As the Wind Blows
A Cardfight! Vanguard one-shot
Summary: Having lost his bond with Vanguard, the game he so desperately clung to and loved, Kai felt he had been missing something. One exceptional night, however, is about to show him what that something is – and how he can get it back. Third person; spoilers for Cardfight! Vanguard V Arc 2 and Dimension (Arc 3).
Planet Cray – Kagero, Dragon Empire
He wasn't in the middle of a Vanguard fight, and the fate of the world, as far as he knew, was just fine. Yet the ferocious wind surrounded Kai. Ferocious, yet . . . comforting in a way. Looking around the wasteland that laid before him, he cautiously walked, taking in the gravelly sound of his feet against the ground, the wind furiously enveloping him with the contrast of the calm of the landscape before him.
He remembered this sensation from when he fought Aichi, and his Psyqualia had awakened. He had said he didn't need this power, that he was strong on his own.
Was he dreaming of that time again? Was he that desperate to experience the Vanguard he once enjoyed and . . . and even loved that his own memories are playing tricks on him and showing him this dream? Kai couldn't help but chuckle, thinking how far his mental state had deteriorated since losing to Ibuki.
"Huh. He really thinks it's a dream, huh?" a voice – that eerily resembled Aichi's, only slightly higher pitched - sounded. Kai jumped, hastily looking for the origin of the comment but not seeing it. Sleep deprived, going back in time, and hearing voices of people – beings? – who can read his thoughts? Ibuki's Deletors did more mental damage than he thought –
"In front of you, Kaaaaaaaai-kun," the voice spoke up again. Kai forced his gaze straight ahead, and he made no attempt to hide his shock from what he saw, probably also due to the sleep deprivation. In front of him was a boy who, head to toe, looked exactly like Aichi, black and red Miyaji uniform and everything. But, there was one difference, Kai figured out. Aichi would never make that mocking expression in front of anyone. That's just not like him. Then again, there was so much Kai didn't know about Aichi. So, he had to be sure.
"You're . . . you're Aichi, aren't you?" the brunet asked, his heart pounding.
The boy cocked his head to the side and shrugged his shoulders. "I might look like him. I might sound like him. But, too bad for you, I'm not him. Sorry to disappoint."
The way the Aichi lookalike the other had said "too bad for you," the way he assumed what he wanted irked him. What's that supposed to mean? Sure, he had a close bond with Aichi, but it's not like he wanted to spend every waking moment with him.
"Never mind that," Kai said evenly. "If you're not Aichi, then who are you and what the heck is going on in this dream?"
Bringing a hand to his forehead, the other replied, "Bold of you to assume this is a dream." He sighed. "Whatever. Instead of giving you all the convenient exposition at once, it'd be easier to just show you who I am." The Aichi lookalike hopped off one of the rocks he was sitting on and motioned for Kai to follow him, which he did. It's not like he had anything else to do. Or could do, for that matter.
As the pair continued onward on their journey, Kai felt beads of sweat trickling down his neck. He hoped wherever they were going, there'd be water. His companion appeared to adjust to the drastic change in temperature just fine, though. They walked past the fiery landscape, filled with active volcano geysers and smoke billowing from every direction. Oddly enough, the farther they walked, the less dehydrated Kai felt, which confused him. But, considering his companion wasn't in the explanatory mood, he kept that question to himself.
At last, the Aichi lookalike stopped, and the brunet took that to mean that they had in fact arrived at their intended destination. He looked up to see an overpowering black door that was decorated with flames of all colors and emblazoned with what appeared to be a symbol – the Kagero clan symbol, Kai recognized.
"Yeesh, he asks me to bring you here, and he doesn't leave the door open? The nerve . . ." His companion sighed.
"Oh, you'll meet him soon enough," the other replied. "Wait here."
"Not like I can go anywhere else," replied Kai, to which his companion smirked and floated through the entrance. Kai took a step back in surprise. His companion was a ghost? That couldn't be right, could it? Still, he waited for the Aichi lookalike to return.
