I can hear her voice.
In the breathless quiet, when the air feels stale, I can hear that voice pleading in the night. It comes from mirrors, and from empty corners; from shadowed halls, and from darkened windows. Mumbling, murmuring, every time a mishmash, yet I can make out one distinguishable phrase.
"Nozomi... please... don't leave me... alone in the dark..."
I cram my pink pillow into my ears. It's nearly 2:00 in the morning. I've hardly slept all night. Her words are floating, flapping in a veil, many-tongued whispers; some harsh, some soft. They sound so different, but deep in this nasty knot in my stomach I know its her.
I know its Dark Dream.
And I can't take it any more.
My feet hit the floor as I toss back my bedsheets. Darting to the door, I run, catlike, down the stairs. As fast as I'm running, I'm surprised I don't thunder through the house like an elephant. Equipped with my Curemo and courage, I start tearing down the street, running through town. Nocturnal gamers and otaku make no notice of me as I bolt past their windows, light flickering from RPG-engaged computer screens. This is stupid, I think to myself. You don't even know where you're going. But I can't stop now. It's been months since we've defeated Eternal, and many months prior since we defeated Nightmare.
She's waited so long...
My shadow is a flash in shop windows in the square. Ahead is my target- a large, Greek fountain, donated by a wealthy art conissuer to the town, sitting like a grand maharajah overlooking restaurants and gift shops, its submissive subjects.
"Precure!" the words are forced as I gulp in air, "Metamorphose!"
The street becomes a nebula of light and wonder. Stars blow past electronics store windows and quiet cafes, an explosion of fantasy in a mundane, modern setting. They adhere to my skin as I soar down the street and into the air, my pink hair lengthening, gentle strands forming hoops, and a rosey colored costume appears on me. My target is coming closer. I haven't the slightest idea that it will even work, but I have to try.
Now is my chance... I shut my eyes.
The surface of the water becomes my transport to the mirror world. I feel I'm in an unknown N-Field, a space of holes and stars and confusion. If I blink, it could change, so I follow the invisible thread that is connecting us. My curious other half, my doppelganger, my long-lost friend.
I keep seeing it, over and over, the cracked crystal. A horrible mar on the surface of a perfect diamond. The simple sign that meant she was gone. But she had never fully left, she was here, somewhere, trapped amongst lost memories and unfulfilled dreams.
... Cure Dream... come for me, please...
"Dark Dream?" I cry out. It seems so silly, but I don't know what else to do. I keep swimming through the air, feeling I'm getting nowhere. My senses feel cloudy and unreliable. I need her to find me, to pull me to her. I need to save her.
...Why... why has it taken you so long?
"I'm here!" I just keep shouting. "I'm coming- just wait a little bit more!"
But I've waited so long, Cure Dream... Why haven't you come before... before now?
"I know, I know- I'm sorry! I'm on my way!"
... it's so dark here, Nozomi! Where are you... I can't see you... I can't see anything... I can't even see my dreams...
Her voice is changing. Something is different- something is- wrong. "I can't find you, Dark Dream! Listen- you've got to help me. Just give me a little extra help so I can find you!"
... are you going to leave me again? ... if you cared, you would have saved me ages ago... I've been here so long... so long... Nozomi...
Okay, this is it, I think to myself. My one shot.
"Precure! Shoooting STAAAAAAR!"
Like a missile, I'm hurtled through the air racing through the eerie wonderland. I feel her getting closer. I can feel the space changing. In seconds, the shooting star stops, and I'm in a high chamber, with diamond floor tiles of brown and white. The walls are piled up with toys- forgotten objects of childhood. A giant teddy bear with button eyes, one that's fallen off. Plushies with missing arms and trains and trucks with long lost wheels. Blocks, balls, and wingless airplanes are scattered everywhere. It's like a mausoleum of playthings. Beneath giant doors, intricately decorated, at the far end of the hall, is Dark Dream. She's clutching a teddy bear. It's head is missing.
