zero, Ai, Tokimitsu and many, many more friends that they met along the way. They spoke with world leaders, they found other aura users and helped them if they were in need. The group of them, whose numbers fluctuated with the situation they found themselves in, simply traveled around the globe, changing things. Soon, the movement was too big to be stopped and too big to be ignored by anyone in a position of power. The public outcry for change came from both aura user and nonaura user alike.
And so change came. Politicians could not ignore the people who gave them their power and so laws were enacted, school teachings changed, whole governments overthrown and rebuilt upon a model of peace.
Aura users, who had once been considered elite, were now seen – by many at least – as brothers and sisters. Their powers were used to clean the environment, to protect the weak from being preyed upon by the strong, to change the world in ten short years like it had never been changed before.
And through it all, Tokimitsu had remained by his Master's side, never straying, never forgetting his debt for even a moment. Ai, at times, was exasperated by the dark haired young man's devotion, but Tokimitsu knew that he was also glad for a loyal friend… a friend who – unlike a certain older brother who seemed to get a kick out of trying to push women and strange drinks at him – would just be there for him, even if all he wanted was company in the silence.
As the years passed and the world changed, the reporters and historians became curious about "The "Man Who Changed the World," the younger – and perhaps more powerful – brother of "The Vanquisher of the Dark Overlord." There were inquiries into his past, his friends were interviewed, his lone ex-girlfriend grilled, and secrets he'd wished to hide were unearthed. Soon everyone knew the tragic tale of the boy who lost his parents in a train accident – an accident that had never been fully understood – who was then sent to a foster family, but lost his brother to A.D.C., who was so nervous on his first day of school even though all of those around him could see his greatness. It wasn't long before the people of Earth seemed to know everything about him.
It was well known that Ai Shiomi had changed drastically in the days following the death of Mew-Baura-Lulu-Arapa-Doul, and that those changes in him had changed the world. It had even been said, though never within ear shot of Ai, that her death was the catalyst for the events that brought the world into a new era of peace and prosperity, and thus, was one of the best things that ever happened in the history of the planet.
It was only natural for people to feel that way, for them to almost celebrate the demise of the seemingly insignificant girl, whose death forever changed the man who in turn changed the world. But Tokimitsu knew his Master and knew the pain that he awoke to everyday because of that 'insignificant' death. To the rest of the world Mew was a mere footnote – if even that – in the history books, but to Ai, she was everything. Even eleven and a half years later, he felt her loss, felt the emptiness she'd left when she was taken from him.
Tokimitsu had lost his sister at nearly the same time, had accidentally taken her life in fact, but he doubted he felt what Ai felt. His sister was dear to him and he'd become a monster for her, to save her, but Mew was something different to Ai.
Ai had once confided in his friend that Mew had touched his soul, that there were times when they were so close, their hearts beat as one and their minds mingled to the point where he couldn't tell where he stopped and she started.
And then she died and the world changed and everyone but the man who changed it was happy.
"How much would you give to change your sister's fate?"
Ai's question rang in Tokimitsu's ears even days later as he quietly went about his business and secretly observed his Master – who had been acting odd ever since the last rain storm when he'd posed the question.
It was such an odd and pointless thing to ask, meaningless really. Of course he would give anything to change her death! He loved her, didn't he? Wasn't that what love was? Giving everything within you to make things better for your beloved.
For the hundredth time that day, Tokimitsu glanced at the door to Ai's office. The door had been shut all day, and all of the previous day as well, with Ai inside. Steeling his resolve, Tokimitsu walked over to the door and opened it, not sure what excuse he would give if his actions were questioned by Ai. Hoping that he wouldn't blurt out that he was worried him Master might try to hurt himself, but at the same time wondering if that was the only reason he was doing it.
Or perhaps, was he curious as to why that question had even been posed in the first place.
Ai was standing at the window again, or perhaps still. A small mountain of paperwork collecting dust on his desk, gifts from kings, queens, and presidents scattered around the room, even a set of golf clubs that he had never used rested in the corner. There was a haphazard feel to the organization of the room – if it could even be called organized – but Ai seemed above the chaos around him, as always.
