Hey, everyone! I hope this chapter finds you all well and in good spirit! Here is your next chapter, enjoy!
It had been exactly three days since Ren had been sneaking out. Even so it felt as if the days had been weeks, months even. He got up early each morning with Kazuma and Ayano to scour the city in places that Ren knew that wouldn't find Rin, and then snuck out late at night in order to share dinner and talk with her. He learned things about her, about her past, about the struggles of finally making it back to Japan and locating the family. He learned of her dislike towards them for being the ones to wipe hers out, and he learned that she had an inkling of hatred towards Ayano that she often pushed away.
"You see, she's only trying to protect Kazuma." Rin had told him gently, slurping noodles into her mouth. "It's clear her emotions towards him, and her severe jealousy obviously spikes whenever I happen to be around. Our strange accidental encounters have put me in a bad limelight against her, and she feels threatened."
"Well, do you have feelings for Kazuma?" Ren asked, and Rin only smiled down at the boy.
"The only feelings I have towards that boy are wonderment of how he managed to leave the Kannagi and return without much resentment. He and the hotheaded Ayano clearly are meant to be with one another. I just wished that she wouldn't despise my presence so much." Rin set down her chopsticks, staring a her bowl rather gloomily, and Ren smiled at her.
"Well, Ayano can think what she likes, I prefer your company," he said, and Rin beamed at him brightly.
Since then, Ren had gone out of his way to learn which areas of the city would be looked over and when Kazuma and Ayano would search them, and relayed the information to Rin so she could avoid them. He felt a bit bad about the fact that he was playing the middle man, and deceiving and purposefully going against his own family, but Rin was important to him, and the entire time they both had needed a person to be there for one another, and he was learning to lean on her as well as her him. Their lives were changing for the better every time they met, and his feelings of guilt were steadily fading away at this point.
The last day was today.
Kazuma shook Ren awake, it was barely 4 in the morning.
"Kazuma what are you doing?" Ren demanded, squinting through the beams of light from the ceiling as his older brother flipped the switch. "We don't get up for two more hours. Go back to sleep." Not only was this a true fact, but the night prior Ren had been out extra late with Rin as she offered to take him stargazing. It worked best in the deeper hours of the evening, and he had returned only a few hours ago.
"Ren, its the last day. At midnight tonight, this game will be over. We'll have no more chances, and Rin will leave us." Kazuma said, sounding a bit more forceful. "Now, get up!" He left the room, leaving Ren to stare at his ceiling for a few brief moments before dragging himself out of bed. He threw on a shirt and covered it with his red jacket, and then pulled on a pair of jeans and walked out into Jugo's room, opening the door and letting himself in.
It had rained after Ren had left Rin, and was still raining up until now, even so early. For whatever reason Jugo was awake, and Kazuma and Ayano watched as Ren shut the door and joined them, plodding over with sleep still heavy on him. The room eyed him warily as though he might drop to the ground and start snoring at any second, but Ren didn't really care.
"Ren, maybe you should stay home today. You don't look so good." Ayano mumbled quietly, and Ren looked at her. He realized that everyone's gazes had been replaced with worry, and he immediately waved them off. He grinned as best he could.
"No, guys, really. I'm okay, I promise. I had some weird dream last night that woke me up a could of times, but otherwise I'm just fine," he spoke reassuringly, and most of what he said had been true. He really did dream quite a bit that night, and he did wake up a couple times during these dreams.
"Do you remember what they were about?" Jugo asked. Ren shook his head.
"Not really, its just a big blur," the lie slipped so easily. He did remember. They had been about Rin, talking to her, meeting her, laughing with her. They had been about the pair when they'd gone stargazing and drank hot tea and watched as the moon lit up the sky not too far off. They'd been wonderful recreations of his memories, and he knew he couldn't share them. Jugo and Ayano simply nodded, and went back to talking about their plans for that day. Kazuma watched him, and Ren pretended to be focused on the conversation in front of him, keeping an eye on his brother with his peripheral sight. After a few minutes of trying not to fidget under the pressure of the stares, Ren jumped outside at the mention of leaving. Kazuma appeared next, followed closely by Ayano, and the two spoke before Kazuma took off into the sky. Ayano joined Ren in the car.
