A Test of Courage
Note: I'm basing this around the Ghost Stories Radio Drama, where Yata is frightened, but refuses to admit that he is scared. This story is going to depict the aftermath of the event—including Saru of course.
More romance-focused instead of comedy.
It had been two days since her humiliating experience at HOMRA. Her fellow Red clansmen had gathered around the bar one night to listen to Kanamoto's reason as to why he moved out of his old apartment. Although she managed to play off her fear for a little while, Anna had suddenly appeared before them and insisted that she too wanted to tell ghost stories. In the end, the chestnut-haired girl screamed her head off and fled the bar.
The following day, Misaki insisted that she didn't flee from fear, but simply because she forgot that she had to work at one of her part-time jobs that night. Totsuka Tatara—mischievous as always, suggested that the Red clansmen do a kimodameshi, or a test of courage.
"Hey all! You know that abandoned Shinto Shrine up at the North East end of Shizume City? It seems that they plan to demolish what is left of it next week. Apparently decades ago, there was a fire, and quite a few people died in it. The shrine owners had left it up in order to allow sufficient time for those souls to go to Yomi."
With a grin, Tatara continued on. "So, with that being said. Let's all do a kimodameshi there tomorrow night!"
"Haaaa? Why would we waste time on something as stupid as that!?" The little crow shot up from her seat and shook her head in disbelief.
"Yata-chan, it can't be that you're scared, are you?" Kusanagi asked with a smirk.
"W-w-w-what!? Why the fuck would I be scared? It's just going to be a boring waste of time!"
"Awww come on Yata. You don't want to disappoint Anna now, do you?" Turning to the strain girl beside him, Totsuka asked, "You want Yata to come too right?"
The silver-haired girl nodded and said quietly, "It will be more fun…if we all go together…Including Misaki."
Unable to refuse the ruby-eyed girl, the vanguard threw her hands up into the air and shouted, "FINE THEN! I'LL FUCKING GO! ARE YOU ALL HAPPY, YOU FUCKING BASTARDS?"
The Red clansmen all nodded in unison.
Staring down at her watch, Misaki noticed that there was only an hour until the meeting time. With a look of determination, the amber-eyed girl jammed her hands into the hoodie's pockets and started to charge towards the Shinto Shrine.
However, little did the girl know, Scepter 4's third-in-command Fushimi Saruhiko was trailing behind her, curious as to where his beloved was going. "…Misaki…What plans do you have at this hour?" he muttered to himself.
Swiftly moving from lamppost to alleyway to building, the Blue clansman remained well-hidden from all eyes, except for one person.
"Saaaaaaaaaaru-kun~ What are you doing?" A voice of a certain brown-eyed man called from behind him.
Instantly spinning his head around, Fushimi saw Tatara standing there with his trademark, care-free smile slapped onto his face.
"Totsuka-san. I could be asking you the same thing. What the hell are you doing all the way out here on the North East end?"
"Are you asking what I'm doing here, or what Yata is doing?" he replied, still not breaking the grin on his lips.
Saruhiko's fist shook as he used all his strength not to slug the man beside him. "Just shut the fuck up and tell me what you're doing here," the Blue hissed through his clenched teeth.
"A test of courage! We're all going to the abandoned Shinto Shrine not far from here to do a kimodameshi! Would you like to come join us, Saru-kun?"
Fushimi clicked his tongue. Every time the brunette called him "Saru-kun," he could feel his blood pressure rise, as the blood pulsed through his body in frustration. "Why the hell would I come join you worthless scum in a stupid event like that?"
"Awww, so you don't want to come join us!? I'm pretty sure Yata will be scared, seeing as she's afraid of ghost stories and anything occult-related. I'm SURE she would be clinging onto whoever she is partnered up with."
His Misaki? Cling onto another man's arm besides his? Unacceptable. Clicking his tongue again, the blue-haired man began to chase after Yata. "Misaki, don't you dare partner up with anyone except for me, you stupid idiot!"
Watching the Scepter 4 officer disappear off in the distance, with a cheerful expression on his face, the man thought, "He might be tightly guarded about most of his thoughts and feelings. But, his emotions are always so obvious when it comes to Yata."
"Oi! You Shitty-ass Monkey! What the fuck are you doing here? Shouldn't you be working, you useless tax-payer money leecher!" Yata tried to push away the blue-haired man who was trying to wrap his arm around her waist.
