Soul Retrieval:

Chapter 9: Two in One

"You don't have to wait around for me," Emily told Akira. School had just ended for the day and she had to stay after to retake a test. Emily assumed that she had received a perfect score and that the teacher assumed that she had cheated.

Tanaka Akiko, the 12-year-old girl whose body she, Emily Sullivan, currently inhabited was a sickly girl who had missed a lot of school throughout her 6th grade year. Akiko's grades were notoriously known to be poor. On Emily's second day of "taking over" Akiko's body and living Akiko's life, she had taken a test that appeared to be some kind of a practice exam for the final. Because Emily was actually 19-years-old and a freshman at Ball State University, she found the test to be simple.

"I'll be going to the Takahashi temple when I'm finished, for Aiki-jutsu training," Emily informed Akiko's twin brother, Akira.

"What!?" Akira exclaimed in surprise.

Emily forgot that she didn't tell Akira about her plan for strengthening Akiko's body. Akiko was small and fragile looking for her age. She was the smallest in her grade and looked more like she was 9-years-old. Because of a serious accident that Akiko was involved in last year, Akiko lost a large portion of her soul. So much that Akiko should have actually died. The portion of her should that was lost was reborn as Emily Sullivan in a parallel universe where time flowed faster then it did here. A year after Akiko's accident, Emily had lived for 19 years in the parallel universe. According to the priest at the Takahashi temple the reason why Akiko is so weak was a result of her soul loss. None of the doctors could medically explain it. It was believed that since Emily had returned to Akiko's body that Akiko's soul would be complete again and she would become stronger.

However, Emily had other hopes and planned to have Akiko start learning Aiki-jutsu from Takahashi-san in order to build up her strength and stamina. Emily believed that she would then be able to return to her own body, in her universe. She didn't have much time, though, considering that a year passed in her universe within the matter of a few weeks here. Emily had been here for 4 days already.

"I have decided to take Aiki-jutsu lessons at the Takahashi temple," Emily told Akira matter-of-factly.

Akira looked like he might argue against it until Yukiko spoke up, "I think that is a great idea." Yukiko had been sitting at her desk listening and waiting for a decision to be made. Akira didn't look very happy to hear her opinion and narrowed his eyes at her.

"Just don't overexert yourself again, and call me if you need me to pick you up," Akira told Emily after a moment. He concluded that it wouldn't be a good idea to argue in front of Yukiko, who didn't know anything about Emily.

"We will begin the exam as soon as everyone leaves," the Teacher announced.

Since Akira and Yukiko were the only two left in the classroom, Yukiko took the hint and stood with her bag. "Well, I guess it's just us today," she told Akira in anticipation of their departure. Akira's reply was a heavy sigh as he gave Emily one last long look before turning to follow Yukiko out of the class.

Emily visibly shivered. She didn't know how to comprehend what had just happened. Though Akira hadn't spoken a single word, Emily somehow understood the message that he intended to convey through his look. He knew that she wouldn't call for his help, and it worried him.

"Don't you want Aki-chan to be back to the way she was before the accident?" Yukiko asked as she and Akira walked towards the bus stop.

For a moment Yukiko thought that he was ignoring her as he continued to walk in silence. Yukiko disliked how he had become throughout the year. He showed a lot of potential on the soccer team, but had to quit in order to help take care of his sisters. Yukiko tried hard not to blame Akiko for the way things had turned out, but it was her fault that Akira had to drop off of the team. The only reason that Yukiko had become manager of the soccer club was to be closer to him. Even though the three of them had grown up together, because their mothers were best friends, Akiko was always more important to him.

"I just worry that something bad will happen to her…," Akira finally responded once they arrived at the bus stop.

"Yeah, but there is a difference between brotherly concern and having a sister complex," Yukiko replied, unable to hide the disapproval in her voice.

"What do you expect, Yukiko?" Akira spun around on her to exclaim. "She is my twin, we have been together since before we were born!"

"All three of us have been together since we were born. We share the same birthday! Yet she's the only one you ever care about!" Yukiko struggled to control her body, which shook with frustration and the urge to cry. Their mothers did everything together, including getting married on the same day. Though they went to separate places on their honeymoon they had even became pregnant around the same time.

"What are you talking about?" Akira asked coolly with a raised eyebrow. He completely misunderstood her point. "Just because we share a birthday does not make you my sister. Even if we were all raised together, we are not related by blood."

Yukiko was taken back by his words. "T…that's not what I'm talking about," she stuttered. Didn't he understand anything? "I don't want to be your sister!" She exclaimed, unable to hold back her tears. When the bus pulled up to the stop she rushed past him to board the bus and find a seat beside someone else, leaving him to stare after her in confusion.

Meanwhile Emily was given an hour to complete the test. She was finished within 15 minutes. The teacher, who had been hovering around her desk the whole time, was astonished when she handed him the test. "I'll be late for Aiki-jutsu," she told him with a bow and grabbed her book bag to leave. Emily was sure that he had been checking her answers as she completed them. The retake exam was different from the original, so there wasn't any way that she could have memorized the answers. Emily was confident that she had scored perfect on the test and could hardly contain her laughter at the teacher's reaction.

