Twelve

Rating : K+

Pairing : Reincarnated Alicia-centric

Genre : Romance, Angst

Characters : Rufus, reincarnated Alicia, reincarnated Lezard Valeth

Preview : A rainy afternoon, a fateful encounter. Never would she imagine a man she happened to meet could have such a strong influence on her life. “Who is he?” that’s the question she spent years searching for but never found. Somewhat a sequel to “Existence”

Twelve

Somewhat a sequel to ‘Existence’

The first time she saw him, she was a mere twelve-year-old girl. She saw him on her way home on a rainy afternoon. He was walking slowly and silently along the street, never minding finding a place to take shelter in this heavy rain like other people. A lone youth soaked from head to toe walking in the rain, she found that scene strangely beautiful. Not to mention that his face possessed an unearthly pulchritude that she had never seen in anyone before, not in this backwater town. For a moment, she stopped in her track to look at him, to wait for him to walk to her and pass her.

Like in a slow motion screen, he walked with low pace; yet he never stopped, as if nothing in this world could have frozen his footsteps, not the people rushing down the street, not the cold, rigid drops harshly slapping his face. Like he was enjoying it.

He was no more than a stranger she happened to see on her way home, one of thousands anonymous people she passed by in this world. But somehow, this strange man emitted a familiar air. Had she ever met him before ? Perhaps in her dreams ?

She was only twelve back then. A child of her age did not think much. Obviously she had no idea why he kept walking like that or what inner turmoil was torturing him deep inside. In her petit hand still held a spare umbrella, an abundance to her as she had already had her sister’s umbrella to cover her but one thing he might be in need at this moment.

Her mother told her to never speak to strangers. She was an obedient child and behaved as she had been told. All she did was handing the spare umbrella to him and running to catch up with her sister. Not a single word was exchanged. Who would need words when a simple, warm-hearted smile could easily express it all?

The moment she gave him that said item, not only had his hand, which was much larger, swiftly brushed her, she also had had a chance to take a close look at his face. He did not just have an exotically beautiful countenance, his whole being gave off an elegant air, so elegant that one could immediately tell he was of noble birth. And his eyes. His eyes were deep and shining with the color of finest emerald. A green river she could swim in, and drown in.

Blushing, the little girl ran to her awaiting sister, leaving the young man behind with mixed, confused emotions. He would have said something, perhaps a ‘thank you’ to express his gratitude, instead, he stopped dead in his track, emerald eyes gazing at her small back until the cold rain washed away all her traces.

 

Yubi ni hitai ni kami ni
Anata no mukou kaima mieru omokage
Moshimo toki no nagare wo
Saka noboretara sono hito ni deaeru

I can briefly see your finger,
your forehead, your hair, in the distance
If somehow, I could turn back the stream of time,

I would be with you

What she had done came from the pure kindness of a nice, well-educated girl who was taught to lend a hand to someone in need. If he had been someone else , she would probably have done the same. Yet to him, it meant something else. Something a little girl of twelve-year age could not decipher from just a mere look into his eyes.

The young and innocent girl had no intention to look back. But if only she had…

If only had she had a second to look back, she would have seen the shine in his emerald orbs die out and be replaced by a dull, clouded gaze lingering lovingly at her disappeared figure. Clouded by feelings none could not define.

If only had she had a second to look back, and look carefully, she would have seen two streams of water pour down his cheeks, melting in the rain. The tears were warm despite the coldness of the rain because they were heated by the flame within his heart.

If only had she had a second to look back, she would have realized those eyes was not so strange to her as she had encountered them many times in her dreams, both sweet and nightmares.

Sadly she had not. That was why this mysterious young man’s true identity forever remained an unsolved puzzle throughout her life.

Itoshii egao ni kokoro ugokashite
Arashi ni yura ide tachidomaru toki mo
Mamoritai subete wo sasagete mo
Omoi wa chikara ni sugata wo kaeru kara

Your beautiful smile, it moves my heart
when I’m stuck within a storm
I want to protect you, give your everything
because those thoughts turn into strength for me

Twelve years had passed since the day fate had guided her to the strange man. She had blossomed from a little girl to a young and charming lady. Such pure and innocent beauty enchanted the heart of many young men, who were enslaved with just one glance of her ocean-blue eyes.  Gently but firmly, she refused all their proposals. Some were heart-broken, some were not but after spending some times lamenting, they all moved on. Life in this world was a harsh race with every second counted, they simply were not patient enough to try to win the heart which had already had its ruler. Little by little, she found her heart turned to the mysterious youth she had seen twelve years ago. She had not seen him again in these twelve years, not even one but strangely, he appeared in her dreams more frequently. Sometimes he would smile at her, complementing on her beauty. Sometimes he would scold her, telling her to never give up since he would always be by her side. Give up what, she wondered. And sometimes, in her most terrified nightmares, he would look at her with emerald eyes filled with sorrow and dismay, the reason why, she could never understand.

