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Nil Illigitemi Descendum

      Washuu blinked.
      Time and life are the toys of the gods, or, at least, so it is said.
      In myth, the sun or moon almost always is the designator of time. By the Jewish calendar, the rising and setting of the sun designated the zero of the clock, as per Elohym's rules. According to Greek mythology, the rising and setting of the sun designated the zero of the clock, as per Apollo's designation.
      Generally, it is assumed, the sun seemed to matter a fair bit when there was a god shoving it around. Gods, it seemed, held a lot of clout as far as timekeeping went.
      Therefore, it's not surprising that for Washuu worked to her own clock, her patterns of wakefulness and sleep to only grant a nod and a wink at the commonly accepted solar patterns, if only to annoy those same gods. Whether or not the gods _existed_ wasn't the issue at hand - it was the principle of the thing. It was, in fact, downright weird to have her comply to a 'normal' day-to-day lifestyle pattern for more than the shortest of time periods.
      For example, Washuu did not so much have 'meals' as irregular raids of the refrigerator for food.
      However, not everyone knew this.
      Washuu glanced around the side of the fridge door to see just what it was she was dealing with, and that possibly the phone had _not_ rung at six AM. A Shou'ou impersonating the phone would be more likely than a genuine phonecall from someone else in CAPOW.
      Shrugging, she placed the celery back in the crisper and strode over to the phone, kicking the door shut behind her.
      "Heloooo? Hakubi residence!" Washuu asked, perkily. If it was a telemarketer, there'd be heck to pay and then some.
      "Er... hello... Hakubi-san. Is Falora-chan awake yet?"
      Washuu blinked. Much younger voice than she'd been expecting.
      Washuu glanced upstairs, towards where Falora, Jo, and Anne would be sleeping. The absolute absence of any noise at all confirmed her hypothesis that they'd not wake up until told to.
      "I'm afraid not. May I ask who's calling?"
      "Um, this is Ayaui... from school."
      Washuu nodded, as the facts became clear. "I'm sorry, Falora's still in bed. But I can take a message for her."
      "Thank you, Hakubi-san. Can you ask her if she could fill in for me today as iincho[1]... I can't go to school today."
      Washuu nodded, and scribbled the note down on the paper near the phone. "Okay."
      "Thank you, Hakubi-san! Bai bai!"
      Washuu snickered a bit. "Okay, okay. Bye."

There are some who may object towards the pointlessness of the above incident. Or of the general pointlessness of this opening. The prose is overrought, the examples thin on the ground, and the incident itself is of so little note that there is no emotion. Questions are left unanswered. Do we know _why_ Ayaui cannot attend school? Do we find out just what Washuu was eating? When _does_ Falora wake up? Is it a refrigerator or a fridge?
      If you do indeed desire answers, please send $50US, a return address, and the fare for travel from Australia to PO Box 120033, Locked Bag, NSW, so the author can travel to your home and beat you senseless with a length of wood.
      If you don't, it's clear you're obviously getting sick of this padding of the story, and the author will begin reconstructing the fourth wall.

It was a day. Not a notably good one, though, as far as days usually went, it was hardly old enough to be considered a bad one. A few early birds had had remarkably good days thus far, and in stark contrast, a good few worms had had days that were not only quite bad, but quite short. The worms could take small comfort in the thought that they would never have bad days ever again.
      However, there are some people, to whom, any day is a good day to perceive as a good day. These people are usually termed "Cheerful", or "enthusiastic." They are occasionally referred to as "Sociopaths." These days are called "Good Hair Days".
      Sakura Kizama was such a person. A teacher blessed with a cheerful disposition and a joyful heart, she was also marginally less blessed with a name that was as common as dirt and a face to match. This did not diminsh her joyful attitude, however, and it did not keep her from humming a brisk little tune as she readied herself for another day. She was going to have, she was sure, a Good Hair Day.
      One wonders how a junior high school teacher could maintain such a suffocating aura of happiness. One wonders how a junior high school teacher could manage to maintain anything other than a comparatively[2] ordered classroom, and even then such a feat would be considered striking.
      But no, Kizama-sensei was a staunch believer in positive thoughts and happiness. And she kept thinking positive thoughts and cheery tones even while packing her bags and casually hopping the train to the school, even as she passed the casual salarymen, even as she walked up the stairs, even as she walked into the staffroom, and even as she made her first-morning coffee.
      And every last one of them careened to a halt as she reached to the small fridge for the cream.
      She was always the first in. Teaching history and culture to children barely old enough to discern the difference between last year's baseball finals and the Edo Era on the scale of importance made on prepare a great deal. But this morning, she had been beaten in to work. This didn't phase her in the slightest - she was not a competitive person.
      But what she was was a paranoid person. Anything Suspicious would arouse her almost instantly, making it utter hell for her students if they were so foolish as to produce any notes that didn't directly resemble the subject at hand. One hapless girl had once had to recite the note from her parents detailing her chicken pox when Kizama-sensei was feeling particularly enthusiastic.
      And Suspicious stood four inches from her without her having noticed him all morning.
      He was, of first note, tall. Tall for an asian, and tall even for a gaijin. As she looked up at his six foot three frame, the next note to come to mind was that he was _ugly_. Even a plain woman like herself could notice that this man, silently standing where he was, was no oil painting.
      Notes three through nine vanished as he looked at her like he'd just seen her, snorted, and shouldered past her from his position in the corner of the teacher's lounge.
      Observation changed to supposition and then to suspicion, and Sakura, as soon as she figured this man was suitably far away, stepped from the lounge, observed the direction in which he was parting, and ran like all heck the opposite way, looking for the janitor or security guard - whichever came first.

