So. I'm almost three months late to the day. (Three months late... for being late. Yeah.) I guess I don't need to tell everyone I've been busy, then.
But I'm going to do it anyway. I've been insanely busy lately; as such, what should have taken me a short amount of time took this long! Ugh, I'm so ticked off at myself right now. X( I'm going to put in effort to make more writing time, though, so hopefully the time gap between updates won't be so bad in the near future. :/
Anyway. Important note that I need to leave, starting right... now.
To Rune: I'm so sorry, Rune! I feel awful; your present (and everyone else's) wasn't supposed to be this late. ;.; That aside, though... I know you're busy lately for obvious reasons, so I don't know when you'll read this, but... Whenever you do get the chance, I hope you like it. It took a lot to write it, but I enjoyed doing it, and I hope you enjoy reading it too! :D
IMPORTANT NOTE: There are direct connections to several key events in Plus, including the ending, so be wary of spoilers. Not only that, though - I haven't played these parts of Plus' story for almost three years (God, has it really been that long? Where is the time going?), so there's a good chance that I have messed something up horribly. Please point out any storyline mistakes or continuity errors that you happen to spot, and I'll deal with them (hopefully) promptly. As it is, I will likely make some changes as I continue my adaptation of Plus, Remnants of the Ancients. If there are any significant changes to this fic aside from grammatical corrections, I'll give you a head's up.
The Citadel Cube is having good weather today.
Retracting her head, she shuts the kitchen window, careful to keep it from being noisy. She looks around the room and gives a slight smile - she's finally finished cleaning all of the rooms. It may infuriate her sister, but Himiko is glad that they don't have a Servant Mecha Robo. There's something that she finds extremely satisfying about keeping their home in good repair.
Now, though, it's time for a little relaxation.
Smile growing, she quickly plucks the basket from the kitchen counter before exiting into the living room. There, she finds the third member of their household - and to be honest, probably the only one in this house who really loves her. "Mother," her voice is gentle, ringing with affection for her parent (and, likely, her best friend). "I've finished with the chores. Are you ready to go out?"
"Yes, dear," the older woman grins, and she returns it. Her mother takes her hand, and Himiko struggles to maintain the grin as she feels the telling tremble. "Lead the way."
Himiko knows that Mother has taken extra pain medicine for their little outing.
(The illness is growing worse.)
She swallows her tears. She will not let them show.
As soon as they exit out into the sunshine, her mother inhales deeply. Her expression is one of delight. "Ah... The sun feels good to these old bones."
"You aren't quite that old, Mother." Himiko giggles.
"I might as well be. On most days, at least. But today..." She lays a hand on Himiko's arm, then, beaming gently at the younger. "Today, between you and the weather, the sickness feels far indeed."
Himiko reaches up to squeeze Mother's hand in return. How can it be that her heart feels both heavy and light? "Then let's make it last."
Thunder rumbles outside the hospital; it makes her nerves jump. Her heart is in her throat.
...The King is dead.
They had tried. Tried so, so hard... But they couldn't save him. In the end, their ruler's heart had ceased to beat.
Outside, it is madness. Panic runs through the streets like poison through a vein. The battle at the city gates, the sabotage of the Robos... What will happen with the war now? Everyone fears it coming to the Citadel's doorstep. Their leader is gone and dead. Who will save them from their enemies now?
She fears for the little friend she made. That tiny creature that had no wish to possess the power that he had been born with. If only she could save him...
And then there is the Prince.
Her heartbeats become harder, louder. She quickens her pace.
When she finally nears her destination, the Head Nurse stands near the door. The woman's eyes widen at the sight of her. "Himiko-"
"You cannot keep me from him." Her hands tighten into fists as she sets her feet, prepared to fight whoever dares to stand in her way.
But the Head Nurse is shaking her head. "You only ask for trouble if you enter that room."
"Then trouble I will have." She takes a step forward, pulse racing. "Let me in."
The two women stare at each other.
Then the older woman steps aside, allowing Himiko entrance.
Before she enters, her superior grabs her by the arm. "I tried to warn you. Whatever happens, I'm sorry."
As soon as she is released, Himiko straightens her clothes. And then she enters the room.