"Kazuma said that he would be looking over the eastern part of the city, and we would take the other part. We'd meet up some place for lunch, then he'd go north and we'd go south." Ayano explained, and the driver nodded as well as Ren, who knew this from their conversation the night prior before he'd supposedly gone to bed. He gave a quick nod, and was nearly given whiplash as the driver suddenly floored it out of the driveway. It was too early in the morning for this.
I had a feeling that today would be a long day better spent indoors. I knew that Kazuma and the others would be out and about given that this was their last day to locate me and bring me in. I, however, didn't want to be cooped up in a building all day. Yet, that's exactly what I did. I spent the entirety of the day inside, wandering around malls and buildings, restaurants. I tried food that I always wanted to, and allowed myself to appreciate the wonders of the world that I loved in.
I realized a bit too late into the evening that I wouldn't get to see Ren. They would probably keep him out late into the night to look for me before their seven days had ended. Personally, I didn't want to leave anymore at this point. I wanted to show up and destroy the family, make a mess out of everything so they knew how I felt. Yet now, after meeting a person like Ren and realizing that not everyone there is so awful, I felt a need to be kind. I didn't want to leave them, but I couldn't stay either. I could feel my chest hurting when I realized this, and I forced my way through a crowd to get out of the store I resided in.
Rain still poured down, and I allowed myself to slip up and through the water onto the roof of a tall building. I sat there, watching as the clock on my watch slipped closer and closer to midnight. I would have to stay, at least long enough to say goodbye to Ren. He had been the first person to not shut me out, or think me weird for my ability. He'd seen mine, I'd seen his. It would almost be weird to not have him to talk to nightly.
When my watch finally struck twelve, I stood and stretched my arms into the air with a yawn. It was time to find that damn wind magic user and tell him that our little game of cat and mouse was finally over. I was ready to go when I was suddenly aware of a person behind me. I whipped around, finding myself face to face with a tall, dark haired man. He wore all black, and grinned at me, flashing perfect white teeth.
"I've been looking for you," he said in a soft but masculine voice. Had he not scared me, and if his presence didn't feel to me, I might have considered him attractive. However he loomed over me in the darkness, and took a few steps towards me.
"Stop right there." I snapped, expecting my voice to crack but surprised to find it strong, and firm. I clenched my jaw as he froze. "I don't know who you are. So whether you are looking for me or not, if you take another step closer, I'll kick your ass." I didn't threaten often, I didn't like to, but in my fear and surprise by the situation, the words simply tumbled from my lips. The man only grinned.
"The other Kouu were just as stubborn." My eyes widened as he said this, and before I could react to what he had said, a burst of water flushed me from the top of the building. I felt time slow down as the air rushed around me, my body falling ungracefully towards the concrete below me. As I got closer, I felt myself merge with the rain around me, and hit the ground with a splash, returning to my original form and glancing up at the top of the building.
"Rin?" a voice to my left made me turn, and I found myself face to face with Kazuma, Ayano, and Ren.
"Of course!" I snapped, glaring down at the ground below my legs. "Its past midnight, you have no ability to capture me." I reminded them, and they remained oddly silent.
"We know, we were on our way home when-.. Who are you?" Kazuma began, and then his gaze fixated on something to my right. I turned, and the odd man was standing there. I stood on my feet just as his hand came down and clamped on my arm, fixating his grip there.
"Hey!" I shouted, and struggled to pull away, but he clearly worked on refining the muscles that were prominent under his tight jacket, and I was stuck. Kazuma and Ayano stepped forward, but it was Ren who fired the shot of pure flame and sent the man sprawling to the ground in pain. I made eye contact with Ren for a mere second, just enough for my gaze to say thank you, before I turned to face the weird man behind me.
