+ Into the Façade +

In the world where the boundaries between acting and living fade, life becomes confused… unreal… and almost as if imagination had taken over reality… The façade goes into place and life then becomes a living stage.

He was scared, extremely nervous, yet nothing in his actions gave away the turmoil he was feeling inside…

Low echoing footsteps walked aimlessly down the hallway, unsure and uncertain. Brilliant golden eyes scanned every one of the few doors he passed by, seemingly bored. And occasionally, a yawn would escape from his lips.

As he glanced up to the path before him, he realized light was flooding in through an opening in the endless walls further down the hallway. In a few moments, he had rounded the corner and the sight that lay before him made him halt in his steps. Despite how tensed he may be, yet, with barely concealed delight, he padded into the deserted area, eyes sweeping across the straight lines of lockers which covered the pearly white walls. At the far corner, a grand stairway led up to the upper floors. And with almost childlike joy, he reached forward and brushed his fingers along the metallic coolness of the school lockers.


Ryoma's heart skipped a bit, his eyes widening as he quickly brought his fingers away from the now chilly touch of the lockers. There was a brief moment of silence as the tense air surrounding them swirl every so slightly as if the air-conditioning had ceased action. A slight chill ran down his spine as the familiar voice triggered memories buried deep beneath layers after layers pain and anguish. There was a sudden sharp intake of breath from the person standing behind him, which only succeeded in making Ryoma feel all the more worse as nerves that were forgotten during his long walk here now returned in fuller force; well-rehearsed lines completely disappeared from wherever he had stored them.

With agonizing slowness, Ryoma turned around, half desperate to keep his overflowing confusion and emotions under control, the other half tempting him to run far away from this school and never return. But he was frozen in place by the familiar face which stared back into his own, dark eyes solemn and slightly moist, as if tears were threatening to fall.

"Ryoma?" The voice repeated again, shaky but louder this time.

A nod was all Ryoma did to confirm what the person… no… his father was asking him. He was too numb to do anything more.

His father cleared his throat. "Well, come on in then…" His shaky voice was suddenly replaced by a firmer, more professional tone, fully showing a person highly educated and very proficient yet somewhat resigned to what had been thrust before his eyes. But Ryoma silently marveled at the change his father had gone through- from a man who used to sit around the house, ringing the temple bells, to a principal of a well-known acting academy. Of course, he had too much bitterness to ever admit that.

Off-handedly taking note that he had passed the office, his original destination, after rounding the corner, he followed his father on still unsteady legs, nodding slightly at the secretary who greeted him when he passed.

Entering the comfy office, Ryoma sank down into a large crimson armchair, grateful for its presence to sooth his disorganized feelings as he waited for his father to start talking.

Nanjiroh took his seat and stared at his son. Almost subconsciously, his eyes darted to Ryoma's left wrist, remembering in pain what had happened that fateful day five years ago. Pushing that aside, Nanjiroh interlocked his fingers, placing his chin upon them thoughtfully. He briefly ran through what was needed to say before voicing them aloud, knowing his son was not much of a patient person- at least, from what he remembered.

"Ryoma, do you have any experience in acting?" Nanjiroh cringed inwardly. If he had been with Ryoma, he would definitely know all this.

A nod. "I was in the English drama club in my old school. Under my teacher's recommendation, she decided to send me to this acting school to improve my talent further, or as she put it, lest it goes to waste letting it lie stagnant." The tone was awkward, like it was rehearsed to the point that its only flaw was that it was too perfect. Yet his voice remained cold and critical, emotions concealed behind a well-constructed wall.

Nanjiroh nodded, feeling small in the overbearing presence his son was emitting.

Voices started filtering into the room from the large hall outside, signaling the arrival of the students for another day of school. There was a knock on the door just before it opened, revealing a tall, lanky, dark-haired male.

"Yo Mr Principal." The male grinned. "So is this the person?" He tilted his head to where Ryoma was sitting.

Nanjiroh nodded, grinning back easily. Apparently, the heavy tension that saturated the air has dispersed with the arrival of this newcomer. Ryoma studied them. It seems to him this spiky hair guy would be his tour guide for the day.

"Echizen Ryoma, this is Momoshiro Takeshi. He would be guiding you around the school on your first day. I hope you enjoy your years here at Erinnerungen Acting School." And with this, Nanjiroh passed an envelope to Ryoma. "Inside that is all the information you need- you classes and such."

