The Gray Saga
By Allan "Hibiki" Bryant

Characters and story are © 2001-2006 Fred Gallagher & Rodney Caston, and are used without permission. This work © 2004-2006 Allan J. Bryant.

gray (gr)
a. Dull or dark: a gray, rainy afternoon.
b. Lacking in cheer; gloomy: a gray mood.

____________________________________________________________________
Hearing Gray
By
Hibiki


The room was dark and cold, the only flicker of light was from the small TV screen in the corner of the room. I sat before the game system, one of the few items left from Largo and my crazy adventure. My eyes grew sad for a moment.

Our time in Japan hadn't been very good, and had ended in a disaster. Even Seraphim had been quiet, though she had been supportive following the experience. Her attitude towards my actions as of late, however, was not supportive, but I didn't blame the little Angel.

We had returned to bills and foreclosures. Eviction notices and the lot. For a few days Largo and I were on the streets. But before we had to go any lower, the bills that had piled up had been taken care of Largo of all people, selling off his computers and getting a reliable job. Largo had changed since his time in Japan; he seemed more distant and withdrawn, and seeming to be only a husk of what he had been before. I often caught the man looking at a small dog-eared photo he kept in his wallet of a certain Idol singer. It was the only photo he had in there, so I knew it meant a lot to him, because he only took it out when he thought he was alone or when it rained. The last time he saw her was when it had rained that night before they left. Largo had recently begun going to college, into brain surgery of all things. To my surprise, he was getting all A's. The old Largo would never have done that. While he still plays his games religiously, it's not the same, as if he's off in another world. The fact that I see how sad his eyes are when he looks at that photo tells me everything. We had come across a radio station playing one of her songs not too long ago. "Erika Hayasaka's Grey Wings". Largo had listened to the song from beginning to end, never blinking, never making a sound, as her voice sang a sad, lonely song about a man who had left her after mending her heart. Once the song was over Largo rose and left the apartment without a word, returning a day later completely drunk and a sobbing mess. He hadn't had a drink since returning to America before then, and he had never had one since.

I figured it was about Largo. Partly because of his reaction, and because, in a way, he had helped her stand on her own again. Dom's influence on her fans had driven her to her knees, and only Largo had been there for Hayasaka-san. I had been working to get closer to her and to get money for myself and Largo. Kimi… Since she was working on her acting, Erika-san had been left alone, left to fend for herself when she needed help. Largo had come to her aid, and while screwing up a lot, he helped her regain her confidence. They had fallen in love, and despite everything, they had seemed very happy. It only lasted a month before the fans found out. Around that time I had finally saved enough for our tickets. I told him as he nursed a drink, even then he was drinking less. He looked at my eyes. He looked so tired. For two weeks he had fought the crowd as his and Erika's relationship had been pulled apart by jealous fanboys. That afternoon, as I found out later on through Her, Erika had been threatened by one of the jealous fans. The man had pulled out a knife, and if Largo had not interceded she might have been seriously wounded, maybe even killed. He looked at the smile on my face, the tickets in my hand, and then finally rose to his feet. He said he would be back later and left. That was when it had begun to rain. He had gone to see her.

It was morning when he returned, Ping had tossed me out to change and I saw him slowly trudge up the steps. He was soaked, and when he looked at me I shivered, his eyes were haunted and dull. All he said was, "Okay, let's go back." I called her, told her what was up and said my goodbyes. I left Ping to help Yanagisawa in the store, and the two of us made for the airport. Kimiko was waiting for us. Or should I say was waiting for me.

The words we said have often been repeated in my mind since then, and I find myself wondering, how she really felt about me. I am such a chicken. The game's name had come up and I stared. "Sight", Kimiko's game. Tubassa had sent it to me not to long ago, but I had been scared to play it. Finally, today I broke down and began to play the game, my self-pity too dry to use as a shield, and listened to a voice I hadn't heard in almost a year. She sounded so beautiful. Old emotions stirred in me as my hands played the game with ease. It was almost as if Kimiko was Kotone, and he was… A slight bout of jealousy crossed my mind. I shook it off, told myself that it's only a game. Hours went by. Largo left for his night courses and I continued to sit in front of the screen, transfixed by the game, the voice of Kimiko, the girl I had fallen in love with, the one I had let go. It was nearing midnight, Largo would come home soon, and I was beginning to hear rain spatter against our roof when the game finally ended. I sighed, and the credits began to role within the game, when all of a suddenly everything went dark on the screen. I reached for the controls, wondering what had happened, when Kimiko's voice flooded the empty room again.

[Are you sad, Mr. Piro-san?] My head jerked up at the screen, my heart beat fast.

[Please, don't be, cheer up. I loved it when you smiled…. I had this made for you; I want to give this special copy to your friend to give to you, to tell you something I wanted to say the day you left.] I felt myself tense up.

[I… I had wanted you to stay; I had wanted you here to be with me, Mr. Piro-san. B-but the words….. The w-words just wouldn't come out.] I could tell she was crying, I knew that voice so well, and not just because of the game.

[I was scared of what might happen; scared you would do what Largo-san did to Erika the night before… So I just wanted to tell you now, hoping this reaches you. That…]

Words scrolled down the screen as her voice, sobbing, told the words I had longed to hear. She repeated them and something inside of me broke, my shoulders began to shake and sobs began to rack my body. I just couldn't stop crying, and that's how a somber Largo found me. He put a hand on my shoulder and looked to the screen, where the words she had said were printed.

