Tuesday, 7th April 2015
Finally, the school bell rung and the students were free to go. Rins gaze fell on the empty seat on her right side, where her best friend Amika was supposed to be. Today she didn’t come to school and didn’t reply to the message she sent her. Even her phone calls from lunch break got ignored.
It was rather unusual for the brunette to just miss school and not answer the phone. Did something happen?
“You ready?” came Akiras voice directly in front of the blue haired girl. But he got no response from the addressed and tried again, “Aikawa-chan? Everything ok?” As she heard her name, Rin flinched slightly and finally registered the red head, “Oh, yeah, sorry.”
Still lost in her mind walked Rin next to the read head. He managed to organize a meeting with his friend for the girl. If she was lucky, there was a chance she could get her scholarship back. She hoped so much that it would work and that she would still be accepted at the Suzuki Academy. This would save her the school costs and she had the chance to get a top degree. Furthermore, she would die from happiness if she could play in the best lacrosse team of the area. But she didn’t think about all of that right now, because Amika was still on her mind. There had to be a good reason for why she would miss school and wouldn’t even reply. Rin had an awful feeling and worried a lot.
“Hey, everything alright?” the young man looked at her. “What? Eh…yes” she stumbled over her words. After some silence the girl breathed a deep sigh, “Okay, no. I’m worried about Ami. It is unusual that she didn’t even get in touch.” “Should we take a quick detour? Then you can look for yourself?” Akira suggested. “I don’t want to keep your friend waiting. It would be impolite and wouldn’t make a good first impression” her eyes remained concerned. The redhead, on the other hand, only waved it off, “Nonsense. He will be at his work all day. It doesn’t matter to him whether we stop by now or later."
It didn’t take them long to reach the house of the brunette. Both of them turned the last corner when Rin suddenly took a deep breath, her eyes widened and she stood still like stone. Akira even flinched at the girl's reaction and looked at her with a worried expression, “Aikawa-chan? What happened?”
Without averting her gaze or saying a word, she pointed a finger at one of the houses. Well, admittedly, you couldn't call it that anymore, because it was partially collapsed and largely blocked off due to the risk of collapse.
“That burned down a few weeks ago. There even was a report in the newspaper because there were victims as well.” the red head was not impressed at first, “Wait…This is not your friends home is it?!”” Yes,” the girls voice almost trembled.
She was speechless and didn’t know what to say. Why was the building burned down? And what did Akira mean with “victims”? Did somebody die? Where was her best friend? And most important: Why didn’t she say something to her? Didn’t she trust her best friend anymore?
So many questions were floating around in her head like a roller coaster, that her eyes rolled back and she lost consciousness. Her companion was able to catch her just in time before she would have hit the hard ground.
“Aikawa-chan!” he yelled and shook her shoulders, “Hey! Wake up!” It only took her a few seconds to open her eyes again, “What is going on?”
Completely dazed she looked into the blue eyes of the worried Akira and regained consciousness faster than he thought. Suddenly the girl jumped up and ran closer to the burned-down house. She stood in front of it in disbelief and still couldn't believe it.
“It burned down just like that? Completely? Why?” she murmured and had to fight back tears. “She didn’t tell you anything?” the red head stood on her side.
While staring at the building she shook her head and the young man patted her head, “I’m really sorry about that.”
She turned to him, “You just said there were victims, right? Did somebody die? Who? And how did it happen?” Startled from the questions he had to think about it, “Well. It was a while back when I read the report. I think a woman died and somebody was slightly injured. I don’t know who. And how it happened was still unclear.” “A woman? Amis mother? Oh no!” she held her head with both hands, “And where do they live now?” Her companion shrugged his shoulders, “Who knows. We could ask a neighbour.”
As soon as he said that, the girl was walking determined to the house on the left side and rang the doorbell. After nobody answered she tried again, but it seemed like nobody was home. Immediately she walked to the house on the right side. Somebody was home there, but he couldn’t help with her questions because he only recently moved in when it was already burned down. In the houses across the street she had no luck as well and so she stopped on the street, “This can’t be real. Where are they and why does nobody know anything??!”
Akira grinned crookedly and symbolized that he also had no idea why nobody had useful information here. In the end, they had no choice but to leave.
Rins worries were not reduced by the attempt of a visit and the redhead was almost sorry that he had suggested that she visited Amika at home. But better she knows about it now than forever being unsuspecting.
