Chapter 28

The Wizard and the Wand

That was a terrible way to visit someone sick in the hospital. Especially if that someone was a person you considered to be important in your life.

Yukimino Sora rushed through the busy hallways of the hospital, not even minding that she was bumping into people and things rather recklessly. Tears began forming in her eyes, but she did not want to let it fall. Not when there were people around. There was a time for weeping, but it was definitely not now.

Sora was so engrossed in her thoughts that she bumped straight into the back of another person. The impact put her on the floor, where her tears finally flowed and a few drops smeared her uniform's skirt.


Sora looked up to see Azimura Shiori's worried face.

"Ta-dah! I'm heeeeere!" shouted Megane Sayuri as she opened the door with a resounding slam. She expected a lot of things that might be currently happening inside Hikaru's room, especially if Sora was with him. But she never did expect to see an empty room, with no Sora or Hikaru in sight.

"Eh? Where's everyone?" asked a Sayuri in a very puzzled and confused face.

"Ah, so that's what happened," said Shiori as she sipped the canned coffee she was holding. She bought two from the vending machine in the hospital's cafeteria, but the other one was left unopened by the girl sitting in front of her.

Sora sniffed, but tears no longer formed in her eyes. She wanted badly to go home, but somehow Shiori had convinced her stay and talk with her. Shiori had always been sort of a dominant authoritative figure for Sora – someone she was used to staying away from. But here she was, letting it all out – the kiss, the confusing emotions, the argument with Hikaru – in front of a person she would have never dared to speak casually to.

But Shiori looked understanding as she listened to Sora's every word. She never interrupted her nor gave any side-comments, like what Hanako, Kasumi and especially Sayuri would usually do. And when she was done, Shiori was even kind enough to give her moment, buy her a drink and waited for her to compose herself before the blue-haired girl finally spoke.

"I don't particularly think fondly of Hikaru," said Shiori, looking intimidating for a while. "But I knew he would never kiss a girl without a particular reason."

Despite herself, Sora actually blushed. "You would keep that a secret, right?"

Shiori smiled. "I feel honored that you would trust me on this, I was very surprised."

"Me, too," said Sora, before she realized that that came out wrong. "I mean, I was just shocked that I could talk about it with you. Oh, it's not that you're very hard to approach to and-"

"It's alright," said Shiori with another smile. "I know very well how people perceive me to be. That's why I was surprised, you see."

Sora nodded, but felt like she should say something still. "But Senpai, I do trust you." To this, Shiori looked quite shocked, so she continued. "I was quite rude to you during the meeting we had, when you invited me to your party. I should have believed it when you say it would help me in my capacity as a Wand."

Shiori smiled, but there was a certain kind of regret in her expression. "If I knew what would happen, I would have never invited you to come."


"In truth, I have lied to everyone," said Shiori with a heavy sigh. "And I don't blame you if you'll hate me for it."

Seeing Shiori like this, it was too difficult for Sora to actually hate the other girl. "I don't really hate you," she told her. "I knew that the Catalyst was a big thing and that's why everyone was getting angry about it. But I'm also sure that your family had a noble reason on why you hid it."

"'Noble' is stretching it too much," said Shiori with an expression Sora couldn't pinpoint what. But the refined girl immediately smiled and looked like she never said anything like that. "But I'm really glad you think that way, Yukimino-san."

"Sayuri thinks that you're a good person," Sora told her. "I don't think she would lie to me about that."

"Then believe me when I say that Hikaru is also a good person, despite the things that he'd do and say," said Shiori with a very serious expression.

Sora knew it as well, but it was so hard to think rationally when you're hurting deep inside. "I just don't know what to think about anymore. I just can't understand him…"

Shiori nodded, looking like she knew exactly how she felt. "No one knows how he thinks. And I can't say that I understand him as well." Shiori's gaze became much more serious as she spoke the next string of words. "But there are things that you should be careful about Agami Hikaru…"

Sora felt her breathing pause for a while, both looking forward and dreading what Shiori would say.

