November 15, 2001: Well. *ponders the fic* This damned thing is evil. I'd love to say that I have absolutely no idea where it came from... but I can't. I've been in a really horrible mood this past week, and it just seems to be getting worse the further I get into the school term. So, I think this fic spawned out a deeply hidden desire to just... end it all. Now, since I would never actually do such a thing... the only possible outlet was to make a fic character do it. And these two poor guys paid the price. No, I won't tell you which two. If you read the fic, you'll figure it out quickly enough. And if you're not going to read the fic... then why the heck are you reading the disclaimer? O_o
Minor Warning: If you're not familiar with "CLAMP Campus Detectives" and at least passingly familiar with "X", this fic won't make much sense. No real spoilers because this fic is AU. ((Unless you count knowing that Nokoru becomes Rijichou of CLAMP Campus as a spoiler--but I mean really... who hasn't figured that out? ^_^)) No one knows how "X" will end except for CLAMP and they aren't telling. But God, I hope it doesn't end like this... O_O
Major Warning: I know I always say I'm an angst queen, but this is ridiculous. With the exception of Sacred Trust (which I don't count because Kourin's death is FY canon), I have never written a deathfic. Until today. That's right, people... This is a deathfic! I can't make it any more explicit than that. This is not a happy fic. If you are having a bad day, please do not read it. O_O On the upside, however, I feel a little better now that I got this off my chest and onto paper... ^_^ And in a twisted sort of way there's a happy ending... Kind of. @_@ Aw hell, just read the fic.
Takamura Suoh gently closed the leather-bound book and pressed it tightly to his chest, a choked whisper emerging from his lips as he fought back the tears, "Kaichou... Why didn't you tell me...?"
It had been nearly a year already, but time had frozen for the ninja on the night of his Chosen One's death. It had only been Ijyuin's quick action that had prevented his senpai from following the young Rijichou. He was only now starting to emerge from the dark despair that event had induced. It had been such a tragedy, to lose the one who had been a guiding force to the Seals all the way through the battle, on the very eve of their victory. The world had been saved, Apocalypse averted, and Suoh had rushed to his Chosen's bedroom to awaken him and tell him of the victory. Instead, he had found Death.
Nokoru had been so still, lying in the bed like that. In all the years that Suoh had known him he had never seen him so quiet. Life and vivacity had always seemed to flow from the youngest Imonoyama like light and heat from a fire. There had been nothing lively about him that night. By the time Suoh had reached his side he had already been dead. It was pure luck that had Ijyuin be the one at his heels--though at the time, Suoh had been convinced that it was bad luck, not good. With the young thief's sharp eyesight and even sharper reflexes, he had seen the dagger that Suoh tried to turn on himself before he could use it and managed to get it away from him. Not bothering to argue with the ninja, Ijyuin had simply punched him hard in the face, knocking him out for the duration. Now that he thought about it... that was likely the first time he had ever seen Akira engage in physical violence. No doubt his young friend had also been overly distraught or he couldn't have done it.
In the weeks that followed Suoh had lead a brutal investigation into Nokoru's death. No stone was left unturned, no question left unasked... but still, they found no answers. His Chosen was dead and they didn't know why. Having failed in that one final task, Suoh sank into a depression the likes of which only a Takamura could understand. He couldn't eat. He couldn't sleep. He couldn't function at all. The entire world had been swallowed by a darkness so suffocating that he simply couldn't reach through it. Nor did he want to. He simply didn't want to be part of a world where his Chosen didn't exist.
So what had changed? Perhaps it had been Ijyuin's constant visits. Perhaps the quiet hours that Nagisa-san spent playing her flute at his bedside. Perhaps it was his mother's desperate sobs--tears that he hadn't even known she was capable of shedding--deep in the middle of the night when no one but he could hear them. Perhaps it was Nokoru's spirit come back to prod him to heal. Perhaps a combination of all of those things was what finally brought him back, kicking and screaming, from the safety of the darkness. Perhaps he would never know.
