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Gorgeous Geek Chapter 8: A Natural Genius

Chapter 8: A Natural Genius

Where's Tiffy? asked Eunice, running at full speed over to Jennifer, who was admiring her new furry brown purse in the air. She's usually here before you, Jenny. Tiffy's sick, Eunie, said Jennifer, pressing her hand against her head as if she were down with a fever. She's down with a bad cold. It must be this time of season huh? asked Eunice with wide eyes. Exactly, said Jennifer, shaking her head and then, checking the loose strands of black hair. This is the worse time of the year- when the weather becomes extremely hot to make up for the upcoming colder, fall season. A couple of other people are sick as well, said Eunice, frowning. It's so sad, said Jennifer tearfully. But at least, Tiffy left me in charge today. We must collect a lot of data for her sake today, said Eunice, enthusiastic now. Agreed, said Jennifer, skipping closer to Eunice and throwing her arms around the girl. Where should we go to collect data then? Any good rumor lately? There's been so many, said Eunice, shrugging. Should we spread them all? That's what Tiffy would do, said Jennifer, beaming. Of course! By the way, said Eunice, flushing bright red now and glancing to the ground shyly. Since Tiffy is not here, I want to know something... I'm here for you Eunie! What do you need? Do you know where Kristian lives exactly? asked Eunice carefully, flushing further. Not really, said Jennifer, holding her hand against her chin and tapping a finger against her cheek. Tiffy probably doesn't know either. We have little to no data about Kristian's life outside of school. His family is a total mystery as well. There are times when I have reason to believe that he has no parents and that all those parent signatures were of his own doing. I haven't seen them at a parent conference or open house either. It makes sense, said Eunice, throwing herself down on the bottom of the stairs and staring up at the ceiling. How can his parents be so carefree about him getting detention at least three times a week? Then again, said Jennifer, brightening and pointing at the streets. If he has no parents, how can he afford a car? I know for sure he drives to school every day. That's right, said Eunice, bolting up. He looks well-fed as well. Maybe he lives with a parental guardian? Maybe, said Jennifer with a glint in her eyes. I really want to know now. Kristian doesn't like to talk about his personal life though, said Eunice, pouting. Tiffany doesn't like to dig up dirt about people's personal life either. It's better if we stay out of his business huh? asked Jennifer, reconsidering. But I'm so curious now! cried Eunice, hugging herself and bouncing up and down. I must know what Kristian's financial situation is! He's not living in the car is he? I hope not, said Jennifer, tearing up a lot. That'll be too cruel. No, said a voice to their side. Both Jennifer and Eunice turned their heads in unison at the sight of the giant Gary Lawrence. He lives in a house. Do you know where he lives Gary? asked Eunice, excitedly. Without throwing them a look backwards, Gary went on his way, scaring freshman along the hallway with his permanent, grumpy facial expression. Jennifer started crying at how cold Gary was while Eunice tried to calm her down by patting her back and reassuring her that Gary was like that. The only person he really spoke to was Cory and Kristian.

Is Gary covering for his leader? asked Jennifer out loud, rocking herself back and forth. Or is Kristian really living under a roof like the rest of us? Let's stalk him after school today, said Eunice, shaking from top to bottom. I... I... like Kristian... I want to know if he's all right... if he eats well and sleeps well... Every girl who ever had a crush on Kristian according to Tiffy, said Jennifer, creating broken hearts with her hands. Find themselves unable to love another boy. Do you really want to undergo such a fate Eunie? Kristian will never like me back, said Eunice softly. For better or for worse, said Jennifer with a soft smile at her friend. But because you are my best friend and I love you very much Eunie, I'll help you stalk him after school today since I can drive. Aw, Jenny, said Eunice, hugging Jennifer tightly. Thank you! I don't know why you like Kristian, said Jennifer slowly, drawing hearts on top of her purse. But because you do, Eunie, I want to make sure you'll be content with watching him from afar. Isn't that more romantic? Like what Tiffy is doing with Jin? Yeah, said Eunice with a grin. Exactly! You are the best Jenny! Best friends forever! ************************************** Good morning, Shiratori-sama, said Kristian the moment he fluttered his eyes opened due to the sunlight sneaking past his curtains. Another day eh? After throwing on some baggy jeans and a t-shirt, Kristian brushed his teeth and combed his hair. He took his time in the restroom because he could hear the footsteps along the hallway that easily belong to his cousin. There was no way he would allow Jinx to use the restroom that easily. When he finally left, Kristian threw her a cute smirk, which he received a curse on his life in return from his gloomy cousin. She had a book in her hand like always. Kristian didn't mind Jinx that much when he could make use of her seriousness. Hey Jinx! Kristian screamed her name from the kitchen, in which he heard no response from his cousin. Sighing, Kristian went up to the sink full of dishes and other kitchen equipment. Yesterday, Jinx was supposed to wash the dishes, but apparently she forgot. Either that, or she did this on purpose to torture him. Within minutes, he found himself in yellow, rubber gloves along with a wet, soapy sponge. Right when he started washing the spoons and forks, he jumped at the sound of someone entering the kitchen. However, he kept his eyes on the dirty forks. Right then, he knew someone was standing right next to him and he could easily guess who. Why do you wash the spoons first? asked Jinx in her condescending tone. Cause I feel like it, said Kristian grumpily, tossing his shorter cousin a glare. And someone who can't even do her duties correctly shouldn't be in any position to talk. I forgot, said Jinx, sitting down and covering her face with her book. Useless, said Kristian, scrubbing chopsticks now. I always wash the pots and pans first, said Jinx softly, adjusting the glasses on the bridge of her noise. You're weird. I'm not weird, weirdo, said Kristian in retort. Now, he was moving on to the cups. He was done with the spoons and chopsticks. You can tell someone's personality by the way they wash the dishes, if you watch carefully. You're making up nonsense again, said Jinx, standing up and heading toward the door despite her nose in her book. I'm off. No one cares! screamed Kristan after she closed the door behind her. I am fine living by myself without taking care of a spoiled brat like her... Kristian returned his attention to the dishes and pans leftover. That's just me isn't it? To leave the hardest

things to scrub for last...

************************************** That morning, Jezebelle fluttered her eyes open to find herself clinging against Jin's arm with the chains entwined between them. This shocked her enough to almost fall off the side of the bed only to find Jin catching her wrist at the last minute. He pulled her back to his side and smiled softly down at her. However, Jezebelle smacked him with a pillow. What was that for? asked Jin, rubbing his red cheek now. You of all people dare take advantage of me while I'm asleep? asked Jezebelle with fierce eyes. Her golden brown hair was in her eyes. Sorry Fi, said Jin, sitting up with a shy look on his face. Since we were chained together, I couldn't fetch you your teddy bear in the middle of the night... Then, said Jezebelle with wide eyes. You figure out the purpose of Jezebelle- Yes, said Jin, laughing softly at her. You hug the teddy bear to sleep don't you? Do not, said Jezebelle stubbornly, wrapping her arms in front of her chest. You holding onto me for hours don't mean a thing then? asked Jin in a challenging voice. Jezebelle quickly shook her head. He was amused by this discovery. I guess it'll be wrong to say how cute you looked when you cried and hugged my arm to you in the middle of your nightmare last night. I wonder how everyone will take it once they hear- Enough! shrieked Jezebelle, slamming Jin against the mattress. She was on top of him once more. If you dare tell anyone, especially Willis, about my dependence on a teddy bear in order to sleep at night, I'll slit your throat. Or my arm? asked Jin with a fine lift of his brow. About that, said Jezebelle, huffing. Why don't you have any muscles? Your arm feels like a soft teddy bear. That's an insult right? Of course it's an insult! I never really work out or anything, said Jin with a carefree shrug. If I am more competitive in tennis or actually attend practice more often, I might actually build tennis muscles but I guess I'll have to live with my scrawny figure forever. That's right, said Jezebelle mercilessly. If you don't work out, you can't expect to own a well-toned body. If you just sit around and play video games, you can't expect to suddenly become the best tennis player in the world. Life doesn't come easy that way. A lot of the time, I honestly think you're spoiled, Fi, said Jin, impressed. But at other times, I know you try your hardest to get what you want. I'm not a hard worker or anything, said Jezebelle with a short laugh. I just don't trust other people to help me achieve what I can with my own hands. I guess it's my refusal to depend on other people. That's why I can never stand Doubles. I noticed, said Jin with wide eyes. If I lose in Doubles, I can blame my partner until hell freezes over and get wrinkles in the process, said Jezebelle through gritted teeth. But if I lose in Singles, I have no one to blame but myself and thankfully, I have an easier time forgiving myself than others. I never thought of it that way, said Jin, tilting his head to the side. Why do you keep staring at me like that? asked Jezebelle, elbowing him slightly. I really think you look cuter without your makeup, Fi, said Jin, placing his head on the pillow and staring up at her. You actually resemble a sophomore that way. That's why I hate it, said Jezebelle, flinging her hair backwards. I like looking older than my actual age. People don't look down on me as much. I hate being treated like a child most of all. If you have a problem with that, said Jin, smiling. You can always not wear makeup at home since I don't judge you, Fi.

