It's about time for the next round of the tournament to start. The clock that the announcer has been watching finally changes, and his voice rings out through the noisy arena. "I'm sure many of you have been waiting for this duel!" he suddenly says, his voice magnified many times to make it audible through the entire large arena. "Today we have two samurai that are waiting to face off!" There's a pause in his speech as he motions to the door the two deuses should come from. "From the west, we have Higashiyama... Seishiro!" Applause and cheers momentarily reach a level where they drown out even the announcer's voice. The announcer then waits for the first deus to be seated before continuing. "And from the east, Sakamoto... Kyousuke!" More applause rains down... until confusion breaks out. Even though his name has been called out, Kyousuke has not stepped out of the waiting room. The announcer blinks and puts a hand in between his microphone and mouth. "Ano... Higashiyama-senshu, where is Sakamoto-senshu?"

The waiting room again. This was the third time now. Sitting by himself, Jou resting in his lap, Seishiro sighs. He had really been hoping to meet Kyousuke-kun here before the match and wish him good luck. They were friends, after all, and would be the proper thing to do. But Kyousuke wasn't here yet. Odd, but what can you do? The announcer was about to call their names, so surely the other boy would be here any minute. He wouldn't want to be late for this match.

Reassuring himself that Kyousuke will be there, he smiles softly down at Jou. "Ganbare yo, Jou," he mutters. This match had him more excited than any other so far. Dueling with Kyousuke was always fun, because they shared an enthusiasm for drama and samurai stories that let them really get into it. But there was the announcement! No more time for contemplation!

Taking a deep breath, Seishiro steps out into the bright light of the arena, squinting for a moment until his eyes adjust. And then he stalks confidently towards the Deus chair that he's been designated to, smiling up at the crowd. He's not nervous this time, his hands aren't shaking. He's jsut happy to be here. But the announcer throws him off slightly with the question, just as he's settling into the seat. "I, um... I don't know." he replies, not quite shouting but loud enough to be heard. "He wasn't in the waiting room. But I'm sure he'll be here any second now! He wouldn't want to miss this opportunity!"

The announcer looks a little impatient, and it isn't long before the audience joins him, the atmosphere in the arena changing. It seems many people are impatient, and want the match to start already. "Well, if he doesn't show up soon, he'll be disqualified, and you'll be automatically declared the winner," the announcer says, then fixes his eyes on the clock he had been watching before. Fortunately, this isn't the sort of thing that causes riots, so the audience just sticks with being annoyed at Kyousuke's apparent rudeness. The clock continues ticking... and still no Kyousuke. At this rate, it looks like the boy won't make it."Disqualified? Oh..." Seishiro's shoulders sag a little, and he stares at the visor in his hands for a moment before putting it on. Winner by default, hmm? That's not a victory he wants. It wouldn't be satisfying at all. And he's really been looking forward to this Duel. /Please, Kyousuke. Wherever you are, hurry up!/ He focuses on the words, staring at the door to the waiting room, as if his opponent, his friend, will somehow hear them and make greater haste to arrive. Seishiro is usually a very patient person, but in this case he doesn't have the leisure.

The minutes pass agonizingly slowly until it's already been five minutes past the time the match was supposed to start. Still, Kyousuke hasn't shown up. Finally, the announcer shakes his head and removes his hand from in between the microphone piece and his mouth. "Because his opponent has failed to show up, the winner is-!"

"Wait!" a voice calls out from the waiting room, interrupting the announcer right before he declares Seishiro the winner. Strolling out from it is a boy, standing at around 150 centimeters, wearing a kendo uniform and a large sedge hat. The hate is worn in a way that it prevents most of the cameras from seeing his face, but it's obvious that this is Sakamoto Kyousuke, who is walking in at a slow pace, almost as if he wasn't late. He takes off the large brimmed hat, proving everyone's suspicions as true, and says "Sakamoto Kyousuke has arrived!

