Demonbane Ltd presents
An Ah! Megami-sama fan fiction story
Disclaimer: Oh, My Goddess © Fujishima Kosuke, Kodansha, TBS and KSS films; AnimEigo, Studio Proteus, and Dark Horse Comics.
Part One: A Wish To Build A Dream On?
It's weird what the subconscious can come up with it sufficiently motivated. Take a random night in a person's life, for example; add a precisely measured amount of anxiety, fear, regret, anger, and frustration. Not an unusual situation in the least. Then proceed to pitch in several more ingredients. Several economy sized mugs of coffee liberally laced with sugar and cream, for instance.
I was irritated. Antsy. Regretful and more than a little depressed by the general uselessness of life, the world, and things in general. Yes, once again it was one of those days in the course of a normal year that I spent mood-swinging like a PMSing Peggy Bundy, to make a colorful and mostly accurate comparison.
You know the sensation, right? Everybody gets it. I think that there really could be something to the hypothesis which states that too much coffee can make you too sober or I was just dealing with an unusually high blood-caffeine level. One of those two.
I was partaking in one of the more revered and oft practiced past times of people everywhere. One that I had no fondness for, I might add.
To drop all that sugar coating nonsensical barrage of justifications, I was wallowing in self-pity and riding a wave of post teenage angst for no particular reason whatsoever.
That I was doing such in front of a movie theater was not customary though. I enjoy a film festival or two, but one that lasts a whole week? For fuck's sake, I went there to get some cheesy, mindless made in the USA action flick drivel, not try to comprehend something described as a work of "ambitious cinema". Nothing for it, now that I stop to think about it. Destiny? Hardly. I don't really believe in that very much at all, but to each his own.
I was at that particular stage of depression where one bitches in semi-quiet grumbles about the world at large, looks at passers-by in a manner suggesting that it's likely initiating conversation would result in heads being bitten off, and generally tries to prove one is more than a pathetic wash-up by trying to seem meaner than one is.
I figure, I feel godawful, why shouldn't I spread it around? Civil minded I am most definitely not. That would require me actually having faith in things like the justice system, society, and basic human decency. Well, at least I have none of the latter two when I'm at that stage of being a mean, abrasive moron. The foremost one I've lost a few years ago, and will never regain as long as even a shred of rational thought remains in my mind.
Yes, I like to over-dramatize things, as you've no doubt figured out by now.
Though I was in the process of getting off the funk and thinking straight, a direct result of actually having enjoyed a semi-edible meal of fish and chips (which still didn't measure up to the original Brit version, but that's just my two cents' worth of opinionated commentary that you can feel free to ignore) and walking a bit of the angst off. I figured I may as well go off and get one last shot of caffeine and sugar before heading back to the ol' place of residence. Or maybe some tea, since more caff would have likely resulted in the meanness factor going up again.
As luck would have, the realization and desire for a warm drink on a cold and rainy winter evening struck me while I was passing within twenty meters of a Starbucks Coffee place yes, I actually prefer smaller ones, and above all, cheaper ones, but any port in a storm and all.
Though as I made my way across the street, my mind chimed to me
it's Saturday night. How do you rate your chances of there actually being sitting room in there, much less those of a relatively short line, fanboy? Did your brain fry recently, or has it been that way for a while and you've only just noticed?
Did I mention I get verbally abusive when already wired on caff and stress? Well, verbally abusive of myself, anyway.
I decided I'd take my chances, and if Eris wasn't watching me that time maybe I'd be in luck.
This is the place where I mention that I really should have seen something wrong with the picture, but at the time I was too glad about the absence of a crowd or too much volume to any conversations around to actually give a damn.
There were around five customers in, two parties, with no line and two of the armchairs in the coffee shop still unoccupied.
I let myself breathe a sigh of relief, and went up to the counter.
Unsurprisingly, I refused to take my brain's own advice, and settled for a Grande Caramel Macchiato instead of taking a more sedate, and less caffeinated, mug of tea.
I set the mug on one of the small tables that sat beside the armchair I'd decided to occupy for the next hour or so in an attempt to unwind, shrugged off my leather jacket and pack, and proceeded to collapse into my chosen seat.
