St. Stephen's Cross
Disclaimer: I don't own Eyeshield21 or it's characters. I only own the story. No, I don't own the song or lyrics – it's property of Vienna Teng, called St.Stephen'sCross.
Summary: Shin has some odd dreams. Or rather, nightmares. Who is the girl in them, and will he ever know her name?
Shout Out: So there. I am officially on Eyeshield21 writing binge again. This time, I wrote this little one shot, because the song was just so powerful. There is no definite timeline, it's roughly situated in time of Crusades. Another thing – templar's wore white tunics over chain mail with red cross across. Brigandine is a form of body armor, made from canvas or leather, with small oblong steel plates sewn on canvas or leather. It was in use in 12th century, or rather in the time of Byzantium Empire, and later. If you are interested, look it up on Wikipedia. About St Stephen Cross… yes, I know it's not in use in Japan, but for the sake of the story…/helpless shrug/.
Warnings: Okay. AU – verse,Sena is a girl, this time, the pairing is Shin/Sena. It's generally written from Shin's POV, so excuse me any inconsistencies. There are two timelines – one is dream one and the other is being played in modern times. Onward to the reading.
Dictionary: Aa – Japanese for 'yes'
Sacre bleu – French for 'blue blood',oftentimes used as a curse. Borrowed from The Three Musketeers, written by Alexandre Dumas… but well, curses don't change much, anyway /shrugs/
He was there the night the wall came down.
He lost her in the endless crowd,
There were screams and blood and smoke, the bitter scent of despair was hung in the air like some kind of a morbid flag.
"The wall is down!" Someone shrieked desperately, making his teeth grit and his arm involuntarily clench on the sword.
It was a dark night, and the darkness only added to the terror and mess that reigned in the castle.
He ducked a stray swing and returned the blow – only, his blow was successful.
He panted – the chain mail he wore stuck to his body uncomfortably, and his usually polished brigandine was now dirty and dented.
He smelled the blood and death, but he didn't care.
The crowd was roaring and surging around him, waves of people weaving to and fro, some falling some standing, the screams echoing in the night – screams of fear and victory –
Where was she?
He jumped down from the stage, narrowly ducking the burning log that crashed beside his feet.
The whole thing was going to hell; and obviously, they were losing, but –
He didn't care.
He lost her.
'Where are you?'
Warm brown eyes, and similar brown hair, hacked off for the practicality – she never was the typical wallflower the other maidens were.
She was one of the ones that could -
His heart constricted when he thought of the possibilities.
Was she injured?
She acted like a helper the whole time since they were besieged, running around to supply the arrows, bandaging the wounds and carrying messages – she was, despite of her being a female, one of the fastest messengers they had, and in that instance, they needed her speed –
He ducked again, grabbed the shield that lied astray, and promptly clobbered the opponent, making the man go down without a sound, before he whirled around, looking for that unmistakable form.
He inhaled air, to call her again.
"Se – "
The distant yelp made him almost jack-knife in the sitting position, one hand searching for the sword that wasn't here …. Anymore….
He blinked, confused.
Where was he?
"Damn it, Shin! That is the third time it happened in one week!" Dark gray eyes blinked as he looked at the cranky blonde who nursed a shiner on his face.
"…. Sorry?" Shin offered his voice a little hesitant, as his hand clutched in a tight fist.
He was Shin Seijuro, a student of Oujou Gakuen. He was living in the Oujo dorms with one Sakuraba Haruto.
He was a linebacker for the White Knights.
And most importantly, he lived in twenty-first century.
So why was he searching for a weaponry, that was, by all rights, outdated by far, and he never had touched it in his whole life?
His bed dipped, and Shin didn't need to look up to know who sat on the covers.
"Shin… Something is bugging you." Sakuraba's voice was serious. Shin drew in a ragged breath as he dragged his right hand through his hair.
Shouldn't his hair be longer?
He shook his head at the absurd thought. He always wore his hair short, why would he think he used to wear it longer?
Besides, in football, it was impractical to have long hair…
"I… Had a nightmare." He finally admitted, his breathing finally calming down sufficiently for him to gather his thoughts.
"Uh… Okay." Sakuraba said cautiously. "Will you – could you tell me about them?"
Shin closed his eyes, strong shoulders slumping wearily. "It's a dream." He murmured, his voice so quiet Sakuraba almost didn't hear it.
