Chapter 17: Farewell
Yuri fluttered his eyes open, and soon discovered that he was shaking. Or, rather, Hikari was shaking him.
"Wake up." He said groggily, still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Yuri stretched, cracking his elbows. Hikari slowly descended from sitting to lying down on Yuri's bed, placing his head in Yuri's lap. By now he had stopped shaking him and was starting to fall into a slumber more by the second. Yuri figured he should wake him up, but he himself felt especially tired this morning, if it wasn't past noon already. Well, they might as well get ready for the day.
"C'mon." He urged Hikari out of his bed, who then fell promptly to the floor.
"Nooo..." He moaned.
"You guys must require a lot of beauty sleep." Kazumi teased, upon noticing their entrance to the kitchen.
"Iff's ten firty already." Chiyo spoke through a pancake that was dripping syrup into a small puddle. Not missing a single beat, Hikari ran a hand through his seemingly flawless blonde hair, and gazed at the girls through his ocean deep eyes.
"Well it certainly was worth it then, don't you think?" He crooned. Yuri could have sworn he saw Chiyo turn a faint pink, but Kazumi just laughed, Hikari's attempt to woo her completely failing.
"As if! Come on, you better hurry before I eat all the pancakes." Kazumi stabbed one with her fork, taking a bite out of it menacingly. Taking the challenge, Hikari strutted over and dumped a few on his plate and started eating as well. Yuri joined in, still smiling at the rivalry between his friends.
"Ahh! Now that was good." Hikari licked his lips, leaning back in his chair. He had eaten no less than 7 pancakes, putting Kazumi to shame with only 5.
"Not fair." Kazumi grumbled.
"You still ate more than Yuri and I." Chiyo comforted.
"True." She smiled.
"Well, we should get our stuff together." Hikari stood, walking towards their room. Before he made it there, however, something caught his eye, and he went to investigate. "What's this?" He creaked the door open to reveal several mannequins, each dressed in varying clothes. One outfit in particular stood out to Hikari, and he called Yuri over to see. Naturally, everyone followed suit. Contained on the mannequin Hikari pointed out was a long, slender, white dress. It was a beautiful dress, even though it was spotted in dark red splotches...
"Is that blood?" Yuri asked cautiously.
"It's fake blood, obviously." Kazumi said. Suddenly, she went pale with the realization of where exactly they were. "Wait- GET OUT!" She pushed all of them out of the dark, slightly chilly room.
"Wha-? Hey, what's with the sudden outburst?!" Hikari protested, stumbling out of the room.
"You weren't supposed to see that! It's a secret!" Kazumi flushed a deep red. The colour illuminated her face from the shadows of her hair, causing her to stick out like a rose in a field of snow.
"Secret?" Yuri inquired. "Why would something pretty like that need to be hidden?"
Kazumi twirled a lock of hair around her finger.
"It's my private collection of... er... the dresses I've made so far." Yuri and Hikari let out a small 'oh' but Chiyo seemed perfectly comfortable despite witnessing her friends magnum opus.
"You added more." She observed.
"Well its been a while since you last came in here."
"Still... you're getting better, way better." Chiyo sounded amazed just looking at the sleek silky fabrics.
"Thanks." Kazumi smiled, her face turning back to normal.
After the... incident, Yuri and Hikari made the short walk back home, enjoying each others company. It wasn't until Yuri noticed a familiar dark figure across the street that his face turned pale. Hikari was on him immediately, questioning whether he had eaten too many sweets the previous night. Yuri simply pointed, and almost whispered in a quivering voice:
"I've seen him before."
If Yuri hadn't sounded so terrified, Hikari might have taken the man as an old friend of Yuri's, but this was surely not the case. Something about the man sent a switch in his brain to flick on. Excusing himself from Hikari, and telling him to go on ahead, which he protested against but reluctantly trudged on slowly, Yuri ran towards the man.
"Who are you?" He demanded breathlessly, any sort of anger lost in his desperation to grasp a breath of air.
"The plan has changed." That deep, gravely voice gave the mans identity away.
