Pandora's Necklace by nicksgal
Story Notes:
Welcome back to this tale! If you haven't read Pandora's Box, you will probably be pretty confused, so go read it! You can probably read it comfortably over a week or so. It got a nice edit over December 2020/January 2021 and you can now enjoy my full vision for it that I had promised so long ago. If you read PBox originally, a few things have been added in addition to some small re-hauls, but nothing that majorly changes the story as a whole entity, or even the plot of each chapter; this next arc should all make sense. I'll leave notes for you at the bottom for any chapters you may want to revisit if they're relevant to the current plot.
Chapter One: Illusory by nicksgal
Author's Notes:
Chapters 1-10 of PBox were edited/updated this week.

“Minako! Minako! Find me, Minako!” The male voice called through the darkness.

Only silence responded to him. It was an endless suffocating dark with no sound and no movement except for his voice and his body. In the periphery of his vision, he saw the pale color of his skin flailing wildly, trying to push the darkness away with his fingertips, which ended in sharp claws instead of finger nails.

“Minako! Hurry, find me! Minako!” He pawed his clawed hands through the darkness.

This has happened before…

Always calling in the darkness. Always silent in the daylight. Heart wrenching sadness in the darkness. Serene smiles in the daylight. A loud and desperate shout. Always searching and never finding. Awake and half asleep. Broken. Incomplete.

He startled awake. Darkness turns to daylight.

He put his hands to his face and ran his fingers up his forehead and through his blond hair as he blinked several times. As he sat up, he reached out to the bedside table and grasped a ring and a chain with his hand. He gripped them tightly before setting them both in his lap. He picked up the small gold ring and stared at it with a gentle smile before sliding it down his right hand ring finger. He then picked up the chain and let it dangle in front of his face. The golden chain was threaded with a few solitary pearls and a large sapphire gem at the bottom affixed to a golden wing shaped backing a little wider than the sternoclavicular joint. The gold and gems gleamed in the sunlight and reflected on his face like the whispery reply to the screams from his dreams.

Something important from a very long time ago… The immovable power of fate makes me call out in my dreams. But to who?

“Minako! Find me!”

He shut his eyes. Minako… Whoever you are, wherever you are, my heart is calling you in the dark and it seems like only finding you will calm it. If you would only answer, I swear I would never let you go.

He put his hand to his head again. This same dream, I’ve had it before. For months now, I’ve been screaming in the dark. Only a few months, but it feels like something I’ve done for a very long time… Something I did a long time ago… When else would I have screamed in the dark?

He set the necklace back on the table before pulling the white sheet from his body and walking toward the window across from the bed. He threw open the dark gray curtains and stared at the skyscrapers outside leaning against the clouds gently. He rested his forehead on his hand as he pressed his face closer to the window. If I had wings… I could escape from here and be free… Escape that nightmare and…

A knock sounded at the door.

He turned toward it quickly. “Uh, hang on…” He picked up a crumpled pair of jeans from the floor between the bed and the window, then pulled them over each leg as he walked toward a chair between the door and a large closet. He grabbed a gray sweatshirt slung over the arm and pulled it over his head quickly before opening the door. “Kevin…”

The second man leaned on his doorframe, his black button down shirt contrasting against the dark wood. Kevin narrowed his thick eyebrows against his green eyes as he matched the tone of his voice. “Nick…”

Nick crossed his arms. “You’re doing house calls again?”
He smiled and patted Nick’s shoulder. “Just making sure you’re awake and not staring at that necklace again.”
Nick hung his head.

Kevin lips quirked into a frown. “Well, you’re awake at least. Step one.”

Nick put his hand to his head. “It… I… That weird dream again…”

Kevin mirrored Nick and crossed his arms as well. “Do you want to talk to someone about it?”

Nick shook his head. “No, I’ll just sound crazy repeating myself…”

“Nick…”

He raised his hands in mock defense. “You keep suggesting that I talk to someone other than you all, you obviously also think I sound crazy… ‘I keep having this dream where I scream for someone I don’t know.’ ‘This weird necklace I had a death grip on when I woke up four months ago… Also a ring!’ ‘No other updates, still don’t know where anything came from.’ Did I forget a crazy sounding thing I’ve said?”

Kevin frowned. “You know I’m just worried about you…”

“Yeah because it sounds--”

“Because it’s bothering you.” He smirked. “You’ve done plenty of things over the years that seem ‘crazy,’ I’m used to it.”

