--start 01: sleep to dream--

:: It is the first time he has dreamed of this and he knows this even as he dreams, and is unsurprised at both this knowledge and the feeling that he has had this dream many times before even though it is the first time.

He is walking through a forest or perhaps a garden, or perhaps it is both, a place where the rustles from the underbrush are dangerous beasts that will not harm him. He could stretch out his hand and a jaguar or a wolf or perhaps a tiger would come melting out and lean against his side, waiting for him to scratch their heads and stroke their backs. They would keep him company on his way to the place he is going that he does not know but remembers, not tame, not wild, just as they were meant to be, perhaps, beings in their own right who have chosen to walk beside him as he follows the path through this place. But he does not call to them, and they fade in and out of sight, living shadows trailing his steps.

The path is scarcely even a trail, although he thinks that it used to be worn by -- he doesn't remember, because there is nothing to remember, but he picks his way as quickly and surefootedly as if he was walking through the hospital to his father's office. But that is ridiculous, because he has never dreamed of this path and his first memories are of the hospital and his father swinging him up and showing him and his mother off to the nurses, who wore white and had hopeless but affectionate crushes on his father and laughed with his mother and showed him the snowy mysteries of the linen closets, a scent of starch and white cotton and cleanness that he still loves.

Birds are singing, not short repeated trills and calls, but songs, real songs, and he almost recognizes and understands the language they sing in. They sing in high clear voices. He is following their song and they are singing about what he is looking for, something he hadn't realized until he heard their voices. He is looking for something and they are leading him to it. He takes a step and then another --

-- and he opens his eyes and he is at the shore of a lake, although he cannot see the other side of it and he wonders for a moment if it is really the ocean, but there is no scent of salt and he knows that if he tasted the water it would be sweet and pure. The air is full of bird song, almost visible as notes of blue and yellow and red. He is dazzled for one moment, and then he realizes that he is not looking at the sun's white reflection on the water, but at a girl dressed in white, floating above the water surrounded by the birds who are singing for her.

And he knows her and does not know her, he recognizes her but has never seen her before, and as she turns to him he thinks that he has been searching for her since the beginning of time, but how could he since he has never seen her or remembered her or even knew that he was searching --

[...who are you...?]

-- he reaches out even as she glows with sudden radiance, so bright his eyes shut despite himself and when he opens them -- ::

It was morning, at least in the technical sense of the term, and his father had turned on all the lights and opened the windows to let the sun shine directly on his face, as a subtle hint that it was six am and he was bored and lonely and wanted to play with his only son before he went to work, whether his only son wished to be played with or not. Chiaki groaned and buried his head under the pillows.

"Good morning, Chiaki-kun~!" said his father, fortunately not sitting on his bed and bouncing up and down, as had happened before.

"Dad," said Chiaki, "Go away."

"But it's morning." His father pried at the pillow, and Chiaki increased his grip.

"Obviously," said Chiaki. The pillow was slowly and relentlessly pulled off, and he growled. He was never awake early in the morning; something he had certainly not inherited from his father, who was perfectly capable of bounding out of bed after two hours of sleep. It wasn't that he disliked mornings, exactly, it was that now, especially, he had a feeling like he was supposed to be waking up next to somebody and they were never there, and he expected them to be. The foul mood he woke in because of that was only made worse by the fact that he had no idea who he expected to wake up next to.

His father poked experimentally at his shoulder, and Chiaki snarled. He'd been dreaming, and he wanted to remember what it was about, but thanks to his blasted parent, the dream had slid away before he could catch it. "Dad," he said, trying not to beat him with a pillow, which would be taken as an enthusiastic invitation to a pillow fight, "Go away."

"You already said that."

"I meant it."

"But it's almost breakfast time!"

Chiaki looked at his alarm. It had a full hour left before it rang, which made him wonder why he even bothered setting the damn thing. "Dad, breakfast isn't for an hour and a half." His father looked at him with the sad, damp eyes of a puppy whose paws were just a _little_ muddy -- and wet -- and smelling suspiciously of something dead -- but had been shoved away when it was just trying to say how glad it was. Chiaki hated it when his father did that. He sighed. "At least let me get dressed."

