Disclaimer: I own nothing. At all. Not even this disclaimer.

Hey everybody. Y'all are probably pissed off at me for my very, very, very, very late chapter update – can't exactly blame you for that reaction. I'd have been annoyed too. But here I am, back from the crap life's flung at me for the past few months, back to finish this story with renewed interest and inspiration.

But in case you all want to know what's been happening, I'll tell you a bit. A girlfriend… an ex-girlfriend, I should say now. It was fun at first but then it got crazy towards the end. I don't like having to talk my way out of a potential arrest, especially when I didn't do a damn thing.

I just wanted to drink. She wanted to drink and shout and get kicked out of a club just so she could fight some other drunken chick.

Ugh… whatever. It's all done now.

Anyways, I'm back and no, the fic isn't dead yet. I plan on writing many more chapters – the next should be complete in a few days, life notwithstanding.

-AWP-

To Be Prepared

Chapter Two: A Leaf on the Wind

6:29:58 A.M.—

Komuro Family Home; Tokyo Prefecture; Tokyo, Japan…

*BZZZT! BZZZT! BZZZT!*

My eyes flutter open and I can just make out the faint silhouette of the red LED numbers on my alarm clock. I groan in protest as force myself further awake, my body echoing my mental dissents as soreness impedes my rising movements. It seems that last night's run was a little more high-spirited than was normal.

Makes sense, I suppose. There was a lot of traffic last night...

No matter, I tell myself silently. Its 6:30 am: time to get up and get ready for the day, Takashi. Half-heartedly stifling my yawn, I roll out of bed and move across my room to the source of the annoying buzzing and turn it off. It's a damn shame that I had to place it so far, but then if I could reach it so easily, I'd never get awake on time. And that wouldn't be good as my standing with Fujimi High's faculty already wasn't on the up and up. No reason at all to add tardiness to my laundry list of academic "shenanigans," as they like to call it.

I sighed as I began to stretch, feeling the tightness in my body that was practically old-hat as of late as well as the cool swirling of air that my ceiling fan provided wicking over my nude body. Yes, I sleep in the nude. That's not a problem, is it? No? Well alright then…

Next I started my morning ritual: push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. Roughly a hundred or so of each… nothing heavy, just something to get the blood flowing. The whole thing takes roughly an hour and now I'm half awake and reeking.

Of excellence, not BO. That's what after-ritual showers are good for preventing.

As usual, I blast the water as cold as possible, yelping a bit loudly as it hits me like a punch to the gut. I soak and abuse myself for about half a minute, just enough to really kick start my brain. Good, now I'm both angry and wide awake. Gritting my teeth now, I quickly turn the hot water nozzle and I am rewarded for my morning endurance trials with a shower at body temperature, making me sigh in pleasure. After that, I lather, scrub, rinse, and dry, stepping out shower feeling clean and ready to conquer the day.

After I brush, of course. Can't forget them choppers; never know when I'll need them for something.

A few minutes later, towel wrapped around my waist, I walk back into my room, close the door, and lay back on my bed, staring up at my ceiling – my picture covered ceiling. Most of them are from the "good times," the years when I was just a kid and the world seemed so much brighter and easier to understand; a life without highschool and the drama that comes with it.

I'm in most of the pictures, smiling goofily in all my gawky glory. Rei's in a lot of them too, her strawberry-blonde hair shorter and her body appearing somewhat coltish, nothing like nowadays. But she was happy then, not a mean bone in her body. Innocent is the word that comes to mind. I was fortunate to be one of her first male friends too, and we hung out as often as we could back in the day. And hell, things were great, right up until our first term as sophomores, when both elected to repeat the year for two vastly different reasons.

Namely, she wanted to be with Hisashi and I just wanted to be close to her. I snorted. "Fat lot of good that did, huh?" I mutter aloud.

I'm not bitter. I got what I wanted. Sort of. Most of Rei's classes are my own as well; we spend loads of time doing the same things we did the year before. Unfortunately, a grey-haired asshole freshman-turned-sophomore had the same luck. Irony has got to be a cosmic force in the universe, somewhere on the order of power between gravity and the Strong Nuclear Force, the thing that keeps atoms together. And my teachers sa I never learn anything… jerks.

My eyes drift around the collage of memories, identifying people and places.

There's Tagaki Saya, my other pinkish-blonde-haired friend, the one who's too smart for her own good. I shake my head at that. No, not too smart, I correct myself, rather we're too dumb for our good. At least in regards to her. She's got the usual issues that geniuses seem to have when they are forced to remain in their fellows' level on the academic ladder, which was a rather deviously-maternal move on her mom's part. Mrs. Tagaki wanted her to have friends first before college; I guess she didn't like the idea of a mentally proficient yet socially-retarded daughter around hundreds of sexually-active men.

