By Honest Beauty
Disclaimer: I do not own KKJ, nor any of the characters there in. I'm just borrowing them for my own pleasure ^^
Also, my muse has not beta'ed this story, so even though I am posting it, it's not as good as it could be.
I was tired. Tired of it all. Tired of being treated like some pampered prince because of who my father is, tired of his constant remarrying, tired of his different wives trying to mother and cozy up to me, and tired of how my father was always trying to get close to me.
So I pulled a sweater on, grabbed my wallet and headed for the door, ignoring everyone that I came across. Stopping briefly to slip on my shoes, I heard my father's latest wife come down the main staircase.
"Chiaki-kun!" Her high pitched voice and casual use of my name grated on my already taut nerves. I slowly turn to face her. She walked up to me and halted a foot or so away.
"What is it, Keiko-san?" I asked her shortly, my tone annoyed and impatient, my eyes surely conveying my distaste for her. Her eyes registered hesitation and intimidation before becoming determinedly cheerful.
"Your father just called. He said he would be home in a few minutes, just in time for dinner. So why don't you take off your shoes and join us? It's really too late for you to go wandering around anyways, dear." She placed her perfectly manicured hand on my shoulder and smiled fakely at me. I felt my shoulders tighten and my eyebrows slam together in fury. Barely keeping a reign on my temper, I jerked my shoulders and stepped away from her.
"First of all, I'm not your 'dear'. Second, you can't tell me what I should and shouldn't do. Third, don't ever touch me again. Sayonara." Giving her another one of my glares, I pivoted and opened the door.
"Chiaki-kun! Come back inside this in—" Slamming the front door behind me, I cut her now shrill voice off. To prevent her from siccing the servants on me, I ran for not the front gate, but a huge old oak tree that stood against the wall facing the sidewalk.
Hearing the servants calling my name, I sped up. Reaching the base of the tree, I immediately started climbing. Nimbly I scaled the trunk and stood on one of thicker branches. This tree had been my hideaway since mother died.
I was slightly pleased to notice that I wasn't the least bit out of breath. The only thing that I could find refuge in nowadays was physical exertion. So the least to say I was in very good shape. My balance has always been good, so I simply walked along the branch over the top of the wall to where it hung over the sidewalk.
Feeling the branch start to sag under my weight, I crouched down and grabbed the smooth bark of the branch with my strong hands. Kicking away from my perch, I quickly straightened my body and swung down and forward in a pendulum motion.
Seeing that my legs were almost perpendicular to the sidewalk below me, I released the branch and allowed my body to fall the four feet to the ground. I landed with catlike quietness on flexed knees.
Standing up, my keen night vision allowing me to see the dark and deserted street easily, I directed one last sullen glare at the eleven foot wall between me and the house I lived in. then I set off in the direction of downtown at a brisk pace.
Once there I stopped. Now what do I do? I thought looking around at the bright lights and many people crowding downtown Momokuri. After a few seconds of thought, I decided to just walk, letting my feet carry me where they would.
Wandering along slowly with my troubled and depressed thoughts, I tuned out most of the world. What was the point of it all anymore? I had no real purpose or goal in life, there was nothing that I could do that no one else couldn't.
Raising my gaze I looked around, trying to find answers to my questions. A flicker of movement to my left caught my eye. Stopping and turning I blinked and stared. Floating about two feet away at my eye level was a little person with black wings.
How is it floating without moving its wings? I pushed the idle question into the back of my mind. Purely out of curiosity, I grabbed the thing, half expecting it to be a figment of my imagination.
"What the…?" the words fell from my mouth subconsciously when I felt cloth and warmth as my fingers closed around the creature. Its dark purple hair tickled the back of my fingers as well as its—his? It looked male to me, despite the long hair—feathers.
Under my thumb I could felt the creature's heartbeat and his lungs inhale and exhale. That was what convinced me that whatever he was, he was real. Huge amber eyes looked up at me in a mix of shock and confusion.
"What a strange creature…" I mused. Then he started struggling in my hands and opened his tiny mouth.
"Let me go! Let go!" he yelled at me waving his small arms. I almost dropped him, but managed to keep my fingers around the squirming torso of my captive
"Y-you can talk?" I blurted the half question out intelligently, bringing him closer. The creature froze arms half raised staring at me like I had grown horns or something.
"Y-you can see me?" he exclaimed, clearly surprised. He had pointed canines that peeked out of his open mouth. So surprised by the whole situation I answered him.
"Of course. I wouldn't grab you if I couldn't see you." The creature's eyes then suddenly took on a thoughtful gleam. Seeing people staring at me, I realized that no one else could see him, which from his tone was to be expected. So I released him and dropped my hand to my side.
Casually looking around to appear normal, I saw that I was in front of a movie theater. The billboard announced the feature film: "Sinbad's Adventure".
"Hey, since you can see and hear me, will you help me on my mission?" the high male voice of the creature only I could see came from my left. Looking out of the corner of my eye, I saw hope, plans and desperation in those amber eyes. Not turning towards him, I replied.
"Maybe, I'm going to walk somewhere that I'm less likely to be seen and heard talking to thin air." I stated softly and walked away, giving the creature the choice of following me or not. A second later I heard the flutter of his wings and knew he was following me.
Not knowing of a better place, I snuck back into my house via climbing the tree by my window. After climbing through the unlocked window, I strode over to the door and locked it, preventing anyone from disturbing me and my…guest.
"This is my room, so feel free to make yourself comfortable." I told the little creature, flopping into an overstuffed armchair near my bed. He looked slightly puzzled but floated down to sit on the table beside the chair.
"If this is your room, why did you climb in through the window?" Glancing sharply at him, I answered shortly.
"I'm avoiding my parents. Who and what are you anyway?" I questioned him, to prevent him from asking any other questions of me.
