S-CRY-ed Fan Fiction ❯ S-cry-ed, renewed ❯ Asuka Tachibana ( Chapter 5 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

Asuka was nowhere to be seen as Kazuma opened his eyes for a split second while they were falling. Ayanna was close by. They cried out as they finally hit the floor and rolled/skid across it. When they opened their eyes, they stared wide-eyed at each other.
Kazuma had fallen across Ayanna and their faces were almost touching, less than an inch away. They stared at each other and blushed. Kazuma bolted upright and looked around nervously.
Ayanna stood up, wiped dust from her clothes, and coughed as it all settled. Kazuma rubbed his head, which he had hit on the side of what looked like a giant cave. He coughed, but not from the dust, but to relieve the tense silence.
“How're we going to get out of here?” Ayanna asked in a whisper, as if the cave was a library and she would somehow be scolded for speaking too shrill.
He stood up. “I don't know...But the sooner we leave the better. Come on,” and before he knew what he was doing, Kazuma grabbed her gently by the hand and they walked quickly forward, he partially in the front.
However, they did not get far when they saw a light ahead. Ayanna gasped and instinctively let go of Kazuma's hand and held onto his full arm. Kazuma glanced at her by his side, then back at the green light. He suddenly knew who it was and glared as Tachibana stepped out of the gloom.
“Oh. There you are,” said Asuka. Ayanna quickly let go of Kazuma's arm, seeing that there was nothing to be too frightened of. Kazuma's alter appeared.
“Hey, I'm not going to fight you down here,” Asuka reacted.
“Yeah? Why not?” Kazuma asked.
Asuka sighed, as if tired of dealing with Kazuma. “The cave would collapse of course. I for one want to get out of here. If you do, too, we'll have to work together.”
“I don't help anyone from HOLY,” Kazuma replied.
“Hey, I don't like it either. But it seems to me like this is the only way either of us will get out of here,” Tachibana explained.
Kazuma thought a moment. His alter disappeared and he crossed his arms. “Okay, fine.”
“Hmm, that's more like it,” Asuka nodded, “My name is Asuka Tachibana by the way.”
“Well I'm Kazuma. Kazuma Torisuna.”
Tachibana smiled smugly, “Yes I know that.” Suddenly, he seemed to notice Ayanna standing there for the first time. He blinked. “And who are you?” he inquired curiously.
“Ayanna,” she replied.
“No last name?” Asuka asked.
“No,” Ayanna replied simply.
Asuka looked closely at her. “Have I seen you before?” he asked. Kazuma raised an eyebrow and looked at Ayanna.
“You might have,” Ayanna crossed her arms, “That man Ryuhou took me into custody. I'm a native-alter.”
“Oh,” Asuka's face lit up in recognition, “Now I remember. I was listening on the other side while you were interrogated.” He looked from Kazuma to Ayanna. “So you were lying then...You do know Kazuma.”
Ayanna looked up at Kazuma, then back at Tachibana.
“You his sister? Or his girlfriend, maybe?” he asked. Ayanna's face turned a light shade of red and she stared round-eyed at Tachibana.
“Hey mind your own business! Do you know a way out of here or what?” Kazuma interrupted. Asuka looked over at Kazuma in a fatigued way.
“Not exactly. But I'll most likely know the way better than you would,” Tachibana replied.
“Alright then, Mr. Tachibana, you lead the way,” Ayanna said, just as Kazuma was about to make a smart comeback. Asuka smiled. At least one of the inners was cooperating. He turned his back to them and walked off, indicating they should follow.
Ayanna looked up at Kazuma and he looked back and shrugged. They trailed after him.
20 minutes later
Asuka crawled through a narrow passage and Ayanna after him. There were stalactite and stalagmites all around, so they had to be careful as they edged along on all fours. Kazuma had an expression of annoyed impatience on his face as he followed behind them.

“Look, I don't get why we have to-unngh!” Kazuma uttered as he looked back and his head hit a stalactite. Ayanna looked behind. Kazuma had fallen back and was rubbing his head. She smiled, and stifled a giggle.
“We're almost out of this passage, I can see the end now,” Asuka called to them from the front. Kazuma rubbed his head solemnly and pursued them from behind. Tachibana climbed out first, then Ayanna, and last, Kazuma. They were in an underground, abandoned mall. They could see with the green light from Asuka's alter.