{I love you, Piro.}



____________________________________________________________________
Sensing Gray.
By
Hibiki

I watched as Piro put in that game from Tubassa. I sighed, realizing yet again that he wouldn't go look for a job. I went into the kitchen to get a snack before I had to leave for school. After that I would head to my job; a small corporation had picked me up almost immediately when they heard I was an ex-cataclysm division agent. The money went to the apartment, paying off my tuition and supporting myself and Piro. Ever since we had returned, it seemed Piro was withdrawn from the world, much like I had been before our trip. I slowly picked at my bowl of instant ramen. My face blanched at the taste. The cardboard flavored ramen left something to be desired. The time me and Erika found that little ramen shop in Nerima, they had good noodles. I felt myself smile wistfully. She practically had to force feed me before I got the hang of chopsticks. My smile faltered; I idly played with the ramen as the chopsticks twirled slowly in the mess. I miss her so much. I resisted the urge to pull out that photo in my wallet.

I shook the thoughts from my mind as I finished off the ramen before grabbing my coat, called out to Piro to tell him I was leaving then headed out. I walked, despite having a car. It reminds me of Japan when I walk. It was always so crowded with cars, it was better to just walk. I recall having fun walking with everyone in Japan. Some of my most memorable moments were of Junpei, Piro, Kimiko, Erika, and I just walking, laughing, and hanging out. How odd. Back then, it seemed like I was so crazy, that everything was so skewed out of proportion. That Miho girl who graduated from my class, the gamer I remember so well, always ready for another game. How wrong I was regarding her... Zombie queen… What was I on? I wonder how she's doing. I wonder how they all are doing, if they're okay, safe, alive even, and… if she's found someone else by now. My face went slack as I tried to reign my feelings again. Why can't I get her out of my mind, even after everything? Clouds were forming in the north, and it looked like it would rain soon. I hurried on my way.

Class was the same as usual. Took a test, knew all of it. It was just something to keep my mind off her, something I could do in an attempt to become someone she could be proud of. Someone she could love, someone that her fans would appreciate. I sighed. It was fools errand if I ever saw one, and I doubt I will see her again. I know she said she didn't care, I know she said it was okay. But I know, had I stayed, I would have brought her down with me.

I finished my classes and headed to my work. The sky was growing dark and soon I saw lightning dancing among the clouds. My thoughts returned to Erika. When the fans found that I was seeing her, they went hostile. The month after, despite all the goodness and happiness we shared, will always be remembered by us by that last day. It was a lot like this weather. I met up with her at the park, like we normally did, and we would walk. She would be on my arm as we talked about nothing and everything at the same time. I have relived this moment so many times in my dreams and in my nightmares as well.

"Largo?" I looked to her; she smiled and pulled me into a kiss. I smiled at the memory, her lips were so soft, and I often find myself longing just to feel those lips against mine again. We lost ourselves in it and I almost didn't hear the sound of a knife being pulled. Pulling her to the side I felt the knife graze my side, a small wound, nothing I wasn't used to. But I what I wasn't used to was Erika's face as she saw the blood spill. That look of horror and fright pains me to this day. The attacker was a fan, a man who seemed to look at her with wild eyes, a glazed look as he said words to her. Her eyes, already wide with fear, widened more. After returning to America I looked up what he said. It was simply, 'If I cannot have you, no one will.' My blood chills at the remembrance of the words, just as it did then. I quickly moved to protect Erika as the man charged. He had little skill in blade fighting; a skill, believe it or not, all those years of gaming had given me. I broke his arm, knocked him out, and removed the weapon from his grasp. Sonoda came and arrested the man, and then my old associate in the Cataclysm Department told me the gist of Erika's situation, and just how much was at stake because of me. It was then that I knew I had to leave her. Silently, I took her home to the arms of Kimiko, and in my halting Japanese asked the younger girl to watch her. Then, I left for home. I didn't want to leave Erika. I didn't want to leave Japan. I felt more alive there then I had ever felt in America. But I knew.

I made it to my workplace, and as usual the other company members left, leaving me alone to watch the building from the guard house. A few hours passed and my mind began to wander again to those times. Knowing I would be alone I pulled the photo from my pocket. My idol angel, a smile just for me, for I knew her face by heart. The photo had seen a lot of use since my return to America. I am so very thankful I scanned in the picture as soon as I got it because if I were to lose the only piece I have left of her… I would die. The day I was given it was the day Piro told me about the tickets, a way 'home', too.

"Largo! I finally got enough to go home!" I looked up at him. I felt so drained, so tired. I fought everyone so hard to be with her, and after realizing that I had to let her go, nothing felt right anymore. I looked at the tickets as if they were both a blessing and a curse. I took a sip of my then tepid b33r. Ever since I had found something to focus on, the urge to drink had long since faded. Erika was my focus, and even to this day, still is. I rose, wincing as my own movements tugged at my small wound. Piro never knew I was injured that day. Amazing that so much could happen in one day. I told Piro I would be back as he turned to look at me. As I left the rains began as I went to a payphone and called her.

She agreed to see me at the park like before, since it was between her house and Megagamers. I stood at our spot, feeling the rain soak me as I saw her approach. She kept dry under a dark umbrella while wrapped in an overcoat. As she drew closer I felt something inside myself begin to ache and I pulled her to me. I told her what was happening, that I had to leave. Somewhere along the way I began to cry, the salty tears mixing with the water that was being cast down on us. Yeah I know, Mr. B4d455 Largo crying over some chick. I guess that shows how much she meant… means to me. I never cried that hard before. She knew what had I said and only asked me once not to go, her calm face slowly falling away as tears began to form in her eyes.

"Largo, please stay, I don't care about them, I don't care about what anyone else thinks. I just want you to be you." I silenced her with a single kiss, taking in all that I could of her, while slipping a ring onto her finger. It was to be our second month anniversary in a little over a week's time, and that ring was to be her present. What, surprised I could be romantic? I was being myself. Erika always brought the best out of me. When I released her, she was sobbing. She knew I was going.

"Please be happy. Goodbye, Erika." My final words to her, I turned and began walking away, trying very hard not to look back. If I had looked back and saw her crying I would have never been able to leave her. I failed, and when I did look back I found she was gone, almost as if she had never been there. But I know in my heart she had. She had changed me so much. I would never be able to forget her, not even if it cost me my life.

