KEYHOLDER CHRONICLES

A collection of short stories that takes place after Eternal Storm and REUNION. Many of the stories center around the Keyholders' assignments after they form an uneasy alliance with the Key-Seekers.

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Second Snow

“Are you serious? School on how to use our elemental Keys?” Heaving a sigh, Toki guided her hands underneath her shoulder-length pink hair and pulled her pendant from her shirt collar.

“It’s necessary, Toki,” said Takeshi. “It’s a condition that the Seekers have set as a requirement for cooperating with us. We have to be educated on the proper use of the Keys.”

Toki grunted under her breath. She’d known Takeshi long enough to recognize his leader face; after all, despite his being younger than most of his friends, he’d guided her and the other Water Keyholders for going on three years. He normally didn’t force his hand on much, but the Water Keyholders all knew that he was the boss without him pushing, and as they grew closer as a team, they rarely argued with him.

“Why’s it just us who have to go?” whined Toki’s younger sister, Atsuko – who was one of the few who did, on occasion, have some kind of objection to raise against Takeshi, though she had begun to recognize his unspoken authority, as well. “You didn’t make Miss Prissy and Jerk-face come,” she pointed out.

“Natsumi-sama is the Earth Gate Key Guardian’s daughter,” Takeshi replied. “I’m sure that Miko-sama has already taught her how to use her elemental Key.”

“What d’you mean, ‘just us’?” joked Reka, Takeshi’s second-in-command. “Look around, Atsuko! There are fourteen of us going in to see the Key-Seekers. So don’t whine like you’re the only one who has to go through with this.”

“Want me to come back there and yank that ponytail of yours?!” Atsuko threatened him.

“Atsuko!” Toki cried.

“Toki and Reka sittin’ in a–!”

“Knock it off!!” Toki cried in embarrassment. She looked back at Reka, who grumbled under his breath, his face bright red, almost to the point of matching his long, messy hair.

Airi, a cheery fourteen-year-old with blonde-orange hair, walked between her older sister, Kita, and her friend, Sora, a soft-spoken, silver-haired boy. “Atsuko’s always picking on Reka,” she said, blinking her big, blue eyes. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think maybe she’s the one who likes him.”

“Good point, Squirt,” chuckled her big sister.

“Hey, guys,” called Sharon, “I see the Seekers’ HQ.” The nineteen-year-old pointed one dark brown hand toward a tall office complex towering ahead.

______________________________________________________

“What’s the big idea?!” Takeshi cried in bewilderment. “Sending me to lunch at a pizza joint with a girl who can’t make up her mind whether she hates me or just thinks I’m weird – what’s with that?!”

“You’re obviously gaga for her,” Takumi said. “She’d think you’re even weirder if you didn’t do anything at all after spilling a last name she didn’t even tell you.”

Reka’s face suddenly became serious again. He eyed Takumi and asked, “Is this some kind of a game to you? If you and the Seekers looked up our personal info, then you probably have an idea what’s going on here. Am I right?”

Takumi nodded.

“Don’t play with people’s feelings like that!” Reka yelled. “You know she’s not Yuki Takishima – she’s not the girl that Takeshi grew up with!” He turned back to Takeshi and pointedly asked, “You know that, too, don’t you? She’s not the same girl, Takeshi. This is a stupid idea; you shouldn’t make her think that she’s something she isn’t.”

“After you met Hisao Kuronichi of the A.R.E.’s Japan and played friend with him, how can you talk?” Takumi asked accusingly.

“I thought I told you to quit prying!” Reka shouted angrily. “This is different, anyway! What if she winds up liking Takeshi – as more than just a friend? We’d just be teasing her, and that’s not right!”

“Thinking with your head versus thinking with your heart – do you understand, now, what the Seekers are getting at?” Takumi asked. “How does Takeshi feel about this?”

Reka looked at Takeshi. He was unsure, befuddled. “I really do,” Takeshi said, “...I really do want to spend time with her. I know she’s not the same Yuki, but... her looks, her voice, even her name...I really just want to be with Yuki.”

“Takeshi...” Grudgingly admitting to himself that Takumi was right, Reka stopped trying to reason with Takeshi. He had no right to stick his foot into this, not after he treated the Alternate Reality Earth’s Hisao Kuronichi – a boy he didn’t know and had no business attaching himself to – like the friend he’d lost so many years before. That was exactly what Takeshi was doing now, with this girl – treating her like the friend he’d lost to the war two years ago. “Yuki’s dead,” Reka whispered, as Takeshi and Takumi talked about the restaurant where they would be meeting Yuki’s A.R.E. look-alike.

End