Hiya! Happy New Year! (Well, it's a few days late, but still...)
I have no idea where this sucker came from XD. What I do know is that this fic will be about 6, maybe 7 chapters long. However, each tale will be set in its own AU enviroment, though there will be a thin plot thread connecting all these. It'll make more sense in the second chapter...
This first story (which was supposed to be the only story...oh well) revolves around Uzuki and Kariya. Though set in an AU world, there's no real difference between that world and the canon world. Why call it AU then? Because the following stories will have circumstances messed with to varying extents.
Disclaimer: I do not own The World Ends With You. Which is just as well. Too much drama there as it is.
The Easy Way Out
"I don't need anybody else!"
The orange-haired Reaper, aka Player hunter, aka killer, aka enemy, stared at the pink-haired girl in disbelief. Then he smiled.
"But then how will you fight the Noise?" he asked, gesturing to the complex symbols floating in the air around them, which were actually portals leading to a world of monsters. "If you don't have a partner, then you can't use any psych pins available to you."
"Sure I can!" she announced proudly, locking her violet eyes with his russet ones. "I just use my shadow as my partner. That's what you're doing, aren't you?"
"Oh? You can manipulate and pact with your shadow even though you're only a Player?" questioned the lanky Reaper, unwrapping a lollipop and then sticking it in his mouth. "Impressive. You could be quite a Reaper someday. If you win, that is."
"…I could become a Reaper?" she asked.
"If you wanted to," the death-dealer answered, leaning against the graffiti-adorned wall. "Though I suppose you're more interested in returning to your old life on the real ground. Most people don't like staying dead."
"…Eh, I don't really care," the violet-eyed girl replied. "I don't really remember my life before this. I just kinda showed up here."
"Oh?" the Reaper with the golden-tinted glasses replied. "Must have been your entry fee then."
"Huh?" she questioned, her violet eyes showing confusion. "Hey, aren't you supposed to send a bunch of Noise to attack me or something?"
"…I don't feel like it," he said, whisking the looming Noise portals away with a lazy wave of his hand.
"You don't feel like it? Aren't you a Reaper?"
"Yeah…" he answered, yawning and stretching his wings. "But I would only get 1 kill point for you. Why bother with you when I can attack any pair of connected Players and almost automatically get 2 kill points? It's not worth the extra effort."
"You…" she began, before her face twisted into a snarl. "You think I'm weak, don't you?! Just because I've formed a pact with my shadow instead of with another Player! Well, I'll tell you right now I'm much more willing to trust my shadow with my soul than some random person off the street!"
"Well, it does concern me some," the carrot-head Reaper answered casually. "Controlling both yourself and your shadow in battle can be draining even for a Reaper, since it's just recycled energy over and over. How do you, a Player, plan to survive the whole game living like the snake that eats its tail?"
"Well I will!" she declared defiantly. "I don't need any whiny partner! You can bet on it!"
"Oh? Can I?" responded the Reaper, smirking. "Alright then…if you do make it through by yourself, then I owe you three bowls of ramen."
The pink-haired Player blinked.
"…What?" she asked dumbly.
"Well, it doesn't have to be ramen. That's just what I like. Just three free meals of whatever you like."
She still eyed him like he was from another world. In a way, he was.
"….Fine then! If I can't make it all the way though by myself, I'll…I'll…" she began, rustling her hair. "I'll become your partner, dammit!"
The Reaper bit through the stick of his pop. He spit out the remains.
"What?! You can't do that! It'd be a violation of the Game rules!"
"Then it'll be whenever I become a Reaper," she answered. "'Cause even if I can't make it all the way by myself, I'll still make it! Even if I have to put up with some baby or jerk for part of the way!"
The Reaper just stared at her. And then he laughed. She just glared at him.
"Alright, it's a bet," he finally answered. "This should be entertaining. I look forward to the results."
He turned his back to her and began to walk off.
He turned a corner and was gone.
He had been right, of course. In the middle of Day 5 of the Game she formed a pact with a frightened, whiny blond who had just lost his partner to a Noise attack. Eiji Oja or Ocho or something like that. He wasn't too bad. After all, they managed to win the Game.
She didn't remember much about the ceremony that made her a Reaper. She did remember the dumbfounded expression on the carrot-head's face, when she walked up to him with Reaper wings and a half-won bet. In fact, she took a picture of him with her cellphone's camera.
It had been awhile since then. Sometimes it felt like it was forever ago. Other times it felt like no time at all.
Her eye twitched.
