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Alter Egos

A Card Captor Sakura Fanfiction

mbsilvana@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: All hail CLAMP. Enough said.

Dedication: For Krystal. It's been a long road, baby.



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CHAPTER SEVEN



I loved Saturdays best of all, because I knew I'd be able to sleep in the next morning. I usually took Himitsu for a late-night walk, and she would be fine until around ten, giving me a chance to lounge in bed. It was my indulgence for the week, because I would stay up till 2 a.m., reading or answering letters or watching a movie. It was my "me time" that I recommended to all my clients that they set aside for their own mental health.

It had been two weeks since I had seen Yukito, and I admit I wasn't thinking of him then, though he did frequently cross my mind. Still, life did go on, and my life wasn't about Yukito. It was about Imiyo. While it was impossible to completely separate myself from my work, there was a certain distance I had to maintain to keep a grip on my sense of self.

That particular Saturday had been a good one. I had gone out shopping with my two closest friends, indulging in a bit of a splurge on clothing for a date I was having the next day. I had been seeing Yoshitaka for three months, and though neither of us was interested in marriage, it was a pleasant relationship that I could see sinking into a deeper understanding. I liked him, he liked me, and we both found each other attractive and compatible.

I came back later than usual, feeling a bit run off my feet, and luckily Himitsu was contented with a quick walk around the block rather than our usual mile. I made a mental note to take her to the park before my date the next day and toss a ball around with her. I felt like going to bed earlier than my usual time, and since it was Saturday, I could be flexible.

I was considering that thought when there came a tapping on the door, slow and uncertain at first, then gradually increasing in volume until it became frenzied. I blinked once, wondering why they hadn't bothered with the doorbell. I went to the door, my curiosity peaked. The door was starting to shake on its hinges, so it most likely wasn't a salesperson. Whoever it was desperately wanted to see me.

Cautiously I peeked through the spyhole, and my breath caught. Yukito was leaning against the door, his head tilted downwards as he repeatedly slammed his fist against the door. His gray hair hid his expression and his posture was slumped.

Something had happened, something momentous to bring him back to me, literally to my doorstep.

My fingers fumbled with the locks, trying to get through before Yukito had a chance to change his mind and left. My weariness melted away and I realized that this was his turning point, and what I did in the next few minutes could change his life. A heavy weight rested on my shoulders, and I found it hard to breathe.

The lock gave way, and Yukito looked up at me with eyes that seemed lost. "Imiyo-san," he said, and he stared at me. From his fingers slipped a piece of paper, but I ignored it, preferring to deal with him directly.

"Yukito-san," I said cautiously, unsure of what he was about to do next. There was a tenseness in the set of jaw, and I wondered if he was too broken to be repaired. "Can I help you?" I asked.

"I..." he began, but fell silent, glancing at the paper on the floor, and after a moment I recognized it as stationary from my desk, though it had been crumpled from being clenched too tightly.

Without a word to him, I picked up and read it aloud, even though I knew what it had said. It was the one I had written myself and given to Yue two weeks ago. "A man dreamt he was a butterfly flying happily among trees. It was such a vivid dream that when he awoke and found himself a man, he did not know for certain that he was not really a butterfly dreaming he was a man."

"I found it last night," he said softly. "Yue must have left it for me... But it's your handwriting, isn't it?"

I nodded. "I gave it to Yue to give to you when he thought you were ready to see me again," I said softly. "Do you want to come in and sit down?" I asked.

"I... Yes." I stepped back so he could enter, and the way he glanced around nervously as he came in reminded me of a nervous deer, about to run at the slightest sound. My apartment was warm and homey, and I hoped the lavender incense that I had burned earlier in the day would help relax him.

"Can I get you something to eat, drink?" I offered, lingering between him and my favorite chair. I needed to be doing something as a hostess, to put this on a social level. This was my house, and I didn't feel right not offering hospitality.

"No, no," he said hurriedly. "I shouldn't have barged in so late, but..." Yukito shifted in his chair uncomfortably.

