[Rough draft started January 29, 2002 - 8:06 am]
by Jin

Disclaimer: I do not own Flame of Recca or any of the characters. I’m merely using them for my own pleasure. Please don’t sue me. Thanks.

A/N: Okay…so I revamped this whole fic AGAIN for like, the 2nd time in history. Oh well. Anyway, I’m condensing the chapters. Uh...this are the original chapters 1 and 2. It’s going to be a bit confusing but I decided to do this because I have some other things in mind for the next chapters. K? Oh yeah...Tokiya seems a bit OOC, ne? Well, it’s all due to his miraculous summer vacation and a priest who managed to change a bit of him. Let’s just say that he’s on his way to self-recovery. I’m writing a side fic [Tokiya POV] on that. Let me finish this particular fic first.

R and R please! Thanks a lot!

Chapter 1: Silence and revelation

::Why am I here?
To be with you, right?
If so…where are you now?
You’re gone.
You left me.
I can’t believe…
…you’d do such a thing.
After all, you did promise me something.
That was a future together.
Where is it now?::

All it took were 2 sentences. It was over. There was nothing she could do about it anymore. It was over. No tears, no pleading, no weeping could ever take the pain away. Something hit her right through the chest and brought forth some unknown aching. This was all so new to her.

“We’re very sorry, Kirisawa-san.”

::No. It couldn’t be.::

“We’ve lost him.”

::No... I did. I lost him. You did your job. I failed. Within 2 hours, I just lost the most important person in my whole life. He’s gone now. I have no idea as on how to get him back here. Just…tell me it’s all a lie. Tell me it’s a big lie.::

They tried to offer her reassurance and condolences, however...she was still drowning amidst shock. She was trying to accept the truth and brush it away at the same time. Finally, her courage and strength gave up. She started to cry. Sadness moved her to tears.

::I’m lost now. I can’t find you.::

Immediately, arms wrapped around her, seeking to comfort her. She hastily moved away.  Even though everyone she knew was there, standing by her side, she felt alone. Cold, bitter, scared and alone. She gazed up at her best friend and mouthed

::I’m sorry. Just leave me alone.::

Her words were heeded. She was left alone. In the dark room, binding her with her own sadness. The same dark room where he left this world to pass on to the next. She gripped the chair, signalling her tension and anxiety. Colorless liquid flowed freely from her eyes once more and she broke down.

For the first time in her life, Fuuko Kirisawa had no idea about what to do except cry and seek comfort within the 4 walls of the hospital room.

::3:45 pm. The sun shall set and I shall bask in the fiery glory all by myself::

It took her one slam to finish jamming all of her books into the locker. It was indeed one stressful day at school. Fuuko felt tired, and all the energy seemed to escape from her body just like the air when a balloon is popped. She was always tired, for some unknown reason. Tired from school, from problems at home, from all the anxiety...

Just like everyday. She didn’t know what was happening to her.

“Fuuko-chan! Fuuko-chan!”

A perky voice filled her ears temporarily. She recognized it faintly. Her thoughts were cut short and she whirled around, wondering who would be calling her name at this time of the day. Surely, everyone had gone home by now? Fuuko checked her watch and her eyes hazily focused on the slender girl with long brown hair walking ---no, running towards her.

“Fuuko-chan, I’ve been looking all over for you!” Yanagi said breathlessly. Then, latching her arm with Fuuko, she dragged her near the exit of the school.

“What? What’s going on Yanagi? Where are you taking me?” she asked, jadedly. She had no time for little girlish talks or afternoon snacks. She wanted to sleep. Her body practically craved it most of the time.

::Go away, please..::

“It’s a surprise! You’re going to love it sooo much. Now, come with me and stop trying to pull back.” Yanagi gave her a smile, which Fuuko was indeed forced to return. She had to. She had no choice but to. For Fuuko, life was like that. So unwillingly, she opened her mouth to reveal perfect teeth cast in a nice smile. Something she used to wear.

::How long has it been since I last smiled?::

She was never the same. The minute it happened, the life in her blue eyes left. Her happiness and bubbly spirit went away. It seemed like her soul died along with him. She was empty now. No more energy and laughs. Those were replaced by sullen thoughts and grim frowns. Fuuko refused to go out. She stayed by herself, transforming from a jovial girl, into one morose individual.

