Chapter 6: To Face Reality
Over the next few months, Yukiteru and his sisters were forced to cope with the aftermath of the disaster.
Which they did, albeit not entirely without difficulty.
It was definitely hardest in the beginning, though that was hardly surprising given the closeness that had characterized their little family. Yukiteru himself shed no tears, nor did he see the point - after all, not even all the tears in the world could bring Piero back from the dead - but there were more than a few times that he would go down to the dining hall, half-expecting to see his uncle at the head of the table.
And whenever this happened, Yukiteru would remember that Piero was already dead, and that it was just him and his sisters now.
And since neither Athena nor Minerva required food or drink, being persocoms, they merely sat opposite Yukiteru and saw to it that he ate his meals – a task that was easier on some days than others. At times his despondence would show itself in his refusal to eat more than just a few spoonfuls of the food his sisters had prepared for him. And indeed, there were times that the two girls would be forced to feed him as though he were a toddler, much to his embarrassment.
Embarrassed though he was, however, Yukiteru didn't fault his sisters in the slightest. They had always been nurturing towards him, and now that Piero had died, they felt the burden of responsibility more acutely. It was, after all, his final directive for them as a family: that they take care of each other.
Unfotunately , getting Yukiteru to eat regularly was actually the least of their concerns.
As of late, he'd developed a penchant for spending hours on end in the Animus, reliving Ezio's memories over and over again. And even though Athena and Minerva repeatedly expressed their worry and concern as they reminded him of the dangers posed by the bleeding effect, Yukiteru refused to listen. As far as he was concerned, the best way to honor his uncle's memory was to become Ezio.
That way, he thought, he'd never have to suffer the loss of a loved one ever again.
And one night, after having spent a particularly long period of time in the Animus, Yukiteru logged out, only to be greeted with the clearly upset faces of his sisters.
"Yuki-kun, enough already!" pleaded Athena frantically, her red eyes visibly shining with unshed tears. "This isn't the way! If you spend too much time in that thing, you'll end up destroying yourself! You won't be you anymore! You of all people should know that!"
Yukiteru didn't answer as he sat up from the Animus, merely staring down at his sisters' feet. He'd killed that gunman that night, but still, if Yuno – they'd gotten to spend a few moments together in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy – was to be believed, he still hadn't able to prevent the deaths of her parents. And what was worse, his uncle died, too.
"…So much the better, then," Yukiteru muttered despondently, tears welling up in his eyes. "Good riddance to me."
It was true that he'd been able to assimilate the skills of his ancestor surprisingly well. Indeed, as Athena had told him before, he wasn't even supposed to have been using the Animus, let alone been capable of achieving so high a degree of synchrony with his ancestor. But even then, the inescapable truth of his weakness continued to haunt him.
He was still Yukiteru Amano, not Ezio Auditore; therefore, he was weak. The way Yukiteru saw it, if only it were Ezio who had been there that night, Yuno's parents – his uncle – might not have had to die.
"I was weak, therefore I couldn't stop them from dying. But if I became Ezio-"
"Chiuidi il becco, marmocchio!"
At those words, Yukiteru looked up in alarm.
He'd seen his sisters upset in the past, but even then, they rarely lost their composure. Outbursts on their part were practically unheard of. And if he managed to upset his sisters enough to provoke one –in Italian, no less – he must've really done it this time.
And so it was unsurprising that, just as he looked up, Minerva wasted no time smacking him right across the face, hard enough to leave his cheek stinging for several seconds afterwards. What did surprise Yukiteru, however, was that Minerva embraced him immediately afterward.
"Don't you ever say that again!" she said, the tremor in her voice betraying how close she was to tears. "I won't let it go next time!"
Yukiteru said nothing as Minerva let go of him. Athena, seeing that their little brother had calmed down, took her turn to speak:
"Yuki-kun," she began in a gentle voice. "It's true that you're not Ezio. You never will be, not even if you achieve full synchronization with him. Not even if you lose yourself to the bleeding effect."
"You're you, and you always will be," continued Minerva, her red eyes meeting Yukiteru's cobalt ones. "And you know what? We wouldn't have it any other way. You're not weak at all. You're our little brother, and we love you."
"Father would say the same thing, too," this from Athena, who hugged him just as her twin did a moment ago, before going over to his bedside table to pull out a sealed envelope.
"Here, Yuki-kun," she said as she offered it to him. "I think it's time you read this letter."
And as Yukiteru opened it, he realized that what he was about to read were likely the very last words his uncle had ever written.
Dear Yukiteru, Athena and Minerva,
If you're reading this, I likely didn't survive my last mission.
Yukiteru, I'm leaving you one last gift, and possibly my greatest as well. It's called the Eden's Diary, and it'll help you create a better future – and not just for you or your sisters, either. But even then, take care not to get too attached or dependent on it. I know for a fact just how strong you are, nipote, and a strong man doesn't need to read the future – he makes his own.
I'm sorry for having kept so many things from the three of you, but I saw no other way to keep you safe. I've trained and raised you in the ways of our Order, but even then, there are things I needed to keep to myself. At the very least, though, I hope I haven't left you unable to carry on living without me. Athena, Minerva, I'm counting on you two here. Take care of each other like I never could.
Again, if you're reading this, I probably failed in my mission. I know I probably won't be able to dissuade any of you from going after my killers, either. But if you must do so, do it not out of a desire to avenge my memory, but to finish what I couldn't. It's my last and greatest hope that you carry on our struggle – not only as Assassins, but as the scions of the Auditore family.
