Chapter 2: Keep your friends close keep your enemies closer

It's been about two weeks now, since Zoe moved to the school. She now knows who's who, and how to deal with people here. It was a pretty easy stay just as Bakuryu said.

But outside of school, she hated it. She lived in a one-bedroom apartment, with her father. They had to live there; it was all they could afford. "We'll get a better house soon, you'll see Cookie.. When…." Her father would always say.

And what comes after the 'when' changes every time, "When I get a better job" or "when my boss gives me a raise" or "Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah"

Anyways, she didn't have to stay in that stuffy apartment so things were all right.

It was Tuesday, macaroni and cheese Tuesday. Zoe had met up with Alice, Bakuryu, and Uriko after class, and headed for the cafeteria.

They each had a plastic tray in their hands as they stood in line. Bakuryu was talking to a spaced out Uriko. And Alice was yakking non stop. Thinking that Zoe was actually listening.

"Uh huh" Zoe nodded, deciding that it was about time to make a sound that indicates that she's listening.

The turn was finally in them. "Here you go sweetheart" Mitsuko the lunch lady said with a kind smile, slopping a pile of yellow goo onto Zoe's plate.

And Mitsuko was a very large muscular tomboyish women. She had very short red hair. And although on the outside she looked like a scary and impatient hotheaded lady. She was actually the total opposite, with a warm heart and kind woman.

"She used to have a daughter also named Uriko, right?" Zoe asked Alice as they settled at one of the tables.

"Yup" Alice nodded flopping across from Zoe.

"What did you say happened to her?" Zoe asked, struggling to pull her fork out of the grabby goo.

Alice played with her spoon, "Well I don't really know.. Just that she died about a year and a half ago, I think it was some kind of freak accident" she said thinking.

"I heard that the accident happened, when they were experimenting on this Uriko girl, she had some kind of disease or something" Bakuryu said with a mouth full of food.

"I think she was a gone-wrong Zoanthrope" Uriko added.

Alice peered at them annoyed, she hated when other people had more information, roomers, or gossip than her.

Because, as you may not know, Alice IS the gossip and roomer center of the school. She knows everything about everything, and nothing about nothing. She could easily become a reporter or detective if she wanted to. It was really useful to be with a girl like her.

"I think the accident or something, involves Uranus-Sama somehow" Bakuryu said, pointing his spoon at Zoe.

But that was more than Alice could handle, "Is there anything else that I don't know.. Like maybe Zoe's a guy, and the earth is actually flat?" Alice exploded.

"I don't think so" Bakuryu answered simply, taking another spoon of his food.

Alice slumped back ticked off. Zoe just sighed, things like this happen almost every day.

At that moment, Yugo, Nagi, and Shina walked past Zoe +Gang's table. Alice immediately perked up. Incase you don't know, Alice is actually second year age. but due to being in the hospital for five moths, she flunked that year and remained in first year. And she has a major crush on Yugo.

"Oh hi Alice" Yugo smiled naively.

"H-hi" Alice smiled shyly, and Alice is NOT a shy person.

"Hi Zoe!" Shina shouted smiling widely.

"You know Zoe?" Bakuryu asked curiously.

"Yeah she's a friend of mine!" Shina said sitting next to Zoe and wrapping an arm around her shoulder, "Aren't you squirt? She added playfully.

Zoe frowned and didn't answer, Bakuryu is never going to live this down.

"we met at the Thai Boxing class, she actually showed me a move or two" Shina continued, not noticing the dark cloud of shame hovering over Zoe, "Well I have to go fill my stomach so you kids have fun" Shina added jumping up and walking away with her two pals.

….

"You are SO lucky Zoe.. You're friends with on of the coolest girls in the school!" Alice exclaimed, leaning across the table and poking Zoe in the shoulder.

"Yeah Squirt you're the pet of the co…." Bakuryu was saying before he started choking on an apple Zoe stuffed down his throat at the speed of light.