Or, maybe not. It wasn't long before the door of flames opened to him, revealing a long, dark tunnel filled with lit torches, and the voice of his companion rang out, "Alright, wait's up. You can come through." The brunet stuffed his hands in the pockets of his knee-length black basketball shorts and made his way inside, the torches which were slightly above his head being his only source of light. He heard the door close behind him, so he sighed, realizing there was no going back. After being alone with the sound of the drip, drip, drip of the droplets of water behind the walls and the sound of his breathing for what seemed like an eternity, jagged rocks, lava geysers, and several Vanguard units he recognized – who bowed ever so slightly at his arrival - greeted him.
"Aermo. Bahr. Genjo. Raopia," Kai gasped, as each of the units, when named, lifted their heads slightly.
"Hey, don't forget the head cheese of this place," his companion's voice sounded. He looked straight ahead, finding a red dragon with yellow and red claw-tipped wings towering over the rest of the units. At the sight, Kai felt a pang in his chest, overcome by a sensation, a feeling he'd been lacking ever since the fight with Ibuki: joy.
"Over . . . lord . . ."
The dragon bellowed and dropped down to a knee in response. Taking a few steps closer, Kai closed the gap between the two and reached out to touch Dragonic Overlord, gently rubbing the top of his head, which was surprisingly smooth. It really was him. It really was his Vanguard, the one who carried him through his tumultuous childhood, along with the rest of Kagero. He had dreams as a child of meeting the units, and, if this really wasn't a dream, this was a dream come true.
Kai's companion floated next to him. "Overlord normally doesn't let anyone touch him, so consider yourself lucky," he said, sighing and with his arms crossed.
Overlord growled in annoyance in response, but Kai continued to pet him, and Dragonic Overlord stopped growling at once and made a noise almost like that of an older cat's. Kai couldn't help but laugh at his companion's remark. That would explain why Dragonic Overlord was his Vanguard. Both of them liked and needed their space.
"But, yeesh, where is he? I go through all the trouble to call you and he's not even here?" the Aichi lookalike asked. "What's he doing? Overlord, do you know?"
The dragon grunted in response, and Kai had absolutely no idea what he said, but his companion seemed to and whatever the answer was, it seemed like good news.
"Oh, good. Took him long enough."
Kai couldn't take this mystery any longer. His companion had said he would meet this mysterious "he" soon enough, but how long is soon enough? And who is "he?"
"Well, since he's taking his time in getting here, mind telling me who you're talking about?" Kai finally asked, making no effort to hide the impatience in his voice. Before his companion could open his mouth to speak, a strong wind filled the area, causing everyone – Kai included – to hold their ground.
"Yup, he's here," his companion said. Whoever he was had a thing for drama, it seemed. Dragonic Overlord turned to face the backside of the cave they were in, on which had appeared a portal of some kind made of fire. Kai watched as a ball of stars popped out of the portal and took shape, a shape similar to that of a human's. First, the legs. The arms. Fingers. Face. Hair. Until, finally, the long-awaited guest had fully-formed.
And he looked just like Kai.
"What the heck?" Kai blurted out. His traveling companion howled with laughter while those of the Kagero clan looked on. The Kai lookalike, surveying the commotion, sighed.
"You didn't tell him," he spoke, focusing his intense, burning gaze on Kai, who took a small step backward.
His companion shrugged his shoulders. "I thought it'd be easier to just show him rather than bore him with the details," Kai's companion said. "He's human, you know."
The Kai lookalike looked into the brunet's eyes for a handful of minutes before he floated downwards, feet touching the floor. Kai looked around to see the Kagero units genuflecting, as they had done when he had arrived. Just who was this person? Or being, rather. It seemed that he was the only human in the room.
"Which leaves me to do the explaining. Very well," the lookalike sighed. A huff could be heard on the other side of the space. "Come with me, Kai. Dragonic Overlord, you too."
