Nope, I have no excuses for my late update. Sorry.
"What is this place?"
Rokuro looked around the area. It was warm, it was quiet, and he was pretty sure the body of water below him was some kind of ocean. That was the extent of his knowledge. That, and he knew for a fact that he wasn't anywhere in Mahokkai due to the lack of magic energy flowing around. So that meant this was Earth. But where-?
The familiar female voice made his head turn left. Running towards him was an orange head of hair he knew all too well. Instead of her normal wear, however, she was clad in a pure white dress that feathered out at her knees.
He was too busy admiring the image in front of him to realize that she'd somehow wound up in his arms.
"Rokuro-kun, I'm sorry," she apologized. It was rather cute. "Did you wait long?"
Something compelled Rokuro to reply in a manner very unlike his own self. "Don't worry yourself over it, Akemi. Waiting is entirely worth meeting with you."
That was where things started to weird him out. What the hell!? Those are not my words! He barely recognized his own voice. I mean, I would never say things like that! Never! Especially not to-!
He lost most of his train of thought when he unexpectedly wrapped his arms around her. A million bells and whistles went off in his head, as if warning him of danger. No, wait- What the hell is going on here!? I did not want to do that!
"Rokuro-kun…" Oh, god. He really didn't like the way she said his name. It sounded… so… needy.
Suddenly, he was staring at the scene from a third person point of view. This only made it more horrifying for him. Rokuro saw his hand reach up and caress her cheek.
He hated the way his voice sounded. He hated the way it didn't sound like him. But he hated even more the fact that they were apparently trying to close the distance between them.
He may not have been the brightest firefly in the bunch, but even Rokuro knew when two people were about to kiss.
His dream didn't get to finish, for which he would later thank the heavens. Rokuro was awake and sweating profusely before he knew it.
He propped himself up on his forearms – Having been lying on his front – And took a moment to catch his lost breath. As he collected his thoughts, he tried to sort out the questions he had.
What was that?
He felt his forehead, and then the back of his neck. His hand practically drowned from the perspiration. Rokuro mentally chastised himself. Had he been that scared of a dream? Even more embarrassing, he'd been scared of a dream about…
He didn't even want to think about it. He wanted that memory suppressed, and he wanted it suppressed now. Gods, when the hell did I become such a… such a… pervert? It didn't feel good to think that Shigeru might be right. It was nauseating; or maybe that was just the petrified feeling that was still sitting in his gut.
Really, he'd been having these sorts of weird dreams for a few days now; however, this was the first time it'd escalated to that.
Sighing, Rokuro slid back underneath the covers of the futon. It was still very dark outside, and bring deprived of sleep would do him little good. It was unfortunate that he couldn't knock himself out any earlier than about five in the morning.
He didn't sleep for half an hour before Maruchi woke the wizard up with a sharp kick to his side. Rokuro moaned inwardly. Oh, hell no. I am not in the mood for an early morning training session. Not today, kitty boy. Not. Today.
"Rokuro, get your ass up," he heard the majikyou grunt. Rokuro said nothing. He didn't want to. Frankly, he was too tired to care. He just wanted some damn sleep! Then again, maybe I should blame my own subconscious for not letting me close my eyes without some strange fantasy popping up in his head.
"Are you deaf, boy? Get. Up." Rokuro's response was to dig himself even deeper beneath the covers. This was the wrong reaction apparently, since Maruchi decided to suddenly rip the futon out from underneath him with all his might.
The force of the pull sent him rolling for a second or two until he hit the wall parallel to where the futon had previously been. Rokuro growled. He was so not in the mood for Maruchi's bullshit. He yanked the covers over himself and did what he liked to call his perfect imitation of a rock.
His philosophy: Sleep first, food next, training later. Words to live by.
Although… Maybe he could ask Maruchi about his dreams? It was possible the majikyou knew why his brain was showing him such things in his sleep.
"Are you disobeying me, Rokuro?" Oh, no. Rokuro knew that voice. That was his saccharine tone he used when he was starting to get pissed off. "Or perhaps you're just challenging me to see what it takes for me to get you up." Nonononono. He was not challenging him. That was the last thing he wanted to do. "I suppose I could go dump you off somewhere, maybe the mountains. And maybe I'll select an area where a lot of you-know-whats live-"
"I'm up!" Rokuro unraveled the covers and sprung to his feet. Maruchi smirked.
