Sayuri Tatsumi hated Ugo, particular the Uga High School Girls Locker Room. It was there that Sayuri experienced torture that even the Taliban would have turned their nose up at. Sure, they were an organization of terrorists who's goal was to kill everyone who didn't agree with them, but they could not match the cruel minds of a High School girl. The Taliban just wanted you dead, while a group of the pretty girls in her homeroom, nicknamed the Beautiful Brigade, wanted to break her.
Currently, Sayuri found herself stuffed in her own locker. When one thought about being shoved into a locker, no one ever considers the standing time. She was forced to stand in one position for an extended period of time, and that's why locker prisons were so terrible. Her legs were already shaking and the pain of not being able to move them only just made it worse. Sayuri couldn't attempt to open the door as she was facing the back of the locker, unable to turnaround due to her being slightly overweight. To add insult to injury, the Beautiful Brigade waited for her to be in her underwear while changing before shoving her in the locker, so not only was she stuffed in a metal box, unable to escape, but she was freezing. If she had claustrophobia, it would be worse, but thankfully that wasn't one of her fears.
So there she stood, hating Ugo. She was originally from Tokyo, but recently her mother ago a long-term modeling contract in America, so Sayuri was dumped into her Uncle's house in the country. Her Mother often did this, leaving Sayuri with neighbors and such when she got a job, but this was different. Her mother would be gone for over a year. So as a result, Sayuri found herself in the small town's only High School hating her existence.
Suddenly the door behind her opened, and a pair of hands reached to pull her out. She scraped her arm in the process, but Sayuri didn't care. She was just happy to be out of that box. Her legs were giving out as her rescuer led her to the benches in the middle of the row lockers letting her sit down. It was one of the Beautiful Brigade, the tall tan one.
"I only just got away from the others." The girl explained. "Try and rest up."
"It's Tomaki." The girl corrected. "Miki Tomaki. Damn, you'd think you'd remember that by now."
"I'm not good with names."
"Whatever." Miki stood up and went to Sayuri's locker, retrieving her school uniform. "Better change now, while you can."
"Change?" Sayuri was looking at the clothes Miki was holding.
"Hey, dumbass, don't go around telling anyone about this." Miki pointed a finger at her. "Or next time I'll leave you in there."
"I won't!" Sayuri nodded quickly. And with that Miki tossed the clothes to her and left.
Sayuri watched the fake-blonde leave, then looked down at the clothes. She noticed that it wasn't her gym clothes, and realized that she must have been in the locker for a long time. But another question was coming to her. Every time the Beautiful Brigade did something to her, it was Miki who somehow tried to make up for it. She never got the impression that Miki particularly liked her or anything, so it was odd. Especially since Sayuri seemed to be the Beautiful Brigade's favorite target since she transferred in.
After her legs rested for a minute or so, Sayuri took Miki's advice and changed into her school uniform. This was a good idea as minutes after she had finished dressing the rest of the girls in her homeroom entered into the locker room, the Beautiful Brigade along with them. Miki didn't make eye contact, and it seemed the other girls in the group were busy pushing around other girls.
This rural town seemed to be a place of nicknames, and the Beautiful Brigade's targets were no exception. Generally they harassed the less attractive looking girls in the class, and because Sayuri a bit overweight, by default she was added among their members. The Beautiful Brigade called their victims, the Ugly Ducklings. Even though those girls didn't really ban together to be an official group, everyone referred to them as such.
Sayuri did what the other Ducklings did when a member of theirs were being harassed, she ignored it. At the moment Hitomi Hayasaka, the dumbest member of the Beautiful Brigade was picking on Duckling Airi Koyama, probably the ugliest one of the bunch. The other girls just pretended nothing was going on. Sayuri herself walked passed Airi to get out of the locker room and go to class. It wasn't lost on her the look of panic and anger that Airi gave her when she did this. But Sayuri didn't feel guilty. Airi did nothing to stop the Beautiful Brigade's leader from shoving her into the locker.