Nick crossed his arms again and crumpled into himself. “Gee… thanks…”

He smiled warmly. “You know I’ll listen to anything you have to say, crazy or not. But there’s only so much I can do to help after four months of the same thing, other than continuing to support you.”

“Thanks Kevin, really…”

He smiled. “Do you want to get breakfast together?”

Nick shook his head. “No… I might lay back down and try to get more rest… That dream is exhausting...”

“Just make sure that you’re ready to go for our sound check.” He eyed Nick’s clothing. “And maybe not in the clothes you pulled off your floor.”

Nick frowned. “You can text me next time instead of knocking on the door…”

Kevin chuckled. “You can’t ignore me this way.”

Nick rolled his eyes. “Stop being so persistent.”

Kevin shook his head and started to walk away.

Nick grabbed the door frame and whispered loudly, “I’m kidding, I like that you check in on me.”

Kevin turned back and ruffled Nick’s hair. “I know.” He turned back around and gave him a short wave. “I’ll text you about breakfast if you change your mind, but remember, sound check.”

“I know, I know, I know. Sound check.” He closed the door lightly and walked back to the side table. He picked up the necklace and let it dangle in front of his eyes again. Why… Why am I still calling you in the dark? Who are you? Why won’t you ever answer me?

~*~

“Minako… Minako… Find me, Minako…” A male voice called through the darkness.

“Who are you?” The voice seemed distant and far away. Am I the one lost in the dark? Is he calling to me? Or is he shouting for me and I can’t hear it? She clenched her fists, “Where are you!?” Just say your name… and I will find you...

“Minako…. Hurry, find me… Minako…”

This has happened before...

In the darkness, he calls me. In daylight, he is unseen. In the darkness, his voice haunts my dreams. In daylight, he fades into my memory. A quiet and sad whisper. A man who is always and yet never there. Awake and half asleep. Broken. Incomplete.

She opened her eyes. Darkness turns to daylight.

She pulled the covers from her chin and let them unfurl into a cascade of fabric as they fell to the bed. She stood from the bed and reached toward the short dresser before standing in front of the window and pulling the blinds open. As she stared across the campus, she slid a small gold ring down her right hand ring finger and then rose the back of her hand up to her eyes.

Something important from a very long time ago… The immovable power of fate pulls me to the voice in my dreams. Are we only star-crossed lovers who are born again and again to live out a cruel fate? Is that why I hear your voice but can never respond? Is that why I can never see you? How much longer will you look for me in my dreams before you give up? Are you looking for me in the real world too?

“Minako… Find me…”

She shut her eyes. If you would only reach out your hand, I swear I would grab it.

She let out a laugh and shook her head. “I can’t keep thinking about this. I need to pack before class.”

A muffled groan rose from the top bunk. She covered her mouth and tiptoed to the closet between the window and the bunk bed. She slid open the door to the closet and stared into it. What do I need to bring back to New York? She flipped the clothing across the closet rod. Only Renee would beg me to come back to New York early for her birthday for a concert… She shook her head. She’s normally so sensible, but those boys change her priorities so much. Wouldn’t she prefer I go to class? And if it wasn’t her birthday, would she visit me? She lowered her head. Renee is always a secret homebody. Or at least after that day she went missing…

“Minako!” she sprinted up to her in the hallway past endless lockers and classroom doors, the ruffles of her pink skirt flowing behind her. “Did you bring your letters?”

Minako held up a couple envelopes. “My mom is mad you made me save them for you.”

“But doesn’t she know your first choice? It’s exactly the same as opening them with her!”

“Wherever you go?” Minako laughed. “Not that I think we got into any of the same schools. Also it’s not exactly the same...”

Renee snatched Minako’s envelopes from her hand. “Of course we will. We applied to all the same places.” She flipped through the envelopes. “What is this? University of Connecticut? University of Maryland? University of Virginia? Ohio State? I didn’t apply to any of these places…”

“They’re all close… They’re still in the northeast…”

“Mid Atlantic.”

“What?”

“And the Great Lakes.”

“What?”

“They’re not all northeastern. Some of them are in the Mid Atlantic and Great Lakes regions.” She frowned. “Your geography is abysmal.”

“Who really knows that much about US regions anyway? Besides, there’s a train.”

Renee looked up from the envelopes and into Minako’s eyes. “What?”

