Fixing issues with spacing as of Nov 4th, 2015. Please be patient.

This story is inspired by Hana Yori Dango aka Boys Over Flowers manga.

The alarm's blaring whine echoed in her ears and after a gentle stretch of her body, she opened her eyes.. With a groan, she slowly sat up and allowed the alarm to continue its screams. On top of her were dirty clothes as she didn't have the strength to clear off her bed before she had gone to sleep that night. Of course, that only consisted of throwing the clothes on the floor with the rest of her laundry. Where her blanket was still remained a mystery to her. Although, she was certain it was somewhere under the mounds of clothing. How she had come to own so many shirts was beyond her.

Her eyes searched the small studio apartment. There was a small kitchen next to the door. It wasn't really a kitchen it was more like a sink with two counters and a mobile electric burner. Her bed was four feet away from the front door and the small bathroom for one was above her head. The toilet ran constantly and she had gotten used to the sounds as she slept.

There were no table and chairs as her apartment was filled enough with the bed and the large stacks of books she kept. She knew that behind some of the stacks was a sliding glass door that led to a small patio. Being on the first floor, she was one of the few in the small complex to have one. She never used it and had stacked the books in front of it because she couldn't afford curtains to keep out wandering eyes.

After a moment, she realized that her alarm was still screeching. The walls were thin and she knew that her neighbor must have been awakened by it, as he pounded on the wall.

"Get up, Madison." His tired voice called. "Get up."

"Sorry!" She yelled and looked around the room for her alarm. It was no where in sight and she had to follow the sound to a stack of clothes. After digging through it, she finally found the electronic alarm with red numbers and hit the off button. "How did it get in there?" She asked herself as she stared at the device in her hand.

"You probably threw it off the bed." Her neighbor's voice said from behind her.

Still on her knees, she looked over her shoulder at him with a grin. Alan was tall with black curly hair and light green eyes. He claimed Spanish ancestry, which had been made apparent during the last summer. He had tanned so darkly from his normally pale complexion. She always thought he was cute enough, but considered him a close friend. They both had suffered so much hardship to get to where they were.

Both were sophomores in college, though they went to different schools. Alan was attending a community college in hopes that he could transfer over to a university once he graduated. He worked a full time job and a part time as well. His family needed his financial support, so he never had time to stop.

Madison, however, went to a small elite college called Cerulean Harbor University. There were no more than five hundred students who all had parents that came from high society. Each and every one of them had millionaire and billionaire parents. Madison had gotten in on a scholarship that was given out to one freshman every year. Everyone knew that she was the "charity scholarship" as they liked to call her. The small school still felt like high school, and with the students able to pay off the teachers and make donations to the school, most got away with murder.

"Sorry, Alan." She said again as she stood up.

"Don't worry about it. I needed to get up soon anyway." He sighed and leaned against the door frame.

"How much sleep did you get?"

"Four hours."

"Want some coffee?" She pointed to her a small four cup coffee maker.

With a shake of his head, he answered her. "Get dressed for school, I'll see you for dinner." He turned to leave then looked around briefly, "Where is the cat?"

Madison looked around the room, "I haven't seen her in a couple of days, but her food is being eaten. She must be in here somewhere."

He chuckled, "Well, I don't smell anything rotten. Maybe she made a fort out of some of your clothes." With another laugh, he exited into the hallway.

She watched him leave then locked her door, she had forgotten to do so before she went to bed. Going to the bathroom, she stepped into the shower. There was no tub, just an upright shower that fit one. Madison had a thin frame, and for her, it was a tight squeeze into the bathroom.

When she stepped out, she brushed her blonde locks that looked exactly like her mother's. Once dried, they were loose curls, but she always made a French braid to keep her hair out of the way. Pulling on some blue jeans and a shirt, she gathered her books into her backpack and headed out the door with a banana in hand.

With no car, she had to take several buses to school. There were no bus stops near the school itself, so she had to hike the two miles to get there after the bus dropped her off as close as possible. Leaving early to make the long trip was the worst part of her mornings. However, there was nothing she could afford close to the school.

Working for a little over minimum wage, she had enough trouble paying for her daily expenses and rent. It always seemed that when she had a little extra saved something came along to steal it all away from her. A teacher would want them to buy a special book for class or there would be a heat wave that would increase her electric bill. She would often tell Alan how unlucky she was and he would rub her head with his hands. Afterwards, he would say he was rubbing his good luck on her, even though she knew fully well his hardships.

If it hadn't been for Alan, things would have been a great deal worse. She always cooked dinner for them as he got home so late. They would quickly eat dinner together, before he ran off to his part time job. He worked so much harder than she did, and none of it seemed to bother him. He was always in good spirits and never turned her away when she needed someone to talk to. In the year that she had known him, she had never seen him angry. Of course, that made her wonder if he was in fact hiding his true emotions.

