Ao no Exorcist (青の祓魔師 / エクソシスト) © Kazue Katō
It was almost midnight, and the full moon was up in the dark, starry sky. At that moment, the white-haired girl was lying on her bed, her eyes open and glued on the neglected ceiling of her room. She was tired and wanted to rest, but she couldn't close her eyes and fall asleep. Her mind was troubled and full of thoughts; thoughts about what had happened a few hours ago.
"... Don't take it back," Rin said, his voice sounding demanding, almost as though he were afraid her feelings towards him had changed. They stared at each other, sapphire blue eyes to grayish blue ones – that is, until the half-demon boy blushed and awkwardly stepped back, scratching the back of his head while glancing away. "If you take it back, it'll feel like it was just a joke," he said, his voice sounding rather embarrassed. "It made me happy to hear someone liked me like that... So please, don't take it back."
Aura simply stared at him, her grayish blue eyes wide. "Okay," she nodded at him, even though she wasn't really sure at what she was agreeing to. She was confused, but at the same time, happiness overwhelmed her now that the deep injury on her heart was completely gone. She was blissful; she thought her feelings were bothersome to him, so hearing him saying otherwise made her feel at ease. Along with felicity, though, she also felt puzzlement, and she now was wondering what Rin was thinking, and what kind of feelings he was holding inside.
Rin's lips curved into a calm smile, pretty different to those lively, cheerful grins he usually wore across his face. "Thanks," he said, truly thankful towards her. A silence followed, until the dark-haired boy let out a chuckle, which earned him a curious look from the white-haired girl. "You know... Yours was the first confession I've ever received," he grinned, and the white-haired girl's eyes widened in complete shock.
Rin wasn't lying; he hadn't been exactly popular during his middle school years – or rather, he had never been popular. Back when he was a little kid, everyone used to be scared of him because of his unnatural strength, and at some point, he got used to people fearing him. During middle school, he used to regularly skip school, and because of his lack of presence, he never had the chance to build relationships with the rest of his fellow classmates. Moreover, he was constantly getting into fights, something he struggled to change about himself, but didn't seem to figure out how. To someone like him, who had been a target for fear during most of his childhood and had recently started to befriend other people, receiving a love confession was a joy he couldn't really express in words.
"It made me... really happy," Rin said, as he balled up his fists, annoyed at himself for having rejected her so mindlessly.
A light smile formed on Aura's pinkish lips. "It was the first time I confessed to someone, so... it's kinda special to me, too..." she said, as a slight blush colored her pale cheeks, "To be honest, you were the first person I fell in love with." After hearing such words, Rin's electric blue eyes shot open. He couldn't believe it, and in a way, he felt honored. "But... I'm not sure if I like you that way now," she admitted, and the boy's face suddenly lost cheerfulness, "You're really important to me, but... I don't know. I think we should be friends."
A frown took over Rin's face, especially because of that last sentence of hers. "What makes you so sure of it?"
"I don't know... Maybe that you rejected me without thinking much about it?" Aura replied his question with one of her own, giving him a dubious look, "I'm sure that at that moment, you were thinking about someone else." Rin suddenly jumped in shock, his reaction confirming her suspicions. "You... were thinking about Moriyama-san, weren't you?" she asked, but received no answer from the boy, whose eyes fell down to the floor. "I think you're more suited to her... I mean, you liked her even though she never did anything to win you over, right?"
"... Shiemi's got nothing to do with this," Rin finally spoke, and the white-haired girl raised an eyebrow at him. "I like y—"
"Moriyama-san does have to do with it," Aura cut him off, her voice suddenly gaining strength, "You're just confused, Rin." He simply stared at her; it was true he was confused, but the more he talked to her, the more clear his feelings became. "You might think it's something else, but you're just happy because you got a confession from someone. If I hadn't confessed... you wouldn't feel like this."
"... Fine, I got it," he said under his breath, a scowl still on his features, "But you're wrong."
Aura frowned at him. "How am I wrong?"
Rin didn't reply right away; it took him a while to gather enough courage to speak. When he found the right words to express himself, he lifted up his sapphire gaze from the floor and looked straight into her eyes, his feelings immediately reaching her. "Even if you hadn't confessed, I'd definitely... still like you."
It had been a few hours already, but she still was flustered about it, and her heart started to race whenever the memory of him confessing to her popped up on her mind. Luckily for her, Yukio showed up an instant later, so she didn't have to give Rin a reply – which was convenient, considering she had absolutely no idea what to do. The whole dinner had been extremely awkward, but she had eventually gotten used to it; after all, Yukio and Kuro were there as well, and thanks to their presences, she hadn't felt that uncomfortable.