"There, not so difficult. Right?" Rokuro groaned in response, hitting his head against the wall.
"Ugh. I'm too tired to hate you right now… And no wonder," he muttered, gazing through the window. "What time is it? It doesn't even look like morning yet."
"Does it matter what time it is?" Maruchi folded his arms. "Training is training, and today I'm going to be teaching you something new."
"Yes. We're putting physical exercises aside for the time being so I can show you a different form of magic. As my body is nearly back to its original form, I have more energy to work with and can thus introduce you to new things."
Rokuro felt some of his drowsiness wear off. It'd been a long time since Maruchi had taught him a technique. Usually he trained him to perfect what he already knew – Magic or otherwise. They'd focused on his martial arts skills for the longest time. It was good to know his training wasn't just going in circles.
"So… Care to give me a hint as to what we're doing?"
"I can tell you straight out. You'll be learning one of my own techniques."
"One of your techniques…?" Rokuro echoed in awe. Any thoughts of his dreams faded quickly at the announcement.
As a majikyou, Maruchi was supposed to teach him about magic and how to use it; as per the rules of holding position as a majikyou, however, he was also supposed to keep most of his abilities guarded and to himself. Plus, as much as the wizard liked to say otherwise, Maruchi was strong – As evidenced by their sparring sessions in which the cat-eared man always came out unscathed. He hadn't seen much so far, but Rokuro was sure anything Maruchi had in his arsenal would be incredible. "Which… Which one? What are you going to show me?"
"That depends on you," Maruchi said flatly. "Or rather, it depends on how well and for how long you can keep your concentration up. If you want to have even a chance of using my magic, meditation is the heaviest key you need to turn."
Rokuro groaned. He hated meditating. He hated sitting on his ass doing nothing when he could be fighting. If he wanted to rest, then fine; but when he was supposed to be doing legitimate training?
"Yeah, no," he grunted. "I'll stick with getting my ass kicked in a physical battle."
Maruchi's prompt response was to send him flying through the window via a very strong kick.
"Idiot!" the male feline snapped loudly. "Do you think I've forgotten that by remaining in this cursed dimension, you're missing all of your examination days!? When you get back to Chinoiri, I want you to be prepared to go through several tests straight away. I don't like it when you're behind everyone else, and you shouldn't either!"
"I'm never that behind," Rokuro grunted, pushing himself up from the ground. "I'm usually ranked in the top fifty at least."
"There are seventy people in your class, numbskull."
"… … …" Maruchi pinched the bridge of his nose. "Shut up and get into your first meditative stance."
"Fine, fine…" Rokuro rolled his eyes at the quick dismissal, but quietly spread his legs and bent his knees. "The healing one is first, right?" At his mentor's glare, he quickly added, "I'm just checking; you know, so you don't hit me again."
"Yes, it's the healing one," Maruchi groaned exasperatedly. "The fourth position: Kujikiri no Sha."
"Right, right…" Rokuro folded his hands and intertwined his fingers, attempting to remember the pattern needed. Index and ring touching… Middle out and crossed… Others straight…
That was all he could do before meeting with distraction. With the first breath he took, his minute concentration was lost to the night before and half the reason he'd agreed to get up.
Oh, god. This wasn't going to leave him alone, was it?
"Uhh… Maruchi?" Rokuro began meekly. If he wanted to get any work done, he needed this off his chest first. "I need to talk to you about somethi- Ow!" Rokuro immediately threw both hands over his head for a makeshift helmet, in case Maruchi wasn't done. "Why'd you hit me!?"
"Stop getting distracted! And don't break your stance!"
"Do you want to learn new magic or not!?"
"Well… Yeah, but- Oww! Fine!" Rokuro muttered something incoherent to himself as he repositioned himself. His head might've been protected, but his side sure as hell wasn't. "Why are you on my case so much today, anyway?"
"I'm always like this," Maruchi replied flatly. Rokuro gave a dry laugh.
"Haha, way to be blunt. No, seriously though; you're way more uptight today than you usually are. You get a bad night's sleep, or something?"
"…" Maruchi folded his arms. "You could say that."
