Friends Last Forever

The summers continued pass slow and long. I shouldn't complain. I mean, I have someone to share those long days and nights with, someone to talk to when I am lonely. No, I have nothing to complain about. I should be happy. Ren is such a good friend, so understanding and kind. I feel like the luckiest person in the world in more ways than one to have her by my side. However, there are times, late at night, I wake up in a cold sweat. I dream of someone I can't have. I wake up crying again. I wish I could see my best friend one more time, to hear his voice make an insulting comment.

Crow.

My best friend.

Everyone said he wasn't human. To me, he was as human as anyone I had ever met. I may not know how exactly a normal human should be, but I have not known many humans besides grandpa and Ren. For me, Crow was human, and I cried at the thought that I would never see him again.

"Friends always see each other again. And we're friends now, right?"

Seto bolted up from his sleep. Like countless times before, the mahogany-haired boy sat up and used his sleeve to wipe away the stray tears from his eyes. Looking around at his surroundings, Seto saw Ren sleeping soundly on the other side of the fire pit between them. At least three cats curled against her still form.

Seto curled up, bringing his legs up to his chest, and letting his chin rest on his knees. Sad eyes watched the soothing flames flicker within his own big dark orbs. At times like this, in the middle of the night, when the large bright moon was shining overhead in the clear starry sky, were the times Seto felt the most alone. Ren was asleep and the cats never talked back, so it was kind of pointless to try and have a conversation with them. Every time Seto watched the cats, they only made him feel sadder. Their eyes, glowing in the dark, were so much like his.

Seto reached for his locket around his neck and clutched it tightly in his fingers. It was filled with so many memories. He reached in and soon a familiar object lay in his palm. It was the skull ring Crow had given him. Looking at the small object, Seto could still hear Crow's taunting voice, feel the touch of his hand, smooth even after all his jumping around and cartwheels from obscene and dangerous heights.

Seto trembled as he stared at the ring. His eyes fought back their tears. He missed his best friend so much. He wanted so much to see Crow one more time. He and Crow promised to see each other again. That's what best friends did. They also gave each other presents and kisses. Seto wanted to give Crow presents and kisses too. He needed to see Crow again in order to do that. With the promise in his heart and keeping the ring close to his chest, Seto lied down again by the fire and soon fell into a fitful sleep.

The next morning, the bright sun casted its light across the dilapidated and abandoned land. Seto and Ren continued on their journey searching for more humans and yet had found nothing but more memories. Though the small objects kept them company but it only gave them more proof that they were the only two humans left in the world. However, the young teens stayed confident on their journey. They could not give up so easily!

The ruins of a once proud and prosperous city now seemed to glisten under the morning sun. It was like the city was saying there was still hope. Life would one day return, giving humanity one more chance.

"Seto, look over there!"

The boy turned to see Ren pointed her pale thin arm into the distance. There nestled in the dark of two tall buildings was a group of glowing fireflies. That meant something was there. Maybe there was another weapon or more food. Seto had given to Ren an extra butterfly net that he had gotten in exchange from the chicken merchant, while he, himself, favored his katana. It had gotten him out of so many close calls. The alleyway was pitch black. There was no telling what else was down there. Ren and Seto readied their weapons in their hands as they slowly moved into the dark alley.

Suddenly, an eerie laughter of children rang through the air. Seto knew these ghosts. They were spirits of children who loved playing tricks on unsuspected visitors. They only revealed their feet and danced around the two humans taunting them. Their laughter made Seto's skin crawl. Ren stepped forward and waited, her butterfly net ready to attack, until all three pairs of prancing feet began prancing around her. She swung her weapon overhead and around hitting the ghosts and knocking them to the ground. Just as they began to stand up again for another round, Seto charged over and slashed at them with his katana, stopping them cold in their tracks. The spirits soon disappeared while a couple leaving behind a trinket such as a bottle of water and a bag of tuna. Ren and Seto picked up the rewards for defeating their enemy in battle and proceeded onward with their task. Seto shone his flashlight into the darkness at the spot where the fireflies gathered. There was something on the ground.