Uzuki Yashiro was not a patient person. She would be the first to admit it. Thrown hairbrushes and toothbrushes lay around her partner, who still showed no interest in leaving his bed in the middle of the living room. Why was his bed in the middle of the living room? She had already claimed the only bedroom for herself, that's why. And no, she wasn't going to share her bed with anyone else, especially not with a guy, even if they did have a pact. Besides, he preferred to watch TV in bed anyway, being the sloth he was.
Yes, they shared the same apartment. They didn't have much of a choice, considering they were linked by their pact. A bond between souls didn't do much good if they didn't stay close to each other. Not that they needed their pact fully activated all the time, but if something happened…
And it wasn't like she was actually 17 anymore. That was just how old she was when the old abandoned apartment she'd been living in literally fell in on her head. That's what she got for trying to avoid rent. Nor was Kariya really 19 years of age, for the same reason. She wasn't sure how he ended up dead.
"If you don't get up, Kariya, I'm gonna eat the rest of the ramen," she stated, walking back to the bathroom. "Every last bit of it."
She heard him groan groggily and toss the covers aside. She smirked.
Works every time.
Uzuki began to comb her short pink hair again, an effort that had been abandoned briefly when she was trying to get her colleague up. She saw her own violet eyes look back at her as she brushed out the last tangles. Her bat-like wings, more like black tattoos that floated above her back than actual wings, fluttered restlessly.
Sleeping in until noon was never Uzuki's style. She was a Reaper with places to go, ambitions to realize, and Players to erase. For that reason she liked to start her day at eight o' clock, when most of her kind were still snoozing.
Her cohort Reaper had no such ambition. In fact, Koki Kariya was the type to be content to sleep until three. At least, he would have slept that long if Uzuki let him, which she never did.
Out of the corner of her eye she noticed Kariya rummaging through the table next to his bed, probably trying to find his gold-tinted glasses. His orange hair was draped all over his head and shoulders. Uzuki still didn't know how he styled all that hair to stand straight up, but she suspected it took lots of hairspray and hair-gel, and possibly some glue. His wings, much smaller than Uzuki's, flapped languidly.
"Hey Uzuki, have you seen my parka?" he asked.
"Try the kitchen or the living room," she suggested, putting on some lipstick.
"Ah, never mind. It was in the closet."
"The closet? What was it doing there?"
Despite appearances and personality, Kariya was strong. For a Reaper in the lowly Harrier rank, he was extremely strong. He could erase almost any troublesome Player or Noise with ease. If he wanted to, want being the key word. Kariya hardly wanted anything. He didn't even want a promotion to a higher Reaper rank. It was something that puzzled the ever-striving Uzuki to no end.
"Why don't you want to move up in rank?" she asked him one day, as they watched new Players scamper about from their usual perch on top of the 104 Building. Occasionally the Reaper duo sent out Noise to attack them. Any Players that were erased by them or their Noise would add to their kill point total, which would extend their lifespan.
"It's more fun at this level," Kariya replied casually, twirling a half-eaten lollipop in his hand. "The higher you go, the further you get from The Game and the fun."
"Well yeah, I guess," Uzuki answered, grinning as she watched a newbie Player screaming his head off as he fled from some Dixiefrogs. She wondered who had been the one to name all the Noise after different types of music. She guessed it was some bored Reaper officer, or possibly a bored Composer.
"Besides," Kariya added, eyeing his lollipop. "Have you ever known any sane officers?"
"Do you know any sane Reapers, period?" Uzuki answered, eyeing the russet-eyed Reaper next to her. "C'mon, haven't you ever wanted to strut around on the higher levels and boss the lower Reapers around?"
"Not really," he responded, as a Player below dissolved into static. "Ah, got one."
"About time," Uzuki replied, smirking. "Alright, got another one over here."
"Anyway, becoming an officer is not as simple as reaching a certain power level or Player kill count," the carrot-head continued, sticking the pop into his mouth. "To reach officer status you have to discover your Noise form."
"The ability to turn into your own monster," stated Uzuki, stretching her arms and wings. "I still don't get how that works. I mean, I've seen officers transform and fight in their Noise forms, but I still don't get how they work."
"Well, no one's sure exactly how they work," admitted Kariya, the pop in his mouth distorting his speech. "I know that you have to pass a certain physical and emotional limit in order for it to activate, but those limits vary for each person. Of course, if you get a promotion, the higher-ups speed up the process for you. But it's still the same process."
"And you have to draw off your partner's energy when you transform the first time, right?"
