Heh, I'm back with another one-shot! This time though, Kurei's not the main character. Now, I know that in the manga, we are shown that Kurei does care about Neon (especially in that enlightening volume 17) but, I chose to not mention that fact here. Heh…and I chose to include my second favourite character in this one-shot…and I hope I did his character well!
Well, that's about it. I hope you enjoy this!
Disclaimer: I own 'Flame of Recca' – I really do. OK, fine, I don't. But I do own Kurei, and that's TRUE. (Uh, well, no, it's not true…but anyway…)
Someone Does Care:
He hummed to himself as he walked down the corridors of the Uruha Mansion, the usual cheeky grin on his face and, as was even more usual, the latter part of his hat shielding his eyes from view. Even though his clothing may seem unusual, it was nothing compared to the large object that he carried in his hands. The object was bigger than him and was covered by an equally large cloth – shielding it from view. It seemed like the 'shielding things from view' effect was something that the dark-haired man really liked.
Still humming, he walked past an opened room and stopped. Normally he would just have continued walking on, not being the type to find an opened room interesting. It was the flash of orange hair that he had seen in the room that made him stop. His grin widened as he saw the seated figure of the orange-haired lady who had her back to him. Changing his course, he walked into the room knowing that in the second that it took for her to sense his presence, she would kick him out of the room, accompanied by a couple of the swear words she had probably picked up from the opponents she had faced during the various Urabutousatsujin tournaments.
This was why he was rather surprised when she didn't turn around with a scowl on her face as he entered the room. Curious, and with the grin still on his face, he continued walking forward until he was standing right beside her.
"…What do you want?" He glanced down at her for a brief second, before choosing to stare at the windows in front of him instead. Was it just him or did she sound as though she had been crying?
"To brighten up your day with my wonderful presence!" he promptly replied, cheerful as always. His ears perked up for any sign of a sigh, a groan, a moan or a muffled swear-word…but they heard none. Man…this is getting weirder by the second…
"What can I say? At least someone ca – " the orange-haired lady checked herself and stopped in mid-sentence, refusing to allow her mouth to finish the sentence. Not seeming to care or realize that she was acting strange, she bowed her head to stare at her hands that were on her lap, trying to control the emotion that was whirling inside her and the pain that was flashing across her face and head.
"At least someone cares?" questioned the dark-haired man standing beside her, still staring at the windows and unconsciously observing the bright light leaking into the room from them. "Why would you say that?" He grinned, "I mean, you knew that no-one really cared about you…but you never wanted to admit it, so why – " He tore his gaze away from the windows, startled, when he felt the strong flicker in his companion's life-force.
Neon had turned her head sharply to look up at him, alarming the dark-haired man with her bloodied and wounded face…and the liquid that was quickly filling up her blue-eyes.
"Yes, thank-you!" she hissed, not caring that moving her mouth caused her wounds to scream in pain even more, "I know that no-one cares about me! …And I sure as hell got proof of that today. Satisfied? Now that you know you've been right all along? Are you satisfied that no-one does care? Not even – not even…" She broke off, her mind not allowing her to say his name. Hurt and ashamed by her behaviour, she stood up hurriedly, and walked towards the windows, choosing to gaze outside at the garden than look at her companion.
The dark-haired man was still staring at where she had been seated on the bed, trying to let what had just happened sink into his brain. When it did…all he could do was tighten his grip on the covered staff-like object that he carried around with him. Turning his attention back to the orange-haired lady who was now standing with her back to him, he cleared his throat.
"Did you…by any chance run into…Recca-han?" he asked. She didn't reply. "Or anyone else in the Hokage? Or…anyone taking part in the Urabutousatsujin?" She still didn't reply, causing him to wonder what had happened to the usually fiery member of the Jyushinshuu. "…Neon-han, what happened?"
"Why would you care?" mumbled Neon, ignoring the tears that were now rolling down her face.
"What happened?" questioned her companion, taking a step forward and stopping when she stiffened. "Neon-han, I thought you were the one who went around saying that we loyal Jyushinshuu should always be fairly honest with each other if we wanted to serve Kurei-han well – " the dark-haired man was not stupid; so, when he sensed another flicker in Neon's life-force when he said their 'leader's' name, he knew what was going on. "…What did Kurei-han do?"
