Authour's Note: Hello! BMNC here, bringing you the sequel to my fanfic, Faux Pas. Likely, if you haven't read the first one, this ill make no sense to you. Also, I promise this gets better after the prelude. It's just a little slow to introduce everything. Sorry... orz ...Thank you for taking the time to look at this. Enjoy the sequel.
Eternal darkness. No light at the end of a tunnel. Endless darkness. Darker than any time or place. Between life and death. Held against a door by chains. It was not the gates of Heaven. It was not the gates of Hell. It wasn't even Purgatory. Without a soul, none of them can be entered. The eye. The shadow. A statue. The door. Bringer of Death. Messenger. Seal. Forever sealed away.
No sound. No sight. No joy. But it wasn't Hell. No evil. No death. No suffering. But it wasn't Heaven. A voice? A word. Familiar language… A title. My title. A light? A color. Familiar blue… A butterfly…?
The chains break. Falling… Stop. Ground? Inhale. Breathing? Look. Sight? Move. Feeling? …sound…?
"Hello, Tetsuya Saito. It's been a very long time…"
Blackness began to fade into a variety of color. Strange yellow clouds in this perplexing room… A large door with many eyes… hanging barbed wire held something up against it…? Where am I? My eyes moved upward to see the one who spoke. I've seen her before. Blue dress, white hair, yellow eyes… it has to be. Slowly, I spoke to her.
"…E-Elizabeth…?" I asked. She flashed a smile of pearly teeth.
"Oh…!" she gasped, "It worked…!"
Bending down, she wrapped her arms around me. Natural body heat radiates through the material of her clothes… I haven't felt "warm" in a long time…
"I'm so happy that I found a way to get you out!" she exclaimed.
Get me out…? My memory's still fuzzy… Where am I? What's going on…? I searched through my foggy memories, trying to figure it out. The last thing I remember is resting my head in Aigis' lap… But nothing after that… Hardly much before it either…
My joints ache as if I remained stiff for a long period of time… My eyes can barely stand the light. What happened to me?
"Elizabeth…? What's going on…?" I asked. She looked at me with a smile.
"Oh, of course," she said, "It shouldn't surprise me that you cannot remember. Allow me to refresh your memory."
Holding her hand out, she dropped a key in mine. It began to glow, blinding my vision. I squinted until the light died down. I was in darkness again. A starry sky. Space? I feel as if I'm lying on glass. Another light shone from above, catching my attention. When I looked up, I saw… myself? What is this?
My other self floated in space, index finger extended towards a massive being. Nyx…? An explosion of light, and my other self was swallowed. When the light faded again, the door from the other room was there. A comparably tiny statue was bound against the door with barbed wire… Wait…
…it's me. The statue is me. My bare body as a limp, dead being. Suddenly, everything came clear. That was me but a few minutes ago… I was sealing the door. I was a seal. Nyx was behind that door. The eye I had been aware of for… however long I was here. This was what happened when I defeated Nyx… When I did what S.E.E.S. supposedly couldn't do.
The scenario faded back to the present, though it appeared no different. Why is the statue still up there if I'm down here? I don't understand.
"Do you remember?" Elizabeth asked quietly, "You've been the Great Seal. You've been the one standing betwixt Nyx and Erebus. You protected many from the Fall. You sacrificed your soul, which became the seal."
"…yes… I… I remember…" I said quietly, sitting up slowly, "…so this is where I've been… all this time…"
"The Abyss of Time," Elizabeth clarified, "Yes... you've been here a very long time. I've been trying to retrieve your soul from this prison. And here you are. After four years…"
"F-Four years?" I exclaimed.
"Indeed," Elizabeth said, "Amazing how time flies, isn't it?"
"Yeah! No kidding! Way to hit me with a bombshell!" I said, "…four years…? I've been away from the world for four years? …what happened to everyone else…?"
"They're living their lives," she said. My heart sank a little. Living their lives, huh? As if nothing happened?
"…do they… remember…?" I asked, "Do they remember S.E.E.S. or the Dark Hour, or… anything…?"
"Of course they do," Elizabeth told me, "In fact… almost exactly four years ago, they came to this very place to find you. They all miss you just as much as I did."
That's a relief, I guess. I sighed, hanging my head a little. Part of me still felt a little empty inside.
"So… now what?" I asked. Elizabeth cocked her head.
"What ever do you mean?" she asked, "We take you back out into the world again. You're alive again, aren't you? Don't tell me you don't want to continue living."
