Author's Note: This is a rewrite of the original, yes, but it will not follow the original completely. Sub-plots had been revamped and may/may not affect the overall flow and direction of the story. I've explained in my bio (it will start almost the same but will diverge gradually). I apologize in advance to those who had wanted me to just pick-up after the last chapter. I tried to, but there were just too many inconsistencies. Hence, this rewrite – a little of the old, a little (more like more) of the new. I hope this comes out better than the original. Shout outs to the people who have read, re-read, and stayed with the original series. Thank you. This is because of you. You know who you are. As always, comments, reactions (violent or otherwise), questions are most welcome. Happy Easter, everyone! (033013)
Chapter 1: A selfish princess
She walked down the wide but crowded hallway with a set destination in mind. Though it was the first day of school, she had every intention of making it to her first period early. With sure strides, she moved smoothly through the multitude of students loitering about in the corridor, her mind whirling with thoughts for the day.
Even as she walked with preoccupation, she managed to catch the attention of most of the students who were, beforehand, busy socializing and catching up with fellow students. Some smiled and waved at her but most simply greeted her and moved out of her way. A few approached, exchanging greetings with her and matching her strides while attempting to converse with her. Partially slowing down, she distractedly turned to her right side to answer a particular question when she bumped into someone.
A hush fell throughout the otherwise noisy hallway. It began with their small group and radiated outwards to the rest of hallway as students began to stare at the unfamiliar person who was standing in front of one honey brown-haired girl and a group of four people.
"Um…" the guy muttered uncomfortably, acutely aware of the eyes on him. "You weren't watching your way."
The crowd began to murmur amongst themselves and tension seemed to permeate the hallway.
"He's so dead," someone whispered from the crowd.
"Must be new."
"Poor guy, never even had the chance to know the rules."
She frowned slightly and eyed the rather awkward-looking guy in front of her. "So?"
Hearing the whispers, the guy cringed visibly and took a step back. "I'm… sorry," he stuttered.
The girl took a step forward and the crowd of students grew silent, waiting for what she was going to do. "Well you better be," she said, slight irritation coloring her tone. She took another step forward and the poor guy stumbled back clumsily and some students laughed. "Next time, watch your way."
"Yeah, loser. Watch where you're going," someone from behind her said.
Others began to comment and eventually, people were laughing as the embarrassed teen struggled to let out coherent apologies. The guy was sweating hard and he ducked his head and repeated his apologies. "S-so-sorry. I'll w-watch m-m-my way ne-next time." He was blushing profusely and looked as if he wanted to disappear.
With a raised brow, she gave him one stern look and nodded. "Good." And as if nothing had happened, she brushed past the guy and continued on towards her destination, completely ignoring the laughter and gossips that started erupting from the student body she had left behind.
This was her domain and she had no intention of letting some unknown student ruin her day. Turning sharply to her left, she entered a classroom and was immediately greeted by the few students that were early for their first period.
"Good morning, girl."
She nodded and scanned the familiar faces of her classmates from the previous year before walking to the front of the class and sitting down, pulling out her cellphone to read through her messages while they waited for classes to start.
The classroom began to fill up and she could vaguely hear the change of topic that was brought about by the entering students.
"Guess what? Some new guy bumped into Hitomi!"
"Oh? Really? Someone bumped into her? What a jerk!"
"Yeah. Didn't even move out of the way. How stupid!"
She ignored the rest.
Like the previous school year, this was going to be her time. She was going to make this the best yet. What could possibly go wrong? She was rich and had the exotic looks to match. And as one of the brightest students in school and the track team's star athlete, she moved within the most important clique; everyone was at her beck and call. She, Hitomi Kanzaki, was essentially at the top of food chain.
What more could she ask for?
"Hey, babe," a guy greeted as he bent and placed a kiss on the cheek.
She looked up from her phone and smiled at the tall, blond guy who seemed to have captured the attention of the other female occupants of the classroom. "Allen."
"Get a room!" Another guy, almost identical to the blond but with brown hair, interjected. "Too early for me to see all the sweet stuff you two do."
