Full Title: Princes, Brothers, and Towers: Tsubasa in Fifteenth Century England
A/N: I'm planning to make this fic quite a few chapters, and I'm hoping it'll be my longest yet (although that's not saying much since my stories are usually pretty short). I'd just like to say thankyou to Me or the Wallpaper, one of my favourite Tsubasa Chronicle fan fic writers, for both inspiring and allowing me to use the idea of Fai watching the lives of alternate-dimension versions of himself while trapped in the valley, which in this fic Yûi does instead. That's from the really excellent prologue to her story, "The Fall".
I should probably also mention that the rest of this story isn't going to be written in the same style as this prologue.
Disclaimer: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle belongs to CLAMP, the idea of Yûi watching other Yûis is inspired by Me or the Wallpaper, and fifteenth-century England belongs to history, I suppose, although it doesn't really come in until the next chapter.
There was never much in a valley full of corpses that would stop young children from quickly losing their minds. There was the desperate, unending, unquenchable need for food and water, even if it was not necessary for survival. And then, the desperation to know that they still existed, that they had not fallen off the end of the world like they sometimes imagined, fallen and always falling towards distant stars in space like they sometimes dreamt.
There were some good parts, he would have admitted, if pressed very, very hard to recall that time, trying to avoid thinking of times better left forgotten. There had been moments when the snow would hold back and they would do their best to ignore the multitude of dead bodies, yelling and calling out to each other in tiny voices that would power through the icy air, echoing off the many hard stone surfaces until the entire valley seemed to be full with the hoarse whispers of two lost little boys.
Most of the time they could only hear themselves talking, ears catching nothing but the sound of their own echoing voices, but they knew the other was there, and they could feel each other answer; it was not the words that mattered but the emotion, and the need to keep in contact, the need to know they were not alone. It seemed to be the only way to banish the feeling that though the other was there, they were still by themselves; they knew they could not live with each other, even while they were screaming out for each other inside.
And if the snow would stay back at night, it would almost be warm enough for him to stretch himself out across the sodden ground and he would watch the stars, comforted that they too existed in a place where time ran differently, and that they would always, as far as he knew, continue to exist. But he would never allow himself to think about that further, for if he did he would always decide that he hated the stars for being the same as they were. He wanted to watch somewhere where time continued onwards, speeding past you until you had lost track. It was not something that would continue on indefinitely, but something that was consistently changing and growing and moving. He wanted to watch the real world, so that he would remember that there was a real world.
But still, the stars shone and he was comforted by their bleak light. Sometimes, when he was weak and tired and hungry and cold, he felt as if he was falling into all the distant stars, which shone an eternity away but, to him, seemed to almost be in his grasp.
That had been one of his better memories.
During a period of time that could have been measured in years, decades, or possibly even centuries – no-one is alive now who might know, or might be inclined to tell you – there were not many good memories.
During the normal times, the snow would be cold enough to freeze but not cold enough to numb all pain, and all that could be seen was so white it blinded. Blindness was a godsend in that nothing could be seen, and a curse in that nothing could be seen, when they would lose the reassurance that the other was there, left only with the feeling of each other's presence to guide them. The old scars coating their hands from the first few years – or decades, or centuries – would ache until they scraped their hands raw against the nearest stone, and then ache more.
Once, at the best time, Yûi had pulled himself to his feet and, among the snowdrifts and the forsaken dead, scarred and tired, but, for one of the only times, warm, in his ragged shift, recalling one of the few memories from their free days, memories long erased by their new days, he had danced the ceremonial dance to the sun as Fai, high above, clapped the beat and had sung, in his weak, unused voice.
That had had been an unsurpassed time.
And the bad times? He couldn't remember. His memory was kind. But a few recollections remained; lying face down in the snow, unable to move from the cold and the despair, frozen to the bone, trying desperately to block out the world from his faded sight.
These were the moments where a child would sink further into warm, welcoming insanity.
With their only physical anchor to the still moving world the bodies that were discarded into the valley at infrequent intervals, it was all too easy to imagine that they did not exist at all except in their dreams. Dreaming would, frequently, be all they had to believe in.
When the world offered no more hope, no more promises of freedom, as it did all too often, Yûi's desperation to continue would force him to take refuge elsewhere. He would, almost unconsciously, throw his mind out into a different dimension, any dimension he could reach. To preserve himself, his identity, his sanity, his existence, he would just stop being himself and instead watch the lives of the thousands of Yûis and Fais scattered in different worlds and at different times, as if watching televised, alternate views of his life.
He learnt things about different dimensions then, things like the fact that destiny is always the same, even though it may play out in different ways, and that the soul may be the same but the person might not be, that names could be totally different, that relationships could be different, like in that one odd world where he and Fai were sisters – but all the same, destiny would always be the same.
Which is why Fai D. Fluorite, emerging into fifteenth century England from the mouth of a white pork-bun creature, wasn't that surprised at what would happen.
He'd always known that Yûis and Fais rarely had happy endings, no matter their names or their worlds.
And it had always seemed to him that princes, brothers, and towers, or at least high places, came in threes.