The university was beautiful. No building made it past the twenty year mark, as new students' parents would often donate new buildings. Flowered bushes framed every part of the school, and there was a large garden in the back complete with a koi pond. The students were dressed in Chanel, Armani, and other luxury clothing lines. Diamonds and gold were everywhere and each student was dropped off by a chauffer. Every morning felt like the Academy Awards to Madison. She would always sit against the fence and watch as all these beautiful and rich people make their way onto school grounds.

After she was done making herself feel worthless, she would walk in. In the summer months, she would often be dripping with sweat, but it was almost spring and there was still a cold chill in the air. She had told herself to bring a sweater, but had forgotten. It was too late to go back by the time the cold nip hit her. As always, she wore blue jeans and a black shirt. She looked out of place in such a school, and she always felt like she had dressed casually to a formal ball.

This place never felt like a college, it was set up to feel like what the students were used to. So, it was a repeat of high school, but with a strange set of classes. Everyone knew everyone else, because of their family names. In this place, people made business acquaintances that would carry out for the majority of their lives. Madison was known only as the charity student and was therefore a target of harassment. She had thought that when she entered college, she could leave all this behind, but it hadn't been so. In fact, it was worse.

Making her way to her locker, she sighed. She couldn't believe she still had to use a locker in college, as the teachers would throw a fit if you brought too many books to class. There were also no locks on them, only guards who stood in the hallways to protect the locker and the students. Not that the guards would know whose locker belonged to whom. It was apparent by the way something was always waiting for her within it.

Opening the locker she was greeted by the usual sight: a fake snake that was positioned to fall onto the ground when she opened the door, and a small box of candy. There was always some weird gift in the locker that she was certain was part of the joke. Picking up the snake and the candy, she threw them both away in a nearby trash can.

"Fucking childish." She mumbled under her breath.

There was no doubt in her mind that the students were trying to run her out of the school. It should have been four "charity scholarship" students that attended school every year. However, her junior and senior classmates were run out of school in their freshmen years before she arrived. Though, she had befriended the new freshmen, she knew that her friend was well on her way to transferring out. Madison refused to bend to their demands. She had been bullied all through her school years. There was nothing these people could do to her that she couldn't handle.

After being stripped naked at her senior formal in front of the entire senior class, being dumped into a trash can, and having all her books set on fire, these people were merely amateurs at bullying. Although, they were much more frequent, as if they had nothing better to do with their lives. Knowing that she couldn't fight them because she didn't have the resources; that they did things to make her go away; Madison just let it happen; never said a word and just continued on her way.

Even though she never acknowledged them, as it seemed to only make things worse, they weren't the kind of people who would leave their wants unfulfilled. Her staying in the school was an annoyance that they just couldn't let go.

"Snake and candy." A voice said as she threw away the latest trick.

Madison smiled up at her freshman friend, "Hey, Bri."

Brianna was such a beautiful girl. She had long, straight black hair with milky skin and a beautiful angelic face. Madison would never admit it, but just seeing the beautiful girl always made her day. Brianna was a little better off than Madison as well. They worked at the same café together, but Brianna was able to go home to her parent's house and eat their food and not top ramen.

"You know, they never put candy in my locker. Are you sure it's not a secret admirer?" Brianna giggled.

Her laugh and smile always brought a slight grin to Madison's face. It was rare for the blonde to show much emotion. Brianna called her the coal. She told her that she was hard, dark, and emotionless, but deep inside she knew there was a diamond. It was a nickname that Madison didn't care for at first, but over the past three months she had gotten use to it.

"It's not an admirer, and if shit like that shows up in your locker throw it away. I wouldn't put it past these assholes to poison us."

Brianna gave a solid nod, "Aye, aye, captain."

"I'm serious, Brianna. No one here is your friend and no guys here would ever want to date us. We are weeds in their rose garden."

Her milky face lost some of its light, "I know, Coal. I guess I still have hope for acceptance."

"The only acceptance you could ever get is if one of these people decide to take you as a pet. Trust me, that's not the kind of acceptance that you want."

She nodded, "I'll see you at work." Brianna began to walk past her.

Madison grabbed her arm to stop her, "I'm your friend though. You can always rely on me to be there for you. Just remember to stay out of everyone's way, and you'll be fine."

Brianna grinned, "I will and thanks."

Madison began to gather up her books.

"Don't you have a jacket or sweater with you?" Brianna asked.

She shook her head, "I forgot it."

Putting her books on the floor, Brianna pulled off her gray sweater. Underneath was a blue shirt. "Here." She offered it out to her.

"I can't take your sweater, then you'll be cold."

"I have a jacket in my locker." She shook the sweater at her, "Take it or I'll force you to the floor and pull it on you myself."

Madison chuckled and took the sweater, "Thanks."

"See you at work." Brianna said as she picked up her books and skipped down the hall.