Too bad that progress was going slow on that front. Oh well, Saya's doing fine right now if a touch to scathing and patronizing in conversation. She had friends, myself included, and she didn't care overmuch about the social standing of her peers, again, using myself as an example. I just wish that she could smile more, which I have only one picture of her doing.

Lucky me.

I see Urameshi Morita in a handful of my photos and I can't help but laugh. He's one of my oldest friends and when I got hung up on my interests in all things zombie, he never distanced himself nor denied our friendship. Good man, you can hardly find loyalty like that anymore. Of course, being a teenager himself, he also has his own brand of weirdness, which is the reason for my amusement.

Take a scrawny, normal-looking guy and give him a few years of guitar lessons, courtesy of his older brother. Then, get him three tickets to the then-upcoming concert of some foreign punk-rock band – Limp Bizkit – and have him bring his buddy – me – and his brother – who was our visibly-reluctant chaperone – and brace for the amusement that ensues. He was blushing when he got his guitar signed by the lead singer! Blushing… like an anime school girl in front of her longtime crush! Want to see him sputter in embarrassment: bring it up in conversation. Want insta-rage: call his favorite band "Flaccid Biscuit." Its freaking hysterical!

But that's the tip of the iceberg, as the Americans are fond of saying. Fred Durst as an idol for a barely post-pubescent kid. Picture that for a moment in your head… laughing yet? The horror… the hilarity… the sheer abundance of verbal ammunition in any argument we get into…

Glorious.

Anyway, Morita – from '03 up till today – sports blonde hair, a faux hawk, and an urge to sing on a stage in a rock band. More power to him, although his singing voice is more annoying and grating then five cats fighting six cats at 3:00 in the morning outside your window. That aside, his guitar skills are amazing, damn near the level of the legendary guitar icon, Izumi Ochiai, of the 80's band, AION. If you've never heard of them, check it out on Youtube.

Yeah, he's that kind of good.

I also spot Oda Imamura up there, too, and my mirth slows to a wistful smile. Imamura's… well… he's something of a stoner now. A wannabe bad boy, a sometime hooligan of Fujimi High. We, meaning myself and Morita, kinda lost touch with him after he found his first joint and was hooked onto it. We used to have some good times, but now he's more interested in earning quick, easy cash selling weed and cigarettes behind the school. He hasn't gotten caught… yet. But when he does, the authorities will come for me and Morita, simply by being his friends.

Oh well, cross that bridge when I come to it. A pity Imamura's not going to college with the rest of us. He's pretty smart and outrageously-funny when he's baked out of his gourd.

Hirano Kohta's the newest edition to my handful of friends. No seriously, I have like five friends, period. Saya, Imamura, Morita, Kohta… um, Hisashi? Nope, uh uh, not even close anymore, ever! So yeah, make that four friends now, because I don't even know where to classify Rei anymore. And no, she's not my crush. You'll never hear me admit to something like that so drop it.

Back to my stocky friend… Kohta's a weird one, which is saying something when it comes from me, the "zombie kid" of Fujimi High. He likes guns… a lot. And from the detailed analysis he can submit for each weapon – on the freaking spot, I should add – I know that he has experience with them.

And that scares me. Seriously, I've woken up in a cold sweat at night after witnessing him getting harassed by our fellow students. All I can think about in the moments, aside from how bad I'm shaking in my sheets, is that I'm one of his friends and maybe that's enough to save me the day his saintly patience finally breaks. Make no mistake, it pays to befriend the quiet kids – it may even save your life one day.

"Hmmm," I hum aloud, feeling my face curl into a frown of confusion. "What is this strange sense of foreboding?"

Odd that…

I sighed again – I've been doing that a lot today, huh? – and glanced to my alarm. I froze and my face paled at the time.

8:03 A.M.

Classes start at 8:30 A.M.

Oh

Oh shit. I am going to be late.

"FUCK!" I yell, scrambling to get my cloths on and cursing myself for my idleness.

Pants on… check. Screw underwear at this point; it's not like I haven't "free-balled" before.

Sock and shoes… check. Shirt, over and under… check. Book bag with homework, books, and toolkit… check, check, and check. Cell phone, fully charged and in my pocket… check

I'm ready to go in under five minutes… which would be cool if I WASN'T going to be late!

