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Rewind

Let’s go back to the beginning of TBFF and see what’s going on! There’s just a short bit for each story with a few revelations that I never showed. (I’m too lazy to be catering to my stories right now, but these will serve as prompts for the future.)

..300 posts, 77 followers and 3 days ‘til Christmas (and Courage’s 1st birthday)! Thank you all for supporting Courage!

~~

~Ro.Te.O ~ (Since Crimson is exclusive to TBFF, I’m leaving it out.)

The first snow was falling, and Ryou was enjoying it all too much.

“Wow! This is much different to how it’s shown in cartoons!” he exclaimed, acting like a little kid experiencing their first snow – well, he wasn’t a little kid but he was experiencing his first snow.

The duo was supposedly on vacation, but in actuality they were scouting more help. (Just ‘cos you can never have enough help when you’re trying to defeat the worst devil in history.)  Said chase for help had led them on a road trip to Mt Eversnow.

Unfortunately, the help they were enlisting was a devil too – Azazel the ice devil.

~Only Parahuman~

“So why are we here?” Kelly looked around the huge warehouse, his voice as flat as ever.

“Christmas shopping, of course!” Shizuka flashed some money in his face and ran ahead. “It’s not every day that my mother lets me go shopping, after all.”

As Shizuka ran amuck, asking Kelly for his opinion every now and then, the latter felt like he was missing out on the Christmas spirit. Maybe it was because he was still missing his father and being a sore loser about it.

Suddenly, a white downy feather on the ground caught his attention. He looked up.

It was a swan - his dad, he knew – sitting in the rafters, dozing away.

~Fire’s Light~

“Just a little to the right, mya!” Leo called out to Lucien. “Back a little!”

Now, why exactly is a fallen angel like me putting up Christmas lights? Lucien wondered as he obeyed the commands of the lion spirit. Being a human is lousy.

“Careful!” Leo’s voice warned, but it was too late.

The ladder Lucien was standing on toppled backwards, causing the two to crash into each other.

Joan poked her head out of the door and shook her head at the duo. Those guys were too reckless.

~Expiry Date~

Christmas was something the world had retained after the Dates and Alkahest had appeared. At least there was something to look forward to, no matter what kind of person you were, and Hideaki was proving that right as he and Haruka went to the Kurokawa mansion.

“What’s that on your face?” Haruka pointed out lamely.

“Well then, what about your girly name?!” Hide lashed out, spoiling the happy mood for one second. Haruka never enjoyed the fact that his name was girly.

But before any serious fighting could break out, Dawn appeared in front of them and dragged them both inside.

Expiry Date ch. 8

After a long stare off, Ayato decided to interrupt it by plucking Daisuke off the desk and dragging both him and Hide outside. Obviously both had forgotten they’d been breaking and entering…

//

A few hours beforehand…

Dawn had plans of her own. It was true she’d come to accompany Kieran, but that was not always her motive. During school time, Hide had told her of an underground passage which turned out to be the reason why Silver/Ginji had never shown his face in public.

Now she was in it, immersing herself in the darkness of the passage and feeling the walls using her tonfas as extensions of her arms.

Two small flashes made her gasp quietly. There was something in the darkness, and she had to find out what it was. So she struck, and while she hadn’t felt for a switch, when she hit the creature she’d accidentally turned the light on.

The creature - part boa constrictor, part armadillo and part turtle – emerged from the darkness, its head moving like a flung yoyo as it lunged again.

Dawn jumped on to its long neck, bent its head backwards and smashed the two longest fangs. The immediate threat was gone, but applause echoing through the tunnel told her she wasn’t finished fighting yet.

Half a face gleamed in the dim light, a wide partial grin spread on it. That was Ginji’s trademark – his metal mask. He practically never took it off. “Fancy seeing you here, Dawn Akatsuki,” he greeted with his flat voice.

Dawn groaned at the last name he’d used. She’d disowned her last name when she was orphaned, and ‘akatsuki’ meant ‘dawn’ anyway.

