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Keeper of the Key

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"Touya! Don't walk away from meeeee!" Nakuru whined as she ran over to him, having finished what looked like a rather intense game of basketball with her teammates. "Did you see that shot I made?"

Touya mentally grimaced and attempted to dodge his classmate as she jumped on his back yet again, wrapping her arms around his neck playfully. Yukito stood off to the side smiling lightly.

"Uh huh. I really have to get to class, c'mon Yuki" Touya said, carefully shifting Nakuru off of him.

The brunette shuffled off down the hall with Yukito following behind.

"Good day Ms. Akizuki" Yuki said turning back to her.

"I'm going to win, you know" Nakuru said with a knowing smile. "But you don't even realize what you have, do you?"

Yukito stared at her with honest confusion.

"I guess the older models just aren't up to speed. I'll just take him from you now" Akizuki said with a wink before she flounced off.

Yukito shook his head softly turning to catch up with Touya.

I told you she was suspicious, Yue said in his mind, this Nakuru girl is definitely up to something.

I think she just has a crush on Touya, Yukito answered, we haven't seen her do any actual magic.

That doesn't mean she's incapable, remember that, Yue warned. We can't afford to be caught off guard if this is another one of Clow's tests.


 

"Your name is Mirror." Touya asserted as he lowered the purple staff at his side. "Return to the form you were meant to be. I'm requesting a contract with you."

Yue looked on in interest as the card's expression changed from surprise to disbelief.

"I took the shape of your former lover, why bestow such kindness on me?" the Mirror questioned him hesitantly. "You were almost seriously injured."

Touya favored her with a calm expression and held out a hand.

"Because you were only doing what you felt was necessary to test me. It wouldn't be right for me to judge your actions without taking into account your concerns about finding a new master, and the effect it would have if you chose wrongly" the teen reasoned. "You were locked away for such a long time and the world has changed so much from Clow's time, it would be foolish to expect you to simply accept everything right away. Even having to take on a new master after finding your creator is long dead."

The Mirror nodded sorrowfully. She too missed Clow Reed. It had been difficult for her to come to terms with the knowledge of his death.

"Your are kind...Master" the Mirror said as she took his hand and was enveloped in a bright light.

She reappeared in Touya's hand in card form with her new master's name printed across the other side in familiar script.

"You've done well" Yue commented. "Despite your lack of instruction. It would seem that Clow intended to leave everything up to his successor to learn independently."

"The plushy did manage to explain things fairly decently when I opened the book" Touya said thoughtfully.

"My brother isn't perfect" Yue stated sternly. "There are things he is unaware of. Like the Moon Bell."

"What's that?"

Yue sighed. "It's an artifact that Clow left in the keeping of the family that runs the Tsukimine shrine."

Touya blinked in surprise.

"That's Kaho's family" he said. Then his expression turned to one of acute suspicion.

"If this is true, then I have little doubt that this person is involved with what's been happening" Yue agreed. "The witch was indeed correct."

"It would seem so" Touya admitted. "When exactly are you planning to pay Clow a visit?"

"I would like to confront him as soon as you have gathered all of the cards" the guardian answered. "We will need their help to overcome whatever magical protections Clow may have placed on the manor."

"Do we need to look out for the Moon Bell while locating cards?" the teen asked pensively.

Yue shook his head.

"I am unsure. I know it can bypass my magic in order to aid my master. Kaho may have planned to use it for the sake of allowing your sister to become master of the cards if I refused to allow it."

"Would you have?"

"I would have reacted negatively to Clow's interference from beyond the grave through his reincarnation. I may have eventually accepted your sister as my master, but only if she wasn't under his influence." Yue answered truthfully.

"You didn't react well back at the witch's shop" Touya said after careful consideration "but I doubt you would have harmed Sakura in any way. Kaho hasn't shown herself outside of school and I've had the distinct feeling that someone has been watching us from a distance. Maybe they didn't intend to show themselves until after she found all of the cards."

