- The Second -
That night, after Sasori had returned home - stumbling and distracted and questioning what he had witnessed in the park - and spent a couple hours researching gemstones and monsters, he found himself laying awake in bed, staring up at the ceiling.
Who was that woman? Where had she - the monster - both of them come from? Why did he seem to be the only one who had been able to see them?
Had that really happened?
Rubbing his temples, Sasori sat up and swung his legs over the side of the mattress, hunching over for a moment as he glared through the darkness of his bedroom. Eventually, he stood, shuffling over to his clothing hamper and searching for his discarded pants from the day. After a few moments, he found what he was looking for and removed the labradorite stone from the pocket, returning to his bed and flopping down with a groan.
Crossing an arm behind his head, he idly examined the stone in the darkness, his injured forefinger still stinging slightly. His eyes have adjusted to the dark enough for him to see the stone pretty well and, making himself comfortable on the mattress, he rolled it between his fingers as his mind started to relax.
There was a sudden glimmer that passed over the stone, highlighting its colors and shedding the barest amount of light, and he blinked in surprise before frowning in confusion. It was too dark in his room for the stone to have caught any sort of light...
Groaning again, Sasori pinched the bridge of his nose and set the stone on his bedside desk before rolling over and pulling his covers over himself.
He was seeing things, wasn't he?
Eventually, he drifted off into a peaceful sleep, curled up under his bed sheets and his face buried into the cushion of his pillow. He couldn't have been asleep for very long before the dreams began.
Later, when he awoke to a cheery morning, he would remark that they were the strangest dreams he'd ever had.
It started off as a memory, the scene of the mysterious woman with pink hair and the strange beast replaying through his unconscious mind, before things started to shift.
Nothing was in focus, his surroundings blurry and unclear and Sasori found himself unable to move, his subconscious blank and unaware that he was dreaming. There was movement around him as the dream played through several unintelligible scenes, the sound muffled and distant. Eventually, bit by bit, they became a little more clear and he was able to make out specific details as he stood and watched.
The cry of a child, out of time with the sight of a little boy sitting on the ground and crying over his skinned knee.
The feeling of something brushing against his leg, the scene shifting as if he was looking down and bringing an orange and white tabby cat into focus as it rubbed against his leg, it's purr and meow garbled and muffled before becoming clear.
Books falling off a shelf, the echoes of their thuds much louder than they should have been and lasting for too long, the barest sound of ruffling paper meeting his ears.
Each scene seemed to materialize in from nothing before disappearing, distorting into wisps of smoke as the next scene began.
The scenes repeated, but each time felt like he was watching it for the first time, fresh and new in his dreaming mind. He was unable to tell exactly how many times he watched them before, finally, there was a change.
The strange woman's face came into focus and, had he been awake, Sasori would have realized that his heart was racing. She frowned at him and he felt the urge to look over the rest of her, but only her pretty face was in focus, his senses muddled and unable to discern the rest of his surroundings. She seemed to be saying something, her bright green eyes regarding him seriously, but Sasori was unable to hear her words nor read her lips, a soft hissing sound, like that of an angry animal, steadily growing in volume from somewhere behind him.
She held out her hand to him and he was able to make out a bracelet on her wrist - small, perfectly round beads, alternating between pale green and a smokey blue dusted with lighter specks.
In the morning, when he replayed the scene as he prepared his breakfast, he would recognize the green as jade stones, but would be unable to name the blue beads.
As the dream continued, the woman sent him a confused look, her pink hair loose of its braid and floating around her head as if she was submerged in water, before looking surprised.
Time seemed to reverse and she was suddenly moving away from him, her moments blurred and quick, before there was a pause and time seemed to right itself.
She was running towards him now, her expression serious and determined and, as she bounded over some unseen obstacle, she reached out to him but, before she could make contact, there was a blinding flash of white light and-
And he woke up.
It wasn't a sudden, rude awakening - he doesn't bolt upright, his eyes don't snap open, he doesn't shout in surprise.