And now, she was going with Yanagi to some place she doesn’t know about. She hardly knew what the gang was up to nowadays. Actually, she corrected herself; I never bothered to know anymore. She hardly spent time with them. She was too busy, studying or walking by a familiar path, thinking deep thoughts to keep her occupied. She returned to school a few weeks after he died. Almost everyone saw the change. And it started to spread. News that Kirisawa Fuuko, one of the most popular martial artists in school, lost her lover.

Fuuko ignored the sympathy everyone gave her. It was all fake anyway. No one knew how she really felt. Because everyone was happy. They all had someone to share everything with. They didn’t know what it was like to have someone wrenched away from you.

::How long has it been since I lost you?::

10 months, to be exact. She wasn’t even sure if she was ready to face the world once more. She was convinced that it was a bitter place. There wasn’t any warmth for her to dwell in anymore.

::People die. That’s the reality of life.::

“Fuuko? Fuuko?” Yanagi was waving her hand across her blue eyes. Fuuko stared at Yanagi’s palm for a while until she got dizzy. She brought up her own to stop it.

“Yeah?” She asked, while placing Yanagi’s hand down. “I’m getting dizzy, you know.”

Yanagi didn’t reply but gave her a searching look. Her brown eyes squinted and her expression frowned. It was there for a moment. Then it was gone.

“What?” Fuuko raised her own eyebrows. “Anything wrong?”

The frown faded away quickly. Yanagi shook her head and smiled again. “Nope, it’s nothing. You’ve been really weird for the past months, Fuuko. Are you sick or something?”

::Sick and tired of people’s sympathy, yes.::

Her parents did everything they could to help ease the depression growing inside of her. They brought her to some psychologist a few blocks away from her school. Yet, not much help was offered to her. There was little advice. It was more of questioning and she, trying to answer them. It had been the same questions all over and over again...she merely got tired of answering them, replacing the sullen yes with a snappy retort. Yet, for Yanagi she could make some effort to do it nicely.

She smirked inside. “No, Yanagi. I’m fine. You worry too much about me.”

::I wish I could smile, the way you do. You seem to be happy about almost everything.::

Yanagi had everything going for her. She had good grades, a wealthy life, and she had Recca by her side. It’s been what, 3 years after the whole Mouran episodes, and the two were still going steady. Looks like they had plans of getting hitched or something. Just thinking of the two lovebirds made her want to gag.

“Okay, if you say so.” Yanagi looked at her doubtfully before holding her hand and beckoning her to go inside her house. “Let’s go in, shall we?”

She followed her without resisting this time. Yanagi probably wanted to have tea with her. Would that mean that she would be asking the same questions all over again? Fuuko rolled her eyes. She wasn’t in the mood to explain how she’s been over everything and that she was coping with the pain, yadda…yadda. She crossed two fingers behind her back, hoping that this wouldn’t be another interrogation. From the guidance counsellor, to her parents and now Yanagi. Looked as if everyone wanted to pry into her.

Yanagi opened the door. Fuuko hesitated to enter for a moment, then stepped right in. This was the same house where she’d run to whenever she’d have problems. Fuuko inhaled the jasmine-scented air and thought faintly of times when she’d run into this house and seek the comfort of Yanagi and her soothing voice. Times when she and Yanagi would simply snack on a few titbits watch a few television shows and eventually fall asleep on each other. Most of the time was spent on gossip.

::Come to think of it, I haven’t done that in a long time.::

She walked inside the dark house. Yanagi seemed to have disappeared. “Yanagi?” Fuuko called out cautiously. She started to drift away again in her own thoughts not long before...

“Surprise!” A multitude of voices shouted. Fuuko jumped up, a few feet from where she was standing. A dozen lights flicked on and plenty of cracks with rainbow colored balloons. She gaped at her surroundings, wondering what the hell could possibly be going on.

And then, she saw them standing in front of her. Recca, Domon, Yanagi, Kaoru and Ganko. All of them were smiling at her, holding presents and behind them was a big birthday cake.

::I totally forgot.::

“Happy Birthday Fuuko!” Recca approached her and gave her a warm hug. She could only stand still, surprised. When he stepped back, she blinked, still speechless. They stood there for a while, looking a bit awkward and waiting for her reaction.

