A/N: Halló people! It is me, James, and here is the second chapter of Yoru no Youkai - Child of Darkness. I have no excuses for taking this long to update. I'm just lazy like this. I've done a few changes in the first chapter. Most of them are minor, but it won't hurt to take a look at them, right?

Now, because fictionpress does weird things when you try to put footnotes on the text, here are a few things to know if you are new to Japanese culture or the Icelandic language (of which I know very little. If there is someone out there with more knowledge of it then me, feel free to correct me and make fun at my ignorance):

1. Ohanami means cherry-blossom viewing. People gather around the trees to talk, sing or drink and feel the spring air. When it is done at night it is called Yoruzakura.

2. Shidarezakura is a weeping cherry tree.

3. Onigiri is a rice-ball.

4. Halló is Icelandic for "hello".

With these in mind, you can now enjoy the chapter! Have fun and don't forget to review. Any useful feedback is appreciated and any flames will be laughed at and saved for future reference.


SHADOW LURKING IN THE DARK, PART 2

As he walked to school in the next morning, Kazuki could still feel the sinister presence of Jón Arnarsson close by, following him constantly no matter how many detours he took. He walked tensely, gazing briefly at corners and dark alleys searching for his sempai, his heart beat fast inside his chest as he approached the school gates. There were many students going the same way, so Kazuki was soon engulfed by the mass of children in uniform trying to get to their classrooms before the bell rang. The experience of being tossed around by all of those people wasn't the most pleasant one, but the boy felt somewhat relieved by it, because the more immersed he was in the crowd, the weaker the feeling of being followed became. By the time Kazuki reached his classroom there was no sign of Jón Arnarsson's presence anymore.

Kazuki didn't have much time to be relieved, however, because inside the classroom the situation was nearly chaotic with his classmates being even noisier than they usually were. They had been like that for the whole week already, with no obvious explanations for their behaviour, but this Friday was somehow worse than all the other days. It was impossible to concentrate, to think or to do anything other than sit down and hope for the teacher to come soon or for earmuffs to fall from the sky as a gift from merciful gods.

Too busy trying to hear his own thoughts, Kazuki, as in his first day at school, didn't realise there was someone coming in his direction until it was too late and she was already in front of his desk. The first thing he saw was the brown-and-white ponytail waving in front of his eyes, followed by Miyako's cheerful and mischievous smile and piercing green eyes. It didn't take long for her to speak – or rather squeal – in an equally cheerful voice:

'Hello, hello, my dreamy-dreamy boy! What are you doing glooming in the corner when everyone else is celebrating? Haven't you seen the cherry-blossoms? They are still in full bloom, and it is almost May! Don't you feel renewed by their energy and colourfulness?'

Ah, so that was it. All the chaos, the noise and the headaches were because a bunch of trees decided it was a good idea to show off a little longer this year. Brilliant, really. Kazuki would not have thought of a better reason for the demise of civilisation in the school. He gave Miyako a serious look before answering:

'No, the only thing I feel is a big headache.'

The girl's eyebrows went up a little, but her smile didn't fade. Instead, she once again put her elbows on her classmate's table and used her hands to secure her head at the same level as Kazuki's. 'Go out with me' she said simply.

The meaning of Miyako's words took a while to sink in, but as soon as they did Kazuki almost fell to the ground, surprised not just by what she said, but the way she said it. 'Wha… what?' he asked, his voice trembling a little. Something awfully wrong was going on, but he couldn't exactly pinpoint it.

His answer came in a fit of laughter. Miyako's head fell backwards and she had to kneel on the ground before recomposing herself, laughing even harder than the other students around. When her head emerged above Kazuki's table again, there were marks of tears in her eyes. She giggled a little at her classmate's troubled expression before explaining herself, never ceasing to smile:

'Well, just because you are new in the city it doesn't mean I can't play with you, right? You are always so serious and distant – almost like Kintaroh; I couldn't resist, I had to see you cracking up! If I haven't got a reaction from that, I would think you were a robot or worse…'

'Then… was it a joke? Were you using me for one of your jokes?' Asked Kazuki, not really sure why he felt almost like smiling as Miyako's true intentions were revealed.

