Okay guys, it's time for the sparks to fly it's showtime! I hope this is going to live up to everyone's expectations but if not suggestions and corrections are welcome. Now on with the show!
"…And that's pretty much what happened." Hikaru said, glancing at her friends who nodded in agreement. "After that we just spent time here whenever we could, hanging out with our friends, cleaning out monsters, enjoying the annual celebrations. Her gaze flicked towards the swordsman leaning against a wall in the corner. He nodded, his eyes filled with a warmth and gentleness that only showed when he was looking at her "And spending time with Lantis." The last sentence she spoke quietly but in a tone that said everything about how they felt about each other.
Satoru was no halfwit and immediately saw which way the wind was blowing. Ahhh. He thought. That explains a lot. His next thought almost made him groan out loud Masaru and Kakeru are going to have a litter of kittens. He glanced at Lantis in the corner, mind you he looks like he could handle those two and then some, now wouldn't that be a sight? The idea of his two brothers challenging the master swordsman was an amusing one but no, inflicting that on him would be just too mean, especially after what he's done for Hikaru.
"Well, I can see why you kept this from the other two Hikaru but I wish you'd told me this sooner." He said out loud. "You don't know what it was like to watch you go through all that not knowing anything and not being able to help or protect you from it." He took his baby sister's hand and squeezed it gently. "That's what big brother's are supposed to be for right?"
Hikaru nodded. "I'm sorry Satoru. It won't happen again."
Satoru laughed at that, "I hope not Hikaru, discovering you're the Pillar of one world is quite enough thank you, I'd hate to find out in a year's time you've gone and created another one or something."
Hikaru giggled. "No I don't think I've done that yet but I won't be making any promises about the future." Then she stopped giggling. "But there is one more thing to tell you, before we take you home."
Hikaru held out her hand to Lantis, who came over and stood behind her, a pillar of support as she took the first step towards the rest of their life together. "Last night Lantis proposed to me and I said yes." She said bluntly.
Satoru had more or less been expecting something like this since he'd noticed the ring on that finger of her hand and the way she and Lantis seemed to gravitate towards each other, an almost palpable connection hanging in the air between them. He looked from one to the other, taking in everything about the pair, from the hand Lantis placed on his baby sister's shoulder, to the fire in her eyes as she looked at him.
Satoru had watched silently as Hikaru had grown and matured in the past few years, noticing again and again the changes in her that seemed to have no cause and yet continued their inexorable march until he was forced to admit that the sister who sat in front of him was a babe no more but a woman, grown into her own self and forged by a fire he hadn't known existed. It was to this woman that Satoru bowed his head in acknowledgment before glancing up to the man behind her. He was another matter entirely and Satoru was going to have a long talk with him. However that would wait until Hikaru was not present, Lantis would have to win that particular battle on his own.
"Well I can see that your brother has had a lot of shocks today Hikaru and you've given him a lot to think over hmm?" Caldina, ever wise to which way the wind was blowing stepped in to smooth over the stretching silence. "Why don't you take him back to familiar ground and answer any questions he comes up with later. I think it's time you all went back to your world at least. She looked pointedly out the window where the dark sky was now illuminated by the moon only, stars twinkling between the clouds.
"Caldina's right." Clef said, "It's been just over an hour and you said that would be cutting it close. You'd best leave now if you don't want to cause problems on your return. Bring him back another time and we can give him a proper introduction to Cephiro then."
Umi and Fuu nodded. "Then let's return home." Fuu said and stood. Umi followed and Hikaru turned to Satoru. "Um, do you want to come back?" she asked, almost too scared to ask in case she heard the wrong answer.
Satoru nodded slowly. "Yes." He said. "I would like to get to know this country and its' people who you've learned to love so much." To his credit he didn't even glance at Lantis when he said 'people'. Standing up he bowed to the Cephireans, "Thank you for allowing me to come here and see this place for myself. He turned to Lantis and looked him straight in the eye, his gaze conveying his thanks for looking after Hikaru and acknowledgement of the strength which had allowed him to do so. Lantis nodded in return. Nothing more needed to be said, the rest would come later.
