A/N: Heya, all. This was actually written quite a while ago, back in October of last year. Figured I'd post it here, finally.
The sound of chalk harshly smacking against a chalkboard filled the decrepit walls of Majisuka Gakuen; in a certain classroom, a hoodie-wearing girl angrily scratched characters out on the chalkboard. All across the board the words "idiot, idiot, idiot" glared out at anyone who happened to pass by to check out the noise.
"You stupid idiot, idiot, idiot!" the girl growled out as she kept writing the same characters over and over again, each stroke slamming chunks off the chalk piece until there was nothing left. She reached down and pulled another piece from a box of chalk, continuing from where she was before.
Five figures clad in green peered cautiously in from the doorway, trying to keep as silent as possible to avoid alerting the hooded-girl to their presence. They watched as she broke another piece of chalk and furiously reached into the box for the next victim.
"How long do you think she'll keep this up?" Wota, the leader, whispered. She looked over at the other green figures around her. They looked fearfully back over to her as the hooded girl snapped the chalk piece in half with her hands.
Nezumi turned to face the doorway and took years off their lives with a glare that could give third-degree burns.
Team Hormone quickly scrambled away.
"Move! Hurry, before she follows after us!" Bungee yelped. They ungracefully ran up the stairs to Rapappa's room and shut the door frantically behind them.
To their immediate relief, nobody followed them up the steps.
"I've never seen Nezumi so angry before," Akicha panted, collapsing onto a chair. After catching her breath, she tiredly reached down to start their shiny silver cooker, while Mukuchi silently padded over to their newly installed fridge, grabbing some meat. With a unified sigh, they sat down around the fire and passed chopsticks around.
Once they got the meat sizzling, Unagi leaned back in her seat and stroked her chin thoughtfully. "Hmm... I bet it has something to do with Center..." she pondered, looking up at the ceiling.
"It definitely does," Mukuchi quietly said. "For sure, it's because of Center."
"Wonder what she did this time," Wota laughed, plucking a piece of meat off the small cooker and digging into it. The other four shrugged and followed her lead, enjoying the disgusting yet delicious taste of animal parts on a grill.
Staggering along the graffitied hallways of Majijo, Center clutched her stomach and leaned heavily on the walls for support as she traveled along. Lip cut and face bruised, she ignored her aching body and willed herself to go faster. She was determined to reach her goal. The girl shoved herself off the wall and swayed in the air, hands tightening into fists.
Damn the consequences of pushing her body. She needed to find Nezumi.
However, after a mere three steps, her legs gave out and she collapsed painfully onto the hard tiled floor. Center, breathing heavily from the agony shooting through her body, started to crawl along the filthy ground. Nothing would deter her from reaching Nezumi.
A shot of pain ran up her stomach to her chest, and she gasped, ceasing her movement completely. Center closed her eyes, biting her lips, and rested her head on the floor.
"Hey, are you angry?" Gekikara laughed, smashing her into a desk. Center growled and got up, ignoring the painful jabbing she felt in her ribcage. She had spent so much effort just to get Gekikara to go full-out, and now she was completely embarrassing herself.
"Not good enough," she muttered. Trying to steady her disobeying body, she was tackled to the ground in her moment of weakness. Gekikara giggled, her insane voice ringing in the still air of the classroom. Legs spread out on either sides of Center's body, the Queen straddled the poor girl and mercilessly beat her across the face.
Center was seeing bright, white stars at this point. Dazed and confused, she couldn't even register what happened next.
"Nezumi..." she breathed out, finally giving to unconsciousness.
Hot lips were crashing over her own, sucking on her bleeding lip while Center felt blood from Gekikara drip into her own mouth. Once the metallic tang of the red liquid hit her tongue, she felt her arms being pinned down while she weakly struggled against her captor.
The attacker smothered Center's words as Gekikara took advantage of the younger girl's open mouth. Center desperately tried to escape, but the damage from before left her too weak to do anything. She tried to use her legs to push the crazed girl off, but that only caused Gekikara to lose her balance and set her knee between Center's legs, causing a pleasurable friction against the younger girl's core.
This wasn't right. No, no, no-
Just as she was about to give up, there was a startling slam at the doorway that made Gekikara finally pull away. Recollecting her mind, Center weakly turned her head to look at her savior. Her eyes widened, mirroring the look on Nezumi's face as the mouse gaped at the scene in front of her.
"T- this isn't w-" Center coughed. "W- what it looks like!"
To her horror, Gekikara giggled and bent down to attack Center's lips again, before getting off the girl and staggering over to the mouse.