'Hum… yeah… That's pretty much it. I hope you liked that, because it is not up to you to decide whether I will carry on with them or not!' Miyako's smile broadened and she made the 'victory' sign with her hand, obviously waiting for Kazuki to reply.

'Yes, I did appreciate it, though I wouldn't be so sure that it is up to you to decide whether more will follow.' This time Kazuki was smiling for real. It was the first time he did so since moving to Kyoto. Miyako seemed surprised by the answer she got, but whether it was because of the words or of the smile, it was impossible to tell.

'And… why should I not be so sure?' she asked, trying to look serious, but with a betraying smile still on her lips.

'Because I won't fall for it the next time.' It was Kazuki's turn to rest the elbows in the table and face Miyako with a suspicious grin. It felt good to be able to smile like that after all the tension involving Jón Arnarsson. Back in Aomori he wasn't one to smile frequently, but he wasn't one to never do it either. There were special occasions in which he allowed himself that pleasure; like the first day back home after a month is Aunt Asuka's house, or the days his father stayed at home with him and could help him with his homework.

'Well, than… Care to join me and my friends after school for an Ohanami party at the Maruyama Park?' For someone looking from outside the scene was quite peculiar: Miyako and Kazuki were facing each other with their heads millimeters apart, both with elbows on the tables and heads on their hands. They were not blinking and seemed to be attentively studying each other. Only after about a minute they spoke again:

'Nice try. You want me to think you are playing with me again, so I would refuse the request saying it is another one of your jokes. But as I said, I won't fall for your tricks anymore. I will go with you today, assuming your invitation was for real.'

'That is not fair! You have to tell me how you do that!' Miyako stood up, acting as if she had heard the ultimate offense. Some of the people nearby laughed at her expression, and some looked worriedly at Kazuki, probably wondering what he had done to upset the school Goddess. The girl's act soon came to an end, though, and she addressed her last words to Kazuki with a wink before joining Minamino in the opposite side of the classroom: 'But the invitation was for real, wait for me at the school gate five minutes after the bell. Don't be late, I don't like waiting!'


'Is everyone here already?' asked Miyako to the group in front of her. None of them answered, looking at each other wondering who else she could have invited. 'Oh, come on, if there is anyone missing, how can we move on? Answer me already!'

'How can we tell if there is anyone missing if we don't know who else is coming? You should answer that question, not us.' said Kido in his usual bad mood. He looked at Miyako while speaking, but soon his attention was again focused on Kazuki, like it had been since the boy arrived at the school gates five minutes earlier. He could not understand why Miyako had invited him out of all people for the Ohanami party; no one liked the school freak, the strange boy that did not speak to anyone or had any interest whatsoever in school life.

'I was just checking. It seems you are not in a good mood, Kintaroh. Please remember to smile once in a while, or you will ruin our day.' she answered, too calm for someone who had just been criticized. Kazuki was impressed with the interaction between Kido and Miyako: she was not at all affected by her friend's harsh words; and Kido, even though complaining a lot, always ended up doing what Miyako asked him to. After Miyako's comment on her friend's mood, Kido gave another annoyed retort, and they started yet another long argument.

'Ah, I think the day is perfect for Ohanami, don't you think so?' asked Minamino out of the blue, ignoring her two friends and their shouting context just a few inches away from her.

'Ah… Yeah…' Kazuki found himself looking at the girl's closed eyes and bright smile, the one that caused his chest to raise and fall rapidly in a mixture of despair and hope, and his head to shout warning at him non-stop. Every time she smiled at him, Kazuki wanted to look somewhere else to avoid these things from happening, but his eyes were never able to obey his will; the more he wanted to turn away, the more he looked.

