A/N: (tears of joy) I did it! I uploaded the ninth chapter! I got to the ninth one! MWahaha, I am such a lazy person, this has been on hiatus for over a month... Oh well... At least it's back!

Oh yeah, and THANKS to all who waited and reviewed the previous chapters... I dedicate this chapter to all of you! And- for those (some) who asked, I am not THAT smart. Right now, I'm already 15, not 14 (just turned 15 last aug.22) and I'm in senior high school. First of all, this is the Philippines, not the States or Japan or anywhere else. We don't have junior high. It's like this:

nursery (1 year)
kindergarten (2 years)
elementary (6 years)
high school (4 years)
college (depends on what course you take)

That's how it is here in Pinas. Anyway , I have to admit ..I was accelerated from kinder 1 to grade 1...but that's no big deal.

OKAY THEN enough with the yakking! I'll have a proper response space on the next chapter (Probably will be out by next week) ... Until then, ONWARD WITH THE STORY!

Chapter 9 – Opening Windows

Aiya managed to squirm her way through the crowd of students flowing in the hallway. She looked at her wristwatch and bit back a groan. She was late for her next class! Pushing her long hair into the blue net cap she always wore, she set her teeth hard and nudged, elbowed, and shoved her way to reach classroom 104-C.

She reached the sliding wooden door, her breath coming in pants. Why do I feel as if this isn't the first time I've been late for a class? Grabbing her cap off her head, she quickly got out of her converse sneakers and got into the quaint slippers outside the door.

Whoosh (A/N: sound of the door sliding ... XD)

Aiya immediately felt 30 pairs of eyes glued to her the minute she stepped into the soft matting of her Kendo class. She took a quick glance around and felt a bit of relief when she saw Mimi already positioned on the far east of the traditionally styled room. Never mind the fact that I think she's a total snob, at least I know someone here.

Walking slowly across the room, she dropped her things on the floor and plopped down on the black mat. She made a quick survey of her surroundings. To her right sat a fat kid who looked like he's fall asleep any minute. In front of her was a pony-tailed girl whom she recognized as one of Mimi's circle of friends.

She transferred her eyes to her right, and found another pair staring back.

Aiya arched an eyebrow. "Whatcha staring at, punk?"

He seemed to have regained his senses and looked flustered for a moment, fiddling with his eyeglasses and twirling a straw colored strand of hair around his finger. "Ehrm..."

"What? Speak up. I don't bite."

"Uhm... I'm sorry if I stared or – something. But... are you Ms. Kazaki?"

"Yeah. So?"

The boy gulped and bit his lower lip, resuming to the act of fiddling with his eyeglasses again. "Ehrm... My name's Kirin... And I heard about the rumors, see –"

"What about these rumors?" Aiya's voice took on an edge of steel.

"Why, no no, I'm not saying anything about that! The fact is... Is it true that you're kind of... hanging around with the gaijin?"

Aiya looked at his blue eyes, her lips forming a small frown. "Why do you care, anyway?"

Kirin's eyes darted left and right nervously. Bending down uneasily towards Aiya, he murmured in a soft tone, "If you are, Aiya-san, then it's not a good idea. It'd be better if you stayed away from him."

Aiya shoved away from him, her face reflecting confusion. "What do you mean?"

Kirin crossed his legs uncomfortably and thumbed his collar. "Well... Uh… Things happened just before you arrived… And they weren't pretty."

"What things?" Aiya looked around for a moment, and seeing that their Kendo sensei was still absent, gazed seriously upon Kirin again.

"Uh, well… Things that were somehow associated with Josiah… He doesn't have a good reputation, you know."

"What things?!"

"Ehrm… Well, you see, just a month ago –"

Kirin quickly shut his mouth, his eyes darting to the bulky man who just came in. Aiya continued to look at him, trying to catch his eye. Her thoughts were once again troubled and ridiculed by slowly forming doubts. What is the matter with all these people? Why wouldn't they tell me the truth?!

But to no avail, Kirin stared continuously at the teacher throughout the whole period. And Aiya, left with no choice, finally sighed heavily and began to listen to the sensei as well.

