A/N: Important! 've decided to have the story end early. I originally planned them to do more hunts, but due to the amount of work i'll be doing this semester, i won't be able to keep up. of course, the story is not over yet, but just to keep note. it might end around 9 or 10 chapters.
also, some SLIGHT maotsujun and ohmiya moments, along with some angsty matsumiya moments. nothing big
Chapter 6 - The Gate Keeper
Apparently, the audience that got away safely from the ghost was half Muggles and half witches. The Muggles were easily restrained and their memories wiped clean of the frightful incident. The witches, on the other hand, promised to the staff they won't tell the press. They were loyal fans, and they understood the moment word spread out that Arashi was attacked by a ghost, people would raise questions. The Wizarding community will start to wonder why a ghost would attack humans, and then they'll fit the pieces that it wasn't an ordinary ghost.
However, that didn't stop the staff from talking amongst themselves. Everyone who was there at the incident started gossiping about Arashi and their connection with the Head of the Auror Office, Naruse. None of the staff members said a word to them, but Jun could see the suspicion in their eyes.
Despite that Naruse caught one of the ghosts, no one could forget the girl who fell victim to a Paradise spirit. When she woke up, she didn't utter a word. Her face was stiff and emotionless. Jun remembered how she just walked away soulless and how his fist was shaking with fury.
He could have done something.
"Jun, are you alright?"
He was sitting on his couch at home. Inoue Mao watched him from the kitchen making dinner. Jun checked the clock and thought about when he should leave to see Yami. They never agreed to a certain time, but he figured it would be best if Mao didn't know.
"Just...a little tired," Jun answered.
"I've heard what happened," she continued. "that the recording was attacked. I also heard rumors that the ghost actually had magical powers. Is that true?"
"I-It's best we don't talk about it," Jun said. "Naruse told me the less people who know about this the better."
"Naruse?" Mao frowned. "Our old Potions professor? Why is the Ministry involved in this?"
"Mao-chan, it's really...I don't know how to say it," Jun sighed.
She paused and gazed at him with a solemn face. She waved her wand to allow the pot to stir by itself as she came around the counter top. She untied her apron and sat next to him.
"You seem upset about something," she said, softly. "I have been with you long enough to know that look. And honestly, I haven't seen it in a long time and that could only mean it's not something good. Talk to me."
"Clever as always," Jun smirked as he lean back on the couch.
"Don't take me as some Ravenclaw girl," Inoue said. "I am your girlfriend."
Jun tried to hide his smile. Funny how he can still laugh at at time like this, and as soon as he realized that, his smile faded. It wouldn't do her any good if he told her about what is happening with Paradise and Yami. He hasn't told anyone about his meet up with the cursed child as promised. He feared that Yami will come after the souls of his loved ones.
"I'm fine," Jun lied. "The ghost was just a shock. Even I don't know what's really going on."
Mao eyed him suspiciously.
"But if anything happens," Jun said earnestly, "even the slightest thing...remember to put up a fight."
He saw a slight twitch in her eyebrow, but he maintained eye contact to show his seriousness. Mao knew him very well, and he was glad she didn't press the subject any further. He hated having to lie to her, but it was to protect her. Suddenly, he understood why Sho was against the hunts; to have a normal life.
He enjoyed a peaceful dinner and talking miscellaneous topics. Jun waited until she fell asleep and he slowly got out of bed. It was already past one in the morning. He quickly got dress and took his wand with him for extra precaution. He left through the door instead of Apparating, otherwise the pop sound would wake her up.
He arrived at the familiar Fuji TV Headquarters. The studio was majestic as always with its massive sphere structure in the middle. The lights flared purple, giving it a strong royal look. Jun remembered a long time ago he used to fought on top of the sphere...
The building was closed, and he wondered around trying to find Yami. He must have walked for a good twenty minutes, and he was about to go home. He looked back up and noticed the lights didn't reach the roof. It was as if the light was swallowed by darkness. Jun took a deep shaky breath before he Apparated to the rooftop.