I'm not planning on satisfying you any time soon, mint chocolate chip, said Jezebelle, sticking her tongue out at him. You like your girls cute? I like myself mature. And my opinion over yours. That's fine, said Jin, leaning over and rubbing the top of her head, much to her irritation. As long as I can see your face beautiful and natural in your sleep at night. I sleep naked, said Jezebelle suddenly. What? asked Jin with wide eyes. That's the real reason why I want a lock on my door, said Jezebelle, smirking. I sleep without any clothes on so that's why you can't be there. How bizarre, said Jin, scratching his head at this news. The reason why I sleep like that is because I feel completely at ease with myself, said Jezebelle, enjoying the sight of confusion on her boyfriend's face. I don't care what other people think of my sleeping habits. Then, you shouldn't care about me walking on you either? That's different, said Jezebelle, poking Jin hard in the chest. I don't care if you rape me or kill me in my sleep, but I can't have you watching me and calling me cute. It annoys the fuck out of me. What does? asked Jin, confused. Your innocence, said Jezebelle, growling now. I can't tell if it's fake or genuine but no matter what, I have reason to be scared of you. Why me? asked Jin, groaning. Simple, said Jezebelle with narrowed eyes. If someone comes up to you with a knife, chances are he wants to kill you and you can prevent it from happening. If he doesn't, then oops? At least, you're not dead. If someone comes up to you with arms open, you have no idea what that person wants. Maybe he has a knife hidden under his sleeve? Maybe he wants to hug you to touch your ass? Who knows? In other words, said Jin with a deep sigh. You're accusing me of acting innocent in order to get closer to you and do something harmful? No, darling, said Jezebelle, laughing and pushing Jin playfully. I'm more afraid of the idea of an unwanted hug than an attempt on my life! Sometimes, said Jin, getting off the bed. I don't get you. Good, said Jezebelle coldly, straightening the skirt she slept in. I can't believe I've worn the same shirt this long without washing it. Yuck! Once we get these removed, said Jin, jingling the handcuffs. You can take a real bath, Fi, as long as you want. Well, not really. We have school. Wrong, said Jezebelle with her hands on her hips. You don't stay in a hot bath too long because it makes your skin all pale and wrinkly! I so saw that one coming, said Jin with a light chuckle. Nevertheless, Fi, you'll be happy to dress in new clothes and enjoy a bath to make up to the washing yesterday. Hey gummy bear, said Jezebelle, pushing Jin against the wall and smirking at him. Since you'll be needing a bath too, how about we join one to save water? Very funny, Fi, said Jin, rubbing her head like a child much to her annoyance. The bathtub is way too small and plus, my parents are home. Screw that, said Jezebelle, laughing in her usual diabolical way. No one will know if we quiet down a little- You two, said Mr. Song from behind them. Jezebelle froze up while Jin paled slightly. Meet me in the kitchen in one minute or else. Or else what? asked Jezebelle daringly. Come on Fi, said Jin, following his father out of their parent's bedroom and forcing Jezebelle to do the same with their connected wrists.

After sitting down at the kitchen table at their respective seats, Jin's mother rushed in with a key in the air and a smile on her face. Relieved, Jezebelle rushed over to the woman and accepted the key. Mr. Song sat and watched them as Jezebelle freed the handcuffs between her and Jin. Mrs. Song went to the stove and explained that Mrs. Wilshire was right outside the house when she came home and received the new key from her. Happily, Jin hugged Jezebelle, in which she tried to pull away from. Excuse me, said Mr. Song, coughing at the sight of his son hugging Jezebelle. About last night- I'm sorry Dad, said Jin quickly. Nothing happen between us. I know, said Mr. Song with a deep sigh. But I am concerned by the behavior around here between you two. Must I remind you, Jin, that this is my boss's daughter? I'm sorry, said Jin, dropping his head. I will act more civilized. You know the consequences for violating Jezebelle in any way, said Mr. Song sternly, wrapping his hands in front of him. You might lose your job, said Jin sadly, frowning. I know Dad. I won't do anything stupid. I'll be good. Fi is going to be good too. Your nickname is Fi, Jezebelle? asked Mr. Song, surprised. No, said Jezebelle grumpily. Your stupid son gave me a pet name. A pet name? asked Mrs. Song with bright eyes. What a sweet pet name. Jin's growing up so well. First, he gives pet names to his games and now his first girlfriend. Jin's mother, said Mr. Song, lifting a brow at her. You're not helping. Sorry, Jin's father, said Mrs. Song, returning her attention to the stove. Anyways, said Jezebelle, sitting back in her seat and checking her free wrist in the air. I don't see why the heck you two are so worried about. Butter cups here doesn't have any balls so there's no point in trying to scare him with the whole 'Jezebelle is my boss's daughter' routine. It gets old after a while. The reason why I even volunteer Jin for this position, said Mr. Song in a serious, calm voice despite Mrs. Song's gasp at Jezebelle's words. Is because I want him to socialize with people more, especially girls. There's Rin-chan, said Jin hopefully. You have known both Rin and Tiffany too long to count, said Mr. Song, shutting Jin up completely. The second reason is your mother and I also want you to understand girls better. That is why we volunteer you, Jin, to take care of Jezebelle. We are not doing this so you and Jezebelle can fool around. Boring, boring, boring, said Jezebelle, jumping off her chair and walking off. All you do is say the same thing over and over. I want my bath already. Sorry, Dad, said Jin a third time before he bowed slightly in his chair and ran after Jezebelle. After he caught up with her, Jin grabbed her arm and smiled at her. Thanks Fi. For what, lobster sauce? asked Jezebelle, a bit suspicious. You were defending me against Dad in your own special way, said Jin happily. Like I'll ever do that, said Jezebelle, removing his hold on her arm and continuing up the stairs with Jin trailing her. Your parents are such weak sauce. Even if I am the boss's daughter, they can at least their voices at me. Instead, they can only hold a strong face against their own son. Pathetic. It's not that, Fi, said Jin quickly, stopping in front of her room. She went inside but she didn't close the door. He waited for her without looking inside. My parents hate disciplining children besides their own. When it comes to me, Dad can be very strict, but you should see him when he's with my cousins. He's like the nicest guy ever. The nice guy routine must be in your blood or something, said Jezebelle from inside the room. She was quickly undressing herself. Anyways, prepare me a hot bath and