"Fuck my life," I mutter as I dash down the stairs, having to double back for the bag lunch my mother left for me hours ago. I close the front door and lock it, wiggling the knob to test it before I sprint up the road.

Okay, considering that I've been seriously running for around two years now, I figure I can make it to school in around twenty-five minutes if I take no stops and run flat out. If I try for the train, it'll take another five to ten. However, I could make first bell if I were to take the shortcut…

Its tempting, very tempting, but only if there are no police around to stop me. They tend to get a little peeved when some teenage parkour nut runs around Tokyo like a kid on the jungle-gym. They also get angry because they can't catch said parkour nut due to the vast differences in speed, agility, and… well, I'll just say it, craziness between them. Most won't make a serious attempt at catching one, but they will follow just in case said parkour nut were to fall and injure himself.

But that won't happen as I… *ahem* …that parkour nut is knows the terrain like the back of his hand.

Ahead of me is an intersection where I'm supposed to make a right and continue down the road for a couple kilometers or so, to make another series of turns, etc. On the right however, a mere twenty meters away is an alleyway enclosed by a cast-iron fence, with numerous spiky protrusions on the top as well as a liner curling back down towards the ground, an attempt to deter people from climbing over… especially teenage parkour nuts.

Decisions, decisions.

I grin as I make my choice and angle towards the alley, increasing my speed and shuddering at the sensation of thousands of tingling points dotting my brow, my neck, and my arms. It's the feeling of excitement, the indicator of adrenaline and endorphins being pumped wholesale into the body in times of danger, stress, or orgasmic pleasure. Currently, I'm feeling the first two, but if I manage not to impale myself…

"I am a leaf on the wind," I intone, my voice as quiet as a whisper. This is my mantra, a quote I memorized from an American movie that really spoke to me. It helps get my mind right, my own person prayer. "WATCH HOW I SOAR!" I roar as I make my leap.

Here's hoping that fate will throw me a bone.

My legs flexed deeply just before I jumped and when I pushed off the ground, I managed to clear a record set by Michael Jordan years and years ago: a one-and-a-half meter vertical leap. Simultaneously, I twist mid-leap until I'm practically inverted and I'm reaching for the bottom curled rungs. I am staring at the sunlit sky. God, I hope I don't eat it. This could really sting…

Success, I'm grasping them tightly and in an instant, my body explodes with tightly-coiled power. My momentum alters my center of gravity up and forward when I throw my legs above my head and push off the rungs with all the strength in my deceptively-strong arms. Now I'm staring wide-eyed as the row of eerily-detailed iron spikes passes beneath me. I cannot draw a breath. I don't have time to.

My feet hit the ground after what feels like an eternity later – mere seconds in reality – and I slip into a rearward roll, uncaring if there's filth on my school uniform. I stop after a single rotation, in crouch that becomes a standing motion. And then I stand there, in awe of myself, disbelieving that what just happened did just happen. It did and I am alive…

"Hot damn, I'm good!" I yell, grinning like a loon as my heart beats wildly. I just performed the greatest act of aerial acrobatics in my entire life… and nailed it. I knew there was a reason I went to those gymnastics classes, aside from those attending females were really very hot. And suddenly, there's a tightness in my pants, a pleasurable rush in my loins.

There's that orgasmic pleasure and it feels sooo good.

I turn around away from my triumph and resume running full out, my mind a rush with smug satisfaction. I'm tearing up and laughing maniacally as I try to picture that prick Hisashi trying to do the same thing… and failing horribly. It occurs to me several minutes later that I probably could've gone around.

I rationalize that by figuring that it wouldn't have been as much fun. Yeah, I'm kinda stupid like that.

Don't judge me.

XXXXXXX

2:04:37 P.M.–

Fushima High School; Tokyo Prefecture; Toyko, Japan…

The sky is a spinning blur and I feel good.

Damn good, like my body's awash in pleasurable numbness while my blood rushes through my veins – I can hear my heart beat and feel it pumping in my fingertips and toes. All but the most immediate of my senses are muddled and I barely note the sharp odor of burning vegetation as I focus on absolute nothingness, imagining a perfect, blissful oblivion and sucking in a great breath. And as I slowly exhale, a puff of bluish-white smoke escapes my lips, evacuating my lungs, and I absently flick the charred remains of my cigarette onto the rooftop, the tobacco all but spent.

It is said that every man needs a vice, something to take the edge of the day off, to break free the mind and soul from the troubles of the world. At least for a time. For me, a stick of nicotine does the trick. Oh sure, it plays hell on my cardio for a couple days afterwards but whatever. I needed something to take my mind off Rei and our rapidly crumbling relationship.

