The hallways were full of pinstripe pants, and gray plaid skirts, all bustling around in the heat. A short boy, shorter than even most of the girls, cursed in his mind as he struggled through the crowd.

"Hey, motherfuckin' best friend," came a familiar, almost zoned out voice. The short boy felt a huge hand clap down on his shoulder. "You're all up an' looking spiffy in that jacket, man!" The voice was deep, but scratchy. The short boy, Karkat, gazed up.

"What the fuck, Gamzee? You're not even wearing the uniform!" The tall boy, at least six foot three, gave Karkat a smile, red hoodie and baggy cargo jeans splotched with old stains.

"Naw, motherfucker, that shit's for geeks. I see you got some god damn skinny jeans on." Gamzee's face, painted like a clowns with some makeup, broke into a wide smile. Karkat looked down as they walked, observing his overly-skinny legs as they shuffled along in their gray skinny jeans.

"Yeah, Gamzee, you already know those pants look retarded on me," he scowled. "You can be such a dumbass."

"Alright, best friend, this be my stop. You know your locker number?"

"612," growled the puny guy. Gamzee messed up Karkat's shaggy black hair before pulling away to his locker.

Damnit, I can't believe I let Gamzee pull me into this shit. I don't even know anybody here. I guess that's what you get when you get expelled, he thought to himself as he spun the lock to his aged locker with a pale hand. He pulled it open, and the musty smell made him cough. This place might have been prestigious, but it could sure use a good janitor. Karkat pulled his messenger bag over his shoulder, and looked at it. He checked to see if anyone was watching, before leaving it on his body.

Karkat caught glimpse of a band of students, all muscular, minus a girl, and all exhibiting the signs of "classic douche bags." One was tall, and looked like he was on steroids. His front teeth were chipped, and a black wife-beater was worn under his open jacket. The next was skinny, and his uniform was perfect. His blonde hair stuck up in the front with a purple highlight, and large square glasses stuck firm on the bridge of his nose. The last was a girl. She was medium height, curvy, and wearing a boy's uniform. She had glasses with a dark lens over her left eye.

Karkat watched as they past by him, the steroids one glaring at him from behind cracked sunglasses. They headed straight for a boy about 4 lockers down. He was only about an inch taller than him, with black hair too. He was clad in the entire school uniform, but a neon green tie replaced the black, red, or gold ones he had been instructed that were mandatory. He had glasses perched low on his nose, and a hint of buckteeth prompted from underneath his smiling lips. He didn't seem to notice the gang moving up on him, until he was pushed into his locker, and glasses snatched from his face.

Karkat's grip on his locker door tightened, a creak whining from the freshly dented metal. He had been expelled from his previous school for beating up a teacher. Gamzee had been expelled the same day, and in direct correlation to the teacher's beating. Gamzee had been caught high, but he was always high, and said teacher tried to forcibly remove Karkat's zoned out best friend, eventually yanking him out of his chair. Some things happened, and the teacher was sent to the hospital, and the two to the principal's office. And now Karkat felt the same rage he had felt that day well up in the pit of his belly.

"Hey, Egderp, you finish our Algebra?" the blonde boy said dominantly. Steroids held him up against his locker, and the nerdy boy squinted, the dorky smile still wide across his lips.

"Oh, yeah guys! It's, um, in my locker," explained the boy. His voice was a little feminine, but held manly undertones. Karkat's grip tightened even more on his locker. His orange eyes watched the harassment from peripheral vision. Steroids dropped the boy, and the girl handed him back his now-cracked glasses. The boy dug in his backpack, and pulled out three neat papers, handing them to Blondie. Blondie read them over, and tossed them to the floor.

"You think this is a joke, Egbert? Those papers all look the same!" The nerd was pushed back up against the locker, and a swift punch was administered to the his gut. That was all Karkat could take, and he slammed his locker shut.

"Hey, fuckers. Back the fuck off," Karkat growled, fists clenching. The bullies paused, and Steroids punched the nerd in the face.

"What're you gonna do about it, Shorty?" Blondie laughed, and Karkat's lips drew up in a snarl.

"This, dumbass." He charged forward, giving a brutal punch in the jaw to Blondie.

"Equius, help!" shouted the girl while Karkat continued to beat the shit out of Blondie. Steroids gave one final punch, straight to the eye of the nerd, and yanked Karkat from Blondie, punching him in the jaw.

Karkat kicked out, catching Steroids in his chipped teeth. He fell to the tile, and continued to beat the pulp out of Steroids. The girl had run off to get a teacher, and the nerdy boy sat stunned, staring in awe at the short ball of fire taking on both male bullies at once. The girl returned a few minuets later with two teachers, but both bullies lay unconscious on the floor. Blondie had a bleeding lip, and Steroids had a nose cracked to the side, while blood lay on Karkat's fists. One teacher looked at the boy sitting up against his locker, a big bruise forming around his eye, and blood leaking from a split lip.

Karkat paid no mind to the teachers, or the unconscious bullies, and walked over to the boy, extending a torn hand down. "You okay, kid?" asked the pale boy, and the nerdy one accepted the hand up.

"I… I…" he stuttered, and Karkat got a look at the eyes behind the splintered glasses. They were blue, bluer than should be permitted. Deep and clear... and blue. An ocean, really. Karkat looked down, and realized he was still holding the blue-eyed boy's hand. He released it suddenly, jerking his arm back, and noticed a few specks of dark blood on the stranger's sleeve.

