This is the story of a girl. And while she didn’t cry a river and drown the whole world, she definitely grew up alone and scared. I’m looking at that girl who huddled into a corner the minute I entered the brightly lit room. I see the small roman numeral tattoo on the inside of a thin, pale wrist of XV and I know that I’ve found who I’m looking for. I’m looking for a little girl with rust coloured hair in a dirty orphan’s smock. If these rumours are true, the little waif of a child in front of me has a special talent.
They had failed.
They couldn’t stop him and it took everything they had to escape that crumbling, floating continent with their lives in tact. The collective heart of the group was heavy with the gloom that they hadn’t achieved their goal. With the exception of Setzer, the group watched with varying degrees of despair and horror as everything they had fought to protect fell apart. Locke and Celes in particular were staring at the ground thousand of feet below them as the power of the Warring Triad wrecked havoc, their hair blowing into their eyes.
Three – Phoenix Ikki and Smoker
Before I ever met Yuri and Flynn and everyone else in Crystallis, there was a village inside a barrier known as Luceti. I was trapped inside a barrier in this place for three years of my reversed life. Everyone who lived there were brought in to be experimented on by an organization known as the Malnosso. We were given wings and barcodes on the backs of our necks.
Two – Yuri and Flynn to an Extent
I highly doubt that you’ll ever find two people more drastically different than Yuri and Flynn. I met them both during my time in Crystallis. We woke up one day in a research facility where we were destined to be a crackpot by the name of Kalki’s guinea pigs. Let’s just say that a lot of us weren’t going to have that. I woke up in the research facility with Zell by my side, with white crystals in our possession and moogle partners to help us during our journey.
One – The End is in the Beginning
I made a promise to some dear friends in a place called Aqures Ixen. I promised to never forget them and that I would write about them. Well, while I’m not equipped with a Guardian Force and of a non foggy mind, I’m going to do exactly that! But I guess I have to start at the end of one major life event and rewind back to the end of another. It’s… gonna be a bit a weird.
There was a first time for everything.
A first step with eyes unclouded by a slave crown. The sensation of feeling cold. The sensation of her world growing a fraction larger. They weren’t unpleasant sensations but firsts all the same. To a young woman who had spent years under the control of people who thought she was nothing more than a tool, seeing her breath mist white in the wintry air left Terra enthralled with wonder.
Her companions watched her look at the flakes of snow falling gently, eyes alight with the pleasure of a simple beauty with kind looks on their faces. It belied the image of a warrior as they walked with purpose through the snowfields towards their next destination. The layers of grime on their bodies had layers of grime. Edgar and Bannon were discussing strategy for the upcoming negotiations. Snow was blowing in every direction, weaving an intricate dance pattern in the frigid air.
It left Locke to keep an eye on the girl. She had marched hesitantly through the snowfields of Narshe in the beginning before the snow had caught her eye and left her awestruck. Their cloaks whipped around their feet as a warm smile broached Terra’s face. Her hand didn’t stray far from the sword belted at her hip in case of any danger but still, there was an innocence in her reaction that left the treasure hunter and the others soon afterwards thinking wistfully of simpler times.
The snow may have gone on for countless miles with no end in sight, but the innocent joy from one who’d forgotten what those feelings were like was enough to melt the heart of even the mightiest of foes.
Note: I had many requests for a continuation of Awakening that I wrote late last year. This version is not beta’d so if there’s any errors, please let me know! Thanks for reading!
It was a new day for Kirito. The feeling of being awake and not in a game of death was still surreal to him as he woke more easily than the previous day. He stared at his shaking hands and quickly glanced to his left and sighed in defeat. The concept of reality was foreign to him after being online for two years straight and he’d been hoping that Asuna would be beside him, smiling sweetly. All he found was the metal railing of the hospital bed and the baggy fabric of the hospital issued gown. He struggled to sit up before he saw movement out of the corner of his eye.
“Kirigaya-kun, let me help you,” his nurse offered as an arm wrapped around his shoulders and guided him up the rest of the way. An oversized pillow was propped behind his body that he sank into gratefully despite the frustration that he felt.
His third day awake after Sword Art Online had brought forth many new sensations for the teen. It wasn’t until he had begun his physical therapy that he realized that his hair was considerably longer than he recalled. Add in the fine fuzz growing on his upper lip and chin and the hero resembled a vagabond more than the black swordsman. The therapist began with a series of stretches to loosen up the atrophied muscles before moving on to massaging his body.
To say that the experience was pleasant for Kirito would be a lie as he tried to muffle the painful yelps that escaped his mouth. It was the most physical activity he’d participated in and found himself thanking the powers that be when the session was over. The tired smile on his face was enough indication to the therapist and nurse looking after him that the boy had had enough for that day.