"A dream?" Sakuraba prompted gently, shuffling a little bit closer, hesitantly putting a hand on Shin's right shoulder. "What about?"
"I dreamed about a battle. A siege… I am trying to find her…." He muttered, distracted by the powerful images. If he had seen Sakuraba, he would note that his blond-haired friend was dumbfounded. "Uh… Shin? Who are you trying to find?"
Shin shook his head. "Her. Just… Her." Dark eyebrows furrowed as he tried to remember the name.
"Who, Shin? Your sister? Mother?" Sakuraba's voice was perplexed.
"No.Her. " Shin ground out, making Sakuraba edge away cautiously, removing his hand off Shin's shoulder.
"Okay, okay! Sheesh…" Sakuraba sighed. "Do you at least know her name?"
Shin's fingers twitched as his hand clenched even harder, making the fingernails dig into the callused flesh painfully.
"That's the thing, Sakuraba," He let out a frustrated breath.
"I should've known her."
They sat in darkness in silence, pondering the perplexing mystery.
In the shadow of St. Stephen's cross.
He sent cries aloft for his fellow man,
There was fire and shadows. Belatedly, he saw the little church collapsing on itself – only the tower and the walls remaining, for they were form stone, but everything else was made from wood. The burning beams fell on the ground with a deafening crash, and as he looked up on the sky, he only saw a silhouette of a cross and circle.
All around, there was devastation. Dead or dying bodies, surrounded by fire, darkness and smoke. The invaders were more than successful. And he… could do nothing. He had been caught by the enemy – rather underhandedly, too, as they had an unfair advantage of numbers on him.
He was kneeling on the cold, charred ground that was wet with blood, not that it mattered. He saw a bright mane of hair in a heap of dead bodies – bright, long mane, and his heart constricted.
'Where are you?'
Where was she?
His right hand was bloodied, and he strongly suspected they managed to break his femur bone – but they still tied his arms behind his back in such a way it would be impossible to get out with brute force. His left tight was bleeding - a long gash, that was gnawing at his nerves with a steady, deep throbbing pain.
They had taken his sword and tore his brigandine down, leaving him in a chainmail, and a red film of blood covered left side of his face.
His sight on that side was a little blurry, and he absentmindedly licked his lips, tasting the blood.
His only solace was, that most of the people managed to flee through the secret corridors, so his sacrifice wasn't for naught.
But his main worry was, that he didn't know whether she was with them or not.
She could be so easily mistaken for a boy…
His heart clenched again. He whispered her name, called it softly, so his captors wouldn't hear it.
Closing his eyes, the shape of the St. Stephen cross wavered behind his eyelids almost mockingly.
"Shin? Are you alright?"
Takami asked him, his voice concerned. Absentmindedly, Shin rubbed his right shoulder. "Are you hurt? That last Trident Tackle – " Takami continued, but something else attracted his attention.
"Shin! When did you have a good night sleep!" The Oujou captain's voice was sharp, making the eavesdroppers jump guiltily, but Shin only looked at him with glazed eyes.
"I slept last night." He answered dully.
"The hell did you sleep." Takami growled back, advancing at him menacingly. Not many knew about that, but Takami could be a terrible mother hen when he cared for someone.
And Shin definitely fell under to-be-mother-henned – category. No matter how he insisted he could take care of himself well enough.
Even if the linebacker insisted he was alright.
"You have eyebags, Shin. Eyebags! You are also paler, and I would assume you don't eat properly." Takami's voice was pure wrath. "Just what the hell are you doing to yourself?"
"He has nightmares."
'Sakuraba, you traitor.'
The blond receiver shuddered as Shin glared at him.
Oh yes, it wasn't such a good idea to play a good Samaritan.
No way, no how.
His fingers slipping from her hand,
The rain clouds prowling overhead.
He dreamed again. This time, the dream was peaceful one…
It was some time before the siege. The day was calm, with some breeze flowing through the air, and the sky was striped with clouds, full of rain.
The trees were rustling with dry leaves, and the ground below his feet was sturdy and a little bit muddy.
"Take care of yourself." A shy voice spoke beside him, and he smiled at the speaker.
He looked down at her, ruffling her hair fondly.
"Hey!" She pouted, huffing a little, making him smile a little bit wider.
Slender hand clutched around his own, stronger and bigger one, a small bit of warmth that he greedily soaked within himself.
Those little moments were his most precious treasure.
Slowly, reluctantly, she let go of his hand, and just as reluctantly, if not more so, his hand slipped from her tiny, calloused fingers.
