Author's note: Welp, sorry for wordiness and stuff. The grammar is likely to be a bit off as I'm not a native speaker, so I beg you forget it/tell me where the mistakes are. I hope this fic will have some original twists compared to the other fics, as I don't plan of sticking totally to the cannon.
And yeah, I don't think anyone has done the whole competition for social links thing before, but who knows. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. I'll try to follow a regular update schedule.
And uh, regarding this chapter... It's pretty boring. Things won't get interesting until they awake their personae, so please be patient.
Revised on 5th July 2011. I'm still looking for betas.
It all began a 6th of April of 2009. Two soon-to-be second years walked towards the train station, different cities and different times. Complete strangers to each other, one aloof and lost in his own world where music drowned his thoughts and prevented him from falling asleep- his blue hair fell idly over his right eye providing a nice cover from people's sight if he did, though; the other eager and happy, was keen on arriving as soon as possible to her new home, cheerful music inviting her to keep a memory of everything she could see in the way. She wore her reddish brown hair in a messy bun, hair clips keeping her bangs from blocking her vision.
They didn't meet when the later entered the wagon, since the train was completely full. As it got emptier, the boy casually glanced at the girl who kept her eyes fixed on the window, like looking at a ghost or maybe even a luminescent blue butterfly, just what he saw a second ago. After this derailed thought, he noticed they both were wearing the same uniform, that of those who would be attending to Gekkoukan High School from the following day onwards, but he didn't care enough to go and strike a conversation in the middle of one of his favourite songs. Furthermore, a voice just announced that the train would be late, so he wasn't in the talking mood.
Several stops later, the place was empty save for the two teens that kept ignoring each other and two or three more passengers. The doors opened, and as if they were subconsciously trying to avoid their destiny, they walked outside, each at one side of the train, ready to face a new day as the clock on the station struck midnight and their MP3s died.
The walk to the dorm was easy and uneventful for the boy. Well, uneventful might not be the best word… Let's say that what he lived in the way was already something usual in his life. Blood came out of nowhere, bathing the roads and reflecting poorly the light provided by a humungous full moon. As if the atmosphere wasn't ominous enough, all colours seemed to disappear, substituted by green and black hues and to top it, no person roamed the streets at that time. They all were busy turning into coffins, merely standing in the way, waiting for the time to finish.
But all of this couldn't bring him more than a dull surprise. He was way too used to it, not being capable to remember a time in which he hadn't experienced it. It was, in fact, the cause of his personality, his utter silence, hardly ever broken. He learned to keep all to himself, condemned to forever wondering if he was crazy or if he was simply alone in a world of oblivious people. Surprisingly enough, it was the later, as the girl walking among coffins could confirm. Fiery red eyes scanned the map she was given as she wandered in the dark streets, lost in a wrong turn back in the station. She could swear she saw a boy in red running around, following a black shape, but she knew better than to believe what she saw during that time so she decided to ditch it as a product of her imagination and quickened her pace even more.
That bizarre period was about to end, the blue haired teen could feel it. He had gone for a small walk ignoring the directions on his paper, trying to kill time until everything went back to normal. And so when he arrived to the building, he opened the door calmly, not expecting the first not so random encounter of his life: in a completely lighted room -which made the boy think his intuition was right- a child in an old prisoner pyjama, who looked just like Cesare, was apparently waiting for him. His creepily big blue eyes stared at him with expectation, making the older boy feel uncomfortable.
"You're late" the kid finally spoke, breaking the silence of the night "I've been waiting a long time for you. Now if you want to proceed, please sign your name there." The boy pointed to a red book. "It's a contract. Don't worry; all it says is that you'll accept full responsibility for your actions. You know… The usual stuff."
Something in the equation of "creepy child" plus "contract" plus "what's a kid doing in a dorm for high school students" didn't seem quite fitting, but he couldn't bring himself to care about it. He was way too tired, and all he wanted to do was to be taken to his room and sleep forever or until the next morning, so he took the ink… feather?