I stirred as the time nears midnight, and the shift changed as usual. Carl, or whatever his name is, took over. His wife had just divorced him; he at least got an end to his relationship. I still wonder what she thinks about me, about that ring I left her. Does she wear it? My question was answered in a way, not too long ago. I heard Erika singing a song on the radio, a new one. Its sad haunting melody echoed the pain I felt from that day, and from it, the pure mindless urge to hop on a plane and return to my home and my love. I had to get incredibly drunk to stop myself from doing just that. That was probably the first time Piro ever saw me cry. Piro still denies everything, as if it never happened; he hasn't changed. It is as if he is asleep from reality. I, on the other hand, did change. I awoke and moved on, and I know, one day, I will try my damnedest to return to her. But now, I am not good enough.

As I opened the door to our apartment, I heard the sounds of crying. I quickly ran over to Piro and noticed he was not hurt. I laid a hand on his shoulder as I looked to the TV.
{I love you, Piro.}

I shook my head ruefully. Are you awake now, Piro?

____________________________________________________________________
Speaking Gray
By
Hibiki

<I waited for you to come, I was about to leave.> My character, Miyuki, reminded me of why I hated perky girls. They drained you, and trying to talk like one was very, VERY draining to me. The director must have realized this because he called for a thirty minute break, knowing everyone was a little edgy. We had a week left to do this piece and I was desperately far behind in my reading. But no one blamed me. It was the one year anniversary of when Piro had left for the states. I had come a long way since then. I finished Sight and was the voice of Multi in a new To Heart game, a non-H version this time. Now I was Miyuki in a brand new game from Cubesoft, my old employers. Sight... The reason I became so popular. Because I made Kotone so real, everyone thought she truly was. I made her become a three-dimensional girl… all because of Piro...

I sighed, heading back to a small lounge area that I knew had really comfortable seats. I sat down, my now warm bottle of water tapping on my knee as I remembered him again. It seemed like ever since I made that special version for him he had been all I could think about. Like that day.

I waited for the two men to come; the tall red haired one had a lot of explaining to do and the little blonde fanboy? My heart hurt. This was it, he was leaving. What was I going to say? I knew what I wanted to say, but I was scared. I was so nervous I almost didn't see them walk past. I glimpsed a flash of red, Largo's hair, out of the corner of my eye, and turned to see them walking into the entrance.

"Piro-san!" They halted. I looked into Largo's eyes. All the anger I had for him faded as those eyes understood it all. He nodded, said something quietly to me that I didn't hear to my heart's pounding beat. Before I could respond he turned and walked away. Piro stood there, his eyes slightly pained. Yet I sensed the happiness in them. Like the happiness I had heard in his voice over the phone not too long ago.

"Kimiko-san, why are you here?" Why? Was it not obvious?

"I… I wanted to see you off, I wanted to … I..." The words failed me. After all that planning on my words and everything it was catching up to me. I wanted him to stay; I was going to ask… At least I was going to tell him how I felt, but nothing came out. He placed his hands on my shoulders with a concerned look on his face. It was then that I realized I was crying. No matter how hard I tried, I could not say the words. I straightened and finally forced something out of my mouth..

"I hope you have a safe journey… I will miss you Piro-san…" I pulled him close. I almost kissed him, but I changed directions and hugged him. He held me firmly against him.

"I will miss you too, Kimiko-san." I shuddered another sob as I realized I had chickened out. I knew I could not do it. I pulled away from him, trying to smile just when he was about to walk away from my life.

"Be happy Piro-san." I turned and ran from him. I could hear him calling out for me, but I did not turn back, because then he would have seen how badly it hurt me. I was called there soon after about work and began to make my way back. The train ride and the subsequent walk was far too short as my mind was still reeling from my loss and cowardice. About an hour later I walked into Cubesoft to finish off Sight. It was due to be released next month, making the entire studio hectic. I was probably the reason for it given my mood swings as of late.

I owe them a lot now that I think of it. When they saw how disarrayed I was they held off everything until I felt better. Sayuri-san helped me so much during the week that followed to get me back on my feet. After we finished she allowed me to make a special copy. While making that version, she held my hand as I said those words. Even though I never was able to tell them to your face, and even if you forget me, I know at least I was able to tell you somehow.
I love you Piro. I don't know when I started to, but I love you very much.
My bottled water fell to the ground, forgotten, as I curled up into the chair, tears falling down my cheeks once again.

I miss you so much, Piro.

____________________________________________________________________
Singing Gray
By
Hibiki

I remember the day he left. Off to try and admit her feelings to Piro at least once, Kimiko had run off to the airport. I knew she would not succeed. She was not ready yet, and neither was he. They were still too caught up in their own worlds and now, Piro's had led him and Largo on a path home. Largo and I had already said our goodbyes. In fact, I was still crying when Kimiko left, hours after I had seen him. I knew why he was doing it, why my Largo was leaving me, and it made me love him all the more.

Why did Largo go? Simply put, to save me the pain from losing him to my fans. For a month he had tried his best to keep them happy, but their obsessions towards who she once was had eventually been redirected to intimidation, many of those involving death threats. Towards me, to Largo, and to people we knew. The latter of those were the ones that scared Largo and I the most. He was so supportive, so calm despite all that was pushed on both of us.

You probably wonder what I originally found attractive in him. Sometimes I wonder myself, for when I met, I mean truly met him; he was deep in his own world. It was a colorful world full of zombies, full of good and evil. His world was detailed with his odd l33tness and other such things. But to me, it was something new, something exciting and set apart from the dull monotone life my existence had become following my... unpleasant incident.
He was interesting. Unlike anyone I had ever met before and, quite frankly, afterwards as well. He was a one of a kind. And for a time, he was my one of a kind. I smiled wistfully. Despite who he was, and who he was becoming through our time together, I had never gained anything more than admiration and love for him. He was a stubborn fool who made a lot of mistakes, but when it came down to it, he chose me over everyone. He pulled that gun on that bastard Dom, making that man finally leave me alone. Despite Dom's threats, Largo only smiled grimly and told his former friend off. That was when I realized I had fallen for him, and that maybe, despite all that weirdness, gruff, and stupidity he had covered over himself, I finally saw the Largo hidden underneath.

