Title: French Braid, part VI (Yomi)

Characters: You guess

Rating: T

Warning: This fic has NOT been beta read because this is a fun fic to write (and therefore not serious), so prepare for some serious grammar, syntax, mechanical, and probably spelling pains.

Time: Indeterminate

AN: The literal translation of Yomi is "yellow spring." In Asian legend, the yellow spring is the path that all souls must wander before they rise to nirvana or the eighteen levels of hell. It's somewhat like purgatory but not at the same time. Oh. Looking for a Beta who has time.

Summary: So Fuuko finally learned how to french braid...but the incident started an all out war between her and Mikagami...And something strange happened.

--

Fuuko's head felt awfully hazy, like she was in middle of a nuclear fall out. She half wondered if this was heaven, purgatory or hell. She maybe in heaven because she always did her chores, went to school regularly, and believed to possess an unrivalled belief in honor. She might be in purgatory because of all her fights and not to mention the world was gray like a black and white film. She could be in hell because Mi-chan should have cursed her there ten-times over already like she did to him.

"Silly, I wouldn't do that," came the only voice that could fry the girl's calm.

"Mi-chan," Fuuko growled without turning. "What are you doing here?"

She could feel the shrug that accompanied the words. "I've always been here. Why are you here?"

"I asked you a question." Fuuko felt her fist tighten involuntarily. So typical of him to dance around her questions. She whipped around, only to see something that made her gasp.

The ever so fastidious Mikagami Tokiya was in a white blood-soaked white sack gown. He looked so slender, as if he had been starved for days.

Fuuko rushed over to him. It was not the first time for her to see him so injured, but the panic was still there. "Mi-chan! What happened? Stay here. I'll go get Yanagi."

Before Fuuko could leave though, a hand grabbed onto her wrist, keeping her back. "No. You mustn't. You'll get lost and never return!"

"But..." Fuuko tried to struggle, but when she could finally focus on a face, she saw Yanagi's face. Fuuko felt the a chill down her back as the image became clearer and clearer, reveling a waterfall of the palest hair and delicate features.

"Mifuyu?" Fuuko managed to croak.

Mifuyu Mikagami, the sister that Tokiya rarely spoke of, was in front of Fuuko in the flesh. The blood splatters were fashionable designs on the loose gown that hugged the figure. The elder Mikagami did resembled much of Yanagi on the facial features, only that this girl Mikagami carried a surreal sense of cool grace and elegance. And unlike Tokiya, Mifuyu seemed to lack all the spite and edges that characterized the younger brother.

"You're...more beautiful than I imagined," Fuuko blurted shamelessly as she stared at the woman. While Yanagi was quite pretty in a cute way, Mifuyu had a maturity to her that Yanagi could never hope to match.

Mifuyu's lips blossomed into a faint smile, making anyone's heart flutter in anticipation.

Fuuko was beginning to understand why Tokiya had obsessed over his sister. Anyone would had obsessed over her.

"Thank you, Kirisawa-san," said Mifuyu in that bell-like voice.

That response puzzled Fuuko. "Why are you so formal?"

"Force of habit," Mifuyu said with that same faint smile. "My mother came from an utmost traditional family. So much that even our grandfather found her rigid." Mifuyu's expression turned mysterious. "You probably found this out from Tokiya, no?"

The mere mention made Fuuko upturn her head in annoyance. "Do we have to talk about that jerk now?"

"I'm still curious," Mifuyu reminded, exhibiting that relentless persistence that characterized a Mikagami.

Fuuko pouted as pale blue eyes bore down on her. If there was one thing that the two siblings had in common, it was their cool penetrating gazes. "No. Mi-chan doesn't talk about himself a lot even after all we've gone through. I have to sneak into the teacher's file room and look at his school files to even get his birthday. Did you know that he sucked at dodge ball? Did you know he how mean his pranks are? Did you know that he got Recca and Domon dancing Yatta in their underwear? He's such a jerk!"

