Farewell, My Almost Friend
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! This was partially inspired by the prompt Rivals at Tutu Contest and is an addendum to episode #13, one I feel was greatly needed. Why in the world, in the episode, didn't Tutu and Mytho make some acknowledgment of the fact that Fakir was not there when the illusion ended? And what were they thinking as they ran through the catacombs under the church? All that time, they both believed Fakir was dead. There was no reason to think otherwise.
When the underground lake mysteriously vanished, leaving behind only the barren lakebed that had existed for the past two hundred years, Tutu stared in stunned shock and amazement. All of the ominous beauty of the stage had been an illusion crafted by Kraehe. The magical crows that had formed the setting flew up and away, the dark feathers swirling to the ground the only sign that they had ever been there.
Tutu looked back to the lakebed, her stomach twisting in knots as she scanned the cracked and empty surface. It was impossible. Fakir was not to be found.
Tears pricked and filled her horrified blue eyes. She had seen Fakir fall back into the water after breaking Mytho's sword. He should be there! Right now, he should be there. She trembled, bringing her hands up in front of her chest.
"Tutu." Mytho laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "What's wrong?"
She shook her head. "Fakir," she managed to say. "He . . . he's gone." She reached up, trying in vain to brush back the now-flowing tears. "For just a moment, I thought maybe we could still . . ."
Still what? she wondered. Save him? Or even just to take his body so that this abandoned location would not be his final resting place? In any case, she had been certain he would be there. For him to be so unexplainably gone left her with an intense, horrible feeling of helplessness and only made her anguish all the more pronounced.
Mytho turned to stare at the vacant lakebed as well. "Fakir," he whispered.
He only vaguely remembered the events of what had happened while his emotions had been asleep. It had been different than it had been before Tutu had started restoring his heart to him. He had been alert then, albeit devoid of feelings. But after Kraehe had pulled out his shard of Love, he had only been aware of things through a haze.
Yet he remembered Fakir staggering onto the bank, badly wounded and breathing heavily as he had shattered Mytho's sword. And he remembered Fakir's final, gasping words to Tutu while falling backwards into the water, the last of his strength exhausted.
He stared again at the lakebed. For Fakir to not be there, what did that mean?
He swallowed hard. For the first time that he could clearly remember, he knew what it was like to lose a dear friend. And yet, somehow, he knew that this was not the first time it had happened. He had lost Fakir before, long ago, in another world.
He looked back to Tutu, who was still trembling with grief. "Tutu, let's go," he said quietly. Fakir was gone; there was no point in staying here. And they needed to hurry. It would take hours to return to the surface.
She looked up at him, disbelief flickering in her eyes for only a moment. Then she gave a weak nod, acknowledging the logic of his words.
It took a great deal of courage and strength to take the steps towards the exit. Even as Tutu broke into a run alongside Mytho, she was leaving part of her heart behind in this desolate place. She blinked back another round of tears as they began searching for the pathway that would lead them back to the ground level of the old church.
It was strange, she reflected, how she and Fakir had ended up like this—allies instead of rivals or even enemies. When this had all began, she had never once thought that she would ever come to like him, let alone be able to work with him. He had been so mean, so cruel, opposing her mission to restore Mytho's heart at every turn.
But then she had learned the truth. He had known that if Mytho had his heart back, the Story would start to move again. The Raven would be revived and Mytho would have to fight and suffer. Fakir had only wanted the same as her—the best thing for Mytho.
Yet in the end, he had decided not to get in her way any longer. When he had realized Mytho wanted his heart restored no matter what happened, he had backed down. However, he had still not wanted to work with her. If he had not agreed that they could look for Mytho together after Kraehe took him, then who knew what would have happened at the lake.
She ran faster down the dark, musty corridor. Mytho was saved, Fakir, she said silently. But I couldn't have done it without you. We saved him together. And I . . . I'll make sure to keep seeing to his future, just like you said.
