One-shot #9: Wanted, Part 1
Characters: Ikuto, Tadase, Amu, Utau
Summary: Everything has changed. All the chara bearers are wanted criminals, ordered to be arrested on sight. How will Ikuto, Utau, and the others be able to survive in such a world on their own when nowhere is safe?
A/N: Hello, it's been awhile. Hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas! Hope you have a fabulous New Year's as well. I actually wrote this a long while ago but am just posting it now.
The first rays of the sun shone upon the sleeping boy's eyelids, causing them to blink open. He sat up slowly, stretching his muscles that had cramped from sleeping on the ground. He glanced around at the glade he'd taken shelter in, admiring the way the early morning rays filtered through the trees.
He glanced to the side, where an egg sat on the ground, propped up in a bed of moss. He leaned forward and picked it up, tapping the shell.
"Yoru, wake up." He spoke, his deep voice gently breaking the peaceful silence of the morning air.
The egg popped open and a cat chara floated out groggily, rubbing his eyelids. "Good morning, Ikuto, nya." He said sleepily.
"Wake up the other charas, Yoru. We have to leave early today."
He perked up immediately, his sleepiness leaving in an instant. "Alright nya!" His bearer softly chuckled at his enthusiasm.
Ikuto turned to his left, where two siblings lay on the ground beside each other, sleeping. They were facing each other, and in between them was a pile of moss, like the one Yoru's egg had lain on, but bigger. Five eggs were nestled into it. Yoru floated over to them and began tapping them, shouting "wake up, nya!"
"Tadase, Amu, wake up." Ikuto said, shaking the boy's shoulder.
The boy opened his eyes, revealing startling red orbs as he sat up, yawning.
"Good morning, Ikuto." He said, running a hand through his blonde hair. He turned and shook his sister. "Amu, wake up."
The girl only grumbled, mumbling unintelligible nonsense as she turned over.
Amu wasn't a morning person. Though she and Tadase were twins, they looked and acted nothing alike.
Ikuto chuckled as Tadase sighed in exasperation.
"Here," Ikuto said, scooting closer. "I'll wake her up."
Immediately Tadase got in front of Amu and spread his arms out in a protective stance. "No."
Ikuto raised an eyebrow.
"You will not take my sister's innocence!" Tadase glared.
Ikuto chuckled, then leaned back and plopped himself back on the ground. "Have it your way. Just wake her up."
"I'll help!" One of Amu's charas, who were now awake, yelled. She flew over to Amu and began doing an odd dance above her head. "Go, go Amu! Go – "
"Amu, the Searchers are here!" Miki yelled.
Immediately Amu sat bolt upright, knocking Ran out of the air. "What?! Where?!"
She glared when she saw everyone was laughing at her. She flushed. "Hey, that's not funny!" She yelled. "It could be a potentially dangerous situation! Miki!"
Another one of her charas giggled. "Sorry, Amu, but it was funny, desu!"
Amu crossed her arms over her chest and huffed. "Whatever. What was so important that you had to say that the Searchers were coming in order to wake me up?" Her charas sighed at her attitude.
Ikuto stood, stretching. "We have to get going. We're meeting the others later." He said.
Tadase and Amu immediately got serious and readied themselves to move. They each grabbed a backpack, while Ikuto grabbed a duffle and a battered violin case.
The three began walking, making their way out of the forest. Thankfully, undergrowth was scarce, therefore allowing the small company easy travel.
It was a pleasant walk, the early morning air cool and peaceful, with birds chirping in the tall trees. An occasional breeze flitted through the glade, brushing their hair out of their faces comfortingly.
"When are we meeting them, Ikuto-nii-san?" Tadase spoke up.
"Tomorrow at eight."
"And what time is it now?"
"Nine fifteen. We've been walking for about two hours. We'll be getting out of this forest soon."
True to his words, the trees began to thin, and soon, they found themselves on the outskirts of a large, bustling town.
"We're meeting them in Seiyo?!" Amu gasped. She whirled to face Ikuto. "Won't we get caught?!"