“So you don’t enjoy the fact that your uncle and your parents’ killer is here, right in front of your face?”

“Of course I don’t. Who would?” With that, she launched a kick at him.

But he caught her without even hesitating. That was another trademark – he was always correct in his timing.

Dawn whimpered as he tightened his grip on her leg. “I’m sure your parents would,” Ginji chortled at the thought of her parents trying to burn him to death on that day a long time ago. Dawn just whimpered even more as she mentally pleaded for help.

A few seconds passed in silence, the only noise being breath whistling past the half-mask. After he dropped her, a glint came off Ginji’s mask and then torchlight shone on the silver hand holding Dawn.

“Dawn! I think you should explain to me what’s going on,” Kieran declared.

~~

Approaching the ending! It’s gonna be huge!

…There’s Crimson: Reboot coming sooner or later. If you enjoyed the first one, I bet you’ll enjoy the second even more, because the second one’s closer to DN Angel than before, plus there’s a new rival! Fuyuki/White Knight’s been scrapped though.

Expiry Date ch. 7

Early the next morning, the phone in Ayato’s house rang. The blue glow of its screen illuminated the words ‘Boss calling’.

“Change of plans,” the voicemail went, once the phone went unanswered, “I’ll now allow you to reappear in front of your old friend Hideaki.”

//

It was almost the end of term, almost Christmas, almost summer holidays. I wonder if I’ll miss the idyllic peace of spring when I’m gone? Kieran thought as he crossed his arms behind his head and tried to fall asleep on Haruka’s front porch. But before that happened, the sun got in his eyes, and a figure moved in the house next door.

But…that couldn’t be! The house on the other side of the road from Haruka’s was meant to be Ayato’s, and Ayato was meant to be dead from the expiry date!

Dawn, who had been beside him before, was already beating him to the punch, whipping out her tonfas and knocking the door down. But she gave out a shrill scream when she saw who had been behind the door: Ayato. A piercing stare penetrated first Dawn, with the question “You’re not afraid of ghosts, are you?” going unsaid, then the long-absent brunette. This time, he spoke: “You’ve got some explaining to do.”

//

It turns out that Ayato was actually not an Alkahest employee, but rather a freelance worker who hid from the light of day because the Date he had was false. False Dates had not been unheard of, but seeing one just made Kieran a little suspicious. After all, the false Date could have been faked.

As for his freelancing, he was currently just working on surveillance of Alkahest and holing himself up in a cosy nook in Ginji’s house. That’s what he said, anyway.

“Wait, how do you know that guy?!” Dawn spluttered at that remark.

“Don’t you know that Ayato is Ginji’s brother?” Kieran pointed out.

//

Kieran couldn’t just stand around when there was a potentially fake Date in front of him.

The only way to find out whether the Date was authentic was to find the remnants of his Date among the blur. To do that, someone had to take a closer look at the blur…

He heard a quiet chirp coming from Haruka’s porch, and with that, Kieran had an idea.

//

The little yellow bird swooped into the house at twilight, guided by the sole light near the back – Ayato. Ginji never came home, after all.

The first thing he was greeted by was the mollusc’s snoring. All clear.

The next thing was Hide. A look of shock temporarily came over his face as he recognised the bird, then he brought Daisuke off the shelf and continued with whatever he’d been doing.

The sounds of bare feet on wood came from the nearby hallway. Hide hid under the table, causing Daisuke to wonder why as he followed. 

“I’m not that dumb, Hideaki.” The brunette kicked him playfully, causing Hide to come out from underneath the table. “Long time no see.”

“Don’t say that. I knew you weren’t dead, Ayato.” 

Expiry Date ch. 6

Haruka, being inquisitive as always, read the note. “This is about your sister, isn’t it?”

Another nod from Kieran. “But I don’t see why she had to call Daisuke back just to give me this message.”

“She must have had a reason,” Hideaki mused.

//

Kieran slammed the door of his house open. “Dad! She’s coming home!”

