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I couldn't help but mutter, "Just what have I got myself into...?" I was walking through a scene right out of a horror movie, complete with its checklist of spooky stuff. Tombstones, dead trees and a liberal smattering of seemingly pointless skull decorations. And that was just the left! To the right, a sheer cliff and a jagged end overlooking a sea of what I hoped wasn't freaking blood! And down the path, far in the distance, was a school that looked more like a haunted mansion rather than a place of learning! "Shoulda just freakin' said screw it and went back home. I'd rather drop out than go there. Feel like I'll just go missing or something if I stick around this pla—"
I looked back just in time for a blonde to run me down on a bike.
When I came to, I found my bangs to have grown enough to cover my face. "Ugh..." I nursed a fresh lump on my head, complaining, "The hell..." I found that the blonde obstruction was actually a girl, and not my own hair. Wasn't expecting to see another blonde around. I mean, it could be worse, even if I would prefer to be the one on top... "You, uhh... you okay?" My words seemed to get her to stir, as she sat up, squishing me under her all the more. Hers was a look of dawning comprehension, and mine was just a little more than inquisitive. Sure, there was more to her than a pretty face and golden hair, but whatever it was, I wasn't seeing any of it.
"H-huh? Uhh... yeah. Umm..." My fellow blonde's face colored a bit as she got up and off of me. "Sorry... I didn't mean to hit you like tha— Ahh! You're bleeding!"
I followed her eyes, and found them on a fresh scraped knee. "Ahh, I hadn't even noticed. Well, it ain't that ba—" My voice flattened. "What are you doing?" This time it was my turn to blush, as she was licking my knee. Weird as it was, it was also goddamned adorable.
"I'b wicking yow wowd cwean!" Talking with her tongue hanging out is just a cheap shot. "Ahh! Yow bweeding mow!"
As she went in for a lick of my nose, I forcefully shoved her off of me. "Will you stop that?" My ears were tipped in red, as she was more than a little too close. Taking a deep breath to steady my nerves, I asked, "You have anything I could plug my nose with?"
"Ahh." She instantly was a flurry of motion as she rummaged in her school bag. While she was busy, I got up and off of her, surprised when she offered some tissues not long after. "S-sorry. I just," she licked her lips, "I just couldn't help myself. You taste so good..."
Okay, so she's some kinda freak. Well, whatever gets you there, I guess. At least she's distracted me enough to make the graveyard less creepy. "Name's Kirisame Marisa. You?" Cute enough to make that statement less creepy, too.
"Ahh. Flandre Scarlet, but you can just call me Flan if you like. It's, umm... Western order."
I rose an amused brow, asking, "Well, I wouldn't take ya for the pudding type, but if ya say so."
With a pout, she said, "Don't tease me... I may not look like it, but I'm—" In the distance the belltower of the haunted school began to go off. "Ahh! We're gonna be late! Umm... if you like, I could... give you a ride...?"
Shrugging, I answered, "Well, sure. Just don't kill anyone on the way and we're good." The way she blushed made me grin in equal parts to how embarrassed she seemed. She's just so fun to tease, adorable pout be damned.
Hopping back on her bike, she patted the back, but I quickly saw an issue in the plan. "Hey, uhh... Flan? Think that bike's not gonna be getting us anywhere."
"Huh?" I pointed to the now hanging chain, and she let out a sigh. "We're gonna be late on the first day..." Tears began to well up in her eyes.
"Hey, hey. Cut the waterworks, Flan. I got this." That said, I quickly realigned the chain, though was more than a little clumsy at it. "There, good as new! Learned how to do stuff like that watching an old buddy of mine." My work done, I climbed on the back of the bike, quickly regretting it, as I was forced to hold on for dear life. How she didn't kill me when she hit me at this sorta speed was beyond me, but hey, not dead. I was, however, screaming like a little girl the whole way.
By the time we made it, I was just about ready to make out with the ground I was so happy to be off the bike turned deathtrap. "Come on, we're gonna be late!" When she was done setting her bike in a rack as empty as this place seemed deserted, she tugged me along inside, near-on dislocating my shoulder in the process. Gonna feel that in the morning; girl's got some strength in those noodles... Still, it wasn't much of a run to class. Thankfully it seemed that we shared first period, as she dragged me the whole way to her classroom. And not a moment too soon, as the second bell rung when we opened the door.
All eyes on us, I called, "Safe!" The snickers I expected were replaced by stares of awe. Before I could even start feeling embarassed, I realized with a sigh that the eyes were all on my new stupid strong buddy, who was completely oblivious to the admiration.
A woman with ruby red hair gave me a grin, though, and said, "Guess you are, huh? Go on, then, you two. Find a seat." We went ahead and did that while she was busy smirking us up as if she had an odd idea about why we were late.
