Chapter 1: "Is it strange to feel like this is the beginning of a new chapter?"
It's been hours since I left home. Sitting inside the confines of this vehicle with only the company of the butler, Takeshi-jisan, and the sound of the rattling engine to accompany me, I feel a slight, bitter loneliness. But it's a feeling that I am familiar with.
I wonder how things will be at school? Until now, I always received private tutlage at home, and my parents never let me leave the house. so I have always felt curious about how normal people live their lives. Then again, this school is prestigious so I may still be far away from having my question answered.
I press my cheek against the window. Outside, the cityscape flits by. Each building rises higher than the last, far beyond the height of anything I've seen before. This would be the city, if I'm correct? I mean, I'm sure I've been to a few, but I must have been really young as my memory is hazy.
Looking closer, I can see many kinds of people walking down the lanes by the side of the roads. Smart-looking men with briefcases, mature women with cell phones held against their ears, children tossing cats up into the air... I wonder, is that just a regular occurrence in a normal person's life?
What is the world really like?
"Milady, we're almost at the destination. Please wait for a little while more," says Takeshi-jisan as he looks over his shoulder at me. "Should I send your luggage over to the dorm?"
I freeze. There's really one thing that stands in my way when it comes to communicating with people. Talking. It always feels like I can form a thousand words but just as they're about to leave my mouth, they disappear, leaving me a bumbling mess.
My fingers twitch as I struggle to make a response. It is one simple word but...
I don't know why I can't say it. Whether it is a girl my age or an adult, I can never form the words. There's a reason my parents always kept me away from formal gatherings.
With a gulp, I nod, a feeling of shame growing within me.
He closes his eyes with a worried sigh. "I fear for your wellbeing if you are left alone there. Please do make some friends."
Is it possible? Am I even capable of approaching anyone at all? Is there anyone who would willing get close to someone like me?
I really doubt all three...
But, this is how my year will be. I want to make it out alive. I have to. The goal is not to win, it's to survive. Alice Sekigahara will make it out alive by the time this semester ends.
The sneeze makes my head jerk and I'm forced to crack my eyes open. The dirt stains on the wall are the first things to greet me. My bones are aching all over, my muscles are cramping... I feel like shit. It's morning and I have never been a morning person. But I feel worse than I do every other day. And... Right. The holidays are over. Today's the start of a new semester. Curse my luck.
I kick my blanket away and roll off the bed.
Foot caught in the sheets, I fall flat onto my face. Yeah… that was a bad idea and I should have known better.
Rubbing the small bump forming on the back of my head, I stand up and wobble over to the window by the side of the room. The reflection's faint, but it's good enough to let me get a clear look at myself.
I look like crap. No surprise there. My hair's a mess and there are still bags under my eyes. Gah, I should wash my face. Maybe grab a comb and try out a hairstyle—wait, I don't know any good hairdos. Forget that then!
With a heavy breath, I open the window and let the morning air in. The sun is already up and the birds are tweeting. I'd scream at them to shut up, but I don't want people calling me a 'crazy bird-hater' along with the other thousands of labels they've slapped on me.
I turn around, facing the bland and boring room that was given to me. No wallpapers, no decoration, no colour, nothing. There's nothing to look at here. All I get is one bed, one study table and one closet, a standard that every student gets when they move into a dorm. Everything else to 'liven up' their room is up to them.
And me... I never did anything at all. The only books I have are the ones that I got from the school on the loan scheme. My closet... Well, it might as well be a breeding ground for insects seeing how much space I leave there since I don't have clothes to keep.
What a pain… But I guess that's how my pathetic existence goes. Oh, if only some cute girl could suddenly fall from the sky! It'd be grand if she's amnesiac too! She'd probably fall for me for no good reason! And then, after that, a bunch of other girls start moving into this dorm, all of which want my dick!
Tch. Get real.
Yawning, I slide the closet open, reaching out for my uniform. It's spring, so I grab the gakuran for I fear the horrors of spring fever. Well, not really. It just gets breezy these days and I'm not a fan of the cold. Leaving my room, washing my face, brushing my teeth, boring morning routines, I prepare myself for the grand challenge of not getting pissed off by the end of today.