"Up-to-date technology." he thought sarcastically as he glanced at the old looking TV in the dorm. His sight went back to the sheet with the contract terms, which he skipped, and soon his hand was tracing kanji with really bad calligraphy.
"Arisato, Minato" the boy whispered in wonder, or maybe just to check that's what the symbols said, and then his expression changed to a grin "No one can escape time. It delivers us all to the same end. You can't plug your ears and cover your eyes." He put more emphasis in his speech using the contract to cover his right eye, and then made it disappear somehow.
Those words left Minato puzzled. He looked at the boy intently as he expected some kind of ominous disappearance; instead, the little guy walked towards the door and excused himself, saying that he had someone else to visit. Right in that moment the lights went out yet again, and someone shouted from the stairs…
The brunette's meeting with the mysterious boy was rather similar, it even happened in the same place, except that once again, the room was illuminated and no one was in it other than the child.
"My name is Hamuko. Seikatsu, Hamuko." the red eyed girl explained with a kind smile after she signed the contract, thinking it was just paper stuff before moving in the dorm "You live in this dorm too?" The boy answered with an unnerving smile and his time speech from before, and then he muttered to himself something along the lines of "And so it begins…" and proceeded to disappear into the darkness that engulfed the dorm once again. She didn't notice until now that a boy her age was right next to her staring intently something on the stairs to the first floor. "Am I seeing even more things?" she sighed, making the blue haired boy notice her.
"WHO'S THERE?" a voice shouted yet again, making Minato and Hamuko interchange confused glances. Their eyes went back to the source of the voice, a girl partially covered by the darkness of the dorm. She kept her hand a few inches away from her right thigh, where a belt held a…
"GET DOWN!" Hamuko cried as she tackled the blue haired boy to the ground as other girl took out a gun. Instead of pointing at them,however, she moved the gun towards her forehead.
"Takeba, wait!" yet another voice shouted from the upper stairs. Suddenly, the lights came back. A remix of "Burn my dread" filled the boy's ears, letting him forget the whole situation, and "Sun" gave Hamuko some insight into what she had just done, making her rush away from atop Minato- who seemed to be surprisingly comfortable dozing off on the ground; so much he wasn't willing to cooperate as Hamuko pulled him up with all her might, fearing she had hurt him.
"We didn't expect you to be so late" a red haired teen who looked slightly older than the rest explained. She looked away from the new arrivals, giving the girl wielding a gun a disapproving look.
"Who are they?" the other girl replied as she tried to hide the gun under her pink cardigan without much success. She nervously ran her left hand through her light brown hair, trying to compose her thoughts after what she had almost done.
"They're transfer students. It was a last minute decision to assign them to this dorm; they'll eventually be moved to the normal dorms." It was then when she noticed the puzzled expressions of the soon-to-be students "My name is Mitsuru Kirijo, and this is Yukari Takeba. She'll be a junior this spring, just like you two."
"Is it okay for them to be here?" Yukari looked at Minato and Hamuko with distrust
"I guess we'll see…" Mitsuru whispered and motioned Yukari to greet the others.
"Hi… I'm Yukari" she whispered, still unsettled by the presence of the teens.
"I'm Hamuko Seikatsu!" the girl with red eyes introduced herself with her everlasting glee. Yukari found her unnatural eye colour slightly unnerving, just as she found Mitsuru's, which was a darker shade of red, but didn't give it much more thought; she could only smile at the girl's enthusiasm.
"Minato Arisato." The boy with blue hair glanced at the girl with tired blue eyes, too exhausted to care about the look of slight interest the brunette in pink had given him. "Nice to meet you."
Once the introductions were over, Mitsuru ordered Yukari to show each teen their respective rooms. They walked upstairs, Minato forcing his feet to drag him to the next floor, Hamuko rushing upstairs like she was high on sugar. When they arrived to the boys' floor, Yukari broke the silence that had filled the dorm since the little incident.
"Was everything okay in your way here?"
"Yeah, coffins and blood, normal stuff" Both thought, but instead they replied a "Just fine." simultaneously, which made the red eyed girl glance at Minato with curiosity while the boy dropped his sight to the ground, wondering why couldn't Yukari just tell him where his room was. He wanted to tell her badly that no one cared about her questions.