bring me a towel. All right, said Jin, running to the nearest closet and checking the colorful towels. What's your favorite color Fi? Why do you ask? asked Jezebelle in an accusing voice. Just curious, said Jin, admiring the variety of colors in the towels. He never noticed this before. Well?' Red. For good luck? asked Jin, walking in the room and handing her a red towel. No, said Jezebelle, accepting the towel. She was in nothing but her bra and underwear, though it did not seem to bother Jin. For blood. Speaking of blood, said Jin cheerfully, strolling alongside Jezebelle to the down stairs restroom. Mr. Song gave them a disapproving look on his way up. I believe that we will become even closer if we start to talk and learn about each other's interests. First of all, said Jezebelle, wrapping the towel around her body and glaring at Jin. I have no interest in getting closer to you, you big dork. And second of all, I already know all of your interests- video games and more video games. Actually, said Jin, moving up closer to Jezebelle with a smile. I have a couple of mangas I think you will like if you take the time to read them. What's a manga? asked Jezebelle, lifting a brow. You don't know what a manga is? asked Jin dramatically, accidentally bumping her against the door to the restroom. Er, no? Hello? How do I explain this... said Jin under his breath. It's like a book with pictures... A picture book then, said Jezebelle, bored. No, that's not it, said Jin, frustrated. It's like... like... Talk to me when you can actually speak correctly, said Jezebelle, slamming the door in his face. Jin was about to leave when she flung it open a minute later. You didn't start a hot bath for me! I only got your towel, said Jin, blinking. So useless! cried Jezebelle, dragging him inside. Do it for me. But I need to take a shower too, said Jin, trying to escape the restroom. Jezebelle blocked his way though. I can easily push you out of the way, Fi. I'm a guy after all. I'll totally own you in wrestling, said Jezebelle with a quick snicker. That's not true, said Jin, reddening. Come on, yellow bear, said Jezebelle in a sickeningly sweet voice, tugging onto his arm with her bottom lip sticking out. Please? For me? How can I resist? asked Jin, turning on the faucet and checking the temperature for her. After a bit, Jin beamed at her. Done, Fi. Thanks loser, said Jezebelle, pushing him on the ground outside the restroom immediately. Always so ungrateful, said Jin with a deep sigh. However, he did not mind and simply went upstairs to the second restroom in the house. He went in his room and picked out his clothes quickly before he spotted a certain manga on the shelf. Fi likes football... ************************************************ I am glad to find almost all our previous Jazz Band members present today, said Mr. Chan proudly. He was a skinny and tall Chinese man with round glasses and a crooked smile. He was in charge of Band and Jazz Band. Although I must say, I am sad to announce that our fabulous pianist Ms. Susan Kim graduated last year and is now attending Oxford University. We must find her replacement as soon as possible. That's easy, Mr. Chan, said Edwin Gilliam, the outstanding Concertmaster of

Orchestra who played the bass for Jazz Band. There are a lot of pianists at our school. It is not that easy, Edwin, said Rin, annoyed. She was cleaning her baritone saxophone at the moment. For Jazz Band, it is all about talent. Unlike Orchestra and Marching Band, you have to audition to be in Jazz Band. That is correct, Rin, said Mr. Chan, nodding in her direction. There might be a lot of pianists at our school but we need the most talented pianist to join if we wish to win the Jazz Band festival this year. The most talented pianist at our school may or may not wish to audition. That is the problem. What can we do about though? Right mates? asked Edwin with a cute smile. There is no Jazz Band without an efficient pianist, said Rin, glaring at Edwin, who grinned back at her. In order to have real practices, we must find one. Right again, Rin, said Mr. Chan, indicating at the empty seat in front of the black piano. Everyone, go out and search for at least one pianist. Since there are about twenty of us, we might be able to come back with twenty pianist the next day. Hey Mr. Chan, said Edwin, leaving his bass's side and placing his hand on Rin's shoulder much to her annoyance. How about we make it a contest then? Whoever brings back the best pianist gets the right to pick our next song? Excellent idea, Edwin, said Mr. Chan, beaming at Edwin and staring around at the group. If you bring back more than one pianist, you have a higher chance of getting a solo of course. Let's work our best to find a suitable replacement for Susan then. Everyone started murmuring excitedly among themselves. Unlike Orchestra and Band, Jazz Band had multiple solos in each pieces for all kinds of instruments. Rin glared at Edwin at this suggestion. In most pieces, the saxophone was guaranteed a solo, which could be hers or the other three. However, there were not as many pieces with bass solos. Knowing Edwin, he did this to pick a song with a bass solo and nearly none for the saxophones. To confirm this, Edwin leaned down next to Rin. Poor Rin, said Edwin in a pitied voice. You'll have a hard time winning this challenge, you arrogant saxophonist you. Oh bug off, said Rin, annoyed. You're being ridiculous. No one likes you, Rin, said Edwin, rubbing her on the head. You purposely look down on people. Who will help you when you now huh? I'll force Jin to come if I have to, said Rin through gritted teeth. Jin won't help you, said Edwin, shrugging. He's a nice guy but he won't work his ass off waking up an hour or two early just to play music with you. He doesn't even like the piano enough to spend hours on practice. No matter, said Rin stubbornly. I won't let you get away this, Edwin. You did this on purpose when I picked a song last year that had no bass solos. I told you a million times. I did not do it on purpose, dumb ass. Sure, you didn't, said Edwin, leaving her side. Watch Rin. You're going down. This is why I hate boys, said Rin, sticking her tongue due to her distaste. Cross that. High school boys who are too high off puberty. I'll find a pianist at least if it's the last thing I do. I won't let Mr. I-Am-The-Best-Because-I-Am-Concertmaster step all over me. However, when she tried calling Jin's cell phone, she kept reaching his voice mail instead. Frustrated, Rin threw her cell phone back inside her backpack. Unfortunately, Edwin saw this and beamed at her. Of course, she cursed him out and went back to brooding to herself about how her best friend ignoring her phone calls now. There are other pianists beside Jin, said Rin to herself. I'll find him or her... ****************************** What a quick bath, cried Jin cheerfully, wandering his way back in his room to pack his DS lite and PSP into his backpack. It was then that he noticed that his mother was

