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† Curse named human †

Chapter Text

Songs to this chapter: 01 – Curse Named Human trailer version

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWt9LU4qWWE&index=1&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

02 – An Angel’s Nightmare

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v9SOgftan4&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC&index=2


 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 1

 

Captured by life, I cried out for you... death

 

Europe 1636

 

 

The young man winced and settled the two heavy and over-filled buckets down in front of the back entrance of the big manor house. It was unbelievably cold, his hands were so numb that he could barely touch and hold anything. The entrance where servants had to enter was muddy and unseen by the fine aristocratic family which hired him many years ago. It was a very old and traditional house with big wooden doors and windows and its grateful walls could even stand the heaviest autumn storms which blew every year monstrously against the stable and the iron gate in front of the big landholding.

Toshiya held his icy hands against to his mouth while he tried to warm them up with the little breath he was able to give from all the hard work but it was hopeless. Even his breath seemed to be frozen by the inhuman cold outside.

A loud noise coming from inside the house made his heart beat faster. He was afraid and scared. All his poor life long he was afraid. His master was a terrible man, always in a bad mood and hating everything around him, maybe even himself. And he was perfect in transmitting this hate in form of any damage to the people around him.

Like awaking from a state of dream, his body didn't really move but shake its way to the door. He had to deal with this every day but he never got used to it. The 'special' treatments he seemed to have deserved. That’s what he got told all too often.

Sometimes he caught himself thinking, seeing his own physical body from the outside. It was not strange to him, it seemed like a protection against the harm… thinking his way out of the violence, away from the physical burden, switching off his thinking and feeling. He was tired. Tired of working, tired of obeying and tired of living.

He tried to open the door with his icy hands which seemed to have all shapes of strange colors like his feet or the other parts of his body. He rubbed over his nose, trying to feel it again but the coldness was forgotten when finally the door jumped open and hit him hard on his head. The pain shot through him and his limp feet made him tumble and fall down to the snow covered ground. His eyes filled up with tears and the little hot tears rolled over his bony cheeks, falling down into the frozen snow. He tried to collect his mind but couldn’t loose the dizzy feeling. He slumped down to the ground again and winced by the loud voice which howled at him.

“Get up you lazy bastard!”

The next thing he felt was his body getting kicked.... until he could feel nothing no more.... He was weak. Always been. And no matter what life was, this was the only definition he knew. Toshiya was so hurt and damaged, body and mind, that he felt like getting more stupid with every day he woke up again. A walking corpse created by the moods of god… if there was a god. He never believed in it. He lost his faith. A very long time ago.

“I said GET UP!!!”

The mad man grabbed Toshiya on his rag clothes and threw him in front of the heavy buckets. The boy hit hard onto the ground and his hands started to bleed from the impact. But there was no time to feel pain when the voice bellowed behind him again and again.

“Get the buckets in!”

“Yes Master.” He stuttered like a child, afraid to get hurt for a wrong breath. He hung his head low and realized that the man had left the dusty kitchen to go back upstairs into the heated rooms.

Toshiya hated winter. It was a daily fight to survive. And without a roof over his head he could be dead within minutes.... which seemed like a welcome change but he was too afraid, a coward to end the life himself.

 

The not existing self-confidence came from his mother who used to be some whore in town. He never knew her or the sad story of her circumstances. All Toshiya knew was that he cursed the day when his Master and his mad wife came into the orphanage to get themselves a servant instead of a child.

And children usually didn't sleep in stables either.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The next morning, the wind was as cold as ice. Toshiya was on his weekly way to the market to buy fruit and vegetables. The coldness seemed to seep right through the rags to his thin body, entering every cell and the long forgotten memories of warmth seemed like a far away dream to him.

He pulled his old cape tighter, his eyes opened in thin slits to make out the snow covered way into town. When the snow became darker and muddy he knew that he would soon arrive in town. Horse coaches passed him, noble looking men and women too, dressed in expensive clothes and hats.... in comparison to them, Toshiya was worthless. Too low even to be noticed. No one would ever look at him, really look at him or notice him.

He hated the spoiled and superficial society of town and wanted to get his business done as quick as possible. In a hurry he made his was up to the market place. That his feet were hurting was bitter and daily truth.

When he passed a bakery, the smell of fresh baked bread, biscuits and cake filled the air. But he didn't dare to look at the showing window, just to spare the pain.

Toshiya abruptly stopped when a little girl blocked his way by standing in the middle of the footway. She looked with big, sparkling eyes at the showing window, looking like a forgotten doll with her long red cape and gloves. In her hand a paper bag full off biscuits.

Her hair was bound into two little ponytails on each side of her head and she wore a little hat too. She smiled up lovely at Toshiya with her little red cheeks when he stopped in front of her. To him, she looked like a little fairy.

“Hey! Large man!” She shouted up cheeky.

A smile formed on his cold lips and Toshiya bent down to her that he was able to look her into the eyes.

“Hello Princess. How are you?”

“I'm quite fine, thank you. And you?” She started the conversation like a grown up.

“I'm fine too... just a little cold.”

“Yes I know but look...” She pointed at her coat. “My mom bought me this and it’s quite warm.” She smiled and automatically Toshiya had to join her.

“I must say it really suits you well.”

“Thank you Mr.” She never stopped smiling. “Here.” She hold out her paper bag. “Do you wanna have a biscuit?”

“Oh no thank you. They are all yours.”

“Yes but they are just tooooo much for me. So take one!” She insisted and Toshiya happily gave in, the little gesture warming his heart.

“Tell me Princess are you alone here? Where are your parents?”

“My mommy is still in the bakery and my father is down there.” She pointed over to a dressmaker. The most expensive one in town. Toshiya had heard of him. His Master had bought several suits there as well. Coming to think of....

Toshiya straightened up from his position and took his basket up again.

“Where are you going?” She wanted to know.

“I have to go to the market.” She simply looked up at him, almost observed him. “It was nice to make your acquaintance.” Toshiya added and she smiled again. It was an inner reflex which made him stretch out his hand and care over her cheek.

“Bye bye Princess.”

“Hey!” She shouted and Toshiya turned around in reflex. “What is your name?” She wanted to know.

“My name is Toshiya! And thank you for the biscuit!” He waved a last time and finally went his way to the market place.

This little encounter really made his day. It was so short and for most people it would be insignificant but it really warmed Toshiya's heart. It was strange to say but the little girl really left an impression on him... she seemed so pure and free of evil and guilt. A little Angel.... but what was her name again? He forgot to ask her about her name.

His daydream came to an abrupt end when Toshiya felt someone grabbing him on his arm and shoving him into the next small alley behind the houses. Something was pointed at his back and Toshiya didn't dare to move. Everything happened too fast, Toshiya couldn't even scream or shout for help. With one strong hand he got pushed against a brick wall from behind and what was about to come next was the most painful experiences a human being could ever make.

Not only did the strange man take all of Toshiya's money, his dirty needs seemed to go deeper and became even more painful. Weak and numb from the cold, Toshiya tried to struggle himself free and when he wanted to shout, the other hand covered his mouth from behind. The ugly man behind him seemed taller and stronger than Toshiya was.... the sudden pain entering his body, every fiber of his body felt like turning black, dying from within. Something in that moment ceased to exist and pain got a new definition. It expanded the physical. A slow and painful death.

Tears shot into his eyes but he couldn't even scream. When Toshiya turned his head in the alley he saw something red at the end of the little street.... and he widened his eyes in shock.

The little girl started to scream when she witnessed what happened to Toshiya. The ugly man behind him pulled up his trousers hastily, still pointing with the gun against Toshiya's back.

That was when the little girl started running towards them blindly, calling out for Toshiya whose heart threatened to stop the same moment.

“NO! RUN!” Toshiya shouted back at her but with no use. Without thinking about his act, he hit the man behind him into his guts and started to run towards the girl. Toshiya grabbed her and ran all the way out of the alley.

A shot echoed through the air.

His footsteps became slower, the girl landed on her feet and it seemed like slow motion when she saw Toshiya slowly slumping onto his knees and then all flat onto the street.

She didn't really understand what happened but she knelt down next to Toshiya and shook him on his shoulder.

“Toshiya, stand up! Come on!”

But the young man didn't react. Slowly, people started to gather around them and the little girl started to sob when there was no response coming back.

In the distance, somebody shouted for the little girl.

“SHINYA! Oh my god! Are you all right?!”

The little girls' mother ran towards her child. The same moment Toshiya slightly opened his eyes again.

“Hey.... “ He coughed and had difficulties to speak. “Shinya is a really.... beautiful name....” Toshiya’s breathing became harder.

“Thank you.” The little sobbed while tears still streamed down her face.

The last remaining strength threatened to leave his cold body. With all his willpower, Toshiya stretched out his arm and cared over Shinya's little cheek.

“It’s not just the name of a Princess... it’s the name of an Angel.”

And Toshiya closed his eyes. His hand fell down into the mud of the street and the little boy started to cry.

 

 

 

 

All I ever wanted was rest and mental glee

But all of you refused to let my spirit free

I believe in a place where everybody can be

and illness and death won’t ever harm me

My wounds run too deep and because of that

I am cursing you,

humanity.

 

 

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

What?

What happened to me? Why am I crying?

Tears of joy or tears of sadness?

I'm feeling so free...

It’s so warm.... where am I...?

I can’t see anything.

Who?

Who’s calling my name?

Is this my mother?

What do you want from me? No! Leave me alone!

Don’t touch me!

What? Who are you? What do you want from me?

What do you say?

I can’t understand you....

What? I have to wake up?

Was it just a dream? No! Let me go!

What did you say?

“Wake up Toshiya.”

Why do you know my name?

“Wake up. It’s time for you to wake up.”

Will I never have any rest?

“Come on Toshiya!”

No, I don’t want to wake up.... ah, the light. It is so bright....

“Welcome Toshiya. Welcome to the world above.”

Chapter Text

Songs to this chapter: 02 – An Angel’s Nightmare

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v9SOgftan4&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC&index=2

 

† Curse named human †

 

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 02

 

Deep out of the depths you called for me

 

 

 

“You went through a lot of suffering until you arrived here.”

It was a warm, deep voice talking to Toshiya but he couldn’t really make out if it was in his head or somewhere else around him. He felt like lying somewhere, comfortable though. Maybe it was a room but yet he couldn’t really feel how he used to feel. Something was different. Somehow he felt very strange and not really complete.

His senses were different too. He sensed on another level, deeper and different. Everything was strange from what he used to know, what he was and used to feel…. Was?… Toshiya thought in past tense. There must have been something some time ago but yet he couldn’t even make out time. There had to be an explanation for all this, something to explain at least. He felt confused.

“I will grant you as much time as you need.” The strange voice again.

Toshiya felt the urge to open his eyes. He had to know where he was, who was talking to him. But all he could see was darkness. Something like an inner urge told him to move, stretch out his hands, moving his legs, breathing in and out but he didn’t feel anything. He existed in a way he couldn’t explain to himself. All this made no sense to him. Slowly he felt captured in something so much bigger than himself that he started to panic.

‘Escape! Let me escape from this place! Everything is so dark! Without color, without meaning, without life!’

“You came back to us. Be strong and wake up.”

‘What are you talking about? I don’t know what you mean! Is this a riddle?’ Toshiya thought but the other creature answered nevertheless.

“For some beings life is a riddle but for those who understand it has been an experienced learn-procession of their souls.”

Now Toshiya felt even more confused. If there was a thing like going crazy he was sure to feel this way right now. He felt like a riddle and the voice next to him spoke in riddles too.

“You have to remember. Remember who you are, remember where you have been, remember what you have been.”

Suddenly Toshiya felt his mind getting carried away. He was changing place. If there was a structure like time he felt like going backwards. It all happened automatically.

“Now try to see, look.”

He felt as if a warm wave went through his soul and then there was light. He had changed from dark into light. Slowly he made out colors and then he saw a world where different beings and things were living in. Words crossed his mind, feelings and emotions and in the same moment he felt like coming back into a physical body. He moved. Legs, hands but yet he didn’t touch anything. He couldn’t. Grass. He was standing on grass but it wasn’t like he used to know it. He seemed to be here to see, to observe. What was about to come next?

Slowly he got used to the feeling to ‘see’ again and remember things with their names. The grass he was standing on, a tree, the sky, sunlight… somehow it was so special to him to recognize these things again... To him it felt like he hadn’t been in any state of existing for a very long time. He must have been somewhere else but right now everything was just confusing. In reflex his spiritual body turned around and he looked at a big nice house.

‘Living’ was what he remembered first but nothing more seemed to form in his mind when finally the door opened loud and a little boy with dark hair ran out of the building. Suddenly a feeling of panic rushed through him and he felt that the boy was obviously running away from something or somebody. With a feeling of sadness he noticed the dirty rags of clothes and the little boys’ dirty face. That was normal … Without any reason he felt like moving… Toshiya walked towards the little boy. He wanted to speak. He moved his mouth.

“Hey little boy, what are you afraid of?”

Toshiya stretched out his arm. He wanted to touch the little boy but before he was able to get into any contact the vision almost broke when the little boy ran right through him. He was invisible and only someone who observed the situation. Obviously from another sphere.

‘Oh my god...’ Was all Toshiya could think of and then he got the feeling like being captured in a nightmare. Right afterwards an old man appeared in the door, running behind the little boy and holding a long wooden stick in his hands. By seeing the old but strong man, full of hate and madness, pain started to rush through Toshiya’s spiritual body. He was scared. Fear. Living in fear… His mind seemed to try to remember something but he still couldn’t fully grasp it.

The little boy climbed up a high tree, unsuccessfully trying to hide. The mad man shouted up to the boy and Toshiya's’ ears almost ached by the voice and its sound. He recognized and remembered the yelling tone of it. It made him shudder all over.

“TOSHIMASA! Come down! COME DOWN AT ONCE!”

‘Oh my God this can’t be happening....’

“If you don’t come down immediately you wish not to be born!” The man shouted hatefully up to the little boy and his hands were trembling in anger and with them the long wooden stick.

A nightmare, trauma… the boy up there was shivering in fear. He heard the boys inner voice, gambling with himself whether to come down or do something else up there but the little shaking figure already knew how the whole thing would end. Captured in this situation, in his whole life… A devilish circle he couldn’t step out of. Toshiya felt like crying. He felt so helpless, so sorry for all that had happened. Miserable was what he felt like.

Then his vision faded again. Toshiya felt some kind of space which he decided to call time. He went back again. He obviously wasn’t done with observing this one situation. But already now he’s had enough… and he wondered: Why did he has to see all of this again? Feel all this? What was it good for? It was such a long time ago and now he got punished by feeling what the victim felt? There must be something evil going on with him and there was nothing he could do against. He felt so helpless, he was extradited to the situations.

Then the nightmare continued and Toshiya found himself standing in a big and expensive looking room… a living room.

“Why did God punish us so hard...”

“My dear it is not your fault. Your sister has got the same problem with this hereditary disease.”

“But we need someone to help us around the house… And we're not getting younger. We need a child.”

“I know. Let's see.... why not looking for a child at the orphanage?””

 

Toshiya moved backwards from the whole situation. This was going to end in an dilemma. Somehow he KNEW it. He shook his head in shock. This should have never happened. Curse the day when they came up with this stupid stupid idea!

Toshiya stopped cursing when he felt getting carried away again. Fast. Forward it seemed. Then all of a sudden he felt very hot. His skin felt like burning. He stood on a field. Wide and dry, dusty it was. A hot and sunny day. He looked around when he found a young man standing only feet away from him. He moved himself closer to the body without leaving any footprints on the earth which seemed quite strange but yet he wasn’t really thinking about it since everything was quite strange anyway. Then his gaze wandered down the back of the man. The naked upper part of the body. Devastating. Disgusting. It was brutal to look at him. Toshiya felt like crying again and so did the person on the field. He felt how salty tears rolled down the young man’s sore cheeks, sore from tears and pain. He knew what it felt like again.

Hesitantly Toshiya moved closer and he stretched out his hand but pulled it back in an instant. These wounds, everywhere these wounds. Bruises and black spots marking the bony and haggard body of the torn out being in front of him. He felt so ashamed. Ashamed of the own reflection in front of him. Somehow he felt so related to this person. But before Toshiya was able to grasp that idea he felt his mind getting carried away again into another situation.

He found himself in darkness where shadows were moving around him. He panicked. He felt something being in the room. Then he heard a sound. A sound he knew. A sound which he hated and feared the most.

Do you know how it sounds like when some creature is hiding in the dark and with every breath it takes you can feel the fear in its breathing?

It’s like a hunt. A hunt to survive... It’s the worst thing Toshiya could ever think of. Then a terrible sound and Toshiya, in his psychological state, literally broke down. He screamed but yet he was sure nobody could hear him. Only the voice of the person in his vision could be heard… and the terrible noises of a whip on a bare body. Pictures shot through his mind and in an instant he felt like the observing person again…. and slowly he got a hint what all of this possibly meant.

It wasn’t just a related person suffering in his visions, it was him. God knows when all of this had happened but now he knew that it must have been a longer time ago. Otherwise he would have hardly forgotten all that. He observed it like a movie. All this suffering, pain, punishment, hard work… for nothing. The old well known feeling of ‘worthless’ came up again. This was no living, this was surviving. Living… Sure, he must have lived somewhere! A longer time ago because it felt all so alien to him.

Toshiya panicked. Captured in a spiritual state he stared at the beaten into a bleeding bulp-body next to him. It was a real nightmare. He had to get out of here… this state whatever it was! Someone has to help him! He couldn't bare this situations any longer! Not a second time! Never again!

Toshiya stood up and tried to run but no matter how fast his legs moved he remained running on the same spot. He panicked and although his feet were moving like mad he felt how icy temperatures crept up his legs and all at once there was a change in situations again. Toshiya stopped and looked down on him. He hold a basket in his hands and all around him was heavy winter.

Panic arose again and the feeling of being helplessly captured in this old nightmare didn’t make it better. He was afraid what a horrible thing would occur next… and there was no running away from it. He was captured in all of this.

Out of reflex he rubbed his hands together but he hold something very precious in his hands. Money… That’s how they’d called it. It was something to get something in return. The market… a cold day in winter… he hated winter… He tried to remember anything but he couldn’t. All he could do was to wait, to observe the situation, how the body runs into his next misery.

He saw himself standing in front of a bakery. Toshiya first didn’t really understand then he got a sense how he must have felt like in that moment. Happiness by the sight of someone....

a little girl standing right in front of him, talking to him. A warm feeling encircled his heart.

Change of scenes... Panic again, the thought of running away, escaping but for some reason he stayed. He was in great danger! He felt himself unable to move. The other presence…. a stranger.. harm… he’s going to harm myself in some way… HELP!

‘No! Leave me alone! Am I not tortured enough?! Leave me alone, PLEASE!’

Immortal Toshiya clasped his hands over his ears and closed his eyes. He screamed and cried next to the vision he was 'living through' again. No matter how much he screamed or tried to touch the people in his vision… he was helpless and everything happened again. He was captured in his own mind! And he broke in any way a mind was able to break. He couldn’t escape all that suffering and pain, it was everywhere.

But the situation wasn’t over yet. Toshiya opened his eyes and turned his head like the mortal Toshiya to the entrance of the alley.

The little girl! She saw it and she screamed. She was in danger! The mortal Toshiya started to run. Not for his life but for hers. A gunshot followed and then a burning pain in his chest. The immortal Toshiya and the man in his vision touched the same spot at the same time where the shot had went through. Toshiya looked down and thought to see blood on his hands. He touched his chest and dipped his fingers into the mortal liquid. Blood. Blood spilled. Blood to be killed. He collapsed and fell down onto the ground.

His vision darkened. He couldn't see any longer how he used to… he felt something happening with his body... he died. He was leaving. Leaving for something he didn’t know. Leaving the mortal life. Leaving this world of pain. But before his mind had completely switched off he recalled one last sentence.

“It’s not only the name of a Princess... it’s the name of an Angel.”

That was the only lovely memory he carried with him. The only nice person he had ever met in this life.

Then again coldness which slowly faded as soon as his spirit had left the dead body. He was pulled into something and at the same time he felt like falling. Deep. Something much deeper and unknown. He fell into some kind of slumber. He slept. His senses were completely switched off and his soul was dead in a strange way.

_________________________

The Guardian Angel Hakuei who had observed Toshiya the whole time over during his travel through his past life was calling out to him. He felt that Toshiya’s soul was threatening to slip through his hands again. Into another sphere where he may not be able to follow or find him again.

“Toshiya, can you hear me?!” The Angel shook Toshiya’s immortal body. “Toshiya answer me in any way! Open your eyes! Don’t get lost in this trauma!!”

The Angel got no response.

“I beg you! Come back to the life here! Please! Don’t stay in this psychological shock!… don’t make me loose you again…” The Angel became desperate.

But Toshiya's soul didn’t react. He couldn’t hear the Angel screaming at him. In fact he had fallen deeper into something not every soul was passing through. A place where restless souls get lost to and where all the suffering repeats again and again. The nightmare which they were living in was projected into this world and pulled the poor soul deeper into its misery. At that point it became dangerous for the soul’s surviving…. And the soul became almost unreachable.

Hakuei sat next to the immortal body of Toshiya. An immortal body without soul. And it was his job to get this soul back!

He started to communicate with Toshiya's mind. Through his thoughts he started speaking to Toshiya's soul but he couldn’t find him anywhere. The Angel felt the fragile threat to the soul starting to get thin…. Threatening thin. He had to handle other wise he would loose Toshiya forever!

The Guardian Angel positioned himself over Toshiya’s immortal lifeless body. Within a second and a gust of wind majestic wings formed at the back of the Angel’s body, shining in the brightest white and with a slight golden illumination. The Angel moved his large wings high up in the air and then down again. With his beautiful wings he enclosed Toshiya’s and his body at the same time. He concentrated on the hurt soul and miraculously his angelic body became frail and transparent like glass or a crystal. The Angel had split his soul from his angelic body and went right into Toshiya’s mind to search for him.

That was a dangerous situation for both souls because both of them could get lost within the victim’s personal nightmare. Thus it was the last alternative a Guardian Angel would chose.

Immediately he had been sucked into Toshiya’s nightmare and he found himself in a garden. Maybe nice at first sight but not to forget what kind of soul was captured in this self built world. These depths could be worse than hell. A personal imagination and thus no boundaries. A horrible and dangerous place for those who cannot control it.

The Angel turned around like a human would do because in this world he’s had a body like a human again. Means with no wings and no magical powers. Then in the distance he spotted a door on open field. Wondering what this possibly meant he pushed the door open and walked through it. He left the garden and found himself in front of a huge labyrinth. The walls impossibly high and out of dark stone. Immediately he picked one of the entrances and started to run. And he ran…. And ran…. And there was no end in sight and no ways branching off. A senseless labyrinth. The Angel stopped and shouted out loud.

“Toshiya! I am here to rescue you! Where are you?!”

No response.

“Toshiya! What are you planning to do?! Catching me in here? In an endless labyrinth?!”

The Angel couldn’t hide his frustration. It seemed hopeless. Out of reflex the Angel turned around because he heard someone approaching from behind.

“What? Toshiya is that you?”

He walked closer to the being which formed in the distance. Then he recognized an older man. The Angel became suspicious. He’d heard of pain reflections so he had to be very careful.

“Toshimasa... “ The man hissed in a tone even the Angel had to shudder. “You have been such a bad boy....”

“You are not real.” Hakuei said and didn’t see it coming. A stroke hit him into his stomach and he tumbled. The pain Toshiya had once felt was reflecting right into his body. Now he knew why every Angel said this kind of state was dangerous… it hurt like hell! The Angel hold his stomach and wanted to look up at the reflection when the man had suddenly disappeared.

Hakuei ran through the endless Labyrinth but not for long. He stopped when he saw a boy lying in the middle of the way. He stopped in front of him.

“Hey little boy....”

At first there was no reaction. So he went on with the idea he had first: Touching him… or whatever it was. The boy shrieked by the lightest touch.

“Master please excuse me! I’m so sorry, I…”

The Angel narrowed his eyes. He looked closely at the boy… can it be? “Toshiya?”

“Master! I’ll never ever do something wrong again! I swear!”

It pained him. Seeing the little creature begging with its power at its end. The fear talked with and the whole body language… like a beaten dog who shrieked by the simplest movement. That soul was miserably deep into some kind of depression and hopelessness that it was frightening.

“Toshiya! I'm here to help! We have to get out of here!”

“Yes, Master. I’ll go back to work!”

The Angel shook his head. He was close to believe that it was hopeless but there was no time to resign because the boy wanted to run off and the Angel caught him at his arm. The boy started to become hysterical. No wonder because he didn’t know who or what exactly held him back and for what cause. Because the vision playing in the victims head only knows what it experienced.

“No Master! What have I done wrong? Please let me go!”

“Toshiya! What kind of game is this? If you don’t like it here it’s you who can end it! Do something against all this suffering! It’s just a vision you’re recreating!”

The boy came to a hold but still shivered like a deer. Slightly he turned his head to the person who spoke to him then he answered.

“What you want will be.”

Slowly the Angel let go off the little boy’s arm and off he ran into the distance and then he disappeared. The Angel cursed to himself for not having thought about such a reaction but stopped when he saw a way branching off the labyrinth. Great. Now there was a change in direction. If it’s good or bad he would find out soon enough.

After he’d entered the branch way the first feeling which rushed over his body was warmth. Heat to be exactly. He felt exhausted and his breathing became harder.

‘What kind of Illusion was that again?’

He went on walking. The sun burned down on his bare trunk, the feeling of hunger and thirst came up. First he was startled but then surprised how it felt like again. It must have been ages ago since Hakuei felt this human cravings.

“You lazy piece of shit!”

Startled the Angel turned around but he had no time to react and a hard stroke of a whip sent him down to the ground. This burning pain… he’d never experienced such pain in a lifetime before and now he was wrinkling himself in pain on the dirty ground.

“I said work had to be done until midday! You lazy bastard!!!”

The man was in such a rage he didn’t stop with hurting and punishing the creature on the ground. Occupied with the real feeling nightmare, Hakuei was unable to ‘contact’ Toshiya’s soul. Then with a hard kick into his stomach he felt getting sick and he vomited blood. The same procedure, the same thing that happened to Toshiya once, he reflected it onto Hakuei because they were connected.

Hakuei reached out with his shaking hand to touch the red liquid… and he had pure horror in his eyes. Blood. It was the first time since over 200 years that he saw his own blood.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Meanwhile in holy peaceful heaven where the rest of the Angel population was living, there was another Angel busy with his tasks and work. The Angel was one of the border’s watchers in God’s name. There he stood with another Angel colleague when his gaze suddenly froze. A short wave of panic had been sent to his angelic body. Someone was calling for help.

Immediately the Angel started running away from his working place. His friend turned around surprised and yelled behind the running Angel.

“DIIIIEEEEE! What are you doing?!!”

“Helping a friend!!!!”

“But hey-!“

The Angel stopped asking when Die unfold his four white wings and with a fast stroke he moved up high into the air.

“And who fills in for you?!!!!”

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

 

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 03

 

Captured in your mind I'm damned to Illusions

 

 

 

Cherubim Angel Die flew into the direction where the waves were coming from, like little impulses from a pumping heart. Hakuei, his friend was in danger. That was why he felt him sending thoughts of help. Die didn’t really know where the other Angel was but he felt an enclosed feeling, like being captured into something…. Die assumed what it could be but hoped that he was wrong.

The scream for help had brought him back into the sky castle. A magnificent and huge palace where most of the Angel population lived and worked. It was such a huge place that it was impossible to ever have seen everything in it. It was made out of gold and marble and flowers and plants were everywhere inside the building. It was somehow a city on its own. Huge staircases and windows, balconies, chandeliers…. Everything to make it comfortable for its residents.

But Die had no time to admire its splendor. He stormed right onto the floor where the shout for help came from and right into the private quarter of his friend. Fact was that every Angel possessed his own apartment in the sky castle. And if you’re a welcomed guest you can enter.

In haste, Die pushed the door open and found his dear friend sitting on the floor but he was not alone. Toshiya was finally there.... or what was left of him.

With his right hand, Hakuei held his protégé Toshiya’s hand while he had collapsed to the floor next to him. And Die knew that Hakuei was in too deeply. Deeper than necessary. Swallowed by the trauma of his own protégé. His wings started to loose feathers…. Die had arrived just in time.

He kneeled next the glass-body and laid his hands down onto the Guardian Angel’s back. Then he enclosed the two captured Angel’s with his four wings and concentrated. Words formed in his mind while his vision and strength widened out.

“Athah Gibor Le-olam Adonai!” ‘You, O Lord, are mighty forever!’

At the same time in Toshiya’s nightmare vision:

The weak and hurt body of the Guardian Angel lifted up from the dusty ground. The Angel opened his eyes when he felt himself get lifted by powers from the outside… something was there to help him. Then a rush of power went through his beaten body and it almost seemed as if light extended from him. Strength slowly returned to his harmed body. And he recognized that kind of power.

‘It’s you Die!!!’ He shouted in his mind.

‘I will get you out of there Hakuei.’ Die answered through his thoughts. They weren’t able to see each other yet but communication worked that way.

Die’s powers showed effect. Hakuei’s harmed body-projection lifted up from the dusty ground on its own. An inner strength, warmth and power filled him up. He had never experienced something like this before but feeling it right now he knew that his mind and powers do get linked with the helping Angel in another sphere. That was only possible because Die was an Angel from higher rank. A Cherubim.

Hakuei floated above the ground, powerful aura encircled him. He had his eyes closed but the moment he felt the threatening man from Toshiya’s vision coming back to life, he opened his eyes and glared at the culprit. He linked himself mentally with the threatening figure and felt every movement and flicker of emotion of it. Now he got him.

Before the mad man was able to do any more harm to them, the Guardian Angel lifted up one hand and with a gust of energy he sent the man down to the ground and hold him down there.

“You have no right to harm anybody.” The Guardian Angel said in a strange voice which didn't sound like his own. It belonged to nobody and wasn’t from this world. “No pain.”

But before Hakuei was able to break the spell, the old unforgotten grudge filled the world. Their fight wasn’t over yet and the created man from Toshiya’s nightmare filled the space with negative energy. The sun faded then it became dark. Hakuei’s senses were on high alert and again he spoke into the darkness with that unknown voice:

“ATHAH GIBOR LE-OLAM ADONAI!”

The words circled through Hakuei’s mind and the moment he had said them out loud he had known what they meant. ‘You, O Lord, are mighty forever!’

The sound of cracking ice echoed through the whole space and moments afterwards the darkness exploded and pieces fell down to the ground and formed into snow. Hakuei looked around suspicious. The game wasn’t over yet. He floated back to the ground and his feet touched the snow covered ground.

The strong energy faded and he knew that they were gone. Through his mind Die communicated with him.

‘Hurry Hakuei! That’s all I can give, sorry! I will stay here until you’re both back!’

‘Thanks buddy.’ And the Guardian Angel jogged into the direction where a faint energy was coming from…. He had to find Toshiya! This was his created world so he had to be somewhere! Hakuei had to get him out of here quickly before his soul got more damaged than it already was. That circle of depression was dangerous for both of them and they had to leave now.

Hakuei jogged a few more moments but slowed down when he felt a sting on his stomach. He looked down and found a wide scratch over his stomach. Could it be?! A cut. He got harmed by invisible force. That could only mean that Toshiya bore the same wound. Hakuei started running but slowed down while more and more scratches formed on his body. Saying that he wasn’t scared would be an outright lie. He didn’t want to imagine worse wounds though.

In the distance he made out a dead tree right in the middle of nowhere. He ran towards it and slowed down when he found footprints in the snow. Slowly he encircled the tree and found a covered figure sitting next to its huge trunk. Hakuei tried to speak through thoughts but the figure or person didn’t answer. It was all covered with a rag of old clothing and its feet were bare and frozen. Slowly and with shaking hands Hakuei touched the rag cloth around the figure’s head and he pulled it down from its covered face. He was horrified and stumbled backwards. He landed in the snow and was on one level with the figure's head. He slowly crawled backwards and spoke to Die through his thoughts.

‘Oh my god… that’s that’s brutal, disgusting... it’s totally damaged!’

‘What do you see?’

Hakuei silenced and watched the motionless doll. Not only that its body showed the same injuries like Hakuei. The main aspect reflected on the face which was sewed up by the eyes and the mouth as well.

‘Destroyed, dismembered…’ Hakuei stuttered. That was really one of the most brutal ways to forget about yourself and giving up on everything.

‘I’m so sorry Toshiya. Seeing you like this hurts me so much. Please, let me help you. Let’s get out of this misery, together. To see the sunlight again.'

Carefully, Hakuei stretched out his hand and he touched the black hair. But before he was able to continue, a strong grip from behind hold him around his throat and pulled him aside against the tree trunk. Something sharp was pointed at his back and although he couldn’t die like a mortal in this nightmare, serious mental damage was quite possible.

Shocked by all this brutality, Hakuei hold still. Slowly he turned his head to the right side and looked at the motionless doll next to his feet. With his mind he tried to communicate with Toshiya again.

‘Toshiya! Please listen to me! Move!’

But there was still no reaction. Except from the man behind him who started to shout disgusting and life threatening things.

Then for the first time since ages Hakuei imagined to feel his heart beating like mad… human feelings. And his fear was justified. Getting killed would either enclose him in this sick world of Toshiya or hurl him into another low dimension… Either way was no good.

The Guardian Angel tried to reach Toshiya through his thoughts again. ‘Toshiya, the only ray of hope which holds me in here is the thought that you can hear me. Please stop this. Only you can do it. You are so strong Toshiya, I know it.’

The guy behind Hakuei started to get nervous and he screamed loudly against Hakuei’s ear. “Drop your pants!” He hold the sharp thing closer to Hakuei’s back. Panic welled up but nevertheless he tried to imagine Toshiya’s soul.

‘Please wake up from this state and come with me to a place where people will love and need you Toshiya!’

The brutal and endless fight seemed lost. No reaction or acting from Toshiya whatsoever and no one else than Hakuei could possibly reach him in this world. Defeated, the Angel hung his head low but then something changed….. something seemed to happen. The destroyed creature on the ground, Toshiya, lifted up both of his hands just as if he waited for someone to embrace or lifting him up.

‘I can't! As much as I want to! You must stand up yourself!'

The situation proceeded further and it became urgent. Hakuei prepared himself for the worst but when he looked aside, the space next to him was empty!

‘Toshiya!!’

The guy held the knife against Hakuei's throat now while the Angel still leaned against the cold trunk. Hakuei slowly closed his eyes. He spoke to the man of Toshiya’s nightmare.

“I am….”

‘Toshiya, I got trust in you.’

“… not doing this…”

‘We will return together.’

“… for you…”

‘We will create a new future.’

“… but everything…”

‘Because you are loved.’

“… for him.”

Out of reaction, the guy turned around and before he was able to react there was a sharp sound in the air. After one moment of silence his head fell down onto the white, snow covered ground and his body disappeared.

Hakuei, still against the tree trunk, shivered in pure horror. At first he didn’t dare to turn around but then he heard something tossed into the snow, a scythe lying right next to him. Slowly, he moved around and found a figure with a rug cape standing motionless in front of him, the hood covering his face.

Slowly, the snow started to melt and before Toshiya was able to think himself into a new dilemma, Hakuei started to run towards him. The hurt Angel shrieked back and started to run as well in panic and fear but it was too late. The Guardian Angel got him from behind with his strong arms and the broken Angel slumped down to the ground while he started to scream and hit. Hakuei took this as his chance. Now that he had found the real mental body of his protégé, they could return together into heaven. Out of this nightmare, this endless vision of Toshiya’s hurt soul.

Quickly, he touched Toshiya's forehead with his index finger and both disappeared in light.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

‘They are coming back!’

Die kept his position over Hakuei and Toshiya’s fragile, soulless bodies to give them both energy during the hard journey. But the force of their souls returning into heaven and thus into their angelic bodies made it impossible for Die to hold onto them any longer. The energy backfired and Die was tossed back against the wall of Hakuei’s room. He shook his head and the first thing he heard of the returned Angels was a long, tortured scream from Toshiya. Then another hit against the wall followed and Hakuei landed right next to Die on the floor.

During Hakuei’s journey into Toshiya’s mind, his wings had suffered great energy loss so their energy level was quite low and his wings fragile…. The Guardian Angel wrinkled in pain because of his injured wings. Although Angels didn't posses mortal bodies in heaven and thus no human body-feelings or cravings, wings were the only sources to physically feel. Which was really inconvenient for Hakuei right now.

Die moved over to Hakuei, he wanted to steady him but didn’t dare to touch his mental hurt body.

“Holy Lord, Hakuei! Tell me how to help you!”

Hakuei simply shook his head. He was more concerned about the whimpering newborn Angel on Hakuei’s floor right in front of them. Clumsily, he stood up and steadied himself on the wall. He made his wings disappear which only hurt him more and threatened him to slump down to the ground again but Die just got him in time.

“I’ll be fine.” He carked.

“Your wings are far from fine.”

“That can wait. I’ll let you know.” Hakuei nodded at Die and the Cherub Angel understood.

“Thanks very much for your help Die, you saved both our souls.”

The red head smiled and nodded. “Anytime. You call for me if you’re in need of help ne?” And he left Hakuei’s small apartment because the shaking and silently crying figure desperately needed his attention. The blond Angel still felt Die’s energy circling through his immortal body. Die was a powerful Angel, more powerful than himself as a Guardian Angel.

Another sob brought Hakuei back.

The blond Guardian Angel moved closer and he picked up Toshiya with ease and carried him over into his bed. There he crouched himself together, shoulders shaking, bitterly crying to himself. It must have hurt him so much to see this painful experience from earth and living through it again and again.

Hakuei was so glad that he and Die got Toshiya out of it just in time and there he was: A newborn protégé who would hopefully become an Angel in the future. But until then a lot of work had to be done. Right now Toshiya was powerless and not able to do anything, sense anything.

Hakuei moved carefully down onto his bed, only to sit on the edge of it but by the slightest move Toshiya’s body jolted. It was then that the Angel saw all the bruises and scars on Toshiya’s body which was quite unusual. They should have left the moment they’d reentered heaven. He stretched out his arm to touch one of the scars on his back but the Angel moved away as if it caused him pain.

“Don’ touch me!!!” Toshiya yelled in tears.

He pressed his hurt body closer against the wall and grabbed desperately into his black hair with his bruise-covered hands. Hakuei felt helpless and shocked because he didn’t know how to react. He had never been in a situation like that before and he knew that this whole thing would cost him all the strength and power of his immortal life. Strength. That’s what he needed now. And patience, together with tenderness. A very delicate mission. A new mission for a new Guardian Angel like he was.

Another movement made Toshiya shiver. “Leave me alone!”

Hakuei opened his mouth to retard but was afraid of any false word he could possibly say…. God, he has never been a big talker too. Anyway, he tried to make a small move closer on his bed and decided that it was better to talk to Toshiya the normal way, not through thoughts like they used to do during the nightmare.

“Toshiya?” He almost whispered but the young Angel didn’t react. “May I introduce myself?”

Still no reaction. All right, so he tried to ignore him but no matter how Hakuei continued, he would hear him anyway.

“My name is Hakuei.”

A few moments of silence went by. Then....

“… I heard that name before…” Toshiya whispered with his real voice. It made Hakuei happy.

“… and yet I don’t care who you are, where we are and what I am. It’s only another state I will get pushed through.”

The blond Angel wrinkled his brows. This was going to take a looooong time. Hakuei wanted to retard but was kind of speechless when Toshiya started to silently sob again. His delicate shoulders which showed to Hakuei started to shake and with his bony arms he encircled his legs.

Toshiya hadn’t even looked at Hakuei for once. All he felt was numb from the pain, tired from existing. He didn’t care for anything or anybody. He wasn’t motivated to run away, he wasn’t even motivated to do or say a single thing. He just existed somehow… he wanted to sleep again, to forget again, nothing to be there for. Then pictures shot through his mind. Toshiya opened his eyes in shock and he cried out again. Memories! All of them circled around in his head! He shook his head, grabbing his hair again in despair.

“NO! GO AWAY! This pain…. I am in hell! It repeats again and again!!!”

“Toshiya, I’ll be there for you. You don’t have to carry the burden all by yourself.”

Toshiya shook his head. “You brought me back to life…” His voice was trembling. “Why did you do that? To torture myself even more?! I would rather be dead. Eternally dead.”

It was no use. The arriving must have been too much for him. Hakuei remained silent. No matter what he said Toshiya turned it into something negative. So instead of intelligent talking he moved over to Toshiya’s side and before the shy newborn protégé was even able to realize, he felt strong arms encircling his shaking body from behind. The young Angel hold his breath in shock and the next moment he struggled.

“NOOO!” He tried to get rid of the ballast behind him… he couldn’t stand the feeling to get touched. He felt so ugly, so strange.

“Don’t TOUCH ME! LEAVE ME ALONE!…” He cried again. “Please… just leave me…”

And he broke, defeated by the strength holding him. By the warmth holding him.

And Hakuei didn’t care. He simply went on holding him. It was only a simple gesture for him but for Toshiya it was more than he could take.

Hakuei concentrated on the hurt soul, concentrated on feelings he wanted to transmit to Toshiya.…Security, warmth, love… The struggling came to a stop shortly afterwards and his heart seemed to calm down. Hakuei could feel it was well. The anger slowly sliding away... but so did his consciousness at the same time. He had used too much energy today.... His gaze started to get blurry and his eye color changed to white and his body became cold.

Toshiya felt how the strong grip left his body and Hakuei rolled aside the bed and dropped down to the floor. Startled, the young Angel popped up from the bed and was shocked when he saw Hakuei lying unconscious on the floor.

This was the first time Toshiya really looked him into the face.... and he looked kind of peaceful.

Toshiya felt at fault. In panic, Toshiya crawled down to the ground. Hesitantly, he stretched out his hands and carefully he touched Hakuei on his shoulder. Then something quite unexpected happened. Hakuei's fragile, hurt wings appeared but Hakuei stayed unconscious.

Toshiya somehow realized that the wings looked kind of ‘unhealthy’. Feathers started to fall out and the beam became lower and lower. Only by looking at him, Toshiya saw the whole energetic structure of Hakuei’s body. His wings and thus his energy-level was low and started to fade away. He needed help! Somehow!

Call it reflex but Toshiya stretched out his arms. Hesitantly, he lay his right hand onto Hakuei’s back and automatically warmth started to form inside Toshiya’s arms. The young Angel was surprised about the increasing warmth but lay his left hand onto the root spot of Hakuei’s wings as well. Then he concentrated and as strange as it was, Toshiya felt how the increasing warmth left his body and went into Hakuei’s back, into his wings. It took a while but the gray color started to fade and the destroyed wings slowly started to rebuild.... it was a miracle.

Toshiya couldn’t believe what he saw. He healed the destroyed wings although he had never learned or heard of it before. How? Why? Toshiya observed the feathers coming back to life, growing back on their roots and shortly after he felt his work finished, dizziness came over him.

Hakuei slowly opened his eyes but before he was able to realize anything he felt something heavy slumping over his back. His wings had disappeared and instead an exhausted Angel lay all over him. Carefully, Hakuei turned around and caught Toshiya in his arms. He picked him up with ease and brought him back into his bed.

He stared at the sleeping form in his bed.

“Can it be?” He whispered at himself in awe. “… that you healed my wings?” He stretched out his hand and cared the black strands of hair out of Toshiya’s face. Hakuei gasped out loud in surprise when Toshiya had opened his eyes in reflex and hold onto Hakuei’s wrist. This dark eyes beaming at him... alarmed about anything that could possibly happen.

‘You’ve become stronger.’ Hakuei talked to him in his thoughts. Surprised about the voice in his head, Toshiya let go off the wrist and he sat up on Hakuei’s bed.

“Your voice is in my head.” Toshiya said out loud.

‘It is and you can do so too. Try it, thinking into my head.’

Toshiya looked strangely back at Hakuei and thought. ‘I don’t want to.’ And Hakuei had received that thought. So the physiological barrier was broken.

The blond smiled for the first time. ‘If you want to talk to me… all you have to do is thinking with me, talk with me the mental way. You don’t have talk with me the ordinary way. If you only want me to hear what you are thinking, tell me about the way of your feelings.’

‘Is this… normal then?’

‘Oh yes! Some Guardian Angels don’t manage to do that with their protégé for ages. You’re very talented.’ Hakuei seemed kind of happy but Toshiya didn’t reply. Somehow he felt miserable. Was he a freak now?

Hakuei looked back at him. 'Freak? Never!... Toshiya?'

“Don’t say a word. Everything here is strange... I only want to leave. Leaving this place, leaving everything behind me…”

“Why?”

“WHY? You honestly want to know?! All this nightmares then this strange thing with your wings! THIS IS SO UNUSUAL!!!”

Hakuei remembered his healed wings and unfolded them in reflex. They appeared majesty on his back and they shone brightly like they never did before. And Toshiya had to admit that they were really beautiful.

“You really healed my wings.... You are gifted Toshiya.”

The young Angel lifted his hands as if he didn’t want to hear anything. “Stop it, NOW! I don’t want to think or even talk about it! I HAVE NO IDEA!!” He shook his head, close to tears. He bit hard onto his teeth, trying to hold back the anger but he burst.

“I don’t know what this goddamn place is and I don’t care to get to know it. And just for your accord: I never believed in God and I don’t believe in salvation of my soul or whatever is left of me. All I know is grief and evil and I’m sure outside this walls there will be nothing else waiting for me. I don’t care what orders or believes you’re following and I swear that I won’t have anything to do with it! Anybody! Not even you.”

That was his sentiments made clear.

“So do you want to return to were you came from? Have you ever considered that THIS HERE, no matter what it is, is a CHANCE for you to make things better?”

“A little bit too late don’t you think?!” Toshiya was witty and Hakuei knew that discussing with him was impossible.

“It is never to late for anything Toshiya.”

“Why would I listen to you? Tell me one good reason! Maybe I have a choice to be somewhere else? With someone else… or better with no one….”

“Somewhere else you want to be? Then the only choice next to hell is back to earth!”

Toshiya looked back at Hakuei in shock. ‘Then there is a hell.’

“Of course there is! Just like good and bad exists. But you are here in heaven because you deserve to be. You can rise and develop… see it as a chance.”

A dark glare. “I obeyed all my life. Don’t you understand? I am tired of it! I have NO MOTIVATION, for anything! Just leave me alone somewhere where I can rest. And if you’re merciful, end my existence somehow. I beg you to.”

Hakuei closed his eyes before he continued again. “I will never do that because I know what you’re capable of. We’re all tired from time to time but you are strong and I won’t waste you.” It sounded dramatic but it was the truth.

Toshiya didn’t want to hear all that. He turned on his heel and walked to Hakuei’s door. But then without even touching it the key turned round and it flew over into Hakuei's hand. Toshiya turned round in shock.

“Who or what the hell are you?” He almost feared the answer.

“Ah, don’t wish me to hell. I'm just your Guardian Angel. I was it all the time.”

“All the time over?”

“So it is.”

“So that means you knew me on earth.”

“Yes, even on earth I knew you and with your sufferings.”

The newborn Angel couldn't believe it. Many of things went through his mind.

“Tell me: Where have you been in this hours of grief and pain? WHERE?”

Hakuei looked aside. “I was there, believe me. But we are not allowed to interfere in that way.”

“Then what is a Guardian Angel good for? FOR WHAT?!”

Hakuei bit his lip. There were reasons why he wasn't allowed to interfere but it would make no sense to explain it to Toshiya now. That he HAD to make these experiences to make his soul grow. He wouldn't want to hear any of this.

“I would love to answer your questions but please understand that there are things which even I can’t tell you.”

“Then what about my mother?”

Hakuei crossed his arms in front of his chest. He looked back at Toshiya and gestured with his head for him to come back into his room and sit down.

Hesitantly, Toshiya did so.

“A few essential things first?” Hakuei added.

A slight nod.

“Let’s say there is a system…”

Absentminded, Toshiya turned his arms around and he discovered the wide scars on both of his underarms. At the same moment pictures shoot through his head and he grabbed into his hair, closing his eyes. It was still too early for the ‘usual’ stuff so Hakuei stopped talking immediately. Maybe some other time but right now Toshiya still needed rest. A lot of it. But it was the hurt newborn Angel who asked because of Hakuei’s sudden silence.

“Didn’t you want to tell me something?”

“No, well yes, I…”

“You are confused.”

Hakuei was surprised. “What makes you think of that?”

“It was not hard to discover.”

“You know…” Hakuei continued. “I knew you all your life and having you here, really talking to me, getting response from you… it’s totally different from walking next to you like a shadow, many years without being noticed.” He paused. “I’m really glad but can’t deny that being a Guardian isn’t really easy either.”

Toshiya didn’t reply.

“I’ve got an idea. Would it be okay to show you into your own room?”

“My own room?” Toshiya wondered.

“Of course. Everybody needs some private space.”

Toshiya simply nodded.

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

 

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 04

 

There is no world without pain

 

 

 

Toshiya followed Hakuei out of his room and by the first step he made outside, he saw how angelic and majestic this world was. The feeling of comfort and light streamed right through him. Everything was bright and new, fresh and so lively. Within a few moments Toshiya’s doubts were forgotten that this must be heaven.

At the same time he wondered for how long he had been dead? If there were still people on earth recalling him?

The newborn young Angel looked down to his feet and felt his immortal body moving. It was strange to walk and it didn’t feel like the physics he was used to on earth. Everything felt like discovering something new. His senses were more sensitive too. Although he was able to touch things, something was amiss.

“You won’t feel hungry or thirsty.” Hakuei answered as he walked in front of Toshiya. “It is a necessity people need on earth to grow and form their bodies to survive. But here you won’t need such things any longer. As you surely have noticed, your body has got the form like you used to have it on earth. So have I.”

Hakuei suddenly stopped on the long, red carpeted corridor where they walked all along. Toshiya took this as a chance and he looked outside the window. Or more the enormous glass wall which seemed to stretch all over this huge, luxurious building from top to bottom.

“We call it Sky castle.”

“Can you read all my thoughts? What about others?”

“Only if you want them to be read. For strangers it’s harder as they aren’t linked to you like I am. Try to control it. You never know what beings may cross your way....”

Hakuei felt confusion coming from Toshiya and he stopped going deeper on that matter. But there was another thing he just had to tell him. “Ahm… I don’t know if it’s wise to tell you about that now but better now than never. As we had this conversation about eating and bodies… because any of this won’t be any longer a necessity you don’t have to go to toilet… or something compared to that.”

Now Toshiya was even more confused and the same moment Hakuei noticed that he didn’t really get it.

“Okay, I’ll say it banal: No hunger, no toilet, no gender. Maybe you heard of it on earth once. The fact that Angels don’t possess any physiological bodies and therefore no gender as it is known on earth. All beings here are sexless. Of course many Angels look feminine or male but that is just the appearance they love to give themselves because they loved being it on earth.”

Toshiya didn’t give any sign of understanding about what Hakuei just said or if it was strange to him. Honestly, until now he hadn’t even thought about that kind of thing and he surely wouldn’t have but now that it was said it was clear.

“I’m glad you’re taking it so easy.”

“Why should I wonder? It was never an issue.”

Hakuei moved forward as he wanted to pat Toshiya on his head but in reflex the young Angel moved backwards against the castle wall, looking like a startled cat.

Getting used to any contact would take a very long time.

Hakuei had moved back and pointed to the door next to Toshiya.

“This will be your private quarters.” It was only down the same corridor like Hakuei’s. “It’s empty except of the light which always shines through. You can create your own room as you want it to be. It is you private space.”

A nod.

“I’m down the corridor. If you need me just call out for me in your thoughts and I ill be there. Right now… just take your time. Rest a while okay?”

Another nod.

“If you want to enter simply think of it. And other beings can only enter if you allow them too.”

Still just nodding.

Hakuei tried not to show his confusion. First Toshiya had a total breakdown, followed by crying, then he showed anger and despair and now he seemed apathetic. What a development within half a day.

The Guardian Angel feared to leave his new protégé all alone but Toshiya really needed time to think for himself. Sticking together like glue wouldn’t solve anything either. Only the knowledge of always being linked to him eased his tension.

“I will always be there for you. You can come to me for anything okay?”

“Okay.” A quiet response.

“See you later.” Hakuei forced a carefree smile but Toshiya didn’t even notice as he had disappeared into his room.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“It was a hard coming back.”

“So that means Toshiya is really back?”

“He is.... and thank goodness Hakuei too... in one piece. I almost lost both of them but because of Hakuei’s enormous confidence they managed to come back together before it was too late.”

“And how are they?”

“Hakuei was kind of damaged. His wings took the most of it and about Toshiya… well I can’t really tell but I sensed a lot of sorrow and pain coming from him. It won’t be easy for Hakuei. Toshiya needs all his attention now.”

“I hope they will be fine. Knowing that Toshiya is so hurt….”

“I’m afraid the inner desolation is bigger than expected. No wonder after his long absence.”

“Nevertheless I have to see him. I yearned for him for so long!”

“I don’t know if it’s such a good idea…”

“Pleeeeeease Die! I have to! Who knows maybe it’s even good for him?” The younger Angel smiled lovingly. A smile Die could never resist.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

There he stood in his new, empty room. As empty as he was. Creating his own room that was what he got told but he had no idea how to do anything. Was it witchcraft? What kind of powers did he possibly possess? What could he discover in this… land? Calling it heaven, it sounded strange to him. He always had another image of heaven. A place were everybody was supposed to be happy, free of pain and duties. But after hearing all that he got told it sounded just like another system. And if they called this system 'heaven', he didn’t want to know how hell was like.

Toshiya leaned with his back against the wall and slowly glided down to the ground. He rested with his head between his arms and closed his eyes. He was still hurting. So completely fucked up. It was not forgotten and long not over. All the pain and memories were so present like they used to be before all that happened. He wondered if there would ever be an end to all of this thinking, feeling, existing. He shook his head. As long as there was existed there would be pain and he had no idea how to escape that devilish circle.

But when existing was the root of all suffering why were there beings which wanted to help?…. Hakuei…. Toshiya had no opinion or whatsoever about than creature, Guardian Angel, whatever. It seemed that he wanted to help in some way although Toshiya didn’t believe that he did all that for free. For what purpose? What motivation was behind that selfless seeming actions? In the end every living soul did things to satisfy their own existence. And Toshiya was satisfied enough and wanted no more of anything.

And the more he tried to picture his sad existence, the more it depressed him. He wanted to stop thinking but he couldn’t. He had an inkling that all this was the beginning of something very big an no matter how much he hoped to escape…. There was absolutely no way out.

Because in some way he was already dead.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

As soon as Hakuei had closed the door to his own apartment, a slight thought knocked in his head. He had no time to think about Toshiya because Die had called him for a meeting outside the castle in the holy gardens.

He unfolded his wings and flew right through his window down into the large, green garden in front of the enormous castle. It was a majestic garden, full of trees, flowers and small lakes. It was the duplicate of Gods Garden, called Eden.

Hakuei found Die sitting right next to one of the big trees.

“Hey Die.”

“Hakuei! ” Die replied and looked astonished by his sight. “And…. Look at you!”

“What do you mean?” Hakuei settled down next to Die.

“Your Aura of course. You should have seen yourself earlier that day…. man you looked like a wreck. You have been pretty much destroyed. I just wanted to see how you’re getting along.”

“Something really strange happened with Toshiya after you left.”

“What?”

“All I remember was that I hold him in my arms and then I blacked out. I woke only moments afterwards, feeling healing energy streaming through my back and my wings were all renewed.”

Die lifted his eyebrows. “Can it be? Your protégé, a wing healer? As a wing healer already now he’s famous! What a rare and precious gift!”

“But what can I do for him Die?”

“Just be there for him. Because right now he’s totally out of balance. He needs a lot of time and love.” Hakuei nodded. “And confidence. Only then he can work with his powers. After getting stronger the higher ranks are surely more than interested in him. That’ll be good for his personal development.”

“Sounds good.” The blond Angel nodded. “And Die, thanks again for your help today.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“I can imagine you’ve got a lot to do at the borders of heaven. I’m really sorry for calling you away.”

Die shook his head again.

“How is it right now? A lot to do?”

“Well you know we ALWAYS have a lot to do at the borders but a short break will be okay.”

“Even these days?”

“Especially these days. I tell you, something is coming up. I can feel it.” Die suddenly jumped up from the grass. “Got a strange feeling to be needed.”

“Yep. Me too.” Hakuei stood up as well.

“Hizumi’s so gonna kick my ass for leaving all the time…. But there is one more thing I wanted to ask you Hakuei.”

The blond listened.

“You know that ‘he’ yearns to see Toshiya…”

“I can imagine. He may come over as soon as he pleases. Maybe it’ll help Toshiya to feel better.”

“Thanks.” Die smiled but started with another topic out of the blue after receiving a mental message. “These Cherubs…” He shook his. “As if they can’t watch the borders without me.”

Hakuei waved. “See ya.”

“Yes!” And Die flew up majestically into the air. Hakuei looked after him until he had disappeared behind the horizon. It was always a spectacle to see a Cherub fly with its four wings. He as an Guardian Angel only possessed two. Well just enough to fly he always thought.

Hakuei returned to the sky castle and wanted to check back on Toshiya. He passed his own room and the nearer he came he sensed that Toshiya wasn’t in his own apartment any longer. He must have left his room and gone outside. Hakuei was on high alert. Toshiya was still new and not used to anything. God knew what could possibly happen out there!

He tried to get into contact with Toshiya but felt being blocked. Hakuei stopped in his tracks dumbfounded. Could it be that Toshiya already learned how to block psychological penetration? The Guardian Angel paused amazed and thought about what to do to find his protégé.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Toshiya had ignored the calls he’d received in his mind. He simply blocked Hakuei out because he needed time for himself, all alone. What a pain, really.

At the end of the corridor he walked down a huge, golden stairwell and he reached the huge foyer of the sky castle. He was astonished about the splendor. Marble, glass, gold and plants everywhere… it was breathtaking. Curiously, Toshiya looked around. Shy and like a lost kitten he walked around.

The warm sunlight shone through the glass walls into the never ending castle which seemed so huge to him. There was no ice and no coldness....it felt quite good.

Toshiya strolled down several corridors which were all covered with red velvet carpet. He passed doors to his left side while the glass wall on the right side reached all the way down to the ground. From outside it was possible to see all floors at once, it was just enormous.

He stopped right in front of another huge stairwell which reached from the ground high up into heaven. It was one enormous stairwell which connected all floors. He decided to climb it but stopped in his tracks when something strange came floating down the stairs. In reflex he moved aside and waited politely. The being looked like a doll or a princess. Toshiya didn’t want to stare but couldn’t help it as he had never seen something like that in real life before. Realizing that he was staring, he turned his gaze down. The magnificent creature had stopped right in front of him and Toshiya felt how he slowly started to panic. The fact that it didn’t speak at all made it only scarier.

Hesitantly, Toshiya looked up at the doll like face and found the Angel smiling back at him. The creature really tried to ease Toshiya’s tension. Moreover, it suddenly stretched out its hands. Toshiya jolted but remained on his spot when he saw a blue rose forming in the Angel’s hand…. It was magic! The strange Angel made a gesture with his hand and the rose floated over into Toshiya’s hands. It nodded friendly at Toshiya and shy as he was, stuttered an insecure ‘t-thank you’ and the other Angel smiled and continued to float his way down the stairwell.

Toshiya observed the pure and perfect shining Rose in his hands. A slight, warm feeling formed in his heart but before he was able to realize it, the rose began to sparkle and exploded into a thousand shining stars and then it was gone. He gasped in surprise. That was real magic! And the warm feeling became joy and he smiled for a single moment.

He continued his stroll and felt uncomfortable about the other Angel’s starring at him. He wondered if they realized that he was new. It felt really uncomfortable as he never used to have any attention in his human life before. He didn’t know how to handle it so he decided to watch the ground while he passed them. Chatting and laughing, birds singing filled the air... until a voice yelled out behind Toshiya... normally he couldn't care less but it was the choice of words which made him thoughtful.

“Hey large man!”

Toshiya's widened his eyes in shock. Emotions came up but the pictures were still kind of missing. He heard it somewhere before! Slowly he turned around. Then he lied eyes upon a being, beautiful and elegant, its hair angelic auburn and so was his face. He felt at once that there was nothing to be afraid of. On the contrary.

He stuttered. “… excuse me Miss?”

Then the beautiful Angels’ face changed into a sad look. Toshiya was afraid having said something wrong so he asked insecure again. “You called for me?”

“I did.” The female seeming Angel said and now Toshiya realized that the Angel was close to tears. He felt guilty for making him sad.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t intend to be rude I---“

The being shook with its head and smiled. “Allow me to refresh your memory.” And he started to quote. “It’s not just the name of a Princess... it’s the name of an Angel.”

And it popped into Toshiya’s mind and he said it out loud in awe. “Shinya.”

The fragile Angel nodded and tears formed in his eyes. He stormed forward and embraced Toshiya tightly, even kissed him onto his forehead.

Surprised by the intimate contact, Toshiya hold still at first but soon encircled Shinya carefully and hugged him back…. Somehow it felt so ‘right’. Like meeting an old friend after a long long time again. It was so nice and it warmed his cold heart unexpectedly fast.

Shinya touched Toshiya’s hand and kissed him onto his cheek before he moved back and looked into the dumbfounded Angel’s face. Shinya smiled about Toshiya’s reaction and patted him lovingly on his arm.

“Forgive me. I was just so eager to see you again. I’m so happy!” Shinya pulled Toshiya close for a second short hug and moved back again. “I’ve been waiting for you so long!” Shinya said reproachful.

“I didn’t know…” Toshiya stuttered because he still didn’t completely get it. He remembered Shinya but didn’t quite get the whole story.

Shinya took Toshiya’s hand and smiled at him lovingly. “Let’s sit together outside in the garden.”

It was the first time for him to leave the building and he squeezed his eyes shut because of the bright and warm sun. The air was fresh and the smell of flowers was all around them.

The newborn Angel breathed in although it was a human gesture but he had the urge to do so and the moment he had closed his eyes he saw how the past nightmare rebuilt in his mind. He saw Shinya as a child, himself clothed in rags… talking to the little girl with biscuits… Toshiya shook his head. The memories were slowly coming back, bit by bit. Shinya of course felt Toshiya’s tension and lay one arm onto his shoulder.

“Are you okay?”

Toshiya shook his head and asked with closed eyes because he partially remembered.

“You are older now… Why?”

“Because this was the age I died on earth.” Shinya moved back his hand and something bitter swung within his answer. Toshiya on the contrary didn’t dare to ask about something so private. Shinya went on explaining.

“The time both of us grew up was a dark time in Europe Toshiya. A very dark and hard time.”

Toshiya looked down onto his hands. Unwillingly he sensed a lot of sorrow and pain coming from Shinya as well. So even he had to endure pain… somehow it hurt Toshiya imagining Shinya in pain. Why was that? He felt so sorry for Shinya although he didn’t know why.

“Unfortunately pain is what connects us all. But so does love.” Shinya looked up. “Well, it also makes us stronger.” There was confidence in his voice. “And I’m the happiest Angel to have you back here.” He beamed happily at Toshiya and again it warmed his heart. Shinya to him seemed like a being so full of love, it came automatically from him.

“Shinya…. For how long have I been dead?” It was a strange question totally out of context.

“Oh, you don’t know…. Well…” Shinya thought about whether he should tell him about it or not but he did so anyway. “When people die some of them go straight into heaven or hell. But those who suffered a great deal on earth often take longer to arrive here. They often fall into deep shock, something like a nightmare that repeats again and again. You were in some kind of limbus which took longer than my lifetime on earth. But don't be alarmed. Time in heaven goes by faster than on earth, that's another reason why I am older now.”

And Toshiya understood what Shinya was referring to.

“It took them a long time to get you back into heaven and I thank God that they did.”

“They?” Toshiya wondered.

“Another Angel helped Hakuei to get you back into heaven.”

Toshiya looked astonished back at Shinya. “You know this Angel?”

“Oh yes. I guess you can say that.”

“HELLO!”

Toshiya jumped on his seat from the loud welcoming and Shinya slowly pulled his hand back from Toshiya’s arm. He turned around as he had sensed the approaching Angel anyway.

“That was rude of you Die! Just be a little bit more sensitive!”

“What?” Die asked, playing the hurt. Toshiya slowly turned round to look who stood there behind them. He was amazed. It was a huge Angel and a lot of energy emerged from him. He seemed very powerful and mighty. In addition… he had four wings! Not to mention his bright red hair and wide grin on his face. He looked like a nice but funny Angel.

Shinya stood up gracefully. He stretched out his hand and Toshiya took it to stand up as well.

“May I introduce to you the Angel you’ve felt in Hakuei’s room? This is Die.”

“Hello.” Toshiya said shyly. Insecure he looked up at the tall Angel but looked down again when he saw him staring back at him. Shinya pinched into Die’s side and he stopped, making a face. Die murmured to Shinya. “He can't remember me either....” He stretched out his hand. “Hi Toshiya, so good to have you back.”

“Wow what a warm handshake you have.” Die smiled and Shinya got that the was implying something.

^Did you notice?^ Die talked mentally with Shinya.

^Not all of it. Want to tell me later?^

^Sure.^

“I think I will escort Toshiya to his room, just in case. Knowing Hakuei he must be terribly worried.”

On their way through the castle, Toshiya started to speak. “Do you live in the same castle or somewhere else?”

“Of course I do live here. There is only this castle.” Shinya stopped in front of Toshiya's rooms. “You can always come to me and talk to me about anything okay? Don’t forget that! Simply think about me and you will find my apartment.” Shinya smiled.

“Thank you for your kindness.” Toshiya said shyly. Shinya shook his head and hugged him closely in response.

“Thank God you are back.” Shinya whispered at him and again Toshiya felt that these words meant much more than he ought to know yet.

“I’m glad that we have met again.” Toshiya said and it was the nicest thing Shinya could have ever imagined. He quickly kissed Toshiya on his cheek before he spread his wings and with a wave he disappeared through the huge window in the glass wall.

And again it had left a warm feeling in his heart.

Chapter Text

Song to this chapter: 03 – ‚Love’ did you say?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_cTq5LivhQ&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC&index=4

 

 

 

† Curse named human †

 

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 05

 

'Love' did you say? I’ll cut down my wings before they will open

 

 

 

Die looked at his fellow Cherub Hizumi in disbelieve. Not only that they had a lot to do at the boarders in heaven these days. Adding to their important job, rumors started to come up and this never meant any good.
As guardians of the gates to heaven, Cherubim were always the first concerned with changes in their world or the worlds outside. Thus it was their job to pay special attention and to report it to higher authorities.

“Let's hope that it's only a dead end. We have to be careful not to cause an uproar... at least not yet. There will be enough time to bother the Archangels with it.” Die added but Hizumi didn't turn off his glare. “And don’t look at me like that!” He added with a grin. Hizumi's white eyes still gave him the creeps although they were friends since ages now.

Hizumi though gave a short laugh, knowing that fact but doing it nevertheless. Then he became serious again. “Another similar rumor and we have to report it... you know that.”

“I know.” Die said. “Until then, let's keep an eye and special ear on everything.”

“You bet we do.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Heaven was always warm, full of light and love but somewhere in this castle, a broken newborn Angel sat all alone in his room and felt cold. Although there was no coldness around him... it came from within.

No memories of kindness or warmth were left. Except of one person ... Shinya..... but what to make out of Hakuei, Toshiya didn’t know. He seemed to take care of Toshiya but to what extend?

He distrusted Hakuei. Not because he seemed like a bad Angel but because Toshiya never knew any better. No one did anything for free. What was his reward after he was done with Toshiya? What was his selfish reward to make him act the way he did? And where was this praised free will everybody spoke of and yet Toshiya was captured in another system? Couldn't he just end it now without any interference? It was his goddamn broken soul and he should have all the rights to decide what to do with it. And not some kind of God or Guardian Angel who had crossed his path somehow.

I am against this rules

A half dead, half alive reflection in the mirror. Pale skin and lifeless eyes. That's how he saw himself in the mirror, that's how he recalled to have looked like on earth.

I can not follow that model

Physics were a strange thing. A body was a strange thing and there was always more damage done by it than any good. In every world and aspect. Toshiya lifted his right arm and looked at it.

You created differences

I created differences myself. He looked at the scars. They looked so new although they existed only in his memories. Here in heaven physics didn't exist in a human way. But the pain nevertheless felt real to him.

Dear God, look what we've done with the choice you've given us

 

With one fast movement of his hand, Toshiya made a sign and on his astral body a long cut appeared right over his white chest. And he did it because he was able to do so. Wishes do become true and yet it didn't bleed, of course not. How should it? There was no mortal feeling of pain but he fantasized it. Drowned in it.

Destroyed by what you create

The 'imagined' skin hung down from his wound and the scars on his wrists started to bleed.

It devoured him. Pulsated and threatened to break free from deep within.... Until the revelation set in. He felt free for a single moment before he became all miserable again.

He was hurting.

But maybe this was the only way to endure all of this.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Hakuei stopped in his tracks when he felt pain rushing through his immortal body with a loud heartbeat. Sunken into a fantasizing moment, he awoke from the pain immediately afterwards.

And he knew exactly whose pain it was.

He unfolded his wings and returned to the castle as quickly as he could. Running up the corridor to Toshiya's room, he fantasized about everything his protege could have possibly done. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to leave him all alone shortly after his arrival.

His concerns confirmed immediately after he had entered the room. Lifeless, like a doll cut from its threats, Toshiya lay unconsciously on the floor. Hakuei dropped to his knees and shook the young Angel on his shoulders.

“Toshiya! Hey!“

The whole scenery was grotesque.

Toshiya, lying in this empty, sterile, white room. Only his half long black hair making contrast to it. There was no blood because Toshiya imagined the wounds himself, everything happened in his head.

Hakuei called out for him, over and over again but to no avail. Panic set in and the immense pressure of guilt for leaving him alone became unbearable.

He felt like the worst and most incapable Guardian Angel ever. Suppressing his fear, he picked up the motionless body and hold Toshiya close to him. Only now he realized that the living energy was slowly fading away... and they had been there before. Bad memories came up.

He carried the young Angel down into the sunny garden. Honestly, he couldn't think of anything better. On the grass he hold onto him tightly, clawed into him with tension. In utter helplessness, Hakuei rested with his chin on Toshiya's head. Trying to reach him, feel him. Desperate for him, misleadingly beautiful to the strangers passing by.

Hakuei transmitted spiritual energy through his touch while he called out for him again and again. But there was no response. Desperation mixed with tears. A long forgotten human emotion, normally impossible to feel in heaven.

 

'I should have never left.... I will never leave you again.' An inwardly prayer.

 

And he was heard.

Warmth started to stream through the lifeless little doll again. In mere relief, Hakuei sighed deeply not letting go of the young Angel. He murmured again and again how happy he was to have him back, he literally annoyed Toshiya out of his coma. And an annoyed growl was the answer. Hakuei couldn't think of anything better. He hugged him tight.

“... Hakuei?” Toshiya whispered still dazed.

“I'm here.”

It was then that the young Angel slowly started to realize in what position he was in. Never been used to any body contact before, Toshiya felt awkward and uneasy. He tensed and slowly moved out of Hakuei's embrace.

“Let's go home.” Hakuei said.

“There is no home for me.”

“Then what do you intend to do?”

“Honestly? I wish to end existing.”

That was pretty hard. Even for Hakuei. But he swore to himself to protect Toshiya, come what may. And he could be stubborn too.

“I won't give up on you.”

“You better do.”

“And what about Shinya? Or all the other future friends and funny experiences you will make?”

Toshiya closed his eyes and held onto his head as if it was a burden on his slim shoulders. “Look, I don't care.”

“But-”

In anger, Toshiya interrupted Hakuei. Really, which part of no didn't he understand?

“All right I get it. You are here to play the Samaritan because of some energy you call God. Honestly, I don't know what's in there for you but you can leave me out of it. Starting from now on. Just let me go. I'm not interested in any new experiences or life or whatsoever. Everything I started only brought me pain and suffering.”

Toshiya stood up from the ground and looked down on Hakuei. “In the end we are all alone and you know it and that's why you are clinging onto me.”

Hakuei's face remained calm. He stood up as well and approached Toshiya. “So this is your opinion of heaven and me? I wish it would be so easy.” A pause to sort his mind.

“There are a lot of things to discover but you're just plain ignorant and full of prejudice. Although you don't care about anything, just think ONE moment about the Angels who where involved into your saving so far.”

Usually Hakuei didn't play with such dirty tricks but it was the truth and it had to be told. Toshiya didn't run, cry or say anything. Automatically, Hakuei's gaze wandered down and he discovered the long scars on Toshiya's forearm. They were there because Toshiya wanted them to be. Self inflicted on his immortal body through willpower. Whether he was aware of the fact or not, Hakuei couldn't tell.

“What do you hate so much? Life? God? Because you do send messages to him.” He pointed at Toshiya's arms.

“I don't send messages.”

“You do. Hurting your body hurts God. He knows and feels it too.” Hakuei paused, surprised about the outburst himself but he couldn't hold it back no longer. Being responsible for someone didn't mean to nice-talk everything. “But,” Hakuei added, “if you start to show love you will receive it. I can guarantee you. It's the law of nature.”

Toshiya glared back at him with an unreadable face. And with that face, Hakuei could never read what was going on inside of him. Adding to that, since today the young Angel even learned how to block him from his mind. But Hakuei wasn't upset about his protege, rather positively surprised about the mental strength.

“Whatever.” Toshiya pouted and involuntarily looked back at Hakuei's wings when he unfolded them. His gaze rested on them, automatically. Drew him in...

“Something about my wings?” Hakuei asked and Toshiya slightly jolted for being discovered for staring too long.

“Don't get me wrong. I just never saw them so close before.”

“What do you mean? Of course you did! You healed my wings the moment I'd brought you back to heaven.”

“What?! I don't even know how to do such a thing!”

“You must have touched them or something because when I woke up again, I was healed.”

Utter confusion about the unknown fact. Toshiya slightly recalled that day.... Hakuei on the ground, him touching Hakuei's back.... but healing wings that way?

“Are you sure?”

“Without you I would be gone by now.”

Hakuei passed Toshiya and the young Angel's gaze lay on the beautiful shining wings. The illuminating colors extending from it... only he was able to see it. And although he hated to admit it, it was kind of cool seeing colors of other Angel's wings and getting their emotions at the same time.

“Thank you, for saving me back then.” It was Hakuei who spoke up and he looked back with his piercing glare, over his shoulders at Toshiya, motioning him to follow him back home.

And for goodness' sake he did.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

He was alone at night. Tossing in his sleep. After surviving day after day, Toshiya dreamt strange things at night. Voices talking to him, seeing colors and lights but nothing really made sense. It only disturbed his mind and in the morning he thought too much about the words he heard.

'Develop your spirit... enter a new life, make experiences...'

 

'Experience cannot be taken away from you, it makes you wise and stronger...'

 

'But why? What's in there for me?'

 

'Love.'

Toshiya had no idea who sent him this dreams but everything automatically made sense which was strange. After another sleepless night, he dared to ask Hakuei about some things.

“Hakuei, there are some things I wanted to ask....”

“Sure.”

“Something about how everything works and so on....”

“Hn.”

“You said there is a hell...”

A nod.

“How is it?”

“Well, I've never been there. Only heard things. Angels never go there.... well except of one fallen Angel.”

“Who is he?”

“Lucifer. You might have heard of him from the Bible but most of it is bullshit really.”

“You know him personally?”

“No but he used to be one of us. A Guardian Angel before he became mightier and higher in rank... and then he fell. No matter what, don't be afraid because no Demon can enter heaven without permission and it's the other way round for Angels with hell.” Toshiya listened silently as it became quite interesting.

“There are different Angel classes but you will hear of them in school soon. The other day you met Die, he's a Cherubim, easily recognized at their four wings. One class above the Cherubim are the Seraphim, they have six wings and are under Angel Metatron's command. At the same level as the Cherubim are the Archangels of the four elements. You will meet them at the next heaven meeting.”

A nod, followed by another question. “But what about hell?”

Hakuei wondered about Toshiya's thirst of knowledge but happily obliged. “It's classical. That's where the bad souls go to. But they can atone for what they have done and work themselves up the classes through reincarnation on earth. And to keep peace with hell, there are often meetings between the bosses from heaven and hell, making out contracts and so on.”

“Hakuei, have you been to earth as well?”

“Sure but a long time ago. Until I decided to become a Guardian.”

Hakuei felt that it was still too early to talk about that chapter of his life. He changed topic. “Soon there will be the next heaven meeting....”

“For what?”

“It's a seasonal meeting to discuss new arrangements, meeting new Angels and so on....”

But Toshiya wasn't entirely convinced if he really wanted that.

“There you will see the higher ranked Angels. Keep your eyes open on that day. Many interesting beings will cross your way.”

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

 

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 06

 

Feeling your sadness makes me drown in pain

 

 

 

 

Hakuei tried to talk to Toshiya a lot, trying to open him for the world he now lived in, the good things and possible adventures that could follow. He tried everything to bring happiness back into his life... but with very little success. More voluntarily than willingly, Toshiya listened to him but feedback was almost non existing. And although it was frustrating, Hakuei did his best. When Toshiya closed up completely, he would ask Shinya for help and he always happily obliged. Cheering the depressed Angel up with his mere presence.... it was Shinya's nature.

 

So the day before official heaven meeting with the Archangels, Hakuei sent Toshiya out to go to Shinya's. He suggested to ask Shinya if he wanted to join them for the meeting tomorrow… Not that Shinya and Die would attend anyway but Hakuei's motives were mere ulterior. These days Hakuei felt like pushing the young Angel even further out of reach. Every step he took seemed to frighten him.

 

What Hakuei didn't tell Toshiya was, that there would be a time in near future when the two of them will be separated again. All young Angels will be send down to earth to accomplish certain tasks, like taking care of their own, new protege.... but seeing Toshiya shying back from any development, scared him. Honestly, Hakuei was afraid that within the first minutes on earth, Toshiya would be swallowed alive. He was not ready yet. Not ready for any kind of responsibility.

Shinya welcomed Toshiya as lovely as he always did. It seemed like the door opened and the sun was directly shining at him. The world seemed like a better place instantly and imagining the two of them together, they must have looked like an abstract painting where the grey colors merged with the yellow-orange ones.

A little smile crept over Toshiya's lips when Shinya guided him inside to take a seat.


The living space Die and Shinya shared seemed like a dream. Cozy, warm and full of flowers. It was such a kind of place where nothing seemed forced but flowed naturally.

“It is so nice of you to visit me. You must come more often!”

“I will try.” Toshiya nodded and looked around, when he saw the oversized bed with two pillows in it. He knew Die but missed the part of the two of them actually being together.

“You are rooming with someone else?” Toshiya wondered.

Shinya looked dumbfounded. “Of course, with Die.”

“So.... you and him, like-”

“He's my soulmate. I can’t even imagine a day without him.”

There was more meaning behind his words than Toshiya could possibly imagine. But what he did feel was the strength coming from within Shinya. He loved him very much, that Toshiya could tell.

“Very often I'm alone because Die works so much and I'm working too....”

“What is your work?” Toshiya had an sincere interest in it.

“It's not so easy to describe..... I'm leaving when I'm called. But I love my job. It's a very precious one.”

“So you are not an Guardian Angel like Hakuei?”

“Me? Oh no! That's not my profession. Guardian Angel's have to be tough, I'm too sensible for this kind of work.” Shinya silenced, thinking about something. “You know what? I will take you with me to work today.”

“WHAT? Is it even allowed?”

“Only for you.” Shinya stood up and concentrated on something invisible. “Okay, there we go. We have to hurry. I will take you with me through the air as it is a place you can only go to by flying.”

Carefully he hold Toshiya around his stomach and then he unfolded his wings. Through the window they left the castle. Soon it became smaller and smaller until they could see it no more. The speed must have been magnificent as they seemed to enter a completely different sphere.

Shinya became slower and they landed in a place similar to the garden they had in front of the castle but something was different there. The whole place seemed holy, spiritual... Toshiya was even afraid to say a word out loud.

Gracefully, Shinya walked through the garden and he gestured Toshiya to follow. It was too silent at this place. No birds, no voices and no other living being around.

Shinya stopped in front of a huge oak tree. Its roots and branches were so huge that they reached up into spheres, Toshiya couldn't even possibly think of. But more strange was the fact that the tree seemed 'alive' like a living being.

Silently, the young Angel observed what was going on. Shinya gestured Toshiya to wait on his very spot while he flew up the tall tree. Far up in the sky he remained standing in the air without even moving his wings which should have been quite impossible. But the air around them has changed, Shinya seemed to have changed.

Energy filled the place and it was so mighty that it seemed to fill Toshiya up from within. An inner peace crept through his whole angelic body, a peace he had never felt before. This energy came from the highest source and it felt like 'being born' there.

Slowly, he opened his eyes when he realized Shinya standing in front of him again. In his arms he hold a little bundle, not yet fully alive. It was a fragile baby, tiny, breakable and so pure. It was totally newborn.

Shinya communicated with Toshiya the mental way.

^This is a newborn soul. Before it gets born to earth, I will tell him about God and the secrets of heaven, the Angels and life. It will give them hope because the very first words to a newborn should be full of hope and love.^

Shinya closed his eyes and he lowered his head to the baby's ear. Incomprehensible words, whispered so fast that Toshiya couldn't even understand them. He observed the unmoving child and realized something funny: The curve which normally formed in the middle of the upper lip of every human was missing. Shinya continued his whispering and suddenly came to a stop. Thoughtfully, Shinya moved his index finger over the child's mouth and over the upper lip of the baby.

^And now you must forget everything I've told you.^ Shinya transmitted to the baby and Toshiya heard this words as well. And after Shinya removed his finger, a curve was formed in the middle of the upper lip. Now it all made sense. Every human being was taught the secrets of heaven, the knowledge of God but forgot them again to make own experience on earth.

Shinya lifted up the baby and it started to float on its own. Still asleep, it slowly started to dissolve and then the baby was gone.

“Now it gets reborn into the human world.” Shinya said out loud again. “I'm done for today.”

“Okay.... but only one child?”

“There are others like me but only this soul was create to be taught by me today.”


Together they left the place again and back at home the young Angel couldn't help himself but to wonder what this was all about. He became interested and asked.

“Does this job have a name or how are Angels like you called?”

“I'm an Angel of Life.”

Toshiya looked amazed. “Wow, that sounds very important. But it suits you so well.”

“Thank you, you're so sweet.”

It was great to see Toshiya warming up. Shinya was certain that they will all be very proud of him in the near future. Although he mighty not talk a lot but what he said and asked was interesting and mature.

Toshiya certainly left with a better mood than he had arrived earlier that day. Shinya assured him that they would be going to the meeting together and Toshiya seemed happy about it. He gave him a firm hug before they said their good bye's.

Walking back into his room, Shinya jolted when he made out a presence in his room.

“Die!”

It was unusual for the Cherub to be back at this time of the day. What was even more unusual was his action. Instead of saying something he stepped closer and took Shinya into his arms. He hold him close, rested with his head on Shinya's shoulder. Motionless yet flustered, the younger Angel encircled Die's broad back and hugged him tight.

“Die, what's wrong?”

“I just wanted to see you.”

Shinya couldn't help it and smiled. “You’ve always been a bad liar.”

Die didn't comment on that. He remained quiet before he started speaking again. “There are rumors…”

Shinya moved back immediately to get a better view of him. “Rumors? Why haven't you told me earlier?”

“Because we hoped that they would stop.”

“Are you allowed to tell me?”

Die shook his head. “Better not. Just to keep you safe.” He breathed in the sweet scent of Shinya's hair before he moved back again. The look on Shinya's face said it all.

“Okay, one last kiss before I go…”

His words didn't give him away but the the bitter taste of his lips did. Die was full of sorrow and the need in his deep kiss was tangible. The urge in his grip and the way he let go of Shinya again... it was frightening.

“See you later then.” Shinya said and Die smiled back at him before he closed the door.

Concerned was an understatement. Die never did that before, stopping by for comfort and leaving again. Shinya had never seen him that absentminded and concerned before. Knowing, that Die was afraid of something concerned Shinya only more. Die was a Cherubim, a strong Angel who knew about war, damage and loss.... What was it that Die couldn't possibly tell him?

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Before the door opened, he awoke from the feeling of him returning to his room. Hakuei opened his eyes and moved into a sitting position on his couch. He looked to the front door with his sleepy eyes. Entering, Toshiya looked straight back at him but turned his gaze down shyly after realizing that he was expected.

“You're back.“ A sleep-drunken voice greeted him. Still drowsy, he swung himself up from the couch and steadied himself the next moment at the wall... was that a slight smile on the younger Angel's face?

“I thought about something,” Hakuei started again, “I want to show you something.”

The tone of his voice and every move he made seemed so self confident and strong. Toshiya realized it for the first time. He himself has never been like this and he admired souls who were capable of it. Hakuei surely wasn't as weak as he was.

A nod as an answer.

“It's far away but I'm sure you'll enjoy it.”

He unfolded his wings and there Toshiya saw it again.... the energy structure of his wings, the colors and moods swinging within. Hakuei wasn't aware of the fact that Toshiya could read so much in Angel's wings but he knew about the healing part of course.

Toshiya felt drawn to them.... he was a wing healer so he had a thing for wings. Any kind of wings. And these shone very bright. In reflex, he stretched out his hand and carefully touched the bow of one wing. Hakuei stopped in his motions and shuddered. The touch was full of uncertainty but tender, it was enough to be recognized. Understandable because the fragile nerve system was the root of any kind of feeling an Angel possessed.

He wanted to move away from the touch, resisting it but he couldn't. Glued to the spot he didn't move and the sensation ran through his angelic body. Whether his young protege was a tease or simply plain innocent, Hakuei didn't know but guessed for the last. Not only were wings high sensitive, Toshiya as a healer doubled the sensation.

“Your wings are beautiful-”

Startled, Toshiya looked up when his hand was pressed together in between Hakuei's large hand. Eyes, almost as black as the night glowered down on him. There was something unreadable on Hakuei's face and Toshiya felt guilty immediately for what he had done. But why the older Angel was slightly panting, he couldn't tell.

"You shouldn't do that Toshiya.”

A fearful nod and hurt in his eyes. Hakuei realized how threatening he must have seemed and let go of Toshiya's hand immediately, a cheap excuse leaving his lips.

“Wings are sensitive. You better you only touch them when healing. Like you did the other time when my wings were damaged....”

Asking, Toshiya looked at his Guardian Angel, not getting what he meant. Fact was that he couldn't recall the day when he healed Hakuei's wings. His mind was far too damaged to remember that fact.

“You better don't tell anyone about your healing-gift. It's very rare and special.”

It felt good. A praise and the knowledge of possessing something of value.

“Will I have wings too one day?”

“Of course. It'll just take some time. Wings have to be 'earned' you see... but you will find out soon enough.”

Hakuei offered his hand, ready to go, showing Toshiya the place he had in mind... but the young Angel didn't take his hand. His brow furrowed and he asked.

“Why is it that everything in life has to be earned and hard to do?”

That was a quick change of moods.

“Why is there no freedom of heart, why?”

“We have to move on. It's the only way to overcome things.”

“You mean moving in circles and never being able to break out of it? Slaves for eternity?”

Hakuei shook his head. He stepped closer to Toshiya but the young Angel moved back, holding his arms protectively in front of his chest.

“Why is it that you see everything so dark?”

“You're honestly asking me this? I never knew any better-!” His words were cut off when Hakuei packed him on his arms tightly.

“Then DO something about it! Not for me or the system but for yourself!”

Toshiya looked back at Hakuei with his lips pressed together firmly. “It hurts.” Was all he muttered and Hakuei finally let go off his arms. Toshiya turned around immediately and left Hakuei's apartment.

The Guardian Angel touched his forehead in desperation. Everytime he thought to come one step closer to Toshiya, he takes two steps back. Every little, wrong word fatal and with big consequences. And there seemed no way how to approach him correctly. Not with tender or firm words...

Toshiya was born and died in total pain. This was all he ever knew. He needed more time. Time healed all wounds... although it leaves the souls stained for eternity. Hakuei knew that. Better than anybody. But this task would cost him his life, he knew it.

Chapter Text

Song to this chapter: 04 – The Sky Castle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPD9_p7Xwok&index=3&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

 

 

† Curse named human †

 

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 07

 

Welcome to the meeting of creatures


 

It was in the middle of the night when Shinya looked over to his bed. It was not his lover sleeping in there as he was still at work. Earlier that evening a fragile bundle returned to Shinya's place, as sad and angry as he could be. It took Shinya quite some time and good words to calm him down again... and now and then he touched Toshiya's cheek, patted his head and took him in his arms. And Toshiya needed it, Shinya felt him hunger for warmth, love and protection. He absorbed it like a sponge, subtly but he did.

Now and then, Toshiya tossed uneasily in his sleep. A touch on his head or shoulder would calm him down immediately. Shinya watched over his sleep, granting him the peace and rest he needed.


The quarrel he had with Hakuei again caused Shinya concern. He knew Hakuei and he guessed how complicated Toshiya could be. They were both two headstrong Angels and both with individual problems. They had yet to find a middle course where they both could meet.

Shinya, being a sensitive Angel, felt Toshiya's inner battle. He was torn between logic and hurt feelings. He was still so very deeply hurt that it was still impossible for Hakuei to get through to him. And every time the young Angel freaked out or hurt, it was backfired straight to Hakuei. In the end, Hakuei carried the double amount of pain and they ended up both hurt. It was complicated. And it was hard for Shinya not to interfere. He loved Toshiya, more than anybody could imagine and yet he was forbidden to any more advise. It was Guardian Angel business and Shinya was just a friend.

A whisper through the moonlit room. “I'll always love you Toshiya. I want you to know that.”

He cared the black strands of hair out of his face and covered Toshiya's shoulder with his comforter. Then he stood up, ready to get comfortable on the couch but murmurs made him stop. Shinya wondered if Toshiya spoke in his sleep. He knelt down in front of his bed and Toshiya really murmured words. Incomprehensible.


“… loosing…”


Shinya narrowed his eyes. Did he mean Hakuei? Maybe.

 

“… gone… he’s he is…”


What did he mean by that?

 

“… won’t feel… him anymore…”


What was Toshiya dreaming about? His choice of words pointed to no positive contents. If it was Hakuei he couldn't tell. All he knew was that it was impossible to divide a protégé from his Guardian but what did he possibly mean? No matter what, they had to wait and see.

But first, the long awaited heaven meeting would follow. And things always used to change after that.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was one hell of a morning after one hell of a night. Hakuei couldn’t get any rest and today of all days was the important meeting of Angels, especially the new arrivals. Hakuei felt sleepy and weak when he climbed up the stairs to Shinya's apartment.

He didn't need to ask where Toshiya was, he knew. Or probably guessed right. The door opened almost automatically, like he has been awaited.

“He's still asleep.” Shinya whispered.

“Thank you Shinya, for your precious help.”

“Hakuei, he was a mess last night.”

“I know and it's eating me alive. I'm very sorry. All I can say is that I'm doing my best.”

Hakuei looked over Shinya's shoulder into the room. “I need him to be with me. The meeting will start soon.”

“I know.” Shinya stepped aside and let Hakuei in. The Guardian Angel passed the couch where Die had the pleasure with and went into the bedroom where a little, curled up bundle lay soundly asleep in the comfortable bed. It was so fragile to see that it almost hurt him. Toshiya usually tossed in his sleeps, screaming and crying from nightmares but here he seemed to be peaceful. And Hakuei recalled what Die once told him '...Shinya touches Toshiya in a way you never could...'.


Hakuei lifted the fragile Angel up easily and held him close to his chest. His newborn Angel and child. So very warm in his arms and yet so far out of reach.... He breathed in Toshiya's well known scent and in that moment he swore to be brave and strong for both of them.

His breath caught slightly when he felt the Angel snuggling closer in his sleep. A smile formed on Shinya's lips when Hakuei passed him.

“I'm sorry for all the trouble Shinya.”

“You two will never be trouble.”

“Thank you. For everything.”

Shinya nodded.

“See you at the meeting later.” And he strolled down the corridor to his own home.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 


With an unknown feeling of inner peace, Toshiya awoke by the tease of sunlight on his face. Dazzled, he kept his eyes shut and smelled the familiar scent around him... Hakuei.... Slowly he opened his eyes and found Hakuei's sleeping face on the same level as his. He looked exhausted and must have lay down next to Toshiya after he fetched him earlier this morning.


And Toshiya felt sorry. Guilty for seeing him lying there obviously tired and exhausted. Hakuei was always there for him, he knew that. But maybe he couldn't stand to be cared for when he didn't care for himself... thinking about their last quarrel, Toshiya couldn't even fully recall what was it all about. He felt being at fault.

Toshiya remained lying in front of Hakuei and didn't move. Automatically, his eyes started to wander down the bare, muscular arms and he realized that they were all covered with colorful tattoos. Toshiya had never seen anything like this before. In fact, it was the first time for Hakuei to show them open as well.

Hakuei's black hair and silver strands hung playfully over one side of his face and touched the soft mattress. They made a beautiful contrast to his colorful skin, marking him as one of a kind. Hakuei, now for the first time, seemed somehow special... or different.

Hesitantly, Toshiya touched one silver lock and felt its softness. When he looked up at Hakuei's face he realized a pair of dark eyes looking back at him, motionless observing him. Startled, he let go off the hair and moved slightly back from the now realized intimate contact. Hakuei remained lying though and simply kept on observing his protege.

“Good morning.” The well known husky voice said and Toshiya felt all stupid when he replied in a low tone. If he was all right, Toshiya honestly couldn't tell. He felt rested which confused him but what about Hakuei?

“I'm sorry, for maybe not being what you need.” Hakuei started

And something inside of Toshiya broke and he shook his head vehemently. “Please don't. I don't know what I need myself.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Shinya and Die waited together in front of the huge hall were the meeting would take place. Toshiya who arrived earlier was busy observing the hundreds of Angels which arrived. Every being seemed so unique and beautiful, the way how some of them moved, some seemed human and some didn't. It was a feast for the eyes.

The crowd silenced when the two enormous portals opened. The Angels started to enter the hall, some by foot, some flying. Happy chatter and excitement was all around them.

Hakuei walked behind Toshiya while the young Angel followed Shinya. From behind he whispered. “Don't be afraid. Everything's gonna be okay.”

The hall was magnificent.

And huge was an understatement. All in dark blue and silver colors, the ceiling seemed to have no end and the benches out of dark blue velvet arranged in scales formed like a giant half moon around the center of the hall.

A smile crept over Hakuei's lips when he saw Toshiya all excited. He almost looked like a child.

They took their seats and the feeling of joy changed to a feeling of panic when Toshiya realized that more and more Angels were gathering in the hall. He had never been with so much living beings together in one place.

Next to his seat a warm hand grasped for Toshiya's and hold it tight. Hakuei's gaze rested on the new arriving Angels. Low murmurs filled the halls, anticipation before the great show. But there was something else in the air, the older Angels could tell.

From outside, long steady steps halled down the priceless dark marble hall and all the Angels silenced from the noise alone. Steps, obviously driven by duty, power and energy. The echo became louder until the Angel became visible in the great hall and he took a step up onto the podium, his calf-long hair swinging with every move he made. His face was stern and with a loud noise he dropped the heavy book onto its console. It was silence at once.

A second Angel with crazy pink hair entered.

Hakuei slowly let go of Toshiya's hand and he moved forward in his seat to observe the scenery quite interested. And so seemed Die and Shinya. Something was definitely going on....

