Time has separated them. They grew older. Different high schools, different years, different friends…of the three girls—Seiga, Madison, and Desiree—the youngest two felt it the most. Before, it didn't matter that Madison and Desiree were sisters and Seiga had met them when they were twelve. Madison became oblivious, enjoying the days with her boyfriend, working hard to get what she wanted. Madison and Seiga held on. Madison for her sister, who would always be there no matter how separated they were, and Seiga for her best friend, fearing the day that the three of them would never be together again. Seiga couldn't discuss separation from the sisters to the sisters. She just couldn't. She couldn't put the feelings into words that they would understand. Seiga was scared. She was scared that though they would listen to her, it would be with little or no understanding.
"That's the way life is…" one would say.
"Well, that's life…" the other would follow. Even if she spoke with the two of them at separate times, Seiga was absolutely sure that line would come up. She knew the two of them so well that she could imagine them saying it. One would sigh, looking at her like it was useless to fight time, and the other would be doing her homework and looking at Seiga. Maybe eventually Desiree would have her fingers grazing Seiga's back, or maybe running fingers through her hair. And the only comeback she could come up with to say to the sisters was: "I know it is, but…"
Becoming attached to people to the point of loving them is painful. It's painful when they go away, but Seiga hid that hurt behind her jokes and her smiles…
"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break" –an ancient Chinese belief*
Yue* liked the visage of the old man the most. Whether people kindly allowed him to take a seat on the bus, or if they ignored him and left him struggling to remain vertical upon the insanely wobbly vehicle, Yue liked seeing which mortals were which. It was fun to play the part of a senile old man with the mortals, who suspected nothing. The suspicions of gods roaming the world became objects of fantasies in this day and age. Nobody deemed them real anymore. Yue didn't mind so much; sometimes he'd mention words of wisdom, and words of utter nonsense. He did it for reaction purposes, mainly because he got bored. Those that got angry had something to hide. Those that were thoughtful sometimes ran without a thank you, or they stopped in midstride. Yue liked those the most. The ones who ran off with all their might to meet with the person of their desires were also the ones that didn't allow the loss of something important to pass. Yue ignored the ones who cried. They knew nothing; they did nothing. They were just pitiable people who did nothing for themselves…always waiting for something to happen to them instead of being the initiator.
But that wasn't the case this time. The Matchmaker God made sure the red string tied to their ankles* never broke. Well, technically, they weren't supposed to be severed. Period. Which is why it was so strange. He brought people together, that was his job, and it didn't matter if he was in the east or the west.
The threads that he and the other gods had so carefully tied to destined lovers—threads notorious for never breaking—were being cut…
For Seiga, things began with good-byes. Like now, as Tristan was away, she packed her bags to leave. Madison was in town visiting her mother for two weeks. Maybe she'd bum a living off them until she found a new affordable apartment.
Madison's family had always let her in. Always. And no matter how long Seiga had almost lived in that house, she couldn't bring herself to actually live there. The reasoning was simple really. People often change their minds about people when they move in together. Seiga feared rejection from these people the most. No matter what happened, she didn't want Madison, Desiree or their mother to dislike her.
The three of them hadn't talked in a while. Their lives were caught up in whatever it is that took their attention away from each other, and from themselves. For Seiga, it was Tristan's chokehold on her life. She shuddered. The thought of Tristan finding out she wasn't coming back made her body cold and numb. For Desiree it was her archaeology stuff that kept her far away from anybody. And Seiga had to admit that though she was happy for Desiree and her ability to make friends easily, Seiga was jealous of them. For Madison it was her husband, it was her job together with her husband, their outside perfection as a married couple that kept Seiga and Madison apart. It seemed as though the two of them lived on the other side of the planet, much less the same side of the city.
Both mother and daughter looked at her in horror. Mother gasped, hid her open mouth behind her hand that went up instinctively. Tears formed in her eyes. The old woman had always been empathic. It added to her compassion. Sometimes it hurt her; other times it was her way of saying that she was strong and will get stronger. Madison, on the other hand, managed out, "Oh my God." It was a quiet cry to God, but everyone heard it. "Oh my God…" it was certainly the way she thought she felt. That simple cry…how long had Seiga been calling out to him?