Well, our rapidly crumbling lack of a relationship. The strawberry-blonde girl made that abundantly clear today.

Sometimes I wish that I never held myself back a grade to continue being near her. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like as a junior. Sometimes I…

Meh, it doesn't matter now. "Suck it up, Takashi-man," I say aloud. "You've got this. No problems at all."

But even as I say that, I can still see her making doe-eyes at Hisashi, a look I'd kill have sent my way. But no, not me; to her I'm just a failure, a good-for-nothing non-entity just like my very few friends. All my attempts at conversation with her today seemed to end up with her either yelling at me, giving me that recriminating frown of hers, a few snide comments on how I'm failing myself by cutting class, or any combination of the three.

Rei… my Rei. She just can't seem to remember that we were once close friends, or that Hisashi and I were once pretty tight. Hell, I can count at least five birthdays that either one or both of them attended. So much for good times and friends forever, huh?

I close my eyes as my nicotine buzz dims and I take a slow deep breath of relatively clean air. Funny how I used to think that Rei and I sharing classes was a good thing. Oh well, time passes, people change, and life does go on… even though it has a particularly aggravating habit of kicking me in the balls six-to-eight hours a day, seven days a week.

So yeah, when I can't stand it anymore, when I just need to get away, I usually cut class to hang out with Morita and Imamura. Not today, though. Morita's snoozing in the school's dorms and Imamura's busy being himself. He was generous in bumming me a couple smokes though; usually he sells them at twice the price.

I only smoke when I'm pissed off, no more than a couple Marlboro Smooths a week, if that. A good thing too; anymore and my athletics could suffer a dip in performance. And should the zombie apocalypse really come, that wouldn't be a good thing.

"Yeah but that would be just silly, wouldn't it?" I ask aloud to no one in particular as I sit up from my comfortable headrest near the edge of Fujimi High's roof.

Of course it is. There's as good a chance as me becoming the amorous focus of four hot ladies, with breasts the size of ripe watermelons and curves to spare, than that to ever happen–

"AAAAARGH!"

"The hell?" I mutter, frozen in place as the screaming continued before hopping to my feet in a crouch. Suddenly, the screaming stopped abruptly and another scream, this time from a feminine throat, rips through the air.

The chill of dread crawls my spine and I find myself squinting for some reason. Goosebumps ripple up and down my arms and neck. I flex my tingling hands, wondering why I feel so energized. Then I stand and approach the railing, looking down for the source of the screaming.

Well… uh… holy shit. There's a bunch of red liquid splashed all around down there on the ground near the main gate. Blood, lots and lots of blood. And it's all from one man.

One very, very dead man.

"N-no way," I whisper stupidly as I stare at the bizarre sight.

My brain is unable to process what my eyes are relaying to it. You know that cartoon with the hamster and his damn running wheel? How people sometimes use it as an idiom for conscious thought? Guess what, he's not running. Fuck my life, the furry bastard's taking his smoke break too! And try as I might, even after I keep flicking him on the dome, metaphorically speaking, the little shit's not budging.

So I keep trying…

"Think, Takashi. Think… think… think," I intone, reminding myself to blink once and a while. And to breathe as well. "THINK-THINK-THINK-THINK-THINK!"

I got it.

"What do I see?" I murmur softly, taking refuge in some of the teachings of my Kohta. He used to tell me that when he was in America, he once attended a few days of Blackwater Security training – his dad knew some people and they thought it would be fun since the kid was into weapons. He told me about some of the methods US soldiers use, one in particular called a SALUTE report. It sounds fancy at first, but after the guy explained further, the more it sounded like common sense in acronym format.

Size, Activity, Location, Uniform, Time, and Equipment: combine them all and together you get a reasonably accurate assessment of a situation within sight. So the question is, what do my eyes see?

I see five figures, four males and one female. Three of the men and the woman are huddled around the fourth that appears to have sustained a fatal injury inside of Fujimi High's main gate. As I look closer at the huddled people, I identify the dead man as Teshima-sensei, the school's head coach. Near him and sobbing is Hayashi-sensei, the ping-pong club's advisor and probably the sole female that inspires more lust in the student body than most of the younger girls themselves. The other two guys nearby have their backs turned.

The last man is outside the gate, beating on it like a psychotic, trying to get in. And he's wearing a businessman's suit, oddly enough.

"N-now," I gulp back the sickly feeling in my stomach as I continue to verbalize the situation. Seems the hamster is taking a leak, the lazy rodent. "What is going on?"

