Hello, thar. Meinos Kaen here!
Huuuu, headache... Gotta stop staring at the pwetty lights. But they're pretty! ... Oh, well. Whatever. Here's this week's part of S-ClaSS! Enjoy!
Previous NextWhat are your Skills, Students?!
"I'm sorry, Mrs Kaytlin, but there's no written rule which prohibits the members of the S-Class from leaving the underground level."
"Headmaster!" The woman shot up from her seat, outraged. "There's a reason if we kept them down there! They're disasters just waiting to happen! Just look at what happened the very first day they left it!"
"Miss Kelly started a food fight, young Jason had to clean everything and we had an extra laundry day. It's no big deal." Roberts chuckled as he thought of the scene from two weeks before, in particular Jason's outrage when he realized that they had given him such outdated cleaning tools on purpose. "He did a splendid work, too. The janitors were impressed."
"What about the other students?! They're terrified!" Roberts had to resist the urge to roll his eyes. He kept on smiling amiably.
"Mrs Kaytlin, it will be very hard for the other students to find intimidating someone they've seen covered in mashed potatoes." The man commented, but the woman still didn't look convinced. He dropped the smile. "Mrs Kaytlin, I understand your point of view, but I can also see that you're not being objective because of your loss."
"I'm not being objective?!" She raised her voice, slamming her hands on top of the headmaster's table. "One of those monsters killed my husband!"
"And like it's been proved time and again, it was his own damn fault." The woman was taken back. More than from the words, from the cold, authoritarian tone the headmaster had suddenly started to use. "I hope I don't need to remind you that your husband deliberately provoked, insulted and abused a young man who had time and again reduced in shambles the S-P.E. area and was also prone to bursts of rage." She took a step back as he stood, never breaking eye contact with her. "And that if you're still teaching in this school despite your close connection to the victim is only because of my patronage.”
“N-No.” She stuttered out, her gaze barely grazing the headmaster's chin. “Of course not.” Roberts stared her down a bit more before calming down somewhat and sitting back in his chair again.
“The management of the S-Class and their activities is up to miss Kelly, and miss Kelly only. I will intervene only in case of disruption of the rules or incidents.” With a flick of a finger, the transparent screen sitting on his desk activated himself, the woman still standing in the middle of his room no longer a concern. “Was there anything else?”
“No. No, sir.” She let out as courteously as she could, considering the hot rage building up in her throat. She bowed her head curtly, Roberts not noticing or not caring. “Good day.” She turned around. In a few seconds, he heard the door to his office close.
As he brought up that day's newspaper headlines on the screen, the headmaster exhaled deeply, letting go of an overwhelming tiredness that befell him every time he recalled the incident from five years prior, and the events leading to it. “Why didn't I remove Kaytlin when I had the opportunity?”
'He doesn't understand. No one understands. And that woman. That woman is deceiving them all!' Mrs Kaytlin thought as she walked through the school's corridor, her furious expression on an usually attractive face frightening most of the students she walked into. Her right hand was clutching the locket around her neck. Her Skill prevented her from really hurting herself, but she could still feel the pain. 'It's okay. Pain helps. Pain keeps you focused. That's what you always said. And you were always, always right.' “Always right.” She whispered out, stopping cold in front of the door to her classroom.
She needed to calm down. She clutched onto the locked more tightly, focusing on the mental image of her husband. His words. His lessons. “An opportunity will come. Yes.” She nodded to herself, finally smiling. “I will be patient and attentive. Seize it when it comes. I will.” 'I will show them that you were right. That they're all little monsters who should have never been born.' “I will show them.” The mantra solid in her mind, the Math teacher straightened her hair and clothes before opening the door and stepping inside her classroom. Perfectly punctual. As always.
“Hmm...” Grace could allow herself a little more time, since her classes started half an hour later compared to the rest of the school. She was spending it going through her students' files.
The food fight tactic, as she stubbornly called it in her mind to not admit that it had been a childish idea shaped into action on spur of the moment, had been a success. Jason, Catarina and Thomas had been leaving the underground level regularly for at least one meal a day since then, the latter two even managing to start a conversation with some of the other students. Jason hadn't taken that big of an initiative, but he didn't object being dragged into small talk by his two class-mates, nor had he brushed off any attempt to chat with him. Even if it was an effort he made for his two friends, it highlighted the juiciest effect of the FFT: removing any chance Jason had to intimidate people into leaving him alone, having been the virtual loser of the food fight. She had managed to successfully insert them in the student body. Which left her to wonder what step to take next.