Instead, he turned slightly to roll onto his back, groaning under his breath as he moved the arm draped over his face and blinked wearily at the ceiling. His heart was beating loudly in his ears and Sasori frowned to himself, the rays of morning sunlight peeking through the blinds over his window and the memory of the dreams flooding his mind.
He found the dreams odd firstly because he rarely remembers his dreams.
Secondly because it had seemed so real.
Thirdly because he could still feel the ghost of a touch on his hand, warm and barely there - as if he had just let go of someone's hand - and the memory of his dream self reaching out towards the woman left his mind reeling.
Still a little groggy, Sasori shuffled through his kitchen with a tired frown after getting dressed and eating a quick breakfast, filling his thermos with coffee before heading out.
Mind still full of thoughts from the day before - and now with the strange dreams - he decided to head to the library and see what he could find on invisible beasts. Lore and mythology books... Perhaps research treatment for hallucinations.
He was sure to slip the labradorite stone into his pocket before he left his apartment, thermos in hand and his messenger bag slung over his shoulder.
The walk was uneventful, but he eventually found himself pausing outside the playground of a school, glancing through the fence as the sound of a crying child brought him to a stand-still. Looking over, he could see a young boy sitting on the pavement of a basketball court, large tears rolling down his cheeks as he cried over his bloody knee.
Sasori stood there and stared for a few moments, expression confused and a little worried as he realized it was the same boy from his dream, right down to the dinosaur bandage on his left arm and the ketchup stain on his shirt.
His heart was pounding again as he hurriedly tried to convince himself that it was just a coincidence - it had to be - and his right hand suddenly jerked, darting out to catch a leaf that had been falling out of his line of sight. He jumped in surprise as he looked over, quickly dropping the leaf as if it had burned him before staring down at his hand in confusion. The small wound on his index finger was still a little red, though it had scabbed over during the night, but, the harder he stared at it, the more it throbbed.
Rubbing his forehead, Sasori shoved his hand into his pocket, fingers brushing the labradorite stone, and continued down the street, grumbling to himself as he made his way to the crosswalk. He glared at nothing in particular and tried to clear his mind, determined to not think about anything until he made it to the library. He traveled down a few blocks, walking determinedly for a few minutes before he paused, waiting with a group of pedestrians at a corner as cars passed by. Tapping his foot impatiently, Sasori took a quick sip of his coffee before suddenly jumping in surprise at the feeling of something rubbing against his leg.
He looked down almost hesitantly, face paling at the sight of an orange and white tabby brushing against him, the starburst shape of white fur in the center of its forehead exactly like the one on the cat in his dream. It meowed up at him and he could detect the barest sound of a purr and it took every bit of self-control for Sasori to keep from running across the street when the group started to move forwards.
His pace was faster now as he hurried to the library, but he ultimately paused just outside the entrance, remembering the scene in his dream with the falling books.
Well, that was almost too much of a coincidence.
Should he just head home? Surely this was some sort of bad omen - wasn't it?
Groaning, Sasori adjusted his bag and made his way up the steps to the doors of the library, muttering under his breath.
"I'm being ridiculous. It's all just a bunch of coincidences."
It was quiet in the library, as libraries tend to be, and Sasori headed for one of the tables, setting his thermos and bag down as he plopped into a chair and ran a hand through his hair before glancing around. There weren't many people in the library at the moment and he was perfectly okay with that - more than happy to isolate himself amongst the books for a few hours as he tried to find answers to his many questions. Removing his laptop from his messenger bag, Sasori stood and headed towards the shelves to start searching for some books, inwardly wondering if he should do a little research on premonition dreams.
The library was large, with a maze of shelves and hundreds upon hundreds of books but, eventually, Sasori found a few books that looked promising and returned to his table, taking a sip of his coffee as he opened his laptop. Bringing up the webpages he had been checking last night, he clicked open a word doc and pulled one of the books closer - an encyclopedia of sorts on different mythical monsters from across the globe. As unreal as all of this felt, a little bit of research always managed to calm his mind and let him figure things out - if he could identify what he thought he had seen, he might be able to figure out just what was going on with him and these hallucinations.
