So, here is another story I've been writing.
Its funny how facing off against a gigantic hell-creature composed of the will of the earth itself can put your life into perspective. The earth beneath my feet trembled and quaked in sync with the beast's lumbering breaths. Around me sand stretches in every direction, far beyond the horizon exists nothing but sand. Thousands upon thousands of miles of empty space, devoid of even the simplest life. The air is warm and stale and a shadow has fallen over me.
The lumbering beast is blocking out the sun with it's immense body.
I have always wondered how my life was going to end. Whether it was going to be in a fit of glory, or in peace surrounded by those I cared about. I never expected it would be a thankless lonely death.
However, for this I did not need thanks.
This is an accomplishment I will be happy if no one ever learns about. We are far away from civilization. Far beyond the reach of mortal eyes and those that could have seen this far have been occupied with other concerns. This creature is one I don't want anyone to know about.
Those who do know of its existence know enough not to tell anyone.
As the Sage of the Six Path remains a legend, The White Beast must never be made known to the world. I don't know how they would handle it, the knowledge that the earth itself has will, and with that will would crush humanity rather than allow it to lead to the destruction of the planet.
The earth shudders and groans as a low growl emanates from the monstrous form before me. No, it is not just the earth. The very fabric of reality is fracturing as the measure of power in such a simple gesture is released. But that's okay.
It's alright to be angry.
I'd be angry as well if my body was torn asunder and reduced into mindless demons.
But I can't let that anger go unchecked.
"I can't let you go on you know." I say casually as I meet the blood red gaze of the creature before me. "Even if I didn't care for the world. You took someone very close to my heart from me."
I paused for a moment.
"Kyuubi may have been a ugly bastard fox, but it was my ugly bastard fox."
A sound akin to tree branches cracking filled the air.
We are the same.
You're not. You aren't even in the same class as the old fox. You're a pitiful tool wielded by this husk of a planet clinging to the wistful ideology that you still belong to yourself. But that isn't the case. You belong to us. We are strong, and we exceed your will.
My soul ignites.
The will power of a thousand generations of mankind, of those gone, present and to be threatens to overwhelm me. But threats are just that, they're potential dangers. I am a potential danger to the entity before me. It knows it. It knew it before I arrived. This confrontation has been preordained since before the dawn of my civilization. The fulcrum where the Will of the Planet and the Will of Humanity meet.
"So, what do I call you? Juubi?"
We have no title.
Of course not. You don't have a will of your own, do you? You're just a puppet.
But then, That is all I am now as well.
A cool breeze flows past me, ruffling my hair and my coat. It's oddly soothing like the caress of a fondly remembered lover. It plays against my skin in a dance of absent minded joy.
"I don't suppose you're willing to just surrender, are you?"
Gravity suddenly becomes a thousand times stronger than it should be. Everything is being crushed into the earth. Even the air itself is being pulled down. Beneath me the sand compacts down and walls of sepia rise up around me. No, that isn't it. They aren't rising. I'm sinking.
This is not the planet's full will.
This is a fraction that it is able to exert.
We will not cease
That's because The White Beast isn't part of the planet. It isn't it's brother, or sister, or mother, or uncle, it isn't even it's friend. It is a creation that cannot exceed the entity that created it. It is unable to tap the full power of the planet.
And that is why It will never defeat me I hold the Will of Humanity. I am the Guardian who cannot be defeated. The White Beast may have been called into existence from humanities sins and destructive nature but it cannot surpass us.
Nothing is allowed to destroy us.
We can destroy you.
Not even our own will.
I released my hold on the Will. And the world around me ceased to exist.
No, that is not it. It has been suppressed. The Sand. The Sky. The Air. Even Time itself.
This is the World of Will.
This is where Humanity triumphs.
This is where The White Beast is defeated again.
This is where I will die.
This is not what I wanted.
This is all that I can do.
I stare into the distance.
A beautiful night stretches out in front of me. An endless darkness. It's a peaceful night. The sound of wind rustling trees branches is soothing and melodic. The moon hangs high above in the sky. It is wondrous. What a beautiful moment.
There is no pain or death, no agony that needs to be relieved, what a beautiful and tender moment. I've not had one since I had been cast from the mortal coil. A shallow breath escapes my lips. The first one. It congeals in the air as a puff of mist. I inhaled through my nose and the nostalgic scent of pine teases the senses. Beneath me a set of stone stairs flow down in a descent to the darkness below. Even with the moonlight cascading down it is hard to see beyond.
It takes me a few moments to notice, but there is a presence behind me. How odd. This place. It feels familiar. A resonance pulses out from the land beneath my feet as to answer. It thrums through my body like a livewire. I exhale again.
There is a presence behind me. It is not doing anything to hide itself. It does not move at all. I turn my head to the side.
"Are you the one who brought me into this paradise?" I ask softly. The words roll from my lips. This voice that hasn't been used in an eternity still works.
"Paradise? I would hardly call it such a thing." A feminine voice, soft, gentle not harsh from screaming or punctuated by gouts of blood spewing from wounds.
"How can you say that when you sound so beautiful?" I ask casually and turn the rest of the way.
She stands atop the stairs, under a redwood arch. Cloaked in a dark purple robe of finery. Ornaments of gold adorn her robes and a thin strip of black material fits to the nape of her neck. I can see but the barest hint of her features under her hood. The slender curve of her hips hints towards a soft thin build. Not fit by any measure, but no doubt attractive.
She doesn't react to my words, or the flow of my gaze over her body.
"I imagine anything alive would be beautiful to you, wouldn't it, Uzumaki Naruto?"
I blink in surprise before a small smile appears on my lips. "So you are the reason I was summoned?"
"I am." She answered after a pregnant moment of silence. "I am your Master in this world. I summoned you in order to do my bidding. From now on you shall not be known as Uzumaki Naruto, but Assassin. As you are a servant you should have been updated on the current situation by the Holy Grail. Do you have any questions?"
As if cued by her words a rush of information bombarded my mind.
The Holy Grail War.
An all out brawl between seven Magus and their Servants.
Magus, magic users of this age.
Servants; Heroic spirits who exist outside of time.
The Seven Classes;
The Holy Grail, a relic with the capacity to grant ones wishes.
I am Assassin Class.
She is also like me. A Servant. Only a Magus can summon a servant, thus she is a also a Magic-User. She is Caster, the servant who's capacity of magic exceeds the limits of what is possible for a Magus of this day and age.
"You are Caster, are you not?" I ask calmly.
A smooth smile appears on an expressionless visage, hidden under her hood. "I am Caster." She agrees.
"Why did you summon me?" I ask my second question.
"I summoned you to guard my camp. Whether servant or master, you shall allow no one to pass this gate, do you understand?" There is a certain weight to her words, almost like the very act of speaking them compels me to obey. The compulsion isn't so strong that I can't resist. But doing so would provoke her into using one of her Command Spells to force me.
I incline my head. "I do, Master. I shall protect these gates from any intruders who seek to do harm to my pretty master. It is the least I can do for the one who raised me from Perdition." A sense of irritation emanates from Caster for a moment, before it vanishes and she turns away. "Would it be acceptable if I took a moment to survey the city?" I can't help the eager tone that slips into my voice.
She pauses for a moment and without turning back speaks to me. "Perform your duties as commanded. And I suggest you keep your impudent mouth shut."
What a peculiar woman, I muse as she walks away. But, I have no complaints. She didn't use one of the command spells so as long as I give some measure of protection to this gate I should be able to do as I wish.
But it's dark now, and cold, now that I notice it. It should not be too much of a worry. This body doesn't have to remain material. The base component of this existence is my soul. A twinge of unrest surfaces within me at the concept of reverting to a spirit form. I think, even if it does give a measure of discomfort, I will remain as I am for now.
A sigh escaped my lips as I slump down against the stone steps beneath me.
It really is a beautiful night.
I ended up staying awake all night, watching the sky. It did not take long for the sun to peak its head up from the horizon. In addition, I now know which way is east. That can be useful to know. Like, if you are going to doze off you can be sure not to face the direction of the sun in the morning. So that you don't get awoken by the unpleasant brightness.
