Rating: PG-13 for now
Warnings: Spoilers for end of the game – quite possibly major spoilers for the secret reports
Summary: Unable to govern his death, he could only watch his proxy fade, his soul lingering and life to be born anew. Reincarnation fic.
Notes: Co-written with feverishlove.
Winter was upon Shibuya, covering the city and streets with a fine layer of snow and blanketing it with temperatures much too cold to stay outside and play in. It was days like these that Joshua would appear at Neku's side after he got home from school, content with chatting and staying inside the warm apartment rather than walking down the freezing streets to get to the mall or arcade – or meet up with Kita to try a new crepe stand that opened up near 104, which was the phone call the brunet received not a few minutes ago and politely declined.
"Good afternoon!" Joshua chimed politely, smiling with enthusiasm as Neku's mom answered the front door. The silver-haired youth (who now appeared to be about seventeen, just slightly older than his companion) had learned to create a replica of Neku's school uniform that he would wear over a number of times, mainly to avoid any suspicion that he actually is who he said he was those few years ago when he met Mr. and Mrs. Sakuraba for the first time (at least, according to them). He would get teased by Neku's mom from time to time though, since no matter how cold it got, Joshua would wear the summer uniform – a short sleeve white button up with a blue tie, instead of the long sleeved version. He hated confining material, so he chalked it up to sensitive skin and preferred to wear a heavier jacket when the weather turned too cold.
"Hello Joshua-Kun," Tsuki Sakuraba opened the door for the young teenage boy, smiling brightly. "Neku's in his room playing video games. I was about to make some snacks for him, would you like some?"
"That sounds great," Joshua nodded politely, taking his oversized dark blue windbreaker off and hanging it with the rest of the coats by the door. "It's so cold outside… it'd be great to have something warm."
"I'll bring some hot tea then – is Jasmine fine?" Tsuki asked as Joshua took his shoes off, slipping on a pair of house slippers.
"I love anything you make, mom," The silver-haired boy grinned, earning a friendly laugh and a nod from Neku's mother. He walked down the hall and opened up the brunet's bedroom door with a bright smile. "Neku!"
Neku, who was now sixteen and a half, was used to Joshua's intrusions, but today he wasn't expecting it. He had been playing horror games all day (a hobby that did not die with age), and now was jumping at the slightest noise. The red-head, who had been staring rather intently at the screen, jumped a few inches up into the air, off his bed. He yelped in surprise and looked to the now opened door and the face of Joshua. A frown appeared as he dropped his controller, thoroughly embarrassed.
"Don't surprise me like that," he murmured and carefully recollected his Playstation controller and averted his gaze, a soft tinge of red spreading across his face.
Still playing horror games I take it?" Joshua laughed, walking over to the bed and laid down with a 'thwump' beside the brunet, sprawled out on his stomach as he propped his chin up with his hands. "Dunno why you like them so much - they always make you jumpy and scared." There had been more than a few occasions where the Composer would appear - through something normal like a door, or otherwise- and the poor boy would nearly wet himself. Not to mention that time a few weeks ago Joshua decided to visit later at night, only to find Neku was already asleep... and, being the sketchy decision maker he always had been, decided to snuggle up with the teen under the covers, smiling like a nut.
Needless to say, his ear drums burst when he awoke in the morning, Neku screaming something about zombies and a camera.
I enjoy the suspense," Neku explained as he resumed his game, leaning back against the headboard casually. "It's fun, sometimes, to be scared by the unexpected. You know, startled. Then you look back and laugh your ass off..." He trailed off as his concentration returned to his game, tongue slightly sticking out between his pursed lips as he wore a determined expression through and through.
Oh yes, hysterical. Joshua still laughed about it - probably more than Neku did. The Composer's eyebrow raised as the teen at his side drifted off into his own little world again, completely entranced by the gore and bloodfest that was going on in the TV. Hm.
"Neku" Joshua breathed quietly in quite possibly the creepiest otherworldly voice he'd ever used, lips dangerously close to the brunet's ear.
Neku tensed and quickly pressed the triangle button before he did anything stupid in the game. He glanced at Joshua out of the corner of his eyes before he lifted his own slim brow. "Yes?..."
"... Hmph. You're no fun." The silver-haired teen replied with a pout. "I thought I would have gotten a scream from that at least."
Neku rolled his eyes. "You're gonna have to try harder," he retorted and pressed the button a second time before engulfing himself back into the gameworld.
Joshua frowned in defeat, trying to think of some other way to get a good scare out of his friend. He could do something drastic like make a life-sized illusion of one of those hideous... things that was in his game - but where was the challenge in that?
