Well, here we have it. Part 2, just as promised if people requested it. Perhaps I am posting it a little early, but who cares. More for the fans. Maybe it'll inspire more people to write for this pairing... because I'd really like to read some.
White. It was a colorscene Hamuko's eyes had long since grown used to, but her body longed to run from. A hospital would have looked like a rainbow of colour in comparison, and there were times when she wished for nothing more than to be stuck in a bed of a ward, rather than being where she was now. The most offered to her for scenery would have been the bizarre clock-like face behind her that was, in a sense, the physical appearance of the seal she'd sacrificed her remaining life to keep locked away. Of course, while she had never regretted doing it, there were times when the brunette would wish that she could turn back time and refuse to become the seal. While it would have meant Nyx's undoubted return, and a constant fight with Shadows, at least she would be able to see her friends; to the life she had fallen in to by chance and grown to enjoy so much.
However, while protecting the people she cared about (and at the same time, the world itself) was not something she was displeased with, a lingering voice in the back of her mind constantly reminded her of the one regret she had tried so hard to ignore; the one thing, or person, rather, that had almost made her refuse to become the seal in the first place.
"Akihiko…" Hamuko mumbled quietly, rolling to lie on her side on what she assumed to be the "ground". Everything around her was a blinding white, and for all she knew, it was actually the ceiling or a wall that she was somehow lying on, but in the end, it never mattered. She was lying on a bed of white, and there was nothing heavenly or utopian about it.
As pushed herself into a sitting position, the sound of the clock behind her echoed throughout the entire area. One strike. Two Strikes. Three. Four… and they continued up until the twelfth. Almost on reflex Hamuko turned and pressed her hand to the clock, waiting several seconds before it seemed to transform, the various circles, numbers, and hands that graced it's surface fading away until it was as if she were looking through an invisible window that gave her a view of another world.
Through the "glass", she could see the dark image of a room lit only by firelight, and the silhouette of a silver-haired figure as they sat in front of it. Hamuko could feel her heart double in speed at the same time her chest clenched painfully. How she had come to discover the "window" to the real world, she couldn't remember, but it was a warm relief from the one she lived in. Alas, as much joy as it brought her to gaze upon the boy she'd fallen for in high school, looking through her mirror brought as much pain as it did joy. The non-existent glass worked as a barrier, keeping her locked away from the one person she wished to return to more than anyone or anything else that she had come across in her short lifetime.
"Merry Christmas, Hamuko…"
"Aki…!" The nickname fell from her lips with ease, the tone of her voice taking a pitch-dive as she struggled to hold back the tears that had threatened to fall so many times before. "Aki, I…" her voice trailed off, the rest of the sentence dying in her throat. Calling out was a futile, useless attempt and she knew it. While she could hear anything and everything he said, it was impossible for him to hear her, and it was that thought that shattered her heart the most. Just another tease from the glass that separated them for so long. "Aki, I'm so—"
"You miss him."
Gasping sharply, Hamuko turned around, her hand falling away from the "glass" and with it, the image of Akihiko. Auburn eyes widened in surprise as her chest clenched tighter in fear, but the feeling faded as quickly as it had come as she locked gazes with a familiar pair of purple eyes. "Oh, Pharos…" she greeted quietly with a small nod of the head. "I… you haven't appeared for a while." The brunette paused briefly. "Why not as Ryoji?"
"It takes more power to appear as him," Pharos explained quietly, stepping toward the clock behind Hamuko as he spoke. "If I come like this… I can stay longer, and do more things."
"More… things?" she repeated, furrowing her eyebrows in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"…How often do you watch him?"
Pharos placed his hand on the clock, causing the image of Akihiko to reappear briefly before he moved his hand away and turned to Hamuko. "That boy. The one with silver hair. How… often do you watch him?"
At first, Hamuko didn't answer, a small feeling of shame welling up inside her. It would be selfish to complain. Claiming it wasn't fair wouldn't change anything, and while unfair it had been, it would have been just as unfair to anyone else who was given the same power she had been. In a sense, she always assured herself that she had somehow prevented someone else from the suffering she went through by it happening to her, and while she still didn't regret her choice, the pain the boy in front of her was unintentionally bringing back full-swing made her feel sick. "…Everyday," she admitted quietly. "Usually at night. He… he always talks to me then."
"Just him," she explained quietly, pressing her hand back to the "mirror" to make the silverette appear a third time. "He doesn't know I can hear him. Aki… he talks to a picture he has of us. Every night, even if he's exhausted from work, he always… tells me something. Sometimes it's only a 'goodnight', but he…"
"Do you miss him?"
