Hello again! Usually I will start by replying the reviews but I think I have replied to them, if I didn't, please tell me.
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Disclaimer: PoT = not mine.
Title: Reflection of Smiles (seventh ghost)
Author: Wara Ningyo
Rating: T (for some kissy-kissy scenes)
Warning: Half-edited version*
*I would like to apologize again for making you wait another 10 months for an update. My lack of grammar understanding is a big problem which requires me to seek the help of a beta-editor. However my dear friend is very busy at the moment, so I don't want to bother her too much and make you wait for another year. Therefore, please make do with this partially edited version and if we manage to edit them fully, I will upload the new version later on.
As usual I would explain a thing or two about this fic before you start reading. Since there are a lot of Japanese terms, please refer to the endnote at the bottom of this page. If there is anything hard to understand, you can leave me a message. I'd be happy to answer them for you. Also, there might be different versions to the things that I write; the ones I use for my stories are usually the versions I prefer.
Happy reading! ^_^v
Recap from last chapter: Fuji and Saeki encounters the rumoured Hanako-san in the girls toilet. Trouble is brewing, can Fuji deal with it?
Seventh Ghost: Reflection of Smiles
"We should leave," Saeki could no longer remain silent.
Fuji had broken the school rules, vandalised the school's property and now he had hurt himself in more ways than one. The shard had cut his right cheek and drew some blood. If they did not return back home to the Fuji residence, it might be too late to prevent it from scarring. That aside, the thing that worried Saeki the most was his friend's emotional health/condition.
When the mirror reflected what had happened to Saeki on the day he died, the silvery-white haired youth was nauseated by the view himself. It was as if a scene from the last moments of his life had flashed before him and to relive the trauma of his life's end was painful.
No one should have to witness such a violent scene, most certainly not his unstable friend who had suffered more than enough from having a close friend die. It was something he didn't want Fuji to witness, even if was just a reenactment, a malicious prank played by a nasty spirit.
At the very least, Fuji managed to keep himself together. He was on the verge of tears when he was reminded that his childhood friend's spirit was with him. They had made a promise; in order for Saeki to depart from this world without any regrets, Fuji has to get rid of his guilt and return back to being his old self. The blue-eyed youth did not want to keep his friend in a world he no longer belonged to anymore so he has to be strong and hide his weaknesses.
Saeki blinked. Fuji finally spoke after a long silence.
"Thank you, for being here even though it's against life's rules." With a relieved smile, Fuji looked up at his taller friend's face.
The sound of footsteps in the empty corridor alerted both boys to the presence of another person. Someone probably had heard the loud crash in the toilet and came to investigate. There was a big chance that the night guard was coming and the only way to escape was to get out of the toilet as quickly as possible and leave the school compound before he got caught.
Time was not on their side as the footsteps drew near. Before they could even move an inch from where they were standing, the creak of rusty hinges was heard as the door to the washroom door slowly opened. Fuji wondered what kind of punishment he would get once he was caught and reported to the principal. There was the possibility of a suspension but being a tennis prodigy and starting member of the tennis club that brought their school to victory in tournaments, he hoped the punishment would not be that severe.
"I told you that this was a bad idea," Saeki shook his head. Fuji was definitely in a pinch.
Right then, Fuji could not help but echo his friend's thoughts until the door fully opened to reveal the figure of a man they both knew oh too well. Fuji's eyes opened in disbelief and Saeki while surprised, was somehow more relieved by the fact that it wasn't the night guard.
Tezuka stepped into the wrecked washroom, eyes wide with shock. Glass shards were all over the place. Almost immediately, he felt an ache in his left temple and a sigh escaped his lips as he lightly massaged the place where the pain was. He hadn't expected this to happen when he left his house because of a bad hunch.
"Haven't I specifically warned you against breaking the school rules?" The tall youth said, disappointment evident in his voice. He moved closer towards the youth responsible for the washroom's condition, pushing aside glass shards on the floor with his foot. "What exactly happened?" he prompted the boy whom he had caught red handed.
Fuji refused to meet the older boy's eyes. "You wouldn't believe me even if I were to tell you Tezuka," he said, almost mumbling.
"The rumour was false…it wasn't Hanako-san."
"Of course it wasn't. There are no such thing as ghosts!"
"No, it wasn't Hanako-san, but it was something else!" Fuji tried to convince the other youth.
"Then what is it?!"
"I don't know!" The petite lad threw his arms up in the air in frustration. A lump formed in his throat as Saeki's death scene flashed across his mind and he swallowed hard. He probably would never forget that scene for as long as he lived.
The hazel-eyed youth adjusted his spectacles, pushing them upwards from where they had slid down to back onto the bridge of his nose. He needed to remain calm and handle the situation properly without making things worse. His former lover stood in front of him, a look of calm and indifference plastered across his features but Tezuka knew better; he had spent enough time with the other youth and knew him well enough to detect whether the expressions he was making were real or just a mask to hide his true feelings. At the moment, something was really off.
"For now, come with me," the Student Council President ordered.
Unwilling to start another pointless argument, Fuji nodded, carefully making his way to the door and trying his best to avoid stepping on the broken glass. Saeki followed silently along by his friend's side; the last thing he wanted to do was to arouse the stern tennis captain's suspicions further by conversing with Fuji.
