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“So. How far is it?”

“It's really too bad I can't read minds, don't you think?” he says carelessly, not bothering to look her way. “Because if I could, then perhaps I would know what you're talking about.”

She chuckles, a bright tinkling sound that makes a frown appear between his brows. He looks at her then, since she so rarely makes that kind of pleasant expression around him before, and it still catches him off guard every single time she does it.

“Your other 'eyes',” she says. “How far can you really 'see'?”

A smile in her voice, and he *just* knows this isn't a casual conversation born out of boredom. He looks at her, and immediately becomes the subject of a brilliant smile usually reserved only for Sejuru.

(But Sejuru is no longer here, remember?
She killed him.)

He averts his eyes again. “Stop smiling—it's creepy.”

“And yet you told Lucia that a girl always looks so beautiful when she is smiling.”

He raises an eyebrow at her. “What are you, a stalker?” because the only ones who know about it are him and Lucia, and she's not exactly a talkative person.

“I was *there*. And like hell I would ever stalk such a perverted Priest like you!”

He can't help look at her at that, and doesn't even try to hide his snigger. “I was thinking more about you stalking *Lucia*, actually. You know, to prevent her from meeting Sejuru or something?”

He internally winces. Way smooth, Yuri, to mention Sejuru in front of June, when the wound hasn't even closed yet (when will it ever be, if ever...?).

June ignores his momentary lapse, to his surprise. “I'm curious.”

“Trust me, you don't want to know.”

She chuckles again. “You know I never say the things I don't mean.”

If I became the next queen, I might just fire you and ban you from the capital city.

But she doesn't. Fire him, that is. She is the Queen, now—something that none ever expects; something that he already saw the moment he learned that she was one of the queen candidates.

He lets out a small smile in irony, more to himself than at her. “What a bad habit, giving people false hope like that.”

Her smile doesn't falter. “I'm strong, you know. Stronger than I've ever been. Strong enough to wield the Spenta Minea for extended time without fainting anymore; strong enough to destroy those who live in the darkness and hide in the shadows; strong enough to kill even the closest person to me.”

He turns at her sharply; something in her tone, in the way she delivered that last sentence makes him wary and uneasy, making his skin crawl with something he doesn't dare to identify. She wants something from him; something that he wouldn't know how to give, something that he had never allowed himself to have.

How could you save somebody else when you couldn't even save yourself?

“Don't.” He says.

“Then stop defying me.”

“Is that an order?”

She doesn't snort—not exactly—but it's a close call. “As if you'd actually listen if it's really one.”

A crackle of energy all around them, barely being contained. He wonders if others feel it too, the way all this suppressed energy swirl and flirt shamelessly, whispering sweet nothings and enveloping them with a lover's embrace, seducing them to succumb to its power and let it roam free.

I'm strong enough now, she said.

As if he could ever miss that. That's kinda hard not to notice, since his other 'eyes' always getting out of control every time June is within vicinity—despite her not carrying Spenta Minea and his own enchanted earring that is supposed to repress his power.

How far can you see?

Not far. Only enough. Too far—too much. How is he supposed to answer that?

“What do you want to know?” he watches the chain of smoke originated from the cigarette dangling between his lips, fascinated over the way it appears and disappears over and over.

“See, I don't think you understand. I don't want you to 'see'; I just want you to tell me how far you can 'see'. It's the least you can do for me.”

He never thinks it matters. He knows people often wonder about that too, but so far none had ever come out and ask him directly like this. It takes him by surprise, and he couldn't honestly say he likes the feeling.

“What's in it for you?”

He always knows she cares—in her own twisted, cold ways—but he doesn't think she cares *that* much. (Sejuru, Sejuru. How could you be gone forever and leave June barely hanging like this?)

He wants to tell her how he's not Sejuru, how he doesn't need her to protect him, how he can never be like Sejuru—but she knows that more than anyone, he thinks, the fact that none could ever replace Sejuru, or the fact that nothing could ever cover the gaping hole in her very soul.

“Don't you understand? I'm strong, now—powerful enough to do the things I wasn't able to do back then.”

He looks at her. She doesn't look away.

“You're not serious.” His tone is disbelieving.

She steps closer, an unfaltering determination in every step she takes. Her hair is longer now, so much longer as the aftereffect of the overuse of the power of light has started to take its tool on her.

He wonders why he has just noticed it now.

“I never like to repeat myself, Yuri Schauer.”

There's a softness in her light tone that he's not used to hear from her, a tenderness in the way her fingers touch the enchanted earring in his left ear that he's not used to feel from her. He would be lying if he didn't say it confused the hell out of him.

“Really.”

“The only reason this,” she tugs lightly at his earring, “didn't work was because you've overpowered them even in such a tender age. If they couldn't even contain it properly, I imagine they wouldn't dream of destroying it.” Give me a chance, her eyes say.

“Such an arrogant little girl.” He chuckles.

She smiles at him. “The Queen does always get away with anything.”

“I truly pity the Court of the Palace of Light.”

“Don't worry.” She assures him. “I'll tell them to blame you since you were the one who made the final decision to shove the throne at me.”

She still has her hand on his left ear, the skin of her gloved fingers brushes against his face. He doesn't know why she doesn't immediately remove it. He doesn't know why he doesn't want her to remove it.

This world rejects me, she said not long after Sejuru's death.

Yuri thought it was only a foolishness on her part, the way she let sadness wash her over and make her so sentimental—so unlike her usual self. He never realized until later just how literally she meant her statement. He never tried to see past her armor before; never tried to see her for what she really was. He was too frightened to try.

When he looks at her with his 'eyes' open, he sees empty space and a dark place somewhere between the past and the future, yet never belonging to both; he sees a sea of blood and a sky of snowstorm and a lost little boy and nothing and everything he would want to see.

Without Sejuru, June is just a hollow entity with nothing to attach her to the world, and the world couldn't accept such existence.

It wants her to disappear from its future, and it will have what it wants.

“Don't bother.” He tells her. “It's not your duty to take on everybody's loads.”

He feels her fingers move from his ear, lightly cupping the side of his face. “The abandoned Yuri. The saddened Yuri. The helpless Yuri. When are you going to stop being so concerned about others?”

He covers her hand with his. “When are you going to stop punishing yourself for Sejuru's death?”

She laughs. “Just for that little similarity, we're going to be such a fit and fabulous couple should we decide to get together, don't you think?”

“Maybe, in another life.” He agrees.

Gently, she puts her other hand over the other side of his face. “I can still try to remove it, you know.”

He knows that. And he also knows she can really remove it. But. “No need to get yourself half-killed for such a thing. You'll need all that energy for later.”

There's no need to tell her how she would disappear from this world, from this timeframe in a matter of hours from now. There's no need to. Besides, she wouldn't want him to interfere with Fate—a cruel Goddess that she is.

A flicker of light in her eyes, a sliver of emotion he doesn't want to identify on her face. “You've always been so kind; I wish you could try to be more of an egoist, if only so that you'd know how life is so beautiful.”

He smiles. “Thank you for trying.”

Standing slightly over her tiptoes, she kisses his forehead with a tenderness he knows only meant for Sejuru. “I love you.”

“Likewise.”

She turns to leave, and he can only watch as she runs straight to her death, forbidden to follow her by the unspoken agreement between them.

All hail to the Queen.

Bowing low, he gives her his final salute.

Thank you. And goodbye.

 


Fin.