Chapter 2: Little Fish in a Big Pond Part III
Ash woke up strangely more relaxed than he thought was possible. He had honestly expected those tiny twin beds to lack any sense of comfort, but he really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Yet once the alarm went off and he was forced to open his eyes, Ash noted that he wasn’t on the top bunk in his dorm room. Nor was he back in his house. No, he was very clearly in the queen-sized bed he and Lissandra were arguing about earlier. Which could only mean one thing. After kicking that Squad’s butt, Lissandra took him back to their room, and they ended up in the same bed.
Ash nodded at the fairly insane yet somehow close to what actually happened as he turned his head, and instead of it being a girl with black hair sleeping next to him, she had blue hair. You know he always thought Dragonoids were weird but sleeping naked was an entirely different set of weird. Then again, when you had the power to heat up your surroundings, it probably made sleeping in clothes bothersome—Wait a second… Who the hell is she? And why am I in her bed?
“I want all the colors….” The blue-haired girl murmured in her sleep.
“Adorable,” Ash said, finding the girl surprisingly cute, in a little sister way—of course—as judging from her child-like appearance, she had to have been around Scott’s age. And the way she clung to his arm didn’t help with the sisterly image. One of the few things Ash wanted was siblings. It would have made growing up way more fun if he had someone else to deal with his parents' lunacy.
“Yup, that tasted purple….” The girl once again mumbled.
“Yeah, you’d probably fit right in.” Ash chuckled as he patted her head, setting off more alarms in his head than the actual one going off. How is my hand ok?
Ash finally noticed his hand no longer had claw holes in them and that he moved it fine, so fine in fact, that there was no way it could have been broken. But he had definitely shattered it yesterday. Unless he was in a dream but considering he wasn’t running for his life, that wasn’t even close to being possible. How long was I asleep for—
Beep! Beep! Beep!
“And can someone please shut that off?”
“Sure thing, my prince.” The girl crawled across him and pressed snooze on the machine.
“Haha… sorry, didn’t mean to wake you.” Ash scratched his head then realized what she said. “Wait, prince?”
“Yes, that’s what you are.”
Ash reached out and pinched her cheeks. “Are you sure you’re not dreaming?”
“Y-you’re supposed to pinch yourself, not me.”
“Not if I already know I’m not dreaming.”
“I guess so.” She said, rubbing her cheek.
“But you still haven’t explained the whole prince thing.”
“A princess needs a prince, so that’s what you are.” She said, tapping Ash’s nose. “Boop.”
“Boop?” Ash said, not really expecting that.
“It’s the noise of me tapping on your nose.”
“But now it’s my turn to ask you a question: Why are you so calm? I was for sure expecting you to freak out. Or at least have your blood rush or something.”
“Oh my blood is rushing,” Ash muttered, quite glad his lower half was clothed.
Ash cleared his throat. “To answer your question, the weirdest part is that I woke up with fewer injuries than more.”
“Yeah… back home, I tended to wake up in strange situations all the time.”
“Hmmm, I’ve never met a sleepwalker before.”
Ash gave the girl a deadpan look as he remembered how his mother would sometimes kidnap him from his room at night. Or take the liberty to sleep in his bed, and by the time he woke up, he’d be covered in burns. If he wasn’t a heavy sleeper, Ash probably wouldn’t have gotten any sleep at home.
“You’re a sleepwalker, right?”
“Right?” After not getting a response, the girl simply crawled up and ran her hand through Ash's hair. “There. There.”
“Thanks,” Ash said with a laugh.
“Anytime, my prince.”
“You can stop with that. I’m a Human, and my name is Ash.” Ash spoke as if she couldn’t understand him, even going so far as to write the letters in the air. “Ash, Dark—Spitfire. My name is Ash Spitfire.”
The girl’s petite smile widened at Ash’s slight blunder, a blunder he had never made before in his life as he considered himself a Spitfire first and foremost. Yet somehow, he felt comfortable—a little too comfortable—with this little stranger enough to not want to lie to her. Even with something that couldn’t be a lie.
“Ash Spitfire is the name of my prince.” She said the words to herself as if she couldn’t believe it.
Then their eyes met. Her eyes colored like rubies, a red with a dark shade. His eyes colored like amethysts, a purple with a dark shadow. It was what fairytales called a chance encounter, yet she knew it was crafted while he remembered how his last fated encounter ended.
“We should probably get to class before Lizzie blows a fuse.” The ruby-eyed girl said, getting up and ignoring that she was stark naked in front of a boy.