It intrigued me, and the more I searched for it, the more I found myself falling for him. As the months went by each new crazy adventure with him became something I began hoping for, even if it seemed like merely more of the same. Then, when it seemed that things would go no further between us, something happened to him after one of the more dangerous days. The usual dumb expression in his eyes changed to the same look he would adopt when faced with the fanatic with the knife. The sharp witted, calculating, and intelligent Largo had returned. In a way, you could say it was my Largo, the one I had longed to see again. He kissed me for the first time then... I had been so shocked, that I slapped him. But he just laughed as I blushed at my reaction. Slowly I grew used to these kinds of actions, which only I saw. He still acted like the ignorant Largo with the others, but with me, he was... well...

He was my Largo, and I was his Erika. I finally told him how I felt, and he the same. We had known each other for about a year and a half, almost ten months since Dom's interference. After admitting to our feelings, we had a month of pure happiness. I felt like I was a school girl again. I laughed and I didn't have a care in the world. He brought me fun and carefree days, never asking for more than to see me smile. He was so romantic; it was hard to believe he was the same beer swilling moron who I first met at the Tokyo Gaming Convention. He never let me stay in my icy moods for long. He always knew what would make me laugh, and after all those years, I finally felt the feeling I had lost return to me. He had become my wings that would lift me up.

Then news broke out about us, and we struggled to keep everything under control. A month went by, and we were slowly being ground down under the pressure... Then that fan came, and destroyed everything we had fought so hard for.

That night, when I found him standing in the rain, he wore those eyes that still haunt me in my dreams, turning them into nightmares. So tired, so pain filled, they were not the eyes of my Largo, the fighter who defended me, the gamer who always had a crazy tale to tell me when I was bored. He wasn't even the l33t master Junpei had continued to call him, even after everything that had passed between them. He was just Largo, tired of hiding behind the facade of the games. He was struggling, I could see it. He took me into his arms, feeling his shoulders begin to shake as he told me that Piro had said they needed to go home. That it was probably for the best. I told him it didn't matter, no matter what happened I would stay with him. He pulled back, and I saw tears, the first, and last, time I ever saw tears. He pulled me into a kiss, I held onto him, hoping that if I could I would hold him there like that forever. I felt something slip onto my finger. I gasped, and in the shock of feeling the ring, let go. He pulled away, saying to me his promise. Then he spun around while asking me to be happy, and left. I felt so hurt and lonely that I just turned and ran, running home into the arms of Kimiko. I never saw Largo again. I made one more song then told my fans to stay out of my life forever. It was the one I wrote for him. Gray wings. Since, I never had any fan boy problems. All I have to do is wait for him.

I still wear that ring, the symbol of his promise, and I will remain waiting for him for the rest of our lives if need be. Because, I am his Erika, now and forever, and he is my Largo. I love him, and I know he loves me.

Why? Because I received a letter today from Largo and Piro. Well, a letter addressed to me from Largo and one addressed to Kimiko from Piro. Both were doing well, both working to get enough to come see us next year. Kimiko will be happy when they do. Me? Well... I'm already ecstatic.

I hugged the letter a little, feeling the loneliness fade some; I had been alone all week with Kimiko off at her jobs. I could smell his cologne on the letter, very faintly. He must have put it on before he wrote this. He did say he was late for work, but when he found my address he could not stop himself from writing to me right then and there. I smiled a little, it was that same horrible scent he always wore and I had always yelled at him for getting. I still hate it, but right now, I don't care. I reread the last line again in my head.

With all my love, L4rg0.

Idiot.


A Moment of Joy Refrained (Also known as Gray Wings)

It was a dark and lonely life,
Things had gone so bad before.
My heart was full of strife,
I was tired and could do no more…

But he came to me and lifted me up,
He gave to me the hope of his love.
The time that we spent, the joy I yea-rn-ed for,
He let me fly, like a beau-ti-ful dove.

(Erika & vocals)
Our love was so pure, and always the same.
His hope was my cure, and my life became.
A moment of joy refrained

A moment of joy… Refrained.

(Erika)
But then the time had come,
He had to go.
The place he had come from.
But he gave me something to show.

He had made my life so bright,
The days had come gone in the night.
The joy we knew just like the light,
It had faded against their endless fight.

But he gave me a ring and said wait for me.
I'll return someday, just wait and see.
The love that I had has never faded.
The truth that we are forever fated.

I know it is true. The love that I feel,
Like the ring on my finger, I know it is real.
I will wait to fly again in the sky!

(Erika and vocals)
Our love was so pure, and always the same.
His hope was my cure, and my life became.
A moment of joy refrained.

A moment of joy… Refrained

(Erika)

A moment…. Of joy refrained.

____________________________________________________________________

Remembering Gray
By
Hibiki

He was playing on a late autumn day; his mother was nearby, reading a "mushy book", as his daddy always called it. His breath showed in the brisk, cool air.

At seven years old, Itaru Sonoda was a bright and happy child. Like his grandfather, though, he had an adventurous side that his grandmother and mother hated. He had run off chasing some of the other boys around playing cops and robbers and had gotten lost in the dense brush of the park. What seemed like hours came to pass, and Itaru, now scratched and nicked by the bushes, finally saw a clearing ahead of him. He pushed his exhausted form up and out of the brush and into the clearing.