Kai glanced at his avatar, Dragonic Overlord at his Vanguard, and the two followed him past the wall and into a secluded space, surrounded by white light. Their guide threw his arms backwards. As a result, the room turned dark, revealing only a view of what appeared to be the Planet Cray, the moon, and Earth along with another planet Kai didn't recognize. The three had a thread of blue, purple, white and pink light woven through each, connecting them.
"What-What is this?" Kai breathed. Not that he believed fully anything he saw so far, but he couldn't believe his eyes.
"You witnessed the fight between Aichi and Takuto under the influence of Planet Brandt's leader, Destiny Conductor," he mentioned. "so you know of Cray and Earth's relationship."
"Kinda, yeah," Kai replied, not sure where his guide was headed with that question.
"And, you're familiar with Psyqualia, yes?"
Kai stood up a little straighter, his shoulders a tad higher.
"Thought so," the lookalike replied. "All Psyqualia users, when awakened on Earth, have two selves – the earthen self who participate in Vanguard fights on Earth and the pure form Psyqualia self who takes on the appearance of the user and resides in the homeland of the user's clan on Cray. We were created on what you humans call the moon, but thanks to a mortal error of the Concert Master before this last one, we became an intricate link connecting the three and now Brandt as well."
"Wait, does that mean he . . . ?" Kai started to ask but cut himself off once he realized the answer to his question.
"Yes," the guide answered anyway. "The one who looks like Sendou Aichi, the one who led you here is Aichi's pure form Psyqualia. I had him call you and bring you here."
"If that's the case, then are you –" Kai started to say.
"I'm your pure form Psyqualia, yes."
The brunet couldn't help but laugh a little harder than he usually did, with Dragonic Overlord looking on. He had his doubts about any of what he'd experienced being real. That answer just proved them right.
"That-That can't be right," he said, breathless from his laughing. "I renounced Psyqualia. I said I didn't need the power. Even if I had that connection, my bond to Vanguard . . ." Kai winced, ". . . to Cray's been severed. There's no way."
His lookalike only stared at Kai and crossed his arms. "'I think, therefore I am,' huh? Don't underestimate Psyqualia. Once we're awakened, we can exist with or without you humans. Our power is not to be underestimated."
Kai raised an eyebrow. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"To put it simply, even if you don't use it, even if you choose to not take its power, your Psyqualia form still exists. From the moment the power manifests within you, it comes into being and exists for the lifetime of the wielder," he explained.
Kai bit the bottom of his lip. He couldn't abandon Psyqualia even if he wanted to. And that would explain why Ren still had his, despite his lack of interest in using it. Much like . . . Much like his tie – albeit weak – to Vanguard.
"And, yes, the Deletors did quite a number on you, didn't they?" the lookalike nodded. "But, not all hope is lost."
Kai gasped. There was a solution to his problem? "What do you mean?"
"Even if the bond to Vanguard happens to be damaged or even destroyed, each clan has its own way of restoring that bond. And, if the person who has the damaged or destroyed bond possesses Psyqualia, we Psyqualia can help as well," came the reply.
Rather than feeling joy at hearing the news, Kai instead became irritated – not at his Psyqualia but with the whole situation.
"What's taking so long then?" Kai interjected. "It's been months and I still struggle to play Vanguard, enjoy the game like I once did, to imagine myself here. It's. It's embarrassing." The boy looked downward at the view of Cray, Earth, the Moon, and Brandt.
"I understand your frustration," said the Psyqualia lifeform. "I'm just as annoyed as you are, believe me. But, sadly, Kagero was one of the clans hit hardest during the war, so the effort is more focused on rebuilding the area. So, it may be a little while longer before your bond is fully restored."
"That can't be . . ." Kai muttered, clutching his chest.
Feeling a nudge on the side of his face, he turned to find Dragonic Overlord, having shrunk to the size of a stuffed animal and taken his place on his shoulder.
"Overlord, you can do that?" Kai asked in surprise. The small Overlord grumbled and nodded, nuzzling up to the boy, who, in turn, massaged the top of his head with two of his fingers. The dragon roared happily, but it was clear something was bothering him still, as his eyes narrowed and head moved downward. Kai could only guess that he, as the main unit of the clan, felt responsible for what happened to him.