Hikaru glanced at the two of them curiously, wondering what was going on but decided it must be one of her brother's 'things' which he wouldn't tell her anyway and let it go. Maybe she could coax it out of Lantis later. Lantis. Her heart leapt for joy that Satoru had at least acknowledged him and if he hadn't completely accepted their relationship he hadn't rejected it outright either. The most important step had been taken and the rest would come later. For now though, Satoru would probably have a million questions to ask when she got home and he actually started processing what she'd told him, no doubt she'd have to tell him everything all over again before he got it all straight. She grinned. It was wonderful to finally spill the beans and share Cephiro with him.
Still grinning she stood and joined her best friends and pillars of support, pulling them both into a hug. "Thanks girls." She said with heartfelt sincerity. "You're the best friends a girl could have.
"We know." Umi and Fuu chorused, smiling and hugged her back.
Satoru came over and squeezed her shoulder. "Let's go home girls. I think we've all had enough excitement for one day."
"Bye gals, see ya soon!" Caldina ran over and gave them all a huge hug before dancing back to Lafarga. Umi blew a kiss to Ascot who smiled and Ferio came over to give Fuu a kiss on the cheek before retreating. Satoru watched all this with no little apprehension, it seemed to him that these three girls were going to cause a storm in both worlds and he'd inadvertently started the ball rolling. Oh I hope their families all have strong hearts. He thought. Cause if those girls do what I think they're doing all sorts of shocks are going to be had. Well I suppose it would have gotten out sooner or later, I just hurried things along.
Resigned to the future he put his hand on Hikaru's shoulder and once again, the floor disappeared from under him and they flew through the door to appear on the observation deck of Tokyo Tower once again.
The girls dropped their hands but immediately hugged each other, too happy and keyed up to quite believe what they'd just done. "I'm so happy for you Hikaru." Umi said and then turned to Satoru. "Thank you for listening the way you did Satoru and thanks for believing us."
"I didn't really have much choice." Satoru grinned ruefully, "but that's my own fault, not yours." He looked at Umi to Fuu. "Are you going to be okay, breaking the news to your families?"
The two girls traded looks and grimaced. "If you'd come with us when we tell my sister Kuu, I'd be grateful." Fuu said. "It might make things easier for her if someone else who's gone through it all already is there to help."
"Yeah, Kuu should be enough for my parents," Umi added. "We wouldn't want to crowd them with too many unknown people and they know Kuu better than you. No offense.
"None taken. Just let me know when you need me, Hikaru has my number."
A staff member came over to tell them that the observation deck would be closing shortly for cleaning before the dinner guests arrived so the three girls quickly said their goodbyes and parted ways at the foot of the tower.
For Hikaru the walk home was a cheerfully silent one, her thoughts focused on Lantis and Cephiro and how happy she was to finally be able to share them both with her family. Satoru's thoughts on the other hand were heavy. He'd always known deep down that Hikaru would eventually leave him and his brothers, whether it was for marriage or her career she would never have stayed with them her whole life but to go to a completely different world? Satoru knew his sister and knew that she would have thought about the consequences of leaving her own world for Cephiro but something inside him told him that there were things she hadn't considered, would probably never consider and which were up to him to take care of if she did decide to permanently live in that other world. It was looking like a stronger and stronger possibility too.
Accepting the inevitable -Satoru was not one to stay on a sinking ship –he began to plan in earnest as they walked home. The first order of business was to let the other two brothers know, give them time to accept the reality of what he was just beginning to understand before Hikaru actually took them to Cephiro for the first time. Satoru's shoulders slumped, the fireworks for this were going to be spectacular –but then they straightened. He'd make Masaru and Kakeru see reason, they could not be permitted to cause trouble for Hikaru in her new life. Yes, he'd have to have words with them before they went to Cephiro and the sooner the better.
As they reached the front door Satoru turned to Hikaru. "I think we'd better tell the other two right away." He said, "If we give them time to get used to the idea they'll cause less trouble."
Hikaru nodded. "I know." Her small hand slipped into his and squeezed. "Thanks for not flipping out, I don't think I could have coped if all three of you did."
Satoru squeezed back. "oh ye of little faith. Come on, it's now or never Magic Knight."
Hikaru smiled. "Yeah." She pushed open the door. "Masaru, Kakeru." She called as she walked in and put on her inside shoes. "Are you home?"