The man nodded. Well, he'd looked around the school, and he'd become familiar enough to navigate without help. Content that he'd gotten that under his belt - before the teachers arrived no less - he removed himself from the school grounds. After all, since he didn't actually have the position there for another twenty-four hours, there was no need to hang around, was there?
      Kizama-sensei had to have the day off, to the joy of her students. Apparently, this, combined, with the absence of a new English teacher gave them a significant bout of free time.

"Joyful joyful, we adore the-"*CRACK*
      Shimaru Shinsei was one of those polar opposites to Sakura Kizama. Of the most important note, he was male. He was also stuck in a permanent Bad Day. In Shimaru's case, it would be a Bad Hair Day, but for the remarkable absence of hair. So, Shimaru was having a Bad Day. It was barely fifteen minutes past six, and he was already having a bad day.
      Aside from having put the fear of god into an apparently overparanoid teacher, Shimaru had had nothing but bad things to say about this day in particular. He'd woken up on the wrong side of the bed - and fallen out to land on something painfully cornered. He'd found the washing machine broken and his only clean clothes to be beaten leathers from his days spent beating around tombs in Israel. He'd found all the milk in his fridge was expired. He'd found that he had no coffee left. He'd found a remarkable absence of tea in his cupboards. He'd found he had woken up excruciatingly early. He'd found no water whatsoever when he tried to turn on his taps in what he laughingly referred to as his home, condemning him to either a day without a bath or a trip to the public baths - both hells beyond contemplation.
      And his car radio, tape deck and CD Player, regardless of any kind of actual input that would influence its conventional output, was not going to stop playing anything but Christian Music.
      In the past, Shimaru had nothing against Christians. Some of his best friends had been nominally Christian - a few of the Caesers, at least - and his family had never really denied its faintly European bent and blood, producing its tall offspring. But Shimaru now held a grudge against Christianity on the most primal level; in the big street of life, God had chosen to fling a brick through his window. A big brick. A big brick with a wasp's nest attached.
      And so every joyous exultation from his speakers was punctuated by an incredibly hefty thump directly into the electronic face of the expensive equipment. In defiance with common laws of physics, where a person of Shimaru's strength could put his fist clean through the device, the device remained producing high-fidelity praises and hymns.
      "Fricking... hell..." Shimaru muttered as he took a roundabout, his free hand mercilessly hammering away at the radio. "Six billion people on the face of the frickin' planet and it has to be me with a baptist in my radio."
      The refrain abruptly changed to horns and swing as Shimaru checked the streetsigns, his irritation fading as a ska beat began to pick up his spirits[3] and his mind began to occupy itself with the task of locating his future employment.
      Smirking nastily to himself, Shimaru found the street name, and merrily rode down it, muttering angrily as the early morning hordes of pedestrians began to filter across crossings and impede his progress. Just as his mood began to blacken, he tried to at least keep himself from trying to throttle his steering wheel by turning up the music.
      The tune, he admitted, was foreign, an English one. No, American. Ah, good ska was a rare beast in Japan - one had to turn to the west for such things. Yes, this was... Five Iron Frenzy, if he wasn't mistaken.
      He wasn't.
      Just as his mind began to absorb itself in the identification of the style, and possibly... ENJOY himself... Shimaru's brief hiatus from bastardly grouchiness was cut short by acknowledging the lyrics.
      "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow-"
      Shimaru grumbled as he parked the car and swore nastily as he gathered his accoutremonts to go face the day.
      The Bad Day.