Minako nodded. “No matter what, there’s a train close by.” She eyed one of Renee’s envelopes and pulled it from the stack. “Unless you were planning on going to Stanford without me? There’s probably still a train, but not an easy one.”

Renee shook her head. “I just applied to similar types of schools. I don’t want to go to Stanford.”

“Well of course not.” Minako handed her back the envelope. “You always wanted to go to Harvard.”

Renee pursed her lips. “No… Not anymore… I want to stay close by… The idea of going far away hurts my heart. What if I can’t come back?”

“Of course your mom will let you come back whenever you want.” Minako eyed her incredulously. “Especially from Boston. It’s not that far!”


Minako frowned. What had been in Renee’s eyes? Heartbreak? Worry? Or was it fear? Is it that Renee is afraid to leave New York?

Minako shook her head and mumbled to herself. “Of course not, why would she leave when they’re having a concert around her eighteenth birthday?”

This was the furthest we have been apart and the longest we have ever been apart. I used to think that we should always be together… But here we are four hours apart all the time... When did we start running apart? Was it during our senior year? Before that? After? It feels like maybe we’ve been apart for longer...

“Stay with me…”

She gripped the dress she had been moving and stepped back. I’m thinking about you, Renee, but that’s not your voice… “Renee…” Should I have stayed with you? Maybe, but… That’s not you… That’s the voice from my dream… He’s never told me to stay… He’s never responded to me at all… But hearing that makes me feel… sad… and guilty... She shook her head. I can’t keep thinking about this. I’ll see you soon… And then we can stop running apart for at least a little while.

~*~

“Minako! Minako! Find me, Minako!”

Why do I need to be found? If I keep pushing away the darkness, will you run through it?

“Minako! Hurry, find me! Minako!” he pawed his clawed hands through the darkness.

Why won’t you find me? No matter how loudly I call you...

Always calling in the darkness. Always silent in the daylight. Heart wrenching sadness in the darkness. Serene smiles in the daylight. A loud and desperate shout. Always searching and never finding. Awake and half asleep. Broken. Incomplete.

He startled awake in the gray and black monochromatic room, rolled off a gray couch, and fell onto a black carpet covering the concrete floor. Darkness turns to daylight.

He put one hand to his head and the other on the ground. Twice… I’ve never had that dream twice in one day… Why do I keep calling you… Minako… Who are you? Are you… close by? Am I dreaming of you because I’m about to see you? Will I finally meet you? Will you finally answer me? If you will… I will never let you go…

“Nick?” A blond head peered into the room and pulled back the black curtain, then stared at Nick on the floor next to the couch. There was one other gray couch in the makeshift room created by black curtains and temporary partitions, but otherwise, it was fairly sparse.

Nick groaned and sat up, his sweatshirt strings dangling against his chest. “Brian… I…”

Brian sat on the couch above Nick and put the back of his hand against his forehead. “Are you sick?”

“No… That dream again…”

Brian frowned and crossed his arms against his gray tee shirt. “Are you okay?”

Nick put his head in his hands. “Why twice? I’ve never had it twice in one day… Should I be doing something?”

Brian laughed. “Instead of sleeping? Getting ready for soundcheck?” He shrugged, “About the dream… What do you want to do?”

Nick groaned and leaned his head against his bare knees as his gym shorts fell around his thighs. “Kevin keeps suggesting I talk to someone… Other than all of you… But it just makes me sound crazy and I…”

Brian put his hand on his shoulder. “We’re all just worried about you. So if there’s something or someone who can make you feel better about things, then we want that for you.” He smiled gently.

Someone who can… If you answered me… Then maybe…

“Nick?”

Nick leaned back and returned Brian’s gaze before shaking his head, “I don’t know… Just thinking…” He lowered his head and stared at his knees. “What if it’s a real person… And I need to talk to them…” He gripped his knees. “I know that sounds craziest of all, but… Why do I keep calling them in my dreams? Unless I need to meet them...”

Brian leaned down and pulled Nick into a hug. “But how would you even find them?” He shook his head. “And what would you do if you did?”

Nick leaned on Brian’s shoulder and reciprocated the hug. I always say I will never let you go… Can I do that? What if you don’t want me to find you? Stay… Is that what I want you to do? I’ve never asked that, but...

As Brian’s pocket vibrated, Brian and Nick jumped out of each other’s arms. Brian pulled his phone out of his jeans and shook it in Nick’s face. “Soundcheck.”

