Prologue

Otherness— Black Hair

She arrived first for a reason. She could find her spot, sit there, and hope that no one would bother her. For the past ten minutes, that had worked well. Her luck had run out, though—she saw a girl, reddish-brown hair and almost electric aquamarine eyes, walking towards her, eyes moving, searching around the classroom.

This girl did pick the seat right next to Mai. There were easily ten or maybe even fifteen free seats, and she just had to choose the one right beside Mai. She sat down in the seat, afterwards opening her backpack and grabbing a notebook and placing it on the desk.

Her attention then turned towards Mai. “Hi. My name’s Kaiyle— are you new too?”

How did she know that? It couldn’t have been that obvious— some people liked to sit by themselves. Mai was now one of them. “Yes.”

Why wasn’t the curt answer enough to make her move? She stared down at the notebook, an almost blank expression on her face. She took a deep, slow breath, and then another. Her eyes then turned back to Mai. “Um…is something wrong?”

“Why are you sitting here?” There were still other open seats. Mai wanted to be alone. This girl was seemingly just not taking the hint.

There was something terrifying and knowing in those aquamarine eyes. “Well, we’re both new, so I guess I just…y’know…”

Mai tightened her jacket around her, zipping it further up. “I’m not here to make friends.” She wanted the diploma. That was it. Then she could get a full time job, leave, and never come back.

Completely disappear.

Kaiyle shook her head a bit. She almost seemed amused.

Why was this in any way amusing her? It sure wasn’t amusing Mai.

“Someone has to sit here.” Her head moved, presumably scanning the classroom for other open seats. “I promise I don’t bite.”

Unfortunately, she now had a point: this homeroom wasn’t an empty one, like Mai’s previous year in high school. Apparently this school shoved more students into each room. Right then, still five minutes before school actually began, there were only two open seats, both of which were around Mai.

“Fine,” Mai mumbled.

“So…” Mai had no luck today—Kaiyle apparently had decided that since she couldn’t move, she was going to make small talk. “What’s your name? Like I said, my name’s Kaiyle— or, well, it’s Kaiyleyn Amaru, but I go by Kaiyle.”

This girl really didn’t get how much Mai didn’t want to talk or even acknowledge her existence, did she? “Mai.”

“Well, nice to meet you, Mai.” Although it was faint, Mai was pretty sure there were a few ounces of sarcasm there. It was a bit of a bite—one that somehow seemed inappropriate compared to her almost-peppy demeanor moments prior.

Mai didn’t reply. She didn’t want to talk in the first place, and she wasn’t sure how to take the almost-not-quite sarcasm, so she stayed quiet.

She didn’t have long to talk either way—the teacher soon came in, had everyone give their short introductions, and then it was time for the actual classes.

Math was first. Kaiyle was in that class, apparently also an honors student.

Science was next—the brunette was in that class too.

Art was afterwards; as if acknowledging the somewhat-suspicious pattern, she was absent in that class.

To be fair to Kaiyle, though, she wasn’t the only one from Mai’s homeroom that was in many of Mai’s morning classes—a blonde haired-girl was as well as a black-haired guy and a few of his friends. She had caught the blonde staring at Kaiyle a few times, though said girl glanced away once she had been caught.

And apparently, being caught so many times had attracted said blonde’s attention, because as soon as lunch period started, Mai and her locker had a visitor.

“Hey, you.”

Sure, ignoring attempts at conversation hadn’t really worked with Kaiyle, but Mai was hoping it’d work for this blonde.

The blonde pushed Mai into her locker; a light stab pushed into her back, a slight scrape threatened to reopen a recent cut on her arm.

“What, you won’t even say anything? I just said something to you. Answer to it.”

What was worse—acknowledging her or being further pushed into the locker’s cold metal, possibly opening said cut under the worst case?

“Hey, what’s going on?” The same voice from this morning: Kaiyle. She moved between Mai and this blonde, separating them. She gave no hint of recognition to the other girl, though Mai saw an almost glare from the blonde. A small crowd had assembled—first day of school, so they were quick to give attention to any sort of drama.

“I wasn’t talking to you. Get out of the way.”

There was some type of coldness in Kaiyle’s eyes—that same bite as earlier, but intensely more hostile. “I’ll pass.”

When—and how—had Mai become not only some type of damsel, but one that seemed irrelevant to the current situation that had somehow started with her?

The blonde’s lips pulled to a slight smirk. “You’ll regret pissing me off.”

“Somehow, I’m willing to call that as a bluff.”

The blonde left, crowd dispersing when all the entertainment had ended.

Mai lowered her eyes. “I didn’t need help.”

“Mm. But she was just being a bully, and it was stupid.” That was somehow the most basic and unhelpful explanation ever.

Epilogue
Chapter One

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