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Shift - Chapter 50 - Fading Light

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The bed creaked from the weight of Yuki’s body to being tossed on it, exhausted. He had just gotten back from Ayumi’s house having received her new intensive training. Being called ‘New Training’ (Ayumi’s words) was an inaccurate term according to Yuki and more important his body. He returned home with clean clothes, since he had to keep up appearances that he was just helping Ayumi study, but underneath his clothes were there a lot of bruises and sore muscles. Ayumi healed all of the wounds that he took, but refused to heal everything to leave it as a reminder. It made him want to heal them, but he had already accidentally summoned his Kasou-ryoku twice on the very short walk to his house.

He stared up at the ceiling trying not to think about his body, since it only made it hurt worse. ‘How long will I be able to keep this up?’ Yuki wrapped his arms around his head and rolled on his side. ‘Then there’s the fact that Ayumi says I only have a month left. She’s expecting me just to leave all of this… How can she expect me to become some leader of a place I’ve never been to?’ The echoes of Ayumi’s voice whispered to him forcing him to remember. It all felt like too much weight and importance was being placed on him. He wanted to remember was normal felt like.

Chapter 50 – Fading Light

“Yuki!” Momoko yelled from the first floor of the house managing to carry her voice through his closed door.

Unmotivated into leaving the comfort of his bed, he turned back lying straight on his bed not answering. A few seconds later after no response from Yuki his sister yelled again with more insistence in her voice. He was growing frustrated and yelled back to her. “What?”

“I need you to go out to the store for me!”

Yuki sighed loudly to himself and quickly regretted it as he felt his chest convulse in pain. “Why can’t you go?!”

“Just get down here!”

‘She’ll probably come up if I don’t…’ He grudgingly began to move his legs over to the floor and slowly pulled himself up to stand. The muscles in his legs groaned the most when he stood up making him wince as he moved. He staggered over to his door before taking a deep breath. Afterwards, the door opened with him walking normally covering up his pain. Yuki took the stairs slowly staring down at his older sister, looking impatient. “Why do I have to go?”

“Because someone has to stay and help our brothers with their homework and unless you want to—“

“What do you need?” He did not want to have to deal with his hyperactive brothers climbing all over him trying to get him to play with them, especially with the pain that he was in. Momoko turned over the list to him cracking a little smile as he walked to the door. He put on his shoes and light jacket before stepping outside. The cool evening air made him drop his hands into the jacket’s pockets. It would be a long walk down to the neighborhood store to get what he needed, but it was a quiet night.

Across the neighborhood Saki was staring at a textbook and paper with a pencil in hand sitting at her desk. Her family’s apartment was fairly quiet with only the neighbors making a muffled shouting noise. However, the homework in front of her was having difficulty being completed due to her mind wandering away. She had a lot of things weighing heavily on her with Yuki being in the forefront at the moment.

During class he had been his usual self, but she could not help but fear that he was covering up for what had happened at the shop they visited. It was hard enough for her to bring up that she ended up dwelling on it more than trying to resolve her problems.

She tilted her head back resting her neck against her chair looking behind her. ‘I can’t concentrate… Yuki is normally like this so why should I be so worried? It’s how he deals… But still to be reminded of his parents…’ Saki raised up her hands planting them in her hair becoming frustrated with herself. A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. “Yes, mom?”

There was a relieved relaxing of uncontrollable fears that had been persisting for Saki’s mother. Ever since she had been involved in the kidnapping she had been frequently checking on her daughter every day as a piece of mind. “The strange man from the other day just called you.”

“Strange man?”

“From that rich family that you stayed at on Saturday.” She had been very uneasy when she had received the call about her daughter on Saturday claiming that she had been invited to stay over at their place. The fears had been too much for her, but they had met with Saki to allow her to talk to her mother to calm her down after they had been introduce to Chiharu’s grandfather.