Kono sekai umarete soshite
Ataerareta ara yuru namae ni
Negai ga aru

When we’re born into this world
the names we are given,

they each contains a wish of their own

Always in her dreams, she had a feeling that they had long been lovers, that she was fated to meet and to find him.

It is said that those who are in love are crazy. That is how other people view them. To them, the heart has its own logic which cannot be deciphered by those who have not tasted the delicacy called love.

Another twelve years had passed and her will to find the man with emerald eyes had grown weaker, as well as her body. Perhaps, she too, was not different from those young men she had turned down. Life was short, every passed minutes would never come back. She had already spent twelve years searching for a person whose existence she was not even sure of. Sadly, all her efforts were of no avail. At some points, she had begun to wonder whether she had been fated to continuously searching for him and he has been fated to never see her again. Perhaps, it had been fate’s joke from the beginning to test how long one person’s patience could last. If that was the case then she had failed it completely. Still, looking back at those twelve years, she harbored no regrets. She would not call them a waste as she would not think her love was surreal. She had fallen in love with a man she could only meet in her dreams but that did not matter as long as she had tasted the delicacy of love. She would treasure this feeling until her last day on earth as it forever remained a vividly statuesque memory to remind her of her youthful days.

With that thought in mind, she moved on. Her husband was none other than her childhood friend, whom she had grown up with and trusted most. She was his only best friend. Though he was handsome and intelligent, an ideal boyfriend as she thought, women found him distant and weird. Thus, he had not had any romantic relationships. He did not seem to care, either. Those who were only interested in his looks were deemed shallow by him and those who avoided him due to his eccentricity were not regarded much higher. The reason why of all women around he developed a sturdy friendship with her simply because they shared a same kind of affection toward someone they had hardly met. In his case, it was a beautiful woman with platinum hair that seemed to reflect light and icy blue eyes. However, this woman rejected him with all her being. In her eyes which were sharper than an unsheathed blade, there was space for hatred, disgust and even pity but never for love. Despite that, he still loved her wholeheartedly, let alone obsessed with her.

Again, heart has its own logic.

When they both got tired with her hopeless pursuit, they decided to stop and ended in a marriage. A simple marriage between two best friends who trusted, understood and loved each other. Love as friends, never as lovers. A simple wedding was held with only families and close friends attended.

There was an unexpected guest showing up at their wedding. To her surprise and even dismay, he was the strange man who had captivated her love. While time had changed her both mentally and physically, he remained the same as she had seen him years ago. That youthful countenance half hidden by the hood, that slender figure under the black coat, those emerald eyes clouded with unspoken feelings. Feelings for whom ?

Throughout the wedding, he stood in the corner, silently watching, unfazed by all the chatters and laughters around. When she was about to kiss her husband, instinctively she cast one glance to him. His emerald eyes still bored on her figure, which was clad in simple yet pure white wedding gown. The look in his eyes apparently betrayed his serene posture; in those eyes burnt an untamed desire that lusted for her and her only. Such longing look sent chills down her spine and sped up her heartbeats. She could not help but averted her eyes, pretending he was never there and moved on with the ritual. How ironic it was for her to finally met the one her heart yearned for yet she could not even look at him.

He disappeared right after the wedding, leaving not a trace left. It seemed that no one but her could see such an unusual guest attend the ceremony. Again, she lost him. Perhaps, he had not been there, no one in black hood and coat had been there from the beginning, only her own delusion had created such a person. Perhaps deep in her heart, she regretted giving up her love to marry another man.  Whatever it was, the sensation of his eyes on her was horrifying real.

Someone has once told her a story about spirits of unrequited love. Those who die of tragic love usually cannot pass on; instead, they would forever wander the earth searching for what they lost. She could not help but wonder if he was of one of them. Was she the one he loved or just someone who resembled the one he loved ? Only he knew the answer.

