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Post Reply Fate Quartet
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Posted 12/20/08
-------------------------------------------------------------

And now, all was well.
Reiji held Miyako’s hand as they were heading home.
‘I guess we’re a couple now? So in the end I became a lolicon?’ Reiji probably should’ve expected this outcome from the beginning.

“Reiji…what do you want to eat today?” Miyako said, from her tone and the fact that she wasn’t looking at Reiji meant she was embarrassed. The redness in her cheeks were a good sign too.
“I-I-I’ll cook for you.” She stuttered.

Remembering the last time Miyako cooked, Reiji was skeptical. The fire department said; ‘it was the worst cooking he’d ever seen by one person’ and than Reiji had to hold Miyako back from unleashing her anger on the people who insulted the burned meal. Which Reiji ate anyways…hence he got sick for weeks, promptly sending him to the emergency room.
“Uh, no, that’s okay! Just leave the cooking to me!” Reiji didn’t want Miyako to cook…ever…

“Th-th-th-than, can I-I-I-I…” She was having a lot of trouble saying this next sentence. “Sp-sp-sp-spend the night at yo-y-y-y-your place?!” It was obvious to see why she was embarrassed to say it.

“…” Reiji didn’t speak at first. His focus was occupied with the sound of flapping wings within the blowing winds.
When he looked in the direction, he saw a bird soaring through the sky. He stared at it until it disappeared within the skies.


‘You may be gone, but not forgotten.’

Reiji smiled, and than he turned towards Miyako, “Sure.” He answered her question, and added a quick kiss.
Than the new couple went on their way.

‘I understand what your gift meant.
You’re still walking amongst this world.
Right, Ayane?’





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Posted 12/20/08 , edited 12/20/08
Story 3:


-10 years ago-

"Ever since I was young, I had never been able to stand up for myself."

On a spring day, 3 Jr. high students surrounded an elementary schooler, holding a book out of the elementary schooler's reach. "Give it back!" He pleaded as he kept jumping to get it, and they just kept laughing. His anger growing, he threw a punch directly at the one who was holding the book.

"It was just a book to some people, but to me it was an important item, that's why, even though I was weak I would've done anything to protect it."

As his fist made contact with their cheek, a cracking sound heard by all four boys, while the other three were stunned and amazed, the elementary schooler made a mad dash for his airborne book. He dived for it, and just barely caught it, now dirty and a little scraped, but with the book in hand he was relieved.
That was until all 3 boys crowded around him. "Hey, kid, you got a lot of guts." One of them stepped on his back. "But you gotta pay now, for hitting me that is." He cracked his knuckles.
They had been punching and kicking him while he was down for a while, all the while, he just held onto that book making sure it was completely safe.

Just than, a small voice shouted out; "Hey you, quit bullying Haruyo!!!" After that voice, a random small body just kicked the nearest middle schooler. She was so small, smaller than Haruyo, and yet the force of her kick had enough force to throw the biggest of them back about 10 feet.
She jumped over Haruyo to the other two and threw two strong, simultaneous punches directly to their guts causing them to kneel over holding their stomach in pain, it looked like they were about to lose their lunch.

"I probably would've died many times if she wasn't there, my savior, Ryoko."

The little girl stood confidently next to Haruyo, she pointed directly at the three of them. "Listen up, don't want to feel anymore pain, than never come near Haruyo again. He's under my 24/7 protection plan!"

"Ah, run guys!" The three middle schoolers ran away with their tails between their legs.

"That's right, run away you weaklings!" She shouted at them.
She took a deep breathe to relieve her anger, there was a lot left over but she got over it pretty quickly. She turned to Haruyo and helped him get back to his feet. "Haruyo, you have to get stronger, you're a man aren't you?" She criticized him while dusting himself off.
Her eyes were drawn to the thing in Haruyo's hands, clutched to his chest. "Is that the manga I gave you when we first met?"

Haruyo looked away, even though he was very good friends with Ryoko, he was still a shy little kid so it was tough to look her in the eye from time to time.
"See, I kept it safe." He held it out to her, revealing it's perfect condition.

She tilted her head to one side and smiled, "Alright...good job, Haruyo." She pat him on the shoulder.

"I didn't care that people didn't consider me a man, because Ryoko would always protect me, I was fine with that...because Ryoko was...an irreplaceable person to me."


-------------------------------------------
-present day-

Haruyo and Ryoko's houses were literally 12 inches apart, the windows to their rooms within arm's reach. On a daily basis they'd talk to each other.
Though today was different from their usual conversations.
"I got confessed to by, Sachita-senpai, today!" Ryoko exclaimed in such a happy tone, it was almost unlike her.

Haruyo felt a clenching in his chest, an uncomfortable feeling that he didn't like. Ryoko's words still ran through his mind, and the only thing he responded with was: "Eh?"

Ryoko smiled and patted Haruyo's head. "This means we won't be able to hang around together like we used to, because I'll have my wonderful boyfriend with me so much." She was literally beaming, her cheeks rosy red, and acting like a preppy school girl.

Haruyo almost said; "Who are you and what have you done with, Ryoko?"
But the only words that came out of his mouth were; "Oh, okay."

She touched her lips with her index finger, as if hinting that they've kissed already, "It's a really nice feeling, kissing that is." She said in a low voice. Her cheeks turned even redder than before, "Oh, what am I saying, of course you wouldn't understand what having a relationship is like!" She laughed at is as a joke.

A number of sentences appeared in Haruyo's head, practically begging to be voiced. And once again, Haruyo's apathy-filled response was; "Yah."

The phone in Ryoko's room rang. She nearly fell out of the window in surprise if she hadn't caught herself in time, "Phew, I was about to die after getting a boyfriend."
She looked up to Haruyo, "Well, I'll talk to you whenever I see you, than. Bye, bye, Haruyo." She closed the window as Haruyo held out his hand, about to say something else.
"A painful, tight feeling that continually pulled at my chest. I didn't understand what it meant, but I knew this much...I hated it."
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--------------
That night was one of the most restless of Haruyo's life, his mind constantly playing back his encounter with Ryoko today like a broken DVD.
As he lied on his futon amongst various anime related goods, scattered around his small messy, room, staring up at the same spot in the ceiling it got him thinking;
"Why is this bothering me so much?" He just couldn't arrive at a valid conclusion at all, it was like trying to describe the color green to a blind man.
He turned on his side, tired of his current view. "It's none of my business...Ryoko is happy now, right? I should be happy for her?" Who was he trying to fool into believing it? He knew in his heart that he couldn't feel happiness for Ryoko's new relationship no matter how he tried to look at it.
"I don't own Ryoko...it's her life, she's free to do whatever she wants."

He saw a transparent little hand come into his view, he slowly reached out to it. The moment he had touched the palm, the hand vanished as if it wasn't there. Afterwards, he fell into a spontaneously generated hole in the ground, falling deeper and deeper until he could no longer see the ceiling.
His deep hazel eyes shot open. His breathing heavy and sweating, he placed a hand over his face. "Just a nightmare." When looking at the clock by his futon, 20 minutes hadn't even passed.
"I...don't need Ryoko's hand anymore..." He wanted to believe that, he wanted to forget her, he wanted to push her as far away from his mind as possible.
---------------------------------------------------------------
"I didn't see much of Ryoko in the weeks that followed. It was the first time in a long time that I really felt alone."

Haruyo ate his lunch in the 'club-room' which only consisted of himself and 3 other people, one of them Ryoko.
The club room was a small, rectangular shaped room. In the back of the room was book shelf stacked with manga volumes, some games, some anime dvds, a shelf of plastic models.
Posters were all over the walls.
There was a TV adjacent from the book shelf. A couple boxes for unsorted goods were everywhere in the room.
But today he was alone. Eating some bread from the campus cafeteria.
"Cheap and delicious." He said with happiness. His head hit the table, "Why am I talking to myself?" He felt kind of embarrassed to be talking to himself, even though he was alone.

The door opened. Two guys, twice as big as Haruyo entered.
Haruyo recognized them.
"How did these guys get into college?" Everyone knew for a fact these guys got into law trouble a lot, it's amazing they haven't been sent to jail yet.

"Hey, Haruyo, right...we don't got enough money for food, and we're starving." They walked around the table to Haruyo. "You've got money right?"
The tone of voice made Haruyo's hands tremble in fear.

"I...I don't have any money." Haruyo had wasted his money on the bread he had just eaten. "I...I'm about to leave, and...the rules say no one can be in here when there aren't any club members around."

"Is that so, in that case initiate us in your little club." Bully number 2 emphasized the word 'little'.

"You can't." Haruyo exclaimed, "There are certain qualities one must possess, certain standards to join this club and-" Haruyo watched as bully number 1 fiddled with one of the plastic models Ryoko built.

"What the hell is this thing? Ewl, is this, what you jack off to? Can't find a real girl, eh?" He laughed at Haruyo.

Haruyo reached out to take it away. The bullies reflexes were faster, so he kicked Haruyo directly in the stomach. He didn't care even a little bit.
Haruyo held his stomach, as he fell onto his knees feeling nothing but pain, and shortness of breath. He reached out to the plastic model, "Give it back." He pleaded in a weak voice.

"You want this back?" He put it on the floor. "Go ahead and take it, little otaku."

Not seeing the obvious bully trap, Haruyo reached out to it.
'Things like these are important to the ones who painstakingly made them, no one wants to see them destroyed.'
Just than, bully number one smashed the plastic model with his foot.

"Oh whoops, my foot slipped." He said sarcastically, both bullies laughed at Haruyo's misfortune.

Haruyo felt a sudden surge of anger rise up inside him, "Bastards." Haruyo said in a whispered voice.

"What was that?" Bully one leaned in closer to Haruyo, "You wanna speak up? Come on, that little bitch of yours isn't around to help you anymore."

"Yah, yah, seems she found someone who doesn't need a woman's protection. I bet he's showing her the time of her life right about now. The two of them, all alone, without some annoying shota-looking otaku brat around."

"Yah, she's probably begging for more right about now, screaming at the top of her lungs. How does that make you feel, that you can never compete? Well, little otaku?"