Toshiya looked back at the two mighty Angels who were caught up in a private conversation. The Angel with the very long hair didn't seem to like it though. He tried to end the conversation and that was when the murmurs from the audience started again. With one stern glare at the audience, they all silenced at once. He then turned his attention back to the pink haired Angel who stormed out of the hall immediately, closing the doors without being touched.

Toshiya was awestrucked by such authority, the others not amused. A voice started.

“Welcome you, the visible and invisible…” He had a strong but nice voice. “For those who arrived in heaven just recently, I want to introduce myself: I am Kami, the Archangel of Water. And you've seen hide, Archangel of Fire. I want to excuse ourselves for the uncommon start. If you have any questions, please ask them at the end of this meeting. As the rest of the Archangels will follow later, let's begin.”

Kami looked down onto his book, the pages started flipping wildly on its own and stopped moments afterwards. He wanted to say something out loud when the doors opened a second time. With a slightly frustrated face he looked back at his late arriving colleagues.

Hide entered the room at first, followed by a small creature with spiked, blond hair whom was followed by a mysterious floating creature with a ridiculous wide ball gown.

“The Archangel of Fire, hide.” Kami's voice echoed through the hall. “And the Archangel of Wind, Kyo.” It amused Toshiya. He had to think about wind when he saw the Angel entering the hall. “The Archangel of Earth, Mana. Now we are complete.”

The Archangels took their seats behind Kami, facing the audience.

“Attention please!” Kami shouted. “I'd like to start with some new arrangements in heaven. Afterwards we will listen to your questions.”

The anticipation was palpable.

“The last meeting of the 'Highest Sphered Angels' ended today and many things have been discussed and decided. The issue about the project of ‘Room sharing’ has finally come to an end. From now on, Angels linked with each other must share their private rooms due to space and practical reasons.”

Kami wanted to go on but the news seemed so surprising that the talking between Angels made it impossible for him to be heard.

“Which means….” Still no one listened. “WHICH MEANS!” The talking died down. “From now on in each apartment, two souls will live and work together. And I'm talking about the connected ones of course. No exceptions will be made. No one will move together with another just out of fun or sympathy. We are optimistic about the personal progress of each soul.”


No one dared to comment on it loudly.

“Second issue: The journey of the youngest Angels down to earth for their testing period. The mighty council decided that out of security reasons, young Angels will be guarded down to earth and later up into heaven again by the 'Angels of Revenge'.”

An uproar went through the audience. That was a first. Toshiya looked over to Hakuei who tried to hide his astonishment while Die looked as composed as he should be.

“So the rumors are true!!!” An unknown Angel from the back row shouted out loud.

Kami looked up with his piercing eyes, beaming at the Angel from the back row. He looked really frightening with his glare. His whole appearance and personality showed that he was never an Angel to make fun with.

“Rumors always exist! Often they are false, made up by frightened souls. This fear makes us weak.” A moment of silence. “I will only discuss rumors if you can prove that there is something true behind it!”


No one dared to say a word although there were surely enough unanswered questions. The Cherubim who heard of the rumors first at the boarders remained silent on their seats among the Angels. They would never talk in the open, only when asked.

Kami closed his book and stepped down from the platform.

“I want to make space for all the precious young beings who arrived only recently here in heaven. In the name of God, the higher sphered Angels and the whole Angel population, I bid you welcome. A heartwarmingly applause to all the new arrivals in heaven! Welcome home, proteges!”

The warmth left his angelic body and his soul felt like slipping away. Toshiya felt like dying on his very seat, the applause echoing only hollow in his head. Hakuei, who got the change of moods immediately. Took Toshiya's hand again, leaning into him and whispered.

“No one's gonna harm you and you are not alone. There are other new Angels as well. Just tell them your name, that's all. I will be right with you okay?”

Toshiya shook his head in panic. It was impossible, simply unbearable. All these eyes lying on him.

Kami looked over the rows of Angels and waved with both hands to come down to him. “All the new arrivals, please come down.”

Insecure, here and there Angel's stood up from their seats. Some jumping down the stairs happily, some walked down very shy and Toshiya was one of them. A little group of about 20 Angels gathered on the platform where Kami was standing on. Toshiya arrived as one of the last and stood at the very back of the group which was no use because he was one of the tallest anyway.
Kami meanwhile went through his book and Toshiya just got that feeling.....

“Let's see... Toshimasa! A pleasure to have you here with us! Please come to the front and introduce yourself.”

Toshiya cursed in his head. Like a puppet on strings he moved forward in a daze. He was dead-nervous and tried to switch off his head, this panic, his thinking. He couldn't see Hakuei's encouraging gaze nor Shinya's almost dying puppy eyes, nothing. What he felt all of a sudden was the majestic Aura which extended from Kami and warmed him. He looked into those lilac eyes which were so comforting looking back at him... with a stammering voice he started.

“My name is Toshimasa but my friends call me Toshiya. My age is… or was on earth….” He stopped. Right now he couldn't remember. That was just too embarrassing. “Ahm… I was no too old…” He stopped when memories came up, it still hurt him.

Toshiya got distracted when he heard Hakuei speaking to him in his head. ^You were born in Europe…^

“A-and I was born in Europe… Something about the 17th century.” He gave a nod with his last sentence.

The crowd started to murmur. Toshiya was surprised about the reaction. It seemed as if they were surprised about something. It was then when a loud voice out of nowhere echoed through the wide hall.


“UNDRESS!”


And the murmurs changed to loud laughter, some were even whistling.

Toshiya, totally embarrassed and shocked, looked down to his feet while Kami's gaze shot up, over to the place where the statement had just come from, his eyes beamed murderously.

“Shut your mouth up there!!!” Kami shouted.

“I…” Toshiya stammered. Kami turned towards him but it was too late. “… I’m sorry…” And Toshiya ran off the platform and out of the hall.

Some where making sounds of astonishment. Hakuei in the same moment jumped off his seat and ran out of the hall behind Toshiya. Kami who had observed the whole ongoing, changed his attention back to the headless dumb bastard who had just acted so stupidly.

“You up there!” He pointed with his finger up to the Angel who had just shouted rude down at Toshiya. “Come down.”

The Angel, surprised by the order, sat up in his seat properly and asked stupidly. “Me?!”

“None other! Come down to me!”

The Angel wanted to say something but he got cut off by Kami again. “And don’t you dare to say another word without being asked!” He was totally pissed off which was close to a death warrant in Kami's case.

The other Archangels observed the whole situation interested, some of them with amusement in their eyes. They knew Kami and they knew Kami at his best. He was the Angel of water, but waters can be deep, very deep. At some point, hide said something to Kyo and interested they observed what happened next.

The rude Angel had far too much ego. It was the way he looked back at Kami, the way he moved and God knows Kami 'loved' such kind of Angels. Especially to trim them.

It took the arrogant Angel quite some time until he arrived at the platform. At this point Kami was close to burst.

“A VERY cool one we’ve got here…” The audience laughed because of Kami's remark.

The rude Angel was about his height which was unusual for an Angel. His hair was something between blond and brown, cut half long/half short around his head and his eyes were piercing with a cold glare.

“Thank heavens you arrived here before sundown. Since you honor us with your presence, please introduce your dumb self to the audience NAKED!!!”

Kami spelled it beautifully and the audience was laughing, whistling and clapping their hands. Kami was well known for his short temper but him going offensive in public was rare but liked. Some of the Angels leaned back and enjoyed the show. Meanwhile the strange Angel looked with disbelieve back at Kami.

“You can’t be serious…” The Angel said.

“I am as serious as you were up there and believe me: You can bet your ass for it that you will introduce yourself here naked on this very day!”

The audience was shouting and howling even louder, whistles filled the air again. Kami gestured them to be quiet but the Angel population had trouble to do so. The strange Angel looked at him with a cold stare.

“You may start.” Kami offered.

With as non caring as possible, the Angel unzipped his pants, making them drop down to the ground. Kami looked wondering at him. So the Angel removed his shirt as well. Kami couldn’t stop the whistles and howling filling the air and intentionally he didn’t.

Standing now in his underwear, the Angel looked helplessly back at Kami who simply asked him:

“Do you call this nude?”

The Angel was close to burst but hold his temper. He was no Angel to be laughed at and right now whole heaven's population saw him half naked standing there. With narrowed eyes he grabbed for the last piece of cloth on his body when Kami's voice finally interrupted him.

“Stop. That will be enough. We won't shock the audience any further.... But you are not done yet.”

The other Angel made a move to toss his head back in annoyance but stopped out of fear of the possible reaction from Kami.

“You tell us your name. But please shout it out loud so that everybody can hear it.”

The strange Angel so wanted to strangle Kami that it hurt. He narrowed his eyes again. “…” And stammered something.

“What did you say? I'm not sure if the Angels in the last rank could hear you.”

"My name is…”

Kami closed his eyes in disbelieve and pretended to hold his ear closer to the Angel. “What? I can’t hear you….”

“MY BLOODY NAME IS KARYU!!!”

The audience was howling and applauding even louder than before, some looked as if they laughed tears. With one fast movement Karyu grabbed his pants and shirt and dashed out of the hall. Kami let him go. He embarrassed himself enough. This was what he called an effective revenge.

The Archangel only hoped that Toshiya was all right.

They continued the introduction of the new arrivals until everybody was done and the meeting was finally over.

 

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

 

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 08

 

Your silence speaks more to me than you

 

 

 

“I can’t believe it! Jesus! You should have heard and seen yourself minutes ago! It was brilliant!!” Hide jumped around Kami, his praising not ending. He loved Kami for his temper.

“Speaking of Jesus, I hope he hasn’t seen or heard any of this.” Kami answered very dry.

“I don't think that he would be angry. That was a lesson well taught.” Kyo added. He followed hide and behind the three of them Mana floated silently his way.

“So what do you think about that Angel Karyu?” Hide asked Kyo. Kyo was the Archangel of wind and he got the personalities of Angels very fast.

“He's hard to judge. I'm quite interested what position he’s working in. He's quite tall and his energy almost bursts.”

“Yes, I…” Hide got cut off by Kami who said. “Good idea, thank you Mana. Why haven’t I thought about that earlier.” The other two turned around to Mana who just nodded friendly back at Kami.

Kami stopped in his tracks and hold up his book from the meeting before. He removed his hands and the book remained floating in front of him. When he closed his eyes, the pages started flipping wildly. The other three Angels gathered around him and the pages finally stopped. They read the information which stood next to the name they had been looking for.

“I knew it!” Hide yelled.

“Then why didn’t you tell us so?” Kyo rolled his eyes while Kami looked very concentrated at the words before he closed the book again.

“I can imagine what you're thinking…” Kyo said. “Don’t give it too much credit, doesn't mean anything.”

“Mana you are right.” Kami said without looking at him again. The others turned round to Mana who remained silent as always.

“At least you could tell us too!” Hide demanded but Mana remained motionless.

“As an 'Angel of Revenge' he is born to break rules!” Hide stated. Meanwhile they arrived at their personal conference room at the holy halls and Kyo closed the door behind them.

Kami continued. “You can't say that about each Angel of Revenge. Their task is to fulfill Gods orders. It is one class of Angels which is, although they are not as mighty as the Cherubs, closer to God than any other rank. In your opinion, hide, we couldn’t trust any of them ever again!”

“But as a matter of fact,” Kyo talked in between Hide and Kami, “we shouldn’t be surprised if an Angel of this category changes sides. Happened before, could happen again.”

Suddenly, they all looked over to Mana. “He is right.” Kami said although the others heard it as well. “The Angels of Revenge sometimes tend to change sides but before the war God was quite occupied with another Angel-class.... not the Angel of Revenge tended to change sides, some Cherubs followed Lucifer down to hell.”

“Come on!” Hide said. “That was ages ago! We have been through several wars and problems since then. The loyalty of the Cherubs is stronger than ever.”

“Hide is right. Bringing the Cherubs into this now would only cause more attention than needed. And besides, they have got a lot to do right now.” Kyo said.

Kami nodded. “We should really stay in closer contact with the Cherubs.... “ He paused. “I found it quite strange that none of the Cherubs spoke up today at the meeting.”

“There have been some in the audience?” Hide asked.

“Of course there have been. I’ve seen some too.” Kyo answered.

“Their silence is kind of strange…. The next meeting will be hold with them.”

“Absolutely.” Hide said.

“Oh,…” Kami turned around to look at Mana. “I hope he will be fine.”

“You’re speaking of Toshimasa, aren’t you?” Hide asked and Kami nodded.

“Poor kid.” Kyo added. “I haven’t seen an Angel that insecure since ages. Only thinking about him makes me grief. Poor child, really. I hope that his Guardian isn’t such a sleepy head.”

“Speaking of sleepy heads…” Hide grinned.

“Hey, no offense.” Kyo pointed with his finger at him and Hide dropped the topic. His gaze wandered to Kami who was obviously in thoughts. “Guess we can have a look about this Toshimasa in the book too?” Hide asked and Kami answered immediately.

“It's not our business. Although.... have you sensed his gift?”

“Gift? No. Maybe only you sensed it because you stood closer to him?” Hide wondered but Kyo spoke up. “That’s no excuse man. He is a wing healer.”

“What?! Really?! I mean wow.”

Kami smiled. He kind of liked that young Angel. There was something about his nature which was quite pleasant. “Anyway... soon we have to make decisions about special arrangements. The Cherubs know something and there is something in the air we cannot quite grasp.”

The rest of the Angels of Elements agreed on that.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Walking back to their apartment, Shinya totally ignored the comments and begs coming from behind him. He was angry about Die, the Cherubim and their silence today. At the meeting, there was something strange in the air. Everybody could tell that something big was about to come and yet Die didn't have the courage to tell him anything about it. Not even a hint. They who spent centuries together.

“Please Shinya, I told you before....” Die tried to reason him.

Furious, the beauty stopped in his tracks and turned around. “I've heard it more than once but protecting me with your silence only makes it worse. In the end all beings of heaven are concerned!”

Die looked very unhappy about their argument and since he had nothing else to say, Shinya continued his way back home. Die woke up from his state and started running behind Shinya, when he accidentally collided with somebody around the next corner.

“Goddammit! Are you blind?!” The other Angel yelled out loud. “Your wings must make it impossible for you to look aside!” The Angel added very rude.

Shinya, meters away, heard the Angel yelling at Die and he stopped immediately. He ran back towards them when Die pulled up his chin threatening. He was able to change moods within seconds and ready for anything if acquired.

“Watch your tongue.”

“Or else?” It was Karyu, also an Angel ready for anything if desired.

Shinya arrived behind Die and lay his hand onto his shoulder. Die calmed down immediately. “It's your lucky day.” He hissed between his teeth. “I'm not in the mood of fighting high-headed Angel-kids today.”

Karyu had a dirty grin on his face. He looked from Die to Shinya and his grin became even wider. He whispered something, only possible for Die to hear and the Cherubim lost it. With one hand around the throat he forced Karyu up against the wall. Shinya shrieked and Angels around them started to watch and whisper.

“Die stop it!” Shinya yelled and helplessly clung to Die's arm. Karyu, still amused though looked back at the red head and hissed. “So this face also has a name.” He laughed meanly although he had trouble to do so. He hissed something else which resulted in Die hitting his head hard against the wall.

“DIE!” There was something in Die's eyes Shinya was afraid of. But the Cherub made himself clear to Karyu: “You will never, and I mean NEVER dare touching him… or there will be a reason for me to go to hell.” Die hissed murderously low next to Karyu's face and dropped him to the ground.

Karyu touched his neck out of discomfort. He couldn't die from suffocating in heaven but it was unpleasant anyway.

Shinya meanwhile pushed Die back from Karyu and yelled at him. “What is the matter with you?!”

Die remained speechless and Karyu took his chance to stand up and make his sentiments clear. “It was my fault. Please excuse me.” Karyu smiled sweetly at Shinya which forced Die automatically forward again, ready to beat the shit out of him but Shinya got in between them and forced his lover back with all strength.

“Die! Stop it!” He forced Die back into safety distance. “It is better for us to leave.”

Karyu made a sound of pity. “Haven't met you here before …”

“And we better keep it that way.” Shinya said dryly.

“Are you sure?”

“R.u.n... before I forget myself.” Die answered instead with a murderous low voice. Every fiber of his body tensed and only Shinya in front of him holding him back. The beauty looked back at Karyu and the Angel dropped the topic.

With all efforts, Shinya pulled Die away from the scene. Karyu looked after them until they were out of sight. And then he smiled before he disappeared into the other direction.



Back in their apartment, Shinya became all silent. Too silent. This day too much had happened. Too many things which possibly could changed the future of them all. Shinya became melancholic, thinking about many things that he almost forgot that Die was still there.... him acting so brutal today only showed, that the Cherub was obviously stressed out about something. His nerves were wearing thin too. But what could it possibly be? They had been through hard times before but Die never hold up something for that long.... was it really so dangerous?

Shinya recalled Kami's little argument with hide before the meeting.... several parties already seemed to know something. When would they make it official?

“Stay right were you are.” Shinya rejected Die when he made moves to come closer to him. Getting comforted by him would lead to nothing.

Then Shinya raised his head as if he listened to something. Die looked at him from the other side of the room.

“Work to do?” He knew when Shinya did that.

"Yes. I'm leaving for the only pure souls in heaven, waiting to be born to earth. Humanity Die, maybe you already forgot about it.” And Shinya literally disappeared into thin air.

Die held his forehead in frustration. Shinya was hurting and because of that he was hurting too. But he had no choice. The position he worked in was too dangerous and they had to obey the laws too. No words to anybody outside the rank or Die couldn't guarantee for Shinya to be allowed to stay with him any longer.... And before that happened he rather have Shinya hate him for his silence.


Either way it hurt them both.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

He lost Toshiya on half way, disturbed about what happened moments before he dashed out of the meeting hall. Hakuei followed him immediately but the young Angel was too quick. Looking around in panic, he ran through the castle, turned his head to all sides and eventually stopped when he felt Toshiya being out of reach. He blocked the inner communication too of course.

Beaten by all those unfortunate circumstances, Hakuei returned to his apartment... which would be their apartment very soon. From today on the proteges had to live with their Guardian Angels. Not that Hakuei was unhappy about it. On the contrary, this way he could better look out for Toshiya. Now AFTER he was so deadly embarrassed by that strange Angel. Hakuei was so furious about it that his footsteps halled down the corridor, he balled his fists.... in need of meeting this bastard again. God knows he would.

His walk slowed down when he saw a familiar figure sitting on the ground, leaning against his apartment door with his head buried between his arms. Hearing the approaching steps, Toshiya's head popped up in panic and his face fell when he saw who had returned. The moment Toshiya's face said it all, Hakuei felt like his heart slumped into his pockets. There was hurt in his eyes, next to pain and worst of all... a flicker of disappointment.

Nothing could have hurt Hakuei more than this short moment of exchanged glances.

The hurt on Toshiya's side was understandingly. Hakuei didn't or couldn't do anything in that moment. Nevertheless guilt weighed heavy on his heart.

The sound and feeling of somebody crouching down in front of him. He didn't lift his head.

“Toshiya,” it came as a whisper, “I'm heartbroken about what happened.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Uncomfortable silence, moments to search for the right words.

“Let's go inside-”


“Hakuei, actually I'd rather be alone.”

“I don't think that this is such a good idea.”

The dark, hurt eyes looked back at Hakuei. The sincerity reflecting in them was new though. “Hakuei, just leave.”

“I don't want t-”

“JUST GO for heaven's sake!”

The image of lips pressed together in thin lines.... And with a stony face and mechanical moves Hakuei removed himself because he was unwanted.

He shouldn't care too much. They told him that being a Guardian Angel was the toughest job ever, that hurt feelings and changing attitudes were daily routine but underneath that metal cloak he felt like wearing every day, there was feeling underneath. And it reflect in the only mirror no one was able to hide.

The look in his eyes told Toshiya that Hakuei was hurt too. And the mere thought of it... itched. No, it pierced Toshiya somewhere deep within and it felt as if something inside of him was slowly falling apart.

The old sorrow was forgotten when a new one made Toshiya feel uncomfortable.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It took Shinya too long to return home. Being a bundle of nerves, Die walked up and down their apartment, changing to sitting and suddenly standing up again. In his mind he played through all possibilities he's had: Telling Shinya, not telling, telling only half the truth but came to the conclusion that no matter what he did, it wouldn't seem enough anyway.

They never left the house after a quarrel. For that they loved each other too much, have experienced too much.

The sudden arriving of Shinya's presence went like a thrill through Die's angelic body. Like a puppy waiting for its owner he darted forward but the still mad face slowed him down at once.

“I have to leave immediately again.” In a hurry Shinya passed Die, heading for their bedroom, getting something and heading for the door again.

“So that’s it then? You just came back to me to tell me this?!”

“And to tell you that I won’t observe the tragedy of these two Angels any longer. They had an argument again, I can feel it. Because they don’t understand each other! It hurts me seeing Toshiya hurt! Maybe even more than Hakuei.”

“Oh hush my Dear! You can't say that! God knows why he put them together. You must NOT interfere and you know that.”

“HE'S MY SON Die! You know that and I can't simply do nothing! Something has to happen and it is my right as mother to watch over my beloved child!”

With one strong arm, Die held the entrance door shut when Shinya wanted to leave.

“Shinya, you know it's not allowed.” Then his voice became soft. “You are risking that we will be separated.”

“It is you who risks it.” Shinya glared furiously back at Die. Beaten by the headstrong Angel, Die let go off the door and Shinya stormed out, closing it loudly shut.

The sound halled longer through his head than possible. Close to desperation, the Cherub leaned against the wall of their quiet apartment, the words repeating in his head, the mere thought of the absence of him breaking his heart.

What Die didn't know was that his beloved paused outside for a moment, suppressing the upcoming tears but continuing his way nevertheless. He played the melodramatic and knew it but he had no choice. Shinya left.

 

For good this time.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 


Nothing in this big, strange world could have warmed Toshiya's heart more than Shinya's visit shortly afterwards. Why he felt so protected when Shinya was around, Toshiya couldn't tell. He just sincerely liked him.

“Where is Hakuei?” Shinya wondered and felt immediately that something must be wrong. Fact was that now hours after Hakuei's disappearing Toshiya felt guilty for snapping at him earlier that day. He regret it the moment it left his lips, the hurt in Hakuei's eyes burned into his memory. For Toshiya it was the hardest to actually live with somebody, being someone's responsibility but without Hakuei he felt alone instantly after he had left.

“Shinya, I …..”

It was the look of grief in his eyes, his body-language, insecure like a puppy and when Shinya took him into his arms, Toshiya broke completely. Miserably, shaking about his own insecurity and shame because he hurt the only person who ever claimed to care for him.

The older Angel kissed Toshiya onto his head, his eyes watering up as well. From all the trouble the past days and adding Toshiya's hurt feelings too. Yes, he felt it as well because their bond was special.

Instinctively, Toshiya stopped crying he looked up at Shinya.

“I know you can feel my grief too.” Shinya said quietly. “As I can feel yours.”

“Why is that?”

“Besides a Guardian Angel there is one more person able to feel your feelings....”

A pause, filled with anticipation.

“It is your mother.”

No confession could have been more imprinting. And later Toshiya wouldn't be able to recall his actions and thoughts in that moment or afterwards. Speechless and with a plain face, he moved back and looked at Shinya in utter surprise. He would have expected anything but not such kind of confession.

Shinya though looked at him lovingly, trying to ease his mind. “You have always been with me. In my thoughts and heart.”

“M-my mother,” he furrowed his brows, “you are my mother? But how? When? You were a child when I met you on earth the last time... and a boy?”

“We've met in another lifetime before. We are destined to meet each other on earth again and again.”

Confusion was an understatement and the thought of rebirth, karma and reincarnation still alien to Toshiya. But when it came from Shinya, it sounded so easy and natural. He simply had to believe him.

Shinya took Toshiya's hands into his. “The last time I've met you as a human on earth, it was traumatic for me too. I still see what happened to you in front of my very own eyes-” He paused. “And believe me I share your pain. Seeing you these days in all this pain and suffering, it hurts me too. But all I can do is offering my help and love.”

The look on Toshiya's face brightened up. He believed in every single word Shinya said and felt how it warmed his heart automatically. Toshiya tightened the grip of their hands.

“I know that you are there for me. You became irreplaceable for me.”

It made Shinya unbelievably happy and in reflex he pulled his son into a tight embrace. Caring through Toshiya's hair, Shinya told him.

“I love you Toshiya, never forget that.”

“I won't.... after all this time, I've found my mother. My true mother.”

Shinya kissed Toshiya onto his head and in that moment he recalled a phrase Die told him a long time ago: Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of little children.

And only in this very moment Die's words started to make sense. Shinya understood that a mothers heart always cared and was not bound to time and place. That he could only feel at peace knowing that his child was safe.

“I wish I could take all your suffering from you but I'm not allowed to. This time I mustn't interfere in your development and karma. It is not my turn to care for you.”

Shinya's words came from his heart and Toshiya knew that. He felt as moved as Shinya did but had trouble to show it all open. “I know Shinya, I really appreciate it. Thank you, for everything. But I don't want you to suffer with me. It is my pain, my past I try to forget. I have to carry the burden and I can promise you that the burden won't carry me.... I'll try working on it.”

“Well, look at you.” Shinya touched Toshiya's chin lovingly. “I'm already proud.”

Another question weighed heavily on Toshiya's mind. “Shinya, if you are my mother... who was my first father on earth? My true father? Is it Die?”

A film started to play in front of Shinya's inner eye but his mouth stayed shut. He couldn't form the words nor the feelings for an answer. Several times he opened his mouth to answer but his voice had left him. “It's not Die, it's more complicated. Please allow me to tell you another time.”

Toshiya nodded. “And the woman who bore me the last time on earth? You were a boy last lifetime....”

“Being a mother doesn’t mean to give birth to your child in every lifetime. I gave birth to you the very first time your soul was born on earth. Your soul developed for the first time inside of me. The price for that was the highest price a woman could pay. I died right after giving birth but it was a price I was ready to pay.”

“I'm sorry about that.” Toshiya felt kind of ashamed.

“Oh don't be. It's the natural flow of things and I got you!” Shinya looked sincerely happy and it was his smile which warmed Toshiya's heart every time he meant it for him. “But about your mother last lifetime on earth.... she had to work off Karma too. That's why she had to leave you at the orphanage. She suffered from the separation and never forgot you. She was a good woman.”

“And you?” Toshiya wondered about Shinya's last life.

“And I had to work off Karma as well… harder than in any lifetime before. It was terrible. I didn’t die the normal way either-“ Shinya paused. “You must know that suffering is the companion of life just like love. Everything has to happen to you at some point to gain experience. And I do pray for your future that only good times will follow.” Shinya took Toshiya's hands again. “No one of us exists to be alone. This is the law of nature.”

“Hakuei is a soul not easy to warm up with…” Toshiya looked strangely back at Shinya. It made him feel uncomfortable talking about him. “But I'm sure that Hakuei is worth every effort. He's a good Angel and helped you a lot Toshiya. He was with you since a very long time and never stopped believing in you. And he knows you. In some aspects maybe even better than me. Never reject a being who sincerely cares for you.”

Toshiya kind of blushed. “I never rejected him.” And the moment it had left his mouth he knew that he did. “It's difficult...”

“As it is for every one of us, trust me.” Shinya stood up, ready to leave.

“You've got to work?”

“I'm afraid so.” Shinya smiled and leaned down to give Toshiya a kiss onto his cheek. “Take care, I love you my son.”

Toshiya gave a shy smile and Shinya left after a last glance over his shoulder.

Today Shinya had brought the sun back into Toshiya's life. Another piece of his big puzzle has been solved and Toshiya felt at ease like he didn't for a very long time now. Earlier he saw hurt in Shinya's eyes and wondered that even such a lovely and tender Angel like him must have suffered on earth once. What a cruel world, what a destiny they had to life with.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The sun already set that day but he was still alone. Die was a bundle of nerves. After the argument with Shinya earlier he couldn't concentrate on a single thing. There was something strange about Shinya's behavior. He was never an Angel who bore a grudge against anybody but these days he seemed so deeply upset. What was it that made him so angry, made him act this way?

When it came to Shinya Die couldn't judge objective. In case of arguments Die usually gave in because of Shinya's well common sense. But today Shinya completely shut him out. Didn't want to hear his excuses and left him behind.

They never used to separated before without settling an argument. And it ate Die alive. Especially now that Shinya was long overdue.

Driven by panic and concern, he stormed out their apartment. He would look anywhere for him, no matter the effort or danger. On his way through the castle Die immediately thought about visiting Toshiya but why should Shinya stay there half the day? What was even more frightening was the fact that their invisible connection where soul partners used to communicate through started to get thin. Every time Die tried to reach him there was simply no connection. And it became weaker with the passed hours.

Running through the big entrance hall of the sky castle, everything passed him like in a movie. An uncountable mass of Angels, some even bowing to him because he was a higher-sphered Angel after all but to him they all had the same faces.... except of one who seemed to stand out of the crow with his size and arrogant gaze.

 

“You!” Die echoed while he pointed with his chin at the rude Angel. Some Angels around them made their way faster to get out of reach. Bored, the other Angel stopped and looked down onto Die. “Are you talking to me?” It was Karyu.

“Oh, yes I am. For you Daisuke!”

“Ah, I knew it was something with D…” He smiled devilishly.

“I hate asking you but did you happen to see Shinya on your way around?” Seriously, after he asked he already regret it but Die was thankful for any kind of information.

Karyu looked strange at first but then his face changed into a beam. “Ah, I see. You're looking for the beauty....”

“All I expect of you is an objective answer. So did you or not?!”

“No.”

Die hissed as if he could have guessed. One part of him was glad though that Karyu didn't seem to be 'involved' with Shinya in any matter. Because at their last encounter he made his interest more than clear. He fancied Shinya and something deep inside Die itched by the mere thought of it.

Without another word, Die passed Karyu.

“See you again soon Daisuuuuuukeeeeh!”

Die stopped in his tracks, balling his fists but didn’t turn around. God knows he so wanted to provoke a fight but he knew better and for Shinya's sake he simply went on, leaving the castle to have a look outside in the gardens.

Die walked all the places he could think of, asked Angels here and there but with no success. He was close to going crazy. Hectically, he made his way walking, halfway flying through the gardens and landed when he saw a familiar figure sitting totally devastated under a tree, all alone and deeply thinking. It was Hakuei, with a facial expression Die just knew too well. He recalled the meeting from this morning with the rather unlucky Toshiya.... and yes, Hakuei's gesture wore definitely a Toshiya-taste.

He approached his friend slowly. Not that he would have noticed him anyway, for that he was sunken in to deeply in his own world. The red head leaned against the tree and crossed his arms over his chest.

“If I could… “, Die started, “I would offer you a cigarette. You seem to need it.”

Surprised, Hakuei jolted and looked back at Die. He laughed humorlessly. “Yeah, my old habit. Believe me, sometimes I wish for this old habits.”

“Same here.... If I may?” Hakuei nodded and Die took a seat next to him.

“You too had a terrible day.”

“Guess you can say that.” Hakuei's voice was heavy with grief and his gaze lost in the distance. The thing with Toshiya completely ate him.

“No progress with Toshiya?”

A heavy sigh. “I guess there was never any progress to begin with. We're running in circles and he doesn't want to be caught. Even less from me.”

“I see.... Toshiya is not an easy soul to work with but I'm sure that hard work will be rewarded. He is something special...”

“I know. After all he's the descendant soul from Shinya.”

Die made a stern face and an uncomfortable silence grew between them. Before Hakuei could ask Die started on his own again. “You know, he never told me about the father. It must have hurt him too deeply. I'm waiting for the day he'll be ready to.”

“Wow, that's very generous. I don't know if I could be that patient. ”

“Never would have thought that either but being with someone changes you. Speaking of which, I was on my way looking for Shinya but I can't find him anywhere. Did you see him after the meeting today? I know he was with Toshiya earlier...”

“Really? But no, sorry Die. Haven't seen him either.”

Die stood up. “Have to go, it's really urgent. Will you contact me in case you see him?”

“Sure.” Hakuei stood up as well. “I better get going too.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was time for Hakuei to return to Toshiya.

They both needed this time-out and now half a day later Hakuei hoped that Toshiya was willing to talk to him. He just wanted the best for Toshiya, encouraging his development, healing his soul but the young Angel was so hurt from his lifetime before that he closed in completely, letting no one in and hurting everybody who tried, especially Hakuei.

Shinya touched him in a way Hakuei never could but it was his responsibility to look out for him and make him strong. Hakuei knew that and for that he had returned. He found Toshiya in his own apartment as they had to share it from this day on. He lay on the couch and rested, his eyes closed.

His face looked so peaceful and yet his soul was so troubled. Hakuei's eyes wandered down the whiteness of his angelic body, the black hair which lay sprawled beautifully over his shoulders and arms. Toshiya had no wings yet but the time would come when he would 'gain' them. And he would look beautiful with wings.

Hakuei settled onto the ground in front of the couch, right besides Toshiya's head. There was something peaceful about observing another being in its sleep. It was the purest form of portrayal and the most fragile one. No pretending, no acting.... just existing in its purest form. His lips were curved pouty, fitting perfectly to the almond shaped eyes. His limbs were long and thin but fit perfectly to his oversized body height.

With a single touch he could wake him, get his attention and his eyes would open like a book, ready to get read all the emotions written in it. And all those unsaid words and accusations would wash over him like standing in poring rain.

A movement in his sleep and his consciousness slowly came back. There was a feeling of being watched and his eyes slowly opened. Blurry, he made out features. Startled by it, Toshiya moved slightly back.

“Don't be scared.” Hakuei's deep voice consoled him. He gestured him to keep on lying but with their heads on the same level, Toshiya looked down ashamed. He couldn't look him in the eye.

“Toshiya, your safety and well-being is the most important for me.” Hakuei started but by the tone of his voice Toshiya could tell that he had trouble to form this words. “I want to apologize about today, or anytime... for… for maybe not finding the right words or being too silent.”

He never expect that. Guilty about his own behavior, Toshiya bit his lip and shook his head at the same time. He wanted to retard but Hakuei went further on.

“I don’t want to hurt you. If I become unbearable for you I will release you from my bond.”

Now Toshiya moved up on the couch anyway. “What are you saying? Do you give up on me?!”

“No, I don't want to give up on you. What I'm trying to say is: One word from you and I'll respect your decision.... it would leave my very existence senseless though.”

His words weighed heavily on Toshiya's conscience. What did he do to gain so much mistrust? Yeah right, he did nothing except of making him miserable too. Ashamed of his very self, Toshiya looked down onto his hands, trying to form a clear thought but he couldn't. All he knew was that he didn't want Hakuei to go. How could he ever let such an honorable soul go? Hakuei was a noble Angel, Toshiya never thought ill of him but Hakuei must think that he did.

“It is me who has to apologize Hakuei. I know I was childish and there was nothing you could have done from preventing that stupid Angel embarrassing me like that this morning.”

“I should have-”

“It's over and I don't care.”

Hakuei nodded and couldn't help himself but to realize that Toshiya seemed to have grown over the hours... was it his own understanding or the influence Shinya has had on him? Either way Hakuei liked the change.

“Thank you... for all your help and being there for me.”

Something inside Hakuei broke. It melted his heart right away.

He never guessed that he wanted to hear these words so much but right now they seemed to be the cure for all the pain they have caused each other. In reflex, Hakuei moved forward and for the first time he sincerely took Toshiya into his arms. Carefully but certain he hold onto the fragile Angel who sat stiff in surprise on the couch.... only slowly the ice started to melt and he hugged Hakuei back. They were like fire and ice but the fire seemed to be the stronger element.

“I'm sorry for causing you so much trouble...” Toshiya went further on.

“That's normal for young Angels. I'm glad to have you back.”

“Please don't think ill about me.... sometimes I'm so confused I....” Toshiya started to stutter. He was close to tears. “I need you Hakuei. Without you I wouldn't be here, I know that.”

And he kissed Toshiya onto his hair while his hand glided down onto his nape and rested there. He was so moved by Toshiya's words. How come that he became so open and dependent? He opened up only a little but Hakuei couldn't wait for any further progress. He would be a great Angel someday. A powerful but merciful Angel.

Toshiya closed his eyes, forgetting the awkwardness of letting someone come close to him. And somehow it felt good. The strange warmth comforting him, it was okay.

“But Totchi, about your healing hands....” Hakuei moved back and the temporary warmth left again. But Toshiya looked surprise because of something else....

“Are you all right?” Hakuei wondered.

“Yes... it's just... I've never had a nickname before.”

“You don't like it? I'm sorry I-”

“I like it very much.”

Hakuei gave one of his adorable smiles before he moved up to sit next to Toshiya.

“It's a very rare gift and quite powerful. Never tell any stranger about it.”

Toshiya nodded. “Hakuei, there's something else I wanted to know... When I introduced myself today and said that I was born 17th century Europe, the crowd started whispering... why?”

“Today we are living in the 21st century.”

Toshiya was totally taken aback.

“Your soul slept very long and remained very long in this trauma state before I was able to get a grasp on you. But you needed this time. It happens so don't care about other Angel's opinions. The main thing is that you are back here with me. I was your Guardian Angel on earth for a long time and could never really interact with you. Having you finally here, talking to you, makes me really happy.”

A little smile crept over Toshiya's lips but he apologized immediately. “I'm sorry. I have never been an easy soul.”

“No one of us is really.”

Being on good terms with Hakuei again, Toshiya recalled the questions he always had.

“Hakuei... when every soul has a Guardian Angel why do so many people suffer on earth?”

“For experience and growth of the soul. You know the phrase: 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'... experience is something no one can ever steal from you again.”

“I'm sorry for being rude but I always wondered.... where have you been when I was killed on earth?”

The question itself was provocative but Hakuei answered without bias. “I was on the gates of heaven, waiting for you to return but your soul went into trauma state instead. I knew that your time was up because it was written in your 'book'.”

“Which book?”

Hakuei smiled. “Want me to show you something very precious?”

A nod.

“Tomorrow then.”

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

After searching all the places Die could think of, he had returned to their home. There was this tiny ray of hope that Shinya might have returned meanwhile... but their apartment was empty. A feeling of cold helplessness crept down his spine.

It was already too late to inform any higher authorities, so Die tried to get himself into sleep.

Tossing nervously around in his bed, there was hardly any sleep he could get. He lay awake for hours until the early morning hours when he finally drifted into a dream. A dream he had almost forgotten over the decades... but it was not a dream, it was a long memory of their last life on earth.....

Chapter Text

Song to the Die and Shinya-chapters: 05 – God commanded his Angels to watch over you

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aX28bO7Gck&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC&index=5

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 09 / 1 of 5

The last life on earth

 

The Die and Shinya-Chapters

 

 

 

Europe 1656




He looked out of the window as snow danced down from heaven. Tenderly and pure, slowly covering the world with a powdery white curtain. It made everything so beautiful and clean but yet coldness was one of the most dangerous enemies all people had to cope with. It was the time when children in Europe still starved and parents froze all year because of selling their last possession to get the family through the hard winters.

Shinya couldn't help himself but he always cared about the people less fortuned. Most of society these days only possessed the spare clothes they wore and they suffered hunger and coldness almost every day. It was impossible for Shinya to imagine.

The fragile young man looked out of the window. Maybe it was the snow that made him even more sentimental but as far as he could remember he had always been like that. Shinya loved to help people and he never demanded something in return. It was the look in their faces which was the best reward he could think of. Thankfully his parents, which he still lived with, understood and gave Shinya his freedom to act how he wanted.

Shinya observed the single snowflakes landing on the branches of the old oak tree next to his window. He used to read a lot during winter time in his cozy, little room. And then.... when the sky had this color of winter and the smell of snow lay in the air, a distant memory slipped into Shinya's mind. A childhood memory which was so horrible and yet unforgettable. It must have been around this time of the year when Shinya was this little child who met this strange but friendly young man in town.... who got shot right in front of his eyes.... and he recalled his name: Toshiya. It was afterwards that his naive thinking of a child changed to what he had become today. A compassionate person with the urge to help people.... he still remembered his face. Shinya didn't know why this person was so imprinting on him but he was thankful to have known him. Even for this short amount of time.

Shinya's gaze wandered absentminded over the book shelf and his eyes stuck on the biggest book standing in it, the Bible. Shinya couldn't even remember when he got it. He had the Bible since forever, maybe it was a gift for his birth. Having no Bible in the house meant bad luck and not believing in a christian God meant eternity in hell.

It was the darkest time in Europe. People still got burned alive on the pyre and tortured for being what they are told to be. People bought themselves free from sins to make sure to get into heaven and church became richer each day through this false business.

Shinya never believed in church. In a God maybe but the institution was more than questionable. But he kept his thoughts to himself because he wanted to stay alive. Any mistrust was highly punishable.

They all feared the men, coming in black robes from Rome, the rosary around their necks and preaching in the name of God. The Inquisition was dangerous and killed everything strange in between their ways. No one was safe of them, not even children. And who was suspected was already dead.


Shinya walked over to the closet and took out a long dark cloak with fur around the large hood. He loved that coat, a present from his mother although the cut was a little bit too feminine for a young man. But Shinya felt as beautiful as an elegant Lady in it. A kind of feeling he shouldn't have. A kind of feeling his mother was well aware of and they had several conversations about Shinya's clothes being 'too beautiful' for a young man. you are a boy Shinya. I can’t allow you to go out with such feminine clothing.… I'm afraid they will hurt you....


There was no place for individualists in this world.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 It was Sunday and all village people had to attend church. Whether they believed in God or not. Anyone staying at home caused unwanted attention.

“Shinya!” It was nearly seven in the morning when his mother shouted for him. His parents were ready to walk to church. Shinya stormed down the stairs and arrived at the door with his long coat and fitting scarf and gloves. His long, auburn hair peeked through underneath the large hood. He wore his hair longer than necessary and his father rolled his eyes before he continued his way out of the house. Shinya tried to ignore it but deep inside him it hurt anyway. Maybe every child wants to suit its parents.

It was a cold winter and they arrived after an hour in the next town. Some people were greeting, some starring at Shinya. Maybe because of his feminine attitude or his expensive looking clothes. His father had a nice job in town and they had more than the average people to life with. They passed a bakery and the smell of fresh baked cookies came out of it... Shinya remembered the day when he was a little child and 'this' horrible accident happened. He would remember it all his life and pray for Toshiya's soul.


They walked up a meadow where the church was build on. Behind the church was a graveyard and oak trees surrounded the place, giving it an almost beautiful, somber atmosphere. People gathered around the wooden portals of the church although the doors were opened. It was the place to meet for chit chats, exchanging news from past week and so on. But also the place for poor people to beg in front of the church.

His father got caught up in a conversation with farmers he worked with so Shinya and his mother went inside the church before all the seats were taken. Once seated, Shinya admired the beautifully painted ceiling. A strange contrast to the heavy, black wooden benches. Absentminded, Shinya lay his Bible down next to his left side at the end of the row. His gaze rested on the beautiful Angel statue in front of the church when something dark passed the alleyway net to him. He turned around startled and his Bible fell down to the ground. The dark shadow which had passed turned around and moved down to the ground to pick up the Bible.


“Here, I'm sorry Miss.”


He handled Shinya his Bible and Shinya looked up at the hood covered, masculine face. And underneath he wore a priests' robe. Shinya took his Bible.

“… thank you…” But all he saw were those deep, dark eyes. The moment seemed to last but was quickly over when the unknown person continued his way to the back of the church.

His parents followed and the mass started punctually like it always did... To be honest: There were more interesting things. The songs and prayers repeated year after year and the old Priest Grahams voice, monotone as it was, used to be no help either to turn it more interesting.

Meanwhile they knelled on little wooden benches in front of them to pray.

“Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, the Kingdom come…” The crowd in the church prayed loud. It was then that Shinya caught a glimpse of a dark cloak in the back of the church. He must be a new guy and it was waaay to interesting to pay more attention to him than the prayer. Shinya leaned slightly aside as he sat at the end of the bench. As inconspicuous as possible he tried to observe but turned his gaze back to the front again.

“… thy will be done on earth, as it is…” Out of curiosity Shinya risked to look up a second time and then he saw him leaning against the wall in the back of the church. “…in heaven.” They ended the prayer and Shinya spoke the last two words slower then the rest of the people. His breath got stuck in his throat when he realized the new priest looking back at him! Shinya turned his gaze down, God he felt so embarrassed. After the mass was ended all people stood up to leave the church and Shinya counted himself lucky that the new priest was nowhere to be seen. He called me Miss… he thinks I am a woman… must be the coat… Shinya recalled that the priest had called him 'Miss'.

“Shinya!”

He was daydreaming again. Shinya hurried over to his parents at the entrance of the church. He passed the many benches but shrieked when he felt someone holding him back on his arm all of a sudden. Shinya hurled around and found himself starring into those eyes again.... time seemed to stood still. And his masculine face came with an adorable mouth. The priest let go off Shinya's arm. He cleared his throat.

“Excuse me. Here, our gloves.”

“Thank you.” He looked down sheepishly when cold hands accidentally touched. The priest nodded

“SHINYA!” His mother called and feeling like being caught in the moment, Shinya ran off without another word. The new priest though watched Shinya's delicate steps until the beautiful auburn hair had vanished outside.

Shinya had just arrived outside when he overheard his father and some men talking about something which deserved his attention. “Ah yes, I saw that young man too. Walking around in the back of the church.” Another man added. “I heard that it must be old Grahams nephew. Who knows, sooner or later he might take over Grahams job.”

Shinya's father added. “I'm just wondering when he’ll take over… maybe in twenty years!” His father and some other man laughed out loud.

“You know,” another man started again, “I heard old Graham praising the boy for his studies in London and Rome…”

“No way!” Shinya's father said surprised. In the back his son tried to catch up every word. Today village gossip seemed kind of interesting... but only until his mother got Shinya's arm to walk back home again.

“You are sunken in thoughts… are you all right?”

“Sure, I'm fine.” He smiled and they left the grounds. Next week they would be back.... next week.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Shinya hadn't left the house until next Sunday. Gossip about a fetched woman from the Inquisition could be heard everywhere and everybody was afraid. Of course she was fetched because of wrong accusations about being a witch but fact was that any jealous neighbor could make up a crazy story about you and church would get you anyway.... just in case. The times were dangerous.

Shinya made his way to church with his parents totally absentminded, his thoughts circling about the madness from burning 'witches' alive.... he felt so bitter about praying for a religion which sentenced innocent people to death.

Behind his parents Shinya made his way to the well known bench inside the church and he sat down, starring at the Bible in his hands. He closed his eyes, still being tired and the noises around them started to cease and the mass began.


“A blessed good morning, to the community of this village.”

 

Shinya looked up to the front and there he saw him, standing in front of all of them and holding his first mass.

“As Priest Graham is absent because of occurring business, I'm honored to hold this mass today. I'm Priest Daisuke. ” He had a beautiful voice.

People started murmuring but only until the organ started to play. Shinya looked down onto his hands, being afraid to have stared too long. Their bench was not that far away from the front, close enough to make out eyes and facial expressions.... what an unusual name he had. Well not like his name was any better but anyway....

The mass went on its usual way but it felt kind of 'fresh', listening to his voice. Shinya imagined him telling fairy tales, he started to dream, started to forget about the people who died in the name of church and poverty.... but only until the priest said:

“Make sure not to ruin your relationship with God. Pray to him and the holy church and you will be safe. Watch out for the enemy as the devil has many faces. Especially these days. Only for the Lords’ and our protection, the Inquisition is in town.”

Murmurs became loud and people started talking. This news were quite frightening. Everybody was afraid of church these days. And Shinya was speechless that church made it official. He wanted to go home and feel safe there.

A prayer again and this agony was soon over. The last song played on the organ and the priest walked to the back of the church to the entrance. Like his uncle all these years before he started to say his good-byes to everybody in person.

A row formed until the entrance and Shinya waited patiently behind his parents. It was now that he realized that the new priests' attention would be his for the blink of an eyes. Shinya became nervous. What should he say? Should he say something at all? It was his father's turn and the priest shook hands with his father, then his mother.... he was so nervous.... a warm hand touched Shinya's hand and the delicate young man looked up into those dark brown eyes who seemed to search for the right words.

 

“God commanded his Angels to watch over you.”

 

And then he let go off Shinya's hands again. Shinya stepped outside and the beautiful words circled in his head. Wait a moment... can it be that he only said this to him?.... Shinya's heart started to feel warm by this lovely words. And his warm voice. The moment, the touch, repeated in his head and his voice cared over him over and over again.... God commanded his Angels to watch over you … that was so beautiful! He loved that phrase! It gave him a nice feeling and for a moment he forgot all the pain and misery.

According to the gossip, people seemed to be quite please with the new, 'good-looking' (how they called him) priest, even Shinya's parents said so. As for Shinya, the upcoming, boring Sundays couldn't come fast enough.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was a week later when Shinya became seriously ill. It started with a cough and overnight the fever set in. His mother couldn't sleep during the nights, she tried to cool him down and gave him to eat if possible. The days passed and time became an unmeasurable size, for the family and for Shinya. He dreamt the craziest things and woke in the middle of the night, only to find his mother sleeping on a chair next to his bed... he felt so sick. So weak like he had never imagined before. Shinya drifted into a deep sleep. And he dreamt again. But this time it was more intense. This dream differed from all the others because it felt so real and he 'knew' what people were thinking, it was so strange.

In his dream Shinya felt like lying on a bed, his body was weak and paralyzed by pain. He felt his muscles tensing and a burning pain down the lower half of his body. People hold his hands and cared over his head. A pressure which felt like tearing his body apart and from one moment to the other it was gone. Then they gave him something into his arms: A warm, crying bundle.... a child. With black hair. He is so beautiful.... was the last thing Shinya thought when his gaze became blurry. Just before he lost all his consciousness, he saw somebody standing in the back of the room, all illuminated with pure light. Shinya stretched out his hand and then everything was gone....

Shinya moved up startled in his bed from this intense dream. He panted heavily and touched his forehead. He was still so feverish that he didn't even bother to make anything out of this crazy dream. Dizzy, he fell back onto his bed....

 

The fever was higher than the nights before.

 

It was very early in the morning when Shinya's mom came into his room and when she touched his forehead, she moved back in shock and sent a tea cup down to the floor. But she didn't care and ran out of the room, down the stairs and grabbed for her coat. It was her son, her baby, deadly sick and she had to handle.

Her husband woke from the noise while she put on her shoes.

“Where are you going at 5 o’clock in the morning?” He asked sleepy.

“We need a doctor, now! Shinya's burning up!”

“Let me go-”

“You stay in the house and cool him down, I'll take Shinya's horse!” And the door closed and she was gone. Her father, still perplex, went upstairs to Shinya and did as he'd been told.

Shinya's mother stood in front of the doctor's house thirty minutes later and she rang the door bell but no one opened. Desperation, fear and panic welled up inside of her but she tried to stay calm. As panic wouldn't help either. The doctor was not at home but she needed help. Any help from anybody. Now. Still holding the horse with one hand, she moved up into the saddle and she rode up the hill to where the church and the priests' house were standing on. She was desperate and this the only idea she had come up with.

She jumped down from the horse and rang the bell of the priests' house desperately. It took a few moments before a totally sleepy priest, Die, opened the door, rubbing his eyes.

“Mrs. Terachi....” He realized and she was positively surprised that he already started to memorize the villagers' names.

“Priest Daisuke, I need a doctor or anybody who can help!!”

Die was bright awake within seconds. Firstly: The woman, obviously desperate in search of a doctor. Secondly: So early in the morning. And thirdly: It was Mrs. Terachi.... Die only hoped it was not the person he thought it could be.

“The doctor has left the village with my uncle for some business out of town. Holy Lord....” The priest looked into her desperate face. Luckily he came up with an idea.

“Wait here, let me try to help! I'm back in no time!” Die closed the door and she heard him running up the stairs back into the house. A few minutes passed and he was back in his priest clothes and with a leather bag slung over his shoulders. “Ready to go!”

Mrs. Terachi didn't want to ruin the young priests' enthusiasm. He was eager to help so who knows maybe he knew what could be done. She looked at Die and asked: “Do you have a horse?”

The priest looked startled. “No.”

“If you don't mind?” She gestured him to climb onto her horse and he did so. Then she followed him. “Special occasions need special procedures.” And they rode back the way as fast as possible.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Die didn't mention that he felt quite uneasy with horses so he did his best. Somehow he climbed down the horse and ran over to the main entrance as Shinya's mother gestured him to. He rang the bell a few times and Mr. Terachi opened it quickly. He looked quite astonished when he found the young priest standing in front of his door. Did his wife sent for the priest already? Not questioning his wifes' intentions, he moved aside.

“Shinya's room is upstairs on the left side.”

That was the moment when his assumptions were confirmed. It was the beauty who was sick and her name was Shinya. Pity he learned her name under this circumstances too. Die lost his shoes at the entrance and he stormed up the stairs.

Shinya's father called from downstairs. “ I will tell my wife to make some tea as soon as she'd returned from the stables.”

“Thank you.” Die answered before he knocked on the door to Shinya's room.

No one answered, he entered slowly. He looked around the lovely decorated room. It felt so surreal, standing in her very room and then he saw the delicate person sleeping on the large bed to his left. Die slipped out of his long coat and lay it over the armchair. Then he came closer to the bed... it really was her with the long auburn hair sprawled all over the cushion. The morning sun shone through the window which made the lovely face only more pale.... her hair had somehow lost its shine. Die knelled down and touched her forehead. But Shinya didn't realize anything. He was somewhere between sleep and delirium and his moans and breathes where weak.

Die looked around and found a tea standing on a little table next to the bed. He opened his bag and pulled out a little metal box. Then he grabbed for the tea and put a handful of herbs from the box into the tea. These herbs were from an old recipe from a convent where he used to stay some years before. And he prayed that they would help now like they always used to.

“Shinya?” He whispered. It was strange saying her name out loud for the first time but it had a beautiful sound, he liked it. When no answer came, he repeated it louder and a weak moan was the answer.

“Shinya, you have to drink this tea.” Die hold the cup in his hands.

Slowly and with effort Shinya opened his eyes and all he saw was the black and white collar of Die's priests' robe.

“... a priest? I'm not dead yet, am I?” Shinya's voice was weak and he didn't get that it was actually Die kneeling in front of his bed.

“Certainly not! Let me help you.” Die excused himself and sat onto the mattress. Shinya tried to lean on his elbow and when he felt too weak to do so, Die moved his knee behind his shoulder and hold him up with one arm while with the other arm he gave him the cup of tea. Shinya drank, clumsily and spilled some of the tea on Die's robe. He was embarrassed and excused himself but Die made a gesture to not care. He settled Shinya down onto his cushion again and got a wet cloth for his forehead. When he turned his attention back to the ill, delicate person, Shinya was already asleep again. With sorrowful eyes Die looked at Shinya's face and brushed some of his strands away from his face.... maybe he looked at her face too long until he put the cloth onto her forehead.... he jolted when the door opened.

“How is Shinya?”

“Asleep. Mrs. Terachi, take these herbs.” Die gave her his box. “Put them into hot water. It should help to cool the fever down. And another thing: Cool down the calfs with wet linen cloth.”

Shinya's mother nodded and she ran down the house to fetch the cold water and cloth herself. She settled the ingredients onto the little table before she pulled away Shinya's blanket. He moaned slightly when the cold air touched his heated up body. A slight blush rushed over Dies face, seeing the beautiful bare legs. He turned away and said that he would wait outside.

Die leaned against the corridor wall outside. Waiting, he looked around the corridor and back to the door next to him.... it was then when he discovered a little slit behind the door which revealed a slight peek into the room. He looked away again, feeling guilty to stare but curiosity made him peek again.

Shinya's mother helped her to sit on the bed to change pajamas as the current ones seemed to stick to her back. She pulled the top over Shinya's head and when the delicate person leaned in to her mother to get dressed again... Die's gaze wandered down automatically the slender body... and it was all flat! No breasts, nothing feminine he thought he had seen in Shinya all this time really existed.

Die looked away in shock. He felt like a pervert too for starring and on top of that.... It's impossible! How could his mind trick him like that! Shinya.... a boy?! Or more a young man but how could a young man be so beautiful? And lady-like? The way he moved.... Die felt like all his senses and nature were tricked by this single, breathtaking person.

Shinya was a man.

Well not that he had to care for it anyway. Shinya in his early twenties should be long married by now or at least being promised to somebody and Die as a priest swore to dedicate himself to God and church anyway. So no problem should ever arise here.

“You can come in again.” Shinya's mother called out for Die. He collected his thoughts and took a deep breath before he reentered the little room again. The older woman wrapped Shinya's calfs with the cold cloths and when she was done she asked Die kindly to look out for Shinya while she would prepare something for them to eat.

The priest took out his rosary when she was gone and sat beside Shinya's bed. He closed his eyes and held the rosary in front of his lips. He murmured words with his deep voice, a prayer.

Maybe it was the sound of his voice that Shinya slowly opened his eyes. This voice had something soothing and sounded familiar.... The features of the priest slowly became familiar, Shinya blinked his eyes and recognized soon that it was really 'the' priest... Him! Here! In this very room! And praying! Shinya's gaze wandered down to the rosary which dangled down from his hands. It was made out of Amber and the little Jesus underneath was made of silver. In the middle between the rosary a little Angel held the rosary together, flying over Jesus. It looked so lovely.

Still weak but feeling a little bit better, Shinya closed his eyes and murmured a thank you. Die stopped in his prayers and looked back at the petite young man whom was already close to sleep again.... it was unbelievable but although he had prayed so many times before, now in front of Shinya he felt kind of embarrassed. When he wanted to continue his prayers in silence, Shinya asked with his eyes closed.

“Do you know a prayer about Angels?”

Die thought about it but had to refuse. “Not about Angels, I'm sorry.”

A pause. Die thought that Shinya felt asleep again but he replied. “Last Sunday.... this phrase you said to me.... did you make it up yourself?”

Die recalled the psalm he told Shinya last Sunday. He wanted to tell him that this phrase was just for him, only for him, fitting so perfectly to him and he would tell him anytime he wished for him to. That he prayed to all of God's Angels to take care of this special person and-

“Priest Daisuke?”

Why did he say his name so sweetly? “That psalm about Angels really exists.” He hesitated. “It fits you. I wanted to say it to you after I saw you in church because you looked so sad. I wanted to see you smile.”

Die, being speechless about his confession too, looked at the surprised face of the delicate man in front of him.

Shinya turned his gaze down and mumbled into his blanket. “It meant a lot to me. Thank you. For everything.” His voice became weak and he closed his eyes again.

Die exchanged the cloth on his forehead and his fingers rested on Shinya's cheek to check the temperature.... his hand rested there longer than appropriate. And he pulled back his hand, balling it into a fist. Die closed his eyes and bit his lips when he stood up. Ready to leave the room, the house, maybe the village itself.

He gathered his belongings and the rosary around his wrists jingled. He stopped in his tracks. He knew that he really had to leave but he walked back to the bed instead. And he looked at the blushed cheeks and the long, sprawled auburn hair... How could beauty play such tricks with his rational mind? Betray him so much?

He left his rosary next to Shinya's cushion and left.

He left the house without the promised lunch, claiming to have business to attend to. But in reality his mind stayed back in this little room and all attempts to occupy himself with serious business, miserably failed.

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 10 / 2 of 5

 

The last life on earth

 

The Die and Shinya-Chapters

 

 

 

It was already dark outside when Shinya awoke the following day from the horrible night. His dreams were crazy and at one point when he thought his body temperature couldn't get any hotter.... it slowly but steadily went down. So he made it through the night. Shinya blinked his eyes, he looked around the room and found it empty. For the first time in days he saw clearly and slowly the memories came back. He recalled pieces of strange dreams, mixed up with conversations and faces... His mother, father... the priest.
Carefully, Shinya turned around in his bed to sit up straight when something sharp sting on his hip. He searched for it under his blanket and hold the item up in the air to look at it... a rosary with a little silver Angel dangled in front of his face and he recalled the priests' face. So he was really there! Shinya thought that it was all a dream. He looked aside and saw a little metal box lying on his table.... the tea with herbs, a silent prayer... so it was no dream at all. But how did the priests' rosary come into his bed? He must have forgotten it. Shinya had to return it next Sunday and thank him for whatever trouble he went through to get into his home. But why did he come in the first place? Shinya was confused and as much as he wanted to recall what they had been talking about.... the memories were gone but all he could remember where the deep dark brown eyes which looked at him full with sorrow and....

Shinya didn't know but it gave him a warm feeling in his heart.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Half a week later Sunday came but Shinya's mother absolutely insisted for her son to stay at home. At one hand Shinya was glad he had not to attend because he was bored of church anyway but the past weeks he found it surprisingly refreshing. Not that a certain part was responsible for it. But Shinya wanted to return the rosary which looked expensive. That was the only reason. And to say thank you for all the trouble. He knew that his family were quite indebted for what the priest had done for them. Especially for Shinya. But reality was hard and his mother's explanations that he just came along because there was no doctor in town brought Shinya back to his senses. Of course. He did his duty as a priest. Whatever did Shinya think of?... wait a moment. Why does he think of thinking of something?

He was confused so he took out a book to read and settled himself downstairs in the living room in front of the fireplace. He was bored of his room anyway. It was a sappy book about a cheap love story but there was nothing else to read in the house. His mother loved literature like this but it bored the mind out of Shinya. Usually he worked a lot for his father so there was barely any time left for him to read on his free days. His father was a well-off landlord who let land to farmers around the village and Shinya and his mother always took care of financial matters and all the paper work. Another reason why Shinya was not married yet.

People knew about their higher social status thus Shinya had to be extra picky about a partner. Most people only wanted their money. Luckily Shinya was good with people and he was able to 'see' their intentions in their eyes, the way they moved or behaved around them. Nowadays, or especially these days there are almost no people you can fully trust. And most people bore him anyway. Shinya always felt like working for a higher cause, living for a higher cause... seeing the poor starve to death, unemployed people, uneducated people. Something had to be done.

The front door opened because his parents returned from church. And they were not alone. A third voice echoed through the house and Shinya closed the book in utter shock. He looked around in panic and pinned his hair up with a pencil, He stood up and straightened his skirt... wait a moment, he wore the long black skirt he always used to wear at home because it was so comfortable. His father HATED it when he did that but his mother didn't mind. 'The Scots wear them all the time' she used to say then. But he really shouldn't wear it when guests were here. It was too late to run upstairs without being seen. His parents entered the living room... and behind them the person he last wanted to see in that outfit. Shinya's father sent glares to his son, seeing him dressed so inappropriate, his mother was positively surprised to see him feeling better. As to the visitor....

“Priest Daisuke,” Shinya nodded politely at him, “Mother, father.”

Shinya just wanted to vanish and so did his father. As to the priest... he lifted his eyebrows for the split of a second when he first saw Shinya standing all feminine with the long, black skirt, the blouse and the pined up hair with a few loose strands. Shinya didn't only move like a girl sometimes, he absolutely looked like one. No wonder it tricked his mind before.

“Good day.” The priest replied. “How are you feeling today?” He politely asked.

“Much better. My family and I are much obliged to your help. Thank you so much for your help and advise.” Shinya bended down slightly.

“You're welcome.” Die replied but before everything turned into a longer conversation, Shinya's father suggested his son to get changed and join them for lunch later. Of course Die got the tone in the father's voice and he saw Shinya's face.

Shinya excused himself and passed them before he went upstairs into his room. Die turned his gaze down when Shinya rushed past them... his fresh washed hair smelled in the wind he left behind, graciously he walked up the stairs and then he was gone. His father excused his son's 'strange' taste in clothing but Die told him that he got used to a lot of folklore costumes during his travels in foreign lands. He was not only young but educated and intelligent as well. Shinya's father knew that and appreciated it. As for Shinya: He knew that from the start. Die's eyes were not only warm and compassionate but intelligent as well.... But why did they bring the priest back here? Shinya guessed that his parents must have invited him for lunch to thank him.

Back his room, Shinya looked at his clock and realized that lunch would be served soon. He was now appropriately dressed with a silk vest, white shirt and the matching trousers. His hair combed back in a long ponytail. A soft knock on the door and Shinya answered that he would join immediately. He put his book back into its shelf and when he turned around he breathed in startled. A tall, masculine person, all clad in black stood at the door inside his room. Die closed the door silently behind him. Shinya was too surprised and admittedly too nervous about what to say. Why was he here? Then he saw the rosary lying on his little table.

“Oh I'm so sorry, I forgot!” Shinya rushed over to the table and picked up the rosary. “You forgot it the other day.” He walked over to Die but when he looked up into his face his mouth became dry and he didn't know what to say. As for Die, his eyes beamed warmly at him. He lifted his hand, ready to take the rosary but instead he lay his huge hand around Shinya's long fingers and closed them around the rosary.

“It was a gift.” His voice was so warm and caring. “You have a thing for Angels?”

“W-well I guess.” What a stupid answer was that? Shinya thought. “I like the thought of being guided.” Shinya blushed even more when he realized Die still having his hand closed around his hand. “I must apologize for the inappropriate choice of clothing earlier.”

Die made an astonished face. He pulled back his hand and moved slightly backwards to look at Shinya from head to toe. “If you ask me,” he started, “I preferred the skirt too but that's our little secret.” He blinked and truly: Shinya looked kind of odd in this male vest and trousers. “Look at me,” Die grabbed for his long, black priest cloak which reached from breast to toe, “I'm wearing a skirt too and no one says a word.” Shinya laughed and it was true: The priests' cloaks were long, black dresses but strangely it looked good on him and not at all feminine. Daisuke seemed like an open-minded person and Shinya liked that about him. He seemed like so much more than a priest, surely because he had traveled the world before. He was witty and surely an interesting person to talk to. Shinya looked at the rosary in his hand and stretched his hand out towards Die again.

“It looks very expensive. I really can't take it. After all you have done for us-”

Die shook his head. “It was yours the moment I learned about your love for Angels. Please take it for your prayers.”

Shinya pressed his lips together tightly. Something seemed to displease him. The priest looked strangely back at Shinya. “I'm sorry if I've offended you-”

Shinya shook his head. “No. It's me. I must admit that outside church I'm not a regular prayer.” Bitterness in his voice and Die felt that this pain seemed to go much deeper. Something must hurt him very much. “Please excuse me. I didn't mean to sound unthankful-”

“What hurt you so much?” The question was straight forward. Die looked back at Shinya who hold the rosary inside his balled fist which rested on his chest. A moment of silence but the priests' sincere look made Shinya talk.

“Life. Circumstances. People starving on the street and others burned alive.”

Die lowered his gaze. He nodded as he understood perfectly. “I understand.” He looked back at the delicate man in front of him who looked like a scared kitten all of a sudden. Die made one step towards him and he lay his hand over Shinya's fist which still rested protectively over his chest. “Have faith. If not in church then in love.”

The young man looked surprised about the words coming from a priest. The first priest he knew who was still kind of human underneath this heavy black clothing. Shinya moved his hand and Die pulled back his arm.

“I will pray for love.” He opened his fist and looked at the rosary.

Die smiled. He stretched out his hand again and placed it over Shinya's forehead. How come he always had to touch the delicate man? Shinya shrieked under the unexpected touch. “Don't be scared.” Die murmured something very quiet before he removed his hand again. Shinya touched his head and looked up at the priests' face, his cheeks beaming beautifully.

“If you need someone to talk to, you can always come to me. I'm sworn to silence.”

Shinya nodded thankfully.

“Now we better join your parents for lunch before we have to come up with an excuse.”

Shinya smiled and he followed Die out of his room.... Shinya didn't want to stare but he had no choice but to look up and down the priests' masculine backside which fit so perfectly with the long, dark robe. He concentrated on the stairs while the priest concentrated on the conversation he had earlier with Shinya's father.

Shinya’s old enough for starting his own family. Maybe an intellectual person with power, like you priest Daisuke, can give us the best advise. I'm looking forward hearing about your recommendation about a suited young woman for an upcoming engagement.’

The situation Die had just been thrown into on this very day seemed to get complicated. Out of politeness Die agreed to give advise when a woman seemed to be suitable. But why his heart started to feel heavy each time the phrases repeated in his head, he didn't know.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

No one said a word about the plan Shinya's father had come up with. His parents were eager to see their son married soon and now they even 'hired' their local priest to look out for suitable partners. Shinya would inherit his father's business and for that he needed a helping hand, a wife, when his parents were no longer. When it came to relationships, Shinya became the 'triple s': Shy, strange and senseless. His mother tried to talk with him about relationships more than once but all she got as an answer was that he was ‘not ready, had no urge to, no one interested him and that he was happy with the situation now’... in short: It was frustrating. For all of them. And seriously threatening. Their social status in town and village was important as well. To the villagers they had to look like a serious and reliable business partner. And for that Shinya had to take responsibility for his life and especially the business.

It was the middle of the week and Shinya was full healthy again. His father told him to get new clothes for the upcoming spring celebration but the way he urged him to get something new seemed rather strange, even or especially for his father. Shinya went into town anyway on his horse Leila. At the dressmaker's, he overheard some old ladies talking about something in the church's garden. They were quite agitated about it. He wondered what it was and since it was the third week he was absent from church because of his illness, he decided to pay a visit at the church grounds. He rode up the hill and stopped his horse in front of the stone wall around the church's property. He took Leila's reins and tied them around a tree inside the huge property. He passed the church, as it was closed today anyway. Shinya entered the cozy but beautifully overgrown garden next to it. There was a little fountain and a stone bench inside the garden but what caught his attention was something else.

Right in the middle of the flowerbed stood a new, huge statue. Even in the distance Shinya saw that it was beautifully crafted. He saw the thinking face of the statue, the long, flowing gown but only when Shinya walked around it he saw the majestic, huge wings on the statue's back. It was an enormous, androgynous, beautiful Angel, his hair long and curled. He sat on a squared stone, like waiting for something or rather like watching something. One of his hand was steady on the stone while with the other one he touched his chin. What differed from all the Angels he knew before was a tender veil which hung over his face but he seemed to see through it. Amazed, Shinya observed the statue from all sides. He stepped back to get a better view and he stumbled. He gasped in shock but felt how arms got to hold him around his shoulders... he looked straight into Die's surprised face.

“Are you okay?”

Shinya nodded and Die helped him up.

“I'm sorry.” Shinya apologized. “I was sunken in thoughts.”

Die smiled and nodded while Shinya tried to recall when he saw him the last time... and he hated himself for recalling it immediately.

“You discovered him.” Still the happy smile on his face.

“Priest Daisuke...”

“Please call me Die.”

Shinya nodded insecure. “Only if you call me Shinya.”

“Happily oblige.”

Shinya shouldn't feel happy about an insignificant little thing like that. He also realized that Die was dressed in 'private' clothes today. Trousers, Shirt and vest but he wore the white collar nevertheless.

“I saw your horse outside the garden.”

Shinya seemed surprised. “You know about Leila?”

Die laughed insecure and scratched his head. “Well, kind of. Your mother gave me a ride the day you were sick. I don't have a horse... it's a beautiful animal.”

“Thank you.” Silence arouse and Shinya followed Die's gaze up to the new Angel statue.

“Do you know what kind of Angel that is?” Die asked without taking his eyes off the statue. Shinya looked at the veil-covered face but he had never heard of such an Angel before.

“Not really.”

Die turned his attention to Shinya and narrowed his eyes funnily. “Promise not to tell anyone and I will tell only you.”

Shinya's heart made a slight jump. “Promise.”

Die made one step closer to Shinya and he tried to keep his voice down. “You see, a friend of mine is a stonemason and this Angel is one of a kind. There are many Angels the Bible doesn't speak of. You surely heard about the Seraphim, Cherubim, Guardian Angels... these are well know but this Angel is a 'Demon Angel'.” Shinya was glued to every word Die said. He was so pleasant to listen to and he had a gift to tell stories.

“It is a secret Angel-class. Only God knows about their identity. It is their task to keep the secrets of heaven, finding out about conspiracies and devilish secrets.” It was so interesting. Shinya observed the statue again with the knowledge he just gained. “And church allowed you to put up such a scandalous Angel statue?”

“Only two people in this village know about the true story so I guess it's okay.” Die blinked at Shinya and the young man looked down while his cheeks slightly blushed.

“Maybe one day I would love to draw it.” Shinya said.

“You can come here and anytime you feel like it. Say hello and you might even get a cup of tea.”

Shinya bent slightly down. He didn't know why but the offer made him really happy. A gush of wind played with his ponytail and he came back to his senses. It was really time to return home for supper.

“I should return. Thank you for your offer, Priest Die.”

Die lifted one eyebrow. “Shinya,” the young man's heart missed a beat when Die called him out of the blue like that, “we are about the same age, aren't we? Just Die is good enough.”

With that statement he had created a room of privacy no one else was allowed to interfere. And Shinya knew that or at least he had an inkling.

“So Die... see you next Sunday.”

A dazzling smile and a nod before the auburn-haired beauty turned around and left the garden to get back to his horse. But he didn't leave the grounds unobserved. A pair of warm, brown eyes followed the floating hair until he had disappeared in the distance.... and the smile on the priest’s face died down. What did he do? Every time he saw or talked to Shinya he behaved super polite and sweet but he couldn't help it. It happens automatically with Shinya. And the mere thought of finding him a finance in the name of Shinya's father... it didn't feel right and Die guessed that Shinya would hardly approve of it. Die decided that it would be best to behave like a gentleman and remain silent about it.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After Shinya had returned home there was something in the air and it didn't feel pleasant or happy to him. He passed the living room and stopped when he heard his mother asking from the inside. His father was nowhere to be seen.

“Hello Shinya. How was your trip to town?”

It was the way how only parents were able to ask and by the tone of it Shinya knew immediately that something was up.

“Pleasant, thank you.”

“I see.” His mother stood up from the armchair and looked at him. She gestured him to come inside and Shinya breathed in deeply. He guessed he knew what this was all about.

“Shinya, I know we've had several discussions about this one topic-”

Shinya rolled his eyes.

“But your father absolutely insists on getting it settled.”

The young man breathed deeply in and out and tried to keep his calm.

“You are almost too old getting married-”

“I'm twenty-seven Mom.”

“And soon you will take over your fathers business and estates. To manage everything you will need a reliable woman.”

“You mean to meet other people's expectations. I for myself know that I won't need anybody this close to me.”

“You can't live all alone your life! We will be gone at some point and no one will look out for you. Ever thought of that?”

“I will simply hire a reliable business partner.”

“You've got an answer to everything don't you? It's not only about business and your personal preferences. It's about our family's reputation as well. This business was inherited from your grand grandfather and we will do everything necessary to uphold the family tradition. We need an heir to keep the business running.”

Shinya widened his eyes in shock. This part of the deal was new to him and he realized that he was in too deeply already, there was no escape. He was trapped and depended on his family's fortune as well.

“If you won’t find a suitable woman until the beginning of summer this year, you will join your father on his business trip until winter and you will be finding a woman then, or we will do. I wish I could tell you nicer but these are the facts. I'm sorry Shinya. I know it's hard for you. ”

The young man bit his lip. These were grave news and he still worked on it. It made him speechless. He was mad and sad about the hopeless situation.

“The spring celebration in two days is the best opportunity to meet new people. You will escort us there and you better interact. Otherwise I don't know how your father will react. His patience is wearing thin recently... Shinya, see it as a new challenge. It's part of everybody's life.”

And he hated it. Words could not describe how mad he was. His mother passed him and when she wanted to touch him on his arm he pulled away and left the living room before her, returning into his room. And there he stayed for the rest of the day.

The following days were quiet, even too quiet for a person like Shinya. He spoke when necessary and so did his parents. His father never came to speak of it.

The spring celebration came and Shinya felt stupid even before he had left the house. He felt like being dressed like prince charming: A black trouser with a long sleeved white shirt, fitting black vest with a bound silken scarf around his neck. No one went to an innocent spring celebration this posh, only the higher citizens of course and his parents weren’t shy to count themselves to them. As for Shinya he would have rather enjoyed sitting next to the fire place, observing the fire, the evening sky and the people having fun. He had never been an outgoing person and already now he knew that this evening would be a disaster.

The celebration took place on a meadow next to the church's grounds. It was midday and in less than two hours the sun would go down and the night air would become chilly like it used to be at this time of the year.

The music coming from the meadow made Shinya sick already. Too many people would be there, too many eyes would be starring and way too many stupid questions would be asked. That's what Shinya could already guarantee for.

He walked behind his parents and stopped every ten meters because of the many acquaintances from his father. The usual small talk and false smiles. The usual looks onto his hands to check for an engagement ring... Shinya prayed this day to be over soon.

At some point his mother pulled him closer and pointed over the place with her head. She mentioned a beautiful young Lady. Within moments Shinya got her whole resume and by her looks he knew that this girl was arrogant, cold hearted but beautiful, jippieh. Victory in that point. His mother kept on talking but what caused Shinya's attention was his father a few meters across from them, talking to the priest. Dressed in a decent robe for the celebration but nevertheless with a touch of church. Nevertheless, Die seemed to be the only interesting person on this meadow to talk to and Shinya changed plans.

“Mother, wouldn’t it be polite to say hello to the Priest? Because father is talking to him…”

His mother turned around. “Quite right. But let me assure you to keep an eye on that girl.”

Shinya forced a 'yes' and his mood momentarily changed when they approached his father and the priest. A quick smile went over Die's face when he saw who approached them and his face went back to business when they exchanged the usual lines and good wishes. Die noticed immediately that Shinya felt unpleasant. To be honest, in the distance he didn't even recognize him at first. He looked like a dressed up prince, an actor, a puppet. He felt sorry for the young man.

“Tell me priest Daisuke,” Shinya's mother started, “is your uncle, priest Graham, back in town.”

“I'm afraid he's not Ma'am.” She'd taken him back into reality. “But we await him anytime.” Shinya furrowed his forehead slightly. Being an observing nature he used to get people's moods quickly. Today Die seemed kind of unsettled, maybe even nervous.

“If you will excuse me,” Die excused himself, “I will have a word with the major.”

His parents decided to join the other citizens and his mother gestured Shinya to take a round on his own, meeting new people. Die had left, his parents were gone and there he stood all alone. Not that he felt completely stupid now. Shinya looked around, trying not to look helpless when a deep but pleasant voice said his greetings behind him.

Shinya turned around and looked at a man with gorgeous long blond, curled hair and blue eyes. His clothes were exquisite and Shinya knew immediately that he must be foreign, maybe someone from Paris. Seeing him all beautiful and almost androgynous, he looked like a model of a marble statue.

“Good evening.” Shinya replied and he realized that this person had something positive, if not a scandalous force of attraction.

“I'm sorry for talking to you as a total stranger. I'm on a journey through the country and stopped by in this lovely little village.” He stretched out his hand and Shinya took it. “I'm Kamijo.”

Shinya smiled. “I'm Shinya.” They had exchanged a few words and Shinya had this strange feeling that this person was absolutely trustful and loyal.

“Do you live here?” Kamijo asked.

“Yes.” Not a very happy reply. “And this beautiful little feast is the annual spring celebration.”

Kamijo smirked. “I guessed it right that you don't like it here.”

“Good Lord no. It's my obligation-” Shinya stopped. Bad talking was very rude. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to.”

“I totally understand.”

“So, where are you coming from?”

“I'm just a french writer, traveling the world to seek for inspiration.”

It sounded beautiful. To do whatever pleased you. “That's nice.”

"And you?” Kamijo wanted to know.

“I'm just the heir of a family business. We let estates.”

Kamijo nodded and narrowed his eyes. “You are a beauty and more intelligent than all people counted together here.... what are you really doing here?”

The question was deep philosophical and Shinya found it interesting. “To be perfectly honest: I'm here to look for a fiance but it was not my idea.”

“Your spirit bound under the spell of marriage would be a waste of talent. It would kill you.” Kamijo's words seemed harsh but Shinya was thankful for his honesty.

“How do you know?”

“Trust me. During my travel's I've met people and you can see it in their eyes. You are different.”

“Maybe but these days it is very dangerous to be different. The church, the Inquisition. Mistrust and gossip is everywhere.”

“Then choose your friends well.” He gave one of his dazzling smiles. “I like you Shinya. If you ever need my help, don't hesitate to call on me.”

“KAMIJOOO!” In the distance a chorus of girls called out for his name and Shinya wondered for how long the french nobleman was here.

“My petite beauties, we will join you immediately!” He called back and looked at Shinya. “Care to join?” And since he had nothing better to do he followed Kamijo over to the group of girls. Of course he was perfect in small talk and flattering the girls without getting to personal. As for Shinya, he only smiled, nodded and gave short answers when asked something. So he didn't realize that the arrogant girl his mother talked about earlier had her attention all on Shinya.

Kamijo excused himself when he took one of the beautiful Ladies for a walk. It was then that the arrogant girl approached Shinya. They exchanged their greetings and names. Her name was Elisabeth and Shinya didn't care. There was nothing about this girl which could possibly interest him. Unfortunately, Shinya seemed to be her aim and she asked him to take her around the meadow and being a gentleman.... he said yes.

Usually a man lead the way when taking a walk but this woman was far too dominant and her way of talking, not to mention the topics, were more than Shinya could take. He would rather marry a cow than a woman like this. She startled him when she asked.

“You are so quiet. Do I bore you?”

God knows he wanted to say yes but Shinya always behaved. “I'm sorry. No you don't. I'm just tired.”

All of a sudden her grip around his arm became firm and she walked closer to Shinya. His senses were on high alert and all her excuses about feeling cold seemed threadbare. This woman knew exactly what she was doing and she knew exactly who Shinya was.

“I think we should better return. It's getting dark anyway and-” Shinya said but she rudely interrupted him.

“Are you so dense or just playing the ignorant?”

“Excuse me?” Shinya asked in disbelieve.

She let go off Shinya's arm but only to push him slowly but surely backwards onto a tree. “I’ve never had a man who was so shy, innocent and yet so sexy…”

She leaned into him, coming dangerously close to Shinya's face but he hold her back on her shoulders and slipped away from this tree. She fumed and was terribly disturbed and mad.

“No man ever refused me!”

“I'm sorry but I pass.”

She walked towards Shinya and he had to admit that she scared him. “Look Elisabeth I'm not the man you're looking for and-” But she shut him up while she pressed her mouth onto his lips, holding onto his face. It was Shinya's first kiss and disgusted by her action he pushed her away from him and she landed on the ground, dirtying her light-blue dress. She looked back at him in shock and anger but Shinya was at least the same annoyed and he really battled whether to just leave her behind or really helping her up.

He stretched out his hand and helped her up. She took the offer and after he'd helped her up she pulled back her hand and slapped him right across his face. That movement came too fast and Shinya was shocked and absolutely mad that little brat. It was not his body that hurt but his pride. Narrowing his eyes, Shinya turned around and he walked back the way they had come from, back to the feast. He left her behind and couldn't care less how she would get back on her own. Shinya had enough of this people, this feast and expectations. No one in this world could make him stay here any longer.

It was Kamijo who spotted Shinya in the distance and of course he got his change of moods. “Are you all right?”

It was only one glare from Shinya and Kamijo knew that he wasn't. “Oh my. You took the worst girl for a walk, I get it.”

Shinya still glaring.

“Listen to the advise of an old man: Forget all the expectations, all the people. Only listen to your heart. You know what's best for you.” He lay one hand onto Shinya's shoulder and the young man breathed out. That advise was simple but the best. Shinya was so blind. He thanked Kamijo who looked back at him with his deep blue eyes... he was a charming man but yet he transmitted power, nobleness and power. For Shinya he seemed like a God.

“It was a pleasure to meet you Kamijo.” He stretched out his hand and said goodbye to him. He really wanted to go home immediately.

“The pleasure was all mine. Hope to see you again some day.”

Shinya nodded politely and turned around to walk back to the crowd. When he looked around for his parents he realized that Kamijo was nowhere to be seen. He must have left as well straight afterward.

But something else got Shinya's attention. Next to the church grounds he saw how the priest talked to a young girl... and it was not such a small talk, 'how're you doing'-kind of talk. Die seemed quite charming and the girl seemed to enjoy the conversation very much. Shinya narrowed his eyes and wondered since when priests were allowed to hook up with girls...it was the fact that his father joined the conversation which really shocked him. His father talked to Die and the girl and Shinya knew immediately that something was quite strange about that scenery.

He wanted to leave. Now. Even alone when necessary. Shinya turned around but his father's voice called out for him. The young man stopped in his tracks and cursed why he didn't run. He turned around unimpressed and said hello to everyone. Die got his mood straight away but his father was the ignorance in person. But there was something else in Shinya's eyes that Die didn't like one bit... something must have happened. Shinya's inner balance was missing and he seemed hurt somehow. Die couldn't help himself but to feel strangely protective of Shinya, for the first time. He so wanted to talk to him in private but it seemed impossible.

“There is someone I wanted to introduce to you Shinya.” His father gestured the young girl to step forward and she bended down politely.... Shinya wanted to scream and pull on his hair. When did that nightmare end?

“Her name is Sophia.”

And as polite as Shinya was he exchanged the words everybody wanted him to hear. But the way how he did it a stone could have won the competition by far. His father was not pleased at all and Shinya saw it on his face. He excused himself for not feeling well and it was then that Die realized the slight red mark on Shinya's cheek... What happened to him?! Die wanted to know and do something immediately.

As for Shinya, he left the group behind after another excuse and his father had all trouble to cheer up the shy girl. OF COURSE Shinya knew why they had introduced that girl to him... he wondered what a couple they would have made: Two mute, shy people married. Well, maybe it wasn't the worst option when he thought back to the arrogant Elisabeth from before.

His father had followed him to the end of the meadow and he pulled Shinya back on his shoulder. “How dare to embarrass the three of us like that?”

“What father? I said hello, excused myself and left. What do you expect of me?”

“Interaction! I introduced that girl with a cause!”

“I've had a terrible day and my head aches. I want to go home, now.”

“But you can't! I-!”

“You and mother can enjoy the feast. I will return on my own.”

His father yelled and scolded behind Shinya. “We will have a serious conversation tomorrow!” And Shinya as polite as he was excused himself for not feeling well and he made his way back home alone, by foot and it was in the middle of the night when he finally returned.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The following morning Shinya had an endless lecture from his father. According to him Shinya was spoiled, impolite and selfish. Not caring about the family business, their reputation... the same things he had heard from his mother countless times before.

“You are always sulking and never interacting! No wonder no one wants to get close to you!”

That hurt. A lot. It silenced Shinya even more than before and he looked down onto his hands. He listened to a few more accusations before he stood up and left the room, despite his father calling him to stop.

Shinya slammed the door shut but his father went on ranting while his mother tried to calm him down. He didn't want to cry. He wouldn't allow himself to cry. Shinya swallowed his anger and lay down into his bed. He covered himself with his comforter and couldn't help it when a few single tears dropped onto his pillow. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. He started to dream.

In his dream Shinya felt his consciousness being wide open. He was drawn to a scenery, he heard voices and thoughts, a warm feeling encircled him. There were two people walking under the sun and Shinya knew that he was gone... an man and a young boy.... this boy was his son. Shinya simply knew it and his heart was full with love when he saw the little boy walking on his own and his adopt father walking behind him.

Daddy, where is mommy?’

Shinya couldn't see faces he only heard their voices, their thoughts. He observed them from a sphere they were not aware of.

'The Angels took her back into heaven and instead they left you here on earth.' He responded.

'But I want to see her.'

'Some day we will meet again. You must be patient.'

Shinya felt like crying. They were so lovely and the feeling of 'home' spread in his heart. A feeling Shinya never really knew. His ghost, his soul, spread over the little boy and Shinya kissed him onto his head. The boy didn't realize it.

'… I love you my child.’

Shinya had tears in his eyes. He knew instinctively that he loved them so much and he knew that one day they would be reunited.

Shinya felt how he unfolded his wings. It was the last occasion to meet them. He would return into heaven to wait for them there but not before he took one last glimpse of his beloved man. The man turned his face around slowly. Dark strands of hair hung deep into his face and before Shinya was able to make out features....

Shinya awoke from his sleep and breathed in and out loud in shock. Scared and amazed by the intense feelings he moved up into a sitting position, resting with his head on his hands. What kind of dream was that? It felt so real... and the tears in his eyes were real too. And all this emotions and love he had felt seemed real too.

Shinya recalled that some time ago he had a dream about giving birth to a baby boy.... could it be? An ongoing story? Of what? A strange life? His life? No, it was impossible.

Slowly he stood up from his bed, it seemed quiet in the house. Carefully Shinya opened his door and he heard his parents talking downstairs in the living room. He tiptoed to the railing and out of curiosity he listened.

His mother talked. “Shinya is not ready for marriage yet. Maybe we have to wait some more...” Of course it was about him.

“We don't have time to wait! We are all getting older!” His father obviously still upset.

“And what to do next? We can't burden him any longer with looking for any more girls for Shinya when he turns them all down anyway.”

Shinya widened his eyes in shock. What are they talking about?

“I know. I will release him from my request.”

Whom where they talking about?

“When will you tell the priest to stop looking for any more girls?”

Shock and realization went through Shinya's whole body and everything started to make slowly sense. It couldn't be... that they asked Die to look out for potential fiances? He was speechless and found the whole idea quite crude.

“I will apologize to him next Sunday. Shinya will join me on my business trip coming summer and then I will take care of finding someone suitable.”

Not only was Shinya's future decided for him now, he was also deeply hurt about the whole conspiracy. With shaking hands he went back into his room. He closed his eyes for a moment before he took his coat and leather gloves. Then he stormed out of his room and downstairs past the living room.

“What are you doing?!”

“Going out for a ride!!” And the door was slammed shut behind the furious man.

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 11 / 3 of 5

 

The last life on earth

 

The Die and Shinya-Chapters

 

 

 

The sun on that day was close to set but Shinya didn't care. He didn't care if it was an appropriate time to visit people or if it was appropriate to ride so fast through the village. He rode as fast as wind could take him over the fields up to the place where he would find HIM. Blind of anger, rage and something else... maybe it was hurt but he didn't allow himself to believe that.

He jumped down from his horse in front of the parish. His hair was a mess, his cloak swung dangerously with the dramatic wind... Shinya looked as if hell sent him personally up here. The furious man looked to his left and found the church doors open. He stormed right into it without cleaning his shoes or murmuring a short prayer.... Shinya stomped to the very end of the church and stopped when no one could be seen. The candles were lightened so anybody must have been here. A noise at the door and Shinya turned around. And it was him. Die, holding a book under his arm looked perplex at the beauty who stood in front of the altar.

“Shinya?” Came the unbelievable question.

And it set the man on fire. Shinya stomped his way back to the entrance, his cloak floated with the moves he made and his hair blew dangerously back from his anger filled face.... and slowly but surely Die got an insecure feeling. His survival instinct told him to run but he stood glued to the ground. Shinya was within reach so Die asked if everything was all right but before the priest was able to close his mouth he already felt the hot sting on his cheek and he dropped the book in his arms.

Startled, Die hold his cheek and looked back at the furious young man in front of him.

“YOU!“ Shinya pointed at him. “YOU are the biggest traitor I’VE EVER MET!!”

“Please…” Die croaked. He was surprised himself about the weakness in his voice.

“Don't speak!! All the time you're smiling and talking to me but behind my back you are-!” Shinya paused. “How could you!”

Slowly, tires began to work and Die had an inkling what this was all about. He looked back at Shinya and saw the anger in his eyes but there was something else as well... And he felt miserable. He felt miserable the moment his father wanted him to help in that love-matter and Die knew that it was wrong but he couldn't say no to Shinya's father. And now Shinya was mad and disappointed and Die felt like a bastard. He turned his gaze down and murmured an apology.

“I'm sorry Shinya. I just wanted to help-”

“HELP?! Do you have any idea in what trouble I am?! No, you don't. And I thought-” He stopped abruptly. It didn't matter now anyway.

“So did he pay you for your service?”

Die leaned his head aside and narrowed his eyes. “Shinya, of course not! I didn't want to be rude to your father and believe me it was not easy for me too.”

“And I thought you would be different... but it doesn't matter any longer.” Things were settled. His father would find him a fiance when Shinya left with him for a business trip this summer.

One last bad glare and he passed Die without another word. His hair flowing with the wind when he passed him, his eyes too full of emotions.

Shinya left the church and Die closed his eyes, listening to the angry footsteps walking over the gravel. The priest battled with his mind whether to run behind him or letting him be but he was too shocked himself about the temper and accusations... and Shinya had every right to be mad at him.

Outside the church walls, a french nobleman with long, curled blond hair leaned against the property wall as if waiting for someone. In the distance he heard angry footsteps coming closer and then he saw Shinya, getting his horse and leading it out the courtyard. Shinya already wanted to get onto his horse but Kamijo interrupted him.

“Hello Shinya.”

Startled, the young man turned around and he recognized Kamijo from the spring celebration.

“Kamijo! What are you doing here?”

“Just taking a walk before leaving this village-” Kamijo stopped talking when he saw a similar disturbed priest running out of the church. Die stopped in the middle of the courtyard and looked around in panic. His face dropped when he saw whom Shinya was with and Kamijo got it. “Care to join me?” He suggested anyway.

Shinya agreed and he lead his horse next to him out of the property, Kamijo followed him. The priest however who observed the whole situation stayed back and decided not to follow them. He went back into the church.

The silence between them was heavy. Kamijo looked at the young man with his dropped shoulders, the horse pulling Shinya behind him on his reins. His face had changed from mad to sad and there was no movement, no look which wouldn't have betrayed Shinya. Kamijo raised one eyebrow and he breathed out loud.

“Oh my, what a bad timing of me. I didn't want to disturb you.”

“What do you mean?” Shinya asked.

“Come on. I saw you and I saw him.”

“Him?”

“Of course! Following you! He wanted to speak with you!”

“I don't care.” Shinya said with the most non-challantly tone he could bring up.

Kamijo unfolded his fan and looked into the distance, his face bearing a wide beam.

“What are you smiling about? Stop it!” Shinya said.

“Ohohohoho….” Was Kamijo's only response.

“I don't like you making fun-” But Kamijo interrupted Shinya.

“Hoooooooow scandalous.” Kamijo hold the fan in front of his face, allowing only his eyes to look over the edge. Slowly, even Shinya got a hint what Kamijo was appealing to.

“Stop it, right now.”

“With whaaaat?” His beaming became unbearable.

“Argh!” Shinya pulled on the reins in frustration and the horse stopped.

Kamijo was amused by Shinya's obvious reactions. “Calm down sweat heart. There's nothing to be ashamed of.”

“You are right! There IS NOTHING to be ashamed of.”

“Not yet.” Kamijo enjoyed this game too much while Shinya simply glared at him.

“You must know,” Kamijo continued, “that there was no move, no look which wouldn’t have betrayed you. You do 'react' towards him. Maybe you don’t realize it but you do.”

With his mouth wide open, Shinya stuttered explanations. “Y-you know that any accusation of such a wild theory could finish us all!”

“Then remain silent about it.” Kamijo waved up with his fan, making a not caring gesture. Then he lowered his head to Shinya's and whispered at him. “I have seen and heard of things inside the royal palais you wouldn’t even think of. But do you know what? That’s their business! Why should people care!”

Shinya blushed, thinking about the meaning of his words. But life was not so easy outside of court. He sighed.

“It's eating you and I'm sure the priest too. He's a sensitive man, don't hurt him unnecessarily. I know such kind of people. They are noble at heart.”

Shinya sighed again. Kamijo continued. “You should make up with people you care about. That's what's really important.”

“I know I can get a temper but-”

“Think about it!” The blond interrupted Shinya. “My my, so late again. Well I guess I have to leave.”

Shinya nodded and thanked Kamijo for the walk and wished him a pleasant journey. He felt better already maybe because Kamijo had such a kind of nature to calm people down. Shinya really liked him and he knew that he would miss him. The young man got onto his horse.

“Will we meet again?” Shinya wanted to know.

