Author's Note: I apologize for the delay. My official CT scan just told me I've a tumor and it's been on my plate since April came. My mood's been up and down since then and I've checked every now and then on the visitors and I'm not sure how to interpret the high number of visitors but the abysmally lack of reviews/feedbacks. So the delay got longer and longer. I might just decide to start a private reading/viewing of the rewrite instead if this keeps up. Moving on, thanks for those who did review and sent me feedbacks. This one is for you. (042413)
Chapter dedication: StridingFreedom, thepinkmartini, Diesty-chan, AmbivalentAngyl, Litschi, nee, aardvark in mud, Renleek, BloodyGod, FallenAngel04, (and of last but not the least) wintersalad
Chapter 2: In a new kingdom
"Seriously?!" A girl practically squealed with disbelief.
"Yes! We saw it with our own eyes!" Another girl exclaimed, frowning for all she was worth. "I can't believe she'd do that!"
"What a dumb bitch! She doesn't know what she's missing out on!"
Her light-colored brows met as she walked out of her class to go to the school's canteen.
"I thought for sure he was going to humiliate her," a guy said, sounding amused. "You should've seen the way she looked at him!"
"Yeah, I thought she was going to eat him alive," another guy said. "She'd have been destroyed."
She frowned slightly, wondering about the girl who seemed to be the star of almost every conversation that circulated around in their school that day.
"She's cute though. Just a little dumb, I guess."
And they laughed.
She shook her head slightly and ignored the students she passed by, walking towards the canteen at a faster rate, all the while still wondering about the mystery girl. She was curious as to who the people involved were and was a little worried that one of them could be someone she knew.
It better not be him, she thought, as her mind pictured the love of her life with his messy black hair and handsome, although, mostly scowling face. He could be so unaware of his surroundings!
As she entered the cafeteria, the noise lessened somewhat. Students began to smile at her in reverence. She gave a few polite nods here and there as she made a beeline towards the farthest corner of the big room. The chatters resumed then.
"So," she said in greeting, as she pulled out a chair beside a girl with a shocking light pink hair and perfect tan. "Who is this mystery girl everyone's talking about?"
An easy smile was given to her even as her friend shrugged. "No idea. But I think that's her," she said, pointing towards the entrance where a girl stood, looking plainly upset at the stares she was starting to garner from the many students around.
She pursed her delicate lips together and stood up, intending to get to the bottom of things as her eyes followed the mystery girl who looked as if, for the moment, she was planning on leaving.
Hitomi was used to people talking about her and looking at her. She was, after all, always at the top of the food chain. However, things seemed to be upside down in this side of the world as the attention she was getting did not match her norm.
"She's not even that good-looking."
"I thought you said she was cute?"
As the whispers reached her, she narrowed her eyes at some of the girls who were clearly appraising her. Wow, she thought irritably, struggling for composure. This was not going according to how she envisioned her year to be. But steeling her resolve, she raised her chin and walked towards the nearest table, sitting down with as much dignity as she could muster.
I hate this place! She thought fiercely, rummaging through her bag and bringing out her bento box. Ugh. I never even had to bring lunch like this before!
Her father had been insistent that she brought her own lunch. Apparently, though the high school she was enrolled in had a cafeteria, most students brought their own lunch to school. The practice was not very endearing to her and she sourly opened her bento box only to grimace at the unfamiliar contents. Sighing with aggravation, she pushed the box away. I'd give anything for a roasted vegetable Panini and an iced vanilla latte.
She only managed to take a couple of steps towards the mystery girl's direction when someone intercepted her.
"Celena," a guy with dark hair murmured.
She canted her head slightly to the right and observed the sheepish expression on the guy's face. "Viole," she acknowledged. "What's the matter?"
He ran his fingers through his longish dark hair and looked embarrassed. "Have you seen Merle? I think she's avoiding me."
Her blue eyes twinkled with mirth. "I don't know how she can avoid someone like you." She gestured to the table a short distance behind her, indicating the location of the pink-haired female she was with just mere moments ago. "Go get her, Slayer."
"Thanks," he said but did not make a move to leave. "But I need you to be there?"
Frowning, she queried, "What for?"
