A/N: This fic could be summed up with "how to cram every known anime cliché into one story", haha! This KKM fic was inspired by the manga NG Life (that and a very inspiring trip to Pompeii, which I recommend you visit if ever you get the chance!).
Summary: AU. Yuuri was once a citizen of Pompeii before disaster took his life. Now in the present, Yuuri must confront conflicting feelings when the reincarnation of his past lover transfers to his school: the pompous and very male idol, Wolfram von Bielefeld. With the reincarnations of past friends and enemies from his past emerging, Yuuri must decide whether his heart belongs to the past or the present.
Pairing: Wolfram x Yuuri x Hashimoto Asami (Yuuri's girlfriend from the KKM novels)
Present life: Shibuya Yuuri
Past life: Julius Nero (meaning: July). Male / 16 / slave and aspiring gladiator
Present life: Murata Ken
Past life: Saggio (meaning: wise). Male / 21 / City planner, tutor and Julius' owner
Present life: Wolfram von Bielefeld
Past life: Auralia Lupus (meaning: golden wolf). Female / 16 / noble woman
August 24th, 79 AD
There was a vibration beneath his feet. It tickled the curve of his arches, travelling right up his shins to rattle his knees, and a roar like nothing he had ever heard in Nature went rolling beneath the city, quickly followed by a hot gust of wind surging down the street towards him, strong enough to bang shutters and topple a vendor's sign.
Suddenly, the world was a soundless place, as if everything and everyone had held its breath at this dry kiss of death. The fear and strangeness of it all was almost hypnotic; the running and fleeing could wait. Now, the people were simply transfixed, interested; happy, even, to be united by this sudden odd occurrence. Men, women and children gathered in the street around him, heads bent together in excited chatter, a trickle of frightened sobs puncturing the growing crowd.
And then the mountain split like thunder cracking the sky, and all was panic and death.
Horses turned, their hooves a blaze of fire along the cobbled roads. The rims of a chariot's wheels sent up sparks as the rider slashed the reigns wildly, followed by the scream of a merchant and the sickening crack that followed as his back broke beneath the vehicle. Panic spread faster than the vast black wall of cloud descending on the city. The air grew hot and poisonous. Those who tripped in the crowds did not get up again as people fled blindly for the shore. And Julius could only watch as the world unravelled around him; fire and heat and choking ash, screams and madness, because nothing was as it should be anymore. The Gods had tilted the world wildly on its axis - it was all too much, too big for him to comprehend. So he stood there, rooted to the spot, the soles of his feet still tingling with the vibrations as Vesuvius tore Saggio's streets like papyrus.
When his mind began to run again and his eyes started to comprehend the meaning of that impossibly vast black cloud, Julius threw himself into the streaming river of panic, but he had no intention of moving with it towards the seagate. His friends were somewhere in the north of the city. Comus and Baldo; Saggio, Liliana, Reta; the occupants of the House of Lupus and Aegeus. But most of all…
Julius had to get to her – had to. They had promised to meet after all and what would she do to him if he broke his promise? The Gods' wrath was nothing in comparison to her anger, he thought, imagining her reaction to his excuses.
'Wimp! Idiot! Vesuvius explodes and suddenly you can't make it? I won't stand for your lousy excuses, you wretched coward!'
His heart screamed and he fought madly against the stampeding crowd. An elbow struck his temple, hard, and vaguely he was aware of a wetness running down one side of his face. The stampede had become a solid impassable mass of bodies jostling and elbowing, pushing and screaming. His sandals caught on something large, soft and warm – a body, trampled beneath the fleeing citizens. With the sickening realisation came the fear of that awful fate; to be dragged deep down beneath the crowds, lost and forgotten. Julius struggled to a halt, sweat dripping from his brow. He couldn't let that person remain there and be trampled on as if it were nothing more than a sack of potatoes. He tried to swoop down to reach the body, the tips of his fingers barely brushing the fallen man's woollen tunic, when a body collided heavily with him and he was thrown sideways, winded.
Ash began to rain down on Pompeii, followed swiftly by clumps of lethal molten rock, the grey cinders draining the city of colour and blotting out the sun. The screaming crowd swallowed him whole as he fell, like a great gaping maw into Tartarus…
"…And then you woke up?" Murata finished, tapping his pencil against his chin absent-mindedly.
