* * * * * * * * * *
Another new school, Duo sighed to himself, another first day of school. He hated this the most, walking to a new school, the curious, sometimes hostile stares, the whispers about the "new kid." He'd done it altogether too often. Foster home to foster home, they were hardly ever in the same school district, so he changed schools yet again. He never even knew what he did wrong sometimes, he just got picked up at school by a social worker, his things already packed in the car. It wasn't easy to find foster homes willing to take in a 17-year-old orphan, but he had been a ward of the state since he was 5, and they were obligated to make sure he was at least marginally taken care of until he was 18. Duo was already counting the months, all 5 of them.
Shifting his backpack to the other shoulder to untangle his braid from the strap, Duo approached the school. Not only was he an unadoptable orphan, he also looked different, with his waist-length hair and almost feminine features. As a girl, he would have been pretty, but as a boy he usually attracted rude comments and hostile glares. But after all the years of a faceless system, Duo wanted to stand out, and he was proud of being different. It made his life harder sometimes, but Duo always had a way to escape: reading. He devoured books, losing himself in the characters, forgetting about his problems. One of the first things he sought out in a new school was the library, and he often volunteered there, loving the atmosphere all the books created. He wasn't into sports, and the schoolwork was usually too easy for him. He knew he was probably fairly smart, but he had no reason to try to excel. He knew there was no way he would ever be able to go to college; he would have to go to work right after high school, since he would turn 18 just after the end of the school year. And with all the schools he had attended, who knew if he actually had all the requirements for college? Duo laughed to himself: his transcript, if it actually existed, would probably be longer than his braid.
This school looked the same as all the others: dull gray buildings, posing teenagers, grass littered with trash and cigarettes. The only thing different this time was where Duo was living: it was an orphanage this time: no foster home had been found. It wasn't a bad place; he had a very small room to himself and since he was one of the older kids, no one really took much notice of when he came and went. As long as he kept out of trouble, Duo knew no one would bother much with him there. Only five more months, he chanted to himself.
He was just crossing the parking lot, heading toward the front door, when he heard the first comments. Out of the corner of his eye, Duo could see they came from a group of jocks in lettermen's jackets, hanging around a black Mustang. Without being obvious, Duo tried to change his course so he wouldn't have to pass right by the group. It wasn't going to be easy, though, because the car was directly in line with the school. Damn, it starts already, Duo thought to himself with disgust.
"That's a guy!"
"Way. It's a fruity little boy." Raucous laughter ensued.
Duo usually ignored such taunts, and the imbeciles usually lost interest after a while. He knew how to fight, and was able to take care of himself, but he wasn't stupid enough to take on that many big guys at once. Surely they wouldn't try anything right in front of the school.
Duo glanced around; there weren't really that many people around. Maybe he was running late; most of the kids had already gone inside. He looked for a teacher or other adult, but typically, there was never one around when you really needed one. Lets just hope they're all talk, he thought.
Duo looked straight ahead and kept walking as he neared the group. The laughter increased, and he hoped against hope... But luck just wasn't with him. A large form stepped directly in his path. Duo looked up at the looming football player, at least a foot taller than him. "Excuse me," he said politely, trying to step around. But the boy mirrored him, and was still in the way.
"We were wondering~ are you a girl or a boy?" sneered the jock, and the others laughed.
Duo sighed. "Why do you care?"
This pissed off the jock. "Oh, you're a smartass, then," he snarled. He was obviously looking for trouble.
"No, just trying to go to school," Duo said as neutrally as possible.
The jock found this incredibly funny as well. "I think it's a girl," one of them offered.
"Kinda skinny, though," one of them answered.
"Why don't we find out?" This suggestion was met with laughter. Dimly, Duo could hear a bell ringing, and he suddenly realized they had him surrounded, with his back to the car. One of them stepped forward and made a grab for Duo's leather jacket. Duo easily blocked the boy's hand and knocked it away. This, of course, pissed them off more, and the leader shoved Duo back, and he stumbled into the car, dropping his backpack.