But, I didn't get woken up by the bright sunlight, because I didn't sleep.
After a few hours I did begin to notice movement though, from inside the temple.
Eventually a single person, a boy, probably not even twenty began to make his way towards the temple gate. He is definitely still in school; I can tell this because of my acute observation skills which easily pick up that he is, in fact, wearing a uniform. Tanned pants with a matching coat and a simple white shirt.
It is a simple uniform.
He has black hair, and elegant features. His eyes are sharp and are framed with glasses of a simple nature, ovals. They suit him.
Before I can even consciously decide to, I can feel one of my inherent techniques folding over me and in an instant, I match the boy's age, and outfit. I glance down at my hands. Sure enough a softer look has touched them, they are smaller, if only slightly, and my frame is decorated with the uniform.
Henge used to be such a simple technique, a simple illusion overlaid the user and that sufficed, but this. This is something more. I can feel it, the texture has changed, as has the dimensions of my body, and the material of my clothes. How odd it is, that I have not used this technique since I was alive and like second nature it takes a hold of me.
My musings, while short as they were, took enough time that the boy noticed me, sitting on the steps in front of the gate. He has a stern look, though it seems he is not quite awake yet. He cannot manage to look me in the eye and retain that look, not when he yawns a moment later.
"What are you doing?" He asks accusingly, and after a moment of pause, he shakes his head. "Shouldn't you be at school?" he rephrases his words without a hint of remorse.
I grin. "I'm new in town, and I'm not sure where the school is so..." I trailed off and gestured out towards the city. "I figured I'd see if I could see the school from here."
It is a cop out of an explanation, and yet somehow, he buys it.
He nods acceptingly.
"Homurabara Gakuen, correct?"
I smile and nod. "That's the one."
He nods to himself. "That is the school I attend," he informs me, "You're welcome to join me on the walk towards school."
I figured he would just tell me where the school was and be on his very way. What a nice person he is.
I smile broadly and stand up. "I'd appreciate that!"
No more words are said, and he begins to walk down the stairs.
I follow after a moment and skip a few steps so I'm walking beside him. I glance back up at the gate as we walk. As I walk a spark of my essence flows out from behind me leaving me weaker, barely noticeable, but it was still there. The immaterial essence cascaded upon itself until it forms itself into a suitable vessel, suitable being a copy of all I am.
A figure appears at the top of the steps.
Cerulean eyes stare down at me, jovial and good natured. A light smile plays upon their lips and cascades of blonde spikes threaten to overwhelm their vision. A sweeping haori of red with stylized flames of black lapping at the tail covers them.
How odd. Do I really look like that? I look pretty cool, if I do say so myself.
Although, that may be my pathological love of orange talking.
My counterpart flickered and disappears after a moment.
It's still there, just hidden and at the very least Master shouldn't be able to tell that I so readily abandoned my post at the slightest drop of a hat.
By the time we reach the bottom of the massive set of stairs a few minutes have passed. We walked them in silence. Ah, that's right. I forgot to introduce myself. People do that, I'm sure.
"I'm Naruto, by the way!" I said as he hit the street. I smile at my companion as he turns to me, and stick my hand out. "Nice to meet you."
A suspicious look overtakes the boy's visage as I hold my hand out.
I frown internally.
Did I do something wrong? I'm sure that the correct procedure was maintained. Introduced self, Extend hand, yes that's right. Perhaps I'm performing the incorrect actions for the time, or the place, or the state of politics.
"Ryuudou Issei," the boy says after a moment of consideration, and he shifts his back to his opposite hand and grasps my hand firmly. "Good to meet you."
Ah, I see. I did nothing wrong. That's a relief.
I smile gratefully and we continue on our way in silence.
A few streets pass by. It's fun to just look at things, without having to blow them up.
"By the way, I wasn't informed that we had a new exchange student." Issei said suddenly, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. "Do you know why that is?"
A confused look registered on my face. "Why would you?"
Issei's chest puffed up with pride. "I am the Student Body president of Homurabara Gakuen." He informd me. Before his look became neutral again and he stared at me, waiting for an answer.
He's unexpectedly devious.
"Maybe the paperwork didn't go through," I offer with a frown, and fold my arms across my chest. "If that's the case it'll be troublesome," I lament.
He seems suspicious, but he relents.
He smiles again, and continues to look at me.
"That's a possibility," he nodded acceptingly, before smiling again. "Where is your bag?"
My eyes flicker to the bag he carries in one of his hands.
The bag that doesn't exist on account of me not actually being a student.
I bite my bottom lip hesitantly.
Issei's look of suspicion remains for a few moments before he chuckles in amusement. "You're very absent minded," he informs me with a friendly tone. "Because it's your first day I imagine you're a bit nervous, right? It's understandable that you'd forget your belongings, but you should take care to be extra diligent to make up for it." He informs me with an air of responsibility.
Really, what an odd kind of guy.
We end up walking in amicable silence. On one side of us is the forest, and the other side is Fuyuki, or rather, the suburban area. However, the area closest doesn't seem to be for that purpose. In the distance I can see the built up areas.
But that isn't here. There are a few acres of green grassland, with a few houses built on them.
Instead of walking towards the houses we take a turn south, and follow he edge of the forest. Eventually a large building comes into sight from.
And then another exactly like it, beside it.
The school is large and white. The front of it is lined with groomed trees, and the gate itself is black and embedded in an offsite stone.
There are two buildings situated in the front. Each of them sit side by side. They're white, with a grey tiled sloping top, and three stories high. On the side of the further most right one I can see a glass pane down the side that reveals a staircase. I can only imagine it's the same for the one on the left.
The entrance is open; on the left site is a plaque that has bled rust onto the white of the concrete wall it is affixed to. The ground for the entrance area is bricked over, and leads to the school and to a car park on the right. A single lamp post sits on the brick path surrounded by a small well trimmed hedge.
Issei walks onto the school premise without hesitation and I follow him. We pass the two front buildings and walk onwards. A secondary building appears attached to the right front building. Unlike the predecessor the top of it isn't tiled instead a grey mesh fence surrounds it.
There are a few more buildings around.
On the right side there seems to be an archery range, and on the left a single story building that has a few adjacent buildings attached to itself.
Which is where it seems Issei is taking me.
We enter through the front and it takes me a few moments to realize.
It's an office.
Probably the administration building for the school.
He is very sneaky,
or very helpful.
The front desk in unmanned. It looks like nobody has arrived yet.
It makes it much easier.
As before I separate a slither of my energy and form it into an immaterial clone of myself.
The newly created clone knows what I know.
So it knows it needs to go into the rooms beyond, find the student documentation and make a shiny new entry for one Uzumaki Naruto. Soon to be known as Namikaze Naruto.
Issei turns to me, oblivious to the fact a spectre just walked right through him. I wonder why I did that. I could have easily walked around him.
"The staff should arrive soon," he informs me. He pushes his glasses up his nose. "I'll wait for them to arrive and hand you over."
Sounds like I'm a prisoner.
Isn't it my responsibility as a prisoner to revolt and flee? It'd probably be counterproductive. Though, I can't help but wonder why I'm still here. I guess it could be called a pointless whim. I'm not that inclined to deviate from it. Like a devious delinquent, it'd be detrimental to my determination, after all.
...or something like that.
"So, what can you tell me about the school?" I ask casually.
And I tune him out as he starts to talk.
Which isn't to say I'm ignoring him. I am simply delegating the responsibility of collecting the information he is providing to a lower level of my consciousness.
"The clubs are usually the first to arrive," he explains. "There are athletic clubs, scholastic and hobbies."
That's handy to know.
I wonder if there is a 'throw pointy objects at people' club.
"Usually the only clubs that arrive early in the morning are the athletic clubs." He lectures me. "We passed the track team on the way through the grounds. The manager of the team is Saegusa-san."
I wonder if he realizes that a name of a person I haven't met means nothing to me.
His diatribe is cut off short as the doors to the office open and a pretty woman in her mid twenties enters. She has short brown hair and a pleasant deamour. The oddest thing I can see is that she is wearing a yellow and dark green stripped shirt, under a dress of a lighter shade of green. I can't help but stare.
"Oh, Ryuudou-san." She says in surprise as she notices Issei.