Neon blinked furiously, trying to clear her vision. She should have known that the dark-haired man wasn't a member of the Jyushinshuu for nothing. She should have been more careful – she didn't want to be called weak. "He didn't do anything…" she mumbled, after a while, "Really," she added, almost sensing the disbelieving expression that would be on his face. "It…it was just my fault."
"Your fault?" The dark-haired man relaxed somewhat, "What did you do now?" he asked, the teasing note entering his voice again. "Did you destroy the kitchen in an attempt to – "
" – I told Hanabishi Recca about Kurenai-sama." All thought of teasing Neon vanished from her companion's head as he listened to her. Heaving a huge sigh, he sat down on her bed, feeling a little weak.
"Neon-han, what on earth possessed you to do that?" he asked, a minute or two later, "I mean…Recca-han?"
"I know I shouldn't have, Joker!" snapped Neon, "But someone had to tell him and the rest of his team that – that Kurei-sama is not as evil and cold-hearted as they depict him to be!" She ignored the searing pain in her head, "Someone had to explain to them why we were all so loyal to Kurei-sama! People should know that they shouldn't judge Kurei-sama by his actions now! It's not his fault that all of this happened." Neon paused, breathing heavily – much to her surprise. She hadn't expected to get that worked up.
Joker stared at her, watching as she leant forward, leaning against the window-sill. "OK, I understand that…" he said softly, "But…where did you get those injuries from?" There was an uneasy pause. "I mean…unless Recca-han decided to suddenly beat you up after hearing about Kurei-han, I can't think of where you could have – "
" – Kurei-sama…knew what I did and – and he…punished me…" was the whispered reply that he got from a trembling Neon. Joker inhaled a quick breath, shaking his head as he did so. He knew – heck, so did practically the whole world – how much Neon loved the ever-so-kind-and-considerate leader of the Uruha. She had even joined the Uruha because of him, and her loyalty towards him was something that he knew would never die out. It was only natural that she should be this…upset after such a series of events.
"I don't get it, Joker…" said Neon, softly, interrupting his thoughts, "I – I do everything I possibly can to please him…I face and defeat my opponents…and I've only probably failed him when I didn't defeat Hokage," she paused, "all I was doing was looking out for him – I mean, we all…we all know that Kurei-sama really is a good-hearted person, and that what he's gone through has just turned him into a cold-blooded killing machine…but – "
Joker put his covered 'staff' down with a sigh and scratched the back of his head as he stood up, hearing the choked sob. A worked-up, furious, merciless, somewhat tomboyish Neon was something he knew really well how to handle (seeing as how he was usually the one who got her worked-up, ferocious, merciless and into that somewhat tomboyish mood most of the time) but this Neon, crying, sad, almost heart-broken…this was a side of the lady he was pretty sure that no-one had seen and that he didn't know what to do with.
"I – I just…I've never – I – " Neon turned around when she felt the weight of his hand on her shoulder. Her dull, saddened blue-eyes scanned her companion's face and, for the briefest of seconds, caught sight of his eyes. And yet, the second was too brief for her to make out the colour of the bright orbs that she saw, before he lowered his head. When he next looked up, his eyes were hidden once more. "J-Joker…" mumbled Neon, as Joker reached out and turned her around fully, before pulling her gently towards him.
Aki wiped the tears off her face, furious with herself for crying. But really, it wasn't her fault. She had heard her sister talk about Kurei-sama…and the pain that she went through of trying to please him only to be beaten up by him – that had caused her to start crying quietly. It wasn't every day that the Jyushinshuu's Neon got this emotional and showed her true feelings.
She was snapped out of her thoughts when Miki, who had been peering through the opened doorway, nudged her hard in her side. Biting back a yelp of pain, she shot Miki a glare, only to see Miki nod at the door. Puzzled, she leaned forward and peered into the room once more. Her eyes widened in surprise as she saw her sister resting in the embrace of the one man who she almost always thought of murdering; Joker.
Stunned, she exchanged glances with her teammate, to see that she was looking as stunned as she was. They both turned back to the scene in the room, the same thought on their minds. Was this the beginning of a change in Neon and Joker's relationship with each other?
