Author's note: Yes, I am making a lot of this up as I go. If the protagonist turns out to carry Mary Sue traits, I hope I can make this story fun enough for you to keep reading, regardless. Thank you for reading.
The girl who stood before her door was splendidly tall; about the same height as her. Her long, auburn hair fell immaculately down to her waist, the colour complimenting her school uniform perfectly.
Ah, same school uniform?
"Yes," Shizuka replied. "You are…?"
"Sakaki Yukina." The tall beauty swung her schoolbag over her shoulder. "I am to make sure you can get to school fine on your own. Come," she said, not even offering time to prepare.
"Ah." Grabbing her schoolbag off the floor, Shizuka hurriedly locked the door to her apartment and caught up with the other girl as she was descending the stairs.
"Although," Shizuka started conversationally, "this is somewhat of a surprise."
"My father and yours are old friends," Yukina replied simply, eyes forward. "You didn't hear of it?"
It was an approximate five minutes' walk to the train station; a journey they made in silence.
"Remember which platform," Yukina told her while they waited for the train that would take them to a stop minutes from school.
Shizuka responded with a nod. "…Still, thank you for showing me the way."
"It is fine," Yukina said as the train arrived. She stepped in. "As part of the culture exchange committee, the responsibility would have landed on me regardless."
Though there were a few seats open on the train, Yukina didn't even spare a glance their way. She took a comfortable stance holding onto one of the hanging handles.
They were attracting attention, Shizuka realized almost immediately. Specifically, from the other commuters wearing their school's uniform. She had hardly a moment to puzzle about this when next to her, Yukina turned her pale blue gaze to her.
"Kagami, you were educated in France since elementary, am I correct?" Yukina asked, never lowering her voice despite being inside a public space. It wasn't that her voice was loud…conversely, it held an element of refinement and authority that carried. "I don't know how well they educated this in France…but in Japan, students are expected to save the seats for the elderly and the lesser abled, particularly if it is this short of a distance."
Almost immediately, Shizuka noticed the eavesdropping students who were seated rising from their seats.
"…Yes," Shizuka replied. "I'll remember that."
"It is extremely rare for our school to get transfer students in the midst of a school year, especially in senior high. I recall you are here on artistic scholarship?" Yukina commented.
"Yes," Shizuka confirmed. "I had been informed my case was a rare exception."
"Hyoutei requests its graduates to complete a minimum number of club and committee hours," Yukina informed her. "Normally, these conditions are fulfilled in junior high, and students devote their time to prepare for college entrance exams in senior high years. I understand you will be joining the art club?"
The art club would be the logical choice, of course. Although, her cause was somewhat of an exception.
"No," Shizuka replied. At the slight quirk of the other girl's eyebrow, Shizuka explained, "The agreement I have with the headmaster exempts me from art club activities as long as I partake in all their exhibitions and contests. It does not exempt me from the hours required, however."
Yukina's expression turned thoughtful, although it was only a minor change from before. "It will not be easy, at this time of the year. Our clubs are of a competitive nature."
That was all the explanation she offered. The next stop was announced and Yukina gestured that it was their time to get off the train.
"By the way, what class are you in?" Yukina asked, glancing back over her shoulder. Shizuka walked slightly behind, allowing the other girl to lead the way.
2-F. Shizuka unfolded the sheet of paper she had tucked into her pocket to check just in case. "2-F."
"I see. Just as expected, they would do that."
Shizuka gave her a questioning look. "Is there something about the class I'm assigned to?"
The auburn haired girl only gave a light smilethe first she'd seen from herand replied cryptically, "Hyoutei Academy is rather…unique. I am sure you will find out soon enough."
"Class, starting today, we have a new student from France. She was supposed to be here Monday, but her flight had been delayed by snowstorms. Thus, she is joining us today." The homeroom teacher glanced over at her, adjusting his glasses. "You may introduce yourself."
Shizuka stepped into place, her face impassive. Though she wasn't a shy individual, she didn't particularly enjoy being in the center of attention.
