Chapter 4

Hard Goodbyes and Hard Awakenings

One month had passed since Eisuke had delivered what Zena referred to as: "The coolest beatdown ever" to Aliko. He had thought a lot about that day, he was more concerned than anything.

When fighting Aliko, he felt sadistic, as if he was out for blood. He didn't feel like himself. Ruthless, cold, angry. He was angry when he stepped up to fight Aliko, but he felt that he was far angrier than he should have been. Not to mention the whole thing felt far too… easy. There just so happened to be a way to get into Moon Academy and skip to second year. No. That was far too convenient, almost as if it was all set up.

"This is perfect then." He thought. "Going to this academy should help me learn more about this world. I might even remember something. I'll have to be on guard though… I still feel a little funny about how easy it was to get in."

He stuffed a backpack with clothes and necessities that Inko had packed for him. She insisted on getting him more things but Eisuke preferred to keep it simple. He didn't really need nor want material things. Over the last month he hadn't regained any of his memories, but he did however figure out more about the mark on his chest.

At night after Inko and Zena had fallen asleep, he would sneak out to the forest. He realized this star allowed him to tap into certain abilities of some kind if he focused. For one, he found that he could float. By imagining himself lighter, he was able to jump far higher and float for a bit until he slowly came back down."Would've been useful to know when I crashed here.." Eisuke over the course of the month also managed to re-create that move he used against the spawn when he had first met Zena.

He also learned he could materialize a protective barrier in the shape of a Star around him.

"A little on the nose, but okay."

He only managed to pull off most of these things on instinct, he guessed that this was due to previous life experiences. He knew he was built for fighting, that much was obvious….. And yet it still felt like something was missing. Some grander piece of the puzzle he just couldn't see yet.

But for the moment, he shoved the minuscule amount of things he owned into his backpack, and headed downstairs. He really wasn't excited, or even nervous. His feelings on heading to the Academy today were completely neutral. He wasn't going to get stronger. He was going to gain knowledge of his surroundings and figure out where he came from in the first place.

He looked at himself in the mirror. Inko had patched up all the tears and holes in his sweatshirt, along with giving him black shorts and red boots. She had also sewn in the Moon academy patch into his sweatshirt. He threw on his backpack, looked around the room one last time, and headed downstairs.

"Oi, G'morning Inko." He greeted her. She was setting down plates on the table as he walked down to the kitchen.

"Good morning Eisu! Are you excited to be leaving?" She asked him, cheerily as ever.

"Eh." Was his only response. He didn't really have much to say about it. "Where's Zena? Is that lazy bum still not up yet?"

"I'm Up." Eisuke turned to see Zena running down the stairs, fitted in her usual academy outfit. "The spot where the airship landed is not close to here, so we'll have to move."

"There it is. I might get frostbite from how cold that was." Eisuke thought to himself. Ever since the night they got back from Saggeta, Zena had been acting strangely around him. Her teasing mostly stopped (Aside from still calling him Zuki) and she had just seemed over all more distant from him. Even a bit more aggressive and cold. He wasn't sure why, and he wasn't going to push the topic either. But wait, what did she say?

Airship? They were going on an airship? His trademark blank look spread across his face. Zena picked up on his confusion. "Wait, did you not read the pamphlet they sent you?"

He scoffed. "No, looked like a waste of time, so I threw it out." Zena stared at him as if he was the village idiot.

"Why would you throw it out you colossal idiot?! That stuff had important information about the school!" She yelled, exasperated.

"Colossal idiot? Damn did I do something to piss her off? Oi.. at first I thought it was just weird girl stuff but now this is getting a little out of hand.."

"Hey now Zena! That's not very nice!" Inko scolded, frowning slightly.

He shrugged it off. "It's nothing I can't figure out once I get there, so why worry about it now?"

Zena couldn't help but stare in complete awe of his apparent lack of motivation for any sort of planning. She sighed. "Fine, it's too late for you to look at it now anyway.." Inko's face warmed as they sat down to eat. She teared up a bit, which Zena and Eisuke noticed.

"Oi what's wrong Inko?!"

"Mom are you okay?!"

"I'm just going to miss you two so much!" Inko cried. Zena went over to comfort her, and Eisuke got up and stood to the side, feeling a bit as if he didn't quite belong here until Inko pulled them both into a hug.

"Oh Mom… We'll be back for holidays.. And we'll be sure to call often!" Zena said, attempting to calm her mother down.

"Y-Yeah… It'll be fine.." Eisuke said, piggybacking off of Zena's comments.

Inko released them, back up to look at both of them. "I know… I know… Now you both better do your best, you hear?" She said, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"That's the plan Mom!"

"Oi! You got it!"

Inko walked over to Eisuke and put her hand on his cheek. "Be sure to take care of my little girl okay? She's a handful, but she really does mean well. Watch her back." Eisuke nodded in response.

Inko walked over to Zena and squeezed her until Zena's face was blue. "Try not to give your teachers a hard time. Pay attention in class and turn in your homework on time! Be sure to call at least once a week! Don't forget about me!"

Zena responded, although struggling to breathe. "Right… Mom… Love you… Can't …. Breathe!"

After about five minutes of squeezing the life out of Zena, Inko finally let her go. "Alright…. I know you two have to get a move on.."

Zena looked at a clock on the wall. "Oh crap! We really do!" She took off for the door, grabbing Eisuke's hood and running off with him as well. Eisuke shouted to Inko as he was being dragged.

