Rachel walked down the hallway and into the familiar room of 203.

The room was medium sized. It had around twenty five desks in it, not including the teacher's. There was also someone else inside the room; he was new. She took the seat next to him.

"Hi," she said shyly.

He looked up from his desk. "Hi." He replied just as shyly.

"Language arts should be fun." Rachel said sarcastically.

"I kinda like this class... I'm- I'm from," he paused. "France... so I need to make sure my English is up to date." He said, avoiding her eyes.

"Cool." Said Rachel. She'd never met anyone French before. Cool? Say something else to him! She thought.

"So… uh…" she said, trying to think of a topic.

He looked up again. "I'm Erik, by the way." He said, slightly shrugging his shoulders.

"Rachel." She said, nodding.

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Erik was surprised that anyone had spoken to him. Usually his mask drove away his chance of having friends. Luckily, this girl was on his left, and his mask on the right, so she hadn't seen it.

He had been wearing the mask since he had been old enough to realize that it was his face in the mirror, and not a monster's. Well, it is a monstrous looking face... He thought to himself.

Today he had done the smart thing and sat with his right to the wall; hopefully the teacher wouldn't move him...

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He's cute... Rachel thought silently.

Erik had pale skin; she liked guys who weren't totally tan. His eyes- or rather, the one eye she had seen, was a slightly brown color, but mostly green. His hair was… wavy- for lack of a better word.

Other people began filing into the room, all of them around Rachel's age- thirteen or fourteen.

When the grand total of twenty three students sat in the room, a tall woman walked in. "Hello everyone. Please just welcome our newest student, Erik, to our class." she told the class.

The class murmured a "Hello, Erik." and she began again.

"So! Seeing as this is November, we will only be here for a few more weeks until Thanksgiving break," she said. "You'll all be pleased to know that you are getting two weeks break this year instead of one.

"More time to forget our schedule!" Rachel said sarcastically, only within earshot of Erik.

"Woo!" Erik said, smiling.

The teacher began the lesson about comma placement while Rachel and Erik made sarcastic comments about it to each other.

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Why does she talk to me so much? Erik wondered. He'd never had a friend for very long… let alone a female friend. Well. It'll only last until she glimpses my mask… she'll think I'm such a freak…

"Erik?" Ms. Starla's voice said

"Uh. Yes?" he asked as the class giggled at his not paying attention.

"Can you please come up to the board and place a comma in this sentence?" she asked.

Oh no… when I walk back they'll see my-

"Of course, Ms. Starla." He heard himself say.

He walked up to the board, grabbed a dark green marker, and placed the comma in the correct place. But before he turned around, he took a small slip of paper out of his pocket, and handed it to the teacher. She read the note and nodded.

The rest of the class didn't know that the note read:

To the teacher of Erik,

Please allow Erik to wear his mask, for he has a deformity which may cause the other students to ridicule him.

-Belladora Carriere

The rest of the class, including , also didn't know that Erik has written the note for himself, because of his parents' absence.

"That's correct." Ms. Starla said.

He turned to walk to his seat, but was paralyzed slightly by the stares at his mask. He continued walking to his seat. The class had stopped watching him, but there was still Rachel…

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Why's he wearing a mask…? Rachel thought to herself.

"What's that?" she asked, hoping that she wasn't being rude.

He hesitated. "A mask," He said coolly.

"Wh-"she was going to ask him why he wore it, but thought she might offend him. "Well it looks pretty cool." She said instead. It looks pretty cool? Nice one, stupid. She thought to herself.

He exhaled in a sort of chuckle and smiled. "Thanks."

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Cool? Really? Wow. She thinks it looks cool… she's probably just lying… she… she'd never think I was cool… if she- if she knew what was under this mask…

The rest of the classes went on, Erik and Rachel had so far had every class together, and at noon, they found seats in the cafeteria.

"You didn't bring a lunch?" Rachel asked Erik.

"Oh… Must've slipped my mind." He replied.

"You wanna share some of mine?" Rachel asked rather awkwardly.

"No, thanks. You go ahead. I had a big breakfast." He lied.

I'll have to grab some food from the opera house when I go to the show tonight…

"Rachel?" he asked.

"Yeah?" she said, glancing up from her sandwich.

"Uh." He was going to ask her to go to the opera house with him tonight, but he panicked. "Do you-uh- do you like poetry?" he asked, his panic drive on overload.

"Yeah, I guess. Why?" she replied, a slightly confused look on her face.

"Just… makin' conversation." He said, an awkward smile on his face.

Real smooth. He thought to himself.

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Rachel finished her lunch by 12:10; she wanted to get back to talking with Erik.

"So…" she said, glancing around the room for ideas on what to talk about.

"Uh. You play any instruments?" Erik asked.

"I played violin for about two years, but I'm not very good at it. Wish I could play the piano, though. That'd be so cool." She replied.