His father brightened and bounced out of the room. Probably to think of new ways to annoy him, thought Chiaki, and flung his arm over his face.

What was that dream?

All he could remember was being dazzled.

[and your purity shines like the moon on snow]

He sat up and dragged his fingers through his hair. He couldn't remember, and if he wasn't up and dressed soon. his father would be barging back in, and this time he probably WOULD bounce up and down on the bed.


Chiaki got on pretty well with his current stepmother, mostly because they had an unspoken agreement that Chiaki was to be politely distant and she was not to be a mother to him. She'd tried that briefly, but soon enough she had limited any mothering activities to making sure he wasn't actively involved in a gang and was attending school, and making him a lunch, which was, as far as Chiaki had been able to tell, half an apology for not being his real mother and half to assure his father that she was at least trying.

Chiaki ate it everyday. It seemed to be the least he could do. Furthermore, if he had a lunch made for him, girls didn't offer them to him quite so often. [He'd never quite understood the idea of girls making lunches for the boys they liked -- it seemed that in every other species the male offered food to the female, but the human female seemed determined to offer food to the male.] Today, by some miracle, he was alone -- Yashiro was at a gymnastics tournament, and he'd evaded the other girls who would've liked to eat with him.

He hadn't been lying to his father about staying up late to study. The corner of the schoolyard where he had hidden himself was deserted, and the sun shone warmly through the trees. His eyes slid shut --

:: -- and he is on a ship, the faint noises of the other students playing and shouting translated into the cry of gulls and the creak of ropes and the whistles and shouts of his men as they work.

He takes a deep breath and tastes the scent of the ocean, salty like sweat and almost a living presence. He loves the sea as he has loved no other person, loves every mood and season of it, from the days like this where the wind fills the ship's sails as the sun shines down, to the cool nights where the foam laps against the ship, shining with unearthly radiance, to even the storms and winds that come crashing down on it.

He is dressed in dark shirt and pants and long white shirt, with the familiar weight of his bandanna around his head. Around his neck is a stone that a girl had given to him once. He cannot remember her name, if he ever knew it, but something in her eyes had reminded him of the sea. He wonders vaguely why he should be surprised to find himself wearing his normal clothing, and decides that he's spent too long in the sun.

One of his men calls out to him, and as he turns to answer the ship's bells begin to ring the changing of the watch, and he --::

-- woke to the sound of the bell ringing the end of lunch period.



He looked up with an easy, practiced smile. A group of girls -- or was it a giggle of girls? he could never remember -- crowded around him.

"Are you busy this afternoon?"

"Do you want to do homework together?"

"Let's go karaoke!"

"Sorry," he said, flashing another smile around. "I've got work."

This crushed them for perhaps five seconds.

"At the hospital?"

"Your father is the chief of staff, right?"

"It's so cool that your family owns a hospital!"

"Are you going to be a doctor, too?"

"Family tradition," he said lightly, getting up and swinging his backpack over his shoulder. He swept them a bow. "Until tomorrow, lovely ladies." That dazzled them so much that he actually managed to get to the door before they started shrieking in ecstatic unison. He left without even a twinge of conscience. If they wanted to think he was working at the hospital -- well, he hadn't said he WASN'T, had he?

He had a hot date he needed to get to, but first he had to buy her some pastries.


"Here you go, Nagoya-kun," said his hot date, handing him his book. "Is that the one you wanted?"

Chiaki turned his most brilliant smile at her. If the girls at his school had seen it, they'd've melted into small piles of goo, but Chiaki reserved this smile for booksellers and pastry clerks. [Kagura had once been heard to observe, sourly, that the only females the Nagoyas went out of their way to charm were those who sold books or sweets.] "Perfect," he said. "What would I do without you?"

The bookstore owner cackled. "Find someone else to flirt with, no doubt." She reached up and ruffled his hair. "I know you Nagoyas."

