Disclaimer: I do not own Sekirei.

A/N: This fic is the product of a plot bunny/dream that's been continuing to mind. What would happen if Benitsubasa were my Sekirei? Now, I truly have no idea where the idea came from; I have no problem with her as a character, but I wouldn't call her my favorite. However, I just can't get the idea out of my head.

I'll say this, the OC in this story is nothing like the OC in Hopes. He won't even try to fight; I'm writing him as an everyday Ashikabi, with the hanging back and letting his girls fight. The harem will remain small. The Discipline Squad will remain untouched, as far as I'm know in this fic.

This fic is about the interactions between the fiery, obsessive Sekirei and her sarcastic, no-nonsense Ashikabi… I'm going to enjoy this…


My Crimson Feather

Chapter One

A Chance Encounter

I took the train to the capitol.

That's all I feel I need to say to start off my story. I could start off by saying I'm fleeing from an extraterrestrial being out to eat my face, but that'd be exaggerating. I could start off by describing some sort of impressive action I miraculously pulled off against all odds, but I'd be lying. I could start off in medias res, in the midst of an epic battle, with magic and arrows flying everywhere, but I'd be telling the wrong story. There are so many things I could say to start off my story, but it's nothing special. Everyone's heard everything; almost nothing out on the stands is wholly unique, but someone always has a story to tell. I'm no different.

My story is something you've probably already heard, but at the same time, haven't. My story is of something so fundamentally simple to explain, but so inexplicably difficult to truly grasp: love.

It's nothing you haven't heard before, but so incredible that I feel the need to get it out there, to make sure others hear it.

I'm trapped, yet free; I'm lost, yet I know where I am. I feel so confused, but whenever I lose myself in her eyes, everything feels so clear. When I feel the touch of her hand against mine, I can't help but feel truly safe and secure. The sound of her voice clears the fog that settles within my mind. The taste of her lips blocks everything out, turning it all into negligible white noise.

I'm still so young, but I can't help but feel as though I've taken hold of something others, several years my senior, fail to grasp. I'm still naïve to the world as a whole, but I feel as though I've seen enough as long as she stays by my side. Whenever she's with me, I feel…at peace.

I've fallen in love.

It's a phrase every teenager says or thinks at least once in their lifetime, but doesn't realize they still have the rest of their life to find true love. But…I think I've found that one person. The one person who I'm destined to be with; the one person I'm meant to stand beside in the most difficult of times. The one person I would support with the best of my being.

There's one problem: she's crazy. She hates to lose. She hates to not get her way. She's insecure about her body. She's violent. She's domineering. She's possessive. She's selfish.

Well, those are a lot of problems, but…I don't care. On the surface, I categorize all of that and simply push it aside, but deep down, I…find myself adoring that about her.

I've fallen in love.

This means, I've gone crazy. That has to be it, but if loving her means for me to be crazy, then I'll embrace that insanity. It's all for one simple reason:

I've fallen in love.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to before my loss of sanity, a scant few hours prior to our accidental meeting. The time where my every thought I had went to how I should get a place to stay when I try to get into the University.

I had just graduated from high school and I was going to Shinto Teitou to try and get into Teitou University. It's a momentous task in my life, but I'm up for it.

The trip was uneventful. I spoke with a person or two, talking about various topics. It was meaningless chatter, just something for us to feel as though time was passing much faster.

When I had reached my destination, I shouldered my bag, grabbed my suitcase, and took my carry on, exiting the train station. My destination was the hotel where my parents had reserved a room for the night. I had that day to find an apartment, after that I was to call them and tell them I found a place to live; possibly lengthen my stay at the hotel for another night if I needed it. In the end, though, it was just me. I was on my own and I had to fend for myself. I couldn't live on my savings after all; it wasn't infinite, far from it.

Entering the lobby of the hotel, I approached the front desk and cleared my throat. "Excuse me, I'm here to get my room for the night."

The receptionist looked up from her computer screen and said, "ID please."

I placed a bag on the ground and reached into my pocket, pulling out wallet. Removing my ID, I held it out to her.

She took the card, looked it over and typed into her computer. After a few moments, she handed it back to me. Turning, she looked through a set of files and pulled out a card and a key. "Here you go."

I took the items and nodded, sliding my wallet back into my pocket.

