The End of a Five Year Dream
By Pata Hikari
Everything had been hazy for so long.
There was no past, there was no present, there was only now.
My world was confined to this place, the Others left this place, but I did not. They didn't seem to want me to leave, and since my favorite Food came here, I was happy.
He would come often, he would make noises at me. I liked the noises, they were comforting. Sometimes I made noises back at him. He seemed to like this.
He would feed me. His arm would stretch out and I would eat. Somehow I knew that if I took to much from him I wouldn't ever be able to have this wonderful food again, so I moderated myself.
I think I loved him.
...and finally, the haziness disappeared, and I woke up.
Nii-san was lying on my lap, he looked tired, so tired. His face was haggard, his eyes faded... yet when he heard my voice, the brightest smile I have ever seen appeared on his face. His hand reached up, brushing my cheek. "Akiha..." he whispered, "I knew you'd come back... one day." He lowered his arm, and closed his eyes and let out a long sigh.
...I yawned too, I was so tired, what happened? I'll ask Nii-san when I wake up...
...My eyes opened.
I was alone, in a small room in the detached building.
Nii-san's old room.
I was dressed in an old Kimono, I stood up slowly, stretching my arms and legs. Huh? My hair, it was so long. It brushed against the floor. How strange...
I quickly moved to leave this old house, I needed to ask Nii-san what had happened. When I finally opened the door to the outdoors, I stopped. Outside was covered in snow, and I wasn't wearing any shoes.
"Great." It must have snowed pretty heavily... wait... what day is it? What day was yesterday? I couldn't remember...
I stood there for a few minutes, before I heard the crunching of snow, someone was coming. I figured they could explain what was going on. I waited, and someone finally approached the house.
It was Hisui.
She had changed, for one, she wasn't wearing the formal maid outfit I had seen her in for years, she was wearing a white winter coat, and I could seen a pair of jeans as well. Her hair was longer, reaching down slightly past her shoulder. She stopped and stared at me. She looked... nervous.
"Hisui." I said, "What is going on here?" I realized something, my voice was hoarse, like I had not spoken for a long time.
Hisui's eyes widened, "Akiha...sama?"
"Yes, what is it? I'm cold Hisui, and I find myself out here with no heating and no shoes, I don't' want to walk out in the snow barefoot, so can you get me some?" I desided first and foremost to get back to the main building, once that happened I could ask what was going on.
Hisui nodded slowly, "At... once Akiha-sama." She bowed and ran the other way.
Hisui quickly came back with a pair of shoes, and we marched back to the mansion. Once inside, Kohaku was waiting.
...she was different too.
She was no longer in a kimono, and her hair was tied back in a ponytail by a white ribbon. But most importantly... her mask was gone.
No longer was there a cheerful, happy mask covering the face of a sad, tortured girl. Instead there was a true expression on her face, one of a quiet woman who had seen much pain in her life, but still smiled regardless. I had seen her drop her mask a few times, always when I took her blood to strengthen her bond to me as a Synchronizer. It had been almost... refreshing to see her true self. I guess you could call Kohaku my best friend, though I do not know how she sees it, that is how I perceive our relationship.
"Akiha-sama, you're... yourself again."
I folded my arms and sighed, "Who else would I be Kohaku?" This was begining to annoy me, things had changed, I had no idea what had happened, and they seemed surprised to see me even talking.
A nervous expression came across Kohaku's face. "Akiha-sama, to tell you the truth, you have not been yourself these past five years, you have been a... thing, ruled by your Tohno blood, not even human."
"What!?" I shouted, "I've been a... a monster for five years?" I couldn't believe it. "Where's Nii-san!" I needed to see him, to ask him if this was true. If he said it, I would believe it.
Another pained look crossed Kohaku's face.
"Kohaku? Where is Nii-san?"
"Akiha-sama..." Kohaku looked away, "I'm sorry... Shiki-san... he died yesterday."
"Here." Hisui brought me a cup of Japanese tea.
Nii-san was dead.
I did not want to believe it. But Kohaku had spoken in such a serious way, her eyes so sad, that I knew it was true.
He had died, while I had foolishly fell asleep right next to him. He had died smiling, knowing that I was alive and well.
...what a fool I am.