“Who?” Akira, while adjusting his glasses, blindly hoped his son would say ‘Tsukiko’ - the name of his wife – but knew he would say ‘Hikari’. Just as he thought, Kieran said ‘Electra’, Hikari’s codename and a name that both used in order to make it not seem like they were deeply involved with Alkahest.

Kieran wasn’t deeply involved with Alkahest, anyway. He and Dawn only defeated the Barcodes out of free will.

Just then, a lady – blonde dyed hair, but otherwise the spitting image of Tsukiko with all her petite features – appeared in the open doorway.

Electra was home.

//

“Shouldn’t you be with Ginji, working on Barcodes?” Kieran asked her.

“I have assistants, you know. I can take a break every once in a while, can’t I?” Kieran had never heard of Electra having assistants. She’d only had Ginji – Silver – as far as he was concerned. “As for Ginji, he’s been working on something and he’s been hiding it from me. It’s probably a non-Barcode, though – he rushed the making of the last Barcode to get some vital parts of his project completed.” So that’s why the last one had been worse than the rest.

Meanwhile, Daisuke and Dawn entered. “Oh, Daisuke! There you are!” Daisuke gave a chirrup in reply, and landed on the table in front of Electra.

“Why’d Daisuke get sent back to you?” That was Dawn.

“It was because dad wouldn’t have known otherwise. I knew that dad would have already figured out that Daisuke was trustworthy.”

//

Hideaki lay in bed, unable to sleep in the bright lights of the nearby road. His mind kept trying to pull him into the trap of sleep, yet he just couldn’t.

Ayato, what happened to you? he wondered, staring at the ceiling and remembering his childhood friend who was two years his senior. I sure hope I get to see you again sometime…

 With that, the numb feeling of sleep took over.

“I’m sorry,” Ayato spoke into his laptop microphone even though it wasn’t plugged in, “I can’t see you right now.” He half-heartedly closed the webcam program that had been broadcasting Hide to him. The little light-up mollusc Barcode which sat on his desktop dozed on a shelf just above his head, casting light on his dark brunette hair and his sleep-deprived face as he hit the shutdown button and sighed.

Later, as he attempted to sleep, he looked at the marking on his wrist. It, at first glance, appeared to be a relatively large bruise, but only he, Silver and the Darkness – Alkahest’s boss - knew it was actually the remains of his Date.

He was alive when he was meant to be dead.

~~

Most of the teen characters are sixteen in this story, meaning that Ayato is eighteen.     

Expiry Date Side Story~Different

Expiry Date Side Story – Different

This is kind of what I was hoping to release in Experiment. It’s also sort of like an unreleased story called Automata (you’ll see why it’s called that in the story), but it’s got its own spin.

Note that ‘Hide’ in the story is pronounced ‘he-day’, like Hideo’s nickname in Detective Conan.

Update: Rejigged this and added details so it can stand alone.

~~

In a galaxy far, far away, there was a race of people – the Automata - who at first seemed human but were in fact not human at all. Their planet had no atmosphere but lots of metal ore, so they adapted and gained similar properties to their greatest resource…

//

Haruka had been an outcast his entire life. His long dark fringe, pale skin and bony frame, which made him look like a spectre, didn’t help him much. Neither did his name, which normally got associated with girls and meant ‘far away’ – perfect for a dreamer like him.

When he was five, he started to realise he was different: his fingers were slightly more pointed than everyone else’s. It was too subtle at first so everyone believed it to be a figment of his imagination…but then rashes started appearing all over his hands, which stopped him from even doing the smallest things. No one wanted to help the ‘freaky disabled boy’, and the doctors had no clue how to stop it.

Haruka was at home, his hands bandaged tightly so that he wouldn’t itch them, when his rashes finally stopped and the skin on his hands peeled off, revealing metal underneath.

“What’s happened to me?” He shook a now silver hand in front of his mother’s face.

