MBP: I swore never to write one of these… but I did it…

Rini: What is it exactly? You hid it from me!

Kio: S-she… wrote from an OC's perspective…

Rini: WHAT?

MBP: It was stuck in my head… and it's not much… And she's not in love with them… She just had an encounter with them…

Rini: I don't care! You did what?

Kio: S-sorry… I k-kinda put the idea in her head…

Rini: Oh… Okay, then continue!

MBP: I'm sorry Kioshi… I really didn't mean for her to so excitable…

Kio: I-it's alright… It's m-my fault for listening to that song…

MBP: I don't mind… Well, I own nothing! Not S.A, or the inspiring song!

Kio: W-which is Jordan Pruitt's "Outside Looking In"…

MBP: Enjoy!


"Outside Looking In"

I sat on the steps, and watched the crowds pile by the greenhouse. Apparently, there was another contest going on between the top two in the S.A. It was ridiculous. They were already the best in school anyway, why bother to go to these lengths and create distractions for the people who were trying to get better?

I stood to go. There wasn't much point in me staying here, watching the crowds that I'd never be a part of. The crowds that condemned me to stand on the outside.

"Look at her." I heard the hiss as I walked through the doors.

"She's so plain. No one wants to see that every day."

"I heard she hit her teacher."

"I heard she kissed her teacher."

"No way! Where was this?"

"I heard it in the hallway today!"

I heard the whispers as I walked against the flow. They thought I didn't hear, thought I was completely blind and deaf to the rumors they spread about me. Thought I didn't see how they passed notes, then look at me and laugh behind their hands.… Thought I didn't hear the hateful things they whispered to each other as I just tried to survive another day. Thought I didn't know what they thought about me.

They also thought I didn't realize they'd never really given me a chance at all.

Like I cared. I shrugged the rumors away… or tried to. But rumors aren't easily removed… The only thing I could do was act like I really didn't care. Act like I didn't care that I was alone in the world. Act like I was strong, and like I didn't need a shoulder to cry on.

"She doesn't even react to anything! It's weird!"

They thought that what they said wouldn't get back to me… And how do they know? How do they know that what they say doesn't hurt me? How dare they judge me?

I bit back the anger. The only thing worse than being called weird was to react to what they said. It would only cause more rumors. It wouldn't help at all.

"Go Hikari!" I stopped walking as two people passed me in practically blurs. I heard that Toudou girl yelling, obviously cheering for the girl, as they raced towards the finish line. Too bad it was just as painfully obvious that Takishima would win… again.

I felt myself get pushed down as the crowd raced by to watch the end. I didn't even bother reacting as some of them purposely knocked my things around, spilling them all over the floor just to get stepped on. I just knelt and waited until I had the room to pick them up.

"Need a hand?" Ryuu Tsuji handed me one of my books. A Walk to Remember. Surprisingly, it was in good shape, unlike my school work. He, and the Yamamoto twins, who were always around him, bent and helped pile my stuff into a semi-neat pile.

"Thank you…" I muttered quietly, shoving my things into my bag. Then I ran. I wasn't used to anyone paying attention to me anymore, except to criticize. I just wanted to keep this bit of kindness to myself, without someone ruining it.

"Hey!" I looked at the voice and saw Hikari Hanazono and Kei Takishima waving at me. Hikari ran over and grinned.

"We got knocked you over earlier, right? I'm sorry!" She bowed deeply as I stared.

An apology. Something else I wasn't used to. What was with these S.A people, ruining the world I had gotten used to? I didn't need this kindness, especially when it would be gone soon anyways.

"I-it was nothing…" I turned to leave. I didn't want to be there anymore. I just wanted to get home, where I could go to my room and do what I wanted.

"Wait! What's your name?" Hikari didn't stop pestering. If I had to describe her in one word, it would be this: persistent.

"Aiko Satou…" I muttered, and left. I ignored the whispers, turning on my IPod. I laughed inside as I saw people rolling their eyes. I knew that they thought I listened to loud, screamo music. How wrong they were.

I listened to American music. Country. Complete opposites. But it's not like anyone cared enough to ask. They'd just continue to judge me anyways…

I went home, and went to my room, and ignored the world.

() () () () () () ()

Retribution came on Sunday, when my aunt decided she wanted me to be social, and basically told me I was going to this barbeque or I was going to be disowned. And guess who was going to be there? The nice S.A kids from my school!

Disownment sounded good. It would be worth it for a day alone. My silence however, was taken for agreement, and I was forced to go.

"God, she brought her?"

"Poor Sumi, having to take in the girl like that."

