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The beginning of the new term was an unfamiliar one for the ex-private school student. Unfamiliar, yet refreshing. In spite of the various not-too-pleasant scents that filled the strange hallways of Silver Valley High, Delphine felt as if she could breathe easy. The teenagers around her were loud and rowdy - a representation of chaos, but also of freedom and authenticity. Such behavior would have never been tolerated back at Vista Academy, but if that was how it was 'out here' then that was exactly the kind of thing she had come to see. However, this was just the beginning, and whether or not she would like what was to come, she had already made the decision to take this step, and there was no going back.

The jarring sound of the school bell echoed down the hallways, signalling the start of the first period. At such a time, Delphine would have been pushing through a sea of consistent dark red to her first class, but this time, it was a sea of technicolor. She had spent some time at home earlier in the morning getting dressed, unsure of what exactly was 'appropriate school attire' apart from the uniform that all students were required to wear at her old school. However, considering the variety of apparel that currently surrounded her, she doubted that anything reasonable that she would have picked out would have made her stand out from this crowd, probably until she started speaking, at least.

Checking her timetable, she found her first classroom. She stood at the door for a moment, wondering if there was a standard seating arrangement. Eventually, she decided slide into an empty desk at the side of the room and middle from the front after everyone who had entered had taken their own seats. A kempt adult woman then entered the classroom and barked at the noisy teenagers to settle down before beginning the class. Delphine was puzzled by this treatment of faculty members, who appeared to be ignored until they made themselves heard. Back at Vista Academy, the students would immediately drop everything to acknowledge any teacher who would enter the room. It was about to be an interesting day.
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Alexander walked down the corridor, heading to his locker. He opened in, taking his books out that he needed before he would get back to his locker. The loud students around him didn't phase him, especially because he had his headphones on and was drowning out the rest of the world with the music playing through them. He quickly took his books out as the shrill sound of the bell made a slight interference in his song. He took his headphones off, stuffed them in his locker and closed the door. He headed to first period through the swarm of students before him, and slipped into a seat at the back without really being noticed.

As he looked around his eyes fell on a girl who was clearly new to the school, but he seemed to recognise her. He couldn't work out how he recognised her but there was something really familiar about her face. He couldn't imagine how he'd forgotten her, she was a very attractive girl, and he was sure that, had they met, he wouldn't have forgotten her. It all confused him.
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Halfway through the class, Delphine was startled by a paper ball that arced over her shoulder from behind her and landed neatly on her desk. Straightening the paper out, she was able to read some detail off of it. Written on it were what seemed to be an address, a date, and a time. She glanced behind her in confusion, wondering about the intention of the student who had thrown the paper to her. He couldn't have just been mischievously trying to annoy her, for he had intentionally missed her head. As she turned to look at him, all he did was to gesture to the student seated to her left. Hoping that she was getting it right, she crushed the paper and tossed it onto the desk on her left. The student seated at the desk, like her, straightened it out and began to read what was on it. She turned back to the boy behind her, who simply gave her a thumbs up. She figured it was a form of communication, a way of conveying messages to classmates whose phone numbers were unknown.

Lunchtime soon rolled around, finding Delphine as one of the first few to have made her way to the cafeteria. Her action of cleaning up a less-than-sanitary section of a table and seat with a wet wipe earned her some stares from nearby students, to which she just responded with a pleasant smile. It was not long before several other trays were slammed onto the table she was at as a group of chattering teenagers took up the surrounding seats. Not saying a word just yet, she listened to their conversations, now understanding what had happened with that piece of paper during the first period. Apparently, someone's parents were going to be away for the coming Friday night and there was going to be a huge party at the given address. What then caught her attention even more, however, was a blonde girl's mention of wanting to hang out at the nearby branch of Starlight Flavors after school.

Delphine's instinctive reaction of turning to look at the blonde must have been rather obvious, from the elbow nudge of the boy seated right next to her. "Got something to say, new girl?"

Well, she did have to make new friends at this school at some point, and this seemed like a good opportunity to reel them in. "What if I told the lot of you that I could get you free dessert at Starlight Flavors?"

Half of the group seemed impressed, and the other half skeptical. Whether it was the lure of her offer or the desire to see her prove what she had claimed, she had secured a social group for the afternoon. Perhaps making friends at Silver Valley was not going to be too much of a challenge after all.
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Alexander had heard the mutterings of a party going on the coming Friday evening and sighed as he approached the cafeteria. While he had no intention of ever going to a high school party, an invite would have at least been somewhat pleasant. It's a bit depressing when the whole school is invited to a party with the exception of you. He couldn't go anyway. He worked evenings and weekends. Even if he had wanted to attend the party, he always put his responsibilities first. He sat down at his usual table, secluded in the corner, plugged in his headphones and drowned out the idle chatter of the cafeteria. "Feeding time at the zoo." He muttered to himself as he turned the volume up in his headphones and began to eat what passed as 'food' in the school kitchens.

