The Day After
Yet Another Day
Ch 1: The First Day After
Neku woke up with a strange sense of foreboding. Yawning as he tried to blink his eyes into focus, he languished briefly in the disorienting warmth of his sheets before clumsily groping his bedside table for his digital alarm clock. He squinted at it thoughtfully and noticed that it wasn't beeping. As his vision cleared, the fuzzy glowing smears became legible and informed him that it was currently 4:01 AM.
Baffled as to why he was even conscious, Neku set the clock back down with a muffled thud, too tired to care that he had almost swept his precious headphones to the ground as well. He rolled over to with the intent to go right back to sleep, when his gaze flitted pass the window. And he bolted right up in bed in abject horror, cursing a jumbled string of incomprehensible expletives.
"What the—of all the—you—what in the name of logic are you all doing?!" he demanded off the four grinning faces that peered at him from the other side of his window. Of his bedroom which was located five stories above very hard concrete.
All of the faces began to excitedly answer him at once, muffled by the glass and Neku scrambled out of bed as fast as he could to unlatch his balcony door before his unexpected and very much unwanted visitors could tear down the transparent barrier.
"Finally! You sleep like a damn log!" exclaimed someone at the back of the eager crowd that was spilling past him into the room.
"—and you turned off your cell phone, or we would have called you," said an apologetic Shiki, unaware of the fact that Neku had missed the first half of her explanation and that he was far more concerned about something else. His guests were now noisily exploring his very private sanctuary. Guests that he thought he would never have to see again after the previous day.
Feeling dazed and rather panicked, Neku took a deep breath to calm himself. When that didn't work, he took several more.
As soon as he couldn't feel his eyelid twitching, he spoke, pointedly, glaring. "What were you doing on my balcony?"
The Crayon Warriors stopped their chattering and perusing of Neku's room to grin at him indulgingly.
"We come to get you, 'cuz you're too slow!" laughed Beat, as if Neku had asked an unreasonable question. "Nice junk ya got here!" he added, tossing Neku's CD collection that he had been flipping through onto his bed. Neku gaped at him.
"Why," he tried again, "are you coming to get me? And how do you know where I live?" It was Shuto who spoke up exuberantly to answer him.
"I told you yesterday, Black 'n' Blue: our meeting was dictated by the PROPHESIES! Small details like not knowing where you live could never have prevented our reunion!" he declared. Neku wished feverishly that his parents would wake up and save him, despite how much that would pain him. It was best to just go with the flow, for now. Again. His headache would only get worse if he tried to argue with someone who was on a perpetual high.
"Then can you at least tell me how you got onto my balcony?" he moaned, covering his face. A deviously amused giggle answered him. Sliding his fingers off his eyes, Neku's vision was assaulted by Joshua's smug countenance as he flicked his pretty locks out of his eyes.
"How else, silly? We climbed." Neku flinched back as if electrocuted.
"W-Whaaaaaaat?!" There was momentary silence before Shiki, Beat and Shuto guffawed at some private joke that Neku was completely left out of.
"What he means is that, the nice old lady living next door let us into her apartment and we scaled the ledge over," said Shiki, feeling sorry for him.
"How did you get that crazy bat to do that?!" Said old bat had always thrown things at him as he dashed by her door in the mornings.
"That's not very nice, Black 'n' Blue," chided Joshua, "you should really respect your elders." A sudden flash of intuition informed Neku that it was all Joshua's fault.
"Yeah! Pink's totally right! You should respect the old lady!" chimed Shuto and Beat together like a sort of bizarre and terrifying echo.
"By the way," said Joshua all of a sudden, "nice skivvies." Neku then realized that he had worn only boxers to bed.
"Neku!" exclaimed Shiki in surprise as he barreled past her and shut himself in the conjoined bathroom with a mighty slam.
After several minutes with muffled banging, several apologies and Shiki coaxing him out by handing him his clothes through the slight gap made by the bathroom door, Neku was sitting fully dressed on his bed with his fellow Warriors assembled around him.
"Let's do this again. Why are you here?" asked Neku, still flushed with mortification.
"They've just announced the National Tin Pin Tournament!!" shrieked Shuto, smacking his fist into his hand to emphasize each syllable. Neku was suddenly wide awake. The National Tin Pin Tournament? He had completely forgotten that it was that time again. His fingers twitched in anticipation. Then he paused.
"But why did you have to come here at four in the morning to tell me this?" he questioned, infinitely suspicious.
"That, Black 'n' Blue," Neku cringed at his codename, "is because this year the organizers have stipulated that this year's tournament is to be a team effort," explained Joshua, snapping his fingers.
Team effort? The words danced ominously in his head. "Team effort?" he repeated aloud.
"That's righ', yo!" roared a delighted Beat, heartily cuffing poor Neku's shoulder so hard that he stumbled. "Welcome to this yer's championship team, The Kindred Spirits!"
"Dear god," Neku mumbled tiredly at the sky, "please let today be very, very short. Amen."