Next was marshal arts class. It was another class all the students had to take. Zoe and her friends walked in together.

"Okay.. Today we're going to have a pop quiz.. You're all going fight each other.. hahahaha!" Shen-Sensei said in a high-pitched voice, before laughing at his own joke.

The students exchanged laughing looks. "So anyway.. Let's just start okay… first two, Reiji and Zoe.. C'mon you two"

The two stepped into the circle that disables their ability to Beast.

"I'm going to rip you apart" Reiji taunted.

"Bring it on canary boy" Zoe smirked at him.

"Okay you two… start fighting" Shen-Sensei grinned.

Reiji was the first to charge. He kicked continuously trying to land a hit on Zoe, but she was fast enough to evade them all. At one point upon seeing an opening, Zoe ducked a kick and then elbowed Reiji in the side. He stumbled forward.. He turned around with daggers in his eyes, "Why you little…"

He didn't complete the sentence when Zoe took the liberty to attack first. She charged at him lifting her fist, but just as Reiji lifted his arms like an X in front of his chest, Zoe changed her attack, spinning around and kicking him with all her might.

Reiji was forced back some distance, but he didn't fall over.

….

Reiji moved his hands to see why Zoe didn't attack again, he saw her sanding confidently, smirking. He knotted his brows, why isn't she attacking?

"The winner.. Zoe! Good job kid" Shen-Sensei shouted.

"What?" Reiji protested confused.

Zoe continued smirking as she pointed down, Reiji eyes quickly shot down. Then he saw why he had lost, Zoe had pushed him with her kick a few inches out of the circle, causing him to lose.

He glared at her, but she simply walked over to her friends, high-fiving one of them. "Reiji! What are you in coma? Get back to the line" the teacher said.

Reiji did as he said. "Hmm Next Alice and Bakuryu"

The two exchanged a brief look before stepping forward. They stood in the circle face to face. "I'm not going easy on you" Alice said smiling challengingly getting into fight stance.

"I'm counting on that" Bakuryu smiled back.

"Fight!"

Alice charged at Bakuryu punching many times, but he took all her hits with his arms.. He saw an opening and took it, grabbing onto both of Alice's hands, swinging on them and through her legs, then jumping on her back.

Although falling on her face like that was usually enough for Alice to quit a fight, she was determined not to loose against her younger brother. She quickly jumped back to her feet. She ducked a kick and a punch from Bakuryu, then started her counter attack.

Alice stepped back waiting for an opening to appear, and when Bakuryu failed to kick her she quickly started punching and kicking him continuously. Although he was able to avoid a few punches, he was no match to Alice's quick combos. She finished the fight as she jumped back to take a deep breath, then jumped up flipping forward in the air and kicking Bakuryu in the head. She then bent over backwards, kicking Bakuryu in the chest and face.

Bakuryu stumbled back feeling dizzy but that didn't stop Alice. She punched him in the chest: left hand, right hand, whipped around, left hand again.

Bakuryu stumbled back, then fell onto his back feeling exhausted.

Alice bent down looking at her brother, "Was I too rough?" she asked innocently.

"Good fight good fight you two" Shenlong nodded, " But let's move on.. Okay next.. Zach and Uriko"

The two stepped out; "H-hii Uriko" the boy smiled shyly blushing.

Uriko just lifted her sleeve-covered hands up, ready to fight, shifting from foot to foot.

"Begin!"

"Haaaaaa" Uriko yelled, charging at Zach.

"UH?" was what Zach said, before Uriko twirled punching him in the cheek.

He fell back, moaning.

"You get her brother" Sora cheered from the line.

But Zach just looked over at his twin nervously, how is he supposed to hit the girl he li…..

His train of thought was cut off as Uriko charged at him. His mind went blank as he saw the girl jump towards him, trying to hit him. Out of an automatic defense mechanism, he lifted his knees to his chest, then sprung them out just as Uriko pounced.. Lifting her into the air and flipping her onto her back some distance out of the circle.

