Disclaimer: I do not own Shaman King

CHAPTER ONE – New Student

"Class, we have a new exchange student. This is Tao Ren, he comes from China. I want you all to make him feel welcome and comfortable." Silva droned at the front of the classroom.

Horo Horo looked up in interest. It wasn't every day they got a new student in Funbari High; mostly because it was too far out in the suburbs. His eyes fell on a bored-looking boy a little short for his age. His hair was dark purple and set in a tall spike in the back. It looked soft, shiny and silky, like in shampoo commercials. His eyes were cat-like and yellow; seeming to pierce everything he looked at.

He wore black pants that hung loosely at his hips and a black sleeveless shirt with yellow lining that allowed teasing glimpses of his midriff when he moved or breathed. A black backpack was slung over one shoulder and his hands were jammed into his pockets. He fixed a hard glare on the class and sat in the only available seat, to Horo's left.

"Hey, how are you? I'm Horo." Horo whispered to him. He glanced over and grunted dismissively.

"So, you're Ren, right?" he asked, unperturbed. Ren nodded curtly, his attention still forward.

"You came from China?" he attempted again. Ren rolled his eyes.

"Great..." Horo said and faced forward.

Hours inched by and finally it was lunch time. All the students flooded out of the room happily; all but one, that is. Ren slowly put his things into his bag, taking his time. Horo was about to step out when he caught sight of the lone figure. He hesitated for a moment as he watched.

"Hey, Ren, you want to eat lunch with me and my friends?" he asked with a grin. Ren looked up at him blankly as if to say, 'What do you think?'

"Oh... I guess not... See you later, then..." he mumbled and jogged out.

'Why do I feel like I need to be nice to that jerk?' he wondered as he sat with his friends; Hao, Jeanne, Lyserg, Ryu, Chocolove, Yoh, Anna, Tamao, Manta, Macchi, Mari, Kanna, and his sister who was still a freshman, Pilika.

"Horo, where's your lunch?" Jeanne asked curiously. Horo was puzzled for a moment before realization dawned on him.

"Oh, crap! I left my lunch at home! Damnit!" he yelled, and inched his way to the empty lunch line. He bought his lunch and sat staring at it.

"Is it just me, or did that move on its own two seconds ago?" he asked, pointing to one of the supposed foods.

"What was that? Road kill?" Hao asked.

"Is that even edible?" Jeanne asked.

"Eww, it looks like it's still alive!" Lyserg remarked.

"That is an insult to the cooking industry!" Ryu exclaimed.

"What are they calling it?" Yoh asked.

"This is called meat loaf surprise. I think the surprise is that they never killed it." Horo answered with a sigh.

"Well, at least you're not the only one eating their food. Look." Yoh said, gesturing to the line, where Ren was wrinkling his nose as they served him the same slop. They all watched in interest, however, as he began an outburst, ranting about the quality of the food.

"What the hell was this? Excuse me, but I prefer having my food dead before I receive it! Some compliment to the food industry you are, I could teach a monkey to cook better than this in one hour! You expect me to pay good money for something I could go out and scrape off the sidewalk! This isn't even fit for the pigs!" he shouted loud enough for the whole cafeteria to hear him. Now they all looked up from their lunches as he ranted and raved about the food, pointing out every possible flaw in it.

"Who are you to come in here and diss my cooking!" the lunch lady asked, enraged.

"I am Ren of the Tao family, and I do not eat disgusting scum like this!" he yelled proudly.

"You arrogant, self-centered bastard! I'm calling your parents, what do you think of that? And the principal will also be hearing of this, too!" she smiled triumphantly.

"Who gives a damn! He can't do anything about it! It's my freedom of speech to give my opinion! On top of all that, my father is the superintendent of all the schools in this country, so I'd think twice about that!" he smirked arrogantly.

"You think you could do better!" she asked dangerously.

"If that was a challenge, I know I can cook better than this filth!" he snorted.

"Fine! Come back here and try!" she shouted.

"Bring it on!" he accepted. He jumped over the counter easily and stalked into the kitchen. A few seconds later, all the students were crowded around in anticipation as the cook-off began. Not only was Ren's cooking better quality, but he was also faster and more efficient, and soon he had popped out enough pizza for the entire school to have a slice and made a typical Chinese dish of eggrolls and dumplings stuffed with shrimp.

"...Ok, so maybe you can cook better and faster than us, but what are we supposed to do about it?" the woman asked angrily. He looked up from his meal.

"Learn how to cook, and in the meantime let me cook my own meals." he said simply.

"Fine...brat." she grumbled.

"I heard that." he said as he walked briskly to his next class. Horo Horo and the others headed that direction as the first bell rang.

"Wow, who is that kid?" Lyserg asked in wonder.

"Even I felt intimidated by him, and that's saying a lot." Hao remarked.

"God, you're so full of yourself! How does your head fit through doors?" Anna asked angrily.

"Yeah, your ego's so big; I'm amazed it's not attached to you somehow in the form of an extra limb!" Jeanne said.

"Anyway, what's up with that Ren guy? Has he got a stick up his ass or what?" Pilika said loudly.

