Author: silentsky93 PM
A fanfiction based off of Ryo Saenagi's Psychic Power Nanaki with nowhere else to be. When Ao Kudo's heart is stopped, where will his mind go? 2nd place winner of the 2010 Sakura-con fanfiction contest.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 2,104 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 4 - Published: 04-05-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5873613
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"State your name."
"Ao Kudo. LOCK Paranormal Task Force, First Division."
"You may enter."
The young man, who appeared to be something around fifteen, gave a small bow to the security officer outside and stepped into the Tokyo skyscraper that was home to the LOCK organization.
LOCK was an investigative branch comprised entirely of highly specialized psychic agents. They were the ones brought in resolve the unexplainable cases, the cases unsolvable by even the best of the police. It could be said that Ao was only a mere piece within the intricate organization, but he never saw it as such. For him, his psychic abilities meant almost as little to him as his ties to the other agents. What Ao truly relished was devoting his mind to every case, working it like a puzzle until he reached a conclusion.
He came though a pair of automatic glass doors. As he walked, he drew his long, blue-black hair behind him and tied it carefully with a strand of string.
Regardless of his age, Ao was given respect.
His division knew him. Some even answered to him.
"Yo, Ao, my man, look what I can do with my tongue!"
"Whatever it may be, I'd prefer to be spared the imagery, thank you very much."
17-year-old Shunsuke Nanaki came beside Ao and followed him into the briefing room, while attempting to form his tongue into the shape of a taco, despite Ao's clear objection to this.
There, a stern, suited man in his thirties waited – the chief of LOCK, first division.
"Report," the man commanded.
"Good evening, Gunji-san," Ao said with a bow.
Gunji gave a nod in return, before turning towards Nanaki.
"Aw, hell," Nanaki said, his words distorted as he tried to talk with his tongue out of his mouth, "I just had it!"
Gunji gave a small cough.
"Oh, hey, old man," Nanaki said, speaking normally, "When'd you get here?"
"Never mind," Gunji said, "Ao, I have a case for you and your… division partner, Nanaki. There's been a rise in unexplainable violent crime in the district of Tokyo surrounding LOCK headquarters. We believe it could be direct threat to either this organization or one of its agents, so I need you both to investigate. Bring backup, too. There's no telling what you'll be going up against here."
Ao didn't speak. Or, he hesitated to do so, before bringing his gaze directly to Gunji's.
"I'm going alone. I've already compiled half the case files for the case on my own, so if anyone handles this, it'll be me."
Nanaki reached for Ao.
Ao smacked his hand away.
"I said, I don't need you," Ao said, his composed tone masking the anger of his words, "I've had it with people interfering. It's time I took care of matters myself. Before you step in and ruin them again."
Ao turned and walked away.
"I'll come back when I'm done."
Dusk settled across the cityscape as Ao treaded the streets.
He reached the right street.
The right rooftop.
The right time.
"Observing from the pattern," Ao said to himself, "Our suspect should be – "
Ao's head spun to the side, seeing a tall, sleekly dressed boy in his late teens standing at the edge.
The youth turned and withdrew his sunglasses with a smile.
"Good to see you, Ao."
"We meet again, my friend."
"But you left LOCK… "
"Because they were wrong, Ao," Isurugi said, "I know what I must do now."
Isurugi stepped forward and moved a hand towards Ao, using mere force to fling the boy up into the air like a wet rag, then slam him back into the concrete.
Ao cried out in pain. As Isurugi drew closer, Ao staggered upwards, smoothing a hand over the gash on his arm to heal it.
Only to have Isurugi crush him down again, then drag him to the rooftop's edge with an effortless flick of the wrist.
"I used to idolize you, Ao," Isurugi said, moving closer to his old companion, "I wanted to be like you. And don't get me wrong, I still do. But, the truth is…without all the regulations, I can be anyone I want to. I've grown stronger now; I can do so many things I didn't used to be able to do. I get to watch people, the corrupt, the ones who've wronged this world, terrified. All because I can go on hurting them in so many ways that they can't even imagine."
"You freak," Ao breathed, "I won't let you get away with this."
"That's why I have to kill you, Ao," he said, "And so that not even LOCK can find me. Your abilities may give you the power to heal… but not even you can win out over death."
Isurugi moved his hand into a half-formed fist.
Ao felt the force of an unseen hand clench around his heart.
"Please…" Ao wheezed, clutching his chest, "Isurugi…"
Isurugi's hand jammed closed.
The beating of his heart ceased.
Ao Kudo was dead.
"Where am I?"
"This is where you've come to die."
Ao Kudo found himself in a maze. It was enormous, endless, constructed entirely with nine-foot walls of concrete that towered high above his head.
"So why here?"
"Because your dying mind created it," the voice following him said. This voice was within Ao, yet all around him; a physical presence, yet completely non-existent; himself, yet not himself, all at once. It was… what was it?
"You can think of me of your own conscience," it said in an answer, "Only, now, I'm not really attached. In the same way that you're not really 'attached' either."
Ao wandered the maze, feeling the bare cold of concrete against his feet. The odd thing was, he couldn't see his feet, or any other part of him for the matter. It was as if he were viewing the world from the lens of a camera, as if he wasn't completely there.