The rest of class was relatively short, as P.E. was at the end of the school day, and the only thing left was the afterclass homeroom announcements. Sayuri wasn't paying much attention to whatever Takayama-sensei was saying, as she was busy daydreaming about her old High School and her friends in Tokyo. She wasn't picked on very much there, and she actually hung out with a group of friends. They often played video games together.
"Tatsumi-san." A soft voice took Sayuri away from her thoughts of going online and chatting up the Tokyo group. On turning to her voice, Sayuri saw it was her, the leader of the Beautiful Brigade, her royal highness Emiko Muramoto.
The rest of the class called her Emiko-hime (or Princess Emiko) because she was the the prettiest girl in of all the First Year students in Ugo High School. It was because of this fact that the Beautiful Brigade formed around her. Sayuri didn't know if it was Emiko who started the reign of terror that befell on the Ugly Ducklings, but Emiko certainly didn't put a stop to it. As for herself, the girl preferred to pick on Sayuri.
Even if Emiko didn't pick on her, if they had a normal school relationship, things wouldn't have been very friendly among them. It wasn't because Emiko didn't live up to her beautiful reputation, or that she was probably the third best grades in the class, but Sayuri just didn't have time for those pretty-girl types. She never did in Tokyo and wasn't going to start once she moved to Ugo. As nice as Emiko was to everyone else, she seemed to give Sayuri a cold shoulder as well. Perhaps early on she suspected that Sayuri wasn't impressed with her, so she in turn didn't bother with the new girl. But of course their relationship escalated into what it have come to now.
"Miyamoto-san?" Sayuri voiced dryly, trying not to sound frightened. She was the only one in the class that hadn't taken to calling her Emiko-hime. Perhaps that annoyed the princess, but Sayuri was getting picked on anyway so it didn't matter.
Emiko wrinkled her nosed slightly as she pushed a desk closer to Sayuri's so that they formed one big table. "It's not Miyamoto, it's Muramoto." She corrected with what sounded like an almost annoyed tone to her voice.
"Sorry." Sayuri apologized with no feeling. "Why are you here?"
"It wasn't my idea if that's what you're asking." Emiko was holding up a paper. Sayuri wasn't sure what it was, but she could tell it was probably a group assignment. It was not lost on Emiko the disappointment that must have flooded Sayuri's face. "Look, I didn't ask Takayama-sensei to team me up with some stuck-up city girl, he did that on his own."
"I know you didn't." Sayuri said, trying to calm the girl down. She didn't want to be picked on anymore than she had too.
"You didn't have a partner and I was late to class this morning." Emiko further explained. "So we're stuck together."
"I get it…" Sayuri said, trying to keep the irritation from her voice.
Sayuri, as usual, had not even been paying attention to what the class was doing in the morning, so she didn't have a clue what they were being teamed up for. Takayama was the Homeroom teacher, so the assignment wasn't as forthcoming as it should be. Her face must have gave her away as Emiko groaned and leaned her body on the desk she laid out in front of them.
"We're supposed interview each other, write an article on details we got, then turn in the paper on Monday of next week. It's supposed to be detailed, so you better not slack off."
"What kind of Homeroom assignment is that?" Sayuri glared up at the top of the room. Takayama-sensei caught her eye then issued a big peace sign to them. Feeling slightly embarrassed at the immaturity level of her teacher, Sayuri turned back to Emiko.
"If your paper is bad, then Sensei will think I gave you bad information, so you better write a lot. I don't want my grade to go down because you don't care about school or anything." Emiko pressed on.
"Whatever, I'll do it, but homeroom isn't enough time to do all this, right?"
Emiko lowered her beautiful eyebrows at Sayuri, her cold eyes burning a hole into her for some reason. "I know that. We have to meet outside of class to do the bulk of this assignment. I'm here to schedule times that you're available."
Sayuka sat back in her seat and sighed loudly. This silly assignment, which she was sure wasn't something a school would normally hand out, was going to cut into what very little time she got on the internet with her real friends.
Emiko's already narrowed eyes seemed to pierce through her even more after the loud groan. "Am I that troublesome to you, almighty Tatsumi-sama?"
"I-I'm not mad at you." Sayuri quickly said, realizing she was unintentionally causing Emiko's temper to flare up. "I'm mad at this assignment."