"You're just jealous," a pretty girl muttered as she rolled her eyes and sat beside Hitomi. "Ignore Amano. He's just bitter because his schedule sucks."
Amano grinned. "Whatever, Yukari. I'll see you guys later. Say hi to Millerna and Gades for me. Ciao!" And with that, he winked at them and left the classroom.
"I certainly hope he's not planning on skipping class and following your footsteps." Yukari groused, staring pointedly at Allen.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Allen raised a brow.
"She means going all playboy," another tall guy answered from the door as a girl with blonde hair pushed past him and approached them.
"Gades," Hitomi acknowledged, nodding at the guy before turning her eyes on the attractive girl who pushed Allen away to take the seat on Hitomi's right. "Millerna."
"Sorry, Tomi. I'm just here to drag out our resident pretty boy for something," Gades announced, slinging an arm around the frowning Allen. "We'll see you guys at lunch." He forcefully led the blond away and stopped at the door, looking back and calling out, "Oh! Good luck with Chemistry!"
Hitomi rolled her eyes. "Seriously? Why can't I just have computer programming instead of some subject I'm never going to use in real life anyway?"
"What's wrong with Chemistry?" The beautiful blonde beside her asked, looking a little offended. "It's way better than computers. I can't even understand any of those…" she trailed off, seemingly searching for words and failing miserably. "Weird stuff! What with all those hacking… thing."
"Weird stuff?" Yukari asked, raising a brow. "Hacking thing?"
"Yes!" Millerna exclaimed with distaste.
"It's challenging," Hitomi remarked, turning her attention back to her cellphone. "And it's not like we get to hack accounts here anyway. Might be fun though."
"Don't go nerdy on us, Tomi," the blonde said, looking a little scandalized at the idea.
Yukari laughed. "Like that would ever happen!"
The bell rang, signaling the start of their first period. Hitomi looked up from her cellphone and sighed. Science is so annoying, she mentally complained. When will I ever like you, oh dear science?
A fat, middle-aged man ambled into the room with a jolly expression on his face reminiscent of Santa Claus. "Well students, let's make this year productive and interesting! We can start this off by a quiz!" Groans and complaints started erupting from all corners of the classroom and the teacher held up his hands as if in surrender. "Just to see what you all remember! Come on, kids. Let's show some spirit!" And with that, he started handing out questionnaires.
Hitomi rolled her eyes at Millerna's excited look. "Is it just me? Or is Millerna enjoying this?" She asked with slight irritation, turning to the girl seated to her left.
Yukari shrugged and looked miserably at the paper that was handed to her. "Can't wait for lunch time," the brunette muttered with a sigh.
"Give that back! It's mine!"
"Not anymore, loser."
Hitomi rolled her eyes at the scene a few tables away from them. It was just so typical how fights randomly happen during breaks.
"What's up, princess?" Gades asked, taking the seat across from Hitomi and smirking at her. "Had fun with science?"
"Absolutely!" Millerna interjected. "We had a pre-test. I think I got just about everything," she continued excitedly, before turning to Yukari and Hitomi whose pretty faces were marred with frowns. "Cheer up! It was easy!"
Yukari grumbled under her breath and pulled out her phone, ignoring the jubilant blonde.
Gades laughed, scanning the cafeteria for two more students who were bound to join them at their table. His eyes caught sight of an awkward-looking guy being harassed by a group of students. "Where are the twins? They're missing out on the usual entertainment."
Green eyes followed Gades' line of sight and found a familiar-looking guy surrounded by a couple of students. The guy from this morning, she thought, not at all in the mood for the spectacle unfolding. Turning her eyes away, she focused on her friends. "No idea."
"No need to be so sour, princess." Gades laughed. "You should just forget about probably failing your first test of the year and enjoy the entertainment the school has to offer!" He pointed to the fight a few tables away. "Who is up for bets?"
Laughter erupted from the other tables and Hitomi turned back to the scene and watched with boredom as the guy who bumped into her earlier was being made the biggest joke of the day.