"My name is Access Time and I'm a kuro-tenshi."
"A kuro-tenshi? What is that?" I asked and listened as he explained of the angel hierarchy, heaven and Kami-sama. I found his explanation hard to believe, but since I had proof enough right in front of me I forced myself to accept it.
"Okay, I believe you, barely. Since you gave me your name, let me tell you mine. It's Nagoya Chiaki. Just call me Chiaki for short."
"Access." The angel replied as I inspected him further, seeing him do the same. He had very long purple hair caught in a low ponytail at the nape of his neck that ended below his knees, in front of pointed ears were forelocks that brushed his shoulders and messy bangs. A purple teardrop rested on his forehead, which Access said was one of the things that marked him as a dark angel and was his power focus.
He was wearing light bluish purple pants with what looked like feathers sticking out of the foot holes, long sleeve shirt of the same color with a dark purple tunic over it. A dark purple sash trimmed with black over his right shoulder that connected to the black belt like sash around his waist.
Yet another sash, purple with black trim, came down from his belt to hang just past his knees, covering his groin area. He had on black shoes and white gloves as well. His wings were dark, but not quite black. There was a jewel at the wing joint of each wing as well.
His sharp amber eyes sized me up. I knew what he would see: a tall young man of 16 years, with a gymnast's build, dark chestnut brown eyes, blue hair a few shades lighter than his father's that was slightly untidy with long messy bangs that almost hung in his eyes. Basically a younger version of my father.
"So what exactly is this mission you want my help on?" I asked, breaking the silence. Access' features took on a grave look and the kuro-tenshi told me everything.
I listened, fascinated despite myself, to the tale Access wove. From the ancient war between Kami-sama and the devil all the way up to Kami-sama giving Access the task to protect Kusakabe Maron, the reincarnation of Jeanne d'Arc from the brainwashed jun-tenshi, Fin Fish (whom I strongly suspected Access was in love with) and the devil.
"Why don't you just go to Kusakabe-san and explain it to her?" I asked. For some reason, I wanted to help this little guy. Access shook his head regretfully.
"Because, even if I did, Kusakabe wouldn't believe me. Since Fin got there first, and right now she has the heart of an angel, I wouldn't be able to convince her that Fin is brainwashed. And Fin would most likely try to eliminate me if I tried to approach Kusakabe-san at all." Access looked stricken as he said the last part.
"So what's your plan?" I queried.
"The best course of action I can think of right now is to steal her targets so Fin can't get the power to take to the devil. And that's where you would come in, Chiaki." I leaned towards him and motioned for him to elaborate.
"You would become a kaitou like her, I can give you the power and training, and you would steal her targets and hinder her in any way you can think of as long as you don't hurt her. That is, if you choose to help me. I wouldn't blame you if you decided not to. It'd be dangerous for you, you could end up permanently injured, dead or worse." The little angel warned me solemnly.
"And if I don't? What's your back up plan?" I asked, curious to see whether or not Access had planned for the possibility. The angel paused only a second to gather his thoughts before responding.
"Well, as a lone kuro-tenshi, I wouldn't be able to stop or really even hinder Fin or Kaitou Jeanne. I would either have to find another human that can see and hear me and ask them to help me…or go back to heaven and ask for advice and/or help from a more senior angel or Kami-sama."
"And how likely is the former option to happen?" I asked, hearing the hopeless tone in which Access had stated it. In addition, I could well imagine the proud and determined angel's shame if he had to admit to Kami-sama that he couldn't complete the task assigned to him. I felt my heart go out to the little guy, knowing how I'd feel in his shoes.
"Nigh impossible to impossible. Kusakabe-san can see angels due to being the reincarnation of Jeanne d'Arc and having the powers of Kami-sama. But other than her, no human should be able to see us. I'm not sure myself how you can see and hear me, to be completely honest." Came the prompt response.
"Let me sleep on it. This is a lot of information to take in and it involves a lot of belief on my part. I'll tell you my answer in the morning." I said getting to my feet and looking down at the angel. Access nodded, clearly glad that I hadn't outright refused. Unlocking my door, I slipped across the hall into the bathroom. Once there I completed my nightly routine.
Padding back into my room in only my pajama pants and a tank top, I saw Access sitting in the same spot he had been, but looking a little lost and unsure. I felt sympathy for the little angel. So I grabbed one of my smaller pillows from my bed and placed it beside him on the table.
As Access looked up hopefully at me, I nodded reassuringly. The angel needed no further invitation. He immediately began wrestling his shoes off. I turned and went to my dresser and pawed through my shirts till I found one of my warm soft undershirts.
Returning to the makeshift bed I saw Access blinking tiredly up at me in a cross-legged position. To one side of the pillow I saw his shoes, socks, gloves, belt and sashes piled untidily together. I laid out the shirt so he could arrange it to his liking. Suddenly thinking of something, I looked down at the kuro-tenshi.
"Hey do angels have similar physical needs as humans?" I asked, curious and a little embarrassed. Access thankfully picked up on what I was asking.
"Not totally. We do have to breathe and stuff, but we don't have to eat. The magical energy in heaven is our nourishment. But since I'm on earth, I'll probably have to eat, especially if I use a large amount of my magic or I get injured. And if I eat, I'll obviously have to use the restroom as well." The angel said frankly then yawned hugely.
"And, same thing with sleeping, though angels normally need to sleep only a few hours a day in heaven, on earth, I need the same amount of sleep a human would." As if to prove this point, he yawned again, showing his large canines and snuggled into the pillow, pulling my shirt around him snugly. I nodded and turned away.
As I crawled into my own bed, I felt his tired but keen gaze on me. I switched off the light and glanced at my alarm clock. It said it was almost 1:30 a.m. Thank Kami-sama I don't have school tomorrow. I thought sleepily and pulled the covers over my suddenly tired body.