“I'm sure we will. One day, another time, another place.” Kamijo blinked at him and with a last nod and a dazzling smile Shinya rode into the distance and Kamijo looked behind him until he couldn't see him no longer. His smile left his face while the upcoming wind played with the long, golden locks of his hair. With another gust of heavy wind, leaves danced around him and when Kamijo was sure that no one was around, his body dissolved into thin air and he had vanished.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was dark when Shinya arrived at home and his parents were nowhere to be found. He was glad about it. They must have gone out to town, meeting friends or something, maybe even looking for a fiance, who knows. After all this anger and thinking, Shinya felt simply empty when he returned up into his room and god knows he wouldn't have been able to have any kind of conversations for the rest of the day.

His breathes were heavy when he sunk into his armchair and covered his legs with a blanket. The book in his hands was some kind of novel he didn't even care about and reading the same sentence for the 10th time didn't make things any better. Frustrated he lay his book aside and stared at his hands.... he really slapped Die across the face today. Repeating the scene in front of his eyes, he still saw the look on his face. Was it hurt? All Shinya knew was that he maybe overreacted and he felt kind of ashamed. Maybe Die was really only pulled into this whole mess because of his father.

Shinya sunk his head into his hand, closing his eyes. The whole ongoing suddenly became too heavy to bare and he felt close to tears. He rubbed his eyes when suddenly the doorbell rang and he almost fell off his armchair in shock. The young man went downstairs and he looked through the little window to make out who it was.... and the long black robe and its silhouette was unmistakable.

In shock, Shinya leaned against the wall with his back, breathing quickly in and out while he looked around in panic. He so did not feel to open the door. A hundred thoughts crossed his mind how to evade him but it seemed impossible, now that the priest must have seen the house illuminated.

The doorbell rang a second time and it took Shinya's whole courage to open it.

“Hello.” Was all Shinya was able to say.

And 'Hello' was the same blunt reply he got. It was the way Die stood there: His face, body language and his typical beam were amiss. And Shinya hated himself for it because he felt responsible. Why was it so hard to say I'm sorry? So he continued the 'cold' conversation.

“If you want to speak to my parents they are currently not at home.”

“Actually I'm here because of you.” And the tone how he said it was not pleasant at all. Shinya tried not to meet his eyes. “Do you want to discuss everything at the door?” Die went further on and the young man stepped aside and he let the priest in. Die didn't enter the house and remained standing behind the door while Shinya was much too occupied studying the floor's texture.

The young man gasped a few times before actually a tone came out. “I-I know it was not right... my behavior and-and me yelling at you... but I was so... so hurt because of this conspiracy and-”

Heavy steps echoed over the wooden floor... Shinya closed his eyes, afraid of what was about to come. “I know that my behavior is punishable by the law and-” But Shinya couldn't end his sentence when he felt his chin being lifted and warm lips sealing his trembling mouth. Shinya stood frozen on his spot and widened his eyes in shock. A warm hand on his nape softly pulled him closer and he closed his eyes in reflex when Die kissed him again, more demanding, more intense. Shinya softly kissed him back and hearing Die breathing in and out between their kiss made him loose all logic. Die's cold hands dig into Shinya's hair and it fell down all loose over his arms. Shinya gasped in between their kiss when he felt Die teasing him with his tongue... he was scandalously perfect in kissing and Shinya felt close to loose all of his good-will. He moved back and placed his hands over Die's chest.

“Die, we have to stop!”

“I'm afraid I can't...” He whispered against Shinya's mouth and steadied the younger man with one arm around his waist while he kissed him again. The tender hands on Die's chest became weak.

“My parents, it's dangerous-” A mere gasp in between and Die only stopped to look very deeply at Shinya. “I know but I can't control it. Everything is gone: My good-will, my control and my sense of responsibility.”

Shinya looked in wonder at Die. “I don't understand-”

“I love you. I've fallen in love with you. From the first moment I set eyes on you. There is not a minute nor a day or night I wouldn't think of you.”

It made the young man speechless. He couldn't believe his ears but Die's eyes looked so sincere at him. And all doubts and hurt feelings from previous times had vanished behind those sweet but simple words. Shinya bit his lips and he turned his gaze down. His arms trembled and he steadied himself at Die's arms.

“How can you be so wonderful when I behaved like a monster?”

Die grinned at Shinya. “You were never a monster. Everything you are only fascinated me more.”

Shinya looked back with eyes so full of emotions. He touched Die's cheek and shook his head. “It's impossible.” He said with tears in his eyes.

“I know.” Die breathed against Shinya's palm and kissed it. Shinya looked around in panic and his body tensed. “Die, we really have to stop.” The priest smiled and he pulled Shinya close to himself. “And now, tell me again...” He trailed off and kissed the young man behind his ear. Shinya's breath stopped and he slightly moaned by the touch of this sensitive spot. His voice had left him and Die smiled. He kissed him again but in the middle of it he really stopped and pulled back.

“You're right. I should go.”

Shinya's face gave him away but his voice answered collected. “I think so.” The priest walked over to the entrance door but he turned around one last time... and the sight he got was more seducing than anything else he had ever experienced. Shinya, looked sheepishly at his feet while his cheeks glowed red... he was so fragile and beautiful.

Yet he opened the door and the feeling of separation already hurt him.

“Die!”

The priest turned around one last time.

“I don't want you to go.” Shinya whispered.

The young man didn't end his sentence and winced when he heard the door closing. Strong arms picked him up with ease and carried him upstairs into his room. “Die! It's dangerous-” All this cheap excuses while Die placed his beauty carefully on his bed. He looked at Shinya so demanding but sweet, making his heart flutter. Die's face was so handsome, his voice and behavior too sweet. But......

The young man moved away from underneath Die and stood up. He walked over to the door...

And turned around the key.

It was now or never. Why denying what they both wanted? Because of church? Shinya stood with his back turned towards Die. No one said a word but Shinya felt him standing behind him, his body heat warming Shinya's back. Die's large but beautiful hands glided up Shinya's arms and he titled Shinya's head aside, combing the auburn long hair to the front. He kissed down behind the petite man's ear all the way to his spine.... it sent shivers through Shinya's body.

“Die....” Shinya moaned with half-closed eyes. “... you're not supposed to have intimate contact...” Die stopped and spoke from behind at his ear. “I know.... but because of you I will change everything in my life.”

It was the first time for Shinya being intimate with someone else. His heart raced wildly in his chest when he felt Die close to him, his naked chest touching Shinya's bare shoulders, his heat surrounding him.

Shinya suddenly realized how young he really was. What he might had missed all this years, what his mind, his heart might have craved for.... this heat, contact, passion.... It was the way Die guided him over to his bed, the way he made him feel like being the most beautiful human on earth.... he touched him tenderly, almost with awe... hesitating in every new step he took. None of them too sure what to do but guided by pure instinct, their bodies entwined in their heat, moans and sighs the only way of communication.

What society and church forbade felt all so right and true to them. Feeling Die's weight on his naked body, tasting his lips while his hands almost skilled took care of the rest. They were addicted to each other and the former idea of impossible forgotten. The mere act proved to be crude but was made into something holy because it was him.... he who filled him up, who drove the young man crazy by his movements and his heat, his touches and lips everywhere. The sweet cries in pain and pleasure, giving away the young man's virginity but the turned innocence revealed his need by the scratches on Die's back. And he would carry those marks with pride underneath the black robe which would prove to be impossible to uphold. Because of him. All for him.

This was how it was supposed to be. To feel each other without the boundaries of physics but on another level.

He was still inside Shinya when he lowered his head onto the younger man's neck and buried his face underneath his ear.

It was then when Shinya told him that he loved him.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Sunday couldn't come fast enough. Shinya was close to burst out of happiness and had trouble to play his usual self in front of his parents. But he was so in love.... he saw it when he looked at himself in the mirror, his mind drifted off when he combed his hair, when he ate and drank... he was hopelessly robbed of his senses. And the matter that Die was a man had never troubled him and never would. This person he came to miss like his shadow felt too good to be true. A person who understood and took him how he was and felt.

When Shinya saw the church in the distance his heart started to beat like mad. Together with his parents and many other villagers he would have to share Die today. The night before he tried to come up with ideas about how to steal a few moments with Die alone but the only thing he could think of was taking an innocent walk over the meadows, best alone and without his parents getting suspicious.

“... and you will need new clothes for your journey with your father.” His mother constantly tried to remind Shinya about the upcoming journey this summer and everytime she reminded him a stab into his heart brought him back to reality. “And maybe a new haircut. That long hair of yours is long gone for men-”

“NO! Anything but not the hair!” Shinya contradicted while his mother came up with another fabulous ideas on how to change her boring son into a womanizer. At some point, Shinya simply ignored her as his attention was long elsewhere.

Their new gorgeous priest, at the church's portals and greeting every visitor in person.... soon it was their turn to be greeted with a handshake... he looked so different with his black cloak on. Shinya blushed by the mere thought how Die looked like when he was with him a few nights before.

Then it was Shinya's turn and he felt that Die kept on looking at him even before the person in front of him was hardly gone.

A handshake.... he touched Shinya's cold hands with both of his.... “Good morning, nice to see you.” His look intense for a short moment.

“My pleasure.” Shinya answered with a smile and while he pulled his hands back, he slipped a tiny paper note into Die's hands. It was bold but necessary. Die's collected face slipped for a tiny second but he went on greeting the other visitors normally.

The note in his hands told him about the route Shinya would take for a walk, outside the village, near the forest. Shinya hoped that Die had the chance to follow him at some point.

The mass lasted over one and a half hours. Miraculously, Shinya had no problems to fight his tiredness as Die was just too interesting to observe... he was a man who moved elegantly but certain. His hands were beautiful but Shinya knew that before and there was something in his voice which made everybody paying attention. He loved listening to Die's voice. His voice sounded so sexy on this night and his hands... Dirty thoughts on a Sunday morning were no option for a well brought up young Gentleman like Shinya.

They waited in a row to get out of church again. Now or never it was the best time to inform his mother about his 'talking a walk'-plans.

“Mom, would you mind if I have a walk over the meadows on my own? I need some time for myself…”

His mother looked astonished. “Oh really? And I would have loved to join you…” Cold sweat as a sign of sudden panic, Shinya hated it. But it was his father who rescued him out of the situation. He threw a glare to his wife, making it perfectly clear that he had no motivation to go on a walk whatsoever.

“Very well then. Come back soon and take care.” His mother said and Shinya nodded obediently.

Then it was their turn to say good bye to the Priest on the churches’ doors. First his parents shaking hands and then Shinya's. With his eyes he tried to show Die that he would wait in the garden. The priest slightly nodded and thanked him for his visit.

With his parents finally gone and waiting another half an hour next to the Angel statue in the gardens behind church, Die finally showed up. He looked stressed out but nevertheless he smiled when he saw Shinya waiting for him. Slowly he entered the garden and by his body language Shinya could tell that he kept on playing his role as well-behaved priest. So no hugs or stormy kisses on the property.

“Are you free later on?” Shinya almost whispered.

Die looked back over his shoulders, making sure that no one had followed.

“I can't tell. My uncle had returned and there are things to be done....”

Shinya's face dropped and Die knitted his eyebrows seeing him like that. “I will try to hurry. Can you give me two hours?”

“I can.”

“Return home when the time is up.”

A melancholic nod from Shinya but Die couldn't just leave him like that... another quick look over his shoulder, then he stretched out his hand and took Shinya's hand. Only for a moment he squeezed it tightly, his eyes saying a thousand words and then he turned around and left the garden.

When Die had returned into church, his uncle, priest Graham, already waited there for him. Scolding him for being late he told him about all possible chords which had to be done and Die, slightly over-motivated, started right away.

Shinya was long gone. He left through the back entrance of the gardens and was on his way over the meadows up to the forest. He walked a little bit until he had arrived at the promised spot and he settled down into the grass. Another one and a half hours until he would maybe be able to see his beloved again. Absentminded, Shinya pulled out some grass and his mind wandered off, thinking about many things.... Was this how their future meetings were supposed to be? No honest word in public? Being acquaintances for the rest of their lifes? They had to. Loving the same sex was highly forbidden by law and even more by church. Anybody finding out about it, it could cost their lifes.

Now Shinya slowly realized why Die behaved so cold in the gardens... maybe he would end their little tét a tét anyway. Now with his uncle back in town, the Inquisition and law everywhere... It would be madness, for both of them but the mere thought of never touching, talking to Die in that manner nearly killed him.

Little stones and sticks became Shinya's companions and he counted the hours by the ring of the church bells. After another half an hour he decided to leave. Die was already late and Shinya tried to ignore the coldness hours ago.

He walked back to the village, feeling empty and disappointed. He so wanted to feel Die today, to kiss him, talk to him... he yearned for him, always would.

At the same time Die tried to get his things done in high speed but he was already too late and he knew that. Hope kept him moving and when he finally ran over the meadows, reaching the forest he realized that no one was there. He was hurt and sad too and slumped his shoulders. Breathing heavily in and out he walked over to the promised spot anyway and found grass pressed down where someone must have been sitting. He took a closer look and couldn't believe his eyes when he saw a heart in the grass made out of sticks and stones. Die shook his head and smiled sadly at himself.

He bent down and added a little heart next to it.

Deeply sunken in his thoughts, Die walked back and hold his new rosary in his hands, playing with its little beads. Similar thoughts like Shinya had before crossed his mind but all this thinking left him with no clue either. He knew how dangerous their relationship was but leaving Shinya was absolutely no option either. Die couldn't even grasp that thought. He belonged to him.

And about Shinya's father's plans of taking him with him on this business trip in about three months... it was a painful thought. Even more painful knowing that he would in all probability return engaged.

Die settled down on a little bench in front of the Angel statue and he closed his eyes. He hold his rosary tightly in his hands and murmured a prayer. He was almost done when a loud, unknown voice spoke up, almost startling him to death.

“PAH!” Die looked at where the voice came from and couldn't believe his eyes. “Sure, go on praying to him…” A blasphemous statement followed with a smirk.

Who was he? Die had stopped with his prayers immediately and moved up from the bench, holding the rosary close to his chest. The person in front of him leaned against the Angel statue... he looked like a man but the aura extending from him was powerful and somehow it felt like not belonging into this world. Not to mention the strange clothes...

The creature all of a sudden laughed.

“Please, I'm no creature.”

“Excuse me?!” How come that he knew what Die was thinking? “Who are you? Why are you here?”

“So many questions....” He smiled. “Don't be afraid, I won't hurt you. You must know that I know everything about you.”

Die was shocked. That was the end.

“I already told you that I won't hurt you.” With a charismatic smile the unknown person moved away from the Angel statue and only now Die saw his long hair swaying with every step he made.... he certainly had something inhuman, this stranger. Die hold his rosary even closer but all the stranger did was smiling sarcastically.

“You think that would help?” He stopped in front of Die. He was two heads taller than Die and his eyes in a very bright blue color, his skin was as white as snow. The stranger stretched out his arm, waiting for Die to do the same. “Don’t you say hello like this?”

“Not to strangers.” Die looked with a furrowed forehead up at the stranger who breathed out loud annoyed.

“You are so suspicious! Always have been...”

“What do you mean?”

“We know each other, although you can't recall it here on earth.”

What in God's name did he talk about?

“I'm your Guardian Angel... well from today on former Guardian Angel that is.”

“Wha-? Yes, sure. I understand.” Then he paused for a moment, realization set in. “Oh my God.” If a priceless stupid facial expressions received a price, Die would definitely deserve it. With all due respect it was unbelievable and the Angel in front of him laughed.

“Not so loud! People could hear us!” Die said in panic. He was the last one who wanted to get caught with a looney in the churches garden.

“No one can hear me because only you can see me.... but listen, I don't have much time to chat. In fact I'm not even allowed to show myself to you but since I'm breaking all the rules anyway....”

Die paid attention as this started to get interesting no matter how crazy it sounded. “Did you come here to tell me something important?”

“Well, not really.”

“WHAT?! So you just came here to chat?!”

“No, of course not. I just wanted to tell you a few things before it means good bye for me.”

“It's about Shinya, am I right?”

“Your precious, little Shinya... a damn hot babe no matter what century he lifes in.”

Die looked in disbelieve back at the Angel who continued. “It was only a question of time until the both of you found each other again.”

“Again? What do you-“

“Come on, you know it and he knows it as well. He’s your soul-mate, your partner through all eternity. It is your and his destiny to find each other in every reborn life again. Don’t tell me you didn’t know... priest?” A sarcastic smile again, specialty of him.

“Well, it is too much of a romantic fairy tale-thought…”

“See, you are thinking too much like always. That's one thing I always wanted to tell you: Listen to your heart, your intuition and....” He made a thinking face. “I wanted to tell you so much more but forgot most of it. You see, they took my angelic powers away so I decided to tell you the last things I have seen for you…”

“What do you mean with having seen?”

“As a Guardian Angel until a certain point we can look into the future of our protégé... you know to help them and stuff. Sometimes we tell them in an unconscious state but here I am: All lively and in person.”

“Okay.” Die said kind of uneasy. Trying to ignore the fact from the bible that it was forbidden to do fortune-telling or anything compared to that.

“Pay attention and don't be scared…” The Angel lifted his long, slender fingers and he took Dies head in between his hands. The Angel closed his eyes and concentrated, trying to transmit something but it didn't work. He lowered his hands and balled his fists while he looked up into heaven and started to shout: “You’re taking everything from me, don’t you?! You never really loved me, never!!!”

Surprised by the sudden outburst, Die looked around again if really no one heard the Angel screaming.

“Then the old fashioned way...” He looked back at Die. “I have to tell you instead of transmitting visions. Now listen: It is you who helps Shinya out of the misery with an idea.” He paused and Die waited patiently while the Angel closed his eyes and tried to remember. “My memories are incomplete, non-challant memories....”

“Important for me?” Die wanted to know, he became curious.

"For your ego maybe.... Shinya loves your smile and your hair...”

A smile crept over Die's face.

“And people in this village like you and your masses but be careful: Not all are to be trusted. It is best not to trust anybody understand?”

Die nodded

“And remember: You have to help Shinya with an idea.”

“Thank you for your advise.”

The Angel nodded and stepped back from Die. He looked at his protégé very intense for a moment.

“You are a sight of man, maybe you don’t realize it. Why did you become a priest anyway? Life could be so much fun Daisuke... well, anyway. Make the best of it as physical pleasures don't exist in heaven.”

“You're an Angel! You are not supposed to say this!”

“Who said that I am an Angel any longer?”

Die was shocked. “So-so you… you are a demon! Gods creatures would have never been allowed to look into the future either!”

“Ah! Don’t bore me with that childish ideas of church! In fact you guys have NO IDEA what’s really going on.” He paused but continued after a moment. “Believe me when I tell you that I was your Guardian Angel and I enjoyed it. But now we both have to move on.”

“Wait! Why are you going? Does that mean I have no Guardian Angel anymore?”

“I can't tell you what will happen after I've left but God always has a plan. Good people working in the name of God always get rewarded in heaven.” A warm smile from the Angel. He sighed. “I wanted to meet you this last time in person and I'm glad I was able to.”

“Where are you going to?” Die asked.

“Honestly, I don't know.” He looked around and his gaze stuck at the Angel statue. “Nice statue by the way. It was my inspiration I gave you and you got it... anyway!” He made motions to leave.

“Angel, you haven’t told me your name yet!”

“For chriss sake, you don't even recall my name? I'm the infamous Sugizo... but Angels call me Lucifer, the Angel who was most beautiful and most loved by God and expelled by the same one because I loved myself to much, or at least he said so....” He rolled his eyes. “Fare well, Daisuke and good luck!”

“Thank you! And I guess... good luck to you too!”

And with a stroke of wind the Angel had disappeared.

The priest felt how something around his wrist was undone and his rosary slipped down to the ground. The threat was broken and all the little pearls fell down into the grass. Die knelled down to collect the pearls but when he looked for the crucifix he couldn't find it.

It was gone.

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 12 / 4 of 5

 

The last life on earth

 

The Die and Shinya-Chapters

 

 

 

Things in their little, catholic town became strange. Not through any actions or talking but there was just something in the air that tasted bitter. The council people from their village knew it and Die and his Uncle knew it as well: Highly important visit from Rome had arrived together with priest Graham some days ago. If it was the Inquisition, Die didn't know but anything from Rome meant trouble and these old men really didn't look like being on vacation.

What got Die's attention on this normal weekday was his uncle walking stressful through the parish, obviously looking for something. The old man searched every room and returned later with some heavy books under his arms.

The visit of these old men with red robes followed the same day. Stern and loud voices could be heard inside priest Graham's little office. The talking and instructions lasted almost an hour. Die almost forgot about them while he attended his own business but he was called into his uncle's office immediately afterwards.

“Daisuke, have a seat.” His uncle offered and Die noticed that his face looked tired. The heavy, black leather bounded books in front of his desk were randomly opened.

“Uncle?” Die had to remind him that he was there. Sunken in thoughts the old priest Graham shook his head.

“I'm sorry, I'm just a little tired these days....”

“This men...” Die wanted to know.

“Oh yes, these men.... they were really sent from Rome and will be traveling the country the following weeks.”

And it was his tone that told Die that something was about to change.

“So it was the Inquisition.”

“Descendants of it... which means we have a lot to do.” Priest Graham pointed at the books with his chin. “You certainly know that church is on its peak on the hunt of disbeliever. Any suspicious disbeliever, black magicians and witches must be brought forward to court and this is where our job starts....”

The mere thought of supporting this hunt-madness gave Die a paralyzed feeling from head to toe.

“Us servants of holy church...”

Die wanted to shout in that he was a servant of God but he remained silent.

“... have to observe every citizen in this village and write down any suspicious action, remarks or behavior. And every suspicious person must be brought into court for a personal hearing.”

It was not only close to madness but almost impossible. He and his uncle observing a whole village and making reports to Rome? Die tried to work on that information. He opened his mouth several times before he really knew what he was asking. “And how are we supposed to observe all these people?”

“Soon the two of us have to visit each house in the village and write reports about each family. But it is strictly forbidden to tell them about the Inquisition's plans.... we will tell them that it's just a security control.”

So at least the mission was clear: The church wanted to see blood. And they made Die and his uncle their servants. Servants of madness and Die wasn't so sure if he was able to stand it. He felt helpless and trapped in something he had no control over. And it scared him.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Shinya jolted in his sleep when he heard something scratching on his window in the middle of the night. He was scared to death and it took him another few minutes before he was brave enough to reach over to his little table to lit the candle. With Die's rosary close to his chest he walked bravely over to his window and jolted when a clear knock came from his window frame. With one fast movement he pulled the curtain away and found Die's face looking back at him in surprise.

“Die!“ Shinya mouthed and opened his window. He helped him inside his room, wondering how the priest could possibly climb that tree next to his window in the middle of the night.

And he hold him tight. Die embraced Shinya with trembling arms and the coldness from the night extended from Die's cloak to Shinya's pajama. The young man felt Die's distress immediately and he cared over Die's back, simply hugging him back.

“Die, what-”

But his words were cut off by a long kiss, cold lips that touched him and took him every ability to talk. Shinya moaned sweetly into Die's kiss and hold onto his cloak tightly. Die gasped and slowly pulled back but only to lean with his forehead against Shinya's. The young man looked back at Die but could hardly see him through the little candle light.

“I missed you.” Die started to whisper. “I'm sorry I couldn't make it the other day to the forest. I was too late but I found your little heart in the grass.”

Shinya, still sleepy though, recalled what Die meant and he simply kissed him onto his cheek before he rested with his slender hand on his face. “I will always wait for you.”

Die took Shinya's hand and kissed it... but there was a strange feeling swinging with it.

“Die, what happened? You seem strange today....”

The older man kept on holding Shinya's hand but didn't look him in the eyes. He cared over the soft skin with his thumb, not finding the words.

Shinya had enough. At first he peeled Die out of his cloak before he made him sit on his bed. He took Die's hand again and waited for him to start. But there was too much going on and Die didn't know where to begin with. He decided not to tell Shinya about the encounter with his former Guardian Angel as it seemed still too crazy to himself and now the whole observation from church added to that... he had to warn Shinya.

“You know,” Die looked around the hardly lit room like searching for words, “these days I'm not entirely sure whether I want to serve such kind of church any longer.”

Shinya was shocked. “What are you talking about?”

“Shinya, it's getting dangerous. The Inquisition is in town and they ordered us to observe every citizen and report every strange behavior to them. Do you understand? This is madness! They ordered us to betray our own people, sentence them to death! I can't do that! I... I want to serve a God who is merciful and just, not blood-thirsty and frightening!”

“These are grave news...” Shinya stammered to himself and he knew that they both knew what that meant for them. Even less interaction that before. No more secret messages, gazes and smiles.

“Shinya,” Die turned his whole attention to him and took both of Shinya's hands, “let's run away.”

“What?! B-but how?.... When? And where to?”

“It doesn't matter. I want you, us, out of this madness. Let's start all over somewhere far away where church can't reach us... where you father can't reach you.” Die referred to Shinya's future engagement.

It was tempting but dangerous. Without his family's support and money, Shinya was basically poor and without means. “And how do we earn money?”

“I could work in an orphanage or in agriculture, anything but I couldn't work as a priest any longer, that's for sure. Once I escaped, church could find me anytime, everywhere. Shinya, I will try everything to build up our own home far away.”

Die had made up his mind. With a steady look he searched for Shinya's eyes but the young man played helplessly with Die's fingers. “And when?”

“As soon as you're ready.”

The thought was tempting but risky. The young man pulled his naked feet up into his bed and let go of Die's hands. Insecure, Shinya reached with his arms around his knees and rested with his chin on them. He narrowed his eyes and looked back at Die who observed the young man patiently. “And your answer?”

“How much money do you have?”

Die jumped up and hugged Shinya tightly. For him it was an answer. Startled by the sudden attack, Shinya fell backwards into his bed while Die leaned over him and kissed him all over his face.

“Die! Until now I didn't say yes!”

“Yes you did.” Another kiss on his cheek. “You won't regret it.”

“You're helpless-”

“In love with you, I know.” Followed by a kiss onto Shinya's mouth. The young man gasped by the increasing heat in their kiss and Die's touches. His body showed well enough that he wanted Die as well but...

“Die...” Shinya moaned while his beloved moved down his neck. “We have to plan this. Can you leave at short notice?”

Die stopped and moved back from Shinya, although he lay beautifully flustered underneath him. “I will. Why?”

“We will need money. Travel expenses, food..... Let me gather all the money I can get and then let's escape during the night.... But where to?”

“We should cross the sea. Maybe north Europe. Anywhere the next ship could take us to.”

It sounded crazy to both of them but Shinya knew that Die was right. With Die at his side he felt safe. Die used to travel through countries before so he had some experience and besides he was a realistic person. Yes, with him Shinya would go anywhere. He would life anywhere as long as it was at Die's side.

“All right, let's do it.” Shinya agreed. “Until next Sunday I will try to gather as much money as possible. Then in church I will slip you a note and you will give me some details about the escape. What do you think?”

“Agreed.” Die nodded and stood up from Shinya's bed. The young man was a little disappointed when he saw Die walking over to the armchair where his cloak was. So he would leave... just like that.

Die turned around and although there was hardly any light he knew how Shinya's sulking face must have looked like. But instead of putting his cloak on, he took his shirt off and tossed it over the armchair as well. Slowly he made his way back and lowered himself over Shinya's delicate body again. The young man lay down onto his mattress, giving Die the space he needed and he smiled jubilantly at himself.

“Did you think I could leave you like that?”

“Maybe.... But I would have done my best to persuade you otherwise...”

And Shinya's giggles turned into a sweet moan when he felt a large, warm hand reaching underneath his pajama.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

From the outside, Shinya always seemed like a calm person but the following days he felt more and more like a wreck. The whole escape-plan was a heavy burden, not only on his shoulders and naturally he thought about nothing else. A million thoughts about what could go wrong and what to do. He tried to keep himself calm but every time somebody looked at him, Shinya thought the person knew. That he gave away their little secret with a clumsy look, a wrong word... his nerves were really wearing thin.

With shaking hands he hold onto the little message he had written for Die. He literally slept on it the day until Sunday and now, standing in front of the church, the huge gray building towering over him, Shinya had slight doubts. Was it such a good idea to run away? From the warm, comfortable house he grew up in? But he recalled Die's words, the observation from the Inquisition even coming into their private houses... everything became more dangerous, especially for extraordinary people.

His hands were cold and shaky when Die touched them for the usual greeting at the church's portal. A sorrowful look into Shinya's eyes before the moment was over. The message slipped into the older man's hand with skill.... the message said to meet him in the garden one hour after the mass was over.

Shinya listened to the mass only because he loved the voice of him so much. There was no meaning behind those words, only his voice in his head, next to the escape plan Shinya replayed over and over in front of his inner eyes.

He had packed earlier this morning. He knew where he would steal the money in his house from. Tonight, Shinya wanted to run away together with Die. Another excuse to his parents before he said good-bye.... Taking a walk in the forests, meeting them later at home.... with the knowledge that he might not see them again in case they are out until late themselves.

Maybe these were the last steps he took on his beloved walk around the forest... one hour could be so long... Shinya arrived ahead of schedule in the garden behind church. He waited impatiently on the stone bench, trying to look as nonchalant as possible, trying to enjoy his free time, just for the protocol in case anybody watched.

The jolt when he heard him calling his name.

“You are early.” Die said low.

“I'm nervous.” Was all Shinya could reply.

“I know, I felt your hand before...” Die said with sorrow in his voice. He so wanted to touch him, console him. “What is it you wanted to say?”

The look in Shinya's eyes became sincere. “I've got my things packed, I can leave right away. And I know where I can get some money from. Tonight would be good. And you?”

A moment of silence changed into a serious nod. “Me too. Let's do it tonight.”

“What time?”

“In the middle of the night. I'll get you at 3 am.”

“I'll prepare the little carriage with my horse.”

“Very well.” Die looked over his shoulder. “Tonight then.”

A nod from Shinya and Die left after he stole one more glance of him. The younger man left the garden minutes afterwards, just to not arise suspicion. The wind played with his long auburn hair and his hands started to get cold. He reached inside his coat pockets but his gloves were missing. One moment of realization that he must have left them again on the church bench. Shinya walked out of the garden and back into church. Usually people from church tidy up after the mass, so the doors were still opened.

With swift steps, the young man approached the bench he used to sit in. And he really found the white gloves on his usual seat. Shinya put them into his pocket on his way out but just before he passed the dark confession cabins, he felt how someone pulled him back into the shadow.

Shinya nearly got a heart attack and was even more shocked when he felt someone kissing him deeply and with pure need. It didn't take him long to figure out who had observed him from the shadows. Shinya smiled against his mouth and every time he wanted to pull away from this seducing lips, these hands, he simply pulled him back.

“Die,” he whispered, “we have to-”

No use. Maybe it was the danger which tasted so sweet. One last kiss before Shinya pulled forcefully away. One touch of Die's handsome face before he turned around and left.

Shinya walked out of the church. It was then that the old priest Graham stood on his window in the opposite house and he observed surprised the young man leaving... it was the look on Shinya's face, his dreamy eyes and the slightly flushed cheeks.... But when he saw Die leaving the church as well, although with a compared face, he counted one and one together and couldn’t believe what his eyes, his human instinct screamed to him. He was deeply shocked.

And it was the look on his uncle's face which Die saw when he looked up at the window.
It sent shivers down his spine and his mouth became dry.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The hours until night only passed slowly. Painfully slowly. Shinya felt like going crazy each minute which didn't want to pass.

He saw his parents at supper one last time before he said good night and went into his room. No regrets with the idea in mind to share the rest of his life with the person he loved. Although Shinya felt kind of sad by the thought of never seeing his mother again. Thinking about her now from another point of view showed him that he really was the daughter his mother always wanted to have but never received. Shinya used to be with his mother most of the time.

He would miss her.

Walking up and down his room changed into forcefully reading and waiting in between. Tonight Shinya would leave the house through his window, climbing down 'Die's tree'. Simply because it was too risky to leave the house through the front door.

And Shinya was glad when he made it down the tree without breaking his neck. He collected his bag which he had thrown into the grass before and ran over the meadow to the horse stable. Leila, his horse, breathed out loud when it heard Shinya talking to him.

Shinya jolted when he felt a hand on his shoulder and he embraced the person who came out of the shadows.

“Die! Are you all right?”

The silence between the answer lasted too long. “Die? What-?”

“Shinya, listen very carefully now.”

The young man hold tightly onto Die's arms to keep himself steady. Instincts told him that he would be shocked very soon.

“This midday when you left church I saw my uncle observing us through the window and he knows it. By the look on his face, Shinya, he knows!”

The young man was speechless. “Even more reason to leave as quick as possible!”

Die shook his head. “You don't understand. Leaving together with you would confirm his assumptions.... It's easier to find two runaways but one-”

Shinya shook his head in shock. He had an inkling what Die was referring to. “No, NO! I can't leave without you! I-!”

“I can't leave Shinya. Not to endanger you. Maybe they would never guess that you left because of me but the two of us together.... the whole Inquisition would be alarmed now that he saw us!”

“But-but if he knows, then you are in danger as well!”

Die placed one finger over Shinya's lips. “You have to leave as quick as possible. I'm a servant of God, you are in far more danger than I am.”

It was too much to take and tears spilled down Shinya's cheek. Silent cries which broke Die's heart. He cared over Shinya's cheek but pulled him into a firm embrace when the little touch was not enough.

“Listen Shinya, I've got a plan on how to hide you. You are my perfect Lady and Ladies often seek sanctuary in convents. Travel north, as far as possible and disguise yourself as a woman. Get into a convent for women and live the life of a nun. In three weeks from today on we will meet at the north harbor and take the first ship in the morning over the sea. Did you understand?”

Die moved back and he looked at Shinya who nodded at him absentminded. Die repeated his last sentence. “Three weeks from today in the early morning at the harbor. I will be there.”

Shinya nodded while Die took Shinya's baggage and knot it onto Leila's saddle.

“You must ride fast and don't look back. Get yourself another name and sell your horse on half of the track.”

It was all too much to take. Shinya broke into tears which made it only harder for Die to say good bye. He pulled the young man into a tight embrace and cared over his hair. Die continued.

“It's a four days ride up to the north. Ride fast for the two of us. I know that you can do it.”

A nod. Die grabbed Shinya around his waist and lifted him up his saddle. The petite man climbed onto his horse and took the reins.

“This is not good bye.” Die said.

“I know.” Shinya sniffed and adjusted himself on the saddle. He still couldn’t realize what was going to happen.

“I must go.” Die said and looked around insecure before he leaned against the saddle and pulled on the young man's collar to kiss him one last time. The thought of letting go too painful, too surreal to believe... they kissed like never meeting again.

“Okay, go.” Die pulled back suddenly. He had to before they both decided otherwise. Shinya took the reins and outside the stable he commanded his horse to ride as quick as possible.

Soon the young man had vanished into the night. Die watched him until he couldn't hear or see him no more. And Shinya did as Die had told him: He didn't look back. Not even at Die.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Shinya always thought that he was used to travel. He used to visit foreign towns with his parents before but after the three day long ride on his horse he felt how strange everything was. Although people used to speak the same language, Shinya felt completely out of place. And although he hated to admit it, he was homesick. Riding all day long, sleeping and eating at strange taverns proved to be quite hard. Soon Shinya realized that for this journey it would take all of his physical and mental strength.

He avoided any contact to strangers, traveled with a wrong name and soon the petite young man had vanished behind his long, wet coat and the smell of dirt and horse.

Shinya thought about Die every moment, every second. That he did that for them. But he didn't dare to picture the colorful future until they would meet up again.... He only hoped that Die was all right. That no one got suspicious or hurt anyone of his family. Although his thoughts were only scarcely about his family. He loved them, sure, but they would never understand.

Shinya jumped down his horse and landed in a puddle. It was already dark outside when he entered the tavern and ordered some employee to look after his horse.

The next morning he would sell Leila.

Still with his cloak and hood on, Shinya walked to the back of the tavern without noticing that someone at the bar observed him. Even underneath these rags there was beauty shining from Shinya and this stranger knew it better than anybody else.

It was a crude place with even more indecent people. Loud, filthy and disgusting in their behavior. Shinya payed for a single bedroom right away and left the bar for his bedroom.

The stranger who hid underneath a cloak and hood, smiled at himself. He hold the beer he had ordered in his hand but not to drink, it was mere disguise. He knew that the petite man would arrive here. He also knew where he was going to the next day... he was everywhere Shinya went to but not to mean him any harm. He observed him, looked after him.

The stranger came from a far away place. It was a royal palais how he used to tell humans but completely different how they imagined it. Soon, very soon...

The smile on his lips vanished and he left the tavern. The cold night wind played with his cloak and long, blonde locks of golden hair showed underneath his hood.

The next day Shinya had sold his horse. He exchanged it for a smaller one and took the rest of value in cash.... not to mention that it broke his heart. He knew Leila half his life and Shinya felt so heavy with grief thinking about her..... he hated saying good bye which happened way too much these days. But Die was right. It was saver to travel with a strange horse in case anybody would search for him.

Shinya rode a very long time until he reached the next bigger village with shopping possibilities. With the little cash he had received earlier Shinya bought simple but neat women clothes. How he had wished for an opportunity to wear beautiful, feminine clothes and now the chance was there but under worst circumstances. Out on the countryside next to a forest, Shinya changed into these women clothes and buried his old ones, just in case.

He wore a neat blouse and skirt, modest and not too fashionable. With a large scarf around his shoulders he hid his flat chest and with a hair pin he pinned up his hair.

Because later that day Shinya would arrive at the convent where he would try to get into.

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 13 / 5 of 5

 

The last life on earth

 

The Die and Shinya-Chapters

 

 

 

Even from afar the convent seemed gray and little. The first inner urge Shinya felt when seeing it was to run. He would have never dared dreaming of entering a convent one day but this time and under this circumstances it was necessary. To hide, to span the time until he would be able to reunite with Die again to run away.

The responsible convent's nun scolded and screamed before she had even opened the convent's gate. It took all of Shinya's acting talent to convince her that he was 'a girl in need', with no home and in search of God. As a thank you gift Shinya offered his horse and with a few more scolds she accepted the gift and finally allowed Shinya to stay.

Voluntarily, Shinya would have never sold himself to such a mean old hag like the responsible nun was. Not to mention the sad, cold halls inside the convent. His room the same gray and cold space like his heart used to feel like these days.

He had to share the little room with another young nun called Luise.

She asked way too many questions and made remarks about his quite tall appearance. Shinya sweated, he had to hide his secret well for the next three weeks until he would escape at night to meet up with Die at the haven.

“I was always the tallest child.”

The young nun nodded and handed Shinya the nun's robe. He changed into it after she had left the room.

The following days, Luise was kind enough to show him around and explain the most important things. Life in the convent was praying and working, hardly any sleep or food. It was straining. Physically and mentally. Harder than behaving like a girl. Shinya found himself quite comfortable in playing the girl. Moving like one, speaking like one, observing the others around him and adopting to them... he made it his new hobby. A necessary one.

Two weeks had passed and things started to become routine. But every day the escape came closer and thinking about it at night made his heart beat faster. And when it became unbearable, he clutched his rosary with the tiny Angel and dreamed about his Love. Heard his voice, recalled his smile, his scent while he was so many miles away... the precious shared moments only imprints on his soul and the touches mere memories.

His body started to become more bony and the once shining eyes were heavy and dark with grief and tiredness. Even the young girl Louise was shocked about Shinya's appearance. His hair had lost its shine, hanging down to his shoulders and the red hands bore visibly marks from the hard kitchen work. Shinya felt that he started to become someone else, he changed and barely recognized himself. No more smiles, no happiness.

That was the time when the mills of God started to grind.

With highest priority, a letter arrived days later at the convent. The paper was of highest quality and so was its seal. The Inquisition had sent out circular letters over the whole country, spreading their madness in tracking down every suspicious person. Turning even innocent people into traitors. These days everybody sold out anybody unpleasant in their surroundings. And they looked for traitors and unmoral people everywhere. They even included lists of missing people with the letter.

Shinya didn't know anything about the letter. He learned about it when they pulled him out of bed in the middle of the night and pushed him down to the cold, stony ground of his room.

It came as a complete shock. Luise cried about the commotion but Shinya remained silent while his heart threatened to stop in shock. Immediately he knew that he was discovered.


He had better died that night.


They turned him around and tore down his nightshirt. The evidence was clear when he lay in front of four strangers, semi-naked, his chest all bare.

“Take him away.” The oldest nun ordered the four men.

Shinya struggled, an impossible attend to get free but his consciousness left him abruptly when he felt a hard knock against the back of his head.

He awoke from the shaking of the carriage. His head hurt badly and his senses were still numb but what hurt most was the realization which slowly sickered in.... that he had failed.

He searched for failures, any mistakes on his behalf but Shinya had no idea how they came to suspect him. It didn't matter now, it was too late anyway. His body felt weak and drained of all the energy he had started his journey with. He was sleepy but couldn't find any rest. What about Die? Did he know? Did his parents know? Where did the carriage go to and even worse: What are they planning to do with him? Shinya sincerely prayed that Die was able to escape. That he knew about this madness before Shinya at the convent did and that he went up north before him... that he possibly stayed at the haven for next week.... and Shinya would never show up.

The tears on his cheek felt hot against the cold skin. He had trouble to keep his balance in the carriage.

After a few nights of travel, the streets and trees the carriage passed looked painfully familiar. So they really brought the runaway home. Shinya so wished for them not to do so. He couldn’t stand the well-known faces, the gossip.... his parents.... Die.....

With his hands bound behind his back, two men pulled him out of the carriage. The gray stone building in front of them was what Shinya had always feared most. The local court. They pulled and pushed him down the stairs.... right into the cellar to the prison cells. Shinya felt how blood rushed out of his head, cold sweat formed on his forehead... but he didn't allow himself to faint or to give in. He had made a vow to himself when he looked up the tall building: To never give up and keep his pride. Come what may.

The first shock came when Shinya saw almost all of the cells filled up. Men, women, even children... the hunt madness of church seemed beyond control. They walked to the end of the corridor, passing all those sad, mad and hungry faces. Crying, sobbing and despair filled the air. It felt like hell on earth, not to mention the smell. Most of the cells were filled up with several people.

The clattering of the keys hurt his sensitive ears like every noise in this cursed building.

One of the watchmen was busy fumbling with his keys and that was the moment when Shinya turned around in reflex. Within the splint of a second he made out something familiar. Without thinking about any consequences he pulled himself free from the other watchman and he ran to the cell two doors away from him.

“Die! DIE!”

Startled by the sudden voice, Die awoke from his daze and he moved forward to the prison bars, holding onto them with his hands. Shinya leaned with his face against Die's hands as his were still bound together on his back.... and Die looked as exhausted as Shinya did. Dark circled eyes, lost weight and sick. So he didn't run away either, why?

“I'm sorry Die, so sorry!”

Die kissed Shinya's forehead again and again, touched him through the bars. “It's not your fault.” He whispered with his sore throat. Not caring that anybody could see, not wondering about possible remarks. But their reunion was abruptly ended when one of the watchmen pulled Shinya back, tossing him into the cellar two doors away from Die. An older woman moved back when Shinya landed hard on the floor.

“SHUT UP and behave!”

The door was soundly closed and the two men left the miserable place. After they were gone, Shinya walked back to the iron bars and he looked across the corridor into Die's cell. Their eyes met and it pained both of their hearts to see the other in the same, humiliating situation.

Shinya glided down to the ground and leaned against the bars. His eyes never left the cell where his love was imprisoned in. How much he wanted to touch him, to feel him all these weeks over and now even in the same room it was impossible for them to be reunited. It was cruel and hurt even more than the physical damages.

Die on the other side tried to smile. His face looked as hollow as Shinya's. The past days of struggle showed effects but it was his smile which said 'I don't regret anything.'

A single tear rolled down Shinya's cheek and he wiped it off with his arm. It broke Die's heart and he whispered Shinya's name, followed by words only lovers would share.

It was the hardest thing they could ever experience.

One night passed and the night on cold stone floors showed effects. People's cries for food, water and medication became unbearable, the stench inside the cells became unbearable too, the voices in despair music straight from hell.... death slowly seemed liked a welcomed change. Shinya's lungs hurt and his voice was deep and thick. Die on the other side of the corridor coughed almost the whole night and it ached Shinya's heart seeing him like this.
It was then that more and more people vanished. Men from the court fetched them during the day and they never came back. People inside the cells, close to become insane whispered what everybody feared. “They torture them and then they burn them alive.”

Some people hushed them as it was too cruel for the youngest among them to hear but everybody knew that it was right.

There was no more pain or fear, only shock which had covered Shinya fully with a dull curtain. He rocked back and forth, waiting for something he didn't dare to name.

When the door opened everybody jolted. Everybody afraid to be next but only one who welcomed it.
Shinya looked up from his fetal position on the floor, straight into the face of the police man. And the moment he looked back at him he knew that they had come for them. Die's cell was opened at the same time. They both got pulled out of their cells but Shinya had trouble to stay on his feet.

“Die...” He murmured with the little voice he had left while they were pulled on their ropes behind the police men.... With bound hands Die and Shinya walked side by side down the corridor, out of the cellar. Die whispered to Shinya.

“If they threaten you, confess everything they want to hear from you. You must do anything not to get tortured-” Die's voice left him at the end of the sentence. It was the cruelest thing he ever had to say.

“As long as you are there I will be strong.”

“Me too.”

“I love you Die. Come what may.”

Die nodded and repeated the last sentence. As soon as they had left the cellar, voices from inside and outside the court echoed through the corridors. People must have come from all over the country to witness this madness. And it was even worse than anybody of them had ever expected. Well know faces among strangers, calling them names, waving with their fists and making unmistakably hand signs for them to die. The mob was well heated up and they wanted to see them burn, especially them because what Shinya didn't knew was that the whole village came to know about their 'relationship' which was highly forbidden in this age. Their case was a rare one and the court was filled with Inquisition, police, witnesses and the mob.

In front of the huge court room, the police man pulled Shinya inside but the other one stayed outside with Die.

“Die!” Shinya looked back at him but they already closed the door. So they would be questioned separately. Shinya's heart beat like mad. He looked around the filled up room, people where still shouting, whispering, laughing but one voice screamed hysterical from the front rows. Shinya turned around and saw his parents standing with the mob. His lips formed the word mum and she hold her hands in front of her mouth while his father steadied her. She looked aged over night and his father tried to be strong for both of them.

In an instant Shinya felt sorry. Sorry for disappointing his parents so much, for being a failure and not the son they had deserved.... it broke Shinya's heart seeing them like that. They shouldn't witness what was about to come.

The policeman pushed Shinya down on a wooden bench in the middle of the room. Hundreds of eyes lay on him, it made him feel most uncomfortable. In front of him three higher seats behind high stands. The Inquisition hadn't arrive yet and through all the murmurs and voices Shinya heard his mother repeating his name over and over again. Shinya turned around slightly and his lips formed the words 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you'. His mother broke and his father had all trouble to hold her up.

It was then that the mob was silenced and the three prosecutors came in.

The room all of a sudden became darker and unbearable to stay in. Shinya balled his hands into fists, so hard that it hurt. He was so afraid and nervous like he had never felt before. At the same time he tried to calm himself down as he made a vow not to loose his pride.

Shinya was forced to stand up and he sat down when the three Inquisitors were seated. They looked at Shinya and back at each other, whispering and taking notes before the highest of them spoke up.

“TERACHI SHINYA! Stand up in the name of God!”

All eyes lay on him.... the moments in silence seemed to last forever.

“You stand before this court, accused of sodomy and witchcraft... how do you plead?!”

Witchcraft?! That was a first. Shinya widened his eyes in shock when he replied: “Not guilty!”

“So you deny that the devil made you seduce one of the holy church's servants?”

“There is no devil-”

“But there are witnesses...” The Inquisitor looked over to Priest Graham who nodded. “So did you seduce in the name of evil-!”

Shinya interrupted the mad talking about evil and the devil. “I always believed in God and in the power of Love! Love is never evil when it’s real!”

“Did you have intimate contact with a servant of church or not?!”

The crowd became silent and the burden weighed heavy on Shinya's shoulders. He couldn't possibly deny Die, cold he? But what do they know? No matter what he would say they simply DON'T want to believe it.

“Thank you very much.” The Inquisitor broke the quietness. “Silence is agreement. Take him away.”

Two policemen stepped closer to Shinya and held him on his arms. The young man started to struggle and screamed. “NO, NOOO! I'M INNOCENT!!”

The Inquisitor narrowed his eyes. “Then let me refresh your memories just for the accord: You don't only wear your hair long and dress like a woman, servants from church even found you in a convent for women! Only the devil knows what you’ve been doing in there!!! Not to mention the other sins you have committed in this village.... anything else to add? I thought so. TAKE HIM AWAY!!”

These were his last words and the policemen pulled Shinya out of the court. His mother from the crowd screamed his name, mixed with agitated voices from the mob, calling him all kind of names but Shinya stayed deaf for it.

It was the split of a second when men pulled Die into court and their eyes met in the corridor. Shinya's gaze was horrified while Die's eyes carried a certain haze. The life disappeared from his eyes a long time ago but the smile he forced onto his lips showed that he was somehow still alive.

The door closed and they made Shinya wait in the corridor on a wooden bench. Not far from a little window, absentminded he started to notice the most insignificant things... The beetle crawling up the window frame, the crows cawing outside and flying through the air, the wet grass and fog of the forest outside...

Then loud shouting from the court inside, made his heart jump. What Shinya didn't know was that they forced Die to confess everything because Shinya earlier didn't. He whimpered when the shouts became louder and nearly died of sorrow. He closed his eyes, rocked back and fort on his little bench and folded his hands, murmuring a prayer for both of them. The policemen a few meters away from him didn't pay any attention.

They jolted when the doors were pushed open with a loud noise, in silent agreement they pulled Shinya back into court, right to the front where Die lay sprawled on the floor. In horror, Shinya saw that they must have beaten him. His eyes started to water up and his hands were shaking.

They gave him a hard shove and Shinya landed right next to Die. Not caring about any possible remarks, Shinya grabbed for Die's hand and whispered his name. The mob and Inquisition reacted furious and with loud screams but Shinya didn't care. Die opened his eyes slowly and he nodded at him.

“C-confess....” He stammered but Shinya didn't really know what to do. Policemen started to pick him up from the ground again, making him loose Die's grip and they pushed him closer to the Inquisition. They made him kneel in front of them and the highest of them started to talk.

“You either confess all of your sins now, in this court, or we have to force both of you downstairs to the cellar.”

Which meant torture. Some men picked up Die from the ground and carried him back to the entrance door.... that was when Shinya shouted. “Stop! I confess! Anything! Anything you want me to hear!” His lips trembled and it was the hardest to swallow the tears and all this anger.

“Do you confess that you had sodomic intercourse with a servant of church?”

Shinya bit his lips really hard and he closed his eyes when he spoke out: “I confess.”

The shouts of the crowd were silenced by the Inquisitor. “And do you confess that you made a pact with the devil and practiced witchcraft to seduce an innocent servant of God?”

Their stupid believes were outrageous and morbid but Shinya had no choice. He did it for Die. “I confess.”

The shouts became even louder and the Inquisitor slammed his wooden hammer onto his desk to silence them. He turned his attention to the three other Inquisitors and after a few moments of murmuring he spoke up loud again.

“The former priest: Death through the sword.”

Shinya slumped down to the ground, holding himself up with his fists.

“And for the witch: Death through fire.”

The voices on his ear sounded alien. The shouting of the crowd started to fade out. The following sequences of the rest of their lifes played like a nightmare in front of Shinya's eyes. He hardly felt the hands which picked him up from the ground and dragged him out of court.

When Shinya lifted his head he saw that they pulled Die out of court in front of him. One last glance to the right side allowed him a last sight of his parents. His father hold up his mother who must have suffered a mental breakdown. Shinya slowly shook his head and with his eyes he told his father not to witness his death outside. His mother couldn't stand it.

They were dragged outside court and the light hurt their eyes. It was a gray day and the grass still wet from the rain the night before. The cawing of the crows telling them that they were already waiting for them.

The men in front of Shinya carried Die behind the large court to another meadow. That was when Shinya's panic set in. “Die, DIE!”

The weak former priest lifted his head and he turned around when he realized that they were going to separate them. “Shinya...” There were so many unspoken words in his eyes... hurt, pain, love... All he could do was to murmur the words he really meant from the bottom of his heart: “I love you Shinya. I will find you.”

And they carried Die out of sight. Shinya's screams mixed up with the shouting of the people outside in front of the court. Hundreds had arrived here to witness the spectacle and madness of church. Families with children, old people, again the well known faces and the insults, surrounding them, driving the guilty even more insane.

The pyres stood on the meadows in front of court on open field. In the distance, Shinya saw the wood set up for him and on top of it a large wooden cross where they would tie him onto. He became chalk white and realization set in that he would die on this very day, all alone, in front of strangers, listening to all this insults.

A sudden loud cawing from the crows at court and in that moment Shinya knew that Die was gone.

His feet gave in an the two men continued to pull Shinya over the meadow, the pyre coming closer and closer. Shinya breathed out loud, sobbed as if he threatened to suffocate from the pain. The pain in his chest became unbearable and even breathing seemed like a waste now.

They pulled Shinya up onto the pyre and all the young man realized when they bound him onto the wooden cross was that the wood on his feed was dry although the world around him was wet and cold. He blended out all the people observing him and his breathing became hasty when the panic set in.

The men left the pyre when they were done with tying Shinya onto the cross. Tears started to flow down his cold cheeks and the cold wind which blew through his hair mixed up with the smell of smoke. Shinya called out for Die, again and again. He repeated his name like a prayer.

The smell of fire became unbearable and he started to inhale the smoke deeply. More and more with the tiny hope to faint before the unspeakable pain would set in. That was when his dress caught fire and his hair started to burn. It was a nightmare and the shock went through his whole body and bones. Shinya screamed and coughed from the smoke, his fighting and fidgeting slowly died down, his senses slowly drifted away....

 

The last time he opened his eyes he saw a familiar figure standing behind the crowd of people on the meadow, observing the whole scenery like not belonging to it. It seemed so strange that this was the last picture Shinya could recall. Because somehow he got a feeling that he knew that person....

 

The feeling of inner peace crept into Shinya's heart and the pain faded out. The world around him became white and dusty, it simply disappeared. Shinya closed his eyes and thought that he recognized golden curled hair. He felt how something cold rushed over his lips, as if ice would kiss him... into death.


A voice echoed in Shinya's head. 'You're coming with me. I'm here to fetch you.'

 

A name formed in Shinya's mind... Kamijo... and his consciousness left him completely.

 

 

 

Time and space passed by

 

He felt like leaving for a distant place

 

Far away from what he knew

 

But he was not alone

 

and not the same anymore

 

He woke up in heaven.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



That was a long time ago. More than three centuries had passed. Nowadays, after all these years together in heaven, a sleepless Cherub tossed in his bed. Nightmares hunted him, memories of their last lifetime on earth. Since then they have never been separated again, not a day.

But Shinya had disappeared in heaven. A few days ago they argued about the rumors in heaven and he simply disappeared. Die felt sick of worry and it pained him... Shinya was his soul mate, they were created for each other. And now he was simply gone and a piece of Die was amiss. He simply didn't function without him.

Die opened his eyes in shock from the long dream and shot up in his bed, mentally he shouted out loud his name: 'SHINYAAAAAAA!' And he grabbed into his hair in despair.

 

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 14

 

The meeting of the higher ranks

 

 

 

 

 

Hakuei flew with Toshiya through heaven, holding the young Angel close to him because the young Angel didn't posses any wings yet. Together they flew through all kind of heavenly spheres, passing by all different kind of landscapes and living beings. Heaven, or at least to Toshiya, slowly seemed endless and full of dreams and possibilities.

They flew over a large, deep blue lake which was surrounded by all kinds of flowers and trees. Angels and other mysterious creatures played in the grass surrounding the lake... the whole scenery was like from a movie.

Hakuei was happy, seeing Toshiya all astonished. “Hold on close!” He shouted out loud and with rapid speed Hakuei flew down to the surface of the lake. Toshiya closed his eyes and screamed. When he opened them again he saw Hakuei flying only inches away from the surface along the water. It was amazing. The water was so clear and blue.

“Be careful! Don't touch the water!” Hakuei shouted.

“Why?”

“There are living beings!”

Toshiya looked at his reflection in the water, feeling the sprays touching his face. He saw his reflection in the water darkening and suddenly the image of his face changed into a strangers face. Toshiya started to panic and Hakuei felt it immediately.

“Toshiya? What's the-”

“AAAHH---!”

Wet hands reached for Toshiya's head and ice blue eyes stared at him. A beautiful but strange face but before he was able to make out any more features, Toshiya's gaze became blurry and it felt as if water penetrated his head.... it was a strange feeling and as quickly gone as it had appeared. The water creature swam ahead of the flying couple, jumping happily out of the water and diving in again, hitting the water playfully with its fins.... it was a creature half fish, half human.

“A water creature!” Hakuei screamed out loud. “Toshiya!” He looked down to his protege in sorrow and pulled up into the air. “Are you all right?! Are you hurt?!”

Toshiya, who was still in shock shook his head. “No, I don’t think so.” He looked back to the lake's surface and saw the water creature looking back at them. It seemed strange but Toshiya got the feeling that it wanted to communicate with them... or with him in that matter.

“He’s strange…” Toshiya murmured.

“Who told you that he’s a he?”

“I just got the impression.”


They were close to reach land again while the creature in the lake still swam meters underneath them. It stretched out its arm and waved at Toshiya before they passed the lake. With a strange smile, Toshiya waved back nevertheless. He could see the fins underneath the creature's arms, its strange, shining light brown hair growing down its shoulders to its back... somehow he looked funny.


They passed the large lake and landed in the grass where round houses were build on. Hakuei walked straight to one of the houses and murmured to himself. “I haven’t been here since ages…” He looked back at Toshiya who observed interested.

“It’s the protégé-school.” Hakuei said.

“Schools? Up in heaven?”

“Jup, sorry I can't spare you that.” He joked. “But school here is quite interesting, I liked going to school here. Soon you will attend school as well and I will fly you here every day until you get wings.”

“When do young Angels get wings?”

“Usually down on earth on your first mission. Every Angel gets its wings by strong feelings, produced through exciting or traumatic situations.”

“Aha.” Toshiya said and thought to himself that he could have guesses.

“You will be fine. Look, in two days from now school will start and you will learn a lot about heaven and its system. Maybe you even make new friends.”

Toshiya made a face. Although he tried to open up to his surroundings and especially Hakuei, everything new was still hard for him.

“In case you want to talk about anything you can come to me anytime. And Shinya of course-” Hakuei stopped abruptly. He recalled that Shinya was missing since the day before.

“Hakuei? What's wrong with Shinya?” Toshiya was good at reading signs already.

“To be honest, we don't know.” It made Toshiya sad. Anything that possibly hurt Shinya hurt him too. Their destinies were unmistakeably combined with each other. “Shinya left for work yesterday and didn't return. But that doesn't mean anything.”

“Maybe I can find him!”

“How?” Hakuei wondered.

“I could try to contact him. Maybe I can because I'm his- “ Toshiya paused because he recalled that he didn't talk to Hakuei about Shinya's and his past.

“You're his son. I know Totchi. I wasn't allowed to tell you, I'm sorry. It was Shinya's business to do so.”

“And now he's gone.” Toshiya started to feel the well-know emptiness again. He grew so attached to Shinya that it hurt. Hakuei saw the expression on his protege's face and he pat his head. “Don't make such a face. Nothing get's lost in heaven. Whatever happened there must be a good reason for it.”

A deep sigh as an answer. Hakuei continued. “But I wanted to show you something else. A very holy place.”

Hakuei stepped closer behind Toshiya and lay his arm around the young Angel's stomach. For a moment, the closed his eyes and Hakuei unfolded his wings. Together they flew high up into the air again.

They flew deeper into the land which seemed endless to Toshiya. They crossed fields and hills until the grass and trees became less and right in front of them an enormous mountain range showed up. Hakuei flew through these mountains and Toshiya started to feel uneasy… he never liked snow. But the strangest of it all was that he felt no coldness. There were amounts of snow and ice but not the wind nor the snow could do them any harm, it was all neutral around them.

“Hakuei, where are we going?”

“We call it 'the hall of memories'. It’s one of the most holy places in heaven. You can find books and literature about every person and every important action which took place in the universe. The books are also called the “Akasha-Chronicles”. It is the down written memory of God himself. You can guess that these halls are guarded very well.”

Toshiya was astonished. “And we are allowed to simply go in there?”

“Of course. Everybody from heaven is allowed to. We all have lessons to learn, either by reading or making our own experiences on earth. We are allowed to read all books in there.”

“So, is there my book as well?”

“Sure. But I wouldn’t suggest to read your own book right away. Maybe after you came back from earth again…”

Maybe Hakuei was right and Toshiya decided not to push things out of curiosity.

“I will just show you the halls and then we will leave again.”

They landed on a very high cliff, in the middle of an enormous mountain. Hakuei let go off Toshiya and gestured to follow him. They walked deep into the mountain, their way lightened by some kind of fire until they came to stop in front of huge stone-doors. On each side stood two large Angel statues.

“Magnificent, aren't they?” Hakuei said when he saw Toshiya's astonished face. “Ready to wake up when some intruders would try to get into the library.” They continued their way and entered the automatically opening doors.

The sight they got was breathtaking. A never ending collection of books, shelves after shelves in endless rows. It was quite possible that Angels got lost in there. Hakuei nodded at the librarian and passed rows over rows.

Toshiya looked from left to right, trying to make out some system but it was simply too huge.

“The Akasha-Chronicles are sorted by Name, date and level of experience.” Hakuei suddenly stopped, he grasped for Toshiya's wrist and pulled the young Angel inside one row.

“So,” Toshiya wondered, “which category is this shelf about?”

“This shelf is about middle rank in development.”

“What kind of people do we find here?”

“All kind of people with higher educated souls. No criminals or murderers, that's for sure. Their place is in hell.”

“So there is a hell....”

“Of course there is. Just imagine all people mixed together... that would be chaos!” Toshiya tried to picture it but it was a little bit too much for him to imagine. The blond Guardian Angel stepped closer to Toshiya and he whispered. “Development isn't something you can measure with doctor titles or money... but with this.” He lay his hand over Toshiya's chest and the young Angel understood immediately what Hakuei tried to tell him.... it became warm where he touched him. With his insecure look, Toshiya hesitantly asked. “And my book?”

Hakuei pulled his hand back. “It's not here I'm afraid.... but I know that it is one level below this rank which is quite high for a protege.” He beamed at Toshiya proudly while the younger man slumped down his shoulders.

“I'm not so sure...” Toshiya added but Hakuei went on walking through the long book shelf and added. “I'm proud of you that's for sure.” Hakuei continued looking around. Probably he felt Toshiya feeling well after his last comment because of their invisible bound.

“I was looking for a book about love and friendship...” Hakuei searched the book shelves with high interest. He had skipped the book shelves with family names on it as it was quite rude to read books about close friends or family members. Although it was allowed to read everything, a modest Angel would ask the respective owner first.

In the middle of their search, a loud noise halled through the library and the sound of heavy doors slamming into the walls could be heard. The two Angels looked at each other startled and Hakuei stormed to the end of the book shelf to peek around the corner. Toshiya followed but stayed behind Hakuei.

“What's going on?” Toshiya whispered but Hakuei gestured with his hand to remain calm. Three Angels had entered the library. An Angel of smaller size in the middle and two large, black clothed Angels at each side. The tall Angels had spears in their hands, obviously Angels of Revenge. The smaller Angel in the middle said something to the librarian Angel who rushed to the front from behind his desk to fly over the shelves, looking for something. There was a certain powerful aura extending the smaller Angel.

The smaller Angel followed the librarian on foot because he had an impatient nature. The two Angels of Revenge followed him down the long corridor, passing shelf after shelf.

Hakuei narrowed his eyes and finally he got which important Angel it was. He whispered back at Toshiya. “That's Kindel-Angel Ruki!” With his spiky hair, all these rings in his ears and the two different colored eyes he was clearly to be recognized. “We better wait outside.”

Hakuei grasped for Toshiya's wrist but they waited patiently until the three visitors had passed their row. Ruki looked with an incredibly cold glare at the two Angels and passed them without a comment. Hakuei bended down slightly and so did Toshiya. Only one of the tall Angels of Revenge turned his gaze slightly at them but continued his way. Hakuei wondered what this gaze was all about. He had no idea that it was Karyu actually. He didn't even knew Karyu in person and neither did Toshiya.

Outside the library, Toshiya had to satisfy his curiosity. “What was this all about?”

“That was Ruki-sama. He's the only Kindel-Angel in heaven and equal to the highest Angel in heaven, Metatron. He's the judge of souls entering and leaving heaven. He knows all Akasha-Chronicles and he's the only one able to write into them and to read secret messages. He's the only one able to look into the future while reading the Akasha-Chronicles. And before an Angel gets reborn to earth, he has to visit Ruki-sama. After death, you return to Ruki-sama to get judged. Everyone goes there. Always.”

Now Toshiya understood why Hakuei panicked about seeing Ruki in the library. He sounded very mighty and knowing about his profession, one little riddle about the heaven system was solved again.

Hakuei went further on. “Ruki-sama is the only one where Guardian Angels and higher ranked Angels can ask for permission to look and maybe change or help in a course of life of their protégés WHEN they are reincarnated on earth. Otherwise this would never be allowed!”

Hakuei thought about something else but remained silent. He gestured Toshiya to leave this place and together they walked out of the deep mountain, ready to fly home. But the uneasy feeling lasted the whole day. These days the Cherubs were absolutely secret about something, then Shinya disappeared and now Ruki showing up in the library highly guarded.... something was definitely going on but they had no idea yet what this was all about.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The long dream Die had about Shinya's and his last lifetime on earth, shocked him. They lived here in heaven over centuries already and yet he recalled everything so clearly. Their love, their pain.... For a moment he had felt all human again and felt the emptiness when Shinya was not there. They argued the last time they saw each other and the mere thought of it drove him insane.

Shinya had never been gone for so long without telling Die. They weren't separated for so long since they had found each other in their last life.

And he would find him. Die was on his way to the higher-sphered holy halls where only higher ranked Angels were allowed to enter. And he wanted to see the highest Angel of them all, Metatron, also known as Kamijo.

Talking to Kamijo was almost as impossible as talking to God in person. He was always busy because he WAS the mightiest Angel of them all.

Kamijo was in direct command under God. One of his tasks was to sentence life and death thus Kamijo worked close together with the 'Angels of Death', Angels who fetch dead souls from earth. And 'Angels of Life', like Shinya, who bring new souls into life.

And the Cherubim, like Die and Hizumi, worked close together with Kamijo. The class Die was in was responsible to guard the portals to heaven, the class Karyu was in, Angel of Revenge, were responsible to defend heaven, either with magical or brutal power.

And Kamijo was Die's last help. It came to him right after he awoke this morning. Kamijo used to be Shinya's Guardian Angel, next to his profession as Metatron, when Shinya was last reincarnated on earth with Die because his soul as future 'Angel of life' was too precious for Kamijo. He absolutely insisted to bring Shinya's soul back to heaven personally when he died on earth.

The holy halls of higher-sphered Angels were quite funnily located in heaven.

When Shinya went to work to the ‘Tree of Life’ he usually flew high up into heaven because the higher you got the holier the spheres became. As the Cherubs stand in direct contact with the borders, Die must go as deep as possible in this world. The borders and holy halls were located right underneath the big blue lake of heaven. To get into the halls, Angels had to dive into the lake. And the creatures of the water didn't let anybody pass into these halls.

Water is everywhere and the lake as portal to the holy halls, carries a lot of secrets within. So when it comes to gossip, the Cherubim often stay in contact with the creatures of the lake.


Right now, Die stood next to the big lake and his gaze wandered over the surface, waiting for the responsible water creature to show up. And then, in the middle of the lake a well known head popped up. The creature dived back into the water and swam to the border where Die stood.

“Cherubim Die, what an honor to see you again.” The water creature said. His voice wasn't husky nor deep, it was soft almost like a child’s. To stand kind of straight in the water to talk to Die, he moved his fins under water.

“My honor. I'm sorry for the long absence.” Die replied. “Tell me Daisuke,” the creature's name was also Daisuke, his shoulder length black hair and handsome face were one of a kind, “How is the water today?”

“It tastes bitter. The water feels uneasy like before a storm.”

Die nodded because he could tell. “I thought so but it can't be helped. The Cherubs are uneasy these days too.”

“I know.”

“Daisuke, will you tell me when Shinya passes the lake?”

“Sure.”

“And about the other gossip?”

“I will keep you updated but until now I know nothing new.”

“All right. So, talk to you soon again.” Die blinked at him. He unfolded his wings and with a jump into the lake he dived down into the holy halls of heaven. The central meeting point of higher-sphered Angels.

He entered the halls through a portal and stood on dry, marble ground. Although he swam through water, he wasn't wet. Holy, higher-sphered Angels didn't get wet from the water but lower ranked Angels did.

The holy halls were magnificent to look at. High, colorful painted ceilings, inspired by art from earth in dramatic design.

Die's heavy footsteps echoed down the holy, luxurious marble of the hall. To each side were large doors of different Angel classes and meeting rooms. He walked to the very back of the hall where the largest and most important door was: Metatron, Kamijo's hall.

Next to his door stood two Cherubim, guarding the hall.

“Hello Die.” One of them said. “Do you have an appointment with Metatron-sama?” They hold long spears in their hands and wore high helmets on their heads. They were slightly higher within their rank than Die or Hizumi.

“No but I think Kamijo will receive me anyway.”

“I'm sorry but Metatron-sama is very busy I can't-”

The Guards words were cut off when Die started to yell out loud in front of the doors. “KAAAAMIJOOOOOO! I DESPERATELY NEED YOUR HELP!!!!”

The guards winced from the loudness. They got Die on his arms to carry him out but the doors already opened. There he stood with his golden curled hair and killer blue eyes at the entrance of his hall: Kamijo, glaring furiously back at Die. With a nod of his head he gestured his guards to drop the disturber and he motioned Die to come in. As soon as the doors were closed he started to scold.

“DAISUKE! What on earth do you think you're doing?!”

“Honestly, I have no idea!” Die answered with a slight hint of madness. “My soul mate disappeared two days ago without another word... it's driving me crazy! Kamijo, you were his Guardian Angel once.... where is Shinya? He's gone and I have no idea what happened I-”

He paused when he realized that he grabbed his hair in despair. Die started to break within and Kamijo could tell.

“Die, there is a lot going on in heaven at the moment and I'm sorry but I can't help you in that matter.” Kamijo lied to Die but was perfect in hiding it. Fact was that he was quite aware of some facts but he remained silent. He had to. “These are unsteady times and you know that better than any other Angel. I'm telling you to keep your private life out of this and concentrate on your work. In due time everything will clear up, I'm sure of it.... and now: Follow me.”

Kamijo gestured Die out of his hall.

“Where are we going?” Die asked.

“Have you been dead the past two days?!” Kamijo asked in disbelieve.

“Guess you can say that…” And Die followed Kamijo out to the hall into the next meeting room.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“Welcome, all higher-sphered Angels to this important council meeting-“

Kami stopped his speech when the door to the meeting room opened. All Angels stared at the two late arriving Angels. Kamijo nodded at Kami to continue and Die closed the door behind them.

Kamijo sat down at the end of the table, Die joined Hizumi at the side of the long table. On the long table different kind of Angels were seated: The Archangels Kami, Kyo, hide, Mana, Cherubim Angels and even the three mighty Seraphim were seated.

Hizumi literally burned holes into Dies head when he saw the other Cherub after two days of absence from work. “Christ, Die, where have you been? I swear if you ever-” Hizumi hissed at Die but Kamis voice filled the air again.

“The council meeting starts now. We will discuss upcoming arrangements and-“

The door pushed open a second time and Kami sunk his head down in frustration. Without looking up he said: “Finally we are complete, ‘Kindel' Ruki…”

Kami offered him the last empty seat next to him. Ruki took it and nodded and the two Angels of Revenge closed the door from the outside. They would guard the room during the meeting because the attendances were too important.

Kami let a moment of silence pass by before he started with topic number one in heaven.

“We all know why we are here. Everything started with young Angels who returned from earth a while ago. They talked about serious visions, meetings with creatures from hell and so on. At first it seemed like an indirect attack to us, jokes from hell or something like that but after we got told the same visions from different ranks of Angels, we charged Ruki to investigate in that matter.”

Murmurs filled the air and Ruki stood up. “And I have found something among the Akasha-Chronicles.”

He looked into shocked faces, surprised ones too but Kamijo looked sternly back at him.

“It started with the young Angels, or how the Guardians call them protégé, who came back from earth. Some of them reported about visions of a new apocalypse... the interpretations varied but they all had one thing in common: That one being would start this apocalypse. A mighty being with unmeasurable powers.”

All Angels were glued to Ruki's lips, waiting for his revelation with anticipation.

“A certain chapter of the chronicles writes about the rebirth of a mighty being, called 'The Cross'. We certainly have never heard of that before so I studied the chapters. Down written pictures, ideas and emotions made it difficult for me to understand at first but soon I understood what power The Cross possessed: It is a teleporter, half Angel, half Demon but with the power of both able to travel all spheres of heaven and hell. You can only imagine how powerful it can be. It is able to travel without boundaries and able to neutralize powers.”

The Angels were speechless and even Kamijo remained motionless on his seat. Fact was that no Demon was able to enter heaven without permission and it was the other way round for Angels with hell. A creature with such powers could bring chaos and destruction to both worlds, even destroy all the life with it.

The Cherubs shook their heads in disbelieve while the Archangels started to discuss with each other. The leader of the 'Angels of Revenge', also a Cherubim, Kazu his name, kept his pokerface and thought about first strategical moves.

Kami pulled out of Kyo's and hide's disputation and asked Ruki: “Does hell know about the prophecy?”

“I'm not sure but since there are some clever minded Demon's too... I guess so.”

“What can we do?” Die spoke up.

“The Cherubs at the borders must pay special attention to anything which enters heaven. In form of Angels or rumors. But we have to pay special attention in whole heaven.” Ruki looked over to Metatron. “We don't know where the Cross will be reborn or awakened. It could be earth, heaven, hell.... No matter where it will awaken, it concerns all living being in all worlds. May God be merciful with us.”

And Ruki sat down into his chair again.

Kazu, Angel of Revenge, stood up and talked to the attendances.

“My army of Angels will be ready to serve in each world for heavens security. If there is no way to avoid a war, we will fight together with all the Cherubim and defend the universe.”

Kamijo, the leader of all Angels in God's name, stood up. “Our thanks to the Angels of Revenge.” He paused. “But at first we might think about how to avoid a war. Violence must be the last resort in case of escalation.”

The Seraphim nodded sternly.

It was the teacher Angel Shizumi, also a Cherubim, who asked. “What about the younger ones? The protégés? School starts very soon and it will be hard to keep rumors from them.”

Kamijo answered. “It’s their Guardian Angels tasks to take care of them privately but in school I bid you to avoid the topic as long as possible. I'm afraid heaven's residents will know about it soon enough.”

“And what about earth?” A soft voice, almost as soft as a whisper, asked. It was Kai, Seraphim and six-winged Angel who was concerned about earth. It was in his nature to be concerned about almost everything because he was the 'Angel of Love and Light'. Blessed with the highest healing powers in heaven.

Kamijo thought about it and suggested. “Sooner or later we have to send a group of Angels down to earth for observation. Maybe even in disguise, we will see. Kazuki....”

Kamijo addressed one other Seraphim who merely moved his eyes and looked with a piercing gaze back at Kamijo. “... you as 'Angel of Time' usually feel changes in the time-sphere, I ask you to keep an special eye on things and Aiji, you as 'Angel of Mood' as well.”

The Seraphim nodded.

“What are you planning to do if the Cross gets reborn in heaven?” Kazuki asked back. Kamijo looked at Ruki because they haven't thought about that until now. “We haven't thought about it yet. Things also change if hell gets informed about the prophecy, they surely want a piece of pie too.”

“At first,” Ruki added, “we have to be more observant and I for myself will go on reading through the chronicles. If there is something new, contact either me or Kamijo.”

“But why not asking God himself?” Shizumi wondered. If it’s our Lord who inspired the chronicles, why couldn't tell he us all about it? We need every help we can get!”

“You could ask the water or a tree what it sees every day… His power is universal and beyond communication. He is inspiration, life itself. And you should know that. We are the active living beings. Our Lord is above all that, he is the source.” What a poet Ruki was, must be all the books, Die thought but kept it to himself.

“But…” Leader Revenge-Angel Kazu asked, “... in case we find the Cross… shall we leave it alive or destroy it?”

Kamijo thought about it and came to one conclusion. “You are the Angels of war. If it's peaceful, try to leave it alive but if it threatens the worlds peace, we will leave you in charge of it.”

His statement couldn't have been more clear. Kazu nodded understandingly. It was then that Kami recalled something and he addressed Kazu. “What about that Karyu of yours?”

Kazu knew immediately what Kami was appealing to. Of course Kazu knew about the encounter the other day at the meeting hall when Karyu embarrassed Toshiya at the meeting.

“He’s one of the strongest Angels of Revenge.” Kazu answered.

“And I thought he was only the strongest one with words... You know about the other day.”

“I’ve heard of it. And we've had a serious discussion about it. To make him atone for his behavior he will escort one group of protégés down to earth next time.”

“How did you make him do that?” Kyo mouthed at Kazu who added dryly. “We threatened him with being kindergarten teacher for a month among the youngest Angels.”

“Yeah! You rock!” Hide jumped on his seat and clapped his hands together but stopped immediately when two pairs of mad eyes glared at him. Kami to silence him and Kazu because he obviously didn't like the thought of their strongest Angel of Revenge between little clumsy kindergarten Angels.

Die had trouble to hide his amusement too, the film playing in his mind was just too good. He would have LOVED to know Karyu in between all this little Angels. But on the other hand, the poor little souls....

With a look at Kamijo and Ruki, Kami stood up and he ended the meeting for the day, reminding them of a certainly second meeting to come.

All the Angels left, except of Die who waited in front of the door for Kamijo to come out. Hizumi stopped in his tracks. “You're coming with me to work today, my friend!”

“I will follow you later, promised. I just need one last word with Kamijo. It's important. It's about Shinya...”

“You still haven't found him yet?”

A slow headshake and Hizumi understood.

“Good luck then... and see you around later.”

“See you later.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It took all of Kamijo's abilities of talking to calm the confused Cherubim Die down. There was no way that Metatron could have helped him, not even if he wanted to. And the reason for that he was about to tell to the mightiest Angels in heaven: The Seraphim.

Kazuki, Aiji and Kai were seated with Kamijo on the long table, long after Die left.

“I presume there is something else which remained unsaid during the meeting.” Kazuki started and Kamijo slowly nodded.

“Precautions have been made on my behalf long before the rumors started.”

That was big news and the Seraphim looked back at Kamijo in utter surprise. The Metatron stood up and continued to explain.

“Shortly after Lucifer... I mean Sugizo left heaven 400 years ago, a few Angels and me developed a special safety program for heaven. Hardly anyone knew about it because it was top secret and still is. But in consideration of the fact it is time for me to inform you now.” Kamijo paused before he went on further. “I want to apologize for keeping it a secret for so long which was merely on behalf of heaven and the safety of its residents.”

He sat down and folded his hands. “I'm talking about an unknown Angel-class which resides invisible among us. They are called ‘Demon Angels’. Angels to track down possible intruders or spys from hell. It is also their task to find out about rumors and possible traitors long before anyone of us does.”

“That's unbelievable...” Kazuki said and turned his attention to Aiji who was the 'Angel of moods'. Aiji was able to feel any kind of feelings long before anybody else did and he could change an Angel's feelings and mood swing within seconds.

“No, nothing. At least nothing unusual.”

“Their disguise is perfect.” Kamijo added and Kai asked. “How perfect?”

“Too perfect I guess. They are among us for quite some time now.”

“How many Demon Angels are there?” Kai asked again.

“Right now two. But if things should get more dangerous I'm willing to add some more.”

Kazuki looked angry remained silent though. Aiji seemed nonchalant like he always was. There was a suspicion that he didn't only control other Angels feelings but his own too. And Kai, the always good-humored and lovely Angel looked confused.

“There is another thing...” Kamijo admitted meekly. “The days when I developed the idea of DA's, the Demon Angels, Lucifer was among the development team.”

“WHAT?!” Kazuki bellowed out loud but with a touch of Aiji's hand, the Seraphim sank back in his seat.

“Unfortunately. Sugizo was highly intelligent and witty and his ideas were a great contribution to the project...”

“So what you are trying to say is....” Kazuki said.

“That most likely the idea was brought into hell with Sugizo.”

“Means that there are most likely Demon spies in hell too.” Kai said with his tender voice.

“Good Lord.” Kazuki held onto his forehead. “And now?”

“Now that you are informed I ask you to stay attentive, just in case.”

The Seraphim agreed, still speechless about the precaution and the meaning behind it. Invisible spies sounded very much like a last resort in case of an emergency.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After all the Angels had left for work again, two invisible Angels remained back in the conference room.

Clad with long, dark cloaks and large hoods they stood motionless inside the room, still absorbing the energy and thoughts of the former visitors. The Demon Angels were among them, always have been and always will. Their keen sense of feeling taking in any possible treacherous intend. Their clear mind reaching far beyond the borders of heaven, receiving visions from the strangest places.

The taller one of them pulled down his hood. His short, blond hair matched perfectly with his blue eyes. What differed him from all the others was a piece of cloth which covered his nose.

The second, more fragile Demon Angel, pulled down his hood as well. Auburn, long hair fell down over his shoulders. He looked up at his comrade.

“Do you think it was wise to tell them about us Reita?”

The composed Angel looked back at his comrade. “My opinion doesn't count.”

“I guess you're right.” The petite Angel let his mind wander and Reita felt it immediately.

“You will see him again soon Shinya.”

A deep sigh. “I know.... but I would have never guessed that it could be so hard to be invisible to him.”

Reita turned his attention away and stared into nothing. He chose his wise words out of his long collected experiences. “Only very few Angels possess the gift to become a Demon Angel. You will have changed the next time you meet him and he too.”

Reita silenced and Shinya knew that he was right. He nodded and Reita added. “The wind carries a lot of changes.”

“Yes.” Shinya agreed.

“Soon we have to go down to earth.”

“Let's hope to find nothing harmful there.”

Reita smiled as he lifted up his cloak and covered Shinya with it. And from one moment to the other the two of them disappeared.

 

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 15

 

The changes in my immortal life

 

 

It was funny to observe how Hakuei was more nervous than Toshiya on his first day of school in heaven. It was something similar to school, not entirely strict with learning and whatsoever. Shizumi, teacher for all the new arrivals, would inform them about general things in heaven and hell. And besides it was desired for the youngsters to make new friends too.

Hakuei checked on Toshiya for probably the 10th time today. If not asking him about his well being, he looked at his face or touched him on the shoulder randomly.... Seeing Hakuei behaving kind of helpless was somehow.... sweet. Toshiya had to smirk about it but didn't tell Hakuei about the funny observations. Frankly, it felt quite nice to be taken care of. Toshiya couldn't remember the last time this was the case. The more he enjoyed it.

On the other hand of course Toshiya was nervous too but it was in his nature to remain calm anyway like he always did. Panicking wouldn't help either one of them.

And in front of the school building outside the castle, many Guardian Angels have arrived with their proteges. Too many for Toshiya's taste and he felt like becoming even more shy if it was somehow possible. It was not that he disliked other people or Angels in that matter, he just made bad experience in the past and preferred to rather stay alone.

Hakuei turned around for about three times after he said his good-byes to Toshiya. And he told him more than once to contact him mentally if anything went wrong. Safe protege must kept safe.

Toshiya touched his neck sheepishly.

With his head lowered, he entered the school building. Many young Angels of all genders sat in between the rows, talking to each other, exchanging gossip.... it was an environment unknown to him. When eyes lay on him, and he could feel them starring at him, it always felt like they would read him like an open book. What if they just knew what happened to him in the past? What if they laugh about him or his poor roots? What if they lay open memories he would have rather forgot?

Toshiya seated next to a smaller Angel who seemed to be just as shy as he was. Getting used to the environment, Toshiya peaked now and then to the little Angel next to him. His hair was raven black, grown to his shoulders and his bangs were funnily grown over his eyes. It amused him and Toshiya had to admit that he didn't came up with such a clever idea of hiding. He smiled and the unknown Angel must have noticed it. Very calm, he said hello. Toshiya did the same and stretched out his hand.

“I'm Toshiya.”

“Nice to meet you.” He looked through between his bangs and the eyes scanning Toshiya were more intense than expected. Almost cat-like. “I'm Ryutaro.”

He seemed like a funny fruit. Toshiya slightly smirked at him and together they observed the ongoings inside their class room. There were so many different proteges. Taller and smaller ones, some loud or quiet. And even some with funny hairstyles.

It must have been some kind of reflex when Toshiya turned around and found somebody straight staring at him. He literally felt the strangers eyes burning holes into the back of his head but what scared him the most were these cold eyes and furrowed brows. Not to mention that the ring through his lip was rather strange too.

Slowly, without looking too suspicious, Toshiya turned his head back again and mouthed silently to Ryutaro. “Do you know him?” Taro shook his head after he took a fast glimpse. “No.”

There was no time to wonder because their teacher Shizumi entered and the chattering died down.

“Good morning class! My name is Shizumi and I'm your teacher for the upcoming two weeks. I’m sure that our time together will be fun and that you’ll learn a lot. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. In case of disobedience, I'm quoting Archangel Kami: 'I'll lead the rest of classes myself.' You can take this as a warning.”

Murmurs went through the room but Ryutaro didn't get it. He arrived in heaven only recently so Toshiya explained to him that Kami was well known for being strict and short tempered.

“Well then, welcome everyone.” Shizumi smiled while his gaze wandered through class, scanning his new pupils. By the look of him you could tell that Shizumi was easy to get along with. His short spiked up hair, the oversized glasses and the constant beam in his eyes marked him as a friendly being.

He opened a book on his desk and told the Angels to respond when called out loud.

Toshiya felt uneasy because of the recent incident. But thankfully nothing odd occurred when his name was called out. When Shizumi read the last name though, a grumpy murmur came from the last row. It was that bad starring Angel from before and Toshiya made sure to remember his name: Ni~ya.

The lesson started right away and it proved to be quite interesting. Toshiya would have never thought that he could actually care about heaven's history and divisions. Maybe it was because his point of view slightly changed since he truly arrived here.

What differed from earth was that many things Shizumi wanted to show came to the Angels like dreams. Movies playing in front of their inner eyes, visions, memories of past times.... and it stuck in their heads. Not like some boring, old teachers preaching and immediately forgetting it afterwards.

“Heaven. Imagine it like one huge garden of sunlight, friendship and love. Many visible and invisible beings live here. There is a clear hierarchy, from the top: God, as source of never ending love and compassion. Directly under his command is Metatron or how we call him Kamijo-sama. Kindel-Angel Ruki-sama is on the same level as Kamijo. Ruki is responsible for reincarnation and fate-things. Underneath them are the highest Angels: The Seraphim. Underneath them the Cherubim and Archangels and at last but not least the Guardian Angels and protege. Every Angel can climb up the hierarchy, depends on the talents. The structure of hell.... Looks confusing, is confusing. There are many different ways of evil and still we don't know all of them. We know that there is a similar hierarchy of Demons like in heaven. Higher and lower Demons do exist but what hell harbors best are the tortured and suffering souls which don't want to come to heaven or simply can't because they are utterly evil.”

“It’s terrible….” Toshiya whispered absentminded.

“Their God is the Lord of Darkness, Atsushi and his son Kirito.” For a moment, Shizumi silenced and decided to spared his pupils the story about the fallen Angel Lucifer. “You can imagine that heaven and hell are rivals since ages, balancing peace on contracts. They try to get souls into darkness, we try to get souls into light. We've had several fights and wars over the decades, with losses and victories on both sides. We coexist because we have to.”

After a few more explanations, Shizumi ended the chapter about hell and announced that humanity and earth would be next the following days. He called it a day and shortly after he closed his mouth, the mob stormed outside chattering. So things were not too different from earth either.

Hakuei arrived way too early to fetch Toshiya. Rest of the lesson he waited outside the building daydreaming. One loud, happy mob stormed out of school and they caught his attention automatically... but when he saw a long forgotten sad face among them, Hakuei stood still like struck by lightning.

Slowly and with no haste, Toshiya finally came out with Ryutaro next to him, both engaged in an eager conversation.

“You arrived here just recently? So you know how earth looks like today.”

“I do. I can tell you all about it if you want to.”

“Sure.” Toshiya answered and spotted Hakuei not far away waiting for him. And the moment he saw his Guardian’s face, he knew that something must be wrong. Maybe it was the empty, transfixed stare. But when Toshiya turned around to look at the same spot, nothing could be seen. He called Hakuei by his name twice until he reacted.

“Hey, you're back. Everything okay?” His voice as deep and caring like it always was but the gaze in his eyes still distant.

“Everything's fine. I just met Ryutaro.” He introduced him to Hakuei but the blond smiled knowingly. The reason arrived just in time and joined their group.

“Aoi!” Ryutaro literally jumped into his arms and didn't let go off him. His affection more than clear but Aoi more than willingly giving in too.

Hakuei greeted the arriving Angel and introduced Toshiya to him. Of course they knew each other from former times, Guardian Angel-buddies so to speak. What caught Toshiya's eyes though were the changing colors of their wing-aura. Although Ryutaro had no wings yet, the energy came from his back nevertheless. And somehow their color seemed to deepen. Shinya and Die came into mind too.

The young Angels promised to continue their conversation the following day and parted ways.

Turning his attention to Hakuei again proved to be unnoticed. Completely in thoughts the Guardian Angel hardly realized the others gone too. Toshiya found that very odd and only hesitantly touched him on the shoulders. Hakuei woke from his state but the moment he said it he found his excuses poor too. Toshiya luckily didn't ask for his reasons.

But that 'issue' which caught his mind was simply disturbing. A matter, he rather wanted to forget.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

One day after the meeting with the higher-ranked Angels, Die arrived at work and first thing Hizumi could tell from his body language was that his unhappy state still carried on. The pain slowly but surely wore him out. He seemed burnt out and not entirely 'there.'

“Any progress? Useful information from Kamijo?”

Die stared long and empty back at Hizumi before he recalled what his friend referred to. “You mean our last conversation? No, not really. He told me something I couldn't really picture.”

Hizumi spared the sarcastic comment and listened to Die's explanation instead.

“He told me that God sealed the borders to the 'Tree of life' as precaution because of all the gossip and possible dangers. And to keep his favorite 'Angel of Life' safe, he just sealed Shinya within.”

A lifted eyebrow from Hizumi. “But you’re not believing this, do you?”

A sight from a man close to insanity. “Honestly, I don't know what to believe anymore. There are all these lies and gossip around us, I-” He paused. “I just want him back. With him by my side I know that I can accomplish everything.”

Hizumi never recalled anybody loving his partner so much like Die did his Shinya. He himself never was that close with a being before so it was hard for him to imagine the pain, yet to give clever advise. But he did his best at least in listening and helping if somehow possible.

“You know, Kamijo was Shinya's Guardian Angel once. Maybe he really wants to keep Shinya safe or... God knows what!”

“Die,” he seemed to need a warm touch on his shoulder, “you will see. Everything's got a cause. There's surely an explanation for this.”

“Hey guys!”

The two Cherubim turned around and found Shizumi standing at their working place.

“Oi teacher!” Hizumi did the talking since Die lacked of communication skills these days. “Found something out already?”

“Are you kidding? I just came back from class. But,” he pulled out a book from his bag, “I got this with me.”

Wary, Hizumi looked left and right before he pulled Shizumi and Die closer. They started whispering.

“What's this?” Die wondered and Hizumi answered.

“I asked Shizumi to get us something from the forbidden part of the library.”

A jubilant beam from the teacher Angel who had almost boundless access to the library.

“Why?” Die didn't get it.

“Because we are Cherubim and must know about the prophecy. Maybe we can find some more interesting information too....”

Die had an inkling what Hizumi was referring to. They observed Shizumi skipping through the old, yellow pages. Pictures and texts in foreign languages only few Angels were able to read. The teacher pushed up the glasses on his nose, old habit of him, and scanned the contents. He murmured to himself when his quick eyes flew over several words. “higher-ranked.... category.... war.... fallen Angels....” His voice changed to a more interested one. “.... invention?”

He stopped and turned the page around again to scan the drawing in medieval style. “That's rare.” Hizumi and Die were glued to his lips. The drawing showed two statues out of stone. Both of them clad with long cloaks and their faces hidden by long hoods. Only their Wings showed that they were angelic.

“Never seen a pair of Angels clothed like this before.” He turned around to the next page and winced when Die clasped over his hand and hold onto the page in tension.

“That’s impossible...” Die whispered in disbelieve. It showed the drawing of another statue. “Whose book is it?”

Shizumi closed his eyes and tried to feel the energy of the book. “I can't tell. It seems that the Angel-”

“Disappeared.” Die ended his sentence. “In this case I guess I know whose book it is.”

“How so?” Hizumi asked.

Die removed his hand and they looked at the picture which showed an Angel statue. “I know this statue. It stood in the church's garden during my last life on earth... I was the one who ordered it from a stone mason.”

“WHAT?! Why? What meaning-?”

“I ordered it because I was inspired to do so..... inspiration often comes from the Guardian Angel... my Guardian Angel during my last life was-”

Die stopped. No one except of him and some higher ranked Angels knew who his Guardian Angel was.... the one who was expelled from heaven and fell from God's grace. Sugizo. Better known as Lucifer these days. Die met him in person before he left heaven and changed sides. Die never told anybody about their meeting.

“Guys,” Die cleared his throat, “there is something big going on. I think we are close to solve the riddle soon.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was pity when Toshiya told Hakuei that it was okay for him to share the large bed in Hakuei's apartment. Since they were living together now anyway, changes and new arrangements came daily and roused old habits and structures of thinking. For example: Toshiya sleeping unnecessarily close to the edge of the bed and never turning around, changed to turning around eventually and looking at Hakuei's peaceful sleeping face.

Toshiya still had troubles to sleep at night. The nightmares were yet not close to be forgotten and his mind still worked on the past and all the sudden changes. Hakuei, though his responsibility was high, never had troubles to sleep. He hit the pillows and was gone. Every time.

First thing Toshiya recognized about his Guardian Angel was kindness. Hakuei was bulky built and although Toshiya was tall, Hakuei was even taller. But behind his 'don't-mess-with-me-face' was in fact a loveable and sometimes sensible Angel. Hakuei of course would never talk about it and even less admit it. In his acting and caring he was so selfless that it simply didn't seem count. It took Toshiya even longer to realize that Hakuei held completely back only for the sake of him.

Knowing about him being introvert, how could Toshiya know that something was bothering him?

The pictures on Hakuei's upper body started to make sense after a week. After another week Toshiya was sure that he could draw them by heart.

Trust was a heavy word with even more meaning behind it. But Toshiya started to feel comfortable around him. He caught himself asking Hakuei questions about many things, now and then he started to smile. Took Toshiya very long to get used to that, it always felt alien to him. But the best reward was to receive a smile in return. Or maybe it was only to cover up his own uneasiness...

It started with Hakuei acting absentminded, asking the same questions over and over again. He brought and fetched Toshiya from school without a minute of delay and made sure to leave punctual again. At first Toshiya didn't notice because another strange urge came to develop inside of him. He felt strangely drawn to the element of water. The incident at the lake, were a strange water creature made contact with him long forgotten.

