Consequent "A Shadow Skill Fanfic"
Written by Yen (July 2000)
Beta read by Arcina
+++ Standard Disclaimers Apply +++
Chapter One: Return
Dias was falling. Light withdrew its warm embrace. Cold dark replaced it.
His sight returned. ...W-what?
Peace fled as awareness came back to his senses. ...What's happening?
Something grabbed his hand, and he turned to see Darkness.
Lillbelt woke up. Puzzled, she stared at the ceiling of her room, wondering at what had disturbed her sleep.
She sat up abruptly. Darkness was in her room.
"Why are you here?" Curiosity replaced her surprise. She was used to his sudden appearances, though their first meeting left her wary of dark corners for a week. It took her much longer not to think vampire whenever he showed up.
Darkness shrugged slightly in answer to her query, and a small smile touched her lips. She should be afraid but found that she welcomed Darkness' presence in her sheltered and lonely life.
She watched as Darkness glided from the only shadowed corner of her room to stand beside her bed. Without warning, he opened his cloak and a lifeless form fell across her lap.
Lillbelt almost screamed, pushing futilely at the heavy body. She barely heard Darkness. "Take care of him for me."
Dias smiled as he lifted Elle up high and spun around.
"Wheee!" His little sister spread out her arms and giggled. How sweet her laughter is.
"Faster, Big brother! Faster! I want to fly just like your Blackwing!"
He laughed and hugged her close instead, ignoring the disappointed pout Elle gave him.
... You're my treasure, little sister. His eyes flickered in contentment as Elle pulled playfully at his hair. Then, they snapped open. Darkness was in front of them.
"Wake up, Black Wing."
Lillbelt turned just as he rolled and fell out of the bed. He was shouting incoherently.
"Valle Ragu!" Alarmed, she ran to him and attempted to help him up. Dias shoved her away and snarled, "Darkness, where are you?!"
Her hands trembled. "He's not here."
Dark green eyes glared at her. "He's here." Lillbelt backed off as he stood up unsteadily. "I know he's here," he continued raggedly. "I saw him."
She stilled. "He is not here," she managed to say calmly. "He left after he told me to take care of you.
His eyes focused on her. Slow realization replaced the rage in his face.
"... Your Highness..."
She jumped when he dropped to his knees and bowed.
"Darkness, why did you bring him back?"
"I am afraid the reasons are beyond your understanding, Princess."
Lillbelt sighed and glanced aside to the sleeping valle in her bed. "Do you have any idea how insulting you are sometimes?"
Darkness tilted his head slightly as she continued, "If you want me to help you, you should give me good reason."
"Isn't saving him good reason enough?"
She gave him an exasperated look. "That's not fair!" She complained.
He actually smiled. "Take care of him, Princess."
"Valle Ragu, please stand up."
Queen L'Bijuu shifted uncomfortably when he didn't.
"Please," she repeated. "I want to talk with you face to face."
His head lifted slightly and lowered again. Unable to take it anymore, she bent, grabbed his arm and pulled him up.
He jerked away, his eyes wide with alarm. He protested, "No, you mustn't touch me! I am a lowly valle."
She stamped her foot in irritation. "Stop that," she said crossly. "I am no more than you are." She blushed when he stared at her speechlessly. She turned away.
"... I am sorry," she said softly, "It can be so frustrating when people only think of me as the ruler of Juliannes." She breathed out tiredly before turning back to him. "I am person too, Valle Ragu. Not merely a symbol."
Dias blinked, his expression, uncertain. The Queen was not what he had expected. "..Forgive me, your Highness." He genuflected and paused uncomfortably before straightening. She was smiling at him.
"I am pleased to meet you, Valle Dias Ragu, brother to the 59th Sevalle Elle Ragu," she recited the honorary greeting cheerfully.
"... I am pleased to make your personal acquaintance as well, your Highness." He couldn't help but bow again slightly.
"I have heard so much about you." He smiled back at her. Her enthusiasm was clear and infectious. She was saying, "You're the Black Wing, as legendary as Kurada's Sevalles. I have always wanted to meet you."
... Elle and Kyou. She reminded him of them. So young.