He did have one benefit of blending in to the background. Despite his good grades and his outward shyness, while he could have been a premier target for the school bullies, he was pretty much left alone. There was a strange cool factor about being detached and alone. People were almost afraid of him, sometimes. Worried that his solitary attitude was due to a dangerous nature. When in actual fact he was just pathologically shy and struggled to make friends. He kind of liked the quiet though. The lack of bullying, the lack of drama. It was a comfortable loneliness. But that could have been because he'd never really known any different.
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Delphine must have already been getting accustomed to the more chaotic environment, as the after-lunch classes had seemed to fly by rather quickly as compared to the morning session. Even as she made her way out to the front gates to meet with her 'new friends', the hallways were still bustling with students going about with after-school activities. She passed several groups, most of which were identifiable by their uniforms - the football team, the marching band, cheerleaders, dancers, the science club, and was that the choir? Joining a club seemed like a good way to make friends too, perhaps she should consider it. She would take some time with that decision though, considering it was only her first day.

The group of six entered the nearest branch of Starlight Flavors later that afternoon after a short walk around the mall in which it was located. The branch was like any other, its ceiling made to resemble a clear, starry night sky over contemporary dining furniture and decorations. The place was relatively quiet at such a time, and one of the senior staff members promptly greeted Delphine and immediately seated the group. She enthusiastically returned the greeting, and it became apparent that the two were hardly strangers. She then requested for all orders to be on the house, earning impressed looks from everyone else at the table when the staff agreed.

While the table's order was passed to the staff behind the counter with a mention of "Miss Nixon has come to visit,", Delphine sat back and listened to more of her group's discussions about recent and upcoming events, satisfied to be included. When asked if she was interested in attending the coming Friday's party, she expressed that she did not know the host. A brunet in the group explained to her that when they pass notes out like that, it usually meant that they just wanted to fill the house. Strange, but interesting. She proceeded to thank him for his explanation. What was his name again? She then came to a realization that nobody at the table had introduced themselves, including her.

"So, the lot of you can call me Delphine..." she began, only after which all the other introductions came one after another. Definitely a weird start to this 'friendship', but hey, they were being nice, were they not?
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Alex was working that evening after school. He arrived home and had something quick to eat before heading out to work. The house was empty once again, with his mother was working all hours, and on the rare occasion she wasn't working she was usually passed out from exhaustion. He arrived at work a little early and changed into his uniform. As he approached his colleagues he heard the murmurings that Delphine Nixon, daughter of the owner of Starlight Flavours, was in the restaurant. And that's when it hit him. The familiar face from school. He'd seen pictures of her with her family. Because they were owners of his workplace. Of course, he got asked to serve the group, and that jarred him. This could lead to social suicide or worse, to losing his job, if it went badly. "Time to shine, Wolfe." Alex muttered to himself before heading over to the table with a notepad and a pen tucked into his apron.

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Starlight Flavours, my name is Alex and I will be your server this evening." He handed out a menu to each person at the table and then smiled brightly. "I understand that this tables orders are on the house tonight. Shall I get you started with some drinks, perhaps?" He asked.
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"Woah, Wolfe?" One of Delphine's 'new friends' exclaimed in surprise after taking a good look at the waiter.

"So you do speak after all," another piped up, earning a round of laughter from the table.

Delphine raised an eyebrow and glanced around at the rest in confusion. "I'm sorry?"

"It's Alex Wolfe, from first period. Dude's so silent you probably didn't even see him today."

She then nodded in understanding. Apparently, this waiter was a fellow student and classmate of her and her current group. What was said last was right though - she did not recall seeing him at all today, then again, there were not many around her on her first day of school she would have recognized. It had crossed her mind that the redhead seemed rather young for a staff member when he had first come up to the table, but said nothing until it was pointed out that he actually was a student. She was not sure of the relationship between this waiter and the teens at her table, so she decided not to jump to any conclusions about the teasing that had just taken place. It all seemed friendly and playful enough.

Delphine gave the bespectacled boy a warm smile. "Well, what a coincidence. It's lovely to meet you, Alex. I'll have our signature 'Treasure in the Snow', thank you."

