AN- Ooh! I can predict what you guys are gonna think! You guys will like and dislike this chapter!  In this chapter, Cloud tells Hitomi who his father is, why he couldn't enter the caves of Helena, and how he really feels about her.  Hitomi also reveals a sad memory from her past that contributed to her depression and also tells Cloud how she feels…well, enjoy!

Absolute Destiny Apocalypse

Chapter 20

"I love you"

Hitomi and Cloud knelt before the Empress of Tesrof, as she stared downward at them.

"I see you have returned with the woods stone," she said in her wise voice, "Well done."

Hitomi gazed up at her with her clear blue eyes and finally asked, "Your majesty, if I might ask a question," she started.

"What is it you would like to know?" the empress asked curiously, "I will answer any question of the heavenly maiden's."

Hitomi smiled in showing that she was grateful.  She lowered her head to the floor.

"Thank you, your Majesty," she said politely and then looked back up into the eyes of the empress.

"While pursuing the woods stone in the caves of Mt. Helena, I was told a story of the three Goddesses.  A wise man also included something of a planet called Zordof.  I somehow feel a dark connection with it.  Could you give me more information on this planet?"

Hitomi bit her lip, hoping deeply that the empress had more information.  Something about the planet of Zordof gave her a slight twinge in the pit of her stomach, and she could not explain why.

If there had been any emotion in the face of the empress, she lost it all at that moment.  It took a few moments, but finally she spoke up.

"The elf planet of Zordof was the result of all of the worlds' hatred, sorrow, anger, and discrimination.  You see, when you become angry, you are creating a large amount of energy.  After a while, that energy wears out, you realize that you are not all that angry anymore, and you go back to normal.  The evil king Vordan found a way to use that energy and create a dark cloud of evil and power.  With that power he created a planet that contained so much evil that it drove any weak hearted inhabitants into a strange state of depression called 'The Silence'.  The Silence is like a disease that devours your soul until it kills you altogether.  Also, that evil possessed a man by the name of Lord Falkon.  Lord Falkon was once a general of the armies of the Phoenix Clan.  At that time, there was peace, however, and there were no wars.  But it was then that he lost a son forever and The Silence overtook his soul.  Now, for more than a decade, The Silence has slowly been killing him.  Now the only thing that matters to him is death, war, and the agony of those around him.  With that hatred, he created an army of demonic warriors who are better known as the Demon Clan.  The Demon Clan has declared war on all the wars, and with a growing army of demons, no one has stood a chance.  This is the power of the planet of Zordof.  But with my psychic abilities, I can see that you are right.  In the future, your destiny will lie in the hands of Zordof.  But that is not now.  Zordof has almost nothing to do with this task.  You are on the right path."

And with that, she said no more.

********Later that evening********

Hitomi were back in the "two-bed" room they had shared the last time they had slept at the Tesrofian palace.  Hitomi was laughing hysterically a reddening Cloud. 

While they had been eating dinner, the Empress asked Hitomi and Cloud to sit next to her.  Cloud became nervous and drank his soup WAY too fast. 

When a servant was rushing over to give him more soup, he stood up saying he wanted to go to the bathroom. 

He knocked into the servant, who tripped and fell, leaving the pot of soup to fly out of her hands and onto the Empress's head. 

Although she was drenched in soup and her gown was stained, the Empress found the commotion quite amusing and forgave Cloud, which was giving him a whole lot more justice than Hitomi was. 

She had been laughing at him ever since they had left the dining hall.

Cloud rolled his eyes.

"Oh, Hitomi, do shut up and go take a shower," he told her, plopping down on the bed. "It's still early and the empress said there was a hot spring for the servants and guests.  Just hurry up so I can go down."

Hitomi stuck out her tongue and grabbed a white gown and walked out the door. 

"Dumb ass!" she squealed and shot out the door. 

Cloud's mouth opened in awe.  "Did she just curse?  My gosh, you learn something new about Hitomi everyday!  Damn, she sits there and criticizes Mer…" 

He laid back on his bed and stared at the fancy ceiling. 

"Why do I feel so strange?" he said orally as though he thought the ceiling would give him a half decent answer.

******That night******

Beads of sweat drizzled down Hitomi's face.  She moaned and groaned as she twisted and turned in her bed.  She grabbed a fist full of her pillow and whispered, "No!" and "Stop" every few seconds.

Suddenly her eyes snapped open and she stared upward into the darkness.  Why?  Why was she having that dream again?  It had been so long since she locked it away?  Why did she have to remember now, when her life was finally coming together?