-3:49 P.M., 8th District Kenji Drive, Tokyo City-

Yamato dropped the cigarette butt he was holding and placed his boot-clad foot on it, crushing the filter into pieces. He spitted once, twice, into an empty can by the deserted road before resuming to his watchful post.

Leaning back against his black, aged motorcycle, he eyed the desolate-looking warehouse once more. It wasn't big; in fact, it looked abandoned, weeds growing around the building and vines climbing the barbwire fence surrounding it.

But Yamato knew better than to believe the illusion it presented.

He had spent the past four years of his life watching this warehouse, observing the goings-on around the place.

He had spent four years keeping an eye on this building; always maintaining a low profile, hidden beneath the camouflage of the untamed shrubberies around the area.

Last week he had sensed tension in the place, a strange expectation. New armories were going to be shipped from the neighboring cities around Tokyo. Tons of shabu and marijuana might be present, too, for all he cared. And Yamato knew what that meant: the owner of the warehouse was going to be there to supervise the illegal transaction.

That was what he was waiting for.

A glimpse of the possessor of all these shady deals.

He'd seen him before; a tall and quite handsome man, probably in his mid forties. His workers and henchmen would always work in discreet. Always so careful as to not attract the attention of any civilians.

Yamato smirked from where he was, perched against his motorcycle. It always filled him with ill humor when he thought about this one man he had always spied on since his mother passed away. Ill humor and hate. No, maybe not hate; merely contempt.

Contempt for this man who had made his and his mother's life a living hell.

Unintentionally, maybe.

But it still bothered him.

Silently Yamato shook his head. When would he ever tire of this strange obsession; watching someone who didn't even know him. His mouth formed a mirthless smile as he thought of another thorn to his life: Josiah.

Josiah always took everything he wished to have.

A soft rustle in the distance made Yamato's head snap to the warehouse. A rusty 8-wheeler was creeping up to the shabby building, a few men in dusty coveralls were already gathering near the entrance. The truck finally stopped, and the door swung open. A tall man wearing a brown suit stepped down from the passenger's seat. His suit complemented his russet hair, and his violet eyes swept sharply across the uninhabited grounds.

Yamato edged closer to a vine covered corner, straining to hear the hushed conversation.

"...should be enough to suit their needs," the brown-haired man was saying to the another man whose eyes were downcast.

"Sir, are you sure this wouldn't leak again?"

"Of course, Harrison, we have a tight security, I assure you."

"But sir... What happened last month... That boy... He was barely out of-"

"Harrison, who's paying you? If I said we're safe, we're safe. Now get the shipment out of the truck and stock it in the warehouse. Don't worry about anything other than these equipments. You hear me?"

"...Yes, sir."

The older man nodded tersely, clapping the worker on the back. "Very well, then. I'll leave this to you, now, okay Harrison?" Harrison nodded in reply. "Good. I'll check back next week to make sure the deal falls through. As for what happened last month, let's forget it, eh? Unfortunate, yes, but unavoidable. It had to be done. I'm sure my son has learned well from that sad event though!"

A chuckle was heard and Yamato's fist tightened unconsciously from where he was crouching, hidden. Yes... It wouldn't have meant a thing to these...killers.

Yamato watched as the still chuckling man got into the truck again. There was a groan of metal against metal as the trunk of the vehicle was opened. Three men climbed up the rear and shortly emerged carrying several duffel bags stacked on each other. The bags were carried inside the warehouse; and this process repeated for a few more times until the steel door was closed once again.

There was a moment of silence; then the roar of the engine as it revved up. Yamato followed the truck with his eyes until it disappeared from his sight, curving around the desolate area.

Standing up slowly, Yamato shrugged his leather jacket off and mounted his bike. He had sacrificed a half-day of school to witness the event, and right then he wasn't feeling too good. He had a strange feeling...as if something wrong would just happen.

He slid a hand into his pants; feeling around for his keys. His fingers touched his cell phone. Slipping it out of his pocket, he glanced at the message it showed onscreen.

"Another challenge, eh?"

He returned it to his pocket and started the motorcycle. Another random guy had challenged him to a motorcycle race; no rules. Morons, they never know when to quit.