Two Players below were engulfed in blue light below, the sign of a pact forming.
"…Yeah," Kariya replied, watching the connected Players fight off some of the Noise. "But it's not like you can instantly activate it just because you really want it right then, though people who want Noise forms usually get them first. So you'll probably get yours before I do."
"Huh? Don't you want a Noise form?" questioned the violet-eyed Reaper, curling a strand of her hair with her finger. "I mean, don't you want to know what kind of creature you'd be and what powers you have, or at least what your new wings would look like?"
"No," he stated flatly.
Uzuki blinked at his blunt reply.
"It's too much of a hassle to get it."
"Breathing is too much of a hassle for you."
"Oh I know. Good thing I'm dead."
The pink-haired Reaper groaned.
Why are we doing this again? Kariya asked boredly, his words echoing in Uzuki's head.
One of the advantages of a fully activated pact was telepathy. This was especially useful, since the two of them were fighting in different parts of the Noise dimension and had no other way to communicate.
Right then Uzuki chose to ignore him, however, as she fired several shots at a speeding white vulpine with nine golden tattoos for tails. The red-marked Boss Noise, a Progfox, took two hits to the shoulder but kept running.
Most Noise fell under the command of Reapers, but not all. Boss-class Noise like the Progfox were one of those more unruly types. Fighting these Noise weren't necessary, especially for Reapers, but erasing such Noise sometimes wielded powerful or valuable items. That was Uzuki's reason for fighting it.
The pink-haired death-dealer felt a stab of pain in her shoulder, although she hadn't been hit by anything. She knew that her associate Reaper had been taken a blow instead of her, as she felt some slight frustration flow from him.
"Kariya! Be more careful, dammit!" she yelled, even though she knew he would be hearing her thoughts rather than her shouts. "It's my health as well as yours!"
The Reaper with the gold-tinted glasses made no reply, but she did feel a vague sense of annoyance trickle over to her.
"Fine, be that way," she grumbled to herself, though she was sure Kariya could pick up on her irritation. "Now where did that-"
She heard the creature howling behind her, its figure shining white.
Ah crap, it's gonna fire a big one! Kariya-
She felt a sudden burst of power from her colleague. The glowing Noise suddenly dissolved into static.
Uzuki sighed, both out of relief and out of aggravation.
Kariya, whatever you did…why didn't you do that earlier?
I didn't feel like it.
Uzuki's irritation rose.
She felt amusement from his end.
I sympathize with Boss Noise. I like to let them have a good fight before I erase them.
Huh? Why? They're just stupid Noise like the rest, aren't they?
She felt numbness creep across her skin, the sign that she and Kariya were about to leave the Noise dimensions.
Kariya answered with feelings of amusement, and of…sadness?
Don't worry. You'll understand later.
Reapers were native to the Underground, or UG, but they could visit the Real Ground, or RG. However, they couldn't take their powers with them, so neither Uzuki nor Kariya had their wings when they were in the RG. Due to these limits, they rarely visited the RG, and then only for a good reason.
To Uzuki, going to the RG to get her butt kicked in a child's pastime did not feel like a good reason. Naturally it had been Kariya who had accepted the offer.
"Alright!" exclaimed Shiki, a dark-haired teenage girl who was one of the few to clear The Game. "I won!"
"Hooray for you," grumbled Uzuki, as she picked her pins off of the floor. She was never good at Tin Pin, and losing eight games in a row was souring her mood. The never-ending flow of rap songs blaring in the arcade was getting on her nerves too.
Former Player Beat, though, loved the (so-called) music, and the muscular teen was break-dancing to it with a big grin on his face. Even Uzuki had to admit he was good. His little sister Rhyme, also a survivor of The Game, was watching him nearby and smiling.
She glanced over to Kariya, who was playing Tin Pin against another ex-Player, Neku. Somehow the boy's hair was even more orange than Kariya's. From the peeved look on her partner's face, she guessed that he was getting creamed too. Uzuki felt a little better, though she felt more amusement than pity for her fellow Reaper.
"Wanna play again?" asked Shiki.
"…Do I have to?" groused Uzuki.
"Well…no," the girl answered, though she looked disappointed. "But that's okay. You wanna chat for awhile?"
"Sure. I can't leave until they're done anyway," responded the violet-eyed female, gesturing to Kariya's and Neku's Tin Pin game.
Shiki sat down and began to sip her orange soda.
"So…Neku got you pregnant yet?" asked Uzuki.
Shiki spit out her drink.
"O-Of course not! We haven't even-" she protested, her face turning pink.
