As we trudged back to school, we kept silent, not looking at each other. Embyre had pretty much lost all her cheer after we ran some few miles from the headquarters. It was like she realized what had happened when I rescued her.
And to be honest, I really didn't know what happened.
Finally, after an eternity of silence, Embyre fell back to walk beside me. Our footsteps became in sync and I tried not to notice that, but I did anyway.
"So..." Embyre said without looking at me.
"So..." I replied, doing the same.
"Guess your little secret's out, huh?" Embyre finally looked me in the eyes.
"What secret?" I began to feel panic.
"You're the boy I met a year ago, aren't you?" She narrowed her eyes.
"I don't know what you're talking about." I shifted my gaze.
"If I say your old name right, will you tell me everything?"
I shrugged. "How am I supposed to know anything you're talking about?"
"Because I can sense whether or not someone has a reaction to what I say. I've gained that trait over the years. Anyway, if I say your old name, I'll know whether or not you're lying."
I shrugged again.
I did my best to look calm, but on the inside, I was in a panic.
Embyre stopped, and faced me. I did the same and stared right into her eyes. As soon as her lips moved, my heart started pounding furiously. I had kept my identity a secret for nearly a year from everyone excluding the people who knew me well, like Alphred or Shida. Oh, as well as my uncle and sister.
What Embyre said next nearly made me fall down.
"Your name is Bob Rickely."
I gazed at her for a good long minute. Her expression was still the same, full of determination to know who I really was.
Finally I sighed and shook my head.
"Sorry, but that's not my name. My name is Dante Stunner, nothing more, nothing less."
Embyre narrowed her eyes at me, but by this point, I was recovered enough to hide my emotions with absolute control.
I stood there awkwardly for a few moments, with Embyre staring at my face and me staring straight ahead trying not to make eye contact.
I breathed a sigh of relief when she finally shrugged and walked on. I followed and made a mental note to never have a staring contest with her ever again.
After the awkward conversation back to school, I gradually made small talk to ease the tension between us. Pretty soon, we were talking about normal things like regular teenagers should. Except when certain topics about clothes or celebrities came up, I had to fake knowing what she said.
The red dusty bricks of Classic High soon came into view and we slowly dissolved our conversation.
As we walked up the steps of the front entrance, we glanced at each other and braced ourselves for the aftermath of X Cross's attack. I fully expected to still see students on the ground, or at least recovering.
When we opened the double metal doors of the school, what we saw next was a big surprise indeed.
A roar of applause and happy sounds erupted from the crowd right in front of us.
Bewildered, Embyre and I stood frozen on the spot as we tried to take in the sight that welcomed us back from our journey. Two figures separated themselves from the group and walked over to us.
"Hey man. Welcome back." Jason grinned a huge smile as Shida nodded in appreciation.
"I knew you could do it. Just didn't expect it to be that long.."
I forced a smile and grabbed Jason close enough to whisper into his ears. In a low voice, I asked a simple question.
"What the hell is going on?"
Jason gently pulled himself away from my grasp and grinned even wider.
"Well, since the school was under attack and an evil organization kidnapped the lovely Miss Amas over there, you were the only one who reacted quickly and set off to save her."
Another wave of applause and cheer erupted from the crowd. Looking closer, I also noticed some staff members. They had anxious looks on their faces, but other than that, they didn't seemed to be too worried.
Glancing at the clock, I noticed there was approximately an hour left before school ended. I turned towards Embyre to ask if she was ok, but then a large swarm of students surpassed me and pushed me far away from her. Momentarily stunned, I could do nothing but watch as the thickness of the group slowly grew, and I could no longer see Embyre herself.
A tap on my shoulder made me turn around and I found Jason with a serious look on his face.
"I know all about your past, about how you used to be in X- Cross and all that stuff. I just want to say that I accept you for who you are as well as who you once were."
I stared at Jason in bewilderment. He winked as he added in, "Shida told the whole story to me. It was pretty believable, since you're so much more athletic than all of the guys here combined."
I quickly shot my gaze at Shida, who smiled and gave me a friendly wave. I forced a grin, but I think it turned out more like a scowl. Shida apparently noticed this and came over with an apologetic smile.