She slowly rose from the bed and walked over to the window and gazed out at the never ending forests.  Tears were building in her eyes as she tried to hold them back.  They pulled at her eyes longingly.

Cloud stirred and his eyes opened.  He saw Hitomi standing by the window and immediately became concerned.  He sat up in his bed.

"Hitomi, what's wrong?  Can't you sleep?" he asked, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

There was no reply. 

Cloud stood up and walked slowly toward the window. 

"Hitomi," he repeated, "What's wrong?"

Hitomi did not respond, but Cloud could see that she was shaking and whimpering softly.  He took her by the shoulders and spun her around to face him. 

Her face was stained with tears streaming down her cheeks.  She avoided any eye contact with him and watched the floor.

Cloud felt a surge of concern toward her. 

"Hitomi, you know you can tell me…what's wrong? Why are you crying?" he asked softly.

But Hitomi gave no reference to his existence and continued to whimper and shiver.

Finally, Cloud became annoyed, and in frustration, pushed her down into her bed. He pressed her down, holding her down by her shoulders.

"Damnit, Hitomi! What the hell is wrong?! I thought you were okay now.  Please tell me what the hell's wrong with you!!!!" he shouted into her face.

For the first time ever, Hitomi looked upward into Cloud's autumn eyes.  He appeared angry and concerned at the same time.  His eyebrows were burrowed, and even though his eyes were narrowed, they showed worry.

Suddenly Cloud's face faded away and was replaced by a new one.  Mesmerizing blue eyes, clean-shaven light brown hair, an evil grin.  The face faded away and was replaced by Cloud's.  These pictures flashed before her mind several times.

As Cloud stared into Hitomi's ocean blue eyes as they became large and fearful.  Her breathing became quick and uneasy, and she began to struggle.  She squealed.

"Please oni-chan, NO!!!!" she bellowed at the top of her lungs.  Tears began to fall from her eyes again.  "STOP!!!! ONI-CHAN!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!"  She struggled harder and shook her arms before her face in protest.

Cloud's eyes became wide and he stood sat up and released her in bewilderment.

"Hitomi…what're you-"

Suddenly Hitomi stopped her fit.  She sat up in her bed and glanced at Cloud.  He seemed to be too shocked for words.  She wiped the tears from her eyes and looked away.

"I-I'm sorry…"

"Hitomi…who was this…'oni-chan'?"

Hitomi gasped. She shook her head in protest.  "NO! He was never my brother! NEVER! My brother would never have done such a thing! He was NOT MY BROTHER!!!!" she cried and sobbed into her hands.

Cloud hurried over to her.  He knelt before her and took her hands in his.  He stared at her with a soft expression. 

"Hitomi…I'll protect you…I promise…"

Hitomi stopped crying at once.

"What?"

"I would willingly protect you from everything…as your friend and as your guardian…but you must tell me what is wrong…"

There was an awkward silence that seemed to last for an eternity until finally Hitomi began her story.

"After my mom and dad disappeared…I was put into an orphanage for about a few years, but then a family came along and adopted me when I was about twelve.  They seemed nice enough.  The mother was a nurse at a local hospital, and the father was a lawyer.  They had one fifteen-year-old son who played basketball.  Anyway, to make a long story short…the son would give…signs…odd compliments that made me feel…I dunno…uncomfortable…but I was too frightened to speak up about it.  Then one day, the mother was on call, and the father was working late on a case…He came into my room.  I was just drawing.  He told me, "You've been with us for only a year and you've become beautiful, Hitomi." Naturally, I was flattered, so I thanked him.  But he kept going.  He asked me, "Hitomi, will you take your cloths off for me?"  He told me he wanted to see if I had grown any physically.  I told him no and that he was making me feel uncomfortable, but he insisted that it was normal because he was my brother.  He became frustrated when I continued to resist, and pushed me into my bed.  He took my clothes off for me.  I was only thirteen and he was a muscular sixteen-year-old…so I stood no chance…The next thing I knew…he…well…he…"

Cloud nodded gently to show that he understood.

She continued.

"When the mother and father discovered what had happened, they immediately assumed that I had seduced him into doing it.  So they sent me back to the orphanage…and I was given to a foster family…which were the Miishi's.  They could never figure out what had happened…although they asked countless times…"

There was another long silence.  Cloud was speechless.  Hitomi had kept such a dark secret for the past two years inside herself until it came back to haunt her.  

He wished there were some way he could help her…some way to relieve the pain of the haunting memory.  He leaned forward and embraced her.

