A bump on the road shook the bus, jerked Kanade back and forth in her seat. Slowly the girl's blue eyes opened to the sight of the other students, their chatter soundless. She had drowned them out with her headphones. People were annoying. If Mom hadn't convinced (forced) her to attend school today, she'd be in her room listening to music or reading a book or watching anime.

"Honey, you can't lock yourself up in your room all the time, 'kay?" Mom had plastered on the big smile that meant, GET YOUR ASS TO CLASS, MISSY, OR SUFFER UPON MY WRATH.

Mothers. Such wonderful creatures.

Well. Maybe today would be different. Maybe Kanade ought to make a change, speak out more during classes, actually study for tests, not hide in the girls restroom or sit alone during lunch, meet new people, make nice with the other girls during P.E. - oh who the hell was she kidding? She didn't care about all that crap. What she wanted was something exciting.

Something like... blue fire consuming the park? Wait, what. Blue fire. Is consuming the park. Huh. And a kid, a boy, is in it, not burning, from the looks of it. And strange appendages. Are attacking him. Tentacles maybe? Heh, I've seen enough doujinshi to know where this is going.

Kanade observed the students and the bus driver. They didn't notice apparently. The bus passed the park now. The redhead shrugged to herself. Alrighty, then. Either I'm insane - the most logical answer no doubt - or they were invisible to everyone but me. In that case...

She stood up.

The bus driver looked at her through the mirror. "Girl, what are you doing? Sit down."

She shook her head.

The other kiddies began looking at her. Oh Buddha, the stares. So many. She hated them. Something was unsettling about a dozen or so pairs of eyes watching her. Hope my face isn't burning red right now! (It was.)

"Please?" He asked, though it was more of a demand.

She shook her head.

"You, you rarely get on the bus," he said, remembered. "What is it, you want off or somethin'?"

She nodded.

The bus halted at a red light. Perfect. Not caring about how the driver was doing his job terribly, letting a twelve-year-old girl wander off the school bus, Kanade grabbed her Hello Kitty backpack and walked toward the front of the bus. Naturally, everyone stared at her. Her face turned redder than her hair. She picked up her pace.

As she walked down the bus steps, the driver mumbled to himself, "A kid like that ain't got no place in school."

Finally! Someone understands. She couldn't agree more. Wait. He said 'ain't' and 'no' in the same sentence. Double negative - damn it! Kanade jogged toward the park, dodging people and their gazes alike on the pavement, backpack rocking back and forth behind her.

The blue flames were mysteriously absent. The trees and field of green remained untoasted. The giant squid was dead - the giant squid!? Its size rivalled a monster truck and its skin was transparent. Strangely, Kanade thought the creature was cute. Poor squidy, what did it ever do to you, boy!

On top of it, the boy Kanade saw earlier held a blue spear lodged in the head. His blue hair was so shaded it might as well be black, like the silk jacket and pants he wore. A red branch-like pattern decorated his weapon, and the pointed head was black. His purple eyes locked on to her blue ones.

"Don't tell me you can see me," he said.

"I can see you," she spoke plainly.

He sighed. "Did you not hear me, girl?" The boy pulled out the spear. Purple blood covered the black metal. He sprang down in front of Kanade, and pointed the bloody weapon at her each time he spoke. "It would've been great if you had pretended you didn't see me. This makes things more difficult for me." The squid began decomposing into black light before dissipating altogether, as did the blood on the spear.

"You're not from around here, are you?" That was all she managed to say. I have no clue what's going on. Just tell me where I can get a cool weapon like that.

"And as evidenced by your ignorance, strange uniform and head ornaments, you are from around here, peasant."

"Don't call me that." Head ornaments? Is he talking about my headphones? And I am middle-class, jerkass. Yeah, that's what class it's called, right?

"Hmm, stand back," he said, looking up at the sky.

"Huh?" Kanade did so as well, but nothing seemed to be there.

He shrugged, smirked. "Oh, by all means, you don't have to. Stay there and be squashed, yes." He rested the spear on his shoulder, turned around and strolled away. "One less peasant in the universe." He began whistling.

Squashed? Kanade stepped back several times. A monster is going to randomly smash into the grass where I had just been, isn't it?

A mantis smashed into the grass where Kanade had just been. The impact sent dirt flying in all directions. Kanade protected her eyes.

Calllleed it, she thought with a small smile. She knew being an anime otaku would one day pay off in real life.

Even if there were three Kanades standing on her shoulders, the girl still would not match the height of the mantis. Its spiked forelegs were as long as her. The bulbous eyes were crimson red, and the pupils black. They gazed at her. The antennae and mouth twitched. With its tube-like legs, it propelled itself in the air, insect wings spreading out from its abdomen. Its buzzing whooshed in her ears. It was probably going to crush the young girl.

Kanade should have been terrified but one: it looked so awesome! And two: she expected Spear Boy to do something about it.

He did. He jumped into the air, as blue light emitted from his body. It danced around erratically until part of it shot forward and then under the boy's right shoe. He stepped on it, as more light prepared to aid his left shoe. He used them as stepping stones, gaining height quickly. In seconds he caught up to the mantis, spear in hands. A slash followed his next movement, and one of the wings came off. The giant insect began falling.