Yeah, this is going to be just like last year, she thought, watching the bullying resignedly. Whatever. This is my year. Nothing is going to take this away from me. With that resolute thought, she turned back to Gades and smiled. "I am."
"Someone looks happy," a woman with green eyes commented.
Someone snorted and Hitomi turned to glare at the teen beside her. "Shut up, Hiko," she muttered.
"What?" The boy beside her asked with a grin. "I didn't even say anything yet."
Hitomi was about to open her mouth to deliver her sharp retort when a slight man sat at the head of the table. "No fighting, children. Let's have a pleasant dinner, shall we?"
She muttered under her breath and nodded, sending her brother another glare before turning to their mother who was seated across from her. "Allen asked me if I wanted to have dinner with his family next week."
Another snort was heard beside her and before she could comment on it, their father frowned at her.
"You're still seeing him?"
"Now, dear, let's not start with that," Mrs. Kanzaki interrupted, slightly shaking her head at her husband who did not look pleased. "They've been going out for over a year. I think it's about time you give the boy a chance."
"I don't like him."
"Shut up!" Hitomi exclaimed at her brother's direct remark.
"What? He's annoying," Hiko complained, poking at his food before sending his sister a grimace. "And he's probably the world's greatest playboy."
"Allen is the most gorgeous and most chivalrous guy in school," she defended, narrowing her green eyes at her brother. "You're just jealous he's the most popular guy in school."
Hiko shrugged and turned back to his food. "Whatever. I still say your swimming pool-eyed boyfriend is annoying. I can't wait until you realize that and get rid of that loser."
"Hey!" Hitomi prepared to defend her boyfriend once again but was interrupted by their father.
"You know, Tom-tom, I agree with your brother. I'm not very partial with Allen either. His twin, Amano, could have been much better though," their father said, eyeing her carefully. "I don't think he's a very good influence on you."
Hitomi gave a long-suffering sigh. Yes, definitely like last year, she mentally groused as her father and brother started their tradition of stating the cons of her dating Allen.
"Yeah, your temper has gotten so nasty," her brother pitched in. "Not that it wasn't nasty to begin with but you know." He gave her a wide grin as her eyes narrowed threateningly. "Let's just say you've gotten nastier than ever. Besides, he practically dates everyone like he'd run out of girls."
"Allen's a nice young man," their mother's kind voice cut through Hiko's dialog. "Hitomi is happy with him. Give him a chance. And just because he's sweet to girls doesn't mean he's a bad person."
"He hasn't dated anybody else since we started going out," Hitomi pointed out with irritation.
"Yeah right," her brother countered sourly. "He's probably just hiding a dozen more girls somewhere. You know playboys. They always have so many girls for reserves."
"Could we just change the topic?" Hitomi snapped, unable to withstand the assault on her boyfriend's character.
Father and son exchanged looks and Hitomi steeled herself for a tag-team attack but to her utter surprise, their father shook his head and said, "That reminds me, Tom-tom. I'm planning a vacation to Japan."
"Awesome!" Hiko exclaimed, grinning widely at their father.
Apparently, her relief from earlier was destined to be short-lived and she frowned. "Japan? Isn't that a bit too far? And school just started. And I'm going to have my hands full preparing for nationals! Eyes on the prize, remember?"
"It's not an immediate thing," Mr. Kanzaki murmured. "It'll be during the Christmas break. I'm just making it known as early as now so you can both brush up on your nihongo."
"Cool! Finally I get to actually use it on someone other than dad and the tutor!"
Her expression turned sour. "What's so cool about that?" She asked, her annoyance spiking. She gave their father a pleading look. "Can't I just stay here?"
"Stay where?" Their father asked sternly. "At Allen's, you mean?"
"No," she grumbled. "At Yukari's."
"Hitomi," their mother started, offering her a small smile. "Your father needs us to be there for him. It's not only for a quick vacation. There's a big breakthrough with our company there. We have to be there for him."
"But I want to spend my break with my friends."
