'Welcome to Kinoshiki Academy, home to the elite of the elite. Limousines pull up before the gates, high class students stepping out to greet a day of learning. Or, at least that's what they want the teachers to think. They greet their friends in enthusiastic tones, running around as if it was their own backyard.'
Hirano Sayuki was mere seconds away from sending her laptop on a one-way trip to the rubbish bin. As the student council president as well as literature club president, she was put in charge of writing a blurb for the school that would gain the attention of both parents and students. She had accepted the task with bright eyes and the willingness to work, but actually completing it was proving to be more difficult. Even her ice coffee wasn't helping, and usually it was her savior in times like these.
The problem was that most students would care about the friendly environment, being able to socialize to their heart's content. Kinoshiki was pretty lax on its rules compared to other schools, after all, which worked quite well for those with friends everywhere. Sayuki, however, was not one of those people, finding socializing to be not only difficult but completely and utterly unnecessary. She was here to make a name for herself in school, testing the waters in a way before entering the real world. She made acquaintances and connections, but that was where the interaction stopped. Focusing on her studies was the best course of action, and distractions would be unwelcome.
That was why she had to keep herself from groaning when the door to the deserted student council room slid open, revealing her homeroom teacher. Wiping the exasperated look off her face, she turned around and plastered a soft smile there instead. "Yes, Iwasaki-Sensei?"
Iwasaki was known as the 'Old Uncle' of the faculty, dubbed as such by the students. He was one of the oldest as well as one of the nicest. He cared for his students as if they were his own children, even those the other teachers had given up on. Sayuki had always seen him as one of her favourites.
"Hirano, how would you like to participate in a social experiment of sorts?"
Maybe she would have to rethink that.
Her forehead creased as she eyed the stack of papers in Iwasaki's hands. "What do you mean by that, Sensei?" What she really wanted to say was, "Do you want to get punched in the face, Sensei?"
Sensing her obvious unease, Iwasaki laughed nervously before sitting down in front of her. "The teachers have decided that since the amount of bullying has increased recently, we wanted to gather a bunch of students from various corners of the school and sort of stick them together, so to speak. We want you to lead them."
As soon as she heard the word 'lead' she knew she was a goner. Iwasaki knew she wouldn't be able to resist the ability to boss people around until she dropped. Then again, this was a social experiment. It wasn't like a science project where everything was essentially predictable. She narrowed her eyes.
"Will I be getting extra credit?" she asked, determined to get something out of this.
Iwasaki grinned, teeth whiter than most people his age. "Naturally, Hirano. I know you wouldn't do this without a little motivation." He placed a sheet of paper from his stack in front of her. "These are the people you'll have to hang out with on a daily basis. They're all in our class, so you should at least know them by name. You'll be meeting on the roof tomorrow before the morning bell so you can get to know each other a bit. Does that sound good?"
Instead of answering him, Sayuki read the list in front of her, blue eyes darting down the page.
She had definitely heard of them, alright. Seen most of them, in fact. Akita Hayate was incredibly popular among the student body, his ability to play basketball astounding. He had a way with the ladies, apparently, but Sayuki had learned never to believe a rumour. He definitely wasn't helping things with the way he constantly flirted with the girls in the group he hung out with in homeroom, but it appeared that he was only joking. He had always been polite with her, or at least as polite as he could get, and seemed to respect her. Hopefully that would continue.
Endo Daichi was a mysterious case. Everyone had expected him to take after his parents who were both in show business, but while he showed somewhat of an interest, he didn't follow up on it. In fact, he didn't follow up on anything. Most of the time Sayuki watched him sit in the corner alone, staring off into space instead of writing down notes on their lesson. It was a pet peeve of mine when people just sat there, especially when they were never called out on it. Maybe if he put in some effort those daydreams would be more than just dreams.
She didn't know much about Izumi Takashi, and she highly doubted that anyone did. He was always sitting at his desk twenty-four seven, never moving to socialize or talk to people, just staring at the wall. He was broody. Intelligent, yes, but incredibly broody. She didn't think she had heard him say more than two or three words to her, and even then they were just pleasantries like 'thanks' or 'you're welcome' whenever she or he did something nice for the other in class. Opening up his outer shell would be difficult, to say the least, but she was ready to take on that challenge.
Kaneko Arisa. Dear Lord, Kaneko Arisa. She was a handful, constantly getting in trouble for not being able to keep her mouth shut. Hyperactive didn't even begin to cover what she was like. It was as if she was a five year old, clinging to people's legs and constantly whining whenever the teacher set them important tasks. She was a personal pain in the neck for Sayuki who was often asked by the teacher to calm her down as the student representative, but all efforts were futile. A pounding headache was all that came after interactions with her.