"Oyasumi Access." I said softly.
"Oyasumi Chiaki." The sleepy reply came.
As I woke up, the events of last night came flooding into my mind, along with my morose thoughts from earlier yesterday evening. After thinking things through and glancing over at the table to see the angel's clothes to make it was all real, I came to my conclusion.
This is something only I can do, something that has to be done, or the world as we know it will end. If I were to do this, my life would finally have a purpose. That decided me; the fact that I, Nagoya Chiaki, was needed to do something no one else could: help save the world from the devil.
With that thought, I sat up and looked at the clock: 11:48 a.m. It's a wonder someone hasn't come in to wake me up yet. I thought wryly as I swung my legs over the edge of my bed and tossed the covers back.
Sliding my feet into my slippers, I stood up and walked over to Access, who had just sat up and was attempting to stretch and rub the sleep from his eyes simultaneously.
"Ohayou, Chiaki." The angel greeted me as he tossed my shirt off and floated over to where his things were.
"Ohayou Access." I replied as started to assemble himself. While he pulled on socks, shoes, sashes and his belt, I tied to think of the best way to tell him my decision. He was pulling on his gloves by the time I decided to just tell him.
"Access, I'll do it. I'll help you on your mission." I told the kuro-tenshi bluntly. He looked up sharply.
"Even though it's going to be dangerous, and it's a very real possibility that you will be maimed, killed or worse? That you could be caught humans and revealed? That even with both of us doing our best, the devil may still win?" he asked soberly, his amber eyes staring unwaveringly into mine.
"I do. And while I can't say I like the idea of any of those things happening, I know I have been searching for someone or something that needs me to do something. Something that no one else can do but me. To give my life a purpose and a goal." I replied evenly, looking at the angel who now floated in front of my face. He gazed intently into my eyes as if searching my soul for something. Obviously finding it, whatever it was, he nodded decisively.
"Great! I really appreciate what you are choosing to do, Nagoya Chiaki." The angel's tone was semi-formal, but his grin was fit to split his face in two. I grinned crookedly.
"Well, you could say that you and your mission were a God-send for me." I said, tongue firmly in cheek. My comment had the desired effect of lightening the mood and the both of us laughed.
"By the way, how are you feeling? You said last night that this was the first time on Earth for you. Any side effects I should know about?" I asked, seeing that Access looked a little wilted.
"I feel kinda empty, and my stomach hurts." The angel looked a little unnerved by what his body was doing.
"It's because you need to eat I'm betting." I told him, swallowing a laugh. Access calmed down considerably, probably remembering what he had said before. "The feeling is called being hungry and quite often your stomach will growl, like now." I continued, hearing a surprisingly loud grumble from the direction of the kuro-tenshi's torso. To my amusement Access blushed but he laughed.
"I guess you're right, Chiaki." The angel said ruefully. I turned after nodding, grabbed some clothes and headed to the bathroom.
"After I get dressed, I'll go fetch us some breakfast. We can eat it in here." I told him over my shoulder as I opened the door.
After breakfast, which had been interesting due to Access' reactions to food, and his frequent exclamations of how good everything was, I left the tray outside my door and locked it, so no one could disturb us.
"Okay, let's get started." I stated, surprising myself with the level of anticipation and cheer in my voice. Access nodded then cast a measuring glance around the room.
"Sounds great but first off: where can we go so that you have plenty of room to move, but won't be disturbed?" I ran my hand through my hair absently as I thought. The gym downstairs? No, someone might walk in. Here? Nah, if I made too much noise, I would attract attention. Wait what about… I snapped my fingers.
"I know the perfect place." I stated grinning. "It'll be a bit of a walk…or flight in your case." Access chuckled as I gathered up my shoes and jacket. Then a thought occurred to me. "What exactly will we be doing?" I asked with a glance to my clothing, a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt.
"I'll be giving you your kaitou disguise and powers, then begin your training." He must have caught my glance, for he continued. "So what you're wearing is fine if you are comfortable walking to wherever this place you know of is." I nodded and shrugged my jacket on. Slipping my shoes on I slid open the window and climbed through.
After closing the window behind me, I climbed down the tree and was off at an easy run, heading for the back right hand corner of the property, which was actually a part of Momokuri Park on the other side of the eleven foot fence. It was a heavily wooded area of the park that few to no people came into.
A year ago I had stumbled upon a hidden grove near the fence that was nigh impossible for someone to discover. The clearing, which was roughly circular in shape, was ringed by thick trees whose trunks were so close together, not even the thinnest child could slip a hand between them, and some of them had actually fused together. So to enter I had to climb one of the trees, move to the other side then literally climb down into the clearing.
Access, who had continued to float above my left shoulder since I left the house, flew into the center of the grove and spun slowly, inspecting it. He flew above the treetops to scan for the nearest dwelling and finding that my dad's house was the closest, and even that was far enough away to suit the kuro-tenshi. He floated back down, whistling his approval.
"I couldn't have asked for a better training place for our purposes!" he exclaimed. "Is all that yours?" the angel asked pointing to a lumpy mound under a forest green tarp, in one of the mini-pockets formed by the trees.
"Yeah, I've been slowly bringing stuff here since I found it. When I get fed up with my dad and his latest wife, I camp out here." I assured Access, going over to the tarp and pulling it back to reveal several watertight plastic chests.
"What all do you have?" he asked me.
"Small tent, sleeping bag with a pillow, several jugs of water, dried food, spare clothes, miscellaneous tools and other stuff." I listed off, recovering the chests. I then turned to the floating angel and cocked an eyebrow. "Well, what happens now?"
"Huh?" Came the intelligent reply.
"How does one go about training to be a kaitou?" I clarified.
"Oh, right." Access said quickly then paused. "Well, I'm not too sure myself…" the kuro-tenshi tilted his head in thought.