Mifuyu chuckled. "I would say that he actually like you guys to do such a mild thing."

Fuuko just looked at the woman as if she was crazy. "Mild?"

"Tokiya has a penchant for the extreme, even as a child," Mifuyu explained. "I recall a high school bully who tried to pick on him back in elementary school. Well, the bully tried to take Tokiya's money on Tokiya's first day at the new school..."

"And Tokiya beat the bloody shit out of him?" Fuuko continued for Mifuyu. Mi-chan never seemed like the type to be manhandled.

Mifuyu shook her head. "No. Tokiya was beaten up and got his money taken. What did you expect? He was less than half the size of the bully.

"Oh." Fuuko felt disappointed.

Mifuyu continued. "Unfortunately for the bully, Tokiya reported to the police, the parents and to the high school. Tokiya managed to have the bully expelled from the high school with two choices: military boot camp or jail. Of course, the bully chose boot camp and was never heard from again. Tokiya real revenge almost always manages to be complete." Mifuyu's look turned thoughtful, almost sad. "Tokiya is an angel to his family and even pretends to be an ignorant fool to enhance the effect. But he inherited extreme intelligence from our mother, and knows exactly how to be a demon. If he wants to break something, he would likely break exactly where it would hurt the most, not fiddle with childish pranks."

They came to an uncomfortable pause before Mifuyu spoke. "Still, I believe that he has soften since then, and no longer see the world in only black and white. I believe he owes that to you specifically."

"Me?"

"Tokiya took after our mother in that he allows no mistakes. Yet he made that exception for you. So why don't you ask him if he actually likes you or not. I'll bet all of our fortunes that he does like you. It's just difficult for him to express."

"Even if he does like me, we'll likely end up killing in each other," replied Fuuko, her mind already imagining the blunt objects she would throw at him.

"That would be a waste of his effort to save you, right?"

That brought a frown to Fuuko's lips as she tried to recall her last memories. "Err...Where are we exactly?"

"We're in Yomi."

Fuuko blinked as the words rang in her head. "I'm dead!?" Fuuko squeaked pitifully.

There was a mellifluous laughter. "No, silly. You're just asleep so you're a little more attended to the spirit world than usual. That's all."

"So I'm just dreaming?" Fuuko offered dubiously.

"Maybe."

"Maybe!? That doesn't comfort me!"

"Haha," the laughter was light like a wind chime. "Sorry. I couldn't resist teasing. Alright. I'll tell you the truth. You are going to live, plain and simple. That car didn't hit you, but you did smack into a light pole, head on, at full speed. So I imagine that you'll be dizzy for a while."

Fuuko frowned. She really did not need to know about the light pole part. "Okay. That is a relief. I mean, living. So why are you here?"

At that, Mifuyu smiled sadly. "Because, I'm waiting for someone to come home soon."

Now Fuuko was getting slightly creeped out. Still, she pressed on, "Who?"

Mifuyu never said anything.

--

"Fuuko, baby?" called a familiar voice, dragging the dazed girl back into reality.

Taking a deep breath, Fuuko finally opened her eyes to see the bleached white sheets of a hospital bed, a muscular nurse checking her IV's, and the worried expression of her mother.

"Mum?" Fuuko managed to whisper only to notice that her lips felt swollen. Her eyes rolled around, looking for some type of reflective surface only to see her normally generous lips puffed up nearly twice the size. Upon closer inspection, she noticed a brilliantly clear mark down her face of where she smacked into a pole, just like her dream had described. A brace at her neck forbid any movements. "Is that you?"

"Oh, thank goodness!" Mama Kirisawa cried as she leaned forward to give her daughter a crushing hug. "I was so worried!"

Fuuko herself was hardly worried. She had participated in fights resulting in worse than a simple concussion. Still, the frantic look on her mother's face made Fuuko felt really guilty. She was the type of daughter who wished not to worry her parents. "What happened?"

"Well...you ran into a pole! The emergency workers said that you were running so fast that it gave you a concussion. They were so surprised that you didn't herniated one of discs in your neck!"