A moment later I took the coffee mug, lifted it, and took a sip of the broth. Whereupon I placed it back on the table, retrieved a worn paperback I'd meant to read for a while but couldn't find the time to, and started catching up on my reading.
Aaaah. Sweet bliss.
That was the second occasion on which I should have noted that things were not really going along their usual path.
I ignored the nagging of a long forgotten voice of reason, that was slowly being drenched in the recently ingested sugar and caffeine anyway and shutting up in the process once more.
And then came the third.
Now, let me explain something about myself. I'm around six foot two, murky green eyes, dark brown mop of hair, glasses. If I were to describe myself in one word, I'd use "plain". It pretty much captures me in all my lack of glory, though I'm told I clean up decently. Plain-faced, some ten to fifteen kays overweight but managing to hide it moderately well, about as removed from being a party animal as humanly possible. I usually wear blacks, grays or other subdued colors. Black or dark blue jeans, black or gray turtleneck or sweatshirt. The leather jacket I've mentioned before is worn, and somewhat cracked around the cuffs, but I'm comfortable in it. About the only thing that could be called discerning among my "wardrobe" would be an equally old and worn tacky yin-yang pendant. Or would have been, if I had actually bothered with replacing the broken leather strap I used to hang it from. It's still in the pocket of the jacket.
To sum up an already overly long bit of self-description, I could be a poster boy for apathy, but I'm too indifferent to care. At least when I'm depressed. I was, right there and then.
So there I was, occasionally adding to the already high level of sugar and caffeine in the bloodstream, novel in hand oh, mustn't forget the earphones blasting Nightwish's "Century Child" at me, when I felt someone's hand prodding at my shoulder.
I didn't bother snapping the novel shut, but instead settled for giving the earphone cord a yank that dislodged the two plugs from my aural receptors and a turn of the head. I didn't have to bother making my face take on a flat expression. It sort of came naturally in the mood I was in. Did I mention I like my reading? Sometimes to distraction.
Interruptions are something I loathe.
A moment later I found myself unable to say anything abrasive, or anything at all, when I was confronted with a quite pleasant actually sight.
I gave what amounted to an inarticulate "Huh?" I think, and she must have said something because her lips moved.
" 'scuse me, what?" I managed on my second try, totally forgetting where I was because I actually said it in English. Let me clarify. I'm not English. Hell, I'm not British. I am neither American nor Canadian, nor am I from Down Under or any other of the countries that have adopted the language of the Bard as their main tongue. I'm not even from a country that has it as an official second language.
Neither am I German, though that was the country I was currently living in, and I speak the language well enough to get by
I'm actually Polish, but that's beside the point right now. Let's just say that I have an equal chance of blurting something out in English or Polish when startled, and chance decided to make me use the former.
"I asked whether this seat was taken?" replied the woman, also in English, faintly amused from the look on her face and indicating the other armchair at the small coffee table.
I'm actually fairly easy to render speechless. For one thing, I'm no oratory genius, or even minor talent, on my best day. That, and I prefer to keep silent. Be it from fear of embarrassment, or plain disinterest, with a focus on the former.
Yes, it's amazing, the number of psychosis' that a single person can have.
And I can honestly say that I found myself at least slightly intimidated in this case.
You've heard of the phrase "dressed to kill" I suppose? Yes? Good. Well, she was. Black leather. Pants, laced vest, coat. No actual shirt underneath that vest. Pale skin, mane of platinum blonde hair falling nearly to her waist in a cascade of curls, eyes that were a dark brown, almost reddish color. Something familiar about those features nothing I could place though. I gave a mental headshake, clearing the cobwebs and resetting my system. Hey, in my defense, she was drop dead gorgeous. Even despite the fact that I don't particularly fancy blonde hair very much.
"Nah. 's free." I gave a lackluster response. Yes, I'm somewhat slow to regain full cerebral capacity when faced with this sort of situation.
She sat, a mug of her own steaming beverage cradled in her hands. Hmm, red nail polish. Doesn't do much for me usually, but I have to admit that she wore it well and that I could see a little bit of what the big deal concerning it was about. Whereupon I figured I'd have no chances with someone so obviously out of my league, and promptly re-buried my nose in the novel.