It was slightly windy on the roof, and Jun narrowed his eyes in the bitter coldness. Sure enough, a lone figure stood with his back facing him.
The boy turned around and grinned at him.
"I thought you wouldn't come," Yami said, his voice a little louder than before. "You've come alone, I see. Good."
Suddenly, he felt his wand lift from his back pocket. He whirled around trying to catch it, but it zoomed away from his reach. Yami simply waved his finger and Jun's wand fell over the building.
"I don't want there to be any hostile feelings between us," Yami said as he slowly approached him.
"This makes us a little uneven, don't you think?" Jun said, trying to sound light-hearted.
Yami pouted, "We are not here to fight, I already told you. Will you listen to my story?"
Jun could only glare back at him. Yami smiled almost charmingly and began walking around him. Jun could see a trail of shadows following him, as if he was wearing a kingly cloak, and yet all he wore was a black sweater and pants. He panicked a little when a shadow wrapped around his ankle, but he flinched his leg away and so did the shadow.
"Just what are you?" Jun asked. "Why are you always in darkness?"
Suddenly, he felt a hot searing pain from his back. He fell to his knees and grunted in cry. Yami stood over him with a menacing smile. He saw Fujiwara Tatsuya appeared behind him with a wand pointed at his head. Jun immediately felt his limbs control for him and he was bound. He couldn't run away.
"You said we're here to talk!" Jun yelled.
"We will," Yami kneel down to Jun's eye level. "But I never said anything what will happen afterwards."
* * *
"Ohno...wait a minute...stop."
Ohno lift his head up, "What's wrong?"
"Something doesn't feel right."
"Am I doing it wrong?"
"It's about Jun," Nino frowned. "Something's not right."
"You're thinking about him now?" Ohno asked, sitting up.
"I'm sorry," Nino sighed, swinging his legs over the bed. "I couldn't stop thinking about that look on his face today. When we found him at the top floor. It looked like he was...worried."
"We all are," Ohno said. "This Yami character releases more spirits by the day, and we have no way of stopping him. That ghost attack was his doing. We're all worried what will happen."
Nino stood up and grabbed his pants. "I going to talk to him."
"Now?" Ohno stood up as well. "It's past midnight!"
"Jun gets worried sometimes, but I haven't seen like this in a long time," Nino said. "Not since we were teenagers. You probably don't remember at the time, but I know that look. It means he's hiding something from us. I have to know."
"I'm coming with you," Ohno said. "He's not your only friend."
Nino was about to protest, but he couldn't say no to his leader. Together, they got dressed and Apparated.
* * *
He was having a dream, or rather a nightmare. He was lost in the dark with only his wand as his guide, but he still couldn't see far into the distance. He heard a scream that sounded awfully like Jun. He ran as fast as he could and saw Jun kneeling before a ghost. Yami's eyes was staring down at them from behind. His world was nothing but red.
He abruptly opened his eyes. His pillow and futon sheets were covered in his sweat and he sat up. Aiba got off his bed and kneel next to Sho on the floor.
"What's wrong? A nightmare?" Aiba asked.
"It was Yami," Sho spoke, his voice small and cracked. "His eyes was everywhere...his eyes were on me."
"It's alright," Aiba whispered gently. "You'll be safe here, remember? Naruse was kind enough to lay protect spells around our building. He won't be able to find us."
"But he had Jun," Sho uttered.
"He was attacked by a ghost," Sho explained. "He was attacked by a ghost."
"It was only a dream, Sho," Aiba said, lightly rubbing his back. "Jun is at home."
Sho side-glanced at him. His worry was still itched on his face and his heart...
* * *
Yami smirked before he stood up, and Fujiwara kept his wand fixed on Jun. Yami walked up close to the edge of the roof, looking out to the city lights. The glow made his red eyes dimmed softly. If he stepped into the daylight, Jun wondered if his eyes would burn. Yet, he looked unharmed.
"Jun," Yami spoke, "can you remember what Paradise was like?"
"Paradise, the land where the dead live and build any reality they want," Yami said. "Where worlds are created after death. Only a few ever come out of it alive and intact."
