Chapter 1: First Encounter

With his eyebrows furrowed in frustration, he fiddled with his tie. After a few more minutes, he let out a groan and gave up. Giving a pointed stare at the twisted piece of stripped fabric, he glanced over the rest of his appearance once more in the mirror. He was wearing a carefully ironed uniform consisting of a white dress shirt with the green school emblem sewn on the left and a pair of black pants. His eyes, a striking emerald, gazed back at him. His unruly blond hair contrasted heavily with his vibrant eyes. Looking up, he saw a stubborn clump of hair that stuck itself into the air. It was awkward, yes, but no matter what he did, he didn't seem to be able to flatten it onto his scalp like the rest of his hair.

'Why? Why do I look so different from everyone else?' His gaze dropped as memories started to fill his mind.

'It's Emil the cowardly loser!!'

'Why do you have green eyes?'

'Do you wear contacts to try to make yourself look manly??

'What a joke!!'

'Your hair looks like a demented antenna!'

'Ever hear of a comb or hair-gel, you moron?!'

Tears threatened to well up in his eyes, which he blinked away quickly. He couldn't start crying now. He promised himself that he wouldn't dwell on the past anymore. What's done is done, and he had finally come to the conclusion that there was no point in reliving his pain. His new life was starting today and he was determined to finally make some real friends. It was easier said than done though, since he never had much experience in the social world.

Leaning down, Emil splashed his face with water one last time and grabbed a towel to dry off. He opened the door and walked back into his bedroom. Most of his things were still packed neatly into boxes sealed with tape. He and his mom had settled in late last night after a long day of shopping and moving furniture. Emil hadn't gotten around to unpacking his boxes and had had to wander the streets of this unknown town the day before to purchase his school supplies. Grabbing his brand-new messenger bag, he exited his room and descended down the stairs.

Making his way to the kitchen, Emil noticed that a breakfast had been set out for him. His eyes scanned the table and found a note next to his smiley-face eggs and bacon.

'I'm so sorry, but I have to leave early today. I've prepared your breakfast so you can have a fantastic first day at your new school. I drew a map for you on the other side of this sheet and since you're such a smart boy, I expect you not to get lost! Good Luck! I love you!

Mom'

True to her words, his mother had indeed drawn a map complete with arrows and street names. Emil smiled softly and silently thanked his doting mother. He was just about to sit down when something on the wall caught his eye. The clock read 8:20.

"Ten minutes?! I'm going to be late!" exclaimed a now very flustered Emil.

Snatching his mother's note from the table, he raced to the door. On his way down the hall, he apologized out loud to his mother for not being able to eat the food she had prepared for him. Stuffing his feet into his black loafers, Emil ran out the door and across his driveway. Suddenly, he jerked forward and tripped on a crack in the cement. He quickly sat up and winced at the fresh wound on his head. Cursing his horrible luck, he scrambled to his feet. Now nursing a bump on the back of his skull, Emil hurried his way towards what would be his new school for the rest of the year.

~Ten Minutes Later~

Emil sprinted his way to the front entrance of the burgundy building and arrived in time for the bell. "And he makes it. The crowd goes wild," he murmured while panting heavily. He rested his head against the door with a tiny grin on his face.

"Move it. You're blocking the door."

He jumped at the sudden appearance of another person and spun around hastily. "I-I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to cause you any trouble! I'm really s-sorry!" Emil stuttered out.

In front of him was a man who resembled him in more ways than one. He had the same hair color and the same hair style as him, complete with the vertical stick of hair. This caught him off guard and Emil unconsciously started to lean in closer to study the stranger, curiosity getting the better of him. He noticed that this person was wearing the same clothing as him, indicating that he was also attending this school. He was the same height as him, so they were probably in the same grade. Emil's gaze fell to the pendant that he was wearing. It was a small red orb, the size of a ping-pong ball, with the imprints of what looked like wings in the center. 'Where have I seen that design before? Is it just me, or is it…glowing?' Reaching forward slowly, the tips of his fingers gently touched the sphere.

"What are you doing…?" asked the stranger. Emil's head shot up and his eyes widened when he came face-to-face with a pair of piercing red eyes just inches away. How had he gotten so close?! What was he doing?! He stepped back quickly with a blush on his face and blurted out an apology.

"Che. I don't care for apologies. Those who are truly sorry make up for what they have done." As he started to walk past Emil, he heard him whisper something. He slowed to a stop just before the entrance of the school.

"I really am sorry… Please tell me your name so I can apologize to you properly." The stranger paused for a few seconds before he responded.

"Ratatosk. My name is Ratatosk."

Preview – Chapter 2: Making Friends, Gaining Fans

"Why does it feel like I've seen you before?"

"Everyone, let's welcome Emil Castagnier."

"My name's Marta! You look really cute!"