Red Dragon

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Return of the King

Sunday went by without an issue. No one knocking on his door. Nobody bursting in demanding food or games or sex –though the latter two he wouldn’t have been too upset about. Instead, it was a simple, lazy, relaxing Sunday. As Saturday should be, as well.

That still lit a fire in his belly, one that made it hard for him to fall asleep that night. He would go to this school, but he refused to go Saturdays. Let Eve throw him in prison. He’s dealt with far worse out on the streets. Who cared about the “Black Halls”. They sounded racist, and what he saw of them shown they wouldn’t be able to hold him, anyways. Nothing a bit of dragon fire couldn’t handle. It was his American right, after years of oppression, exploitation, suffering, and death to have two days of rest, to recover and prepare for the next week. So many didn’t suffer for nothing, dammit, and even worse that gang-bangers and drug-dealers could while those wanting to further themselves in this Goddamn society couldn’t. “No rest for the wicked”? More like no rest for the slaves.

His fins wouldn’t rest that night. They kept prodding out, slicing at the blankets, the sheets, the pillows. He tossed and turned, bedding flying around, leaving him in a winter wonderland, shimmering with the ever-fleeing light outside his window. It went from orange, to yellow, to white, to yellow, and now was turning orange and red... Why bother trying now?

He groaned, and clambered out of bed, grumbling as he stomped into the bathroom. The water, turned to its hottest, felt like ice on his skin. Steam rose from his skin, thicker than the vapors around... but... he needed to look on the bright side. He could now gawk at all the hot girls there. He could hit and flirt and tease with the hot girls... He could scare them away with his history like he did yesterday.

“So stupid,” he exclaimed, slamming the wall... and chuckled as water sprung out of it. Right into his face “Of course I hit the pipe... It’s what I fucking deserve.”

He finished his shower, and then reached into the hole, crimping the pipe shut. It was a temporary fix, one that he (PRAYED) hoped the fairies would fix, then threw on his sweats and shirt from the day before. He looked at himself in the hall of mirrors a moment, glowering at those bags under his eyes, at how short his hair was... all things that could be fixed with enough time. Something that was both fleeting yet languishing for him.

How could only a week have passed so far? How many things have happened? How many people had he already dealt with, situations most unexpected? This was more action than in the past three years, and it was in a matter of days –hours at that! Would this be his life now, just... constant misadventures, chaos galore? Or, would it become mundane, drab; would he really become accustomed.

Those questions, and so... so many more, would simply have to wait. There was a knock on his door, and he doubted it would be the lovely centaur or (once) admiring piggy. He could only beg it was the manticore, but no. It was everyone’s favorite bitch of the morning... and her getup this time did not match her complexion?

“A deep red jacket,” he mumbled, looking her over, “with a button-up pink dress, into buckled boots... Who are you supposed to be?”

“You forgot the pink bow,” she said, her tone almost insulted by the fact he ignored that abomination on the back of her head. “And who am I? I’m but a simple flower girl.”

“‘Flower girl’, huh. How much for a ‘bouquet’?”

“I’m... I’m not following.”

“What’s the average on a tulip special? A lily? What about a black dahlia? Do extra cost more by the stem or the cut?”

“You are talking well above me-”

“Then you need to go back to your ‘gardener’ and tell him to give you the average. Otherwise, you’re going to end up more wilted than the flowers you are selling.”

“A... are you calling me a whore?”

“Man, your ‘gardener’ must be tanking if you only got that.”

She scoffed. The tip of her staff ignited, but only for a moment, leaving the air stained with its scent.

“You ready to go? Lilith wants you to stop in her office this morning.”

“I haven’t even had breakfast yet. There’s a pizza calling my name-”

“Pizza for breakfast?”

“If it was on a bagel, I could have it anytime, but I’m flat-ass broke and only have the pity of the fairies to thank for the small amount of pizza I do have!”

“Fairies?”

“Don’t tell me you don’t know, either! Is this meant to be a trade secret or something?”