"Good morning," her voice rang out, loud and clear. "My name is Kagami Shizuka. I am originally from here, but I attended L'Academie des Fleurs in Paris from third year of elementary up until now. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"A returnee, huh?"
"At this time of year?"
"Could it be…that?"
"Your typical student-sent-abroad who went bad and had to be recalled, what did you think? This is class 2-F."
I can hear you, you brats.
Outwardly, Shizuka remained collected.
"Hey!" A hand rose at the back, belonging to a boy of her class. "L'Academie des Fleurs, isn't that the art academy where this decade's most celebrated art prodigy attends? What was his name? Mel-MerMerville!"
Her jaw went taut at the question. In response, Shizuka smiled, though the smile failed to reach her eyes. "L'Academie des Fleurs," she said coolly, "has no shortage of prodigies of art."
The temperature in the room must have dropped a few degrees, because all of a sudden several pairs of eyes went to the windows as if to check that they were closed securely.
"Thank you, Kagami-san. You may take the empty desk next to Katsuji-san."
There were, in fact, several empty desks. A red-haired girl whom she assumed to be Katsuji waved her hand to notify where she was.
Several boys let out low whistles as she passed their desks.
"Whoa, cold bitch."
Maybe she went too far.
"Hey." The red-haired girl next to her seat flapped one hand lifelessly as greeting when Shizuka took her seat. First period hasn't started and the girl looked like she was ready to fall asleep. "Katsuji Nao here," she then said in an exaggerated drawl, "please take care of me~"
"…Sure," Shizuka replied, staring curiously back at her.
A delicately trimmed eyebrow arched up. The girl took great care of her appearance. Those eyelashes were most definitely fake. "What, in circumstances like these, you're supposed to reply in kind."
"Yes, yes." Katsuji Nao, her neighbor, stood up.
Shizuka glanced to the desk next to her.
"Yes, you." Katsuji Nao was waving for her attention.
"Yes?" Shizuka asked.
Two morning blocks were done with, and there was a recess before the next two started. Most of their classmates left the classroom. A few remaining slept through the bell.
"So, what is the real reason?" the red-haired girl asked, lifting a quizzical eyebrow. "Is it expulsion? Or perhaps…a crime?"
"Pardon me?" Shizuka asked with surprise, a French accent slipping into her voice.
"You seem like a serious type." Her chin propped on her palm, Nao gazed pointedly at the neat notes Shizuka had been keeping for Sociology and Social Studies. "They don't really put your type in 'F' unless there's been some stain on your record."
Shizuka glanced down at her notes, and then back at her.
"Hyoutei Senior High's classes are divided based on a merit system," Nao explained with droopy eyes. "Year 2 has 208 students, ranked A to F. Class A is considered the prince and princesses of the academy; prodigies and heirs of corporate empires. Class B are from prominent families with various talents. Class C has students who may not have reputable family background but are consistent high achievers. Well, you get the idea what category our class, F, falls into."
"Is that so…" Her mind flashed back to Sakaki Yukina's words that morning.
"That's not all," Nao complained to her. "The blocks are scheduled to prioritize those in the higher ranked classes. We get all the tough stuff later on in the day. Ughhh-!" The girl dropped her head against her desk. "I can't do math right after lunch. Should I just skip…?" Shizuka heard her mumble to herself.
Shizuka chuckled lightly. Her next seat neighbor was quite cute.
Shizuka turned back at the sound of that familiar voice.
Sakaki Yukina was descending the steps from third floor of the building.
So Yukina was a third year…that somewhat explains the air of maturity about her.
"You are heading to the cafeteria?" Yukina asked, brushing back her long auburn tresses with one hand. "Shall we go together?"
Shizuka hesitated under that pale blue gaze.
Hesitated, because by then she was already aware—the way other students have parted a path for them at the gates that morning, the way they stopped and greeted her; and the way even now, the other students kept a respectable distance behind her—that Yukina was this academy's Queen.
Shizuka wasn't so sure if she would be fond of the attention this would inflict on her. Then again, perhaps it was better than the awkwardness of not belonging.