"I will…" he promised, his smile slipping down a little.
"You will?" She asked hopefully, making his heart jump a little at hearing the concern for him in her voice.
"Yes. I will."
He woke up slowly, as if unwilling to leave her back where – wherever she came from, he supposed. His heart was still feeling full of warmth, but at feeling only bed sheets, he frowned.
He distinctly remembered that he intended to do his usual training routine, when Takami came, insisting that he ate the chicken soup.
Well, chicken soup didn't exactly contradict his meal schedule, so he accepted. After he consumed the soup, he became drowsy, letting Takami steer him back to the room he shared with Sakuraba.
Shin's eyes snapped wide open, and his spine stiffened.
Takami had drugged him!
That sneaky son of a bitch.
But well, at least he got some modicum of rest that way.
He flopped back on the bed, squeezing his eyes close. Those dreams were driving him to the distraction, and that wasn't good. He was the pillar of Oujou White Knights, and his teammates depended on him.
It wouldn't do to be such a poor teammate…
But this… secret… was persistent.
The dreams - and feelings were so vivid, that he felt as if he really lived in that time. It was strange thing, to know the Western style of architecture so intimately, each grain of wood and stone under his fingertips more familiar than the more modern materials.
Once, he even caught himself going through his hair with his fingers, as he was wont to do when he had long hair…. But rationally, he knew that he never had long hair in his life.
So why was the loss of such an…. unimportant feature irk him so?
And he looked around for her… and he was disappointed.
Snapping his eyes open, Shin glared as he stood up and went in search of his jogging gear.
This was getting ridiculous.
Maybe some hours of extra rigorous training would help…
… but he still felt the slender hand in his bigger one…
His hand twitched.
She was there the night the wall came down.
She faded into that newborn crowd
Brown eyes, wide with terror looked at the massacre on the field, horrified with the brutality. Even if she had helped to defend the castle, she still didn't like violence. She flinched as she huddled under the desk, clutching her dagger to herself tightly.
She had dragged her friend to safety – she was one of maids, and she was trapped in a pantry at the time the attackers managed to break down the door.
It took some quick thinking, a lot of courage and some sharp nudges to get her to safety, but she did it.
She looked around, to see the familiar tall figure in white and blue – for some reason, this templar knight was clad in white tunic with blue cross, unlike his comrades. She wanted to ask, but it wouldn't be polite thing to do…
She bit her lip as she clutched to herself his dagger.
He gave it to her for her protection. It was a simple thing, overly simple, but its blade was bluish black and sharp like nothing else. The handle was black with thin white stripes of bone inlaid and with pommel that was engraved with small stylized lilies.
She had to survive. She just had to –
Her eyes narrowed as she looked for the way out.
There was a mess, and the battle was in a full swing, and she would have to be quick – quicker than ever, to not let anyone to target her, either intentionally or not.
She just thanked the Heavens she was clad in male clothes. It will make her escape infinitely easier…There!
Jumping up, she dashed through the narrow way, ducking the stray weapon that came dangerously near her head, and simultaneously swiping a helmet from the dirty ground –
She jerked up, still panting with fear, her eyes glazed with the vivid images her mind still produced.
She clutched a hand to her heart, feeling its frantic beat, as if she were a spooked deer on flight from hunting dogs.
"What – was that?"
She gasped out.
Wide brown eyes looked around, somehow not quite comprehending the images of the slaughter with a peaceful room in a still moonlight.
She didn't have it for so long…
Why was she dreaming about it now?
Why was she feeling as if she had lost something infinitely precious?
Like a warning of what could be lost.
Through the perforated night she ran
The monsoon came without a warning. One day, the sky was clear with some small fluffy clouds adrift, and an hour later, there was a hail of rain so strong it physically hurt to feel slapping at the skin, no matter the protection of the clothes.
Huddling up, she ran forward, disregarding the discomfort.
Where was Pitt?
"Sena! We have to go - the monsoon will only be stronger!" Her mother screamed to her, but Sena waved her off, telling her that she will see them at the shelter – she just couldn't leave Pitt out here, on the mercy and unmercy of the rain!
Her fingers slipping from his hand,
And she breathed in freedom
Before daylight tread.
It was like it had happened yesterday, her fingers in his hard, calloused hand.
It was like yesterday, that she had talked to him – well, no, but they kept company to each other just the same.