"Can you spy on Fin and Jeanne to see how they're going about it?" I suggested.
"Yeah. One sec." Access closed his eyes and frowned in concentration. Slowly his purple focus jewel started to glow a pale white. A second later Access's eyes popped open and the glow died.
"Okay what Fin did was give Maron an Angel's feather that become her transformation rosary. But Fin has to power it up before Maron can henshin. The henshin changes Maron's looks and clothes. And Fin seems to be training her on the go." Access reported.
"I presume you now have a game plan? 'Cause I'm still pretty much lost." I prompted.
"Yup. I'm going to make a spell that will transform you, but after the first time I'm going to teach you to do it yourself." Access told me. "Now I need to come up with a good outfit…" He thought for a moment. "Well what would you be comfortable wearing for a fight?"
"Hmm," I hummed pondering the question. "Well, tough, comfortable pants, not too tight in the leg, not too loose at the waistband. A t-shirt, loose fitting, with a fairly wide neck so someone couldn't choke me with it. Durable but flexible shoes with no laces or stuff to catch on things." I paused reviewing over my putative outfit so far, thinking what more was needed. "Gloves, for fist fights and to prevent people from getting my fingerprints off stuff I touch. And…some sort of coat for extra protection." I finished, looking up at Access.
"Okay, I can do that." He replied and raised his flattened hands up, palms facing me. As his hands started glowing I felt my muscles tense from nerves and anticipations. The angel must have noticed this.
"Chiaki, you're going to have to relax. The type of spell I'm casting has to be openly accepted by the castee or else it's not going to work." The little guy told me, his hands still glowing. "It's not going to hurt okay? Just feel a bit weird." I flushed, not wanting to come across as a coward.
"Right. Sorry Access." I apologized and consciously relaxed and opened my mind to him. A moment later the glow from Access's hands turned blue, intensified and flowed gently towards me. The power enveloped me, completely filling my vision with blue light.
The magic felt a little odd, tingly and warm, but benevolent. Feeling calm and safe within my cocoon I closed my eyes and relaxed totally. When I did, the cocoon lifted me into the air so that my bare toes brushed the very tips of the grass.
Wait…bare? My hands, which had been hanging at my side, did a quick check to confirm what I felt. I had not a stitch on me, not even underwear. I'm so glad I have the spell covering me. I thought dropping my hands as I felt its gentle presence caress my flesh. An instant later I felt the most curious sensation of clothes forming around me. The magic swirled around my hips, solidifying into what felt like boxer-briefs.
But the curious calm from the spell prevented me from panicking and I just accepted it. Next ankle height socks came into existence on my feet. It seemed that Access planned on creating my kaitou outfit from underclothes out. My shirt came next: wide-necked and loose, the sleeves came down to the middle of my biceps, and the hem to just past the tops of my hips.
The magic of the spell then flowed like dry water down my legs to solidify into pants. The waistband was secure, but not too tight, the rest of the pants were baggy, but not to the point of being a hindrance. They did tighten a bit along my lower calves and ankles. The reason why came a half-second later.
Boots formed to encase my feet closely. The soles were supportive and flexible, while the tops of the boots came to where my pant legs narrowed. A comforting weight settled softly on my shoulder as I felt full length sleeves form on my arms. The weight was like that of a warm cloak on a cold winter's night. The sleeves were like my pant legs, neither too tight nor too loose.
The spell moved on to form gloves around my relaxed hands. The gloves fit well, not like a second skin, being thick enough to protect my hands in combat. The gloves ended an inch or so past my wrists and were tucked under the coat sleeves. I thought the spell would be done then, but Access clearly wanted to put some finishing touches on the outfit.
But still…a necklace? I thought as I felt the weight of it draped across my collar bones and the back of my neck. A headband was next, fitting snugly around my head and under my bangs but slightly off balance. The right side was heavier and I felt the brush of cloth in front of my right ear.
So the knot must be off center. I'm guessing that is for aesthetics I mused to myself, as what felt like a bandanna came into being, covering the end of my nose and bottoms of my ears. I felt the knot at the back of my head as well.
The power surrounding me swept around me once then dove into my body, and with it came an incredible rush of energy. I opened my eyes reflexively, in time to see the blue of the spell fade. My body stopped floating and I lightly landed on my feet, feeling the hem of my coat brushing against my calves. I looked down to inspect my completed kaitou outfit.
"Whoa." The surprised and slightly awed noise escaped my lips almost without unawares, only to be muffled by the bandanna that also prevented me from seeing what my necklace looked like. I ignored it for the moment, preoccupied by the rest of my outfit.
The shirt was a rich navy blue, pants a deep teal, boots and gloves black, while the trench coat was surprisingly white. There was no way to tie it, and the cut of it made it leave about half a foot of my front uncovered. The sleeves had two black stripes at my biceps and a smaller white one at my wrists or just above them anyway.
Moving the white cloth on my faces away I saw the necklace was a simple golden yellow braided band with a long, smooth red jewel, oval in shape, at the center. Looking to my right I saw another jewel just like the first, but this one was strung on a golden yellow braided band just above a knot and tassel. Following it up with my eyes, I moved the dark blue swath of cloth between it and me. Both the cloth and tassel came down enough to brush my right shoulder. As my eyes moved up, the fringes of my bangs came into view.
"What the hell?" I exclaimed, reaching up to grasp my lighter hair. Ignoring the swish of my coat, I whirled and opened one of my chests. Rummaging through it, I shortly pulled out a hand mirror as Access stayed wisely out of the way. I held it up in front of my face, a startled gasp leaving me.
My hair and eyebrows were now a bluish off-white! And my eyes were a deep sapphire blue! Lowering the object, I turned to where my new partner was, who was looking worried and amused.
"What happened?" I demanded, a little upset at him for not warning me.