Yuuri moaned half-heartedly as he dropped his forehead onto the back of his chair, sulking. His body still tingled with the shock and sick swooping in his belly after waking up that morning, drenched from head to foot in sweat.
"Mmh. The more I dream, the more vivid everything becomes. Especially of that day."
Murata nodded pityingly and patted the other's shoulder. "It must be difficult dreaming through drawn out scenes from a mediocre disaster movie every night."
Yuuri's right eye twitched. "It's not a movie!" he whined, banging a fist down on his friend's desk. "This was my past life!"
"Hai, hai, you've mentioned that once or twice in the past five minutes," Murata sighed, waving him off with an airy hand. He pushed his black horn-rimmed glasses further up his nose with a pleasant smile. "Also, could you shout a little louder please? I think a couple of classes on the other side of the school might have missed your screaming dulcet tones, Shibuya-kun."
Yuuri flushed and mumbled something incomprehensibly apologetic, glancing around at the few curious stares his little outburst had earned. He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, then stuck an accusatory finger in the centre of Murata's chest, scowling. "Still. You're not taking me seriously."
Murata sniffed and shook his head. "Now Shibuya, why would I take you seriously? That would take all the fun out of life."
Yuuri paused, fists clenched on his friend's desk, and peered fiercely at the other's face: the face that was always smiling and open and pleasant on the outside; the face of the popular class president who was everyone's acquaintance and no one's friend. But Yuuri knew the real Murata Ken.
He scowled. "Murata. You really are a demon, aren't you?"
The class president cocked his dark head to the side like a bird and the sunlight streaming through the classroom window reflected off his glasses, turning his bright smile sinister. He wagged a finger in Yuuri's face. "That – is – a – secret."
Yuuri cringed and his right eye twitched again. 'I was right. He's the devil incarnate.'
Still, whether he liked it or not, Murata Ken was his only confidante; the only one who knew about the memories Yuuri had of his past life. He turned his gaze to the floor and said quietly, "You know I'm not mad, Murata. You believe me too. That day... the first day we met-"
"When I called you Julius?" the other boy interjected, tapping his pencil against his chin again, plainly enjoying dragging the conversation out. "That was the name of your past self, right? Well, it could have been a complete fluke, of course. A funny coincidence."
Yuuri cocked an eyebrow in distrust, then seemed to visibly deflate into his chair. He sighed, concern colouring his expression, and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Do you think I'm going crazy?"
"That is the most logical answer."
"Oi, oi. What kind of supportive answer is that?"
Murata shrugged casually. "The truth."
Yuuri clenched his jaw, determined not to lose this battle of wits. "Well if I'm crazy, then you are too!"
Murata was unfazed. "I'm not crazy. I'm eccentric."
"What's the difference?"
"Often a jail sentence."
"Mu-ra-taaa!" Yuuri growled, warningly.
Murata cupped his own chin in his hands and beamed. "Heee, okay, okay! Calm down, Shibuya-kun. Can't you take a joke?"
Yuuri folded his arms and shook his head firmly. "No. Absolutely not. Not about this."
It had begun four years ago. Shibuya Yuuri, a painfully average student with a love of baseball and the remarkable inability to attract even the slightest female attention, was nearing his twelfth birthday and preparing to enter Middle School when the memories had begun to trickle into his head like rainwater. They started as dreams like any other: short flashes and glimpses of a story, a world two thousand years ago, an ancient Roman Empire, a young man growing up in the beautiful city of Pompeii. But as the days and weeks went on, the dreams became more than vague, detached images that he could wake up from and forget. A whole lifetime began to carve its way into his head and heart. These weren't dreams, but memories of a past life when he had been born in 61 AD as Julius Nero, a plebeian and free man, until his parents sold him into slavery.
Each night as he drifted off to sleep, smells and sounds came back to him: spices in the market, the clatter of chariot wheels on cobbled roads, long dry grass and olive groves in summer, and the feel of the cool smooth stone of the temple pillars beneath his heated palm. He could even remember every detail of the long days spent training in the palaestra with Baldo and Comus.