"That girl's a disgrace to her aunt."

Even adults were like this. I can definitely see where the kids get it from. But I ignored the whispers.

Truth be told, the disgrace comment hurt. I loved my aunt, and I didn't want to seem ungrateful. If I reacted and yelled, I know it would reflect on her, so…

"Aiko!" I closed my eyes. I knew that voice, and I was surprised it was calling my name. That the owner even remembered my name. Because if I wasn't mistaken, that was Hikari, and I couldn't hide in time. "You're here too!"

"Yeah…" I jolted as Hikari grabbed my arm and dragged me off.

"Come sit with us!" I didn't even think any of them were here, but I swear, I felt fan girls glaring.

"Um…" I needed an excuse. I really did not want to sit with the S.A, or their friends, who I could see now.

Let's see… who were they again? The great thing about being ignored was that I could examine people without them noticing.

Well, Kei had a spot for Hikari next to him. As if it wasn't completely obvious he liked her. Jun had the Ushikubo girl, Sakura, holding on his arm tightly, as if he were a doll. Ryuu sat next to Finn Koupe… wait, she was here? Wow, Aunt Sumi will die of happiness… Tadashi looked for Akira, who was… bringing a cart of food. Okay… Megumi was trying to get the attention of Yahiro Saiga, a jerk if I ever saw one. And then Aoi Ogata, the Takishima's assistant, sat with Alisa Appleton. Of course they'd have a giant party going on.

"Okay, just sit down!" Hikari cheered taking her spot.

"Um… alright…" I pulled up a chair and watched them. They were all laughing and enjoying each other's company… surprising, since I really didn't think they had that much in common. Hikari was yelling at Kei, who was smirking at her easily, while everyone looked ready for something to explode.

"Alright Takishima, a contest! First one to finish eating wins!" Oh. That's what they were waiting for. I took a bite of the food in front of me as Hikari continued to yell.

Strawberry cheesecake. Yum.

"I've got an idea." Oh no, Yahiro had an idea, and that evil smirk on his face. Should I run?

"First one to make this idiot smile wins." He pointed at me, and I stared. Yes, it was time to run.
"Um… I should find my aunt…"

"That's a great idea!" Hikari cheered. "Let's start."

I stared at her, and then the group. Some of them had amused looks on their faces, while Megumi smiled at Yahiro. Then she scribbled something down, and whacked him with her sketchbook.

'Don't call her an idiot!' Megumi frowned, and then smiled at me and waved.

This was not real. I was home, in my bed, in my room, asleep, right? I don't do stuff like this. I don't get attention from the most popular kids in school, or the richest business owners, or even sit by them. I sit in the shadows, watching the crowds as they secluded me.

Megumi passed a note on to me, and I stared for a moment before opening it. 'Yahiro's just doing this to get you involved in the conversations. He's really a good guy. *Smiley*'

I'll admit, the note almost made me smile. But I didn't… I don't even think it's possible anymore… it's a practiced skill that I haven't used in months. Not since…

I looked down, remembering exactly why I was there anyways. If my dad hadn't been having that affair, no one would be on that road, and my parents would be alive. And I wouldn't be having these people feeling sorry for me!

"Please don't use me for a contest…" I muttered. I really didn't need the attention. This was disturbing enough to me.

"Aiko, do you want a snack?" Akira asked. "We've got some more cheesecake over here!"

"Oh… um…okay…" I took the food, not even realizing I'd finished the first one.

"I love seeing cute girls enjoying my food!" Akira laughed, and then hit Tadashi as I choked.

Cute? I hadn't been called cute in… well a while. I looked down at myself. I purposely wore gray pants and shirt, trying not to look dressy while trying to look good for Aunt Sumi. My short dark brown hair hung flat by my face, and my brown eyes just stared aimlessly. What was so cute about me?

The group laughed, abruptly stopping as a boy came up to the table. Yaten Kishimoto, in class B with me…

If I hadn't been who I was now, I'd think he was kind of cute. He looked like a stereotypical anime guy, tall, handsome… wow, I'm off track! He was also the most popular guy in class B, though no one could compare to the S.A.

"Can I talk to you?" he asked, looking at me. Wait, me?

"S-sure…" I stood up to go, completely dazed. What was with all the sudden attention?

Yaten led me to the maze. Why was there a maze anyways? There was no point to it. And it was confusing.

In front of it were three fan girls. I knew I had felt them glaring earlier!

I looked at the ground, waiting for the insults. I didn't have to wait long.