"So, you're here for school?" I nodded in response, not really in the mood for a conversation. The receptionist clearly didn't get the message because she continued to speak. "Well, good luck. I hear Teitou has a very difficult entrance exam." She waved me off as I nodded and turned to head to my room.

Taking the elevator up, I released a breath and felt myself relax. The train ride over was a rather long one and I wasn't able to fall asleep. I think it's because of the jitters, but I don't think that's really the case. I think my body knew, instinctively, that I was going to meet her; that I was going see her. But then again, I've always been an impatient person, so it's probably because I was restless and wanted the train to hurry the hell up.

Stepping in front of my door, I fished the key out of my pocket and unlocked the door. I placed all my things around my bed and lied down for a moment, giving my body a well-deserved rest. After resting my eyes, I forced myself up and grabbed one of my bags. Sifting through them, I checked all of my things to see if I was in dire need of something. Everything was in place: toiletries, several changes of clothes, the laptop I had gotten as a graduation present and anything I'd need to survive on my own.

As I zipped everything closed, I felt the pangs of hunger gnaw at my stomach. Grabbing my wallet, I checked my available funds and decided that it would be good to go out and get a feel for the capitol. Putting my wallet in one pocket and my cell in another, I grabbed my jacket and pulled it on. Leaving my hotel room, I locked behind me and left the hotel itself.

Benitsubasa strode through the shopping mall, walking as though she owned every store she blew past. Allowing her eyes to lazily glide over every store name, she pondered which shop was worthy of her tastes. Coming to a stop, she managed to see a dress that caught her eye. Smiling haughtily, Benitsubasa walked into the store and began browsing.

One of the sales associates took notice of their newest customer and approached her. "Excuse me, miss, are you looking for anything in particular?"

Benitsubasa paused and looked over her shoulder. Taking a second to consider the question, she shook her head and smiled easily. "No thanks, I can take care of things on my own." Without another word, she turned away from the associate and went back to browsing. Though she couldn't help but notice the men in suits a few feet from her, hanging around outside the store. MBI had forced her to take a small escort of security personnel with her on her shopping excursion.

Stepping up to a dress in particular, she lifted it from the rack and turned it around in her grasp. A wide smile spread on her lips, "Ooh, I bet Natsuo will love this."

Natsuo was the man that had caught Benitsubasa's attention. She thought he was handsome, suave, and intelligent. There was only one obstacle preventing her from taking him: he was gay. That fact alone frustrated her. She wanted nothing more than to help him get over that particular difference in tastes and become one with her.

Another thing that frustrated her beyond recognition was that there was a Sekirei in line to become his and it wasn't her. It was someone who Benitsubasa couldn't help but fear and respect: Sekirei Number 04, Karasuba. That woman had the audacity to say she would wing herself on Natsuo, all with a knowing smirk on her face. She wanted nothing more than to just throw caution to the wind and fight the Black Sekirei; but she dared not to. Karasuba wasn't someone you could walk away from after starting a fight. It was 'do or die' with that monster; is she were to fight her, then she had to absolutely be at her best.

Continuing to look through the different clothes that caught her eye, Benitsubasa asked where the changing room was and took the clothing that struck her interest with her. She took her time, getting a feel for each dress, blouse, or skirt. Some disappointed her when she looked in the mirror, but others made her smile; it was at times like this that she wished she had a second opinion. However, that second opinion had to come from her Ashikabi to be, Natsuo, and not those buffoons in suits that followed her everywhere she went outside Teitou Tower.

After she had changed back into her original attire, Benitsubasa gasped suddenly, feeling a heat flow through her. She fell to the side, hitting the wall.

"Miss, are you okay?" One of the associates called into the changing room.

"I'm fine." She called out. Lowering her voice to a whisper, she muttered to herself, "I'm reacting…could I finally be reacting to Natsuo? Is he here? Did he finally realize that I'm better for him than that heartless dog?" Benitsubasa placed a hand over her heart and sighed heavily.

It wasn't the strength of the reaction that caused her fall over; it was the suddenness of the reaction. She wasn't expecting it. She wasn't expecting the sudden pounding of her heart, the warmth of her cheeks, or the quickness of her breath. Benitsubasa was finally experiencing the oncoming adulthood of her species: the reaction to her Ashikabi, the person who was meant to be her destined partner.

She quickly picked up the clothes she liked and stepped out of the changing room. Approaching a sales associate, she said, "Could you ring these up for me? Also, the other clothes I tried on are still in the changing room." She turned and walked over to one of the men in suits and said, "Pay for the clothes, I need to go check something out."