I listened as Kohaku explained how SHIKI had returned, having become even less human then he already was. how he had taken me. How he forced my Tohno blood to awaken, making me into a mindless monster. How Nii-san had killed SHIKI. And finally, how he took care of me, every day feeding me his blood to keep me happy.
I told him! I made him promise! He was supposed to kill me if I lost myself... not... not do that! Not leave me sitting in a room for five years and... and...
...and taking care of me... hoping that one day I would come back...
...and I did. I came back. His efforts succeeded... I was alive again, human again.
Upon inspection, I realized that my hair was still red, my inhuman Tohno powers had been active too long to simply shut off. However, it was now fully under my control, my human side was strong enough now. Because Nii-san finally returned the life I had given him. I had been so confused I hadn't realized it. But now I knew. The "load" that had always been on me, the load of supporting Nii-san's life, it was gone.
"Here." Kohaku handed me a tissue, and I noticed that I was crying. "I'm sorry, Akiha-sama..."
"..." I wiped the tears from my face, "It is alright, Kohaku." I looked down at my undrunken tea. "I... I saw Nii-san, he was happy before..." I couldn't say it.
"We noticed the smile on his face." Kohaku sat down next to me, putting an arm around my shoulder. "He looked so happy, and you looked so peaceful."
I heard the front door open, and a voice called out. "Kohaku-san, Hisui-san... I'm here to take care of... the problem."
"Oh dear." Kohaku sat up quickly. "We completely forgot! She was so insistent that... oh come quickly Akiha-sama, you're definitely needed." She pulled me up by the arm, her voice filled with nervousness.
I started at this woman.
It was Nii-san's "Senpai."
She had not changed at all. It was surprising.
...However, she was dressed in a robe, a Holy robe that non-humans and half-humans instinctively knew to be wery of.
A member of The Church, not the side most people see. No, the side the The Church I'm speaking of is the hidden side. The side which hunts those it considers Heresies against the word of God as they see it. People who devote their lives to exterminating all things not human.
Fortunately, The Church tends to focus on places where there are many believers of their faith. Here in Japan, which has never been a Christian nation, their power is weak. To my knowledge there are only a handful of Heretic Hunters stationed, mostly around areas where many westerners have immigrated and brought their religion with them. And this woman... she called herself Ciel, was different. She worked alone, and was allowed to use magic. Something only the lowest, and highest, members of their hierarchy are allowed to use.
"...why have you come to my house, Ciel-san?" It is best to be polite to these kinds of people.
The woman looked me over, "You seem different, Akiha-san."
"You do not." I answered back, our polite voices mere formalities.
"Indeed." She was different from the cheery, playful senpai that Nii-san knew, this was her true self. A serious killer, who once decided on her mission, fulfilled it. "I'm surprised to see you speaking. I guess, in the end, Shiki-kun was right."
I frowned as she said "Shiki-kun." She had grown more familiar with him since I had last seen her. Still, I ignored it, she could call him what she liked. "Obviously." I brushed back some hair, "So tell me, Ciel-san, why are you here? I heard you mentioning a 'problem' you needed to take care of, what was it?"
The woman frowned, staring at me, "I think you can guess what I was talking about."
"Me?" I asked, though she was right, we both knew the answer, and she nodded in affirmation. More formalities. "Well, Ciel-san. I'm here, feel free to deal with me in whatever way you deem fit." I wondered, for a moment, if she would attack me. If so, there would be no reason to hold back, I would kill her.
But she simply smiled, "Akiha-san. There is no reason to 'deal' with you now."
"Oh?" I knew she would say this, her eyes spoke of someone actually reluctant to fight. It was only when she was driven over the edge that she became am muderer. "I thought, as a half-human, your religion considered me something to destroy?" I was goading her, she knew I was goading her, yet we carried on because to do otherwise would force us to bring up things less pleasant.
"There is a difference between you, Akiha-san, and many other non-humans. If I desired to kill one, I would pick one who is a direct danger to other souls. As of today, you are no longer in that category." She folded her arms, looking into my eyes. "The truth is, we have greater heresies to deal with then a girl with watered down demon blood." With that, she signaled the end of this line of discussion.
Now, less pleasant things would have to come out.