"Aww, but I thought you two loved each other," Uzuki teased, grinning.
"We do! We do! It's just-" she babbled, before taking a deep breath. "Well, what about you and Kariya, huh?"
"Me and-" Uzuki began, before she felt her own face turning red. "…Are you kidding? We're just partners. I don't even call him by his first name."
"Oh? What's his first name?"
"Well, why don't you call him by his first name?"
"Uh…I dunno," admitted Uzuki, holding her chin and looking up at the ceiling. "Nobody else calls him by his first name, so I never have either, I guess. I don't think he really cares either way."
"Why don't you try it, then?"
"Calling him by his first name."
"…Why should I?"
"Well… Koki's easier to say than Kariya," said Shiki, cuddling her Mr. Mew toy and smiling. "Besides, he's your partner, right?
"Hey, Neku," she heard Kariya say rather loudly, his russet eyes fixed on her. "Do you hear what the girls are saying about us?"
"Huh?" Neku replied, turning to Shiki and Uzuki.
Both girls froze. Uzuki hoped her face wasn't turning red again.
Kariya shifted his attention back to the game, and knocked Neku's pin off the board with his own.
"Huh?!" the other carrot-head exclaimed, his gaze whipping back to the now-empty board. "…You cheater!"
"You're the cheater. You use nothing but Gatito pins," Kariya replied nonchalantly. "Well, I do believe we have outstayed our welcome, Uzuki. Shall we go?"
Beat was lying flat on the ground, exhausted from his urban dancing. Rhyme was waving a hand over his face to make sure he was okay.
…Get out …
The tail of the Neoclassical Drake sent Uzuki flying into a wall.
"Dammit," she hissed.
You okay down there Uzuki?
Yeah, just barely.
Uzuki despised Taboo-class Noise. Not only did Reapers no control over them whatsoever, they often went out of their way to attack them. This wouldn't have been such a problem if the black-and-gray monsters weren't so difficult to erase.
"Take this!" she yelled, firing several beams from her gun.
The blasts exploded on contact, cloaking the tattoo dragon in smoke, but then a series of black fireballs shot out of the haze. She wove through the dark rain of flame and fired a point-blank shot at the dark wyrm's head.
It's not dead yet. I'm still fighting it down here.
The smoke cleared to reveal the Taboo Drake very much alive, snarling.
But how did it-
It snapped its mouth open and fired a series of black fireballs that hit the violet-eyed Reaper dead on.
Before she had time to get back up, the Drake pinned her under one of its clawed feet.
Its mouth snapped open again.
Crap crap crap crap…
The pink-haired Reaper felt a surge of power on her partner's end, as well as a surge of anger. She noticed the dragon above her flicker.
But it wasn't enough to take the Taboo Noise out.
Uzuki screamed as she was burned by another barrage of flame. She heard Kariya yell in pain on the other end.
Damn…must be over my limit if Kariya's feeling it that bad…if only I hadn't used up that damn healing pin earlier…
She felt a sharp pain in her side, and realized that the dragon must have struck Kariya in the other dimension.
The Taboo Drake was charging another attack above her.
Uzuki felt his anger melt into alarm.
The sudden explosion of power astounded Uzuki. The Taboo Drake was yanked off her, the black-and-gray Noise being thrashed and shocked by an unseen force. Or almost unseen, as Uzuki caught a few glimpses of her infuriated cohort, his body lit up by voltage. The black-and-gray monster was finally destroyed with a last burst of lightning.
Uzuki couldn't help but stare at where the Drake Noise had been.
…Well, that was a close one, huh? Made me swallow what was left of my pop.
She took a deep breath.
WHY DIDN'T YOU DO THAT EARILER?!
Well…wasn't sure if I had it in me, to be honest.
Oh, would you look at that? It left behind some shadow matter.
Seriously?! That's rare stuff!
Allright! Then it wasn't for nothing!
…Yeah…Whew, but seriously…I think I overdid it. Can we call it a day?
…Sure, let's call it a day.
Now's let's... Ah crap.
No more pops. I've run out.
The next morning Kariya was up unusually early. In fact, he was up before Uzuki was.
"Huh? You're awake already?" she said, a toothbrush sticking out of her mouth and her short hair in frizzy disarray. "Damn, this must be a record."
"I know," he replied tiredly, his own orange still down and flowing over his shoulders. "…Been up for a while."
"Well that's fine by me," answered Uzuki, pulling the toothbrush out of her mouth. "I need to go shopping anyway, and there's probably still a bunch of Taboo Noise floating around, so it'd be better if you came with me. Besides, I know you're out of pops, and you won't last long without those, will you?"