"What's with him all of a sudden...?" Aura thought, as she rolled on her bed, "Rin is... so weird." She then closed her eyes, but even though she was trying to sleep, thoughts kept popping up on her head. "Rin said he liked me, but... what did he mean?" Honestly, she didn't know. What kind of like was it? Like as in friends? Or like as in love? To her, the half-demon boy was truly an enigma; she had problems reading him, plus his words always confused her. Then again, it wasn't a surprise she didn't understand him; after all, at that moment, she didn't even understand her own feelings.
- – — – -
It was about seven in the morning, and after a whole sleepless night, she stood up from her bed, ready to head to classes. As she dressed up on her uniform, she had a glimpse of herself in a mirror that was nearby, and a frown took over her face at what she was seeing. She had dark bags under her eyes, plus her hair was a complete mess. A tired sigh escaped her lips. She couldn't believe it; the way Rin could get her so worked up over himself. "This is all his fault..." she thought, as she grabbed a brush from her desk and ran it through her tangled white locks.
Without any warnings, a bunch of glitter and confetti suddenly started to rain down above her, causing her to froze in shock and drop the brush she was holding. An instant later, she saw an envelope slowly falling in front of her, and she caught it before it could land on the floor. Aura frowned at the mysterious envelope; it was white with pink dots, plus it was full of adorable, glitterish stickers. She opened the envelope and found piece of paper inside, which she pulled out and began to read to herself.
Dear Shimizu Aura-chan:
The weather's been quite hot lately, hasn't it? I, myself, enjoy summer. It's a lovely season for festivals, don't you think~?
Well, it might sound pretty sudden, but there's something really important I need to discuss with you!
Come to my office right away. I'll be waiting for you~!
"... Something important, huh?" Aura thought, unable to take the demon seriously. On her eyes, Mephisto really was an eccentric person; he seemed to be quite gracious and comical, but at times, he could be quite serious and frightening, almost as if he were hiding his true nature. While wondering what the demon wanted to discuss with her, she suddenly remembered there was something she wanted to ask him; something that had been bothering her for days. She dressed as quickly as she could, and when she finished, she quickly rushed outside her room.
- – — – -
Mephisto smirked contentedly at the screen of his gaming device, enjoying the "YOU WIN" message written in big, red letters. Along with watching anime and reading manga, playing video games was one of his favorite pastimes, and since he was pretty wealthy, he undoubtedly had tons – if not countless – games and consoles. Video games weren't the only games he liked to play, though. He considered the world to be his playground, humans and demons being merely pawns he could make use of. He knew that game of his was quite a hard one to win, but to him, losing wasn't an option.
His trail of thought was suddenly interrupted when a certain girl pushed the door open, making her way inside the room while panting heavily. "My, what kind of way is that to enter the principal's office?" Mephisto asked, eyeing the white-haired girl with amused, forest green eyes. "You look exhausted," he commented, "Have you been running?"
"I'm on a rush, Mephisto-san," Aura said between pants, "The class rep on my class gave up his position... and they're making a reelection today!" To her, proper attendance was pretty important; after all, she wanted the role of class representative, so without doubts, arriving at class in time was totally a must. "So, what did you want to talk about? I can't be late, so let's do it quick!"
"I'll make it quick, then," Mephisto said, before singing, "Eins, zwei, drei~!" He then snapped his fingers, causing a pinkish cloud of smoke to fill the room. There was a loud, metallic sound, and when the smoke faded away, her grayish blue eyes widened in shock at the dangerous weapon lying in the floor. It was a scythe; it was quite big in size, plus its sharp blade looked deadly. "According to the reports the teachers did during the exwire exam, you're pretty physical when it comes to fighting demons, and thus an excellent candidate for knight," Mephisto explained, while the girl stared at the scythe in awe, "All you needed was a weapon, so I thought it'd be appropriate to get you one considering you'll be going on a mission today~"
Aura blinked. "What?" she asked, bewildered at the sudden news, "A mission...?"
"Come now, you're already an exwire. Of course you'll be going on missions," Mephisto said, snickering amusedly, "Seeing as you're not experienced enough to go alone, you'll go with one of your fellow classmates. Hmm, let's see..." A silence followed, the white-haired girl's anxiety growing with each single second. "Oh yes! What about Okumura Rin-kun?" Mephisto said, causing her to jump in shock, "I'm aware you're the only one of his classmates that knows about his powers, so he won't have any problems to fight around you. It's perfect, isn't it~?"