Ash looked on, watching her step away into the closet. There was no sense of lust in Ash’s gaze, just the curiosity of who was she? And why was she so familiar to him? Yet when she tossed him a male uniform along with a towel and rag, that familiarity almost felt natural.
“You reek, and princes shouldn’t smell.” The ruby-eyed girl said, holding her nose with one hand and pointing to the bathroom with the other.
“Sure. Sure. Little Sis.” Ash got up with the clothes in his arm, following the little girl’s command but not before running his hand through her hair. “You better be dressed by the time I’m done.”
“Or what.” She said, crossing her arms and turning away from Ash.
“Or I won’t be your prince,” Ash said, holding in a laugh.
“F-fine.” She said, conceding to the whims of someone much weaker than her. How in Dragon's name did that happen?
Once finished with the shower and all dressed, Ash walked out of the bathroom ready to go. Even though the clothes were a little bit loose on him, he could make it work. By now, Ash had fully realized that he was definitely not in his dorm room and that Lizzie was most likely Lissandra since she was there right before he passed out. Ash doubted Lissandra would just let anyone take him. So his Little Sis must have been trusted to heal him. Then again, Lissandra did almost kill him, so saying Ash trusted his theory was a stretch, but regardless he was ready to roll.
“Wow! So your hair really does naturally look like you fought off a pod of dolphins.” The ruby-eyed girl said, staring at Ash’s spiky hair.
“Who gets into fights with dolphins?”
“I do, quite often actually. Those dastardly demons.”
Ash just stared at the girl as she seemed to be shaking her fists very violently at whatever idea of dangerous dolphins that were in her head. Though at least she looked like a proper student with the black uniform on.
“Oh, but before I go, I never got your name,” Ash said, stopping at the door.
“Ah yes, introductions.” The girl cleared her throat then held her skirt as she did a little curtsey. “My name is Tuvira Moonstar. A Princess of Water. I’m pleased to meet you.”
“A Princess of Water… I’m sorry to hear that.” Ash said, no longer meeting Tuvira’s gaze.
“Why are you sorry, my prince?”
“If you’re a Princess of Water, then you’re also a hostage,” Ash said, holding the door open for her. “So I’m sorry you were placed into that situation.”
“You know you’re the first person to ever tell me sorry,” Tuvira said, walking through the door with a small nod to Ash, who joined her. “Most see it as a natural occurrence. A punishment for Prukis’s betrayal. A well deserved one at that.”
“You know what. You and I may be more alike than you think, Little Sis.”
“More than you think, my prince,” Tuvira said with a sudden stop.
“Why the stop? Oh right, your homeroom must be in a different direction. I guess I’ll be seeing you around—”
“No you blobfish.”
“We both have Mr. Fireheart.”
“Our homeroom teacher? You know the retired general now teacher.”
Ash just shrugged his shoulders. “I’ll be honest, I don’t know his name.”
“He tends to ducktape his subordinates.”
“Oh that guy.”
“Yup, him… but that’s besides the point!” Tuvira stuck her finger in Ash’s direction. “Why does my prince call me his little sister? I’m your princess. You-You goblin shark!”
Tuvira quickly caught up to Ash, and judging by the pouting, Ash knew she was going to try to hit him, so he held out his arms to keep her at bay. Literally at arm’s length, Ash watched as Tuvira tried to hammer him with her tiny fists. To which he couldn’t help but laugh.
“This isn’t funny! And I am not little! I bet I’m older than you, hmph!”
“I doubt it. I’m 16.”
“I’m 16 too.”
Ash dropped down in defeat as he was born in Winter. Though he didn’t care if she was older by a season, he was not going to call her big sis. It would hurt his pride too much.
“He-he-he. I’m guessing your sponge has finally soaked up some water.”
“Th-that doesn’t make any sense, and you know it,” Ash said, watching as Tuvira walked past him and held her hand down to him.
“So what do you say, my prince?”
Ash had a gut feeling that Tuvira was a little monster with how she seemed to enjoy the fact she was above him. Yet that didn’t stop him from taking her hand and stepping up as she clung to his arm.
“Whatever you say, little princess,” Ash said with a sigh.
“Whatever you say, my prince,” Tuvira said, copying Ash.
And that is how Ash and Tuvira came into their homeroom class, where Mr. Fireheart immediately screamed at them for being late, Ash doubly so since it was his second time. Yet after being thoroughly chewed out in front of the class, Ash was allowed to sit down but realized two things. A: his seat in the back was taken, and B: that the classroom was arranged in four groups of five, where he was practically forced to sit with the other members of Squad S.