“Seriously. What are you going on about- you know what? I don’t care. I’ll buy you breakfast from the fast food place in town.”

“You sure? Because it won’t-”

“I’m telling you, it’ll be perfectly fine. Now go get your ass in my c- what the fuck are you doing!”

Francis didn’t need to be told twice. In fact, he was out the door before she even finished saying it would be fine. He slammed the freezer shut, skirted through the kitchen, passed her, and jumped off the third-story. Again. He was no umbrella, but he didn’t have his boots on this day. No socks, either, so his toes, those rugged claws, bit into the concrete harder than the dagger did. And crashed through. The entire walkway between the hobby shop to the yogurt store shattered, all stemming from his feet, buried eight inches into the stone.

He winced as he pulled free, shaking the few specks of blood that rose out, and looked up at the faces of his adoring crowd. Including a fresh-faced Ezra. He waved at her- and she returned it by ducking out of sight. Could have been a worse reaction; could have been like Plank, cursing and yelling in a language he never heard before while she charged down the steps to meet him. Her staff looked like the Olympic Torch, as if looking for the next bearer to pass the flame... and, if Francis wasn’t careful, it would be his head.

“What was that little stunt, huh?” She squawked, jabbing a finger into his chest. “What are you trying to do?”

“To get to the golden arches, of course. You don’t have a limit, do you? I’m a big guy.”

“I draw the line at twenty-”

“Items? That’s generous.”

“Dollars! For both of us.”

“Well that’s not right. What are you going to eat?”

“J...just... in the car... Go. Go!”

He simply shrugged, and followed her to a beat-up compact that had more shades of rust than an actual color. How she managed to have a car that both looked brand new and from the 40′s, Francis would never know. It only got worse as she tried the key in the ignition. It would crank... splutter... cough... then nothing. She pulled the key out, tried again, and didn’t even get a cough that time. Blue flames left from her finger tips, singeing and crackling on the insert- but that only made things worse. Lights flashed on, the wipers started themselves, the radio sang the songs of the damned.

Francis, though enjoyed the show, was hungry. He reached over, took the key from her, and gave it the softest, gentlest turns... and it fired right up. She didn’t say a word to him- which was for the best; the moment she put her hands on the wheel the car stalled out and died. Again... He worked his magic, far better than she could apparently, and the car revived- and she made it as far as putting it in reverse before it failed her once more.

“Fucks sake!” She shrieked, slapping the wheel- and the horn malfunctioned, screeching at everyone before her. Including Ezra.

“Does this sort of thing usually happen t-” He began.

“Shut. Your fucking face... It’s because you’re here it’s doing it.”

“It turns fine for m-”

“Shut it! What I mean is... wizards and technology don’t get along well. It’s much more in-tune with our feelings.”

“Aww... Are you saying this is all because you love me?”

She looked up from the dash, slowly, sinfully, and her neck was even slower in its glide. He watched her expression go from sheer annoyance... to pure, unadulterated, unfettered loathing. She looked at him for what felt an eternity, all the while still trying to turn the key in the ignition- including slapping his hand away when he tried... but, slowly, her head glided back to look at the console. She grumbled at it, begged it, demanded it to start.

And it did.

She sighed, an almost... erotic sound, and backed out of the parking lot, joining the line of traffic. Most turned off into Vereor Nox’s parking lot, but others she followed further, around the bend in town to a familiar set of golden arches. The line was packed outside it, even with four lines of traffic. They made it to the order screen- but needed to pull around and explain in-person. Technology really did not like Plank at the moment. They got their “meals”, if Francis could even call that morsel such, then plowed their way to the academy, where the car died on the very outskirt of its lot, the final row.

Francis looked back over the seats... and crooked his brow.

“You know,” he said, muffled by a mouthful of hash brown, “it would have probably just been faster for us to walk. Cheaper on gas.”

“You’re not paying, so what does it matter?” She grumbled, gnashing into her bagel. It took her some time to get to it, though, preparing a complete blanket of napkins before her outfit, from around her neck down to her feet.

