I teleported back to school. While most of the grand campus of Silent Glen was still alive and bustling, our end of the woods had grown quieter as the evening progressed.
I appeared on the lawn outside my section of the outer-student dormitories. Compared to the rest of school our lodgings were more or less akin to tenement housing.
The Rickety wood and plaster buildings were made up of dozens of one to two-person rooms, with two communal bathrooms placed on each floor.
The water was often cold and more often then not you could hear “things” skittering in the walls, but all in all it was warm, quiet and dry, which more or less meant I counted it liveable.
I was still in an awful mood from destroying that city.
It had seemed a good idea at the time but now I was regretting it. Now I was pissed off, and slightly teary eyed. Feeling somewhat alarmed because I’d gained the [True Hero] title.
Which meant that there’d been a Demon king somewhere in that city. And if I my ping had missed a bloody demon king, a creature of a scale that varied from deep infernal to deep divine, and so powerful it should have been like missing a nuclear flash, while in a dark cave who knows what else I might have missed.
So there I was in the very worst of moods. One worse than the mood that would always find me shortly before it was time for me to move to yet another foster family, who would be similarly unenthused to take on the cultist’s kid.
In any case, my mood was foul, and all that I wanted to do was get to my room, crawl into bed and sleep for three days, or however long it took for life to stop feeling so intolerable.
I was well on my way to doing just that, when I realized that there was an obstruction, a barricade in my path, one made of teenaged bodies and teenaged hormones.
There was a crowd of boys gathered by my door, from the lighter green of their green and black blazers I realized that a few of them of them were actually inner students.
They were laughing, being noisy and obnoxious as teenagers tended to be whenever they were gathered in suitable numbers.
I normally wouldn’t have cared but as I said, they were gathered around my door and as I’ve already belaboured, I wasn’t in the best of moods.
In my defense, I “did” at least try to be civil about the whole thing, swallowing the deep and guttural growl, that tried to escape from out of the monster that lived in my core.
“Ah…um…hey guys.” said I.
“Huh? Hey, man how’s it hanging?” said one inner-student.
“Yeah, er, we know we might be in the way, but our chief here is just trying to have a little chat with somebody.” said the student.
“Er…alright…Don’t mind me I just want to get to my-”
“Huh? Didn’t you hear me, dude? This hallway is off-limits for now. Come back later.”
And normally I would have done just that. While obviously more than a little chat was taking place here it was none of my business.
Honestly there was even the possibility of just pretending to back of and then teleporting in my room. Honestly I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t teleported into my room to begin with.
Perhaps it was because I was just that tired. Mentally and magically drained from my trip to the city.
Thus, instead of backing off, I persisted.
“Er…y-, yeah…I get that, but you see that’s my room and I really kind of need to-”
“Dude, seriously? Just walka-”
The guy was interrupted by one of his pals.
“Marco, is that dude still fucking here? You, Yo. My friend. Fuck off. Like all the way off. Your betters are busy right now. Now leave while I’m still in a good mood.”
Said another guy, who was also and inner student. Triangle eared with big blue eyes. A humankin. A Foxman.
Again, I’d like to stress the point that I wouldn’t have normally done as I did were I not so exhausted at the time. I was no brute and didn’t have a habit of coming into loggerheads with the children that I was currently calling my peers.
Even if my “body” was a teenager, my “mind” was still that of a proper adult, thank you very much.
Unfortunately, the guy hadn’t just told me to fuck off, he showed me how to do so with a shove. Which was then reinforced and escalated, by one of the other boys who hadn’t spoken yet pouring his drink over my head. The sticky, soda syrup seeping through my hair and into my clothes.
That was the sound of the kid who poured the soda on my head smashing into the wall next to us.
“That” was the sound of the kid who’d told me to fuck off, colliding with the wall on the far end of the hallway.
“Hey what the hell do you think you’re doing ma-”
Was the sound of the guy who’d actually pretty decent if slightly heavy handed, being sent flying into two of his fellows with enough force that at least one of them, was definitely going to need to make a trip to the school infirmary.
The lads who were still standing tried to fight me….That was “their” mistake, but luckily for all of us, myself included, I didn’t end up killing or maiming any of them.
