No Light, No Light
I recently watched Prétear for the first time...geez, since it first came out in the U.S., probably. As a fanfic writer, I've always tried to write stories that I don't think there are enough of in the rest of the fandom. So, essentially, I wrote this because I wish other people would write more Sasame/Takako set around episodes 10 and 11. So, uh, if you have recommendations for stories fitting that description-particularly if they're archived somewhere other than FFN-I'd love to know about 'em.
And that's because man, do these two have a weird relationship at that point. I'm not against the two of them getting a happy ending or anything, but I think the screwed-up cocktail of sadness and self-loathing and unrequited love that marks the beginning of their relationship deserves to be unpacked more than I've seen—and more than I'm capable of doing, probably.
Disclaimer: Prétear belongs to Junichi Sato and Kaori Naruse. The song from which this story takes its title belongs to Florence Welsh and Isabella Summers.
"I'm here to grant your wishes."
The Princess of Disaster's hand lingered at the feathered collar of his dark coat, and he silently willed her fingers closer, desperate to feel her soft skin on his neck even as he stood unmoving in front of her, not even turning to see her face. If she desired his gaze, she would ask for it, and he was determined not do anything she didn't desire.
"Would you still allow me to drain your Leafe, Sasame?" Her voice, suddenly so close to his ear, locked his knees and made him stand up a little straighter.
"Of course. All I want is to make you happy, Takako." If he had ever had a moment's hesitation, it had been obliterated by her warm breath against his most sensitive body part. He could feel the thump of her heart as she pressed against him, pulsing with such a mundane, human rhythm that he could almost fool himself into forgetting the last 16 years. If he closed his eyes, she would just be Takako, the Prétear, again, and he would have another chance to confess his love, to save the both of them.
He did not close his eyes.
"We'll see about that," she said. He could hear her smirk even before she moved to face him, even before her delicate hand snaked to his neck and squeezed, cutting off his air supply and draining the Leafe from his body in a single motion. Losing his Leafe felt like his insides had turned to worms and were crawling out through his pores. The knowledge that she was touching him, focusing on him, letting him be of use was enough that he could hang on, but he cried out anyway, letting the twin horrors of his dwindling life-force and desperately, futilely pumping heart wash over him. If she wanted him to feel pain, he would not let his own rapture at her touch dull his senses.
She released him well before he was in any danger of fading; he splashed to his hands and knees regardless. He had expected it to be, like his scream, a weakness he allowed himself in order to make his princess happy, but he found himself really unable to stand.
"I bet you regret letting me do that," the Princess of Disaster said. All he could see of her was a sliver of dress and hair above the water. He liked the idea of her towering over him as he tried to will his weak, uncooperative body back into a dignified position. But that didn't mean he would lie to her.
"If it helped you," he replied, his voice a still raw from her grip on his throat, "Then I don't regret anything. I would endure far worse than this to be by your side, my dark lady."
He heard the frustrated scream building in her throat a moment before she voiced it, but was caught off guard by the energy blast that knocked him fully into the water.
"Why won't you just get angry with me?" she asked raggedly when he surfaced. "You should hate the way I treat you! If you loved me so much 16 years ago, how can you even stand to be around me now?" Over his body's protests, Sasame dragged himself to his feet and held the Princess of Disaster as she sobbed into his already-soaking cloak. She occasionally beat her fists against his chest, but halfheartedly, with none of the preternatural strength he knew she could muster.
"I failed you when you were the Prétear," he explained once she had calmed down. "You were right when you said I should have told you my feelings back then, and maybe none of this would have happened. Anything you do to me now, any suffering you cause me, is my penance for hurting you. So I'll stay by your side no matter what."
She pushed him away and glared up at him, dark wings beating behind her eyes.
"Well, I hate you."
"That's fine," he said, gazing levelly back at her. "However you feel about me, I'm here for you to use as you wish. So if hating me makes you feel better—"
"—It doesn't!" she yelled. "With everything I've done, everything I'm going to do, I don't deserve to have anyone love me! Why can't you see that, you stupid man?" Sasame dropped to one knee.
"Then it seems I've failed you again, then, my princess," he said, bowing his head. "You've asked the only thing I'll never be able to do. I love you, Takako, and I don't blame you for anything." He stood up and held open his arms, but only received another blast of dark energy, which sent him sprawling backwards into the water once more. "It's all right. You can hit me again," he added when he'd pulled himself up. "It's no more than I deserve. Even now, after giving up everything to be with you, I can't even grant your wishes."
"Stop talking like that!" She vibrated like a wire with some internal tension, and Sasame wanted nothing more than to rub her shoulders, but trying to help her now would do no good, and denying the urge was itself a semi-satisfying bit of mortification.
A flight of familiars suddenly swarmed around her, landing wherever they could to deposit their collected Leafe. Sasame watched with envious eyes as they gave her everything they had and then crumbled to dust. That seemed to do the trick: Her fists unclenched, her shoulders slumped, and her face settled into an evil little smile.
"Come here, Sasame," she said, holding out an elegant hand as though she'd never been anything other than the composed and confident Princess of Disaster. He ran to her, of course, moving as quickly as he could through the knee-high water. "We've both been going about this all wrong: It's not you and I who are making each other suffer, it's the rest of the world. Wouldn't you agree?"
"You know I would never doubt your wisdom." She took a deep breath at his level reply, and he could hear irritation bubbling in her blood, but what else could he do? If Takako was wrong about this—about anything—then everything he'd sacrificed would be for naught. She either didn't remember how aurally perceptive he was, or she didn't care, because she continued as though nothing was wrong.
"Since this world is the problem, once we destroy it, we'll finally be able to be together."
"Then let's finish this. I'll go see Mawata-san presently." When he leaned down to kiss her hand, but she pulled it away—slowly enough that he could have caught it if he chose, but he let her slim fingers slide away from his. Until his princess sucked the world dry of Leafe, he would be happy to live off whatever lies and scraps of affection she cared to throw his way.