Tezuka led the way by walking a few steps ahead of the other youth but made no attempt to engage in any form of conversation. An awkward silence descended upon the three of them, broken only by the sounds of their footfalls. Fuji continued to follow obediently as the other youth made a few more turns around corners before going down a flight of stairs. The tennis club captain took out a set of keys from his pocket just as they stopped in front of the infirmary.
"The infirmary doctor is on leave so the student council is responsible for the key to the infirmary in the meantime." The bespectacled youth explained without prompting.
Sliding the infirmary door open, he moved to the side so that the brunette could pass through before entering himself. The taller boy closed the door after him, unaware that there was another entity besides the two of them present to whom the sliding door was not an obstacle. A slightly amused Saeki passed through the door effortlessly and floated over to Fuji's side, glancing around as he did so.
"This technically can be considered trespassing but we cannot leave your wound untreated...Don't make this a habit."
Tezuka made his way over to the cabinets and began searching for the medical kit containing the supplies he would need to treat the cut on the tensai's face. Unsure of what to do, Fuji seated himself at the edge of one of the beds, a little anxious about having to face his former lover after all that had happened thus far. It was evident to the silver-haired spirit that the two boys needed some time alone to sort things. Deciding that it was best if he left the room for now, the spirit whispered softly into Fuji's ears even though Tezuka would not have heard him regardless of how loud he spoke.
"I'll wait outside."
Darkness shrouded the infirmary room as Fuji watched Tezuka in silence while the latter continued his search. They dared not switch on the lights for fear of giving away their presence within the school compound; although Tezuka was the Student Council President, it did not excuse him from the fact that he had also broken several rules and would most likely be punished as well if he was caught. All they could do for now was to quickly leave the place as soon as possible; solving the problems would have to wait till the next day.
The only source of illumination came from the moonlight that streamed in from the window and enabled Tezuka to vaguely make out the items within the medical kit. A minute or two passed before the hazel-brown haired youth finally closed the cabinet door and made his way over to where Fuji was seated.
The steel bed made a slight creaking sound as he sat down and placed a packet of cotton swabs, a bottle of disinfectant and a tube of antiseptic cream on the bed between him and the other boy. His grandfather had taught him first aid during their many frequent hiking trips so treating a small wound like this would not be a problem. First aid knowledge aside, he had spent enough years in the tennis club dealing with accidents and the occasional injury that even if he had not been trained, he would still know the basics which was enough to take care of the small cut on Fuji's face.
"This will sting a little," Tezuka murmured as he poured a little disinfectant onto a cotton swab before gentling dabbing it on the cut.
The sting of the disinfectant made Fuji flinch. He had not realized how much it would hurt until alcohol met with open wound. With all that had happened so far, the sapphire-eyed teen was still trying to digest what was happening at the moment.
"Tezuka, why are you here?" the puzzled youth finally asked.
There was no reply at first as Tezuka continued on with his treatment, seemingly ignoring the question. Unsatisfied with the lack of response, Fuji stared at him, refusing to back down.
Tezuka disposed of the used cotton swab and opened the tube of antiseptic before he finally stopped, a sigh escaping from his lips. "I had a bad feeling, so I came back to check." The tennis captain proceeded to apply some antiseptic cream onto the cut.
"What happened to the mirror?"
The sharp glare that the taller youth gave Fuji did not scare him one bit since he was used to receiving them but the question did make him feel a little guilty; it was his fault after all that the mirror in the washroom had shattered into pieces. There were consequences to every action and it seemed that telling Tezuka the truth of the matter was the only possible way out from whatever punishment awaited him if he was found out.
There was just one problem; Tezuka did not believe in ghosts.
"I'm sorry, but I really can't say." Trying to convince Tezuka of the existence of ghosts at the moment seemed to be pushing his luck too far.
"I will take responsibility for my actions."
Another moment of awkward silence descended upon them as the tensai waited for Tezuka's response. The captain heaved yet another sigh as he gathered up the medical supplies and returned them to the medical kit in the cabinet. Once done with the action, he contemplated whether or not to return to the other boy's side again given the strangeness of the situation in general. In the end, feelings won out and Tezuka sat down once again beside Fuji but did not try and get an answer anymore from the other youth; no manner of threatening would make Fuji divulge his secrets if he did not want to.
Tezuka called softly. It came almost as a shock to the other tennis player when his captain suddenly cupped his injured cheek. The gentle caress of a calloused thumb against the band aid over his cut sent shivers down his spine. His heart was not prepared for this moment and it seemed that the bespectacled teen himself was aware of the consequences that might follow from his simple touch.
"This has to stop," the firm voice echoed in his ears. "You've been through a hard time, and I didn't make things easier for you either…" as the words flowed out carefully from his mouth, Tezuka trailed his fingers along the smooth cheek towards the ear. He delicately slid Fuji's brown tresses behind his ear and repeated his gestures over and over again. "…you're letting your guard down."
"I don't exactly put on a guard," Fuji tried to joke, but failed.
"But someone did tell me I wasn't myself anymore…"
"You're right, I did let my guard down."
Tezuka nodded, and worked up a smile although his facial expression changed back to that of his stoic look in a blink of an eye. "I'll overlook tonight's incident." He said in a matter of factly way. "In exchange, I want your word that nothing of this sort will happen again."
"If it wasn't for my actions, you wouldn't be here, touching me like this," Fuji said as he thought about the unexpected turn of events and could not help a little smile.
