Characters and situations presented in Angelic Layer created and owned by CLAMP and Tokyopop. Characters and situations presented in Rozen Maiden created and owned by Peach Pit.
The whisper escaped his lips almost subconsciously, but it was true, he realized. He had witnessed magic first-hand, and now was a witness to technology's ability to recreate that sense of wonder he had felt for over a decade and a half—not that he had felt that way at first, he thought, grinning wryly to himself.
Carefully picking up his Angel—a doll, yet so much more than any ordinary doll, as he well knew—Sakurada Jun walked over to the door of the private practice room he had rented. While he knew that his Angel, unlike its namesake, would not object to being carried improperly, he almost automatically settled it against the crook of his arm before opening the door. A minor commotion at one of the public practice Layers drew his attention as he exited the soundproofed room, and he wandered over to it to see what was going on.
The cause became obvious once he looked at the Layer; a small Angel with curly, shoulder-length blonde hair and unevenly—though, judging by the look on its Deus's face as it fought, lovingly—stitched clothing was squaring off against one of the more…infamous competitors who frequented this particular store. Jun had never seen the Deus, a primary-school girl with a naggingly familiar face, before, so he doubted she was aware of her opponent's tendency to fight on the very edge of legal play, sometimes skating over the line into outright cheating.
Unfortunately, unless it was an official tournament game, the Piffle Princess workers were powerless to do any more than scowl at the offending Deus unless her opponent complained—hence her propensity for challenging newcomers, who likely would not be aware of the rules themselves. It was pathetic, in Jun's opinion, nothing more than schoolyard bullying, but until now he had been in no position to object. Perhaps, though, that had changed; he would have to watch and see.
As the match progressed, though, it became clear that the local Deus, one Moritake Ayame, would win easily even without needing to resort to illegal means. It was obviously the first time the owner of the blonde Angel had fought a match, and she was doing about as well as could be expected of someone in her position—which was to say, she showed promise simply by managing to keep from being outright defeated in the first few minutes. Nonetheless, Jun winced as he watched Ayame's tall, black-haired Angel land a punishing hammer-blow to the side of the blonde Angel's head, forcing it back almost to the edge of the Layer.
Rather than take the easy victory via Layer-Out, though, Ayame directed her Angel through a crude judo throw that sent its opponent back towards the Layer's center, following up with a vicious crescent kick that likely would have broken a human's neck. The younger Deus appeared almost ready to cry as she watched her Angel absorb hit after hit, its power meter dropping inevitably towards zero. Finally, after what seemed like forever to Jun, the blonde Angel was down to less than five percent power despite all its attempts at dodging and blocking, and Jun turned to leave; it was arguably unkind to fight so ferociously against a new player, but Ayame was hardly the only Deus who did so.
A sickening metallic crunch caused him to look back to the Layer, though, just in time to watch the blonde Angel's knee fold inward in a way it had never been designed to bend. Its dark-haired opponent crouched next to it, leg extended in what had obviously been a powerful kick to the vulnerable joint, and Jun felt a surge of anger flow through him at the sight. While Angels could and did become damaged in the course of play, especially at tournament levels, what had just happened went far beyond that. The blonde Angel had been at the point where little more than a light tap would have been needed to defeat it, yet Ayame's had deliberately attacked it in a way that might be permanently disabling; Angels were designed to be easily repairable, but injuries to the joints were notoriously tricky to fix.
As the young girl, now openly crying, gathered up her ruined Angel and walked away, Jun stepped forward. Such cruelty, even if by proxy, raised unpleasant memories in his mind, and he found himself unable simply to let it go. This was not how—or against whom—he had wanted to test his carefully crafted Angel, but it would have to do.
"Well, if it isn't the Old Man," Ayame said, smirking at him. "Finally ready to fight with that piece of junk you call an Angel? It's okay if you're too scared, though, after what Ansei just did to that one."
Jun mentally rolled his eyes. At twenty-eight, he was hardly old, even if he was a fair bit past the typical pre-teen and teenage demographic that followed Angelic Layer. Apparently the fact that the national champion was even older than he had escaped the girl, though. As for the insult directed at his Angel, he couldn't help but laugh a little; perhaps—no, definitely, at least at one point—such words would have infuriated its namesake beyond the point of rationality, but he himself was confident in his work and looked forward to proving her wrong.
The look of surprise on Ayame's face when he sat down and donned the link headset, adjusting it to fit himself, was gratifying. "Actually, I just finished the last solo checks today," he said mildly. "Thank you for offering to assist me with further testing, Moritake-san."
"This is going to be fun," Ayame said as she picked her Angel up from the Layer. She smiled at him in much the same way as a shark would, then asked, "Want to make this an official game?"
Jun shrugged. "Sure, why not?" he agreed, then gestured towards the layer as he pressed the button on his headset that would fully synchronize him with his Angel. "Shall we begin?"
Clearly beginning to be irritated by his calm demeanor, Ayame threw her Angel towards the Layer rather harder than necessary. "Ansei, shatter the enemy with your black light!" she called out as the Angel, clad in a black mesh bodysuit, performed a tight roll before landing. It crouched menacingly there, giving the impression of a predator waiting to pounce on its unwary prey.
In contrast, Jun lightly tossed his Angel forward in a high arc. As she—never 'it,' not while she was alive within the Layer—intersected the Layer's boundary, her winter-pale hair trailing behind her, two great black-feathered wings snapped out from her shoulders. Wings rhythmically beating the air, she drifted to the Layer's surface, a look of cool disdain on her face as she surveyed the Angel awaiting her.
"Everything created is flawed," Jun said quietly, more to himself than to anyone else, "but anything can become whole. Soar above them all…Suigin Tou."
Author's Notes: I never thought I would do a crossover story; I don't even like most crossovers. But...here I stand, with what is most definitely a crossover (or perhaps more accurately a fusion) between Rozen Maiden and Angelic Layer, thanks to a friend of mine refusing to leave me alone after I mentioned a basic plot idea one day. Since there isn't a Rozen Maiden section, this appears by default in the Angelic Layer section of so I apologise to those of you who are utterly confused by those elements. Hopefully, though, that won't deter you from reading. For those of you who are familiar with Rozen Maiden...well, explanations will come in time. This story is based on the anime continuities of both stories-more important for Rozen Maiden than Angelic Layer, as this takes place approximately at the time of the third Angelic Layer national tournament (i.e., one year before the canon AL story).
I would like to note that this will not be updated on any sort of regular basis until my in-progress Naruto story is completed. Until then, consider this a teaser of sorts; additional chapters may or may not be posted before then, but Soul Voice is my priority at this point. In any event, I hope you enjoyed reading this even if you aren't familiar with one or the other of the source series!