"We're in the lounge Hikaru?" Masaru called.
"How was your weekend?" Kakeru shouted at the same time.
Hikaru walked into the lounge to see her two brothers just finishing their night's homework, snacks littered the coffee table and she could see they'd had some sort of dinner from the plates piled in the middle. Satoru walked in behind her and raised an eyebrow at the mess. His two younger siblings, grimaced but cleared away the dishes as Hikaru went to her room to dump her bags on the bed and gather her courage for the task ahead.
Coming out she saw Satoru had gotten the other two seated as far from anything breakable as possible and was just turning off the tv when she came in.
Kakeru bounced on his seat impatiently as she took her own on the couch across from him. "So what do you want to talk about sis?" he asked curiously. "Satoru said you had big news!"
Masaru leaned forward, "Did you make into that university you applied for? Have you won a competition we didn't know about? Gotten a prize at school?
Hikaru shook her head and took a deep breath. "Before I tell you anything you have to promise me three things okay? 1) You will stay silent until I'm finished, no matter what. 2) You will not treat me like I've gone crazy –Satoru will tell you that everything I'm about to say is one hundred percent the truth and you'll be able to see for yourself in the next couple of days if Umi and Fuu can get their part done, if not you'll just have to wait for the weekend. Finally, and I mean this" she pinned the two boys sitting opposite her with a gaze as serious as they'd ever seen "you will accept my decisions as the facts they are and as such are not going to be changed. Am I clear?"
Seeing their sister in such a rare serious mood the two young men both nodded, curiosity eating them alive as to what knowledge they would now be privy too. Then Hikaru started to speak. Their loving indulgence soon turned to horrified silence as they listened to the tale of heartbreak and despair their sister relentlessly unfolded before them. She spoke the unvarnished truth, sparing herself nothing as she relived the events that led up to her awakening as the new Pillar of Cephiro. In helpless anguish her brothers watched the tears run down her face as she recounted Zagato, Emeraude and Eagle's deaths seemingly unaware of the liquid on her cheeks even as it streamed down onto her lap.
It was only as she told the story of Cephiro's restoration and the union of all four worlds that her tears slowed and then stopped, the hurt in her eyes being slowly replaced with gentle sorrow which gave way to calm acceptance and finally happiness and a joy so profound her brothers could only wonder what had caused it. As her tale came to a close Hikaru saw the stunned looks on her brothers' faces and turned to Satoru for support.
"Give them a minute, sis." He said, patting her shoulder in acknowledgement of her courage. "They're in shock, they'll snap out of it in a few minutes."
Hikaru nodded and turned back to wait for the storm to hit.
Kakeru was the first to recover. Launching himself from the couch he pulled Hikaru into an almost bruising hug. "Why didn't you tell us!" he said fiercely, echoing Satoru's words from earlier. "We love you Hikaru, how could you make us watch you go through that alone!"
Masaru stared at her and then turned his gaze to Satoru who nodded in answer to his silent question. He grinned shakily, "I don't really know what to think right now Hikaru but you've never been one to lie and I don't think you could come up with something like this even if you wanted too. He came round to hug her other side, no less tightly than Kakeru. "Thank you for finally telling us the truth."
Satoru looked on as his three younger siblings embraced each other, tears starting to run down all three of their faces. He surreptitiously brushed a few from his own eyes before tapping Hikaru on the shoulder. "You still have to tell them about that." he reminded her. "Best get it all out in the open or they'll be trouble when you take them over." Not that there wouldn't be trouble anyway, that went without saying.
Hikaru nodded, gulped and shifted so that she was sitting with her brothers in front of her once more. Taking their hands in hers she looked them both in the eye. "Masaru, Kakeru. There's one more thing you need to know. I told you about Zagato and his brother Lantis who saved me when I was in trouble right?" they both nodded. "Well, during the battle with Debonair I got to know him a little, well actually a lot and I began to like him."
She glared at both her brothers who shut their mouths, just in time remembering the promises they'd made.
After ensuring their continued silence Hikaru resumed "As the Pillar of Cephiro I spent a lot of time with him and Clef getting things back they way they used to be when Emeraude was alive. I know right now it might be hard to believe but…" she took a steadying breath and said the next part as fast as she could "I love him with all my heart and I want to spend the rest of my life with him. Yesterday he asked me to marry him and I said yes. He gave me this."
