She didn’t know why she had agreed to go. It was ridiculous, after her begging and pleading Azusa eventually conceded and promised her that she would go if she would stop crying. Right now she was regretting that decision. Azusa Suzuki; a 19 year old girl determined to better herself over her control over the powers of darkness and apprenticing under Van the Master of Darkness an extremely powerful man and Azusa’s crush. She was normally a serious girl, nothing could really distract her from her main goal, except maybe the prospect of Van’s shirtlessness, and above all Azusa was focused.
So, how did she end up in this situation? After being coaxed into exploring the worlds outside the reach of darkness Azusa found herself on a strange city in an even stranger world. Arcadia is what they called the city. She had been here for about 3 weeks now, and despite her protests and demands to go back home Van reassured her that this would allow her to reach the penultimate state of absolute control and stillness. As much as Azusa lov- er, liked Van she knew that it was just a bunch of horseshit.
Almost immediately after landing on the world she was spotted by two persons, one was a handsome man – immeasurable to Van though – wearing a formal Japanese outfit and had an air of superiority about him, the other was a girl with long brown hair that reached her waist and had a bright rainbow of colors streaking in her hair. She wore a plain white t-shirt and a mini skirt but she looked pretty Azusa guessed. Despite the girl’s carefree personality she brandished a katana and demanded Azusa’s name, in a calm manner Azusa explained her situation and how she wasn’t part of this world. This didn’t seem to surprise the two.
They took her in and the girl – dubbed Rainbow Head – had such a serious look on her face that Azusa couldn’t help but admire her. She was so cool and mature that Azusa became determined to be like her in order to win over Van. But that flipped almost immediately. When they got to the girl’s apartment – Azusa was thoroughly surprised at how rich the girl was, she had bought out all the floors between the 7th and the 13th – Rainbow Head began to strip only a second after entering.
Azusa blushed and covered her eyes but figured it was a custom that the people on this world were used to. In her naïve moment Azusa reached for her own shirt and began to take it off when the man chided Rainbow Head telling her that it wasn’t appropriate for her to start stripping right there. Rainbow Head smiled sheepishly and apologized to Azusa before heading back to her room.
“Sorry about that,” the handsome man said with a weak smile, “Ui has always been a free spirit.” He had a wistful look on his face, as if it were the first time since she had been so… weird would be the word.
“Ah, my name is Yahiko Watanabe and Ui is my wife.” Azusa nodded dumbly; she hadn’t noticed a ring between the two of them but decided not to ask any questions. Okay, well except one. She asked Yahiko who they were and how they found her so fast.
Yahiko scratched the back of his head nervously and he looked around making sure no one else can hear, “Ui and I are a bit different from everyone here. We just… know a few people who have a lot of information on their hands.”
Before Azusa could press any further Ui walked out completely wet and nude, she shook her head like a dog to dry her hair. Azusa blushed and turned away and Yahiko chided Ui again telling her to put on some clothes. That pretty much ended the conversation there. Since then, Azusa made herself comfortable in this world, Yahiko had kindly asked her if she had any place to stay and when she said no Ui immediately jumped up asking Azusa to stay there. Azusa had explained that while she didn’t have much to do on this world she should be getting back soon, but after seeing Ui’s distressed expression Azusa quickly retorted saying that her master wouldn’t mind her staying her so long as she notified him. Ui brightened up and Yahiko smiled as if it were good to see her smile like this. That’s what confused Azusa, if Ui was so… ‘Ui-like’ and crazy she should be smiling everyday right? Then why does Yahiko look content when she does smile, as if she’s been grumpy for a long time or something.
Whatever, it wasn’t her problem.
This world was weird, it wasn’t like the Influx. Sunlight was constant and darkness only came at certain times of the day but it came on the same time every day. Apparently this world had something they called “Summer”. Azusa had only heard of summer from books and television and stuff, but she’s never experienced it. Yahiko explained that during summer the amount of time that the daylight was out was much longer than normal so it was hotter than any time of the year. Azusa decided that she didn’t like summer. The sun was cruel against her pale complexion, she tanned extremely easy and she got bright red whenever it happened, she touched the brightness and her skin burned. Yahiko explained that this was “sunburn”. Azusa decided that she hated sunburns.