"Me~ow" Uriko yelled as she flew into the air and across the room. Reminding the students of a cat being catapulted.

"Good job brother!" Sora exclaimed.

But Zach's brain was working over time, he just flipped the girl he likes across the room.. That isn't good… definitely not good.

"Are you alright?" Alice hurried over to the dizzy girl.

Uriko sat on her knees and held her head, "Me… owwww" she moaned.

Suddenly she heard a beeping sound. She froze then cautiously put her hand in her pocket.. When it came out, it had a crumpled thing of pink and white metal pieces and colored wires.

Zoe walked up to the two girls. They were frozen, "what's that?" Zoe asked pointing at the garbage in Uriko's hands.

At the beginning, she received no answer. Then suddenly Uriko began panicking, "Oh no.. Oh no.. Oh no, oh no, oh no.."

"What? What happened?" Zoe asked Uriko.

"I think that used to be her cell-phone" Alice said putting her finger on her lip.

"Hey! What do you think you are doing?" they suddenly heard the teacher call, "Get back in line" he ordered.

The three girls quickly did as he said, Uriko cupping the fragile shattered pieces of her dr.. Cell-phone.

"Now that we're through with the drama.. We can get back to the fights" Shenlong sighed, "Next.. Hana and Koji"

A girl with short black hair covering her left eye stepped out; she was wearing first year uniform.

"Well well if it isn't stink flower" Reiji called out from the line.

The girl glared at him silently. A boy with a colorful Mohawk hairdo stood across from her, he was wearing second year uniform.

The battle ended with the girl winning the fight.

"Nice job, Hana this is your third victory this week right?" Shen-Sensei cheered.

The girl didn't answer. "Anyway.. Do we have enough time for another battle" the teacher hummed thoughtfully looking at the clock, it was five to four, "Well.. There's only 5 minutes left so.. Class dismissed"

'Whoo's of joy spread through the groups of students as they crowded at the exit. But not Uriko she was still worried about her cell.

"It's alright Uriko.. you can buy a new one" Zoe said in a compassionate voice.

"No~ you don't understa~nd" Uriko whimpered.

They walked out of the class and met up with Bakuryu, "Hey guys.. Uriko what's with the long face?"

"She broke her cell-phone" Alice explained.

"Oh"

"Don't tell my Mommy oka~y?" Uriko begged.

"Why are you so afraid of your mother?" Zoe huffed annoyed, as she headed with the rest to gates.

"She's very sca~ry" Uriko explained.

The other two kinda giggled. "Hey Zoe if you really want to understand you can meet her" Alice suggested.

Zoe turned to her with a confused look on her face. "Me and Bakuryu are going over today, you can come along" Alice explained standing at the gate.

Zoe turned to Uriko a questioning look in her eyes, she nodded with a wide stupid grin on her face, meaning it was okay. Zoe looked at the street; her house is the opposite direction from theirs… but the thought of being stuck in that stuffy apartment quickly made her decision.

"Sure" she shrugged.

Uriko, Bakuryu and Alice lived in a very quiet, beautiful neighborhood. Zoe looked around her with mild interest as the approached a peach house.

"Our house is that one" Alice said pointing to house down the street.

Zoe nodded casually as she followed Uriko.

"We're here" Uriko said pushing the front door of her house open.

Her house was a middle middle class area by the way; Zoe quickly glanced at it before following Uriko in.

"URIKOOO!" she heard a large voice call from inside.

A woman as large as her voice came hurrying down the hall. She was… big, but well dressed, with make up, an up hair do and nice purple clothing. Her hair was black by the way, unlike her daughter.

She grabbed her daughter, and crushed her with her hug, "I missed you SO much kitten" she squealed.

"Mo..m" Uriko wheezed unable to free herself from her mothers grip.

The woman backed up a little but didn't let go of her daughter just yet. She held the girl by the shoulders and took a good look at her, "My O' my.. You're as skinny as a rake kitten, what have you been eating? Soya beans?"

