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Running a Tight Ship [tag Samuel, Sumire]

Eight o' clock sharp on Monday, and Vice Principal Ono Seiko did not look happy.

Well, okay, to be fair, she never really looked happy. But this morning she was a little grouchier than usual. It was 8:00 and many teachers were not in their desks yet, even though they were required to be at school by 8:15. Not just that, but there were messy desks in the teacher's room already and it was only the second week of school. Hadn't these morons read her memo about neatness expectations in the new term? She glared at the second-year math teacher's desk. It was simply covered with papers and files. Wasn't this teacher thinking of what kind of image this presented to anyone who came into the teacher's room?

Ono ground her teeth and marked a check minus next to the teacher's name on her inspection list. Now for the Social Studies teacher's desk. What a flake. The garbage hadn't been taken out since the day before. She frowned upon the plastic Doraemon clock on the desk. Inappropriate, she marked on her inspection sheet.

Which brought her to the desk of... ah. The vice principal narrowed her eyes at the very neat, very English figure of Samuel Kramer.

"Good morning, Mr. Kramer," she purred. Not Sensei. Never Sensei. He was foreign, and as such he could never fully understand the responsibilities and deep sense of duty the title inferred. She spoke slowly and clearly in simple Japanese to him, as if speaking to a child. "And how are we this morning." It was a pleasantry tossed out with a tone that suggested she didn't care if he answered or not.
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It was ironic, Samuel Kramer had to think to himself. The average student surely thought that he and Vice-Principal Ono had formed an unholy alliance, that between their rigid standards and their unquestioning morality that they would be an unstoppable force against the forces of freedom and fun.

Clearly, none of them had seen what happened between the two of them when no students were around.

"I wouldn't dare presume to tell you how you feel, Vice-Principal, but my day has been quite pleasant so far." Said in perfect Japanese with just a hint of an English accent; Kramer felt it almost a duty to challenge the idea that one's nationality could impact one's intelligence or grasp of languages. Naturally, his tone was also flawlessly polite; not friendly at all, just polite. As he carefully wrote down his lesson plans- in English- he offered a slight smile to the intimidating Battle Ax of the Academy. "Might I ask how you are feeling?"
Completely disregarding the fact that Kramer's Japanese was not only flawless, but complex and demonstrating that he fully understood how to use polite and humble speech, Ono plowed ahead. "I am fine, thank you," she pronounced, looking down her nose at Kramer as he wrote... something... out in some sort of secret code. She couldn't make out a single word, not even with all the money she'd spent on evening English classes during that fad ten years ago. Was he writing about her? Something he didn't want her to know?

"My, my Mr. Kramer. You've written quite a bit there," she remarked, as if he were performing some sort of droll pet trick. "Whatever are you writing?" she wanted to know, peering through her reading glasses at his notebook.
'Oh God, give me patience,' was the unspoken prayer that the English teacher recited. He had to be patient, he had to treat his superiors with the respect that they... didn't really deserve, but that they were owed. Rendering unto Caesar what belonged to her, and all that. Though it was hard for Kramer to bite back a sarcastic remark or two. "I'm glad to hear that. Everyone knows that the school relies upon your orderly presence."

But then she left herself wide open to a comeback of his own, and Kramer took it almost before he could think. He capped his pen and turned the paper over to the Battle-Ax, his smile having just a tiny bit of an edge as he politely stated, "I wouldn't dream of wasting your time by explaining it out loud. Why don't you take a moment to read it while I get some coffee? Would you like some, Vice-Principal?"
Ono smiled with a perverse glee at Samuel. "Oh, no, I never drink coffee," she announced. "Green tea is much better for you than that nasty stuff."

"So that's why your skin's a bit unhealthy looking," she remarked offhand, scrutinizing Samuel's face with a critical expression. "You should try getting more vitamins and antioxidants. It might do wonders for those lines around your eyes. How old are you, again, Mr. Kramer?" she asked with an airy tone, eyes innocently to the ceiling. One hand patted the chignon her steel-gray hair was sprayed into.
"Ah, is that so?" A noncommittal answer; it was entirely possible that it was, but Kramer didn't much care for green tea. It was a failure that he carefully kept hidden; he was pretty sure that it would leave him open for more looks of pity and disdain from his fellow teachers.

