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Sanctuary

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Sanctuary 

Friends. Family. Dreams.

All of these things are worthless.

Friends only turn their backs on you.

Family just hurt you. They abandon you.

Dreams require passion.

Passion is a funny thing; it can be full of good intentions or it can be something that just wants to break everything else apart.

Still, you need even a little bit of passion to care about something.

I just don't have any passion.

Not for anything.


 

Chapter One - Reality

The crisp cool air accompanied a lone boy as he made his way through the city. His large purple headphones hung loosely off his neck, ready to block out, when needed, all the unnecessary noise of cars, dogs and, most importantly, people.

He hated people. Not just a certain type of person but people collectively. He hated how they walked in groups, shouting all the time, thinking their opinion mattered the most. Laughing and talking about the most mundane things.

The boy passed by the ticket gates, climbing up the stairs to the platform, while wishing away all the other people around, all rushing and bumping into him, mindlessly chattering.

He especially hated people like the other boy standing at the platform he had chosen to wait on. It had looked like a decent spot from afar, being the only place that wasn't overcrowded, but the boy's volume could make up for three crowds. Why couldn't the train station just have been empty?

"Man! Your firs' time takin' a train to school. Can you believe it?" The other boy was overly loud. The person he was talking to was standing right next to him.

"There's a first time for everything, as they say," said a young blond girl. "Beat, did you remember to bring your lunch today?"

"Bwaaah! No! Rhyme, you should've told me before we left."

He thought of them to be a weird pair. It was obvious they were siblings, they talked very familiarly, their hair colour was identical, they shared certain facial features and they were wearing matching skull-themed black beanie hats, which looked bizarre with their school uniform - a smart, white, short-sleeved collared shirt with black trousers, or a black skirt in the girl's case.

Just as he had been studying them, the tall one noticed him too. "Yo! Look Rhyme, he's got the same threads as us."

Rhyme poked her head around her brother to see who Beat was talking about. "Oh! You must be in the same school as us." She gave him a friendly smile.

Yes, unfortunately, he was indeed wearing the same uniform as the two and it turned out that he was just about to join a school that had these two as students. A wannabe punk and a smiley little girl. Oh joy.

The tracks began to rattle as a train approached the station. An automated woman's voice started speaking through the station speakers. "The Hibiya-line train to Ebisu Station has arrived.  Please board the train carefully-"

He slipped pass the two and headed to the back of the carriage, holding onto a handle hanging above him.

Luck wasn't with him today. The pair chose to pick seats right next to where he stood. The train doors shut swiftly and it was off, leaving behind the iconic shopping district and heading towards Ebisu, where the buildings were just as tall, and where, Neku was convinced, the people would be just as bothersome.

"Yo, the name's Beat an' this is Rhyme, my sister. Ain't seen you 'round before. You new?" Great. He had not even arrived there yet and this guy was talking to him.

The train was noisy. He could get away with pretending not to have heard him.

"YO! WHERE 'CHU COME FROM?" The whole carriage must have heard the boy, some people even looking up from their newspapers to see who was talking.

"Hokkaido." He prayed that would have ended their conversation.

"That's cool." Beat was now grinning up at him. "Geddit? Cool. 'Cause Hokkaido's cold an' all. Anyways, welcome to Shibuya. It's a great place, yo. Nothin' beats the ramen here. Ya gotta check out this one place-"

"I hate Shibuya," the boy said bluntly. If that didn't make it obvious that he didn't want to talk, he didn't know what would.

"Really, man? Already? You jus' got here, right?" The girl tugged on her brother's sleeve and shook her head. "What's up, Rhyme?"

"I don't think he wants to talk to us, Beat." She stared at him with a slight frown, as if she was trying to figure him out. It was really starting to irritate him.

"What's your name, yo?" he asked, ignoring her.

He really just couldn't be bothered. He lifted his headphones and placed them over his ears, causing them to flatten his spiky shock of orange hair. He turned the volume all the way up and closed his eyes.

He blocked out Beat and Rhyme. He blocked out everyone else on the carriage. He blocked out everything.

His moment of peace was disturbed only when the train jolted to a halt.

He let go of the handle bar, and pushed his way out of the train. He caught no sight of the pair once he was out of the station, and deemed it safe enough to take off his headphones.

The rest of his walk to school went by smoothly and he managed to reach the part of the street that was dense with students from his school, having already looked up the way to get to his school from the station beforehand.

Then a shout came from behind. "YOOO! Wait up! I asked ya a question so you better answer!"

This guy was really persistent. He ran up to Neku, cracking his fists. Rhyme had been left behind, and was now panting while attempting to catch up to her brother.

They were drawing attention to them from the other students; some turned their heads at them as they passed. He really didn't want to deal with attention.

Purposefully stopping, he spun around and glared up at Beat with his steel-blue eyes. "If it'll shut you up, my name is Neku Sakuraba." Wasting no more time, he continued towards the school entrance without another word.

He heard the guy say, "What's his problem, yo?"

"Some find solace in solitude," his sister replied, her voice sounding solemn.

