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Shocked/Horrified: WTF MATE

bewarewulf in ghostsugar_rp

Ain't That The Way It Is? [Tag: Nao]

"Herregud." Ulf sighed and loosened off his tie, wondering mournfully how many hours of detention he'd get if he just stripped down to his boxers. It was too damn hot! Sure, Norwegian summers weren't altogether freezing, but at least there he'd been able to escape for a swim. And it was a different kind of heat, too. He still wasn't quite used to it.

On the other hand, he was enjoying this school. More than he'd thought he would, actually. It was nice to be out on his own, even though he missed his siblings. Well. The younger ones, anyway. Efraim he could certainly do without. But the school...yeah, it was pretty alright. People were mostly nice (apart from that weird jerk Suguru) and helped him muddle along with his improving Japanese. They pointed and waved when he walked past - prob'ly on account of the fact that he was so obviously foreign, he supposed - and that did a young man's ego a lot of favours.

He rounded a corner, idly listening to his iPod through one earbud while exchanging friendly greetings with strangers, and froze. His eyebrows twitched together in puzzlement as he continued to stare.

Was that...a box? Moving by itself?

It appeared to be so.

Now, Ulf had seen a lot of strange things in his sixteen years of life. He was himself a strange thing. But for some reason the idea of a box just floating was more than a little disturbi--

--There was a girl holding it. Okay. Okay. That made more sense. Ulf sighed in relief and continued walking. Poor kid, the box was bigger than she was! What the hell was in it? Even if it wasn't heavy it was unwieldy enough to make cartage difficult. Jeez. "Hey, hey! You okay with that? Need some help?"
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Nao was trying her very best, but unfortunately the box that she'd been asked to carry up to the art classroom was just too big for her to handle. The ceramic art projects inside the box clinked with her movements. "Oof," she said aloud, and labored up one more stair. "Unnngh!" Her eyes rolled heavenward. She should have just TOLD the art teacher that she couldn't get this big heavy stupid box of all by herself!

But now someone was talking up above her, on the staircase landing. Nao attempted to peer around the box to see who the speaker was.

"M-me?" she squeaked. She could just make out a shock of messy blonde hair over her cargo. When she took her attention off of her box, her left foot missed the step that she was reaching for. She started to fall.
Wha-- oh, no!! Muttering several curses in his native tongue that would have had his ears twisted very firmly by his mother had she heard them from his lips, Ulf dashed down the steps between them in bounds. Thankfully he had excellent balance (although the temptation to give himself a tail to assist with this was hard to curb) and managed to plant a decent foothold on the stairs in time to catch the clinking box firmly and Nao a little more roughly.

"Beklager! Beklager; er du okay? Hvorfor er du bærer det av du selv?" Ulf asked, a little breathless. Then he realised that she would have no idea what he was saying and wished he had a third hand to smack himself in the head with. "I mean- Are you okay? Why are you carrying this all by yourself? Sorry for the crazy language..."

He was an idiot, he knew. But, whatever! He was also totally the hero of the day! Mental pat on the back in 3...2...1...
Dazed, Nao shook her head. "Uh..." she mumbled, putting one white hand to her forehead. "I..." she began, and then opened her eyes.

There was a big giant boy holding her! And he was looking down at her like he was going to EAT HER FOR BREAKFAST!

Nao gasped in terror, frozen like a deer in the headlights of a very large truck. "He-lp," she croaked out, but it didn't come out loud enough to do her much good.
Ulf understood. He hefted the box carefully with a reassuring smile down at Nao, patting her gently on the back once she was steady on her feet once more. "Of course I'll help!! Where are we going?"

Now that he wasn't panicking that she'd fall to her DEATH or something, he managed to get a good look at her. Girly was tiny and adorable and he just wanted to eat her all up!!!

Much like his youngest sister, really.

"Are you sure you're okay-- uhh, sorry, what's your name?"
No, no, no, NO! He had it all wrong! She didn't mean that she had wanted him to help save her, she had meant that she had wanted someone to save her from HIM. Nao looked up at the boy with wide, wet brown eyes. Her lower lip trembled, and she bit it back.

Big, scary, tall, rough-looking boy with sharp canines was smiling down at her. She gasped and flinched when he patted her on the back, held her arms in front of her chest defensively. Just in case he was dangerous. You never knew! He could be some sort of school delinquent. Or a gang leader. Or a punk rocker. Or... or a supervillain in disguise.

