It was a beautiful, crisp morning. The sun shone down amidst a blue sky, a few birds singing in some trees away from the front steps. No breeze blew. It was truly a day to sit outside and enjoy.
Dark brown eyes looked around, as if contemplating whether or not to stay outside and enjoy the morning. But... Eyes swung back up to the large bold letters of Han-a-High with a resigned sigh. Duty called and who was SHE to uphold school? With a small, sorrowful look at the dozen or so steps leading up to the main doors, school-order black soled feet slowly trudged up the concrete steps, leaving those talking behind.
As soon as she was inside, hands reached behind and moved a backpack off her shoulder, stopping long enough to dig inside for a plain, white piece of paper...the one holding her class schedule. As those brown eyes looked it over, she was mentally thankful to be able to stop in the middle of the hallway without people crowding, or looking foolish and so lost.
Finally looking up after reading all room numbers and teachers, all whom she never met before and couldn't pronounce, she spotted something that looked like the direction she needed to be in for the main office. Just before she could head that way, sounds of shoes stopped her continuation. Without looking, she waited for them to catch up with her.
"What...have I said before...about you...WAITING?" The out of breath voice commanded.
Silently, with an even expression, she directed those eyes to her taller companion. Wearing one of those plain business suits he was famous for, also GROSSLY out of place in non-business attire such as this, he wrinkled the pressed fabric as his lanky body leaned over to catch his breath.
She knew by the end of the day, he was going to be approached and-or get plenty of odd looks. It happened before. He just tried too hard to impress people by dressing so important...not to mention it was his JOB to be with her. That shaggy, sandy brown hair fell over his eyes as he huffed. He was out of shape. She silently waited for him to return to normal before letting him direct her...since he knew of this place better than she ever would.
Inside the office, eyes landed on an oriental secretary, one who looked up when her companion shut the door behind them. He walked forward, hand extended across the desk. With a smile, the secretary opened her mouth...and started spouting out words she couldn't understand. It was all gibberish...one reason she had him with her. It was mostly a waste of her time to enroll for such a short while...but that's what her father decreed and she had to follow his wishes.
She was startled from her thoughts when her 'helper' stood in front, silently waiting. Knowing what he wanted, she pulled the same sheet of paper from her backpack again and handed it over.
This was routine with any place she went. This place made no sense and for her parents to truck her and her little sister so far away from their native homeland was rather pointless. Save for it was business and her mother went wherever her father did...and neither she nor her sister were old enough to be on their own yet.
Soon after, the two wandered the hallways, the only two in the area. School slippers slapped on the hard linoleum as they walked in silence, two sets of eyes looking at all grade and room numbers above closed wood doors, occasionally glancing back at the lists in their hands. This was pertinent information and was required to be memorized as quickly as possible until the two left this place for good. It didn't take long to find everything on the three floor extensive school...but also use up the entire first period as well.
The bell rang as soon as they stopped short of her second period classroom. She didn't mind skipping first...math wasn't really a strong point she held. Too many numbers and a few professors who made her memorize definitions to equations turned her off loving, or even remotely LIKING, math. It was a good thing her companion was relatively good in it. Not only was he part tutor and followed the family around, he was one of the cousins on her mother's side.
As soon as the first period filed out, the two entered and she wordlessly stood around, checking out the classroom as her cousin handed over the schedule and - in that same language - talked to the teacher.
She didn't listen to what was being said, since she rarely knew anything about it, as it flowed too quickly for her. One reason she had an assistant. Otherwise she'd stay holed up in the suite at their hotel with a tutor she UNDERSTOOD. But here she was, miles away from her temporary home, in a temporary school...brought from her musings by a hand on her shoulder. With a small smile and polite nod to the teacher - mostly unsure and totally out of place - she let her cousin steer her to the assigned computer nearest the back of the class.
Ahh...good. The back. Easy to get to and hide, and easy to be the first to leave.
Also easy to notice those who entered. Standing up front for too long during introductions and gazing at the far wall with a detached, cool look, SHE was the one who was noticed as those who came in spotted her next to the teacher's desk.