The soft caresses did not stop despite the realization of the situation they were in. The stoic teen was not disturbed by the statement and certainly did not touch him any less because of it. Instead, the tender strokes continued on as if it were a natural act between them.
"This will be the last. I let my guard down and made you suffer because of that. Let's end it properly tonight." Tezuka said without smiling. There was a definite seriousness in the deep tone he spoke in.
"There is really no hope huh…"
Tezuka shook his head.
"Did you really hate it?"
The hazel-haired youth closed his eyes and did not reply. "Tomorrow…let's have a fresh start…" he uttered regretfully. "…as teammates, best of friends and rivals."
Fuji reluctantly bobbed his head in agreement only after a long moment passed. The painful reality was not something Fuji looked forward to facing but he understood and had finally came to terms with the fact that their relationship would never work out.
They were both quiet, unwilling to utter words that would simply hurt them more as Tezuka touched his forehead against Fuji's while his right hand continually caressed the latter's ear lightly like a fluttering butterfly does to. Their faces drew near inch by inch and soon two pairs of lips met in a gentle touch. The shock of contact instinctively caused both to pull back in a split second, only for their eyes to lock on one another. Eventually, the pair of blue orbs surrendered and fluttered close, allowing Tezuka's lips to sweep away the tensai's senses in a slow rhythm, gently and steadily dissolving the ache of being left alone in despair.
The kiss matched the crescendo of their emotions as their lips moulded perfectly together. Small noises of pleasure escaped involuntarily from their mouths. A torturous second of parting for air was one second too long as their moist, reddened lips crashed against each other's again in a desperate need to satiate the hunger they had for each other.
All semblance of control deserted Tezuka as he pinned Fuji down to the hard infirmary bed, interlocking his fingers with the other's and holding them secure at the boy's sides, trapping the lithe body beneath him completely.
What had started out as an innocent kiss had dissolved into an intense situation as Tezuka began sucking and biting Fuji's tender flesh. The brunette whimpered softly at the dance of his lover's tongue, darting in cheekily into his readily open mouth. Tezuka circled his tongue, tasting every bit of the other's fresh breath as well as the sweet fluid they exchanged via the kiss.
Tears formed in Fuji's eyes and flowed continuously down the sides of his face. He was happy yet devastated, knowing that as soon it started, it would also end. Tezuka was well aware of it himself; no matter what action he takes, he would eventually end up hurting Fuji one way or another. Right now, all he could do was to kiss away the tears from those beautiful eyes and do his best to satiate their hunger for each other before time ran out.
The summer night sky was brilliantly illuminated by the moon and the stars that made up the Vega and Altair constellations. A warm breeze shook the branches and twigs of the sakura trees that had shed their flowers last spring. The season of hydrangeas and sunflowers was here, hot and sunny throughout the day till late in the evening.
The occasional singing of the cicadas could be heard all around and were the loudest near trees, piercing through the silence of the night. The rhythmic beats were considerably calming in comparison to the tension between two young lovers as their relationship came to an end.
"Can we hold hands until we go separate ways?" Fuji asked as they emerged from the school building.
The kiss in the infirmary room seemed to last forever as both teens held on to each other. Nothing else mattered to them as they finally slowed down to sweet, lingering brushes. Firm hands that once held on to smaller, gentler ones meticulously swept the honey-coloured tresses away from the owner's face. Caught in each other's embrace, they could not help but wish that time would just freeze for all eternity so that they could preserve that moment of bliss.
Tezuka was almost as reluctant as Fuji when he had to release the petite body in his arms. They sat side by side on the bed, eyes still focused on each other until the taller youth finally got up and with one final peck on the lips, shattered the illusion of happiness and brutally brought them both back to reality.
As he made his way out of the infirmary together with Tezuka, his eyes met those of his childhood friend's and Fuji was reminded of how Saeki had been waiting outside all this while. Averting his eyes out of embarrassment despite knowing that Saeki would understand what he was going through and not tease him about it, he followed Tezuka down the hallway in silence, leaving the spirit to follow at a distance, granting both boys some privacy.
The taller of the two reached down to grasp his companion's hand once they got off the compound. There was little time left before they would have to go their separate ways and Tezuka found himself slowing down his pace, each extra second granting him the ability to grasp Fuji's hand in his a moment longer.
When they finally reached the junction where they were supposed to part ways, Fuji found himself unable to let go of Tezuka's hand. Tears welled up in his eyes as he tried to find the words to say goodbye but failed. Knowing how hard it was for Fuji to hold back the tears, Tezuka pulled the other close to him and pressed the boy's head to his chest, silently stroking his back as the tensai wept into his shirt.
In the end, Tezuka walked Fuji home, having convinced himself that allowing the brunette to walk home alone in the middle of the night when he was feeling obviously distraught was hardly a good idea. Fuji knew Saeki was around and could warn him of any danger if need be but decided to take advantage of Tezuka's sense of responsibility so they could be together a little longer.
When they finally reached the front gate of Fuji's house, Saeki disappeared into the house, leaving the couple outside in privacy.
"We're here," Fuji sniffled. His eyes were damp and his nose was cherry-red from one too many rubs. Just when he thought he had finally gotten his emotions under control, they threatened to overwhelm him again.