"Good morning, Fujimura-sensei." Issei replies politely.
"Yes, good morning, Ryuudou-kun. I'm so happy you greet me properly." The smile that appears on her face really does add honesty to her words. She clasps her hands together and continues to smile. Is she really a teacher here? I wish I had a teacher like her when I was in the Academy. Her good-natured smile is infectious, in a way.
"Is there an incorrect way to greet you, sensei?" Issei asks in surprise.
The woman identified as Fujimura drops her hands and pouts like a child. "Of course there is. First years always greet me properly, but the older ones never greet me by my last name. You shouldn't copy their rudeness, okay?"
Issei seems offended that such a thing could occur.
He seems to be stumped in silence.
Fujimura finally takes notice of me. She looks surprised for a moment, before a welcoming smile takes shape.
"Who are you?" She asks in a surprisingly blunt manner.
"I'm Namikaze Naruto, Fujimura-sensei." She becomes delirious with joy again. "I'm a new transfer-student," I inform her.
She sighs contently and ignores me.
"I wish everyone was as respectful as you both," she murmurs, before she blinks.
And stares at me as if I had grown another head.
"That's impossible," she informs me. "We don't have any students transferring in." She says so confidently. Before frowning, and bringing a hand up to her lips. She bites down on a finger nervously. "Did I forget?" she murmurs under her breath.
She turns to Issei and smiles again, while nice to see it doesn't hold the same splendour as her previous Fujimura-sensei smiles. "Thank you for assisting Namikaze-san, Ryuudou-san." She says pleasantly.
"I will go to the student council room," he informs us before saying good bye."
Fujimura-sensei watches as Issei leaves, and then, when the door is shut and he cannot be seen she turns back to me with a friendly smile. "I'm Fujimura Taiga." She introduces herself and sticks her hand out towards me.
I stare at it for a moment, surprised, before I smile genuinely and clasp it lightly. "Namikaze Naruto." I introduce myself again and bring the offered hand up to my lips. I lay a light kiss upon the knuckle and let it go.
The hand hovers in the air, and a stunned look appears on Fujimura Taiga's face. Slowly a blush filtered onto her cheeks, and she drops her hand.
I must have done something wrong. She looks at me like I've grown another head, and then.
"Namikaze-kun, you're a good boy," she says in an honest way.
I feel like a dog.
None the less it's put her in an even better mood.
"Let's go find your papers." Without another word she all but skips off to locate the papers.
Which... are three rooms behind the desk, adjacent to a break room.
An influx of memories touch upon my mind in a sense od déjà-vu.
For example. I also now know that the papers were located in a filing cabinet, and that Ryuudou Issei is in the third year, which, I am, according to the newly fabricated documents, am also in. I also have the strangest craving for a walk through a park. I do not know why. Though, it could be said that I haven't walked through a park in a long time, and am well entitled to do so.
There is a crashing sound, and a few minutes later Fujimura Taiga emerges from the rooms beyond the desks with a file in her hands
"I found it!" she declares happily. "It was on the floor." I knew that already, I put it there, after all.
She flips it open and takes a quick look through it. She seems happy enough with the forgery.
And then, she frowns.
"It doesn't list your residency?" she says surprised, before looking up at me for an answer.
"I'm staying at temporary accommodation right now," I lie through my teeth. She continues to frown but doesn't make a deal out of it.
"Everything seems fine, except that I wasn't aware you were transferring in." She frowns hard and stares down at the document accusingly, as if it was it's fault for the unexpected event. "Which is odd since you're in my rollcall?" She states, questioning the words written on the documentation.
She snaps it shut after a moment and drops it onto the office desk. She turns to me and clasps her hands together and beams at me. "It doesn't matter, does it Namikaze-kun?" her voice takes on a song-like quality. "Since you're new you don't have a club right?" She stares at me expectantly. "Do you want to join the club I manage?" she beams at me as she asks.
"Okay." I agree easily. "What kind of club do you run?"
"Archery," she answers helpfully.
"With bow and arrows?" I ask with a grin.
She gives me a funny look, as if I asked a particularly dumb question. Which, I suppose it was.
She dismisses it after a moment and begins to walk towards the exit, before pausing and frowning. After a few moments her eyes widen in surprise and she smiles at me apologetically. "Namikaze-kun, I'm afraid I have a bit of work to do before I head to the Archery range, are you able to make it there by yourself?"
"I saw it on the way here," I inform her. She nods happily before a serious look overtakes her.
"If I get there and you aren't there it's the death penalty, okay?" She mimics a gun with her fingers and points it at me. With a wink she says "Bang!" and turns away, laughing to herself. She walks off behind the front desk and disappears into the rooms beyond.
Fujimura Taiga is a nice, if odd woman. I decide.
If I was going to disappear now would be the time to do it. Issei is gone to do Student-stuff and Fujimura is gone to do Teacher-stuff. I don't want to disappear and sit on the sidelines of life while I have the chance to spend it casually. This kind of boring stuff, I like. I think I do anyway. It's different than usual. No gore or screams. Even Fujimura's death threat was pleasant and light-hearted.
It isn't too much trouble, to spend my time here, I think. As long as Master doesn't notice I'm gone it will be fine.
However. It seems as though I might not have enough time to enjoy this. The casual pace and the lack of tension is easing it. But I can feel my energy draining, far faster than it should be. The energy I had would have sustained my for twenty more days and nights. I retain half of that. The other half remains at the temple disguising my absence. Even as I stand, still I can feel the energy draining away. What should be a second is ten seconds. What was be a minute was ten minutes. What will be an hour will be ten hours. If I remain outside of the temple for a day it will be ten days.
And I will disappear.
Ignoring the half of my mana that remains at the Temple Gate I have, since leaving the temple grounds, lost three and a half hours worth of energy in the span of twenty minutes. I could survive off the grounds for a single day in my current state. Or two full days if I had all my mana available to me.
I take a deep breath and close my eyes.
I reach out with my senses.
I touch the ground, the air, things that don't exist in the physical realm. Mana saturates the very world around me. It is always like that. This in my time was called 'Natural Energy'. Everyplace has it. It is everywhere. Though, there are some areas where it is especially potent. Ryuudou Temple happens to be one of them.
Here, in the school, I can feel the energy coursing through the air and earth. I still my body, my muscles, and breath and slowly breath in. Like a gentle summer breeze, the mana in the air and earth draws towards me. To an outsider it would seem as though I am inhaling the mana.
That is not the case. In opening myself up to the world I become a part of the world. A hole that throws off equalization. To rebalance the worlds mana pours into me until I am level with the world.
Right now that is not the case.
There is no 'full'.
I am a hole with a hole in my hole. Whatever I draw is immediately spent. While it allows me to maintain my mana level, it does not allow me to do anything else.
I am a statue.
If I move I will stop drawing upon the world, and once again the world will greedily sink its fangs into me.
But I need to move. I need to do something. Or else, being in such a position is pointless.
It takes very little consideration before I open my eyes and begin to walk out of the building. Like a plug being pulled my mana levels begin to plummet again at a steady, if too fast pace.
The school is still mostly empty. People are beginning to arrive. The track team are still making their way around the yard, and it looks like the Archery Dojo is open. It has an excitable vibe to it. A steady thrum of positive energy. The building is in good condition, and even when compared to the rest of the school is particularly impressive. It's fair to say that on first glance it is obvious that it is a place of training. Training of what however is another matter entirely.
There are no obvious signs from the front that it is an Archery range.
The entrance is open, and on either side is a metal grill that has been folded away so people can enter.
The front is covered by a wooden awning, which itself is covered by a set of tiles. As I approach it I absently reach up and run my fingers over the grain of the pillars of wood that the cover up. A light dusty film sticks to my fingers. The kind that you find on certain wooden structures. My village had a lot of buildings like that, there is a certain nostalgia to the feel as I rub my fingers together and ball the dust up.
The floor inside the dojo is clean and glossy. It has a pleasant feel to it. That isn't to say any other part of the interior of the dojo doesn't match that kept nature. To the side there are a few low level tables. The other side of the dojo opens up into a range. Like the interior of the dojo it is well kept, the grass that covers the distance between the wooden floor and the targets is short and green.