"I know, dear. But it's only this once?"
"Sadly," Hiko said in a fake pained voice as he stopped eating and placed his elbows on the table, raising his arms and holding up his palms in a mock why-God-why gesture. "I would love to not see your stuck-up friends for longer. Especially Allen."
"What is your problem with him anyway?" She snapped, dropping her utensils with a loud clang and standing up angrily.
"Tom-tom, sit down," their father intoned in a tired voice.
"He's a playboy, Tomi, you know that. It's not like you didn't hear of his escapades before and my best friend's older sister? The one he dumped fast? Remember her?"
"No," she snapped. "And I don't care. You're just jealous of Allen and my friends and you don't know anything."
"Hitomi, dear, please sit down."
She sent their mother a defiant look but did as was told, belatedly realizing she had yet to eat anything ever since their father arrived. "I'm not going," she declared. "This is my year! Nothing will take it away from me!"
"You know, Tomi," the boy beside her started seriously. "I think this popularity thing is getting into your head. Just because you're the most popular girl in school it doesn't mean everything revolves around you. You need a time out from your group. They're rubbing off on you in the wrong way. You seriously need to start caring about what others think and feel."
"Hiko?" Their mother addressed, looking at her son questioningly.
Hiko shrugged. "She bumped into a new guy this morning, or so I've heard. He got humiliated when she was the one who wasn't watching her way." He sighed, looking a little disturbed. "Then cafeteria? Lunch period. Same guy got picked on and she was probably busy betting with her friends about it. So much for using popularity for helping people."
"He bumped into me."
Rolling his eyes, Hiko shook his head and looked at their father. "So, about Japan?"
Hitomi stifled a groan, not realizing the perturbed glances their parents were sending her.
"I can't believe this," she grumbled, stepping out of the SUV and looking up at the large modern-looking house in the middle of the compound. She thought she could change their father's mind but all the cajoling and begging she did for the previous months were for naught. Their father remained resolute and she took comfort in the memory of Millerna's soothing tones as she reminded Hitomi that the situation was only temporary. Temporary but so annoying anyway, she grumbled internally, glaring at her brother who looked too happy for her taste.
"This is going to be awesome, don't you think so, Tomi?"
"Oh joy," she muttered flatly, her enthusiasm rivaling that of a rock. "Absolutely."
Hiko rolled his eyes. "You're just sulking because Dad didn't allow you to stay with your stuck-up, stuffy crowd of whatevers."
She attempted to lunge at her brother, only to be held back by their father. "Enough, children." He gave her a slight nudge towards the elegant house. "You'll like it here, Tom-tom. This was a gift from your grandparents when your mother and I got married."
His brilliant smile made her feel guilty. She knew her father missed Japan terribly. Although he stayed in America for more than twenty years, he still considered Japan his home.
Ugh, she thought with a sigh. Might as well make him happy even if it's just temporary. "I guess I could give it a chance?" She said, offering her father a weak smile.
His smile, if possible, turned even brighter and he took his wife's hand and walked towards the house, leaving both teens by the car.
"That's the spirit!" Her brother interrupted, giving her a thwack on the back that nearly sent her face-first to the ground.
She gave him a glare.
"Hiko," their mother called from the doorway. "Stop bullying your sister."
Hiko gave a loud snort. "She's just too thin; I wasn't bullying." He grinned at her again. "This will be great, sis, just give this a chance. Who knows what you'll learn here. Maybe compassion?" He started to walk away, intending to follow their parents who have already disappeared inside the house but he looked back and saw the unsure expression on his sister's face. She misses them, he realized. "Hey, Tomi!"
"What?" She asked, sighing deeply and tiredly.
"Don't worry about them. You're not missing out on a lot," he said, looking as if he wanted to comfort her. "They're probably doing what you guys always do anyway – parade around everywhere and insult people who have the balls to point out how you all suck!"
Her jaw dropped. "Why you," she started, lunging at her brother who evaded her without effort before he ran inside the house, his loud laughter grating on her nerves even more.