Or, at least, Flan took a seat. Never exactly let go of me, so I ended up uncomfortably far forward, even if I was comfortably seated next to her. Sure, I didn't have to squint, but I'm not what I'd call some sort of book worm or the like who paid attention and vied for the Teacher's praise. Still, Flan sending a weak smile my way was like a salve for my wounded delinquent pride. Cute girl, that one.
With us seated, Red cleared her throat. "Now, welcome one and all to Youkai Academy! My name's Kaenbyou Rin, but you can call me Teacher, Teach, or Orin! Catty nicknames will get you some lacerations, though~" I looked at her with alarm, though she ignored it, the joking tone evaporating. "Now, as you all know, this is a school for youkai meant to ease us all into society gently." Pointing to a picture of the Earth, she continued, "We sadly were a bit too late in leaving any kind of territorial footprint on Earth, so we have little choice. As such, if you see your fellow students leaving human form, you should take it upon yourself to get them to return to it! Humans are a finicky lot, so it's absolutely essential you not draw any attention. As such, it's one we'll have to practice~!"
Off in the back, some skinhead with a fluffy pink beard commented, "What's the point? All humans are good for is head and... head." He chuckles more sinisterly than I'd like, and that nobody was batting an eye made me more than a little concerned.
The teacher huffed, retorting, "Be that as it may, it's somethin' we all have to learn. Besides, you'll find no humans here, you know. I mean, in the off chance you did, they'd probably be killed or eaten or something." The blood drained from my face as the room chuckled at what seemed to be jokes to them. "Still, to keep up the charade, the school rules dictate that we all have to do it! It's why homeroom is all about true forms after all~" Beardylocks snorted, though gave no further comment.
As I obviously looked human, I was exempt from participation in the class this time, as was Flan. Weren't allowed to leave, though. And, by the time I was out, I felt more emotionally drained than I think I ever had been before. At least the class was the only one of the day, but it lasted uncomfortably long for an orientation. But, at the same time, I had Flan at my side after we escaped from that den of monster. Although, it was Flan, whose strength made me worried. And it was Flan, whose laughter had me worried the most.
"Marisa, want to go see the grounds with me?" She held her hand out to me, a lighthearted smile on her face. ...Could I really be afraid of her when she smiles like that...? She's like a candle in the dark, as nice as she's been, even ignoring that... licking. There was no real choice but to take her hand. As we wandered the halls, Flan comments, "The architecture is so pretty here..."
Outside? No, not really. But, inside, I felt like I honestly had to agree. All carved stone and fancy wood. Although, I was a bit distracted with how Flan seemed to constantly maintain the attention of the masses, every single eye focused on her, just as every gossip-flavored whisper had her as a subject. Whispers of what sort of youkai she was, and wonder at if she was single or not.
Of course, I two was curious, though far more on the former point.
That was up until they all at once went silent. The calm before the storm, like when a forest goes quiet. I may be just a human, but I swallowed at the shifting focus of their eyes, as at least I was observant. I knew it felt like something out of a horror flick, but I knew I was damned if I did or didn't. And so I peeked over my shoulder just in time to duck under a huge hand grabbing at my collar. "Woah, hey, what are you getting grabby for!?"
It was the skinhead from before, who talked about killing and sex like it was the weather. Flan took a half step in front of me, putting on her bravest of faces. "What do you want with my friend...?" Her brave face was only slightly less scared than mine.
The skinhead snorted, ignoring the question. "The hell do you see in a guy like that? Such a scrawny thing he is..." ..Ohh, he better not be talking about me. "Name's Unzan. Why don't you lose the zero and get with the hero, babe?" He had that sort of smirk that just tells you his head is so far up his ass that he can't see two feet in front of him. Well, that, or I look like an ant from his elevation. Seriously, he's huge...
However, I was never one to back down, so before Flan could answer, I glared up at him from the base of meathead mountain. "Did you just call me a guy?"
Returning my glare, and causing me to take a step back, he answered, "What of it, shrimp?"
"Like hell I am, asshole!" I was quickly losing steam, what with the guy looking a little like The Hulk crammed in a school uniform.
His hand moved too fast to see, and he cupped my face. My eyes were wide, and filled with anger and fear. "Then maybe you should have a turn first, girly. Show you your pla—" Faster than I realized what I was doing, my leg landed between his thighs. His legs buckled after a drawn out grunt from him, and he eventually ended up on his knees, clutching his precious thing. "You'll... pay for that... bitch..."
