Chapter One

Umi Ryuuzaki's eyes threatened to betray her as she forced the tears in and stared at them plainly as they teased her.

"Sleep with one of the professors or something?"

"How can a ditz like her get such a good grade?"

"Her daddy makes a lot of money, the school has to pass her."

She just watched and listened calmly though her heart screamed. She worked hard to earn her grades, just because she was pretty didn't mean that they had to tease her so. She wanted to tell them this except she knew that they would just laugh. She set her jaw firmly and stayed silent, accepting their torture with a calm gaze.

"Don't have anything to say back?" one girl taunted cruelly. "But aren't you smart? You got a hundred on that chemistry test, advanced chemistry. You should at least know something to say."

She turned her head and walked down the hall, never turning back though she heard them laugh and call her names behind her back.

When she turned the hall she began to sprint back to her dorm, knowing that she would never be able to sit through her next class. She skipped it though it was her favorite; their cruel names and taunting forced her away.

She stopped only when she ran into someone and fell to the ground, her books skidding across the floor.

"Watch where you're going," a male voice hissed, and she looked up to see lavender hair.

"G-gomen," she muttered and began to collect her books.

He looked at her curiously, "Uh…"

"Oh, sorry," she corrected herself.

"Your English is very good," he commented and handed her one of her books. His eyes skinned the title, Origin of Species.

"Thanks," she took it hurriedly.

"No problem, bump into me again would you?" he teased, and she glared and walked down the hall. "Sheesh," he mumbled and shook his head, walking the other direction.

When she was in the safety of her dorm she slammed the door to her room and crumpled into a ball on the floor near her bed. She leaned against the bed as tears began to pour from her eyes. She slammed her fist into the mattress, and it shuddered in her wake. Had it not been next to a wall it would have fallen.

"Umi!" someone called from the door to her small dorm room. "Umi, did I hear you come in?"

"In here Cal," Umi called, and a girl emerged and looked at her roommate in sympathy. "You can't take everything they say so personally."

"I know," she wiped her tears and smiled a convincing smile.

"Come here," Caldina sat next to Umi and gave her a hug. "Don't worry about them, they're Americans, what do you expect?"

Umi laughed weakly, "You and your philosophies."

"Hey, they're true," she pointed a finger that made Umi laugh. "Don't you have a Literature class to be in anyway?"

Umi nodded, "But I don't know if I can face them just now."

"Don't worry about them, just pretend you don't see them. Even better, say something nice to them. You don't know they're going to be in your classes anyway. It's a new semester; you have new classes, go make some friends. Who knows, maybe even a boyfriend?" she hinted and winked before standing.

"Come on Cal, you know that I don't have time for that," Umi informed her as she stood as well and smoothed the light blue skirt she was wearing out.

"Ah ah ah, but you should," she tisked her, making her laugh again, before she walked to the bathroom to wash her face and comb her hair. She grabbed her books and ran out, thanking her roommate as she did.

"Now," Caldina sighed and looked around. "I know that History book is somewhere…"

Fuu Hououji timidly walked into her first Literature class of the year. It was one of her worst subjects, getting only an average of about a ninety-eight percent in it compared to the hundreds she received in math and science. She walked nervously into the class and heard a few whispers.

"Valedictorian," someone turned to her and smiled, wanting to be on her good side. When you know someone smart you get to go to a lot more parties.

"Fuu Hououji, she's studying to be a doctor. Her family is really famous for having the genius gene."

"She's so reclusive though; I haven't seen her at one party this year."

"She isn't even in a sorority," one of the girls scoffed and turned her head.

Fuu found a spot in the front, and the teacher smiled at her. She smiled back; she didn't know him, but all the teachers knew about her. They talked at lunch and told one another about the exceptional students that they should look forward to having-her name was on all their tongues.

She pulled out her copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream and flipped through the pages, checking off some spots to memory. She pulled a pencil and a pad of paper from her book bag and set her eyes on the teacher and the blackboard, ignoring all their talk.

She hated it when they spoke about her like she couldn't hear them. She was smart, but she wasn't deaf. She didn't think it was very nice of them to say anything about her when she worked twice as hard as any of them. English wasn't even her primary language and still she did better than them.

'Now Fuu,' she scolded herself, 'don't look down upon them just because they don't work as hard as you. Not everyone can stand to be locked in her dorm room for six hours straight. College is just as much social as academic.'

She smiled at the thought; at least she was getting an education. She had to work hard for the full scholarship she received; she wasn't about to waste it partying non-stop and never doing anything productive. Just because that was the accepted belief of college didn't mean she was going to abide by it. She was who she was, and their words weren't going to change anything for her.

