Chapter 1: Visitor
Under the cover of darkness They come to the Silver Star Tea house...
"Hello, my name is Tsukiyo. Is Hiruko in?" a teenage girl stood in the doorway, her long brunette curls cascading over pale shoulders, almost concealing the simple white vest she wore, her long straight skirt the darkest of lilacs.
Hifumi could only stare as Mizuki smile brightly, "He's in the back. Come on in, I'll make you some coffee."
Eyes that almost matched her skirt smiled at her, "Actually, I'd prefer a cup of tea if you have some."
"Of course, this is a tea house," Mizuki blushed, "This way."
The squeak as she limped forward made even Naamu look. Not pausing, Tsukiyo's gaze fell on Hiruko as she walked down the aisle, a knee length slit in her skirt revealing the leg brace, how her left foot turned towards her right. She smiled softly as the shock faded from his eyes. Hiruko nodded in return and as she got to the second table he stood, pulling the chair out for her, helping her scoot closer. Not a word was said as he sat back down. Resting his chin on the back of his right hand, they just smiled at each other.
"Well, what kind of dream are you having?" Mizuki asked as she returned with her tea, getting nervous with the silence.
Hifumi half-turned in his chair, leaning towards her as Tsukiyo bowed slightly before sipping her tea. "It's about the brace, isn't it?" he started guessing.
"Hifumi!" Mizuki gasped.
"Let me guess, it's walking off on its own and leaving you behind," he smirked, nodding wisely.
They just kept watching each other.
"Okay..." Hifumi chuckled nervously, "Let me think... you're stuck on an endless flight of stairs," she took another sip, "It's caught on the tracks and a tram's speeding towards you?"
Hiruko smirked while Tsukiyo giggled.
"You're reliving the accident that caused it?"
Mizuki sweat dropped, trying to stop him, "Why don't we let Miss Tsukiyo-"
"No! You really are the brace, aren't you?" Hifumi snapped up, slapping his hands on the table between them.
Tsukiyo only smiled bigger behind her teacup as Hiruko chuckled softly.
Hifumi narrowed his eyes as she demurely glanced at the table. "Don't tell me the shrimp's got himself a girlfriend!" he snapped up straight as they both turned to him, "You-you know he's a baku, right? That he's never gonna die, tha-" Mizuki elbowed him in the stomach.
The young woman just laughed as she turned to her purse. Setting some coins down by her cup, she reached across the table, clutching the fingers dangling under his chin. Still, not one word was said as they looked each other in the eye. Something softening around Hiruko's made her smile sweetly before she pulled back, those fingers now curled tightly together.
Barely managing to move her chair, Tsukiyo stood, bowing slightly, "Thank you for the excellent tea, I'll be sure to come again." With one last glance at the baku's smile, she turned and started toward the door.
The others followed her and as Mizuki opened the door, Hifumi popped up, "So are you really?"
She turned inside the door frame, taking the outside handle as she smiled weakly. "Thank you for taking care of him," her gaze flitted briefly past them before she turned out the door, "I thought I'd lost him in the Great Earthquake."
The door slid closed behind her, the DING snapping them both out of their shock. Hifumi rushed out first, running down the block and around the corner as Mizuki looked up and down the street.
Hifumi all but pouted, "She's disappeared."
"The street's completely deserted," she whispered back.
"How could someone with a bad leg just disappear in seconds?" he asked as they went back in. "Unless..."
Hiruko was just sitting there, calmly polishing his cane as if nothing had happened. Even with the light of the full moon falling serenely across his table, over a half a cup of lukewarm tea and a few coins.
Chapter 2: Windows
He stopped short of putting the top on at the sight of his right wrist. Smiling softly, he stuck one finger in the polish as he turned to the window.
"Hiruko, what are you doing?" Mizuki's question made Hifumi turn too.
He only smirked as he wrote 'olleH' on the glass.