They sat down gratefully against the walls. Ayanna sighed and Asuka threw them both an edible substance in a wrapper.
“Oh. Thanks,” said Ayanna. They ate the food, not caring that it had no taste at all.
“Are you sure we're going the right way?” Kazuma asked again. Tachibana swallowed a bite and sighed.
“Look, I'm pretty sure, okay? I'll bet it's better than what you could do,” Asuka replied.
“What's that supposed to mean?” Kazuma asked threateningly.
Again, Asuka sighed. “You native-alters. You're all the same aren't you? Well I have to get back, too ya know. I have someone waiting for me.”
“What?” Ayanna asked, not comprehending, “You think that because we're native alters, we don't care about anyone but ourselves?” she asked, unbelieving. Asuka looked down, not responding.
“Well that's very inconsiderate of you Mr. Tachibana. We are no different from you. Kazuma has someone back home waiting for him, too,” Ayanna defended them both.
Asuka took a quick glance at Kazuma, who seemed to be ignoring the conversation stubbornly. There was a moment of silence before Asuka spoke again.
“You don't have to call me Mr. Tachibana.” He said, finally looking up into Ayanna's violet eyes. “I don't think I'm really much older than you are, you know...Come on, we should keep going. I'd like to get out of here soon...And I guess you two would also,” he said and stood up. Tachibana started walking slowly off as the other two stood up.
Kazuma smiled at Ayanna. Ayanna saw him and smiled in a friendly way. However, she noticed that Kazuma's smile seemed a bit more than friendly. She flushed and looked away. Tachibana looked back.
“Hey!” he called to them and they looked up, “Come on, or you'll get left behind!” He was already a fair distance ahead. Ayanna felt the warmth as Kazuma's hand closed over hers again and they ran after Asuka.
Tachibana looked away as Kazuma grabbed Ayanna's hand, but he saw in the corner of his eye and he thought about this...Would HOLY want to know about Ayanna? He asked himself. He looked behind him as Ayanna and Kazuma had caught up. She now had her arm locked with his and she looked very tired. Would they try to use her to get to Kazuma? Was he really feeling the need to protect them from HOLY, while still remaining HOLY itself?
Asuka shook his head. No, of course not. Nevertheless, he looked back again at Kazuma and Ayanna. Kazuma was looking to his left, but caught Tachibana's gaze and looked back at him stoically. Asuka quickly turned his head forward. Kazuma is the number one enemy of HOLY right now. I couldn't keep them secret even if I tried...Asuka tried to convince himself, but he knew deep down he would not tell HOLY about Ayanna.
“Hey. Tachibana,” Kazuma was whispering. Tachibana was shaken from his thoughts.
“Eh?” he turned around. Kazuma had stopped and looked up at Asuka.
“I think she's asleep,” Kazuma had his arms and seemed to be holding Ayanna up as she leaned against him, her eyes closed, breathing peacefully. Kazuma was blushing slightly, and it seemed to Asuka as if he were seeking his advice on the matter. He found this quite amusing and had to turn his head to keep the smile hidden from Kazuma.
“We should stop anyways,” Tachibana announced, “I'm tired, too.” He looked back at Kazuma. They all seemed to be done in. They stopped in a dry corner of the cave. Asuka did not sit too close to Kazuma, but Ayanna slept serenely. Kazuma leaned at an angle against the wall and held Ayanna tightly in his arms.
“Kazuma?” Asuka spoke.
“Hmm?” Kazuma did not look up.
“I've been meaning to ask you. Why don't you join HOLY? You wouldn't have to worry about how you're ever going to make it the next day. You'd be happy there.”
Kazuma looked up at Tachibana. “I've been to the mainland once. A long time ago. When I was a kid, I needed a job, so I snuck in,” he explained. Asuka listened intently. “When I got there, I saw the people. They were walking around, with the same smile, the same clothing. I hated it.”
“That's equality,” Asuka replied.
“If that's what equality is, I don't want it. Everyone's exactly the same in the city. I don't want to be the same as anyone else, and I never will be. We're all different, and we should act differently, too.”
“But you'll never fit in and co-exist if you're so different,” Tachibana fired back.