"Huh. Well that solitude's gotta be a pretty boring place. He ain't gonna make friends like that…"

It didn't matter - he didn't need friends.

xxxxx

Neku dropped his school briefcase onto his bed. The school day was nothing out of the ordinary – exactly how Neku liked it. He had brushed off all the pests that had tried to talk to him, all wondering why he had transferred right in the middle of high school and after continuously ignoring them, they stopped their buzzing and left him alone. He hadn't got much homework that day; the teachers deemed that since it was the first day, they'd be let off the hook.

The wannabe punk hadn't bothered him for the rest of the school day. He was in a different class to Neku, he was relieved to find.

There was a sudden ring throughout the apartment, a shrill sound that was coming from the house phone. He was caught off-guard by it, having just had it installed two weeks ago, the total amount of calls he had received so far amounting to zero. He would think that since there was no one that would really call him, there would be no point in even having a phone, but as he was told the same two weeks ago, if there was an emergency, a house phone might come in handy.

The phone stopped ringing, while Neku had been thinking. He walked over the small black table that the phone had been set on and read the numbers on the screen that were next to the words '01 Missed Call'. He wondered who could have called; he didn't recognise the number. Maybe it was just some salesperson.

Ring, ring, ring. Huh. Guess he didn't need to wonder any more. He picked up the receiver and held to his ear. "Who's this?"

"That's no way to greet your new favourite uncle. I at least deserve a 'hello'." Great, another nuisance. His uncle must have known that Neku wanted nothing to do with him (surely his relatives had told him about Neku) and yet he acted as if they were on close terms.

"Hello."

His uncle laughed, though Neku didn't get what was so funny. "Heh, you sound just like your dad. You're just like him." Dad? All I said was 'hello'. How would you know I'm like him just by that? "You must find it weird that I'm technically taking care of you now, even though we haven't even seen each other yet, but from what I hear you sound just like your dad. I've gotta say, you're a brave kid for wanting to stay on your own."

That's right; Neku had to be polite to him. This man was his new guardian. After his family relatives on his mother's side declared him as a burden, they turned to this man who offered to take Neku off their hands. His relatives had delivered him to the entrance of the apartment block, located conveniently by Shibuya Station. When he opened the door, he found the flat fully-furnished and a note explaining Neku's living circumstances and that he wouldn't be able to meet Neku for a few weeks.

"Thanks, I guess." It was strange, though. Neku had never verbally expressed his want to live by himself.

"…You really don't talk much, do ya?"

"…"

"I'll take that as a no. Anyway, hope you like the flat. If you need anything you've got my number from the note I left you. I've got to go now. Duty calls." He uncle chuckled. "Got a big deal to make, but I'm sure I've got it in the bag. I'll see ya around." His uncle hung up and Neku placed the receiver back down.

Having nothing else to do, he switched on the TV and went to the music channel. It always interested him to see what people decided to choose for the top ten songs of the week. While he didn't like people themselves, he had to admit that they could come up with things that even he didn't mind – music being one of them.

While the fifth song on the charts started, his mind shifted back to the conversation (if such a one-sided talk could be called that) with his uncle. It didn't exactly bother him that much but he realised that he had no clue about who exactly his uncle was. Neku knew he was distantly related to his new guardian through his father.

But that was about it.

He didn't know his uncle's name. It was weird that his uncle wouldn't bother telling him his name. Even though his relatives had insisted on him keeping the phone, if there was a real emergency, wouldn't he need to have a reference by name? He supposed his uncle had just assumed that Neku would just give them the number that he left by the telephone table and it would be fine. He'd also probably get in trouble since Neku was pretty sure that leaving a sixteen year old kid to live alone in a flat wasn't exactly responsible, even if it was what he thought Neku wanted.

Well whatever. The likelihood of an emergency happening was next to nothing.

His life was uneventful, and it wasn't as if that was going to change any time soon.

He started flicking through the channels, as chart-topper song number two began killing his ears. Eventually he stopped at the news channel. The scrolling titles at the bottom read, 'Eiji Ouji's blog hits seven million visitors. Local gangs getting rowdy in Shibuya. Girl saves cat from a painful death and -' The small titles could not compare to the event that was flashing on the screen. A car crash, a big one, happened today near Miyashita Park. A lorry had crashed into the car after the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, and let the vehicle swerve onto the wrong lane. The car had three passengers, two were fatally injured and one had been proclaimed dead just half an hour ago. Ironically, the driver had escaped unharmed.

Neku switched back to the music channel. He couldn't watch scenes of death. It just reminded him of the stupidity people could cause. Why the hell had that man been driving if he was too tired? Neku didn't want people to bother him, but he didn't want to bother them either, so he kept himself well away from any trouble.

Trouble wasn't something he wanted to deal with anymore.

xxxxx

"The cooking club wants you."

"Join the basketball team!"

"Do you hear that? That's the sound of a bunch of losers. Tryout for the soccer team, our team managers are way cuter than theirs."

"Hey! Kid, you look like the type of person who likes to talk. How 'bout joining the debating club?"