"You must be awfully cold lying out on the roof by yourself."
Maruchi opened one eye cautiously. The light of the moon was being blocked by a head of green and pink. With such an odd coloring and svelte body, it wasn't hard to figure out who his nighttime visitor was.
"Shichi… What are you doing here?"
"Keeping you company, onii-sama," Shichi purred. Maruchi growled. Shichi's normal high pitch was overlaid with another voice. A very distinct, taunting, female voice. The majikyou pushed himself up, resting one arm along his knee.
"You'd better have a damn good reason for using my brother's body to speak to me."
"I'm in the middle of researching and I cannot leave my lair."
"It's so important that you'd rather incense me than remove yourself from that stone cage?"
"As much as it may surprise you, Maru, you're not my top priority in life. I had a different reason for choosing this wretched dimension as Shichi's training ground. Learning you were here was just a bonus." Maruchi scoffed.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Now what do you want? Contrary to popular belief, I do require sleep." Sandra chuckled.
"The White Tiger of the West needing sleep… Yes, I suppose one would find that hard to swallow." Maruchi's expression darkened at the nickname.
"Explain why you're here, or leave… Preferably before I have to make you."
"You would risk injuring your precious little brother's body just to avoid speaking with me? What a cruel feline you are."
"… … …" Maruchi groaned. "So that's why you're using him to relay…"
"Perhaps. Now, about why I really want to speak with you…" 'Shichi' hovered over and took a seat next to Maruchi. "That boy… The one who doesn't like wearing a shirt. What is his name again?"
"My student's name is Rokuro," Maruchi said evenly. "And in his defense, you did attack him while he was sleeping."
"Hnn, fair enough point. Anyway…" A grin crossed the possessed boy's face. "For someone being trained by you, I couldn't sense much energy coming off of him… How many examinations has he gone through?"
"Not enough," Maruchi grimaced. "He's a decent fighter, but…" The majikyou paused. "… I'm sure you can guess."
"I saw his eyes," Sandra spoke. "It's not as if his condition is a secret. Which brings me to my point; are you aware that two advancement examination dates have passed in Mahokkai?" Maruchi's ears perked.
"I was aware that one had passed…" he admitted in a low tone. "Not too long ago, just before I returned to normal… His spirit separated from his body while he was asleep. I knew that was a sign, but I didn't realize that another exam date has come as well…"
"The remedial is coming up, Maru," Sandra continued. "He'll be completely separated from himself and sent to the inner dimension to train. There's nothing you can do about that."
"He can make it past," Maruchi insisted. As an afterthought, he added, "Probably."
"Probably isn't good enough. You have to make sure he can trounce anything that stands in his way by the time the remedial comes up. Or else."
"Why do you even care?"
"If he's found to be residing in the human's dimension, not only will he lose his life, but you'll lose what freedom you've been allowed. Plus, there will inevitably be investigators sent here to see if there are any other unauthorized stragglers. I can't have that." Maruchi raised a brow.
"You never got legal permission to train Shichi here, did you? You brought him to the first dimension in secret?"
"I thought he might get a kick out of scaring the locals… and I was right."
"As if I don't know you have your own selfish reason for coming here; and I'll bet anything that it has to do with whatever 'research' you're currently conducting. Cut the crap, Sandra."
"Clever bastard." Sandra huffed and stood up. "I've made my point, Maru, and I'm warning you. If your student's incompetence is the reason I'm found here, I'll sever both your heads before the legal systems of the second and fourth dimensions can even try."
With her message delivered, Sandra took her student's body and flew off.
Sandra wasn't much of a threat to him. As a fellow Varakyuan, her level of magic is measured in the same way his is; and last time he checked, he was at least thirty points above her. However – As much as Maruchi loathed admitting it – The redhead did give a fair argument.
Remedial tests were no joke, and neither were the locations they were held in or the examiners themselves; not only that, but they were unavoidable as well. With two exams missed, Rokuro would undoubtedly be forced to take it. If they wanted to have any chance of keeping their current whereabouts a secret, he'd have to be able to top the rest of those in the test.
"Wanna tell me why you look so serious all of a sudden?"
Now if only the idiot would learn how to pay attention to training properly, they'd be getting somewhere.
