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manga - shadowy smile

chemistryisfun in ghostsugar_rp

Odd Like That [closed to Chiaki]

[dated to first day of school]
Yuzuya peered through his glasses at the announcement papers on his podium. "Next, we need to choose two class representatives for our homeroom, one boy, one girl." He looked up at the rows of the students of 1-C, his first homeroom to be in charge of.

There was something about first-year students that was absolutely... well to be honest, precious. They were small. Their desks were perfectly straight, their posture excellent, their brand-new uniforms a bit too big at the sleeves. They sat quietly, starched and neat and keen on listening to him speak. Almost all of them were bright-eyed as they looked back at him, about half slightly worried-looking, as though they feared high school might turn into a scary place any minute. Yuzuya wanted to pat their little heads. So different from the third-years he'd taught last year, weren't they? He tried his best to hide the warm smile threatening to creep over his lips. "Anyone who is interested in a class rep position-- or if you know someone you'd like to nominate, please prepare a short paragraph to read to the class, and we'll vote at the end of the week."

"Well, that brings us to the end," he finished, straightening to his full height and stretching a bit. "I would like to congratulate you finishing-- well, almost finishing-- your first day of high school. I expect that you'll remember to do your homework and get your emergency cards in for tomorrow. Last, we'll have cleaning time. Your cleaning groups and assignments are posted at the back of the room by the broom closet. I'd like you to know that I take cleaning very seriously--" There were reasons for this. The schools Yuzu had attended in downtown Kawasaki had been filthy, with trash and pencils and whatnot on the floor all the time. As a nearsighted klutz Yuzuya had had many more than his share of pratfalls-- but he sure as hell wasn't sharing that with his new charges. "If our classroom is messy, how can we be proud of it? I expect you to give it your full effort. Do it right the first time and I won't have to make you do it again."

Yuzu smiled gently and stood back, tucking his papers away. "Dismissed." He nodded to the boy in the first row who'd agreed to be monitor for the day.

"Stand!" the boy called out in a husky voice. The students stood, with the sound of chairs scraping lightly and desks moving a bit. Girls smoothed out skirts, boys tried to stand up straighter. The monitor waited until the rest of the room was at attention, then bowed at a little over 45 degrees (oh, the preciousness of first years!) to Yuzuya. "Thank you very much," the students chanted, keeping rhythm with each other's syllables the way only years of enforced ceremony could have trained them to.

It was still a weird feeling, even after teacher's school and one year of constant classes, this little ceremony that came at the end of every class.

Yuzuya forced himself to stand straight and receive, accept their bows with a brave nod despite the shame it made him feel. He really didn't deserve this, and he knew it. Sometimes he imagined stopping them and telling them so. Wasn't it he that should be bowing to them, a little voice in his mind always echoed. They had accepted him for a full fifty-five minutes of their time. They didn't know a thing about him.

Then the bow was finished, the brief moment of reflection had passed. Chaos erupted as 32 fifteen-year-olds scrambled to push their desks out of the way of cleanup. Yuzuya tried to hide his fleeting thoughts and walked back to grab his broom from the closet, keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings.
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Chiaki's seat was the last one in the row -- he had to jump out of the way to avoid getting smacked by the desks in front of him. A slight frown tugged at his lips as he pushed his desk to the back wall and stacked his chair on top of it, and he moved toward the broom closet to get a look at his group. They were in charge of the classroom cleanup itself -- sweeping, tidying, all of that -- and he located the other students in his group. He regretted to say that it was only because of the seat numbers that he could identify his classmates. He wasn't very good with names, and he rarely had occasion to be, with his classmates.

The others in his group decided that the usual method of rock-paper-scissors was best to determine who got the least desirable job -- taking the trash out to the dumpster. The loudly chorused chant sounded in the back corner of the room. Chiaki came out rock bottom. He wasn't all that surprised -- he had terrible luck with rock-paper-scissors -- but he really didn't want to have to take out the trash on his first day.

There was no helping it, though. Chiaki placidly and quietly helped his classmates tidy up the classroom, and little by little the rest of them began to file away once their cleaning duties were done. Being on trash duty meant you were there last, since you had to wait for everyone else to be done. By the time Chiaki made it over to the trash and recycling bins, which were overflowing with paper and a few plastic bottles, everyone else was gone. Diligently, Chiaki stooped down to pick up the bits of trash on the floor and put them into the bins, his long sleeves brushing against the floor as he did so.
Yuzuya swept along the edges of the classroom, getting the little bits that had been left behind. It was amazing how much dust could be made in just one day of school. He stopped to pick up an eraser that had ended up forgotten on the floor. The eraser had Snoopy on its cardboard wrapper. He smiled at the Snoopy smiling back at him and set the eraser on the window ledge for now. He'd pass it out tomorrow if he could find the owner.

