ACE! Route One: Luck is in the Clover Patch

At K University, they have a special way of ranking the students… there are the Kings, or the student council body. The Queens oversee all performing arts activities and sections… the Jacks are the oddball talent group, and the Aces… the Aces are good at EVERYTHING. There are only four in each group; the rest of the students who don't fit into these categories are deemed the 'no face' cards.

My name is Imishima Yukari. I'm nineteen years old and am attending K University as a first year. When I originally applied to this insane University last spring, I had no idea they categorized their students in such an odd way. Because my father runs an auto shop, I was admitted as the Jack of Spades for my extensive knowledge on mechanics, and though I tried to turn the title down, my modestly failed me.

Luckily, the Jacks aren't easily recognized. Unlike the Kings and Queens, we don't organize school-wide events or make important decisions. And the Aces… well, I've never seen them personally, but I've heard they're criminally gorgeous, so they're extremely popular.

As glad as I am that I'm a Jack instead of an Ace, King, or Queen, I made a HUGE mistake this morning. While headed to class, I happen to take a short cut across the parking lot, and I noticed that a teacher's car had broken down. I can't deny people that ask me for help, and I ended up spending twenty minutes working on his car. Unfortunately, just as I was finishing up, one of the students saw me and put two and two together.

Needless to say, I ended up being chased about the campus by about fifty students (and of course, they all HAD to be guys) who wanted my autograph and probably a little more… and that essentially brings me to my present situation.

Chapter One: The Invisible Savior

If I run like this for much longer, I'll collapse of exhaustion! I swear, I'm never going to bother with helping someone fix their car again, never!

I've been told I'm pretty, but the fact that it's been confirmed by almost thirty men in the past ten minutes is just ridiculous! These guys need to give it up, because telling me I'm pretty isn't going to make me slow down, nor is it going to earn them a peek under my clothing, and I'm ninety-nine percent sure that's what they're after.

Why do terrible events like this always happen to involve ME?!

I turn left and head up a large ramp, pausing momentarily as I realize my second mistake of the morning. I'm currently standing on the highest of three fields, the one mainly used for sports and P.E… as this particular field is a fair distance from the actual school building, it's surrounded by fence to make passerby aware that it's private property. The only way on or off the field is the ramp I came up… to be clear, I've just trapped myself.

Making a quick decision, I attempt to loop around and head back the way I came, but my devoted followers (if you can even call them that) have fanned out and cornered me.

They advance, and I step back. Options, options, I need options! … I suppose I could always defend myself with wrenches, if the need arose. Then again, I'm feeling pretty annoyed by this whole ordeal. If one of these guys even says what I'd consider to be the wrong thing, I'll probably pull a tool from my bag and throw it at his head. They do more than fix cars, you know.

"Well, boys, it seems as though we've caught ourselves a stray kitten. Tell me, Jack-chan, why are you so far from your first class~?" The male that steps forward confidently has at least four inches on me, but I won't be intimidated. Okay, this is a critical point and you need to be smart, Yukari. Absolutely, positively DON'T say anything stupid.

"I can have you arrested for attempted assault and get your ass in jail, you know! This is harassment!" I cry bravely before I can stop myself. Internally, I'm currently sobbing. This is it! That comment will be my end! Stupid idiot, why'd you have to go and open your big mouth?! Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Just as the leader of these men is about to reply with something and move towards me again, a voice calls out, throwing me a lifeline and a glimmer of hope. "What are you idiots doing, all crowded around here? Find a dirty magazine or something? What a bunch of kids"

My hope is short-lived, however, when the others turn their greedy eyes from me and begin to laugh. I try to peer over them and see whoever they're laughing at, but I can't manage to. Whoever it is, they're laughing so hard that some of them can barely breathe. Damn my height, I want to see!

"Well, if it isn't green-hair~! Are you going to attempt an attack, Toshi-kun~?" The creepy leader of the impenetrable wall of students around me taunts the unseen stranger with a smirk.

"Well, that all depends. Are you going to force my hand, Ootami-san?" I can practically hear the other male's quirked brow, just by listening to his voice! How can he be so full of himself when he's just been laughed at and mocked? I don't understand what he has that makes him so confident.