He found himself upon an old and forgotten path; weeds and overgrowth trying to reclaim it. Here he heard faint humming so very sad, yet seemingly perfect. It flowed from one note to another almost rhythmically. He followed the sound, taking note that this part of the park had been unused for years. Finally he came across an old park bench that had seen better years, and upon it was a pretty girl wearing an old styled dress. Her humming stopped when she heard his footsteps approach. Her head rose and Itaru saw she had tears in her eyes. She looked to be about sixteen, and her platinum colored hair shined brightly in the morning light. Her hair, somewhat long, was pulled down into a simple ponytail that trailed down her neck.

<"Hello."> She called out, a high but sweet voice. Itaru bowed and repeated her greeting.

<"Hello.">

<"Not too many people come here anymore, are you lost?"> She asked. He nodded. She patted the old bench with her hand, motioning for him to come sit with her. He obliged, but was slightly cautious. His family had warned him not to trust strangers. But this girl, inexplicably, seemed very safe. Upon her ears, he noticed, were twin objects. They seemed more like actual parts of her ears, and they looked just like wiper blades on a car's window. She smiled brightly at him.

<"My name is Ping, what's yours?">

<"I… Itaru, Itaru Sonoda."> Ping seemed shocked at the name, and her smile appeared to be a little more forced than before.

<"Really I know a girl named Yuki Sonoda, she is really nice, and she has a crush on my Onii-chan!"> Itaru blinked. Yuki was his mother's name.

<"Why are you here Ping-san?"> he asked her. She smiled and looked up at the small patch of sky visible through the leaves.

<"I'm waiting for Onii-chan to come back. This was his favorite place to go. If he comes back everything will be okay and everyone will be happy again."> Her disposition faded into an emotionless look.

<"Where did he go?"> the young boy asked as his eyes seemed to grow heavier.

<"He left for America, back to his home a week ago. But I know he will come back. I know it."> For several minutes they spoke of a young American man and his fiery haired friend then Itaru heard no more as he drifted off to sleep, exhausted from his trek. He fell against her gently, her body warm and soft. Upon her was a smell of earth, like someone who worked in a garden all their life. He felt himself being lifted up in careful arms. He was being carried by someone who was warm and smelled nice. Then he heard voices.

<"Itaru!?"> It was his mother… He felt himself being passed into her arms as he struggled awake. His mother's smell of cooking and books replaced the former scent.

<"Momma?"> His eyes opened to see his mother, 29 year old Yuki Sonoda. In fact, Yuki looked very much like her own mother when she had been that age, and was still beautiful as she was in high school. Around them were the children he had played with, along with their parents. Yuki hugged him closer.

<"Itaru, oh thank God, we were looking all over for you!"> Itaru looked around for his savior. And there she was, away from the rest of them with a peaceful smile upon her face. She seemed distant then, not as real as she had been when he first saw her. Yuki looked up also, noticing Ping. The stranger looked uneasily at his mother.

<"Ping-chan… Thank you for finding him… thank you.... Where have you been, Piro-san has been looking all over for you."> At the sound of his name Ping snapped out of her quiet reserve.

<"AH! Piro Onii-chan! I gotta go back and wait for him. Bai bai, Itaru-kun!"> With that she raced off. Upon her back there had been a long streak of black and a tear in her person so deep she should not have been alive or moving. The late autumn rain began to roll in, and Ping soon disappeared from sight.

* * *

Itaru went back a few more times after that, sometimes with his mother, but they never saw Ping again. Just the lonely bench in a forgotten part of the park.

It was like she had never been there, nothing more than an image from long ago.

A ghost remembering the past.

____________________________________________________________________

Playing Gray
By
Hibiki

"Battles are only fun if you don't get hurt. Even in small battles I always seem to get hurt."

Even then I knew it was coming. The pain, the one thing I couldn't stay back and hide from. Two foreigners had come to Tokyo, my home. Two that I knew all too well. I played them, like any other person at that time. Like nothing more than a game of chess, in which they were nothing more than pawns. I wanted to stay aloof.

"That's why it's more fun to watch other people play."

But now that I look back at it, I too was, and still am, playing the very same game as them. Even as I moved them about, all the while loving the feeling that I was controlling them, I was making myself move as well. I was nothing more than a pawn.

My fingers play a beat against quietness of the room. The game flashes before my eyes, a light flash from my window, thunder rattles the pane of glass in its track. A storm is coming, but I do not care.

In the years since Piro had shown up, standing before me at that little arcade, I knew my life would be different. That something of the old times had come back. In a way I was right. But looking back, how was I to know that it would end up as it did.

Before I met him, I lived a life both normally and as abnormally. At least that is what those around had thought. "Weird" they always called me, and I knew in my heart I would never fit in. I became the person who sought acceptance in any way possible. If not with love, then through hate.
With this notion, many people have hated me. But none more than a man I had fallen for, for a time. His name was Largo. Since meeting Largo and Piro I have loved many people, yet none so strongly as those two.

The sound of rain, the rain begins to fall outside against my window, but here in my room, I hear nothing but the sounds of my fingers. The game I play continues, but I am not thinking about that.

Largo was an open book. Passionate, strong willed, and unstoppable. Well… I chuckle. Almost unstoppable. The Idol reached something I only saw a glimmer of. The man beneath the mask, a mask much like the one I wear to this day.
And Piro, the enigma, the one who made me fall in love with 'her', and then once again, with 'him'. Quiet, bending like the willow and hesitant in everything he did. Yet I bent to his will, I helped him more than once. Many times with nothing more than a 'thank you' for a reward, but I didn't care. I was able to be around him.

The game is deeply set in my mind; I play it like a lover, forgetting where I am. Who I am…

For the years they stayed nearby, so close I could touch them, after everyone around me were so empty. They were the only ones to truly understand me other than Ping, and yet they were so unreachable. I could never really talk to them. Largo would grow so hostile, Piro, guarded. Ping was my only true friend then, and to this day, wherever she is, still is.

And then Piro and Largo left, gone as if they never were here in Japan. But in their wake, peoples lives changed more than I ever thought possible. Over the years I took a sick pleasure in twisting words and controlling people, sometimes for no other reason than to see the reaction.