So one day Toshiya found himself standing on the large lake. The wind glided peacefully over the blue sparkling surface, the chirping birds and the sunlight made the moment perfect. He was all alone, enjoying the moment which only belonged to him. Slowly, he dropped to his knees and stretched out his hand to touch the surface of the water.... and Toshiya froze. His vision became blurry and a gust of energy went through the water, backfiring at him at the same moment. Pictures and voices filled his head but stopped immediately after he pulled back and dropped back into the grass.

When he leaned up again, a head looked out of the water. Startled, Toshiya moved backwards when he saw the fishman jumping over the surface of the water and diving rest of the way to the shore. The water creature stopped in front of Toshiya, divided from him through the water only.

“Hello Toshiya.” The fishman said, his voice strangely artificial but composed. His upper body bare and his fins underneath the surface. His eyes and hair were dark with a green shimmer.

“You know my name?”

“From the moment I first made contact with you.”

Seeing the fishman in front of him now, vague images and memories came back, the feeling of water penetrating his head. How could he possibly forget?

“I remember now. But who are you?”

“My name is Daisuke.”

“Another one?”

“Yes, like Cherub Daisuke.”

“You know him too?!”

“Of course. To get into the holy halls of heaven, every Angel must dive through this lake to reach the borders of heaven.”

Confusion was an understatement. “I didn’t know that the borders of heaven are underneath this lake.”

“It's a perfect disguise. I watch over this lake, who enters and leaves it.”

“The water..... I feel strange close to water. What happened to me?”

“I gave you half of my powers to communicate through water.”

Toshiya was shocked. “You did what?! But why? Why me? Something so precious!” He felt the pressure for so much responsibility.

“You are precious. When I first saw you I knew you are the one to give it to.”

“But I'm a protege, nothing higher ranked or gifted! You shouldn’t have.”

“It doesn’t matter who you are now. It matters who you will be.”

Toshiya didn't know what to make out of it. He thought to himself when Daisuke started explaining.

“I'm dependent from water. I could never leave it but you can. Dangerous times awaits us, I'm sure you can feel it too. I need you as a link to the foreign lands. A reliable but sensitive partner, that's what you are.”

“So we can exchange information? How?”

“Touch any kind of water and think of me. This way we will be able to communicate. Here in heaven and on earth.”

“Sounds unbelievable.”

“But it works.”

“And what about the Archangel of water? Am I not running into his job or something?”

“You cannot control or command water. Only Archangel Kami can do that. You can feel and communicate through water, that's something different.” Daisuke stretched out his hand and motioned Toshiya to do so too. Carefully, he touched the wet, slightly slimy hand and then he felt it again, water penetrating his head... and through the water he could hear Daisuke's voice talking to him. Toshiya nodded and replied to him mentally too.

When they were done, Daisuke pulled back and the water which wet his feet seemed to pull away too and Toshiya was all dry again. “Unbelievable.”

“You won't get wet from the water in heaven, just like the higher-sphered Angels.”

Toshiya nodded in awe, finally realizing what gift he possessed.

“Don’t tell anyone about your powers.”

“I won’t.”

“You can contact me through any water anytime you have the urge to tell me something.”

Toshiya nodded obediently.

“Thank you Toshiya and I'm sorry to burden you with this gift. But you are the only one capable to have it.”

“I hope I won't disappoint you.”

“You won't.” It was the first time Daisuke put a smile onto his smooth face. “Looking forward to be working with you.”

Toshiya nodded and smiled back.

From one moment to the other Daisuke dived down without a splash and swam away underwater.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Hakuei was on his way to fetch Toshiya from school. The second week of school already passed and the time for the youngsters to go down to earth was close, making a bundle of nerves out of him. He wondered if it was not to soon for Toshiya to go down without having him or Shinya around. Hakuei only hoped that Shinya would be back by then to say good bye, otherwise it would break Toshiya's heart.

On earth, Toshiya would gradually 'heal' and grow stronger during the undefined time down there. He would be only allowed to come back to heaven after receiving his wings and finding his own protege on earth. It was the time for protege to 'grow up', becoming responsible after looking for somebody else.

Which somehow seemed to itch Hakuei.

He felt like he was not done with watching Toshiya. There were still so many things to teach him, to show him.... only God knows what human Toshiya would be appointed to on earth. It scared Hakuei but soon they had to find it out anyway.

The chattering of the young protege leaving school was delusive. It seemed like the gossip didn't poison their innocent, little world. And the world which was poisoned....

Hakuei looked up in some kind of reflex when he spotted a pair of old-known eyes among them. Paralised, he was unable to think before he set in motion again. The chance was now or never to talk to him. But the young Angel obviously didn't want to talk to him. Hakuei made haste to catch up and grabbed the young Angel on his arm and whirled him around.

“Ni~ya! Wait!”

Dark, hurt eyes glowered back at him

“Let me go!”

“We need to talk.”

“There's nothing to talk about!”

“Do we have a problem here?” A third voice came from behind and Hakuei and Ni~ya looked into a pair of nonchalant eyes.

“No Ruka, everything's fine.” Hakuei answered and let go of Ni~ya again. And that put an end to his effort. Ruka was Ni~ya's Guardian Angel and well know for being an unpleasant fellow. Not very social and not interested in being it too.

Looking at Ni~ya leaving the place with his shoulders slumped and his fragile back so unprotected, brought up unpleasant memories. The last time Ni~ya and Hakuei met was a few decades ago on earth but the pain Ni~ya harbored for Hakuei was as fresh as the older Angel had feared him to. And they needed to dispose of their old Karma. Hakuei was long done with it but Ni~ya apparently not... although he had to admit that he kind of played a role in their misery too.

Hakuei winced when he felt someone touching him on the shoulder from behind. Toshiya stood behind him with a slight smile on his face which gave Hakuei a better feeling immediately.

“It's just me.”

“Not just you, it IS you.” Hakuei smiled back and playfully lay one arm around Toshiya's shoulders. Together they walked a bit but the smile coming from Hakuei seemed kind of false. The past days to Hakuei's puzzlement added vulnerability but Toshiya had no clue why. Of course he thought of himself at fault but was insecure whether to address the topic or to let it just drop.

In the midst of all this thinking, an invisible force put pressure into Toshiya's head and he slipped out of Hakuei's grip and fell down to the ground. He hold his head in between his hands and moaned in pain.

“Argh—!!“

“Toshiya! What's going on?!” Hakuei slumped down to him and held him on his shoulders. In shock, he looked up and down his tensed body, not knowing what to do.

“.. a vision.” He stammered and pressed his eyes together tight. Hakuei steadied him from behind and held onto his head, caring over his hair over and over again.

“Something's happening-“ And before Toshiya could end his sentence, a big wave of energy went through the whole lake and a dull drumming sound could be heard. The surface of the lake froze within a second and the water became as hard as stone.

Toshiya stopped gripping his head and he moved up from Hakuei's lap. He looked at the lake in front of them and stammered to himself. “Oh my God....” Hakuei followed him and placed a warm hand on his shoulder, still insecure if Toshiya was completely fine. “Daisuke froze the lake.” Toshiya added. “He sealed the boarders to our world.”

“Why?”

“To keep us safe.”

“Some strangers came, that's all I know.”

Hakuei looked back at his protege in awe. Of course he didn't know about Toshiya's new ability to communicate with Daisuke but the lake being frozen happens like once every thousand years. When Hakuei looked up into heaven and saw many Angels flying away in panic, trying to safe their loved ones.

“We better leave too.”

“Guess you're right. There's nothing we can do.” And with a last glimpse of the stone like surface, Toshiya turned away from it and left together with Hakuei.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Kamijo slammed the huge doors of his quarters with both hands open, storming through the holy hall straight to the borders of heaven. His cloak and golden hair flew back from the speed, several Cherubim and Angels of Revenge followed him too. They all felt the impact and the change of energy vibes.

“Who is it?!” Kamijo shouted back at the Angels.

“It’s the Master of Darkness.” One Cherub answered.

Kamijo widened his eyes for a moment. “So the fallen Angel has returned.”

Chapter Text

Songs to this chapter: 06 – Carnival of Lies (Hell's theme)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YLfI5sJQSQ&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC&

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 16

 

Look into those eyes… they show you evil

 

 

 

The Cherubs followed Kamijo through the holy halls with spears in their hands. Lucifer, Sugizo's arriving caused quite a stir among the higher-ranked Angels. Fact was that the fallen Angel visited for the first time after he was cast out of heaven. Kamijo could only guess what his arriving was all about.

„How far has he come?“ Kamijo wanted to know.

“He’s still in front of the borders and hasn’t tried to enter yet.”

“Good. We’ll meet him there. Get Ruki!”

“Yes!” Some of the Cherubs left and Kamijo turned into the meeting hall of the Archangels.

“KAMIII!”

The Archangel of water was within reach immediatel. “We're here.” Behind Kami were hide, Kyo and Mana. “What about the Seraphim?”

“We won't endanger them. Not yet.” Fact was that the Seraphim were the holiest Angels because of their talents and honestly, they were no fighting Angels. So Kamijo rather kept them out of it. “Let’s go.” Kamijo said and the Archangels followed.

They crossed the long marble hall down to the portals where the Cherubim stood behind the boarders with their spears. It was an unbelieveable sight to see, a hundred of armed Angel soldiers ready to attack any time necessary. Heaven's force could be as merciless as hell in case of war.

Kamijo stepped through the crowd of soldiers and showed himself in front of the large portals of heaven. The Portals opened and in between the sphere of heaven and transition, stood the Master of Darkness, Sugizo. He earned himself quite a title since he started 'working' for the other side. Sugizo was the third most important member of hell, standing in direct command underneath the devil's son Kirito. But Kirito wasn't present, seemed like Sugizo did the dirty work.

Among the Cherubim were Die and Hizumi. Die froze by the sight of Sugizo, so it was really the Angel he saw on earth. His former Guardian Angel really became a Demon.

But Sugizo wasn't alone. Two higher-ranked Demons accompanied him. And all three of them didn't look very happy. With a stern glare, Sugizo looked back at Kamijo and Metatron asked him:

“What do you want?” Kamijo asked coldly and held his arms crossed over his chest.

Sugizo smirked. “You’re acting so cold, Kamijo. Unbelievable we worked together once…”

“Once.” Kamijo added dryly. Tension filled the air.

“I want to have a word with you in private.”

“Why?”

“It's about the prophecy.”

Lucifer couldn't have been more open. Kamijo narrowed his eyes and motioned the Cherubim to take down their weapons. “Truce during your stay if you and your friends guarantee the same.”

“Of course.” A cold smile crept over Sugizo's lips and the portals opened.

Hizumi didn't like it and neither did Die. It was the unreadable glare in Sugizo's and his friend's eyes. The Cherubim looked at each other, giving a silent agreement to observe the Demons closer than necessary. Among the Cherubim, invisible for all the other Angels and Demons, was the secret weapon of heaven. The so called 'Demon Angels' observed the ongoings too and scanned the Demons as good as possible.

'They are pure evil.' Reita said to Shinya.

'Which one could be dangerous?'

'The mute one. We better keep an eye on him.'

Shinya tried to made out his dark energy but couldn't grasp it. The Demon seemed to neutralize all kind of energies. 'The mute one neutralizes everything to his benefits. He has no personality, no name...' A word came into Shinya's mind. 'He is Zero.'

'He is. And the Demon right next to him is Tsukasa. A cold hearted Demon who in fact changed sides with Sugizo when he fell from grace.'

'Tsukasa used to be an Angel?!'

'A Cherubim to be exact.'

'Dear Lord....'

 

Lucifer and his Demons stepped through the portals of heaven after they have been allowed to enter. Without allowance no Demon was able to enter. It was the other way around in hell.

Kamijo, followed by the Archangels and a dozen of Angel of Revenge, guided Sugizo and his two fellow Demons into a conference room inside the holy halls.

“Of course my subordinates will take part in our conversation as well.”

“Just like mine.”

The portals to the meeting room closed, guarded by the Cherubim Angel of Revenge outside. On one side of the table, Sugizo, Tsukasa and Zero took their places. On the other side the Archangels and Ruki. Kamijo sat on the end of the table. A mighty group gathered, able to judge over the destinies of uncountable souls.

“Why did you come here and why now?” Kamijo looked at Sugizo who seemed quite amused to be back in heaven.

“Maybe because we received similar idications like you did. Demons, reporting about visions and possible apocalypses, prophecies in old books... rings a bell?”

Kamijo moved back in his mighty chair and crossed his arms over his chest unpleasantly.

“So you know about….” Kamijo stopped.

“- the teleporter.” Sugizo ended Kamijos sentence.

“We call it cross.”

“Same to me.” Sugizo said, making a nonchalant gesture. “You surely understand that I'm not keen to use the word.”

Kami rolled his eyes and Tsukasa fixed him immediately. He seemed to be a highly alert Demon with a keen sense. But when it came to a glaring contest, the moody Archangel Kami always wins. Tsukasa looked away with an arrogant look.

“I guess you haven't found the destined carrier yet. Otherwise hell would have heard of you.”

“And I guess it's the other way round in hell too?” Kamijo asked back.

“We all know that a creature, carring the gift of being a teleporter, could enter each world without boundaries. Not to mention what other powers it could possibly posess. I guess the consequences are clear: No matter which side finds the carrier, there will be war.”

Murmurs and whispers changed to loud arguing voices. Conversations and assumptions made it unbearable to continue the conversation. That was when Ruki stood up and started to speak.

“There will be no war.” It was his mere presence and power in his words which silenced the crowd.

“How so?” Sugizo asked him. “You surely must know that there can be no peace with one side in posession of such a powerful thing.”

Ruki nodded. Sugizo had a point and Ruki understood the situation they were in. As an observer of Karma, instantly studying all kind of Akasha-chronicles over the decades, he knew just too well how living beings behaved in case of posessing too much power. And he came up with an idea long before this meeting had started.

“We will seal a contract.”

“Oh great, a contract made in heaven!” Sugizo added sarcastically.

“With the same conditions for all.”

Sugizo thought about it before he answered. “Go on.”

“No matter which world finds ‘the cross’, each world has to destroy it. And if this world refuses to kill the carrier, one mighty Angel, or in your case Demon, has to die too. This volunteer’s life will be sealed to the contract too. If someone breaks the contract in keeping 'the cross' longer than one day, this volunteer will die too.”

Kamijo wondered when Ruki made all of the contract conditions up. But he couldn't argue about the contents. They seemed justified. But the Archangels looked either stern or concerned.

Tsukasa looked back at his Master, waiting for an answer while Zero seemed to do nothing else than being physically present in the room.

Sugizo cleared his throat after thinking about it thoroughly. “Sounds like a plan but who guarantees me that heaven won't cheat with that contract?”

“I guarantee you with my life.” Ruki added. That was a promise made by saying it. Kamijo stood up stunned. “Ruki? What do you think you're doing?!”

“The right thing. If it’s my death to keep peace that will do.” Ruki looked back at Sugizo who was still in thoughts but slowly started to nod.

“All right, I think that will do.”

“Then tomorrow, same time, same place. Come with a higher-ranked volunteer Demon to sign the contract. And we will take part with a higher-ranked Angel to sign it, plus Kamijo.”

“WHAT?! We never discussed that before!” Ruki looked back at Kamijo with his deep glaring eyes. “If Lucifer signs it as the highest ranked Demon, you will have to sign it as well. Plus the life of an volunteer as a guarantee. That’s only fair for both sides and hell can be sure that we are serious about it too.”

Although Kirito was the son of the devil, Sugizo was in full charge of all business dealings concering hell. Everybody knew that. And if they all kept to the contract, nobody would die anyway.

“Tomorrow, same time. That’s a promise.” Sugizo added and he nodded at Tsukasa and Zero to be ready to leave.

The doors of the meeting hall opened and all the attendances left, the Angels of Revenge following them too, back to the borders of heaven.

Die and Hizumi saw the crowd coming and took their positions at the gate. When Sugizo was within reach, Die felt how a thought entered his head and he let it in. It was Sugizo whose link to him still seemed not entirely broken. Nevertheless, Die was shocked that his old Guardian Angel adressed him so privately.

'A shame to see you as their watchdog of the gates, being all obedient. I haven’t looked over you to bring you that far. I’ve had so much for you in mind.'

'You've made your choice Lucifer and I've made mine. Free will, you should know it best.” Die gave a slight smirk.

Sugizo changed to another concerning topic. 'He’s killing you again…' He beamed when Die’s expression gave him away. Die knew immediately who Lucifer was appealing to.

'What do you know?! I swear if hell did something to him, I…!'

'Hell? I don't think so.' Sugizo stepped through the portals with his two Demons. But before they left he sent out one last thought to Die: 'We are all slave of our own feelings. But some use these powers to rule and some to get ruled.'

And within a moment they were gone, back to hell where they came from.

Still disturbed about what Sugizo told him mentally, Die couldn't help himself but recognized that Hizumi looked agitated about something too.

“Hizumi, everything all right?”

“I hate this creatures.” He stammered and gave Die a sign to be okay.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Hakuei wanted to leave the shore immediately after the lake turned into stone but Toshiya vehemently refused to leave. Little did he know that Toshiya shared powers with the water creature.

Serious about his job to protect his protege, Hakuei tried to pull him away but Toshiya struggled and called him off.

“But there is nothing you can do!”

“Well, maybe I can!” Stubbornly, he pulled himself free and stormed towards the lake again.... Hakuei had an inkling that this could end badly.

Toshiya touched the frozen surface of the lake and immediately closed his eyes in shock when a pain of visions shot through his head, feeling like splitting his head in two. An invisible force tossed him back into Hakuei and they both landed hard on the grass.

Helplessly, Hakuei held the crying bundle in his arms, shocked about what just happened and the result of it. Toshiya's arms looked like being burned, his moaning and wringling confirming Hakuei's theory. Clumsily, he tried to comfort the harmed Angel but how could he? Toshiya needed to be healed.

With a dull echo, the lake started vibrating and within a moment went back into its liquid state. It was strange to observe how Toshiya reacted towards the water. He stopped crying the same moment when he fainted. Hakuei started to scream for help and a head popped out of the water.

“Bring him to me.” The creature said.

“Who are you?”

“Just a friend.”

“You won’t harm him, won’t you?”

“Never.” Daisuke stretched out his wet arms and touched Toshiya's wounds. “That was too much for you, I'm sorry.” He lay his hand over the young Angel's eyes and after removing them, Toshiya slowly opened them again. A sound of relief from Hakuei who still held onto him, his grip thightening by the luck of having him back.

“What happened?” Toshiya whispered, seeing Daisuke swimming in front of him.

“You shouldn't have touched the surface. It was my fault, I should have told you earlier. I'm so sorry about that, it's unexcusable.”

“It was my fault to touch it.... Don't get worked up about it.”

Daisuke's feeling of guilt clearly showed in his eyes. He nod at the two Angels and left shortly afterwards. Toshiya felt strangely exhausted and powerless but the well known coldness mixed up with a warmth coming from behind his back. An arm slowly encircled him from behind and his chin rested on Toshiya's head.

He felt unknowingly peacful for a moment until little drops rolled down his hair and onto his chest. Were those tears? By the realisation that Hakuei cried silently into Toshiya's hair, something inside of him felt like breaking.

“Tell me….” Hakuei whispered. “How can I ever protect you if you even get harmed in heaven?”

It was the first time for Toshiya to return a touch. It happened automatically and felt right this moment to do so. Hesitantly, he stretched out his hand rested on Hakuei's arm. The cold fingers leaving imprints on the tattoo colored surface, a respond the older one of them never knew to have yearned for.

“You can’t always protect me. I have to take care of myself too.”

A nod against the silky, black hair. “When did you become so strong?” It was a husky whisper which was answered by Toshiya with an almost merciful smile. He left the embrace by his own strength and gazed into the distance of the lake. “Something big is coming up. I can feel it.”

And in that moment, when the sun reflected Toshiya's shadow over Hakuei behind him, the young Angel seemed to have grown and it was Hakuei who felt weak all of a sudden.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After the unwelcomed guests from hell had left again, a never ending discussion broke loose underneath the big lake, inside the holy halls. All the higher-ranked Angels discussed about the upcomming peace treaty they would have to sign a day later.

Kamijo looked at Ruki. “Are you sure about the contract's details? We could still cancel it…”

“To gain hell's trust we have no choice but to let the volunteers sign as well.” Ruki never overthrew his decisions.

“Who will volunteer?” Kami asked and looked around the table into silenced faces.

“That's not so easy.... The decision must be strategically good-” Ruki added.

“I'll do it.”

The crowd looked back at an Angel who hardly ever talked. Kyo.

“But Kyo…” Kami was obviously surprised and so were the others.

“It’s just like Ruki said: If the cross gets reborn in heaven we have to kill it and everybody survives. If the cross gets reborn in hell, no one of us will die anyway.… and besides: I'm not afraid to die into eternity. It would mean eternal rest. Sounds good to me.”

Hide wondered about Kyo being philosophical.

Kamijo stood up after Mana was done delivering a message to him. “I guess it's time to tell the other higher-ranked Angels about the Prophecy. I will personally tell the Angel of Revenge and order them to kill the cross as soon as it is reborn in heaven.”

They were Angels and talked about killing. Some Angels in the room didn't like the idea of it but kept their mouths shut anyway. Right now nobody knew what consequences an awakened teleporter could bring and 'erasing' it seemed like the only solution.

Kamijo cleared his throat. “I will summon the Seraphs to join this meeting immediately.” Whichw a a rare thing because they were the holiest Angels and hardly ever seen during conferences. Another convenient bonus was Aiji, one of the Seraphim who possess the power to direct moods and right now everybody was highly tensed.

“.... the good old Angel of light and love…” Kyo whispered monotone but Hide got his mood immediately and blinked back at him. “I bet you can't wait to see 'cute' Kai again....”

Two Angels in the room were painfully touched by Hide's words but it was Kyo's silence which gave him away.

“Kami,” Kamijo adressed him, “I will get the Seraphim, you go fetch the Angels of Revenge. Meet you back here in a minute.”

“Got it.”

And the two Angels left the others back in the conference room waiting.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Hell's castle was a magnificent place, completely out of black marble stone and red carpets throughout the endless corridors. All the furniture were out of dark wood, the doors were heavy and large, the corridors decorated with statues and pictures of fantasy creature and the last battles.

Sugizo's energetic steps halled through one of these corridors, followed by Tsukasa and Zero. They just arrived from heaven.

“What do you think about the contract?” Tsukasa looked at his master.

“Why should I care about some contract?” Sugizo was clearly annoyed. “This hypocrites of Gods army… preaching about love but they were the first which offered to kill the teleporter.”

“But you’re not planning on destroying the teleporter, are you?” Tsukasa kept on asking.

“No matter where the teleporter will be reborn, we have to make him work for us. And then it won’t matter if there is any war, victory will be ours.”

The three of them stopped in front of another large door which opened on its own. They entered the empty room and as soon as the door closed, several stairwells appeared. The whole room was filled with them and each one guided into another direction. Unerring, Sugizo took one of the stairwells and the other two Demons followed.

“But the contract…”

“I know….” Sugizo said. “We have to sign it to make them trust us.”

"Who would be stupid enough to sign as volunteer?”

Sugizo smirked. “We will find one.” The Master of Darkness thought about something before he turned his attention to Zero. “Have you found something out?”

“Nothing yet.” A deep, monotone murmur.

“You will accompany me tomorrow into heaven again.”

“But they don’t know it either…”

Sugizo stopped climbing these hideous stairs and adressed his servants: “Follow me.” He unfolded his bony, leather-like wings and with a stroke, he flew up the entire stairwell. Tsukasa made a face at Zero, they both opened their wings as well and followed him onto the higher-ranked floor. Sugizo shared this floor only with one other: Kirito, the Devil's son. Everybody knew that he and Sugizo HATED each other. Even after the decades they still argue about the who-is-the-most-favorite-kind-of-thing.

Sugizo walked down the the red carpeted corridor. Heavy iron Chandeliers hung down from the ceiling, torches burned on the walls. The walls itself showed demons, hundreds or maybe even thousands of them. The whole scenery stretched throughout the hall, showing an endless scene of war. Demons dancing through fire, killing people, hunting lost souls and everywhere torture. Scenes out of books and even quotes from the Bible.

At the end of the corridor were another large doors, out of black wood, covered with iron and a devils mask right in the middle of it… a little melodramatic but Sugizo liked it that way. After entering the room it closed automatically behind them again. A long black table with a lot of chairs stood in the middle of the room. Meters of finest red velvet hung down from the ceiling and a big chandelier hanging from the center of the room. Sugizo sat down on the highest chair at the end of the table, Tsukasa and Zero still followed.

“What did you mean with ‘they don’t know it either’?”

Zero eyed Sugizo with his almond shaped eyes. “I tried to contact him but it didn’t work. He didn’t speak to me.”

“You should have tried to make him speak or at least any other higher-ranked in there!” Sugizo exaggerated.

“He wasn’t suited to give information.”

“Tomorrow you will find someone else to 'get in contact' with.” Sugizo rolled his eyes. “These Cherubs. Violent and brainless since forever…. “

“Master, if I might add….” Zero spoke up. “I got the impression that they really don’t know about heavenly spies. Maybe there are none.”

Sugizo laughed out loud. “Of course there are! Heaven always had Demon Angels. I must know because I too invented them in heaven a long time ago. They are very sensible and hard to seek out....” Sugizo paused and stared into empty space, recalling his mental conversation with Die. “... I can't believe it....” He as the Master of Darkness was well-known to be very clever, especially in adding one and one together. “Zero, when we're signing the contract tomorrow you will teleport yourself mentally into the mind of another Angel. The red-head Cherub Daisuke....” Zero nodded. “He was never a good liar, my dear Die…” Sugizo smiled.

A knock echoed on the door and Sugizo yelled to enter. A young Demon entered with sincere steps, his golden hair waving in his walk. His mouth was naturally formed into a big pout, his lovely but stern eyes lied on Sugizo.

“Yuana, perfect timing.”

“I smelled it in the air.” Yuana said with a strange, almost inhuman voice. The answer wasn't strange for his kind of nature. He detected every move, noise and smell around him within seconds.

“Unfortunately, we've found nothing about the Demon Angels. I will order you to go down to earth and search for them there. Maybe they went there and if not, keep your eyes and ears open for anything new.”

Yuana understood his mission. His Master searched for the Demon Angels because he wanted to 'interview' them about the prophecy, maybe they even knew something about the teleporter.

“But first we need a volunteer to sign tomorrow....” Sugizo thought out loud.

“If there is none then I will sign.” Tsukasa added emotionless and stiff as ever.

“No, not you. We need someone else for the contract…” Sugizo stopped talking when loud and insane laughter echoed through the halls. Tsukasa rolled his eyes and even Zero closed his eyes for a moment which was a rare phenomenon because he usually never showed and kind of emotions. Yuana who was the highest sensible of them all even covered his ears.

The laughter arrived inside Sugizo's hall and echoed from corner to corner, as if someone invisible jumped around the room.

“Come on down!” Sugizo shouted out annoyed. The laughers stopped and at the table on an empty chair, features slowly took form and a new arrival took shape. White skin, covered with uncountable black letters, the black hair growing down his shoulders and dark eyes which bore a certain wit.

“You will STOP doing that nerve racking show Miyavi!” But the new arrival had a nervous personality. With his arms and legs constantly moving and hardly keeping his mouth shut, it was a challenge to even exist next to him.

“I promise!” But the face he made promised otherwise. From their neat little gathering, Yuana was the one who hated Miyavi the most simply because he was too nervous and too loud. But unfortunately Miyavi was the carrier of a very rare gift. He was a 'form changer' and able to transform into every living or dead being, even humans, demons and angels.

“You have to come with us tomorrow into heaven Miyavi.” Sugizo started. “I need your ‘second face’ for a signature.”

Miyavi turned his head jokingly around. “What signature?”

“For a contract between heaven and…” Miyavi lifted up his indexfinger, causing Sugizo to stop. “You don’t have to tell me. May I have a look for myself?”

“Fine, pick one.”

Miyavi looked from Zero to Tsukasa. Zero looked labsentminded ike always while Tsukasa tried to hide his annoyance. He just knew that Miyavi would pick him to read his memories. And Miyavi LOVED Tsukasa just BECAUSE he was so arrogant and annoyed of him. About Zero he couldn't care less and it was the other way round. Maybe it was because Zero shared a smiliar gift. Zero himself was kind of a mind reader too. He could slip deep into any mind and control and read their thoughts but he was not able to change physically into someone. While Zero teleported his mind into someone else his physical demonic body could remain somewhere else.

When Miyavi turned into someone else or read thoughts, he disappeared completely. Just like now.

Tsukasa stiffened and closed his eyes. For a moment his body hung lifeless in his chair before he regained self-control again. The only thing that gave Miyavi's presence in Tsukasa's body away was the changing of the victim's eye color. And his eyes turned into ice blue at the moment.

Shortly afterwards Miyavi took shape on his chair again and Tsukasa relaxed.

“I understand.” Miyavi said in an untypical serious tone. “So you picked me as the volunteer?”

“Exactly.” Sugizo said.

“But which face do you want me to wear?”

“The one of Kiritos’ counselor and bodyguard: Uruha.”

“AHAHAHAHA!” Miyavi laughed out loud. “You’re disgracing me! Wearing that mule’s face!”

“Quiet!!! No one MUST know about our plan or I can kiss Kirito's throne good-bye even before our conspiracy has started.”

Behind all the contracts and prophecies these were Sugizo's true intentions. He wanted to bring about Kirito's downfall and the 'teleporter' was a nice gimmick he wanted to posess to make his plan work. The others supported him because they were promised to raise in demonic rank when Lucifer would claim the throne.

Kirito was a strong and humorless Lord with even less servants. Very suspicious of everything and everybody so Sugizo decided to start with his servant Uruha.

“There is a lot to do. Yuana, you go down to earth immediately.” Sugizo said and Yuana nodded. He stood up from his chair and started running. He jumped into the air and when he landed again, he had turned into a huge wolf with golden hair.

With high speed the wolf ran out of the hall, his tail flowing with the moves he made and the sounds of his mighty paws on thick carpet slowly disappeared. The delicate Demon was a strong wolf which made quite an impression, a terrifying one.

“I love it when he does that.” Miyavi pointed at the direction where Yuana had run off to.

“Anyway, the three of us will discuss how to exactly proceed tomorrow. Miyavi, pay special attention!” And the three Demons gathered closer around Lucifer to work on the perfect plan.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Later the same day, news came like a shock to all the young residents and Guardians in heaven. All protege would be sent down to earth the next day in the evening which was way ahead of schedule and provoked even more gossip and speculations among the residents.

Ryutaro almost had a nervous break down in Aoi's arms. The young couple had just reunited in heaven and now they had to separate too soon again. It took all of Aoi's persuasion skills and even more strokes to calm the petite Angel down again.

But no one else was so afraid of going down to earth once more than Toshiya. When they got the news he felt completely empty at first, changing into anger and leaving a numb feeling behind at last. Toshiya slowly reached the point where he couldn't care less. It would happen anyway... or maybe it was only a ridiculous way to restrain his fear.

Hakuei wasn't less shocked although he knew that the protege had to go to earth the following week anyway but the next day came just too quickly.

“I wish I could stay here forever... isn't it ridiculous?”

Hakuei shook his head. “Nothing ever stays the same.”

“I'm so scared, I feel like suffocating, I-” Strong arms encircled him from behind and his words stuck in his throat. He gave up, gave into the embrace and granted it.

“You have to trust me. I'll be watching you.”

A blush followed by a sincere nod. Was it possible that closeness made brave? When did it start that feeling this warm arms wrapped around his body became normal? And where did that thought come from that he might miss these warm embraces during cold nights?

This night Toshiya didn't move in his sleep, afraid to drop the familiar weight on his waist.

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 17

 

Attack of ghosts and illusions

 

 

Soon they would leave heaven for earth.

And Ryutaro was more clingy to Aoi than ever. He was his mentor, his protector, his lover. Strong and beautiful, a little composed sometimes which made him only more sexy. There was no decision, no thought or idea Taro wouldn't discuss with him before acting. In Aoi's wisdom he always trust, in his power it was irresistible to rest.

And the love was good. God knows their last lifetime on earth was tragic but devoted and sincere. Sometimes, when the sun shone onto Aoi's deep black hair, with his gaze wandering off into the distance, Taro imagined him in his last life time with the olive toned skin, the wordless warrior with great power but even greater wisdom in holding it back. He trusted his Guardian blindly and was scared to leaven him for the new, wide world. Aoi had always been there for him but now it was time for Ryutaro to get his own protege, to become responsible for another living being and that's what he was afraid of. He would rather stay with his beloved and get pampered by him. But at some point they all had to leave to gain experience. Everybody said that getting an own protege meant 'to grow up'.

He would have rather stayed in this strong, warm arms which hold onto him tightly only a few moments ago. The hot voice against his hear making him shiver, the warm lips too addicting, to demanding on his little mouth and over his whole body. Aoi could be greedy but Taro always gave in with with great pleasure. There was no physical love in heaven like on earth but the touches didn't feel less 'alive' neither. Something was always amiss in heaven and being human made other things possible. Although the protege stayed Angels during their temporary visit on earth this time.

Taro sighed on his way to Toshiya. They wanted to meet up after school and on his way he wondered what kind of person his own protege could possibly be. The persona of a new protege was chosen by Ruki and no one was able to interfere or make wishes about it. Everybody received a matching soul, a human important for their personal growth and in return they helped this human to develop too. All Taro hoped for was that his new protege would be nice.

“Thank you for spending your little free time with me, considering that we have to leave tomorrow.” Taro said on their way through the castle and Toshiya seemed to be surprised about it.

“Sure, why shouldn't I?”

“Well I thought you would have rather stayed with Hakuei, enjoying the remaining time together.”

“What's Hakuei got to do with meeting a friend?” Toshiya's smile was innocent and unknowingly. And Taro realized that 'it' may never occurred to Toshiya what kind of relationships Guardian Angels and protege could possibly have, next to the fact that Toshiya seemed to be completely blind because he was still too consumed in his own little world.

“Anyway!” Taro changed topic. “I will miss you so much! I would have loved to meet you on earth but in all probability we will be separated.”

“What?! But I wanted to stay with you! It would have been so much fun...”

“I know but we have to go to where our protege are living, means we're most likely separated.”

The word 'protege' weighed heavily on Toshiya's soul. He could hardly handle himself and taking care of another living being now? A scary thought but if heaven wanted them to they could only oblige.

Startled by a door being loud shut, the two Angels stopped in their tracks. A furious, young Angel crossed their path and his face wore the usual death-glare. It was Ni~ya. But the glistening on his cheeks unmistakeably tears. Taro and Toshiya felt like caught in the situation. It would have been rude to simply ignore him but asking him about it seemed nosy too.

An unknown feeling of compassion rushed through Toshiya. Maybe it was the hurt in the Angel's eyes, the vulnerability and loneliness he could clearly see now. All things Toshiya wasn't unfamiliar with. How come he never realized it before?

In reflex he turned around and called out for Ni~ya but he didn't react. Toshiya called for him again which made him stop a few meters away. He hissed. “It's none of your business!”

“Since we're caught in the situation, it is actually.”

Taro was astonished about Toshiya's appearance. Not that he was ever immature but he acted so grown-up and responsible. An unknown strength seemed to come from within him.

Ni~ya gave a fake laugh and pulled up his head condemnatory. “So you are the one who's with Hakuei....”

Surprised about the change of topic, Toshiya answered dumbfounded. “I am. Why?”

“Stay.away.from.me. Do you understand?”

Ni~ya didn't wait for an answer. He turned on his heel and left the two perplex Angels behind.

“What was that all about?” Toshiya wondered.

“How rude of him! I'm afraid he doesn't like you.”

“Oh thanks very much Taro.”

“Who knows? Maybe he’s madly in love with Hakuei and tremendously jealous of you?” Ryutaro mocked him but Toshiya shrugged it off.

“Very funny Taro. Come on, let's go.”

During their turn through the garden, Ryutaro turned even more quiet than usual, deeply thinking about many things. Toshiya noticed it of course and wondered why Taro called out to for a meeting on this last day in heaven.

“You seem not very happy?”

“Happy? Surely not....” Taro answered and the smile on his lips was forced, next to painful.

“Want to tell me?”

“I'm afraid of leaving heaven and Aoi. I'm not sure if I'm ready for it. But you....” Taro looked up to Toshiya. “You're taking it so easily, I wish I could to that.”

Toshiya though laughed uneasily. “I do? Maybe I seem composed but truly I'm scared too.”

For Taro, Toshiya was something special. He never knew what happened to Toshiya on earth or how circumstances were but he sincerely liked him. There was something about his nature which was purely kind and innocent. He made people, souls, feel good when being around them and would never selfishly claim anything from anybody, which was a rare thing in all worlds.

“Toshiya, I'm glad we met.” And he smiled sincerely at him.

“I’m glad too.”

They hugged each other for the first time.

“Let's meet up on earth again.” Toshiya said and Taro simply nodded, realizing that it wasn't only Aoi he would miss.

A sincere hug could leave you with a warm feeling for the rest of the day.

After meeting Aoi in the garden, Toshiya made his way back to the castle alone, smiling to himself because he was sincerely happy about having such a lovely friend like Taro. But a sudden pain made him stop halfway, his vision getting blurry and thoughts changed rapidly. The urge of feeling water came from deep within and with effort, Toshiya slumped down onto the grass in front of a little fountain. Not caring about the strange glares he got, he dived his head into the water and his sense of perception changed immediately. He heard Daisuke calling out for him.

 

'Hello Toshiya. I'm glad you heard my calls. I know you're leaving this evening but we will be able to communicate on earth too.'

'I see. Why is this important?'

'I wanted to ask you to report any suspicious changes on earth to me.'

'What changes?'

'You will know about it soon enough.'

'Daisuke, sometimes I have these visions about Angels and Demons fighting.'

'…'

'Daisuke?'

'Listen Toshiya, today I will have to freeze the lake again. Try to stay as far away from the lake as possible.'

'What's happening?'

'I cannot tell. It's top secret.'

You know, I fear that gift that you gave me. It's a large responsibility I-’

One day you maybe…’

 


But Daisuke didn’t get the chance to finish his mental conversation, when Toshiya was lifted up from the ground and out of the water. In shock, the young Angel opened his eyes and found himself staring into a pair of gorgeous, white eyes. It was Cherub Hizumi.

“Dear God, you are Shinya’s son! Why are you diving in a fountain?! You scared me!”

Hizumi settled Toshiya down onto his own feet again.

“I'm sorry but do we know each other?”

“I'm Cherub Hizumi, colleague and friend of Die and Shinya.”

Toshiya looked pleadingly at Hizumi. “You know Shinya too?! Please tell me, do you know where Shinya is? I need to see him before I'm leaving this evening.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint you. But you are not the only one looking for him.”

“How is Die doing?” Toshiya knew about it and realized for how long he hasn’t seen him.

“We all hope that Shinya will return soon.”

“Return? From what?”

“We don't know it either. Maybe I'm not the one you should talk to about that.”

“I understand.” Toshiya bowed at Hizumi. “Please say hello to Die and my best wishes.” Hizumi nodded and left. Toshiya couldn't help himself but to look after him, his presence just like Die, clearly showing that he was a higher-ranked Angel after all. His wings majestically, his appearance mysterious.

When Toshiya turned around, he gazed into two very familiar eyes and jumped.

“Hakuei! You scared me!”

“I was looking for you but Hizumi was faster.”

“I guess so.... Why are you here?”

Hakuei stretched out his hand, waiting for Toshiya to take it. “I wanted to spend the rest of the day with you.”

Wondering, Toshiya took his hand and was astonished about feeling shy to do so.

“I met Ni~ya earlier....”

It was a mere reaction but a reaction nevertheless.

“... and he mentioned you.”

Just when things started to go smoothly, new obstacles came up. Hakuei turned away his eyes and gave himself away.

“I know you had many lifes before me and I respect that. It's just irritating when I'm encountered with so much hate and not understanding why.”

And saying it out loud, it slowly started to make sense to Toshiya. The glares from Ni~ya, Hakuei acting absentminded the last few weeks.... They must know each other from another life.

“I'm sorry you got caught in the crossfire. I will settle it soon enough but not today.”

An unknown feeling clouded Toshiya's earlier happy mind. A mixture of slight sadness and madness and although he found it rather childish himself to feel that way, he couldn't help it.

Actions often say more than words. A thumb caring over the back of one's hand for example. And Hakuei's hand was always warm when he held onto Toshiya's.

“We've been through a lot together... I never did that with another being before, I never wanted to do that with another being before.”

Toshiya searched for words but everything he wanted to say seemed inappropriate in such a change of moods. He tightened his clutch around Hakuei's hand.

“For that I want to thank you.” Silently, sweet shyness, rewarded with a beam in Hakuei's eyes. “I never thought that I would say this but I will miss you Hakuei.”

Everything happened in slow motion.... how Hakuei pulled Toshiya on his hand close onto him, how he took him into a tight embrace, his heavy arms resting on Toshiya's shoulders, their heads buried on each others necks. And he smelled him, for the first time Toshiya clearly realized Hakuei's smell and made sure to memorize it. Realization set in that he would soon have no more of this. And as a response, Toshiya lifted up his arms and hugged Hakuei back tightly.

In the distance, a young, dark haired Angel observed the couple engaging in their hug. It made him feel sick, his heart ached by the mere thought of it. Ni~ya turned around hasty. Anger, sadness and jealousy formed tears in his eyes and it ate him alive.... the thought of having Hakuei lost forever.

But this night, heaven would cry for many stars it has lost.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The next day was a big day.

In the evening, the Angels of Revenge would escort the protege down to earth. But before the youngsters were about to leave, another historical event took place inside the holy halls of heaven. Today the peace treaty between heaven and hell would be signed and no one of the lower-ranked Angels knew about it.

Kamijo stormed through the holy halls underneath the water surface, followed by one of the highest Seraphim of heaven, the Angel of Time. His angelic name was ‘Eth’ but everybody called him Kazuki. He walked next to Kamijo, his long robe blowing with the moves he made and so did his brown Rastah plaits. His intense eyes saw everything and from the three Seraphim, Aiji and Kai being the others, he was something like the spokesperson of them.

Lucifer and his servants were due any minute now and the higher-ranked were understandably more nervous than ever.

“And the lower-ranked know nothing about the contract and the meeting today?” Kazuki asked.

“No, we don’t wanted to raise any panic.”

“Right.”

“And what about the safety?” Aiji asked who of course followed together with Kai.

“Daisuke froze the lake hours ago.”

“Did the rest of Cherubs and Revenges arrive already ?” Kai wanted to know.

“You can be sure of that.” Kamijo answered as he stopped together with the three Seraphim in front of the main portals of heaven. The whole place was crowded by other Seraphim, Cherubim and Angels of Revenge, all waiting for the hell residents to arrive, making quite an impression. Even more impressive was when they all bowed down to them in union.

“We are ready.” Kamijo recognized with a stern glance.

They didn't have to wait long. After a short while, Sugizo, Tsukasa, Zero and Miyavi alias Uruha arrived, materializing in front of the gates. Just before leaving hell, Miyavi took Uruha's form to accompany his master to sign the contract. The disguise was perfect, no one ever noticed him.

“All the effort just for us? I feel flattered.” Sugizo greeted the army of Angels.

“Special occasions needs special care, you know.” Kamijo answered.

Lucifer's eyes wandered over all the faces in the first row. Slightly surprised about seeing the Seraphim and especially the Angel of Time. This Angel was a weapon. The only being able to manipulate and change time. Kamijo seemed to be very serious about the whole thing.

“Enter and follow me.” Kamijo made a sign and the Demons did so. They followed Metatron into the holy halls, followed by an army of Cherubim and Angels of Revenge, next to the Seraphim of course.

Meanwhile, another Angel observed the whole scenery quite suspiciously. Karyu stayed back at heaven's entrance portals, although his leader, Kazu, would have rather have him as a guard in front of the main conference hall.

“I better stay here with the Cherubs Kazu, I don't trust their pokerfaces.”

Kazu nodded quickly before he returned into the halls himself. Karyu on the other hand remained standing in between a dozen of Cherubim who guarded the portals. He as an Angel of Revenge was the only one allowed to 'act', getting kind of violent in case of emergency so he guessed that this place was right for him to be. The tension in the air was almost palpable. Several Angels whispered to each other but most of the conversations took place in their heads anyway.

It was reflex when Karyu looked over to the left side, narrowing his eyes when he saw a familiar red head of Cherub standing next to the portal too, surrounded by other Cherubim and Seraphim. Karyu honestly couldn’t care less about that jerk but it was the red heads puzzled face which got his attention. Now the dumb face even started walking about.

Karyu really wanted to ignore him but couldn’t help himself.

“Hey, Daisuke! What’s wrong?”

Surprised about who was asking, Die stopped in his walk nevertheless. “Hizumi is missing!”

Karyu made a face. He didn't know who Die was talking about. “Maybe he's late.”

“Hizumi is NEVER late.”

And with that, Die left the group and walked off into the halls. Karyu battled with himself whether to follow or not but his profession won over him. It was his job to protect all Angels of heaven, so he followed Die out of duty more than of sympathy.

The halls were enormous, with several branches going off the main tracks, guiding into all kind of directions. Anyone who got lost in here would be hard to find.

“When was the last time you saw him?” Karyu asked.

“About half an hour ago.” Their conversation was pure business, cold and forced. And neither one of them could believe their luck to be stuck together. They really didn’t like each other at all.

 

Meanwhile in front of the boarders in between all the Angels, two invisible Angels observed the whole ongoing with their high sensitive senses, listening into other Angel's heads, searching the invisible spheres for any possible signs. They were on high alert ever since the Demons entered heaven.

^There are three Angels missing.^ Reita communicated with Shinya mental and the younger Angel immediately knew who it was.

^Oh my God! It’s Die… and Karyu.^ He didn’t like the thought of the two of them missed together. Most likely it meant no good.

^They’re looking for somebody…^ Reita went on.

Shinya felt it too. ^Hizumi is missing.^

The two Demon Angels looked at each other before they dissolved into thin air, following the two missed Angels deep into the holy halls.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The highest responsible of heaven and hell gathered in the largest conference hall for a historical meeting. Seated on a long table were Kamijo, Ruki and Kyo as volunteer on one side, on the other side Sugizo, Tsukasa, Zero and Uruha, who was in fact Miyavi in disguise.

Behind the Angels at the back of the room, several Seraphim and Angels of Revenge gathered out of security reasons. The meeting officially started and Seraphim Kazuki stepped forward and placed a golden can on the table, the legendary Can of Time. He tipped onto the top of it and it opened. An invisible force streamed through Kazuki's body and his eyes shone lilac when he opened them again. From this moment on, everything that happened and was said would be recorded into it.

Now it was Ruki’s turn. As Kindel Angel he was responsible for everything written down, so he stretched out his arm and with a wave two empty sheets of paper appeared. He pointed at Sugizo and at Kamijo which caused the sheets of paper to glide over to each one of them.

Sugizo lifted up the sheet of paper but nothing was written onto it. He looked back at Ruki in disbelieve. “It’s empty, what kind of contract is that?”

“Only our names will be written onto it. All conditions will be caught in the Can of Time.” Sugizo looked over to Kazuki who was perfectly able to make his position clear in staring back at him sternly.

“And yes,” Ruki added, “it’s absolutely safe and no changes possible afterwards.”

Sugizo nodded. “You go first.” He looked at Kamijo.

“In the name of God: If the teleporter gets reborn in heaven, we vow to eliminate it to guarantee peace between heaven and hell. I, Metatron, guarantee with my name.” Kamijo made a move over the paper and his name appeared. He handed it over to Kyo who sat right next to him.

“As the volunteer of heaven, I guarantee to sacrifice my life if the promise gets broken.” And Kyo's name appeared with the wave of his hand. He handed the contract to Ruki who kept it in his hand. “Hells turn.” Ruki looked over to Sugizo who spoke up.

“In the name of the devil, hell guarantees to destroy the teleporter if it gets reborn in hell.” A move with his hand and Sugizo's name stood on the paper. He handed it over to ‘Uruha’.

“As the volunteer of hell, I guarantee to sacrifice my life if the promise gets broken.”And the name Uruha stood on the paper. Ruki stretched out his hand and the paper floated back to him.

“The peace treaty between hell and heaven is completed. To a peaceful future.” The papers floated over to Kazuki's Can of Time and they disappeared into it.

When Kazuki closed his eyes and opened them again, the lilac beam had vanished. Sugizo tuned his attention back at Kamijo and Ruki. “Anything else to discuss about since we’re here?”

Kamijo cleared his throat. “I don’t want to provoke anything but we're asking your Demons to leave the young protege on earth alone. We know that Demons wander on earth as well and considering the circumstances we'd appreciate a peaceful living in all spheres.”

A playful smirk from Sugizo and Kamijo had an inkling that no matter how Lucifer answered, he would probably break all the rules anyway. “Like I'm interested in teasing newborn Angels.”

Tsukasa who observed the whole gathering next to Sugizo, observed the higher-sphered Angels interested. The three important Seraphim were of course present, next to them the Leader of the Angels of Revenge, Kazu and several other Cherubim. Miyavi in Uruha-disguise behaved uncommonly calm next to Tsukasa but it was Zero who caught his attention.

His demonic friend was physically present but mentally he was far away, traveling heavenly spheres to look for something. No Angel knew about Zero's ability to do so and usually he did that without other beings noticing it but there was a twitch of his mouth which caused Tsukasa attention. Something happened with his ghost outside his body and they better leave NOW before anybody noticed it too.

Thankfully, Sugizo stood up and 'Uruha' , Tsukasa and Zero followed, his physics working normal nevertheless. They walked back to the borders of heaven and Zero better returned before they leave.


Meanwhile somewhere deep inside the holy halls, Karyu and Die turned around in shock after they heard a body slammed hard against a wall. The two of them started running into the direction where the noise came from.

But they weren't the only ones who found out about something going terribly wrong. The Demon Angels arrived shortly before Die and Karyu even noticed it. And the sight they got was shocking. Hizumi wandered the empty side branch in some kind of trauma with no awareness of it. He didn't react to the Demon Angel's voices or touches.... he seemed completely obsessed with something or better said 'someone'.

^Reita! We have to help him!^ Shinya sounded desperate in Reita's head. Hizumi, whose body was pressed against the cold stone wall, shook in painful spasms, his eyes bleeding from the obsession.

^I’m going into him! And you try to hold his angelic body!^ Reita ordered. Although the Demon Angels were invisible to the other Angels, Reita even disappeared in front of Shinya and went inside Hizumi's body. Shinya did as he'd been told and held onto Hizumi's arms. Making contact with the obsessed body, the young Angel noticed that the living spirit of Hizumi's soul was threatened to completely die away. Out of fear and compassion, Shinya sent a thought out to him. ‘We will save you, Hizumi.’

Adding to the pressure, Shinya sensed that Karyu and Die were on their way. Although they couldn't see the Demon Angels, interfering into their exorcism was a matter of life and death.

 

With a sudden stroke of energy, Shinya was thrown against the other side of the stone alley and hit the wall hard with his back. He slumped down to the ground when next to him another being started to materialize. It was the Demon who possessed Hizumi.... Zero.

Hizumi sank lifeless down to the ground.

With fury in his eyes, Reita stomped over to the still weakened Zero and literally held the bastard around his psychical neck.

^You deserve eternal death for harming a Cherub.^

Reita held his hand over Zero’s face but the Demon only snickered. ^I’ve found you, the Demon Angels.^

Shinya was as shocked as Reita was. Only now they realized that it was a trap.

^Goodbye, Demon Angels.^ Zero smiled but before Reita was able to dissolve his evil spirit, Zero deformed himself into dust and glided out of Reita’s hands.

^Catch him Shinya!^

But it was too late. Zero had returned into his physical body and arrived just in time to leave heaven.

Back in the branch alley, two shocked Demon Angels stood motionless on their spots, looking at each other in disbelieve. ^We have to report to Kamijo immediately.^ Reita said but Shinya had his attention at the unconscious Hizumi. He already wanted to storm over to him when Karyu and Die finally arrived.

The Demon Angels retreated and left the heavily wounded Angel to his friends. They had no choice.

Karyu was the first one who acted out of routine while Die stood still in shock, seeing his friend lay there closer to dead than life. Karyu knelt down next to Hizumi and touched his head, feeling his dying energy. Quickly, he picked up the lifeless body from the ground and when he held Hizumi firmly in his arms, Karyu realized that a threatening wound was on Hizumi's back too. At the spot where his wings usually were.... This was so not good, not good at all.

Karyu started to walk, half run the way back of the alley. Awaking from his state, Die followed him.

“What happened to him?!” Die didn't know what shocked him most: The closed, bleeding eyes or the fading energy.

“It took the light out of his eyes.”

“Dear God! Who did?!”

“Mind-readers from hell. We know them. Revenges killed dozens of them during the last world war.”

Die hated Karyu's clinical way of talking. “For goodness sake! He's my goddamn best friend!”

“And I’ll bring him to Kai to get healed! You better report what happened to Kamijo.”

“But why, I-!”

“Listen dumb-head, this is what I'm trained for and you better do what you can right?!”

Die would have loved to punch him right into his stupid face but knew better. “All right, hurry up!” And Die walked into the other direction while Karyu stormed back into another part of the holy halls.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~




The news Kamijo received from his secret Demon Angels were shocking, next to unbelievably devastating. Not only was it a threat to their just new made peace treaty, the Demon Angel's secret was discovered by a Demon too. Sugizo's servant to be exact. He should have known that Sugizo plotted against heaven again. But for what purpose he wanted to know about the Demon Angels? Kamijo had no idea. Sure, Lucifer invented them together with Kamijo many decades ago but why spying for them now?

Die literally bumped into Kamijo's hall after the Demon Angels vanished and told him the same story. It was a relieve to hear that Karyu was on his way to Kai. He was the mightiest healing Angel in heaven next to a few other very gifted Angels.

Meanwhile down the long corridor of the holy halls, Kazu froze when Karyu stormed passed him with fainted Hizumi in his arms.

“Karyu!! What happened?!”

“Mind-reader!” Karyu added while he kicked a large door open and yelled into it.

“KAI! WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!” A bundle of shocked Archangels looked back at Karyu who stormed to the next hall to repeat the procedure.

“Dear God, was that Cherub Hizumi?!” Hide asked Kyo and Mana looked worried. Kami was nowhere to be seen. He vanished earlier after the meeting was over.

What no one knew was that Kami was 'engaged' elsewhere in an urgent, private kind of business. It was him who claimed Kai for utterly different reasons at this very moment. Too scarce were the moments they shared together, too precious for a couple who freshly discovered each other.

And Kai recalled the first day he ever saw Kami, the Archangel of water. Always moody and with a stern glance but he was fascinated of him from the first moment on. His words often brute and honest but in his heart warm and loving. Kai saw right through the facade and always knew how to 'handle' him. Kami was hot-headed and Kai the lovingly calm spot in his life. Already now they needed each other more than they would have ever imagined. And although Kai belonged to a much higher Angel class, he would never ever mention the fact. They felt equal on another level.

The over-length hair of Kami glided over Kai's shoulders when the much taller Angel bent down to him. It should be forbidden to posses such a pair of intriguing eyes. Kai felt how he lost control of his body, gliding into those arms who desperately waited to hold the fragile Angel.

“Too long I’ve been waiting for you…” Kami's hot voice against his ear, his lips gliding down Kai's cheek who closed his eyes hazily, stammering excuses which even sounded stupid to him.

“Now is not the time for-”

Kami did him the favor and slowly covered Kai's mouth with his lips. The smaller Angel gasped surprised by the intimate contact, the taste of him, the sensation. His head and rational thinking lost in sweet feelings, his hands reaching up to Kami's masculine face automatically, pulling him in even closer. Their kiss deepening, becoming more demanding, Kami secured the fragile Angel with his arms at his back, pulling him close to his form, wanting to devour him.

It was their first kiss.


And the world seemed to turn just around them. This moment belonged only to them. Their angelic bodies and souls uniting, feeling each other....

When the door to their deserted hall was harshly pushed open and a loud voice yelled into it.

“KAI? ARE YOU THERE? WE DESPERATELY NEED YOUR HELP!!!”

The kiss abruptly came to an end behind the curtain where they were hiding. Kami looked back at Kai, pleading with his eyes not to answer the call but Kai couldn't help it. He wanted to step forward from behind the curtain, when Kami pulled him back at his wrist, their faces close to each other, their lips only inches away.... A quick, torturous kiss from Kai before he elegantly pulled away and walked from behind the curtain back into the room.

And he started running when he saw the harmed Angel in Karyu's arms.

“It was a mind reader.” Karyu said, even his face showing signs of worry.

“I see.” Kai answered with a trembling voice. “Lay him down! Right here! There's no time left!”

Karyu did so and moved back to give Kai enough space. The Angel of Revenge jumped when he suddenly found Archangel Kami standing next to him. Where he suddenly came from, Karyu had no idea. Kazu greeted him too.

Kai laid his right hand onto Hizumi’s chest, the left one over his harmed eyes. He closed his eyes and murmured phrases to himself, trying to unite his spirit with the one from Hizumi, exchanging living energy with him but it was no use. Kai winced when he saw the last pictures out of Hizumi’s memory. It was brutal and painful.

You, O Lord, are mighty forever!” He said out loud the holy words. “Athah Gibor Le-olam Adonai.”

But Hizumi didn’t react. Kai started to panic, he couldn't lose him! Not like this! He repeated the words but still nothing happened. Kai moved over Hizumi’s body, one knee on each side of him and opened his six wings. He encircled the harmed body with his wings, his hands resting on Hizumi's chest. That was when he felt where Hizumi had been poisoned.

“The Demon went straight to the life source of his wings! I need another wing healer! NOW!!”

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 18

 

Carried back into old dimensions

 

 

Hizumi was closer to eternal death than anything else. Kai desperately tried to save his life but the damage was just too much for him to cure alone. From wringing in pain, Hizumi changed to resting still on the ground which was no good sign at all. Even Karyu seemed concerned and didn't leave them alone.

It was Kami who suddenly stormed out of the hall, promising that he would be back soon.

Toshiya was totally taken aback when Archangel Kami stood in front of his door. Without any explanation, he pulled the surprised Angel outside the castle, flying back together with him to the holy halls. Hakuei could only witness his protege being kidnapped, all shouts and questions remained unanswered.

“Kami-sama! What's the matter?!” Toshiya tried to catch his breath when Kami pulled him inside a large conference hall. Toshiya has never been inside the holy halls before but there was no time to admire the beautiful splendor.

His question was bitterly answered when Kami shoved him past the present Angels... and he looked into Hizumi's chalk white face on the ground. Karyu stepped aside and so did the rest of the Archangels who had followed into the room earlier.

“He's dying!” Kai panicked. Without an explanation, Toshiya immediately saw the damage on Hizumi's astral body, the poisoned aura. A gift only wing-healers possessed.

“We have to turn him around!” Toshiya said and after Karyu helped them too, both healers positioned their hands over Hizumi's back. Toshiya felt how his vision blacked out, his spiritual energy merging with Kai's incredibly strong energy. Together they concentrated on Hizumi's harmed wing-spot and then they saw it: The poison circling through Hizumi's life-stream. They pulled it out with white healing energy and Toshiya felt how the taste in his mouth became bitter. He opened his eyes and immediately vomited black slime onto the floor. The faces around him became blurry and eventually he fainted.

The Archangels gasped but it was Kami who caught Toshiya and held him. At the same time he looked at his beloved who looked back at him. Exhausted but amazed about what just happened.

“Is he alive?” Hide asked from behind and Kai nodded.

"You were both great.” Kami said with a smile in his voice. Maybe it was his tone or the amorous gaze which gave him away to another present person inside the room... Kyo. And it felt like a punch into his guts. Surprised about the discovery he just made and the air becoming impossible to breathe, Kyo left the room without another excuse to the others surprise.

Slowly, Hizumi showed signs of life, his limbs twitching and his head rolling weakly aside but he couldn't open his eyes yet.

“He needs to rest. Somebody should carry him back to his private quarters.” Kai looked up at Karyu.

“Me?” This request was far off his duties but the angry gazes he earned because of the selfish question were convincing enough. Karyu lowered down and picked up Hizumi with ease. Nevertheless, he held him carefully in his arms, afraid that he might hurt the fragile bundle. With a nod he left the hall.

And Hizumi was fragile, so light and breakable. Karyu wondered how Hizumi, a Cherubim, became guard at the boarders in the first place. Now and then he twitched in his restless sleep, his harmed body trying to regain strength but it would take some time to completely recover. Karyu knew that an attack from a mind-reader could end deadly very quickly. Hizumi was most lucky but his bleeding eyes earlier were also a point of concern.... some Angels never regained eyesight again.

He concentrated on where Hizumi lived and the path showed clearly in front of his inner eye. Fact was that they never had business with each other before.

Another moan escaped Hizumi's mouth and Karyu tried to console him.

“I will bring you home.”

No answer but the twitches stopped after a short while.

Hizumi's place was the complete opposite of his appearance and status. It was a total mess, not tidied up and stuffed with personal belongings... obviously he lived alone. Karyu had trouble to make his way to Hizumi's bed but after he managed, he lay the harmed Angel into it and covered him with a blanket, just in case. Without a second glance, Karyu turned around but he stopped in his tracks when he heard Hizumi clearing his throat.

“I've heard your voice before....”

“Possible.”

“Please.... I need to speak with Die, it’s important. Could you tell him?”

Karyu rolled his eyes although Hizumi couldn’t see it. Contact with that dumb-head was the least he needed now. “All right.” He said nevertheless and without another word, he left the place. A silent thank you echoed through the room before he closed the door.

Back inside the holy halls, Karyu stumbled over an obviously panicked Guardian Angel. Somehow he had an inkling whom this Angel was looking for.

“You're responsible of Toshiya?” Must be his welfare-day today.

“YES!”

“Don't panic man, your Babe is safe with the Archangels-”Before Karyu ended his sentence, Hakuei was off with a nod. Karyu realized that his day started strangely and was yet not over. Why was it him who had to guide the protege down to earth in the evening?

Meanwhile, Kai observed the peaceful resting Angel in Kami's arms. He couldn't help but to wonder about such a young but powerful Angel.

“Do you know where he belongs to?”

“Yeah, he's Shinya's son.”

Kai nodded knowingly when the door to the Archangel's room burst open and an obviously very stressed Hakuei looked back at them in sudden relief.

“Perfect timing Hakuei.” Kami greeted.

“Is he all right?!” He stormed over to them and held onto Toshiya's arm.

“He's fine, just a little exhausted. Together with Kai he saved an Angels life. You can be so proud of him.”

“I am.” His face clearly showed how happy he was.

“I wanted to bring him back to you into the castle but in a few hours the protege will return to earth anyway. Would you rather stay here with him?”

“I think so, yes.”

Kami placed Toshiya onto a couch inside their conference room and together with Kai, he left the two Angels alone.

Toshiya was deeply sunken into a beautiful dream. He thought that he saw Shinya's face earlier with happy tears, caring over his head, assuring that he loved him and was proud of him. But he really regained consciousness when he felt a well-known touch on his face. Slowly he opened his eyes and looked into Hakuei's sorrowful gaze.

“Hakuei?”

He had no time to explain himself when his Guardian Angel lowered down for a tight embrace, stammering and ridiculously often repeating how worried he was but at the same time how proud. It warmed Toshiya's heart.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Before Karyu could finally take his day off, he promised Hizumi to report something to Die. He stormed through the halls in search of the annoying, lovesick Cherub and sarcastically cheered when he found him nearby Metatron's hall.

“Hey, I need to talk to you.” Karyu said, not trying to hide the annoyed undertone.

“About what?”

“I promised Hizumi to tell you that he wants to talk to you. ASAP.”

“Did he tell you why?”

“It's not my business.”

“You're right… I hate to admit it but you helped a lot today.”

“Won’t happen again.”

Die narrowed his eyes but left the Angel of Revenge with a nod anyway.

When Die arrived at Hizumi's, he was shocked about how his good old friend looked like. They all knew that the attack was hard but Hizumi hardly having recovered after it was painfully obvious. His body in a weak state, his eyes half closed and by the moves he did still blind.

“Hizumi, how are you?” Die seated next to his bed, not as surprised about the mess like Karyu was earlier because he knew Hizumi longer than anyone else.

“Better now but still feeling weak though. I hate this feeling.”

“And your eyes?”

Hizumi not saying a word was answer enough. He knew himself that this attack nearly cost his life. “Thank you Die, for all your help.”

“It wasn't just me. Many Angels were involved. Seraphim Kai and Toshiya finally healed you.”

“Toshiya too? Incredible....”

“But.... you wanted to talk to me?” Die got to the point.

Hizumi nodded and thought about how to tell Die gently. And he decided that the best way was to tell him bluntly. “I’ve heard him Die.”

Like awakened from trance, Die moved forward from his leaning position and looked at his friend in disbelieve. “What are you talking about Hizumi?”

“I mean… I heard his voice. I heard Shinya talking in my head while this happened to me.”

Shock mixed with disbelieve. “What? Are you sure? And when exactly? Did you see him?!”

“When I was possessed by this thing, I felt how someone helped. It was then when I heard a voice which sounded like Shinya.”

“And what did he say?!”

We will save you. That's all and then I can’t remember a thing.”

Die shook his head. It was frustrating. All this time he hoped for a sign but if Shinya was really involved in such a dangerous matter, this meant no good. If it really was Shinya after all.

“Thank you my friend.” Die touched Hizumi's arm sympathetically.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was nearly time to say good bye and by the hour Toshiya realized how nervous Hakuei got. He stuttered more often which was rare and his moves became slightly fidget. Hakuei left earlier to fetch a book from the Akasha-library. It was necessary otherwise he would have never left Toshiya alone, not after what happened earlier this day.

“I wanted to spend so much more time with you but time goes by so fast.”

“I know... when will we see each other again?”

“After your task on earth is finished. Means meeting and getting to know your own protege.”

“And when will that be?”

“No one can tell. Some return faster than the others. But I will watch you from above until you return to heaven again.”

“That's a relief.” In theory. But his heart started to feel heavy by the mere thought of leaving. In quite a short amount of time he so got used to Hakuei and realized that he completely trusted him. But he wanted to be strong for him, show him that he could manage his life on earth alone. That all the effort and hard work of Hakuei was not for nothing.

“What about the book you got earlier...” Toshiya pointed at it, lying on Hakuei's lap.

“It's the Akasha-chronicle of your new protege.”

Tension mixed with a little curiosity. “Can we read it?”

“Only certain parts of it....” Hakuei opened the book and stopped at the clearly written pages. “Are you ready?” Toshiya was literally glued to Hakuei's lips.

“You’ll go to 21st century Japan…”

Toshiya had no opinion nor valuation about it.

“It says that you’ll have a lot to do. Your protégé is everything else than boring…”

“Is that good or bad?”

“Contains.”

“Is it a female or male?”

“It’s a male.” Hakuei pointed at the name on the page.

“I’ve never heard that name before.”

Hakuei looked back at him and closed the book. “Toshiya, listen very carefully now: Your first task will be to find your protégé in this town and you will have to use your instincts for it. You will know it's him when you see him because from this moment on an invisible bound will be formed between the two of you. It’s very weak at the beginning but you have to work on that bound to grow.”

“But-!” Something very embarrassing almost left his mouth. He wondered what would happen to his and Hakuei's bound but kept shut about it.

“You can decide whether you want to be visible or invisible to him. Either way you can work with your protege. Each state has it's pros and cons.... and the other task will be to get your wings on earth.”

“And how to do that?”

“Your wings will come to you through a special moment. Wait for it. It'll happen automatically.” Why couldn't he just have guessed?

“You are a mighty Angel Toshiya. Both lovely and strong. I bet not half of the protege in heaven reach up to your level. And now, don’t be sad and look forward to the 21st century. Believe me, there’ll be fun as well.”

“It's just....,” Toshiya paused, “You know, I have no good memories left from earth.”

“I know and believe me that your pain is mine too. On the other hand, experience is what made us the way we are. We have to turn weaknesses and pain into strength, there's no other way.”

“You say it so easily...”

Hakuei smiled and stretched out his hand, Toshiya took it.

“It's not easy for either one of us.” And Hakuei guided him outside the hall to the borders where several hundreds of Guardian Angel and protege waited to fulfill their tasks.

The most important high-ranked Angels gathered in front of the borders to say their good byes to the young Angels and maybe one or two soothing words for the several long faces among them. Some were glad to return to earth but a few of them really suffered to be separated from their beloved Guardian. Toshiya found himself in the middle of this scale, Ryutaro almost threw a tantrum by the mere thought of it.

Aoi could hardly walk properly with Ryutaro hanging on him, his face swollen from crying, his body in weak state and shivering. Now and then Aoi had to stop to console his young beloved, only to find him pressing his sad face against his chest again and crying about their fate. Seeing his protege this way made Aoi sad as well and even harder to act composed. It took a lot of sweet words, hugs and kisses to prepare Ryutaro to let go of him.

Meanwhile another pair of Angels watched the whole ongoing from another sphere. The Demon Angels gathered as well but more out of personal interest. Since the day began, Shinya was not himself and confused too. Reita had to listen to his sorrow the whole day over.

'My baby is going into this cruel wide world and I can’t be with him…'

Reita, who has never been emotionally attached to any sort of living being, tried to understand. 'You know he’ll be fine. Especially him, having an old experienced Guardian and a DA as mother.'

'Hope you're right.'

'You'll see. He will return grown.'

With a smirk on his face, Die walked towards Hakuei and Toshiya to say his good byes.

“Die!” Toshiya beamed but was sad to discover that Shinya still seemed to not have shown up. Die noticed the change of moods and explained.

“I'm sorry Shinya's still absent. But he would have wanted me to say his good bye's to you.”

“Thank you Die, it means a lot to me.”

Die took Toshiya into his arms and hugged the fragile Angel.”You know that Shinya loves you very much, we love you very much. Be safe Toshiya and we look forward to our reunion.”

“Thank you Die.”

The Cherub tousled through Toshiya's hair and nodded at the two of them before he left again. When he made his way back to the portals, Die felt how the suppressed sadness crept up inside of him again. He would have never thought that Shinya even missed out on this special occasion. Next to the feeling of loss he even felt a little disappointed. His Shinya would have never missed such an occasion. But something in his heart told him that there must be a good reason for all of this and Die was determined to find out, no matter how.

So it was time for the two Angels to say their good byes. Many protege already left heaven, guided down to earth by Angels of Revenge to keep them safe. Soon it was Toshiya's turn.

“I hate to say good bye.” Toshiya's voice getting thin of agitation.

“This is not good bye, more like a see you soon.”

“Yes, we will keep it at that.”

Hakuei who held onto both of Toshiya's hands had trouble to let him go and everything played like in a movie when he did so nevertheless. Toshiya nodded at him, ready to go but that was no proper good bye.

“Toshiya!”

Surprised, the young Angel turned around and Hakuei pulled him into a tight embrace. The last time he breathed in the scent of Toshiya's hair and rested a while longer on his shoulder when Toshiya hugged him back. Most of the protege were already gone but Hakuei didn't let go of him yet. When he moved back, he kissed Toshiya onto his cheek and wished him well. Although they were used to hugging, this reaction came like a surprise to Toshiya. Shyly, he whispered a 'see you soon' and vanished behind the portal doors of heaven and was gone.

Hakuei hung his head low and remained standing in front of the boarders just a little longer. Confused about everything and his acting, he finally returned to the castle alone. His actions this day didn't remain unseen. A worried mother observed the two Angels earlier and started to wonder too.

This night many Angels would cry themselves into sleep.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After the portals were closed, Toshiya found himself among Angels of Revenge and Ruki. The Kindel-Angel was responsible to send Angels down to earth and Toshiya realized that Ryutaro was long gone. He didn't even have the chance to say good bye to him.

“Toshiya, you’ll be guarded down to earth by Karyu.” Ruki addressed him. Toshiya was surprised and couldn’t hide it. Why Karyu? Somehow he never felt comfortable around him. He was tall, intimidating and unfriendly. The Angel of Revenge came towards him and Toshiya realized how tall the Angel really was. The young protege must have looked like a scared rabbit as Karyu said to him.

“Don’t be afraid. I’ll escort you down save.”

His words weren't really soothing either. Karyu motioned Toshiya to stand next to him. After he did that, Karyu drew a circle around them with a long spear and said something in a strange language. From one moment to the other they were gone.

They traveled as fast as time and Toshiya found himself floating together with Karyu over a broad night skyline, illuminated by thousands of lights. It was breathtaking.

“Here we are in 21st century Japan.”

They landed on top of a huge building and the wind played with their long hair and Karyu's long cloak. The sound of fabric tousling in the wind was the only noise between them and yet it felt so alive. A new, strange energy seemed to surround them and it wasn't a unpleasant one.

Karyu looked around, concentrated on something before he said: “It’s time for me to leave. There are no Demons or threatening Energies around here. You should be safe.”

The Angel of Revenge turned around and walked over to the edge of the high building. He was about to jump but turned around one last time.

“I want to apologize for my behavior the other day. I didn't know it better then.”

Toshiya didn't get it. “What day?”

“Don't make me repeat it... you know, that day in the meeting hall when somebody shouted something rude down to you and you ran off...”

Toshiya recalled that day inside the meeting hall, where he had to introduce himself to the audience but was embarrassed and ran off.

“So it was you.”

“It was very stupid, I'm sorry about that.”

Somehow it came like a relief. An apology could really mean a lot. Toshiya nodded at Karyu and the Angel really jumped down the building. Shocked, he ran to the edge but moved back when a stroke of heavy wind sent him backwards and Karyu flew into the distance with wide extending wings, the long spear glinting under the moon light.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After the last Angels of Revenge had returned and the boarders were completely shut again, Die called it a day and left his working place. He wanted to return to the horrible place were the last demonic incident took place, where Hizumi was mentally attacked and almost killed. He recalled Hizumi telling him that he heard Shinya's voice in his head on this very moment and his feeling tell him to go back there once more.

Never on earth would have Shinya missed such an important occasion like today. And Kamijo's excuse that Shinya was sealed out of security reasons to a higher sphere was totally unbelievable.

The last time they saw each other they were arguing. How many times did Die wish for them to have parted peacefully. Shinya was mad because Die refused telling him about the rumors in heaven… meanwhile all higher-ranked Angels knew about the rumors, ' the cross', an teleporter being reborn somewhere at anytime and at this time Shinya would have known it anyway... what a senseless argument it was.

In the same branch way where the horrible incident took place, two invisible Demon Angels made their rounds to check for possible intruders. Luckily nothing happened when the portals were opened for the protege to leave today but precautions were better than nothing.

Shinya stopped in his tracks and Reita did too when his friend stopped following. The younger Angel felt that someone came closer and the closer he got the more Shinya recognized who it was. Why did he come back to the scene of crime?

'Reita, we better go.'

Something about Die's aura seemed rather strange, his determined steps scared Shinya. His gaze told Reita that Shinya wanted to run and when Die came closer to the spot where they stood, Reita wanted to pull the young Angel into another side branch..... but it was too late.

Die grabbed into empty space and got Shinya's arm. The young Angel screamed in shock, Reita wanted to pull him back into another dimension but it was too late. Reita disappeared and Shinya's invisible form took shape and his cover was blown. He stumbled from the floating, physicless-form into heavenly dimension again and landed in Die's arms. Shinya was shaking in shock, still not getting what really happened. Still wearing the long, dark cloak, he hid behind his large hood and no one said a word. Only after they got used to the fact, Die slowly pulled down the hood and looked down into Shinya's eyes. His face and eyes were unreadable and he didn't let go of the firm grip he held Shinya into.

“You were there all the time. I knew it.”

Shinya's eyes started to water, although his camouflage was blown, he was so happy to be back with Die and the Cherub couldn't be mad either. He cared over Shinya's hair and pulled the young Angel onto him, holding him tight in his arms.

“You stupid Angel, why couldn't you just let me go?” Shinya sobbed against his throat.

“How could I? You are my life, don't you get it?!” And Die kissed his long missed love, once, twice, showered him with affections.

“I wanted to tell you but I couldn't.” Shinya's voice was full with guilt but Die didn't care. He had him back and that was what counted. How long did he dream of this to happen? Days, weeks…it still seemed like a dream to him and Die forgave him everything in an instant without knowing the reasons.

“And what now?” Die held onto Shinya's tear streamed face.

“I have to speak to Metatron.”

Die wasn't surprised about the answer. “No matter what happens, I’ll keep you forever now.”

Shinya so wanted to believe the words but couldn't unless he had a word with Metatron first. Something like that was never supposed to happen. Die discovered a heavenly spy and their actions would need an explanation.

“It's complicated Die, I really need to speak with him first.”

“Look at you, where have you been?”

A strange voice echoed through the corridor. Like being discovered, they both turned around and looked at where the voice came from. And they easily could have guessed.

“None of your business, Revenge.” Die snapped back. It was Karyu who miraculously returned to the scene of crime too. He came towards them.

“Just because you’re a Guard of the Boarders doesn’t mean you’re smarter, dumb-head!”

Die changed into fighting-mode within seconds. He let go off Shinya and pulled the younger Angel behind himself.

“No Die, wait! Don’t!” Shinya tried to hold his lover back.

“I’m so sick of your arrogant attitude!” Die hissed back.

“Look who’s talking! Maybe you're just too blind to see who's doing the dirty work. While you Guards are shining at the portals, we Revenges soil our hands with the real stuff. Your class only exists for the beautiful fairy tale books-”

Die punched Karyu hard into the face. The tall Angel stumbled but steadied himself with his long spear. He shook his head and collected himself before he picked up Die at his collar. Shinya started to scream and ran in between the two fighting Angels but Karyu shoved him off with ease and the fragile Angel landed on the floor. Die lost it and hit Karyu hard into the face again but the Angel of Revenge hardly twitched and silenced Die when he held his spear pointed against his throat. But Die threatened Karyu nevertheless. “Don’t you dare touching him ever again!!”

“Hah! If you only knew…”

“Karyu!!” Shinya shouted in between which gave him away in an instant. In shock, Die looked back at his beloved. What was this suppose to mean? A numb feeling of shock crawled down his spine, hoping that he was only misinterpreting things. But it was Karyu's dirty grin which made him sick.

“You maybe work in a better position up here in heaven Cherub but for the rest of your days you'll remember that it’ll always be me who had the boy first… or woman in this case.”

Die couldn't believe a single word Karyu was saying. He didn't want to believe it but the moment he said it out loud he knew that it must be true.

Karyu picked up Shinya from the ground and pulled him close onto himself for a unmistakably embrace. Shinya on the other hand tried to fight him off but Karyu was too strong. Die felt like splitting in half from anger and jealousy. He stormed towards Karyu but the Angel of Revenge made him stop when he pointed towards Die with his long spear again.

“Stop right there!” Karyu commanded him. “There there…. Can you feel the jealousy creeping up deep inside of you? Yeah, you can. And it eats you.”

“Let go Karyu!” But instead of letting go, Karyu lay his lips onto Shinya’s mouth. It was not a passionate kiss, with no feelings involved. He simply did it because he could and the answer came right away. Shinya slapped him across the face. Amused, Karyu let go off Shinya who stormed right behind Die again.

“You worthless little-“ Die hissed with a threatening glare at Karyu, more battling with himself to keep his composure and pride together.

“How funny fate can be... Just imagine, it was ME who sent OUR son back to earth today.”

Die couldn't really understand the words Karyu had just said. For a moment he thought that he misunderstood but Shinya's face and all the past things which remained unsaid, painfully started to make sense. Shinya never told Die who the real father of Toshiya was. Seemed like Karyu just did. And this truth tasted bitter.

“Just tell him Shinya or I’ll do!” Karyu shouted out. “But seeing you like that is proof enough. I guess you never knew how Toshiya was actually ‘made’-“

“Stop it! RIGHT NOW!” Die threatened him, his voice sounded thin.

“I’m sorry Die…” Shinya's voice full of guilt and pain. “I never told you because I wanted to spare you the pain.”

The lifetime before they became lovers, Die was with Shinya when he was a woman and gave birth to Toshiya but he wasn’t the father, only the doctor who adopted Toshiya later after Shinya’s sudden death in childbirth.

But Karyu wasn't just done yet. “The boy has my strength and my size. You ever wondered where Toshiya got his physical strength from? He’s totally the father's son. But he has got his mother’s lovely attitude, not mine I must confess. A true wonder how the boy developed under the circumstances he ‘came alive’….”

“Shut it Karyu! It’s enough! I never involved with you voluntarily and you know it!”

“Hah! But you enjoyed it!”

It was Die's turn to defend his lover's pride and he did. He sent Karyu down with an unbelievably hard stroke which made him loose his spear and tumbling down to the ground. Die picked up Karyu's spear and Shinya started to scream. He ran in between the two Angels and stopped Die from moving any further.

“Now stop making a fool out of yourself, for goodness sake!!”

“That dirty asshole raped you….”

“A long time ago and I got over it! I got Toshiya instead....” Shinya touched the spear carefully and finally took it out of Die's hands. Karyu, still lying on the floor observed the whole scenario silently. Shinya switched to communicate with Die mentally.

'He forced me but it is you who owns my heart. We are soulmates. I will always love you and you know that.'

Die tossed the spear aside. His gaze beaming deadly down on him, his lips not loosing a single word. He left that bastard back in the alley and Shinya followed him silently. Karyu smirked at himself, surprised about the attitude Die was able to show. He had to admit that Die scared him just for a single moment. So he got it in him after all.... it was such a kick for Karyu, his senses ran high and his self-esteem grew unhealthily.

Die didn't say a single word and neither did Shinya. After what happened for the first time in his life he was scared of Die's reaction. But it didn't come to that as when they turned around the next corner, a rather surprising Angel waited for them.

“Metatron-sama!” Shinya knelt down in an instant and so did Die in utter surprise.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The air of the night tasted sweet and humid, life, people had changed and it was visible on every corner. It felt so much easier to walk, to see, to capture and to breathe. Everything was so unbelievably fast and yet people moved so awkwardly easy through their world as if it has never been any different. This town was its own little universe... Tokyo they called it. The name itself a drug you could become addicted to. It was your decision whether to survive in it or to drown.

Toshiya was amazed and shocked at the same time about the modern mega-city. Although millions of people were living in it, the streets were more or less clean and so were its residents, speaking into strange devices, everybody living so self-centered and yet everything seemed to work nevertheless. The people were all so beautiful. More or less neatly dressed, hair and faces colored... everything was so much more colorful, even the artificial light. Life in here was busy and Toshiya better kept on going. Though he was invisible, he still tried not to walk through people directly but to bypass them, which seemed almost impossible.

He tried to work his angelic senses to find his protege. He had to life here somewhere but Toshiya underestimated the dimensions on how to find him. He thought it would be easy but not with that amount of people. Anyway, he better kept on going. He had to find this Kaoru as soon as possible. The earlier he did, the faster he could return into heaven.

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 19

 

What on earth and what the hell?

 

 



While heaven was looking into a very old prophecy, a top secret conspiracy took shape down in hell. Strings pulled by the once very mighty, fallen Angel Lucifer, also known as Sugizo. His goal was to lead hell as the representative of the Devil, as Atsushi-sama's adoptive son. But before that he had to bring Kirito, the Devil's only son, to fall. And for that he needed the reborn 'Teleporter' on his side. So at the same time he plotted against heaven AND hell.... as if he ever planed to keep any stupid contract.

The silence was interrupted when a rather disturbed Zero returned to hell from his secret mission in heaven. And the Demon was quite hurt from Reita's mental attack.

“Speak up! What happened?!” Lucifer was as impatient as ever.

“I’ve seen them.” Zero said. “Just like you said. There are two Demon Angels... they almost killed me.”

“A name! Or a face?”

“One name was Reita.”

Sugizo glided back into his velvet chair and worked on the information. He said out loud what came into his mind. “Reita… so the former Seraph has changed his profession…. I should have known.”

The former Seraphim was well known for his high senses and for being a rather strange Angel too. Through manipulating and especially suppressing his senses and feelings, his senses highly developed on a spiritual level. Kamijo knew that and he knew that Reita heard voices and had visions which the other Angels never did. Because he was a medium of God. The only existing Angel with that gift.

Even back in the old times when Sugizo was still in heaven, Reita was well known to be a sadistic Angel but mostly directed towards himself. This Angel was a mighty, silent weapon.

“Did you see the other Angel's face? Describe him!”

“I only saw long, golden-shining hair and a fragile silhouette.”

Tires started to work and after counting one and one together, Sugizo just knew whom Zero was talking about. And it all started to make perfectly sense.

Their meeting was interrupted by the sound of heavy paws coming down the red-carpet corridor. Yuana, the golden haired wolf had returned from his mission to earth. After entering Sugizo's large conference hall, he changed back into 'human' physics.

“Any news from earth Yuana?” It was matter of fact that Sugizo favored his wolf above many others. He treasured Yuana's abilities and his personality of being calm and observant, although he was not very social and preferred to work alone.

“I need to talk to you.”

“Please sit down and tell us all.”

“All right.” Yuana did as he'd been told. “This night the new protégé have been brought down to earth. It was earlier than they usually do. And every single one of them was guarded down by an Angel of Revenge.”

Lucifer narrowed his eyes. So heaven seemed to prepare for something after all.

“There security standards were never this high before.” Yuana added.

“Strange... why are lower ranked, little, innocent Angels…” Sugizo's voice trailed off while he said it out loud. “Yuana....” The werewolf stood up. “You will put together a secret army for earth and get Gackt for this job too.”

Yuana left the room with a nod and changed back into a wolf while he ran out. Sugizo motioned Tsukasa and Zero to follow him but he stopped in his tracks when someone unexpected stood at the door.... Kirito, the devil's son himself.

It was well known that he and Lucifer HATED each other, so most of the time they tried to avoid any encounters.

“My Lord.” Sugizo bent down with his upper body and so did his servants. Kirito dismissed Tsukasa and Zero with a nod of his head. The two Demons closed the door from the outside and realized that someone else waited in the corridor too. Uruha leaned bored against the wall, with his arms crossed over his slim chest. He couldn't even bother about the company because he simply didn't care for lower-ranked. Tsukasa HATED him which was a mutual agreement on both sides. They all knew that it was more looks than talent which payed to Uruha's name. Lucifer knew that and only gathered special talented Demons around him. Any of his fellows could fill in for Uruha's place easily. But Kirito kept to his long-term bodyguard.

“So I've heard you signed the peace treaty in heaven?” Kirito came to the point right away.

“I did.”

“Anything knew since then?”

“I'm afraid no-” Sugizo's words stuck in his throat when Kirito slammed him hard against the wall, holding him there against his throat with one strong grip.

“Don’t you dare ever lying to me…” Kirito hissed. “Or there will be no sphere for you to exist at all. Did I make myself clear, servant?”

Lucifer held their gaze for a moment before he turned his eyes down and nodded in defeated. It took all of his courage to do so because he was no nature to surrender, no matter in what kind of way.

Kirito let go off him. “What did the higher-ranked of heaven tell you when you last visited?”

Kirito's eyes and mind were too sharp to fool. Sugizo knew that and always acted extra careful around him, only telling him what couldn't be used against him. But now he had to feed him something to keep him distracted with something else.

“They threatened us.” Sugizo lied. “Heaven thinks that we’re preparing for a war because some lunatic, little Angels had visions about a new apocalypse.”

“WHAT? An apocalypse?! That's very odd. There are no signs for a new apocalypse.... Listen, you will not interfere into any kind of heaven-businesses before speaking to me. You understand?” It was not only an order but a threat. Lucifer bent his head as an answer and Kirito left the room after he seized the fallen Angel one last time with his penetrating gaze.

Outside the corridor, Tsukasa steadied Zero in his weak state as he threatened to faint out of exhaustion. Their actions weren't unobserved, Uruha looked away annoyed which got Tsukasa's attention. Only shortly before Kirito stormed out, Tsukasa showed him the finger with the greatest pleasure. Uruha bore an amused smile on his lips and lifted one eyebrow, before he pushed himself from the wall and followed his Master back into the higher spheres of hell.

After Tsukasa and Zero reentered their Master's room, they found Lucifer thinking very deeply to himself, his fists balled at his sides and he hardly noticed them.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Only moments after Die had Shinya back, they were momentarily separated again by Metatron-sama. Kamijo wanted to have a serious word with Shinya in private. He dismissed Die right after he discovered the two Lovers inside the corridor. He only knew about it because Reita sent him a vision shortly after the incident. Kamijo found it quite astounding but deduced that it was only possible because they were soulmates.

Die waited impatiently in front of Metatron-sama's hall, a hundred wicked thoughts running through his mind on how they could possibly be punished about whatever Die accidentally discovered. He recalled pulling Shinya out of an invisible state but he had no clue what it was or how he did that. Not to mention what Shinya was doing in this state. Die only hoped that his beloved didn't get punished because of him. It was him to blame. For everything.

Shortly after Die and Shinya were literally snatched off by Kamijo, Karyu returned to the sky castle save and soundly without arising any uproar which was a hard act for him. No matter what happened back there in the alley, he didn't want to be part of any heavenly conspiracies. Shinya was back but how and why at this place, Karyu better didn't bother himself with it.

For him it was just too much fun to aggravate that dumb Cherubim Die. Thinking about it, Karyu didn't know why he hated the Angel so much, maybe because he simply couldn't stand him and his stupid face. He was surprised though that Die really didn't seem to know that he fathered Toshiya in the first place.... maybe it was because of that? Surely a big part of it... but there was no reason although Karyu would have loved to drive the Cherubim insane. He had no feelings left for Shinya whatsoever, although the fragile Angel wasn't dislikable either.

Thinking longer about it, Karyu didn't seem to have any kind of feelings left for anything. It maybe came with his profession. For feelings he had killed too often, done too many things in his past lives. But yet he became an Angel anyway because he proved to be quite effective in defending heaven and weaker ones. And although he would never admit it, the rewarding face after saving someone was worth the trouble. Not to mention that he loved trouble.

Knowing that Die and Shinya were busy with their personal stuff and the higher-ranked with the prophecy, Karyu wondered who looked after the harmed Cherubim Hizumi. Annoyed about the realization that probably no one except of himself remembered Hizumi to be harmed, Karyu entered the strange part of the castle. Everything in this part of the castle was silent, the Angels crossing his path were less and tend to keep to themselves.

Meters away from Hizumi's door he heard noises and things breaking. Karyu started to run and entered the small apartment without a notice. But he stopped in the doorway because the mess he knew from before had grown into a big chaos. There was no place to properly walk and no item which seemed not out of place. Wondering how Hizumi could survive in all that, he made his way to the main room and found all the answers he needed. Still blinded by the heavy incident, Hizumi tried to make his way through the apartment but he failed miserably. His head was clumsily bandaged, his lost strength hardly recovered.

Hizumi looked desperate and helpless. Karyu couldn't recall ever having seen something so desperate before. And before Hizumi was able to knock over another chair, the tall Angel found himself jumping into the mess and catching Hizumi before he hit the ground or anything that covered it.

Startled by the sudden contact, Hizumi gasped. Karyu lifted him up with ease and brought him back into his bed. Silence arose and Karyu felt rather unwelcome. Hizumi turned his gaze down although he couldn't see a thing anyway.

“Why have you returned? Did anyone tell you to look after me or is it some strange quirk to watch disabled Angels?”

“None of the sort.”

Another pause which brought Karyu enough time to observe the chaos around him but Hizumi got his attention again when he said: “I know who you are. I’ve had enough time to think about it.”

It was totally Karyu not to respond to anything if he didn't feel like it. Instead he asked: “Did someone else visit the past few days?” Hizumi's silence was answer enough. He jolted again when he felt Karyu touching the bandage around his head.

“Don't be scared, just let me see your eyes.”

“Please don't.”

Carefully, Karyu lifted the bandage from Hizumi's eyes and caught the slender fingers with a tight grip when Hizumi wanted to prevent him from doing so. When Karyu continued nevertheless, Hizumi had his eyes closed in reflex.

“It’s strange that you can’t see a thing…” He pulled the whole bandage off Hizumi's head, the black, silky strands of hair gliding down his handsome face. Carefully, Karyu touched Hizumi's chin and he slightly turned his head into direction of the sunlight.

“Try to open your eyes.”

The sun hurt but slowly he managed to open them into thin slits. Hizumi only saw vague colors and silhouettes, not to mention the pain. His eyes were white by nature but not seeing any iris made it difficult for Karyu to judge on the matter. Karyu didn't say a word and let go off Hizumi's face again. He stood up from the bed and walked to the entrance door.

“I will be back.”

And he kept his promise. A short time afterwards he returned with a noble visitor.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Kami caught Kyo in the corridor by chance. He must have seen Kami and Kai leaving his room together which was quite unpleasant for all of them. Kami always knew that Kyo had a thing for Kai. And because it was rather unlikely for Kyo to like anybody, the fact that Kami and Kai were together now must hurt his old friend even more. But they both couldn't help it. They loved each other very much. As for Kai, he never knew that Kyo fancied him that way.

“Kyo, wait….” Kami walked behind Kyo but the Archangel didn’t react.

“Please wait, listen…” Kami jogged to his side and made him stop. “Listen to me! I’m sorry, I know I should have told you, especially you.”

Kyo wore no expression on his face, his tone was as cold as ice. “Forget about it.”

“Please understand, it just happened... between the two of us.”

“I know so don't bother.”

“If there is anything-”

“Kami, just don't.”

The conversation was over and Kyo left Kami behind without another remark.

 

At the same time Kai was busy. Karyu called him earlier for an emergency and Kai knew immediately whom this was all about when he saw Karyu standing at his door.

“He’s right there.” Karyu had brought Kai back with him to Hizumi's place.

“Hello there.” Kai was just as friendly as ever and Hizumi, still sleepy from his nap, was surprised about the familiar voice in his little apartment. Though he never expected Seraphim Kai to visit him personally. He made moves to stand up but Kai told him to rest and he settled down next to Hizumi's head.

“Slowly open your eyes Hizumi.”

Slowly and with great effort he managed to open his swollen, white eyes. Karyu didn't like the look on Kai's face but he observed the two of them in silence.

“What do you see?” Kai asked.

Hizumi spoke very silently. “Nothing, just blurry colors, hardly shapes…”

Karyu still didn't like the look on Kai's face.

“I will transmit healing energy into your eyes. Just lay back and relax.”

Hizumi did as he had been told while Kai lay one hand over Hizumi's eyes. Warm energy formed over his head while Kai murmured phrases in an ancient language to himself. The harmed Angel calmed down by the energy and relaxed, close to fall asleep again.

After Kai was done and Hizumi asleep, he moved towards the door and said his good bye's to Karyu. He whispered to the Angel of Revenge.

“I will visit again tomorrow. Just make sure that he keeps his eyes closed.”

Karyu nodded, wondering how he became in charge of Hizumi in the first place.

“Thank you.”

And with a nod Kai left the place. Karyu exhaled deeply and touched his head. In reflex he turned around to check if everything was alright before he had to leave for work as well. Karyu opened the door when a calm voice asked.

“You're leaving again?”

“Have to work.” Came the short answer.

“I see.... thank you Karyu.”

The Angel murmured in response and left Hizumi's place.

Karyu seriously wondered how it came to all this. The attack in heaven, that dumb best friend of Hizumi, Cherub Die and his problems which finally lead Karyu to be in charge of Hizumi.... and simply because he couldn't help it. No one else seemed to care for Hizumi and he couldn't possibly leave him alone to his misery. Helplessly and hurt…. those eyes.... yes, his eyes were hurt pretty badly. Possibly he won't see a thing ever again but Karyu kept his mouth shut about his presumption. What Hizumi needed now was a miracle next to Kai's help.

