Okay, here we are, things are about to pick up at last folks. I hope you're all ready cause I know I am. I am of course aware that there has been a break of several months, I can only say that life has gotten in the way and the few times it hasn't my interest has either gone elsewhere or gone into parts of this fic other then the chapter I needed to write next. So while indeed there has been a large break I can at least tell you that I have world built pretty thoroughly to make the R+V setting my own by expanding on canon in a lot of areas, a lot of that info will hit in the next few chapters in basic form at least and I hope you'll like it. Unfortunately I cannot promise to get back on my previous schedule because much as I'd love to my time right now is very limited. Sorry. Also, I am fully aware of and opposing the recent events with this site, see my recently posted chapter of Fifty Feathers for my post of the petition. Damn that thing is huge. And yes, I'll be posting it regardless of how long that chapter takes, there's been no real site response and this stuff needs to be fixed.

Oh and it came up in a review last chapter that Tsukune surviving the fight with Ishigami unscathed was a stretch, I found it very hard to convey this from Omote-Moka's POV since she is neither a fighter nor a healer but he was far from okay. Were it not for the blood injection he would have been hospitalised for some time, hence giving away what he is to the girls waking up from petrification hence he needed to be healed and fast. I have tried to edit but it's a little hard to show that while keeping Moka's observational ability and level-headedness in character for her.

Finally for this author's note, Hedorrah in this story are not alien monsters as in godzilla mythos, rather that was the result of a writer who was himself a Hedorrah attempting to grab some media recognition for his unsung yet widespread species. This backfired when his layout of creatures adverse to pollution and naturally filtering their surroundings despite their appearance was pretty much inverted due to executive meddling. This information is entirely meaningless to the story and won't come up again. But it does make for nice background XD That 'hentai' means 'pervert' (sort of) however, will come up in this chapter.

Ningen no Ken: Chapter Six

Hostile Introduction

"Isn't this too much desu?"

An absently flapping hand appeared before her eyes, Yukari bristling at the casual gesture; even more so given its source had not bothered to look at her. She swept the perverted hand away and continued, "This is dangerous, if we get caught-"

"What are you talkin' 'bout, it'll be fine."

The scuffle that would have broken out over Gin's easy dismissal of her perfectly valid concerns was cut short by a wonderfully smooth hand on her shoulder. Velvety soft skin brushing her neck butterfly light and bulldozing her mind clear of worry. Well right up until her eyes followed that arm back to its source and -finding worried eyes there- followed them to the original cause of her worry.

Tsukune-san (looking as unassumingly dashing as ever) was currently elbow deep in a vat of tonight's dinner. She would have liked to think his green face was simply human squeamishness but the sounds coming from that particular pot were even effecting her, Yukari had never liked her food to move. Still someone would enjoy it and that was the reason for them being here in the first place.

The empty-headed, boob girl emerged from a pantry at that moment, trying in vain to brush flour from her...everything really. Despite her amusement at the succubus' new colouration Yukari shared the frustration of her shaking head. No sign of it in the pantry either, but she had been certain of it, the tests couldn't lie. Not twelve times in a row and with three control groups.

Someone in the kitchens was slacking off, opting to use a copy charm in place of actually cooking. By placing the charm focus amongst actual food a magically formed version could be formed almost immediately, it would look, taste and smell enough like the original to go undetected -especially among the cafeteria's food- it also provided almost no actual nutrition and could even be harmful to some species.

It was one of the students getting sick -with some very particular symptoms and timing and with all the signs pointing to the student being a Hedorrah- that originally tipped her off. Which had led to her testing food samples and then to her informing her club of their headline for this week.

If they could find some actual solid proof that is...it was looking to be a seriously big 'if'.

"Oi. Will ya stop daydreamin' already squirt. Help us keep an eye out alre..." Gin's admonishment trailed off when he looked to Moka and found that she too was looking into the kitchens rather then keeping an eye out for anyone approaching. With a disgusted snort he turned away from the entrance and spared them his stupid, pervert, dog face.

While Gin muttered about being the only one of the three actually keeping watch and how they were going to waste his supposedly brilliant distraction; Yukari continued to mainly watch their friends trying and failing to find the charm which she knew was there! Under this fervent watch Tsukune lifted a heavy lid from atop a particularly massive pot, reached in and-

"Yeeooow!" Tsukune shouted as he snatched his hand back out of the cauldron. Too late he noticed the bubbles in what should have been a still, cool pan this early in the morning. Instead it had left much of his arm decidedly reddened and smelling of...

"Curry." was Kurumu's verdict, the scent close to her nose as she set about cooling Tsukune's arm beneath a nearby tap. Jealousy flared in her diminutive breast at how close they were, then a little of the smell he was coated in after their search wafted her way and grudging admiration at Kurumu's devotion took it's place. Instead of attending to him Yukari joined Moka in wandering into the room to examine the offending cookware.

Her eyes were quick to pick out the runes carved subtly into the rim of the vessel, delicate lines in the rough metal. "A stasis spell," Yukari informed the others, "it's keeping this pot like this, bubbling and boiling and nothing else. Like this it could be left for a year or more-"

"And I'd never have to touch it." spoke a snide, nasally voice Yukari definitely recognized from the cafeteria lines.

Whirling to face the speaker she found a gaunt, limp haired man seemed to be unfolding himself out of a side door to the kitchens, the lack of warning easily explained when she glanced away to the main doorway and found Gin was no where to be seen. Her rising ire at that discovery was interrupted by the surprisingly short cook.

He glared at each of them in turn as he spoke, "I should have known someone would come here after that stupid kid went and got sick." stalking closer to them with each word, one of his hands trailed behind him, fingers lengthening with a series of sickening pops. His face twisted and lengthened, a reptilian tint coming to his skin as he snarled out each word.

"Making me cook for you little-! I'm a genius, I studied under the greatest of cooks! I and my rival, that curry-loving ingrate of a cook!" He practically spat the last word, his face twisting as though using such a term to describe that person offended him.

Backing away from his advance Yukari was readying her wand to strike when she bumped into a solid figure, Tsukune standing behind her with a determined look on his face. However before he could step forward himself Moka moved into his way, leaving her small form trapped between them...

As such Yukari was far too busy daydreaming about their current position to notice Moka's apologetic smile and gesture towards her seal, the gem of which appeared to be glaring at everything in sight. She did not see Tsukune smile nor his shrug as he reached for the cross; the incredible surge of Youki that blasted out when he pulled it away however, that she definitely noticed.

She stared up in rampant admiration as her Moka-san closed her eyes and the other Moka opened her own. Silver spreading through her hair like moonlight across a pool, her posture stiffening with pride and confidence, her breasts increasing ever so slightly in size. Yukari clamped a handkerchief to her nose with that last observation, one she was sure no-one else had yet realised about the more dignified of the girls she loved, even if said girl did still terrify her a little...okay a lot

Aggravatingly the stupid cook's voice cut across her burgeoning fantasies. He continued his rant, somehow oblivious to the foreboding presence mere feet away, "How dare they! That bitch was chosen above me! ME! She cooks in the finest restaurant in Kyoto and I'm stuck preparing her damned recipes for tasteless brats!" Surging forward with those words screaming from his throat, he brought long clawed hands up ready to strike down at them.

Then staggered to a halt as he finally noticed the suffocating amount of Youki surrounding him, his face paling in a sudden terror. Perhaps under other circumstances he might have apologised and confessed, things might have ended with that. However Inner-Moka was out and her eyes made it clear what she planned to do with her taste of freedom.

A cold voice sounded his doom, several octaves deeper then Outer-Moka's, yet still unmistakeably feminine, "If your skills are so inferior to your rival's, you should stop punishing others for your pathetic shortcomings." Stepping forward with that calmly delivered sentence the vampire remained perfectly still, coolly staring him down until finally he snapped.

Claws flashed towards her at blurring speeds; far too slow.

"Know your place!"

With her usual battle cry, Inner-Moka struck. A single powerful kick propelling the enemy across the kitchens and -in a pleasing irony- into the spelled curry pot. His weight buckled it on impact, curry spilling everywhere, soaking the insensate villain. When he woke up he was unlikely to be happy.

Stepping quickly past Moka, Yukari was careful to avoid stepping in any of the spilled food. Now out of the stasis field, time was rapidly catching up to the meal, judging by the decay that had set in already it had been in there for at least a fortnight. Bravely stifling the urge to gag, the young witch flicked her wand and levitated a simple, deeply carved rock from the mess.

"We found the charm desu!"

Even Inner-Moka's lips twitched near-imperceptibly at their triumph, Kurumu jumping and shouting her customary cheer while Tsukune grinned and congratulated her deductions. Unfortunately before she could request a...reward, the silver-haired vampire interrupted him by coldly snatching her seal from his hand. Before their eyes she returned the item to it's place at her neck, the chain rejoining as if it had never parted at all.

Of course that was when things took a turn for the worse.

Almost the moment that Moka's hair regained it's normal hue -her body falling toward Tsukune, only for Kurumu to dart into the way and snatch her out the air, muttering about cunning vampires- heavy footsteps resounded from the other side of the same side door that their opponent this time had emerged from. Apparently Gin's distraction really had run its course and now the cooks were returning.

As one, the eyes of the three people still standing in the kitchens darted to the proof Yukari floated before herself (wary of it's thick coating of...something vile) and then on to the mess that had been made out of the kitchens; first by their search, then by the beating Moka had administered. Their decision was unanimous and unspoken.

By the time the side door opened again they were already out through the supply doors of the kitchen and several hundred metres into the woods, still sprinting at top speed when the enraged cry of a dozen Ayashi cooks went up behind them. Yukari easily imagined the anger currently directed towards the only suspect for the destruction available to the cooks. Justice was served.

But just in case; they all decided to skip breakfast that day.

Kurumu was definitely enjoying the morning so far, her week's detention had been ended a day early, they had a front page article ready for the newspaper already and though they had already eaten through a good chunk of the free Friday morning holiday, even the prospect of classes that afternoon could not steal away her cheer. It was even an unusually nice day, a little more sun shining down then normally made it to this place.