"What do you want from me?" Jun growled. "If you want to try to take over Paradise, forget it. Someone tried before and failed."
"Failed?" Yami raised an arch eyebrow. "Or made the first step?"
A gentle gush of wind blow through Jun's hair, his brow pitched tight together in confusion. Yami walked elegantly back towards Jun and continued to stare down at him with his cunning smile.
"What happened fifteen years ago was only a minor progress," Yami said. "You cannot rule Paradise entirely. That is a foolish way of thinking as well as arrogant. It is not my goal."
"You have to merge them together," Yami smiled brightly. "The land of the dead and the land of the living...become one."
Jun felt his heart stop for a second. "That's impossible."
"It has already begun," Yami shrugged. "I have been given this blessed gift to join these worlds together." He turned around as his voice became slightly louder and grandiose. "Imagine! The living would never have to fear death when those of the dead is still amongst them, just in a different state of power. Loved ones can be reunited and never be parted. The vastness of Paradise will emerge with this world, and soon everyone can enjoy creating their own worlds!
"Of course, there is a price to it," Yami said, matter-of-factly. "Colliding two worlds means clashing with the natural law. It is the great struggle of discrimination before we can become together in unison. A war must take place before there can be peace. And I intend to bring upon the purging.
"But once all is done, the result will be the ultimate dream," Yami continued. "You will never have to feel alone. You will never have to stress yourself to get the things you want, but rather just create the things you want out of nothing! The concept of life and death will be nonexistent. Friends, memories, families. With Paradise bleeding into this world...why...the possibilities could be endless! Everyone can be happy!"
"That's not happiness, that is a disaster!" Jun shouted. "You're bringing people back from the dead, and they've been doing nothing but hurting people! Reaping their souls! The Imperfects can never be humans again. Having Paradise be part of the living world will drive us to extinction!"
Yami looked over his shoulder, his eyes red as flames and yet surprisingly cold.
"Do you know what it's like to not have a soul?" Yami asked. "Do you just assume they're emotionless, worthless, pointless beings of existence?"
"What do you mean?" Jun frowned. "Of course they are. They have no souls. It's what makes us human. It's what gives us wizards half our magic."
"The soul is nothing but a flawed mechanism in your body," Yami glared, his voice turning venomous. "It is used to have be you possessed at the given moment. It is the soul that acts as a parasite. It sucks you up dry and leaves your body to rot. Many have tried toying with it and lived longer. But you humans have become so dependent on it. You can't even begin to understand true power."
Jun didn't even bat an eyelid, "You're wrong. The soul is everything to a human being. If I were to live forever without feeling anything at all, I'd rather die. Yo wouldn't understand...because you're not human."
Yami's eyes flared wide with anger, and Jun suddenly couldn't breathe. Yami clawed his hands to wrap coils of darkness around Jun's neck, strangling him slowly.
"You were a fool to show up here," Yami snapped. "Do you know why we are here?"
Jun tried to gasp for air, but his breathes were raspy and short.
"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you!" Yami chuckled manically. "You were the first one to force open the gate all those years ago! Remember! You started all of this!"
"Oh, yes!" Yami laughed. "All those poor souls that died in that sacrifice are coming back. You gave me thousands of soldiers to work for me. I couldn't have done it without you! But I can't have you live anymore. The saying goes, 'the one who opened the door, must be the one to close it.' I must remove that at all cost."
Yami released his hold on Jun and he walked a few meters away. Jun finally breathed in before he coughed and choked; his chest was burning. Yami raised his arm and sliced his finger through air. An ear shattering crack rang in the air like lightening. A blinding portal opened before them and a strong gush whipped Jun's face, as if a wind tunnel was blowing through it. Yami calmly stood behind the portal, unharmed but the light and the wind.
"I wonder," Yami shouted. "What happens when a spirit actually eats a soul that once set foot in Paradise?"
Fujiwara released his hold on Jun and stepped farther away from the entrance. Jun felt stranded and naked facing the portal. A spirit emerged from the gate; its body floating into the air and circling like a hawk. Jun managed to stand on his feet and he tried to run for it. Suddenly, he heard four loud pops behind him.