“You have a point there. But I have to ask: Are you being reimbursed for this or is it all coming out of your pocket?”

“Wha?”

“Ah. So you never bothered to ask. That was my first guess, but... hope in one hand, shit in the other.”

“Can’t you eat quietly? Let us have five minutes of fucking peace.”

He shrugged again, and polished off his hash brown before diving into the literal meat of the course. He might not have been able to get everything he wanted, but a twenty still went a long way. There were twelve sandwiches before him, most of them buy-one-get-one, the hash brown he wolfed down, and a cup of coffee. Which he should have just went with an orange juice.

“This coffee tastes like dirt,” he grumbled, gulping down the sickening brew.

“Are you surprised? It was ground this morning.”

“Like Hell it was. These places get it in bags and in bulk.”

“No. You see-”

“I got the joke. Doesn’t change the fact it tastes like shit. Did they include any creamer, or did they hope to cover it with how cold it is.”

“Yours was cold? Let me s- Oh, you lying thack of thit!”

She shoved it back into his hands, splashing some of it on his shirt where it steamed and hissed against the red fabric, but Francis once again simply shrugged and drank the cold coffee –cold to him, at least. He endured it, though his stomach grumbled. It was more thankful for the meal he sent down, the bacon, the sausage, the Canadian bacon, and oh, so much egg. He cut most of the bread out, though, stacking the meat and egg on two or three of the sandwiches. Too many carbs that early in the morning.

But, even then, he was done with his meal far faster than his chauffeur. She was still nibbling on her third sandwich by the time he climbed out of the vehicle and went up the steps to the Academy. Plank started to voice her disapproval, but was silenced as he pointed to his cup, instead raising her middle finger and seeing him off. He knew they would come to an understanding. Besides, he didn’t need her to show the way to Lilith’s office. He’s been there plenty already.

Most of the other students already arrived, but it didn’t stop the stragglers from watching after him again. No harpy shat on his shoulder this morning, which meant it was already starting to look far better than his first day- but then the fangs decided to make their presence known. At least it was only Tiny, sporting a bright, pink tank top and even brighter white leggings. The only dark parts about her were the black jacket she threw over top, her black bra that peeked out in the front, and the glare he gave him. She stood before him, blocking the double doors in her intimidating five-foot three glory.

“Hey there, Double-Dee,” he said. “You looking fine as always. How’s your faggot brother?”

“Still out,” she stated. “The prosthetic teeth are taking longer than expected to settle in.”

“Yeah... maybe he shouldn’t have brandished them so willingly. I warned him what would happen... Maybe next time he’ll just target me, too.”

“If I have any say, there won’t be a ‘next time’... but only if you promise me one thing.”

“You really think you can trust my word?”

“I hope there is a man of honor in there, yes.”

“Then you don’t know me very well-”

“I think I do, actually... All the shit we pulled that day, the attacks and tricks... yet you only acted when someone else was in danger. Hell, I even cut off your hair-”

“You were the one to do that! You have any idea how long that took me to grow? That’s going to be, like, four more years to get it to that.”

“Exactly. Yet you only acted when-”

She cried out. The people around gasped, staring at the two, watching Francis hold Tiny by the neck up against the opened door. His fins were fanned out, fire frothing at his jowls... gone as he took a sip from his coffee.

“You’re lucky you’re cute. Otherwise I would have popped your head off,” he said, and let her go, left her to fall to the ground. He took another sip from his coffee- then tossed it on her. “Next time you want to talk, make sure you’re not alone. You have no leverage without the rest of your posse.”

“I came to you,” she began, her voice still so hoarse, lost to fits of coughing and hissing as that brown tonic stained her pink tank and white leggings. “I... ca... good faith.”

“Well, if you lived a life like mine, ‘good faith’ is seldom to come by... Just spit out what you want me to promise. Maybe I’ll humor you, or maybe it’ll make the sex later that much more invigorating.”