"…Alright. Just let me get ready," he answered, slipping into the bathroom.
"We'll get some ramen while we're out too," Uzuki continued, hunting for her hairbrush. "I know I owe you some from the last few Tin Pin games anyway."
"Fourteen bowls, to be exact," he said through the door.
"…Rub it in, will you?"
Shopping never excited Kariya. Uzuki didn't know many men that cared for it, really. The carrot-head would linger outside the shops until the pink-haired Reaper was done, unless it was food shopping. As Uzuki didn't care for people looking over her shoulder while she shopped, as Kariya tended to do whenever she shopped for chow, she preferred it that way.
But this was different. Out of all the times when she went on buying sprees, even those times where she stayed in one store for hours, Kariya had never gone far. He might ask her if she got lost, fall asleep outside, order takeout food for himself, or even challenge random Reapers and Players to Tin Pin, but there had never been a time where she exited a shop and he just wasn't there.
"Kariya! Where the hell did you go?!" Uzuki shouted, prowling the swarming streets for her stray partner. "Dammit, where is he?"
She glanced at the people around her in the Scramble Crossing, all passing by without noticing her. Well, of course they wouldn't notice her. Some of them passed right through her. She was a Reaper, and Reapers existed on a different plane than regular humans. These humans would have to die before they could see her, or be ex-Players.
Kariya was nowhere in this crowd.
Why was she so anxious anyway? Let him wander off and do his own thing. There hadn't been any Taboo Noise out like she had thought there would be.
It wasn't like they did everything together. They would often hunt separately on the earlier days of the Game, as they could pact with their shadows, and they each had their own groups of Reaper friends they hung out with. Sometimes they didn't see each other until they returned to their apartment around midnight or later.
So why was this sudden disappearance bothering her so much?
He's been acting kinda strange today. Been real quiet. Now he just wanders off to God knows where. I wonder what's with him.
She startled, and then turned around with a snarl.
"My name is Uzuki, meathead."
"And my name's Beat, man!"
"Will you two cut it out?" interrupted Neku, the ex-Player's headphones blaring techno music at full blast. She wondered how he managed to hear anything else.
"Ugh, whatever," the violet-eyed death-dealer groaned. "What are you guys doing in the UG anyway?"
"We felt the urge to kick Noise butt, man!" Beat replied. "We can't stand by while the Noise harass every day people, yo. It just don't feel right."
"Uh huh," Uzuki answered boredly. "Hey, you guys haven't seen a certain lazy bum named Kariya around, have you?"
"Lollipop? Yeah, we were just with him," answered the muscular skateboarder, adjusting his oversized black cap. "But man, he was actin' weird, yo."
"What kind of weird?" questioned Uzuki.
"Well, he was like…" Beat began, looking up to the sky and rubbing the back of his head. "Like…"
"Spaced out?" Uzuki ventured.
"Ferocious," Neku finished for his partner, folding his arms.
"Yeah!" Beat agreed.
"Ferocious?" the violet-eyed death-dealer questioned, raising an eyebrow. "He's been like a zombie all day."
"It was freaky, man," Beat continued. "We saw him at the Hachiko statue, just staring up at the sky and stuff, so we went over to see what was up. But then he jus' glared at us and snarled, like some rabid dog or somethin'. It looked like he meant business, so we buzzed off. Like I said, it was freaky, man."
Uzuki folded her arms and glared at the ground.
That doesn't sound like Kariya at all.
"…Are you sure it was him?" she asked.
"Yeah, it was definitely him," Neku confirmed. "Anyway, we thought maybe you knew what his problem was, but I guess not."
"I've been trying to figure out what his problem is all day," she admitted. "Do you think he's still at Hachiko?"
"Considering that we just left there, probably," replied Neku.
"I'll have a word with him then," Uzuki stated, gliding past the skateboarder and music-lover without even looking back at the ex-Players.
He was just where they said he was, his back leaning against the podium of the Hachiko statue. The shadow of the loyal dog figure darkened his features. The orange-haired Reaper looked calm enough to Uzuki.
"There you are!" she called. "Kariya, you lazy bum, get over here!"
There was no reply from the Reaper in the golden glasses, not even a look in her direction.
Uzuki's eye twitched.
"Hey! Over here!"
Still no response.
Grumbling, Uzuki made her way through the sea of people to her partner.
"I've been looking all over for you! At least leave me a text or something if you're gonna run off like that!"
