Aya looked up at the sound of Omi's exasperated cry, fingers stilling on the flowers he was arranging. His gaze traveled over the repaired shop. It had been five days since they'd returned from Higo-sen, plenty of time for them to get the rest of the shop in order. They would finally be able to open again, and all four knew that their reopening would draw a large crowd of bishounen-deprived schoolgirls. They were all scheduled to work morning shift to help handle the crowd. As usual, Yohji was resisting the call to work.
Omi remembered nothing. His mind was a blank for the past two weeks, its emptiness stretching even before that morning where he had dragged them all out of bed to celebrate and feast to the very beginning of the religious holiday. Manx had asked the three to watch over him. Unlike Aya-chan, who had lost her chance at a ceremony, Omi and Nagi had both had their former lives touched upon. They could not be sure of whether or not it had changed them- or to what extent.
Manx had given them all a very simple order: remind Omi of nothing.
Ken had protested the command, of course. Aya had seen in his eyes the pain that the boy had felt when he saw Niko and Sainan reunited at long last- only to have to say their farewells again. Ken had been deeply moved at the love and pain that had bound the two reborn Mages together. He did not want Omi to lose something of that magnitude, to forget those moments when he had finally been returned to his love's side.
And yet, what good would it do to tell Omi of it? If he did not remember himself, words would do nothing for him.
They had explained Omi's loss of memory by saying he had caught a terrible fever, and Omi had accepted it quietly. Omi had once asked for Birman's whereabouts, and Yohji had told him the woman was reassigned to a different place. The man had cheerfully said that perhaps she would come back and visit them one day, words followed by a significant glance in Aya's direction. Ken had left the room silently.
Omi was his normal self once again, an easygoing and free at heart boy. It was almost as if the past weeks had never happened. Sometimes Aya wondered if they really had. A glance at the fading wounds on Ken's face and dwelling on the lingering aches in his own body were nothing more than the usual remainders after a mission.
It was the small things that reminded Aya that those surreal events had truly taken place: the way Omi would pause sometimes to gaze off into space with a wistful expression, as if trying to remember something he had lost; the way Omi would sit out on the roof long into the night to gaze at the stars with a sad smile on his face; the way Omi would sometimes falter and withdraw upon himself to sit in solitude and rack his mind for things that hung just out of reach of his grasping fingers.
"Do you believe in happy endings?" Manx's words echoed in the back of Aya's mind as he lowered his eyes to the arrangement again. He picked up a flower, scanning the rest of the blooms already set in place to find out which spot the last flower would be best in. He paused with his hand hovering above the vase.
"Yes," Ken had answered, almost pleading. The boy had desperately wanted reassurance that things would be all right in the end. Manx had gazed at him as the other two stood silently nearby, a searching look in her eyes.
Then, in a light voice, she had responded: "I don't." With that, she had turned away. "After all, happy endings are nothing more than when people choose to give up on the rest of life to cling to momentary contentment. They are for cowards who don't want to face any hardships ahead of them."
Aya slowly slid the flower into place.
"Yohji-kun~! Wake up!"
~Do you believe in happy endings?~ he asked himself, letting the words hang in his mind.
~No. I do not.~ He lifted the vase and carried it to the shelf. He set it down gently and gazed at it, letting his eyes trail over the colorful blossoms, letting himself breathe in the sweet fragrance that swirled around them. ~I do not believe in happy endings because nothing ever ends.~
A quiet knock sounded at the door. Aya paused, tilting his head in that direction. It was still too early for the first of the girls to be arriving, and none would knock on the side door- they always waited out front for the screen to be rolled up. Perhaps it was a delivery person. He brushed his hands together to free any lingering moisture from handling the plants as he crossed the room to the door. He opened it to reveal Nagi.
The young boy gazed up at him in silence, face devoid of any expression. Aya stared back, studying the boy's face. "Schwarz." The word was more an acknowledgement of the boy's presence than a greeting. Manx had let Weiß go, had signed the papers that would free them from the jobs that had bound them to Kritiker. She had done it in recognition for what they had gone through in the past several days, knowing that it had left its mark on their lives for all time. She knew more about the events than she cared to let on, and Aya suspected that she had known of Birman's true identity. She had, after all, brought Omi's designs from the shop to leave so innocently with Birman. Whether or not she had done that to make Birman admit who she was by pressing forward to secure her beloved Mages or just to share a warning that Weiß was entangled with the cults deeper than they believed themselves to be would forever remain unknown. They would never see her again, would never have the chance to ask.
"No longer," was Nagi's reply. He glanced to one side as if searching for words, a distant, wistful look in his eyes that reminded Aya too clearly of Omi. "Even if Schwarz still existed, they would have no use for someone who has lost his gift."
Nagi had lost his telekinesis. Aya gazed at the boy, letting silence fall between them for several moments. Finally he spoke again. "Why are you here?"
The boy gave a faint shrug, lips quirking upwards in a brief smile that trembled, before looking back at Aya. There was an emptiness to his eyes, a hollowness crying out for something that had been stolen from him. "I do not know."
The quiet following that remark was broken by yelled death threats- Yohji's voice- and both glanced back to see Omi come tearing down the stairs, laughing gaily. The boy came to a dead halt at the base of the stairs, hand grabbing the rail for balance, when his eyes fell on Nagi. "Oh," he breathed, lifting his free hand to cover his mouth as he stared, wide-eyed, at the younger boy.
~Do you believe in happy endings?~
It was as if the world ground to a halt, freezing time in this one moment as they stared at each other across the room, souls recognizing each other in a way they could not comprehend. They had lost their first chance thousands of years ago, and had lost their second chance five days ago to have each other as Sainan and Niko. Now, lost in this mortal world as new minds and bodies, they were being offered their last try to find forever in each other.
Aya stepped out of the way, opening the door more in a silent invitation for Nagi to enter.
~Maybe I do.~
Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime
And never let go till we're gone
Love was when I loved you
One true time I hold to
In my life we'll always go on
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on
You're here, there's nothing I fear,
And I know that my heart will go on
We'll stay forever this way
You are safe in my heart
And my heart will go on and on
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