Maruchi snorted. "What are you, a therapist? Shut up and concentrate on meditating."
"But-" Maruchi raised his hand quickly as if to smack him again. The wizard tensed. "Alright…" Rokuro scoffed and positioned his legs and hands accordingly. "Friggin' grumpy cat…"
"I'll take that as a compliment." Maruchi sifted through his sleeves and fetched some talismans silently. As he spoke, they flew from his hand and spread out around the pair in a circle. "When you've achieved a balanced state, I want you to attempt to destroy each of these one-by-one with as little energy output as possible. You aren't to move from that position, either."
"Aw, come on!" Rokuro grumbled. "Why can't I just hit them all at once? You know I can do it!"
"I also know that that would be too simple a task for someone like you, who doesn't know how to limit what magic surfaces in an attack," Maruchi snapped. "You're a teenager. I expected you to have your magic and incidmio straightened out by now, after living with it your whole life."
"You try keeping up with a magic level that changes daily…" Rokuro muttered darkly. "It's not easy when you don't know limits and can't keep your magic under control. I'm surprised I haven't caused any property damage around here yet!"
"You can thank your lazy nature and lack of daily training for that. Now, get back to meditating so you can focus on destroying these talismans with your magic level low and stable."
"Don't call me that."
Instead of her alarm waking her up that morning, it was the familiar sound of yelling mixed with the unfamiliar of branches snapping. Grumbling slurred obscenities, Akemi tiredly pulled herself up and looked over the adjacent window's ledge. The scene of Rokuro and Maruchi arguing with each other was nothing new. The fallen tree, on the other hand, was something she didn't see often.
The yelling was muffled, but she could vaguely make out what the student and teacher were saying.
"… No, no, no! Your aim is completely off! And why are you still using so much power for one little talisman!?"
"Because I can't do anything else! I hate having to concentrate my magic! Also, I consider toppling a tree more impressive than burning a stupid piece of paper!"
"You weren't supposed to be aiming for the fucking tree!"
"Fine! My aim sucks! Deal with it, Kitten Man!"
"After I deal with your damn disrespectful mouth!"
The words stopped, but the sound of bruising was very clear.
Akemi wanted to crawl back under the covers and sleep. Dealing with those two so early in the morning wasn't a priority of hers. However, the digital digits on her clock were telling her it was time to get up. Seven-fifteen was earlier than normal for her, but overall it was better than being late for the umpteenth time.
The orange-head shoved the covers back and stood up. Time to greet the day and hopefully put a stop to her houseguests' morning brawl.
Their arguments weren't usually this bad and short-tempered. Maruchi knew that for a fact. He also knew that the day's unusual factors – The extreme early morning time placement, Sandra's late night visit putting him in a bad mood, and some unsaid distraction – Were partially responsible for their hostility. It had been a rather bad decision to kick Rokuro out of bed before the sun rose, knowing his pupil's weakness for waking up in the morning; but that was just something else the wizard would have to get used to. Something he should've already been used to.
Still, Maruchi wasn't too sure how Rokuro's aim had been bad enough to take down the nearby trees. He was either dead tired and unable to concentrate, or heavily distracted and unable to concentrate. The chances of either being correct were fifty-fifty.
The majikyou ducked below an incoming punch, and leaned forward. He quickly nailed Rokuro in the gut with his knee. Instead of the boy falling over as he'd imagined, he latched onto the Varakyuan's arm and pushed himself upward. He swung his leg back and attempted a kick, only to have his foot caught and blocked by Maruchi's faster hand. Before Rokuro could shake free, he was thrown to the nearest tree. The force snapped it at its trunk, severing it much like the other from earlier. Maruchi folded his arms under his cloak.
"A thought just entered my mind, Rokuro," the violet-haired man said tauntingly. "I've realized that you haven't been able to pin a direct hit on me since my original form was restored."
"Maybe it's because you won't stand still long enough for me to hit you!" Rokuro snapped angrily. He launched himself at his teacher again, not at all deterred by the fact that he'd been thrown hard enough to fell a tree. Maruchi held himself up with his arms ready to block anything the wizard could throw at him.
"What in the name of the nine layers of Hell are you two doing?"
