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m - stony silence

chemistryisfun in ghostsugar_rp

Clean-up Detail [OPEN, tag to Chiaki, Yadoru]

School let out for the day, and club activity time came and went. Outside the sports teams were calling hearty and spirit-filled goodbyes to their captains in hoarse voices. The sun was beginning to sink lower behind the mountains on the horizon. In Lab 3 upstairs, Yuzuya paused in his mopping. He sighed, and rubbed his forehead with his fingertips. This really was a bizarre predicament he'd gotten himself into.

On Friday, Sakai-sensei, Yuzuya's worst nightmare in a tacky designer tracksuit, had passed away. Also, the school groundskeeper had quit abruptly. And now Yuzuya had arrived at school today, Monday, to find that his lab was in chaos. The sink had been stopped up and water now covered the floor. What was more, here and there in the water there seemed to be some sort of substance that was dark red and smelled a bit funny. It appeared to be iodine. To make matters worse, the two large supply cabinets that held all of the chemistry and lab supplies had been completely overturned onto the floor. The contents had been scattered and hidden in strange places all around the room.

But the clincher, for Yuzuya, was his book collection. All of the wonderful books he kept on the bookshelves at the back of the room for the students to read and use, had been tossed around the room. It was almost as though a fierce wind had scattered them about, like leaves. He'd recovered those that had been lying in the wet mess on the floor already, set them out to dry by the windows. The water damage was sure to ruin the dearly-loved volumes.

Yuzuya sighed again, and turned a sopping page of The Field Guide To Reptiles and Amphibians. The chameleon was now stained red permanently. Poor little guy. Yuzu figured that was a fate that would make a chameleon quite unhappy.

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While Yadoru wasn't one to engage in cleaning other people's messes, except messes of a supernatural sort, he found himself heading to Lab 3 after the school day was over. Poor Yuzuya-sensei had obviously had a rough time of it, and more to Yadoru's interests, it sounded like more than just a simple school prank. It was possible that someone just really had it out for Yuzuya, but Yadoru was just as certain that it could be a ghost or something.

...maybe an unliving specimen? He shuddered at the thought.

Regardless, the young boy walked into the room, frowning at the mess and offering a sympathetic look to the teacher. "Er, Yuzuya-sensei? I heard you could use some help cleaning up... just let me know what you want me to do." Even if it wasn't a ghost, a teacher should never be disrespected like that!
Yuzuya started from his thoughts, and turned slowly to face the student who'd just entered. "Oh, Chiba-san," he said, offering a limp nod of his head. Yuzu tried his best to give the small boy a bit of a smile in greeting. He failed miserably, on account of his present spirits-- but at least he'd made an attempt. A cheese-faced one at best. "Hey."

Yuzuya scratched his nose and nodded at the empty room, which seemed rather large with only the two of them in it. "A-are you sure?" he asked, cautious. No one else had showed up to help. One or two of his students had agreed in passing, and he'd been flattered, but so far Yuzuya had been mopping all by his lonesome. He frowned and pushed his mop a little bit on the floor. You really found out how important you were to people when you had a rainy day, didn't you.

He really needed to get out more, he told himself.
"Of course I am sure," Chiba Yadoru nodded with a small smile, wondering where on earth everyone else had gone. He'd heard some other people promising that they'd help out, but clearly they hadn't shown. That just... that just wasn't right! So much for 'we have to clean the school with our own hands'! Hrmph!

The boy glanced around, feeling rather daunted at the sheer amount of work to be done. There was a lot for just the two of them, but... he'd do it anyway. Part of being an onmyouji wasn't just to have flashy magic and amazing powers. No, the point was to help people in need, to help them have a better life. And right at this moment, Yadoru knew that Yuzuya-sensei needed someone to help him out.

"So, um... do you have another mop, or...?"
Yuzuya nodded, and gestured to the supply closet in the back corner of the room. "There should be another mop and a bucket in there," he advised.