“Ash, what happened to you last night?” Scott asked, being the only one who showed concern as Lissandra was busy glaring at Tuvira, who was in the group across from them. While Alexis was knocked out with her head on the desk and Baron tried his best to wake her with no success.
“When Lissandra said you’d be returned by morning. It left me with more questions than answers.” Scott said, whose stare effectively said, ‘I want answers.’ Ash couldn’t help but smile as he behaved just how he expected him to.
“Good to know someone cares,” Ash said, taking his seat next to Scott, then muttered quite loudly. “If only the person who almost killed me could do the same.”
“You’re alive, aren’t you?” Lissandra shot back, not even sparing the time to glare at Ash.
“You almost killed him?” Scott said with more question marks floating above his head.
“Yeah, and the rest of Squad T—”
“Squad S, could you shut up and pay attention!” Mr. Fireheart said, who was currently writing up an arithmetic lesson on the board.
As the homeroom teacher of Squads Q, R, S, and T. It was his job to ensure a basic secondary education was given for the first 3 hours of the day. That time was also used to note the progress of each Squad as well as discover any possible issues to which he could provide guidance if he felt like it.
“I know this is gen ed, but without it, you can’t hope to live a life outside of the Guards.”
“Why is everyone looking at me?” Ash muttered as the entire class seemed to stare at his corner of the room. Tuvira, of course, hadn’t removed her eyes from that spot, ignoring Lissandra’s gaze. But the other members of Squad T all had a particular hate in their eyes that Ash felt at his core, yet Tekka was the one who spoke up.
“It’s simple, Halfbreed. You’re the only one who’s destined to not make the cut—”
Ash let out an obnoxious yawn cutting off Tekka. “Didn’t you get knocked on your ass last night by a Halfbreed?”
“That was a cheap shot!”
“How’s your stomach doing?”
“How’s your arm.”
“Just fine thank you,” Ash said, giving Tuvira a thumbs up.
“Anytime, my prince.”
“Prince!” The entire class said, not letting that one slide through.
“Become a teacher, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. It’s the most honorable position for someone of your standing. More like a zookeeper....” Mr. Fireheart sighed as no one was paying attention to his lesson. He had spent all of the winter holiday brushing up on things like math, science, history, and the like in preparation to teach the next generation of Dragon Guards after his retirement. Staying up late at night to prepare a lesson, only for no one to listen as they continued to bicker amongst themselves. “You know what, that’s it. That is it!”
The class went quiet as Mr. Fireheart roared. His white dress shirt burned off due to the sheer heat that rose from his transformation. Long red wings sprouted from his back along with a tail while red scales grew around his skin like armor, making the giant Dragonoid even larger and to top it off, his amber eyes gleamed sharply as he showed off his mastery of four dragon traits. In a blaze of burning passion, every student had their mouths duct-taped shut, and should anyone dare to remove them, they were thrown out of the second-story window. Mr. Fireheart just didn’t care at that point.
“I am your teacher! And you will behave accordingly! Do you understand me!”
“Mmmmm!” The entire class saluted as even Ash didn’t want to be that guy from Squad R that got tossed.
“Now! You will pay attention to my instructions that I have worked hard on! Or by Dragons, I will cleanse you with fire!”
Mr.Fireheart shot a breath of fire straight down the center of the classroom blowing through the aisle, breaking past the fireproof wall and then another classroom’s wall and another continuing until it shot out of the entire building. It was safe to say he had lost his mind, but no one dared to mess around in Mr. Fireheart’s class again as he calmed down, relaxing out of his Draconic state. There he continued to teach without a shirt as not even he had predicted he’d lose control but with chiseled abs like those who needs a shirt?
Once class was over, it was time for their first-hour lunch break before their next set of classes. Though both Squads S and T were told to stay behind longer as they were the cause of Mr. Fireheart showing off the fire in his heart.
“Now I hear there was a fight last night. Tell me what happened? And don’t lie, my eyes can tell.” Mr. Fireheart said as his amber eyes sharpened.
The majority of Squad S had no clue what had happened, so it was news to them when they heard that Ash and Lissandra practically fought off four members of Squad T. But what caught Ash off guard was the fact that Tuvira had shut down all five of them. How strong is my Little Sis?