watching him from the doorway. Yes Mom? I heard from the Wu's that Tiffany is down with a cold, said Mrs. Song with a frown. Got it, said Jin with a grin. I'll go visit her. Good Jin, said Mrs. Song before yawning and heading toward the bedroom. Poor Tiffany, said Jin with a frown now. He checked his key chain and beamed at the sight of a small silver one. I should visit her alone. Chances are even after I am done, Fi will still be in the bathtub. Rushing downstairs with his backpack over his shoulder, Jin placed it near the front door before he left the house after a quick wave at his father. He hopped over the bushes that separated their houses for a shortcut. Jin took out that same key earlier and unlocked the front door. Even though Ms. Wu was cutting vegetables in the kitchen, she was not bothered at all at the sight of Jin walking in her house. Good morning, Mrs. Wu! greeted Jin with a bright smile. Good timing, Jin, said Mrs. Wu, walking over to him with a tray. May you take this up to Tiffany? She is sick in bed right now. Yes, of course, said Jin, accepting the tray and heading toward Tiffany's bedroom. Then, he remembered something and glanced back. Will Tiffany be going to school today? I already called the office about her absence, said Mrs. Wu, returning her attention to the vegetables. She'll be fine, said Jin, observing the house closely to spot any differences. Nope, the same like always. She always get a cold at this time of year. As well as a third of the school, said Mrs. Wu with a shake of her head. Tiffany? asked Jin softly, pushing into her room with his shoulder. He noticed that she was under her sheets with her head to the side. It's me, Jin. I'm coming in all right? Entering her room, Jin placed the tray on the dresser before he crouched next to her bed and checked her forehead. She didn't have a fever at least. At the touch of his warm hands, Tiffany fluttered her eyes opened and stared at his bright face. How are you Tiffany? asked Jin, removing some loose strands from her face. You're here, said Tiffany with a soft smile. Yeah, said Jin, standing up straight now. I brought your bowl of porridge. I'll eat it later, said Tiffany, turning her back to him. Your room is the same like always, said Jin, scanning the room and spotting the stickers on her mirror. Where are your Tigger plushies? Mom store them somewhere else now, said Tiffany in a low tone. You always like Winnie the Pooh, said Jin, crouching down next to her on the other side and peering into her sleepy eyes. And Hello Kitty too. Our parents told me you'll grow out of it once you reach high school. I'm the only one who thought otherwise. I know, said Tiffany, closing her eyes and rubbing her head against her pillow. You know me the best after all. Tiffany, said Jin, reaching a hand out to her. Here. Okay, said Tiffany weakly, holding her hand against his. Your hands are warm. Like always, said Jin, using his other hand to pet her head. Remember how you used to call me Tigger in junior high? I remember, said Tiffany, gazing at Jin softly. And you call me Piglet. I'm not a pig you dummy. Sorry, said Jin with a soft chuckle. Do you still have that charm I gave you? Mhm, said Tiffany, indicating at her cell phone with her head. It's right there. I want to see, said Jin excitedly, removing himself from her side. He picked up her cell phone and touched the Winnie the Pooh charm. For her birthday a few years ago, he got this for her. I'm glad you still kept it.

I like it, said Tiffany, following her eyes after him. You wouldn't happen to have Fi's number do you, Tiffany? asked Jin quickly, flipping her phone open. No Jin! cried Tiffany to stop him. However, he had stopped talking and started staring at her cell phone. That wallpaper... I don't look half that bad, said Jin, admiring the wallpaper in the sunlight. My hair looks so goofy though. Actually, it still does, doesn't it? About the wallpaper... What a great idea! cried Jin, placing the cell phone down and rushing back to Tiffany side. He shook her hands. Thanks for the idea Tiffany! I hope you feel better and go to school tomorrow! I'll see ya! Where are you going? asked Tiffany after him. Back home, said Jin, waving back at her. I know what I should change my cell phone wallpaper to! Blinking, Tiffany watched as Jin ran out of her room and waited to hear her front door shut before she forced herself up from her spot and stared out the window at the sight of Jin jumping over the bushes between their homes. Tiffany couldn't decide whether she was grateful that he did not figure her longtime crush on him because of the wallpaper or upset that he left her so soon. Still, how did her wallpaper enlighten him? Where's Fi, Dad? asked Jin, bursting through the front door. She's in her room, said Mr. Song without looking up from his Korean newspaper. All right then, said Jin, passing by the kitchen when his father coughed. Yes? Both of you are taking the metro to school and back, said Mr. Song without lifting his eyes up at his son. You're not allowed to legally drive Jezebelle to school by yourself. Even with your permission? asked Jin curiously. I am not giving you permission until I'm sure you are responsible enough, said Mr. Song, sipping his coffee. I understand, said Jin with a smile. I'll just have to prove to you that I'm responsible enough to drive Fi around town. You know I'm afraid that she'll become a bad influence on you, said Mr. Song, frowning and placing his mug down on the saucer. Like forcing you to drive her to night clubs and parties with alcohol. Fi's not like that, said Jin confidently. Then, Jin remembered the way she dresses and a lot of other physical attributes. Even if she is, I won't allow her. That eases me somewhat, said Mr. Song with a deep sigh. Besides, said Jin, grinning. I don't have time to drive her there. Today, I have laundry, grocery shopping, and a couple of other chores to take care of. I'm not worried about you, said Mr. Song quickly. I know, said Jin, giving his dad a thumbs up. Fi's a good girl. I'm sure of it. Kimchi, cried Jezebelle, collapsing against Jin's arm and sobbing much to his surprise. I am so dead. What's wrong Fi? asked Jin loudly, concerned. His dramatic side was kicking in. Did something happen to your father? Did you eat something poisonous? Did you hurt your wrists? Did you twist your ankle? Did you accidentally mix the whites with the colors? No you mother fucker, said Jezebelle, smacking Jin across the head. I'm... I'm... You're pregnant? asked Jin dramatically. Mr. Song ran up the stairs at the sound of that. Jezebelle screamed and started slamming Jin against the wall. What's going on? You are a retard, said Jezebelle, furious. Fuck no! Thank goodness, said Mr. Song, holding his hand to his forehead and heading downstairs with a tired expression on his face.

It's all your fault, said Jezebelle, hitting Jin's chest. It's all your fault. You and your mac and cheese! And all that meat from yesterday too! I can't believe I gained two pounds. I want to die. I want to slit my throat right now! Calm down, Fi, said Jin, grabbing her hand and pressing her against him. It was just a figure of speech, said Jezebelle stubbornly. Why would I kill myself? So... said Jin, releasing her and scratching his head. What's the problem again? I gained weight, said Jezebelle, slightly dizzy. It's only two pounds, said Jin slowly. Only two pounds? asked Jezebelle, jabbing her finger into his chest. Let's go. We're buying me a month's worth of Slim Fast. After school, Fi, said Jin, pushing her toward her room and forcing her down on the bed. Now, wear your hat and shoes and we'll be on our way to the Metro. Why are we taking the Metro? asked Jezebelle, throwing a random hat on her head and taking a pair of shoes from the closet. Dad won't let me drive you to school, said Jin, rubbing the teddy bear on the head. No touchy, said Jezebelle, jerking her teddy bear away. That sucks. Why don't you drive me anyways? I don't feel like taking the Metro today. Let's be reasonable, said Jin, smiling weakly. When am I ever reasonable? I'm Jezebelle! Good point, said Jin, thinking. How about breakfast? We'll take the Metro to school. It stops close to that coffeehouse and they have wonderful pastries there. Why are you so dumb? asked Jezebelle, pinching Jin's cheek abusively. I told you! I gained two pounds! There's no way I want to eat breakfast! Though... Jezebelle paused and released his cheek. I could use some coffee... Then, it's settled, said Jin, pushing her out of the room. Let's hurry. How far away is the Metro from your house anyway? asked Jezebelle, pouting. Two blocks. That's too far, cried Jezebelle grumpily. Me no want. You're being childish, Fi, said Jin with a disapproving shake of his head. Of course, we have to walk to the Metro. It's only two blocks though. How about you carry me, brown bear? asked Jezebelle cutely. That's out of the question, said Jin with a frown. People are watching. So? asked Jezebelle, sticking her tongue out at him. If you carry me- Jezebelle leaned against his cheek. I'll give you a kiss. Oh yeah, said Jin excitedly. Jezebelle beamed but then she watched him disappear inside his room for a second and then came out with a grin. Say cheese Fi. Why? asked Jezebelle, suspicious. However, before she could do anything, she gaped when she noticed that Jin had a cell phone in his hands. Jin took a quick photo of her in which she jumped him for him. Even after much struggle, Jezebelle could not manage to claw the cell phone from his hands. As for her boyfriend, he was satisfied at his new wallpaper of Jezebelle staring at him with wide eyes. I look horrible, said Jezebelle, groaning. Delete it! Delete it! Delete it! No way, said Jin, hugging his cell phone. You look so cute. I hate being called cute! I can't wait to show Bo, said Jin, throwing her off him and bolting down the stairs. Come on Fi. Let's head out now. Grab your backpack and racket. That bastard! cried Jezebelle, chasing him out of the house. Delete that photo before I murder you, you stupid geek! Catch me first, said Jin, winking back at her.