"My, but you're a civil one," I hear her say in a chiding tone, and only after a little bit did I notice that it had been aimed at me. When I looked up from my attempts at continuing to read the story she was looking at me, or rather peering, from just above the rim of her own cup of coffee.
"Sorry," I attempted, rather lamely. "I'm not exactly in the best of moods today."
"Any particular reason, or are you just trying for the moody brooding look because you felt like it?" she questioned, her voice wry.
"Because I felt like it." I shrugged off a vague sense of uneasiness that had been trying to settle onto my shoulders. In retrospect, this was perhaps not the smartest thing I could have done, but then again, you always think of how you could have made things better had you just done something differently. "I wasn't aware that I needed a reason to be a right bastard once in a while."
"Oh, how cute. You're intimidated aren't you?"
Ah yes, the joys of being publicly humiliated even if the public wasn't about to give a shit one way or another
"I think we've established that I'm a ticked off, impolite bugger at the moment, so could you please leave me to my self-pity before I say something we both regret?" were my words. Delivered without really looking at her either.
"You can't possibly be happy living like this," said the woman, eyeing me skeptically. I was starting to not like that stare very much, which struck me as decidedly odd. Had I stopped to think about it I would have noted exactly why, but I was too busy feeling miffed at her for stopping my session of feeling sorry for myself.
Snapping the book closed, then slamming down what remained of the coffee into my gullet -- and thank the deities that it was already only moderately warm -- I made about packing up the novel and reaching for my jacket.
"It's the only life I've got." I grumbled in reply. "And I can't see how it's any of your business."
"Well," she huffed. "Didn't you ever want to change it? I mean, it's next to meaningless "
"You're preachin' to the damn choir, you know that?" I went right on grumbling. Ever notice how being irritated, even by someone who'd normally intimidate you, gives you a backbone? Well it does give me one.
"What would you wish for, then?"
That stopped me, halfway out of the armchair. I gave her a skeptical look, then shrugged. It wasn't like I hadn't wished for a few things in my time. Some embarrassing, some not, and some being the usual whining I'm prone to from time to time. Or were those whingings? Yeah, I'd wished for a lot of stuff at one time or another.
But the thing about wishes
"What do you mean wish for?" was my response, a bit on the gruff side in terms of intonation too. "The thing about wishes is that they're just that. Wishes. Yea, so what if I want something to come true out of the blue? It's not going to happen. Point. End of story. Of my life, that is. Bye."
I grabbed the jacket, and packed the novel still in my hand into one of the pockets. I had a mental note going on purchasing attire -- always have at least one place you can stuff a paperback or two into.
"Oh come on, you can't really believe that," her voice, pretty as it was, started to grate on my nerves somewhat. I ignored it again. I thought I was getting more tired by this then apparent.
"I can believe whatever the fuck I want," I growled under my breath. If she heard, she ignored it. Good. This conversation was not doing wonders for my self-esteem, or well being.
"I saw the book you were reading." she said. "Come now, people who don't believe it at least a little don't read things like that."
I sighed. Yeah, okay, so I'm not as cynical as I'd wanted to appear. Actually, I wasn't that bad so often, just as I wasn't irritated all too often. A part of me did acknowledge that it would be neat to have a wish free heck, I'd actually though about it on occasion.
"So, humor me," she continued. I let her, some of the inquiry managing to slip past my gloomy mood. "If you could have a wish what would you wish for?"
I was about to brush it off, despite my improving spirits, but there was something
compelling about that question. I couldn't put a finger on it if I wanted to, but
Do you ever have moments where your mind sort of hangs on a word? A second can last a minute, can last an hour to the mind. When you're focusing completely on something. The question drew me. It was like I needed to answer it, or so my mind whispered.
If only I'd known back then
But I didn't, and don't know if I could have done anything about it if I had. I scoff at Destiny and Fate but that moment was, just plain odd. I heard a deep, booming noise. A heartbeat. My own.
My mind was racing. Yea, I'd considered the wish thing I'd actually considered it too often. And I was about to give an honest answer. Money, material goods, they were important to me. Life, especially my own. Death, likewise. The universe and everything I could care less about. Chance
So I said, in full honesty, maybe not the one I would have in another situation but still and entirely valid option nonetheless.