“Ok, Mr. Spitfire, Mr. Bluefire (Tekka), Ms. Starlight, and Ms. Moonstar front and center. As the instigators of this conflict and for not being able to control your subordinates—”
Mr.Fireheart swung at each of them, where Tuvira and Lissandra took the heavy blow without budging an inch, even as blood dripped down their forehead. Tekka went flying into the wall, and with Ash, Mr.Fireheart decided he was going to stop before hitting him. Seeing as he was a mere Human, a blow from Mr. Fireheart in his Draconic state would kill him. But for some reason, as Mr.Fireheart’s fist came at a blinding speed, Ash moved instinctively to protect himself, blocking the blow with his forearm.
Ash slid back from the impact holding his ground, but his arm became jelly as it limped to his side. His teeth were clenched, keeping him from making a sound, and they all looked at him with mixed feelings. Where on one hand, he had taken the blow a lot better than Tekka did, but on the other hand, they all heard his arm shatter. So why didn’t he scream?
“My prince!” Tuvira was the first to snap out of it as she grabbed hold of Ash's broken arm. “I’ll patch you up in a jiffy.”
There Ash saw Tuvira enter her Draconic state. The way her ruby eyes sharpened along with her teeth was more shocking than seeing her naked. But even more so was how she licked her lips right before biting into his arm with such force he immediately lifted his arm in pain. Yet soon enough, the pain became a tickling sensation making Ash laugh as Tuvira clung to him like piranha.
“You can get off now.”
“Mmm–mmm.” (Don’t wanna). Tuvira mumbled, her teeth still dug into Ash’s fully restored arm.
“What will people think if I’m dragging around my Little Sis by the arm?” Ash said, baiting her.
Tuvira opened her mouth, releasing Ash. “Don’t call me that, you-you goblin shark! I’m your princess.”
“Yeah yeah, whatever you say, little princess,” Ash said, running his hand through her hair, calming Tuvira out of her Draconic state.
After witnessing that, many questions popped into the onlooker’s heads, but the one with the most pressure was Mr. Fireheart’s, as it even overshadowed Lissandra’s hellish heat.
“You may actually be insane?” Mr. Fireheart said, slumping in his chair. “I could have killed you with that punch. I was going to stop, but you blocked into it? How did you even know it was coming? I’m sure you couldn’t have seen it. Are you out of your mind?”
Ash scratched his cheek. “I wouldn’t say that I’m insane. I just saw the look in your eye. It reminded me of the old man’s right before he’d knock the daylights out of me. Eventually, I learned to block it.”
“But you didn’t cry,” Scott said, looking up to Ash with tears in his eyes.
Everyone stared at Scott confused, as he didn’t even get punched.
“Didn’t it hurt?” Scott continued ignoring the looks.
“Of course it did,” Ash said shaking his recently restored arm. “Tekka’s claws weren’t even half as painful.”
“Lies, you screamed out for that,” Tekka said, holding onto a concerned Tinto and Tomsk.
Ash shrugged his shoulders. “That’s not something I can do in front of a girl. Besides, who looks up to someone who can’t take a punch.”
“I can ssso ssstop insssulting Tekka or elssse.” Taniss took his hand out from his pocket as the sparks from his nails turned into a fireball which immediately blew out. “What—”
Mr. Fireheart’s aura alone snuffed out all the heat from Taniss’s flame without even needing to get up from his seat. “Did you not listen to me? Dragoon Academy doesn’t care if you have disputes. Hell, a fistfight or two never broke a soldier. But going into your Draconic state is forbidden. You might lose yourself to your instincts and kill a fellow comrade.”
There was a certain weight to the word comrade that none of them really understood since they didn’t really see each other as comrades. Maybe those who were friends before coming to the school and perhaps the fellow Pyro Dragonoids could stretch the term. But Ash and Tuvira were not their comrades, not even close—
“If you want to have a grudge match, then you have to do it officially in a Squad battle. That way, no one dies. Understood.”
—Yet everyone nodded, accepting that next time, they’ll settle their grudges in a match. However, Ash had a question that’s been weighing on him since yesterday. After witnessing his parents clash, his fight with Lissandra, and how she admitted to attempting to kill the five of them. He wondered what that was, and so as Squad T left, leaving behind Tuvira, Ash questioned Mr. Fireheart.
“You know, you talk about instincts as if we’re animals, but I’ve never heard that word used for Dragonoids.”
“And it all makes sense now,” Baron said, catching everyone by surprise as he hadn’t said a word till now. Partially due to his quiet nature and mostly because Alexis kept bothering him with: Are they done yet? Are they done yet? Can we go now? Questions which were promptly ignored the entire time.
