By: A.J. Matthews
Chichiri sat on Genroe’s couch, with his sprained left ankle braced up on a chair. He was busy thinking about what had happened the last few hours. Genroe was sitting on a chair, watching him quietly.
(A few hours ago…)
Chichiri just couldn’t walk any more. His knee and ankle burned with pain as he continued to lean on Genroe. He was leaning more now than he had at the beginning.
Genroe could see that Chichiri was weakening fast. He sighed. “Look, Chichiri, why don’t we go to my place? It’s right across the street. You can rest there.” He glanced over his shoulder. For some reason, he felt like he was being watched. He looked down at Chichiri. The sixteen-year-old was short for his age, so that almost everyone in the school was taller than him. Including Tasuki himself. Chichiri’s head came up to his shoulders.
“All right, Genroe.” Chichiri couldn’t keep the pain out of his voice. “It hurts, no da.”
Tasuki had all but half carried him to the apartment building across the street. Once he’d gotten them inside, he helped Chichiri to the couch. “Sit down and put your leg up,” he’d said.
Chichiri was amazed to see that the apartment was as clean as a whistle. He’d put his leg up, afraid it would get the couch dirty.
Genroe went over to the kitchen. “Hold on a sec,” he called. He fixed two ice packs, wrapped them in towels, and took them over to Chichiri. After placing them on Chichiri’s swollen ankle and knee, Genroe hopped onto a chair and looked at him.
Chichiri had looked back. “Thank you again, no da.”
“Any time. That Nakago can be a real jerk sometimes.” He looked away for a second and then glanced back.
Chichiri still felt that Genroe’s name was wrong. Another name kept springing up in his mind; Tasuki. A faint image went through his head. He saw a red-headed nineteen-year-old walking down the street with him, dragging him to a bar.
“Honestly, Tasuki. Haven’t you had enough to drink tonight?” That was himself, talking to the red-head.
“Are you kidding? I haven’t even had two bottles yet, Chichiri.”
“I don’t know, Tasuki. Hotohori won’t appreciate it if you burn another hole in the ceiling, no da.”
He’d laughed and slapped Chichiri on the back. Then he leaned in for a quick kiss, smiled, and pulled him inside. “You’re going to love this,” he’d proclaimed.
“Chichiri?” a faint voice asked.
“Tasuki?” asked Chichiri, still caught up in the image.
“What?!?” the voice said. “Chichiri, snap out of it.”
Suddenly, a loud clapping noise pulled Chichiri from the image. He opened his eyes.
Genroe was standing in front of him. “You ok, Chichiri?” He looked at Chichiri funny. How could this new kid know his nickname, he wondered.
“Gomen. I just had another one of those weird things that happened when the whole group of us were together at the park, no da.” Chichiri blinked his mahogany eyes. “Strange.”
Genroe was still looking at Chichiri kind of strangely. There did seem to be something familiar about him.
“What is it?” Chichiri asked. He touched his face to make sure his mask hadn’t fallen off.
“How did you know my nickname?” Genroe asked in response.
“What do you mean?” Chichiri looked confused.
“While you were out of it, you called me Tasuki.” The boy’s brown eyes looked at him. “That’s what all my friends call me. But I never told you.”
“It was in the image that I saw, no da.”
“We were walking somewhere. You called me Chichiri, and I called you Tasuki.” Chichiri looked at Genroe funny now. “You were taking me to a bar.” He didn’t mention the kiss, though he could still feel its sweetness on his mouth.
“Man, you must be a psychic or something. I do drink, not all the time, but when I’m with my friends.” He looked at Chichiri with a mischievous smile. “You can call me Tasuki if you want to, just not in front of creeps like Nakago.”
So Chichiri and Genroe had talked about their likes and dislikes for a few hours.
But now they’d run out of things to say.
Chichiri had found out that Genroe, Hotohori, Nuriko, and Chiriko all played in a band together. Hotohori was rich, according to Genroe. Chiriko was a genius, and was the reason all of them were passing. Nuriko had a huge crush on Hotohori, which didn’t surprise Chichiri. He’d mentioned seeing Nuriko run after Hotohori in the hallway, which made Genroe laugh.
“Oh, no,” Chichiri moaned. He felt the power flowing in the room and attempted to control it. He tried to stand but couldn’t. He looked at Genroe- no, Tasuki, then back towards the bedroom. A blue light was beginning to glow softly.
The other lights began to flicker on and off.
Tasuki looked around. “What’s with the light show?”
Chichiri looked at him. “Tasuki, help me, please, no da.” He looked at him beseechingly.
“Sure,” Tasuki said, shrugging. He stood and walked over to Chichiri. Without any sign of strain, he managed to pick up the younger man and started to carry him back into the bedroom. When they got there, he was so shocked he almost dropped Chichiri. “What the?” Tasuki looked at the boy in his arms. He couldn’t help but feel a warmth inside him as he gazed down at him.
