The ashes drifted away in the wind as Arthur Kirkland smashed a cigarette against the side of his high school. The package beside him in the grass was empty, save for one last stick...shit. He'd have to get his brother to buy him more.

"Kiku, you got a light?"

The Asian sitting across from him shook his head no, silent as ever. Arthur had always admired Kiku's sense of style...some sort of Eastern-gothic-punk that the Brit knew if he ever attempted himself, it would look ridiculous. Only his friend could pull it off. Visual...visual-some-Japanese-word. Fuck if he knew.

"Demitri?"

His other friend sat in a shadow the building cast off, curled up into a ball. His completely black attire was a norm, as was his pale skin and red contact lenses. Arthur listened to the teenager he considered an acquaintance, the voice clipped with a light Slavic accent.

"There is no light. All leads to darkness...you can ask countless times, for eternity, but light will never come..."

"...right. Forgive me for asking."

Demitri had always been a bit of a downer.

This was their group. A Japanese shut-in who dressed like something out of a hardcore music video, a Romanian goth who never seemed to have anything to be happy about, and Arthur.

Arthur, the 'British kid' with bright-red hair, dark eyeliner, pale makeup, and jeans that were far tighter than they ought to be. Today, he sported a black tank-top that read 'Sex Pistols,' featuring an image of the band. He sighed, looking at the cigarette in between his fingers.

"...well shit. I left my lighter in my car."

Just then, a light chime sounded from the P.A. system. The odd group looked upward, save for Demitri. Arthur scoffed as an overly peppy voice echoed throughout the school.

"All students, please report to the gymnasium at this time! Spirit Week begins today! All students, please report to the gymnasium! Go Owls!"

The three got up. Skipping class was one thing (as they were now), but pep rallies were mandatory. Not like they actually gave a shit about their grades. Or much of anything. Arthur began ranting, popping some gum to mask the scent of smoke.

"Spirit Week. What a fuckin' joke. Who's actually proud to come from a place like this? Stupid little bitches and jocks, that's who. Won't grow up to be nothin' but dead-end...ugh..."

Kiku nodded, slipping his hands in his pockets as he overtook Arthur on his way to the gym. Demitri caught up, speaking alongside his British friend.

"Are we going to sit in the corner?"

"Of course we are, Dem, it's the darkest and least-crowded in the corner."

"...good. My twisted soul can delve deeper into the shadows."

"Christ, Dem, lighten up."

"What good is that? We're all just going to die anyway...doesn't matter how kind or hateful you are...it all ends the same..."

Arthur slowed, intentionally letting Demitri go further ahead and away. There was a reason the kid was merely an 'acquaintance' to the Brit, rather than a friend.

He entered the noisy gym, enjoying the stares. Girls whispering about how he was either frightening, a 'bad boy,' or hot. Some would even move to the other side of the bleachers in fear. The guys mostly called him out; freak. Fag. Stupid asshole. Anything, really. Arthur had heard it all, and frankly, if he gave a shit, then he wouldn't look the way he did.

He sat down in the corner, joining Demitri and Kiku. Damn, he should've remembered this was Spirit Week; Arthur could have planned some sort of prank. It was always excellent fun to steal the cheerleaders duffel bags, cut holes in their bras, things like that. Or their best one yet had been the time Demitri had cut the lights. Ah, God, all those freaked out screams. That had been the best.

"Everybody! Put your hands together for the Union Valley High Owls!"

And now all hell broke loose as the entire student body save for three individuals exploded into cheers, chanting 'Owls!' as the football came out from the locker rooms. Arthur rolled his eyes, starting to go off again.

"Look at 'em all, caught up in stupid shit like this. Don't they know there are more important things going on? Honestly, does every fuckin' thing in this country have to revolve around sports?"

"Lost souls in a sea of despair."

And a shake 'No' from Kiku.

The trio winced as the quarterback's name was called, eliciting the highest-pitched screeches from the girls and the most brutish roars from the boys.

Alfred F. Jones. Number 50.

"And they treat him like a fuckin' God. Why the fuck is he so special? 'Cause he can catch and throw and kick a ball? I bet the bastard's failing his classes just like us, and they still let him play, just 'cause its so important for the team. Asshole."

"Next up, everyone hoot for the Owlettes!"

And now came the aggravating hooting. Arthur screamed an obscenity as loud as he could, going completely unnoticed by it all. The cheerleaders came bouncing out, their perky smiles making up for their lack of perky breasts. Or breasts at all.

"Dumb sluts. How much you wanna bet they've all been shagged? Probably like it, too."

Arthur would also bet anything that Jones had fucked at least half of them. He wasn't bad looking, the Brit would at least give him that. His blonde hair was bright and groomed, except for a weird-ass cowlick on the front. The quarterback's blue eyes had a certain hue to them that Arthur wished he could find somewhere else so that could stop associating it with the jock. And that smile. Even here in the very back, darkest corners of the gymnasium, Jones' smile was visible.

Yes. Alfred probably had the little slags lined up begging for his dick, with looks like that.

"Arthur?"

Demitri spoke, taking Arthur out of his daze.

"W-what?"

The goth turned back to the crowd and floor, his expression and tone neutral.

"Normally I don't keep record of conversation, but this is the tenth time you've brought up Jones, and we're only two months into the year. There are other members of the team you can focus hatred upon, you know."

"...I know that...but he's the epicenter of it all. So...so hating him means I hate all of them!"

"...if you say so."

The goth stood up, making his way to the stairs.

"I'm going to go find a storage closet to bask in."

And the Romanian left, avoiding any physical contact, much like a shadow.

...God, that kid had problems.

"I'm blowin', too, Kiku. Fuck this, right?"

The Japanese teen shook his head. Right, right, he actually cared about his standards. Cutting class, yet making excellent marks through online study. Arthur wondered what would happen if his friend ever lost wifi.

"Kay. Later."

Arthur descended the stairs, hearing the hushed whispers about him amongst the screams for the team. He glanced down to the court, seeing number fifty wave to the crowd, flashing that grin to everyone. God, what a tool. Like American football was actually going to be useful later in life.

Alfred turned in the punk's direction, flashing a smile directly at Arthur. The Brit was taken aback by how suddenly this had happened and, in pure reflex, shot the jock the bird before leaving the gym in a flustered, angry state.