"Ha ha! Hey, are you angry?" she grinned, biting her bloody nails and tilting her head to the side. The crazed girl seemed to be drinking in Nezumi's angry aura, grin widening by the second. Nezumi's face was hidden under the shadow of her hood, but Center could tell she was more than angry. She was flat out infuriated beyond belief. Center prayed that the mouse wouldn't do anything rash-
Gekikara let out a gleeful grunt of pain as Nezumi uncharacteristically punched her in the face, sending the crazed girl flying backwards. However, that was not what surprised Center the most. Gekikara, who normally dragged out her fights to prolong the pain and bloodshed, tackled Nezumi into a desk and began beating the small girl senseless with a never-ending stream of fists.
"Ha! Ha ha ha! Hey, little mouse, she's mine, got it? Mine!" Gekikara giggled, continuing to punch the living daylights out of the poor girl. Nezumi was starting to lose consciousness, groping around herself for any sort of weapon that could get this crazy girl off of her. In a moment of quick, clever thinking, the mouse gripped the edge of the desk and used that as an anchor so she could gather enough momentum to knee the girl in the stomach, successfully saving herself for the moment.
While all this was going on, Center frantically tried to get back on her feet, but her body was still throbbing with the abuse it had gone through. Gritting her teeth, she crawled over to a chair and pulled herself up, gripping it's metal leg. She picked the chair up and slowly limped her way over to the hysterical Gekikara.
In a dramatic pause, Gekikara threw herself at the recovering Nezumi. At that exact moment, Center chucked the chair at the girl, hitting her in mid-air and sending her straight into a pile of desks. There was a sickening sound of something cracking and Center winced, starting to panic at what she had done.
She ran over to the crumpled Gekikara and turned her head over, hurriedly checking every inch of the girl's head. She heaved a sigh of relief as she found no evidence of life-threatening damage, though whatever did happen to her was going to hurt like hell later on. As she was double-checking Gekikara's neck and spine, a weak but vicious voice tore into her thoughts.
"So... you do... care... about her... more than... me," Nezumi breathed out, eyes half closed in pain and squinting at Center's blurry form.
Center's eyes widened.
"What? No, I just-" she started, moving to approach the hooded girl, only to have her leg muscle give out. She grunted in pain as she fell flat and hit the floor. Unable to move, she looked back up, trying to convey her feelings through her eyes as well as her words. "That wasn't me. I swear it wasn't. She attached herself to me, and I had no say in it."
Nezumi said nothing. She merely stood up, turned around, and silently padded out the room, leaving Center bewildered.
She never walked out on her like that.
This was bad, very bad.
Painfully and ever so slowly, she crawled back to Gekikara's unconscious form and dragged her unceremoniously to the door, through the hallways, and to the nurse's office (who, thank kami, was not that creepy old man anymore). Despite her pressing situation with Nezumi, she knew that Gekikara needed that medical attention. Center had a feeling that Gekikara's aggravation that day was due to something Black had done, so everything was forgiven, but what happened was unclear to the girl, not that she cared enough to know anyway. Regardless, she couldn't just have left the girl there when she had thrown a chair at her and caused unknown damage.
Ignoring the nurse's insistence for her to sit down and be treated, she forced her body to leave the room and seek her savior...
The first thing she noticed was the smell of smoke. The black scent was mixed with the obnoxious rings of a never-ending bell. And was it just her, or was it really hot? It was almost as if-
Something hot exploded near her face, causing her to jerk awake in pain as she screamed. A scalding heat whipped across her closed right eyelid, leaving a wake of burning agony to simmer on her skin. Her mind struggled to keep sane as the pain overwhelmed her senses, her mouth letting loose strangled screams. Before too long, she was hacking her lungs out from the sudden inhale of smoke.
As her coughing fit subsided, Center managed to calm down enough to open her left eye and observe her situation. Needless to say, it was very, very grave.
The hallways were alight with a blazing storm of glowing red, orange, and yellow flames, while the objects around her were distorted by the effects of heat waves. She was, unfortunately, laying in the middle of a giant, suffocating cage that would end up killing her by either burning her alive or poisoning her lungs beyond repair.
In short, she was in the middle of a fire: weak, defenseless, and unable to escape.
"So... this is how it ends, eh?" Center darkly chuckled, noting how pathetically weak her voice sounded. "Damn that Team Hormone. They must have set this place on fire with their damn grill."
With sweat coating her entire body, she tried crawling her way to the window. Her right hand protectively hovered over her burned flesh, unconsciously thinking that it would relieve the pain. Once she traveled the two feet across the hallway, she slowly hoisted herself up using the windowsill as a ledge. Center started coughing heavily once she stood up. The higher she was, the more the air was poisoned with smoke, just like she had always read about.