"Pull yourself together." Tezuka knows it's cruel to ask Fuji to smile and pretend to be happy after all he had went through but seeing the boy so completely wrecked tore apart his heart and made their inevitable parting all the more painful.
"I'm such a crybaby these days, I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry," Tezuka raised a finger to Fuji's lips. "I'm the one you should blame."
"Should I hate you then?"
"If you wish."
"But I love you."
"You said that already, and even without you saying it I would still know."
"I don't want to end this."
Fuji buried his face into his hands as he thought desperately of how he could possibly salvage their relationship. He knows he's hopelessly in love with Tezuka and that the stoic captain feels the same towards him even if the taller youth did not express them out loud. Tezuka never did explain why they had to break up; all he ever mentioned was that their relationship was a mistake. He has no doubt that it is in the eyes of society but at this moment, he cannot bring himself to care. What they had was something special and precious beyond words; was it not something worth fighting tooth and nail for?
Cupping Fuji's cheeks in his hands, Tezuka tilted the boy's face up so that their eyes met again. He cannot deny that the face before him is the only one that can send his heart into an erratic flurry. It is also the face that never fails to draw out all manner of emotions from him. No one else could ever do that to him.
"A coward like me don't deserve you. I…was happy while it lasted but we can't go on anymore. It's complicated."
"We can make it less complicated."
"I'm sorry, Fuji. I'm really sorry."
Fuji wanted to say more but all he could do was close his eyes as Tezuka planted a kiss on his forehead. He felt a slight brush on his nose moving down to his lips. It was a chaste kiss, and it meant goodbye.
Summoning up all his resolve, Tezuka released the hands he held and as their fingers parted with one final brush, he took a step back and another, then turned around, leaving the brunette watching his back as he walked away. The stoic captain paused for a moment in his steps, contemplating whether to turn around and look at the other boy one last time but hardened his heart.
Yudan sezu ni ikou.
Raising one hand above his head as a last act of farewell even as he continued to walk away, the stoic youth pursed his lips as he focused on one sole thought; when tomorrow comes, their relationship will be rewritten, just like how he wanted it to be.
But does he, truly?
~What are your fears~
~Tell me your weaknesses~
~I'll be in your nightmares~
Glass shards were scattered all over the floor. This was the fourth jar broken in the biology lab already. The scent of formalin filled the room, making everyone who entered sick and nauseous from the smell. The specimen that was once contained in the jar was strewn halfway across the floor. The biology teacher ruled out the incident as yet another malicious prank but Fuji's gut feeling told him otherwise.
Each time such an incident occurred in class, he felt a hair-raising chill course through his body. When he told Saeki about it, the deceased teen suggested that it was a side-effect of the formalin filling the air. At first, Fuji thought that was the case too, until it happened a second time, a third and now a fourth time.
Fuji knew something was not right.
Every day, something around him would break. The mirror that he always carried in his bag broke the day before. He only realized it when his finger was pierced by a broken shard as he reached into his bag for it.
Determined that the occurrences were highly unusual, Fuji decided to look into it. Skipping tennis practice was impossible, so right after they were done, Fuji rushed home. He had borrowed a few books from the school library a while back and had been constantly renewing his subscription whenever the due dates came up since then.
As soon as he reached home, Fuji dropped his backpack on his bed and pulled out the first book from the nearby shelf. He looked for anything that could explain the broken glasses, whispers and dreams. Part of him wanted to believe that it was really just a coincidence that the incidents had happened one after another, but another part of him insisted that there was definitely something supernatural at work.
"Mou, there's nothing in these books!" Fuji threw himself back on the bed after closing yet another big tome.
Since he came home, Fuji had read Paranormal Studies, Japanese Gods and Deities, Japanese Classical Horrors and even Modern Haunting but was no closer to his goal of finding out what was causing the incidents. The brunette even skipped dessert after dinner so that he quickly get back to his research. He checked the Japanese Classical Horrors text twice to learn about the previous case with Hanako-san in the toilet. None of his searches bore any fruit.
"I'm not trying to be a wet blanket or anything but maybe we were on the wrong track afterall?" Saeki, who had been reading the books along with the tensai tried to persuade his friend. "Besides, wasn't the incident in the girl's toilet already resolved? You broke the mirror, so I don't think whatever was in there could come out."
"Even if it's not the same thing, I'm positive that something is not right. You felt it too, didn't you? Even though you don't experience it physically like I do, you did sense it as well, am I not right?"
"Yeah, but how can we be sure?"
The petite boy heaved a long sigh. All the signs pointed to only one possibility. Over the course of just one week, he was plagued numerous times with bouts of vertigo, chills that shot down his spine and made the hair on his body stand as well as a feeling of restlessness. He was unable to fully concentrate in class and tennis practice. The last thing he wanted was for the people around him to start noticing that something was bothering him.
If all these abnormal body reactions wasn't enough to suggest that they were dealing with the paranormal, then he was truly at a loss.
I know what you're afraid of…
Succumb to your fears…
I will crawl out toward you and feed on your grief…
Cold sweat dampened the forehead of the sleeping teenager. He had been tossing and turning since midnight, occasionally mumbling words that are hard to make out. In the silent of the night, no one knows Fuji's condition. He hardly get a goodnight sleep, let alone one without a nightmare.
[Let's end it properly…]
[There is no hope…]
[This has to stop.]