"So you can write backwards, so what?" Hifumi half-grumbled, "The shado-"
A short simple 'Hi' shown on the table cloth.
"What?! How in the…" Hifumi slammed his hands on the table, gawking.
Mizuki stepped up beside him like always, "Hiruko, what's going on?"
"Augh, look!" Hifumi jumped back, pointing.
The shadow slowly rewrote itself…
'Bored?' they both turned to the baku, "Wait, WHAT! It still says 'olleH'! How?!"
Hiruko snickered as he stuck his finger in the jar again.
"Only the shadow changes…" Mizuki whispered as Hiruko turned back to the window and wrote 'elttil A' under the first line.
Hifumi jumped back as the shadow changed again. " 'I can't' " Mizuki whispered each line, " 'tonight'."
Suddenly snapping out of it, Hifumi sat across from Hiruko, intently studying the window as he added another line. '?worromoT'
" 'Okay' 'but it'd'" Hifumi and Mizuki read the lines, " 'be late'."
He smiled softly as he picked up the rag, wiping it all off.
They come to the Silver Star Teahouse…
… seeking solace…
"Hello, did you come about a nightmare?" Mizuki smiled at the elderly gentleman that stood in the doorway.
"No, but you do know there's a young girl sitting on your roof, right?" he said, pointing up, "She's sitting on the ledge, just staring at the sky. I'm worried she's going to…"
Hifumi snapped up, almost bowling the old man over as he ran out. Hiruko chuckled softly as he stood up, grabbing his case.
"Hiruko…?" Mizuki questioned as she followed him outside. Joining Hifumi and the gentleman on the curb, Hiruko smiled serenely as he recognized those brown curls. "It's her, isn't it?" Mizuki asked as she turned to Hiruko, smiling at the look on his face.
Hifumi jumped, turning to Hiruko as he chuckled softly, "What? You mean the cutie with the bad leg?" he questioned as Hiruko set Formalin to float, getting on, "But how'd she get up there?"
As Hiruko started flying up, Mizuki turned to the old man, "It's okay Sir, she's a friend of the baku that lives here."
He slowly turned to the sign on the corner, "Silver Star…" he whispered, turning back to see the baku hover before her, "So the rumors are true," he added as he walked away mystified.
Mizuki sighed softly as she pulled Hifumi back inside. "Wait! Mizuki, how do I get on the roof?"
Hearing his yell made both turn to the street. Tsukiyo shook her head as she turned to Hiruko. He smiled softly, "Is anything wrong?"
She hummed softly, "No."
"So you're done for the night?"
"Yeah," she smiled as he glided past her, landing quietly before he sat beside her, legs dangling over the edge too.
"You can't see all the stars here." Tsukiyo said softly as she turned back to the sky. Pointing to their left, she started connecting them, "The Dragon's missing his nose."
Hiruko nodded, pointing straight ahead, "And the Ox lost its tail."
"But the Tiger's still visible," she smiled as she turned to the right, not seeing the hesitation in the baku's eyes.
Keeping his arm bent between them, Hiruko watched her through his bangs, waiting to see if she'd turn back. Taking a deep breath, he gently laid his hand over hers on the ledge just as she turned between them, "And you can't -"
Tsukiyo couldn't help staring at the slender hand atop her own. Looking up, she couldn't help smiling at him, his head hung low so you couldn't see his eyes, the blush staining his cheeks. She brushed her thumb against his fingers, almost giggling as he tried to hide his smile by turning away.
They just sat there, holding hands and watching the stars. Not the least bit surprised by the THUNK behind them.
"Did he honestly think he could sneak up on us?" Tsukiyo whispered as Hiruko sighed.
"He's an idiot," he grumbled as he turned to the left. Smiling at the black cat, he almost pouted as it crawled across his lap and curled up in hers.
"Get back here," they laughed when Hifumi grumbled a little too loudly, "You're my cat, not his!"
Tsukiyo turned to her lap, "Why does this cat like you so much?"