It looks like Hayashi-sensei is attending to the recently-deceased Teshima-sensei while the latter two appear to be shitting themselves, literally or not, I can't say. The psycho outside the gate is still flailing away at the iron portal and making this god-awful, reverberating moan that makes me wince and my body shake uncontrollably.

I am now gripping the railing hard enough to whiten my knuckles and I have to force myself to stop panting; I probably look like I did this morning, all sweaty and shit.

Breathe slow Takashi-man, I tell myself. Breathe slow. Breathe deep.

All the while, my eyes are glued to the scene, enraptured at the sight of the first dead man I've ever seen before today. But… something's strange. There's waaay too much blood down there from appears to be a bite to Teshima-sensei's forearm. It's like that one injury evacuated all the life-giving fluid from his body.

My eyes are narrowed in confusion. But that couldn't be right; Fujimi High's coach is a big guy and no little bite could kill him so quickly. Unless he had that wound hours before and was a hemophiliac, or some kind of poisonous animal dosed him with venom, there was just no way in hell. Not even a zombie bite… wait.

A zombie?

The hamster decides that it's time to start running. The little prick.

No. No fucking way…

"No fucking way," I state flatly, shaking my head in disbelieve that such foolishness could ever come from my mouth. "There's no such thing as zombies… It's fiction! Just fiction!"

Zombie fiction, a part of me corrects before I snort in disgust. A man is dead because of some psycho and I'm up here, thinking it's the undead that's killed him. Could I sink any lower? Was Rei right about me all this time?

I swallow my bitterness. I… don't know.

Despite my mental conflicts, the ridiculous idea won't leave my head. Disgust and horror turns into a serious completive attitude and I reach into my coat pocket for myguidebook. Only it's not there. It's gone. I left it back in my room, on my bedside ottoman, miles and miles away.

"Shit." I curse, my mind abuzz with self recriminating thoughts. Then I stop and realize that I've essentially never forgotten my guidebook. Sure, it back in my room but…

I memorized the damn thing by heart! I know its pages word for word. If I wanted to, I could write it out right now and even correct its occasional misspelled words. All I need is to visualize it.

I close my eyes, loosing myself within myself, cutting off all the screams, the moaning, the sunny afternoon day. I can remember the covering, the crossed machete and rifle insignia. I can remember the chapter titles and the sections within. I can remember… everything.

My vision is unforced when I open my eyelids, but I see the books pages clearly. I can practically touch it in the air before me, like some kind of hologram from a sci-fi novel. For the moment, I put aside the novelty of the experience and I mentally thumb through the pages until I find what I'm looking for.

Let's see… Chapter 1, Section 2, on Solanum: The Virus.

/

The host virus, Solanum, works by traveling through the bloodstream, from the initial point of entry to the brain. [Solanum] is 100-percent communicable and 100-percent fatal… only occurs through direct fluidic contact… death-like symptoms… those infected will die… revived within twenty hours unless the brain is too heavily damaged… full frontal lobe conversion… genetic… is not transmittable cross-species…

/

Okay, basically everything seems fits with what I'm seeing except for the symptom cycle which, if I'm judging by when I heard the screaming start and stop, is drastically shorter than what the guidebook details. Unless the late Teshima-sensei was ravaged by a hoard of them, a single zombie bite wouldn't kill that quickly unless he was hurt on a major artery or the neck.

"Oh, thank God! You're alive! I thought we lost you there," I hear Hayashi-sensei shout and I look up from my musings – hallucination, perhaps? – in horror.

It can't be. It's happening way too fast, mere minutes after the bite!

I shout down from the roof, "No! Run away! He's going to kill you!"

The two men hear my cries, pointing and staring at me stupidly while Hayashi-sensei merely looks confused – hot as hell but bewildered as shit. She doesn't even realize that a corpse is pulling itself up by her blouse to inch its teeth closer to her dainty little throat.

"GO NOW!" I'm screaming at her, pointing to her soon-to-be devourer.

My cries go unnoticed as her focus is drawn on me. I watch in shock and disgust as her look of mild disapproval shifts to surprise and then agony. Hayashi-sensei manages to make this drawn out squeal just before her throat is torn out, silencing her forever.

She's still watching me as she is being devoured alive.

I sink to my knees as everything hits me all at once: the blood, the death, the terrible moaning from the zombie at the gate.

I…

I need…

I need to puke…

And so I do until I have nothing left to heave. I really didn't need to see my teriyaki again, I joked internally, wiping the sick from my chin. Slowly, focus and clarity return to me and I force my weary brain into high gear.