'I brought my compact karaoke, we can sing under the trees and have lots of fun! What do you think?' asked the girl again, carrying on with their attempt of conversation, completely oblivious to what her classmates were doing around her. Kazuki needed a great effort to carry on talking and not be distracted by the things his mind was telling him to do, like run away and hide from that small and harmless girl in front of him. Minamino was completely different from Jón Arnarsson, and yet there wasn't much of a difference in the way Kazuki reacted to their presence. They were both threatening in a way, although for different reasons. It took a while to Kazuki to find a more or less appropriate answer to his classmate's last enquiry, but she didn't seem to notice:

'I… I'm not used with singing in public… I haven't gone to an Ohanami party in probably a decade or so…'

As soon as she heard that, Minamino's face fell, and she begun to teach Kazuki all about Ohanami parties, all the things she had done in the past, and the things people usually did in 'modern' Ohanami parties. For her, ten years was too long a part of life, and many things had changed since then. Forget the fear; by the time Miyako and Kido had stopped fighting Kazuki had accumulated more useless knowledge per minute than he thought was humanly possible.


Crowded. There wasn't a better word to describe Maruyama Park in that afternoon. There were people everywhere, and not a single tree was free for the four newcomers to sit by. It seemed Miyako was not the only one with plans to enjoy the unnaturally long period of blossoming of the cherry threes. The group walked around the park for a while in search of a place to sit down and have their party, until they came across the giant shidarezakura that marked the centre of Maruyama Park.

The sun was shinning still, and there were no clouds in the sky. It was past five in the afternoon, but the feeling was that it was still noon. For the past ten minutes Kazuki had been feeling uncomfortable under the sunrays and the heat, but kept the pain in his head and the dizziness to himself, not willing to give another reason for Kido to call him "freak". It was not that he cared about the opinions other people had of him – he couldn't care less, really – but since he was forced to stay with his classmates for the evening, the least thing he could do was try to make it more enjoyable by not having to hear anyone's complaints.

Until moving to Kyoto, Kazuki was able to successfully hide all the emotions and thoughts he wanted from people like his father, his teachers and Aunt Asuka when he needed to; he could keep his secrets firmly locked inside him. It all changed, though, when he and Jón met. It was probably what scared Kazuki more about the head of the Dark Magic Club: the fact that he could read him even when he didn't want to be read, or how easy it was for Jón to see through him and blow away the barriers he had built during the course of his life. Now that Kazuki was with his classmates, he hoped that he would be able to keep his defences up and hide his discomfort like he used to do back in Aomori, but once again he was mistaken:

'Kazuki, are you alright? You don't look very well to me…'

It was Miyako who asked. They had stopped in front of the shidarezakura to look around for a place to stay, and now the girl was facing him, apparently concerned. Minamino also seemed worried; looking from one friend to another while trying to understand what was going on. Kido just looked away, visibly annoyed.

'I am fine, Miyako, fine.' Kazuki answered. He tried to mask his true feelings with a strong voice and annoyed face, but failed when a sudden dizziness made him lean against a tree for support a few seconds after closing his mouth. Miyako raised an eyebrow, clearly not buying any of it. She was about to reply when Minamino interrupted her, happy and excited. In her mind, she had finally understood what was going on between her friends:

'No, you are not fine! I know what we are gonna do about it: we will sit here for the time being and eat, and then after it we will walk around again to find a place to sit and go for our karaoke competition! What do you think, Kawazue-kun? Sounds fair, right? My mother always says that people like you need food to feel better, so let's eat and recover our energy before doing anything else!'

She didn't wait for an answer. In a blink of an eye she had most of the food out and was distributing it to her friends, careful to give a bigger portion of the onigiri to Kazuki. Once they were all finished they started moving again, but Kazuki was far from feeling better. People were finally leaving the park; it was around six o'clock in the afternoon. With less people around, the sun, the heat and the troublesome headache suddenly were not Kazuki's only worries anymore.

Jón Arnarsson was close-by. He could feel him, and he knew it wouldn't take long for them to meet in the park.


