“Oh wonderful,” Serena says as she boards the bus. “School. I didn’t just have an amazing summer to go back to school.” She looks around the bus for a place to sit. There are certain rules to this whole thing. If you sit in the front, people think that you are one of those teacher’s pets. If you sit in the back, people are constantly screaming and yelling curse words out the window. But the middle isn’t exactly safe either. So where exactly should she sit?
People are eyeing her now. They’re wondering who she is. Serena touches her long knee-length hair self-consciously. She knows she looks pretty good for her first day of school. She spent extra time getting ready this morning, making sure she showered for longer than usual (her mom got kinda annoyed at that one, but she let it go since Serena will now be living in the dorm) and she put on makeup this morning – which she didn’t do in middle school but now she does, considering she’s in junior high. Then she realizes maybe her Asian features are something that isn’t really seen in France. Well…it’s not her fault she had to move all the way from Japan. Her mom, who’s head of a big technological company, got promoted and had to move to headquarters here in Paris, rather than working at the branch in Japan.
“Can you sit down, please?” the bus driver says. “We need to get to the academy.”
The other kids go back to doing what they were doing before. Serena walks down the aisle and looks for either an empty seat or someone to sit with that won’t punch her out as soon as she sits down. Then her eyes slide across another Japanese girl. She can’t believe how lucky she just got.
“Um…konnichiwa, can I sit with you?” she asks, trying to get the Japanese girl to trust her by speaking some of their native language.
The Japanese girl, who ignored Serena before, looks up at her. “Are you just trying to speak Japanese because I am?” she asks harshly.
“No!” Serena is quick to answer. “No, that’s not it.” She places her hand on her chest, like she’s emphasizing that she’s talking about herself. “I’m Japanese too. It doesn’t look like it because my hair is purple, and I use a lot of eyeliner to make my eyes look bigger…but I’m Japanese too.”
The other girl looks out the window again. “Sure, I guess.”
“Ikeru,” Serena says, sensing she’s getting a little bit farther into getting the girl to trust her. She sits down on the seat and stares at the back of the seat in front of her. After ten seconds, she’s got to say something. “So, um, I’m a new student here,” Serena says.
“Really,” comes the reply, not sounding enthusiastic at all. “I didn’t notice.”
This makes Serena kind of mad. “You know what? All I want to do is start a conversation with you. I’m not usually very outgoing but I have to make new friends sometime. And you’re being a meanie jerk and it’s annoying, and you’re just PLAIN BAKA!!!!” Then Serena starts spouting off exactly what this baka girl is, all in Japanese so she can’t get in trouble for saying some very compromising things.
Everyone on the bus is looking at her. They have no idea what she’s saying, but they guess it’s got something to do with how angry Serena is at the other girl. After five straight minutes of yelling, Serena calms down and looks at her, breathing very heavy from hardly even taking one breath that whole time. “So,” she says. “I’m Serena. What’s your name?”
“I’m Yumi,” her newest mortal enemy says. “I’ve gone here for the past year. I’m a freshman…are you in 8th grade?”
“Yeah,” Serena answers, acting like nothing happened at all. “I just moved here from Kyoto. I lived near the Katsura River.” That’s actually an understatement. Serena’s house was almost on the edge of Katsura River. She used it to teach herself how to swim. Luckily her soul sister Yami Serena and Yami Serena’s twin sister Diana, who is Serena’s best friend, were always there so she didn’t drown, and when she did do something stupid, like leave her underwear on under her bathing suit, they were always there to tell her about it. Yeah, Serena actually did that once.
“That’s a pretty place,” Yumi comments. “I moved from Tokyo. I live at home after school.”
“You go all the way back to Japan every afternoon?!” Serena asks in shock.
“No, of course not!” Yumi shrieks. “I have a house in Paris. I just go back to that. Like all these other people on the bus – they live at home because they can’t pay for a room in the dorm or because they want to stay with their families.”
“Oh,” Serena says, relieved. “I’m just coming on the bus because it’s my first day. I’m going to live at the dorms.”