Jun whirled around and saw Sho cast a silver chipmunk. The spirit screeched and fled away from the Patronus light. Ohno, Aiba, and Nino also raised their wands as more spirits started pouring out of the portal.
"You guys," Jun gasped.
"Jun! Your wand!" Nino tossed it, and Jun caught it.
"No!" Yami yelled. "I will not let you escape!"
Fujiwara flicked his wand and Nino was sent spinning in the air. Sho and Ohno tried to maintained the spirits away from them, while Aiba dueled with Fujiwara. The rooftop was filled with lights of green and red. Jun ran towards Yami, his wand brandished out.
Yami jumped out of harms way. Jun continued to throw hexes, but Yami was flexible and acrobatic away from Jun's spells. The portal sealed itself shut without Yami standing next to it, but there was still two spirits circling above them. Finally, Yami stood still and summoned his dark shadows. They suddenly emerged from the ground and lifted Jun up. He struggled to fight free from its grip, but then he felt another coil around his neck again.
"I will not have you close the Gates of Paradise," Yami shouted. "I will end you!"
Jun glanced up and saw one spirit staring down at him hungrily. The spirit's body bleed into red and swan dive towards him, its arms reaching out and its eyes pitiful and dark. Suddenly, a blast of white light knocked the spirit away, followed by a second spell that distracted Yami, releasing Jun yet again.
Nino had his wand raised with a steady hand. Jun saw just in time as Ohno held down the other spirit with a spell as Sho threw the glass orb. The spirit was quickly sucked in and trapped.
Yami grunted, "Enough of this!"
He snapped his fingers, and five individuals popped out of thin air. They looked startled, and a woman screamed when she saw the remaining spirit over her.
"Feast!" Yami's voice echoed.
Without a second thought, Jun tried firing more spells at the spirit, but it quickly learned from its fallen brethren. The spirit projected a force wave and blew Nino and Jun farther away, as well as disorienting their vision. Jun tried to fight the headache away, and he could still hear Aiba fighting off the madman. He heard a scream and a body collapsing.
Aiba was hit full blast with Fujiwara's spell. Jun saw Aiba fall on his back, but his wand rolled from his hand.
"No...Aiba," Jun moaned. He slowly got up on his knee. "Damn it."
Sho was about to cast his Patronus again, but Yami conjured more of the dark powers. This time, he coiled around Sho and Ohno from fighting back. Jun managed to blink away the dizziness, but he was too late.
The spirit had already ate all five souls and has transformed into a ghost. Before, its body was almost transparent and fog-like. Now as a ghost, its body was translucent like the ghost from the recording. This time it was male. Its hair cropped short, and its eyes deeply sunken like a skull with one a small speck of light inside.
Fujiwara was sharp. He saw Jun and Nino recovering and he quickly cast a spell on them. Jun was suddenly slammed back down, as if heavy weights were on his back. Nino grunted, but neither of them could get up. Sho and Ohno were helpless as well.
"Go ahead," Yami smirked, "Take your choosing."
The ghost just lolled its head until his eyes rested on the closest body.
"No," Jun whispered.
The ghost slowly drifted towards Aiba, who was still moaning in pain from his duel.
"Aiba!" Sho struggled to breathe. "Wake up!"
"Huh?" Aiba groaned.
"Aiba!" Jun shouted louder. "Look out!"
Aiba opened his eyes just in time to see the ghost dove down at him, but it was too late to reach for his wand. Jun watched in horror as the ghost absorbed itself into his body.
Sho and Ohno were dropped from Yami's shadow grasp, and Jun and Nino were released as well.
"We shall take our leave here," Yami said. "I will come back for you, Jun. Have fun watching your friend lose his soul."
Jun angrily fired one last spell at Yami, but he disappeared into shadow. Fujiwara also Apparated, and they were alone with Aiba. He was still twitching and jerking his limbs. He was trying to fight off the ghost from possessing him.
"Aiba!" Sho ran up to him, he dropped his wand and grasped his shoulders. "Aiba! Listen to me...Masaki!"