"Yes, it's not just me who's frustrated. It's all of your units," said Kai's companion. "Especially Dragonic Overlord."
A wave of sadness overwhelmed Kai. His struggle to get back into Vanguard wasn't hurting only him. It was hurting his deck, his trusted companions, the ones who got him through thick and thin, and they were fighting to get him back as much as he's struggling to return to the game he loved.
"Isn't there anything-anything I can do?" Kai asked, his voice cracking.
"That's . . ." The expression on Kai's Psyqualia's face mirrored Kai's in response, and the small Dragonic Overlord gave a low grumble, which again sounded much like a cat purring. Kai looked at the miniature form of his avatar and rubbed the top of his head with his pointer finger, which made the dragon content, if only for a short while.
"As long . . ." Kai's Psyqualia said, " . . . as long as you don't abandon Vanguard. As long as you keep playing, that bond will return, stronger than before. Believe in us, the Kagero Clan, and . . . believe in yourself, Kai Toshiki. Believe in your power, your existence."
A short laugh escaped from Kai's lips. "Really? Is that all? Well, if that's so simple, then why am I still -"
"I'm sure I can start over."
Kai jerked his head upward, with Dragonic Overlord holding on. "Those words . . ."
". . . are what you told Ibuki after your bond was severed," replied the lookalike. "You've already started the healing process. Just keep on that path, and stay with your friends. They'll help you." Kai's Psyqualia looked at the floor below them, still showing a view of Earth, Cray, Brandt, and the Moon. Under his breath, he said, "As a matter of fact, one of them already has," but Kai heard it.
"What do you mean?" Kai interjected, but the other refused to give an answer. Instead, he waved an arm, opening a door behind them. He, his Psyqualia, and Dragonic Overlord walked out and found the rest of Kagero – as well as Aichi's Psyqualia – expectantly waiting. Aichi's Psyqualia smirked and made his way next to Kai, wrapping an arm around him. "So, did that answer your many burning questions? No pun intended."
Kai returned a smirk in response and closed his eyes. "It did, for the most part. And I finally get that this isn't a dream, but . . ."
"I still have trouble believing a brat like you is Aichi's Psyqualia."
Aichi's Psyqualia crossed his arms and huffed, which incited snickering on part of the present Kagero units. Even Kai's Psyqualia, who had seemed incapable of strong emotions up until that very moment, laughed.
"He's a handful, isn't he? Unfortunately, that's just how he is," he said.
"Oh, shut it, will ya?" Aichi's Psyqualia interjected. "I'm a delight, thank you very much –"
"Delightfully annoying," Kai's Psyqualia dismissed him, which made the other even more irritated, with the Kagero units doubling even more over with laughter. "But, enough about him. We need to get you back to Earth, Kai."
At that, Kai's face fell. He hadn't felt this disappointed, this hurt to be leaving somewhere, since he was tossed around from relative to relative as a child. It was a strange feeling, to him, but, on Planet Cray, he felt more at home than he'd ever been on Earth, even if he was the only human, even if his time there had been relatively short. Kagero . . . they were a family to him, a family he didn't ever, ever want to lose. But, humans weren't meant to stay on Cray forever, he guessed.
But, as long as he had Vanguard, even with a weak bond, he was still connected to them. At least that was some consolation.
And maybe. Maybe he could find a home on Earth too.
"Kai?" his Psyqualia asked as if he had been trying to get his attention for the last couple of seconds. The brunet jumped, having been jolted out of his train of thought, and noticed Overlord had hopped off his shoulder and become his full height once again.
"Sorry," Kai mumbled. "But, before I go, I want to say something to these guys first."
Kai looked up, staring directly at each of the units gathered. He took a deep breath. "I know . . ." he started, "I know I've mentioned this before, when Psyqualia manifested for me, but I'm incredibly grateful for all of you. I don't know how long it'll take for my connection to Vanguard to fully heal, but I'll do my best to come back to you guys as soon as I can. I'll pay you back. I promise."