"Its name," he smiled as she turned to him, "Naamu."
"Oh," she accepted, starting to pet him.
Hiruko sat there, watching Tsukiyo petting the cat for what felt like hours, smiling softly.
"Do something already!" interrupted them.
Tsukiyo sighed, "I actually came for a reason."
"The eclipse?" Hiruko half-guessed.
She nodded. "I'll be stuck at home from the day before 'til the day after. We can't even talk." she scooted a bit closer, "But Usagi's letting me off early the day before that, all I have to do are the daily deliveries."
"I-" she turned to find him hiding behind his bangs, the blush back as he tried again, "Would you like to come over?"
She almost giggled at his nervousness, "Or we could go-" he stopped as she picked his hand up off hers, his eyes going wide with fear.
"I'd love to," she almost whispered as she turned to him, practically seeing the relief wash over him.
Holding his hand in both of hers, they chuckled softly as Naamu gave them some privacy. "Well… I'll see you then," Tsukiyo started.
"Yeah," he murmured, looking into her eyes as he felt her power gathering. "Sweet Dreams, Tsukiyo."
She giggled as she leaned closer, kissing his cheek, "Dark Nightmares, Hiruko," her voice faded with her.
Just wanted to say I don't know anything about Oriental Astronomy, couldn't find a thing that wasn't based on the Greco-Roman ones we know today, so I just used their Astrology since that's where Astronomy was born.
"Why hello Miss, I didn't expect to see you here," the customer said as he caught her outside the door.
She just smiled, "Actually the baku's an old friend of mine Mr. Yamamoto," she graciously stepped inside at his invitation, "So was he able to help?"
Mr. Yamamoto nodded vigorously, "Very much so. Thanks so much for suggesting it."
She bowed as he stepped out the door, "I'm only too happy to help."
"Tsukiyo," she could hear the smirk as she turned to him.
She smiled right back, finding him pulling the dream from the orb. "It was so obvious, and it sounded so bloody, I thought you'd like it."
"Thanks," he popped it in his mouth.
"What do you mean Tsukiyo?" Mizuki asked, "Why was it obvious?"
She smiled as she went to Hiruko's table, "Well, Yamamoto told you he was promoted recently, right?"
Hiruko piped in, "His anxiety about his new position infected his dreams. His workers were slacking off and being rude to their customers. When he'd call up the courage to reprimand them, every time he'd say their name they'd get axed."
"Literally," Tsukiyo added, both of them smiling big. "In his mind he's got the power to ruin their lives and he's terrified of it."
Hifumi nodded, "So if he wants to keep his job he's got to face his fear."
"Yamamoto has to decide if it's worth risking his own neck to save theirs." Hiruko finished as he stood, picking up his case.
Tsukiyo smiled softly as he joined her, offering his right arm. Mizuki giggled at Tsukiyo's blush as she took Hiruko's elbow. "Shall we go?" Hiruko asked, smiling, a light pink dusting his cheeks.
"Go where, it's not like you can take her to dinner," Hifumi started, sneering.
They looked at each other with knowing smiles before Tsukiyo answered, "Who said I need to eat?"
They laughed as he almost knocked his chair over. "What?! Wha-what are you?"
She turned to Hifumi, smiling softly. "Don't underestimate the luck of a baku," he jumped remembering, "the customers don't come here just because of the rumors."
"I don't have to be here," Hiruko added, "and you know that."
Hifumi jumped, "Tsukishiro..." Thoughts of the white-haired baku making him cringe.
"Most baku don't have a place to call home. I thank you for that," Tsukiyo nodded to Mizuki, Hiruko smiling at her.
Leaving Hifumi staring, Hiruko lead her out of the shop and down the street. "Will you be okay going to the park?" he asked, blushing as she put her right hand on his arm too.
"I'll be okay," Tsukiyo answered, looking up with a slight blush, "Thanks for asking."
Hiruko nodded as he turned back to the street, "So do you…?"