He rocked back in his chair as the students filed in. Heh. They hadn't expected _that_, he bet. To have the teacher turn up first, especially given how early the students usually arrived, would have been a tad jarring. Ah well, they're just elementary kids. Shimaru didn't see any reason to single any one of them out for uniquely abusive treatment.
      Stretching his shoulders, Shimaru glared around the room through his sunglasses and adjusted his cap. There had been one or two who'd turned up early, and, being right teacher's pets, had sat attentively as though expecting him to start some kind of conversation. Shimaru almost sniggered at the thought of any of these kids holding a cohesive thought long enough to hold his interest.
      They were milling around their desks, a handful of kids all dealing with assorted issues and generally having as much fun in the last few moments before school began as they possibly could. And as luck - or at least whatever it was that determined Shimaru's interactions with the universe not determined by other people or deities - would have it, there were a handful of loudmouthed kids.
      Scratching an ear, Shimaru scanned the kids. Not a _bad_ bunch, per se. They were wearing their shoes properly, which indicated that if they thought they were toughies, they weren't showing it. They were all in school uniform with very few personal flairs attached. That sort of shtick didn't really kick in until Junior year anyway.
      Shrugging, Shimaru glanced up at the bell and then at the clock. And then counted.
      Shimaru took in a breath and counted once more, to ten. The first encounter with a teacher is always a difficult time. Those who wish to engage in as exploitative a relationship as possible have a penchant for pushing the teacher's limits, in hopes to determine themselves as some kind of special case that was beyond redemption. Others attempt to become the teacher's pet by being as well-behaved as possible.
      But the instant the bell rang, the visiting students suddenly felt the room temperature drop by a fraction[4], and made themselves absent as swiftly as possible. Shimaru had barely counted to six.
      But no, three students continued to prattle away. Two girls and a boy.
      Shimaru shrugged as he got to ten, the hunk of chalk already between his fingers. With a practiced arm, he raised it behind his head and let fly...

Now, projectile warfare between students and teachers is not an uncommon thing in Japanese schools. Erasers, chalk, shoes and pens are frequently used as ammunition in the war of education, and the most open assaults are on the part of the teacher. The sternness of the projectiles can be used to awaken a dozing student, or as a non-verbal reprimand.
      However, this ilk of hazardous flak is generically constrained to higher grades with more difficulties in discipline.
      Which is why the more-or-less docile class was not prepared for the remote possibility that not only would the newest sensei see fit to throw things around the room, nor that he'd be at that limit within his first minute of being on-duty.
      With a sort of delayed prescience, the student glanced up at the chalk, not spinning drunkenly like a kind of hurled axe but rather ballistically spinning towards like a long white bullet. And instinct took over as the body curled in on itself and the bladder emptied.
      The chalk zoomed over his head, making a faint humming noise until it struck the lockers on the back wall of the class and shattered.
      "Well." Shimaru shrugged. "Anyone get the message? In your seats, pukes."
      Were it not that it would have shown a crack in the unassailable armour Shimaru had erected around him to provide the effect of a heartless bastard of a tutor who would trash his students up to - but not including - the point of death[5], he would have grinned.
      As it was, he just shrugged.
      "Well, I'm sure you all know," he said, flinging his feet around the side of his desk and flattening his chair, "Your last teacher, whatever his name was, buggered off. I can give you a two-word reason for why, for those of you to whom it may concern, but since I doubt any of you is educated enough to know that reason, I'm not going to waste the effort. Instead, I'm going to make you embarass yourself by standing up and giving a poorly-worded, on-the-fly speech, as per custom, simply because, yes, I'm a sadistic bastard, and there's nothing you can do about it. And then we'll conjugate some irregular verbs. So har-de-har."
      Shimaru smiled inwardly. This job could be more fun than he thought.
      "Righto." Shimaru pointed at a girl in the front row. "You. Up here. And the first person to smirk's up next."

To those interested in temporal physics and their nomenclature, the shortest amount of time in a schoolroom setting is the ohnosecond, the time between a teacher requesting a volunteer and then running out of patience waiting for said volunteer and selecting the single student in the least capable position to accomodate the demands of the task at hand.
      As the last of the sound waves of Shimaru's first statement had barely begun to reach the back wall and begin their slow progress towards their own demise, they encountered his next word coming in the opposite direction, causing a real traffic jam for those with sensitive ears.
      And even those without sensitive ears can barely accomodate the sheer terror carried in the one word that was uttered. If speech was silver and silence golden, this word carried such doom it may has well have been depleted uranium. It was a word that had a gravitational field. This word was the word all students the world over dread. It is a word, in the end, that has taken more students to their academic graves than any other three words combined (saving for "Oh, no.").