"I brought some snacks," Tsuki called in a sweet tone, opening the door and carrying in a tray with some rice crackers and cookies, along with two cups of hot tea.
Neku, once again, sprang up into the air, crashing down in a hurry. His body fell haphazardly across Joshua's, his torso and limbs sprawled out across the older as he attempted to regulate his breathing. He really needed to make a sign on his door that read ' Knock First '.
"Oh, so I get no reaction for doing something creepy, and your mother walks in and you shit a brick?! What gives?" Joshua groaned with annoyance, shoving Neku off him via palm to the face.
"Language, Joshua-Kun..." Mrs. Sakuraba reminded nicely, obviously having grown used to Joshua's odd behavior, and occasionally foul mouth. "Neku, you really should stop playing those games. You're going to give yourself a heart attack."
Neku mumbled under his breath and looked pathetically towards his Mom. "But Mom, Joshua is purposely trying to creep me out," he grumbled childishly and lightly shoved at his friend's shoulder.
"If I was really trying, you'd have wet yourself by now," Joshua replied with a frown, giving the brunet a half-hearted glare.
Tsuki sighed and set down the tray on the nightstand beside Neku's bed, waving at the two politely. "Be nice to him, Joshua-Kun. Can't have him startling me with his girly shrieks." She giggled.
"'Kay, mom!" The silver-haired teen made a complete 180, smiling brightly as Mrs. Sakuraba left, closing the door behind her.
Neku blinked. And then again. And then, "Girly?!" He folded his arms pathetically to his chest as his bottom lip stuck out. "I do not shriek like a girl, damnit.."
Joshua stared at his disgruntled friend for a moment, still smiling as if he was constantly amused. He eyed Neku's pouting lips, before he leaned in - and shamelessly stole a kiss from him.
Neku's eyes fluttered open and he grumbled against Joshua's lips, not amused whatsoever. "Jerk..."
"If you say so, dear," He giggled and licked at the brunet's bottom lip before retreating, a little too happy with himself.
Neku's face contorted up into a look of surprise as he leaned back against the headboard, deciding not to comment on what Joshua had done. Instead, he murmured curses to himself and grabbed for his controller, resuming his game yet again.
Shibuya's Composer laid back to his resting position, watching the TV screen for a while, munching on some of the cookies, drinking the tea up quickly before it got cool. He never really needed to eat per say, but he enjoyed the things Neku's mom made for the both of them - they were always delicious, no matter how simple.
"Neku" He grumbled, fidgeting a bit as he turned over to his back, watching the game upside-down. "This is boring. Let's do something else."
If you're suggesting molesting me, I vote no," Neku mused jokingly as he paused the game and glanced down at Joshua. "...The hell are you doing?
"Trying to make your horror games more interesting. They're terribly fake...how on earth can they scare you?" He frowned a bit, still looking at the screen even though it was paused. "Much scarier things out there like, serial murders and earthquakes..."
Neku scowled. "Stop being a jerk," he sighed and saved the game before getting up to turn it off. He hesitantly bent over to turn the game system off. One thing he had learned from being around Joshua--it was never safe to turn your back to him.
"How is that being a jerk? Minamimoto's piles of trash are scarier than pixilated ghosts." The Composer huffed a bit, folding his arms as he continued to look at Neku from his current upside-down position. "They're not real."
Neku rolled his eyes and walked back over to Joshua. "Minamimoto?... Isn't that the guy who's always causing you trouble?" he asked as he sat down next to the other.
"Me? No. Doesn't take much for me to handle him." He closed his eyes with a bit of arrogance about him. "Bugs the hell out of my Conductor, though. Not to mention the other Reapers."
Neku pondered for a brief moment before laying down beside the silveret. "The other Reapers, huh?...What are they like, anyhow? You never really talk about them."
"Hmm?" Joshua opened his eyes, blinking them a few times as he pondered. "Eh, most of them are like nameless, disposable henchmen who have the same repetitive taste in fashion. Always wear hoodies. They must think they look more intimidating that way."
Neku sniggered some. "Hoodies, huh? How... demonic," he laughed and shifted so that he could stare at Joshua. "Are they any different than the Players?"
"A bit. They look human enough - if you don't count their wings. Pretty much the only way to distinguish them without a Player Pin to read others' minds. Can't read theirs." He added, sitting up and stretching his arms a bit, letting the blood rush from his head. He probably would have gotten dizzy if he was alive.
Neku continued watching Joshua, head cocked to the side as bangs fell in his face. "Wings?... Huh, that's weird...I can't imagine humans with wings that aren't angels...you know the kind, big and fluffy and feathery," he mused.