Crap crap crap, don't crush me! Kanade sprinted forward. The mantis crashed into the ground, meters behind her. Kanade tumbled onto the grass, headphones off her head and in two pieces. Those. Were. My. Favorite. Set. She ignored the dirt smudged on her cheek.

Spear Boy landed beside her. "Stay back. Or die. That option is always available too." The mantis flailed its forelegs, making gashes in the soil, as it struggled to stand up. The remaining wings folded back into the abdomen.

Kanade sat up and stayed back. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're about to burn its ass, right, um... "What's your name Spear Boy?"

"Shuhan. Never again call me Spear Boy."

"Okay. Spear Boy," she whispered.

"I think I'm going to feed you to your friend over there, Peasant Girl."

"My name is Kanade. You owe me a new pair of headphones - and speaking of my friend!" She pointed. The mantis sprang.

Shuhan shot his left arm up in the air. A blue line of light stretched up, forming a rectangle in front of Kanade and himself. The mantis barraged the shield with quick strikes of its forelegs, but it held. For now.

Kanade swore she felt the power of each blow. A small fracture appeared on the rectangle of light. It grew with each hit the shield took. The girl was too shocked to hear Shuhan telling her to move.

"Damn it!" he said. He grabbed Kanade by the back of her sailor collar and dashed off, just as the shield shattered into pieces. Light poured out of Shuhan's body and spread to Kanade's. It felt warm and snug wrapped around her body. She figured it was likely some form of protection.

Her legs dangled in the air like noodles. Shuhan had no problem carrying her, and if her hypothesis was right, it was because he either had superpowers or relied on spiritual energy to go beyond the limits of his physical body strength. Yeah, that was probably it. She had seen stuff like that in various shounen anime and manga, but she didn't ask the boy, since he was busy fleeing with her. That, and she was shy.

She had to ask this, however: "Weren't you responsible for the blue flames I saw earlier?" Kanade felt the wind against her skin when the blue light enveloping her faded.

"Why am I not surprised? I do confess, they were mine." Pride seeped out of his voice.

"Why don't you use them right-"

"It'd be hard to explain to a peasant girl such as yourself-"

"It drained too much of your energy already?"

"Well... yes, basically."

Kanade wished she could see the look on Shuhan's face. Instead she saw ol' Bulbous Eyes catching up to them.

"So, um, in other words, we're going to die now?"

"It is tempting to throw you at him, but..." They were in the middle of the street. Cars zoomed past them. They were moments away from a potential accident.

"A-are you crazy?" she asked him. He let go of her collar. She didn't move a centimeter, as the wind constantly blew strands of hair at her face and cars shot past mere meters away from them. It seemed like none of the drivers noticed the boy and girl or incoming mantis.

"No, I'm just smarter than you." Shuhan grinned.

The driver of the truck sure didn't notice the mantis when they collided.

It sent the insect into the air, and the vehicle came to a deafening stop. The collision left a huge dent.

"What the hell was that!?" the driver asked, bewildered. "Damn ghosts, I thought I threw that spirit board away! I saw nothing, I saw nothing, I saw nothing, I'm dreaming, that's all - oh leave me alone already!" Behind him cars honked. The truck drove away quickly.

Shuhan and Kanade watched the creature land on a rooftop. She couldn't tell if it was dead or stunned.

"That should have injured it long enough for you to escape," Shuhan said.

That answered that. "I'm not leaving." This is exciting! It's like I'm in a shounen anime of my own!

"I'm not advising you to leave, I'm telling you to."

Kanade shook her head.

"Do you want to die?"

Another shake of her head.

"Your head tells me no, the sitting of your ass on the ground here tells me yes."

She decided to speak out. "Has anyone ever told you that you're a smartass?"

"Why, yes, yes indeed." He smiled widely. "In fact, they say there has never been an ass smarter than mine."

I hate you. "Do you really expect me to waltz out of here unscathed?" She stood on the yellow line. A car zoomed past them, and the force of the wind moved her skirt up revealing her favorite Hello Kitty panties. NOOOOOO. Kill me. Kill me NOOOOOW.

Shuhan had averted his eyes.

Did not see that coming, Kanade thought.

"Oh, how indecent of you," Shuhan said. "You're resorting to that to make me help you now?"

But I reeeaaally should've seen that coming. "You idiot!" she screamed, her cheeks fire-red. She stomped on the cement. "I'm twelve, damn it! Twelve! The car did that, not me!"

"Relax." He shrugged. "It's a joke. I am amazed that you actually have emotions though."

"Idiot," Kanade repeated softly. She couldn't remember the last time someone fired her up so much. Not even Mika could do it to that extent.

"What, it's not like I would have accepted your services anyway."

"Why are we still on this topic?" She wanted to facepalm.

"Right. We've wasted time, and I just now remembered that your body has the strength of gelatin." He swept her up effortlessly. "I'll take you across. Afterwards, get lost, Peasant Girl."

She felt a warm sensation in her already reddened cheeks from being so close to the boy. Her chest felt fuzzy. Oh nonono this is not happening!

Shuhan leapt on a moving car, Kanade unable to contain a faint smile while in his arms.