Yuki screamed in shock pulling against the arms that bound him. He could only watch as his friends and classmates were all consumed in the explosion. His hands began to shake violently. The view was too much for him to look at and he turned his head away burying it in his knees. “W-Why?! They were innocent…”
At his side on his left appeared a faint image of him from a year ago. ‘I killed her! It’s all my fault! I killed mother!’
Yuki dug his face further into his knees not wanting to hear the truth any longer. The images of his mother on her dead bed haunted him. Wrinkles along his eyebrows grew with the pain of hearing screams of his friends. “I killed mother! And now I killed my friends too!”
‘Everything’s my fault! I’m the cause of everyone’s pain!’ The ghost of himself was becoming frantic throwing his arms out. There was nothing it could do to save itself.
“All I do is take…” A slow resigned breath escaped his lips as he let the thought sink in. All he brought with him was sadness no matter how much he smiled. It had to end.
Chapter 58 – The Soul of my Brother
‘That’s right!’ Another partial image appeared by Yuki on his right as a child from when he was younger.
The view of the outside faded away from him leaving him in darkness with his two selves. “They’ll be better off without me…”
‘Yes, they can stop protecting you!’
“Protecting?” Yuki thought back to the moments. As he recalled with each assassin that had come after him someone was always protecting him. “Always protecting me…” The portal to the outside returned shining a bright light on Yuki forcing his gaze up towards it. However, unlike before there was no view of the school grounds with his friends. When the light faded away he could see a scene from his memory; the first assassin that attacked him had him cornered and would have killed him.
Recounted memories showed Momoko beaten in their house. His body tensed up and a hand around his heart squeezed. Then Saki fought for him in the warehouse. Injured and exhausted, she battled the same as well. Weights pressed all around him. Even Seiji, gone for a year, stood up for him. And now his classroom, people that only saw him as a fool, the way he wished.
And worst of all, Ayumi bloodied and battered every time because of him. Unknown battles in the dark played out to keep him safe. Everything to save his life. “…Ayumi…you keep giving your life for me…what have I done…”
He could feel his heart pounding fiercely no longer willing to keep taking it. “I can’t let this continue…”
“…I have been worthless…but no longer!” Cracks appeared along the arms that tied him. “I can’t just let everyone keep protecting me! I have to fight for myself!” It no longer felt impossible to breathe. A burning grew inside him.
He had to change.
“No! You can’t fight!” said the younger version of him from a year before. “It was your fighting that made mother sick! She died because of the fighting! You can’t fight!”
The child version of him snapped in suddenly silencing the boy. “You can’t even remember your promise clearly! It’s become blurred by your guilt!”
“What?!” Yuki turned around facing both of his phantoms with confusion. “I know what happened!” He leaned over toward the child. However, the child looked back at him holding a stare in his eyes that made him question it.
“…Yuki…is that you?” said a shallow voice from the room. Yuki could never forget his mother’s voice and nearly became paralyzed hearing it. He turned back around towards the portal not certain what it was going to show him.
She eased back into her bed resting her hand on Yuki’s hands at the side of the bed. She managed a smile for him with her half closed eyes looking over at him. “How are you…doing, dear?”
“I-I’m fine! Get some rest so that you can get better!”
Those words made him freeze stiff. The pounding of fear that had been starting to fade was renewed with even greater crushing strength. “School?”
Yuki pressed himself into the entryway feeling a sense of dread crawling up into his legs. “…mother…”
“…Yuki…you can come…in…” There was little strength left in any part of her as she simply lay in the bed. It took great effort for her to even move her hand.
Yuki rushed into the room having been beckoned. She tried to pull herself up out of the bed for him. “It’s alright, mother… I’m here. You don’t need to get up for me!” Watching her struggling sent needles all through his skin leaving it all numb.
She eased back into her bed resting her hand on Yuki’s hands at the side of the bed. She had managed a smile for him with her half closed eyes looking over at him. “How are you…doing, dear?”
“I-I’m fine! Get some rest so that you can get better!”
Those words had made him freeze stiff. The pounding of fear that had been starting to fade was renewed with even greater crushing strength. “School?”