Karyu's long day after work was finally over when he found himself walking into a direction he didn't expect himself to. Well maybe he was a 'little' concerned about the fragile, helpless and badly hurt Cherub-Angel. It felt strange how familiar the messy apartment became to him, how an exception became a habit. With ease Karyu tiptoed his way over to the sleeping form on the bed, observing the soundlessly sleeping Angel. He knelt down next to Hizumi's head and took a look at the closed eyes... just in case. No blood tears which was a good sign.

The warm sun which came in from the apartment's window and the peaceful silence were too tempting. Karyu rested with his arms on Hizumi's bed while his legs remained sitting on the floor, observing.... and getting sleepy too. His head rolled aside soon and Karyu fell asleep on his arms next to Hizumi's head on the mattress.

 

The chirping birds and a tender feeling of warm hands on his head woke Karyu the next morning. His angelic body cramped by the uncomfortable position he must have slept in the whole night. Realization set in and he opened his eyes, moving away from the touch on his head. He looked into Hizumi's startled face.

Realization set in and Karyu moved up into a standing position immediately, feeling kind of awkward by the intimate moment he had been caught in. Hizumi smiled to himself but his eyes were still closed though.

The silence grew palpable, no one dared to break the moment until Hizumi finally did.

“It's nice not being alone.”

Karyu left it uncommented. “How are your eyes?”

“The burning pain is gone but I still can't see clearly.”

“Kai will be back soon.” And with that he moved over to the apartment's door, ready to leave.

“Where are you going?” Hizumi asked and Karyu wondered if there was a tone of disappointment swinging with it.

“Work.” He answered simply.

It was Hizumi's face, bearing some sort of disappointment, so many unspoken things shown on his face but Karyu shouldn't care about it, or should he? The tall Angel cursed at himself... fuck it!... balled his fist before he stomped back into the apartment and before Hizumi could make out the noise he felt his chin being held up forcefully and cold lips kissing him deeply out of his numbness. Hizumi gasped from the sudden contact but held onto Karyu's face clumsily and responded to his kiss eagerly, moaning against Karyu's teasing tongue and the long needed contact, surprised about how much he wanted to feel Karyu, embarrassed about the realization of his own need.

Hizumi touched his way up Karyu's sharp face, dug his fingers into the wild hair and goosebumps arose when he felt and heart Karyu laughing huskily against Hizumi's mouth from the needy contact. He was so effortlessly sexy and Karyu knew that. That's what made him one sexy bastard.

Since it was him in charge, Karyu pulled back and left a quite dazzled and breathless Hizumi behind. Without another word he left the apartment. Satisfied, Karyu strolled to work with a pleased grin on his face. When he touched his hair absentminded, he found four little pleats inside his longer hair, the result of sleeping on an Angel's bed unattended.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

After Kamijo, Metatron-sama, found out that Die discovered Shinya's secret mission as invisible Demon Angel, he called in for a meeting immediately. Shinya was inside Kamijo's holy halls while Die had to wait in front of closed doors.

“It’s impossible… .” Kamijo said in disbelieve.

“I thought so too but it's the truth. Reita and I inspected the scenery of crime where Hizumi was possessed by the Demon earlier and from one moment to the other Die grabbed for me and pulled me back into our dimension... it happened so fast! I couldn’t do anything!”

“Do you think he knows about Reita?”

Shinya shook his head. “No, he was so fixed on me…”

“Must be the reason why he discovered you in the first place.” Kamijo said. “So I guess Reita will be doing the job alone…”

“And what about me? Us?”

It was the way Kamijo looked at Shinya. Some moments passed by before Shinya finally got what his gaze meant.

“Oh no, please… I’m too old for this.”

“Apparently not my Dear.”

“I don’t want to be reborn on earth again! I’ve got so much to do here, to look after so much here in heaven, please…”

“Then that's a clear sign for you to break with everything old and start something new.”

The younger Angel paused and looked nervously down onto his hands. He loved his life in heaven, his occupation, his life here with Die and his son Toshiya.... but being reborn to earth meant to forget about everything, although it was only momentarily until they would return to heaven again. But the mere thought of it hurt nevertheless. Forgetting about Die until they would meet again on earth.

Kamijo stood up and patted Shinya on his head. “It's for your and Die's safety. Things are getting...” Kamijo paused. “.... complicated. I have to get you out of this before everything becomes a mess. You have been discovered as Demon Angel and the prophecy these days... I can't loose you Shinya. I'm afraid that a lifetime in a human body would be safest right now.”

Shinya knew that. “And what about Die?”

“Take him with you. He still has to learn a few things.”

Shinya made a sound of relief. That would mean that they could be a couple on earth again. A comfort in between all this confusion.

“But what about my job as Angel of Life? Who will fetch the new born souls at the Tree of Life?”

“Don't be concerned. I will find a suitable Angel until you are back in heaven.” Kamijo smiled at his favorite Angel before his face became stern and he called out loud.

“CHERUB DAISUKE! ENTER!”

The door opened and Die entered the holy halls. He walked over to them when Metatron gestured him to.

“Cherub Daisuke, these days you have broken three laws of holy heaven.”

Without making a face, Die listened calmly and obediently.

“No.1: You lacked in concentration during work the past weeks because of personal affairs. No.2: You discovered a secret heaven Agent and blew his cover. No.3: You are neglecting work right now and did so many times before. How do you plead?”

Die bent down deeply. “I take full responsibility of all actions and I'm begging you to carry out any punishments on myself instead of Shinya.” He kept his face lowered. “Please, I know I'm in no position to ask for anything but please blame me for everything.”

Shinya was close to tears. Like Die he bent down as well and held onto his beloved's hand tightly.

Without emotions on his face, Kamijo spoke out loud. “I already settled your ‘punishment’ with Shinya....”

Die held his breath.

“... the two of you will be reborn on earth before the protégé are coming back to heaven.”

Die looked at Kamijo in disbelieve. Reborn again? Impossible! After such a long time in heaven back to earth again?

“But there is so much to do in heaven!” Die blurred out loud but silenced in an instant.

A smirk crept over Kamijo's lips. “The same words...” He looked at Shinya who smiled to himself.

“We will accept your decision Metatron-sama.” Shinya bent down and so did Die. They both knew that it was no real punishment after all and Die was relieved about the outcome.

“I will meet the two of you before you’re leaving heaven.” Metatron settled and the two of them nodded. “Now get out and enjoy the remaining time here in heaven.”

“We will.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

On his way to Hizumi's later that day, Karyu brought Seraphim Kai back with him again.

“Kai-sama.... you saw his eyes....”

Kai knew what Karyu was appealing to.

“I will do my best. No Demon will harm any Angel as long as I’m responsible for healing here.”

After a knock, they entered the apartment and found Hizumi trying to clean up his mess.

“Hizumi, you should have rested…” Kai scolded the sweetest way an Angel could. Hizumi just shrugged with his shoulders and came to rest on his bed. Karyu remained in the background and observed silently. And this he did in his well known sexy way in leaning against the wall with one foot, his arms folded in front of his chest and glaring.

Kai settled down next to Hizumi and lay his hands onto the hurt eyes again, telling him to relax. After a few moments of healing, Kai turned around and addressed Karyu what surprised Hizumi because he thought that Kai came alone.

“Karyu, he needs sunlight energy. Would you please escort Hizumi outside?”

Karyu nodded and pushed himself off from the wall. He came closer to them and Hizumi already made moves and stretched out his hand for a walk. But Karyu ignored it and picked him up with ease, making the younger Angel gasp in surprise.

“I can walk Karyu, really.”

“Shut up.” And Karyu carried him out of his apartment, Kai following them and saying his good byes outside the room.

Karyu carried him all the way down the castle, outside into the garden but Hizumi felt uncomfortable and stiffened in Karyu's tight grip. Their first encounter after that kiss... and although Hizumi shouldn't care, the scent of Karyu was a well known fact he started to grow addicted to.

“You know.... you don't have to spend your time with me if you don't want to.”

Karyu ignored what Hizumi said and asked instead. “Can you walk?”

“Hm.” Hizumi was confused about Karyu's behavior. That Angel was so hard to judge and somehow he felt like being a burden to him.

Karyu settled him onto the ground and linked arms with him.

“I’ll guide you.”

“Thank you.”

The warmth of the sun on his face, the wind playing with his hair and the smell of nature were so great that it filled up Hizumi's heart. He felt at ease immediately and his mind cooled down a little bit too. Slowly he tried to open his eyes and happily he realized that the burning was gone but he still only saw blurred features.

“How are you?”

“Feeling better, the burning in my eyes is gone but-”

A familiar voice echoed in the distance and Hizumi felt Karyu stiffen up. That was Die's voice which silenced after he saw whom Hizumi was walking with. Karyu stopped and Hizumi heard Shinya and Die greeting them.... well it was only Shinya because Die was busy having a glaring contest with Karyu.

“What is this supposed to mean?” Die wanted to know and Karyu hissed.

“What a nice friend you are.... You were so busy drooling over your beloved that you forgot about Hizumi after the incident.”

Usually Die would have started a fight but he remained silent out of shame because he knew that Karyu was right. He neglected not only his work but also his best friend and although he hated to admit it, it was nice of Karyu to look after Hizumi.

“I'm deeply ashamed Hizumi and there is no way to forgive me-”

Hizumi furrowed his brows. “Don't gimme that shit Die, in your case I would have run for Shinya too.” Hizumi smiled into the direction where he made out a vague, delicate silhouette. Shinya touched Hizumi's arm lovingly and looked at Karyu the same time.

“That was nice, thank you Karyu. Without you Hizumi would have never made it.” Shinya referred to so much more what Karyu didn't know at this point but the fragile Angel turned his attention back to Hizumi and looked him into the eyes.

“I presume Kai helped you?” Shinya asked and Hizumi nodded. “Stay still....” Shinya lay his hands onto Hizumi's head and his hands disappeared. The group watched astonished when Shinya pulled out something that looked like gray dust in between his hands. He murmured a strange spell and within a moment the dust dissolved into thin air. Shinya smiled. “Now open your eyes.”

Hizumi blinked slowly and his blurry vision started to dissolve and turn back to normal. He looked straight into Die's face in front of him. “Man, first thing I can see clearly is your ugly face, dammit!”

The group laughed except of one. Karyu finally let go off Hizumi's hand.

“How did you do that?” Hizumi wanted to know.

“Just own some extra skills. My son isn’t a wing healer by accident.” Shinya smiled but Die knew it came from the experience of being a Demon Angel.

After a little more small talk, Die and Shinya went their way. Hizumi dismissed Die's offer to look after him the next day and told the bastard to look after his beloved instead.

It became silent between the two Angels and for the first time in days, Hizumi dared to look aside up into Karyu's face while they continued their stroll through the park. His face was just like he recalled it all this time in his head, stern, unimpressed, arrogant... but sexy. Hizumi turned his gaze down as Karyu must have realized him starring.

“Thank you Karyu, for everything.”

Karyu didn’t look at him. “It’s okay.”

“You really don’t have to cope with me….”

Long silence followed and Karyu kept on looking straight on when he answered. “But what… if I want to?”

Drums pulsated in Hizumi's ears... what did he just say? He looked up surprised at the unreadable face, only slowly getting the facade Karyu's holding up. Hizumi slightly smiled his adorable smile.

“You know,” Hizumi said, “... I never bought your attitude.”

“How so?”

“You are more than you ought to show.” Hizumi answered.

Karyu's obligatory silence followed again before he answered. “If you’re telling anybody, I’ll kick your ass.” One side of his mouth lifted slightly amused.

“It’s my secret.” Hizumi responded with his trademark smile and his white eyes beamed back at Karyu.

 

Chapter Text

Songs to this chapter: 06 – Carnival of Lies (Hell's theme)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YLfI5sJQSQ&index=6&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 20

 

The Circus of Life

 

 

 

Melancholic, Toshiya sat invisible inside a coffee shop, in this crazy, never sleeping city. It was his task to find his protege Kaoru but no one told him how to do so. Like all things destined, it would happen when the time was right but right now all Toshiya felt was overwhelmed by the city life of the 21st century and lost because of its size. Everything was so enormous and at the same time so cramped.

From a big window, he observed the cars and people passing in the streets when suddenly something in the air changed. Like a dim flicker, the aura changed but too low for humans to realize. His mind was on high alert and the atmosphere on a single spot in the busy street blurred and in the middle of all this chaos, a figure formed and features became visible. People passed the figure unimpressed and untouched, obviously not able to see it. Toshiya froze on his seat when he saw the being, obviously supernatural, clad with a long, dark cape, starring straightly back at him. And although most of his head was covered, it was the creatures eyes which sent shivers down his spine. Ice blue eyes which seemed to bore the world's insanity within. Dark curled hair showed from underneath the hood which made it impossible to guess what kind of gender it had.

As if the insane stare was not enough, the creature started to smile when his and Toshiya's eyes met. The creature pulled one arm to the front of his chest and slightly bent his head. A voice entered Toshiya's head and he was shocked by the intimate contact.

^I am Mako and I'm looking forward to be working with you.^

An insane smile on that doll-like face again, the colorful painted lips, before the air started to shiver and he was gone. Sudden noises filled the air and people started screaming when at the same spot cars started to drive into each other and people started to run around in panic.

That was clearly a visit from hell and Toshiya knew immediately that his bored times on earth were over. He rushed out onto the street and saw that people actually got hurt inside the cars and then, for the first time he saw how some souls left their bodies and flew up into heaven. Awestruck by the new observation he was even more shocked when the long, dark caped appeared in heaven again and collected the souls. Can it be?!

And with a high pitched, insane laughter, Mako disappeared together with the lost souls. And the thought where they would be brought to made Toshiya sick.

He left the scene immediately, Mako's words circling in his head.... looking forward to be working with you... what did this creature know that he didn't? It collected human souls, a soul collector. What could it possibly mean?

When Toshiya turned into the next alleyway, he paused in reflex when he saw four dark creatures starring back at him. Random Demons which wandered earth as well and mostly not very keen of heavenly residents either. Not wanting any trouble, Toshiya started jogging into another alleyway, turning his head back to see if he was followed but fell back onto the street when he bumped into someone which should have been impossible in the first place.

Startled Toshiya looked up at the man who stood in front of him and his glare showed that he was not amused by the intimate contact.

“Look what we've got here.“ A deep, husky voice spoke up when he crossed his arms over his chest. His face unreadable, his attire perfect and pure business.

Toshiya stuttered and said out loud. “You can see me?”

The guy looked strangely back. “No, you’re invisible... of course I can!”

Several men showed up behind the handsome guy and murmured at him. “Boss, are you all right?”

A cold nod and his fellows pulled back. It was now that Toshiya saw where he got himself into. The whole area seemed kind of private and not of the friendliest kind of sort too. And again, he found himself in trouble. Like a rabbit encircled by wolves, Toshiya looked around the group of dangerous looking men and his gaze stuck at the obvious Leader of them.

“Not the best way to start a day.” The boss said and his eyes literally scanned the victim from head to toe with an unreadable gaze.

Still startled by the fact that Toshiya seemed suddenly visible to all of them, he remained motionless sitting on the ground... until the boss gestured to one of his men to help Toshiya up. Only now he realized that he was taller in size than the boss but when it came to intimidating aura and killer glares, the guy in front of him clearly won. Sheepishly, Toshiya looked down onto his feet. There was no way in escaping the supernatural way now.

The guy came closer and looked Toshiya straight into the face, his deep eyes scanning and analyzing. “What's your name?”

“Toshiya.”

The guy stepped back and after a moment of silence, he stretched out his hand. First uncertain, Toshiya took it hesitantly and images shot through his head. Memories, voices of women, fighting men, money, cars, races, death....

“I'm Niikura Kaoru and you entered my private property.”

Shocked, Toshiya's did his best in keeping up a pokerface. Could it be? It seemed impossible! This man.... his protege?! He thought his protege to be much younger. Not that this man was old but something in his mid forties was quite.... well, unexpected?

Slowly, the elder man let go off Toshiya's slender hand but his eyes still fixed him like prey.

“And since you ran into me obviously in some kind of distress.... I will make you an offer which you can not decline.”

That was quick, Toshiya thought. And although he had an inkling that this job offer must be far from legal he knew at the same time that he should probably take it if he wanted to stay close to Kaoru. He had no choice because this guy was the man he had to find, his own protege. But right now it seemed more like he was looking out for Toshiya than the other way round.

And Toshiya knew immediately that the boring days were over now.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Hizumi was back in his room together with Karyu. The beautiful and most enjoyable stroll earlier through the gardens could have lasted forever in Hizumi's opinion but Karyu was called back to work soon. But before Karyu went off, he insisted on bringing Hizumi back first. Although he was able to fully see again thanks to Shinya's help.... and it warmed his heart more than it possibly should.

Nervously, Hizumi fumbled with his hands, not knowing what to say or what to do now that he's got his full eye sight back. He caught glimpses of the handsome, rough Angel right next to him.... they sat next to each other and a slight stretch with his hand would have been enough... but Hizumi remained the silent observer. A silly shyness which seemed to have caught up to him now after being able to see everything clear again. Which was stupid because they'd already spent time together now and then.

But Karyu looked even better in real life than in all his imaginations.

Effortlessly sexy, the tall Angel leaned with his elbows on his knees.

“So you are going down to earth?” Hizumi asked, sitting on his bed.

“Yeah, Kazu makes last arrangements. By the next call a handful of Revenges will go down to earth.”

Hizumi stared and one thing he had in common with Karyu: They both used not to comment on the last thing a person had said. Instead, Karyu observed Hizumi turning down his gaze.... he left it uncommented, not flattering himself with the possible meaning behind it.

“So you’re looking after your son?” Hizumi knew it from Die and the surprised expression on Karyu's face proofed it too. Adding the sucked in breath and the motion with his hand to the back of his head did the rest. Hizumi hit a delicate nerve and Karyu was obviously still uncomfortable talking about it. Maybe because he himself didn't know what to make out of it. His feelings had started to change since he knew.

“I'm not supposed to interfere, only observe, watch out for possible dangers. Him and some other proteges on earth.” And he took his task very serious, wondering where that sense of responsibility came from.

Him, being the obvious taller and stronger one, talking about responsibility and acting all cold.... he was so beautiful. Hizumi felt guilty about his thought trailing off after observing these perfect shaped lips and he recalled that deep, hungry kiss from the other day. Oh he so wanted to feel it again, this cold but insisting touch on his lips which seemed to take him in completely... he had to change his thoughts and Hizumi changed topic.

“I’d really love to see earth again. I’ve been at the borders for far too long…”

“Right now it's better for you to stay here and heal completely. You almost lost your eye sight.”

A nod, followed by an almost whispered 'Thank you.'

And his heart would have stopped beating if he were still alive. Karyu had stretched out his hand and touched Hizumi's cheek, resting with his thumb on the side of one eye.

“I think it were those eyes...”

That was all Karyu said but for him it was like a major declaration and Hizumi knew and appreciated that, blushing very hard. He had never met someone before who actually liked his white eyes and was so straight forward about it too. Most creatures were scared by them and even after years not used to his stare... all except of one who looked so freely, so unprejudiced into them.

The hand glided down Hizumi's cheek and the soothing touch left.

Karyu stood up from the message he had just received, ready to leave. Hizumi followed Karyu with his gaze and happily discovered that he still wore the braids in between the strands of his hair. The braids which he did the other day when Karyu had fallen asleep on his bed.... it was childish to be so happy about it.

“Stay out of trouble and rest in your room until I'm back. Promised, it won't be long.”

Without another indicated action which Hizumi had imagined so perfectly for their good bye, Karyu walked back to the entrance door without another word, obviously done.

“You're leaving right away?” Hizumi stood up from his bed.

“Have to.”

Of course Karyu heard the undertone swinging with it but his pride wouldn't allow any cheesy good bye scenes... well except of the other day he had lowered himself to it and God knows what came over him that day. But any attachment would make it only harder for both of them. Plus Karyu never did relationships, it was his golden rule Nb. 01.

“I will be back to check on you.”

“Is this some kind of game you like to play with people you get involved with?”

Karyu turned around by the sudden accusation.

“Because I won't play that game Karyu, especially not with you.”

“What are you indicating?”

“Just get the fuck over here and kiss me good bye for goodness sake. I absolutely insist.”

“Well you should know, “ Karyu started when he turned around and made his way back to Hizumi's bed, “that I don't do relationships. Never did and never will.”

“Good, me neither.”

Karyu pulled Hizumi's close to him by the collar of his shirt, taking in his lips for a hungry kiss, selfishly and demanding as if he wanted to suck out Hizumi's remaining life energy. He always did that, being so powerful and demanding everything.

Hizumi became limb under Karyu's touch and the tall Angel whispered against Hizumi's lips.

“But you're free to give me commands any time you feel like it. It really turns me on.”

A husky laugh when Karyu removed his hand and within a second the Angel had disappeared into thin air, leaving a breathless Hizumi back on his bed.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Toshiya's protege Kaoru was one of these people who entered a room and all eyes lay on him. Whether he was dressed in one of his expensive designer suits or in simple jeans. That was something Toshiya discovered right away. Kaoru had an incredible power of attraction, a power which emanated from him so naturally that everybody served him. His authority was palpable. Even without his subordinates addressing him, everybody could have guessed that he was the Boss. Now and then even Toshiya stole a glimpse of him, tried to read the mystery but Kaoru was unreadable. His feelings and reasons hidden deep inside of him. Whether it was Toshiya's inexperience or all the commotion, he couldn't tell. Probably a mixture of both.

This natural charm of Kaoru drew him in too quickly. Toshiya wasn't stupid and recognized it right away but he couldn't help it either. The same morning, he was 'escorted' by Kaoru and his men into a 38-floor skyscraper not far away from the place where he had ran into him. They arrived inside a luxurious night club and Kaoru dismissed his men so that he and Toshiya were alone.

“As I said before, I want you to work for me here in this night club.... no, I need you. You will fit in perfectly. And I don't care whether you already have a job. Quit everything and work here in the evening.”

That was too much too quickly and they both knew it but at least one part couldn't care less. Confused by Kaoru's dominant manner, Toshiya nodded anyway. At least he could observe him easier that way. A silent nod gestured Kaoru to go on.

“You will entertain my guests as a host and keep an eye on them while I’m not around. Report anything you might hear or see directly to me. That's all.”

An irresistible urge made Toshiya wonder. “Why me?”

“I don’t believe in coincidences, it was your lucky day. I hope it was mine too.”

But Kaoru's eyes said that it was more than that. He liked that strange, tall boy and his face and features fit perfectly into his club an attire.

“But you don't even know me.”

With his small but elegant fingers, Kaoru glided over the mirrored glass wall, his Rolex and jewelry glistening from the dim lightning when he turned around and continued his way with his index finger over Toshiya's collarbone. “We can change that.”

He shouldn't have blushed and feeling uncomfortable only added to the surreal atmosphere. Kaoru must have felt it too and slowly pulled back, walking over to the long window side of the building, his back turned against Toshiya when he addressed him again.

“I can provide you a flat in this house, in case you can work for me full time.” He humbly referred to the enormous skyscraper. And although he expressed it carefully, he most likely expected Toshiya to take the offer. Now at this point Toshiya decided to play the game to observe what the future would bring.

“Show me my room.”

And with a pleasant grin on his face, Kaoru escorted him to the elevators.

The same evening and after Toshiya was settled in his quarters, which were ridiculously luxurious and God knows how expensive, he spent his first night at work. Clad in a dark blue suit himself.

It surprised him that the rich people of 21st century didn't differ too much from the aristocracy from the 17th century. It was interesting to observe but hard for him to move and act all cool. Toshiya did his best and tried to learn from his colleagues which were all superficial and arrogant, except of one guy who talked and smiled at him friendly. He said his name was Sakito and he offered his help kindly. The stares he got from the other boys though were strange and Toshiya couldn't make out why. True he was the tallest of them all but less did his naïve self know about the meaning of jealousy in this business. Especially after Kaoru lectured his men earlier about treating Toshiya kindly.

The music inside the club was as dim as the light. Elegant people sat chatting on different tables and couches, surrounded by their favorite hosts. The bar was enormous, the whole splendor most elegant and tasteful. Everything which made Toshiya only more insecure, the Ladies loved it though. It didn't take long until he was drawn onto a table of five chatty women and miraculously he warmed up pretty fast. The dull conversations were superficial and the liquor showed effect on the Ladies and him too.

That was when in the middle of the room a still standing person got Toshiya's attention. His mind switched from 'human impersonator' to his angelic senses and what he saw meant no good. Toshiya excused himself from the table and although they hardly let him go, he managed to cross the club but the person was gone.... or call it Demon in this case.

And Toshiya recognized that face. He saw it before and it took all his imagination to recall from where.... that flat face, the long dark plaits in his hair, the cold eyes.... his vision changed into another memory and he realized that it was Hizumi's memory. That day when he was so severely attacked, his almost destroyed nerve system....


That face belonged to Zero.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The Angels of Revenge scattered into all directions of the dark sky line over Tokyo. Rumors were the reason why they came down to earth to watch and observe in secret for any possible dangers. Something big was dwelling underneath the surface, both heaven and hell knew about it and naturally both sides prepared for it in their own ways.

And also Metatron was prepared: Long before the Angels of Revenge arrived on earth, his secret and last remaining Demon Angel Reita came to earth. To spy, observe and find out about possible threats and secrets. His immortal senses were higher than any of the other Angels, his ears and intuition filtering any piece of information before anyone else did.

 

The dark night sky was illuminated by the stars. One for each Angel. That was how the higher ranked Angels made out the other Angels on earth. Like Karyu, he scanned the surface of town while he flew over it in his invisible state. The air tasted bitter this night, something was definitely there. In reflex, he turned around and took his route back to a high sky scraper complex and then he heard it. A door bashing open and heavy panting. Normally he couldn't care less but these vibes weren't mortal either.

In high speed, Karyu flew up the sky scraper and he landed on the roof top, when the heavily panting person turned around. It was an elegant clad Toshiya with horror written all over his face. Surprise added to his mixed up feelings when he saw Karyu standing not far away from him on the sky scraper.

“Toshiya! What's the matter?!” Was all Karyu could bring out.

Although he never really knew Karyu and God knows he was not the most pleasant fellow, Toshiya was somehow SO glad to see him. He ran over to him, only to stay behind his back and watch the door in full panic.

“Karyu, there is a demon inside. It's-”

“Toshiya….” Karyu spoke controlled through gritted teeth. “I want you to go inside.”

“But he’s in there!”

“Not any longer.”

And the Demon took shape a few meters away from them and the more clear his features became, the thinner Karyu's eyes went, glaring at him threatening. He recognized Zero immediately, making wild guesses that this place would turn into a battle field any moment now. But Toshiya was here with him and since it was too late he had to protect him now too.

‘You were looking for me? You want to fight me?’ Zero didn’t move his lips, his voice echoed through Karyu's head.

“You…” Karyu pointed at him with his free left hand, the other one held onto a silver long spear tightly. “… attacked one of holy Lords Cherubim and for that you will be judged.” Karyu spoke out loud though.

Zero wore his cold, nonchalant face. ‘The Angel was weak, wrong placed in that position too.’

Karyu balled his hands into fists before he stretched them out and sent a wave of energy out. Obviously he wasn't a big talker and always acted first and asked later.

It blew Zero down onto the ground but he became invisible immediately. Toshiya held onto Karyu's shoulders in panic, they both turned in circles and watched out from where Zero could possibly attack. A hand appeared in the dark sky and shoved Karyu away from Toshiya, sending him hard down onto the ground, sliding away a few meters and leaving Toshiya unprotected. Zero appeared again and for the first time his attention was fully on Toshiya. He looked at him deeply with this cold, emotionless eyes, looking deeply into him and seeing things others might not noticed. A slight smirk on Zeros lips and he passed Toshiya untouched.

Being a bundle of nerves, the young Angel sank to the ground shaking while Zero walked up to Karyu whom steadied himself from the fall on his spear but something invisible made him scream out loud into the night and Karyu slumped down to the ground again, the spear clattering on the stony roof top. Heavy panting from Karyu whom looked up at Zero who towered over him and observed the suffering Angel from above. He gloated over Karyu's pain while he attacked Karyu's nerve system between his wings.

Karyu's scream changed from screaming to insane laughter. “Ha ha... you think you got me?”

'Suffer.' Came the only mental reply.

“No, you do.” And with his last strength, Karyu picked up the spear from the ground and thrust it all the way through Zero's breast. The Demon widened his eyes in shock, no words slipped from his mind. The pain should have killed Karyu almost immediately. Why didn't it work?

With effort, Karyu stood up and pulled the spear out of Zero's breast, it didn't kill him yet but the powerful stroke which decapitated Zero did. The head fell onto the ground and the body dissolved into black sand which blew away with the wind.

Karyu steadied himself on his spear a few more seconds before he broke down and the spear clattered to the ground again. When Toshiya was finally able to move, he ran over to him and steadied Karyu's head. He called his name several times but Karyu didn't wake up. Instead a dark power rooted through his body from the spot were his four wings were. A most uncomfortable dejavu for Toshiya. He had to handle this otherwise Karyu wouldn't make it. With all effort, the young Angel turned the lifeless body around and dived with his hands into the nerve system. They both became invisible while Toshiya's gift located the evil root. He pulled it out immediately and with a murmured phrase dissolved it.

Karyu's angelic body started to heal immediately, his will to life bringing back his senses in no time. A few moments later, the older Angel blinked with his eyes and slowly turned around from his lying position. Only to find himself looking into a scared, younger Angel's face.

“You made it! Thank God” Toshiya couldn't help it when he jump forward and embraced Karyu around his shoulders tightly. A warm hand held onto Toshiya and a husky voice added.

“You're the best Toshiya. I'm so proud of you.”

These words bore more than Toshiya could possibly imagine but he had absolutely no clue about Karyu and Shinya's involuntarily past. But he guessed right that it was the closest Karyu could get to a 'thank you' and Toshiya knew that. It warmed his heart deeply.


A new voice entered the scene. “I should have known that where trouble is you are not far.”

It was Kazu who as a Leader of the Angels of Revenge hurried back to the place of fighting after he sensed it in the air. He stretched out a hand to pick Karyu up from the ground, Toshiya followed. Sternly, Kazu nodded at Karyu, making motions to go and taking Karyu with him.

“Where are you going?” Toshiya asked.

“You're not supposed to know that we are here in the first place Toshiya.” Kazu said.

“But after all that happened...”

“We pulled you into this, it's inexcusable.”

Karyu spoke up. “The Demon approached Toshiya first.”

“And where is he now?” Kazu asked with a mocking tone while Karyu scanned the sky. A deeply exhaled breath from Kazu. “You killed one of Lucifer's personal Demons-”

“And I couldn't give a bloody damn about it and I’d do it again.” Karyu answered nonchalantly as he was.

“You should never act out of personal motive!”

“I judged him as I had the right to.”

“Then you must bear any possible consequences and there will be consequences, you know that.”

“I will be ready for it.”

Kazu dropped the subject and he looked back at Toshiya who looked to him like a frightened deer. “About you.... I don't get why Zero appeared here in this area.”

Toshiya didn't know it either and his eyes must have shown it. Kazu addressed Karyu. “Normally we wouldn't do this but I want you Karyu to keep an special eye on Toshiya and this area for the time being.”

Relief from the young Angel and a strange protective instinct from Karyu. Before the Angels of Revenge left, Karyu made sure to escort Toshiya back to his place, just in case.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Kami grabbed into his hair in despair. Stacks of old books and papers built up all around the four Archangels, now and then insanity from all the research got one or the other later. Now for the 6th time Kami was close to loose his temper again. Hide only snickered behind another high pile of books, while Kyo read silently to himself like Mana did too.

They were looking for anything, any hint about the prophecy of 'the cross', any possible indications.

Kami hit his head hard onto the desk, he surrendered for the 20th time today. His face covered behind his over-length hair, his moaning drowning in it. Hide shook his head again amused.

Then the bored silence broke by heavy steps outside the halls, someone running down the long corridor. All three heads looked up to the door but Kami remained lying on the desk, probably because he couldn't hear it. The doors bashed open and Shizumi, the friendly teacher Angel and also Cherub, yelled inside the room.

“One Revenge attacked one of Lucifer's personal Demons on earth!”

Kami remained with his head on the table while he stammered nonchalantly. “Must have been Karyu.”

Hide's jaw dropped from the news while Kyo narrowed his eyes and Mana looked himself as usual.

“What happened?” Kyo asked.

“The Revenge killed the Demon.”

The Archangels looked at Shizumi in disbelieve.

“Ohmygod, that means war.” Kyo said.

“And who was it?” Hide asked.

“I don’t know. That’s all the information I got.”

Looking at each other, the Archangels stood up and left the room, only to be stopped by Kamijo who had just passed, followed by the highest Angels of heaven, the Seraphim. Aiji, Angel of Moods, Kazuki, Angel of Time and Kai, Angel of Light and Love. The last one stole a glance of Kami before he closed the portals to Kamijo's room behind them.

Minutes before the news had spread through all heaven, Hizumi who naturally heard about any rumors first at the borders, stopped in his tracks. A strange feeling overcame him and he could only hoped that his suspicions proved him wrong.

Meanwhile inside the holy halls of Metatron, the Seraphim and Kindel-Angel Ruki had gathered.

“Karyu is an absolute reliable Angel of Revenge with high experience on war. He would never act out of pure lust to kill.” Ruki said despite the Angel's reputation to be cold but lethal. And he could say it because he knew all of his Angels.

“I won't judge him for his actions. What concerns me is the whole intention of the fight. Why was one of Lucifer's Demons on earth to attack an innocent protégé?” Kamijo wondered.

“It’s not unusual for Demons to cause trouble when protégé are down on earth either.” Kai answered.

“Sure but this one was not a low-class Demon.” Aiji added.

“And the one he attacked no weak Angel.” Kazuki referred to Toshiya. “What to do now?”

Kamijo made a deeply thinking face. “All we can do is to wait. Hell will approach us soon enough.”

The Archangels waited outside Kamijo's portals until it was their turn. After a while, the Seraphim left the halls and the Archangels entered, all except of Kami who held Kai back on his wrist. It was the look in Kai's eyes, Kami knew him to be very sensitive.

“Is it so bad?”

Kai was speechless. Too much was going on these days and he as a wing healer suffered even more from the fact that Toshiya, also wing healer, was attacked.

“We are one family. If one is in danger we all are.”

It hurt Kami seeing Kai like this and God knows he would have done anything for some private time together with him but times were messy these days and they all had a lot to do.

“I know it is selfish of me,” Kami whispered while he pulled Kai close to him only for a quick moment, “but I would do anything for you to stay out of all this trouble, all of this mess...”

“I can't. It is my job, my life.”

“I know.” Kami's hand remained a few more seconds on Kai's cheek before Kamijo finally yelled him inside.

 

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 21

 

Another world, my rules

 

 

Hakuei dropped the book he was holding when Die closed his mouth. The Cherub had just returned from the borders and told Toshiya's Guardian about the attack on earth. Meanwhile heaven was well aware of what had happened and who killed Zero. Clumsily, and Hakuei was never clumsy, he took a seat and worked on the information, his face blank with no emotions but the shaking hand which reached up to his forehead said it all. Die picked up the book and settled next to Hakuei, touching him on his shoulder.

“Karyu is a weapon, Toshiya was well guarded.”

Hakuei lowered his hands and it took him a moment to focus his gaze on Die. “He shouldn't have been attacked in the first place.”

“You're right.”

“I'm having a bad feeling about all this.”

“You're telling me...” It was the way Die said it which made Hakuei wonder.

“What do you mean?”

Now it was Die who clearly made an uncomfortable face. Fact was that no one outside their private little circle knew about Karyu fathering Toshiya first time on earth and with Shinya on top of it, although it was involuntarily from Shinya's side. Die gave Hakuei a quick summary about what he had learned recently and the information only added to Hakuei's bewilderment. “You're telling me that...”

“Unfortunately... yes.”

“No, I mean.... no. That's unbelievable.” In front of his inner eye Hakuei searched for similarities physically and of course emotionally. “I don't think they have much in common.... well on the other hand, Toshiya is tall and very strong emotionally. I always thought it's a Shinya-trait.” Die smiled at himself. “It surely is.”

When Hakuei silenced to think about it, Die added something he and Shinya had discovered a long time ago. “You know Hakuei… you have to let him go one day. Toshiya’s grown very strong over the last couple of months, thanks to you. I remember the first day I helped you and him coming back to heaven... Jeez that was a fight but look at him now. He already changed so much.... and mostly because of you. We're convinced that he will be able to handle everything.” It was something that weighed heavily on Hakuei's heart but he knew that Die was right. It only appeared to him recently that he had grown quite attached to his protégé and he feared that there might comes a day when he would need his protégé more than the other way round.

“I know.... but it’s so hard. I’ve known him for such a long time, looked after him for such a long time.... centuries even.”

The centuries-point made Die remember another issue. “I also came here to tell you something else.”

Hakuei looked aside wearily. “I'm not so sure I can stand any more bade news.”

“It's not that bad. Shinya and I just wanted to inform you that-”

“Shinya?”

But of course. Hakuei still didn't know about how Die discovered Shinya. The Cherub gave him a quick summary of what had happened. “Shinya is back?!”

Die came to the point right away. “We will be reborn to earth soon because of our karma. Maybe even before Toshiya will return to heaven.”

“That will break Toshiya's heart.”

“We thought so.... It can't be helped. It's only for a lifetime.”

After a few more words and a more and more absentminded growing Hakuei, the Cherub left for work again as the Guardian really needed the time for himself. Hakuei had always been a reasonable person, Angel and soul. Structured and well thought in everything. But lately, all these changes seemed to make it hard for him to stay balanced. Not only was his dearly beloved protégé attacked the night before, no, another thing stung him too: Toshiya's discovery of his own protégé Kaoru. And what a human he was. As flamboyant and charming like the devil himself. He was truly into deep, serious business and Hakuei didn't approve of it AT ALL. But it was Toshiya's duty, his karma to look after Kaoru, his new task. All they could hope for was that God really only burdened souls with as much hard stuff as they can carry. And again he recalled that Toshiya was strong.

It was dark at night on earth and Toshiya felt alien in his apartment. Although Kaoru mentioned that it was only a small one in comparison to the rest, he still felt uncomfortable and mentally cold inside of it. He could never understand what people found appealing and surely to some extend cozy about concrete metal buildings, at the worst paired up with floor reaching glass walls to add to the strangeness. In former times such cells were torture, today they called it 'design'.

In his fetal position, Toshiya looked out the glass wall and observed the stars, the lights of town at night. Now after all the stress of his work died down, his mind traveled home. If Hakuei was watching? What was he up to these days? And did he feel it when Toshiya thought about him? So many questions came up day by day now that they were separated. And he wanted to ask Hakuei so many questions.

A knock on the door startled him and he moved clumsily over his crumbled bed sheets and made his way over to the door. The face which was completely covered in shadows greeted him with a smile. Toshiya couldn't see it but hear it... feeling it even.

“You’re loving the dark?” It was Kaoru’s voice, mocking and filled with amusement and Toshiya couldn't help but wonder why he always felt so nervous and observed around him.

“I-I was just about going to sleep.”

A nod from the figure which leaned against his door frame. The moonlight reflected on his expensive suit which broke the light over his crossed arms in front of his chest, his face was still covered in shadows. “I wanted to check back on you...” Kaoru started again. “After your first day because the customer's response about you was quite well. I'm sure you've found regular customers tonight.”

A slight nod from the younger man who could just wonder if that was all Kaoru was there for.

“Besides,” Kaoru leaned up from the door frame, “there is a clan-racing going on tomorrow. I usually avoid these kind of parties because it's something our youngsters do but our clan got challenged. Rumors spread that the opposite boss will be there too which makes it impossible for me not to attend. Long story short: I want you to come with us, make new contacts.”

What was it that made everything Kaoru said sound forbidden? Of course Toshiya would attend. He was Kaoru's Guardian Angel and Toshiya serious about his task. “Of course.”

Slowly, Kaoru stepped into the moonlight and his one sided smile filled the moment. “But?”

Toshiya had to step back from the sudden proximity. Somehow it was as if Kaoru's aura pushed him back. He was so powerful and... what was it? Charming, alluring even. Toshiya couldn't help himself but to wonder why on earth such a human being would need protection. Sure, Kaoru seemed to be involved into some kind of fishy business but honestly, by the number of staff and bodyguards he hired anybody surely gladly gave their life for him. He was such a person. “I-I don’t like anything risky, that’s all.” Toshiya finally stammered out.

Kaoru gave one of his dazzling smiles again. “Where is the fun in life without being risky?” He paused. “Joke. Don’t be scared, you don’t have to attend the race. Just be there.”

At that point Toshiya had switched from his human-like view to his angel-scan, not really listening to what Kaoru was saying. He tried to read his protégé, scanned his aura but all he could see was a deep, dark blue color. Nothing to be alarmed of. Next he tried to read Kaoru's thoughts, although he knew from Hakuei that doing so was hard at the beginning, he tried it nevertheless. After all he needed to get to know his protégé. And although it was to be expected not to work out, Toshiya found his mind blocked out, as if walking against a wall.

“Toshiya?”

The young Angel switched back to his human-like self. “I'm sorry, I was just.... daydreaming. Guess I better go to sleep.”

“You better do that.”

And to top things off, his deep voice sounded like velvet over his skin too. Kaoru was a mystery which he needed to solve before he was allowed to go back to heaven and Toshiya better did a good job to return home soon. Kaoru stepped out of the moonlight and when he walked down the corridor, it sounded like 'good night young prince' but Toshiya wasn't so sure. His protégé didn't only seem like a big piece of work, he was.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Sugizo had called in for a big, secret meeting down in hell. Yuana, his spying wolf on earth had transmitted him all the news, especially the ones about Zero which was a painful loss. Tsukasa was there with him and Sugizo summoned Gackt to join in too. After all, Gackt was Leader of the Demon Army and Sugizo's next strike on earth. The air around them was tense and Sugizo, better know as Lucifer, was not far from exploding. There was a dangerous awareness around him which made the others act very silently. After Gackt had arrived, Sugizo addressed him right away.

“You will take Közi and Yu~ki up with you to earth and spy out on the Angels of Revenge. If they should lay hands on you again, kill them. Show no mercy.” A nod followed from the highly trained soldiers. Their secret meeting was suddenly interrupted when the doors to his meeting hall swung open and to everybody’s shock Kirito stepped in. Son of the devil himself and the very one Sugizo wanted to bring to fall to plant himself up on the throne.

“WHY...” Kirito's aggressive voice sounded through the hall, “Are you summoning half of the Demon Army behind my back?!!!”

“They killed my best mind reader-!” His voice came to a sudden stop when Kirito grabbed Sugizo around his neck, pushed him against the nearby wall and hissed against his ear.

“You are stepping out of line here. It is ME all Demons are sworn to loyalty and it is ME who commands for any actions. Do you understand?” Kirito's voice was deadly low and it took all of Sugizo's courage to nod. The devil's son dropped Lucifer and addressed Gackt.

“Gackt, take your two best Demons up to earth and report any changes to ME, you understand?”

It was the split of a second, Gackt’s gaze on Sugizo which told Lucifer where Gackt's loyalty truly was but he bowed to Kirito to keep up the facade. Truth was that they all wanted to see some Angels burn.

“Yes, my Master.” And Gackt disappeared together with Közi and Yu~ki.

Kirito shot Sugizo one last angry glance before he left the hall angrily and without another word. Lucifer was boiling, narrowing his eyes from the humiliation and he swore that soon, very soon he would claim the throne for himself, making the arrogant Demon suffer terribly in the process.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The attire was far too formal for an occasional meet up with a challenging clan. A dozen of bodyguards, handful of ridiculous expensive cars and some professional trained racers met up in Kaoru's underground car park. Toshiya felt very uneasy about the black gathering. His normal reaction would have been to back off and better observe everything from a safe distant but he couldn't. He jumped when a friendly voice addressed him from behind and smiled when he found Sakito smiling back at him. Toshiya was surprised though to find him clad in racer's uniform.

“You are a racer?”

“Guess you can say that. Host or racer at night, take your pick.” No matter the circumstances, Sakito always wore a smile on his face which made him very likeable. Toshiya liked him right away and Sakito was a very helpful person too, looking out for Toshiya in the club when the others turned their backs on him. Maybe even because their boss seemed to kind of favour him.

The gathering came to an end when Kaoru gestured for people to get into the cars and Toshiya couldn't help but to wonder how all business he was. Nothing of the flirty and sensuous voice he used to show him in private sometimes. That surely was Kaoru's strength: Changing roles in the moments required. Kaoru gestured Toshiya to drive together with Sakito to their meeting point. Their eyes didn't met, nothing showed familiarity. A convoy of five cars left town, driving to the countryside. Toshiya and Sakito were alone in one car which was, what Toshiya learned soon, Sakito's personal race car. He got it from Kaoru not too long ago and in return he worked at his club and did races for him.

“Well isn't all of that quite illegal?” Toshiya wondered naive.

“That's a matter of interpretation.”

Their chatter died down and Toshiya looked out of the window, observing the beautiful landscape. They drove along a broad forest-line, up several hills and while his mind started to wander, Toshiya wondered if it was possible to seek out Sakito's Guardian Angel. Apparently, Sakito's Guardian Angel was invisible to Sakito and not visible like Toshiya towards Kaoru. It was each Guardian Angel's choice whether he wanted to be an active part in his proteges life or an passive, observing one.
Toshiya closed his eyes, pretending to fall asleep but concentrated on the energy around him. He found Sakito's aura, which was in a bright, yellow color and then he made out a presence behind Sakito's car seat. The soul behind Sakito, obviously his Guardian Angel, took shape and Toshiya couldn't believe his inner eyes. He addressed the presence with his mind.

^Ni~YA?! NO WAY! Is that really you?! I can't believe it!!^

^Shut up Toshiya and mind your own business.^ Still the old Ni~ya, Toshiya thought. Ni~ya hated him. It was a sad but true fact although Toshiya had absolutely no clue why.

^Why are you invisible to him?^

^Because it's my choice. It's the best to be with him all the time.^ It made sense. Although Toshiya wasn't with Kaoru all the time, he would feel when his protégé was in danger.

“We're here.” Sakito said out loud and made Toshiya break the contact with Ni~ya unknowingly. They stopped on a high hill in the countryside, joining the other cars in front of them in line. They both left the car and Toshiya jolted when he felt someone pulling him over under his elbow.

“Kaoru!”

The older man shushed him and said in a low voice. “Listen Toshiya, I'll have to wait at the end of the racing track to witness the winner. You will remain at the starting line and.... 'observe' what's going on. Report anything strange that was said or done to me immediately after the race, understood?” Why is it that Kaoru can make the simplest words sound forbidden? The 'observe' thing was clearly of importance here. Toshiya nodded. “This is business and you are part of my business now. I cannot tolerate to loose anything or anyone.”

Was he disappointed being reffered to as 'business'? Anyway.... What if he failed? Failing Kaoru or his own profession? Or even Hakuei? The young Angel always wondered how he could possibly be a good Guardian Angel and now, him being involved into all this made his self-doubt not any less.

It was as if Kaoru could read his mind and his characteristic one-sided smile added to the goosebumps when his hand traveled over Toshiya's arm only for the split of a second before he broke their physical contact. “You've become a precious asset to my team in such a short amount of time. The funny thing is that you yourself don't even recognize your value. People tend to trust you. Use it as a weapon.”

It was a lovely praise and it set Toshiya's mind at ease. A slight smile spread over his lips and Kaoru's gaze only lasted one moment longer on Toshiya's face before he turned his attention to one of his employees who called out for him. He left Toshiya standing there who bowed politely in return. In the distance, four cars were assembling in line. Two racers of each clan and Sakito was among them. He was all business, his ever smiling face turned into full concentration and next to him Toshiya made out the slight shimmer of Ni~ya's presence. It came easier to him now, maybe after they had their first contact in the car.
The chatters slowly died down and the racers got into their cars. After a countdown the race started with squirming tires and a lot of dust. In a matter of seconds the racing cars disappeared behind the forest, their loud engines echoing loudly through the trees. While Toshiya did his best to merge with the crowd and important looking people, Ni~ya suffered impossible agony. Sakito drove like a mad man and one opponent who tried to push him off the street didn't ease his mind. Sakito was good at what he did and totally able to keep the car on the street but after the next shove into the side of his car, the door glass broke and the sharp splinters could have done some serious damage to his beautiful face if it wasn't for Ni~ya. He covered his protégé who didn't even notice it. He kept on racing.

“No I'm a new employee at Niikura-san's place-” Toshiya broke the conversation with one of the opponent's leading security when a sudden vision played in front of his inner eyes. “No...” He whispered and started to run, leaving the strange man behind. Toshiya darted through the trees and into the dark forest before he turned himself invisible. He warped his angelic body to a spot close to the finishing line and became visible again behind trees. In the distance he saw what his vision had showed him: The Nissan which chased Sakito flipped over from speed , failed Sakito who ended the race as a winner but the rolling car couldn't stop. People started to scream and were scattering into all directions, leaving one person right in the middle of everything.

“KAORU!!” Toshiya shouted as he ran the last few meters to the end of the finishing line. He tackled the older man down and the car missed both of them only by inches. They rolled through the dust and when they came to a stop, Toshiya hit his head hard against the ground. Kaoru was halfway over him but Toshiya still couldn't realize because even to an immortal body a hit to his head made him feel dizzy too. He kept his eyes closed and felt the weight crawling off his body, a hand touching his forehead and cheek carefully.

“Toshiya! Can you hear me?!” People's voices added to the surrounding noises and Toshiya murmured a weak 'yes'. He opened his eyes and looked into several known and unknown faces, Sakito was one of them, next to Kaoru's face which showed panic and something else Toshiya couldn't make out. “The race is over, we're going home!” Kaoru motioned with his hand over to his bodyguards to clear the place of people. He helped Toshiya up who stood clumsily on his long legs but steady. Kaoru reached up to Toshiya's temples and checked his head from all sides. Fortunately there was no blood, a sigh of relief left his lips. The opponent's leader who stood nearby observed the whole ongoing with a knowing smile on his lips and also motioned his men to get ready to leave. Sakito steadied Toshiya on his arm. "I'm fine, really. Thanks for all your concern.”

People suddenly started to scream when the car not too far away from them exploded. It was a reflex when Kaoru shoved Toshiya behind his body, shielding him. Sakito crouched to the ground while the security started to run towards the car to put out the flames but it was too late for the driver, the car was ablaze. An insane, high pinched laughter filled the air and the little hair on Toshiya's neck stood up. He knew that laughter, a noise apparently only he could hear. While Toshiya looked up into the sky, he heard Kaoru next to him breathing in and out loud in agitation. And there he was floating in the air, clad in a long dark cape and singing a sick and strange song before he snatched up the floating soul in the air.

'MAKO!' Toshiya screamed out in his thoughts. He couldn't act because everybody would see him disappear.

^What's the matter Toshiya? Come and get this delicious bad soul! Ahahahahaaaaaaa!^

And within a second Mako had disappeared with the soul and all Toshiya could think of was how on earth the soul collector knew his name. He came back into reality when Kaoru shook him on his shoulders.

“Are you all right?”

The young Angel closed his eyes for a moment. “Yes, no.... I don't know.” A pause. “Thank you, for saving me. It should have been me.” It just slipped out of his mouth before he could consider his words. It left Kaoru surprised but he didn't ask, maybe seeing it as mere courtesy. Kaoru's men gestured them to finally leave the racing track to go home to the headquarter. And people started whispering when Kaoru insisted on Toshiya driving back with him.That was not good, not good at all. Toshiya had this feeling. Him, a new one, being favoured by the boss... he only hoped not to get into trouble with the other employees.

It was dead silent inside the car. Two bodyguards sat in the front while Toshiya and Kaoru were all alone in the back. Although they were separated from the driver's seat by glass, Kaoru didn't say a single word. It weighed heavily in the air that something had happened tonight which connected the two of them. Without any second thoughts they were both ready to sacrifice themselves for each others safety. And a dozen of people had witnessed it. Toshiya felt ashamed for the open portrayal of his loyalty and wondered if Kaoru felt the same. After all, he was the mighty boss to his clan and he lost his face twice this evening. First by Toshiya, his slut or how they called him, to safe him and then Kaoru who saved him in return.

“I can never make amends for what you have done for me today.” Kaoru started. “If there is something I can do for you?”

This came as a total surprise. “Niikura-san, after what you have done for me, I-”

Kaoru lifted one hand and for the first time since they entered the car, he looked at Toshiya directly, really looked at him. His glare was unreadable as always. “After saving each other I guess it's time for you to call me by my first name.”

Toshiya nodded politely. “Well then, Kaoru, there is one thing....”

“Name it.”

“Stay out of trouble.”

A throaty laugh. “Well, I can't promise you that. How about your own car?”

“Material things are unimportant to me. Please just stay out of trouble-” Toshiya's voice got stuck in his throat when he felt hot fingers closing around his wrist on the seat.

“Are you…. that concerned about me?” His tone had changed to this private tone only Toshiya knew from several private encounters. He looked at Kaoru in surprise, trying to kill the mood by staying objective.

“That was very dangerous today.”

“But my team won and I got my cars back.”

“If that’s all you can think about-”

“That is NOT all I can think about.” His tone seemed angry and the grip around Toshiya's wrist became tighter. It started to become unpleasant.

“You're hurting me.” Which was an outright lie but there was something about Kaoru's act and aura Toshiya couldn't really grasp or even didn't want to guess. In all, it made him feel uncomfortable.

“I'm sorry.” Kaoru pulled back and turned his attention out the window again. And these were his last words for the night before he turned all business-like again.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Toshiya walked into the bathroom the next morning, looking at his mortal face in the mirror. The same features like in his old lifetime, shiny black hair, long limbs… but he felt nothing with this body. It was just an instrument to fulfill its task.

He knew that his protégé was a headstrong and charming man but the way he spoke to him inside the car, held his wrist for the splint of a moment, seemed quite... personal. Toshiya brushed it off to be out of courtesy but it was the way Kaoru let down his guard in front of him. He never did that in front of his men, obviously. Towards them he was always cold, controlled and dominant.

Inside that car, it seemed that Toshiya could have asked for anything. Anything his body and mind could possibly desire and Kaoru would have happily given it to him. Was that kind of behavior normal for protégé towards their Guardian Angels? Would he do the same if Hakuei asked him to? That with Hakuei was completely different. Of course Toshiya would do anything for Hakuei since he did everything for him, helped him, looked out for him, cared for him.... Melancholy filled him with a sudden pain of homesickness. If Hakuei was with him right now? How was he? It was forbidden for them to get into contact while the protégé are being tested on earth on their first assignment. And how come that he thought about Hakuei now although Kaoru was his concern? Toshiya ran the water-tap and filled the washbasin with water. He dived his hands into it and a voice filled his head.

Toshiya!

A well known voice echoed through the water. It was the water creature Daisuke from heaven, calling through the element of water. It was Daisuke who gave Toshiya the gift to communicate with him through water to stay in contact and to warn each other in case of any emergencies.

I have to communicate quickly, here in heaven things are getting strange….’

Tell me.’

Several Angel classes are sent to earth, high security contingent… They expect an Angel of… to… be reborn… maybe soon'

'Daisuke, I can't hear you!'

'Be careful.... demons on earth!'

And with that the contact broke and the Angel stood motionless on his sink, working on the information he just got.

It was an unusual chilly day and the clouds tinted the gray city even more gray. Although the city was flooded with people at this time of day, Toshiya headed outside to get a clear head. Two reasons made him do so: To get out of the building which reminded him too much on what was going on recently and secondly, he wanted to scan the city for any possible supernatural ongoings. During the process he hoped to maybe find Karyu on his way but it was quite unlikely. Passing all these crowded streets and green parks, Toshiya couldn't help but notice how well he saw ghosts and lost souls on his way, wondering if he always saw them so well. Most of them were weak and already fading so he just passed them without any interference.
Lost in his thoughts, Toshiya entered a little alleyway to escape the busy street. He walked deeper into the old street when he suddenly froze to the spot. Call it instinct but about 15 meters away a creatures materialized. Tall male, white eyes, crazy black hair and all clad in black. An artificial creature which looked absolutely lethal. Toshiya thought about the Angels of Revenge because this thing looked like the Demon category to it. The creature smiled devilishly at Toshiya and started talking to him in his head.

^You ought to know the creature who kills you: I’m Közi.^ And it started running.

Christ! Toshiya bolted into the direction where he had come from. People obviously couldn’t see the creature running behind him because they only scolded Toshiya for running over things. In a moment of panic Toshiya wished to be invisible again… and it happened. At least he'd figured that out. He turned into another alley way and the noises which came from behind made him shiver. The Demon who followed him sounded like a rabid dog. Its noises inhuman and its paws heavy on the pavement. This Demon must be a shapeshifter because he looked quite human-like at the beginning. But why was it him being chased? Did Mako have something to do with it? Or maybe Zero's death? While running like a mad man, Toshiya turned around to check on the distance between him and the creature. After he turned his attention back to the street he nearly slipped after running into somebody. He caught himself and so did the young man who ran next to him.

Ryutaro?!”

Taro looked at Toshiya while they were both running for their lives.

Toshiya! What-?!”

A creature from hell… hunting me!”

Me too!”

Another creature with long black curls came running from the alley they had just passed.

It said its name is Yu~ki… I never asked for it!” That was Taro for you.

So the two creatures obviously belonged together and they were on a hunt for protégé. They chased the two protégé together, directing them into a direction. Toshiya scanned the area and saw an old office building. So that was their plan.

Toshiya changed to mental communication mode. ^Listen Taro! That rooftop is our only chance to call for help!^

^Okay!^ They entered the old building and headed for the staircase. Behind them the glass wall burst into thousands of pieces, the demons obviously didn’t bother to use any doors. Taro winced while they climbed the stairs like mad. They could never make it up to the roof. Shapeshifters were incredibly fast.

^Faster Taro!^ Toshiya yelled behind him but he was better off with his long legs. Taro was close to cry, exhaustion getting the better of him. Behind them Yu~ki was running but Közi, the shapeshifter had disappeared. Where was he?!

They bolted through the last door on the 13th floor to the very edge of it, eying the metal door. Yu~ki followed shortly after them and when Toshiya turned around, he saw Közi taking shape and grabbing Taro around his throat, ready to drill his sharp fingernails into him. Although Angels couldn't die a mortal death, immortal damage could hurt so much more.

TARO! NO!”

Toshiya bumped into Közi with his shoulder and they both fell over the edge of the high building while Taro fell down to the ground. Közi opened his demonic wings and lifted himself up in the air while Toshiya's body fell deeper and deeper. Taro's voice pierced through the air. “TOSHIYAAA!”

Everything was over. He would vanish from earth and wake up in heaven as a failure while the Demons would kidnap Taro… no… no…. NO… NOOO, NEVER!!!

Toshiya’s body crumpled together while he fell, unspeakable pain shot through his body, his eyes became red and with a loud scream, only meters away from the ground, a skeleton frame of wings sprouted out of his back, followed by white feathers and two large angelic wings formed. With a quick move he flew a curve high up into heaven again. Flying as if he’d never done anything else. It felt so good… he felt so strong and reborn. And there he was: A true, reborn Guardian Angel, filled up with unknown energy and his eyes beamed red at the scenery in front of him. Taro looked at him in amazement and so did the other Angel next to him, Karyu. The Demons were gone. Toshiya landed on the rooftop and Taro came running towards him and hugged him around his stomach, stammering 'thank you' over and over again. Toshiya patted him on his head and made sure that his friend was all right.

Look at you!” Karyu smirked and came towards them.

So glad to see you.” Toshiya told Karyu while he still kept on holding shocked Taro. “ Where are the Demons?”

They were running, God knows why... cowards.” Lost in thoughts for a moment, Karyu turned his attention back to Toshiya. “Your wings are awesome… Congratulation son.”

Toshiya looked strangely at Karyu who realized his failure. Crap, now of all times he slipped the information.

What are you saying?”

Karyu scanned the air for help. “Jeez, they never told you, I should have known.”

Never told me what?”

Karyu looked back at Toshiya with the sharp face of him. He was never a liar and never held back any information so he came out with the truth. “I made you Toshiya… well, on earth that is. The first time you reincarnated on earth. I’m your biological father.”

By the look on Toshiya's face, nothing could have surprised him more, not even his new wings. His hands cramped into Taro's shoulders whom looked surprised himself between the two Angels. “You are not kidding?”

Never did.”

That’s impossible…. that would mean… Oh.My.God… Christ! I mean, you and Shinya?! No way, nooooo way... why?!” To Toshiya it made no sense, knowing Die being so possessive about his mother but the truth was that Toshiya was in fact adopted a long time ago from Die and he never knew his real father. Well, that confession explained it all.

It was a long time ago Toshiya… I lived a terrible life. Nothing to be proud of, except of the outcome and that was you.”

Shocked as he was, Toshiya slumped down to the ground and Taro followed him, held onto his arms.

So… you and Shinya… were like a thing?” The young Angel stammered.

Only once.”

Does Die know?”

Yeah, the Cherub knows. But we talked it out... More or less.”

Toshiya looked up at Karyu. “Is that the reason why you were there all the time?”

Karyu looked troubled himself. “Christ, I wanted to tell you when the time was right… but yeah, I guess.” Karyu offered his hand and after hesitating, Toshiya took it and Karyu pulled him up from the ground.

You are something special. I knew it all along.” Karyu smirked at Toshiya and pointed at his eyes. “And I know that Shinya is dead-proud of you too. Especially now.”

Taro looked up at Toshiya too. “Totchi, your eyes are red.”

What?!”

You are a wing healer but you already know that. It's a rare gift but not your true profession. The red eyes only come with one category of Angels: The Angels of Death.”

The what?”

Angels of Death are soul collectors. If a pure or innocent soul dies, an Angel of Death fetches them to bring them up into heaven.”

And it fell like scales from his eyes. Mako appearing around him, him seeing ghosts and souls more clearly lately. “I never thought....”

A chip off the old block.... your mother is an Angel of Life. Shinya's so gonna burst... Anyway, whenever you're in action, your eyes become red.”

What about the wings? Are they constant?” Toshiya touched his own wings in awe and couldn't help but wonder about its softness.

If you want them to disappear, they will.”

Toshiya sent out one thought and they really disappeared. “Great, now I feel so much more badass.”

Karyu rolled his eyes. “You're definitely hanging out with me too much. Shinya's gonna kick my ass.”

Toshiya smiled but turned his attention back at Taro who looked at him in total awe.

Taro, don’t look at me like that.”

Thank you so much for saving me!” Taro hugged the taller Angel again and he smiled.

It was Karyu…”

The both of you.” The little one added.

I didn't really do anything. They disappeared shortly after I arrived which is strange.” Karyu made a thinking face, finding all of this very fishy. “Anyway, next time you call out for me RIGHT AWAY, you understand?”

Yes dad, I will dad.”

Karyu shook his head. “Christ, really....” He tousled his hair. “I still can't believe it myself. But your tall body size is proof enough, plus your strength and your charisma of course, all my traits.” Karyu smirked and Toshiya rolled his eyes.

And the very best things I inherited from my mum I guess?”

Of course.”

Karyu turned around and waved up in the air. “Next time, you call for me!” And with a gust of wind, Karyu had disappeared.

From a safe distance, the secret Demon Angel Reita observed the whole situation and he drew his conclusions: Protégé Toshiya finally earned his wings which made him a fully proofed Guardian Angel now. But days before that he was attacked by mind reader demon Zero, Demon of Death Mako came into contact with him and earlier the ‘Special Field Action’-Demons Közi and Yu~ki were after Toshiya and Ryutaro… that was very strange, suspicious and made no sense. It was well known that Demons loved to tease young Angels on earth but all this seemed like a whole new category of something even secret Demon Angel Reita couldn't grasp.

The invisible Angel disappeared from earth and traveled back to the spheres of heaven to report everything he'd witnessed to Metatron Kamijo.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



Toshiya bumped into Közi with his shoulder and they both fell over the edge of the high building.

Hakuei up in heaven stopped in his tracks and he gripped onto his chest in pain. It was an unknown feeling of pain which felt like his dead heart beat in shock and it buzzed through his head. He lost balance and slumped down to the ground. Shinya, who was right next to him at the moment caught him at his arm before he completely lost it as he was wrinkling in agony. “Hakuei! What is it?!” And he completely passed out. Shinya slumped down next to him in panic and cradled his head on his knees, calling for Hakuei over and over again.

The unconscious Angel saw everything out of Toshiya's eyes. The fall, the wings spreading out his back only seconds before he hit the ground and him lifting up majestically into the air and on a rooftop, Karyu and Taro looking back at him, at this red eyes. And then the vision was gone again. Hakuei was only granted to see so much. He drew in a deep breath and opened his eyes again, staring into Shinya who leaned over him.

Hakuei?! What happened?! Are you all right?!”

Toshiya...”

What about him?!”

He got his wings...”

Ohmygod!”

And red eyes.”

And they both knew what that meant. “Impossible...” Shinya stammered while Hakuei slowly leaned up from the lying position on Shinya's knees. He remained sitting on the ground, his arms leaned over his knees. The petite Angel touched Hakuei's arm and looked at him worried. He knew that something wasn't all right with Hakuei, that's why he met him today and the other days before. It seemed that only Shinya had noticed that the once so proud and strong Guardian Angel started to withdraw himself from everything. Life, friends, any social contacts....

You know....” Hakuei finally started. “It's just like it used to be. Him being on earth and I'm watching him from a distance, making a new life...”

Without you in it?”

A long pause followed.

Without me in it.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

I can’t await for you to meet Tadashi!”

And Toshiya welcomed the distraction. He really needed some time away from his apartment and he happily obliged to follow Taro into town. On the other hand he would have done so anyway after all the commotion earlier. Now they were better off together, just in case something else could occur.

They entered a well known Park and Taro kept on talking and asking Toshiya a lot of things about his own protégé and his temporary life on earth. Taro was just happy to have met a friend in his immediate surroundings and Toshiya was glad too. Ni~ya wasn't really there next to no fun to be around with.

In fact I'm living with Ni~ya's protégé on the same floor!”

No way! How is Ni~ya?”

His old self I guess.”

Oh.”

Yeah, he's invisible to his protégé so I hardly see him... which is no loss I must confess. He was rather rude the last time I contacted him.” Taro touched him on his arm sympathetically. “At least I'm happy to have you again.”

Toshiya smiled back at Taro who suddenly forgot space and time and ran over to a blonde guy on a bench. Tadashi, a blond art student with tousled hair and thick glasses on, stood up with a smile on his lips when Taro skipped towards him.

Hey Taro.” Tadashi smiled and by the colors of Tadashi's aura Toshiya got it immediately. They both beamed at each other, forgetting about Toshiya when the tall Angel finally cleared his throat.

Oh Tadashi, that’s my good old friend Toshiya who recently moved to Tokyo. I just bumped into him this morning.” Literally.

Nice to meet you.” Tadashi greeted him friendly.

Pleasure is all mine.” Toshiya added. “So what are you guys doing the rest of the day?”

Art school,” Ryutaro answered, “that’s where we've met.”

Toshiya lifted one brow. “Ah I see.” So Taro's disguise was art school while he himself was a host boy and personal assistant to a clan boss. What a career he had made. Taro turned his attention back to Toshiya while Tadashi looked lost in his thoughts into the air, still holding his sketch book in one hand and a pencil in the other. He was really a peculiar little fellow and seemed not quite there. Tadashi murmured something they both couldn’t understand, then he pulled out an apple from his bag and looked at it. “This apple…. It’s so… red.” He started drawing it.

You see, I'm fine.” Taro said and he sincerely was, Toshiya could tell. “What about you?” Taro wanted to know.

Let's meet another time and I will show you where I live.”

That would be great.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Later after Taro and Toshiya had left, Karyu returned to the rooftop where they had been attacked earlier. Because Karyu, as an Angel of war, knew that culprits always returned to the crime scene. The wind played with his golden brown hair and strands of it fell into his face. He leaned against his spear, smelling the air, feeling the energy surrounding him. He didn't get why these Demons only chased the protégé. What Karyu never told them was that Demons of this rank could have easily killed them off with the blink of an eye but they didn't. Instead they were hunting them.... Why?

What an honor….”

A deep voice started talking behind Karyu's back and he whirled around. It was Yu~ki.

“… to finish off the Angel who killed Zero.” Közi finished it, he stood opposite of Yu~ki and Karyu stood in between the two of them.

Karyu smiled. “Aaaaah, I see. Now I get it.” He paused. “You know, I hate breaking it to you.... But that bitch deserved it. Attacking an Angel to be killed, guess what? You will be killed in return. It's the law of nature.”

That’s very brave of someone so obviously..... in danger.” Yu~ki started walking around his prey and so did Közi.

Says the Demon pack who only attacks in pair and innocent Angels on top of it.”

Yu~ki smiled a devilishly. “You have no idea.” And at the same time a paralyzing pain hit Karyu at the back of his head. His long spear clattered to the ground and disappeared, like it always did when loosing Karyu's grip. The tall Angel tried to hold himself up on his feet but the magic attack paralyzed all his senses and he went limp.

You blood-dy c-cowards-” He pressed out before his view became black and went unconscious.

 

Chapter Text

 Song to this chapter: 08-My profession is your decline

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--GkEfOH-L4&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC&index=8

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 22

 

My profession is your decline

 

 

 

 

And Toshiya thought that he had problems with Kaoru. Finding out that Karyu was in fact his biological father only added to the strangeness, not to mention recent attacks and God knows what. After meeting Taro this morning, he made his way back to his recent home with laaaarge detours in between, maybe to spend some extra time outside, or maybe to spend some more time alone. He still couldn't figure out what to think about his recent situation with his protege who was not only physically strong. Toshiya also feared that Kaoru could overpower him, suck him dry, drain him.... this 'job' could cost him a lot of energy and maybe even sanity. A foreboding feeling which left a bitter taste on his tongue.

Did Hakuei know about all this? What did he actually see or even feel in heaven? Since Toshiya left heaven they haven't been in contact and it strangely left an empty space somewhere inside of him. To him, Hakuei had always been impeccable and strong and although he seemed all cool to the outside, inside he was lovingly and warm. That was something Toshiya discovered after spending enough time with him, a fact Hakuei maybe didn't even seem to know about himself but what made him only more loveable.

Now after being apart, Toshiya realized how much he got used to being watched over and cared for. A feeling he never knew before and admitting it, he got used to it only way too fast. Coming home and being alone again was something he knew from his past life but the warmth of somebody at night was a luxury one should cherish because it could be over way too soon. Hakuei made him the soul he was today, carried him through the hard times, believed in him when no one else did.... he owed him everything... everything.


Feeling hurt for no special reason, Toshiya pulled up the black hood of his coat and covered his head from the increasing rain. Noises started to echo louder because of the wet streets, the city dirt started to become alive and drenched his trousers. Passing the busy restaurants on his way, he suddenly came to a halt. He felt his eyes change into his knew gained red vision and he entered an old house behind the main street in natural reflex. He passed the closed doors with ease when he became invisible and stopped in a tiny, old living room of a strange woman.

She was nearly dead, her soul slowly leaving her mortal body.

“Are you taking me with you Angel?”

She wasn't supposed to see him. Toshiya lifted down his hood and looked back at her.

“I will send you back to a place full of love and light.”

She smiled. “That sounds…. good.” And then she closed her eyes and her soul dissolved from her body. Toshiya stepped closer and took the soul in between his hands. He whispered a rhyme in a language he himself had never heard before. The soul dissolved and Toshiya knew that he sent it back to heaven.

The red eyes faded and he came back to his human-like senses, taking human shape again.

In shock, he looked at his hands and only slowly realized what he had done.... what his gift really was. And he remained standing there on the spot, breathing in the feeling of death..

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Down in hell, Miyavi informed Sugizo about the overdue arrival of Yu~ki and Közi, Special Demon Guards of Gackt's army. A devilish smile formed on Lucifer's lips when the two Demons dragged in the unconscious Angel.

Sugizo stepped down from his throne, enjoying every moment of success in his long strides. With a cold look he looked down onto the limp body in his Demon's arms..

“So that's the bastard who killed Zero.” He gripped into Karyu's hair and yanked up his head, studying Karyu's sharp features.

“Put him into the dungeons and make sure he's chained on tightly.” The Demons left and Sugizo addressed Miyavi behind him. “Miyavi, I've got a special task for you on earth... my shapeshifter.”

Yu~ki and Közi dragged Karyu out of Sugizo's hall and they went down, even deeper into the pits of hell. They entered a very long and dark corridor, passing countless cells and closed doors. A sudden shift in the air made them both stop and turn around. They bowed down immediately.

It was Kirito, the Dark Lord's son himself... they got caught.

“Kirito-sama.” They answered in unison while the Prince of Darkness walked towards them, each step echoing like a dark threat through the cold corridor. Kirito wasn't of large height but it was something in his aura, a single look which promised that he could seriously damage within the blink of an eye. They all feared him and his sudden eruptions, not to mention his boundless, dark powers.

Kirito looked down at the bundle of unconscious Angel while he addressed the two Demons.

“You should have come to me first.” He hissed under his breath.

They bowed again. “We’re terribly sorry.”

Kirito ignored them and with his black leather gloved hands, he lifted up Karyu’s chin and looked him into the face.

“So that’s the one.”

“Yes Master,” Yu~ki answered, “we will throw him into the dungeons.”

“Contact me as soon as he’s awake.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Too long he has been observing his every step... the way he combed his hair behind his ear, the sudden gasps in between breaths as if he had to remind himself of breathing, the shy smiles to his colleagues, his slow but elegant moves.... Kaoru studied his new employee like an insect. A rare butterfly which he had found in between the dirt of the streets. And he picked it up and brought it back home with him, into his private collection. Into his club where Toshiya was working for him now. Some may think that this fragile butterfly could break under Kaoru's big empire but he personally would make sure that nothing ever happened. He belonged to his collection now.

But Toshiya was not aware of any of those facts. Too naive for Kaoru's gazes, too young to realize what wanting and possessing is.

Kaoru wanted Toshiya from the moment he lay eyes on him. He wanted him in his collection like he never wanted any other butterfly before. Of course he met dozens of beautiful people before, men and and women alike but it was something within Toshiya that shone bright and made the others look like pebble in comparison. And the most alluring of it all was the fact that Toshiya was totally unaware of his effect on others which made him even more pure and precious. He maybe felt a gust of guilt but sooner or later he would possess him. Come what may.

Being extra cautious of Toshiya, Kaoru approached him one day.

“Toshiya?” The young man jolted by the warm touch on his shoulder and turned around.

Collected, Kaoru looked back into those eyes which hunted him at night.” Is everything all right?” He seemed all business, like always.

Toshiya looked surprised back at him. “Yes, why?”

“I just wanted to let you know, if there is anything ever bothering you please come and talk to me. There is nothing which can't be solved.”

Toshiya gave one of his rare smiles. “That's very kind of you but I'm fine.”

Hasty nods followed with an almost whispered 'thank you' before Toshiya disappeared as fast as he could into the kitchen. OF COURSE Kaoru knew about Toshiya's shy nature but it didn't help his smitten awareness of him at all.

And Toshiya, as naïve as he was, didn't realize any of these inner turmoils Kaoru was fighting with. To him he was the perfect polite gentlemen and his approach an attempt to get to know his protege better.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Dark, heavy eyes looked out of the window. The wind blew raindrops against the glass and the temperature outside felt like a reflection of his heart. In reflex, Hakuei encircled his knees with his arms and he pulled his legs closer, nuzzling his nose against them, closing his eyes, living the moment in silence.

It was a rainy day in heaven which was rear but also necessary. Usually Hakuei hated the rain but today it just felt perfect.... an aching pain which wandered down his throat to his chest.

Suddenly, a warm hand touched his shoulder tenderly. Startled, he turned around and found himself looking into a warm pair of eyes, the auburn hair making them shine in beautiful green although there was hardly light outside today.

“Hakuei, are you all right?”

“Shinya.” Hakuei stood up and gave the petite Angel a hug.

“I was concerned about you.... You are hardly attending the official meetings these days.”

Hakuei knew that and felt too sorry for himself to deny it. He could have told Shinya why but honestly he didn't really know himself. And yet it seemed like Shinya was able to look through him completely.

“You miss him.”

It was an understatement.

“Hn.” Was the most stupid answer he could come up with.

“You love him.”

Hearing the words said out loud send a shock through him. “WHA-?! What gives you that impression?!”

Shinya smiled sweetly at himself. “You better ask me what gives me NOT that impression.”

Was he that obvious? Too obvious in the actions he didn't show, too obvious in the words he didn't say and too obvious in the glances he made with or without him.

He settled down on his windowsill again, crossing his arms in front of his chest. He was a mess and pitiful on top of it. The one fact he knew was true and he still denied it to himself.

“Well maybe it's natural to feel attached to ones protege and-” The young Angel looked into a very annoyed glare from Shinya which made him stop his half-hearted excuses. Beaten, Hakuei looked down onto his hands and Shinya continued. “It's all over you. It's in the way you talk and are silent. Trust me, I know... and I'm happy about it.”

Shinya went down on his knees and took Hakuei's hands into his. He looked up at him into that heavy, sad face. “I owe you everything Hakuei. Without you, Toshiya would have been lost. You saved him in so many ways I never could....” Shinya wanted to say so much more but he knew that it wasn't his place to. “... but I'm afraid it is his choice.”

Hakuei looked back at Shinya.

“You have to tell him how you feel.”

Hakuei sucked in a heavy breath. “You know... I....” He let go off Shinya's hands and stood up. Nervously he walked up and down the tiny room. “It's hard. I wish he just.... knew.”

“When the right time comes he will know. Make sure to tell him how you feel too.” The rest of Shinya's unspoken words would have been 'because you never know.'

It was still hard for Hakuei to admit it to himself. Not that he was a coward when it came to feelings... well maybe he was too... but he was more concerned about his role in this game. He was a Guardian Angel, someone in a leading position and to look up to and becoming 'all soft' on someone he had to be responsible for, it was not that easy for a controlled soul like him.

“Sometimes Guardian Angels and Protege fall in love. And sometimes Protege fall in love with their Protege on earth. It is the Protege's choice what to make of it. That's their power. They still have the right to choose. A life in heaven or on earth.”

Hakuei didn't comment on that. He knew about Kaoru and early on Hakuei had discovered the looks that human gave his Toshiya... HIS Toshiya. Great, now Toshiya was already 'his'.

“No matter what happens Hakuei, you are part of our family. Surely you must know that. I love you like a son.”

And it was the first smile in days when Hakuei embraced Shinya. “Thank you so much.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Karyu slowly opened his eyes. His view was blurry and his head hurt like hell… the roots of his wings felt numb because of the paralyzation. Moving was almost impossible since they chained him down in some dark and filthy chamber. He heard voices outside but was still to weak to make them out. Slowly he moved into a sitting position.

And he knew exactly where he was. The energy in hell was different from the one in heaven which naturally weakened any Angel entering the sphere. With pain, the last moments on earth replayed in Karyu's head… the two Demons who kidnapped him but strange voices outside made him focus on what they are talking about.

“… he brings more and more souls down here….”

Souls? Karyu wondered. Only Demons of Death brought souls down to hell.

“Yeah, we never had so many souls down here. I wonder what they’re planning to do.”

“Me too…. Must be because of the whole Prophecy-thing with the teleporter. I tell you, everybody’s going nuts and at last there will be war. But if you ask me, with all these souls our army will be the strongest.”

Karyu tried to concentrate on his magical power but it was hopeless in hell. Mighty Angels were able to act in any spheres but in comparison he was still an apprentice. Exhausted, he slumped back on the ground and some plaited strands cared over his face.... a reminder of someone far away. He wondered how long it would take heaven to discover him gone.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Gackt, Leader of the Demon Army and on his mission on earth, walked unseen by anyone mortal through the city. Clad in his dark uniform and with a large wolf by his side. Yuana was never a soul to talk much and when he did, they talked in thoughts.

In front of one building, Gackt suddenly stopped and he looked up to the roof.

'Wait here, I will be back soon.'

The wolf settled down and Gackt unfolded his demonic wings. He flew high up into the air and landed gracefully on the roof top. It seemed as if that someone was waiting for him.

“Kazu, Angel of Revenge…” Gackt nodded slightly. Kazu had a similar position in heaven like Gackt in hell. They were both leading the fighting class of their worlds and yet their encounters were luckily rather rare.

Kazu nodded back. “Gackt, long time no see. What brings you here?”

“I could ask you the same question.”

“Well,” Kazu started, “someone has to look out for our young Angels, since they’ve become main target for your kind…” Kazu realized Yuana waiting at the entrance of the skyscraper. But he wasn’t alone either.

Gackt hissed under his breath. “You can thank your own Angels for that.” Gackt was referring to Zero’s death.

“He left us no choice.” Kazu said and in the same moment, ‘Karyu’ appeared next to him. Gackt was surprised about his sudden appearance.

“So you’re the one who killed Zero….” Gackt looked the Angel in the eyes and realized immediately that it was Miyavi. He smiled knowingly. “Well, I gotta go Gentlemen.”

“So soon? I thought we’re having a conversation.” Kazu said.

“Some other time. See you, Kazu.” And Gackt jumped off the skyscraper and flew into the distance.

Everything hell did these days was extremely fishy. And Gackt being on earth together with Yuana was more than suspicious. He looked back at 'Karyu'.

“Did you notice something Karyu?”

Instead of his all time witty or annoying answers, Karyu simply shook his head.

“You're not talking much today, eh?”

Fact was that as a form changer it was dangerous to give false information away, information he couldn't possibly know.

“Maybe it's because you're missing someone special?” Kazu was referring to Hizumi. Their 'kind of relationship' was well known among good friends and totally obvious for the not totally blind.

“No, why?” Was Karyu's answer.

Kazu nodded. “All right. Well look, I have to go up into heaven because of some business talk. I want you to stay on earth and have an eye on our youngsters. We will be back from heaven at midnight. Meet us here then.”

Karyu nodded and Kazu took off. In no time he was back home and entered the portals with quick steps. He fought countless Demons during the wars and he smelled it when something was wrong.

“Kazu?” Hizumi behind the portals realized the Angel of Revenge returning early and he looked at him with worry in his face. He had this strange feeling that something was not all right and when it came to Karyu it unfortunately mostly proved to be right.

“Not now Hizumi!” And Kazu passed him and took the turn onto the corridor of Kamijo's hall.

Meanwhile, Kamijo was talking to his secret Angel Reita, the Demon Angel and heavenly spy no one knew about. He came back to Metatron to tell him about his observations from earth and the news were most interesting. They talked in thoughts with each other since Reita hasn't used his voice in decades. It was about Demon's wandering the surface and rumors about an higher ranked Angel taken hostage.

In that moment a loud knock on the door broke their contact. It was Kazu's alarmed voice and Kamijo waved Reita off.

“Come in!”

Kazu stormed in and came to a halt. “Karyu is gone!”

“What do you mean?”

“I talked to him earlier but it wasn't him. It was a form changer.”

Kamijo stood up in shock. “Are you sure about that?”

“Absolutely sure. I know Karyu and this being took only his form. They took Karyu. Karyu is gone.”

“They wouldn't dare.”

“Well, in consideration of the fact that he killed Zero...”

Kamijo narrowed his eyes. “What’s that Form Changer doing now?”

“I don’t know. I couldn't possibly bring him up with me into heaven.“ Kazu said. “I left him on earth and I told him to meet me at midnight.”

“Very well. Then let's hope that he will be there. But you won't go there alone. That situation is grief and taking an Angel hostage is impossible. I’ll send Seraph Kazuki with you.”

Kazu widened his eyes. “But Metatron-sama he…”

“Taking an Angel hostage is one thing but stealing his identity is treason on our kind. They are working on a greater plan here. We have to find out what it is.”

Kazuki was a Seraphim, one of the three mightiest Angels in heaven and the only Angel of time, able to control time.

“And Kazu?”

Kazu turned around one last time before leaving.

“Make sure that this form changer returns Karyu.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



Deep down in hell, Karyu awoke like from a deep long sleep. The dark magic slowly wore off but he was still weakened from the devilish sphere and unable to use his strength. The darkness and smell was almost unbearable and the strange voices and noises only added to the strangeness of this place.

He had no idea what time or day it was or for how long he had been asleep. No one seemed to care about him either which made him wonder whether he has been brought here to be forgotten. If the others knew about his absence? What about Hizumi? He always worried too much, that strange Angel.

Fact was that Karyu hat no idea that Miyavi, the form changer was walking around with his features, not mentioning about the plan from hell or why they brought him here.

With a loud creak, the door to his cell opened. Közi and Yu~ki entered, releasing Karyu from his chains and helping him out the cell into the corridor. Karyu’s eyes were dazzled by the dim light and he felt weak. They dragged him up many stairs and along countless corridors. Karyu noticed the carpets becoming thicker and the halls wider. After a long dragging around they entered the last hall after a careful knock. In a wide black decorated dramatic room, at the very end of it a Demon stood up from his throne.

“Dark Lord Kirito-sama, here’s the Angel you asked for.”

Kirito nodded and Közi and Yu~ki dropped him on the floor. With a wave of Kirito’s hand, they left the hall again. Kirito walked towards the Angel. The aura around him was mighty, almost palpable.

“So you are the proud of Gods army…” He looked down at Karyu whom was still kneeling on the floor and the Angel looked up at him. Of course he knew who Kirito was. The Devil's son himself.

“Didn't know that I had this reputation in hell.... What do you want from me?” He coughed out loud, not shy about his tone.

“You? Nothing.” Kirito walked around Karyu. “I want to know what Lucifer wants from you.”

“Well....” Karyu took all his strength and stood up, standing insecure on his weak legs. “Maybe he took it personal with the Demon-killing.... by the way, sorry about that.”

Kirito narrowed his eyes.

“Usually I can hold back my temper,” which was an outright lie, “but he threatened my son, hope you understand.”

Kirito remained silent and by his gaze Karyu couldn't tell whether he liked or disliked what he just heard.

“I will make you an offer.” Karyu started.

Kirito looked amused. “What is it that YOU can offer ME?”

“A very important information.”

Kirito thought a moment about it. “I could torture it out of you.”

“Nah, surely you must know that we are resistant to pain.”

“Not the mental one...” A sadistic smile on Kirito's face and Karyu thought about how he could protect Hizumi and Toshiya at the same time.

But Kirito shook his head. “Medieval times... Your freedom for your secret.”

And Karyu grinned.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was close to midnight and the moon shone bright onto the high roof tops of dark Tokyo.

Kazu and Seraph Kazuki were already on the meeting point of the roof. They both said no word, waiting with anticipation for the wrong ‘Karyu’ to show up.

“He’s coming, I can feel him.” Kazuki changed his eyes into a violet color. “I’m hiding.” Kazuki became invisible.

The wrong Karyu landed on the roof top and now it was Kazu's turn to pretend as if everything was normal.

“Any news?” ‘Karyu asked.

Kazu looked at him. “Indeed….” And from one moment to the other, Kazuki reappeared behind Karyu and seized him only with his willpower. Immediately the false Karyu realized that his disguise had failed.

“Show us your real face, form changer!” Kazuki hissed from behind while Kazu stood in front of him.

An insane laughter with a strange voice. “What is my face to you? What are you planning to do?”

Kazu lost his cool and he slapped the form changers face hard before he pulled him further up on his throat. “And you will bring the real Karyu back to us!”

“Kazu, stop!” Kazuki screamed from behind while he still seized the form changer with his willpower. The stroke though brought back the form changers real face, Miyavi. In that moment, Gackt and Yuana appeared on the roof top. The wolf growled in a deep tone and Gackt didn't look happy either, especially after finding a Seraphim here.

“You’re threatening a high class demon? Let him go!” Gackt shouted.

“You are holding an Angel hostage and we want him back, now.” Kazuki answered.

Gackt looked surprised because he indeed didn't know about it. Maybe he heard something on the wind but no details were discussed with him. That was purely Lucifer's business.

“All right.” Kazuki started anew. “Since we are not making any progress here, we are forced to take the form changer with us and we will call in for an official exchange in heaven with the highest representatives attending.”

Gackt battled with himself but realized Yuana sensing something in the air. The wolf lay down on the ground when a portal formed and Yu~ki and Közi appeared, holding a weak but alive Karyu in between. They all looked at them totally astonished. They tossed Karyu on the floor and Kazu hurried over to him and helped him up. Reluctantly, Kazuki let Miyavi go and the form changer ran over into secure space between Yu~ki and Közi.

“There will be consequences.” Were Kazuki's last words before he disappeared together with Kazu and a half unconscious Karyu.

 

Chapter Text

Songs to this chapter:

06 – Carnival of Lies (Hell's theme)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YLfI5sJQSQ&index=6&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

07 - -soil- (Kaoru & Toshiya's theme)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2cUyANaL4U&index=7&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 23

 

The Carnival of Lies

 

 

 

Being popular wasn't always good.... It could taste bitter, very bitter.

Toshiya made this experience soon after the race was over and when they were all back to their normal working days. It started with the younger staff ignoring him at work and answering to his questions shortly or not at all. The elders ignored him altogether because he was the lowest in hierarchy anyway. When he wanted to change his clothing after work, he found them on the dirty floor. But it became really concerning when clients asked him to be served by other colleagues. After a while, Toshiya found out that they badmouthed him even in front of the clients and that was really too much.

They bullied him at work. In a sneaking but hurtful way. Soon, no one talked to him anymore but Toshiya couldn't possibly tell Kaoru. Because it would result in Kaoru talking to the staff and they would only hate him more afterwards.

It was a hopeless situation.

Reaching that point, Toshiya even thought about quitting and disappearing from Kaoru's life.... well at least the visible way. Maybe Ni~ya's way in looking after ones protege invisibly was not too bad after all.

It became even so bad that Toshiya started to ignore Kaoru as much as possible. He only answered his questions quickly and avoided eye contact. When Kaoru was his usual flirty self, it was even harder to stay all business and being short with him.

Of course Kaoru realized the changes. Which forced him to act since Toshiya only gave him half-hearted excuses.

It was a busy night on the weekend and Kaoru's club was full with people. His hosts were all hard working, including Toshiya who wore a sad face behind his artificial smiles, or at least Kaoru could tell. The music was loud and plenty of alcohol served. The atmosphere was all party and the air was sticky.

That was when the electricity came down and everything went off. Moments later the lights went on, laughter and conversations died down and everybody looked around and up the stairs where Kaoru suddenly appeared.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this party is officially over today due to personal business. We kindly ask you to leave our establishment and want to thank you for being our guests today.”

Puzzled, customers and staff, people acted kind of automatically like robots. Customers collected their belongings and streamed outside the doors.

“I want my staff to remain here in this room.”

His voice was cold and absolutely business-like. Sheepishly, the old and young employees gathered in the middle of the room, everybody feeling guilty for a crime they yet didn't know of but no one dared to ask or say a single word. Something like that never occurred before.

Kaoru looked down on them from his position above on the stairs which lead into the main restaurant. Toshiya felt like they gathered underneath him like sheep, ready to be slaughtered.

“I'm watching this for a few weeks now.... how people are changing like the weather. And let me tell you this: One drop of oil pollutes all the water. The water you are all drinking from.”

Deliberately, Kaoru walked down the stairs into his bar and stopped in front of his twenty-something crew. He looked at all the faces which were either looking around the room or down to their feet sheepishly.

“Something inside our circle is poisoning my business and I won't tolerate any of this. I don't know why and who started it and I don't care. But I can tell you this: If business is not back to normal until the end of next week, I will keep the financial damage from all your wages until the poison in our midst has died down or I will personally take action. Did I make myself clear?”

Deep bows from all the staff with no word spoken. Only Kaoru's steps echoed through the room, up the stairs again.

“You are dismissed.” And the door closed loudly shut behind him.

Guilty and embarrassed, the employees started cleaning up the bar and restaurant. Toshiya and Sakito did so too but all they exchanged were doubtful glances. Sakito had no idea what Kaoru was referring to but Toshiya knew exactly about Kaoru's little coop. This had nothing to do with money because that he obviously had enough... this was about personal matters.

For the first time, Toshiya felt the urge to actually talk to Kaoru. He didn't really know about what but he had this urge to, well, maybe comfort him? Telling him that everything would be all right? He was his Guardian Angel after all.

As inconspicuously as possible, Toshiya sneaked around the establishment, outside the corridors and onto the floor where the private apartments were but there was no sign of Kaoru. In the midst of walking around, Toshiya came to a halt and concentrated. He was an Angel after all and should be able to feel his protege's energy.... he concentrated, tried to locate Kaoru but to no avail. He must have left the skyscraper completely.

Sticky and sweaty, Toshiya walked up a few more floors until he reached the roof of the building. The fresh air was an welcomed change and the bright stars at night something that calmed him down and made him sentimental, reminding him of home.

Exhausted from the stressful night, he leaned against the reeling and looked down.

A voice in the dark startled him almost to death but the warmth in it soothed him immediately.

“It's just me, calm down.”

“Kaoru! I was looking for you everywhere!”

Was it too honest? Toshiya could almost feel the surprised expression on Kaoru's face in the dark.

“Why?

“I was... well concerned.”

A husky breath. “Then you are the first. All the others are scared.... so scared of me. Are you not scared?”

“Me? No, should I?”

“Oh yes, I'm a dangerous man.”

“I know but not to the innocent.”

An awkward pause followed but Toshiya couldn't interpret it. So he took all his courage and asked about Kaoru acting that way earlier.

“So you knew?” Toshiya referred to the bullying and him being excluded.

“I'm not stupid Toshiya. I know my people and I see and hear everything.”

It was only an assumption before but now he had the proof that this was about him being dissed the past few weeks.

“I will do my best! Please forgive me if I disappointed you.”

Footsteps in the dark and the smell of tobacco came closer. The wind suddenly stopped caring over his face and his cold cheek suddenly felt warm. “You are the innocent here and I protect the innocent right?” Toshiya could literally feel the warm smile. “Didn't you say so yourself?”

A hesitant nod, followed by puzzlement that it should be Toshiya protecting the innocent and not the other way round. Plus the older, alluring man standing way too close to him. It was his scent, his aura... he was a very charming man and Toshiya too young, too inexperienced in literally everything.

“God you make me do things I never did before.”

Before Toshiya was able to ask, the sudden feel of cold, firm lips on his own took all his breath and sense away. Kaoru's tight grip under his chin forced him to stay still, giving the older man all the control he needed while Toshiya hold onto his arms clumsily.... he was frozen to the spot in shock by the sudden intimacy and from himself when his eyes slowly closed and his lips automatically parted. A moan escaped his mouth when he felt Kaoru caressing him with his tongue. He kissed him deeply once, twice, three times before Kaoru pulled back, turning away from Toshiya immediately.

“I shouldn't have done this. I'm sorry.”

Kaoru left the baffled young Angel behind. Only the loud shut of the iron door woke Toshiya from his state, his fingers touching his warmed up lips. His head was completely empty and only one question came into his mind: What happened?

He felt dizzy.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Kamijo stormed out of his hall inside the holy spheres as soon as he realized that Seraph Kazuki and Kazu had returned from earth. His steps echoed inside the corridor of the holy halls, passing the meeting halls and walking straight to the Seraphim hall where Aiji and Kai were already waiting.

Meanwhile, in the distance at the heavenly border, Cherubim Hizumi saw the two Angels returning and Kazu was holding someone in his arms. It felt as if all of Hizumi's life force was sucked out of him at once. His spear clattered down to the floor and Die, not far away from him, started yelling behind him.

Hizumi reached Kazu with Karyu on his arms and he touched the fainted Angel's face. “Karyu! Karyu wake up!”

“He's weakened from dark magic. We need to see the Seraphim at once.”

