Chapter 1

Have you ever wanted to feel like water? To effortlessly slip through the fingers of many and yet, be strong enough to hold up a ship? Well, that's how Len felt. Some days he wanted to evaporate and simply fade away from the lives of others. While on other days he just wanted to run off. His thoughts never condensed and his mind was in a never ending precipitation that possessed all the subtle violence of hail. Seemingly harmless but potentially fatal if left for too long. His ground water was in eternal turmoil, because the aquifers were often inaccessible and blocked up beyond belief making the entire process a strenuous and taxing ordeal.

"Okay! Pass your tests forward, times up ladies and gentleman." Mrs. Meiko called to the class.

Biting his bottom lip Len stared down at the paper; every question still blank. The page was whiter than snow and dryer than the Sahara desert. Not one scratch on it, or answer. He glanced up at a hideous green and brown clock straight ahead of him. For the not first time he cursed how quickly an hour and twenty minutes went by when he idly sat with a test. Around him was the slight rustling and noise of his classmates passing their own tests in with swift scrutinious glimpses over their papers before they passed them forward. Len remained ramrod stiff in his seat as her heard tests behind him approaching.

It was a good thing then that Mrs. Meiko didn't prowl up and down the rows like most other teachers at this school. Another factor that proved she in her nature was obviously too trusting of her students. The desks and chairs were already bolted down anyway, and they'd only just a couple months ago lifted the ban on outside utensils due to an especially fanatical student. Who of course had considered it of the utmost essence to make a weapon out of a pen, three elastics, and a sharpener. It was amusing to Len all the free time people seemed to have. Maybe Mrs. Meiko figured there was nothing else students could possibly do wrong. Especially not under her watch. Mrs. Meiko wasn't an overly tall woman, she was quite average in that regard and it was sometimes comical how male students towered over her by several inches. Her height however didn't diminish the fact that she was an imperious force to be reckoned with. She was put together with a style that came across as effortless, and it came across as her life's mission to constantly wear the color red in some shade or form. Meiko's hair was a soft brown, short, and cut in a style that wasn't quite entirely a bob. Her lips were a glossy pink despite all the red. She wore a rufous red fitted sheath dress with a crimson belt and matching peep-toe stilettos. The kind of outfit that was classy and yet drew less than innocent attention. It wasn't until Len caught her gaze that he realized she was staring directly at him.

"Len's row, have you passed your tests in?" She asked politely. Addressing him almost like a child as she watched the stack of papers around him being passed forward. Kaito shoved Len from behind gesturing for him to take the tests none too kindly. His annoyance bolstering - and an idea in mind - Len twisted around in his chair.

"You just made me forget what I was gonna put down," Len said heatedly through clenched teeth.

"What?" Kaito replied with a glower. Len nearly dropped his act at Kaito's absurd face meant to be threatening. "We all know you're not gonna write anything down, Lenny. So don't go wasting our time with that crap." He drew the words out long attempting arrogance. It was near impossible to feel threatened by Kaito Shion however. It was hard to fear any man who spent all his free time getting slapped by various scantily clad women.

"Don't screw with me. I'm writing plenty down," Len said narrowing his eyebrows challenging Kaito to respond. Kaito held Len's gaze and Len readied his fists for any back talk. His fists were burning for a fight. It had been a while since he'd hit anybody or been in a decent brawl. Then suddenly Len wasn't Kaito's sole focus anymore. Kaito turned his sharp gaze on Mrs. Meiko and abruptly stood from his desk. The sudden movement that rattled everyone else in the classroom was enough for Len.

"Besides, who the hell do you think you are calling us Len's row? I'm not that moronic deadbeats lackey. Got that teach?" Kaito snapped at Mrs. Meiko. The class let out a series of hollers and coos. It was all very animalistic.

Mrs. Meiko however merely smiled at Kaito, and picked up a ruler from the white board. It took her three elegant steps and four poise, quick strikes to take Kaito down. Once on the shins, once in the stomach, one on the lower part of his back where his baggy jeans painfully sagged, and one finally on both his hands before she flipped off his skater hat and it landed with a soft clap at the back of the room. He fell to the ground when she whipped his legs out from under him and he crashed to the floor.