All these words, they were just fueling the flames of Haruyo's anger. His fist clenched so tight it was starting to hurt, he felt like shouting, his teeth clenched so tight.
"Shut up." Haruyo whispered silently.

"Come again, little otaku, we still can't hear you. Got something to say than say it! Come on, hit me! What'cha matter, too sc-"

"I SAID SHUT UP!!!" Shouted Haruyo as he delivered a punch directly to his face, the strongest punch he could muster. So strong, even the after-effects of the swing hurt his arm.
He could feel the bullies' jaw shatter from that punch, he looked just as surprised as Haruyo felt. Haruyo had already thrown the first punch.
"Don't ever throw a punch if you're not prepared to get punched. That's what Ryoko told me a long time ago."

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------------------
You'd probably like to hear, "with new found strength, Haruyo was able to beat the bullies and he was now able to stand up for himself from now on." Right?
Too bad this isn't a fairytale world, also that wouldn't make a very interesting story.

Haruyo sat in a corner of the room, looking completely beat-up. Plenty of bruises, and bleeding. He was in so much pain he couldn't stand.
"...heh..." He laughed at himself as he saw how messed up the club room looked, "At least I got in a few good hits, right?" Haruyo seemed content with just that.
But he kept thinking about Ryoko and her boyfriend.
He heaved a deep sigh, and stared up at the ceiling. "It's none of my business, Ryoko's happy now...right? Isn't that what matters?" Even if he said that, he couldn't get rid of that clenching, irritating feeling in his chest.

"Is that really okay?" A quiet, female voice spoke from the open window. A black cat with white stripes sat in the window, a bell collar around it‘s neck.
"There are still things you have to say, right?"

Haruyo, wasn't in the least concerned about a talking cat in front of him, when he's seen things like these hundreds of times anyways.
"What do you mean? Ryoko is just my childhood friend."

"If she's just a childhood friend, why are you dwelling on this so much?" The cat paced around Haruyo. "Why would you fight a battle you couldn't win over some words by sad, hopeless people like them?"

Before Haruyo could answer he heard voices accompanied by footsteps coming his way. When looking back to the cat, he found it had vanished as if it had never existed.

"Yah, and than Kana-chan shouted out, "There's nothing I can't break!" and than her death scene was epic."

"Yo pres-" The two club members stopped when seeing the state of the club room and Haruyo.
Like the loyal friends they were, they rushed to his side. "Hey, president, what happened?! President?! Haruyo!"

"Hey...guys..." Haruyo finally lost consciousness, while hearing the words; "Haruyo, hang on!"
--------------------------------------------------------------

The first thing Haruyo saw when he opened his eyes, a white tiled ceiling that he hadn't seen since he ate something he was allergic to a couple years ago.
"...This ceiling again..." Haruyo didn't like waking up in a hospital bed. When looking around the room, he found no one there. Not a soul.
‘I remember, a long time ago, when I got beat up really bad in middle school by some guys looking for revenge against Ryoko, she beat them up. I still ended up in the hospital, but she waited by my side.
But she’s not here now.’

It just meant that times have changed since than. Haruyo wondered if he’d just fade away from Ryoko’s memory?
He sighed to himself as he lied back down. Than he heard that bell sound again.

The black cat stood at the foot of Haruyo‘s bedside,
“Things won’t go back to the way they were.”

“Yah, I know that, still…I want to still be her friend.”

“No you don’t.” The cat cut him off, “You’ve been so used to you being the only one in her view that you’re only lying to yourself.”

“So what?” It wasn’t like he didn’t already figure that out. “Even if it’s a lie, if I believe it’s truth, than someday it might become true. Besides, Ryoko is happy, if I tried to steal her for myself than I‘d be lower than scum.”

“True.” The black cat paced around the bed’s edges. “Humans are quite strange are they not? You don’t realize how much you need something…until it’s out of your grasp, and than you try to take it back. Some of you call it love…I call it obsession.” She said with disgust.
As she finished her sentence, the door slid open.

Haruyo had been expecting Ryoko, instead it was just his two club members.
“President, you alright?” Haruyo’s club members were old friends of his he met back in high school, they took his same college classes.
One of them wore a gray hoodie and black jeans, the other wore a black jacket with a white undershirt and dark blue pants. Both of them were just as much an otaku as Haruyo.

“Sho, Ryuu?” Haruyo addressed them. He wasn’t exactly surprised to see them here, they had brought him here while he was passed out.

“You okay, dude?” Ryuu took a seat on the stool nearby. “We called Ryoko, but-” Sho touched Ryuu’s shoulder and shook his head.

“It’s alright…I already know…” Haruyo figured they were just trying to protect him. “She was with Sachita-senpai, right?” The fact that they didn’t answer meant Haruyo was right.
“I see, well,” He sat up, “I guess I better head out now.”

“Hold on, your bruises-”

Haruyo held up his palm, “I am fine.” He quoted as he got to his feet. “Help me get my stuff.” He looked back to them, knowing what they wanted to asked.
“Can we discuss this tomorrow? Right now I just wanna go home and play some neglected video games.”

“You’re hiding in your own little world aren’t you?”
The black cat walked by the door, but no one other than Haruyo seemed to notice.
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not your average stray cat.”

“I noticed.” He spoke with his mind, he wouldn't want Ryuu and Sho to hear what he was saying.

“And you’re not scared?”

“It’s not the first time I’ve seen it.” Talking cats were common sights in the otaku life-style.
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--------------------------------------------
-next day-

And so, the three otakus were back in the club room, sitting at their table.
It was Sho who began, “So, about Ryoko, we heard she’s going out with Sachita-senpai.”

“Yah…” Haruyo said with little emotion.

“And you’re fine with that?” Ryuu persisted, it was common knowledge between the three of them of Haruyo and Ryoko’s past.

“What do you mean?” Haruyo asked as he got out of his chair. “Ryoko is…free to do what she wants.”

“…Haruyo, I understand why you don’t want to interfere but, there’s something you should know.” Sho took a deep breathe, preparing for something important to say. “There’s been a lot of rumors surrounding Sachita-senpai, I heard that he’s a huge playboy. On the outside, he seems like a great guy, but in actuality he’s got some sick, and twisted fantasies going on in his head.” He reached for the piece of paper across the paper, and than a pen.
“Basically, it looks little something like this.” With the speed of his hand he drew a quick picture. It showed a chibi Ryoko being manipulated like a puppet by a chibi Sachita.
“But it’s all just rumors, speculation, if there was any factual evidence to the claims, he’d probably be put away for a long time.”

“See, that’s why we’ve got to find out for ourselves, investigate like detectives!” Ryuu was obviously trying to light a fire in Haruyo.
Sho was onboard, as proven when he raised his hand.

Haruyo just organized the manga bookshelves.
“Ryoko can take care of herself.” He was completely unwilling to investigate.

“…Fine, we won’t investigate. Instead, we’ll go to her concert tonight.” Ryoko was the lead singer/guitarist in a band she‘d been in since high-school, they were pretty good.
---------------------------------------

-later that night-

The band was playing at a local club, once the three of them proved they were friends of Ryoko, (They had pictures) it was easy to get past the big, scary, security guards.

"..." Once inside the three were silent.
And then Ryuu finally said, "...I pray we never see that guy again..."

"Though we probably will." Sho said as he pushed past the crowd.
"It's packed as always." It was as if he'd been here various times.

"How many times have you been here?" Ryuu asked as he too pushed through the massive crowd.

"I've been to every one of her concerts. I've got a lot of free time." He answered without delay.

"Isn't it because you have a crush on the drummer girl?" Ryuu saw through his normal-voiced act.

Sho flinched, "...Don't know what you're talking about..." Calm and collected as ever.
"Anyways, there's your princess." He pointed to the stage.

On stage the lights were flashing everywhere, the stage was completely dark flashing from time to time.
Ryoko was the first to appear on the stage.
She took the mike stand and said in a clear voice that projected across the room, "Seasons greetings, from Midnight Cross." She addressed her fans through their screaming cheers.
Only waiting for a few moments, she continued, "I hope you're ready to bleed out your ears." With each word, and flashing light more of her band mates appeared.
Until finally, all 4 of them were on stage.
"First song; Black Heart."
And so the music started.
"..." Haruyo remained silent as he watched Ryoko do what she liked to do.

"Her lyrics had always seemed so sad and angry, when I asked her about it long ago whether she was angry she answered, 'of course', when I pressed the issue she simply responded, 'life sucks, a lot of us just want to it be easy but we all realize that life is never easy, I get into a lot of fights so I'm always angry. But I'm using that anger for a good thing, so it's alright'
I'll never understand her logic-"


"Are you narrating in your head again?" Sho seemed to pick up on it because Haruyo had just been staring blankly in front of him.

"Sorry, it's still a habit." Haruyo explained, he laughed nervously while scratching the back of his head.

"Well, while you were narrating the song ended. They're setting up for the next one." Sho explained further as he pointed to the stage.
Where Ryoko was walking backstage.
"Come on, lets go." Sho started walking, Ryuu followed behind him.

"..." Haruyo was hesitant.
"It's like one of those moments when you're faced with a choice between knowing when you're gonna die or keeping it secret. Well this felt like that kind of choice."
Regardless, Haruyo followed his two friends.
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(I learned that even MORE drawings hadn't been scanned.
-__-
I wish I had a scanner so I can fix it myself.)

-----------
Once again, the trio had to prove they were friends of Ryoko to get backstage without passes, same way they got in without tickets, otherwise the big scary guard would tear them limb from limb. They learned that the two guards were twins.
But that's not important to the story.
The three of them had split up to cover more ground.
Haruyo saw a door marked, [Midnight Cross] in red and black lettering on a silver plak.
As Haruyo made to knock on the door, he froze while grasping the door knob when he heard Ryoko's voice;
"No, we can't do that here~" Despite the words, it wasn't like one of those pleading, more like a playful type. Haruyo had never heard Ryoko sound like a horny little school girl before.

He heard another voice, a man's voice;
"Alright, save it for after the concert. Do your best out there, Ryoko-chan."

"Oh geez, quit adding the 'chan' already, it doesn't suit a violent girl like me." Her tone was quiet and embarrassed now.

"But I really like that about you, you're not that violent at all."