She tried to make it look like she didn't care and didn't notice. Like she was above them. It was the only way for her to keep a confident stance around so many alien people. She could tell by their faces, at small glances as she took in a bit of the population, that they were wondering who she was and where she came from.
Her heart beat a little more wildly at being in the front of the classroom, of being unable to communicate with so many who were temporary classmates. It was so nerve-wracking that she go through this every time...one would think she'd grown accustomed to it and didn't CARE anymore. But she was MORE than shy - brought on by being the new kid in so many schools all the time - to actually gain a niche in her life. It was too hard to adjust to. Even though she did this since she was twelve.
One specific person held more questions and looked at the new student more than others. He looked at fellow classmates and felt a small stab of pity. The girl didn't look to be from around here. He could tell in the way her eyes were formed, the rounded shape of her nose, the undeniable thick curl to dark brown hair. She stood out like a sore thumb.
He could hear quiet whispers from those around him, questions asked to see if anyone knew her...and why there was someone roughly her age wearing a business suit in senior high school! Some made snide remarks about it and quietly laughed as the two wound around the computer desks to their seats. His eyes followed as the two sat in front of the computer and pulled the typing books from their resting places, flipping pages.
He subtly tried to look without actually DOING so, trying to be more polite than some. She looked so calm and assumingly stuck-up about getting so much attention, but her jaw was clenched throughout her entire behavior. She wasn't happy about this situation, but didn't say anything.
As the teacher instructed everyone to turn to the chapter they left off with, he noticed something as fingers positioned themselves over the keyboard. There was no introduction for either student, nor was there an explanation for their being here. The teacher simply started class like such an odd occurrence happened every day.
Second hour finally came and went. She typed as she knew to, being very familiar with computers. How could she not be...with a father well versed in computer programming. It was in her blood. Thankfully, she was able to get into the 'zone' and just type...not worrying about what the words meant, just did them.
After collecting papers for extra practice, vowing to get SOMETHING out of this, she looked around at the students filing out and caught sight of blue eyes before diverting hers. Making eye contact wasn't really a good thing. She wasn't out to make friends here...making herself known was pointless. Grabbing the schedule and written room number, she and her cousin headed to English class, leaving the computer typing room.
The same process repeated itself. She noticed the desks were in standard rows and bit her lip. They would need THEIR desks pushed together if she was going to learn any of the material. Not all her books arrived yet...she had to learn what her cousin could distinguish while not disrupting the lesson. How frustrating it all was! But no more frustrating than finding they were sitting about the middle of the room and allowed to put their desks together there.
She was nearly shaking from nerves at seeing practically all eyes on her as the two scraped metal legs across the floor in the quiet. It was like someone screaming, and her cheeks flushed in embarrassment with a ducked head. When class was over...she was requesting a seating change! The two unfortunate students could have their desks back in a few months. Quite likely...she would be GONE by then...
So...with no choice but to proceed with the new horrid turn of events, she leaned in as close as possible to her cousin as he whispered in her ear, all the while pointing to some things in the English book...while SHE wished to sit upright and cover her face. The blush wouldn't leave and she felt totally subconscious.
Why wouldn't everyone look at the TEACHER? Those people were accustomed to such a thing! Sure, she gained a multitude of eyes throughout her short life...but hadn't gotten used to them. A lot of the eyes were amused at her predicament, along with questioning. She almost rolled hers and tried to concentrate, not wanting to make him repeat himself. He was whispering what the teacher just got done instructing for the class...she should pay attention. She made him work hard enough as it WAS.
Later on, she learned everyone was doing assigned writing and she fought a groan. It HAD to be assigned essays! Why didn't the teacher get the HINT? Didn't he explain things to her?? To make matters worse...just because she was a student...it was required of her grade to get a good score added to her total points. Well...she would do the rough draft...and he could finish it if that was the case. The only problem was...if the teacher wanted it in HER handwriting...then it was going to be twice as hard. She fought a sigh and the urge to conk her head on the plastic desk. This was NOT her day... God how she hated writing! In THIS instance anyway...