Then he spied Yadoru's shoes. Which looked like leather, and like they had probably cost more than Yuzuya's whole outfit. "Chiba-san. Aren't you worried you'll ruin those nice shoes in all this water and red gunk?" Yuzuya worried aloud. "I'm sorry, I should have warned you to wear things that you could get dirty."
The question that Yuzuya put up was, to be perfectly honest, not one that Yadoru had even considered before he'd gotten there. Shoes were shoes, and he'd never thought that they could get ruined... more importantly, it never occurred to him that getting them ruined would matter. If it happened in the line of duty, then they got replaced and he never saw the transaction. It might as well have been its own kind of magic, how clothes and shoes were mended or replaced at his home.

Then the offer hit home, and Yadoru realized that he had nothing like what his teacher was talking about. The closest thing he had to something that could get dirty was his onmyouji outfit, and... er... that wouldn't work. At all. "U-um," he stammered, trying to think of a plausible explanation, "this is kind of what I just wear on a daily basis... but if you think I should change out, I guess I could. It's not a big deal to me, though."
Yuzuya's cheeks darkened with embarrassment. He really had been raised in a different world than most of the students here, and it was high time he remembered it before saying something stupid that gave his humbler background away. "Oh, oh. In that case, it's no problem. Don't worry about it."

Yuzuya wrung his mop out over the bucket he was using. Murky reddish water dribbled down his fingers. He released the mop and let it fall back into the water at his feet with a resounding slop. "Finish your homework yet?" he asked, by way of a stab at conversation.
Maybe... it wasn't all right to do this with regular clothes? Yadoru was baffled, but for now, he'd just deal with it. Maybe if he worked hard and didn't say anything else about it, his sensei wouldn't bring it up again? Hard to say. For now, the young boy trotted over to the closet and grabbed his own mop, then to the bucket to wet it down.

...he'd never used one before, so he mimicked Yuzuya-sensei's motion, wringing out the mop so it wasn't dripping wet. That also let him take a quiet sniff of the water. It wasn't blood, he was pretty sure, and it wasn't ichor either... that was good. Getting cursed blood in someone's system could be really, really difficult to remove, especially here.

At the question, Yadoru flushed and looked down at the floor as he began mopping with gusto. Homework... it was hard to get that done when there were spirits running around and doing things like this! "Erm... mostly? There were just one or two questions that I couldn't get, so I was planning on working on them tonight."
Yuzuya pulled up alongside Yadoru. It... kind of looked as if the boy had never mopped before. Well if he didn't have clothes he could get dirty, Yuzuya supposed that was to be assumed. "That's good," Yuzu encouraged him, his tone gentle. "you want to try and soak this junk up with the mop, wring it out into the bucket as much as you can to get it dry again, and soak more up."

Yuzuya stooped to wring his wet mop into the bucket, so that Yadoru could see how it was done. He wrapped his hand around the clammy mop strands and twisted, the strength of his grip squeezing the dirty water out. "Empty the bucket down the big sink in the hall when it's getting full. The sink in here... there's something clogging the drain." He sniffed, eyes downcast as he mopped up more water. "Though I couldn't find it. I took the s-trap and everything apart."
Oh... ah hah, that was what he meant! Yadoru flushed a bright red, embarrassed that he had shown that he honestly had no idea how all those magical housekeeping chores got accomplished. As far as he knew, stains just went away... now he realized that it was a lot of work to clean something up. Made sense, considering, but it was still kind of embarrassing.

At least no one else had seen that?

As he started mopping up, listening carefully to his teacher, he noticed something kind of odd. There was something clogging the sink? Really? That seemed kind of... odd. As Yadoru wrung out the first bit of filthy water, he quietly asked, "Are you sure you did everything? Maybe you should take another look? I don't know much about plumbing, but there's got to be something, right?" Or maybe there was just some kind of explanation for it. Supernatural or normal. The important thing was to make Yuzuya-sensei feel better, because it was clear that he needed something to cheer him up.
Yuzu sopped up more dingy water with his mop, his steps making squishing sounds in the water that remained on the floor. "I tried that stuff you pour down the drain to loosen clogs, I tried a plumbing snake, and I took it all apart and put it back together with no luck," he said, and wrinkled his nose to scoot his glasses up, because they were slipping down and his hands were too busy to stop and adjust them. "I think it's just me. I'll have to ask someone else to look at it later. For now, I'm just not going to use it."