Finally, they arrived in front of the Suzuki Academy and Rin again marvelled at the huge campus. She almost forgot what kind of elite institution this school was. A lot of large cherry trees were planted directly behind the wall, which were in full bloom at this time of year. Walking through the gate, a long path led straight into the building. In the middle, the wide path was briefly divided by a large fountain. Large, long flower beds were laid out to the left and right of the path, which extended in several rows on both sides. In between there were some gaps in the beds so that you could still slip through without any problems.
The building on the left was still quite extensive, while on the other side it was perhaps only half as long. On the short side you could already see the oversized sports field from the entrance area. The girl saw a soccer field, as well as a basketball field. She could also recognize baseball. More couldn’t be made out of the distance. On the left, however, she could see a large, well occupied bicycle space at the end.
The school building itself was built to form a very long U.
Some students, who were already done for the day, walked towards the two and eyed them strangely. Two figures with the uniform of the city's cheapest school in an elite institution were quite the eye-catcher. Embarrassed, the girl ducked her head slightly and stared at the floor as she walked quickly alongside Akira. Of course, the blue-haired woman no longer looked ahead and suddenly crashed into the back of a standing student and tore her to the floor. They both cried out in surprise before they hit the hard asphalt. At the same moment a brief blue glow emanated from Rin and suddenly the water in front of them shot high in the air for a few seconds.
“Cool” the red head stood frozen and with an open mouth looked on as the water went crazy. The other students close to the fountain looked at it with wonder as well.
“Ouch” the blue haired one stood up again, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.”
A Girl with ice blue, knee-length hair sat in front of her and held a book in her right hand. Shy, she answered, “N-nothing happened, it’s fine.”
Rin quickly helped her back on her feet and continued her way with her companion. She didn’t want to get stares from the other students because of her dumbness.
“Could it be you like to run into people?” laughed Akira. Playfully insulted, the girl buffed her cheeks and didn’t say anything. But he was right. Sometimes the girl was so immersed in her own world that she forgot everything around her.
“Did you see the fountain? It went crazy. That was awesome” he kept laughing. “Crazy?” she asked irritated, “What happened with the fountain?” “Didn’t you see how the water shot out of there?” Akira wondered.
The girl only shook her head and didn’t understand what happened back there. All of that probably happened just as she stumbled into the student. But it was really weird, especially because something like that happened with her bottle of water as well.
“Well doesn’t matter. The fountain probably just had a malfunction or something like that” the young man shrugged his shoulders, “But did you look at that girl just now? I think you two look a lot alike.” “You think so? Just because she has long, blue hair like me? But hers is so much brighter and longer than mine.” she took one of her hair strands in her hand and looked at it. The red head had to think about it, “I don’t know. But as I saw you two together, I thought you two had some similarities.”
As the two couldn’t agree on the matter, they let the discussion be and Rin hoped they would arrive soon by said friend.
After walking purposefully through half the building, Akira finally stopped at a door. Was that the director's room? It was definitely not the staff room. But Rin couldn't imagine that the director had his room here of all places. Although they were not official classrooms, a long corridor with various club rooms stretched right after this room.
No sooner had the redhead knocked, as the door opened and a girl with shoulder-length light brown hair stood in front of the two. She had clutched some documents in her arm and politely greeted them.
“Oh, Minatsuki-chan? You here?” grinned Akira cheekily. It looked like she had to think for a moment, “It’s you Yoshida-kun? How are you? What are you doing here?” “I’m good. It’s just going to be a quick visit.” he waved it off.
Akira immediately entered the room and looked around, “Ah, hey, there you are.”
In greeting he raised a hand towards a huge wall of books and papers. Was there someone behind it? The girl also stepped into the room and closed the door behind her.
“How about a 'sorry' you eternal late comer!” Came a grumbling male voice behind the wall. Grinning, the person addressed scratched the back of his head, “Yeah, yeah, sorry. Don't make a big thing out of it. You're here all day anyway.”
Was the boy's friend a student? How could a student help her get her scholarship back? Rin looked confused as Akira talked to the wall.
“But I have better things to do than wait forever,” came the voice again, which somehow seemed familiar to the girl after closer listening. However, she could not assign them. But she must have met the young man somewhere before. Who was that?
“It's okay. I got held up, but I brought Aikawa-chan with me,” he indicated to his company and headed for the door again, "I’m going to the toilet real quick.”
The blue-haired girl looked after him with wide eyes. He didn't want to leave her alone now, did he? As soon as he had disappeared from sight, Rin took a few steps towards the paper wall, “Hello, I'm glad to meet you. My name is Rin Aikawa” she bowed as politely as she could and tried to make a good impression.
You could hear the chair moving and suddenly a young man of the girl's age appeared from the barricade. He skilfully swung himself over the long row of tables and sat on the edge, directly in front of the girl.
