"Crap, I'm gonna be so late!"
"Young mistress, it is very dangerous to run in the house," an elderly servant piped up as the girl skidded around the corner and rushed past him.
"Sorry," the girl called back, but she didn't bother to slow down. This was her first day of high school, and being late would be totally embarrassing.
"Your helicopter is waiting outside," another servant informed her as she reached the front door.
"I don't have time for that!" the girl groaned. "Did you bring my jetpack around like I asked?"
"Yes, young mistress, but your mother said that she wasn't done testing it yet. You really shouldn't be using it."
"It's fine," the girl protested as she threw open the door.
The jetpack was sitting out by the driveway as promised. Hefting the heavy contraption up, the girl fumbled with the straps, making sure they were all nice and tight.
"Young mistress, won't you please reconsider?" the servant pleaded helplessly as he watched her prepare for takeoff.
"Nope." She smiled and flipped the ignition switch, confident that the jets would work as expected. After all she had helped build the thing.
She jerked skywards as the engines roared to life. Additional adjustments were clearly needed. That kind of takeoff could really hurt someone.
The girl frowned as she faintly heard her father shout out her name over the noise of the thrusters. Oh well, there would be time for apologies after school. She threw up a hand in farewell and set off at top speed.
She giggled as she swept above the front lawn towards the edge of the estate. It would only take her a few minutes to get to school this way. Plus this would be much more impressive than parachuting down from a boring old helicopter.
She passed over the canal outside the estate and headed across town. Things looked quiet this morning, though she did spy a few other students dashing in the same direction she was heading. She felt sorry for them having to run such a long distance, but there was nothing she could do about it.
Tomobiki High School quickly came into view. She hastily decelerated and started her descent towards the crowd of students milling around the front of the building. Surely they would be impressed with her grand entrance.
With her attention firmly on the students below she didn't notice that she wasn't alone in the sky. She heard a loud grunt as she crashed into something.
"Hey, watch it!" the girl shrieked as she tried to push herself away. "That really hurt!"
Sumiko found herself looking into a pair of very angry bright blue eyes. "Keiko-chan?" she yelled as she tried to sweep the other girl's long strands of green hair out of her face. "Get out of the way, I can't see where I'm going!"
"Believe me, I'm trying, " the girl grouched as she finally managed to extricate herself.
"Oh crap!" Sumiko shouted as she noticed the courtyard rushing up to meet her. Instead of the graceful landing she had planned, the girl landed face first and slid along the ground for several meters before crashing into the front steps of the school.
"Serves you right!" Keiko taunted her from above.
Sumiko shakily managed to cut the engines off. "You did that on purpose!" she hissed as she unfastened the straps and threw aside the smoking jetpack. Getting back to her feet she shook her fist angrily at the girl hovering overhead. "What is wrong with you?"
"I was just minding my own business when you hit me!"
"Come down here and say that!" Sumiko retorted. She blushed as she suddenly noticed everyone in the courtyard staring at her. Hastily brushing her shoulder length black hair back in place and trying desperately to straighten her battered uniform, she turned away and stalked up the steps to the door. Now she looked like an idiot in front of the entire school.
"Wait for me!" Keiko called out as she swooped down to join the other girl.
"Leave me alone," Sumiko grumped as she went inside and started looking for her assigned shoe locker. "I really hate you, you know that?"
"Sure you do," Keiko replied, rolling her eyes as she struggled to keep up. "You always say that."
"I mean it this time." the girl insisted. "Stop following me."
"I'm not following you, I'm just going to class," Keiko replied, sticking out her tongue petulantly. She suddenly perked up. "Oh, look at that guy. He's super cute!"
"I don't care," Sumiko groaned as she finished putting on her indoor shoes. "You say that about almost every guy. You're going to be late if you don't hurry."
She wasn't surprised when she didn't receive a reply. Keiko had already left her to check out whatever boy had caught her interest.
"Whatever," she grumbled as she headed to her assigned room. "I guess this is it then, class 1-4." Taking a deep breath, she slid the door open and stepped inside.
Most of the class had already arrived. Randomly choosing an empty desk near the back of the room, she managed to get seated just seconds before the bell rang. Hopefully no one here had seen what had happened out front.
