Asagi deserves her own game. Really.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A light breeze flowed through the tallest spires of Maritsu Evil Academy. It was really just another day – students cutting classes, random pranks being pulled, shouts and raucous laughter filling the hallways.
On the rooftop of one of the many buildings that made up the school compound, a young ebon-haired girl could be seen sitting down, hands folded behind her head as she gazed out at the vista before her.
She didn't move for a long while, the expression on her face utterly noncommittal. The breeze picked up in pace somewhat, ruffling her hair and fur-lined coat about somewhat.
"Ah – huh?" The voice of someone who obviously hadn't expected to find anyone else up on the roof at this time.
Shifting slightly, she leaned over enough to be able to look past her shoulder. Hair of deep navy blue, so dark it was nearly black, like her own hair. A maroon scarf draped messily over his neck and shoulders, and, as always, that sheepish smile etched across his face, like a little kid caught in the act of filching cookies.
"Nice to see you too, Almaz." She said with no tone in her voice before shifting back to gaze over the school.
"Y – yeah, hi." The hero chuckled slightly as he walked over to her. "You're… Asagi, right?"
"Oh, you remembered. I'm touched." She continued to stare steadfastly at the horizon.
"Er… so, hey. What are you doing out here?"
The gunner let out a sigh. "I could ask the same of you. You're married to that princess, right? Shouldn't you be spending time with her?"
"Oh, she, er, she went with Miss Beryl and Marona to do some shopping. The three of them get along really well, you know."
"Hm." Asagi gave another noncommittal sound.
The dark-haired Hero paused. Asagi had been hanging around with them ever since the huge adventure with the Tyrant Overlord and stolen things (or misadventure, in Almaz's rather humble opinion), as had, well, just about everyone else. Of course he was stretching the term 'hanging out' to a rather large limit, because, well, she mostly sat. And stared.
…Pretty much what she was doing now, actually.
Almaz sighed. She was – by far – the most mopey of their entire band of misfits. Marona with her pure heart was always bubbly and cheerful – moreso due to most of the inhabitants of Maritsu not finding her ability of Confinement strange in the least. From what he could gather, it hadn't been like that back in her home world. Prism Red, after relocating the remaining members of the Prism Rangers (those that agreed to stay in the Prism Rangers, anyway) was his usual cheerful, peppy… half deranged self. Axel was more or less always cheerful, especially since a large contingent of Maritsu Academy's female body seemed rather interested in his exploits back from some world… Velding? Valdyn? He hadn't really been paying attention. Even Overlord Laharl, for all his bluster, seemed more like a younger, slightly brattier version of Mao – not that Almaz would ever tell that to the demon's face, of course.
But Asagi... the one time she'd actually seemed a bit fired up was during their hunt for the Legendary Overlord. Once the whole affair had blown over, she'd retreated into a blank shell, politely but firmly resisting all attempts at cracking it.
Most of the demon members of their troupe had shrugged and left it at that – reticence amongst demons wasn't anything out of the ordinary. But Almaz… well, he didn't feel right just leaving it at that. Heroes did more than fighting evil, didn't they? They had to expand their duties to helping people on emotional and spiritual levels too! (Well, at least that was what the latest edition of the Helpful Handbook for Happy Heroes said. And who was Almaz to question it?)
And so he spoke up. "Hey, uh, Asagi?"
"Hm?" She didn't even look up. Disappointing. But he wasn't going to be deterred that easily!
"Uh, you see, there's a new set of classes opening up soon. It's about bettering relations between humans and demons – they figured it'd be useful thanks to the recent rise in the number of humans on the campus. Maybe you'd be…" He trailed off. Asagi was staring at him with the sort of expression one reserved for telling your peers 'what you have just proposed is the most utterly inane and ridiculous things I have ever had the misfortune to be privy to'. Come to think of it, talking about class as a pretext for getting someone to open up did sound pretty ridiculous…
Almaz shook his head. This was no time for defeatism. If he could help in making someone like Mao open his heart, then surely he could help with opening Asagi's!
He chose to ignore the fact that the process of opening Mao's heart had involved himself getting punched, shot, kneed in the groin, poisoned, half-transmuted into a demon, and… well, a whole lot of other unpleasant things. No reason to dwell on the past, right? Asagi was a human – opening her up should be a lot less traumatic… for everyone involved.
That pleasing thought in mind, Almaz settled himself on the ground next to her. "The Academy isn't a half bad place, is it?"
"I mean, when I first came here I thought it was too dark for my liking – and a lot of the internal décor's really gothic and creepy… but I got used to it, more or less."
He paused. Was that… a snort of laughter?
"You want to see gothic and creepy? Try Zetta's palace. Mr. "Badass Freakin' Overlord' has all the aesthetic taste of a book. Oh, wait, silly me, he was a book!" Her reaction was… unexpected. He hadn't really expected such an acerbic outburst coming from her. Sneaking a quick glance to his side, he was dismayed to see a dangerous gleam to her eyes that he'd seen before – mostly in his wife's face whenever she'd confirmed a new target for destruction.
However, just as quickly as it had appeared it melted away into a strange blankness. She slumped down, this time leaning her head forward to hide them in her shoulders. "He promised. That worthless little rat promised."
…Well, this was as good a thread to follow as any, he supposed. Sneaking a surreptitious glance to confirm that her twin handguns were still safely tucked in their holsters (not that it'd really do much good. She was fast on the draw.), he cleared his throat. "Promised… promised what?"