Bag slung over my shoulder, I leave the dorm. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the weird girl with the cape and that perv in the tux. I usually try to avoid getting involved with them. They're weird.
Sayoko, the warden of this dorm, calls out to me. "Oh, Reiji-kun? Leaving already?" I turn to find her sitting by the kitchen counter, twirling her straight, raven hair. "Would you like to have some breakfast before you go off?"
Not a word of goodbye. Not even a shred of acknowledgement. I simply walk out the doors and into the street. A spring breeze blows by, slapping cherry blossom petals in my face. Goddammit, I just woke up ten minutes ago and the world is already trying to push my buttons!
After about five minutes, I reach the school gates. Here I am... My personal hell. I pace forward into the quadrilateral courtyard that had become the Mecca for the students that I've been forced to put up with. Here lie the activists that dream of their beloved soap operas to come into reality.
"Rara-san, please try my cooking!"
"Oh no, I hope Blabla-chan isn't mad at me!" "Uguu, I hope senpai notices me!"
"Onii-chan no baka!"
It makes me sick to the back of my teeth.
Yet, despite all that, despite having all the shitty time to be a bunch of goofballs among one another, I can never be in those ranks. I know how they feel about me. They don't want me here. Nobody ever does.
"Eh? Is that Reiji?"
"Huh? I thought he dropped out?"
"I heard he killed himself!"
"So is this a zombie?"
Those girls talk so loudly, I wonder if they're intentionally doing it to piss me off. Bitches.
Yeah. For four years, I've been met with glares and insults. It's a damn known fact that no one in this school wants me to be near them. I could just transfer but... I don't exactly have anywhere else to go. So I've had to put up with all of them. You could say I'm some sort of pariah.
But who needs them? I'm not sad in the slightest. I don't need to be friends with these people. I don't need anyone. Everyone I see are just characters I put up with until the day I die. If they died in a fire, I wouldn't give a shit. Hell, I'd probably dance on their graves.
Are you calling me a sociopath? Well, it's hard not to be bitter when you get flack for doing nothing. I'm just walking down a courtyard, past the statue of the founder of the school. That's certainly worth conniving stares. Oh, the horror! I probably walked over a guy to death!
But what to do? This is my life. My five year survival. And when this year ends, I'll finally be free from all of these people. After that... I never plan too far. I'm not a man of ambition, after all.
Gekkoukan... My new life begins here. Will I be alright? Will the overwhelming pressure shatter me?
As I step out of the car, I can hear the loud chatters of the students from the courtyard. Clad in uniform, everyone I see past these gates are around my age. All of them are talking to each other with smiles on their faces... Will I be able to do the same?
"Milady." Takeshi-jisan speaks up as he slides down the window of the car. "Take care. Do remember to write back every now and again. We will miss you."
"Mmm." I nod at him.
With a bag in hand, I gather all my courage and step past those gates. My teeth are jittering. I've never been in such a large crowd before. What if something bad happens? What if I get robbed? What if someone appears before me and stabs me? What if terrorists attack?
…Maybe I'm overreacting a little.
As I walk past everyone, I feel uncomfortable. No one is looking at me, I'm sure of that, but I can feel chills running up my spine despite that. Maybe someone is looking at me from behind? Plotting a scheme to—
I take a deep breath. It's just a school, Alice. No one is going to kill you. But shifting my gaze around, looking at the many different faces, I only feel fear intensifying within me. Is this how a school usually is? So crowded? I'll need at least a hundred hands to count the number of people I can see.
I take a few steps up into the school's main entrance and find myself in a large hallway. Students crowd by the side even here, chatting so much that I can't comprehend their collective voices...
Nervously reaching into my bag, I pull out my student handbook. I flip it open, looking at my ID slid into a slot and check the class I've been registered to for this year.
... Class 12-B.
I approach the stairs in front of me, trying to get to the next floor as soon as possible. It's a good thing the student handbook has a map of the school detailed on it.
To my dismay, at the second floor, it's just as crowded as everywhere else. It feels like a horror movie. No matter where you run, they'll be there. Claws ready and talons sharp, the students will pounce on you and leave nothing behind!
…Am I crazy?
Being in the presence of so many people is horrifying me. I need to get to class. At least it won't be as crowded there, right?