"I'm starving actually," Tsukiyo giggled at his jump. "Hifumi hasn't figured me out yet, has he?" Hiruko shook his head and she added, "He's just too easy to play with."
Hiruko chuckled as he led her to the closest booth. He couldn't help smiling as he watched her chat with the vendor, smiling and laughing, smoothly explaining why her date wasn't eating. Apparently he wasn't recognized, but she was by a couple of customers, all smiling and joking, even pulling him in.
One person came up behind her and she froze.
"Come on Tsukiyo, we're going to be late," he piped up when one of the other customers noticed, the burly man behind her looking down, "Excuse us."
She just blindly let him lead her by the hand back to the Silver Star, staring at his back. Hiruko pulled her through the front door; barely registering there was a customer, "Come back tomorrow," he cut into whatever Mizuki was telling him as he started leading Tsukiyo to the stairs.
He didn't even get both feet on the steps before she let loose an ear-piercing scream and just collapsed. "No, nopleasedon't… not again… please please stopplease," she whimpered, tears rolling down her cheeks, "NO! No not my good leg PLEASE!"
All three were at her side as the customer ran out. "Tsukiyo, Tsukiyo please calm down." Mizuki tried, reaching out for her.
Hiruko caught her hand, "Don't."
"What happened?" Hifumi asked over her sobbing, "What did you do?"
"I didn't do this," Hiruko answered coldly before squatting in front of her. "Tsuki," his concern softened his voice and his eyes as he twisted to see hers, "Tsuki, its okay. You're at the Silver Star. Remember."
"Star…" she whispered, her eyes slowly focusing before she buried her face in her hands. "Hi-Hiruko," she hiccupped through her tears.
He forced a smile on as he reached out, not quite touching her, "it's okay Tsukiyo, you're safe here." she barely nodded, staring at his hand, "Is it okay if I carry you upstairs?" Hiruko asked, his voice getting stronger with each word.
The others could only stare in confusion as Tsukiyo slowly raised her head. "Up… upstairs?" she sputtered, a new round of tears starting. Hiruko just smiled softly and nodded. Tsukiyo tried to smile, but it wobbled as she sobbed, nodding her head quickly before hiding behind her hands again.
"Okay Tsukiyo," Hiruko nodded as he slowly got his arm under he knees, scooping her up. She clung to his coat, burying her face in his shoulder as he turned around, carrying her up to his room.
Realizing she wouldn't let go, Hiruko sat on his bed, holding her in his lap. Brushing her hair out of her face, he forced out the question, "Was he one of them?"
She nodded, her tears slowing.
He knew he had to ask, "A regular?"
She nodded again, "the last one…"
His hold got tighter at her words.
Mizuki finally stepped up, "What are you talking about?" he looked up at both of them.
"What do you mean 'regular'?" Hifumi's face looked like he already knew.
Hiruko turned to her, getting a nod before turning back. "Tsukiyo was rescued from a brothel." Mizuki gasped, turning to Hifumi.
She reached out and tapped her brace, "I was sold at 9 because of this. I was kept in the basement with the other kids. With nothing to help me walk I wasn't locked in a room…" she sniffled, "I couldn't make it up the stairs."
Suddenly snapped them back to the room. "I'll tell them to come back tomorrow," Mizuki hopped up a little too eagerly. They both smiled weakly at her as she turned, Hifumi quietly following.
Taking one of her hands, Hiruko was slightly surprised she let go of his coat. "Tsuki, are you going-"
"Brown hair and a leg brace! I know she's in here, now hand her over!" cut him off.
"Oh no!" she whimpered, curling inwards.
"Tsuki, it's okay. I won't let him near you," Hiruko kissed the top of her head as he stood, putting her down on his bed. "Wait here, I'll take care of him."
"Where is she?" bellowed up, making her jump.