"Get him! He's going to interfere!" 'Ootami' calls to his followers. He sounds a little shaken up and gasps as a silhouetted figure easily vaults himself over the men. He lands behind me and pulls me back into a hug, his hand cupping over my eyes.

"T-too close—" I try to say as I feel his warm body pressed against my own, but I'm silenced when the stranger speaks calmly into my ear.

"A lady shouldn't see this, so please, keep your eyes closed for me." Intrigued and entranced by that cool, collected voice, I nod. When he removes his hand from its obstructive position, I close my eyes obediently.

"Good girl." I want to growl out a response to that, but I don't have the time as the fighting begins.

"No! Don't hurt me, please!" and "Beast! He's a green-haired beast!" accompany the sounds of punches, kicks, and shouts of pain, and I realize that not one blow (if any actually DO manage to hit him) causes my savior to cry out.

It falls silent once more, and a single pair of feet recedes from the scene. When I finally dare to open my eyes, the men before me are beaten unconscious, but the stranger that saved me is nowhere to be found. He's simply… disappeared.


I end up having a pretty uneventful day after that. None of the students around me or in my classes seem to know or care about my supposedly 'elite' stature, so I'm only assuming those men from this morning didn't cause as big of a commotion as I thought they had. Still, as my final class of the day ends, I cautiously peer around the corner before daring to move out into the main hall. I don't exactly want to be swarmed or chased.

However, aside from a few lingering students, it's mainly deserted. I can only assume that most everyone who takes day classes has gone home already. That's a relief, at least. It'll be fairly easy to get off the campus and to the train station… though I'm lingering a little, too; it's rather cold outside for only being early autumn.

As I make my way slowly down the hall, my mind can't help but wander to this morning. 'Green-hair' and 'Toshi-kun'. That was what that guy Ootami had called my savior. I have to wonder if any of the other students in my classes know someone matching that description and name. A disappearing savior who can beat fifty men unconscious…

About halfway down the hall (which feels longer than usual, but that's probably due to the fact that I'm dragging my feet), I begin to notice these large, colorful posters cluttering the walls. They're practically between every window and classroom door. I try to tame my curiosity, but I eventually gravitate towards one of them, unable to contain myself.

The top of the poster reads 'MEET THE ACES' in huge, multi-colored characters. Below it is a picture of four… quite gorgeous men. Even in a picture, they all seem to sparkle; they strike poses that show off their 'cool' sides, no doubt.

As I survey the picture, a jumble of characters underneath a mellow-looking boy with green hair captures my attention. "Hashimoto Toshi…" I read aloud softly. "The Ace of Clubs…"

"Well, if it isn't green-hair~! Are you going to attempt an attack, Toshi-kun~?"

It's true that 'Toshi' was the name Ootami called my savior by, but… this seemingly pensive guy couldn't be him, he looks so calm in this picture! I glance down in thought, then back to the poster.

There's only one way to discover if the Ace really was my savior. I have to go to this event and meet him somehow.

Every bone in my body is telling me I shouldn't go, but I don't have a choice. If he is my rescuer, I feel compelled to thank him… and if he isn't, which is unlikely, given the circumstances, maybe he knows who is.

I turn from the poster after writing down the time the event starts on a scrap of paper I find in the pocket of my jeans. I really need to get home and sort things out for myself. If I don't, I won't know what to say to the Ace when the time comes.

Braving the outside, I shove my hands into the pockets of my (thankfully, thick) hoodie and sigh as the chilly wind catches my hair. This cool weather is a good thing; it may trigger dad into being merciful and making Torizosui* for dinner tonight. Good food made by dad always helps me think better, anyway.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hey, everyone, thanks for reading this installment! I'm so glad that you did, and if you could leave a review, I would be most pleased, but it isn't required. Thanks~!

* Oh, by the way, Torizosui is Japanese rice soup with chicken in it. It's a winter dish in Japan that's very common. I've never had it, but I'm actually only missing two ingredients I'd need to make it, both of which are sold at a local store near my house, so it's a very basic, easily accessible dish.