This story is Episode 2 of the X-Evolution storyline! If you missed the first half, just go read it in my profile and you'll be all caught up. Otherwise, you won't have any idea what's going on…
Disclaimer:I don't own Digimon or X-Men Evolution. So sue me. No wait…don't.
The X-Evolution - The Rise of Dusk
Chapter 1: Barriers
Darkness swirled around him, brushing against him softly. It reminded him, somehow, of his mother…stroking his fevered brow with a soothingly cool rag, holding him close to warm the rest of him with her own body. It was pleasant, kind and loving, a soft peace he hadn't felt since he was very young…
A tongue of darkness swirled up and licked against his hand like a puppy greeting its owner on his way home from school. He played with it a moment, letting it slide up his arm and coil around the elbow mischievously.
Suddenly, though, the entire feel of his surroundings changed. The wind picked up as the darkness began to rush around him, faster and harder. The pressure started to grow, and the heat with it.
He took a step back, crying out slightly as a sharpened edge slashed his cheek, and another the edge of his throat. The shadows were becoming blades, swirling about and slashing at him, threatening to slice him to ribbons.
And above it all, a dark, creeping laughter echoed all around…
Kouichi Kimura, known to a selected few classmates as 'Yin', burst awake. He found himself sitting straight up in his bed, covers thrown to the floor and the fitted sheet nearly torn off the bed where he had writhed in the midst of his night terror. He gasped for breath, sweat running down his face as he stared into the depths of the vaguely moon-lit room.
Seconds later, the lamp turned on, revealing the worried face of his brother. Kouji Minamoto's blue eyes, two perfect mirror images of Yin's, were sharp and alert, on the watch for danger. He was raised up onto his elbow, a small ball of white-hot moonlight clutched in the opposite fist.
"What is it?" He whispered, drawing himself up to a slightly more defensive position. "What's wrong, Nii-san?"
Kouichi sighed, putting a hand to his chest and willing his over-excited heart to slow its rapid pounding. He closed his eyes a moment, blinking away the flashing white lights from his eyes.
"It's nothing, Kouji." He mumbled after a moment, opening his eyes again to glance at his brother warmly. "Just another…nightmare, that's all."
Kouji sighed as well, opening his hand to release the ball of light with a tiny, bright, yet harmless, flash. He crawled slowly out of bed, slipping his bare feet to the carpeted floor without so much as a breath. His sharp ears were searching the air for any indication that they had disturbed anyone else. The only sound was that of Takuya Kanbara, good ol' Flare, snoring away in the room adjunct to their own.
The long-haired boy moved silently across the room to slid onto the end of his brother's bed. Kouichi leaned against the headboard, pulling his knees in to wrap his arms around them loosely.
"…You wanna talk about it?" Kouji asked softly, his blue eyes shining with the compassion they usually hid from the rest of the world.
Kouichi shook his head wordlessly, staring at his bare toes. Kouji sighed, sliding a bit closer to touch his brother's hand. "They're getting worse, aren't they?" He asked, pressing onward. "And there are more of them…how long has this been going on?"
The question was rhetorical. They both knew exactly how long it had been happening: Two months, eighteen days. It had been that recently that a rouge battle with the Brotherhood of Mutants had caused Kouichi's second…accident…and since then, his sparse nightmares had grown more and more constant, until now, they came every single night.
Kouji wondered briefly if the Voice had anything to do with this. He had not told anyone about it…after mentioning it to the Professor at as a side, there hadn't been a word to anyone…not even Kouichi. If his gentle-hearted brother knew the things that Voice had said about him, everything about what it had planned…
Kouji really didn't want to think of what could happen.
Kouichi shifted his grip, turning to squeeze his brother's hand warmly. "…I think I can sleep now."
"…All right." Kouji gripped his hand kindly again, getting the hint and making his way back to his own bed. "G'night, Nii-chan…Sweet dreams."
( - ) ( - ) ( - )
Someone poked him in the ribs. Kouichi groaned softly, burying his head in his arms as they did it again. "Oi. Vake up. Vou're going to sleep through de bell!"
Kouichi snapped his head up and blinked listlessly at one Kurt Wagner. The blue-furred mutant blended in perfectly in his hologram, so it was blue eyes rather than golden ones that were blinking down at him.