Azusa felt like a child since they were explaining a lot of things to her, they had to explain things involving summer like swimming, ice cream, festivals, and things like dancing and summer skirts and sandals! The Influx hadn’t allowed for things like this since it was pretty cold year round and there was no “summer break”. It was curious; it made Azusa interested in this new world. Ui was apparently extremely happy with Azusa’s little stupor with this world, whenever Azusa got a dreamy expression on her face when she thought of summer Ui would hug her and no matter how much Azusa tried to get her off nothing would work except Yahiko’s command, although secretly she liked the hugs. Azusa loved hugs in general, whenever she got those rare hugs from Van she would die from joy, she even considered a diary to write down those feelings of hers in case she forgot what it felt like. Azusa never got a diary; she didn’t trust Fleur with her diary.
Nonetheless she enjoyed Ui’s company no matter how weird she was.
Ui was a touchy-feely type of person and she often hugged Azusa without warning and sometimes she found Ui in bed right next to her. Yahiko assured her that this was normal; Ui was an affectionate type of person. Azusa decided to believe him, but she was still confused.
“So does she do this to everyone she likes?” Azusa wondered how that would look like to Yahiko if Ui hugged random guys in the street. Yahiko laughed and started to answer but Ui came from behind and hugged Azusa nuzzling her cheek into the back of her neck.
“Nah~, just the ones that look so cute and huggable!” Ui answered into Azusa’s neck.
“O-okay that’s enough!” Azusa tried to wriggle her way out of the hug, her face was beet red and she felt a little dizzy. But Ui held on with an impossible vice-like grip, they both tumbled down to the floor and Ui continued to hug her. Azusa sighed in defeat and allowed the hug to continue.
“Ne, Azunyan,” Azunyan? “You said you’re from another world right? What’s it like over there?”
Azusa clammed up, she didn’t talk about the Influx but she didn’t know why she felt the need not to.
“Um, you know, it’s pretty normal…” Azusa’s voice trailed off and she looked at Yahiko who looked unconvinced. Azusa finally pulled herself away and stood up.
“A-anyways, you can’t keep hugging me like that!” Cause every time you do I feel dizzy..
Ui pouted, “Azunyan doesn’t like me….” Azusa blinked, she felt a bit guilty.
“It’s not that…” Azusa looked away and hoped her face wasn’t red again.
Before the guilt could set in Ui pounced again and hugged Azusa gushing on how cute she looked. The was the routine for the first couple of weeks, Azusa had become accustomed to Ui and her hugs and didn’t even push her away at times. Yahiko had introduced Azusa to some of their friends. She met Minaki who was cool and mature and looked so responsible Azusa felt feeble standing in front of her. She met Yuki who was Minaki’s younger sister, Yuki was funny and adorable kinda like Ui – Wait, what? – But she was a bit weird too. And she met Minoru and Keiko, Yuki and Minaki’s parents, Ken, Minako, and a whole lot others. Azusa wondered how such a different bunch of people could ever be friends. All she had was Van but she was happy with just him.
And so here we are in the present. Azusa grumbled under her breath as she stood in front of the train station, she took another glance at her watch: 11:35. Where was she! Ui had been begging Azusa to take her to this weird festival for weeks now and when she finally agrees she’s late?! Azusa smoothed out her yukata, it was bright blue with several pawprints adorning the outfit, Ui had picked out this outfit because it fit her apparently. Yahiko explained that Ui liked cats and cute things and she often described Azusa as a “lost kitty”. Azusa didn’t know what he meant by that but happily accepted the yukata, after all she loved cats as well.