He was about to answer her when laughter erupted from a table a few feet away from them and they both turned their attention to a group of male students who looked as if they were betting on something.
"Now what are they up to?" She asked, her frown deepening.
He gave her a confused look. "I can't believe you're still asking me that."
"I know they're betting or daring each other to do something stupid," she said resignedly. "But I'm wondering what it is about this time."
Shooting a longing look towards the oblivious pink-haired girl he so wanted to accost, Viole took a step back and then grinned at Celena. Motioning with his head, he invited her to join him towards the table where the group of males were clustered together. "It's not a question of what but of who."
Why do I have a feeling that it's about that girl? Celena thought, fighting off the grimace that seemed to frequent her charming face ever since this morning. She failed miserably the moment she heard part of the conversation.
"So, are you up for it?" A guy with chin-length brown hair asked a frowning student who rolled his eyes.
"Up for what, Dalet?" She interrupted, putting a delicate hand on her hip and arching her brow at the guys at the table.
"They want Miguel to test his skills on that new girl," a blond guy informed, shaking his head slightly and looking a little guilty in behalf of his friends.
She opened her mouth to admonish them but was cut short before she could even begin.
"It's just some introduction," another guy said, trying to placate her. "It's not as if we're asking him to hit on her. Just call it practice?"
A snort was heard and they all turned their eyes to a silver-haired student who was watching the entire exchange with silent amusement. "Why don't you do it, hm, Gatti?"
Gatti grinned. "I would but I'm not the one in need of a review."
"I'll do it!"
They turned to the white-haired student with them who was mock-fluffing up his already fluffy hair.
"What? No one can say no to Guimel," he said cheekily, pointing to himself before standing up.
Celena turned to Viole who shrugged before again turning his attention to a far-away table, not seeming to mind that they were both just standing by the table almost as if they were intruders. "This is ridiculous!" She exclaimed.
"Relax," the silver-haired guy cajoled in a smooth voice. "Miguel will do it." His tone held a hint of command and all attention went back to the frowning guy with dark brown hair. "In fact, he'll do it with some of us around." An almost sinister laugh made them cringe inwardly. "Won't you, Miguel?"
Everyone was silent for a moment before Miguel nodded, his frown deepening.
Hitomi was trying her best not to crush the poor cellphone in her hand. She knew it was in the middle of the night in America but she desperately wanted someone to talk to, to complain to. Everything was so messed up. This was supposed to be her year! And here she was, on the other side of the world, friendless and most likely the school's new subject of joke for weeks to come. Even worse, it could be months before they forgot about her.
She wanted to scream in frustration, wanted to throw a major apoplectic fit that would silence everyone! But she knew how things worked – she would only be drawing more negative attention to herself.
This is so wrong, she mentally complained, gripping her cellphone tighter as she glared angrily at the innocent bento box in front of her. I hate this place! No Allen! No Yukari! No Millerna! No Amano! No Gades! And most of all, people here are so annoying!
"Hey," a deep voice cut through her inner tirade.
She looked up and saw a good-looking guy standing by her table. Almost immediately, she noticed that a few steps behind him where a couple more guys, each sporting varying degrees of amusement on their faces. Her eyes narrowed and warning bells blared in her head. She immediately knew what this was all about – a dare. This was just so typical.
"Hi, Miss. I'm Lavariel Miguel," the guy started smoothly, a clearly forced smile plastered on his attractive face. "And you-"
"Are not my type," she finished haughtily, her narrowed green eyes trying to burn a hole through the guy's head.
Someone from behind the guy coughed and she knew she had won this round. Better stop while I'm ahead, she thought with no small amount of sadistic satisfaction. Standing up and swiftly gathering her things, she brushed passed the stunned Lavariel Miguel, her strides lighter with her recent triumph.
His coughing fit could not disguise his laughter.
Miguel glared at him and roughly brushed passed him, their shoulders colliding painfully. "Shut. Up."
"I told you it wasn't nice," the blond remarked in between his laughter. He rubbed his injured shoulder and turned to the other guys who witnessed Miguel's humiliation in the hands of the new girl. "I guess this means she's no pushover."
Dalet and Guimel both exchanged high fives before turning to Gatti who smirked but pulled out his wallet to pay up.