But there was no one else around in the hallway, and he had her box firmly in hand. Boy, were his hands huge! Nao swallowed, staring at them. One of his fingers was about as long as her whole hand. It made her feel kind of... funny.

Red-faced, she replied to his admittedly capable-looking hands. "I'm Ka... Kasuga. I'm in 1-B," she whispered. She wondered why on earth he would want to know. He should be able to read it where it embroidered on the right breast of her school uniform. The kanji of her name were simple ones.

Ohhh... maybe he wasn't that good at Japanese, yet, she wondered.
She still looked upset, Ulf thought in mild dismay. Boy, she must've been really scared by the prospect of falling! Poor thing. "Kasuga-chan, huh? I'm Ulf! It's nice to meet you. Where do you want me to take this for you?" he asked again, carefully taking a step to test his balance with the box in hand. "Just gimme a second here, I'll be right with you."

With utmost care in order to reassure the poor child, Ulf set the box down so that it was carefully braced against his long legs. Off went his iPod, out came his headphone, back into his pants pocket they both went. Even he knew it was bad manners to hold a conversation with someone knew while listening to music.

"There! That's better." Levelling another Reassuring Grin at poor flustered Nao, Ulf bent to retrieve the box and gave her a thumbs-up. "Let's go~!"
"Oh... you don't have to, really," Nao protested feebly, knitting her brow. It was embarrassing to be called in such familiar terms by someone she'd just met. "I can..."

But he was hauling her box up the steps already. And it wasn't like she could honestly get it all by herself. "Er, no, I can't." she admitted, eyes on her feet. "To the art room, on the third floor," she told him, hurrying to keep up with his long-legged strides.

"I'm very pleased to meet you, Ulfuu-sempai," she told him in a timid voice. She dropped a textbook bow to him, both hands folded in front of her. Then she remembered to jab her hand out for a handshake the way they made you do in English class. The handshake is the universal form of greeting! her junior high English teacher had said over and over.

Oh, but wait. The handshake was rather useless when your hands were full with a giant cardboard box. So her teacher had been wrong! Imagine that! Nao hid her hand behind her back, trying to pretend it away.
Ulf laughed. He couldn't help it. She was just too cute! "Hey now, just 'Ulf' is fine. Otherwise I get all confused," he smiled.

Attempting to match his pace to hers, he chuckled again at her abortive handshake offering and freed a hand to return to her. "Here. Shake! I can totally multitask." Indeed, the box was light enough that he could manage it one-handed briefly. No problems! He was Ulf the Awesome, after all!
Nao's eyes were like dinner plates. She allowed Ulf to take her little hand in his giant paw. His fingers felt warm and a little callused, with strong bones inside. Different from girl fingers. Different from Grandpa fingers. Different from the young man from Australia who had been the assistant English teacher at her junior high school. She had had to shake his hand a few times when practicing greetings (not that it had helped her feel any less stupid while doing so). His hands had been clammy. But Ulf's hand was.... nice.

Oh. Her mouth dropped open slightly in surprise, and she gazed up at him, pausing on a stair.

Was it rude to ask someone who was not from Japan where they were from? Nao realized she didn't have any sort of mental file on the subject. She decided to go at indirectly. "What, what language were you speaking, just a moment ago?" she blurted out. She started walking again. "It wasn't Japanese, was it?"
"Norsk," he replied with a cheerful wink. "That is, Norwegian. I'm from Norway." Ulf waited for her again patiently. "Kind of a long way from here, right? Heh!" He wondered if someone like this cuteling child could even fathom how far from home he was, or how different this place was to him.

Probably not. It was hard to understand until you'd been on the same position yourself, he supposed.

"Have you travelled at all?"
"Norway," Nao repeated, feeling the sound of it on her lips. Norway was so far. At the very tip-top tip of Europe. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine what it was like to live there.

She could imagine the gray winter sky and a bright blue sea. Lots of pink-cheeked children going to school, lined up like little peppermints at their desks. They would be good and well-behaved children who weren't afraid to give a proper handshake. Snow sprinkled down like powdered sugar on picture postcard cities. Maybe Ulf rode around in a sled pulled by jingling reindeer in the winter, like Santa Claus. Or maybe there were houses made of gingerbread cookies and candy. No, wait, Hansel and Gretel were from Germany. The Brothers Grimm. She was pretty sure of that.