Narrative takes this moment to observe the basic animal impulses surging through the mind of the next victim;

And Narrative, having had a good old eavesdrop on the human psyche, turns to where Shimaru is speaking to the poor girl out the front...
      "So... get on with it. Recite your name, age, and whatever goddamned thing I'm supposed to care about right here and now, oh, and whatever sentai you feel is the strongest, and then we'll all pretend to care and talk about you behind your back. It's such a shame that the class has already had a degree of cohesion and as such you won't be backstabbed by early starters on junior high, but there's only so much I can do, so I will observe this simple social dynamic watching you squirm. Well? We're waaaaaaaaaaiiiiting."

And back to the child in their seat, who is infinitely more interesting...

And Narrative decides to just sod off altogether.

"Geeze. What crawled up his butt?" Anne had managed to mutter to Joseph before being shuttled off to her own class.
      Joseph was smarter than that. He was all-but hiding under his desk. He had nothing against teaching as a rule, and he certainly didn't think all teachers were evil incarnate.
      However, there was a walking, talking, steretype out the front currently humiliating the class one by one.
      Joseph just rested his head on his desk.

By some amazing stroke of luck, Shimaru wearied of scaring the hell out of his class, and by the time the clock had ticked to the halfway mark of his hour-long stint with these students, had stood up, introduced himself in the most basic of ways - writing his name in hiragana on the board - and then began to rattle onto the class about their studies.
      "Okay, twerps. Unlike most new teachers, I am not going to attempt to start from scratch and therefore fulfill my own neat shedules; instead, let's find the point at which the students you're actively weak. So... respond, if you can."
      They handled him as he belted through his alphabet at lightning speed. They were not, after all, a dumb class.
      As he rocketed through his state-of-being verbs and action verbs and the distinctions inbetween, they stayed with him.
      A handful of the class kept up with him as he reeled past articles and nodded at adverbs.
      And a stark silence fell over them as he resorted to slang.
      And boy, did he exploit it.
      Sure, Written English was one thing. But the colloquialisms Shimaru reeled off at the room full of elementary children was terrifyingly fast, and barely a member of the class caught any of them. That was, until...
      "[Your muzzere was an 'amster and-]"
      "[Your fazzere smelt of elderberries!]" Joseph responded.
      Shimaru paused.
      "[I suppose...]" Shimaru said, in slightly accented English, "[That I deserved that one. Well then. You seem to be well-acquainted with the language. Most of these children speak it poorly, but you, I suppose, have the accent of a dairy maid.]"
      Joseph hit a crisis point.
      On one hand, he could exploit an advantage here, an advantage that may prove a saving grace in this class.
      On the other, it would set him apart and be possibly a nail in a coffin, as the weirdness around him exploded yet further into a cloud of improbabilities into which even fewer would dare stray.
      For a moment, Joseph wavered, his normally quiet impuleses wrestling with the momentary desire for the spotlight.
      And almost as though a direct result of the boy's penchant to change the probable to the improbable and the impossible into the likely, the desire won.
      "[That's appropriate. You have the accent of a cow.]"
      Shimaru's eyes narrowed a slight bit.
      "[I've known dogs better-versed in Eigo than you.]"
      Morphic resonance states that once something has been done, it will be done again and more easily. And so, it was not as as surprisign to see Joseph open his mouth for a response.
      "[Did they teach you everything you know?]"
      Shimaru paused.
      "Bien." he spoke in a very, low, quiet voice. For a moment, Joseph wasn't sure he'd heard him speak at all.
      "ANYWAY," Shimaru turned his back to his class and produced another chalk, using it to scrawl some terms on the board. "It seems that the grade average IQ for this particular turnip field is just as low as I thought it would be. You're learning English. Why are you learning it? So you can pepper your speech with random Japlish? If so, sod off and listen to the pop radio and spend these two classes bumming cigarettes off the junior high students that pass by. That's not why you learn a language."
      Shimaru shrugged. "So your first assignment, due... oh, I'll put it at..." Shimaru scratched the back of his neck. "Wednesday, next week, is to write a four-page essay on just why you're learning a second language."
      A groan came up from the class.
      "[In English. Submissions with so much 'gana, 'kana or kanji as your own name will be failed automatically.]"
      The groan increased.
      "Do you want it due _tomorrow_?"
      The groan silenced.
      The deadly pause that followed was only punctuated by the ringing of the bell, to signal the end of Shimaru's bout with the students.
      "Good. Now. I'm going to sod off." He shrugged and grinned, and stepped towards the door.
      As he put hand on the doorknob, he turned back, to face the class, his eye catching Joseph's for a moment, but nonetheless staring at space above and beyond Joseph's left ear.
      "[As the good things of day began to droop and drowse...]"
      Joseph looked up. For an instant, he felt words rise unbidden to his lips... then he silenced them. Shimaru looked momentarily disappointed, then smirked as if the universe had just proven him right.