Oh thank goodness! Seishiro sighs in relief and beams at the late arrival. He had really been worried there for a minute, but he knew Kyousuke wouldn't miss their match. "What kept you so long?" he asks with a laugh as his friend approaches, propping his chin on his fist for effect. "We almost thought you weren't coming, and that would have been a real shame." But now they can get the match underway. This is going to be so much fun!

Kyousuke grins up at Seishiro. "Oh, I was just doin' stuff," he replies with a chuckle. "Had to change and grab the hat y'know." And he had been doing that... sorta. Sure, it wasn't the main reason he was late, that had been done earlier on. Of course, he wonders if his fellow kendoist realized the main reason he had been late. Most likely he did, after all, he developed that Tsubame Gaeshi technique, so he had to know about Musashi's fight with Sasaki Kojiro. Anyway, now that he's arrived, the samurai obsessed boy makes his way over to his seat.

The announcer, now happier that the second deus has arrived, announces him again. "From the east, Sakamoto... Kyousuke!" There are less cheers than there had been last time, but that's to be expected. After all, he had shown up late and made thousands of people wait. "Entry Angel!"

Seishiro just shakes his head at his opponent's excuse as the chairs raise them high up over the Layer. He really should have expected that from Kyousuke-kun. The shimmering white surface of the Layer ripples and distorts as the scenery for their Duel rises out of it, and Seishiro can't help but laugh. "My, how appropriate!" he says alloud, staring down at the village that has appeared. There couldn't have been a better scenery for this match-up. But this is no longer the time for levity. It's time to fight.

Taking a deep breath, the Deus in black and red calms himself, all expression melting from his face until he may as well be wearing a mask. But his eyes still sparkle with enthusiasm. The tiny samurai that rests in his lap is lifted high into the air, and his Deus takes a deep breath. Here goes. "Honor guide thy sword," he recites the familiar phrase, more dramatically than ever if that's possible, "and thy spirit be indominable! JOU!" He flings an arm out to pitch the Angel towards the Layer, the battleground.

Jou pierces the interface with the characteristic white flash, spinning and tumbling through the air. His sandal-clad feet hit the dirt road with a solid thump, kicking up dust around him, and he unfurl the long ribbon that binds his sword. This time, however, he doesn't assume his typical stance. Instead he simply stands there, in the middle of the road, hand on the saya of his nodachi, and waits. He know's what's coming, and he's well-prepared.

Kyousuke chuckles as his chair rises up, then reaches into the baggy sleeves of his kendo gi and pulls Kensei out. As usual, he makes his fallin without saying anything, and he's not able to think of anything appropriate to say anyway. With a simple toss the other samurai enters the layer, then lands on the main road of the village. "Sure is," he says with a large grin. There have been some changes made to Kensei since the two last fought. Mainly, it seems that the two wooden blades at his waist are now replaced with metal ones. But that's not what Seishiro's main focus should be on. In Kensei's hand is a long pole that looks to have been carved out of an oar of a model boat. It was made to just be a little longer than Jou's nodachi. The samurai then walks up to the other samurai and bows, not bothering with a bow to his deus this time. "We meet again," he says, his face still as stoic as ever.

The announcer watches the two angels fall in, the layer randomizing and landing on the samurai village background. "This background is indeed appropriate!" he shouts out, mirroring the thoughts of everyone watching. "The two warriors, Jou and Kensei are fighting on the samurai village layer! Which of them will come out victorious? ANGELIC FIGHTO!"

Speaking of Kyousuke being a fellow samurai nerd... At sight of the immense improvised bokken, Seishiro's smooth mask is broken for a moment by a smirk. So Kyousuke-kun has gotten into character then, has he? Might as well play along.

Usually Jou is the strong silent type, even though the Layer technology allows Angel's to speak. But this an exception. The warrior scowls at his opponent, and takes a challenging step forward. "You've kept me waiting, Miyamoto," he growls at Kensei. "I grow tired of always waiting. But this is the last time! You've delayed your defeat long enough, and we end this today! Draw your sword, I won't have you disgrace me by coming to battle with a laundry pole."

