Part I: Ren Oshiro
Ren Oshiro woke up like he did every morning, with his younger sister sleeping along side of him holding tightly to his waist. He was sixteen years old and his sister was eleven, and while it may not seem like it in moments like this, his sister was more mature than he was. In fact she was tested and declared a super genius, which made the family's prestige grow up in the community. His sister had become a local celebrity to the annoyance of Ren, and when the Oshiro family announced that she would be advancing her grade to High School level, all the surrounding high class schools started fighting for the chance to collect her. But to Ren, the girl sleeping next to him was still a little girl and was still very much a baby.
"Hey, wake up." Ren nudged her. "Yuu-chan… wake up!"
"I'm still sleepy." Yuu murmured groggily.
"We have to go to school, you lazy bum." Ren reminded her. "Get your butt up."
Yuu sat up and rubbed her eyes, looking very much her age. "School is boring. What does it matter anyway? I'm going to high school next term, so who cares?"
Ren didn't mind if she hated school, but he did mind that she kept camping out in his room. "Since you're going to be a high school student, maybe you should learn to sleep in your own room for once."
"I started off there-" Yuu yawned. "-but I got scared."
"Scared of what?"
"I don't like being alone." Yuu blinked heavily, obviously trying to wake up fully.
"Whatever, let's get some breakfast."
Ren watched her leave his room, then took a moment and looked in the mirror. His annoyed reflection stared back at him. Of all the things in his life he hated, it was the way he looked. The older he got the worst it became. He wasn't ugly. That might be a blessing. No, he was pretty. Not handsome... pretty. Due to a rare disorder called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, Ren looked very much like a girl. He was a male where it mattered, but because of the disorder, his chromosomes wouldn't respond to testosterone in the normal way, thus resulting in him looking outwardly female. The only thing that proved he was still a male was his genitals, and that wasn't something he liked showing people.
"Freak." He murmured at himself and pushed off the bed.
Why didn't he get his sister's brains while she got the attractive genes? His father was himself a very attractive man, and that was because he carried a very small part of the gene. In his case it only made him a bit softer, yet he still looked very much like a man.
Changing into his school uniform, Ren avoided doing anything to his hair as he left his room. The messier it was, the more he thought he looked more like a guy. He had tried shaving it in middle school, which turned out to be a bad idea. His face had no where to hide, and he just looked like a pretty girl who had a buzz cut. So sloppy was what he was going for now. Equally Ren usually got uniforms a size or two too big for him to hide his feminine body.
"Okamoto Girl's High School is arranging a meeting after school?"
Ren saw it was his sister talking. Somehow she had gotten ready quicker than he did and was already at the kitchen table. She was still young enough that she didn't care about hair and make-up. While she was asking about the possibility of having another High School interview, their mom was fixing Yuu's hair..
"That's right, darling. I want you to be on your best behavior."
Yuu ignored the reprimand. "But what about the school? Are they really an all girl's school?"
Okamoto Girl's High School, from what Ren knew, was some snobby private school in the west. It was pretty impressive that they would request a meeting so far away from their base. Apparently Yuu was more popular than he even realized.
"Yes, but don't get excited, Yuu-chan. We can't afford to send you there." Their mother told her.
"But why take the meeting?" Yuu pouted reaching for her Juice while her mother was placing a yellow ribbon in Yuu's hair.
"It's polite." She told her daughter. "Such a well-known school asking for an interview isn't something that happens every day. Like the others, they seem very interested in you."
Ren rolled his eyes. Yuu was the center of a war between a good number of High Schools but he knew she'd most likely just end up at his school. She still was too much of a baby to be on her own.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful, though?" Yuu spoke in a dreamy voice. "Me at Okamoto… I bet someplace like that would be a challenge for me."
"Any high school you go too will be a challenge." Ren told her drily. "Just because they are some snooty school doesn't mean they're any better. Just means they're stricter."
Their mother shook her head. "Don't listen to him. It is a big deal that they are interested. I'm just sorry that we can't afford the tuition and boarding costs."
"It's a boarding school for the most part." Their mother explained. "The schools pretty secluded in the country, so studies and school activities are all the students have to focus on. They're near a small town of course…"
Ren tuned her out. What was the point in getting Yuu excited when she couldn't go? He watched his mother finish up Yuu's hair, then start their lunches. The thought of lunch made him secretly dreading going to school. It would be another day of pure agony as all the guys in class picked on him. Some of the girls took pity on him, but most of them ignored him as they didn't want to get in the way of the insults being thrown around. And forget about getting a girlfriend. What girl would want to date someone that looked like another girl? The sad truth was that Ren secretly hoped Yuu would come to his high school so he could talk to someone. He would be a grade higher, but that didn't matter.
"Do I really have to finish out the year at my old school?" Yuu asked for the 500th time.
"Yes. It's only proper." Their mom answered equally for the 500th time. "And promise not to look down on the other kids."
"I don't." Yuu said, though Ren was pretty sure that his sister found it difficult to get along with people who couldn't keep up with her mentally.
After another lecture about treating people kindly, their mother sent them off. As usual, Ren walked Yuu as far as he could towards her school before breaking off to his own. She waved brightly at him as she headed off toward her destination. Bracing himself, he continued on his own as well. P.E. was the worst class, and naturally he had it first.
When he arrived, he quickly changed his shoes at the shoe locker and went to the gymnasium. He always made sure he was as early as possible so he could change with the least set of eyes watching him. He even hated his gym clothes. There was next to no hiding his curvy body in shorts and a t-shirt. It was a class he got picked on the most. As he walked out the locker room, an unseen object smacked into his head and he fell back first to the ground.