Well, good thing I'm in a foul mood. Perfect way to cool off.

Sniggering softly, Yamato stepped on the accelerator and rode into the city, following the tracks marked on the grimy road, the dust blowing around him as he sped off.

-Back in Kendo class with Aiya-

"Okay then. Students, I want you to face your partners. At the count of three, you will begin practicing the moves we have learned this afternoon."

The kendo sensei stepped into the middle of the room, his right arm held up, four fingers lifted into a readying position. He nodded to the students already arranged and anxious to fight.

"Okay then? One…two…three!"

In a blink of an eye, each pupil lunged at their partners.


Aiya quickly stepped to the right, dodging the wooden bouken. She glanced up at her opponent, looking for a possible weakness. Seeing her enemy's stomach unguarded, Aiya crouched and aimed her own bouken upwards.


Her sword clashed against her foe's. The boy smirked at her for a split second before he thrust his sword once more, aiming for Aiya's left arm. Aiya sidestepped and avoided it.

"You're good," her opponent panted, backing a few steps. He got into an attack position, his bouken held firmly in his right hand and his left arm cradling the shaft, his knees bent slightly. The young man broke into a smug smile. "But of course, I'm better."

Aiya regarded him with a careless look. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and shrugged indifferently. "Whatever."

Her opponent charged at her, his sword pointed for her chest. Aiya ducked beneath the length of it, splaying her left hand on the mat for leverage. Moving quickly, she swung her right leg and brought it against the back of her adversary's knee. She savored the look of surprise on the boy's face before bringing her bouken up, smashing it against his stomach.

Her adversary grunted in pain and fell down to the cushioned floor, defeated. Stepping on the fallen boy's chest lightly, Aiya raised her sword and pointed it down at her foe's chin.

"Nobody messes with me," she muttered, "Don't you think that just because I ain't a pure-blooded Jap like you, I'm someone to pick on." She bent down slowly and grinned innocently down at the astonished boy's face.

"You disgust me," she said lightly, finally releasing her classmate and helping him stand up. She shook her head mentally. Kendo class is easy, especially since these dopes don't even know how to strike with a wooden staff!

Aiya swept her gaze around the room. Boys and girls were fighting each other with bamboo swords, most of which were slashed without even a bit of gracefulness in the act. Pweh.

Aiya pushed her long tresses behind her ear as she smoothed the crease on the school dojo's white kendo uniform. She was still puzzled over Kirin's statements earlier, and she was itching to get out of the classroom and bug Josiah to death.

The sensei told them to head off to the showers to freshen up, and Aiya was only too glad to get out of the classroom. Trudging outside to the shower area, Aiya filed behind the students who got there before her and waited impatiently for her chance in the showers.

(unknown's P.o.v.)

They're all in the showers. I can't believe my luck.

Looking around the kendo classroom I searched for the familiar black sling bag. I grinned to myself when I saw it on the matting on the far side of the room. This is too easy.

I quickly approached the bag and began to shuffle through the things. Interesting. I took out a black notebook with a picture of a skateboarder and flipped through the pages. Nothing. I rummaged through the contents f the bag and took out some items hastily.


Net cap.

Hand towel.

Math textbook.

Gr… Where is it when you need it?

Then suddenly my hand stilled as I found it. Her wallet. I quickly opened it and smirked at the green-eyed girl sulking in the wallet picture. I flipped through the wad of dollars in the pocket and finally dug in for her school I.D.

I laughed softly, feeling a sense of triumph at my discovery. Block 8 Lot 14, Harvest Subdivision, Tokyo City.

"Well, well, Aiya Kazaki… Looks like you're gonna have an unexpected visitor tonight…"

I spared another moment to relish the small victory, already playing my plan inside my head. Hearing my classmates entering the classroom, back from the showers, I quickly stuffed Aiya's things inside her bag and stood up.

Tonight… Tonight I'm gonna show you, Aiya… No one. No one crosses my path.

A/n: SO, how was it? Tell me in your reviews...Once again, I'm sorry for the delay!


also: Yamato and Josiah have been sketched. Check 'em out in my profile and tell me what you think. Thanks!