He smiled again and produced the bakery bag. "Something for your trouble," he said, with a sideways look. It was a tradition -- he would cajole her into finding a book for him, and after she had threatened, bribed or begged her distributer into getting it, he would give her pastries. His father did the same thing. He knew that because his father had taken him aside at the age of four and solemnly explained the correct method of treating people who dealt with books. And sweets.

His mother had laughed herself sick and demanded to know what sort of treatment _she_ got, then, as she was neither a bookseller or a pastry chef. His father looked back at her with a smile only she got, and said promptly that she was their princess, and of course she was treated even better than a pastry chef who sold books.

"Go on with you," said the bookseller, with another pleased cackle. "Save your sweet looks for the girl you like -- and don't tell me you don't have one."

"I don't," he said mildly. "How could I, when you're the one I love so true?"

"Well, you should," she said firmly. "Now, get out of here before I start crying to be fifty years younger!"

Chiaki cast one last languishing look at her, and took his book to the park.

He'd said being a doctor was a family tradition. What he hadn't said, what he couldn't say to the girls that squealed and fluttered around him, was that it was a family tradition because the Nagoyas were all born with an innate, instinctive desire to heal and protect. He wished sometimes that he could be something else, want to be something else, but trying not to be a doctor would be like trying not to breathe. So he cajoled and flirted bookstores and librarians into finding texts he could have borrowed from his father, and growled about working at the hospital, while hoping that his father didn't see the way he handled the things in his office, with an affection bordering on reverence.

Chiaki was deeply absorbed in disorders of the gastrointestinal system [and a bag of chips], when something in the back of his mind observed that he'd been hearing something for quite a while.

It sounded like a very small voice repeating the phrase "fuckityfuckityFUCKFUCKFUCK".

Chiaki tried to ignore it, but the speaker kept on, alternating between that and "shitshitshitshitSHIT", and, for variety, "Sure, says Riru-sama, go ahead, I understand perfectly, permission granted, good luck and have a good time -- but DOES Riru-sama give me one bloody clue? Of COURSE not, why would Riru-sama do something NICE like that --" and then back to "fuckityfuckityFUCKFUCKFUCK".

"....," said Chiaki finally. "Look, I'm trying to read here."

"Well, I'M trying to save the world from destruction," snapped the voice.

"Do it somewhere else."

There was silence. Chiaki went back to the pathology of ulcers -- a field he had personal interest in. His father seemed to feel that Chiaki needed at least three at all times.

Finally -- "Er. You can hear me?"

"Of course I hear you," said Chiaki, irritated. "I wouldn't be telling you to shut up if I didn't."

Another silence.

"You, er, aren't possessed or anything?"

"The only thing possessing me is a need to read my damn book in peace," snapped Chiaki. He put a finger in his book and looked up.


In Heaven's archive, there is a large book filled with the reactions of humans upon seeing an angel for the first time. "YAAAUUUUUGHAAIIIIIIEEEEAUUUUUUUUUUGH" has several pages of checkmarks behind it.

Riru, the Great Angel, claims that this record is kept merely for research and reference purposes. It is, xe says, useful for those angels sent to the human world to have an idea of how humans may react to their presence.

Or you can take the private opinion of most of Heaven, which is 'Riru-sama thought it was funny'.

In either case, however, Nagoya Chiaki earned himself an indelible place with it with his remark, "Shit, maybe Kagura's right."


"Fear not?" offered the thing floating in front of him.

"After this I'm getting eight hours of sleep a night," said Chiaki.

"Hello?" It buzzed closer to him, and waved a hand in front of his face. "HellooooooACK."

Chiaki studied it as it wriggled wildly in his fist. "Maybe I need to sleep more than that," he continued, thoughtfully. "This is a really detailed hallucination."


"Yes," said Chiaki. "You're six inches tall, you have black wings, slitted eyes, and a jewel in your forehead. And your ears are pointed."

It blinked at him, and then recovered. "That doesn't mean I'm a hallucination!"

"Then what are you?" asked Chiaki. He thought he was being pretty reasonable, which was probably another bad sign.