She breathed deep and kept herself focused; it was going to be a long class.

Hikaru Shidou flew around the corner and came sprawling into the class, panting. An apology was all ready on her lips as she bowed furiously to the teacher who watched her with mild interest. A small smile crossed his lips when she did one final deep bow and stayed in the doorway.

"Forgive me sir, but I couldn't find the class, please, feel free to reprimand me in anyway you want."

He laughed a bit out loud and told her to take a seat, that class was just beginning. She looked up at him; a bit confused, but nodded and took her seat. Maybe he just didn't want to punish her in front of the whole class; she smiled- what a nice man.

"First off, welcome to Classic English literature," he smiled a dashing smile, and Hikaru sighed. She hated English; it was by far her worst subject. She guessed her teachers had either made a mistake putting her in this class, or they had simply wanted to torture her. There was no way out of it though, she was in this class, and she would have to live with it.

She turned her attention back to the teacher who was speaking once more, "Second, there are no traditional rules in this class except, I am the teacher, and you will treat me with some kind of respect. Do not interrupt me, under any circumstances. I don't care if you're late or on time; I don't care if you don't ever show up. Finals will be handed out, as well as midterms; you miss them you fail. There are no make-ups, if you are dying and need to crawl off your deathbed to take them, you will do so, or you'll fail. Other than that, I look forward to a good year."

Hikaru gulped, this was going to be a very long year.

Umi took a seat next to a girl with blond hair and green eyes. Her eyes were hindered by glasses that made her look smarter than she all ready was, and she quickly realized who this was. She sat next to her main competitor, though there was no competition. Since Umi had been going to Westminster College she had been constantly outdone in grades by one Fuu Hououji, and here she was, in the flesh. She had never been able to beat this girl's natural genius, and she knew she never would. It was fun trying though, and it was something to aim for.

She was just staring at her rival when a girl with flaming red hair in a braid down her side flew through the door and began her quick apology. Umi's eyes narrowed and then brightened when she saw the traditional apology of Japan. She saw Fuu Hououji's eyes dart towards the girl too and smile happily.

As the girl sat near them the teacher began his lecture which lasted a few minutes. They both looked to the girl who gulped heavily and hid a giggle behind a hand.

"Never before in my career have I had the privilege of teaching not only one or two, but three Japanese students in my class," he turned to the three girls in the front who looked down when everyone turned to them. "Konichiwa."

Fuu looked a bit shocked, and Hikaru smiled warmly.

"Your accent is horrible," Umi sounded a bit disgusted and looked down from him.

"Thanks for that input, Ms. Ryuuzaki is it?" He smiled at her despite her comment. She thought she would maybe make the people think otherwise if she was mean to the teachers right off the bat. "Your reputation precedes you," here he flashed her another grin, and a few people stifled giggles and snickers.

She turned her head down and closed her eyes, trying to force it away.

"I look forward to learning from you three," he opened the book and began.

The class moved at a slow pace, mostly discussing vocabulary and elements of Shakespearean writing. Umi and Fuu sighed wistfully when he mentioned Romeo and Juliet, and Hikaru pulled her head from her notes long enough to see them exchange glances and turn back to the professor.

That was the only exchange any of them had throughout the class. When the bell rang, they rushed out. As they walked outside, Hikaru was embraced by a large circle of friends, teasing her about being late. Fuu was also attacked, but by admirers who wanted to know the secret of success, and would she please be their study partner? Umi sighed, 'there goes that philosophy,' she thought to herself. She had genuinely believed that they didn't like her because she was Japanese, but the other two were accepted well enough.

"Hey babe," a boy by the name of Jason came close to her, wrapping an arm around her waist.

"Baka," Umi hissed and pushed him away.

"I love it when you speak to me like that," he whispered near her ear; he was obviously all ready drunk.

"I'm not your girlfriend, get away," she pushed him away again, and he glared and drew his hand back. He spun when a strong hand stopped him.

"I believe she asked you to leave her alone," a vicious voice said to him when he turned.

"Hey man," Jason smiled.

"Jason?" the one who had saved her seemed astonished. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Nothing," the boy flashed Umi a grin. "We were just discussing her English paper, isn't that right?"

Umi turned her head and refused to answer.

"I thought you knew better than to raise your hand to a woman."

"Sorry, sorry, it won't happen again. I gotcha I gotcha," he turned and walked back down the hall he had come from, shooting Umi a glance that said, 'I'm not finished with you.'

She sighed heavily and looked at her watch, what a day.

"Are you okay?" She hadn't even realized he was still there until he spoke, and she was forced to look up.

