Peeling away from your flesh leaves a lot of detail behind. The shape of “You” isn’t the same as the shape of your body; the shape of you grows to fill whatever space it’s given. And when I step away from things, just for a bit, I feel bigger and bolder than I have ever grown inside. But I take the bags beneath my eyes with me, and the scar on my left arm (though I don’t take the arm to go with it). I take my aches and my pains with me; I only leave behind the things that aren’t me at all.
A/N: Not to curtail your prompt again, lionheadbookheads, but I’m getting very strong vibes of Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye as well as that one other time you sent me a prompt about the songs “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning” and “Thunder” and I guess what I’m saying here is that I want to do a Tetsuki Kaiza piece for this prompt, I hope you don’t mind.
Basically, given the whole “who I am is not my physical body” theme, there is a very definitive spiritual over physical and reincarnation message going on here and Tetsuki does do that so… please enjoy?
Viridescent: Or, Tetsuki Follows Her Dreams
She closes her eyes, feels the sunshine warm on her face, and takes a deep breath; the spring breeze carries hints of winter still, cool and slightly damp, but the scent of early blooming flowers layers over that.
Her mobile phone buzzes in her pocket, a staccato vibration, a summoning. The man who pays her income but will never be her Boss, the man who supports her lifestyle but doesn’t provide her survival, the man who determines her waking and sleeping hours but never her thoughts or dreams.
She opens her eyes, raises a hand, and lifts a gun to her temple. Inelegant, but efficient. It reminds her of home.
She pulls the trigger.
She wakes up.
She is born in the late autumn months, as both year and century draw to an end. She is born to Fuyuko and Toichi Kaiza in a hospital technically but barely within Tokyo. She is born a wailing, red-faced, and thoroughly average baby girl.
What happens to her after is far from from average.
For all that dream-sharing is a largely international industry, it would inaccurate to say that it is one homogenous community. They do not always match official country borders, but there are enclaves within dream-sharing with its own customs and cultures and rules.
Japan is one such enclave.
For the most part, so long as there is no immediate conflict of interest, foreign dreamers may conduct their business without any interference from local entities. This rule is but the second that broadly reigns over the Japanese dream-sharing community.
The first is simply: do not mess with Azuma.
The thoroughly average baby girl that will one day be known in certain circles as Azuma does not have a good or even average childhood. She tries to run away from her parents at age six and manages to elude the very expensive private detective service her parents hired for two weeks before getting caught.
Despite the broken arm, it is not the last time she does this. It will be another eight years and twenty or so attempts before she manages to definitively escape her parents’ clutches and that perhaps has equal amount to do with them getting bored as it is with her expertise.
She is searching for people and places that don’t exist anywhere but her own mind, but at least it’s better than staying where she was.
Saito of Proclus Global has three executive assistants, all of whom speak a minimum of four languages, are qualified as triple-A certified bodyguards and emergency medical technicians, and have extensive counterintelligence training, among other varied and useful talents.
Though the woman known as Azuma can also be described as such and is frequently seen in proximity of Saito, she is not one of said executive assistants.
Her talents are a little more varied and useful than that.
The knowledge she has is helpful–blades and human vulnerabilities the same no matter what, languages and critical training filtering through as needed–but she remembers having powers beyond physical possibility and that’s what ultimately betrays her.
A teenager, no matter how skilled or smart or shrewd, will never be completely safe in the criminal underbelly of a big city. A lone teenager without any ties is a tempting target for many parties.
When they grab her, she fights. Foolishly, she thinks she can win. She forgets she doesn’t have endless lightning at her fingertips, energy bolstering her muscles, superhuman and unstoppable.
When they grab her, she loses. She is just a teenager, and they are a unscrupulous, government funded company trying to pioneer an entirely new method of espionage.
Azuma’s patron is a matter of public knowledge. It is not a weakness.
Most professional dreamers in Japan have a primary sponsor–another company, a yakuza family, a government official–and while Azuma’s patron does not have technically have the most influence in Japan, well… Proclus Global. Money is its own kind of power. And that’s not even including what Azuma can bring to the table.
Dreamers in Japan know better than to go after Azuma’s patron. Even non-native dreamers who have heard secondhand of Azuma know better than to attempt it.
Which is why, when Cobol Engineering tries to hire extractors to go after Saito, they are forced to outsource to an unhinged suspected murderer, his loyal point man, and a mediocre architect.
The early stages of Somnacin were riddled with problems. Unstable, inefficient, addictive–anything that could have gone wrong, did.
Her body hated every second of it, every drop that coursed through her veins. She spent the next few years in a constantly nauseated state of misery, sick and shaking, more asleep than awake and so terribly weak.
Physically, that is.
Mentally, everything she had lost was regained. The power that eluded her in the waking world flowed easily at her command, the dreamscape the most welcoming place she had been in years.
The other subjects washout–brains fried, suicide, crumbling under the pressure–but she remains. No, more than that, she thrives.
Azuma is not an extractor; she is not a point person or architect or chemist either. She can do all of those jobs, of course, but she thinks dividing roles that way is arbitrary and limiting. She is a professional dreamer, with all the responsibilities and capabilities involved.
Her outside reputation is as a forger, though that isn’t quite right either.
Even in dreams, no one can do what Azuma can.
Tetsuki is happiest when she dreams.