Taking a few notes in the word doc, he made a list of possible beasts, mentally wondering if he should go get himself checked out by a professional. Maybe there was a significance to the monster he had 'seen'?
"Hellhound, chupacabra, inugami..."
Nothing seemed to match up exactly with the creature in the park but he persevered, pausing only when the sound of a soft hiss came from somewhere behind him.
Sasori froze, fingers hovering over his keyboard as he resisted the urge to look over his shoulder.
Auditory hallucinations too?
The hissing was grating, a scratchy, garbled sound that was less like air passing and more like a warning cry coming from an animal's throat. He tried to look around inconspicuously and found that no one else in the library seemed to have heard the hiss and, finally, the curiosity was too much and he turned his head.
Perched on one of the bookshelves was another black beast, though it looked much different than the one from the park. It had a longer, sleeker body with six legs, each with three long, dangerous claws and patches of diseased-looking feathers covering its inky-black skin. It's tail was a long plume of feathers and flicked through the air in agitation, its bright blue eyes pinned to something past him. Cat-like ears were laid flat back against head, hackles raised and its beak - much larger than any bird should ever possess - was open slightly, revealing rows of wicked teeth as cerulean saliva dripped onto the bookshelf.
Sasori stared up at it in horror, it's angry hissing steadily growing louder, before following its line of sight.
And, for the second time, he saw her.
The pink-haired woman from the park was at the front desk of the library, chatting with the librarian who definitely seemed to be aware of her presence. She was dressed differently from the day before, sporting pale blue shorts and a floral-print sweater, her hair loose and her sword and pack strapped to her belt.
Inwardly he wondered why the librarian didn't seem at all curious about the katana.
Hearing movement, Sasori glanced back over his shoulder to see that the creature was making it's way across the top of the bookshelf, its gaze pinned to the woman and the hissing becoming more of a challenging growl, though still not loud enough for her to hear. It's tail darted through the air, swinging down and brushing against Sasori's arm and, instinctively, he jumped to his feet in surprise, shoving his chair back and making the wood screech across the floor.
Instantly, both the creature and woman looked at him.
Her expression was one of surprise before a flash of recognition passed over her face.
And then shock as she noticed the creature.
Which now had it's eyes set on Sasori.
"Shh!" The librarian suddenly called over to him, frowning and apparently annoyed by the sudden squeak his chair had made.
Obviously unable to see the monster.
The pink-haired woman glanced to the librarian once more before looking back to him, her gaze darting between Sasori and the beast that was now stalking towards him, it's head tilted curiously but its fangs still bared.
Much more preoccupied with the creature, Sasori was only vaguely aware of the woman hurriedly moving out the librarian's line of sight and reaching up to her earlobe, a brief shimmer passing over her body and her green eyes focused on the increasingly worried redhead.
Gritting his teeth, but rooted to the spot, he watched the monster move closer, jumping back only when it suddenly batted a clawed paw at him. It sat up, it's beak opening as it gave an inhuman screech that sounded almost amused, before it crouched, as if it was getting ready to pounce.
Instead, it's tail shot out towards him again, the razor-sharp feathers now looking almost like blades as it moved to strike him. Just before it could make contact, Sasori's right hand jerked, grabbing the chair and raising it just in time to block the creature's attack, leaving him staring down at his hand in shock - it had moved much too quickly for him to have even processed what was happening, the path of his hand sure and steady. The tail gave another flick, hitting the shelves below it and sending a few books tumbling off, landing haphazardly but giving him a clear enough view of one of the titles - the exact one he'd seen in his dream.
The beast gave an angry hiss and it sat up on its haunches but, before it could strike again, the sound of thudding footsteps caught Sasori's ear and he glanced over just in time to see the pink-haired woman racing towards him. Her expression was determined and, as she leaped over a table, he realized it was also the same scene he'd seen in his dream. She had an arm outstretched towards him and, once more moving of it's own accord, his hand raised to meet her grip and he was tugged down and away from the beast just as it swiped another clawed pat at his head.
