Title: Faces of the Moon, or, Five Times Sakura Wasn't There
Fandom: Card Captor Sakura
Rating: G (mostly, some chapters rated PG)
Summary: Sooner or later, a boy and the anthropomorphic personification who works for his sister have to have That Talk. Set around the end of the anime.
Warnings: Occasional references to violent death and/or intimate relations (not at the same time). Original characters out the wazoo.
Faces of the Moon
Five Times Sakura Wasn't There
They walked through the park, a dark young man and a pale angel-thing. The slight breeze stirred the angel's fine pale hair and violet vestments, nudged at the young man's wide-brimmed hat until he clapped it on his head more firmly. Through the green-gold leaves of trees that shaded their path they could see the young man's little sister – the angel-thing's employer – in a frilly sundress and straw hat, surrounded by her school friends, all prowling around a giant stone penguin with butterfly nets earnestly brandished in their hands.
Touya, the dark one, looked at his companion and sighed inwardly. Being friends with the figment of someone else's imagination was... awkward, sometimes. However, Touya wasn't one to be put off by fear, danger, or even awkwardness, and here they were. He asked his question.
"Why?" asked Yue, eventually.
Touya said, "Yuki... dreams at night. I think perhaps he would like to talk to you about this but can't, for obvious reasons."
Yue considered briefly, his cat-slit eyes becoming distant, and then nodded. "It is so."
"Huh," said Touya. "I had wondered about that. You really don't read Yuki's mind all the time."
"I am his mind," said Yue.
He bent on one knee, gathering his trailing robes about him, and lightly touched a daisy growing in the grass by the path with his fingers. "It is similar to the transmigration of human souls. The flower is not the petal and yet it is. I maintain mental boundaries for both our sakes: Yukito-kun is an earnest and sincere young man, but he would find knowing the exact movements of the sun, the moon, and all the stars, the shadows they cast on this earth, and the energy-trails affected thereby, to be somewhat distressing. It might distract him from his homework," Yue said blandly. "In my turn, I prefer to give the boy privacy, when I can."
Touya grinned in spite of himself. "Really?"
"Nm. It appears the barriers have been weakening while we slept. I will be more careful. To answer your question, Touya-kun, yes, I have had other faces, led other lives. There were candidates that Keroberous might have chosen before Sakura, and I knew them all, in my fashion."
"The plush toy never said."
"Keroberous has his own way of existing." Yue half-smiled, looking through the leaves at his fellow construct Keroberous who, incarnate in the form of a winged lion-cub, snoozed in the wreckage of a picnic basket, the crumpled sweet wrapper that balanced on his nose drifting up and down with each breath.
"He forgets things."
"Until he needs them, yes."
"And you don't," Touya guessed.
"That is correct," said Yue. "Memory is a primary trait. I can alter the consciousness of my facades and other people at will, but never my own, even were I to desire that."
Touya's dark brows furrowed as he recalled one of his little sister's tales. "The Final Judgement."
"That was Clow Reed's magic, not mine."
Touya's eyes narrowed. "It was vicious."
"Clow Reed designed, created, and worked with magical constructs for far longer than you have had existence," said Yue with asperity. "His judgement is not to be questioned in this matter."
"Clow Reed was an ass."
And then they were standing, the dark boy and the pale angelthing, eye to eye, facing off like angry cats. Behind the heat of his anger, Touya was interested to notice that Yue's pale hair was giving off sparks, his carefully draped vestments likewise. Weird. But then, the whole situation was peculiar.
"Do not speak of matters that do not concern you," hissed Yue.
"It concerns me," said Touya, with soft venom, "because it concerned my little sister. It concerned you who are also my friend Yuki. It concerns me because freakish, cock-eyed magic almost lost me the person I care for most, and I would not even remember what I had lost."
The clear summer's day darkened and the heat became muggy and oppressive. Thunder rolled overhead. In the clearing by King Penguin, little Sakura looked up anxiously, "Hoee?"
With visible effort, Yue and Touya relaxed their shoulders and stepped back. "I'm glad that she did not fail," said Touya, eventually.
Yue looked away. "So am I." His white-feathered wings shuffled. "It would have been troublesome, else."
Touya snorted air through his nose again. "You were saying?
Yue hesitated. "The telling may unnerve you."
Touya's stomach churned, remembering the night before – lying on a borrowed futon in rabbity pajamas, listening to a soft voice across the room talking and talking... names, places, times. Yuki talked in his sleep, but when he did, he wasn't Yuki anymore. In the old days, before he'd lent out his power of spiritual sight to help sustain Yue and Yukito, Touya would have just known what was going on. It was a joyous trade, but now he was, frankly, scared. He didn't like it. "Tell me."
Yue settled on the grass, his back against a rough-barked tree, and tapped the daisy again. "I followed the book, always. It was a protection and an energy-reservoir for the cards, Keroberous, and myself to survive on after... after it became necessary for us to find a new Master. Such a thing of power is dangerous to release on the world unchaperoned so at times I would emerge and form a shape in the world of flesh. On occasion Keroberous would also awaken from his slumber, though his priorities were different. Clow Reed had entrusted him with the choosing of a new Master – it was not chance that Sakura found the book when she did.
"In the early years, the book was in the care of the Li family in Hong Kong. After it left their custody, in the nineteen twenties, I became a silver-grey cat, companion to a girl with eyes like pearls. She was blind, and kind to me.
"In the wanderings after, I have emerged to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park."
"Working for the British," Yue clarified, "and, still in Britain, I was a librarian in London. Once I was a schoolteacher," he said, rueful reminiscence in his catslit eyes. "There were two candidates that Keroberos was considering then, though I could never fathom why. That was in the late fifties.
"Very little happened after. For thirty years, Keroberous slept and I remained in the human world, taking form after form, waiting for an appropriate candidate to come inside our aegis. Finally, the book moved into Tomoeda township and I became Yukito until Sakura was able to seek the cards and, in time, challenge me for their mastery. That is all."
"Poor you," cooed Touya.
"Boredom is not in my nature. However, the power entrusted to the book was beginning to fade. Keroberous might not have had time to locate another candidate after Sakura."
"You would have died?"
"Don't be absurd, Touya-kun," said Yue, his voice gentle as falling snow. "I am a magical construct. How can I die, when I am only a figment of someone else's imagination?"
He moved to pluck the daisy, but Touya slapped his hand away.
"You're a piece of work, Yue-san."
"Thank you, Touya-kun."
NOTES TO: PROLOGUE
Tsukishiro Yukito appears in the story before Sakura opens the book and releases the cards, which means either that Yue had created his false form to be ready if she might open the thing, or that he created false memories in the people around him so that Yukito had "always been there." Either possibility is rather interesting.
As a heads up, yes, you will meet some of the people from the canon story in the following, just mostly in different lives (it was good enough for Clow, ne?). There's a fair bit of gender-switching, sorry. I figured that Yue was fairly androgynous to begin with and that human souls could go either way (reincarnation is a mysterious thing). Also, my assumption is that Yue would create disguises that would be appealing to any potential candidates (because Clow admits that Yukito was created to be someone Sakura would find adorable) and that different people want different things. Like, um, pet cats. Or extra family members. Sometimes lovers. Ah, just read.