She has only just shut the door when a vase crashes spare inches from her head, accompanied by a snarl of rage.
"Leave me!!" Anyone else, she knows, would only hear his rage.
Himiko, however, only hears his pain.
"Nene..." Her voice is small and shaking in the shadowy room, and is swallowed up by the continuous roar of the storm interspersed with the crashing and shattering noises caused by the newly orphaned prince. Pressing her palms flat against the wall, she raises her voice as high as her shuddering throat will allow. "Nene!"
Though the thunderstorm continues, the breaking of objects ceases. After a long moment, she hears the quiet, broken utterance of her name, "... Himiko?"
Her heart feels like it's splintering. Splintered because of his pain.
There is a burst of orange-red flame - for a moment, she spots the purple fingers given a yellowish glow by the fire - before the summoned element is hurled to her left. It lands - or is it guided? - with ease, hitting a lamp and lighting the room.
She finally sees him.
And Nene's face - his face that laughs, that smiles, that rages, that charms - is streaked with tears.
All weakness leaves her in an instant. Nene is broken. She can no longer be weak, because he will need strength and there is no one else who will offer it to him.
Himiko crosses over to him in three strides, reaching his side just in time - she catches him as his knees give out and he crumples towards the ground, grief-ridden sobs wracking his frame and jerking through his body to her own. She holds him tight, tight, because she is the only one who really cares.
Because she is the only one he has left.
And she will not let anything take her away.
The wounds aren't that bad, but the need to do something was so demanding, so insistent, that she knows that it must be something imprinted on her that not even a frozen sleep can erase.
They had doubled back to intercept some enemies, and Shu had come out of it the worst. Shu's friend - Jiro, his name is Jiro, and she's getting better at remembering new information so she must be making progress, right? - had only just started to take out some gauze before she was there, taking it gently but firmly from the young boy's hands and kneeling in front of her little friend.
She knows what a Mecha Robo is. She knows what gauze is. She knows how to do first aid.
How is it that she can remember with startling clarity how to dress a wound, but not know any of the important events in her life?
There's something in her chest, a whispered suggestion of pain in the area of her heart, but it is weak and fleeting. Frozen and unreachable, like a bug visible in amber but unable to be touched - how does she know about amber? - without the proper tools.
But... Where is the tool she needs to release her memories?
Her thoughts cease when easy words tumble out of the boy she tends to, "You're really great at this, you know. Bet you could even teach Jiro a thing or two."
"I heard that." The amused voice, tinged with sarcasm, drifts over to them.
"Well... It's true! She could! I mean, look at how good this bandage is. Besides... Being the incredibly smart person you are and all, I know you're always eager to get more knowledge... You know?"
"Using my sentence ender and buttering me up doesn't give you a free pass, Shu."
Himiko can't help it; she giggles. Even with all their joking and back-and-forth's, there is obvious warmth in the undertones of every interaction these two have. She finds it intriguing, to be honest, though she can't quite say why. "The two of you are very close, I presume."
Shu shrugs, grinning. "Kinda hard not to be. I've known him since I was a baby."
There it is again. Something pulling at her heart, begging her to remember. But she can't, she can't... "It must be nice," she sighs, rueful, "spending so much time together."
And then Himiko is suddenly alarmed - startled enough that her hands still - when a mixture of something, something like pain and sorrow, flashes across Shu's face. It vanishes quickly, replaced by the easy and good-natured expression he's worn for the majority of the time she's known him. "Something like that." Shu's smile is almost ordinary, but she detects a hint of tightness at its edges. His eyes slide over her shoulder, then stop and become distant. "It's nice when things are that simple."
But they aren't now. She hears the implication in his words, even if he hasn't said as much aloud.
And there it is again, there, that feeling-
She breathes in quickly through her nose.
Because Himiko doesn't need all of her memories to recognize this - that once upon a time, things were simple for her too.
But she squares her shoulders, resuming the dressing of wounds with diligence. Shu's eyebrows slightly raise; even he has picked up on her newfound determination. She doesn't let up, even though a tiny part of her feels sheepish at his attention.
Perhaps she can't solve her own problems. But maybe, just a little bit at a time, she can help Shu with his own.
