Author's Notes: Yueís been trying so hard not to think about Clow, but he canít really cope anymore. And he really has a bad thing for Clow still. As Yue loses power and he loses control over himself, he sometimes slips up in holding himself and Yukito apart. Itís like he refuses to relax into something that heís holding himself back from. It starts getting a bit surreal in places. The sentences aligned on the right side of the page are done so you canít really tell whoís saying them. For all his posing as someone who doesnít care, Yue is really taking Touyaís actions seriously. Is he really starting to get affected by what Yukito feels?


Shadows of the Moon

Chapter Nine

By Leareth

       

I need to conserve my strength. I used to take health for granted Ė not anymore. It is all too precious now, and becoming more so. So it would be best if I donít change form anymore. Remain as Yukito and hide myself.

It is easier and less tiring to be one person instead of two.

Itís even easier to hide. Iíve been doing it most of my life. Clow kept me and Kerberos hidden from public view in the mansion we lived in. Non-humans living in a human environment Ė even I was aware of the whispers that went on about the Ďstrange houseí. Master Clow was careful to keep them whispers.

I hid and slept as much as I could when Clow died. It was easier Ė and far more preferable Ė than living with his loss.

Now Iím hiding within my own mind again. Let Yukito live and in this way pretend that everything will be alright.

Itís not as if anyone would miss me if I never change back to myself anyway.

There was a very good reason why Clow kept Kerberos and I out of sight. Not that I cared about my isolation Ė I was completely content to remain with Clow. Even Kerberos was good company Ė though I will never admit that to him. He has a big enough ego as it is. But now, things are different. Sakura is less comfortable with me than I would like Ė and she is my mistress. She is my friend, yes, but she does not get on with me the way she does Kerberos Ė a close friend. There is a reason why Clow kept me hidden.

So Iíll hide. Maybe I can forget the hurtful things Akizuki said to me. Maybe things can go back to how they were before the Judgement.

Or maybe Iím hiding because Iím scared that once Touya finds out that ĎIí am not human, he will want nothing to do with me.

Hide . . . and sleep . . .

And dream.

       

"I want to swing by Sakuraís class before we go home," said Touya as he and Yukito put on their thick coats. It was a cold winterís day today, with grey clouds hanging low over their heads. A mist was beginning to form as well, hazing the schoolyard, creating an eerie atmosphere.

They had had a math test in the last period of morning classes. It had been a short test and having finished, the entire class was allowed to go home early. Yukito was extremely relieved. It had taken an inordinate amount of effort on his part to resolve the black blur on the paper into numbers that would behave properly, and it had given him a headache.

Akizuki had duty today and so, couldnít follow the boys as they left Seijou. For that, Yukito was grateful. He found the girlís presence more than discomforting nowadays, and was still puzzled over the cryptic things she had said to him. He didnít understand, but he knew that whatever she had meant, it was hurting. So he tried his best to forget.

"Why are we going to Sakura-chanís school?" asked Yukito. His movements as he put on his coat were slow and awkward. At least he had finished the test this time. He felt an odd sort of detachment, as though while he was going about the dayís activities, some part of his mind was thinking about something else.

Whatever he was doing to forget what Akizuki had said, it was working.

"She had a slight fever this morning," Touya growled, waiting for his friend. "She should have stayed at home today but she insisted on coming to school. Stubborn little monster."

"Sakura-chan is ill?" asked Yukito worriedly. "I hope sheís alright."

       

"Master?" He glanced up from where he was curled like some white cat reading a book. "Is something wrong?"

The man that had just entered the library smiled, then came over and sat wearily beside him. "Nothingís wrong," he sighed, closing his eyes.

The words didnít quite convince him. He could tell there was something not right. He began to sit up. Before he did so, however, the man laid a hand on his head, pushed him back and gently, began to stroke the long white hair.

"Iím alright, Yue."

       

A quick question to a passing teacher told the two boys were the correct lockers were. It was still only just after lunchtime, and all of the Tomoeda students were still in class. Therefore, Touya and Yukito were surprised to see that Sakura was standing in front of her locker, school bag packed and dressed in her coat, ready to leave.