The word kept echoing inside her head, mocking her and completely destroying her pronouncement from months before that this was going to be her year. This was not supposed to happen. No. It was all a big nightmare. She was not in the middle of a crowded hallway in some school in Japan, looking at the throngs of unfamiliar faces, feeling lost and alone. Absolutely not.
Someone brushed past her and she nearly stumbled.
"Sorry," a guy with raven hair called out as he disappeared through the crowd of students dallying in the hallway.
She gritted her teeth and angrily pulled out her cellphone, intending to rant to her friends on the other side of the world as she squeezed her way through numerous students to find the school head's office. I can't believe this! Her brain kept on repeating.
Hitomi opened her mouth to start her tirade to the unfortunate person on the other end of the line but was cut short when she came crashing into someone who was either not watching his way or was just as stupid as the first guy who carelessly bumped into her earlier.
All her ballet lessons from years ago came flying out the window as she fell on her backside gracelessly. She grimaced when she realized that some students were starting to stare. Groaning, she gathered her dignity and stood up shakily, all the while wondering why the jerk who bumped into her did not even bother to help her up. Straightening, she looked up and caught the amusement dancing in the startling red eyes of the guy who was standing in front of her.
"How's the floor?"
Her eyes widened in shock as the students around them started laughing. She could feel her blood start to simmer. First day in a new school and already, she was humiliated. No. This was definitely not supposed to happen. Not to her.
Especially not to her.
Glaring hard, she opened her mouth to deliver a scathing retort but from somewhere behind the insolent guy, the students parted and a large man with bushy moustache approached them.
"Sir," the guy acknowledge politely before turning back to her and giving her a smirk.
The large man sighed and focused on her, giving her a reassuring smile. "To my office, Kanzaki-san?"
She frowned but followed the man as he walked away from the congested hallway of students who started laughing and gossiping the further she walked away. Looking back briefly, she spotted the rude guy, still in the middle of the hallway, smirking at her. He gave her a wink and a wave before he turned to walk the other way.
Hitomi had to fight back the strong urge to childishly stick her tongue out at his retreating form.
She turned back and smiled weakly.
"Come, child," he said, smiling at her in a kind way as they continued walking.
As it turned out, the principal, Balgus Ganesha, knew her father personally. He enthusiastically told her about how this school armed him and her father to be as successful as they could possibly be and went on and on about how this was the best place for Kanzaki Ryu's children to be in.
If it was not for the fact that the vacation had turned disastrously into a permanent stay, she would have managed to appreciate the principal's passion for the school. But as it was, she was barely managing to keep her weak smile on.
"So! Are you ready to go to class, Kanzaki-san?"
She nodded uncertainly, eyes looking at the clock perched on top of the principal's desk and realizing that the orientation took long enough that it was already lunch time.
He chuckled at her reaction. "I suppose I got carried away again. Come, let me show you to the canteen. We have one, unlike most schools."
"Thanks, Ganesha-sensei," she mumbled, trying not to look too uncertain about everything.
"Sir Balgus would do," he said kindly, standing up and leading her to the door. "All students call me that."
She nodded and followed him through various hallways, all the while noticing how some students they passed by seemed to keep their eyes on her. Weird, she thought.
"Here we are," Balgus' deep voice cut through her thoughts as he gestured towards the large double doors that led to the school's canteen. "I'm sure you can make it on your own. You're Ryu-san's daughter after all." With one last kind smile, he turned away, leaving her staring at his retreating back for a moment.
Sighing, she pushed through the doors and into the cafeteria. She tried to spot a table to occupy but the only thing she could see was the look of hilarity she was getting. It was as if she was the joke of the day.
"It's floor girl."
Her jaw nearly dropped as she heard someone say it. Then it all clicked. She was the joke of the day and it was all because of the red-eyed jerk who humiliated her on her first day in this strange new school on the other side of the world she used to belong to.
As she endured the whispers and snickers around her, two thoughts dominated her mind – the first being how this was not supposed to happen to her and the second being: I. Hate. Him!