During quiet time everyone had on their essays, lively blue looked to the center of the room, sneaking peaks along with the others. A blue brow rose, wondering all the possible questions in his language, with a few other. Along with why some lanky guy was in a suit, doing the assignment with the rest of them! Who was HE? Who was the girl?? She was dressed in the standard uniform, long black skirt and off-white blouse, but stood out like a sore thumb.
He eyed her hair and sideways profile from a nearly adjacent position. She was definitely foreign, THAT much he knew. He wanted to pass her a note to say hello and welcome to the school...but it was ALWAYS hard to pass notes in this class. So the questions were left unanswered and clouded his brain as he tried to work on the essay...to no prevail. It was impossible, he was still wondering about that girl. He found it mildly annoying. Blue snuck another peek and found her absently chewing on a pencil. He took that opportunity and craned his head up to see what got her so stumped. It was a complete shock when he found the words on her sheet completely unreadable. Where was she FROM?!
The ONLY enjoyable part was gym. Always had been, always WOULD be. She was such an energetic, outgoing person...when you tempted her with the right subject. Gym was it. A topic where one relied on actions and teamwork rather than words. Perfect.
Ever since she was little, being competitive was a big thing. She understood much from gym, from being a team player and accepted for who she was and not her origin. It was the only way she could let her hair down, smile, and have fun. She knew her cousin also enjoyed it as much as she did, but more so since he understood the people here.
The only problem she had was the dress code. Thankful the school provided the uniform and everything she needed, she was just glad it fit. Even if it WAS unseemly. Guys wore pants and the same off-white shirts...while the females wore some kind of thick underwear briefs and the same shirts.
It was EMBARRASSING. She shouldn't be wearing THIS! It cut into her good mood and she self-consciously walked out of the female's changing room to find her cousin awkwardly leaning against the wall. He looked to a small group of boys who tossed a few inquiring comments his way, but ignored them as soon as she gave a silent, inquiring look as she gained his attention. With a quiet shake of his head, basically telling her to drop it, a hand on the small of her back led them into the main doors nearby.
The gym was big...an added bonus. Hardwood floors surrounded the length, half a dozen basketball hoops pulled up in disuse. She looked around with wide eyes, taking note of the tall ceiling. Her attention jerked back to her cousin when his hand tugged her to standing line-up at the far wall, others already heading over.
She caught extra stares, but didn't let them affect her as they would've in a classroom. In gym, one could be as wild and crazy as they wanted, but not in a classroom. And in gym, they were allowed to talk at more normal voices than in other rooms. Her chin raised in pride, partly in effect to show they weren't cowering her down just because she was new. She knew people like that from other schools, and wasn't going to let them think she was weak like she had in the past.
Her cousin stood a little closer than normal to explain the warm-up stretches, moving back when necessary. She heard a few female giggles and quiet questions , and purposely paid attention to what she was doing. She knew they found her language strange...but she found THEIRS strange! At least hers had WORDS. Here, it flowed like water and was just as hard to catch onto.
She heard a voice from behind in the line, which quieted the giggles, and cast a quick, slightly surprised, glance over her shoulder. A pair of beautiful blue eyes stared back. The boy flashed a small smile, but she just blinked and looked to the floor before staring back up front.
After stretches wound down, the group, she learned, was going to continue on with the softball as they had last week. She perked up. She knew the rules and was glad. Though team captains were skeptical to choose them - for obvious reasons - they were still put on a team. The teacher stopped her when she filed into the batting line, saying something she didn't understand. Her cousin reiterated if she really wanted to do this, but she mildly glared at him and sternly nodded. She WASN'T going to be backed down just because she was new and this situation was harder than belief!
They stood in the line up near the end, for safety's sake, just in case she got nervous and screwed up. The class ran almost an hour and it was wise to go through a few rounds and be more comfortable before just jumping in.