Seto picked it up and gasped softly. His breath caught his throat. It was a photograph; the same one Crow had showed him. He must have been here! His lips trembled as he tried to hold back his oncoming tears.

Ren's hand on his shoulder woke Seto with a jolt. "Seto, do you know what that is?"

Seto turned to Ren, a smile formed on his face. "My best friend was here."

The silver-haired girl cocked her head to the side in confusion. "Best friend?" Then her eyes began to light up, "You mean there are more humans like us around here!"

Seto's smile faded. "He wasn't human exactly…but he acted more human than any I had ever met."

"I don't understand." Ren shifted her butterfly net behind her back, "But, do you think your friend is still close by?"

Seto's smile fell even more that he had to turn his head. "No…he…he died." Ren could see his shoulders were trembling. Wrapping her arms around his torso from behind, she tried her best to calm and comfort her friend. The two stood in the middle of the darkness hugging each other. The flashlight had fallen from Seto's grip and now lay on the cold ground. Only its bright ray of light shining on the two humans gave witness to the fact that there was still life in the world.

Just then sparks flashed behind them making the two jump away. A huge, old generator sat against the wall with its stray wires threatening to execute anyone who comes near. It was rusty and it looked like it would give way any moment, but it seemed to still be running. For how long, no one was sure. Ren picked up the flashlight on the ground and examined the space around the generator. Next to it, the light lit up chalk-drawn words written on the dark dusty brick wall. "Somebody get me outta here. I want to run and jump around free again!"

Hope filled the humans eyes again. Someone might still be around here. The writing was next to an old and worn metal door. Using his shoulder, Seto bust through it and the door collapsed in a dusty heap. They looked to be in a stairwell. And so they started to climb. Upward they went, though unfortunately, with each floor they checked, the doors were either blocked or stuck fast.

They finally reached an open door on the sixth floor. The first sound they heard was crying. The sound echoed through the moss-covered hallway. Florescent white lights flickered above their heads. It gave them little comfort for with the light, no ghosts would try and attack them. The children's hearts still raced a marathon as they dashed through the corridors following the sound. The crying soon was followed by loud bang, as if something or someone hit the wall with incredible force. The building was not structurally sound at all because Seto and Ren felt the vibrations beneath their feet and it seemed if the banging continued anymore, this whole building would collapse!

"Let me out of here! Come on! I want to go outside!"

The crying had turned to shouting and the two humans soon found the source. It seemed to be coming from behind a locked door. Seto went up to the door and knocked on it.

"Hello, are you in there? Are you all right?"

"No, I am not all right, you moron!" The voice shouted back. It was angry. "I want to get out of here!"

There was something familiar about this voice that bothered Seto for a minute. He had so many questions like, was this person even human or just another doll? While he was lost in thought, Ren decided to speak up. "We will get you out somehow! But we can't get the door open!"

"Of course you can't, you idiot!" The voice huffed, "You need the key, and only the stupid doctors around here carry that!"

Key? Seto and Ren looked at each other and nodded in silent agreement. "We'll find the key for you and come back as soon as we can!" Seto affirmed to the mystery person behind the door.

"Just hurry. I'll go crazy if I stay here any longer!"

Seto and Rin searched each room all along the abandoned dark corridor. After running in on a few Sobbing Women and bunch of dead ends, they soon found themselves at the other end of the building, inside another stairwell. Seto shone his flashlight around the area. Next to the stairs, Seto read once again on the wall in chalk, "Nothing is what it seems." Just then something glistened at the top of the steps, Seto's heart skipped a beat and he sprinted forward to grab it. The thing in his hand was more like a plastic card.

"Could that be the key?" Ren questioned as she peaked over Seto's shoulder.

"I don't know…" Seto replied, unsurely, "It doesn't look like a normal key."

Ren sighed tiredly as her legs collapsed beneath her slim form, "We've searched the entire area though; so that must be the key the person was talking about!"