"What an ugly girl… Why'd you even bother to come?" I didn't bother to reply. Just take the insults and then move on.

"No answer?"

"Misa, she's too much of an idiot to say anything!" The other girls chorused, laughing in unison. I thought I heard Yaten saying something, but I didn't understand it. I was probably hearing things anyway.

"She's just a dumb mute, who no one cares about!" More laughter. I didn't even hear Yaten saying anything. I didn't expect him to. He's the one who brought me here anyways.

"Her parents probably dumped her on her aunt because they were sick of her." What?

"Yeah, I can see that." See what?

"I don't see how Ms. Sumi can stand it." How dare they?

I hate them. I hate them so much. "Shut up." I said quietly, not even noticing that I'd said it for a moment.

The girls, and Yaten, stared at me. "What was that?" I didn't say anything, though I wanted to. Keep calm, for Aunt Sumi if nothing else.

"See? She won't do anything. She's too weak."

Weak? I deal with their insults for months, and they call me weak? I deal with my dad having his affair, only to have him and mom die for it, and they think I'm weak?

"What do you know?" I growled, stopping their laughing. "What do you know? You don't know anything about me!"

They all stared. They obviously hadn't been expecting a response. I hadn't given one before I guess. I was beyond caring about the problems reaction would give, I was pissed.

"You don't have a clue about my life! You think you can judge me?" I said, not feeling anything but intense anger. "You think I don't hear what you people say about me? You think I don't hear it, and then have to deal with all those rumors daily?"

I glared at them, furious. "And if you must know, my parents are dead, so I have to deal with that too! And the moment I get to the stupid school, I get judged immediately! I'll bet you wouldn't even know my name if people hadn't started those rumors the day I entered Hakusenkan!"

The girls looked shocked. Good. But I wasn't done venting at them.

"You don't know what it's like! You don't have a clue what it's like to always be on the outside, what it's like to be left out all the time! You don't know what it's like to have to be your own best friend, because no one cares about you! You don't know what it's like to go somewhere, where no one even bothers to give you a chance!" I was breathing heavily, and I heard footsteps behind me. Oh god, people heard me?

I pushed past the fan girls and dashed into the maze. Forget about trying to fix things, I just needed time to think, and to be alone. Though thinking could be bad… I really didn't want time to focus on what was going to happen tomorrow at school. Those fan girls would probably get revenge for what I said.

"Aiko!" Oh god, Hikari was watching this. She sounded horrified, whether at me, or the girls. I didn't bother to even look back to check as I ran away.

I didn't emerge from the maze until long after everyone left the barbeque and I felt secure enough to go home.

() () () () () () ()

The moment I stepped on school campus the next day, I felt someone pounce on me. "Aiko!"

Hikari. Well, I wasn't expecting that.

"Are you alright?" Hikari grinned at me.

"I'm fine." I shifted my bag back on as soon as she got off.

"Want to eat lunch with us?" Fan girl glares again.

"No." I had enough fan girl drama as it was. After yesterday, I certainly didn't need any more.

"That wasn't a question. You're eating with us." Ryuu appeared with the twins. "She'll just drag you to the greenhouse anyways."

'Yeah! It's less messy to ask though.' Megumi wrote down and held the sketchbook up to see.

"Um… okay… then I will…" Why wouldn't they leave me alone? I didn't need this!

"We're giving you a chance," Jun said quietly as he walked by. "Okay? So don't feel like you're alone."

Oh god, they had heard my outburst yesterday. Was that the only reason they were talking to me?

Wait... they wouldn't leave me alone even before that… I felt something I hadn't in a while as I realized that. Happy. They had noticed me, tried to give me a chance.

I felt that same happiness throughout the day, even with all the glares, and the stares I got in class. What did it matter? There was at least one person who noticed me. Who cared.

When the lunch bell rang, I stood and grabbed my bag to leave. The greenhouse wasn't far, but I wanted to get there fast. I wanted to see what kind of things the S.A would make me feel next.

"Aiko." Yaten stood by the door and looked at me. "Can I talk to you?"

I looked at him, remembering the previous day. "No." I walked past him, ignoring the angry whispers of his fans. I didn't care. I really didn't. For once, I didn't have to pretend. I didn't care what they thought, I had seen him lead me to the fan girls, to get hurt.

"Aiko, please?" Yaten followed me.

"I'm going to lunch." I replied, ignoring him for the most part. "Now, go hang out with your fan girls, I don't want to be around you."

"I don't care!" Yaten grabbed my arm and pushed me into an empty classroom. "I said I need to talk to you!"