The orange-haired Reaper kept his gaze on the ground. In fact, he didn't seem to realize she was there. His brown eyes had a glassy look to them.
"Hello? Earth to Koki Kariya," she added, waving a hand in front of his face. "Helloooooo?"
There was still no response, not even a blink. His wings shivered.
Uzuki furrowed her brows. Kariya may have been lazy, but he wasn't the type to zone out like this.
"Well well well, isn't this interesting?"
Uzuki spun around. It was like the gray-haired teen behind her had materialized out of thin air. Uzuki recognized him as Joshua, yet another survivor of the Game. He didn't hang out much with the other ex-Players, though; in fact, he seemed to spend all his time in the UG rather than the RG. Kariya always had his suspicions about him, she recalled, but there was no proof.
If Kariya noticed the boy, he showed no sign of it.
"I never knew you were such a kind-hearted soul, Kariya," he spoke, his indigo eyes taking on a roguish glint. "I have to admire your control."
"Kariya, what's he talking about?" she asked.
The russet-eyed Reaper remained motionless.
"But you know, if you don't do something…" the gray-maned youth continued, still talking as if Uzuki wasn't present. "…You'll lose yourself."
Kariya's face stayed calm, until it suddenly twisted into a vicious snarl as a guttural growl rumbled in his throat. Uzuki leapt back in surprise.
"See?" Joshua replied, as the smiling boy turned around and began to walk away. "Later. Maybe."
"Wait!" Uzuki called out. "Tell me what the hell's going on! What's wrong with him?!"
Joshua disappeared into the crowd. Or maybe he just disappeared altogether.
Kariya's fierce expression softened, although it never completely reverted to the deathly calm of before.
"…Kariya?" she asked, before her expression hardened. "Kariya, if you don't answer me in ten seconds, I'm going to shoot you in the foot! And don't think I won't! One…two…"
His head was still lowered, but now his eyes were drawn painfully shut.
He let out a faint moan as he began to slide down toward the ground.
"Whoa!" Uzuki exclaimed, catching him. "Hey, pull yourself…Huh?"
His wings were flickering, the air around them seeped in a translucent aura. They suddenly extended, trembling but retaining their shape, before they relaxed and started to flicker once more.
She felt him start to shiver in her grasp. He was soaked with sweat.
…He's burning up! And his wings-
Uzuki's eyes widened.
Could he be-
She fully activated the pact, bathing both of them in a bright blue light. She let out a cry as she felt a tearing pain in her wings and a vehement haze settle over her senses.
Ugh…if this is what I think it is, then this is gonna suck…
Kariya's eyes reopened, although he still looked exhausted. He finally looked up and acknowledged his associate Reaper's presence.
"Uzuki? What are you…?"
"Geez, Kariya," she growled, rubbing her brow where a headache was already forming. "Why didn't you just tell me that you were about to evolve? Would've saved us both a lot of trouble."
She waited for the usual lazy excuse that never came. Instead he studied the ground with a somber gaze, and the violet-eyed Reaper picked up on feelings of…anger? Gladness? Sadness? Then she remembered that evolving Reapers never felt or acted normal, so there was no point trying to analyze him.
"Fine, don't tell me then," she replied grouchily, turning around and taking out her cellphone. "Now I have to cancel all my plans since I have to look after you tonight. Thanks a lot."
There was another odd shift of emotion from Kamiya, this time toward bitterness and amusement. He still said nothing, though, and Uzuki didn't feel like looking back to see his expression.
Still, even as she punched in the first phone number, she was uneasy. Of course she knew that being the energy source of Kariya's transformation wasn't going to be pleasant. Then again, that wasn't what bothered her.
If you don't do something…you'll lose yourself, the boy named Joshua had said.
What did that brat mean by that?
Kariya was right, Uzuki thought. The process of evolution was a pain.
Uzuki was sprawled in a beat-up recliner, with no intention of moving unless she had to. With her energy being drained by her partner, she needed to save her vigor for when she needed it. She looked up at the ceiling, where she noticed a few cracks that she hadn't seen before.
Kariya was slumbering in his bed, his body limp apart from the occasional shudder. He had to sleep on his stomach because of the sensitivity in his wings and back. His golden-hued glasses were on the table next to the bed, beside a glass of water and his discarded parka. He looked younger without his glasses, or perhaps older? She had trouble telling in her mind's misty state.
All she could really tell at the moment was that she was thirsty, which meant she had to get up. She didn't really want to get up. Still, her partner's doze helped to dull the symptoms they shared, so she supposed this would be the best time to get a drink.