"It's fine," I assured him, taking my chair. I smoothed my dress over my knees before looking at him. "Are you a butterfly, or are you a man?" I asked after a long silence when it became clear that he wasn't going to say anything.

He leaned forward, burying his face in his hands. He looked defeated, and I wondered if Yue had been wise to give him my message... was he ready? Could he really embrace his nature?

"Yukito?" I pressed.

"I don't know anymore," he said softly, and then he looked at me.

He wasn't crying at all, and that worried me. He should have been, any sane person would have been if they were confronting that they were the creation of a magical being. He should have been raging against what life had dealt him, but all I saw was a quiet sorrow and helplessness.

Had he given up? Was I Yue's last hope in keeping Yukito from going completely insane? Was Yukito too broken to be fixed? These thoughts raced through my head, as I wondered if confronting him with the truth had shattered him being repair. Perhaps Yukito had been meant to live in a fantasy world, one where no pain could touch him...

...but he had come to me first. He wanted help.

This knowledge steeled my will. "Yukito, what happened last night? Why did Yue leave it for you?" I asked.

"I... I transformed into him after another fight with Touya," Yukito whispered. I noted how he wasn't calling Touya by the nickname he used usually. "He must have gotten it then, because I was only out for a few minutes. I haven't been able to think of anything else since I read it."

"You fought?" I asked, seeing the heart of the issue through his babble. I had never imagined Touya fighting with Yukito, but perhaps my grasp of the dynamics of their relationship was wrong...

Yukito averted his eyes, unable to meet mine directly, and posture increased as he straightened. His slender body was stretched so tightly that I feared the slightest pressure would cause him to snap. "Not a fight, exactly. Touya doesn't fight... he just... well, he knows things and demands you not deny them, and it's uncomfortable."

I decided it was time to confess. "I found him to be a disquieting person, but we need people like him in the world. They're the ones who are - wise, and it makes us want to challenge what we are and become more. They force us to confront ourselves."

He caught onto what I was implying immediately. "You've met Touya?" he asked, and he sounded betrayed.



I nodded slowly. "He came here that night I saw Yue to knock some sense into me. Yue sent him, but I have the feeling he probably would have come and introduced himself eventually. He... really seemed to be weighing me." I gave Yukito a crooked grin. "I haven't been so thoroughly analyzed since I was going through my licensing."

His hands clenched and unclenched several times as he tried to find the right words to say. "He... always seems to be watching out for me," he murmured after a moment. "Though I hate how he and Yue conspire against me."

"Against you?" I echoed, keeping my voice carefully bland.

"It seems like there's a great conspiracy to keep me innocent. I wasn't allowed to participate in some of the largest decisions in my life. Imiyo-san, at one point, I was in danger of dying because Sakura didn't have enough magic to support Yue's existence." He bit down on his lip so hard I was afraid it was going to start bleeding before continuing. "But Touya had magic, too, enough magic to sustain us... and he gave it away. He didn't even tell me what he was doing."

"He had to give it to Yue, didn't he? Not you?" I asked. The picture of Yukito's life was starting to shape for me, and now I was starting to understand the sorrow I saw in face.

"He... damn him, he just did it, and Yue accepted!" he exploded, and for the first time, I saw him angry. He rose to his feet, terrible and angry, and suddenly I saw Yue in his face. The dangerous and entrancing appearance, and the distance from humanity. He was too wonderful in his rage, icy cold and foreboding. "It's my life, too! I have a say in what happens!"

His eyes sparkled with cold light, and if he had been Yue, I would have wondered what magic spells he would have cast. Instead, I smiled at him, glad to see there was enough will in him for him to be angry. "It is," I told him. "But it's Yue's as well. If he hadn't accepted, you both would have faded away into nothing!"

"Maybe I would have preferred that! How can I continue to live this half life?" he demanded. He started to pace the room, and my eyes followed him. He was transforming in front of my, from a broken young man into someone with enough strength to be Yue's other self. It was fascinating to watch.