"It's just a part of your disguise, Chiaki. Your kaitou disguise can't just be a clothes change. After all, your natural hair color is rather distinctive isn't it?"
"Well yes, but this isn't permanent is it?" I asked.
"Of course not! Only when you're in kaitou mode." The angel assured me. Calming down a bit I sighed and ran a hand through my hair.
"Is there anything else I should know about?" Not surprisingly, Access nodded.
"Yes, the spell forms a kind of glamour around you. People won't be able to connect 'Kaitou Sinbad' with 'Nagoya Chiaki' by looking at you or hearing you speak. Your voice is slightly different, though you can't hear it, and it's muffled by the bandanna as well. So unless you say or do something that is unique to Chiaki, like a signature hand signal or saying, no normal person will be able to tell Sinbad and Chiaki are one and the same." He paused. "What do you think?"
"I really like it, even the hair and eyes as long as it's only when I'm transformed. But can we get rid of the bandanna? It interferes with my breathing a bit."
"No, remember the glamour I was telling you about?" I nodded. "Well, Jeanne has that too, but by the nature of you both being Kaitous, the magic doesn't work against those with the same abilities. So if Maron knew you, Chiaki, then saw you as Sinbad, she would be able to tell who you are, if you didn't have the bandanna." He finished, spreading his hands.
"Okay, I understand. But will Jeanne know about all this as well?" I asked.
"No. Neither will Fin, because she doesn't know that angel's can bestow another human other than Maron with a kaitou's abilities." The angel said confidently. I sighed in resignation, making the cloth of the bandanna flutter, but mentally accepted the fact. Glancing back at the mirror I got a better look at my headband.
It was made of two separate pieces. There was an under layer of navy blue cloth that was about two inches in width, with an over layer of the same golden yellow braided cord that my necklace was made of. Both were tied as one into a knot at my right temple.
"So do the necklace and headband do anything? Or are they just there to make me look cool?" I asked half joking. But Access nodded decisively and grinned. I raised my now pale eyebrow and gestured for him to continue.
"The bead on your necklace works as a communicator with me. So if you need advice or help or I need to contact you while you're in your kaitou form, I can." I nodded, fingering said bead, which rested just below the hollow of my throat.
"And the headband?" Now Access became completely serious.
"Okay, pay close attention. Your headband is the key to your henshin. To change back to your civilian self simply pull the headband off. It won't fall off, nor will it be able to be removed by anything but a human hand. But," the kuro-tenshi paused for emphasis, "the headband will be able to be removed by any human hand, not just your own." Golden eyes looked straight into my own as a chill ran down my back.
If someone thinks to pull that off, or just happens to in a struggle, my cover's blown, the mission's blown, and they'll toss me into jail or under house arrest at the very least, leaving the Earth to fall into the Devil's claws. The thought froze my blood briefly and the hair on the back of my neck prickled. I'll never let my guard down enough for someone to do that. Too much depends on me. I thought firmly, my hands fisting as I looked up squarely into Access's golden eyes. The kuro-tenshi must have seen the determination in my currently blue eyes as he nodded sharply and smiled.
"On that note, let's get started with your training Kaitou…uh…Shimatta I knew I was forgetting something!" Access exclaimed, frustration coloring his words.
"My Kaitou name." I supplied and thought. But every alias name I came up with I realized that somebody who knew me could guess who I was if I used it.
"Wait a second! Chiaki, remember where we first met?" The angel asked me excitedly.
"Yeah, in front of a movie theater showing 'Sinbad's Adventures'." I replied.
"Then that'll be your name: Kaitou Sinbad!" the kuro-tenshi stated proudly. I rolled the name over in my head, testing it.
"Kaitou Sinbad." The name sounded good out loud. "And no one will be able to connect me with 'Sinbad'." I pointed out, mostly to myself.
"Okay, back to what I was saying." Access recalled my attention. "Welcome to the beginning of your training Sinbad!" I grinned at his enthusiasm, even though I knew he couldn't see it. "First step: henshining and undoing it." I saw the importance of both parts immediately. I needed to be familiar with both processes and how long each took.
Undoing the henshin was easy. I simply lifted a gloved hand up to the knot on my headband, grasped it firmly and pulled upwards. It was a curious sensation, de-henshining. My clothes faded away, simultaneously being replaced by my previous clothes, so I wasn't naked even for a moment. I caught my hair darkening as the bandanna dissolved. According to my internal clock the whole thing took about 3½ seconds.
"Something I forgot to mention." Access said recapturing my attention. I looked up as he continued. "While you're de-henshining, which is to say, breaking or dissolving the spell, the released magic gives you some last minute protection, by blurring your form and features from the time you pull off the headband, till you are completely back to Chiaki."
"That's really good to know." I said. "That gives me about 3½ seconds to get away, knock out my opponent or hide if someone pulls my headband off." I continued, thinking out loud. Access nodded his head.
"Now the last time, I had to form the spell as I was casting it. Now that the spell is complete, I'll walk you through it then you'll do it." The angel said. I nodded as his hands started to glow. Then a thought occurred to me.
"Hey Access," I said, gaining his attention, "Will I have an object or device to act as a trigger or catalyst in order to henshin? Like Jeanne's rosary?" The little angel thought for a long moment.
"Well, I was planning to give you one, but now that I think about it, you don't actually need one."
"What would be the difference?"
"If I gave you a device, then all you would have to do is trigger the henshin.
"But I'd be screwed if I couldn't get to it for whatever reason." I pointed out, my brow furrowed in thought and my chin in my hand.
"True. The other way is for you to learn how to activate the spell itself. This would be harder for you to learn to do, but the benefits would be that you wouldn't have to rely on anything to help you henshin and eventually you'll be able to use your kaitou powers while still in civilian form. But in either form, the only way to de-henshin would be to pull off the headband." He pointed out, giving me an oblique look.