"To have a chance to matter. I want my life to have meaning, and not be just an existence. I want to make a difference."
I didn't think I did more than whisper it, or was it only my mind no, I don't think it was. I felt my lips move after all.
And then well I would later say, recounting this particular episode in the grand cosmic joke that is the universe, that there are times it's best to keep your mouth shut dammit!
Let's just say that the sensation following my utterance of the words was anything but pleasant and leave it at that. I still get queasy at the memory, and since I've just had dinner I'd rather it stayed where it was, thank-you-very-much.
Ever wonder how it is that on occasion you just know you just know that life would never be the same again, afterwards? I'd felt it several times, mostly at stages that would mark well, not turning points, but some notable progress in my life. Lashing out in anger; having several inches of steel pressed to my throat edge-first; losing my temper and confronting the cause in a rather vocal series of accusations; High School; getting an SO; getting the "let"s just be friends' spiel; College
I'm not going to say I'm not afraid. Actually, I'm afraid quite often. Whether of myself, on those rare occasions of soul searching, or of some event in my future or present. I've experienced the typical fear of change when something shifts radically in the status quo. Hell, I've spent more time being a recluse because of that than actually doing anything about it, which says something about my personality. It's not something very nice, but I'm honest enough with myself to admit it. At least in front of a mirror.
I nearly pissed myself when I opened my eyes.
well, no. Figuratively speaking. One thing I'm proud of is that I have excellent bladder control in stressful situations.
I got that feeling of something changing, and couldn't really say what the hell was going on with me anyway. Vertigo. At least my stomach wasn't acting up. Thank whoever for small favors.
Have you ever heart the phrase "steel gray sky"? I think you have. Though it's irrelevant, because you just did.
That, at least, was what I though I saw upon opening my eyes. The hardness against my back indicated that I was flat on the ground, sprawled on my back. There was an itching sensation at the back of my head when I moved it minutely. Great. Sand. Or something similar.
My memory was promptly turned upside down, my mind going through the last things it had registered before what had happened, happened.
Somehow, I was not heartened to discover that, yes, I had recalled the event in the coffee shop as the last viable memory. But what in the name of Frigg and Freya happened there, exactly?
I closed my eyes, straining to make sense of it all
"Hey, get the hell up dumbass, or do you plan to spend the rest of eternity on the ground, making stupid faces?"
Okay, so I'd never really seen my Grimace of Concentration (tm) in the mirror but I knew enough about my facial features to imagine that, yea, it did look pretty silly.
Also, the voice was eerily familiar. The blonde in the coffee shop.
Great. Not that I don't appreciate eye candy, but I'd thought I'd gotten rid of her. My mood was rapidly going back to the condition it had been in that evening shortly before I'd ever laid eyes on her.
"Oooh, delicious," I heard the woman coo. What the hell?
I levered myself upwards, into a sitting position and tried to keep my eyes from falling out when I saw
Well okay, I could handle the freakin' featureless plane leading to some sort of big honkin' building thingy in the distance. I think. I could handle to sky, featureless as it was, and only a few shades lighter than the ground. Had I been in the proper mood, I could have actually appreciated the outfit the blonde before me was wearing. Black, form fitting, somewhat elaborate around the shoulders. Spiked. Well, I said I could have appreciated it. Not necessarily liked it much, since I wasn't really into the whole "spiky death waiting to happen if anyone hugs someone wearing this" look. As it was, I could handle it, if barely.
What I could not handle was the fact that her eyes were two, and yes I know how cliché this sounds but that's what it looked like at the time, glowing embers, her hair was writhing as if it were alive but what really made me wish for this just to be an elaborate prank of my subconscious or a dream after too much jalapeno loaded pizza were the two slash-like facial markings -- both running at an angle above an eyebrow respectively, not quite meeting just above her nose.
I like Fujishima, but at the moment I would have gladly well you know. Stress makes you want to react excessively.
I was still hoping, rather feebly -- all things considered -- that this was just a
"How rude of me," she said in a sultry voice, and with a haughty grin on her face. "I almost forgot to introduce myself. My name is Sybilla, Demon First Class, Unlimited Category, and you have been deemed 'worthy' of a wish. Oh, and it's been approved, by the way. Congratulations."
dream. Hallucination would do in a pinch though.