The words whispered through his ears continuously making him want to run away, but it had left his body too weak to move. All he could manage was to place his hand on his mother’s hand for reassurance. “…it’ll be alright...mother…you don’t have to worry anymore…”
“…Yuki…” His mother’s eyes closed slowly followed by a long exhaled breath. It pulled him up on his legs leaning in towards her fearing that she would never open her eyes again. The shallow, quick breathing came to a rest as she opened her eyes to look back at Yuki. “Yuki smile for me just once more…” It seemed to be getting more difficult for her to even speak, bringing her short of breath with each word.
Yuki’s hands tightened up wrapped firmly around his mother’s. His fears wound with tension. Silent prayers muttered through his mind. “Mother! Please Don’t talk like that!” He dragged in towards her feeling her hand suddenly become loose. It felt as though life slowly pulled away. “Mother?! Please! I won’t cause you trouble anymore, mother!”
She coughed a couple times coming to a long quiet rest. Her half opened eyes looked at him softly. “Yuki…please…” The labored breathing from her became further drawn out as her eyes closed once more. She struggled to open her eyes waiting for Yuki.
Tears came down his face. He weakly pulled up a smile for her, fighting his emotions. A warmth filled her seeing his smile. It passed to him growing into a genuine smile just for her.
Her eyes closed with a smile on her face.
“Mother! Mother…” His head hung low looking away from her. The words that she spoke to him spun in his mind.
The fading warmth in her body was able to smile softly to him. “…th..ank…you…” A constant ringing filled the room. There was a moment of silence as Yuki froze.
He snapped his head up towards her, breaking away the tears. “Mother! I’ll keep smiling for you if you just open your eyes! So please! Please…open your eyes just once more for me…” There was no response from her apart from the lasting smile. “Mother! Please just once more…open your eyes! I promise! Mother!” Yuki's head fell into the sheets weeping and screaming until his throat ran dry.
None of the doctors or nurses dared to enter the room. After his voice had been lost and his tears dry, Yuki stood up and left the room in silence. It would be a silence that he kept for a month with no one able to understand what he was thinking.
“No! That’s a lie!” the boy shouted trying to deny the truth.
“It’s the truth! There was never a promise! You made it with yourself!”
“It was me?!” The arms completely crumbled. He dropped down, staring at the middle distance. Shock claimed his body and mind. The self delusions began to strip away piece by piece. Fake memories and reality became clear.
Everything that he twisted out of his guilt laid bare before him. A massive weight released for him and a new light shining that he had not seen in so long.
A distant voice from his past whispered to him. ‘You got into a fight again, Yuki? Remember your fists are to protect others. Promise me, you’ll use them to protect the ones you love, Yuki.’ The voice belonged to his mother when Yuki was still young. Yuki was able to remember how she had always scolded him about his fighting and that she made him promise that every time got into a fight.
‘That’s right! It was after father died and I started fighting anyone I saw. She would always make me promise even though I kept getting into fights. When mother got sick I blamed myself; I thought that it was because I hadn’t kept that promise. But now I remember the truth!’ He finally looked forward at the scene.
“I will, mother! I have the power to protect my friends and I will use it!” Yuki shouted up to the ceiling with the ground suddenly shining. Cracks began to appear in the earthen wall that protected him. Violent waves issued forth from feet with each coming faster than the next.
An array of blue and gold appeared around his body. Partially broken already, it vibrated with the shaking waves. A thunderous quaking started to build from within him. The array shined brighter. In a flash of light, it shattered like glass.
His personas watched on with their essences fading away. The boy held a worried look on his face before he faded away. The child faded away in silence with a sinister grin on his face.
Outside, Demosthenes began to march forward, not waiting for the dust cloud to disappear. However, he came to a stop when he felt the ground shaking suddenly. Soon beams of light burst from the cloud followed by pulsing waves. “Is it…” A wind broke from the epicenter pushing away the cloud. The stone fortress that had protected Yuki developed numerous cracks making Demosthenes’ eyes narrow in concern. A moment later the entire field shattered to pieces vaporizing into the air as Yuki stepped out.
The wind blew up again, spiraling around Yuki as a light covered him. Pulled into the center were particles that laid upon his body shining brighter until shattered away to reveal new clothes. He wore a distinctly more Asian inspired wardrobe that crossed between a formal robes and a fighter’s gi.
The old man re-examined the changes that came over Yuki. Demosthenes could almost feel the difference from the first time they met. The fear disappeared, replaced with resolve. “He finally broke the King’s seal…”
Yuki had a new look in his eyes as he stared down Demosthenes with determination. “I won’t let you hurt my friends any longer, Demosthenes. I promise to protect everyone!”
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