I notice, after my observations that I am not alone.
Inside the dojo at the side are two girls. They're sitting at one of the tables. Between them there are two empty cups, and aside a pot. They noticed me a while ago. They look to me in suspicion. Perhaps it's because I have a new face that hasn't been seen before.
"Can I help you?" One of them asks me, her voice containing a small measure of annoyance.
The one that speaks has brown hair that falls to her just above her shoulders. She has angular hazel eyes and a cute if not sharp face. She is wearing the school uniform, thus is a student.
"Fujimura-sensei told me to come here." I explain to her with a pleasant smile.
She stares at me long and hard before her demeanour relaxes. She turns her gaze from me to the girl sitting opposite her on the table. The second girl is wearing a red coat over her school uniform. She has long black hair that reaches the small of her back. Parts are done up into twin tails, tied up by black ribbons. She has a slightly smaller frame than the first girl. Although that could be an optical illusion due to her smaller breasts.
"I should probably take care of this." The first girl says to the second, before glancing back at me.
I seem to have interrupted them.
The black haired girl calmly rises from the table in a smooth motion. "That's fine," she says. "It's almost time for the club members to arrive, right? I'll get going, but you stay and be a good captain." Her voice, while steady, cultured and measured has a certain taunting quality to it. Like that between good friends.
The brown haired girl furrows her brow. "What, you're not going to stay and watch?" She says in disappointment.
"I wouldn't understand. Watching from a distance is fine, but outsiders shouldn't be in the range, should they?"
The brown haired one glances at me. "It doesn't seem to stop them, does it?"
What a lowblow. I'm only here because Taiga threatened to shoot me with her finger pistol.
As they talk someone approaches from the outside of the front entrance.
"Good morning, Captain." A quiet polite and feminine voice echoes.
So the brown haired one is the Captain. I suppose I should make a good impression.
Or perhaps I shouldn't.
That could be fun. Fun but troublesome.
The Archery Captains gaze switches from me to the newcomer. "Ah, morning, Matou. You're alone this morning?"
"...Yes. I'm sorry I couldn't be of help." The newcomers voice takes on an apologetic quality.
"It's okay. If he doesn't want to come, there's no point forcing him to." The captain laments
I feel like such a side character, being ignored like this.
"Well, I'll be going. See you later, Mitsuzuri-san." The black haired one says as she begins to leave.
I for the first time see her face. For a moment light blue eyes match my gaze, and then sweep away in a single motion. Her face holds a calm and reserved demeanour.
"Yeah, see you later, Tohsaka."
"..Thank you for coming, Tohsaka-Senpai."
"Thanks. You take care too, Sakura."
Mitsuzuri. Tohsaka, and Sakura. In one fell sweep I have learned the names of the Captain of the Archery Club, Mitsuzuri. The black haired girl, Tohsaka. And the newcomer, behind me, who I haven't bothered to take notice off, Sakura.
Tohsaka leaves soon after saying her good-byes. Leaving me alone with Mitsuzuri and 'Sakura'.
I knew someone by that name.
My teammate. My one time crush. My... friend.
I turn away from those thoughts as quickly as they appear. The present isn't anytime for the past.
"Are you going to answer?"
I snap out of my stupor to find the Captain of the Archery Club facing me and talking to me. She has an annoyed expression.
"Sorry, could you repeat that?"
She stares at me for a moment, before sighing resignedly. "What's your name?" she asks, again.
"Namikaze Naruto." I introduce myself with a smile and hold out my hand to her.
She looks at the offered hand for a second in silent. Before smiling in amusement and clasping it. "You're a weird guy, aren't you?" She says such a rude thing easily.
I like her.
"Like you wouldn't believe," I agree.
"Mitsuzuri Ayako." She introduces herself.
She lets go of my hand and gestures behind me. "And this, is-"
"Matou Sakura." I interrupt her with the skill of a professional. I turn towards the otherwise unseen but known occupant of the Archery Dojo.
I stare, I can't help it.
This is what you call 'sympathy at first sight' isn't it?
Matou Sakura is shorter than me. By a little less than half a foot. She has lavender hair, that falls just beyond her shoulders. A dark pink ribbon ties part of her hair back and reveals the gentle curve of her neck. Her eyes are the same shade as her hair, and her facial structure is soft and lovely.
She is... stunningly pretty. And stunningly broken.
I can see behind her composed outward expression. The shy and timid look that she displays. The reserved and stoic positioning of her facial features. The clasping hands held in front of her.
Something awful has happened to this one in front of me. And she endures.
I feel a prod at my arm, and I suddenly realize I've stared too long, and that the target of my stare has visibly become nervous.
"You're staring." Ayako points out.
"Sorry," I apologise and smile sheepishly. I reach back and scratch the back of my head.
Sakura smiles kindly and bows ever so slightly. "Nice to meet you, Namikaze-san."
"The pleasure is all mine." I insist and hold out my hand.
She stares at it for a moment, her smile falling, before she reaches forwards and clasps it softly. A gentle current passes from her hand to mine. I give her hand a gentle squeeze and let go. She stares. "Please take good care of me," I say in jest. She looks away and a faint blush tinges her cheeks.
"Matou, can you watch him while I go and unlock the equipment?" Ayako interrupts our heartfelt moment.
Sakura draws back her hand and nods to her captain, smiling slightly.
Ayako leaves the main area of the dojo.
"So," I remark casually. "You're a magus?"
Matou Sakura freezes.
Metaphorically, of course, or rather, her movement does. Though, considering the weather and how chilly it is it isn't inappropriate to suggest otherwise.
"W-what?" She is startled, her eyes are wide and her shoulders are trembling. She averts her eyes from me. "I don't know what you mean." She says, denying my question.
I reach up and scratch my cheek. "Sorry, I didn't realize you'd react that way to the question."
The purple haired girl stares at me, her expression going blank.
"I am not a magus." She states firmly and resolutely.
"I understand." I smile reassuringly.
It does little good. She stares at me distressed. Her eyes alert.
"Do you have something you want to ask me?"
She bites her bottom lip.
"You're not a magus." She states clearly.
"I'm a ninja," I inform her helpfully. I am also a ervant, but I don't think I'll tell her that.
She stares at me distressed still, but that's okay.
I step forwards and wrap my arms around her.
She stiffens and goes rigid.
"I won't tell anyone," I say quietly into her ear. "I promise."
She relaxes, ever so slightly, despite the embrace from a stranger.
"Why are you here, Namikaze-san?" she asks in a barely audible voice.
"Naruto," I urge her to call me.
She bites her bottom lip. "why are you here, Naruto-san?"
I step back and hold her at arm's length. I smile in amusement, after all, she has asked a silly question. "I am here to go to school," I inform her tauntingly.
Her eyes go hollow for a moment, before a spark of will finds itself within them again.
She nods mutely and lowers her gaze.
"Sakura-chan," I say the name lightly with a tinge of fondness, before I shake my head in bemusement. "Doesn't feel right to call you that. I used to have a friend named Sakura," I tell her.
She doesn't react.
"So what should I call you?" I ask her kindly.
This is what is called 'allowing a target to define a relationship'.
She doesn't answer straight away.
I drop my hands from her shoulder and gently nudge her chin up. "Hey," I protest. "Don't be so sad."
Her gaze raises and meets mine.
I feel like I'm staring into the black space between the stars in the night sky.
"I'm not going to hurt you." I tell her. "I'm going to protect you."
"If... you want me to." I finish resolutely.
Her stare flickers with something akin to anguish.
She bows her head.
"Please take good care of me Namikaze-san."
That is... unfortunate. Her words do not match her heart.
The words that say 'Please help me, stranger.'
And the heart that says 'Please leave me alone, stranger.'
This isn't fiction, so I suppose such simple words with simple intentions can't reach something that is broken.
If this was back in my day I'd have punched her until we were friends.
I know for certain, that that is not how people become friends these days.
I suppose I'll have to take the long road to make a new friend, this time.
Angry footsteps bang against the hardwood floor from the entrance.
I drop my hand from Sakura's chin and take a step back, smiling at her reassuringly as I do.