'Maybe the headmaster cares a lot about this holiday...what was it even about anyway? Some hero or something...' Stretching shoulders still stiff from falling asleep in a chair last night, Kurumu shrugged off the holiday as unimportant beyond being a holiday and cast her thoughts back over their walk.

They had luxuriated in that extra fraction of light and heat as they took the long way through the woods to the other side of the school campus, aiming to emerge as though they had merely taken a walk together, so avoiding revealing it was they who had trashed the kitchens quite yet. Hopefully their article would distract any blame with its reveal of the dastardly deeds in the kitchen...or maybe plot to mess with pudding...

It grated on her pride but Kurumu was forced to admit it, "Yukari-chan, I think you can do the headlines for this week too."

"What's the matter desu, have those boobs stolen the blood from your brain again?"

Rather then give in to the little witch's teasing, Kurumu (for once) took the high road. Easily hefting Moka in her arms she moved a little closer to Tsukune, loudly asking him, "Do you think Yukari-chan is trying to start an argument? How childi-" A pebble striking the back of her head snapped her out of her magnanimous mood, now turning to face a far too innocent looking witch.

Unfortunately her arms were occupied with a snoozing vampire so Kurumu was reduced to glaring impotently at the brat. Glaring...

She turned back to face the front almost exactly as a small squeak and a thump announced Yukari's close encounter with the dirt. Hiding her grin Kurumu let the tiny illusionary root disperse and skipped forward, 'And since I'm holding Moka she can't trip me. Hah!...what's tha-?' A strange bubbling sound above her head drew Kurumu's attention. Looking up she found a shaky globule of murky, I-really-hope-it's-water about the size of her head was now floating in the air.

She practically growled at Yukari, "You wouldn't dare."

"Put Moka-san down and we'll find out." To her grudging admiration the little witch returned her glare without flinching, sparks flying between them. Not that it was going to do her any good, enough was enough and this time Kurumu was determined to come out on top.

Tsukune's melodious tones cut across the almost electric tension between them, "O-okay, let's all just calm down a bit and-"

"Oi, shouldn't club members be getting' along?"

Stepping casually out from behind a tree Gin was the very picture of maturity and composure. 'Hentai.' He even had the nerve to look affronted when she started shouting at him for running away back at the kitchens, then Yukari twirled her wand and Kurumu forgave her for everything. Because the materialised liquid had just smacked Gin right in the face, drenching him.

Yukari was quick to follow up on her attack, shouting his way; "People who run out on their club members aren't needed desu!" For his part Gin not only let the water (probably) hit but if she didn't know better Kurumu might have thought he was listening to the complaints. As it was he quickly dropped the act, appearing in front of her with his eyes either on Moka or her chest. His worried voice stopped her just short of smacking him.

"Moka-san still hasn't woken up then,huh?"

Kurumu stared suspiciously at his eyes for a long moment before accepting he wasn't looking anywhere near her body. Assured he was being serious, she made to answer him only for Tsukune to start speaking first, "Ah, she normally stays asleep for a pretty long time afterwards." Determined to add her own thoughts Kurumu leant down over Moka and adjusted her hold on the other girl as she spoke.

"I guess the switch over tires her out or som-"

There was a mirror on Gin's shoe.

She had shifted Moka just enough to catch a glimpse of it before he could kick the evidence away and now he was definitely going to get hit. Or he would have if Moka had not stirred in the succubus' arms right as she drew her hand back. Gin was leaning over her in an instant, Tsukune and Yukari already rushing towards them. Meanwhile Moka let out a small yawn and opened her eyes.

Seeing the werewolf's leering face mere inches from her own drove Moka to let out a shrill shriek then lash out, shoving their club president in the chest. Gin was caught off guard, vampiric strength blasting him across the clearing to crash into a dry, spiky patch of undergrowth. His cries of pain while trying to extract himself went unnoticed by the little witch glomping Moka the second she had both feet on the ground.

Tsukune however walked over (with a bemused glance at Moka as if he still found her strength surprising) to help him out of the bush, his own anger at Gin stiffening his movements. Still they quickly had him standing and a good portion of the thorns removed from his person, Tsukune's good-natured disposition drawing a happy sigh from the watching succubus before she returned to making sure Moka was fully awake and not about to go mindlessly snacking on her destined one when he came over.

Predictably it didn't work. A familiar chomping sound and distressed shout sounding through the forest. Still Moka did at least get off him quickly this time and he didn't even look too badly drained, his cheeks only slightly sunken. Not that Kurumu let that hold her back from yelling at the vampire girl but-

"What?" Tsukune's loud exclamation drew the three girls attention back to him and Gin, the older of the two looking down at his bewildered kouhai with a grating, superior expression. Kurumu's annoyance was replaced by astonishment when he spoke however;

"I said that I'll finish the rest off, you guys did the investigation on this one so I'll get to writin' it up." Gin's lazy drawl was met with a slack-jawed silence. Four incredulous stares focused on the smiling second year. It was Moka who said what they were all thinking, hesitantly stepping forward to ask him.

"Ano...Gin-Senpai...are you feeling all right?"

He blinked rapidly a few times, his face shifting smoothly into a manly yet puppy-eyed stoicism that had fooled them all the first dozen times he used it. Now it simply met a round of rolled eyes and Yukari's inquiry as to whether he was looking to borrow some money.

"Oi, oi, oi. I ain't that bad!"

By now convinced he had hit his head harder then they thought, Moka and Kurumu made to grab him. However if he did have a concussion it didn't stop him from dodging their well meaning attempts, the older boy dancing back a few steps before he held up a hand to stop them. Taking a deep breath he slouched even more then usual and looked off into the woods as he spoke.

"Look I'm...sorry 'bout runnin' out on ya. I'm sure you heard about me gettin' in a lot of trouble in the past and...I can't get caught trashin' the kitchens." His awkward tone grabbed at Kurumu's heart, for all she hated the pervert he at least sounded sincere. He turned back to look them each in the eye as he finished speaking, "It was a crappy thing to do, I'm sorry 'bout it. Now give me the stuff so I can make it up to ya and we can get back to normal."

Despite herself a wry smile twisted Kurumu's lips as she turned away from Gin, rooting in her bag for the satchel of notes and their evidence. 'Funny...I was sure it was-' A hand on her rear had Kurumu stiffening faster then if a lightning bolt had been applied instead. Recognising that grip she whirled about ready to unleash all hell on Gin. The werewolf was already almost out of sight, the satchel firmly in his grasp.

Tsukune's hand on her shoulder was the only thing that stopped her taking wing to go after him and give him the beating he rightly deserved. 'Hentai!' But...well the hand on her shoulder was awfully successful at reminding her that this meant they now had the rest of the morning still free. A natural smile beamed from her lips as she spun to hug Tsukune deep into her chest. His struggles barely registering as she attempted yet again to make him hear her heart.

Eventually she had no choice to release him, confused about why he looked so out of breath, she'd been the one fighting off Moka and Yukari's attempts to pry her off. When he got enough air back to talk Tsukune said, "Ah, I should probably get to the dorms, I need to use one of the phones."

"Why desu? Who're you talking to?" If there was a note of suspicion in Yukari's voice then it went uncommented on.

Tsukune hesitated for a moment, looking unsure as he rubbed the back of his neck. Then he said, "I promised my parents I'd phone them as often as I could and uh...well I mean I should..."

For once Kurumu found she felt a twinge of annoyance towards him at the failure of her attempts. Not much but enough to make her tease him a little, "Are you sure? A good boy like Tsukune, I'd have thought you'd be wanting to phone home yourself." Her playful tone intended to blunt any actual offence...

Then her joke was spoiled as his face lit with a blush, obvious embarrassment showing she had accidentally guessed somewhere close to the truth. Stammering out something about needing to check his training Tsukune looked firmly away from the rest of them and took several steps into the lead. The backfire of her joke had Kurumu franticly trying to reassure him it was okay, each attempt only embarrassing him further.

"The last issue was well received though, I expected more people to get annoyed at us when the Art-History trip was cancelled."

Moka's not very smooth intervention was appreciated...not that Kurumu planned to admit it.

Tsukune managed to calm his embarrassment with the change of subject, "Sorry Moka-san, I guess you must have been disappointed about that."

Moka shook her head, "No, I mean- It was mainly just a fun trip so it's not a big problem." though her face gave away some disappointment. She had been the only one amongst them who had signed up for the trip in question.

"It's not our fault anyway desu! That collector shouldn't have been so petty just because his 'friend' got caught doing such terrible things."

Kurumu remembered the statement that said collector had given in the posted cancellation message, specifically where the powerful Ayashi businessman had spoken of "childish accusations" and "petty children". When she'd first read it up on the notice board in the girl's dormitory Kurumu had been afraid that her classmates might even believe the words over their own paper. Fortunately most had been just as disgusted as she was, many even wondering why the message had been posted in the first place when it was such obvious nonsense.

It was Gin (showing his serious side between sips of coffee) who pointed out the likely reasoning; since the same business figure had almost certainly been responsible for Ishigami-sensei only getting termination of employment and monitored house arrest as her punishment. This way the outcry over such leniency towards someone who had hurt and angered so many students would be directed away from the school itself.

'That reminds me, I need to sign up for the boycott of that asshole's company's products. Good move by the Recycling Club...though I wish there were a way to reall-'

"Hey, Kurumu-chan!" Her Destined One's sweet tones called Kurumu out of her thoughts, the others looking back at her from several feet ahead. Yukari was grinning in a way that made it clear she planned to laugh about this, scowling good-naturedly Kurumu shook off the rest of her thoughts and quickly followed after them.

So their walk continued, a little awkwardness in their step. Smiles on their faces.

Smiles that vanished at what was waiting for them in the next clearing.

The usual majestic trees grew thick at the edges of a wide space, dirt and small growth the only components of the ground. A few errant scraps of litter here and there attested to the space normally being well used, while off to the side one of the streams meandering through these words pooled in a series of little ponds. And ranged across the only other path out of this area, were seven black clothed students. The uniforms of the Academy Public Safety commission were easily recognized upon every one of them.

The tension only ramped higher as Tsukune whirled to face the way they had come, another trio of members appearing from out of the woods, blocking their only easy escape. They were trapped. Not to mention outnumbered.