"If you don't mind," Shizuka replied, falling into step beside the cool beauty.
One thing became apparent to her as soon as they picked up their food and decided on a table: Yukina had no shortage of friends, nor did she select randomly whom to sit with.
The female students waiting for her at the table were, in brief, remarkably pretty.
"Oh? She is a new face." The beauty with long black hair stood and held out a white, slender hand. "Ichinose Hirose; a pleasure to meet you."
"Ichinose is our student council vice president," Yukina informed Shizuka as they shook hands.
"Yo." A girl with shorter stature leaned towards her across the table. "You can dance?"
Shizuka blinked in confusion.
"This is Kagami Shizuka," Yukina wove in. "She arrived as a transfer student just today."
"Aw." The shorter girl pouted. "Too bad. She's got a nice figure and face."
"Tsukimoto Tamari here is the vice-captain of our competitive dance club," Yukina explained the girl's behaviour.
"Ah…" Shizuka hoped the reason Yukina invited her to join them wasn't for recruiting her into their dance club. She simply didn't have the time to commit to something like that.
After a brief introduction to each the members of Yukina's clique, they settled down to their meal. Admittedly, it wasn't comfortable for Shizuka. She felt it: the distance between this group and the rest of the cafeteria users. Therefore, she excused herself as soon as she could with the reason that she would like to explore the campus.
Finally, a breath of fresh air.
The January air was cold, but not so cold that it would burn her throat if she went for early morning exercise. Perhaps, tomorrow morni-
A loud ringtone sounded from somewhere ahead of her.
Huh? Someone's cellphone was lying on the pavement. Had someone lost it? It seemed to be one of the newer models, too.
It was still ringing. Shizuka picked it up. Possibly from the phone's original owner? She pressed the answer key.
"Where are you?" a voice, clipped and controlled, demanded.
Shizuka frowned, but after a look at her surroundings, answered, "Behind the gymnasium."
"Don't go away, bitch." The line went dead.
Shizuka gaped at the offending object in her hand. Wasn't that amount of anger uncalled for toward the person who had found your phone!?
Something…something didn't feel right.
She wasn't given much time to deliberate over it. Soon she heard steps approaching from the side.
Nor did she have the chance to react before a splash of freezing water hit her.
Rubbing the water out of her eyes, Shizuka glared at her foes.
"Hmph. That should cool you down."
It was two guys in her school's uniform. The guy who spoke wore a sardonic smirk as he approached. The other guy, gigantic and bleary eyed, lowered the bucket he was holding to the ground.
With an irritated scowl, the shorter one of the two flipped open his cellphone. "If you dare pull something like this again," he warned her, his voice low and unforgiving, "Ore-sama will show you what hell looks like."
He snapped his fingers. "Kabaji!"
"Usu." A hand suddenly clamped down on her shoulder, startling her. When did he get behind her?
The guy rambling nonsense flipped a hand through his hair dismissively. "Even if you understand Ore-sama's brilliance, don't talk to Ore-sama. Don't think of Ore-sama. Don't even dare show your face before Ore-sama." His dark blue eyes cruelly pierced into her. "Ma. You know what will happen if you do."
The guy who steered her away was strong. He didn't let go of her until she was shoved outside the school gate, with the gate sliding shut behind her.
The lunch bell was already over by then.
What the…? She stared down at the cellphone still in her grasp, and pocketed it.
Sighing, Shizuka hugged herself against the cold. Her uniform was drenched and she didn't have spare clothes to change into. Fortunately, she kept her keys and student pass in her pockets.
Shizuka headed home while pondering one question: who or what is an Ore-sama?
"…yes. Yes. There is no problem."
Shizuka was pacing the length of her living room, conversing in French.
"Don't worry, nothing like that will repeat itself. There'll be no scandal."
She paused before the window to look at the Tokyo night scene.
"Yes, I'll remember. Ah-"
With a soft sigh, the brunette looked down at the receiver; the person on the other line having already hung up.