"Who the hell are you?" An angry, unpleasantly violant voice demands.
I turn towards the entrance.
Ah, this is what you call 'enmity at first sight' isn't it?
A blue haired boy is stomping on. He has the features of what you'd call a 'pretty boy' and has an aura of unpleasantness about him. His gaze is directed at me, though, when he notices Sakura it flares up ever so slightly. He reaches us and grabs for Sakura's arm.
Or tries to.
As he tries he finds a hand firmly gripping his wrist.
Mine to be specific.
"What are you doing?" I ask him calmly.
He sneers and yanks his arm out of my grip. Or tries to. He fails and manages to hurt himself.
He takes a moment and recomposes himself and looks down upon me. Which is a feat, considering that he is shorter than me. "She's my sister, stay out of family business." He says such a thing like it matters.
I sigh and as he attempts to yank his arm free again, I let go. He stumbles backwards. "Jeez, if you're her brother that means what you're doing is worse. A brother is supposed to protect his sister," I lecture him condescendingly.
He stares at me in undisguised loathing.
"What are you doing here," he repeats with faux calm. "Outsiders aren't supposed to be in the dojo." He pauses and actually looks at me for the first time. "I've never seen you before either," he states.
I smile widely and hold out my hand to him. "I'm Namikaze Naruto," I introduce myself. "I'm a new transfer student. Please treat me well."
The look he gives is worth of being remembered, the anger, the rage, the indignation. Plus, he doesn't shake my hand. What a bastard.
"That doesn't explain what you're doing here," he all but spits out.
"Fujimura-sensei told me to come here," I answer easily, with no small measure of satisfaction.
He grits his teeth together, and after a moment he gives a brittle smile. "Welcome to the club," he says through gritted teeth and turns to face Sakura. "Sakura," he barks out. "You shouldn't associate with strangers, do you understand?"
Before Sakura can react I hold up my hand.
"That would be my fault," I admit easily and without fault. "I was the one who started talking to her."
He glares at me before sneering and stomping off again. I can't help but notice that he doesn't try to grab her arm again. I feel a measure of satisfaction.
I glance to Sakura again, she is biting her bottom lip.
I smile at her, though she can't see. "I told you I'd protect you."
She casts her gaze down further, muttering something that sounds suspiciously like 'thank you' under her breath.
An awkward sort of silence sets in between us. It's soon broken by the return of Ayako. As she appears from the store room she casts Sakura's brother an annoyed look. A second later she approaches him and begins berating him for not cleaning up the equipment store.
"So," I begin to say. "What's your brother's name?" I ask her casually.
"Shinji," she answers. The way the name falls from her lips feels unpractised.
The sound of more footsteps from the front of the dojo echo inwards, the rest of the club seems to be arriving. Soon a steady stream of students walks in chatting amongst themselves. I receive a few speculatory glances as they see me, but soon I am dismissed and they walk on.
I notice that Sakura is beginning to get nervous again. "Go on," I urge her. "You want to practice right?"
She nods and then moves away, to the back of the room, where Ayako had reappeared.
Standing in the middle of a dojo as people walk around me seems pointless.
But I don't know where to go.
Thankfully the choice is taken out of my hands.
"Namikaze-kun!" a voice exclaims happily.
I turn towards the door.
Fujimura Taiga has come.
And she is happy.
All is good with the world.
"Fujimura-sensei." I greet her.
She all but flutters.
"I'm glad you came," she informs me. She looks around the dojo, her eyes sparkling. "Have you already met everyone?"
I scratch my cheek. "I've met Ayako, Shinji and Sakura."
She nods in approval. "Our captain, vice captain and Sakura-chan. I approve."
Sakura's brother is the vice-captain? That's unpleasant.
I glance over towards him.
Sure enough, as his looks and personality dictates, a group of girls surrounds him, each hanging on his every word as one would expect. Also, not much of a surprise is his expression as he talks to them. One would call it fake. Though perhaps it isn't, Perhaps he is only satisfied when he is surrounded by pretty girls hanging on his every word.
Either way it isn't pleasant.
With a brother like that no wonder Matou Sakura is as she is.
Fujimura follows my gaze and she looks on in disapproval as well, but makes no move to break the group apart. "I'm glad you're not a playboy like Matou-kun, Namikaze-kun." Me too, I would probably have to friendship myself to death if I ever found myself like that.
For a small while Fujimura and I talk about small things. By the time the rest of the club has arrived, I've found myself genuinely affectionate for the teacher. She has a refreshingly genuine personality. Throughout our discussion I've noticed Shinji sending the occasional look of irritation at me.
It seems what he was waiting for has finally arrived.
"Taiga-sensei, is it true that you've invited a new member without consulting the vice-captain?" Shinji says loudly, catching every members attention easily.
Fujimura Taiga looks at the blue haired ass in surprise. "Is it a problem?"
Shinji smiles. "Sensei, it's just, we don't know if he can even shoot a bow." He glances towards me. "Have you ever used a bow before?"
"Nope," I answer cheerfully.
He smiles in a somewhat victorious way. "You see, Tiger? How can we attract some good talent in the new term if we pick up free loaders?"
There is a general consensus that agrees with Shinji.
Fujimura-sensei stares blankly at Shinji. And a sudden look of fear manifests itself on his face.
"Who the hell are you calling Tiger?!" Taiga roars. "If I say he can join than he can join!"
Shinji flinches and steps back. Taiga glares at him sullenly.
Matou Shinji is taken aback, and after a few seconds recomposes himself and tries his luck again.
"It'd be fair to let him to try and fail before we kick him out of the club, at the least."
He is finding more and more ways to annoy me.
"That's fair." I agree easily.
I turn towards Taiga and smile. "It's fair, right Fujimura-sensei?"
She switches her gaze from Shinji to me and her glare is lost. She looks at me for a moment, before smiling and nodding. "It's fair." She agrees, but not before casting Shinji another mild glare.
She doesn't approve of Shinji, I like her more and more.
"Can I borrow a bow?"
One of the nearby members, a somewhat plain looking girl moves forwards and attempts to hand me her bow. It is an odd black bow made of carbon fibre. I don't even wonder how I know what it is when before today I had never seen such a thing.
"Hold on." Shinji stops the girl from handing over the bow. "It's an unfair advantage to use such a good piece of equipment." He explains. He smiles at me coldly. "It's only fair if he uses some of the dojo equipment, since he didn't bring his own." He pauses and regards me. "You didn't bring a bow, did you?"
"I didn't," I agree. "I just asked if I could borrow a bow, didn't I?
He glares at me, but his smile widens all the same.
He goes back into the equipment room, and a minute later he returns with a bow in hand. A wooden one that looks like it is worn to it's limits. He thrusts it in my hand along with a quiver of three arrows.
He gestures towards the range, and with an annoyed look barks for the members to get out of the way.
He turns back to me and smiles viciously. "Whenever you're ready, Naruto-kun." It's the first time he's said my name. And it feels like a leech is crawling over my skin as it leaves his throat.
I step around him and move towards the range. "Do I stand here?" I ask.
Another member attempts to instruct me, but again Shinji interrupts. "Don't tell him." He says harshly.
"You stand a bit closer, and in front of the target."
"Who sai-" Shinji begins to ask angrily, before he's confronted by someone he hadn't seemed to expect.
Mitsuzuri Ayako glares at Shinji and silences him with her look. "Vice-captain, please step back and allow me to instruct our newest recruit."
Shinji is taken aback by Ayako's sudden interruption.
He grits his teeth and smiles at Ayako. "Of course, Mitsuzuri."
Ayako approaches me and assists me with getting ready. She begins to lecture me on the proper motions and technique to draw the bow.
"Thank you for helping, Ayako, but I think I've got it." I smile at her genuinely.
She stares at me hard, appraising my words, before nodding and stepping back.
She smiles. "Good luck Naruto-kun." She says with a smile.
A sound is made from the crowd. "Hey," Taiga protests quietly. "Not even I call him Naruto-kun yet." She seems disappointed that someone is on better terms with me than she is. It's cute.
I draw an arrow from the quiver that sits on the ground and place it against the shaft of the bow. I draw back and take aim.