“Hey, we're alter-users, right?” Kazuma gave Asuka a hard look. Asuka couldn't reply immediately. “Well I'd say that's pretty different, wouldn't you?”
Asuka looked away. He stared at the ground for so long...When he looked back up, Kazuma was asleep, and now his own eyes were slowly closing...
Ayanna gently shook Asuka's shoulder. “Mr. Tachibana,” she spoke. “Mr. Tachibana, wake up.” Tachibana's eyes flickered lazily and opened halfway. He saw a blurry figure and opened his eyes fully to see Ayanna crouched in front of him. “Good morning,” she said with a grin.
Asuka rubbed at his olive-green eyes and sat up. “If we're still in this cave I wouldn't call it a good morning at all,” he groaned.
“Stop complaining,” Kazuma replied. Asuka stood up and ran a hand through his purple hair.
“It wasn't a complaint.”
“Whatever,” Kazuma rolled his eyes. “So...which way then?” he asked, stretching his arms. Tachibana rubbed the back of his neck and looked down two passages.
“Uhh...That way, I suppose,” he pointed to the left tunnel.
“Can I lead?” Ayanna asked. Asuka shook his head.
“But you don't know the way,” he remarked.
Ayanna scoffed, “Neither do you; not really anyways.” Tachibana shook his hand in her direction distractedly (though it was really out of fatigue)
“Sure, fine, just don't get us lost.”
“Wouldn't dream of it,” Ayanna smiled and immediately took off down the left path. Kazuma followed swiftly, but Asuka was almost left behind, for he was still coping with the fact that he had only 6 hours of sleep. God! Do the inners always wake this early? He wondered and stumbled after the two.
Ayanna finally slowed her pace a bit and Asuka walked beside Kazuma. They were about 8 meters from Ayanna, out of earshot. They had carried on in silence until Asuka sighed and stuffed his hands into his pockets. He was so bored. He glanced over at Kazuma walking calmly beside him.
“So,” Asuka started.
“So what?” Kazuma quickly replied, not turning his head. Tachibana shrugged.
“I dunno, I'm trying to start a conversation,” he responded.
“Well that was pretty lousy,” said Kazuma. Asuka sighed in frustration and did not talk for a while. Ayanna carried on in bliss. She actually seemed to be having a good time in the cave. Once, she stopped just to smile back at the two guys behind her, as if to cheer them up. Asuka tried again...
“So how long have you known her?” Asuka asked.
“None of your business,” Kazuma retorted.
“God, you're touchy aren't you?”
“I don't just give out information to you HOLY freaks!” Kazuma hissed.
“As if I would tell them about this at all. If they heard I was helping you out of this cave at all I'd be released,” Asuka enlightened. There was silence for a minute or two, before Kazuma spoke again.
“About three days,” he answered Tachibana's question. Asuka's eyes rounded.
“Only three days?” he clarified.
“Yeah, so?” Kazuma turned his face to Tachibana.
“And she's already your girlfriend? After just three days?” Asuka asked, almost unbelieving.
Kazuma's eye twitched. “And where the hell did you get the idea that she was my girlfriend?” he asked, trying to control himself. Asuka's expression seemed to say: “Oops,” as he replied.
“Oh...Sorry, it's just that it seemed like...Well, y'know...” Tachibana became nervous. He was afraid that Kazuma might attack him. However, Kazuma turned his face away. He did not look angry...he looked embarrassed. Asuka sighed inwardly and they were spared any more talk as Ayanna called out to them.
“Hey you guys! I think I found a way out!” Asuka and Kazuma came running and found Ayanna near a dead end, but there was a hole in the rock wall and light spilled through.
“How are we supposed to get through there?” Tachibana asked. Kazuma smiled.
“That's a stupid question. Stand back, Ayanna,” he revealed his alter as she obeyed him and took a few steps back to stand beside Asuka. “Shocking first bullet!” as Kazuma called out, he spun around and hit the wall with his Shellbullet and the wall crumbled down.
Ayanna and Tachibana coughed the smoke and dust from their lungs and stepped through with Kazuma. They seemed to be in a large, underground mall of some sort. Ayanna and Kazuma stepped into the middle of the room and stopped abruptly as someone's alter appeared instantly.
