It was yet another ordinary Winter day for the students of Byakudan's class 2-4, until their head teacher came in the classroom, smiling, with another girl wearing the same uniform as them.
Teacher:Everyone, this is your new colleague. Her name is Raven Black, transferring from a British College, please welcome her warmly and make sure to help her through with the culture customs and differences. All questions after class, please. Miss Black, please take a seat in front of Kizami-kun , right there.
The girl sat there and with a robotic grace, took out her books and began studying, her bright blood red hair draping over her porcelain face.
She didn't move during the whole class, apart from turning the pages of her book, which at a closer inspection, wasn't related to the current class' subject, but instead, it was a Medicine textbook that she was eagerly absorbing.
An hour passed by faster than expected and after copying the others' courtesies, she got ambushed by her new classmates and bombarded with countless questions which came by faster than she could comprehend.
Raven:Please slow down. I have to process first what each of you says.
Her voice seemed almost as robotic as her stoic demeanor and movement, but an obvious exotic, foreign charm was emanating from her, enchanting everyone around her.
Mitsuki: Okay, Raven-chan! I'm the class rep and I'll make sure you'll accommodate well and fast to this new and beautiful country!
Tohko: *smiles* We're glad to have someone new here. Maybe we could have a girls' sleepover and talk about our cultures and do fun stuff!
Emi: Oh, sounds fun! I'll bring the board games and charms!
Raven: Uh...Thank you. I really appreciate this and I hope to rise up to everyone's expectations. Please take good care of me.
Tohko: *gleams* So cool! Look at her, she's adapting so well!
Tomohiro: Hey, Hey, Raven! Do you like video games?
Raven: I do.
Ryousuke: Neat! We'll have to add you to our group ASAP!
Kai: Heh, nice hair, girl. With a sexy look yours, you could so get into modeling...With me.
Mitsuki: Shimada, that's enough! Don't traumatise the poor girl with your stupid boy antics!
Masato: Yamamoto-san, calm down! He'll stop, don't worry.
Mitsuki: He better!
Kensuke: Hey, I say this weekend we gather and go out to a pub or something to get to know each other!
Tohko: Oh, great idea, Kurosaki! It would be a nice welcome party as well! What do you say, Kizami-kun?
Yuuya: I don't see why not.
Raven: You guys are much more energetic and warm than anyone back home. It's...A nice change.
Tohko: Aww, how cute! That's it, we're all officially friends! No, best friends!
Kirisaki then, grinning, hugged the girl tightly, making her otherwise stoic face change into one of shock, getting just a tint pinker, then quickly regained her composure and skeptically hugged back.
After school finished, the girl went to change her shoes, put on her earbuds to listen to her favourite music and turned on her GPS, inserting her home address, walking in that direction.
Unfortunately, the GPS got confused and kept turning her around with each step, greatly irritating her and mumbling a curse under her breathe, looking more disorientated than usual.
Just as she sighed in desperation, she felt a light tap on her shoulder, which caused her to swiftly turn around in a panicked fight stance, until she noticed Kensuke smiling at her and Yuuya just behind him, looking rather tired of life.
Raven: Hello, Yuuya, Kensuke.
Kensuke: *chuckles* On first name basis already, eh? I know I'm charming, but still.
Raven: *raises eyebrow* It is your name...Isn't it?
Kensuke: Yes, I'm sorry for teasing. Here, you see, we use other's last name, along with an honorific, especially when you just meet someone.
Raven: Even among friends?
Kensuke: Yeah, even then. But I guess it depends on the person.
Raven: I see...Then, I apologize...Uhh...Kurosaki-kun, was it?
Kensuke: Yes, that's it! You're a fast learner, good job!
Raven: Thank you.
Kensuke: So, are you lost?
Raven: Rather, directionally challenged and my GPS is jesting me.
Kensuke: Let me see the address, we'll show you the way! Hm...Hey, Kizami, look! She's in our neighbourhood! Really close! Now that's what I call fate! We can go to school and return together!
Raven: That's a relief, honestly. My orientation skills are greatly lacking.
Kensuke: Don't worry, you have us from now on!
Living in the school proximity, they had only a 30 minute walk back home, filled with a lot of chatter from Kurosaki and some slow replies from the Brit girl.
After they left her in front of her new home, they set up a meeting hour for the next day and left to their own houses.
She had to admit, she was rather terrified of the change and of what caused it, but she couldn't deny that it turned out rather nice.
After her father went missing 9 years ago, her mother went hysteric and pressured her to study as hard as possible to get into the Medicine university and stay as far away as possible from ridiculous superstitions.