It was then that Flan grabbed me by the hand and fled, dragging me along with her. My feet simply couldn't keep up with the sudden pace, and I stumbled and even got dragged halfway through the trip. Damned tall people... When we finally stopped, we ended up in a little alcove with a juice machine that looked stylized to be monstrous in appearance. Flan finally looked at me, and our eyes met. And then her arms wrapped around me and boy did they squeeze me tightly. "Thank you thank you thank yooou... I was so worried he was going to hurt us..."
"A-aaair..." I felt her flinch before she let me go, though I was a little busy sucking air. Of course, I wasn't caught in her vice of a hug long, so I was quick to answer, "I just did what I had to." That said, I muttered, "Although, I think I'm gonna regret it..."
She winced, saying, "Still. You... you protected me. Thanks." She smiled at me, and I couldn't help but smile back.
"Hey, no sweat." Even if I may be a smear later, I wasn't about to back down. I brought a thumb to Flan's eye, wiping away a tear. "Don't cry, alright? You're too pretty to mess up your face like that." Even if Unzan was probably gonna mess up my face later. ...Or worse. Or much worse.
She gave me a smile. "Alright. ...Still, thanks. Do you... mind if I buy you juice?"
"Hey, now! Apparently I'm a guy, so it's my job to foot the bill, right?" We shared a giggle at that, which helped Flan settle down.
"...That was... the first time anyone's protected me, you know."
I rose a brow at such a statement. "Ohh?" At her nod I couldn't help but joke, "Well, I guess it was my first time protecting a girl as pretty as you." I couldn't help but give her a big old grin, and chuckled when she blushed. "Still, you nearly dislocated my shoulder twice so far. I can't believe you'd need protection."
She flinched at my words. "I-I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to, I just... I don't know my own strength somethings and... and—"
"Calm down." You flick her nose, earning a yelp from the now distracted pudding. "And it's not your fault. You were just tryin' to help, right?"
"...Right." She didn't seem convinced.
"So we're good. Still, you seemed pretty wimpy for not ever being defended, even ignoring your iron noodles." She gave me an odd look, to which I clarified, "Your arms."
"I... I just didn't want to hurt him. That's all." She looked down, rubbing her arm awkwardly. "Vampires are real strong, you see. I just tend to have trouble with, erm... being less than real strong. So I sealed away my power with a ribbon."
A vampire, huh? "...How about some tomato juice?" Surely if vampires are real, pop culture won't lead me wrong. That it was cheaper helped, of course.
She smiled brightly at the offer, answering, "How did you know I liked tomato juice...? Yes, please!"
Well, would ya look at that. They really do like the stuff. Popping in exact change, I handed over the can of red that didn't come from my knee or nose this time. Which I was eternally grateful for, as I'd have worse problems than I had already if I had tomato juice for blood.
As she gulped down her drink greedily, I couldn't help but smile at the sight. She really was cute, and just seemed to reinforce that image with her every action. Especially when she suddenly stopped, the can with its bottom up, and blushed. "...Umm... can you not tell anyone that I'm a vampire? I spoke without thinking, and erm... I won't tell anyone you're a witch, either, okay?"
...Say what? "...Heh, what gave me away?" Silver tongue don't fail me now!
She giggled, licking her lips clean of the tomato juice. "Well, I hear that witch blood tastes just as good as human blood, and, well..." She trails off, averting her gaze. "Your knee was really delicious."
...Well, looks like I hit the mother of all lies to use! If it tastes like a witch, surely it must be a witch, right? "Thanks, Flan." You put on your biggest grin, giving your best hug.
"What are friends for? Now, let's get back to exploring! C'mon! The map shows a few interesting places!" With a giggle, she began dragging me here and there, showing me the weirdly pretty sights among the creepy ones. Mostly scenery and such, though there was this weird statue of a dragon. By the end, we wound up at a particularly precarious cliffside overlook. The waters beyond were the same as before, and the sky had a gloomy look still. However, having her here made it just a bit less frightening.
Against my better judgement, we sat with our legs dangling over our potential rocky demise. "Y'know... as crazy as this place has been, it's not as bad as I expected." Facial smearing notwithstanding.
Flan gave me a nod. "It has a quiet dignity, this place." Noticing my odd look, she blushed. "W-well, it's nothing like the hustle and bustle of the human cities, is it? It's so quiet here."
I couldn't help but chuckle, earning myself a pout. "Guess that's a word for it." I layed back, my golden mess splayed out behind me. "Me, I'd just call it weird but peaceful. Nothing like back home, that's for sure."
Flan agreed, "I suppose it isn't, huh?" Leaning back, she continued, "I... used to go to a human school, so I like this peace."
"Mm-hm. ...I... didn't enjoy it there. I was teased and teased without end for being a guerrilla." I just couldn't help the snort of laughter I let out, and it earned me a far more upset pout. "What...?"
