Edit: For those of you you haven't, I highly recommend that you read Lost Voice first. This story will likely be confusing if you haven't.
Heh...I know I said it would be a while for this to come out, but. . .you can think Davy Jones that it wasn't. See, I was listening to the song Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and suddenly a whole plot line hit me in the head, so...here you go. The sequel to Lost Voice. Enjoy!
Beneath the Mask
Harsh, ragged breathing filled the small clearing, as a figure slumped against a tree, his shoulders heaving as he struggled to suck in air.
There were no other signs of life around him, as all forest life had fled, frightened severely by something dark, something evil, something absolutely terrifying.
destroy. . .kill. . .
The figure was covered in blood, which also was splattered on the trees all around. It soaked the ground, dying it a deep, dark red. It was everywhere, coating it all like a second skin.
destroy all who-
The trees surrounding the clearing were horribly battered, broken and splintered as if some powerful force had slammed into them over and over again. The grass also, showed signs of destruction; it was torn and ripped right out of the ground, and patches of dirt showed everywhere in tiny craters and dug-up hills.
must kill and destroy all who dare to-
The figure let out a strangled, choked groan, and clutched his head with both hands. The movement shook blood from his clothes, his hair, his skin, and it sprinkled on the ground all around him.
With a low moan, the figure struggled to his feet, still clutching his head. He lurched forward, one foot staggering in front of the other, his body swaying side to side as he struggled to walk.
all will die
The figure stumbled, and reached out a hand to catch himself on a battered tree trunk. For a moment, he leaned there, breathing heavily and shaking violently. With a sharp intake of air, he pushed off, and lurched forward.
their blood will be on your hands
Dark and insane laughter filled the air, echoing throughout the still and silent forest, the only source of sound. A horrible sound, chilling, freezing, and so frighteningly evil.
A young woman ran throughout the village, her long, brunette braid flying behind her. As she ran, her hazel eyes kept darting glances everywhere, as if she was searching for something. Her lovely face was set in a determined frown, and her lips were pursed together.
"Where is he?" she asked her self, frustrated. She threw a glance upwards to note the place of the sun. "And it's almost time for us to meet, too." She let out a growl of annoyance. "Fine then, let him be late. I'm not going to search for him any longer."
And with that, she altered her course, and darted lightly down a smaller street, skillfully weaving between civilians. Her sprint finally ended at the edge of a large, green area that was marked by several training posts and a obstacle course. She halted, panting. This was it - training field number two.
She looked up to see Takeshi-seni waiting quietly by one of the training posts. Ever silent and cool, he seemingly looked relaxed, yet he had an alert sense about him. She knew without a doubt that he noticed everything around him, and knew that she was now walking toward him. He was a little creepy like that, knowing things that he seemingly had no way of knowing.
Besides Takeshi stood a tall, ebony-haired young man, with matching black eyes. He wore the usual smirk on his face, and stood confidently, like he ruled the world. She smiled. That was Aerto, the usual confident, sometimes broody young man who used to act like he was the only thing that mattered in the world. Now, he was a reliable friend.
And besides Aerto, was. . .
"Sai!" She cried, and broke into a run, her eyes on the slim person that stood quietly with the others. He turned his quiet emerald gaze on her, and gave a tiny smile. Like Aerto's his hair was black, but a single, thick lock of white marred it. She had come to love that lock of hair - it marked him out as being different, unique.
She skidded to a stop in front of him, and scowled. "Where were you? I looked everywhere for you and -" It was then that she noticed the bandages that covered both of his arms from fingertips to shoulders. And she wasn't sure, but she thought she caught glimpses of more bandaging underneath his sleeveless dark shirt. "What happened? Are you all right?"
Her manner had abruptly gone from scolding to concerned, and Sai just merely smiled. "It's all right, Kaymy," he said softly. "I was training, and accidently fell from a tree into a spiny thornbush. Just a bunch of scrapes, that's all."
"Oh," she sighed, greatly relieved. Her scowl returned. "But that doesn't mean you can make a lady get herself all worried and concerned because you didn't show up where you were supposed to!"
"Hn," Aerto smirked. "You're in for it now, Sai."
"You can squabble later," Takeshi broke in coolly, his dark blue eyes somehow amused even though his expression was unreadable, as always. "Right now I something of importance to tell you."
At once, the three Juni fell silent, and waited expectantly. "You've been Juni for nearly two years," Takeshi spoke up. "And now that you are of eighteen years of age, you are considered adults. It is time for you to become Seni."
"Really? Already?" Kaymy exclaimed, "I didn't think it would come so soon." Her expression sobered as she remembered all that had happened in the past as their missions as Juni. Those had been dark times, but it was over and done with. Now it was time to look forward to the present.
"So...do we have to take a test or something?" Aerto asked carelessly, his smirk never fading.
"That's right," Takeshi replied, and gave a tiny, dark smile. There was a gleam in those dark eyes, and it unnerved them. The last time they had a test with Takeshi, it turned out to be very unpleasant and painful. "And this year...we're going to try something a little different. We and the other warrior villages."
"Which is...?" Kaymy swallowed nervously.
"Before I tell you that, I need to tell you something else. As you know, there are two kinds of Seni. Those who work alone, such as myself, and those who work in pairs, as your parents, Kaymy."