He swept his dust bunnies towards the back of the classroom, where his last student to leave was dutifully picking up bits of trash. Kind of a little guy with messy hair, definitely one of the slightly-worried-looking bunch. "Hey," he said gently to the petite boy. "You think you could help me out and hold a dustpan for me, here? There was a little bit left behind around the bookshelves."
Chiaki looked up, holding a crumpled piece of stationery in his hand. It contained some silly dumb note one of the girls in his class had written to another. Something about the teacher. He didn't really want to read it.

He nodded at Yuzuya slowly, standing up and throwing the paper in the trash. It was only his first day at this school, and it hadn't been what he'd call a really good one, but so far he thought he liked his homeroom teacher. Shibata-sensei was principled, honest, and consistent, and he was also kind. There seemed to be a friendly way in which Yuzuya had called out to him.

Chiaki retrieved the dustpan from the broom closet and squatted down in front of Yuzuya, dutifully holding out the dustpan for the teacher to sweep into. Now that he thought about it, it was the first time he'd ever had a male homeroom teacher.
"Thanks," Yuzuya said brightly, and he went about sweeping the dust and pencil leads and bits of debris he'd collected into the dustpan. "I appreciate it. This is kind of a two-person job."

"What's your name?" he asked after a pause. He kept his voice on the softer side. The boy's wordless compliance gave him the feeling that this kid was not the chatty type. Best not to make him feel put on the spot.
"Aoki Chiaki," Chiaki said, straightening up to empty the dustpan into the trash bin. Even though he wasn't very talkative, he didn't appear cold or standoffish. Just quiet. After a moment's hesitation, he added, "I'm not from around here."
"Nice to meet you, Aoki-san." Yuzuya inclined his head to his student cordially and put his broom into the closet. That rhyming name action just screamed country bumpkin, but Yuzuya didn't let this show on his face as he addressed the boy. He stooped to help gather the bag of recyclables. "Going to take this out? I'll help. I'll show you where the dumpsters are, the door's a little tricky to get into."

"I'm not from around here either," he told Chiaki, studying the boy's pale features. He looked frail, as if a stray wind might just blow him away. That, and his hair could use a date with shampoo. And lo, the pot has called the kettle black, a voice in Yuzu's mind announced.

"So that makes two of us," Yuzu continued. "Where are you from?"
"Thank you," Chiaki said, a bit quietly, as he picked up the trash bag. "I'm from Akita," he added, and his tone was a bit less cautious and guarded, this time. He seemed to be opening up, very, very slowly. There was a slight pause. "Where are you from, Shibata-sensei?"
"I'm from Kawasaki," Yuzuya admitted with a sheepish grin. "And no, I don't ride a motorcycle or own a leather jacket." He chuckled a little and then sighed as they descended the stairs together.

"Akita, huh." The total other side of Japan, no less. Yuzuya had never been up that way. His mental image of it was remote and rustic. Sled-dogs with fluffy tails, bizarrely huge festival floats, lots of rice fields and rocky onsen. "Wow. That's pretty cool." He paused as they turned the landing and continued down the next flight. "You're a pretty long way from home, then, aren't you?" His dark eyes shifted to the boy to study his response. If it was okay to ask if he missed it, or how he liked it here.
Chiaki nodded. "My dad thought I should go. I don't know why he picked this school." It was an honest answer. "It's not as cold here."
"Do you miss home?" Yuzuya ventured to ask, leading the boy down the last flight of stairs and towards the back exit to the parking lot area. The formal first-floor halls were dreary and dark as usual. Sometimes Yuzuya felt a weird feeling here, as though the hall were growing and might swallow him up. Maybe it was all of the dark wood and carved ornamental things around the ceiling, maybe it was the old-fashioned windows. He could see why children might start rumors that the place was haunted. Sometimes it reminded him a little too much of that one ride at Disneyland. You got to feeling like all of the pictures on the wall were following you with their eyes as you walked by.

Their footsteps echoed in the marble-floored hallway. Drapes moved in the breeze ahead of them and Yuzuya got a chill. Who had been silly enough to leave a window open? "No, it's not as cold as Akita, I bet. Still a little cold, in here though, huh." He shivered a bit and looked around. Had there been someone behind them, just now?
Chiaki followed Yuzuya's gaze, looking vaguely concerned. "It's a little cold, I guess," he said absently, as he turned his head, but he choked on the last word. There, in the window, was the figure of a young woman -- and she had that unsettlingly ethereal glow about her that immediately told Chiaki that she was already dead. The drapes blew in the wind again, passing right through her, and Chiaki's face paled to a paper white as he stopped dead in his tracks.