The line slowly moved as she watched, arms crossed in a defensive stance, a white tennis shoe propped against the wall in rebel posture. She took in how the students interacted with each other, not really noticing those eyes that strayed from the game every so often to her or her cousin's form.
A small, almost hesitant tap on her shoulder slowly drew her attention to the right. A different pair of blue eyes, accompanied with really familiar blue hair, locked with a smile. The stocky boy next to her was saying something she couldn't figure out, and she tried not to put a patronizing smile. She knew in the past that giving a smile to someone she didn't know and something she didn't understand often had consequences until her cousin stepped in.
He stopped and she knew he was waiting for an answer, but she couldn't give one. How could she? She didn't even know what he SAID. The seconds agonizingly stretched by as the game went on without them before she turned to her left and tapped her cousin's arm.
"¿Kevin?" She quietly asked, gaining his attention.
His eyes regrettably pulled away and looked at her in question. Her head jerked to her right. Light brown eyes easily looked over the top of her head and met mildly confused and somewhat embarrassed gaze of the stocky boy. With a small smile, he broke into a friendly tone and said one sentence...one she actually knew. An embarrassed blush lit her cheeks as she pointedly ignored the youth behind her...knowing he'd probably think even stranger things now. Oh, WHY did Kevin have to put it like that??
She killed a sigh at finding she was next to bat. Her heart started pounding as adrenaline rushed. This was it. Whether or not she NEEDED to prove to everyone in this room she wasn't a snob because she didn't talk, or was an outlander because she wasn't from their country, she was going to DO this. Even if part of her wished the other would strike out...
She harshly swallowed. Though her attention wasn't on the game the whole time...she knew it was close. There was at least one out and the batter had a strike against him. If she was lucky, part of her whispered, she could get into the back of the outfield where no one expected to hit a homerun in the area and she'd be safe until her 'team' was next to bat.
But, minutes later...she found a lightweight, plastic bat in her hands...staring into the eyes of the team's pitcher with the biggest adrenaline rush yet. Hands tightened on the bat as teeth bit her lip, and she told herself to be strong and not bend. But it was hard not to be nervous when she gazed into the same eyes as when they were stretching...now cocky with an assumingly easy out.
Brown narrowed and she silently nodded when his brow upturned in question, a congenial smile on his face. With a nod, his arm wound back and he tossed the ball - a little TOO easy for her she thought - before the bat connected on the first shot and hit high into the air. She thanked god she wasn't so easily embarrassed - pegged a girl who couldn't pay softball - and dropped the bat, taking off for first base.
She nearly knocked the baseman over as she skidded to a stop, only to hear the boy utter a sentence she didn't know with a grin. She stared at him and, starting to blush from embarrassment again, looked around for help of someone who would give her some indication of what was going on. A hand signal was all she required, but some from the 'outfield' just kept shouting the same thing, with a few taunting words as well.
"¡Está fuera!" Kevin shouted, relieving her of very little embarrassment. You're out! Ah...how obvious...but yet their small situation was found out, and a few snickers from the surrounding classmates echoed off the walls. But, head held high, incensed eyes ignoring the others, she went to the back of the line. Apparently, her ball hit too high and was too easily caught.
'Pop fly...' She miserably thought, scrunching against the wall with the want to disappear. She should've hit a grounder...or bunted...or SOMETHING to keep from discomforting herself and her cousin. Kevin didn't HAVE to come to her rescue...but it was necessary. He HAD to. That's why he was at this school!
Tightly crossing both arms, she refused to look away from the floor as her cousin stepped up to bat with a small grin and flush on his face.
Looking across the way, double sets of blue eyes looked at the odd girl as she tried to shoot a basketball with the boy next to her. She wasn't very good...
Free gym made up the rest of the period, and the three were shooting a few themselves. A pair of oddly colored eyes idly watched from the side wall under the hoop as he refused to play. Every so often, his eyes look at the new girl for a few seconds before turning back to his companions, listening to their conversation as he watched. A small bit of his mind wondered who she was. He saw what happened during the game and wondered what language she spoke.