Ikuto gave her a smirk. "Not if we're careful." His response was an eye roll from the girl.
"I have to share her concerns, Ikuto. Seiyo is a bit close to the capitol and them for my comfort."
Ikuto sighed. Despite his front, he was a bit concerned himself. Seiyo was home to a large Easter corporation base, and relatively close to Tokyo, the capital city.
"I know, I know." He said. "But Nagihiko is wounded, and he needs help."
The twins gasped.
"He's fine," Ikuto continued before they could ask questions, "but unable to move quickly. I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry." He glanced at his watch. "It's ten. We should check into a hotel so we'll be ready by patrol time."
The twins nodded, and Ikuto handed Amu a big hoodie.
"Wear that. It'll cover up your hair. We'll buy some dye later at the store." He said, and she nodded, obediently putting it on.
The three teens began their walk through town, doing their best to blend in and avoid eye contact. Ikuto kept a close eye on Amu and Tadase as well as their surroundings. He was ready to bolt at the first sign of anything suspicious.
He glanced up at an advertisement board and grimaced in disgust. It showed a child saluting in the common Easter fashion: a fisted hand over his heart. The Easter logo was present, along with the phrase "Allegiance is all."
Ten years ago, when Ikuto was an eight year-old boy, and the twins were three, a group who called themselves "Easter" took over the government system. Everything had changed after they began implementing new laws, regulating everything from food prices to music, and changing the way the business systems worked.
It first started to affect his family when Easter decided that Ikuto's father, Aruto, wasn't fit for his job.
They just simply told him that they didn't like him where he was. Of course, they masked it under innocent phrases like "We believe you would be more effective here," but the meaning was still the same.
Aruto was forced out of his job, and then forced into another office. They wanted him to work as an Easter official.
One day, a man came into his house to discuss this proposal with his father. This office would require a move, a relocation of his family from their small country town to Tokyo.
The man shot him on the spot.
No justice was served for him. It was set up to look like Aruto had pulled a gun first.
Ikuto's mother, Souko, fell into depression, not leaving her room for months. Ikuto, though only being eleven at the time, went out and got a job. Though it was small and didn't pay much, he worked at it with all his heart.
A year later, they lost the house. Souko committed suicide. Utau stayed with the Hinamori's, who were, at this point, too poor to take care of both Ikuto and Utau. Ikuto lived on the streets, playing his violin to earn money for himself. Yoru, his guardian chara, was born of his wish to be free from this life.
How could a life that was so perfect become so twisted in such a short time?
Things began looking up for Ikuto when he was approached by his uncle, a man named Kazoumi Hoshina, who offered to let Ikuto stay with him. Ikuto at first wanted to flat out refuse, for Kazoumi was one of the leaders of Easter. However, the poor boy, at this point, was thin and sickly, and had no choice but to accept his offer.
Though Kazoumi was distant and mostly cold, Ikuto's health improved as he stayed with Kazoumi and his son, Hikaru. That is, until Hikaru noticed his chara, and saw Ikuto charanari for the first time with the help of the Dumpty Key, a small memento he kept along with the violin as a reminder of his late father. Hikaru, who was a few years younger than Ikuto but brilliant nonetheless, apparently, told his father, who, in turn, told Easter, who became interested. Ikuto met a representative from Easter, Yuu Nikaido, who could still see charas, though he was an adult. He, along with the help of Hikaru, started a project branch of Easter called "Project Tempest".
Yuu and Hikaru observed Ikuto charanari and chara change, though Ikuto was unknowing of the dark intentions behind the project. They wanted to take the chara bearers and use them as tools for Easter. The Project took a darker turn when they found out about X-eggs. Utau, who had recently got her two charas, came to visit Ikuto one day. She and Ikuto go into a fight and she left, angry. As she went into a nearby park, she sang a dark song, causing people's heart's eggs to turn into X-eggs. Hikaru, who was taking a walk nearby, noticed and went to seek out who had done this. Luckily, Utau quickly fled the scene, scared, and went back to Ikuto to tell him what happened. After she left, Hikaru returned and told Ikuto he wanted him to collect X-eggs. Ikuto finally snapped and left the day he turned thirteen.
