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      You knew something was up at Kings Dominion. There is always something up at Kings Dominion, whether it’s some sick prank between the Legacies and the Rats, or some personal feud manifested in the form of life-threatening booby-traps or death threats in the form of paper airplanes being thrown around the classroom, but today everything was – off. Master Lin hadn’t made a single appearance, and Saya missed an AP Black Arts lesson: an almost unheard-of occasion. The Valedictorian and leader of the Kuroki Syndicate missed a lesson, an event that could potentially prevent her from getting a perfect mark. Something was off.

     Your questions of the day are finally answered as someone you’ve never seen before walks down the halls, fresh new textbooks in hand and absolutely every other student’s eyes on him. He stops at a locker a little way down the hall to your left and begins fiddling with the code. New kid. Not good news for him, not really great news for anyone, due to the disruptions the hazing causes. Being new at Kings Dominion is Hell, and you sympathize for the guy as you watch him pull out a doll with a knife in it, and a note saying ‘Child Killer’.

     So, the new kid has a rep – and a pretty vicious one at that. He doesn’t look like a child killer, soft brown eyes and floppy dark curls and all, but hey – if you’d learned one thing at this school, it’s that looks can be deceiving. As Petra sidles up to you and begins to put her books away, you grab your Poison textbook from your bag shove it in your locker. 

     “Been a while since we’ve had a new kid.” You remark, watching from the corner of your eye as Maria saunters up to him. Petra shrugs beside you, ever the chatterbox, and walks off in silence, leaving you alone at your locker to watch what unfolds – and as Maria rakes her eyes up and down him like a predator, and Chico shoulder-checks you on his way over to them, you get that chill up your spine that you always get when things are about to go sideways.

     Before you know it, Chico’s hand is around Maria’s throat and he has her pushed up against the wall of lockers. You slam your locker closed (maybe a little too aggressively), attracting his attention as you lock eyes with Maria. The new kid is still focused entirely on Chico, his back turned to you and his posture rigid with anger. 

      Unfortunately, Chico’s attention is still on you, and you can see the murderous intent brewing in his light eyes. It would be so easy to challenge him on his abusive tendencies, but who are you trying to fool - the absolute last thing you want is to start something with Soto Vatos… Not again. Maria shakes her head at you, as if reading your mind and telling you not to get involved, just as the new kid shoves Chico away from her.

     Your eyes widen as you begin to head towards them, for what ungodly reason you do not know. By the time you get there, though, one of the other Soto Vatos members has shoved the new kid, and Chico’s delivered a nasty sucker-punch to the gut. You make your way around the boys and grab Maria’s arm, fist wrapped around the handle of your pocket knife in your blazer lining, but she places a hand on your forearm. A warning – do not get involved

      You watch Chico pull his knife out, holding it to the kid’s face, and your temper flares again – flashes of the memory of your first few weeks at school, the torture that you went through, but most of all the agonizing burn that ensues a knife wound.

     You pull your knife out of the lining, still keeping it out of sight for now, as you watch Chico carefully with your jaw clenched. “You like Maria, huh?” He says, dangling the knife in front of the boy’s face before moving it to his throat. “Meet my other lady.”

     Your grip tightens around your knife, but before you get the chance to take any action Chico and his friend spot the Monk patrolling the halls. “Not here, man.” The friend warns, and Chico slowly lowers the knife while still staring down the new kid. Maria grips your arm, warning you to put your knife away, and you reluctantly tuck it back in your blazer as the other Soto Vatos member glares at you, a look you gladly return with a middle finger. 

     “Tonight, me and you are going on a date. Wear something nice. We’re gonna bury you in it.” Chico warns, stepping closer to the guy, and then grabs Billy’s drink as he passes and proceeds to pour it over the new kid’s head. You so want to punch Chico, but the bell rings and the Monk is still watching. Chico grabs Maria’s arm and leans down towards you, menacing glare in his eye as he notices your protective stance in front of her. “How about you stay out of other people’s business, amiga.” He warns, before turning and dragging Maria away as she mouths ‘sorry’.

      You watch the kid for a moment once Chico has left, watching Billy pick up his cup and offer a half-hearted salute before turning and heading to class, green hair disappearing about the corner. The kid stands, fuming, dark liquid dripping from his hair, before he slams his locker quite forcefully. You scrunch your face up, mentally debating the pros and cons of introducing yourself and possibly offer the comfort of a friendly face in a school so horribly hostile.

     The absolute last thing you should do is get involved with the new kid with a massive target on his back. You know that. Hell, everyone knows that. At Kings Dominion, emotions are a weakness. You show weakness, you end up dead. You associate with the wrong people, you end up dead. You’ve seen it happen. You’ve promised yourself to not get involved. So why does how one guy stands up to Chico for Maria give you the sudden urge to do both of those things?

     Damn it.

     You walk past him, notice how he’s still holding his stomach with somewhat labored breaths, and reminisce on the absolute breathlessness and burn that being punched in the gut brings about. It sucks, to be honest, and somehow knowing what he’s going through currently makes you stop just in front of him, turning to face him as he watches you warily, gaging for threat. 

      “Don’t mess with Chico.” You warn, and he cocks an eyebrow. “Chico’s full of alpha-male testosterone bullshit, but he’s dangerous.” 

     “He put his hands on her.” The new kid practically growls, and you give a half shrug.

     “I never said he wasn’t an abusive asshole. Just…” You sigh, thinking back to all the times you’d seen Chico mistreat Maria, or hurt other students who tried to be her friend or even look at her. “Watch out for him.” 

      He remains silent, still clutching his stomach as he stares down the hallway with anger in his eyes. He’s cute, you realize, and you notice the scar on his eyebrow just as the monk appears at the end of the hallway, and you take his silence as your cue to leave before you’re late for class and risk a detention.

     You adjust the strap of your bag, and wheel around, missing the look of confusion and intrigue he gives you as he watches you leave with furrowed brows. What the hell was that? You question yourself as you head down the hall, running a hand through your hair and sighing. Something about his reputation doesn’t match with him – sticking up for Maria, that little smile on his face, his soft brown eyes. 

      “Damn it.” You mutter.