Sumiko looked around the room and started memorizing the faces of her new classmates. Prior to this year she had always attended an all girls private school across town. While she really hadn't made many friends there, at least all of the faces had been familiar.
She glanced up towards the front of the room as the door slammed open. To her consternation an all too familiar green-haired girl strolled confidently into the room.
Sumiko moaned. "Oh, this is just great."
Keiko spotted her immediately. "Yay, we're in the same class!" she exclaimed as she rushed towards the back of the room and noisily claimed the desk beside Sumiko.
"Why are you sitting there?" Sumiko hissed.
"Is that a problem?" Keiko leaned over and grinned widely. "Why wouldn't I sit next to my best friend in the whole universe?"
"Ugh," Sumiko whispered, highly aware that everyone was watching them. "I really can't stand you."
"Sure, sure," Keiko replied dismissively. "So where's the teacher?"
Sumiko shrugged. "How should I know?"
"He must be late," Keiko decided. "Maybe he won't show up at all. Then what do we do?" She sighed dramatically. "I hope he's at least handsome."
"What happened to the cute guy you were after a minute ago?" Sumiko asked in a weary tone.
"He had a girlfriend," Keiko answered irritably. "I swear every good looking guy around here is already taken."
"Maybe you should lower your standards then."
"No way! I'll find one sooner or later. This is the year I get a gorgeous long term boyfriend, I promise you that."
Sumiko shook her head. It was no mystery why such a pretty girl as Keiko had trouble keeping a boyfriend. Her quick temper and hyperactive personality would drive anyone nuts.
"Kinuka-chan!" Keiko suddenly called across the room, "How are you doing?"
A slender white-haired girl reluctantly turned her attention away from the window and cast a bored glare back towards the two.
"That's Kinuka-chan," Keiko explained more quietly. "She's been my classmate ever since kindergarten."
"I feel her pain at having known you that long," Sumiko drawled. "So what's with that hair? Is she a foreigner?"
"No, both of her parents are Japanese." Keiko shook her head. "They don't have hair like that either. I've asked her about it before, but she wouldn't tell me much."
"That's pretty weird," Sumiko noted. There was no doubt where Keiko's odd hair color came from. Or her little striped horns and fangs.
Their homeroom teacher picked that moment to come rushing into the room. "Sorry I'm late," the young woman called out nervously as she set her coffee down on her desk and dumped an overstuffed bag next to it. "You should all do your best to be on time every single day." She stopped and glowered at the whole class. "I hope you all realize that this is no way to start off the year!"
"Why is she looking at us like that?" Keiko growled. "At least I was almost on time."
"Well, now that that's out of the way," the teacher continued, "my name is Modoki Mako, and this is my first year teaching." She hastily scrawled her name across the chalkboard. "You can call me Modoki-sensei. I'll be both your homeroom and history teacher." She smiled and bowed low. "Please take care of me."
She straightened abruptly and with a worried expression on her face. "That's a good introduction, right?" She looked around as if challenging anyone to disagree.
"Great," she announced. "This is going to be a good class, I can already tell." She wrestled a wrinkled folder out of her bag and ineffectively tried to smooth it out on the desktop. "I've got the class roll right here." She glanced around the room. "We'll be using assigned seating so that I can learn your names faster."
Her announcement elicited a groan from a few students.
"Now we'll have none of that," Mako scolded them. "Now who wants to be the class representative?"
"I nominate Sumiko-chan!" Keiko immediately shouted. She pointedly ignored the glare coming from her nominee.
The teacher nodded as she checked the roll. "Ok, are there any other nominations?"
The class remained deathly silent.
"Well then, Mendou-san, you're our new class rep. Please come up here and help me get everyone seated."
"I'll get you for this," Sumiko muttered as she stood up and headed for the front of the room.
Keiko merely grinned. This would be a great way to get Sumiko to open up and make some new friends.
"Congratulations on your unanimous win," Mako greeted her with a smile. "Don't look so nervous, I don't bite."
"Thank you, Modoki-sensei," Sumiko replied. "What would you like me to do?"
"You're a polite one," Mako noted. She paused to jot something on the roll before handing it to Sumiko. "Class, please go stand in the back of the room until Mendou-san calls your name."
