Today wasn't my day.
"Excuse me! Please let me through!"
Jostling my way through suffocating throngs of people whilst whispering polite apologies, I successfully manoeuvred my way into the clustered afternoon bus. My short frame didn't prove an easy fit but I did manage to squeeze between the compacted mess of citizens in time for the doors to reel shut. I would have liked to exhale a breath of relief for having managed to make it but my nostrils were instead intoxicated by the pungent smell of BO, leaving me to cough hysterically for a good while.
I tilted my head to locate the source only to find the said armpit centimetres from my face. The man continued to hold one of the handrails from above, sweating profusely from the heat. My discomfort and proximity didn't bother him at all. Fuming, I twisted my head in the other direction to inhale that way.
Why oh why did I have to go and be late today? I'd made it an iron clad rule of mine to never linger after class, and make a mad dash to my typical bus following the final bell to beat the crowd. And yet today of all days I just so happened to be stopped by my homeroom teacher to discuss my shall-not-be-mentioned-grades. Much less a spot to sit, even standing in this bus was a nightmare of its own. Even if it was a twenty minute ride...
A shove from behind sent me lurching into the back of the person ahead of me. I quickly retreated, mustering a weak apology when they craned their neck. A heavy sigh slipped past my mouth as I clasped my bag even tighter in my arms.
Well, even if it was gruelling, it was definitely a better alternative than where I'd come from. And no, not because I was a high school student and high school was nowhere close to the flowery institutions most animes depicted, but because my academy was a little worse than most. Mainly because every student attending Akelius Academy with the exception of me were—bluntly put—crazy.
Or the term society liked to call it, "troubled."
Akelius Academy was an institution for delinquents.
Being stomped to death by brawls taking place in the hallways, or getting smacked by countless bodies soaring through the air like bean bags were generous days, as hard to believe as that sounded. People had literally died in the school because students weren't afraid to bring knives or nailed bats to school.
Of course I hadn't seen people die, and the principal tried to cover up the rumours but hey, I had seen body outlines interspersed around the back of the school mixed in with the vandalized walls.
So happily speaking, this situation said to be the deathly 'rush hour' was child's play in comparison to the hell I'd just departed. Reluctantly speaking, this bus in itself was my saving grace out of the burning pits of Tartarus and into heaven.
The amount of times I'd stared death in the face was too great to count, and no, as much as I wish to say I was exaggerating, I wasn't. I could only be grateful to have lived through today without sustaining further injuries or trauma beyond what I'd gained amidst my two years already.
The ram of another person's body into my shoulder launched me face-first into the back of the individual before me—again.
I reeled back just as the middle-aged man jerked his head, exasperation apparent his features.
"S-sorry," I whispered, rubbing my throbbing nose.
The moment he turned around was when I was once again knocked from behind. I hit the man's shoulder this time, but unfortunately for me, the shoving only grew more persistent.
"The hell's your problem?" he bellowed, barely managing to stand upright with his hand propped against the doors.
I opened my mouth to surface an apology but I wasn't given the opportunity. My face was smushed into his back.
What the heck? Why were the people in the back pushing forward so suddenly?
I stood my ground the best I could, digging the heels of my feet into the floor.
My efforts ended up amounting to nothing.
The man in front of me was losing his patience, and as much as I wanted to shout that it wasn't my fault (and yell at the person from behind to pipe the heck down) I didn't receive the chance. I was too occupied being suffocated by the man's blazer and this claustrophobic situation.
With one last jostle to my shoulder from behind, I was once again propelled forward. This time, however, the man shifted his body. My hurtling body grazed his. I stumbled head-first through the opening that he'd left and extended my arms to regain my balance. But it was in that exact second a woman in my path decided to wrestle her arm from the crowd. Her sharp elbow connected with my abdomen, hard, and I was sent tumbling towards the rear end of the vehicle.
Emitting a sound of warning, I frantically waved my arms but I couldn't stabilize my balance in time. My heart dropped to my gut as I teetered backwards. I shut my eyes before I could make painful contact with the ground.
