Chapter 20:

Azuki and Coconut

BTCOA but it's clean and full of wholesome cuddling

[1:05 PM][Azuki] I watch Vanilla leave. I turn to look at Alex. She’s cuteAt this rate, Ill end up joining Nuts!

[1:26][Coconut] Alex stirs. “Azuki, she’s waking up!”

She runs over. Alex opens her eyes about halfway. “Uhnnn…

She looks at me. “Wh-where’s V-Vanilla?

Her voice…it’s so weak…

I-it h-hurts…when my heart beats…and it feels like sharp metal flakes…are passing through my veins.

She winces, then freezes. Her eyes widen and she curls into the fetal position and screams. “One’s in my brain!

“Okay…I’ll be right back!”

I get up. “Azuki, I’m heading out!”


I tear out of the room barefoot and burst into Vanilla’s apartment. Vanilla’s nowhere to be seen. Just as I’m about to leave, I hear faint sobbing from the kitchen. I call out. “I think she’s dying.”

She dashes past me, spinning me around. I fall and crack my head on the doorframe. Stars dance in front of my eyes as I climb to my feet. Dizzy, I stagger into the kitchen. Suddenly, I collapse and feel dozens of sharp cuts appear all over my body. Can’t…move…

Suddenly, I feel a rush of strength and my head clears. I drag myself through the glass, cutting my arms more and shredding my tank top. I hiss in pain as a piece slices into my breast. No! I refuse to die here!

I drag myself out of the kitchen, then push myself into a sitting position. I pick out the glass piece by piece and toss it back onto the pile. I use the wall to stand. My legs shake. I lean into the wall until I get to the door. I take a wobbly step into the hall. I take a few more. Soon, the apartment is in view. As I move to cross the hall, my legs give out again. I dive for the doorknob and slam into the ground. I drag myself to the door, leaving a trail of bloody carpet. Black encroaches from the edge of my vision as pain explodes in my skull and my muscles give out. No…Alex…looks like this is the end…but for how long I can’t say. I’m sorry…that I won’t get to say goodbye…I barely even know you, but yet…you still feel like an old friend…because you remind me of someone…from a long time ago…a very good friend of mine.

I hear a small voice filled with pain. “I think Coconut is outside the door...

The door opens. It's Vanilla. “Coconut, I’m so sorry! I should’ve checked if you were okay, but I was so worried about not saying goodbye that I left you!

She scoops me up.

[1:30][Alex] I look at Coconut and feel something stir inside me as I assess the damage. “Bring Coco over here, please. I may be able to help. I keep discovering new powers, and healing may be one of them.”

She slowly walks over, Coco in her arms. “Azuki, can you help me sit up at the edge of the couch?”

She does. “Lay Coco with her head in my lap.”

Coco is laid on the couch. Instructions in a familiar voice rush through my head. I put my right hand on her forehead and feel the back of her head with my left, stopping when I find the injury. I close my eyes and clear my mind, focusing on the image of Coco before she left. I imagine her wounds sealing, the swelling going down. I imagine her awake, alert, playful, and a little pervy. I feel the swelling shrink, but don’t dare to open my eyes for fear of losing my concentration. I feel phantom cuts on my body, and the memory of the impact. Finally the swelling disappears. Azuki gasps. “Coco! Thank you, Alex!

I open my eyes. Coco is awake, blinking. I look at her clothes. “Apparently, repairing clothes is outside of my abilities, for now.”

Coco looks up at me cutely, lips slightly parted, eyes wide. My heart melts. I don’t even think twice. I bring her up a little, bend down, and kiss her. The world falls away. She wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me closer, bending my back. Tears fill my eyes as a bolt of intense pain shoots down my spine. Coco, wait!

Whether she can't hear me or just doesn't care, she keeps going. A larger, more intense bolt shoots through. I try to pull away. Coco, please! Stop! It hurts!

I'm panicking. My arms are trapped under her and won't obey. Help!