Which is why she was reading through the files. Searching for inspiration. In the end, she had stopped on a certain section of Jason's file, reading it over and over, which brought to mind a related matter regarding Thomas. “You can come in, Sienna.” She said out loud.
The door slid open, revealing a surprised nurse. “I... I didn't knock. How did you...” Grace smirked, enjoying the shock evident in the woman's voice and quickly dismissing the window displaying live feed from the corridor's camera. An option she had took to install after the first day's surprise attack. “I really, really hope you're not taking pages out of the headmaster's book.”
“No one possessing three skills has ever been documented, so I think it's a safe bet I'm not.” Grace joked as Sienna approached her. “And speaking of documentation...”
“Oh, you're going through Jason's file again?” The black-haired woman commented as she laid eyes on the screen. "Got captivated by the sheer inaccuracy of it?"
"In a way. Also, I was wondering..." Grace stroked her chin, her fingers briefly covering her mouth. "Is the only inaccurate file Jason's one?"
"Hmm... Intriguing theory." Sienna grinned and sat on the desk, on Grace's right. "And exactly what made you conjure it?"
"Thomas' S-Guard." Grace immediately stated, turning her attention to the nurse. "I've heard of P-Is able to inhibit walking bombs, I can't believe the only way they found to fix his situation is that... Torture instrument." She avoided her gaze as it turned into a glare. "So, either they were incompetent, lazy or... They just didn't care." She scoffed, turning off the reader and standing up with a scowl. "I can't rely on these files."
"I hear you, sister. So, when do I set it up?" Grace looked at Sienna strangely. The brunette rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on. School nurse? Head of the Evaluation Center?" She shrugged her shoulders, amused. "If these files can't give you an accurate description of the Skills of your students, you'll need to evaluate them again. It's a no-brainer. Like who you'd have to ask for permission to use the facilities."
"Oh. True." Grace nodded, acknowledging the logic in the nurse's reasoning. She smiled."I'll have to ask the students first. Thanks, Sienna."
"Oh, don't mention it! I told you that I was curious about those kids, didn't I?"
"You should have seen their faces, Jason!" Jason rolled his eyes, but he could see the fun part in what Thomas was recounting. Also, there was no denying the blonde's good mood. "They couldn't believe I solved it that quickly!"
"Thomas, you put to shame most of the planet with this." As he said that, he playfully rapped his knuckles on Thomas' forehead, who winced in pain and moved the hand away. "Seems like you found yourself some minions, huh?"
"Minions?" Thomas asked as he rubbed his forehead. Jason grinned.
"You're a first year kid who can do second year math like drinking water. Those two will be at your beck and call from now on." Jason laughed, crossing his hands behind his head. Thomas understood and started laughing. "Seriously! I'd suggest using them to get things from the outside! They can leave, after all! Then-"
"Will you stop trying to make Thomas into an evil mastermind?" Catarina commented, playing with the stylus from her reader. Jason answered with a pretty bad imitation of an evil laughter, standing up and moving his arm in front of his face, bent and horizontal so that everything from the nose down was covered.
"Ze masterplan cannot be stopped! Ve shall rule ze earth by ze night!" Catarina just stared. Not because she thought he was being stupid but because she had no idea what he was doing. He sighed, dropping the facade. "Ok, maybe my Bela Lugosi isn't the best, but you've got to have chanced upon something about vampires. You're always reading. Some Bram Stoker? A little Anne Rice?"
"Hmm... Well, I read a book called Tw-Hey!" She crouched in time. Barely. "Did you just throw a shoe at me?!"
"You deserve that and more!" Jason was fuming. She groaned.
"This is another old era thing, right?" She shook her head. "I never said I liked it, you ass!"
"Just to start today's lessons with a normal question, why is one of your shoes in front of the door, Jason?" The three froze and turned in Grace's direction, who was holding up the makeshift projectile.
The brown-haired S lowered his head and blushed, slowly making his way to Grace and snatching his footwear back. "... Bad literature." Ever since he had declared his intention of making an effort in liking her, he had become meeker. Two weeks before, he would have probably stood defiant even with the other shoe already in hand, the arm bent for the throwing motion.