I expected some kind of soaring pain—even smacking the back of my skull against the floor seemed plausible. But besides the sting from my abdomen, what I met with instead was a rather cushiony sensation.
My eyelids fluttered open. I whipped my neck rightward to where a frazzled lady sat. Then to my left, towards a boy with wild brown hair and eyes. After pinning my attention out the nearby window, realization came crashing down on me.
I'd fallen into one of the open seats on the opposite end of the bus.
My eyelashes flitted up and down. Hold on, was I really this lucky today? If there was an open seat this entire time why couldn't I have spotted it sooner? It would've saved me a ton of trouble—and pain!
I placed a hand at my stomach where that lady had jabbed me then considered my other aching limbs from being tossed around in that crowd. As I adjusted myself in the seat, my lips peeled back into a smile. At least I could relax until I arrived home.
The low grumble that filled the air thwarted that thought.
Bewildered, I scanned the crowd ahead. The blurring scenery as we sped along the road as well as animated conversation a good distance away were the only things worth noting. Nevertheless, the growls grew more and more intimidating in my ears.
I peered to my left where that boy was sitting. The deathlike pallor of his face reflected untimely fear. I couldn't comprehend why. There was no way I looked that horrifying. At least, I hoped not. Then again, I had barrelled here in a rush so who's to say how ghastly I truly appeared.
Another blink lowered my gaze to his uniform.
My heart plummeted to my gut.
That was my school uniform. He went to Akelius Academy?
The sight of his messy brown hair summoned newfound panic within me. Obviously he was a delinquent! It'd be stranger to find someone who went to my school who wasn't one!
"Um..." His sudden whisper diverted the fright currently overwhelming me. He pressed as far back into his seat as he could, a forced smile in play. "I really suggest you move," he went on. "Like, now."
A delinquent at my school would typically pronounce such a threat with undeniable menace, but he sounded nothing but concerned for my well-being.
I processed his words. Move? After I finally found a seat, free from the mess of this bus? Why did I have to...
I rotated my head, twisting my torso to see what exactly the issue was. My eyes glazed over the face of an orange-haired boy whose proximity amounted to nothing, and then the lady to my right from earlier.
My lips met in a flat line. Wait...
As soon as my eyes passed, they returned, and faster. My eyebrows darted to the moon as I stared into the face of a boy behind me. Being as close as I was, every nook and cranny of his scrunched up face was clear as glass. His dishevelled orange hair and abnormally grey eyes, piercing into the depths of my soul with unwavering animosity.
It was almost as if he was sending those 'I'm-going-to-murder-you' signals to me.
It didn't take me a second to realize that he was. Moreover, that the seat that I believed to be comfy wasn't actually a seat.
My arms bristled in newfound goosebumps, my stomach churning with enough force to make me nauseous.
No, no, no.
This could not be happening.
I was sitting on his lap.
Out of all the mistakes and awkward situations I'd gotten myself into during the seventeen years I'd been living I decide today was the day to sit on a boy's...
"Move," he growled, his warm breath fanning my face. "Now."
My cheeks burned like a wildfire. I snapped out of my trance but that didn't stop the jitters of my limbs. "O-o-oh, u-um, me v-very s-s-sorry—"
Without waiting to listen to me finish (granted I'd stopped being able to speak coherently) he shoved me. I didn't stand the slightest chance against his force and was sent tumbling over the seat, into the gaggles of people. My jaw knocked painfully against somebody's kneecap and before I knew it, the front half of my body was awkwardly sprawled between a horde of bodies, my mouth pressed against the dusty and soiled floor.
I tried to raise my head, spitting hysterically to rid it of the dirt that had infiltrated. As I did, a sudden jerk of pain coursed through my hand. I resisted the urge to scream as I returned my cheek to the ground.
"The hell," I heard the boy scoff under his breath.
Rage would've usually boiled up inside of me, like a volcano on the verge of eruption. But I was too occupied attempting to move my fingers (which continuously sent excruciating jolts of pain up my arm and shoulder, mind you). My wrist had folded in an unnatural angle—that much was obvious.
The bus screeched to a breakneck halt.