Because not all wounds are on the surface. And Himiko is a healer down to her bones, she realizes - something so integral to her existence that even amnesia can't steal it away.
Something lifts off of her shoulders, and the realization comes quickly - she doesn't completely know who she is, but just now, she's gotten part of her identity back.
She ties off the dressing with a careful knot. "There." She leans back, pleased that she's been able to help. "A little healing spell or two as soon as Jiro has restored his magic and you'll be as good as new."
"Better than new, with this," he pats his arm lightly, teeth flashing in a grin. "Thanks, Himiko."
After a split second of hesitance, she reaches out, lays a hand on his head; the soft, dark brown hair seems to cling to her fingers of its own accord. Shu's blush is instantaneous, naturally pinkish cheeks rapidly turning scarlet (she wonders, a little absently, if he really flushes this frequently or if it's just something that he does around her). "Things... may not be easy for you right now. But give it time." Her thumb brushes along the top of his head. "I don't know much right now, about the world, or even about myself. But I recognize enough to know that your heart is good, and holds much strength. With the kind of determination you have... I know that you'll be able to solve whatever it is that troubles you."
He makes a sound in the back of his throat, mouth parting in surprise, dark eyes suddenly shining as he gazes at her, and then-
And then he's embracing her, hard.
"Thank you." His voice is muffled by her clothing. "I... I can't even tell you how much- I just-" He breathes out, hard. "... Thank you, Himiko. It means a lot to me."
Himiko wraps her arms around him in turn, smiling into his hair. "You're welcome."
It is no secret that Kluke holds great dislike for Nene.
At first, Himiko had thought it might be disdain for Ancients in general, but she dismissed that notion as quickly as she thought of it - Kluke has been nothing but kind to Himiko, and she does not doubt that either of them would have trouble referring to the other as a friend. Good friends, in fact.
No... The source of her ire is Nene alone.
Himiko does not know the extent of everything Nene has done while she slept. She knows that much of it was terrible, though when she asked, her newfound friends were always reluctant to say anything. Eventually, she just stopped asking, supposing that maybe it was for the best.
But it quickly became clear that even if Kluke didn't give Himiko any reasons for her behavior, she obviously holds something against Nene.
Seven times Kluke has burned Nene with an "errant" Flare spell. Four times she has "forgotten" to put Medicine in his pack. Twice she has "accidentally" lost his blanket. Three times she has gotten into an argument with Jiro for involving her in tactics that team her up with Nene. Eight times he has somehow ended up with burned stew - and once has Himiko caught the smirk that Kluke shared with the cooking pot.
Today, though, it has all finally boiled over.
On their way back to camp, Kluke twisted her ankle. Being the nearest to her, Nene caught her and - in an act that reminds Himiko more of the gentleman he had been in the old days - lifted her into his arms.
And now Kluke is screaming her head off.
"Get off! Get off me!"
Nene glares at her. "Would you prefer to limp your way back to camp?"
"I don't care! Let me go!" She swats at him, almost comically. "I said, let go!"
It only takes a second for everything to change.
She screams suddenly - and everyone freezes, because in Kluke's voice there is a clear and resounding note of hysteria.
"Stop it! Stop it!!" Her voice is rising by the instant. "Stop it, stop it, stop it, Jiro, Jiro-"
And he's there, quick as lightning, mobile when everyone else is frozen in their tracks. Jiro's arms are held out. "Give her to me. Now." It's his healer voice, authoritative rather than quiet, and it lets Himiko know that something is very wrong here.
Nene complies swiftly, though Kluke continues to thrash until Jiro has called her name several times. When she finally opens her eyes, it's like she's seeing him for the first time.
Later, when Himiko and Jiro are in what they've taken to calling the "healing tent" (simply, the tent where they treat all injuries, set aside from the others), with Kluke sleeping close by, he tells her as much as he can. "What happened earlier was a reaction to... Well. Without going into too much detail, Nene... did something to Kluke a year ago. Partly, I'm not telling you what exactly happened for the obvious reason that no one else has, since we just don't know how to tell you about Nene. The other reason is that while I know a piece of the story, I really have no idea what happened to her back then. She won't talk to anyone about it. I don't think she's capable of talking to anyone about it.