With that, the chase was on. Despite Jin not being very fast, Jezebelle couldn't catch up to him because whenever she reached him, he stopped and allowed her to turn around before he went past her with the cell phone against his chest. During his run, he checked his missed calls and was surprised to find Rin's number. Why would Rin-chan call me so early in the morning? asked Jin out loud. Slow down, you peeping tom! cried Jezebelle with her racket in the air. She's serious, said Jin with a frown. He quickened his pace. I won't let you catch me that easily, Fi. Due to the chase, they arrived at the Metro a lot faster than Jin anticipated. He dodged people on the escalator on the way down. Jezebelle did the same. The difference was whenever she accidentally bumped someone, she cursed that person to hell before she continued on her way. This slowed her down considerably. Jin noticed that the metro had just arrived so he ran as quick as he could inside. Jezebelle was right on his heels when the red lights started flashing. Gasping, Jin reached out for her and pulled her right in before the door closed. I win, said Jin, grinning at her. I keep the wallpaper then. You'll pay for this, said Jezebelle with murderous eyes. Dearly. Later, said Jin, waving it off and walking along the aisle for seats. Oh look. Jin and Jezebelle found two seats side by side. Jin waited for Jezebelle to sit down before he took his seat. However, he spotted an elderly woman searching for a seat as well. There seemed to be none left. Standing up at the sight of her coming closer, Jin smiled and offered his seat to her. Thank you, said the elderly woman as she sat next to Jezebelle. What are you doing? asked Jezebelle in a hiss. I'm fine with standing, said Jin, taking something out of his backpack. I know you don't know much about manga but you like football right? He handed Jezebelle a manga. Eyeshield 21 is a manga on football. A graphic novel, said Jezebelle, scanning through the pages. Why didn't you say so earlier? You dumb shit. You're reading it backwards, said Jin, turning the manga over. You read from right to left for mangas. What kind of shit is this? asked Jezebelle out loud, gaining attention from all the elderly people on the bus. Whatever. I'll just read it since I have nothing better to do. All right then, said Jin, grabbing a hold of a pole a bit away from Jezebelle. I'll be over here if you need me. Wait, said Jezebelle, standing up and heading over to Jin. This was when the metro started moving, causing Jezebelle to rock back and forth. Jin caught her around the waist. Fuck this! Why didn't it warn us ahead of time? It did, said Jin with a sigh. Why are you standing too? Is it because you care about me and want to be with me? No, said Jezebelle, rolling her eyes. I hate sitting next to old people. They smell. However, Jin chuckled at her. What? Stop laughing at me! Nothing, said Jin quickly, holding her against his side. The metro moves pretty fast so keep close to me. I'm fine by myself, said Jezebelle, pushing him away. Just then, the metro stopped unexpectedly. Jezebelle was caught once again by Jin. Or not. Fine. You win. I can't read if I can't stay balance anyways. Awesome, said Jin, squeezing her unconsciously. Oops. Sorry. It's confirmed, said Jezebelle, reading the manga closely. You're asexual. Or polite? asked Jin weakly.

Polite guys don't exist, said Jezebelle, leaning against Jin to read. Jin was about to open his mouth to protest when Jezebelle cut in. They only act polite on the outside to get something in return. That's all there is to it. But I- That's why you're asexual, said Jezebelle in a low tone. I rather have an asexual boyfriend than a crazed sex maniac anyway. I think, said Jin softly, looking down at Jezebelle, who was now absorbed in the manga. You're complimenting me, Fi. You should check your hearing, said Jezebelle with a snarl. I want to protect Fi, thought Jin, gazing intently at Jezebelle, who was no longer talking or paying attention to him. She was flipping through the pages quite quickly. It doesn't matter how much she hurts me verbally or physically, I want to protect her. I don't know why. Is this what it means to have feelings for someone? **************************************** I'm fucking driving and yet someone's fucking calling me, said Kristian, keeping his eyes constantly moving for the traffic was heavier than he expected this morning on the freeway. He glanced at his phone once and recognized the number. Immediately, he stopped the car behind a line of traffic and turned the phone on speaker. Then, he drove slowly behind the other cars. Hey Mr. Chavez. Don't tell me I have already received a note to check into your office before I even attend first period? Your uncle sent me your SAT scores, said Mr. Chavez in a serious voice. My SAT scores? asked Kristian out loud, thinking. Oh that! You took it quite early. Most of your classmates are taking it this winter or next fall. Senior year at the latest. Oh, said Kristian, chuckling. I took it the same time as my cousin. She's a senior at an all-girls private school you know? Kristian, why are you so carefree about the scores that might affect your life forever? asked Mr. Chavez with a deep sigh. Maybe because unlike the people in my school, said Kristian softly. I already know what to do with my life. I am one of those people who don't have to waste time searching for my lost identity. I was born with it. What is your goal in life, Kristian? I want to join the Navy and help my country, said Kristian in a solemn tone. I might attend some military academy first but who knows? That's a fine goal, Kristian, said Mr. Chavez, raising his voice slightly. Are you planning on applying to West Point? I don't know, said Kristian plainly. I don't really care about that. Did you study for the SAT, Kristian? Not really, said Kristian, laughing loudly. Actually, I'll be really honest with you since we're such good buds, Mr. Chavez. I took it on a whim! When I saw Jinx registering for her SAT, I did it with her. Of course, she had to remind me the day before that Saturday about the SAT or else, I would have completely forgotten. Kristian, this is no laughing matter, said Mr. Chavez, a bit angry. Why? Did I do horribly? You did extremely well, said Mr. Chavez, raising his tone even higher. Kristian simply lifted an eyebrow at the news. You took it June this year right? Yeah, I should have looked at my scores a while ago, said Kristian admittedly. But I got lazy and never got around to checking them. What's my score anyway, dear principal? You score a 2380. That sounds low to me, said Kristian, shrugging and cutting a car off.