"Well, I dunno. I mean, you're not nearly as hairy. If there were guerrillas as cute as you, the world'd be a pretty weird place. Maybe a nicer one, too. ...Although, I also went to a human school my whole life, y'know." Mainly because I am human, but she doesn't need to know that.
"You did...?" She rose a brow in curiosity, apparently wanting to hear more.
"Yeah. Was a pretty boring place, full of pretty boring people save for my one friend. Here, though? It's exciting and has a cutie like you. It's... alright in my book."
Flan also laid back, her less messy mop leaving a lopsidded pool of gold behind her. "It really is... Even if there was that scary man from earlier, I feel like I fit in here. And... I have a friend. ...I don't even know what friends are supposed to do, but it feels... nice."
Though we laid there in silence, I felt that we could both agree that it was far from uncomfortable. Under the stormy pink skies and over the crashing red waves, I found myself contented.
That was up until a fist began to form in the clouds, looking much like the eye of a storm. It was then that I realized that the sky looked like cotton candy now. Reminded me of a certain asshole's beard.
That was when I began to sweat. "Uhh... Flan?"
"Does the sky tend to punch people around here?"
With that said, Flan gave me an odd look, only to gasp when she looked back up. "I-I don't think so, no?!"
As it finally careened towards us, we quickly began to scramble to our feet. Flan was faster by far, but I didn't think it was intended to hit her. Of course, that hardly mattered, as it was still about to smash both of us. That is, up until Flan picked me up like a sack of potatoes and flung me out of the way. "Flan!" As I sailed through the air at an uncomfortable speed, everything happened too fast for me to hope to react.
And yet there was no deafening crash of fist on stone, and no squishy crunch of fist on Flan. The pink smoke just spread across the ground like dense fog. However, by the time a figure began to become apparent, I finally hit the ground and rolled more than a little. It wasn't graceful, nor was it over quickly, but I was alive, if in a heap of pain. Of course, I'd been in my fair share of scuffles, so I was quick to rise once the stars had cleared. Looking to where Flan had thrown me from, I found her to be in the arms of that skinhead from earlier.
Shaking my head clear of the last bit of dizziness, I shouted, "Hey, asshole! Leave her alone!" The way he looked at me sent a chill up my spine. I had always been a bit shrimpy, but I made up for that in guts, kinda like a miniature dog. But the look in his eyes, mixed with his great size, made me want nothing more than to flee before he spilled those very guts for me.
So I took a step forward, gritting my teeth.
He let out a snort, not letting Flan out of his grasp, much to her obvious discomfort. "You think a pipsqueak like you can take me down...?"
For once, you honestly can't lie about that with a straight face. "No."
He let out a great bellow of a laugh. "Then get the hell out of here before you wind up dead, ya crossdressing shrimp."
...Ohh, it is on... "No." With a look of amusement on his face, the mist began to gather in his fist, forming a big, pink hulk hand. "I don't have to against a pinkette as weak as you."
That amusement quickly turned to anger, which led to me instantly regretting having more balls than sense. He let loose a punch from a good 30 feet away, and the pink mist speared towards me in the shape of a fist. My eyes widened in the same time it took for it to reach me, and I was blown back not by any physical force, but by hurricane force winds. I heard the ripping of wind and cloth, and was pretty sure I got whiplash from the force of the gust.
"Marisa!!" As I landed in a heap, my consciousness going in and out off and on, I heard what sounded like... footsteps? "Marisa, look out!" The footsteps didn't shake me, but the calling of my name gave me a foothold to regain my awareness, and the warning pulled in my attention. Looking up, I found Unzan's leg rearing back to kick me into the crashing waves below.
With a growl, I did all that I could, rolling out of the way when he swung his leg. Expecting resistance, he toppled backwards, Flan going flying with a yelp. My muscles screamed in protest, but I managed to rise long before the giant of a man had the chance to get back up. I did the only thing I could think of; the only thing I knew for certain would fell someone so much larger than me.
It was my turn to use my leg, and I did so not in a kick, but a satisfying stomp. At his howl of anguish, I did so again, and then once more for good measure. Every action of my leg was me pushing those muscles to their limits, as I didn't want a round 3. If he was going to come again, I'd ingrain fear into his heart. I may be human, but that doesn't make me a pushover.
Flan rose from where she flew when he went down, not seeming more than a bit winded. "M-Marisa?"
Huffing and puffing as my heart pounded, I just flopped on my back. My everything hurt, but nothing felt broken. Good thing, too, as the moment she propped me up, I heard a growl from behind her. My skin went bone white as pink smoke began to rise from his limp form, his physical body melting into nothing. "Flan... B-behind you..." Her eyes widened.