"Don't ask," Seiga said weakly before anybody could speak. She leaned her head against the window of the car, fighting back tears. Emotions swirled inside her, made tears pool in her eyes. She didn't blink because she didn't want to cry. She knew she was going to though. She had never been good at hiding her emotions. Not these emotions anyway. She could hide her fear away with her stubbornness, but once she tried to stop herself from crying, it made her tears spill longer. Tonight though, tonight was different. Tonight was solemn, quiet. Nobody could form words that could comfort her. And maybe Madison knew this because her hand grasped Seiga's and squeezed. Seiga's eyes shifted first to the hand that was now in hers, and then to Madison who looked her squarely in the eyes. It was too dark to see the spiky ring of yellow around her irises, but it wasn't too dark to see the way the way Madison's golden locks shone like a halo under the light of the street lamps or the freckles that graced her face or the way Madison's summer blue eyes told her that everything would be OK. The tears spilled. Seiga squeezed back and looked outside the window. Mother had her moment of tears. They would come again, too, but now she had to drive. Mamma kitty had to take her adopted puppy home. That was that. Mother would hold the tears at bay until then.
The two let her be for a while. They didn't talk about Tristan. They told Desiree, who had cried on the other end of the phone. It had been hard for Seiga to talk to the youngest sister, mainly because the topic of their conversation was so powerfully raw that the tears spilled again before Madison handed the phone to her.
"I'm OK," Seiga told her as soon as she got the phone. It hurt to talk. Everything on her face was either swollen or bruised, but she did it anyway. The emotions that she felt that night when she got into the car came back again. But she had to tell Desiree with her own voice. "Well, I'm not OK, but I will be. I'm getting there."
Sniffles on the other end.
"I'm staying with your mom for a while. Tristan's off on a business trip. He won't be back until after the weekend. And I'm filing a restraining order on him tomorrow."
"Good girl." Desiree said.
"Will you do me a favor, though?"
"What is it?"
"If you see Tristan, don't tell him where I'm at."
"Yes, I know. It's kinda a given, Seiga"
"Don't be hun."
"Just do me a favor in return."
"Try to go back to the way you were before you met Tristan."
"You mean the one with the attitude and the one that doesn't usually care much about anything?"
"That's the one!"
"I'll work on it."
It took about two weeks to heal her wounds outwardly. Madison and Mother pretended not to notice the way Seiga looked scared when someone was at the door, waiting for someone that wasn't coming, but could. They pretended not to notice when Madison or Mother tried to touch her, when Seiga's body tensed as they hugged her. She didn't stop them. She had once been the person that initiated the close contact. They pretended not to hear when she started crying late at night be it in her sleep or wide awake. Dark bags grew under her eyes because sleeping led her back to the hell she had escaped.
Even though they said they'd wait, the question "What happened?" was left hanging unanswered. One could argue that what happened was pretty obvious, but it was a given that they wanted a more detailed version of "He beat me, so I left him."
The truth was he was destroying her. One by one he took things from her. He smashed important gifts, burned her favorite pictures. Everything that made her happy was rapidly disappearing until her dogs were all that were left. She could take it as long as something could listen to her cries. But even the dogs had to go. From the hikes that cleared her mind, to the friends that had been there since they were children, she was conscious of them going away. Though he took away her hiking time, when Tristan threatened to take away all her time outside, it was the last straw. Being outside was what made her happiest. It was her time to think, to daydream, to not care about anything except what was in her heart. The last thing to go was her pride, which thankfully, wasn't something that could be easily broken.
When the hitting started, she had just moved in with him. At first he missed her face, so she could hide the evidence. When she hit him back, the face was no exception. Embarrassed, Seiga hid away. She loved him and somehow that was enough for her to stay.
But that life is gone now…
It was at the mall when Seiga met Yue for the first time since high school. Yue who had been so popular back then. Yue who was the object of every girl's fantasy. If fan clubs could be formed in high school, Yue would have one, and it would be the most famous. He was short for a guy, probably because he was Asian. His body was toned, his hair black and long and styled. He wasn't afraid to perm his hair, or let the bangs fall in front of his eyes. He wasn't afraid of being girly; he acted and looked the way he wanted to. And Seiga admired long hair on guys; she thought it made them look sexy.