Then she opened her eyes and was surprised to find Ulf looking at her curiously. Oh, that's right, they were talking!

"I'm afraid I don't know anything about Norway," she admitted. It was to be lamented. "I know the flag, and where it is on the map... and that's about it."
Ulf beamed at her. "Hey, that's more than most people do!" Already she was doing far better than certain people that seemed to confuse it with every other Scandinavian country. Hmmph. Stupid Suguru. "Did you know that we invented the paper clip? And the cheese slicer? Hahaha!"

(Okay, so other countries probably had greater claims to fame, but Ulf liked cheese. So there.)

He hummed a little to himself and started up the next set of stairs, glancing back frequently to make sure his new friend was keeping up. "Oh! And! We got to the South Pole first, did you know? Yep, yep! America too! Well, apart from the Natives. But that doesn't count, since they were already there to begin with."
Nao gaped at Ulf, astonished. "No, no I didn't know any of that," she confessed. She had to skip up the steps to keep up with his pace. "Is it true? That is really amazing, U-Ulf-sempai!"

"Where would we be without paperclips?!" she gasped. "I mean, that would be so inconvenient! You can't staple everything, after all!"
God in Heaven, she was so earnest! Ulf was dying here. She was killing him. He wanted to squee like a schoolgirl or something. Hanging around Kasuga-chan was going to seriously hamper his ManPoints count, Ulf could tell.

"Jaja, it's all true! Us Norwegians are pretty rad. Did you know Norway's called 'Land of the Midnight Sun?'" He considered this for a moment, then reluctantly added, "Although really, all the countries that far north get the midnight sun. But, whatever."
"Midnight.... sun?!" Nao blinked twice and her jaw dropped open, completely lost. "Huh?"
He nodded vigorously. "Uhuh! In the summertime, the sun barely goes down for an hour or two before it starts rising again! It's light allll~ the time!"

Reaching the third floor, Ulf stopped for a moment to get his bearings. The Art Room was..."This way, right? Anyway, the Midnight Sun is more extreme the further north you go. Up at Nordkapp - that's the northernmost point of Norway - the sun doesn't even really disappear! It's crazy." He looked back down at the tiny girl, still grinning. "Of course, in the winter it's the opposite."
"Sempai..." Nao managed, terrified of contradicting a person with this kind of momentum. "Um... er. I, I think the..." Oh, this was no time to be afraid! She closed her eyes and mustered her courage.

Ulf was staring at her inquisitively, she could feel his eyes on her. Sweat beaded on her forehead.

"I think that, the, THE ART ROOM IS THAT WAY!" she spat out, and took a deeeeeeep breath. Not even her attempt at yelling was able to produce much volume, now that was pathetic! With one finger she pointed at a sign beside the stairs which was marked: ART ROOM ->

And she cringed. Please don't eat me very big sempai, please don't eat me very big sempai!!!!
"Eh?" Ulf followed her pointing finger and squinted in amazement at the lettering. "Huuuh. Well, whaddya know, it is, too! Lucky we didn't get too far!" Now he felt like a prize idiot. And he'd been so sure...

With a smart about-turn and an abashedly grateful glance at the cringing Nao, Ulf headed off in the correct direction. "Thanks, Kasuga_cha~an~!"
There was the -chan again! He had to be mocking her. No one else at her new school called Nao that way. She shook her head, full of her own worries. "Don't mention it," she whispered, and trailed along in Ulf's shadow all the way to the art classroom.
Something wasn't quite right here, but Ulf had no idea what it was. Too much got lost in translation. He sighed slightly and once again checked his pace, trying to keep it to Nao's smaller stride. She seemed pretty determined to lag a bit behind him, though.

"Is it really that hard to drop the '-sempai'?" he asked mournfully. It made him feel so old! Japanese honorifics and whatnot still confused the hell out of him, no matter how he tried to get used to it. "Could we at least try '-kun' or something?"

Ulf opened the Art Room door carefully and pulled a piteous face at Nao. "Pleeease?"
Nao's head tipped to the side, and she processed this information with a blank look on her face.

Now THIS was perplexing.

"I apologize," she told him. Her fingers clenched the fabric of her skirt. "I didn't mean to bother you."

But calling him informally? When they'd just met and he was older? Now that was a breach of Proper Manners that Nao couldn't imagine herself approaching in a million-zillion years. "You're not a second-year?" she asked, pointing at the "II" pin on his blazer, next to his name.