Or is it the game that is playing me? I have forgotten. Just how long have I been here?

A heartless bitch, the weird girl, a monster, and of course, t3h 3vil, were just some of the many names I had been called because of my manipulations. But I watched as the city known as Tokyo was changed for a generation because of two men from America, their names unknown to most people who were affected by the foreigners.

All the people knew was that an ex idol was turning her back on her fans, tired of their interference. A young woman, fresh in the industry, making the saddest yet most emotional performance in a game I have ever played.

And at the time, I cried. The only time I have cried. Not when my parents died, not when everyone turned away, not even when Ping disappeared. But when they left, no words, nothing. I cried because I knew they did not even care enough to say it.

"Goodbye."

And now I sit here, playing my game like I always have, while my mind remembers them in its own way. The foolhardy gamer who became once again the warrior of chaos that protected his loved ones. And the quiet fanboy, who I knew once as the sorceress of fire with the demeanor of ice, held off against the man known as Dom, unblinking, not afraid. It has been twenty years, and they have moved on, while I have remained virtually unchanged. The ribbons are gone, the girl I once was is dead, and I have grown weary of remembering the pain.

"It is my destiny to play alone."

Hiding in the dark, looking out onto the bright and happy world, I wonder how it could have been different. How I could have changed it…
In the end, I don't think I will ever know.
____________________________________________________________________
Teaching Gray
By Hibiki


It all began with me helping Sensei learn Japanese so he could help the class better. Well, actually he said he wanted to learn the undead language to know what kind of curse the 3vil 0n3 had put upon him, but I am sure that is what he meant.

<"We went out in the park today, Yumei loved it. > I said to him slowly. "Okay Largo-sensei, you try?" It had been two weeks since I started and I was not sure how much longer I could stand this.

<"I see… school the appeasing?"> The man struggled with a simple sentence. How can he be that stupid? I mean, a three year old could speak better than he could. I had to take six aspirin a day to ease the headaches that these annoying sessions gave me.

"No, it's <I see, how was school?> Okay now try the next line." I growled.

"It's the chix0r's line!" I sighed; he was a chauvinistic pig as well.

"Just do it!"
He frowned but began to read again.

<"It-was… really… good."> Well I'll be. He managed to say it.

"That was correct, well done Sensei." He smiled a little awkwardly, something I had never seen him do, and for the life of me I could not figure out why it felt like my heart had skipped a beat.

* * *

It was late. The class had gone to a local arcade free of charge for a job well done on our tests. Sadly though, we never made it. A new man had shown up, an American with cold eyes. It started off with that silver haired girl who arrived at our school late in the year, Ping, but the argument grew as words moved onto Sensei's friends, in particular the Ex-idol, Hayasaka Erika.

The ninja friend of Sensei's was splayed on the ground behind us; knocked out by a tranquilizer. Several of the students were behind Sensei's friends who had tagged alone, that nerdy looking gaijin and the cute voice actor girl.

"Work for me. SEGA will reward you handsomely for your services." His voice was clam and collected. My mind remembered the words of the TPCD regarding idols.

"Never!" The fear in the room rose as the ex-idol woman slapped the man named Dom. Gasps and utterances of shock were heard as the Dom pistol whipped her to the ground with a savage smirk. Something changed in his eyes. Madness was there now, wild and naked with fury.

"Bitch, I gave you a chance and THIS is how you repay me?" There was a click of a gun safety, and Dom's eyes widened as Largo-sensei moved between the Hayasaka woman and him. In Largo's hand was a gun. Upon his face was the most serious and grim look I had ever seen on him. It seemed that even Dom was shocked. The look in his eyes eased for a moment before the maddening anger once again took hold.

"So you choose her over your friends, Largo?" Largo smiled slightly, though that cold look never faded. It was commanding, and yet so different; it was like there was another person behind the fool that I had always seen.

"She is my friend, Dom. Like you once were." Dom's eyes widened in shock at Largo's words while Hayasaka's disposition changed, no longer so scared. While I knew nothing of the two men's history, I knew this was something important.
"You let yourself be taken in by the 3vil on3!! You betrayed everyone! You attacked my friends and… You hurt Erika. You… You are no longer my comrade Dom. Leave."

"You have no say here, Largo. You are nothing. You always were, and you always will be. She can't change it; she can't redeem someone like you! You are a worm, a nobody here! Will you throw away your life for this woman?! Like that of a fanboy loser like Piro?" Dom's wild eyes moved to the nerdy man. "Will you die for your Erika Hayasaka, fanboy?" The gun turned away from Largo towards Piro in an instant. But before it could fire, it was grabbed by a very large hand and was crushed.

"Agent man's fight over. Agent man goes now." The ninja had awoken from his forced slumber.

"Awake already? A pity. That was enough to down an elephant for hours." Dom's rage faded into a cold, icy stare which he directed at the ninja.

"J00, Junpei man, you damaged?" Largo's gun and eyes never moved from his traitorous friend.

"Junpei unhurt, l33t master."

"Good. Piro, you okay?"

"Y-Yeah." Piro answered shakily. Largo nodded.

"Dom. Go."

"Leave us alone," Hayasaka said as she stood beside Largo-sensei.

"Go," commanded the Ninja. Piro, the girl that was with him, as well as the class nodded, letting the Sega Agent know they agreed with the Ninja. Dom laughed, a laugh so strange it left a chill in my bones.

"A smart man knows when to leave, no need to tell me." Dom turned and began to walk out. Out of where? Sirens could be heard in the distance.

"Dom!" Largo called out. Dom stopped and turned back. "Don't come back." Dom frowned, but said nothing, and walked away into the shadows.
Dom escaped being captured by the authorities. His company denied any involvement in his actions and fired him. But from what I remember hearing from Sensei or the news, Dom never was seen again.

That was a long time ago, but the memory of that strange man will never be forgotten.