It was Moka who stepped forward from the group, a very apprehensive-looking Tsukune started forward like he was about to drag her back only to stall when she glanced at him over her shoulder and stopped just a few steps from them, still a far greater distance away from their ambushers. The vampire spoke with an admirable resolve, her voice only quailing a little at just how bad the situation looked, "You shouldn't block public paths like that! Please get out of the way already!"

A stocky looking guy -with several irregularities in his face to suggest his masquerade was not exactly up to school standards- stepped up casually, crushing any hope for peace when he said, "I think we all know how this one's going to go. Though I guess you could beat yourselves to death." A round of sniggering interrupted him before he finished with, "We might even let the last one standing go."

Flexing her fingers Kurumu was not afraid...well not too afraid anyway. She already had her first target picked out, a fast looking one that was eyeing Yukari. The witch would need some space to do anything useful so that guy would hav-

An urgent whisper stopped her thoughts;

"Get out of here Kurumu!"

It took her a moment to understand what Tsukune had meant, it did not take her nearly so long to shake her head firmly. 'I don't care what happens here, I'm not some coward about to fly away from my friends.'

He spoke several more times, trying to convince her out the corner of his mouth. She wasn't sure whether to be touched that he tried or insulted that he didn't think it was futile. Either way she set her stance and let her attention drift from enemy to enemy, finally starting to listen to Moka's clumsy negotiations once again.

They were coming to a messy end.

"...but we haven't broken any rul-!"

"Shut the fuck up already! You think we care! You think you can just run around with your little hero game, reporting on this and that! Well this is enough kids, time to see what the real world does to guys like you!" the speaker's roar was apparently untroubled by his own age, not far from theirs.

Moka stepped back under the weight of fury suddenly directed at her, Tsukune smoothly stepped around and in front of her, covering her against the larger force as Kurumu and Yukari kept eye contact with the three behind them. When another half-dozen stepped out the trees in front and behind them she felt Tsukune relax a little, muttering about a faint presence he hadn't been able to find.

More importantly, if there were this many then they couldn't be much good on their own. It was almost annoying that they'd just sent small fry. As if numbers were going to be enough. Flexing her claws to a foot and half Kurumu kept the rest of her form hidden for now, her voice tinged by a shade of cockiness as she spoke.

"We can still take them on."

A sharp knock of Outer-Moka's hand against Tsukune's wrist drew his attention to her and then on to the Rosario around Moka's neck. A wry smile creasing his troubled face as he reached for it, keeping his eyes on the enemy and speaking as he did so, "Exactly...something isn't ri-"


Almost simultaneously, four thick bracelets of simple design (almost manacle like in appearance) made a loud appearance on their wrists. Kurumu was distracted by the small, sudden weight on her left arm, stiffening as the thought of how it got there overwhelmed any other questions. Tsukune having already acted on that one as he lashed out at empty air.

A bizarre series of blows followed, Tsukune ripping away the Rosario in an offhand motion as he focused on...nothing. Striking at nothing, blocking nothing and then lashing out with a palm strike that sent nothing backwards, a fair distance closer to the larger group of enemies.

It left a furrow in the ground.

The mystery was answered when another black uniformed boy appeared out of thin air before them. His invisibility dropped to reveal a lithe, oily impression. Two more bracelets like the ones clasped on them were fastened to his belt and a far more ornate version was around his arm. A trickle of blood from his forehead and several rising bruises showed how little lack of visibility had done to stave off Tsukune.

But rather then angry or in pain he looked triumphant, every sense Kurumu had was now screaming at her that something was very badly wrong with this situation. People as pummelled as that were not meant to be smiling so gleefully...

Inner-Moka however took no notice of his foreboding confidence. Stepping past Tsukune without a glance at him she spoke with her usual cold tones. "Enough is enough. I will not endure the indignity of being bared from fighting any longer." and then, completely ignoring their enemies, she turned and levelled a cold glare at the only male in their group, "You will release me when a fight approaches, I will not be left aside like an ancestor's blade."

Tsukune himself seemed taken aback pretty badly at her words, though his focus stayed on their enemy he did manage a few shaky nods. This must have satisfied her as Inner-Moka started to turn back to face their opponents. Then -before she could destroy them with her customary lack of ceremony- the invisible boy raised his adorned arm and his lips moved inaudibly.

And all the strength left her body. Kurumu sagged in place, barely managing to stay standing as every drop of her normal energy vanished. Yukari didn't even keep her feet, flopping to the dirt with barely a sound. Tsukune and Moka stayed standing firm and strong, both seemed unaffected, though with a sinking feeling in her chest Kurumu realised that was probably for very different reasons.

The controller of this effect didn't seem too upset by it not taking them down instantly, in fact he looked happy with that result, several other student police members slowly advancing as he spoke. Four coming to stand as close to them as he was.

"You know that as the school's official representatives of justice; we have privileged access to some pretty good stuff." A laugh rose from many of those present at that, his grandstanding gesture to the item on his own wrist riling them to further amusement, "I mean a place like this, it's not surprising that the school would have Youki draining bracelets, just what we need to contain the criminal scum like you, eh? And I happen to be a rare person capable of attuning myself to this control completely."

He gave Tsukune a slightly puzzled look, obviously confused by his lack of reaction to the draining. Kurumu nearly gasped aloud at the horrifying thought of what would happen if they realised just why draining Youki from Tsukune did nothing...Kurumu acted immediately, letting herself fall in his direction, she sighed in relief when he caught her and -with hardly a thought to how wonderful his arms felt around her- whispered frantically at him to fall down already.

Her sprawl atop Tsukune did not go unnoticed, one of them drawing close to lash out at her gut with a savage kick. She was sent several paces away with a grunt, the one responsible leering down at Tsukune and jokingly chastising him for being inappropriate. From her own prone position the succubus could see very well the strain in Tsukune's cloth-hidden muscles as he kept himself from surging up from the ground.

A flicker of movement distracted her gaze and with a sinking feeling Kurumu watched that one eyeing Yukari from earlier stepping up to the downed witch and putting a casual shoe on her neck, the threat clear to everyone other then Inner-Moka, whose back remained carelessly turned. The silver haired vampiress took a smooth step forward, even the confident one gasping aloud at how little the drain seemed to hinder her.

Unfortunately all it took was a finger pointed behind her and Moka ceased her threatening walk. Obviously even she couldn't defeat them all quickly enough to save Yukari while the bracelets were in effect. Despite this and the slow approach of the group standing close enough to them, she remained impassive. Looking unmoved by the five enemies surrounding her.

Kurumu had to admit some admiration for how unyielding she was, looking at them like they were beneath even her disgust. Finally that gaze defeated the composure of the previously invisible one, a fist snapping out to collide with her cheek.

She didn't even blink. In fact it was the attacker who got the worst, the angry boy shaking out his hand with a stream of curses, while Moka had only the slightest redness to mark the blow on her cheek. Even that quickly faded away, leaving her cold expression completely unmoved by the event.

Of course that only made them angrier. Surging forward all five laid into her with every kick, punch and weapon they had handy, metal pipes and boken both seeing use on her proud form. Both being broken with the ferocity of their assault. Yet it did almost nothing at all. They attacked until they were panting with exertion, only a subtle glare from Moka herself keeping Tsukune on the ground.

They barely managed to bruise the vampire, what little they did swiftly healing before their eyes. Her face not even twisting in pain, she remained unmoved and unbent. A sharp glare found the one threatening Yukari and he almost stepped back before he realised how fatal such an action would be. Then the controller grinned.

Stepping back he held up a hand to halt the suddenly smiling group, the dread in Kurumu's gut only deepening at those smiles.

"Well that's enough messing around, me and these guys. Honestly we aren't all that strong. We can't even hit as hard as some humans so I'm pretty glad you can take that so easily. It's gonna make this so much bett-"

At which point his slow withdrawal of simple bottle of water from his jacket was cut short by Tsukune's shout, "Hey you lot, don't insult humans like that, you couldn't beat up a paper bag!" that insult only the first in a stream of mocking -though admittedly half hearted and occasionally broken by a stutter- that did not take long to break through their apparent calm. Kurumu's helplessness felt physically painful to her as she watched all five rush at Tsukune with a final roar of anger.

He reacted lot more to the beating. Though she would bet he was neutralising as many blows as he could without being seen doing so, Tsukune was still a human. It was only going to be so long before they really, really hurt him.

A pained grunt broke the air and the first flash of real, honest terror lit Kurumu's mind. They were hurting her destined one and there was nothing she could do. She felt a flash of anger at Inner-Moka's expression, the other girl seeming angered but not budging an inch. Then a faint sob from Yukari reminded her of why the vampire wasn't moving and every ounce of Kurumu's anger redirected itself at the black clad bullies doing this.

Drawing back from the wheezing Tsukune for a few seconds, they sneered down at him and spat, "You know the best bit? You actually think this is it, that you can take a beating and that'll be it done. We're the student police!" Kick "We do whatever the hell we like!" Kick "And you think we're going to stop at a beating!" Kick "We're going to rip you stupid brats apar-!"

Tsukune relaxed. In the middle of that guy's rant he let a slow breath out and his body relaxed.

The sound of his voice, "Then this is deserved." was followed immediately by the faint clatter of small beads against bare earth.

The beads in question made a very small sound as they struck the ground. The noise was deafening in the silence that had slammed down an instant before it.

A truly massive power saturated, everything...except it wasn't massive, even she had more Youki -far more- then this but...a presence sprung forth from it, refined and elegant and powerful, very powerful. Enough to send many of those standing guard around the clearing to the ground, falling backwards in a moment's terror.

That same kind of dreadful heaviness that accompanied Inner-Moka when she was unsealed and fighting now appeared. Weight choking the voices of all present, power pressing them into place; as though the air itself had been suborned to hold them still. Then it was gone, that momentay flash of some greater power replaced by Tsukune's presence...but far stronger then normal.

Panic made them keep on trying to beat at him, it didn't really matter, even she could tell that much. Brushing against an incoming boot Tsukune smoothly span to his feet. Ignoring the opponent now off balance with a foot suddenly halted mid kick, Tsukune simply put a straight punch into the one standing in front of him. His own movement stopping completely in that blow.