"Especially his father, Agami Hiro…"

Agami Hikaru was passing through the hallways of the hospital, searching for a girl with tell-tale raven black hair and emerald-colored eyes. Guests, patients and nurses were giving him wary glances, not only because he was wearing a hospital gown, but also due to his messy hair, flushed face, watery eyes and a red mark on his forehead, courtesy of his Wand and a well-aimed heavy fruit. Hikaru believed it was an apple - he didn't have time to check - but he guessed he deserved it. The look on Sora's face as she pried from his grip was heart-breaking - it took a few minutes of self-loathing before Hikaru decided on what he had to do.

Screw it, he thought. Hikaru was sick of himself, of blaming all the bad things to his father. For once in his life, there was someone who actually cared for him and he was letting her slip through his fingers. Like an idiot, he directed all his anger, his frustrations and his disappointments at her, trying to keep her away from the destruction and mess that he was. She was always an easy presence in his life; by her side, he can be real, he can be free. He can show her all the convoluted parts that make up the monster that was Agami Hikaru and instead of running away, she would stay and insist to share his pain.

He's screwed. He knew he was. It was impossible for him to feel for a girl like this. And she deserved nothing less but the knowledge of how she meant to him. And anything that came with it.

So Hikaru hurried his pace, keeping watch of any teenage girl with black hair. He had already mistakenly pulled two people, but he didn't care if he was being rude. Thoughts of Sora flooded his mind and nothing else mattered.

As he turned on a corner, he bumped into a red-haired guy wrapped in bandages. Great, he just had to meet the one guy he didn't want to meet.

"Agami?" Mashiro Ryuu's face was etched in surprise, which quickly changed to an amused look. "Where are you hurrying to?"

"None of your business, Mashiro," growled Hikaru as he stepped out of his gaze.

"Looking for Sora-chan?" Hikaru paused, imagining the smirk plastered on the other guy. He didn't gave the annoying redhead the pleasure of turning back and facing him, but his voice was full of infuriating confidence that Hikaru visibly bristled. "She could do better than you, you know."

"You don't I think I knew that?" Hikaru snarled, but did not move.

"Then why are you chasing after the poor girl?" There was a flash of anger in Ryuu's tone and Hikaru raised an eyebrow. "I know how you treat her. She deserved more than that."

"I know," said Hikaru softly. "And I know that I should keep my distance, that I should be nothing more than her Wizard…"

Ryuu's silence was as unnerving as his sudden bout of fury. Hikaru wondered if he should break it when he heard him mutter. "But?"

"But…" Hikaru looked at his palms and how he could easily unleash ruin with it. But these hands also held her tight and he could not forget how she felt in his embrace. "But I don't want to run away. If there was the slimmest chance that she can accept the monster that I am, then I would take it. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I missed it."

Hikaru expected a scathing remark or a harsh retort, but not a warm hand on his shoulder. Surprised, he looked up to see Ryuu grinning. "Then I can safely leave her to you," the guy said. "If she would take all of you, then you don't have to worry about anything."

Hikaru snorted as he shrugged the redhead's hand off. "It's not like she's yours to begin with."

At this, Ryuu chuckled. "I don't own girls, Hikaru-san. I simply give them the attention and company they deserved. I can be their friend or their lover, if that is what they want from me."

"Really?" Hikaru turned his back on the guy once more. "What about Hinata-san? What about what she wants?"

Ryuu's tone was lower and full of hidden sadness, surprising Hikaru for the third time that day. "Hinata is special to me. She deserved someone better than me."

"Funny," muttered Hikaru as he took one step away from the other guy. He can see Ryuu's questioning look in his mind's eye. "The fact that you can make use of your own advice." With a scowl, he added, "Worry first about your own love life, idiot."