"And what else can be so important to a new-comer to this town with no friends? Why would a snob like you hate to spend some time with a nice girl like me to do a school assignment?"
"I'm a snob? I don't have the whole school calling me Emiko-hime, do I?" Sayuri snapped before she could stop herself.
"Hey fat ass, if you had any brains you'd know nicknames are given to you, not made up by yourself. I can't help what others call me. And if they do call me that, so what, it's not like it affects you any." Emiko's face changed a shade pinker when she said this, and her voiced raised. She normally was a calm charming girl in front of others.
"W-Whatever, let's just forget about that okay…" Sayuri tried to do damage control before she ended up being thrown out the window.
Emiko gritted her teeth, her face getting redder. But what happened next surprised even Sayuri. Instead of getting more angry, her eyes started to water. She caught on that Sayuri noticed she turned away, standing up. "You're a complete ass. I hate you. I want nothing to do with you."
Sayuri opened her mouth to respond, but shut it. She fought back one time, and the princess couldn't handle it. She was starting to feel a small twinge of guilt, even though she felt Emiko was the one the started the insult throwing. She looked back up at her eyes and saw that Emiko's face was still red. She stood by her desk as if she were waiting for something. If it was an apology, Sayuri wasn't willing to provide it. She just got through being locked inside a locker, after all.
After a few moments Emiko sat back down and pulled out a piece of paper and started scribbling something down on it. When she was done, she pushed the paper on Sayuri's desk. "That's my email address. Send me your information for the assignment and I'll reply back with mine. That way you won't take any of my precious time."
With that the Princess stood up and walked away, neglecting to return the borrowed desk back to it's original place. Sayuri folded the paper and placed it into her pocket, then stood up to return the desk. When she returned to her seat he leaned lazily on the table and gave the back of Emiko's head a small stare. Her friends were crowded around her, giggling and chatting it up. Emiko was returning their conversation with a bright smile, but her eyes looked dull. She was still upset.
Why did her one comment upset the princess so? She didn't know. She went over and over in her mind what was said and still concluded that both of them were hostile towards each other, and it wasn't her fault that Emiko got so emotional over it.
When the final bell rang, Sayuri was more than happy that school was over. She could go home and escape Emiko, the Beautiful Brigade, and Ugo High School, and hide in the world of online gaming. At least there she could pretend to be someone else. Online she wasn't some fat ugly loser who got picked on, she was just another girl. As she was packing up, she tried to think of all the things she would do when she got online. Anything to keep her mind off of being shoved into a locker by Emiko, then having the princess make her guilty for calling her a name.
"Hey, be careful."
Sayuri glanced up, sure that the voice talking was addressed her. As Sayuri turned towards it, she was correct. It was Miki again. As suspected, if Miki was talking to her, the other members of the Beautiful Brigade was nowhere to be seen. "Hmm?"
"Your homeroom assignment. Emiko-hime asked Takayama-sensei to partner her up with you."
"What?" Sayuri now gave Miki her full attention. "She told me she didn't ask Sensei to be teamed up with me? She said she arrived late and got assigned to me because I hadn't picked anyone."
Miki shook her head. She obviously thought Sayuri was stupid for believing that. "Uh, well... the truth is she told him that since you are new here, and don't know many people yet, she'd like to be your partner since you wouldn't pick one for yourself."
Now fear built up in her and any guilt she might have felt about Emiko getting upset about her comment faded away. This just was another one of Emiko's plots to further pester her. Of course it was, why would it be anything different? "Damn it. I'm such an idiot."
"Sorry. I just thought I should warn you." Miki gave a shrug.
Sayuri's eyes shot across the room at Emiko's desk. She wasn't there, but her bookbag still was. Sayuri swore under her breath. She didn't want to stick around any longer and give Emiko more time to pick on her. So she stood up and as she did so Miki backed away to allow her to leave. And that's what Sayuri did. She turned away and left the class room as fast as she could without running. Then she tore out of the school building, keeping her eyes on the ground to avoid any unwanted eye contact from people.
"Damn it, why does she hate me so much?" Sayuri muttered to herself.