Tsukune stood simply in place. His stance was relaxed and easy and if it were not for the groaning figure that had skipped once on the surface of the nearby pond before crashing into the tree line, he might have seemed non-threatening...except for...something. He was still Tsukune yet he felt a lot more...'real' then normal. The sense that he might vanish in a crowd at any moment was gone and replaced wi-

His head snapped up and his eyes were...

The colour, the shape, none of it had changed. The only tangible difference was the pure, white light that now stabbed out from the centre of them. It wasn't bright, yet it left trails in her vision as he turned to face their opponents. As if this movement had released them from a daze the enemy struggled back to their feet. Pushing through the thick aura to stand one after another, defiant on shaking legs.

Tsukune himself stopped and shook himself for a moment, closing his eyes as he did so. When he opened them the light seemed gone and his presence had dimmed further. Almost as though he was purposefully holding it back. A moment's worry at that drew her attention back to the one threatening Yukari, he was frozen right now but that couldn't last and both Moka and Tsukune were not attacking him or even looking at him, the former seeming intent on the latter.

With a garbled growl of, "Don't make fun of uuuuussss!" the four still surrounding him on all sides attacked, smart enough to stick to simple punches rather then risk hitting each other with anything more dramatic. It did them little good.

There was a blur of motion, one far surpassing her ability to follow.

Had another been watching, one with the speed of eye to follow what exactly was going on. They would have seen Tsukune swivel left until the fastest blows were to his right and in front of him. Continuing that turn he pivoted on the ball of his left foot, his hands crossing and diverting the front blow down and off to the side while his other leg rose, the knee deflecting the other punch fast enough to threaten him in that moment. A slight circling at his wrists and knee bringing the force of these attacks away from their sources and into his own body, now pointed back at each enemy.

Even at these speeds, following the kick and chop that he launched with his blocking limbs would have been hard. Both enemies disabled by blows he normally could not hope to deal out. Bouncing from the kick he went left, one arm knocking another punch wide while his other dealt a massive uppercut.

Now twisting into the air behind his own blow Tsukune sent another kick into that enemy's jaw before kicking away from him to flow around the last punch still moving and drive a casual elbow through the remaining opponent's nose.

To the eyes of everyone watching, other then a -now slightly less dismissive of his strength- vampire, it appeared they had simply thrown themselves back a few dozen feet each. One of them neatly colliding with the student police member atop Yukari. Both boys taken out of commission by the impact.

There was a moment then, a final instant before the mass charge that they could all feel coming. Tsukune looked at them all in that instant, first Yukari with eyes filled with sorrow and guilt, then he smiled at Kurumu, somehow lifting her own guilty fear cleanly away. Finally he gave Inner-Moka a questioning look, neither of them moved by the horde of enemies, the silver haired vampire giving a slight hmph of...amusement?

"They are mere trash, deal with them if you wish."

Tsukune did just that.

He wasn't nearly as fast as Gin, nor were his blows showing anything approaching the kind of easy supremacy that Moka had in strength even when sealed. But even Kurumu could feel a precision in his movements that surpassed the equivalent in Moka completely. Where Moka was overwhelming in her strength, he was untouchable in his skill. A gracefully blurring dance that laid out the last enemy mere moments after he struck the first.

In the aftermath he stood firm and untouched amid the scattered fallen. A smooth breath leaving him as he centred himself. A serene calm all that could be seen in his face, his entire form momentarily at one with the battlefield. Then the moment passed and his normal worry broke those calm waters, already he was rushing by where his beads lay, scooping them up on his way to the fallen controller of these damned bracelets.

His presence eased off as he re-secured the beads one handed, holding the comatose boy with the other and puzzling over how to disable the master control on that one's wrist. Then everyone's attention was drawn to a sudden loud bang. The bracelet on Moka's wrist had just exploded.

Kurumu's jaw dropped. 'She...she...she's actually-!'

"You should have just waited on the ground, did you really think such a pathetic restraint could hold me for long?" her dangerous tone was defused slightly by Tsukune abject shock, any amusement she felt at that expression staying hidden as she took the enemy from him and simply ripped his ornate control item in half.

Surging to her feet Kurumu took a moment to shake off the disorientation of her returning strength. She was therefore just in time to see Inner-Moka draw back an arm to strike at the unconscious boy she held aloft. An arm that never made contact as Tsukune stepped into the way, his own limb raised to block her though she stopped the attack herself. There was no mercy in her tone, "Do not stand in my way."

"I can't let you kill them Moka-san"

Her brow creased in anger and for a long moment Kurumu thought Inner-Moka was going to attack him. Then with a visible force of will she sighed and relaxed, "...you realise that they will report enough to reveal your true nature? Whatever ability you showed, it will be clear you possess no Youki."

Tsukune hesitated a moment, Kurumu's keen gaze catching the tremble in his hands before he fisted them and replied, "I still cannot kill...I will not kill, and I can't stand by and watch someone killing. I'm sorry but if I just let you stain your hands it would be no different from if I had done it myself."

A strange mixture of anger and grudging acceptance coloured Moka's deep tones, "Then you take the consequences into your own hands."

Tsukune's voice was firmer then his nervous posture might have suggested, a hand rising to scratch his neck as he said, "I'm sorry, this is the path I have to...guess I might be wasting your effort before n-"

"You should not presume that I care for your fate." Her words fell into the air with all the force of a blow, striking everyone else present silent, in that silence she made herself clear, "You may dig your grave by your own hands, but do not drag my other side into it with you."

With no further words then those Inner-Moka took the Rosario from him and smoothly returned it to her throat. As ever her body went limp as soon as Outer-Moka's colouration returned. Falling smoothly into Tsukune's arms and for once Kurumu was far too preoccupied to feel the usual surge of jealousy.

She and Yukari each could only stand in silence, searching for words that neither of them could find. The sheer gravity of what this would mean slowly sunk into her thoughts. Realisation dawning that this could be the end.

Tsukune's voice swept through the clearing before panic could really set in; "We should hurry and leave, we still have afternoon classes. I need to make that phone call too."

Turning back to their original path, he set off without waiting for them to follow. The stiffness in his movements going unnoticed. All she could see was his back, the fight had settled his clothing unusually tight about his form, his muscled form easily visible for once.

And that strong back just kept walking away.

Aono Kasumi had long ago discovered that there simply weren't enough hours in a day.

Even before she had found herself a housewife and actual wife, it had bothered her a great deal that, what with things like sleep and meals and bathing -necessary and enjoyable though they were- taking up precious hour after hour, her time for the important things in life was never nearly enough.

Of course where she had differed from the average young girl had been that her definition of the important things in life was training, fighting, training, meeting new people and doing interesting things, being there for her family and friends, collecting pieces (literally; a fragment of stone from the peak of Everest wasn't even the prize of her collection) of incredible places and training. Kasumi had never been a normal young girl and she had never ceased to find the joy in her unusual existence.

Still, time was a problem, especially when it came to training. Like all of her kind Kasumi's ambitions knew no real limit, she would seek to grow stronger until the moment she ceased to exist, it was simply what she was. However even for one who walked the path of more than a human, Kasumi's determination was extreme.

The Rashoten Style Martial Arts of her family had long since lost their one time fame. Many branches of the Art having been cut down as the self sacrifice that was their nature defeated those that superior enemies did not. By the time her birth had come, Rashoten Style was a proud blip on the radar of the world. Thus had been born the flames of her -slightly unhealthy- determination to resurrect it by her own fists, her older sister's frequent counselling to be more careful had utterly failed to dim those flames.

Which brought her back to time, because resurrecting a style with your own fists meant being really, really, really strong and that much training was hard to fit around chores and cooking and basic hygiene. A number of genius plans* had been devised by the young girl to deal with this obvious flaw, but they had all failed, often for reasons that escaped Kasumi even all these years later.

However eventually she had hit on the idea of training while asleep, and while it was still pretty hard to do on her own -though it worked brilliantly when many years later she applied it to those she trained herself- even now, back then it had in turn led her to an epiphany.

After enough sleepless and fruitless nights that she was no longer certain of the date, or time, or whether it was day or night. Kasumi had spent almost an hour trying and failing to scrub the dojo floor with a brush that she had been certain was made of lead. Finally her body had reached its limits and she had crashed into a white wall of exhaustion. Her limbs going from numb and slow to entirely limp as her small frame had crumpled.

* Training while asleep was what she hit on after her genius plan to just extend the day to thirty six hours hit a snag. Which had been especially disheartening because it had taken her weeks of spare time to modify all the clocks and figure out a new calendar.

Her father and older sister had been cradling her between the two of them when she finally awoke. Their faces, thick with worry, had shown relief for all of an instant. Then the inspiration in her features had registered and the worry had returned along with a hefty doss of exasperation from those who best knew what inspiration on her features usually meant.

Her sister had barely even started berating her about worrying them and training more responsibly when their father had grinned sinisterly and dragged poor, protesting Kasumi off for a long and fiendishly complex lecture on human anatomy focusing on the nerve network affecting the heart. His thinly veiled intent being to wash whatever she had thought of away with a torrent of facts.

Fortunately (for Kasumi, less so for her father's peace of mind) she'd already covered that set of ancient scrolls and newer textbooks on one of her many sleepless nights. She knew that as boring as they were, that knowledge was also required for her to master Rashoten Style even if she would only use it to know where to aim. It certainly paid off then as her hard work had freed her to focus on her idea, letting the seed of inspiration grow and sprout.

In that long hard attempt at scrubbing she had often thought of all the ways in which everyday acts were made harder by their training, shopping while laid down with weights for instance, but still ultimately got in the way of it. However the difficulty of moving the brush had made her think, what if she was to turn the chore itself into a form of conditioning training?

The idea had only been refined by years of learning her style's most secret methods of training and developing the human body, her single minded focus absorbing her ancestors wisdom like a sponge and striving to understand and surpass it. All of which was why Aono Kasumi was currently cooking dinner with a set of implements so dense as to require massive reinforcement to the kitchen and it's foundations.

She idly swirled the contents of a pan entirely covered in seals and symbols that let it be far heavier then even it's exotic materials should have physically allowed, heavy enough to require quite a lot of machinery to move without her aid. The curry was coming along nicely, now she just had to finish the side dishes and fry the rice with some eggs and a green onion or two. She was sure that it would be just what Koji-kun needed after a hard days work.