"Cool. I play a bit of piano," Erik said, hoping to impress her.

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Offer to teach her, man! He thought to himself.

"That's so awesome. My mom says that maybe I can take lessons this year, but I doubt she'll follow through," Rachel said, a bit disappointed.

"Well let's hope she lets you, then." He said stupidly.

Wow. Let's hope she lets you? Nice one.

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"So -uh- you just moved here?" she asked, hoping that they'd have something in common.

"Yeah. Transferred from France; I was raised speaking English though." He said.

"Cool. Seems like we have a lot of classes together." She said, laughing. Maybe we can be… even better than friends… we could be… BEST FRIENDS. She thought to herself to keep from thinking of Erik in a romantic way.

They headed to their class after lunch, where Rachel sat next to Erik gladly.

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Erik had started writing the beginnings of a song. Earlier that week he had accidently made a very catchy tune on his piano, so he had to get some lyrics for it. So far for the words he had:

Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation.

Darkness stirs, and wakes imagination.

Silently the senses abandon their defenses.

Slowly, gently, night unfurls its splendor.

Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender.

Turn your face away from the garish light of day.

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Rachel glanced at the paper he was writing.

"You're left handed? That's cool." Rachel said. She loved lefties.

"Thanks." Erik said, not looking up.

"Whatcha writin'?" she asked curiously, cocking her head to get a better look.

She read the first few lines before Erik covered the paper hastily.

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"Uh. Nothing," He said embarrassed.

"Come on. That doesn't look like nothing." She said, persistently.

"It's nothing, okay?" he said as she tried to make a grab for it.

She reached across his left arm to try and grab the paper, and as she did, her arm slightly touched his shoulder.

Erik stiffened, not used to having physical contact with people. Rachel seemed to notice this, and backed off.

"Uh… sorry…" she said awkwardly.

Good job! He thought to himself.

"Uh… it's okay. I mean- you didn't- you didn't do anything to apologize for…" he replied even more awkwardly.

The clock ticked slowly as five minutes passed.

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"So…" Rachel said, trying to bring some life back to the conversation.

"Are you a singer?" Erik asked randomly.

"Not- not in public. I mean, I sing when I'm alone sometimes." She said. In reality she actually sang whenever people weren't around to hear her.

"Why?" she asked.

"Oh. Just curious, I suppose." He replied, continuing to write.

xxXXXxxxXxxxxXXxx

Erik though continued to write for the next minute before he decided to stop and try to talk to Rachel again. He placed his paper and pen in his binder and looked at her.

Wow… her eyes are like crystal pools… He thought.

"Your eyes are," he paused, not wanting to continue, but he knew he had to. "Very-uh- very blue." He said instead, blushing. Come on, don't be such an IMBECILE! He thought, mentally facepalming

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Rachel was a bit disappointed that Erik hadn't said what she thought he was going to, but she realized that he probably panicked at the last second.

She chuckled slightly. "Thanks. Your eyes are very green," She said smiling.

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Well at least she thought it was funny. Erik thought.

Their class finished quickly and pretty soon they moved to their next class, which they also had together, and took seats by the far right wall.

At this moment, a girl with long blonde hair took the seat in front of Erik, turned around, and said "Hi!"

"Hi." Erik and Rachel replied at the same time.

"I'm Alyssa!" she said, a wide smile on her face.

"I'm Rachel." Rachel told her.

Alyssa looked at Erik.

"Erik." He said.

"So, you knew to Pinson, Erik?" she asked, still smiling.

"Yeah." Erik said said.

"Let me know if you need, like, help finding anything." She said nicely.

Now Alyssa got a bit more serious.

"So… Why do have on a mask?" she asked him. The one question he didn't want to answer.

He tensed. Rachel, who was looking at him, noticed and said quickly, "He's a magician in training. Gotta hide his identity!" she gave him a wide smile.

She… lied to help me? Wow. She's pretty cool… He thought.

"Oh, cool!" Alyssa said, nodding.

They chatted with Alyssa, easily avoiding the mask topic, until the bell rang, and it was time to leave.

"Bye guys! See you tomorrow!" said Alyssa cheerfully.

"Bye!" Rachel and Erik said. Alyssa was an easy person to befriend.

When they were outside of the building, Erik pulled Rachel over to a tree where they couldn't be seen.

"Hey –um- thanks. For the –uh- yeah." He said awkwardly.

"Yeah, no problem." She replied, obviously not wanting to stay on the topic.

"Uh- yeah…" he cleared his throat. "Well I'll see you tomorrow, then," he said, walking away.

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"Are you walking home?" Rachel asked, hoping that they could walk together.

"Yeah, are you?" Erik said.

"Yeah." She paused, not knowing how to word her question. "Do you wanna -uh- walk together?"

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Walk with her? She must really want to unmask me… should I-

"Sure. Where do you live?" he heard himself say.

God damn it. I hate it when that happens. He thought to himself.