It was nearly a week now, since he had first come back into awareness, and already the despair was starting to press back in. It wouldn't be so hard to hold back a knife from his dinner and end it all, to drown himself in the bathtub, any other number of things. In fact, he had been contemplating doing just that, when CLAMP Campus' Rijichou had shown up at his bedside that afternoon. She had brought him this one thing... a gift. Nokoru's diaries. She had said nothing, simply brought the diaries, bowed once, and left. Inside the first had been a brief note: ~I believe that you may need these far more than I, Takamura-san. Please read them, understand... and be well. It is what he would want.~
And so, Suoh had read them. This one entry... he kept coming back to it. It explained everything--everything that Suoh had been too blind to see until it was too late. Nokoru's death had been planned and designed nine years before it occurred. Though there had been no way to prove that Nokoru's death was a suicide at the time... now he knew it for what it was. All the proof he needed was right here, in his friend's own words. Nokoru had simply... wanted to die. And what Imonoyama Nokoru wanted... Imonoyama Nokoru got.
His diaries were a testimony to the horrible loneliness that he had always suffered. Suoh had tricked himself into believing that his Chosen's friendship with Ijyuin and himself had filled that void that he had sensed in the younger Imonoyama. Clearly he had been wrong. So very wrong. And Nokoru had paid the price for his obliviousness. If only I had known... Kaichou... I loved you--more than my own life, more than my own happiness. I would have been anything for you, if I'd only known what you wanted me to be. But now... now it's too late. I can't do anything for you. I know what you want of me now. But I can't... Nokoru, I'm sorry. I just can't. I'll try to do better next time. Yakosuko da yo.
Finally releasing the tears that had been held prisoner in his soul for the past year, Suoh placed the diary down on his night-stand next to the one letter that already rested there. He had found this letter to Akira--along with one addressed to himself--in the back of Nokoru's last diary. Suoh then placed three other letters beside that one--one for Akira, one for Nagisa-san, one for Utako-san. They might not understand, just as he had failed to understand. But he thought he saw where Nokoru had gone wrong. This time would be different.
With a sad smile, Suoh pulled a cloth-wrapped object from beneath his pillow. All of those years spent around Akira had served him well--his mother hadn't even noticed that it was missing when she left yesterday. He spent a moment examining the short dagger. It was far better suited to throwing than for what he intended it to be for... but it was sharp. It would serve just fine. It wasn't as if he could afford to be picky.
Gomen, Kaichou... I know you wouldn't want me to do this. If you're watching me, I'm sure you're screaming right now. Bowing his head, Suoh once again let the tears leak free, But this one time I can't follow your orders. Nagisa-san will be sad, I'm sure, but I simply can't continue on like this. I love you, I need you, and I can't live without you. I'm sorry... so sorry. Sayonara... And with that last thought, Suoh plunged the blade into his chest, embracing the ensuing darkness with all the tenderness of a lover.
It was fitting, that Suoh be buried with Kaichou. Akira was sure that they would have wanted that. And it was a beautiful ceremony. All of the remaining Dragons and Seals had attended. The entire Takamura Clan had turned out, as well--honoring their young Clan Head as the hero he had been in life. Poor Takamura-san... Akira had remembered her as being a cunning, vivacious individual--much like Kaichou in many ways. Yet yesterday... she had been so sad. Pale, withdrawn... as if it was herself lying in that grave and not her son. Nagisa-san and Utako-san had been the strongest of all of them, quietly walking about amongst the gathered mourners and seeing that everyone was dealing with this all right. Nagisa-san had surprised him with that. He hadn't expected her to be that strong. She had smiled sadly and told him that she had feared this would happen from the day that Nokoru had died, and that she was happy to have had this past year to slowly begin to let go. Akira hadn't been so fortunate.
Staring up at the sky, Akira gave a funny, bitter little laugh. The sky had been overcast since the end of the funeral yesterday. It looked like the rain was finally about to break, pouring down and battering everything and everyone in its fury. That, too, was fitting.
