Prologue:

The sunset of the schoolyard was quite a sight from the roof. The pair took little notice, though, as always. This was a place for information to pass hands, not for admiring the vista.

After the violet-haired girl with the green bow was finished with her speech, she turned to the boy, asking, "Any questions?"

He stared out toward the track below them, trying to phrase it so it didn't sound stupid. Yuri was always chiding Otonashi about his ignorance. Just the same, he felt he needed an answer.

"So... has the Battlefront ever... fought someone other than Angel?" Otonashi asked, trying to mask his step back, remembering all the stupid questions from him, and especially the other members, that ended in beatings.

As she opened her mouth to deliver what seemed to her an obvious answer, she stopped, her features growing softer, contemplating. There was something... something there, amongst the memories that she'd noticed. It was a person... or at least like one...

"There... was someone," she stated, to her own surprise. Otonashi raised his eyebrows expectantly, revoking the step backward.

"Who?" he pressed.

Yuri strained her mind to remember... but very little came. The only thing she saw was fighting, and a lot of it. She could see a boy, about Otonashi's age, but there was no name...

She could see him, though, clear as day. Fighting with Guard Skills and guns alike. He was dressed in a dark uniform, with a dark hood and scarf covering all but his eyes.

She remembered staring down the barrel of a black revolver, and hearing a click...

Yuri shook away that memory, then started, admitting her own ignorance, "I can't remember his name..." Something flashed in her mind, and she quickly covered her answer, "But we did call him something.?

Otonashi waited for a minute, then asked, "So, what was it?"

Yuri turned to him, remembering in detail the fights, his ruthlessness, and his odd protection of Angel, "We called him... 'Archangel'."

Chapter 1:

The boy strode through the halls with confidence, looking around at his people. As student body president, they were, in fact, his people.

He turned to see the small girl with the silver hair and golden eyes, struggling to keep pace, as always, but trying not to make it obvious. He laughed a bit, saying, "Come on, Tachibana, keep up! Never gonna be president if you can't catch me."

Tachibana smiled a bit, jogging to his side. Ryou Sakushika had a long stride, and for someone as small as her, no wonder she was left in the dust. Still, the simple motivation was enough.

Ryou turned to face down a hallway, quickly scanning the students standing there. There were a few "real" students, actual human souls transported to this purgatory school, and quite a few that the "real" students nicknamed "NPCs", realistic emulations of humans, but nothing more.

This was part of the reason he wouldn't take an NPC as a vice president, they couldn't reason like a real person. They could try, Ryou gave them that, but they lacked a certain something in the execution.

He turned around to face Tachibana, comparing her for a second to an NPC. He'd believe she was, if not for the fact that he met her when she first got here. Ryou searched his mind... that must have been a few months ago. Ryou then counted his own time... going on two years.

It wasn't like he didn't know how to leave, far from it. He was here mainly to help others leave. In the back of his mind, though, he could never really come to peace with life...

He pulled himself out of thought, and heard a dull buzz in his ear. Tachibana seemed to have been talking the entire time he was thinking.

"...have to go to the staff meeting after this, okay?" she finished. He waved a hand half-heartedly, a "sure, why not?" gesture. Ryou continued on to his class, leaving Tachibana to her own devices.

He stepped into the classroom, and was met by a glaring face. Sitting in a desk near the back was Yuri Nakamura, hoping that through staring at him, she could set him ablaze.

Nakamura was notorious to all the NPC staff members for her misbehavior and outright rebellious attitude. Ryou knew it was because she knew about this world, more than she let on.

He knew her kind all too well, those who took the brunt of life's anger. They had one traumatizing event that completely shifted their view of the world, and they could never get over it. They always raised some kind of hell when coming to the Afterlife, so Ryou tried to keep tabs on them.

Nakamura was different, though. She wasn't like the other devil-may-care, shoot-from-the-hip souls, she put a method to her madness. Those were the worst, the ones who would plan their chaos.

Ryou sat down in a seat a couple aisles to the right, acting as if he didn't notice her gaze of death. He would have preferred sitting behind her, it made it easier to keep watch without getting called out on it, but she was seated on the back row.

Throughout the class, Ryou was bombarded by half-hearted attempts to anger him. Everything from sabotaging a test to simple spitwads. At the end of class, she stood up, faced Ryou, and said, "God, doesn't anything piss you off?!"

Ryou turned in his seat, put on the biggest smile he could manage, and said calmly, "If you want a date, you don't have to pick on me, just ask."

Nakamura stormed from the room, blushing heavily. A few of the students snickered at the remark, but Ryou didn't take much notice. The teacher was fruitlessly trying to call Nakamura back to her seat from the doorway until class had ended.

Ryou strode out the door before the bell silenced, looking in the direction she stormed off to. It was pointless, he knew, but one could never be too sure. He turned around and made his way through the labyrinth to the student council room and the staff meeting.