"In any case, whatever it was... damaged her, for lack of better phrasing. And sometimes, she has nightmares about it. She thrashes and screams, just like she did when Nene held her earlier. I'm the only one who knows about it, because I was there a few times when she woke up. I think that's why she called for me; she started doing that after I was with her when it happened. There are probably medical names for all of this, but... That's more of Kluke's specialty than mine; I've never really had a grasp on that sort of thing." He sighs, standing and running a hand through his hair. "And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go explain all of that nightmare bit to Shu. Which should be fun, since he has absolutely no idea that any of this was going on." Another sigh. "God. He's going to freak out for sure." Wearily, he nods toward Kluke on his way out. "Let me know if anything changes with her."
Himiko is looking at the tent flap sliding shut, so it takes her utterly by surprise when she hears, "Well. Now you know."
She whirls around, finding Kluke facing Himiko on her side, brown eyes trained on her.
When Himiko gets over her surprise, she only says, "Yes."
"No questions?" The corner of Kluke's mouth turns upward. "I know you must want to ask me something."
"Well... Y- Yes, I do, but..." Himiko fiddles with her hands, suddenly nervous. She has never felt that emotion around Kluke before, and that bothers her. "I don't want to upset you."
The younger girl gives a short, one note laugh. "I doubt you could make me feel any worse than I do right now." Kluke sits up, heaving a sigh once she's upright. "If you're not going to ask, then I will. Himiko..." She stares at her, expression unreadable. "Why... Why do you love Nene so much?"
The question catches her completely off guard. After a bit of inward searching, though, Himiko finds her answer. "When we met... I did not realize right away that I was falling for him, and by the time I did, I was far too gone. Once I knew that I loved him... There was nothing I could do to change it, and I did not want to. Nene has been there for me during my times of despair, and I for him. I cannot speak for whatever he has done now, to you or to anyone else. But as for me... Nene loves with his whole heart. And so I give him mine freely."
When she looks to Kluke again, Himiko sees that the girl's expression is pained. "I... see." Kluke stands; Himiko reaches for her when she seems unsteady, but the younger quickly gains balance. "Thank you for telling me that, Himiko."
"I would like to ask you something, Kluke, if I may." The girl in question freezes. "What... What is it that Nene did to you?"
Kluke instantly drops back to her seated position. Her hands are clasped tightly in front of her. "I wish you'd asked me that before you told me you loved him."
"Please tell me. I will not be angry."
"If only it was a matter of that." Kluke gives a breathy laugh, but her eyes are terribly sad. "I don't want to hurt your feelings. I've said terrible things about Nene. Had horrible thoughts about him. You're my friend, Himiko, and if he really means that much to you... I'd rather not subject you to that."
Himiko inclines her head with a smile. "My opinion of Nene is my own, and no one else's. Please, Kluke. Just tell me."
Kluke breathes in and out deeply, lowering her gaze. "The thing you're probably wondering most about it is why I'm having the nightmares. That's because a year ago, Nene kidnapped me. I- I can't tell you about that, though. I'm sorry, but I'm still not ready to talk about that to anyone yet. There is one thing I can tell you, though. And that's the reason why I hate Nene so much." She lifts her head, eyes locking on Himiko's. "Because of him, my parents are dead."
Kluke's expression is suddenly miserable, and Himiko knows it's because of the shock apparent on her own face. "I... won't tell you the specifics. You don't need to hear that. But that's the reason behind... everything between Nene and I." She lets out a hard breath. "I- I know that he's trying to change. For God's sake, I can see it on his face that he isn't the same man. Himiko, you... You bring out a side to him that none of us have ever seen. I should be glad. But... I just... Every time I look at him, all I see are my parent's deaths and I just- I can't-"
And Kluke bursts into tears.
Himiko reacts so fast that she herself isn't even aware of it, not until she has Kluke pressed tight in an embrace. "Kluke... I know that pain, of losing a parent. There is nothing else like it. I... I cannot tell you how sorry I am that you've had to feel it, or how sorry I am that Nene was the one who put you through it. I will not ask you to forgive him, either. But I will tell you that offering him forgiveness may give you some peace. What you choose to do is up to you. But your friends and I... We will be here for you, whatever your choice may be."