No one in the class really knew what Koizumi Rina thought about on a daily basis. She said even less than Izumi, and many people wondered if she could speak at all. She blended in very well when people weren't talking about her, and the teachers had learned not to call on her because she wouldn't say anything. Sayuki never bothered with her, personally. She didn't get in her way, she didn't disrupt class, and she was quite productive, so that was all that really mattered to her. Now that she had to socialize with her, she knew she would have to go in with a plan.
Out of everyone on the list (excluding herself), Sayuki found Saito Natsuki to be the most normal. She was bright eyed and cheerful, but not the way Kaneko was. She was incredibly grounded and realistic, and while Sayuki didn't know much about her, she had been told by others in passing conversation that she was quite the prankster at times. Maybe she would be able to put her creative ideas into a better area of expertise during this experiment. No, she would. Sayuki would make sure of that.
The only one Sayuki hadn't even seen was Takeuchi Etsuya. He had appeared in class on the first day of their second year and hadn't shown up since. It was those people she hated the most - liars, ditchers, doggers, skippers, people who didn't put effort into their studies and then expected everyone to be alright with it. She highly doubted he would even show up for this task. For all she knew he could be goofing around at the shopping centre or playing computer games at home. Whatever it was, she knew she wouldn't like it. He was her enemy before she even met him.
She looked back up at Iwasaki, her expression hard. "I better receive a lot of extra credit for this."
The following morning, Sayuki had walked to school. Her aunt offered to ring up the limousine chauffeur, but she had declined. She didn't like to bother the poor man this early in the morning, knowing he had to drive people around for the company. Besides, the school wasn't too far away and the fresh air would do her some good. It would help her think of how she was going to combat this socializing issue. After speaking to her cousin (also a student at Kinoshiki), he had given her some advice on how to deal with Akita since they were on the same sport teams. This was after he had laughed at her for having to socialize, knowing what she was like, calling her a stick-in-the-mud.
"Stick-in-the-mud my ass," she muttered as she entered the school gates, literally bumping into someone on the way. "Oh, sorry!"
The person she had bumped into was one of the people she wasn't expecting to see this early: Koizumi Rina. The girl's black bangs hung down over one of her eyes, which were wide from the surprise. She didn't say anything, squeaking sounds coming out of her mouth as she froze in place.
"Uh, morning?" she said, mentally cursing herself for sounding uncertain. She despised sounding uncertain. "Sorry, Koizumi-san. We have to be at the roof soon, so do you want to go now?"
A few uneasy seconds passed by before the dark haired girl choked out, "S-Sure."
The two walked into the building and up the stairs in silence, Sayuki sneaking glances at Koizumi whose head didn't move in her direction once. She thought of logical small talk she could start, but nothing came to mind. By the time they got to the roof, she was ready to bang her head against the wall. She never had a chance since two others were waiting for them when they arrived.
"Hi, hi, hello! School prez, how're you doin'?"
Sayuki winced. "Hello, Kaneko-san."
The short girl in front of her beamed, her thin, orange pigtails bouncing as she bounced backwards. "Nope, nope, nope! Call me Arisa!"
She could practically feel the 'happy' rolling off this girl in waves. "A-Alright, Arisa."
The other person there was Saito and Sayuki felt herself sigh in relief. Finally, someone normal. Or at least sort of normal. She was leaning against the railing, her long black hair half-up and half-down, the latter flying between the railing bars. She flashed the two newcomers a peace sign and walked towards them.
"You guys getting extra credit too?" she asked, hands on her hips.
Sayuki groaned. "Yeah. Iwasaki knows how to tempt me."
Saito laughed and said, "That's our prez."
Before Sayuki could complain more about their predicament, the door burst open once again and the four missing students, the boys, moved onto the roof. They contrasted quite a bit against each other, at least in Sayuki's opinion since she had never once seen them all together, even in class. Akita sauntered through first, an aura of confidence around him. Izumi looked as if he was staring into a public washroom toilet bowl and Endo almost tripped over his own two feet since he was, once again, staring into space. Sayuki's gaze lingered on the last boy who was wearing a scowl with his hands in his pockets. Takeuchi Etsuya.
She already didn't like him.
"Yo!" Akita waved with one hand and held up a peace sign with the other. "Akita Hayate, but you can just call me Hayate if you want. We have to get as close as possible, I guess."
"Call me Daichi," Endo offered before staring up at the sky and zoning out of the conversation.
"Izumi Takashi," was all Izumi said before Arisa was up in his face.
