Chapter 2:

I Meet Some Fellow Geeks

Josō! A Girl's POV!

Back in the classroom. Sensei hasn't gotten back yet - but then, neither have half the class.

Hina's sitting next to me, tapping out the tune to some pop song with a pencil against her thigh.

The guy in the back corner - Issey - was staring at the wall. He didn't seem to have moved at all since Sensei asked what he was interested in.

He'd said, "Mind your own business, old man."

Of course, that was a mistake. Rule number one of surviving high-school: good first impression with your home-room teacher. I guess HE thought he was an exception to that.

"Remember who you're talking to, Tomiko." Sensei replied. "This isn't a private school where your parents can simply bribe the governors to give you good grades." He turned to everyone else. "That goes for all of you. I'll be grading you based on performance, not how much your parents can offer me."

The backhand mention of parents hurt me. Hina and I had put in our application that we were orphans. "Get a grip." I thought to myself. "He didn't mean YOUR parents specifically, it was a general comment for the whole class."

One of the girls near the front - Yumi - stuck her hand up. "Are you suggesting you think we're already failures, sensei? That we'd need to have our parents bribe you into giving us grades rather than earning our grades?"

I let a breath whistle through my teeth. Damn, these kids were asking for it.

Sensei, for his part, took it calmly. "Of course not. It's merely a fair warning - I don't allow those who don't put the effort in to pass."

Things got a little more cheerful after that. Sensei told us to get to know each other better, and everyone started moving around.

A couple girls walked up to Hina and they started talking about girl stuff. I didn't pay attention and just sat at my desk, planning the best way to deal with a boss fight I'd gotten stuck on in a videogame.

I hadn't put much time into my hobbies recently, what with of Hina's coaching. Still, I wasn't complaining. I'd be able to survive through high-school without anyone knowing it was MY face Inei and his gang of air-heads had stuck all over the internet.

And - I hardly let myself dare to think it - I was starting to enjoy looking like this. The guys that walked past me at lunch called me a 'cutie', which is their way of saying they think I'm hot. It was embarrassing, but if all it took to turn heads was a skirt and some eyeliner, then I could be lethal.

"Hanamura, come here a moment." Sensei said, looking at me.

I shut my laptop and walked over to him, making sure I did it the way Hina showed me. 

"What's the matter, Sensei?" I asked.

"You don't seem to be socializing." He said.

Is that all he was worried about? I didn't even need to lie to explain this one. "I've never been very social." I told him. "That's why I'm so good with computers - I understand them better than other people." And they're less likely to betray you than another human is. I couldn't even completely trust Hina. One wrong move and I'd be busted.

"Hmm." Sensei grunted. "Well, perhaps you just need to find a kindred spirit - someone who doesn't like to follow the crowd, someone who doesn't fit in with the others."

He stood up. "Follow me." He led me out of the classroom, through a maze of twisting corridors, across a courtyard filled with flowers, to a dark room with with a sign on the door, saying:

                                                             Computer Suite

                                                     No food or drink allowed

Sensei opened the door. Inside were around twenty computers, each with the logo of the company that made them somewhere on the casing.

Only four computers were occupied. Three guys, one girl. The first guy was short, with broken glasses taped back together. The second was taller, but still shorter than me. He wasn't fat, but he wasn't skinny either. The third was tall and muscular, the kind of guy I'd expect to see doing sports, not sat in a room with a bunch of geeks.

The girl was - as far as I could tell, my height. She had ginger hair, which I found unexpected. That was a really rare color.

Sensei walked in with me shuffling in behind him. The first guy - the one with broken glasses - waved.

"Hey, how are you, Sensei?" He asked.

"Not bad, Kimura." He said, pulling me out from behind him. "I've come to introduce you to Hanamura. She's antisocial, so I thought it was best for her to be among a few similar people."

I managed a small wave. Holy crap, this was terrifying. Why couldn't Sensei have just left me with my laptop?

"Nice to meet you, Hanamura-chan! I'm Toshiro Kimura, though most people just call me Toki." Wow, this guy sure was energetic.

The second guy walked over, holding his hand out. He was average in every appearance. "Hi. I'm Akio Fukuda."

Next up was the tall guy. As he got closer I could see the muscles in his arms bunching together, winding up like a coiled spring. "Gushiken." His arm was stiff, like he had a rod hidden inside his skin.

"Oh, don't be so stiff, Kenji!" Toshiro said. "You'll scare her."

I blushed and ducked my head. Dammit, he was a better judge of character than I thought.

The girl stayed where she was, hollering over her shoulder, "I'm Akane Takahashi."

Well, they were all friendly enough, in their own way. The least I could do was TRY and make a good first impression.

"Hi..." I managed to say. This was harder than it looked. Toshiro started laughing.

"I knew you'd have a cute voice!" He gasped. "The minute I saw your face."

Kenji grunted. "What was it you were saying about ME scaring her? You're the one laughing at her."

So Toshiro and Kenji had some sort of frenemies thing going on... They liked to mess around with each other. That could prove quite a combo if they worked together rather than against each other.

"Alright stop it, you two." Akio said. So he was like a barrier between Toshiro and Kenji.

"Ugh, boys. Always so loud..." Akane grumbled. She didn't seem to have a place in the rest of the group dynamic. She was a useless cog in the machine, not contributing to making it function, but there nonetheless.

Sensei turned back towards the door. "I'll let you get settled, Hanamura."

"Wait, what about my stuff?" 

"Don't worry. I'm sure your sister won't let anyone steal your laptop."

"Oh... Uh, okay, if you're sure..."

My first day didn't change much after that. I spent the whole time in the IT room, getting to know Toshira, Akio and Kenji better. Akane always seems to be really busy, but she also has a sixth sense for when people try to sneak up on her.

I'll leave it at that for now, since Hina and I are about to reach our train stop.