She forced herself to say something. “Mou, Arigatou gozaimasu minna. I really appreciate this. I forgot the occasion.” She smiled, sheepishly.

“Well, that’s why we’re here for you Fuuko..” Yanagi too, walked towards her and squeezed her arm gently. “It’s been a long time since you were with us for occasions like this. We decided to make this extra special, just for you.”

::Has it been that long?::

“Yep, talk about long! It’s been 9 damn months since I got to see my dear Fuuko-chan in her smiles and laughter.” Domon chipped in. “So, Fuuko...since it’s been _that_ long, would you mind giving me a kiss? I mean, you haven’t been doing that for quite some time so you can practice with me, ne? ne?” he asked hopefully.

Domon. He was still the same. Waiting for her. Some things would never change.

::Kiss? Our first kiss...::

She recalled vaguely the small room filled with the rays of sunset, a pair of arms that caught her when she fell for him...and warm lips touching her own. The memory was too much for her to bear.

“I’m sorry Domon, but I don’t think that would be appropriate.” She replied coldly.

The earth master halted, sensing the change in her mood. “Fuuko?”

She straightened up once more. “I think it was highly insensitive of you to say that. You very well know that I’m not in love with you or anybody else for that matter.”

How dare he, anyway. Fooling around and kidding like that when he already knew--

“Fuuko...I was only kidding.” Domon stammered, seeing her face.

“Well, you’re joke wasn’t very nice at all!” She burst out. “I permitted only one person to kiss me during my birthday and now he’s...” she trailed off.

Yanagi winced slightly. She knew how much her friend was still very touchy about the subject. Domon had obviously touched a nerve and it wasn’t turning out to be very pretty. She immediately hurried to the rescue of the ring-wielder and to pacify her friend.

“Fuuko-chan,” she said gently, laying a hand on Fuuko’s arm. “Domon didn’t mean to upset you. He was only joking, and besides…you never seemed to mind before. You should try lightening up. After all, it is your birthday and we only want you to be happy.”

She was getting annoyed for some reason she couldn’t define.

::Me? Happy? Since when did you know about real happiness?::

“I didn’t mind before because it was the past! Now is different.” she half-yelled. “To tell you the truth, I’m not into parties or special celebrations anymore. I’m not HAPPY. I was planning to walk alone by myself and enjoy the solitude. But since you guys prepared such a _wonderful_ party, without even considering whether I was in the mood for it...”

“But Fuuko, be reasonable. That _was_ the past. Don’t you think it’s time to move on? You should have fun every once in a while. Brooding to yourself doesn’t do you any good at all. It hurts me to see you like that by yourself.”

::The only comfort I manage to find is when I’m alone.::

She felt Yanagi’s hand remove its hold on her arm. She saw her trembling, placing a hand over her mouth, looking ready to break down. Fuuko saw it and realized...

Big mistake – she had said it out loud. She could see it. Her best friend was about to cry. Recca flew to Yanagi’s side and cast her a hurt look that said ‘how could you?’.

“Yanagi..” she started, then stopped, seeing the young healer in tears.

::I’m sorry. But I really can’t be myself anymore. I don’t deserve to be here.::

She turned around and fled from the awful scene. As if knifes could cut through hearts, then this particular memory inflicted her with enough pain to end her sanity. ::I’m sorry, but I can’t be myself anymore.::

Fuuko ran out of the house in full speed, tears spilling down her cheeks. Her mind filled with all sorts of thoughts, including resentment towards the group and bouts of reprimanding for her. She surprised herself back there. She didn’t know she had the capability to explode like that.

::Well, it’s not as if I haven’t expressed my feelings like that for the longest time.::

She didn’t care where she was going. All she knew was that she had just ran from her own birthday celebration, insulted her very own friends and was now feeling very confused. That’s all she felt. Confusion. Who would save her now and comfort her?

::I miss you.::

She didn’t pay attention to where she was heading. As a result, she crashed into someone and fell down straight on the cement. She hit it hard and felt her arm scratch the rough pavement. She lowered her head as to not show her face scrunched up in pain. It hurt.

“Gomen ne. Daijoubu desu..” A familiar male voice called out to her, in concern. “Are you alright ---Fuuko??”

He knew her. A hand, outstretched reached out to her and pulled her up. Fuuko forced herself to look at the face of this man.