After taking some exams and practical works, the red head managed to earn a full scholarship to a Japanese Medical University, and that is when her mother decided to move in with her grandmother, back in Japan.
But that is when things became...Weird.
But Raven paid no mind, deciding to stay as far away from family rumours and focus on science, her true path of success in life.
The week passed by quickly and the group met up at a nice pub where they ate, drank and chatted, playing Spin the Bottle's 20 question version and everyone seemed to have fun and enjoying each others' company.
Tohko: Okay, Raven-chan, what's your favourite music genre?
Raven: Rock music, I guess. Okawa, what's your favourite game?
Tomohiro:Umm...There's this Otome game that I'm obsessed with. Fukuroi, what's your favourite book?
Masato: Good question...I did enjoy "How to kill a mockingjay". Shimada, what's your favourite TV show?
Kai: Britain's Next Top Model. I think I saw Black winning once.
Raven: Negative. You have to be of age to compete.
Kai: Ah, that's a pity. I'll watch again next year. Now, Black, how many boyfriends did you have?
Raven: None. Kizami-kun-
Kai: None? What do you mean?
Raven: I'm sorry, did I use the wrong word again? Or a Japanese-ified one?
Tohko: *sighs* No, Raven-chan, you spoke correctly. It's just this jerk being surprised.
Raven: Is that...Wrong?
Kai: I mean, duh! How could you not?
Kai: Answer me!
Ryousuke: Take it easy, Shimada-kun, I think she's trying to process the situation.
Raven: You broke me.
Kai: I did what?! How?!
Raven: I don't know how to answer. Is not having had a lover before that weird?
Mitsuki: Oh course it's not weird, Raven-chan, don't worry!Shimada is just an obsolete,insensitive man whore,that's all.
Raven:*nods* I see. Kizami-kun, if I were to recommend you a book, would you read it?
Yuuya: Depends on the genre.
Raven: The thorough investigation of Jack the Ripper, containing all the Scotland Yard letters and the detailed gorey description of each murder, along with speculations and prime suspects.
Yuuya: *nods* Intriguing, I will.
Raven: I'm glad.
Kai: Wait a second, did you just ignore me for that bastard?
Raven: Shimada...Could you stop being such an obnoxious Drama Queen? Your simple mind and dull personality is damaging my energies.
Kai: What did you say?! You're just as bad as that jerk! Whatever, I'm leaving.
Raven: Please do so faster, I think my neurons are going to commit seppuku if you speak more.
The boy left the pub fuming, while everyone was laughing at what just happened.
The girl couldn't shake the smirk off her face for the rest of the night and Kizami seemed to have been amused as well, despite his masked emotions.
Overall, the class bonded with their new classmate, which made for harmonious bonds formed. Many questions later, they started telling life stories, some sad, some hilarious and some outright weird.
Okawa: Okay, but I think Katayama-kun's most embarrassing moment was when he got really into a game on his PSP and fell off the stairs.
Ryousuke: Oh God, don't mention that. It was pretty bad.
Emi: I walked in the class once, not realizing I had a huge paint smudge on my face and I was so confused cause everyone was laughing.
Tohko: Ehh, at least it wasn't toilet paper, like what happened to Shimada that day, remember?
Kensuke: *laughs* Oh, yes, how could I forget! It was hilarious!
Raven: Wish I was there to see. It would have ended up on the Yearbook!
Tohko: That'd serve him right!
Raven: *smirks* Revenge is VERY sweet.
Kensuke:Y'know? Honestly, getting scolded by your friend's older sister is really weird, right, Kizami?
Kizami: Don't mention it.
Mitsuki: Raven-chan, what about you? How was your old classroom?
Raven: Hm...Has any of you read or seen Carrie by Stephen King?
Ryousuke: That's a classic, of course!
Raven: So, you might know,but we have this kind of "Beginning of college" party, just like the American Prom you see in movies. It's all nice and whatever, we all go there and...Yeah.
Tomo: How is a prom embarrassing?
Raven: After the King and Queen whatever were called, I too was called on stage.
Ryousuke: Don't tell me-
Raven: *laughs* They threw pig blood on me and everyone started laughing.
Tohko: What?! That's horrible, not funny!
Raven: Being the victim, it was quite embarrassing...But from the watchers, I suppose it was funny.
Tohko: Well, it's not! Poor dear, you had terrible school mates...
Raven: *chuckles* This is what I call tough luck. I have it all.
Mitsuki: Well, not anymore! Apart from that brainless git, nobody would be mean to you!