She was wheezing as she clawed back up the door. The cup, once resting on her calves, clattered off, then rolled down the steps, bounding off of the gawkers still standing there, like statues. Her legs shook so much, worse than her arms... but her gaze was resolute, staring into his eyes.

“Don’t kill anyone.” She stated.

Francis... couldn’t help but laugh. How he laughed, guffawing, barking in her face, feeling his stomach turn more from the sudden assault.

“You can’t be serious?” He muttered, still laughing and wiping the tears from his eyes. “You made that sound so mundane, as if you suspect I killed before.”

“Have you?”

“Yes! Dozens! But I haven’t killed anyone in the last- well, did anyone die last Monday.”

“No. Just in critical condition. Even now.”

“Damn, I did GOOD then. Leaving a fang critical a week after-”

“I’m serious! I don’t want you to kill anyone here. I don’t want you to bully, torment, rape, or harm anyone else... I know Tyson and the rest of the family jumped you, so I don’t blame you for them. And, seeing the amount you would take, I don’t blame you at all... I just need you to promise me, promise that you won’t go out of your way to hurt anybody else.”

“Like that’s even a promise-”

“You d-”

“Of course I agree, but think princess: who else have I hurt?”

“I know. That’s why-”

“I live by a simple rule: don’t FUCK with me... and I won’t FUCK with you. Of course, you do realize because of your family this means ALL fangs are open game, don’t you? Because of your family, all fangs are accountable, and I will make their lives worse than Hell... So yes. I agree to your ‘promise’, even though that’s exactly what I was doing anyways... By the way, I’m surprised you weren’t suspended.”

“They planned to, but saw I wasn’t involved.”

“Good. I actually like you. It’s just a shame your brother is a faggot and his cocksuckers are all brainless twats.”

He huffed, and continued into the entry. It seemed his movement finally shook the moss of those statues, allowing them to continue on their meaningless existence as facsimiles of man. But he had no time to waste on fakes. He was needed in Lilith’s office, possibly to receive his next sentencing after that scene –hopefully. Please? Pretty please? He could use more days off. He actually became a bit giddy as he closed in on the office, and already heard bickering inside.

“I’m telling you, I’m not ready for this,” Francis heard a man say. “Last week was more than enough proof of that.”

“You’re doing fine, love,” Lilith said. “Your students are acclimating well, and are going at your pace. They’re all freshman this year, so you have two years to work with them.”

“You mean screw them up... I signed up as a science teacher. I know almost nothing as a-”

“Think of the students, love. What these males would be subjected to if forced to mingle. This is our largest batch so far; they would be eaten alive. Surely you remember what happened when you arrived.”

“I do. That’s why I’m not against it... but I don’t know if I’m the best for the job. Especially for the returned today; I’ve seen his dossier, and he has incredible potential. His transcripts from his years in primary education shown astounding mental growth and fortitude. By fourth grade, he was already doing seventh grade algebra! He didn’t even know the difference when the teacher gave out the homework packets- or even when he administered tests. He thought he was getting the same thing as everyone else... The only place he lacked was physical education, but that was before his Change. Look at him now!”

“He has Changed. Though, now he excels in physicality, his temper might have weakened his mind.”

“Such is the fate of most with the Dragon Blood. Compound that with good old testosterone- it’s a wonder he hasn’t been hunted down before.”

“It’s because of his wit that he managed.”

“Meaning he still has hope. He still has quite the brain behind that wall of meat- which is that enough ego stroking or do we need to go further before you open the door. I heard you clomping down the hallway, and you breathe like a chain-smoking freight train.”

