Chapter 33:

Those Above


Chaos and madness, that felt about right as descriptors. The battle for normalcy smashed against what qualified as reality for him. Rejection disappeared as an option the moment he started turning his world into meters of grass. Which of the options he’d seen so far, definitely a good pick. But it really begged the question. How did this all end for him?

A walk to school wouldn’t be answering it. However, a different answer seemed to be following him. When he turned around there was Ken and Jun smiling up at him. “What are you two doing here?!”

“You walking to school together today?” Ayumi said cheerfully as she arrived from down the street.

Jun nodded to her and Ken jumped up holding on to Yuki tightly. “Yup! Saki said we could at any time.”

“Just remember when you need to turn for your school.”

“We will!”

They had all decided to walk together and Ken and Jun took up sides on Yuki with Ayumi smiling quietly to the side. However, as they came to the intersection in the road Yuki came to a stop. Saki came up from the street and he hesitated for a moment, but changed quickly to a smile. “Hey, Saki!”

Chapter 33 – Those Above

Saki briefly looked at Yuki before away. “Hello.” She walked into line alongside Ayumi, eyes forward.

With the teenagers distracted, Ken squeezed out more time with everyone bouncing. However, it was half way down the next street he noticed. He pulled away from Yuki and ran over to Saki, grabbing her hand. “Are you sick?”

Saki broke stride for a moment. “What? No, I’m fine.”

Ken stared at Saki, narrowing his eyes up at her. “But you’re wrong!”

“Wrong?” This moment halted Saki from her course and stopped. She glanced over at Yuki for some help.

He looked down at his little brother and back to Saki. The silent demands from Saki rushed him over. “Um, Ken, it's fine.” His little brother gave him a rejecting look. “Everyone just has off days. You know, you don’t always feel like playing everyday after class, right?”

“No!” He hopped over to Yuki pointing a finger. “It’s you too! You’re both wrong!” Saki and Yuki exchanged cautious looks at each other. “See! Something’s wrong!”

By then, Yuki figured it out along with Saki. It made the awkwardness between them increase further by turning away. ‘I was just trying to give her space after everything with Seiji.’ He knelt down to look straight at Ken. “Thank you for worrying about us, but it’s just something that needs time. I did something that upset Saki.”

“Why would you do that? Saki’s your bestest friend!”

“Well…um…” A quick look up at Saki saw she had no more of an answer than him. “Yes, but even friends can disagree.”

“Are you still friends?”

“Of course! Nothing like that would break the bond we share, right?”

Saki felt the tug of Yuki’s words kneeling down next to him looking at Ken as well. She nodded softly while the words struggled to form. “Y-yes. It’s a normal thing, Ken. Thank you.”

“If you promise!”


Ken bounced over to Jun grabbing his hand. “See! They’re still friends!” Silently, Jun agreed. The two then darted off from the group back up the street to the intersection. They waved back at the three before darting on to where they were supposed to go.

Standing up, Yuki crossed his arms looking a little embarrassed. “So they knew…” He looked back over at Saki who started walking ahead. ‘But it’s never that easy, Ken… She’s got stuff to work through.’ With Ayumi at his side, they pushed their step to catch up.

A quiet walk to school ended with the late arrival of Yuki and Ayumi. He didn’t manage to go unnoticed with the creaking door. Their teacher glared at him. Yuki smiled back innocently. “I’m sorry I’m late, Miss Kuniyoshi!”

She looked him up and down, taking a read of the situation. “Were you in a fight, Hayashi?”

Yuki backed away from the teacher’s accusations. “I slipped and tripped on the stairs rushing to class.”


“Uh huh!”


He smiled nervously. “I tripped and fell back down the stairs. A lot of stairs. I’m sorry!” His hand started brushing the sleeve and parts of the dirtied uniform. The rest of the obvious marks couldn’t be so easily removed. Yuki just laughed it off.

Miss Kuniyoshi’s brow pinched watching him fidget. All she could do was sigh. “If you insist. Ayumi walk with him to the nurse’s office to make sure he gets there.”

“Y-Yes! I’m sorry, I couldn’t…”

“I know… I’ll mark you two as present.”

“Thank you, teacher!” Ayumi lightly pushed on Yuki, whispering to him as they left the classroom. The injured sight of Yuki ran as a murmur through the students.

In the middle, Saki sat at her seat with a wrinkled expression matching the teacher. She stared at the closed door. ‘Why did I do that? I should have stayed…’ Fingers scratched through her hair shoving it around. ‘Dammit, Seiji!’

“Hey, Saki…” Hiroshi leaned over in his chair a little. His eyes watched carefully the teacher. “Were you at practice?”

Leaning on her hand, she glanced over at him. “No.”

“What’s going on?”

“Ask me later.” She looked back to the front. Hopefully her focus could remain on the teacher.

As the day passed, things fell into the usual routine. Rogue powers, lectures and quizzes, those were all normal school activities. Yup. The out of control aspect increased dramatically today making Ayumi work for every minute.

When school ended for the day, Yuki stood at the entrance for Saki to finish with cleaning duties. Ayumi hovered around quieter than normal. The door suddenly opened, snapping Yuki back. “Hiroshi? I thought you already left.”