"Anyway," Yuzuya said, trying to change the subject. "There's bigger fish to fry at the moment, considering that the floor is soaked and classes are scheduled in this room tomorrow. I might have to cancel the lab and move it around to another day." Which was going to screw his week of lesson plans royally. He'd been so looking forward to this lab, too. It was one where the students were going to learn about the properties of liquid oxygen. Yuzu frowned and went to squeeze out his mop into the bucket.
Hm... well, there really wasn't a way to ask more about the clogged drain without arousing suspicion, now was there? It was obvious that he knew next to nothing about such things, and certainly no more than what Yuzuya-sensei did. That meant he'd have to come back later, at some other time, and do some research of his own. If there was a spirit involved, he should be able to entice them out somehow.

As for the change of labs? Yadoru was a little bit torn on that. On the one hand, he was hopelessly behind on his homework and getting a bit of a reprieve would be good. On the other hand, it was obvious that his sensei was upset about the matter, and Yadoru's soft side was giving him no end of troubles about that. In the end, as he mopped up the sopping floor with gusto, he seriously affirmed, "But if we get it all mopped up and dried, then you could still have the lab, right?"
Yuzuya sighed lightly, and nodded. "Yeah, we'll do our best," he conceded with a wan smile. The kid was right, best to stay positive. However, that didn't quite erase the heavy feeling on the science teacher's shoulders.

Yuzuya stumbled over absolutely nothing, caught himself on a nearby lab table just in time. "Whoa," he coached himself, pushing himself back to his feet and adjusting his glasses. He turned and wrung his mop out into the bucket.

"So... what do you think of school so far?" he asked Yadoru, as he worked. "Adjusting okay?"

Yadoru tried to catch his teacher when the man started tripping, but backed off when Yuzuya stood back up on his own. He glanced around just to be sure that nothing supernatural was to blame- save perhaps inhuman clumsiness- then he went back to his own work, gnawing his lip as he did so. What was going on here? Who could be responsible for this? Sadly, the answers weren't forthcoming, and there wasn't much of a chance to get them.

At the question, the boy blinked and quietly offered, "Um... it's kind of busy, and I don't know if I've gotten my bearings quite yet. Do the dorms not have servants?" He was a horribly sheltered student, after all; he'd never had to take care of his own clothes or anything like that.
Now the mop slipped from Yuzuya's fingers and clattered against the table, slid to the floor. Yuzu gaped openly at the teenage boy opposite him. "Servants, in the dorms?" he pronounced, in disbelief.

His cell phone rang just then, playing the first few bars of the original Legend of Zelda game in synthesized humming. Yuzu didn't even hear it, he was so stunned.
Aoki Chiaki hated to be late. He wasn't fond of anything that made him stand out in general, but he especially hated to be late, because not only did it make everyone notice you -- and in such a bad way -- but it was rude, and Chiaki didn't like to be rude.

This time, though, he could honestly say had not been his fault. Cleanup -- extra cleanup, at that -- was not something most students would look forward to, but this was cleanup with Shibata-sensei, and Shibata-sensei had shown Chiaki a kindness that had warmed him in a fatherly sort of way, and Chiaki found that he wanted to lend Shibata-sensei a hand. But he'd been horribly delayed on his way across campus. A mischievous spirit had decided then that she absolutely must heckle the lone, unassuming little first-year, and it had caught Chiaki completely off-guard. Her questions and taunts had been so -- so -- so unsettling, and less than appropriate, and Chiaki had spent the better part of twenty minutes trying to lose her so that she wouldn't follow him into the room with Yuzuya. Chiaki's last ghost encounter in Yuzuya's presence had been a little embarrassing.