Tokimitsu knew his Master was aware of his presence, but Ai didn't say anything to him, he just continued to stare at the world.
"Master," the dark haired aura user asked quietly, but his voice sounded like a load roar in the silence of the room, "are you okay?"
"What do you know about time?" Ai asked rather than answering the question.
"Time? I'm afraid I don't understand." It was perhaps, the understatement of his life. Ai had never been a random person, his actions had always been deliberate and well thought out, even questions that might seem peculiar usually had some sort of logical train of thought behind them.
Ai didn't seem to notice his friend's confusion, as his emerald eyes never left the cityscape beyond the window. "Time dictates everything, doesn't? We spend our whole lives worrying about when something will happen, or if we have enough time to do what we want before we do what we have to do… and there never seems to be enough time for anything, does there?" He sighed and let his head rest against the sun-warmed glass, "When you knew you were going to have children, didn't you ask yourself when they'd be born, what they would look like after they'd grown, whether or not you'd have enough time to prepare for their arrival?"
"I suppose so..."
"Everything that happens, happens within time. 'Before,' 'now,' 'later'… everything is dictated by time."
"But what is time?" At last, Ai turned and looked at Tokimitsu, a faint, shallow smile on his face, his hair seemed almost limp, as if it was too much effort for it to do anything but hang down in his face, and his eyes were somehow sad, but also hopeful at the same time. Something in what he was trying to say was important to him, very, very important. "It has to be something, doesn't it? Something so crucial can't just be nothing, can it?"
"Master, I'm not sure…"
Before Tokimitsu could carry the thought any farther, Ai was already talking again. "I met with a scientist a few weeks ago. I don't know how it happened, but we ended up talking about time and what it is." Ai grinned and scratched the back of his head, "I didn't understand most of what he was saying, his words were too big, but I don't think anyone really knows what time is or how to measure it."
"Can't we just use a clock to measure it?"
"That's what I said, but he told me that even then everyone is reading a different time because it takes the image of the clock a certain amount of time to reach our eyes and then a little longer to be interpreted as a clock saying a specific time. If you're standing closer to the clock, you actually see the image sooner than if you're standing farther away."
"That's… interesting," Tokimitsu said, if for no other reason than to try and get the conversation to approach a point.
Ai smiled and stepped away from the window, wandering about the room and acting as if he were looking at each of the objects hanging on the walls or resting on the floor with great interest. "He also said that spacetime bends as it moves around objects with mass… with gravity, and that gravity seems to have an unexplainable effect on spacetime."
"Okay..." Tokimitsu still wasn't sure where the conversation was going. It seemed as though his master was merely thinking out loud, but he kept looking back at his friend as if making sure that he was following along. Now that they were discussing bends in spacetime, Tokitmitsu was fairly certain he understood, or at least had had the subject briefly explained to him during his schooling.
"Do you think, if gravity can bend time, it could be used to travel backwards in time?"
The dark haired man's eyes widened in alarm, Ai wasn't speaking the thoughts of a sane man anymore, he was either speaking theoretically – which he didn't seem to be – or he was talking about something he thought could literally happen, and that wasn't possible. "Time travel?"
"I've read," Ai continued, ignoring his friend's bewildered look, "that blackholes might create tunnels through space and time, maybe taking a person to another universe, or another area of space… or even another time. No one could ever know for certain though, because nothing can escape a blackhole, not even light"
"Your light can," Tokimitsu pointed out, being swept up in Ai's energy in spite of himself. "It did, when we fought and you… you showed me images from the past. You controlled time."
"Showing images from your memories and controlling time are two different things." Ai smiled and looked thoughtful for a moment before he continued, "Orina told me that Kyaru announced to everyone that I had the power to change worlds when she was taking my reading before my first day at Psychic Academy... of course she also said I was splashy and attention hungry... but I've been wondering lately… about time… and about changing a world."
"Master, you've been working very hard for many years," Tokimitsu ventured gently, "but perhaps you've been working too hard lately..."