"Ciel-san, won't you join me for some tea?" I invited her. Another formality.
The four of us sipped our tea.
"I must know though, Ciel-san, why are you still here? Surely you had arrived in this non-christian nation for a reason?" I took a sip, "Not many missions take five years."
The woman turned to me, she had removed the robe. She was now wearing a dark dress. "I stayed for Shiki-kun's sake." She said in a flat voice.
"She's been very helpful Akiha-sama." Hisui said, "She's helped the upkeep of the mansion and even watched over you a few times." She offered a reassuring smile, how interesting. Hisui's smiles were rare, and only offered at the most exceptional event. But now she gives them out freely.
"And your superiors are fine with this?" I asked the woman.
"I am free to do as I please." She answered, sipping her tea in a refined way. I guess being a "member" of the tea ceremony club taught her some things. "I have but a single, long standing mission. Until I complete it I am a free agent." She paused, "Though, to tell the truth once I am finished I think I will retire." A frown came across her face. "...if it ever finishes." She said, her voice become tainted with sadness.
Ah, she has emotion after all.
"What is your mission, Ciel-san?" I asked, and I truely was curious.
"..." The woman looked down on the ground, her face was both nostalgic and sad. "I am hunting a vampire that has plagued this world for generations."
"Scary." Kohaku added.
"Vampires. Well, I think you've been looking in the wrong place." I knew full well of "vampires."
The Dead Apostles. Nightmarish creatures that fed off humans. If we half-humans are considered monsters, then these creatures could be considered true demons.
"No, there was a vampire here, Akiha-san." The woman downed the remainder of her tea. "A dangerous one. His soul was like a disease."
"Could not that be said of all vampires, Ciel-san?"
She shook her head. "No, this one is different. A true monster, he learned how to preserve his soul even after his body is killed. Instead, once free, his soul would transmit himself to a new 'host'. Once infected, this victim would invariably turn into a vampire. For vampirism is a sickness of the soul."
Such a unnatural thing. I can see why the Dead Apostles are to be avoided.
"And who was this vampire's victim?" Hisui asked.
"Tohno SHIKI." The way she said it...
"I assume you are talking about my brother by blood?"
"Yes, I do not know the details... but your brother was chosen as his new host. However, he was already halfway there to being a monster." She spoke casually of him, of course, she never knew him.
SHIKI's powers... I knew them, all Tohno's knew of the others powers as a matter of course, to better counter them if the Inversion Impulse strikes. His powers were defined by two "concepts."
"Immortality" and "Fusion"
"Immortality" means that he was difficult to kill. If his body is damaged, rather then break down, the body will change. Vital organs will be formed in new areas, and the body will heal and support itself until he can regenerate the damaged areas. Even the brain would regrow if the brain stem were to survive.
"Fusion" means that he could combine his lifeforce with that of another. Essentially creating one life, shared by the link of two souls. With this, he could gather strength quickly, and combined with his ability of "Immorality" he became even tougher to kill. Which is why he survived father blowing away his entire lower body.
"How odd... the powers he had... they seem particularly adapt for a Vampire."
"That is why he was chosen as the next host." The woman said, "His unique abilities would combine with the vampire powers to create a near unstoppable monster." She shook her head, "But something went wrong, I assume."
I nodded... I remember that day well, it was the day Nii-san was taken from me.
"To put it simply, Ciel-san. SHIKI went into a state we call Inversion Impulse. He lost control of his demon blood and became a monster."
"It was probably his body reacting to the infection of the vampire's soul." She nodded. "He hadn't been expecting that." She held up her teacup, "More tea, Kohaku-san?"
"Sure thing." Kohaku picked up the woman's teacup, and left to the kitchen.
"SHIKI went insane." She continued, "His mind fractured, the vampire was unable to assert its... goals, upon him. This meant that, rather then become a 'Vampire possessing Tohno SHIKI'. It became 'Tohno SHIKI as a Vampire.' He was able to keep his goals and personality... as insane and twisted as they had become."
"I see." I nodded... my mind was buzzing.
All my life I had hated SHIKI. Hated him for Inverting, for hurting Nii-san, ultimately causing Nii-san to leave me...