“I decided to not tell you until the change occurred, but you’re an Automata,” his mother told him, unveiling that she had the same thing after tugging at her wrist. The Automata were a race of aliens which were part-human, part machine which his mother had told him lots about without any particular reason…at least he knew the reason now.

As the boy panicked about how his peers would think him even more of a freak, his mother produced a pair of gloves after slipping her own back on. As Haruka slid on the pair, he realised his hands didn’t feel any different, but they looked and felt ordinary now.

//

Seven years later, his friend Hideaki was howling in despair in Haruka’s presence. The two were an unlikely pair, what with Haruka being short and fragile juxtaposed against Hide’s bulky, tall body, but they did everything together – including going to the doctor for Hide’s Date testing. Normally the Date developed on the skin at the age of ten, but his was too blurry at the time to determine whether it was the Date or a natural marking.

Every time Hide caught a glimpse of his Date on his arm, he lapsed into despair. He thought he’d be dead before his Date even arrived.

//

The assembly for the juniors took much longer than usual. This was because of the Alkahest discovery – the ability to summon weapons from nowhere.

Akira – a scientist in a dark suit with equally dark hair, and a cold stare to boot - stood at the lectern, his glasses shining in the hall lights as he declared that the Dated first-years would be offered the chance to put the Alkahest discovery into action. Kieran, a first year who was just a little too quiet and serious, was up on the stage too because he had been the person to trial it. Some of the audience members noted how Akira and Kieran looked and acted quite similarly, but never quite picked up on the fact Kieran was Akira’s son: it was something only Hide, Dawn and Haruka knew, as Kieran’s friends (+ bodyguard in Dawn’s case).

“Hide, are you going to take that offer? It would be good for you, since you’ve got no self-esteem,” Haruka muttered amongst the crowd’s noise.

“I know,” moaned Hideaki, putting his head in his hands. “What about you though? You were the one who said you’d be the bodyguard ‘cos I’m the Dated one.”

“I’m going to say no, because I can’t ever remember saying yes.”

“If you’re not getting a weapon, then I will.” Haruka mentally cursed at this comment from his friend. If Hide had a weapon, he might have a plan to kill himself with it!

//

Hide had gone through with the operation to associate himself with a weapon a few weeks after the assembly. Now he could produce a rifle out of nowhere and instantly reload it with his mental power. Despite this, he still had the same pessimistic outlook on everything.

Two senior bullies came for him that evening, their grins gleaming with drool like hungry lions.

“You’re one of those juniors. I’m guessing you have a weapon. Well, do you?” one spat at him, lowering his bulldog-like face so that it was level with Hide’s. “’Cos we have weapons too.” What weapons? Only the Dated would have had weapons at this point in time, and this guy wasn’t Dated…there was something the Dated exuded that allowed them to identify each other, even if their Date was out of sight.

The other bully, a lanky one who had permanent bedhead and a coat of dandruff, brought a lock cutter out of a hessian bag he was carrying. Hide produced his rifle, but he was too late. The bully who’d been handling the lock cutter smashed it into the fence behind Hide, only narrowly missing the younger boy’s shoulder.

“How come Sezarians can’t use guns but you can?” the ugly-faced bully asked him, grabbing a pair of garden shears from the bag and joining in.

But he didn’t even make contact – a blade collided with the shears before they could hit. For some reason, Haruka was at the end of the blade, his arm being the blade.

“If Hide’s allowed, Hide’s allowed,” Haruka looked back at Hide as he said this. “Because he’s Dated, you’re not.” With that, he retracted his blade and it morphed back into being his right hand.

The bully duo ran off screaming, “That kid’s a freak!”

“Well, technically I’m an alien, but that Alkahest thing just doesn’t do what I can do,” Haruka muttered as he slid a replacement glove out of his pocket and put it on. Then he continued, his brown eyes on Hideaki, “You really need to learn to stand up for yourself. That rifle won’t be of any use otherwise.”  

//

Come two years later, Hide still hadn’t killed himself. It was amazing, when he looked back on his life and realised that.

One thing had changed over the past two years, though: he’d trained rather desperately in order to make sure Haruka didn’t need to take care of him anymore.