Brianna and Madison didn't see much of each other during the day. They had only met by chance when Brianna had witnessed trash being dumped onto her. After everyone had left, she had helped Madison in removing all the trash from her hair and clothes. Madison had noticed that her helper had the employment classifieds and informed her of the café job. That café was where they spent most of their time getting to know each other. Both worked such long hours that they almost never got together outside of school or work.

The college worked more like a high school than a college. A major had to be set and everyone took the same classes. Since Brianna was an accounting major and Madison was psychology, they never had the same classes. Though, she did see many of the same faces throughout the day. She mostly spent her time with other science majors while Brianna spent her days with the mathematicians and business majors.

At lunch, Madison ate her peanut butter and jelly sandwich on some stairs behind the school. No one ever came through there, so she was relatively safe from the bullying. Brianna, who had her lunch a half hour before her, would often leave notes there for her to read. They always told of the bullying that she had gone through the first half of the day.

Brianna was a sensitive person and just wasn't able to understand why these people had to be so cruel. Madison didn't truly understand it herself, but knew that Brianna had to vent out her frustrations in order to finish the rest of the day. She always told her that if she hadn't been there, she would have left the school after the second week.

"Hey, you're Madison Knox, right?" A male voice asked.

Madison, who was sitting against the white wall, looked down the stairs at the group of people. She was well aware of who they were; a group of six students who were called "The Rags." The other students had named them as such because they were the poorest students in school. Of course, they were still millionaires and most had new money that their parents had just come into. Because of that, they were outcast from the general population and looked down upon.

Madison sighed, "Yes, I am. What's it to you?"

The light haired, thin boy smiled. He wore a black turtle neck, and Madison was certain that he was not a science major. Of course, she knew that the art and music majors had the same lunch time as the science students. "I'm Charles Emerson, and this is…"

"I don't care, what do you want?"

Everyone stood silently as a gentle breeze blew over the scents of the nearby garden. The group of four males and two females that looked to be in shock at Madison's reaction.

"We should have expected that." Charles said.

Madison had thought he would add something about expecting rudeness from the poor, but he didn't add anymore.

Again he smiled. "You just always look so lonely. We eat over by that big tree there." He pointed off in the distance towards the garden. "We always see you eating lunch here by yourself. So, we thought perhaps, you would like to join us during lunches. You are a much easier target for harassment when you are by yourself."

"Get lost." Madison snorted and went back to her book.

They didn't leave, instead they all sat down on the stairs. Some had tray lunches from the cafeteria that offered high quality food. Madison spent in two weeks for food what one of the lunches cost in the cafeteria. Others had lunches brought from home, but it was often lobster and caviar.

"My parents are gone for the weekend. We should have a get together." One of the girls said.

Everyone made noises of agreement.

Madison knew well enough that a get together would include formal attire and high end food. It wouldn't be just friends watching movies and sharing stories. Shaking her head, she tried to ignore them. There was no way in hell that she was giving up these staircases to these rich brats.

"Oh, you know what we should do?" One of the boys said.

"Go back to wherever it was you normally have lunch, and leave me the fuck alone?" Madison snapped.

All eyes turned to her and one of the girls laughed, before they returned to their conversation; completely ignoring her demands. Standing up, Madison sighed in defeat and began to pick up her belongings. She had only eaten half of her lunch, but decided to study in the library and eat the rest of it on her way home.

"We are just trying to be your friends." The girl who laughed at her before said as she stood up. Her light green dress was pushed to the side by the breeze along with her light brown hair.

Madison looked down at her with a frown, "The kind of friendship you would offer, I can live without." With that she opened the door that led into the building and walked inside.

"What a bitch."

Charles took her hand, "Don't judge her, Winnie. We have all seen what she has gone through. Is it really any surprise that she doesn't trust our intentions are sincere?"

Winnie shook her head, "You're right." She sat down beside him. "She always looks like she is about to cry… I just didn't expect her to be so rude."

"She has to guard herself." Ian, one of the dark haired boys, said. "I expected we would be met with resistance."

"What are we going to do now? Just let her have her space?" Erica, the other girl, asked.

Charles shook his head, "If we want to show we aren't just playing around, we have to keep coming at her."

"I don't get this shit. What does it matter?" Ari asked. He had been against this all along, and didn't particularly care for the idea of a poor girl among them. "If she became part of the group, they would only target us more. I say let her make her own choice. We reached out our hand, and she slapped it away."

Charles was about to respond, but Drew began to speak first. "Just because we get our hand slapped doesn't mean you continue to let someone jump off the bridge."

"You know…" Erica grinned, "Isn't she friends with that other charity scholarship?"

"That's what I heard." Winnie responded.

"I bet we could make friends with her. It's still her first year; she might not be so jaded. And through her, we could make friends with Madison." Erica smiled proudly.

"Excellent idea." Charles patted her shoulder.

"Fuck! What does it matter?" Ari snapped before he stood up from the stairs and walked away from the group.