They didn't stop walking and left a baffled Hizumi behind whom was joined immediately by Die who comforted him. Their steps echoed into the holy halls until they were out of sight.

“Kazuki, finally!” Kai said when they entered and Aiji closed the doors behind them. They settled Karyu down onto a long couch. Kazu and Kazuki stepped back while Kai settled himself down next to Karyu. Kamijo observed everything with a very critical eye and Kazuki joined him.

“They kidnapped him, reason unknown.”

Kamijo nodded. “We will see what Karyu has to say about that.”

Meanwhile, Kai placed his hands over Karyu's chest, starting the healing process. As the only one among the Seraphim he possessed the strength to heal dark magic.

And as if he knew something, Aiji walked over to the door and opened it. Seconds later, Hizumi appeared totally out of breath, his pain showing in his eyes. Aiji looked back at Kamijo who nodded and Hizumi stepped inside.

Shaking and totally nervous, he stepped next to the couch and observed Kai healing Karyu. He jolted when a hand came to rest on his shoulder. It was Aiji, the Seraphim and Angel of Moods who felt every change of energy and mood in the air. Only by his slight touch, he calmed the nervous Angel down and his silent but shy smile made Hizumi believe that everything would be all right.

Kai was their best healer and as such he stood above all the other healers, the wing healers like Toshiya included.

“He will be all right.” It was Kai who spoke up. “I nearly got him.”

Hizumi nodded nervously.

“No offense but you looked a thousand times worse than he does right now, Hizumi.”

Hizumi looked at him in disbelieve. “What? When?”

“We were all there when Kai healed you from Demon Zero's attack…” Kazu said from behind them and the mere thought of it sent a shiver down his spine. It was not only a mere death experience, he WAS dead and only Karyu and Kai acting so quick brought him back to this afterlife. Although it nearly cost him his eye sight, in fact his eyes stayed all white ever since.

“Thank you again for all you have done to help us.”

Kai nodded under his concentration.

Aiji stepped to the door a second time and opened it without a comment. Archangel Kami stormed in with his usual stressed face and he looked over to his secret lover Kai. No one inside this room knew about them having feelings for each other, well, except of Aiji of course who left it uncommented.

“Metatron-sama! Is everything all right?” Kami's gaze switched from Kai to unconscious Karyu to stressed out Hizumi to the calm trio of Metatron, Kazuki and Kazu.

“Hardly. We will have a talk later with all the Archangels too.”

Kami nodded.

“Hizumi,” Kai said, “come on over and hold onto Karyu's hand. We need all the energy we can get and it will make him feel better.”

And Hizumi happily obliged.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Toshiya stood beside himself. He felt different but at the same time everything was unchanged. The world was the same like yesterday but maybe it was his point of view that has changed. Into what he didn't know himself.

There was not a single chance of getting any sleep last night, everything in his head was working and countless repeating and thinking. How did it get so quickly out of hand? Was it his fault? Did he give Kaoru the impression that it was okay to act this way? And how did he feel about it? Sure Toshiya was shocked, surprised and yet.... he didn't feel all bad. Maybe it was the first time he ever felt kind of connected to his protege. Times with Kaoru were never easy. He was impossible to read, to access and even talk to. Thinking about it clearly now, there was little Toshiya knew about his personality. Kaoru kept his facade up like the perfect businessman he was.

Only yesterday evening he let his guard down for a single moment and it came so unexpected that it shocked him.

How should Toshiya react towards him now? Soon he came to the conclusion to act as if nothing had happened because now it was him who had to keep up the facade. In fact, the idea to silently leave Kaoru's life and watching him as an invisible Guardian Angel, started to make more and more sense.

The season started to change and the nights and days became cooler. Toshiya pulled up the zipper of his coat after he tiptoed out of the building. Making a turn in town, observing what was going on on the astral level outside and maybe having a talk with Ryutaro later. He turned onto the main street and his eyes changed into a red color without him being able to control it. He had become invisible too and his senses were on high alert. Demon intrusion and a very familiar one on top of it.

Mako! Toshiya thought and to his regret he saw someone familiar passing him in this moment. Sakito, running, as always too late for art school. Just at that moment the air started to shiver and with an invisible power, Toshiya sent Sakito with a strong wind force against a wall into the nearby alley. Ni~ya who was not far out of reach started yelling at Toshiya. They were both on the same astral level now, being invisible to the world.

^Are you out of your fucking mind?! Never touch my protégé again!^

^Silence!^ Toshiya turned from furious Ni~ya back to the center of the street, looking into the air where Mako appeared floating and smiling at both of them with pure insanity.

^Ni~ya, take Sakito and run.^ Ni~ya was perplex, not knowing what was going on…^RUN!^ Toshiya yelled and miraculously Sakito took another direction and Ni~ya followed.

The Angel of Death and the Demon of Death glared at each other like the rivals they were.

“Why are you here?” Toshiya started and observed the floating Demon precisely.

^Well well Toshiya… impressive. You will make a decent Angel of Death one day.^

^Stop talking Demon and tell me why you’re after all this dead souls!^ Toshiya interrupted.

Mako gave one of his insane high laughter. ^Tell me what are YOU doing with all these souls?^

^I return them home, into eternity which is their very birth right but you…^ He paused. ^What are you doing with them?!^

Mako laughed out loud again. ^And you think that I’ll simply tell you about it? Oh no, no, no, no, no, you have to earn the answer!^ He made funny movements with his head.

^I’ll keep you from collecting dead souls.^ Toshiya said with a sincere tone. Now that was a threat and Mako stopped laughing. ^You can try but you.will.not.succeed.^

The moment the last word was spoken, Mako started flying high up into the air, ready to snatch up the dead soul he came here for in the first place. Toshiya unfolded his majestic wings and he followed Mako high up into the air. Toshiya was close to become the lead but his senses came back into reality when he felt something hard shooting through his feather wings, leaving a hole and pain behind... a gust of dark magic. Too heavy for his new wings to bear. They became numb and Toshiya started falling. Before he closed his eyes, he heard Mako laughing mean and screaming after him.

^The hunt is on!^

And Toshiya’s view became black.



Meanwhile, call it intuition, a harmed Angel of Revenge opened his eyes in reflex and he sucked his breath in deeply, leaning up into a sitting position and holding his head. The bright light hurt his eyes and a cold hand followed to his forehead.

He knew that touch as he knew the smell of the room.

“Hizumi.” Was all Karyu could whisper before his face was covered with a tight hug.

“I was so worried about you.... you stupid Revenge!”

“I missed you too.”

“Shut up Karyu. I know exactly that you at LEAST were partially at fault for getting into that situation.”

Karyu remained silent for a moment which was rare. These days he started to think now and then which was something new for him too.

“Hizumi it’s my job. And besides, your job almost cost you your life too.”

“That was different then. I try to avoid danger and you are running right into it.”

“At least I can say that things have been taken care of.”

Hizumi looked back with his penetrating white eyes at Karyu. “What have you done? What happened in hell anyway?”

“I can’t tell you all about it.”

“Why not?”

“Because it's business and I won’t put you in danger unnecessarily. And no discussion.”

Hizumi had an inkling. “You killed Zero.”

“What if I did?”

That was Karyu's way to say yes. Hizumi was shocked but more for Karyu's stead. Now everything slowly started to make sense and why Karyu was abducted in the first place. Hizumi moved out of Karyu’s arms and sat down onto his bed.

“He has threatened an Angel on earth and I did my job.”

“ And what happened then?”

Karyu stayed silent for a moment. “Hizumi I really can’t tell you all about it. It’s for your own safety.”

“WHAT happened?”

Karyu breathed out loud. “They took me hostage and I talked to some very important Demons down there-” Like remembering something, Karyu stood up. Still a little shaky but able to stand. “I have to talk to Kazu and Kamijo, now.”

“Now?”

“There is no time.” Karyu said while he made his way to the door. Before he opened it and was able to be out of Hizumi's life again, he stopped when arms encircled him from behind. He paused.

“I will respect your decision. But promise me one thing….” Hizumi nuzzled against his shoulder blades.

“One thing.”

“Come back to me. Always.”

Karyu took both of Hizumi's hands and kissed them. “Promise.”

And he left.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Metatron-sama had called in for a special meeting right after Kai was done helping Karyu. The discussions already lasted for hours and there was no end near.

“Well I guess we are even now…” Kazu said.

“That is no excuse to take an Angel hostage!” Kazuki was still furious, also because the Demon's behaved rather cocky and rude.

Kazu explained again. “Karyu killed Zero, I know that he did that out of defense but he hit a sore spot with that. In return they took him hostage.”

“But why?” Kazuki said. “They should have come straight to us! These kind of actions are quite immature, even for hell.”

“They surely wanted to hear about heavenly secrets, concerning the prophecy.” Kazu reasoned.

“And what if they did?” Aiji asked.

“Now you are underestimating the Angels of Revenge. We would rather die than betraying our kind.”

Knowing Karyu, Kami who sat in the back coughed out loud. Mana listened interested while hide played with his hair. Kyo meanwhile tried not to be affected too much about Kami and Kai being in the same room and stealing glances of each other now and then. He still wasn’t really over with Kai being with Kami. For that he has been in love with Kai for too long. Too long he denied it to himself, too long he played the cool and stayed single. Until it was too late to claim Kai for himself.

Yes, it still hurt, very much.

A knock on the door and Kamijo looked up surprised when Ruki entered. ‘Kindel’-Angel Ruki was responsible for every course of human life and rebirth. He was a loner and always working on its own. He needed no one and barely talked to someone, except of Kamijo sometimes who stood up now surprised.

“Ruki?”

“Kamijo, my dear fellow Angels.... I’ve made a very important observation about the souls entering and reentering heaven and about the structure of rebirth.”

“Then tell us.” Kamijo offered politely.

“The structure of rebirth very slowly started to change. It was slow at first so I didn’t notice but with certainty I can say that more souls are leaving heaven than entering it again, plain: We’re running out of souls.”

Kamijo looked strange at him and also the Archangels looked at him in disbelieve. What was this supposed to mean?

“Do you mean.... They are stealing souls from us?!” Kamijo asked in disbelieve. “The law between heaven and hell says that there must be a balance of souls in heaven and hell… it’s the Angel of Death’s and the Demon of Death’s task to handle that!”

Kazuki thought ahead. “Then what’s wrong with the Soul collectors?”

A moment later, the infamous Angel of the day, Karyu, entered the meeting hall and Kazu gestured him to take a seat next to him.

“Apart from the status of loosing souls, let's hear what Karyu has to say.” Kamijo turned his attention to Karyu.

“Well, where to start…”

“Zero?” Kamijo said.

“Right. The Demon attacked without reason protégé Toshiya on earth… I just happened to be there because it is my responsible area. A Demon attacking a young Guardian Angel is an absolute no go so I interfered. I threatened the Demon to leave the Angel alone and since he decided to torture my nerve system, I first pierced him with my spear and then I decapitated him.” Karyu swallowed the game over which he wanted to add so desperately.

But it was Kami who blurred out. “That’s nice.” And the Seraphim glared not very amused back at him, except for one who tried to hold his smile.

“What happened next?” Kamijo asked. Ruki whom was sitting next to Kamijo listened very interested too.

“After I returned to the location the same day, two mighty Demons ambushed me and took me hostage. They said nothing important only that it’ll be an honor to finish off the Angel who killed Demon Zero….”

“This sounds like an order from someone.” Kazu said.

“I don’t know who ordered it. What happened next was that they threw me into a dark cell down in hell after they put me unconscious with dark magic. Now and then I woke up and I observed a conversation between Demons which bought me free.”

“How so?” Ruki asked.

“What I can tell is,” Karyu said with a sincere voice, “that the whole system down there is threatened to fall.”

Kamijo looked in shock back at Karyu and so did the others.

“They are collecting souls to bring up an army, some Demons in the Dungeon said. That was all the information I got and I told Kirito. He counted one and one together and since he never knew about hell collecting too many souls, Kirito concluded that SOMEONE was building an army to fight a war but maybe not necessarily against heaven...”

And the Angels understood what Karyu was trying to say.

“They are using the prophecy for a putsch inside their own ranks.” Kazuki said.

“And who was always interested in getting more power?” Ruki remembered and Kamijo said it out loud.

“Lucifer. That damn Sugizo! I should have ended his existence when I still had the chance to!” Kamijo hit with his fist onto the table. Because a war in hell meant trouble in heaven too.

It was dead silent inside the room.

Ruki summoned it up. “A group of Demons is plotting with Sugizo against the Lord of Darkness’ son, Kirito, to bring him to fall. Soul collector Mako collects as many souls as possible to bring Lucifer onto the throne of Atsushi’s son.”

“That’s so inconvenient, especially now with the prophecy and a possible teleporter, the 'cross' to be reborn. Timing couldn’t have been worse.”Kami realized.

“In fact it's very clever... Sugizo has always been very clever when it was for his advantage.” Ruki remembered. “Which Demons are involved into Sugizo’s plan? Do you know?”

Karyu started. “It must have been Zero, then Yu~ki and Közi because they kidnapped me and Kirito didn't order them to...”

“Then the form changer Miyavi, as he took Karyu's form.” Kazu added and Karyu looked at him baffled because he didn't know.

“And did he look exactly like me?” Karyu wanted to know.

“Sure but I should have known from the start that it wasn't you because he was too silent.”

Kami and hide laughed out loud but silenced with Kamijo's stare.

“I would also guess that Gackt and Yuana play a certain part because the appeared when I met you as the form changer.” Kazu added.

“Don't forget about Tsukasa.” Kamijo said. “He is with Sugizo all the time and was Zero's partner in crime.”

“Yeah Tsukasa, wonder what he's doing these days.” Karyu wondered.

“What a revelation.” Kamijo started again. “Sooner or later I have to talk to the Dark Lord, Atsushi about it. Although he surely already knows because Kirito must have told him.”

Whispers filled the room. The Archangels were whispering to each other except of Mana who communicated with them in thoughts. The Seraphim Kai, Kazuki and Aiji communicated in thoughts as well.

Ruki spoke out loud. “Now it’s only a question of time when things will be set in motion.” He gathered his books and papers.

Kamijo looked at Ruki. “What are you implying?”

“I think that hell will be occupied the following days to prevent their own putsch… a good chance for us to investigate in the prophecy and maybe even find the ‘cross’ before them.”

“We have to. God knows what they would do with a teleporting being who’s able to travel all spheres freely.” Kamijo added.

Kami spoke up in the name of the Archangels. “Metatron-sama what can we do?”

“Firstly we will continue with research here in heaven, especially in the Akasha-chronicles. But be prepared to maybe go down to earth as soon as we need you to. The Seraphim will maybe join you now and then.”

They nodded.

“The Angels of Revenge will have to leave later that day. Be prepared to report any changes to us immediately.”

Kazu and Karyu nodded.

“Who’s soul collector in this specific area right now?” Kamijo wanted to know.

“It’s my son.” Karyu answered. The Angels looked back at him in utter shock as they didn’t know about it while Kamijo rolled his eyes, wondering what Karma could produce.

“… Hakuei’s protégé Toshiya.” Ruki said. As Kindel-Angel he knew all Angels by name.

“… and Shinya’s son.” Karyu added just for the accord. It was silent before the Angels put the pieces together.

“Karyu?!” Kami burst out at first and almost fell off his chair while Kai stared at him in total surprise. That was too much information on one day, for all of them.

“Any problems with that?” Karyu asked nonchalantly.

Kami cleared his throat. “No… of course not.”

“Kamijo-sama I insist of looking after the soul collector myself.” Karyu demanded. Kamijo looked back at him in doubt.

“I don’t know if that's such a good idea. The both of you are personally too deep involved.”

“Kamijo-sama,” Kazu finally spoke up, “I have no doubts that my substitute is able to handle all that professionally. I totally entrust this task to him.”

Kamijo trusted Kazu. “Very well. You know a lot about the ongoing already so that could be advantageous. Okay Karyu, you return to your area now.”

“I will.”

“All the Angel’s of Revenge will return to earth immediately.” Kamijo ordered.

Kazu and Karyu stood up and left the room with a last bow.

“And the Archangels are going back to search for possible clues in the Akasha library.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Slowly Toshiya regained consciousness again but his gaze was still unclear and his head and back hurt. Especially his back because of the dark magic Mako attacked his wings with earlier. He wanted to lift himself up but was still unable to move. The world around him was spinning and his senses still felt numbed. Slowly he heard a familiar voice next to him, calling his name. With all his concentration Toshiya made out a delicate figure leaning over him.

“Toshiya? Toshiya?! Are you all right?!”

A warm touch on his chest and over his forehead. It was Taro and the shadow over them came from Taro's new wings which told him that they were both invisible.

Toshiya blinked with his eyes a few times before he croaked. “Where am I?”

“We’re in the middle of the city park.”

“What happened Taro?” Toshiya lifted himself slowly up.

“I was here in the park with Tadashi for drawing lesson when I saw you falling down from heaven. I died a thousand deaths, I can tell you.”

Toshiya looked back at Ryutaro in utter surprise. “You got your wings! When?”

Ryutaro smiled and looked down shyly. Only by force he told the story of rescuing a little kitten. Toshiya couldn't believe it.

“And I almost died receiving mine during a Demon chase, thank you, Karma.”

Taro patted Toshiya on his back. “Can you stand?”

The look on Toshiya's face showed that he was absolutely unable to do so. Pain shot through his wings' nerve system. “I have to heel myself first.” Energy surrounded him, covering his whole body and wings and the pain slowly died down. Taro was amazed witnessing Toshiya's healing ability for the first time.

“Wow, you’re looking good again.”

Toshiya stood up and Taro did so too, looking in the distance to the place where Tadashi was still seated and drawing. “Well, where were you headed?” Taro wanted to know.

“In fact I wanted to visit you before Mako attacked me.”

“And now he’s gone?”

Toshiya nodded. “I better get back and try to contact someone in heaven. That interference has to be reported.”

“So you're not gonna join us?” Taro asked and Toshiya wondered when 'me' became an 'us'.

“I will escort you back to your lesson. Let's meet another time and have a talk in private then.”

“Sure.” Taro couldn't help himself but wonder that there was something else too.

Dreamily and not really there, Tadashi was all occupied drawing when he heard his name chirped in the distance from his best friend. He looked up with his thick glasses on and waved over to them. Toshiya was no stranger to him and they exchanged their greetings when another familiar face smiled back at him. Sakito, taking lessons with Taro and Tadashi. Politely, Toshiya and Taro stepped over to him too but when Toshiya got a swift glance into Sakito's sketchbook, he was taken aback. In thoughts he communicated with Taro and he immediately recognized the drawing too.

The picture showed a half nude, androgynous young man with small wings on his back and silky strands of black hair touching his shoulders. His gaze was empty and sad. That was clearly Ni~ya although Sakito has never seen him before in person.

So that was what people call inspiration.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

The cold autumn air played with his shoulder length hair. Tall as he was and with his fighting spear, Karyu stood on the rooftop of one of the tallest buildings of Tokyo and looked into the night. With his angelic gaze he was able to see through the darkness, to see the visible and invisible forces. Angels and Demons woven through all society, existing parallel to humans. It was their task to keep an eye on 'things', reporting suspicious beings and actions.

But these days the energy was dense. Every immortal being felt that something was building up but no one was able to name or imagine what it could possibly be. The highest ranks talked about the prophecy but how it might turn out to be, no one knew.

All Karyu knew was that he had to protect what was important to him. Friends, family.... he always saw himself as a loner who never needed someone or something in his life but under the current circumstances he could name a few which grew quite close to his heart.

The farewell earlier this day was rather.... heavy. It was Karyu's job to travel spheres if his job required it but he would have never thought that a pair of hurt eyes could hunt him so deeply.

The flashback from earlier played in front of his inner eye.

Karyu…” Hizumi opened the door and saw the look on Karyu’s face. “What’s wrong?”

Karyu shook with his head, the longer hair covering one side of his face. “I’m sorry Hizumi, I really wish I could stay longer but…”

Hizumi’s shoulders slumped down. The disappointment was all over his face. “You have to leave again?”

Karyu only looked back at him.

Are you coming in?” Hizumi stepped aside.

I won’t. I should be gone by now.” His answer sounded more harsh than intended. Why was he always so stiff when it came to feelings?

Karyu was sadly astounded which emotions eyes could carry. Hurt was added to the disappointment and Hizumi's aura changed to feeling cold. Karyu sensed something else '.... he missed me...' But as an Angel of Revenge Karyu was taught from an early age on to feel not attached to anything or anybody as every mission could mean their end. The rest of his good heart was beaten out of him during training either on earth and even in heaven.... but no one outside the Revenge-circles knew about that. It was their code, their secret. But Hizumi should never hear of this. It was his own stigma. His medal of honor so to speak.

Then go.” Hizumi collected what sense was left inside of him, sounding reasonable.

Good bye then.” Karyu turned around and walked away when he heard a little sob from behind and the door closing slowly.

Karyu cursed at himself and turned around quickly, pushing the door open with one hand and pulling Hizumi onto his chest with the other. He nuzzled into Hizumi's hair and the smaller Angel started shaking in his arms, leaning with his face into Karyu's neck.

Never say good bye, never!” Hizumi hit with his fist against Karyu’s chest but the taller Angel shut him up by kissing him deeply, pulling Hizumi into him by holding onto his neck, his hair. It was a tear-streamed kiss and Karyu slowly let go.

I have to…”

Hizumi nodded and Karyu stepped back. “I'm fighting for you, for us. For all of our future.”

I know.”

I will be back, wait here for me ok?”

A shy smile from Hizumi which was answered by Karyu saying: “You’re only making it harder for me.” Then he turned around and walked away.

I hope so!” Hizumi yelled after him. Karyu smirked at himself and waved up into the air. He didn’t turn around a second time. He feared to see that demanding face standing there and waiting for him.


End of flashback.

A cold breeze brought him back to the present and he recalled his mission to forget about his feelings: Finding the soul collector from hell, talking to Toshiya eventually and finding out what hell was planning to do on earth.

Sounded like hell of a lot to do.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Toshiya returned the same evening with Taro to his home to have some quality time with his friend. But Taro was whining the whole way because Tadashi couldn't join them. The reason was equally funny because the blonde art student had to feed his south sea fishes. Taro, of course, totally understood and Toshiya was privily happy to have his friend to himself because he desperately needed his advice about his complicated situation with his protege. Not that he disliked Tadashi, on the contrary, he was the most calm and yet surprisingly strange artistic human he had ever encountered.... no wonder that it was hard to find these two separated.

And Toshiya secretly smiled at himself about the fact that these two grew so close together in such a short amount of time... OF COURSE he would interview Taro about that development later too.

They entered the big skyscraper and waited for the elevator to come. Taro couldn't help himself but to wonder about the prosperous place as he was living at the dormitory in a single bedroom only. Sheepishly, Toshiya admitted that the place was owned by his protege and Taro gawked in surprise.

They got off at Toshiya's and Sakito's floor and just before Toshiya opened his apartment door, he stopped when they both sensed a familiar, invisible present at the end of the corridor. Taro turned and became invisible and so did Toshiya. It was easier to have a conversation that way.

^Hey Ni~ya!^ Ryutaro greeted friendly. Fact was that Ni~ya didn't show himself earlier in the park because Toshiya came along. It was strange because now he leaned against the wall as if.... he was waiting.

Ni~ya pushed himself off the wall and greeted Taro and Taro only. Just because everybody liked Taro.

^Hey Ryutaro, you here?^

^Yes, visiting Toshiya… pleasure to see you again.^

Ni~ya nodded politely before his dead cold eyes turned up at Toshiya. If gazes could kill but Toshiya didn't surrender to it, he started a conversation instead.

^Today we’ve seen Sakito’s drawing.^

Ni~ya looked as if a delicate topic has been displayed. They both realized it immediately and Taro added. ^It’s really nice, inspired work Ni~ya.^

^I just wondered... did you inspire him on purpose?^ Toshiya asked because the resemblance with Ni~ya was without any doubt but it was Taro who realized how provoking the question must have seemed coming from Toshiya. ^And you still don’t wanna show yourself to him? Why?^

Taro bit his lip because the conversation was about to slip.

^That’s entirely my business and nothing of your goddamn concern! Stop asking me that question! Look at yourself! You’re avoiding your protégé all the time… maybe it would have been better for you to stay invisible too!^

Toshiya took a step towards Ni~ya and Taro automatically landed behind the arguing Angels.

^I happened to become visible automatically! Better than hiding all the time and moping around for nothing!^

Taro looked helplessly from one argument chasing the other. This conversation was long overdue.

^Better being on my own than burdening all Angels around me with my business!^

^What do you mean by that?!^ Toshiya put his hands onto his hips. ^You’re just jealous because I get along better with my Guardian Angel!^ Toshiya meant Hakuei because it was no secret that Ni~ya didn't like his Guardian Angel Ruka in heaven.

^Haha! You're call this 'getting along'? You’re hanging on him like a limpet without realizing how heavy you can be!^

Ni~ya made a few good points here but no one would have admitted to that.

^Better than running from your responsible Guardian Angel and not getting along AT ALL!^

^Look who’s talking! I’m not taking advice from an Angel who is unable to look after his own protégé!^

Toshiya gasped in anger. ^At least I do my best to integrate into this world rather than running and hiding in it!^

Taro looked around but it was stupid as no one could see or hear them anyway. It was just an old reflex.

^You glued Hakuei to yourself like a spoiled brat in need of a toy without even considering his feelings!^

Toshiya opened his mouth to retard but nothing came out, he was shocked. He felt like crying all of a sudden. Did others see him and Hakuei that way? Toshiya collected himself and narrowed his eyes.

^Tell me: What is it that you hate so much about me being with Hakuei?^

^That’s none of your business!^

^Are you jealous?”

Now Ni~ya's eyes widened in shock. This must have hit a nerve. ^Jealous? Of YOU? Certainly not. It's just that I know about Hakuei's feelings-^ He paused but it was already out.

Toshiya looked in utter surprised. ^So? What do you know? Come on, tell me!^

^There’s nothing to tell. It was a long time ago…^ Ni~ya didn’t like the direction the conversation was taking. ^Just so that you know: I would have done anything for him! Anything! And you treat him like a dispensable toy… your attitude makes me sick!^

Toshiya was speechless, shocked and hurt about all the revelations. Could it be? That Ni~ya and Hakuei.... had a history? Impossible. He should have known, realized it.

^But he never wanted me… and I swear, Toshiya, if you’ll break this noble Angel’s heart, I’ll beat you up in every lifetime I can find you in! He’s better than all of us together!^

The two of them remained silent because everything seemed to be said. Taro took his chance and he took Toshiya by his elbow. Taro nodded at Ni~ya and he gestured Toshiya to come along. The tall Angel did as his friend gestured him too, still numb from the clear confession of Ni~ya's feelings towards him and especially Hakuei.

Paralyzed, Toshiya slumped down onto his bed, the shock and pain almost devouring him. Pity about himself being hurt and most ardently about maybe having hurt Hakuei with selfish behavior he wasn't aware of.

Toshiya was a mess, even more than this morning and his shoulders started to shake.

“Totchi.” Taro cared over the taller Angel’s back. “Don’t be upset about Ni~ya’s words. We know that he’s very rude.”

“No Taro, he’s right… he was so right with every word he said.” He covered his face with one pillow.

“You are a good Angel Totchi and you deserve to be loved…”

“No, I’m the worst. I hurt all of them. Hakuei, Kaoru…. It’s useless, I'm so useless.”

Taro tried to comfort him. “You know we all behave human sometimes and nobody’s perfect. We are no Gods but we can get stronger. You became stronger, right?”

Toshiya nodded slightly.

“And Hakuei is very proud of that…”

A sigh. “Well I guess….”

“I can tell.”

“I miss him so much…”

Taro breathed out. “I know what you mean….”

Toshiya remembered that Ryutaro had an even worse time saying good bye to Aoi when they left for earth.

“I’m sorry Taro for being selfish again… you surely miss Aoi very much.”

Taro remained silent for a moment. “I thought I would die when we got separated in heaven.”

Toshiya moved up from his pillow and he looked at Taro.

“Yes, it’s kind of a trauma from our last life on earth.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Toshiya was also bothered about an experience Ni~ya must have had with Hakuei at some point, or at least he mentioned something during their argument.

“But yet I live.” Taro added. “You know, sometimes we grow without even realizing it.”

Toshiya recalled that Taro's soul was in fact older than his. Which meant he was reincarnated more often on earth than he was. Seeing Taro in his Angel form made him look so young but as always appearance could deceive.

But at this point he didn't dare to ask how things were between him and Tadashi. Maybe it was still too early to ask that kind of question too.

“Taro, I wondered... do you know about the lifetime where Hakuei and Ni~ya possibly met?”

Taro shook his head. “Sorry, never heard of it nor knowing an Angel who lived in their lifetime.”

An ugly feeling welled up inside of Toshiya, something he has never felt before and couldn't name. All he knew was that the mere thought of them together made him almost sick.

“You better talk to Hakuei about it.”

“Yes.” Or Karyu, Toshiya thought. His father knew a lot when it came to past things. Which made him remember that he had to talk to Karyu.

“Oh no!” Toshiya said out loud. “I totally forgot to talk to Karyu about the incident today with Mako! But I guess he will be very busy. Since he killed Demon Zero the other day, things started to become strange....”

Taro popped up from Toshiya's bed and remained standing motionless in front of him. In utter surprise, Toshiya followed his friend’s movement. “Are you okay?”

“Zero? The mind reader from hell?” All Ryutaro was able to do was shaking his head. He tried to collect himself but he had to cover his mouth.

“OhmyGod, Taro! What's wrong?”

He shook his head. “N-no, nothing. It's just… Old memories.” A pause followed. “Is it certain that he is dead?”

“Yes, I’ve been there myself. Zero first attacked me and then Karyu which he didn't survive. He dissolved into ash.”

Taro breathed out loud and sat back onto the bed. “It’s like…. Like something old has been brought to an end. I wonder if Aoi knows about it.”

“Former life experience?”

Taro nodded. “Oh yes… and believe me I don’t mourn his death although it's not very angelic for me to say.”

“Do you want to tell me?”

Taro thought a moment about it. “Well, this is a long story...”

“And we will take the time which is needed.”

Taro breathed in deeply and pulled his feet up Toshiya's bed. He took a pillow and looked at Toshiya. Then he began to tell his and Aoi's story.

 

 

Chapter Text

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 24

 

The last life on earth

The Aoi and Ryuutaro Chapter

 

North Africa, 1805

 

 

I was a young boy... too young for an experience like that if you ask me. But even if I could turn back time, I still wouldn’t. When I’m closing my eyes now, I can still feel the hot sand underneath my feet, the sun burning merciless onto my black hair, my brown skin. And when I opened my eyes then, I looked over land which I had never left once in my entire life… dunes over dunes, sand everywhere, the hot wind played with my half long hair and the dark blue tunic on my body . In this life I was born a boy right in the middle of the Sahara in a City called Agadez. I was born there because my father stopped by in this city and then left again for months, even years.

He was a Tuareg. A man living in the desert, with the desert.

They traveled in groups, riding on their camels. Refugees in their own land. Nobody wanted to have business with them so they lived with the desert where no one else would dare to set foot in… except for bandits. They were known to be cruel and merciless. Stealing for their own selfish selfsinstead of working for it like the rest of us poor people.
My mother always had a hard life. But she never complained, not even once… she wanted to keep me from feeling upset and guilty, tried to make life possible for her only son, for me. The two of us lived alone in this old shabby little hut. Her parents died when I was still a little child and I helped and worked with her all my 20 years long. We sold the little vegetable we had on the market plus the baskets which my mother made with her old worked up hands.
I often wondered if she missed my father. I’m sure she did but she never said a word about him. He was a Tuareg, that was all I knew. It was unusual for women to have no man so we were outsiders from the very beginning of this story. But this kept us together. I loved and respected her very much and I knew she did too. I often wondered whether I reminded her of my father. Maybe my eyes or the voice… but she never mentioned it so I didn’t ask either. We struggled to survive every day and yet we were happy in this little old hut. We were free.
Very often I sat on this little dune behind our little house, when the sun already set and we were done with the day's work. I came to this place to look into the distance, at the Sahara which seemed endless and dangerous to me. And yet it harbored a strange fascination… I wondered how the world looked like behind all this sand, what kind of people, languages can be found behind my beloved land.

The Tuareg surely knew. All the people from the village couldn't satisfy my curiosity... and I knew that the Tuareg were in town these days, people were talking about it. Yet no one dared to get into contact with them because they were strangers to us although we all lived in the same land. A sad fact of course but essential for survival. They were dangerous. Soon I walked back and went to bed because I was tired from working on the fields. I dusted my clothes off from sand, undressed and blew out the little oil lamp in my room. Mother went to bed before me and soon I was deeply asleep too.

I will never forget this night because what was about to come no one could have ever imagined.

I woke up startled from loud noises I couldn’t allocate. I jumped off the bed and looked out the window. The whole houses around us were set on fire and enlightened the dark night. People were running around screaming, men tried to fight the intruders off, men on black and brown horses but they stroke down everyone who dared to cross their path with their long silver swords. I stood there on my window and looked at the scenario in utter shock, I couldn't move. Then I heard my mother screaming when our wooden door was kicked in and an animal of a man stormed in our house. Bandits.

“Mother, run--!” I couldn’t finish shouting when I was hit hard against the head and fell to the ground. In daze I heard other men entering but I couldn’t see them. My view got blurry and I only felt how someone picked me up and dragged me and my mother outside. They threw us into the sand. I was hardly dressed, only wearing a light cotton trouser and I heard men making fun of my fragile chest and arms…. In all lifetimes, I was never much of a strong and tall man. But now for the first time in my life I cursed myself for not being strong enough to protect my mother, my home. She cried when the man shouted out loud.

“There’s nothing to take here! Poor peasants!” He kicked sand at us. “Burn it!!

“NO!” I shouted out loud but was silenced by another stroke in the face which sent me down again.

“Let’s take the woman with us! Kill the boy!” Shouted one of them.

I balled my hands into fists, trying to stand up from the ground but I was still too dizzy to stand. I was so weak, God why? My mother started to cry. Her voice mixed up with the other screaming people, the noise of wood burning and breaking down, the disgusting laughter of these men.

“No, please! I beg you, please! Spare my son! ” My mother begged. One of the men grabbed her. That was when I took all my courage and managed to stand on my unsteady feet.

“Leave her! Leave her alone and take me instead!”

The men broke into laughter until the strongest of them said: “Come on guys, we don’t have time. Let’s go!” The others got onto their horses but in desperation, I walked up to the guy who held my mother tightly in his grasp. “Don’t take her!”

In no time the man threw my mother back into the sand and I felt a sharp sword against my throat. “You have no idea whom you’re talking to!!!” I held my breath but yet he didn’t slice my throat. I slowly opened my eyes and saw a man in the distance, sitting majestically on a black horse. It is strange to imagine how someone could sit majestically on a horse but that person did. A certain aura of awe extended from him, even in the darkness where we were only able to see his features. Like the men's faces, his was covered with a turban too.

“Get on your horse, we're leaving!” He commanded in an emotionless tone.

The guy kicked me back into the sand. I looked over to my mother who had shock written all over her face. No one dared to say a word and just before the strange man was about to disappear in the shadows again, he turned around a last time and said: “And don’t forget the boy. He offered himself in exchange… we are men of honor.” And he rode into the dark night, others came from all directions and followed him. The ugly man grinned and grabbed me. “No, Mum! Please, no!” I stretched out my arms but I was knocked unconscious .

That was the last time I saw my mother.

He must have thrown me over his saddle because when I woke up the next morning my stomach hurt all over. My lips and face were dry from the sand and dust, I could feel the sun burning on my stomach. I opened my eyes, blurry from the thirst and exhaustion. I heard laughs in a not far away distance. They were in immediate reach. Slowly I made out tents in the middle of the desert, their camels bound to poles. The men were sitting underneath a sun protecting tent all in a circle talking…. And all I was thinking about was water. Delirious I tried to stand up but with the first move I made I fell back into the sand. Like an animal's, they bound my foot to a pole as well. I heard someone snickering behind me so I turned around startled.

“Little girl!” The ugly guy said. It was the one from the night before. “What are you looking for?!” He screamed unnecessarily loud at me. I couldn’t help myself but to shiver like a lamb. Amazingly enough I stuttered. “W-water…” The guy laughed out loud, making fun of me. I can’t possibly recall his words, all I know is that my view got blurry and I saw the man walking back to the others. They seemed to get their things together to continue the journey… But I felt so weak. I was sure that I wouldn’t make it. A journey through the Sahara was something for strong and tough men, not for a tender twenty-year-old boy like me.
Out of nowhere I felt someone lifting up my upper body and steadying my head on strong legs. A hand wiped off the dust from my lips and forehead, an earthen bowl was put on my mouth, water spilled down my cheeks. “Drink.”
I swallowed clumsily and coughed from my lying position. The man pulled away the bowl. “Slowly, there’s enough to get you through.” It was an unknown and uncommonly soft voice. I opened my eyes slowly and glimpsed up into beautiful dark eyes eyes which found mine too but the rest of his head was covered with a black turban which showed immediately that this person was of a higher status. Only dirty thieves showed their mouths in public which was considered as extremely rude back then in our culture. The moment felt like minutes but he broke the contact by making me drink a second time and then leaving abruptly when someone called for him.

“Amenokal!” And my assumption was right. It literally meant ‘King’ so clearly he was their leader. “We’re ready to leave!”

The thieves packed their belongings onto their camels. “What we gonna do about him?” I overheard the man talking to their leader.

“I will take him onto my camel.”

The ugly guy hesitated but nodded in agreement before he jumped onto his own camel. What I didn't know then was that they had exchanged their horses for camels on a trading farm while I was unconscious because only camels were able to survive long journeys through the desert. I heard someone coming near me. I had my eyes closed all the time to pretend to be asleep, partially because I still felt very weak. I was more than surprised when I saw the Leader himself releasing me from the rope. He gestured me to follow him and what choice did I have? There was no running away from them because alone I would die. I was dependent from them.

“Here.” He tossed me a tunic to get properly dressed because I still only wore my night clothing. While I did that he climbed up his camel and stretched out his arm to me. I took it after I was done and he pulled me up right in front of his saddle while he was seated right behind me. Some of the men gave him strange looks, I could feel their hated glares on me and I definitely felt most uncomfortable too. All the attention didn't raise any false hopes in me. These men were bandits and they killed dozens of people and burned their homes down.

“We are going to Kadesh. You better behave if you don't want to be left behind in the desert.”

My eyes widened in realization. Kadesh. An important trading town back then in Syria and also known for their slave markets. A dark city, far away from home and even out of the country. It would take us weeks to get there.... That moment I realized for the first time that I would never see my hometown again, or my mother or any of my friends. All the former excitement for travel and distance drowned under this unfortunate circumstances. I was overwhelmed by fear and homesickness.
The man behind me grabbed for his reins and set the camel in motion. In the corner of my eyes I saw strands of long black hair escaping his turban but it didn't really matter. We rode almost the entire day through the Sahara and no one said a single word. We stopped now and then for short breaks to drink and occasionally eat something. Mostly we ate some kind of pulp without taste but I didn't dare to complain. I was glad I got something.

In the evening we stopped to build up tents for the night. The leader jumped down the camel and when I tried to do the same, weak as I was, I clumsily slumped down but was steadied before my body made contact with the ground. “Wait here.”

He put me onto my feet and bound his camel to a pole. Most of the time I tried hiding behind the large animal because I wanted to be invisible to these men. I was scared and horrified of them. So naturally I jumped when I suddenly felt something landing on my lap. He tossed me a drinking bottle and left to help the others with the tent. I luckily managed to hide well enough behind the camel as I would have been to weak to help anyway. Fatigue got the best of me and I fell asleep right next to the camel. Two arguing men woke me in the middle of the night and I observed their shadows flickering with flames of the fire where they were sitting around.

“He is my responsibility and I've got every right to sell him!”

I widened my eyes in shock. Clearly this conversation was about me and my presumptions just got confirmed. Next to the shock and anger another feeling came up. A feeling I least expected: Hurt. Of course I knew that these were filthy bandits but somehow I felt hurt, betrayed by their Leader who treated me human all this travel over. Now I know why: Out of profit.

“Why you?! I was the one who found him with his lousy mother! So he is mine!!”

Without anyone even noticing it, the Leader pulled out his long sword underneath his tunic and seized the ugly man with the sword under his throat. He spoke deadly slow and clearly: “If you want to continue traveling with us you better behave or I will leave you here dead to the sand and no one will know about it.”

I was the only one who witnessed it because the others were all asleep underneath the tents and they didn't see my open eyes. A nod saved the situation and the Leader let go off the guy who stomped furiously into his own tent. He although remained sitting in front of the fire, observing the flames and thinking to himself. And I was still staring. The whole situation had something beautifully private and intimate, a glare a person makes when feeling unobserved. After a while he stood up, thinking whether to enter the tent as well but he turned and came over to his camel where I was lying.

“You can sleep now, the show is over.”

I widened my eyes in shock and finally got into a sitting position. How could he possibly know? His eyes and senses must be very sharp and I memorized this observation.

“So you are selling me as a slave...” I was merely stating the fact.

“What were you thinking? Other than selling there is no use for a weak boy like you.”

Something inside of me broke. And it hurt even more than before. I knew about my physical condition and to be honest I felt like fighting with staying alive every single, tiring day. I stood up to him and looked him into his eyes which was very rude and I realized that he was one head taller than me. His mouth was still covered at this point.

“I could run away while you are still sleeping and guess what? I'm not afraid of dying in the desert! Better dying now then being a slave all my life!”

The Leader kept his posture and his dark eyes seized me. It was as if he was looking straight through me. He grabbed my chin and held me in place from fidgeting.

“Where are you getting this strength from?”

His question puzzled me and he let go off me when I didn't respond. He let go off me and turned around. “Go to sleep.”

“I want answers! Who are you guys and when-”

I fell backwards into the sand when he pulled the tiny sitting carpet from underneath my feet. He moved one knee onto my chest and covered my mouth with his hand.

“If you keep on yelling, my group of men will come out and do Allah knows what with you, little boy.”

His voice controlled but his chest moving from agitation, so he was close to loose his cool too. It must have been the need of air which made him pull away the cloth from his mouth and for the first time I saw his face. And it was not bad to look at. Far different from all the other scruffy guys. “You have no idea to what great lengths I went to keep you alive and unharmed. Be grateful or you will regret it in the end.”

Slowly I nodded while my eyes searched his face. He had that look which made you feel familiar about someone, as if you knew that person from somewhere but I have never seen him before. At this point I was even too scared to ask for his name. He moved down from over me and took his carpet with him while I was lying near the sleeping camel.

“Sleep now, we will get up early.”

He positioned himself somewhere between me and the fire while I took the animal's warmth like before. I just realized later that he was keeping guard in sleeping outside. For what? I didn't know, maybe his men, the animals? With his back to me he undid his Turban for the night and for the first time I saw long strands of black hair falling down his back. When he turned aside to check on me, the fire was only partially illuminating his face, the shadows showing his sharp features. For the first time I realized that there was something majestic in the way he looked and moved. His glare made me turn away obviously still sulky and I went to sleep.

It was destiny who turned the tide.

I woke up by a sting on the side of my rip cage. Startled, I jumped up and dizziness settled in almost immediately. A black scorpion was crawling away in front of me and I slumped back to the floor, feeling a threatening numbness in my legs. I fell on my back and breathed out in loud gasps while I started to panic. No one was there! I wanted to scream but I couldn't. My chest and lungs started to ache and my heart was pounding quickly. Tears started rolling down my cheeks and all I thought was: This is it. I will die here.

Just before I fainted completely I made out a shadowed face towering over me and I felt my head being picked up. I pointed at the sting on my chest and felt lips touching the spot and sucking out what was left of the poison. Then everything went black. I lost all feeling of time when I woke up many hours later. The incident felt like it happened a moment ago but I saw the stars in the dark night sky and felt a fire burning right next to me. For a very long time I didn't move and just rested with my eyes closed. Slowly I dared to feel for my hands and feed and they luckily moved. My chest was bandaged and I smelled some ointment coming from my chest. A voice not far away almost startled me.

“How are you feeling?”

I opened my eyes and looked to my right side. All the tents and camels around us were gone, only he was there with me. Another thing I realized was that he wore no Turban and his long hair hung wildly around his shoulders. At first I coughed before I managed to say: “Weak but okay I guess.”

A nod.

“What happened?”

“You almost died. We gave you some antidote.”

Slowly I moved into a sitting position and surprisingly he acted when I made motions to slip and fall back but I caught myself and turned around to sit in front of him. Ashamed from our last conversation and he catching me staring at him the night before, I looked down at the hands in my lap.

“Thank you, for saving me.” I didn't know what I was thanking him for really. For making me survive just that he had another chance to sell me? I did it anyway and he just nodded.

“Where are the others? What happened?” I asked

“They left.”

I was shocked. The two of us all alone in the desert? I was no expert in traveling but our chances for surviving shrank significantly.

“Why? Why did they do that?” It was stupid but somehow I felt guilty for him. The Leader abandoning his group because of.... me?

“Because we all would have died without water. They went ahead of us.”

“But how and when are we going to meet them again?” Wait... was I asking for meeting up with the other bandits? Fact was that I was scared of dying alone with this man and I realized that somewhere deep down inside of me I still had a will to life.

“That's my concern.”

“But what-”

“What's your name?”

I stopped asking and looked at him surprised, realizing that all this time over I only called him Leader. And he didn't call me at all.

“Ryutaro but Taro is shorter-”

“I'm Aoi.”

I was surprised by his sudden answer because it was a great honor for a peasant and newly made slave like me. I nodded in appreciation and couldn't help myself when I apologized to him.

“I'm feeling deeply ashamed for making you stay behind. It is my fault because I was bitten.... maybe it wasn't even worth it.”

He looked at me for a moment and chose his words wisely although he seemed no older than thirty to me. “I may look like a bandit to you but in my heart I'm still human. I'm not letting anyone die in my group.” It was beautiful and showed me an unknown facet of him. I bent down again in acknowledgment.

“When are we leaving?” I asked.

“Tomorrow morning.”

“When will we arrive in Kadesh?”

Now he hesitated. I began to realize the smallest things about him now that we spent some time together and that he wasn't one to talk much was my first observation.

“I'm not completely sure, maybe one week.” He wasn't giving away any of his thoughts and somehow I felt that there was more to all of this than he actually revealed. But I remained silent when he combed his long black hair to the other side of his shoulder and he stood up.

“We need to rest now. I will wake you up in the morning.” The conversation was over. We rode into the sunrise the next morning, my hands still cold from the night. I sat in front of Aoi on his camel and because I was still feeling weak and sleepy, I fell asleep on the camel now and then because of its movements. Every time I woke up embarrassed when I found myself leaning against Aoi's chest but he didn't say a single word. It was just before sundown when we came to an oasis which seemed alarmingly familiar to me.

“Haven’t we been here before?”

Obviously not only to me. His silence was answer enough. Aoi jumped down from the camel and walked over to the oasis to fill up his bottles. I jumped down as well and bound the animal onto a palm tree. Over the time we spent together I also gained more self confidence around him. I lost my fear of him and somehow it provoked an irresistible urge to ask him all the questions I kept bottled up for so long.

“Aoi? Aoi, what do we do now?”

No answer.

“Aoi, I really get concerned about-”

He lost his cool. “I'm trying to think!”

“Just asking because slowly I'm starting to panic and-”

“Would you just shut it?!!” He shouted because I didn’t realize that I went to far.

“It’s okay, I will never ask again as I am only the slave here so-“

He jumped up from his leaning position and dropped the bottles. I was scared by his reaction but numb to move away. So he picked me up in his arms and tossed me into the pond of the oasis. My screaming stopped by the water I swallowed and furiously I stood up in the water which reached up to my hips. I hated water and being wet, not to mention the treatment which I most likely deserved but didn't want to admit.

“You're a barbarian!!” I shouted over to the dry shore. “Just because you’re too proud of talking to me!“

He undid his Turban and Tunic and again I bit my lip in hesitation. Just because I couldn't keep my mouth shut. Maybe I went too far again and my guess proved right when he entered the water as well, fury all over his face. I shrieked and turned around to cross the small pond to reach the other side but since running in water was impossible and he taller than me, he got me on my wrist.

“Let me go!”

“You have to learn how to BEHAVE! Just because I saved your life doesn’t mean you can talk disrespectful with me!!”

“Let me go!” I cried out again and struggled which lead me to kick him accidentally into his stomach. And he gasped and hold it in need for air. I made him only more furious.

He dragged me out of the water but the unexpected hit still weakened him enough to make us both stumble and fall into the sand of the shore.... he on top of me. And for the first time I saw his eyes not being brown but in a deep dark blue. It took my breath away, as did his bony yet strong features all the way down my skinny body, pressing into me. I can still feel the drops of water falling down onto my chest, my face, his lips all at once kissing me hungrily and his hands grabbing into my shoulders and pushing me into the sand hard. I had my eyes wide open in shock but closed them when I responded with a moan, a thousand unknown feelings rushing through my body, making me act automatically. I encircled his back and pulled him closer to me, breathing into his mouth, tasting his tongue.
Almost brutally he pulled my head back on my hair and kissed his way down my throat which made me only moan more in utter bliss. I pulled up one leg as his excitement was pushing against my clothes and while he kissed and bite on my throat, one hand wandered down my leg... but he stopped when he was about to reach into my trousers. I looked back at him and he turned his gaze away from me. As quickly as we started making out, he moved down from me and into a standing position, turning his naked, well muscled back at me. He hold his forehead before he looked up into heaven and said out loud without looking at me.

“Excuse me for acting inappropriate.”

Of course I was hurt about him refusing me and inexperienced as I was searched for a fault in my behavior which was stupid as I was the slave here and he as a Leader excusing to me.... but what made me perplex again was his use of words. I noticed before that he had kind of a noble way to express himself. But I said nothing.

“Get ready. Soon we will leave.”

“Where are we going to?”

“Back.”

I widened my eyes in shock. This day was full of revelations. “Where back to?”

He said nothing and passed me, collecting his clothes and dropped bottles.

“But why? I don't understand... and what about your group?” I felt stupid about being concerned in his stead but couldn't help myself.

“They are too far gone. We will never catch up with them.”

At this point I didn't know that Aoi had exactly planned for this to happen. And later that day we were on our way through the hot and dusty Sahara back to...

“Marrakesh.”

“Why Marrakesh?” I asked, still trying to get used to his proximity from behind my back while we were riding on his camel. But realized too soon that I didn't mind at all, on the contrary. “My home.”

“Why did you leave in the first place?” My questions were naive and honest. He paused and breathed into my neck unintended, making me blush. “You don't know when to stop asking or how to behave at all.”

“True. I'm a peasant remember?” I smiled at myself.

“Personal matters.” He answered.

“Family matters.” I added and his silence was confirmation enough.

“There comes a time when a man knows what he has to do.”

“And that time is now? Why?” A long moment of silence before his answer hit me with surprise.

“Because every time I looked at your shivering body and into your hurt eyes, I saw that all I lived for, all I had done was wrong. Completely wrong.”

I had no words for this so I simply covered his hands which were holding the reins in front of me with mine and remained silent. For the first time.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

We rode about a week through the Sahara until one morning we saw rooftops on the horizon... Marrakesh. Aoi really made it out of the desert and although my future was uncertain I was glad too. After the incident at the oasis, no one of us addressed the topic ever again and I must admit that his proximity was awkward at first but became something I got comfortably used to. What Aoi thought about all this, I couldn't even guess as he was as silent as ever. Self-controlled, almost professional in everything he did. I became more and more interested in the man who was more than he ought to show. That I was certain of.

The colors and smells of the city were overwhelming, exotic and new. The streets were full with people selling and buying goods, animals, dirt, houses build up so close you could hardly walk through the alleys. It was breathtaking. For the first time I saw people from foreign lands in unknown clothing, strange languages and dialects, I was so busy observing that Aoi literally had to pull me through the streets. When we had passed the busy market, Aoi pulled me in front of him while he was holding onto his camel with one hand. “Listen very carefully now: You must not speak to anyone and answer no question. Pretend like you don't understand.” I looked back at him with great interest and he exhaled playfully annoyed. “Why do I get the impression that all my warnings are in vain? I know that you are a curious and open person but it won't do you any good in a corrupt city like this.”

“Don't be afraid. I will do as you said.”

Aoi's face showed utter surprise. “You will?”

A nod. “After all, I'm strange in this town and you are the only person I've left.” It sounded more sad than intended. He rested his hand on my shoulder.

“I will bring you to an old friend of mine while I'm going back home.”

I widened my eyes in surprise. “So I guess this is not about your group of bandits any more...”

“Right, this is about family.” Aoi pulled back and we continued our way through the city. We entered many alleyways and went deeper into town. At this point I was positive that alone I would never find a way out of it again. Now and then I saw people lowering their heads and greeting Aoi but I wasn't sure if I really saw it or just imagined it. We stopped in front of an old wooden and Aoi bound his camel onto the house. He knocked at the door but no one answered. He knocked again and we waited until a very low voice asked who’s there.

“Aoi.”

Several locks were opened until the door revealed a pale face with deep dark eyes. The grimace which formed showed recognition. He fully opened the door.

“He finally came home.” The man stepped aside and offered us to step in.

“Long time no see old friend.” Aoi greeted and gave a quick hug. The stranger's eyes were on me though and Aoi introduced me as a 'friend'. “And that's my old friend Zero.” I nodded politely and stammered out my name because I felt uneasy in this stranger's house. Plus he wasn't the most social person I knew. He observed everything with an unreadable glare while his long dark hair hung ghostly over his dark gray cloak. His movements were spare, almost deliberate, just like his words. And I thought it was impossible to find someone who talked even less than Aoi.

“Taro,” Aoi touched me on my shoulders after he ended his conversation with Zero and looked down at my face, “I'm returning home to settle a few things. Until then you will stay here. I will get you latest in two days. And remember what I told you about the city?”

I nodded but feeling uneasy I couldn't help myself but to reach up with my hand and grab for his who was still laying on my shoulder. I squeezed it and he squeezed back. I must have looked at him like a lost child and honestly, I felt like it in this big strange town and at this stranger's house. My eyes said what my voice couldn't. 'Don't leave me alone.' Because he was all I had left now. Aoi knew that and for the split of a second his eyes became soft when he touched my cheek for the breath of a moment before letting go and leaving the house with one last nod at Zero. When I opened my hand I found a leather bracelet in it.

“I will show you to the guest room and some books you are free to read.”

I thanked him thoroughly, pointing out that I couldn't read but was glad about the offer. He made gestures to follow him and I did so while he murmured at himself. “... so Aoi ibn Sharad returned home... after all this time....” I still had no clue what it all meant but I was sure that it must mean something for some people. What I guessed was that Aoi mustn't have been home for quite some time. And I was right in the middle of his story now. To make time go by faster, I managed to sleep most of the time as reading was no option either. Since my orientation was virtually not existing, I didn't dare to go into town alone. I never left the neighborhood even when I was taking a walk.

At the second day during midday, Zero invited me to join him smoking a water pipe. Although I've never smoked before I knew that it was extremely rude not to follow an invitation and after several attempts I consented to smoke that sweet stuff. After a few insecure puffs I had to admit that it tasted quite good and soon I felt my head getting heavy and sleepy. I felt my tongue getting heavy as well and my talking became slow... I had no control over myself and then I blacked out.

“That’s what happens from consuming too much opium, sweetheart. Have a nice dream.”

Zero clapped loud with his hands and the door of his house opened. Three dark figures entered the room. One guy covered Taro's head while the others picked him up. Zero smiled at himself in satisfaction and handed a letter to the third guy to get it delivered to Aoi. The three men left the house with the unconscious Taro and Zero muttered to himself:

“And that’s what happens for messing with the underworld of the Sahara, Aoi ibn Sharad.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



Aoi arrived at a big manor outside of Marrakesh town in the countryside. Lying beautifully on green hills and surrounded by stone walls, he stopped in front of iron gates where two guards were standing with swords on their hips. They eyed Aoi suspiciously when he jumped down from his camel.

“Tell us your name stranger.” One of the guards said.

“I am Aoi ibn Sharad. Please tell Sharad ibn Faran that his son has returned.”

Their facial expressions were priceless. One of the guards nodded and walked back into the palace with no delay. After a short while he returned and accompanied Aoi into the manor. Everything was just as he remembered it. The carpets on the stone floor, the candle holders, fresh fruits on the table.... now his nervousness set in and he bit his lip. The last time he and his father saw each other, it was not on the best terms. Aoi was young and stupid, wanted to see the world, going on adventures.... ignoring his duty's as the only son of a rich family. But now he felt being ready. He saw enough and the time has come to face his father who was ruler of the kingdom of the north states of the Sahara.
It seemed like a big responsibility six years ago and somehow it still was but now Aoi understood that he couldn't run from his responsibilities, his family, all his life. Maybe his mother understood him because she always forgave Aoi everything but his father must hate him. He dishonored his family and parents and for that it was still quite possible that he will be thrown out the manor forever.

A door to one of the living rooms opened and a slender but elegant Lady stepped forward, dressed in precious embroidered silk clothing. His mother, all gray now but still beautiful. She gasped and hurried forward, taking her son into her arms. After all this years and all the anxiety, she kissed him on his forehead and looked him into his face.

“You came home, my son. Thank you merciful God.” She couldn't stop hugging him.

“Mother...“ Was all he stammered and he encircled her back as well.

She took him at his arm and guided him inside the living room. And there was his father, sitting behind his old desk and his hands folded in front of his mouth, looking at his lost son after all these years. He became even older than his mother or so it seemed as his face carried a lot of wrinkles and sorrow. Aoi's mother left the room.

“Come closer.” The old man demanded.

Aoi stepped forward and the next thing he did was kneeling on the floor with his forehead on the carpet and his hands stretched out.

“I know I don't deserve to be forgiven for my childish behavior. But I want you to know that I regret my decisions deeply and I'm taking responsibility for all the shame I have brought over my family. Please let me know if there is any way I can repay for all the harm and I will do all I can. This I swear in front of God and if this lifetime is not enough to repay I will pray to work on it on my next life.” Aoi remained in his kneeling position, waiting for his father to answer and it took him a while. The old man stood up.

“You have dishonored our family in the most shameful way. You joined a group of bandits and plundered the poor. Now let me as a political Leader ask you: How can I forgive such behavior? Even if the culprit is my son?”

It hurt. Even more than Aoi had anticipated. Deep down Aoi knew that his father was right but hearing it out loud from him was even harder.

“But you are my only son and I am old with no heir. I will accept you back in the house but you will have to gain my trust in the good deeds you have to do.” Aoi still remained in his bowed position and he nodded silently to his fathers demands.

“First you will return to university to study economy, politics and languages. Agree now and here to do so or leave and never come back.”

Aoi nodded again and gave his agreement. Then his father gestured him to stand up and he did so. Aoi was about one and a half heads taller than him but still he had immense respect for his old man.

“I won't disappoint you father.”

His father's gaze eased. “Then welcome back son.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was late at night when the three men rode on horses back into the desert. One of them had Ryutaro tied onto the back of his saddle while the young man was suffering the aftereffects of the Opium. Nightmares and visions in delirium made him forget about time and place altogether. One of the men separated from the group at some point and rode into the countryside, straight to the mansion of the Northern Sahara's Landlord. In his hand he hold a stone where Zero's letter was bound to it. Close enough to the stone wall he threw it into a window and disappeared again as fast as he could.

Aoi and his father jumped up in utter shock when the glass to his living room broke. It didn't take long for the guards to storm in the room and checking the environment, realizing pretty fast that whoever threw the stone was long gone. As if sensing something, Aoi picked up the stone and undid the letter. His eyes scanned the page and he crumbled it in his hands after he was done, closing his eyes and holding his breath while he bit together his teeth. His father motioned the guards to leave them alone and he came closer to his son who handed him the letter without a word.

“Seems like I have to take responsibility earlier than expected.” His voice was low while his father read the letter.

“Whom is this letter referring to?”

“To the one who saved me and made me come back here.”

“Then you have to save him.”

“And I will.”

The letter said:

Aoi ibn Sharad…

Guess who’s writing to you? Yes, your old friend Zero but I am not alone. I'm writing to you on behalf of all your neglected friends from the Sahara. They are all eager to see you again and since they can’t await your visit, we will see you tomorrow at noon or your beloved friend will die before the sun sets. The price? Two chests full of jewels plus the same amount in gold.

So, see you tomorrow on the cliffs of the Northern Sahara dunes and…. Sleep well.

Zero

Aoi wanted to scream. Taro didn't deserve any of that. He has been through so much and again it was because of him. The treasure they wanted was insanely high for a person's life but he was Aoi's responsibility and something in his heart ached by the mere thought of loosing him forever. Again he gritted his teeth and with determination he left the living room to discuss a strategy with their personal guards. He forced himself to sleep that night, at least a few hours to regain some strength for the next day. Earlier than necessary he saddled his horse and prepared half of the guard to ride with him which were about twenty men on horseback. The moment he tied the treasure for Taro's exchange to the saddle of the leading guard, his motions and thinking became almost automatically. No failure or breakdown of weakness now. He needed to be brave and that he always was.

This morning Aoi painted his eyes even darker than usual, giving him a dangerous look underneath his Turban. Clad in all black and with a heavy long sword, he finally climbed onto his horse and rode outside the safe fortress, followed by his twenty men. His father and mother stood above the stables on their veranda and observed them until they no longer could be seen on the horizon.

It was a hot day and the sand whirled around them from the horses' hooves. Aoi pointed at the northern border of the Sahara which lay in front of them and his horse speeded up. They stopped in front of a long mountain ridge which was the border to his kingdom. It was many kilometers long and at the lowest point about 8 meters high. Aoi guided his horse to a well known passage way and his men followed him. With great effort he suppressed his fast beating heart but he couldn't help himself when three figures appeared on top of the stone ridge. One of them was Zero, he would recognize his lean figure everywhere. Aoi jumped down from his horse and gestured his men to wait behind him. Zero snickered. “I see your father has taken you back in, good for me.” Another ten men stepped forward and lined up with Zero, one of them hold a constrained person who was gagged and blindfolded. Aoi stayed calm and concentrated on Zero.

“Let's get this over with!” Aoi shouted up the ridge.

“Very well.” Zero agreed. “Send one of your guards up here with the treasure and you will get your boy back.”

“Two guards.”

“Listen! You are not the one to make conditions here!”

“Then show me Ryutaro first!” Aoi shouted back.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 


I heard Aoi's voice in the distance but I couldn't be sure of it. The past night has been hell as traces of the Opium were still running through my veins.... and I dreamt of him and his voice all night long, calling for me and now when it sounded so real I couldn't be sure. All I knew was that I was all tied up and someone hold onto me. Zero's voice was arguing with someone who sounded like Aoi and I shrieked when I felt someone suddenly pulling down the bandages around my head and revealing my sensitive eyes to the midday sun. I squirmed and looked around, seeing us standing on a desert ridge, all dangerous looking men in a row, Zero hovering over me and underneath us... Aoi.

“AOI!!” I lay all my relieve into my voice. Words could not describe what I felt when I saw him. Joy, safety and my heart felt warm. I wanted to be down there with him, in his arms, feeling him, smelling him. Being soothed by his silence and authority which he conveyed so naturally and which made me feel at peace.

Aoi didn't react to my calling at all. He was all professional and didn't even allow a flicker of emotion on his eyes. With one arm he gestured one of his guards with the treasure to step forward and the guard climbed the stony pathway up to us and came to a hold in front of Zero. He settled the treasure down and stretched out one arm to get me. It happened so fast and I was in such a shock hat all I heard was metal on metal, one heavy body slumping down the ground. In the distance Aoi screamed to attack and the mens' shouts filled the air.

I felt a sharp stab on the side of my ribcage before I was tossed into the sand and rolled down all the way into the dunes underneath the ridge. Meanwhile Zero and his bandits disappeared and Aoi's guard followed them deep into the desert. I blacked out during my fall and when I came to me I chocked on my own blood and coughed it out. Only then I realized a large shadow above me, holding onto me... his hands all over my face, caring carefully over the sliced wounds on my face and body.

“Taro... Taro....” For the first time I felt like hearing his real voice, the horror, concern and angst in it. He trembled.

I chocked on his name and searched in the threatening darkness for Aoi's hand. He hold my hand onto his chest while he undid his Turbandand looked me in the face. His tunic underneath me soaked in blood and I felt how tears formed automatically in my eyes. Uncontrollably they rolled down my cheeks and I stretched out one hand to touch his lips. He pulled me further up his legs and hold me tight.

“Taro-”

“I’m glad to have met you.” I managed to whisper. “I wish I could stay longer.” My vision was all blurry and Aoi wiped my tears away. I was in no pain and my whole body felt numb. It was my heart which ached the most. The feeling of loss and disappointment of leaving him soon. He pulled me close and buried me in his arms, breathing against my neck and my hair. “Don't leave me Taro, please stay, please...”

“We will... meet again.” I was sure of it and he asked God why he punished him like this. It made me so unbelievably sad. “You have to let me go.”

“I can't-” He moved back and looked me in the eyes... and to me it seemed that this was the first true expression he has ever give me. “I love you, I need you.”

And I so wanted to be with him. I closed my eyes to cry inside of me and as macabre as it sounded I felt like bleeding out. The wound was just too deep.

“Aoi, can you... do me a favor?”

“All you want.”

“Please search... for my mother. I don't know if she's dead... or alive and if you find her, please tell her.... that I love her.” Talking became hard and breathing hurt. Aoi nodded and I was shocked when he pulled his blood covered hand from underneath me and lay it on the side of my face. He kissed me. Deep and intimate and it felt like our souls were touching.... I will never forget his smell.

“You will be.... a good and... kind king. I love you.”

My hand slipped from the touch on his hair and I did my last breath in between his lips. I died smelling him, tasting him.... I felt at peace but it was Aoi's scream that haunted my soul even after I had died. I saw myself from above and Aoi pressing me onto him, covering me with his tunic, pressing his face onto my neck. My soul cried for him too and then everything resolved into light.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



Aoi's guards arrested Zero and the group of bandits the same day. The thieves were hanged while Zero was cowardly enough to swallow poison after his pleads of freedom remained unheard. But what touched me most was when Aoi really returned to my old village to look for my mum and he really found her. I was there with him when he formally addressed her and introduced himself, when he had trouble to tell her the news and she breaking down in his arms.... he hold her, comforted her, feeling the pain which was not strange to him. He couldn't bear to leave her behind so he took her with him into his manor. She was like a second mother to him and it filled my heart with joy.
He felt at ease when my mother comforted him and told him old stories from my childhood, her laughter reminding him of me, making him melancholic every time. He never fully recovered.

I was buried by the magnolia tree in their private gardens. Just where he could see it from his private quarter's window.... and I was there with him, when he suffered at the window frame, his stare lingering on the tree for hours, him questioning his life and wiping his tears away when someone called for him... He never married.

And him carrying this life long pain inside his heart pained me as well. I wanted him to be happy, even if it meant with another person by his side. Another shock was when his parents died. My mother was there for him but he never fully recovered when she left him too. It was devastating. Aoi was a good king and leader but vulnerable when it came to the heart. Nevertheless he studied like his father wanted him to, carrying this promise between us with him all his life long. But at the end of his lifetime and being without an heir, the heritage was passed over to a cousin.

When his life came to an end, I waited at the magnolia tree. I will never forget his look when he realized that I really came to escort him. I felt all this sorrow and fear leaving him at once and he truly smiled. Happily, he walked towards me and I stretched out my hand for him. He pulled me into an embrace and hold me tight.

He died peacefully in his home, carrying an old leather bracelet around his wrist.

 

Chapter Text

Song to this chapter:

07 - -soil- (Kaoru & Toshiya's theme)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2cUyANaL4U&index=7&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 25

 

Does it hurt where your heart has once been?

 

 

The whole story of Taro's past life made Toshiya speechless. Maybe it was this intimate, extreme memory of him which showed Toshiya how naive he had been for all these years. Assuming that he was the only one suffering and feeling deep pain.... No, every existing being experienced it one way or the other but everyone carried it differently. There was nothing more to say, even thanking him for sharing his story seemed like a burden at this moment. So after Taro was done, Toshiya simply pulled him into an embrace, thanking Taro with a nod and showing him respect for sharing it with him. Taro gasped when he saw Toshiya's wet eyes and he touched him by his cheek carefully.

“Don't cry over us. It's in the past and we learned from it.”

“I know... I just,” he paused, “hope that one day I will be able to carry my experiences they way you do.”

“It's not a question of ability Toshiya, it's a matter of perspective. You decide that it won't hurt you anymore.”

With that said, Toshiya, who was the youngest soul of them, just nodded. It sounded so simple but it was yet a concept hard for him to grasp.

“So Taro, after all these years, the concept of feeling and having emotions.... is it something Angels gain control over? Because obviously it is a thing of the brain...”

“And the heart.” Taro smiled.

At that moment Taro's little green mobile phone started buzzing on the bed and broke the silence. They both knew who this call was coming from.

“He's a really nice person, your protege.” Toshiya said.

“He's unbelievable, a miracle! He's so inspired by his surroundings and nature...”

Toshiya started to smile and didn't dream of stopping Taro bragging about him. After a short while, Taro realized Toshiya's ear to ear beam and stopped abruptly.

“Oh don’t look at me like that!”

“Like what?” It highly amused Toshiya.

“Like... like that!”

“Like you are-”

“Don't say it! Don't even dare thinking of it!” There was something dark in Taro's gaze. Like he feared something.... maybe the depths of his own so called feelings.

“It is not my right to judge and I will never dare to.” Toshiya made it clear. “I’m sorry Taro but I can’t help it. The two of you are so lovely together... I've never seen something like that before.”

Taro calmed down and searched for an explanation. “I can imagine how it seems like to an outsider but it's just my nature. I love good human beings and enjoy being with them. That is just me acting like I always do. Happily I can say that I found my mate a long time ago.”

A moment of silence followed which was full of unspoken thoughts from both of them. Toshiya, realizing that it was too early for Taro to talk about it and Taro defending his feelings for Aoi. It wasn't Toshiya's right to judge and God knows he would never dare to but the more reasons Taro held against his current situation, the more it started to sound unreal and rather wanted than actually being.

“So, am I the only one being unable to communicate with my Guardian Angel?” Taro changed topic.

“No, I can't talk to Hakuei either.” Toshiya looked down at his hands and traced the lines in them with his eyes. “I wonder how much they see of us on earth.”

“Everything if they want to.”

Toshiya looked back at Taro with a shocked expression. “Really? Like, everything?”

Taro looked suspiciously at his friend. “Well maybe not everything during the whole day. They have business to attend to but....Wait a minute.... what have YOU been doing here on earth which is worth hiding?”

It was a stupid reflex when Toshiya turned his head aside to collect his thoughts. He sat on his bed like a statue when he felt a warm comforting hand on his shoulder. He relaxed.

“It's okay Toshiya, you are my friend and I will never make you feel uncomfortable.”

“I know Taro and I'm sorry.” So Toshiya realized that they both had a sensitive topic, too sensitive to talk about. “Let's wait and see what time brings.”

“You're right.” Taro said. “But I was rather shocked about Ni~ya's harsh words earlier today.”

Opening his mouth and closing it again, Toshiya simply nodded. He hated to admit it but something stroke him deep within when Ni~ya made his observations clear. Maybe it was the knowledge that some facts were maybe not too far-fetched.

“I know I can be a difficult soul and sometimes I feel that I don't deserve Hakuei's care.”

Taro was shocked about his friend's words. “Don't let Ni~ya's words bring you down-”

“But he was right. About everything”

A silence followed when Taro finally spoke up. “So you're giving up? Just like that? You wouldn’t mind if Ni~ya and Hakuei 'team up' just because you're feeling hurt?”

Taro left enough space to interpret 'team up' but no matter how Toshiya considered it, he hated the mere thought of the two of them together. He didn't know why but there was something in the way Ni~ya looked up to Hakuei... was it admiration?

“No I.... It’s really difficult for me Taro, I.... I’ve never been with someone… well, in any personal kind of way before. Which right do I have to claim someone? Especially when he's so advanced and kind?”

Taro smiled widely. He provoked Toshiya to talk and it worked. “Well, I guess Hakuei would have loved to hear that.” Taro took Toshiya's hands into his own. “Then fight for the two of you. Because believe me, you reconsidering your behavior just for him makes you worth the fight too. Be the Angel you are deep within and everything will be just fine.” Taro's words were so beautiful and pure that Toshiya believed them, wanted to believe them. His memories of touching and physical contact felt alien to him, an unpleasant feeling he grew up with. Being near to someone always felt unnatural to him but now, when Taro hold onto his hands so full of love and friendship, Toshiya started to realize what it was like to feel loved.... and Hakuei's face popped up in his head too. All his caring gestures, touches and words.... it felt like ages ago.

“I will do my best.” Toshiya finally said and looked back at Taro.

“Let the past go. You have real friends who care deeply for you. Open your mind for it.”

Toshiya accompanied Taro back home later that night. Their conversation repeated in his head all night long. Taro's words, the knowledge he gained not only about Taro but also about himself. Everything during a single night..... your life could change within a single night.

And although some of these words have stung him deep, Toshiya was sure that he would work on himself to return as a stronger Angel.... someone his friends and family can be proud of.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 


Sugizo was moody, almost silent these days. He and his few followers were right in the middle of plotting and acting in the background to turn things to his favor. Soon, very soon they would act. Not too long ago, his subordinates captured this annoying Revenge-Angel Karyu and today he wanted to question him thoroughly. If needed with force. A hasty knock pulled him out of his thoughts and Tsukasa entered without waiting to get called in. Sugizo stood up and looked at the troubled face which was hardly ever troubled. Tsukasa bent down and stood up again to report.

“I'm sorry to inform you but Yu~ki and Közi just came back from a mission on earth…”

“And?”

“… they freed Karyu and brought him back to earth.”

“WHAT?! HOW COULD THEY..... WHY?!!”

“It was Kirito himself who ordered it.”

Sugizo balled his hands into fists, his concentrated glare was pure evil. That wasn't only a punch in his face but a fallback in his plans too. Maybe he underestimated Kirito and he better found out what else Kirito thought he 'knew'.

“But the question is,” Sugizo started, “how did he know about Karyu? And why did he set him, an Angel, free?”

Tsukasa looked around thinking and lifted his hands and shoulders. “Maybe the prisoner bribed him with something?”

“Huh! What could an Angel possibly offer to the Son of the Dark Lord-” He paused and Tsukasa ended his sentence.

“Information?”

Sugizo was thinking before he said it out loud. “Tsukasa, I want you to go up to earth. Yuana and Gackt are busy building up my army so I need you as my watchdog up there. You are the only one I can trust now.”

Tsukasa nodded. “As you wish. What do you want me to find out?”

“Anything. But keep an eye especially on the Angels of Revenge. Be careful, they are not to be underestimated.”

“Got it.” And Tsukasa left the room. When the door was closed, Sugizo summoned another high Demon with the snap of his fingers. Miyavi. As a form changer he wasn't only an asset to his plans but also strategist.

“With Kirito setting Karyu free... could our peace treaty be in danger?”

“I don't give a damn about the treaty and you know that. It is only a question of time for us to break it but we have to be patient. Not now, it's still too early. Luckily heaven is still occupied with researching for the ‘teleporter’.... and so should we. We have to find the teleporting creature first…”

Miyavi nodded and Sugizo continued.

“Just imagine what power I will possess when I'm on the Dark Lord's throne, the teleporter as my ally on my side to travel all spheres freely. This means limitless power. We have to find it, no matter what. And we have to bring Kirito to fall very soon my friend.”

Miyavi continued. “But what do we do if we find it? We 'promised' to destroy the 'teleporter'. How do we avoid doing that?”

“Then our substitute from hell dies. In this case 'Uruha'. The person whose face you took when we signed the contract.”

“Right, I remember.”

“It has to be perfect, it WILL be perfect, come what may.” Sugizo called out for Mako and he appeared in his hall, bending down respectfully.

“Demon of Death, how’s dying going on?”

Mako answered in his soft yet theatrical pitched voice. “Collecting is good yet the new Angel of Death interferes more and more into my work.”

“Tell me about him.”

“His name is Toshiya. He’s an apprentice Guardian Angel with the ability to heal wings.” Mako didn't have to add that the healing ability was a rare and powerful gift. Sugizo as an fallen Angel knew all about it which raised his attention. He knew nothing about this Toshiya-Angel. Mako continued. “He keeps on hunting the souls I’m looking for but until now I’m faster and stronger.”

“… until now.” Sugizo accentuated. “Never underestimate a wing healer. And to make things worse, he is an Angel of Death too. The discrepancy couldn't be bigger. That's very unusual. Be careful Mako and report any changes immediately. You can go.” Sugizo said and the Demon of Death disappeared.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

Inside the mind of....


Toshiya

 

The first time I realized that things started to change was when my coworkers started to greet and look me in the face again. Hesitant and insecure, if they really meant me, I was simply amazed and somewhere deep inside of me.... moved. Moved by the sudden change in their behaviour, although I knew where the change was coming from. Slowly I realized what Kaoru's scolding was all about. He sensed the bad seeds before I could even guess... but I didn't want to flatter myself and pressume that it was maybe... partly..... because of their behaviour against me? If that was true, how could I adress him and speak about the topic? If it concerned me in the first place..... but still there was this feeling that I should thank him.

Different past memories of us together played in front of my inner eyes. All these more or less serious conversations, the stolen glimpses of each other which I couldn't deny, the unreadable faces and actions of him.... Being naive was somehow cute on girls but in my case, it was cruel. He told me then, I realized it now. Me, the ever wandering and blind one. I always thought that actions hurt people but not acting or interacting could hurt too, even more. Especially him, since we were connected one way or the other.

I should have known by his posture, the unspoken words, the hold back actions …. all this an outcome of me not reacting. Not understanding, being superficial in everything I pursue. And it seemed that no matter how I tried to twist and turn it, I didn't like the direction it was taking. Maybe because everything was instable, insecure, unknown. A mirror of my very self portrayed in this world, onto him. It didn't matter if it was the dark ages or far in the future, I am, was and would always be myself.

During the days, it seemed as if his ears twitched when I laughed out loud or spoke to other people. So I became stupidly self aware during my daily life... why? I didn't know or more, I didn't want to assume. I felt being watched when I turned around a corner in town or when I left my apartment. When I checked my mobile phone for new messages or when I lay in bed at night. I slowly realized that I would only make it through this task when I got fully involved. Nothing half-heartedly, nothing in a breath of a moment. But being fully there.

Or maybe not.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

In full melancholy, Toshiya observed a beautiful sunrise on the rooftop of the skyscraper. He tip toed out early this morning, trying to avoid meeting Kaoru..... lately, he realized that he had difficulties looking him in the eye. There was unmistakably a connection between them, but if it was because of their Guardian-bond or something else, Toshiya didn't want to guess, didn't want to know, didn't want to really find out. But he knew that he couldn't run from it, wouldn't want to either. What was for certain was the fact that no matter how things would turn out, they would both eventually grow from it.

A sudden gush of wind made him raise from his crouching position and Toshiya looked up in the air, only to see a familiar pair of wings landing right in front of him. It just seemed as if Toshiya was waiting for him but he didn't know about his visit. “Karyu!” The young Angel hugged him tightly and Karyu responded his usual way of tousling through his hair.

“Thank God you’re okay.”

Toshiya was surprised, as he had no idea what was going on the past days in heaven and hell. “Why shouldn’t I be?”

“Let us talk in private.”

Toshiya nodded and motioned Karyu to follow him. They approached Toshiya's apartment and Sakito passed them on his way to art school. He greeted them friendly and Karyu narrowed his eyes when Sakito passed. It was too quick for Toshiya or Sakito to notice but there was something about Sakito's soul only higher ranked Angels were able to see. Toshiya whom never mentioned Sakito before seemed without bias. What sparked Karyu's interest wasn't just the high creativity and lightning extending from Sakito's soul, he also seemed very wise in a rare way. Yet this soul was strange to Karyu. He decided to keep an eye on him now and then, just in case.

“Is he your friend?” Karyu wanted to know.

Toshiya responded in thoughts when he fumbled for his keys. ^Yes, he works with me at the bar and his Guardian Angel is Ni~ya.^

Karyu breathed out loud and rolled his eyes when he threw back his head. He touched his nape with one hand and seemed worried.

^Something not okay?^

^Nah, I just hope that this Ni~ya-kid is capable of doing a good job.^

That moment a well known voice turned around the corner with a cell phone in his hand. Kaoru looked at his favorite employee and the unknown, clearly older guest. He stopped in his tracks and Toshiya just slightly nodded at him when he led Karyu into his apartment and closed the door. Again it was Karyu who realized things without being said or done.

“And that was my protege.”

“Good heavens, what a gathering of high developed souls. Heaven surely knows how to keep you guys all occupied.”

“What do you mean?”

“My first impression? This guy,” Karyu pointed into direction door and meant Kaoru, “is not what he pretends to be. There is a lot more going on and he is an old and experienced soul too. This task you have been given, will be a lesson for your immortal life time. One you will never forget.”

“And that's just your first impression?”

“In a matter of time you will learn it too.”

“What do you mean?”

“Instinct. Trust your feelings.” A moment of silence followed and Karyu continued. “But why I'm here is, I was worried. As I couldn't keep an eye on you the past few days.”

“What are you talking about?”

“There was a lot of wicked stuff going on between heaven and hell.”

Karyu gave Toshiya a short but thorough run through. About him being kidnapped and Miyavi taking on his form to do foul business in the name of Sugizo. Speechless about the incident which was heavy indeed, made Toshiya sit down on his bed. He rested with his elbows on his knees and with mere horror he was glued to Karyu's lips. He always loved listening to Karyu talking as his words were all honest and sometimes even wise. But this incident clearly showed that hell was ready to take action and wasn't coy about physical assault.

When Karyu stopped, Toshiya was all confused and nervous. “And now WHY did all of this happen again?”

Karyu remained silent for a moment. The truth was that heaven and hell were desperately looking for the reborn 'cross', an old prophecy about a world wanderer who was able to go through all spheres and possessing unimaginable powers. But outside the higher ranks no one knew about this prophecy, an precaution to keep the lower ranks at ease.

“It's about a plot between hell ranks, lead by Lucifer himself.”

It was no lie but still only half of the truth.

“Why I'm here is.... Toshiya I want you to report any strange occurrences or gossip right to me. Meanwhile I will keep an eye on you from the distance or even close if necessary. I know that heavenly law forbids to interfere into Guardian Angel and protege business.... but I couldn't care less what these old farts up there are thinking. You are my and Shinya's son and I won't watch stupidly how shit is going down.”

With wide opened eyes, Toshiya looked back at Karyu whom had his fists balled and his forehead wrinkled. And it was his instincts that told him that this was about way more than Karyu wanted to tell.

“Okay, I will call for you then.”

Karyu nodded and when he looked over to Toshiya again he said one single name which drained the color all out of Toshiya's face. “Mako.”

A moment of uncomfortable silence.

“You know him?”

“Not personally but I know about him. The soul collector. Did you have any troubles with him?”

“Well....” Toshiya mentioned the incidents when they were fighting about dead souls and Karyu nodded just like he knew what was going on.

“Then why didn't you ever tell me?”

“Because I thought it's normal rivalry between heaven and hell.”

“Well let me assure you: This Mako-Demon doesn't do a 'normal' job. They are on a contest with heaven about the amount of souls and because of that I will keep an eye on him too.”

“Why is that?”

Karyu breathed out loud and spilled the beans.

“Mako collects as many souls as possible because Sugizo builds up an army to claim the Devil’s son’s throne. Now you know. Keep that information an absolute secret. This is about eternal life and death.”

With a shocked expression, Toshiya stammered. “T-then what am I supposed to do now?”

“Nothing. Keep low and do your job like you used to. Report anything unusual to me, that's all you can do right now. Leave the rest to us.”

Karyu stood up. “I'm responsible for this area. Revenge-Angels are watching all places on earth. So don't be afraid and call for us if you need help. And be careful and wander the city with both eyes and instincts open, got it?”

Toshiya nodded and Karyu stopped in his motions when he wanted to turn the door knob around, sensing a presence waiting at the end of the corridor. “Another thing.... you better make up a good explanation why I was here.”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



Karyu passed a narrow corridor, in which Kaoru was standing (or better hiding), slowly with a smirk on his face. Just to make sure that his tall body size and looks left an impression. Maybe it was a parental thing from his side to show Kaoru not to mess with him or Toshiya but on the other hand, he maybe catwalked down the corridor for his ego's sake too. Karyu felt a tingling in the air, something only high spirited souls send out....and he didn't like it one bit. Maybe because it reminded him too much of himself... anger, curiosity, restrain and then jealousy. This Kaoru-guy just made a new enemy and didn't even know it yet. But Karyu decided that it was better not to cause a scene, at least for now. He left the building like a normal human being would.

Toshiya's door closed shut for the second time when the young Angel left his apartment and as soon as he turned around the corner, there was Kaoru in his dominant state and his unreadable aura. Just like Karyu hinted before he left.

“Why is it that I always feel observed by you?” Toshiya addressed him first, trying to take the lead for a change.

Kaoru smirked and a husky laugh filled the air. “Maybe because I'm observing you.” Why hiding the obvious. Honest and straight forward were Kaoru's well known traits. And Toshiya kissed his idea of being verbally in charge goodbye. He faltered and his long hated insecurity set in. He remained silent and couldn't help himself but feel like a rabbit in front of the big bad wolf, although it should be him protecting HIS protege. Kaoru pushed himself from the wall and continued talking.

“I know you are just naive….” Toshiya smelled Kaoru’s expensive perfume when he passed him. “... but that's what makes you cruel.”

Uneasily, the young Angel smiled. “Me? That's an interesting way of putting it-” Toshiya stopped talking when one hand slammed into the wall behind him and dark eyes looked into his, silencing him in a brutal, non-verbal way.... making him see colors in those eyes which he had never seen before.

“I'm not accustomed to work and wait for something I want to have.”

Toshiya made a hard guess what or better whom Kaoru meant.... “And I'm an impatient man. It is YOU,” he pointed at Toshiya, “I'm holding back from to protect you.”

“From what?”

Kaoru pulled back his arm and took Toshiya's chin into his hands. “Run...” The young Angel was perplex. “.... that's what I should tell you but you made me weak and I can't bare the thought of sending you away.” Toshiya looked at Kaoru in total puzzlement. “You're already in too deep. Sending you away, I couldn't protect you from afar.”

It circled in Toshiya's head, that it was his job to look after Kaoru. They both seemed crazy with the idea of protecting each other. “I was always alone.” Seemed the most stupid thing he could say.

“That's what you think.” A softness came into Kaoru's eyes when he cared over Toshiya's cheek. “I feel totally unarmed in your presence, guess that's your honesty. It dismantles me.”

Toshiya drew in a deep breath when he lifted up his arm and touched Kaoru's hand. He hold it tight and spoke from his heart. “No matter what happens Kaoru, I will always be with you.” And he meant it in so many ways, so many ways which he could never tell. And time stood still when Kaoru leaned in closer, hold onto Toshiya's hand as well... And God he was gorgeous, charming, absolutely arrogant and he smelled good but nevertheless, Toshiya stretched out his arm and lay it onto Kaoru's chest to hold him back. They couldn't. And when Kaoru opened his eyes, they were deep, dark and not amused.

“You said it yourself: I'm already in too deep. We better stop here.”

Toshiya slid away from the wall behind him. “It's not that I'm not feeling flattered but.... I must go.” And confused as he was, he made his way back to his room…. which he never reached.

It seemed like in slow motion when Kaoru grabbed for Toshiya's arm, whirled him around and pushed him forcefully against the lobby wall. “Kao-” And the older man kissed him with such force.... It was brutal, demanding and took their breaths away in no time. Toshiya hated himself for closing his eyes too quickly, for reaching up into Kaoru's hair and touching this silky black strands of his perfect hair while Kaoru's body pinned him against the wall, not caring that it ruined his perfectly fitted suit. Instead he bit into Toshiya's full lips and tasted him again and again. Kaoru's energy was all over Toshiya and he couldn't free himself of him. God knew, he enjoyed it too. He had been alone for too long. Long forgotten human feelings came into play and the thought of doing something forbidden filled him with guilt.
With all his power and before it went too far, Toshiya pushed Kaoru off of him and the older man collected himself and reached into his hair when he looked at Toshiya like a prey. “I told you I'm not accustomed to wait.”

The young Angel was startled about such arrogant behavior. “So that's all you can say after... well, after this!”

“I don't talk much, I act.”

Toshiya opened his mouth but kept his thoughts to himself. There was no sense in talking now. Speechless, he fumbled for his keys and this time, Kaoru let him go when he passed him quickly and disappeared into his room. He closed the door loudly shut and leaned against it from the inside. He hold his head in his hands and closed his eyes. Again and again he stammered. “Please go, leave, leave...” And after a short while he heard Kaoru's steps echoing down the corridor until he was gone.

He glided down the door and slumped onto the ground, hiding his face behind his hair, his arms, his knees. It was only now when realization settled in about what really happened. It was their second kiss but this one was something completely different from last time. This time Kaoru was sure about what he did, no regret and full force. The moments played like an endless film in his head. Kaoru, his protege, his smell, the dark eyes and his demanding nature.... Toshiya felt so drowned. He felt like all his energy sucked out of him. Kaoru was such a mentally strong character. He wondered why he was assigned to such a human.

It was a mess. He was a mess. It was chaos.....


Hakuei....

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was a beautiful, sunny day. A day perfect for art, drawing and having a good time.

Tadashi sat on the grass of his favorite park nearby his art school and as usually he drew everything he could see into his sketch book: People, insects and the nature itself. Ryutaro often accompanied him but today he stayed back at school to finish his oil painting which he called ‘decadent thriftiness’. Tadashi was long done with his assignment and continued with his private studies instead. He loved drawing ladybirds and all kind of insects but hated dogs in general because they were too noisy for him. That’s why he had fishes at home.

Since Tadashi was a little boy, he dreamt about becoming a playground designer. He wanted to create a world full of dreams where children could play all day long and have fun. Today not much has changed: He studied to become a toy designer. Now and then he even worked part time at a toy shop in town. He loved it and children loved him too. Sales were always increasing when he was at work.

With his index finger, Tadashi pushed the black framed glasses up his nose again. He was sunken in his work that only out of habit he checked his watch and froze when he saw the time, remembering an appointment which he had to attend to today. Hastily, he stuffed his belongings into his bag and ran into direction city.

Some time later that day, Ryutaro was still busy painting. He was hopelessly covered in all shades of colors, from head to toe, even with paint being successfully on his shoes. As he wanted to see Toshiya later, he decided to call it a day and went over to the sink to clean his brushes. He hold them under the running water when his vision suddenly became blurry and he dropped them into the sink. Fighting the dizziness, he hold onto the sink and closed his eyes when a vision started to play inside his head.

Automatically and in pure shock, Taro tore the apron from his body and dashed out the classroom, out the school building, leaving a perplex teacher and students behind. He ran as fast as his human feet could take him through the park into direction crossroads of the busy town district. In pure horror, he looked around and scanned the people for a particular person… finally he could make out a puff of blonde hair in the distance, right in the middle of the road and that’s when he saw the traffic lights turning red again. Without a second thought, Taro dashed into the busy street and screamed as loud as he could: “TADASHI!!!”

Out of natural reflex the blond turned around and saw the truck coming closer and closer to him, cars were honking, people were screaming.... and then a strong shove which tossed him onto the side of the street. The truck passed still honking but luckily no one was harmed. In no time they were surrounded by people, asking if they were all right but the two were still too shocked from what had almost happened. Taro moved into a standing position and pulled Tadashi up with himself. During the impact, Tadashi lost his bag and glasses. Taro took the obviously baffled Tadashi on his hand and guided him back onto the sidewalk.

“Are you hurt?” Taro asked, sorrow swinging in his voice. But Tadashi simply stared at him with a look Taro had never seen before. Tadashi’s eyes were red and swollen. He must have been crying before the incident..... it nearly broke his heart.

Hastily, Tadashi turned his gaze away and collected his glasses and bag from the side of the street. He put them back on and hid his eyes behind the golden strands of his hair. But there was no way in hiding his feelings, his body language showed it all in the way he moved and kept silent.... it was hurting by mere watching it.

Tadashi stopped moving when he felt arms encircling him, Taro's cheek leaning against his head and nuzzling into the golden hair. He stiffened, still didn't say a word. It wasn't like they never hugged before but this seemed more intimate. This was Taro reacting to his hidden feelings.... and Tadashi felt so miserable for not holding himself together, for starting to shake, for loosing tears silently and dropping onto Taro's shirt. He closed his eyes and still didn't say a word. He couldn't. And it nearly broke Taro's heart. So he simply kept on holding Tadashi, right in the middle of the sidewalk where people were passing and ignoring them.

Taro felt that on this day something big had changed and it meant no good.

Slowly, the black haired Angel leaned back but he had trouble to do so since Tadashi hold onto Ryutaro’s arms tightly, clamping onto him for support. It was devastating: The happy and carefree Tadashi seemed to have vanished.

It was out of reflex and a good portion of Love when Taro kissed Tadashi onto his head tenderly and slowly he let go of Taro's arms. As a matter of course, he took Tadashi's bag and slung it over his own shoulders, then he took Tadashi's hand which was scratched and slightly bleeding from the pavement and wrapped it with his own paint stained handkerchief. Even after Taro was done, Tadashi didn't let go off this hand, he couldn't. It seemed like the younger man was keeping him up. Taro understood and together they walked back to Taro's home.

“You sure nothing hurts?” Taro's voice seemed so loud when he broke the silence at his home. He gestured Tadashi to sit down on his couch but Tadashi simply shook his head. The concern about Tadashi possibly asking him how came he was present at the situation earlier, was simply not given. For that the blond was still too shaken.

“What happened?” Taro looked with pain in his eyes at Tadashi whom was still hiding his face somehow. Like reading Taro's mind, Tadashi finally looked at Taro before he took his glasses off and put them aside onto the table. “I will no longer need them.” He almost whispered. Taro looked in utter surprise at his protégé. “I don’t understand… what do you mean?” Tadashi shook his head and grabbed desperately into his hair while Taro hold onto his other hand tightly.

“My eyes were bad since I can remember.”

Taro of course knew about that.

“The doctor said that it’s unavoidable…”

And Ryutaro slowly had an inkling what Tadashi was trying to say.

“No…” Taro whispered in shock.

“Maybe 8 years… maybe more or less, no one can tell-“ Tadashi stopped talking, his throat became dry again. Taro didn’t dare to take the word ‘blind’ into his mouth, didn’t want to believe it. Tadashi was numb from pain. It seemed like all his vitality and reason for living was slowly dying. And Taro could feel it, literally. He drowned in it as he felt it too. Taro stood up and encircled the broken bundle on his couch with both arms, he hold him close and didn't let go.

“… so that’s it…” Hardly audible Tadashi whispered into Taro's chest.

“Tadashi!” Taro moved back and dropped onto his knees, looking up into Tadashi's face. “Do not give up! Maybe it won’t happen! What do this people know! You are the most inspiring and loveable person I’ve ever met and I will not watch you giving up! Understand? I will help you, always!”

Tadashi's heart skipped a beat. He so wanted to hear these words, believe him but he couldn't. “You’ve got a life of your own. I won’t burden you with my problems.”

Taro shook with his head. “You will never be a burden.”

Tadashi breathed out loud. Taro made it so hard for him but he swore it to himself a long time ago that when this day would come, no one should ever know. He pushed Ryutaro gently away. “That’s stupid… I should have never told anybody-” Taro looked hurt. “Am I ‘anybody’?”