Tohko: Yeah,trust Hellgirl Mitsuki to take care of everything!
Mitsuki: *proud grin* You got it!
Masato: *clears throat* The president of student council wouldn't let such atrocities happen.
Kensuke: And it's not like I and Kizami would let anyone bully a friend, right?
Yuuya: *nods* Of course.
Raven: Friend, huh? I guess the idea of it is quite appealing.
Emi: Hey, I have an idea!
Raven: Amaze me.
Emi: I'm a huge fan of the occult and all, so how about we make a friendship charm together?
Raven: Friendship charm? Sounds like a plan, but let's wait on the idea for a bit, okay? I have an exam to take soon and just after I get the results would be like...Y'know...
Tohko: Best day ever?
Raven: *nods* Just about right.
Emi: Great! I'm sure you'll ace that exam, no problem!
Raven: *nervous chuckle* Sure hope so. My future is on the line.
Tomo: Urabe-chan, seems like you better use some luck charms on Raven.
Emi: Ah! Good idea!
They laughed and enjoyed each others' company the whole night, until they got back home and when she did, she noticed her mother acting rather weird.
And her grandmother was no calmer, contrary to her usual self.
However upon further inspection, she got yelled at and sent to her room, much to the red head's confusion. She didn't question it any further, until she saw a book sticking out from under her bed with a note attached to it.
"I hope you'll never have to use it, but it's never bad to be informed"
She recognized the writing as her grandmother's and nodding to herself, she made it her personal task to find out the truth, sooner or later.
The end of March arrived much faster than expected and with that, the day before her exam.
She went to school, sat back in her usual seat, but the lack of sleep was quite noticeable, even through her stoic, emotionless face.
Tohko was the first to notice, but she didn't have the chance to ask, for her Biology teacher came in the room and sitting at his desk, he yelled Raven's name, telling her in a strict voice to sit at the first desk, then put a clock on his desk and a test on hers.
Teacher: You have three hours to complete it all. The clock is right here, no questions allowed until after this mock exam and while at it, to get used to the stress and pressure, I'll be occasionally ask you questions, that you must answer right away. Understood?
Raven: Yes, sir.
Raven: Got it!
Straightening her back, crossing her legs and taking the pen from behind her ear, she started writing like a robot, wearing the most focused face Tohko's ever seen, shocking her.
What was even more shocking for both the girl and her friends was with how much ease she could answer the teacher's questions, even while concentrated on her paper.
Just staring at her grace, three hours have passed like lightning and as the alarm rang, she slammed her pen on the desk, handed over the test and returned to her own.
She was breathing heavily, from all the anxiety and adrenaline, having abused her sympathetic system more than usual and her exhausted face was even more highlighted now that test was over.
Her gaze was fixed to the test and it seemed like she wasn't even blinking, trapped in her own trance until the teacher got up and started clapping, with an obvious proud grin on his face, making her widen her eyes in confusion.
Teacher: Never in my life have I seen a student get 100% on such a test and answer all the questions correctly as well.
Tohko: Did you hear that, Raven! Great job!
Teacher :Great job indeed, Miss Black. Make sure to rest well tonight and tomorrow you'll make the top of the list, no problem.
Mitsuki: Congrats, Raven! I knew you had it in you!
Teacher: How many pills did you have today?
Raven: *gulps* Five...*looks down*
Teacher: You handled it well, but try not to take any more, at least not until tomorrow. You know it affects your heart.
Raven: The exam is more important than my heart.
Teacher: Your life is more important than stressing over an exam that you have in the bag already.
Raven: *bites lip* Maybe...
Teacher: Aroma therapy, Music Therapy, Walking and Sleeping help a lot. Take care and just remember that you can do it.
Raven: *nods* I'll...Keep that in mind.
The teacher left and with that, the girl fell on her chair, finally letting the exhaustion take over her with a sigh of relief.
Concerned, her girl friends surrounded her, trying to calm her down.
Tohko: Raven-chan, what kind of pills did you take?
Raven: Severe anxiety...
Tohko: Is this exam stressing you so much, even if you know you'll get it right?
Raven: I can't control it...I can't stop it...It gets so scary...
Tohko: What is?
Raven: It won't slow down from beating...It just pumps and pumps like...Like I'm running a marathon...And it hurts...My lungs burn...And it's all so...Random...
Mitsuki: Did you go to a doctor? It's not good, but the risks of an overdose...
Raven: I'll take the risks over having to feel this all the time I get scared.
Mitsuki: I...Heard chocolate helps a bit. Does it?