But finally, he burst through the door of the lab, out of breath and red in the face. "S-sorry I'm late!" he wheezed, doubling over for a moment to catch his breath. "I, um -- someone stopped me, and -- " He stopped there to cough, a little conveniently. Maybe if Yuzuya was concerned enough he wouldn't ask any further about his whereabouts. The cough wasn't all show, though, as he dug for his inhaler in his pocket.
In the same way, Yadoru hated being the center of attention. Especially when he'd just done or said something to draw such... violent reactions. It wasn't his fault! He'd never been to a regular school before! But apparently he'd said something so outrageous that it deserved that kind of reaction.

The young onmyouji's face turned a bright red in embarrassment, and he paid far more attention than before on the floor, not meeting Yuzuya's stunned gaze. The phone ringing gave him ample cover, though, and he sulkily murmured, "You should answer your phone, Yuzuya-sensei." A bitter 'There isn't a servant here to answer it for you' was just at the tip of his tongue, but he bit it down when he heard someone come in.

...Aoki Chiaki? Yadoru blinked at that, and despite himself, some of that blush and unease was ameliorated by Chiaki's presence. Even if it was quickly replaced by worry. "Chiaki-kun! Ah, don't worry about being late; just take a moment to catch your breath." Though he'd have to ask who that 'someone' was later. Now that he knew the other boy's secret, he felt rather protective of Chiaki.
"Are you okay?" Yuzuya asked, blinking at Chiaki with concern in his eyes. "You don't have to apologize, it was more of a, whenever you can drop by and help, sort of thing. I wasn't expecting anyone, actually. So it's nice that you two," here he made sure to nod also at Yadoru in appreciation, "had time to give me a hand." He offered the two boys a mild smile. "Thanks."

He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket to check who had called. He frowned at the little screen, clicked the ringer off, and put it back in his pocket. And he picked up his mop, going at the floor with gusto.
Chiaki took a puff from his inhaler and stood there for a moment, breathing slowly. "I'm fine," he said after a moment, coughing into his hand a couple more times. He eyed the room and his face fell. The room looked like a disaster area. Poor Shibata-sensei...no wonder he'd been so desperate for help. He cast a sideways glance at Yadoru, wondering if the mess had been caused by something supernatural.

"Um, Shibata-sensei, what should I do?" he asked, looking around. Yadoru and Yuzuya already had the mops down (even though Yadoru looked like he could use a few tips), so maybe there was something else he could do.
"You're welcome," Yadoru said to his teacher, offering a tiny bit of a smile as well. He was still a little sore about the whole 'servant' issue, but he was willing to just put that aside for now. Yuzuya had enough on his plate as it was, the boy wasn't going to just be another burden on someone else's shoulders. With that he went back to his own mopping attempts, going at it with more enthusiasm than skill, but... well, he'd still do his part!

The look from Chiaki was caught in the corner of Yadoru's eye, and the young exorcist just shrugged and rolled his eyes. He couldn't even see if this had been a supernatural incident, and he doubted that he'd get a chance to look any time soon. But perhaps later on he could see... he hoped so, anyway.
Yuzuya gave Chiaki a nod. "Well, the cabinets are tipped over, but they're mostly empty. All the supplies that were inside are scattered and hidden around, like in the table drawers and things. If you wouldn't mind--" here his phone started vibrating in his sweater pocket, and Yuzu resolutely ignored it-- "could you search around and help gather things up? You can stack them on the lab tables."

"I don't know how we'll get those cabinets up off the floor," Yuzuya mused, wringing out his mop. The he offered the two boys a wry grin. "I think that the three of us will require a bit more manpower. No offense, gentlemen."

Should have invited the kendo team, eh?
Chiaki nodded and began moving about, picking up various books and lab items and placing them on the lab tables carefully. He didn't care so much that his sneakers were getting wet, because they were old and beaten up, and he was probably in need of new ones anyway, but he knew it'd probably be a while before he got them.

He kept glancing out the window nervously from time to time, a bit paranoid that maybe the ghost was still following him.
"Wait, Shibata-sensei... are you saying that they were hidden?" Yadoru's eyes widened at that, and he glanced around the room again. Who would hide things unless it was because of a ghost? It had to be some kind of trickster/troublemaker! It had to be!

