Ban Tsubasa: Midnight Wings

A new series by Werelynx

"Where… am… I?" The boy looked around, scanning the horizon. Though it was strange, the place was not new to him. He had been here before. The boy had seen it in his dreams, a foreign land full of trees and streams and the occasional woodland creature. He guessed that was where he was now- in a dream.

He sat on the soft grass and let his feet dangle in the stream below him. The sun was high, but slightly veiled by a small cloud to prevent it from getting too hot. The boy swirled the water with his foot and smiled. It was nice here. It was then that he saw the first tint of red in the running stream. He pulled his feet up in shock; blood was now running freely through the water, spreading throughout the current and killing whatever flora and fauna was beneath the red.

To his right, trees burst into flames, collapsing into piles of ash and dead leaves. To his left, the sun blacked out, screamed, and died in a massive explosion that shook the ground. A dark red tint lit the sky and blocked out the clouds that had not long ago provided him shade. He cried out at the sight of his ruined and battered mindscape, even now being washed away in flames. A shadow slid across the ground and came to a stop in front of him as a creature devoid of expression melted from the gaping hole. The boy fell on his back and reached a hand out to protect himself from the abomination. Without warning, a blade seemed to grow from the thing's black chest; it looked down and grasped the gleaming metal. The weapon slid back out of its chest in one smooth motion, leaving the creature to evaporate in a silent death.

A girl with a long tail of hair wavered in the air, wiping the edge of her glaive on a white kerchief. She looked at him and shed a tear for his dying world. With a smile, she flew away on what looked to be sleek, flourishing wings. She followed a man wearing the same gear as her in an attack on the now-spawning shadowy figures. The boy watched in wonder as they fought like tigers against increasing odds. He turned to run, but was wrenched in two by a dizzying force that threatened to tear his mind to pieces. In an instant, the entire ravaged world went black.

"Ow!" Tai woke up with a start as he fell out of his bed. He rubbed the lump on the back of his head and kicked the bureau that gave it to him. "What the heck kind of dream was that?" Beginning his morning routine, Tai got ready for the first day of high school.

"Taifu, sweetie, it's time to get up!" He glared at the door.

"It's alright, mom, I'm up." Dear god, I'm fifteen. Does she need to give me the wake up call every morning? Tai pulled his pants on, shoveled down some food, and left the house early to try and escape his mother's goodbyes.

"Taifu, I hope you make a lot of new friends today! And don't come home without at least one girl's phone number-"

"Mom!" Tai turned the block and shielded his face from passing cars.

"Hey, Tai, you got a good seat. Right in the back, behind me. Now you can slip me your homework every day." Tai slapped Itachi in the back.

"In your dreams, 'Chi. It's a good thing I ended up behind you, though- if I were in front, I'd have to spend all my time making sure you weren't copying my work. Now I can just stab you in the back with a pencil whenever you step out of line." His friend grinned.

"Oh, macho now? You see, that's what the ladies like. You make 'em think you're some big, tough guy and they'll flock to you, you'll see. Watch." He turned to the girl sitting next to Tai and smiled. "Hi, my name's Itachi. All my friends call me Chi, though. Means 'blood.'" The girl, now looking vaguely familiar to Tai, gave Itachi a passing glance before throwing her textbook at his face.

"Bleed on that, perv." Itachi cradled his bleeding nose and blubbered out to Tai,

"She likes me, I can tell."

"Good morning, class. My name is Ms. Aburi. I'll be your homeroom teacher for this semester. Now I hope that we can all get along together and help each other out this year, so don't hesitate to-" She paused writing on the board to crumble the chalk in her fingers and scratch a long trail down the board. "YOU! In the back! Stand up right now!" Tai almost screamed as her gaze passed across him. Fortunately, though, it came to rest on the girl sitting in the seat next to him. Tai watched as she stood to her feet and slid her chair in.

"What, teacher?" Ms. Aburi's reading glasses fogged.

"May I ask you what your name is, dear?"

"Onipaku Suzume, sensei."

"And may I also ask what kind of shoes you are wearing?" The girl looked at her feet, thought it through, and answered, "I think they're flip-flops, ma'am."

"Exactly. And are sandals part of the school's allowed dress code?"

"I-"

"NO! They're not! And I simply will not tolerate students out of dress code in this classroom! You will empty all of the wastebaskets on the third floor after school as punishment!" She then pointed at Tai. "And you! Student 16458, Tsubasa Taifu! You will help her!"

"What?! Why do I have to work with this Amazon?"

"Amazon?! I'll make you eat those words, shrimp!" Suzume swung at him in a full roundhouse kick that sent him sprawling on the floor, holding his loosened jaw.

"Some leg you've got there, you maniac! You could've killed me!" She picked her chair up and held it over her head, threatening to smash it on top of him.

"Here, let me do it the right way this time!"