"What's his problem?" Drew asked.

"Ari is just being Ari. He doesn't understand doing nice things for people."

Erica clapped, "I can't wait! Two new girls in the group. I wonder if they'll let us dress them up!"

"They aren't dolls, Erica." Ian barked.

"No, they are girls. What girl doesn't like dress up?" Winnie giggled.

Madison walked through the main court with her books in her backpack, except for the one that she was reading. There was a test coming up next week and she wanted to be prepared. Even though she normally scored at least an eighty percent when she didn't study, it wasn't good enough. She never accepted anything less than a ninety five percent on her tests and homework. Anything less and she felt that she had failed herself somehow. There was no one pressuring her to be the best or to try harder, so she had to do so herself.

Looking up briefly from her book, she noticed another group standing near the large tree that Charles had pointed out moments before. She recognized the group immediately. They were the five richest kids in the school. The girl never looked like she was welcomed; she was always hanging on one of the members. The four males were all popular among the female classmates, and even though Madison was aware of their names, she didn't know who was who.

One of them was dressed with a black leather jacket with his long curly hair pulled back into a ponytail. She always thought he looked like he had come out of an eighties movie. Two were dressed like preppies with khakis and white button up shirts and sweaters tied around their shoulders. The final one, whom she was almost certain was the group's leader, had longer brown hair that stopped near his ears. He always looked like he had rolled out of bed, except that his clothes were always very nice. Slacks and a button shirt similar to his other two friends, but somehow he always looked like he was on his way to a business meeting. She decided that it had to be the vest that he always wore.

As she gave a brief glimpse, the boy in the black leather jacket looked over at her. She never really looked at their faces before, but he looked a great deal like one of the boys she had met on the stairs. With a shrug, she turned her eyes back to the book she was reading. There was no time to care about those morons who thought they ran the entire school. She stayed out of their way and they never bothered her before.

A hand flew in front of her face and knocked the book down. Looking up, she recognized the boy. Thomas Perkins was on the basketball team and was running for student council that year. He had been the first one to pick on her the first day she arrived. Opening her shirt up, he had dropped an egg in before smashing it against her chest. The boy never let up, and whenever he saw her there were consequences.

Madison silently cursed the group back at her stairway; she had avoided Thomas for over three weeks now. With a sigh, she bent over to pick up her book as she did so she felt the foot on her hip. It shoved her down and her elbow rubbed against the fabric of her sweater, but also the stones that made up the courts walkway.

She didn't say a word, just grabbed her book and stood back up. There was already a group forming around them, and she knew that Thomas was worse when he had an audience. This wasn't something she was just going to be able to walk away from, but she tried anyway. He grabbed her book and shoved her backwards onto her behind.

Again, Madison stood up. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the four boys by the tree had come into the large group forming. It didn't matter to her, she was certain that they had witnessed at least one of her hazings before, everyone had.

"You just don't get it, do you, Knox?" Thomas growled.

He could have been considered handsome if he wasn't so cruel. He was tall, well built, and when Madison had seen him smile innocently at a girl, he looked just like a little boy.

"Well, do you?" He growled.

Madison kept quiet and stood still in front of him. She was tall for a girl around five ten, but still thin even though she was tough and could take a great deal of punishment. Being on the swim team and other sports throughout her school years had given her the edge she needed to take the bullying she received.

"You don't belong here. Your presence makes us ill." Thomas barked.

She felt her hand had something wet on it, and when she lifted it up she saw blood that must had dripped down from her elbow. Putting her hand down, she looked at the book that Thomas was holding. If she asked for it back, he would know it was important to her then like tear it up or keep it. Licking her lips, she stood silently and waited for him to finish.

Thomas shoved her again, and again she fell to the ground only to stand back up. Four more times she was knocked down, and each time she got back up. Until Thomas pushed her down and put his foot on her thigh.

"You're so pathetic, Knox. You won't even stand up for yourself." Thomas spat in her hair and reached down towards her. More pressure was applied to her thigh as he grabbed her sweater and ripped one of the sleeves.

Stepping back he grinned at his handy work, "Maybe, I'll just rip your clothes off. How about being naked in front of a crowd of your classmates?" He stepped forward to reach for her other shoulder.

Madison lowered her head and sighed.

"That's enough, Thomas." A voice said as a shadow fell over her.

She looked up to see the boy wearing black leather jacket standing in front of her.

"Arion, she doesn't belong here. Don't you want her out of here?" Thomas asked.

Reaching forward, Arion pulled Madison's book out of his hands. "Yes, but not like this. That's one step away from rape, and I won't have it." He looked around, "Everyone go back to what you were doing."

The group dispersed and Madison stood up, only to realize someone had opened her backpack and pulled out the contents. With a deep sigh, she took the backpack off her back and began to pick her books and items off the ground. Arion dropped the book he had taken from Thomas in front of her.