This time, he was sure to take care of himself more. He completely covered his tracks, changed his appearance, wore a disguise, and left without a trace.
He was better on his own this time. He made more money, learned to steal a bit, and taught himself the art of surviving alone and hidden.
Hoshina and Nikaido were furious, he knew, though they sent out the word and broadcasted his face everywhere, and made sure everyone knew he was missing. They offered a hefty reward for his return or information of his whereabouts. They said that they didn't know why he want missing, they feared he was kidnapped or forced away. Or so they claimed. He was sure at least Hikaru knew he'd made a run for it.
He made sure to keep track of their progress. They did nothing, for a while. But then, Hikaru finally came to the conclusion that Ikuto feared he would. He'd realized that Utau had the power to make X-eggs. He didn't know how or why she worked with them. He hoped she didn't want to make X-eggs, but he also hoped they weren't forcing her into anything. She came out as a pop idol, calling herself "Butterfly". She always wore a butterfly mask over her face, so no one knew who she was.
He came to her concert once, and managed to talk to her when she was alone. They'd trapped her, she told him. She'd signed a contract, unknowing of their intentions, and moved in with Kazoumi to pursue her career as a pop star. By the time she discovered her role in the Project, it was too late. They also had their eyes on a few other chara bearers in the area, including a close friend of hers, Kukai Souma.
His meeting with his little sister was cut short, but her made her a promise: he'd get her out.
Before he left the area, he made a quick visit to see the twins, who were eight. They greeted him joyously, even crying a bit, after seeing him for the first time in years. Although Amu was mad at him and claimed she hadn't noticed he was gone. She's started developing that "cool n' spicy" façade.
Ikuto knew he had to leave quickly, as people were becoming aware of his presence. He left before anyone noticed it was him, once more melting into the shadows of oblivion.
In the following time, along with Yoru, he'd trained hard, getting himself into top physical condition. In the few times he was recognized by some bystander, he was able to get away with ease. He closely observed Utau's progress, worriedly watching as her eyes, seen through the mask, got sadder and duller after each performance. He couldn't let this happen anymore. Not to his sister, who'd done nothing wrong.
"Ikuto. Wake up." A finger snapped in front of his face.
He cast an irritated glare at the girl, who placed a hand on her hip. "You were spacing out. Again." She glared right back at him.
He chuckled at her attitude, a smirk sliding on to his face. "Sorry, kid." He said, ruffling her hair.
"I'm not a kid!" She yelled, causing a few people to glance at her.
Ikuto placed his hands over her mouth. "Quiet, Amu, or you'll get us arrested."
Her glare sharpened at that, but a blush appeared on her face. He took his hands away.
"Now," He said, placing his hands in his pockets, "what was your question?"
She blinked for a second. "Ah yes," she said after a moment, "pick your hair dye." She held a black dye in her hand. Tadase had brown. Ikuto scanned the shelves. Black? No. Green? Nope. Blue? Tempting, but no. Blonde? Yuck. Red?
Amu followed his gaze. "Red would look okay on you." She said.
He shrugged and plucked it off the shelf. It'd only be for a while, anyway.
"You still have the contacts?" He mumbled quietly. She nodded in reply.
"Alright then, let's go."
They quickly checked out and headed to a hotel. Ikuto paid for a room, and let Amu and Tadase in the back door. They plodded up the stairs to their room, number 213. No sooner had Ikuto unlocked it then a blur of pink whizzed passed them.
"I'm showering first!" Amu shouted childishly.
Tadase chuckled and shook his head at his sister's antics. Ikuto, however, was not having it. He raced after her, snatching her up as she threw open the door. She squeaked in surprise as he lifted her up, tossing her on the bed.