Words form between Kluke's sobs. "I- I'm so sorry-"
Himiko just hugs her tighter. "There is nothing you need to apologize for."
To be honest, it's a miracle that they make it back to their campsite alive.
Between the four of them - Jiro, Sahlia, Fushira, and Himiko herself - it is no easy task to drag the other twelve back. Though it puts a strain on their already stretched-too-thin magic reserves, they have to use their Shadows; they simply don't have the room to carry them all otherwise.
But eventually, they make it back. However, only Sahlia and Fushira will get to rest.
It's time for Himiko and Jiro to go to work.
He tosses her one of their last two Magical Medicines, takes off the cap of the other in preparation to drink it. She nearly starts in surprise at the sight of his bare forearms, sweater sleeves rolled up to the elbow. "Make it count."
She nods before downing it as fast as she can. Time is of the essence. The Spark Dragon spared no one in its vicious assault; they don't even know the extent of some of the injuries. They must rely on visuals, because there's too much risk to take the time to check. In any case, they are starting out with who is clearly the worst off.
He tried. Tried so, so hard (why, why does that sound familiar to her? These patches in her memory frustrate her...). She doesn't even know how many times he stood in the way between the team and their fearsome foe. She may not even have been conscious for all of them.
For a moment, not the first time since it happened, she wonders why Jiro chose to Revive her. (Harsh breathing by her ear. Right hand wrapped tight around her arm. Hard words pushed out between gritted teeth. "Get up.")
She's snapped out of the memory by the sound of Shu's rattling breaths, just in time to see Jiro's hands glow blue-white as he brings them down to Shu, using a half-spell of White Magic in order to scope out the younger's injuries-
Jiro freezes, suddenly and without warning, and Himiko feels herself go rigid at the expression on his face.
Pure, undiluted terror.
Her heart aches; she knows it must be bad. It's odd, the first thought to enter her mind - that things are not as broken with Jiro as Shu had thought. The second thought makes more sense - she hopes that he lives long enough to realize it.
"Jiro?" She clears her throat. "Jiro. What's going on with him?" He's unresponsive, still frozen, and Himiko feels a fledgling panic in her chest. She stamps it down quickly; there's no time for that! She breathes in deep, calls on magic of her own. She brings her palms to just over Shu's chest, reaching out with the magic to identify the injuries-
Her heart stutters in her chest.
So much inside.
Surely the Dragon is the only thing that keeps him alive. No ordinary human could survive this.
Her panic is no longer fledgling as it suddenly becomes very clear that Shu is dying, dying right now, right in front of her - but she dismisses it once again. She will only allow herself to come apart after he is well.
"Jiro." She cannot do this alone. Even with all of her skill, she can't do this by herself; it's gone too far for her to heal it on her own. Besides... Himiko is a healer down to her bones, but Jiro is a healer down to his soul. She needs him for this. "Jiro!"
His head snaps up. A tear tracks down his cheek. He probably isn't even aware of it. "Y- Yes?"
"We must heal him. Now." He nods, though there is a tremble in the movement. Himiko tries not to think about that too hard. Instead, she draws the healing magic out of herself. It's difficult - she does not quite remember how to use White Magic properly anymore, has been relying mostly on Moon.
But then from Jiro's hands comes a Healus spell, and it brings out her own power as if the last time she cast it without Moon was only yesterday.
She sighs as their magic mixes, mingles. This is how the White Mages of old worked, and previously she had passed down the knowledge to Jiro, though she never expected them to need it so desperately. Suddenly, images are flashing across her mind's eye, along with the memories of sensations she has never felt - sand in shoes, warmth of the desert sun, holding him in the darkness, heart racing from her laughter - and then they are both pushing the meshed spell into Shu.
The boy, seeming so pitifully small now against the bedroll, inhales more clearly than he has been. All of a sudden, his brow furrows as he whimpers. Jiro is there, though, swiftly lowering his head to murmur soft words in Shu's ear. The tension goes out of her little friend immediately.
But Himiko's stomach still lurches, because she knows what this means.