"There's no one like that here," Hifumi's voice carried up the stairwell. "Now get out. You're not wel-"
"Bullshit!" Hiruko heard as he paused briefly on the last platform, composing himself, anger rising in his eyes at, "That little tramp is here, I know it! Now let me at her!"
"I'm sorry sir, I can't let you do that," Hiruko said, his voice like ice as he stepped into the shop. Letting every bit of horror and fear from the nightmares ooze out of him, he calmly approached the brute. The man stumbled forward a few steps but the terror was getting to him. "She belongs to me now, there's no way I'd let you damage her anymore. And besides, you couldn't possibly afford it."
"You little bastard," his grumble wavered with his fear.
Hiruko stepped closer, smiling evilly. "You should know better than to insult a baku," he chuckled as the real bastard jumped, suddenly realizing where he was. "Now leave before I give you a nightmare so horrendous you won't wake up," he held Formalin up between them, spinning it, watching the ass's gaze fall to it, "Everything you ever put her though and so much more." Hiruko smiled wickedly as the man gulped. He nodded once at Hifumi and snapped him from his shock. Hifumi stepped up and grab the man by the collar, dragging him outside. Mizuki's hands slipped from her mouth as Hiruko tapped his cane on the first step, and she rushed after him.
Going back into Hiruko's room, they found Tsukiyo hugging her right leg and his pillow in a death grip, pressing her mouth into it, new tears rolling down her cheeks as she tried to hold in the sobs. "Tsukiyo," Hiruko called out as they walked in but she didn't move. "Tsuki," he whispered as he sat down, touching her cheek, "It's alright Tsuki, he's gone now."
She blindly nodded, closing her eyes. Another pain-filled smile crossed Hiruko's face as he took her in his arms. Sighing, he turned as Hifumi came back in the room. "Mizuki, could you go get my polish?"
"Of course, but why?" she asked.
"He wants to write on the window," Hifumi answered as it dawned on him. "Wait, I've still got some paint in my room," he ducked out quickly.
Rushing back, he paused briefly before Hiruko nodded towards the other side of the bed. Hifumi only nodded back as he went over, pulling the curtain. "Write 'Help Usagi'." Hiruko stated, not noticing how both of them jumped.
"Usagi…" Mizuki whispered, "You don't mean…"
Hifumi stumbled back when he finished, as a kind yet concerned voice asked, "What seems to be the problem - oh."
She seemed to walk out of the moonlight like it was a fog. She could have been anyone's mother, her tawny brown hair had a white stripe on each side and was tied back loosely, the sleeves of her pale blue kimono tied up over her elbows. A caring smile almost hid the pain in her eyes as she stepped closer, leaning over the bed to look in Tsukiyo's face. "Sweetheart," she tried, "What happened, little one? Was it one of them?"
Hiruko pulled back, his eyes not leaving her. "We stumbled across him on our walk, he followed us back here," he sighed before turning to her, "Tsuki said he was the last one Usagi."
Usagi hummed as she stood, "Well that explains it," she turned to them all. "I had to leave her at one of your human hospitals when I rescued her. She wasn't breathing right. He cut her up pretty badly too." each word seemed to pull at Tsukiyo, she started blinking, slowly turning to the woman as she continued, "He'd left her at the bottom of the stairs."
"The door was wide open and the full moon was shining in," Tsukiyo added, her gaze falling to the floor, "I remember thinking, Usagi no Tsuki can't you help your moonlight?"
Usagi smiled softly, "But she didn't just think it. When I saw her I couldn't turn away."
The room fell silent as it sunk in; they tried not to imagine what wasn't said. A sudden sigh cut into most of their thoughts. "Sweetheart, we can't stay much longer. You need to calm down."
"I… I know but…" Tsukiyo nodded, closing her eyes.
"It's too close to the eclipse and it's already Shingetsu(1), Tsukiyo. I don't have the power to take us both." she added, "It's the only way Sweetheart."
She violently started shaking her head, "No! No, I don't want him to see that!" making the others jump.
