I shifted nervously in front of the administrative desk as she waited for the student tour guide to show up. Swarms of teens passed by thankfully not noticing her "the new girl." Maybe if it were everyone's first day then maybe they would have but school started in August and it was January now.

"Hi, I'm Alex your student tour guide," A girl said suddenly, snapping me from my reverie. She was shorter than me, with golden brown hair and pretty hazel eyes. She looked slightly foreign. Maybe Russian. She was wearing black skinny jeans, black boots, and a purple shirt. Her arm had multicolored bands and it was outstretched towards me.

I shook her hand politely. "I'm Carter nice to meet you."

"You're a freshman right?" She asked as she lead me through the halls which were decorated with artwork by kids in the visual arts department. I nod in confirmation. I always did look younger than I actually was. My hair was dark brown almost black and I had matching chocolate brown eyes. I only hoped that my plain blue jeans and green shirt didn't make me look younger. It was way more toned down than my usual attire but I really didn't want to be written off as the stereotypical "Goth" kid. For the record I'm not Goth, people at my old school only assumed that because I wasn't a walking highlighter I must have been emotionally disturbed.

"Great, then our lockers are in the same area. What's your locker number?" She asked as we turned a corridor. The walls were all exposed brick and metal. I hastily leafed through the papers the young secretary gave me all while trying to keep up with her decidedly fast strides.

"307," I said and she nodded letting me know she's heard.

"Good I'm 311." The bell sounds and what remaining students are lingering in the hall move quickly to their first period classes. Alex doesn't speed up or slow down, not minding the bell at all.

"Shouldn't we be getting to class?" At my old school teachers were on us like hawks to get to class on time as if the earth would implode if we missed a single minute of the ranting of an overworked and underpaid government employee that only teach us what the state thinks is useful for us to know.

"Nah," She said decidedly and grinned knowingly at my confused expression. "When you're a guide you get a free pass to show the newbie around."

I nodded dumbly an allowed her to lead me everywhere from the bathrooms to the library. She also clued me in on the nicest teachers and which water fountains are the coldest. She warned me about Mr. Moore's hard grading and Dr. Nelson's eccentric style of teaching that often included leaving school to explore. When she was done showing me around we went to this big open lawn that seemed to be in the middle of campus. They called it the green space.

"So how does the food chain work?" The grass was soft but pretty odd. It was a large oval right in front of the musical theatre department. The rest of NOCCA was concrete with trees planted along courtyards.

"Well NOCCA isn't really a typical high school. We don't have sports teams so we don't have cheerleaders or jocks. We don't even have a band, at least not in a traditional sense. We don't really care about popularity anyway since we only have freshmen and sophomores."

"How is that possible?" I asked.

"NOCCA used to only be a half-day program for students to come after school but it's only in its second year of being a full day high school and then some. We're here from 8:30 to 6:30 everyday except on Friday's, then we get out a 3:45."

I stared at her slack-jawed. I knew this place was an arts school offering basically everything from dance to culinary arts to photography but still! Could such a high school really exist? Could there really be a high school where popularity doesn't matter? Where jocks and cheerleaders aren't at the top of the food chain? Where freshmen like me actually have a chance? I decided then and there that I liked this school. Before I could say anything the bell rang. Alex began packing up her things.

"It's ten, every day the freshmen and juniors have a 45 minute free period," She explained. I checked my schedule and sure enough it was on there.

"So where can we go?" I asked as we take to the halls. The school was huge and I loathed the idea of having to navigate through them myself the next day.

"Well basically everywhere except off campus. Come on I'll show you to the courtyard and introduce you to my friends."

We weaved our way through the building. Finally we walked to the courtyard. It's a big open space. There were marble benches and a few actual picnic tables. A large group of kids were sitting on the stairs that overlooked it. Some kids had notepads and others had cameras around their necks. There were even some with MacBooks and kindles. Several kids from different groups said hi to Alex along the way.

She led me to the stairs. I groaned. I didn't like big crowds.

The first person I noticed was a girl. Her hair was neon red. She was wearing black skinny jeans and a Black Veil Brides T-shirt and black converse. She definitely had the palest skin I've ever seen. She also has large thick-rimmed Ray Bean glasses.

"Hi I'm Clara," She introduced herself in a smoky voice with a nod from her position. She was eating what appeared to be Chinese take-out out of a carton.

"Where's Taylor?" Erica asked as we made ourselves comfortable at the stairs bext to her. Taylor seemed like such a common name to me.

"Over there," Clara said and nodded to where a bunch of kids had put a bunch of tables together. They all had skateboards and were attempting tricks. I tried to make out which one could fit into their group but it honestly could be anyone. This group definitely aren't judgmental on who they hung out with. For some reason, that makes me feel better.

"Hey Gorgeous!" Clara yelled to the group of skateboarders. A few of them looked up but only one of them waved bye to the group and left.

Taylor approached the table with an air of coolness about her. She was wearing dark skinny jeans, black converse and a graphic tee that said "Vote Sheldon Cooper for president" a clear big bang theory reference. A black beany was over her sleek black hair. Despite the heat, a red and black striped jacket was tied around her waist and she had a skateboard in hand.

"What's up people?" She asked then turned to me and suddenly I couldn't speak. She's beautiful, amazingly, wonderfully, beautiful.

Her eyes are amazing. They sparkle with something I can't place. She's the color of hot chocolate. Her eyes are brown but mixed with something else; maybe gray if that were possible. But there was also a coldness there, something darker.

Her lips were moving but I didn't hear anything besides my own heartbeat. Someone nudged me. She smiled. She had the most amazing smile, but it's more of a smirk, a knowing smirk filled with mirth. The darkness lessened from her eyes.

"I'm sorry, what?" I squeaked and hoped to God that I didn't blush. Clara looked at me strangely, almost in annoyance. I didn't know what to make of it so I chose to ignore it.

"I said hi, I'm Taylor. What's your name?" Taylor said patiently, sparkling eyes shimmering with amusement. Maybe if I were in her position, with a girl practically drooling over her I would find it amusing too.

"I'm Carter," I said finally and this time she smiles for real. I nodded inwardly. Yep I'm screwed.