What a joke. Even though his classmates had backed off, the news hadn't completely spread around yet that Neku preferred to be left to his own devices, and so club recruiters had specifically been searching him out as 'the new second-year transfer kid'. Of course he just said 'no' and walked away. It was typical that he had transferred to a school that just had to be one of those schools that have a 'club festival' to invite new students to join.

All the clubs had prepared a stall with a large sign or some club members performing skits to try to get more people to join them. It was a waste of time to have to stay at school for another hour just to have the rest students loiter around without really doing much. He didn't see the point of it all; if someone wanted to join a club, they could just sign up on the sheets on the notice-board.

"Yo! Neko!" Neko? There was only one person he'd seen so far that could make such a mistake in someone's name. Sure enough, it was that Beat kid. He was still adorning his ridiculous skull beanie. It was another reason why Neku questioned the school his uncle had chosen for him. A school that allowed skull hats could not be a particularly fantastic one. Come to think of it, they didn't ask him to take off his head-phones either, though he supposed it could count as an up-side.

"Thinkin' of joinin' any clubs?"

Seriously? Did he just forget what happened yesterday when he first tried to talk to me? "Go away." The kid obviously needed him to spell it out for him.

Yet he just looked at Neku, grinning and continued speaking. "I didn't join any clubs las' year but I think I'm gonna join a sports one this year. Dunno if I'd like basketball or soccer more. Both sound cool, you know? I'm tall so basketball should be easy but something's wrong with basketballs and they never wanna go into the net." It's probably just that your aim's bad." And my kicks are so bad-ass that they just go straight past the net, yo."Again, your aim just sucks. "It's tough, ain't it Neko?"

"I think you have a hearing defect," said Neku.

Beat looked at him blankly. "A hearing whatsit?"

Which proves my point. "It means you've got to clean out your ears because you must be deaf."

"Damn straight!"

This kid was so dense that Neku felt like punching him. He didn't even know when Neku was trying to insult him.

"Listen. I'm only going to say this once. Firstly, my name is Neku Sakuraba, so stop calling me 'Neko'. You shouldn't even be trying to call me by my first name. Secondly, get it through your thick head – I. Don't. Want. To. Talk. To You," he spat, annunciating each word sharply.

It was then that Beat frowned. Finally. Neku had finally got the message across to the idiot-

"I get it," he said with a serious face. "You don't like your name either. My folks gave me a stupid name too. That's why I'm 'Beat' now. 'Cause my last name's Bito. How 'bout I call you…Phones. Like the 'phones you've got 'round ya neck." Then a cheerful smile broke onto his face again. "An' no point tryin' to fool me. I figured that the whole solitude thing was crap. You're jus' shy, ain't ya?" Someone kill me now. "No worries, man. I've got your back. From now on we're bros." Beat hooked an arm around his shoulders. I'm serious. Just get a gun and shoot me. "We're gonna rule the club. Hey, what club were we joinin', again?"

"We aren't joining any club." Neku finally snapped. "I'm not joining any club with you. I don't care about any of the clubs. They could all just close down for all I care. They're all just stupid excuses for people to have another thing to talk about. All that talk about 'having fun together' is just crap. There's nothing fun about running around in shorts and kicking a ball around or painting stupid pictures or having a club where people just talk about useless things that don't even matter."

Neku breathed heavily, having shouted so loudly. It was as if the only thing he could hear now was his own breathing.

…Actually, it was the only thing he could hear.

Abruptly, Neku realised that all the other students had stopped talking while he had his outburst at Beat. The soccer club was sending glares at him. The arts and crafts club looked hurt. The debating club stood speechless. And everyone else gaped in a hushed awe at him.

It was the second day and he'd already brought attention upon himself. People holding attention sparked noise from others. If there was one thing he hated more than noise, was when the noise was concerning something about him.

Someone from the crowd, a third-year student from the soccer club, broke the silence and pointed a finger at him. "Hey, transfer student. Don't get all cocky just because you think you're special. Don't look down on us. Everyone works hard for their club. It's a place in school where you can make friendships and work towards your dream."

Even though it was silent, Neku felt the disapproval of everyone that was present. It was as if they were waiting for him to apologise.

Pathetic. Neku let out a slow breath of air, and then said loudly enough for everyone to hear. "Have fun making those 'friendships' . They're just as imaginary as those dreams of yours."

As if he had, with those words, smashed a sound-proof glass wall, the noise swept over him in volumes of boos and shouts.

It was at a moment like this, with some students openly yelling at his disrespect, that he didn't mind the noise. All he had to do was put on his headphones. After all, he kind of took pity on them. Their reality consisted of facing that perhaps their dreams were just 'dreams'. In his reality, he didn't have to face anything because he didn't have dreams.

Dreams could tear people's lives apart. Reality was what kept his together.


 

Chapter Two – Unknown

Bravo Neku, you've just set yourself up as a complete jerk.

"W-who - no - what are you?"

You're wrong, you know, your life is going to change.

"You see, I am in the process of doing...a favour for a certain person."

Because of me. Because of him. Because of them.

"I'm scared...it's...so dark."

And because of her. Especially because of her.