"Second-years are 'sempai.' Well, to first-years like me, I'm a first-year, so you're sempai... but you're not sempai to a third-year. But a third-year is sempai to you... and to me... Ooh, this is a little complicated-- anyway, anyway! You... you write it like this," she added, picking up the chalk in the art room and writing the two characters on the blackboard. "Se-n... pa-i."

That had to be it! Maybe he just didn't know the word yet! She had just taught him, so that would fix the problem. She dusted her fingers off and turned back to him, proud of her work. What a smart cookie she was.
Ulf pulled another face. "I know, I know. It's just- It makes me feel ancient!! And besides, we're friends now, right? Friends shouldn't have to call friends so formally!" He nodded decisively, pleased by this logic. Surely nobody could fault that!

He- oh, yeah, the box. "Anyway, where does this go? On the bench at the back?" Adjusting his grip, Ulf peered around the Art Room curiously. It was always full of such interesting stuff! Japanese art class was different to the ones back home, too. Well, that made sense, he supposed.
Nao stared. STARED. "Fr?" Friends? With her?!

She looked around for the hidden cameras. She was on that TV show wasn't she?! The one where people play wacky and insane gags on unsuspecting regular folks and then when the person falls for the tricks, then everyone shouts something like, "CRAZY CAMERAAAAA!!!" and there's confetti and balloons and a giant check?

No, no, no, the giant check and the balloons was something else. But people definitely got Crazy Camera'ed all the time. Hidden cameras could be hiding anywhere, after all. That was why they were called hidden cameras!

Nao's head whipped from side to side, inspecting the classroom. When she didn't see a camera in the corners or anything (maybe there was one hidden in the light fixtures?) she turned on Ulf with questioning eyes. Maybe if she stared at him long enough, she would see if he had a camera on him.

Usually people had it in a pair of big weird glasses, so she checked that first. No, Ulf was not wearing glasses. Was it in his tie? Like a pin or something like that? She picked up the end of his tie and had a look for herself.

What the hell had he said so wrong here?! Ulf raced frantically back over his last few sentences, trying to spot some critical flaw in his Japanese to account for Nao's expression. What was she doing with his tie? Why was she staring at him like that?

Was someone here having a joke at his expense?! No, no, his sweet Kasuga-chan wouldn't do something like that to him, he was sure of it. He blinked down at her in puzzlement.

"Uh. Kasuga...chan...?"
Nao blinked back at Ulf. "I was looking for the hidden camera," she admitted. "But I don't see one. So... are you teasing me?" Should he say yes, there really wasn't much she could do. But honesty was (usually) the most convenient way of dealing with such matters.
Ulf blinked in failed comprehension. Video cameras? What did she mean by video cameras? And why would they be in his tie? Cute though she undeniably was, he had a feeling that his darling new little søta was kinda odd.

He checked the rest of the room for cameras himself, slightly nervous now. "Teasing you? Kasuga-chan, I don't understand...how would I be teasing you?"
Nao's face was red as a tomato. A super giant big juicy tomato. "You called me your friend," she said in her most teeny tiny voice. Her big brown eyes started to fill with tears. "I don't have any..."

"Oh no," she interrupted herself, forgetting that Ulf could totally hear her. "I am not going to cry in front of a big boy, I am not going to cry in front of a big boy, I am not!"

SNIFF. Her nose was running. The wall of self-control was crumbling fast! "Ohhhh," she worried aloud.
Oh, no!! SHE WAS SELF-DESTRUCTING!! Ulf hurriedly stacked the box onto a convenient desk and knelt in front of Nao, worry and dismay writ large across his face. What the hell had he said? Faentalivetmine!

His hands reached out to tentatively pat her shoulders. "Hey, hey, what's this? What do you mean you have no friends? Don't cry!! I'll feel so bad if you cry..." What the hell else could he say to fix this?! "Kasuga-chan?"

He was going to be known as the school bully now, he just knew it!
Waterworks turning on! No! Nao reached into her blazer pocket for her handkerchief and didn't find it. She checked her other pocket and didn't find it there, either. Her skirt pocket? No. Her other skirt pocket, then! Not there!

Her snot dribbled down her upper lip and she tried to sniff it back up. Okay, so much for being ladylike after starting a new school. Her dreams of having become an adult and being respected fluttered out the window like little birdies. Seriously, she could see them go.