Nick rolled his eyes. “If Kevin put that alarm in your phone…”

Brian laughed. “No, I did. I’m surprised you didn’t if you were napping.”

Nick shrugged. “One of you would have found me here.” He gestured to Brian, “Obviously.”

Brian wrapped an arm around Nick’s shoulder and rubbed his fist in Nick’s hair. “Come on, let’s go.”

Nick shook his head. “Yeah, yeah, let’s go…”

They both stood and pushed aside the black curtain that made up the door of the makeshift room.

~*~

“Minako… Minako… Find me, Minako…”

“Who are you? Where are you!?” If I push away the darkness, will you run out of it? Can I reach your voice if I try to run toward you?

“Minako…. Hurry, find me… Minako…”

Why can’t you hear me? No matter how loud I scream, you never answer me...

In the darkness, he calls me. In daylight, he is unseen. In the darkness, his voice haunts my dreams. In daylight, he fades into my memory. A quiet and sad whisper. A man who is always and yet never there. Awake and half asleep. Broken. Incomplete.

She opened her eyes. Darkness turns to daylight.

A voice crackled over the speaker. “Next stop, Pennsylvania Station.”

Minako rubbed her eyes as she stared out the window at the scenery speeding by in a blur. She shuffled in her seat until she was sitting upright and gripped her backpack closely. I am excited to see you Renee, but I keep having that dream… This is the only time I’ve had it twice in the same day. Are you out there? Does the voice that’s been calling me really exist? Will I meet you soon? Will I see your face? Do you want to meet me? If you reach out, I swear I will grab your hand…

She leaned her head on the window. You keep telling me that dreams are weird, Renee, that I should ignore it… But you also keep talking about reincarnation and past lovers like it’s something I should remember… She put her hand to her head. Should I recognize this voice? It feels familiar...

There was that time at our high school… That stranger with the necklace… That was when the dreams started being nightly… Was that stranger the voice? I think in the beginning, I must have seen your face... I must have known it… but it’s been so long I only remember your voice… What did you look like before you disappeared into the dark? How did I know you? What were we? Would you really know me now if we met?

The train came to a stop and Minako stood. She put her backpack over her shoulders as she exited the train quickly, then rushed with the crowd to the escalators. I don’t… miss this… The bustle, the frantic pace everyone moves to get where they’re going. The way you feel like a speck in the big world, just getting pushed along by the wind and the sea of people… Rising and falling… Endless… So small...

She pushed open the doors and stared up at Madison Square Garden. I… miss this… The bright lights sparkling, the aura of the city. The way you feel like a speck in the big world, just surrounded… Twinkling and buzzing… Constant… So small…

“Minako!”

She whirled around to face a waving blonde woman with her bangs pulled back with bobby pins wearing a Backstreet Boys shirt.

Minako ran toward her and wrapped her in a tight hug. “Renee! I missed you!”

Renee pulled back and placed her hands on her shoulders, studying Minako’s face. “You look… the same, good.” She laughed. “I was worried you would cut your hair or start wearing cargo shorts.”

Minako looked down at her navy shorts as she fiddled with her hair. “No?”

Renee pulled her back into a hug. “How’s Maryland since I last asked?”

Minako smiled. “Fun! Quieter… But it’s fun. Classes are going well too. Same question, but Columbia?”

Renee smiled. “Good, the classes are fun and I get to see my family a lot.”

Minako pulled back. “And friends too?”

Renee nodded. “Yes, I see people besides family and outside of class.”

Minako wrapped her in a hug again. “Good. Happy birthday!”

Renee bounced on her toes. “I am so, so excited! Thank you for coming up to go with me!”

“I would never miss your birthday even if you're more excited about the Backstreet Boys than me.”

Renee shook her head. “So jealous.”

Minako laughed. “I’m not the jealous one!”

Renee motioned to the hotel across the street. “Did you want to change? You said you were wearing a dress... I already checked in.”

Minako nodded. “I did! Because of the train… And then we can go get dinner! Where should we go? What do you want?”

Renee laughed. “You would focus on the dinner aspect of it all.”

Minako smiled. “It’s your birthday, anything you want, but you have to eat!”

“Okay, but we only have an hour for dinner so you have to change quickly!”

“Always so demanding, Renee…”

“I am not!”

The two girls laughed as they crossed the street and entered the hotel.

A shadowed face peered at them from around a darkened corner of the building. “Found you, priestesses…”


This story archived at http://absolutechaos.net/viewstory.php?sid=11583