I was surprised.
"B-But I… It's not that simple. I never finished high school. I can't just go back to Gekkoukan," I said, "Won't it be kind of weird if I try to enroll? The teachers will know me… …and… I mean… am I still… eighteen?"
"No need to worry," Elizabeth said, handing me a towel, "Here. My master and I will explain everything when we return to the Velvet Room."
I took the towel, looking at it curiously. The hell? What's this for? I started to hold it against my chest, when I suddenly realized that… I could feel the towel on my chest. It's been so foggy; I didn't think to look down. My eyes lowered to my body for the first time since I had awoken.
Holy crap! Why am I naked? I wrapped the towel around my waist quickly.
"You could have said something sooner!" I exclaimed, cherry-cheeked and slightly irritated with Elizabeth. She smiled slyly.
"I do apologize," she said coyly, "I didn't realize that you were shy. After all, why should you be?"
What the what-? Has she been looking at me this whole time? That's like, non-physical molestation! But she hugged me! So it was molestation! This is why I used to hate when people touched me! You can't trust anyone! That sneaky little-
"Now then," she said, interrupting my panicked thoughts, "We must make haste. We don't want Erebus to realize that you're awake, do we? Shall we leave?"
Despite my fluster, I had to drop it. It's more important for me to know what's going on and what I have to do next. Or what to expect at least.
Very slowly, I pushed myself off the floor, balancing on jelly-legs. How strange to have a surface beneath my soles again… I held tightly to the ends of the towel, tying them together to fashion somewhat of a skirt. This is ridiculous. I look like an idiot.
Elizabeth held out another key, and it flashed brightly again. Enough already, jeez. When my eyesight came back, I realized I was in a dark area. It kinda looked like the inside of a private jet… Where is this?
"Ah, I've seen this face before! Welcome to the Velvet Room!"
I looked over quickly, recognizing the voice.
"I-Igor?" I asked. The old man grinned his mysterious grin. He sat at a small table with a variety of cards placed before him. Tarot cards… A woman sat beside him, staring at me. She looks a bit like Elizabeth…
"I see Elizabeth has finally succeeded in bringing you back," Igor smiled, "Very good."
"Sister, is this…?" the woman asked. Elizabeth grinned.
"The same. I told you I would find a way," she said proudly. She looked over at me, "Tetsuya, this is my older sister, Margaret. She's been taking my place as my master's assistant."
"Does this mean… you're coming back?" Margaret asked hopefully. Elizabeth nodded.
"Of course," she said, "After all, I want to be here for Tetsuya whenever he needs me."
Igor smiled pleasantly.
"Well, it's good to have you back, Elizabeth," he said, then looking at me, "And it's very good to see you're back and well."
He continued to stare at me, and Margaret stared longer, blushing. Holy shit, are they-? AUGH! I didn't need to know this about the Velvet Room people! I can honestly say I'm disturbed to have these people in my dreams!
"Stop looking at me," I said finally, holding onto the tie of the towel tighter. Their eyes shifted to my face, thank God.
"You've sealed away the end of the world for a good four years now, haven't you?" Igor asked, somehow just changing the subject, "I always thought you had reached the end of your journey… very curious."
Margaret was still looking. Dammit, stop it.
"Can I… uh… can I get a change of clothes or something?" I asked. Igor cackled and Margaret looked away shyly. Elizabeth glared at her.
"Oh, of course! My apologies!" Igor hooted, "Theodore, bring a set of clothing for out guest."
From another room, a tall man stepped out with a small set of blue clothes. He, too, resembled Elizabeth. Brother, maybe? He looked at me, surprised.
"Dear sister?" he asked, "You're back…. With a boy?"
"Yes, Theo, I'm back with a boy. Stop looking at him," Elizabeth said, clearly getting irritated. She has no room to be mad. I'm the one clad only in a towel. She looked back at me, a little distressed.
"I apologize for my sister and brother, Tetsuya," she mumbled, "There's a small bathroom up front that you can change in. When you're finished, we have some things we need to discuss."
With a single nod, I quickly shuffled over to Elizabeth's brother and accepted the clothes with a gruff word of thanks, making my way to the bathroom immediately afterwards. I could hear giggling from the other side of the door as I locked it, followed by the cackling of an old man. Oh, yeah. Go ahead and laugh. I bet it's bigger than yours.
