Disclaimer: Nope, don't own Ryuusei no Rockman.
Screams of a wailing infant. The stench of rancid garbage. A thin blanket between his skin and the cold air. Such were his first memories. Others would wish to toss these out with the junk, but they were his past. It was his identity.
Tsukasa's foot hit an aluminum can, rattling the stillness. As he scanned the familiar junkyard, he walked further into the rubble. So many would call this useless junk, but these discarded materials had saved his life. He paused before one large pile. Closing his eyes, Tsukasa inhaled the odor of rotting metal. A wry smile curled his lips. In this place of the forgotten, he was just another piece of discarded trash.
He sat down on a worn beach chair, and pulled off his backpack. After he unzipped the front, Tsukasa reached in and extracted a small blanket. Unfolding the coarse material, he fingered the faded embroidery in the corner. 'Tsukasa';the origin of his name. He looked down. Why would people spend the time and effort to give him a name to then leave him in a pile of garbage? Was he nothing to them?
Sighing, he tucked the cloth back into the bag, ambled around the heap, and approached a small, cardboard lean-to. He dropped his backpack on a lop-sided table. Adjusting the box beneath the broken leg, Tsukasa leveled the surface. A cool breeze played with the layers of his long green hair. Grabbing a book from the pack, he sat down in a box, and thumbed through to the assigned page. Homework was never a bore in this quiet place.
He read for a half-an-hour, then returned the textbook to his pack, took out a notebook and pencil. Twirling the pencil with his fingers, Tsukasa reviewed the math problems. He bit his lip and began to solve. The stink did not bother him. In fact, it was refreshingly familiar, and helped his concentrate.
After placing the notebook back in its pocket, he grabbed another green notebook, and dropped it on the wooden table next to his pencil. Furrowing his brow, Tsukasa shuffled through the contents of his pack. Where was his other textbook?
Tsukasa paused. He must have left it in the library. He heaved a sigh, and gathered his things into the pack, zipped it up, and tucked it behind the box. Grabbing his Wave Scanner from the table, he walked out of the small hideaway. He stuck in the earphones, and let the device hang into front of his chest. He smiled. A quiet song for a peaceful day.
"How stupid." The mocking voice echoed in the empty junkyard.
Frowning, Tsukasa paused.
"Why do you bother with such tedious things?"
He turned. "Is someone there?"
No one answered. Tsukasa scanned the area, then increased the volume of his music, and continued around the corner, and down the street.
Tsukasa walked into the school library. It was a good thing he did homework directly after class ended, or it might have been too late. He weaved through the bookcase to the reading area in the back. Skimming the area, he headed for a group of tables. There it was. He smiled and scooped up the history book. Tucking it under the crook of his arm, Tsukasa turned out of a back door, and strode down the hall.
As he strolled past the door marked 'Planetarium', a voiced exclaimed from within, "Sugoi!"
Tsukasa paused. He had only been in the planetarium once or twice. Had it been updated? He turned the knob and slid open the door. Peering in, he saw a brown-haired boy pressing buttons on the screen of his blue Transer.
Tsukasa smiled, and entered, closing the door. "Working hard, Subaru-kun?"
The boy started, then whipped around. He sighed. "Oh, it's you, Tsukasa-kun."
Tsukasa tilted his head. "Is that a problem?"
"Oh no, I was just…" Subaru leaned forward and whispered, "Imputing some information. The data hasn't been updated for a while."
Smiling, Tsukasa gazed at the hologram. "You don't need to be scared, I won't say anything."
Subaru rubbed the back of his head. "Arigatoh."
Tsukasa walked forward, placed his on his hips, and awed. "Beautiful, isn't it? Space holds so many wonders."
"Yeah, it's glorious."
Looking over at Subaru, Tsukasa smiled. "You know, I always thought of the space as a place of wonder. It's like a vastness full of peace."
"It's not true, though." A masculine voice interjected.