Ayanna took a hesitant step back and looked around. She could see nobody else in this room, so whose alter was this? It was large and purple, half-animal and half plant it seemed. Asuka ran forward and swiftly attacked the monster with two green orbs. They went right through the skin of the giant, but it only seemed to annoy it.
It tried to lash out at Ayanna, but Kazuma lithely jumped up and punched the alter's tentacle with his alter. The creature screeched and its arm hung loosely at its side as it went after Kazuma. He jumped and dodged as the monster came close, but the thing seemed to analyze this and as Kazuma jumped, the creature attacked with its other arm.
Kazuma skid across the floor and grimaced. “Hintakai!” Ayanna cried out as Asuka hurled the water from his canteen at the monster and she transformed the liquid into four sharp daggers. The monster squealed as the weapons sliced through it.
As it turned to face off against Ayanna and Tachibana, Kazuma stood up and charged the creature. Just as the native alter jumped into the air to attack, the alter spun around and the tentacles shot forward to pin Kazuma to the wall inside an alcove.
“Kazuma!” Ayanna screamed and ran forward. Another tentacle whipped around and Ayanna barely parried it in time. She glanced up to see Kazuma (and his arm that controlled his alter) stuck in viscous mud. As she looked up to see Kazuma, the creature grabbed her by the leg and swung her up. Ayanna screamed.
Asuka just watched for a moment. Ayanna swung up to bring herself so that she was on top of the creature's arm. However, it still held her by both legs now. Both Ayanna and Kazuma grunted in exertion. Tachibana blinked and brought his treasure balls back to his side where they floated about him.
“I'm going back the way we came,” he said simply and turned around. “I guess we really are enemies after all...Even you, Ayanna.”
Ayanna looked up at the mention of her name.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Kazuma replied. “If we all make it out of here, I suppose we'll just start fighting again.”
As Asuka walked out of the room and into the cave's hallway where they had come from, the light diminished. Ayanna shrieked as the alter attacked her.
“Ayanna!” Kazuma screamed. Tachibana kept walking as he heard Kazuma shout in his efforts to free himself as the alter prepared to strike him.
Ayanna was being held up by the throat and the alter's teeth were just about to tear through her when she fell to the ground. Two of Asuka's green treasure balls passed right through the alter's skin. Ayanna gasped. She had fallen to the floor and looked up to see that Asuka had made a quick decision.
She smiled gratefully as she saw Tachibana release three more with his outstretched hand. They sliced at the creature threatening Kazuma.
“Tachibana!” Ayanna smiled. Asuka guided four orbs to Kazuma. They attached themselves to him and slowly lifted him free. Asuka looked over at Ayanna and smiled sweetly.
Kazuma leaped over to the both of them. “Alright...” he said. All three alter-users calmly took up a fighting stance; Asuka with both hands outstretched, ready to use his eternity eight. Kazuma, slouching a bit lower, his Shellbullet forward and ready to use. Ayanna swiftly bent both arms slightly behind her as the alter light outlined her figure. They were ready as Ayanna pulled herself back and looked at the alter dangerously. “...Let's do this!”
The alter roared and sent out its many arms. Kazuma jumped to avoid one and brought his Shellbullet down hard upon it. Ayanna rolled to one side, avoiding the creature's teeth. As she did, her invisible alter charged and severed one of the creature's tentacles.
“Eternity Eight!” Asuka shouted. His alter came together to form a sort of bat and he attacked two of the arms at once.
The alter screeched and reeled back. As Kazuma took a slight step back, he felt something behind him. He looked back quickly and saw that Ayanna and Asuka were back-to-back with him. He grinned. “I'll take it from here!” he declared. He leaped away from Asuka and Ayanna and plunged after the alter.
“Exterminating last bullet!!”
Ayanna hid her face as the light flashed through the cavern. Kazuma was pushed back by the force but landed smoothly away from Ayanna and Tachibana.
“Who was controlling that thing?” Tachibana wondered aloud after the strange alter had dissipated. Ayanna broke away from them and walked forward. She bent down and moved a piece of rubble. Her eyes shone with a curious light. Kazuma and Tachibana exchanged glances and quickly joined her.
Kazuma bent down next to her. “Look,” said Ayanna, glancing up at Kazuma and Asuka. “It was a fox.” Under the rubble, a twin-tailed fox licked its wounds. Two smaller versions of the first popped out of nowhere and looked up at them with big red eyes.