"It's possible." Yue agreed. "And no, I would not have harmed her, only rejected her authority if I thought Clow was in any way manipulating her actions. I may have loved him, but his actions were as much a shock to me as anyone else. He had no right to leave without explaining anything."

"We'll get our answers when we finally pay them a visit" Touya assured him. "It's the only way to find out what really happened after he sealed you and why. What the dimensional witch said about him going off to fix a mistake in another world didn't sit right with me. There has to be something more to it."

"I have my doubts." The guardian said quietly as he transformed back into Yukito.

"Yuki?"

"I'm here To-ya" Yukito replied shaking his head to clear it. "I always feel a bit disoriented after Yue changes back to me."

"Were you able to hear anything that we were saying?" His friend asked curiously.

"No, but Yue usually translates it for me. He's trying to make it so that I can hear you when I want to. I don't want to interfere with any private conversations the two of you have together." Yukito added. "He's in need of friends right now and people who care about him."

"I know we've talked about this, but are you sure you're alright Yuki?"

"Yue was right when he said that my grandparents were never really around even in the false memories that Clow gave me" the grey haired teen admitted. "I never had any memory of my parents to begin with, so I never really thought about them. It's sad to think that I never really had a family to begin with. I'm sorry I lied to you without realizing it, Touya."

"You have nothing to be sorry about Yuki, you honestly believed that your memories were real." Touya said comfortingly, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder. "It doesn't mean that you're not still you. That we don't care about you. About what happened at the shop I-"

"It was a spur of the moment thing I understand Touya."

"No you don't I...I like you too Yuki. You're the most important person to me outside of my mother, father and Sakura."

Yukito smiled slightly at this.

"I wouldn't dream of separating you from your family Touya. They mean the world to you." His friend replied. "Family is the most important thing a person can have."

"You're my family too" Touya insisted. "My Dad and Sakura already think of you that way. Yuki would you stay with me, I mean after high school is over and we've finished everything?"

"Touya are you asking me to go out with you?" Yukito asked smiling brightly.

"Yes...but only if you want to."

"I do To-ya. I like you very much. My time with you is the most important thing to me." Yukito said. "My memories of you and Sakura are more real to me than anything else. So are my feelings for you."

"It's the same for me, Yuki. If you hadn't shown up a couple of years after Kaho left, I'd still be keeping my distance from people and driving everyone away." Touya admitted. "Even the situation with Sakura would have broken me without you and Tomoyo around. I even have a younger cousin following me around now. I'm starting to think you're good luck."

"Well I don't know about that, but being there for the people you care for is what friends are supposed to do" Yukito said with a wink. "Ne Touya?"

"I suppose you're right. Even though you and the monster are nice to everyone." Touya commented with a grin. "Tomoyo's not much better."

"I have a feeling she's been keeping Li from finding out anything more about us" his friend surmised. "She cares a great deal about you too, Touya."

"I know she does, the brat" Touya grumbled. "I just hope she takes care of herself. I don't want that kid causing her any trouble."

"She explained to me the other day that Li doesn't know anything outside of her friendship with Sakura. Although apparently everyone in class is friends with Sakura, so he hasn't really focused on her."

"We'll have to worry about it when she has to go back to school though, I should probably have a word with her teacher." Touya muttered. "We don't need him asking any uncomfortable questions around school again or following her home."

"Once we find all of the cards he'll have to leave us alone" Yukito put in. "They'll all be Touya Cards by then anyway. Yue says it's almost impossible to undo the seal once the cards have chosen a new master."

"Well that's a relief. It means his campaign to steal them is already a lost cause. Now if only we could convince him to go back to Hong Kong before Sakura gets back."

"Why are you so anxious that he not meet Sakura, Touya? He already knows she doesn't have the cards." Yukito prompted him speculatively. "The teacher will make sure he doesn't do anything to her during class time."

