A/N: I got a lot of things going last month (who doesn't?). Well, here's the epilogue. I apologize for being late again.
Disc: standard disclaimer applies
"You're going to bring this to them?"
Meena nods. Zeema sighed sympathetically. "If only the he would wake up…" He murmured while walking down the corridor to his store.
Meena watched him disappeared behind the door before she continued her steps. She balanced her tray of food in a hand before opening the door. Wataru immediately helped her transporting the tray to the desk between the beds.
It was a simple room with adjacent bathroom. Two single beds separated with a desk occupied the room, leaving some space for chairs. Wataru had drawn one at each bed. The curtain was drawn and the garden was laid behind the glass window. Meena could also see the porch where Wataru had sat a month ago when he was talking with Kattsu.
She knew just like that time, Wataru wasn't interested in the beauty of the garden. While she was there staring off outside the window, Wataru had helped Bresin to a sitting position. She walked to his side.
"Let me." She said and gestured him to the other side.
It was the fourth day since their return from the swamp. Everything ended so fast that she didn't even know what had happened. After Wataru had been thrown, the crystal had suddenly emitted a blinding light. When they had gained back their sight, Mitsuru had laid on top of Bresin. Both unconscious. The crystal was embedded in the door and the whole stone corridor wall had turned grey.
It had been a hard work carrying them back to Jozo and had him carried them to Zeema's village. They had landed somewhere outside the village to avoid ruckus but Jozo was too conspicuous to be missed. They cut off the rope and freed him from the barrel. He had flown somewhere to continue his interrupted rest.
Zeema had immediately called for the best healer available. The healer had diagnosed them to have extreme exhaustion and prescribed a few supplements drug. As they were in medicine seller's house, they didn't lack any. Aside from the drug, they had been feeding them with porridge.
Lione had departed the next day, answering a summon from Highlander post in vicinity to dispose a band of bandits. Meena didn't blame him and she believed Wataru too. It was not like Lione could do any better by staying at the sick's side. He might as well use his skill to help other people.
Wataru had been keeping watch on them since they were back. He rarely left the room. Meena had to settle with harsh word of how he wouldn't be useful as a caretaker without enough rest – forcing him to return to his room for sleep. Meena and Wataru took turn even though Zeema had offered them his maids to keep watch instead.
In Wataru's watch, Bresin woke up once last night - but for a very short moment. Healer was immediately sent. He had declared that the worst had passed and she would regain consciousness by tomorrow. Mitsuru, on the other hand, still on the condition as the first time they had carried him. Shallow breath, weak heartbeat, and pale complexion. At times, he would have a slight fever - just like last night.
Meena was going to feed Bresin when she heard a soft groan. She knew she wasn't imagining it when she saw the girl's contorted face. Wataru, who was also going to feed Mitsuru, immediately came to her side.
"Bresin…" Mitsuru called her softly.
Meena grasped the girl's hand. Bresin's eye flipped open. She blinked a few times before groaned with four days unused cord.
"Where am I?" Bresin frowned hearing her own hoarse voice.
"We're in Zeema's house." Meena answered, rubbing Bresin's palm with her other hand.
"What happened?" She wrenched her eye shut.
Wataru chuckled. "Actually that is our question."
Bresin look at him. "How's your friend?"
Wataru looked behind him glumly. "Not better than you."
"You should eat and rest first." Meena instantly said when Bresin had groaned again. Wataru sheepishly scratched his head for being inconsiderate.
"Thank you Bresin. For what you did back there. You can explain later. Rest well." He patted her and returned to feed Mitsuru who he also had put into a sitting position.
Meena held out a spoonful of porridge. "Open your mouth."
"I can feed myself." Bresin said while weakly reaching for the bowl.
"You will do no such thing. Open your mouth." Meena said sternly.
Bresin sighed and complied. Meena was satisfied when she drifted to sleep not long after her lunch.