"I will always protect you…no matter when or how far you may be…"

Hitomi smiled slightly and held her arms around his mid back. 

Remaining in this position, Cloud began his own story.

"Hitomi…do you remember at the mouth of the cave in Mt. Helena….how I could not enter…?"

"Yes…"

"I think it's time I told you why…"

"Okay…"

"My mother was originally from Earth…when she was twenty-four, like you, she found a portal that took her to this world. When she arrived here, she, like you, was kidnapped by the Mystian rebel bandits led by Reidon.  She wasn't as fortunate as you.  Reidon used her until she became pregnant and gave birth to a boy that she named…Skye…A couple years afterward she escaped to Phoenix Village…then she gave birth to me…we lived for six years happily….Hitomi…Reidon is my father…," he explained.

"Cloud…."

"When I was six years old, Reidon found us.  He demanded that she give us back to him…both me and Skye…Although my mother did as much as she could to stop him…in the end he took us…I spent the next six years training with my father to become a great bandit.  I hoped that if I did everything I was told…I would soon be allowed to go back to my mother.  But…the cost was too great…The story I told of how Mer's parents were murdered was a lie…the bandits hated half-breeds…and my father promised me that if I killed one family and their child…he would set me free to go to my mother……so I did…Mer was too small to remember…I found her whimpering in the corner beneath a table…I saw how tiny she was…and my heart just stopped.  I did my best to hide her within my robes.  Reidon saw that I had completely slaughtered the family and allowed me to go free…I haven't seen my brother ever since…and I've carried the guilt of the murder I committed for four years…"

In her arms, Hitomi could feel Cloud shaking.  She broke there embrace and gazed into his face.  Tears were building in his eyes, but he refused to let them go.

Hitomi shook her head.  "It's alright Cloud…"

A tear rolled down his cheek and then another and another and another followed by a series of others.  He wiped his tears from his eyes and stared at her.

"I guess that's it…Hitomi…that's what kept me from contentment all these years…no more secrets…right?"

Hitomi began to flush at the cheeks. 

"Actually…there's one more…," she whispered.

Cloud cocked his head at an angle.

"What is it?" he asked.

Hitomi hesitated for a moment, but then looked straight into his eyes.

"Cloud, when I arrived in Mystia, I wanted nothing more than to end my own life.  I saw no reason for living.  But when I met you, you gave me a reason to live…because of you…I could withstand waking up to another day…somehow…you showed me how to live…I would never have learned that had I not been with you, Cloud…and well, I think that I…I think I'm in love with you," she stuttered but said strongly.

A shade of magenta took Cloud's entire face by the end of Hitomi's speech.  He refused to return her gaze and he stood up and walked to the opposite side of the room.  When he turned around, he had a look of deep regret on his face.

"Hitomi…I…I'm very flattered…um…I-uh…"

Hitomi looked away in disappointment.

"But?" she asked.

"I'm sorry Hitomi, but…as your bodyguard…it would not be right…"

"Cloud…I know as well as you do that that is not the reason you won't be with me…just tell me the truth."

Cloud took a moment and then sighed.

"The truth is…you act and resemble Leirah such a great deal that for a long period of time…I suppose I started believing that you are Leirah…but when you found me at the bottom of Mt. Helena…that's when I realized…I don't love you back….I'm sorry, Hitomi…" he whispered.

There was a long period of silence.  Neither had the guts to look the other in the eye.

Suddenly the door swung open and a male servant stood at the door, his eyes bloodshot and gasping for breath.

"…It's the Demon Clan! The entire army! The battle of the War of the Worlds has begun! The castle has been attacked!  And they won't stop until they get her!" he cried, pointing straight at Hitomi.

Hitomi remained emotionless.  Finally she stood up and nodded her head.  "This war started because of me…and I will fight along side you to end it…" she responded.

Cloud stared at her in bewilderment.

"Hitomi! You can't!"

She reached for her sword and held it behind her back and sliced her hair off right below her ears.

She ignored his commands, but merely looked straight into his eyes and said, "I'm going to need some of your clothes."

-End of Chapter 20

AN- GOMEN NASAI! GOMEN NASAI! GOMEN NASAI! GOMEN NASAI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so sorry that I was on writer's block for so long, but I think I'm finally back…I'll post Like Rain in a couple of days…so you won't have to wait long for that…so if you want…you can flame me to the depths of hell…see if I care…Cloud doesn't love Hitomi and that's that! Anyway, read the poems I posted on my other pen name "Glitz Faery"…it's called "Always"- Eternal Aeris