The thing cleared its throat and struck a pose -- or tried to, considering that it was still stuck in Chiaki's fist. "You have the great honor to meet Black Angel Access Time."

"That's nice," said Chiaki. "I'm going to bed early tonight."


The Great Angel Riru had developed a carefully hidden soft spot for Black Angel Access Time the day xe gave Access his name, and the latter had promptly zoomed around the heavens bellowing that HE HAD A COOL NAME because HE WAS SO COOL -- and then equally as promptly dropped down beside a very frightened little spirit who would be named Celicia Foam, and stayed with her until her Naming came. Riru saw quite a bit of Access after that, since he was continually being hauled in front of hir to discuss Access's utter lack of regard for rules and proper behavior, and his temper, which wavered between 'hair-trigger' and 'explosive'.

When the tragedy had deprived Access of his three dearest friends, Riru had grieved not only for the missing ones, but for Access. And when the news came, Riru called Access to hir side and explained as gently as possible.

Access's eyes had flared for one second, and then narrowed, the only sign of shock he allowed himself. "I'll go," he said.

"Access," xe said, carefully, "This might be a little--"

"I said I'll go," said Access. "I have to."

And Riru had understood what Access hadn't said -- that he believed that it was fault, that he still loved ... her ..., and that if he wasn't given permission he would simply go anyway. Rather than lose another angel -- and to keep Access down to a dull roar -- xe had given permission, hoping against hope that one Black Angel could do something.

On the other hand, Ruri never underestimated Access Time. He might have been an chronic ... 'goofball', xe believed the humans said, but when he said he was going to do something, it was done. And a small, base part of hir brain reflected gleefully that Access Time in the human world was going to be the most amusing thing xe had seen in a very long time.

It was with great interest, then, that Riru watched as Access lost what grip on his temper he had, and proved his reality by sinking his fangs into Chiaki's hand.

Xe was really going to have to speak to Access about his language, Riru reflected, comfortably aware that Access was finally beginning to respond like Access again. He had the worst mouth of any angel Riru had ever seen.


"DID THAT FEEL LIKE A DAMN HALLUCINATION TO YOU?" the thing bellowed, buzzing around Chiaki's head like an enraged hummingbird. "DID IT? DID IT?!"

Chiaki sucked on his hand, remembered that it was unsanitary, and decided he didn't give a damn. "What was THAT for?"

"HE GRABS ME AND SQUASHES ME HALF TO DEATH AND HE WANTS TO KNOW WHY I FUCKING BIT HIM," the thing roared at the sky. It stopped zooming around and floated just out of Chiaki's reach, glaring at him. "How would YOU like it if someone did that to you, huh!"

"All right, already, I get the goddamn point," said Chiaki, examining his hand. It had two tiny puncture marks, as if he'd been bitten by a vampire mouse.

"Don't say 'goddamn'."


"Don't say 'goddamn'," it repeated.

Chiaki didn't bother to point out that it had spent the last ten minutes running through a vocabulary that made Chiaki's own sound like an elderly maiden lady saying 'oh, poodles'. He blotted up the rest of the blood with his handkerchief.

"Er," it said. "Sorry about biting you."

"'Sokay as long as Dad doesn't see it," said Chiaki, crumbling the handkerchief around a rock and chucking it as far as he could.

The thing watched the handkerchief fly off and land in the bushes. "Would your old man go ape or something? What about your mom?"

"Dead," said Chiaki, briefly. "And yes, he would go ape."

The thing blinked at him.

"My mother died a long time ago," explained Chiaki. "It's just me and him -- and his wife," he added.

It stared at him.

"My father collects divorces," said Chiaki. "Three and counting."

"Daaaamn," said the thing, sympathetically.

Chiaki opened his mouth, and closed it again when he realized he was about to pour out the whole story of his idiot father and his idiot remarriages, to something that might weigh a hundred grams soaking wet. "Does every person you ... appear to ... tell you their damn life story?" he demanded.