Ryuu watched the blonde-haired boy go, silently wishing him good luck. Though he didn't really need it, Ryuu could easily differentiate a smitten girl and a devoted woman. And Sora was definitely the latter. Unless Hikaru screwed it up somehow, they'll be in each other's arms in no time.

And then he remembered Hikaru's parting words. If only it was as easy as that, but Ryuu knew that he could never be a good match for Hinata. Whatever he or she wanted, it was just not meant to be.

"Senpai, if you don't mind me asking," said Sora, looking up to the older girl. During their conversation, she had already opened the canned coffee and let the concoction calm her rushing thoughts down to think more clearly. "Just what is the Cup?"

Shiori looked shocked at the question so Sora hastily added, "If you can't answer me, then I won't force you, senpai. But…"

"It's okay, Yukimino-san," replied Shiori with a reassuring smile. "You can't help being curious, you were not exposed to an early Magical education unlike the rest of us…"

Sora did not trust herself to speak. So she waited for the older girl to continue the conversation, though it was clear that it was not a comfortable topic for her. Sora bit her lip, already opening her mouth to say that she didn't have to answer and it was okay, but Shiori's steady voice pierced through the silence between them.

"The Cup is known by many names," Shiori began. "One of which is the Holy Grail. I assume you know of it?"

Sora nodded. She had her fair share of Arthurian legends and films to know of the coveted item. And knowing her life now, she had already assumed it was real.

"The Cup can grant and replicate life," explained the older girl. "Aside from that, it can heal any illness but it cannot revive the dead. You can think of it as the epitome of Healing Magic."

Sora remembered the living smoke that Bacchus unleashed. "So it can give any thing its own will and life? Like anything at all?"

Shiori's brows furrowed at this - it looked like she had been contemplating on this as well. "Actually no," she said. "My father once explained it to me - how the Cup works. It cannot give life to just anything, it should be in a form that resembles a perfect being."

"A form that resembles a perfect being?"

"Take a doll for example," replied Shiori. "It has a figure that is close to a human, what you may consider a 'perfect being'. In the sense of the world, anything that lives is a 'perfect being' may it be a plant or an animal. Whatever you want to breath life into, it should have a body that is closest to a living thing."

"So…" Sora digested this information - she could even hear the gears inside her mind turning. "A doll would work, but not something like a…" She looked at the nearest non-living thing in the room. "Chair?"

Shiori nodded. "It would not work on ideas and concepts like love and truth, either. So it had always been a mystery to me how Bacchus was able to use it to bring life to his poisons."

"Does that mean the poison he makes…" Sora could not mask the incredulity of what she was saying. "Is a form that resembles a perfect being?"

"We could only make conjectures at this point," said Shiori with a heavy sigh. "I was hoping to catch Kurogane-sensei so that we can discuss this further. As someone who knew a person that used to call himself Bacchus, he is probably the only one who could come close to figuring this all out."

Sora agreed with the older girl. Kurogane-sensei knew so much about Alchemical Magic, she was sure he could pop up with a theory or two. With a gasp, she realized something. "I wasted your time, didn't I, senpai? You were looking for Kurogane-sensei, but I-"

"It's fine, Yukimino-san." Shiori assured her with a warm smile. "And what kind of senpai would I be if I ignored a crying kouhai in need. Not to mention, I am your Student Council president."

At this, Sora giggled. "You being Council president had nothing to do with my personal problems, senpai."

"I guess not," quipped Shiori as she laughed with the younger girl. Sora looked up at the taller girl enjoying herself and grew conscious of the fact that she was comfortable around Shiori. The Student Council president had always looked stern and intimidating but Sora knew she had her own quirks - her obsession on cute things, for example. And gleaming from what Sayuri had shared with her, Shiori was quite lonely beyond the facade of perfection she wore.

Sora bit her lip, wondering if she will cross a line by asking this. But oh, what the heck. "Senpai," she asked, but the nervousness was not lost on the older girl, as Shiori looked at her with concern. "W-would it be alright if I call you S-Shiori-san?"

