hi! I've been meaning to post this story but I've never got the chance, busy schoolworks!

anyway, if anyone's reading this, I really appreciate it :)

and thanks to SoCloseYetSoFar for the lovely review!

Chapter 2

I want to skip to the end and do the whole happily ever after thing, but you don't get there unless you play the game.
~How I Met Your Mother, Ted Mosby

...

He ran wildly on the sidewalk. Thank God it's 3 a.m., or this place will be crowded, he thought to himself while taking a left turn. About a mile from where he was standing, that prestigious high school stood, it's golden plate was being shone by a spotlight, making anyone who passed by can easily read the engraved words: Rousseau High School. He felt a twisted smile crept up his face. No matter how elite this school was, it still can be broken in by bunch of recently graduated kids. Guess that's what money was used for by rich brats like them.

There was a crackle from his earphone and came a girl voice, half shouting. He sighed and immediately took off the earphone and stuffed it into his pocket. By then he had reached the front gate of the high school building. It was locked, so that means the other kids enter the school through another entrance. It took him only a minute to find the hidden gate that led to the back garden.

The song he was tracking for filled the silent air, resounding over and over in his head. He had to get there quicker, but there were roots and trees standing in his way. His heart was filled with anxiety when the song sounded even louder and—

It stopped.
It was so sudden that he unconsciously stopped in his track as well. But then he quickly realized the horror of losing this one chance and pushed his way through the garden. It seems like forever, but finally his feet felt the hard pavement that covered the entire parking lot.

To be fair, the place was lovely, even lovelier in the night. The faint moonlight shone on the waterfall and several lights were being placed in a strategic place, lighting the parking lot with a soft blue colors. The white grand piano seemed out of place among this eerily beautiful scenery. The first thing he saw when he was finally out of the 'forest' was the piano, and the fact that nobody was there to play it. He felt his anger almost burst out, but he controlled himself and just sighed. There might be someone left in the building, so he made his way back and put on his earphone and connected it to its microphone.

It was connected and the girl on the other side of the line was still speaking—now in rage—but he cut her shortly, "I lost the song."
"You what? Do you know how rare it is these days to find a musical mag—"
"Stop yelling. We'll talk when I get back," he took off his earphone once more and stuffed it into his pocket again. He looked back one more time, lingering for a while before walking away.

.-_.

That was a year ago. Now, Erry was a sophomore in Rousseau and Ace got accepted in Royal College of Art in London. Most of her brother's friend stayed in America, including Ash. Erry still met him sometimes because he worked part-time in her favorite bar. Nothing changed for Erry despite the loneliness she sometimes felt when she missed her brother.

This was before she met Nero.

The first time she heard about Nero was when her best friend, Mina, talk about it in the girls' restroom. "Hey, did you hear? There's a new kid in our school."
It was in the middle of a semester. "This time of year? Guy or girl?"
"It's a guy, and people said he's handsome. But I heard he used to be a girl."
Erry froze at the last sentence. "A… girl?"
"Yeah, gross, right?" Mina rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue in disgust. Erry attempted a smile but it looked more like an awkward sneer.

And since then more weird rumors were going around about this Nero guy. There was one about how his father came from a long line of mafia and his 8th birthday present was a revolver. But another rumor said that he's an illegal child from Prince of Denmark and he went to America because he was banished from the royal family. The craziest one was probably the one that said he killed his neighbor's cat because the cat stepped on his garden.

There were other rumors, but they're pretty normal. Like the one that said he got great grades in his earlier school. Even the one that said he had more than 20 exes seems more plausible than any of other rumors. Weirdly enough, neither Erry nor Mina had seen this Nero guy in person, despite all the party they've attended and all the class they've taken.

The funny thing was, both of them thought the first time they met was when Nero accidentally bump Erry's car about 6 months after he became a new student.

.-_.

A year ago, after the post-graduation party

Erry woke up with a massive headache and pain all over her body. At first her mind went blank, and then the memory of her playing a piano came across her mind, and it took her some more minutes to realize that she wasn't sleeping in her room. The sunlight was shining through the dirty window of the pub directly to her face. She cringed in annoyance and covered her eyes with her hands.

She tried to sit up, but her head was hurting too bad that even a little movement made her wanted to scream. She decided to keep lying down on the pub's couch until her head got better. After roughly 15 minutes, she heard footsteps coming toward her.

Someone gave her forearm a soft nudge. She twisted her head slightly and opened her eyes. It was Felix, the pub's owner. He grinned sympathetically at her, "Bad hangover?" he asked softly. Erry tried to speak, but all that came out was a grunt. He handed her a glass of red liquid, "Come on, drink this."

He helped her sat up and ignored her grunt of pain. After some minutes, she finally gained the ability to speak again, although not very clear, "What's that?" she asked with hoarse voice. Felix grinned, "Bloody Mary."
"It won't cure my hangover," she scoffed. Felix shrugged, "Hey, it would make it more bearable. Just drink it, okay?"

She held the glass with both hands. After some sips, she looked around the empty pub. "Where's Ace?"
"Out, getting back your car if I'm not mistaken."
"Oh," Erry set the glass down and rest her head on the table. "I had a weird dream last night."
Felix glanced at her, "You sure it's a dream?"
"Yeah… it sure feels like it."
He walked over to a table next to hers and wiped it with a cloth in his hand, "What's it about?"
"I was playing a piano. The piano was outside, and it was beautiful. And then I saw a guy," she drank a little more of her Bloody Mary. Felix grinned, "What kind of guy?"
"The handsome kind. You know, perfect hair, dreamy eyes, the one that only exist in dreams."

He rolled his eyes at her statement, "So… piano, huh? When was the last time you actually play it?"
"I don't know," she said softly, "but it certainly has been a long time ago."

.-_.

He checked his phone and there were 8 messages from the same number. Her number. He sighed and deleted all of it simultaneously with a deadpan face.

He felt a soft tap on his shoulder. His cousin with his striking ginger hair and freckles all over his face grinned at him a little half-heartedly, "You're going now?"
"Yeah," he walked past him to his black Volkswagen. "Oh, Ren, by the way, thanks for lending me clothes."
"No problem, I owe you one for picking me up last night when I was really wasted," said Ren with a grin. He gave him a curt smile, but then remembered something, "Speaking of that… I kinda met someone last night…"
"What? Who?"
"No idea. She was drunk and she bumped into me, but she was beautiful."
Ren wrinkled his forehead, "Everyone were drunk that night and half of them are beautiful. You gotta be more specific."
"Um, I don't know… brunette, short messy hair, hazel eyes?"
Ren's face suddenly turned flat, "That sounded like Ace's little brother," he mumbled.
"What did you said?"
"Oh, nothing," Ren shrugged and gave him a forced laughter, "I can't remember anyone like that. Sorry."
"Yeah, no problem. It's not like I'm hoping to see her again anyway."

He entered the car and rolled down the window, "Thanks again for this week, Ren."
"You are welcome anytime, Nero. Have a safe trip."