"Mi-Sa-Kiiiii, I only came because I knew you'd be crying in fear without me," Fushimi said with a smirk.
"How the FUCK did you even know that we were here? You are one creepy-ass fucker sometimes."
"I actually told him to come join us, Yata!" Tatara chimed in.
"We were odd in numbers, and we needed one more person to even things out! You wouldn't want to have to end up doing the kimodameshi alone now, would you?"
With a soft blush, the vanguard mumbled, "No…I guess not."
"Well, that settles it! Now that all of us have gathered here, I will be giving each pair a flashlight. What I've been told about this shrine is that there are five mini shrines. Every shrine has different prayer beads—each representing a different thing within nature: rain, wind, lightning, forest, and mountain. Every group is to go to each of the shrines and take one of the prayer beads. When you gathered them all, come back to this spot."
Shining the flashlight up at his face, the brown-eyed man began to whisper, "Be cautious on where you tread though. The fire occurred in the center of the building, so it wouldn't be surprising if you run into a thing or two along the way."
Feeling a chill run down her spine, Yata instinctively moved closer to the Blue clansman beside her.
"Alright then! Everyone make sure to hold onto your partner! We'll all be going in a few minutes apart from each other. That way you can't all huddle into one group!"
As the groups went in one-by-one, Yata and Fushimi found themselves to be the last ones outside of the shrine. Swallowing hard, the chestnut-haired girl began to have thoughts of just turning around and fleeing the shrine. Completely understanding the girl's thought process at that time, the blue-eyed man grabbed onto the crow's arm and pulled her behind him.
"Oi, you stupid bastard! What are you doing? Let go…FUCK I SAID LET GO!"
Halting immediately in his tracks, the Scepter 4 officer turned around and gripped onto the girl's other arm, holding tightly onto her wrists. "Are you going to run away? You're just setting yourself up to be teased by that worthless trash that's already inside the building. Stop being such a crybaby, and we'll finish this fast. I'm here with you, so you shouldn't be scared."
Surprisingly calm for once, the Red clansman nodded and began to walk slowly through the entrance. It was dark. Even with the flashlight, the two could barely see beyond a few feet in front of them. The wooden floorboards creaked with every step. There was dust and cobwebs covering the furniture. Scattered debris laid all over the ground, as pillagers had made their way through the shrine before.
A few minutes later, the duo had finally arrived at the first shrine. Swiping the beads off of one of the plates, the crow quickly shoved it into her pocket. "Okay, one down. Let's hurry up and get to the next."
After grabbed the second and third beads, Misaki began to lighten up. "This actually isn't so bad after all. We only have two more left, and nothing weird has happened!" she thought.
The girl had come to this conclusion too soon though. Not a moment later, the two could hear footsteps from behind them. Turning her head around, Yata saw nothing behind them. The sounds had ceased as well. When she took another step forward, the amber-eyed girl could hear the footsteps behind her again. This time they were faster and more prominent.
Swallowing hard, Misaki turned to the Blue clansman beside her and whispered, "We were the last group to go…right?"
"Yeah, it pretty much should be only us left in this place…if nothing had happened to the other pairs."
Feeling the cold sweat against her skin, the girl sputtered out, "D-d-d-don't say it like something is going to happen! They should all be fine!"
As if the timing couldn't get any worse, the flashlight began to flicker off, and the two now stood in darkness, with only the moon faintly shining through the ripped parchment windows. Yata could feel her heart pounding harder and faster. Her nerves were on edge, ready for something to jump out.
"Misaki, relax," said the blue-haired man as he gently held the crow's hand. "We're almost done here."
Loosening up a bit, the chestnut-haired girl actually felt relieved to have her ex-best friend beside her for once. Mustering up some courage, Yata shouted out, "Alright, we got this! Come follow me, Saru!"
Opening the sliding door to the next room, the girl immediately saw a soft, glowing figure amidst the darkness. It appeared to be a miko—a shrine maiden, dressed in her red and white hakama. Her long, black hair was covering her face, and quiet moans were escaping her lips.
Trying her best not to panic, Misaki tried to reason it out within her mind. "Oh, it could just be someone who forgot something here, and wanted to get it before they demolished the place."
"Ummm, h-h-hi…W-w-w-what brings you h-h-here at this hour?" said the amber-eyed girl timidly.