Tsukasa furrowed his brow. "Who was that?"
"Heh, heh… nobody." Subaru smiled wryly. He looked back at his Transer, and gasped. "Oh, I've been here too long! I was supposed to go to visit Amchi-san at Amaken this afternoon."
"Oh, well, do you want me to close this up so you can go?"
"I have it." Subaru pressed a few buttons. The hologram dissipated and the house lights filled the room. He turned to Tsukasa. "Hey, do you want to come with me? You can learn so much about space there."
"Uh," Tsukasa eyed his book, "sure. I just need to put my book back with my stuff…"
"Okay." Subaru grabbed his backpack from the floor.
"My books aren't here." Tsukasa warned. "They're… somewhere else."
Subaru grinned. "That's okay, I'll go with you." He noticed Tsukasa's thin mouth. "If that's okay…"
"Oh, no, it's fine." He turned out the door. "Just follow me."
Subaru nodded, and they exited the building.
"So… where are we going?" Subaru plodded beside Tsukasa.
"A secret place."
Sticking his hands in his pockets, Subaru frowned. "Secret?"
Tsukasa looked over at him. "Well, it's just a little hideout I have. I have two places where I'll do homework."
Tsukasa looked away. Was this smart? Showing Subaru his place might raise questions he did not want to answer. However, objecting now would only rouse unwanted suspicion. He peered at his friend out of the corner of his eye. Besides, there was something about Subaru. He could trust him.
"Oh, right here."
They rounded a corner, and approached the entrance gate of the city dump.
Subaru furrowed his brow. "The dump?"
"Yeah, I'll show you."
Tsukasa crawled through a hole in the fence, Subaru hesitantly in tow. They weaved their way through the piles of discarded items.
"I know it's weird…" Tsukasa spoke over his shoulder. "But I find this place somewhat peaceful."
Subaru shrugged. "We all have our preferences."
Tsukasa pointed to a large heap. "It's just behind there. I have a little place for myself."
"What makes it so…?"
Subaru's voice faded as they rounded the pile. A group of older boys crowded around the cardboard lean-to a few yards ahead of them. Tsukasa and Subaru paused. One boy with dark sunglasses grabbed his white backpack and began to search through the contents. Tsukasa bit his lip. Why were they here?
Turning toward Subaru, he whispered, "We should go, before they-" he stopped short when one of the boys kicked the box from under the broken table leg. It toppled and several of the fragile knickknacks Tsukasa had collected shattered on the ground.
"Hey!" He rushed forward before Subaru could catch him. "Stop that."
The group faced him, and Tsukasa immediately regretted his haste. A boy with ruffled brown hair grinned.
"What do we have here?"
Several boys chuckled. Tsukasa felt a hand on his shoulder.
"We should leave."
They spun around. Two other boys towered behind them. Tsukasa turned. The group had encircled them. The boy who had been looking through his backpack sauntered forward.
"Why should we stop?"
"I… those are…" Tsukasa cowered. "Those are my things. Please leave them alone."
" 'Please?'" he scoffed. "What pretty language. And what will ya do if we don't?"
He gave Tsukasa a shove. Stumbling back, he bumped into his friend. Subaru backed away, but was pushed back toward the center. They gazed around the circle of sneering faces. Six older boys against two younger; Subaru and Tsukasa weren't leaving soon. As the boy in the sunglasses leaned over him, Tsukasa cringed. It had been a mistake to come.
"Hey," The boy peered over the rim of his shades. "I know you."
The bushy-haired boy looked over. Straightening he laughed, "Well if it ain't the Garbage Boy!"
A chuckled rippled through the circle, and Tsukasa scowled.
The boy grinned. "Yer just who we was talkin' 'bout."
After pulling something from Tsukasa's bag, the leader tossed something through the air to another boy. He unfolded the cloth and waved it.
"You want this?"
Tsukasa dove for the blanket, but the boy spun away, and tossed it to another. Passing several objects from his pack, the group taunted Tsukasa with what they knew was precious to him.