Now, as he brandished his rifle and shot some practice targets to show Miyano-sensei (a rather unkempt brunette catgirl as well as his teacher) how much he’d improved, he began to think that maybe he didn’t want to go just yet. He’d keep on going forward for his friends.

When his Date arrived, then he’d be ready to die.

Expiry Date ch. 5

Another day, another Barcode. This was the monotony – and yet excitement - of Kieran’s life.

But because Kieran had gotten so enraged over Daisuke forcefully removing Dawn and his dad from battle yesterday, he was in a bit of a gloomy mood. That gloomy mood also happened to be a rather optimal mood for killing Barcodes with.

So kill Barcodes he did. This time, solo. He didn’t want to show off his bad temper.

Today’s Barcode had the beak of a bird, but the teeth, eyes and legs had been gained from a velociraptor. The rest came from a horse – supposedly it was the one that had supplied the first one’s legs. Its flesh was rotted in places, and the lingering smell and the flies accompanied it.

There had never been a Barcode in such poor condition, or a barcode in such an obvious place on its flank, and that made its defeat easy.

But the question was why it was so sloppily made and dispatched in the first place.

//

As Kieran sleepily made his way to the next class, his phone started belting out: ‘I might be anyone, a lone fool out in the sun. Your heartbeat of solid gold. I love you, you’ll never know…’

As he rushed away to answer it, slightly embarrassed because of his ringtone, he couldn’t help thinking it was from Electra.

It was actually from Electra. “I thought you were always calm, but Daisuke tells me otherwise-”

“That stupid bird! He’s been ratting on me, hasn’t he?”

Electra gave an affirmative answer, and Kieran cursed audibly enough for his sister to hear him. “Why do you want to spy on me so much? You could just come home and do that.”

“Well, it’s Dawn we’re spying on. However, Silver has his eye on you as well because you would be an easy subject for experiments. In order to keep him away, I have to keep attacking you. With Daisuke in place, I don’t need to worry about the steely-eyed one anymore though.”

“So why did you call me?”

“Silver seems to have some kind of personal vendetta against Dawn and you, so you should really look out for each other.” The line cut off, and Kieran muttered something about how his sister wasn’t actually a genius because she didn’t even know how to get back home.

//

After school, Hideaki, Haruka, Dawn and Kieran were walking home when Daisuke came flitting up to them with a message attached to his leg.

“Is this bird a pet of yours?” Hideaki asked. Daisuke perched on Hideaki’s ebony-haired head while Kieran gave a brief nod and unfurled the message from the bird’s leg.

The message said: I’m coming home.

Kieran knew who that was from.

~~

Kieran’s ringtone is ‘Under Control’ by Calvin Harris, Alesso and Hurts – obviously I have nothing to do with the song except for including lyrics here.

Expiry Date ch. 4

Kieran, rapiers in hand, charged at Daisuke.

“What happened to my dad and Dawn?” he asked the bird-human, giving Daisuke’s left wrist a slash.

“They’re simply in the universe where our weapons get stored. No big deal.”

The weapon universe was exactly what its name implied – it was made only for weapons. It could only hold a human for about a day before the automatic shutdown occurred. The automatic shutdown being when the universe came alive, and the weapons controlled themselves.

Even Kieran’s dad couldn’t handle an attack from a world full of weapons.

“Bring them back!” The Asian boy, eyes glittering with rage, gave Daisuke what he deserved – a punch, square on his face. Blood spilled out of Daisuke’s nose as the force knocked the bird-human backwards. The laptop was levitating, so nothing happened to it.

Without any commands, leaves started shooting from the trees and hitting the ebony-haired boy. Daisuke watched, shocked.

“You’ve pretty much sent them to their deaths!” he hissed through his teeth as he resummoned his rapiers and used them as shields. Unfortunately, he only half-heartedly predicted where every leaf was landing. “You’re the only one who can bring them back – I know that much, my dad told me. So bring them back!”