"I'm not going crazy," Ai's eyes narrowed to slits and for a moment Tokimitsu cowered before him. They had not fought outside of sparing sessions since their battle at A.D.C. Japan, when Ai had somehow locked away Tokimitsu's powers, and Tokimitsu didn't really think that his friend would attack him, but here was something frightening in Ai's eyes. "I've just been thinking about some things."
"This has to do with Mew..."
"It has to do with Suzumi," Ai corrected. "I've been wondering if perhaps a person could travel back... could make things better."
"How would you do it?"
"You would do it."
"Yes, your dark aura has the ability to create black holes. If you were to go all out, make a blackhole big enough and powerful enough to rip through time..."
Tokimitsu shook his head, "No! The sort of thing you are talking about could kill people, thousands, millions... maybe even the entire planet. Don't even suggest such a thing!"
Ai sat down on the floor and picked up a San spear – a gift from a small African nation several years ago – and rolled it back and forth along his hand. His anger was suddenly gone, as well as his excitement, leaving only a shell of the great man who had altered the course of history. Not for the first time, did it strike Tokimitsu that he was privileged – or perhaps cursed – to see Ai as he truly was, not as the history books and biographies portrayed him. He and very few others knew the Ai who at times was shy, who carried a deep sadness in his heart, and who often seemed very scared of what was expected of him. At the moment, it was the sad Ai who was sitting in front of him.
For a long time Ai, didn't speak and then, in a quiet, almost meek voice, he said, "I would never ask that of you, but... there is a place where no one would get hurt no matter how large a hole you opened."
Despite his growing certainty that his master had – at least temporarily – lost his mind, Tokimitsu couldn't stop himself from asking, "Where?"
"In the Para-Dream."
The cluttered room seemed to be closing in on Tokimitsu as he backed away from Ai Shiomi. He had not been looking at the quiet Ai, he'd been looking at a whole new Ai, an Ai who had apparently lost his mind. "What good would that do?" he asked, fearing what new depths of insanity the conversation would bring next.
"We have 100 compatibility," Ai pointed out. "You told me that you saw me in the dream last time, but that I didn't choose you. That I didn't bring you to me. In the next one, I could call you. Once we are on the beach together, you could open up as large a black hole as you wanted, and I could enter it."
"I would die?" Ai supplied.
"Yes, if your dreamself were destroyed... there would be nothing left of you to inhabit your body."
"The Para-Dream comes to aura users from the aura of the Earth itself," Ai whispered, standing up and staring hard into Tokimitsu's eyes. "In it there is no end to the beach, no depths to the ocean, no distance to the sun or moon. It stretches out forever and ever... maybe even into the past.
"If you let your powers go in there, if you come as close as possible to spinning out, if you opened up a black hole of such magnitude that even the dream itself bent... I could change the world."
"No master, I won't do this. If you died..."
"You said you would do anything!" Ai roared, his hand shooting out and grabbing hold of his friend's shirt. "'You know I would give anything to bring her back,' those were your words! You said 'ANYTHING!'"
The muscles in the dark haired man's jaw flexed as an unnatural wave of peace swept over him. With deliberate slowness, he reached up and grabbed his master's wrist and pulled from Ai's grasp. "I would give anything I possessed for her, but I will not sacrifice the lives of those around me... of you, for an empty hope of bringing her back, Master."
"No hope is empty," Ai replied, closing his eyes and turning his head towards the ground.
"The world has placed its hopes in you," Tokimitsu said gently. "You changed the world. You brought peace between aura users and non-aura users, settled old disputes between nations, united scientists with aura users for the advancement of technology... without you, this could still fall apart."
Ai's eyes opened, but remained unfocused as they shifted back and forth while his mind tried to put his feelings into words. "I... have grown tired of this place," he admitted. "Without her... there is no balance for me, no... no sense of accomplishment. I did all those things you said for her, but... if she isn't here to enjoy them, what's the point?"