"This is no good," Ohno mumbled. "I'll have to get my uncle."
"Then go!" Sho shouted desperately, and Ohno grabbed Nino's shoulder to Side-Along Apparate.
Just then, Aiba went still, and his head dropped. Jun panicked as he remembered the ill-fated aftermath from the studio. They watched in silence until Aiba lifted his head, his bangs blocking his eyes.
"Aiba?" Sho said, quietly. "Aiba, are you there?"
It must have been the longest minutes until Jun saw his eyes, pale like a blind man. Aiba slammed his palm against Sho's chest, and Sho was pushed back meters away before he collapsed on the concrete. Jun quickly raised his wand, but Aiba clawed his hand and Jun felt his wrist twist. He dropped his wand, and he too was thrown far away.
"Interesting," Aiba spoke. "A wizard manifest more power than a regular human. But he's certainly putting up a fight."
"Give Aiba back, you bastard!" Sho shouted.
Aiba easily drew them in closer and they were hopeless like controlled puppets.
"It will take some work to consume his soul," Aiba smirked. "Perhaps if he watches his friends be tortured, his soul will comply."
Jun dropped to the floor and felt sharp nails scratching deep into his flesh. He cried and winced as he looked down and saw his shirt get ripped apart. Jun saw blood as the scars ran deeper.
"Aiba...don't give in!" Sho yelled. "Fight back!"
"Remember us!" Jun begged. "We're your friends!"
The clawing became less as the possessed Aiba slowly stepped away. Jun watched as Aiba grabbed his head, trying to control himself. He wish he could do something to help Aiba, but Jun didn't know the proper way to get rid of the ghost. Finally, a pop was heard, and Ohno and Nino reappeared with Naruse at his side. Aiba quickly looked up and glared at the new intruders. The ghost suppressed them to the ground from moving, but then it eyed at Jun.
"Hurry!" Sho yelled.
"I need to get closer," Naruse grunted, trying to get back up from the heavy gravity.
Jun tried to get up as well, but then Aiba stood over him.
"This is the Gate Keeper?" Aiba smirked. "The one who opened the door may also close the Gates of Paradise forever. Then, I shall be the first to eat your soul!"
Aiba opened his mouth and Jun saw it. The ghost's eye was staring at him down from his throat. Jun never saw anything so terrifying. From a distance, he heard a voice. A long string of enchantments like an exorcism. But Jun was feeling faint. The ghost was close to absorbing his soul. The last thing he saw was Aiba's mouth closing, along with the chanting fading away.
Everything was black.
* * *
They were staying at a safe house. It belonged to Nakai Masahiro. Apparently, he's also helping Naruse with the Paradise business. Nino was starting to wonder just how many idol wizards are secretly helping the Ministry. Nino was sitting in the living room with Ohno. Aiba was in another room, laying unconscious with Sho by his side. Naruse was checking on Jun to see if his soul was already collected when they captured the ghost. There was no way Nino could sleep. In a way, he was glad they were able to find Jun, but he was also disappointed they didn't do a proper job.
"Maybe...we really aren't cut out for this," Ohno finally spoke. "We couldn't even save those five who lost their souls to the spirit. Yami and Fujiwara got away, and now Aiba and Jun might never wake up."
Nino sat in the armchair, staring at the fireplace. The wood was already burnt out and only the embers glowed. Nino and Ohno were already dressed of their wounds, and they'll have to think of an excuse to explain to their managers. Somehow, his idol jobs were the last thing on his mind.
"Hey...how can we keep this up?" Ohno asked. "Yami is too powerful."
"Do you remember what he said?" Nino said. "The ghost? About Jun?"
"He can close the way to Paradise for good. He might be our only chance," Nino sighed. "The one who opened the portal...Jun has to be the one to finally close it."
"I thought we did," Ohno uttered. "Back then...the portal was closed and the war was over."
"But it wasn't," Nino said. "The spirits are still falling out by Yami's will. If what he said was true...then-"
"Jun is awake," Naruse entered the room. "He's weak, but he's alive and well. His soul is still intact."