Hamuko's mouth twisted painfully, forming a frown that took Pharos by surprise. He sighed quietly and glanced at the clock, knowing that there was no need for an answer. His own guilt had started to claw violently at his stomach, and the reason he'd come suddenly seemed so much more important than before. Ten years of careful planning and thought, and he'd finally discovered what he could do. Still, Hamuko was precious to him, and while his choice had saddened him, in the end, perhaps it was better that way.
"Hamuko?" he called quietly, earning a questioning look from the brunette beside him. "No matter what… we'll always be friends, right?"
The question was odd, but something in the boy's face begged for an answer, despite it already being known. "Of course," the brunette smiled gently. "Always. That won't ever change."
"I see…" Pharos returned the smile, if only painfully. "Then… that's enough for me." He reached forward, pulling Hamuko's hand away from the mirror to make the image of the clock come back. "You can come out now."
"Huh…?" A question had formed on Hamuko's lips, but before she could finish, a figure stepped out from behind the clock and made her jump violently. "What…"
"It is a pleasure to see you again," a male's voice said happily. "It has been too long, my most precious friend."
Hamuko's eyes brightest slightly, perhaps the happiest Pharos had ever seen them outside their gaze aimed at the silver-haired boxer. He watched in silent glee as the brunette hurried forward and tugged the youngest of the Velvet Room's hosts into a hug, making the blond blush heavily as he sputtered out what was supposed to be the rest of his greeting.
"Why—No, how are you here…?" she asked, taking a step back to allow Theodore to breathe. "This place is…"
"You can thank the young man behind you," the blond host said with a smile. "He was the one who helped me find my way here. My sisters and I… have long since been searching for a way to bring you home. Thanks to him, we have finally achieved that goal."
"You… you mean…"
"You should return to him," Pharos said quietly, moving to stand in front of the brunette. "That boy you keep watching, Akihiko, right? You should go back to him. You already used your power to seal Nyx away… so there isn't a reason to make you stay anymore. I have more than enough to… eliminate the problem."
It didn't take the awkward phrasing of the other's words for Hamuko to know there was a catch. She frowned slightly and stepped forward, placing a hand on Pharos' shoulder. "What will happen to you?"
"I'm… going to erase myself from existence…" he explained honestly with a wry smile. "Nyx shouldn't exist in this world, and while you're sealing it away, ten years of saving power… can do a lot. I am going to destroy both Nyx, and the seal… and with it, I will fade away as well. But… it's alright. Because in the end, we'll always be friends, just like you said. That's all I needed… Friends do things for each other, they want to see each other happy. So… I want to do this, for you… to make you happy."
Shaking his head, Pharos chuckled. "I knew you'd protest. That's why I asked him to come… He's going to make sure that you'll make it home. So please, for me… Don't cry, and don't mourn for me. Just get to him as soon as you can. Run and embrace him. That… is what I want in return. My 'thank you'."
Tears had begun to pool in Hamuko's eyes as she darted forward and tugged Pharos into a hug. Words couldn't begin to describe how thankful she was, and any protests she wanted to voice were being silenced by both the boy's words, and her own desire to return home. "Thank you…" she murmured softly. "A million times, thank you…"
Inhaling slowly, Pharos forced another smile and returned the affectionate gesture before stepping back and placing his hands against Hamuko's shoulders. "Remember what I said… to show me your thanks. Go." With those final words, he pushed the female's shoulders roughly, causing her to stumble backward into Theodore's waiting arms.
"Goodbye, my most precious… friend…"
And the white was gone.
"Ah… it appears to be snowing." Theodore muttered as he looked around the street the two of them had landed on. "Of course, that makes sense, after all, it is Christmas. Now, if you'll come this way…" Not bothering to wait for a response, the blond took Hamuko's hand in his own and lead her down the street, an address repeating itself silently over and over in his mind.
It only took them a few minutes for them to reach their destination, and a wordless exchange was shared between them with only a gentle smile and a final hug before Hamuko sprinted toward the door of Akihiko's apartment, a small, glowing key that had been slipped into her grasp clutched tightly in her hand. Theodore watched in silence from the shadows of a tree as the brunette knocked on the door hesitantly, her own nervousness showing obviously in her actions.
My feelings are obsolete in this case, he thought, feeling his breathe catch as the door opened and complete silence fell over the street.
"Hamuko…" a hoarse voice tore Theodore from his thoughts and he gazed at the apartment entryway, waiting until he knew the brunette was safely inside. "You're…"
"Merry Christmas, Aki… I-I'm… home." I'm finally… finally home.