"Cure Dream." even though she whispers, I can hear it as though she said it in my ear. "You're late."
Months of solitude have not slowed her, and she crosses the room in a pink, violent flash, aiming a punch in my stomach. We two fly back, crashing into the wall, the ceiling shaking from the force of the blow. Gasping, I look up at her, straining to speak.
"Dark Dream, what are you doing? We're still friends, I never forgot you. We're friends..."
My brain goes a little fuzzy. I feel a pain in my stomach, separate from the blow. A pain that comes from dread.
"Cure Dream," her molasses-rich voice has lost the softness she used when she died in my arms. It is as it was when I fought her the first time. "... I will destroy you for forsaking me!"
Before she can throw me, I dodge, flipping over, pushing myself off the ground with my hands. Again she's flying at me. Instinct dictates I kick her, but I can't. She was my enemy, then my friend. Now she's my enemy again?
No, I think. It's still her. She's still my friend.
I'll bring her back from the darkness.
My moment of reflection costs me- she's soared up into the air and dives behind me. A pink force shock sends me into a high arc, and I land in a pile of toys. One of them emits a perky squeak.
"Why," I can hear tears in her voice. "Why did it take you so long? You don't understand what I've been through... I've been so alone- all alone in darkness!"
Dark Dream screams, her voice reverbrating off the walls, the arched cieling rumbling. I grab two plushies, jamming them to my ears, trying to block the sound. I can't withstand this attack for long. I don't want to do this, but...
A giant octopus plushie (with only 6 legs) knocks Dark Dream over, stopping her sonic scream. It seems like a weak attack, but it is the best I can do. I still can't bring myself to hurt her.
"I'm sorry you've been alone so long," I stumble down off the plushie mountain. "I didn't know where you were. I couldn't find you. But I've missed you so much!"
Apparently, my sentiment is lost on her, as she dives at me and her boot makes contact with my shoulder. Spinning, I slam into the ground, the wind knocked out of me.
"Then you should have come! I waited for you! And you abandoned me!"
"I didn't abandon you!" I clutch my stomach, coughing. "I didn't know you were alive! When Shadow broke the crystal, I thought you were gone! I began to hear whispers, but I didn't know it was you!"
I throw my arms up, blocking a pink energy shock as I lay helpless on my back. "But then after a few months, the voice became clearer, and I knew it had to be you!"
"I was alone SO LONG!" she screamed, collapsing. Tears begin to stream down her face. "I just- just want to leave. There's so much darkness here. I was floating in that space so long- it took ages to find this room- and then I couldn't leave. I was scared I'd never find it again..."
"We can leave together," I sigh, smiling. Does she see? I wonder.
"No, no, - we can't leave. We can never leave. We'll get lost."
"Don't worry," I take her hand. "I know the way..."
She looks down at our hands, now clasped together. I can feel warmth in her fingers. She looks into my eyes, trusting.
"Here we go!"
The shooting star carries us both, speeding through the darkness. I don't even feel the water of the fountain as we break the surface, the starlight carrying us home. We land through my open bedroom window and I detransform. Plucking a pair of clean, pink pajamas, I hand them to her, and lean against the bathroom door as she changes. I can't help myself from talking in an excited whisper.
"... oh, and we'll get you a uniform, or you can wear my old one! I'll bet you'll fit, I mean we are the same size, and mom will be so happy to have another Nozomi around- but we won't call you Nozomi or anything..."
she interrupts me as we climb into bed. "Oh- I've been thinking,"
I curl up next to her, two friends, finally reunited.
"I want to be called Chiyu."
Done quickly whilst bored at work. The name "Chiyu" means 治癒 "healing, recover, cure" or 知友 "close friend". I think the meaning of Naoru ("healed") is closer to what I was going for, but I think Chiyu sounds cuter. o^.^o thanks for reading~!