"Xion?" Yuri couldn't help but stare bewilderingly at him. Xion was quite the well-built man, towering high over Yuri. He had just as much muscle as he had height. Though the mixture of his dark coloured skin and height could be seen as scary, Xion's eyes told nothing but a chocolate brown sweetness. Xion frowned, his lips pursing.
"We need to leave. Today."
Yuri gulped down the lump forming in his throat.
"Can we do it in the night? I can't leave him during the day..." His words trailed off, only to be replaced with the weight of a bowling ball rolling around in his stomach. The feeling did not sit with Yuri very well, so he would up feeling sicker about the following events.
"I will be outside Hikari's house at midnight. If you're not out by twelve-thirty I am going to come inside. Do you understand?" Xion made the plan very brief, but Yuri got the full message.
"Clear as a bell." He sighed. Xion looked at him for a moment, as if he were pondering something worth mentioning in his head.
"You may see him again, after all this. It's not the end."
Something about his words made Yuri lock eyes with the man.
"Right." He said firmly, giving a nod as he did so. Turning on his heel to catch up with Hikari, who could still be seen shuffling along at a drastically slow pace, Yuri felt more unsure than he ever had before. Upon reaching Hikari's side, they both continued their walk as if nothing happened. Hikari seemed to know that Xion was important, though he couldn't have recognized him. As far as he knew, Xion and Hikari were total strangers. Of course, Yuri knew he would have to face questions about Xion later but he didn't know if he could tell Hikari the entire truth. It all seemed too surreal in the first place. Yuri zipped his coat up to his chin, shuddering from more than just the cold.
"Are you going to tell me who that was or not?" Hikari lazily watched Yuri pace around the living room from his love seat. "At least take a load off." He motioned to the empty space beside him, though it appeared Yuri had no intention to sit. Instead, he paced slightly faster, muttering slightly to himself. Hikari caught small words like "why now" or "council" and even the more so confusing "Xion". Aside from Hikari's modest confusion, Yuri was getting, shall we say, antsy. He had never had to leave someone before- at least someone he cared about, and had the false hope that perhaps Xion wouldn't show, that he'd be at the regular council meeting tonight as always. Surely he knew it wasn't true, but he was willing to do anything at this point to stay.
"I don't understand!" Yuri blurted.
"You're telling me." Hikari huffed a sigh. Then Yuri felt the weight again, the weight that he had to let go of. A weight that would only come off if he confided to Hikari. What was he so worried about? He knew his big secret already, so there shouldn't be a problem! Right? Not right. He couldn't tell Hikari that he was leaving that night. It might seem rude, as well as he wasn't all too sure he could tell Hikari at all. Yuri had to say something. Anything.
"That was a, uh, an old friend of mine," He forced himself to lie.
"Yeah. It was a coincidence seeing him like that."
"Then why is it bothering you so much?"
"We used to get into fights way back when." Yuri could feel his hands beginning to sweat. "Its all in the past, and we've made up, it was just weird being with him again."
"Oh. Okay. I'll take your word for it."
The weight got even heavier, sinking Yuri's feet into the hardwood floors. His pacing slowed, and he was surprised to find that he was panting.
"I need a rest." Yuri stated, walking briskly out of the room.
And so, Yuri sat, finally, on the edge of his bed facing the wall. He kept shifting his arm from one thing to the next; a knife, a melon, a chain, what appeared to be a gourd, the list went on. While doing this, he thought of the best way to escape. Perhaps excusing himself for a bathroom break would suffice, if Hikari woke up at all, that is. He wasn't sure how long he stayed in there, shifting to his hearts content, but sooner or later there was a knock by the door. Abruptly cancelling his shifting midway, Yuri made sure his arm was back to normal before replying.
"Yes?" He sounded too anxious. Clearing his throat, Yuri turned to face whoever was at the door with a sturdy "Yes?". Thankfully, Hikari hung by the door frame, so Yuri relaxed his body a bit.