The only things Daisuke did in reply were swiping the blood from his face and getting up.

Kieran cursed under his breath. “Fine, if you’re not doing it, I will.” He went to the laptop and peered at its screen.

There was just a command prompt screen. Hitting the three button combination he knew worked every time – control, alt, delete – he thought it was all over when he hit ‘switch user’.

It wasn’t.

//

Reverting to bird form, Daisuke let out a shrill note.

With one hand clamped over his left ear to stop Daisuke from wrecking his patience, he attempted the other options.

Finally, he gave up. He was still angry after all, and his patience was extremely thin at this time. He hit the ‘shut down’ and decided to catch the bird.

But before he found Daisuke, he found his dad and Dawn.

//

Miyano-sensei dropped by later, noting the smell of bird was heavy in the air.

“Do you know who was behind that attack earlier today?” she asked Akira as he gave her some fish.

“You already know who was behind it – it was Hikari,” he stated, flat as ever. Sensei gave a solemn nod and gulped down the offering. “So what are you doing here, three-eight-neko?” ‘Three-eight-neko’ came from ‘mi’ and ‘ya’ in Miyano.

“That bird smell. It’s new, and it’s mingling with the smell of fresh blood. What’s the source of it?”

“I assume you mean the bird Daisuke which Hikari sent here. Apparently it was here for ‘a test run’, but that’s unlike her – she would have done a test run herself. It’s one of the non-Barcode experiments; she would have put a lot more work into it.”

“A non-Barcode? Just like me – almost invincible, yet so fragile.” She smiled a secretive smile. “Then again, the same invincibility and fragility goes for humans, too.” 

Expiry Date ch. 3

“The only reason I’m here is because I was chosen to protect Kieran and keep him out of the way of anyone who would dare reduce his Date to nothing. That’s all…” she whispered into the hallway after she went out of earshot. But somehow, she knew she was also here because she was special. More special than anyone would dare to think of, and somehow her adoptive brother and father had picked up on that.

She hadn’t even realised how she was special until she’d heard Kieran say it.

Maybe, despite her lowly status as adopted child/bodyguard, she meant more to the Kurokawa family than she’d ever known.

//

Miyano-sensei, in all senses of the word, was a stray cat. Including the fact that she lived on the streets, alone, a renegade to the people who wanted to keep her for experiments.

Alkahest had already decided to stop chasing her any more. They thought that with a taste of freedom came a sense of wanting to go back, a sense of regret that only comes to the owned and used. That was not how she operated. She was an adventurer because of the fact she had been locked up for so long.

She may not have been the best choice for a teacher to the Dated, but she had the necessary skills to help whenever they came under fire, at least.

Plus, the Dated had Dawn and all the Undated students – bodyguards to the Dated students on a one to one ratio.

Someone once said, “To hide a tree, use a forest.” It was an ingenious forest indeed.

//

A cage and a card arrived at the Kurokawa doorstep the next morning. Inside the cage was a small, fluffy, yellow bird.

“Better be careful, Dawn. It could be a Barcode, remember?” Kieran alerted Dawn as she pried the cage door open. He was holding a card between two fingers. The card said:

Hi there, otouto. I sent you a pet a few days ago, but you didn’t like it! :( Why not?

Yesterday, I decided to take a visit to your school. I did send a signal to warn you of my visit. Hope I wasn’t too intrusive…

But anyway, I’m trying again today. You don’t seem to have many friends, so I made you one. His name’s Daisuke.

-Electra  

Kieran gave a bored sigh. Electra really didn’t know how he felt about being attacked, and naming the bird Daisuke (‘great helper’ in Japanese) didn’t help.

At least she’d gotten something right: the fact he was rather lacking in friends.  He only had Dawn and his long-time friends Hideaki and Haruka.

//  

The bird seemed to be refusing to come out of the cage, no matter how much Dawn tried baiting it with food that was already in the cage.

Akira passed by all of a sudden, whistling a tune. Daisuke flitted out of the cage, copying the tune and following him as he stepped outside. Dawn and Kieran, intrigue still heightened, followed the two.

