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::Chapter Two::

Marry him.

Thats what he had asked her. Just like that, he had come out and said it. As if it were the most natural thing in the world. As if she got marriage proposals everyday. Sighing, Bunny put away the sketch she'd been trying to concentrate on and instead laid her head on her pillow. It was occupying her every thought, this man and his proposal. Should she accept? He'd made it clear in telling her, quite bluntly, that if she didn't marry him, he'd have no quarms in letting her go on her way. She wondered what was in it for him. Was it one of those marriages of convenience she read about in those romance novels? She turned over and stared at the ceiling.

The moments after he'd proposed were a blur. She couldn't remember that much about it, except that she'd shaken her head, cried out something angry. She'd never marry anyone just to be able to stay in school. She would marry for love, because she was in love. He'd looked thoughtful at her little outburst, staring down at her a momentarily, reading her expression, which at the moment, was outraged.

And then he smiled.

That same mysterious, unreadable smile he'd given her before. "Alright, Bunny," he'd said softly. "I'll give you a few hours to think this through. My offer still stands." And then he'd turned and left, his grey figure disappearing in the misty rain. She'd stood there for a moment, her beautiful cream suit now a dull chalky yellow because of the rain. What had he meant? His offer still stands?! How dare he! She wouldn't change her mind, not in a million y-

"Bunny!!!" It was Cathy. She sat up, looking down from her perch on the top bunk. Catherine stepped completely into the dorm room, shutting the door behind her with a worried look on her face. "You'll never guess what's happening!," the girl exclaimed breathlessly. "The Academy is cutting off it's scholarship and loan programs! Everyones talking about it! Over 40% of the student body is being sent away!!" She stopped, suddenly noticing Bunnys forlone expression.

"Oh Bunny...I'm sorry..." She looked heartbroken. "You had a scholarship too, didn't you?" Bunny nodded, her eyes already tearing up. Catherine shook her head sadly. "Oh, Buns..." She climbed up the ladder to comfort her friend. Bunny crumbled and fell into Catherine's waiting arms, sobbing. Cathy was like a sister of sorts. Unable to hold it in any longer, she told her everything...including the proposal.

Cathy frowned.

"He...proposed to you? After he threatened to kick you out?" She glared. "What a two face! Thats not right at all! You should report him!," she raged.

Bunny sighed. "I don't think anyone would care. With as much power and influence as he has, who would believe me? Besides. Trieze Khushranada is the most respected man in the world!" At this, Catherine shook her head.

"Honestly Bunny..the most respected man in the world?" She giggled. Bunny could be so dramatic at times. She just couldn't help but laugh at her innocence.

"Well, what should I do? I mean...I can't go home..." She couldn't go back there, to her childhood place..not after raising her parent's hopes like this. And besides. What was there for her anyway? Darian was gone, maybe even dead for all she knew. Mina was in England. Amy was in Germany studying medicine. Lita was in Italy, living out her cooking dream, and managing a floral shop on the side...and she had no idea where Rei was. She'd been the last to leave Tokyo, reluctant to leave the shrine.

Catherine scratched her head. She didn't have to worry about such things as being kicked out. Atleast not right now, anyway. She was being funded by the Circus, who gave free shows to the federation when they were in town, and as long as they were satisfied, she wasn't going anywhere. "I know! How about you stay and join the circus? I'm sure they could get you back in! Do you have any other talents besides art?" Bunny shook her head. She was still clumbsy..not quite the clutz she used to be...but not at all graceful. Not like the flowy Catherine Bloom. When she walked into a room, she seemed to glide. Catherine sighed.

Perhaps she could persuade the circus to take Bunny in...just for a while atleast....they'd taken Trowa a while back, but then again, Trowa was-

She was interrupted by Bunny hopping noisily from the bed. The girl wasn't kidding...she had to be the most uncoordinated person she'd ever met. "Where are you going?" Catherine asked, concern heavily apparent in her voice. Sometimes she was like a mother.

"I need to walk around...maybe think..," Bunny replied softly.

"Don't think about marrying Trieze!" Bunny walked out the door.

Everything was so complicated. Why did things have to be this way for her? She made her way out of the dorms and into the courtyard. Maybe she just needed some fresh air...to clear her head. Don't think about marrying Trieze, Cathy had said. But how could she not think about it? It was constantly on her mind. Afterall, it wasn't everyday that one got a proposal for marriage. Especially her. Why did he want to marry her anyway? He knew nothing about her. He was sure if he knew how clumsy and messy she could be, he'd reconsider his proposal. Even Darian used to comment on her manner's sometimes. She made her way over a secluded area on the grass and sat down under a large oak tree. She'd figure something out. Nothing was bad enough to give up hope, right? She'd learned that from her days as Sailor Moon.

Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a loud voice.

"You mean they're planning something big?! That explains why they're gettin' rid of all loan dependant students!!" Bunny gasped. What were they talking about? At her gasp, the voice stopped, and the air seemed to freeze with suspicion.