"I don't really know anyone here yet," she sniffled. "I juth..." she hiccuped and tried to explain around her dripping nose. "We just tharted school and it taketh time! You know?" Nao gasped and tried to take a deep breath. Her bottom lip was shaking and she couldn't make it stop. "Geez, and I cried not less than two months into it! I feel like thuch a BABY. I don't even know you. I'm so embar-ar-ar-" (deep breath!) "EMBARRASSED, Ulf-san."
Years of caring after younger siblings kicked in; Ulf dug through his pockets feverishly and produced a much-battered but clean 'kerchief to wipe at Nao's face. "Hey, now! Don't cry! It'll be okay! You'll make friends here, too. Sometimes it's just scary, right?"

Yeah, he could relate to that. And at least this was Nao's own country, with her own language. He tried a smile out for her. "Yo don't have to be embarrassed about being scared of new places. That's normal."

It really was kind of scary how like his sister Ronja Kasuga-chan was, in many respects, Ulf thought wryly. His tiny adorable sister tended to fade into the background, sandwiched between the boisterous twins and the younger kids. She was old enough to look after herself most of the time, but young enough to still need attention. Usually he was the one most able to give it to her. How was she doing? Did she miss him too much? Ulf hoped not. He'd have to remember to call her sometime soon. In the meantime, though...

"Anyway, I'll be your friend! Unless you don't want to be friends with a big scary foreign boy like me?"
Nao allowed Ulf to clean her face. His words struck home like a bell ringing in her chest. She had been so busy thinking about herself and her own fears that she hadn't really considered his feelings much. That was awfully mean! She bit her bottom lip and hung her head in humility. "I'm sorry," she apologized. "I wasn't trying to make you feel bad, I really wasn't. I just... I'm not used to people who are quite as... friendly as you are, I suppose."

"I could use a friend," she confessed, shy. "If you don't mind having me." Did he know what kind of stuff the kids in her class called her behind her back?

She accepted his hanky from his hands and blew her nose with a long squeaking sound. Then she realized she couldn't possibly give it back like that. "Oh. Oh! Oops... I'll wash this and give it back to you," she promised. "Tomorrow? Is tomorrow okay?"
He wrinkled his nose at her. "I don't have so many friends that I'd say no to one more, Kasuga-chan~" Which was certainly true enough, in the sense that one could never have too many friends. "And you seem pretty nice! We're getting along just fine already, I think. Don't you agree?"

It was really sad how the young girls here seemed to have such low self-esteem. Was it this way at home? Did it just show itself in different ways? Ulf had never really thought about it before, but now it was ticking through his head and he didn't like where it was leading him.

He really had to put a call through to Ronja. Tonight, if he could. Mental note.

"Tomorrow is just fine. You can come visit me any time you like!" Ulf got to his feet and ruffled her hair, smiling gently. "I live in the dorms here, so I'm almost always about."
"Yes, you seem nice too," Nao nodded, sealing the deal. True, he was indeed a boy and could probably explode with boyish habits or weirdness at any moment. There was something about him, though. He had been so kind to her. She was sure she didn't sense any outright badness in him.

She tried her best to calm herself, drawing her breaths back to normal pace. Then Nao lifted her eyes to Ulf's with a sincere smile. "All right, then, I will bring it to you tomorrow, after school."
There! That was much better. Ulf sighed in relief and scuffed a palm through his hair, built-up tension releasing with the motion. "Sounds good! Oh- hang on a moment!" He hurried over to the teacher's desk and found a piece of paper and a pen. A few quick movements (and a muttered curse as he began to write in Norwegian instead of Japanese) had Ulf's phone number and email written down. He passed the paper to Nao.

"Now you can really find me any time you need me!" He gave her a thumbs-up and a wink. "I better go and get to class before Kramer yells at me or something, but I'll see you tomorrow. Hade bra, Kasuga-chan~~ ♥"

Oh, shit, he really was kinda late now, but it was totally worth it. Ulf waved furiously and sped out of the room at top speed, narrowly avoiding crashing into a passing student with a cry of "Unnsky-- ah, sumimasen!!" in his wake. Being late was no skin off his nose when he'd made such a sweet friend. He smiled to himself, feeling warm and fuzzy in ways he'd never admit to to save his life. Slowly but surely he was building his own little family here. It was...nice. Really, really nice.