"Now look what you did, asshole! You scratched my car," the jock yelled.
Duo looked up. He was now surrounded by the idiots, and he knew he was in trouble. He snapped his leg forward in a quick kick, and one of the boys doubled over, howling and clutching his kneecap.
Duo grabbed the opportunity, running at the injured boy and pushing him, making him fall over into another jock. This created a small opening, and Duo grabbed his backpack and ran for it.
Unfortunately, his braid was an irresistible target, and the leader grabbed it, pulling Duo up hard and yanking him back. "You're fucked now, asshole," the jock snarled. Duo struggled, but the boy held him tight, and twisted Duo's arm behind his back. Duo tried his best not to cry out in pain. His mind raced, trying to think of a way out of the situation.
One of the jocks, the one Duo had kneecapped, limped up in front of him, looking furious. Drawing back his fist, the boy threw a punch right at Duo's face. Duo managed to move his head slightly, enough that the fist connected with the side of his face rather than his nose; it still hurt like a son of a bitch, but at least his nose wasn't broken. Of course, this only angered the jock more. Just as he was getting ready to hit Duo again, there was the unmistakable growl of a motorcycle approaching at speed.
Heero Yuy, the newest and youngest science teacher at the school, was running late. Even though he didn't have a class first period, he needed the prep time. Heero had spied the group of jocks lingering outside the school, and immediately sensed they were up to no good. This particular group of kids bordered on insolent on good days, and on bad days, they generally got removed from the class. They were never actually suspended, though, because of their importance to the school's all-powerful sports teams. As he approached on his motorcycle, he saw an unfamiliar, small form between them. At first he thought it was a girl, because the person had a long braid. But then the person kicked out, and pushed one boy out of the way, and made a break for it, and Heero could see it was a boy. A small, attractive teenage boy... Heero put that forbidden thought out of his head as he raced to the boy's rescue.
Heero took in the situation quickly. It was obvious the braided boy was hurt, but not seriously. He braked, and slid the motorcycle up to the group of boys.
"Let him go!" Heero shouted, not bothering to remove his helmet. The jocks jumped, obviously recognizing a voice of authority, and let go of Duo. Heero kicked down the stand and jumped off the bike, stalking toward the group.
"Shit! It's that new teacher!"
The boys scattered, leaving Duo standing in the parking lot, adrenaline pumping, facing his savior.
The motorcyclist approached Duo, unbuckling his helmet. "Are you ok?"
Duo looked down at himself. "I'll live," he laughed deprecatingly. "Thanks," he added as he looked up, then his voice faltered. The rider had just removed his helmet. Duo's violet eyes stared deep into the most intense cobalt blue eyes he had ever seen. The eyes were surrounded by a somehow exotic face, features perfectly proportioned, and a shock of messy brown hair. He wore dress pants that clung to muscular thighs, and a black leather jacket. The man wasn't much older than Duo himself.
As Heero approached, he tried not to stare at the beautiful boy. The boy was exquisite, braid down to his shapely ass, luminous violet eyes, lithe body... Heero tried to restrain his inappropriate reaction to the injured boy. This could be one of his students, he couldn't think this way. He focused on being reassuring. "I'm Heero Yuy. Science teacher. Are you a new student? I haven't seen you before." And I would have definitely noticed you, he added mentally.
"You're a teacher?" Duo was amazed. He'd never had a teacher that looked like this. I would pay complete attention to you if you were lecturing me, he thought to himself. Amazed at his traitorous thoughts, he focused on the conversation. "It's my first day," Duo continued, trying to smile. "That must have been the welcoming committee. I'm Duo Maxwell. "
The rapidly darkening bruise on Duo's face tore at Heero's heart. Why was this boy having this effect on him?
"Well, Duo, let's get you inside. I don't have class for an hour. We'll get some ice on that bruise, then get you registered." Heero said.
Continued in part 2