Now I had learned that all this was caused by some damnable vampire, flitting around the world like some virus.
"And now Tohno SHIKI is dead." The woman continued, her voice expressed sadness. "Normally by now... I would have felt his presence again, as the vampire infects a new host, thus getting a loose idea of where to start investigating. However... it has not appeared. I'm beginning to think that perhaps because SHIKI disrupted things as he did, he shattered the cycle, and his soul now floats around endlessly. Unable to choose a host, shattered and broken by the madness of your brother."
"...so that's it?" I asked as Kohaku came back with some more tea. "If this vampire does not infect another host, are you just going to wait until you die? Waiting for a creature to hunt that may already be dead?"
"Oh, it's not dead." She laughed bitterly... "If it was... then I would know. No, it's just broken. Unable to take a host. It still exists in this world, but is unable to manifest."
It was strange... it was at that moment I realized. I pitied this woman. Her fate was not a happy one. My anger and dislike towards her faded.
She suddenly stood up, "Thank you for the tea, Akiha-san." She bowed, "I will be here for... Shiki-kun's funeral." It was not a request, merely a statement. Even if I told her not to come, she would arrive. So I merely nodded.
"By the way, Ciel-san..." I asked as she left, "How can you be sure when this vampire's existence is gone?"
...the woman stopped. Her back to us, her shoulders slumped, and her fists were clenched.
"Ever day... I stab a sword through my neck. If I die, then he is gone."
And she left, I knew I would only see her once more.
At Nii-san's good bye.
Me and Kohaku were in my room now... discussing what needed to be discussed.
"Have you made arrangements already, Kohaku?" I asked her.
"No, Akiha-sama." Kohaku sat across the desk from me, a few papers rested between us.
"Good, I want a plot of land on the family graveyard reserved. One as far away from Father's grave as possible."
"Of course." She ran a pen over some paper, obviously making the formal request. "Anything else?"
"Yes, send out invitations to all members of the branch families. I doubt any will show up, but we do what we must."
"I doubt the Arimas won't show up." Kohaku pointed out to me.
"Oh don't worry about them, I'll invite them personally. They actually care about Nii-san." Anyone who I know Nii-san truly considered a friend or family I would invite in person. I wrote down the list of those who I knew would actually show up.
The Inui family, the Arimas, and that woman.
"Kohaku, did Nii-san make any other close friends while I was... sick?" Sick was a great way to put it, my mind and body had been taken over by this horrible sickness of inhuman blood I had inherited.
"One, a Magus from Egypt. I've already sent her a letter."
A Magus? How strange. Still... looking at the list, Nii-san had only a few people who would truly miss him. Nine, at my count.
...how sad. Such a wonderful person... a kind and generous soul.
Yet he had put himself through hell...
For a selfish girl. A stupid selfish girl.
"Kohaku..." I whispered, "I wish to sleep, can you leave?"
"Of course." Kohaku stood up, gathered the papers, and left.
Once the door shut, I was alone.
And I let out my feelings. The tears ran down my face, and I broke down sobbing.
"Why... Nii-san... why?" I choked out. "...why couldn't we have had a life together? I... I love you so much... why couldn't you have stayed?"
...I cried even though I knew the truth. Nii-san had been living off my life. As long as he lived, I could only live as I had.
...he had taken care of me until the end. And then... he had smiled. Smiled at me.
Why didn't he hate me? I had caused him nothing but pain. If I hadn't selfishly called him back, let him live a normal happy life... he wouldn't have gone through that pain.
Why did he still love me?
Hours later, I fell asleep, my tears staining the cushion.
The next day, I woke up to find Kohaku gone.
"She had an appointment." Hisui explained as she swept the floor. There was something relaxing as I watched her sweep. Hisui did everything smoothly, with a practiced perfection I don't think I can match.
"Oh?" I sat down in a chair. "What appointment?"
"..." Hisui stopped cleaning for a moment. "Right, you do not know. Nee-san went to see her therapist."
A therapist? Well, God knows she needs one. Sadly, the heads of the branch families expressly refuse any outside helpers come in. Not only that, but they would deny that poor Kohaku actually needs any help. The bastards all turned a blind eye to what he did to her. My hands tied, I did the best I could to help her...