Seto wanted to believe it too. He wanted to find more humans like them and if this key helped them to do that then so be it! He turned to Ren and reached out his hand to her to help her to stand. "Let's go and try, if it's not, we'll just keep searching!" Ren nodded and accepted her friend's hand with a smile. Together they rushed back through the endless corridors.

"Hey, we made it back!" Seto called out as they neared the locked door once again. "We think we found the right key!"

"Whatever, just stop your yapping and just hurry and open the door!" The rude voice was getting increasingly impatient. He must have been in there a long time, but why? Seto and Ren were sure to find out very soon.

Figuring that the card slid through the electronic lock, the children were surprised when the lock beeped several times before unlatching the door, letting it slide open. The sight the greeted them was not what they expected. It was an empty hospital-like room. Many books lay scattered all across the middle of the room, some propped open. In a far corner, hidden by a weather-beaten oak dresser, a pile of food lay piled up as if it was being stored away for the "winter".

Seto moved forward and shining his flashlight behind a tattered old curtain he saw a young boy, about his age, huddled behind a dirty old bed that the frame had broken in half. The boy hugged his knees to his chest. His face was hidden against his knees. He was still like he was fast asleep. Seto cautiously approached while Ren stayed by the door, watching out for any other humans to come by or other spirits that may attack.

Seto shined his flashlight on the boy's figure. The light highlighted his black hair as if it was a deep violet color. The boy then muttered something that was muffled against the boy's tattered and baggy hospital gown. It was something that Seto could barely hear so shining his light, he moved closer. "I'm sorry…what did you say?"

"I said," The boy paused as if trying to compose his words again. "Get that stupid light out of my damn face! It's annoying!" The boy shot up his head and glared at Seto serious and intense gaze. This made Seto stumble backward, startled at the outburst. Not only did the boy's rude remark make Seto flinch but upon closer inspection of the boy, Seto mind was sent reeling with shock. The hair was the same style and color. The eyes had same color with the same cat-like gaze.

Seto was almost too shocked to speak. He could feel tears beginning to well up and sting his eyes. It was as if his best friend had been brought back to life. Unfortunately, the long silence that had passed between them had gone unnoticed by Seto but not the other boy. "What's your problem kid? Why are you staring at me like that?"

Seto blinked and turned his head away quickly to wipe away the forming tears onto his sleeve. Suddenly, Ren popped up behind Seto's shoulder and stepped up between the two boys. She extended her thin pale arm in greeting. "Hello there, what's your name?"

The boy didn't accept it but simply crossed his arms with an irritated huff. "I don't really need to answer you, but seeing as how you guys opened that infernal door for me, I at least owe you something. My name is Kurou."

Kurou…Ku…rou…Crow!

The name kept repeating over and over inside his head as Seto fell deathly silent. His eyes widened as his face started to pale. It couldn't be. It had to be strange coincidence.

"Hey, is your deaf friend over there sick or something?" Kurou asked thumbing over at Seto's directions. Ren followed his motions and gave a soft giggle. "No silly. His name is Seto and he may be a little shy but I know he's not deaf. He's a good friend. It was actually he who found the key to get the door open."

"Seto, huh?" Kurou glanced at Seto from head to toe and smirked playfully. He strolled over to the still stunned brunette. He took Seto's hand in his own pale hand and raised it to his lips, ghosting a kiss over the boy's knuckles. "Thank you, good lady, I am indeed in your debt for rescuing me."

Hearing this Seto broke from his stupor and quickly, but nervously pulled his hand away. A deep red hue covered all of his face. Seto felt light-headed. Why would this person say something like that? Sure, neither his voice nor his looks didn't' sound or look like his grandfather, or like Shin's in the slightest, but Seto couldn't help that. It was just way he was. At the same time, a small giggle made the two boys look up and saw Ren holding her hands over her mouth, failing to hide her laughter.

"Ren, are you okay?" Seto asked, worried, as he thought she was crying. He moved over to stand next to her, and touched her shoulder tentatively.