* * *

My father had started off the day by yelling at me for sleeping in. I was the class representative; I had to keep the honor, heh, of our household. My mother hit me for not listening to my father. The two got into a fight about something afterwards and things began to get thrown at each other again. Divorce would have happened long ago, perhaps even before I was born, but as supposedly very honorable and traditional people my family would have none of it.

So day in and out they would go on hating one another. Some days, I wish they really would kill each other like they scream they will do. After a time goes by, my father comes in before work and apologizes to me. Once he has left my mother does the same, bringing a pack of ice and a bento for me. Then she heads out for the daily grocery shopping. Sometimes I wonder if they really do love me, or if they think of me as nothing more than an accident, a drunken night of false emotions… I left early, fearing the potential return of my mother. It was just another usual morning.

<"Class. Today special… person… help with teaching."> Largo-sensei's Japanese, while slurred and also very stop-start at times, was good enough for me not to have to translate anymore. A part of me was saddened by the fact I was no longer needed to help him. It was something I had recently begun to enjoy, that feeling of being wanted that came from our banter as he picked up the local language. I had grown comfortable in our almost daily lessons together; he was so different than my family, than anyone I had ever met.

From the moment I started helping this fiery haired lunatic, the class' grades had steadily improved. Was it from the help he was getting from me, or was it the fact that there are far fewer occasions when he went off on his l33tness thing? Whatever that was.

Upon her entrance I, along with much of the class, was astounded. Erika Hayasaka, who I had met only a few short months ago, stood at the threshold of the room looking precisely like a wild animal ready to bolt from nervousness. Largo pulled her inside with little resistance on her part.

I watched at hidden looks were passed from Sensei and the ex idol while the other was not looking. Both of their small, content smiles went unnoticed by most of the class as Erika passed out handouts and helped write the words Sensei could not understand. She did was the very job that I had helped sensei with before. The end of the day could not come quickly enough as I took flight to my spot in the small park nearby the school, angry and jealous of one certain beautiful woman.

I sat down at my bench as my mind thought about that woman, who my father had idolized and lusted after for years, in front of my mother even. For a few minutes I was alone, silently thinking until a voice broke in over my thoughts.

<"You okay Junko-san?"> Aiko, the other pigtailed girl in my class, asked as she and a few classmates walked up to me. I sat behind her in school, so we were close friends for the most part. I had always been aloof from the others. I guess it was my nature. My private life was not something others looked highly at, and so I had taken steps to hide it from my classmates. During the riot, when I said the things I said, something changed. They now looked to me with pity, or with accusing eyes. Aiko and the few students with her were the only ones that knew the truth. The only ones I could really trust. I almost snorted because that weird girl Tohya was probably the only one who truly understood me, and maybe she was right about what she has said that day in front of the gamestore.
In my moment of thought Aiko had sat down beside me and had laid a hand on my shoulder. I felt something on my cheek. When I brushed it off, my hand pulled away with tears. It was all so confusing. I felt my lips tremble as I tried to hide my sadness from them, trying to smile away the pain.

<"…No…">

But it came. A flood of emotions I never knew I had within me. They were about everything and nothing, all so disorienting. Sensei Largo's growing place in my life, the sense of being needed, the other classmates, and the situation with my family, just everything in general. I just could not tolerate it anymore. I must have cried for hours on my friend's shoulder before I finally left, drained of the strength to cry any longer.

I went home oblivious to the routine silence as my parents ignored the other's existence. The next day, it was like nothing had happened. My friends were kind enough to drop it. Life continued on as normal. Largo Sensei was for some reason made my next year teacher as well. Of course I complained about as I always did, but inside, everything seemed to be okay again.

* * *

Today is the last day of school before the winter break of my senior year. Throughout the year and a half here, I had watched this foolish man run around causing things I never thought possible to happen. I watched him face down a madman, with no fear in his eyes and a grim smile on his face.

"Goodbye class, I hope everyone has a long and happy break." he says with a gentle smile, so characteristically unlike him.

The class is leaving, and soon it is just me and him. I watch him remove the gigantic "GTL" from the board, an image that had stayed since his arrival. It scares me, as if; he's erasing himself from our lives. Wouldn't he be here the start of next semester?

"Sensei?" Largo turned back to me, surprised that I was still here, a small smile breaks onto his face once again... My heart seemed to ache, it was beating so fast. Somewhere deep down I knew this would be my last chance.

<"I love you!"> With that I rushed forward, and kissed him. Was this wrong of me? But in this moment I didn't care. His lips, they were softer than I thought they would be. I could feel a tremble run along his back. His arms became firm he held me close for a second before he pulled away. He was breathing hard, and in his eyes was not what I had hoped to see.

Fear. My heart froze. He was scared of me. Why… Why?

"J-Junko-san…"

Why are you scared of me?

"I... I'm sorry… Gomen ne!" He bows to me. "I… I love… someone else."

And something deep inside of me broke. I felt tears falling down my face; I think I was uttering something, <no>… Then something clicked into place. That woman, the one we helped in our first test, the very same woman he had protected with the madman. The one he had brought here once to help him.

"Haya-Hayasaka," I murmur. It wasn't really a question, but he responded with a nod anyways. Jealousy and pain filled me. A feeling that I knew all to well, the same way I felt when she came to the class. "Goodbye Sensei, I am sorry to bother you."

Two months later I heard Sensei and Hayasaka had been found out. A month later Hayasaka gave a final warning to her fans.

Soon winter break passed and the first day of the spring session began. I waited, hoping to see that outrageous mess of red hair again. He never returned from the break; we had study sessions in place of Largo-sensei's classes.

But he never came. The principle arrived, telling us that a new teacher would be taking over his position, and I knew then. He had returned to America.
I never saw Largo again. The last thing I remember is the taste of his lips on mine, and the fear I saw in his eyes.

Gomen ne Largo-sensei.