Asagi sighed and buried her head lower. "He said he'd train me – make me worthy of being a main character… and then he'd let me star in my own game. Of course, since he didn't want more main characters stealing the spotlight away from him, his 'training' consisted of dumping me in various worlds and leaving me to fend for myself – and whenever I somehow managed to find my way back he'd go 'Okay then, time for the next phase!' and kick me off to another backwater place in the ass-end of nowhere that nobody's ever heard of."
Good – she was talking at a long stretch of time without being needlessly prompted. Granted this subject seemed to be upsetting her a bit, but at least she was crawling – if ever so slowly - out of her shell.
"Then, are you here because of that Zetta guy?"
She shook her head, and the faint semblance of a smile crossed her face. "Nah. I finally got strong enough to fight my way out of there. As it turned out, the 'no plans no backup' method's pretty good for training after all." Then the smile vanished. "But I couldn't find my game – the game I was supposed to be starring in. When I tried to make my way back to it, the whole thing had vanished. Like it had never existed."
"Oh… so that's why you wanted to be a main character so badly."
"Hmph." Asagi stood up, stretching her limbs. "It's pretty much the Holy Grail for us videogame characters, after all. About the only thing that matches it in prestige is main villain."
"Hehe, yeah, well… being a main character's not really all it's cracked up to be." Almaz chuckled as he rubbed the back of his head. "I mean, I'm a main character… sort of, anyway. And I ended up having a lot of bad things happen to me. Even Mao had his fair share of crap to deal with." Almaz swallowed as he remembered the incident which had resulted in Mao regressing to being an infant.
"And now?" Asagi countered in a voice that suggested she'd heard this argument one time too many already.
"What's your current situation after having all those 'bad things' happen to you?"
"Well…" Almaz paused. "I'm married to the princess, I got Mao to open his heart, I'm married to the princess, I'm a full fledged Hero, I'm married to the princess…" He trailed off. Then he paused. "Did I mention that I'm married to the princess?"
"Yes, you did."
"See, that's the thing about main characters." Asagi folded her arms and began pacing. "You get a lot of crap thrown at you during the course of the game – but after all the shit's hit the fan and the dust has settled and whatnot, you get your reward, you fall in love, get married, end up an Overlord, whatever. Point is, it's worth going through all that abuse." She stopped and clenched her fists. "And that was supposed to happen to me! I was supposed to go off on a grand adventure and fight evil… things… and make a lot of friends and maybe even a boyfriend or something! But no! Now I'm just stuck wondering from game to game, trying to palm off a bit of extra screen time like some… some… cameo!" Asagi sunk to her knees, hair falling forward to cover her face. "It's not fair!" Her body was shaking from silent sobs at this point.
Unsure of what to do, he glanced around in the futile hope that someone who would know what to do was in the immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, no one appeared to be present.
Fortunately, Asagi was quick in regaining control of herself. "I'm… I'm sorry. It's just… I've been trying for so long…" She hastily wiped her eyes. "Sometimes I just wonder if… if I'll really ever get to be a main character, you know? I don't want everything I've done to be in vain."
"Well, uh…" Almaz coughed before walking closer to her. "The way I see it… it sounds a lot like me, back when I was trying to become a hero."
"You?" Asagi raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah… back before this whole mess, I was a coward who couldn't do anything right. But I still wanted to be a hero more than anything! Well, maybe I wanted the princess to notice me too, but being a hero was still right up there. It got so bad that I even made myself a title… just so I could feel a little like one."
"You made your own title?" Asagi glanced over, taking a long look at it. "Hm. It does seem a little too shabby to be genuine…"
"Gee, thanks." Almaz muttered. "A – anyway! The point was that even with my homemade title, I still always felt like being a real hero like the Super Hero would forever be out of my grasp." Almaz folded his arms and stared away. "But… well, I succeeded. I almost got myself killed in the process," multiple times, he silently reminded himself. "But I succeeded!"
"This isn't going to be one of those 'If I can do it so can you' talks, is it?" Asagi muttered with a resigned air.
"Er…" Almaz blinked. Then he sighed. "Actually, no." Turning away, he took a couple of steps. "Back when I wasn't really a hero yet, I remembered thinking that I was never going to be one. But that didn't stop me from trying to act like I was one. The reason I came into this Netherworld was so I could save the princess from being kidnapped by the Overlord – yeah, that didn't go so well at first."
Asagi remained silent.
"Asagi, I… I really have no idea whether or not you'll ever be a main character, whether you'll get your own game, or if you can co-star with some of the other mains in some crossover game or something – but you can't lose hope that you will. If you just hang around and mope you're not going to reach main character status. You have to have hope that one day you'll be on the front cover of a game, that you'll be in most of the cutscenes…" He trailed off. "Asagi, don't give up hope."
"Hope, huh…" A thin smiled curled across her lips. "Thanks, Almaz."
He shrugged. "It… it's no big deal. Just some words of encouragement." Scratching the back of his neck, he turned to her. "Asagi… you wanna, um, join me for lunch of something?"
"Hmph." The smile grew slightly wider. "It couldn't hurt."
And thus saying, the two of them headed back down the stairs.
The gunner turned back from the Dimensional Gate, seeing Almaz standing behind her. "Yeah?" She called back.
"You're leaving already?"
"It's like you said, I can't give up hope. Somewhere out there there's a game with my name on it. And the only way I'm going to find it is by heading out there again."
"Oh, well…" The hero paused. "If you ever need to take a break or a rest or anything… well, you know where we are."
"I know. Thanks for everything, Almaz." She grinned at him. "You're going to be one of the great heroes, kid. One of the greats."
And with that, she turned and stepped through the gateway, and the multiverse whirled around her once more.
Thanks for reading. Please review.