“In that case,” says Yumi, “you should meet my friends Odd, Ulrich, Jeremie, Aelita, and William. They’re in the 8th grade too. Aelita is sitting in the seat behind us. She’s an exchange student from Canada…and we’re hosting her.”
“What?” asks another voice, higher and already cheerier than Yumi’s, even though she’s only said one word. “Were you guys talking about me?”
“Yeah,” Yumi says. “We have a new student. She’s from Japan too. She just moved here from Kyoto and she’s going to be living in the dorms.”
“When are they going to be done finalizing my dorm room?” Aelita whines. “It’s been like forever, and it’s really not that hard to put it into the computer.”
“Soon,” says Yumi, sounding like she’s said it a million times before. “Soon.”
“Are you good at computers?” Serena asks.
“Yeah!” Aelita chirps. “I’m really good at computers! I know all about Java and Flash and everything! And guess what? I just found out what a cupcake is!”
Serena raises an eyebrow. “You never had a cupcake?” Yumi gives Aelita a death look, and Aelita immediately shuts up. Yumi laughs. “What a crazy girl. They don’t have many cupcakes in Canada. She used to be allergic to them – but she grew out of it. So we gave her one this morning and she loves them now.” Aelita nods. “Yup, that’s how it went.”
Serena is having some serious doubts about these people. She can’t be friends with someone who’s never had a cupcake. Oh well, Aelita just had one this morning so it’s not that big of a deal. And that’s when the bus creaks up to the school. Aelita takes her bag and gets out of her seat. “Come on, we’re here.”
Serena stands up and starts moving down the aisle. When she reaches the sidewalk, she waits for Yumi and Aelita and then notices two girls walking down the street toward her. “Hey Serena!” they call together, waving their hands. One has wavy black hair in a high ponytail and big gold eyes, sporting a pair of black flared pants and a short-sleeved striped-slash-black on the sleeves hoodie with a black tank top underneath. The other has short shoulder-length blue hair and a blue dress: kind of dressed up for Kadic, but it looks nice on her. You can tell the one with the black hair is the kind of girl Yumi is: mostly quiet and sarcastic, and that the other one is a happy and cheery kind of person.
“Yami Serena! Diana!” Serena calls. They run up and hug each other. Well, it’s mostly Diana and Serena hugging and Yami Serena being forced to hug them. When they stop, they see Yumi and Aelita standing off a ways. They’re waiting for Serena.
“Who are they?” Diana asks. “Are they your new friends? Did you already make friends on the way here? I knew it. You’re such a shy person…but you can be really nice when you set your mind to it.”
“That girl in all black looks a little shady,” Yami Serena comments.
“I wouldn’t be talking if I were you,” Serena says, looking over Yami Serena’s mostly black outfit and black hair.
“Hey, this is fashionable black,” Yami Serena tells her. “She just looks like she bought a sheet of black construction paper and wrapped it around her.”
Diana and Serena roll their eyes. “Well,” Diana says, “time for school!”
A meow sounds from her messenger bag. “What was that?” Serena asks warily.
“Um, nothing,” Diana says, but she’s blushing big-time. Serena forces her way into Diana’s messenger bag and comes out holding her black cat, also named Diana. She stares at Cat-Diana with huge eyes. “Why is she in here?”
“I was lonely!” defends human-Diana, looking very desperate and flustered. “OK?! Just leave me alone, I wanted her to sleep in my room tonight, and when I told her I couldn’t bring her, she looked up at me like Puss-In-Boots in Shrek 2, with the big eyes and everything, and it was very tempting!”
“Where would we be if Washington gave in to temptation not to cross the Delaware River?” Serena shrieks, afraid someone will see Cat-Diana and order her all the way back home.
“Still here,” Yami Serena chips in. “We live in Japan, remember? Or France, now.” Serena rolls her eyes. And then she sees an older boy coming over, eyeing her cat. “Hide her, now!!” human-Diana screams, but he’s already seen cat-Diana and he’s speeding up toward them.
“I figured something like this would happen,” Yami Serena says nonchalantly.