Chapter 2: Making Friends, Gaining Fans

"…R-ratotax? R-ratattacks?"

He glared darkly at Emil before speaking. "My name is Ratatosk. Ra-ta-tosk. Get it right!"

"I'm s-so sorry Rato-I mean-Ratatosk!" 'I've heard that name before, I'm sure of it. It's just, where?' Emil racked his brain for an answer to his question. 'Ratatosk' certainly wasn't a frequently used name, yet he felt a connection to it. That name meant something to him, but he didn't seem to be able to associate it with anything significant that had happened in his life. Emil was positive that he would have remembered someone who looked like he could be his twin.

"I thought you were going to 'apologize to me properly'? You better do it quickly before I lose my patience," he said in an irritated tone.

Snapping out of his thoughts, Emil flushed at his absent-mindedness. He stared at the ground before bowing down deeply in front of Ratatosk. "Mr. Ratatosk, I'm really sorry that I have caused you any trouble. Please forgive me."

"…Don't call me Mr. Ratatosk, you fool. It makes me feel old." With that said, he walked into the high school, leaving Emil outside to gape at the closing door.

'So did he forgive me?!' he questioned. Running a hand through his hair in exasperation, Emil came to his senses and realized that his encounter with the mysterious Ratatosk had lasted a full 5 minutes.

"That's just great…I ended up late anyways." Emil sighed and walked into his new school.

~30 Minutes Later~

"Did you hear? We're getting a new transfer student today."

"Do you think it's going to be a girl or a boy?"

"It better be a boy. There is a serious lack of cute guys here."

"What?! My dear Marta, how could you betray me so?!"

"Don't mind her, Zelos. She's just ticked off because she can't hold down a boyfriend."

"What did you say Genis?"

"He said, 'She's just ticked off because she can't hold down a boyfriend.'"

"Presea!"

"But that's what you-"

A loud slap resounded in the air as the rest of the students cringed. Just as Marta was about to yell at Genis, Professor Sage intervened from the doorway.

"Marta! Violence is not allowed in my classroom! Detention after school!" Genis let out a small snicker and received a nasty look from Marta. Professor Sage walked to the front of the class and signalled for the attention of her pupils. The chatter died down and everyone resumed their seats to face their teacher.

"As you all know, we have a transfer student today. Everyone, please welcome Emil Castagnier."

Professor Sage motioned to the door where Emil stood. Looking around, Emil felt the stares of 26 people directed at him. Due to his self-conscious nature, he found himself looking down to his feet.

'…'

'He looks like a nice boy!'

'So lame…'

'Why is he looking at his feet?'

'…I wonder if he likes paw pads…'

'Yes! Victory! There's finally a cute guy in my class!'

"Come over here, Emil. No need to be shy." Emil shuffled his feet to the front and faced the class with a bright red face.

"I-it's nice to meet you all. Please treat me nicely." Ending his short introduction with a bow, he quickly stepped back and directed his frazzled mind out the window. 'The weather sure is nice out.'

"Emil, you can take a seat next to Lloyd. Lloyd, please raise your hand so Emil can see you."

No response.

"Lloyd Irving! Are you sleeping in my class?!"

Again, no response.

Professor Sage stalked towards a sleeping figure at the back of the room. He had spiky brown hair that rose vertically, even with his head down. He was breathing in a rhythmic pattern, letting out soft snores that were barely noticeable. Taking in a deep breath, Professor Sage yelled out in an ear-popping scream.

"LLOYD IRVING! GET UP NOW!"

Jerking up, Lloyd groggily rubbed his eyes before turning to his teacher. His breath stalled in his throat and his eyes widened when he saw how furious Professor Sage was. Another loud slap, along with a yelp, resonated throughout the classroom and the students cringed yet again.

"And she gives me detention for being violent…" muttered Marta.

Emil sat down next to Lloyd, now bewildered and a little fearful of his new professor. He listened intently as Professor Sage started a lesson on radical exponents and expressions.

Holding his head in pain, Lloyd finally took the time to notice the newcomer. He looked over Emil with a questioning glance. Lloyd looked again, yet he didn't seem to be able to pinpoint what was so peculiar about this one transfer student. Looking forward to make sure "Maniac Sage" wasn't looking, he leaned sideways and whispered to Emil.

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

Emil sent a confused look at him and was about to ask him what he meant, when a bubbly voice interrupted him from the right.

"My name's Marta! You look really cute!" Caught off guard, Emil blushed involuntarily. Marta's smile widened.

"W-w-what are you talking about?" He had never ever been called 'cute' by a female other than his mom. Emil felt a small surge of male pride, but squashed it down. He was about to ask the pink-haired girl why she thought he was cute when another voice interrupted him from the front.

"Him? Cute? You're kidding right? A fly would be considered cuter than this sack of potatoes." A fiery red-head in front of him had turned around and was now scowling at him. Nervous at all the attention, Emil tried to concentrate on the lesson. He found out that it was more difficult than he thought it would be.

"Shut up, Zelos. I'd rather have a fly than a stinking piece of horse manure."

"You know you love me. You're just in denial."

"I am in denial. I'm in denial that I don't want to slap you in the face."

"If you want your hands on me, all you have to do is ask."

"You're such a…"

Emil tried his best to drown out the arguing and looked to his left. Giving Lloyd a weak smile, he asked him a question.

"Does this happen a lot?" Lloyd mushroom sighed and nodded.

"Everyday. Don't worry though, you get used to it."

"…I'm afraid of the day that happens." Chuckling, Lloyd held out his hand with a grin.

"I never did introduce myself properly. I'm Lloyd Irving. I hope we can be friends."

An overjoyed Emil took his hand and let out a wide grin of his own. "That would be great!"

With the arguing duo behind him and the smiling brunette in front of him, Emil felt a wave of happiness wash over him. He had made a friend. Thinking happy thoughts, he looked up and suddenly his mind went blank.

"LLOYD, ZELOS, MARTA, AND EMIL! PAY ATTENTION!"

Preview – Chapter 3: Fools in Detention

"It's your first day and you ended up with a detention? Pathetic."

"Silence."

"Hi! I'm Colette! Would you like some of my apple pie?"