She then gestured for the rest to make their orders, which they took some time doing before resuming their conversation. Delphine gave Alex a small wave as he made off with their orders. She would be sure to look out for him tomorrow.
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Alex maintained his professional composure and took the orders, despite feeling like he wanted to run for miles and possibly throw up. He didn't really enjoy being recognised. "I'll return with your drinks shortly." He said, leaving the table and returning to the kitchen where he handed the order to a colleague before locking himself in the bathroom to try and calm himself down as his anxiety was pulling at the edges of his mind, making his breathing faster and shallower. He pulled an inhaler from his pocket, shook it and place it in his mouth, breathing in the chemical that would help him breathe normally, and then slowly normalised his breathing, lowering his heart rate. He stared at himself in the mirror above the sink and sighed. "Snap out of it Wolfe. They're kids, not rabid dogs. Relax, give them their orders, and just do your job." He left the bathroom and by then the drinks were ready to take over and so he took the tray, his confidence returning to him as he reminded himself he was good at his job, and he took them over to the table.
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In spite of being quite sure that the words of her friends towards the waiter were harmless and just for fun, Delphine had observed that 'Alex' had responded rather strangely. He said nothing about being recognized, or whether or not he knew them. He did not deliberately make it obvious, but it was clear that he was uncomfortable. Perhaps he was not on good terms with her group after all, but if there was any animosity between the two parties, she was feeling none of it. Curious if there was anything that she was missing, she decided to prod the students at the table for more information about this young waiter.

"We know nothing, honest. Like I said, kid hardly says anything to anyone," was the reply.

So no interest, no gossip, nothing. Still, he did not exactly react well to her friends. Maybe he was the one who has something against them. It could also be that he had recognized her and had gotten nervous, but she could not recall anything she had done to make him feel such a way. She had been nice to him, had she not? It did not add up at all, and she wondered if she could catch him the following day to figure out what was up. She continued to be friendly to him, giving him a pleasant "Thank you," and another warm smile as he served them their drinks, and hoped that he would take it a little easier.
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Alex had never officially been diagnosed, but his mom was almost certain he had social anxiety. He was virtually terrified of people his own age, he never really socialised outside of work, and he wasn't exactly forthcoming with details about himself. He spent all of his time at school alone, never even attempting to make friends. He knew his mom was worried but he just enjoyed his own company, with his music and the characters in his sketchbook. He would never have referred to himself as a brilliant artist, but he enjoyed drawing, and practised different styles. Animals, humans and anthropomorphic characters littered his sketchbook, his bedroom wall and his locker at school. It was rare to find him doing anything but working or doodling. He noted the warmth and friendliness of Delphine. It was quite surprising to him. People mostly just treat him as they would a piece of background furniture. They just kind of half-noticed he was there and never really interacted with him.
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Delphine would say that she had a relatively good time on her first day at Silver Valley High - the classes were interesting, the people were fun, and she got to enjoy some dessert after school with the group of friends she had just made. Her second day did not differ much from the first, that she was sure of at least for the first half of the day. The classes had her bumping into her new friends individually, though, she was this time on the lookout for the young waiter she had met the day before. They did not seem to be taking any classes together for almost the entire morning, until she eventually spotted him in the same room with her during their last class right before the lunch break.

Amid the herd of students who were trudging towards the cafeteria, Delphine quickened her pace slightly to catch up with the bespectacled redhead. She gave him a light tap on the shoulder before walking up right beside him.

"Hello there! Alex Wolfe, was it? You remember me from yesterday at Starlight Flavors don't you? I'm actually new to Silver Valley, you see, so I guess we'll be seeing each other a lot more often. I was wondering, are you doing anything after school today?" She then raised an eyebrow. "You don't work like, everyday, right?"

She hoped that he would be a little more responsive this time, seeing how the entire group from the day before was currently not with them.
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Alex had been walking toward the cafeteria with his headphones on, trying to ignore the animalistic attitudes of his fellow classmates, when a tap on his shoulder surprised him. He took his headphones off as Delphine approached him and his eyes widened. He shrugged. "I am actually not working this evening." Her question had surprised him so much he had forgotten to protest the idea of socialising outside of school. Or within school for that matter. He was more curious as to what she would say next. "I work 2 evenings a week and every other weekend. I need time for homework." He chuckled, before realising that he was oversharing.
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Delphine's short laughter followed Alex's as she nodded in agreement at what he last said. "Right, homework."

It was then that she recalled the instructions given to the students during their last class. Seeing as how the students who had been at the school since the beginning of the year have had the time to figure out their 'default' partners or project teams to go to whenever group projects were assigned, newer students such as her would have issues finding people to work with. The teenagers she had hung out with the day before had mentioned that Alex hardly spoke to anyone, and she wondered how he dealt with group projects.