They both knew that it was more than that. “Of course not… I’m sorry Taro, I never wanted to hurt you but I guess no matter what I say or do, I will. Every day you will see me and you will think about it. I don’t want any pity, I couldn't stand it.”

“I will never pity you because you are more than I have ever been.” Tadashi covered his face with his hands. How cold Taro be so wonderful? But he couldn't burden him with it, never. “I can’t Taro, please understand that.”

“Why not? Please let me help you!” Taro whom was still kneeling in front of Tadashi touched Tadashi’s arms but the blond still covered his face. Tadashi shook his head.

“WHY NOT?!”

“Because I love you.”

It was as simply as that and yet these words were so powerful.

Taro widened his eyes and let go of Tadashi’s arms. They both remained silent and although Tadashi had lowered his arms, he didn’t look up. Scared of what Taro's expression could possibly show him. Taro was shocked to say the least. A thousand thoughts hit him at once. Memories of them came up, the long forgotten stares and moments he always thought were natural.... and they were natural because none of them ever had to pretend in front of the other. Everything was so easy when Tadashi was around, they almost acted like.... one unity. And again Taro was shocked about his own discovery. This is what heaven calls..... soul partners. Could it be? Impossible.

“I…. will be your eyes.” Taro answered without a second thought, without any regret. Their fate was bound together. He would never let Tadashi fight on his own. Not now or ever.

Tadashi was too moved to make any eye contact but he hold onto Taro's hands tightly, needed him although his words stated otherwise. “You are the sweetest and kindest person I’ve ever met… but no.”

It took all his courage, all his strength to stand up and let go of these warm, lovingly hands. Blinded by tears, he grabbed for his bag and glasses. He nodded to signalize his good bye and walked over to the entrance door.

“No!” Taro followed Tadashi and grabbed for his wrist. “Don't run from me, please!” It was Taro's voice which became threateningly thin now. “Please stop... stop.” Tadashi couldn't turn around, his pride forbade it. So Taro took the initiative and walked around him. “Why can't you look at me?” A simple shake again with his head wasn't enough and Taro touched Tadashi's cheek. He kissed him onto his forehead which triggered something deep inside of Tadashi and made him hold back his tears very hard. God he felt so weak although he wanted to stay strong.

He lost it completely when cold lips touched the edge of his mouth clumsily and it was a natural reflex when Tadashi turned his head and responded to the soft touch. Salty tears from his side mixed into their tender kiss... they were both silently crying, holding onto each other in desperation. Tadashi's hands glided automatically into Taro's nape to pull him closer onto himself. He felt so perfect against him, so much better than he had ever dared dreaming of.

Taro moaned Tadashi's name in between their kiss and he smiled bitterly at the thought of how very much the kiss was so Tadashi-like. It felt so right, like coming home.

“I’m sorry. I forced you into this. It's all my fault.” Tadashi broke the contact abruptly.

“What?” Still dizzy, Taro saw how Tadashi opened the entrance door next to them.

“Please forget everything. I’m really sorry.” And Tadashi closed the door from the outside and left. How...? How could he possibly... leave, like that? The small Angel sank down onto his knees, his lips were still warm and the air still smelled like him. What happened? The last few hours turned their life completely around, changed Tadashi so much, it hurt Taro tremendously seeing him suffer like that. But their kiss... it was no pity either that's for sure. Taro shook his head, he felt awful for betraying another soul who swore to love him... Aoi... whom he swore to love... maybe it was better that Tadashi had left.

The mere thought turned his stomach around. No, it didn't feel right that Tadashi left but his betrayal on the other hand.... it was all his fault. His insecurity and immaturity in how to handle a situation like that. It was too much, everything was too much. His protege would eventually turn blind but he was too proud to take any of his offered help. And yet they were bound together by fate, Taro would look after him. If not in this world then from the other. Was this how it was supposed to be? What could he possibly do? What to say? To both of them?

It was him who had to decide now: Returning to heaven, leaving Tadashi and watching him in invisible state or staying on earth and leaving Aoi?

No matter his decision, he couldn't have both.

And the pain of separation from one part set already in.

 

 

Chapter Text

Songs to this chapter:

08 – My profession is your decline (Demon's theme)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--GkEfOH-L4&index=8&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

09 – One green balloon (Ryutaro & Tadashi Theme)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xyk9-v1KgFo&index=9&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 26

 

Clear cut

 

 

Inside the mind of.....

Toshiya

 

It was very late at night when I finally returned home. I found Taro in his apartment, devastated, torn apart between two souls which he dearly loved. Now he came to realized under the hardest circumstances that it was possible to love two souls. He told me everything about Tadashi's fate and it was heartbreaking to see him suffer like that. He didn't deserve that, they all didn't. And all I could do was hold onto him and listen. No clever words no well meant advise. God knew I had enough going on myself and I wanted to tell and ask for Taro's opinion but of course I kept quiet about my shocking kiss with Kaoru.

I opened the door and slipped over something on the floor. My room was only lit by the moon light but I made out an envelope on the floor. I picked it up and felt something bulgy. Turning the lights on with my elbow, I opened it but there was no letter inside. Instead I hold a pair of car keys in my hand. I was shocked, could it be? This letter needed no explanation because I knew exactly who delivered it.

I put my bag down and left my apartment again. I took the elevator down to the parking lot, the dim blue lights of the elevator making me unnecessarily sleepy. The reflection in the crystal mirror showed a young, modern man who seemed more and more strange to me. Modern haircut, the clothes, even my body language and words fit more and more into this time. Maybe it was the lack of sleep which made me realize that I finally peeled off that old skin which hold me back from everything. From Life, new people, even from myself. Without realizing it, I had changed.

I stepped out the elevator and looked around, not knowing what I was looking for. I fished out the car keys and pushed a little button. In the distance I heard a noise and saw lights flashing. I ran over to where the lights came from and stopped speechless in front of a dark blue Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT. Or at least that's what the license plate said. I was baffled and embarrassed about it. It couldn't be that the car was meant for me and if so, I was mad about myself, giving the impression that I might be buyable. What could I possibly do with such a ridiculous expensive car? I couldn't even drive! Not to mention that I would NEVER drive through mad Tokyo's traffic with any kind of vehicle!

I didn't know why but I opened the door and it proved that the keys really belonged to it. I sat down into the soft leather seat, smelled the new car and looked at the high tech surrounding me... it was a beautiful creation, no doubt about that but I had no idea how to possibly move it. I would return the car keys the following day and decline it. Naturally.

My eyes wandered over the interior when I saw a cream colored box lying on the passenger's seat right next to me. This time there was a card sticking to the ribbon on top of it. Not that the car was absolutely lavish... I hesitated but pulled out the card. His handwriting was just as he was: Elegant and expensive looking.

 

I imagined you wearing it while driving this car.

Please fulfill my vision and make use of it.

K


I took off the lid and pulled out a custom made, black leather jacket. Out of the finest leather and decorated with silver rivets. It was a piece of art, touching it left a pleasant feeling on my skin. So I couldn't help myself and I got out of the car and put it on. It fit perfectly, my reflection on the car window looked like one of these fashion adverts in ginza. Again, new attire, new person.

I collected the card and box from the inside and closed the car from the outside again. I kept the jacket on but decided to return both gifts in the morning immediately. Too much was simply too much. I wasn't his in any kind of sense and accepting gifts from Kaoru seemed just too much. Not after the last incident when he demanded me so selfishly.

The next morning came and I found myself in front of Kaoru's closed office. Cursing at myself, I went to work and it turned out that Kaoru and his highest subordinates had left, without telling anyone when and why. There was a silent uneasiness among us workers but we hosted Kaoru's business as usual. It wasn't only his absence which caused the uneasiness. I saw it in their faces and heard it in their unspoken words: A strange anxiety which could not be named.

After my shift was done, I looked for Sakito for a chat in private. Asking about the current situation, he simply shrugged his shoulders and added that it was better not to know everything. Well, unfortunately I WAS here on earth to know about everything, concerning a special someone in particular but Sakito could hardly know that. He knew something but my guts told me that he was forbidden to talk about it. I knew that Sakito also counted to Kaoru's closer circle of subordinates as he was driving and working for Kaoru's car park as well.

I wasn't stupid. Naive maybe but I knew as much that Kaoru was boss over the prefecture where we were living on and I probably suspected right that not all business here was legal and white. But he was my responsibility and I wouldn't give up on him and protect him. Come what may. My ambitions sank lower and lower when the whole week passed and still no sign of Kaoru and his subordinates. The box with his leather jacket rested on my table, on top of it the keys. I only kept the card. I concentrated on his energy but couldn't sense a thing. He must have been miles away. I also realized that the feeling of being observed stopped. I should have been happy about it but at the same time it concerned me.

I wasn't the most attentive Angel when it came to non-verbal exchange of feelings but I was a quick learner and felt that my energy slowly found its rhythm with Kaoru's energy stream. It was hard to subscribe but it made me feel getting on in my business with him, although with little steps. Even Ni~ya seemed more at ease with his energy-sprout Sakito and I was sincerely happy for them. Although he still didn't talk to me.

My uneasiness grew every day and at the end of the second week I was a mess. Calling the higher sphered Angels because of a disappearance of one mortal protege seemed too much. So all I could do was waiting. I thought about all possibilities to find Kaoru, in the physical and mental way. I tried it with dream traveling but I literally found all doors closed. Why? Because I was too inexperienced? Too weak?

What if he died far away and I wasn't there to fetch him? But most of all, how could he escape without me noticing it in the first place? Was I so busy? Inattentive? And what if I had failed in my task altogether, for now and all eternity? And what would Hakuei say? Did he know anything about my business here?

Now pain for two absent souls set in. I felt numb. In my desperation, I called for Sakito and we smoked on top of the roof top. He breathed out his smoke playfully and his beautiful light colored hair hung half into his face. He was so lovely, I really liked him.

“I know it's not my business but I feel very unsettled...”

Sakito looked at me. “Toshiya, I already told you, there is business we have no right to know about.”

“Maybe it's not the business I care about.” There was no way in hiding whom I was really concerned about.

“So it is him?” Sakito narrowed his eyes and looked playfully back at me. “You both can't hide it very well. Anyone with brain noticed it. That incident with Kaoru scolding his employees that night at the club, that was personal Toshiya. And your face right now just confirmed it.”

“What?!” I knew that the crew was suspicious of me because Kaoru kept an extra careful eye on me but hearing it out loud was something completely different. “It's not like that. We are just concerned about each other.”

“Hai hai....” Sakito took another drag. “It's fine with me but I tell you Toshiya because I like you: Don't get in too deep. There are a lot of people who want to hurt Kaoru by hurting his business, the people he cares about. Take down a notch, for your own safety... and the freedom of your soul.”

“You are racing his cars?” I asked, changing the topic and Sakito nodded. “I saw them in the underground car park.”

“Let's just say that this establishment isn't his only source of income. That's also why I'm not concerned that they left for two weeks in a row. They used to do that in the past.” I felt Sakito's eyes wandering down my upper body. “Jesus Totchi, that leather jacket is fantastic. Where did you get that?”

I paled. In a rush and being poor on clothes I grabbed for Kaoru's leather jacket earlier and I had to confess that it felt so good wearing it.

“I got it for a special price in town.”

“Really nice.” Sakito smiled.




~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was a gray, cold day when Sakito and Toshiya walked through the park back from school to their home. Although they invited Taro to come and join them for something hot to drink, he declined and murmured that he had something to do. Of course Toshiya could imagine what it was. They parted ways and so it was just the two of them.... well not quite. Invisibly Ni~ya followed but as always he didn't say a word to Toshiya and Sakito had no idea about Ni~ya's existence whatsoever, not to mention what Toshiya really was.

They joked and Sakito made fun of what one of his teachers said about one of his paintings earlier, when the hair on Toshiya's neck suddenly started to rise and his eyes changed without warning to red pupils.

Everything happened within seconds: Toshiya screaming mentally at Ni~ya, then he knocked Sakito unconscious with a snap of his fingers and carried him over to a bench on the sidewalk... a cold gust of wind marked the appearance of the intruders: On the frozen green grass, Tsukasa appeared and behind a tree, Yuana as a wolf stepped to the front and joined him. Next to Tsukasa, an uniform clad Demon made his appearance as well: Gackt, Leader of the Demon army. And to make the quartet complete, a terrifying high laughter filled the air, of course, Mako.

Four against one.... two. Ni~ya became visible next to Toshiya when he made sure that Sakito has been taken care of from strangers in the park. It somehow filled Toshiya with a little more courage that Ni~ya joined him. Toshiya looked around and realized that humans luckily couldn't see them in their fighting mode. Ni~ya and Toshiya were both concerned about the gathering of high class Demons but they didn't show it. Ni~ya quickly looked at Toshiya's transformed eyes before he turned his attention back to the Demons in front of them and narrowed his eyes.

Tsukasa smiled. “Welcome, children of heaven. You don’t honestly believe that two second class Guardian Angels can stop us?”

“Then what is it to you, starting a battle with two second class Guardian Angels?” Toshiya snapped back.

The anticipation was palpable. Tsukasa lifted up his head and with a piercing glare he eyed Toshiya. “You are very special gifted I see and on top of it in that 'mule of an Angel'-Karyu's area.... can it be that you are something special to him?”

As hell's watchdog, Tsukasa was perfect in counting one and one together. He was highly intelligent and very shrewd. His whole aura extended danger and power and thus Toshiya's silence was answer enough.

“Too bad you crossed our business here. Now you are both in it.”

“Don’t you dare touching innocent humans here!” Toshiya threatened and opened his wings, completely switching into the Angel of Death-mode. Ni~ya opened his wings as well, although he had no special powers but he could naturally move faster with them.

“How touching….” Tsukasa moved his head slightly into Yuana's direction and the wolf started running into a small crowd of humans. The two Angels had no idea what the wolf was capable of. His wolf form disappeared and like a cloud of dust he ran through the humans.... when he became visible again, the four people fell dead to the ground. Just like that. Without any open wounds. Toshiya covered his mouth in shock, the initial second when Mako collected the souls and disappeared with them. So that's what Karyu was talking about the other day. They are collecting souls for their army. Then Gackt must be their army's Leader.

Brave as they were, Toshiya started storming towards Mako to rescue the souls but he was already gone. Meanwhile Yuana made a group of newly died souls. They were too much, too powerful for the two of them. Ni~ya tried to get to the souls first but Mako had already reappeared with a terrifying, high laughter. Gackt stormed towards Ni~ya, that was also when Mako froze in his moves and a well known voice echoed through the air.

“SHINYA! Get the souls!”

Toshiya couldn't believe his ears and eyes. There really was his past life time-mother, also in Angel of Death mode with the red eyes and he was so beautiful, so skilled and elegant. Shinya collected the newly dead souls while Mako remained in a frozen state. The Demons started to get uneasy from this higher sphered energy and looked around where it came from. Shinya formed words of love on his lips when he looked at Toshiya for the split of a second before he disappeared into heaven again.

“… Shinya….” Was all Toshiya was able to whisper.

“MOVE!!!” Tsukasa screamed a commanded Yuana to attack again.

Everything happened too fast: Yuana attacking humans, Gackt storming towards Ni~ya who tried to attack Yuana. Then finally Karyu landed next to Toshiya, accompanied by the Leader of the Angels of Revenge, Kazu.

“Ni~ya!!!” Toshiya screamed and Karyu flew towards them but it was too late. In Gackt's hand, a red, long spear appeared... a sickening chop filled the air and Ni~ya fell to the ground..... and so did his wings. Toshiya's high pitched scream filled the air. Kazu, the Leader of the fighting class in heaven, stormed towards Gackt, Leader of the fighting class in hell.

“You think you can disarm me, Revenge?” In Gackt's hand was the lethal, infamous Longinus spear. The long missed spear which originally belonged to heaven but got lost during the last war.

Kazu disappeared and so did Gackt, their inhuman fighting moves too quick to see and their weapons' sounds filling the air. Meanwhile Toshiya had disappeared to bring back the souls because Mako was miraculously still frozen in mid air---- when a holy voice filled the air.

“Stop this, now.”

Everybody turned around to see two Angels with six wings each floating down to the ground. Two of the Seraphim had come down to earth. All Angels dropped to their knees and remained silent, only Ni~ya’s heartbreaking and painful whimpering could be heart, he was paralyzed by the pain and in and out of consciousness. In that moment, Toshiya reappeared and he stormed towards Ni~ya and lifted him up into his lap, reassuring that everything's gonna be okay. But the truth was far worse.

Seraphim Kai, Angel of Love and Light and Seraphim Kazuki, Angel of Time, walked into the middle of the little battlefield. Their six wings shone of pure energy. That also explained why Mako was still frozen, Kazuki was the only one with such powers. With the wave of one hand, he also froze Gackt and said to Karyu: “Get it.”

Karyu got the Longinus spear and Kazuki lifted the paralyzation from Gackt again. The Demons gathered together around Tsukasa while Kai rushed over to Toshiya whom hold Ni~ya in his arms.

“Kai-“ Toshiya was devastated. He was still shocked from the brutal incident and his hands and body were all over stained with some kind of blood. Kai cared over Ni~ya's head and took his consciousness away. Kai made a sorrowful face and looked up at Toshiya. His gaze meant no good.

Meanwhile, Kazuki was having a word with Tsukasa, Gackt and Yuana. He let Mako go moments ago. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t name ALL OF YOU to the Lord of Darkness!!!!” Kazuki was out of his mind. “Open fire on innocent Angels on natural zone on earth… SPEAK UP!!!”

Tsukasa looked back at the holy Angel. “We don't owe you any kind of explanation. Admit that you are acting against the contract of heaven and hell yourself!”

“Spare me your demonic interrogation tactics! You impulsive old Demon pack harmed an innocent Angel who was no threat to you and believe me, this will have consequences.”

Kai and Toshiya were captured in their own wing healing universe. Together they applied their hand magic on Ni~ya's damaged root chakra on his back, trying to seal the wound and taking the pain away. This wound, as small as it was, could kill an Angel easily. Ni~ya's immortal life hung on a thin threat. “I have to bring him back to heaven.” Kai said and Toshiya nodded exhausted.

Kazuki gestured the three Demons to leave and they really stepped back. It was just Tsukasa who couldn't keep his mouth shut: “This conversation, poultry, is not over yet!” And with a gush of wind the Demon's disappeared.

“…he called us poultry....” Karyu whispered and Kazu poked him into the rips to keep silent.

Kazuki looked at Karyu who hold the spear and said to Kazu: “Please bring the spear back to heaven, to Kamijo.” Karyu handed Kazu the spear and his Leader disappeared.

Kai almost whispered with Toshiya. “We can only ease the pain but his whole nerve system is going to suffer the following days, weeks. He needs a wing healer around the clock until the pain is no more. It’ll be a very hard time for both of them.”

Toshiya nodded. “What about his wings? Will he ever have wings again?”

Kai's look was answer enough. “If humans loose an arm it doesn’t grow back either. I’m sorry Toshiya.” Kai took Toshiya's hand. “So much human emotion and compassion about an Angel who is not even family?”

Karyu's voice answered from behind. “He's like his mother.”

“You bet he is!”

Toshiya turned around in surprise and saw Shinya standing in the distance.

“Shinya!” He shouted out loud but didn't move because of Ni~ya on his lap.

“I will bring him back to heaven, now.” Kai stood up from the ground, carefully lifting Ni~ya up from Toshiya and took him onto his arms.

“Kai-sama.... Ni~ya has no close friends or family I know of and his Guardian Angel…. Well they’re not very close either....”

“What do you want me to do?” Kai asked kindly.

It was a hard decision and made Toshiya swallow a few times before he answered: “Bring him to Hakuei. They know each other. He shall rest at our apartment until he feels better. Hakuei will understand.”

Kai nodded and looked lovingly back at Toshiya. “You know there is a lot of potential and love inside of you. I hope you will be rewarded one day for your kindness.”

Toshiya smiled. “Thank you so much.” Kai looked over at Kazuki and nodded. Together they disappeared and returned to heaven.

Toshiya jolted when he felt tender arms taking him into a hug and a well known smell encircling him. “Shinya.” After all this time. He closed his eyes and Karyu stood with kind of a silly but proud beam next to them. He touched Toshiya’s head and Shinya on his shoulder. “That was great team work today.”

Shinya nodded. “But don’t you dare dragging Toshiya into any more pointless fights!”

Karyu gawked. “Me?! I would never do anything to harm Toshiya.”

“He looked out for me all the time on earth.” Toshiya added.

Shinya looked back at Karyu. “Really? Thank you.”

“Naturally.”

“You know,” Shinya started, “If I hadn’t known you before I could swear that you have changed quite a big deal….”

“Hah! Thanks for the flowers Shin-chan!”

“Oh don’t you start…!”

Karyu smiled but he turned dead serious when he addressed Toshiya. “Soon all protégé will return to heaven, a few months earlier than originally planned.” Toshiya was surprised. “And I will bring you kids back to heaven personally to guarantee for your safety.”

“And I have to leave at any moment.” Shinya kind of panicked. “It was only a very special exception from Metatron for me to come to earth and help those souls.” Shinya touched Toshiya's arms reassuringly. “I will be there when you come back to heaven.”

“That sounds great.”

“I will escort Shinya back to heaven, wait here for me, I will bring you back to your apartment.”

Toshiya nodded and after one last hug, Karyu disappeared together with Shinya.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Karyu made extra sure that everything was all right when he returned Toshiya back safely to his apartment. His dear son was heavily disturbed about what happened earlier. The Demons and then Ni~ya, he sincerely hoped that Ni~ya survived, that his mind would stay strong in the days which were to come. Because loosing your angelic wings was automatically paired up with heavy depressions and the feeling of 'not rightfully belonging into heaven', at least that's what history proved. Karyu remained silent about the fact, that Toshiya asked Kai to return Ni~ya to Hakuei's place. It made him very proud to see his son act so selfless.

There was a certain melancholy in Toshiya's voice when he told Karyu that his protege Kaoru left without a word of goodbye nearly two weeks ago. It unsettled him and not being able to 'feel' or 'communicate' with Kaoru's higher self made Toshiya doubt his powers only more.

Karyu reassured that things like this could happen, Toshiya was still an apprentice after all. He couldn't go perfectly trained into this job, he had to learn on the job... but it comforted him only a little.


The following day, it was already midday and Toshiya's day off, Karyu decided to check in on his son just in case and he caught himself watching Toshiya in his sleep. He was so beautiful, slept like a child, not showing the sorrow he was carrying within.

Karyu's gaze wandered over the exquisite interior of the little apartment. Surely not of Toshiya's making, he liked it neat and clean. It literally shouted 'expensive' and seeing Toshiya's few earthly belongings in between, it seemed so out of place, so not belonging there that it was almost comical.

The pair of jeans, the white shirt and sneakers, his working suit and tie..... and then Karyu's gaze stuck on the cream colored box on the table. Curiosity killed the cat and he was DYING to know what was inside..... he shouldn't peak but there wasn't even a second of hesitation. A card lay on top of it and he read it with narrowed eyes. Even without the signature he knew whose handwriting it was. He could feel the energy of it seeping through the card, a special Angel of Revenge-trait, to sniff creature's energies on things. Carefully he lifted the lid and saw that expensive leather jacket. He touched it and closed his eyes. Within seconds he saw Kaoru buying it, Toshiya trying it on in front of a fancy car, him wearing it outside and finally with the feeling of shame lying back into this box.

Karyu opened his eyes. He would kill him. That snobbish bastard of a human who was lusting for his son.

A yawn broke the silence and Toshiya turned around in his bed. Karyu settled himself on a little armchair.

“Good morning beautiful.”

Toshiya blinked dumbfounded but didn't say a word. He stretched himself.

“What do you want to know first? The time? It’s one pm or the amount of people knocking on your door?”

Toshiya blinked and finally murmured. “Who?”

“At first an inhuman visitor with funny dark hair and small body size….”

“Taro.”

“And second was human. Pretty face, bright hair. Must be living here as well because he had slippers on….”

“Sakito.”

“I didn't talk to the human but to the little one.”

“What were you talking about?

“That I will bring you and Ryutaro home tomorrow. This area gets cleansed you know.”

Still sleepy, Toshiya sat up in bed with terrible bed hair. He was still working on the information and all he could think of was.... “What about Kaoru? He hasn't returned yet.”

“Guess you will all watch your protege from heaven. But this area gets shut down, that's priority number one.”

Sometimes destiny settles things you were racking your brains about. Although it was Toshiya's idea to become invisible and watch Kaoru from afar... he didn't like the sudden rush. Next to that he wouldn't have a chance to see him one last time physically. Well, maybe it was better that way.... or not?

“So, what about this Longinus Lance?”

“What about it?”

“Why is it so important?”

“Toshiya, I'm forbidden to talk about it.”

The young Angel gave him a look which said 'as if you would care'.

Karyu rolled his eyes and continued. “Jesus Christ was pierced with the Longinus Lance on the cross. It possesses the power to kill even the strongest inhuman being...”

And Toshiya counted one and one together. “You mean...”

“Yeah, the teleporting being which is about to be reborn. Or at least the prophecies say so. Anyway, it's better in heaven's hands.”

A knock on the door broke their conversation and both knew it was Sakito.

“I better get that.” Toshiya got up and Karyu nodded.

“One last thing,” Karyu looked to the gift box from Kaoru and back at Toshiya, “watch yourself and be conscious about your actions. Trust your instinct with people and in new situations.”

Toshiya narrowed his eyes funnily. “Are you jealous Dad?”

“I'm dead serious Toshiya. And besides.....he’s not as hot as I am.”

Toshiya rolled his eyes.

“See you tomorrow then.”

“Sure.” Toshiya smiled and Karyu touched him on the shoulder before he vanished into thin air.

Shocked about his hair when he passed the mirror, Toshiya opened the door.

“Saki, so sorry to keep you waiting.”

“You're still in bed?”

“Yeah, kind of tired lately.” Toshiya gestured him to come in and he had barely closed the door when Sakito started.

“You know, the strangest thing happened to me yesterday...” Toshiya payed special attention on his part of the story. “For the first time, I fainted in open space. You know, I always had a weak circuit and everything but I found myself surrounded by people, giving me drinks and sweets. I was almost touched by so much attention....”

“But are you all right?” So his magic worked and Sakito forgot about him being there as well.

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course!”

“I will escort you to school, maybe looking after Taro as well.” Toshiya decided and he ran into his bathroom. “Give me ten minutes!”

Sakito smiled and nodded beaten. Now that Ni~ya was gone, Toshiya kind of felt responsible for his good friend. He only hoped that heaven came up with a good substitute until Ni~ya would be well again.

 

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

One terrible night followed the next. Ryutaro hardly slept these days and if he did, memories and scenes played like a never ending movie, again and again. Eaten by his regret of having feelings for two important souls in his life, he thought about the 'what if's' endlessly. He even ceased contact to all people around him and only regret made him go to Toshiya earlier this morning, only to find Karyu there who told him that it was time to return to heaven... like tomorrow. Now Taro had to make a decision because he was running out of time.

After that incident with Tadashi last week, he called in sick and didn't talk to Tadashi either. Not because he didn't care but to give Tadashi and himself time. It wasn't an easy decision but Taro was sure it was the right one. They used to see each other on an average of eight hours a day during art school and talked the rest of the day on their phones while Tadashi was feeding his fishes or when he was cooking.... Taro missed him so much, his voice, his advice, his mistimed comments about daily observations... There was no way he could ever grow tired of him, ever be mad at him. Although Tadashi didn't call either, Taro, naturally, wasn't mad at him. He understood.

Taro couldn't recall when he last laughed or smiled. There was this growing emptiness which he never had before and just imagining their daily jokes, filled him with bitter sweet memories. With Tadashi, everything was beautiful, filled with meaning and warmth... maybe because he was so pure. His soul was just so pure and innocent. He was so unique and totally satisfied with himself and his life.... What a great honor it must be if such a person told you that he loved you.

Taro touched his cheeks and memories of human feelings came into his mind. Things he wouldn’t feel unless he was human again. No heartbeat, no pulse, no heat, no physical joys.... but he recalled it, wanted to feel it again. He would never give up Tadashi, not to any other person. The mere thought of someone else looking after him filled him with jealousy.... what happened here with him? What would become of all his friends?

After more than a week, Taro stood up early, driven by the wish to see and talk to Tadashi again. He was patient for what seemed like a decade and now every minute was too long. The night before he couldn't sleep, searching for the right words. He waited until school was over at Tadashi's favorite place in the park. There was no guarantee that he would show up but he simply had to try. He would wait, come what may.

Taro wore black trousers, a white shirt and a black bow. The matching black coat and small top hat made his outfit perfect. He needed this attire, it gave him security, showed him how he felt, whom he was. A heart-shaped green balloon from the flower shop nearby made his outfit perfect. He bound it around his wrist. Every step he took, the balloon funnily bounced behind him through the air. People of course were looking and most of all the children but Taro didn't care. He was on a highly important mission.

Taro's heart missed a beat when he saw familiar blond hair in the distance. He was there! He really was! Tadashi sat on a bench and drew into his sketch book. Knowing Tadashi on his spiritual level, Taro saw that his energy field was very thin, the vitality not as beaming as it used to be.... the observation nearly killed him. But he was there and seemed physically all right.

The last days, Tadashi thought constantly about Taro. He couldn't recall how he lived before they had met. From day one, they were a team and harmonized perfectly. There was communication without words which was so important to Tadashi and his nature... he couldn't imagine another existing person being able to do so. He loved him, it was as simple as that. God knows he knew it the moment Taro came through the classroom door and asked if he could sit next to him. He was perfect, in every possible way. As was their kiss. Tadashi felt close to faint the moment he tasted Taro's lips and only realized later that he was crying into the kiss.

But he could never be so selfish and bind a young, aspiring person to himself. He, who would probably soon turn into a cripple when his eyesight left him. No, he didn't want Taro's pity or help. It was simply impossible.

Exhausted from everything, Tadashi pulled down his glasses, closed his eyes and massaged his forehead. Without glasses he was almost blind but he knew that since childhood. He put his glasses back on and his gaze stuck on a floating, green, heart-shaped balloon in the distance. It seemed quite odd in these surroundings but when the person underneath came into sight, he stopped breathing.

Out of reflex, Tadashi lay his book and pencil aside and he stood up out of awe, to do Taro the honor. He looked like a Pierrot, it fit him so perfectly. And with hushed breathing, Taro finally came to a halt in front of Tadashi. The blond slightly bent down to greet him. Sheepishly, Taro looked at his shoes rather than Tadashi's face but recalled immediately why he was here. He removed the balloon from his wrist, took Tadashi's arm and knotted it around his wrist instead.

“You must never set the balloon free and take good care of it.” Taro said with a sincere tone but still didn’t look into Tadashi's eyes. As surprised as he was, Tadashi still didn’t say a word because he was too moved and partly still didn't get the whole sense of it.

“Will you take this light and bouncy heart with you and never let it go?”

In slight panic, Tadashi seemed at a loss of words and when he finally cleared his throat, he said:“Only if the heart really wants to be with me.”

“It wants to.” Taro almost whispered and finally looked up into Tadashi's face sheepishly. He stretched out his gloved hand and took Tadashi's hand. The blond cared over Taro's with his thumb.

“I’m sorry if I hurt you…. I never wanted to cause trouble and…” Tadashi stuttered but Taro silenced him. “You never did. Please believe me if I say so. Please trouble me with everything. I want to help you and be with you so please don't send me away.”

Tadashi shook his head in disbelieve. All his good intentions seemed pointless in front of him now. “How can you be so selfless and good... Taro, there was and never will be a time I want to be without you. But you must understand that I can't bind you selfishly to a sick person like me.” His voice became thin because he had to speak against something he really wanted to have and it pained him so so much.

Taro took also his other hand. “You don't understand. It is my wish to be with you. Even if you push me away, I will still follow you. Now, all you can do is to accept me or have a lifetime stalker next to your bedroom window.”

Tadashi laughed out loud and closed his eyes, tears fell onto his shirt. It was heartbreaking. Taro took him into his arms and cared over his back. He leaned forward and kissed Tadashi onto his forehead and finally tenderly onto his lips. It was a salty tasting kiss and Tadashi was shaking so much that Taro was afraid he would faint. He whispered against his lips with closed eyes: “Are you all right?”

“Now I am.” He hold onto Taro's jacket for balance which made the smaller one smile.

“And another thing....” Taro mentioned and Tadashi leaned back to look him down into his face, “Never leave me again for such a long time, I've missed you.”

It was a shy kiss onto Taro's cheek before the blond let go off him and took Taro's hand. It was so much more than simply holding hands, the Angel felt that it was like a shout for help, grasping for the last straw of hope he possibly had. And Taro would never let him go.

Out of habit and partly because Tadashi was too confused from all the ongoing, Taro slung his bag over his shoulder and smiled. Together, they left hand in hand, followed by a bouncy green heart-shaped balloon.

Chapter Text

Song to this chapter:

10 – The bruised soul

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJBkYPO67K4&index=10&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

 

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 27

Cruel Angel’s thesis

 

 

 

Living in heaven became quiet. Or at least it seemed so in the lower spheres of it. With all the Guardian Angel-apprentices left for earth, their seniors had time to look into their own developments, their unfinished tasks. Some of them were busy watching their protege on earth from a save distance in heaven, because they were absolutely forbidden to interfere into their life.

Hakuei was one of these who decided NOT to watch his proteges' every step. He had several reasons why. Firstly: He trusted in Toshiya's abilities and didn't want to become an annoying mother hen to worry about his every step. Secondly: There was no use in watching him because he wasn't allowed to interfere anyway and Thirdly: Out of self-protection. Being cool on the outside didn't mean that he didn't care. But maybe seeing him doing something dangerous would kill Hakuei. So he spared himself the trouble, the sleepless nights.... which were part of his life since he left anyway.

So the last time he saw Toshiya was six months ago when he left.... not that it took his anxiety, not that him acting grown-up and in control showed how he truly felt, it was far from that. Going over to Shinya's and seeing shades of Toshiya in him or talking to him about Toshiya.... it was hard and Hakuei stopped doing it because he didn't want to be a burden and constantly reminded of him.

So the very first news he received from earth was when heavy knocks sounded on Hakuei's door. He jolted behind his book and stormed over to open it, and looked into a pair of warm but shocked eyes which belonged to Seraphim Kai. His visit meant no good and when Hakuei's gaze wandered down to the bundle in his arms, he knew why.

His gaze stuck on a fainted Ni~ya who hung lifeless in Kai's arms. The Seraphim nodded politely and came into Hakuei's apartment while the Guardian Angel still stood glued to his spot. Leaving a long trace of Angel-blood on the floor. Dear Lord!

“There is no time to lose! Quickly Hakuei!”

Hakuei stormed over to his bed where Kai settled the harmed Angel down, onto his stomach. That was when Hakuei saw the whole damage. He sucked in his breath. “Dear God, how-!”

“Later! Give me your hand!” Kai settled next to Ni~ya and so did Hakuei. “I need your energy, mine is almost gone for the day.”

Hakuei, of course, did as he had been told and an unknown feeling of pain and sorrow came over him. Ni~ya's skin was ash-gray and his life energy pulsated around the root chakra on his back. Apart from that it didn't look very good.

It was reflex, when Hakuei brushed the strands out of Ni~ya's face, when he cared over his head and cheek repeatedly.

Kai was concentrating but noticed Hakuei's tenderness in silence. The treatment showed effect and Hakuei felt how his energy slowly left his body, he concentrated on not fainting. An energy-transfer was something very demanding.... and personal too.

“I'm sorry Kai but what's with Ruka?” Hakuei asked suspiciously.

Kai spoke without turning his attention from Ni~ya. “I’m coming straight from Toshiya, he sent me here.”

And his breath stopped for just a moment.... That was the most surprising answer Hakuei could have get. Of course he knew that Ni~ya and Toshiya didn't like each other although Toshiya wasn't supposed to know anything about their past. Well, he was clever enough to suspect SOMETHING but warm-hearted as Toshiya was, he sent Kai to him anyway, knowing that Ni~ya and Ruka didn't get along. An inner joy spread like new energy through Hakuei and he smiled at himself: Toshiya trusted him. Just like he did in return.

“The protégé were ambushed on earth by mighty Demons. Ni~ya was harmed the most.”

“And what about Toshiya?!”

“Safe, he and Ni~ya were very brave. They stood up against the Demons alone before any of us had arrived.”

“And Toshiya is really all right?”

“Oh you can bet on that. Karyu always has his eyes on him.”

“I see. I should really thank him for that.”

Kai gave a reassuring smile before he turned his attention back at Ni~ya. “He needs a lot of love and care right now. I will talk to Ruka later.”

Hakuei nodded and seemed calm while all kind of thoughts raced through his head. What happened down on earth? What's it with the Demons? And how come that circumstances brought him and Ni~ya back together again, although they parted so badly in their last life time? It must be karma and it came at the utmost worst timing ever.

Ni~ya surely wouldn't be very enthusiastic to awake in Hakuei's bed... or maybe he would be? Nevertheless, it could cause quite some confusion on every Angel who's involved. And all just because Toshiya had no idea what happened back then.... Hakuei should have been more honest, more open with Toshiya. The reason why Hakuei never said a word about the past was because he was completely done with it.

“I will look after him but I can’t promise that he will stay.”

“That’s okay. In that case, just call for Ruka and I’m sure that he will get Ni~ya. I will check on you every few hours and if he gets worse, call me immediately, got it?” Kai smiled and pulled back his hand and the energy stream stopped between the three of them. “He should be stable now to rest a few hours.”

They were all exhausted and Hakuei's plan on going to Seraphim Aiji's mental training today was skipped. Kai nodded and was ready to leave when Hakuei's voice hold him back. “Kai-sama….”

Kai paused in front of the door. “Toshiya will make it. He is very strong and very brave. I'm sure heaven will need him and his gifts in the future.”

But why did Hakuei get the feeling that his beloved protege was slowly sliding out of his grasp? He knew that Toshiya was special and talented but he never thought that he could possibly lose him to heaven or anything else. Maybe Hakuei took Toshiya relying on him for too granted, Toshiya needing him for too granted. God he missed him so much, wanted to talk to him so badly, tell him everything that was and never would stand between them.

“I'm sure he will tell you everything when he returns tomorrow.”

Hakuei turned his head back at Kai and looked at him in total bewilderment, speechless.

“You didn't know?” Kai came closer again. “The area Toshiya's living in gets evacuated. All the protege return to heaven to continue their work from a safe distance.”

Now this was big news and Hakuei presumed earlier that he wouldn't see him for another six months. And now, tomorrow? And what about Ni~ya? He desperately had to talk to Toshiya.

“The first night will be agony. I will definitely come back later, probably even stay the night. Let him rest now and call me when he starts whimpering.”

It sounded horrifying but Hakuei nodded and said his thanks while he looked at the hurt Angel without wings. “I will.”

Kai felt that it was Hakuei now who needed a word of love. So he took Hakuei’s hands into his own and looked him in the eyes: “Toshiya trusts you and he knows what you are capable of. You will make it.” How come he always knew what to say? Must be because of his Seraphim nature.

And with a last smile, Kai left the two Angels alone. Hakuei turned around and looked back at the sleeping bundle in his bed. He took a chair and settled himself next to Ni~ya. The young Angel was shaking, making huffed noises now and then as if having a bad dream. It was a natural reflex when Hakuei took Ni~ya's hand and simply hold onto it, gave him the feeling that there was someone there for him. Maybe it was his imagination that the shaking went down a little bit. It became dead silent inside his apartment. One strange noise filled the air though, Hakuei looked up into Ni~ya's sleeping face.

It was the sound of drops falling onto his pillow.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was an emergency meeting inside Kamijo's hall. The three Seraphim stood around him and the Angels of Revenge Kazu and Karyu behind them. The Longinus Spear leaned against Kamijo's throne-like chair and he looked at the spear, heavily thinking with his hand folded in front of his mouth. He knew the reports from all Angels and what he had missed on earth a few hours earlier. It wasn't like they didn't know that hell was building an army.... what really concerned them was that now they didn't even try hiding the fact.

“Lucifer.” Was all Kamijo murmured and Kazuki gestured wildly with his arms.

“Yeah, Sugizo! That arrogant, fallen bastard! He's not even hiding the fact! Wide in the open, like he always did and always will do!”

Kazuki breathed in and out slowly and Kai smiled when he felt Aiji, next to Kazuki, cooling his mood down. For a quick moment, he even hold Kazuki's arm and the spirited Kazuki didn't even pull his arm away. Kai looked back at Kamijo who stood up and walked over to his long table, gesturing the Angels to follow him. They all took a seat.

“If I may say something,” Kai started, “how is it possible that no one from hell interferes, don't you think that's strange?”

Kamijo answered. “We know from Karyu that Sugizo builds up an army because he desires Kirito's throne but there is no guarantee that this is true. Maybe Kirito is involved in all of this and their army is meant for something else... We must also consider that possibility.”

“Like attacking heaven, starting a war out of greed and territorial claims.” Kazu added.

“Fact is”, Kamijo said, “that they want to find the teleporter as well. We all want that creature who is able to wander all spheres.”

“What do we do if we find it? And what if hell finds it first?” Karyu asked.

“Heaven and hell agreed by contract to kill it to avoid quarreling.” Kamijo explained. Karyu and Kazu were stunned, the rest of the Higher Angels knew about it. “BUT.... personally I would say we act on how the moment requires it. Maybe we can talk to that higher developed creature.”

“And if not?” Karyu asked.

“Then you will do a fine job, I'm sure of it.” And Kamijo pointed with his head over to the Longinus spear. “Hell will be quite angry with us, possessing the spear again.”

“For sure. In their hands it was a ticking bomb.” Karyu said.

“And it belongs into heaven.” Kazu added.

Kazuki looked at Kamijo. “Will you talk to Kirito or even Atsushi?”

“I guess I have to. It's a very delicate matter. The following days, I will arrange a meeting up here in heaven.”

The Angels murmured to one and another when Aiji picked up sorrow coming from Kai. The Angel of moods was one who barely talked but he asked the Angels of Revenge: “What happened to the involved Angels on earth?”

Karyu answered. “The two Guardian Angel-apprentices survived. Toshiya is fine but Ni~ya lost his wings through Gackt's attack and is now back in heaven.”

They all knew who Gackt was, the Demon Army's Leader. Aiji absorbed the information pokerfaced but deep inside it hurt him unbelievably because he was one of the most emphatic Angels. Kai whispered to Kazuki and Aiji before he stood up. Kai excused himself from the round table and left Kamijo's hall. He was going back to Ni~ya, trying to heal and bring him back into consciousness.

Kamijo added after the door was closed. “The whole Tokyo-area is in high danger of Demon attacks. The Revenges will bring back all apprentices tomorrow, we are evacuating the city for time unknown. Or at least until negotiations with Kirito are through.” Kamijo was always making business with Kirito because his father left him in charge of hell-business as Kirito was Atsushi's successor.

“And until then?” Kazuki asked.

“I will communicate with hell later,” Kamijo said, “you, Kazuki and Aiji, please visit Ruki and tell him about everything we've discussed right now. And just in case Ruki didn't notice, please make sure that Ni~ya's human gets a substitute Guardian Angel. I will have a word with the Revenge's later because of our own heavenly army.”

Kazuki and Aiji nodded and left the room as well.

“I will call for you later, Karyu and Kazu.” The last Angel's left and Kamijo was all alone in his hall. Well, not entirely alone. He walked over to his throne and took the Longinus spear into his hands. Such a mighty weapon it was.

“Demon Angel, show yourself.”

Reita became visible. The last remaining spy from heaven. Not long ago, Shinya was one of the last two spies but Die blew his cover as he found his soul-mate even in an invisible state.

“Yes, Kamijo-sama.” Reita bent down slightly while his long cloak covered most of his face.

“Any news? From heaven or hell?” Absentminded, Kamijo stared at the spear.

“Nothing new. The Archangels are still going through the Akasha library to find any clues about the prophecy, the rest of the Angel's are quite silent out of fear. And about hell... I haven't heard a thing. I share the same opinion as you though.... We must consider that Kirito maybe knows about the growing Demon army. If Sugizo wants to take the throne? Most likely but what role Kirito plays in all that? I'm still trying to figure that out.”

Kamijo nodded. “Fine. I command you to go down to earth to the Tokyo-area. Catch up on every information you can get and report anything new immediately to me.”

“As you wish.” And Reita disappeared.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Today was the day.

The day to say good bye to their temporary life on earth. In the evening, Karyu would get Toshiya and him but Taro had mixed feelings about it. So many things have changed since he came down to earth and God knows, he didn't want to leave heaven in the first place, especially Aoi. But now, things have changed.... he had to leave Tadashi behind.

Today was the day to make a decision.

And the hardest of it all was to face his own Guardian Angel again, telling Aoi about his future plans. No matter what choice he would make, it would hurt someone eventually. But most of all it hurt himself. The first situation which hurt today was when he had to say 'good bye' to Tadashi earlier. Of course Tadashi had no idea what Taro really was or where he really had to go to but the mere thought of leaving Tadashi's surroundings was just....

Their last moment together played in Taro's head while he was on his way to Toshiya's place.

 

Flashback

The sun was unusually warm for the end of November and Taro enjoyed the warm color of light laying on his face. He was at Tadashi's place, insisted on visiting him although Tadashi had an art assignment due to tomorrow but the blond couldn't deny any of Taro's wishes. He was on his balcony, drawing his plants while Taro sat on an old rocking chair in the living room, enjoying the silence broken by Tadashi's pencil strokes.

When Taro entered earlier, he passed Tadashi's bedroom where the green heart shaped balloon was tied to Tadashi’s bed-post. It shouldn't have made him so unbelievably happy.
Taro looked down at his human looking hands in his lap, barely looking 20 years old, not showing the true age of his immortal soul. His true nature. And it felt like betraying Tadashi, showing him something that he was not. Promising him something that he couldn't give.... a mortal life with him.

“Ne Tadashi?” Taro said out loud and but the blond did not react so Taro continued. “I have to leave Tokyo for some time.”

Now that made Tadashi stop and he looked up through the window glass into the living room. “Where are you going?”

Taro kept on looking at his hands, he had to lie. “Visiting my family…. up north.” At least it was partly true. And Tadashi simply nodded, taking it as given. “When are you coming back?”

Taro had no answer for that because he had no idea how long it would take him to do what he had planned. He opened his mouth but nothing came out of it. All these well rehearsed phrases earlier were gone now.

Tadashi stood up and walked into the living room now, over to Taro whom stretched out his hand and Tadashi took it silently. The young Angel looked up at Tadashi. “There’s some family business I have to attend to. I hope to return right after everything is settled.”

Tadashi, being himself and totally trusting, went down onto his knees in front of Taro and took both of his hands. “Okay. You come back as soon as possible.”

Taro nodded. “I will.” His voice sounded very thin and Tadashi of course got that. He pulled Taro out of his chair, down to the floor with him and he made the shorter man sit with his back leaned against his stomach. Tadashi leaned in close from behind, rested with his upper body on Taro's back and nuzzled into his hair. Taro was surprised how natural it felt, being so close to Tadashi, their bodies making contact, his smell.... it seemed like they knew each other for ages.

They simply enjoyed each others company, when Tadashi broke the silence and said something strange. “Then why do I get the feeling to lose you?”

Taro turned around and released his hands. “What are you saying? You will never lose me okay?” He touched Tadashi's cheek and made him look at him. “No matter what future brings, I'm always with you. Never forget that.” He pulled his face closer and kissed Tadashi onto his lips. Once, twice, to make him believe it. And Taro's touch was hypnotizing, doing strange things to his head and feelings. Right here in his arms, time stood still. Duty and sickness didn't exist in this universe.

The doorbell rang and Tadashi froze for a moment. A quick kiss before he stood up to open the door. It took him a while to return which made Taro lean back to look at the front door. Tadashi returned with a big cardboard box. Suspicious of what was inside, Taro observed Tadashi handling the box very carefully. He put it down onto the floor and opened it slowly.

“What is it Tadashi?”

But he didn't get an answer.

“You’re making it exciting....” Taro already wanted to walk around Tadashi, when he suddenly turned around and hold a small, fluffy, gray, woolen ball in his hands with small blue eyes.

“Meow.”

It was a silent and tender noise which melted Taro's heart right away. “Oh my god!! You can't possibly-!! It is so cute! And so tiny!” The baby cat purred in Tadashi’s hands. He smiled because of Taro's happiness. He handled Taro the little kitten and enjoyed the sight he got. Taro was instantly in love with the kitten. He hold the fragile bundle and cared over it, played with it.

“It’s for you.” Tadashi said simply and sweet.

Taro looked up surprised. “W-what? How? I-I mean, why? Really? Tadashi, I can't possibly.... Well, you ordered me a kitten?” It was odd. It was Tadashi.... and he loved him for it.

Tadashi smiled and nodded. “Yes.”

It was reflex when Taro put the kitten down and hugged Tadashi tightly. Over and over he stammered 'thank you' and kissed him on the cheeks, on his mouth and Tadashi knew that this moment was the happiest in his entire life. Taro made him so happy, just being there with him and sharing his life, he was so happy.

“I know it’s sudden...” Tadashi broke the silence. “But I can't let you go without asking you first.”

“No matter what Tadashi, I say yes.”

Tadashi smiled uneasy. “You don’t even know what...”

“Then ask me.”

He inhaled and let out a deep breath while he kept the kitten from climbing up the chair and hold it in his hands. “Do you think, well but only if you want to and only if you can imagine to...well,” he paused, “do you want to live with me?”

Taro smiled but tried to hide his pain at the same time because of him leaving. Truth was, he so wanted to but how and when? “Yes Tadashi, I want to life with you. But let's talk about it after my return.”

Tadashi smiled and looked at the kitten before he handed it back to Taro. “I'm glad.”

“Thank you, for everything.” It came as a whisper from Taro.

It was like a dream, to both of them. Too good to be true... but they were running out of time, Taro was running out of time. He could hardly part from Tadashi and their kitten, delayed his departure again and again until it was almost too late to return to Toshiya's apartment, where Karyu would be waiting for them.

They called their cat Lisa. Taro carefully declined Tadashi's suggestion of 'Ingrid' or 'Helga' but he was happy with the name too.

It was a hard goodbye, Taro felt that Tadashi must have felt him being uneasy about something too. He hardly let him go, pulled him back twice before he was entirely out of the door. Taro had to promise to message him daily and it broke his heart even more knowing that he wouldn't be able to do so.

Sunken in thoughts, Taro touched his cheek where Tadashi kissed him only minutes before. 'I will always be with you, even when you're gone.'

End of Flashback

 

A deep sight only the night sky heard. Taro dug his hands deeply into his coat pockets and sunk his head into his enormous scarf. He was on his way to Toshiya, his last moments on earth in Angel form..... if Ruki approved of his plan.... and what about Aoi? His sad face and eyes were Taro's constant companion since he lost himself into Tadashi. It was never planned, nor written in his Akasha-Chronicle, that Tadashi 'would happen that way', never. It came as the biggest surprise in centuries. As Aoi once, a long time ago. Taro didn't want to admit it to himself but from experience he knew that kingdoms only fell when it already started to wither from within.

He loved Aoi, part of him always would. But before he knew it, he had moved on. Changed in so many ways in such a short amount of time. He had to let Aoi go and wondered if Aoi already knew. Taro was so nervous of their reunion later.

A strong and cold gust of wind made Taro look up in reflex. He was halfway through the park and lanterns were illuminating the romantic pathway and its dark trees. The Gothic looking metal benches were empty, humans were long at home around this time.... when a dark figure formed in front of him and red eyes looked straight at him. Taro changed into Angel-mode immediately and became invisible for humans, his fragile wings formed on his back. Although the apparition must have been spooky as hell to humans, it radiated something familiar...

“Toshiya.”

He was in full Angel of Death mode with his eyes and voice, he seemed like a stranger. Taro was supposed to meet him at his apartment. Something here was quite strange.

“What's going on?” Taro asked and came closer.

“I can't come with you.” Toshiya simply replied.

“But why? We have to return, it was an order.”

“I know and I'm sorry Taro for putting you into this position but I have to leave, now, quickly.”

“What am I supposed to do now?”

“Go to my apartment, Karyu will be there any minute now. I will come back to heaven as soon as I have finished my task.”

“Which task?”

“I gotta go Taro, Karyu might be on his way. Tell my loved ones that I'm sorry and that I love them.”

“But--!”

Toshiya nodded and with a gust of wind he disappeared. Taken aback, Taro started flying back to Toshiya's apartment. He landed on the skyscraper and ran into the building to Toshiya's apartment. He knocked and a familiar face opened the door. Seeing Taro's alarmed face, Karyu knew immediately that something was wrong. He gestured the young Angel inside and interrogated him. Taro told him everything and Karyu narrowed his eyes.

“He can't be serious... HE CAN'T BE FUCKING SERIOUS! Defying MY orders! Heaven's orders! IN A TIME LIKE THAT!” Karyu was furious because he knew about the consequencecs. Taro slightly shivered in shock from the sudden outburst.

Karyu crossed his arms in front of his chest, thinking about what to do. Taro dared asking. “Do you know which task Toshiya wants to finish?”

Karyu looked from Taro to the present box on Toshiya's table with that cursed message card on top of it. With a loud scream, he shoved the box down from the table. “Of course I know!! It's that damn protege of him! He's on his way to find Kaoru!”

Taro remembered Toshiya telling him about the disappearance of his protege. Now it started to make sense. Imagining Tadashi vanished, he would do anything to find him too. But yet, their relationship was something completely different... well was it? It must be, to Taro Toshiya always seemed like a rabbit around Kaoru was simply intimidating and mighty. But what was it with the box? Taro didn't dare to pick it up or read the card. Also the jacket inside didn't make sense to him... until he remembered Toshiya wearing it occasionally.... and another piece in the jigsaw fit. Was he so blind all this time?

“Taro, listen. I will try to find Toshiya and bring him back. I have to return the two of you into heaven. It's my task. Until then please wait here for us to return...”

“Karyu-san, there is something else. I know that Toshiya is specially gifted but when I talked to him today, he seemed like a stranger...”

“What do you mean?”

“He appeared in front of me like a reaper. With red eyes and a strange voice-”

Karyu hit with his fist against the cupboard and Taro jolted again. Karyu shook his head in disbelieve and with narrowed eyes he murmured at himself. “Well done son! You are as clever as your mother and as stubborn as your father... I should have known!” Karyu looked back at Taro. “We are leaving for heaven, now.”

“Now? I thought you wanted to look for Toshiya-”

“Not a chance. He's an Angel of Death. In this mode he is untraceable. He can only be found....” Karyu stopped and looked into the distance before he continued. “He can only be found by another Angel of Death.”

He took Taro on his arm. “Hold on tight.” And together they disappeared.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Nothing was ever going as planned. Especially not life. No books or karma can tell you what is next. Life and souls change all the time, every second, in every moment. And everybody is its own maker of his personal universe. Toshiya knew that and he also knew that he could find Kaoru.

His head almost burst from all the strange voices in his head. In his Angel of Death mode he was even more sensitive to souls as in his normal angel-state. He felt people dying around him, heard their last thoughts and wishes, their pains.... he flew over hundreds of houses but passed the dying souls. Other Angels of Death were responsible for certain areas.

He landed on another high building out of town, overthinking which direction to take. He knew nothing of Kaoru's whereabouts and none of his employees knew either. His personal bodyguards were missing too and.... Sakito? The last time he saw him was one week ago and he was one of Kaoru's closer employees too. So instead of tuning in on Kaoru's energy, which was out of reach somehow, Toshiya concentrated on Sakito. A picture of him filled his mind, his energy and voice filled his head and a direction formed in his mind.

Toshiya jumped from the roof and flew up north into the mountains, where the voices, pain and suffering in his head became less.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Although only half a year had passed, Taro seemed to have forgotten how bright heaven's light could be. He had just arrived in heaven and walked through the holy halls, passing countless Angels and protege. Karyu left him right at the beginning to report Toshiya's absence. Thirsty for this long missed energy of heaven, Taro recharged in breathing in deeply and looking at the sun, feeling his Angel senses coming fully back. He stretched his wings and in the distance, he made out the long missed features of his former beloved.

Aoi was there, of course he was there. Imagining months before, Taro would have run up to him all in tears and hugged him almost unconscious but now.... things have changed, he had changed. Taro was afraid to stumble, to fall and break into tears.... a hundred different scenarios formed in his mind but he walked towards Aoi with steady steps.

Aoi, being the strong Guardian Angel, didn't show any emotions on his face. He stood there all pokerfaced with a natural expression, waiting for Taro to come to him. And Taro saw in him the Leader he used to be in the desert hundred of years ago.... composed, strong and masculine. He would always love his soul for that.

Taro stopped and for the first time now, he looked Aoi into the face. He didn't dare to explain or say anything because he knew that Aoi knew. His Guardian Angel finally broke the silence.

“You became such a wonderful Angel. I'm so proud of you.” And too quick for him to realize, Aoi pulled the younger Angel into his arms and he hugged him tightly. Aoi simply hold onto him and Taro did the same, surprised about his reaction. He breathed in his scent and too many memories came up. Taro teared up and swallowed hard. Aoi was wonderful, always would be but....

Taro leaned back and Aoi looked at him as if he understood but still there was too much pain in his eyes. A pain his mouth and pride would never name.

“Aoi, I need to talk to you. Because I won’t be going back home with you.”

The hardest nod ever from Aoi and Taro could tell that he did his best in being the leading figure. He looked up into the distance, tried to avoid Taro's face and somehow it hurt although it was a logical way to react.

“Then let’s talk.” They walked together into the holy gardens. Being both agitated, they remained standing under a tall tree. Taro breathed in deeply, trying to form a logical sentence.

“I thought about so many things I wanted to tell you but failed because I was afraid to hurt you with every word I would say.” Aoi kept silent and simply listened. “And I know it's a stupid thing to say but I am so afraid to hurt you, I-I'm so sorry...” A sob came through and Aoi understood that it was time to touch Taro on his shoulder. In the moment of utter heartbreak it seemed that it was still him comforting his younger beloved. But Taro continued. “I-I'm sorry for hurting you, for disappointing you.”

Aoi shook his head silently and took Taro into his arms. He hold onto him and tears started flowing. Taro cried against his chest while Aoi allowed himself to close his eyes for a moment. After all his silence, he finally said: “You could never disappoint me. I am so proud. Of who you became, how strong you are... I know that growing often means parting, from situations and old souls. It's just, I never thought that our departing would happen so fast.” He cared over Taro's back and the younger one slowly calmed down. Taro almost whispered against Aoi's chest.

“Thank you, for loving me. For your strength and always being there for me. You made me the soul I am today.”

Aoi kissed him onto his hair. They remained in this hugging position until Taro finally moved back and their arms glided off each other.

“I know what you want.” Aoi said. “To be reborn into a human body, you must go to Ruki, to open a new chapter in your Akasha-Chronicle. You will forget everything about heaven the moment you return to earth. Everything will continue as if you have never left his side.”

Aoi sounded all business but Taro needed to know: “What happens with you? I can’t leave until I know that you’ll be fine.”

“I will be fine. After all, there will be a newborn soul on earth I have to look after.” Aoi winked and Taro smiled. He stepped closer to Aoi and kissed him onto his cheek long. “Thank you. I love you.” He shouldn't have closed his eyes for so long because when he opened them, Taro had vanished.


And the wind blew an aching melody over his immortal skin, his hair ached where the wind pulled on it, and his soul was left behind after such a long time again.... all alone.


Ruki lay Taro's Akasha chronicle down onto his desk when the Angel in question knocked on his door. Taro entered and greeted Ruki in awe. The kindel Angel offered Taro a place to sit in front of his desk and he did so. Ruki broke the silence. “Aoi, my old friend, already contacted me....Give him a good rebirth, he said.” Ruki smiled before he became all business again. “So, do you really want to be reborn as a human?”

“Yes.”

Ruki looked at Taro long before he opened the Akasha chronicle, to read the last chapter of his life as new Guardian Angel on earth. He took his quilt and wrote long sentences onto the next page.

“Do you want me to summarize what’s happening next?”

“Yes please.

“Very well.” Ruki looked at Ryutaro. “You chose out of free will to be reborn for your protégé on earth to guide him as a Guardian in human form. As soon as you are reborn to earth, you will forget everything about heaven, about us, your former lives, everything. But you will remember everything again the moment you die and reenter heaven again. Your Guardian Angel of choice during your lifetime on earth is?”

“Aoi.”

Ruki wrote it down into the book without judging. In such exceptional cases of rebirth, Ruki was absolutely allowed to make remarks if the Guardian Angel of choice didn't fit but he knew Aoi personally so he agreed to it... Although he had doubts.

He continued explaining without looking up and still writing. “You will be reborn in the time in which you left earth. To you it will seem as if you came back from a long journey and life goes it’s natural way.”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll summarize the tasks you have to work on now in your human life.” Ruki concentrated and touched the book pages with his palm. He closed his eyes, strange sings formed on the pages and his eyes fluttered. The he said: “Please give me your hand.”

Taro did so and he closed his eyes in reflex too. Pictures and situations formed in his head, feelings, unfinished tasks... everything he had to work on.

‘Confidence… hope… strength… courage’ Formed in his mind.

Ruki opened his eyes and removed his hand. “That’s what you have to work on in this life. You can make it and if you don’t, it will be carried forward into your next life. Complete as much as you can.”

“I will.”

Ruki turned the book around and lay his quilt next to Taro. “If you agree to the life plan and terms, please sign it.”

Without a doubt, Taro signed it and Ruki took the book after he was done. Ruki smiled at Taro and the young Angel felt how he became sleepy. Ruki walked around the desk and leaned against it next to Taro on the chair. Ruki lay his hand over Taro's eyes. He concentrated with all his strength while he hold the book in the other hand. Slowly he transferred experiences and memories into Taro's Chronicle while he lay a veil over his past lives, preparing him for a human mind.

“Live well and see you soon.” Ruki said and Taro had vanished.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Hakuei jolted in his seat when a warm hand touched his shoulder. He opened his eyes sleepily and looked into Kai's lovely smiling face. It was the second night in a row for them, a real nightmare. Ni~ya had screamed and squirmed in pain on Hakuei's bed earlier, blood was still all over his sheets and on his hands. Kai explained that it had something to do with the wing's nerves reacting and dying inside his body.... He spared him further details. All he knew was that the wounds were completely sealed now and Ni~ya in such a deep coma that they assumed him to wake earliest in two days.

The day before, Ruka decided to have a look at his unconscious protege. The cold eyes and stupid remarks made Hakuei wonder how Ruka became a Guardian Angel in the first place but he kept his thoughts to himself. Not for him but for Ni~ya's sake.
They agreed to keep Ni~ya at Hakuei's place until he would regain consciousness again.

“Is there something I can do for you?” Kai asked but Hakuei shook his head. “You were very strong today. Your strength is remarkable. We managed to seal his wounds after the second day. This is great.”

Hakuei nodded exhausted and forced a smile. “I hope he will be fine.”

A sad smile from Kai which stayed in the room uncommented. “But Toshiya is coming back today!” Kai tried to cheer Hakuei up and it worked. A tired smile and his eyes came back to life. “Finally.” Was all Hakuei said and Kai understood without digging any deeper. He met Toshiya as a wing healer before he went down to earth and could only wonder about his strength and wonderful personality.... and now, after he met and worked with his Guardian Hakuei, it all made sense. They were both strong and independent, together they must be wonderful.

With a knowing smile and a last pat, he was ready to leave for the day but they were interrupted by impatient knocks which came from the entrance door. Hakuei stood up and found Shinya looking back at him heavily disturbed.

“Shinya? What's the matter?”

The fragile Angel looked Hakuei up and down but there was no time to ask any questions. Kai appeared behind him and all Shinya said was. “Toshiya-”

Hakuei didn't waste another second and ran off. Down the staircase and outside of the large apartment castle. Angels were jumping aside but it was still hard avoiding them. He spread his large wings and flew the long way to the holly halls, where the entrance portal to heaven kingdom was. Hakuei landed in a knot of Angels. Guardians with their freshly reunited protege.... it was hard making out familiar faces and it was loud too. He pushed through the crowd into direction portal. Because Karyu was in charge of Toshiya's area and since Hizumi was watching the portal, he counted one and one together. He needed to find Karyu.

A touch on his shoulder and Hakuei turned around to find Shinya right behind him. He gestured Hakuei into another direction and he followed. In the distance, they made out Die's red hair. Next to him his colleague Hizumi with crossed arms. They were talking to each other silently. Next to Hizumi was Karyu who stood there motionless and quiet, which Hakuei boded ill because Toshiya was nowhere to be seen.

The group of Angels finally saw Shinya coming and their eyes knowingly lay on Hakuei. He looked around for Toshiya and when his gaze met Karyu's, the tall Angel shook his head slowly.

“No....” Was all Hakuei whispered in disbelieve and Shinya wanted to get his arm but Hakuei shook him off and ran over to Karyu. He grabbed his shoulders. “Where is he?!”

Karyu looked at the tired face and the blood stained clothes but left it uncommented. “He was gone.”

“Why?! Where is he?! Then why didn't you look for him?! Karyu!!” There was desperation in his voice, the tiredness of the last two days and the pain of crushed hopes.

The Angel of Revenge looked down onto Hakuei's face and got him around the wrists. “Calm down. I will get him. Toshiya ran off because he wanted to finish his task, to find his vanished protege.”

It made no sense to Hakuei. Partly because of his exhaustion and also because he didn't interfere with Toshiya's business on earth. Sure, he watched him now and then but from a safe distance. He trusted Toshiya to do a good job.... until now.

“But it was an order to return to heaven today...” Hakuei tried to explain it to himself and Karyu breathed out loud annoyed. Hakuei slumped down onto his knees in utter disbelieve. He never thought that Toshiya would ever disobey any orders and now he was missing too. It was Shinya and Die who picked him up and Hizumi looked with pity back at Karyu who was typically cold Angel of Revenge in emotional situations.

“I will get Toshiya, you can be sure of that. Now get yourself together and be the Guardian he deserves.”

“Karyu!” Shinya hissed. “Show a little compassion.”

Karyu stepped in front of Shinya and sent Die into high alert. “Don't assume I don't care for my son!”

“Our son!” The auburn beauty corrected which nevertheless stang like a knife into Die's heart. Karyu took Shinya's arm and yanked him away from Hakuei. That was when Die went into fighting mode but Karyu pushed him back. “Listen! I know how to find Toshiya but I will need Shinya's help.”

Karyu, who still hold onto Shinya, turned around to his beloved. “Hizumi? I need you on the borders for the upcoming two days and you Die, better escort Hakuei back to his place. A collapsing Angel is the last thing we need right now.”

“Got it.” Hizumi confirmed who took the whole situation pokerfaced while Die fumed out of jealousy. But he did a good job as a friend and patted Hakuei on the back to comfort him.

“We will contact you as soon as we return from earth.” Karyu said to Hakuei and Shinya looked at the Angel or Revenge in utter surprise. “We are going down to earth? Together? Why?”

“Because only an Angel of Death or Life can find Toshiya now.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Song to this chapter:
09 – One green balloon (Ryutaro & Tadashi Theme)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xyk9-v1KgFo&index=9&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

Quotes in this chapter from Plastic Tree song 'kuuhaku no hi' and 'Thirteenth Friday'

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 28

 

The Ryuutaro and Tadashi Chapter

 

 

Ryutaro jolted in his sleep. The cold autumn breeze played with the silky black strands of his hair. It felt so intense somehow… as if he had never felt it before or never really paid attention to it. He slowly opened his eyes and observed leaves dancing over the pavement of the train station. He looked to his left and right while he tugged his oversized scarf further up his neck and all over his chin. The wind roared through the tiny little station and he started to freeze on this little wooden bench. There he waited all alone with his luggage for the train to bring him back to Tokyo. Over the weekend he visited his grandmother in northern Japan. The place where he was born, went to kindergarten, school... and today he studied art in Tokyo.

He had a history, a past… wonderful memories but not always easy ones.

The Angels up in heaven did a good job on his reincarnation. He remembered nothing about his spiritual past, the other Angels, nothing. Only the things which mattered on earth now.

Tadashi

He was back on earth with a mortal body, feelings and memories. And he was here to fulfil a task

looking after Tadashi

He didn't know where the strong urge to look after Tadashi came from but he knew that he would never leave his friend alone... well friend. It would be a lie to say they had an easy start but leaving his best friend behind because of his medical condition... Tadashi was too important for that. They agreed to move in together before Taro's departure. It only felt natural to do so.

Tadashi was born with weak eyes. The doctors told him that he could eventually go blind. No one was able to name a date or a specific time span but for Taro it sounded like hope while Tadashi easily drifted into sadness. He still remembered the moment Tadashi told him about it and in that moment it was clear for Taro to stay with him. There wasn't even a decision to make. The mere imagination of someone else looking after Tadashi, made him feel anxious.

The train arrived and Taro got on the train. Six hours until Tokyo.

It was a tedious drive with rural trains until changing onto the Shinkansen. After seeing his own reflection for four hours in the window, he finally arrived in Tokyo. Tired and hungry, Taro made his was to the subway where it would take him another 45 minutes to arrive at Tadashi's apartment. Before his departure, Tadashi asked him to return to his home and right now that was all he needed.

He missed him. Taro never knew how much he could possibly miss a person but every time he wanted to text Tadashi, he simply didn't because he was afraid of missing him even harder. Of course he would never admit it but his grandmother must have realized something as she always asked him about his absent mind. She was of a loving and dear nature as she mostly raised Taro by herself. She knew about Tadashi too, Taro's close and important friend and she also wanted to meet him one day, as Taro never had any close friends. He always played alone. Other kids thought him to be strange, different… After meeting Tadashi, for the first time in his life he felt understood. Tadashi never questioned him, he took everything that Taro did as a miracle. And so it was the other way around.

Sleepy and exhausted although he was sitting over six hours, Taro stood way back on the platform to keep away from the busy people. His head rolled aside now and then when he closed his eyes. A buzzing in his pocket brought him back to reality and he reached into his coat pocket to get his mobile phone. It was a message from Tadashi. Next to his grandmother and art school he had no other contacts whatsoever.

When are you coming back?

Me and Lisa miss you.

A smile on his cold lips and he imagined Tadashi sitting on his sofa with their little kitten, waiting for him. It was the best feeling in the world.

Just arrived at Tokyo train station.

I'm on my way.

Seconds after he sent the message, his mobile phone rang. Taro picked it up.

“Hello?”

“You came back without telling me when! I wanted to pick you up at the station!” Tadashi sounded stressed but in a sweet way.

“I’m sorry. I didn't want to bother you.”

“You never bother me Taro-chan. Go and wait inside the station's east exit, I will be there as quick as possible!”

Tadashi hung up to keep Taro from refusing. So the already sleepy Taro dragged his slow self to their meeting point and he leaned there against the wall with the luggage at his feet. He observed the big station clock and became almost impatient, counting the minutes. He just wanted to get home. But the feeling of someone waiting especially for him was unusual and somehow wonderful.

In the distance and surrounded by countless people, a ridiculously huge fur hat appeared. Tadashi. He stopped and looked around for Taro but couldn’t find him. Taro smiled and his hear jumped in his chest, he literally beamed at Tadashi. It was then that their eyes met and Tadashi jogged over to Taro. It felt awkward to see Tadashi again although they only saw each other last week but it felt like much longer. Taro already wanted to pick his luggage up but Tadashi kept him from doing so in simply hugging him and holding onto him tight. Taro almost drowned in his oversized coat but Tadashi simply nuzzled into that big scarf of him. No one said a word at first and there it was, that long missed scent of Tadashi.

“Thank god you’re back.” Tadashi murmured and Taro found it quite odd. “Of course I’m back.”

A smile while the blond man got something from his pocket. He put a cap onto Taro's unprotected head who touched it wondering.

“What is it?”

“A Panda-cap for you since you’re always feeling cold.” Tadashi already knew him too well although they only met this year. Tadashi was an observer of his surroundings and paid great attention to everything although he didn't always seem that way.

Satisfied to be reunited and Taro wearing his cute new cap, Tadashi picked up Taro's luggage and halted when he felt a quick peck on his cheek with a whispered 'arigatou'. Not getting carried away with it, they headed for the taxi stand. IT was a welcomed ride home and Tadashi's little apartment was warm and cozy lit with little lights.

Hardly inside the apartment, Taro's super-fan number two darted around the corner and he picked up his little cat Lisa, which was a gift from Tadashi before he departed.

“She kept me awake every night.” Tadashi said with a smile while he closed the door.

“I can imagine.” Taro laughed and cuddled the little bundle. He had no time to get his coat off so Tadashi helped him doing so while he balanced the kitten on his arms.

Being hardly able to stay awake, Taro shifted around on the couch with the cat while Tadashi prepared him something warm to eat. The soup was delicious and his frozen limbs filled with warmth, next to the feeling of being 'at home'. It felt wonderful.

They ate together and when Tadashi insisted on washing the dishes alone, Taro felt asleep on the couch. It was a priceless picture, with the cat on top of him. Tadashi hesitated for a moment but he got his camera and took a picture. It was too adorable. Taro was deep asleep and there was something innocent and beautiful about his sleep, Tadashi didn't dare waking him. Instead he got out his sketchbook and started to draw. Taro's features were so soft and peaceful, there was no sorrow or angst in them. To him Taro was pure. In the way he acted in everyday situations, how he was around people or even with him. Deep down Tadashi knew that his fear of Taro might pitying him, was simply not true. He always honestly cared.

After capturing the scenery, Tadashi picked up his beloved effortlessly and carried him over to his bedroom. Sure, they never slept together in any way before so Tadashi would take the couch instead. Taro didn't even wake up when Tadashi covered him with his blanket. Automatically the cat followed and lay at the end of his feet. Ready to take his spot on the couch, Tadashi stopped when he felt his shirt being hold. Taro murmured.

“Where are you going?”

“Living room.” Tadashi answered surprised.

Taro opened his eyes slightly. “Why? Don’t be funny. Come here.” He patted the mattress to his right. It was huge enough for both of them. Maybe a part of Tadashi 'wanted' to sleep on the couch to keep any possible danger out of reach but hearing Taro asking him so sweetly? No one could refuse that.

“I’ll be right there.”

He went into the living room, got the rest of blankets, changed into his long Hello Kitty sleeping T-Shirt and carefully went into bed right next to him.

Taro had no second thoughts whatsoever, he was more asleep than anything else. Still, Taro felt Tadashi's hesitant moves and all he did was reaching out his arm behind him. Tadashi took it and Taro pulled him close to himself, making Tadashi lie against his back and he kept on holding to his arm, pulled it close to his chest. Tadashi was so warm.

“Never go… I missed you.” Taro spoke in his sleep and it made his heart race. He kissed his sleeping beloved onto his hair and closed his eyes when he breathed in deeply.


The following morning, Taro woke up to an cold, empty bed. Confused about his surroundings, he recalled the night before and he reached out to the mattress next to him. He opened his eyes and the smell of coffee brought him into reality. Truth was that Tadashi was more than rested and even after observing Taro a whole hour in his sleep, he made him breakfast.

Wordlessly, Taro came out of the bedroom with the worst bed hair ever. He sat down onto the couch and slightly dozed off. Then he got up and stumbled back into the bedroom, only to return with one of the blankets and followed by the cat. Tadashi observed him from the kitchen counter but Taro didn't realize. Taro obviously wasn't a morning person which made him only more adorable. The smell of pancakes and coffee slowly brought Taro back into life.

“Can I get you something else?” Tadashi asked before he settled himself on the floor to the table.

“No thank you. This is wonderful.” Almost whispered and with a cracked voice.

Taro picked up the coffee and thanked for it.

“Ne Taro, I have to go to my new job later. Please stay here as long as you wish. I will be back late in the evening though.”

Taro blinked and for the first time this morning, he looked at Tadashi. “Job? When did you… and where?”

“I got it just after you left for your grandmothers’. It’s a few streets away from here at a video rental shop.”

“Okay.” Ryutaro blinked but Tadashi couldn’t read his mind.

“But?” The blond asked while he pushed his black framed glasses up his nose.

“Will you be going there often?” Taro asked almost sheepishly.

“Three times a week but mostly in the evenings.”

“I see.” Taro sipped his coffee. Did he sound sad?

“I want to earn some extra money.” But Tadashi didn’t give his real motivation away. He wanted to save up some money for his possibly not so happy future.

Taro looked concerned back at him. “But you will have more money if we move in together.”

Tadashi was surprised. “So you didn’t forget?”

“Of course not. I was…!” Taro stopped.

Tadashi waited.

“I was…” The blond still waited for an answer.

“You know…” The cat yawned. “Well….” Taro’s cheeks reddened a little. “I was looking forward to it… it’s not nice to be alone.”

Tadashi moved over on his knees to Taro and simply hugged him tight. “Thank you.”

Taro hugged him back. “For what?”

“For being you.”

Taro smiled because that answer was so Tadashi again.

“You’re very welcome.” Taro kissed him onto his hair and when he wanted to move away slowly, he couldn't move. Taro wondered what was going on with Tadashi. He seemed clingy, even more than ever and he carried something vulnerable with him.

“Tadashi? Is everything all right?” Taro cared over his back.

“Yeah, sure. Sorry.” He moved back. “I just wondered,.... well, when are we moving in together?”

Taro shrugged. “As soon as you want to.” Tadashi’s flat was bigger so Taro would be moving in with him.

“How about tomorrow?”

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was late at night when Tadashi finished his shift at the local video rental shop. Humid cold air enclosed him outside the shop when he fished for his cigarettes inside his coat. A deep breath later and he made his way back home. He turned around the corner and almost stumbled over something black, kneeling on the ground and playing with a cat. Startled at first, Tadashi stopped but he reacted on instinct and encircled the bundle, picking Taro up from kneeling and hugged him. A silent snicker came from him when Tadashi nuzzled into his hair.

“I caught myself a Taro.”

Taro turned around and beamed. “Hello.” Tadashi wanted to be mad and God knows he tried to be because earlier today he told Taro not to pick him up late at night, out of safety reasons. Seemed like his well intentions were in vain. Tadashi took Taro's hand silently and they walked back home.

“Taro, you should really stay at home. It’s not that I don't appreciate the effort, it's just.... well, it's getting cold and I'd be really concerned if something ever happens to you.”

“I will be fine.”

Tadashi looked aside at Taro and his face was serious. “Please?”

“Okay.” Taro answered but for Tadashi it was not enough.

“Promise.” It was Tadashi's rare glance of concern which made Taro nod in silence.

After they stopped in front of Tadashi's apartment door, he fumbled for the keys. The entrance was not well lid and he had trouble to find the key hole too. It disturbed him but he tried not to show it. Slowly, Taro could feel that something was not all right. After a little while, he reached over Tadashi's hands and guided Tadashi's key over the key hole. The door finally opened but no one commented on it.

Taro prepared some green tea while Tadashi sat on the couch with their cat. Exhausted from the night, he could barely keep his eyes open but the cat kept him occupied. He startled slightly when his cup was placed in front of him. It still took him time to get used to Taro moving silently like a cat around his apartment. Taro sat down in front of him on the floor and the cat joined him while both sipped on their tea.

“Taro….”

Taro’s heart sank in an instant because of Tadashi's sad tone.

“Hm?”

“I thought about the moving in together… and maybe, no I think, it’s better if you stay at your own place.” He didn’t look at Taro whose face was frozen in shock. It sounded so unreal.

Taro felt his voice starting to tremble. “B-but why? Don’t you like me to?” They have been there before, God knows, countless times.

“I simply can't. I won't allow it.”

That hurt, a lot. Taro had to settle down his cup. Confused, he stood up and walked over to get his things. He took his coat and scarf and Tadashi let him do so. Taro already wanted to put them on but suddenly, he dropped everything to the floor. He walked over to Tadashi and the blond looked at him silently. Taro picked up the cat.

“Well then I might as well take my belongings with me.”

Tadashi nodded but even to him his decision sounded weak. Taro walked to the entrance, settled the cat down into his messenger bag. He returned to the motionless Tadashi in the living room. Wordlessly, he grabbed for Tadashi's arm and yanked him off the couch and dragged him with him to the entrance door where Taro threw Tadashi's coat at him.

“What are you doing?” Tadashi finally asked.

“Getting dressed! If I can't have you here, then I might as well have you at my apartment!” Taro got fully dressed. He picked up the messenger bag and the kitten looked curiously out of it.

“If I leave this apartment now, I will never come back. Is that what you want?”

Tadashi didn't say a word. Torn between his love and logic.

“IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?!”

“NO!” Tadashi looked aside and hid his face behind his hair.

Moving could be heard and Taro took Tadashi's face into his hands. “Tadashi, stop making decisions for me! Why do you so desperately try to push me away? I love you! And I don’t care what you think is good for me because I know what is and I will stay at your side, come what may! Understood?”

Tadashi shook his head when he took Taro into his arms. He literally crushed into him and began to sob. He felt ashamed for being so weak, trying to let Taro go but couldn't. Imagining him leaving was horrible but binding him to himself was selfish too.... Tadashi was torn between love and logic. But Taro simply cared over his back. As if everything was all right.


As my voice can’t reach you, I’ll start changing it into a sad song.

Ryutaro moved back an he looked into Tadashi’s tear streamed face…

Even if the thorns in my heart were to be removed

… he touched the tears…

it would still hurt.

…. and kissed them away.

 

Taro finally moved in the following day and it felt so right from the very beginning. It all worked out quite well and two days later they went back to art school together to continue their studies. During the week Tadashi worked three night shifts at the rental shop while Taro painted or waited with their cat at home. It felt like heaven for a short while.

Ryutaro even accompanied Tadashi to his visits at the hospital. Tadashi was always very tensed before the examinations but Taro simply hold his hand until he was called into the room. Most of the time, Taro was present at the examinations too.

This time, the doctor was pleased with Tadashi’s eyes… which meant that although the eye sight got weaker, it went on slower than expected.

“But there is really nothing that can be done?” Taro asked the Doctor while Tadashi sat beside him calm as he always was. The Doctor knew about the two of them being together. If Tadashi hadn’t told him by accident with a red colored face, he would have guessed it anyway.

“Unfortunately not. It is an inborn weakness which is passed down from generations, we can't even perform a laser surgery on that. His eye sight-weakness is growing. I’m really sorry to tell you that.” Ryutaro tightened his grip around Tadashi’s hand. “I understand.”

Tadashi was quite down after every visit at the doctor's. As time went by, Tadashi withdrew from the things he loved to do. He drew less and only occasionally and started to prefer staying inside. Taro knew immediately what was going on and he did his best to encourage Tadashi to do things. Taro, who has never been able to keep his mouth shut, addressed the topic. “You will not get through with this.” Tadashi looked at Taro in surprise. “I won’t tolerate you wasting your talent Tadashi.”

Tadashi knew exactly what Taro was referring to. “But what can I do? My art will be senseless sooner or later….”

“You will keep on fighting until the end Tadashi Hasegawa, you understand?” The blond nodded but more out of courtesy.

“You know… drawing isn’t the only art. We could look for something else for you… something you can do with your hands… something you can feel…” Taro's sight brightened. “How about pottery?”

Tadashi looked uninspired but he tried to imagine it.

“We’ve got courses at our school… please try it Tadashi, for me.”

The blond breathed out. “I will.” And it sent a smile over Ryutaro’s face which made Tadashi a little happier.

Tadashi became more nervous during his night rests. He moved a lot and murmured now and then. It often woke Taro and always he cared over the sleeping man's hair to calm him down again... Taro was his calming down medicine, in every moment of his life. They both knew that and Tadashi loved him even more for that. He couldn't imagine his life with any other person next to him. Tadashi was convinced that no one could help him like Taro did.

The next morning, the telephone rang and Taro inside the shower heard Tadashi answering it. Silence followed and Taro grabbed for his towel in reflex. He opened the door and Tadashi stood in front of it, handling him the phone.

“I-it’s your Grandma.” He tried not to stare. With a blush on both sides, the door closed and Taro answered the call inside the bathroom. His Grandma, who also raised him, was the most loveable woman on earth. Of course she wanted to know how Taro and his 'friend' were doing. She kind of knew about Tadashi's sickness but not how stern it really was. Or maybe she guessed it right, because she wanted to treat the boys. A weekend at their local onsen where she was living. She won tickets and couldn't attend because of her age so she gave it to the boys. A trip to Taro's childhood home was due and they were all very happy about it. It was perfect to brighten both of their minds.

It was one week later when they were on a train up north, passing the most beautiful landscapes. In silence they enjoyed the beautiful view and each others company.

“You know…” Taro started out of the blue while he still looked out of the window. “The last time I was at my grandma's, she told me about her last will.”

Tadashi looked down at Taro in surprise. “You never told me….”

“I didn’t want to burden you…”

“You never could.”

“Well,” Taro continued, “my grandma is quite old. She can hardly move because there is something with her bones and I'm the only one she’s got left. My grandpa died when I was a teenager and since I’m a foster child, there are no siblings. My Grandma has got an old styled country house with a little piece of land with lot’s of trees on it....” Tadashi had an inkling where that was leading to. “It will me mine after she’s gone.”

“I see… but isn’t that great?”

“Sure but I don’t know if I can sell it. I grew up there and she and Grandpa put so much work into it.”

“You don’t have to sell it.”

“But… you see….” It was hard for Taro to explain. “I want to stay with you. But keeping such a house is expensive too.”

“You can rent it to someone else…” Taro looked sad.

“Let's not think about this now. When the time is right, you will know what to do.” Tadashi pulled Taro back to him and rested with his chin on Taro’s head.

The air seemed cleaner here up north and the silence was addictive. Tadashi liked it right away. He couldn't help himself but compare everything he saw with Taro. The small train station, the local supermarket, the old trees and houses.... Taro grew up here. This used to be his life at some point. And now he was in it too.

Tadashi carried their suit case. Taro had packed for both of them the day before because Tadashi was helpless on how to pack or manage anything. They walked up a little stony walk, underneath some old trees and over a long green meadow, when a little wooden house appeared right in front of them.

“So that’s Taro-chan’s home…” Tadashi thought out loud and Taro smiled. “It is.”

In the distance, a little old woman climbed down from the porch and hastily walked up to the two of them.

“Grandma!” Taro waved at her and the old woman smiled.

“My boy!” She shouted with an old husky voice. She took Taro into her arms while Tadashi remained quiet next to them. The old woman touched Taro's face, complaining about his slender appearance when Taro finally had the chance to point at Tadashi next to him.

“Grandma, that’s my friend Tadashi.” The old woman widened here eyes. “Dear God, a Japanese boy with blond hair!”

Tadashi smiled sheepishly. She smiled at him when he formally introduced himself and Taro could tell that she liked him. Tadashi was most of the time an observer but when he talked and people found out about his nature, they naturally loved him.

“May I touch it?” She pointed at Tadashi’s hair and the blond smiled. He bent down a little so that she could reach up.

“So that’s blond Japanese hair…” She murmured and Taro blushed in awkwardness. “Grandma! You make him feel uncomfortable.”

“It’s okay.” Tadashi replied with a smile and after they were done with the procedure, they finally entered the house. It was a beautiful, cozy and traditional country house. Not very big but just right. They passed the little kitchen and the living room with its old Tatami mats. Grandma disappeared in the kitchen to prepare some tea while Taro walked ahead to the end of the corridor. Tadashi followed him and they stopped in front of a wooden ladder which went up to the roof.

“That’s my old room up there, do you want to see it?”

“Sure.”

Taro climbed it up and opened the little hatch. He disappeared and called for Tadashi to come. He found Taro standing in a little squared room with the rooftop ending a meter above his head. Small and neat. Tadashi looked around and saw pictures and paintings hanging on the wall, clearly drawn by little hands with the utmost care.

“How beautiful.”

Taro smiled.

“You must have loved it as a child….”

And he nodded.

“That’s something totally different from Tokyo…”

“Oh well… the size of the room is almost the same.” They both laughed and compared the lack of space. Meanwhile, Taro opened the little wooden cupboard inside the wall and pulled out two futons. He lay them onto the small Tatami floor for the night.

“I’m afraid we have to share this little room during our stay.”

“It’s perfect.” Tadashi said while he tried to occupy his adult thoughts with the tall trees outside on the meadow and the forest behind them.

He was too distracted to realize Taro coming close to him and placing a tender kiss on the edge of his mouth. Tadashi froze and closed his eyes automatically.

“What was that for?” He whispered against Taro’s lips.

“For coming here with me.”

“My pleasure.”

They fell into a moment where the gasps of breath could break the silence, where the sound of a single bird could break the mood. Naturally drawn to each other, their lips met, carefully and tender. Always tender and soft, as if it was the first time. No words were spoken, no hands touched. The sunlight lay surprisingly bright on their eyelids on this cold day, the room smelled of Taro and tatami mats.

The clinging of tea cups downstairs, eyes slowly opening and with a smile, Tadashi took Taro's hand.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



After tea, the young couple made their way to the local onsen, where Taro's grandmother won tickets for.

It was a beautiful, traditional house, far up in the mountains, surrounded by a bamboo forest. It felt like a feast to Taro, although everything was traditionally spare. A room with a low table and a flower at the back of the room, the mere fact that there were in-house yukata, a hot bath tub outside in their private garden and people coming in to adjust the futons, was luxury to him.

“You like it here.” Tadashi couldn't help himself but to notice the beam in Taro's eyes. A smile confirmed it but Taro also enjoyed seeing Tadashi in a yukata for the first time. He could get used to that look. In fact, it suited them both really well.

And he imprinted that silhouette of Tadashi leaning against the wooden sliding door, the sunlight forming shadows on the cloth around his slim body, his world forgotten stare at the little garden outside, it filled him with strange melancholy. Here, in this little village, in this little room, history and fate stood still. The past and the future were not present.

Taro walked over to Tadashi and touched his hand. Like woken from a dream, the blond turned around and looked into Taro's face. “Your hands are cold.” Taro smiled at him. “You know I’m always cold.” He reached up and pulled Tadashi's glasses off.

“I can't see without them.”

“I know.…” He touched his cheeks, his eyelids tenderly, they both hold their breaths. Slowly, Taro moved closer to Tadashi and leaned against him, breathing in his scent while Tadashi wrapped him silently into his arms. Taro loved him for this silent moments, these little gestures of tenderness. Together in utter silence they observed nature while holding onto each other like their personal anchor, observing the sun going down and after vanishing from the sky, Tadashi kissed Taro on the head and motioned him inside. He closed the sliding doors and wanted to walk into the room when arms encircled him from behind. Taro leaned against him and didn't let go of him. Tadashi stopped. Taro was usually cuddly as a cat but today he hardly let go off him. Of course he never minded but the melancholy coming from his beloved was almost palpable.

Tadashi turned around and looked into Taro's watered eyes. “Taro, I'm here.”

“I know.” But he whimpered.

And Tadashi leaned down and kissed him. Once tenderly, then a second time with more force. Taro was limp and will-less to his touches. He wanted to get lost with him, forget everything as long as he was there.

The noises of movements over tatami mats, the cold futon underneath him, the rustling of fabric and impatient hands and yet no one said a word. His strands of hair tickling his face, neck, chest.... his hands and lips everywhere while breaths skipped and cheeks reddened. Their minds were filled with each other, their shared need first seemed clumsy but soon they were in unison.... Mind and body finally united and to them, it couldn't get any better than this. Tears streamed down the younger man's face, kisses on the blond's temples while sweaty arms encircled his back, not letting him go, holding him tight. To finally feel him like that was the last connection they had needed.... and while Taro rested with his hand in Tadashi's hair, a slight sniffle escaped from Tadashi against Taro's throat. Still not believing that he was so lucky to find and be with Taro.

They slept the entire night in each others arms as if their lives depend on each other.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



The gaze with which he observed the sunlight the next morning seemed clearer. Or so it seemed. He felt like he had changed over night, they had changed over night. And it was a good change.

Taro woke up first when he made his way to the bathroom to have a shower.... or so it seemed. He passed the little table in the living room and found well known rubber crums and pencils sprawled all over the table, leaving a sign that Tadashi was here.... Taro smiled and looked at Tadashi's sketch book. Normally he wouldn't look into it without permission but something urged him to have a look. And he found a beautiful drawing of himself in there, sleeping, and sprawled all over the futon, half covered with a blanket and their yukata in between. It was a highly private scenery and the expression on his face seemed.... happy and satisfied. He felt vulnerable just by looking at it. Taro closed the book and continued on his way.

Reentering the room after his shower, he found Tadashi sitting on the futton, with his back at him and looking outside at the garden again. His hair stood up funnily against the sunlight and made him look like a child from behind. Taro tip-toed over to his beloved and enclosed him from behind with his yukata and hugged him. He leaned his with head over Tadashi's shoulder and kissed him on the cheek.

“Ohayou.” Taro kissed him below his ear and Tadashi smiled, turned his head aside. He lifted his arms and hold onto Taro's arms. He closed his eyes and sank back against Taro. All the sorrow Taro felt Tadashi carrying all these weeks seemed forgotten on this far away place, where only they existed. And he didn't say a word, he didn't have to. Everything was understood.

Later that day, they took a stroll through the nearby forest and down into the village. Their arms entwined, Taro told him all these little stories of his childhood he had missed out. It meant a lot to Tadashi. They even got their picture taken at a photographers house in old styled kimonos. Taro was so happy about it that he wanted to frame it for their place.

After one last meal in town, they made their way pack to the inn to get packed and to return to Taro's grandma's place because the next day they had to leave for Tokyo again.

She was impatiently waiting for the two boys to return. With sweets and tea, they had a lovely last evening together and she remembered funny childhood stories of Taro which only one party of them found highly amusing. The pictures were even more adorable. Taro looked like a little doll.

Their last night under grandmother's roof, they behaved as well as could be expected in Taro's old room. All day long pretending to be just 'good friends' was harder than expected. In Tokyo, no one cared although they never exchange romantic gestures in public. Yet, it was hard to read not between the lines in their case. At least, grandmother didn't seem to notice.

But sitting in the train back to Tokyo, Tadashi recalled the last, strange moment he had with grandma while Taro was busy packing. “You’re a good boy. You are pure and of a fine heart. Please Tadashi-san…,” she took his hands and looked at him sternly, “please look after Ryutaro when I’m gone.”

He could only assume what she meant. Or what she maybe guessed right.

On their way back in the train, Taro leaned against Tadashi and the blond wondered about his own childhood. His parents were rich but Tadashi never tried to show it, he even felt to proud to ask for money, that's why he had his part-time job. Taro's Grandparents, were not rich in form of money but when it came to the heart. He remembered waiting impatiently as a teenager to leave his home town in the south to go studying in Tokyo. He'd always loved big cities and the diversion of it but now, being out of all this trouble and in a peaceful house in the countryside, for the first time he felt draw away from all that again. Maybe one day.

Tadashi started. “You’ve got a great home and an even greater Grandma.”

Taro smiled. “I’m glad you liked it, thank you.”

A kiss on the head.

“Could you imagine living in the country one day?”

Tadashi recalled their conversation about Taro inheriting the house one day and he knew where that was leading to. And he was surprised about the answer himself. “Yes, I think so. As long as it's with you, I can life everywhere.”

Taro smiled when he turned around to look at Tadashi: “Same for me.” He took Tadashi's hand and played with it. He did that when he was searching for words. “You see... but don't do anything just because it would make me happy. I couldn't be happy when it makes you unhappy.”

Tadashi enclosed Taro's fumbling hand and looked him in the eyes. “Thank you Taro, I know. And be assured that I always tell you the truth.” He lifted up that small hand and kissed it, before they sunk back against each other for the rest of their journey.

 

Those were the happy days.

 

It was one year later. Taro just came back from art school and was late because he talked to their art teacher about Tadashi. Their teacher was a kind man and he knew about Tadashi's condition. He also knew about them living together and being very close. So because of his caring nature, he became something like a confidant to them.