"Pilika! Not so loud!" Horo hissed at her, though he had no idea why he was defending the tiger-eyed kid. After all, he barely knew him, and what he did know wasn't good. They reached his next class and he said goodbye to his sister, Mari, Macchi, Kanna, Jeanne, and Chocolove. He stepped into the music room to find his normal seat in the back left corner occupied by the very Chinese teen he'd been thinking about.

"Excuse me, but that's my seat. Please move." he said politely, eager to put their brief conversation behind them.

"Your seat?" Ren echoed, his eyes set in a death glare.

"Yes, my seat." he repeated.

"This seat has not got your name on it. You have not got a receipt for this seat. No one gave it to you. There are no assigned seats in music class. Therefore, with all these facts backing me, I believe I can safely say this is not your seat. I'm not moving, so fuck off." he stated, crossing his arms in defiance.

"Well, where am I supposed to sit?" Horo asked, frowning.

"Don't know, don't care, but there's a free seat in the front." he informed him.

"Boys, do we have a problem?" the teacher asked.

Horo turned around and was greeted with a shockingly beautiful woman with green hair. She wore a black shirt with a white skull on it and a long skirt that was black, save for a long green dragon that twisted about it. Its high slit allowed much of her leg to be seen, and the boys were already drooling over her. Her violet eyes pierced through Horo as she waited expectantly.

"Uh...not at all, miss." he said, and scampered to the front quickly.

"I am Ms. Tao Jun. I have come from China and I will be your music teacher for as long as I'm here. You may all call me Miss Jun, or just plain Jun. I plan to know each of you on a more personal level, and I trust you can come to me for anything from help on homework to love advice.

This month in China, they celebrate the Chinese New Year, so I thought it would be fun to learn some about China and its culture, and also its music. I will be bringing in some Chinese instruments for you all tomorrow, so today we will simply find out about each other and how much you know about China already." she announced to the class. A few of the students around Ren began to chuckle.

"Hey Ren, did you bring your mommy to school? Are you scared of high school, so you have to hold mommy's hand? If she's a miss, then you must be her bastard child and she must be a whore!" Hao teased in baby talk.

"She's my sister, and you're the bastard." he answered in baby talk mockingly.

"You little son of a bitch! Say that to my face!" he yelled, standing. Ren jumped up easily.

"I just said it to your face, moron! But if you'd like a repeat, I said, She's my sister and you're a bastard!" he shouted angrily.

"Ren Tao, you get over here this instant! I will not have you two fighting in my class!" Jun snapped, and Ren obediently stalked to the front.

Hao started laughing until she added, "You, too, Hao Asakura! I know Ren doesn't normally start fights on his own!" he stepped forward sheepishly. She dragged them into the hall.

"What the hell was that, Ren! You do not go around insulting people and picking fights over seats!" she snapped again once the door was shut.

"He was soiling your good name! It was a matter of honor!" he growled in his own defense.

"That's no excuse! And you! Leave my otouto (1) alone, unless you find the principal's office extremely interesting! Both of you will be serving detention with Mr. Silva this afternoon!" she sighed and walked back in to restore order to her classroom. Just before Hao stepped in, however, a hand snatched his wrist and twisted it painfully behind his back, another hand clamped over his mouth.

"If you dare sully my sister's pure name or the name of any other Tao again, I swear, you'll lose a lot more than one hour of your time and I will make it my personal mission to hunt you down and do worse than murder you." a voice snarled in his ear. He was then released and they both entered the room again. Horo Horo watched intently as Ren stamped over to his desk and plopped down and Hao followed him a bit shakily, rubbing his arm lightly.

After class, Horo Horo found himself drawn to the teacher's desk. "Yes, Horokeu, may I help you?" she asked kindly.

"Uh, yeah. See, I just wanted to tell you that Ren really didn't do anything bad. Hao was teasing him that you were his mother, and he didn't react, so he called you a whore, and Ren went nutso on him. So, he doesn't deserve a detention." he said.

"Look, I think I know how to manage my class and my brother." she said, her smile vanishing.

"But that's not fair to him!" he yelled.

"Don't you raise your voice to me! Who are you to him that you feel the need to speak up for him when he's not speaking up for himself?" she asked, accusing eyes on him.

"Well, if he won't speak, someone should! I'm his friend!" he said indignantly.

"You? A scrawny number like you are my brother's friend? He doesn't have friends, and if he did, they wouldn't look like you. Now you can go ahead and join your friend in detention today." she said, looking him up and down.

'Damnit. Why did I do that? And since when am I his friend?' he thought to himself.

Horo's next class held no events worth noting, mostly because the alluring Tao did not share this class with him. However, he continuously found his mind wandering back to the attractive Chinese, like a fly to the light.

'Geez, I'm like a fly with the light! I just can't stop thinking about him! C'mon, Horo! Just focus on something else! Umm... yeah, food... I like pizza. Ren made a lot of pizza at lunch... Doh! Crap, I'm thinking about him again! Maybe he'll sit with us tomorrow at lunch. I wonder what she meant by, he doesn't have any friends. Maybe I should try being nicer to him. I'll talk to him in detention. Maybe we just started out on the wrong foot.' Horo smiled thoughtfully and eagerly awaited detention.