In the second year of Middle School, Yuuri had met Murata Ken quite by accident. On his way back home from school, he had found the be-speckled boy cornered by three leering bullies. His clumsy rescue attempt had left Yuuri with a black eye, a missing bike and the horrible realisation that not only did he know Murata Ken from the past, Murata Ken was Saggio: Julius' slave owner.
'Immoral creep,' he brooded silently. Not that Saggio had been a bad slave owner. He had been much like Murata was today – near identical in looks and personality. Just like Murata, Saggio had been a highly respected figure in Pompeii who oversaw the care of the city roads.
Most interesting of all, Murata was not the only familiar face from Yuuri's past life, but he was the only one who retained his memories, as he did.
"Aww, come now Shibuya, don't be mad. A good joke is like a miniskirt. Short and to the point."
"Pervert," Yuuri muttered.
He glanced up as the bell signalling the start of class rang through the school and more students began to file into the classroom. It was the first day of his second year in high school, but somehow he didn't feel excited. Instead he kept a careful vigil on the new faces milling around the classroom, desperately trying to recall if he had known any of them in his past life. When his memories first returned, it hadn't taken Yuuri long to realise that his older brother, Shori, was the reincarnation of the beautiful, proud and busty head worker in Saggio's household (Yuuri secretly wondered if Shori's dislike of Murata came from a deep-rooted knowledge that he had once been Saggio's slave). But Shori, and others like him, appeared to have no knowledge of his past life, so why did he?
"Ne…Murata?" Yuuri began quietly. "Why can't anyone else remember their past lives? Why are we the only ones? So many people from that time surround me, but I can't talk to them about it."
Murata Ken smiled and then straightened his back, his bright face turning calm and sympathetic. "I'm not sure. Everyone takes the precious memories of their past lives with them when they pass on, but those memories are buried deep within. Having access to those memories isn't a natural thing, Shibuya." He leaned over and put a gently hand on his friend's shoulder. "The past is the past. We cannot indulge ourselves in memories that might destroy the present."
Yuuri eyes were downcast. "I know…but…"
"But?" A corner of Murata's mouth lifted slightly. "But you can't stop thinking about that one person. Right?"
Yuuri scratched the back of his neck, uncomfortably. "I keep thinking if I've been able to meet you again, maybe I'll be able to meet her. You know, like fate or something." He paused and grinned bashfully. "But then I think, 'doesn't that sound like the plot of a cheesy manga?'"
"It is the plot of a cheesy manga. Several, I believe," Murata replied, then he waved a hand in the air impatiently. "Besides that, I don't believe in the Fates. Or any gods who wield power over people's fortune, for that matter," he grunted moodily, and for a moment Yuuri thought he saw a shadow cross his friend's normally calm face. But the moment passed quickly and Murata brightened. "Shibuya-kun, don't get caught up in the past. Especially not today. We're in a new class, with new teachers and…" He paused to lean forward and whisper conspiratorially. "Lots of new girls! Ahhh, check out Daidoji! Oh, and Haruka-chan. She's so cute! And if you angle your chair juuuust right, you can see her panti-"
"Ehh? S-Stop that, don't look!" Yuuri hissed and gave his friend a withering stare. "You have no tact."
"And you haven't had a girlfriend in 2000 years," the class president pouted. "Prude."
Yuuri was about to point out that Murata hadn't had a girlfriend in two millennia either, when a wave of excited whispers rushed through the class.
"Ah, Sangria! Who is that? He's gorgeous!"
"He looks foreign, look at his hair – he can't be from Japan. How romantic…"
"AH! No, it can't be! It's that famous idol – I can't believe there's a pop idol in our school!"
"Lucky! Ne, ne, Doria - do you think he'll need someone to show him around the school?"