They will have to heal Shu slowly, bit by bit, because of the severity of his wounds. And the more they heal him, the more he will regain consciousness. And the more conscious he is, the more aware of the pain he will become.
He'll feel it. All of it.
She can't even begin to imagine how excruciating it must be.
The process is agonizing. Shu surfaces into wakefulness several times, reaching for Jiro, for her, for Jiro again, before returning to fitful, pain-ridden semi-sleep.
It takes a long time. But they work through it, and eventually they heal all of the internal damage. Before they finish, they also heal the worst of the outward wounds that they can afford to use energy on - the most severe of the electricity-induced burns, the deepest of the claw-inflicted cuts.
At the end of it, Jiro jumps to his feet and bolts out of the tent.
Just as she stands to go after him, Sahlia and Fushira enter. They worriedly ask how everyone is doing, and she does her best to ease some of their concerns. Of those they are closest to, only Shu was the worst off - coincidentally, Marumaro's siblings and Kluke received the least damage of everyone who is still unconscious - so when she is able to tell them this, as well as the fact that Shu will be okay, at least half of the tension leaves their bodies. With them reassured, she heads outside to look for Jiro. Shu was only the first of twelve, and for them, this night is far from over. She casts one look back before she goes, spots Sahlia gripping Shu's hand tight, and Fushira brushing away hair from his grandson's forehead (and Kluke's as well, a few times).
The Atomic Cube is cold tonight. She shivers upon exiting the tent. She sees Jiro nearby, in the room's corner. He grips his uncovered elbows tightly.
She shakes off her doubts, clearing her throat as she begins tentatively, "Jiro? Are... Are you well?"
"Oh, yeah. I'm fine." His voice is thick with sarcasm and sadness. He turns to the side, looking at the wall, and she can see the tears pooled in his eyes. "I just watched my little brother gushing blood like a geyser in his lungs. I'm great." He gives a watery laugh, and the tears spill.
"Jiro..." She swallows. Her throat feels tight.
"Himiko." His eyes widen for a moment as they lock onto her, and then his expression becomes regretful. "I- I'm sorry, I shouldn't-" He shuts his eyes tight, squeezing his eyelids hard before opening them again. "Forgive me. I shouldn't say things like that."
She tilts her head to the side, trying for a half-smile. "Shouldn't be sarcastic...? Or shouldn't call Shu your brother?"
He laughs, and this time it's tinged with bitterness instead of misery. "One of them. Both. Neither. Who knows? It's not like I have any idea anymore." Jiro sighs, a hard expelling of breath. "I'm sorry. I'm just making it worse." He runs a hand through his hair. "Seems to be my newfound expertise."
Her eyebrows furrow in confusion. "How so?"
And he tells her. Everything. All of it. As they heal the others throughout the night, he tells her of his lifelong friendship and how it all changed. What it's become now. How he blames himself for it all.
Himiko thinks of Shu, Kluke and Jiro for a moment, how their expressions change when they see one of the other two - how their eyes soften and the curve of their mouths gentle and the warmth seeps into their disposition.
She doesn't understand how they can't see that this distance between them is nothing more than an illusion.
After a long stretch of endless-seeming time, they are finally done, both with the healing as well as Jiro's tale. He sits beside her outside the tent, bow in hand as he plucks at the string. "As far as I see it, I'm down to two choices," he's finishing now. "I break Shu's heart, or I break my own." As he closes, Jiro gives the bowstring a particularly hard tug. She watches it wobble.
Himiko recalls how she saw Jiro several hours before - throwing Revivus spells to allies and shooting arrows at the Spark Dragon. A wellspring of strength and determination in the face of a maelstrom of panic and chaos.
She sees him now, spare inches from shattering into a thousand pieces.
Her resolve hardens. She will not let him be broken. Not if she has anything to say about it.
Brushing off her clothes, Himiko stands, walking forward a few feet. When she turns to face him again, he's blinking at her in confusion. She smiles gently. "In my time, there were many legends and stories about magic wielders who possessed the skill of Star and Moon. No matter the tale, they all had the same thing in common - the wielder of Star and wielder of Moon were in love." Jiro goes very still. His posture is stiff; his shoulders are raised. His eyes, instead of tears, are filled with hope. "Nene and I are proof enough, I would believe. Also, I have known of at least two other pairs of Shadow wielders in my time where this was case. And it would seem that the cycle is repeating itself."