When the doors pried open, not a single person offered me help. Footsteps scurried out in a flurry, including the male who'd decided to toss me like a piece of paper. I was kicked and shoved by the many people that passed, fuelling me with more pain than anger. If I wasn't mistaken, even the bus driver herself had turned a blind eye to my current state, busy tittering over a video on her phone.
When the bus lulled to a hush, I crawled towards my bag. After swallowing down the ache with each slide, I reached it.
This was officially the worst afternoon in existence. Who the hell pushed somebody like that and not even give a shred of concern? I know it was kinda—sorta... a lot—my fault but, the hell?
Screw it. I dug myself into this hole. I needed to get off this bus before they closed the doors on me.
I extended out my hand for my bag straps. The moment I did, it was lifted off the ground. I flinched upwards in shock. Waiting to greet me was the brunet from earlier, squatting with my bag in his fingers. He was wearing a happy-go-lucky grin on his face, peppered in mischief.
He bit his lower lip, as if to fight a chuckle. "You all right?"
With my face implanted on the ground the way that it was, I forced a laugh. "Of course. I actually kiss the floor like this all the time."
The boy erupted into a loud fit of laughter. He rose to his feet, slinging my bag over his shoulder. I pulled myself upright, wincing as I did.
"You know," he drawled, "that wasn't a very nice answer, considering I'm being kind enough to help you out."
I wanted to scoff, but held it back. Help me? He didn't even offer me a hand.
I hauled myself off the ground and momentarily frowned at the dirt that had soiled my uniform. Keeping my left arm firmly at my chest, I sprung to my toes. "Give me my bag."
The boy only inched backwards, out of the bus and onto the sidewalk outside. He beckoned for me to take it. I sourly narrowed my eyes.
The moment I departed from the bus was the moment the doors decided to close.
Relief washed over me as I arrived before him. I immediately swiped my bag back, staring down at the tattered mess it had become. I made a face. Just great.
He leaned in close, scrutinizing me with his light eyes before tapping his right cheek.
"You got a little..."
I slapped the spot in an instant. Then scrubbed the dust off.
"Thanks," I spat.
He snickered, placing his hand at his side. "I'd apologize for him, but you should've known ahead of time you chose the wrong guy to sit on. Iwasaki's this huge grumpy-pants if you get what I'm saying."
"The guy whose lap you sat on. Ryu Iwasaki." He flashed me a lopsided grin. "I'm Miyabi, by the way. Meaning 'refinement'. It suits me, right?"
The energy radiating from him put me off a little. Did he really go to Akelius? He looked a bit delinquent-y, sure, but his personality was completely off-key. Maybe he was the type who feigned nice before turning on you? Didn't that mean since he knew my face now I was screwed?
The idea caused my shoulders to tense.
I swiftly dodged his eyes and ducked my head.
The shout froze the both of us in place. I swerved to find a female officer bidding farewell to familiar faces I'd seen on the bus. Did they actually voice a complaint?
That question was answered the moment she came darting towards us, a glare aimed at Miyabi.
"You need to come with me, mister!"
Miyabi's features filled with disbelief. He backed away, gaping as he did. "No way, am I the one taking the blame?"
"Don't even try running!" she yelled, seeming to understand his intentions.
But Miyabi had already made up his mind. I watched, immobile, as he faced me one last time, grinning from ear to ear. "Bye, Sheep Hair! It was nice meeting you!"
My fingers flew to my wild hair, overwhelmed in sudden embarrassment. But when I looked up, he was already quite the distance away. Then, as speedily as a cheetah, he was gone—a shadow in the crowd of citizens bustling within this busy station.
A strangled groan escaped the exhausted officer who came to a stop beside me. She sighed, adjusting the cap on her head. Then she smacked and squeezed my shoulder with enough force to make my throbbing arm squeal with unimaginable pain. I withheld a grimace as my heartbeat skyrocketed in my chest.
There was no longer the opportunity for me to escape.
"Excuse me, miss." The woman caught my gaze, thin lips downturned in a frown. "You're going to have to come with me."