Wataru nodded sleepily in his chair. Bresin had been moved to her own room. She was healthy enough to feed herself but under a strict advise of not to tire herself. Wataru was now staying in the same room as Mitsuru so he could look after him all the time. He was about to nod off when he heard a soft groan. He jerked in surprise. He blinked his eyes open, hoping it wasn't his sleepy imagination.
Mitsuru's face twisted slightly. It wasn't his imagination! He immediately stood up in anticipation, gently calling his friends name. It was like a honey in his mouth. Mitsuru opened his eyes drowsily.
"You're awake! Thank goodness! You're awake!" Wataru exclaimed. Perhaps it was relief, or it was happiness but he didn't realize it when the tears formed in his eyes.
"…Wataru…" Mitsuru whispered. His voice was hoarse and cracked badly.
"I'm going to call in healer!" Wataru said and grasped Mitsuru's hand tight. "Stay awake!" He dashed out of the room.
"I'm glad you're awake." Meena smiled while sending in a tray of porridge.
Mitsuru looked at her questioningly but nodded appreciatively.
"Oh, I haven't introduced you. This is Meena, you have heard about her. She's one of an important a friend who had helped me a lot during this journey." Wataru explained while helping Mitsuru to sit for his dinner.
"Nice to meet you." Mitsuru smiled tentatively. A smile which was returned by Meena a few folds wider.
"Get well soon. Wataru didn't tell us much about you. We need to know the person we have saved better." Meena said jokingly. Mitsuru chuckled.
Wataru took the bowl and started to feed Mitsuru.
"I'll take the bowl back later. You don't need to trouble yourself." Wataru said to Meena thankfully. Meena nodded and left the room.
Wataru sat at the chair beside Mitsuru's bed. He had told Mitsuru the overall story of his adventure. He wanted to wait for Mitsuru to get better before he delved into the details. Unexpectedly, Mitsuru wanted him to start immediately.
"I've been asleep for so long. I'm actually afraid to fall into it again so soon." He said wryly.
Wataru looked guilty. Mitsuru immediately continued, "Don't worry, it's not your fault."
"Yes, it is. You were there because of helping me."
Mitsuru rolled his eyes. He lightly tapped Wataru's hand. "That's what pals are for." He said before retracting his hand and exhaled a shaky breath, as if moving his arm took a great effort.
Wataru frowned deeply, Mitsuru light touch lingered on his hand. "Why… Why did you do that?"
Mitsuru tilted his head, not understanding the question.
Wataru stared at him. "Why did you sacrifice yourself for me?"
"I told you, that's what good friend…"
"Good friend doesn't value more than your own life." Wataru cut in. He looked grave.
Mitsuru stared back silently.
Wataru sighed and looked down, breaking the eye contact. Pain was obvious in his face. "Don't ever do that again." He whispered and reached to grasp Mitsuru's hand tightly. From his sitting position, Wataru bent over to the bed and lean on his elbows, pulling Mitsuru's hand to his forehead, clasping it with both of his hand. Mitsuru's hand felt cool and smooth against his skin. "I think I will go insane if that happens again, this is the second time, I do not – will not – have the third time." Wataru murmured to himself.
Mitsuru looked at Wataru with gentle expression before turning into a smirk. "You want me to promise not to sacrifice other people. Now you want me not to sacrifice myself. Don't you think it's a bit too much to ask?"
Wataru jerked his head up. Annoyance flashed in his face when he saw the smirk.
"You know everything has a price. You have to make an equivalent payment." Mitsuru said with an all-knowing expression. Wataru had an urge to laugh.
"I'm so not going to hear your quote from manga." He retorted, laying down Mitsuru's hand on the bed but still reluctant to let it go.
"Ah of course, I forgot you read more manga than me. Which explains why your marks are just average. You should read your text book more." Mitsuru was nodding while talking.
Wataru rolled his eyes. "Yes, genius. But I'm not aiming to become a professor so average is fine."