The man simply nodded and walked into the store.

Benitsubasa turned and looked around the shopping mall, searching for the person who induced her reaction. "Natsuo!" She called out happily. "I know you're out here somewhere!" She sang happily. Striding purposefully down through the mall, she looked passed each and every person, trying to find her Ashikabi.

Her reaction started to become more and more apparent as the flush on her cheeks began to darken. Her heart raced as she sped up her pace, trying to find him. Amidst the glee of her reaction, she felt a bubble of doubt surface in her heart. What if it's not Natsuo? She turned and turned, searching for the source of her reaction, not caring if she bumped into anyone. Her breath hiked up as she tried to find him, whoever he was. She felt him; she knew he was near.

With one final turn, Benitsubasa's eyes honed in on the source of her reaction. A young man with medium length black hair; he was a modest 5'7" in height with a wiry frame. She took notice of his chocolate brown eyes and bored expression as he leaned against his hand; her eyes traced his jaw and went up to his lips, causing a thought to perk up in her mind, I wonder if he's a good kisser? Realizing what she unconsciously thought, Benitsubasa shook her head and closed her eyes. Opening them again, she tried to see if she were dreaming by pinching herself. She flinched. Nope, still awake.

Finally truly realizing what was happening, Benitsubasa felt a bubble of anger rise up inside of her. How dare this boy make me react instead of Natsuo?! Clenching her fists, she stomped over to him and stopped directly in front of him. Smacking the table he sat at, she growled, "Why?!"

I jerked to the side, surprised by the sudden impact. Hearing a feminine voice break into my thoughts, I quickly looked up to see owner of the voice. I immediately noticed the bright pink hair, tied off in a ponytail to the side with a pair of daisy clips. Her light red eyes were staring down at me with a hint of anger, but also confusion; the flush on her cheeks made me wonder what was going on with her. I also noticed how undeniably pretty she was. However, the slight wonder I felt was offset by her yelled question and attempt at looming over me.

"Why what?" I managed to respond in a bored, bemused tone.

She opened her mouth to speak, but shot a look over her shoulder. Out of sheer curiosity, I casually looked to where her eyes went and saw a large man in a black suit. I arched an eyebrow at that. Why is she being followed?

Looking back to me, she bit her lip and shook her head. "Why did it have to be you? What are you doing to make me react?" Her words were vague at some points, but I felt utterly confused when she said 'react'.

"What are you talking about? I have no clue what you mean by react."

She ground her teeth, looking from me to the behemoth in a black suit a few feet behind her. I heard her tapping her feet. She then released a frustrated breath and suddenly grabbed me by my arm. "I can't explain here. You have to come with me." With surprising strength for a girl her size, she managed to effortlessly drag me out of my seat and towards the man in the suit. "He's coming with us back to the Tower. I need to speak with him."

"What?! What the hell are you talking about?! Let me go! You can't just drag me out of here! I haven't even eaten yet!" I planted my feet on the ground and tried to pull my arm free, but the very strange girl had a very strong grip.

She scowled at me. "Stop squirming. This will go easier if you cooperate." She then turned and resumed dragging me away.

"'Stop squirming' my ass! I don't know you!" I continued to try and pull my arm free.

Clicking her tongue, she looked to her friend in the suit and said, "Take him, please. He's beginning to get on my nerves."

He nodded, "Yes, ma'am." He walked over to me and grabbed hold of the waist of my pants and hoisted me onto his shoulder. I then heard the shake of a bag as something was traded hands.

I paused, feeling my lip curve downwards as I bared my teeth in anger.

"If I were you I'd stay still." I could hear the girl's voice, but I noticed a minor quiver to it. "Everything will go much smoother if you were to cooperate."

Gritting my teeth, I crossed my arms defiantly. "Fine, just let me say this: you guys owe me lunch." I said as I saw the waitress who took my earlier order walk out to my empty table and cock her head to the side in confusion.

When we finally stopped, the gorilla placed me on my own two feet and pointed towards the limousine. "Get in." He said in an authoritative voice. I leveled him my coldest glare and walked over to vehicle, opened the door and got inside. I scooted over and allowed the girl to get and sit across from me. She placed her bag next to her and crossed her arms.

"What's your name?" She asked me as the door was shut after her.