At once, her expression became dark and sad, and she turned away. Her parents had been killed by the Gokaku, who had once been a terrible force to be reckoned with. Yet her loss was nothing, compared to that of Sai's. She cast a covert glance at her green-eyed teammate, yet he seemed unmoved, unfazed.
She sighed. It was a good thing he did not remember. A very good thing. She swallowed, and looked back up. "And?"
"You have the choice of which type you wish to be. If you decide to be a pair, you will take the Seni exam together. And likewise, if you decide to be alone - you will take it alone. However, the exams are made to accommodate either decision."
"There's no decision," Kaymy declared. "Right, Sai?" She looked over at him, and grabbed his hand, giving it a squeeze.
Sai gave her a gentle smile. "Right. We will take it together, Kaymy and I."
Takeshi held back a small smile. "Aerto?"
"Hn. How can you ask?" Aerto smirked. "I'm doing it alone. I don't need others to drag me down. No offence, guys," he added, seeing Kaymy's dark look, and Sai's blink.
"Very well." Takeshi gave a single nod. "Relax for the rest of the day, and tomorrow morning, gear up, and meet at the Maka's office for the Seni exam."
"What?" Kaymy gasped. "T-tomorrow? So soon?"
"That's right," Takeshi's dark eyes glimmered. "I suggest you get a good rest." He turned on his heel, and with a "See you there," he walked off. The three Juni stared after him, a little stunned.
Kaymy scowled angrily. "That's just like him, throwing things at us last minute. I've a good mind to - "
"Kaymy." The warm hand she held tightened slightly around hers. Her cheeks warming up, she looked over at Sai wide-eyed. The very way he had said her name - it sent shivers throughout her.
"S-Sai?" She stammered, not even noticing Aerto's amused smirk. Sai again smiled gently, and she felt her insides warm over. His quiet smiles never failed to do so.
"Let's go out for dinner, all right?"
"Eh?" She blinked rapidly. "J-just the two of us?"
"Of course," Sai said calmly. "Aerto can find his own dinner. As of tomorrow, we will no longer be a team of Juni. Isn't that right, Aerto?"
"Hn. I'm off," Aerto started to walk off with a careless wave. "You two can have your privacy."
Kaymy reddened even more, and glared after Aerto. She had half a mind to throw several senbon at the back of his head. But...the hand holding hers was very distracting, and she found herself lost in warm green eyes. Those eyes seemed to hold her in place, and envelope her in love and warmth and gentleness...
She swam in their greenness, and flew past mile after mile of warm emeralds. These eyes were so kind and gentle, yet somehow, they were sad, so very sad and scared and -
What? Why would Sai be sad? What was he scared of? She started to pull back to question, but a gentle pressure on her nose stopped all thoughts Sai leaned down, and pressed his lips lightly against her nose.
She turned beet red, and let out a dazed giggle. Sai pulled back, and flashed her that heart-warming smile once again. "Come on," he whispered. "Let's go." His hand tightened around hers, and she willingly followed the faint pull. At this moment, she would have followed him anywhere, no matter where he took her. Even if it was off a cliff, she would have gone. Anywhere, as long as he was with her.
"This is beautiful. Thank you, Sai," she says, and leans her head against my shoulder. We sit on top of a roof, watching the sun set behind the forest that is beyond Tokita's solid walls. The sun bathes everything in liquid fire, making the trees, house-tops, and even the people below seem to flicker and dance with crimson and orange flames.
It is beautiful, yet it reminds me of something dark and ugly and bloody. . .
No. I cannot think about that. If I do, my mask will slip, and that is the worst thing that can happen to everyone. I close my eyes, and seek her hand, slipping mine beneath her cool fingers. She tightens her grip, letting me know that she is there.
"Sai?" She whispers, and I open my eyes, and turn my head. She is looking at me with those gorgeous hazel eyes, and I am taken aback by their concern. Have I worried her? Unease settles in the pit of my stomach. Does she - ?
"Are you all right, Sai?"
I swallow. "What do you mean?" I ask.
She draws closer, peering deep into my eyes. Shifting uncomfortably, I hold my mask firmly in place. She cannot see past it, she mustn't.
"You're different, somehow," she says softly, tilting her head a little. "It's not much, but it's there. You seem. . .older, more. . ."she shakes her head, her face scrunching up in an adorable way. She looks up at me, her gaze serious, and her other hand moves to cradle mine with her other one.
"Sai. . .please. . .will you tell me if something is wrong? Promise me..." I feel my stomach clench as I hold her gaze.
"Of course," I make my self say smoothly, even though it seems to tear a deep gouge throughout me. My mask smiles reassuringly, and she gives a faint, contented sigh, and leans her head back on my shoulder. I curl an arm around her, and hold her close.
"Thank you, for today," she says. "I had a great time, even though we got kicked out of that one diner. . .for disturbing the other customers." She lets out a giggle.
My mask answers absentmindedly for me, for which I am grateful. My mind is in turmoil, and my thoughts are dark and troubling. "It was only because you decided to pin that poor young man to the wall with your senbon."
"But he was groping that one girl! I couldn't sit quietly and let him. . ."
I tune out her words, and try to calm my heaving mind. Calm. . .I must calm down, or else the mask will crack. Calm. . .
I can't tell her.
I cannot. . .ever. . .
. . .let her know. . .
. . .the truth.
For she is what holds me together.