It turned out that it was a good thing that they had come by. As soon as Sakura shut her locker door, she swayed on her feet and tottered backwards. She would have fallen over had Touya not caught her.

"Ho-e?" Sakura looked up into her brotherís worried face. "Onii-chan!"

Quickly Touya sat her down on the floor. "I told you that you should have skipped school today, kaijuu," he chided. Taking her schoolbag off her back, he handed it to Yukito who stood beside him worriedly. Sakura was indeed sick, sicker than he had thought.

"Iím not . . . a monster . . ." Sakura mumbled. Her cute face was flushed. Touya unwrapped his scarf from around his neck and looped it around his little sister.

"Pass me your bag, To-ya," said Yukito. "Youíd better carry Sakura-chan home."

"Good idea," replied Touya, taking his friendís suggestion.

"Yukito . . . san?"

Yukito smiled reassuringly. "Iím here too, Sakura-chan."

       

It was the crash that signaled the end. Quickly, he and Kerberos flew in from where they were sitting in the garden to the study. The Sun Guardian nudged the door open with his nose Ė as soon as space allowed, he dashed inside.

"Master Clow-"

His eyes went wide with shock. Clow lay on the floor, books scattered all around him, eyes closed behind his glasses.

"Donít stand gawking, you stupid Moon Angel!" snapped the Sun Guardian. "Heís obviously not well Ė pick him up and put him to bed."

Mechanically he obeyed, ignoring the strain as he lifted a limp arm over his shoulder, and, wrapping one soft wing around his master, carried him as best as he could to the bedroom. All the while he tried to ignore the fear in his heart as he looked at his masterís still and pale face.

Clow . . .

       

It wasnít a very long walk to the Kinomotoís house, only about ten minutes or so, but even in that short space of time, the mist had grown thick enough that it seemed to be another cloud. It worked intangible clammy fingers into every opening in their clothes Ė they stopped once so Touya could tuck his scarf tighter around Sakuraís neck.

"Why were you at my school?" asked Sakura, riding piggy-back on her brother. Her eyes were half-lidded and drooping closed.

"To-ya was worried about you," replied Yukito. He hid a smile at his friendís expression. "So we thought weíd stop by and see how you were doing." Touyaís face was as flushed as Sakuraís now Ė his sister was in no condition to notice. "We finished our test early, so that was ok."

Sakura looked groggily at Yukito as if she hadnít really heard him. Yukito bit his lip. She was most definitely not well. He wondered what she was sick with. Maybe it was the Ďflu? He told himself not to worry Ė Touya was already doing enough for the both of them, and surely everything would be alright.

Some part of him found it hard to believe that.

In an attempt to distract Sakura, Yukito turned his attention to the weather, ignoring his own headache. They were so frequent he was almost getting used to them. The fog had grown thick enough to block out anything more than ten meters in front of them.

"Wow," exclaimed Yukito. "This mist is really something!"

Touya made no reply to this as with an exhausted ĎHo-eí, Sakura let her head fall and rest onto his shoulder.

       

"Is he any better?"

Shake of head. "No."

"Heíll get better." Amethyst eyes gazed determinedly at the sleeping figure on the bed. "I know heíll get better. Master Clow would never die of illness."

The golden lion looked at him, but did not speak.

       

Yukito helped Touya put Sakura to bed. He stared at her lying there asleep for a long moment while Touya went downstairs to the kitchen to make some chicken soup.

For some reason, he felt as if he had done this before.

       

"Oi, wake up."

The white curtain of hair shifted. "What is it, Kerberos?"

The golden lion nudged him away from where he had been sitting for the past few hours, never moving. "Youíve been watching him for ages. My turn now Ė go get some rest."

He was in no condition to resist, but he tried so anyway. "I canít! I have to -"

"He wonít get better if youíre going to hover over him worrying like that," Kerberos retorted. Insistently the lion pushed his fellow Guardian towards a chair. "Look, Iíll tell you if anything changes, alright?" the lion said as he sat down.