"Yes, it started around three months after you became sick." Hisui explained. Me 'being sick' seems to be the emphusism of choice to explain me. "Nee-san tried to kill herself." Her gaze became distant, she was looking beyond me, into the past. "Fortunately, Shiki-sama stopped her."
"How did he stop her?" I asked.
"He tackled her and tore the knife from her hands." Hisui explained, there was no emotion in her voice. She was explaining the facts. Then again, such things happened so long ago, her feelings over them have likely faded. "Shiki-sama soon learned of Nee-san's past, it took some effort. But he managed to get her to see a doctor." She sighed, she had long stopped working, but now she let go of her broom. "She spent two years in a hospital. Every day, me and Shiki-sama would visit her."
...Every day. And every day Nii-san would come and feed me, keep me from hurting others.
How painful must it have been for him? Seeing two people he knew and cared for in such pain?
"That ribbon in her hair... Nee-san had given it to Shiki-sama before he had left the mansion." She sighed, "Shiki-sama kept it all that time, not even remembering how he had gotten it, only that it was precious." Hisui sat down next to me. "He finally remembered, Akiha-sama. Six months after she had been commited. It's strange, it wasn't until that day, when he returned the ribbon, that Nee-san broke out of her shell, and the doctors could begin to heal her."
"...And all this time, while you two dealt with this. I was in the detached building, blissfully eating away Nii-san's life, bit by bit." My voice was bitter, Hisui and Kohaku were my true family. And all these years I... I had aided in keeping up Kohaku's suffering. I should have ignored the protests of the reletives, and sought help for her.
"...why do you and Kohaku stay here? With your skills... your abilities, there are plenty of people who would want you. And pay handsomely, likely far more then the salary this broken household pays."
I turned to look at her, "Stop calling me 'sama' damn it. I don't deserve your respect."
"...if that is what you desire, Akiha-sama."
Damn it, she's doing that again.
She stood up, picking up the broom, "It is true, Akiha-sama. Nee-san and I have received job offers. Both simple rich families wanting our skills as maids after seeing our work in the Tohno Mansion, and Magi who desire our power as Synchonizers. However, we do not work here for the money, Akiha-sama." She began sweeping again, sweeping with that smooth, relaxing motion. "We work here because we are part of this house. I would never abandon you."
...I did something foolish then. I ran up, and hugged Hisui.
It was a stupid thing.
I am not the type to hug people. And Hisui is not the type to be hugged.
Yet I did just that, we could not be more mismatched. However, Hisui did me a kindness, and said nothing. She simply hugged me back.
I do not know how long passed, could have been a minute, or maybe an hour.
However, the embrace had to end.
"Hisui." I said once we had separated, as if nothing had happened. "I desire my hair to be cut. It is too long to manage right now."
She simply nodded, "I shall get the shears, Akiha-sama."
Snip. Snip Snip.
Hisui, having years of practice from cutting her sisters hair, mercilessly cut off the long red strands.
I wanted it short.
My entire life I had projected an image. A proper Japanese woman. Slender, pale skin, long black hair.
I was sick of it.
"Hisui, once summer comes, I think I'll get a tan." I said. Hah, wait till the relatives see me. They'll surely think I've gone mad, bright red short hair, tanned skin. It was as far from my past image as I could imagine.
"That would be nice, Akiha-sama."
"Yes, once summer comes we're all going on a vacation, the three of us. Perhaps Hawaii? We'll need a beach house to rent, and we'll spend the summer relaxing on the beach drinking Pina Coladas"
"Sounds like fun."
"Yes, fun is what we need. We're never allowed to have fun, well I'm sick of it. Damn the rest of the bastards to hell. They can complain, but I'm tired of living for them. I'm living for me now."
My tirade was interrupted by someone knocking at the front door.
"Excuse me." Hisui paused in her cutting, heading off to answer the door.
I picked up a small mirror and examined myself. It was much shorter then my hair had ever been. Looking at it, I was reminded of Seo Akira. My hair was beginning to resemble hers.
I wonder how my friends from school are doing? I had promised them I would keep in touch after transferring to Nii-san's school. But I had been forced to be able to unable to keep that promise.
When Hisui came back after dealing with that visitor, I decided to ask her about it.