The teacher moved over to the coffee machine, pouring himself a nice hot cup and carefully adding in some cream before turning to Ono and walking towards her. Perhaps... a bit too close to her. He wasn't vain, not at all, but that comment still had to be defended against. He leaned forward, so that they were eye-to-eye, that slight smile never leaving his face. "Vice-principal, my age is unimportant. However, might I ask exactly what lines you are referring to?"

He wasn't vain, of course. He just refused to have his smooth face or clear complexion questioned.
Ono frowned and staggered back, flustered at his sudden nearness. Her sallow cheeks flushed a bit. "The lines under your eyes," she pointed out. Sure, they were the same lines anyone had naturally under the eyes, but why not.

She could make no sense of the jibberish written on the paper in her hands, so she changed the subject. "You didn't answer the question about your age. Funny, I don't remember seeing it on your resume, either." Ono tapped her pen against her lips and examined Samuel's desk. "In fact, I was not given a copy of your resume before you were hired. You do have one, I assume?" A lift of a penciled eyebrow. She was moving her pieces into play. She'd have him yet.
"Ah, of course... those lines." He did, however, have to smile as he smoothly turned away and went back to his desk, again taking up the paper and pen to resume his writing. And coffee. Mm, coffee. Why was it that so many people saw it as just a caffeine vehicle?

That question made Kramer blink and glance up at the vice-principal, and his pleasant smile hid his feelings on the matter. Why was she asking that now, of all times and places? "I'm afraid you would have to ask the Principal about that. As for my age... I feel it impolite to ask about such things. That would be why I didn't ask you yours, Vice-Principal. I am, after all, a gentleman."
Ono paused, caught like a fly in a spiderweb. Anyone who knew Ono Seiko knew that she considered herself above all else, a Lady born and bred from a refined and noble line and brought up shrewdly. She'd even gone to (as she loved to remind people any chance she got) Takamiya Private Ladies College. How much more of a ladylike credential could you get than that?

She set her jaw, her eyes gauging Samuel's. "You are correct. Do excuse me. I was simply wondering about your... qualifications. But no matter. If our Dear Principal," these words were spoken with a drop of poison in the tone, "has seen fit to hire you-- even without consulting me on the matter-- then I must abide by his decision." And Ono's eyes narrowed dangerously in a way that plainly said that she thought otherwise.

She pressed her lips together and frowned at the English teacher's desk. "At least, Mr. Kramer, I grant you this. You do manage to keep your things neat and orderly. I appreciate your valiant efforts to conform to our school system. You must have read my memo."
"I sincerely apologize about his oversight. I thought that, surely, he would inform you about such things." Kramer met her acidic gaze with his usual quiet smile, as unflappable and calm as ever. He knew, she knew, and everyone else in the room knew that she had been caught by the exchange, and that had bought Kramer his breathing room.

Which meant it was time for him to gracefully skate out of the dangerous line of conversation, and into something far more innocuous and befitting for their... not relationship, but their business understanding. "Thank you very much, Vice-Principal. The state of some of the desks is quite appalling, isn't it? Though," he said with a put-upon sigh of aggravation, "I'm afraid I never received a memo from you. I imagine a juvenile prank is to blame... might I receive another from you?"
"A juvenile prank?" Ono raised an eyebrow and her steely eyes cased the teacher's room. "Who?" she snapped. Then she raised her voice to be heard by the other teachers in the room. "Who would interfere with the distribution of my official memos? Tampering with memos is a federal offense!" Her gaze rested on... the desk of Ito Ren. And she squinted, angry. Unfortunately for Ono-sensei, her angry squint didn't make her look nearly as intimidating as she imagined it did. It was a bit closer to constipated old woman.

"You may have another memo, certainly, Mr. Kramer. I shall get that done for you this morning." Here she turned, and her eye landing on Murakami Sumire, snapped her fingers imperiously. "Murakami-san. You're not busy. Would you come over here for a moment?"
She thought that the memo-tampering was a federal offense? Oh Heaven save them all. Nevertheless, Kramer was glad that he no longer had to be the sole recipient of the Battle Ax's (and now he knew where the unflattering term came from) incisive attention. He only offered a half-hearted, "I shall look forward to it," then fell silent.

...and started savoring his coffee. Congratulations, Mr. Freshman Teacher, you survived your first major encounter with the Vice-Principal. Now he just had to get through a full day of dealing with the students, and the other faculty. And everyone else.