"Are vou all right?" Kurt asked as his fellow 'exchange student' sat up and blinked at the blackboard in confusion.
Kouichi yawned widely, rubbing his eyes. "Yeah…I'm okay." He muttered, shaking his head slowly. "I'm just a little…tired."
"You don't look so well." Bobby Drake suddenly popped up from his own vigil in the back of the room. Kouichi found himself momentarily relieved that Kouji didn't share his third-period class. He loved his brother, but Kouji could be just a little over-protective when it came to Kouichi's weak immune system, and he didn't really feel like putting up with that right now.
"Vou are a little pale." Kurt added, looking like he was tempted to put a hand to the Japanese boy's forehead. "Maybe vou should go to de nurse, yah?"
Bobby put a hand to Kouichi's forehead before he could object. "You're feeling kinda hot, pal."
"You make ice. Everybody's hot to you." Kouichi mumbled, and put his head back down on the desk.
"Mm-hm…" Bobby raised blonde eyebrow, then raised his hand. "Hey, teach? Kimura's sick. Kurt 'n' me are taking him to the nurse."
"No…Guys, really, I don't need…" Kouichi muttered in protest, but was cut off as Kurt seized one arm and Bobby grabbed the other. His fellow mutants-in-hiding hauled him to his feet and led him out the door to the nurse's office.
"You haff to take better care of vourself, yah?" Kurt said brightly. Kouichi could easily imagine his pointed blue ears wiggling cheerfully behind his hologram.
"Great…" Kouichi groaned, putting a hand to his forehead. "How come everybody's gotta tell me that?"
( - ) ( - ) ( - )
The mansion and grounds that made up the Charles Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters was pleasant, but because of the true nature of its selective student body and their 'extracurricular activities', it was also very secure. High gates, motion detectors, and hidden laser cannons programmed to attack at the very presence of a registered enemy's DNA.
However, all of it was deactivated by a simple scan of DNA at the front gate. Kouichi held perfectly still as the blue beam washed over him. There was a small click as the gate opened, and a computerized voice chirped: "Welcome. Home. Yin."
The high school student mumbled slightly, making his way up the front walk and drive to the mansion. As he entered the main hall, a soft, feminine voice spoke. "Hello, Kouichi. What are you doing back?"
He smiled up the stairs at the tall, graceful African woman coming towards him. He bowed slightly to her, trying to keep his balance even as his head swam. "Konichiwa, Arashi-sama." He muttered, switching into Japanese as he did sometimes when he wasn't feeling so hot.
"Konichiwa to you, too." Ororo Monroe, a.k.a. Storm, smiled at the boy and patted his shoulder. "Now how about telling me what you're doing back? School doesn't end for another two hours."
Kouichi shifted and reached into his pocket, digging out a slightly crumpled pink note. "The nurse…sent me home."
"I see." Ororo examined the note a moment, taking a step forward to put a hand on his forehead. "Hm…You do seam a bit warm. Does your head hurt at…?"
"Storm?" The boy cut her off suddenly, looking up at the taller woman like a scared puppy. "Can I talk to the Professor?"
Ororo was taken aback for two reasons. One, it was a very odd request for the circumstances, and two, Kouichi was and had always been extremely polite, even for the Japanese, she'd never heard him interrupt anyone before.
"Well…I suppose." Her brow furled slightly in concern. "But Kouichi, whatever for?"
The boy looked up at her, his wide blue eyes moistened to the point of begging. "I think I need his help."
( - ) ( - ) ( - )
"I'm tellin' ya, Chuck, there's somethin' weird in the air." Logan muttered, pacing slightly in an anxious manner. "I don't know what it is, but something weird is going on…"
"I know precisely what you mean." Charles Xavier sighed, his dark eyes focused out the window on the grounds of his Institute. "There is an…odd aura gathering. Your instincts are sharp, Logan, that's how you can feel it. I wouldn't be surprised if a few of the students can sense it as well."
He glanced towards the door suddenly, and a moment later a warm smile slide over his face as he turned away from the window. "Excuse me, Logan, but I believe we're about to have a visitor."
Seconds later, there was a sharp, rapid knock, followed by a feminine voice. "Professor?"
"Come in, Storm." The man called warmly. "Both of you. Come on."