They stared at each other before breaking into a fit of laugh. Oh, how Wataru missed the day he could hear Mitsuru's laugh.
Mitsuru stayed awake as long as he could, hearing Wataru recapitulated his story.
Mitsuru woke up before lunch time. They slept late last night. He chuckled weakly, somehow find it amusing that they behaved as if this was one of their common night stay-over event. Wataru was sleeping like a baby at the other bed.
He pushed himself to sit up. He gritted his teeth. It took more effort that he had imagined. He waited until his breath was regular before swinging his feet to the ground. It annoyed him to behave like an incapable grandfather. He forced himself to stand. A second after he managed to stand straight, his knees gave way. He fell to the floor, bumping his bed frame in the process.
Mitsuru eyed his friend warily, Wataru stirred in his sleep. He waited for a moment before convincing himself that Wataru wouldn't be awake. He assessed his arm and hip with a grimace. He would have bruises soon. Leaning on the bed frame, he heaved himself back to the bed with difficulties. He was panting hard and sweating. He resigned to wait for another day before trying to get up by himself again.
He sighed in frustration, recalling how he had been in running the dark places for a long time without even being tired. But then again, that place was not related to physical body. He scrunched his eyes shut. He couldn't sleep. It might be awhile before he could get used to the dark again without being afraid of those tentacles.
It had been so close. They had been grappling to bind him, to pull him into some unknown place. He had been running from them for so long when they started to get hold of him. They had emerged from nowhere altogether and in an instant, his arms, his legs, his torso, his waist… all were wrapped. He didn't need light or mirror to know that horror was reflected in his face. He couldn't fight them, they were too many. He had been scratching the floor, vainly trying to get hold of something, to stop them from pulling him further.
The more they drag him, the more he felt the pain. The sting had crawled steadily from his feet to his head. Along the time, it had become so unbearable that he shouted in pain. Tears involuntarily slid down his face while he was waiting for what he was so sure approaching - his death. Suddenly a light shone upon him. He could see everything clearly. His own body and - to his horror - his blood all over the black tiles. The tentacles had vanished under the light. The light had shined blindingly and he couldn't remember anything after it. When he had awoken, Wataru face was leaning upon him.
Bresin yawned and stretched her body. She felt perfect today. It was almost a week since she woke up. She heard Mitsuru had regained his consciousness too. She decided to drop for a visit today. Besides, it would be a good chance to let Wataru know. After careful consideration, she had settled to return to Crystal Kingdom tomorrow. She had not had a chance to properly mourning for her Master. Now that everything had quieted down, it was time to do her duty as a disciple.
She took a bath and wore a sleeveless lilac dress taken from the cupboard. She couldn't find her usual garments and going out in her sleeping gown was not a better choice. She stared at the burn scar on her left hand. She used to hide it with a long glove because it invited contempt and teasing from other people. She herself even viewed it with a sick expression whenever she looked at the mirror. But right now, she was kind of ignorant about it. She wondered if it was caused by her new friends who didn't look at her with disdain nor pretend not to see it when they saw the scar. Their acceptance had boosted her confidence so she could accept herself too.
She walked down to Wataru's room crossing the small garden. She knocked before opening the door.
She stared at the pale boy while Wataru took his time introducing them. Mitsuru was surprised looking at her burn scar. She had expected that coming. Nevertheless, she noticed something was different from how Mitsuru looking at her. It was as if he recognized something. She mentally recalled whether she ever met him somewhere. Nope, she was positive she had not.
"I don't mean to be offensive but where did you get those scars?" Mitsuru asked.
Bresin chuckled inwardly. Of course, common question.
"I don't remember. I had this since I was saved from a burned forest." Bresin answered.
Mitsuru eyes fractionally widen. Of course, why wouldn't he? There were only a handful of people carrying an armful of burn scar. His words were choked in his throat. What would the girl do if she knew he was the one who caused her childhood misery? The image of little girl burning in the forest flashed in his mind.