Akira spotted the little bird and raised a hand to it. The bird stayed in the air though. “So this was what Electra was working on all this time? It’s too small to be a Barcode,” the older Kurokawa commented.

In response to this, it began to morph.

It grew until its body hit the ground. From the stubby wings, fingers, hands and arms formed. Its little clawed feet stretched themselves until they became human legs and feet. A spherical object separated from the body and warped itself into a head. From that head came a rush of blonde hair. As it grabbed some clothes out of who-knows-where and quickly dressed itself, Kieran groaned. Electra could have at least made it have clothes on straight up.  

//

After spluttering a few chirps, Daisuke the human finally got some words out: “Electra sent me here so that you could give me a test run.” His words were flat, as if they’d been read from a script. “So, please do.”

Without any further ado, he struck – by summoning a laptop and typing. At first, Kieran thought it was a joke, but then he realised Dawn and his dad had disappeared.

“Dawn Akatsuki and Akira Kurokawa successfully logged out,” Daisuke reported.

~~

I’m pretty set on Expiry Date right now, so you’ll definitely see more chapters coming!

Expiry Date ch. 2

A dark haired boy in a bottle green uniform wandered into the room with his brunette bodyguard, dressed in similar garb, behind him.

“Mornin’, all!” a female voice declared to the two new arrivals. “What’re ya all up to?” The voice belonged to the teacher, Miyano-sensei.

The boy, Kieran, stared at the blonde cat girl who was meant to be their teacher. “Sensei, we’ve gotten up to absolutely nothing.” This was true, because Miyano-sensei, true to her nature, spent all day lazing about – in fact, everyone in Miyano-sensei’s class had learnt nothing this year.

Then again, half the students in the class were Dated, so it was probably to be expected.

Suddenly, Dawn yelled, “Everyone, get down!”

A beam of electricity came through the window and straight towards Kieran’s face.

“I’m not afraid of a little shock, remember, Dawn?” Kieran calmly said as the electricity kept speeding towards his face. His rapiers appeared and he placed one hilt against the other. Then, he struck both into the ground at once, leaning his head clear of the swords. The electricity had been following his face, and since it couldn’t turn very quickly, it went into the swords.

Kieran gritted his teeth as the shock coursed through him. The date on his wrist began disappearing and reappearing, in sync with his staccato heartbeat.

He screamed out a name as the electricity subsided: “Electra!”

Kieran’s date now read 17-8-15.

//

“What was ‘Electra’ for?” Dawn asked him, poking her face in front of Kieran’s book – The Lab by Jack Heath - as he was reading.

With a slight pout that made him look like a fish, he explained, “Electra’s one of the Barcode creators in Alkahest.” Alkahest was the group that commanded the Barcodes. “She trains the Barcodes in combat and human speech, and assists in finding body parts for the incomplete Barcodes. The other Barcode creator is Silver; he does most of the ‘creation’ work.”

Dawn nodded, not listening to him any more even though he was still talking. How come she’d never heard of this ‘Alkahest’ until now, even though she’d been under the same roof as Kieran since the age of four?

Was there something Kieran was hiding from her?

//

Kieran, now in his room, was nearing the end of The Lab when his father Akira entered the room.

“Electra struck today,” he reported, “it’s possible that she’s aiming for Miyano-sensei, Dawn or me.” A flicker of doubt appeared on his face for a split second. “I know she has good intentions in regards to wanting to experiment on me – she wants to get rid of the Date on my wrist, but I don’t intend to be an experiment. As for Miyano-sensei, she wants to reclaim her and Miyano-sensei would never let that happen. Dawn? I have no idea why they would want an orphan with reflexes which are only fractions of a second faster than the usual human’s.”

Akira suggested, “She would also make a good experiment for Alkahest. Who knows? They might want super soldiers with her genes…and animal genes, too. Hers wouldn’t be enough for super soldiers.” With that, he gave a short glance out the window, and then exited the room, only to find Dawn at the entrance.