Shimaru swore internally as he closed the door behind him. He swore internally as he walked to the teacher's lounge. He swore internally, in fact, all through the minutes of freedom he had to get himself together and to the next class. He swore as he downed his lukewarm water, he swore as he picked up his books, he swore _quite_ profusely at the other sensei who'd been such an inconsiderate sod to pilfer his schedule, and he swore as he stole someone else's, making the mental alterations to make the schdule fit his own classes.
      Fourteen minutes and over eight thousand swearwords in fourteen or more languages later, Shimaru opened the door to his next class. It was an older class, who had a slightly more studious and sincere look about them. The majority of the class were girls. Shimaru had been lead to understand that the demographic was currently somewhat skewed towards a higher female population in the higher grades for a variety of reasons about which Shimaru didn't care.
      Shimaru _did_ care about one thing - authority. From the moment he walked in the door, to the moment he sat down, he was pulling his huge frame in full steam, his narrow green eyes glaring around the room with the air of an extremely disgruntled man.
      There are those who will contend that Shimaru had never _been_ gruntled, but that's not the point.
      By the time he was sitting down, there was a thick atmosphere of terror. News could travel _fast_. Bad news could travel even faster, as the beta-testers for the Starship Titanic could testify.
      His eyes swept from one side of the class to the other. He had arrived early and the previous teacher had left early, granting the students a good few minutes in which to stretch their muscles while waiting for his reign to officially begin. The clock was ticking down.
      Shimaru reached into his jacket and slowly drew out a long, white piece of chalk. The sharper-eyed students in the first row may have noticed the caliber engraved in the base.
      Three minutes left.
      Shimaru glanced up at the class. Four or five girls were chattering away, with, oddly enough, the male students all seated. Two were classically archetypal geeks - thick glasses, pencil necks, and poor posture to boot. One was flicking through what looked from Shimaru's angle to be a novel of some stripe. A thick, bound novel.
      Two minutes left.
      The other few male students were seated and reading through their books. The girls were still chattering. Shimaru began to twirl the chalk in his hands angrily.
      There was, however, a detail he'd missed. A girl, in the front row, saw his sour look, and followed his line of vision. And you'd need to be a special type of idiot to not see how Shimaru's eyes were all-but-outlining a target on the back of the head of the girl whose back was towards him.
      One minute left.
      Falora did qualify as a special type of fool. But in this situation, she just wasn't special enough. Getting quickly to her feet, Falora brought herself to talk to the three girls, her face knit with concern.
      Her initial statements that they should try and sit down or the sensei'd be mad was drowned out by the ringing of the bell.
      No minutes.
      Shimaru's fingers all-but cracked through the sound barrier as the chalk took off. Shooting forwards at speeds quantifiable as a fraction of terminal velocity, the chalk began to spiral forward just as it had in the last class. Shimaru's face was set in a cast of serious disinterest as he drew a second and third piece of chalk.
      The first piece of chalk hit the spine of the boy's book, and with a cracking noise, the chalk shattered up and down its length, into two shards of chalk which both struck the boys's fingers around the book.
      This staggering feat of ballistics coincided terrifyingly fast with the bang of the second piece of chalk shattering on the back lockers, shaking the two dozing students up the back out of their slumber.
      And the third piece headed on a predetermined course, towards the chattering girl.
      The course in which Falora had intersposed herself.
      Shimaru blinked. Not that he actually gave a crap, but it wouldn't look as intimidating. Oh well.
      The chalk was buzzing towards Falora swiftly, powder trailing from it as the force behind it began its fragmentation...
      And it suddenly underwent a 90 degree turn and burst against the gyprock roof.
      Shimaru boggled.
      Not a good way to intimidate people, but hell, he'd scared the beshit out of them with the other two pieces of chalk - the girls were streaking towards their seats at speeds comparable to the chalk bullets earlier.
      But Shimaru was boggling.
      For a moment, he glanced at Falora, then at the marks on her face - and then he scowled, shaking his head as a dog in water clearing its head.
      Shimaru leaned back in his seat, glancing around at the class. History, he noted, glancing at the notes on his desk. Hmm.
      "Alright," Shimaru began.
      Shimaru sighed. Chirpy. He hated chirpy.
      Well, he hated dour, and glum, and cheerful, and every emotion in the spectrum 'twixt the two, but chirpy presented itself, so, why not hate that?
      "What?" Shimaru's tone of voice carried the solid implication that there were things far safer to do than to interrupt Shimaru mid-sentence. Such as bobbing for pirahnas.
      "Shouldn't the iincho perform her duties?"
      Shimaru glanced at Falora.
      "Yeah. Go nuts. Whoever it is." Shimaru rolled his eyes.
      Falora beamed, standing and turning to the class.
      Shimaru's brain was not a slow organ. It was, in fact, probably the most well-oiled part of his body, and when one considers his strength and flexibility, this said something of worth.
      And one thing Shimaru _had_ seen before were goddesses. Buttloads of them. Possibly the only interesting things in the entire godforsaken hell that was God's Waiting Room. As a sour note, he noticed that while man looks on the outwards appearance and god on the heart, Goddesses were probably even more shallow than man.
      And Shimaru's brief wariness at the sight of the girl's face clicked into solid alarm as he realised that if not an actual Goddess, than he was dealing with at least someone of a godly alignment.
      "Oh _sh-"
      "Be seated!"
      "... Sensei?"
      Shimaru stood up, pain obvious on his face. Gritting his teeth in a rictus of pain mixed with rage, he stalked to the door and swung it open.
      "Class dismissed."
      Then, before he could successfully escape to the lounge, he turned, pointing the Finger Of Doom at the young, blonde goddess in front row.
      "My. Office. NOW."