"I need to find Rei," I begin. "I need to find Rei and the rest of my friends."

It's a good start but it needs fleshing out. As I stand up, I start making adjustments to my original plan. I need to find everyone before the news reaches the other students. Otherwise, there's going to be a mass panic. And at that point, things will get really ugly and a lot of people will get hurt and die. And most of it will be by the hands of the frightened living people. This is, unfortunately, the ugly truth. People will die from people first.

The zombies will only get those too injured to run away.

We don't have much time. I have maybe ten or so minutes before the killing really starts, before everybody goes ape-shit with fear.

But maybe, just maybe, I can get all of my people, my friends, out in time. Plans and more plans start to form in my mind as I look over the rooftop one last time. Teshima and Hayashi – the zombies,I correct myself – are stalking the other two teachers while more and more join the first one at the gate. Their hellish moans join in a disturbing harmony, inciting screams from the living, both animals and people.

But for once, I am in total control.

I know them and because I've been training myself for the past couple years to survive, I can beat them. All the studying, all the missed opportunities, all the loss of dignity and respect of my peers: all of it in preparation for an event that should not have been possible yet it is now reality.

The moment to end all moments is here… my moment to shine.

"Go time, Takashi-man," I'm feeling the first hints of adrenaline inch through my veins, my mind blazing with furious purpose.

Just like this morning, I can do anything… everything. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, releasing it slowly.

"I am a leaf on the wind," I intone, my voice as quiet as a whisper. This is my mantra. It helps get my mind right, like my own person prayer. I roar out the last part, casting away all doubt and fear. "Watch how I soar!"

And then I start running.

XXXXXXX

2:19:56 P.M.–

Fujimi Highschool; Tokyo Prefecture; Tokyo, Japan…

I force the door to the classroom open with a loud bang and every student jumps in their seat.

Complete silence dominates the room as they all stare at me with mixed reactions, mostly shock and some with curiosity. After all, how would you react if a student whom everyone knows is skipping class bursts back into the very class he wanted to miss looking disheveled and pale?

I don't pay them any attention. All I care about is finding Rei. I quickly scan the student body and lock onto a pair very surprised, very familiar brown orbs. I sigh in relief while Rei's expression is one of utter bafflement. She grows even more astonished as I start to walk towards her.

The teacher was the first to react. "Komuro!" he barks, looking annoyed at my interruption. "Not only are you skipping, but you're disturbing our class–"

"SHUT THE FUCK UP, OLD MAN!" I spat, pinning him on the spot with a fierce glare that leaves him, and most of the class, speechless. I doubt anyone in the history of the school ever talked like that to one of the faculty. Heh, times are changing and I aim to get everyone I care about out of here alive before the killing starts. It's a shitty choice but one I surprisingly find myself comfortable making.

Sucks to be him though I hope he makes it out okay. We're going to need teachers in the end if the event prior was anything to go be. Rebuilding humanity and all that…

I see his face purple in rage but before he gets the chance to recover, I turn back towards my friend, speaking softly but surely, "Rei, come on. I need to get you out of here."

Poor girl, she's gaping at me like I just walked in naked or something. "…what?" she squeaks, shrinking back from my unwavering gaze.

I'm grabbing her arm now, gently but firmly. "I need you to trust me like you once did years ago. I need you to come with me. Now."

Rei blinks a couple times before she finally gets here bearings. Delicate eyebrows arc downwards and her lip curls in distaste. Goddamnit. "What are you talking about, baka! I'm in the middle of class – EEP!"

I yank her bodily out of her seat, forcefully but carefully. And I am rapidly losing my patience with my former friend. "You. Moving. Now. Let's go!"

"Are you LISTENING to me, you foul-mouthed little punk?" roared the teacher. I ignored him flat out.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, Komuro?" screams another voice, coming from nearby.

I glance out of the corner of my eye. Ah, Saya's pissed at me manhandling her fellow girl. What horrible timing for her to start caring about her peers.

The class has also taken note of what I imagine they assume to be the most spectacular "love confession" they've ever seen. Idiots, the whole lot of them. But judging by the laughter and whispers among them, not to mention Rei's embarrassed blush, I realize that things were rapidly getting out of hand. If we didn't get out of here in time, the proverbial shit was going to hit the fan.

So I lean in close to the strawberry-blonde in my grasp, keeping a hold of her wrist despite her weak attempts to squirm her way to freedom. "Listen, Miyamoto!" I growl into her ear as she freezes for a moment in shock – I've never, in all the time we've known each other, used her surname in conversation. Not even when she stopped being friendly towards me. "If you've ever been my friend at all, you will come with me just this once. After I've said what I need to say, I'll never bother you again!"