"…I see." Yukari replied unconvinced "Well, anyway, I'm sure you have a lot of questions, but let's save them for tomorrow." She then explained a few dorm rules, and finally turned to the boy who was about to fall asleep, if he wasn't doing so already. "Your room is at the end of the corridor. Easy to remember, right?" She paused to see Minato nodding his head slowly "Well, have a goodnight!"
While Minato barely managed to arrive at his room and slump on the bed, the girls were talking on the way to the third floor. Hamuko remembered something that had been bothering her.
"Does that little boy live in the dorm too?" Disappointment filled her face as Yukari muttered a confused "what boy?" in reply. "I really must have imagined it. Am I going crazy? Crazier?"
"Anyway." Yukari interrupted Hamuko's train of thought "Your room is that one to the right at the end, mine is at the beginning of the corridor." She smiled trying to erase the awkward feeling provoked by their first encounter. "Good night!"
Hamuko shut the door behind her and sat down on her bed at the same time she let out a worried sigh. "This promises to be an interesting year." she thought, slightly less eager than before. She looked among her possessions, which had already been taken to the dorm days before her arrival, and soon she was sleeping in her pyjamas, even though she felt quite restless in that place.
The night went on without any occurrences, and soon the morning arrived. Minato's sleep wouldn't have been bothered at all by this daily phenomenon hadn't two girls arrived with it.
"You awake?" Yukari's voice asked from behind the door. Minato decided to ignore her, which only made things worse, as the girl next to her decided to check by herself.
"Come on, lazy!" Hamuko shouted as she tried to drag Minato out of his bed only to make him fall to the floor. "Don't tell me you fell asleep with your uniform on! Not a nice way to cause first impressions, dude!"
Yukari managed to bring the boy out of his shelter of sheets on the ground reminding him that that day was the first day of school, and their senpai, Mitsuru, had asked her to take them to school.
After a quick breakfast, they rushed to the station to take the New City passenger train, Anehazuru, which took them over the sea to Tatsumi Port Island, where their high school was placed. When the train stopped in Port Island Station, they quickened their pace to the school, noticing they were a bit short on time thanks to a certain bluenette who decided to zone out in the train.
Upon arriving to the school, Yukari walked ahead with Minato to make sure the boy followed, while Hamuko stayed behind, interested in taking a close look at everything she saw- specially the students wandering around. Minato had mentally labelled her as spunky because of this, even though he pretty much did the same as soon as the girl with the cardigan and him went their separate ways after she gave him a quick reminder of not telling anyone about the last night.
"Smooth, Yukari, smooth." He thought as a pair of students glanced at him and whispered about something involving him and Yukari while he checked a table where all the student names were listed. He found his written under "2-F", and soon he found something just as interesting "Oh, hello there, gossip fuel." Yukari was in his homeroom. He noticed Hamuko's name was there as well, but he honestly cared about her way less than he did about Yukari… That girl was really something. Hamuko was okay but… She lacked charm or something.
"Speaking of the devil" he muttered to himself as the aforementioned girl rushed to his side, asking where the heck they had gone and why they had left her alone, shaking his arm while pouting. Minato looked around only to see people staring at them and whispering.
"Didn't that guy just come to school with Takeba? Who's this chick now?" A guy said a bit too loud, enough as for both stars of the story to hear it. Hamuko's expression showed she was kind of upset, and she seemed ready to say something back to the offender when Minato stopped her explaining that both of them and Yukari would be in the same classroom, much to the girl's delight. Then he remembered Yukari mentioned before leaving that they should go see their teacher, and soon, they were heading to the faculty office together, at Hamuko's request.
Inside, a brown haired teacher was speaking with a work partner about… "Did I just hear "cake"?" Minato wondered for a second what kind of topic was that. Right after, he cleared his throat trying to get their teacher's attention. She turned around immediately and glanced at the teenagers with questioning eyes.