"Oh you...I have to get back now." Sound of footsteps were coming towards the door.

Haruyo had been ease-dropping the whole time, so he looked for somewhere to hide. Behind him was a trash barrel...and so he dived straight into it. Coincidentally, he was able to fit perfectly.
'There are so many things wrong here.'
As the door opened, he saw Ryoko up close.
I always thought she looked good in that outfit, because I was the one that made it for her years ago. Glad to see she's still wearing it.

And now, a man came out of the room.
He looked around Ryoko's age, he was like everything Haruyo wasn't and partially wished to be.
He was tall, strong, good-looking, with eyes that were as deep as the sea, a great hairstyle, and he looked cool too.
(This writer is going to throw up.)
Pretty much everything Ryoko looked for in a guy. He also seemed like a reasonably nice guy, from what Haruyo heard earlier.

He grasped Ryoko's hand, "Hold on."

Ryoko looked back to him, "What's wrong? Is there something on my face?"

"Yep. Let me get it for you." He moved in and surprise kissed her, she didn't seem to mind.
He pulled away from her, but still remained close.

"Did you get it?" She asked softly.

"Yah." He let go and took a step back. "Go on, you're fans are calling you."

A moment of silence followed, before Ryoko finally said; "Alright...I'll see you later tonight." And with that, she ran off.

Haruyo had seen the whole thing.
While not making a sound, he slid as far down as he could inside the trash barrel. Burying his face in his knees.
He felt sick in his stomach, a kind of uncomfortable clenching he really wished would go away, it filled his body. He didn't want to move, he just wanted to stay in the empty trash barrel and mope around, while pretending nothing else existed.
Suddenly he felt something kick over the barrel.
He rolled out of the barrel like a rock down a hill, falling on his back he saw Sachita standing over him.

"Are you some kinda stalker?" He addressed Haruyo in a hostile tone.

Haruyo quickly waved his hands in front of his face, "N-N-No, I'm not a stalker! I'm a friend of Ryoko's, see!" He showed the picture they used to get by the guards.
"I just happened to be in here because...I like cramped places?" An obvious lie.

"...What a weird hobby, here lemme help you up." He held out his hand to help Haruyo back on his feet.

Haruyo just stared at the hand for a few moments.
'I guess, maybe this guy was right for Ryoko...he could do everything I couldn't...' With a sigh of defeat, Haruyo took hold of Sachita's hand.
'Or at least that's what I thought,' Sachita had gripped Haruyo's hand so hard he could've sworn he heard a cracking sound, the pain was intense for such a grip.
He pulled Haruyo up so violently he nearly dislocated Haruyo's shoulder. And than he just smiled, but in his eyes, Haruyo saw malice.
'until he had revealed the face within, he had been wearing a mask.'

"Please try not to do this again." He said with fake empathy in his voice. He was just like a snake...
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=The next night=

Back at Haruyo's house, he tried to forget about everything that happened last night, but he couldn't get what he saw out of his mind. It was like a sickness he couldn't get rid of and it only made him feel worse every time it replayed in his head.
Even his gaming skills were dulled by it, normally he was a pretty strong fighter in the RPG, Sci-Fi, game he'd been playing for a good 6 months.
He had formed a party with Ryuu and Sho, they were talking in real-time while doing quests to level up their characters.

"Hey Haruyo, about last night's concert, I think I saw something weird with Sachita-senpai in the bathroom." Ryuu started, "See, while I in one of the stalls, you know, writing "Ryuu was here" on the walls in permanent marker, I overheard Sachita-senpai calling someone, it sounded like a girl's voice. He was making plans with her later that night. But not only that, he called several other girls, setting up dates with them too."

"You might've just misunderstood the situation." Sho responded without delay.

And right after that, Ryuu shot back with; "But it's weird, so I followed him around all ninja-like, I saw him talk to some jackasses about something, they spoke in codes so the only thing I got out was; "Usual spot" and "New girl" they all seemed pretty goddamn excited about something too."

"I guess that's Sachita's true face." He said with disgust. "So tell me, did the name, Hanami Kanami, come up?" He asked urgently.

"Uh," He paused, "Actually yah it did, wait, isn't that one of the freshmen at our college, she was in the writer's club, the room down the hall from our 'Modern visual arts' club, wasn't she?"

"Yep." He confirmed Ryuu's question.
"I talked to her earlier today, I heard a rumor a couple months back that she went out with Sachita, but the rumors suddenly stopped. When I went to her to find out what kind of guy, Sachita was, the weirdest thing happened when I mentioned Sachita." Sho said as he coughed, probably something really weird happened.

"What happened?" Haruyo pressed the issue.

"Uh, how do I put this," He paused momentarily, "The moment I mentioned Sachita's name, she got really scared and went into a feedle position, she actually wet herself too, she kept mumbling; 'I'll be good' than she kinda forced herself on me."

There was a spitting sound over the line, from Ryuu. "You didn't, did you?!"

"How could I in that situation?" Despite Ryuu's raised voice, Sho spoke as calm and collected as he always did.
"I found a way to snap her out of it before she got to my pants' zipper...on another note, she wears blue and white striped underwear." Sho added the last part for no reason.

The sound of something heavy falling was heard over the line.
Ryuu suddenly shouted, "ARE YOU SURE YOU DIDN'T DO ANYTHING, WHAT KIND OF ASSHOLE TAKES ADVANTAGE OF A CUTE GIRL LIKE THAT?!"

"I know, that's why I didn't do it." He sighed, "It was hard to resist though." He added.

"Is she okay now?" Haruyo asked immediately afterwards.

"Yah, I took her home after that, she explained a few things to me. It seems that, Sachita, isn't what he seems. On the outside, he seems like most girl's dream guy, thing is he just wears an interchangeable mask, he's constantly changing himself to get girls. Normally, some guys might consider him a hero, until you hear this, he's got some sick, twisted fetishes just like we thought. Also, I'm gonna send you guys a link; That Hanami girl gave me a link to a website, I had to crack open a password."
A link was pasted and sent to Haruyo's inbox.
"It looks just like a legit porn site for people with 'special' tastes."

Haruyo didn't even have to click on any of the videos, he already knew what kind of website it was.
He closed out of the website. "Enough, I get it. Sachita is bad, but what can we do?"

"We can tell Ryoko, maybe she'll break up with him-" Ryuu had started until Sho interrupted.

"No good, without solid proof that it's Sachita's website she won't believe us."

"Than what if we get Hanami to-"

"She'll just think it's the rambling of an ex-girlfriend."

"...So...is there really nothing we can do?" Ryuu sounded hopeless. "Wait," He suddenly said, "We can confront Sachita ourselves, let him know what's gonna happen if he messes with Ryoko."

"Can't do that either." Sho sighed over the line. "One time while I was at the convenience store, I saw these guys trying to rob him for some money...it was like seeing a hurricane. He completely destroyed them."

"But what if-"

"No Ryuu, you and I are strong, this is true, but I don't think we could fight on his level, besides...this is Haruyo's problem."

"..." Haruyo had remained silent for some time.
"...Ryoko can...take care of herself. We won't get involved, we'd just be a burden."

"But, President-" Ryuu started.

Haruyo suddenly shouted out, "THEY'RE ONLY RUMORS RIGHT?! THERE'S NO SOLID EVIDENCE!!!" Haruyo was split between two paths.
He knew Sachita was bad news, but it was hopeless to fight against him.

"So sit back and do nothing, eh?" Ryuu said sarcastically, "That's the plan? That's bullshit!" He suddenly burst out. "Screw it, I'll handle this myself, you better thank me for this!"

"Wait, Ryuu don't do anything stupid, there's no proof of anything!" Sho's coolness vanished when one of his closest friends were about to do something headstrong.
"Haruyo, say something!"

"..." Haruyo didn't say anything.
'I really did want to say something. I really did. But, as words entered my head, my body wouldn't follow.'
He saw that Sho and Ryuu logged off.
"..." If they weren't around there was no point in playing. He didn't even feel like playing anymore...

The sound of bells resonated in the room.
The black cat paced around Haruyo's room.
"Why didn't you try to stop them?"

"What good would it have done?" He answered without delay.

"Are you afraid?"

"Of course I am." Haruyo turned off his console and leaned back in the chair.

"Of what?"

"Don't know? Ryoko...can take care of herself..." Haruyo repeated that phrase again.
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-The next day-

As Haruyo was once again going through the motions of drifting out of the professor's lecture there was a sudden interruption in class when a student Haruyo didn't recognize, burst into the class.
"Sorry, professor, I need to borrow Haruyo Miyamoto-san for a bit."

"But I'm in the middle of a lecture-"

"Headmaster's orders."

"Fine, go on, Miyamoto." He shooed Haruyo out.

"Ah, right." Haruyo responded as he picked up his stuff and followed the student outside.
"So, why am I needed?" He asked.

"You're friends with Sho, and Ryuu right?" He confirmed. "Rumor has it they attacked Sachita yesterday, they're in the nurse's office right now."
----------------------------------------

As Haruyo slid the door to the nurse's office, he saw that two of the beds were occupied. By of course, Ryuu and Sho.
They looked in a lot of pain.
"Broken bones, fractures, bruises, things of that nature. I wonder what they did to get them like this?" The nurse explained as she let the three of them have their time alone.
"What happened?" Haruyo asked.

"We found Sachita, asked him if the rumors were true...he laughed in our face and confirmed it." Sho explained.

"I got mad and hit him, but he hit us back." Ryuu continued. "Sorry, president...we got our asses kicked." He said through clenched teeth, the feeling of anger clear in his voice.

"But now we know, Sachita is bad." Sho concluded, his eyes falling on Haruyo. "So what are you gonna do? Chances are he'll do something bad to Ryoko."

Of course, Haruyo wanted to do something. More than anything he wanted to be a knight in shining armor.
But, based on what Sachita did to Ryuu and Sho, guys that were bigger and stronger than Haruyo. What possible chance would Haruyo have?
He'd be walking right into a slaughter.
"R-Ryoko...can take care of herself." He once again repeated that phrase.