'Let's stay here! It is the perfect spot!' the group did as they were told, sitting around the tree Miyako had chosen for them. This part of the park was already deserted, and many trees were now free. Kazuki didn't like the prospects of being alone in the park with Jón Arnarsson so close to them, but there was nothing he could do to convince Miyako to move somewhere more crowded when he was determined not to mention his fear of the popular sempai. There were more clouds in the sky now, and the shadows from the trees stretched a long way on the ground. Unaware of it all, Miyako went on with her mundane plans, grabbing the microphone and portable karaoke machine in one swift motion. 'I'm singing first, and then Kintaroh, Mayumi and Kazuki will have their turns and we will choose the best singer of the day!'

Kazuki didn't pay attention to whichever music her classmates sang; it wasn't really important after all. His body was getting tenser and tenser; the sinister presence didn't go away. His heart beats became faster and faster; Jón Arnarsson was getting closer. His face and hands begun to sweat; why no one else could feel the cold in the air and the suffocating shadows around them?

Miyako and Kido had their turns; nothing abnormal happened. It was Minamino's turn now. She took the microphone in her hands, prepared the song and took a deep breath; it was her opportunity to show off one of her greatest talents. The music started. It was very slow at first, but begun to speed up after a while. She opened her mouth, and then…

It was as if the sun was turned off; or as if the night came and forgot to bring the moon and the stars with it. All the light was sucked away and replaced by a strange shadow. The music in the background was forgotten as none of the children were able to move; all of them now sharing the sensations that only Kazuki could feel before.

'What… is going on?'

'It… it hurts!'

'It is cold! I don't want to stay here!'

The shadows were suffocating. Kazuki could feel them moving about, dancing around him and his classmates like predators surrounding their prey before the kill. Each movement caused his chest to contract with pain, and his throat to tight as if there was no more oxygen in the air. He knew by looking at his classmates that he was not the only one feeling like this. The shadow's ballet continued, and soon Miyako and Kido's bodies dropped to the ground with a thud.

If later asked how he was able to see his friends amidst all the darkness, Kazuki would not know what to answer. Yet, he knew his eyes were not tricking him when he saw the contorted body of the Kitsune girl collapse, soon followed by her friend's. He and Minamino looked at each other then – it seemed she could also see in the darkness – and the girl started sobbing silently. Like him, she probably couldn't make a sound anymore.

Minamino knelt to the ground, her face covered in tears. Kazuki could only stare as she tried to get closer to her two friends, but her body refused to move further. Each failed attempt made her cry even more, until she couldn't do anything else.

The pain in Kazuki's chest only grew as he watched the happy-go-lucky girl melt in her tears, not capable to do anything about it. He wanted to do something; he needed to do something. Not so much for the girl – she was just an annoying classmate with a weird smile – but because he knew something else was coming. Jón's presence was stronger than ever, it was obvious he was close-by, even if he was not visible yet.

Yet.

Kazuki looked around, expecting to see his senpai any moment now. He tried hard to concentrate in his sinister presence, ignoring the shiver in the spine and the fear that always came when he did so. He soon found what he was looking for, but not in the way he was expecting: To the right, to the left; from behind, in front; from above, and from below… How was it possible that Jón Arnarsson was everywhere at the same time? Why was his presence spreading all around when he was still no-where to be found?

The tension grew higher. In the silent darkness Kazuki could actually hear his heart beating, marking the pace of his fast thoughts. Reason told him it was not possible for a person to be everywhere at once; he was probably over-reacting out of fear. But still… inside him he knew he was right. Reason could not explain the feeling; the dangerous certainty of his findings. By instinct he knew how to look for the senpai, and by instinct he knew he was not mistaken. It was also instinct that told him he was already seeing Jón Arnarsson, just not in the way he was used to.

Jón was the darkness. His presence was in the shadows because he was the shadows. There was no other way of putting it, as irrational as it was.

'Halló, Kazuki! It seems you finally figured me out. I was expecting you to find me sooner, though, I'm very disappointed…' Jón's voice echoed in the darkness, deeper and stronger than Kazuki remembered it being. The boy tried to reply, but he was still under the darkness' spell, unable to make a sound. 'For someone of your rank, I think you are pretty weak.'

"What is he talking about? What is going on here?"