To Sora's surprise, Shiori looked like she was about to cry. And of course, she panicked. "S-Senpai! It's okay if you don't like it, I'll just call you Senpai like I used to."

"No," said Shiori and it was with a stern and clear voice. "You should call me by my name. And I'll call you Sora-san, okay?"

"Okay, sen - I mean, Shiori-san." Sora was not sure about the whole thing, but the radiant smiled that graced Shiori's face gave her all the information she needed. The older girl was actually happy that she proposed it, like she wasn't used to having friends. Come to think of it, Sayuri was the only person she was comfortable calling by first name basis. Sora felt a little proud of herself, she became a friend to someone who probably needed it.

"Sora-san." Shiori intoned the name like it was a holy prayer that will bring her incredible happiness. "Would you like to come help me look for Kurogane-sensei."

"Of course," Sora answered automatically, standing up and throwing her empty coffee can at a nearby trash can. "I'd like to-"

Sora's voice dropped and her gaze tightened, like she would cry again. Shiori must have noticed, as she took a look on where the dark-haired girl was looking and swallowed audibly.

Gazing back at them, panting from running and standing in the entrance of the cafeteria, was the blonde-haired figure of Hikaru. His face was full of unreadable emotions but his eyes locked only to Sora's. The girl shifted and turned her back.

But Shiori quickly grabbed an arm. At Sora's accusing look, she winced but did not let go. "I'm telling you as a friend," she told the shivering girl. "You need to sort this out with Hikaru. Otherwise, the two of you will be running in circles."

Sora looked so hurt and despondent that Shiori sighed. "If it makes you feel better, I'll go with you and make sure that he doesn't dig his grave deeper. Because…"

The older girl looked so fierce and intimidating that Sora trembled at her presence once more. "Because if he does hurt you again, I'll personally nail his coffin."

And in a strange whim of fate, Sora was standing in the hospital's rooftop with the two people he was once terrified of being alone with. Hikaru looked annoyed at Shiori's presence, but the bluenette quickly stated her intentions.

"I'm here because I'm worried for Sora." Shiori crossed her arm as she regarded the boy with a piercing glare. Hikaru met it with one of his and Shiori sighed, her expression softening. "I could have let her run away, you know and heaven knows you deserved it." The girl once more sighed, shaking her head as if seeing this whole situation unnecessary. "But you two are my friends and I don't want to see the both of you hurting like this." And then her stern, intimidating gaze was back in full force. "So you better not screw this up."

Hikaru gazed stubbornly at Shiori for some moments before finally turning to Sora. She wouldn't meet his steady gaze, fixing her gaze on the ground instead. The conflicting emotions in the pit of her stomach were threatening to burst out any minute. If she would look at his stupid handsome face once more, she knew it would break her and her mouth would betray her mind for her heart.

It took a few minutes before Hikaru spoke up. His tone was low and soft, so unlike the fierce and arrogant voice he usually used. "I don't know where to begin…"

Sora's lips moved before she could stop it. "An apology would be great."

There was a great intake of breath and Sora expected a harsh retort. "You're…" Hikaru's tone was higher, but it descended to a composed, even tone to Sora's surprise. "You're right - I have so much to apologize to you…

"I was such a jerk, even from the beginning. I trampled all over your feelings and I took your freedom from you. I took out my anger and all my frustrations on you and you have every right to hate me. I kept repeating the same mistake over and over again, when I know I should have learned the first time. I tried distancing away from you, knowing it would best for you…

"But I did a crappy job, didn't I?"

Hikaru's self-depreciating laugh almost made Sora turn to him. But he didn't notice and pressed on, the words rolling on his mouth as he voiced them out.