"Not today, kid." He gave her a smirk as he closed the door behind him. Amu refrained from shouting at him, but he knew she'd be fuming.
He quickly showered and dried his hair with a towel, pulling a pair of clean clothes from his bag and putting them on.
He slung the towel around his neck and stepped out. He tossed his dirty clothes in the corner, where they would be washed after Amu and Tadase gathered their own dirty clothes.
He glanced over at one of the two beds and chuckled. Amu was curled up at the foot of the bed, asleep. Her pink hair splayed out about her head, and she gave almost unnoticeable, high pitched snores. Tadase was sitting next to her, watching the television on low volume, absent mindedly stroking his sister's hair as she slept. He glanced over at the desk and saw all the charas napping in a comical pile.
"You can shower now, Tadase." Ikuto told the blond. He nodded, turning off the TV and standing up. He grabbed his bag from the floor and went into the bathroom, giving a small yawn as he went.
Ikuto went over and sat down on the bed next to Amu. He ran a few fingers through her dirty pink hair. This had been the first time in a while they'd been able to stay in a real room, with real beds and running water. Too bad they couldn't stay here longer.
Amu's long eyelashes fluttered, as she opened her golden eyes, still a bit glazed over from sleep. She glanced up, yawning.
"I-Ikuto?" She mumbled quietly. He chuckled.
"I need you to help me with my hair." He told her. She sat up, all traces of sleep now gone.
"Again?! But I've taught you how to do it the last several times!"
He made his saddest face and made his eyes as big as possible. "But I don't feel like it."
She sighed, but smiled. "Fine. Go over to the sink."
He obeyed, standing up. He grabbed the box of red hair dye from the shopping bag, handing it to Amu. Pulling a chair from the corner, he placed it before the sink, kneeling down and bending his head over.
Amu turned on the water, as she got his hair damp again.
She ran her fingers through his hair carefully, getting it thoroughly wet. Then she opened the package and took out the dye, mixing it into his hair. He closed his eyes as he enjoyed the sensation of her hands massaging his hair.
After washing his hair out, Amu turned off the water. Ikuto sat up in the chair, and Amu towel dried his now red hair. It was quite messy when she finished, and she snatched an old black hairbrush from her backpack and combed it out.
"There!' She smiled when she was finished. "It doesn't look half bad!"
Ikuto glanced in the mirror. It was… quite different.
He shrugged. "it's okay." A sudden idea occurred to him, and he smiled mischievously. Amu was too busy admiring his new hair to notice.
He quickly leaned forward and grabbed her, pulling her down into his lap. She yelped in surprise.
"Thank you, Amu." He said as he hugged her tight.
Suddenly the door slammed open, and an angry, now brown-haired Tadase stomped out.
"Tsukiyomi Ikuto!" He shouted, pointing an accusing finger at said male, "Unhand my sister immediately!"
Amu giggled as Ikuto scowled. "He seems to have an Ikuto radar."
He sighed heavily, but released Amu anyway. She immediately grabbed her backpack and raced to the shower with a grin on her still flushed face.
"Don't forget to order Pizza!" She shouted as she slammed the door.
Tadase and Ikuto immediately took up a glaring contest. Standing up and yawning, Ikuto walked to the bed and seated himself on it, neither breaking eye contact.
Tadase seated himself on the edge of the opposite bed, staring at him.
Ikuto sighed he picked up the phone. "Yo. Get over your sister complex, Kiddy King."
He immediately became flustered, his face heating up much like Amu's. Their blushing was a trait they both shared. He averted his eyes.
"I do not have a sister complex." He stated firmly in a harsh tone of voice. "I am protective."
Ikuto chuckled, having won the glaring contest, and rolled over on the bed.
They heard the water of the shower stop, and Amu walked out, her hair now black. She added her dirty clothes to the pile, and went to sit on the bed next to Tadase. The door rang just as she had seated herself.