Awoken from his usual dream, Fuji shot up on his bed, grasping tightly on his pained chest. He remembered those words. They were spoken during the times his beloved person let him go for the second time. It hurts him, and he wasn't able to let it slip his mind, sleeping or awake.
"The same dream again?" A gentle, familiar voice soothed him. The translucent spirit sat on the side of the bed next to him, trying to comfort his sorrowful friend.
Fuji nodded. No matter how many times he convinced himself that he had already let it go, it appeared again in his dreams.
"I'd better wash my face," pushing his covers away, the troubled teen set one foot on the floor.
"No, you should go back to bed…"
"I will, after I wash my face."
"There's no need for that."
"Even if you wash your face I'll still haunt you every day."
Saeki pushed his puzzled friend back on the bed. There was a wicked grin plastered on his face. Fuji had never seen the Rokkaku vice-captain smiled like that before. Every time the boy smiles, it was always a kind and friendly smile. There's nothing kind and friendly about the smile Saeki was giving him at the moment.
Pinning the smaller youth by his shoulders, Saeki's hair grew longer and turned darker. It fell to the sides of Fuji's face like curtains. His gray irises as well as the white of his eyes changed into pitch black, like the depth of nothingness. At the same time, his face was no longer his.
"Feed me your grief…"
The changed voice whispered hoarsely by the captured boy's ear. Shivers coursed through his body as cold breath caressed his skin. He had his eyes closed, unwilling to look at the creature who first assumed his childhood friend's figure but when a disgusting, uninviting tongue lapped on his cheek, Fuji's eyes shot open.
Gasping out of breath, the dreaming boy snapped his eyes wide open. He was drenched in cold sweat all over his body. His heart thumped furiously inside his ribcage as if he had run in a sprint. Once he saw the concerned look of his friend's spirit, Fuji exhaled a relieved sigh. It was just another stupid dream.
"You're not going to change into some long haired yuurei, are you?" the worried boy raised an eyebrow. If this is another dream, he ought to wake up before it turned into a nightmare. No way is he letting himself being licked by some sexual harassment ghost.
Saeki gave Fuji the 'weird' look. "I don't think I can grow hair in this condition," he responded. "I don't think it suits me anyway. And don't suddenly change the subject. What was it just now?"
"I had a nightmare…in a nightmare," Fuji answered nonchalantly.
"The usual one?"
"And something new."
"What is it about?"
Fuji looked to his side, thinking. Without warning, he extended his arms and wrapped them around his childhood friend's neck.
He didn't go through the spirit's body like before. Saeki had been able to control his spiritual energy ever since their encounter with Hanako-san's imitator. The ghost thought he needed to prepare himself for when Fuji might require his help.
As they were in an innocent embrace, the blue-eyed boy buried his face in the other's shoulder. Saeki gently rub his distressed buddy's back, helping him to calm down. The former has been having nightmares for a few nights in a row ever since he sensed something was off. Often, the light-haired youth had to wake the brunette up.
"Was death scary?" the smaller teen finally asked.
Saeki shifted and they broke their hug. The boys sat crossed legged on the bed with their backs leaning against the wall. To think it again, the two of them had never talked about the day that Saeki met his fateful death. It was too painful in the beginning and Fuji was over-emotional. It has been a couple of months since then. Perhaps the two of them are ready to face the truth.
The light-haired teen started with a short sigh. "To be honest, it didn't scare me as much as I regretted not being able to live past fifteen. Everybody die eventually, I just wish I could grow older than just a teenager. But I guess it's my time, and I already accepted it."
"Don't finish that sentence!" the spirit warned his still living friend. "If you want to atone, I want you to live for my part as well. That's why I'm still here. I told you that many times already."
"It could be forever you know. Even if I'm ceased of guilt, there will be regrets. And whenever I think of you, I would be sad. I might even cry. How do you know when you can leave me and move on?"
"Well, if it has to be forever, then thank god I'm dead," Saeki smiled, hoping that his little joke would cheer Fuji up. He raised his hand and gently patted his friend's head.
Looking at the laid-back and caring friend, the petite brunette responded with a relieved smile. Albeit wanting Saeki to move on to the other side, he was a little relieved that he still has the chance to meet his friend and spend more time together despite being separated by death.
Talking with his friend helped Fuji stabilize his emotions and helped him to calm down. He lay back in bed while Saeki sat quietly at the corner, watching over him like a guardian angel. If somehow the nightmares come again, the friendly ghost will be there for his buddy.
"Nee, Saeki," Fuji called out before he shut his eyes.
"I'll be counting on you."
Fuji was well prepared. He made sure that everything was in check. There can't be room for mistakes because based on what happened last time, what he was about to encounter was rather malicious. He wouldn't dare to think about the consequences he might face if things take turn for the worse. Nevertheless, there is only one way for him to know the result. He just have to try.
A week ago, he was in the girl's bathroom for the first year students. The broken glasses were cleaned up and a new mirror was replaced. Tezuka had covered up the story nicely for him. According to the report the bespectacled male wrote about the washroom incident, the screws that supported the big mirror were loose, thus unable to hold it in place and it smashed as it hit the solid surface. Fuji's name was never mentioned and what happened that night become another secret to both of them.
"Hopefully after this we won't be coming back in this place." As Fuji's partner in crime, Saeki loyally trailed behind the smaller boy into the dim-lit washroom.