"I'm sorry," Ren replied, slowly recovering from her fit of giggles. "Kurou-kun, you so funny. You called Seto a girl. He's a boy!

Kurou was dumbstuck at hearing this, and did a double take at Seto once, twice, and three times. He then turned back to Ren with a skeptical look that said, 'Seriously?' This, however, only made Ren laughter harder.

Suddenly, the lights began to flicker and flash quickly as if they had turned into strobe lights. Outside the room, deep moaning and creepy laughter could be heard startling the three humans. "We have to get out of here." Seto prepared himself for battle, gripping his katana. "Come on." Putting troubling thoughts and uneasy emotions aside, the two humans followed the boy into the empty hallway, which now was filled with an ominous presence. They were soon faced with two Crying Woman ghosts hovering several feet in the air. One approached Seto and knelt to his level, ready to attack. Quickly, Seto slashed at the ghosts with his katana. The woman gave a terrible scream and vanished in a flash of bright light. Kurou watched in amazement as Seto took down the ghosts. Tearing his eyes away, he glanced at the girl, Ren, who was confronted with the second ghost woman. The ghost had attacked and pushed her back down to the ground. Ren scrambled to her feet and moved out of range of the ghost Woman as she began to charge her weapon for her attack. Waiting for just the right moment, as the woman knelt down ready to attack again, Ren let loose and swung the butterfly net over her head striking the woman in the back, causing once again, a loud anguished cry to rip through the shadows and the ghost vanished a flash of light.

The building rumbled even more violently now as the lights continued to flicker and flash. A large explosion from outside shook the building, knocking the three humans off their feet. Kurou was the first stand and pulled Ren and Seto to their feet. "This place isn't going to last long. Let's stop playing around these ghosts and get out of here." Kurou informed, though it sounded more like he was chastising them both. Seto agreed and they ran for the stairs only to find the passageway blocked. The explosion had caused the walls to collapse blocking their escape. They searched for another way. Upon entering room upon room, they found an empty office. Just behind the long dusty wood desk was a large window that faced the main street outside.

Kurou picked up a heavy black swivel chair and lunged it through the window. Seto and Ren ducked out of range of the shards of glass that scattered into the wind. The street below was empty so there was neither anyone hurt nor anyone to be angry for destroying property. They were still high up on the sixth floor. Ren came up to the two boys and tied some rope that she had found in the room to a hook hanging on the window side post. She had pulled it from the trim of a curtain that lay in a heap in one corner of the office. "We can use this to climb down, right?" Seto nodded in agreement, but still was skeptical if this thin rope would hold their weight as he once more looked down from the window. One by one, the humans slowly climbed down the side of the building. Kurou was last as he continued to pause and adjust the sack of hoarded food that was tied to his back. Ren jumped off the rope onto a market stand cover and slid down. Seto followed suit. They looked back up just in time to see the rope snap. Kurou lost his grip and fell down hard. He crashed through the tent cover. Time froze for Seto as his memory suddenly flashed back to when Crow fell from the ferris wheel and crashed into the merry-go-round. "Crow!" Seto shouted subconsciously. Worried, Seto and Ren rushed over to the fallen boy. They prayed he was alright. When they found him, he was rubbing his back having fallen on and crushed a wooden crate. Thankfully though, the crate was only full of fluffy blankets. He had some scratches on his face, arms and chest, but other than that he was fine and nimbly stood up, brushing himself off. However, Seto could see there were tears welling up his eyes. "Kurou-kun, are you alright?"

"I'm fine, but…" Kurou glanced at Seto then turned away again. Seto's eyes lit up. He thought that was admirable. Kurou was very strong. He didn't want people see him as weak. Kurou was so noble. Someone like that was what Seto aspired to be.

"my…food got crushed…" Kurou finished with a small hiccupping cry. Seto almost face-palmed; nearly regretting for his earlier declaration of Kurou's personality. He was nothing like what Seto wanted to be. He wanted to be like his best friend, and Kurou definitely was not his best friend.

TBC...