Kensei's white aura springs forward so early on in the match. "Have I?" he asks calmly, then shifts his oar into his hands into a two handed grip. "I doubt it will be my defeat today Kojiro." This warrior is usually of the same type as well. Normally Kensei isn't one to speak unless Kyousuke gets caught up in the heat of the moment. But this situation is a little different. With the pole raised over his head he dashes in, then brings the wooden pole down with earth shattering force. Whether it hits or not is of little consequence, but it should shake Jou up a little.

To use such a powerful attack right away, while it may seem foolish, would catch most people off-guard for exactly that reason. But Jou is never off-guard. The pole slams into the ground where Jou had been with a mighty crack, sending up a cloud of dust. The warrior charges in along the length of it, hand darting to the hilt of his nodachi. If they truly were Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Koojiro, he would have been goaded into a reckless first attack, but it is not so this time. The blade flashes out of its saya just as Jou breaks his stride to step off to one side, and he strikes out at Kensei's hands. Even if Kensei manages to dodge, maybe he can at least sever that pole and force the other warrior to use his swords.

Kensei sees the nodachi flash out of its saya, and instead of sacrificing his makeshift weapon, he steps into the blow and catches the nodachi with his body, grunting slightly as it impacts against him. The whole time his aura hasn't faded from his body though. It seems that the samurai has had enough practice to maintain it, even if it does fade a little for a moment. Still, the fading doesn't last very long, and it immediately flares back as Kensei makes a short retreat, raising his pole to his side in the same movement. The aura gathers into his makeshift blade, which is then swiped in a horizontal arc, causing the light to fly off and rocket towards Jou.

Remember, kids, just because you're on your guard doesn't neccesarily mean you're prepared to deal with what's coming your way. Jou had to stretch to be able to avoid that first blow, and there's no way he can do this same for this one. If it were a normal attack he'd be perfectly capable of blocking it, but this isn't something you can deflect with a sword.

The blast of white chi takes Jou full in the chest, forcing him backwards. His feet leave tracks in the dirt and dust as he slides back. refusing to be knocked down. Immediately he rushes back in. The one thing he's not prepared to do is be shown up by the other Angel. Taking his nodachi in both hands, he lunges in low and slashes upwards, aiming to cleave Kensei from hip to shoulder.

Kensei is defiant as Jou charges in and slashes upwards. With the slightest movement, he shifts the bottom part of his pole down, letting the nodachi impact with it. Instead of metal, it's wood that strikes Kensei's hip. "Kore wa owari ya," he says, reflecting his deus' Kansai accent. A red aura now springs up around the samurai and an almost insane look of anger is in his eyes. Who can blame him? He just took 2 hits... even if he had let the other samurai get them in. His carved oar is raised above his head and the red aura is channeled into it. Then its brought downwards in an arc heading for Jou's head. Chances are, because of the length of his wooden pole, he probably won't be able to get out of the way of the attack.

And it's over. Just like that. There's... there's really nothing Jou can do about it. He raises his sword against it, blade braced against palm, but the overwhelming force behind that pole blows away his defense like nothing. As Seishiro looks on in horror, the makeshift weapon crashes against the samurai's helmet, cracking it, and sends him tumbling to the ground. The few short moments it takes seem to stretch and distend, his Angel slowly crumpling into the dust. Then it all comes crashing back in; the whirling lights, the noise of the crowd, and the buzzer signaling the end of the match. Game Over.

Seishiro just stares at the Layer, stunned. How can it be over so fast? They'd only just started! But there was no denying it, Jou had been knocked out. "...that's it?" he finally manages, his tone incredulous.

The announcer is silent. "It's over!" he calls out. "The late arrival, Sakamoto Kyousuke has defeated Higashiyama Seishiro in an amazing show of speed and force, coming back from a near disqualification loss!" Even the people that had been silent and disgruntled before, when Kyousuke walked in late, are now cheering.