"It's been a short time but I'm here to tell you that I'll be off tomorrow." Bresin said after she saw that Mitsuru didn't say anything.
"Eh? So soon?" Wataru responded in surprise.
Bresin nodded. "Yes, I want to mourn for him properly." She replied in a gentle tone.
Wataru 'aaah' and scratched his head in comprehension.
All these time, Mitsuru was drowned in his own thought. Suddenly he snapped out with a guilty expression. "I'm sorry you have lost your important person because of me." Mitsuru said. He might not be able to tell her the truth now, but all along, he had intended to apologize.
Bresin was taken aback at the turn of the conversation. She immediately waved her hands even though she was still looking sad. "Nah, it's not your fault. He had fallen for his own desire…"
Mitsuru looked down and whispered, "yeah… he did. As I did."
"Anyway, I'm going out to the store and find Meena. I heard she's helping Keema out." Bresin said and retreated slowly to the door. "I need to thank her and tell her too that I'm going."
Wataru nodded and she was gone behind the door. Mitsuru immediately felt his shift of attention.
"Don't blame yourself, it's not really your fault. Master Lambda was just…" Wataru paused, couldn't find an exact word. Instead, he patted Mitsuru's shoulder.
Mitsuru waved his head. "No, that's not what I was talking about…" He murmured.
"Get better soon so we can go back! I wonder how long the time has gone in the other side. I hope no one file us a police report…" Wataru said suddenly with a funny worried expression.
Mitsuru chuckled. "You bet they would. We had been gone two months already. It would have accounted for more than two days."
Wataru held his head as if he had a sudden headache. "Uh… then we should start thinking of reasons right now."
Mitsuru smirked. He had one already but he was not going to tell his friend yet. Let Wataru be worried much longer. Mitsuru looked out of the window. It was a bright sunny day even contrasted to a dark foreboding he was sensing. Everything was fine up to this point and he hoped it would last at least until they return.
~ Seal Fin ~
A/N: Thank you very much for reading guys but no, this is not the end (or I'm just being bitter than this story didn't get that much yaoi scene even though that was the one I planned). I'm going to write the last ark but I need to complete the plot first. I got half of the events planned but still lack the completion ^^;; I don't think I will be posting it any earlier than last quarter of this year though cause I'm also trying to write my original story.
Here is a very short excerpt of the next arc:
Annoyance was evident in Mitsuru's expression. "What do you mean the door won't open?" He pressed.
Master Guru Lau looked amusingly at him. "I always thought that you are a very smart boy. Apparently your intelligence grows adversely by age. I was saying that you cannot return." He scratched his bearded chin with humour.
Wataru could see his friend was not up for humour at all. Wataru patted Mitsuru's shoulder indicating him to calm down. Due to some unknown reasons, Mitsuru seemed to be easily irritated by Master Guru Lau. "Is there any way you can open it?"
"I would have done it if I could, boy. Do you think I'm happy keeping two noisy boys here?" Master Guru Lau sipped his tea.
"Then do you have any idea when the door will be opened?"
Master Guru Lau looked thoughtful. "Might be tomorrow, or the day after, or ten years after… I can't predict that."
"So basically you're useless aren't you?" Mitsuru couldn't help but pitched in with a mocking tone.
Master Guru Lau slid him an irritated glance. "My task is to guard the passage of in and out. Things you asked have never been a concern to me."
"Then who can open the door?" Mitsuru restrained the anger in his voice.
"It's obvious. The Goddess of Fortune." Master Guru Lau answered him as if it was a ridiculous question.
"Does that mean we need to collect crystals again?" Wataru uttered with wince.
"Traveler can only call Goddess once." Mitsuru interjected. "I have failed and Mitsuru had succeed once. None of us can do it again." He looked troubled.
"Then does that mean we're stuck in Vision?" Wataru jaw dropped.
Before his horror could fully sink in, Master Guru Lau said lightly, "I can transport you to her castle."
Both Wataru and Mitsuru looked at him incredulously.