"I could be wrong, but I have high confidence. Just remember, whatever happens, stick to the plan."
"I know. I do believe in you. It's the damned thing I doubt about," groused the ex-vice-captain. "What the hell is that thing anyway? I'm a little ashamed to think that I'm a Japanese, born and raised in this country but have never heard something like that ever existed."
"Don't ask me. I'm not the one with the connection to the underworld." Fuji glanced at his deceased friend.
Saeki shot him a menacing look and quickly dismissed the joke. "Do you think she'll appear even with lights on?"
"She already has."
Looking abruptly into the big washroom mirror, they both saw the reflection that they once saw before. Again, it assumed the look of Saeki, the one which disturbed Fuji so much before.
"I don't remember looking that bad before," although it was intended as a joke, the young spirit sounded serious.
"Do you prefer me as Hanako instead?" The image inside the mirror changed and Hanako-san appears, just like the first time they encountered the spirit before.
"Hanako-san is pretty interesting, but maybe something original is more befitting. Why don't you show yourself?" In his calm, Fuji decided to challenge his enemy.
"Hmm…like when I went into your dreams?"
The brunette shivered at the ring of the spirit's tone, but he was prepared for it. He was prepared for whatever mental games his opponent might throw at him. They watched as the image changed again into something that Fuji was familiar with. Long dark hair, pitch black eyes and a disturbing grin upon her face, it was the same as the one who pinned the tensai down in his dream.
[Feed me your fear~]
A voice invaded Fuji's range of hearing. It seems that his company was not affected by it. The ghost was trying to poison him with terror by telepathy.
[I know your fears~]
The little voice spoke again. Fuji kept staring at the mirror and its reflection. Saeki was doing the same. He wondered where Fuji found the courage to stand up against something unnatural. As a non-human he is, the silver-haired ghost had his worried about facing such ungodly being.
"In tennis, the same trick won't work twice," talking boldly, Fuji walked towards the hand basin counter and sat on it, leaning his side against the mirror so that the image is right beside him. "Saa, amuse me. Afterall, you do know my fears, don't you?"
"A petty brat like you shouldn't get cocky."
The mirror got distorted yet again. However, this time something was different. As the reflection inside the mirror touched the surface of the glass, it's finger went through it like a person emerging from another dimension.
At first, Fuji remained in his position. It was a second too late when he realized the hand that came out and touched the side of his cheek was of the ones similar to Tezuka. The ghoul had half its body out of the mirror, taking up the shape of Seigaku's Tennis Club Captain, Tezuka Kunimitsu.
"Fuji!" Detecting trouble, Saeki decided to interrupt. He froze midway when he remembered that Fuji had asked him to stay where he were.
The confidence that the tensai once have began to waver. Why did it has to be Tezuka? Why couldn't it be some scary monster instead? His azure eyes were fixed to the figure emerging from the mirror, but only from its waits up. It's face were close in range that Fuji could almost feel the breath.
"Yes, it's me. I'm sorry for hurting you so much."
Tears began to well from the boy's eyes. "Why?"
"Because I want to see you in pain. I want you to cry more."
"Why didn't you make it stop? It hurts so much."
"If it hurt so much, hate me. Be in pain. Release your anger and break things."
"Fuji, break the glass. Now!" Saeki hollered from where he was. If it's not for the promise he made to Fuji, he would've strangled the damned 'Tezuka'.
"Yes, break the glass Fuji. Break the glass and release everything."
Being controlled emotionally by the apparition of Tezuka, Fuji gripped tightly the torchlight that he had with him. One hard bang would break the mirror. He knew he can do it, just like the time before where he smashed the glass with the garbage can. Although breaking things wouldn't change anything, at least he would feel better.
"Yes, use your anger and pain. Break the glass."
Raising the torchlight high in one hand, Fuji was determined to break the mirror. Tezuka went back inside and remained an image, watching mightily as Fuji was about to break the glass. Tears were rolling down Fuji's cheeks, wetting his face. His slender arm swings with full force so that the metal of the torchlight would break the fragile surface.
Then he stopped.
Fuji took a step back and joined Saeki. A sadistic smile appeared on his beautiful face. The tears no longer flowing as he wiped the moisture away.
"How do you like a fake 'fear'?" Fuji asked in a tone that he always use to intimidate his kouhai in the tennis club. "Tezuka and I were done for good. He's no longer my weakness. Unlike you, I grow."
"They don't call him tensai for nothing, ya know," Saeki added quite proudly.
Angered, the entity inside the mirror growled in fury. The image of Tezuka was replaced by the ghost's real face. It tried to reach for the human boy but something held it back. It was bound to the mirror, unable to escape.
"Now it's your turn to feed me your fear."
"I don't have fears. Humans fear me!"
"Right, and I'm a higuma. Sometimes I'm a tsubame and other times I'm a hakugei."
Saeki snorted. Of all things to make fun of, Fuji chose an angered spirit.
"Fuji, stop. Didn't obaasan ever teach you never to mess with spiritual beings? I know she messed with you but let's just leave the poor thing alone."
"I don't really mind she harassed me, but I don't like her disturbing the school. We have our seven mysteries already, we don't need the eighth. Besides, wrecking the school properties is unforgivable. Who do you think going to end up with problems later?"