Shimaru got three steps out of the door, managed to hear it shut behind him, then collapsed on the ground, nursing his ribs. A moment later, the door of the classroom behind him opened again, and the timid steps of Falora could be heard. The students inside the class barely registered the clicks, having been given an period entirely to themselves.
      Falora was on her knees next to Shimaru, trying with little success to move the comparatively massive man off his stomach.
      "Sensei? Sensei!? Are you o-"
      "GET YOUR F'CKING HANDS OFF ME!" Shimaru flipped around in a small circle, putting his back against the wall. One hand pointed accusingly at the confused girl. "You're a goddess, aren't you? One of those goddamned stupid -"
      Falora blithely interrupted Shimaru's rant on the vacuous nature of goddesses and nodded cheerily. "Un! Falora, Goddess of Luc-"
      "I don't give a damn about your name, rank, and serial number. Out. Of. My. Class."
      Shimaru began to haul himself to his feet, the strain visible on his face, the prayer beads around his neck rolling up around his chin as he bent double.
      "Ooooooh. Prayer beads." Falora bent to look at them more closely. "Are those the sort that trigger a physiological reaction whenever a trigger word is uttered? Like heel, or stay, or -"
      "DON'T SAY IT!"
      "-sit. What?"

Shimaru stormed down the hall with Falora in tow, quietly wondering just what she did wrong. Well, he stormed as well a man whose feet refuse to respond and whose shoulders are feeling like they've been broken in three places can storm.
      A goddamn goddess. Why, oh, why, did he have to have a goddamn FRICKING goddess in _HIS_ class?
      Shimaru paused. What a silly question.
      Shimaru managed to stagger to the door of the teacher's lounge, Falora behind him, bemused goodwill evident on her features. He hadn't told her anything beyond ordering her out of his class, and she wasn't quite sure on just how to apply this order, all things considered.
      Just as Shimaru shoved the door open, the strange mist that could be called smoke rising up out of the opened door, he whirled and pointed at her.
      "You don't go inside. Sit here, and for the love of god, don't say _anything_."
      "ANYTHING!" Shimaru bellowed in her face.
      For a moment, some tiny part of the Shimaru that once was, buried under the blackened crust of the Shimaru that currently was, some tiny shard of him grieved at him having stooped to yell in the face of small children.
      The rest of the Shimaru that currently was, however, dragged this shard into a dark alley and beat the hell out of it.

Shimaru flopped into his chair and dropped the schedule on his desk. Across from him, a scholarly forehead wrinkled as the owner of said forehead looked up at him.
      "You're back early, Shinsei-sensei."
      "Fuck it, Takenaka," Shimaru bent double, letting the suppressed pain bleed out of his body, trying to overcome it rather than defy it, pretense gone. "Nobody said anything about having one of those worthless little goddesses in my classes, NOBODY AT ALL." Shimaru slammed the hand that wasn't clutching his chest onto the desk.
      Takenaka-sensei raised an eyebrow. The position of school counsellor left one privy to rather a lot of information, but still, he was more used to getting angry statements like that >from the students than the sensei.
      "Uhm," Takenaka stated intelligently.
      "Short, blonde hair, green marks on her face?"
      "Falora? Oh, Falora, yes, she's a wonderful girl. We have tea occasionally."
      "Well, doesn't that fuckin' figure."
      Takenaka winced at the unnecessary profanity. He'd been placed in the desk across from Shimaru's by the principal because the principal believed in ying and yang and feng shui - and also because there wasn't a sensei patient enough to put up with Shimaru for more than a day without complaining about their desk, their missing wastepaper basket, their broken arm, or something trivial[6] of the ilk.
      Still, Takenaka had had his patience tried by far worse miscreants than Shimaru, and they had been students. Shimaru had a lot of potential, and Takenaka believed in releasing this in kids. So...
      "Shimaru... can I call you Shimaru?"
      "Can I call you fat-ass idiot-head?"
      "Before you say it, I'll note that I'm being both sarcastic and immature."
      "Very well, Shinsei-sensei... just why... why _are_ you the way you are?"
      Long pause.
      It's a unique thing to see a cracked, pitted, skinless travesty of a face such as Shimaru's smile. There are no lips to shape the muscles around the mouth and give them contours, to form the sight of the mouth as it proceeds along its way via photons to another's eyes. There are no cheeks to colour, only brown, hard scar tissue, which yields no mirth.
      All in all, it resembles very much what would if a rock were to smile, but without the same predatory nature.
      "You really wanna know, Takenaka?"
      Nod from the older man.
      Another nod.
      "Good. Yl meth rosepthe-"