She gives me a disbelieving look and I let go of her. She looks down at her wrist, rubbing it, and then back up to me, suddenly unsure.

"Pinky promise," I whisper tiredly, making eyebrows rise in recollection. So far, so good…

Before I could hear her reply, a strong hand grips my right arm and an indignant voice breaks the moment. "Takashi! What are you doing to Rei?" I know the owner of this voice but I still I react instinctively.

Now, I don't know any martial arts and I only took a single year of kendo practice; I quit after I got into zombie fiction. All my knowledge on fighting comes from instinct and experience in free-running. The human body has limits in mobility and strength, but with time and training, some of them can be bent. Never broken – this isn't some video game with cheat codes – but bent. And after two years of exploring and researching those limits, I've come to understand exactly what my body is capable of doing.

Long story short: I know how the body can move and how it cannot move. I also know that I have hypermobility in all of my joints.

In a split second, my arm rotates almost out of socket in a counterclockwise motion and I twist my wrist to grab what feels like a uniform top, a male one. At the same time, my right leg sweeps out and back along the floor, tripping up whoever was behind me while I reset my shoulder and haul him towards me, their back against my chest. My left arm then wraps around the guy's neck snakelike to grab my own shoulder and I slide my right hand around the back of the guy's head, my palm against his spine and skull.

In no more than two to three seconds, I had the blindsiding, grey-haired moron in a classic cross-collar blood choke. He then starts trying to fight his way out of my grasp and my arms begin to flex, making him struggle harder but to no avail. After five seconds of this, his attempts get weaker and weaker.

"LET GO OF HISASHI, KOMURO!" Rei screams at me, startling me out of my concentration.

What is she… oh. I look down at who I'm choking and suddenly understand.

The guy has short cut grey-hair: Igou Hisashi. Only he, out of all the boys in the whole school, has that kind of hair color. Heh, he could instantly qualify for Just for Men just by entering the store. My arms relax and I release a very pissed-off – and gasping – Hisashi.

"Wha… what the hell, asshole!" he wheezes at me, his face red and looking quite put-out that he, a black belt in karate, got choked the fuck out by a novice.

I restrain my urge to chuckle at his perturbed expression.

"Don't sneak up on me," I warn in a light tone of voice. "I don't like people sneaking up on me from behind. It makes me antsy…"

"Antsy…" he says, fury building. "You could have injured me! You could have injured Rei-chan!"

A bit nonplussed, I glance at an open-mouthed Rei and shake my head. "She's fine and you're going to be okay, too. Besides, I'm trying to save her life. Yours too if you'll shut up and listen."

Hisashi's enraged expression colors further but before he could speak, he's silenced by Rei's hand. "Let him speak, Hisashi-kun," she says softly, which shuts him up right quick. I was about to grin but her glare turned scathing when she looked my way again. "He's going to be suspended if not expelled for all this disruption so let him talk while he can."

I would've winced at that… if I hadn't seen what I saw nearly twenty minutes ago. But no matter, I step closer to the two of them. Hisashi tensed as if I was suddenly going to choke him out again – at this point I'm sorely tempted to.

"There's been a murder at the front gate," I tell them, too quiet for the rest of the unabashedly eavesdropping class to hear, but loud enough so they could understand. They do and it showed in their mutually pale faces and wide eyes.

I think Rei summed it up nicely when she uttered the first profanity I've ever heard her speak. "Holy shit…" The entire class heard it and the students gasped loudly.

"Are you serious?" asks Hisashi after collecting himself. He'd been as stunned as I was after hearing his girlfriend curse.

I nodded my head, "Yeah. I'd tell you more but we're kind of in an awkward spot right now…" I nod my chin to the students around us.

"A situation that you created, moron!" hissed Rei, angry again. Then Hisashi touched her shoulder and she calmed slightly, looking back at him, still frazzled by the grisly news.

"So what now, Takashi?" the grey-haired teen queried, looking around at everyone. "You started this so now–"

I resist the urge to rise to the bait. "So now we get out of here so we can talk undisturbed. But first…" I look out into the crowd, searching for a heavy-set kid with glasses.

Ah, found him. ":Hey Kohta! You need to come with me as well!:" I call out in English. He looks at me in confusion but I know he understands my words. The rest of the class and the teacher, however, do not which was the whole point.

":Why?:" he inquires in his meek-sounding tone.