He glanced in and nodded to himself, but then looked back at Yuki. “Not helping?”

“She insisted.”

“Yeah, that checks. Why did you go on ahead, Ayumi looks like she’s about to collapse.”

Yuki flipped between the two, noticing just now she did seem to be getting worse. “But…”

“It’s fine, man. Besides, maybe talking to me will help her.”

“Please. This whole Seiji stuff is eating at her still.”

“Of course!”

Supporting Ayumi, he guided her out of the classroom. ‘She’s more exhausted than I’ve seen her before…’ He glanced back one more time praying that Hiroshi could succeed where he failed. “Let’s go, Ayumi…”

“Right…” She blinked and tried to force herself back awake. It didn’t matter how many times mental fatigue hit, there was no escaping its effect. No training or coffee could fix it. She kept a hold of Yuki as they walked, feeling her legs like lead.

“I’m sorry. My mind wasn’t focused today.”


“But you look really bad. Do you need to sit for a bit?”

Gesturing with her arm half hearted to keep marching, she looked forward to the end of the day. Then she remembered that training. A bit of gloom fell over her. It was a bad day.

“Is there a time limit for how long you can keep it up?”

“It's…a variety of variables. I can go longer, but…I had to switch constantly. Plus staying constantly on alert…”

Yuki nodded, taking it all in while slowly walking through the hall. But they only made it down to the second floor before Ayumi buckled. He found the nearest chair for her. “I’ll go get you some water or tea.”

“Fine…” Ayumi dropped down into the chair and leaned her head back.

Watching her briefly, he smiled before turning to head to the vending machine. ‘For being a military hardass most of the time, it’s sort of comforting to know she can be normal and not be acting.’ Small comforts aside, he snapped himself back to focus on his mind. No Ayumi meant his power could do anything and he wouldn’t be able to stop it.

He returned with bottled water and green tea, player’s choice. But as he approached, there was a voice he didn’t recognize coming from Ayumi. “What’s going on?”

“Aw, come on, don’t you want to come have some tea with us?” As Yuki came around the corner, he spotted three boys, older, crowded around Ayumi. She made no efforts to escape or push them away.


Yuki dropped the bottle and can. He ran down the hall focused only on Ayumi. No plans came to mind. He wanted to slide in between them, but two of them grouped tightly together stopping him. Instead, Yuki stumbled in bumping against them. “Hey guys! Looking for directions?”

The two he tapped glared back pushing him away. “Get lost kid.”

“But I don’t want to be lost. Could you be?”

“You’re getting on my nerves. Beat it.”

Suddenly, there was a large shadow cast over everyone grouped together. As everyone looked back behind them all they could see was a dark figure with gleaming eyes of a demon staring down at them. The boys all fell backwards against the wall. The demon leaned forward piercing them with an intense aura. “What do you think you’re doing? The girl doesn’t want you bothering her, understand?”

“Y-y-yeah!” They froze in time caught by the looming presence. A stamping of their foot snapped their paralysis away. Quickly, all three bolted for the stairs.

The dark figure leaned in offering a hand out to Ayumi with the shade breaking through revealing the person to be a female student and a third year by the uniform. “They shouldn’t mess with you anymore. Are you alright?”

Ayumi cautiously accepted the hand getting pulled up to her feet. “T-thank you…” Back on her feet, the height difference became all the more apparent. Whomever her rescuer was, they were the tallest Japanese person she had seen, limited as that might be. She had very long dark brown hair down to the edge of her skirt, working in contrast to her green eyes. “Umm…”

Yuki turned to look up feeling smaller than usual. He tried to recall if he had seen them around. Someone so notable should have stood out, literally. ‘She’s tall! I think she’s even taller than Seiji! Is she really a student?’

“Uh…thank you!” Ayumi bowed quickly to the girl. Though she found herself staring longer into her eyes. Her voice snapped her out of her haze.

“I’m just glad you’re safe. No thanks is needed.”

“I’m Ayumi Nishimura.”

“Oh, well I’m Fumiko Terauchi. It’s nice to meet you.” Fumiko politely bowed back to them.

“Thank you for helping, Ayumi. Oh, Yuki Hayashi!”

“I’m sorry you had to deal with that, Nishimura. I’ll report them to the Student Council when I get back.” Fumiko nodded to Ayumi to give her reassurance. Flashing a dashing smile, Fumiko bowed once more to Ayumi. “I’d advise sticking with your friend and not walking alone as much as I hate to say that. But if you’re ever in trouble I’ll be there to protect you.”


“I’m sorry for taking up so much of your time.” Fumiko stepped back quickly, letting Ayumi go. “My club is meeting today, so I must be going.” She turned around and rushed off down the hall disappearing as fast as she appeared.

Yuki blinked, still processing everything that happened. Then he jumped over to Ayumi remembering her state. She already sat back down. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t imagine that would happen.”

“It’s fine…”

He remembered the drinks and ran back. Alone once more for the brief moment, Ayumi stared down at the empty hall. The oddly gallant image of the senior fresh in her mind still. “…Fumiko…Terauchi…”