[01. charm]

"It's in the fingertips - I caught you looking, hazing down on me."


Eyes glowed and limbs swayed, the rhythm mesmerizing, hypnotizing. Akihiko met the Shadow's gaze head-on, unafraid, unaware of the danger - and his eyes widened as that eerie glow settled over his entire form. "Senpai?" Arisato stepped forward, reaching out a hand to him instinctively. "Senpai, are you-"

"Arisato, watch out!" Mitsuru's voice, shrill and terrified, rang through her ears just as Akihiko lunged for her, snarling and hateful. She almost tripped as she stumbled backwards to avoid him - the first punch barely missed, but the second connected squarely with her jaw - and damn, did it hurt.

She felt herself falling; she tried to catch herself, and landed heavily on her left arm. Opening her eyes, Akihiko loomed over her - somewhere behind him, Mitsuru was fighting the Shadow while Yukari rummaged through their items, trying to find something, anything she could use to end the nightmare.

"Senpai, please..." She held her naginata, but was completely unwilling to use it. She wouldn't even consider it. He leaned down, roughly picking her up by the collar with both his hands; her weapon clattered to the floor. The wall of Tartarus was cold, too cold as he slammed her into it savagely. His eyes glowed with something otherworldly, something completely unlike himself. He let go with one hand, and she could only close her eyes as he drew back to punch her again.

But the blow never came. Akihiko's entire body jerked, and his grip on her collar slackened so much she fell to the ground ungracefully, rubbing her swelling, purple jaw as she looked up in wonder. Another light had settled over him; what was that Yukari had thrown at him? Powder? The glow in his eyes faded, until he was just Akihiko again. Confused, disoriented Akihiko.

The sounds of battle behind him came to an end; Mitsuru had destroyed the Shadow, alone. She stayed back with Yukari a moment, giving Akihiko some distance as he looked at Arisato, stricken, realization hitting him like a train as his raised fist dropped like a rock. He didn't see the traces of her blood on his glove, though he'd surely notice later. She stood and dusted off her skirt as if all was well, as if nothing was wrong, but her shirt was rumpled and the ugly, purple bruise on her face was plain for all to see, a tiny trail of blood falling from a cut on her lip.

Something sick roiled in his stomach, a guilt and shame so dark he wanted to vomit. "Arisato, I... I..."

She just smiled at him, understanding and not at all angry. "It's all right, Senpai." Footsteps echoed loudly through the hall as Yukari ran towards her, Evoker at her throat and a healing spell on hand. Arisato's red eyes smiled at him, unjudging, as sweet as ever.

But as she turned and walked away, all he could do was hate himself.


[next ; 02. jealousy]