Hisui came back with a guest in tow.
A foreign woman. Her violet hair was tied back in a braid, and the outfit she wore was strange.
I stared at this woman. She just looked at me.
"...Hisui, who is this?
"I am Sion Eltnam Atlasia." The woman introduced herself.
...that name, so overblown and dramatic. "You must be Nii-san's Magus friend."
To my surprise, she looked annoyed. "I am an Alchemist, there is a difference."
"And that would be...? I asked as Hisui resumed cutting my hair.
"An Alchemist relies on technology to perform their magecraft, rather then their natural Magic Circuits." She explained.
"I see." I peered in the mirror again, "Thank you Hisui, this is perfect."
"You're welcome, Akiha-sama."
I turned back to Sion-san. "So, can you turn lead into gold?" I gave her a smirk.
She rolled her eyes, "You, Hisui-san, Kohaku-san, Miyako-san. All of you have asked that." She sat down across the table from me. "Yes, it is possible to transmute one element to a different one. However, this requires having a pure sample of the element. Otherwise the other elements get mixed the transmutation and from there your best case scenario is that it just fails."
"Worst case scenario?"
"Nuclear Fusion, with you nearby."
"OK, so, Sion-san. You are a friend of Nii-san?"
"Yes," Sion-san nodded, "I must say, Akiha-san, you're much better then when I last met you."
"I imagine." I frowned.
"...I'm saddened that I could not find a true cure in time." She looked over me. What?
"What are you talking of, Sion-san?"
"Well, you see, I had been researching a way to suppress your inhuman blood." She said in a detached voice, like a scientist. "Both as a favor to Shiki and because it would be a step forward in my own personal research."
I stared at this woman. A stranger to me, yet she tried to help me. Because... because Nii-san took care of me, and she cared for Nii-san. A bit to much for my liking, given name and no honorifics?
"However, I underestimated the strength of the Tohno blood. To suppress that side of you would, with the procedures I knew, likely damage your mind." She paused, "Severing your link with Shiki was too risky, because while there was the chance that both of you would separate naturally and gradually regain the half of a life both of you were missing, my calculations found it far more likely that instead you both would perish."
"Enough." I shook my head, "I do not wish to hear more of this."
"Very well." Sion-san nodded, and her tone returned to normal. "I suppose you would like to know how I came to meet Shiki?"
I nodded. I like this woman. She was straightforward and to the point, she didn't bounce around with formalities that we humans often cook up to make our lives easier.
"It began four years ago. A Dead Apostle-"
"Wait, another one?" I asked.
"Yes, this one was far worse then your brother. Less of a living existence, and more of a phenomenon. The Night of Wallachia." She sighed, "A vampire that could only exist in the form of crystallized rumors, it took advantage of the fact that there had already been one here. It first took the form of your brother, however with my help Shiki was able to subdue it."
"Thank God." I groaned, "SHIKI just couldn't stay dead, could he."
"Your brother was only a preliminary form, to cause the rumors to gain strength." Sion-san continued, "The true source of the rumors was... well, you."
Humph. "I'm not surprised, there are plenty of bad rumors about the Tohno family. And many of them are even true."
"Yes, the Tohnos. Rumored to be a family of monsters. A daughter of the clan having vanished, with the only word being that she is 'sick.' The rumors merged with the vampire rumors to create the rumor of you being the vampire stalking the streets. And the vampire took that form on the Night of Wallachia, when he was to strike and kill as much as he could." Sion-san stopped her story here, her face becoming uncomfortable.
"I remember when you brought Shiki-sama back from that, he was... not well." Hisui said.
Sion-san shuddered, "When he saw Tatari taking your form, using your voice... he mocked him, laughed at him. Shiki flew into a rage I have never seen before or since. He killed Tatari utterly. He didn't just end the form he had taken that night. No, he ended it completely. The very existence of The Night of Wallachia ended that night, an imposibilty. Even he should not have been capable of such a thing." She looked me in the eyes, "If I had not been there, he would have died right then. Using some alchemaic techniques I know I saved his brain from literally burning out."
The front door opened, "Hisui-chan, Akiha-sama, I'm home!"
Kohaku was back.