She held up her left hand to show them the ring they'd noticed but dismissed and now examined for a second before the impact of her words set in.
"WHAT!" Kakeru yelled, leaping to his feet in righteous anger. "Our baby sister is getting married!"
"Who the hell thinks he's worthy of our Hikaru!" Masaru bellowed, waving his arms in fury. He turned to his like minded brother. "No one gets to our sister without going through us first! We'll beat him to a pulp!"
"Right!" Kakeru grabbed his hand in brotherly covenant. "We've never even met this guy he can't take away our Hikaru without proving himself to us first." Their gazes darkened as they realised something simultaneously. "He's gone behind our backs! That lowlife!
"Scum of the earth!"
Satoru decided things had gone just about far enough and stood up. "Enough!" he roared. To his satisfaction his two brothers immediately fell silent though the mutinous jut of their chins suggested he'd better keep an eye on them in case they tried anything ridiculous. Looking past them to Hikaru he saw that she was still kneeling on the floor, her hands clenched into fists and her shoulders shaking, in anger or sorrow he couldn't quite tell but he was betting on the former and the two young men in front of him were about to find out.
Hikaru knew her brothers and loved them dearly. She knew that their words were said in the rash heat of the moment and that they came from their concern and love for her. However she also knew that on a protectiveness scale of one to ten her brothers were a twenty yet even for this she loved them. But. That did not excuse them. Not this time. She was a grown woman now, fully capable of making her own choices and she was not going to let the caveman instincts of her brothers ruin things for her and Lantis. Her swordsman could wipe the floor with her brothers, she knew his skill and theirs but she also knew that it would break her heart to have her family at odds with the man she loved. Masaru and Kakeru would be after his blood from the moment they met him until they were satisfied Lantis could 'protect' her.
Lantis was of course able to do just that but she was fully capable of taking care of her own self with or without him too. And it was time her brothers realised she could walk on her own. She'd let them get away with this for far too long.
Standing up she wished she could summon her sword and armour in this world. It would be much easier to knock some sense into her brothers if she could show them the true extent of her skills. For now though she had other means of doing so.
"Masaru. Kakeru." Her voice cracked like a whip into the silence of Satoru's making. "I know you both love me and want to protect me as your little sister but I will not allow you to talk about Lantis that way, nor will I let you get away with thinking I need him or you to protect me from the world." Her voice softened, "I passed my trial by fire long ago, Emeraude saw to that."
Masaru and Kakeru winced as the memory of their sister's tears –from four years ago and that evening - rose to the forefront of their minds, wiping away their anger in an instant as Hikaru continued.
"I love you both and it means a lot to me that you want to look after me this way but I need you to understand that as my family you are and always will be an important part of my life but Lantis… Lantis is my future." Her eyes begged her brothers to understand. "He's in my heart. I love him and I don't want to live a life where I can't be with him. It would kill me to have to choose between you and him but I will if I have to. Please don't make it come to that."
Satoru looked between the two brothers, took in their troubled expressions as well as Hikaru's drawn and pale face. "I think that's enough for one night." He said. "We've all got a lot to think about now, why don't we sleep on it and see how we feel in the morning?"
He walked over and hugged his baby sister, feeling the slight trembling that betrayed her nerves and weariness. "You've had a big day Hikaru. Go to bed. We'll take care of the rest tomorrow. For now get some sleep.
His red-headed sister nodded into his shoulder before giving him a tight hug and then slipping out of his arms to do the same to Masaru and Kakeru. "I love you all you know that right?" she said as she started up the stairs to her room.
"We know." Satoru answered, a gentle smile on his face as he watched her, the thought occurring to him that while things might be hectic for a while, she was more than capable of coming out the other side shining, and she'd drag the rest of them with her if that's what it took, that was just how she was and no one he knew would have it any other way.
Once she'd gone into her room Satoru turned to his younger siblings and pointed to the couch again. "We need to have a little chat about how you two are going behave when we go to Cephiro." He said, very much the older brother in discipline mode. "So sit back down and make sure you're listening I don't want to have to repeat myself."
Well guys, that's then end of this chapter. What do you think?