She pushed herself out of the chair, ignoring her body's aches. She massaged her throbbing wings, the part of her most sympathetic to Kariya's metamorphosis.
She mused on what his Noise form would be like, as she walked over to the kitchen. A cat Noise, maybe? Many of the Noise forms she had seen had been feline. Or maybe a kangaroo Noise, or a turtle Noise? It would be like him to have an oddball Noise form like that.
A sudden spasm in her wings made her flinch.
Was he planning to go through this all by himself? Uzuki wondered, as she poured herself a glass of water. That idiot. Even I know that you're supposed to have the extra support from your partner in order to successfully transform the first time. Even if he is more powerful than most of the officer Reapers, he's still-
The room blurred around her as her chest suddenly tightened.
The glass fell to the floor, and so did Uzuki.
Her chest hurt. Her heart hurt. Her wings flared out forcefully.
Kariya…is that you? Kariya…are you-
She let out a cry as pain shot up through her spine and into her wings.
God…if this is…evolving…
She suddenly felt very tired.
There was a sudden flood of terror. Was it from her or Kariya? She couldn't tell.
The pain and haze abruptly ended. She panted in relief.
Whew…I guess the worst is over. Hey Kariya…Kariya?
Uzuki didn't hear or feel anything from her fellow Reaper. She wasn't feeling anything, she realized, because the pact connection was no longer activated.
"Kariya? Kariya?!" she shouted, getting back onto her feet and starting to wobble her way out of the kitchen. "Damn, he must've panicked when I panicked and cut the connection."
A dizzy spell seized her, and she had to lean onto the counter for support.
Oh man, this has taken more out of me than I thought.
The room was washed in a red glow. Kariya was on his hands and knees, eyes closed tight as he fought to catch his breath. His wings, now long and scarlet, were the source of the red illumination, and were straining to touch the ceiling.
"Uzuki…" he panted. "…Get out..."
"Get out…now," he repeated, opening his eyes enough to see her.
"What are you talking about? I need to reestablish the connect-"
"I said GET OUT!" he snarled, electricity coursing through his wings. Bolts of lightning shot off the wings, the tendrils of power crashing near Uzuki and causing her to jump back.
"What the hell?! Kariya-"
"Kariya?" she questioned, before her eyes narrowed. "You don't think I can handle it, do you? That's why you ran off this afternoon. Well let me remind you that we're colleagues, and while I may not be as powerful as you are yet, I can still take my share of the pain."
Kariya smiled weakly.
"It's…not that simple...Uzuki…If it were only…that simple…"
"What do you mean?"
"What?" Uzuki asked, giving him a confused stare.
"In order to…successfully evolve and…gain a Noise form…" he began, looking away from Uzuki. "…A Reaper has to…consume their partner."
Uzuki's breath caught in her throat.
"W-What?" she croaked.
"Ever wonder why…Reaper officers…almost never have partners?" he continued, a humorless smile on his face. "Why most of them…act so…insane? Well…that's why. The consumed…provide them with enough power…to not need a pact…and fuel the Noise form…and those who were once…their partners…they were ones they cared for…so…being one with them…it's no wonder…they can't get past themselves…"
"…Why…" she began, before glaring at Kariya. "Why didn't you tell me something this important earlier?! Or would that have taken too much effort?!"
Kariya sighed, unfazed, or perhaps saddened, by her outburst.
"It's a…burden…to know…like knowing….the world…is going to end…" he rasped, his eyelids drooping wearily. "Hey…look at me…I didn't… I don't…want to…consume anyone…so…I thought…if I just held… myself…back…but…but…"
His wings shuddered and pulsed aggressively, and he cried out.
"Kariya, the other day…" Uzuki began. "…You really did overdo it, didn't you?"
He smirked darkly.
"Ironic…isn't it?" he replied. "The pact…saved you then…but now…if you activate it…you'll be drained…dry…I was able to…break it before…but if you try now…I won't…I won't…"
His whole body trembled violently. Uzuki saw red tattoos seep out of the corners of his eyes like tears of lava.
"Anyway…like I said…I don't want…to consume…anyone…especially not…you…Uzuki…not someone…so…so you should…get out…now…please…"
Red flame tattoos materialized around his wrists and ankles, flickering in the air like real fire. Two long red lines started shining underneath his white shirt.
"But…what will happen to you?"
"…Have I…ever told you…?"
Long golden tattoos rose behind Kariya.
