The bus ride into town felt oddly long, yet very short. For Matsuba, it seemed to not last long, almost making him wish they could've seen more of the city before they had to disembark off of the bus ride and make the last leg of their journey to school. They rarely left their more rural village, but Natsume took up this high school for the sake of her tennis career and Matsuba knew he'd wanna go to high school in the city, no matter how far it was!

For Natsume, however, the ride felt incredibly long. There were knots in her stomach as they rode on the bus. She couldn't understand why she felt so unsure. Maybe it was because she didn't get in as much training as she wanted to over the break. As she glanced over at Matsuba, however, she quickly realized it was more because she was concerned for how well Matsuba would take to this new high school. But she held back from voicing these concerns to him, one-part out of respect for him and one-part because she knew he'd try to reassure her and tell her she had nothing to really worry about anyway.

"So, there's Amanogawa High School." Matsuba gawked as the duo started to make their to the gate of the brick-and-mortar building. They were in a sea of various students, Matsuba adjusting his glasses as he looked around at the various students that they were passing or were racing to pass them. Friends reuniting again, rivalries sparking up, even love letters being exchanged. This was just the first day and it was already wild!

Natsume nodded as she said, "that's right. Amanogawa High School is something of a prestige school. Or, at least, it's got a reputation for churning out some pretty good students of various specialties. And due to it's location, it's also insanely popular."

"Location?" Matsuba raised an eyebrow.

"Most people would pick a high school that's closer by due to the necessary commute. It's not uncommon for people to go out of their way for high school-we're examples of that since we took a bus from out of town." Natsume explained, "but in the city, it's divided into districts, but people going here are from various other districts. For some, it's as easy as a walk. For others, they need a bus or a cab like we do."

"Okay," Matsuba nodded as they began to approach the steps, "I'm following ya." Matsuba looked away from Natsume, just in time to see a pair of students on the steps, one having her hair in a brown ponytail, and the other's hair a striking red color and cut in a bob.

"Hey! Natsume~ Over here!" The redhead called; Matsuba was quick to recognize her as Hiroko Kitamura, remembering how Natsume described the friends she met through tennis. Which would mean the brown-haired girl was Yoshimi Sakaguchi.

Natsume waved back to Hiroko as she answered the call with one her own. "Hey! Hiroko! Yoshimi!" She quickly bolted over to her friends, but once the toe of her shoe took made that first CLICK on the step, she quickly realized in her haste that she left Matsuba alone completely in her dust! She cringed, but there was no stopping herself now, her body was in full motion! Once she caught up with her friends, she asked, "so, how were your breaks?"

"Ugh! The worst!" Yoshimi whined, "I had to help out at the fishing business and couldn't get any training done with how tired I was."

"Oh, you poor thing~" Hiroko sang, anything but sorry. "If only you had an Aunt like mine who could get your a professional trainer and help you with your sad serving skills~ Shishishsi~" Yoshimi grit her teeth, ready to punch Hiroko in her smug face, but Hiroko quickly asked, "so what about you, Natsume?" She asked as Matsuba started making his way up the steps. "And who's the girl shadowing you?"

A shiver went up Natsume's spine; if there was one thing that she knew that would get under Matsuba's skin was anyone bringing his manliness into question. It was something she knew he couldn't help; he had a rather lithe build to him and softer features around his face did make him come across as rather androgynous. Even his voice tended to sound a bit softer than most guys, but Natsume thought the male uniform would dissuade anyone from making that mistake.

She slowly craned her head back to look down at Matsuba, seeing the biggest grin plastered onto his face. "Yo! I'm Matsuba Watanabe!"

(Oh God, he's pissed!) As upbeat as Matsuba is, he only gave a smile that big when he was boiling with anger. She never thought her friends would get along with Matsuba, but now she was positive Matsuba hated them! (He's gonna try to get back at her, I know it! He's never gonna let this go!)

"Araki-Senpai here was just showing me the way to school!" He quickly said, his big grin on his face as he started to make his way inside with a few other students.

Yoshimi raised an eyebrow, "so, is he, like, a Freshman or something? Don't think I've ever seen that guy before."