"You have things to live for," I told him. I wasn't worried that Yukito was suicidal; this was different. This was similar to the guilt of transplant recipients, and other survivors. Survivor's guilt. Anger. Guilt. Loss... he was grieving. "You and Touya..."

"There is no me and Touya!" he snapped back at me, and suddenly he fell back in the chair, losing what little color he had.

"What happened?" I asked calmly, drawing on my years of experience to keep calm. If Touya had abandoned Yukito, things were much worse than I thought.

Yukito lost all of his passion, and merely stared down at his feet. "There never was a me and Touya," he said softly after a moment. "You were right to call me a liar."



I knew Touya loved Yukito, but it wasn't my place to say it. It was obvious from how Touya had reacted that night that Yukito was important to him, and I wondered how anyone could not love him. But I was the counselor, outside of the situation.

I shut my eyes for a long moment, trying to rearrange everything in my head. I had to respect Touya for being wise enough to recognize that Yukito wasn't ready for a relationship until he got his issues with Yue sorted out. Yukito needed Touya, but Touya was caught in limbo, though. He couldn't do anything until Yukito was stable enough to be an equal partner if he wanted a healthy relationship. The counselor in me recognized this, but I still wanted to strangle Touya for letting this go on like this for so long. "How much of what you told me was the truth, Yukito-san?" I asked softly.

He looked dreamy as he spoke to me, apparently lost in his own musings. "How close can you get to someone without becoming a lover? What's the difference between a boyfriend and a beloved? Whatever it is, Touya and I walk that long, always passing but never quite touching." He looked at me directly in the eye. "I'm sorry for lying but I think in your office, I wanted to pretend it was the truth..."

"My office isn't the place for fantasies," I said sternly. I wasn't going to back down.

"I know," he said. "But... if I don't know who I am, then what is a fantasy? Can't everything be the truth? What is the truth?"

"I'm not going to give you an answer, Yukito-san. You tell me," I ordered. The air became tense between us.

His eyes swam with tears that he didn't shed. "I..."

I wasn't going to let him break down, not without a reason. "Yukito-san."

He stared at me, and suddenly a smile, perhaps the first one he had offered since I had intentionally destroyed him, came to life. It wasn't full of the sweet innocence of before, but I liked it better. It was one of someone who had grown, and it was beautiful. "That's my answer. My name... is Tsukishiro Yukito." There was a pregnant pause before he spoke again. "And I'm the shadow form of Yue the Judge."

Then he broke down, falling forward out of the chair to his knees. Tears streaked his pale cheeks as sobs tore at his body, seeming to try to shake him apart.

I rose out of my chair, coming forward to embrace him, finally able to offer him the comfort I had been denying the both of us. "And now your healing can begin," I whispered, brushing his hair out of his eyes as he cried into my shoulder. His body was warm and strong, and I wondered if I would ever be able to make this young man whole.

"How?" he demanded. "I'm only half of a person." I rocked his back and forth, much like my mother had done when I was little to offer him comfort. It occurred to me that no one had ever been his mother, no one had ever tried to offer him a maternal hand. We had passed the boundaries of client and counselor, and there was no going back.

"I don't know, Yukito-san," I whispered to him. "You're like no one I've ever met, but then no one is like anyone else."

His tears continued for a while longer, but even the greatest emotional storm had to cease. When they faded to mere shudders, he pulled back to look me in the eye through his glasses, and I took them off, setting them down on the coffee table beside us. Without them, his face lost many of its barriers. His amber eyes were red-rid from his crying-jag, but somehow he was still beautiful.

"Imiyo-san," he said quietly, "I'm scared. I don't know what to do."

"Neither do I. But we'll figure it out," I gave him another smile, one which I hoped showed him the maternal love he needed. Maybe that was why he chose me, out of all the counselors. Maybe it was fate or magic that had brought us together - after all that had happened, I knew that there was more in this world than I had dreamt possible a month ago. "Counseling sometimes takes years to work. I'm willing to stay the course, if you're willing to as well."

He nodded. "I'm trapped," he whispered. "You're the only direction I have left to go."