"Dinner." Was all he said, before swiftly popping out the room as quickly as he came. Odd behavior for Hikari, but was he trying deliberately to act that way? Yuri shook away the thought, and walked down the many hallways of Hikari's house, eventually stumbling across the dining room. If luck may have it, both Hikari's mother and father were present, which the cook took the honor of creating a fine dish of buttery lobster for their meal. It was quite extravagant, even for the chef. Had he put more effort into this than normal? Yuri wondered. It was amazingly, and peculiarly quiet as they ate, sending a sinister chill up Yuri's spine. It may have been the knowledge of his fate that crushed Yuri, but Hikari's family was another matter. He had never seen Hikari so solemn, nor Roy as stone faced as he was now.
"Are you all right, Merida?" Roy asked his wife politely, seeing as she had hardly touched her food.
"Fine, zee food is superb, but I... Somezing eez not right." Her brow furrowed, the gears in her head grinding against each other, searching for any possible explanation. "Perhaps eet is just my paranoia." She shrugged, taking a bite of lobster. Yuri kept his eyes drilled on his plate, but couldn't help glancing up once, to see the bright green eyes of Mrs. Ricoles staring straight at him, piercing his gaze. He found it nearly impossible to avert his eyes back to his food, but managed a smile before he did so to avoid questions.
The eve had dawned upon them before Yuri had time to realize. And with that eve came the night, and with the night brought the warmth only a bed could bring, cradling one in the heat. Yuri could hear Hikari snoring, or breathing rhythmically at the least, and took a glance at the time. 11:59 the clock read. One more minute, Yuri thought, and then I will leave. The clock struck midnight no sooner than he had thought that, and Yuri grumbled at the irony of it all. Reluctantly, he drew the covers off of him, and slowly tiptoed out into the dark, and slightly spooky hallways. When Yuri faced the front doors leading to the snowy world outside, he looked back. Back at all the memories they had shared. The happy times. Yuri's only happy times. His first friend, taking him in from the damp streets, treating him like he was normal. Always smiling despite any sorrow. The only problem being Yuri wasn't normal, and that was why he had to leave. When he was normal, or as normal as he would get, he would come back. Yes. That was his goal now. Tying up his shoelaces, and pulling them tight, Yuri blinked into the blinding snow that fell wickedly around him. The snow Yuri was used to was gentle, but this snow was much more reckless and chilling. The wind blew hard against Yuri's face, but he held a hand to shield himself. Just as promised, a black car was parked right in front of Yuri. He approached it, peeking into the drivers side. Xion looked at Yuri, and nodded. So it was him. Yuri felt a warm liquid trail down his cheek as he stepped in the back seat. It wasn't snow. He wiped the tear away, strapping his seat belt across his chest. Taking deep breaths, Yuri slowly calmed himself down enough to answers Xion's question.
At least he was honest. The car started, rumbling, and pulled out of its spot. It must have been difficult to see, the snow storm getting worse as Yuri observed it out the window. They drove for a couple minutes, Yuri staring lazily out the window. Something caught his eye. A dark figure, seeming to be a man. What? Impossible, he thought, still looking back at the now gone space where the figure was. He was just seeing things from the stress, Yuri presumed. Almost as the initial shock had worn off from the encounter, Yuri looked out the windshield just in time to see the dark figure again- only now it was directly in front of them. He yelled, as Xion tried to slam on the brakes, but they hit the figure all the same. A moment passed, and Yuri looked to Xion, who showed an emotion that tortured Yuri to the core.
None of them knew what the thing was, but they saw it standing up again, what appeared to be limbs cracking into place. While doing this the creature smiled wickedly, striking fear into the man and boy sitting in the car.
"Dammit!" Xion gritted his teeth, and pressed his foot on the gas, hard. They sped of with a lurch, but only made it a few feet before coming to a stop completely. Looking behind him, Yuri saw two long, clawed arms clutching the back bumper of the car, slowly making their way up to the trunk, and the window... Yuri felt his heart rate increase like wildfire, his breaths only taken in short and speedy. Hyperventilating, Yuri could see that the creature still stood in its original place, it's arms having stretched all the way to reach them, and still increasing in length.
Yuri was frozen with fear, rooted to the spot. He saw himself, breaking free from the lab, meeting Hikari, Seika, Kazumi, Chiyo, everyone he had met stood before him, smiling. The fact that he would never see them again made his blood run cold. Yuri closed his eyes, waiting for death.