And if there's one last thing I have to say to you three, it's this: I love you, and I always will. Even if none of you were my children, I've never thought of any of you as anything but. Don't ever let anyone make you believe different. Forever yours, Piero Auditore.
A silence fell between them as Yukiteru took in the letter's contents.
"Don't you see, Yuki-kun?" asked Athena gently. "He chose to die back there, so we wouldn't have to. And now you're going to repay his sacrifice by running away from what's real and destroying yourself?"
Ever since the day of the tragedy, Yukiteru had gone over the events in his head time and again, wondering what could have been done to avert the losses. For one thing, he figured that had he caught the one who'd pistol whipped him from behind, he would never have been able to gun down Yuno's parents. And in turn, Piero would never have had to dispatch him with an aerial assassination, and his wounds would never have been aggravated.
At the time, Yukiteru decided that he needed to quite literally become his ancestor. He told himself that it was so that the sorrow of that fateful night would never repeat itself again when, in truth, all he was trying to do was run away from reality.
What have I done?
Tears came spilling down Yukiteru's cheeks for the first time as all the grief he'd kept at arm's length came crashing down like an avalanche.
And his sisters, seeing that they'd finally gotten him to face reality, embraced him tightly together even as they themselves wept for the tragedy they'd suffered on that fateful night.
Yuno Gasai was all alone in what had once been her parents' bedroom, looking at the latest entry in the diary she kept on her cellphone:
March 25 / 22:00 [Gasai residence, my room]
Yukki's crying. He blames himself for not being able to save my parents or his uncle, even if it wasn't his fault. Please, Yukki, don't be sad anymore!
And as she read that entry, Yuno couldn't help but feel like crying, too.
Yukiteru Amano. She'd gotten to know him in the immediate aftermath of the disaster where, after his older sisters had been kind enough to let her stay over at their place for the night, they spent some time bonding together and comforting each other over their shared tragedy. He was all she thought about since then, and God – if he did exist – must have noticed, as the day came that her cellphone suddenly began telling her what he was doing every ten minutes.
More importantly, however, that night they'd spent together allowed Yuno one realization: Yukki didn't meet her expectations at all.
On the contrary, he'd exceeded those expectations so thoroughly they were left in the dirt.
After all, as far as she knew, a lot of girls were known to fancy boys who sang silly love songs and looked like girls, such as that useless, obnoxious and utterly talentless hack of a singer from Canada who was popular when she was around three or four years old. There were those, too, who were simply after money, and who had no qualms about going after men old enough to be their fathers, just as long as they were willing to cater to their whims and caprices.
No, Yuno was much better than all of them.
After all, her beloved Yukki wasn't just some cute face, although he certainly was that. It wasn't just that he was amazingly talented, as his sister – Minerva, her name was – had described him, either. No; to her, her love for Yukki lay in much more than his charm, or his talent.
To Yuno, it was because he'd saved her that night, in more ways than one. Not only had he and his uncle saved her life from that murderer, he'd also given her hope for the future, just when she'd thought it died with her parents.
And just then, too, a strange noise came from her cellphone, interrupting that train of thought:
March 25 / 20:10 [Gasai residence, my room]
Yukki's going to Sakurami High School this year. Maybe we'll be classmates!
To say that Yuno was thrilled at that update would have been a massive understatement.
Indeed, it was at this point that she was convinced that God indeed existed, and that, surely, it was God himself who had bound the two of them with the red string of fate. Ever since that night, Yukiteru Amano – Yukki, as she'd come to refer to him affectionately – was all Yuno ever thought of. And now, they'd get to be together every single day.
For the first time since the death of her parents, Yuno Gasai was able to smile.
And even when Yuno fell asleep that night, it was still he who she dreamt of.
April 1 / 07:15 [Sakurami High School]
For the first time in a long time, I'm going to school. It looks like this school year will be fun.
Yukiteru reread that entry on his cellphone as he made his way to his new school.
Just the night before, his big sister Athena gave him a touchscreen cellphone he recognized as having belonged to Piero. Not only did it possess much higher specifications than the phone he'd been using until then, it also possessed the power to tell the future. The Eden's Diary, Piero had called it.
Even Yukiteru, who hadn't even possessed it for a full day, had to marvel at his uncle's last keepsake. Everything he was going to do for the next four hours was written there, just as if he'd written those entries himself, courtesy of its function as the Random Diary. It was like his Eagle Vision, he thought, only on a wider scale.
And even more amazingly, the Eden's Diary was still incomplete in its present form. If the note Piero left for him to find in the phone's files was to be believed, it possessed another function called the Assassin's Diary, although Yukiteru hadn't been able to unlock that one just yet. According to the note, the Assassin's Diary was supposed to provide detailed information on assassination targets and other persons of interest.
As it was, though, the Eden's Diary was already an undeniably useful tool to have, and so Yukiteru cherished the memento from his uncle. If nothing else, thought Yukiteru as he walked up the stairs to his classroom, it allowed him to plan his daily activities, and all but made sure that he'd rarely if ever be caught with his pants down.
After a few more minutes, he looked up at the sign outside one of the classrooms: Class 2-7.
Well, looks like I'm here.
Yukiteru walked through the door...
…And as he did so, he had barely two seconds' warning, before a certain rose-haired girl leapt into his arms and greeted him with a kiss full on the lips.
A/N: For those of you following my other fic, Platinum Angel, Eden's Diary is set before that one.
If y'all have time, check out this fic's page on TVTropes - it's tvtropes pmwiki / pmwiki . php / FanFic / EdensDiary. Let's fill it up nice and good ^^
Again, feedback is and will always be welcome :)