"Don't ever stand up in my class and yell at me!" she shouted. "And if you have the guile to do so, at least stand straight with your pants on properly! Need I even mention how little a belt costs, or your hat?" She glared down coldly at Kaito and he squirmed under her scrutinizing gaze. The ruler pressed firmly against his chest like an awaiting verdict if he dared any further actions against her.

"Next time I'm breaking them," she clarified acidly. Not one hair out of place. Not a mar on her clothing.

Kaito nodded soundlessly. Any whimpers of pain or litanies of profanity he had were snuffed. Len would have laughed about the entire foolish situation Kaito landed himself in, but he'd been too occupied with switching Kaito's finished test with his. Len had swapped their names. An innocent forgery. And now he was stacking the tests neatly on his desk while Mrs. Meiko wasn't looking. When she turned to him her face lit up.

"Oh you're done Len!" She cheered instantly before retrieving the tests from him. "All right, everyone is excused now," Mrs. Meiko finally dismissed casually.

Several groans and grunts chorused throughout the room as students rose. Everyone got up from their seats and started heading out. Many were stretching out kinks and sore joints, simple because it was half an hour after the dismissal bell had sounded. Mrs. Meiko was one of those teachers who believed people work better in a group and that peers have a positive influence on you. She had a firm conviction that the presence of others along with discussion helped brew entire entities of spontaneous ideas in her students.

Meaning, that she was a cold heartless woman that never let anyone go or even think of leaving until every last person was done their work or had completed that days assignments. She didn't care if you had an appointment or cram school and wouldn't hear anything of panicked students needing to catch early buses and soothe restless parents. If one wasn't done, everybody stayed. There was absolutely no reason that got her to shift or break her own rule. She was young, but old and stubborn with bloodhound tendencies.

One year a kid had sliced a major vain to try to leave assisted by the urgency of his situation. However everyone knew how that one had played out. Nobody knew Meiko used to work in the major medical leagues until that day or that she kept such supplies for urgent procedures such as that close at hand. It was borderline insanity, but that was the awful truth. That day she'd made everyone stay extra long to help clean up along with making the kid write an essay about treating your body with respect and not using it to get out of class. Her class specifically.

As Len slung his bag over his shoulder Meiko was at her usual. She'd made it routine to wave to all her students on their way out even as they murmured crude slangs and slurs under their breath. Still, she insisted on influencing them to be safe and all around the smart individuals she believed them all to be. Being in Mrs. Meiko's class was literally a death sentence itself, and not just for time. She could take out a kid with one hit from her ruler, but she preferred to cause more pain to teach lessons and usually delivered several hits. Len and the rest of his classmates had all been unlucky enough to have her two years in a row and this was the second. Despite all that, Len possessed a slim degree of respect for her. She could at least keep her class under control and taught in a way that captivated her students.

"Have a wonderful night everyone. Be safe!" she hollered with a smile. Waving to all her students but she stopped Len and with warm hands clasped one of his hands in her delicate, finely manicured ones. She gazed at him, her eyes full of concern.

"Len, if you're worried about your test I assure you that you did well. If not, all the students are open to a rewrite. So don't stress about it okay?" She reassured and he pulled his hand away slowly. He did his best to smile back but doing his utmost best not to be awkward or obvious about it. The torture would only last a few seconds

"Yeah, thank you," he said dryly finally leaving the classroom for the day.

Why did she have to tell him that? He wasn't dumb, just didn't see the point in particularly doing work and junk. Procrastination had consumed the better part of him in his age. Studying as well was way too arduous a task when he could be browsing the web or dwelling in the walks he so enjoyed. He valued his free time too much to devote it to school or other people. Len shoved his hands into his pockets and adjusting his bag on his shoulder, he began walking away. He heard the daily soundtrack of Mrs. Meiko calling from behind him.

"Be safe!" She repeated. What a stupid woman he couldn't help but think as he fished his Ipod out of his pocket. Be safe? Sometimes he swore that she forgot she taught at Vocalo High; the school of delinquents. With a peeved sigh he stuck his earphones in his ears and turned up the volume: music drowned out all others sounds around him with its relevance.

. . .