Ai held up his hand, cutting off further discussion. "Go home, Tokimitsu, take a long weekend. Play with your kids, make love to your wife, relax for awhile. The Para Dream will come again soon, enjoy some time off until it's passed and... and forget what I said, okay? It was a dumb idea to start with, I…I just miss Sazumi is all. Sometimes..." He waved his hand dismissively and turned back towards the window, "Never mind. I'll see you in a few days."
He didn't look up with Tokimitsu bowed, didn't acknowledge the young man's farewell, didn't even move as the door opened and Tokimitsu left.
"I'm sorry Suzumi," he whispered to the empty room as the sun set in the distance, turning the sky a brilliant red.
Two Days Later…
"It was nice of Ai to give you so much time off," Pasu giggled as she rested her head on Tokimitsu's chest while he stared up at the ceiling, apparently lost in thought.
"Thanks for taking the kids to the park today. It was nice to be able to get some housework done without them underfoot."
Her poutty lips frowned up at him, as her pink eyes examined his face. "I especially enjoyed having the neighbors over for our weekly sex party…"
"That didn't happen…" he replied without taking his eyes off the ceiling.
"It might if you don't start paying a little more attention to your wife," Pasu giggled again, a tiny spark rolled through her silvery hair and stung him playfully.
He didn't flinch.
Pasu frowned at him and let out an annoyed sigh. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"Something's wrong with Ai," Tokimitsu replied finally looking away from the ceiling and glancing down at her. "I don't know how to fix it."
"Maybe it isn't your job to fix all of his problems."
"He saved me from the darkness… I owe him everything."
"You've given him everything," Pasu shot back. "You've put him and his dream above everything else, even above me…"
Tokimitsu opened his mouth to argue, but her hand was over his lips before a word got out. "No, it's true and it's okay. I knew it would be that way when I married you, I don't mind, but… there comes a point where you've given everything and there's nothing left to give."
He closed his eyes and let out a breath that he'd been holding, "You're right, I suppose."
"Of course I am, now then… let's let Ai worry about Ai, I have other plans for you," her whispered huskily as her hands began to run along his muscular body.
"If… if there was a chance to bring back Ren," he whispered, doing his best to block out the effects her touch was having on him, "would you give anything… even if you thought it was probably hopeless?"
She stopped touching him and sat up, her eyes flaring with anger. "What?!?"
"You cared for him, right?" Tokimitsu asked, sitting up as well. "What would you give to bring him back?"
Pasu practically leapt from the bed and pulled her robe around her. "I don't want to talk about this!" she snapped at him and started to storm out of the room.
"Pasu… Gin…" her head whipped back around at his use of her real name, "…please… would you sacrifice anything just for the chance to bring him back, even if it was a long shot?"
She was quiet for a long time, standing in their bedroom, staring at him, and then she said, "I wouldn't sacrifice anything. I wouldn't sacrifice you or our family… but I might give just about everything else to bring him back."
"You loved him." It wasn't a question.
"I was a little girl, it didn't really mean anything."
"But you did."
Tokimitsu looked down at the bed and then said, "If I could, I'd bring him back for you… even if I lost you to him."
Her hands startled him as they gently cupped his face, lifting his head so that his eyes stared into her wet ones. "You could never lose me," she whispered as her lips came down and met his while her hands slid from his face to his chest and then pushed him down into the bed.
Hours later Tokimitsu lay staring up through the ceiling, listening to Pasu's soft breathing and enjoying the feel of her warm skin against his. The Para-Dream was approaching. It would happen sometime in the next day or two… and then he would lose something forever, either his wife to Ren or his master and friend. He didn't think he was strong enough to part with either, but he didn't have a choice in the matter. His part in the fate of everything around him had been decided when Ai asked him for help with this insane plan.
Once, long ago, he had sat in a hospital bed, the dark aura powers within him blocked by the light of his former enemy. It was there that Tokimitsu had told Ai Shiomi that he had the power to change the world. More than that, he had promised to serve the light aura user.
Now he would make good on that promise. When the Para Dream came, and if Shiomi called to him, he would go and do as his master requested… no matter who it killed or who it brought back.