She pouted and hit both of his shoulders with her tiny fists. "No! I want to call you Takashi! Izumi's my grama's name."
Izumi was adamant. "No."
"Call me Arisa! A-ri-sa!"
Saito was quick to jump between them. "How about this. We all call each other by out first names and leave it at that, okay?"
A murmur of agreement broke out among them all, even though Sayuki was sure most of them were skeptical. She bloody well knew she was.
As the group fell into silence, Sayuki remembered Iwasaki saying the teachers thought she should be the leader. In her mind, that meant that she would need to take charge right here and right now. Her hand curled into a fist as she gathered the determination. She would receive the biggest splurge of extra credit anyone had ever seen!
"Alright! I think we should at least get to know each other a little bit, so how about we say our name formally and say a few things about ourselves," she said, not waiting for a response as she continued. "I'm Hirano Sayuki, I'm the student council president as well as the class representative and literature club president, I live with my uncle, aunt and cousins, and in the future I want to be an author."
Arisa had hardly let her finish speaking before she started. "I'm Kaneko Arisa, but please just call me Arisa, and I live with my boring-snoring parents and little brother. I love candy and people and candy and games and candy and pretty things. Oh, and candy! When I'm older, I want to be a, um, I don't exactly know what I want to be."
Daichi zoned back in, leaning against the railing as Natsuki had been earlier. "I'm Endo Daichi, my parents are in show business so most of the time I live on my own in our manor, and I want to be someone in show business. I'm not sure exactly which career, possibly a critic?" He began musing the possibilities and that was when Sayuki knew they had lost him to his daydreams.
Natsuki smiled. "I'm Saito Natsuki, I play pranks all the time, I live with my older sister, and I guess in the future I want to be a television show host. A funny one."
"U-Um." Everyone eyes turned to Rina, who was attempting to hide behind her hair. "I'm Koizumi R-Rina. I love to draw, I live with my older brothers since my parents travel for their profession, and I w-want to be an illustrator after attending university." Her face was beet red now, but she was reassured by Hayate's hand on her shoulder as he diverted the attention from her to him.
"I'm Akita Hayate, captain of the basketball team! I live on my own and when I'm older I want to be a professional basketball player. I mean, I love the sport and it gets all the ladies." Sayuki rolled her eyes as he winked.
Takashi sat on the ground, apparently tired of standing around. "Izumi Takashi, like I said. Live with my parents, heir to their company." Short and simple. Sayuki liked that.
Everyone turned to Etsuya, who was slumped against the wall not meeting their eyes. "What? I don't have to listen to the bitchy ginger over there." He looked directly at Sayuki, who could have sworn she could literally see red.
Natsuki laughed nervously. "You really haven't been in class too much, have you? Everyone knows you don't go against Prez Hirano unless you have a death wish. Even the teachers. Iwasaki had to bribe her into doing this."
Etsuya looked up, his eyes expressing interest at the last statement, but it left as he sighed and said, "Takeuchi Etsuya, I live with my mother and younger siblings, and I'm not sure what I want to be when I leave school, but I'm pretty sure I won't be going to university."
Sayuki had to bite back her tongue so she didn't say, "Not at this rate you won't," but she didn't want to jeopardize her extra credit. Instead, she decided to focus on the future. Despite being the leader, she had no idea how to force people to be social. She knew how to get them to work or do things for the school's sake, and she had figured this wouldn't be too different, but she had completely underestimated the situation. With this many different people with nothing in common but the school they attended (or, in Etsuya's case, didn't attend), this was going to be difficult.
"How am I going to explain this experiment thing to my friends, thought?" Hayate asked. "I mean, no offense to you guys, but I have my own friends. Kind of."
Natsuki raised an eyebrow. "Kind of?"
"Yeah. Kind of."
Sayuki knew Natsuki wasn't satisfied with that answer, but she didn't say anything else. The group fell into silence again as Sayuki's mind started searching for an answer of what to do next. She clicked her fingers and she could have sworn a light bulb flickered on over her head. "Hey, how about we do something together! Nothing too inconvenient, I mean, I have studying to do on the weekend, but is anyone doing anything of note we can all attend?"
Hayate looked at her incredulously. "Studying on the weekend? Dude. I have a basketball game on Friday night, though."
Arisa jumped cartwheeled so fast all Sayuki saw was a blur. "Yes, yes, yes! Arisa can be a cheerleader!" She began moving her arms around frantically. "Go, go, Kinoshiki, go, go!"
The rest of her cheer was drowned out by the school bell, and Sayuki wasn't sure whether it was the cheer, the bell, or the rest of the students looking at them as they entered class together that gave her the pounding headache that stayed with her for the rest of the day.