"And that would be a double-edged blade. In a pinch, I could take out my enemy or enemies without taking the time to henshin, but if someone saw me do that, who knew about Kaitou Sinbad…" I mused.
"They could make the connection between you and your kaitou alias." Access finished soberly.
"But the benefits would outweigh the risks." I stated decisively, raising my head. "How will this work?"
"I'm going to place the spell within you and activate it. You'll follow me with your mind when I activate it. I'll show you once, walk you through it once or twice, and then you'll have to learn how to activate yourself." Access replied after a moment of thought.
"It'll probably take you up to a minute or two the first couple of time, make you tired and maybe give you a headache from the concentration. How I'm making the spell is that there will be no verbal component of it, so you don't have to say anything, and no needed gestures of physical position. Though you might be able to focus better in a certain position, but that'll be up to you." The kuro-tenshi finished. I nodded and calmed myself.
"Now this henshin's going to be faster, because I already have the outfit designed, so I won't be forming it as you henshin. And this spell will give you your magical powers that you will eventually be able to access even when you're not Sinbad."
"Okay, I'm ready." I said, totally relaxed. The henshin was indeed quicker and I followed what Access did to activate the spell very carefully. Opening my eyes I grinned and gave the angel a gloved thumbs-up.
I pulled the headband off. But when the after-effects of the spell wore off I could still faintly feel the magic within me: a warm, slightly heavy sphere of light at the care of my being.
Access then kind of took over my mind, so I was in the passenger's seat observing him drive. He showed me what to do, gave me a feel for what I should 'do' to activate the henshin spell. He did this once more, and then left my mind.
"Your turn." He said. I took a deep breath and released it slowly, steadying myself as I turned to look inward to activate my henshin.
It wasn't easy. I knew how, but yet couldn't get it, it was just out of my reach, I felt my focus wavering so I closed my eyes and crossed my forearms over my chest in and 'X' with my fisted hands resting on my shoulders. To trap my focus I thought whimsically.
There! I exclaimed silently as everything abruptly clicked. The henshin was slow but steady. I opened my eyes to find that I was slightly sweaty and out of breath.
"Is this normal for me to feel as if I just ran a mile?" I asked using my sleeve to wipe the sweat off my forehead.
"Yes, for the first five transformations or thereabouts." He replied. I nodded and pull my bandanna down from my nose to let it hang around my neck as I grabbed a water bottle and drank half its contents. After closing it and putting it down, I stretched briefly to relax my tense muscles and looked at my diminutive partner.
"Ready to try again?"
"Yup. How long did it take for me to transform by the way?" I asked as I undid my henshin.
"About a minute and a half once you actually were able to activate it." Came his prompt reply.
"Let's get that down to a minute shall we?" I said and again closed my eyes and crossed my arms as I searched my mind for how I had activated the spell last time. Finding that feeling, I replicated, directing it towards the globe of power within me.
I felt the sphere brighten then rapidly expand, changing shape as it did so into an oblong shell that encased me. Not long after that I felt the shell break and I opened my eyes, seeing a few motes of blue magic disappearing and feeling a few trickles of power flowing back into me. I glanced at Access, a questioning look in my eyes.
"58 seconds exactly." He grinned. "That was amazing, Chiaki!"
"Thanks Access. How short do you think I'll be able to get it down to?"
"Eventually? Anywhere from 3 to 1 second, I think. But by the end of the week, if you practice hard, maybe you can get it down to 25 seconds or so. By the end of the month, probably 15 seconds. "By the end of today I'll count you as very good if you can get it down to 45 seconds or so." I nodded and pulled off my headband.
I henshined three more times, shaving about four seconds off each time, the third one tasking only 44 seconds. But on the fourth time, it took me 50 seconds, as my stomach was growling and a painful headache threatened to move in.
By this time my limbs were shaking slightly from exhaustion and my brain felt like a sponge that had been squeezed dry. Access took one look at my pale face and the shaking hand which slowly pulled off my headband and called it quits.
"You're just going to get worse if you try anymore. Time to eat, bathe and sleep. Something for your headache would probably be a good idea as well." The dark angel then grinned, suddenly realizing he sounded like an older brother or uncle. I chuckled wearily and obeyed.
It took all of my strength to climb the tree after making sure everything was put away correctly in the clearing. By the time I climbed back over the fence, the sun was setting in a blaze of warm colors. It was dusk by the time I quietly entered the house via the back door, being too tired to climb the tree to my window.
"Chiaki-kun! Where have you been? Your mother and I were very worried." The pleasant but highly unwelcome voice of my father cut through the fog that had set up residence in my brain and I looked up to see him directly in front of me. I reluctantly came to a halt, instead of ploughing right into him. "And what have you been doing, to be so exhausted?" a flame of rage curled in my stomach, giving me energy to stand tall and draw my shoulders back.
"That woman isn't my mother, and I don't have to tell you anything." I stated coldly, resentfully and clearly as I saw Access stare at the transformation from tired teen to cold mannered young man in the space of a second. My father started as I stared at him levelly with my brown eyes, so like his. I kept my back straight and a semblance of alertness in my expression.
"Chiaki-sama, that was quite rude and unnecessary." My father's secretary, Suzuki(?), reprimanded me. I sighed and turned around to look at the ever unruffled man who I must've not seen and passed by. Turning back around to my father I ground my teeth slightly before forcing my face into a blank mask.
"I was out in the park all day exercising, okay?" I told them both in an impersonal, cool tone of voice. "Now if you'll both excuse me, I'm hungry and in need of a bath." I brushed by my father, who looked a little stunned and…hurt? by my dismissal. I banished the beginnings of guilt and continued on towards the kitchen without a glance behind me, Access a silent observer above my shoulder.
"Sorry you had to see that, Access." I said in an undertone as I entered the empty kitchen and turned on a light.