::Could it be you?::

She recalled memories of him pulling her up whenever she fell down. Asking if she was okay, hurt or whatever. A voice filled with concern. Maybe it was heaven after all. Her angel was there to rescue her and make sure everything was fine.

::Finally, you’ve come back to me...::

“Fuuko? Fuuko?” Strong and slender arms shook her to bring her back to reality. She opened her eyes and felt her arm sting. Nope. This wasn’t heaven yet. In heaven, you don’t feel any pain. Nor sadness. She was still hurting.

Fuuko still hoped that it would be him. So, with enough effort, she opened her eyes and stared at the face

Of Tokiya Mikagami.

Fuuko groaned. She couldn’t decipher whether it was from the prospect of her injury or at the sight of him. Or maybe both.

Only silly girls would actually hope for the dead to come back to life, she scolded herself mentally.

“I was wondering whether you fainted.”

She tried to stand up. “No, of course not. Why would I? I’m not that delicate you know.” She said while attempting to do so. He assisted her with one hand. She took it and hoisted herself up to her feet.

::What are you doing here?::

By chance, he was also wondering the same thing. He recognized the purple hair and the blue eyes. Still, why would this girl be running around like a maniac (who wasn’t even looking where she was going, he added mentally) and had tears streaming down her face? It wasn’t in his nature to be nosing around yet curiosity killed him, and he couldn’t wait for an explanation.

He seized the chance to ask her. “So, where were you going?”

She looked up and looked at him inquisitively. It took her a few seconds before she came up with an answer. “Basically, nowhere. Anywhere. Just to get out of here,” she replied. “What about you? What brings you in this neighborhood? Unless you were on your way...”

Weird, he stated quietly. “I was on my way to Yanagi’s house when I bumped into you. In fact she was saying something about---”

“My birthday.” She finished irritably. “Yes, I know it’s my birthday, there’s a party and everything and I just finished enjoying the formalities.”

“Okay...” Tokiya raised an eyebrow.

He was quite taken aback. He did know Fuuko very well for her sharp tongue but she never answered him in a tone like this. Perhaps she was in a bad mood, he thought. But then again, people during birthdays wouldn’t be in such a foul state unless...

“You had a fight with them.”

She looked at him defiantly, then sighed and lowered her head again. “Yes, maybe. I don’t know...”

A touch of uncertainty told him enough.

“Are you alright?” came the next inquiry.

::I am so sick and tired of hearing that same question.::

“Mikagami, had I known that you took a course on psychology, then I wouldn’t be surprised to be answering all these questions of yours.”

Mikagami wasn’t Yanagi. Like the others, he deserved nothing but a sharp reply from her.

“As a matter of fact, Fuuko...I’ve taken into being more of a team mate who respects you. I was invited to the party, so I might as well go along with everything else.” He said, raising another eyebrow and crossing his arms.

“No one forced you to go, you know.”

Somehow, he didn’t like the way the conversation was going. He gave Fuuko a scrutinizing look before stating something else.

“Your arm.” He pointed out.

“My what?”

“Your arm.” He repeated. “It’s bleeding.”

Fuuko glanced at her right arm and saw that it had been grazed. It stung again. This time, she couldn’t hide it. “It’s okay...just a little scratch.” She said nonchalantly. It’s not as if it was something she could not handle.

Tokiya took out his handkerchief. “No, I don’t think so. Here,” he handed it to her. “Wrap it around so that it won’t get infected. We can ask Yanagi for some ointment or better yet, she could heal it...”

“No!” she blurted out suddenly.


“I don’t...I don’t want to go in there. They’re probably mad at me right now.”

“I don’t understand...”

“Look, can we just not go in there? Besides, I’m fine already, see? It’s only a small scrape and it’s nothing I can’t handle.” She cut him off pretty quickly. “I’m really sorry but I’m very irritated at his moment. I need to be alone for a few seconds so if you don’t mind, I had better be off now.”

He smirked. Somehow, he saw a resemblance of himself within Fuuko. Only that she was more willing to voice it out more than he did. Still, she was as hard-headed as ever.

Tokiya inwardly rolled his eyes. He sighed loudly. “You are so stubborn. Still, if that’s the way you want it to be, so be it. I’m in no position to stop you anyway. Happy Birthday Fuuko.” He said, before finally turning on his heel and walking away from her.