It seems simple enough. Draw. Aim Fire.
Just like throwing kunai and shuriken.
Behind me I can hear some of the crowd chortling.
I line up the bullseye at the opposite end of the range and let loose the string.
There is a satisfying moment as the arrow is fired and the swish of it leaving the bow touches my ears, and a second one as the arrow strikes the target at the other side of the range.
I lower the bow and my arm and look on in surprise, and not-so-mild satisfaction.. The arrow struck the target on its dead centre. A fine shot if I do say so myself.
"Beginners luck!" Shinji snapped from somewhere behind me. "Take your next shot."
I turned and grinned at the blue haired boy. "If I get another bullseye how about I take your position as vice captain?"
He glares at me indignantly, before smiling a winning smile. "Of course," he agrees. "And if you get all three I'll let you go on a date with my sister."
"Matou!" Ayako snaps.
He glances to her dispassionately. "What?" he asks brazenly, before turning back to me. "If you miss them then you have to leave and never come back, alright?"
"Sounds like a deal."
I pick up the second arrow, and take aim at the target down the range.
I steady my breath and gaze down the length of the arrow.
I take a moment to compose myself and draw the bow string back an extra inch.
The string all but slips from between my finger tips as I let go.
The Archery club stares in slack-jawed surprise.
And I can't blame them. Not when my own lips have parted in equal amounts.
"T-that's impossible!" Shinji snarls. "You must have cheated some how!"
"Impossible?" I echo. "Extremely unlikely, maybe."
"No, that's impossible." He repeats angrily and stomps forwards. "They're not broadhead arrows, it's physically impossible to split an arrow with one!"
I gesture down the range, to the target, to where my second arrow is deep into the target, covered by the splinters of its predecessor. "Looks like it isn't."
He glares at me accusingly.
"Very impressive, Namikaze-kun!" Taiga exclaims, her voice happy, but confused. "You're a perfect fit for an archer!"
My cheeks tinge lightly at the praise.
Shinji attempts to snatch the bow from my hand.
I hold it away from him and smile widely. "Now, now Shinji-kun." I say, my voice sickly sweet. "I still have to win a date with your sister, don't I?" The anger on his face melts away.
"What did you say?" he asks quietly.
"You said if I get all three shots I'd get a date with your sister right?" I grin widely. "I've already got your Vice-Captain seat, so why not go for the third, final and best prize?"
Out of the corner of my eye I can see Matou Sakura ducking her head in embarrassment.
Shinji takes a step back. "I was kidding." He stammers.
"You were?" I say with mock disappointment. "That's a shame.
I move to pick up the final arrow.
I wink at him. "Never leave a job half finished."
I set the arrow.
Draw the string.
And let loose.
I look on in mild disappointment.
My shot hits the outside of the bullseye.
"I was aiming for the middle again." I announce with disappointment.
I sigh and hand Shinji my bow. "I guess I wouldn't have gotten that date after all, eh, Shin-chan?"
He bristles in anger.
There is a low rumble of laughter from the rest of the club, that disappears as Shinji turns towards them.
"What are you all standing around for?" he snarls. "Don't you have practice to do?" he stomps off and thrusts the bow into the hands of one of the girls at the front, who doesn't seem incline to get in the way of the blue-haired dinosaurs rampage.
I stare after Shinji in obvious satisfaction.
The brown haired Ayako approaches with a smile of approval.
"Very nice shooting." She praises me. "But he was right you know." She glanced down the range. "That shouldn't have been possible." She grins at me and asks in a conspirator whisper. "Did you cheat?"
I laugh her question off. "I'm just very lucky," I tell her in amusement.
She laughs as well. "Some luck."
In the end, the Archery Club ends without further event and a bell rings.
The club members begin to file out of the dojo and head their separate ways. I'm left sitting with Taiga and watching everyone leave. I have a cup of tea in my hands. It's become cold since it's been poured. I haven't even sipped it. I wonder if that's considered bad manners.
Taiga sighs. "I suppose we should go as well, Namikaze-kun."
"Naruto." I say to her.
She stares at me in mild confusion.
"Call me Naruto," I insist.
Her eyes widen and she brings a hand up to her mouth. She covers a small laugh. "That's very forward of you Namikaze-kun."
I blink. "Is it?" I ask aloud.
She sighs and slowly straightens up. "I suppose that's what happens when you're mixed."
"...Mixed?" I echo.
She gives me a strange look.
Or rather, she looks at me as though I'm strange.
"One of your parents wasn't Japanese, correct?"
Technically neither were Japanese. "That's right."
She smiles and points at my nose. "You have blonde hair, blue eyes and tanned complexion!" she suddenly exclaims. "Clearly you're mixed race!" She puffs her chest up proudly and drops her hand.
"That's impressive," I say dryly. "How'd you figure that out Fujimura-sensei?"
She stares at me plainly before sighing. "I just told you, Namikaze-kun," she lectures me.
I give up.
I surrender. I hold my hands up in defeat.
If I had a white flag I'd wave it.
"You win Fujimura-sensei." I inform her.
She smiles happily and claps her hands together once. "What's my prize?"
"You don't get one."
She pouts like a child. "What's the point in winning then?" She dismisses my answer pre-emptively with a wave of her hand. "We need to get to class," she informs me with a smile.
"Of course," I agree with her.
She begins to walk out of the dojo. We're the last two left. As I step out of the front she begins to close the gate behind me and locks it. Inside the archery equipment is still abound. I suppose They aren't finished with it for today.
We walk towards the school buildings chatting. Or rather, Taiga is the one who is talking. I am listening. A comment here and there and she doesn't realize it's a mostly one sided conversation.
Taiga smiles at me sincerely. "Have you decided what kind of bow you're going to get?" She asks me.
I scratch my cheek. I hadn't planned to actually buy one. "The one I used was pretty good," I inform her. "Do you think I could keep using it?"
She frowns. "It isn't the best quality," she informs me. "The balance is off and it tends to throw off shots."
"I did pretty good with it though, didn't I?" I grin at her.
She nods with a serious expression. "You did very well," she praises me. It's embarrassing to hear good words come from such a series expression. She smiles after a few moments. "You're in my homeroom and my club," she begins to say, before her expression becomes serious again. "If you become a delinquent I won't forgive you," she informs me.
"Is that like, a bad student?"
She nods. "If you get bad grades and skip classes I won't forgive you." She winks. "A thousand years of punishment."
I laugh and a few moments later Taiga follows in suit.
By the time I've noticed we're already inside the three story tall building and heading to the second floor. We pass very few students on the way. It seems as though most of them have already entered their classrooms.
I glance over at Taiga.
She seems to be in a good mood. She is holding a clipboard to her chest and has a small bounce in her step. She notices my glance and smiles at me. "Here we are, Namikaze-kun."
We've stopped in front of a classroom door. Inside I can hear people talking.
"Now, don't be nervous," she tells me. "And if you have any problems with anyone don't hesitate to call me, unless it's a girl or another boy being mean to you." She lectures. "If you're a man than you should grab a problem by its sides and shake it up and down until it begs for forgiveness."
What an oddly zen-like statement.
"Of course, Fujimura-sensei."
"Now just wait here, and when I call your name, enter, okay?"
She beams at me and slides the door open.
"Good morning class!" She exclaims happily as she enters.
"Good morning Taiga-sensei!" The class returns the greeting.
I patiently wait to hear my name called.
Taiga begins to list off names, and after everyone someone replies with a 'here'. It's just like my old academy, except with less pointy objects. I smile in nostalgia.
Ah, that's my cue.
I slide the door open and enter. I'm greeted with the sight of the classroom. Seats filled with teenagers with identical uniforms, and a single green, yellow and black adorned teacher at the head of the classroom. My gaze sweeps over the students and I catch a few familiar faces.
Ryuudou Issei smiles and nods his head almost imperceptibly.
Alternatively, Matou Shinji glares at me with barely restrained contempt.
A small frown touches my lips.
It seems Ayako isn't here. That's a shame. I recognize a few other faces from the archery club, but no one I've talked with.
I smile at the group and raise a hand. "Mornin'," I greet them.
At the front of the classroom Taiga frowns disapprovingly.