Finally the way to my door was clear, or at least it was almost clear. I saw one last guy standing there and pressed up against the door was a girl.
“Come on, babe…don’t be like that.” said the guy.
“…Leave me alone, Vince.” said the girl.
“Are you serious? Why so cold? Didn’t we used to play together when were kids.” said the guy.
The girl just glared. Arms crossed over her chest as final buffer to the guy’s encroachment on her personal bubble.
I found that I’d changed my mind, I did care, what was going on. I generally didn’t care for most people, even my friendship with Jack was mostly one sided. However the neighbor girl, the girl who lived in the room across from mine was an exception.
We didn’t talk, and I didn’t know her name. We barely ever met in the hallways and when we did our exchanges were always terse but polite. Part of why I liked her was the fact that we lived in close proximity and she still somehow managed to not be nuisance to me. I’ve had bad luck with that.
My last neighbors were literal monsters and my neighbors before that, in the non-exploded Agartha, were frat boys who went to the local college. Loud as all get up and chronic litterers.
As a neighbor the girl was fairly decent.
If she had friends, I assume they mostly hung out elsewhere. If she had a paramore, I was never assaulted by the sounds of their youthful intimacies. No “ghostly” moans ever came through the wall, calling on the heavens or simply repeating the word yes.
In other words, she was the perfect neighbor, or the very least a fairly adequate one. Which by my standards, equated to perfection.
Occasionally we got each other’s mail, but asides from that I often forgot she even existed. Which paradoxically made her memorable for me.
Which was why I ended up changing my mind, if it was any other girl, any other hallway, any other time, or any other day, I might not have cared. But today was different and she in a very vague and distance sense was someone with which I was acquainted and they were leaning on my door.
“…Come on, Lou…Be my girl. You know I’ll treat you ri-” said the guy. Blind to all the hints, signals, blearing signs and flags of rejection that the girl was putting out.
I interjected, completely out of patience with the whole situation, and not seeing any reason to continue being unnecessarily courteous.
I said, following my words with a kick, because I too was apparently still young enough at heart that the hormones and adrenaline coursing through my veins had me amped enough to pick a fight with anything and everything.
The guy wasn’t expecting the kick because who expects a kick out of nowhere. So fell on his side and sort of rolled on the floor for a bit.
Having dealt with nuisance, I turned to the neighbor, remembering my manners again.
She moved. Staring at me. Her hands on her arms. Her look grim. She looked pissed, but not at me. And I know this because while I was bad with people, I was good at knowing when they were pissed at me.
“Motherfucker…Do you know who I am?” said the guy. Slowly pulling himself up off the floor.
As a matter of fact I didn’t know who he was, but I did know that in schools like this he could well be someone troublesome. Thus I stopped, turning back towards him, reluctantly releasing my grip on the handle of my door.
A single footstep phased me to his position. I appeared in front of him. Glaring down at him. I found thoughts of murder dancing through my head that I had to spend a little time putting to rest. Then I stared at him some more and let my archive find out all about him.
“Alright, Vinny. Vincent Orwell Finch. Of the Finch Family. Son of Harold Finch, famous trader in the leveller markets, and Rebecca Finch-Mcknight from the Mcknights of the Green Rose Kingdom….You’ve surmised correctly in stating that I don’t know who the fuck you are….But tell me…Do you know who “I” am? Hmm? How about this…While you’re telling your daddy to look into it. Why don’t you ask him to why he’s letting the Rascovich play around so much, huh? It’s all fun and games till someone gets hurt. And I’m pretty sure, if you know who, finds out, the Finches will be included in that.”
I was mostly bluffing, throwing whatever looked useful in his family’s portfolio into his face, but I found a bit of satisfaction in watching the boy’s angry look cool off. His haughty expression replaced by one of confusion and uncertainty.
I shoved him away, letting him tumble into the friends that had been trying to get up from where I’d dropped them.
I turned back towards my door, ready to retreat for the next few evenings.
The girl was staring at me, still looking tense, but looking less so than before.
“You didn’t have to do that…I can handle my own issues.” she said. Face paler than usual. Her expression approximately five kinds of pissed.
“Right…I’m sure you can…Next time, try”handling” them on your side of the hall, yeah?” I grumped. Slamming the door shut after I’d entered my little one room apartment.