When she was finished putting everything away, she stood up to face the group of four boys and the single girl. "It's polite to thank people when they help you." The girl said.

Looking at the rip on the shoulder of her sweater, she sighed. "I didn't ask you to help me." With that, she walked towards the library as if nothing had happened.

"How rude!" The girl yelled at Madison as she walked away. "I'm going to give her a piece of my mind."

"It's alright, Kate." Arion said. "She's right. She didn't ask for help."

"What made you help her?" Darick, the group's leader, asked.

He shrugged, "Like I said, it was one step away from rape. I don't like that." Arion picked up a book that was left on the ground. It was a contact book. Opening it up there was an 'if found' notice that gave a phone number. "See you later." He said as he walked towards the library where Madison had just exited.

"Where are you going?" Grady asked.

"Giving her back this." He held up the small brown book as he continued to walk away.

"Wonder what's gotten into him." Brad asked, "He was never the type to get involved with other's affairs."

"I don't know, but I don't like it." Darick said, his eyes looked almost jealous as Arion walked away.

Madison sat down in a quiet, grassy area near the library. She pulled off the sweater to see the damage that had been done. Blood covered the same sleeve that had been ripped. Setting the sweater aside she checked her elbow. She knew that the side of her thigh and her other hand were scrapped, but there was no blood.

Her elbow looked like a bomb had gone off. She was certain that she needed to go to the hospital for a few stitches, but with no insurance it wasn't possible. She sighed, "Not only is Brianna going to kill me, but I am going to bleed over everything all day."

Her contact book appeared in front of her face. Following the hand up, she looked at Arion's face. He always looked like he was angry and about to tell someone off. Yet, there was an unquestionable handsomeness to his expression and a hint of kindness hidden behind his dark brown eyes. "You dropped this."

Madison took it and threw it on the sweater.

He stood for a moment, "Ah, that's right. You didn't ask me to bring it back, so I don't get a thanks." He put his hands into his jacket pockets, "See ya around."

"Thank you." Madison said as he turned to leave.

He stopped and looked over his shoulder, "No problem." He watched her return her attention to her wound.

"I've got an antibacterial wipe and a band-aid. Want them?"

"Why do you have that?"

He chuckled, "Darick gets into a lot of fights. We have all gotten used to carrying around first aid kits." He pulled out a small hand held first aid kit from his pocket. Walking over to her, he kneeled down and took her elbow in hand. "That's pretty deep. You probably need stitches."

"Stitches cost money and going to the hospital will waste time."

He looked up into her face, and Madison realized that his eyes weren't dark brown at all, but a deep blue. Somehow, they appeared so much darker. "Well then, we have no other choice do we. Nothing a band-aid can't cure."

Madison chuckled, it had been the first time she had laughed in a while. She watched him as he used the wipe to clean away the blood, then he gently blew on it to dry the area for the band-aid.

"You are staring at my face, it's making me nervous." He told her.

"Oh sorry, you look like a boy I talked to on the stairs. His hair was shorter though. I thought maybe he could be related to you, but he hangs out with the Rags."

"Ah, my twin brother, Aries."

She cocked her head to the side. How was it that one twin was friends with the elite students, while the other was friends with the outcasts.

Arion grinned, "Done."

Looking over his work, she pressed her lips together. "Thanks."

"He got kicked out of the group for kissing a girl that Darick liked." He said, "Darick is very possessive of girls that he just has crushes on. He's never even admitted to liking a girl, but that cold, dead stare is always a give away. Unfortunately, Aries didn't see it with this particular girl." Arion stood up.

"How did you know I was wondering that?"

He grinned, "You are easy to read." His eyes went to the sweater. "How much did the sweater cost? I'll give you…"

"It's alright." Madison stood up and picked up the sweater. "It's my friend's. She gave it to me because I forgot mine at home. Besides, you aren't the one that ruined it. You don't have to pay for it." She folded it up and put it into her backpack.

"You sure? She'll probably want to be paid back for its loss. She's the other poor girl, right?"

She turned her eyes to him with confusion.

"I know who both of you are. The two girls that won't leave. You both should think about transferring out of here before this school eats you alive."

Madison frowned, "Oh, I see. Act nice to me then slyly threaten me. All you people are the same." With a roll of her eyes, she began to storm off.

Arion caught her hand, "Here use my jacket. You can give it back to me tomorrow."

"I don't want to use your jacket."

He continued to take it off anyway, "I didn't ask if you wanted to, I told you to use it." He placed it around her shoulders, "Besides, having to give it back to me, means I'll have a reason to talk to you again." With that he walked away from her, leaving Madison shocked by his words.

As she walked out from behind the library, she saw Aries sitting on the stairs by himself. Walking over to him, she laid the jacket beside him. He looked surprised at first, but didn't say anything.

"Can you give that back to your brother?"

He nodded, "Why do you have it?"