He knew Dawn had been listening in.

“You heard everything he said, right?” Dawn nodded. “Remember, you’re his,” Akira gestured at Kieran’s room’s door, “bodyguard. You should be stealthier than that.”

Dawn hung her head in shame.

~~

Note that Silver is a legit boy’s name – I checked it.

If you’re thinking Expiry Date is going to be about love before death or love any time at all, you’re dead wrong. (Haha.)

Just because the inspiration happened to be an ad in a shojo manga volume doesn’t mean it’ll turn out that way. No siree. Expiry Date’s meant to be action thriller with a bit of urban fantasy/scifi (blurring the border there). 

Expiry Date ch. 1

I thought of this after seeing an ad for Absolute Boyfriend in Genbu Kaiden volume 11 yesterday. Earlier yesterday, I’d been reading a TV Tropes article called ‘Scannable Man’. Thus, this story was born…

Plus, this could count as a celebration for my 250 posts. Even so, Expiry Date will also be on trappedbirdsflyingfree.

Note: For those that are American or read dates the American way, the day comes first, then the month, then the year.

~~

“Run while there’s still time!”

The black haired boy, the one who’d shouted this, muttered something inaudible and then a pair of rapiers magically appeared in his hands. The girl he was yelling to did as she was told, long brunette hair streaming out behind her as she ran.

The monster behind her – a serpentine monstrosity with horse legs – lunged at her, but then she produced a pair of tonfas and whacked its mouth away.

Then the creature opened its mouth to reveal a gun barrel.

“Your exss-piry date is today,” it hissed, giving the duo a hard stare as it raised its head and showered them with bullets. When the creature lowered its head again, the boy finally spotted it – the barcode at the base of the creature’s neck.

The girl came to the boy’s aid by jumping in front of him and whacking away the bullets. Then, the boy slashed the creature through the barcode, spraying blood over his black shirt and jeans.

“Nope, it’s your expiry date,” the boy told the creature as he glanced at the date burnt permanently into his right wrist: 17-10-15. One year from today.  

One year to live.

But he’d given up the rest of his life in order to slay the Barcodes – huge monsters that controlled the inhabitants of Sezaria through fear and their hidden weapons.

“Come on, Dawn.” His rapiers disappeared in a puff of smoke as he yawned and squinted into the sunset. “I think that’ll be enough Barcode slaying for today.”

Another day towards death for the Dated Kieran. That was all today was.

//

Every time Dawn woke up, she always believed she was in a dream. Kieran, despite his clothing choices of hoodies and jeans, was really rich and had the house to show it.

Because she was adopted, she got to live in the house too.

She tiptoed down the hallways leading up to Kieran’s room, passing a multitude of paintings she’d done. They weren’t very good, but they’d been put on the walls nonetheless.

“Rise and shine, princess!” she yelled as she thrust open the curtains.

Kieran, still groggily moaning and protesting for Dawn to not call him ‘princess’,  tried getting out of bed but because he was still half asleep, his face hit the floor and the rest of his body hit the floor along with it.

But even during Dawn’s fits of giggles, she still remembered that Kieran’s days were numbered. Soon, she would be alone again.

Her mother’s voice suddenly started whispering in her mind, Do you know what it’s like to be alone, with only you and an unborn child to support you? No? That’s a shame, Dawn.

Her father had been Dated too. She had been told by her mother – before she too died, of course - that his day of destiny had been 4-4-98, only three months before her birth.

//

Even if Dawn and Kieran could kick some major Barcode ass, they still had one problem to face that was bigger than any threat to them than any Barcode: school.

Kieran, as one of the Dated, had a bit more freedom with his timetable, but still he had all the restrictions of school…but Kieran still welcomed it, because any experience before his death was a good one.

~~

Please stay tuned for the next chapter of Expiry Date, plus all my other stories on tbff! There’s also the non-fanfic version of Heiji the Star coming out sometime soon, so look forward to that!