So, without further adieu, Yadoru threw himself into the work, trying to find the textbooks and other supplies before the others did. Of course, when he found the first book, he didn't put it on the table immediately... instead, he delicately opened the pages, looking carefully at what he saw. Water was a purifying thing, and even when polluted with iodine, it sometimes held traces of the supernatural within it. Perhaps there would be some kind of residue... he could hope as such, anyway.

In so doing, he didn't notice what Chiaki was doing, and neither did he really hear what his teacher was saying. "Maybe so, Shibata-sensei..."
The phone in Yuzuya's worn sweater pocket buzzed again and again, and finally Yuzuya had had enough. He thrust his mop into the bucket in what could only be anger.

He took a breath.

"Excuse me just a moment," he said smoothly, making sure to show that his ire wasn't due to either of the two boys. "I need to make a quick phone call."

Then he made his way through the murky water on the floor, trying to hold his head high and his shoulders straight. But once he disappeared into the hallway and slid the door shut behind him, Yuzuya slumped helpless against the tiled wall.

He tried his utmost to keep his voice clear and calm, sure the two kids in the lab could probably hear him if they tried. "Hello? I-I'd like to have a number blocked, if that's okay. I keep getting unwanted calls. ...Yes, I'll hold."
Unfortunately, both Chiaki and Yadoru were too preoccupied with what they were doing to bother trying to eavesdrop on their teacher's conversation -- Yadoru with his determined search for traces of the supernatural, and Chiaki with his desperate attempts to hide from all traces of the supernatural. Chiaki spent just as much time staring apprehensively out the window as he did picking things up off the floor, and he was really not paying attention, by now. He kept thinking he'd felt that cold prickle that meant that a spirit was nearby, but it was just his nervous mind playing tricks on him.

Chiaki was so distracted that he didn't even notice when he'd walked straight into Yadoru. Staggering back, he slipped on the wet floor and landed hard on his bottom. He coughed out a groan, and scrambled to his feet -- he really hoped he hadn't just destroyed his uniform, because the back of his pants were all wet now -- he managed an abashed but friendly apology to Yadoru. "S-sorry, Chiba-kun," he said, shaking his head. It was hard to tell unless you knew Chiaki, but there was so much less of the guardedness in his voice when he spoke to Yadoru -- to anyone who knew Chiaki well enough, it was testament to their tentatively formed friendship.
Ah hah, he'd found it! A very faint trace of ghostly influence, trapped within the water of the page! It was almost imperceptible even to his eyes; just a mild warping of the text. But that did answer the question; a ghost, a relatively weak one, had decided to pull a prank. Now, if he could just find out what kind of ghost it was-

But it was at that moment that Chiaki stubled into him, and the boy had to catch himself before he ruined his nice clothes in the water. When he turned around, though... he winced. Speaking of ruined clothes, it looked like Chiaki had. Poor guy. "It's all right," he said, waving it away with an idle motion of his hand, "no harm done. Not to me, anyway." But those pants! Could Chiaki even afford to get another pair on short notice?

Still... this was a good opportunity for him to speak, while their teacher was preoccupied. Even still, his voice sank down to a whisper, and he asked, "By the way... you didn't see anything when you were coming here, did you?"
Wondering if he might be able to wash his pants in the sink, Chiaki shook out his shoes with a grim look on his face. He looked up at Yadoru in response to the question, and then out the door, where Shibata-sensei was, before he turned back to Yadoru.

"Yeah," he sighed. "Someone was bothering me. I had to run all around the campus to lose her...I keep thinking she'll have found me here." He sniffed, wiping his nose on the back of his sleeve. "I don't think it was her who did this, though...I mean, um, not like I know anything about this stuff like you do, you can probably tell who did it by looking around, right?"
"It isn't that easy," Yadoru admitted with a quiet sigh, "it's like trying to put together a crime scene when you don't have any physical evidence. I can tell what happened, and where everything went, but... it's not possible to just dust for fingerprints or anything." Which was a shame, because that would make the job of being an onmyouji so much easier if he could just mark the ghosts and then see who went where. But, alas, that wasn't an option he had at the moment.

But he had other options! Things that made sense and had worked for hundreds of years! Namely, asking other people what they knew and piecing it all together. "Well, why don't you describe who you saw? Maybe it's the same person anyway."

