A/N: I don't know why, I just felt the urge. This month is the anniversary of my first ever fic on this site, Time is Everything. So in the end, this is only fitting. To all the people who read, reviewed and criticised it (mk1 as you all know it now), this is for you.
Disclaimer: I only own Luke Mason. Everything else is Ken Akamatsu's.
Our Time Together
Chapter One: Here we go again…
Mahora, place of mystery and magic for those who know its true identity, a hell on earth for others, and for most an enjoyable place to spend one's youth. It is, truth be told, a beautiful place. A dream campus, with its own nature reserve, city and associated facilities. To truly enjoy the scope of the place one must climb one of the peaks in the wilderness, preferably before dawn. This allowed the sunrise to illuminate the vista, making it appear like an artist's masterpiece.
It was a view Kaede Nagase fully appreciated as she breathed in the morning air, moving slowly and gracefully through a routine of morning stretches to prepare her for the day to come. She often came to these heights during her hikes and outings, enjoying the peacefulness of nature which now surrounded her. And the view was definitively an added bonus. It was almost romantic. The ninja smiled at the thought. She doubted her classmates would ever believe the notion of her having thoughts of romance. To them, she was a dedicated kunoichi, focusing on her training and little else. To be honest, that was partially true. She was the Blue Baka ranger after all, never truly having engaged with her academic studies as much as with her training.
She finished her stretches and smiled softly as the sun rose above the horizon, heralding a new day. In the end, 3A was right. She never really thought about romance or relationships. Her life didn't leave a lot of time or opportunity for such matters. When it came to members of the opposite sex, the only person she encountered on a regular basis who was anywhere near her age was her little teacher. Whilst she did agree to the consensus that he was cute, she never displayed any outward affection towards him. And why should she? He was only ten after all. But there was no doubt in her mind that he would one day grow into a fine man, one whom she knew she could fall for. Yet that was some time off, and his feelings were evident for all to see. He and Nodoka made a fine couple, everyone could see that.
But Kaede wasn't jealous. She simply accepted it like everything in her life. Why worry about it? She didn't have any feelings for him and he for her, end of story. Yet as she picked up her bag she couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to have a proper relationship. It couldn't be any harder than the demon hunting she did for a job, or the hikes she did for fun. Then again, she supposed she couldn't judge, seeing as her experience in matters of the heart wasn't exactly top notch. The ninja just shrugged and began to descend from the mountain, smiling all the time. She couldn't do anything about it, so why worry?
What she could do, was get back to her dorm and get ready for class. The girl began to hum to herself quietly as she picked up her pace and flowed amongst the morning shadows towards what has been her home for the past couple of years.
Mahora, a place where people grew and learned new things. About life, about themselves. Such was its value to Negi Springfield. Having spent almost a year there already, he knew a lot more about himself and his place in the world. He was a mage; he was expected to aid those in need and to protect those who required protection.
He was a teacher, and had a duty to keep those he was responsible for away from danger and ensure their education progressed efficiently. And as a gentleman, he was bound to keep his promises, to find his father, to excel in his tasks, to uphold the Springfield name.
So far it seemed to be turning out pretty well. His studies of magic continued, as did his knowledge of other aspects of life. Being the object of about thirty girls' affections probably had something to do with that. The fact a couple weren't human, or were far from ordinary also accelerated his curriculum. In the end, it all made him stronger, he could feel that. He knew it. His recent battles were proof of that. Kyoto, the Wilhelm incident, they all showed him becoming stronger. Stronger in the name of his father.
Not that it was easy growing stronger, as his aching muscles proved. He was currently staring straight at the sky, flat on his back in the middle of the World Tree Plaza. He blinked, trying to lose the twirling feeling in his head as someone loomed over him, a sheepish smile on their face.
"Sorry Negi-bozu," apologized Ku Fei, his student and teacher in her heavily accented Japanese. She leaned down and helped him to his feet, smiling nervously.
"It's ok Master Ku," replied Negi, bowing slightly in the proper manner. "I am thankful you are not taking it easy on me," he added with a smile to reassure the girl. All it did of course was make her fumble for words before turning away embarrassed. Negi was taken aback for a second before Asuna's hand fell on his shoulder.
"Alright Negi-kun, it's time to go, we're gonna be late at this rate," nodded his roommate slightly, her bell-like hair decorations chiming as she did so. Her breathing was also irregular, having finished a sparring session with Setsuna a short while before.
"Indeed. Lessons begin in about two hours. We should hurry back and change," advised the half demon.
The ten year old boy nodded in agreement and turned back to the Chinese girl, clasping his hands together as he bowed lower than before. "Thank you for today, Master," he said sincerely. Ku Fei turned to look at him with her usual cheerful face and nodded. "But we best be going now," he added.
"I also," replied the yellow Baka ranger, walking past him, heading back to the dorms. "We can no be late, right?"
"Of course," smiled the young professor, going after her with Asuna and Setsuna in tow.
Stepping outside, the youth glanced at his watch and smiled. He was on time, for once. It made a nice change. He pocketed the time piece and walked down the stone steps into Mahora campus, relishing this moment. After what seemed like a year, but in truth was…well, he had no idea how long but it was definitively a long time, he was back where he belonged.
The day seemed to share his joy, being an idyllic one. The sun was bright, the air fresh and not a cloud was in the sky. It may not have been quiet and peaceful, but then again what city was? In the end he did not care. This was his home, and he loved every part of it, from the hustling crowds, to the chirping birds, to the blaring horn of a car coming his way…No, wait a minute…
"JESUS!" he swore in panic, hurling himself forward out of the path of the vehicle and onto the sidewalk. He banged his knee hard on the stone surface, but it was far preferable to being reduced to a smear on the road. There was a screech of tires and the smell of burnt rubber filled his nostrils. The blonde boy glanced back at the vehicle, a dodge viper, and noted with slight detachment that it wouldn't be much of a shameful death to be struck by one of those. He'd die, true, but what a way to go!
Of course, that train of thought was brought to a crashing halt when the driver stepped out and walked over to him, his face a blank mask.
"Are you alright?" asked the man, kneeling down to his level. The youth exhaled in relief when he recognized the grizzled face, complete with glasses and a cigarette.
"Yes Sir. Sorry about that…" he replied, picking himself up from the floor and dusting himself off. "My fault for standing in the road like that."
The man stood up and nodded gravely. "You should be more careful from now on."
The blonde nodded enthusiastically. "Oh, I sure will Takahata-sensei!"
The teacher's mouth quirked upwards at the youth's jubilant mood, despite his brief brush with death. "I haven't seen you in any of my classes. Are you new here then?" he suddenly said, looking closely at the boy in front of him.
"Ah…er, well, that is…" stammered the teen, caught off guard by the sudden change in topic.
"Ah, I understand," said the elder man, giving him a friendly pat on the shoulder. "I was a bit of a delinquent once myself, but you shouldn't skip classes, ok?"
"Erm…ok…" replied the blonde in slight confusion.
"Good, now run back to class," smiled Takahata, taking a pull on his cigarette as he turned around and headed back to his car.
"Yes sir…" murmured the boy.
"Oh, and what is your name? I'm afraid I don't recognize you," called Takahata over his shoulder.
The blonde teen cracked a smile as if the teacher had just told a brilliant joke. "I'd be surprised if anyone did sir. My name is Luke Mason."