Sighing, I dropped the towel and began dressing in the blue apparel. I notice immediately that the legs of the pants and the sleeves of the shirt are a bit longer than I would care for. Was this the smallest they had? The markings on the material are similar to those on Elizabeth's and her siblings'… Velvet Room designs…? Who designed these…? …and why the hell do I even care? They're clothes. Screw it.
I peeked into the mirror, just to humor myself. I look the same as before, yet different… I still appear to be eighteen, but… I don't look nearly as tired as I did the last time I saw myself… of course, that was when I had lost my soul. …so how am I standing here now? Why is this happening four years later…?
…I guess that's why I'm here in the Velvet Room… They have all the answers, whether or not they choose to give them to me. I don't really have a choice, do I? Elizabeth brought me back here for a reason. And they were going to fill me in on what I needed to know. All that was left was to open the door.
After a moment of hesitation, I slowly turned the handle on the door, walking out into the cabin of the plane where the four inhabitants waited for me patiently. As if that was all they did…
Elizabeth's brother smiled at me.
"Those suit you nicely," he said.
"Th-Thanks… um… Theo," I muttered, and went on when he nodded approvingly, "I think they might be a little too big, though."
"That'll fix itself, don't you worry," Elizabeth said nonchalantly, "Please sit down. My master would like to speak with you about returning to your world."
Igor smiled a little, not particularly in a pleasant or sarcastic way, but a smile nonetheless. I took a seat across from him in the small booth of the plane, pulling agitatedly at my drooping sleeves.
"Now…" he said, "A few things you might experience upon your return. Since four years have passed and you have basically been frozen in time, you'll have a lot of catching up to do in growth. You have aged, but you'll be catching up to your age and height in a short time span. Think of it as nothing more than a growth spurt."
Ah. Fun. Growing pains. Hope I don't get stretch marks or anything… But growing pains are the least of my concerns. If I skipped four years of my life, do I have to go through senior year as a twenty-two year old?
"So… um… about school?" I asked, "Do I need to enroll somewhere…? I don't think I can go back to Gekkoukan. That might be difficult to explain."
Margaret giggled a little bit, then dropping the smile when I looked in her direction.
"That is an interesting thing to be concerned about…" Igor chuckled, "Not to worry. You were asked on several occasions throughout the years to skip a grade, weren't you? You're a bright boy."
Normally, I wouldn't have minded that remark, but the fact that the man was just looking at me half-naked sort of clouds the compliment.
Elizabeth placed a rolled up paper in my lap, and it confused me.
"What's this?" I asked.
She smiled a little, replying,
"A diploma, courtesy of the Velvet Room. Since you already have the required curriculum for a final year and passed before that was possible. A man of your caliber can probably go to whatever university you want. You should be proud."
That still wasn't really my main concern. I lowered my head a little, confused. None of this explained why I came back or what finally worked for Elizabeth.
"What am I doing here…?" I asked, "I've been… wherever I was for four years, and now you're telling me that I can just go back into the world? Just like that…?"
Igor didn't respond right away, and when I looked at him, I realized he was deep in thought.
"To be honest," he said softly, "I'm not entirely sure… You've returned to begin a new journey. Perhaps… there were still some regrets…?"
I frowned, puzzled.
"But… I found the answer to life's greatest question… what more is there? And when I find that answer, does that mean I just die again?" I asked.
"Not necessarily," he said, "The problem before was that you didn't have a soul. My last two guests ended their journeys without ending their lives. You sacrificed everything you had because it was your only way out. They had other options. If you think about it, your end was rather admirable…"
"So why am I back?" I asked, "If my death was supposed to be sacrificial and fated, why would I come back? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of my sacrifice completely?"
Igor sighed, folding his hands and resting them against his lips.
"Someone… must have had other plans," he said, "Perhaps… a sacrifice for a sacrifice. It would make sense if you think about it."
"I had my suspicions about it, but I thought not to look into it. Perhaps, that is my next mission?" Elizabeth asked.
"W-Whoa, whoa, whoa," I stammered, "What do you mean? Someone died to bring me back? And I'm supposed to be okay with that? What the hell?"
"No, it wasn't an ultimate sacrifice… I can tell by reading you…" Margaret said, hesitant, "But… they gave a fair trade…"
The hell? "Reading"…? Stop what you're doing. Creep.
Igor smiled a little.
"I'm sure that if you look, you'll find the answer. Only time will tell what the future holds for you," he said mysteriously, "For now, you should go back. See the world you risked everything for. Go forth on your new journey."