With the deepest breath I can manage, I dash down the hallway—which maybe it wasn't such a good idea; I'm getting far more attention than before. I've never much of an athlete, so it takes me just ten seconds to start running out of breath and begin panting.
A black-haired boy walks down the hall opposite me and... he's staring out the window without paying attention to the world around him at all! I try to slow down my pace, but before I know it—
My forehead stings where it collided with his chin... I slowly open my eyes again and I'm... on top of him. Our faces are mere inches apart, his bloodshot eyes glaring into mine with irritation. Oh gosh, have I made an enemy in the first few minutes of my school life? He looks ready to kill me! Is he going to strangle me?!
"What the hell is your problem?" he demands with a growl.
I gulp. Every set of eyes in the hallway is staring down upon us. I try to ignore them, but I only grow stiff. Chills run up my spine and I can see my fingers shivering. What am I supposed to do in these kinds of situations?
He barks, "Will you get off me already?!"
I feel stupid. I proceed to roll to the side onto the floor and crawl back on my feet. Ignoring everyone looking at me, I pick up the bag I dropped when we crashed and hold it against my chest. For just a second, I exchange glances with the boy.
The words simply won't come out. Not even a simple apology. I end up bowing just slightly before rushing off.
Goodness. What a way to start my school life. But, something inside me tells me that there's more to look forward to. Is it strange to feel like this is the beginning of a new chapter?
What a weirdo that girl was. Bah, I should've paid more attention. Too busy being emo. But she was the one who was running down a hallway! Who the hell does that this early in the morning? She isn't even late!
She was a bit... I use this term in utter disgust, 'cute'. Round blue eyes, curly blonde hair and a rather bright face. Actually, she kind of looked foreign. Maybe she hailed all the way from America. Why America? Well, stereotypically, Americans girls are always blonde and always have blue eyes. Stereotyping, ho!
Resting my elbow on my desk, I stare out the window with my jaw within my palm. Isn't it great that I got the desk main characters in anime always get? The one furthest to the back, next to the window. Maybe it's because I'm a main character that I got this seat? Ha! Next thing I know, that girl I just crashed into is a transfer student to my class! Wait, I can add more clichés to this scenario, give me a second!
I've never believed in sappy romances to be real. I don't need to be part of one to be happy. I can be happy in thousands of other ways. But, I guess I wouldn't mind if all these clichés really did happen. Part of me wants to see her be a transfer student to my class. Y'know, to laugh at it.
The desk arrangements of this class are in pairs. As usual, everyone else has their place secured, and obviously they've left the one beside me empty.
"American-chan, take the seat next to Reiji-kun!"
"Hi Reiji-kun! I'm your childhood friend who you forgot about!"
What an utterly detestable cliché. Yet...
Ah, shut up! It's not like I want it to happen anyway! Honest!
The class is seated, the school bell chimes and the door slides open as the teacher marches in. School is back in session... Hip hip hooray...
I start spacing out as the teacher begins homeroom.
Five minutes go by and she's still talking. As long as she doesn't force any of us to introduce ourselves, I'm fine.
Ten minutes tick by and yet... No transfer student. Isn't it sad, Reiji?
This is why you never rely on clichés. They never happen whether you want them to or not. Well, even if it did happen, I doubt it'd change anything. She'll probably end up hating me like frickin' everyone else on the planet. No surprises here.
Another semester... Another year. I just hope this ends quickly.
Succumbing to my pathetic fate, I reach into my bag to grab my notebook which I doodle on during my free time. Well, I consider anytime the teacher rambles to be 'free time' so it's...
Wait, my notebook isn't here. Uh, what? These aren't my books! I grab the student's handbook and flip it open to view the student ID slot and...
Son of a—
To Be Continued
AN: It's a rewrite! A fresh new start with a fresh new beginning! Those who enjoyed the previous version, worry not for this is pretty much the same thing, just executed differently!
... For the most part. You'll just have to see.
If you notice, the story is done in first person narration, however, it's done in two people's perspectives. Their narration and thoughts are very different, so I figured it'd be easy to figure out who's narrating what scene. I hope it is.
Updated every Saturday, let the new iteration of cracky romance begin!
Thank you for joining me on this journey!
Edited by Jax Creation. Go send her troll reviews for me!