Almost three days later, Ai was sitting at his desk, pretending to mull over some paperwork, but barely even managing to read one in ten words his eyes passed over. He had been wrong to ask so much of Tokimitsu, to pressure his adversary-turned-friend to do something he didn't want to do.
Ai knew his plan was hardly the most thought out idea; it was actually little more than a fantasy or a dream that had stuck with him and refused to let his mind focus on anything else. He wasn't sure where it had come from originally or why he couldn't get it out of his head, but he wanted to try it… more than anything he wanted to see if it would work, even if his curiosity got him killed.
As his mind wandered over his 'plan' again, his senses suddenly jolted him away from the day dream. Somewhere… it had started.
His phone rang only a few seconds later.
"Hey baby bro," a sing-song voice came loudly from the receiver. "Working late again… or are you just sitting at your desk staring out into space?"
"I hate when you call me that," Ai groaned, shaking his head.
"Well, Ai Shiomi: Bearer of the Light Aura, Purifier of A.D.C., and Savior of the Planet, just doesn't have the same ring to it, you know?"
"Did you want something specific or are you just tormenting me again?"
"Well, I just thought you'd like to know that A.D.C. Global called just a minute ago to let me know the Para Dream has started."
"You know?" Zero's shocked voice brought a small smile to Ai's face.
"I felt it start… I think."
There was a loud crash on the other side of line and then Chiroro's laughter could be heard as well as the delighted squeal of a little girl.
"Eh… hehe, sorry about that," Zero said as he came back on the line. "I sort of fell off the ceiling, just now."
"Should I even ask why you were on the ceiling?"
"Well, I was showing Fara how cool her daddy was when I got the call from A.D.C., and I just called you right after that… She's been asking about her Uncle Ai, by the way."
"Have I told you how creepy it is that you and Chiroro gave your kid her aura eminence for a name?" Ai asked with a roll of his eyes at his brother's antics. Even after all these years, after everything that they had accomplished together, and after he'd finally married and settled down with Mrs. Chiroro, Zero was still Zero.
"Well, they still use aura eminences for names at the academy. We figured it would be easier for her this way."
"Creepy," Ai insisted.
The line was silent for a moment and then Zero asked, in his 'serious' voice, "Are you ready for the Dream?"
"As ready as I'll ever be, I guess," Ai replied with a shrug that could be heard in his voice.
"Do you thinkshe'll be there?"
"Not really," Ai whispered, "but… maybe someday she will be."
Again the line was quiet as Zero digested Ai's words and then he said, "Well, I'll see you when it's over, okay? Maybe we'll go have ourselves an adventure, like old times."
Neither brother said anything for a long time, and then Ai said, "Goodbye, Zero… thanks for always taking care of me."
Before Zero could respond, Ai set the phone down in its cradle, walked to the couch in his office and laid down, waiting for the dream to sweep him up in its warm, familiar embrace.
The sands were just as endless as he remembered from the last time he'd been there, the seas were just as picturesque, the moon and sun hung in the exact same spot… it was all the same and yet so different. He could feelher there in a way he'd never experienced before. She was swirling all around him, her scent was in the crashing surf and sand, the sound of her voice was in the breeze that caressed his face, her eyes were on his back, her body heat in the warmth of the air.
Ai swallowed hard. "Are you there?"
He strained his ears, hoping to hear her reply. She was there, he could feel her, he knew she was somewhere or maybe everywhere.
"Master?" Tokimitsu answered as he materialized behind him.
Ai turned his sad eyes upon his friend and offered a half smile. "You came."
"I don't like this plan, but… I won't refuse you, if this is what you truly want."
Ai let out a deep slow breath and swallowed. "You are a good friend."
"A good friend wouldn't let you do this, I'm just being a good servant."
"You're more than that and you know it."
"Do I?" Tokimitsu hissed, his lips twisting into an ironic scowl. "Do you know what will happen when I do this for you?"
"I'll fix things and save Suzumi," Ai replied.
