"Alright, settle down everyone. I have an important announcement for you all." The teacher said, and the class started to settle down into their seats, from the sound of it. I was standing in the hall, waiting for the teacher to call me in. I tried pulling down the odd contraption that was my skirt, simultaneously pulling up my thick white stockings and quickly gave up. Instead, I smoothed my shoulder blade length, salt-and-pepper hair down, trying to get rid of the small frizz.

"Now class, I would like to introduce you to your new class mate, Aomori Shokora." The teacher waved to me from behind her desk, signaling me in with a smile. Slowly, I complied, walking into the room to stand next to the teacher's desk. "Please welcome her and be sure to be kind. Here, let's start with an introduction." She nodded to me.

I took a breath and smiled. "Hello, I am Aoromi Shokora. This is my third school so far this year, but I would like to try and stay here. I can't do that, though, without your help." I bowed. "Please take good care of me."

"Well," the teacher said, pleased, as I straightened up, "Let's comply to her request. You can sit at the desk behind Ichigo. Ichigo?"

"Here!" A girl with dark red hair said, raising her hand.

I nodded and walked back towards her, avoiding the stares from the other students.

"Well class, I'll go get some supplies for our new student. Please be quiet while I'm gone." The teacher said, rushing out of the room.

I watched, humorously, as the class instantly shot up out of their seats and grouped together. They whispered behind hands, throwing looks my way every now and then. Unconsciously, I smoothed my hair down again and sank lower in my seat.

Two girls, though, stayed in their seats and turned towards me. "Hi, I'm Ichigo. Shokora, is it? That's a nice name."

I smiled. "Ichigo is interesting as well."

She smiled in return. "And this is Lettuce." She said, looking toward the other girl who had stayed seated as well. She had dark green hair, tied in the back by two long braids, and round wire glasses.

I nodded towards her.

"So, are you doing anything after school?"

I thought for a moment. "I have to take care of some paperwork, but after that, nothing."

Ichigo bit her lip and looked at Lettuce. "Well, meet us at the front gate when you're done. I think I know a place we can go and get to know each other."

I couldn't resist the smile that grew on my face. "That sounds like a lot of fun."

"Teacher!" A male student who stood by the door hissed, and everyone in the class quickly took their seats, pulling out textbooks and notebooks to make it look like they had been studying the whole time.

The teacher walked in, a proud look on her face as she took in the studying class, and walked over to give me my new textbooks. "Looks like you might be able to have your wish." She whispered to me with a wink. "Now class," She said aloud, "Turn to page 74 in your English book, and we'll go over nouns."

The rest of the day went by pretty fast, and I had lunch with Ichigo and Lettuce, our desks pushed together to make a little circle. After class, I quickly went down to the main office to finish up the paperwork, but it still took a good half hour.

I was running in an attempt to shorten the distance between the front gate and myself, and ended up gasping for air, bent in half in front of a giggling Lettuce and Ichigo. "Sorry, for the wait." I rasped, when I found my voice.

Lettuce shook her head, "It's not a problem. We just got here about five minutes ago, so we weren't waiting long."

"Good." I sighed, breathing easier. I bent over to pull up my stockings. "That makes me feel better."

"I've meant to ask, why do you wear those stockings when it's so warm out?" Ichigo asked, after we had started to walk away from the school.

I felt my shoulders stiffen and quickly rolled my shoulders to loosen them. "I think I'm cold blooded," I joked, "I'm never warm unless I'm just lying in the sun."

We all laughed at my joke and started talking about school, boys and homework, until Ichigo and Lettuce suddenly turned onto the walkway leading to a large building. I squinted my eyes, trying to look up at the building past the sun. When the shade of a tree cast a shadow over me I gasped. It was a large, pink castle like structure that was decorated with varying shades of pink. I was going to ask what this place was, but an odd feeling of being drawn to the building made me walk silently in. I followed Ichigo and Lettuce through the doors, into a room similar to the outside of the building. Walking forward, I circled around, looking from tables to windows, curtains and laces.

I quickly turned to look at the two smiling girls, walking backwards. "This place is amazing! What is- Hey!" I turned around suddenly to see what I ran into, but got my legs tangled around each other and lost my balance. Twisting, I braced my arms out to catch myself, but strong arms caught me around the waist and held me suspended a foot from the floor.

With a huff, I was pulled up into a standing position, and turned around. A tall blond was standing over me, looking through crystal blue eyes into my own smoky gray ones. "You're, a lot heavier than you look." He said, smiling crookedly.

I felt my face explode into a hot blush. "It's called muscle, and I'm sure you say that to all the girls." I sneered.

"He said it to me." Ichigo whispered to Lettuce with a laugh.

"Anyway, who are you?" I asked, propping a fist on my hip.

He raised an eyebrow, but said, "Shirogame Ryo, owner of Mew Mew Cafe. And their employer." He pointed a finger at the two girls. "Which reminds me, aren't we opening in five minutes? Why aren't you two dressed?" He accused.

"Follow us." Ichigo said quickly, pulling me into a side room after Lettuce. It was a locker room, with full length lockers.

"So you work here? Just you two?" I asked, sitting on one of the low benches.

"No," Lettuce said, untying her neck bow, "There are three others, but they're not here yet."

"And you open in five minutes?" I asked, repeating what Ryo had said.

Ichigo made a face at me and just rolled her eyes. "He's just a big worry wart. Besides, the tables are all set up and I'm sure Keiichiro has already started to prepare today menu."

I sat up a little straighter. "There's food?" I asked, excitedly.

Lettuce laughed. "Of course there is. This is a cafe."

For the first time I really looked at what the two were putting on and noticed they were waitress uniforms, corresponding to their hair hair color. "What kinds of people come here?" I asked, watching as Lettuce tied an apron around her waist and Ichigo adjusted a frilly head piece.

"Mainly students like us. It's perfect to hear about anything unnatural that's been going on." Ichigo said, like she had said it many times already.

"Unnatural? Like what?" I asked, pulling my knees up on the bench.

"Nothing!" Lettuce said quickly, throwing a worried glance at the panicking Ichigo. "She's just referring to one of her video games. She plays too many, so she forgets what she's talking about." She laughed nervously.

"Anyway, it's four o' clock, and we need to-"

"Four?!" I yelled, jumping up and immediately regretting it as my legs cramped up. "I have to go!" I insisted, limping towards the door.

"Go where?" Ichigo asked, following me out the door.



I looked back at her from the open front door. "Another time." I said after a brief hesitation and ran out the door.