"I'm just saying I don't think she speaks Japanese. Or even ENGLISH for that matter!"
Swish...into the hoop another shot went.
With a grin, he tossed it to the raven haired youth and pointed to his feet. "Right here buddy. If you don't make it, that's an 'I' to your 'W' 'H'." The two were shooting for letters, using White Blaze as their name for the day. Not a well thought out idea...considering that there was about twenty minutes left of the period before lunch.
Tiger blue narrowed with a smirk as he stepped where his friend previously was and tossed the ball. It bounced off the backboard and went in. Triumphant eyes met blue off to one side as he went for a harder shot. "Didn't you say you had her in your last class?"
"Yea, English. And I'm telling you she can't be from this country even! I snuck a peek at what was on her paper and it was all gibberish!"
"Why should that mean anything?" Asked the wall-hanger. The two momentarily stopped their game and looked at him.
"CAUSE Sage...when I went to ask her if she was a transfer student...the kid next to her said she doesn't get our language!"
"Hmm." Sage muttered, casting another glance at the female almost on the other side of the hoop area. It was almost like she tried to hide in the back, to be away from prying eyes. Even though her face was less pensive than it was during the game, her eyes didn't hold much emotion. She didn't even bother smiling very much.
With a small purse of his lips, his gaze turned back as Kento missed the shot Ryo set up, making it 'W' 'H' to 'W' 'H'.
Lunch finally arrived and she would've dreaded the moment, being a new student in a new school, if she didn't have Kevin. The two sat at an empty table next to the doors, thankfully not occupied on any other seat as the cafeteria filled up to the seams. Nobody would sit next to them, she knew. They were outcasts in this school. Only FRIENDS sat with friends at lunch tables.
'And I'll never have that pleasure.' She darkly thought, opening a brown bag. She'd never be able to sit with friends and whine over homework or discuss what the other did over the previous weekend and what their plans were for the upcoming. All because she didn't speak their language.
Their table still remained unoccupied except themselves. She opened a book and started quietly conversing with Kevin to get more out of the lessons in English. Now, with such high café buzz, they could talk louder than at gym. Her eyes darkened as they stared at her half page essay. That wasn't as fun as she envisioned past experiences to be. Normally, she was able to let loose on some point...but not this time. She didn't sit it out like she KNEW she should've.
A small group suddenly stopped at the other section, bringing her gaze up. There stood the three boys from gym, one from second period, and another unfamiliar. One from gym held an almost tentative smile as they stood there, the other a friendly one. The blonde only stared before averting his gaze across the café. The blue-eyed youth gave a small smile before looking away and setting his bag on the floor. As if breaking the tension, the others followed suit and sat a few stools down on the table.
The blue-haired youth's smile widened a little, as if to disarm her. "Sorry. All the other tables were occupied. You don't mind, do you?"
She just blinked before turning to her trusting cousin. "Kevin..." Knowing the talk would start as soon as she opened her mouth, but knowing she had to take the chance, her voice dropped to a whisper, "¿qué quieren?" What do they want?
"No, we don't mind." Kevin answered, a smile on his face. A few looked away from Kevin to her when she spoke their native tongue and Kevin looked to her as well, ignoring the others. "Solamente ellos quieren sentarse aquí." He explained, a soft look in his eyes. They only want to sit here... Of course...they were allowed...there were plenty of extra seats for twice their group...but she was highly uncomfortable with it all.
The five pulled out books and lunch, few going over their homework and all eating to a degree of delicacy. She could tell that the whole ordeal was just a pretense to the questions burning in their minds. They wanted to ask...and she hated answering. Why ask and be comfortable? She would be gone soon...
"Konnichi wa. Boku no namae wa Rei Faun Kento desu. Hey...can I ask you a question?" Too late...though she didn't know what he just said...he asked by tone of voice. But there was SOMETHING she understood about that... Hello...My name is Kento Rei Faun...
"I'm sorry...she doesn't understand your language-"
"Konnichi wa. Watashi no namae wa Marzellos Epiphany desu." She quietly answered, avoiding their eyes and keeping them on her work.