He was relatively tall and had short black hair. However, two long strands hung down on the sides and his bangs were slanted to the left. Two smaller strands stood out from his head as well. His eyes were golden brown and looked at the girl rather disinterestedly. To the astonishment of the blue-haired, her counterpart wore the school uniform. Pretty sloppy she might add. The black jacket with chequered yellow accents was open and the sleeves rolled up and instead of the white shirt he wore a simple T-shirt underneath. In a matching yellow, he had a triangular scarf tied around his neck. The yellow check pants were the only thing he hadn't put on in a mess. Well how? Only a small iron chain ran from his left leg to the back. A bright green stone hung from it. Probably an emerald?
“And you came here because you want your scholarship back?” he crossed his right leg over the other and rested his arm on said leg, while his hand supported his head.
Instead of an answer, the girl just stared paralyzed at the person sitting in front of her. That couldn't be true, could it? She knew the black-haired man. She knew him only too well. It was none other than Akira's best buddy, Rin's biggest nightmare, Kuroya Ayumu aka Kuro. How many times had he harassed, humiliated, and ridiculed her in middle school? She hated him. With a passion.
“Hey, wait a minute,” Kuro cocked his head and looked at the girl, “You seem familiar.”
The blue-haired woman took a step back in panic. The fear was literally written on her face and the sweat dripped from her forehead. This complete idiot would never give her a scholarship. Above all, she didn't understand why he should be empowered to do so.
The young man spoke up again, “Ah! I have it! You're the little one from middle school.”
A nasty, confident grin grew on his face and again the girl was left speechless.
“What's wrong with you? Did you lose your voice?” he laughed nastily, “Or are you afraid?”
Since he hit the bullseye with his words, Rin winced. Still, she couldn't manage to contradict him. What was wrong with her? When her friends or brother made fun of her, she always had a quick witty answer to turn the tide. But why did her voice fail every time with Kuro? Why was her head empty?
“Well, who cares. Then we come to the matter at hand. You know I can't just give you a scholarship like that, do you? The school can do better things with its money than promoting someone who is talentless like you,” he babbled flatly, “So?”
So what? What did he mean by that?
Suddenly he jumped up from the table and stood in front of the girl. He was a head taller than her, which was intimidating on its own, but he went one step further by bending his back and getting closer to her with his face. Inevitably she pulled her head back, but stayed in front of him. Now they looked each other straight in the eye. Kuro cheerfully and cheekily grinning and Rin with wide open, fear-filled eyes.
“Well?” he dragged the word as he examined the key in amazement.
“What’s your price, Aikawa?” he looked up and stared directly into her eyes.
What price? What did he mean with price? And who did he think he was just grabbing her things?
Suddenly the girl took a few steps back and clutched her upper arms tightly. The key slipped out of Kuro's hand. Rin's look revealed that she was more frightened than before, which the young man obviously liked.
He laughed out loud, “Wahaha, what are you thinking? As if I was going to voluntary try something on you.” Then he pointed his finger at the blue-haired woman, put his other hand on his hip and straightened his back again, “Become my personal assistant!”
Did she hear wrong or did he really say that? As if she would play slave for him. The girl knew exactly what she would have to put up with every day. It was enough for her that he apparently went to this school, which she absolutely wanted in.
At that moment the door was suddenly pushed open and the black-haired man looked over. Rin, on the other hand, still had her panicked gaze on the young man.
“Man, Kuro,” came Akira's voice, “What have you done now?” “What do you mean?” he crossed his arms and whistled like an innocent lamb. Annoyed, the redhead closed the door behind him, “Grow up. Did you at least clarify the matter with the scholarship?”
The presence of her classmate made the girl feel safer. He seemed more sensible than her worst nightmare and was on her side.
However, the black-haired man approached her again, “Yes, yes, that’s already clear. Aikawa knows what to do, doesn't she?” He smirked at her and grabbed the key in the same moment again, “And now, what is that good for?”
He pulled it a little harder, so that the knot in the leather strap loosened and the chain and the gem were now in Kuro's hands.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Akira trudged angrily towards his buddy and snatched the chain from him. He was now also examining the key, “That's a strange key. Is it made of real gold?” Finally, the girl found her voice again and answered a little shakily, “I don't know.” “And what is it for? It looks like it will open something totally awesome,” the redhead was visibly amazed. “It just suddenly was there one day. This is most probably just some jewellery,” said Rin. “Do you think so?” his interest was still piqued, “I have to test that.”
He immediately ran over to the door to try the key.
“Are you dumb? Why should this thing fit in the door of the student council? It looks completely different,” the young man looked critically at his buddy.