He had really, really hoped that the rumors weren't true. Apparently they had been.
"Hold on, I'll shut it real quick," Yuzuya told Chiaki. He set his sack of recyclables on the floor and padded over to the window, pulled back the drapes to close the open window. "Geez, it really is cold this afternoon. I wonder if it'll rain... you think?" He frowned, and pulled down on the window.

"It's not moving," Yuzuya grunted. He tugged again, and again. "Stuck." Had the third-years been playing first-day-of-school pranks? Yuzuya checked the window frame for signs of chewing gum or super-glue. Nope, nothing.
The girl in the window looked irritated at Yuzuya's attempts to shut the window. Chiaki was vaguely aware of the fact that his hands were shaking slightly. "U-um," he said, his voice cracking a little. "Maybe you should just leave the window alone."
Yuzuya was befuddled as to why this window just wouldn't shut! He put all of his weight into it. Not much, he knew, but you have to work with what you've got. "We can't just leave it open all night," he grunted between tugs. "Then tomorrow at the teacher's meeting we'll hear about it. 'Who left the window open? Did anyone see it open? Why didn't you close it?' and being as how-- rngh-- I'm not such a good liar-- ungh!-- I'll look really irresponsible. HRGHHHHHH!"

Something seemed to fly close to Yuzuya's face, a cobweb maybe, and he swatted it away with irritation. He paused to catch his breath, and then tried to pull the window down one last time. "You know, with my luck," Yuzuya muttered to Chiaki, "This is some kind of hidden camera prank that's going on tv. Smile, Aoki-san, you'll be famous, as your teacher makes a fool of himself."
Chiaki's face was still white as he watched the irritated-looking ghost girl make a face at Yuzuya, floating up behind him to make immature hand signs around his head. The boy couldn't help but raise a slightly trembling finger at Yuzuya's head as she fluffed his hair irritably and made as if to shove his head forward, but her hands, naturally, went right through Yuzuya's head. She shook her hand through Yuzuya's node, making a rude face before pulling back. Chiaki's mouth was open for words, but before he could say anything, the window suddenly slammed shut with a loud, rattling bang. Chiaki flinched visibly.
Yuzu cringed at the sound, eyes closed in fear he'd done the unthinkable. "Is it broken?" he whispered, afraid to look.
Chiaki swallowed, his mouth dry, and shook his head. "No," he said. "It's fine." He peered past Yuzuya. The ghost girl was gone.
Yuzuya opened one eye slowly, then the other. He breathed a sigh of relief. "Whew." Thank goodness. "Well. It closed at least." He picked up his recyclables again and turned to Chiaki with a cheerful grin. "Shall we?"

The boy nodded and Yuzuya fell into step with him, keeping his strides slower so that someone with non-beanpole smaller legs could keep up. "Yeah," he sighed, looking up at the carvings over the doorways they passed. "This is a pretty old building. It kind of has a lot of quirks. But you get used to it after a while."

They pushed through the back doors to the parking lot. Yuzuya blinked up at the blue sky overhead, taking in the bright sunshine. This really was nice weather for the first day of school. It felt hopeful. "You're likely to hear things. Don't let people worry you with stories. Old buildings are just odd like that sometimes."
"R-right," Chiaki muttered, glad to be outside under the sun. He wasn't really one for bright lights, but it was a reassuring thing. It chased the chills from seeing the ghost girl away, and he was finally able to breathe a little easier. He glanced up at Yuzuya. For all his ignorance to the things that were going on at this school, he was really...a kind person, Chiaki thought. It was odd. People weren't usually this kind to him. He found he kind of liked it, even if it was strange.

Chiaki threw the trash bag into the dumpster when they finally reached it. He dusted his hands off as he and Shibata-sensei began to head back to the school, and he was silent for a short while. "Thank you for helping me, Shibata-sensei," he finally said, in that subduedly quiet way he had.
"No problem, no problem at all," Yuzuya returned, dusting his hands off on his dilapidated corduroy slacks. He turned hazy eyes back towards the school building, where teachers could be seen milling about through the faculty room windows. "Well then, there's a teacher's meeting that's starting about now, which I'd better be off to," he mused, distracted. Then as if noticing with surprise that his pupil was standing there beside him, he started a bit, and gazed down at Chiaki through his wire-rimmed glasses. "Good work. See you tomorrow, yeah?"
Chiaki nodded slowly. As strange as the overall encounter had been -- especially with the paranormal encounter, of which (poor) Shibata-sensei seemed completely ignorant -- and he bowed, again. It was probably about time he headed back to the dorms anyway.

"See you tomorrow," he echoed, adjusting his thick-framed glasses a little. "It was nice meeting you, Shibata-sensei." His words couldn't have sounded more sincere as he turned away and walked off across the campus.