In this yukata and in this heat Azusa was sweltering by the time 12 rolled around, she stood leaned up against the terminal with an exhausted expression on her face as she fanned herself off. Everyone walking by her gave her strange looks; Azusa didn’t have the bravery Ui had so she kept her clothes on. Azusa suddenly became a little depressed; did Ui not want to be with her today? Did she just make her come here as some joke?
She sighed dejectedly and became to walk away when her cell phone vibrated in her pocket. Brandishing the little device – that Yahiko so kindly got for her – she looked and saw she had an unread text.
“Gomene Azunyan ^^’, I’ll be there in a bit. Please wait for me a little longer :3”
Azusa chuckled under her breath and pocketed the cell phone after she replied: “Hurry up Ui! >.<”
She found a nice bench to wait at. Azusa sat down with her new bottle of water and drank thirstily. She glanced at the clock again: 12:10. She held up her head with her hand and stared at the floor, what was taking her so long?
“Azunyan!” Ui approached Azusa with impossible speed and hugged her knocking them both down to the floor. As annoyed as Azusa was she missed that hug. After a few minutes of hugging Azusa decided it was time to get up. Ui sheepishly apologized and explained that Yahiko wasn’t feeling well so he had to stay home and that Ui had a hard time putting on the yukata without his help. Still it was impressive how she was able to dress with such humility yet look so pretty.
Her rainbow hair was tied up in an elegant ponytail that extruded from the top of her head, yet despite that her chocolate brown hair fell over her forehead neatly and framed her face like a fringe. Ui must have worked on her hair longer than normal since it was curled like a princess as waves of hair fell over her shoulder making her smile seem a lot brighter. Ui wasn’t the type to wear make-up – this was certain – but she wore a bright blue eyeliner and cheery-red lipstick, the contrast made her happy eyes pop. She wore an orange yukata – which surprised Azusa since she figured she would pick pink – that had floral designs all over it, she had a large navy blue sash tied around her waist and Azusa was impressed that she tied it correctly by herself. Ui still carried her sword but it was covered in a wrapping so it looked like a pole or something.
“Ne, ne, what do you think?” Ui stood up and spun on her heel with her arms outstretched, Azusa flushed as Ui beamed at her so innocently.
“You look pretty.” Azusa admitted. Ui grinned and scratched the back of her head in embarrassment; If you were going to get embarrassed why ask me?
The final train leaving to Koto was about to go. In a rush Ui grabbed Azusa’s hand and ran to the boarding station, they managed to make it on just as the doors were closing. Azusa got her sash caught in the door but they managed to pull it out.
“Damn.. It’s wrinkled.” Azusa cursed, it was such a nice yukata and she ruined it already. She tried to smooth over the wrinkles but to no avail. Ui saw Azusa’s frustration and decided to remedy it… with a hug.
“It’s okay Azunyan.” She cooed as she hugged Azusa further.
“No, it isn’t!” Azusa insisted, “Yahiko bought me this yukata and I ruined it…” She grumbled as she released the ribbon. Ui hugged her more softly and motherly while running a hand through her hair.
“There, there, it’s okay.. It isn’t ruined and Yahiko won’t be upset, he’s happy that you wore it to begin with..” It was an adorable sight, like a kitty consoling another. Everyone stared at them with awe, some with disgust and disinterest. The males blushed while the females cooed at the cute sight. Azusa realized she was garnering far too much attention but couldn’t – or didn’t want to – have the heart to break away.
By the time they reached the cultural festival it began to drizzle a little. Azusa quickly bought a small umbrella for the two to share and with a smile Ui showed Azusa around. They visited shrines and Ui had to teach Azusa how to pray, they visited games in which one of them the player had to use a small air-rifle to fire on stationary and moving targets in order to acquire a prize of sorts. Ui happily accepted the challenge, the first four shots missed.
“It’s okay little lady, not everyone has the eye for this kind of stuff.” The tender chuckled, Azusa glared at him; this game was rigged.
“Can I try again?” Ui asked innocently, Azusa wanted to protest but Ui just gave her a wink. Ui took aim and in one quick breath fired four shots so fast she finished before the pins could fall down. The tender stared at Ui with disbelief.