Already feeling the oxygen around her depleting, she pulled her right hand back, centered her mind, and punched the window out.
Glass shards exploded, her fist burning alive with agony. Thankfully though, the smoke was starting to flow out the newly created opening, giving Center a couple more minutes to live. She leaned against the wall under the window, slid back down to the floor, and weakly started pulling at her uniform. It was so damn hot.
"I just had to be on the second floor, didn't I?" she muttered to herself, sweat pouring down her face. The fire was getting closer. She relaxed against the wall and closed her eyes. Might as well go out in a comfortable position.
Time passed rather quickly as her brain became more muddled and fogged up. If this was what dying felt like, it wasn't so bad. The pain was disappearing, vanishing, and leaving a faint throbbing behind. The sounds of the fire and the nauseous smells around her faded away, her world going black and her body floating in limbo.
"How is it? The view from here, all alone?"
She looked up. "It's great," she rolled her eyes. "Whether I look at the scenery over there, or the scenery over here, it's my choice."
"But, if you're alone, you can't relate," she pointed out.
She scoffed. "If someone tries to relate this and that about the scenery-" her voice turned sour here "-it's just annoying."
She smiled for half a second. "What do you think I'm thinking about right now?"
"When you're alone, you don't have to answer those kinds of stupid questions," she spat out.
"It's sad," she remarked.
She turned over to look at the girl. "What's the matter?" she darkly grinned. "This isn't like you, Center."
"I want to talk with you, Nezumi," she stated, voice powerful and strong.
Her eyes flickered up towards Center's face, surprised, but said nothing.
"Right now," she told her, eyes focused on something distant. "I was thinking about you." She moved her head towards the hooded girl. "About what it is that I could do," she softly murmured.
"It's none of your business."
"Right," Center repeated. "It's none of my business. Even if they don't want to, butting in on other people's business is what-" Center finally turned and looked at Nezumi "-friends do."
She remained silent for a few seconds. Then she stood up, trying to get away. "That's heavy," she responded, trying not to care.
Center's forceful footsteps followed hers. "You're the only one in this world I feel this way about!" She grabbed her arm. "We're friends, right?"
Shut up. SHUT UP.
… I'm sorry, okay?
I take back what I said that day. I take back those punches I threw at you, the pain I inflicted upon you.
Just... please, come back to me.
Center, where are you?
"Center..." she muttered, scanning the crowd huddled outside the burning school. "Center, please be here. Please be safe..."
There was Gekikara being cradled by Black, the two whispering to each other quietly at the edge of the crowd, lost in their own world together. Team Hormone was being scolded heavily by the principal and getting bonked on the head every couple seconds, their heads facing guiltily towards the ground. Shaku and Gakuran were laughing by themselves over by the school gates, completely absorbed in their own flirting time.
Why did no one notice that Center was gone?
She wasn't still in the building, was she?
To her horror, she noticed a window on the left side of the building suddenly shatter, a fist sticking through the broken shards. The brown sleeves along the arm of the fist could only belong to one person.
Nezumi gritted her teeth.
"Center, don't worry. I'm coming for you. I won't leave you alone," she quietly promised. Steeling herself, the mouse locked her eyes on a window that she knew would lead to a stairwell. It seemed that the flames were weak underneath the part of the building where Center was, so she should be able to make her way up safely.
She reached into her mysterious black backpack and pulled out a bandanna. Tying it over her nose and mouth, Nezumi quickly calculated what else she needed to pull off her daring rescue.
Screw waiting for help. By the time the fire department got here, it would be too late.
Besides, she trusted them about as far as she could spit her gum.
She was getting close. She could feel it. Death was slowly making its way into her skin, burying its scythe deep into her soul.
It wasn't long now.
Center only wished that she had a chance to say goodbye to Nezumi and set things straight with her. It would also be nice if her sexy face wouldn't be marred by the burning fire. That way she could be buried looking pretty attractive.
… That attempt at lightening her situation was terrible.
She tried to laugh but only managed to cough weakly. "In eternity there is no time, only an instant long enough for a joke," she quoted, recalling various Hermann Hesse quotes. She coughed again, winced at her burning lungs, and felt the sting of her burned face. "Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go..."
She was ready to die. "Gaze into the fire, into the clouds, and as soon as the inner voices begin to speak... surrender to them. Don't ask first whether it's permitted, or would please your teachers or father or some god. You will ruin yourself if you do that."
