Author's Notes: This is the updated, re-edited version of Still Waters 1. I rewrote the first five chapters and fixed little errors among the others, but the story itself hasn't changed, and I have left the original author's notes as they were for the most part. I hope you like it.
Original Author's notes: I own nothing but the OCs. No song lyrics, not the characters or locations or anything that I didn't make up myself. I know I'm a bit late to the OC party, what with all the albino zombies, british people, badass longcoats, and etc. who already populate the Negima section, but here's my small offering to the OC pile anyway. Also, this is meant to be an Akira story rather than an OC story…I probably failed with that part, though.
Still Waters Run Deep: Let it be, let it be.
June 1st, 2003
A tall black haired man strolled casually through the streets of Mahora, hands stuffed into the pockets of his light jacket. After a moment, he pulled out a picture of his quarry; a young Japanese girl. While he did have the picture, he had little else to go on; the girl was quite unremarkable. Pretty but not beautiful, tall but not a giant among the Japanese. Long black hair. Japan was full of girls just like her. He did have a name to go on, however, along with his boss's assurance that she was in this particular town.
He sighed in exasperation and stuffed the wrinkled picture back into his pocket. He continued walking.
"Oh wow, did you see him? He's really creepy! He looks at you with his creepy gray eyes, then ignores you. It's really weird!" Makie exclaimed.
Akira made a small smile at that. Makie was overexcited again, going on about some strange foreigner she had seen around town the last few days. She listened as she continued washing the dishes.
"I've seen him too, he kind of scares me..." This came from Ako, who was seated at the desk, trying to do homework while Makie paced restlessly around the room. She too had noticed the man several days earlier. Her first thought had been that he looked rather pale and unhealthy, and that bothered her. People who looked as if they could keel over at any moment tended to bother her, whether they were creepy or not.
"I bet he's from Europe!" Makie said suddenly as she stopped pacing. "I wonder if Negi-kun knows him?"
"Now Makie, just because he's from Europe doesn't mean that he knows Negi-sensei," Ako lectured, holding up one finger for emphasis.
Akira just listened quietly as she finished the dishes. After putting the last plate in the rack to dry and letting out the water, she turned around and had to grin at the spectacle before her. Makie had loudly decided that the man was a prince or something from Transylvania (because he was obviously like a vampire or something), while Ako had turned pale at the thought of people sucking blood.
Akira dried her hands and headed for the door, glancing in the mirror on the way.
"Wait, where are you going?" Makie demanded. "I'm not done working out the mystery vampire prince's motives yet!"
Akira stopped and smiled again. Makie had such a good imagination. "I'm going to pick up a few things for dinner. I'll be back in an hour or so, so finish your homework, okay Makie?" she said in a motherly tone while Ako giggled into her hand and Makie just looked embarrassed and laughed awkwardly.
Akira nodded. "I'll be back later." She waved and stepped out into the hall, pulling the door shut behind her. She stood in the hallway for a moment, going over what she needed to buy and thinking absently about what Makie had been talking about earlier. A European vampire prince from Transylvania, huh? She smiled and headed for the stairs.
"Have you seen this girl?" the tall man asked in rough Japanese.
Natsumi shrank back a bit at the stranger's sudden interruption, but looked at the picture he held out anyway. She frowned. Now why was this stranger looking for Akira? The picture was a few years old and the hairstyle was different, but it was definitely her classmate Akira. This might be bad.
"I-I don't know who that is," she stuttered. 'Wait. Calm down. Breathe. Pretend you're up on stage, put on a good act,' Natsumi told herself. She breathed in deeply, held the breath, let it out, and nodded. Calm. "I've never seen her before. Are you sure you're in the right place?" she asked, suddenly looking for all the world like a bored teenager with nothing much to do instead of a freaked out teenager trying to send away someone that may or may not be stalking a classmate.
The man cocked an eyebrow and Natsumi sweatdropped. It was obvious he didn't believe her. She straightened up and put on a show of ignoring him as she glanced around, looking for someone to help. 'There!' Sure enough, she spotted a familiar face coming across the crosswalk at a fast pace.
"Chizuru-san!" Natsumi said as she watched the taller girl stalk along the sidewalk and step in front of her to get the stranger's attention.
"Are you bothering her? If so, I will not allow it!" Chizuru said, glaring up at the tall man. He just looked a bit curious and said something in what sounded like English.
"Whew, that was a long run," Negi said as he trotted up, trying to catch his breath. Asuna and Konoka followed. After a brief attempt to catch his breath, he rounded on the stranger.
"Are you trying to assault one of my students? I'll have you know that such a thing is not acceptable! We have rules here, and--"
Natsumi heaved a sigh of relief as Negi berated the man, who looked a bit confused and began thumbing through a Japanese-English pocket dictionary. Negi continued on for a moment before he was interrupted.
"Do you speak English?" the tall man asked in Japanese.
"Yes, but what does that--" Negi started.
"Have you seen this girl?" the man said, showing the old picture of Akira to Negi.
Negi, naturally, was shocked. "Why do you have a picture of Akira-san? I'll have you know that such things are not permitted here. We have rules here, and everyone is expected to..." Negi trailed off on his now-familiar speech as he looked at a card the man had passed him.
The man nodded.
"Akira-san? Are you sure?"
Yet another nod.
Negi turned turned to his companions. "I'm sorry, I'll have to call it a day. I'll see you back at the dorms, okay?"
Everyone just looked at him blankly for a moment.
Asuna looked ready to argue, but Negi quickly took her aside and whispered to her.