I blinked in minor shock. "You're asking my name after basically abducting me? Girl, your priorities are highly screwed up."

She scowled, but I noticed that she held back a retort. "Just answer the question…please."

I could tell that it was a stretch for her to even say 'please'. So I decided to be even more difficult. "Isn't it better etiquette to give your name first before asking for another's?" I smirked at the frustrated look that appeared on her face.

She bit her lip and I watched as her eyes darted to the side. "I'm Benitsubasa." Crossing her arms, she glared at me, though it was lighter than what I was expecting, considering the flush on her cheeks. "There, I told you my name, what's yours?" She actually pouted as she asked my name again.

"Noboru Shizuka." I said with a hint of surprise. Benitsubasa actually looked really adorable when she pouted. Her lightly pushed out lower lip and downturned face struck a chord within me. It nearly made me forget that this was the girl that abducted me from the mall a few moments ago. I opened my mouth to say a retort when it happened.

We locked eyes.

It was instantaneous. Benitsubasa released a sudden gasping breath, her hand shot to her petite chest as her eyes widened at our meeting. I felt my heart clench at suddenly pound deep within my chest. Her breath began to quicken as she slowly leaned forward, a hand extended in front of her. I gulped as I couldn't help but freeze in her presence. She stared deeply into my eyes and felt myself becoming lost in hers.

I can't explain it, but it just felt…right

The two of us stayed in this trance-like state for what felt like a few sparse moments to me, when the limo came to a stop. A voice called out from the front seat. "We're here."

The shocked Benitsubasa and I free from our collective trance and allowed us to see where it led. She was leaning over me, her knee pressed on the seat between my legs and her bare hand resting on my cheek as her lips were only a few scant inches from mine. Her pleasantly narrowed eyes widened in shock as she realized what was happening and what was going to happen. She quickly pulled her hand from my face and reared her second back. I was about to say something when her hand collided with my face, sending me flying towards the door of the limo. Thankfully, it was pulled open at the very last minute and I was sent sprawling outside, rolling across the ground as though I was tackled from the side.

I could only think of one thing, how in the hell can a girl her size be that strong?

As I pushed myself to my feet, I couldn't help but overhear Benitsubasa say, "It almost happened…I was almost winged…"

Groaning, I touched my cheek and flinched from the stinging pain. "What do you mean by 'winged'?" Swaying lightly, I shook my head to clear things out and said, "Actually, the better question would be: why in the hell did you smack me?!"

Benitsubasa stepped out of the limo and grabbed me by my arm. "You're coming with me." She completely ignored all of my protests as she very nearly dragged me to wherever she was taking me. When we finally came to a stop, we were standing in front of a set of elevators. When the doors slid open, it revealed another gorilla of a man acting as a guard. We walked inside, though I could feel the man give me a cold, impassive glare.

"Can you please tell me where we're going?" I grounded out in a whisper.

Benitsubasa simply ignored me, deciding to reaching into her pocket and pull out a card. Holding it to the guard, she saw nod and typed a few things on the keypad next to the door. After that, another pad appeared, this one filled with buttons with corresponding numbers. She pushed the button for number 101 and I hardly felt it as the elevator raised several flights.

I released a breath, trying not to be too disagreeable, in spite of the fact that I had every right to be. "Can you please explain to me where you're taking me?"

Benitsubasa perked up lightly, turning her head to look at me. When her eyes looked upon my cheek, she flinched. "I really hit you, didn't I?" She said with a surprisingly soft voice.

I raised my eyebrows at that, "Uh, hell yeah, you did! It stings like all holy hell."

She gritted her teeth and turned to fully face me. "Maybe if you listened to me, then I wouldn't have had to hit you!"

"That has absolutely nothing to with this! You came onto me, then suddenly decided to slap me for something you did on your own." I faced her completely as well, meeting her glare with one of my own.

Benitsubasa froze when I replied, but shook herself out of it. "You have no idea what you're talking about! If you did, then you'd know that it was entirely all your fault!"

"What are you talking about?! I don't have any idea what you mean! How would you coming onto me be my fault? I didn't do anything to make you that way, so why am I to blame?"

She clenched her fists and stood on her toes so that she could get in my face. It was at that moment I finally saw how much shorter than me she was. I hadn't noticed before, considering she was either dragging me, having a gorilla lift me onto his shoulder, and sitting in front of me a few moments ago. "You're making me react, you imbecile! There's only one person I wanted to react to and you took that chance away from me!"