Sumiko quickly scanned through the list of names. There were a total of twenty students, and eleven of them were girls. Keiko wouldn't like that. Next to her name the teacher had already scribbled class rep. It looked like there was no getting out of this.
"Aizaka Sayo-san?" she began.
A pale blonde-haired girl nervously took the first seat.
The next student was a boy with reddish hair who kept a gentle smile on his face as he sat down in the next seat back.
The white-haired girl Keiko had greeted earlier stepped forward and flopped down in her seat. She stared at Sumiko with her intense golden eyes for just a moment before abruptly turning her attention out the window.
One by one the students claimed their new seats, until finally Sumiko reached the last name on the list.
"Yeah, yeah," the final student replied as he settled down in the back corner. "Save the best for last and all that. I get it."
Mako decided to ignore him for the time being. "Thanks for the help, Mendou-san."
Sumiko nodded and headed to her new assigned seat. Which was unfortunately located directly in front of Keiko's. She pointedly didn't look at the girl as she sat down.
"Heh, it must be fate for us to be together," Keiko cooed into her ear. "I'm so happy!"
"I really do hate you," Sumiko retorted.
"What's your problem?" Keiko demanded. "You've been grumpy all morning."
"You've been annoying me all morning. Do you think there could possibly be a connection?"
"Humph," Keiko pouted.
"Mendou-san, Moroboshi-san, I'm trying to talk up here," the teacher pointed out. "Please be quiet."
Sumiko felt her cheeks turning bright red. "Sorry, sensei," she quickly apologized.
"Sorry about that, sensei" Keiko piped up. "It was my fault."
The teacher stared at her a moment. "Moroboshi-san, you're an oni, aren't you?"
"Half oni, actually," she replied a bit hesitantly. "My father's an earthling."
Mako nodded. "I thought so." She nodded. "Well, please try to keep quiet during class time."
"Finally!" Keiko exclaimed. "I thought lunch time would never get here."
Sumiko didn't bother to turn around. "I heard you eating back there. You already ate half of your bento during class, didn't you?"
"Guilty as charged," Keiko sighed as she inspected the meager portion of her lunch that was left.
"You would never survive at my old school," Sumiko noted.
"Who would want to? I would go crazy at an all girls' school."
Sumiko nodded. "You probably would." She leaned forward to rest her chin on her arms. "No matter where I am, lunch time is always so boring."
"That's because you never try to make friends with anyone," Keiko pointed out. She quickly glanced around the room. "Kinuka-chan, Azumi-chan, come sit with us!"
The two girls obediently made their way over.
"This is Sumiko-chan," Keiko told them with a hint of pride in her voice. "We've been friends since I was really little."
"Hello," Sumiko shyly greeted the two.
"Hi there," the taller of the two girls warmly replied. "It's very nice to meet you."
Kinuka simply nodded in greeting, her mouth already occupied with slurping down a bowl of noodles.
"Now that introductions are out of the way, sit down you two, we need to get down to business," Keiko announced. She looked around suspiciously to make sure no one else was in hearing distance. "We've got a real problem here. The ratio's all off."
"The ratio?" Azumi asked.
"The ratio! Look at how many girls are in this class!" Keiko explained. "And there's only a few decent looking guys."
"I'm not interested," Kinuka muttered between bites.
"Don't worry about me either," Azumi agreed. "The boy I like ended up in another class."
Keiko started toying with a lock of her hair reflectively. "Well, that helps a bit, but it's still not good. That still leaves seven other girls to worry about."
"I assume you're not counting me," Sumiko inquired.
Keiko blinked. "No, I guess I wasn't," she admitted. "So you're interested in boys now?"
"No," Sumiko quickly denied. "Not particularly."
"Um, I think you can also go ahead and count out Shino and Gosuke Udagawa-san," Azumi informed her. "They only seem interested in each other."
"Eww," Keiko responded. "They've got the same last name, aren't they relatives or something?"
Azumi shrugged. "Don't know. No one knows much about them."
"I'm disappointed in you, Azumi-chan," Keiko admonished her. "You're supposed to be our resident gossip queen."
"I'm working on it," Azumi retorted defensively. "It's only the first day of school after all."
"Kinuka-chan, what are your thoughts on that guy sitting in front of you?" Keiko demanded.