"Quit saying that!" Ryuu reached over and grasped the collar of Haruyo's shirt.
"You can't just keep saying that! Regardless if she can or can't, you're her friend aren't you! You're in love with her aren't you?! What kind of man just stands by and lets that happen?! You know she's in danger, so stop being weak and do something!"

"What do you expect me to do?!" Haruyo shot back.
There was a moment of silence, before Haruyo continued, "I'm not...strong like you guys...Look at me! I'm small and weak, what can I do?!"

Sho sighed to himself, "...Hey, do you guys remember the final episode of Crescent Moon Soldier? Jun-chan said; "even if the battle is pointless, if there's the smallest chance of victory, I'll fight."' What was the point of this deviation?
"The same can be said here." He turned his attention to Haruyo.
"Even if there's only 1%, it's still a chance no matter how small."

Haruyo heard the sound of the bells again.
"Only you can decide now." Those words rang in his ears.
-----------------------------------
And now Haruyo was alone in his battle, well, not really alone.
That strange, talking cat that only Haruyo seemed to notice was still around, perched on his shoulder.
"So, what're you gonna do?" It asked.

"I really don't know." Haruyo responded.
He was feeling conflicted right now, he wanted things to go back to the way they were, or at least switch places with Sachita. He also wanted to tell Ryoko, and let her handle it, but than he was afraid that she'd hate him too.
"I'm afraid."

"The route of your fear, is because you've always been protected, mostly by that girl. You're also afraid that her relationship with that other guy will take her away from you, thus you're only weapon and shield will be gone. You'll literally, be on your own for the first time."

"I know that!" He responded without delay, his voice raised. "I...know..." He said slower. "But, what do I do?" He slid open the club-room door, and there he saw those two guys who put him in the hospital before.

"Hey, check it out, the midgets back." They had been throwing things around and 're-decorating' as if they owned the place.

Haruyo got really angry, but he just stood there and said;
"Wh-What are you doing?" He stuttered in fear.

"Since you graciously handed over this place, we thought we'd redecorate." The 1st asshole got out of the chair and paced around the table. "Yep, gonna be a great place."

"A couple things gotta go though." Said the 2nd asshole as he just tossed things around.

"..." Haruyo just remained silent, he wanted to fight them.
'If only I was stronger.' But he was just so weak. He couldn't fight them the first time, he'd never be able to win against them.
He opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out.

"What, got something to say?" Asshole 1 moved closer to Haruyo, getting in his face like the dickhead he was.
"Say it than, midget." He spat in Haruyo's face.

Haruyo really wanted to fight back...still nothing. His body just wasn't moving.

Asshole 1 pushed Haruyo back.
"Want to get sent back to the hospital, I haven't forgotten what you did before...maybe this time you'll go to a cemetery?" He laughed at Haruyo's weakness.

As Haruyo's anger levels had peaked, and he was about to fight again.
A black blur ran past Haruyo.
The asshole made a grunting sound along with a kind of cracking sound, maybe his ribs had been busted.
Than the black blur moved behind the asshole, grabbing the back of his head they slammed the back of his head on the table side.
Oh but it wasn't over yet, they quickly pulled him up and used the Iron Claw Head grip, they than slammed them into the wall on their right.
As they fell, they brought their knee on the back of their head, repeating the head slam into the wall.
"Tch, that it?" Ryoko kicked the body to check if it was still awake. "Already out, eh?" She turned her attention to asshole #2.

"You gonna run, or fight?" As he was deciding, Ryoko didn't give him a choice she just moved forward.
As she dodged a straight hook, she grasped his arm and threw him over his shoulder.
Not done yet, she put his arm in a Crucifix armbar, she didn't stop pulling until she heard a cracking sound.
Now she was done.
"I left one of your arms intact, take your buddy and get the hell out of here!"

The asshole got up, and ran off, dragging his friend with his other arm.

Ryoko brushed her hair out of her eyes. "That takes care of that."
She walked towards Haruyo, "See, I took care of them. Aren't you lucky to have a strong friend like me?" She laughed.

"...." Haruyo just remained silent, it was his first time talking to Ryoko in a couple days.

"What's wrong got a stomach ache?" She hadn't noticed what's been going on with Haruyo.

"No." He responded without delay and with little emotion. He just began cleaning up.

"Are you mad at me?" She asked.

"No." He responded once more.

"I see." She helped him clean up. "So, Sachita was telling me that he wanted to study abroad, so I was thinking of following him, what do you think?" Such joy in her voice.

That joy made Haruyo a bit angry.
"...You're leaving...?"

"It's not official, but I guess so." She sounded happy, her cheeks red with embarrassment. "I guess, I really love the guy."

"..." Haruyo just couldn't keep it in anymore. "Why are you telling me this?" There was clear anger in his voice.

She tilted her head off to one side, "I thought you'd like to know. Your invincible protector won't be around anymore." She added the last part as a joke, she even laughed about it.

"IT'S NOT FUNNY!" Haruyo had lost his voice control, he hadn't meant it to be that loud.
"To just put it as a joke, while someone I've known for more than half my life leaves me behind, what makes you think I'll be happy about that?! Why'd you have to come into my life!?" His emotions were just spilling out.
"Look at me! I'm so weak, I can't even defend myself without the help of others! It's irritating to me, to have to be protected all the time! Just go away! Don't come near me again!" After shouting, Haruyo panted for breathe.
He expected Ryoko to hit him, to shoot back with something that Ryoko would do.

Instead, all she did was just sit there, a sad and scared look on her face.
"I...I'm sorry, Haruyo..." She averted her eyes from Haruyo, "I guess, that's how you really feel." She stood up, her voice cracking, it sounded like she was about to cry.
"Than, this will be our final farewell, Haruyo." She wiped her face with her sleeve.
"Farewell, my old friend." She ran out of the room as soon as she finished speaking.

"..." The black cat stood by the door, looking towards Haruyo. "Why won't you go after her?"

"What good will it do? I'll just end up contradicting myself." He stood up as he took a seat.
His head falling onto the table.
"Still, I didn't expect to say all of that. But, I guess, I know what I have to do now...I don't want to run away, I should've told her about this a long time ago. For this one time, I want to be the one who protects her."

"Gonna fight a battle you can't win?"

"It's not completely hopeless, maybe a miracle will happen?"
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In the parking lot, Haruyo was waiting beside Sachita's motorcycle. "...." He remained silent as Sachita came into view, alone.
He made sure he could see him.
Haruyo kicked the bike over.
As Sachita came running, about to fight Haruyo, Haruyo merely said the following; "Not here...I've got something to say. The park 7 blocks away, 2 hours." Haruyo had lain down he gauntlet.

"Tch." Sachita picked up his motorcycle. "Your funeral." After that, he simply got on his motorcycle and rode away.

"...." Haruyo let out a sigh, "Yah..."
-----------------------------------------------------
-3 hours later-

For a full hour, Haruyo had been getting beaten senseless by Sachita. He was completely outmatched here, just as predicted.
He was on the ground, staring up at the raining sky.
Sachita came into view.

"That all you got?" He sighed, "Kinda feels like I'm beating up a little kid." He kicked Haruyo in the side with great strength.

Haruyo coughed from the impact, he literally found it hard to breathe, like the wind had gotten knocked out of him. He was really getting sick of that feeling.
He couldn't speak.

"What's wrong, can't speak?" He kicked Haruyo again. "You were all noble a couple hours ago, what were you thinking trying to call me out here." He started pacing around Haruyo, continually mocking his weakness.

Haruyo slowly got to his feet.
Every bone in his body was telling him to stay down. But his heart wasn't listening, he just got back on his feet.
"I won't...let you hurt Ryoko..." Haruyo stepped forward and threw a punch.

Sachita stepped around Haruyo's left, sticking his foot out and placing his hand on Haruyo's back as he tripped over his foot.
Sachita slammed Haruyo back onto the ground by pushing his back in a downward slope angle.
"Hurt her, what are you talking about? She 'loves' me, she's actually going to follow me abroad. Maybe you're the delusional one." He punched Haruyo in the back of the head.

"Only because she doesn't see the real you." Haruyo shot back, his breathing becoming heavy.
He could taste his own blood, his body was in so much pain. Yet he felt something that overwrote that.

Sachita knelt in front of Haruyo, lifting up his head by grabbing onto the top of his spiky-haired head.
"So what? She's mine now, and I suggest you stop before I get seri-"

Haruyo had suddenly head butted him, now there was a very hard ringing in his head.
Haruyo ignored it.
He got onto his knees and threw a right hook at Sachita.
The force of the punch caused Sachita to fall onto his back. Rather than hit him while he was down, Haruyo had a feeling the tables would just be turned again. Instead he got onto his feet and took steps back.
"I...won't...let you...do whatever you want..." Haruyo said in a defiant tone, but he just couldn't stand anymore. He fell onto one knee...

Sachita got sat back up, placing a hand over his face. He saw blood.
"My face...it's bleeding..." He sounded calm at first. "Why you've damaged my perfect face." Now it was replaced with blind insanity.
He reached into his back pocket, pulling out a switch blade. "I've never wanted to kill anyone before...but I'll make an exception for you." He made a mad dash towards Haruyo.

"...." Haruyo couldn't move an inch, avoidance of the stabbing would be 0%, this looked like the end.
'Hey, Ryoko...I was...a little cool, right? At least I was able to fight without you as a shield, maybe...I grew a little?'
As Haruyo had been thinking this, someone rushed in front of him. As if being a shield.

"Yagami, stop!" She used Sachita's first name as she shielded Haruyo.

"Get out of the way!" He just continued going, stabbing right through Ryoko's stomach.
All three of them stood there in shock.
Sachita's shock became angry, "Stupid bitch, that's why I said to move!" He slapped her with the back of his hand.

The knife dislodged from Ryoko's stomach as she fell onto the ground. She wasn't moving at all...

"Ryoko!" Haruyo limped by her side, falling right next to her. His eyes widened when he saw the blood gushing from her wound.

"And so this is how it ends." The sound of bells rung.

"No, this can't be happening! Why'd she come here?! Why didn't she just go away?" Tears fell like waterfalls, he just didn't understand why Ryoko was here.