I couldn't help feel my own anger subside as I couldn't help but notice her eyes tear up slightly as she glared. Releasing a breath, I took a step back and scratched the back of my head. "Well, how was I supposed to something like that? I just got to the damn capitol a little while ago." I turned away from her slowly and crossed my arms, "…Sorry…"

Benitsubasa froze, seeming a bit shocked by my action. "Oh…" She managed to recollect herself before resuming her glare. "You should be…" In spite of her words, she sounded a bit hesitant.

"Be careful, 105, you don't want to give away too much." A voice called out from above us within the elevator.

"Professor? You've been listening in on us?" Benitsubasa questioned the mysterious voice, which I couldn't help but find extremely annoying.

"Why wouldn't I Benitsubasa-kun? One of my Disciplinary members is reacting to someone; it's only natural for me to keep an eye on you." He laughed, well, more like cackled, and continued. "And from what I've found out, Noboru-kun is quite the student. After all, he graduated in the top five of his class."

I looked around, trying to locate the origin of the voice. "Oi! Who the hell are you and how do you know I am?" I demanded from the voice. I was seriously feeling more frustrated than before. I hate being in the dark.

"Oh, Noboru-kun, there's very little that I, the CEO of MBI, Hiroto Minaka do not know. Also, you seem to have come here on your own, deciding to test for Teitou University. With your test scores throughout high school, I wouldn't be surprised if you did get in. You're quite the diligent student."

I clicked my tongue, deciding to remain still. I had heard of MBI when I was still at home and how it was introducing revolutionary medical technology to the country. The moment my mother heard about it, she instantly told me to try my utmost to get a job working for them when I graduated from the University, assuming I would get in, or course.

Minaka continued to blither on and on as the elevator silently rose through the tower. I chose to blot him out, inside deciding to give Benitsubasa a questioning look, who opted to ignore me. I wasn't sure what was going on with her, but I could audibly hear her breathing heavier and heavier, her shoulders quivering with each breath.

"Uh, hey, are you okay?" I reached forward and gently placed a hand on her shoulder.

Of course the doors opened right then and Benitsubasa sprinted right through the opening, leaving me standing there with my hand in the air like a fucking idiot.

However, there seemed to be a man standing in front o the elevator as it opened. He was dressed professionally in a suit and had that stylishly messy hair I've seen so many times on pretty boys in high school. He seemed to step quickly to the side when Benitsubasa went flying out of the elevator. "My, what's the matter with Benitsubasa?" He asked me with a small smile. When I said, he simply smiled and beckoned towards me. "Well, come on. I have to take you to the CEO. He seems to want to speak with you."

Benitsubasa stumbled into a large room filled with an assortment of furniture. She quickly walked to the nearest couch and fell onto it, trying to rein in her breathing.

"You're early. I figured you would take longer since you said you were going shopping." Another person spoke, not bothering to turn from the television. She was a woman of similar age to Benitsubasa, but her entire body was wrapped in bandages and she wore a very loose kimono that did little to cover the bandages. A blue obi was wrapped around her waist and wrapped around that were a pair of belts. A collar was around her throat, with a single ring in the front hanging downwards. Her shaggy white hair fell haphazardly all over her head, obscuring on her eyes. Lazily leaning back, she looked over the back end of the couch and took a good look at Benitsubasa. "Oh…you seem to be reacting…"

"No shit, Haihane." She pushed herself upright, holding a hand against her pounding chest.

Haihane was silent for a moment, then said, "That doesn't look comfortable… Why didn't let him wing you?"

Benitsubasa sucked in a panting breath and glared at her sister Sekirei. "He isn't my Ashikabi, Natsuo is. This is just a…test given to me to see if I'll remain loyal to my love to my dear Natsuo!"

Haihane turned back to the television. "You should…just give up on him. Natsuo is gay; I thought we already established this…"

"That's a test too!" The pink haired Sekirei retorted after a moments pause. "There will come a day when realizes his true feelings."

"Then you better keep an eye on your Ashikabi…"

"That boy is not my Ashikabi!" She cried, suddenly losing her breath. Upon mention of Noboru, she felt her heart pound even harder. Her face turned even redder as she felt her legs quiver.

Haihane turned again and arched her only visible eyebrow. "If he's causing you to react that much…then he's one hell of an Ashikabi…" She was silent for a few moments, then said, "What's his name?"