"It's okay, Chiaki. But why are you on such bad terms with your family?" I sighed as I rooted through the cupboards and fridge, making a sandwich or three.
"I suppose you deserve to know." I said softly. In a voice not much louder than a whisper, I told my angel partner my past briefly and without emotion.
"I see…" the kuro-tenshi said after I finished and was carrying the three finished sandwiches up to my room along with a tall glass of milk. "So is some of that for me?" he asked eagerly looking down at what I was holding. I simply nodded, as I didn't want anyone, least of all my father, hearing me talk to thin air.
We made it to my room without further incident. Shortly after finishing my dinner I was swamped by a wave of fatigue. Access reassured me that this was natural and expected and that I just needed some sleep. So I left the plate just outside the door and got ready for bed. By the time I gratefully flopped onto my bed, my eyes were blurring and the room was starting to spin.
"Oyasumi, Access." I mumbled as I dragged the covers up to my chin. I barely heard his reply before slipping into unconsciousness.
The next morning came too soon, the sun shining brightly in my eyes. I mumbled something unintelligible and rolled over my body protesting. It felt like I hadn't moved at all while I had been asleep, by the amount of stiffness in my limbs and cramps in my neck and back.
I'm so glad it is Sunday. I thought stretching slowly and carefully reviewing over the events of yesterday. It seemed almost surreal, but the light snores coming from the foot of the bed where Access had flaked out last night and the otherwise unexplainable stiffness and lingering fatigue convinced me it was all real.
"Ohayou Chiaki." Access said as I sat up. I returned the greeting as he shook his wings and stretched, way too energetic. I got dressed slowly, but by the time I was done I was wide awake and ravenous.
We snuck down to the kitchen and raided it for breakfast and lunch. With the food in me, I felt much better, better than yesterday if that was possible. As I ran to the clearing I asked Access whether he knew why that was.
"Yeah I'll explain once we get there." I shrugged and continued. Once we were there access set me to stretching while he explained.
"The henshin spell doesn't just give you a disguise and magical powers, it also augments your physical capabilities." I was skeptical of his claims, I didn't feel superhero strong. He must have seen my doubt on my face. "When you're in kaitou mode you'll be able to do more, but some of the magic will still bleed over to your civilian persona, so be careful not to doing anything too spectacular." I wasn't entirely convinced about the civilian part. Access sighed.
"Look Chiaki, just trust me on this one, ok? The strength will start bleeding over slowly within the next two months or so." I nodded, humoring my small partner. "Now today we are going to go through you henshin briefly and then I'm going to have you get used to your 'kaitou' body and its limits." I managed to follow what he was talking about and nodded again.
Taking his silence at the cue to henshin, I closed my eyes and reached for the sphere of blue light within me, crossing my arms in their 'X' over my chest. Feeling the shell form around me I concentrated on speeding the process up. I opened my eyes to look at Access, ignoring the few remaining motes of power sinking into me.
"41 seconds, very good!" He said grinning. I grinned back and gave him a gloved thumbs-up since he couldn't see my mouth. "Now onto your limits." He grinned and I saw a glint of something in his eyes.
"Access, what are—!" I broke off as Access abruptly disappeared. I searched the meadow, seeing nothing out of place, but it was too quiet, the only sound was my own breathing. I sensed something, like when I knew that someone was watching me, and the fine hairs on my neck stood on end and I unconsciously crouched into a fighting stance. The clearing brightened and became more sharply defined as I slowly revolved on the spot.
The slightest whisper of sound, the sound of someone or something was rushing me came from behind me. I whirled, faster than I thought possible and gasped. Not an inch from me was the rapidly descending tip of a long dagger, attached to the hand of a man in black whose eyes were wild and glowing red. The sight chilled me and my mind blanked with fear as a strangled yelp escaped me.
But the moment my mind froze my body seemed to gain one of its own. So fast that my arm blurred, my right hand came up and knocked the man's dagger wrist away with so much force that he was spun around 180 degrees. My foot flashed up and out, kicking the man in the back and sending him literally flying into a tree that was a good five feet away.
But my numbed mind didn't have much time to process that as my body sensed another attacker, and launched itself up and back flipped to come down behind the man and swiftly punched him in the spine. The man crumpled with a cry of pain. Where are these guys coming from? I thought frantically, seeing four more coming in fast, too fast for me to run past them before they circled me.
I found myself in the air looking down at the ground fifteen feet or so below me "What the hell?" I managed as I fell, my body twisting to land feet first on one attacker's head. I hopped forward kicking the guy in front of me and then dropping to let the remaining two rush the spot I had been at a millisecond ago and heard the sharp crack of their skulls colliding I rolled forward to avoid the falling bodies.
I leapt to my feet, searching the clearing. Then the sense of danger I felt disappeared, along with all the motionless bodies. As I gaped, I heard enthusiastic clapping. I whirled finding access perched on a tree limb. Suddenly I realized that he had set this all up and I was more than a little peeved. I ran lightly and leapt up to crouch on the branch and glared down at the grinning angel.
"What was that about Access?" I asked, my hands clenched into fists.
"That was the quick and easy way to show you your increased abilities." He said cheerfully while I growled. He cocked his head at me. "You do realize that you aren't even tired after all that right? And you just jumped up here, a good seven feet, without even thinking about it?" his observations caught me off guard.
"What?" I looked down, seeing he was right and as my heart calmed from my fright I realized that Access had been right on both accounts. I dropped to the ground, landing lightly on one foot and then sat down quickly, trying to absorb it all.
"Do you believe me now?" I heard the kuro-tenshi's voice to my left.
"Huh?" I looked stupidly at him.
"About your kaitou powers increasing your physical abilities?" he clarified.
"Oh that, yeah I guess so." I said, dazed. I ran my fingers through my hair. "You could've warned me." I accused.