'Ah no. I should think of him as "Danna"(1) after all we are m-m-married now.'

That line of thought was a regular occurrence in her mind when her husband entered it and had been ever since they were married, considerably more then a decade ago. A groan of pain from the kitchen table behind her came at just the right time to remind her that sighing in love would not project the right image to her students. Well...prospective students...

Even if they would never be able to become capable of using their Ki and surpassing humanity without lifelong training, her style still freely accepted students among normal humans too old to be trained as Disciples under a Master. It was her sign that hung above their street door...even if she was a little short of students right now.

A glance over her shoulder took in the half dozen young boys slumped around her kitchen table, their range of piercings, bleached and dyed hairs and lack of neat uniforms declared them to be delinquents. A range of bruises, minor cuts and scrapes and various cradled ice packs were the result of their bad behaviour when she had met them outside her local convenience store a short while ago.

However with a little gentle guidance they had become much more well behaved and now she was sure that a few of them would be inspired by her strength and wish to learn and improve their lives and become students at her dojo. At the very least she would ensure they learnt some better manners. None of them had addressed her as Ane-san(2) even once, which was just plain rude.

She laid out the vegetables she would need to cut to finish the side dishes then got on with frying several eggs in a wok, adding the rice she stirred it with one hand while reaching towards the chopping board with the other, knife conspicuously not present. Then a flash of instinct had her smiling even as she laid down her stirring implement and casually flipped her wok end over end, high into the air.

She crossed the room and was back in a movement too fast for the increasingly terrified delinquents to even perceive, now grasping a phone that had just begun to ring she put it to her ear and answered, her demure "Moshi moshi?" voiced as she turned away from the cooker, then turned back just in time to absently grab the falling wok left handed and catch the stray contents with it. Her focus firmly on the voice at the other end of the line, her beloved son.

"Hello Kaa-san. How are you?"

Rather then answer immediately, Kasumi focused on tucking the phone beneath her chin and continuing her cooking, listening to what she could hear of her son over the phone, breathing slightly disturbed, an edge of tension in his tone and too much shifting to be holding a good stance...which wasn't like him when he was on the phone, normally he was too polite to fidget when they spoke, regardless of if he was physically before her.

'He's worried about something...'


Kasumi started a little at her own distraction, "Hai, hai! Sorry, I'm cooking and I had to take this pan off the heat." Her transparent lie would tell her more by his respon-

"Ah, sorry to bother you. I just wanted to check in and..."

Now she was starting to become worried, Tsukune was perfectly capable of seeing through that, which meant he was distracted by something. Shifting to hold the phone in one hand she started cutting the vegetables with her other (her hand -two fingers extended- weaving lazily back and forth over the chopping board. For a fraction of a moment each pass, her hand vanished with speed and a ripple of air disturbed her clothes, though the vegetables seemed untouched) quietly listening to him stumble over his words, obviously unsure of what to say.

Eventually he resorted to thanking her for the allowance they had sent over to him, which he had already done the last time he called and she decided that the subtle approach had yet again proved to be useless. She smoothly interrupted him, "Are you in trouble Tsukune?"

"No, everything is fine here, I'm doing well." He said, voice steady, breathing suddenly fine, every sign she could reliably sense through a phone said he was being honest. Only the shift from a moment ago telling her that he had lied. Tsukune had lied.

Her cutting hand jerked with her shock at that, the long slice that appeared in the counter went ignored...he had actually tried to lie to her, not just to show he didn't wish to tell her something, but as a genuine attempt at hiding the truth from her. Tsukune would never lie to her unless something serious was occurring and every fibre of her screamed to drop the phone and move. She fought back the protective urge to run to him and hid her own worry in turn, it would not help him and she had no right to intervene unless he asked it of her. And even then she knew that interfering in your disciple's fights was...

Another, more responsible, voice piped up in the back of her mind that she could hardly go sprinting through the countryside even if it was needed. Such a large movement was sure to become known to those like her but nothing alike. To those of the Satsujinken(3) that she and others opposed and perhaps even to Yami(4) itself...the result of such a sudden, threatening action...she couldn't risk the bloodshed that might lead to, not even if she desperately wanted to. What's more that was not a fight that she could bring to either Tsukune or Koji-kun, Ao no Tsuki was neither truly of the Satsujinken nor the Katsujinken and thus not involved in that conflict...

She broke out from her useless thoughts and spoke so brightly that even those in the room with her wouldn't sense her turmoil, "Really? Well as long as you're doing well then it's all right."

"I'll try to keep healthy. How is Kyouko-nee doing?"

"Oh she's doing well, they let her skip another year so she's getting close to officially qualifying as a doctor."

"That's good to hear, I know she wants to reopen grandfather's clinic as soon as she can." Unsaid were the reasons why it had been closed in the first place. While she maintained the building faithfully, Kasumi had been totally unable to maintain the clinic itself. Without her sister she simply couldn't do any of it right, even if she managed to get through a full acupuncture technique or bone setting massage without accidentally hurting someone her patients would always end up running away afterwards and seldom coming back.

"Well you have to have the right documents these days even if you already know everything you need to, it's okay though. She's having a lot of fun where she is." Kasumi was more then happy to tell her son all she had heard of her successor's antics in the city she had moved to. Mentioning that she had met the successor to the Furinji Style she tried teasing him with the girl's contact details only for her son to surprise her again with his disinterest.

With the sheer determination that had kept her going through artillery and pregnancy alike Kasumi pushed on through the small talk, slowly getting her son to open up a little. The topic shifted closer to the school newspaper he was so enthusiastic about, something she normally teased him for, the workload was definitely a change from his middle school membership of the 'Going Home' Club. Then fate swept her legs and the front gate opened.

It wasn't hard to hear the gate opening and closing, its weight ensured that. Her prospective students huddled closer to the table at the sound and if they could hear it then her son could too. Which meant any hope of getting him to open up and ask for her help in some way was gone. She fought back the anger and frustration, 'Koji-kun couldn't have known, it's just...not good.' A casual display of her incredible bodily control had her calming her every fibre with a single, slow breath.

'We'll talk about this later, Koji-kun. I can't let you go running off either after all.'

Her son's murmurs showed no sign of becoming actual speech while the familiar sounds of her husband's arrival grew steadily louder, though she purposefully refrained from sensing him properly yet. Something in her gut curled in pain at what was coming next. Though just like always it would remain unsaid between father and son.

Regardless of her worries, when Kasumi saw her husband's shape enter the room she found a smile lighting her face. She barely noticed the delinquents who trembled in their seats under the vast shadow he cast over them, all her focus was on the smile blossoming across her beloved face in light of her own. He filled her senses like a beacon in that moment, his heartbeat, his breathing, the smallest details of him were hers again. She barely remembered the phone and the cooking in time to refrain from a headlong dive towards him.

She blushed deeply and whirled back to the stove in perfect time with him turning to place his briefcase on the table and bury his equally red face in it's contents. A bemused sigh reminded Kasumi of her son while a shift of chair on floor drew Aono Koji's attention to the 'students'.

They were all looking at his feet. It was a normal response though, equal parts intimidation and vague feeling that he should be much louder and more lumbering. That impression only got more contradictory as the gaze moved up. His legs were loosely placed and balanced and strained the fabric of his trousers like tree trunks in leg warmers. He only got wider at the torso, then came a shirt and loosened tie that looked both tired and ruffled, like his other clothes it was of a reasonable quality and unusually sturdy. It also looked about as sturdy as tissue paper next to the person wearing it.

From there the eyes would dart about loosely held shoulders that could easily seat a normal man on either side, seldom daring to descend his arms to find them held relaxed and calm at his sides. All this controlled power was topped off by a surprisingly kind face and almost neat, wind-tousled, dark hair. His features were strong and remained open and cheerful despite several scars reshaping and adorning them. However this somewhat comforting end to the man was missed by the delinquents, the last of them having fainted somewhere about chest height.

Koji gave an understanding look to his wife's latest attempt, wisely not saying anything about any previous students. Shrugging it of with characteristic ease of mind, he walked closer to her and gestured lightly to the phone. Kasumi was careful not to let any of her displeasure surface when a moment later he caught the familiar breathing and his face went still.

Given the control both of them had of their bodies, the slight upwards twitch of her husband's hand spoke volumes, his face remained stony though he knew she could read the earnest sorrow deep in his eyes. The tension only rose when Tsukune spoke again, "And...T-...Otou-san. How is...ano..."

"Your father just got home, would you like to talk?"

"...I...not yet..."

That Koji's face didn't fall when she shook her head was all the proof she needed that he could also hide his true feelings when he cared to. Then again it was nothing new. When Tsukune's schooling had reduced their contact to phone calls, what frail progress they had made had crashed down around them. She understood why Tsukune still wouldn't speak to his father if given a choice, she understood why the opportunity of distance had been jumped on as an excuse.

Her husband smiled brightly and excused himself to change into training clothes, the flimsy excuses all piling up like deep snow, covering over the pain none of them would speak aloud. Yet no matter how she searched Kasumi could find no path other then to wait and hope. What had happened, no matter how much it hurt, '...it was no one's fault.'

Perhaps sensing this very thought Tsukune spoke once again, sounding uncomfortable. Even she could see when someone was this eager to end a conversation and despite her annoyance at the gap between a father and his son, Kasumi couldn't let this call end like that. Her instincts told her this could be truly important and they had steered her through far too much to ignore them now.

"You took your beads off."

It wasn't a question. Well Kasumi much preferred to just be direct about things, this would be quicker if nothing else. Fortunately Tsukune didn't even try to lie about it, "Less then a minute, I'm feeling pretty sore but I can still move okay." Even if he made no mention of what had prompted such a dangerous action.

Well, if he was ready to face this then she would have faith in her child. Releasing her worry Aono Kasumi smiled and said, "Well that should fade soon enough, that much should only tire you out until night if you've kept your training up, but make sure not to use it again for a few days."

"Ah, okay I...I should-"



She paused a long moment, stirring at food absently as she let her anxiety surge through her, then with a deep breath and a rush of determination she crushed it. When she spoke her voice was fierce and kind and completely without doubt. "You will not shame us Tsukune, and you will not shame yourself. Fight well."