Within 10 minutes Emily arrived at the Takahashi Temple and took her time to climb the long stone stairway. Upon reaching the top and locating the priest in the training hall Emily bowed her apology for being late. She was given a hakama to change into, which was a bit large, but the smallest one they had available. Then they began her training with a few simple stretches and meditations before she was turned over to Takahashi Yuuto's care, who led her in some basic kata training.

"How are you feeling? Do you need a break?" Yuuto asked after only 10 minutes of training.

"I'm fine, Senpi, lets continue," Emily answered.

"You don't have to call me Senpi," Yuuto said with a frown while he absentmindedly worked through the basic form that Emily was learning.

"Gomen ne, sorry, Takahashi-kun," she replied while she concentrated on duplicating the form that he was showing her.

Emily looked up in time to see him cringe. She assumed it was because she had done the form wrong. "Sorry," she apologized and attempted the form again.

"Your form is fine," Yuuto told her. "I just never expected that I would ever hear you call me that. We're old friends after all," he explained.

Emily tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. "I just assumed, since that's what Akira calls you," she stopped working on the form to say.

"Did he instruct you to call me that?" Yuuto asked.

"No…," Emily replied. She wondered what the big deal was. She couldn't read his expression. Was he angry? She couldn't tell.

"Then please don't call me that," Yuuto told her calmly.

"O…kay…," Emily stated. She wondered what it was that he wanted her to call him? Yuuto-sama? Emily didn't understand that she was being too formal. 13-year-old boys were so strange, she concluded and went back to practicing her form. Emily could feel his eyes watching her, it sent a shiver up her spine.

After another five minutes of practicing the kata Akiko was beginning to tire, but Emily was determined to continue. When she stumbled Yuuto caught her arm to steady her. "That's enough for today," he instructed.

"I can continue," Emily protested, pulling her arm away, but she wobbled when she returned to her stance.

"You are overexerting yourself," Yuuto observed and picked her up to forcefully remove her from the training hall. "You are going to be sore tomorrow," he warned.

Emily hated to surrender to weakness, but couldn't deny that she could barely move Akiko's body now that Yuuto was carrying her. She suddenly wondered if he wanted her to call him Yuuto-kun. Emily started to wonder if there was something between Yuuto and Akiko besides friendship. Surely it wasn't customary to carry students around if they exhausted themselves. "Yuuto-kun," she spoke his name when he set her down in the room at the main hall where she had tea with the Priest the last couple of times she had been there. The Priest wasn't currently there.

"What is it?" Yuuto asked with a smile, obviously pleased with what she had called him.

Emily shook out of her thoughts, unaware that she had spoken his name out loud. "What?" She asked in confusion.

"You said my name," he explained.

Emily stared at him blankly and had no idea what she was going to say. She suddenly felt awkward, though she didn't understand why. After all, he was just a kid. Yet, in Akiko's body, so was she. Was Akiko herself breaking through Emily's conscious? Emily shook her head again. Maybe this was a sign that Akiko was becoming stronger and that Emily would soon return to her body. "Nan demo nai, It's nothing," Emily said with a smile. Her plan seemed to be working. "I'm just a little tired," she explained as an excuse.

"Then why don't you change out of your hamaka and I'll take you home," he said and prepared to leave the room.

Emily then changed back into Akiko's school uniform, making a mental note to bring an extra change of clothes next time. She had been informed to keep the hamaka, which she packed neatly into her bag. When Emily exited the room she found Yuuto waiting for her. He had changed out of his own hamaka and was wearing a pair of jeans with a button down white shirt untucked with the top two buttons undone. Emily blamed the blush that crept into her cheeks on being tired, which seemed to be allowing Akiko's own personality to come through again.

Yuuto escorted Akiko home and was relieved that he had decided to do so because Emily dozed off with her head against the window during the 10-minute trip downtown, where they needed to switch to another bus. Emily dozed off again on the second bus. Yuuto woke her at her stop and led her off of the bus and down the street to the Tanaka residence.

"Arigato, thank you, Yuuto-kun," Akiko told him when they reached her doorstep. Akiko then pushed herself up on her toes to kiss his cheek before disappearing into her house.

Author Note: Things are starting to get interesting! I had a lot of fun writing this chapter. I have to thank my S.O. for his background knowledge about Aiki-Jutsu.

Chapter 10 should be a lot of fun to write after an ending like this. ^_^ Humm, I wonder whether or not Akira was watching and what he would do? Poor Yuuto, I've left him in an awkward position. *Giggles* But I don't think he would complain!

If you would like to see some giftart that was drawn for me of Akiko & Akira, please check out the link in my profile to my DeviantArt account.

I hope to see you again in chapter 10. Thanks for reading! ^_^