The thing somehow folded its legs under it in midair. "Humans aren't supposed to be able to see me." It tried, and failed, to look modest. "Riru-sama says I'd make a good Guardian, though. 'Cept you have to be a True Angel and pass a shitload of tests to be one."

Chiaki decided he didn't want to find out.

"Anyway," it said. "It's still weird that you can see me."

"I'm actually secretly a world-famous psychic warrior monk," said Chiaki, acidly. "My former incarnations rid the world of evil spirits and I was sent back to this world to fight once again. How the hell should I know why I can see you?"

The thing looked struck, and then so thoughtful that Chiaki was disturbed. "I was kidding," he said, cramming the rest of the chips in his bag and placing the book tenderly in the front pocket. He was getting out of here.

"You know," it began, but Chiaki was already walking away. "HEY!" it bellowed.

Chiaki ignored it.



Chiaki looked up from the computer. The thing floated in front of him, glaring. He blinked at it.

"Don't just run off and leave people when they're talking to you," it snarled. For such a tiny thing, it had a surprisingly deep voice, nearly as deep as Chiaki's own. "Do you know how long it took me to find you?"

Chiaki looked at the clock. "Well, I got home at five," he said, choosing to interpet the question literally. "And it's eight now, so ... three and a half hours?"

"Hardeharfuckingharhar," it said, folding up its legs beneath it.

"How do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Fold your legs like that in midair." Chiaki paused meaningly. "Of course, if you were a hallucination, of course you could do things like that."

It bared its teeth at him. "Funny. And I've always been able to do this. I knew someone who could kneel in midair."

Chiaki raised an eyebrow at it and returned his attention to the screen. "That's nice," he said.

"What are you doing, anyway?" The thing turned around and examined the screen.

There was a short silence.

"Ew," it said, finally. "Is that really what's inside a stomach?"

"Yes, it is," said Chiaki. "Well, what was inside that stomach, anyway." Part of the reason he had wanted that one particular book was that it came with a CD with what it called 'virtual tours of the stomach!'. What do you want?"

"You're the only one who can see me," said the thing, promptly. "I need your help."

"No," said Chiaki.

The thing glared at him again. "I don't suppose you'd like to HEAR ME OUT or anything stupid like that first, huh."

Chiaki pretended to think. "Mmm... No."

The thing called him something unflattering.

"Hey," said Chiaki, mildly, "Leave my mother out of it."

"Come on, what harm will it do to listen?" it whined. "At least you could let me practice my pitch on you."

Chiaki considered this. It occured to him that listening to a hallucination explaining why it was appearing to him was probably going to be a lot more interesting than trying to study stomachs with half an ear open for his father's obvious tiptoeing around to see if he was asleep in bed. "And if I refuse?"

The thing slumped. "I guess I'll go around looking for someone else," it said, gloomily. "But do you know how hard it is to find someone who can see you who isn't already possessed? It's like finding a fucking needle. If they're not possessed they're about three months old and think you're some type of damn toy." It pulled a face. "And I've spent the last three nights trying to sleep in trees, and I swear a cat thought I was some kind of bird. And it was one of those black and white buggers with big ears, the really good hunters. I spent an hour trying to escape the damn thing."

"Ah, hell," said Chiaki, uncomfortably aware that his better self was going to get him in trouble again. "I guess you could stay here tonight. And I could listen to your pitch."

The thing brightened minimally. "Well, the thing is...," he began.


"So the devil is trying to take over the world by possessing beautiful things," said Chiaki, carefully. "And the things wait until someone with a beautiful heart stops to admire it, and then they possess THEM and consume their hearts."

The thing nodded.

"And besides that, there is an angel who went over to the Devil's side, and she is searching for a certain human who has the ability to protect the human race, and once she finds her, which she will, she is going to betray her into capturing the demons for the Devil until she gets all of them, when the fallen angel will say hahaha sucker and take them to Satan?"

The thing nodded again.

"And besides that, the reason why this girl can capture the demons in the first place is because she's the reincarnation of Jeanne d'Arc, and holds some of God's power sealed within her, and so the angel means to break the seal and disperse God's reserve power within her," said Chiaki.

