The first sign Ko-chan might have been right was three senior students cornering her by the vending machines outside the cafeteria.
"You're like a nail sticking out."
"And we are the hammer."
"Get one freshman guy and stick to him. Right now you're an eyesore."
Three of them playing an amateurish game at intimidation was laughable, and Christina shrugged the incident off.
The second sign something was off waited for her almost where she had been cornered earlier that day. Going home she found her shoe-locker filled with trash. She shook her head, cleaned it out, grabbed her shoes and went home.
The third was someone trying to push her down the stairs the next day. That made her take Ko-chan's warnings a bit more seriously, but when she reported the incidents to her teachers she was told that she was seeing things. Bullying apparently was even less of an item on the agenda here than it had been when she attended school back home in Sweden. At least physical violence would have created a reaction.
From there it escalated to slashed shoes, torn books and yet another attempt to teach her how to grow wings and fly. And neither teachers nor students thought much of it. Most of 3:1 aside though, and the combined fan-clubs of hers and Ryu-kun's. They were in an uproar.
She was chatting along with Ko-chan after PE when suddenly a second year grabbed her bag and dashed all the way back to the locker room they had just left.
"You little bastard!" Christina stared after the thief.
"Don't, Kuri-chan! It's dangerous."
Further ahead, by the vending machines outside the cafeteria, she saw the friend of the geek from 6:1 looking at them. Then she decided that enough was enough and chased after the girl who had taken her bag.
And she was inside the locker room. Five girls, all second and third years, waited for her and her bag had been emptied on the floor.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" 'Do you know how many hours I had to work extra for that make-up set you just spilled on the floor?'
Two of the girls were fumbling with their cell phones.
"That's my bag. Hand it over to me!" 'I'm starting to hate these girls!'
Still no response.
Behind her the door was thrown open and someone entered.
"Wrong room, moron," she told the second year boy who had arrived. "Get the hell out of here!"
Still the girls said nothing, and that was more than a little strange.
'Something is wrong. There's a boy in here. They should be screaming bloody murder.'
The first fist took her by surprise.
'Is this what you warned me about, Ko-chan?'
The second fist threw her head first into the wall. It hurt and she couldn't think clearly.
Then her assailant ran away.
'A boy in our locker room, and those girls didn't say a thing?'
"Stay away from our boys!"
'What? What's…? Did you invite him?'
Christina felt hands dragging her from the wall. Then she was thrown and fell into the mirrors face first. Something broke and she felt a new sting of pain. Something rang on the floor. Several somethings.
"We don't like you."
Her legs were kicked away from under her. There was nothing she could do. They were too many. In desperation she crawled over the floor. More kicks followed before she managed to get inside the toilet booth.
"If we see you trying to seduce anyone more we'll make you wish you had never met us."
It hurt. Something stung in her hands and lower arms. 'Glass? Must have cut myself when that mirror broke.' She started picking shards from her hands. Then she heard the sound of running water. 'I have to get out of here. But the door was blocked from the outside.'
Defeated she sat down on the toilet chair. She could as well remove some more shards. When she started on her lower arms the first bucketful of ice-cold water came crashing down on her. It made her cut herself with the shard she was pulling out.
'Scared. Didn't know I could be this afraid.'
Another bucket-load of icy water followed, and a third, and a fourth.
She was shivering from cold, and she was still dizzy from the beating her head had taken earlier. From far away she heard a voice. Someone talking? No. Someone roaring. Had he come back to beat her up some more?
The toilet door bulged from a kick. Christina backed into the corner. Then it exploded inwards.
"Christina? Are you hurt? Christina, are you OK?"
'A boy? Who are you?' She stared at him. 'What's happening? Why are you speaking Swedish?'
He switched to Japanese. "Send Darwin an e-mail for more info on your parents." He had addressed the girls outside.
"What the hell was that?" The voice belonged to one of the girls who had thrown her into the mirror.
"That was my poor Japanese. Makes it easier for you to understand. Short words. You might find those in a dictionary. Ask a friend if you can't understand them"
Christina stared at him through swollen eyes. 'Swedish! I haven't heard it for over a year!' "Why? Are you mad?" Her own words sounded alien in her mouth.
"Hate bullies. Don't bloody care if they are boys, girls or if they grow fucking antennas." More Swedish. Vulgar, thick, uncouth, and wonderful, wonderful Gothenburg accent.
'He's the geek from 6:1?' "They'll get at you as well if you defend me."
"So, zero eight are we? Should have guessed from that sassy supermodel walk of yours that you're from Stockholm."
'Eh, he didn't even answer me before he added his own insult.' "What's with your second city complex?" That stupid joke of his temporarily made her pain go away.
Then he shot her a gorgeous and wicked smile. It was in such a stark contrast to his geek outlook that she could just stare at him.
Further back in the locker room the girls stirred. "Do you know how much trouble you're in for entering here?"
Christina heard him growl before he dug in his pockets and answered in English: "If you Neanderthals think you're scary you're fucking mistaken. I'll rip you each a new one if you as much as look at her again." His voice hadn't risen, but there was a mixture of menace and disgust to it that kept Christina in thrall, but deep inside she understood that she was the one being protected, not targeted.
"We'll tell the teachers that you're a pervert!"
Christina doubted that they had understood what he said.
"Now if you bitches are unable to understand, I have a gift for you. But first I want you to know that I have enough documented evidence of your filthy shit to have the police ripping you and your families apart. So just shut it!" With that he lobbed a memory stick to one of the girls.
He grabbed Christina's arms and helped her out of the locker room. In the doorway he turned and shot some parting words off in Japanese: "Your English teacher just might be able to translate."
Outside the locker room a crowd had gathered. They backed away as he dragged her past the cafeteria entrance and to the boys' locker room. Then, to her astonishment, he threw that door open.
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