Summary: Karan would never forget the day they moved, the day they were escorted out of the posh lifestyle they'd been handed on merit of being born under good graces. That life had been gambled away in a single decision. Shion's choice had changed everything, and Karan tries her best to understand what exactly happened to her son.

WordCount: 1,111

A/N: This is part of that portfolio I was talking about earlier, Ex 3 - Time Compression, if you're curious. The goal was to compress a long time, say 4.5 yrs, into less than 1,500 words while still having a fully fleshed out plotline. I hope you like it!

Karan would never forget the day they moved, the day they were escorted out of the posh lifestyle they'd been handed on merit of being born under good graces. That life had been gambled away in a single decision.

Their universe in No.6 had one rule: do not question the way things were.

Shion had. Not explicitly, not directly, but by taking in a stranger who'd appeared on his balcony in the middle of a storm, he'd violated the rules of No.6. By taking care of the waterlogged young-man he'd questioned the authorities' dictum that all strangers were vile things and not to be touched. By taking in a VC, by helping him and feeding him and healing his wounds, by harboring a criminal, Shion had become a criminal himself.

He had gambled that the authorities wouldn't find out about the night-time visit and he had lost the bet.

Karan would always remember her son coming down that morning with a special glow about his face, like he was especially happy, proud of himself even. Left over cherry cake and warm sunlight slid across the breakfast table; the peace lasted only a few moments, an eternity frozen in memory.

The bodyguards had knocked on the door promptly at ten and Shion was asked about the night's incident. Then Karan and her son were asked to leave. A few boxes came with them across town, just what they could carry; just enough to remind them of what they had left behind.

Most of their money went to the rent on an old bakery; their new home, their new life. Karan had been silent about her son's actions. She was furious with him for disrupting the life they had, but she was sensible enough to avoid wasting energy on pointless fits of rage and swiftly moved to secure them a new status quo.

The first night in the old bakery, Karan baked a cherry cake.

It was the last meal Shion had eaten in their old life, the one he had taken to his room with some pathetic excuse about homework and had shared with the boy that had ruined everything. Karan wasn't above admitting that she'd made it to see if her son had any sense of shame. The small meal was a quiet one; with Karan fuming silently as she prepared to open the bakery in the morning and Shion smiling softly as he stared out the window.

Shion started in a new school the next day. He got a job by the first weekend. Karan's bakery began producing notable income by the third week. Life had found a new normal by the end of the month.

The incident was never mentioned.

But on the one-year anniversary of the night before they moved, Karan baked a cherry cake. Shion had asked her to. By then, Karan had forgiven her son for ruining their lives. The posh existence had mostly been a lie anyway; a life of working with her hands was much more fulfilling. The first year, Karan was hesitant to bake the cherry cake, even on Shion's request. She feared that her son was trying to punish himself, remind himself of what he'd done.

After a day of debating, recalling how Shion had pleaded with her before leaving for school, Karan had baked the cherry cake. It was waiting on the table when Shion got home in the middle of the night after work. Karan was surprised at the heart-warming expression of nostalgia her son's face took on when he spotted the still-steaming dessert. Shion had no guilt in remembering, only resigned satisfaction.

By the second year's anniversary, Karan baked a cherry cake for her son without prompt. Shion had gotten off of work early that day because of a severe thunderstorm that was brewing over No.6. The cake was ready for her by the time she got home. This year, though, Shion didn't sit down to eat it immediately. He took a shower, helped in the bakery, did his homework. It was only once night had settled and the storm was raging around the house in terrifying howls that Shion sat down alone at the table with Karan's cherry cake, with sentimental air about him, a misty look on his face, and his eyes gazing out the window to a place and time his mother couldn't see.

Life moved on. Shion did well in school, made plans for the future. Karan's bakery gained a grand reputation. They didn't talk about life before, because it didn't matter anymore. There were no regrets, no feelings of longing.

The third year, Karan contemplated not baking the cherry cake. Remembering Shion's expression from last year changed her mind. This time Karan didn't leave the cake at the table for Shion to find when he came home, to eat alone. This time, Karan closed the shop up early, made her preparations for the next morning earlier than usual, and sat down to eat a slice of cherry cake in the dark with her son.


Still staring out the window and barely acknowledging his mother's presence, Shion replied, "I have to let myself miss him once in a while."

"Him?" Karan knew instantly that Shion meant the boy that had ruined their old lives.

"I saved his life, you know," Shion mentioned quietly, his attention still somewhere in the distance. "I'm not waiting for him to come back, I'm not that foolish. But sometimes . . . I just miss him. And I wonder how he's doing, if he's changed at all or grown up, if he ever thinks about me. If he even remembers who I am or what I look like."

Karan stared at her son.

The quiet that settled around them was comfortable, at peace.

Karan cleaned up her plate and went to bed without another word, leaving her son to his thoughts at the window.

The next year there was a cherry cake waiting for Shion on the anniversary of the night before they'd moved. Every year after, Karan would bake her cherry cake without prompt or question and leave her son to enjoy it in his own way. Shion wasn't waiting, he wasn't mourning, and he wasn't hesitating.

Even after Shion disappeared, Karan baked a cherry cake on the night before they'd moved. She wasn't waiting for Shion to come back, she knew he couldn't. She wasn't mourning his loss, she knew he was alive. She wasn't hesitating to live the life she had.

She just wanted to remember.

Like Shion had.

A cherry cake in the middle of the night, and the boy that had changed their world.

A/N: This is only part of my portfolio, so expect a few more fics in the next week or so! No.6 has kind of taken over my school-work lately ^_~