"How do you know Darkness?" She asked.
"No!" Lillbelt blocked his path to the door. "You must not go out!"
"I have to find Elle!" Dias made motions to grab her then froze in mid-lunge. His hands dropped helplessly. "Please," he said, "I have to see her and Gau and the others. I have to tell them I'm here. I'm alive!"
She shook her head. "You can't!" She cried out when he suddenly rushed by her.
Lillbelt grabbed his arm, and Dias stumbled when he passed right through her fingers.
Part Two: Reason
Darkness was waiting for him. Dias paused in his pacing and frowned darkly at him. If it was possible and had actual effect, he would be squeezing Darkness' throat right now.
He looked away from the enigmatic and insufferable visage of the man who had killed him and shifted his attention to the Queen, who sat pale and drawn in the sitting chair by Darkness' side and behind. The latter stood still as a statue, feet hovering inches off the floor. There was something between them.
Dias turned away from them as he allowed his mind to muse upon the possible relationship between the Queen and Darkness. He hadn't been surprised when Darkness made another sudden appearance. He was; however, disturbed when he helped Queen L'Bijuu to the chair.
Darkness actually seemed to care for her. The endearment he showed for her was slight but clear even to Dias' presently muddled mind. She too had seemed glad to see Darkness.
Dias felt very tired.
"You wish to know why you are here?" He whirled back at Darkness' words. Before he could answer, Queen L'Bijuu stood up and said quietly, "I will leave you two alone." Darkness looked at her as she walked to the door slowly and left.
It was a while before either man spoke.
"... Why am I here, Darkness?" Dias hesitated before adding, "I'm a ghost..."
"Not exactly," Darkness answered, and that's all he said.
Dias looked at him witheringly. "Then what am I?!" He hated guessing games. Darkness wasn't the only plotting nuisance he had to deal with. "I'm here now, talking to you, but I passed right through her Highness!"
"Yes, she was terribly shaken by the incident," Darkness observed calmly, "you were not at all a gentleman."
Dias was livid. "Why did you bring me back?!" He actually has the gall to call me ungentlemanly!
"To give you immortality." Dias found himself staring helplessly at Darkness' pale face with its shut eyes.
"Must you know the reason for everything, Black Wing?"
"No," he answered, "I just want to know your reason."
Darkness shrugged and commanded his cloak to withdraw. As the black sheet vanished, he landed on the floor gracefully and gestured at Dias to come closer to him.
Dias stayed put. "What are you up to?" He said suspiciously.
"Do you want to see your sister or not?"
"Gau, what do you have there? ...Oh, it's my brother's black wing."
"Yes, Elle. I've been learning how to use it, but I'm not very good with it."
"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be using it as good as my brother did soon. ... I know he's pleased just knowing you have his black wing."
Dias blinked moist eyes and rubbed at them. On the wall in front of him, a black hole shimmered like light. It was showing Elle and Gau now lying on a grassy hillside. His sister had her arms back and cradling her head while cloud-watching.
"... I miss my big brother." Elle took a deep breath, before continuing more cheerfully, "I bet he's very proud of himself wherever he is right now."
Gau glanced at her. "Hmm?"
"You saw him, didn't you? He whooped Darkness' ass really good!"
Gau chuckled. "Yes, he did."
Dias grinned and didn't bother to see how Darkness reacted to that.
Elle jumped to her feet and yelled to the clouds. "Big Brother, you are so cool!"
The image suddenly disappeared, and Dias automatically grabbed at it. He felt very foolish when his hands went through the wall.
"That was touching," Darkness commented."
Dias felt too happy to be irritated by the other man's tactlessness. "Just shut up," he told him.
"If I do, I cannot tell you why you are here."
"Then, tell me already," Dias immediately countered. He felt light and as free as a feather. He had no weak and sickly body to hold him down. The problems of the world suddenly seemed such a trifle.
"I want you to be my student, Black Wing."
"... Your student...?" Dias looked at Darkness warily. His stomach turned queasy. ...I know he is not human. ...Time and age means nothing to him... ... I've known him for a long time, and I have always considered us as equals.