“Help yourself to anything on the top shelf…” he grumbled half-heartedly. Ui picked out a large plushie of a black cat with bright yellow eyes and a purple collar and handed it to Azusa.
“A kitty for the lost kitty!” She explained quickly before Azusa took the plushie that was as big as her head and hugged it reflexively. The two enjoyed the festival from there, Ui ate some takoyaki and shared some with Azusa, they had a lot of sweets and fried food Azusa felt a bit ashamed at how she was going against her diet. But if it is with Ui it isn’t as bad right?
They had spent about six hours at the festival. All of Ui’s money was exhausted and the two just sat on a large hill overlooking the festival waiting for the fireworks. The sun dipped low on the horizon creating a powerful pale orange hue across the sky, within a few minutes however the daylight would go away leaving darkness to follow. Azusa ate her ice cream in silence and glanced over at Ui when a clicking sound chimed in from her. Ui sat pointing her phone at her with the camera function on, ah, she took a picture.
“H-hey, what are you doing?” Azusa protested, that was probably such a bad picture.
“Gomen, you just looked so cute there.” Ui didn’t look very sorry.
Ui looked at her phone and giggled. Azusa protested again trying to pry the phone out of Ui’s hands but it didn’t work, the resulting action made Azusa fall over on top of Ui. Ui took this as an act of affection and hugged her. Azusa flustered and in her state of confusion quickly pulled away and sat down next to Ui again.
Ui sat up and smiled as she looked at the phone again. Azusa peeked over to see that she was looking at a screensaver. It was a bit blurry but Azusa could make out three people there, Ui smiling brightly arms interlinked with Yahiko and another girl to Ui’s right. She had dark hair and was wearing cat ears it seemed. Azusa recognized her in the photos Ui had around her house, but she never met her.
“Who’s that?” It was probably a rude question but Azusa wasn’t thinking at this point. Ui looked at Azusa and her expression read panic, she quickly shut her phone and forced a smile on her face. Azusa immediately felt guilty; it wasn’t her business to be asking about anything like that. She mumbled an apology and turned away.
After several minutes of awkward silence Ui finally spoke.
“She was a… friend of mine.” Was? “She was so funny and cute, kinda like you Azunyan.”
Azusa blushed in spite of herself but she felt a bit depressed, so the only reason Ui liked her was because she was like that other girl… Great. Azusa stood up immediately and avoided looking at Ui.
“I think I’m going to go home.” She mumbled, Ui tried to speak out but Azusa ran off.
She cursed herself for trying to run in a yukata, she cursed herself for being so naïve. Of course Azusa wasn’t going to be accepted that easily, she was just a black cat, an embodiment of bad luck. The rain picked up, it was hot and humid and Azusa began to feel sticky underneath her yukata. Then a jolt went through her: she forgot her plushie. She turned around and contemplated going back for it but all she saw was darkness, the sun was gone at this point and the rain had obscured everything. In fact… Azusa didn’t recognize this spot at all.
She looked around to find a landmark she recognized; it was pointless so she began to run around aimlessly, the rain began to pour down on Azusa who cursed herself for forgetting her umbrella. Her yukata was soaked, she felt miserable and idiotic. Setting herself down on the ground underneath a large tree. Hugging her knees she buried her face in her legs.
She wanted to be back home, she wanted to be by Van’s side and help him with his quest, but most of all she just wanted to see him again.
The rain overhead stopped peppering the tree; Azusa looked up to see Ui smiling overhead with an umbrella.
“Why did you run off Azunyan?” She asked innocently, Azusa gritted her teeth and jumped up to hug her. Ui yelled something about how affectionate she was being at the moment.
After that night Azusa decided it was high time to go home. She thanked Ui and Yahiko for all of their hospitality and help. After pushing Ui off Azusa generated a portal back to the Influx.
“So, how was your recon?” Van asked curiously, he didn’t seem a bit concerned at how long she took.
“Well, there’s this thing they have called ‘summer’…”