Kohaku was happy to see Sion-san, it seemed the two had a sort of friendship.
Sion seemed to have a very unusal ammount of empathy towards Kohaku, I noticed, strange.
"Sion-san has the ability to peer into anothers mind." Hisui had whispered in explanation. "When me and Shiki-sama were visiting Nee-san in the hospital she followed us once. Using this ability... she looked into Nee-sans." She glanced over at the two of them having a friendly chat. "She wouldn't stop crying for hours."
I see. Anyone who had to live and experience Kohaku's memories like she did would probably act the same.
"If Sion-chan's here, I guess I'll have to make a bigger meal then usual!" Kohaku laughed, "How long are you planning on staying Sion-chan?"
"...at least a week." She said simply.
We all knew what she meant. A topic we were all avoiding, so we left it at that.
Dinner was, to my surprise, a loud affair. My entire life dinner had been silent, as we ate and quickly left.
However, this was different. Kohaku, Hisui and Sion-san were all eagerly talking. Mostly Sion-san, as Hisui and Kohaku pressed her on details of how she was doing while out traveling.
And I sat at the end, silently watching. Unable to participate.
"Hmm?" I looked up at Sion-san.
"I asked you what kind of tea do you like?" She asked, her tone perfectly serious, but her eyes were not. "These two heathens don't seem to understand the value of fine British tea."
"Ah, yes. I do perfer western tea myself." I nodded.
"See! The master of the house agrees." Sion-san laughed.
I just went back to my quiet eating.
I felt out of place here, in my own home.
I've been sitting outside the past hour. I just... felt too out of place. I sat outside, watching the moon.
Kohaku came out and stood beside me.
She patted me on the shoulder, "I beleive it is time for us to continue making preperations."
"I see, can we do it out here?"
"Of course." She pulled up a chair and sat next to me. "Now, I've made the arrangements, I just want to ask you to approve one of three invitation desgins I've made." She handed me three sheets of paper.
I looked at them, examining the desgins on them, "Use the plainest one. It's not going to make a difference anyways."
"As you wish, Akiha-sama."
"Tommrow I will personally go out and invite the others."
"Of course." Kohaku nodded. "All that remains is the eulogy."
"...I will do it.
We both sat in silence for a while afterwords. Watching the moon and stars, the glittering snow, and our steamy breath.
"...how do you feel about me?"
"..." Kohaku was silent. "I don't know." She said finally. "For the longest time, you were a simple object, a goal for me. Akiha-sama, I have a confession to make."
"...I wanted to kill you, Akiha-sama. Not out of hate, or anger, or anything that human. I had hidden myself in a shell, become a doll. I needed a goal, something to live for to keep on moving and living. For some reason, killing the Tohno's came to mind, and I made that my purpose."
"In the end, SHIKI-sama came, and made you into a monster, and I thought my goal was complete. However, I could not find another goal. So I tried to kill myself."
I was crying, She was crying. Damn us. We're both so weak as to cry over the past...
"...Shiki-san stopped me. He saved me. Took me to a doctor... I was able to get help. I came to terms to what had happend to me." She took a deep breath, "I... I hate your father, Akiha-sama."
"I hate him too, Kohaku."
"We're in agreement then." And we both laughed.
"Well, Akiha-sama, how do you feel about me?"
"..." I looked her in the eys, "...you're probably the closest friend I have, Kohaku."
Kohaku didn't smile, didn't say anything, she just looked... sad.
"...I'm sorry for that, Akiha-sama. To concider a untrustworthy person like me your closest friend. I... I have another confession to make."
"...I loved Shiki-san, with all my heart."
"..." I looked at her. She looked at me.
"We're in agreement then." I said simply.
...we said no more after that.
It was snowing on the day of Nii-san's funeral.
Me, Kohaku, Hisu and Sion, were waiting for the guests.
The first to arrive was that woman, she nodded towards me, and stood off to the side.
Inui Arihiko. He and his sister, Ichiko had arrived. They were both dressed formally.
"Is that really you?" He seemed surprised, I'm surprised he remebered me.
"Yes, Inui-kun. I've gotten better."
"Yeah..." He paused, "Shiki told me you had some sickness."
I nodded, "We Tohnos are cursed with weak bodies."