"Oh, are you the new students? You're Minato Arisato and you're Hamuko Seikatsu… 11th grade, correct?" the teacher took a folder and overlooked a bunch of pages before she carried on talking "Seems you two have a lot of common. You both have lived in a lot of different places, and apparently in 1999… Ten years ago? Your parents…" Her words stopped with a gasp, as she noticed the pained looks in both teenagers' faces. What she didn't notice was the curious glance they gave each other right afterwards, deeply surprised at the coincidence "Sorry, I've been busy and I couldn't read this beforehand. I'm Ms. Toriumi. I teach composition. Welcome to our school."
"Pleased to meet you!" Hamuko answered with a smile, while Minato only nodded to show he was listening.
The teacher smiled back at Hamuko "So have you seen the classroom assignments? You're in 2-F, my class. But first, we need to go to the auditorium. The Welcoming Ceremony will start soon. Follow me."
The teens did as ordered and soon they were sitting in comfortable cinema seats, which Minato could have used to take a quick nap hadn't Hamuko been next to him blabbering about whatever. She was thankfully silenced by the words of the principal.
"As you begin the new school year, I'd like each of you to remember the proverb "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well." When applied to student life, this means…" The principal kept talking and talking.
"This guy is in love with his own voice." Hamuko whispered to Minato and giggled, and he couldn't help but to chuckle as well, first for how right that was, and second because he found it ironic that she was the one saying it.
"So you heard? We've got two transfer students this year, and one of them came to school with Yukari Takeba. THE Yukari Takeba!"
"No way, man! I heard a lot of people saw him in the school hall acting like he was really close to the other transfer student, the one with the weird eyes."
"My, rumours spread fast." Minato commented with an annoyed tune from his seat, right ahead of the student who talked first.
"You guys can't gossip in low voice like normal people or what?" she shuffled on her seat to face the gossipers "And just so you know I met this guy yesterday, alright?" after retorting at them, Hamuko sat down normally, but she was still paying attention to the guys' chatter.
"…I guess she really gets around." One of the boys whispered and the other nodded in agreement, missing the twitching girl in front of them.
"WHAT DID YOU JUST…" she was cut off by the deadly glare Ms. Toriumi gave her, which made her sit down on the act, right before a stern faced teacher made a comment about someone in the composition teacher's class talking, which made the teacher's glare change aims.
The meeting was over as soon as the principal finished his speech, which was most likely ignored by the whole auditorium, and so all the students headed towards their respective classes, where the teacher gave them a few more pointers about the school, and a long lecture. Finally, the class was over.
"That was loooooooooong." Hamuko stated and then added a yawn to reinforce it. "I think your drowsiness is rubbing off me, dude."
"Needs more coffee." Minato replied half drooling in the table. A sudden scream made him raise his head in alert, a thread of saliva still decorating his chin.
"'SUP DUDE!" a boy with a baseball cap was the source of the noise. Minato glared at him and proceeded to go back to his previous position "Hey, I'm Junpei Iori, but I'm… Uh… Sure you guys have seen me around." He rubbed the back of his head and looked at the blue haired boy and then at Hamuko. "What's his problem?" he muttered, and after getting a shrug in response, he continued with his monologue. "A-anyway, I just wanted to say that I was a transfer student back in 8th grade, so I know how it feels to be the new kid, and I wanted to tell you guys can tell me if you need… Anything." He said the last word with a lame try at a seductive voice as he winked at Hamuko, making her wince. "Huh, I guess the rumours weren't true after all."
"Ugh, I thought you'd know better than to believe those stupid rumours." Yukari answered from the door, having apparently watched all the interchange. "I mean, I'm already used to rumours, but it's her first day! Give her a rest!"
"Alright Yuka-tan. SO…" Junpei wore a mischievous grin again "What about those rumours about you and the sleeping blue guy?" said boy looked up at the mention of his hair colour. "You know, coming to school together, like if you were all close… Come on, give me the dirt!"
"I-I… You guys took it wrong!" she looked at Minato with a worried face while Junpei went back to hitting on Hamuko "You didn't tell anyone about… You know, right?"