"Bad literature." Grace repeated, thinking about how that could relate to the throwing of a shoe. She came out with nothing. "Ok, just sit down. I have something to discuss with you three." Jason hopped back to his seat, trying to put the shoe on out of sight. "I know it's not a mystery to you that I am in possession of your personal files."
"Yup. So?" Jason commented as he struggled to tie the laces together from his crouched position.
"Well, I recently discovered that the people who first evaluated you were idiots. Or incompetent." She stated, bitterly. Jason lost the grip on a lace out of surprise. Catarina and Thomas were surprised as well. They had seen the teacher angry, but never bitter. "Example. Jason, the file describes your Skill as 'production of high-heat, high-speed energy'."
The laces finally back into place, the teen was able to present his confused face to the woman. "Seriously?" He instinctively stared at his hands. 'I don't do that. It doesn't feel like that.'
"And Thomas... I can't believe the only solution they found for your problem is pain. I believe that the your evaluations were incomplete, or superficial." 'Or they kept the results secret.' She had a theory as to the why they would do that. "So, I'd like you all to get Evaluated again."
"... If we do that, maybe I can get this off?" The youngest S nervously fingered the device on the back of his head.
"Hmm... I guess I'd like to know exactly what happens when I punch something." Jason mused, then nodded, with a grin. "I'm in."
"Good. Thomas as well, I guess?" The boy was quick to agree. "Catarina...?" Grace's voice trailed off as she laid eyes on the girl.
Considering their personalities, she would have thought the girl being pretty nonchalant about something like a new evaluation, the easiest to persuade. What she saw, though, was nervousness. Catarina's hands were folded in her lap, her eyes wide and staring at nothing, lips set in a horizontal line.
'Is she... Is she scared?' Just the thought really threw Grace off. "Catarina, what's wrong?"
"I..." The black-haired girl swallowed. She slowly raised her head. "Could they really have missed something? With my Skill?"
"Yes, I believe so." Catarina dropped her head again. She was thinking about it. Hard.
"Alright. I-I'll do it." She finally let out.
'What did just happen?' Grace looked at Jason, who initiated a rotating gesture with his right hand, index finger stretched. Later. “... Ok. Well, is Saturday afternoon okay with you?”
“Sorry, I have previous arrangements.” Grace rolled her eyes, smiling. She turned to Jason with an amused smile. He just stared strangely. “... No, seriously. I really do have previous arrangements.” The amusement disappeared when she noticed that Jason was serious. It was his turn to be entertained. “You really haven't noticed that I disappear every Saturday afternoon?”
Grace blushed. No, she hadn't. Every time she checked into their rooms, no one was missing. That meant that Jason left and returned in the time inbetween the end of the lessons and her evening rounds. He chuckled at her embarrassed expression. “It's okay, teach. I'm not leaving the school grounds.”
“But...” Grace sighed, massaging her temples. He wouldn't tell her. He had used the expression previous arrangements instead of just coming clean about it. 'Just when I thought I had gotten used to their pace.' “Fine. Sunday morning, then?”
"Jason." As he followed the other two S out of the classroom, he was blocked by the teacher's voice. She was leaning against her desk, arms crossed. "It's later."
"True." He admitted, stepping away from the door and letting it slide back closed. He set his bag down. "Catarina?"
"Yes. I was really surprised at her reaction. I mean, so far, she's been the most level-headed. Seeing her lose her cool like that..." She sighed, dismissing her thoughts and focusing on her student. "Why did she react like that at the thought of a simple Evaluation?"
"Honestly?" Jason crossed his arms over his chest. He had started getting used to treating their teach in a civil way, but this was talking about something private, of Catarina. 'Well, my fault. I could have just shrugged.' Instead, on the spur of the moment, he had promised an explanation. He had followed his instinct. 'Might as well follow it all the way.' "Alright. I'll tell you what I know. Maybe you will be able to get the rest out of her. I never could."
She nodded. "I guess it's something really personal... Which is related to her Skill."
Jason nodded. "Yes. You see, the three of us are quite different, regarding the relation we have with our Skills. I love using my Skill." Saying that, he allowed himself a smirk, flexing his fingers. "Thomas likes using them, at least his intelligence, but we both know why he's less than prone to do it. And Catarina..." Jason paused, staring at his hands as the image of a twelve years old girl hiding her head in a hoodie surfaced in his mind. "I've never seen her use it, nor she has ever talked about it with me.”