There were the mornings that were so still, the animals still sleeping, and the last stars twinkling on the dawning sky.
It was their favorite time.
She wasn't a big sleeper, and he had the last watch of the night, so she joined him. It soon became their little ritual.
"Bread?" She offered, smiling as he swiveled his head to her like a wolf. A short silence, and he nodded. "If you don't mind." His voice was measured, and it made her strangely warm.
This… strange knight was a bit of an odd duck from the entourage that settled in the castle for the time. They were going to the Holy Land, but they had to stop to restock and get the supplies and weapons needed. They were quite a mish-matched bunch – a bastard, holy man and three templars, along with two others. And him.
He caught her eye almost immediately. Or rather, he caught her as she fell.
She was quite clumsy, and it was a wonder that she had such a running speed. Not many boys or men could hope to win in running match with her.
It was the only time she was graceful, too.
He had caught her deftly, and for a moment, she felt as if she were a bird that settled in her home nest, so unexpectedly comfortable and safe she felt.
A long moment passed, before both of them gathered their wits about themselves, much to the amusement of the onlookers.
"Sacre bleu! Look at him, he's scoring already! I'm so proud of our little boy!" One of the templars hooted, prompting a loud laughter from his companions.
"S – Sorry!" She squeaked out, struggling to be free from the iron embrace she found herself in.
"Oh, don't be, dear." The blonde haired knight offered, smiling mischievously, his blue eyes twinkling merrily at her flustered blush. "I say it would do ol' grumpy bear here good to hold something that isn't a sword or lance for once."
"I know she isn't a weapon." Her savior interrupted. "Now, if you would excuse us – "
He let her go, seemingly unbothered by the teasing of his companions.
Flustered, she ran to her chambers, their good-natured chuckling still ringing in her ears, not noticing him looking at her back silently.
And she still felt his warm, hard body against hers…
They became tentative friends after that; he even taught her some moves for the dagger.
That fateful morning, she didn't know that the day would turn on its head so completely.
She breathed in a freedom, looking at the daybreak, smiling softly. It was autumn, and all of the castle inhabitants had a lot work to do, to prepare for winter. Those quiet moments were only more precious because of the expected hustle and bustle of work through the day.
The soft crunch of bread crust told her that he was consuming his portion.
Closing her eyes, she smiled.
It was enough.
They were there the night the wall was drowned
In the surging of that tidal crowd
He blinked the rain off of his eyes,
Although he was clothed in rain-proof jogging jacket with hood, he was wet as a drowned rat. The rain was viciously pounding against his body, forcing him to narrow his eyes, just too see through the sleets of the water that poured from the sky in violent torrents.
His jogging shoes made an obscene noise with his every step.
In his… search for … his inner peace, he had decided on a totally random route, and now, he was hopelessly lost.
Add that to the fact he didn't have phone, and he was sure Takami would throw a hissy fit of epic proportions as soon as Shin would return back to the dorms.
He shivered, wiping the excess moisture from his face, hunching into himself and slowing to the walk.
A small cry echoed in distance, making him frown.
He followed it.
It was faint and desperate and…
Was that a cat?
Yes. It was a small furball, black and white, it's fur plastered to its shivering body.
And it looked thoroughly miserable as it trembled near the garbage can that served as its partial shelter.
The cat looked up at him, its eyes big and miserable.
Wordlessly, Shin kneeled and scooped it up, bringing it under his jogging jacket.
The cat squirmed, but otherwise, it was pliant, snuggling into him, as to draw some warmth in its little body, nuzzling it's head on Shin's chest.
Shin smiled at the feeling.
Usually, felines detested him with a passion, so he was pleasantly surprised that this little one allowed him to go so far.
"Well…" He paused, looking at its collar. The name tag glinted in the weak light. "Pitt. Let's go to find somewhere warm, shall we?" He asked the cat, getting a small purr of approval in return as he continued his trek, the rain still pounding harshly against his shoulders.
An old world made new
On the same holy ground.
The rain was pitter – pattering now, the clouds obviously exhausting their main reserves. Despite the minor chaos with floods, the air was clear and crisp, smelling faintly of the sea.
It was strange, as if a miracle happened, and the old world ceased to exist, being remade into new one, that looked curiously like the former.
The first rays of sun peeked shyly from the clouds, making the drops on the trees glisten and the puddles sparkle with moisture, like a small diamonds.
The trees were greener and here and there, a birdsong was faintly picking up the melody. A cheep here, a chirp here, and whistle and it was like the place became some kind of a holy ground.