The gym floor was probably the worst place in the world for a student to find themselves sprawled out on. The surface was hard and cool, but compared to the humiliating points, stares, and laughter, the polished wooden floor was more desirable. But that's where Ren found himself, laying on his back his eyes unfocused on the rafters above him. The sounds of his classmate's laughter echoed throughout the gym, hurting more than his bruised behind. He sat himself up, coughing slightly.
"Poor Ren-chan, so weak she can't even catch a ball!" Akira Takashima laughed, making it perfectly clear that he had called Ren 'she' instead of 'he'.
"It's difficult to catch a ball when it's aimed at your face." Ren muttered low. He could never say that loud enough for Akira to hear. That would mean another beating.
"C'mon, get up. Or did you start your period?" Akira pulled Ren to his feet.
"Thanks." Ren murmured with as much distain as he could get away with.
"You're such a pussy." Akira commented then ran off to join his friends, who were all laughing like crazy. Ren felt his face burn with anger.
"You shouldn't pick on him, Takashima." A girl's voice came from the other side of the gym.
Ren glanced and saw it was from Risa Mizuhara, and gave a slight embarrassed sigh. It was common knowledge to everyone, except for Risa of course, that Akira had a crush on her. And it wasn't hard to see why. She was very pretty. As for why the girl would bother to stick up for Ren, that was easy to figure out. Risa was a classmate he had went to middle school with, so they somewhat knew each other that way. This meant that occasionally she tried to stick up for him. It was done with very good intentions, but when Risa did that sort of thing, it only made the target on Ren's back get bigger. Akira hated him for what little friendship he had with Risa and that was the main reason why he singled Ren out.
"I wasn't." Akira spoke in his innocent voice, defending himself feudally against Risa's rebuke. "I didn't know he wouldn't catch the ball. He fell over on his own, right Oshiro?"
Ren didn't say anything, but nodded, hoping that the whole incident would be over with and that Akira would be satisfied enough that he agreed with him. However, Risa wasn't buying it. She walked over to him, bent over and looked at his face. Risa was taller than him, another annoying trait from his Androgen disorder. Ren adverted his eyes as she examined him. Then she stood back up and turned to Akira.
"Go easy on him, okay." Risa ordered in a serious tone.
"I do. I just wasn't being careful, that's all. It was an accident." Akira smiled a goofy smile, trying to look charming. It was difficult for a chimpanzee to achieve that look.
Risa took one last glance back at Ren, then ran off to her friends. Ren made an effort not to watch his protector go, as he knew that either Akira would pounce on him or leave him alone. Thankfully the delinquent chose to pick on a fat kid with glasses next.
Before the painful P.E. class came to a close, Ren took the opportunity to retreat to the boys locker room to change into his uniform. He had hoped to beat Akira and his monkeys on changing out. He reached his locker and started to pull off his gym clothes as fast as possible. Before he could even take his shirt off the hanger, unfortunately Akira and his gang of three came in.
"Oh, what is that?" One of the boys squealed in a fake girlish scream.
"Looks like a girl to me." Another said. "This is the boys locker room, get out!"
"I don't know what you two are talking about." Akira joined them. "Aren't girls supposed to have breasts?"
Ren ignored them, even though he was burning red from anger, and quickly placed on his shirt, then reached for his trousers. A hand stopped Ren and took the trousers from his hands. Ren had no choice but to confront him now. "Give it back."
"Oh the Princess gave us an order?" Akira asked, then looked over Ren closer.
"What's she doing putting on a boys uniform?" Another said. "We better find her girl's uniform and throw this one away."
Ren reached out his hand in despair, knowing they were capable of doing it. "Don't do that!"
"It would be cruel to deny the Princess her clothes, right Nobu." Akira's eye twitched slightly. "Go on, give it to her. Anything so I don't have to watch her cry."
Nobu laughed and threw the trousers at Ren, who caught it with a slight fumble. His heart was beating so fast from the pure hatred of all the bullying. Akira and the guys just stood there and watched him, waiting for him to put it on. Ren, quietly did as he was expected. When he bent over to pull his trousers on, suddenly he felt a cold splash of ice water poured over his head. The boys laughed and Ren could hear their foot steps as they ran over to their own lockers.
Troubled, Ren pulled off his trousers again, and rung it out. He didn't know what to do. It would take a long time for his clothes to dry off, and he couldn't show up to homeroom in his gym clothes. Sighing slightly, he re-changed into his gym clothes and stuffed his wet uniform inside his school bag. Akira, half undressed, smirked at him. Ren considered going home, thinking it might be better than getting in trouble with the teacher for being out of uniform. Then again, he'd get in trouble with his Mom. Either way was bad.
"Risa's mine, you understand? I don't want to see you with her again."
"I didn't…." Ren started, but stopped himself. What was the point?
"I don't care that you used to know each other. I'll say it again, she's mine, so stay away from her. Don't talk to her, don't look at her… don't do anything with her!" Akira pointed, then pulled his blazer over his shirt.
"I won't." Ren quickly said through gritted teeth.
"You better not, or next time I beat that pretty little face in."
Ren backed out of the locker room, then gave a small jog out of the gym. Once on school grounds, he looked to the road and started to head in the direction of his house. This was just great, Akira had managed to kick him off the school grounds again. He often fantasized about beating the snot out of him. But Akira was known to beat up people twice his size.
The path home was along a long stretch of road, and since he was leaving early there was next to little traffic. Both sides of the road were covered with parked cars, street signs and walls surrounding houses, with the occasional break for random shops. The sky was grey and threatening.