"I was always running back to you. Whenever you're in danger, I find myself going to your rescue. At first, I thought I was being responsible for the mess I've made. But it became more of an excuse as time went on and it scared the hell out of me…"

Sora peeked at him, but he wasn't looking at her. Just like her, the boy was looking pointedly at his feet, his face flushed red. Even looking weak like this, Hikaru was still gorgeous and it was so unfair to her to she choked up.

"I couldn't stop thinking about you," Hikaru confessed, clenching his fists. "About how you're so stubborn, about how naively selfless you are, about how stupid you look whenever we had to explain something to you." Sora's eyebrows furrowed at this - was he complimenting or insulting her?

But Hikaru continued on, unaware of the effect he was having on the girl in front of him. "About how kind you were to everyone you meet. About how fearless you are in the face of danger. About how you keep facing me with all the fierceness you can muster. About how you felt beneath my arms, so fragile yet so strong…"

Hikaru finally raised his head and looked at her with such intense eyes that Sora felt her heart melt. "About how beautiful you are that it drives me crazy."

Sora's cheeks felt wet as tears came cascading out of nowhere. Hikaru approached her, brushing the tears from her cheeks. "About how I want to bully you so much that you'd only make these expressions to me."

Despite the sobs echoing within her throat, Sora was able to give out one big snort. "Being mean won't let you off my hit list."

"I know." Hikaru's voice was warm and gentle as he cupped her face with both hands.

"And so did the kind words you said."

"I know…" Hikaru pressed his forehead on hers and Sora's tears flowed more.

"I was… I was so confused," confessed Sora, her continued sobbing making it hard to speak. "You were always so full of yourself, always so rude and mean…"

Hikaru did not say anything as he closed his eyes but the warmth of his touch never left her.

"But…" Sora chocked once again. "You were also gentle and kind. You were always there to cheer me up on your own little ways. You've always protected me, made me special…"

Hikaru's voice was even and husky as he replied. "You are special, Sora…"

"But I don't know that, do I?" shouted Sora. Her tears were all over her face as she bumped her fists into his hard chest. "I was scared, so scared! Scared of having these emotions when you don't feel the same! Scared of becoming closer to you in fear of being pushed away! Scared that I can't become who you needed - someone you can trust, someone you can love."

"I love you, Sora," whispered Hikaru as she took the girl in a warm and fierce embrace.

"That's so unfair." Sora kept crying, her tears dripping on Hikaru's thin and silky hospital gown. "You're so unfair. You can't come crashing into my life then expect me to just go along with it! You can't expect me to stop everything I'm doing so that I can collect all the pieces you've broken! Go fix yourself, you stupid jerk!"

"I will." Hikaru promised. "It will take some time but I will."

"And you know what the funny thing is?" Sora couldn't help herself now - she was releasing everything she had bottled up. "I was going to wait! Don't you think that's stupid? After all the chaos and pain you've brought in my life, I was willing to wait. For you! I'm nothing but a big idiot!"

"We're both idiots," Hikaru told her as Sora breathed out, deflated.

"I know…" Sora's whisper was weak, but Hikaru could feel her sobs subsiding.

"But we can work it out together."

"I… I know…"

"I want you at my side, Sora."

Sora lifted her head, though their arms were still around each other. She still looked beautiful, though her tear-stricken face was a mess. But there was a hopeful glint in her eyes as she locked her gaze with him. "Do you mean it?"

"I do." Hikaru told her with a smile. "If someone should be asking, it should be me."

Sora snorted and it was a good sign for him. "You got that right."

Hikaru bit his lip as the next words came out - he was going to regret it but what the hell, if it meant he could be with her. "You can even set the conditions."

The expression of puzzlement in her face was even cute. "The conditions?"

"Of - of our relationship," he said in haste to stifle the growing redness in his cheeks. He felt good, however, when Sora blushed furiously she looked like a tomato.

But the girl recovered quickly as she fixed him a glare. "First, you're not allowed to be mean."

Hikaru sighed heavily. "It's not going to happen soon, I've got lots of years of practice." Seeing Sora's stubborn and defiant look, he sighed again. "But I'll try."