It was at times like this that Kramer seriously had to wonder if the sole reason he'd come to this Academy was truly worth all of the aggravation and daily petty disputes. But then he reminded himself of what his life before had been, and suddenly his smile wasn't quite so forced any longer.
If Sumire had anything to say about Ono's tone, it was kept under that veneer of perfect she'd been working on since tumbling out of bed so early this morning. But still, reaction was reaction and she couldn't help the minute downturn of her lips as she looked over her grandfather's current orders for "more Keropi bandages." Next week she would be sure he'd want Batz-Maru or some other randomized character bandage (last year, she'd been treated to the task of finding BROCCOLI characters - did he even realize how hard it was to go to Akibahara to find Petit Charat bandages? Those people were just plain weird, no matter how often Ren spouted praises to "Akiba.").

"Yes, Ono-sensei, is there something I can help you with," Be Polite Be Polite BE. PO.LI.TE. Sumire thought acidly to herself as she smiled gently at the Vice Principal - who desperately needed to pluck that hair under her chin.
"Murakami-san." (Not sensei. Never sensei.) "My, your makeup is certainly... bright today." Ono said it as though it were a compliment, but she blinked her eyes as though the amount of cosmetic on Sumire's face was making her eyes smart. "Spring is here, and girls will be more daring with their fashions, I suppose. Anyhow."

Ono cleared her throat here, and indicated Samuel with her clipboard. The she proceeded to speak about him as if he were not in the room. "It would seem that Mr. Kramer has fallen victim to someone who has seen fit to tamper with the distribution of my memos. Someone probably took them from his inbox thinking it would be funny because he's foreign and it would make him look like a stupid, uninformed foreigner if he didn't have a neat desk or the updated schedule of coffee duty and gate duty and such. You know, leave him out of the loop. We can't have that, hmm, he did get made a homeroom teacher-- god knows how--" here she cleared her throat and stroked her chin.

"So get your copies of the back-to-school memos I sent out starting with the March 18th proposed school calendar, please. Photocopy them all and get them to Mr. Kramer before lunch. No, before homeroom starts. The man will just look like a fool if he isn't on the same page as the rest of us." Ono looked down her nose and through her little glasses at Sumire. "Understood?"
...how was it possible for someone to give so many backhanded compliments that she surely could have won any tennis match? Vice-Principal Ono managed to insult Kramer, Nurse Nicebody Murakami, and every other teacher and student in the school all in one succinct diatribe. Really, as a language teacher, Samuel Kramer had to be impressed; especially as it was all said so naturally and without any signs of premeditation.

Still, being verbally smacked around never suited Kramer's disposition, and he had to grit his teeth to keep from saying something else. What he did do was rest his forehead in his delicate fingers, massaging lightly to ward off an impending headache. The only thing worse than dealing with one woman was dealing with two, though, so he didn't step in to protect one from the other. If he could just get through the rest of the day without-

-wait. Homeroom. Suguru. Samuel was praying that the day would be over quickly and it hadn't even begun yet. Surely, this was a trial and a cross to be born... right?
Sumire stiffened minutely. Ono would be a disrespectful ninny. "Why, of course, Ono-sensei. And naturally, the hard copies for those will be in Kramer-sensei's hand immediately after I visit Narimatsu-sensei for his back." When in doubt, remind the Most Evil Woman in the History of Japan just who signed her paychecks at the end of the day.

Sumire kept her smile prim and just this side of extra polite. Certainly Ono wouldn't dare pile more work on the lowly nurse. Except, she would, because the Vice-Principal was a superbitch.
Ono's mouth twisted in a way that expressed that she thought Sumire's "visit" to the principal was something else. "Oh, certainly. His... 'back.'" The vice principal took her pen up again and wrote a small comment on her clipboard. "Then get it done as soon as possible. Try not to keep Mr. Kramer here waiting too long while you chitchat."

"Now if you will excuse me," Ono frowned at Sumire's outfit, then nodded to Kramer with a smile that was trying to be simpering but ended up baring her yellowed teeth at him-- "Some of us have work to do, right Mr. Kramer?" She patted her hair and left Sumire and Samuel behind as she moved on to the desks of the teachers of the first-years. "Dear god, what is this mess...?"