Jiro's face flushes. He plucks at the string more quickly now, fingers rapid and jerky. "I doubt that. Kluke doesn't... She isn't..." He trails off, eyebrows furrowing deeper, suddenly lost in thought.
Himiko has to hold in her laughter. Jiro is a sweet boy. Kluke's a lucky girl. She retakes her seat beside him. "So you say." She looks up, and imagines that she can see the night sky through the ceiling (remembers nights of star-gazing with Nene, his arms around her as he murmured about the constellations, his breath warm against her ear). "It may take her some time," not if Himiko has anything to say about it; plotting with Marumaro sometimes has fortuitous consequences, and as soon as they're done with this Atomic Cube business- "but if you stay true to yourself... one day, the only one she'll be able to see is you."
"And Shu?" Jiro holds the bow tightly in his hands. "What about him?"
An image, sudden but clear - Sahlia's fingers lacing with Shu's, holding his hand like a treasure - and Himiko simply smiles. "Shu will be fine."
She is in darkness.
There is no light... No sound... No feeling...
She is all alone.
No... No, that isn't right. There should be someone with her. Someone... someone's side that she swore to stay by forever...
She must find them...
There! Light, ahead of her. Somehow, she knows that following it will lead her to what she's searching for.
She reaches for it...
The brightness envelopes her-
And Himiko remembers everything.
"I'm... not real." Her voice echoes in the emptiness. "I'm not real."
She is... gone.
Is she dead? She doesn't know. Maybe she can't be dead... if she's not exactly "living".
She shuts her eyes, no longer wanting to see the light. Wishing that she'd remained in the darkness. She had forgotten herself again, but it had to be better than this.
"That voice..." Her eyes open again.
And with him returns her will.
"No... My memories... They are real. My mother was real. My sister was real. My life... It was real. My feelings... My emotions... My heart... All of it is real. My love for Nene is real." She is alive, and no one can tell her otherwise. Something may have changed along the way... But her life is no lie. "I am real!"
"My life... My love..."
When he finally joins her, she wants to cry, because she knows what it means.
But Nene simply presses her closer. "You had to know, Himiko... Even if I could have changed my fate, I would not have done so. Somehow... Somehow I knew you were trapped, in the dark and by yourself. I would never have left you to that fate, even if the only thing I could do was join you.
"A life without you would not have been worth living. Because, the only place I belong... is with you."
She was always such a good girl, Himiko. Such a good daughter. I was certainly blessed, to have such a wonderful child.
What I would have given to stay with her longer...
It's fine, though. She's found a nice young man to take care of her, now. I leave her in his hands...
Himiko has healed my heart so many times over. I cannot even recall a time that she did not.
There is no one else like her, not in any time or place. She... truly is extraordinary.
My heart is hers, completely, and I would have it no other way.
It took my death to fully realize that she is my life... But I will be with her forever now. And I could ask for nothing more.
To any of you, if you're listening... Thank you...
I wait for the days that Zola and Marumaro get busy, too involved with other things to notice what I'm doing.
Those are the days that I take the mechat and go to where the Atomic Cube sunk.
When I get there, I usually just sit quietly - everyone would laugh at that - and just think about her for a while. Sometimes... Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I think I hear her laugh or feel the brush of her hand against mine. That doesn't always happen... but it's what I look forward to.
Jiro and Kluke would probably be worried if they knew; they'd say I was having trouble letting go, or something like that.
But that isn't true. I'm not going there because I can't get over her and Nene being gone...
In a way... I'm visiting them. So I won't forget, and they won't feel forgotten.
Nene and Himiko... We saw them. We know that they're happy. And... I'm glad for them, that they've found that happiness. And when I go there, when I remind myself of that, I don't have to miss them so much.
Yeah... They're both happy. So there's no reason for me to be sad. For them, I'm going to keep going. I'm not going to let something like this hold me back; I don't give up that easily, and I know Himiko wouldn't want me to.