"I'll get it." Ikuto said, standing. He strode towards entrance hallway, pulling out some money from his pocket. He opened the door, seeing a man standing there with two boxes of pizza in his hands. Ikuto paid the man and shut the door, coming back into the room.
Tadase and Amu's eyes lit up, practically sparkling at the sight. It'd been a long time since they had pizza, or any warm, delicious food for that matter. Ikuto chuckled at their practically drooling faces.
He sat down on the bed and reached a hand out towards the desk. He brushed the pile of sleeping guardian charas off the flat surface to place the pizza down.
A large, sudden chorus of squeals and screams were heard as the charas crashed downwards. They landed on the floor in an even more humorous position than before, eyes wide in fear. Ikuto smirked.
"Ikuto! What was the for, nya?!" A furious voice shouted upwards.
"This is outrageous! Who would dare to treat the king in this manner?!"
Amu and Tadase got up and ran to the charas.
"Girls! Are you okay?" Amu asked as she gathered her would-be-selves in her arms. She gave Yoru a pat on the head as an apology. The cat character floated up to his bearer's face.
"That hurt nya!"
"Why'd you do that, Ikuto?!" Amu demanded at the same time.
He met both with the same blank look. "They were in the way." He deadpanned.
Amu rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Let's just eat."
They ate quickly and quietly, Amu and Tadase stuffing their faces with as much of the delicious delicacy as they could and readied themselves for bed. Ikuto went to wash the laundry while Amu and Tadase turned off the lights. At last they were tucked in, comfortable and warm. Amu sighed in happiness and bliss, snuggling further into the soft sheets.
"Goodnight, everyone." She mumbled sleepily.
"Goodnight, Amu." Tadase echoed back, while Ikuto just grunted in reply.
The next morning, Ikuto awoke bright and early. He took a shower, dressed, and left the apartment, leaving the twins a note.
He pulled up the hood of his jacket, hiding his face, and wore a pair of sunglasses for extra measure as he walked the early morning streets. Though it wasn't quite time to leave for work or school, there were some early birds awake, going into coffee shops or slipping into stores to make a quick stop before they started their day.
He shoved his hands in his pockets as he strolled along, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, slouching a bit to hide his tall stature.
He headed downtown, towards a small hole-in-the-wall ramen shop that Utau used to frequent when they were children. It was an unspoken agreement between he and she: they would always meet there.
The bell tinkled as he opened the shop, and he slowly scanned his eyes through the joint while appearing casual. The place was almost empty, with only a few guests dotting the tables and counter.
At the counter was a girl, a thick black sweater coating her feminine form, with a black diamond hat encasing her hair, leaving only her bangs hanging out. She hunched over her ramen bowl, the shadows working together with her glasses to shade her eyes.
He strolled over.
"Hi there. Do you mind if I sit with you?" He said in a friendly tone, placing a disarming smile on his face.
She glanced up at him, giving no visible reaction to his presence.
"Sure." She muttered, and he seated himself beside her.
The cook arrived, and Ikuto ordered a basic dish before sending him away.
"Ikuto." The girl muttered in a quiet voice for only him to hear.
"Utau." He murmured in return.
"Is everything okay?"
"We're alright, and everything is going forward as we planned."
She nodded, and slurped up some more noodles as the cook came back, placing a bowl in front of her brother.
"How is Nagi?" He asked.
"Not infected, but a bit ruffed up." She answered. "You'll have to get him somewhere safe."
He nodded. "Everything is arranged."
They both took more bites, indulging in the warm, flavorful noodles. They appeared to be deep in thought, if not a little troubled.
"It's… good to see you again." Utau whispered, her voice turning gentle. "I missed you."
He resisted the urge to comfort her, to give her a brotherly hug and tell her it'd be all right.
"I missed you as well." He returned. "I'm glad you're all right."
He finished his bowl and placed it down with a few bills.
"See you, stranger." He said once more in normal volume with the same friendly tone, before striding out.
He paused on the street and sighed, running a hand through his blue locks.
"A break would be nice." He said to himself, before turning and making his way back to the hotel.