His heart was thudding and he struggled to keep his footing as she pulled him after her, the pair racing around a corner and deeper into the library's maze of shelves. After a few moments of darting around shelves, she suddenly skidded to a halt and dropped down into a crouch, tugging him down with her and quickly reaching into the pack on her hip. She immediately pulled something out, grabbing his hand once more and quickly slipping a ring onto his middle finger, her expression serious.
"You need to put this on or they'll think you're crazy." She muttered, before dropping his hand and reaching for her sword, her gaze darting around as she checked to make sure the coast was clear.
Mind reeling, Sasori looked down at the ring, recognizing the stone resting on the simple silver band as an opal, before looking her over once more. This close, he could pick out smaller details - like the opal earring stud she was wearing and the matching opal embedded in the hilt of her katana and, of course, the bracelet of blue and green stone beads around her wrist.
"Keep your head down and head for the exit," She suddenly said when she looked to him once more - with the movement he could see another stud in her other ear, though he didn't recognize this pale blue gem as it was definitely not an opal, "Wait for me in the park - I'll meet you there after I deal with it."
"Who are you?" Sasori eventually managed to blurt out, unable to make sense of what was happening. "What the hell is going on?"
She snorted and stood, unsheathing her malachite blade as she moved back towards the way they came.
"Just get out of the library. I'll answer your questions later, alright?"
Before he could answer, she rushed off back into the maze of bookshelves and he was left kneeling on the ground, staring at the spot where she'd been standing. He glanced down at the opal ring on his finger, but jumped when the sound of footsteps approached, making him jump to his feet as a a man carrying a stack of books rounded a corner.
"A-ah," he struggled for words for a moment, "Excuse-"
He cut himself off as he hurriedly stepped out of the way and the man kept walking forward, not even sparing Sasori a glance and very narrowly walking right into him. Pressing himself against the bookshelf, Sasori shot him a glare, calling after the man before pausing when he didn't respond - didn't even slow down.
"Hey, wait, can you not-"
And the man turned another corner and disappeared from sight.
Did he not hear him? Did he not see him?
Suddenly, from somewhere in the library, there was a monstrous scream and, almost instantly, Sasori was racing towards the sound, passing a few people who neither noticed him nor seemed alarmed by the screech. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of a flash of pink and managed to spot the mysterious woman just in time as she raced over the top of the bookshelves with that same inhuman grace he'd seen in the park. He continued to run, deciding to take heed of her advice - okay, it was more of a command - and leave the library.
Trying to figure out the path back to the main lobby, Sasori took a sharp turn and continued to run, watching for any sign of the monster. He managed to skid to a halt just as something large and black darted in front of him, the smell of cinnamon heavy in the air. Pressing his back to a bookshelf, Sasori peeked around the corner to see the feathered creature stalking the aisles, its tail swishing from side to side in agitation.
Sasori didn't even realize he was panting until the beast suddenly stiffened and twisted around, its blue gaze falling on him and its beak opening for another shriek.
It pounced at him faster than he could have anticipated but, even faster, his hand shot upwards and he felt a something grab his wrist, quickly hoisting him up and out of the way.
"I thought I told you to get out!" The pink-haired woman hissed after she steadied him next to her on the bookshelf.
Sasori shot her a glare, trying to ignore the way his hands were shaking.
"I'm trying! It's kind of difficult with that- that thing appearing around every cor-!"
He was cut off by another screech and the pair looked over just in time to see the beast scramble up onto a nearby bookshelf, blue saliva flying as it screamed at them. Sasori just barely caught the sound of the woman cursing under her breath before she suddenly grabbed him and, the next thing Sasori knew, he was in her arms. She stood, holding the redhead bridal style, and jumped to a different bookshelf, darting across the tops as she ran towards the library's entrance, carrying him with unnerving ease and the beast close behind them.