Ryoma nodded and turned to Momoshiro, who was standing dumbfounded at the door. You could nearly see the wheels spinning in his head.

"Mr Principal… why is it you and Echizen have the same surname?"

Nanjiroh was taken aback, never thinking that such a question would arise. Caught in a dilemma, his eyes swiftly searched for an answer in his son's features, but finding none.

"A coincidence."

Nanjiroh was shocked when Ryoma suddenly spoke, startling him back to reality.

Momoshiro face turned grim for a moment, as if knowing something was amiss but the expression was gone as quick as it came.

"Ok Echizen. We should get started if we want to get this done by second period."

Ryoma merely shrugged and followed Momoshiro out through the door.

Chapter 001- The Newcomer

By fannychan

The duo emerged into the already crowded hall, which had been empty just before he went into his father's office. Checking his watch, he realized an hour had indeed came and went since the moment he stepped into Erinnerugen.

"So Echizen, should we start exploring the ground floor first?"

Before Ryoma could reply, a voice intruded into their conversation.

"Momo! Another one eh? Echizen-sensei must really thinks you are the best one for the job." There was a hint of amusement and mock disbelief in his voice.

"What? You think I not up to it Eiji?" Momoshiro huffed indignantly.

Eiji laughed and turned to go. "Who knows? Oh well, I got to meet Oishi! See you later! Hey new student!"

Ryoma stared emotionlessly at the scene played before him, something that Momoshiro found a little unnerving.

"Let's go to see the auditorium first. If I'm not wrong, the best class in third year should be there, rehearsing for their performance which would take place next week during assembly. Everyone's really looking forward to it." Momoshiro told Ryoma as he guided him out of the hall.

As they walked back down the long, familiar stretch of corridor, Momoshiro stopped in front one of the double doors Ryoma had noticed on his way in. A gold plated sign glinted on one of the two doors, stating clearly that this was the auditorium in neat black letterings.

Pushing open the door slightly, just enough so they can peek in, Ryoma caught a glimpse of the rehearsal in action. What he saw astounded him. On stage, a group of actors were performing a love scene between the two figures on stage, the female of the couple weeping miserably with her back towards them. Yet, despite the fact that this was not something new to Ryoma, there was something in the way they carried themselves on the stage that just makes it seem so real, that their characters were not merely fiction characters but real living people- especially so for the weeping female.

"This play they are acting is about a brother who is in search of his long lost twin, to fill up the void he felt inside him. However, after just starting his mission, there was a hearsay that his brother was already dead. Not wanting to believe this, the protagonist, hired a detective familiar with the works of the underworld which was where he thinks his brother is. After many years of searching along with researching, they finally found his brother only to have him die in a car accident when he dashed across the road to escape from them. However, the detective and the protagonist had fallen in love during their days together. Besides this, both are male. So it was a happy ending after all, when the protagonist realize that the void was not for his brother to fill, but his lover…"

"Both… are male? That brown haired person there is a male?"

Momoshiro seemed startled by the question. "Oh right, you don't know. The girls in our school make up the minority. In fact, I think only an eighth of them are females. So, to make it fair, Mr Principal decided that the females would always be the directors for every play as well as the script writers. However, their co-workers could be males. Anyway, it seems that girls especially love this kind of pairings and along with the principal's soft spot for girls, he allows these plays to take place."

Sighing, Momoshiro pointed to the 'female' that had caught Ryoma's immediate attention.

"That is Fuji Syusuke, the best actor in our school, both in plays and in real life. You can never know what is going on inside him, though sooner or later, you should get used to him. Let me warn you though- the last person who had researched extensively on his background ended up killed in an accident. It was a gory scene but was ruled as accidental death. But since then, everyone became very wary of Fuji inwardly but Fuji is very kind so none of them really avoided him. Besides that, he IS the best actor and the fact that he looks so feminine that makes him attractive to both the male and female population does not help the situation one bit. So it's natural that he's popular. However, I do pity him on one aspect. It seems he is always dragged into this kind of plays and happens to be playing one of the two parties involved in the homosexual relationship. As for me, I'm very lucky since the plays I'm in usually have me as those unimportant characters or the supporting casts but never one of the parties involved."

They watched for a while more. It turns out Fuji was acting the part whereby another lead to his brother, Riore, turns out to be another dead end and Tensuke, the detective, was comforting him.