"Ask him." Madison mumbled as the bell rang telling them that lunch time was over.

"He rescued you!" Brianna chirped as they walked together to the café, "How romantic!"

Madison rolled her eyes, "Not really."

"All those boys are so hot, and rich, very, very rich." She squeaked. "Which one is Arion?"

"The one who looks like he is from an eighties movie."

She laughed, "No one from an eighties movie has long hair, besides he wears slacks and button up shirts, it's just the jacket." She looked up into the blue sky, "It would have been so cool had he carried you away, and…"

"Ok, that's enough of that. I am regretting ever telling you now."

She chuckled, "He's the best looking one."

"What do you do, stare at them all day?"

"They never go to class, but their names are always on the Dean's list, but they are always standing around the court near the garden. Even during my lunches, I sit nearby. The blonde one with the long hair, Brad, I think. He smiles and winks at me sometimes." She sighed.

"You're crazy. Oh!" Madison opened up her backpack and pulled out the sweater. "They ruined it. I'm sorry, I'll replace it."

Brianna took the sweater and sighed, as they passed a trash can she threw it inside. "Don't worry about it. It's not like you are the one who ruined it. Everyday I go to school I know there is a chance my clothes will be destroyed, and that chance remains even when you have the clothes. I knew it was possible." She smiled, "Besides, with your financial situation, I wouldn't want to put any more strain on you."

"I am very sorry."

"I don't wear anything to school that I want to keep forever. So, don't worry about it." She sighed as they walked up into the shopping district near the school.

They both hated working in a place where they would often see their schoolmates, but the eight dollars an hour was the best the two college students could do. Besides, it was the only place that would work with their time schedule.

"I want a boyfriend so bad, don't you?" Brianna finally said.

"I don't have time for myself, let alone another person."

"That's true. You can never come to the movies with me." She picked a leaf off a tree as they passed by the fenced in plant on the sidewalk. "One day, we'll have to find time to hang out outside school and work. Right?"

Madison nodded, "Sure."

"This spring break, maybe?"

"Well, I have to work as much as possible during spring break."

Brianna frowned.

"I'm sure I can find time for a movie or two."

Her smile returned, "You are so great, thanks!"

"You get excited over the dumbest things." Madison shook her head.

"What's wrong with me being happy that I get to hang out with my best friend?" She stuck out her tongue, "All my other friends from high school went off to their own colleges. I don't have anyone." Playing with her fingers she continued, "I had hoped I could make friends at school, but so far only you."

"Only me, eh? That makes me feel loved."

Brianna giggled, "I didn't mean it like that. You are too sensitive." She smacked Madison's shoulder.

The café was in sight. There was a large patio with outdoor tables and an over hang to protect the customers from the sun. Madison would work a full eight hours, while Brianna would normally work four. However, for the next two weeks she had been assigned to six hours a night.

The café's specialty was coffee, but it served a wide variety of food and beverages. It was famous for its pies and people often came just for desert and coffee before bed. As they stepped inside Fran, the owner smiled at them. She was an elderly lady who had run the café since she inherited from her father forty years ago.

"There are my girls." She said.

Brianna and Madison were two out of three girls that worked in the café; all other employees were males that worked in the kitchen or behind the counter. Except for the one male waiter that worked during the day when the girls were at school. It was never busy during the mornings; people normally only wanted coffee to go. Since there were no breakfast entrees, Fran didn't need much of a wait staff. Fran refused to hire another waitress, even though they desperately needed one during the evening. Though, Madison didn't mind too much, it only meant she would have more tips. Brianna, on the other hand, was exhausted after only four hours, when another part time waitress would take her place. The first few weeks of spring, the café was always incredibly busy. People seemed to be in the mood for the seasonal pies.

The two girls went into the back and changed into the black slacks, white shirts, and green aprons before heading out to the front to wait for the customers to start flocking in.

An hour before Brianna was suppose to leave, the group of four from the court appeared. She nudged Madison to get her attention, and Madison asked her to take the table for her. She not only didn't want to work the table, but she was helping Fran with problems with the cash register.

"Hello." Brianna said with a smile as she walked over to the table, "Welcome to Demitasse Café." She laid the menus down on the table. "Would you like to start with some drinks?"

"We want that girl to wait on us." Darick pointed at Madison.

Brianna looked over at her friend, who was still helping Fran. "She's busy right now, but I can take your drink orders and let her know that you want her services."

Darick's eyes were cold as he looked at her, "What's good here?"

"Do you want a cold drink or a hot one?"

"We will all just take your best black coffee." Brad smiled and winked at her.

Brianna grinned back, "Alright, I'll have that right out."

Brad smacked Darick's shoulder as the girl walked away.

"Ow, what the fuck?"

"I've been trying to get that girl to talk to me for months; don't fuck it up for me." Brad growled.

Grady rolled his eyes, "Why do you insist on playing with the poor?"