I hear a small, barely perceptible crack as a bolt of hellish pain races up my spine. I feel someone pry her arms off my neck. I manage to extricate my arms and push her away, gasping and crying. With every movement, pain shoots through me. I hug my chest and shiver. A shadow falls across me. I look up, tears in my eyes. "Thanks, Azuki. I owe you."

She turns to Coco. “Nuts, what the hell!?

She grabs Coco’s arm and starts trying to tug her off the couch, so I do something I’m not proud of. I slap Azukis arm. “Leave her alone! It's my fault!”


“I panicked, so she couldn’t hear me. That, and the pain I was in didn't help either. If I just used my words, it wouldn’t’ve happened.”

I pull Nuts into a sitting position in my lap, facing me. She looks at me fearfully but calms when she sees my expression. She cocks her head. I nod. She wraps her arms and legs around me, and we go back to kissing. “Wow…when they set their minds to something, there’s no stopping them, is there?


Never thought Alex would instigate it. It’s not her style…it never has been.

Let’s take this to my room…


She gets up and walks through a door. I stand up, take a few steps, and freeze. I feel intense pain in my heart and head. I can’t move. My arms and legs…why won’t they OBEY!?

Pain surges through me and breaks my paralysis. I clutch my locket and heart through my shirt, falling to my knees. Why!?

I hear Noah* and Lexa’s voices in my head. You’re dying…




Vanilla dashes over to me. “Alex!

The pain passes. “P-please get Ochaco, Kanna, Tohru, Koba, and Tsu. Chocola, too.”

Vanilla dashes out of the room. Coconut walks over, then crouches to look me in the eyes worriedly. “You okay?

Please don’t let it be true…

Azuki, Coco, I have something to say.”

Here it comes…

“I wanted to tell you now to let you know ahead of time, Coco. I know that it’s eating at you. I don’t know if putting the debate to rest will help or not, but yes, I believe I’m dying, as does Noah.”

What’s with the third person?

You’ll find out in time. I don't really know either.

Azuki gasps. I manage to stand and sit on the couch. “Coco, I don’t know if there’ll be time to do what we intended, if my suspicions are true.”

Which are?

She has no intention of finding Chocola, and even if she did, she has no idea where Choco is. If this is the case, I’ll say my goodbyes, then head out and find her. I have no clue if I’ll find her before I collapse, but even if I do, I know I won’t be making it back. I keep seeing bits and pieces of the future, but in the broad scope of things, they’re cloudy at best, murky at worst. However, when I think about her, one image keeps recurring: A forest. I also have a growing suspicion that she is no longer in Akihabara.”

They pale and exchange worried looks. I look at them. Picking up on the sense of doom, I say, “Akihabara doesn’t have a forest, does it?”

She shakes her head. Vanilla walks in, followed by Ochaco, Kanna, Tohru, Koba, and Tsu. I glare at Vanilla. “Did you even try to find her?”

Kanna speaks up. “She went off to look for her and sent me to get them, then we met back here. What’s with the hostility?

A vision hits. Chocola, in the forest, unconscious. “Vanilla, you can tell them yourself. I need to go.”

I give them all hugs. “Coco, where’s the nearest forest?”

Directly below us. Why?

She’s in danger.”

Vanilla, Coconut, and Azuki pale. I am a ghost neko.

I run at the wall. “Alex, wa-

The sound cuts off as my ears pass through the wall. I tuck in. I am a neko.

I fold my ears just before I hit the ground, roll, and take off running. Tohru tears out of the front of the building. I stop at the edge and she catches up to me. “Are you seriously going unarmed?

I turn to face her and smile. “Why would I need to be armed?”

She dives to tackle me. I focus my energy into my legs and do half a handspring, sailing past the edge. I tuck my arms in, speeding downward. She jumps off after me. I need to lose her in the forest. I can’t let her stop me from saving a friend. She may be responsible for my condition, but I forgive her. I just hope I get there in time.

I look down at the ground a hundred feet away, closing fast. Holy shit!

Before I know what’s happening, my wings unfurl. I soar. Phew…