Momoshiro suddenly burst into laughter, muffled only by the hand which was wrapped around his lips, tears of joy spilling out of his eyes. Quickly ushering Ryoma out of the auditorium, Momoshiro closed the door and he immediately he tittered over in laughter, much to Ryoma's bemusement.

"I'm sorry… sorry…" Momoshiro said admist his laughter. "It is just that for a brief moment, I imagined you to be acting Tensuke and I think you and Fuji would be quite fitting together- pretty boy with another pretty boy."

Ryoma narrowed his eyes when he finally realized that Momoshiro was actually mocking him.

Huffing indignantly, Ryoma stalked past Momoshiro angrily. "Hmph, see if I care if you die laughing."

After walking a while, Ryoma heard a shout that still seems to hold back laughter. "Echizen! You are going the wrong way!" And laughter spilled out again, magnified by the close walls of the corridor much to Ryoma's embarrassment. By now, his cheeks were already tinted pink as he turned to head back to where Momoshiro was waiting for him, finally able to suppress his laughter despite his lips which was curled up in amusement.

"I'll now take you around to the upper levels. Quick, we don't have much time left."

The pair then made their way back to the hall just as a head popped from between the doors of the auditorium, looking curiously at Ryoma's fading figure.

The bell rang just as they entered the hall. Students who were still leaning on lockers, happily chatting now scurried up the grand stairway to their classroom, one or two of them occasionally saying a word of greeting to Momoshiro as they dashed towards the stairs while others kept dropping books in their haste.

The pair waited till everyone had gone up and the hall was deserted.

"Aren't we going up too?"

"No wait… I have this feeling I'm forgetting something very important…"

At that moment, the school cleaner happened to pass by. "Oh Takeshi! Lucky you're still here. Miyo is having a rampage saying how you wasted her efforts by not collecting your breakfast from he…"

Immediately, Momoshiro had breezed past the cleaner into the double door situated near the office.

The cleaner sighed and was startled when he saw Ryoma, as if noticing him for the first time.

"Are you new here? Well I guess so if not Takeshi won't forget his meal. He's always like that when he has to bring a new student around." The cleaner chuckled. "There was once he totally forgotten about it and had pleaded with his teacher to get it during third period. If my memory does not fail me, it had caused quite a commotion- the whole second level had came out to see what it was about as Takeshi tried to dashed out of the classroom with the teacher angrily holding onto his arm. It was a funny sight but it seemed that that hungry boy will always get his food and so he did."

Echizen took this in, silently deducing that the place where Momoshiro entered could only be the cafeteria.

Momoshiro returned at that moment, a large bulky bag slung over his shoulder.

"Ah, I feel so much better. Let's go Echizen!"

Though baffled by the strangeness of this new school, he resigned himself to the fact nothing his father control could be anywhere near sane. And with that, they finally headed up the stairs.

"So what made you want to join this school?"

"I was forced to enter Erinnerugen," Ryoma replied bitterly and Momoshiro wisely chose not to comment as the pair proceeded up in complete silence.

Just as they stepped onto the second landing, a shrill ring filled the air.

"Ah! It's already second period! I guess I took much more time than I thought getting my food… Ok, I'll cut things down. This floor is where all the classrooms are, from year 1 to 4. The third floor is where most of the facilities are located. The fourth floor of this stairway is the top of the school. I think you will get to know more about Erinnerugen as time goes by. See you later during break which is fifth period! Bye Echizen!"

Ryoma blinked, confused, as Momoshiro dashed to a room labeled '3-B', slamming the door behind him. It was then did he become conscious of the envelope still clutched in his palm. Tearing off the seal, he studied its contents, half grateful that the classrooms were in chronological order thus not that difficult to find. Sure enough, he was in front of classroom '2-A' and knocked softly before pushing it open and peering inside.

He watched the bespectacled teacher walk towards him, smiling.

"Okay class. It looks like the new student has arrived. Would you come in and introduce yourself?"

Ryoma inclined his head slightly and pushed the door open, carrying himself with dignity and grace.

"My name is Echizen Ryoma. I hope you would guide me through my days here," Ryoma greeted, bowing low.

"Good… now you can sit… wait a minute. Echizen, are you by any chance related to Echiz…"

Ryoma gave a piercing, pointed glare at the teacher, the gold of his eyes flashing more brilliantly than what it had been initially and the teacher was immediately frozen in mid-speech.

Quickly regaining his composure, he went on to direct Ryoma to his seat, which was beside the person Ryoma recognized as the one who greeted Momoshiro that morning… Eiji, he thinks.