"Tsukiyo," Usagi stated plainly, making her freeze. "It's been five years. If you want to get over it you have to face it."
Tsukiyo barely nodded, shaking nervously. Hiruko straightened up, reaching out and taking her chin. "Tsukiyo," he waited until she opened her eyes, "It's okay."
They just stared, they all stared as it sunk in and she nodded softly. Hiruko smiled as he stood up, allowing her to lie back. Squeezing her eyes closed, Tsukiyo nodded and Hiruko raised Formalin.
"Sleep now… Leave this world behind."
Scared to look, Tsukiyo slowly opened her eyes. "So this is what your prison looked like," Hiruko said as she recognized the rough wood walls, the Western hinged doors in the dim hallway.
"Yeah," she replied with a near-whisper. As he turned to her she slowly raised her right hand to her face, the pain at the slight touch reminding her of the black eye.
Kneeling beside her, Hiruko got a better look at the scabs, bruises and crude bandages she had, the ragged kimono she wore. His grip tightened on his cane as he realized those were burn marks on her left leg.
Tsukiyo squeaked as a bell rang once, the crying coming from behind the walls instantly stopping as it rang again. "It's for you," Hiruko realized as he stood, watched her shakily start levering herself up the wall.
Tsukiyo nodded, her voice wobbling with her held-in tears. "I have to be at the other end of the hall," she started, leaning on the wall, reaching for the first doorknob.
"I paid for the cripple so get out of my way!" the same voice growled down the stairs and she jumped, sliding forwards.
Hiruko caught her by her shoulders and before either realized it had her scooped up in his arms. "There's only one way to do this," he answered the look in her eyes, trying to ignore the pain he was inflicting by holding her; "We have to leave before he has a chance."
And he ran.
"I'm sorry your night out got ruined kids," Usagi said as soon as Hiruko reappeared, Tsukiyo opened her eyes. She smiled softly at Hiruko's concerned gaze towards Tsukiyo as she sat up. "How about the same time next week?"
They all jumped and turned to her. "Usagi…" Tsukiyo started.
And she smiled back, "We should be caught up by then, and even if we aren't, you deserve it Sweetheart."
Tsukiyo's gaze fell to her hands in her lap. Hiruko smiled at her nervousness, placing his hands over hers as he sat, "If you'd like to," he asked softly. Leaning closer, he pressed his forehead to hers and whispered; "Now we're even Tsuki."
Looking into his eyes she smiled softly, "Okay."
Feeling the magic gathering again, pressed so close and watching her blur before his eyes, Hiruko leaned in quick, kissing her just before they faded away.
Shingetsu - new moon, crescent moon.
Chapter 5: Ribbon
AN: I'm using a little continuity/translation mix-up that was in Vol.6 the 33rd Night. And a reference to the ending of Vol. 9.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hifumi and Mizuki jumped nervously as the customer walked in, the slight squeak giving her away. Slipping off her black raincoat, she stood by the first table in almost the same outfit she wore that first night. There was a long-sleeved gray shirt under her white vest, the same lilac skirt concealing her leg brace. She had those loose brown curls done up in a high ponytail. Turning to the far table, one hand flew to her mouth.
"Tsukiyo," Azusa nodded at her, "It's been a long time."
She took a deep breath and put her hand back at her side. "Not long enough Azusa."
The mortals jumped at Tsukiyo's words. "Wait a minute, you two know each other?" Hifumi exclaimed, gawking as she started towards the baku's table.
"How do you know his name?" Mizuki asked as she stood behind him, "I didn't know you."
She huffed as Hifumi helped her with her seat, "He's the one that forbid me from getting Chitose out of there." Azusa didn't even blink so she continued, "The real Hiruko called on us because of an infection. Azusa called because those little assholes forced mothballs down his throat." she stopped when Mizuki covered her gasp with her hands.
"But why would they do that? I thought they loved hurting him, why risk killing him?" Hifumi asked, remembering Kashina's dream vividly.