Her eyes went wide as her words caught up with her, "With school work I mean! Fight with all your power and do well! And remember to watch and before you strike, uh..." She floundered for something she could claim to have been advising him on that wouldn't destroy the illusion that she was unaware of his predicament. "With sports!"

"I will, I should go now. Say hello to everyone for me...Otou-san too."

Then a quiet click and a droning tone showed he had hung up, Kasumi doing the same with her handset and casually tossing it across the room onto its charging cradle. Then -carefully ignoring the happy clatter that had revealed Koji's eavesdropping with that last line- she got back to cooking, flipping the wok's contents into the air with a swirl of the wrist.

She took the pan through a blurringly fast pattern then caught the chopping board with the lip and flipped it into the sink. The diced vegetables flying smoothly into the various places they were needed, a fair chunk mixing into the rising cloud recently thrown from her wok. Catching that cloud back into the pan she continued her cooking, the sounds of stirring students rising from the table behind her.

'Tsukune will be okay, I'm sure of it...now to focus on getting some more names on the Dojo wall.'

Most of the young men (or so they thought of themselves as) at Aono Kasumi's table were already convinced they had died and gone to some particularly fiendish realm of penance. When they came out of their sudden naps to find the demon housewife was still standing nearby that number came to include all but the legendary duo that claimed leadership of their gang.

A deep black aura built in the air behind their captor. Some rubbed their eyes as if that would dispel it, it was futile. Smiling without a trace of cruelty she nodded her head and said half to herself, "Well, I can see you all want to stay for dinner. We'll get some fighting spirit back into you and then you can all come through to the small Dojo."

By the time they next felt slumber, 'the legendary duo' would be debating whether this was punishment for stealing, a shared coma dream or just spiritual guidance to stop smoking.

Tsukune spent several minutes staring at the phone after he had put it down.

Then he turned and left the dormitory lobby. He had to get his things together for afternoon classes after all.

Kuyou of the Youkai Academy Public Safety Commision rather liked to think of himself as a patient man. He certainly felt like one most of the time, there was always something getting on his nerves and really he was very good at holding back the anger. People should be more grateful about that, no one seemed to understand how much effort it took.

That worthless waste of breath Komiya Saizou had been particularly ungrateful. Which he had thought -while holding the wretching, shaking monstrel by one ankle at arm's length- particularly galling given the circumstances they had met under.

The younger male had barely been out on his first break from suspension for an hour when he had attempted to extort a group of first years within sight of the Safety Commision's headquarters! The arrogance he had shown when brought down to Kuyou's 'office' had been almost impressive. It hadn't taken much to break the fa├žade but that he had held it at all was enough to take the edge off that ever present fury.

Paying no mind to the rising smell of burnt flesh from where he held Saizou aloft, Kuyou had begun to wander back through his memories, in search of that elusive point when he hadn't been so damn angry. Or tried to, the squirming made it a little difficult to focus.

Eventually he had given up on it altogether and returned his attentions to Saizou, tossing him across the room he was ready to simply put him in the cells and forget about him for a while when he started to babble about...well a lot of things really. It didn't take very long to realise that he was trying to inform his way out of trouble. Which made him suddenly much more interesting considering that he was a monstrel and a delinquent, exactly the kind of informant-ready moron that they had been searching for since before the school year even began.

However it had quickly emerged that he knew absolutely nothing about Anti Thesis, which wasn't surprising given the bizarre intelligence of that group. 'I was foolish to think they would trust such trash with anything.' Kuyou was ready to call for him to be dragged away when something he said triggered a surge of alertness in whatever small part of his mind was listening.

"Repeat that!"

"Uh...I was nearly killed when that bitch kic-?"

His words dissolved into screaming beneath a wave of fire, when it receded he was left with yet another set of fading burns. Now silent he just stared as Kuyou repeated his instructions for the slow of thinking. "Repeat what you said about the one you fought first."

"H-he was weak. He couldn't do anything to me so he got that bitch to save him. I-I mean he didn't even take his real form."

'...I see.'

Of course it was a truth well seen in the natural transformation of his kind (their many forms a natural consequence of being a monster so close to a spirit) that as a fire burns hotter and hotter it will become smaller and ever more defined. His voice was not angry, it was as cold as any ice, "Take him to the cells."

A whisper of air answered him and so caught up in his thoughts was he that he didn't even feel the usual surge of disgust for that one. A few moments passed and he took one of the members who came in for Saizou to one side. His orders were short and to the point, disguising his need for more information as the expected crackdown on that damn 'Scrap-paper Club'. If he was right then the group he had sent would certainly confirm it nicely, if not then...well he understood the strength of that interfering group well enough to doubt that outcome. Perhaps that was why he sent that particular set of his underlings...

When they returned (unsurprisingly broken and defeated) his distaste for many of them had been forgotten entirely in favour of a curious blend of triumph and fury. The memory of that long ago time he had been calm didn't seem so far away now, it seemed just out of reach and Kuyou knew exactly how to grab for it. Time to really follow his mission at this school.

"Once classes begin again, retrieve Aono Tsukune from his work and bring him here."

He let the air convey his orders once again, quickly moving to get things ready now. It had to be right for this, he'd even take the trouble to evict Fuinji from this place. Everything would be just as it should be. His distraction went wisely uncommented on by the members who arrived to be given the specifics of his orders.

Eventually though the time came for him to dispatch them and he could safely reveal their mission without worrying about what the fools would do;

"He is charged with being a human in this place that no human may be. Bring him to me."

'He is a fool, risking his life for a mere code...honourable but foolish.'

Outer-Moka did not say that she could sense a fraction, a tiniest fraction, of grudging respect for the boy that had stood his ground against her. She also did not say that even through all the barriers between them she could feel more than a sliver of relief when the almost killings were mentioned. She understood Inner-Moka quite well even after just a few months together, she understood that those feelings meant little compared to what the colder girl saw as necessary.

She also understood the total lack of hesitation when Inner-Moka had proclaimed her indifference.

Though none of that understanding really meant much, not when it would only make Ura-chan even more taciturn. Not when Tsukune-san was in this kind of danger. Despite which he was just sitting there, taking notes as Nekonome-sensei lectured in her shockingly accent-less English. Any usual reflection at her homeroom teacher's contrasting nature went unthought this time. A similar chill in demeanour practically radiated from Kurumu's seat a little way behind her.

Moka wanted little more then to grab Tsukune and start running. To get him out of here because he was in terrible danger and he seemed much more concerned with noting the proper tenses of 'talk'. She had tried to explain it to him again when he arrived for class, tried to tell him how wide the range of response to his nature could be, and how insane it was to trust a group like the Safety Commission would stick to the calmer responses.

He'd just said that it was fine and that he had a plan, but of course he wouldn't tell her what that plan actually was. Or even what she should do, other then to practically demand that she not do anything to try and help him. It almost felt like a betrayal for him to ask such of her. How did he think she felt abou-

'I'm being kind of self-centred about this, aren't I Ura-chan?'

'Hardly. You are right to be angered that he would try and make a choice for you.'

'For us.' She didn't retreat from the twinge of anger at that contradictory thought. 'You want to help him as well don't y-'

'I want for you not to be hurt by this. And I fear that it is not possible.'

Outer-Moka stopped her questioning at that pessimistic conclusion, she didn't want to think about it and obviously her Inner self didn't want to talk about it. Letting out her frustration in a frantic burst of note-taking she couldn't help but keep glancing over to her friend. Which was the only reason she caught the flash of terror in his eyes when a sharp knock at the door interrupted the teacher.

Looking away from the book she was reading from, Nekonome-sensei blinked slowly as though she was stirring from sleep rather then a lecture. Gesturing with her chalk she called for the door to be opened and frowned a little when a small tide of black came through it. The colour resolved into a half dozen students of varying gender and size, all wearing the uniform of the Safety Commission.

They wasted absolutely no time at all.

Two of them strode down the aisles between desks and stopped beside Tsukune's. Neither they nor Moka noticed the trembling students all around, the pink-haired girl was far too focused on the way they were between her and her friend. It felt final and cruel and only a desperate look from Tsukune between them kept her from jumping up and hitting one of them.

"Aono Tsukune." It wasn't a question but Tsukune answered it anyway, quietly placing his pencil down and his work to the side of his desk.

"Yes, that's me."

"You've been found to be a human. Come with us."

The blunt pronouncement stilled the class, a wave of mutters surging around them and the smirks of the black uniforms making clear their intentions of alienating their prey. Already confusion and hostility was in the air, the sudden breech of this sanctuary striking at every monsters' instincts. Tsukune however seemed almost unmoved, other then a widening of his eyes that Moka hoped was convincing.

"Wha-what are you talking about! That's ridiculous."

"Then transform, we'll give our permission." The words from one of those still at the door seemed to kill any chance Tsukune's bluff had, then a forgotten voice spoke up.

"That's no good nyah. You can't transform in front of a teacher." With a genuinely confused expression, Nekonome-sensei didn't seem to even notice the sudden gaze of everyone in the room on her, "I don't remember the Safety Commission having permission to break those kinds of rules nyah?"

Moka was a little confused at how most of the black uniforms stiffened at that. She almost thought she could smell...fear? One at least seemed very much unafraid striding towards their teacher he raised an arm to point at her and barked, "We are members of th-!"

The flash of darkness that blew over them had several students almost transforming instinctively. For a tiny moment Nekonome-sensei's eyes cracked open from their usual drowsy squint and the pointing young boy looked like he wanted to flee. For that moment Moka saw a towering form in place of their easy going teacher and she didn't seem nearly so harmless.

Then the moment passed, so abruptly that it felt like it had never happened at all, especially with Nekonome-sensei's normal demeanour re-emerging in a small yawn. But before any of the Safety Commission members could relax from their tension, she spoke in her normal friendly tones, "I know you are in charge of student response to discipline, but I'll have to assign a punishment if you do something bad right before me, nyah."

Scrambling for their lost control of the situation, the two at Tsukune's desk each grabbed a fistful of his blazer and hauled him roughly to his feet, heedless of his chair knocking back into another student's desk. Rather then further the situation here, the largest of those at the door gestured with an angry arm and shouted, "We'll soon find out the truth, you're to be brought to Kuyou-sama. Now come quietly!"