One of the units who had a human-like red face with blue eyes and fiery red hair but the body and tail of a dragon – whom Kai recognized as Flame of Hope, Aermo – stepped forward, and bowed his head ever so slightly. "No need to pay us back, my Vanguard," he said. "Your coming here has already done that and more, so we'll support you as best we can here. Just keep fighting, okay?"
"Aermo . . ." Kai looked up to see the other units nodding in unison. He looked back at Dragonic Overlord, who gave a slight nod. Closing his eyes, Kai fought back tears, much to his surprise. He usually wasn't this emotional.
"Okay, time's up, we need to get ya outta here," Aichi's Psyqualia announced. At that moment, Kai was enveloped in a bright light, filled with purples and pinks and blues. He took one last look at the units – his units – closed his eyes again and smiled, letting the tears escape this time.
"I'll come back, I promise."
Planet Earth – Kai Toshiki's Apartment
When Kai woke up, it was still nighttime; the pitch-black, moon-absent darkness gripped his bedroom, and the only light source was the red time on his alarm clock. He groggily turned over to check: 3 A.M. He still had more time to sleep before he had to get up for school. It was a good thing too, as the journey from Cray back to Earth had taken an unexpected physical toll on his body, particularly his chest.
But, when the boy eyed his deck next the clock, without thinking, he reached for and gripped it. His friends from Cray were here, and they were supporting him. They knew how much pain he was going through, having been separated from Vanguard, and they also were suffering just as much as he was. Neither of them had to go through this alone, though. As long as the card game existed, they could reach each other somehow, someway.
Holding the deck closer to him, as a young child would hold a stuffed animal, Kai went back to sleep.
~The Next Day~ Planet Earth - Card Capital
"Not bad, Miwa," Kai commented, placing a card in the damage zone, having survived an onslaught of attacks somehow and limiting his damage to one.
Miwa let a short laugh escape. "Not so bad yourself! You sure improved over the last 24 hours. But, on my next turn, you're still done."
Kai surveyed the board, noting his overwhelming disadvantage. "Maybe so. I draw." The brunet ripped a card from the top of his deck, and, upon looking at it, smiled.
"Flame of apocalypse that burns away everything in this world! Ride the Vanguard! Dragonic Overlord!"
Kai hadn't noticed, but the rest of the shop as well as Miwa were all staring at him incredulously. Once Kai had placed his unit on the table in the Vanguard circle, though, he sensed all the stares in his direction, including Miwa's.
"What?" he asked in an annoyed tone.
Miwa coughed and replied, "Wel-Well, it's just. You sounded like your old self just now, and it really surprised me."
"My old self, huh?" Kai glanced at his Vanguard and smiled. "I guess you could say that."
Miwa made a "heh?" sound as a response. "Sounds like something happened yesterday after our match."
Would Miwa believe that Kai was teleported to the Planet Cray, met his Psyqualia self and Aichi's, and some of the Kagero clan? Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn't. But, Kai didn't feel like explaining the whole thing in detail, so he just shrugged his shoulders. Maybe he would tell it to him one day.
"It's a long story."
Planet Cray – Royal Paladin, United Sanctuary
Aichi's Psyqualia floated his way through the pristine white halls of United Sanctuary, filled with statues of dragons and busts of the Royal Paladin greats, including one of the current ruler Monarch Sanctuary Alfred. He'd been going back and forth between United Sanctuary and Dragon Empire for a while, but he could never get used to how different Kagero and United Sanctuary were in atmosphere. The Dragon Empire definitely fit his aesthetic more in addition to the clan tolerating his jokes just a little more, but it's not that he wished he belonged to that clan.
After all, he wouldn't trade being that kid's Psyqualia counterpart for the world. Aichi had guts under that soft exterior, and he liked people who had guts.