"Nahh, they're real different," Joshua giggled, reaching over to Neku's abandoned book bag at the side of his bed, pulling out his math notebook and flipping to a blank page. Nabbing a pen, he began to scribble down a few odd-looking shapes, before they began to look very much like graffiti-like wings. "They're like this - although the Gamemaster's and Conductor's are bigger and slightly different."
Neku sat up and glanced down at the drawing, nodding in understanding. "They look really cool," he said and then glanced back up to Joshua. "...Wait, you have wings?"
"I never said that." The Composer blinked, caught a bit off-guard by that particular question. "I mean, I do, but..."
"Well, if the Conductor and Gamemaster do, doesn't that mean you do?" Neku wondered and scrunched his nose. "Wings are usually a sign of power, or so I've heard from Kita's ramblings about fantasy...so I just assumed you did."
"Haha... power? I suppose that's true." He smiled, clicking the pen in his hand closed. "The size and intricacy of our wings are determined by power and rank. Wall Reaper have relatively small ones, whereas the harriers and Gamemaster have larger ones. Like this - " He re-clicked the pen open, doodling a crude drawing of Konishi (all while smirking evilly to himself), with larger wings. "This is what a previous Gamemaster's wings looked like."
Neku peered at the wings curiously. "Damn...how the hell can you draw them so well?" he grumbled and stayed close to Joshua, eyes scanning over the patterns.
"I see them all the time. It's easy." Joshua stated simply. "And besides, I'm bestowed with all sorts of amazing abilities. Sanae taught me how to draw."
Neku snickered and then paused. "He draws, too?"
"Yup. Doesn't he seem like the artsy type?" He grinned, one of those 'I know something you don't know - oh and by the way, I'm not telling you' grins.
Neku groaned. "I hate when you do that," he muttered, catching the hint rather quickly. He leaned against Joshua's shoulder, staring down at the paper. "Draw yours?"
"Mine?" That seemed to catch the Composer off guard again. "I... never really looked at mine before. I know what they look like vaguely, but I don't let them out much."
Neku tilted his head to the side. "Well then, let me see them if you can't draw them."
There was a long pause, but it seemed that Joshua was at least considering it. They were much too big to fit in Neku's small bedroom - not to mention, it dispelled a lot of energy. No doubt the other Reapers - including Sanae - would feel it, even if they couldn't tell why he did or where he was. "Mm... it would be a little..." His words trailed off, before he shrugged and grinned at his friend, grabbing him by the hand. "Alright then." He tugged him off the bed, and drug him out the the door and into the hallway.
"Hey mom! Neku and I are going to that new crepe stand Kita told us about at 104! We won't be gone long" He announced politely.
Neku blinked in surprise, not really having expected to be dragged, once again. He followed Joshua faithfully, though, waving off to his mother with a soft smile before setting his gaze on Joshua, not really understanding why he would bring him out in the open. Maybe they needed sunlight?
Without any explanation whatsoever, they walked down the stairs and went around past the parking garage, where a small playground stood behind the apartment complex, backed up to another neighborhood. There wasn't anyone around at the moment, but it still seemed way too risky - there could be someone in the opposing building that could see, or if someone simply decided to come down to the playground like they did.
Didn't seem to faze Joshua, though. "This should work." He stated simply, putting his hands on his hips.
Neku looked around, obviously confused. "Why did you bring me out here?" he questioned, rubbing his arm awkwardly.
"I told you that the size of wings indicate power, remember?" He smiled innocently, turning to the brunet and walked a few steps backwards. "Your room was too small to hold mine."
Neku rolled his eyes at once. "Now you're just being smug," he tsked.
Joshua shrugged, still grinning as he spread his hands out a bit, stretching his arms a little ways from his body. He closed his eyes and allowed his repressed power to come forth ever so slightly, feeling the beat of Shibuya's music through his veins as he allowed his form to shimmer white for a moment - before slowly a shinning white sprung from his back, growing and growing... before the entire playground was
shadowed by the ever forming intricate shapes. The light died down to a dull glimmer, Joshua's wings now prominent enough to be seen in detail - the wingspan alone measuring up to nearly seventy-five feet, having to curl in the tips to avoid touching the apartment buildings on either side. Not to mention there were two sets of almost angelic white wings unlike the normal single set of black, the graffiti-like detail so defined and intricate, they almost looked like feathers.
Slowly the silver-haired boy's violet eyes opened, giving Neku a content grin. "I told you your room was too small."
Neku paled and nearly fainted. He hadn't been...expecting that whatsoever. He stood there in awe for a moment, completely stricken, before hesitantly stepping closer to Joshua, eyes wandering along the lengthy wings before looking to his friend. "...Can I touch them?"