“You grew up away from Dragonoids, didn’t you?” Baron continued.
Ash shook his head to everyone’s surprise. “My parents are both Dragonoids. Mom has aura control, and the old man has his scales. Went to a Human school, though. For obvious reasons.”
“Then that explains why you’re not afraid of us.” Baron’s eyes shifted towards his arms, then clenched his fist. To everyone else, it was seen as just a random glaze over, but to Alexis, it was a sign it was time to go as her stomach roared for her.
“Yo Baron, let’s get out of here. I’m starving.”
“Not now I’m—”
“Let’s go before the line gets loooong.” Alexis grabbed Baron’s arm and practically forced him outside of the room as she waved back to them with her PDA in hand. “Catch up to us when you’re done. I’ll text you.”
And like that, they were gone. Slightly confusing, but knowing Alexis and Baron, it didn’t cause for much concern within Squad S, while Tuvira was more interested in what Ash had to say. Her ears hanging on every word as Mr. Fireheart answered Ash’s question.
“Dragonoids, as you know, are descendants of Humans and Dragons of old.”
“Yeah, I passed history class. The Humans of today are just closer to the Human side than the Dragon side. While the opposite is true for Dragonoids.” Ash sighed. “Doesn’t explain why you consider yourselves animals.”
“Because instincts are not limited to those without reason.” Mr. Fireheart directed his sharpened amber gaze at Ash, practically seeing through him as he continued. “You saw how Ms. Sparkfang’s stomach made a noise when she was hungry. She didn’t make it do that. It just happens.”
“Yeah but we can choose to be like Alexis and follow our stomach—”
“Or be like Mr. Steelwing and suppress it.” Mr. Fireheart said, interrupting Ash. “But within our Draconic state, Dragonoids lose that choice.”
At that moment, the room would’ve gone silent if it wasn’t for Ash’s laughter. “So you’re not that much better than us after all.”
“Why you fucking halfbreed—”
“Zip it, Lizzie,” Tuvira said, stopping Lissandra in place with a broad smile she couldn’t contain as she entered her Draconic state. “You’re interrupting my show.”
“Sure, you can laugh, but you’re the first halfbreed I’ve met that can stare down a Dragonoid, even go as far as to disrespect one. And expect not to die.” Mr. Fireheart said, matching Ash’s sarcastic laugh.
“Maybe because I’m a Dragonoid like you?”
“More likely, your parents never taught you because they were too scared to hurt your feelings. I mean, who would want their child to fear them.” Mr. Fireheart stood up, no longer hiding the downward gaze of contempt he held for his disrespectful student. “And since schools expect parents to teach the basic concept of predator and prey. It’s no wonder you try to stand on equal footing.”
A slight smirk appeared on Mr. Fireheart’s face as Ash didn’t interrupt him even after he continued.
“You know I heard a funny story yesterday about two Dragonoids making a fool of themselves in a Human neighborhood. Even heard that within hours there were protestors calling for them to move. The fact that it’s a new day and no one’s been injured, I expect that they have a fairly good handle on their instincts, so why would they suddenly lose themselves out in public? Doing such a spectacle?”
Mr. Fireheart bent down, getting closer to Ash’s face but always made sure he was above him. “Hm, maybe they did it to somehow cure their child of ignorance. Who knows.”
Ash didn’t say a word. He just lunged at Mr.Fireheart only to be stopped, unable to move a single inch as a blue-scaled tail wrapped around him. Ash glared at Tuvira, who only licked her lips while restraining him.
“Sorry, my prince. But not even I can bring you back from death. I mean, you attacked him. So he’d have cause to defend himself. Even in his base state, he’d break that pretty face of yours.” Tuvira pulled a shaken Ash close to her, cupping his cheek in her hand. “Besides letting my pup get crushed by a dolphin. Would make me a terrible caretaker.”
Tuvira relaxed and released Ash as her smile became petite once more. “Well, doesn’t a princess take care of her prince?”
“You know a part of me believes you’re being serious right now,” Ash said, taking a deep breath as he calmed down.
“I’m being completely serious. Haven’t you read any fairytales.”
“That’s not what I meant….”
“Well, if you don’t have any more questions.” Mr. Fireheart sat back at his desk and pulled out what looked to be a GO GO Monster Slayers lunch box. “I’d like for you to leave me in peace while I have a break of my own.”
No one questioned why their homeroom teacher had a lunch box based on a children’s comic book, but that was the least of their worries as Scott, Lissandra, Ash, and Tuvira still needed to get food before lunch ended.
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