"Ah, here we are," he said when he saw the stained glass rotunda and the tall, white thrones. Seated on the main throne in the middle were, of course, Monarch Sanctuary Alfred. Standing to his left was Blaster Blade with King of Knights Alfred sitting to the right. Aichi's Psyqualia floated his way through the main corridor and towards the three nobles gathered, placing a hand across his chest and genuflecting to acknowledge the three nobles.
"I appreciate the welcome back party," he said. "I was just expecting the big cheese Alfie and Bladey, so this is a real treat."
Blaster Blade gave a sigh of what Aichi's Psyqualia could only guess as irritation – it was the usual reaction from him – and said, "Can you at least be more respectful? You're talking to the rulers of not just United Sanctuary but all of Planet Cray."
He crossed his arms and harrumphed. "You're no fun, Bladey."
"It's Blaster Blade."
"Enough," Monarch Sanctuary Alfred interrupted the two, his booming voice echoing throughout the throne room, sending a chill down Psyqualia's non-existent spine. No wonder he didn't talk much, Psyqualia realized. He can't talk in a normal pitch. "Psyqualia, I trust that you completed your task, yes?"
Aichi's Psyqualia once again genuflected, facing the floor, and smiling. "Aichi's Psyqualia checking in. The Vanguard's prayer has been received, delivered, and answered."
Planet Earth – Card Capital
A high school boy wearing the red and black Miyaji Academy high school uniform walked into the shop and was immediately greeted by the chirping of the card shop's resident black and white cat who was sitting on the counter, swishing his tail back and forth.
"Hello, Sub-Manager," Aichi greeted the cat, gently patting him, and the cat meowed again and closed his eyes, indicating his approval. His time with Sub-Manager was cut short, however, when he heard the grumbling and cheering towards the back of the shop. Turning in the direction of the noise, he saw a crowd of people gathered at one of the tables.
"What's going on back there?" Aichi mumbled to himself. At that moment, a man with a blue apron with a yellow "CC", green hair, and thick-rimmed glasses appeared, carrying a box. Noticing Aichi, he said, "Ah, welcome, Aichi-kun."
"Shin-san, what's going on?" Aichi asked.
"Well, why don't you go on and look for yourself?" was the reply. "You might find something very interesting."
"Ehhhh," Aichi replied. That definitely didn't answer his question. Nonetheless, he did as Shin-san suggested and walked over to the table with the crowd of people, but still couldn't see all that well because of his height, so he gently pushed his way through the crowd.
"Excuse me. Pardon me," Aichi muttered, pushing past one taller person after another until he managed to get to the front. What he saw was more than interesting.
"K-Kai-kun?" Aichi couldn't help but blurt out.
The brunet, who had his back to the boy, turned to face him, his expression changing from wonder to a soft smile. "Hi, Aichi."
"Oh, Aichi!" his blond opponent shouted out. "Get this, I think Kai's coming back around to Vanguard."
"Miwa," Kai hissed. Turning back to Aichi, he said, "I still have a ways to go, but . . ." he smiled, his eyes closed, "it's easier for me to get through a fight without feeling exhausted, so . . . It's a start, right?"
Aichi could feel tears forming in the back of his eyes, and he dug his fingernails into his palms to keep from crying, but a few managed to escape and run down his face. His prayer – that Kai-kun's bond to Vanguard could start to be healed– had really been answered. And he couldn't have been happier.
"That's right, Kai-kun!"
A/N: My first "full-length" (As in 3000+ words) CFV fic in almost five years! PARTY! \ .D. / Anyway, if Aichi can somehow heal from having his bond to Vanguard severed by Ibuki "Bukbuk-chan" Kouji b/c ~bonds of Vanguard~, then Kaikun deserves the same courtesy Bushi. Hmph. Kaikun acts like a decent main protag in the reboot and making him suffer even more is how Bushi treats him? Unacceptable. Give him back his Vanguard bond, you cowards.
So yeah, that was the main motivation behind this fic kdsajflsdjfa. I've worked 3 weeks, give or take, on this, so I definitely appreciate feedback. :) Thanks for reading!
Hakase Fudo - June 1, 2019