Then she peeked over Uriko's shoulder to see Zoe, "And who's that? A new friend?" she said releasing her daughter to move onto Zoe. She squeezed the petite girl tight.

Zoe felt the air escape her lungs as the woman squeezed. She looked over at Bakuryu and Alice with a pleading look, but they just smiled at her with amusement.

Finally, the woman released her to hurry into the kitchen; she came back holding a large plate full of cookies. She walked over to her daughter and stuffed about three in her mouth, "Do you like them my sweet kitten?"

Uriko nodded nervously, so her mother smiled contented as she stuffed cookies in the other threes' mouths.

"Um Mrs. Nekoko, is Grandpa Iwao here?" Alice asked swallowing the cookies.

"Yes he's in the living room, on the sofa.. Like usual" she answered heading back for the kitchen.

Alice headed for another room. Zoe turned to Bakuryu, "Who's Grandpa Iwao?" she asked.

"Oh he's Uriko's grandfather from the mother's side, he's also a Zoanthrope, the badger" he said.

Zoe nodded.

"Children.. I made dinner, would you like to join us?" Uriko's mother called from the kitchen.

"No thanks Mrs. Nekoko, me and Alice will be eating at home tonight" Bakuryu said back.

"How about you darling?" Mrs. Nekoko turned to Zoe.

Zoe looked at her watch, her father won't be home for another three hours, and the food really does smell good, "If you wouldn't mind?" she said politely.

"No of course not! I'll go set you a plate" she said from the kitchen.

"Okay well we'll be leaving now" Alice called out as she stepped out of the living-room and slipped her shoes on.

With her hands in her pockets, and a dull look in her eyes, Zoe watched Alice and Bakuryu leave. Uriko came running down the stares; she pulled Zoe by the hand, "C'mo~n" she tugged her along, "Come see my ro~om" she dragged Zoe up the stares.

Zoe walked into a room; the dullest to say about it is that it's very fluffy. Pink, white, and baby-blue where the three main colors in the design of the room. Uriko plopped herself on her fuzzy pink bed.

Zoe sat on a chair as she looked around the room. "Do you believe me now? You saw that my mom is very scary" Uriko said nodding for no reason, "Meow" she whispered lowly.

Zoe stared at her blankly; she'd rather not go down that road. Uriko yakked non-stop until her mother called the two girls down for dinner.

Zoe enjoyed a nice dinner with Uriko's family. By the time they were finshed it was 7:30 a half an hour after sundown.

"Are you sure you don't want me to walk you home?" Uriko offered again at the front door.

Zoe nodded, "Don't worry I'm a strong girl" she said winking at her.

"Ye~eh" Uriko hummed with a smile.

"Well you should get inside before your mother gets worried.. see ya' tomorrow" Zoe waved goodbye.

She slowly walked away from the quiet neighborhood, her hands in her pockets. Slowly walking through the darker back alleys Zoe started to feel worried, but she shook her head in attempt to reassure her self. She knew she was strong, not just anyone could defeat her.

She sighed her house was still very far away, it's going to take her too long to get home at this rate. Her father might get home before her, if so she's going to be listening to lectures for about three hours.

Her sharp ears suddenly caught a weird sound. She headed towards the source of it. Zoe put her back to the alley wall and peered around the corner, she saw three guys and one girl with reddish hair. Zoe squinted as she tried to see the girl better.

She nearly gasped but she quickly put her hand on her mouth, it was Nagi.. She was in trouble. Zoe looked back at Nagi, one boy had her pinned to the wall holding her hands over her head with one arm, and clasping her mouth shut with the other.

They were all eyeing her in a weird way. Zoe looked away for a moment to take a deep breath and gather her courage, then she jumped into the alley, "Hey!" she shouted grabbing the attention of all three boys.

They turned to her, and then exchanged laughing looks. Zoe smirked confidently; she knew she could take them down.

Two of the boys headed towards her, grinning evilly. "Fresh meet" one of them said looking over at his friend.