"Sorry, but Jason here wouldn't be satisfied with explanation that you were just really strong and brave."
I threw a sideways glance at him, to which Jason replied with a grin. I sighed.
"It's fine. I just wished I was here to help break it to him." I said.
"What? Dude, I don't care that you killed a bunch of people. You probably did it for a good cause, huh?"
I stared at him. For Jason so say that so casually must've meant that he had to have gone through the same thing. That, or he trusted me so much to think that I wouldn't go back to who I once was.
Jason's fading grin grew stronger as he playfully punched my shoulder.
"No worries, bro, I got your back. Your secret is safe with me."
The intercom hissed to life and I tuned out the principal's voice unintentionally, trying to figure out what Jason had said. It seemed too surreal for it to be true, since Jason apparently accept the whole truth about who I once was.
Still pondering, my thoughts were then rudely interrupted by tremendous cheering. I glanced around in shock and found all of the students not just cheering from the announcement, but at me.
I shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably as I waited for their applause to end. Shida sided up next to me and whispered in my ear:
"That's a rare moment. To see you uncomfortable. You look kinda cute."
I blushed red and shut my eyes, clenching my jaws.
"Do you know what they're cheering about?" I asked her through gritted teeth.
"Mhm. They're cheering for you."
My eyes snapped open and looked at Shida.
"Sorry, come again?"
Shida smirked as her green eyes sparkled.
"They're cheering for the hero who saved Miss Amas, duh. That, and the rest of the next hour is free. Supposedly the principal said it was to call home and stuff."
I took a good gaze around at the students and staff and found what Shida said to be true. Smiling faces and roaring applause assaulted my senses and I tried to not to smile with them. Although I should've been doing celebrating, a small part of me felt guilty.
After all, it was me who dragged Embyre into this mess. As long as I was alive, X Cross would hunt me down. And since they knew that Embyre was an important enough person for me to storm their HQ, she would be in danger too.
As I sighed, Shida apparently guessed what I was thinking and whacked me on the shoulder.
"Don't stress too much, Dante. What's over is over, just relax for now. And when the time comes, I promise I'll have your back, no tricks guaranteed." Shida flashed a brilliantly white smile and I had to submit to her pep.
"All right, I'm counting on you from now on." I nodded my head.
30 minutes left of school, and I was laying on the grass in front of Classic High.
Half the students had gone home early, and I was still waiting for my uncle to pick me up. After the students ended their applause, most of them went around the school checking to see if anything was amiss. When they were done, they walked outside to chill out in the warm summer breeze.
I was on the grass next to the front door entrance and was about to close my eyes when a sudden shadow crossed my vision.
Fully alert, I found myself staring into the dark eyes of Embyre Amas.
I promptly closed my eyes.
"What do you want?" I calmly asked.
For a moment there was no reply, but a soft voice entered my ears.
"I just... wanted to thank you properly. For saving me."
I was pretty sure the tips of my ears were burning red, but I gave a shrug, feeling the prickly grass against my back.
"It's all right. If I wasn't going to save you, who would?"
"But you shouldn't have had a reaon to save me. IF you excluded the fact that I was an heiress. So that means you had another reason to save me, didn't you? What was it?"
For a good long while, I stayed silent, concentrating on the wind and the chatter of the other students. I wondered how I would respond to Embyre's question, because even I didn't know the real reason as to why I saved her. I had a gut feeling that even if the Ayudo clan didn't force me to helped her, I still would've gone anyway.
I could sense that Embyre was beginning to grow impatient, so I opened my mouth to speak.
Before I could, another voice triumphed over mine and I got shivers all over my body.
"Hey Dante... what are you doing with that girl over there?"
My eyes snapped open and I sat up rigidly. Embyre fell backwards in surprise as I stared at the lone figure in front of me a few feet away.
Jet black hair that flew just below her shoulders. Piercing dark eyes and a sharp face that saw through everything. A natural slender body that was deceivingly powerful and agile. A black blouse and black skirt matched the person's physique perfectly.
The world's previous strongest junior assassin.
"B- Big Sis?!" I managed to choke out.