"Fate is cruel. She had been returning from the corner store, when she overheard two girls talking about these guys fighting in the park. They matched your descriptions, so naturally she came running. She didn't think twice about jumping in between you two." The black cat walked towards Haruyo from the hills around the park.
"You could just call it bad luck."
When the black cat saw Haruyo wasn't responding, she simply offered him a choice, "Have you not wondered what I was? Why is it only you can see me?" When seeing Haruyo's interest, a light formed around the black cat. A little girl appeared in it's place, wearing a black cloak and carrying a scythe.
"I'm a shinigami."

"Are you gonna take Ryoko away?" Haruyo stepped in front of them, holding out his arms. Ignoring Sachita's insane laughter.

"...Originally I just happened to take an interest in you, because I saw your aching heart. But, now I'm gonna do my job." She raised her scythe, "You should step aside now."

"I won't!" Haruyo said in defiance, he was facing something even more dangerous than Sachita, and yet he was able to stand up to the shinigami girl.
"It was my weakness that led to this! If I had been honest with my feelings from the beginning, Ryoko wouldn't be in this state!"

"Someone was bound to die in the end. It's just bad luck." She was about to swing the scythe. "Move, there's nothing you can do."

"I don't care!" Haruyo saw the scythe being swung, he didn't flinch as the tip stopped just short of his forehead.

"Look at you, before you couldn't stand up to some of the worst humanity has to offer, and now you're standing up to a shinigami like me." She smiled as she pulled her scythe back. "I can't change the rules, with that wound you'll never get her to a hospital in time, and the more we speak the closer she is to crossing over...but...something you can do, is make a deal with a shinigami. I'll spare her life, even heal her, but you-"

"I don't care about the price, just do it!" Haruyo realized time was running out.
"Give me the power to save Ryoko!"

"...Fine...It's your own fault if you things don't turn out as you plan." She tapped his forehead with the scythe's tip.

Haruyo felt different.
He saw Sachita coming to stab him, but it was like he was moving in slow motion.
Haruyo ducked under the knife slash, he than delivered a strong gut punch to Sachita.
The force of which cracked Sachita's ribs and sent him flying 10 ft. back, something that Haruyo was incapable of doing.

Sachita sat up, staring as Haruyo slowly advanced. He felt fear, so he threw the knife at him.

The knife was lodged in Haruyo's shoulder, blood pouring out, yet Haruyo still moved. An evil smile on his face.

Sachita's face was now full of fear as Haruyo advanced, he started backing away. But he ran out of space, now cornered against the slide. He stared as Haruyo now stood in front of him.

"What's wrong, scared of me?" Haruyo mocked. "You should be...this is for all the evil you've caused." Haruyo's arm fell off, replaced with a dragon's head.
Sachita screamed as the dragon consumed him.

Haruyo stared at the fallen Sachita.
Haruyo didn't know why Sachita was screaming and passed out like that.
All Haruyo had done was walk towards him, hit him, keep walking, and than he passed out all of a sudden after having that fearful look on his face than wetting himself.
"What happened to him?" He asked the shinigami as she had knelt over Ryoko, a light coming from her palm of Ryoko's wound.

"He saw something that deserved to be feared. After this, he'll probably have amnesia or be sent to an insane asylum, not sure which one. Either way, he won't ever recover." She stood up once her job was done and walked towards Haruyo. "You as well, the life you wished for and the life you bargained for, they'll never be the same...I'll tell you know, the consequences of your actions..."
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-6 Days later-

"Within those 6 days, a lot of things happened, Ryuu and Sho were up and about as usual. Sho confessed to that drummer in Ryoko's band, I heard they're going out now.
Ryuu tried confessing to every girl he saw, got shot down, but the last one, ironically, Hanami Kanami-san agreed to go with him to the Annual Fireworks festival. No one really knows what happened to Sachita, some people say he got arrested for robbing a bank, abducted by aliens, kidnapped by a circus troupe, had amnesia and thought he was a ninja, lots of things. As for Ryoko...after that business with Sachita, she's been locked up in her room. Her parents and sister moved back in to keep her company.
She's locked her window and doesn't answer when I try to get into contact with her like we used to...so today...I've decided to do things face to face."

Haruyo knocked on Ryoko's door, "Ryoko, can I come in?" He quickly added.

"...." A moment of silence followed before Ryoko finally answered, "It's open."

"A-Alright," Haruyo opened the door and saw Ryoko doing exactly as he thought;
Sitting on her bed, wearing pajamas, and staring blankly at the ceiling. Her room had changed from the last time Haruyo had been in here, it looked like she had thrown almost everything out. Depression makes people do strange things.

She looked to Haruyo out of the corner of her eyes, "What do you want?" She asked in a harsh tone.

Haruyo supposed he kind of deserved it.
He did get into a fight with her ex-boyfriend, and yelled at her.
"I was just-"

"Don't bother, I already know." She looked directly into his eyes. "I'm pretty pathetic aren't I? I refused to see him for what he really was, and I got stabbed and passed out in the end." That's why she didn't question Haruyo's strength back than.
"Sorry."

Haruyo laughed nervously, "Don't worry, everything turned out alright, see. We're both still alive." Haruyo laughed again, there was an obvious hidden tone within his voice when he said that, remembering the conditions of saving Ryoko's life.

"Yah...I guess..." It was obvious she was still hurting over the whole incident. "I pretty much got dumped though."
She sighed to herself, "Figures the only guy who'd like a violent girl like me had to hide his true self like that." She fell back down, turning away from Haruyo, she buried her face in the pillow.
"I feel completely worthless."

"But, that's not true-"

"Than, why're you still here? Why else would you be here but to try and cheer me up, are you thinking I can't handle it on my own?" She added with anger in her voice.

"Why, well I-" Haruyo stopped to think about his answer.
'Is she...asking what I think she's asking...should I say it, is it right to say?'
Haruyo took a deep breathe, better now than never it seemed. "That's because, I...I love you! I've always loved you!"

"..." Ryoko remained silent, she sat up and turned towards Haruyo. "Haruyo..." She said his name softly, her eyes still held sadness in them, but she grasped Haruyo's cheeks.
"Haruyo..." She repeated.

"Ryoko?" Haruyo knew what was probably coming.

"...Hmph." She let go of Haruyo, and glared at him. "Haruyo, do you believe this is the flag moment?"

"Eh?" Ryoko had been using a gaming term.

"The love interest has just been dumped by her ex, and so the main character comes in and confesses, that follows the love ending...but...this isn't a dating sim, Haruyo. I dislike people who take chances like these to confess...After being dumped I don't want to hear someone's in love with me. What I want is to sulk, be angry, and break things." She scolded with harshness in her voice.

"...Sorry...That, wasn't my intention." Haruyo sounded sad.

She pat Haruyo's head, "I know. Still, I don't want to date anyone right now." She smiled in her usual Ryoko way.
"By the way, about the Annual Fireworks festival tomorrow, I'll probably see you and everyone else than."
-------------------------------------------------
-next day, Annual fireworks festival-

Haruyo and company were highly enjoying the festival, at the moment Sho was in front of one of the game booths.
He had a BB rifle aimed at cardboard cut outs of ducks on a miniature conveyor belt.
"...." Moments of tense silence and than he finally pulled the trigger. All shots hit the target.
"Those marksmen lessons are really paying off." He said as he chose his prize and handed it to the drummer girl. "Here you go, Shizuka."

Haruyo eventually lost interest in the conversation that followed.
He felt a tap on his shoulder. When he turned around, he didn't recognize her at first because of the yukata, but it was clearly Ryoko. Words could not describe the emotion he felt from seeing this, kind of like a mixture of joy and shock.
"...." He felt like this was one of those nosebleed moments. Which earned him a karate chop on the head!

"Stop with that look!" She looked away, it wasn't the first time she'd worn something like that. But there was probably something else she had to say.
"Thanks, Haruyo."

Haruyo didn't understand what he needed to be thanked for, "What do you mean?" He just stood there with a blank look on his face.

She closed her eyes, her cheeks growing red. "...Do I have to say it?"

"Uh..." Haruyo was still drawing a blank here.

She kneed him in the stomach, "I'm trying to say I accepted your feelings!" She pulled him by his shoulders and brought him into a kiss.
"There, after you confessed to me yesterday, I did a lot of thinking. When I thought about who had always been by my side, I thought of you. Than I started to feel happy."

Haruyo just stood there, still with that spaced out look on his face because of the kiss. "...Uhhhh..."

"I guess what I'm trying to say is," She held out her hand, "Will you stay with me?" She pleaded.

Haruyo felt his stomach tighten.
He felt pain in his heart, "...Y-yeah." He took her hand.

'Even if it's only for a short time, I want to stay like this for a little while...'

As Haruyo looked to Ryoko, he saw the shinigami girl standing behind her. And so Haruyo knew what was coming...

"I would've liked to spend more time with you."
--------------------------------------
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-As the festival was ending, hours later-

Ryoko had come back from getting cotton candy. However when she returned to her party of friends, she saw Haruyo wasn't there.
"Hm?" She looked around, but didn't find him. "Where'd he go?"
She turned to Ryuu, "Hey, where'd Haruyo go?" She asked with concern.

"Haruyo?" He raised one eyebrow, "Whose Haruyo?"

Ryoko thought it was just a bad joke, "Come on, you know, Haruyo, short guy, hardcore otaku, club president, best friend? Any of this ringing any bells?" The concern in her voice growing.

Ryuu looked to Sho for help. "Hey, Sho, I think Ryoko got hit in the head or something, you know anyone named Haruyo?"

Ryoko looked hopefully to Sho, who wouldn't joke at a time like this, the worry in Ryoko's eyes were clear.
But he simply said the very thing she feared: "Whose Haruyo?"
The cotton candy fell from her hands, as Ryoko ran away, ignoring her friends calling out to her.
The only thought that ran through her head was Haruyo.
She started seeing flashes of that night a week ago, that voice she heard Haruyo speaking to, something about a bargain. She thought it was just a dream but, she began to fear it may have been true.
She had also noticed, but chose not to acknowledge Haruyo's sad tone, and how he seemed so distant. Now that she thought about it, Haruyo's existence seemed to slowly quiet down over the course of the night.
"What did he say to me before I left?!" She had the faint feeling Haruyo had said something to her before she went to get the cotton candy. But it just kept vanishing from her mind.
She stopped in her tracks when she passed by a bench, where she saw Haruyo's small body, looking down at the ground.
She breathed a sigh of relief through her heavy panting, "Thank goodness I found you." She leaned in towards him.
"You disappeared so I thought you got beamed up by aliens or something?" She laughed.