"THANKS FOR EVERYTHING INKOOO! SEE YA' ROUND!"

She beamed before yelling back. "YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!"

And then they vanished into the trees. Gone.

Inko waved, knowing they couldn't see it.

"Bye…"

"Dammit Gum-Head!" The only thought that rang through Eisuke's mind as he sprinted through the forest with Zena. Annoyed.

"Y'Know we wouldn't have to be running if you hadn't spent so much time doing your hair. Which is still messy by the way. Gum-Head!"

"Just shut up and run." No teasing or slightly flirtatious comeback whatsoever.

"Okay that's a little spooky. Didn't even react to the 'Gum-Head' comment. And I spent so long thinking of that one too…"

"Soooo… are we almost there?"

"Should be, the coordinates in the pamphlet that you threw out said right up ahead."

"Okay this is nuts! Zena of all people being cold is kind of driving me a little bonkers! I must have really fucked up somewhere in the past month!"

They broke through the forest, beyond that there was a large field reminiscent of the one near Saggeta Town. There were a handful of other kids around their age spread far apart from each other on the field. The only issue was…

"Um. Scuse' me if this is just cuz' I threw out the pamphlet but… There's nothing here."

She looked confused as well. "No, you're right. The airship should be here by now.."

"Hey this is your second year right? So how is it you got it wrong this time? You sure this ain't the spot for first years?" He said sarcastically.

She shot back, venom in her voice. "Obviously the airship landed in a different place to pick up first years. And yes, I'm sure. Unlike you, I actually bothered to read what we were given.

"Oi, jeez sorry. Didn't take you for the type to follow directions so intently." Zena scoffed in response.

She pulled her own pamphlet out of her bag. "Ah…. We're actually an hour early…."

"Oh really? I guess that means we've got time to kill then. Wanna-" Eisuke was distracted by the sight of Zena walking quite a distance from him, and then sitting down. Eisuke, realizing this was going nowhere, fell on his back, and watched the skies as he drifted off to sleep.

The sky….

From death we came, death we will return

Betrayed by family, we betray them in turn

Face yourself and you will see the truth

Truth you've had for so long without meaning

Pain, tears, death

It means nothing either way

We all come from the same place

But the same place we never stay

Look inside to find what you are missing

Friendship, family, love

When you have all these things you'll know

The promise, dreams, and mystery of the sky

Gone, never forgotten.

"Kaira!"

Void

"Mpmh…"

Sinking

"Kaira!"

Blood

"Mmm…"

Stars

"KAIRA!"

Pain. It's time to wake up now, Hoshi.

He jerked upwards in a cold sweat, frantic. He looked to his right to see Zena, worried, sitting right next to him. He was hyperventilating at this point, panicked, confused, scared.

"Hey hey hey! You're okay, you're okay! Here!" She handed him a bottled water, which he downed quickly. He felt weak. His hands were trembling, he felt as if he had no control over his body, and the voice was back.

Run away. Run away.

"What happened?!"

"I… Had… A nightmare." He panted through exasperated breaths. He took a minute to calm his breathing, before shaking his head. "I'm fine, I really am."

Are you?

She looked at him, with worried eyes. Her eyes started to glow bright red. She stared at him intently. He knew what she was doing, he hoped the whole "I can't read you" thing held up. After staring for a few minutes, she finally gave up. She sighed. "I guess I'll have to take your word for it… But you know, you CAN talk to me if something is wrong…"

Liar. You call yourself her friend? Bastard.

"Yeah I know, thanks."

Liar.

The duo sat in silence awkwardly for a while. Just listening to the breeze as they watched the horizon, until Zena spoke up. "Soooo…."

He shakily turned his head to her.

She swallowed before beginning. "Look, I know I've been acting weird around you lately. I'm sorry. I'm really really really really sorry. It's just… I was honestly a little… scared. Of you.."

Hear that? You scared her. Freak.

He pointed to himself. "Of… me? Why?"

Zena inhaled before continuing. "The first night after we came back from Saggeta you zoned out when you looked up at the sky. Do you remember?"

He nodded.

You'll burn in hell. You'll burn.

"When you walked into the house, two things happened. Your eyes turned white for a moment, which in itself is weird, but I used my trademark on you to see if you were alright, and instead of seeing nothing like usual, the only thing I could see in you was pain. Excruciating pain. It made me afraid, or rather, made me want to run and hide. M isn't often! I tend to be a bit rude…"

Fuck you and your pain, coward.

He looked at her, feeling guilty as all hell, but not wanting her to feel bad. "Ah… I see. You don't have to fee-" She put her finger on her lips to silence him.

Finally, you don't deserve to speak. Worthless.

"The thing that worries me the most is that you have all that pain inside you. Regardless of whether or not you can feel it, it's still there." She cupped his face with her hands. Staring at him intently. "I promise I'll protect you from more pain. I swear it, Zuki."

The voice, and Eisuke were silent. Silent until Eisuke finally managed to speak in a low voice, red faced. "...Thank you, Zena."

She smiled.

Overhead, they both looked up to see an airship half the size of a football field descending towards them.

"So this is our ride? Bigger than I'd thought." He commented.

"Yup! Ready to go?"

He nodded. They both got up and started walking toward the airship as it landed. Things seemed like they could be A-Okay.

Gone. Never forgotten.

He shook off the thought and looked to Zena. She smiled warmly at him when she caught him looking.

"Yeah. A-Okay."