"Just another form of torture," Azusa answered, finally reacting, his gaze falling to the table. "They told him if he threw up on them they'd start cutting things off."
Tsukiyo nodded as they both went white. "It's what pushed that little bitch over the edge, why she loved patching him up as much as those bastards did tearing him apart," she sighed softly, "I'd thought telling Hikari where he was would help, maybe she could get him out."
"Hikari?" Hifumi stepped away from the counter, "You mean his sister?" Tsukiyo nodded.
"She'd been in the city for years," Azusa cut in, "hopping from job to job trying to find him." he smirked, "And we know how that turned out."
Hifumi turned away at Mizuki's confused look, "Kashina killed her so she wouldn't have to take Chitose's place."
A loud crack of thunder made everyone jump.
Tsukiyo shook her head before getting up and started walking towards the front of the store. "Has Shima been by?"
"We agreed to meet here," she started, getting cut off by the 'DING'. They jumped at the young man falling on his butt with a squish and an "oomph." A bento big enough to serve eight was stuck halfway in the door. He slid a few extra inches thanks to his wet coat, his tweed cabby hat flying a few more behind him. The teahouse staff all gasped at the dirty blond hair as Tsukiyo finished, "When Kairi calls you bring everything."
Walking over to pick up his hat as he got his feet under him, Tsukiyo and he stopped at the sight of the blond boy standing outside in the rain. "I never thought I'd find you guys inside!" Shima exclaimed, almost dropping his traditional umbrella.
A nervous chuckle brought everyone's attention to the teenager. As he slowly stood up, turning around they gasped: two "Hiruko" and one "Chitose".
He just smiled as he turned to Tsukiyo, taking back his hat. "I'm not the baku," he spoke softly, her smile encouraging him, "And I don't use that name anymore." he turned to Azusa, "The name you gave is full of pain and bad memories."
Mizuki took a tentative step closer, "If it's not Chitose, then what is your name?"
The wet soles of his black boots squeaked as he went back to the door, helping Shima with the package. "You can call me Seiya."
Azusa laughed, "apt names for the assistants of Usagi no Tsuki."
"But how is it possible?" Hifumi questioned as their guests all stood at the counter, "I mean Chitose's been dead for two and a half years…"
Tsukiyo pursed her lips, "I don't know what happened…"
She smiled softly as she kept stroking the head of brown curls in her lap. "You knew what he was from the start Sweetheart," she said when the sobs slowed down to sniffles.
"I-I know but…" was mumbled into her leg.
She nodded even though she didn't move. "But it's nice to find an old friend again. I know Tsuki, I know."
A kind, regal voice carried into the room, "I had to call in a few favors, but…" they both turned to the doorway, the elegant woman standing there in full formal kimono, her hair intricately pinned. The royal air fell away at Tsukiyo's tearstained face, quickly replaced with a mischievous smile as she walked into the room. And he stepped in the doorway.
He stood there with the collar of his long-sleeve black shirt open. His cabby hat, vest and short pants were all in the same black and gray tweed with black laced-up boots that stopped just below his knees.
The same shaggy dirty blond hair and bright blue eyes.
"Tsukiyo…" he said with a touch of surprise.
She froze to the spot, eyes wide in shock. Usagi quirked an eye and asked, "Why did you do this Chang'e?"
Chang'e smiled softly as he stepped up, helped Tsukiyo to her feet. "We both know what it's like being alone up here," she blushed as Usagi reached for her, taking her hand and pulling her closer, "Besides, we could use the help."
Tsukiyo giggled at them as he jumped in surprise. Turning back to him, she smiled, "So is it Chitose again?"
He smiled back, taking both hands in his, "No, Seiya," she gasped, "I remember now Tsuki."
Both women laughed as she threw her arms around his neck. "Moonlight and Starlight," Usagi started.
Chang'e finished, "Fitting, isn't it?"
The mortals jumped as he turned to the portrait sitting there. "I don't remember and Chang'e won't tell us the details, just that this is a real living body."