"...." Haruyo didn't say, or move in the slightest.

She tilted her head to one side as she asked, "It was a joke right? You told Ryuu and Sho to play a joke on me, right?" She asked with concern in her voice.
She took a seat next to Haruyo.
Out of worry she asked, "Is something wrong, did I do something to upset you?" She frowned.
When still not getting an answer, she touched Haruyo's cheek.
"!!!" It was cold.
Her eyes widened in horror as she shook Haruyo violently, "Haruyo, say something! Haruyo!" No response.
"Hey, someone out there, help me out here!" As she shouted for help, no one seemed to notice anything.
She felt like crying now, her shoulders shook as she brought Haruyo into a hug.
"Haruyo! Haruyo!" She already knew...

"My screams went unheard.
My tears could not be seen.
I felt like I was falling back into darkness again."


And than, Haruyo touched Ryoko's hand.
"Don't cry...it doesn't suit you." Haruyo said with a smile, he seemed weak, as if he was just living on borrowed time.
By this time his body seemed almost see-through.
"Trust in me, Ryoko." Those would be Haruyo's last words as he suddenly vanished into little balls of lights, masked by the fireworks that went off.

Now Ryoko was sitting alone, staring blankly at what used to be in her arms.
"..." She remained silent as she turned her attention to the fireworks.

"Hey, Ryoko, what're you doing here?" Sho asked, both he, Ryuu, Hanami, and Shizuka had found her sitting alone.

"You just ran off, so we followed you." Shizuka explained thoroughly. "You were acting weird, are you okay?" She asked with concern.

"...." Ryoko remained silent for a few moments, turning to look at them she simply smiled.
"Never better." She had the faint feeling someone had been with her recently.
"Hey, was someone here when you guys came by?" Her memory was fuzzy.

"Nope, just you." Sho responded.

"I see." She stood up from the bench, wiping the dirt from her bottom. "Well than, the festivals not over yet. So lets go." With that said and done, she went on her way with her friends.
Yet, she couldn't get those words out of her head:
"Trust in me." She couldn't remember who said that...
------------------------------------------------------
-3 years later-

"Ryoko Masamune, 24 years old, a strange name for a strange girl.
I've recently obtained my own detective agency with some friends of mine.
Thing is, I seem to be lacking a name for it...oh well it'll come to me in time."


Ryoko surveyed her new building, ironically the one next to her house was completely empty. It had been like that for years apparently.

"The thing I'm here for is something else though.
Recently I've had weird dreams, seeing a guy I've never known in memories that seem similar to my own.
I wonder what it means? I feel like I should know them, but I don't?"


Ryoko opened the door on one of the higher floors of house, there she saw nothing but an empty room.
Except, for just one little stuffed doll in the very back of the room, with a note in hand.


"Also...a strange sentence comes into mind every time I see that boy from my dreams.
Weird emotions too...they kinda feel like what love should feel like? Yet I've never met this boy."


Ryoko kneeled by the doll, it looked familiar. Like that boy from her dreams?
"Coincidence?" She saw a note in it's hand, addressed to her.
"...Is this one of those supernatural dolls? I'm not gonna open it and find out I've been cursed right?" As she stared at the little doll, she sighed to herself. "Oh well." She took the note and opened it.
Inside the note was only 1 sentence, comprised of 3 words:

"Trust in me."
The name on the letter said: Haruyo Miyamoto.

Once reading these words, the strangest thing happened:
Ryoko started crying.
"Eh? Why...am I crying?" She tried wiping them away, but they just kept falling from her eyes. So she just let herself cry it all out as she held the doll in her arms.
She was completely alone in that house, so she could cry as loud, and as much as she wanted.

"Those words...Trust in me...what did they mean?
Though I had never had a boyfriend since my college days, I never felt alone.
I felt like, I had a little guardian watching out for me..."





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-10 years prior, location:
Addormentato Nuvola (Sleeping Cloud) Orphanage,
AKA. Child Hitman Training Camp
-

Blood stains everywhere from the floors to the walls, the noxious smell of gunpowder and the still burning flames of a recent bombardment filled their nostrils. The only survivors were two children wearing Urban-Camo Jump suits;
one boy in the back armed with a recently fired M24 Sniper Rifle. The bullet most likely lodged in between the eyes of one of the dead men against the walls. He just sat against the wall, a blank look in his eyes, nothing but emptiness.
The little girl was standing over a body whose legs and arms had been shot, but he still lived. In her hand she held an AK-107 Assault Rifle, the gun pointed directly at the half-dead enemy in dark gray wearing a black Kevlar-vest and face mask.
"On that day, I wanted to believe the sky was crying for me and him. I did whatever I had to in order to survive, the hand I was dealt when I was born was a crappy one." The rain fell heavily on the little girl's shoulders, her breathing erratic as the bandage over her left eye bled profusely. It was the first time she ever took a life, she wanted to believe that her reason was for a good cause.
But the job wasn't over yet, her enemy still breathed, and if he could breathe he could still kill you.
"I've lost so many things, friends, family, my eye, my home, my past..." She loaded the cartridge on her AK-107, taking aim at the enemy in front of her.
"And my future." She realized she wasn't only pulling the trigger to kill an enemy, but her future as well. Any hopes and dreams she had prior, didn't matter at all anymore. As she screamed she finally pulled the trigger, she didn't let go even after the gun clicked empty.
Seeing the dead enemy in front of her, it made her feel sick to her stomach, she placed her hand over her mouth as she puked up what she ate today. Leaning over to her left side, she stared at herself in a puddle of water:
Her hair was a mess, there was dirt on her face, she'd lost so much blood from her eye, and there was also the blood of her enemies on her body.
She looked towards her friend, "Shiro!" She called out to him with worry in her voice, but got no reaction from him. She crawled over to him, not having the energy to walk anymore. She sat next to him and rest her head on her shoulder, taking his shaking hands in her own small little hands. "Shiro...remember...you have to keep your gun aimed forward..." She knew it wasn't over yet. She locked arms with Shiro and lifted him up with her, "Come on, Shiro, get a hold of yourself." She said calmly as she threw Shiro's arm over her shoulder. "We're leaving here...together...just you and me." She aimed her AK-107 forward as she helped Shiro move. "Together...you and me..." She repeated.
-------------------------------------------------------------
-present day-

"I never want to kill anyone. I want to live a life where I don't have to pull the trigger ever again."

He slowly started to awaken, getting to his feet he shook his head, taking in his surroundings slowly. The first thing he saw, even before the steel walls were the fact that he was completely locked inside. His breathing erratic, moving around the confined four walls he desperately tried in vain to get out. "Hey, where am I?! Let me out of here!" He shouted but no answer came. He tried pounding on the steel-plated wall, but his hands hurt after a while. His knuckles slid down the steel wall. "Anyone...out there?" He fell onto his knees, the feeling of helplessness taking over his body.
"Where...am I?" He said silently to himself.

"Are you done?" A robotic voice called from above. "Number 4, Shiro Kusanagi, Addormentato Nuvola hitman, Rising Tiger."

Shiro looked up to the ceiling as his name was called, also his secret name that only he knew. But what was that part about being a hitman and that...whatever the hell it was called, family?
He quickly got to his feet, "Hey, you, what's going on here? Where the hell am I?" He demanded to know, but the only response he got back was:

"Let me explain, you along with one other, are going to play a little hunting game funded by various crime organizations. The loser is decided by who dies first."

"Game?" Shiro paced around the room. "Like hell I'll do that!" He kicked the steel wall. "Just let me out of here, I've got exams coming up!"
A machine gun came out of a hole on the ceiling, it aimed and fired at Shiro.
Shiro stepped back as the bullets harmlessly hit the ground.

"Sorry, but that wasn't a request. You're already here, you were born and trained for this exact purpose. This should be just another job for a hitman-"

"But I'm not a hitman!" Shiro exclaimed, his back against the wall Shiro explained, "I've never killed anyone!" Shiro was lying, he knew it but he didn't want to admit it.

"Isn't that a lie? You killed your first person about 10 years ago when you were 8-years old."

Shiro frozen in place, his eyes widening in realization. Sweat beading down from his head as memories from that day started creeping up on him. He shook his head, "No...I never...killed anyone..." He mumbled quietly to himself.

"Well...it's not like whether you killed anyone lately or not matters anyways, this game is something you'll play. The enemy you'll be facing is one called: Savage Dragon, as well as a couple others. Good luck, Rising Tiger." The robotic voice clicked off, a cloud of white smoke was filling the room.

Shiro covered his mouth, unable to help inhaling the gas. "Noxious...gas..." His voice trailed off. With a loud thud he fell flat on the cold, hard ground. The room was spinning, becoming blurry and distorted, his vision fading fast.
-----------------------------------------------------

"Hey, Kusanagi, Kusanagi...Shiro!" A male's voice rang in Shiro's ears.

"Huh?" Shiro was awoken by the voice. The only thing he could see was the cloudy filled blue sky of the morning day. He sat up, taking in his surroundings slowly: "Where...am I?" He said to himself, rubbing the back of his head feeling a throbbing pain there. He was on the roof of his high school, with two others, his friends probably.

"You okay?" The one on his left asked. "I was saying how the director of Silver Maid Apron was also a manga-ka before he became a director. Than you passed out."

The one on the right nodded, "You've been acting weird all morning, maybe you should head to the nurse or something?" It was a good suggestion.

"Since this morning?" Shiro really considered going to the nurse, since this morning was a complete blur to him. "Maybe I should head home early?"

"Well, lunch is almost over, so lets head back to class." The two of them got to their feet quickly, after packing up their things. “Cya around, Shiro.” They left the roof through the door leading inside.