Akira rubbed a hand across his eyes, fervently denying the thought that he was crying yet again. It was cruel, far too cruel, that he had to lose his two best friends. And he had been so certain that Suoh would get through this! This last week he'd been getting better--he had started responding to his friends, he had seemed genuinely happy when they came to visit, when Nagisa-san played her flute for him, he had even joked with Akira that if he could count on that apple pie every week that he would make certain to get well quicker. Had that all been an act? Had he been planning this all along? In spite of the burning hole in his heart that those doubts and questions were causing, Akira didn't want the answers. He didn't want to know that his best remaining friend had been deceiving him all that time, cheating him of even the opportunity to say goodbye.
Akira's hands clenched into fists at his sides as he glared at the two tombstones. The grief and pain in his heart were battering at his psyche, causing him to shake slightly. And underneath those two now-familiar emotions was another... a new emotion. Anger. Several more tears slipped loose from his eyes and ran down his cheeks. He wiped them away with one fist. More replaced them, harder and faster until he couldn't wipe them away fast enough. Finally, unable to take it anymore, he fell to his knees and started to sob.
What good was any of it, anyway? What was the damned point of it all? He was all alone now... how did they expect him to go on like this? He slammed one fist into the ground and through the sobs started to rail against the unfairness of it all.
"Why, Suoh? Wasn't it enough that we lost Kaichou? How am I supposed to continue on alone?? What good is one Detective? We were a team... You, me... Kaichou. I can't do this by myself!!" He slammed his fist back into the ground, hardly wincing as he drew blood from his bruised knuckles, "You always prided yourself on helping people in distress... well I'm in distress! Where are you when I need you?" One more punch--that was starting to feel good, in a strange sort of way. This pain was clean, free of grief and despair. He slammed his fist into the ground again, and again, and again, crying all the while. He didn't even notice when the first harsh clap of thunder sounded, nor when the Heavens let loose their fury in a torrent of rain.
After a particular vicious slam, a black clad lap intercepted his fist on the way back towards the ground. A frightened, yet firm voice caught his attention and drew his eyes upwards, "Akira-san! Yamete!"
Seeing Utako's frightened, pain-filled eyes was the last straw. Akira collapsed into her arms sobbing like a lost child. She merely held him, stroking his back as the rain slammed down around them. Finally, soaked to the skin, and shivering from more than just the cold, Akira's sobs slowed enough for him to sit up on the mud-slicked ground and pull away from his fiancée. Utako raised a tender hand to brush his hair from his dim, grey eyes, then slowly helped him to stand and stumble over to a small gazebo to protect them from the rain.
Once she had him settled to her satisfaction, Utako set about the task of examining his hand, binding it gently with her handkerchief. Akira let her do it, passively sitting by as she took care of him. She eventually stopped fussing and settled back into her own chair. Akira watched her for a moment, then in a voice hoarse from weeping, said, "What am I supposed to do, now, Utako-san? I... I don't know how to go on by myself..."
Utako's eyes widened and she shook her head, "You aren't alone, Akira... That's what Imonoyama-san didn't understand, and Takamura-san didn't see until it was too late. You are never alone. You have me. You have Nagisa-chan. You have your mothers... you have your father. And we all love you. We will all help you get through this... if you let us."
Not knowing quite how to respond to that show of support, Akira simply bowed his head and closed his eyes. He almost missed Utako's quiet voice when it spoke again, "Akira... You weren't ready to read these before... but I think that now you should." She held out two sealed envelopes to him, one with Kaichou's handwriting, the other with Suoh's. Once he had taken them, Utako rose and moved to the far side of the gazebo giving him the distance that she was sure he would want.
He opened Kaichou's letter first.
It was... It was far too long, Kaichou. But that's just like you to leave something like this up to chance. Always waiting for the last minute to do the paperwork... He could almost envision Kaichou, plotting and planning exactly the best place to hide his last words to his friends, hoping that they would be astute enough to figure out his last challenge. It was a true shame that they had proved unequal to the task... Akira bent his head back to reading.
