Content warnings: None.
Notes: Written for Jashi Week: Timeless Tuesday.
Their school mascot was supposed to have been an eagle, but from the discussion whispered amongst students to the sheer amount of projects on display depicting the subject in question, it'd be easy to guess it was the demonic dragon-like creature called Aku instead. Its popularity wasn't much of a wonder--any resident would say that if there was any notable thing about the town the school resided in, it's that it was supposed birthplace of the creature.The rumors of what it was varied; some would say it was a ghost or demon that had supposedly been summoned by way of a ritual gone wrong, and every misfortune that happened to the town or townspeople was a result of the demon. Others would say it was simply a rare, one-of-a-kind lizard that scientists had yet to officially classify.
Jack's parents erred towards the former. While they were not especially superstitious people, the event of losing their house to a wildfire, long before Jack had been born, had shaken his parents to the point it was taboo to utter Aku's name in their household. Jack may not have experienced a misfortune as great as his parents', but he nonetheless took their sentiment of Aku to heart. When he was a child, he'd yell "Don't speak of him!" to the other children who'd like to play pretend as the demon. This resulted in Jack being teased and occasionally bullied, with the children trying to get him to say Aku's name all the while he forced himself to keep his mouth shut.
As a teenager, he continued to exercise his condemnation of Aku, but he was no longer tormented by his peers for it. His peers' torment had, in fact, fueled his resolve to get stronger physically. Over time he excelled at sports of all sorts, and with it he gained a muscular, athletic build that was further boasted by his height. Though he was by no means an aggressive individual, no one, not even in the face of their unabashed love of Aku, dared to mock "the samurai of campus", as he was nicknamed by his fellow classmates.
So how on earth did he end up here, at a concert led by a band called the Daughters of Aku?
They were a group composed of septuplet sisters who'd typically be seen wandering around the school hallways wearing jackets with a white face that had Aku-inspired horns jutting out of it embroidered on the backs of them. Their mother was said to be an Aku fanatic, if not an outright worshipper of the creature, and while the girls didn't hold the same devotion to him that their mother did, they found a way to adopt him into their primary interest of music.
Jack generally kept his distance away from them, particularly from the lead guitarist named Ashi. This behavior wasn't anything new for him--Jack had a general policy of avoiding others who seemed a little too wrapped up in the Aku phenomenon in a positive way, and the most he'd interact with them would be with a sharp glare and shaking of his head. But his avoidance of the septuplets didn't seem to stem from disdain.
It was from the rapid beating of his heart and burning of his cheeks whenever he saw Ashi.
"Here," said the band's lead guitarist to him earlier today, handing him a flyer, "I know you're not big on the whole Aku deal, but we'd be pretty flattered if the samurai of campus showed up to our concert."
The flyer illustrated all of the sisters at their musical instruments, clothed entirely in black, wearing masks of the face on their jackets. The shadow of what was commonly imagined to be Aku lingered in the background, and "The Daughters of Aku" was displayed in bloody letters below the sisters, along with smaller text giving the date, time, and address the concert would be taking place. It was an adeptly illustrated flyer, Jack had to admit, and while the logical--if rude--side of him wanted to tear it up, the emotional side of him felt as if he'd received a gift.
"Th-thank you," he said, accepting the flyer, "I, er, I'll consider it."
Ashi beamed and pumped her fist. "Great! I'll…maybe see you there?"
And that led him here, standing amongst the crowd of students, many of whom were wearing the masks shown on the flyer that were given away to attending members. The stage was small, but bursting with energy both from the red lights cast down and the Daughters of Aku themselves. As their flyer had shown, they were all wearing entirely black, full-bodied leotards, but they didn't wear masks. Instead, they wore white paint on their faces and differentiated themselves through their hair. The bob cuts they normally wore were styled into vastly different, wilder looks, befitting of the of their band's name. The one named Ashi styled hers into what looked like a ducktail that stood at the top of her head. They put everything into their performances from their voices to their bodies as they played away at their instruments with passion.
The lyrics of their songs didn't express adoration for Aku, as Jack had anticipated, but told stories of the demon. He couldn't quite make out all of them (many of the lyrics were screamed angrily), but the ones he could involved tales of Aku shapeshifting into different forms to trick good-hearted people, using his body to corrupt the souls of innocents, and even the origin story of the Daughters of Aku themselves. Jack had to admit they were compelling, and even found himself tapping his foot at the beat of a few of the songs.
After the concert had ended and audience members gradually began to disappear in high spirits, Jack was approached by the band jogging towards him. Ashi waved at him, grinning widely.
"Hey, you made it!" Ashi turned to her sisters. "Looks like I won the bet."
The six of them stuck their tongues out at her and she laughed.
Jack was taken aback by this. Had he just been used?
"Yeah, a wager of whether you'd show up or not." Ashi took note of Jack's disapproving scowl quickly and waved her hand. "Nah, not like that. We didn't actually bet anything. I'm really glad you came though, how'd you like our performance? Be honest, we can handle criticism. It's all our mother dishes out to us, after all."
"She criticizes you?" inquired Jack.
"Oh yeah, about everything from our grades to our hygiene," answered one of the sisters.
"She really detests our music though," another sister chimed in, "Says we don't write enough songs about all the noble deeds Aku's done or whatever. Personally, I thought the one we wrote about him telling stories to homeless children was pretty sweet."
"But enough about our mom," Ashi said, leaning forward towards Jack and making heat rise up at his cheeks, "What did you think of our music, samurai?"
Jack held his chin in his hand, both mulling over what to say and hoping to hide the blush from his face. "I…admit, many of the lyrics were a bit hard for me to make out, but I was rather absorbed in what I understood. "
"Man, you were able to make anything out at all?" Ashi laughed, "We try to incorporate so much screaming into our singing, I'm amazed you of all people paid attention to the lyrics. I was afraid if all the Aku-ness of our music didn't scare you off, our singing would."
"You were…afraid I'd leave?"
"Of course." Ashi turned to her sisters and loudly whispered to them, "Ok, I won the bet, now give us some space like we agreed."
The sisters pouted and left to clean up the stage and seating area.
"So…there was a stake involved in your little bet."
"Can you blame me?" Ashi smirked. "I'm interested in you, samurai."
"Y…you uh…" Jack couldn't hide the red that was coloring his complexion. "I…um…I admit, I'm…interested in you too…"
"Great. So how's a trip to the local zoo this Saturday sound?"
Jack expected this least of all. After all the songs of the demon that brought about death and destruction in its wake, he'd expected an invitation to the cemetery, if anything.
"Yeah, I want to check out the new bug exhibit they're opening up. And who doesn't like animals, right…Jack?"
Jack gulped and smiled, shivering a bit at the sound of Ashi finally saying his name.
"R-right. That sounds like a good idea."
Ashi leaned up to kiss him on the cheek.
"I'll see you then, samurai."