"Because once I'm done, you just throw money at them and they go away."

"Why the hell do you want that girl to wait on us anyway?" Brad asked.

Darick glared over at him, "Bitch didn't even thank Arion for his help. The least she can do is serve us tonight."

Arion shook his head, "He's lying. He's been given me his jealous glare ever since I got back from talking with her."

"I have not." Darick crossed his arms.

"Just like Darick to want what Arion has… always been that way." Grady laughed.

"Shut up." Darick barked over the noisy sounds of the café. "It's not like that at all."

Arion leaned back in his seat, "She's just a poor girl. You can't possibly want anything to do with her."

"I said it's not like that, so drop it." He barked.

A coffee cup appeared in front of him, and Madison sat the rest of them down from her tray. "Have you decided what you'll be ordering?"

Darick grabbed the menu and starting flipping through it. "We… well… I…." Darick began.

"What's good here?" Arion asked.

"It's all passable; we are famous for our pies. Are you guys hungry or just snacky?"

Darick snorted, "Snacky isn't a word."

Madison didn't respond; she didn't even look at him.

"We haven't eaten dinner yet." Grady told her.

She nodded, "Well, as I said it's all passable. Take a look, and I'll be back in a moment."

All but Darick started to laugh when she walked away. "Did you hear that idiot stutter?" Brad asked. "We… well… I…"

Arion chuckled, "I've never seen you at a loss for words, Darick."

"Fuck off. Pick something to eat."

"She isn't very friendly." Grady said after a moment.

"Neither is Darick. They're a perfect match." Brad chuckled.

Grady noticed the smile on Arion's face faded when Brad spoke those words, but he didn't say anything. He saw trouble ahead and knew he would have to speak to his friend later in private.

"Hey, boys, make a decision yet?" Brianna asked with a smile.

Darick glared up at her, "The other one is helping us. We don't need you!"

She rose an eyebrow, "Alright, she was busy and asked me to check on…"

"Go away!"

With a quick twist Brianna walked away from the table, and the guys laughed at their friend. Darick would never admit to liking anyone, he didn't even admit to liking his own best friends.

"Alan!" Brianna jumped towards the front door. "Madison, Alan is here!"

The group of four that were seated near the entrance looked at the tall man that entered into the café. Darick's eyes went to Madison who was standing behind the counter and gave a soft smile when she saw him.

She made her way over to him and he gave her a gentle hug as a greeting, "What are you doing here?"

"I got laid off from my part time job. So, I thought I would walk you home." Alan told her.

"Aww, that's so sad." Brianna said.

"Well, I don't get off for another two hours and…" She looked at her watch, "forty five minutes. Bria gets off in forty five though."

"Then I will walk her home, and come back for you. That alright?" Alan grinned as Brianna clapped her hands.

"So blatantly cheating on me and asking for my permission too? I don't know if I should be thankful or insulted." Even though Madison was joking, her face remained without emotion.

Brianna laughed and smacked her shoulder. "Well, you have forty five minutes to kill."

"Need me to run any errands?" Alan asked.

"I need milk and bananas." Madison told him.

"Sure thing." He turned his attention to Brianna, "I'll be back for you later." He winked.

Brianna pretended to almost faint, "I can hardly wait."

"You two are just silly." Madison said.

"I still love you." Alan joked and kissed her forehead.

Madison rolled her eyes, "Now, you're creepy."

"Hey!" Darick yelled, "We are ready to order."

Walking over to the table, Madison looked at him, ready to write down what he ordered, while Brianna said goodbye to Alan.

"I'm not ready." Grady told her.

"Neither am I." Arion added.

Madison frowned at Darick, "Do you want to order before them?"

"No, I'll wait."

With that she walked towards another table.

"Hey, dark haired girl." Brad said.

Brianna, who was waving goodbye to Alan, turned to face them. "My name is Bria."

"Did he ask that?" Darick snapped.

"Ignore him. He is cranky when he hasn't eaten." Brad said with a smile and Brianna nodded. "Was that light haired girl's boyfriend?"

"Alan? No, he's her neighbor. They've been close friends since she moved next door to him." She had out her pad for writing down orders.

"Oh, he kissed her, I thought he was." Brad leaned back.

"No, he's just a big flirt. Why do you like her?" Brianna joked.

"Oh no, but someone at this table does."

Brianna giggled and looked at Arion, who was wearing his black jacket. "Oh right, you saved her from a mob today. Thank you for that."

Arion didn't say anything, just nodded. Any words would add
fuel to the fire that was burning inside Darick's mind.

"Do you want to order now?"

"No! Go away!" Darick yelled.

Brianna looked a little shocked, but seemed to shrug it off as she walked away.