"You're a baby, Garbage Boy!" one boy mocked, puckering his lips. "You still want yer blankie."
"Please give it back…" Tsukasa whispered.
The leader laughed. "Well, since you asked so nicely… we'll give it all back." He raised one of Tsukasa's books in the air. "Take back your trash, Garbage Boy!"
The boys pelted Tsukasa with his belongings, and he fell to the ground beneath the shower. They grabbed more junk from the heap, and continued to bombard him. Tsukasa threw up his arms to protect his head. It didn't matter how many times they attacked him, they never seemed to be satisfied.
"Yamero!" Subaru rushed toward the leader. "Leave him alone."
He narrowed his eyes. "I'm not interested in you."
The leader struck Subaru across the cheek. Cringing, he fell back, and his head smacked the dirt.
"Subaru-kun!" Tsukasa yelled, but his friend did not rise.
The bombardment ceased. Tsukasa lowered his bruised arms, and rubbed his aching abdomen. Looking up, he saw the leader boy saunter forward, and tower above. A smirk curled his lips.
"We've warned you countless times, Boy. You asked for it."
Tsukasa narrowed his eyes. "It's not your junkyard, Mizu."
His arm shot down towards Tsukasa's chest, and Mizu grasped his jacket. Dragging him up, he grinned, "I own everything in this dump. Every single piece of trash is mine," he jabbed Tsukasa's shoulder with his forefinger, "including you!"
"I don't belong to anyone…"
Mizu slammed his fist into Tsukasa's stomach. "You know, children are supposed to respect their elders.
The wind fled Tsukasa's lungs, and he coughed to regain his breath. The circle of bullies laughed. As the air slowly returned, Tsukasa felt a great heaviness tug at his mind. The overwhelming pressure pushed his consciousness back until it felt as if he had been separated from his body. The pain faded, and his vision blurred.
"If you don't want to be treated like the garbage you are," the brown-haired boy yelled, "don't come back."
They chuckled. Mizu turned back to Tsukasa's face, the expression concealed by his large green bangs.
"What's it gonna be, kid?"
"You leave," he responded in a low tone.
Mizu narrowed his eyes. "What's that?"
Tsukasa suddenly gripped the boy's wrist, and squeezed. Planting his feet on the ground, he ripped Mizu's hand from his shirt, and punched him in the mouth. As their leader staggered back, the group gawked.
Mizu wiped his bloody lip with the back of his hand. "How dare you…!"
Tsukasa grinned. "I'm your elder, Mizu."
Gritting his teeth, the boy swung at Tsukasa, but he deftly caught the fist in his palm. Mizu stared. His eyebrow corked, Tsukasa brought his free hand under, and socked the boy in the ribs, thrusting him back. He lay senseless, sprawled on his back.
"Kisama!" The brown-haired boy rushed forward, and his fist shot toward Tsukasa's face. However, he easily sidestepped him. Grabbing the boy's wrist has he passed, Tsukasa twisted his arm around behind his back. The boy cried out.
"You're too hasty, Yukomo."
He smacked the back of his head, and the boy fell onto the pavement, shaking. Tsukasa faced the remaining four. "Who's next?"
"What the heck….?" The exclamation circled, but no one dared accept Tsukasa's challenge. Two boys supported their fallen comrades, and rushed out of the yard.
One boy called over his shoulder, "That was a mistake, Garbage Boy!"
Tsukasa spat as they disappeared around the corner. He ambled to the soiled blanket, and picked it up. Then he looked away, and tossed it back on the ground with a scoff. Standing over Subaru's crumpled body, Tsukasa muttered, "Baka…"
Tsukasa's eyes widened and he froze. The heaviness suddenly lifted, and he stumbled back. The pain coursed his bruised body, and he fell forward onto the ground beside his friend.
Author's Note: Installment one of two. Hope you all enjoy!