As Chiaki started talking about his misadventures with the woman- who had clearly been on the wrong side of forty when she'd died and still didn't realize that fact- Yadoru nodded along, considering what he was hearing... but then he stopped dead. He slowly looked up, and realized that they were very much Not Alone.

The worst thing was that she wasn't noticeable, not like most ghosts were. No hairs raising on the back of the neck, no feeling of cold or heat, no sense of wrongness... probably a manifestation of the lack of attention she felt in life. Regardless, it meant that he could only track her with his senses, and it also meant that Chiaki probably couldn't sense her either, even when she slipped through the walls and stood right behind him.

Yadoru wasn't sure what to say or do, especially since he didn't have his talismans with him. More to the point, he wasn't sure how to let Chiaki know without making him panic. Especially since Chiaki was listing her qualities in his usual socially awkward manner, each of which made the ghost seem more and more upset. Finally, in desperation, he whispered, "Chiaki? Just... don't look behind you, all right?"
Chiaki stopped abruptly, his body stiffening. There was something in Yadoru's voice that summoned a rising feeling of mild terror. Yadoru wouldn't say something like that with that face unless something was wrong, so something had to be wrong. Chiaki's expression dropped into one of nervous anxiety.

"W-what is it, Chiba-kun?" he asked quietly, swallowing.
"Just..." His mind was working a mile a minute, trying to think of some way to salvage this situation. If he provoked the ghost further, there was no way he could get out of it without betraying his secret... but he didn't want Chiaki to be caught in the mystic cross-fire! And he couldn't put up a barrier without his talismans, so what could he do!?

In the end, he seriously whispered, "Come straight towards me. Slowly. Don't look behind you, whatever you do. And when I tell you, I need you to run or jump to me as fast as you can. All right?" If he did that, then maybe, just maybe, he could act before the ghost could!
Chiaki really wished Yadoru would just tell him what was going on, but he was at least good at following directions. He took shaky, slow steps toward Yadoru, swallowing hard.

Behind him, the ghost was looking less and less pleased. Her aura flared up slowly and angrily. After this stupid little human boy talked about her like that -- was she going to let him get away with it?
"Just calm down," he murmured, more to the ghost than to Chiaki. He didn't have much of a hope of it working out, but anything to distract her, if only for a moment, was a very good thing. He continued waiting, mentally judging how far Chiaki could go in one good dash, until he decided that the boy was close enough.

Then he commanded, "Now!" And to give Chiaki room to move, Yadoru stepped forward and to the side, crossing paths with Chiaki and putting himself between the boy and the vengeful ghost. At the same time, he interlaced all of the fingers of his hands, forming a mudra of sealing and imprisonment... one of the few that worked when he didn't have much else to go with. "I forbid you to move until you calm down!" he growled, and even though the ghost raged and her aura flared with anger, the unseen barrier held... for now. But even the slightest distraction could ruin the entire thing...
"I, I see," Yuzuya was saying to his cell phone as his posture shrank. "Even if I pay extra? No? But-- oh. O-O-Okay. I understand. Sorry to bother you," he finished, cowed.

He clicked his phone off, heaved a sigh, and slid open the door. Inside he found the two boys not cleaning, but in a rather... odd position. Yadoru was dancing, or something, and Chiaki was clinging to his back, white as a sheet.

"W-What are you two doing?" Yuzuya blurted out, and then regretted the words before he'd finished speaking them. Oh. What if... Schoolboys got up to... all kind of things, these days, didn't they? It wasn't his place to question. His cheeks reddened slightly, and he blinked three times.
Chiaki was so badly startled by Yuzuya's entrance that he jumped away from Yadoru with a wheezed squeak. His feet failed to find purchase on the slippery wet floor, and he slipped into the back wall, his head knocking into the window, and he slid to the floor. At least the floor by the window wasn't so wet...