Probably because of all those fights back in middle school, Fuuko thought to herself. During those interminable three years, her body was probably used to the abuse, particular to the head and neck. Then there was the disastrous friendship with that idiot Recca, Domon and Yanagi and...

"Where is Mi-chan?" Fuuko croaked. It felt unnatural to think of him last, considering that he possessed every ounce of her thoughts for the past week.

"Who?"

"Mikagami Tokiya, the girly man," said Fuuko exasperatedly. Seriously. Mi-chan looked shocking enough with that ghoulish white skin and hair that it should be obvious as to whom she was referring to.

Mama Kirisawa still looked a little confused.

"I was chasing after someone," said Fuuko. "He should be about this tall," she gestured with a hand. "With this long of white hair," another gesture of the hand to the waist. "And a scowl like this," Fuuko frowned deeply in attempt to imitate the man.

Mama Kirisawa blinked then became quiet.

Fuuko was getting irrationally irritated. "Where is he?"

Mama Kirisawa had no answer.

"Did he just ditch me?" Fuuko felt her heart skip a beat.

Still no answer.

"Did he at least help me here?" A feeling of panic stirred in her stomach.

Mama looked away.

By now Fuuko was becoming very paranoid. "Is he okay?"

"They tell me that you were in middle of the traffic when a young man jumped out and pushed you out of the way. But that put him in the way of a speeding car."

Fuuko felt her heart begin to pound. She was not going to like what Mama had to say.

"He was hit by the car," Mama continued softly. "He was thrown into the windshield, cracked it and flew up before coming back down. They tell me that he managed to call an ambulance and me."

Fuuko gripped her bed sheets. Why was Mama refusing to look at her?

There was a sigh and a shake. "I've never heard such a coldly demanding tone that I thought it was just a joke...until I got a call from the emergency operator. By the time I got there, I saw the paramedics taking him away with a sheet over his face." Mama finally returned Fuuko's gaze, tears flowing down the side of her face.

"They say he won't live to next week. And even if he did, he would not ever walk again."

--

Fuuko stilled her heart as she stood outside the Intensive Care Unit with a name hastily scribbled at the end of a clipboard.

"Mikagami."

What should she say to him? Would he even be conscious? It was alright midnight. Should she even knock? Should she apologize? What could she say to a dying person?

Dying...

Fuuko felt her legs weaken and her body shake. She was no stranger to death. Who would be after her own experiences? But death of a close friend? One that was her fault? Would he blame her? Would he ever forgive her? Would he hate her? Or would he not speak to her at all?

And to think all this could be traced back to something as innocent as braiding hair.

Fuuko suppressed a shiver. She still remembered his airy touch, daft and precise. His expression so severe, and so sad when unguarded. And that strange dream, where Mifuyu asked her about asking that one question...

Still, she mustered up her courage. If the situation was as terrible as Mama had described, then she must take this chance and right things between them. With a gentle click of the door, she cracked the door open.

Apparently, someone was already visiting and chatting.

--

Tsukino drew long on her cigarette as she sat crossed legged next to Tokiya sick bed.

In all honesty, Tokiya did not look terrible. He had a couple of cuts on the face, a few bruises on his limbs, and obvious bandages on his mid section and over his eyes.

Tsukino herself did not know what to think of her present predicament. She was actually quite surprised to get a phone call from the hospital. Tokiya could take care of himself, or else the whole apartment wouldn't be so shaken when he was around.

So he is mortal, thought Tsukino as she exhaled. It did not even seem possible for him to be hurt, considering that he was always so immaculately dressed and giving off death glares.

Apparently, he wasn't as unconscious as she first thought.

"You know I hate cigarette smoke," he said suddenly.

Tsukino scoffed and blew smoke to the side to hide her surprise. If Mika-chan could play it cool, then so could she. "Whatever. Your guardian told me to watch you, not go cold turkey." She drew another drag and deliberately blew into his face.