"Ow! Couldn't ram that tray in my gut any harder?"
"Oh, my God, I am so sorry,"
Seiga didn't look him in the eyes, she didn't want to. Her food and drink were safe, and luckily so were his clothes. She really didn't want to have to pay cleaning fees for his vintage jeans and white button up. She really didn't want to do that. It would mean seeing him again.
"Normally, when people don't look someone in the eye as they're apologizing, it means that they don't mean it."
"S-s-sorry." Seiga bit her lip, her body tense, but she managed to look at him in the face.
That was unexpected.
"Yeah?" Yue snorted and made a funny face. A weird funny face, but funny nonetheless. "Shouldn't you be saying things like, oh I don't know, 'Watch where you're going punk!' or 'you were the one that bumped into me, asshole!'"
She didn't think he'd remember that. "You remember?"
He laughed, "Of course," he said, and began to guide her to a table where they could sit. Seiga flinched and moved away from his touch. Goosebumps crept across her skin. If he noticed, he didn't bother saying anything. "You were the only person that didn't treat me like a god in school."
"Look, even gods would want people to treat them normally."
"Ah huh, which ones?"
Yue's smirk was predatory. "The ones in stories." It was a simple, vague answer. She didn't buy it.
"I think you're mistaking normally with kindly…or loyally."
"Well whatever," he said attempting to take a couple of her fries. She resisted the urge to smack his had away and scold him for not asking. When she did it with Tristan, he slapped her. She never did it again. Yue gave her another weird look, "At least you don't look like a ghost was going to spank you now."
"Excuse me?" Seiga didn't know if she wanted to laugh or spit on him. She held back, but her eyes burned and her teeth ground against each other.
"You don't need to get all uptight over nothing, Seiga. It was a simple observation. The Seiga back then would have laughed and hit me."
"I don't hit people."
"You did when they deserved it. What happened?"
"Stuff," she replied stiffly. Her hands broke into a cold sweat. Yue…immensely popular Yue had always been able to see right through her. As comfortable as she had felt being around him, he was a man, and he made her nervous at times. Suddenly she didn't want to be here. Suddenly it was too much to be here. "I don't hit people anymore. Sometimes they fight back. I'm gonna go now. You can have my fries."
And she did attempt to leave. She attempted to walk right out of the lunch area inside the mall and find a nice clothing store that she could look through to her heart's content. But she managed to take all of five steps before his hand was on her wrist, pulling her back.
"I'm not going to hurt you, chill." As if that mattered, he was freaking her out. She didn't hit him, but damn she wanted to.
"Come with me first…I have something…I want to show you."
"Yue! I said let go of me!"
"Fine!" And he did. She stumbled a little at first, but managed to regain her balance. She didn't look back as she left. Yue's face was solemn as he watched her go. "Idiot. It would have been easier on you if you saw them with me."
Seiga was half asleep on a Saturday night when she heard something she thought was giggling. She groaned, not wanting to deal with it. She couldn't remember if Madison had already left or if she was sleeping on her usual spot on the couch. If it was Madison, Seiga would make sure to punch her. If it wasn't…well, she decided that she didn't care. She turned over, and covered her head with her blankets. Tonight had been one of the only nights that she didn't have nightmares of Tristan. Even his smiling face made her want to scream and cry.
Tonight had been the first night that a dreamless sleep consumed her, and she had let it. She didn't mention Yue to Madison and Mother. She didn't bruise the next day from his grip on her as she tried to get away. She had managed to make it to a dressing room before she calmed herself down. Dry sobs filled the room. It wasn't exactly private, so she covered her mouth and breathed until she calmed down.
Her eyes snapped open when she felt something brush against her. Lime green eyes blinked at her stupidly for a moment before shining white teeth smiled at her, blinding her. Seiga gasped, shoving the blanket that kept her warm off her.
What the hell?
Cool air caused her to hug herself, and she did scream when something fuzzy brushed against her leg. The giggling started again. It sounded like a little boy's.