"Do you dare to argue with the sensei?!" Ms. Aburi loomed over her desk, a massive and horrifying figure. The two of them shut up. "Good! That's the kind of school spirit this class needs. Now sit back down, you two." Ms. Aburi pulled a new piece of chalk and a hand towel from her desk. After smoothing over the scratches in the board, she began to write out the rest of the lesson. As Suzume sat, Tai saw her long ponytail swish out from behind her back.

"Oh my god!" Tai leapt up, tripped back over his chair, and landed flat on the floor. Ms. Aburi cringed.

"Taifu, I realize your earnest need to learn exceeds the rest of these students', but you must learn to control your reaction to the pain of undiluted knowledge entering your thick skull. Now sit down!"

"Sorry, ma'am." He slid back into his seat and looked at Suzume again. There was no doubt! She was the girl in his dream; she was the girl with the wings and the polearm.

Finding a tree that was still free of flocking cliques, Tai laid down for a rest before the break period was over. He had closed his eyes for only a moment before he felt someone tap on his foot.

"Tai? Taifu?" He opened his eyes and saw standing above him a very cute, if not stunning, young girl.

"Uh… yeah, that's me." He sat up and leaned against the tree. She sat down beside him and pulled some hair from her eyes.

"You don't remember me, do you? I guess I can't blame you- it's been a few years, hasn't it?" Noting his blank look, she continued, "Natsukin Yuki? Friends in grade school? I sit to your left?"

"Oh, Yuki! Now I remember! Yeah, we used to play games outside and have fun all the time, didn't we? Wow, meeting you here- it's been a while." She nodded. They looked at each other, looked back at the ground, and then looked away. "So, where are you living now? You moved away about four years ago, didn't you?"

"Yes, we moved out to the mountains for a while, but my parents decided to send me back to the city for high school. In fact, I'm living just a few blocks away from here with my aunt and uncle."

"Really? That's great! I'm pretty close to the school, too. We should go and do something one of these days-" It was at this unfortunate moment that the bell rang, interrupting their conversation. Tai frowned; that just crossed the line from unlucky coincidence to evil omen. He helped Yuki up and grabbed his bookbag, but before they could walk, she held a slip of paper out to him.

"Here. It's my cell number. Call me sometime; maybe we can go to a movie or something. It was nice talking with you, Tai. See you in class." She ran back towards the school before he could say anything. He nearly screamed when Itachi swung out of the tree and hung upside-down in front of him.

"Hey, Tai, you're doin' pretty good for your first day with the ladies. Halfway through the day and you've already pocketed a cell number. 'Course, I already have five…" Tai tugged him out of the tree and into the dirt.

"She's a childhood friend, Chi. I haven't seen her for four years. It's not like there's anything between us." He helped Itachi up. "Now lemme see these five numbers you've got." Chi pulled some papers from his pocket and held them up.

"Yep, here they are. Bonafide date numbers. Count 'em- hey!" Tai grabbed them and started to thumb through the papers.

"Hmm… principal's office, attendance office, two vice principals, and a drawing of Ms. Aburi with horns. Have fun." The second bell rang, alerting them to the ominous presence of Ms. Aburi's tardy radar and simultaneously launching them both into a mad dash for the school.

"Alright, I want the two of you to work together on this assignment so you can do it as fast as possible. The janitor will be waiting for you. If I hear that either of you caused trouble, I will paint your lives in misery and woe- even if you transfer. Is that clear?" Suzume and Tai nodded, neither of them wanting to invoke the wrath of the maniacal, voluptuous teacher from beyond.

"Yes, ma'am." Ms. Aburi smiled.

"Good, then. I know you'll do your best. Take care, now!" She picked up her purse and her books, and was gone. As soon as she left the room, Suzume reached for a ruler. Tai cringed, and in an attempt to make peace, held out his hand.

"Let's be friends…"

It was later heard from the janitor that before a refreshed-looking young girl and a bruised and bleeding boy came to take care of the trash, horrible screams and cries for swift death came from the second floor.

"Oh my goodness, did you get into a fight? Here, let me find some bandages." Tai slumped into a kitchen chair as his mom rushed for the ice packs and peroxide.

"Yeah, mom, that's what it was. Fought like ten men. You wouldn't believe it. That guy can pack a punch." And one heck of a kick, too, he thought while rubbing his chin. "You wouldn't believe whose number I got today, though. Do you remember Yuki?" She came back into the kitchen toting a first aid kit and icy hot packs.

"Oh, yes, that cute little girl that you used to be so infatuated with. I thought she moved away, though." He pulled her number from his pocket and showed it to her.

"Well, she's coming here for the rest of her high school education." His mom grabbed it from his hand and checked the number.

"Good! Why, we'll have to get the two of you together this week. I'll arrange everything." She rushed off, leaving him alone in the kitchen to tend his own dire wounds.

It was only moments before Tai was back in bed. Well, I might as well try to sleep off some of the pain. He tossed off his socks and shirt and climbed in, dozing off almost as quickly as he pulled up the covers.