"... It's not perfect at all," Aura thought, feeling desperate. She didn't want to face him; not when she still didn't have an answer to give him.
"The mission is pretty simple," Mephisto started, his voice interrupting the girl's trail of thought, "Wait for me outside the door at six pm, alright~?"
"... Okay." Aura turned around to leave the office, but after walking a few steps, she stopped. "By the way, Mephisto-san..." she started, as she jerked her head to look at the purple-haired demon, "Why did you say that I'm dangerous for Rin?" She then turned around to face him, her grayish blue eyes full of sincerity and determination. "I'd never hurt Rin," she stated, her words solid and strong, "Rin is... the most important person to me. There's no way I'd do anything to harm him."
Mephisto smirked mischievously, the girl's pure, loyal feelings catching his interest. "I wonder if that's true..." he said, his voice sounding malicious. "Do you know what kind of demon your mother was?" he asked, and her grayish blue eyes shot open in shock at his question, "Or rather... do you even know what kind of demon you are?" She was in shock; truthfully, she had no idea what kind of demon she was, and honestly, she was too afraid to know. "Don't jump into conclusions so fastly when there's a lot you still ignore about yourself... such as your true nature."
"True nature...?" Chills ran down her spine as she unconsciously stepped back, suddenly feeling the urge to run away from there. "I'll be going then..." Aura said, as she made a small bow and quickly headed outside the room, innerly wondering if hiw words were true. Demons weren't known as honest creatures, but for some reason, she had the feeling the purple haired demon wasn't lying to her. She had the hunch there was something truly bad inside her; something rotten and evil.
"Dear me..." Mephisto said to himself, as his attention went back to his gaming device. "It's going to be this way again, huh...?"
- – — – -
"Damn it, Yukio..." Rin thought in annoyance, as he made his way to the academy's locker room. "Why did you have to show up and ruin everything?" Needless to say, he was quite upset; if only his younger brother hadn't had such a bad timing, he would have gotten a reply from the white-haired girl, and their relationship would probably be different by now. "I want to see her..."
A sigh escaped his lips as he opened his locker, and his electric blue eyes widened in surprise at seeing it wasn't empty. There was a piece of paper folded in half, which he assumed to be a letter. He immediately grabbed it, and without waiting a single second, he opened it and read its content.
We have a mission today.
Meet me outside the dorm at 6 pm.
He didn't know how he was supposed to feel after reading that emotionless letter of hers. Should he feel glad because he now had the chance to spend time alone with her? Or should he feel upset because she was acting as though nothing had happened? Honestly, he wasn't sure – but if there was something he was sure of, it was that he was a bit afraid to face her. He had no idea what she would have said if Yukio hadn't showed up and interrupted the moment, after all.
- – — – -
As soon as the regular classes finished, Aura walked outside the classroom, her eyes downcast in dissapointment. In the end, that day, she had couldn't make it to classes; in fact, she arrived nearly fifteen minutes late. It wasn't a surprise she had been late; she had to go back to the dorm to leave her scythe in her room – since there was no way she could go carrying such a deadly weapon in front of normal students – plus she had to write a letter for Rin and leave it on his locker as she didn't have the guts to face him yet.
"Damn it..." she thought, "I... really wanted to be the new class rep..." While thinking about this, she slowly made her way to the cafeteria, and much to her surprise and fortune, she managed to buy herself a cheap lunch and get a table despite the fact it was as crowded as always. Izumo and Paku, who right at that moment were wandering aimlessly in the cafeteria, happened to spot her at the distance, and decided to sit with her as she was alone in the table. It was a matter of time until they started to talk, and inevitably, the conversation of the previous day was resumed.
"Really?" Paku asked, shocked at what she was hearing. "Okumura-kun said that?"
Aura nodded. "I told Rin I wanted to take my confession back, but he said he didn't want me to," she explained, "I seriously don't get him at all..."
"See?" Izumo told the short-haired, brunette girl, her voice showing absolutely no signs of either surprise or shock, "It was obvious it'd go well."
"So..." Paku started, and her lips curved into a cheerful smile, "Are you two going out?"