Madison waved goodbye to Fran and waited outside the café for Alan to return. Brianna lived a half hour away by bus, but it took twenty minutes to walk to the bus stop. It still gave Alan an extra twenty minutes, but knowing Brianna she most likely wanted to talk and keep him held up. The tables and chairs that were kept on the patio were all brought inside, and without a jacket she had to warm herself with her own arms.

"Alan, hurry up." She mumbled. "I'm cold."

"That's because you didn't keep my jacket." Arion's voice said as the jacket appeared around her shoulders.

"I don't want…" She went to remove it, but his hands stayed firm on her shoulders to hold it on. "What are you doing here?" She asked when she had given up.

He came to stand beside her and looked across the street, "We did some shopping and I am waiting for the others. We said we would meet back here."

She put her arms through the sleeves of his jacket. It was too big for her and she felt like a little girl wearing her father's clothing. "How long does it take you people to shop?"

"You people?" He rose an eyebrow.

"Yes, you and your group."

He shrugged, "I don't know what Darick's up to, but he didn't want us coming along. The others wandered off to do their own things, so I am just waiting here."

"You guys keep showing up in my life today."

Arion chuckled, "I was thinking that same thing about you."

They both stood in silence, as they waited for their friends to appear.

"Maybe it's fate." He suddenly said.

"I don't believe in fate." She grumbled.

"So, you think everything is just a coincidence?"

She looked over at him with a somber look upon her face, "If there is such a thing as fate that means that we don't control our own lives. That no matter what we do or where we go, something out there will put us where it wants us. That means there is no freedom. We don't get to choose our friends or our lovers. It's all pre-decided."

Arion stared at her, not sure what to say.

"Some people like the idea of fate, because that means we are destined for a true love or that there is a reason for our existence. They often forget that it removes our own wills from the equation. It's a romantic idea to think there is such a thing as fate and destiny, because if two people are destined to be together that means no one else can come between them. However, such a thing also means that no matter what we have no choice. No decision we ever make was on our own, because fate forced us to make that decision. I don't know about you, but I don't like that idea one bit." Madison turned her eyes back to the empty street.

"I never thought of it that way. Perhaps some things are destined and others are just coincidence." He cleared his throat.

"Or perhaps, we make our own decisions based on the situations and people that just happen to come into our lives. Sometimes those decisions are right and sometimes they are wrong, but no matter what we should learn from them and become better people."

Arion grinned, "I knew you would be a deep person. Always having your nose in a book, you had to be a deep thinker."

"Always having my nose in a book? Are you watching me?"

"Whenever you coincidentally walk into my life, yes." He chuckled.

"You are a weird person."

"Why is that?"

She shook her head, but decided to tell him anyway. "You say things that make it sound like you are trying to tell me that you like me, then laugh it off. I'm not sure if you are attempting to hit on me or just tease me."
"Hitting on you." He laughed.

"See you did it again."

"Hey, light haired girl." Brad said as he and Grady made their way over. "Darick still not back?"

"Nope." Arion responded.

"I'll call him." Grady said and grabbed his cell phone from his pocket. He walked away from the group to make the phone call in private.

"Still waiting for your boyfriend, eh?" Brad asked.

Madison wasn't in the mood to discuss what her relationship with Alan was. "Yup." Her response caught both Arion and Brad off guard.

"Oh, the dark haired girl said he wasn't your boyfriend. I was just trying to tease you." Brad cleared his throat.

"It's none of your business what my relationship with him is." She pulled off the jacket and handed it back to Arion, "Thanks, but I don't need it anymore."

Before he could argue, she dropped it in front of him and walked off towards the bus stop. Alan would figure out that she went home.

"Darick has his eyes on her. You need to chill out." Brad told him.

"He didn't want her until I gave her some attention. It's just like all those toys he took from me when we were kids." Arion snorted.

"No, it's not. He's been keeping people from getting really mean at school since like her second week." He looked over his shoulder as she walked away. "He's just acting now because he's afraid that you might make a move."

"What? How can he be serious about her?"

"I don't know. I told him that it would never work. His parents would never accept a girl with her background, which is probably why he hasn't done anything up until now." Brad folded his arms as Arion put his jacket back on.

"Up until now? What does he have planned?"

Grady snorted as he came to stand beside them, "Do you think we came here by coincidence? Darick followed her from school one day. I've never seen him so interested in a girl before. Even the ones he liked before he would just leave it to fate for them to meet."

"Yeah, I think he might be serious about this one. Pity that with her background she'll never have a chance to be anything but a quick fling." Brad leaned against the café door.

Arion swallowed, "Why do I have to kneel to him? Every last one of us has given up on a girl because he thought she was cute. Why do we let…"

"We come by girls all the time. Once in a blue moon does Darick actually likes one. The man hasn't even kissed a girl before, and he wants to make a move on this one. Just let him have her and keep your distance. It's not like your parents would be anymore accepting." Brad put his hand on his friend's shoulder.

The tension in Arion's body released, "Fine, whatever. I swear though…" He sighed, "never mind."