"But then you would have fought it and not let your body take over. A large part of your physical limits are what you believe your limits to be." Access pointed out. "Now get back up, we've just started your physical training…"
…When I collapsed into my bed at night and actually stopped to think about my kaitou training, my head spun from the unreality of it all. In a few short weeks, my body had adapted so fully to Access's spell, becoming so agile and strong in kaitou mode, one would think I was some kind of ninja on steroids.
Or just a freak of nature. I thought wryly, looking at my left wrist. Two days ago I had been fighting one of Access's enemy simulators on a large branch ten feet in the air. I had been busy with keeping my balance on the swaying surface and dealing with the goon, when a second one had dropped onto the branch behind me. The branch jerked down under my feet causing me to lose my balance and the first enemy punched me in the gut, winding me. I had fallen head first to the ground.
Access had cursed violently, a bad habit he'd picked up from me, as I managed to twist my body enough to land on my butt for the most part. Unfortunately I also landed hard enough on my left wrist to fracture two of the bones. My partner told me that by tomorrow morning I would be healed completely. This morning I had taken off the fiberglass cast and replaced it with a simple wrist brace.
Not all of the accelerated healing was my own. Most of it was Access, he used his magic to set and start knitting the bones back together, along with cutting down on the inflammation. But for all but the most severe bone bruises, actual bone breaks, gashes that required many stitches, and the times where I collapsed due to blood loss, my own powers could handle. Depending on the severity of the injury, the number of them and how fatigued I was, my injures normally healed within 2-24 hours…
…and like Access had promised, my kaitou strength was bleeding over into my civilian body. I had more energy, which was a good thing, because the little angel was a demanding taskmaster and trained me every evening. So I went to school, came home, rushed through my homework and then spent the rest of the day and a good bit of the night training.
The night training was actually the more beneficial, since Access informed me that Jeanne was sealing demons almost exclusively at night. Unfortunately all of this meant I got less sleep, so the power within me help me get through the school day without drawing too much attention to me. But the power was a double edged blade…
…"Hey Nagoya, heads up!" a fellow classmate shouted to me. I looked up to see the football sailing towards me. I jumped caught it and ran in the direction of the goal post. It was PE class and the last class of the day. I was anxious to get back home and get my homework out of the way.
As I ran across the grass swiftly I thought ahead to this evening's schedule. A week since I had started training and access was finally starting me on weapons, how to summon them with my mind and use them to their fullest potential.
I was so distracted that I didn't notice my speed or the large, beefy opponent barreling at me until the last second. Knowing I didn't have time to dodge, I let the guy hit me, but I hit back myself as well. The boy bounced off me and I ran the last meter and a half to the goal line. I threw the ball down and raised my arms in victory. But later in the locker room, I was confronted by the guy I bowled over.
"Hey Nagoya, what have you been doing man?" I looked up, halfway dressed.
"What do you mean?" I mentally reviewed over my performance and cursed silently.
"Your strength is amazing and your speed as well." He looked down at me. "What have you been taking?" I struggled to keep the calm mask that Access had helped me perfect as I pulled on the rest of my clothes.
"I have no idea what you are talking about, Sekiya-san." I said coldly, staring unblinking up into his black eyes. He looked away first, and I nodded and then grabbed my bag and strode off.
Shit, I'd better not slip up again like that." I admonished myself as I hopped onto the city bus. Access was not going to be pleased…
…I paused to get a drink of water, my favored weapon still in my hand, a tri-boomerang. Access floated over my shoulder while I gratefully drank half a bottle of water in one go.
"So you have mastered handguns, machine guns, daggers, long knives, swords…" Access continued to list off the various weapons he had been drilling me on for the past week. Like the hand-to-hand combat he'd taught the week before, I was picking up the technique for using weapons uncannily fast.
Well, duh, it's magic. I thought wryly.
"Tomorrow we start teaching you the basics of summoning pins." The kuro-tenshi informed me bringing me back to the present.
…"You're ready Chiaki." I glanced up to Access, who was floating over my right shoulder as usual.
"Are you sure?" the angel nodded decisively.
"Yes, I'm completely sure. You just snuck past a dozen policemen, bested four more all at once, sealed the demon, and made a clean getaway." I looked around the abandoned building we had found a few days earlier. All of what Access was talking about was a simulation of course, but a very realistic one.
"Right, tomorrow we'll pack it up and pack it out." I said as we made our way back to my father's mansion. I was travelling in my preferred manner of running across rooftops and leaping ten meters distances. I kept my eyes peeled for anyone that might see me, but the night seemed deserted.
Access had been spying on Maron while I looked up all the information I could on her, including where she lived. Two days ago I had gone down to the apartments and due to a generous bribe, I was able to rent the vacant apartment right next to hers, and prevent the manager from asking too many questions.
"Tomorrow's Thursday. I've already transferred to Jeanne's school. I'm set to start Friday, so that gives me a day to move in." I told the angel. It had been tricky getting all this done without alerting my father or anyone else, but I had managed it.
I went to bed quickly, knowing that tomorrow would be a big day.
I dumped the rest of my empty boxes in the lobby briefly. Then I walked briskly over to the manager's office to ask where I should dispose of them. The older gentleman told I should take them out to the dump on the backside of the complex. I thanked him right as I heard the sound of falling cardboard and two female exclamations.
I hurried outside to find a mess of boxes and two girls mixed among them. I pulled the louder of the two up, managing to surprise her enough that she shut up.
"I'm sorry about that. Those are mine. I was about to move them" I said smoothly looking down into the brown eyes of a teenage girl with a mass of brown curly hair.
Jeanne. I whispered to myself, almost positive that the girl sprawled awkwardly on the floor in front of me was my fellow kaitou and opponent. But I knew that none of that showed on my face as I looked at her.