“We must have invaded its home. It's no wonder the fox attacked us...I suppose I would have done the same,” Kazuma reached out to one of the smaller foxes.
“Animals have alter power, too?” Asuka whispered. Kazuma nodded.

“I can't believe you've never heard of the Alter Forest before. And you an alter-user yourself! The forest is full of creatures like this, with the alter ability,” Kazuma explained. Ayanna handed the foxes to Tachibana decisively. He smiled and Kazuma reached out to pet the creatures.
They all three smiled. After a moment, Kazuma began to laugh lightly. Ayanna joined in, and eventually Asuka. There seemed to be no hostility.
“Well, let's leave this place,” Kazuma interrupted the moment. Asuka nodded. They followed a `trail' out of the `room' and into the late afternoon desert of the Lost Ground. Asuka had been in front. He stopped, his back to a large stone sticking out of the ground, and looked over at Kazuma.
Kazuma stopped but Ayanna kept walking. She suddenly noticed he was not with her and turned. Kazuma had crossed his arms. He now smiled smugly at Asuka. “Let me guess. Your only choice is to either fight me and win, or quit HOLY, am I right?”
Ayanna looked from Tachibana to Kazuma. Asuka glared at Kazuma. Kazuma merely shrugged indifferently. “Personally, I think you'd do much better just quitting now...You won't beat me,” he said confidently.
“Ryuhou clobbered you,” Asuka commented. Kazuma glared daggers at Asuka, as if that alone would defeat him.
“I could take Ryuhou any day,” Kazuma clenched his fist. “Why else would I be searching for him?” Ayanna took a step towards them. Suddenly, Asuka's alter appeared and he glanced over at Ayanna.
“You stay out of this,” Tachibana commanded. Ayanna gasped and took a step back.
After a moment, Kazuma and Asuka actually smiled at each other. “I do believe you hold some considerable ideals, Kazuma. In fact, I envy you.”
“Ya know, if we'd have met under different circumstances...”
“We could have even been friends, right?” Asuka finished. Kazuma smiled and nodded. His alter appeared gradually and he took a breath.
“Let's finish this...”
“Eternity Eight!”
“Exterminating last bullet!”
Ayanna watched as the two alters collided. They did not seem to move in either direction. The light emanated from the force, but she did not blink.
If I can just...Asuka took a chance and forced the treasure balls (which were holding Kazuma's Shellbullet back) towards his opponent. It was a mistake. Kazuma plummeted forward into Tachibana. Ayanna shut her eyes tightly when she heard the crash. The wind made her slew a bit back and after a second or two, she opened her eyes to see Kazuma standing near the rock that had been behind Asuka.
Tachibana had crashed straight into it. He had been beaten.
Kazuma's alter disappeared. “Hey are you still alive?”
“...Yes,” Asuka replied meekly, trying a smile through his defeat.
“I told you I would win,” Kazuma answered. Asuka groaned. Ayanna walked forward and stood a bit behind Kazuma. He saw her and turned around.
“Wait...” Asuka spoke again as Kazuma and Ayanna took a few steps away from him.
“I can't go back to HOLY...What do I do?” Asuka asked straight out. Ayanna turned around and stared at him.
“Whatever you want to do,” she replied.
Tachibana stared back at Ayanna, and then he gave a sort of smile and looked down, his eyes wet.
“Come on,” Kazuma said to Ayanna. He started. Ayanna gave Asuka another look, which he could feel but could not meet, then hurried to catch up with Kazuma. He instinctively wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
Asuka looked up just then and stared as they left. As he did, he saw Kazuma stagger. Asuka's eyes widened, but Kazuma simply regained composure and instead of limping, and walked straight on. I can do anything? He asked himself as he stared after them. His gaze faltered and he looked down at himself. I guess Kazuma isn't that bad after all, he smiled pathetically, and then looked back up again.
Kazuma and Ayanna were now almost out of sight. He was about to look away when he noticed Ayanna look back at him. He looked up quickly and met her gaze. She smiled and waved good-bye to him. Asuka did not wave back, but smiled.
Ayanna and Kazuma, he thought, native alters extraordinaire. Asuka smiled and laughed lightly, they really do look rather nice together...