"Pretty much," said the thing. "Well? Can you help us?"

"Nope," said Chiaki, amiably. "Ain't got nothing to do with me."

"HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FEEL WHEN THE EARTH IS DESTROYED, HUH?!" bellowed the thing. "And aren't you a man?! What about that girl, huh! Don't you feel the slightest bit sorry for her?"

Chiaki hesitated for one second. Unfortunately the thing saw it and pressed in for the kill. "Come on, man, she's alone! Satan's been trying to destroy her since the day she was born!"

[and he sees the girl and the girl looks back at him, and her eyes are the loneliest thing he's ever known]

"Just think about it, ok?" it said. "You don't have to decide right now."

[but she's so lovely and he wants to reach out to her and hold her ... but he can't reach her, can't reach her at all]

Chiaki was silent for one moment. "Good night," he said, and got into bed.

"Aren't you going to think about it?"

"I don't know yet!" he snapped. "Shut up and go to sleep."

It sighed and laid down on the pillow Chiaki had dug up for it. "Good night, then."

Chiaki turned off the light, but he stared into the dark for a long time.

[how can I protect you if you're so far away? come down come down to me and be my love...]


Chiaki opened his eyes. The thing -- the angel -- floated in front of him, glowing faintly in the dark room.

When the angel spoke, his voice was calm and controlled. "What did you dream about?"

Chiaki knew he ought to be surprised, or angry, or something, but he answered as calmly as the angel had asked him. "I was on a ship in a storm. My men were frightened but I wasn't. The storm got worse and worse, and I knew I had to do something. I told my first mate to take care of the ship for me, and I stood on the deck and told the ocean that I was hers to do with as she pleased, but to leave my men and my ship alone."

"And then?"

"I jumped." Chiaki had a distant feeling that in about a minute he would realize he had just had a very nasty nightmare, but he couldn't bring himself to worry, or even care. "And the ocean took me and left my men and my ship alone."

[and he isn't scared, although his men scream his name]

"I need your help," said Access Time, the Black Angel, his eyes flat with the burden of something bigger than Chiaki had ever known. "Heaven needs your help."

[and he isn't scared even though the fall is the longest he's ever taken]

"Please," said Access.

[the fall is the longest because it lasts the rest of his life
but he isn't scared
he loves the sea and the sea loves him
but he spares a split second to think
of the girl whose eyes were like the sea]

"Will you help us?"

[and he isn't scared he isn't scared at all
the sea surrounds him and enfolds him
he is the sea and the sea is he
he isn't scared a bit]


[because his fate is decided by the sea.]


White Knight to move.

Game Start.

--end 01: sleep to dream--


Sorry about Access's pottymouth. .

Access: Who the hell are you calling a damn pottymouth!
Meg: ....... oh, nevermind.

Anyway, this one is All Erin's Fault. Hahaha. So there. And possibly the fault of getting a goodish bit of KKJ when I was in Seattle, although I'm more inclined to blame Erin and Meimi and Ann. This fic is supposed to cover Chiaki meeting up with Access [in the anime, apparently, Access names him after a billboard. A BILLBOARD. o_O; I had a better opinion of Access's style than THAT, thanks] until he meets Maron, but depending on where it goes it might actually cover a bit more than that. ._.; But I need 1 and 2. Rather badly.

[Although, as Erin says, Access WOULD name Chiaki after a billboard. And after one of those conversations with Meimi that prove that there are Just Some People who should Not Be Allowed On The Same Internet XD XD XD, I've decided to just be glad that he didn't name him Kaitou HamburgerBasketWithFriesAndSoda. .;]

And in case you're wondering, hummingbirds DO zoom around your head in rage -- we keep a hummingbird feeder, and the damn things are forever zooming around chasing each other away from it. .; And once when my mother and I were gardening, a hummingbird decided that we were attacking its nest and dive-bombed us. Mom threw me on the ground and we STAYED on the ground until we finally realized it was a pissed off bird about the size of a quarter, rather than, say, a swarm of enraged hornets, which was our first thought. They're vicious little critters, really.