'Easy, easy now, boy!' came the voice again, answering Kazuki's thoughts. 'I want to have some fun before I'm done with you. I certainly can't do that if you keep asking questions!'

"Who are you? What do you want with me? What is all that darkness?" Kazuki understood fast that his senpai was somehow able to read his thoughts. Once he knew how to communicate and was sure he was being heard, it was not hard to ask the questions he wanted answers for. The fear of his senpai was still there, but it was not the time to think about it. He knew that, if he let the fear dominate him, Jón would do whatever he wanted and he wouldn't be able to resist it. Fear urged him to get out of the darkness and run away from his senpai. If his legs were able to move he probably would do just that; but because that was not an option, pay attention to the fear was also out of question. So, Kazuki decided to confront Jón the best way he could, even if all the odds were against him. He was that sort of person: one who would not get desperate if things didn't go as planned. He would carefully analyse all options available and build something out of it, never giving in to despair.

'What did I say about asking questions? I'm not here to give answers; I'm here to take you with me!' Jón's voice was slightly more annoyed, but still very deep and imposing. Kazuki could almost picture his senpai sitting in a throne dressed as a king giving orders to the servants. He sounded just like that: a bossy king. Or rather, a scary bossy king.

"Take me where?" Kazuki kept asking questions in porpoise, trying to delay whatever plan his enemy had in mind. He felt the shadows around him tremble, like they were getting angrier.

'I won't answer you, I already said that. If no one told you about us yet, I have nothing to do with it!' Jón laughed, and the shadows laughed as well. The anger and laugh combined gave way a strange feeling that made Kazuki uncomfortable. 'Now, little brat, let the fun begun!'

At first, despite Jón's words, nothing happened. It was still dark all around, cold, and Kazuki couldn't move or speak much more than he did before. He was ready to think of it as a bluff when his body was thrown to the ground by an invisible force, making him land face-first in the hard dark ground. His nose was probably broken; he felt the pain immediately after making contact with the ground. It would be silly trying to get up or do anything else, if he could move he would have avoided the painful collision in the first place; so he remained still waiting for something else to happen.

The shadows were moving again, this time getting closer to him. They took Minamino, Miyako and Kido one by one, so that Kazuki was alone in total darkness. Something grabbed the boy's feet, and then his legs. The shadows were moving on him now, engulfing him little by little. If Kazuki could take a look at his body, he would see it disappearing at the touch of the shadows. When his entire lower-body was gone, Jón's laugh echoed once more, so loud the boy could feel it inside him as well. He begun to lose control of the fear as his mind was bombarded with thoughts of his body disappearing and the cold feeling that came with it. Jón felt the change, and was very satisfied with it:

'Wonderful, wonderful! What a show! Show me more of your fear, Kazuki! I need to feel it, I want to fell it! How does it feels when you are about to be eaten by my shadows? I want to know…'

Kazuki tried not to think of anything, he didn't want to give Jón what he wanted, after all. If he could fight by denying him this pleasure, he would do so. He was able to keep his mind blank for a few moments, but when the shadows got as high as his chest and the cold and the pain became too much to bear, there was nothing he could do. What the shadows had already taken felt numb and cold, as if buried in ice. They were up on his chest now, almost in the heart.

"Stop! Stop!"

'Trying to boss around with my shadows, boy? It is not something anyone can do! I control them; they will do whatever I want!' If Jón had a physical form inside the shadows, he would probably have a triumphant grin in his pale face, and his intense blue eyes would be shining dangerously.

"Stop!" was the only think Kazuki could think of. The shadows were not only cold, but painful as well, now that there was so little left of him. "Stop!" His head was about to explode, it hurt so much in contrast to the numbness of the rest of his body; his senses were all mixed up, confused by all the things happening to their body. "STOP!"

It did.

The pain was gone, the numbness was gone, and the darkness was gone. Kazuki opened his eyes – which he didn't remember closing – to find himself lying in the ground bellow the cherry tree, with the sun setting in the horizon and his classmates sitting down around him, looking at him with worried faces.

