"Are we actually supposed to be here by ourselves?" Yata glanced sideways at Saruhiko, and almost stumbled as his sword caught on his legs - again. He tugged irritably at the hilt. Such a pain in the ass. "I mean, we're supposed to be part of a team or something, right?"
He got a raised eyebrow for his trouble. "Since when do you care about the rules?"
"I don't!" It was the truth - so much of Scepter 4 was about rules, and most of them were stupid, as far as Yata could see. Rules about when to draw your sword, how you used it, who you could use it on, how much of a report you needed to write depending on when and how and why it was used. Rules about what to say, where to stand, what to wear, how to act... It was stifling; he felt like he couldn't breathe sometimes - mainly because he was afraid he'd do it wrong. "I just don't want that bitchy lieutenant to yell at us."
Saruhiko shrugged dismissively. "She's not important. Just ignore her."
"Easy for you to say." Yata scowled up at the supposedly abandoned warehouse in front of them. It was dark out, so the area was cloaked in shadow - kind of a cliche place for a drug cache to be hidden, but no one said criminals were geniuses. "The Blue King likes you, so you're safe."
And they only let me in because he wanted you to join. It was the part that he never admitted out loud - honestly, it kind of stung. He'd worked hard building up his skills back when he and Saruhiko were just partners on their own, and now it was like none of them were worth anything, and the people in his new clan all just humored him because his best friend was smart. His skateboard was collecting dust back at their dorm.
Saruhiko frowned, and looked like he was about to respond to that dig about the Blue King, but was interrupted by the sudden chorus of alarmed shouts ringing out from the direction of the warehouse.
They exchanged a quick, startled glance, then broke into a run.
In front of them, there were flashes of red exploding out from the darkened entrance, like a kind of fireworks show. "What the hell is that?" Yata demanded, still gripping his sword's hilt to keep it from tripping him up as he worked to keep up with Saruhiko's long-legged stride.
This would've been a hell of a lot easier if he'd had his skateboard... but no, that was another stupid rule.
"Can't you tell?" There was a hint of impatience in Saruhiko's tone, but Yata knew better than to take it personally - they'd been together long enough now for him to get to know his partner's quirks. "It's aura - another clan. Red clan, based on the color."
"'Ch, seriously?" This could get annoying if that was the case. But at least it would be less boring than dealing with the usual trash. Yata couldn't help but grin a bit, feeling an old, almost forgotten edge of exhileration. "You and I can take 'em, though, right?"
That earned him another raised eyebrow - but it was more of a 'do you really need to ask that?' than a 'what the hell are you talking about?' Yata's grin widened.
Finally, something exciting to do...
As it turned out, that was an understatement.
They'd just about reached the entrance when something sort of flickered in the air, and the entire scene in front of them seemed to erupt into a brilliant, firy red. Yata halted in his tracks and nearly stumbled, caught off guard by that sudden burst of what looked - and felt - like raw power.
Beside him, he thought he heard Saruhiko curse, but that only vaguely registered.
He kind of wondered - in that same vague place at the back of his head - why he didn't think to cover his face or duck or something.
The blast of red power seemed to split off, revealing the man at the center - tall, red-haired, and gold-eyed. He stood with his hands in his pockets as if none of this was out of the ordinary, casually gazing out at the wreckage of the drug dealing hideout as the smoke cleared around him.
So cool... The words kind of came into Yata's head before he really thought it through - but seriously, the guy looked like an action hero or something. How could you not think that was awesome?
Saruhiko clicked his tongue, and Yata glanced at him, startled. "I didn't think they'd have their King with them," he muttered. For some reason, he looked really irritated. There was a kind of tension to him that didn't seem normal, that was for sure - his eyes were all narrow and his brows had knotted up at the center of his forehead. "We might as well just go, since that's the case."
"Hah?" Yata raised an eyebrow, and glanced back at the red-haired man. So, he's a King? He was way more of a badass than Munakata, but that just had to make it more exciting to follow him, right? "Why should we go? Weren't we going to bust those assholes with the drugs?"
"I'm pretty sure they don't need any more busting than that," Saruhiko pointed out dryly, and clicked his tongue. "All that's left is clean-up, but if you want to go ahead and get involved, be my guest. You'll just have to spend the rest of the night writing up a report about it."
Ugh. Yata made a face, feeling a little of his soul shrivel up at the thought. He stole another look at the red clan, now converging around their King, and blinked a little when he made eye-contact with a slender blond man. The man smiled at him, and somehow Yata found the corners of his mouth edging up in return.
Something about that guy put him at ease, and he wasn't sure why.
The man nudged his King's arm then, and that golden-eyed stare lazily shifted in their direction.
Yata didn't even have to wonder about the little thrill he got from being the focus of that gaze. So cool, so cool, so cool! What would it be like to be a clansman to a King like that? The red clan must be the most awesome force in the universe!
Saruhiko suddenly grabbed his elbow and jerked him back. "Let's go," he said shortly, obviously still bothered by something or other.
There was really no arguing with him when he got like that. Yata let out a frustrated breath, stole one final glance at the Red King, and turned, tugging his arm free and falling into step beside his best friend. "Yeah, yeah." He couldn't help but grin, all the same. "That was really awesome, though, wasn't it?"
"It's just the same kind of thing any King can do," Saruhiko mumbled in return. He was scowling for some reason, and wouldn't make eye contact. That tension from before hadn't gone away. "You could probably get the Captain to show you something similar; it's not that big a deal."
Yata frowned at him, a little thrown by the weird behavior. "Well, yeah, but not like that! I mean, that was really cool! You thought so too, right?"
Saruhiko clicked his tongue, still not looking at him, and didn't bother to answer.
"Ah, whatever, be like that!" Honestly, sometimes dealing with this guy could be a pain. Yata resisted the urge to look over his shoulder again, instead thinking back to the red burst of power and how it had shifted to reveal the Red King at its center, and grinned again, oddly excited. "I still think it was awesome!"
It was weird, though - and he didn't really feel like mentioning it - but...
Even though the red aura hadn't come anywhere near close enough to touch him, somehow it felt like his whole being was on fire, from the tips of his fingers all the way down to the very core of his soul.