Our story so far: Allison is an American high-school student who has transferred to a private prep school in Japan. Her first day was disorienting; she was delayed getting to class by a mysterious stranger, and then the entire class flew into a frenzy when the oblivious teacher uttered the phrase “transfer student”. Half the class dove for cover, while the other half fought to be the first to befriend her. She is sitting between Ruchia, a pretty, friendly girl, and Seiji, a brooding boy with a penetrating gaze, who says a lot of dramatically mysterious things. Seiji believes Allison is a demon, not a killer robot as his friends theorize.
If you would like to read from the beginning, the entire story is here.
Allison climbed out of bed, still groggy. She dressed and gathered her resolve for the ordeal of breakfast. Finally she went into the kitchen. “Good morning!” she said, trying to sound cheerful. The effort was wasted. Her “uncle” sat at the table, silently reading the newspaper, his eyes invisible behind the reflections of the fluorescent lights in his glasses. Her “aunt” was moving about the kitchen, timid as a mouse, afraid to break the silence imposed by her husband. Allison had been there three weeks now, and she didn’t think she would ever get used to living in that place.
“Thank you for the food,” she said when her aunt set breakfast in front of her. She ate in silence, reading one of her textbooks. Before she was finished her uncle rose abruptly and left the kitchen. From the next room she could hear the chatter of a keyboard, punctuated by mouse clicks.
“I wonder if he even has a voice,” Allison muttered. Her aunt looked at her sharply, but said nothing. Allison was only too happy to leave early for school. It was an ordeal of a different sort, but at least people spoke there. The other students seemed suspicious of her — wary, even — but she had read that the Japanese were slow to accept outsiders, and a few of her classmates were very friendly.
This morning Allison heard the skateboard wheels approaching in time to dodge Daisuke. He sailed on past. Allison wondered once more if he was trying to run her over. He certainly made no effort to avoid a collision.
She kept an eye out for the mysterious stranger who had helped her that first morning, but she had not seen him since. Oh, well. There were enough other mysteries to keep her mind spinning.
“Well, if it isn’t little Miss Transfer Student.”
The blonde girl stood, blocking her path, flanked by a pair of dark-haired girls Allison assumed to be identical twins. “Hello, Kano,” Allison said. “Hello, uh…” she wondered if the other two girls even had names.
“Hello yourself. I demand to know what you are doing here.”
“Yes, that’s right!” the twins said, their voices sharp and birdlike. “Kano is right!”
Allison wasn’t quite sure how to answer that. She had been getting hostile looks from Kano ever since her first day. “I’m just here to study.”
“Ho! Study! That’s a good one!” The other girls laughed. “Now listen. I’m the most popular girl here. I can bury you.”
“Kano’s right! She can bury you!”
“I don’t understand…”
A bookish girl that Allison saw in class every day appeared at her elbow. “You broke her record.” The girl opened her journal with ceremonial dignity. “Four nosebleeds when you walked into class, one of them a gusher. Kano got three, and one of those was borderline. The record before that was two, more than fifteen years ago.”
Kano glared at the other girl. “You can’t count the one when Rei dove under his desk. He probably just hit his nose on something.”
“Doesn’t matter, you know that; a nosebleed is a nosebleed. Allison caused it.”
“Kano’s right! That’s ridiculous!” the chorus chimed in.
Kano turned back to Allison. “Just remember your place, Miss Transfer Student, and we will get along just fine.” She spun in a pretty little huff and walked away.
The other girl was closing her journal with reverence. “Yomiko,” she said. “My name’s Yomiko.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Yomiko.”
“It might have been five.”
“Nosebleeds. Things were confusing; I couldn’t confirm Shinta’s.” Yomiko thought for a moment. “It would be better if Kano accepted the inevitable.”
“That you’re going to be more popular than she is. If she keeps acting like that she’ll turn into a cow or something.”
“Yomiko, can I ask you something?”
“Am I having some sort of bizarre dream? Am I in a coma somewhere, hallucinating?”
Yomiko looked at her carefully. “I hadn’t considered that possibility.” She opened her journal and made a note in it. Coma? Check hospitals. She hesitated and added, Check morgues also.
They were almost to the academy when Yomiko broke the silence. “It’s going to be an interesting year,” she said.
It was still a few minutes before the start of class. Seiji was huddled with some of the other boys, but Allison could feel him watching her. She shuddered. Then Ruchia was there, smiles and sunshine, and Tasuki with her happy-go-lucky energy, and Allison relaxed. Just another day at school.
“Have you decided what club you’re going to join?” asked Tasuki. “You should join the tennis club, with me.”
“No, you should join the drama club,” Ruchia said. “You’d be great!”
“Well, actually, I thought it might be fun to try the fencing club.”
“Fencing! Do you know how?”
“No, but it seems like it would be fun to learn.”
“Fencing?” asked Seiji as he took his seat. “You can’t be serious.”
“Well, I am.” Allison said defensively.
Seiji’s reply was sarcastic, but there was something else there as well, probing. “Are you expecting to get into sword battles?”
“An interesting choice,” said a girl Allison had not met yet, “requiring discipline and dedication. Yes, that resonates well with you.” It was the girl who had decided where Allison should sit. She stood now, tall and thin, but there was something feline about her posture, a jungle beast always ready to spring, even when sleeping. Her eyes were steady and cold.
Allison remembered to bow rather than offer her hand. “It’s nice to meet you. My name is Allison.”
“Yes. Arrislawr Crlensharwl,” she imitated the teacher’s pronunciation perfectly. “My name is Hitomi.”
“Are you in the fencing club?”
“No, I prefer different weapons, but perhaps we can drill together.” Was that a fleeting smile? Allison wasn’t sure; it was gone almost before it arrived. “I think you will find the leader of the fencing club to be… interesting. Please be sure to do your best.”
“I’ll do anything if it will keep me out of my house for a while.”
“Is it that bad?” asked Ruchia with concern.
“They never say a word. He spends every moment on his computer, and she brings him food.”
Ruchia and Tasuki exchanged glances. “White Shadow” whispered Ruchia, then said, “Oh, well, hey, maybe you should come over to the old monastery tonight. We can have dinner and study together.”
“Really? That would be great!”
Seiji made a slight choking noise.
Hitomi nodded. “You would be most welcome.”
“You live there too?”
Allison looked up and noticed that the lecture had started. She shook her head, wondering if she was going to learn anything at all.
The Emergency Committee convened for their daily briefing. As usual, Kouta took charge.
“So, Seiji, have you gotten a look at her teeth yet?”
Shinta nudged him playfully. “Maybe you should try being nice to her, dude. She’s a lot more likely to smile, then.”
“You don’t know what you’re asking. She’s pretty, and she’s nice, but…”
“I think Seiji’s got a crush on her!”
“Are you crazy?! She’s a Transfer Student!”
Bando nodded solemnly. “Methinks he protests too much.”
Kaneda spoke for the first time. “Listen, Seiji, if you’re not going to be nice to her, then it’s up to one of us to step up. For the safety of the school, I hereby volunteer to make friends with Allison and make her smile.”
“Hey! I was going to volunteer!” Yoshiki said.
“This is not a job for those who hesitate at the critical moment, Yoshiki. You hesitated, and I stepped up. This is a job for Kaneda, the master of love.”
“You?”, said Yoshiki, “Master of love? Don’t make me laugh.”
“You sure you don’t mind, Seiji?” Kaneda asked.
“Why should I care?”
Kouta nodded. “All right, then, it’s settled. Kaneda will be nice to the transfer student.”