It all had finally clicked in for Saki when her mother had mentioned that and stood up immediately as her thoughts went to Chiharu. “The Chinens?!” Her mother gave her a slow nod still looking a little shaken. “Was it about Chiharu? Mom?” The slow drawn out words from her mom was only furthering her tensions as she wanted to know how Chiharu was going. “Is she awake? Mom, please tell me!”

The desperation that was appearing on Saki’s face made her mother step back. “The man said that she had regained consciousness.”

“That’s great news! Thank you, Mom!” Saki jumped up and hugged her mom tightly leaving her a little confused by Saki’s reaction.

“…yeah… He said he knew that you’d want to know…”

It had taken some time for Saki to recover, but she backed off from her mother looking a little embarrassed by the display of emotion that she had suddenly. Her mind suddenly felt clearer and focused. “Crap! I need to finish my homework! Thanks, Mom!” Saki darted back to her desk leaving her mother looking even more confused before walking away slowly. A smile crawled on to Saki face as her eyes focused on to the paper.

Yuki walked back from the store having gotten everything that Momoko had on her list. It was only a few things, mostly for breakfast and lunch. The quiet walk had been pleasing for him as he was able to keep his mind focus. Even his soreness was starting to be something that he could manage. A stray thought came to him as he shifted the weight of the bag in his hand. ‘I wonder what Hiroshi wants?’ It pulled his mind back to lunch on top of the school when they were eating together with everyone.

Their lunch group had grown a little with Yuki having hunted down Haruo and insisted that he ate with them and Yumi and her friends decided that they would accept Ayumi’s invitation. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves talking and laughing with each other. Yuki was smiling to himself listening when Hiroshi suddenly leaned next to him.

“Hey Yuki…” Hiroshi said to him lowly so that only Yuki could hear him. There was a surprisingly stern serious expression in his eyes making Yuki have a little trouble swallowing his food that he had just eaten.

“Yeah? What’s wrong?”

There was a long wait in Hiroshi next words as though he was having difficulty saying them. “You got some time to talk after school?”

“Not today, but I can tomorrow. Is that alright?”

“Yeah another day shouldn’t really matter.” Hiroshi sounded a little dismissive of the subject like he wanted to forget about it. However, he had caught the suspicious attention of Saki.

She pointed her chop sticks at Hiroshi staring at him. “What you whispering to Yuki?”

Hiroshi quickly flipped expression to nervous and then to an uneven smile. “Just a joke that I heard, right?”

Yuki looked back and forth between the two of them not really picking up on everything until he was getting a strange look from Hiroshi. “…yeah…” The pained look from Hiroshi at Yuki poor convincing agreement went by oblivious to him. Yuki returned to eating his lunch and Saki quickly gave it up.

The memory faded away still leaving him with a question. There had been an unusual seriousness in Hiroshi that had Yuki a little confused. He wanted to know what the problem was. Delaying it made him wonder if he was making a mistake. ‘It sounded important to him… Maybe I should just have listened to him…’

A sound of something breaking had trailed down the street from somewhere out of sight. It made Yuki’s thoughts stop and bring his focus to the street. There was no one on the street that he could see and in the evening hours there were few people out. However, he heard another noise that hurried his feet to move. ‘Is it a car crash?’ Yuki ran towards the sounds he was hearing that were increasing in frequency. ‘Can’t be an accident…’

The noise came from around a corner sending him away from his house, but curiosity would not let him go. It was becoming stronger and clearer leaving an uneasy sinking feeling to develop in his stomach as it understood sooner than him. ‘The temperature…why is the air so cold…’ He felt the crunching underneath his feet that revealed snow covering the street concrete giving him the answer he was looking for. ‘Ayumi’s fighting!’

His eyes were able to confirm it for him a moment later as Ayumi came sliding through the snow evading several projectiles. She countered immediately charging forward throwing out her chakram attachment grabbing the enemy’s arm in the connecting chain before she pierced him through the chest with her sword. Once the sword was pulled free she removed her field and began cleaning the area with a new field.

A slow staggering Yuki walked forward not expecting to find her fighting. “…Ayumi…was that another assassin?”