"Next time, Chesta?" Gatti addressed the blond as he pocketed his wallet before turning to go follow the irate Miguel. "Remind me to bet against Miguel's skills with women."
Chesta shook his head, unable to wipe the smile that threatened to split his angelic face in half. He followed his friends back to their table where Celena and Viole, now seated, waited for them with their silver-haired friend, his smile growing impossibly wider.
"I take it, it didn't go well?" Celena asked, clearly amused by the situation.
Miguel's expression became darker and he glared at his friends who were not even making an effort to hide the fact that they were laughing at his expense.
Celena shook her head as she giggled and stood up. "I just have to meet her!" And with that, she left Miguel to the mercy of their friends.
"Interesting," the silver-haired guy murmured almost thoughtfully, a slow smirk forming on his red lips.
Steps lighter, she wandered through the corridor, unable to erase the self-satisfied smile she was sporting. Serves him right, she thought with glee. As if I didn't know what they were up to! Ha!
Her mind replayed the look of shock on the guy's face and she could not help but feel vindicated. She was not someone to be trifled with. The day might have started wrong but if this was any sign, perhaps she could still turn everything around. This could still be her year! Then again, it would not be perfect without her handsome boyfriend and their well-known friends. Frowning, she slowed down, her mind whirling with thoughts of the people she left behind.
How am I supposed to tell Allen about this? She wondered with dismay. Dad, why? Why?! Argh! This was supposed to be my year!
She rounded a corner absently and before she knew it, she was blinking up with shock from her position on the floor.
Oh for the love of-
"Whoops, sorry," the guy muttered roughly, holding out a hand to her.
Her eyes narrowed. She ignored the hand in front of her and pushed herself to her feet, appraising the features of the idiot who had the audacity to bump into her. He looked familiar somehow.
"Whatever," he said almost inaudibly. "Later then." And just like that, he left her standing there.
She watched his retreating figure with slight irritation which was soon joined with disbelief as she realized why he looked familiar. The guy who shoved me from behind this morning! Her temper rose and she clenched her hands. I. Hate. This. Place!
"Are you okay, miss?"
She turned her head sharply to look at the owner of the feminine voice.
"Are you okay?" The girl repeated, canting her head slightly to the side.
"I guess," Hitomi replied, trying to relax her features. Calm down, she coaxed herself mentally.
A friendly smile parted the girl's red lips as she held out her hand. "Albatou Celena."
Hitomi hesitated. She wondered if this was another dare, if there were people lurking about somewhere waiting for her to do something humiliating to herself. This was, after all, one of the things some of her friends did back in New York to new students.
"I'm alone," Celena interrupted, seeming to read her thoughts.
Pushing her suspicions away, Hitomi reached for the hand in front of her and murmured, "Hitomi Kanzaki." She shook the hand and felt a little relieved with the thought that perhaps she had just made her first friend here. "Kanzaki Hitomi, I mean," she corrected, remembering that names were reversed here.
Celena's bright smile widened as they released each other's hands. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Kanzaki-san."
"Hitomi," she corrected. "Just call me Hitomi. I'm not used to the way you people call each other."
"In that case, call me Celena."
She smiled at the attractive girl in front of her, liking her already. "Alright, Celena." She paused and tried again. I have to get used to these honorifics. "Celena-san."
The other girl laughed. "Celena will do. But this has to mean we're going to have to be close, okay?" She asked, winking at Hitomi almost playfully. At Hitomi's nod, she continued, "Great! Want me to show you around? What's your first subject this afternoon?"
With a mournful sigh, Hitomi answered, "Science."
Another laugh. "Oh you're going to like science here. Trust me." With a wide smile full of promises, Celena nudged Hitomi on her arm slightly.
She was starting to believe Celena's words as she stared at the tall, light blue-haired science teacher in front of the class. His voice was soothing and captivating. He's just too cute! The giddy, girly side of her could not help but gush. Yukari, you're missing out on this one. Millerna can keep our Santa Claus science teacher, I'm keeping this hunk!
It was hard to contain her dreamy smile. She was sure she had been hit with a serious case of hero-worship as she admired his spiked hair and the teardrop tattoo on his right cheek. The words he spoke seemed to fly way over her head as she could only hear his soothing voice engulfing the classroom.