"I don't know. He seems ok," the girl replied as she finished off the last of her noodles. "I already told you that I'm not interested in that kind of thing."
"Oh, you're no help," Keiko replied. She thought for a moment. "So far the best one looks to be that guy with his hair in a braid. He's sitting right next to you, Sumiko-chan. Do you want to trade seats?"
"I'm not getting in trouble just so that you can flirt with some guy."
"Fine," Keiko sighed. "I'm not too far from him anyways."
"Do you mean Saotome-san?" Azumi asked. "I heard he's a serious martial artist, lives at a dojo and everything."
"Interesting," Keiko said. "What else have you got?"
"That's it so far. He's not too talkative."
"Aye aye, boss," Azumi promised. She glanced over at Sumiko. "Mendou-san, aren't you going to eat anything?"
"I'm not hungry," Sumiko replied.
"Sumiko-chan doesn't eat lunch very often," Keiko hurriedly explained. "I think she just pigs out at breakfast and dinner."
"That's not very healthy," Azumi pointed out.
"It's fine," Sumiko responded irritably.
Azumi nodded. "If you say so," she replied easily. "Well, I'm going to go see what I can find out. Kinuka-chan, do you want to come with me?"
The shorter girl shrugged. "Sure," she agreed.
Keiko waited until the two were out of earshot. "You idiot," she hissed. "Why do you have to be so mean to everyone?"
"I'm not," Sumiko denied. "Why is it anyone's business if I eat lunch or not."
"Because Azumi-chan's really nice," Keiko retorted. "She was just worried about you."
"I don't need anyone worrying about me," Sumiko muttered.
"That's why you never make any friends."
"Oh, who needs them? Anyways, you just use them to find out about boys." Sumiko ignored the faint flickering of lightning starting to form around the other girl. "That's probably the only reason you talk to anybody."
The flashes of electricity abruptly stopped. "You're such an idiot," Keiko whispered, her eyes starting to tear up. Rising into the air, she headed out of the room at high speed.
"Good riddance," Sumiko murmured as she put her head down on her desk.
Sumiko glanced impatiently up at the clock on the wall. She knew exactly what time it was, but she still felt oddly compelled to confirm it. The day had really been dragging on ever since lunch.
Keiko hadn't so much as said a word to her since then. Sumiko could still practically feel waves of anger coming from the half oni.
The English teacher strode into class 1-4 feeling pretty good. It was a beautiful day, the start of a new school year, and he only had one period left to go.
His good mood was crushed the moment he spied the horned girl with green hair glaring fiercely at the girl sitting in front of her.
He hurriedly checked the wrinkled roll book, already suspecting what he would find there. "Oh no," he murmured as he found the other girl's name on the list. "Not both of them. They wouldn't do this to me. Not again."
He immediately thought about walking out. After this many years of teaching surely he could find a position at one of the other schools in the area.
The teacher took another look at the expectant class. There were quite a few unique looking students here. It was definitely a bad situation. He started to slowly edge back towards the door.
"Excuse me, sensei?" one of the girls in the front row piped up.
He stopped in his tracks. "Yes?" he answered nervously as he eyed the remaining distance to freedom.
"You'll be teaching us English, right?" She suddenly beamed. "I really love learning languages, so I can't wait."
His eyes snapped wide open. "You really want to learn it?" he half whispered.
"Yeah," she replied. "My parents are always saying that there's nothing more important than a good education."
The teacher dumbly nodded. He took another look at the room. There were more than a few students who actually looked like they were serious about learning. The way things looked, he suspected they were going to have a rough time of it. If he left now, the class would likely go burn through quite a few teachers in short order.
But deep down inside he knew he could handle it. He had done so in the past, and he could do so once more. He would not see another class dubbed the classroom of failure.
Sighing deeply, he stepped back over to the desk and resolutely set his course book down.
"Good afternoon, students. My name is Onsen-Mark. I'll be teaching you English from now on, so please take care of me."
"Hi Onsen-Mark-Sensei," a familiar voice called out.
"Good afternoon, Moroboshi-san," he replied in a much friendlier tone than he had intended. It was going to be hard to be gruff with someone he had known since she was a tiny baby.
Oh well. The past sixteen long peaceful years had been a pretty good break. It was time to get back to work.