The door opened. Ororo quietly ushered in a rather distressed-looking Kouichi, who was staring at the carpeted floor nervously. Storm kept one hand on his shoulder supportively.
"Have a seat." Xavier motioned to a chair in front of his desk. The boy made his way over, bowing politely to Logan (who bowed slightly at the waist himself out of custom) before he sank down into the chair.
The gears of Professor X's motorized wheel chair whirred as he moved to face Yin with a kind smile. "Now then. What can I do for you, Kouichi?"
The boy shifted uneasily a moment before he spoke. "Professor…can you…look inside my mind?"
Xavier raised an eyebrow curiously. "Of course. You have experienced it before. But why would you ask?"
"I think…" The boy hesitated a moment before looking up somewhat desperately. "I think there's someone inside my head."
Logan and Ororo were instantly on alert, the feral man's body tensing like a coiled spring. The Professor remained calm, though concerned nonetheless. "What would make you think that, Kouichi?"
"I keep…hearing voices." Yin's arms shook slightly, pulling in to wrap around himself as though cold. "One voice, actually. Laughing at me…at Kouji and the others. He…it…talks to me, especially at night. And I've been having these terrible…awful dreams…"
He fell silent, hugging himself loosely. The Professor shared a worried glance with Ororo, then sighed.
"…All right then." He whispered, lifting his hands to rest his fingers lightly on the sides of Kouichi's head. "Just relax…"
The boy's eyes slid closed, his breathing slowing into a relaxing meditation pattern as the Professor reached out to tickle the edge of his consciousness, slowly and gently pushing his way deeper.
After a long while, Kouichi's breathing quickened and sweat began to trickle down his face. As Ororo watched, his closed eyes clenched together tightly, gasping and squirming as though frightened. "Professor…"
"I know, Storm." The man muttered. A trickle of sweat rolled down the side of his bald head, his own eyes closing in concentration. "I've found it…it won't be much longer now."
Kouichi's breathing became harsher, more ragged, his face more flushed, his fingers gripping the arm rest so tightly that his knuckles were white. Suddenly, he wrenched his head back with a cry as the Professor cut off the connection. For a moment he stared at the man, wide-eyed, then a small smile slid over his face seconds before he slumped.
"Kouichi!" Storm exclaimed, diving forward to see if the boy was all right. She found him physically unharmed, but completely unconscious.
"He's all right, Storm." The Professor sighed, mopping his own brow with a white handkerchief. "Just sleeping…It will take a short time for his mind to recover. Logan, if you would please take him to his room? I believe he could use the rest."
Wolverine shrugged and grunted, making his way over to the chair. He scooped the limp form into his arms and, after exchanging a knowing gaze with Charles, exited the room.
Ororo turned to the Professor, momentarily feeling oddly affronted. After her nephew, Evan, Yin was probably her favorite student at the Institute. His kind, caring nature made the mother in her delight, which explained when she currently felt as though the Professor had harmed one of her own.
"What did you do, Professor?"
Xavier sighed. "I erected a barrier within his mind. A mental blocker."
Ororo relaxed, pacified. "To keep the intruder out." She muttered in understanding. Of course, the Professor would never allow anything to harm one of his charges…
"No. To keep it in."
Red warning flags popped up in Storm's mind. "Keep it in?"
"Yes." The Professor looked…rather disturbed. "As I searched his mind, I discovered an…an alternate consciousness. Like a parasite, a mind that had permanently grafted itself to Kouichi's personality."
Ororo frowned worriedly. "But why contain it? If this is that…thing that Yang mentioned, we have to get it out of him! Don't tell me you don't have the power."
"Oh, I have the power." Charles looked at her quite seriously. "But the stress and pain of exhuming such a thing would make it impossible. If his mind didn't collapse from the tear…it would most certainly drive him utterly insane."
Storm felt a slight pang, followed by a wave of understanding. "…I see." She sighed, putting a relieved hand to her heart. "So you erected a barrier to keep…whatever it is…from getting out again."
"Indeed." The Professor smiled, nodding to the door. The woman nodded warmly and hurried to open it so she could wheel him out of the office. "Let us hope it will be enough…"
Arashi-sama - 'Arashi' means storm in Japanese. '-sama' is a highly respectful ending. In other words, for Kouichi to call Storm 'Arashi-sama' means that he respects her very much. Perhaps even more than the Professor.