Gakuran: A type of school uniform for boys. The top has a standing collar from top-to-bottom. They are usually black or navy blue. The second button from the top is usually given to the girl the wearer likes.
~Naming Conventions and Honorifics Explained~
(as explained in the Tanoshima Manga books)
(and as copy-pasted from Jax Creation's post-chapter references)
the order – given then family vs. family then given: This story follows the traditional Japanese convention of giving one's family name (surname) before one's given name. The only time when this will not apply is when a character has an English (or other non-Japanese) name. Typically, you'll find that they give the English version in the order of given name then family name, and the Japanese version in the reverse order. AN: Wait, so is Alice Sekigahara English or Japanese? Mind screw!
family name vs. given name: The way in which a name is used in conversation depends on the circumstances and the speaker's relationships with the listener and the bearer of the name. Typically, the family name is used, with given names largely restricted to informal situations and cases where the speaker is older than, superior to, or very familiar with the named individual.
-san: This is the most common honorific, and is equivalent to Mr., Miss, Ms., Mrs., etc. Used with people you are not very close with, and when being polite.
-han: Kansai-ben version of -san. Not used very much if the vowel sound of the last character ends with "i", "u" or "n".
-sama: This is one level higher than "-san". It is used to confer great respect.
-dono: This comes from the word "tono", which means "lord". It is an even higher level than "-sama" and confers utmost respect.
-kun: This suffix is used at the end of boys' names to express familiarity or endearment. It is also sometimes used by men among friends, or when addressing someone younger or of a lower station.
-chan: This is used to express endearment, mostly towards girls. It is also used for little boys, pets, and even among lovers. It gives a sense of childish cuteness.
-chin: An even more diminutive version of -chan. Most commonly used by young girls who are close friends.
-tan: A small child's mispronunciation of –chan. If used by an adult at all, unless speaking to a toddler or a child, the person is most likely being sarcastic, ironic or a poser KAWAII.
-tama, -chama: Similarly, these are baby-talk versions of -sama, with the exception of "obocchama" which is used to address the son of someone who is of higher social standing, roughly equivalent to "young master."
-pyon: A slang honorific, indicating that the speaker is being very cutesy/sweet/lovey-dovey with the person he is addressing.
-pi:A cutesy honorific for small pets.
-me: A derogatory honorific, used when you refer to people you're a) pissed at, b) deem despicable/inferior. Not as common in real life as anime and manga would have you believe, and it's usually used jokingly or sarcastically. Adding "-me" to your own name or a first person pronoun has a self-humbling effect.
-gozen: Indicates nobility; most commonly applied to women.
sempai/senpai: This suggests that the addressee is one's senior in a group of organisation. In this story, it is used by younger students to address their upperclassmen.
kouhei/kouhai: The opposite of "senpai", used to address underclassmen in school, or newcomers in the workplace.
sensei: Used for teachers, doctors, or masters of any profession or art.
shishou: Similar to -sensei, but limited to certain traditional Japanese arts and crafts, including martial arts. When used as a stand-alone word, it's usually translated as "master".
-hakase: Used when addressing an academic whose expertise is VERY high. Technically this means "Doctor", but in practice it's actually reserved for even higher ranks and is more or less equivalent to addressing someone as "Professor".
niisan/neesan: Literally refers to one's older brother or sister, respectively, but can also be used to refer to a relative within your generation that is older than you (i.e. an older cousin) or a slightly older friend that you consider to be like a brother or sister
jisan/basan: Literally refers to one's uncle or aunt respectively, but also used to refer to middle-aged adults with whom the speaker is already acquainted. Changing it to -jichan or -bachan is like saying Aunty.
-jiisan/-baasan: Literally refers to one's grandfather and grandmother, but also used to refer to much older adults with whom the speaker is already acquainted.
-bouzu: One level below -kun on the formality ladder. It's an affectionate masculine diminutive, how one might address a particularly young niece or nephew.
-[blank]: Usually forgotten in these lists but perhaps the most significant difference between Japanese and English. The lack of honorific means that the speaker has permission to address the person in a very intimate way. Usually only family, spouses, or very close friends have this kind of permission. Known as "yobisute", it can be gratifying when someone who has earned the intimacy starts to call someone's name without an honorific, but when that intimacy hasn't been earned, it can also be very insulting.