Chichiri inwardly groaned. Not here, not now, he pleaded. He looked at Genroe, feeling a strange sense of longing. He looked away quickly, and looked at the figure surrounded by the blue light.
“It’s not too late. Whatever happens, don’t break the circle of seven. He can’t defeat us.”
Those words went through Chichiri’s head.
An image snapped through Chichiri’s and Tasuki’s minds.
Tasuki lay on the floor, looking at Chichiri. Both were dying. They were worried about each other. The others all lay dead. Chichiri was the only one who could stand.
“ ‘I will never be yours. While hands can touch and hearts can reach, I will be beyond your touch. And so shall they.’ ” Chichiri told the figure.
Those words seemed very familiar to Tasuki and Chichiri, as they refocused in the present.
The cold eyes looked directly at Chichiri. “You will be mine, Chichiri. Don’t fight it any longer.”
Chichiri gestured to Tasuki to give him over there fast, not noticing when his mask blew off.
Tasuki did so, staring at the figure, absentmindedly catching the mask.
Chichiri focused, and a red symbol appeared on his leg, showing through his ripped pants. The figure shrieked and vanished. The energy buildup in the room returned to normal. He looked at Tasuki wordlessly.
Tasuki looked down at Chichiri. That had to be the most incredibly thing he’d ever seen. And he still found Chichiri to be beautiful, as they gazed at each other.
“Where’d ya learn how ta do that?” Tasuki finally asked.
Chichiri couldn’t help feeling a deep sense of relief. Tasuki hadn’t freaked out. “I’ve always been able to do it.” He looked down at the floor. Tasuki was very handsome, in Chichiri’s opinion. His fiery red hair reminded Chichiri of a sunset.
Tasuki gently carried Chichiri out to the living room of his apartment again.
“Want to explain that?” Tasuki asked softly, as he gently sat Chichiri on the couch. He himself had a secret that he would reveal, after Chichiri spoke. “Who was that weirdo?”
“I was walking home from the park that day, years ago, when it began to rain. As I looked up, a blue light suddenly flashed.” He looked at Tasuki, whose eyes widened at the sight of Chichiri’s scar.
“Someone appeared before me. He tried to take me away to some strange place.” Chichiri shrugged. “For some reason, he couldn’t.” Chichiri remembered how frightened he’d been.
“Days and weeks went by,” he said earnestly. “I was scared. The man started appearing everywhere I went. My parents never believed me when I told them. They died almost two and a half years later.”
“Whoa. So you’ve been chased your entire life?” Tasuki asked.
Chichiri nodded. “After my parents died, I was placed in a foster home. Everything went fine until he showed up again.”
“Let me guess- he did something like what he did here.”
“Exactly. My foster parents couldn’t handle what they’d seen. That’s when my ability showed up. I can stop his power, but I didn’t think he’d try that today.” His own symbol was fading away.
“Oh.” Tasuki was not completely stunned.
“I had to do that at school sometimes, too, no da.” Chichiri looked grim.
“Chichiri?” Tasuki asked quietly.
“Yes?” Chichiri looked at Tasuki.
Tasuki looked back. “Why do you have a scar on your face? I don’t mean to pry,” he said hastily.
Chichiri reached up and touched his face. Then he realized the mask was gone. “I got it in the car crash, no da. I was with my parents that night. The glass shattered.” He felt very self-conscious. “That’s why I don’t belong anywhere. I’m scarred and have the power to levitate things. And some stranger chases me everywhere I go, no da.” Chichiri looked at Tasuki.
“Well, Chichiri, you’re not alone anymore.” Tasuki pulled back his sleeve, and picked up his tessen. “I see things in dreams, too. That’s where I learned how to do this. Lekka Shien!” A red mark appeared on Tasuki’s arm and a bolt of fire shot out of his tessen.
“You have a mark, too?” Chichiri was surprised. “I thought I was the only one.”
A sudden pounding came at the door.
“Tasuki!” yelled Tamahome. “Let me in!”
“Hang on a second, Chichiri.” He smiled ruefully, and then went over and unlocked the door.
Tamahome pushed it open, and walked in wearing torn clothes. His eyes were narrowed and a red mark was glowing on his forehead.
“Oh, hi, Chichiri.” He turned, trying to hide the mark, and looked at Tasuki. “Tasuki, remember those girls who were watching us earlier? The auburn and the blond one?”
“Yes.” Tasuki looked at him impatiently, not understanding.
“They’ve been kidnapped..” Tamahome looked furious.
“No way, no da!” Chichiri said, trying to get off the couch again.
Tasuki frowned at Chichiri. “Stay seated.” Chichiri reluctantly did so.
Tasuki and Tamahome exchanged looks with each other. What do we do now, they thought.
To be continued…