Raven: Well...Guess so. It's no miracle maker, but it's not bad.
Mitsuki: Then, how about this~! Every day, someone will bring a chocolate bar! How does that sound?
Raven: Don't do that, it's my responsibility!
Mitsuki: May be so, but we are friends, remember? We look out for each other and help each other when needed.
Raven: R-Really? Even if it involves wasting your money on something so silly?
Tohko: *hugs her* Silly? You're being silly! That's what friends are for!
Raven: Friends...? It's...So warm...
Raven: *hides her face with a hand* It's the first time...I feel this...What is this...? It's so foreign...So weird...So...nice...Ever since I got in your class, it just seems to act up like this.
Emi: It's happiness, silly! It's written all over you!
Raven: Happiness...Huh? Hm...My heart is beating a bit faster...But it's not hurting. How peculiar...
Mitsuki: Class 2-4 is a magical place, okay?
Raven: *chuckles* I guess...It truly is.
That evening, she realized that despite all the music she was listening, she was still restless, so she decided to try the aroma therapy idea...
The only problem was that she had no more scented candles or sticks anymore and going to the store alone was excluded.
Chuckling nervously, she took her phone out and texted the first person she thought of-
He was in the neighbourhood and he didn't talk much,letting a calming aura vibrate around him,so why not give it a go?
Would you come with me to the market? I'm afraid I might end up in the next prefecture if I go alone. --Raven."
Her phone beeped faster than expected and she received a short but positive answer, telling her to wait 10 minutes.
Smiling softly at her phone, she quickly changed into a comfy outfit consisting on black jeans, boots and a dark blue plaid shirt with rolled sleeves.
She quickly left the house listening to "The Neighbourhood-Afraid" while leaning on the house fence, waiting for her friend until she saw his tall figure come in sight, looking as neutral as ever, but perhaps not as annoyed.
Raven: Thank you for coming, Kizami-kun. I guess relaxing is far more difficult than I expected.
Yuuya: If it helps, it's my pleasure.
Raven: How do you relax?
Yuuya: Hmm...I walk through the forest, I suppose.
Raven: There's a forest nearby?
Yuuya: Quite close to this place.
Raven: Lovely. Would you mind showing it to me? If it's not too much trouble, of course.
Yuuya: I'd be glad to.
Raven: *sighs* You're a life saviour.
Yuuya: *chuckles* Far from it.
Raven: Speaking of that, I have that book I was telling you about with me, in case you want to borrow it.
Yuuya: Thank you.
Raven: Y'know...Our classmates are nice people, but sometimes, they can get really obnoxiously annoying and loud.
Yuuya: *smirks* I can't deny that
Raven: At least there's someone like you around to calm the waters when needed. I appreciate it.
Yuuya: I'm not sure how to respond to that.
Raven: Kizami-kun, you seem like an open-minded person. It's not like I could ask anyone else this without raising suspicion...But have you ever thought of killing people?
Raven: Obviously, I wouldn't do it, because I don't want to end up in jail and waste all the time I was forced to study...But the number of ways you could kill someone...Would they ever discover it? Would they ever catch you? It sounds like a thrilling adventure.
Kizami: Why are you asking me this?
Raven: I...don't know. I guess I always think of that when I'm angry. I apologise, that must have been weird and awkward. You seemed like a person who has more obscure and surreal life-visions, much like myself.
Kizami: My intuition was correct, then. You're not a simpleton like the others.
Raven: I'd have been offended if I came across as such.
Kizami: Nothing of the sort.
Soon enough, they arrived at the store and she managed to buy some coffee, vanilla, lavender and cinnamon candles and on their way home, going through the forest and enjoying the chilly, relaxing breeze, they talked about famous crimes and serial killers. Only his presence was enough to soothe her worries and calm her heart beat.
It was the best kind of therapy and all she needed.
His voice, his eyes, his vibe, his words, his mind, his face- They all seemed to have an unusual effect on her, one of tranquility and peace like she's never experienced before.
It was, however, quite late and she still needed to get plenty of sleep, so thanking her friend, they returned to their own houses.
Weird enough, at home she was greeted by nobody, but a sticky note, which said "We will be back shortly".
It was peculiar enough that both her mother and her grandmother left without announcing, but lately some subtle, out of the ordinary things have been happening in her house and it wasn't only her relatives' behaviour, but some little things moving out of their own place, even by just a little.
Of course, with her sharp, detail-orientated eyes, she couldn't miss such an obvious change, thanking all the medical training she had to undergo, but at the same time cursing it for not letting her sleep in peace before such an important exam, not only out of worry, but out of confusion and slight fear as well.