Without speaking a word, the shrine maiden snapped her head in the two clansmen's direction, revealing her face in the process. The vanguard could only scream out in horror, when she saw the disfigured face covered in burn scars and dried blood. Her desiccated limbs shook wearily as they pointed straight at Yata's direction.
"KYAAAAAAAAAAAA!" The crow shrieked, while she began to run blindly down one of the corridors.
"Misaki! Where are you going!? That's not the way we're supposed to go!"
It was too late for Fushimi to try to stop the girl. She was already bolting across the wooden floors, straight toward the center of the building. The creaking of the boards became louder and louder…until the weakened floor gave way under her weight. Feeling the wood snap beneath her feet, the girl descended downward into some sort of pit.
Before she fell to her doom though, a large, strong hand gripped onto one of hers. "Misaki, are you alright!?" shouted the blue-eyed man.
"S-S-S-Saru, is that you!?"
"Of course it's me, you idiot. Give me your other hand, and I'll help you up out of there."
After being rescued from uncertain doom by the man that had once betrayed her trust, the girl could no longer hold back her tears. She was frightened beyond belief, feeling weak and helpless. "Sa-Saru..I'm scared! I'm really fucking scared right now!"
Suddenly, she felt a warm embrace, when the man wrapped his two arms around her petite body. "Shhh, Misaki. Please don't cry anymore. I'm here for you. Don't worry, I'll protect you."
Looking up at the taller man beside her, with teary eyes, Yata called out the Blue's name. "Saruhiko…"
Unable to hold back a second longer, the Scepter 4 officer leaned in closer to the amber-eyed girl, pressing his lips against hers. In all other situations, Misaki would have beaten the crap out of the monkey for even daring to touch her this way, but right now, the Blue's lips were warm and reassuring.
Breaking away finally to take in some deep breaths, the two gazed at each other, barely able to see the face of the opposite. Interrupting their romantic moment together, a bright-red aura filled the room, followed by a flash of light beside them. The two suddenly felt a boney hand grab one of their shoulders. Whipping their heads in that direction, they could see that miko from before—her decrepit face gazing at them with her lifeless eyes.
Incapable of suppressing any terror, the two instantly shrieked out at the top of their lungs. With several flashes of light, the duo heard a familiar laugh behind the shrine maiden.
"I see you guys are getting along quite well! I just had to snap a photo of that tender moment just now!"
"TOTSUKA-SAN! WHAT THE FUCK!? HAAAAA!?"
As the entire room filled with bright light of the Red clansmen's aura, the shrine maiden removed her mask and stood there with an evil grin. "C-C-Chitose!? You bastard! That was you all along!?"
"Awww, Yata, you were so cute! Next time, will you hold your body tightly against mine and kiss me too?" Yoh said with a wink.
Feeling her face flush, Misaki came to a realization of what had occurred. "You…fucking…bastards…set me up… TO SCARE ME ON PURPOSE?"
The little vanguard instantly released her fuchsia flames, putting Chitose into a headlock. "I'M GOING TO FUCKING MURDER YOU ALL! PREPARE TO BE SLAUGHTERED!"
Before the clansmen knew it, they were fleeing out of the burning building. Not soon after, they all stood outside of the shrine, watching its last wall become torched by the unforgiving fire.
While Misaki was still screaming and threatening her fellow clansmen, Fushimi stood away from the group with a scowl on his face. "Those idiots had to ruin a good moment. I'm going to kill them myself if Misaki doesn't," he muttered under his breath.
"Saru-kun! Did you have fun tonight? I'm glad that you came. You should definitely come join us more often!" Tatara said with a smile.
Clicking his tongue in annoyance, the Blue clansman gave the brunette a death stare. "You morons made this night a complete waste of time."
Turning to leave, Totsuka stopped Fushimi, when he held a photo in front of the blue-eyed man. "I'm glad I brought my polaroid camera with me tonight! Though it's a bit dark and fuzzy, I'll still give this one to you, Saru-kun! Take care, and I hope to see you soon!"
Peering down at the picture in front of him, Saruhiko's eyes widened in surprise. It was a picture of Misaki and himself staring into each other's eyes right after they kissed. Instead of a look of hatred and disgust, the crow gazed at the Scepter 4 officer with affection and gentleness.
Trying hard to suppress a smile from forming on his lips, the blue-haired man walked away from the Red clansmen, back towards his headquarters. Even if it were just for that moment, he still knew he was somewhere within the vanguard's heart. And that was all that mattered.