It wasn't easy to forgive Nene. I had a lot of bitterness in my heart. I had a lot of hate. There were things in me... that I just didn't want to confront.
To be honest, I still deal with all of this sometimes. Especially the last one.
But Himiko helped me through the worst of it.
Ever since Nene... Ever since he took me, I've felt like I was suffocating inside. Almost as if there was this invisible force, constantly choking off not only my life, but everything that's good about me as a person. It's- it's hard to put this into words. One of those things that I've tried to avoid is thinking about what happened to me, and the effects that it's had. But there is one thing I can say with certainty.
The one thing that I was always aware of was the feeling of being... confined. Imprisoned.
And then... After I let go of everything between Nene and I... It felt like those bonds had been loosened, falling off of me completely. I felt free.
I would never have gained this if it wasn't for Himiko...
We were going to be so happy. All sixteen of us. We were going to win, and then we'd go home. We talked about it all the time at camp, all of the things we were going to do. Everything that we would show to Himiko and Nene. How they'd get to see the new world that they were fighting so hard to save.
And then, in an instant, it was all gone. All of those dreams were... just gone. And in the end, we lost both of them.
I wonder... Will we drift apart, like last time, or will we cleave together? There's no way to know right now. It's still too soon. The pain is too fresh.
We were a team. Friends... Family.
We saved the world... but all I want is to have them back.
I don't think anyone really knew Himiko the way I did.
I can't say I knew her as well as Shu, and definitely not as much as Nene, but...
We were both healers, and that gave us a partnership that we didn't share with anyone else. We were both in love with someone, and we both knew what it was like to give up that part of yourself so whole-heartedly, and to long for them to know how you felt (she didn't even go through it as long as I did, yet she still understood).
The two of us saw the sides of each other that no one else knew. I helped Himiko see her strength. And she helped me to find myself again.
It's odd, because after finally realizing that my relationships and I haven't really changed, after I've finally seen how blind I've been about so many things... In a way, I feel lost now that she's gone.
I hadn't realized how close we were until she just... wasn't there anymore.
Himiko... I wish I had your guidance now...
I remember so many things about my life now that it's over. So much happiness and sadness. What a life I've lived...
But my most cherished memories are those that take place after my frozen sleep.
It's amazing, really, how close you can get to someone in such a short time. You never see these things coming sometimes. You never expect that a person you befriend will one day become someone that you'd die for.
My most precious friends... Don't miss us. Don't be sad. We are fine. We are happy. Nene and I are together. And if I have him, that's all that I'll ever need. So, live your lives to their fullest.
Shu, hold fast to your courage and your innocence. Kluke, keep your kindness and compassion. Jiro, hang onto your wisdom and gentleness.
Things don't always turn out the way we want... But good remains. We need only to look for it.
When I was lost... When I breathed my last... I think that I was supposed to fade away. Gone, forever and for always.
But, Nene... Nene brought me back from that dark place. He brought me to his side.
By your side for eternity... There is nothing else I could ask for, my love.
(she could not save herself/
/so he saved her instead)
Despite this being Himiko-centric, some definite Jiro x Kluke and hints of Shu x Sahlia worked its way in here. Sorry about that. *sweatdrops* But since the former pairing kind of paralleled the Nene x Himiko here, maybe it still works out…?
One thing I should mention is that aside from the first two parts, there are a few things that will be either partially or directly referenced in Remnants of the Ancients. The big ones are Kluke's reaction to Nene (here we only see Himiko's perspective of the incident, some of Kluke's, and just a part of Jiro's viewpoint) and Jiro's showdown with the Spark Dragon (I haven't replayed the game up to that point, but I'm going to write that part of the story so that it ends up like this; it still kind of counts, because I had a similar scenario happen in my first playthrough of Plus).
... God, it was so hard to write about that last bit with Himiko. I'd forgotten how much it upset me until now. ;_;
If you have the chance, please review and let me know what you thought of it. :) And, as stated in the important note, please point out anything I messed up! While I'll try to make more of an effort to write more timely, unfortunately, I make no promises for updates. I'm starting to wonder if I jinx myself when I do that. XP
Thanks for reading! :) And, before I forget, there's one last thing I need to say:
Happy birthday, Rune! :D