Zoe took a step back, and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes, centering her thoughts. Suddenly her eyes shot open. She glared at the two boys taking a fighting position. The two smirked belittlingly as they started cornering her.

Zoe jumped back, then bounced front sinking her foot in man #1's stomach. She then twirled around causing her firm fist to come in contact with the second man's cheek. The black haired teen jumped back again glaring at her two enemies.

She was about to attack again when the the man holding Nagi suddenly yelled, "That's enough!"

Zoe whipped around to see him holding a knife to Nagi's throat, "Do you want her to get hurt?" he added firmly.

Zoe hesitated and that was more than enough for one of the men to attack her from behind. He bond her arms with hands like clamps. Zoe started struggling but quickly received a blow to the back of the neck. She fell to her knees, her head filling dizzy and her hands feeling numb.

Suddenly a shadow fell over her, she forced her dizziness aside so she'd be able to defend herself. But suddenly she saw a hand extended at her, she looked up with surprise as she heard a voice say in a casual tune, "Need help?"

Nagi was standing over her, not smiling, but not frowning either. Zoe took the hand gratefully as she looked behind Nagi's shoulder. The man that was once pinning Nagi, was now lying on the floor, unconscious and beaten-up. The shorter girl smirked; "Should we finish them off?" she said dusting her cloths.

She didn't receive an answer as the she turned to the other two guys. At that moment they both pulled out knives. Zoe knotted her brows, as did the icicle standing next to her, weapons change the equation. Hand to hand combat is one thing, but weapons are almost cheating.

Zoe took a deep breath one idea settling in her mind, she turned to Nagi with a determent smirk appearing on her lips the red head smirked back. Apparently, they were thinking about the same thing.

"Bring it on!" Zoe shouted with a smile, as she focused her energy.

"Let's finish this" Nagi murmured doing the same.

Zoe was enveloped in a pale lavender like light, two seconds later Nagi was in a red one. The light cleared to reveal a gray mouse and a half red Nagi.

"Oh no they're Zoanthropes!" one of the two remaining men yelled in fear.

"Run for your life!" the other added a mask of sheer terror on his face.

But it was too late. Zoe was the first to act, jumping the large distance separating her from the men with one pounce. She landed on the back of the first of the two, smashing his face to the ground and causing blood to gush out of his nose.

Then using his body as a springboard, she jumped, flipping in the air and landing in front of the second man.

"Please don't kill me" the man pleaded tumbling back.

Of course, the mouse did not answer, but instead she twirled around kicking him in the gut, sending him flying back, and falling on top of his partner. The two men pushed each other frantically not accomplishing anything in particular by doing that.

Suddenly they stopped in fear as a large red sword settled in front of their faces, "Leave.. Now" an icy voice ordered with a semi-metallic twang.

Without any objection, the two jumped to their feet and scurried away, leaving their third partner behind.

"Ehe hahaha" Zoe giggled with amusement after turning back to her human form.

Nagi didn't change her expression as she threw her arm to the side, instantly turning back with a brief flash of light.

Zoe walked over to her as she asked, "What did those men want?"

"What do you think?" Nagi responded coldly as she fixed her red leather, fingers off gloves.

"Hey your jacket is ripped" Zoe pointed out.

"I noticed that" Nagi answered with a slight glare.

Zoe, thankfully, was still wearing Busuzima's school uniform. So she was okay. "You didn't have to beast, I could've taken them my self" Zoe added, making sure nothing was wrong with her cloths.

Nagi glanced at her briefly, as she pondered the weirdness of this girl. "Well your fighting isn't that bad" Nagi said, breaking her strict rule of no commenting.

Zoe realized that as well, so Nagi smirked at her from the side as she headed her own way.

"No hard feelings?" Zoe yelled behind her.

"See ya around.. Zoe" Nagi said back, in a somehow warm voice.

And with that Zoe knew that she had made a new ally. It wasn't a friendship, but she could live with it.