"Speaking of homework, would you already happen to have a partner to work with for that Geography project we were just assigned?"
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Alex shook his head. "I don't do well with group projects. Usually I just do all the work myself then find a group who are woefully under-prepared for the deadline, and give them my work to present while I stand there as if I'd been part of a group all along. It's a flawed system but it works for me." He shrugged. "I don't really do the whole... people thing. I'm actually a little uncomfortable talking to you right now." He admitted.
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Delphine was lost for words for a moment. Alex's response had two points, both of which she did not expect. She had never thought that anyone would admit to doing group projects solo, because that usually meant that people did not want to work with them. Alex, however, seemed to do that by choice. The statement he had ended with came across as rather blunt, and would have been hurtful if she had not picked up that short explanation right before he said it, which made it his issue instead of hers. She found it ironic that he seemed to be the farthest thing from a people person, considering how she knew that he worked in customer service. It led her to wonder why he took such a job in the first place.

"Yo, Nixon!" A boy from the day before waved her over to his table as the pair stepped into the cafeteria.

Delphine smiled and waved back before turning to Alex. "I'd ask you to join us, but since you said that, you know..."
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Alex shook his head. "I appreciate the offer, and I know you mean well, but I'd just be an anxious mess." He chuckled lightly. "I do much better on my own. And before you say anything, don't worry about me. People have introducing me to people before, but I'm just naturally a loner. I enjoy my own company and other people tend to make me anxious. To be honest you're one of the few people I'm not very anxious around, and that's pretty strange considering how I don't really know you... well at all really." He shrugged. "If you want to work on the group project together though I don't mind. It'd be interesting to have someone else's input for a change."
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Delphine was pleasantly surprised at Alex opening up to her after what he had told her before. When he finally stated that she did not make him as anxious as many others did, she could not help but doubt if it was the truth. He might not have known her personally, but as a staff member of Starlight Flavors, it was highly likely that he knew who she was to the restaurant chain. Perhaps he was taking care not to offend her. Regardless, she responded with a pleasant smile.

"Well, I'm glad to hear that, and I would love to work with you on the project! So, I'll see you after school then?"
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Alex nodded. "Do you want to swap phone numbers or something? Just in case we need to get in touch with each other about the project?" He asked. Alex was the type to have a contingency plan for his contingency plan. He always thought ahead. He genuinely wanted to trade numbers in case one of them had to cancel last minute. He was the type to have two separate power banks in his bag, and one in his locker, just in case. Though he had never been a boy scout, he was still enthralled by the "always be prepared" attitude toward life in general.
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"Oh, but of course love. That's always a good idea," she responded with a nod herself, before handing him her phone and holding her other hand out for him to pass her his. "We'll figure out a place to go, because I'm quite certain you wouldn't want to go back to Starlight Flavors on your day off, unless you want to, then do let me know alright?"

After they had finished keying their own numbers onto each other's phones, Delphine bid him goodbye and grabbed a tray of lunch before making her way over to her friends, who had obviously noticed her conversation with Alex.

"So, you actually got Wolfe to speak to you," came a comment. "It's weird how you're so persistent about this though, even yesterday when you kept asking us questions. Hmm, could it be that you..."

"Look, he's a classmate and an employee of Starlight Flavors, it would be good to make friends with him," Delphine simply stated, dismissing the implication that had just been made. "Anyway, what's weird was how the interaction you lot had with him went. Anyone would be curious about that, and since the rest of you claim that it's so difficult to communicate with him, I believe I should even be proud to say that he has just agreed to work on a project with me."

"Wow Nixon, what you should be proud of is how quickly you're catching on. It's only your second day and you've already learnt to leech off the quiet kid."

Delphine let out a playful scoff. "Leech off indeed, I'm his partner for the project."

However, without the knowledge of her friends, that statement had her worrying slightly. Was that what everyone thought of anybody who worked with Alex? Furthermore, she was a new student. What was everyone going to think of her? Well, it was not as if she should care, and besides, her friends knew the truth, right? It was not as if Alex was unlikable, he was just... different. At least, that was pretty much what she had picked up from her interactions with him so far.
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Alex returned to a seat on his own, plugging in his earphones and flipping open a book as he happily began his lunch. Had he... made a friend? It was a strange feeling, something that wasn't entirely unfamiliar, but he was definitely out of practice. He quickly took his phone out of his pocket and looked at the number in his phone. Delphine Nixon. The one contact he had who wasn't a relative, work or his doctor. He put his phone away again and continued reading his book. "A fresh start." He whispered to himself before sipping his drink. Let's hope this time it goes better. He thought.
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