The whispers followed him wherever he went. He doesn’t have a partner because he can’t resonate! No, that’s not what I heard. He doesn’t have a partner because he’s horrible. He got good at ignoring them pretty quickly. As tricky as he was to wield, he started training less as a weapon and more as a meister. There were rare weapons that could wield themselves, but he wasn’t one of them, so he needed to learn to fight in his human form.
Through the years, the whispers died down as people graduated or moved, and now it was only a vague rumor that he was even a weapon at all. The whispers behind him reported that he was just an incredibly picky meister. He couldn’t see how that was much better, a meister who couldn’t resonate instead of a weapon that couldn’t resonate.
Even without a meister, he was still one of the top students in his class. Good enough that he was selected from the top percentage of students to attend the Death Academy of Japan, the most competitive weapon or meister school in the world. And prickly enough that he was one of the lucky souls to get a single in the dorms.
“You got a partner yet?”
Shota looked up from his phone. He hadn’t even bothered trying to find a partner in the mess of students who were instinctively sorting together with those who resonated on a similar frequency.
The student that had approached him was roughly his same height, but it was disguised by a shock of blond hair that stuck straight up off his head. He was wearing bright red sunglasses with huge lenses that completely eclipsed his eyes and bright yellow headphones around his neck. He was also wearing a bright green and yellow striped sweater over his uniform. In short, he was one of the most colorful people in the room.
So it was a little strange to him that he had sought out one of the most drab. He wasn’t even wearing a uniform tie, bundled in a thick gray hoodie.
“No.” He said after a long moment, when the other teen just waited patiently instead of leaving.
“Cool! Me neither! You a weapon or a meister?” He asked. “I’m kind of hard to resonate with for very long, so I trained to do both!” His smile was wide, but Shota suddenly devoted more attention to him. He was like Shota, trained as a meister as well as weapon. Perhaps due to similar issues. He could see how his smile strained at the corners, just slightly. A little pinched, ready to be let down again. Just like how Shota felt every time he couldn’t resonate with someone.
He closed his eyes and opened his mind to the world around him. He could feel his soul immediately, due primarily to his proximity. He had a buoyant soul that seemed to shake in place. One could mistake it for anxiousness, but this close, it was obvious it wasn’t. It was vibrating intensely at different frequencies, changing at random, undetermined intervals.
Shota opened his eyes curiously, tilting his head to one side.
The other teen tilted his head to the side too, almost mirroring him.
“Me too.” Shota said softly, clenching his fists in his overlong sleeves.
“No way! That’s awesome!” Shota was suddenly tackled in something that was less of a hug and more of a jumping, excited full body grapple. “Oh man, come on, let’s go, we gotta try this out!” He released all of him except one arm and practically dragged him to the obstacle course to line up with the other students.
Several people were giving them looks, drawn from the outburst, but neither of them really noticed, focusing more on the thrumming of their souls against each other, measuring and taking stock.
Shota looked across the course and examined it critically. “I don’t have very traditional forms. I’ve trained with many different weapon types, so whatever you are, I’ll probably be fine.” He said softly.
“Sure! It’s been a while since I went weapon with a partner, but I’m pretty traditional!” He stretched out his neck and arms before his form shimmered and warped, lengthening into a scythe.
Shota reached out and caught hold of his shaft before he could begin to fall. He was ready for them to be incompatible, so prepared for it that he was actually surprised when he was able to lift him with no problem.
“Huh.” He mumbled to himself, swinging him in a figure eight to test his weight and balance. There was a soft whistle when he did and he shifted to look at the blade. It was huge, easily longer than one of his arms, acid green against chromed steel. Along the back edge of the blade were a series of ridges and holes that made the whistling noise when he swung. There was also what looked like a speaker at the top end of the shaft.
“Pretty cool huh?” his voice was excited in Shota’s head. “I can adjust the holes to change the pitch or make different tones and noises!”
Shota grinned. “Cool.”
Their souls rubbed together tentatively, but comfortably.
“Dude, your wavelength is so long!” He sounded excited.
Shota couldn’t help but snicker as he flipped the scythe in easy loops around him.
“Oh shut up!” But he was laughing.
It was interesting. Normally the length of Shota’s wavelength was what his partners had trouble adjusting to, but his current partner’s was so erratic that having a long, regular interval seemed to settle it. They weren’t synchronized on a one-to-one level, but more like notes in a measure of a song, Shota’s one holding for three or four or five cycles of his. Within the space of heartbeats they were synchronized, always meeting at the same point in their cycles.
“Do you want--” “--to resonate?” They spoke almost together.
The blast of a whistle started the exercise.
“Let’s do it.” Their souls cycled together, both of them pushing energy into it, Shota using it and his partner amplifying it. The air around them hummed as they stood motionless, watching their classmates run ahead.
Shota could feel his hair sweeping up off his shoulders and face in an invisible wind and it felt almost electric as the energy of their resonance swept through him.
So this was what resonating felt like.
It was amazing.
Then he ran forward, faster than he’d ever run before. He flipped the scythe around and planted the broad end in the ground, vaulting over the first obstacle with laughable ease. He had outstripped the rest of his classmates within a minute-- within seconds. He could feel the frequency of their cycles increasing with their shared excitement, which just magnified the energy they were outputting.
Ahead of them now he could see the final obstacle and almost hesitated.
“I think my weapon form would be better for this.” He went ahead and said it, despite his misgivings. Maybe this time would be different.
“Let’s do it then!” His voice changed from being inside Shota’s head to being yelled out as he shifted. Shota instinctively shifted as well, already reaching out to amplify their souls as his partner began feeding energy into their cycle. “Oh shit, that’s cool as hell!” He shouted as he took full stock of the coiled whip in his hand. “Nice! Wish me luck!” He dropped the coils from his fingers to let him unfurl in the wind.
“Don’t fall.” Shota said, deadpan, as they approached the edge.
He flung himself off the edge, thrilled instead of fearless, snapping the whip with a motion that suggested he had tried a whip before, but never quite got the hang of it.
Shota helped him along, curling around one of the climbing bars over the pit and holding fast as his partner swung from him, releasing just shy of the peak of the ark.
He rolled into the impact and continued the fifty or so feet to the end of the course. They stopped resonating and his partner threw him up into the air with an easy flick and Shota let himself uncurl from his weapon form. He flipped once in the air and landed easily on his feet. He didn’t think he could wipe the smile from his face if he tried, but his partner was grinning exuberantly.
“That was sick!” He shouted to the sky, laughing joyously.
Shota couldn’t help his own small laugh; his exuberance was infectious. “I’m Shota.” He said, covering a giggle.
“Oh man, I’m sorry! I’m Hizashi!” He didn’t bother hiding the small giggles as he came down from his laughter. “That was awesome though!”
“Yeah it was.” Shota agreed. “Partners?” He asked after a moment, shoving past the nerves suddenly bubbling up in his chest.
“I thought that was obvious! Now come on, let’s get some good seats for the lecture portion before they’re all gone!” He grabbed Shota’s hand and dragged him along behind him.
Shota couldn’t help but smile.