Oh, Kaichou... you were wrong. I already knew. We all knew. Even Nagisa-san. Even Suoh-san. You were the one who didn't understand. Suoh-san loved you, too. He would have died for you--did die for you--and done it with a smile. It isn't such a stretch to think that he could have lived for you, as well... If only we'd known... The tears started to once again slide down Akira's face. They weren't the harsh, angry sobs of earlier... these tears were of a gentler variety, an expression of grief and love. Kaichou... I miss you. We all do. I wish you were here... There isn't a day that I don't.
Akira refolded the letter, sitting in silence for a moment as he absorbed the true impact of his friend's words. Nokoru's warning had come far too late. But what Akira truly didn't understand was that if he had foreseen how badly they would both take his death... why couldn't he see that they loved him? Did he truly not understand, in spite of all their years together, that Suoh and Akira loved him? That was the real tragedy in all of this--that Kaichou had gone through his entire life thinking that he was so very alone... when the two friendships that could have supported him were just an arm's length away the entire time. If he had only reached out... told one of them how lonely he was... If only one of them had noticed... If if if...
He wondered what Nokoru's letter to Suoh had said, for surely there had been one. Were Nokoru's words what had finally pushed Suoh over the edge? What a bitter irony that would be. But he would never know what that letter had said. Only Suoh knew, and he had taken his knowledge with him to the grave. Only four letters had been found with Kaichou's diaries: the one that Nokoru had written to his younger kouhai and the three that Suoh had written to Akira, Nagisa-san, and Utako. If there had been others, they were in different locations.
Well, the only way that Suoh had left to tell him anything was through his letter. Akira mentally braced himself and opened it, almost afraid to read what was inside...
Akira carefully folded this last letter and gingerly set it down on the table with the first. The fine trembling started in his fingers and rapidly traveled up his arm, soon engulfing his entire body. "Senpai... Kaichou..." The words were broken whispers, a last attempt to hang on to something already long gone. The harsh truth that he would never see either of his fellow detectives again started a deep, throbbing pain in his chest. Suddenly, he felt so alone... So very alone. Was this how you felt, Kaichou? Like no one on this Earth could understand the emptiness? Like no one on Earth could fill it? A small sob hitched his breathing and before he was quite aware what he was doing, he was once again sobbing into his hands--for himself... and for Nokoru and Suoh who had suffered so much, and who, in spite of their friends, still had no one to ease the pain of their loneliness. For his friends who had died simply for the lack of ever hearing three little words.
A warm pair of arms wrapped gently around his body, holding him and sheltering him as if he were made of spun glass. He turned his face into Utako's stomach and clung to her for all that he was worth, still sobbing. She merely held him, and rocked him, and was there for him. Such a simple action--just letting him know that she was there. It was exactly what he needed.
When he finally calmed enough to allow her to sit down across from him, she smiled and rested one hand against his cheek. She spoke in a quiet, intense voice, as if she wanted to make certain that he understood every word that she spoke, "Akira. I will not leave you. I will be here for you, no matter what. I love you."
As if her words were a cue, the rain began to lessen, the clouds pulled back from their angry positions, and the sun began to shine. Akira turned to look out at the two newest graves in the Imonoyama graveyard... and smiled. Kaichou... Takamura-senpai... Thank you. I do understand. I will get through this. We will get through this. And I won't ever forget to tell her... Turning back to face his fiancée, Akira took her face between his hands and pressed a gentle kiss to her lips. At her look of surprise, Akira's smile widened, "I love you, too, Utako... I love you, too."
After all... what else need be said?
Gomen: I'm sorry
Kaichou: President ((Nokoru was President of the Elementary School Student Council when he and Suoh met, though by the time he died he was Chairman of CLAMP Campus.))
Kouhai: Underclassman ((Suoh and Akira were both Nokoru's kouhai.))
Sayonara: Goodbye ((Has the connotation of finality.))
senpai: Upperclassman ((Used as a term of respect. Akira always referred to Suoh as "Takamura-senpai".))
Yakusoku da yo: It's a promise.
Yamete: Stop ((Command))