"Hello Echizen. My name is Kikumaru Eiji. Nice to meet you!" Ryoma sat down, tilting his head to acknowledge the greeting. He seems friendly enough compared to the others… Ryoma thought as he slowly took in the mutterings around him, which he concluded, were concerning his relationship with the principal, or if there was one at all. He had expected this- the moment he heard the head of this school was Echizen Nanjiroh, he had half the mind to reject his teacher's offer so harshly that she would never bring up the subject again but his mother stopped him and immediately agreed to his teacher's proposal much to his surprise.

So here he was, being the main talk of the newest gossip in school. It was unavoidable he guess. Immediately he diverted his attention to the teacher whom he just realized was teaching English. In his opinion, it was extremely mind-boggling why an acting school will still teach anything besides acting. Giving another soft suffering sigh, he gazed at his desk, idly wishing he was on stage, performing, giving a fictional character life just like that class who are in the auditorium, especially that boy with the light brown hair and almost feminine features- Fuji Syusuke.

The bell finally rang, signaling the end of English Period. One more period to lunch. Ryoma watched the students in his class placed their books beneath their desks, and noticed his lack of any. Pushing back his chair, he took out his timetable and spread it on his desk.

"You know Echizen, I'll be more than happy to supply the answers to whatever questions you have." Eiji spoke up from beside him.

Ryoma eyed Eiji curiously, but the red haired boy failed to reveal anything besides his kind face and wide smile.

"Okay…" Ryoma hesitated before returning to look at the paper spread before him. He felt weird. It seems everyone here was living behind a façade. The most open person he met so far was Momoshiro Takeshi. Kikumaru Eiji seems to hide something, something Ryoma was unable to pinpoint exactly. And what's more, there is Fuji Syuusuke.

Ryoma propped his head on his elbows, eyes not even acknowledging the teacher when she came into class. His mind was too preoccupied with more puzzling matters than the intricacies of algebra.

Is everyone like me- someone hiding behind inner turmoil and anguish of the past, with nothing but his soul to hide…

Rolling this thought in his mind, he immediately dismissed it as wild thinking. As if there was such a thing. Ryoma laughed mentally. I'm just too sensitive.

Giving a sideway glance at Eiji, he found the red-head staring at him instead. Startled, he directed his gaze fully towards him which managed to divert Eiji's attention to the teacher instead. Puzzled, he returned to back to his own thoughts. Now what was that for… He gave a last glance towards Eiji before continuing on his musing for the rest of the day till the lunch bell rang.

"Good job everyone," A male commented, stretching.

"Oh? It's lunch already?" Another person remarked, glancing at her watch. "That's fast."

There was a silent smile as soft footsteps slowly walked away from the crowd just as the shrill ring of the lunch bell vibrated the air.

Ryoma walked through the crowded cafeteria looking for an empty spot. Finding one at the very corner, he placed his tray on the table, sitting down before looking up to find his father heading his way.

However, just a table away from his own, Nanjiroh changed his course to Momoshiro, who was eating his lunch with Eiji and another person Ryoma did not know.

Inwardly rolling his eyes at his father's cowardice, he turned his concentration to his meal only to find someone standing next to him. Glancing up, golden irises met a smillng face, framed by shoulder-length brown hair.

"Echizen… Ryoma right?"

Ryoma gasped when the face connected with the name he just learnt earlier in the day- Fuji Syusuke.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Ryoma, Fuji or anyone from POT . … /sniff/ No matter how much I wanted to… hehe… but I do have plushies haha… /huggles Ryoma and Fuji plushies/

Fanny chan: Hey all! This is my very first attempt on a POT fic as well as a shounen-ai fic. May I add this is the longest chapter I wrote so far… I think… /giggles/ But I hope it meets your expectations. I'm not sure about my grammar since recently I've been criticized for my grammar and once for a disorganized fic. So I hope this one is ok... Please read and review so I would know how to correct my work.

Chibi chan: Hai hai! I hope you would continue reading this. Remember to read and review. Every comment would be taken into consideration including constructive criticisms. But flames will be completely ignored. /hmph/ But anyway, if you're here, I'm /glare from fanny chan/ umm… /cough cough/ we're already extremely grateful.

Fanny chan/cough/ I want to clarify that chibi chan is my muse and not the other way around. She always gets confused on this matter.

Chibi chan/teary-eyed/ Hidoi ne fanny chan! Anyway R&R!