The highest score you can get is a 2400 on the SAT, said Mr. Chavez. You received an 800 in Math and a 790 in both English and Writing. With those scores, you qualify for the Ivy Leagues even. Of course, it depends on the rest of your college application. I knew I shouldn't have slept for four hours the night before, said Kristian angrily. Excuse me? Hey Mr. Chavez, said Kristian, tossing a cocky smile at the rear mirror. I bet I can get a 2400 if I retake it again. It's recommended with a score that high, said Mr. Chavez quickly and worriedly. You shouldn't retake it. The chance of you getting a lower score is- There is no way in hell I'll do worse, said Kristian, laughing at his principal's words. The day I took the SAT, I was sleepy, bored, and had no fucking idea why the hell I was there so early in the morning. I didn't even bring a calculator or pencil with me and had to borrow a pencil off someone else. I was also in a fight with my parents and my cousin that week. I took it when I was at the very bottom. How can I possibly score lower? Kristian, you're always such a clown, said Mr. Chavez, laughing in amusement now. Besides, said Kristian, smiling to himself. If I score a perfect 2400 the next time, I can at least know that first round wasn't just luck. If you can do it once, you can do it again. For me, if you can do it once, you can do it better. Seriously Kristian, you're a bright student, said Mr. Chavez, hesitating somewhat. You should concentrate more on your grades instead of fooling around in class. Mr. Chavez, do you wash the dishes? When my wife is not around, yes. Do you wash the pots and pans first or the spoons and forks first? The pots and pans... Kristian grimaced. Thanks Mr. C for the scores. I'll see you at school in less than ten minutes or so. Chances are I'll be seeing your more than once today! Look forward to it! Wait Kristian- However, Kristian had already hung up the phone and got off the freeway at the right stop. But instead of driving to the school, Kristian found an empty spot to park and dropped his head on the wheel of his car. Kristian gritted his teeth at the memory of a girl with long, black hair that reached to her hips. Within minutes though, Kristian picked up his head and stared out the window to find a short girl trying hard to balance boxes of pizza by herself. Careful there, said Kristian, grabbing all eight boxes of pizza on top of her hands. Xuan Lan blinked in shock at the sight of him. Where are you going with all that pizza? There's a surprise party for Coach Mendoza, said Xuan Lan honestly. Shouldn't the football players be carrying these heavy boxes instead? asked Kristian, clicking a button to lock his car before walking alongside Xuan Lan. If any of them carry these boxes, said Xuan Lan slowly, reddening by the minute. Someone will tell Coach Mendoza about it and it won't be a surprise anymore. Who cares? asked Kristian, upset. They shouldn't allow a short Asian girl to carry heavy boxes by herself. That's not right. Do you remember me? asked Xuan Lan, keeping her eyes to the ground. Should I? asked Kristian, lost. You helped me yesterday morning, said Xuan Lan, shaking slightly. Yesterday morning... said Kristian, thinking back. Oh! Squirrel girl! Hai, said Xuan Lan, beaming at Kristian. That's me. Cool, said Kristian, rubbing the top of her head. I thought you were an elementary student or something. You're so small. How are you this morning? I'm searching for Mr. Kinkles, said Xuan Lan, frowning. He's my gray stuffed kitten. I accidentally dropped him yesterday.

If I see him, said Kristian, passing by Wendy who was arguing with Jordan about something. Xuan Lan decided it was best if she did not interfere with Wendy. I'll be sure to return him to you. This Mr. Kinkles. Thank you very much, said Xuan Lan, bowing several times at Kristian. Yesterday, you helped me once and today, you helped me again. I'm eternally grateful to you. That's a bit much, said Kristian with a shaky smile. I usually help girls. That's very gallant of you, said Xuan Lan, beaming. No... said Kristian, sighing. I don't even know why I do it when I actually... Kristian laughed loudly. See there? He pointed at the coffeehouse nearby. The football players are there. You should ask one to help you carry half the boxes at least. I mean if it's both of you, other people won't tell Coach Mendoza right? Right, said Xuan Lan, a bit nervous. Thank you again Mister! Catch you later, said Kristian, crossing the same street quickly as before. Your name... said Xuan Lan, a bit disappointed. She felt her heart beating rapidly the entire time she were by Kristian's side. Second time in a row and I still haven't asked him for his name... he's so nice... Spring. Oh, said Xuan Lan, whirling around at the coffeehouse and faced the taller boy who called her. It's you! Hi! *********************************************** Minutes later, at the same coffeehouse, Jezebelle entered it and gaped at the long line. Grumpily, she clawed into Jin and shrieked at him for coming up with this stupid plan. Jin sighed and told her to sit down while he waited in line for her. Even though Jezebelle hesitated at this plan at first, she pointed at Jin's backpack at last. Third volume, said Jezebelle in a direct command. You really like it don't you? asked Jin, taking out the third volume and handing it to Jezebelle. Jezebelle shrugged and went to an empty table, reading it. I guess so. It's about football after all. No sugar in my coffee, said Jezebelle behind the manga. Just regular black then? asked Jin curiously. Whatever, said Jezebelle curtly. As long as you pay for it. I don't have much on me, said Jin admittedly, glancing at the menu. But I can always withdraw more money from my family's bank account. At the sound of this, Jezebelle's eyes lifted up from the manga and straight at Jin, who was in the middle of the extremely long line for her sake. Jezebelle went up to him and poked him hard in the ribs. You can access your parents' bank account? asked Jezebelle in awe. Yeah, said Jin, blinking. What's the matter? Your parents really trust you, don't they? asked Jezebelle, lowering her eyes. Of course, said Jin with a bright smile. My family is all about trust. If you don't trust your own family members, who can you trust? Cheesy, said Jezebelle before she went back to her seat. Then, when Jin was out of earshot, Jezebelle frowned and buried her head in the manga. More like lucky. Almost done with the third volume, Jezebelle suddenly found herself surrounded by Hispanics and Blacks. She did not care for them so she continued to read since she was so close to finishing and the warning bell was going to ring in five minutes or so. However, one of them sat too close to her and accidentally brushed the side of her legs. What the fuck was that for? asked Jezebelle, glaring at the boy. Fuck off! What a temper, said one of the boys, backing away from her. Watch it girl. You're pretty hot and all but don't think you own the place and shit.

Immigrate legally here first and we'll talk, said Jezebelle, rolling her eyes. Bitch! Right before the boys could gang up on Jezebelle, Jin came back just in time to catch sight of the hostility between Jezebelle and the Hispanics and Blacks. Jin quickly placed the coffee down on the table and stopped the fight that was about to break out. Oh, it's Jin Song, said one of the boys. Hey Jin, said a Black boy. Is she your friend or something? She's actually my girlfriend, said Jin, smiling weakly at them. They widened their eyes at him in awe. She's a bit on the edge right now so yeah. If it's your girlfriend then, said one of the Hispanics, standing up. We won't mess. I still owe you that one time for returning my lost Algebra book. Same, Jin. I would have been in so much trouble if you didn't help me sneak back inside the school after lunch that one time... Hey. Thanks for listening to me rant about my breakup the other day. After a couple of pats on the back for Jin, the group left without another word. Jezebelle glared at Jin when he sat down and moved the cup of coffee in front of her. Irked, Jezebelle grabbed the coffee and began drinking the coffee in a sulking manner. What's wrong Fi? asked Jin, concerned. Did they hurt you? This wasn't supposed to happen, said Jezebelle, slamming her cup on the table. What? Never mind, said Jezebelle, biting the straw. Does everyone in school know you? No, said Jin, laughing softly. Probably everyone in my grade though. Why do you help people? asked Jezebelle suddenly. Doesn't it seem pointless? I don't think so, said Jin, sitting back and smiling. If someone needs your help, Fi, will you decline them? If it's out of my way, said Jezebelle, shrugging. Yeah. I see, said Jin, placing his arms on the table and laying his head on it. So if it's too much trouble, you don't help people. I don't like helping people in the first place, said Jezebelle quickly. Why do you say things for people to hate you? asked Jin curiously and sadly. Easy, said Jezebelle, finishing her coffee and standing up. I have an easier time trusting my enemies than my friends. I know it sounds contradictory but it's true. If I'm being a bitch, I rather my enemies point it out to me rather than my friends trying to convince me otherwise. I learn more about myself from people who hate me than people who like me. Besides, isn't it less stressful to hate than to love? You, Fi, have a twisted way of thinking, said Jin with a shake of his head. I'm not like you, said Jezebelle, hitting his head with his manga. I can't pretend to be nice. I feel so... fake. Who says I'm pretending? asked Jin with wide eyes. I didn't say that, said Jezebelle, keeping her eyes away from him. She returned his manga to him. I guess it's not in my nature to be like you. Whenever I'm nice to people, I feel like one, big phony. I don't like putting on a show for anyone other than myself. I like your bluntness, said Jin slowly, zipping up his manga in his backpack. What I'm trying to say is, said Jezebelle with a smirk. Hiruma from Eyeshield 21 isn't a very nice character so you can't expect him to act nice all of a sudden right? Right, said Jin, leaving the coffeehouse side by side with Jezebelle. Same with you huh? It will be so out of character for you, Fi. I know, said Jezebelle, nodding quickly. She latched herself to Jin's arm as they crossed the street. How about you buy me a machine gun for my birthday? Eh?