She didn't care.
She was wet to the bone, her hair plastered to her head, but she still stubbornly strode onward.
Pitt had to be alive.
Had to be.
She gulped, holding back the tears.
She found him standing, looking lost
In the shadow of St. Stephen's cross,
"Shin-san?" She asked, hardly believing her eyes.
There he was, wet as a drowned rat, the clothes plastered on his body, outlining it's lines and curves. Apparently he had been jogging when the rain caught him. Dark hair was sticking to the head, and for a moment, the picture was superimposed with the one when he had longer hair and he was clothed in white tunic with blue cross. It was… a strange kind of a déjà vu.
She blinked. Dream-Shin was taller and thicker, but not by much, and he had longer hair, along with him being a little older.
As if in trance, she stepped closer.
But Shin… Standing right under that cross…
She shook her head violently.
'It wasn't real…. Was it?'
Shin-san looked so lost right now, that Sena's heart went out to him. A small smile twitched on his lips, as she remembered that particular scene oh so long ago. But –
"I don't have bread with me." The words flew out of her mouth before she could comprehend what she said.
Gasping, she covered her mouth, but it was already too late.
Shin's spine stiffened as he heard the soft voice. Granted, it was different, it was a little higher and softer, but –
It was here.
He was sure of it.
He whirled around, and then, he was frozen.
There, in front of him, she stood, clothed in wet black hoodie and blue jeans trousers, her hair plastered to her head and cheeks, gentle brown eyes wide, and her hand on her mouth, just as shocked as he was.
"It's you…. Is it really you?" He asked, breathless with wonder.
He could still see her, clad in that dark blue dress, with her messy hair flying around her face in messy spikes. Granted, her hair was longer then, but –
Hesitantly, he stepped forward. And blinked.
"Eyeshield?" He asked, perplexed. "You are… Eyeshield?"
She nodded, her hands fidgeting in that oh so familiar rhythm. "Y – Yes. You don't mind?" She asked shyly, as she looked up to him.
Did he mind? She was always so fast, and really, he should have seen it from the beginning.
How could he have not known? The answer was practically sitting right under his nose since the first time he had gone against her.
"It suits you." He settled on that answer, shuffling awkwardly. She laughed a small, watery laugh. "I am glad you think so. And call me Sena, okay?"
Unconsciously, they stepped to each other.
Sena blinked at the sound.
Then, Shin's hoodie wiggled.
"What…?" Sena looked on confused.
"Ah." Shin opened the hoodie a little bit more.
A cat's black and white head poked out, looking around, as it yawned cutely.
Sena gasped, delighted. "Pitt!" She called, her voice relieved.
The cat's ears swiveled around and then the feline saw its owner.
"Mew." It greeted the girl, struggling out of the toasty warm spot it holed itself at.
Shin blinked. "It's your cat?" he asked, honestly surprised.
And on the other thought, he honestly shouldn't have been.
Only cat, owned by her…by Sena, would take a liking to him…
Stumbling out of the jacket, Pitt reached for Sena clumsily.
"Whoa!" Sena caught the feline, as it miscalculated the distance between the two teens.
But she wasn't the only one.
Along with hers, there were Shin-san's hands cradling the fragile little body between them tenderly.
The two teens looked into each other's eyes.
"Shin-san…" Sena breathed out uncertainly.
Shin smiled a small, gentle smile.
"Call me Seijuro."
With that, he closed the last distance between his faces and kissed her.
And he closed his eyes and heard no sound
But her breathing warm against his mouth.
The kiss was gentle and warm, lips against lips. Chaste despite the slickness of their lips from the rain. For a moment, both of them could imagine they were back in that old, forgotten time, a templar with castle maiden, with a St. Stephen Cross towering above them.
"I thought I lost you." He whispered as they finally parted from each other, the cat between them purring with satisfaction, as it snuggled down between them, but both of the teens didn't pay any attention to it.
"But you found me again, Sei. Isn't that what it matters the most?" Sena asked, smiling.
Shin's eyebrow quirked slightly at her old nickname for him. "Aa. You are right," He conceded, lowering his head down as he kissed her again.
He closed his eyes, and for a moment, he didn't hear the cries of the distant battle, lost in the flow of history, or the wind that curled around the corners…. He heard only her warm, moist breath against his mouth.
He carefully embraced her, his heart warm and content.
Yes, it was enough