Nino sighed a breath of relief.
"Uncle, there's something I want to talk to you about," Ohno stood up. Nino could sense that he wanted to be alone, so Nino also got up.
"I'll got check on Jun," Nino said, quietly and left the room.
He climbed up the stairs and walked past Aiba's room. The door was slightly open and he saw Aiba sleeping on the bed with Sho sitting next to him on a wooden chair. The moment Naruse performed the exorcism, his body started to revolt and shake. Nino remembered watching the ghost spill out from his mouth and Ohno threw the glass orb, capturing the ghost. None of them knew if Aiba's soul was lost. Nino saw Sho grasp Aiba;s hand even tighter.
Nino continued down the hall until he entered Jun's room. He was sitting propped up with his pillow, looking out the window. His chest was wrapped in bandages from the wounds, as well as sporting a few bruises on his jaw and cheekbone. Nino walked in, but Jun didn't even turned to look as Nino saw down on the chair next to his bed.
There was a long awkward silence between them. Somehow, Nino wasn't expecting a thank you, and neither did he wanted one.
"How are you feeling?" Nino asked, his voice soft and husky.
Jun croaked an answer, "A failure."
Nino dropped his gaze as he tried to suppress a sob.
"Why didn't you just left me there?" Jun groaned.
"No, I would never," Nino replied, lifting his head up. "You are too important to me. I knew something was wrong because I know you, Jun. I will always look out for you, and I-"
"But it was all my fault," Jun uttered. He finally turned his head and stared back at Nino with pitiful eyes. "Just as Yami said."
Nino bit his lower lip.
"Is it true?" Jun asked, his eyes glossy and red. "When I first portal to Paradise all those years ago...did I started all this?"
He didn't know the right answer. A part of him was starting to think it was true, but Nino didn't want to be a negative energy anymore. He want to believe there is still hope. There was still so much they didn't know, so Nino did the best he could to comfort Jun.
"It wasn't your fault," Nino said. "It was destiny that came down upon us. We still have unfinished business. If what we heard was true, then the opener must be the one to close the gates forever." Nino tried to smile. "We can still do this, Jun. We'll be with you along the way."
His heart broke when he saw a single tear trail down Jun's cheek. There was no sense of optimism in his eyes.
"A war between two worlds?" Jun shook his head, and Nino's smile faded. "I can't do it, Nino. I'm not like you guys. It was always you to pick up the slack. I'm not the descendants of the mighty Vocal Wizards here to save the day. I can't do anything right."
"No...Jun, that's not true."
"I'm just me," he sobbed, "A Muggle-born wizard, who knew nothing but abuse power and brought calamity to our homeland...I'm just not strong enough."
Nino swallowed a hard lump in his throat, but he kept his voice steady. "None of us are, but that doesn't mean we'll give up. I won't and I thought you wouldn't either."
"I thought so too," Jun said, looking away. "But I was being stupid again."
"What do you mean?"
"Nino, the only reason why I decided to help Naruse was because...I wanted to redeem myself," Jun confessed. "All these years, I thought I have gotten over my dark past, but I still have nightmares. I have worked hard as an idol. I have worked my butt off to be forgiven, but it never really went away. And I still see people watching me, expecting me to slip up again. And I think to myself, am I worth having this life? I have always been doubting myself."
"Jun, why?" Nino sighed, feeling his eyes getting misty. "Why do you do this to yourself?"
"I thought that just this once I can save someone," Jun said. "I thought that I can finally get rid of the nightmares. But now it's alot bigger than I thought. I've tried to save you guys, but I end up endangering you all instead. I've failed."
More tears sleek down his face as Jun tried to hide his face. Nino wanted to say more, but the words couldn't come out. He would be lying to himself if he said anymore. Nino tried to place his hand on Jun's shoulder.
"Just go," Jun gasped. "Leave me alone."
Nino slowly withdrew his hand into a soft fist. He lowered his gaze again before he got up and left the room, feeling also like a failure.
end chapter 6
To Chapter 7 http://arashiforyou.livejournal.com/50246.html