"Yeah, but don't mind him. Students will face consequences too and I don't appreciate that," the brunette said as a matter of fact. He wanted a peaceful middle school life. Paranormal disturbances don't fit the bill. "And so, we don't need you here," all serious and undisturbed, Fuji faced the phantom again.
"What can little pricks like you do? I know your fears, I'll haunt you wherever you are!"
"Saa, we could just call a diviner to perform exorcism, but that would involve a lot of people. Ah, well, since it's just you, I think Saeki and I are enough."
"You insolent human!"
"And you're just a reflection, trapped in that mirror. I've checked, the lights throughout the school were out and tonight is a moonless night. Except for this place, nowhere nearby could reflect images."
The two friends had it all figured out. The girls complained about seeing Hanako-san in the washroom, even during daylight. Fuji first encountered the spirit in the dark washroom, but it was on a moonlit night. The broken glasses and jars happened during the day, all because they can reflect images.
"You have three seconds to find out about my other fears." One finger on the light switch, Fuji started counting. "Three…" and the washroom was filled with blood-curdling shriek. "…two…" frantically, the hideous creature clawed her way out of the mirror albeit no more than her upper body. She was bound to the realm inside of the mirror. "…one."
[What I fear the most is to lose to my own fears. Losing will result in pain and I will never feed you my pain ever again~]
"Ohayou. Did you sleep well last night?"
Agile as a cat, Fuji stretched his arms upwards as he sat up on his bed. After so many sleepless night, he was able to get a decent sleep. He was a little tired, probably for using a big amount of energy battling something a human wasn't supposed to meddle with.
"I take that as a 'yes'," the teenage ghost smiled at the lack of remark from his friend. "I'm glad our plan got rid of Sadako* for real. If you keep having those dreams we're going to need to find an exorcist for real."
"If it's really a Sadako, all we need to do is make copies of DVDs and make the whole school watch. That way I could at least live until I'm thirty."
"It's weird that we never heard anything about her. I don't even know such thing exist."
Indeed the ghost they dealt with was something unheard of. Fuji knows a lot of ghost stories and he told them often to his juniors. Never has he heard anything about a female ghost in a mirror that feeds on grief or fear. He have heard about a western urban legend of 'Bloody Mary' before, but what he had experienced was a totally different story. There could be a possibility a girl had summoned the cursed creature inside the washroom but Fuji hadn't heard any rumours about someone died horribly as what was told in the case of Bloody Mary legend.. Moreover, he never summoned the said ghost in any place or time. If it really is her, then how come it appeared before Fuji?
Of course, it would be a fine joke if a character from a western ghost tale is actually bilingual. He wondered if they could change their language option like in a video game. Then he thought about some local ghosts like Otsuyu in the legend of Botan Doro or Lady Rokujyo from the Tales of Genji talking in foreign languages such as French or English. That would be a good humour instead of horror.
"Why are you laughing by yourself?" Saeki was perplexed by Fuji's little chortle.
"Nandemonai, nandemonai," Fuji waved his hand indicating it was nothing.
Leaving his room, the brunette and his ghostly company headed for the bathroom. He ran the tap water, washed his face and started brushing his teeth. They made sure that the door is shut as to not raise any suspicions from the members of the house aside from Yumiko.
"My best guess would be 'fear'," Fuji remarked after he spat the toothpaste from his mouth.
"You know when you think too much about something, it might actually come true? It's the same about fear. For example, when you're stranded alone in a dark and scary place, you'd start to think about stuff like ghosts or monsters. Sometimes your mind deceives you by making you think that it's real."
"So you think it started as a harmless paranoia among the girls and from there their imagination makes Hanako-san exist in reality?"
The smaller teen sipped water from his cup and rinsed his mouth. He repeated two more times before answering the spirit friend's question with; "something like that."
"It makes sense now why he 'copied' me that first time."
"Because I was sad."
"And the dreams about…"
"I guess I didn't quite let it go yet. I am over it now, mostly."
"Did you cry for real last night?"
Fuji shook his head. "Acting is not that hard. It was fun looking at that thing thinking that she had me when she's not."
"You are one scary dude."
"Hmmm…" Fuji hummed amusedly. "Saeki…" nonchalantly, Fuji placed his palm on one of Saeki's shoulder. "Am I really scary?"
Their eyes locked as the petite boy looked up upon the taller youth. Saeki was shocked as his friend's once blue-hues turned pitch black, similar to the ones of the inhuman being they rid off last night. Fuji smiled as the light-haired ghost released an embarrassing scream.
BANG! The bathroom door swung open. There was Yumiko standing in the middle of the opened door. She looked at her laughing brother who was facing an invisible figure.
"I heard Saeki-kun's voice just now. Was he screaming?" Questioned Yumiko bemusedly.
He younger brother was trying hard to contain his laughter and started apologizing profusely. He laughed so hard that tears started coming out.
"Gomen, neesan. I was just playing a prank on Saeki."
The older woman shook her head in discouragement. "Is that why you asked me for that black contact lens for?"
The younger sibling nodded. "Arigatou, neesan. It was fun."
"Be thankful that kaasan can't hear him screaming or she'd be worried. Play nice, okay."
Once again the male brunette was left alone with his ghost childhood mate as his sister left from the scene. Saeki had a disbelief look upon his face. He wasn't looking forward to be teased by said friend the morning after they faced some wicked creature.