She and her husband led a happy life for many years. Neither of them were discontent with their family. They had almost everything others wished for : a pretty daughter, an intelligent son, both inherited their parents’ traits. Arguments were limited to minimum since their family was built with a lot of trust and sympathy. Sadly, love seemed to be the only element that lacked. They both knew they were not the one for each other and they did not try to cheat themselves out of that fact. Still, they valued their little family since it was everything they had.

Years had turned her golden hair to silver. Her last days were spent in a nice hospital with her husband by her side. His hair, like her, was no longer rich and brown. His eyes, once shined brilliantly in the past, now tightly closed. His chest heaved heavily with every breath he took. His end was near. So was hers.

Her hand managed to reach to his. With her last ounce of strength, she gave his hand one last squeeze and whispered to him, though hardly could he hear her now.

“Thank you so much for accompanying me for all my life. You have been a great friend and a great husband. I’m really sorry that I cannot love you the way a wife should love her husband.”

Her cheeks felt hot as tears streaming down, her tongue tasted the salt and she closed her eyes.

The moment she opened her eyes, she saw the mysterious man standing next to her bed. He face remained the same as the image she had stored in her memory. Time, indeed, could not touch him. As if he had not belonged to this world.

“This is the third time I’ve seen you.”

He nodded, silently.

“And undoubtedly the last.”

Still, he remained quiet, only the grieving look in his eyes spoke of his internal despair. He too knew that a human’s life was short and all had to face death in the end.

She found herself let out a soft chuckle, which was not so appropriate that this time.

“Still saying nothing ? Not a goodbye, at least ?”

To her surprise, he even said something stranger.

“I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what ? For showing up when I’m most unexpected ?”

“I should never interfere with your life. But… I sometimes could not help myself .”

A look of guilt darkened his face.

“Just who are you exactly ? I’ve been pondering this question ever since I first met you.”

“Will you believe me if I tell you I’m a god ?”

“What kind of god would appear in a mortal’s life ? And three times at last.”

“A god of a forgotten world. A god nobody could remember. A god who lost his reason for being.”

“And who was I ? I’ve always had strange dreams about being a princess- she chuckled-Not that I want to be a princess like many teenagers.”

“You were a beautiful princess who struggled against her fate. In the end, not only did you escape your own fate, you even changed many others’ s. By sacrificing your life.”

“Why were you always by my side ?”

“I wished to protect you. And failed miserably. In the end, all I could do was watching you walking down your path of demise. So useless, right ?”

A bitter laugh died on his lips. Though she did not know how many years he had been living, she could almost tell how terribly they had wrecked his soul.

With the eyes of someone who had experienced life she gazed at him.

“No, you aren’t.  I understand how you have spent your life in regret and suffer. I’m sure she would never blame you.

She’s always waiting for a chance to see you. Even in her reincarnation.”

“Alicia… I…”

Unable to speak, he just held her hand, which was now rough and full of wrinkles, in his smooth and strong one. To him, this hand was no different from the young princess’s petit hand which he had taken a long time ago. No matter how she had changed, she was always the sweet goddess of his heart.

“Is that… how I used to be called ? Such beautiful name !”

“Your name is a spell that has kept me from falling into the realm of undead for all these years.”

“I doubt… no undead could be as charming as you.” She intended to laugh along with her joke, yet a harsh cough came out instead.

A warm drop of tear fell on her hand. When she looked at his face, she saw those eyes had lost their shine.

“Is it so sad to let me go ? A god should know that humans are all fated to die.”

“I know that. I have witnessed many of your demise. But… I have never had a chance to say goodbye.”

“Now you have.”

“Yes, now I have. And I can’t bring myself to.”

“Sometimes ‘goodbye’ is just a new beginning.”

“Can I hope for a new beginning ?”

“I don’t see why not. Unless you don’t want to.”

“Will I disturb your life by doing so ?”

“You have already disturbed my life enough when you came and went as pleased. I’ve been trying to find you. But to no avail.”

“I’m sorry. For doing something I should not have for someone who doesn’t belong to this world.”

“Silly. As long as you are here, this earth always welcome you. And I am, as well.”

His emerald orbs gleamed at her words. Before he realized, his lips had formed a sincere smile, a smile that swept away the heaviness he had been shouldering for what could be an eternity.

“Tell me, is there any hope for me to see that smile again ? In my next life ?”

“Next time I’ll be the one to find you. I promise.”

“I trust you. As I always do, Rufus.”

End.

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