She suddenly felt uneasy. Whatever it was that person had been talking about, she was not supposed to hear it. She could hear a soft distinct 'CLICK' of something on the other side, and fast urgent whispering. She decided to go apologize. She hadn't meant to eavsdrop. Standing, she brushed off her white cotton turtle neck and jeans, and made her way deftly behind the large tree.

At first she saw nothing, it seemed as if this whole side of the tree was hidden in shadow, which made her even more sure that whatever they'd been talking about was supposed to be a secret. She remembered back in Middle school, when Lita, Ami had herself had gathered behind a similar tree to discuss scout affairs. As her eyes adjusted to the scarce light, she could make out two slim figures. She already knew from the sound of the voice that atleast one of them were male. But now she discovered that they both were.

She gave a friendly smile.

"Hi! I'm sorry...please don't think I was eavsdropping or anything..," she started. "I only heard you say something about kicking students out, and-" Her voice choked. She began to back away. "I'm sorry...if I disturbed you..." She turned to go.

"Hey! Wait a second!"

She felt herself being grabbed by her arm and turned around. Looking up, she gound herself staring straight into a pair of sparkling Indigo colored eyes. It was a boy, the one she'd heard talking. He was about 4 inches or so taller than her, and slight of build, although if you looked at him closly, he seemed to pocess the agility of a cat, and his sinewy arms were hard with pre-developed muscle. He had long brown, his bangs hanging messily in his face, and the rest of it gathered in a tight braid down his back.

She blushed, realizing that he was still holding her arm. He grinned, noticing her discomfort.

"No need to run so fast!," he remarked. "We were just about to get offended, until we saw how pretty you were. Isn't that right, Heero?" The only answer he got was a low grunt. Turning back to the girl, he grinned again. She wondered what he found so amusing that he smiled so much.

"Don't mind him," he said, rolling his eyes, "he gets like this around females. Come on out Heero, it's only a freshman!" Another grunt, this time more distinct. Bunny giggled, her checks flushing a bright pink.

"How did you know I was a freshman?," she asked curiously. The boy laughed, thoroughly amused.

"Cuz Sophmores are rude...Seniors don't give a damn, Juniors just sort of go with the flow, and Freshman are always trying not to step on anyone's toes!" He laughed, enjoying his little joke.

"Oh? What are you?," Bunny asked intrigued. She was starting to like this boy.

"Me?," he asked amused, "well, I'm just that lovable guy everyone finds irresistable. Heero over there is the guy you love to hate." He laughed again, and she had a feeling that this was some private joke between him and the other boy. Either that or the whole concept had just gone over her head. It was then that she noticed the other boy. He'd come out of the shadows and was eyeing her suspiciously. His bangs were set in much the same way as the other guy, except his were more unruly than messy. His eyes were one of the prettiest shades of blue she'd ever seen. What was that shade called?

She couldn't think of it at the moment.

His dark, brooding eyes seemed to take in her whole being, swallowing her up. She shivered, turning back to the other boy, who was by far more easier to talk to. Turning back, she discovered that while she'd been assessing 'Heero' as the other one called him, the other guy had been assessing her. Infact, he was still doing so, unabashingly. His eyes seemed to trail across her chest, which had grown considerably in the past few years. She crossed her arms across them self consciously.

This struck him as hilariously funny, and he threw back his head and laughed. Bunny frowned in confusion. Heero scowled in disgust.

"Duo, stop that," he ordered, in monotone. He had a deep voice, much deeper than his friend's, even though they looked about the same age. Duo. So that was his name? After a few minutes, he'd calmed down and ruffled her hair playfully.

"Hey kiddo! Don't mind me! I get like this sometimes. Besides. With all the war going on in the world, somebody has to have atleast a little humor left! I mean, you don't wanna end up a mindless Zombie like that do ya?" he stated, shaking his finger reproachfully at his companion. "By the way, I'm Duo. What's your name?"

Bunny smiled. "Bunny Tsukino."

Duo shook his head. "Bunny, huh? You do look a bit like a rabbit, with the hair and everything." He reached out, squeezing one of the odango on her head. She glanced over at Heero, who was glaring at her, and hunched her shoulders self consciously. What was his problem anyway?

Duo sighed.

"Don't mind him. Remember when I said he had no sense of humor? It's true." He paused. "Although, you really should be more careful. A pretty girl like you shouldn't be walking in such secluded places, giving out her full name, especially when the other person only gives his first name." She felt a chill go through her. What was he saying? That she shouldn't have told him her name? Her blue eyes widened as she gazed up innocently into his face. Suddenly he winked, giving her a light pat on her check with his hand.

"Well, take care there, Buns! Maybe I'll see you around." And he walked away, with Heero frowning darkly at her before he too followed. Bunny watched the two go with curious wonderment. She'd never met anyone like those two before. She didn't know how the happy-go-lucky Duo had ended up with a grouch like Heero as his friend anyway. Shrugging, she continued on her way. She was still confused, but she did know one thing.

She wasn't ready to leave.

Not yet. There was too much for her to experience here....so much more for her to see and feel....and learn too, she guessed. Making up her mind, she made her way quickly to the Chairman's office, before she lost her nerve.

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