"I guess that's the best answer I could get from you," said Sora with a giggle.

Hikaru suddenly tightened his arms around her that she audibly squeaked. "It doesn't stop me from bullying you, does it?" His usual air of haughtiness returned and Sora childishly stuck her tongue at him.

"I'd like to see you try," replied Sora.

One of Hikaru's eyebrows raised. "Are you challenging me? I could love you and make your life a living hell at the same time, you know."

Sora frowned, but her eyes had a teasing glint. "Some man of my dreams you are."

"Even better," replied Hikaru. "I can be both the man of your dreams and your nightmares."

"Okay, that's enough flirting." Shiori's voice cut through the two teenagers - figuratively and literally. The two yelled as they broke their hug and turned to Shiori. Sora looked sheepish and embarrassed, as she innocently tried to keep her wits about. In contrast, Hikaru had his arms crossed and eyed her with indignation, as if asking how could she ruin the moment.

"As much I'd like to see you two finally getting together," stated Shiori with an amused look in her eyes as both teens refused to meet her gaze. "I'd like to remind Hikaru that he's supposed to be in bed." Sora jerked up, as if just noticing the fact - Shiori couldn't blame her though. "And I have somewhere to be, so I will leave you two lovebirds alone."

Before Shiori could leave however, Hikaru gave her a threatening glare. "You better not tell anyone what happened here," he told her, but there was an unmistakable red of embarrassment mingling with anger on his face.

Shiori reached the door and opened it before replying. "I won't." Then she slyly added, "But I can't guarantee Sayuri won't."

"Shiori, don't you dare-" Hikaru did not finish his threat when he looked up at the older girl once more.

The atmosphere suddenly changed between them when Shiori's gaze turned stern and serious. "Hikaru, if you want to talk about it, you know where to find me."

Hikaru nodded. "I will. And I will find you."

Shiori smiled once more as she climbed down the stairs. "And I want to be invited to the wedding!"

This time, it was Sora who wailed. "Shiooooriiiiiiiii!"

To be continued

Author's Note: Oh God, it's been what - THREE years - since I last updated! Time flew too fast. I hope my readers are still alive and kicking.

My life had been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. And I had been feeling unsettled since the start of this year. So I did what normal people did - got depressed, quit my job, got therapy and did some soul-searching. And I realized that I missed writing and I missed Fictionpress. So here I am once more. Hopefully, I could stay a while longer before life demanded I become a functional citizen in the society.

Anyway, I had to read everything all over again! But once I did that, all the plot lines, ideas and concepts came rushing back to me - it was like meeting a long lost best friend. And I found myself writing this chapter and everything made sense to the world once more. It's like I've found a missing piece of my soul. Wand was always a part of me and I will regret it if I don't finish it. And so, I promised to dedicate some of my time in the completion of this story.

Okay, now let's get that sorry stuff out of the way. On to the chapter! So yeah, if I've posted this earlier, many would have squealed themselves to death. I finally - and I say FINALLY - made use of the romance tag and put some well-deserved fluff in this convoluted fic. Hikaru was uncharacteristically gentle in the latter part of the chapter, but he was confessing his feelings and who doesn't act differently around the person you love? But maybe this is what he actually is inside, if you cut out his angry mask? And Shiori was so cute in this chappie, I wanna give the friendless and lonely girl a hug! Though she can't help tease our couple. Oh and Ryuu is a bro.

If this was an anime, I guess this chapter would make the perfect ending to a Season 1? Or if I ever rewrite this one into a novel-type format, this is where I probably end Book 1. So it was kinda stupid for me (and unfair to my readers) to suddenly disappear before ever uploading this chapter. So I do have the guilty need to apologize - I'M SORRRYYYYYYYYYYYY.

Ahem. So, where is this story heading after all this? You'll just have to look forward to it. Make sure to leave a review and I'll see you next time!