Did she just say what I think she
"Yes, I did."
Crap. And it looked like she was reading my thoughts as well.
"Oh, you should be more happy about this," said the demoness. "Not everyone gets a wish from us. You have to be special."
"Weren't you supposed to say something about this wish thing before asking me what I wished for?! Introductions too, for that matter!" I nearly shouted, momentarily too angry to care and was slammed back into the ground by something. An invisible "hand" kept up a pressure on my chest, making it impossible to move no matter how hard I tried to flail. I could feel tiny little pinches and pinpricks along my back and thighs, my shoulders. I strained to look to the side for a moment, finally taking in one more detail about the gray sand I was lying on.
Only, it wasn't sand. Instead I saw tiny, tiny bits of graying bone.
I think I screamed no, I tried to, but something clamped onto my jaw and kept it shut, pressing on it strongly enough to make my gums ache and teeth hurt
it was a while before I was clam enough to get up, or to be let up at least. By then, I was sweating, and jittery with anxiety.
Well, that summed up me feelings nicely enough. Though the actual thoughts were more elaborate and descriptive at the time.
"Why why me?" I was ridiculously proud of the fact that I almost didn't stutter.
"Oh, it wasn't anything you did, though some things well. Let's say that you were of no consequence. Actually the wish was something we'd expected. You see, it didn't take much to grant it to you, since your apathy had made you not really matter much to the grand scheme. And vice-versa. But below that " I managed not to "eep" as she leered. " you have such a capacity for it. Anger, jealousy, hate. You fear, you despise, you lust and despair, all so nicely locked in and only waiting to be let out. You have potential, boyo."
Great, a part of me not paralyzed by fear chimed in. I get into deep shit because of what I didn't do?! How's that for fucked up?
The dust settled where I landed, having skidded along the rough bone-sand for five meters before momentum was bled off and I do mean bled. Tears coursed down my face, unrestrained, from the pain. My pant legs, my sleeves, had been partially shredded by the rough bits of bone, some going as far as to tear my skin it hurt. It hurt about as badly as the one time I'd been dragged along rough pavement for a meter, skin being stripped away and my head was still ringing from the blow that sent me skidding in the first place -- a hollow, dull ache radiating from the right cheek bone to the rest of the mug.
I spat blood a moment later, my teeth having cut through the flesh on the inside of my cheek when they'd been pressed against it during the blow.
" oh fuck " I rasped, curling up protectively. " note to self don't piss off the happy fun demon "
I got another one for that, but it just pressed me into the "dirt" more, not really doing much but making me want to puke my guts out since it came down onto my stomach.
I wisely decided to shut the fuck up, mentally as well.
I didn't know how long I waited there, curled up on the bones, trying to block out the pain. It could have been hours, but I think it wasn't more than a few minutes.
A lance of pain shot through my body then, not the impact of an invisible force but the actual influx of sensation I screamed rather loudly, and it wasn't much of a "manly" scream. I think I'd have torn my vocal chords, or at least screamed them raw, if the sensation hadn't disappeared a moment later.
I felt the aftershocks of pain, yes, but other than that I dared to sit up, and look down on my injuries only to find them gone. My clothes were still in sorry condition, though, torn and bloodied.
"Don't think that only because you made a wish you can irritated me like that," her voice came to me, and I stiffened. Yeah. I was afraid. I was very afraid.
My mind raced again, recalling exactly what I'd said, hoping against hope that there would be some way to misinterpret
"AH!" she admonished, and a spasm of pain ripped through me again, around the area of my neck. I squeaked rather pathetically. "Don't be naughty. You wished to make a difference? To have a chance? Well, this is your chance. You should have considered the implications more thoroughly."
Blood and Martyrs. That wish it had so many possible ways of being taken and considering the side that had granted it
I looked at her, cringed at her expression, and tried to make myself take to the vertical succeeding on the third try. Gone was the flirty, somewhat mocking grin. What I saw in that expression it was malice. And pleasure.
I take back what I'd said before.
Now I was afraid.
To be continued.
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