Tiredly he drew his legs up and folded his wings around himself as if to shut himself away. "He will wake up," he murmured, eyes closing. "I know he will. He wonít leave me alone . . ."

       

"Sure you donít want to stay a bit longer?"

Yukito smiled and shook his head. "Itís ok. Call me if anything happens, alright?" he said as he left the Kinomotoís house.

Touya nodded absently, eyes unconsciously roving to stare up the staircase where Sakura slept. "Sure, sure."

Yukito smiled and turned to wave Touya goodbye.

       

When Kerberos let him take over their vigil, nothing had changed Ė for the better anyway. Clowís breathing had become more labored, the face drawn and pained.

He sat, and stared, hardly moving except to ease tired muscles, and stared some more. He wanted to touch the sleeping face, will it back to wakefulness.

But he didnít.

"Donít leave me alone," he whispered. "What if I never see you again?"

       

never see you again.

Yukito stopped, and gave Touya one weightless look.

To-ya . . .

so like him yet not him would you be more than friend/what he was to me?

"What is it?" asked Touya, startled.

what do you see when you see me?

Yukito blinked and shook his head. "N-nothing," he replied. What could he say when he didnít understand himself? "Iíll see you next time. I hope Sakura-chan gets better," he called as he exited.

To-ya was looking at him strangely. So he closed the door behind him, then walked quickly down the street.

Please, Sakura-chan, get well, please, Sakura-chan, get well . . . He ran this thought over and over in his mind like a mantra as he made his way home. Again, already he was feeling tired and all he wanted was to sleep. Please, Sakura-chan, get well -

Yukito stopped. Why was he so worried? There was no reason to be. It was modern times after all, with modern medicine and hospitals and doctors. And there probably wouldnít even be any need to see a doctor. Sakura was a healthy, energetic girl Ė he had never seen her seriously ill before. The usual maladies that children underwent Ė Sakura had endured them and come out of them bouncier than ever.

He had never known anyone to die of illness.

Wait Ė

       

The candles had burnt low, leaving only the faintest glow to relieve the darkness. He wanted to light them again, to have some sort of comfort however small. But he didnít get up from where he was kneeling by the bedside. He didnít want to leave his masterís side for any reason, in fear that in that one moment of absence Clow would slip away from him.

It was his turn to watch now. Even Guardians needed sleep, more so now since the one who was life to them was dying, and Kerberos had finally, with great reluctance, allowed him to take over, padding off softly to the end of the low bed and dozing with his head resting on the heavy quilt. His own eyes were feeling heavy, but he refused to give into slumber. He watched, he stared. He forced himself and memorise every line of the face on the pillow before him before the life was gone entirely, and when he had stared too long he used the white scarf draped over his shoulder to wipe away the tears.

When he did so, they still kept coming.

Please, Master Clow, get well, please, Master Clow, get well . . .

       

Yukito frowned as mist swirled all around him. What was that he had just thought? So many things werenít making sense anymore . . . he shivered and forced himself to walk again. Just a little further, then he would be home. Dully he realised that he still had to mend his house and garden . . . that could wait. Food was the main thing at the moment . . . no, sleep came first.

The mist grew thicker. It seemed to blanket him, enfolding him in cold clouds.

And yet, there was something familiar about the mist as gathered about him, almost as if to try and give him comfort. Like a touch from long ago . . .

       

"Clow . . ."

As he spoke, the salty water that had gathered under his chin came apart, causing a droplet to fall, smashing on the drawn face on the pillow before him.

The kind eyes opened. He started, forgetting the tears as the sick man smiled at him.

"Have you been watching me all this while, Yue?" Clow asked softly.

He choked, impulsively grabbing the hand beneath the covers. "Yes," he said hoarsely. "Youíre awake! Are you better? Is there anything I can get for you?"

The man shook his head. "There will be no need for that," the magician said. "Because soon, I will die."

Clow said it so calmly, so simply, no dramatics at all. But with those few words, his world began to fall apart.

"Thatís impossible!" he cried, clutching his fists in the thick bedspread. His eyes were wild as he stared at the inhumanly calm expression. "You canít die! Youíre the greatest magician in existence Ė surely there is something, anything -"

"There is nothing that can be done."