She grinned to herself, feeling at peace in the middle of the firestorm.
"You're such a Hermann Hesse nerd," she smirked, approaching from behind.
Heh. She could picture Nezumi now. The girl's beautiful figure was against the backdrop of the fiery flames, livid at Center's stupidity.
"Often it is the most deserving people who cannot help loving those who destroy them," she sighed out, recalling the various memories she had of the hooded girl - good and bad. "When you like someone, you like them in spite of their faults. When you love someone, you love them with their faults."
Hermann Hesse just knew all the right things to say, especially when it concerned the girl that she had devoted her life to. Center knew that Nezumi was incapable of liking (loving) her back, but that was alright. As long as she was safe and happy, Center was satisfied.
Which was why she wasn't afraid when the ceiling suddenly collapsed close by.
The flames licked her arm and she flinched, but that was all. She was more absorbed by her delusion, the ghostly image of Nezumi bending down in front of her and picking her up by the shoulder.
"You know... for a hallucination, you feel pretty real," she groaned, the smoke getting to her head. Her body was absolutely coated in sweat by then.
Much to her surprise, the "ghost" responded, "Shut up, you idiot. I'm real."
It took Center a full five seconds to comprehend what she had said as they stepped over burning wood and made it to the staircase. "N- Nezumi?" she asked, horror spreading across her features. "No, what are you doing here? You should be safe outside and-"
"And leave you here to die? You might be a flirting fool, but I would never leave you to die," she growled. Then added, in a quiet whisper meant for herself, "Never again."
Center heard anyway, even among the roar of the fire. "I'm sorry," she apologized.
Nezumi grumbled some more, helping Center down the last step of the staircase and hobbling over the window she had broken to get in.
The ceiling exploded down on them in a flurry of flames, wreckage separating them. Once all the foundation, chairs, and desks finished raining down upon them, Center found herself pinned underneath a particularly heavy piece of steel foundation. Nezumi was nowhere to be seen.
"Nezumi! Are you alright? Nezumi!" she screamed, desperate to her the little mouse's voice. "Nezumi, you better be kidding me. Where are you? Come out already!"
Center quelled the growing panic within herself and tried to get her legs out from underneath the heavy metal to no avail. "Nezumi, seriously, stop playing around. Show yourself!"
No, this wasn't real. This was a nightmare. Nezumi, she had to be-
Suddenly, her head burst open with pain as something from above came down and smashed into her head. Then she knew no more.
She gasped heavily and took deep breaths of air, left eye springing open. Immediately, her right eye throbbed in pain as she returned to consciousness. A tentative hand reached up to feel cotton and gauze covering most of the right half of her face, masking a painful injury she knew was there. Her left eye looked straight at the only other occupant of the room.
"Nezumi..." she whispered. The familiar bare room they were in could only be Nezumi's personal apartment. The bed she was laying on smelled like Nezumi, further confirming her whereabouts.
The hooded girl said nothing and gently placed her hand over Center's. The injured girl felt the combined warmth from their hands seep through her bandages.
She leaned into the touch. "You're alright."
"Yeah, thanks to you. Those men got your eye, but-"
That was right. Center had been cut through her forehead, across her right eye, and down her cheek by a pocketknife a few hours ago when she and Nezumi had been attacked on their way home. It would scar, she knew, and it hurt, but she didn't regret her actions. In fact, she rather liked the idea of having a scar similar to a certain anime character's or that lion's from a Disney movie.
"No, I... I had a bad dream," she stated.
She looked expectantly at her.
"We had a fight with each other, then those idiots from Team Hormone set the school on fire. Then I was trapped inside, and you came to save me... But then I lost sight of you after the ceiling caved in on us, and I thought you had died," she whispered, reaching to grasp the girl's other hand tightly.
Nezumi's eyes softened. "If you're not going to die on me, then I promise I won't die on you, Center."
Center's form relaxed visibly. Completely defenseless from attack, Nezumi, shocking Center, leaned forward and laid a light, butterfly kiss on the bandage over where her eye would have been. She pulled away slowly, face burning red.
"I... I think I realized something today when you were laying on the ground and bleeding. I-"
Center cut her off by capturing Nezumi's lips with her own. After a moment of bliss, she pulled slowly away and left their foreheads touching, her breaths labored from her pounding heart.
"I know, Nezumi. I know. You don't need to say it."
Nezumi seemed stunned for a few moments before her face formed an embarrassed and cute pout. "H- how would you know wha-"
Needless to say, the two of them found themselves speaking very little that evening.
"You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation...and that is called loving. Well, then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else."