It was obvious that Tadashi had problems to follow regular lectures and when Taro came to speak with the professor about it, he even recommended them to sign a document of authority, in case Taro had to act in Tadashi's stead. It all sounded so surreal to Taro, the whole thing was so unbelievable but he didn't allow himself to become sad or even to give up. He was strong, for Tadashi, for both of them. Although Tadashi seemed to be the 'tall and cool one', he was in fact the most sensible of them.
So, when he came home late and searched in his pockets for the keys, Taro paused a moment. His hair covered his eyes and before he turned around the key, he wiped away tears with his sleeve and breathed in deeply a few times. Then there was a bashing sound coming from the inside of their apartment, followed by a few heavy knocks. Now he stormed inside and tossed his belongings aside and there he found Tadashi in a stack of complete mess.

“Tadashi! Are you all right?!” He knelt down and grabbed for Tadashi's arms while the blond hang his head low. He too was crying but didn't say a word. Tadashi knelt in his own mess of the past. Papers. Sketchbooks, pencils and colors were sprawled everywhere.

“No! No...” Taro took him into his arms and hold him tight. The blond tried to fight him off but the attempt was only half-hearted. He sobbed against Taro's chest and it broke his heart too. Taro looked around the destruction and noticed that Tadashi wanted to destroy his work.... how could he? It meant his life to him, to both of them.

“... I-I'm sorry.“ Tadashi tried to speak but sobbed hard in between. To keep himself together, Taro kept silent, he only cared over Tadashi's back.“... y-you s-should have never s-seen this.“

“Yes, I should.” Ryutaro answered with a strange firm voice. He looked around. “You are my life now and you are destroying the art which means everything to me.” Only sobs broke the following silence. “What happened Tadashi?” A touch on his hair.

“I lost sight for colors.”

Taro widened his eyes in shock and his embrace tightened automatically. And the first thing which went through his mind was 'this is the beginning...' but he said not a word. Sometimes, there was nothing to say. He kissed Tadashi onto his head and realized that the more his sickness advanced, the less Tadashi was able to cope with it.... he couldn't cope with it at all.
Taro stood up and pulled Tadashi up with him. He sat him down onto the couch and covered his shoulders with a comforter. Then he went into the kitchen and came back with a hot cup of tea for him. On his way through the room, he picked up Tadashi's artwork and the blond observed him numb, holding the cup of tea in his hands.

“Please don’t destroy your art. Keep it for me.”

Tadashi was deeply thinking but he broke the silence when he said. “It’s all yours.... Please, take it all. I won’t look at it any longer. It’s yours. You have always been my inspiration so it belonged to you from the very start.”

How could he be so sweet in his darkest hour? Taro stormed towards him and embraced him and kissed him, again and again. “I will honor it.” Taro whispered and with teary eyes, Tadashi finally fell asleep on Taro's lap.
Dear God it was so hard. Seeing Tadashi suffer like this. Taro squeezed his fingers into his eyes to keep from crying... no crying now. He looked around at the mess and decided to clean it up right away. Tadashi wouldn't have to wake up to that memory of what had happened. Taro moved Tadashi carefully down from his legs and he started to tidy up the room. He got himself a box from his room and put Tadashi's art into it, saving it for himself. When he passed the bin, he found two old sketchbooks in them. Taro wondered how old they were because he knew Tadashi's recent sketchbooks but these were new to him.

So he took them out and he began to skip through them..... and he couldn’t believe what he saw. Pictures of him, heaps of it. Taro from a distance, apparently many drawings out from a higher angle or the roof top. Even in school sports, daydreaming in the cafeteria.... He couldn’t believe his eyes. These were sketches collected in a long distance of time... they knew each other for about a year until they came together. So all these drawings were made in just within a year? Impossible, he was stalked so hard and never even realized it.
Taro skipped the pages and found a variety of expressions he never knew to possess. Tadashi was a great drawer and observer, with a few lines he was able to capture a moment, a feeling.... he was so gifted. And it made his heart heavy, realizing what Tadashi and what the world was about to loose in the near future. Again, Taro didn't allow himself to cry and he kept on looking through the books. Another drawing of him, stumbling during school sports... Taro smiled and found it perfectly captured. There another picture of him caring a cat not far away from the school grounds... and on the following page, he stopped.
Himself, dressed as a Pierrot and holding a heart shaped balloon on a threat in his hands. The drawing was lovely and it warmed his heart. Hundreds of emotions and images overflowed his mind. Memories, feelings but the words were missing. All he remembered was that he was so nervous on that day. Why? He couldn't tell. He marked that day to be their beginning. He turned the page and stopped when he found left overs from the balloon attached at the back of the drawing. Taro hold his hand over his mouth and gasped.... underneath the balloon Tadashi wrote the date... it must have meant so much to him! Why?! Why must he be so lovely?!

Taro put the books into his box and he walked over to the couch and encircled the still sleeping Tadashi with his arms. He cried into Tadashi’s throat and kissed him onto his face many times, waking the blond. Dazed and in utter surprise, Tadashi looked sleepily at Taro who only kissed him onto his mouth and sobbed silently against him. “I love you ... don’t you ever dare thinking about giving up, understand? You got yourself your biggest fan.”

Tadashi pulled Taro up to him, against his stomach. He covered them both with the comforter and kissed Taro from behind against his throat. “I love you too.” And he hold onto Taro as if his life depended on him. He needed Taro, his body and soul always knew it but his pride sometimes told him differently. What Tadashi swore to himself in that very night was, that he would never make Taro cry again. He would be strong for both of them, come what may. Because without him, he was nothing, without motivation or ideas… even if it meant to burden Taro with his future disability, he would stay at his side as long as he wished him to.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

It was a cold day in spring and Tadashi hold onto Ryutaro’s hand while they walked together to art school. They always did that, firstly because life was too short and secondly, they didn't care about comments or stupid gazes…. In art school no one cared anyway because half of the students were gay anyway. With the beginning of this term, Tadashi took pottery classes, like Taro suggested him to as precaution for his future. Tadashi was skeptical at first but it was more fun than expected and as long as it meant crafting something with his hands, he was happy. Pottery was highly respected at school and throughout Japan itself because it was classified as high art. So of course Taro was very proud that Tadashi joined the club. In his free time, he kept on drawing as well although much less than he used to.

So, Taro saw him to pottery class. “See you for lunch break.” And with a last squeeze of their hands, Taro let go. From inside of the classroom, they heard someone calling for Tadashi. He nodded at Taro and went inside. “Morning Miku-san.” Tadashi's voice trailed off and in the distance Taro made out a young, very small boy with golden dyed hair, pointing at an empty place next to him…. He seemed like an enthusiastic, young freshman and Taro couldn't recall ever having seen him on campus before. Nevertheless, for his taste, this boy was little too enthusiastic.

On his way to class, Taro wondered about the new student called Miku. He was even smaller than him, almost like a child and with the face as cute as a doll. Thoughtfully, Taro lay his bag and art utensils onto his table…. Why did he think so much about that kid anyway? And he pulled out some papers and began to draw.

Maybe it was not too much of a coincidence when Taro seated himself in the glass-wall library, which lay of course just accidentally opposite of the pottery classroom. He waited for Tadashi to join him for lunch break but their class always took longer because of the cleaning afterwards. Finally the door pushed open and students came out... out of habit, Taro waited until the last one came out. Tadashi has never been one of the fastest ones, just like himself.
And there it was, the familiar puff of blonde-black hair. His gaze brightened up and Taro stood up from his table.... when he saw the doll like creature Miku following Tadashi out of the room. And his beloved stopped, clearly because he has been called. Tadashi turned around and scratched his head when Miku started talking. Tadashi smiled politely and the little boy bowed down many times and so did Tadashi.

Taro sank slowly back onto his chair and observed the situation as if his life was on the line. With narrowed eyes, he was glued to their lips but of course couldn't make out what was spoken. WHATEVER was going on there, it felt strange and he didn't like it one bit. Taro never knew that feeling before and it stabbed into his heart with every second the not shared moment with his beloved lasted longer. The young boy pulled out a piece of paper and naturally, Taro was fuming by now. He handed it to Tadashi, CLEARLY trying to exchange numbers with him. And Tadashi, being nice as always, bowed and took it. Sheepishly, Miku ran back into class and closed the door behind him again. Tadashi on the other hand stood there helplessly, not really getting what had just happened.

Taro was so confused and instead of walking up to Tadashi, he went straight to the park and sat down on the bench where they usually had lunch together. This whole situation was strange to both of them. It has always been just the two of them and now, seeing that youngster clearly smitten by Tadashi.... It made Taro feel numb and furious at the same time. He was too shocked to act but furious like a bull inside. When Tadashi finally approached him, he didn't show it though, He was just speechless. A quick kiss on his cheek made him smile for the split of a second. And it was his face, his smile when he looked at Taro, the way he moved or turned his head at him.... Taro could never be mad with Tadashi. It wasn't his fault for being lovely and gorgeous. Of course other people saw that too. But maybe, maybe it was another reaction he had hoped for. Taro took Tadashi's hand as soon as he was seated. For no special reason, he just needed to feel him.

“I was waiting for you.”

Now Taro felt ashamed for being jealous. “I'm sorry, I just needed some air.”

“Are you all right?”

“Sure.” Taro smiled. “How are you?” And they both knew that the question meant more than that. Taro was referring to the evening before.

“I’m better… thanks to you.” And Tadashi's side gaze full of love was his gift to him.

“Any troubles with your eyes? Can you see clearly despite…” Taro stopped.

“Despite the color I can see you clearly, that’s what counts.”

They still hold hands but Taro didn't dare to ask him about Miku. He didn’t know how to behave because of what he had witnessed earlier... There was nothing in the first place right?

“Taro, you are behaving strange, what is it?”

Taro shook his head. “Just being stupid… I'm just, well... anyway.”

“What?”

“It’s stupid. I just saw you coming out the class room and…”

Tadashi thought about it until he got it. “Aaaah, you mean Miku-san.” And Taro decided that he hated hearing Tadashi saying his name.

“Is he new?”

“Yes, a transfer student. He will stay here half a year. I met him last week and he seems to be all alone. He only talks with me. I think he is very shy.”

Taro couldn’t hold it any longer. “Does he know that you have a boyfriend?”

Tadashi stopped talking and turned his gaze back at Taro who looked sheepishly down onto their hands. And finally, Tadashi got it.

“Taro-chan, are you jealous?” He gave a laugh of disbelieve. “But to answer your question: We are always together, surely he must know.”

“Well maybe he doesn't care about the fact...”

Tadashi shook his head. “But I do and that's what counts.”

A smile. “But you are too kind to everyone. Just make sure to make your point clear if he gets to clingy again.... or I will enroll for a new course this semester.” A sweet pout from Taro and Tadashi half jumped, half leaned playfully against Taro's shoulders. “OhmyGod, you are so sweet when you're jealous!” Tadashi kissed him firmly onto his cheek... and he whispered something against Taro's ear which made the young man blush and he pushed Tadashi playfully back onto his seat. An action which was not unobserved by a pair of prying eyes.

After lunch break and still full of his love and his beautiful eyes, Tadashi returned to class dreamily with a drawing from Taro in his hands. It showed the design for a new cat bowl and they were both very enthusiastic about it.

Tadashi crossed the corridor when he heard rude speaking coming from outside and a known voice answering in distress. Without hesitation, Tadashi stormed outside and saw Miku surrounded by three well-off students who loved to pick on new students. The content however was very rude and personal. Tadashi, who was always unable to tolerate idiocy, stepped in front of Miku who hasn't notice him at first but soon hold onto his arms from behind, trembling.

“Do we have a problem here?” Tadashi asked.

Their leader smirked dirtily back at Tadashi. “So one fag joins the other.... Have you ever thought of leaving and stop pestering the environment with your presence, faggot?”

“Me?” Tadashi asked playfully. “No never. Seems like the tolerance for idiocy is higher than anything else here.”

The guy grabbed Tadashi by the collar and Miku started to scream, when the other two follower pulled the aggressive guy back. “Come on, let's go!”

Of course they were cowards and with one last glare, they pushed Tadashi back and the three of them ran. Tadashi didn't hesitate and pulled Miku back with him into school too. Still trembling, Tadashi checked if Miku was all right.

“I-I'm fine, thanks for your help.” He paused. “You were very brave, no one ever did that for me.”

And Tadashi would have done so for every person in need but now there was this awe in Miku's eyes.

“Try to avoid them in future okay? I can't be everywhere....”

Unspoken words which were as loud as being said. But Miku kept quiet. A nod.

They made their way back to the classroom, when Miku brought Tadashi to a halt in holding one of his sleeves, he almost whispered. “I'm sorry....”

“For what?”

“Because they insulted you.”

“That.... Don’t mind it. Happens.” Tadashi really couldn't care less.

“But I do. They shouldn’t have. It was mean.”

“I’m fine. But thank you. Try to stay out of trouble, will you? Let's go back to class.”

But Miku didn't follow when Tadashi moved to do so. He looked questioning back at the petite man who looked sheepishly down onto his feet, he stuttered. “Tadashi-san.... I wondered if we could... walk to school together…maybe....”

Stiff and taken aback from the openness, he turned around again. Realization set in and Miku covered his face with his hands. “I’m sorry! I know…. Now you’re gonna tell me that your boyfriend won’t like it…. You see, no one speaks to me and…well, I thought....”

Tadashi kept quiet but he smiled at Miku. Somehow he was flattered about the open fondness although it brought him trouble at home. Nevertheless, he knew how Miku felt because not long ago, he was like that boy. Tadashi touched Miku on his shoulder who lowered his hands from his face. “I know how you feel and as hard as every beginning is, you will grow into it. You are a strong and nice person. I will be there for you during school but I can't give you my private life.”

A silent nod. There was no way in saying it nice or more comfortable, a no was always a no. One last smile from Tadashi before they returned to class together in silence.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

“And you helped him?” Taro turned his head to the left and watched Tadashi sitting in the living room while he was busy preparing dinner.

“Sure, poor kid was totally helpless….” Tadashi answered while he drew but Taro couldn't be mad with him. He had the sincerest heart and seeing him engaging in drawing after a long time, made Taro very happy. They both silenced while Tadashi was concentrated in his work. A sudden shift of the air behind him and delicate arms encircled him wordlessly. A pause and the blond leaned into the smell of fresh washed hair, he closed his eyes, felt a kiss against his temple... and then his cheek. In reflex, Tadashi dropped the pencil and held onto the always cold hands. They hold onto each other, almost desperately, as if something wanted to separate them.

There are moments which need no words. And some actions need no explaining. Tadashi's hand reached up and down the delicate body and he slowly pushed Taro down onto the floor next to him, leaning over him. It was need when Taro pulled him down tenderly, kissed him deeply, as if it was their first time. Words of intimacy, giggles... when breathing became harder and skin felt skin. Taro encircled Tadashi's head, feeling his breath against his throat, a magical melody. Their bodies entwined, inseparable, together. They would always be, always.

In a pile of pillows and comforters, they lay on the floor with the kitten in between. Tadashi was sleeping soundlessly with his head on Taro's stomach.... and Taro loved it when he did so. Then he would play with his blond strands, count the moles on his face, observe him breathing slowly. It always seemed like hours but Taro never brought himself to wake Tadashi. He simply looked at him, although he did so with melancholy. Because only in his sleep, Tadashi seemed free. The empty and lost stares added up in Tadashi's daily life and it pained Taro realizing that. Too often, he felt excluded from Tadashi's inner world and he feared to loose him to it completely one day. Not because Tadashi was selfish but because he was selfless and didn't want to burden any living being with anything.
Taro collapsed playfully over Tadashi's torso and literally hugged him awake, he calmed down when arms encircled him in response. And it was perfect. In this moment, everything was.

It was a phone call the following day which revealed a side of Tadashi's personal life, Taro hadn't known before. Tadashi stiffened with the phone in his hands and his voice changed to an automatic voice without any feelings. The call ended as quickly as it came in and Tadashi explained, that his family insisted on visiting him here in Tokyo. Which bode no good. He hasn't been home in ages and that for good reasons. Tadashi was fidgety, nervous and puzzled which was totally unlike him. Normally, he was the calm and quiet one who looked over Taro and made everything all right.
Tadashi also excused himself for his family although nothing had really happened yet and it was Taro, who made him stop and took him by his hands.

“Tadashi, what's going on?”

A deep breath and thorough inspection of his feet. “The truth is, I fled to Tokyo for my studies. Me and my family are hardly in contact.”

Taro shook his head in disbelieve. Tadashi was the nicest human being, how could someone dislike him? But the only reason which came into his mind was.... “Do they know.... you know, about us?”

“No. My father and I never got along. He's a business man and I am the no-good-artist.”

Taro bit his lip and tightened his grip on Tadashi's hands. “Then why now?”

“The only thing which ever moved my father was business, I can think of nothing else.” Tadashi hissed. “I have nothing to be proud of Taro. Your little family is so rich and wonderful… mine’s quite the opposite.” And Taro guessed right, that they also knew nothing about his eyes.

Tadashi's sleep was restless that night and naturally Taro woke up with him, every time he tossed and turned. Lying a hand silently on his back or chest often calmed him. But the uneasiness during the day was almost palpable and made Taro nervous too. When the doorbell finally rang, a fierce, old looking man entered without saying anything and Tadashi bowed. An elderly but fine looking woman followed, she at least bowed with a smile at Tadashi. Everything seemed very formal and Taro could tell that they were well off. Her kimono looked expensive and so did the father's elegant suit.

“You’re looking bad. Are you sick?” Were the first words from his father. And Taro knew immediately that there was nothing of Tadashi in this person. His mother touched Tadashi’s cheek and she looked at him. “Indeed, are you well? Do you eat enough?”

“I’m fine mother, thank you.”

Being nervous himself, Taro dropped a pot into the sink and the talking in the corridor stopped. “Are there any guests?” His mother asked and his father looked around the corner suspiciously. Taro in the kitchen, looked at his hands and breathed in and out deeply. They also didn't know about Tadashi living with him. Which hurt at first but considering the circumstances, Taro wasn't mad with Tadashi for not telling them.

“There is someone I’d like you to meet.” Tadashi gestured for the two of them to walk into the living room and he walked into the kitchen to get Taro.

His parents sat down on the couch which seemed kind of alien because they were so very Japanese. In their looks, their behavior, in their thinking. And now they found themselves in this artistic middle sized apartment which was full of art utensils and western devices.... His father of course never approved of Tadashi studying art and his mother believed what her husband believed because she had to. And Taro would never forget the look in their eyes when he turned around the corner of the kitchen and they saw him for the first time.

“Father, mother. May I introduce Arimura Ryutaro-san. He’s my best friend and we’re living together.”

Taro bowed down deeply and said his greetings in the most respectful way. He didn't do it for them but for Tadashi. When his face came up again, he looked into two astonished faces and his father spoke his mind right away.

“I believe to give you enough money for your studies and a respectable living…” What he was referring to, was the fact of two men living together. It was very odd and very unlikely. Nevertheless, Tadashi did a great job and stayed calm. His mother although, looked from Tadashi to Ryutaro who looked at his feet sheepishly and said nothing. She understood immediately what her son tried to say and it seemed that her husband wasn’t far from guessing. She pulled the man on his sleeve to sit down again and luckily, he did so.

“I won’t discuss my friends with you.” Tadashi crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Why did you come?”

“Don’t be this disrespectful!! After all we have done for you!”

Taro could tell that Tadashi was closing up, just like a child. Probably a habit from early days to protect himself.

“But....” The old man breathed in and out loudly. “We came indeed because of the factory inheritance.”

Now that was a really serious subject and definitely not something for strange ears to hear. Taro looked at Tadashi because he so wanted to leave, thought about a dozen excuses to do so but Tadashi hold him back on his arm, when he wanted to stand up to get some tea. Of course his parents saw that.

“And we may discuss that in private, if you don’t mind!” His father became loud and Taro next to Tadashi became smaller and smaller. But Tadashi stood his place, kept calm on the outside although Taro could tell he didn't feel how he may seemed. In that moment, Taro just wanted to hug Tadashi and tell him how proud he was of him, of becoming such a wonderful person despite of being brought up in such a strict home.

A deep breath before Tadashi spoke his mind: “You can discuss anything private together with the two of us because we share everything.”

No words could have put it better and final realization dropped both their faces. Tadashi bit his teeth together while Taro literally stared holes into the floor. Gasps of air, stuttering and ill meant words. His mother tried to calm her husband down after it became too personal but to no avail.

“Tell me that I’m mistaken!” His father didn't want to believe it while his mother seemed to work on the fact in silence.

“You are not. I am not coming home to inherit the family business and I will stay together with Ryutaro until the end of my very days.”

That was a statement well said and it came with a steady voice too. Taro wanted to burst of pride and love but he still didn't move. Tadashi took Taro's sweaty hand into his own to make the awaited outburst even more perfect. His father tried to catch his breath. He was so mad that he couldn't even form words. He looked back at his wife furiously who hold onto his sleeve again.

“Be careful with your heart Dear, sit down. Do you want to listen to your son or scream all the time?” Surprised about Tadashi's mum, Taro looked up at her.

“I’ve heard enough! He has no more right to speak!!!” A pause followed where he seemed to collect his thoughts. “I'm dishonored, we all are!…. and he's our oldest son!!” In disbelieve, he shook his head while the shame was literally rolling off him. Taro's knuckles were all white and Tadashi's mother saw that.

“You’re scaring the poor boy…” She tried to talk sense into the old man but to no avail. From the very beginning it was clear, that there would be no winners today. “Are these your final words?” He asked.

“Yes.” There was a well thought pause before the father continued speaking. “Maybe.... after we all calmed down and you came to your senses, I could arrange something and maybe I will consider you to inherit the family business after all..... If you leave your life here.” Which meant Taro as well of course.

“No. And these are my final words.”

“Well, fine then!! But you must know that you will loose all fortune and support from our side as well! If these are your final words, then we are strangers from this day on!”

Tadashi’s mother was shocked about the expel but Tadashi seemed collected. He took it without any motion or comment. It was his mother who was unsettled now. She looked up to her husband and stood up as well. “Please Dear! I can’t lose my oldest son!”

“You already lost him the day you convinced me to let him go study art!” And he shook off her hand. “The family business and fortune goes over to your younger brother and you...” He pointed at Tadashi, “are not welcome in our house any longer!” Tadashi stepped aside, gesturing that the old man was free to go and not welcome any longer either. Taro, whom was clinging to Tadashi's arm, was close to tears. He wanted to cry for him, he felt miserable for him.

“It is settled then. After you’re done studying, you won’t receive any more money. See where your lousy job brings you.”

These really were his last words before he stormed out the apartment, followed by his wife. His father didn't turn around but his mother did. She hugged her son before she followed her mad husband out of the house. She whispered into his ear. “You will always have a mother, come what may.” She kissed him onto his cheek and Tadashi nodded. She looked at Taro. “Please look after him… he’s always dreaming.” Taro smiled and he bowed politely. “I will.”

The door closed shut and Taro broke down onto the ground. All the tension, all the heavy burden Tadashi carried, lay on his shoulders too. Taro started to cry and with his sleeves he covered his eyes. Tadashi slumped onto his knees and took his beloved into his arms. Taro was done, he was stuttering and excusing himself because he felt guilty for Tadashi loosing his family. Again and again he told him to go after his family but Tadashi simply stayed. There was nowhere else for him to go to. Taro was his home now and has always been.
Taro hold onto Tadashi desperately, telling him again and again how much he loved him and how they could be so mean because it hurt him so much, listening to all these insults. Tadashi on the other hand saw it coming and now, with everything being said and settled, relieve came over him. Now he was truly free. For Taro, he gladly broke contact to the house which cost him so much strength in his early years already. Taro sobbed against Tadashi's chest. “I-I'm not... worth to loose... a family and a business-”

Tadashi lay his finger onto Taro's mouth. “You are worth everything.” And these were his final words.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


As if things weren't complicated enough, circumstances at art school tightened as well. It was Taro's usual Thursday-pick-up. He always waited in front of the class room to get Tadashi from pottery class and since Miku became an unwillingly topic in Taro's life, Taro became super in time.... just in case. To make his point clear, to stand by his man in any situation. The door opened ans students stormed out, except for the two he waited for.

Tadashi was too naive, always has been but at least Taro knew so he could act accordingly. Miku always found ways to keep him back at his side, to pester him with countless questions and eating out the time of his life. Taro balled his fists and counted internally. Happy laughs filled the classroom and Taro couldn't bear it no longer. He stepped into the door and remained unrecognized in the door frame. Miku was too involved watching Tadashi rescuing his crappy pottery project.... and the gaze he had when he looked at Tadashi, stung into his heart deeply. HE was the only one allowed to look at Tadashi that way! And he damn well should know that.

Taro's bag slumped down to the ground and Miku jolted in his seat while Tadashi turned around relaxed. It must have been the look in Taro's eyes which made Miku smaller in his seat and he damn well knew why Taro looked that way. Tadashi explained with a few last words before he cleaned his hands up and gathered his art supplies together. With a goodbye, he silently followed Taro out the door.

“Taro!” The black haired man walked faster than usual, embracing himself with his own arms, gaze stubbornly ahead. “Taro, wait, please!” Tadashi jogged up to him and turned him around on his shoulder.... but he looked down onto his shoes, avoiding Tadashi's gaze. “Why are you acting like that?”

“WHY?!” Oh no, Taro, thought. He was close to loose it on the street. “Can't you see Tadashi?! That boy is totally into you! And he doesn't care that you are with me! He's testing you every day and me as well!” With tears in his eyes, his gaze shot up to look Tadashi in the eyes. “Your naivety is lovely but at the same time cruel to me! Wake up Tadashi! At least, do it for me!”

Tadashi was speechless about Taro's outburst. But the worst of it, he couldn't even deny it. Not that he encouraged Miku to be like that but maybe he didn't act accordingly. He took Taro into his arms and cared over his back. “I'm sorry,” he whispered at his ear, “now I understand. It's all my fault.”

Taro broke into tears and Tadashi realized how much it must have hurt his beloved. It broke his heart as well to see him so shaken over the fact. All the situations, conversations and unintentional touches from Miku's side, played in front of Tadashi's inner eyes and he understood. He nodded in agreement and took Taro's hand firmly into his. Together, they walked back home.

After having a quiet dinner and a shower, Taro came out the bathroom and into the kitchen. Tadashi was nowhere to be seen, probably being in their bedroom. On the counter stood a little package rapped in newspaper. Being half cat himself or at least Taro liked to think that, he noisily examined the package when he saw his name written on it. He looked around, insecure what to do but decided to open it since his name was written on it anyway. The package was jingling. Slowly he unwrapped it and felt that it had the size of a pottered bowl. And with the last layer gone, he saw that it was the new cat bowl for Lisa in shape of a cat face, lovely painted.... but what really took his breath away was the object which caused the jingling inside.

Slowly, not knowing what to make of it, Taro settled the bowl down onto the counter and a warm laugh from behind him finally made him jolt and turn around. Tadashi leaned against the door frame but now he walked closer to Taro and took the bowl from behind him. On the palm of his hand, he displayed the silver item and showed Taro the silver ring. His mind went blank the moment Tadashi went down onto one knee and Taro stood still in shock. He only ever saw that in movies.

Tadashi took Taro's shaking hand. At first, Tadashi stuttered, trying to remember all the well practiced sentences and meaningful phrases but what he said in the end, was so personal that Taro blushed furiously and his heart beat wildly. He could have asked anything of him and his answer was simply. “Yes, always!” And Tadashi moved up and Taro embraced him so hard that the blond had difficulties breathing. Taro sobbed into Tadashi's neck and kissed him all over until Tadashi finally covered his mouth to kiss him silently. Solving the kiss, Tadashi slipped the ring onto Taro's finger. He wore the same ring as well.

“But we can't get married here in Japan-” Again Tadashi silenced him with his finger on his mouth.

“This is a ceremony only for us. We are married.” He kissed him on his cheek while Taro looked at the lovely cat bowl on the counter. “You proposed out of a cat bowl....”

“I did.”

“It was perfect.” Taro smiled and leaned back into Tadashi's embrace. He whispered at his neck. “I'm sorry for having been such a mess earlier this day.”

“It doesn't matter anymore.”

The following day, it was the same procedure like every day. Taro waited next to the classroom but more calm and collected than ever. He looked at the ring on his hand and for probably the hundredth time, he took it off to look at the engraved message on the inside. Their initials and the date of the day where he approached Tadashi with the green heart shaped balloon, June 21st.... He felt so loved, so special and for nothing on this world he would change his life or trade this ring.

More and more students came out of the classroom, while Tadashi was busy washing his brushes. Of course Miku hasn't left the classroom yet but Taro waited patiently outside. Murmured conversations were going on inside which were finally broken by a jingling noise of something falling down onto the ground. What Taro couldn't see was, that Tadashi had taken off his ring and being clumsy, it fell from the sink down to the ground. It was Miku who reacted quickly and he picked it up. He handed it to Tadashi but not before he saw the engraved message inside. Their eyes met for the split of a second and sudden realization hit him, pained him. Looking into those dark brown eyes.... eyes which he came to admire so much but who would never look at him the same way.

“I'm sorry.” Miku stuttered but it was Tadashi who repeated the same words. “No, I'm sorry. For not telling you where my heart truly lies.” It is not that Miku didn't knew, he just decided to ignore the fact. If it hurt him now, then it was all alone his fault. But Tadashi was so nice to even take that burden off his shoulders. Which was not okay. Stepping back, Miku bowed down politely and left after picking up his belongings without another spoken word. And that was it. This settled things for once and for all.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



In six months from now, they would both graduate from art school. Taro with a degree in painting and Tadashi in pottery and drawing. Every now and then, Tadashi lost himself in melancholy. The fact about his eye sight and financial pressure weighed heavily on his shoulders, especially since he felt responsible for Taro's happiness. He tried not to drown in the thoughts of being a burden for Taro, since his beloved told him on an almost daily basis that he was his life and to always rely on him.

Since their visit to Taro's grandmother's, it was clear that they would move into her house after graduation, into the countryside. And since the little village was kind of a tourist attraction, they decided to craft and sell their art there. They were free of rent since Taro was to inherit the house anyway, which was a most welcome bonus. But one issue was still not loudly spoken about.

“What about your grandmother?” Tadashi asked.

“She will be fine with us moving in. It was her to offer it in the first place.”

An awkward silence which pointed to the fact Tadashi was referring to. Taro blushed and turned his eyes down. “Oh.... OH! I see! Well....I know I have to be more silent.” Now Tadashi blushed as well and he looked down onto his crossed arms and smiled widely.

“I guess you agree that we have to tell her one day?” Tadashi lead on the conversation.

Taro nodded. “We have to wait for an appropriate moment.”

Tadashi nodded knowingly, that for something like that, there would never be an appropriate moment.

The day they had graduated was the day they immediately moved out. They rented a van and Tadashi drove up north while Taro next to him tried to calm down the cat in the cat-transportation-box. Days prior to their moving, Tadashi talked to his mother on the phone and told her about them moving up north. He even gave her their new address, just in case and Taro was glad that Tadashi at least talked to his mum…. Not to mention how long it took Taro to convince Tadashi to call her in the first place. She wasn’t really against them moving away from Tokyo but still not easy with the whole 'topic' altogether. Nevertheless, Tadashi himself seemed more carefree now that their time in Tokyo had come to an end and something new was about to start.

Grandma was so happy to have them both back, she showered them both with tons of food during the whole day. Considerate, as she was, she had prepared two separate bedrooms but they left it uncommented for the time being. Taro closed the paper door to his room and put the distressed cat down onto the floor and opened the cat box to give her some space. Tadashi remained with Grandma on the veranda, sipping the rest of his green tea. The night was warm and humid, the last days of summer. They both felt very at ease with each other. She inhaled deeply. “It’s so nice to have you both back.”

“I’m really sorry for all the inconvenience.” Tadashi bowed down very politely to say his thanks the Japanese way.

“Don’t you start. You’re part of our little family. I’m glad to have you both back. Now this old house becomes lively again!”

Tadashi smiled. “Please ask for help every time you need it.”

She smiled at him and touched his arm lovingly. “You’re such a good boy Tadashi. Thank you.”

Footsteps could be heard from behind them and Taro appeared in large pajamas and tousled hair on the veranda. Tadashi tried to keep his cool, finding his beloved too damn adorable but Grandma was jokingly mad with Taro: “Look at you! This is not how I have raised you! How often have I told you not to get into your pajamas when it's not even time to go to bed.... and in front of guests too.”

“But, Tadashi is no guest.”

Still murmuring to herself, she went inside to get Taro a cup of tea. Vanishing around the corner, Tadashi pulled Taro down onto his lap and kissed him quick but deeply onto his mouth. Startled from the sudden contact, Taro moved away, obviously blushed and crawled down to sit next to Tadashi. “She could see us—“

And he kissed Taro onto the side of his mouth. Shocked, Taro moved away and only moments later, Grandma reappeared on the veranda. Well behaved, Taro took the tea with a 'thank you' and sipped on it innocently. When they later went to bed in their separate rooms, Tadashi said his good night with an unreadable glare. They haven't slept separated in ages and Taro knew about Tadashi sleeping uneasily when he was all alone. It was a terrible lonesome night for both of them. Well except for Taro who slept together with a crazy cat who was yet not used to the new surroundings.

Tadashi unloaded the truck the next day as he insisted in doing it alone and Taro sat down with his Grandma and the tired cat on his lap. It was the way Taro was silent, the long distance stares and glimpses he took of Tadashi.... but something felt terribly sad about it. Grandma asked Taro a few times what was wrong until he finally told her about Tadashi's diagnosis. And he cried silently, just silent enough to not let Tadashi see his weakness.

“He got this horrible diagnosis one and a half years ago… his eyes are getting weaker and weaker until.....” He paused. “It’s only a matter of time.” Another sob and she took Taro's hand.

“Why haven’t you told me earlier?”

“It’s our problem, not yours Grandma.”

“Until now. But we are family. We will stay together.”

Taro gave a breath of laugh. “It’s our turn to help you. Please don’t feel responsible for us. We managed it so far…”

“Don’t be funny. Together we can make it.”

Taro looked at her with reddened eyes and he hugged her tightly, saying ‘thank you’ and kissed her on her cheek. She cared him over his back. When Taro pulled back, he continued. “It won’t be easy. Tadashi often becomes depressed and it gets harder and harder to pull him out again. It takes all my strength.”

His grandma nodded. “In this case he maybe needs some medication.” Taro wanted to retard but he knew that maybe was best.

“How bad is it?” She wanted to know.

“He lost sight of color over half a year ago. Without glasses, he’s almost blind.”

“Good Lord...” She paused. “But let’s hope for the best. There are surely beautiful years to come.”

Later that day, Tadashi and Taro went for a walk together. Through the beautiful countryside down to the little village and back again. It became a habit and they both enjoyed it almost every evening after dinner. And after everybody was asleep, one paper door slid open very quietly. Tadashi managed to sleep alone for three full days until he tip toed out of his little Tatami room up the ladder into Taro’s room.

Taro had no time to turn around because arms encircled him from behind and Tadashi leaned forward to kiss up and down his neck, behind his ears, everywhere. Muffled noises, swallowed gasps of breath. The forbidden environment made him only more sensitive, made everything only more special. And loving him under the full moon light, made him look so fragile, so innocent, young and beautiful. For Tadashi, Taro was holy in all his human being. He drank in the sight of his beautiful lover closing his eyes while his slender arms rested above his head, the black hair sprawled beautifully on the tatami floor, the flushed cheeks and closed eyes.... he swore to never forget that sight. He would life and die with it.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

Late at night, they used to separate again and Tadashi did his best to keep his pokerface when they saw each other again at the breakfast table. In utter silence, they sat across Grandma's table and sipped their tea. No one said a word and with narrowed eyes, the old Lady looked from left, tea sipping Tadashi, to the right, slowly blushing Ryutaro and she breathed out loud annoyed.

“So the two of you….”

Tadashi looked up from his cup and so did Taro.

“Why don’t you just admit it for goodness sake!”

Taro looked shocked and Tadashi dumfounded.

“What Grandma?” Taro asked not wanting to believe what she maybe got.

“I can hear the doors opening and closing in my own house…. Especially at night.”

Taro’s face became all red and so did Tadashi’s ears. Okay, she got it. Hesitantly, Tadashi moved up his arm and he took Taro’s hand. “We’re sorry…..” Tadashi paused. “For hiding. I’m really sorry for confronting you with our ‘private life’…” Taro was stiff like wood.

She smiled. “I’m not blind! You’re both beaming around each other. You are connected by soul. I knew it from day one.” They both looked back at the old woman in surprise.

“Wha-?” Taro stuttered, finding his voice again. “Day one?! You mean our first visit….”

“No…” She took a sip from her tea. “From your first phone call I knew it immediately.” They both looked perplex at her but kept on holding their hands.

“You don’t remember? It was your first day at art school and you called me in the evening, saying: ‘Grandma, I’ve met this guy at school and he is very nice and polite. His name is Tadashi.’”

Tadashi beamed in utter happiness when he turned to look at Taro. “You did?” Taro stuttered and looked down onto their hands. “A—ah, I see.”

“I probably knew it even before you did.” She smiled at them. “Don’t hide Love. I grew up in a time where people had to, so don’t.”

“Thank you.” Tadashi said sheepishly.

“There is nothing to thank me for.” She smiled when she gestured the boys to continue with their breakfast. Hesitantly and still in a state of surprise, they continued with their breakfast. It took a load off their minds now that ‘it’ was out and Grandma's reaction was more than great. They moved into Tadashi's room together, even the same day in the back of the house. The view outside the bigger room was fantastic, the little garden abut on the starting forest of the village. Now and the rabbits could be seen and Taro was beyond happy about it.

In utter peace, Taro sat down on their private part of the veranda and skipped through a magazine of art supplies. Sunken in thoughts, he couldn't hear Tadashi approaching from behind but when he heard the wood giving him away, he slowly closed the magazine. A soft breeze and a soothing tone from the hanging wind chime, carried Tadashi's scent.

Taro turned around and looked up at Tadashi’s face. Then he reached up with one hand and pulled Tadashi down. And he kissed him, without a spoken word or invitation. Tadashi was paralyzed at first but he moved down into a sitting position and broke the kiss, just to pull Taro into his lap and kiss his hair from behind. Their hands rested in each others and Taro took off Tadashi's ring to look at the engraving of their initials and the date of their 'balloon day'. Today was the first day they wore the rings together in the house.

“I cannot imagine to never see you again.”

It went like a shot through Taro's heart but he responded as calm as possible. “I will always be there. Nothing is going to change. You know me and I know you.” He felt the nod from behind.

“In your thoughts I will always be young.”

The embrace around Taro's stomach tightened and he could feel Tadashi fighting with tears. It was so hard, for both of them but Taro tried not to show it. “Please Tadashi, don’t cry. Or I will start to cry as well.”

Another kiss against his hair.

“Tadashi, please be strong… for both of us. Together we can make it.”

Tadashi paused and thought a moment about it. “For you, I will exceed myself.”


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



Ryutaro’s grandmother knew an old potter in the village and when he heard about Tadashi, he decided to teach him further traditional pottery. It was a change in his every day life and Tadashi was overwhelmed. He took the offer gradually.

So every day, he went by foot down into the village to the little traditional wooden house where the old man worked and sold some of his pottery to the people of the village and, most importantly, to the tourists. It wasn't much money that Tadashi earned but since he didn't have to pay any rent, at least he could pay their food with it. Another pleasant side effect was, that it kept Tadashi occupied and made him forget his sorrow a little bit. Tadashi's pottery was lovely and especially famous with the women and children.

At the same time, Taro continued painting but unfortunately it hardly sold…. His art was too…. specific, naive, childish, maybe dreamy. Sometimes it made him sad but nevertheless he stood to his taste. He sold his pictures as post cards and framed pictures at a little art shop in town.

So, one day, Taro was strolling down the street in his Yukata and he had his arm hooked into Tadashi's. They passed a little kimono shop and an old woman and a little girl sat outside on a little bench. Taro and Tadashi greeted the old lady and the little girl and after they had passed, Taro felt something pulling on his sleeve.

“Hello you!” The girl greeted.

Surprised, Taro looked down at the traditional dressed girl who looked just like a doll. “Hello, how are you?”

The girl smiled. “Grandma told me you are the one who paints all these cat pictures and fishes and trees…”

Taro looked surprised and Tadashi smiled. Their arms were still hooked and the girl got both of their attention. “Ahm, yes, that’s me. Do you know my pictures?”

“I saw them at the art shop and I bought the one with the little cat on it.”

A little gesture which filled Taro’s heart with happiness. He knelt down to the girl. “I will paint another one just for you.”

Her face filled with joy. “YAAAY! Will you visit our shop then?”

“I will.” Taro smiled and the little girl jumped back to the old kimono shop.

Taro smiled at himself when they continued their way and Tadashi cared over his arm. Seeing Taro happy made him happy too. So a few days later, Taro returned to the kimono shop with a new framed cat picture under his arm. The little girl was at the kindergarten that moment but he left it nevertheless. So he promised to come back later to visit her.... the old woman stopped him in his tracks.

“I saw your pictures too. They show great fragility and a lot of feeling… I always wondered how they would look like on a kimono.”

It sounded like a dream come true. Taro was thrilled by the very idea and after another ten minutes, they decided to meet again for future plans…. They teamed up for kimono designs and a few times per week, Taro went down into the village to go to work there.

His grandmother was so proud of the boys. She loved having them and their cat around, it was a lovely life they led.... until Tadashi's eyes became worse again.


It was one year later.

One morning, Taro jolted in his sleep from a sudden loud noise. He sat up on his futon and tried to make out what happened. Across the room, he saw that Tadashi had stumbled over the little chair which stood in his way out. He hold onto his knee and cursed silently. Not only had he lost sight of colors years ago, now it started to get blurry too… even with glasses on. It bode no good and deep down Tadashi knew it. He looked around the room but couldn’t find his glasses, he lost them during his fall.

“Tadashi!” Taro stood up from the futon and knelt next to Tadashi who sat on the floor, he stuttered. “T-taro… I can’t find my glasses it’s all so blurry… I…”

“It's okay.” Taro cared over Tadashi’s back and guided him back to the futon. He made the blond to sit down and he looked across the room and found the glasses. Fact was, that the room wasn't too dark either. Concerned, Taro knelt in front of Tadashi and he carefully put the glasses onto his beloved.

“Taro?” Tadashi asked when the silence started to say more than words. He stretched out his arms and felt for Taro's face. It was clumsy.

Taking a deep breath, Taro asked. “Tadashi what do you see?”

“It’s still kind of dark, I can only see shallow outlines and slight features.”

Taro closed his eyes and slightly turned his head away. It felt like cold hands gripping his throat and choking the breath out of him. He knew that this day was about to come but still he couldn't possibly prepare for it. He took Tadashi's hands into his.

“What’s the matter? Taro?”

It took all of his courage to answer that simple question.

“It’s morning Tadashi.”

“Morning? But....” And he got it. Taro moved forward and took Tadashi into his arms. He hold him tight, just hold onto him, afraid that he could fall apart, break into pieces. It was Taro who started to sob, Tadashi was too shocked for any reaction. Taro cried into Tadashi's shoulder:

“It’s bright outside Tadashi! Goddamn it!”

Tadashi pulled his glasses down, rubbed his eyes, widened them to make sure… but it was no use. The world was gray and blurry with slight features. He stopped breathing for a moment, taking in this surreal situation of siting on his futon and Taro crying on his shoulder while the world around him was simply not there. Finally, Tadashi sunk with his head onto Taro's shoulder and he hugged Taro back, cared over his beloved's back as if it could save him from any further harm.

The same day, the doctor came over and he left some sedative for Tadashi to calm down. Not that he wasn't calm, Tadashi was usually too calm from the outside but Taro knew how he felt and thought. He was very emotional but hardly showed it, Tadashi thought about a lot during the day and night and sometimes he needed something to calm his head down. That ticking machine which never stops working, working, working....

From the outside, Tadashi was in a shock so Taro didn't leave his side alone for longer than necessary. Also because he had to navigate him around the house on his arm. It broke Taro's heart but he tried not to show any weakness.

He observed Tadashi in his sleep. Fact was that his beloved didn't fall asleep until Taro hold onto his hand. He cared over it, his hair, his cheek and thought about what to say, how to react when Tadashi woke up from his nap.... All this was so not fair. Why the kindest person on earth? Why him? There was so much evil in this world… did God despise them? For being what they are? It was ridiculous. All this thinking made Taro sick too.

His grandmother came in and she put down a bowl of soup. Taro shook with his head but she insisted on him drinking something warm. She touched Taro’s shoulder.

“We will both be there for him. Now it’s important that we are strong for him.” Taro nodded and thanked her. He knew that. After drinking his soup, Taro crawled under their bed cover as well and he hold onto Tadashi from behind, warming his back, falling asleep with the smell of his hair. Droplets landed on the pillow and his clutch tightened. Afraid, that he lost his Tadashi forever.

During the night, there was hardly any rest, Taro himself woke up several times to check on Tadashi, who nervously tossed in his sleep now and then. It was nerve-wracking for both of them. After giving Tadashi some of his sedatives, he at least managed to sleep peacefully until the next morning.... then Dejavu.... again a loud noise and Taro sat up on his futon.

Tadashi just 'found' the door with his foot and before he was able to open it, he felt arms encircling him from behind and a head leaning against his shoulder. Tadashi touched Taro's arms and rested in this embrace.

“I’m sorry I woke you.”

Taro shook his head. “Never apologize for something like that.... how are you?”

A moment of silence before Tadashi spoke. “I can feel your pain Taro and it's harder for me than this burden I have to life with. In my mind, I tried to get used to the fact a long time ago.” A moment of silence but they didn't move. “I will be fine. As long as you are with me.”

Taro kissed him onto his hair. “Always..... Can I get you something?”

Tadashi shook his head. “No, thank you. I have to get used to this on my own.”

And they made new memories. Taro tried not to observe Tadashi getting used to the house by touching his way around the halls, or him sitting on the veranda with the cat on his lap and enjoying the rays of sun on his face. After a while Taro realized that Tadashi must have 'known' that he was being watched but he never said a word about it.


Of course the hard times came. Tadashi had the first break down after three weeks. He was so deeply depressed and hated everything that even Taro’s grandma got involved. His feelings changed from hard crying, over being utterly depressed on to being angry, mostly about himself which was totally stupid and harmful at the same time.
Usually, his mood stabilized when Taro took him for a walk or sat outside with him and the cat on the veranda. They tried to abstract Tadashi with easy work and sometimes it helped. After a break from his pottery for several months, he even wanted to start doing pottery again. Taro was overjoyed and accompanied him down into the village every time and fetched him again. His first attempts were no good and he knew that but from time to time, Tadashi became better. His focus from 'seeing' changed to 'feeling' and he even sensed moods and people's thoughts quicker than usual people.

Taro on the other hand was currently out of work. He told Tadashi that the kimono maker had no more money to pay him but the truth was that he quit because of Tadashi. Maybe he would return to the shop after Tadashi’s mood was stable again. It wasn’t much money they earned with Tadashi's pottery but it was enough to survive which was good.
Now and then, when they sat together on the veranda, waiting for the sun to go down… Taro took a glimpse of Tadashi’s face from the side, observed him looking into the sunset. By the way he looked, no one ever guessed that Tadashi couldn't see it. Maybe because he was able to see at some point. Very soon, Taro realized what kind of change their relationship went through. Feeling the other somehow became more intense. Tadashi knew immediately when Taro or his grandma didn’t feel well, he turned his head when Taro’s silently smiled… he ‘felt’ Taro’s doing things and he reacted accordingly. Somehow it was wonderful and sad at the same time.

“You’re staring at me…” Tadashi said without moving his head. Taro widened his eyes in surprise. “You’re observing me from the inside! Now I’m feeling ashamed!” Taro hid his face with his hands and Tadashi smiled and he reached for Taro’s hands. He pulled him close to him and made him sit on his lap. Tadashi leaned with his chin on Taro’s shoulder.

“You still smell the same.” Tadashi murmured.

“I am still the same. Are you, Tadashi?”

The blond thought a moment about it. “Hm, I don’t know… we all change.”

“We made new experiences.” Taro added.

“Yes.”

“You always know what I’m thinking and doing… sometimes it’s creepy.”

Tadashi smiled. “Hn, it's good for me.”

“Not good for me! I can’t hide anything from you!” Taro clasped Tadashi playfully on his hand.

“How do you actually ‘see’ the sunset Tadashi? Is it all black?”

Tadashi shook his head. “Not pitch black. It’s all red. When you’re looking with closed eyes against light, it’s all red for you too.”

“I see.”

“How are you today?” Taro asked all of a sudden.

“Today it’s normal. Why?”

“Well… I just wondered. Do you want to call your mum at some point?”

Tadashi moved back from Taro's shoulder. “Why should I?”

“She's your mom. She told you that you can count on her… Don’t you think it would only be fair to mention how you’re doing?”

Tadashi shook his head. “It wouldn’t make any difference.”

“Tadashi… I never knew my real mum and I would have done anything to meet her at least once but she died before I was able to see her…. You don’t hate your parents. I know it. You are too kind to hate.”

Maybe indifferent, at least towards his Dad, Tadashi thought but he said nothing. He thought about Taro's words. “Maybe you’re right. But not now Taro. When the time is right, then maybe.”

Taro moved around and kissed Tadashi quickly on his lips. Tadashi touched Taro’s hair and cared through it. “You’re still having the same hairstyle.”

“Of course.”

“Please don’t change it. It’s my all time favorite.”

Taro smiled and nodded. Tadashi himself still insisted on dyeing his hair blond. It was his favorite color and Taro happily obliged. He loved him with that hair anyway. That’s how he met him.

 

The other great break down came seven months afterward.


Tadashi, he and Taro were 35 years old now, started to seal himself from the outside. First it seemed like one of his usual break downs and although they tried their best to distract Tadashi from his own ruining self… it couldn’t be helped. Taro became mad himself for not being able to help. Seeing his beloved becoming more and more catatonic and lifeless, it hurt him so much. He and his grandma went to the doctor and the doctor visited them at home since Tadashi insisted to stay at home… It wasn’t unusual for newly blind people to become heavily depressed.

For Taro it was the hardest thing to solve medicine into Tadashi’s drinks to get his mood up again. And maybe Tadashi realized his mood changes but he was polite enough not to question it. He knew it himself, that this kind of behavior wasn’t any good either. But he tried to work hard on it and himself.

His mother came by to visit him one year later.

It was Taro who had finally called her and Tadashi was shocked when he heard her voice in the corridor. She started to cry when she saw her boy sitting there in the living room. She stormed inside and took her son into her arms. Tadashi first hesitated but then he encircled her as well and hugged her. Somehow it was good to feel his mother after such a long time. The last time they saw each other was in Tokyo when they had this big argument with his father.

“I’m so glad to see you Tadashi. You’re looking good. Like always.”

“Thanks to Taro and Grandma.” The two of them stood in the doorway and smiled. The woman looked up. “Thank you for caring for my boy so dearly. If it pleases you, I will happily care for my son and take him home with me.”

Taro almost lost it. “That's impossible! We belong together, I can’t life without him!” He almost screamed and it made Tadashi feel proud and strong at the same time. His mother had utter surprise written all over her face, she simply nodded.

“This is the boys' home….” His grandma added. “They will inherit the house.”

Tadashi’s mom dried her tears. “I see. And it’s such a lovely place.” She moved away from Tadashi and bent down very deeply in front of them. “Thank you for all your care and help.”

“Please.” Grandma gestured her to move up. “Let’s have a cup of tea together.

During their tea and conversation, Tadashi sat next to his mum and Taro next to his grandma. She told him about his brother and father and it seemed that his father still hold onto his believes which was no surprise to Tadashi. He promised to call his brother though because his younger brother really missed him. Tadashi's mother stayed over night because of the long way home. She promised to visit again with his little brother and then she was gone. What Tadashi didn’t know was, that she sent money after her visit, every month for Tadashi’s expenses. She insisted and for Taro it was almost embarrassing to take it. Grandma had to promise her not to tell him about it. He would be too proud to take it. They had a family business at home so it was his share anyway.

Another great shock came when Lisa the cat disappeared one month later and never returned.

Devastation was an understatement. Taro was completely broken. Not only did he love his cat very much, she also carried a lot of meaning for him too. She was Tadashi’s gift to Taro when they first moved in together in Tokyo. She was such a lovely cat, the best one. It took all of Tadashi’s ability to cheer or distract Taro from his grief…. Again the younger one cried every night and was speechless during the day. For Tadashi, it was even harder because he sensed feelings before everyone else did. Three weeks after the cat's disappearance, he clutched Taro’s hand tightly while they walked over a large filed.

“Taro…” Tadashi literally felt Taro hanging his head low. “Lisa had a long and happy life with us…”

“I know but it was still too early…” He paused.

“Yes it was. But what about another cat? Let’s get one together…”

Taro shook his head. Tadashi knew it. It was still too early. It couldn't be helped. Taro still grieved and only time was able to heal him.

“It was our cat…”

“I know.” Oh how well did he know that. Taro repeated these words for weeks now.

“We will be united again one day.”

Taro looked at Tadashi. “Do you believe that?” The blond nodded.

“Then, will we meet as well?”

Silence before an answer came. “Of course. We will see each other again…. And I will be able to ‘see’ you again…” It carried too much meaning which made Taro only more sad. “Don't be sad Taro. Later, let’s have a bath together.” Taro nodded.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



Taro’s grandma started to feel ill when both of them turned 39. Taro was very worried about her because she was usually a very tough person. Standing up early in the morning, doing all her chords herself… The illness she carried seemed to slow her down, made her weak from the inside. It was hard to watch and the thought of it unbearable. She was the only mother he ever had. Taro couldn’t stand the thought of loosing her too. He panicked about the thought of being alone with Tadashi in this huge house.

She fell asleep the same winter and never woke up again. It was the same time Tadashi started to complain about strong headaches. Live was a complete mess. Taro just worked and functioned without thinking. He worked his pain of loss away, wanted to be strong for Tadashi, his only family now. Tadashi’s mom must have heard from Tadashi about Grandma’s death and she helped from afar with the funeral. Making telephone calls, she even insisted to pay for the funeral which was very generous. Somehow it felt like a compensation for the whole trouble they had caused in the past and Tadashi and Taro took their help after some persuasion gratefully.

Everything played like a black and white film in Taro's world: The funeral, the few remaining friends from the village, the Buddhist priest singing his verses... and during the whole time, Taro couldn't say a word. He was in a state of shock. It was Tadashi who held him up, gave him strength did the talking and thanking for the condolences, arranged everything via telephone. Taro only did the walking. It wasn't rare for them to remind people that Tadashi was actually blind since he acted like a 'normal' working person and people treated him that way.

They hold each other up, were each others strength.

But Tadashi's healthy changed slowly, with each month. Sometimes, everything seemed normal and Tadashi was able to do pottery and easy chords but sometimes he was barely able to move, laying in a completely darkened place because of his headaches.
The intervals in between these 'good' and 'bad' times became shorter and shorter and after a lot of talking from Taro and finally Tadashi's insight, they went to a special hospital in the closest, bigger town. The check took almost all day. They did a full body check and concentrated especially on the head. They promised the results two days later but there was no call. On the third day, Taro called them only to get the information that a special unit was double-checking on the x-rays. He was sick to his stomach after he ended the phone call.... something was not all right. He was close to faint and barely able to sit on the kitchen chair... he didn't know for how long he sat there, seeing the sun changing to the moon while Tadashi was taking a long nap.

The next day, the long awaited call came. The tumor underneath Tadashi’s front brain was half a fist big. Taro dropped the phone in shock and stared at the wooden wall as if he was expecting an answer from it. All his fears pressed down on him at once. The doctor on the phone repeatedly called out for Ryutaro… still shocked he picked up the phone again and just listened. The doctor said something about surgery…. dangerous… most likely brain damage….

In that moment, Taro felt like everything for him was over. The last rays of hope, dead, killed, gone. In that moment, Tadashi entered and he saw the state of shock Taro was in. Controlled, he took the phone from Taro's hand and answered it. He nodded and said yes, yes, yes, as if they were talking about the weather. Tadashi steadied himself during the call when Taro started to lean onto his side and became heavier and heavier. He clutched onto Tadashi's arm tightly and buried his face in his shoulder. Tadashi listened patiently to the doctors explanations and it seemed like he took the news better than Taro did... maybe, it wasn't a big surprise to him either. When he ended the call, he took Taro into his arms and hold him tight. He nuzzled into his hair.

“I knew it Taro, that there was something completely wrong but I didn't want to see it. Now, knowing the facts, it's like this burden lifted from myself.”

Everything made sense now, the loss of his eye sight, the heavy headaches.... and the consequences were rather dark. But Tadashi didn't talk about it. For him, it was out of the question to become a nursing case for Taro, this he swore to himself so he decided to go against the surgery. As crazy as it seemed but he was more concerned about Taro's health and well-being than his own. He knew that all the circumstances were too heavy on Taro's shoulders, he couldn't possibly burden him with any more details.

The nights were warm and sticky. Simply for the reason that Taro didn't let go of Tadashi. He was all over and around him, some kind of body part always touched Tadashi, felt his skin, his breath, his scent. Taro became speechless and Tadashi didn't dare to put 'things' into words. All he did was being there for Taro, the way he needed him to. Since that phone call, their roles had changed again. First Taro was his helping hand, now it was Tadashi. It was surely a big help that he could navigate through the house as if he was still able to see.

And Tadashi could see it in his head, remembered everything so clearly. How Taro picked out a Yukata for him every morning, dressed him, combed and styled his hair, they eating breakfast together, their walks in the garden. The headaches came and left again. Sometimes they lasted for days, sometimes Tadashi had none. They were totally unpredictable and so was their lasting. It was nerve-wracking and Taro often started to panic. It was Tadashi who had to calm him down. Often, they lay in total darkness on the futon together, Taro never left him.

One year long, Tadashi seemed to be able to cope with the situations. The medicine sometimes helped to make the pain bearable. But after some time, he realized that the medicine lost its effect and the headaches returned regularly. He so wanted to be strong for Taro but there were days when he had to spent the whole day alone in complete darkness in his room. It was hard to sent Taro out of the room but he had to for both of their sakes and sanity.

It was a beautiful and warm autumn day when Taro had to buy some food and medicine in the village. He hated to leave Tadashi alone but he really had to fetch this pain killers and some food.

“You go and do whatever you need to do.” Tadashi assured Taro. “I will rest a little bit.”

“Are you sure? You okay?” Taro touched Tadashi’s forehead and his cheek. The blond nodded. He was tired anyway.

“I will lay down and sleep a little bit.”

Taro nodded. “I will be back soon.” He waited. “Kiss?”

Tadashi touched Taro’s face and kissed him onto his mouth twice before he tousled through the dark hair, making Taro smile for a moment. Then he lay down onto the futon and Taro covered him with the blanket. A quick kiss on Tadashi’s cheek before he stormed out the room, to get his things and finally out onto the street.

“See you later!”

“See you!”

Tadashi closed his eyes. There was this stinging since early morning and he had trouble hiding it from Taro. He hoped that the painkillers and more sleep would help to overcome this day. He massaged his forehead, pressed his fingers into his eyes…. this goddamn pain… the pain shot through his scull and he moaned out loud. Why the head? Why the damn head?! It was so painful! Tadashi rolled aside. The pain pumped in rhythm to his heart, Tadashi tried to calm his heart somehow but with no use. Another gush of pain and it felt even deeper than the one before. It seemed to shoot through his spine down his back…. It became unbearable. These were a new category of pain. Tadashi moaned out loud again. His muscles tensed and he balled his fists. His breath came in gasps. He felt incredibly weak.… Another gush… he turned around to the other side and hold his head in between his hands.

Tadashi whispered Ryutaro’s name. Tears started rolling down his cheeks. With his closed eyes, Tadashi saw pictures playing like a movie. Where did they come from? He remembered…. during their long gone school days…. How they met, the one day Taro had come into the park, followed by a green heart shaped balloon. Tadashi stretched out his hand as if he wanted to touch this moment, this person again… he was so close, he saw everything like on this day. Words formed in his head.

You must never set the balloon free and take good care of it. Will you take this light and bouncy heart with you and never let it go?”

“… only if the heart really wants to be with me.”

It wants to.”

Tadashi sobbed and and cried out loud. His nose and tears were running, he grabbed into his hair in despair. That day….. he was so damn happy. It was the happiest day in his life. Back then, he felt like he could do everything…. Together they could cope with everything. Tadashi closed his hand as if he took Ryutaro’s hand again… feeling the warmth again. He smiled and thanked God with all his heart. At the same time he begged for forgiveness for all the trouble he had caused. But he couldn’t help himself. He just loved him.

Tadashi squeezed his blind eyes shut in pain. The pain became unbearable. He arched his back and opened his mouth. His mouth was all dry and his body in cold sweat. He stretched out his arm a last time.

 


I can see you in the darkness.

Before we forget light again.

 


“Taro…” He whispered and the strength left his body… he breathed out and his head rolled back on the cushion. He remained laying on his right side on the futon, with his back to the door of their room.

Taro ran along the pavement back to their home. It was hard to run with a Yukata on but he tried…. When all of a sudden his shoe strap ripped apart and he fell hard onto the pavement. He screamed in shock and fell onto his hands which started to bleed immediately. Taro lost his paper bag during the fall… and the moment he knelt on the pavement and saw the apples rolling down the street, he knew that something terrible must have happened. Tears shot into his eyes, he collected himself with the torn Yukata and ran bare feet back to their house, leaving everything else behind.

“TADASHI!!!”

He started screaming the moment he set foot onto their large meadow. He ran as fast as he could, his lungs and feet were aching and his hands bleeding. He ran up the veranda.

“TADASHI?!!!” He smashed the wooden door open and ran along the corridor. Everything that followed, happened in slow motion. Ryutaro opening the door to their room….

And the moment he saw Tadashi lying with his back to him, he knew that he was gone.

Taro broke down onto his knees… his body started to shiver. He crawled into the room, not caring about his bloody hands or feet. He stretched out his hand, hesitantly, slowly and touched Tadashi’s shoulder.

No reaction.

He moved closer and settled behind Tadashi’s back. His lips started to tremble. And he knew.... he simply knew. Taro looked at Tadashi’s face. He looked as if he was asleep, no more pain now…. His cheeks were glistening though. He must have been crying before…. Taro broke hard into tears. He screamed out loud in pain, repeating Tadashi’s name over and over again. He slumped over Tadashi’s body, encircled Tadashi’s head with his arms. He cried into his blond hair, felt the cold body underneath…. It was too hard to take, too much to handle.

Taro moved back and vomited onto the tatami mat. He shivered very hard in shock. In daze, he stood up and opened the window. He walked back to the futon and covered Tadashi’s body with the comforter again, except of his face… One of Tadashi’s arms was stretched out to the corner of the room. Taro followed with his gaze and saw him pointing to their photo on the night stand. The photo they had taken in this village the day they came here for their onsen trip. Taro stood up to get the photo with its frame. He lay it onto Tadashi’s chest…. He looked at him and cared through his blond hair, again and again. He lowered his face and kissed him on his cheek, his eyes… finally his lips which were so unfamiliar cold. He cried against his mouth and his nose and eyes became all runny again.

“Why didn’t you wait for me?! How c-could you go… without m-me? That’s not fair… not fair! Everything in life worked against us! Even time!”

Taro moved up. “WHY GOD?! WHY?!” He took his most precious Angel back. Taro shook his head and rubbed his face with his long sleeve. He moved around Tadashi and lay down behind him with his head against his shoulder, his arms against his back…. One last moment together with his beloved. Taro clawed his fingers into Tadashi’s pajama… he was still shaking but exhausted and he fell asleep.
Two hours later, he woke up when dusk was seen through their window. Taro moved up and looked into Tadashi’s still sleeping face and he kissed him. Again and again. Touched him and cared over his face…. Still in a daze, he finally stood up and left their bedroom. He walked into the corridor and dialed the number of their local doctor. It was the hardest thing to ever say out loud in his life.

The following night was hell. Taro was able to not work or function at all. Their well known doctor came over and he arranged everything necessary. He even called Tadashi’s mom on Ryutaro’s behalf. Taro heard her crying out loud through the phone. The doctor tried to soothe her and she promised to come over the next day. They fetched Tadashi and as strange as it sounded, Taro couldn’t watch it. Catatonic, he sat in their living room and waited for everything to be over. The doctor ended the phone call and the doctor went over to Taro. He checked his pulse and temperature.

“You better stay at a relative’s house Ryutaro-san.”

Taro looked at the doctor with empty, glassy eyes. He couldn’t even cry no more. “There are no relatives.” The doctor breathed out and took Taro with him that night to his own house. This is how things were in little villages. The next day, Tadashi’s family arrived and they all came. Tadashi’s parents and his younger brother… sometimes when his brother gazed into the distance, there was so much of Tadashi in his face. Taro could barely take it.
Tadashi would have loved to see them reunited. They arranged everything necessary for the upcoming weeks. The funeral, law matters and so forth. Taro was very thankful for their help. He thanked them and they were really friendly to him, except for his father who was simply quiet but his mother was deeply shaken by her son's death as well. His brother was catatonic. The day of the funeral came… another endless movie playing in front of his eyes. A similar one from not too long ago. It was like in a bad dream. Tadashi’s family, old friends and colleagues from the village… It was a small but decent group. Some touched Taro encouraging on his shoulders and arms, offering their help. Taro just nodded and covered his eyes with his hair.

Tadashi’s brother cried and so did his mother. His father remained silent and Taro hated him for it…. Then the moment came when everybody had to say good bye to Tadashi. Taro waited until the end when everybody was outside the little shrine. He walked closer to the futon where Tadashi was laying on it. He sank onto his knees in his white Yukata, touching Tadashi’s hand.

“I can’t believe that I will never see you again. The house is empty without you… I am empty without you.” Tears dropped onto his legs and Tadashi’s hand, rolling down the little silver ring. Carefully, Taro slipped down the silver ring and he put it over his own ring.

“Promise me to be there the moment we will meet again.” Taro breathed out. “I will miss you so much.” He put a picture of them under Tadashi's hand and he stood up, without turning around. The house was all empty after the guests had left.

Taro was even more speechless when Tadashi’s mom offered him to live with them but Taro could have never left his little house or even sold it. He stayed behind…. She called every second day to ask how he was doing which was really nice. And Taro answered every time with the same monotone voice that he lived… somehow. The old woman from the kimono shop down the village offered Taro to start working at her place again… and he said yes. Call it boredom because he needed every distraction he could get. Because everything he saw, everything he did reminded him of his most beloved person. When he came home late in the evening, he always had the feeling that blond hair would peak over the bushes from where the veranda was.... He, waiting for him, but there was no one there. No one waiting, no cat, no warm tea and no warm light from the inside…

They found Taro's dead body several days later on the veranda, a shattered picture frame on the ground below his feet. Taro survived Tadashi for three months. The doctor said that he had died of a broken heart. His body lost every willpower to life. He was just 39 years old, like Tadashi.

 

 

If I would have known,

that this was our last day together,

I would have acted differently, would have laughed differently,

would have told you so many things I always wanted to tell you

but never dared to put into words.

Do you miss me now?

Do you ever think of me?

Because I do,

with everything that ever made me human.... you.

LBC

 

Chapter Text

Song to this chapter:

10 – The bruised soul

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJBkYPO67K4&index=10&list=PLOHxDlg-aQ3WxxvzKWIY5AdmFsPUoorRC

 

 

† Curse named human †

[(ke:s neimd `hju:men)]

 

Part 29

 

Rebirth

 

 

In his Angel of Death-Mode, Toshiya passed cities, villages, forests, countrysides and rivers. The cold night wind glided over his wings, the fresh air played with his hair and senses. The night sky was especially beautiful this night, the stars clear, burning lights which seemed to surround him. Toshiya loved flying at night, compared to his daily life, everything felt meaningless and small.

He concentrated on Sakito's energy, speculating that Kaoru's close employee was with him since they both vanished several weeks ago. This speculation guided him hundreds of kilometers south of the main island, far into the countryside. There, in the middle of nowhere, in an unknown little village, he landed on pavement in front of storehouses of a fishing company. The smell of dead fish was all around him and made him cringe since his senses were on high alert. His wings disappeared, the red eyes turned into a warm brown again and Toshiya became visible to the physical world. He looked around but no one could be seen. Putting his hands into his pockets, he walked straight on, passed the large metal doors of the storehouses and the little fishing boats at the sea side.

After all this time with Kaoru, Toshiya knew that he was deep into a lot of businesses which most likely lay in some kind of gray-zone to the legal world. Nevertheless, he was a person well respected and Toshiya could never complain about being treated unjust or even witnessed Kaoru treating anyone else unkind. He was strict but followed everything he did with honor and respect.

What this kind of business did to Kaoru on a spiritual level, to his karma, Toshiya couldn't tell. He knew of the laws of doing good, receiving good, doing bad, receiving bad... but where were the limits here? Was he closer to heaven or to hell or didn't it matter as long as a nice person came out at the end? Philosophical questions with no answers and his head was fuming when Toshiya tried to find himself in between all this.

A deep breath of cold air and his senses guided him out of the harbor onto a little street which seemed to pass through the nearby village. The little houses which were beautifully lid, brightened the dark countryside. No cars or voices could be heard, it was a silence Toshiya didn't know from Tokyo. It was beautiful.

The first house which he passed seemed to be the local bar where all kind of village men met after their working hours and exchanged the little news they got during the day. A group of young men stood outside with their motor bikes, laughter and loud conversations filled the silent night. They were about five people and the stench of alcohol carried through the air. Toshiya thought of making himself invisible but it was too late when one of them started shouting over to the other side of the street. Toshiya panicked internally but kept his pace and walked on.... which did no good. One tall but slender guy came over and tried to involve Toshiya in some kind of conversation which was hopeless since he had too much to drink. He started to become loud after Toshiya didn't answer and passed him on the street. The drunk guy lifted his arm to grab for Toshiya's shoulder, in shock Toshiya turned around.... only to see that someone hold onto the guys arm and pushed him back.

“Get lost Taka, you're drunk!”

“How d-dare you..!”

Another shove from the guy in front of Toshiya and the drunk went murmuring his way, back to the group. It was then that Toshiya realized what kind of energy his strange savior in front of him had. This guy seemed so rooted to the earth, although not physically trained, he seemed so strong and honest. His aura was full of colors.... something Toshiya hardly saw in Tokyo. The guy turned around. He was wildly pierced and his hair had a funny haircut and hair color. His clothing was picked like his personality seemed: Wild and different.

“I'm sorry for this fool. He can be quite nice when he's sober.” The guy stretched out his hand. “I'm Hitsugi, what's your name?”

Toshiya cleared his throat and took the hand. Within a second, pictures shot through his mind, seeing facets of the guy's self and deeds. Toshiya liked what he 'saw'. “I'm Toshiya.”

“So, nice to meet you Toshiya.” Hitsugi pulled his hand away and whirled it dramatically through the air. “What brings you to this god forsaken village?” Which was indeed a justified question. Toshiya looked over Hitsugi's shoulder to the drunken guys on the other side of the street who luckily didn't pay attention. “I'm looking for a friend.”

Hitsugi nodded. “A name? I'm sure I know everybody here.”

Toshiya hesitated but answered anyway. “It's Sakito. He must be new here. A handsome, young guy with nice hair....”

“Ahhh, I see. So this is what you're after-”

Toshiya blushed. “No! I mean, he is one of my best friends and he went missing and I'm looking for him...”

Hitsugi nodded and gestured with his head over to the other side. “I will give you a ride.”

Toshiya looked over to the motor cycle. He never sat on a thing like that. “That thing?”

“Yup. You have the honor of riding it with me. Let's get away from here to a place where we can talk.”

It was idiotic to trust a guy he just met but Hitsugi seemed trustworthy. And Toshiya hold onto him as if his life depended from him. Hitsugi laughed when they got off the bike in front of a small farm house. “You nearly strangled me to death.” He laughed out loud.

“I'm sorry, I'm just so afraid of driving in general.”

Hitsugi took the helmet from Toshiya and gestured to follow him inside the old house.

“That's my house. Don't be afraid. I'm living here with my old man, we're both fishermen.”

Toshiya could have guessed. Old nets and peculiar other things hung at the front porch. Hitsugi guided him through a dark wooden corridor, through a small kitchen into the living room. After a while, he came back with some green tea. He put it down in front of Toshiya. “You look like the kind of tea-guy.”

“Thank you.” Toshiya smiled.

“So,” Hitsugi settled down at the table as well, right in front of him. “Sakito is his name....” Hitsugi had all of Toshiya's attention now.

“Have you seen him?”

Hitsugi nodded while he chewed on one of his lip piercings. “I tried to get into contact with him but he is very shy. You know, coming into this village, people talk. Nothing stays undiscovered, especially a beauty like him.”

“Do you know if he came alone?”

Hitsugi paused and looked at Toshiya, he tried to read him but it didn't make sense. “You are quite an interesting person yourself and there is nothing wrong with you, I can tell. Your eyes are honest.”

“Thank you.” Toshiya looked at his hands sheepishly. “But-”

“You know Toshiya, I try to get to know things but I try not to get involved. Behind this little fishing companies are big men, living from our hard work. I used to care once but now I've made my peace. Me and my dad, we can survive with the little loan, it's okay. I don't care about the guys in the big cars.”

Toshiya knew what Hitsugi was referring to. He knew the people in their big cars and even worked for one of them. But trying to convince Hitsugi that not all of them were bad, seemed hopeless.

“About Sakito...” Toshiya started again.

“He was too shiny for the normal world, you know, dressed all fancy and the hair.... I knew immediately that he was a protege of one of the big guys.”

“And have you seen him coming here with someone else?”

“No, I just saw this Sakito guy in the village when he did some shopping. I tried to speak to him once while I was on break outside the supermarket but he excused himself and vanished as quickly as possible. He drives a nice car too.”

Definitely sounded like Sakito.

“I talked to the cashier lady but she knew nothing about the guy either. He just came by to do some shopping 3, 4 times a week. Seemed like he did the shopping for someone else tough.”

Toshiya nodded. “Can you show me the supermarket?”

“Sure, tomorrow.”

“Thank you very much.”

“And where are you sleeping tonight?”

As an Angel, there was no need to sleep every night and he could easily hide in his Angel state but out in the open like that, he had to play the human role again. “I don't know.”

Hitsugi breathed out loud. “Man, you're hopeless.” He stood up and got a futon out of the living room closet. “I'm kind of afraid to let you go tomorrow, you know. I fear for your life. Don't do anything stupid man.”

“I won't. Thank you.”

But Hitsugi gave him a look that he didn't sound very convincing.

Hitsugi dropped Toshiya off at the local supermarket before he went to work. They exchanged mobile phone numbers before they parted, just in case. Toshiya thanked Hitsugi for everything but he waited at the local coffee next to the supermarket, ready for some Sakito-stalking. He had to come today, Toshiya prayed for it. After ordering the third coffee and sitting there for two hours, he still didn't come. It was Monday and usually many people did their shopping after the weekends.

Toshiya payed his coffee and went over to the supermarket, he decided to talk to the lady there as well. He browsed the shelves, tried to get used and comfortable with the new surroundings, when at the fifth row a pair of familiar eyes looked at him through the shelf of sweets. Toshiya popped his head up and so did a pair of familiar eyes. “Sakito!”

“Toshiya!” Sakito stood glued to the spot while Toshiya didn't hesitate and walked around the shelf quickly to his long missed friend. Sakito stood there, clad in a beautiful black suit and tie, all business. He had shopping bags in his hands and his eyes stood wide open as if seeing a ghost. He whispered. “Toshiya, you're not supposed to be here.” The Angel came closer and lay his hands onto Sakito's shoulders. “I was so concerned about you and Kaoru. Is Kaoru here as well?”

Sakito looked aside but didn't say a word. When he turned his attention back to Toshiya, he said. “You have to return to Tokyo. I have no idea how you found out about this place but this is bad. This is not safe for you Toshiya.”

“Saki, what's going on?”

“This is private Toshiya and I'm concerned about you. You are my friend, so please stay out of trouble, go back home.”

Sakito couldn't possibly know that Kaoru was his business. “I understand. But tell me, are all of you safe and coming back to Tokyo eventually?”

“We will.” Sakito said firmly and Toshiya believed it. “But not now.”

“I see.” Maybe Toshiya was kind of hurt but he never saw Sakito so serious before. “Good luck Saki, see you soon.”

Saki gave a half-hearted smile and nodded. “See you in Tokyo Toshiya”

Sakito waited for Toshiya to leave the shop and so he did. Behind the next corner, Toshiya concentrated and opened his eyes which changed into red color. He vanished in the visible world and wings formed on his back. And as soon as he was back in his Angel of Death-Mode, the dead souls were speaking to him, countless old fisherman and an irritably high amount of dead samurai-souls from a not too far battle field. He couldn't help them now, a greater exorcism would be needed for this place.

Sakito left the supermarket and as soon as the car started moving, Toshiya jumped into the air and followed the car by flying. They passed through the little village and went deeper into the countryside. Sakito drove through little forests and passed rice fields on his way. He made his way up north into the mountains. 'Where are you going to?' Toshiya wondered and he sunk down in his flight because the trees stood closer and were bigger.

The car parked in front of a modern, western looking house. It was the only house around and the property protected by high iron bars and surrounded by a steep forest. The house itself was built out of wood and large glass windows, white walls in between and a flat-angled roof. Modern art statues stood around the property and a wind-chime could be heard.

Sakito got out of the car and Toshiya waited patiently next to it. He observed Sakito getting out the shopping bags and grabbing for a card in his pocket. He walked around the house to the back where an entrance was. With the card, he opened the door and Toshiya entered it still invisible after him. The place was breathtaking. The furniture, carpets, the art on the wall, even the piano in the middle of the open room.... everything was chosen with great taste and it screamed money. The whole house was beautifully lid with day light because of the perfect arrangement of the glass walls. Sakito balanced the shopping bags into the kitchen while Toshiya waited in the middle of the big living room, taking in the splendor..... and finally a well known energy. Kaoru. He was here. He felt it. He finally felt him again... and he smelt his cologne, everything.

Toshiya turned around and his undead heart missed a beat when he saw Kaoru standing on the thick white carpet in the living room, dressed in his perfect dark blue pine-stripe suit with a red tie. His black hair styled perfectly and the sun reflected on his expensive watch while his hands rested in his pockets, waiting for Sakito to return.

There was an urge to storm towards him and take him into his arms. His protege, Kaoru, safe. After all this time hiding, he found him. He finally found him... but he couldn't. Toshiya was forbidden to be here. Kaoru seemed deep in thoughts and he leaned against the piano. Toshiya couldn't help himself and he did the same. He leaned next to Kaoru, breathed in his essence and felt that he was completely at ease, although Toshiya didn't know why but he was happy for him. All the sorrow, all the doubts, gone. He was happy.

Sakito started talking in the kitchen although Toshiya had no idea to whom. Kaoru smiled and Toshiya found himself looking at the beautiful smile, a smile he so scarcely saw in Tokyo.... this must be Kaoru's private home because he was completely at ease. The black strands of Kaoru's hair shone beautifully in the light which filtered through the trees and the big glass wall behind them. It was a reflex, when Toshiya slowly lowered his head, onto Kaoru's shoulder. And he rested there, without feeling it or being felt by Kaoru. Toshiya breathed in the well known cologne a last time before a sound from the kitchen broke the moment.

“Otou-san!”

Kaoru walked away from the piano and he knelt down when a little boy came running out the kitchen, straight into Kaoru's arms. Toshiya couldn't believe his eyes, his ears. He stood there in utter shock and observed the surreal scene in front of him. Kaoru picked up the boy and hold him up in his arms. He combed through the boys hair and scolded him for the chocolate stains on his white shirt. The boy was beautiful, he had his fathers eyes, the black hair and too elegant clothing for his age. Toshiya guessed him to be around five.
He never knew that Kaoru had a child. Nothing ever suggested that he was a father.... and in that moment, he felt so stupid. All these long forgotten stares, the moments and words they had exchanged, the kisses.... he felt so stupid now..... so, human? He felt pathetic. It was ridiculous feeling like that, God knows he was his Guardian Angel but that tiny, stupid flame of hope which poisoned his objective mind, hurt.

Sakito entered the room and Kaoru put the boy down who reentered the room later with some toys. They exchanged words of business and Toshiya heard that they planned to return to Tokyo soon. He also made out that Kaoru was there because the boy used to be sick. It was then when a woman entered the living room.... and she was gorgeous. Tall, slender, hazelnut brown, long hair, elegant in every move she did.... but in comparison to Kaoru's greeting with the boy, their exchange was rather cold, more business-like.

Toshiya wanted to know everything. He walked closer to them and looked into the eyes of the woman. Carefully, he touched her shoulder and pictures shot through his mind.... former model from Tokyo... involved into host business.... pregnant from one night stand..... brought here out of safety.... he removed the hand quickly. She was a prisoner in this house. Although she had everything, the protected life here killed her from the inside. This was no good but Toshiya couldn't possibly help her. He looked at the boy who played with some cars on the ground while the grown-ups were talking.

Toshiya knelt down and observed the boy. Without touching him, he saw the boy's weak health and after he touched him on the head, he knew why.... hereditary disease from Kaoru's side.... often in hospitals.... creative soul.... loved by everyone. It broke Toshiya's heart.

“Kentaro, it's lunch time!” His mother called him and the little boy ran behind her into the kitchen.

Toshiya stood up and he knew that his business was finished here. He got what he needed. On his way to the door, he passed Sakito and Kaoru who were still talking. With a last glimpse at his protege, he left the house. It was a long walk through the little fishing village and the cold, humid air was a comforting feeling on his long dead, artificial skin. Toshiya breathed in like a human would do, let the shoulder long hair fall in utter melancholy over his eyes, his long, slender hands buried deep in his coat pockets.

Situations in life could change so quickly, from one moment to the other, just like that. Just from seeing things from a different angle. People call that 'growing up'. So Toshiya decided to have an eye on Kaoru's boy as well. The little one who brought such a smile on Kaoru's face.

So this was good bye then. His last day on earth. And back in heaven, Toshiya would carry on to take care of Kaoru and his development. It was better that way and safer for all of them.... which brought back the memory, that he in fact ran away from the order of returning early. He only hoped that heaven's authorities weren't too strict with young rebels and their families. It must have been a great shock to his family and friends. Karyu, Shinya.... Hakuei.

It was time to return. It was time to go home.

The walk around the little village took him longer than expected. It slowly became dark and the fishermen started to gather at the few local bars. On his way out of the village, Toshiya passed several of them but Hitsugi was nowhere to be seen. He came to the end of the village and followed the only road out, waiting for a safe spot to turn invisible to fly back to Tokyo.

In the distance, an all black car stood in the shadows, the black window lowered only a bit to let the cigarette smoke go out. A pair of deep, dark eyes followed Toshiya's figure until the darkness of the night swallowed him completely. So he really came. He suppressed an inner urge to run behind him, ask him a thousand questions. Ever since Sakito told him that he had followed them, there was no rest, no thought which wouldn't include him. Why did he come here? Was he a spy? Or maybe for....? Impossible, not even worth imagining. Different world's and reputation stood between them, on top of constant danger of possibly loosing beloved ones. And partly, it was his fault. For raising any hopes.... was it stupid, human?

Again, a deep inhale of smoke because nicotine always calmed him down. It was better this way. Always had been and always would be. His hand moved back from the door opener and with one wave, Kaoru gestured his driver to continue his travel back to Tokyo. Again, all alone. His family was left back save, Sakito was right behind them.

Naturally, Toshiya arrived in Tokyo first. It was early in the morning, the sun rise only one hour away. He landed on the high sky scraper where he used to life and work until this day. In his hand he hold a letter which he would leave in his apartment. It was better that way, no last words no say goodbye. They would both keep themselves in memory and Toshiya swore to himself to do the best job in protecting Kaoru and keep an eye on his son from afar.

He also left another letter for Sakito and thanked him for all his help and told him to get rid of his old stuff or keep the things he could use. It wasn't much really, mainly clothes. Kaoru's letter was filled with warm words and a good excuse for his departure which was to go to Australia backpacking. No one would look for him there.

He looked around his small but neat apartment a last time, the place which was his home for over half a year. And his eyes stuck on the custom made leather jacket on his sofa, Kaoru's gift. Toshiya stepped forward and wanted to reach for it.... but he stopped in his tracks. Simply because he didn't allow himself this sentimentality.... over the past months, he grew into this role of 'being' human again, met some nice people on the way and gained a lot of confidence during his stay. But all things end eventually. This was another chapter in his Akasha chronicle. The story of his own protege an him would continue from a save distance in heaven. Toshiya turned around and jolted when he saw a shadow standing in the door frame.

“Who?”

A slender, almost tender figure came into the light and Toshiya couldn't believe his eyes.

“Mum.”

Shinya smiled and opened his arms. Toshiya stormed over and crushed into him. They hold each other tight and Shinya smiled happily, cared through Toshiya's hair, reassuring that it was finally him.

“You are really here.” Toshiya whispered.

“Karyu said that you would return here and he was right.” They smiled.

“I missed you and the others so much.”

“We missed you too. There was not a minute I haven't thought of you.” Shinya solved the embrace and slowly stepped back. Wondering, Toshiya followed his movements when Shinya went out the door and left the apartment.

Another shadow showed up. Toshiya smiled and walked over to it. Karyu came as well.

He stopped.... It wasn't Karyu.

And he covered his mouth with both hands. Tears started to form in his eyes and Toshiya sobbed into his hands while he was frozen to the spot.

Broad shoulders stepped into the light, both arms covered with colorful Tattoos, his black-blond hair hung partly into his eyes and over his shoulders, his gaze as usual deep and unreadable, he bit his full lip. And then, he smiled.

“Hakuei,” Toshiya whispered to himself and then he walked towards him. First hesitant but then he ran the last steps. And he was caught like he was used to, embraced and lifted up like he was used to... it felt like a long forgotten dream. Like waking up from a long sleep. The smell, his strong arms, the many unspoken words, everything was so Hakuei, felt like home. It was unbelievable.

Hakuei gazed down onto Toshiya's face, cared over his head and arms, kissed him onto his hair once, twice.... and all he said was: “Thank you God.” His hands glided down Toshiya's arms and he took his cold hands, Hakuei's were warm as always. It felt... intimate, somehow. Toshiya wondered and looked aside when a knock broke the moment. At the door was Shinya together with Karyu, who said:

“Let's go home Toshiya, you fulfilled your task.”

 



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~




Arriving in heaven, they were separated immediately at the borders. Shinya hold onto Hakuei's arm who didn't want to let go of Toshiya but Cherubim guided Karyu and Toshiya straight to Metatron-sama's hall. They were followed by Kazu, Leader of the Angel of Revenge. The Cherubim left the hall again after delivering them, one of them was Hizumi who gave Karyu a knowingly nod.

They were so close to have each other again.... Hakuei could barely stand the thought. Not now, not after such a long time. He ran after the Angel's in command and so did Shinya, afraid of Hakuei's safety. The Guardian Angel was never one to cause problems but as Shinya saw him change over the past half a year, he wouldn't guarantee for anything.

Of course they were stopped immediately by a wall of Cherubim who guarded Metatron's hall. Hizumi looked at Shinya and Hakuei with a stern look, making them understand not to cause a scene. Things in heaven were on edge these days, and mood swings were the last thing they would deal with easily.

Shinya heard his name and finally found Die in the midst of Angels. He was so happy to see his beloved but he had to stay professional because Die was on duty. They exchanged a few words about Toshiya's return but Die gestured Shinya to better look after Hakuei who looked rather disturbed.

Shinya touched Hakuei's arm and cared lovingly over it. “Everything will be fine. Everybody likes Toshiya, he's a wing healer. Heaven needs him.”

“I know, it's just..., you know. Everything with us is so complicated. Toshiya can't just return to heaven normally. You recall his first arrival after his last life on earth? He was a mess... I nearly lost him, I nearly lost myself.”

Shinya recalled that day clearly. Die had to help them, pulled them out of a mental nightmare which Toshiya had built around them. And the days afterwards were horrible too. No one thought that anyone of them would make it, nor Toshiya or Hakuei. But things have changed drastically since then, thank heavens.

“You both changed so much since then. Toshiya became so much stronger, also because of you. And you grew with him.”

A sad smile. “I know you're right.” Hakuei smiled uneasy.

Metatron stood up from his seat and looked from Karyu to Toshiya who stood in front of them. Kazu was right behind them as Karyu's responsible.

Metatron spoke up. “It was a heavenly order to return the protege from Tokyo two days ago because of unusual activity in that area. We shut the area down because of unknown, possible danger which was caused by hell residents! And we are talking about the tough ones, the ones who were trained to kidnap, torture and kill young Angels like you!!” Metatron pointed with one finger at Toshiya. Karyu had every urge to step in between but he literally felt Kazu holding him back to do so. This was something Toshiya had to take responsibility for.

“Heaven didn't survive that long with souls defying our orders, heaven didn't become that strong on Angels simply doing what they want!!” Karyu so had to bite his tongue. “And heaven doesn't make exceptions, for no one!!” Karyu couldn't take it no longer, he darted forward and stood in front of Toshiya who looked unmoved and strong back at Kamijo. “How dare you interrupt my words!!” He was absolutely furious. “But who am I talking to with such a father?!” Now Kazu jumped forward and hold onto Karyu to calm him down, telling him mentally not to make things worse. Karyu breathed in and out before he stepped back to Toshiya's side.

A moment of silence before Kamijo continued. “Toshimasa will be stripped of all responsibilities-”

Kazu had to hold Karyu back again although Toshiya took it better than him. “You are not fit to take care of an own protege yet. You will return to schooling and mental training here in heaven. But you are free to help with your gifts of wing healing and in future as Angel of Death. Now leave, all of you.”

Karyu looked with his eyes narrowed while he took Toshiya on his elbow to guide him out. They left, together with Kazu who closed the door behind them.

Outside, Toshiya feet gave in and he sunk to his knees but Karyu hold onto him. Shinya stormed towards them when another hand reached for Toshiya.

“I got this.” Hakuei said with his husky voice and lifted Toshiya up into his arms. He carried him out of the holy halls. Instinctively, Toshiya buried his head on his shoulder while his arms were slung around Hakuei's neck.

Karyu hold Shinya back to follow them, Die and Hizumi joined the group, only to watch Hakuei leave together with Toshiya in silence.

On their way back to their home, it was Toshiya who stammered 'I have failed', a hundred times, over and over again like a mantra but it was Hakuei who retarded it every time.

“You acted out of your own heart. How could this be wrong? I'm always proud of you. Always. Never forget that” That was all he said and it silenced Toshiya. It still took some time for him to realize, that every action came with a reaction and everyone was responsible for the impact they created. Hakuei knew that Toshiya would understand eventually.... but it didn't mean that it didn't hurt.

Hakuei wasn't shocked about Metatron's decision. In fact, it could have been worse which only showed him how much heaven valued Toshiya. Loosing Kaoru as protege hit Toshiya hard and wounded him deep, especially his newly gained self-confidence. But who thought that Hakuei was happy about it... was wrong because he felt Toshiya's pain like his own, especially because he was his Guardian Angel. It wasn't the other way round though. A Guardian Angel was always able to shield anything from a protege.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



And Toshiya was hurting, so so much. Just looking at him.... and everybody hurt too. It was the empty gaze when Toshiya looked out of the window, his mouth covered with one hand, the other arm leaning over one pulled up knee. His gaze empty, no sound, no words. He said nothing.... for days. Silence. It filled up their little apartment.... nothing. And although it was silent, Hakuei heard him cry. Not physically. It was his body that screamed, the chest which burned deep, the empty eyes full of tears. ….not a single word. Silence. It went on for days.

Hakuei was deeply affected by Toshiya's hurt but he didn't show it, he simply couldn't. He thought about all the wise words and phrases to say but decided that it was best to stay silent. There was nothing that could be said, nothing that could comfort loss..... only time could. And he decided just to be there. Shinya showed up eventually but when he clutched Toshiya's hand, a weak smile was all he got.

Hakuei had painted all these colorful pictures in his head before Toshiya returned... how their return would look like, how Toshiya might had changed, his own behavior towards his beloved.... his.... it all came so differently. Their nights were sleepless. And although they shared the same large bed like in old times, there was a huge gap in between their bodies. Toshiya needed the distance although it was so hard for Hakuei to do so. They used to cuddle back then and yet in this situation it felt like a dream. How long had Hakuei dreamt of holding him in his arms, telling him that everything would be fine, as long as they were together. He would always look after him, cared for nothing else in all these worlds... but it was so hard and Toshiya didn't know how he felt. God knew Hakuei hasn't really figured it out himself and if so, he could never tell. He was his Guardian, an example, a strong Angel creatures looked up to..... but when it came to these kind of matters... he felt weak. So he stayed strong, for both of them.


Hakuei woke up the next morning and the bed was empty. The weather outside was beautiful and Toshiya gone. Hakuei guessed right that Toshiya went for a walk. Finally. After days of shutting himself in.

The grass under his bare feet, the wind on his skin, on his feather wings, it felt amazing. This morning, he needed that. Some proof that he was still alive in this sphere. Toshiya came to a halt in front of the large holy lake and almost instantly, an old well-known face looked up from the middle of the sea. It was Daisuke, the water creature. Toshiya leaned down and touched the surface with his hands. His eyes became white and Daisuke's voice filled his head immediately, greeting him with full joy. And a moment later, Daisuke appeared in front of Toshiya in the water.

They spoke in thoughts since Daisuke gave him part of his talent to communicate through the power of water.

'It's so good to have you finally back Toshiya, I tried to reach you through water on earth but couldn't really get to you.'

'Life there was... complicated.'

'I can imagine. But I'm glad that you're finally back. I need to talk to you, I need your help.'

'Yes.'

'I've heard how dangerous it became on earth with the prophecy and everything... it tastes like betrayal everywhere. This is why I gave you part of my power. I am mentally strong but I need an ally in physical form. I can't leave here.'

'How can I help?'

'I know that there are spies everywhere and hell becomes more bold in its actions.'

'But this is what the Angels of Revenge are here for, I am not a strong Angel I-'

Daisuke gave him a look which shut him up. 'You don't want me to remind you of your gifts and all your deeds. You're already infamous for your talents and your family. Heaven and its residents know you.'

Toshiya looked back at Daisuke astonished. 'I didn't know I was.... famous?'

'This is why I need you. You may not be physically strong like a Revenge but you are the strongest soul I know. You grew because of your pain, you gained the sight of compassion and intelligence through your suffering. You can make borders vanish through your believe and strength as an Angel of Death. Any more reasons? Good. Now listen: I will need your help when heaven is threatened by intruders.'

“What intruders? How can I help in such a case?'

Daisuke told Toshiya about the rumors and what his goal was. 'You are my eyes, hands and feet. You can walk the spheres for me, I have to stay in this lake as a water creature. What no one knows is that I am guarding the young souls and Angels here in heaven. Our holy lake is the portal to the higher spheared halls as you know.' Toshiya nodded.

'And we are in contact through water. Archangel Kami can only feel changes through water but not use it as a communication tool, like I do.... and you.'

Now Toshiya felt even more honored than before.

'We have to keep heaven's residents safe when the Archangels fail.'

Toshiya nodded and so did Daisuke. 'Heaven belongs to all children. And we must guard them.'

On his way through the local forest in heaven, the thinking machinery set in again. Daisuke was a welcome diversion, for a few minutes it gave Toshiya something else to think of. The 'what would could should if when'..... was mostly about Kaoru. The old feeling of loss, failure, fault...