He wasn’t used to feeling this weak and ocassionally swiped his left hand in a downward motion to bring up SAO’s menu. It was an old habit that was going to be difficult to beat, as the therapist eased Kirito into a wheelchair. The boy was ready to protest the wheelchair, insisting that he could walk on his own as he stood up from the wheelchair on quavering limbs. His nurse was quick to shut that idea down after she’d tapped his knees and much to his chagrin, they buckled beneath his too-thin frame. Kirito fell to the floor with a pained and frustrated growl. He begrudgingly let himself be put back in the wheelchair but glared darkly at the nurse who smiled sweetly at her stubborn patient.
“Say…” he said softly after a few minutes.
“What is it Kirigaya-kun?” the nurse asked.
“Could I get a haircut and a shave?” he returned with earnest.
The nurse looked down at her patient over the rims of her spectacles and smiled softly. “After you rest, Kirigaya-kun. Besides, I’m sure your family will want to see you soon.”
Kirito’s eyes widened at the mention of his mother and sister, Suguha. The black swordsman made a mental note to apologize to both of them for causing them so much worry. The sooner he got those apologies out of the way, the sooner his life would go back to normal. He still couldn’t eat anything and his body felt like lead. He’d sooner take on a barrage of orange players attacking him en masse again but getting another massage.
The boy grunted painfully as the therapist helped him back into the gel-based bed before he sank into the coolness and sighed in relief. A pillow was behind his head as his eyes began to close against his will. It hadn’t even been an hour and Kirito couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so physically exhausted. It wasn’t a bad feeling to know that he’d actually sleep without medication as the nurse pulled a blanket over lower body and stroked his hair while checking his pulse.
“If you need anything Kirigaya-kun –” the nurse cut her thought short as she looked down upon a rare sight.
For the first time in two years, Kazuto Kirigaya was sleeping without the Nerve Gear on his head. There would be no fear of his brain being fried as his body sank into the comfort of the bedding, his breathing slow and even. The nurse quietly pulled the curtains closed to block out some of the light to let her patient rest. He appeared to be at peace for the time being but once the nightmares started, he’d be awake in no time.
Her patient hadn’t spoken about the SAO server yet, but he’d lost much more than she would ever be able to comprehend in those two years. She could see it his eyes even though he tried his best to hide it. The therapists could aid him in working through those issues for the time being.
“Sweet dreams, Kirigaya-kun,” the nurse whispered with a gentle pat to his shoulder.
Sheryl was her worst critic as she sat on the couch in her hotel room glaring at her performance. It had to be one of the worst she’d ever given. Her voice had cracked more than once and she’d become pitchy near the end. She was highly considering throwing the remote through the TV when it was plucked from her loose grip and the channel was changed without delay.
“I was watching that,” she huffed out in annoyance before glancing up and spotting Alto.
Alto changing the channel without permission was even worse than when Grace would turn it off completely.
“Funny,” he shot back. “It looked like you were about to kill the TV with the look you were giving it.”
“And your point would be…?” Sheryl snapped irritably before snatching the remote and flipping the channel back to the music program she’d been watching. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to get on that show much less perform on it?”
“You’re singing your latest single, what else is there to watch?” Alto retorted. “It’s just a show, why don’t you just record it and get it over with?”
“Because I’m watching it right now and you changing the channel isn’t helping things, stupid Alto.” The diva rebuttled. “This isn’t like the videos of you from your Kabuki days which I’ve seen at least three of in the past two days. Really Alto, who did your makeup? It was terrible.”
“It doesn’t matter who did my makeup,” Alto countered. “These shows are on all the time. Did you even think to check the listings?”
Sheryl stood up then and pointed the remote at Alto. “Last I checked, this was my hotel room, not yours.”
“And I’m saying that there are better things on TV than preening while watching your own interview. Honestly Sheryl, why can’t you just sit back and read a book or something?” Alto said with exasperation.
Sheryl spun around and flopped back onto the couch with a disgusted look on her face before glaring at the television screen instead. “I’m not talking to you right now, Alto Saotome.”
“Excuse me?” The pilot flared. “You’re such a child Sheryl.” He said irritably before reaching down to grab the remote and turn the television off. “There’s a billion other things you could be doing right now.”
She shot him a challenging look. He certainly had a lot of moxy for a pilot that was more trouble than he was worth. “So is this what you always do when you’re with Ranka-chan?”