Kento dumbly blinked before casting his friends a confused look. But...they just heard her speak in Japanese...but wasn't she supposed to not UNDERSTAND it? He looked to the boy across the way, his eyes skeptical. Didn't the boy just say an hour ago she didn't speak Japanese??
She didn't need to see the looks to know they were there. "Watashi wa nihongo ga jouzu hanasimasen." She whispered, hoping her accent was correct. I can't speak Japanese well... In truth...there wasn't much she DID know. She was racking her brain for what she knew to explain...if only to get their eyes off her! Not being a very auditory learner since she was young, listening was always the drawback.
"Kimi no namae wa Epiphany desu? ...Omoshiroii." Your name is Epiphany? ...Interesting.
She noticed his voice sounded tinged differently than the others. Looking up, she found it was the brunette/redhead that said that. His accent certainly didn't SOUND Japanese... She stared and blinked those even eyes of hers...not knowing what he said. But, hearing her name, eyes narrowed in misunderstanding.
"Yes, that's her name." Kevin put in. It was a good thing he was her interpreter or she would NEVER survive here! "But she doesn't know much. Only a few phrases."
"Like what?" Another put in.
She knew they were talking about her, since their voices showed they were very inquisitive. Not to mention those eyes were still directed their way. The one that recently asked was the pitcher she hit the fly ball with earlier.
She had to admit he was cute with that hair of his, those eyes she could stare all day in. Her attention quickly jerked down and she pointedly stared at the paper, absently going for her sandwich.
"Kevin," She coolly asked, "¿qué están pidiendo?" What are they asking?
Kevin looked at her even stare and knew she wanted him to isolate himself as she was doing. She never learned... The main way he learned so many languages, mostly for HER sake, was by talking to other. "Ellos quieren saber cuánto conoce." He answered. They want to know how much you know... Why tell? They didn't matter and her time wouldn't be long enough for them to get involved and teach her anything. Or get to know each other... Who knew how long she'd be staying here this time?
She drolly blinked. "Me ayuda con éste ensayo. Quiero terminar." Help me with this essay. I want to finish. Even though she didn't understand it, she had to do it. And if that meant ignoring the others, she didn't mind. They were nothing and they would BE nothing to her.
Kevin blinked at her abrupt attitude, though extremely familiar, and cast the five people an apologetic smile and look before helping. He felt guilty for closing out such friendly people and his voice showed it. He wished Epiphany wouldn't shut out everyone around her. But he understood why she did it. They moved so often throughout the year, sometimes three to four times...HARDLY enough time to make friends and get settled. There was no stopping her father's job, especially when he went to big companies to look through their program systems and make them better. He was quickly gaining a name, one reason they traveled so much.
But it wasn't fair to him, Epiphany, Willow, and his aunt. They struggled, not saying much to the one they trudged through so many countries with, and Epiphany thought it was better to act THIS way instead of like she had in the past. This different personality didn't let her have many friends. She didn't LET it. She shut her mind up with the excuse that she'd leave soon and couldn't understand what people were saying. Even in parts of SPAIN, she wouldn't let herself make friends. Leaving the ones she did hurt badly enough...
The five stared, knowing they were being purposely ignored. Those who tried to make conversation blinked at how unfriendly the girl was being. They couldn't believe her lack of manners, even WITH the language barrier, and couldn't understand why she didn't want to at least try to find a different language they both knew. The five were well versed in English as well as Japanese...could it kill her to be a little social? Surely, the boy was the interpreter, couldn't she have him translate for her?
Kento was the first to look away and go to his lunch, paying direct attention to it. The others slowly followed suit, quietly discussing homework or the rest of the day in hushed voices...feeling a little out of place. Even though the girl didn't know what they were saying, her 'helper' did. It was obvious through facial features that they were from the same country, possibly even related. All of them to some degree wondered what she was DOING here. What was the purpose of her being the cold silent type when she was going to school with a bunch of Japanese kids??