Th moon guardian stopped. He held himself so still he was certain that if someone touched him, he would shatter.

Someone did touch him. But he didnít break. Instead, he collapsed onto the bed as Clow gently stroked his long white hair. It was a touch he had long become used to, and yearned for everyday.

He closed his eyes and more tears fell.

       

Slowly Yukito willed his feet to walk the last few steps to his house. It was still littered from debris from that strange night when Sakura had come over with the teddy Ė he was too detached and tired to pay it any attention. And for some reason, he was also sad.

With fumbling fingers, he unlocked the door, took off his shoes, and went inside. The house was cold and dim Ė he switched on the heater and some lights to bring some life into the walls. It cheered him somewhat, though the warmth went only as far as the window. Outside, the garden was filled with thick fog.

Maybe he should have stayed at Touyaís house, he thought as he made his way into the living room, yawning. At least there he would have been with friends. But Sakura was sick, and although he was worried about the girl, for some reason he didnít want to be near her if she was sick. Oh well, it was probably for the best Ė he himself was still not in full health, and it would not do if he were to pass anything onto her.

But still . . . maybe he should have stayed with Touya.

Especially as he had the feeling that for some reason, he may never see him again.

       

"You canít die . . . you canít leave . . ."

"I am only human, Yue," the dying man said gently. "Even I canít escape death. Itís a part of life, my moonlit angel, you must know that." He maintained his caresses, trying to soothe the trembling Guardian. "People die, people move on -"

"Iíll disappear!" He jerked his head up, out of Clowís hand as he declared it so fiercely, not noticing the streaming tears. "If I never see you again Ė a life without you Ė"

Clow smiled. "I donít want you to disappear."

He froze. Clow reached up to cup his face Ė numbly he gave in.

"Donít let yourself fall apart just because I am gone," the magician said gently. "You have so much ahead of you. Iíve given you to power to take on other forms Ė use it. Go among humans, see what they do. Learn to live like one of them. Iíve been selfish, keeping you here, never seeing anyone but me."

"Thatís all I want! I donít want things to change!"

He almost sobbed when he saw that his masterís serene expression had not changed. "Things change whether we like it or not, Yue. And thereís nothing you can do."

"But -"

I want to say . . . I want to tell you . . .

"Learn to fly, Yue. I want you to live."

. . . but I know that I will only hurt myself if I say it.

       

With a start Yukito fell back into reality. He glanced around, disorientated and saw only mist. His legs shook Ė he was still standing in the middle of his living room.

What had just happened to him? Had he fallen asleep on his feet?

And what was that strange dream? But it couldnít have been a dream. He hadnít been asleep.

It felt as if he had been hallucinating. Yukito whimpered and clutched at his sleeve. First headaches, then continuous lethargy and hunger, now he was seeing things.

What was wrong with him?

Without warning, the world spun before his eyes and his legs buckled underneath him. Yukito toppled over onto the sofa. Before he could pull himself together a keening wind blew out of nowhere. It rattled the windows of his house and made him clench his teeth. He squeezed his eyes shut Ė the wind grew in intensity, forcing him to cover his ears.

Then it was gone as quickly as it came. He sat up and looked around, wondering if he had imagined it.

Outside the window, the air was clear. The mist had been swept away is if it had never been there.

He blinked. "That was very fast . . ."

It was the last coherent though he had before he fell into deep sleep.

       

Clow died that night. I remember sitting by his bedside for a long time, staring until my eyes hurt. It still seemed that he was only sleeping and would at any moment, wake and smile at me.

But then Kerberos pulled the blanket over Clowís face.

I never saw that face I loved again.

It hurt so much. I wanted to disappear. But no Ė Clow told me not to. I watched as Kerberos went into the Book and slept, to wake when the time was right. Right for what? I didnít want another master.

I wanted to sleep as well Ė

Yukito is sleeping now. Which means that I must stay awake. In the condition I am in, if both parts of me were to sleep, I may never wake up.

And . . . I donít want that anymore.

Why?


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