"I…sympathize…with Boss Noise…"
Uzuki studied him more closely. The red tattoos on the skin, the golden tattoo…tails, that's what they were…the more she watched, the more her associate Reaper had the look of a Progfox. Even his eyes were taking on the yellow glow of the vulpine Noise.
She despised Progfoxes.
"Get out…Uzuki…" he growled, his face crumpling into a feral glare. "Get out…Get…out…"
His russet eyes were turning glassy.
"Kariya…" she breathed, transfixed.
Her partner, refusing to consume her, would be consumed by his inner Noise. He would lose himself, as the boy had said. To think that brat had been smiling when he said that. She was going to punch him the next time she saw him. Or shoot him.
His wings extended and shook, as his whole body flickered like a bad reception.
Hell…what should I do? I can't just…
She took a step forward.
Run…I've got to run…
She took another step.
If I don't…all of Kariya's struggles…my plans…
His wings flickered and crackled.
A kind-hearted soul, that brat had called him, with an angelic smile and demonic eyes. She was going to shoot that snot on sight.
He doesn't deserve this.
His breath came in tight gasps.
Kariya yelled out.
She wrapped her arms him, feeling the red tattoos burn her like magma. He tensed up and growled, but then he became quiet as his body grew lax.
"Koki, you lazy bum," she spoke. "You think I'm going to let you take the easy way out?"
There was a flash of blue light.
Aw man, I hate Taboo Drakes! whined Beat, as the ex-Player narrowly avoided being roasted by its black fire breath.
You're the one who wanted to fight it, growled Neku, the orange-haired boy sending white energy bullets toward the black-and-gray beast. They had little effect. C'mon, the faster we beat this thing, the faster we can go back and eat.
I'm tryin', man! I'm tryin'!
A torrent of lightning bolts crashed upon the dragon, swiftly reducing it to static.
Whoa, Phones! That was awesome!
Neku warily looked behind him.
It was a fox Noise, but it wasn't like any fox Noise he had encountered before. Its scarlet body, with white tattoos on the face and limbs, was humanoid in shape. It floated about a foot above the ground, its lanky legs folded into an Indian-style position, as if walking was too lowly for it. Nine long tattoo tails swished behind it, purple at the base that blended into red in the middle, which eventually gave way to gold at the tips. A vulpine mask, a false face created by interwoven tattoos of black and white, concealed its visage.
Ah, this is just great…
Crap, man, is there another Noise?! But I don't see anything up here, yo!
Neku snarled and summoned a circle of fire around him.
Well, that's a fine way to say thank you, said the Noise, the words echoing in Neku's mind.
The orange-haired teenager froze, his break in concentration disbanding the flames. He knew that voice. So did Beat, as he could tell by his partner's shocked feelings.
Dude, Phones, was that-
"Kariya?" Neku asked.
The humanoid fox dissolved into a jumble of tattoo lines, revealing the smiling Reaper underneath. The lines gathered and reformed into two sets of long wings, one set red and one set black. Once fully reassembled, the wings folded flat onto his back, where they both soon disappeared.
Eh? Lollipop's here? But I don't see his shadow up here, or Pinky.
"I don't need to form a pact now that I'm an officer Reaper," the evolved death-dealer explained, adjusting his gold-tinted glasses.
"You're an officer now? Wow. Congrats on the promotion," Neku replied, smiling. "…By the way, what happened to your hair?"
"Oh, this?" he answered, casually fingering his bright red mane. "This was Uzuki's idea, apparently."
"Well, I woke up with it this color the day after I evolved, so I assume it's her idea."
Yo, where is Pinky anyway?
"Oh, she's around," the redhead answered. "You know, she doesn't like being called that."
Well, I can never remember her real name…anyway, ain't she gonna be mad that you got a Noise form and she don't?
"Don't worry, she's got one now too. We're even."
You got 'em at the same time, yo? That's awesome. She happy now?
The redhead paused, looking up to the sky of the Noise dimension. Then he smiled again.
"Yeah…for now. But I know her. She won't be happy until we reach the top."
"We, huh?" asked Neku, smirking. "Being dragged along for the ride Kariya?"
"Of course," the scarlet-maned Reaper replied, smiling impishly as he plucked off his glasses, revealing violet eyes. "You could say nothing could separate us now."
Please feel free to let me know what you think. It's kind of a disturbing idea, I know XD, but I think it explains a lot.
I had some weird problems with the italics and bolds when I uploaded it, having to redo a lot of them. Has anyone else had this problem? (If not, it's probably my computer)
Next up: Neku vs Shiki