Tokiya, however, had something else on his mind. "My guardian? Dr. Hashiba? Was here?" He sounded like he did not quite believe it.

"Yep. Sew you up and everything," said Tsukino. She had to withstand a long technical lecture before she was allowed in the intensive care unit. "Says that you're lucky to be alive. Plus, the Doc even made sure that the school kept shut about it, saying that you need the quiet and rest, if you're to live through this."

He seemed fairly ambivalent about it. "Expected."

"Death wish, Tokiya?" Tsukino's tone was dry. She had seen so many of her own colleagues who wished to die due to shame of their profession. Tsukino did not care though. She was alive, and for that, she was glad. The fools are those value not their own lives.

"No. Lecture," He was irritated at the prospect.

That Tsukino did not expect. "What? For saving your girlfriend?"

"For not avoiding a scene. Dr. Hashiba has high expectations...some unrealistic."

Tsukino shuddered to think what Tokiya would consider as 'unrealistic' expectations. After all, Tokiya was Mr. Perfect. He lived on his own, had perfect marks at school, born handsome, and not to mention that he remained unspoiled despite the massive fortune left to him.

Tokiya's mind was on the other topic "She is alright?"

With that response, Tsukino's thoughts turn wicked. Where else better to confess eternal love than a hospital? "So you not denying that you're a couple?" she implied something with her phrasing.

"Answer the question," Tokiya pressed in his usual commanding tone.

"She's fine. Your doc looked at her too, says that she'll make a full recovery, live a disgustingly long life, and should probably dye that horrible color back."

"I see."

"What? No second opinions? You've never been so trusting."

"Dr. Hashiba has never been wrong and never will be. It's...disturbing when you think about it." He had a strange look about him. "I'm glad she is alright."

"You really do care about her, don't you?" asked Tsukino, observing him. "I can tell because you actually saved her from getting hit by the car, despite your less than altruistic personality and mild tolerance to her antics."

"Toleration is a virtue."

"You nearly neutered Mister Mob Boss for just looking at you," Tsukino pointed out. Tsukino finally snubbed out her cigarette on the counter, leaving a darken char spot. "Your level of tolerations is deplorable. If it was just some ordinary passer by, you probably would let them get hit and don't give a flying shyt about. From the way I see it, Mika-chan, you like her. There is no use trying to act no nonchalant."

Tokiya did not answer for a long time. But when he spoke, he asked a question instead.

"How much do you miss your family?"

"Now Mika-chan..."

"Don't you wish you still can go home to your parents? To have siblings to fight with?"

"Not everyone can have that," said Tsukino as she fished out a silver canteen and drank deeply. It always unsettled her when Tokiya asked such difficult question and she could only drink before she can respond. "I can wish forever that my parents didn't get shot, that my siblings didn't get run over. I can wish that I don't have to work at the Penthouse, but not everyone is so lucky."

Tokiya sighed. It did not seem Tsukino understood what he meant. "When either you or I are gone, our friends will mourn, but in time, they will forget. Family is different. Fuuko is a daughter, sister, and cousin to many people. They will not forget."

Now Tsukino was annoyed. "So you're saying that her life is more important because she has more family members? And we are not important because we're orphans?"

Tokiya shook his head sagaciously. "You and I know keenly what it is like to lose a family, the impossibility to forget. The rage against them for the fact that they left you behind. Do you wish others to know that fury?"

By now, Tsukino was slightly pink from the alcohol, but still frowning. Tokiya always made too much sense. "You certainly put an ugly face to something as scared as life and death."

"Fuuko is only a friend. She'll forget, in time."

"You say it as if you expect to die," Tsukino half joked.

Tokiya kept silent for another long moment before saying, "I'm tired, Tsukino."

Tsukino shook her head and stood up. "Then I'll tuck you in." She leaned over to give him a kiss on the forehead only to snap back as if burned.

She wasted no time to call the nurse while the extra pair of eyes and ears slipped out of range.

--