The battle instantly stopped with Akemi's interruption. Rokuro tripped and fell as he was running, leaving Maruchi to grumble at his student's undignified manner. Akemi did a once-over of the yard and sighed.
"Would it kill you two to not be destructive this time?" she moaned. "I know this isn't exactly a proper area for your training, or whatever… But come on. Really? You're taking down trees and it's barely eight-o'-clock!"
"If the imbecile could meditate properly there wouldn't be any property damage at all," Maruchi grunted bluntly.
"Hey! I resent that!" Rokuro sprung from his place on the ground and poked his mentor in the chest. "I've been telling you all morning that I had something I needed to talk to you about – And that getting up before sunrise is a terrible idea – But you're constantly telling me to keep working!"
"Well, that's generally how you get better at things, Rokuro-kun," Akemi said. "I'm pretty sure you just don't handle distractions well." Rokuro froze at the orange-head's voice. For a small moment he'd forgotten she was watching them.
His pleasant nightmares popped back into his head without warning, making his body shiver at the thought. Oh, no. He was not going to think of those in broad daylight – Especially with the subject of his dreams standing right in front of him. Instead, he took a step away from Maruchi and straightened himself out, waving timidly at his hostess.
"Aaaahahaha… Hi, Akemi…" he greeted her with a nervous smile. "I, uh… We… didn't wake you up or anything… did we?"
"Yeah, sort of, seeing as I'm already dressed," Akemi replied curtly, gesturing to her uniformed attire. "Though I guess it's okay, since I probably would've woken up later without the fighting going on." Rokuro laughed anxiously as he played with his thumbs.
"Ah, right. That's good. Err… I mean, it's not good that we woke you up, yeah, but uhh… It's good that you won't be late, right?" Akemi blinked, eyeing the wizard with guarded suspicion.
"Rokuro-kun, are you… feeling okay?" she asked carefully. "You seem more off than you usually are."
"Me?" Rokuro repeated, his voice an octave higher than he was comfortable with. "Off? No, I'm fine! I'm perfectly okay, you know! Never felt better! Hahaha…" There was a minute of Akemi trying to make eye contact with Rokuro, with the wizard's equal attempts at avoiding it. Soon, the orange-head tired of it and sighed heavily.
"Alright, I think I'm gonna head to school early today…" she muttered. "Maruchi-kun, I think it'd be better not to wake him up early anymore. He's acting weirder than normal."
"No promises," the majikyou snorted.
When the girl was out of sight and out of range, Maruchi thwacked Rokuro over the head as hard as he could. The unprepared wizard clutched his skull in pain.
"OWW!" Rokuro seethed. Without removing his hands from his head, he continued to yell. "Why!? Just why!? Do you enjoy hitting me!? What is wrong with you today!?"
"Me!? I should very well be asking you the same thing!" Maruchi bellowed lividly. "What was that just now!? Why were you acting like some nervous lost puppy!?"
"I-! … … I…" Rokuro lost his fire as he recalled his dream. The red anger on his face swiftly turned into a lush shade of pink embarrassment. "It's… … I can't sleep."
"You can't sleep?" Maruchi repeated incredulously. "That's your issue? God damn, you're more pathetic than I thought."
"It isn't my fault!" Rokuro protested. "I've been having some really weird dreams lately, okay!? You try sleeping when your subconscious wants to send you images of you kissing a girl!" Maruchi stared at him flatly.
"I will not be the first to admit that I would rather enjoy such a fantasy, if there was such a woman in this world to fantasize about," he answered evenly. "Most men would."
"Yeah, well, good for you…" Rokuro grumbled. "Guess I'm the exception to the rule…" A single violet eyebrow rose as pieces began fitting together.
"Are you seriously telling me that the reason you can't sleep is because you're having wet dreams about the human girl?"
"Why would I be wet?" Rokuro asked confusedly. "The futon's dry."
There was an audible smack when Maruchi's palm made contact with his forehead.
"Rokuro, do me a favor and go call that idiot friend of yours," the majikyou grumbled. "Just this once, I'm going to encourage you to talk to him when you're supposed to be training."
"Because in order for you to concentrate fully and get your mind to your training, you first need this explained to you… And I'm certainly not going to be the one getting a headache from doing it."
Oh, dear. Our poor boy is too naive for his own good.