With a furious shout, the senior crumbled to the ground, a heaping pile of battered skin. It was the seventh guy taken down, and he hadn't even broken a sweat.

"Why you little dick!"

"Watch your words, kind sir." He scolded with two quick jabs to the rib, and then finished off with an elbow to the nape. "I don't appreciate insults!"

Blood gushed out the ruffian's mouth as the vigorous young man destroyed but another slight threat. Strands of his short brown locks danced with the afternoon breeze. Almond eyes locked on his prey, his slender brows rising with focus.

"Coo! Eight taken as trophies. Man, you guys sure you're teens? I feel guilty coz I feel like I'm mutilating babies." Ryou howled with jeer as he shifted his stance.

A new challenger entered the fray. A lean hellion wielding a bokken. Finally, maybe he can prove interesting. "Outta my way! This second year's mine!!"

"Megura! Yeah! Rip him a new ass!" the unruly crowd cheered. "Show'em that no one messes with Holy Forest Academy!"

Holy Forest?! He heard such good things about that school. But how come *this* was what greeted him?

"Jackass." the brute's defensive pattern was weak. Who the hell strikes downward with his legs even apart? It was nothing but easy pickings for a kid who had great knowledge in Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai and Krav Maga. "Here, then! Swallow this!"

With a quick sweep, the student was easily thrown off balance. Struggling to stand up straight, Kurokiba saw it as his chance to deliver his final blow. With only a split second to take flight, he used his downfall's momentum to empower his mid-air roundhouse kick to the chest. But to his surprise, the behemoth still stood after his attack. Hmph. Not for long, that is.

"Tough one, huh?" the sophomore jock smirked as he rushed his defenseless quarry. A flurry of punches and kicks tore apart Megura's meager attempt to block. With the beast worn down, he could finally subdue him. The best chance to place that elbow to the back of the head. "Try this!"

This Ryou kid was something else. He had unmatched speed and raw power, but even the spectators could tell that he was holding back. He had all the chances to deliver potential killshots to teach all forms of thugs a lesson, but strangely, this second year boy would go for incapacitation, even if it would a prove difficult task.

Their champion's thud roared like thunder, clawing its way to deep their hearts, making way for fear to follow. With a dark gleam in his eyes, the rest of the challengers backed out like scattered geese. New fools to bear witness to this kid's wild skill.

"Hmph. Cowards, that's what they all are."

It was an ordinary scene every afternoon during school days. Big kids liked picking on the smaller ones. It may have been cliché to rough up some lower year's lunch money, but it really does happen. Just because someone was weak didn't mean they were free to be stripped of all dignity like a carcass to vultures. Everyday he had to stomach seeing the graduating class bully his friends. Because they had no fighting experience didn't mean that the seniors had the right to strangle them. Such thoughts caused his blood to boil. He started walking back to school to pick his stuff up. He'd been fighting for two hours straight, and the school bell had finally rung.

Amidst the pile of defeated students, there was still one persistent fellow who didn't know when to quit.

"You… little bitch! You belong with… those freshmen… pussies!"

"So what if I do? Got a problem with that?"

"Grr…" the bashed high-school student clutched his side. "I'd gladly skin you along with those minks!"

There was a difference between threats and crossing lines. That was crossing a line.

Reflex and anger sprang towards the bully's face in the form of a kick. Ryou couldn't help but pant restlessly. "You ignorant prick…" he growled, grabbing his opponent by the collar. "Those were kids younger than you are! They look up to you. And how the fuck do you respond? You treat them like trash!" Ryou's steely gaze backed the ruffian down even further. "Enough. You will no longer pester those kids…"

**

"Not again!" his instructor bashed him with a paper fan. "This is the thirtieth time! I repeat, the THIRTIETH time you've been to my office this week!"

"Sorry, teach. I just couldn't hold myself back."

"That's weaker than you're previous excuse!" the elderly professor hit him with the fan one more time.

"Ow! God damn it, you old fool! I'm getting tired of your corporal punishment! Don't wait 'til I call in the authorities!"

"Silence!" The solid crunch of thick card went as another strike found its way to his skull. "I'm serious, child. This is no joking matter!"

"I understand that, sir. But what I don't understand is your fondness of trying to give me hemorrhage." Ryou shrugged as he fastened himself.

"Look, I know it's not easy seeing other kids be-"

"Sir, with all due respect," the sophomore cut his elder short. "But you really needn't wander into that territory."

"I'm just saying…" the old man put his hand on the youth's shoulder. "That you should learn to control your emotions. Let them go."

The sudden shift to softness would've triggered him to laugh, but the wisdom in his superior's words rang so true that all traces of humor in him vaporized.

"I'll try, sir." He could only nod. "I'll try."

"Good." His teacher's smile was reassuring. Until it lasted, that is. "Now clean my workspace!"

"What?!"

"Either you clean or you get suspended for a week!"

"I see…" Kurokiba scratched his chin in contemplation.

**

"Damn, I can't believe I actually chose to take seven days off!" Ryou chuckled to himself as he started for home. Specks of blood and dirt grimed some of his uniform. His knuckles were swollen and bruised after delivering quite a beating. He was more surprised with the day's results, mostly because he didn't even suffer one hit.

As he was about to cross, another highschool student, obviously a first year, tugged at him.

"Thanks for saving me a while back, sempai!" the boy bowed his head in gratitude.

"Don't sweat it. I'm your superior, so I should make sure you guys are safe." Ryou could only smile back.

"Anyhow, thanks again, sir!" the cheery young lad handed him a small bag. "I was gonna eat it, but I figured you should have it."

"Aww, c'mon you don't have to do any—hey, a muffin!"

"Haha! I'm glad you like'em, sir!"

"Gee, thanks for the pastry! And no need for the honorifics! You can call me Ryou!" he started jogging to catch the bus that had recently stopped by.

"Ryou…" they freshman smiled. "Got it…!"