"He said his name's Noboru Shizuka…or something."

Haihane paused and turned away from Benitsubasa. After a few moments of watching TV and hearing Benitsubasa's shaking breath, Haihane grabbed the remote and shut the TV off. Getting up, she started to walk out the room.

"W-where are you going?" Benitsubasa was shocked at the fact that her voice was now stuttering due to the reaction.

"Seeing whose got you so hot and bothered." Haihane simply continued to walk out of the room.

"W-wait!" Benitsubasa tried to stand but her legs nearly gave out beneath her. She managed to grab hold of the couch and get better footing. "Let me come with you."

Haihane simply gave her a look. "O…kay."

I was lead into a large white office with a single desk sitting several feet from the door. I looked to the desk and saw a man dressed in a white suit and an oversized white overcoat. Upon seeing me, he beamed, "Well, we finally meet, Noboru-kun." He proclaimed as he began walking towards me.

Shaking my head, I said, "I only got here little under an hour ago. What would give you a reason to want to meet me?"

Minaka simply grinned and placed a hand on my shoulder. "You see, Noboru-kun, when you first met Benitsubasa-kun, one of her attendants let me know. As soon as I learned of it, I had my computers compile a background check." Nodding, he continued, "I like what I saw. You're intelligent, diligent and you have high aspirations."

I simply gave him a blank look. "And?"

"I have a proposition for you." He took a few steps from me and crossed his arms.

"Which is…?" I arched an eyebrow at the eccentric CEO.

"Take up a position at MBI and we'll pay your way through the University if you get in; or you can say no."

I blinked, more than a little surprised. "I'm sorry? What position would this be? And why would you pick me?"

Minaka simply laughed, shaking his head. "You're an exceptional young man, Noboru-kun. You made one of my specified Sekirei for the Discipline Squad react. So I want to make you the Ashikabi of the Discipline Squad. Essentially, all you'll be doing is babysitting the girls."

Babysitting, huh? That doesn't sound so bad if he pays my way through college… Wait a fucking minute! What the hell did just say? "Could you repeat something for me? Ashi-whats-it and wagtails? What does a bird have to do with babysitting and what are you going to call me?"

Natsuo cleared his throat, "You see, Noboru-kun, what the Director means is that Sekirei are…special…beings that need an Ashikabi or…well, 'leader' would be a sufficient term right now. He's asking if you want to be their 'leader' and make sure they don't cause mayhem due to boredom."

I nodded, understanding it a little more. However, a single thing was bugging me. "Okay, this is what I'm getting right now. You're asking me to babysit some special individuals and keep them entertained. If I do so, then I pretty much have a guaranteed 'scholarship' of sorts to go through Teitou, right?" Minaka nodded, looking pleased that I was getting what he was telling. "However, I get the feeling that this is a lot of classified information you loading me with right now. So…what if I say 'no'?"

Minaka frowned, "If you deny my oh-so-generous offer, then I'll have to have you escorted off the property and have my men keep a close eye on you so that you can't tell anyone."

"If I do…" I said, testing the waters gingerly.

"Then we would have to silence you."

I groaned audibly, letting my distaste at the possibility of being 'silenced' known. "You're pointing a loaded gun at me, you know that right?"

Minaka shrugged, "I am offering you the chance of a lifetime."

I sighed, scratching my head lightly. "Well, I 'm no idiot, so I'll say yes…"

Minaka grinned and approached me, his hand outstretched. "Goo-"

"On one condition." I said, looking the man straight in the eye.

He paused, frowning. "Which is?"

I closed my eyes, releasing a small breath. "Whatever my pay is, I want you to send a third of it to my parents. My mother wanted me to go to a good school, but didn't want me to go so far. They let me come in spite of that and paid for the train ticket along with a room at the hotel, so I want to pay them back."

Minaka smiled widely, "Such filial piety! It's good to see that someone as loyal as you is joining the MBI family." I took his hand and we shook, though he did it more enthusiastically than I would have preferred. He released my hand and said to Natsuo. "Natsuo-kun, send some men to pick up Noboru-kun's belongings and check him out of the hotel." He looked back to me, "You'll be staying in your own personal suite, here in Teitou Tower."

Natsuo nodded and beckoned me to follow, "Come, Noboru-kun. I'll introduce you to your new coworkers as I send for your things."