Shiro waved once as they left. When the door closed, Shiro started packing his things. “Could it have been a dream?” He said to himself, inside he hoped that really WAS a dream. Maybe than, he could continue living as he had. Something within his school bag caught his eye, a black slip of paper.
“Is that mine?” He said to himself, pulling the folded, black slip of paper out of his bag. As he unfolded it, and read the messy white inked lettering that spelled out:
“It’s not a dream” his fears had been confirmed, it wasn’t a dream. It was all real.
A scared and shocked look on his face, his hands lost their grip on the slip of paper, the wind took it on it’s way. Shiro just sat their, staring blankly at nothing. "It’s…real…" He came to that painful conclusion.
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-----------------------------------------------------------------------
-Later that same day-

The day was nearly over, so Shiro chilled in his usual spot.
There was a hill along the river side, it was a good spot to watch the sun setting. He'd often waste his time here, not like there was anything waiting for him at home.
"Why'd this have to happen?" He raised his hand to the sky, staring through the space between his fingers. "Just what the hell am I? Some kind of expendable toy?" He became angry.
He heard the sound of a bike stop nearby, he slowly turned his head to the source of the noise. There he saw a girl around the same age, blankly staring at him.



They locked eyes, Shiro could already see one of her eyes were an unnatural color, probably an implant of some kind?
‘Those eyes, why do I feel like they see right through me?’
There was a long pause between the two, neither moving nor saying anything, just staring into each other’s eyes.
-----------

The two strangers ended up sitting side by side, watching the sun set.
Shiro asked first, "Do you like this spot too?"

At first no sound came out of her mouth,
"...Kuro loves this view..." She said in such a quiet tone, even a rabbit couldn't hear her. It was even more peculiar that she spoke about herself in a third person perspective.

"Huh?" Shiro asked once more.

"This one, loves this view." She said in a louder, yet still quiet and apathetic tone of voice. She stared intently into the setting sun.

'What's running through her mind?'
Shiro thought to himself, he noticed her uniform was from another school across town. A very far away place from this spot, about an hour at most to get here by train, he wondered if she came here everyday just to watch the sunset?
Shiro sat up, "Well, uh nice meeting you." It was an awkward meeting, neither of them really said anything.
Before Shiro could take his leave, the girl said something,

"They'll be coming after you now. You better be prepared."

Those words alone, caused Shiro's entire body to freeze up. Rather than confirm anything, he decided to play dumb,
"What are you talking about?"

"...You're probably wondering, 'why me'?" She looked to him out of the corner of her eyes, such sad and lonely sapphire-blue eyes she had. "That's just the way it is."
-----------------------------------------------------------------
As Shiro lay upon his bed, staring up at the same old ceiling the girl from earlier's words rang in his ears:

[ "That's just the way it is." ]

'It's just not fair.' Shiro rolled off his bed onto the cold, hard ground. He slammed his fist into a loose floorboard. The floorboard was flipped aside to reveal a hole in the ground, where various weapons, explosives, ammo, and other things were scattered in a pile.
Shiro sighed to himself, "I never thought I'd have to use any of these."
-----------------------------------------------------------------

-Next morning-

'No way.' Shiro couldn't believe the sight before him.

The headmaster of the school was standing in front of Shiro, by his side was the girl from yesterday...wearing the school uniform to Shiro's school.
"Anyways...Kusanagi-san, please show Kuro-chan around. I'll leave you two alone." After that, the old fart known as the headmaster went on his way mumbling something about attending to his muffins.

"....." For over 30 seconds Shiro and the girl, Kuro just stared at each other. It was Shiro who broke the silence like yesterday, "So...you're a new student here? That's gre-"

"Rising Tiger." She interrupted, placing her palm against Shiro's chest, "Rising Tiger." She said softly.

"...." Shiro felt a chill run up his spine.
'So...she is one of them...Does that mean, she's going to fight me?'

"Savage Dragon." She placed her other hand against her chest, referring to herself. "Savage Dragon."
She than lowered her hands and started listing off names; "Bloody Cerberus, One-Eyed Mole, Caged Snake, Tempting Seahorse, Lawful Bull, Watching Owl..."

'Is she listing off code names? Why?' Weren't they enemies as well, actually it was amazing she hadn't slit his throat or shot him yet.

As if knowing what he was thinking she pouted, and in a low voice said, "You're the one I saw first."

-----
Meanwhile, just around the corner trouble was lurking. The walls have ears as they say.
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-4th Period Class-

As always, this class was the most boring. The teacher just stood at the bored, endlessly copying down notes from the text book in hand...
Obviously, this teacher had no skills in teaching, never going beyond the manual. No wonder Shiro was struggling in this class.
'A guy could fall asleep here and no one would notice.' Shiro had done so for the past couple days.
As he placed his head down on the desk, not even bothering to hide it like some people, he suddenly felt a killing instinct. Someone whose grown so attune to death, much like an assassin, might have it, kind of like a 6th sense to life-threatening danger.
'They wouldn't shoot in such a crowded area, would they?' It was an illogical and stupid thing to do, but no matter how many times Shiro thought to himself; 'There was no way they would.' He realized that the longer he stayed there, the more danger he was in. Shiro realized he had to get out of the room, fast.
Taking one look at the board to make sure the teacher's back was turned, he quickly slid off the left side of his chair.
Luckily he was in the back of the room, so the only thing he had to do was quietly sneak along the wall before the teacher realized Shiro was gone.
When he got to the door, he slowly slid it open, careful not to make a single sound.

"What are you doing?!" At first Shiro thought he'd be caught, but when he turned around to see where the voice came from. It turned out to belong to Kina Kagehaze. A girl who transferred in about a month ago, but was already a rather well-liked person, both by faculty and students. Various rumors floated around about this small, dark-haired beauty.
Shiro breathed a silent breathe of relief, nobody other than her had seen him. "This is boring, so I'm leaving." There's no Shiro would tell her that he may or may not have been in danger so he was skipping out for now. "Bye." With that last word, Shiro exited the classroom.
He saw her reach out to him as he slid the door quietly back in place, as if it was never opened.

Now, taking a much needed sigh of relief, Shiro couldn't feel that killing instinct. He felt a little victorious instead, 'Guess I lost their sight.' He said quietly to himself.
And now there was the problem as to what to do now?
'I guess I'll skip and head home early.' Now the hard part was avoiding school faculty while exiting the building.
Slowly and cautiously walked in the deserted hallways, Shiro still had the cautious mind-set. But than his nerves suddenly started going crazy when he reached the staircase. He took a quick moment to listen;
Tap-tap-tap. Another pair of footsteps other than his own, it stopped after those 3 steps.
'Someone's following me.' There was no doubt about that. 'Could it be another one? It might also be someone on school staff, either way staying here won't do me any good.' With that thought in mind, Shiro slowly started descending the staircase. He heard the footsteps stop at the top flight, probably waiting for Shiro to get down a couple more levels. At least Shiro could hear their footsteps, no matter how quiet they tried to be.
'Judging from the weight of the footsteps and the time it takes for each step, their tall and heavy. Close combat against them might be difficult, if I run they might give chase. If they follow me off-school grounds, their an assassin. I'm gonna have to catch them off-guard once I get outside.'
Before Shiro stepped into the first floor hallways, he checked to make sure the coast was clear before moving on. He had only walked past one classroom when he felt a hand pull at his sleeve and pull him inside a room. He saw the door close in front of him.
Thinking fast, the first thing he did was get out of the person's grip, slapping their hand off his sleeve and turning to face them. Ready to fight, and about to throw a punch instead he saw Kuro standing there. That same spacey look on her face.
"....." A moment of silence between them.

This time, however, Kuro broke the silence, she raised her pointing fingers with her closed fist and raised them up to the sides of her head. "Shiro, shiro, jumpy like a little rabbit." She made a joke, but didn't laugh, and her smile seemed so tired.

"Uh, Kuro," He dropped the honorific, and used her first name. He figured she wouldn't care because she was doing the same thing. "What are you-"

"Shiro needs to be quiet now." She took him by the arms and pulled him into the open storage closet. She shut the door quietly. And placed her hand over Shiro's mouth, but kept his nose un-covered, otherwise Shiro would suffocate.

Shiro wanted to ask a couple questions, such as; 'What was she doing in an empty room, was she the one following him, and how'd she know he would come this way?'
Before Shiro could even try to ask those questions, the door slid open. At first Shiro thought it might be school staff, looking for students trying to ditch class.
Instead, it turned out to be a rather heavy-muscled senior Shiro recognized as, "Goza Hatake."
"Was he the one following me?" That was probably the most likely solution here. He looked to Kuro, wondering what she was planning?
At that moment, another person entered the classroom.
"You lost him?" Shiro recognized that voice as Kina Kazehana! "Some Bull you are."
"No way, she's involved in this too?!" It just seemed so likely that Shiro couldn't believe it. Also the change in personality. His shock levels were just building, he wanted to get away right now, two enemies were right in front of him now, he began to think;
'If I run out as fast as I can, maybe I can outrun them and-'

"Shiro, calm." Kuro pulled Shiro closer, almost suffocating him with her chest.

"....." Shiro was completely quiet after that. He was completely unable to focus on anything other than how close their bodies were.
'She's warm.' Technically, it was his first experience being this close to a girl.

"Seahorse." Goza, referred to Kazehana as her codename as he checked around the room, he had passed by the storage locker Shiro and Kuro were currently hiding in but probably missed them. "Sorry, I'm certain he came in here but...maybe he jumped out the window?"
He looked out of the open window, being only 5 ft. off the ground. "See, look, the windows open, we could chase after him-"

"Bloody Cerberus is on the roof with a sniper rifle." Kina interrupted. "That monster, there's no way Shiro'd be able to escape his sights. I guess until we confirm his death, that's just one less for us." She stretched her arms behind her back, purposely showing her dynamite figure.
"So, since we're alone here-"

"No way. I can't, my code of ethics won't allow it." He said firmly, looking away from Kina's suggestive pose. "Until I get out of this place, than we can start going out, alright? That's what we agreed on." Apparently, he held strong beliefs in his code of ethics.
He turned his back to Kina, checking the room over once more, again he passed by the storage locker but this time he tried to peer into the slits. At his angle, it was only a matter of time before the two of them were found.