******************************************** I thought I told Cory to meet me in front of our locker yesterday, said Kristian, obviously ticked that his close friend wasn't there. However, he saw a note posted on their locker. What's this? After reading the note quickly, Kristian crushed the paper in his hands and ran off toward the football field. No one was there except for Cory and a certain King of the school at the top of the bleachers. Kristian noticed that the commotion between Cory and Alejandro had caught the attention of Rin and the other Jazz Band members. They were staring from inside the band room at where Alejandro sat with Cory next to him. If it isn't my friend Alejandro, said Kristian with a cocky smile. What's up? Your bitch here has grown quite a bit since the end of school last year, said Alejandro in a deep voice, patting Cory on the head. His brown eyes hardened considerably. I have a couple of ideas I want to discuss with you. There's only five minutes left before the warning bell, said Kristian, checking his watch and sighing. These ideas... can't they wait? You've changed, said Alejandro in a growl. His hard eyes were locked on Kristian. Before, you wouldn't have cared if we were late to our first periods or not. What happen to you? The Virgin-Killer? Point taken, said Kristan, walking up to Alejandro and sitting in front of him on the bleachers. At least, allow Cory to leave for his first period while we talk about these ideas you have mind. Go, Shiratori's bitch, said Alejandro, kicking Cory off the seat next to him. Kristian felt his jaw tightened slightly at this but he didn't say anything. Cory gave Kristian one, long look before he rushed off. Shall we start now? You never start a battle that you have no chance of winning, said Kristian under his breath. His eyes had become extremely serious. What do you have over me? I dug up some interesting information about you, said Alejandro, sitting his one leg horizontal and one leg on the ground. He had a smooth smirk on his lips. Delightful, said Kristian, changing his seat to where Cory used to sit. What have you found out about me, Alejandro? And what do you want? Your first girlfriend- Oh her, said Kristian, flicking Alejandro a smirk. You found out about her. It was pure coincidence, said Alejandro, amused. She was one of the girls I met up during summer vacation. She's quite a flirt isn't she? Some people never change, said Kristian in a solemn voice. You may have guessed what I did with her already, said Alejandro, moving his face closer to Kristian with a cruel smile. I figure as much, said Kristian, shrugging. She's a whore anyway. You can't look me in the eyes, said Alejandro, even more delighted at his discovery. Let me guess, Shiratori. You still have feelings for her, don't you? It doesn't matter to you, does it? asked Kristian with a lift of his brow. How much do you know about our relationship, Alejandro? Tell me the truth. Everything. That whore really told you everything, didn't she? asked Kristian, laughing at the thought almost insanely. I admit, said Alejandro, getting up at the sound of the bell. Kristian did not budge however. In the past, I admired you, Kristian Shiratori. I admire how much you push the teachers to their limits. I admire how you take the virginity of countless girls in the past. I admire how you know you're smart but not be a nerd out of it. You're a source of inspiration for a lot of teenager boys out there. Alejandro placed a hand on Kristian's shoulder and

almost crushed it with his strong hands. However, I'm disappointed in you. You're like the rest of us. You're nothing special. Should I feel insulted? asked Kristian in a daring manner. Alejandro lowered his head near Kristian's ear and whispered something that widened his eyes. That's what you want to keep quiet. So be it. I'll see you then, the Beast. Even after watching Alejandro kicked the litter on the ground, Kristian did not budge from his seat. Rin came out of the classroom with her heavy books ready when she saw Kristian staring into the sky with a lost expression on her face. She did not dare come out of the classroom until Alejandro was completely out of sight. Rin watched Kristian for a few seconds before she left the football area near her band room. After all, Rin was too worried about being tardy to her first period to worry about Kristian. In class that day, Jin kept glancing to the empty seat next to him. Jennifer was teary at this obvious absence from everyone's favorite clown. Even Mr. Sanchez was pleasantly surprised to find his most famous student missing from first period. A lot of people were already spreading rumors about Alejandro beating up Kristian and leaving him bleeding on the sidewalks somewhere. A couple said that Kristian put up a good fight. Others said he ran for his life before the fight even began. I wonder where Kristian is, said Jin to Rin the minute they left first period. Is it really that abnormal for him to be absent? asked Jezebelle, shrugging and walking along the two. I mean this is the time of the year where everyone catches a cold. He was here this morning, said Rin, frowning. Fourth day of school and he's already ditching. I can't believe him. Excuse me... The three of them turned around to face a pale Juliet. Is Kristian sick or... He's here, said Jezebelle, smirking and wrapping an arm over the frightened Juliet. He'll show up in one of your later classes I'm sure Jules. Let's go honey. Watching Jezebelle drag Juliet away, Jin continued to feel uneasy about this, more so because Jennifer kept crying behind him a lot of the time for Kristian. It did not help one bit that everyone started spreading rumors about an Alejandro and Kristian face-off this morning. First, Xuan Lan and now, Kristian? Alejandro liked to pick on people Jin sincerely cared about. Jin, about Jazz Band- However, Jin did not hear Rin and went straight to Cory, who seemed distressed at the disappearance of his leader. Luckily, Gary was there to support Cory or else the boy would surely head to the Nurse's Office by now. Jin tried to smile at Cory, who did not smile back and kept his eyes on the ground. Cory, said Jin softly. Did Kristian head home or something? Impossible, said Cory sadly. He hates his house. He does? asked Rin and Jin in surprise. He hates staying at home, said Cory quickly, blushing bright red. If he's allowed to live on the school campus, he would I think. Maybe that's why he likes detention so much, said Jin, thinking. Kristian keeps telling me many times not to wander around without Gary, said Cory, a bit teary. But I don't listen to him. I know he has a lot of enemies and a lot of them would like to get their hands on me if possible, but the Killer Fours are a team. We stick together to protect ourselves from other groups. It was all my fault for disobeying. What did Alejandro do to him? asked Jin worriedly. I always thought Alejandro respect Kristian enough not to try anything funny. I don't know, said Cory helplessly. Kristian and Alejandro forced me to leave the scene after they met up. I have no clue what happened afterwards.