Many months ago, during a conversation with the military-otaku during lunch, he once taught me the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Phonetic Alphabet as well as some handy military jargon. While I thought it kind of pointless at first, Kohta described several situations where such knowledge could prove useful… such as being tracked by a horde of zombies with a handy radio nearby for use. Had I not have the ability to communicate with say, an American Navy cruiser off the coastline, I wouldn't be able to request a retrieval boat to come and rescue me from certain death by cannibalistic-corpses.

Long story short: I memorized his lessons thoroughly. And I now drew on that knowledge. ":Fow-er KIA's at the main gate. Mike-Uniform-Romeo-Delta-Echo-Romeo-Echo-Delta.:" I just said that there were four murdered people at Fujimi's entrance. To say the least, that got his attention.

":Enemies?:" Kohta asked, looking nervous at the news.

":Multiple foot-mobiles,:" I answer, ignoring the looks of shock and confusion from Rei and Hisashi. I stare directly into Kohta's bespectacled face and say, ":Code: Zulu is now in effect.:"

"Code Zulu" is my term for zombies, one drawn from a year of playful speculation between our two hobbies. When I brought it up, it was usually in a sentence that involved a detailed description of firepower upon the undead. We sometimes went at this for hours, discussing the ways and methods of inflicting permanent death on zombie flesh. Too bad it's no longer a game anymore and I really need his help if I wanted to survive this. His experience was deadly useful.

He blinked a couple times and said, in a flat deadpan tone, ":Bravo-Sierra:"

Bullshit.

I shook my head. ":We need to get out of here before the panic starts. Help me get Saya out of here.:"

But the rotund teenager shook his head at that notion. Great, my one source of useful backup doesn't believe me.

":Are you sure? If you stay here, you could die too.:" Here's hoping that self-preservation was a paramount in Kohta's mind.

He looked at me and then, very pointedly, looked at the other pink-haired girl in the room, Saya. Then he looked back at me and smiled sadly, shaking his head again. He was staying here for her… fuck. She was the only girl who ever seriously talked to him – though most of it was insults rather than simple conversing – and was subsequently the crush of his life. It seemed that pink-haired women were going to be the death of us both.

The students – Rei and Hisashi included – didn't know what to make of our conversation. And no one was paying any attention to the teacher, who seemed of the mind to let this little drama play out before he squelched it. But I understood, and so did Kohta. We both knew that the brainy girl staring back and forth at us would not budge without good reason… and she would accept an answer unless it was in clear, with no uncertain terms, Japanese.

The nub was, if we told her, we'd have to tell everybody and that would doom us all. A group is only as intelligent as the dumbest one in it – truer words hath rarely been spoken. To drop of bomb the likes of 'Hey, four teachers were just murdered outside and the killers are coming here' would send everybody into a stampede for the exits. We'd get trampled in no time.

I sighed and turned my attention towards Hisashi and Rei, both of whom were torn between either yelling at me or simply ignoring me like I did them. Switching back to my native tongue, I said, "Let's go outside, guys. I'm done here."

Rei snorted at that statement, "You sure? You looked like you were having fun to me!"

My lips thinned into a flat line at that and I watched as Hisashi whispered something to her, eliciting a frustrated, "Fine!" from the fiery-tempered girl. He then turned towards the teacher, addressing him in a respectful bow.

"Sensei, I apologize for the disruption of class that Komuro started. I will be escorting him and Miyamoto-san outside to talk further."

The teacher, meanwhile, looked flummoxed by his words. "You're going with this hooligan, Igou?"

I snorted at that and walked past them both to the doorway, waiting on the two lovebirds to follow me. They did, eventually, and just before I closed the door, I gave some final parting advice to Kohta. ":Remember our talks, my friend. Shoot for the head; it'll put them down for good!:"

Kohta looked at me blankly before slowly nodding in silent acceptance. I nodded back and slid closed the classroom door.

I really hoped that he would make it out of here alive.

His skills were going to come in handy…

To be continued…

A/N: Yeah, a bit more background about my Takashi and what he can do as well as the start of the manga plot itself. Nothing heavy yet although its coming.

I figured that being a free-runner (or parkour nut, if you prefer) was a lot cooler than him having some fancy martial arts style or being stupid muscular despite his cannon physique. I felt this would explain how he'll be able to do half the shit he'll do in later chapters.

In this fic, he and Kohta have more of a rapport. I figured that two kids with "hobbies" that could be crossed over might prove entertaining and most importantly fruitful in the future. Here's hoping on that, eh?

As always, please review!