Sharpe trudged up the last few steps towards Maplewood Academy in hopes that school would be better today than it had the previous day. As soon as he saw Tetsuya Takahashi's glinting eyes, he should have known better.

"Hey Jedediah!" Sharpe glanced over to see Kiyoshi Sato, Takahashi's best friend, and much to Sharpe's chagrin, partner-in-crime. Sato was much shorter than Takahashi was, but he was very strong. He hurled a tennis ball towards Tetsuya, which narrowly missed Sharpe's head. Sharpe was almost pleased; had Sato's aim been even half-way decent, the ball would have pelted Sharpe in the face. As if he didn't have enough problems already!

Unfortunately for Sharpe, Takahashi – who was the star pitcher for the school baseball team – had caught the ball. Tetsuya had a much better aim than Kiyoshi did and he was just as strong. There was a rumor spreading around their senior class that after graduation, Takahashi would be going to Japan to play professional baseball.

Takahashi had just released the ball when Sharpe's reflexes finally chose to react. He ducked out of the way, but the ball never reached him. Someone had stepped between him and Tetsuya and that someone had caught the ball.

"Coward!" Sato sneered from behind where Sharpe was standing. Sharpe tried to glare in Sato's direction, but this was practically ineffective. For, at that moment, there was a girl standing directly in front of Tetsuya.

The girl could not have been more than an inch above five feet tall. She sported a khaki skirt and grey sweater, complete with the insignia badge that showed that she was from the class of 1991, or a freshman. Both of her hands were resting on her hips and she was clutching the tennis ball in one hand so tightly that her knuckles began to turn white.

"You just leave him alone, Tetsuya!" she ordered. "Or I'll have to report you." Sharpe finally obtained a better look at her. The girl's Asian features looked strikingly familiar and definitely more Chinese than Japanese. She also wore a lot more make-up than Sharpe had ever seen anyone else wear before. "And I mean it!"

The girl threw the tennis ball back, hitting Tetsuya square in the stomach. He winced, pain – probably fake, Sharpe guessed – written all over his face. The girl smirked and strode off. As the bell rang to start school on that Friday in the middle of February, Sharpe's dark eyes followed her. Smiling, he realized that his day had gotten slightly better. Perhaps there was still something good left about high school after all.