He could move freely now, so he got up from the ground and sat down, rubbing his nose. It didn't hurt, nor were there any signs that it had ever crashed against the ground. Minamino, Miyako and Kido approached him, the Kitsune girl speaking for all of them:

'Hey, Kazuki, are you ok? Is something wrong?'

Kazuki tried to think of something to say, but nothing came to mind. He was ready to think it all had been just a dream when he caught sight of his father sitting beside Minamino. He was not looking at his son, but to somewhere to their right, where the faintest trace of Jón's presence could still be felt heading away from them.

'Father? What are you doing here?' asked Kazuki, forgetting all about his classmates. Hiroshi turned to face his son, smiling slightly upon seen him. They both hadn't yet forgotten their last fight, so he was unsure of how close he could get to the boy.

'Are you ok now, Kazuki? Do you feel any pain? Or anything else that you shouldn't be feeling right now?' Even with the smile, Hiroshi sounded tense. It was not typical of him; the man was usually happy and carefree. He only made that face when he was really worried. The last time he made that face was when he told his son that they would be moving to Kyoto.

'What happened? Father, I was not dreaming, was I?' Unsure of that to say, Kazuki opted to ask more questions. He wasn't really sure if he was feeling pain; he was not even sure if he was feeling anything at all, apart from very tense heart-beats.

'Could you please excuse us? I need to talk to my son alone…' Hiroshi asked the other children, who politely stepped away. Kazuki waited until his father was ready to address him again. 'You were not dreaming, Kazuki. All the things you saw really happened.'

'What were they?' asked the boy again, feeling his father was not willing to tell him the whole story. He knew when Hiroshi wanted to hide things; he would not look in Kazuki's eyes, and his head would drop slightly so he could face his knees. He also controlled his voice to make it sound steady even when he was feeling all shaky inside.

'You were not dreaming, but your friends probably won't remember anything. You can't talk to them about it. Never.'

'What were they?' asked Kazuki again, in a lower tone. His father was ignoring his question, it was obvious. If he wanted an answer, he had to show his nastier side and hint on another fight. It usually worked, since his father was not a man who liked conflicts.

'Listen to me, Kazuki!' To the boy's surprise, instead of backing off Hiroshi grabbed one of his wrist and stared at him intensely. He was not angry as his tone might have suggested, but worried and sad. 'It is important that no-one should hear about this. Also, you have to stay away from that man, he is dangerous.' Hiroshi took a deep breath before resume talking. 'I would never forgive myself if I let something happen to you, Kazuki. If I had arrived one second later, you might have…'

'You… you saved me?' Kazuki's anger was forgotten as he looked in his father eyes to find his answer. Hiroshi didn't need to say anything for his son to understand. Kazuki looked at the hand holding his wrist and found there a small cut; looking up he saw that his shirt was tore in many places along the arm and there were many more cuts in there, with a few red stains in the torn fabric. Around his father's neck was a necklace he had never seen before: the pendent was circular, like a big old coin covered in oxidised stains. It had a hole in the middle from where the equally-old chain passed. At first sight there seemed to be nothing special about the necklace, but it was surrounded by a mysterious energy that intrigued the boy. 'What is it?' he asked, pointing to the thing.

'This?' the man asked back, taking the pendent in his free hand. 'Your mother gave it to me when you were born. She said it would protect you. I guess she was right.' Kazuki kept looking at the necklace, now even more intrigued. He knew very little about his mother; Hiroshi avoided talking about her if could help it. The only things he knew were that she was a foreigner and that she died shortly after he was born. He saw a picture of her when he was very little, but he couldn't remember much of it. It wasn't as if he missed his mother anyway, he couldn't miss something he had never had (his father didn't have any girlfriends as far as he could remember, either, so it had always been the two of them and eventually Aunt Asuka).

'Can you tell me what that thing was now?' When he lost interest in the necklace, Kazuki once again tried his luck with the old question. Hiroshi looked at his son and his hand let go of the pendant. He seemed really sad, forcing Kazuki to look away to avoid feeling remorse.