"You asked Yumiko-neesan to get that for you just to make fun of me?" A little annoyed, the spirit boy crossed his arms to his chest.
Fuji took out the contact lens back into its case. He had put in on while Saeki wasn't looking the moment they stepped into the bathroom. Admittedly, he anticipated a good scare but the reaction given by the other guy was really satisfactory.
"Gomen, I never imagine I'd be fighting evil when I asked neesan for this. I'm glad I did, because the look on your face was hilarious. Arigatou, Saeki. You made my day."
"At least your sadistic side is back. I'm glad I was able to help."
Gently looking at his friend, Fuji smiled sweetly. "You know, I'm starting to feel that having you around is not a bad thing. I'm not saying forever. If you could stay for a little longer, I'd be happier. We can do a lot of stuff together like we used too. It's not quite the same with you being a ghost, though. The least we could do is spend more time together before you leave. When the time comes, I'll say goodbye to you properly."
"That sounds like a plan."
The middle-scholar spirit placed his palm on top of his buddy's head. He gently stroke the brown hair as a comforting gesture. Neither of them can be sure of what the next day or the day after would bring, but at least they still have their friendship that even separated by death will not be broken.
"When that time comes, we'll look back at all the things we had been through together and let's say goodbye with a smile."
"For my dearest childhood friend, even when I'm crying, I will make sure that my smile is the last thing you'll see."
Bloody Mary: is a very famous legend that even I, who live on the other side of the country where the legend originated from knows of it. One of the famous version mentioned that if you go into a bathroom and call her 3 times infront of the mirror, she will appear and kill you or something like that.
Sadako: A character from the famous J-horror movie 'Ring'. In the movie, people who watch a DVD that shows her crawling our from a well will die after 7 days. The only way to survive the curse is to make copies of the DVD and have other people watch it.
Otsuyu (The Legend of Botan Doro/The Legend of Peony Lantern): A widowed Samurai named Ogiwara saw a beautiful young lady and her maid at night. He instantly fell in love with her. They became lovers and each night, the young lady, Otsuyu will visit him while the maid who leads the path with peony lantern, waits outside. One day, a concerned neighbour peeked through a hole of Ogiwara's house and saw he was fondling a skeleton with rotting flesh, so he went to see a Buddhist monk. The monk warned Ogiwara and gave him talismans to put up around his house. As told, Ogiwara did so and Otsuyu wasn't able to come in. It proved that Otsuyu and her maid is not human. However, weakened by the crying pleas of his lover, Ogiwara gave up and succumbed to her. The next day, his neighbour went to check on him, but he was nowhere home. The neighbour went to find the monk and they searched for Ogiwara. In they end, they found him buried in the crypt of Otsuyu's grave, his body entangled with her skeletons.
Lady Rokujo (Tales of Genji): The mistress of Genji Hikaru from the Tales of Genji. When Genji Hikaru reconciled with his legal wife, Lady Aoi; Lady Rokujo was burned with jealousy. She somehow had an out-of-body experience, somewhat like a dream where she visit Lady Aoi and torture her. Lady Rokujo is categorized as an 'ikiryo', a living spirit in which a person's hatred is tremendous, it becomes evil spirit.
Nandemonai: Japanese for 'nothing'. Like when someone ask you "what's up" or "what's wrong" and you asnwer "nothing", something like that.
p/s: due to the document uploading system, some words could be missing. I noticed this because some of the words from previous chapters went missing making the sentences didn't flow smoothly. I just thought I ought to mention that.
A/N: That was one long chapter! Thanks for reading again. I hope I don't disappoint you with this fic because before this some of you mentioned how this fic was well-written. That was actually because I have wonderful beta-editors and they helped improved the language flow of this fic. I know my english is not that bad, but sometimes reading a poor-written fic could bore you. I just don't want that to happen especially to those who had followed this story from the beginning.
Anyway, I'm glad I managed to post yet another chapter and featured a few more entities. There are 5 in this chapter, including the 'fear'. She is something that I created myself, but based on some theories that I know, so I guess it counts as one to make the 100 that I promised. So I recounted from the first chapter, including this chapter there are 14 kinds of paranormal "occurrences/entities".
Chapter 1: Ookiku
Chapter 2: Saeki
Chapter 3: Fuji's out-of-body experience, yuurei (spirit of the dead)
chapter 4: Orihime & Hikoboshi (because they are mythical creature, I will count them as part of the 100 kaidankai)
Chapter 5: Spirit of the old lady, lingering spirits during obon that follow Fuji around
Chapter 6: Toire no Hanako-san
Chapter 7: 'Fear', Sadako, Bloody Mary, Otsuyu, Lady Rokujo
A little explanation about 'fear'. I couldn't really explain about it in this chapter but in the previous chapter she was in the mirror but Fuji felt her holding his hand. In this chapter, that didn't happen, instead, she can crawl out partially from the mirror. The idea was, after breaking a lot of reflected surfaces (ie: the jars in the biology room, etc) she gained more power. She can manifest herself into a 'real' form but because her power is not enough, only half of her body was out of the mirror. That was why she wanted Fuji to break the glass. That would be the final step for her to break free fully from the realm inside the mirror and become a real monster instead of just an entity that exist because of accumulated fears.
I will work on the next chapters to make sure I complete all 100 kaidankai. Thank you for being patient with me and for giving me your support. I look forward to hear comments and criticism from all of you. Until next time!