I cough and bring up my hand to my mouth.
"I mean," I begin again and smile pleasantly. "Good morning, I look forward to working with you all." I glance to Taiga and see her nodding approvingly. I hold in a laugh and smile at my classmates again. "Please take good care of me."
They stare back at me blankly.
Taiga lightly applauds. "Very good, Namikaze-kun." She peers across the room. "There is a spot in the back row, next to the window."
At the back of the room, next to an open window is an empty seat.
"Thank you Fujimura-sensei."
I stroll towards it, a smile on my lips. I purposely walk past Shinji and smile at him.
He glowers back at me but does little else.
I sit down at my newly appointed seat and let out a pleased sound.
Around me the students are beginning to chat. Some are talking about pointless subjects. Others are casting looks towards me and talking.
"Tiger seems happy today," one student says to another.
A hand is slammed against a desk. "Did someone just make fun of me?" Taiga demands to know from the front of the room.
"No, we didn't. Maybe you imagined it?"
Taigas rage disappears. "All right, good. Then I'll continue."
She begins to talk casually, informing the class of announcements. In between them, she talks casually so it passes slowly. Which is fine, it has a pleasant atmosphere. The window beside me opens up into the forest of trees that surround the back and sides of the school. A gentle scent wafts into the classroom.
It smells like peaceful summers.
"Pardon me, Namikaze-san." Someone calls my assumed name.
I tilt my head back and look for the source.
It takes me very little time to find it.
In front of me a young girl has turned around and faced me. She has a light complexion, medium length, wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. She has a playful look about her, and has a smile affixed to her lips. "Nice to meet you, My name is Sawada Risa," she introduces herself.
I smile at her good-naturedly. "Nice to meet you Risa-chan."
She smiles and giggles of all things. "Call me Risa," she insists.
"Call me Naruto," I counter offer.
We negotiate terms and soon our bargain is made.
"How do you find the school?" I ask her.
Her lips part for a moment and a thoughtful look overtakes her. "Well..." she trails off. "It's a good environment, and everyone is friendly." She supplies. "How come you're transferring in?"
"I have some business in Fuyuki," I answer easily.
"...so everyone, please note the curfew. It's at six o'clock, so people with club activities shouldn't stay too late either."
Taiga's voice breaks through the conversation and draws the students attention to her.
Some students make sounds of disapproval. "What? Six o'clock is too early, Taiga sensei. Can't the athletic clubs be exempted?"
Taiga frowns. "Nope. And Please address your teacher as 'Fujimura-sensei'. I'll get mad if you call me that again. She settles her hands on her hips and glares at the offending student, before her gaze sweeps over towards me and a happy smile momentarily makes itself known.
"All right, I'll be careful."
I wonder what he's referring to. The clubs, or 'Taiga-sensei'.
A moment later he sits back down again and seems to zone out.
"Well, that's it for today's homeroom." She informs the room and closes her clipboard. "Let's meet again in English class in second period, everyone." Taiga leaves, waving her hand at the class.
As she leaves a man enters the room.
My instincts begin to scream at me the moment our eyes make contact.
Because he is dangerous.
He is a well built man, as tall as I am normally. He wears a dark green suit and has angular glasses. His face holds little to no emotion. There is no light behind hid dull black eyes. He is a normal human being. So why is he dangerous?
He places his belongings on the podium up the front of the classroom and his eyes sweep over the classroom. Our eyes make contact again and he maintains my gaze for a few seconds, before blinking.
"Who are you?" he asks.
I smile at him. "Namikaze Naruto," I introduce myself. "I just transferred in today."
He says nothing for a few moments.
"Is that so?" he murmurs, and does not dispute what I have said.
His name is Kuzuki Souchirou.
He teaches World History.
He has a stern demeanour and has a strict personality.
He begins to teach the class, and all but ignores my presence.
Which is good.
I can deal with this kind of teacher.
He lectures the class, and then tells them to open their books. Books which I don't have. I receive a few strange looks from my fellow classmates, but no one makes a fuss. The class continues and eventually ends with a ring of a bell.
The class was boring. The only way it could have been more so, was if I had to actively participate in it, instead of watching the clouds float by in the sky.
Kuzuki leaves and my instincts stop screaming for his head. The rest of my classmates begin to pack up their belongings and begin to head to their next class.
In front of me Risa stands up and begins to leave.
"Ah, Risa." I call to her.
She stops in mid step and turns back to me, with a surprised look. "Naruto?"
"What class do we have next?"
She laughs softly and smiles. "It's second period," she informs me teasingly.
What's so spec-Ah.
"English with Fujimura-sensei?" I offer my guess.
"Can I follow you?" I ask.
She bites her bottom lip, before nodding with a smile. "Of course," she agrees.
She waits until I've stood and caught up to her.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch Issei giving me a look of disapproval. Besides him an orange haired student watches on with amusement.
I hum to myself and follow Risa out of the classroom careful to stay a few steps behind her. We exit the classroom and enter into the hallway, which, at the beginning had been empty, and now was full to the brim. Risa makes her way through the throngs of people with some hesitation. I follow in her wake with much less difficulty, though, I note, I draw a few stares.
Do I look that odd?
Or perhaps they just like the tune I am humming.
Eventually we arrive at a second classroom. There are students already inside, chatting amongst themselves. We enter and I am greeted with a set of different faces and the smell of food. I pause momentarily and Risa glances back at me. She smiles abashed as the students in the room take notice of me and stare with mild interest, the majority of which, are girls.
Risa grasps me by the hand and pulls me towards the middle of the classroom where three students are sitting around a desk and talking. Or it looks like that was the case before I interrupted. The three are staring at me, as the rest are, openly curious.
"Who's that?" one of them blurts out and stares past Risa at me. Her eyes flicker to Risa for a moment before turning back to me. This girl has short black hair that has been trimmed and cut in a tomboyish fashion. Not to say it's scruffy, just short. She has a slight tan and delicate Japanese features. She is what you'd call a 'japanese beauty'. The words that fall from her lips contradict her looks. I like her.
Risa smiles at the girl. "This is Naruto," she introduces me happily. "He just transferred into school today."
"Why'd you bring him here?" The same girl asks brashly.
Risa is beginning to get flustered.
"I asked her to bring me," I supply, catching the girl off guard. "I thought she was going to the next class, I hadn't realized it was lunch." I look pointedly at my female companion. She smiles unabashed.
I turn my gaze back to the black haired girl and hold out my hand. "Nice to meet you."
She stares at it as if it were an alien probe.
I frown and drop my hand.
I glance to the other two at the table. The two that have remained silence stare at me. One has brown hair cropped to her shoulders. She isn't terribly beautiful but has a gentle presence. As our eyes make contact she smiles. It's a warm smile that I can't but help but return wholeheartedly.
She breaks gaze and looks down at her desk.
The final girl has long pale grey hair that has had the fringe trimmed and eyes just as odd that try to hide behind glasses. She has a very calm and neutral expression on her face, but her eyes fail to guard her emotions. She is clearly curious about the new transfer student.
Somehow, a casual glance has turned into an unspoken staring contest. The girls eyes begin to become glassy. I blink on purpose, and she follows suit, her eyes momentarily fluttering. Who says I can't be kind now and then?
I smile and stick out my hand towards her.
"Nice to meet you," I say with honesty.
She reaches for my hand and gives it a light shake. "Himuro Kane," she says with a calm and steady voice.
I smile and turn my gaze to the brown haired girl sitting behind the desk. "And you are?" I press.
"...Saegusa Yukika." She speaks her name in a small voice.
I consider offering my hand, but she looks as though she'd all but faint if I did.
I glance back to the first girl. She is looking at me with clear irritation. "It was nice to meet you all." I glance back at Risa and smile. "I'm going to head back to the classroom, that's where we have the next class, isn't it?"
She laughs and nods.
"You're sneaky," I inform her and turn away.
"Hey, what about me?" The black haired girl demands from behind my back.
I pause in step and glance back. "What about you?" I ask lightly.
She glares. "Aren't you going to ask my name?" She asks sourly.
"I guess I could." I turn back and face her.
I grin victoriously. "Nice to meet you Kaede-chan."