"If you succeed, you could cost me my wife and children," Tokimitsu pointed out, "or you'll die and cost me my best friend." He looked out to sea, staring up at the moon and sun sitting so close together in the sky. "A servant will do this for his master, but a friend would know that the price might be too high… a friend wouldn't ask this of his friend."
Ai reeled under the accusation. "Tokimitsu…"
"Don't," the dark haired man cut him off, "don't apologize of tell me that you don't want to do it anymore. You won't be able to live with yourself if things continue like this and besides… if you can save Mew Baura, then you can save Nene and Ren and then Pasu could…"
Ai placed a hand on his friend's shoulder and said, "Tokimitsu, you are a better man than me."
Tokimitsu smiled and shook his head. "If only the history books could figure that out. Now please stand back, I've never tried anything like this. If I can create what you want… it probably won't be long before I burn out. Move quick."
Ai nodded and stepped back.
Tokimitsu took a deep breath and let it out slowly, reaching deep within himself and summoning up more and more of his aura. He could feel the tendrils of his dark aura curling up his body, dancing across his skin, trying to suck in everything around them in this world made completely of aura. The muscles in his arms flexed painfully as he slowly brought them out in front of him, directing his aura towards the edge of the beach.
The effect was instantaneous. Where the beach had been, an enormous black ball with what looked like purple bolts of electricity sparkling along its surface appeared. It hurt to create something like this, even though it was his aura, he could feel it trying to draw him in, trying to eat away at him the way his aura could everyone else if he wasn't careful… the way it had to his sister. Even more than that, he could feel the pressure on his mind as the ball grew larger. He was doing something that shouldn't be done, he was hurting the aura of the Earth… his darkness was trying to swallow the Para Dream, if such a thing were possible.
"It has to be stronger!" Ai yelled to him.
Stronger? How could he make it bigger, how could he do more than what he was? It hurt so much already! Tokimitsu pushed those thoughts away and threw every fiber of his being into the creating the dark gravity well in front of them.
It wasn't that it needed to be bigger, he realized, but smaller. It had to be so tight and so powerful that it became a tunnel, it had to pull so hard on the Para Dream that it created a tear. Tokimitsu drew his hands together, watching through squinting eyes as the black hole began to shrink even as the pull on him grew stronger.
More, it still wasn't enough! He pushed more aura into it, compacted it farther, tighter, stronger, more painful.
And then he felt it, something had happened to the dream. He couldn't tell if he'd created what Ai wanted or if he was just destroying the aura of the Earth… possibly dooming the whole planet and everyone on it to extinction.
"Ai!" he called out, hoping to hear that it was enough, that he could quit, that it was okay that they hadn't been able to do it.
Ai didn't answer, but a hand gently touched his shoulder and then was gone. Tokimitsu opened his eyes enough to see the shape of his friend, the man who'd changed the world, surround himself with an aura that was too bright to look directly at and then dive into the black hole, being stretched and crushed as he was swallowed. Too late, Tokimitsu pulled his energy away from the gravity well, forcing it to shrink and weaken until it was no more. He looked around the deserted beach, wondering how he would know if it had worked.
'Maybe since nothing's changed, it didn't work,' he thought to himself as his legs gave out and he collapsed into the sand. 'Maybe I just killed my best friend…'
Tokimitsu had always feared that his powers were more useful for taking life than for creating the new world Ai had envisioned and slowly sculpted. Perhaps, he thought as the Para dream began to crumble around him, those fears had not been unfounded…
A/N: I started writing this shortly after I finished the last volume of Psychic Academy. The ending to that series was just… disappointing, not to mention abrupt. Mostly, I just don't like stories that end with the love of the main character's life dying. So this is my fix, or could be, anyway. I don't know if I'll write more to this, if I do the updates will be pretty sporadic, but perhaps having it posted will inspire me… or not. It sort of stands alone anyway with a The Lady or the Tiger type ending. Maybe Ai made it into the past or maybe this was his way of committing suicide because he couldn't live without Mew any longer…
Maybe, if I feel inspired to write more, I'll figure out the answer…