*With thanks to Aerith Gainsborough for beta-ing*
The hall was a busy mess of students scurrying to their classes. Random shouts echoed past doorways and out into the University's courtyards while the impatient stamping of feet pounded in the stifling morning. The first term of school had just begun.
Anya Mitsuki clutched her textbooks close to her chest, despite the heat, as she pushed against the crowd. Only two words were present in her mind. Room E15…Room E15… Tossing an auburn pigtail over her shoulder she made a face. What made me make that delusional decision to transfer in the first place? It had been too long since she last changed schools…but even as she thought back…it never used to be this…confusing…
Stopping in her tracks, Anya glanced around her in confusion. She had walked the entire damn Com. Law block and she still hadn't found her room! Why the hell do every door in Com. Law have to look exactly the same?
With a sigh, she started again. The sooner I find the stupid classroom, the better.
"Hi!" Anya stopped abruptly, startled – and nearly ran into a mouse haired girl. A pair of grey eyes grinned up at her. "You're new?"
"Yeah…" Anya paused, uncertain and suddenly very conscious of her op-shop shop bought clothes. Pushing a pair of lopsided glasses up her nose paused again. She had heard of the rumours about this place… Wakato University was the best and the most expensive university in the entirety of Japan. The only reason she had transferred here was because of the 50 thousand-a-year scholarship. There would be no way in the world she could afford coming here otherwise…everyone else here was loaded – with money and ego.
"So you're not going to introduce yourself?" Grey-eye's voice piped up, breaking her thoughts. "Well, if you're not, then I am. I'm Mikki. Or, if you're going to be a dinosaur like my grandparents: Mikkina Tanako." She stuck out a hand. There was no response. With a shake of her head, Mikki added in an exasperated voice, "Shake it. I don't bite."
"Oh." Grinning sheepishly, Anya clasped the outstretched hand. "I'm Anya – Anya Mitsuko. I'm a transfer student from the University of Tokyo." Maybe this isn't going to be as bad as I thought…
"Oh! So you're the new girl everyone's talking about!" Grinning, Mikki pumped Anya's hand vigorously. "Who do you have?" she asked eagerly. "What's your classroom?"
"E15? Cool! You're in my class! So you're second year Com. Law too? I can't believe you're in my class!" Her grin widening, Mikki grabbed Anya's arm. "C'mon! I'll show you 'round!"
"But I-" Before the words of protest could even leave Anya's lips, she had been dragged down the hall by an all too enthusiastic Mikki.
The Music Centre. Tobias Toshia casually brushed a strand of soot black hair out of his eyes, focusing on the sheets of music before him. Relaxing back into the chair, he let his hand return to the guitar's strings, plucking a familiar tune as he hummed to the song under his breath. It was too rare a moment that he could practice like this. Work and school took priority to the one thing that ruled his life far too often. And now with the pressure from his family to become the 'corporate businessman' they wanted for a son…
"Toby!!" The high-pitched squeal snapped his thought to a close. Rising, he placed the guitar to the side and grimace as a bouncing brunette jumped into his arms.
"Hey Cindy." With a forced smile he returned the embrace. Never again would he date another ditz. It was far too hard on the ears…
"Hiya Toby. Watcha doing? Is this song for me?"
"No, Cindy. This is the new one the band will be performing at the next dance. I'm Ink's lead singer. I've got to spend some time practicing the songs."
"Oh." The disappointed expression evaporated from Cindy's face as she thought of another proposition. "The bell's gonna go soon, Tobes. Will you be walking me to class? It's an 'us' tradition!'
"Cindy-bear…" Tobias pecked her cheek untangling her from his arms. It was about time he discontinued this and took up another. For two weeks, he had dated Cindy Katashi – only because she was the most popular girl in the architect students. He had grown tired of her...and Minako Sumata had caught his eye… "I've been thinking…about this whole 'us' thing…."
"What's the matter Toby?" Cindy pouted, lower lip quivering. "What's wrong…about us?"
"Nothing…nothing's wrong…" Tobias sighed. He hated waterworks…and from the look of things, this one's was going to come as early as possible. But then again, it is a small price to pay for a few days of avoiding boredom… "Nothing's wrong…but then again…everything is. Look, Cindums, I've been thinking about 'us' and I've been having second thoughts."
"S-second thoughts? But Toby, we've only been going 'steady' for a week!"
"Cindy…Cindy. Look darling, I know that, but sometime things happen this way…it's not you, anyway. It's me. I don't know…I just don't love you anymore…" Like I liked you in the first place…
"But Toby!! I still love you!!" Tobias grimaced again as Cindy fell into his arms tears flowing freely from her eyes. Perhaps this much waterworks wasn't exactly worth the amount of 'fun' he had gotten from her…
"But it makes two to make a relationship work, Cindy, and I'm afraid that…well…it isn't going to work out between us. Ending this now will save a lot of tears."
"But Toby -!!"
Tobias sighed. Stupid girls. Why couldn't they see things like he did? Why the hell did they have to hang on to such a stupid thing as love? "Cindy…" he paused, his eyes catching sight of a clock. Perhaps he could use this 'love' thing to his advantage…
"Cindy? Even though we are 'over'…" he made a face as her wails grew louder. "…I want you to remember the moment we became a couple as clearly as I do. On the 15th of September, at the fourth second of the fifteenth hour of the seventh hour of the morning, we were officially an item." He paused feeling Cindy slowly detach herself from him. "We'll both close our eyes and remember this moment so that the memory of our first meeting remains in our hearts forever."