Later, when Sasori was home and trying to come to terms with what had happened, he would be embarrassed to admit that he had clung desperately to her as she raced over the tops of the shelves, but felt surprisingly safe in her arms at the same time.
Quickly, she ran out of shelves to jump across and, leaping into the air, she landed in the middle of the lobby with ease before depositing Sasori on the ground and spinning around, her malachite sword raised. The creature was flying towards the pair, its claws outstretched and fangs bared and, yelling that same battle cry from the park, she swung her blade upwards just in time to slice diagonally across its chest, its screech dying in its throat and becoming a garbled whine as it fell to the ground.
Around them, the rest of the people in the library continued on with their business, unaware of the scene Sasori was witnessing.
Like in the park, the monster seemed to shrink in on itself before that same shimmer of blues and greens and yellows passed over it and it exploded in a spray of liquefied, black flesh, the feathers shriveling up and turning to dust in the air. The globs of flesh and the speck of dust were quickly absorbed into the malachite and Sasori heard a soft, dull thud as something landed on the floor.
The pink-haired woman stood and he peered around her legs to watch as she picked up another labradorite stone from around where the creatures chest had been. Letting out a relieved sigh, she snapped open the pack on her hip and dropped the stone in, sheathing her katana once more. After a moment, she finally turned to face him, her lips turned down in a frown as she moved forward, holding out a hand.
"Are you hurt?"
Sasori stared up at her hesitantly for a moment before reaching for her offered hand, holding back a sound of surprise when she easily pulled him to his feet - he swore the blue beads on her bracelet glowed for a split-second.
"No, I-" He paused, voice hoarse, and cleared his throat, running a shaky hand through his hair. "I'm fine. Are you...?"
She smiled and, inwardly, Sasori realized it was the first time he'd seen her do so. With her hand still holding his, she turned and pulled him back towards the bookshelves, glancing over her shoulder at him.
"I'm fine, thanks for asking. Let's go somewhere a little more private, alright?"
Sasori would later be abhorred to admit that his cheeks had turned pink in a small blush for a moment.
Standing amongst the maze of bookshelves once more, the woman turned to face him, her expression serious once more. After taking a moment to slip the opal ring off of his finger and deposit it in her pack, her lips parted and she started to speak but, before she could say anything, Sasori quickly hurried out his question from before, frowning at her as he began to calm down.
"Who are you? You said you'd answer my questions after you dealt with that... creature."
She bit her lip before giving a defeated sigh and nodding to herself, shifting her weight from one leg to the other.
"My name is Sakura. I know I said I'd answer all of your questions but I think it would be easier if you just- uh, if I..." She paused and frowned to herself, looking away for a moment before opening her small pack again and reaching in. After a moment, Sakura pulled out a small, smooth, glossy stone. It was a pale, pale green, marbled with white, and oval in shape and rested perfectly in the palm of her hand as she showed it to him.
"Do you know what this is?"
Sasori frowned down at the stone before sending her a blank look, crossing his arms over his chest. It sounded like she didn't want to answer his questions and, frankly, he found that rather irritating.
Sakura didn't seem surprised and, holding it between her thumb and forefinger, she took his hand, placing it in his palm.
"It's called variscite. It'll help you forget about everything you've seen." He stiffened at this, shooting her a wary frown - what?
She didn't seem bothered by the look he was giving her and simply rested her hands on her hips. "When you get home, let it sit in a glass of water for about an hour. Drink the water before you go to sleep and, boom, you'll have forgotten all about today and yesterday's occurrences by the time you wake up."
Sakura waved him off before seeming to remember something, her expression turning serious once more as she looked at him.
"Ah, right." She held out her empty hand, the bracelet of blue and green beads dropping further down her wrist, "Okay, hand over the labradorite."
A vague sense of familiarity washed over him but Sasori was more preoccupied with a different question.
"How did you know I-"
She huffed and tapped her foot, the labradorite on her forehead shimmering slightly as she continued to frown at him.