"She has nasty smell to her," a cold voice hissed. Seiga looked around. Things blinked at her. Things that had yellow eyes, and green eyes, and blue and red…
"Snip her string and go. She is nasty, nasty smelly. She no taste good. Icky human. Unhappy human."
"Is not on ankle. Is on pinky…would have been tasty…spoilt thing…snip teh string and go."
Knocking on the door. Rather, it was banging. The eyes, glowing, moving closer to her three smiled, like before. Seiga could see dark silhouettes move forward towards her. She didn't know what they were, but she suddenly wanted to pee.
"Seiga!" She turned her head to the sudden pounding at the door. One jumped up at her with a feral hiss. With her arms she formed a barrier that stopped the thing from biting her face. It bit her arm instead. Pain engulfed her. She screamed again, stepping back and falling over as another one attempted a jump. That one missed. She rolled over, stood up, used the hand that was still free and punched it in the mouth. It squealed, but didn't let go. The pounding on the door was giving her a headache. Lights went on. For the second time that night, Seiga was blinded. She rushed to the door, not noticing the shadows dissipating.
"Hold on, I'm coming."
When she opened the door, it was Yue that she saw. He looked pale and sweaty, and his breathing was ragged, like he'd run a marathon to get to her. She breathed his name, surprised. The look in his eyes told her everything. He took both her hands in his, looking at her fingers. Then he searched her ankles. When his eyes met hers, he seemed relieved. She looked away. He looked at her arm which wasn't bleeding, but it was red, like it had just been burnt.
It was then that the world spun and grew dark…
Seiga was almost positive that was a dream, though the burning feeling in her arm told her otherwise. It had to be a dream. Shadows didn't pop out at people and bite them. It was the most motivating reason for her to go back to fearing the dark.
"I know you're up," Yue said, "so stop pretending you're asleep." Somebody groaned. Seiga was sure it wasn't her and the thought was confirmed when somebody turned over on the other side of the bed, stealing the blankets. Seiga opened her eyes, and sat up hugging herself.
"You," Yue said forcefully, pointing at her, "are supposed to be asleep. Go to bed."
"You," she mimicked, "were the one that told me to get up. And I am in bed. And I would like nothing more than to go back to sleep after you tell me why I'm not at home."
"Ryo, get up," Yue commanded ignoring her. Seiga heard a loud whooshing sound and somebody's yell of surprise when he, because the other voice most definitely belonged to a male, found himself on the floor with a thud.
The one named Ryo gave Yue a reproachful look. And it would have been good too, except his black hair, messy with bed head syndrome weakened the effect. Yue matched the look, glare for glare then clicked his tongue. He placed the blanket back on Seiga. "I don't even have school today. Let me know when you find the other half." Ryo stood and yawned, making his body fall back on the bed. He turned to his side, using his arm as a pillow.
"I did find the other half." And at this Ryo popped his head up. Not all, but most of the fatigue left him immediately.
"Really?" he asked, "Who?"
"You're sleeping next to her!"
"Other half of what," Seiga asked.
"My soul," Ryo said sarcastically.
Seiga blinked at the other man slowly, blankly. She gave the same look to Yue before turning back to the guy named 'Ryo'. "You have a lot of explaining to do," she said pointing to Yue, "You, by far, are the dumbest and lamest guy I've ever met, and I have no idea why I'm not sleeping at my friend's place when I was clearly there—" Seiga looked at her watch, "—six hours ago. Other half of my soul…" she scoffed, removing the blanket off her and got up to leave.
Yue blocked the exit from her. "You're right," he said, "I do have a lot of explaining. Sit down and we'll talk."
A/N: Just a few refrences i wanted to make for you wonderful readers out there
*The invisible red string a.k.a Red String of Fate is an ancient belief originally from China. It then spread throughout East Asia. The string is supposed to connect a person to his/her future husband/wife. Also it can only been seen by gods.
*FULL NAME: Yue Xia Lao. He's the old lunar matchmaker god who is in charge of marriages. Also in charge of the Red String of Fate. He appears as an old man in Chinese Fables. Pronounced YOU-eh. If anybody's ever watched Card Captor Sakura it's the same name Chinese for moon.........
*The Chinese believe that the red string's ends are tied to two people's ankles. The Japanese believe it's the pinky