I stood up quickly.
"Wait, you just bring me back after four years and now you're sending me off into the world like I can adapt?" I asked, "I don't have a place to go. I don't know what's happened in the last four years. I was dead. How can you expect me to be okay on my own?"
"My, you have it all thought out," she said, amused by my concern, "You shouldn't have to worry about where you'll turn up. You left a mark on the Earth. It will give back to you. …oh, or were you talking about monetary concerns?"
"Um… not… not really…" I muttered, "Though I'm pretty sure I don't have any of what I did before… I can manage…"
Elizabeth was up in an instant with a rather bulky coin purse.
"Now, now," said she, "Don't be modest."
She took a fistful of yen and shoved it into my pocket. Immediately, the shirt sagged heavily. The funny part is that it wasn't actually coins she put in there. Meanwhile, her siblings and Igor were stifling laughter.
"W-Whoa. Um. Okay, that's uh… really… not…" I started.
"Not enough?" she asked pulling out another fistful and filling the other pocket until it too sagged heavily.
WHERE THE HELL DOES SHE ACQUIRE ALL OF THIS MONEY?
"Okay, you're seriously giving me too much," I told her.
"Nonsense," Elizabeth said, starting to pull out another handful, but I jerked backwards quickly.
"No! Seriously, Elizabeth, I'm more than fine!" I insisted.
She shrugged and replaced the money.
"Fine, suit yourself," she pouted.
Igor controlled himself before addressing me once again.
"Well, I don't see any reason for you to be unprepared now. Of course, we won't send you back if that's not what you want…"
Not what I want…? What else would I do? I have the rest of my life ahead of me… Whoever gave me this second chance… must have done it for a reason… To waste whatever they sacrificed… would be kind of selfish… wouldn't it…?
"No, I… I want to go back to the world," I said, "…I want… to see everything again."
The four stared at me for awhile before a slight smile curved Igor's lips.
"Then I wish you well on your journey…" he said, "The world awaits you…"
Elizabeth smiled at me, much like a mother would, and she waved to me as a bright white light engulfed the Velvet Room.
Before my vision faded in, the sound of birds and wind filled my ears. Slowly, I opened my eyes to a familiar sight… How long it had been. I almost felt as if I was supposed to be there. The world was so beautiful, especially knowing that the Shadows no longer roamed about. The sun was in the west, casting a film of orange over the land and everything on it. Endless hills rolled into the horizon, outside the fence that separated the land from the lined-up structures that surrounded me.
I looked a little closer, suddenly realizing what they were. My heart sank a little, depressed at the sight of so many tombstones. Why… was I here…? I looked behind myself at the tombstone I stood before, in awe of its beauty. It seemed like a rather extravagant burial, implying either a great hero or someone with a lot of money. A bouquet of dying flowers lay upon one of the ledges and a small package of sushi was placed carefully on another. People still stopped by here…
Curiously, my eyes searched for the name of the deceased. As I scanned the tomb, something grabbed my attention. Writing… something I'd known all my life…
… … …
Seeing my own name on a tombstone… I never really thought about seeing it like this… Could… my old body still be in there? My old body, scarred with the wounds of Shadows and tainted innocence. The loss of friends and the loss of family. Horrid memories and unforgettable images… I'd been buried there for four years… surely, my remains were nothing but a pile of dry, cracked bones… my chest contracts just picturing it…
"I'm kinda surprised she wouldn't come with us… she always came with us before."
"I dunno… Maybe she doesn't admit it, but as time passes, it gets harder for her. You know she loved him, too…"
I turned my head toward the end of the row, curious to see who had spoken. These voices… I can't be sure, but… I feel like I've heard them somewhere before. In my past life, perhaps? God, I never thought I'd be able to say that and be serious about it.
Two figures approached from the end of the row. A young man and woman reached the top of stairs, each carrying a single lily. The young woman was very beautiful, her light brown hair flipped to one side. The young man wore a baseball cap, his face angular and streaked with a small goatee.
Wait… …could it be…?
They both looked up, at first seeming only a little surprised by the presence of another. But as they began to gaze at me, I could see my emotions mirror in their faces. The young woman's jaw gaped slightly and the white lily in the young man's hand slipped slowly from his grasp, dropping to the floor gracefully.
As I gaze into each of their eyes, I know it immediately. They gaze back, and I know they understand as well. How long it has been indeed…