"Not part of some spell," Tsukiyo glared at Azusa before turning to smile at Shima, "It's just not the one he was born in."
"And I don't remember much of being the baku," he turned to Mizuki as she gasped.
"Because he does," Tsukiyo turned back to Azusa, "Technically they are his."
Hifumi jumped, "Really?"
Azusa put his chin in his hand and smirked. "You broke the case with an ugly hand-shaped vase."
Hifumi gulped, nervous of the look in the baku's eyes before turning back to the others. "But one little visit wouldn't explain how well you got along, how you could find his sister."
"You didn't say a word to each other the first time you were here and yet you were picking on Hifumi like you'd planned it," Mizuki added.
Tsukiyo stopped talking with Shima and turned back to them, "It wasn't 'one little visit'. The mothballs made him violently sick; I had to stay through the day. He didn't believe it was me until the fever broke." she sighed before turning to Seiya, "I snuck back a few more times when I was sure they weren't going to hurt him that night."
"My memories were fuzzy," he took her hand, "but Tsuki understood why, how I got there. And since she couldn't take me with her, I asked her to find Hikari. She could come during the day and get me."
Tsukiyo squeezed his hand as he turned away from everyone, "And you already know how that turned out."
"So, does that mean…" Mizuki wondered.
"Yes," Azusa answered, "They knew each other before the storehouse, before the brothel."
They nodded. "He was timid and quiet so he got left out like I did. Hikari would help us with the bullies when we were little, but then she was sent to work in the city."
He continued. "Tsukiyo was sold and taken away in the middle of the night. No one knew why or where, so I wrote a letter to Hikari and ran away to find her."
"And that pretty much catches us up," Tsukiyo turned from the Silver Star's staff to the Delirium's, "Now if you'll excuse us, we've got to get going or Kairi's bound to do something stupid."
Mizuki stepped up, ringing her hands. "Will you come visit again?"
Hifumi and even Azusa looked at her in surprise. Tsukiyo just turned to Seiya. His gaze fell to the floor. "We can't ignore a call for help," biting his lip he turned to her, "We'll see."
He tried to smile as she nodded with tears in her eyes.
The sound of a chair scraping across the floor made everyone turn to the baku. Sticking both hands in his pockets and leaving Formalin hanging off the table, he kept his eyes down as he crossed the room, stopping in front of Tsukiyo. Even she jumped at his sigh. He slowly raised his head, looking her in the eye with a weak smile. "I should have known I didn't stand a chance." Blue eyes glared at him as he stepped closer. The smile weakened a little more as he turned to him and back, "If he felt this much from bits of memories, there's nothing I can do." he turned to his left as he pulled a thin blue ribbon from his coat pocket. Leaving his head turned, he held it out to her.
Everyone just stared as the long strip of fabric barely fluttered. Azusa flinched slightly at the squeaky hinge, but he jumped as she pulled his sleeve up, pushed the arm warmer back. "Tsukiyo…?"
Not looking up, she smiled softly as she took the ribbon. "With lives like ours," she wrapped it twice around his wrist, "no matter how much they hurt later," she tied it off and looked him in the eye, "any happy memory is a good memory."
He blinked at her a few times before looking back at his wrist and nodded. They both turned to Seiya and he nodded too. "We need to go," he said simply.
"Okay!" Shima cheered, easily slinging the pack on his back, somehow still holding onto his umbrella. Tsukiyo smiled at Seiya as he helped her with her coat, holding the door for both her and Shima.
They got to the end of the block when she took his hand, "Are you sure about this?"
He squeezed it and smiled softly, "Not really…" Tsukiyo nodded as she looked into his eyes.
"I'm not loosing you again."
As for Chang'e, she's the Chinese equivalent to the Man on the Moon, or the Moon Princess - there's even a crater named after her. If you wanna know more on her story, look her up on wiki. I made her a lot nicer than half the myths do.