"I didn't." The boy reassured her with a serious tune.
"Seriously though. Don't tell anyone about last night."
Junpei almost fell down when he heard the last phrase. "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? Y-You guys really—?"
"IT'S NOT LIKE THAT!" Yukari shouted at the teen with the cap, who flailed his arms as he tried to compute the information. Hamuko observed the situation thoroughly amused from her desk, which was placed next to Yukari's. "Better than TV."
Yukari finally stormed off, unable to get Junpei to reason. The boy then proceeded to praise Minato by saying he really was the man, and that it was great it was only his first day and people were already talking about him.
"He comes to school with the most popular girl and he's Mr. Charm and I arrive a bit later and I'm the new slut." Hamuko spat the last word with a weird mix of resignation and amusement. "You better help me out of this, Minato-kun."
"Minato-kun? When did we get on first name basis, even?" Minato asked as he glared at her. Surely, she only wanted to make things worse.
"Ah, forget it man. Rumors are just rumors, they'll soon be gone." Junpei nodded to himself. He opened his mobile phone to check the hour, just to realise how late it was getting "Hey, wanna walk home together?"
Before Minato could politely decline the offer, Hamuko accepted and somehow dragged him along. She had found Junpei's bad tries at seduction funny, so she considered she might as well spend some time with the guy as a compensation for turning him down right after meeting him.
Junpei and Hamuko made small talk while Minato listened to music as he walked by their side. Soon they arrived to the dorm and Junpei took off to his house.
"I'm beat. I'm going to bed." Minato announced after he signed his name in a sign-in book which had to be delivered to the school every so often to make sure no one missed the dorm's curfew. He could swear he felt his head spin as he finished writing his name, just the same as when he signed the contract the mysterious little boy gave him. "More contracts?"
"World moves on contracts, man." Hamuko stated as she motioned him to move so she could write her signature as well.
"What contracts are you talking about?" Yukari asked confused from the sofa.
"The one the little boy gave me…" the blue haired boy saw Hamuko open her mouth but he didn't mind her.
"You too see things?" the brunette in a cardigan hit her forehead with the palm of her head "Look, there are no children in this dorm, so no boy could have ever given you a contract." She sighed "You guys ate something bad in the station?"
Minato shook his head ending the conversation, and then headed to his room. "Eh, you know what? I think I'll go to bed early too." As Minato reached the corridor of the boys' floor, Hamuko stopped his steps by blocking the way to his door with her body and arms. "You!" the boy was trying to avoid her without results. "You saw that kid too!" he stopped abruptly and looked at her with an undecipherable expression which turned into Minato's version of shock: paying attention "You… You were conscious at that time too, right? You saw the kid and you could see the coffins and the blood and everything, didn't you?"
Red eyes were fixed on blue ones, begging him to answer. Minato barely nodded his head, and whispered something about talking the following day before he carefully moved Hamuko aside in order to enter to his room. The girl was left on the outside, gaping, until she regained her senses and began stomping on the ground "Why not now?" she shouted at the closed door. She didn't receive any answer from inside, so she kicked the offending furniture with all her rage, regretting badly ever doing so as she let out a loud scream.
"Is everything alright?" Mitsuru asked from downstairs, suspicion in her voice.
"O-oh yeah, everything is perfectly fine, I… uh- I tripped and hurt my feet, that's it!" Hamuko lied as she tried her best to stop jumping in pain.
"Do you require my assistance?" the red head offered as she slowly got up from one of the armchairs in the lounge.
"N-NO! I mean- That won't be necessary, thank you!" Hamuko then proceeded to limp her way upstairs trying her best not to be seen. She knew better than to let Mitsuru see her in the boys' corridor. Soon, she arrived at her room and fell to the bed ipso facto, cussing mentally at Minato. In spite of this, she couldn't take a thought out of her mind. "I'm not…"
"…Alone." Minato thought as he closed his eyes, falling in Morpheus's arms. The fact of finding out he might not be crazy after all made a small smile creep into his usually stoic face.