They obviously weren't very happy when he actually did so, moving without any fuss at all, not even responding when one of them tripped him into Moka's desk. It took every fibre of her will to not react, to just stay in her seat and watch quietly. The sad gaze of their teacher said that she too was unhappy with the situation and though she understood it was impossible and unreasonable, Outer-Moka hated her for a moment. Hated her for not stopping this.

The note Tsukune had slipped under her book when he was tripped stayed there until the door was closed and they were gone. Then as chatter swelled and their teacher failed to even try to quell it, she slipped it out, and then balled it up to throw back to Kurumu.

'I have a plan, don't come after me.'

Why did those feel so much like last words?

Not a single one of those in the classroom had noticed a strangled sob from outside the windows amidst all of this. No one had noticed a slight chill that disappeared before the confrontation was over. A few droplets of ice on the ground outside would not be noticed and would melt soon enough in the hot weather.

A branch snapped beneath her leap and Shirayuki Mizore tumbled to the ground. A dozen more scratches from the fall, all of them ignored. She rolled back to her feet and kept running, running from the pain, from the hurt and the lies and the betrayal.

She was always running from betrayals. Or maybe it just felt that way...

The hot drip of blood from a cut that had yet to close made her wonder just how much she was really feeling at all. The thud of dirt beneath her feet brought back her last frantic run through these woods, and she leapt back into the trees to escape far more feeling than she could face. Memories surging up despite that effort.

It had been the same back then, the happiness blinding her to reality. The impact of a truth she could hardly understand at first, then understanding stole her breath and she wanted to vomit and scream and cry because it wasn't fair! It was never fair...

'But what is? That's just what life will be.'

She had been stupid to ever think differently, as she burst from the treeline and started darting along one of her hidden routes up to her room Mizore wondered how many times she'd be stupid before she learned that there was no exception to these rules. She was no more a unique snowflake then any other of her kind, and like all the others she would just be crushed underfoot and left broken and twisted and wrong and- The slam of her door broke her thoughts and in that silence the centre of her despair was clear in her mind.

'Why did he lie to me!' She hurled herself from the door even as the locks hit home, curling on her safe, warm bed to at least have the familiar scent and texture in her misery.

Her mental question echoed, a part of her -the writer, always eager to clarify and expand and draw deeper into mysteries- acknowledged that he had not lied to her, he had simply pretended to be something wonderful and then the veil had been ripped aside. He was a human, just like that boy. He was just like them all, another liar. Another crack in her heart and this one felt far deeper because she had thought she was safe from it.

She had not even allowed him to see her face. Or any other part of her body. It had been one sided. Careful. She had been determined to learn him from afar, to understand before she threw herself into another leap of faith into the abyss that was other people. The fluttering of her heart wasn't even that great, he was just a goo- a great writer...she was just a fan...

And still the betrayal hurt her. She had poured over his words, let them entrance her and spoken with them across pages of ink and smiles. She hadn't even realised how much investment that had been until it all turned to dust. Slipping her favourite book from it's place she flicked through a dozen pages packed with text and wanted to laugh at her own endless naivety.

It wasn't even like it was a surprise once she knew it. It fit perfectly. So many of the oddities made sense now, another part of her -the ninja, patient and analytic and ruthlessly determined- reared up from where she had long ago crushed it down and decried her for missing so many clues. She got too caught up in her target to observe him properly. She was tricked by a boy who didn't even know her, some ninja she could ever have been.

Mizore finally noticed the tears that ran down her face, the cuts from her clumsy escape had healed but these wounds wouldn't stop flowing. She closed her eyes but that didn't help either, salt and snot overcame her senses as sobs shook her curled form. Even like this her face was mostly still and stoic, eventually the tears would stop and she would just have to bury this as well.

Looking at the bound paper and pain in her hand, she knew exactly where to start. Reaching into her bedside cabinet, her hand snaked past a pile of books and several empty pocky boxes to find, 'Damn, not there. Where did I... ?' Shifting position to better grope in the drawer (stubbornly not just getting up from her nest of misery and looking properly) Mizore knocked her scrapbook to the floor and barely held back the urge to grab it. The rough impact with the ground had her flinching an another rush of self-hatred hit her.

Her fingertips met a familiar scrap of tough paper and she drew it and her arm into the light. Reaching down to the book sprawled on the floor Mizore got ready to cut loose another hope. Then she stopped.

The book had fallen to a page talking about the approaching start of sports matches with other Ayashi schools, the usual comically self-depreciating tone was especially pronounced and right in the middle was written a chunk about how Tsukune himself felt rather adrift from the enthusiasm about it, he had gone on to speak of valuing the student's individual commitments and achievements more then whether they won whatever game against whoever...but Mizore had written over much of that in order to circle his words of isolation and scrawl in the margin that he too was alone.

No matter how she looked at his words there, the young Yuki'onna simply couldn't find a deception. She told herself that obviously there had to be one since he had lied about such a thing but, the little things only fit better now. His odd worry about the contact sports and injuries certainly felt less bizarre now. Even as a weak smile twitched at her cheeks she focused on the chunk she had written over and a rare epiphany slapped her in the face.

She had been the one lying, ignoring and omitting to focus on the parts of what he said that she could best relate to. Those parts were still there but...slumping fully to the ground, her knees splayed the crinkle of rough paper in her hand now forgotten, she realised that there was nothing in what she had just learned that reflected badly on him. It didn't really change anything at all. Because what she had learned of him so far had not been what he meant to tell anyone at all and this was just another part of that.

The surest sign of trustworthy information was whether that information was hidden. The incredibly valuable salvaged scroll from which she had read those words was back home safely, she almost wanted to blame that for her not remembering that information in time though she fought back that irresponsible urge to shirk blame. She had messed up and suffered this pain for it, she had failed to remember that he really hadn't lied to her, because he hadn't known he was talking to her.

He hadn't realised that she could hear his words far better then that Big Boobs or the little witch and the bubble head. So it wasn't surprising if he missed a few things here and there. Belatedly she realised that he could probably understand being alone and weak far better then she could, a human here was the epitome of those qualities and-

She was moving before the thought had finished. Who had facilitated this discovery hadn't mattered when it had been a sign of imagined betrayal, now she had gotten over the shock of the discovery the danger he was in nearly stopped her heart. Pausing in tucking a small shuriken into her sleeve Mizore absently wiped her face clear of sorrow and considered something about her heart.

'My heart's fluttering again.'

Aono Tsukune was not like her many failed attempts at finding a husband. Even if he was something so hard to stomach as a human, his gentleness did not change, the writer who had found her interest without anything binding them beforehand was still there. The truth in him that was all her own, a truth there he didn't realise he had put to paper so that she could find it.

He was honest with her before he even knew her. Of course there were things that she didn't know yet. Of course some of them might be hard to deal with yet surely she owed it to him to at least judge what she found as a part of that person. He was not just a human, he was Tsukune.

He was nothing like the others, he was perfect.




He would not be harmed.

Tsukune was really starting to wish he had gone with the plan involving running away. It wouldn't have worked and would probably have made him look like a spy and get into even more trouble but those were long term issues and right now they were much less pressing then the row of carved stakes ('More fence posts really,' said a vindictive little urge) which he rather suspected might be a barrier of some kind.

The way they split to walk in front and behind him and raise an assortment of items as they walk through seems to confirm that idea, then he walks through what feels like a half-inch of treacle or stone floating in the air and the stilled wind confirms it again. That might make his ideas to get out of this a little less workable, but then if all her needed was some token then it wouldn't be too hard for plan B.

Shuffling between his escort Tsukune tried to hold onto hope in plan A, the plan where he used his superhuman capabilities to prove that he couldn't possibly be anything but a monster and claimed the beads kept him from transforming. The plan where he didn't have to fight impossible odds without any help (he'd gotten his friends into enough trouble already) was definitely the one he was hoping for.

Plan B, involved using their assumption that he was human and weak to get free and flee. Which was nice but really he would prefer plan A if only because it didn't sound like an idea Kyouko-nee had come up with right after going bungee jumping with some packing rope.

A sober thought cut through the attempt at distraction and reminded him that he might not see her again in this world, not if he didn't start paying attention. Speaking of which the trees had now revealed a long path of Torii(5) and every step he took along it just felt more and more forbidding. This was not a welcoming place, for all that his guards acted like this was some great joke with cruel smiles, their own worry could be seen in fast steps and nervous glances at the shadows of the forest around them.

Whatever he had to fear in this place it was almost comforting to know they weren't exempt from it either. Well almost. Mainly it just made hi-

He could feel their destination now, and the last of his indisciplined thoughts were locked away. It was only on the edges of his senses but he could already feel darkness and pain.

It had taken him a while to realise just how much more sensitive his own kind seemed to be then monsters. A rare superiority which had certainly helped in the battles so far. Now he let his senses extend out, each of his physical senses sharpening with the calming of his mind. That deeper insight traced across his surroundings as they shifted from winding path to a squat ugly building of stone and wood and no apparent aesthetic at all.

As they entered a functional front hall (no one removed their shoes, not that there was anywhere to put them) Tsukune found one presence after another and another and...'This is not good.'

Suddenly the better senses of Ki-Users as compared to Ayashi didn't seem quite such an advantage, because weak though many were, this place was crawling with Youki signatures, out of which many were battered and caged, but at least a few dozen had the focus of someone right where they intended to be. "I knew the school was big but..." Tsukune trailed off at a glare from one of his guard, aware that his muttering might give away one of the few advantages he had in this place.

Focusing on that hope for surprise, the Martial Artist let the Monsters lead him deeper into their bitter domain.

Gin had not been in class. That wasn't unusual, but on this occasion he had actually come across a good reason to not be in class. Namely several scumbags in pretentious uniforms swaggering their way towards his kouhai. Figuring that there would be other gym classes but he only had one set of obedient workers Gin had stalked the group to Nekonome-sensei's favourite classroom and then sat outside and restrained the urge to beat them senseless for even daring to set foot in what he would always see as the Newspaper Clubroom before anything else.

Then he had heard something unexpected.

Then he had vanished.