“Have you ever asked her?” Jason nodded.
“Yeah, I tried, but she always replied with silence or, once she got her potty mouth, with a 'I don't want to f'-” He stopped himself as she raised a hand. “Well, you can imagine the rest. Granted, today's the first time I've seen her react like that, but... I think she's afraid of her Skill."
"Afraid." Grace repeated, remembering the girl's face, how she appeared to be struggling with something. "I had the same impression."
"I think it's related to her Event of Surfacing. And to the reason why she dresses like that." He knew he had her attention. "I first met Catarina during the first year of middle school. She was bullied because she hid everything under her clothes, even her face. That has changed."
"What didn't?" He knew how to pace himself for suspense, she had to give him that.
"Have you seen Catarina touch anyone ever since you met her? Or me or Thomas touch her, for that matter?" He asked, dead serious. Grace was taken back by the question. She mentally went through her lessons, and other occasions where she had been in her presence. She couldn't honestly say that she had seen her initiate or receive any kind of bodily contact with a person, except-
"Oh, god." 'When I talked to her about Thomas.' She instinctively brought her right hand to her mouth. "I did." It was Jason's turn to be surprised. "I touched her shoulders."
"You must have caught her by surprise.” Jason was actually a bit impressed, since Catarina usually managed to avoid even accidental brushing. She had gotten that good over the years. “And how did she react?"
“She was startled.” She recalled the scene, focusing on the young S's eyes. At the time, focused as she was on Thomas and having released her immediately after, she mistook it as surprise, but thinking about it retroactively... “No, more than that. She was upset. Very much so.”
“Whatever happened the day she discovered she was an S, it made her afraid of physical contact.” He collected his bag from the ground and started making for the door. “That was everything I know. Hope you have more luck than me about making her open up. Maybe it's a girls thing.”
“I will try.” Grace nodded, satisfied but really confused by the new information she had received. She had her work cut out for her. “Thanks, Jason.” He stopped, turning around in her direction again. He stared at her and then chuckled, suppressing a bigger outburst of laughter. She sighed. “What's so funny?”
“No, nothing you did. It's just...” He sighed, calming himself down. Then, he smiled. Grace was quite surprised, since it was a true smile, a genuine one of contentment, not one of his usual sardonic variants. “This is the first time an adult has ever thanked me for anything.”
“Oh.” She didn't expect a simple thank you to have that much of an effect.
“You know, teach.” He chuckled, his smile already gone, replaced by a mischievious smirk. “You've got yourself some points with that lunch, mashed potatoes to the side. In every sense.” She rolled her eyes. He was back to his usual self again. “If you can help Catarina as well, I may genuinely start to like you.”
He collected his things. Another week was over, at least for what regarded his purely scholastic duty. Everything else, it had always been and always would be a full-time job. There was almost no place left in his life for things he found enjoyable. Almost. As he closed his briefcase, there was a knock on his door. He sighed. "Come in."
"Heya, boss! You in a hurry?" Sienna opened the door, cheerful as ever. She then noticed the closed shutters and briefcase. "Ah, no worries. I won't keep you. Just wanted to tell you that me and Grace arranged for an Evaluation Test for the S-kids, tomorrow morning."
"Oh. Unusual." Roberts picked up his briefcase, approaching the door. "I don't see a problem with it. Any particular reason for it?"
"Bogus files. Grace will be able to tell you more." Sienna shrugged her shoulders as she stepped back so that the headmaster could get out of the room as well. He was in a hurry, after all. "Would have wanted to do it today, but Jason had previous arrangements."
Roberts chuckled as he locked the door by placing his palm on its right, an electronic beep signalling the success of the action. “Did he, now.”
“Yeah. Which bodes the question of what exactly he could be doing in the school on a Saturday afternoon. I thought he didn't even talk with anyone outside of Catarina and Thomas.” The nurse inquired, rubbing her chin. Then she shrugged. "Oh, well. Have a nice weekend, sir! You going out tonight?"
"I don't really know. I have an appointment this afternoon. After that, I don't really know." The headmaster smiled as he walked past Sienna. "You have a good Saturday as well, Sienna."
... What? Why are you staring at me like that?