"No, you asked if you could," I replied, trying to pull away. "And I said no. Now let go before I scream!"

Yaten let me go, looking surprised. "I guess yelling yesterday helped you."

I blushed, which I know I haven't done in years. "It did…" I admitted quietly. Then I went to the door, only to feel a hand hold onto my arm gently.

"Aiko… please let me talk." He sounded desperate. He looked desperate. He was probably a great actor.

"I need to go." Yaten's grip tightened slightly.

"Five minutes." Yaten looked into my eyes. "Please."

I sighed, mentally reviewing it. Well, if I didn't show up, Hikari would come find me. "Fine. I'm counting." I moved to the desks and sat, looking at him expectantly.

"Well, about yesterday…" Yaten gulped, looking nervous. "I didn't know they were there."

I raised my eyebrows. "You honestly expect me to believe that?"

"I know you don't believe it, but it's true!" Yaten said, snapping out of nervousness. "I… well... I just needed to talk to you."

I believed him. He seemed sincere, and that's never easy to fake. "What did you need to talk about."

Yaten's eyes widened, and he looked down, blushing, which never happened with him. "Well… um… I…"

"Aiko!" Hikari burst through the door. "There you are!"

"Hurry up, so we can eat! Akira won't let until you come!" Tadashi was right behind her, whining.

Megumi peeked her head in the room, with Yahiro behind her. Wait, shouldn't he be at his own school?

"I ditched dummy," He said to my unasked question. I bristled at the 'dummy' comment.

'Stop calling her a dummy!' If I didn't know better, I'd say Megumi was jealous. That was, until she whacked him with her sketchbook.

"Stop that!" Yahiro snapped. "Idiot!"

'S-sorry…'

"Jeez, jealous much? You're mad that your love is insulting someone else?" Yahiro teased, causing Megumi to blush. Wow, I was right.

Then she pouted and came to grab my arm. 'Let's go Aiko!'

I looked back as they dragged me out, to see Yaten staring at the ground. "Um… If you need to tell me something… I'm free after school if you want to talk…"

I wasn't all that sure I wanted to talk though. I was still kind of getting used to the idea that the S.A wanted me around. But Yaten didn't notice that.

"Sure…"

I felt myself dragged off to the greenhouse, where a bunch of pastries were pushed at me. I ate them gratefully, watching the S.A as I had the day before, listening in on their conversations.

And then I heard something that shocked all of us.

"Hey idiot, want to go for a date on Sunday?"

Megumi was staring at him, as well as everyone else that was there, including me. 'What?'

"Date. Sunday. Do you want to go?" Yahiro asked.

"Are you trying to manipulate my darling Megumi?" Akira asked, pulling said girl into a tight hug.

"No, I'm not," Yahiro smirked. "Should I take that as a no?"

'I want to go!' Megumi scribbled quickly.

"Okay, I'll pick you up at ten." Yahiro drank a sip of tea as Akira sent a string of curses his way.

"Why ask now?" I asked quietly, attracting his attention.

Yahiro looked at me. "You're an even bigger idiot if you can't figure that out. I didn't want to be last to ask the girl I like out."

"What?" I glared. What was he talking about? Who else was asking someone out?

"Oh, you'll see after school." Yahiro stood up to leave. Everyone else went to escort him out, making sure to keep Megumi at arm's length from him.

I watched from the table, just like I had watched the crowds on Friday. But this time, I wasn't watching from the outside… I was part of a group now.

I smiled at they came up. I wasn't alone. I had people who looked at me to see who I was.

"She's smiling!" Akira said, pointing it out.

"Who made you smile?" Hikari pounced towards me. "Was it me? Or Takishima?"

I realized what she was talking about quickly. The contest. To see who was the first to make me smile. I hadn't even realized they were serious about it.

I looked at her, and for the first time in weeks, I laughed.


MBP: Okay… there it is.

Kio: You put YahiroxMegumi in there…

MBP: I had to! It's my OTP for S.A! And you can't do just an OC story, and I wanted to do that!

Kio: O-okay…

MBP: I hope you all enjoyed this… Even if it isn't about the characters!

Kio: Um… where's Rini?

MBP: She refused to do this. Oh well, it's more fun with the two of us! I can handle you!

Kio: O-oh… well… thanks for writing this…

MBP: No problem… I needed something to distract me from Thanksgiving. And I kinda like Aiko… Well, enough rambling! Kioshi, you do the honors!

Kio: Okay… Well… p-please review… Hope you enjoyed… Jaa nee! *hides*

MBP: Ah, shy little Kioshi… Well, review please!