Chapter One: Appreciation
Snow drifts towards the brunette, her head covered by a hat that faintly resembled cat ears. Her numb fingers were tangled in her hair in nervousness, watching as everyone rejoined their friends after a two week break
She could barely gather what her older siblings had said before disappearing into the throng of high-schoolers, claiming that they were going to meet up with some old friends they kept in contact with.
The bell rang, the sound drifting through the courtyard and causing her to jump as well as catching the attention of the students.
"Nat, just breathe. High-school isn't as bad as you think."
"Yeah, it's worst."
"Ow! I'm just kidding, sis!"
She clenched her eyes shut, taking a deep breath of icy air before nodding, gaining enough confidence to force her body to move towards the flow of students, practically blending in and becoming part of the crowd.
She walked through the hallways as the students went to their lockers, getting their needed materials or just going to meet up with some friends they didn't get the chance to do when they were in the courtyard. She swore she even saw a couple making out in the shadows of the lockers.
Holding back her disgust and ignoring the extreme show of affection, she continued to scan the halls, not noticing that she was walking straight into another person.
It took her a few seconds to get over the shock of the situation but when she finally did, she picked up the scattered papers and books, stacking them each other while apologizing frantically.
"Hey, it's okay." A male voice said, cutting off her string of, possibly annoying, apologizes.
"No, it's not okay, Cunningham! The girl just crashed into you!" The way the other voice said that made her glance up, peering at a short redhead who's face held a spark of excitement. "I think you should do something about this."
She wasn't exactly sure what he was hinting at--maybe a date or even a kiss--but there was one thing she was sure of. It's almost like these two had never been touched by a girl before...
Her eyes glanced over at the boy she knocked over, her own green orbs meeting sapphire blue ones that caused a blush to rise on her cheeks. As she snapped into real life, she realized he was asking for his books back.
He cut her off, probably noticing that she was going to start another round of apologized. "Hey, no issue," he reassured, taking the books that she passed to him, her slowly getting up before she gave him a hand up. "Anyway, my name's Cunningham. Randy Cunningham."
He gave her a sly wink, causing the blush on her cheeks to rise and her head to feel dizzy.
"Um, I-I'm, ah, I'm Nat."
"No last name, Nat?"
She mentally smacked herself in the face. Stop embarrassing yourself in from of the cute boy! As she thought her blush was going to go away, it came back once more, brighter than ever. "Sorry, my last name's Walker."
He raised an eyebrow, sharing a glance with the short boy before the redhead opened his mouth to speak. "Well, I'm Howard, the better one of this small duo."
She let out a small chuckle as Randy sent Howard an "I'm done" look, feeling slightly better about their humor... Although she wasn't sure if they were trying to be funny. The one-minute bell rang, her head snapping up in panic. "Hey, do either of you know where Mr. Bannister's class is?"
They shared one of their loos again before turning and nodding in unison, reminding her strongly of the devil who made it his life goal to make her feel horrible and his sister.
"We have him so we can show you," Randy answered, both turning with Howard taking the lead. After a few turns, Randy fell into step with her.
"So, Nat, why are you in Norrisville? Hasn't your family heard about the monster and robot attacks?"
Her steps faltered slight as she stopped, him taking a few steps before noticing that she had stopped. He turned to see her clenching her hat to her chest, her head bowed down. "H-Hey, I-I'm sorry! I--"
She let a chuckle, which later turned into full-blown laughter. "Randy, this could be an... Interesting friendship." He furrowed his brows, ignoring Howard's calls for them to hurry up.
He watched her with worry, her words registering in his mind but he made no connection between his previous words. "Huh? Yeah, I guess that we could be an odd trio."
Her lips curled up even more as Howard's words finally reached them. "Come on, you shoobs! Mr. Bannister is going to throw his shoe at us!"
Nat scurried forward, walking in step with Randy to the red-faced redhead. "What took you guys so long?" Suddenly, his eyes widened like he had gotten a mind-googling thought. "Ah, you two were already talking about going out on a date?"
"Ha!" Randy snorted, rolling his eyes, "You wish! We were talking about you being a major shoob!"
Howard gave him a humorous disapproving look. "So what? I'm a shoob?"
"What about being a pervert?"