"We -- we weren't..." he tried to say, but ended up coughing instead. He really hoped Shibata-sensei didn't think the less of him for this. The point had been not to have any supernatural encounters around Yuzuya!
"S-sensei!" Yadoru was just as startled as Chiaki, but in a way, his attention was far more vital than that of the other boy. Namely, by turning to Yuzuya and raising his hands to try to explain- or to block off some of the embarrassed blush- he let his spell falter and fail. Which unleashed a powerful, very vengeful ghost not more than a foot away.

Said spirit lashed out immediately, screaming her fury at those who had dared to insult her, and Yadoru didn't have the time to try to get out of her way. Ghostly hands reached into his chest and ripped outward. It didn't cause overt physical damage, but still Yadoru winced, staggering backwards and nearly following Chiaki's spill onto the floor.

What was obvious, as the spirit ran off, was what had happened. Yadoru's eyes began to water, and he hunched over, starting to cough violently. The ghost's touch was like a hammer's blow to his chest, and his vision was a blurry double-image; an aftereffect of near-discorporation. It was like a coughing fit, but worse; a wheezing, labored sort of sound, almost paralyzing in a sense.

Of course, and not too surprisingly, these were symptoms similar to those of breathing in too much atmospheric elemental iodine...
Alarmed, Yuzuya ran to Yadoru's side, bending to clap the boy on the back. "Hey-- You okay? I didn't mean to startle." Geez, how embarrassing this was. Yuzu could feel the eyes of Chiaki burning into him, and his blush traveled up the back of him neck. "Sorry," he apologized, not sure what else to say.

Yodaru sounded ill. "Are you choking on the fumes, Chiba-san? I think-- I think I'd better open the windows a bit," he suggested. He hadn't noticed any odor at all, but he'd been working with chemicals for years, maybe he was just acclimated to it. "You don't look well."

"Aoki-san, sorry-- could you take him to the hallway, get him some water?" Yuzuya suggested.
Chiaki was having a bit of a coughing problem, but that was fixed with a puff of his inhaler. Yadoru was clearly having problems that were far worse than his. Staggering to his feet, ignoring the fact that his shoes and pants were now soaked in iodine water, and grabbed Yadoru by the arm. "Come on," he said hoarsely, looking genuinely concerned. "S-sorry, sensei..." He started pulling Yadoru toward the door into the hall.
"I'm all right," Yadoru managed to force through his coughing fit, staggering and clinging to Chiaki's arm as he tried to stabilize himself. He'd be fine in a few minutes... no, really, he would! He'd be completely fine! He just had to pull himself together! "I'll be fine..."

That was easier said than done, though... it was a rare day when the boy was hit straight-on, with no protections, by a vengeful spirit... he felt sick to his stomach, and so tired as well, his spirit drained by that vicious blow. So he leaned a little on Chiaki- only as much as he needed, though, he could still stand on his own feet!- as they walked out of the room.
Chiaki was still breathing heavily, but he found it really was easier to breathe once they were out of the classroom. Slowly but surely, he helped Yadoru over to the water fountain and turned it on for him.

"Are you okay, Chiba-kun?" he asked with genuine concern. "That -- um -- I saw what she did to you -- are you going to be okay?" Yadoru knew way more about the ghosts than he did, and Chiaki had never seen a ghost do that to someone. All of the ghosts he'd known were either benevolent or harmlessly annoying. He'd never seen a spirit touch someone like that...
"I'm okay," was the confirmation again, as Yadoru wasn't about to admit how much he was hurting from a metaphysical raking. But that's what he deserved for showing off and losing his concentration- he had only himself to blame, now didn't he?

Ah well. Yadoru took several long drinks of water to try to calm himself down, then sighed and wiped off his mouth on the back of his sleeve. "It's not the first time that that's happened. I'll just... need some rest is all."
Chiaki was still concerned and a little worried. He didn't know what kind of...damage...that sort of attack could cause. "I didn't know ghosts could do that," he said, awkwardly and quietly. "I, um...do you want me to walk with you to your room? I don't think sensei'll get mad if you want to go lie down."
"They can do a lot worse," he sighed, shaking his head sadly. More vengeful and powerful ghosts could kill people, and even lesser ghosts could do all sorts of bad things to people. If they didn't, then there would never have been a need for onmyouji, now would there? As for the question? He nodded a little, offering a tiny smile at that. "I could walk there myself, of course, but... maybe we should. If you wouldn't mind."
Worse...? Chiaki paled at the thought. He had never imagined ghosts could be so dangerous. Sure, the thought had probably occurred to him before, but for him, ghosts had mostly always been troublesome. Nuisances. Maybe this school was more dangerous than he thought.