'I'm tired, Kazuki. I know you have many questions, but I'm not in the right mind to take them now. Later… some other day… I'll… I'll do whatever you want, but now…'

Hiroshi got up and turned away from his son. His gaze was lost, locked in a place far away in time and space. It had happened sometimes before, and Kazuki only vaguely wondered if he was remembering his mother then. It wasn't something that bothered him, so he let his father be when he was like that. He too got up and walked back to where his classmates were, leaving his father with his memories.


Miyako and Kido were apparently having another argument; they were both with their backs to each other and from time to time one of them whispered something and the other replied in an angry tone. Upon seen that, Kazuki went straight to Minamino, so he wouldn't have to face the arguing duo.

'Hi.' he said, just to be polite.

'Oh, hi, Kawazue-kun!' answered the girl, approaching him with her usual smile. Kazuki almost took a step back, but changed his mind in the last second; he didn't want the girl to think he was still having problems after all that just happened. 'So, how are you feeling? Your nose doesn't hurt anymore, does it?'

'What do you mean? My nose? How do you…' Kazuki glared at the girl, trying not to show how surprised he really was. Didn't his father just say that none of his friends remembered what happened in the dark? Then how did she know about his nose?

'I saw you falling back there, I was so scared… it was like getting lost in your bedroom at night and not being able to find the light switch, but much worse… I thought I was never going to get out of there, and when Miyako-san and Kido-kun fell I thought something really bad was happening, but I couldn't tell exactly what it was…'

'Hold on a sec, Minamino!' she did as she was asked, closing her mouth as soon as Kazuki ordered her to. 'Do you… remember what happened?'

'Of course I do! How could I not? Was it something I shouldn't remember?' she asked, a bit scared. Her smile faded a little and her eyes begun to water; her look somehow disturbed Kazuki, who had to look away to answer:

'No… no… it is just… I wasn't expecting you to…' was the best reply he managed to give, as he was too very much in the dark about this whole episode.

'Miyako-san and Kido-kun don't remember anything. I tried asking them about it, but they just looked at me like I was crazy or worse... I'm not crazy, am I?' she seemed very worried, her eyes were huge in her face, and her smile was completely gone. For someone who always felt uneasy around her, it was incredibly easy for Kazuki to feel pity towards the small girl. He smiled a little, trying to comfort her at least for now:

'No, you are not; at least I don't think so.'

'Thanks' Minamino's smile returned with full force, as did Kazuki's strange feeling about them. He was considering following his father back home when the girl spoke again: 'By the way, your father is awesome. He did some pretty cool stuff against that dark guy, it is a shame I couldn't really see all of it…'

'What did he do?' Kazuki changed his mind, choosing to ignore his brain's alerts about the little girl and her weird smile in order to listen to the things he knew Hiroshi was not telling him anytime soon.

'I don't know for sure, but I saw him standing in front of that guy holding something in his hands. Then he said some weird words; I think he was speaking in another language.' Minamino's eyes were wondering around, looking at nothing in particular as she recalled the things she had just seen. 'It was too dark to see much, like someone had switched the lights off… The dark guy said some weird stuff as well, but your father did something with the thing he was holding and the lights were suddenly on again! I felt so relieved! It was like waking up from a really bad nightmare!'

Kazuki was silent for a while, digesting all the things his classmate had just said. The only things he remembered where the shadows swallowing him, the cold and pain that came with it, and then he woke up in the park. He probably passed out right before his father appeared, missing all the "fight" – if it could be called that way – and whatever Hiroshi did to overpower Jón. Minamino had somehow resisted longer than him, even after he saw her being engulfed by the shadows as well. How did she manage to do that? Why wasn't she affected the same way he or his other classmates where? As he looked in the eyes of the smiling innocent girl, he couldn't really think of any plausible answers.


A/N: And cut!

Next chapter will be the last on "shadow lurking in the dark". Hopefully I'll update sooner than last time. There is nothing written yet, just a few scenes and dialogue playing in my mind.

Of course, more reviews means that I'll be more excited about this story, and update faster.

You know what to do now, don't you?

James Hiwatari