[End]


____________________________________________________________________
Thinking Gray
By
Hibiki

"Piro-san… Piro-san…"
At the age of 19, the raven haired girl known as Yuki Sonoda stood inside of a church she never had seen before, feeling an emotion she never thought she would ever have to feel. It was of western design, and the stained glass windows behind her showed the beautiful spring day outside. The white gown she wore hinted at the event that was beginning inside the set of heavy oak doors. Her father and mother were there, as well as her uncle, having long since reconciled with his ex-fiancé. But alone, she stood outside the doors, wanting nothing more than to run in and declare what she had desired to for so long.

<"I gotta… I gotta do something….">

"But do you need to?" A soft female voice broke over the hushed tone of the foyer. Yuki turned in a flurry of pearl to find a rather unremarkable foreign woman in a very plain white gown.

"Who are you?" Yuki demanded, much like her father. The woman laughed gently.

"Always demanding, never knowing enough tact to back down and stay out of a fight you can't win." Yuki's anger rose.

"So what? I can learn from my mistakes," Yuki intoned. The woman smiled. She seemed so calm to Yuki then, like a rock in the middle of a flowing stream, unaffected by the world around her as she walked over. It was an envious feeling, certainly an emotion she had felt all her life.

Envious because her mother was so beautiful and wise, of her father was so commanding and always knew what to do. Jealous of Erika Hayasaka for her mistaken belief that she and Piro were lovers and of Miho Tohya, Ping, and anyone she readily knew she had envied. Why she ended up so plain and boring, who was she when compared to everyone else in her life?
"But in this case you're a little late to be correcting your errors."

"I can't let go! I love Piro-san!" Yuki declared vehemently. Piro didn't care about plain? Look at the girl he was marrying, as plain and as boring as they come, Yuki thought. The woman's smile faded slightly at the girl's words.

"Sometimes, the greatest act of love is letting someone go."

"What?"
The woman in white moved forward, her golden brown hair shimmering in the light of the room and walked to the doorway. She sighed, wistfully watching as Piro leaned in and gave Kimiko the ring through the partially open doors.

"You have been pining over him for quite a long time, nearly three years. 'The girl with too much pluck' I recall," the lady mentioned.

"Who said that about me?" she angrily hissed at the woman. A small smirking smile broke over the woman's calm face.

"It doesn't matter. All that does matter is that Piro is getting married, he wants to, and frankly, he will be happy with her. Those two have come a long way and there is not a single thing I am letting you do to ruin that. Wake up and smell the facts, toots. It's time to move on, you've lost. If you keep a hold of him forever, you'll never move on, meet someone else, and be happy.

"How can you be happy with him? Even if that one girl wasn't in the way, do you really think he would make you happy or you for Piro? You barely know him, what you love is an image of him, nothing more, nothing less."

"Why do you know so much?" Yuki said in tears, watching Piro and Kimiko kiss, joined in marriage. Strangely, in her heart, despite the pain she felt, the urge to run in was gone.

"Because it's my job… Or should I say, was. It's time for me to move on. You know, I think I envy _you_ Sonoda Yuki, for what you _can_ become." Yuki turned back to the woman, but no one else was there in the foyer with her. As she turned away she noticed something upon the floor. Sitting against the gray of the stone was a single ivory feather at the place where the woman had stood.

[Fin]

I have heard the stories of those who lived them and through these stories; I have felt that which they have felt. The joy, sorrow, love and hope each has gained through their life.

We step through this world searching for someone, a place, or a time for something to call our own. Something we can show and say, this is my time, my moment. It is a yearning that has made men into heroes and has caused the very nations to change.

Here are eight lives that have been touched by the same moments, the same sadness, the same hope, and the same joy. Forever their lives have been shaded by these moments of gray. Our lives will go on, but we will always remember them, because they are what make us what we are.



A little something from the Author:
Gray is something that was inspired from something familiar in my life, something that connected with the Megatokyo story. It allowed me to put a spin from my perspective of Megatokyo and how I see it. It tries to remain set in character in the Megatokyo world, and the ideals that came later on where thought up as both gray and Megatokyo went on, trying to keep it straight. I believe as a chapter progressed and new information from the characters came to light it held up remarkably well. It was a story that became a series, a series that became a collection, and a collection that became a saga. I am Allan Bryant, writer of Gray Saga, its songs, pictures and life. It is my story, and in telling it, I hoped it could become your story as well.


A Moment of Joy Refrained (Also known as Gray Wings)

Duet Version

(Female)
It was a dark and lonely life,
Things had gone so bad before.
My heart was full of strife,
I was tired and could do no more…

(Male)
But I came into the fray
I made her smile nearly every day
She tried to push me away,
but I told her I was here to STA~AAAY!!!

(Male)
Her love was sure, despite all her pain.
Our love was the cure, and our world became.
A moment of joy refrained

A moment of joy… Refrained.

(Female)
But then the time had come,
He was told to go.
Back to the place that he had come from.
He gave me something to show.

(male)
A diamond in the rough,
Such a rare find!
Like the love on my life,
It was one of a kind!

(Female)
He gave me a ring and said wait… for me.

(Male)
I'll return someday, just wait… and see.

(Both)
The love that I had has never faded.
The truth that we are forever fated.

I know it is true. This love that I feel.
Like the rings on our finger, I know it's for real.

(Female)
I will wait a million years…
To fly again into the sky!

(Male)
I will let you FLY~!!!!

(Female)
Our love was so pure, and always the same.
His hope was my cure, and my life became.
A moment of joy refrained.

(Male)
TO FLY~!!!!

(Female)
A moment of joy… Refrained

(Both)
A moment…. Of joy… Refrained.

Code is poetry. Valid XHTML and CSS.

All content copyright their respective authors | Bug squashing by Skuld-sama | Graciously hosted by _Quinn ­ | cwdb codebase by Alan J Castonguay

Megatokyo Writer's Archive
http://cwdb.azaphrael.org/view/1628