I shook my head fiercely, holding onto his shoulders firmly, knowing he needed the warmth of my hands to ground him. "That isn't true. You have Touya, and you have Yue. They may not be the easiest directions, but someday, you'll have to go towards them as well."

Yukito looked terrified of the idea. "I..."

I hushed him gently by covering his mouth with my right hand. "I said someday. You can go towards me right now, and we'll figure out the truth together, but that's my condition. I don't know if I can be a traditional counselor for you - we've broken too many rules. But I can be a mentor and your guide, which may be something you need more. The only thing I ask is that you don't lie to me anymore."

He nodded slowly, and I recognized the hope dawning in his eyes. "No more lies," he promised, then he gathered me in his arms and embraced me. There was a desperation in it, and I knew that I had suddenly become one of his anchors in this crazy world which had created a young man out of moonlight and magic.

I ignored my misgivings and hugged him back. I didn't know if I believed he was Yue dreaming he was Yukito or Yukito dreaming he was Yue, but I knew that this young man needed me... and I wanted to help him. His beauty, his quiet ways, had drawn me to him, but I had seen glimpses of a tormented and lonely soul that called to me.

I was a counselor, but also a human being. That was my duality, a duality that had entwined me into his life. Perhaps that duality would help me understand him, or maybe it wouldn't, but it didn't matter. All that mattered was that Yukito was ready to start confronting the truth of his existence, and that he was strong enough that the truth wouldn't break him.

HERE ENDS ALTER EGOS

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Notes:

Chuang Tzu: Taoist Chinese called the "butterfly philosopher" he was most famed for his butterfly dream.

Credits:

Tam Chronin for the reassurances that by taking this route she would not disown me, Krystal for all of her work, Meghth for being my number one... whatever it is on this fic, all the members of the ccsyaoi list for their encouragement (it was reading through their archives that got me over the final hurdle), and the ff.net reviewers who stuck with this, especially Lau, Sinnatious, Alezia, Skittles, Askani Blue and Monique for their recent comments, but everyone's were appreciated and kept my fingers tapping!

Author's Narcissistic Ramblings:

When a writer starts a story, they do it for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's just for fun. Sometimes it's to explore a concept. And then you have something like "Alter Egos."

It's a piece that I felt needed to be written - not necessarily in CCS fandom - but one which was needed in the fanfiction realm as a whole. I started this story to give a firmer, more realistic, point of view on psychotherapy. I was very tired of seeing psychotherapy portrayed in a humorous light or without firm grounding - statistics say over half the population (American) will undergo it during their lives, and the stigma which is associated with it is fostered by ignorance and stereotypes. I wanted to create a realistic, human counselor using modern, non-Freudian (most counselors are not psychoanalysts) methods. I wanted to show a session and the fact that counseling is work. Yes, I had counseling training before I decided it wasn't my career path.

I've been very encouraged by the responses to this. I'm firmly convinced that Yue is extremely depressed, powerful, wise and he will come out of it, because he's learning to love again. There's a lot going on behind the scenes that you DON'T see, and the problem with 1POV is that everything is filtered through Imiyo, who doesn't understand magic, and while perceptive, she didn't catch onto the fact that Yukito was lying about his relationship with Touya (something a VERY astute reader of "The One True Thing" may have noticed - at no point was it mentioned they were ROMANTICALLY involved). Yukito plays her like a violin.

I'm not positive I'll be back in CCS fandom anytime soon, though when I am, it'll be in this same universe - I have a Meilin sidestory for Chapter five (yes, it was Meilin) planned and the sequel, if it gets done, will be another spin on Yukito/Yue with another lead (not an original character, though Imiyo is now rooted in my universe), called "Nyctalopia" set after this fic, though not much after. And there's more because by the time this series is done, there will be around six stories.

Imiyo did not "fix" Yukito. That wasn't the point. This fic ended when the first major hurtle was reached: Yukito accepted that Yue is his other self. Now the WORK begins. But that's for another fic, maybe, or for the reader's imaginations.

Feedback, of course, is always sought. ^_~