"Right and wrong are not what separate us from our enemies. It's our different standpoints, our perspectives that separate us. Both sides blame one another. There's no good or bad side. Just two sides holding different views."

-Squall Leonheart


For the rest of the week, Suzume was more than a little disoriented. He went about his daily routine with a kind of haze over his actions, the thought of coming so close to dying making everything he did seem like some sort of miracle. Valon, of course, did not act any different than usual, and went about carefree and full of giddy hilarity as usual.

"We lived for a reason I guess, Suz," Valon told him offhandedly. "So it's better not to think about it. Maybe it's better to go on with our lives, eh?"

But Suzume couldn't just go on with his life. He was changed, altered so much by the experience that it shook him to his very core. He couldn't get the thought of the mysterious voice on the telephone out of his mind, and it startled him. Nothing had ever affected him so much, and he found his mind straying to the subject during classes, neglecting the lesson more than he would have usually dared. He kept trying to put a face to the voice, imagining what a man with such an elegant and yet rudely businesslike voice would look like. Would he be short or tall? Thin or fat? Old or young? Endless possibilities filled him at the thought of the mystery that his subconscious yearned to solve.

"Are you listening, Aburami?" the stern voice of Mr. Pemberton cut through his thoughts and jolted him back into the real world.

"Y-yes, sir," he stammered, hoping the innocent look on his face was convincing. Mr. Pemberton did not look persuaded.

"Hmm. Very well then, Aburami. I suppose you wouldn't mind coming up to the board and explaining Eden's earliest water supply system, then?" the teacher's golden eyes bored into him, though Suzume was not intimidated. He silently breathed a sigh of relief at the fact that this was history class, a subject he knew very well. If he was in Arithmetic things would be quite different. He rose from his chair and moved to the front of the room, to the large, flat transparent screen that hovered several feet above the floor.

"Well, the earliest irrigation system in Eden was developed in 3019. It consisted of a series of underground aqueducts that covered most of the space beneath the city," he put his finger against the surface of the glass board the drew a small diagram of an aerial view of the aqueducts with it, his finger leaving behind a glowing neon green trail wherever he touched. "The main water source was an underground supply harnessed right here, at the center of the city. Six main arms branched out from the center point, and from that each arm branched into three smaller ones after two miles," he finished and moved back to his seat, filled with relief.

"Thank you very much for that, Aburami," Pemberton said with a proud smile at his student before stepping to the board himself. "He is quite accurate. The system Aburami described was abandoned in 3023 in favor of our current system, which consists of glass tubes roughly six inches wide which branch out two feet under the ground and are added to as needed. The old aqueducts are still underground, though they have been sealed off for centuries…"

As Suzume struggled to keep his mind on the lesson, suddenly a telltale vibrating buzzed against his leg. Who would be calling me at school? He ignored it effectively until it stopped… that is until ten minutes later when it began to buzz again and didn't cease. Dammit.

"Can I be excused?" Suzume asked, raising his hand. "I need to use the restroom."

"Certainly. Just be sure to grab the pass," Pemberton said before going back to his lecture. Suzume snatched up the pass on his way out of the room and hurried into the bathroom, where he slid into a stall and pulled out his still buzzing phone. The number read "restricted", and his stomach gave a tiny leap of something akin to excitement as he flipped it open.

"Hello?"

"Suzume Aburami," said that telltale voice through the earpiece. "I see you took my advice and are alive and well."

"Yeah," Suzume told him, nodding before he remembered he couldn't be seen. "I… thank you."

"There is no need to thank me," the methodical voice told him, still just as elegant and polished as it had been the evening before. "All I ask is a simple favor in return, which I assume isn't too terribly rude of me to ask."

"What is it?" Suzume asked warily, glancing around the bathroom stall. If he was caught on his phone during school hours, he didn't even want to think about what would happen to him. The thought was far too unpleasant.

"Then you'll do it. Excellent. I will contact you later with further information."

"Wait, I still don't even know your name!"

Click.

XXX

The mysterious voice contacted him again the evening when he and Lolie were doing their homework. When he felt the telltale buzz against his thigh and saw the word "restricted" on the phone's screen, he pounced on the little device with such fervor that Lolie looked worried.

"Are you going to be okay, Suzume?" she asked him, giving him a face of sisterly concern, her pencil paused above a Biology assignment.

"Yeah, I'm fine! I've just been waiting for a call, that's all," he told her with the cheeriest smile he could muster as he got up out of his chair. "Be back in a few minutes, 'kay?"

"Okay…" Lolie said, biting her lip as Suzume hurried into his room and closed the door securely behind him. Leaning up against it, he flipped his phone open and held it eagerly to his ear.

"Hello?"

"Suzume Aburami," the voice said in what was by now a customary greeting. "You are still willing to do the favor I asked of your earlier?"

"It depends on what it is," Suzume answered tactfully, keeping his wits about him.

"If you look underneath your bed you will find a bag with the necessary supplies," the voice drawled. Suzume crawled on his hands and knees under the edge of the bed and found a black paper sack. Upon seeing its contents, he frowned slightly.

"What's all this for?"

"Before I tell you about what I want you to do, I need you to assure me with complete certainty that you will do as I tell you. Do you understand?"

"I guess so," Suzume told the voice with an unseen shrug. "You did save my life. So yes, I'll do what you ask."

"Thank you. You will not regret your decision. Now, if you listen very closely, I will tell exactly what you need to do…"


Uh-oh! Suzume's getting in pretty deep. I'll try to update soon.

And don't worry, the boring bit about the aqueducts will actually have some significance when we get farther into the story. Feel free to leave criticism. Reviews very motivational to me.