"Shit, sorry," he grumbled, finally looking at the teachers. They were angry. The girl squat, trying to revive the fainted bullies. The two teachers gripped Karkat's sleeve, and the nerdy boy reached out.

"What is it, John?" asked the female teacher, her voice gentle.

"Let me go with him, and help explain," pleaded John Egbert, his lip still leaking. It was obvious John's mind had been made up. Karkat gazed at him, vibrant eyes confused. They were lead to Headmaster Hussie's office, John's arm brushing close to Karkat's, who was still shaking with adrenaline.

Long in the future, but not too long...

The lunch period bell had rung just when Karkat Vantas walked out of Headmaster Hussie's office with John Egbert. After much yelling, dramatic movements, and explanations, Karkat got away with only a green detention slip in his hands.

"You didn't have to do that for me, you moron. It looks like I kicked your ass, too," hissed the grouchy boy.

"You didn't have to do what you did either, Karkat." John seemed to struggle at the name, having pronounced it "Karkit" more than once, and gave his new acquaintance an apologizing look.

"You said it right, dumbass." The hallway was now flooded with students, but John seemed to have no problem sticking right next to Karkat. "Why are you following me?"

"I just want to talk to you. I mean, all you did was swoop in and kick the biggest bullies' in the school's asses! On a stranger's behalf, too! What's your deal, bro, are you some sort of superhero, or something?"

Karkat stopped, the hallways clearing, and he turned to the boy, orange eyes flaring.

"You listen to me, John Egbert. I'm not a super hero, I'm not anything. I'm a fucking loser, and a defect on the face of this planet. I'm scum, a monster, gross, and a horrible person in general. Stay away from me, because I'll only make your life miserable with my pathetic existence." Karkat spat out the words, and John caught a glimpse inside his mouth, canine teeth were elongated and pointy, but not vampiric, almost feline. Before John could protest, Karkat was storming off toward a tall boy who was nursing a bottle of red Faygo.

"I don't think you're a monster." John's whisper went unheard to him, and it seemed like it was only him and Karkat in the school at that moment. It was excruciating not to be able to talk to the boy who saved him, almost as excruciating as the pain radiating from his swollen eye.

They're going to go after him now, too, thought John as he begrudgingly trudged to the lunchroom, and took a soggy piece of pizza. He wondered whom the tall kid had been. Karkat seemed so familiar with him, but then again, he'd never seen Karkat before that morning.

As he exited the area to get food, and entered the room with rows and rows of tables, he spotted a near white haired boy, and a platinum blonde girl. He took a seat across from the girl. She, Rose, took a quick glance at him from her knitting, obviously already knowing the entire story.

"Hey guys! How's your day been going?" John's voice cracked nervously once as he picked at the blob of cheese and much the school passed off as pizza. Dave glanced up from his iPhone for a second, then back down, and then his head shot up like a rocket, causing his black shades to shift on his face.

"Holy shit! Not as eventful as yours obviously! Fuck, Egbert, what happened?" Dave's voice had the sound of anger bubbling through it as he quietly exclaimed.

"Uh," John began, but Rose cleared her voice authoritatively, causing both boys to turn to her.

"I know what happened. The boy's name is Karkat Vantas, correct?" Her question was directed at John, but Dave sprung up.

"Some Vantas bitch kicked your ass?" John's eyes widened at the thought, and held up his hands.

"No, no, no! Dave, calm down!" John begged, but Dave was furious.

"Dave Strider, I'd advise you to take a seat and let me finish explaining," Rose commanded. Dave, like a whipped puppy, obeyed.

"John was in a fight with some bullies, it was three against one. Karkat Vantas merely kicked the living shit out of those bullies. He protected John, and didn't hurt him."

John hastily agreed, but knew Strider would never believe him if he told him it was Equius, Vriska, and Eridan who were the source of his constant torture, and the reason there was always a spare bag of peas, or a steak in the freezer. Dave always hung out with those three, being a cool kid and all.

"Karkat Vantas, along with Gamzee Makara, just transferred here. They're new students, and seem to be quite close as well," Rose said, pointing out the two, sitting side by side at one of the tables. It was abandoned, save the two. Gamzee was sucking down another bottle of Faygo, and Karkat was crunching away on a bag of cheetos.

The two didn't speak, but seemed to understand each other in a mutual silence. Every so often, Karkat would hold the bag's mouth cocked toward Gamzee, who would steal a handful, and then the cycle repeated.

John studied the gray and white clown makeup Gamzee wore, compared to Karkat's milky complexion. The soft white skin seemed flawless except a long scar trailing down the left side of his neck. It puckered and moved while he chewed and swallowed the cheesy junk food, clearly unaware, or just disinterested, in everything going on around him.

John felt a poke in his ribs. "Stop ogling, Egbert, or do you have a crush on your big hero? Aw! Princess Egbert and Prince Vantas!" Dave teased, making mock kissy faces. John shoved him laughing, and joking back.

John Egbert was mystified by Karkat Vantas. John couldn't understand how Karkat seemed to hate himself, or why he transferred in the middle of Fall, or why he had even taken notice of the beating this morning. John Egbert was royally confused, and had a new mission.

Befriend the boy who saved him.