Chapter 1: Sunset

It was a beautiful night with a shining full moon.

A child with gray eyes and short gray hair was sitting on a grassy hill, looking at the moon. He was at a loss of words, bewildered by the gentle radiance before his eyes, but he felt at peace, as the broad smile on his face conveyed.

However, the enchantment slowly wore off as the child averted his eyes and looked on a nearby lake surrounded by white roses and lotus flowers, in which the moonlight was reflected.

Looking in the watery mirror, he noticed something strange, something unfamiliar and slightly unsettling…

"Hey! Kazuki!"

The boy jolted back to his senses. He looked like he had just come back from a trance.

"What were you thinking about? You were dazed again..." his friend asked. He was slightly taller than him and had black hair and brown eyes.

"Sorry, Shun. I was immersed in a memory of my childhood… Thanks for waking me up..." His head was slightly hung as he pronounced the words with a low, apologetic tone of voice. He and his friend were on the bridge that stood over a pond in Misaki Park.

"No problem." the young man beside him answered "Just make sure you tone it down a bit. You do have a brilliant mind, but you have to learn to keep it in check. I think you've been staring at the moonlight for too much, kid!".

"Hey! I resent that!" the gray-haired boy replied, offended.

"Keep your claws down." his friend warned. "Otherwise you might do things that you will come to regret… You've been told this many times, haven't you?"

"Yeah, indeed..." Kazuki's expression began showing signs of intense sadness and pent-up anger "But the truth is, I regret more what I wasn't capable of doing, rather than what I have done..."

"Kazuki..." murmured the black-haired man.

"I wasn't capable of doing what I had to do..." Kazuki looked like he was on the verge of tears. "If I had only managed to do it, things would be most certainly different..."

"Stop it." said his friend. "Stop thinking about it."

"Shun..." Kazuki sadly whispered. He stood silent for a couple of minutes, then spoke "Sorry..."

"Ranting about it wouldn't change anything." Shun said "It would only worry me, or her… You should be more considerate of others' feelings. That's what she would say...".

"I know..." the gray-haired boy answered "But it isn't easy when you're in pain..."

"Yeah, that's true..." Shun said. "The best that we can do is to keep doing our best."

"That's right." said Kazuki, his expression lightened up a bit.

"Speaking of which..." Shun teased, a little smile on his face "I won't ask you how school is going, because that would be obvious."

"You flatter me." Kazuki replied "You shouldn't do that. You know that I might flunk one day or another because of that?"

"Nah." Shun shrugged off his friend's answer "You're hardly the type of guy who would do such a thing."

"I don't know if we should be that sure about that..." the gray-haired boy replied.

"You're the one who's not sure." said Shun "And I know for a fact that it is not a good thing."

Kazuki wasn't all that compliant with those words "You might be right..." he said "But being too sure, to the point of becoming reckless, is not a good thing either."

"Understandable." said Shun, that faint smile appearing once again on his normally serious face.

"Well then, thanks for the chat, Shun!" Kazuki smiled broadly before heading home.

"Take care!" Shun replied.

The house Kazuki Aokage lived in wasn't too far from the park, so the gray-haired boy arrived there in about half an hour.

"I'm home!" he said as he entered, knowing that there was someone waiting for him inside.

"Welcome home, Kazuki-kun!" a girl with long red hair and bright teal eyes greeted the boy with a warm smile.

"Hello, Sayaka!" he replied happily.

Sayaka Inoue was his childhood friend. They had known each other from elementary school. She would often come to his house so that she could greet him and help him with his dinner.

"So, how did school go today?" she asked, with that infectious, sweet smile still on her face.

"Today I had a Chemistry test." he answered, the same smile on his own face.

"Nice! How do you think it went?"

"I hope well. It made me think, everything around us is more complex than we might think..."

"Yeah, that's true..." she murmured, thoughtfully.

"It's definitely not the only thing capable of sparking such thoughts, though..." his expression became serious. By seeing him, Sayaka stopped smiling as well. A moment of silence passed.

"Besides that, there's not much else to say, really. How did your day go, Sayaka?" the boy decided to break the silence and resume talking.

"Oh, just fine, thanks! Even though sadly today wasn't very eventful..." She sighed.

"If I were you, I would be thankful for that." Kazuki said "No one likes the pressure that imminent events like this produce..."

"I know." the girl replied, her teal eyes moved down as she moved a strand of her long red hair behind her ear. "I'm just sad that we don't have much to talk about today..."

"Sayaka..." the boy couldn't but be moved by that display of affection "You know I'm more of a quiet guy, so don't worry." He gazed at her tenderly.

"Kazuki-kun…" she noticed and returned the gaze, with a reassuring smile. Then, suddenly, she remembered something.

"Oh right! You can use the bathroom, after then, would you mind terribly in helping me out with dinner?"

"Of course not!" Kazuki replied as he headed to the bathroom to wash himself.

After he washed himself, he went in the kitchen to help out Sayaka with her cooking. "Today I'll cook your favourite dish, Kazuki-kun!"

"You're far too kind, Sayaka..." the gray-haired boy sighed.

"Oh don't worry! It's my pleasure!" she replied brightly.

"I don't think I deserve all of this kindness, Sayaka..." Sometimes this thought would pop into his head.

As they ate, the two childhood friends chatted some more

"Sayaka, how do your parents do?" Kazuki asked, with a tone of slight concern.

"Oh, they're fine." she replied

"And what about your aunt?" This time the gray-haired boy sounded even more concerned.

"She seems to be all right. She's always a little gloomy when I see her, but she says it's nothing. She's always like that..."

"Hmmm..." Kazuki seemed unconvinced. "Your parents have told me that when she sees you her spirits lift up. Stay close to her, you know how she is..."

"I understand, Kazuki-kun..." the girl replied. They both knew that her aunt was loving, as well as fragile. "But I don't think we should stress this too much, either..."

"That's true..." the boy agreed.

Before leaving, Sayaka handed a little present to her friend, an origami made by her.

"Here, it's for you!" Sayaka gave it to Kazuki with a smile. It was an owl-shaped origami. Sayaka has been practicing the origami art for a long time. She loved their symbolic value.

"I'm sorry it isn't very polished, but I wanted to give it to you..." She apologized.

"It's beautiful! Thanks, Sayaka!" Kazuki smiled back.

"I think it represents you..." the girl added "The owl has always been your favourite animal, hasn't it?"

"Yeah, that's right." Kazuki replied, still smiling. Sayaka finally headed off "See you tomorrow, Kazuki-kun!"

The two friends waved each other goodbye with the promise of seeing each other again the next day.

With that, Kazuki went to his room and lied down in his bed, but he didn't fall fast asleep. He gazed at the ceiling, lost in his thoughts. He rose his right hand above him. It started glowing of a crystal blue light, faint, yet intense. That light was very familiar to him.

"Not an eventful day, huh?" he muttered to himself. "Sayaka… I'm thankful that today wasn't an eventful day..."

After saying those words, he slowly slipped from the coil of his running thoughts and drifted off to sleep…

A bittersweet sleep...