At some point during his walk home Len realized he was laughing every now and then. Not about anything that could be funny or even the least bit amusing to any of his teachers or fellow students. No, rather he was laughing about a more personal matter. One that pertained solely to him. People around him were giving him a wider clearance zone than normal; he was used to his own isolated circle thanks to the Vocalo High uniform. Still he was mildly amused with the fact that he had yet again gotten away with not writing yet another test. It was a routine of his when he wasn't up for participation of any kind. Really he could've answered all the questions on the test with childish ease. He just hadn't wanted to. Really, what was the point of writing a test when he already profoundly knew what to do? Not to mention showing any kind of work was bothersome when he solved the question within no more than a minute of viewing it. Meiko and many other teachers had gone off on him for only solving the questions and accused him of cheating as he never showed his work. This of course, was until he approached the board or turned his test around, scribbled out all his work and how he solved the questions or equations and slapped the papers back on their desks. Then he always walked out of the classrooms leaving them to solve their agape mouth and 'he can't possibly be that smart' problems.

It was sheer idiocy how many times he'd pointlessly had to attend detention, and after school sessions for his alleged rudeness. A handful of times he'd still been hauled in for cheating! Where they would give him another test, another booklet, another lab, another assignment. He finished them all perfectly. Eventually he'd just stopped participating and going altogether.

If anything, all of his teachers were the rude ones. Not only did they make him answer questions, but they also made him bother to write when he could no doubt prove it unnecessary. So he simply stopped writing altogether and snagged somebody else's test. He did pay attention with a set of deadpan expressions as he listened to teachers teach things he'd already learned himself. Why he kept attending exactly? Boredom. There was only so much joy he took in sitting at home watching television and surfing the internet. In all honesty, attending Vocalo High just gave him an excuse to procrastinate further.

Still, even if he did always steal someone else's test it was fine. This was because Mrs. Meiko always gave out rewrites so really, did it matter? Whichever poor chaps test he stole would be able to write again with more or less a better understanding of the subject after Mrs. Meiko went over it. Meanwhile he got a free mark for not having done any work. Really, he considered it a win, win situation.

With a smirk Len closed his eyes and continued walking, placing his hands on the back of his head. He was a genius and he had to admit it. It was so easy to steal off of people without them noticing. Everyone was just so dumb and oblivious, it was the perfect setup for him. It wasn't anything major either. Grades were just well...grades as far as Len was concerned. The curriculum was useless as far as real life went. What did it matter if he didn't bother with a few tests? All that would ever matter was the final, so truly why bother with the little things?

Suddenly he crashed into something and flipped over. His bag flew free of his shoulder and he landed with a thick mushy sound. Liquid spewed in all which directions underneath him and he became soaked with the stench of citrus. He knew it was citrus by the scent, and if that wasn't enough his eyes felt like they were burning. There was something else he was laying on that he couldn't exactly pinpoint with firm edges that jabbed him. Upon getting up he realized he had just knocked over a fruit merchants cart thingy (he didn't know the proper term and honestly didn't care to add it to his vocabulary). Oranges and carrots were strewn messily everywhere, his clothes reeked of both. Behind the cart stood an old lady looking absolutely mortified that her precious produce all over the place.

"What have you done!?" She cried panicking. Len only picked up a carrot and bit into it carelessly ignoring the old hag. He was a little hungry and the produce was sweet.

"They aren't free!" The hag snapped reaching for the carrot, he smacked her hand away and ignored the sneer she shot him. He was used to them after all.

"Oh, be quiet, Granny," Len said between chews. He spat the carrot out as a particularly bitter taste flooded his mouth. His spittle landed on the rest of the mixed fruits and vegetables. Absently he added the carrot to the rest of the pile.

"Well, fine have it," the woman said in a level tone. Len watched as she pinned ancient white hair on top of her head. She bent to pick up the produce. "At least help me clean this up. You made this mess." He only continued to watch as the old woman picked up her merchandise. He turned deftly on his heels and continued to walk.

"I have places to be," he commented.

"You cant do that!" she fumed only to have Len smirk at her.

"Watch me. Later Granny."

"You! I'll curse you! Nothing good will come your way, great misfortune will befall you! And the one you love!"

Making light of what she said he waved, keeping his pace and shrugged off her statement as he swept up his bag in his arms. He slung it over his shoulder and plugged his earphones back into his ears. Curses? Don't be stupid. What a crazy old lady. Curses? Psh, yeah right.