Definitely telling the girls about him! She decided, mentally gushing his name, Folken Lacour de Fanel!
She shook her head slightly, trying to focus on the subject matter. It would not do to fail science, especially not with such a gorgeous teacher in front.
This day might not be so bad after all, her mind admitted.
The moment her last class ended, she whipped out her cellphone and called Yukari, impatiently waiting for her friend to pick up. She grabbed her bag and made a beeline for the door.
"Tomi," Yukari's sleepy voice answered.
"Put Millerna on the line too," Hitomi immediately requested. "She'll want to hear this."
She could hear Yukari fumbling on the other side and she bit her lip, trying to restrain her excitement as she walked down the corridor. After a few short minutes, she heard Millerna complain in the three-way call, "It's like early morning here, Tomi!"
"But I have to tell you about something important!"
Yukari yawned. "Like?"
"I think I'm going to love science!" She announced with a flourish. "My teacher is unbelievably hot! You wouldn't believe how cute he is!"
Millerna groaned. "Can't this wait until later?"
"Nope," she murmured a bit too happily. "Yukari! I'm going to have to send you a picture of him. He makes science almost as sweet as computer programming!"
"That cute?" Yukari asked, sounding more awake. "Now, I'm curious." She laughed and a rustling sound could be heard as she sat up on her bed. "I can't wait. Any other cute guys though?"
"Send me a picture, too!" Millerna interrupted, sounding a little irate at being woken up so early in the morning. "You might as well make up for this early morning call. You know how important my beauty sleep is. You better give me some exotic eye-candy for this!"
Hitomi laughed. "I'll look for eye-candies, if you like," she offered, turning on a corner. Her voice rose a bit in excitement as she asked, "How many cute guys should I hunt for-"
She stumbled back a bit, her jaw dropping slightly in outrage. "You watch it!" She observed as the guy from the cafeteria crossed his arms and grumpily glared at her.
"Oh, this is interesting," a laughing voice said from behind the grumpy guy. "Miguel's new girlfriend."
She glared at the other guy, copying Miguel's stance and crossing her arms across her chest, forgetting the phone call she was in with her friends. "And you are?"
"Gatti, at your service," the guy introduced, bowing at her.
Her lips pursed with aggravation and she mentally counted in her head to calm herself down before she straightened up and bypassed the two guys, angrily shoving her cellphone in her pocket as she did so.
"Does that mean you're not considering adding me to your list of-" he paused and in an accented English, continued, "Cute guys?"
She stiffened. He understands English? Then it sunk in that it was not the main issue and she looked back with a glare at the cheeky guy who now had an arm slung over the shoulder of his scowling companion. He listened in on my call! The nerve, she fumed.
"I'll happily volunteer."
Her gaze turned sharply back in front of her to a guy with fluffy white hair. He winked at her.
"Guimel," he introduced with a wide grin. "Dalet," he further informed, pointing to the guy beside him.
"Guys, please," a blond guy interrupted in an almost pleading voice before he was elbowed.
"And this nice guy is Chesta," Guimel finished, winking at her again. "Don't tell me Miguel's the only cute guy for you."
Oh! My! G-
Resisting the urge to stamp her foot in aggravation, Hitomi turned her eyes away from the white-haired student. Seeking out the owner of the new voice, she realized he was behind the other guys as they parted in the middle to reveal a tall guy with surprising silver hair and blood-red eyes.
It took but a mere second for her memory to remind her of her morning wherein she first became closely acquainted with the floor in the middle of a crowded corridor, ending up the school's latest laughing stock. Without realizing it, her jaw dropped in utter shock. "You!" She sputtered, struggling to form coherent thoughts that would express her outrage.
"Hello, floor girl," he drawled, smirking at her almost sadistically.
"You bastard!" She yelled, lunging forward on instinct.
He side-stepped and she almost stumbled to the floor before she caught herself. "Don't we miss the floor," he commented, his voice overflowing with mocking mirth.
She whipped back, gritting her teeth and pointing an accusing finger at the conceited guy. "You bastard!"
His smirk widened a fraction. "Yes, yes, we've already established that the first time."
