Claimers: Takato Kazega, Ariana Harako, and Mara are the property of Dark Kazega-kun. Please do not use them without his permission.

A/N: I do not know if there is actually an Osaka Institute of the Arts. To be honest, I don't care if there is. I came up with it off the top of my head.

Free As a Bird

by Dark Kazega-kun

Chapter 2

A young man of medium height, with shoulder-length black hair streaked with silver in a ponytail, stood in front of the main dorm of the Osaka Institute of the Arts. A guitar case was strapped to his back, and a large, square-shaped box was inside one of his two duffels.

The teen shook his head despairingly before walking toward the Administration building, not far from the dorm. He shouldered his way through the cram of new and returning students to a table set up at the back of the lobby. A sign saying 'Reception' hung above the table. A short dumpy lady, with her hair pulled back in a severe bun sat there, handing students the keys to their dorm rooms.

"Hey," the teen shouted over the din. "I'd like to get the key to my room, please." The woman ignored him. Wether she had actually heard him, or was trying to annoy him wasn't visible. The teen tried again, louder this time. "Hey, lady! I'd like the key to my room!" This time the woman heard him.

"Yes, and what is your name and year?" she asked, ruffling through a stack of papers.

"Takato Kazega. I'm a freshman." The stripe-headed teen replied, dropping one of his duffels on the ground.

"Just a second, dearie." The older woman searched through her stacks of papers. "Son, I don't see a 'Takato Gazega' here."

"Ma'am, it's Kazega, with a 'K', not Gazega with a 'G'." Takato corrected, shaking his head at her obvious mistake.

"Oh? Is it really?" the woman said, a far-away look creeping onto her face. "I once knew someone with the last name of Kazega. He was a cute little boy, always painting. I don't suppose that's you, hmm?"

"No, ma'am." Takato said, the look in his eyes suggesting that he'd rather dance the streets in a girls uniform from his old school than talk to her any longer. "I've never painted in my life. Could I have my key now?"

"Oh, well." the old woman said, her reverie broken. "Well, let's see. Ah! Here we go." She pulled a paper triumphantly from the pile. "It says here that you're on the third floor of the main dorm, room 305."

Takato blinked. "Okay... Could I have my key?"

The woman looked at him. "I don't have it." Takato gave her a questioning look. "Your roommate has it. I don't know why, but the dean will only allow one key for each room unless the students fork up the money for an extra."

Takato groaned. "So what you're saying is that I'll have to hand over more money to get an extra key?"

She nodded. "Yes, pretty much. Sorry" She waved behind him. "Next!"

Takato looked behind him. A line five students long had built up behind him, grumbling. "Sorry! Sorry." He picked up the duffel he had dropped and took the paper from the old lady. "Thanks ma'am."

With a groan, the teen walked back towards the dorm, wondering why he had to bring his amp today!

Takato trudged up the stairs, mumbling profanities under his breath. Despite the fact that he only had three bags compared to some of the student's five or more, those three bags were packed to bursting with clothes, music, art supplies, and a laptop. And one of the bags was his guitar case.

He reached the top of the stairs, and looked right and left, searching for a sign, a flyer, anything to direct him to his room. By chance, he saw two plastic signs screwed into the wall, like a hotel. One said 'Rooms 301-301' and pointed to the left, and the other said 'Rooms 311-320' and pointed to the right. Takato sighed and turned left, still mumbling under his breath.

On his left were the odd-numbered rooms, so three doors down should be his. He dropped his two duffels in front of the door marked '305: Suzuhara, Kazega'. He tried the knob but it was locked. "Just beautiful." he growled. "My roommate's nowhere to be found, and I don't have a key." The ponytailed teen slumped between the two duffels, his back leaning against the door.

As he sat there, he thought back to how his parents had acted on graduation day, the first time in a year that they had been home long enough to attend anything.

"And now, number fifteen in the class, Takato Kazega!" the principal, Mr. Ikari, announced. The gathered parents and students clapped as Takato walked on stage, waving. His parents, the only ones in the crowd not clapping sat shellshocked.

"Takato has been offered a scholarship at the Osaka Institute of the Arts." Mr. Ikari continued. "He will start his freshman year there this August." He looked at the red-eyed teen. "Is there anything you'd like to say, son?"

Takato looked at the principal and grinned, a big toothy grin that showed his long fangs. "You have no idea." He walked up to the microphone. "Hey, everybody. I'm gonna keep it short, since there's another fourteen people to go after me. I just want to thank Mr. Fyutuski and Ms. Ayami for keeping me on the right track." He looked down, as if contemplating what to say next. "And a great big thanks to my mom and dad, who managed to completely ignore my cutting and drug addiction when I was fourteen. Good job guys." He gave his parents a thumbs up, which he turned upside-down, oblivious to the silence from the crowd.

The teen turned to Mr. Ikari. "Thanks for not expelling me, for that extra chance."

'Hoo...' He thought. He'd been one messed up kid, four, five years ago. Mr. Ikari had been one of his pillars of stability, one of the few reasons that he'd been able to shake the drugs off.

Takato sat there, so deep in thought that he didn't even notice the door open behind him until he sprawled flat at the feet of a lanky, copper haired student about his age. The redhead was wearing a baggy pair of jeans and a t-shirt, with the logo of an internet café in downtown Osaka on it.

"I guess you're Suzuhara, then." Takato said from his prone position. "I'm Takato Kazega, your roommate."

The lanky teen stretched a hand out to help Takato up. "Yeah. Arashi Suzuhara at your service." He gave Takato an appraising look. "You know that semester starts in two days, right?"

Takato chuckled. "Yeah. This was the soonest I could get here. My parents threw a party to 'Celebrate my going off to college.'" He shook his head at his parents lack of consideraton. "The translation is 'You're outta here! Hooray!'"

Arashi whistled in amazement. "Sounds like you don't like your parents all that much."


"Well, come on in, and unpack. I'll introduce you to the denizens of Hikari Hall tomorrow."

"Hikari Hall?" Takato asked, sounding confused.

"It's our nickname for the place. You'll understand tomorrow." Arashi guided the stripe-haired teen into the room.

Before the door closed, Takato glanced out at the hall. Perhaps he would like it here. Perhaps not. He'd know better tomorrow.

Fin Chapter 2