"You're not completely here, Ao. Not your body, anyways."
"Would you shut it?" Ao muttered, "I don't exactly enjoy having my thoughts probed, regardless of whether I'm alive or not."
"But you didn't seem to mind Isurugi or Nanaki doing it."
"For one thing, telepathy is limited. I can communicate by thought with both of them, but none of us can go any farther. And believe me, with Nanaki, I most definitely – "
"What about Isurugi?"
"He was once my partner and only LOCK confident, before he went AWOL," Ao explained, turning another corner of the maze, "Needless to say, he was infinitely more mature than Nanaki, an agent who retains the brain development of a toddler. Isurugi could be trusted. At least, until he became a 'freak.'"
"Please, define 'freak' for me."
"You saw. I guess… someone who becomes obsessed. Too obsessed."
Ao stopped. The image of Isurugi, killing him slowly, rippled through his mind.
Ao tried to settle his thoughts by walking the maze, but only managed to arrive at dead end after dead end.
"To be quite frank," Ao said, "I didn't exactly imagine death to be wandering aimlessly for all eternity. Is there even a way out?"
"When you find an end, you find end."
"Does that mean I ever will?"
It didn't answer. On the contrary, it fell completely away from Ao, leaving him on his own once again.
Ao looked above him. There was a sky – a night sky, black, but without any stars.
He turned and continued to wander, losing himself. There was no time here, apparently. Had there been, he could have been in the maze for a year just as easily as thirty minutes.
After some time, Ao stopped. He simply sat down, slid onto his back, and closed his eyes, his feet aching from treading upon the maze's hard concrete surface.
"You win," Ao spoke out, "I'm done."
"Is this the part where you give up?"
"I'm tired," he said, "Maybe I am. As far as I'm concerned, there isn't an end. There's no point in me trying to find something that isn't there, right?"
With a flutter of wind, his eyes opened again. The maze had changed.
Ao was at the heart of the labyrinth now.
Rising to his feet, he stepped out onto what seemed to be a giant marble chessboard, with a wide fountain at its center. Rising from the fountain was a white clock tower, with a spire pointing into the sky.
The clock facing Ao was broken and chipped, with only one hand. Each time it moved, the number it had been pointing to would fade away, and the next number would ink into existence at the newest position.
Ao's gaze moved across the board to himself – or, rather, the voice in his form, giving him a broad, coy smile.
"I lied," the voice said simply.
"What do you mean?"
"You're not dead yet," the voice said, pointing to the clock. "See? It's already made one revolution from the twelve. As soon as it completes its third and final revolution, the dream that is before you will cease to be, and you will be dead. Completely."
Ao looked into his other self's eyes, and turned his own eyes to the floor.
"So this is how it ends," Ao said.
"For someone who's about to die… you have nothing more to say? "
"That's because I'm not afraid."
"Not even a little sad?"
"Is there any point in crying over it if I can't escape anyways?"
"Maybe you're just foolish."
The voice came forward, stepping behind Ao quietly.
"Do you really think you're so brave, Ao? No one's here for you."
"The same way no one else was ever there for you."
"No one, not Isurugi, not Nanaki, will find you here."
Ao's jaw tightened.
"You'll die just as you lived, Ao. Utterly, completely alone."
His fists clenched.
"Leave me alone!" Ao shouted.
"I can't do that."
The second revolution was complete.
Small wisps of shadow began to rise from the marble, curling and binding around Ao, puling him slowly beneath the ground's surface.
"Goodbye, Ao Kudo."
Fear lurched into Ao. Deep, uncontrolled, human fear, tearing through him with unprecedented force.
With that, something which had rested dead within Ao jolted to life just as he was dragged into death's true threshold.
"Let me go."
"LET ME GO!" Ao cried.
Ao struggled and writhed, trembling from the strain of trying to lift against the forces dragging him down. His other self stood wordlessly smiling, watching, as it all was taking place.
"I won't let you bring me down."
Then it stopped.
As everything dissolved to black, nothing was forcing him down anymore.
Ao heard the voice's footsteps.
It moved past him, and then came to a standstill.
It gave a snap.
Ao's eyes snapped open, his breathing fast and hard.
"EKG's up," a paramedic said urgently.
"Not surprised," said another, her tone even, "We've just about paddled him with enough electricity to light up Osaka. But his heart's going again; we've got him back."
You've won, Ao. It's your checkmate this time. The voice only spoke once this time, and as it did so, it was safely within Ao's head. Then, it went away wordlessly, leaving Ao at peace with his mind.
Ao took in his surroundings. The paramedics were now striding across the rooftop to get a gurney from a LOCK helicopter. Gunji and Nanaki were kneeling at his side.
Ao jolted up. "Gunji-san – "
"Ao, relax," Gunji said, "Isurugi's at LOCK now. It wasn't exactly easy to detain him, yet somehow, several teams managed it before he could attack. But – "
Nanaki completed the sentence by striking Ao across the face.
"Idiot!" Nanaki exclaimed, "What the hell were you thinking? Isurugi almost killed you, and because you wanted to push us all away so you could play grown-up?"
Ao's shoulders trembled.
Ao's face fell into his palms. He began to cry.
"I… was so scared that I'd already died."