At that instant, Aura choked on the apple juice she was drinking. "W–What?" Her pale face was now colored a deep, fire red, probably because to her, the idea of going out with someone sounded weird and embarrassing. She had never dated anyone, hence her lack of knowledge on the subject, but she knew things like hugging, kissing and cuddling came along with it. "R... Rin and I?" Honestly, she couldn't picture herself doing such things with the half-demon boy, and just thinking about it was enough to make her flush. "N... No way..."
- – — – -
That day, when Aura stepped inside classroom one thousand one hundred and six, the exwires jumped in startle and stared at her in complete shock. "What?" she asked in confusion, frowning at the surprised reaction her classmates were giving her. "Is there something in my face...?" she thought, as she awkwardly made her way towards her seat next to the pig-tailed, purple-haired girl. She was oblivious to it, but the reason as to why she was being stared at was nothing else than the scythe she was carrying on her back. The deadly weapon was huge, plus it seemed pretty heavy.
"I didn't know you were aiming for knight, Shimizu-san," Konekomaru commented, breaking the silence in the room.
"Ah... I decided it today," Aura said, as she placed her new weapon on the empty desk behind her. She then sat next to Izumo, who was eyeing the weapon with both shock and curiosity. "Mephisto-san got this weapon for me..." At that precise moment, a doubt entered her mind. "Come to think of it... Where did he get it?" she innerly wondered, "And why a scythe, of all weapons?" She really was curious; after all, she didn't even know why the demon had given her a weapon in the first place. She didn't give it much thought, though; he probably had his reasons.
Rin was agape, his electric blue eyes almost sparkling. "So cool!" he said in awe, his words causing the white-haired girl to jump in startle. "You almost look like a shinigami!"
"A... shinigami?" Aura thought, wearing a frown across her face, "Is that supposed to be a compliment...?" None of the exwires said anything, but they shared the half-demon boy's opinion. She was carrying a scythe, the classic weapon gods of death used to eliminate souls in fiction, plus her appearance was pretty ghostly considering her hair was snow white and her skin extremely pale. Truthfully, she looked like a grim reaper, or at least some sort of evil spirit.
The door suddenly opened, and the anti-demon pharmacology teacher stepped inside the room. "Alright everyone," he said, his voice catching the attention of all the exwires, "Take your seats, class is about to begin." His turquoise eyes scanned the whole classroom, and he immediately noticed that there was a deadly weapon lying in the desk behind the two girls sitting in front. "Is that yours, Shimizu-san?" he asked, and Aura immediately nodded. "So you have your eye on knight, huh?"
"Yeah," Aura replied, nodding, "I don't know if I'll be able to learn how to fight with it, but... I'll do my best."
Honestly, Yukio was surprised; he thought the white-haired girl was more suited to be either a doctor or an aria since her grades were quite good, but he decided to remain quiet and respect the girl's decision of choosing knight as her meister. Aura, on her part, had a hard time choosing a meister. Doctor and tamer were meisters she had no interest in, so she discarded them. Aria didn't really appeal her either, but if she happened to choose it as her meister, she would have to be extremely careful not to recite her own fatal verse. Dragoon and knight were the only ones left, and she was fine with either.
"Good luck with it," Yukio said, giving her a gentle smile. "I'm sure you'll be able to accomplish it."
"Th... Thanks, Yu—" Aura said, but stopped when she realised what she was about to say, "... Okumura-sensei."
She didn't really notice it, but Rin gave an annoyed snort. "What the hell?" he thought, frowning, "Since when are they so close?" It wasn't the first time he noticed it; that Aura usually got flustered around Yukio. Honestly, it annoyed him how his younger brother was always liked and admired by everyone, but it especially annoyed him that he was snatching the white-haired girl away from him. Aura had confessed to him; she had said she liked him and none else, so the thought of her falling for Yukio instead pissed Rin off to no end. Yukio, feeling a glare pierced on him, noticed the fact his older brother looked pretty angry, but decided to simply ignore him. He knew his older brother could be quite immature sometimes, after all.
"Well," Yukio started, facing his rather small class, "Shall we start the lesson now?" The response of the students was a silent nod, and the young teacher turned around, grabbed a chalk from the holder and began to write. "Today's class will mostly be spent on revision," he said when he finished writing "Herbalism" on the blackboard, "I want you to make a list of the herbs and fungi you know that can be used to treat spirit wounds. You can work in pairs as long as each of you do your own writeup." As soon as the word 'pairs' escaped the teacher's mouth, Rin immediately turned to look at Aura, and an idea crossed his mind. "You have fourty minutes to do it until I collect your papers."