"Yeah..." He sighed, "Well... anyways... um..." He seemed unconfortable with this topic, "Hey, Sempai!" Seeing a more familar face, he nodded to me, "Excuse me."
I had never actually met Ichiko before the day I had come over the Inui home, and invited them both, she was a tall, intimidating looking woman. She peered down at me. "You OK?" She asked simply.
I nodded, "I'm fine, Inui-san."
"Good to see... Shiki was a good kid." She sighed, "Hey, Arihiko, don't embarass yourself now!" She went towards her brother.
Sion walked over to me, "Oh great, he's here." She muttered.
I smiled, remembering the story of the time that Inui-kun had taken Sion-san on a "date." Apparently it had ended with both of them being forbidden to ever eat at the Messian again.
Hmm? We both turned around, Arima Keiko and Miyako were there.
"Oh, hello Arima-san, Miyako-san." Sion bowed.
Keiko-san smiled kidnly, "I'm... glad you're here." She then bowed to me, "Hello Akiha-san. I'm glad to see you're finally well."
"You as well, Keiko-san." I bowed to this woman who had raised Nii-san so well. "I only wish I could thank you enough..."
Miyako on the other hand, looked angry. "Dumb Onii-chan. Why'd he have to go." She muttered.
...I see. She's frustrated like me. However... I can't help but feel a pang of jelousy towards her. Unlike me, she was able to live her life with Nii-san.
"I'm sorry.. but my husband is out of the country on business." Keiko-san sighed sadly, "He couldn't make it in time..."
"It's alright. such things can't be helped."
...well, I guess that's everyone. Everyone who cared for Nii-san and was able to make it has arrived. I guess I should start...
...I heard footsteps in the snow.
Sion and that woman were both suddenly staring off in the distance. What are they looking at?
I turned around... and was face to face with a woman.
Tall, long red hair... not unaturally red like mine. But a vibriant pure red. Blue questioning eyes, and a face that looked accustomed to smiling.
"Excuse me." She looked directly at me, "This is the Tohno family graveyard, correct?"
I nodded. "And your business...?"
She smiled, a sad one. "A dear friend and student of mine died. I'm here to pay my respects.
I stared at her. "...this is the funeral of Tohno Shiki."
"Yup, that's his name."
...who was this woman? Still... she knew Nii-san...
"What did you teach him?" I finally asked her.
"...how to live as he wished." She said simply, and walked past me towards the coffin where Nii-san rested. She ran her hand across it, and a tear fell from her eyes.
"...well?" She turned and faced us all, who had stared at this strange woman who had shown up. "Isn't anyone going to say any words? Show some respect? We're all here because this kid was important enough alive for us to want to give him closure after death."
...I finally walked towards the coffin, I cleared my throat. As expected, I would deliver the eulogy.
"Nii-san... I loved him." I said quietly, yet they could all hear me. "He... he gave everything to me." I closed my eyes, remembering him. "I argued with him. I yelled at him. I insulted him. He returned the favor." I laughed at this, and the strange red haired woman joined in. "But when it really mattered, he protected me."
"In the end, he loved me too. I... I made a mistake. I did some stupid things, and he took care of me afterwords. For five years, he made sure I was fed, happy, and healthy... he did it out of pure love. I'm sure... I'm sure the rest of you have seen this kindness."
I looked at them all. Ciel and Sion were crying. Keiko-san was nodding, Inui-san was... oddly enough, nearly crying too. Miyako-san wasn't facing me.
Kohaku was smiling, her eyes shining with joyous tears. And Hisui just... smiled like I had never seen her before.
...I noticed I was crying too.
"...in the..." I choked, "End." I took a deep breath. "In the end. I can only live, for him. He gave me his life." Literally. "And I need to live it in a good way. We all do."
...the strange woman clapped. "Spoken well, I'm sure Shiki's smiling at that, Akiha." She turned, and walked away.
I closed my eyes again.
My dream has ended.
The time to mope, to think of the past is over. No more will I cry over Nii-san.
It's time to live, live a good life.
Not as Tohno Akiha, head of the family.
Not as Tohno Akiha, master of the Tohno Mansion.
But as Tohno Akiha, the girl Tohno Shiki loved.