"Yeah, fine," she mumbled softly.

"I was scared for a minute that he hit you," he shuddered.

"No, and if he had I would have hit him back. I didn't need you to save me," she spat right back, ignoring his astonished stare.

"If you were so strong you wouldn't have said that I saved you," he retorted, after a moment's shock.

She then looked at him again and realized it was the same guy she had run into in the hallway before. "Whatever, I have a class; I don't have time to play word games with you."

"Fine, I'll remember to let him attack you next time," he glared fiercely at her back as she turned and walked away from him.

Fuu sighed heavily as she set down the book that she was reading again. She loved it every time, if only she could live in another world and be able to use magic and ride horses and fight evil monsters. That would be a life worth living. Instead she was a nerd who lived in a book about a life she could only fantasize. What used to be the only thing that could cheer her had somewhere turned into a dreary little world that she could never live in. Its bright characters and colorful places hadn't dulled in the least, no, they had only gotten brighter. It seemed to outshine her world ten to one though, and it made coming out of her world all the harder.

She put the book in her bag sadly and was about to leave when she heard someone bellowing on the other side of the library, "Ferio! Are you sleeping again? How are you ever going to pass Calculus when you sleep when you're supposed to be doing homework?"

She giggled behind a hand as the librarian stood, "That's okay," she urged the woman to continue helping the person she was with. "I'll tell them."

"Arigato, Fuu," she used the word Fuu had taught her hesitantly.

"Very good," Fuu smiled brightly and walked to the other side of the library, slinging her bag over her shoulder.

She walked to the place where she had heard the noise coming from and found a girl with blond hair in a high ponytail yelling at a guy with cat-like gold eyes and green hair. When he looked up she saw he had a narrow scar on his face that only made him look more attractive. She soon found herself blushing as she weakly approached. She hoped she would be able to find her voice for this handsome stranger.

"Hi," she managed a small introduction, enough to make both people turn. He shot her a grin, and she blushed deeper. The girl looked her over, then smiled.

"Sorry, we'll keep it down. I realize other people are trying to study," she emphasized the word while glaring at the man.

He smiled innocently back, "Presea, honestly, I can't get anything done with you constantly hovering over me."

"You really can't get anything done when you're sleeping," she growled angrily, flaring her nimble arms.

"Um…" Fuu blushed when they once again realized her presence. "You see, the librarian is a bit angry at all the noise you two are making; I just wanted to warn you."

"Angry? Well look Presea, we oughta go, I mean, if she's angry…" his eyes glinted in mischief, a real cat look.

"Oh no, you're going to stay here and memorize these formulas."

He sighed heavily and nodded.

"Now…" she began to instruct him once more, and he only looked at Fuu one more time before she turned and left. His eyes were warm, but they were more pleading. It was a 'let me out of this,' look, and Fuu smiled back sympathetically before she turned and left.

She sighed on her way out, probably his girlfriend. She muttered miserably and realized she hadn't been out on a date since her junior year in high school. This was what, her senior year in college?

"Jeez, I need to get out more," she muttered and remembered she had a biology test the next day and rushed to finish studying.

"Uh! I just don't get it!" Hikaru sighed heavily as she danced around the man in front of her.

"What's there to get Hikaru? There's a book, and you read it," the man joked with her. She was one of the only people who could get him to both speak and smile.

She grinned back at him, "That's easy for you to say Lantis, you're not taking English Literature."

"No, but I did," he blocked her swing easily, and she glared at him for being able to talk and block at the same time.

"Oh that's right, you're getting your masters now," she scoffed. "What kind of person goes for a masters before they're even into the world?"

"I want to go into the world with a good education," his words ended their conversation. The rest of the time was spent with skillful maneuvers, blocks and swings, strokes and parries.

When they were both equally tired, and no one had claimed a victory, they called it quits and put away their practice swords. Hikaru couldn't believe that an English school would have Kendo, but she was grateful. She guessed that this school catered to all kinds of different people.

They walked out, laughing and joking, and ran into some other friends. When Lantis saw them he immediately stopped talking and gained his calm, unchangeable expression. Hikaru pondered for a minute just why he did that around them, but not her, then decided it was his business and suggested they get ice cream. Lantis excused himself and went towards his dorm.

"Oooh Hikaru," someone cooed, and Hikaru looked up, confused.

"He likes you," another added. "He still likes you; I can't believe that."

"What are you talking about?" Hikaru laughed. "We're just friends, and you all know it."

"Yeah you're probably right," someone added sarcastically.

"Exactly right Hikaru."

She glared defiantly but let them drop the subject. She didn't want to think about Lantis like that; they were just good friends.