"It's why you can see the monsters. And me, right now. It also grants the beasts the ability to touch you so, if you don't want to end up as a snack for another one of those things, hand it over. I'm not going to tell you anything more than that since you'll have forgotten all about this by tomorrow morning."
Sasori shifted, unsure and almost a little unnerved at the explanation - would this be the last time he saw her? Why did that thought make him feel so disappointed...?
Still, the thought of more of those creatures hunting him outweighed the disappointment and, reaching into his pocket, he removed the labradorite teardrop. It shimmered in his hand as he sent it one last glance before dropping it into Sakura's hand. Waiting for... something to happen, he continued to stare at her, crossing his arms as he frowned.
She watched him in return for a few moments before her expression turned confused and he quirked an eyebrow in response.
"Well, is something supposed to happen?"
A look of surprise passed over Sakura's face and she took a step back, her eyes narrowing when his gaze followed her movement.
"That's not supposed to..." She muttered under her breath before her focus dropped to his hands, a suspicious look flashing through her green eyes.
Her shoulder's twitched slightly and, before Sasori could even understand what was happening, his right hand moved of its own accord, jerking up to block a sudden strike from her, her body spinning faster than he could have anticipated.
The redhead stumbled backwards in surprise, his shout cut off when she grabbed his right wrist, inspecting his hand with a serious frown.
"What was that for?!"
Sakura ignored him, eyes narrowing as she found the mostly-healed wound on his forefinger, peering closely at it. As Sasori watched, resisting the urge to yank his arm back, he swore a shimmer passed over his fingertip but, before he could respond, she was letting out a sigh.
"Crap. You cut yourself on the labradorite, didn't you?"
"What the hell? Yes, I-"
She turned away, rubbing her temples as she paced for a few moments, muttering curses under her breath.
"Shit, shit shit, this is a mess. I'm going to have to-"
Pausing suddenly, she raised a hand to the ear with the pale blue earring, frowning to herself before glancing up at the confused Sasori, a look of frustration passing over her. After a few more moments of focusing on something he couldn't see - hear? - she sighed out another, "Shit, shit, shit," before turning to face him once more.
"Look, I have to go," Sakura quickly reached out and snatched back the variscite, depositing it back into her pack. "You won't be needing that anymore. At least, not until I can get this mess," here, she gestured to his hand, "sorted out."
"What is going on, Sakura?"
"I'll have to explain later - I really need to get going now. Here just," Pausing to remove the opal stud in her other earlobe, a brief shimmer of colors passed over her quicker than a blink and, grabbing his hand, she led him out of the maze of bookshelves and to the lobby. Snatching a pen and sheet of paper off of a table, she quickly scribbled something down before shoving it into his hand.
"Meet me at that address tomorrow and I'll explain as much as I can. And try to fix your little problem."
"What about those mon-!"
She interrupted him with a quick, "Shh!," glancing around at the other people in the library before searching through her pack once more and quickly dropping a crystal in his hand. Unlike the other stones which were all polished and smooth, this one was a raw chunk that weighed comfortably in his palm. It was mainly lime green, with a mix of darker and lighter greens mixed in throughout the crystal and nearly opaque.
"Peridot," Sakura explained and, inwardly, he recognized the name as a birthstone, "It'll keep you safe until we meet up again tomorrow."
She offered him that pretty smile once more and he glanced away, frowning at a random shelf and his hands clenching around the crystal and the paper.
Once again, by the time he looked back, she was gone.
This time he at least had a few answers, but, unfortunately, many more questions than the day before.
notes: i had absolutely nothing to do today so! decided to write more for this. honestly? i dont have much more in mind for this fic so this might? be the end
we'll see! if enough people want more to this fic, i might sit down and work out an actual plot.
originally, the crystals and gemstone stuff wasn't going to be that important (or even really happen) but im obsessed with stuff like that soooooo
hope you enjoyed! if youd like to see more to this fic, please let me know!