She maintains my gaze for a moment before turning away and "You too," she says in a subdued voice.
I laugh lightly. "See you later," I say my good byes and turn to leave.
"What a weirdo!" Kaede says as I step out of the classroom. "Why'd you bring a guy like him here?" she complains to presumably Risa.
If I had to do a comparison, Makidera Kaede would be Kiba, Saegusa Yukika would be Hinata, and Himuro Kane would be Shino.
I chortle to myself as I retrace the path that brought me to the classroom. Team 8 exists in a different, all female form. The thought keeps a smile on my face.
With happy thoughts present, I allow my feet to lead me. In the end they lead me away from the classroom, and up towards the third floor, and then, further up to a non-existent fourth floor. The staircase leads to an open door and a cold breeze.
The cold winter air buffets me as I step out onto the roof. It's not entirely unpleasant, and it's empty, devoid of students.
I absently walk to the edge of the roof and take in the schoolyard. Students are going about their lunches, talking in groups, sitting by themselves, or heading to their next destination. There are groups of five, and more. There are individuals by themselves. There are areas that are empty and those that are full.
And there is someone else on the roof with me.
A black haired girl has appeared on the roof. Whether she was here when I arrived, and I hadn't noticed her, or whether she appeared afterwards, I do not know. She is the same girl that was at the Archery range when I arrived. She has an aloof and unapproachable atmosphere around her.
I step away from the edge of the roof and make my way off the roof. The roof, despite it's large size, and it's lack of students, is now too crowded for both of us to remain. My feet hit the stairs of the stairwell, the winter air seems to weigh heavily on my shoulders. Or perhaps it is simply the constant drain that is leaving me feeling unpleasantly burdened.
The students part as I walk, whether out of conscious decision or unconscious action I'm not sure.
I get off at the second floor and make my way to the classroom where 'World History' was 'taught' to 'me'. I arrive at the classroom and am greeted to a less than full room. There are a few students sitting around, mostly girls. I make my way to the seat I had been given by Taiga and sit down.
I am beginning to remember how little I enjoyed being in class back when I was younger. When I would ditch class and simply go and watch the clouds float by in the sky.
I could do that.
I could disappear from here, and return to the temple.
I could lay down on the temple steps and stare at the sky.
I could watch the clouds float away, watch day turn into night and watch as the stars light up the darkness.
But, I don't think I will.
I want to meet new people.
I want to make new memories.
I want to feel the happiness that comes from interacting with another soul without steel or fist.
Maybe I even want to hold someone's naked body against mine.
Or maybe I want to do all of those things at once.
As I wonder about what I want students begin to filter back into the classroom. Unfamiliar faces and familiar ones begin to appear.
Someone pokes my head.
I glance to the front of the desk and the blonde haired school girl known as Risa is prodding me with her finger. "Are you okay?" she asks and smiles once she has my attention. "You seem a little spaced out," she informs me.
"Just thinking," I explain to her.
"If you think too hard you'll just get a headache," she says with a grin and brushes her hair over her ear. "You should try to keep an open mind," she says with cheer.
"If you open your mind too much your brain will fall out," I retort without considering my words.
Which is odd.
Not that I didn't consider what I was saying, that is common.
What is odd is that I've never known that phrase.
So why do I know it?
Risa stares at me in mild surprise, and a light laugh falls from her lips.
"That's a good one," she praises me. "Where did you read it?"
I shrug my shoulders. "I can't remember," I answer honestly.
She doesn't seem to believe me, but she lets it go.
"You could of stayed you know," she says after a few moments. "Maki-chan might have been a bit rude but she asked a few questions about you after you left." Risa seems to be trying to tease me.
"What did she want to know?" I ask.
Risa waves her hand dismissively. "This and that," she brushes the question off.
The bell rings.
A few seconds pass.
The door to the classroom opens and Taiga strolls into the room in apparent high spirits.
The students begin to sit down and stop talking.
"I had a good lunch," she informs the class happily. She talks to the class, and soon enough without boundary the class starts. She begins to write on the board as she talks, the sound of chalk against the black board fills the room, the constant scratching of short strokes.
Without warning she spins around and points towards the back row.
Specifically to the window side.
Where I am sitting.
"Namikaze-kun!" She declares. "Read this!" She steps aside and reveals a board full of writing.
I open my mouth.
"Ah, stand up!" She cuts me off and commands.
I scratch my cheek and stand up, before I begin to recite the words on the board as I do she looks on with apparent delight that turns to surprise. By the time I'm finished she grins and claps happily. "Very good!" she praises me. "Where did you learn English?"
"English?" I echo.
I glance at the board again.
There is an odd language on it that I understand. I understand it because it is a common language these days that is used around the world. The Holy Grail implanted it in my mind when it summoned me.
"I dunno," I answer after a few moments and laugh it off.
She accepts my answer and claps her hands lightly. "Very impressive still," she continues to praise. She pauses and a look of consideration appears on her face. She turns around and begins to clear off the black board. As soon as she is finished she begins to write again.
"Read this one," she instructs me.
I do so.
The words flow off my tongue as though it were a natural language. But then, I speak Japanese with the same fluency. A language that didn't exist during the time of my life. A language that holds no ties to the one I spoke when I was alive.
For the eternity that I've existed as Alaya's sword I cannot remember ever speaking, words ever leaving my lips since the approach of The White Beast. I was summoned, and I knew what to do. There was no exchange of information outside of awareness.
By the time I am finished reciting the words on the board Taiga is staring at me in barely restrained glee.
"That's very impressive, Namikaze-kun!" she exclaims in the odd language.
"Thank you, Fujimura-sensei," I reply and the language that passes from my lips changes.
Taiga's eyes narrow.
"How are you finding the school so far?" She asks me with a victorious grin.
"It's fun," I respond. "It's been fun meeting new people."
Taiga's lips part in surprise.
The rest of the class looks at me with a strange look. Even Risa who is sitting in front of me has a look of disbelief.
And suddenly she bursts into life.
"Amazing!" she gushes. "You have a very good handle on your languages. You don't seem to need this class at all." She is giddy, and suddenly. She frowns, and ponders and pouts. "You don't need my class," she whines.
The exuberant Tiger is suddenly depressed.
"Fujimura-sensei," I begin to say awkwardly, I glance around the room and after a moment of concentration speak in English. "A student always needs a teacher, right?"
She continues to sulk.
"And Fujimura-sensei is a good teacher, so..." I trail off, unsure of what to say. It's be even more awkward to say 'Because you're the teacher, and I like you I want to come to class'.
She sniffs in an exaggerated fashion. "You're so nice, Namikaze-kun," she glances at the rest of the class and turns her nose up. "I wish everyone could be as nice as you." The majority of the class looks uncomfortable.
Ahh, the final attack of a wounded Tiger.
A lance of pain erupts in my chest and pierces through my lungs and a rush of memories flood my mind along with a spike of energy. I gasp for breath and clutch my chest.
The Clone has been dispelled. Or in this case 'killed'.
In this case by Master.
The deception lasted a while, but it was eventually caught out.
The last memory of the clone I had left to guard the gate was the look of barely hidden anger that Master had on her visible face along with the sudden lack of air in my lungs, and lung sin my chest, and chest in general.
"Are you okay?!" Someone touches me upon the shoulder. I look up suddenly in response and the hand disappears.
Issei stands beside me with a look of concern on his face.
"M'fine," I mumble under my breath.
I glance to the head of the classroom to a worried looking Taiga.
I smile embaressly. "Do you think I could go outside for a breath of fresh air, Fujimura-sensei?"
Taiga nods silently and seems to resist the urge to approach me by herself.
"Thanks Issei," I say with a smile, slip around the desk, and quickly make my way out of the classroom.
The moment the door closes behind me I rush towards the staircase and head towards the roof. As soon as my foot fits the concrete roof I tear a chunk of my energy off and mold it into another clone. A replica of myself appears in front of me. I give it a once over to make sure it looks the part and then send it back to class.
I run towards the edge of the building, towards the direction of Ryuudou Temple and jump into the air.
As I do I shed my physical form and revert to a spiritual entity, as I do I fly through the air, back towards the gate, where Master is waiting.