"Listen here, Rin," he snarled, glaring at me and pointing. "I've been tracing you down for miles, days, weeks; you're not getting away from me now."
"I don't even know who you are." I repeated my earlier phrase and gestured to the building above us. "And you just shoved me off a building. Why would I trust you?"
"It doesn't matter," he snapped, glaring at me and then his gaze slipped past me to the Kannagi's behind me. "You shot me? You pest!" I knew that he was speaking to Ren, and when he raised his arm to fire what I believed to be water, I grabbed his arm, twisted around, and threw him back even further, pulling up a ball of water in front of my person.
"We don't want any trouble." Kazuma spoke, suddenly at my side. I grimaced as the man stood, holding his arm where it looked as though I'd hurt him pretty badly. He gritted his teeth as Kazuma continued. "Just tell us who you are and what you want. We'll help the best that we can."
"Kazuma, surely you don't mean-." Ayano began, but Kazuma hushed her with a flick of his hand, and she fell silent behind us with Ren who was no directly behind me.
"My name is Maro Kumatsu," the man said with a laugh. "I'm here for her," his crooked finger landed directly on me, and I felt my muscles tense. What was going on? Why was this so spontaneous, and terrifying? It was bad to a point that even the people I'd been working against for a week were standing up for me.
"Why?" I boldly asked the question, and he grinned wider if possible.
"You seem to recall your entire family being lost into time, most of them lost in the war with the Kannagi, yes?" I clenched my jaw, nodding, but refusing to let this stinging of the words subside in case I needed to use this anger as fuel later. "Well, they then kicked you out, and left you, and before you knew it, they were gone. The reason is that MY family of water magic users were far superior, and we simply had to prove it." What he said slowly sunk in, and I realized everything all but too quickly. Lightning flashed across the sky, and Maro looked up at the dark clouds, then back at me. "Ah, yes, you Kouu's had an awfully weird connection to the weather as well. I forgot."
"You murdered my family." I spat the words out. "All this time I-.. I thought it was them!" I pointed behind me at the Kannagi's, and then attempted to leap forward to attack this man, hurt him in any way, kill him if I had to. Everything I had was gone, and he framed the wrong people for it. However, Kazuma had a firm grip on me, and wrestled me back to his side. Maro only laughed at our little show.
"What a shame, such a cute, feisty girl has to go to waste." Maro said, laughing and shaking his head. "You are the last one, and now you get to remove your family entirely from existence." Maro took a single step forward, and was instantly warded back by a wall of flames. Ren stepped forward from behind me, his face lit with anger.
"You don't get to touch her," he said coldly. "If she truly is the last one, then its our duty to protect her. She is my best friend, and you'll have to take me before you get to her." I heard Kazuma and Ayano both inhale sharply at his words, and I felt joy swell within me only to be crushed by Maro's insane laughter. He had his head tipped back towards the sky and was clutching his stomach. He bent over his knees, letting the air escape him without stopping it, before standing and wiping tears away. He glanced between Ren and I and grinned like a mad man.
"So be it," he said, and what happened next was a blur. Within an instant, Kazuma and Ayano were washed away from us. Before we could move, waves of water restricted us, and moved us into waiting vehicles across the street. Men inside restrained our arms and bashed us both over the head. I remember glancing out the window and seeing Maro cover both Ayano and Kazuma in a sheet of ice before stepping into the passenger seat in front of us, and then the black waves washed over me entirely.
Oh no! Ren was swept into the middle of a kidnapping, and a big conspiracy revealed! Ack!
I also felt the need to point out in this chapter especially that Rin was never meant to end up with Kazuma. Many of you panicked about that xD So here's the proof, no, she doesn't end up with the Contractor. Kazuma x Ayano all the way.
Hope you guys enjoyed. Review your thoughts if you have any, and have a frantastic week!