Now he sat in a dip between several rooftops, hidden from anything not airborne and above only empty attics, it was a pain in the janitor's ass to clean and had been a frequent hang out for those students who didn't care to work too hard and risk overtaxing their most precious resource, then Haiji had decided it was a good place to train instead of wasting time with Maths and his...and Haiji had been left mostly alone with the space since.

There might have been a few fights first, but nothing major enough for Gin to really remember it well.

While he hated to admit it, it showed how well they knew one another that the usual violent greeting was absent, Haiji was practising his Karate still, but he knew something was wrong. 'Course he'd still make him say it himself, couldn't be mature for once now could the thick-headed lolicon.

Choking a little on the words Gin eventually said, "Looks like the club is in for it again. One of my juniors went and turned out ta be a bit different to what I thought he was...though I guess he was pretty odd the whole time." He did not say anything about humans however, because he knew a lot about Haiji and he knew what subjects weren't his to bring up.

He didn't say anything else, instead he waited for the advice he needed, not sure if he already knew the answer or not. No, he did know it, but it wasn't an easy answer because Gin might not have much interest in humans but he did have an interest in not getting himself buried in a mountain of problems. This was not going to end as just a repeat of last year's fight, was it really worth all of this for someone he barely kn-

"You should stop all this rivalry and bitterness already, focus more on your studies. You don't want to get held back another year right?" No comment was made on the hypocritical nature of that as Haiji went through another smooth kata and let Gin reply.

"Ha! Hell no. Second year's goddamned difficult, I don't wanna do this much work again...though I guess third year will be worse...Anyway, Sun-senpai would kill me if I did that!"

Which was really all the answer he needed. An answer that he'd already had. However Gin would sooner be made into a rug then admit even to himself that he had mainly come here to keep Haiji informed of what was happening...and possibly ask for backup if things got really bad. Really, really bad. Bad enough that he wouldn't be able to help anyway and he'd just get beaten down and give the werewolf one last happy sight in this world.

Then he left. Haiji did not say anything. Gin still heard his words.

'I'm sorry, I can't help you. I swore, when I failed the Newspaper Club last year, I couldn't sully that name with my weakness again...not after failing Senpai like I did. Not after failing our friends like I did.'

The long list of retorts that spelled out that conversation would normally have created an argument and then a brawl and then they'd have left each other alone for a while. Right now Gin didn't have time to point out how stupid and self-centred Haiji was about it all. Blaming himself for everything and trying to be a martyr.

Well he didn't want that bastard's help anyway.

The cages had been a bit of a shock, the battered students within were even more so. For all that they looked rough and violent themselves, then again when he met their eyes that impression often faded. They didn't try to stare him out, just flinch away and return to sitting in the filthy cells.

"Don't worry Kouhai, we won't put in you in there. Those cages are for short term punishment only after all." snickered one of his guards, apparently unaware that Tsukune wasn't even listening to him. The others either laughed or just grunted a few times, then they came to a large and obviously menacing door and that mirth died.

They didn't follow him inside, apparently confident that once he was through the door they no longer needed to guard him. Which didn't bode well. The large, dark space he found himself in boded even worse.

It was with a little surprise that he found a light switch beside the door, flicking it bringing on enough lights to reveal the fullness of the area. Looking like some large underground storage room it was a few dozen paces across and tall ceilinged. Other doors led in and out but all of them were further from the main door then the hefty desk in the centre of the room. A comfortable looking chair behind it seated what he could only assume was the man he was here to see. Kuyou.

'Was he just sitting in the dark waiting for me?'

Tsukune accepted the inevitable and walked towards him, taking in the long blonde hair and aristocratic face. He obviously didn't care about his transformation enough to do something about the pointed ears, though other then that it was a perfect illusion. Traces of youth still remained here and there, but for the most part his face was done with childhood and didn't seem to have enjoyed it very much.

The chair across from him, the chair obviously meant for Tsukune, was not comfortable. It looked more like an instrument of torture then anything else, and it was only after checking it for cuffs that he sat down at all. By now the lack of restraint was starting to put him completely off balance so in a way the bluntness that came next was a relief.

"So you're a human then. Why are you here?" said Kuyou in a voice that seemed entirely too calm for a man Gin had spoken of like a plague. Had Tsukune not seen interrogations several times before he thought he might have even tried to explain himself. As it was he opted for wide-eyed confusion and the hope that-

"You might as well not bother speaking if your acting is that bad. I already have confirmation of what you are Aono-kun, I'm just wondering why you think you are here."

'Plan B, Plan B, Plan B! He still just thinks I'm human, I have the surprise here. I have the surprise.'

Averting the panic that still wouldn't go away, Tsukune opted for some honesty, "I got a flyer for the school and it didn't require an entrance exam. I'm not a very good student." Kuyou's face remained absolutely still, then he spoke again and Tsukune realised with a sinking feeling in his gut that he had probably not even heard what had just been said.

"I already knew you see, because a certain delinquent who is right now sleeping off his stupidity in our accommodations told me all about your meeting with him. Unlike Komiya-kun I am not imbecilic enough to miss such obvious signs."

Shifting in his seat ready to strike in the next fragment of monologue Tsukune stiffened in terror when shackles materialised out of nowhere and bound him firmly to the chair. He had thought to check for Ki focuses and symbols that might do something like that but magic had slipped his panicking mind. Nevertheless Kuyou barely seemed to have noticed and despite the deepening feeling that this was all going very badly indeed, Tsukune kept himself calm and readied to break the restraints and hope that he would still have some time to attack.

Kuyou simply kept talking, "Of course I had to be sure, so I sent a group to take care of you and waited to see what happened when they tried it. I knew that they'd fail but it was the specifics that I was looking for,"

'Oh no.' A shake of one cuffed hand revealed something very worrying indeed.

"You see while I can see that you must think Ayashi very ill informed, the truth is that while these schools respect some elements' in their desire to keep it a secret from their own species, it's still not uncommon knowledge."

Thin rods pressed deeply into his skin everywhere he was restrained. They were precisely placed and well made. Tsukune couldn't feel a fair portion of his body. He certainly couldn't move or channel his energies. Which meant...

"After all, your filthy kind are a major factor in this world. And I am very curious what it is that a human who is not a human is doing sneaking into a school for the creatures that most loathe your kind."

Then without any sign of anger, Kuyou exploded into movement, his desk, papers and all was hurled to the side and a blow like a sledgehammer slammed into Tsukune's gut. The hit resolved into a hand now clenched in his shirt, lifting him chair and all to look into Kuyou's snarling face.

"Whatever you want here! Whatever you were truly sent here for! I will turn you to ash before I let you roam this place as you wish!"

(1)- Danna means husband and is used when talking about your husband to other people, I would assume therefore that it fits like this, though anyone who has a better knowledge of the language should feel free to correct me. Shujin would work too but Danna is more cutesy to my knowledge and hence more appropriate to Kasumi.

(2)- Ane-san is the stereotypical way for a bunch of delinquents to refer to a respected female, for example; that really strong woman who beat them all up and they now follow around faithfully. In case it's unclear, Kasumi is annoyed because this is not happening.

(3)&(4)- Satsujinken(-Killing Fist) and Katsujinken(- Life Saving Fist) are concepts borrowed from the manga History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi and basically amount to ideologies of whether or not killing is okay. Yami(-Darkness) is a big evil group from said manga, in this case mentioned pretty much as a nebulous evil.

The reason they and some other references are present is that the setting of this story is compatible with a slightly modified version of the Kenichi setting on account of I love its portrayal of martial arts and the world it creates. The reason this hasn't been mentioned before is that the story of this story has absolutely nothing to do with it and whether or not you are familiar with Kenichi/care about Kenichi spoilers is irrelevant, hence this is here and not in the crossover section.

The mentions that are there are pretty much purely world building. I am a firm believer in sticking stories into wider worlds then the story itself fully covers and mentioning things that don't actually matter so as to build the setting, it's also a nice way to avert Chekhov's Tropes. Any setting details actually relevant to this story will be explained in story.

Thus all you need to know is what is already clear from the names. That Yami is bad, Killing people is serious business and that the big powerful side characters (i.e. Tsukune's parents) are pretty well occupied. So no OC smash (a phrase I steal shamelessly from Zero-Sennin, who is very awesome and has many fics) in this story, Tsukune is on his own.

(5)- Torii are the large, top and sides, wooden shrine gates that you have almost certainly seen a dozen times and which line the route to the Safety Commission's building. Considering that the actual building is ugly as sin (from what we see of it) I can only assume that it was built on top of something else. Anyway, I just felt that this was a better word then gate since that has very different associations and images for most of us.

Oh look, my very first cliffhanger, aren't I a meanie ;p

Edge of your seats ladies and gents, next chapter things really pick up. In the meantime, why not go try the rather intriguing new fic, 'Who Dares Wins'. It's very good, though I have a very different take on the monster world to that shown in it.

After this point we will be firmly into the area where you lot (or at least those of you kind enough to care that much about this fic of mine) may very well start to figure out things which I haven't told you about yet. I will make it clear now for the sake of avoiding any spoilers for any of you that my absolute policy on guesses about what is going to happen or secret stuff etc etc is just going to be to not respond unless you have explicitly told me that you don't have an issue with spoilers (and even then I probably won't) and just answer other parts of your review/message. So if you guess something my responses will not give away whether you are right because I will simply not respond as a blanket response.

And opinions on the scene where Tsukune was finally seen fighting sans beads against someone other then Gin would be great, I had a lot of trouble writing that scene and would be really glad of any opinions you might have on it.

Also, I notice that the review 'button' has become rather larger and more prominent.

Remember. Even if fanfiction net has forgotten the word subtlety. Verily I shall do no such thing. I will not pester you for your reviews. Every chapter of this story is uploaded because I wished to share it with you all. What could possibly give me the right to hold the story hostage for reviews?

Never will I surrender my pride and review whore. Orbital bombardment could not make me. We should therefore now understand one another.

Promise me that your reviews will not depend on my making a fool of myself in author's notes. Likely using large quantities of hypocritical humour. Eventually such antics would grow dull and tedious. As such I will avoid behaving so childishly. So do please review based on the quality of the story. Even after reading this.