He flinched when Darkness deigned to open his eyes and to look back at him. ...He thinks of me as a child.
"Little more than that, actually," commented Darkness. Dias glanced away, remembering something else about Darkness.
After a while, he asked, "Why do you give me such an honor? Sarcasm dripped, but he knew the other man didn't care.
Dias stiffened when Darkness moved closer to him, his cape emerging sinuously. He almost fell when Darkness embraced him.
"You are impressive, Black Wing..." The whisper burned loud through him. "You intrigue me."
Part Three: Response
"Get away from me!" Dias struggled to escape from Darkness' hold and the cloying folds of black around them. He struck wildly and watched, aghast, as his fist went right through Darkness' stomach.
Sapphire eyes observed his increasing despair with faint amusement. "You cannot touch me, Black Wing," he said, unconcerned, "but I can touch you."
Dias flailed as the cloak began to constrict around him. "Let me go!"
"Will you be my student, Black Wing?"
"No! I will not be part of any sick games!"
One raven eyebrow highlighted in gold lifted quizzically. "You consider helping your precious Black Howling a sick game?"
Surprised, his struggles lost strength to uncertainty. He rasped, "W-what do you mean...? ...Gau..."
The amusement in Darkness' eyes gleamed clear. "What were you thinking I would do to you, Black Wing?"
If Dias still had flesh and blood, his face would be as red as his hair.
"... Nothing," he said sullenly, feeling extremely embarrassed and awkward. The latter due to the intimate position he was in. The former for second-guessing Darkness' intentions. He also felt relief though Darkness was so close to him, he could actually feel imagine the other man's lower torso pressed-
"Do you know perversion is a human invention?" At Darkness' dry statement, Dias lost his current line of thought and stared blankly at him.
"Do not include me with your kind." Darkness' expression was subtly conflicted. He seemed vaguely insulted. His arms loosened around Dias. "Do you really think I would engage in physical exertions with you?" A hint of disappointment followed. "I thought you wiser than that, human. It was not a simple matter to gather your essence. I would dislike being wrong in my judgment of you." Amused wonder came. "Still, you are entertaining despite irritating faults." Blue eyes ringed in black stared unblinking at him. Dias paled at his words. "It is impressive how you intrigue me, Black Wing."
He was in slow panic. "...Why are you holding me?!"
Cerulean eyes closed. "It is necessary." They opened. "You are not yet strong enough to hold yourself."
Darkness suddenly looked weary. "You are dead, Black Wing. Life and light will tear you apart if you are not ready. The Soma that gathers naturally around her will keep you here. Either that or my energy."
Darkness asked again, "Will you be my student, Black Wing?"
...Why do you keep asking me that? Dias frowned, thinking hard on his current condition. Never mind, his present position.
"Decide quickly," Darkness said, sounding impatient, "The longer you stay here, the harder it will be to return you should you decide against being my student."
"...If I do not agree to be your student?"
"You will be returned to the void," supplied Darkness.
Dias asked, "How can I help Gau and the others?"
"Details are unimportant. What matters is that end result."
"...Why are you doing this, Darkness?" What reason do you have for your involvement in human affairs? Dias withdrew in instinctive guard when Darkness remained silent to his question.
"Why are you concerned with Gau?"
"Why are you, Black Wing?"
Dias turned defensive. "He is part of my family."
Darkness replied, "You do not say your true reason, hiding behind the plausible one." Dias bristled at the insinuation.
Before he could say anything, Darkness released him abruptly. He staggered, almost losing his balance when Darkness' cloak wove in closer around him, supporting him in place of its master.
"Black Wing, would you have ignored Black Howling had he not been your sister's brother by choice? Had he not been part of your family?"
"Of course not!"
"You would meddle in his affairs even if he was a stranger. Neither is he my family."
"You hide just as well behind riddles and words, Darkness."
"My reason is your reason," countered Darkness calmly.
"...Why do you need me to help Gau?"
"Would you rather not help him?"
He felt and was trapped.
"Will you be my student, Black Wing?"
Dias slumped weakly, grateful for the support Darkness offered to him in layers of black cloth.
"...Yes, I will be your student."
Two more fanfiction sequels coming