Joshua suppressed the ever so tempting opening to reply with a witty remark about how... indecent that sounded. So instead, he smiled, obviously a little too happy with Neku's reaction. "Of course," He let his hands slid into his pockets, shifting his wings ever so slightly so that the very edge of one moved in front of the brunet, the other to his back.
Neku cautiously reached out and touched the tip of one, his eyes fluttering shut as he felt a subtle surge of power tickle the pad of his finger. He gasped, barely audibly, but did not move his hand away. The feeling was so odd...
"Sorry if that hurt," Joshua closed his eyes, concentrating on something. "I'm doing my best to keep my energy at the lowest level possible, but it seems it still may affect you negatively."
"No," Neku answered honestly. "It didn't feel bad," he reasoned, falling silent afterwards.
The Composer blinked, confused at first. But he wasn't all that oblivious - Sanae had said something quiet similar before, years ago. Silently he stepped forward to the brunet without him noticing, hands slipping up to rest against Neku's chest. "Ahh, Neku" He whimpered with a rather... indecent tone, lips brushing just past the teen's ear. "Don't stop..." His wings twitched a bit, touching the back of Neku's spine.
Neku gasped, eyes screwing shut. "S-stop it, jerk," he murmured, hand still resting on Joshua's wing as he struggled to remain standing, gentle shivers of pleasure dripping down his spine.
Of course any sort of struggle would only give Joshua more reason to tease him. He never learned, did he? "Mmn" He groaned, stepping yet closer so that their bodies were about as close as they could possibly get. "Don't touch me there ah"
Neku panted, his teenage mind clouding with a sensation that was too much akin to pleasure. He struggled to breathe as he felt continuous surges of energy. "J-josh," he warned, voice shaky and almost breathless.
Suddenly the Composer's lips pressed against the brunet's, and just as quickly as they appeared, his white Reaper-like wings disappeared in a glow of light, retreating back into his RG form, power stored completely.
"Oh my, I think my little Neku is all hard now" Joshua pulled back from the kiss, grinning like he usually did when he felt accomplished with something. "Need help with that?"
Neku paled, eyes wide at Joshua's words. Without warning, he quickly shoved his best friend away and took a few steps back, cheeks enflamed. "You are such a jerk!" he groaned and clenched his fist by his side. So he was turned on, big deal. It was Joshua's fault, through and through.
"H-How can you say that?" The Composer whimpered, cheeks flushing with practiced ease. "You... after what y-you did to me...!" He covered his face with his hands, faking a sob. "Now I will never be wed!"
Neku blinked and shook his head in disbelief. "Cut it out!" he groaned and covered his ears.
"Wahh! Mother, father! Your little boy is impure now!!" Joshua continued to fake his incessant sobbing, faking a sniffle before he walked back over to Neku, giving him a very serious look. "I'll allow you to repay me for this horrible deed. Take me to bed, and we'll call it even."
"Joshua!" Neku squeaked and shoved lightly at his chest again, wanting to keep distance between them. "There's no way in hell t-that I'm..."
"Oh lighten up, dear. I'm just messing with you." The silver-haired teen grinned, obviously a little too happy with himself. "Hey, you said you wanted to see my wings"
"I didn't want you to mind-rape me!" Neku muttered and lowered his defenses, rubbing his arm awkwardly. "...Sorry for overreacting."
"Well, it killed some time didn't it?" Joshua giggled, evident that there were no hard feelings. Well, almost not. Oh, bad pun. He should slap himself for even thinking of that. "You wanna pick out a video game we can both play? How about Super Smash Brothers? Unless of course, you need some time alone..."
Neku glared some. "Are you suggesting that I'm some sort of sex fiend or something?" he quipped and ignored the comment about games for now.
"No, but you are a hormone-driven teenager. Isn't that normal?" He blinked, finding it horribly obvious. "You like to jump to conclusions, don't you?" Another giggle.
"I like conclusions," Neku argued and stepped closer to Joshua once more, reaching out to purposely touch the Composer's hair. "Well, aren't you hormone-driven, too?"
"I'm waaaay past the teen stage." Joshua replied simply, grabbing Neku's hand and leading him back to the stairs to his apartment. "I just like to tease you. You're always so adorable when you're flustered or when you blush"
Neku sighed dramatically and continued following Joshua back to his apartment, glad that his 'problem' was going down. "Can you try to keep the teasing down? I don't really enjoy blushing or being flustered as much as you do, Josh."
His friends looked back, blinking innocently before replying with a sweet, heartfelt, "Nope!"
Neku sighed and glared daggers into Joshua's back. "Fine," he murmured and continued their walk back.
Joshua just giggled more. The bastard.