"What a shame...that code of ethics of yours is quite an annoyance, Goza." She started walking slowly towards Goza from behind. "It's not something an assassin should have."

"Hey you know as well as I do that-" Goza stopped talking, he made a grunting sound. As if something had just been stabbed into his back, Shiro could see his pained face.
"...Ki...na...?" As if he couldn't believe it, "Why?" He towered over Kina, even with a knife in his back he still looked overwhelmingly powerful. "I thought you and I...were..." He fell on his knees, supporting himself by using Kina's shoulders as leverage. "Why?"

"...What do you mean 'why'? This is a game between assassins, it's your own fault for trusting someone." Two knives falling out of her sleeves and into her hands she continually stabbed Goza's torso.
"And even now, you don't lift a finger to try and stop me...what a pathetic man." She pushed him off to the side as she circled around his constantly bleeding body. "You held on to your beliefs even as you died."
She sighed to herself, "Now where to stash the body?" She tried to open the storage locker, which caused Shiro's heart to skip a beat.
Luckily it was locked. "Shame...guess I have to drag this guy's body somewhere."

Shiro heard a dragging sound, and the door sliding open, and than being slid closed again.

"Wait for the storm to pass, Shiro." Kuro whispered gently into Shiro's ears. Afterwards, Kuro slowly opened the storage locker door.

And the first thing Shiro saw was the trail of blood leading outside the room. "Goza...was killed...?" Shiro said as if he couldn't believe it. He felt like throwing up, after seeing the scene play again in his head.

Kuro didn't even flinch, "She probably won't drag the body far, Shiro, lets split up and meet at the lockers."

Shiro couldn't believe Kuro didn't even flinch, someone just died in front of them, why didn't Kuro seem to feel anything? Even Shiro felt remorse, pity, shock, and confusion.
"Don't you...feel anything?" Shiro asked.

"What are you talking about? Lawful Bull's assassin record states he didn't take on any assassinations that he didn't agree with. If they felt morally wrong he wouldn't take it. Real name, Ga-Roh Jing, he was taken in by the 'Falling Fist' Triad of Hong Kong. Known to be overly trustful, and his code of ethics often got in the way of seemingly easy jobs. In the end it was his code of ethics which lead to his death" She explained it in such a monotone and apathetic voice it felt like she was reading from a script, all with that tired look on her face that showed no sorrow.
She turned her dark eyes to Shiro, "Is Shiro wondering if there was something he could've done? The answer is, nothing." She tilted her head off to one side, "In the end he was meant to die. That's just the way this game is played."
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By the time Shiro reached the shoe lockers at the front of the school he had only one thought in mind; 'I have to get home.' He believed he'd be safest at home, where he had all his weapons and stuff, than he'd wait for this to go away.
When reaching for the dial-lock, he found something missing. "...." He looked down, seeing a piece of lead from a mechanical pencil on the ground.
'Has someone been in my locker? In case someone tried to break into it, I stuck a piece of lead in the lock, so when it opened the lead would break and fall to the ground.' When opening his locker, he found only his shoes in there.
He felt a clenching in his gut, it felt like fear. 'I stashed a combat knife in there this morning, just in case he needed to use it. Which apparently he did. "So...whose been-"

"Hey, Kusanagi-kun." Shiro's surname was used by a voice he absolutely did not want to encounter.
Kina stood at the entrance, twirling Shiro's knife between her fingers. "Don't you know it's against school rules to bring weapons to school?" Though her words seemed scolding, she actually couldn't sound any happier. The hint of malice obvious in her voice.

"....." Shiro remained silence, what could he say? He already knew that she was an assassin; he also knew that she knew Shiro was an assassin as well. So instead, his mind was more focused on trying to find a way to escape, or fight back.

"Oh, Kusanagi-kun, what could you be thinking, looking around like that?" She asked playfully, touching the knife's tip as she closed in. "Are you scared, Kusanagi-kun?" She stood in front of him, with her hand on his chest and pushing him gently against the shoe lockers. "Shiro...?" She leaned in towards him. "I've liked you for a long time."

He could feel her breathe against her lips. Though he knew this was obviously a trap, his male side wanted to believe she actually liked him.
"R-Really?" Shiro was shaking in fear. His voice cracking and shaky. His cheeks a rosy crimson...

"Yes, really. I really, really like you...Shiro..." Her venomous words, were so tempting to any man. She pressed her chest against Shiro as she leaned in even closer, it wouldn't be long before the kiss.

"W-WAIT A MINUTE!" Shiro finally acted, he placed his hands on her shoulders and moved her away. He breathed heavily, due to the surprise of it all. "Look, I'm happy that you like me and all. But...I...like someone else?" Shiro was obviously lying, but he wanted to get out of there as fast as he could.
"I almost lost it there, good thing I remembered what she did to Goza. She'll probably do the same to me if I let my guard down." Shiro saw she wasn't moving at all. "...Okay...so...I'm, just gonna go now." Shiro moved around to the side, attempting to go.
Instead, the knife blocked his path; stabbed through the locker.
"Oh crap." Shiro said aloud.

"Oh crap indeed." She repeated, the nice voice she had been using completely gone. She pulled out the knife and pointed the tip at Shiro. "That's no good to hear, oh well. One less assassin to deal with."

Shiro started backing away, his eyes on the knife. "So you were in on the whole assassin thing all this time?" Shiro needed to buy some time to think of a plan or something.

"Yep. But I didn't realize how many assassins were in this school until recently...but you know what." She juggled the knife in the air, now there were three knives. "If I had done a little digging, I'd have realized...this school was funded by crime families such as mine, yours, and a bunch of others. This games probably been planned for a good 30 years since the school was built." She caught one of the knifes with her left hand and tossed it at Shiro.

Shiro moved his foot back as the knife stuck into the ground. "So, we were just playing pieces to them? Right?" Shiro's sight kept shifting between Kina and the knife in the ground.

"That's probably right," Her gaze suddenly turned from cocky to piercing anger, "All the things I've went through, and everything I've done, saying I was the strongest...I was just a playing piece. Heh...fucking assholes."

"!" Shiro took this opportunity, he saw Kina's focus was blinded, he dived past the knife. Landing on his knee in a kneeling stance he grabbed the knife behind him.
Before Kina was able to react, he dashed towards her.
A quick knife thrust would end it quickly.

Just a little more, and it would've worked, just a bit deeper and Kina wouldn't be standing right now.
The knife thrust had been parried.
At the last moment, Kina had flipped the knife to a backhanded stance, the knife's edge slide along the blade and cutting into her wrist. If Shiro could move the knife, he'd have continued pushing the knife into Kina's wrist.
However, Kina's free hand was on Shiro's arm, keeping it from moving any further.

"I gotta give you credit, you didn't hesitate even though I was a girl." She smiled at Shiro. "Are you sure you don't want to join forces?"

Shiro wasn't going to fall for it. So just like he said before, "No way, you'll just kill me at the end of it." He said in a defiant tone.
"I don't want to kill you, so, why don't we just forget about this?"

She raised one eye brow in disbelief, "It's unlikely for an assassin to say something so-"

"I'm not an assassin!" Shiro exclaimed, "I don't give a damn what those assholes say, I don't want to kill anyone!"

Kina felt like bursting out laughing, "Stupid Shiro...you say one thing and do another." She stuck her tongue out at him and made a mocking face, "What are you, some kind of hypocrite?" There was a needle between her teeth.
She spat out the needle at Shiro.

The needle hit Shiro in his neck.
"Ah!" Shiro pushed Kina to the lockers as Shiro stumbled and fell onto his hands and knees. "Ouch, what the hell's in that needle?" He felt all his strength sapping away slowly, everything becoming fuzzy.

Kina brushed herself off as she stepped towards Shiro.
"You hesitated. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're a delinquent who gets into many street fights, you've beaten some guys half to death, guys who were twice your size and strength. I wonder what stopped you?" She tilted her head to one side, placing her finger on her chin. "Could it have been that you didn't want to fight me because I'm a girl, or because you didn't want to kill me? Too bad...if you didn't have that weakness, you'd be the one alive right now."
She kneeled next to him, a smile on her face that betrayed her inner feelings. She held the knife above his head, she had Shiro completely at her mercy.
"That poison I dipped the needle into isn't deadly, but it will render your movements stunned for a couple minutes. And that's all the time I need." She sported an uncharacteristic smirk, it didn't exactly fit with the character she had created for herself, but that was just a mask.

"That's the face hidden under the mask isn't it, seahorse?" Kuro said in a hushed voice, her eyes locked on Kina.
She was wearing a green coat, a black and red striped scarf around her neck, and held a long object in her right hand covered in a purple cloth.
She took 3 steps towards them when-

"Stop!" Kina held the knife closer to Shiro's face. Still with that confident smirk, she looked to Kuro. "If you come any closer, I'll make him suffer worse." She had taken Shiro as a hostage now.

'But you're gonna kill me anyways.' Shiro already knew that much. 'If I killed her I wouldn't be in this situation.'

She made no signs of stopping at all, "I'll have all the time I need to devourer you." Meaning, she didn't care if Shiro was killed because than there's nothing stopping her from killing Kina.

The smirk faded from Kina's face, replaced now with anger and fear. As a desperate attack she tossed the knife at Kuro.
Who simply ducked under it and rushed Kina, seeing as how there was nothing in her way.

Shiro saw her tackle Kina, moments later he heard a couple silenced gunshots.
As the feeling in his limbs came back, he started to sit up. It may have been better if he stayed on the ground though.
Kuro was kneeling over Kina's body, the mysterious object in purple cloth tossed aside. Her left hand was bleeding because it had been cut by Kina's knife, the knife's blade still in Kuro's hand. Her other hand had a smoking Silenced 9mm handgun, it had obviously fired a bullet into Kina's skull, the gun still being pointed at Kina's forehead.
The deceiving girl moved no longer.

Kuro locked eyes with the shocked Shiro.
"...This is the assassin's life..."
She placed her hand over her implant-eye, "Sacrifices are inevitable. Kuro's eye was a price that was paid, this one replaced it. Now Kuro sees things that others can not."
She stood up from Kina body, taking steps towards Shiro she held out her hand to him, "There was nothing Shiro could've done."
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