"He knows about magic. He was sent from the American Division; it's official business."
Asuna looked from Negi to the tall man and back, and finally nodded. "I don't like him, but I guess it's you're business. I'll take Konoka back to the dorm room. Don't be too long, okay?" she whispered.
Negi nodded and stepped back to stand beside the stranger. "Goodbye Asuna-san, Konoka-san. Chizuru-san, Natsumi-san," he added, nodding to the other two students. "I'll see you later!" And with that, Negi and the stranger walked away, leaving behind a mildly annoyed Asuna and a thoroughly confused Natsumi standing on the sidewalk with the others.
Negi and the American walked silently. The man took long strides, and Negi almost had to run just to keep up.
"This should do," the man said after a moment, gesturing to a rather dark and deserted alley. Negi sweated.
"I know a nice cafe that's usually empty this time of day. If we speak in English, no one will understand what we are saying," Negi said, suspiciously eyeing the dark alley. He had never liked places like that... Way too scary.
The tall man just nodded and let the boy lead the way.
As they walked, Negi took the time to look the strange man over. He was incredibly tall, probably six and a half feet at least! A bit stocky looking as well in his shapeless clothes, he seemed quite strong. With his much worn clothing and his shaggy mop of black hair, Negi thought it was no wonder people tended to move to the other side of the street when he walked by. He looked like the sort of person that would pull out a knife at the slightest provocation.
The two of them soon arrived at the cafe and soon found themselves seated and awaiting the drinks they had ordered. Negi fidgeted as he tried to think of something to say to break the awkward silence when the tall man beat him to it.
"I guess I should introduce myself. I'm Max Linell, from the American Division. Nice to meet you," he said, holding out his hand. Negi took his hand and shook it.
"It is nice to meet you, Mr. Linell. I am Negi Springfield, from Wales."
The two of them looked at each other awkwardly for a moment as they scrambled for a topic.
"Springfield, wasn't it? Are you related to Nagi Springfield? The Thousand Master?" Max asked.
"You know my father?"
"Er...no," Max said, feeling strangely embarrassed at Negi's excited expression. "I know of him, but I never knew him personally. So, you're his son, huh?"
Negi nodded, and the awkward silence was broken as the two exchanged information about recent events in the magic community. Finally, Negi could take it no longer and asked the question that had been nagging at him.
"But tell me Mr. Linell, why are you looking for Akira-san?"
"Call me Max," he said, grimacing. "And honestly, I'm not quite sure. I was just told to find her and observe her until further orders arrive. I've got no idea as to what purpose I'm serving here. They didn't even give me much notice before sending me here, so I wasn't able to prepare as well as I'd like."
"Prepare? Prepare for what?" Negi asked curiously. Every answer this man gave him only left him with more questions...!
Max grinned crookedly; it was quite ugly. "Anything. My usual job, I guess you could say, is to work as an agent to sow discord among the enemy." He paused, and his ugly grin widened slightly. "Apparently I'm pretty good at it. Anyway, this is out of my league and I've got no clue how I ended up getting assigned here. My usual jobs are quick, just a few days to soften up the enemy before the main group shows up."
They fell into another awkward silence while Negi tried to absorb just what it was that Max Linell did while Max wondered if he had said too much. Luckily, their waitress arrived soon after and dragged their focus toward their orders.
Max thanked the waitress and picked up his coffee cup, eyeing it suspiciously. He took an experimental sip and grimaced.
"What the hell is this? It tastes like dishwater!"
Negi just looked at him in confusion. 'I thought it was quite good...'
Roughly an hour later, Max and Negi left the cafe and said goodbye, heading their separate ways. Max, having made contact with one of the local mages, located a nearby phone booth and made a call to his contact in Tokyo to report what had occurred thus far. He gave a quick, concise report to the automated recording system, let the contact know he was done, and finished the call. He placed the receiver back in its cradle and exited the phone booth.
Akira wandered along, unable to escape the feeling that she was being drawn toward something. It was odd and made her feel more than a little uncomfortable, but it also made her curious. What on earth could make her feel this way...?
She idly swung the bag of groceries back and forth as she went. Whatever it was that was drawing her was somewhere ahead.
Max backed out of the phone booth and turned around, bumping into someone. He heard a feminine grunt and turned to face the other person.
"Sorry," he said when he saw the girl he had accidentally knocked down. She sat on the sidewalk, shaking her head as if she was dazed. A few items had fallen from the plastic bag she carried, so he knelt down beside her and picked then paused for a moment, trying to remember how to say 'sorry' in Japanese. He settled for a hesitant 'Gomen'. It had been a while since he had last been in Japan, and it seemed as though he had forgotten most of the language. He offered her a hand up and she muttered something he couldn't quite make out as she took his hand. He pulled her up and she staggered for a moment, holding her head, so he steadied her with a hand on her shoulder.
The girl looked up, their eyes met, and they both froze.
It was her. Akira Okochi. Er...Okochi Akira, he corrected himself mentally. She had grown quite a bit from the time when the picture had been taken, but it was definitely her. He had expected to run into her in this town at some point, but not like this. The two of them simply stared at each other for a moment, and then...she smiled at him. Max felt his heart flutter for a second before he got himself back under control. She had such a cute smile...he grinned his ugly, crooked grin back at her and her smile widened a bit.
Author's Note: Here's the first rewritten chapter after FFN's sudden deletion of the dividers I was using. I've added some things and taken out other things, and this chapter ended up a couple pages longer than it started out, and hopefully ended up quite a bit better as well. The rest will be coming soon.