I nodded and waved lazily at the CEO, walking away from him. As we walked out of the office, I watched as Natsuo pulled out his cell and call someone, telling them the directions the hotel, my room number and to get my things. After he did that, I asked him, "So…who are the people I'm babysitting?"

"Truthfully, it's three people you'll be working closely with: one of them, Karasuba, is off on a job for the Director. The other two are in the lounge right now. Also, you've already been acquainted with one of them." Natsuo said easily, which caused me to stop mid-step.

I paused, blinking once…then twice. After a third time, I said, "Hold up…I'm watching the crazy girl who basically slapped me out of the limousine and dragged me away from my lunch?" At the mention of lunch, my stomach grumbled angrily.

Natsuo nodded at me, an amused look on his face. "Yes, I believe so." We approached his desk and he opened one of the drawers, handing me something he pulled from one of them. "Take this card, it'll suffice as a pass until we can get one made for you. Also, after I show you to the lounge, I'll have the cooks make something for you."

I took it and released a breath. "Thank you." I clipped the card onto my shirt and said, "Now where is this lounge? My feet are killing me." I felt dead tired and hungry, not the best combination when you're dealing with growing insanity.

"I'll take you there." Natsuo shut the drawer and began walking. I followed him and we quickly approached a set of double doors. As we got closer, they were pushed opened by a white-haired girl with bangs covering her left eye, covered in bandages, a tattered black kimono with a strange symbol on the left side, a blue obi with two belts wrapped around it and a choker around her neck.

Holding onto her arm was Benitsubasa, who looked as though her flush from earlier was completely taking over her entire face.

"Well, what a coincidence, I was just going to introduce the two of you to Noboru." He looked to me, "Noboru, this is Haihane." He pointed to the girl in bandages. "And you already know Benitsubasa." Turning back to the girls, he continued, "It seems the Director has finally chosen an Ashikabi for the Squad and here he is." He gestured to me.

I simply stood in that spot, looking from girl to girl. After a moment of silence, I lifted a hand and said a single word. "Yo." I'm the master of the icebreaker, aren't I?

Haihane looked to me, then towards Benitsubasa. "I don't see why you're complaining about. He's actually pretty cute."

I had to fight the urge to lift my hands and give her two thumbs up. I like Haihane already.

Benitsubasa sputtered, not meeting anyone's eye. "He's no Natsuo…"

Natsuo pursed his lips. "Now, now, Benitsubasa. You can't let personal feelings get in the way of your duty. You agreed to join the Squad on the condition that the Director chose your Ashikabi. Just be glad that the man winging you is the one you're reacting to."

"But I'm not reacting to him!"

Haihane snorted, "Then what is all this?" She motioned to Benitsubasa's entire body.

She muttered, "I have a cold."

Haihane rolled her eyes.

Once again, my stomach rumbled. "As much as I find all of this bickering entertaining and stand-up worthy, I'm hungry as hell. How do I do this 'winging' so I can go ahead and sit down and eat?"

Natsuo smiled at my sarcasm and looked to the girls in front of us. "I'll leave the three of you to your devices, there things I must attend to. Noboru-kun, you're meal will be up in a little under half an hour." He turned and walked away.

I watched him go and turned to face the girls, only to have Haihane standing directly in front of me. "Can I help you?"

"I'm going to show you how to wing me." She said softly. Leaning in, she placed her hands on my cheeks and pressed her lips onto mine. I froze under the kiss, completely caught off guard. However, the fact that a girl I just met was kissing me wasn't the strangest thing. The strangest thing was that a burst of light erupted from between her shoulders. The light was in the shape of wings. I now know what they meant by a 'winging'.

When stepped away from me, I swayed lightly, still off-kilter from the sudden kiss. She grinned easily, "Surprised?" I nodded quickly, but managed to right myself. She smirked and turned to Benitsubasa. "It's your turn."

Surprisingly, Benitsubasa was glaring daggers of concentrated hate towards Haihane. She was leaning against the side of the door, trying to keep herself from falling. When she finally faced me, she muttered, "I'm only doing this because I have to, not because I think anything of you." She continued to mutter this, as though it were a mantra of sorts. She managed to stumbled towards me, nearly falling into my arms. I managed to catch her by the arms and hold her against me. She glared lightly up at me and leaned in close. When our lips finally met, I felt her melt against me, pressing her entire body against mine.

Only a single thought went through my mind:

Her lips are so soft.