Kyousuke is a little surprised on his end too. Sure, he had declared that that would be the end, but he didn't actually expect it to end there. Well, that's what he gets for chaining his most damaging 3 attacks together. It seems he made up for being late by ending this match within 3 consecutive attacks. The chairs lower and the boy goes over to Seishiro and offers a bow. "It was a good match," he says with a large grin.

"I, uh..." Seishiro stammers in response, standing up out of the chair. He quickly regains his smile, though he still looks slightly bewildered. "Heh, yeah. Better for some of us." The bow is returned, and then the older boy steps forward and hugs Kyousuke briefly. "Congratulations, Kyousuke-kun. That was an amazing victory. It might even make up for losing to Miina-chan," he adds, laughing, and walks over to the Layer to scoop up Jou and examine him.

"Aww, his helmet's cracked. I'll probably have to make a new one. I know it was historically accurate, Kyousuke-kun, but did you have to hit him /that hard/?"

Kyousuke chuckles. "Might even make up for my first loss too," he says. He shrugs to the next question. "Uh... guess I didn't have to," he says. "But I kinda lost control at the end for that last head strike." The boy rubs the back of his head embarrassedly. "And well, I also kinda didn't expect the carved oar to stand up that well. He reaches into the layer and pulls out Kensei. "And... it looks like it didn't survive it all that well." Taking a look at it reveals that the pole had cracked and was bent upwards. "Probably a good thing that happened, or it mighta hurt even worse."

Seishiro nods knowingly at Kyousuke's commentary, clutching Jou protectively to his chest. "I understand how that can be. Sometimes I feel like Jou is only taking suggestions from me. Especially near the end of a duel, when his lifebar is low." He pauses a moment to smile and wave at the crowd, then nods Kyousuke towards the door before heading that way himself. "I have to say, that was the shortest Duel I've ever had. I even thought for a minute there that I might win."

Kyousuke grins. "I'm sure you'll be able t' beat me the next time we duel," he says. "I just managed to get lucky this time 's all. Sometimes its hard for Kensei to build up the energy needed to do those three attacks individually, not to mention doing those 3 in a row like that. In fact, I couldn't even get him to build up energy for the last attack I did on ya in my match against Miina-han. Not enough emotion for it I guess. I had to feel more desperate for it, an' Kensei wasn't dodgin' like normal today."

As they reach the door back to the waiting room, Seishiro stops to look back over his shoulder at the crowd one more time. It really is a great feeling being out there, putting on a show for everyone. Even though he's not all that great at Angelic Layer... Maybe he should consider a career in performance? Nah. He'd get too nervous out there all the time, baking suits him much better.

"Miina-chan can be a real challenge," he replies a little belatedly, stepping through the door. "I've only beat her once. She learns really fast, and she's really in tune with Usagi-tan. I have to admit I'm a little envious of her talent."

Kyousuke pats his friend on the back at that last comment. "At least ya managed to beat her," he says. "I'm still working on that for now. "I think I'm gettin' closer though. I just need to work on it a bit more." The two enter the waiting room. "'Sides, you're plenty good at Kendo right? That should be good enough I think."

Seishiro laughs, brushing his hair back from his face. "I wouldn't go that far. I'm... /capable/ at Kendo. Certainly not the best in Club. I have to work a little harder at it than other people do to maintain the same level of ability. I just don't have much of a natural talent for it. I'm much more apt in artistic pursuits, like painting and cooking. Speaking of which," he looks down and pats his stomach, "I'm hungry. Wanna go grab lunch with me? My treat."

Kyousuke shakes his head. "Ah, don't put yourself down like that," he says. "I mean, I'm not all that much better than anyone else in the club, and I train on weekend mornings too." He considers the offer and nods. There should be a little more time before a match one of his friends is in comes up. "Sure, I can go for something." Of course, the boy will likely get something small, as to not use too much of Seishiro's money, but he accepts the offer.