"I'll never admit to that! Never! It ruins my chances with the girls!"
Nat instantly noticed how they seemed to be in their own world, blocking out anything but each other. It was cute.
They made it class before the bell rang, the boys creeping towards their seats as she stood cautiously by the door, her attention glued onto the tall, intimidating teacher.
"Um, hi!" She squeaked out as he slammed the drawer on his desk shut.
He glanced up at her, weirdly stern, before a large smile came onto his face. "You must be the new student." All eyes turned to Nat, who attempted to cower behind the flag post. "Everyone, we have a new student!"
She peeked out from behind the post, another greeting squeaking out of her at everyone's gaze. "Come on, introduce yourself."
"Um, hello, I'm, ah, Nat Walker."
"Walker?" The teacher pondered, "That name reminds me of that little brat who used to egg my house with her two friends."
A slight worried smile was on her face. "Um, I'm sorry if my last name brings up any negative memories," she moved from behind the post and standing up with what she could only describe as false courage. "It's very common."
"Hm," he didn't exact seem sure, "please take a seat in between Mr. Cunningham and Ms. Fowler. Those two students, please raise your hands."
Randy and a girl with toilet hair that she hadn't met before raised their hands, Nat moving towards the free seat between the two. After she sat down in the wooden, uncomfortable desk, she pulled out her old Language Arts notebook. Once she realized that she was ahead in her other school. she started to draw pictures of her old new house.
Nat's morning classes had went by with ease, seeming as she was mostly ahead of the other students but it didn't really bother her. She enjoyed having all that free time.
Out of the total of seven classes that she had, she only had five with Randy and Howard, something else she didn't mind. Right now, it was lunch and she was simply wondering the halls, trying to memorize the layout of the school. She had looped around the main hallways twice and was now memorizing where all the back-halls and shortcuts lead her. The hall that she was in would lead her locker. A giant robotic snake crashed through the walls and lockers, slithering in from of her. A feeling of fear crawled into her as it glared down at her, scanning her body. She stay still for a second before turning and bolting down the hallway, a shriek of panic escaping her as the she heard the robot jolt and slam through the floor. Her heart pounded in her chest as she was knocked off of her feet, flying through the air as the robot erupted from the ground like a gopher. She landed harshly on her back, a groan slipping through her lips as a foul smell entered the air."Smokebomb!"Her eyes blinked at the blurry figure of black, a red scarf flapping beside him. Nat's hands met the floor as she pulled herself off the floor, touching the sore spot on her backside. She winced. Turning back to the male as he sliced his sword through the snake's metal body, glancing over at her and taking small steps closer. Her body tensed as he bent over, picking her up bridal style and slamming a small ball against the ground.Shots of pain run along her nerves as his arm continuously hit her back, noticing that she was in the Nurse's Office. He set her awkwardly on the bed, pulling away and patting her head like she was a dog. She furrowed her eyebrows as she watched his blue eyes focus on his hand, like he was nervous. "I hope you're okay." His voice was "deep", like the voice of someone with a usually high voice forcing his voice to shift down a few octaves. "Um, thank you..."
"Ninja," ah, there it was. The high-pitchedness. He cleared his throat, looking away from her to dig through the scarf tied tightly around his waist."Well, thank you, Ninja ."He gave her a mixture of a nod and a dismissive shake of the head. "I-I'm just doing my job." He said before throwing the bomb on the ground. As the smoke cleared, a coughing Nat was left with a panting Randy and Howard, both holding onto each other for support. "Nat!" Howard gasped out, his grip loosening on Randy enough for him to topple on the ground, just lying there. "We heard that a robot attacked and a girl was taken to the Nurse by the Ninja!" Randy puffed out, going Howard on the ground. But didn't the Ninja "smokebomb" me to the Nurse?She decided to just enjoy that fact, letting a ghost of a smile grow on her face. "I'm fine," she assured, "the Ninja's pretty good at his job." She felt the tiniest amounts of heat flood onto her face.
"Do... do you have a crush on him or something?"At that moment, she wished Howard would go back to dying on the floor. "It's not a crush," she protested, pretending to rub her cheeks, even though she was trying to cool her blush, "I just appreciate him for saving me."After all, what does appreciation even lead to?
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