Some of the guys chuckled and she wanted nothing more than to tear their heads clear off of their shoulders. But all she managed to do was shake with unbelievable rage; her mind could not break through the anger swarming her entire being.
"I'll tell you what," the insolent guy said slowly. "When you find other words besides 'you' and 'bastard', come find me. I'm sure we'll have a very interesting conversation."
With a last mocking smirk, he turned and walked away, followed by his friends who were all positively evil.
"I hate him!" She yelled angrily, near tears as she threw various things everywhere in her room.
"Relax," Yukari tried to soothe but was failing miserably.
"I want him dead! Just so DEAD!" She stopped pacing long enough to angrily swipe an unsuspecting alarm clock from her desk and proceeding to throw it to the nearest wall. The loud sound of a shattering object pervaded the room for a moment and it was just not enough. So she grabbed a crystal flower vase next and hurled the innocent object to the same abused wall.
"Relax." This time, it was Millerna who emphasized the word. "You're going to give yourself a heart attack!"
Hitomi continued to fume. "I'm going to wring his neck and then tear his head off!" She declared in a loud enough voice that she sounded almost like she was giving out a battle cry. "And then I'm going to chop him up to bits and pieces and force-feed his bastard remains on his stupid, stupid, ugly friends!"
She stopped by the bedside table and snatched a heavy lampshade, raising it with every intention of injuring the floor with it. But before the poor lamp could leave her hands, her brother lunged at her and wrestled it away.
"What the heck, Tomi!" He exclaimed, looking slightly frazzled from running into the room.
Glaring at her brother fiercely, she managed to grit out a harsh, "Get. Out."
He gave her an incredulous look. "Are you kidding me? Everyone in the house could hear you destroying everything! I have to do something or there won't be anything left of the house later."
Her hands fisted in an attempt to stem her anger. "I said: Get. OUT!"
Her brother carefully placed the lamp on her bed before crossing his arms across his chest and regarding her with a mixture of concern and disbelief. "What's wrong with you?"
She took a long, deep breath before exhaling slowly. Nope, not working, her mind thought so she tried a few more times before she irately tore the Bluetooth headset from her ear and proceeding to throw the unfortunate device at her brother.
It bounced off of his arm.
"If this is about Allen-," her brother interrupted her before she could say anything more. "Dad will be very pissed at you for throwing this big a tantrum."
"Shut up!" She snapped. "I hate this place! I want to go home!"
He sighed in a way that made her feel like she was four. "This is home now, Tomi."
"No." She stamped her foot like a child and as if remembering something, she added, "Never!"
Another sigh and he uncrossed his arms, drawing forward and awkwardly patting her shoulder. "Just give it a chance? I promise I won't tell dad you destroyed half the house if you do."
She gave him another fierce glare through her tearing eyes. "I… hate it here, okay?" Her voice wavered with both anger and despair. "This was supposed to be my year. Perfect boyfriend, perfect circle of friends, straight A's, nationals…" She trailed off and looked brokenly at her bare feet peeking out from the plush cream carpet.
"Minions," Hiko continued after a few minutes of depressing silence. "Tons of minions to do your evil deeds for you, admirers to praise whatever you say or do, latte, Panini, busting through credit cards-"
"Protecting annoying little brothers," she interrupted, giving him a shaky smile through her tear-stained face.
"Yeah, that too," he acknowledged with a weak smile. He sighed yet again and hugged her. "I'm sure things will work out just fine. You're not really missing out on much by being here. Those things should bore you by now, seeing as you've always had those since forever. Besides, you've practically crushed on swimming-pool-eyes since middle school! Not tired of him yet?"
She sniffed but did not say anything in reply.
"You should find yourself new things to do. Maybe a new perfect boyfriend? A new set of perfect friends?" He paused as if remembering something. "New club?"
Drawing away, she looked up at him. "What?"
He raised a brow. "Ever thought of doing some martial arts instead of the track team? Should buff you up a bit." He gave her a wide grin. "Would give you a chance to kick my ass when we fight over your Allen and stuffy friends."
A slow smile started to break through her sweet face. "I'll think about it. But only if you don't tell Dad I-"
"Destroyed half the house?"
And they both laughed.