I'll find him, said Jin, determined. During nutrition, I'll call him if necessary. His phone is off, said Gary in a low, inaudible voice. What? asked Jin, confused. Gary said that Kristian's cell phone is off, said Cory, shaking his head. It's the Killer Fours' problem. We'll find a way to contact him. You're a really nice person, Jin, but we don't want you to get involved with our problems. How can I not get involved? asked Jin after them. He faced Rin and frowned. Kristian and I may not be the best of friends, but I owe him a lot. He took Fi home the other day. I can't help but feel that there is more to Kristian than he lets on. There is more to that dumb ass? asked Rin under her breath, scowling and pondering. With that, she held her books close to her chest and continued to class. During nutrition that day, Rin did not have a chance to ask Jin about being the pianist for her Jazz Band either. He seemed to devote his free time to searching for Kristian alongside Cory and Gary. Even though Rin never liked Kristian, she had to admit that the other two members of his group were devoted to him. Sighing, Rin decided that since they were working hard, she should too. She had to find her pianist for Jazz Band after all. Wandering around the football field where Kristian was last seen, Rin almost expected to see him still on the bleachers, sitting there with a long gaze on his face. However, there were only a couple of runners practicing on the football field. Rin passed by her band room when she heard a soft sound from inside. There shouldn't be anyone in the band room during nutrition. Curious, Rin moved closer to the door, only to find it unlock. How strange. Once she poked her head inside, she was shocked to find the sight in front of her. In front of the piano, Kristian was dancing his fingers against the keys like a pro. Rin stared mesmerized at the way his eyes moved along with his hands in perfect rhythm. There was no way this was for real, Rin thought. Kristian could not play the piano this well when he never showed any interest in music for the past two years. Surely, there was a perfect explanation for this. Oh, said Kristian, noticing Rin at last. It's Rin-chan. You... did you just... After this morning, said Kristian, smirking at her. I quietly snuck in here. I didn't feel like going to first or second period. How irresponsible, said Rin, closing the door behind her. Cory and Gary are worried sick about you. Everyone in school believes that Alejandro has done something to you, but of course, you're perfectly fine and slacking off for the heck of it. That's so like me, huh Rin-chan? asked Kristian with a teasing smile. Please tell me that wasn't you playing the piano, said Rin, almost begging. I play well don't I? asked Kristian, licking his lips in his usual manner. You should call me Kristian-sama. No thank you, said Rin distastefully. She went over to him. How long have you been playing the piano anyway? I don't keep track, said Kristian, shrugging. For a while now I assume. It's hard for me to believe your parents paid for piano lessons, said Rin, lifting a fine brow at Kristian. They didn't, said Kristian, amused. Mom knew how to play a bit of piano. Then, I found out Auntie was talented in the piano so I had a few starting lessons from her. From then on, I practiced enough by sneaking into various places. I even went into music stores to read piano sheet music and play later through memorization. That's impossible, said Rin, frowning. You can't do that. You probably don't know this, Rin-chan, said Kristian, pointing at his temple. I

have a photographic memory. It's pretty useful for a lot of reasons. That's hard to believe, said Rin through gritted teeth. You never do well in school. You always get into detention. And you rarely turn in assignments done by your own hands. That's true, said Kristian, snickering. Nevertheless, said Rin, regretting this already. You are pretty damn good at the piano for someone who never had real lessons. What can I say? Everything comes naturally to me. A natural genius, said Rin, despising the term from her own lips. Anyways, Rin-chan, said Kristian, waving her off. Leave me alone. I don't want to talk to anyone right now. I'm kind of not myself today. Hold on a second, said Rin, forcing a seat next to Kristian on the piano bench. I may not like you but are you really going to let this talent of yours go to waste? This natural ability to play the piano so well? Haven't I told you Rin-chan about this either? asked Kristian with a cocky smile at her. I'm perfect. I'm good at literally everything. Music. Sports. School work. If I pursue my musical abilities, I won't have any room for my athletic abilities and such. I have the opposite problem in comparison to stupid people. Poor me. I don't care, said Rin angrily. Join Jazz Band! Jazz Band? repeated Kristian, laughing in amusement now. You must be joking! You want me to come to school earlier than usual? In your dreams, Rin-chan! I knew you wouldn't say yes, said Rin, stepping on Kristian's foot without warning. The boy yelped helplessly. I knew it! But I tried anyways! I was so stupid to think that someone like you would be any less of a jerk! Rude like always, Rin-chan, said Kristian, recovering from the impact. I hate people like you, said Rin, getting up and leaving her back to him. I hate people like you so much. It's not fair for God to grant natural intelligence and abilities to some and not the rest of us. Rin hugged herself and felt the tears emerging. You don't understand how hard it is for normal people like me to deal with people like you. I have to work my butt off every single night to get top grades. You don't even have to work twice as hard to get the same grades! You don't even need to try! Rin-chan, said Kristian with wide eyes. You're not crying are you? I am not crying! shouted Rin, wiping her tears away stubbornly. It's just not fair. You are granted with this natural intelligence and all these other wonderful talents but you choose to throw them out the window instead. Do you know how much I would give to be in your shoes? If I have your intelligence, I might only need to read a history chapter twice to get an easy A on the test. Instead, I have to read a history chapter four times, five times, even six times to earn my top grade. And yet... and yet... you can really use this brain of yours to help find a cure for cancer but you waste it on partying in detention! You think it's easy being me? asked Kristian in a deadly, calm voice. Rin picked up her head at him. You don't understand for shit, Rin-chan. You want to have my brains because you're Miss Perfectionist. You want to earn the top grades. You want to go to Harvard and graduate with high honors. For me, I hate it. You... Believe it or not, said Kristian, dropping his head on the top of the keys. I envy people like you the most. It must be so wonderful to be normal... to have an IQ of around a hundred or so. There'll be less pressure on you succeeding. The more intelligent you are, the more people expect you to do the impossible. However, once you fail, people shun you a lot more. No one shuns you, said Rin fiercely. Everyone loves you. It's always Kristian this and Kristian that. It doesn't matter how much trouble you cause your peers and your

teachers because there will always be people who love you for it. What do you know? asked Kristian, glaring at her. You think people are laughing with me half the time? They are laughing at me! But I rather be laughed at for being a clown than to be a nobody... especially at home. At home? asked Rin with wide eyes. Forget it, said Kristian, turning away from her. What do you know? You have a family that loves and cares for you. They do everything for you in order for you to have this endless amount of time to study. It's true, isn't it? Well... said Rin, speechless. That's true... You know it's true, said Kristian, standing up now. It's kind of funny now that I think about it, Rin-chan. We've known each other for two years now and this is the first time we talked like this. It's not funny at all, said Rin, flushed out of anger. I went on a pointless rant. It wasn't pointless, said Kristian, coming up to her. Sometimes, I want to know why you hate me as much as you do. You are one of the few people who truly hate me. Now, I know why. It's because you're envious. That's not it! cried Rin, frustrated. It is, said Kristian, wrapping an arm over her tiny shoulders. However, just to let you know, if there were an option for me to give up my intelligence to you, I would. It's not worth it. You'll make better use of it than I ever can. One question, said Rin, lowering her voice. Why are you so against joining Jazz Band? Is it simply too much work? How do I explain this? asked Kristian out loud. Just go! cried an impatient Rin. Let's say that I want to create the number one album, said Kristian, facing Rin instead of standing by her side. My manager and my company know I have the potential and build it up through a debut concert, free downloads online, and even television ads. All of that hard work from both my people and I to make this album a success. Then, years later, my first album finally comes out. And? asked Rin, a bit curious. It lands second in the charts, said Kristian with a distant look on his face. When that happens, Rin-chan, don't you feel like something is sorely lacking in the first place? Even so, said Rin slowly, dropping eyes to the ground. It's another way of saying that you'll give up even before you try. It's pathetic, even for you. Is that so, said Kristian, laughing softly. Just curious, Rin-chan, when you wash the dishes, what do you wash first- the pots and pans or the spoons and forks? Always dodging the problem, said Rin with a roll of her eyes. Of course you wash the pots and pans first, but I rarely wash the dishes nowadays so I don't know. As if the answer brought a certain understanding to Kristian, Kristian moved up closer to Rin and admired her face. Rin was plain and simple in every way. She was not ugly by far, but her looks were average at best. Actually, this was the first time Kristian noticed that Rin had such a baby face. It was almost... cute. I might reconsider trying out for Jazz Band nevertheless if, said Kristian, leaning down and kissing Rin softly across the lips for a few seconds. Rin froze up with red cheeks. You go out with me, Rin-chan. You must be joking! After a quick slap to the cheek, Kristian gazed at Rin without blinking. He did not seem angry or annoyed at all. Rin glared at him but soon enough, her eyes softened since it was hard to stay upset at someone who appeared so at ease with himself. Kristian moved closer to Rin, who backed away, until they hit the door.

No joke, said Kristian, smiling pleasantly. Wanna go out? And with that, the bell rung, signaling the end of nutrition.