"I just have a bad feeling about it. Like he's going to take something precious from me that I've loved for a long time" Touya admitted. "I don't know why."

"Oh I see." Yukito said with a knowing grin. His friend snorted and looked away. "Now Touya there's no need to be so grumpy about it. Childhood love happens all the time. I'm sure Sakura will be able to tell if someone is right for her. She's a very smart girl."

"I know that. I just don't want it to be him." Touya grumbled. "He's such an immature little kid."

"Someone like Sakura might be good for him, even as a friend" Yukito suggested. "She and Tomoyo could teach him to be more accepting of others."

"I still don't like it."

"Touya, when does Sakura come home?"

"Monday" Touya confirmed. "Dad got a call this morning. We're going to go up and see her on Friday. Do you want to come?"

"I'd like that Touya. I'm glad she's finally recovered."

"Tomoyo knows and Sonomi insisted on bringing her this time." Touya told him. "One big family. My Dad's thrilled."

"I can see why" Yukito said chuckling. "He always seems happier whenever Ms. Sonomi calls."

Touya shook his head.

"I don't even want to know."

Touya looked over and saw his mother's ghost sitting on a chair in the far corner of the room. She was laughing at him and he knew deep down that she approved of Fujitaka's crush on Sonomi. Even if the latter had yet to figure out her former sensei had feelings for her. It was going to be an interesting year. He knew New Years at his great-grandfather's house would be made even more interesting by it. Things would only get worse when Sakura and Tomoyo found out and though Touya was loathe to admit it, this revelation did make him feel a bit better about everything, including his own prior emotional turmoil. Sonomi's society marriage and prompt divorce before Tomoyo was born was something they hadn't learned of until recently, although apparently Fujitaka had been keeping track of the Amamiya family as part of Nadeshiko's last request.

I was worried, Nadeshiko insisted as she'd floated about his bedroom the night before. She always did what she thought was expected of us. It never seemed to turn out very well when it came to their expectations about our marriages. I did what I felt was right, because your father was the only one for me. I'm sure you feel that way about Yukito.

Touya had blushed more than a little at that and then dutifully bid his mother good night.

Even now, he was glad that Yukito believed him about his mother's ghost. She would often show up at his part-time jobs and Yukito would help out by creating some meaningless dialogue that made it appear less like he was talking to himself. Visits from Nadeshiko mattered greatly to him and Yukito's helpful interventions were always very much appreciated.

Usually if he was working with Fujimoto on Tuesdays nights at Piffle Pizza on the edge of town, the other teen was too distracted by a certain red-haired girl whose name Touya had yet to learn. She worked at the local pre-school next door and always carried the same blue dog plushie with her everywhere. It vaguely reminded Touya of Kero when he complained about their lack of cake, with its almost lifelike scowl of defiance.

Touya resolved to ask Fujimoto what the girl's name was the next time they worked together. He had a feeling it was significant in some way, even if it likely had nothing to do with the situation with Clow Reed. The teen resolved to bring Kero just in case. His reintroduction to Yue hadn't been particularly enviable, but the yellow cat guardian had seemingly accepted his brother back into the fold, despite Yue's comments about his constant gluttony.

The Cardmaster looked up drowsily at the clock and realized he'd been spacing out again. Yukito had fallen asleep on the couch and his mother was peering at him intently from her corner. He quickly covered Yukito with a blanket and shook him awake slightly in order bid him good night, before exiting the house and closing the door behind him.

Nadeshiko followed him out by shifting her translucent form straight through Yukito's front door.

I'm glad you're happy, she said a joyful smile that only she could pull off without seeming incredibly silly, at least in Touya's mind. I know you and Sakura will be fine. Look after your father for me, won't you?

Touya nodded and made as if to hug her, a gesture she returned before fading out completely. He quietly made his way home just as it began to the sky began to darken and snow started to fall upon the untouched ground.