Seeing her eyes close, Tobias laughed inwardly. As gullible as the rest. With a silent shrug, he left the room.
"…and this is our classroom!" Mikki's triumphant exclamation was met with a bewildered look from Anya. In the last five minutes, she had heard more names than she could ever hope to remember.
Interpreting Anya's expression wrong, Mikki laughed. "Don't worry! It's simple to find, really – even if the stupid Board's made every door in this place identical. Enter from the main doors- turn right at the first corner, then left, then right again at the second interval and five doors from your left's this room. You'll get used to it soon enough."
"Don't worry about it. I was only lost everyday for a month when I was a first year."
"For a month?"
"Hey, but you're scholarship, right? Then you must be heaps smarter than I'd ever hope to be. You'll learn the way faster. You'll probably won't even be lost tomorrow, but for now, I'll be your guide."
"Okay…" Anya couldn't help but smile. Despite Mikki's…large…verbal output, she could not help but warm up the bubbly girl. Her first friend…
The loud ringing of the school bell broke her thoughts.
"C'mon Anya, time to go into class! Sumi's really hard on late comers."
With another grin, Anya followed her friend into the classroom
Tobias entered the classroom – ten minutes after the bell. He hated Sumi's classes. In fact the only reason he attended at all was that his father had threatened to stop his Bachelor of Music course if he didn't come in the top three places each year. This of course, didn't stop him from skipping most of his classes anyway.
"Mr. Toshia. What is the reason for you're tardiness today?"
Tobias shrugged, mildly surprised that the old man had actually stopped him to ask. Generally, Sumi would ignore him – even if he arrived in the last five minutes of class. "None of you're business, old man. I don't know why you even bother to ask."
"What? How dare you Mr. Toshia! You are late again and again to my class-"
"Quit it, old man. Everyone here knows my parents are paying you to teach me, not to lecture me. Why don't you get on with the lesson?"
"I…be sure your father will be hearing about this, Tobias."
"Whatever." Sliding smoothly into his seat, Tobias turned his head to the window. Like father'll care, idiot. As long as I the top my finals, I'm not even alive, as far as he's concerned. Half listening to the lesson, he heard the spluttering teacher turn back to the class. "As I was saying, we have a new student in our midst. Miss Mitsuki, please come to the front and introduce yourself."
Tobias' ears pricked. A new female student? He had gone through all the girls in his year…was there a chance of a fresh victim?
Obsidian eyes sliding back to the rest of the class, he watched as a girl dressed in obvious second-hand clothes step meekly to the front of the classroom. A scholarship kid… With a snort he turned back to the window. Scum like her belonged to the stinking fast food outlets they had crawled out from, not a school such as Watako. Even from where he was sitting, he could tell the girl was an eyesore. How in the world had she acquired at taste for those type of clothes… She'd probably last a week – at most. The Social Circles of the school had ways of taking care of people like her. Not even worth bothering about…
Watching Tobias take his seat, Anya turned to Mikki. "I thought you said that Sumi's hard on late comers?"
"He is, just not with Tobias." A look of distaste passed across Mikki's face. "Everyone knows that Aishia Ltd is biggest sponsor of this school, so just because he's Aishia's heir, Toshia over there thinks he can do anything and get away with it. The teacher's reverence of him doesn't help either."
"I see." Anya paused. "You don't like him, do you?"
"No I-" Mikki began but was interrupted by the teacher's words.
"Miss Mitsuki, please come to the front of the room and introduce yourself."
Anya felt her stomach clench. Why did she have to get one of those professors? She hated attention. She hated speeches. Stupid professor with stupid introduce-you-to-us-and-lets-be-friends philosophy…as if it's going to work…
Feeling her face burn a steady shade of scarlet, she rose and slowly worked to the front of the room, trying to ignore the stares and whispers that followed her. Yes, I've realized by now I'm not as loaded as the rest of you snobs…
Coughing nervously, she began. "H-hi…I'm Anya….Anya Mitsuko. But I'msureyoukonwallthatalready." She paused, grimacing. This is not the way to make a speech… "I'm 19…turning 20 in November. I…I was a Com. Law student in the University of Tokyo before I…uh…transferred here. Um…I…um…" Anya hesitated. What more do I have to tell them? I can't tell them my…situation…they'd crucify me! Taking a deep breath, she started again. "I…uh…I hope I enjoy my stay-I mean time! Yes…uh…time at Wakato University…and I…um…hope all of you and I…uh…will become friends?"
Blushing beetroot, Anya managed to bow slightly before returning to her seat. The only think that interrupted the silence in the room were the occasional sniggers at the back of the classroom. Then suddenly, the fast and deliberate sound of clapping broke out – right next to her.
Mikki glared at the incredulous looks that had followed her round of applause. "Well, it's better than what the rest of you could ever hope to do."
"Thankyou, Miss Tankako for your assessment. I hope I can make the same of your globalisation essay, yes?"
Shrugging, Mikki sat, winking at Anya. Anya grinned back, mouthing the word 'thanks'. She was grateful for the distraction to her mortifying speech. Glancing around the room, she shrugged. Mikki was right. She was scholarship. She may not be richer, but she was smarter. I'll show the rest of them…I'll beat all of them in the finals.