Looking at the calendar, she realized that the next day would make 10 years since her father's disappearance.
She had been only 8 years old,and she could barely remember him,but she had good memories with him...
Much better than with her mother, anyways.
Lighting up a scented candle, she turned on her laptop and putting some ambiental music, she quickly fell asleep.
The exam for the next day went smoothly and after that she went to her last classes for that day, waiting and pacing around the room anxiously for the results, until her Biology teacher came in the class once again and congratulating her, he said she passed with top grades, just as expected, then left the room, letting them celebrate for the rest of day.
After getting out of her 30-second shock, she jumped on Mitsuki, hugging her tightly, twirling around with her and yelling happily, shocking everyone and making them laugh.
Nobody was used to seeing the stoic girl so cheerful and energetic, teary-eyed from the raw emotions of happiness, but it was a nice sight for her friends.
And everything went nice, until she received an anonymous call.
She got near the window, leaning on it, then answered skeptically, away from hear-range of her friends.
Raven: Yes? Who is it?
-?-: Congratulation on making it to the Medical school, Ray Ray.
Raven: *shocked* Wh-What...?
-?- : I am very proud of you, I always knew you were a bright child.
Raven: H-How...? Why...?
-?-: Dear, I want you to know that I love you, but please stop looking for me.
Raven: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
-?-: *whispers* Help me...Help me...
Raven: What was that? Help you? Where are you, dammit?!
-?-: DON'T come looking after me! No matter what, you must not end up like me!
Raven: You can't just leave me like that and call after 10 years! What the hell?!
-?-: *agony screams*
Raven: I'm calling the police, they'll track this and save you!
-?-: You can't save the dead, my dear. And neither can your mother or grandmother.
Raven: The dead...? J-Just how did you know all of this?! You disappeared! Tell me what's going on this instant!
-?-: Don't let the curse get to you. You're a Shinozaki...Kitsune.
-?-: I love you, never forget that. I must leave now, for good.
Raven: Wait, no! Don't you dare leave me again! You did once, that's enough!
-?-:Goodbye, little fox.
But he had hung up.
Her phone fell from her hand as she stared out of the window, still shocked at the conversation she had.
He disappeared 10 years ago...On this day...
But how did he call?
How did he know everything?
Why not want to be saved?
Countless questions were swarming through her head, until she got awoken by Tohko, who gave her back her phone, looking worried.
After telling everyone what happened, they were shocked and somewhat disturbed, but someone knew just how to cheer them up.
Emi: Then let's do the happiness charm! I think now it's a great time to show our love and support for each other!
Raven: Emi...That charm you sent me seems...Sketchy, don't you think?
Emi: Oh, come on, it's just a harmless occult thing, it can't hurt anyone! You're the science girl, remember? It's not like anything bad could happen.
Raven: The one who posted it disappeared.
Emi: No, she just hasn't posted in a while.
me: The one who posted it is Saenoki Naho who's a paranormal expert of our age. I'm sure she wouldn't just carelessly abandon her blog like that.
Tohko: Now, now, Raven, don't nitpick at the details! Come on, it'll be fun!
Tomo: Sounds cute, so why not!
Kensuke: We're all friends, right? Maybe having a little thing to remind us that we're together wouldn't hurt.
Kai: Keh. As sappy as that sounds, looks fun. Don't chicken out, Black!
Raven: *bites lip* You all want to do this? Are you sure?
Mitsuki: It's just a silly internet charm, it can't hurt anyone, don't worry! The supernatural doesn't exist, it's us who make things happen.
Raven: *sighs* I swear...Let me just get my bag.
Ryousuke: What for?
Emi: Okay! So, everyone, hold on this Sachiko charmed paper and chant "Sachiko, we beg of you" let's see...10 times! Then, all at once, we pull on it, and that scrap will be our friendship!
Tohko: Yay, sounds fun!
Emi: Let's do it!
Raven: *eye twitch* Charm...Ing. Blood pacts are more fun.
Yuuya: *amused breathe* It's past that time.
Raven: Unfortunately, it sure seems so.
With a shaky breathe, the red head grabbed the paper and chanted in silence, then ,at her signal, they all ripped the paper and put their scrap in their name tag.
The girls seemed quite ecstasic about what just happened, while Raven bit her lip, frantically looking around to see if anything weird was to happen.
Shimada:See, Black, nothing happened! Now stop that worried look and-
But his words were interrupted by a huge earthquake that had everyone fall on the ground, screaming, scared, until the floor fell apart and they all fell into the abyss.