After checking out with Shibata-sensei, Chiaki and Yadoru headed back to the dorms. The smaller boy kept a hand on Yadoru's arm the entire way, just to be safe, though his eyes were often darting around, looking for ghosts. He realized that this new knowledge made him dislike his ability to see the supernatural even more. The ghosts always knew they could see him; maybe that was why they always targeted him. Didn't that put him in more danger?

"So...what happened today..." Chiaki tried to say, awkwardly. "That ghost. What she did...if she was that angry...it could have been me, couldn't it?" The thought made him immensely comfortable. At least Yadoru could protect himself. Chiaki was defenseless against the various youkai at Kikuryou, and he was only just now realizing it.
"...yes, it could have been you." Yadoru hated admitting it, as he didn't want to make Chiaki even more panicky, but it was just as important to make sure the other boy understood his situation. This was dangerous, very dangerous; if this had happened to Yadoru, then he hated to think of what could happen to a person who didn't have any protections. It had reduced him to relying, however slightly, on someone else to help him to the dorms, and for Yadoru that was a tremendous thing.

As they walked along, Yadoru keeping his eyes open for any ghosts that might be around, he tried to think of something he could offer to make up for it. It had been a harsh, unforgiving truth that he'd learned early; that the spirit world was hostile, that bakemono of all sorts were dangerous to the unwary. It had made him become a better onmyouji, but what would it do to someone who couldn't do anything? Perhaps... perhaps that was why there was so much secrecy about what they did. He hated thinking that Chiaki was helpless with that knowledge burning in his mind. Desperation could result, and desperate people could make very, very stupid decisions.

So, he leaned a little more on Chiaki's shoulder, and murmured, "Well... that's part of the thing, though. Ghosts have to have that emotional response to draw on their powers. So if you don't do anything to make them hate you or fear you, I think you'll be all right. And... maybe I can think of something to keep you safe." His honor as an onmyouji would demand nothing less! That, and because he really didn't want to see Chiaki hurt the way that he himself had.
Emotional response? Chiaki hadn't ever really been afraid of ghosts, just sort of mildly -- but harmlessly -- bothered by them. Sometimes he was a little friendly to the nicer ones. Maybe that was why he'd never seen a spirit become so dangerous before, why he'd never known...

But how could Yadoru keep him safe, save for saving his neck in a pinch like that? Chiaki had to admit that Yadoru was a friend among friends not that he really had many friends. He cocked his head curiously at Yadoru as he helped his classmate along to the dorms. "Like what, Chiba-kun?"
That question made Yadoru blush a little and run his free hand through his short hair before shrugging in despair. He wore talismans himself, but obviously they hadn't been enough... or they'd failed for some reason. In any case, he couldn't entrust his friend to something like that, it just wouldn't work.

So, in the end, all he could do was shake his head and mutter, "I haven't thought that far ahead yet... but there's got to be a way!"
Chiaki wasn't sure he'd ever seen Yadoru quite so...sheepish. Seeing him like this, with his defenses stripped down...Chiaki was sure it must have been embarrassing to a degree for Yadoru, but he got the feeling that he was seeing a self of Yadoru that was a little truer, a little deeper down. Even though he was still a little awkward as an onmyouji, Yadoru was usually so confident that until today, it hadn't occurred to Chiaki that Yadoru could really be hurt by the things he fought. Seeing Yadoru like this, embarrassed and weakened, trying to come up with an answer for Chiaki, it was a little uncomfortable, but it was also strangely refreshing. It was nice to know, sometimes, that others were human, too.

Chiaki smiled one of his rare smiles, a silent laugh on his face, as they neared the dormitory. "I'm sure you'll find the way, Chiba-kun."