The two assassins of the Jyushinshuu stayed that way for a few minutes; Neon with her head buried in Joker's black and white clad chest and Joker with one arm wrapped around Neon and with the other comfortingly placed on her head. Neon, her face buried in Joker's chest, felt a tear trickle down her cheek as she thought about her friend and his comforting gesture. There she had been, moaning about how no-one cared about her…when the one person who did had been right beside her all the time. Yes, he was annoying with his cheeky fanged-grin and with his cheekier comments…but he cared. He cared. And to her, who had been neglected by the one she cared for…this meant a lot. Another tear rolled down her cheek before common-sense kicked in as did the fresh pain in her injuries, causing her to pull back, hoping she hadn't stained his outfit with blood from her injuries.
"…Don't…" muttered Joker, reaching out and wiping the tears off his suddenly vulnerable companion, "It's not worth it." He cocked his head to the side, "And it's so not you." Neon shook her head inwardly, wincing as she felt the searing pain in her head and on her face once more.
"Ouch…" she hissed, clutching her head. Joker steadied her, before peering at her face.
"Ouch is right," he said, "You'll need quite a bit of bandages for those…" He looked around the room, "Do you happen to have any bandages here?" Neon shook her head, again touched by his attitude.
"Miki and Aki should have some…I'll get it from them later…" she said, softly. There was a short silence in the room after this. As Neon watched her dark-haired companion, she couldn't help but smile. Joker noticed this and looked curiously at her. "…Joker, I…just want to say – "
" – Neon? Joker?" The two team-mates turned towards the doorway to see the familiar dark-haired ninja standing there, looking surprised.
"Raiha – "
"Neon, what happened? What's going on? And…why were Miki and Aki peeking into this room before scuttling away when I saw them?" asked Raiha, confused. He was even more confused as to how and why Neon was actually in the same room with a still-breathing Joker. From what he knew of their relationship, Neon was never able to stay in the same room as Joker without wanting to physically hurt him in some way or the other. Neon, flushing for no reason at all, took a step away from Joker, not really sure as to why she did that. Seeing this, Joker flashed her a grin, before waving cheerfully at Raiha.
"Nothing's going on Raiha-han," he said, cheerfully, "Except for the fact that Neon-han seems to be trying to seduce me…"
"What!" exclaimed Neon, looking up at him as he winked at her.
"Now Neon-han, there's no need to hide it; Raiha-han's a good person. He won't tell anyone that you were trying to seduce me," said Joker. Raiha watched, amused, as Neon's face changed from being very pale, to pink, and then to a colour that vaguely resembled a dark shade of purple.
"Neon-han, such insults! Come on, forget that Raiha-han's here…finish what you were going to do…" said Joker, grinning cheekily as he lowered his face towards hers. That, unfortunately, was the last straw for Neon.
A few swear-words, loud noises and a yelp later, Neon gave the pile on the floor that was Joker a last smoldering glare before walking towards Raiha, who had turned from being amused to looking worried, once he caught sight of Neon's injuries.
"Neon what – "
" – I need to get all of this bandaged, Raiha…would you care to come with me?" asked Neon, interrupting him. If he was startled, he didn't show it.
"Hai…" he said, looking at Joker once more, before following Neon outside. He guessed, from the colour of his companion's face, that something was wrong with her and decided not to ask her what had happened; she would tell him if she wanted to. And he wasn't going to be nosey and ask her to tell him until she felt like it.
Miki and Aki breathed signs of relief as they watched Neon and Raiha walk off. "Do you think that Onesan will be angry with us for spying on her?" asked Aki, rather worried. Miki shook her head slowly.
"No," she said, "I mean, we weren't really spying…we were just…looking out for her…" Aki grinned, before peering into the room again.
"Well," she said, shaking her head, "It looks like their relationship hasn't changed…" Miki, seeing Joker still lying on the ground, sighed heavily.
"So much for hoping that it would change, ne?" she muttered, "Come on, let's go. We'll be in trouble if we're caught here again…"
"True…" said Aki, and, with a last look inside the room, the two girls walked off, not seeing Joker stand up and dust his clothes…and not seeing the small smile that stayed on his face for a second, before being replaced by his trademark fanged grin.
Well…that was it. I hope it was OK (and yes, Joker IS my second favourite character and I think it's real pity that he ends up…dying). Heh, reviews will be gladly welcome!