She watched with great amusement as Alto’s cheeks blushed in embarrassment at her insinuation. It may have been taking things a bit too far but sometimes you had to take things to the extreme. Sheryl knew exactly what buttons to push to get Alto out of her hair and it worked like a charm as he slammed the remote on the table behind the couch and stormed away.
“Do whatever you want then Sheryl,” he practically shouted at her. “Don’t come crying to me because you don’t like your performance.”
“And who said that I was going to do any sort of crying over my performance?” Sheryl said tartly. “I’m a Pro and I deal with criticism as any pro would. With dignity and grace.”
“Yeah, your definition of dignity and grace is implying that I’m doing something with Ranka when you damn well know better.” Alto replied with a bitter tone.
“My definition of dignity and grace?!” Sheryl snapped back. “At least I have dignity and grace unlike some uncouth pilot who doesn’t know his head from a hole in the ground!”
Alto was glaring daggers at Sheryl by that point in the argument. They both knew that this was a stupid argument to be having and if they continued it any longer it would only spiral into a trainwreck with disastrous results. Finally, knowing that he’d never win an argument with Sheryl when she was like this, Alto decided to take the high road.
“I’m leaving,” he said flatly before turning on his heels and let himself out.
The slam of the door spoke volumes more to Sheryl than his words ever could and she stood there glaring at the door before reaching for a notepad and pen. A song of anger was burning in her mind and she had to get it out.
Just who was this person standing before him?
Kurogane wasn’t sure just who he was looking at. Was he looking at the magician who was a proverbial pain in his ass or was he looking at the broken shell of a man who was bordering on losing everything dear to him. It was like the ninja was meeting Fai again for the first time and the irritation that he’d felt then was bubbling up inside of him now.
They had just defeated Ashura and recovered the Princess’ feather. Everything should have been fine. The pork bun should’ve been transporting them to another world. The four of them should’ve been on their way and continuing their desperate searching for Sakura’s feathers. Instead, Celes was falling apart from the inside and Fai was at the very center of it.
Four of them would be able to escape Celes today but it just wouldn’t fly for Kurogane. Everything had become a blur at that point. There was too much going and there stood Fai urging him to forget him and go ahead with continuing their quest. Didn’t the damn magician realize that they were friends now? The ninja wasn’t about to dessert his comrade, his friend like this and their words were a jumbled mess in his memory by now.
Something had come over Kurogane as he cut off his own arm to leave it in Fai’s place. The ninja hauled the other out of the center of Celes in the nick of time as they were transported away from the dying world. Fai was coming with them come hell or high water. Magicians and Space Time Witches be damned to the underworld and back. Kurogane wasn’t willing to lose any more people when he had to protect them. He’d lost enough strength on that damn world as it was. Losing an arm imbued with Fai’s magic was a necessary sacrifice.
A sacrifice that left him weak and delirious with fever. He now stood in front of a mirror staring back at someone who didn’t seem like himself. In fact, Kurogane is looking at the man that he used to be. The man who had lost his way and forgotten what true strength was. He’d learned much in his travels with Syaoran, the Princess and Fai that looking back upon that surly ninja who was adamant in feeling that everything going on around him had nothing to do with him was just so different from the man he was today.
He remembered why he’d wanted strength in the first place and found new people to protect with that strength. There was a magician hiding behind a mask that wasn’t what he truly was, a Princess with no memories searching for who she was and a Kid possessing more true strength than he had possessed at Syaoran’s age. Little by little, Kurogane had come to aid the three on their quest more often than he wanted and naturally, the four of them had formed a close bond.
“You’re not who I am anymore,” he said to his reflection and watched as it faded away. “I have the power to protect my friends and Princess Tomoyo and I will never let myself go back to the way that I was. My strength may have faded after killing Ashura but the Gods be damned if I let those who would do them harm take them from me again.”
The mirror remained and to break it would surely mean he could escape whatever dream he was trapped in. With a dangerous smirk on his face, Kurogane broke the mirror in his dreams with ease. His world was slowly getting lighter by the second before he was staring up at the ceiling half awake.
It was time to face the person he had become and was still becoming.
I’ve got everything I need to make this cake, including directions. I did everything properly and my stupid cake is still burnt! The ruined cake pan and its contents are chilling out in the sink, the smoke is still clearing from the kitchen when the door opens.
“What the hell happened in here?!”
I turned around to see Zell standing there and I smile sheepishly. “Uh… well… y’see, I was trying to bake a cake and uh…”
“A cake? Weren’t you banned from the kitchen Selphie?”
He sighed. “Didja even think to change the temperature on the oven, Selph?”
Prompt was “baked goods” courtesy of ffviii_100 over at dreamwidth.