If Fakir had lived, would they have gone back to being rivals? No, she did not want to think that. She wanted to believe their alliance would have continued, even if Fakir had stayed gruff and aloof most of the time. Maybe even, eventually, they could have become friends.
It was stranger still that, in spite of the terrible time they had getting along, she had felt at peace with him learning her identity. Though that had been after she had found out that Fakir wanted only to protect Mytho. Who knew how she would have felt otherwise.
And then she had also revealed her other identity, her true self, to him during their search for Mytho. It had been necessary, not something she had done because she had wanted to, yet again she had felt that peace. When it was Fakir, she felt alright about him knowing.
On the other hand, with Mytho she dreaded having him find out the truth. She did not want him to know she was actually a duck. But that was because she was afraid he would not love her if he knew . . . wasn't it? And with Fakir, there was not that problem because she was not in love with him.
Still, it would not be fair to keep it from Mytho indefinitely. She had to tell him sometime. Certainly not now, but sometime.
She looked to Mytho, who had been quiet on the trek. Was he sad about Fakir too? Among the feelings he had back were Sorrow and Loneliness. Of course he would be sad. Fakir had been his only friend for years. And he would have only recently started to realize that. But she did not want to bring up the subject. Maybe he did not want to talk about it.
"Fakir was very brave."
She started at Mytho's soft voice. "Yes," she said, her voice threatening to break. "Yes, he was."
"And so were you, Tutu."
She slowed to a halt, turning to look at him. "Mytho . . ." She gave a weak smile. "It was because of Fakir and you. Fakir gave his life for you. I thought about his courage, and your courage, and I was able to dance to save you."
"Thank you." Mytho glanced back the way they had come. "I wish I could thank Fakir too."
She looked back too. "So do I," she said, the sadness creeping back into her voice.
"Let's keep going," Mytho said after a moment. "There must still be a long way to go. I haven't seen any lights."
Tutu nodded in concern. Were they even going the right way? What if they could not get out of here?
She pushed back the growing fear. They would make it out. They had to; she had promised Fakir.
But the longer they wandered, the more her worry increased. Every passage looked the same. Had they been this way before? She was not even sure. They could have been. If she was Ahiru, she would be running in distressed circles right now. But as Tutu she had to have grace and poise. Still, she could not refrain from showing her concern as she cast her gaze about, desperately looking for some clue as to where the right path was. At her side, Mytho was looking as well.
"This way," a soft, almost ethereal voice spoke out of the darkness.
Both of the worried travelers started and turned, their eyes widening at the sight of a red-orange glow far in the distance. Was it? Yes, it had to be. It was fire. It was a light! New hope burned in their hearts, lit by the dancing flames.
Tutu and Mytho ran forward, keeping the blaze in sight. It still seemed to take so long to get back to the staircase leading out of the secret tunnel, but as the fire grew larger and brighter they pressed on, determined to reach it.
And then, as they at last climbed up the steps into the night air, they found the unthinkable, the unimaginable.
Mytho was the first to notice. He pointed out the sight to her and she turned, looking toward the blaze. Just ahead of them, a form was stretched out in front of the fire. Though there was no movement, one leg was brought up at the knee. A dead body would not lie like that.
Her heart skipped a beat. Then she was running, not daring to believe, and yet she knew, even before she was close enough to see his face. "Fakir! Fakir!" she called, falling to her knees beside him. Behind her, Mytho ran up as well.
After a moment his eyes weakly opened. He took in the scene, looking confused at first. But as realization dawned, tired relief spread over his features.
Ahiru's joy was full as she and Mytho spoke to him. She told him of how he had given her the strength to save Mytho. He looked to her, then to Mytho, as her heart swelled. Fakir was alive. He was alive! And somehow, she knew that they would not go back to what they had been before. The experience tonight had changed them both, and their relationship with each other.
From here on, she hoped, they would continue the Story as friends.
Yes, calling her "Ahiru" at the end, despite her still being Tutu, was on purpose.