Ryou sat there thoroughly uninterested, his head in his hands. Staff meetings were always dull, and he just didn't have it in him to act enthused right now.

On the outside, Ryou was lazily staring about the room, his eyes stopping from time to time to look at nothing in particular. On the inside, he was trying to deduce where Nakamura had fled after class. It was as if someone had an overlay of the school on his eyes, and he was systematically going through every room from the class to the end of the school. Easier said than done, since she'd gone east from the west wing.

After a few more minutes, he looked up to everyone staring at him. Ryou asked the obvious question, "What?"

Tachibana chimed in next to him, "Do you think it's a good idea?"

Ryou, in his utter ignorance of the situation, tried to cover, "Well, what's your opinion, Tachibana?"

She turned and looked across the table in thought, then said, "Well, it seems like a good idea to me."

"Then what the hell, why not?" Ryou answered, glad no one realized he didn't hear a word of it, but still unsettled from agreeing to something blindly. They all nodded in agreement, which settled him a little more.

The others continued on in the unintelligible prattle while Ryou let his mind return to the blueprint only he could see. He started ruling out specific rooms, such as the cafeteria, because there was nothing of prominent use there. At first, he thought she would just head off to her dormitory or just somewhere to relax, but this didn't feel right. Something about her demeanor told of a mission, something that needed doing. Considering it was Nakamura, it couldn't be good.

Ryou let his mind wander on this until there was no point in wandering further, then he wondered what it was he'd agreed to with the student council, but this was but a mere distraction. All of the people in the room, save for Tachibana and himself, were soulless NPCs. It wasn't likely they'd oust him or plan to demolish the school, it literally wasn't in them.

He lazily turned to Tachibana, who sat upright and attentive, taking in every word as if it were scripture. She is so much better suited to this than I am, Ryou thought, giving a small laugh. Tachibana looked at him quizzically, but the NPCs took no notice, and Ryou dismissed her unspoken question with the wave of a hand.

After a long while, running out of things to think about half-way through the meeting, everyone was dismissed. Ryou stayed behind, calling for Tachibana to remain with him.

She complied, walking back to the table and sitting in the chair to his right. Ryou sat in thought for a couple of minutes, then turned to Tachibana and said, "Nakamura stormed out of the classroom today, and I would like to find out where she's gone."

Tachibana cocked her head slightly, saying, "Wouldn't she just return to her room?"

Ryou shook his head, "She went in the completely opposite direction. I think she's up to something again."

Tachibana finished his thought before he did, "And you would like me to find her?"

Ryou smiled a bit, "If it's not too much trouble."

With just the hint of a smile in return, she got up from her chair and left, with Ryou following suit.

Back in his dormitory, Ryou waited, his favorite chair squeaking slightly as he rocked in it. Of course, the office-style swivel chair wasn't built to rock, but Ryou had used this chair ever since he arrived in this world. It wasn't going to give out now.

He checked the clock again. 7:39 p.m.. He had sent Tachibana to find Nakamura over four hours ago, and she hadn't returned yet. Ryou tried reasoning, but gave it up an hour ago. Was she still looking? No, Tachibana knows when to quit. Would she forget to report back? Hardly, she never forgot to check in. So what was holding her up?

Ryou stared at the door, as if she would magically materialize behind it and enter. After a few minutes, his dry eyes so kindly reminded him to blink by burning furiously. He often forgot to do such things like blink or even breathe when he was anxious, and it was none too pleasant when his body reminded him of it.

The handle on the door clicked, swinging it open slowly. Tachibana entered with a defeated look on her face. Ryou knew why, her very entrance telling the story for her, but she always confirmed it in words.

"I'm sorry, Ryou," she said, her voice seeming smaller than usual.

Ryou leaned forward in his chair a bit, motioning for her to sit down. "Wanna tell me what happened?"

Tachibana obediently sat on the bed nearby, gathering her thoughts. It had only been a request, not an order, to share the experience, yet Tachibana spoke.

"I searched the school for about an hour and a half, and I found Nakamura walking out of a room, acting suspicious. I followed her for a while, then she turned a few corners and disappeared. I searched for her, but she'd just... vanished."

Ryou rubbed his chin, "Well, what about the room?"

Tachibana looked up, "Stranger still, I couldn't find the room. It had vanished, too."

"Are you sure you didn't just forget where it was?"

"Positive. I was in the same hall, looking at the same wall, but there was no room and no door. It was just... gone."

Author's note:

I made this because nowhere in the anime/manga/novels does it say HOW Kanade learned to do what she does. It seemed a bit unnatural for her to just know how to program such complicated things. No matter who you are, what you do, and how well you do it, there's always a mentor that taught you how.

I may not have very... consistent updates on this, but I assure you, there WILL be updates. I don't plan on scrapping this project, especially when it seems I'm the first to write on this premise. Probably not true, but I'm the first I've seen. :D