"Alright..." Aura thought, grabbing her pen and focusing her attention on the work, "Aloe: It can be used to soothe irritation and restore the original pigment of skin. It works well for spirit wounds caused by a ghoul type demons. Plantain: It can be used to heal wounds quicker. It works for any kind of external spirit wound. Pomegranate: It can be used to kill parasitic demons, such as chuchi. Echinacea: It can—" she stopped writing when she felt a pair of eyes glued on her, and when she lifted up her gaze from her studies, she saw a certain half-demon standing in front of her. "W... Wha—"
"Do this with me!" Rin said, accidentally sounding demanding, "P... Please."
Aura didn't reply, probably because she hadn't even registered what he had said. "W–Why don't you do it with Moriyama-san?" she said, feeling nervous all of sudden.
Rin frowned. "I want to do it with you," he said, his words making the white-haired girl's face go a tone redder.
"... Izumo-chan?" Aura said nervously, turning to look at the pig-tailed, purple-haired girl sitting next to her.
"No way," Izumo immediately declined, "I'm doing this alone."
"B–But..." Slowly, Aura turned to look at Rin, and carefully studied him. His posture was pretty tense, and his sapphire blue eyes were expecting a response of agreement. Honestly, she enjoyed being around him and wanted to work with him, but there was one problem; she still didn't have a response for his confession, and she was sure he would ask her about it.
Rin, tired of waiting for her to react, took her silence as a "yes" and dragged her towards an empty desk at the end of the classroom, next to the one in where Yamada was sitting. They sat together, and the lack of conversation caused a silence to build between them. "Wh... What now...?" he thought, feeling nervous all of sudden. What was her response? How did she feel about him? Would she go out with him? There were a lot of questions he wanted to ask her, but he had no idea how to start.
"I... can't think of anything..." Aura thought, chewing on her pencil out of nervousness. Her mind was completely blank, almost as though everything she had learned on cram school had been erased from her memories – and she knew the cause of her sudden loss of memory was the boy next to her. Because of him, she couldn't concentrate in the slightest, nor could she think of anything else than the fact he was just a few centimetres away from her. "A textbook," she thought, standing up from her desk, "I need a textbook."
"Huh?" Rin snapped out of his trance as soon as he noticed the white-haired girl was no longer sitting next to him. "Aura?"
"Okumura-sensei," Aura said, and the alluded teacher turned to look at her. "Can I go to the library for a bit?" she asked, "I need to borrow a textbook..."
"Me too!" Rin exclaimed, as he stood up from his desk and rushed towards where the white-haired girl was. Yukio didn't say anything; he simply stared at his older brother with dubious eyes, suspecting he was planning to use the library as an excuse to skip classes. "What?" Rin said, scowling at the way his younger brother was looking at him, "I... need a book, too."
- – — – -
Just as everything else in the prestigious True Cross Academy, the library was luxurious and incredibly huge. There were thousands of books of all kinds, so finding a single book about herbalism was quite a difficult task – although that didn't mean Aura would give up. It had been nearly half an hour since she had started her arduous search, and she wouldn't stop looking amongst the large pile of textbooks until she found what she was looking for. The dark-haired, half-demon boy didn't exactly share her motivation, though.
"Oi, Aura..." Rin called tiredly, looking up at her from where he was sitting, "Haven't you found it yet?"
"No," Aura replied, and then turned to look at him with a frown across her face. "Why are you here anyway?" she asked, "It's not like you need a book or anything."
"Well..." Rin paused, awkwardly scratching his cheek as he tried to think an excuse, "We're... working together, so I thought I should come, too."
Aura raised an eyebrow. "That doesn't make any sense," she said, her grayish blue eyes downcast on a book she was flipping through, "Besides, why didn't you go with Moriyama-san? She's way better at this than me." It was true; the blonde girl who always wore kimonos worked as a shopkeeper at the academy's exorcist shop, so her knowledge about herbalism was obviously rich and wide. "You should go and work with her... You'll pass for sure."
At that point, Rin couldn't stand it anymore. He stood up from where he was sitting, facing her and looking straight into her eyes. He innerly told himself he had to tell her how he felt; she had confessed to him, so there was no way he couldn't so the same. "I like you," he said, his voice determined and straight forward, "Go out with me."
► I guess everyone knows this, but a shinigami (死神) is basically a "god of death" or "grim reaper."
A/N: Update~! Thank you so much for reading... and special thanks to those who take their time and leave me a review! It means a lot to me, really!