Yuuri winced as he glanced at the crowd of girls and guys grouping around the new transfer student, feeling his slight inferiority complex already heightening. Yuuri was completely average in every way. Unkempt black hair, black eyes, average looks, average height, little to no muscle. He wasn't particularly popular, but neither was he unpopular enough to be deemed an interesting loner. His passion for baseball vastly outweighed his skills in the sport, the majority of the season spent as a benchwarmer, and his grades were neither poor nor exceptional. So if there was one thing he couldn't stand, if there was one thing Yuuri couldn't help but hate, it was a bishounen – a "pretty boy" who got all the girls cooing and hanging off their arms. And to top that, he was already some ridiculous pop idol? Life wasn't fair. Yuuri couldn't even see the new transfer student for all the girls gathered around him, but he disliked him already. Really, he might not have been as girl-crazy as Murata, but he certainly had an invested interest in the fairer sex. Just who did this damn bastard think he was, striding into his school with his fame and foreign good looks, distracting all the girls? As if he really needed more competition! What a complete jer-
Then Yuuri's train of thought ended as the transfer student pushed past the crowd of fans by the door, and his heart crept into his mouth as his eyes settled on the angel before him. Prettier than any girl, the boy's fair skin looked almost transparent and his tousled blonde hair was brighter than the sun. His deep green eyes, though narrowed with irritation, were like the bottom of a glassy lake. But for all that he was beautiful, there was no mistaking him for a girl. He walked with almost military precision towards a seat by the window – the seat directly in front of Yuuri.
And suddenly he knew. He knew this person. His eyes glazed and his limbs suddenly felt light and airy, as if they weren't his to move anymore. Even his lips seemed to move of their own accord. "Auralia…"
"Huh? What'd you say, Shibuya?" Murata asked, but as he glanced up his expression hardened. "Er…Shibu-"
"Auralia," Yuuri murmured, his eyes clouding over slightly as he stumbled to his feet half in trance, with a giddy smile on his face.
"Eh-AH! Shibuya, wait!" Murata tensed and dived for his friend, but it was too late. He could only watch as his friend leapt, arms sprawling.
The blonde boy turned with a raised eyebrow, his pretty face still marred by irritation, when a pair of arms flung around him and a body collided with his, pinning his arms to his sides and hugging him tightly to the other's chest.
"Auralia! Ah, I'm so glad! I've missed you – I knew it, this means the gods have fated us to be together – thank goodness, thank-"
Yuuri's declaration was swiftly put to an end by a fist crunching into the side of his jaw, the force of the blow throwing him off his feet. He landed with a painful thump at Murata's feet and glanced up, his head feeling distinctly clearer. Above him, the blonde was panting with barely contained rage, his fists clenched and green eyes blazing.
"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?" The blonde thrust his thumb into his own chest and glowered. "I'm a guy, you pervert!"
"Wait, what? Who are you calling a pervert?" Yuuri stammered, angrily.
Murata bent down to place his hands on Yuuri's shoulders. "Well he has a point, Shibuya. You did try to molest him."
Blood rushed from Yuuri's face and he laughed nervously. "Hahaha, you're kidding right?" He looked into Murata's eyes, but the other only shook his head and smiled pityingly. Trembling, Yuuri turned back to the fuming blonde boy towering over him. He vaguely remembered the blood drumming in his ears and the overwhelming desire to hold the girl he had once loved in his arms again.
He blinked, unable to quite believe his eyes. This was Auralia: this blonde, foul-mouthed, angry pretty boy before him was the love of his past life.
'No, no, NO!' his mind cried, recoiling. 'This isn't right! This isn't how Fate was supposed to intervene.' The love of his past life – his ideal dream woman – she was supposed to be reincarnated as a pretty girl and they would be reunited in the spring under the falling cherry blossoms, or after a victorious game of baseball in which she would run onto the field and into Yuuri's arms, and the crowds would cheer. She was NOT meant to be a… a … guy!
"But you can't be a guy," Yuuri cried, scrambling to his feet again and pointing a finger at the blonde. "There's no way you can be a guy!"
He saw the blonde flinch, momentarily taken aback. Then his face grew thunderous and his fist clenched, and Yuuri woke up in the infirmary an hour later.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed the first chapter! I'll attempt to update this fic weekly seeing as the chapter length will remain about the same. Feedback is always appreciated!
Palaestra: The palaestra was the ancient Greek wrestling school. The events that did not require a lot of space, such as boxing and wrestling, were practiced there. The palaestra functioned both independently and as a part of public gymnasia; a palaestra could exist without a gymnasium, but no gymnasium could exist without a palaestra. (Wiki text)