Meanwhile, Akira however had already pushed the key into the keyhole and tried to turn it. There was a short click and the key turned around once.
With his eyes wide open the redhead looked at the two with a crooked grin, “Did it just click? That didn't really work, did it?”
Beads of sweat ran down her forehead while Rin looked stunned at him. Kuro had gotten himself together fairly quickly and grabbed the girl by the collar, “Where did you get the key for the student council room? This is theft!”
Before his anger could deepen, Akira opened the door and couldn't believe his eyes, “EH?!”
Alternately he looked out of the window behind him and out of the door again, then pointed with his finger, “T-That can't be.”
Confused by the young man's reaction, the black-haired man let go of his thief and both hurried over to the door and tried to find out what their buddy found so unbelievable. At first, they didn't understand what was going on, but then they noticed it too.
“It’s night!” both shouted in a choir and also turned to look out of the window of the student council room. It was bright day outside, while pitch black night was on the other side of the door.
Akira gave the blue-haired woman a little shaky her necklace back, which she tied around her neck again. Then he courageously went into the hall to take a closer look. A dark brown-grey cloak with a hood formed around him. Kuro followed his example and they examined their newly acquired floor-length robes.
However, Rin shivered and remained where she was, while she just stared at the two in panic. She knew that cloak. She had seen it once in her dream. That was the terrible dream in which she stood in this wreckage and found the little girl with this bird. What was going on here?
“Where did this ugly thing come from?” the black-haired man looked down on himself. Akira shrugged, “I would like to know that as well. This key has probably opened up a portal to another dimension.”, he cheekily grinned at his buddy, who hit him lightly on the head with his flat hand, “You play too much videogames.” “Ouch.”
“Come on, Aikawa-chan. Let's take a closer look, it's interesting,” Akira asked Rin to go through the door as well. She didn't want to, that was certain. But she also knew that the boys would definitely explore the area. If she came along or not. And she didn't want to stay here alone, which is why she hesitantly decided to run after the two.
The dark brown-grey cloak appeared on her again, as she walked over to the two of them. Kuro however had something to complain about his new garment, so he tore it off and peppered it on the floor.
“Stupid thing. As if I would be caught walking around with something like this,” he growled.
But the cloak had its own opinion as it seemed, because it materialized again on its owner. The three were amazed when the scrap of fabric just beamed itself. “Did that just happen?”, Akira was speechless. Kuro, on the other hand, just got angrier, “What the hell?!”
He tore off his robe again and again it returned to its owner. He repeated it a few more times and the redhead couldn't help it, he just had to try it out of curiosity. The result remained the same with him.
Meanwhile, Rin stood there annoyed and watched the boys remove their robe again and again, “Guys? It's getting annoying. Do you really think that the cloak will change its mind the hundredth time?”
The black-haired man only let out an aggressive gnashing of teeth before walking down the hall. Akira, on the other hand, said to her in amusement, “No, but it's funny how the cape keeps beaming back.”
She slapped herself in the face and groaned, “Seriously?”
The two of them started moving and followed Kuro. They wandered through the empty school building, but couldn’t find anything strange. Only the electricity didn’t work, which meant that the students literally stood in the dark. The boys didn't bother that much, because their smartphones had a flashlight. Rin on the other hand was left with nothing in this regard and had to make sure to be closely on their heels.
“I don't understand what's going on here,” Akira finally said, “I turned the key in the door and on the other side it was night and the power went out?” “You could say it like that. The only question is why?” answered the blue-haired woman. Kuro babbled in between, “I'm going to the roof now. It's the only place we haven't been to.”
The three of them then set off. There were no discussions on the matter. The black-haired man would do whatever he wanted anyway, the other two were pretty sure.
Once at the top, Akira stated, “The street lamps are also out. We wouldn’t be able to see anything if the moon didn’t shine so bright.”
Well, he was right on that.
“What light is that back there?” Rin clung to the protective grille and pointed in the direction of the apartment buildings. “It’s so far away, you can hardly see anything. But there's a residential area over there, isn't it?” came from the redhead. A little disinterested, Kuro now looked in the direction and said dryly, “Looks like fire.”
Suddenly the other two looked at each other in shock. The black-haired boy then looked at them as if they were completely mental, “What's wrong with you?”
“That’s the direction ...”, the girl hesitated. Akira finished her sentence, “... where Amika Shiori lived.”
“But that has to be another house,” explained the student, “Ami's burned down ages ago.” “Normally yes...” her classmate pondered.
Kuro however remained unimpressed, “So what? It's not unusual that there’s a fire somewhere.”