“That’s the best way to put it, yeah,” Francis said, and sighed as he pushed open the door, looking upon his teacher for the next two years... You know, for being Lilith’s lover, Francis expected him to be... taller. In fact, he was about an inch shorter than her –even without the heels. He, also, wasn’t what Francis would even consider a hunk. He was almost scrawny, with “lithe” muscle just showing on his exposed arms. He wore a dark blue shirt and bright white pants, which there wasn’t even that impressive of a dent in those. But it was those eyes, those sparkling, hazel eyes with a dot of red in them that truly stole the show. Just looking into that rugged face, that strong nose with stronger jaw, complimented by his short hair, and into those wise, piercing eyes... Francis felt... a familiar presence.

“It’s nice to finally meet you,” the guy said, and offered his hand. Even his voice wasn’t that imposing, almost soft, girly, unimposing. “I’m Johnny Brimst. I’ll be your professor for the next two years for... everything, really.”

“Everything?” Francis said- and found himself shaking the hand without even thinking.

“Yup. Everything. Math, Science, Language; I will be messing your brain up the best I can to understand every ounce of it.”

“Love,” Lilith muttered, pinching her brow... but she was still smiling. She cleared her throat, and Francis removed his hand, sneering at her as she pulled all attention again. “As Professor Brimst states, he shall be teaching you all you need in the safety of his classroom-”

“Because girls are just dying to claw at me, right?” Francis cut him, scoffing. “If you haven’t noticed, I’m sort of a pariah –and, in case you peeked into my head already, I scared off the two that seemed to want to be my friends.”

“You would be surprised, Frank-” Johnny interjected, cut off as Francis growled.

“Don’t EVER call me that! You need to call me anything, you either use my real name or Junior.”

“Right. That was my bad. Sorry, Francis... Anyways, you would be surprised. I was when I arrived and saw how many women were throwing themselves at me all because I became a medium fish in a small pond. You are very much a shark in a kiddie pool here. Don’t ever doubt that you have your pick.”

“Yes, well, if they don’t have the balls to approach me then they aren’t worth my time. AND, speaking of time, let’s discuss this bullshit schedule I heard-”

“That we are experimenting with your all-male class,” Lilith cut in. “Your class, under my love’s guidance, shall be changed from the six-day, ten-hour structure to the five-day, twelve-hour structure.”

“We attempted a similar set-up last year,” Johnny said. “The, uh, problem was we didn’t account for the ten hours lost.”

“Students’ grades suffered. Communication suffered. People -teachers especially- would ‘check out’ come Friday, knowing that they had two days off.”

“To be fair, that was more the w-”

“Regardless. All students suffered... So we are trying a new system.”

“The fact that the old system already had well over fifty hours a week pisses me off,” Francis exclaimed. “How could you look me in the eye and say that was fair for any of them. You aren’t preparing them for the real world, for actual happiness, but to be crammed into the slurry and cycle of slavery the big corporations continue to push towards. And EVEN THEN this new schedule? It’s sixty hours a fucking week!”

“It’s not as much as you think,” Johnny said. “In fact, it’s far less than before. Essentially, it’s two-and-a-half hours each of all the subjects, with an hour lunch in between the second and last, then a thirty minute break before one hour of study hall and tutoring then the rest of the day for extracurricular. And that is only for people without a job. If you can prove you aren’t lacking in any of your studies, then that last stretch could be completely free.”

“In truth, we expect this to cut down on student’s work load and stress,” Lilith finished, mocking him with her smile. “And all in the safety of my love’s classroom. You won’t have to worry about any leers, being stalked, hearing whispers; it’ll be like... a family in that room. A family for two years... if not longer.”

“It’ll all be one big experiment. For all of us... What do you say, Francis? Think you can put up with me for that long?”

He scoffed... but smirked at Johnny. “It’s not a matter of dealing with you but if you can put up with me. I’ve already shown to be quite the hell-raiser.”

“Trust me. You haven’t seen anything.”

Francis wanted to say that the statement was condescending, but... coming from Johnny, it carried such... sincerity. Such pain, and wisdom. He didn’t know why, but he felt he could trust Johnny... For now. Anyone tied to Lilith couldn’t be good news, but he did a good enough job stroking his ego to give him some leniency. But the fun was over; school’s back in session.

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