::Good day to you too, Mr. Know-it-all.::

“Matte, your hanky!” she called after him, holding the white cloth.

He shook her off with a wave of his hand. “Just make sure it gets cleaned after you use it. I don’t want any of your germs.”

“Why you insufferable...” Fuuko growled, and for once, she was tempted to go after Mikagami and punch that inflated head of his. He was still the same, smart-ass everyone knew. She stopped herself just in time. After all, she did owe the guy for his handkerchief and the little help he gave her.

::I will always hate Mikagami::

He was still the same cold guy that he was ever since he joined the gang. Fuuko wondered where she got the patience to put up with him. It’s a wonder that she didn’t wack the lights out of him. She was too tired to do anything to get revenge. She settled with rolling her eyes and continued to walk down the road to the place she was heading.

“I see.” Tokiya said. “So the baka said something about kisses and she got mad and stormed off?”

Yanagi nodded sadly. “It’s my fault, Tokiya-sempai. Maybe I should have asked her whether she wanted to have a celebration or not. She just got so angry at me.”

Tokiya nodded. Upon seeing an empty house and a miserable looking cake, he decided to get to the bottom of things. It was not in his nature to meddle with such but he did notice Yanagi near tears. Besides, something was really wrong with Fuuko for her super sharp replies were something new to Tokiya. Not only that...but also her physical state.

At first, the prussian blue orbs were empty. Life was nowhere to be found in those eyes, which used to have so much energy. He also noted, that she had also grown much thinner and carried herself in such a different manner from before.

Seeing the ensui master enter the house, Yanagi nearly threw herself at Tokiya, sobbing hard. Although Tokiya would’ve comforted her he hesitated because, Recca was already there. Surprisingly, the sea-monkey kept quiet. Probably mad at Fuuko, he thought. And worried about his hime, he added afterwards.

He didn’t blame Yanagi. She was only doing her duty as a friend. Now, if Fuuko were someone he didn’t know, he would have slashed her neck, knowing that she made Yanagi cry. Anyone who made Yanagi cry would answer to him, if not Recca.

Yet, he couldn’t very well blame Fuuko for her reaction to the whole thing. He knew about Raiha’s death although he was not physically there at that time. He was abroad, taking a vacation in Europe for a change. Only then did he find out that one of his comrades was in deep pain. Wait a minute, he told himself. Why is he actually studying the whole picture? He had this reputation for being the person who doesn’t care about anyone except Yanagi. Then again, Tokiya did experience something while he was away at Rome. Something that changed him to the very core.

He met a very wise priest who taught him about life and death. How the world turns, how to exorcise his demons. Tokiya was a bit reluctant at first to open up, knowing how hard it is to trust someone and remembering the last man who he trusted turned out to be the one who murdered his sister.

And so his 3 weeks of lessons started with the priest, whose name was Fr. Vincent. He opened Tokiya’s eyes and managed to squeeze out some of his emotions. It was in the middle of the third week that Tokiya received news on Raiha.

Fr. Vincent told him to take care of the poor girl. Tokiya merely smirked in reply and said that the girl can probably take care of herself. Besides, she has other friends who would do a better job than he would.

No, his adviser told him. You’re the best man for the job. You know what it’s like to lose a loved one. They don’t. She will need you at a time like this.

Tokiya did not pay attention to those words until now. When he came back to Japan, he didn’t see any trace of Fuuko. He didn’t bother. Where was she anyway? He only saw her now.

Actually, he admitted, I’ve seen her a couple of times around the campus. She looked fine to him. He didn’t see any change, any symptoms of severe depression. But maybe that was because he didn’t look hard enough.

Nor did he spend time with her. Tokiya bit his lip as a small wave of guilt went over him.

Tokiya finished speaking with Yanagi, assuring her that he would talk to Fuuko and help her. He set foot outside and began his walk towards his house, which was a 15-minute walk from Yanagi’s place.

Now Tokiya, his mind asked him, why have you decided to do this? He shook his head. It was for Yanagi. Period. That was all there was to it anyway. He promised he’d try. From what they’ve told him, he was the only one Fuuko didn’t snap at.

Then again, he was the one late for the party. Something in his heart told him to give it a try. It wouldn’t hurt, would it?

“Hey, Mifuyu...what would you do if you were at my place?”