Falora sat outside the door, quietly twiddling her thumbs and watching the ceiling. Well, she was, for about four seconds, at which point she got bored and leaned in to listen in to the somewhat loud conversation between Takenaka and Shinsei.
      And she heard it all.
      Up to the point where Shimaru got weird.
      "Good. [The thing that will crush you, in the end, Takenaka, is the brutal way in which life will treat you. I have had God himself come down from on high, grace my life with a terminal disease, remove from me what few things I had that were truly mine, my identity and body, then when I sought out a manner in which I could kill myself without destroying the one person in the world for whom I ever cared, he proceeded to do me another favour and descend from heaven and take that saving grace away >from me. Then, after ripping away from me the Angel of Death for which I so hungered, driving a wedge between myself and my rest, God turned what little of a world I had left on end, damning me to stay in the most despicable squalor that was his office, once in a while, simply to experience the utter bone-crushing tedium that only a place where there are no conflicts can produce. And then what? I get a lecture and get sent back. No Elysian fields for _ME_, buster, no siree. Then, when I come to this world again, I wake up on a cold block and find my wallet and shoes stolen - they won't even give me the dignity of NOT robbing my corpse. I wouldn't be surprised to know I've lost my virginity to some shithead morgue worker with a necrophilia fetish (and wouldn't you have to be to work there?). God himself then sent me home, to my family, to that one person for whom I cared, who then was revolted at my appearance, disgusted by my behaviour, and condemned me to live here, in Capow, where I must live out my days until such time as I 'learn what life is about'. And what of my family? A brother who believes if it's old enough to bleed it's old enough to breed, another brother who takes sadism to a new level, two parents who think I'm still seventeen, not out of lovingkindness but because they FORGOT I WAS FUCKING BORN, and one sister. A sister, my friend, who is life and light and heaven and angel's wings crushed into their finest and purest point, reduced to its most simple level, who will love and can love with all the fibre of her being... who has rejected me and sent me to the outside of the world.]"
      Shimaru paused. Falora presumed for breath.
      "[What then, I say, is my problem? Perhaps it is this damnable curse of immortality. Or these? These beads which confine me to the word of every two-bit shintoist church-goer who hasn't spit in an ancestor's miso. Or maybe it's the fact that, having lost everything I had, those who could help me, refuse to do so. Or maybe, just maybe,]" another pause, "[... Maybe, Takenaka, it is the loneliness. The bone-crushing, soul-wilting loneliness. I cannot live another day where every human being upon seeing me does not recoil in utter horror at the sheer hell that is my face. I cannot truly live a love. I can never, ever, ever find any others who will accept me. My blood and bone rejected me - my very _blood_ _and_ _bone_. And they, of all people, had reason to accept me. We're not talking flat-chested tomboys here, Takenaka - I'm hideous, I know it, and I'm unsociable. The quiet outcast shtick works if you're actually moderately passable as a human being. I'm not. So I will live every day of my life alone, loveless, unloved, and unloving, as every day brings me closer to the armageddon imposed by the God who sentenced me to this in the first place.]"
     Pause again.
     "Well, that's my understanding of it, at least."

".. mys uluhtc, yog, sototh."
      "Well, that's my understanding of it, at least."
      Takenaka blinked owlishly at the suddenly-grim-again Shimaru. For the past gods-know-how-long, he had been babbling in a language that Takenaka wasn't even sure should exist. Some of the words Shimaru had pronounced should have been impossible without tentacles in one's mouth, a pseudopodia for a tongue(s), or possibly both.
      "... I didn't understand a word of that, Shimaru."
      Shimaru's face went hard as flint once more. "Well, I guess that's _your_ fucking problem, isn't it?"