“Yes, I was able to intercept him before he reached you.” She had finished her work and turned to walk away from the scene. Yuki was left without any words to say as she came towards him. When she passed by him she said something to him low. “Rest.”

Yuki was still trying to take it in staring down at the empty street almost in a state of shock. ‘She stopped the assassin before he got to me… She’s protecting me… That’s what she said she would do, but…’ He was still facing away, but knew that Ayumi was within range of his voice speaking to the empty street. “Was that the only one?”

Ayumi stopped for a moment to answer him not looking at him either. “No, nor the last.” She began to walk away reaching the street intersection.


“I’d think that was obvious, Yuki,” Ayumi said with additional emphasis on his name.

Being cryptic was not something new for Yuki, but he wanted a straight answer. He turned around staring down the poorly lit street at Ayumi. “Explain it to me,” he demanded. His eyes were narrowing and face wrinkling in frustration that only Ayumi could cause him. “I don’t want some riddle from you! I want the truth!”

“I’ve already given you the truth. How many times to I have to repeat myself?” She finally turned her head to look back at him.

“I said stop with the riddles. Just get to the point, Ayumi!”

“You’re weak, Yuki! You can’t control your powers. They control you. It’s no way to fight. So I’m left with no choice but deal with the assassins myself. You’re incapable of protecting yourself.”

Yuki jerked back feeling stunned by Ayumi’s words. He had heard them before, but there was something different in the tone and feeling that left him frozen in reaction. ‘She’s been taking on the assassins? Is that why there hasn’t been very many? All this time…’ The atmosphere seemed to be stifling for him feeling the eyes of Ayumi on him.

‘You’re incapable of protecting yourself!’ her words echoed through his mind harder than anything else she had lectured and berated him about before. He had never really thought of himself as being defenseless since his powers awakened. There was the fear of death that he had tasted before, but he had managed to survive because his powers were there when he needed them. Yuki did not know what to think hearing it.

He did not want to hear it. All she could do was look down on him and point out his flaws. Her words repeated endlessly in his ears as mocking spirits that never left him. She was never going to be able to see as anything more than a failure.

‘No…’ Yuki snapped back to himself. He narrowed his eyes once more staring back at Ayumi. Ayumi’s echoing was fading out of mind for Yuki. ‘I have to show her! I’m not a failure! I can protect myself!’ A determined looked formed in his eyes as he clinched his fists. “I don’t need you to protect me!”

Ayumi returned his glare with one that almost seemed amused by his stubbornness. She had only raised her eyes for a moment before it was gone once more. “You don’t stand a chance without me,” she said flatly.

It only seemed to make Yuki even more angry hearing her voice. He was tired of the way that she treated him. “Stop treating me like a child!”

“Grow up and maybe I will.”

“What are you talking about?”

“All you know how to do is run away. You’ve been running this entire time. You can’t face yourself.”

“Shut the hell up!”

“This is why you’re a child still. You’ve been running for more than a year. It’s about time you faced your fear.”

‘Mother!’ That had been the last straw for Yuki. He could not hold himself back anymore having heard what Ayumi said to him. Yuki ran through the street towards Ayumi with rage filling his eyes. All Ayumi did was stare at him with the same uninterested, nearly bored, expression that she had been keeping the entire time. Never once did she raise her voice at him almost like he was not worth the emotions. It only made him angrier as he charged at her. “Damn you, Ayumi!” He raised his fist up connecting with a surprised Ayumi in the cheek sending her to the ground sliding a little. Yuki breathed heavily staring down at her still feeling the steaming heat of emotions boiling through his skin.

Ayumi shook off the surprise and wiped her face with her hand. There was a smirking grin on her lips as she stood up looking back at him. She said nothing more and walked away slowly disappearing into the darkness of the street.

Once she had left him Yuki snapped out of his blindness and lifted up his hand that had punched her. His mind went back suddenly to the time that Saki had taken the hit and he had knocked her out. It made him go wide in shock and panic dropping to his knees. ‘…Saki…Ayumi…What’s wrong with me?!’

To be continued…

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