Natsume quickly cleared her throat as she regained her composure, "uh, yeah. He's my neighbor in my village." (Oh my God, he called me Senpai! I never knew just how badly I wanted someone to call me that!)

"Oh, that explains it!" Hiroko giggled, "I hope he doesn't get attached or something. He looked like a total creep with that big ass smile." Natsume shot a glare at Hiroko, but she didn't seem to really notice her displeasure. "And did you see that tacky skull charm he had on his uniform?" Yoshimi could see the fire in Natsume's eyes, taking a step away from Hiroko as Natsume slowly raised her arm into the air. It cut through the air like lightning as the palm of her hand gave a crisp smack over the seat of Hiroko's skirt.

SPANK!

"Yow!" Hiroko squealed, jumping onto the toes of her shoes as he hands quickly went to cover her smarting ass. "Natsume, the hell?!"

"Don't bad mouth my b-Kohai!" Natsume quickly caught herself from saying 'boyfriend', her face contorting into an icy glare. In a mere instant, the quick heat in Hiroko's butt was replaced with a sudden cold spell that left Hiroko and Yoshimi frozen in place.

"I-I see you haven't lost your 'Snow Queen Stare', Natsume..." Yoshimi mumbled.


The process of being assigned his classroom wasn't too bad, Matsuba thought. It wasn't really any different from his first day of Middle School-just that he didn't have Natsume there to walk him through it. As his face began to relax and he made it to his classroom, Matsuba made a horrifying realization:

(How do I...make friends?)

Talking to people seemed to much easier back in Middle School! Maybe it was because he had Natsume by his side to give him that small bit of reassurance, or maybe it was because a Middle School in a small town meant that you knew almost everybody already, so making friends was all the easier. But whatever the case was, he felt that he was completely isolated and alone as he stepped into the slowly filling classroom. Dammit, he didn't wanna go through the entire year as some nobody with no friends!

He made his way over to a desk as he wondered if he should approach someone or not. But seeing people talking in small groups and taking up desks, he quickly realized cliques were already naturally forming and if he tried to force his way in, he'd be thrown out! Or maybe even be labeled as weird! (It's okay, Matsuba. Just mind your own business and people will come to you.) As he sat down at his desk, he quickly popped open the bag he lugged with him. (In fact, if you start doodling something, people might be interested!) He took out a pencil and a black, hard-cover sketchbook and set it down on his desk, flipping the book open to an empty page.

With a pencil in hand, Matsuba quickly began sketching. His hand was incredibly fast as he traced his pencil lightly over the page, getting down the first image that came to his mind. When it came to sketching, he could usually get something down on paper rather quickly.

"Whoa, that's hot."

Immediately, Matsuba wanted to crush his pencil with his hand as he ended up drawing a woman in a bikini. It was a just a sketch, but he didn't hold back depicting the woman's mature curves and how her bikini top seemed to struggle to hold in her impressive bust.

(Dammit, I was thinking with my wrong head!) Matsuba thought, (what if that's a teacher hanging over my shoulder?!) He looked back, thankful to see someone in a school uniform identical to his. He had a buzzcut; grey eyes looking over Matsuba's sketch work in amazement. "Did you do this free hand? That's awesome!"

A smirk slowly curled onto his face, a hand resting under his chin, "oh, yeah. It's no big deal for me."

"Oh, wait!" The student gawked, "she looks familiar! Is she...Eri Komoto from Detective Ami?"

Matsuba blinked in astonishment as he said, "y-yeah! That's exactly who she is!"

"No way! Another Detective Ami fan?!"

"That's my line!" Matsuba gawked, "that show was canceled back in '95! I didn't think there were any fans of that old show!"

"You kidding me?! I've got the entire series on my pops' VHS!"

Matsuba's jaw dropped, "impossible! That's gotta be, like, 125 episodes and 4 movies!"

The student smirked as he said, "well, believe it!" He extended a hand to Matsuba as he said, "nice to meet a fellow fan! My name's Yoichi Kiyotake."

(Well, there are weirder ways to make friends!) "Matsuba. Matsuba Watanabe!" He eagerly started to shake Yoichi's hand, "pleasure to meet ya!"