Falora blinked outside. The majority of the olde tongue Shimaru had spoken was almost flawless, she noted. Not, however, that it mattered much to her, given that most languages were really just messy things that got in the way of what people were actually _saying_ - and Shimaru had said a lot.
      A _lot_.
      An awkward silence settled over the teacher's lounge as Takenaka first looked very embarrassed, then excused himself >from the room, leaving Shimaru to brood. Shimaru was fine with that; he always had an excellent memory, and he had a very long list of grievances to work with.
      The door opened, and a tentative Falora stepped in.
      Now, before we move on, it is imperative to note for the sake of fairness that Shimaru is actually not easily moved to anger. Even before his, ah, unfortunate incident in Israel, Shimaru had already mostly taken a 'one eye open, one eye shut' attitude towards life, as it tends to lead to less stress. However, even while maintaining the nonchalant exterior, Shimaru was actually stuffing his ire into some corner of his mind to be examined more thoroughly later, perhaps when he wanted to yell at someone and needed to work himself up to the point that he'd bother to even acknowledge that someone's exisistence. Meaning that, whenever Shimaru decided that his patience ran out and blew the top, the results were quite catastrophic.
      So, then, in one corner, there was Shimaru, who despite of his earlier tirade still had quite a bit of unhealthy emotions building in him. In the other corner, there was Falora, whose youthful exuberance and inexperience wouldn't let her leave well enough alone.
      In short, the Irresistible Force was about to run headlong into the Immovable Object.
      "What did I say about not coming in?" Shimaru asked in a dangerously low tone of voice.
      "Not another word!" Shimaru snapped. "I know why you came in: you heard my little spiel, didn't you?"
      Falora nodded silently.
      "I thought so," Shimaru growled. "Well, guess what? I don't want your apology, I don't want your advice, and I definitely DO NOT want your pity!"
      Falora looked like she would try to speak again, but Shimaru didn't let her get even a syllable out.
     "Do you have a listening compehension problem? Then let me be crystal clear."
     Shimaru stalked forward until he was towering over Falora.
     "Do. Not. Open. Your. Mouth." he bit out slowly, deliberately, putting just enough punch into his words so that each one of them were an order. This time, Falora didn't so much as blink.
     "Good girl. Now, go back to your room and stay there so that I don't have to see you again until tomorrow."
     But instead of obeying right away, Falora lept forward and hugged Shimaru for all she was worth, wrapping her arms as far as they would go around his massive back and burying her face into his stomach. Then, before Shimaru could formulate any sort of response, she was gone, her rapid footsteps fading down the hall.

Having finished lunch, Falora began to contemplate her view from her rooftop perch.
      "Feeling homesick?" Shimaru's voice rang out from behind her.
      Falora nearly lost her balance. Had he followed her up here? Would she be in trouble for not eating in the designated cafeteria? While he didn't sound like he was angry at her any more, he didn't seem to be exactly happy about seeing her here.
      Shimaru crossed his arms. "I asked you a question."
      "A-a little, I guess," Falora answered hesitantly.
      "Thought so. But that's not a good enough of an excuse to run around where you're not supposed to and make yourself potential lawsuit material, Goddess or not." Shimaru jabbed a thumb at the door. "I don't need to explain what that thing back there is for, do I?"
      "No, sir." Falora got down slowly and walked past Shimaru. "Are you...still mad at me?" she asked softly as she put her hand on the doornob.
      Shimaru didn't bother to look at her. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't be."
      Lacking a good answer, Falora blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "It doesn't suit you?"
      Shimaru turned and arched an eyebrow at her. "Really?" his expression hardened again. "Wrong answer. Now scram."

[1] If you don't know, the Iincho is the classmember who does the 'Stand! Bow! Be seated!' ritual. Class rep, basically. Keiko in Yu Yu Hakusho is an iincho, Hikari in Evangelion is a iincho, and the third example of an iincho should go here if I could think of it. But I can't. Since Falora is only filling in for one day, she will only have to do the minor duties that crop up - namely getting the students to do their jobs on the roster and to instruct the class to stand, bow, and sit.
      [2] Comparative, say, to the Ethiopan Navy.
      [3] For what it's worth, in his case. Lifting Shimaru's spirits is comprable to changing decks on the Titanic - lots of lateral movement, but still sunk.
      [4] 19/20ths
      [5] This, of course, was an effect because Shimaru would thrash his students up to and beyond the point of death, mostly because it made seating arrangements easier. He was contemplating removing a desk every week of the semester and using whichever student was unseated as an unofficial organ donor and lunchpack for the remaining students. It would be a good lesson in English culture, after all, and put the fear of god into the fat ones.
      [6] To Shimaru.

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