Francis had a terrible epiphany. He knew what it meant, even groaned about it, but only then, when he was sitting in class, listening to Johnny drone on, did it truly sink in: He was back in school. He didn’t mean to groan as loud as he did when it hit him, nor did he mean to scare the furry in the back row, but it all slammed into him at that exact moment. The... the despair, the dread, the unbelievable, soul-crushing boredom.
He hit his head on the table, chipping it away- then another chunk as he slammed it again, chuckling.
“Oh, man,” he mumbled, in time with the third hit, and that one managed to crack off the burner. “Why? Why, God, Why? What did I do to deserve this –and, no, killing all those people doesn’t even come close to being equal to this torture.”
“Junior,” Johnny said, pointing his marker at the melancholic drachen. “I know this is your first day back, but I must ask you to hold off your bellyaching and moaning until either lunch or study hall.”
“But that’s still over four hours away.”
Four hours until lunch. And the fast food already wore off... If his new-ex friends didn’t tell him he could go home during, he would have been livid, and if it weren’t for the fairies pissed. Thanks to Plank, of all people, he was only a trifle annoyed he needed to wait so long, but at least he knew he had two pizzas waiting for him to devour –but what about tomorrow? Or the day after that? There’s no way he could ration his pizzas enough- and what about his clothes? He couldn’t wear this set every single day! Well, he could, but the fairies wouldn’t let him.
When was he going to get his housekeeper? They could handle his meals. They could prepare them, freeze single-servings; if they did, that would allow her the privilege to sleep in the water closet. If they arrived with his clothes bag, they would even get the joy of sharing his bed. At this point, he would give the the most gentle pounding of a lifetime he could.
Somehow, the first two classes rolled in through, though. It seemed as though he only started to bicker and gripe and they were gone. Not that he was paying any attention; it was only a review. No one actually pays any attention during them, especially those that need it most. It was Carl the Pinhead’s sudden shift that told him they were done. The fanger was diligent; he had a five-subject notebook for each subject, and the two Francis saw out were almost filled. Not with actual notes, but more edgy art. Good, edgy art, but still edgy art.
“So I take it you did those tattoos yourself?” Francis uttered, closing his notebook –a gift from Johnny. The pencil, he told him, was a loaner, but anyone whose been to a school knows what that actually means.
“Hmm?” Carl said. “Oh. These old things? No. There’s a guy in Motown that does great work. Only one I allow touch my skin... I did make and hand him the art, though.”
“Motown? Where the fuck is that?”
“Morgantown. Take it this is your first time in West Virginia?”
“Hopefully last, too. I can feel my brain turn to mush while here.”
“That’s not very nice,” Johnny said, waggling his marker his way. Again. “This is a beautiful state.”
“As long as you ignore the people and rotting buildings. Really is a question which one has more rot at that point.” He yawned, and growled as he stretched his arms. “Anyways, fuck all of you until after lunch. There’s a pizza with my name on it. It’s had my name since this fucking morning.”
He stood, slid his chair in... and finally realized there was a dark presence behind him. He slowly turned his head, and saw those burning purples staring down at him.
“... Yes? Can I help you?” He said... Mordred didn’t speak, though, and Francis wasn’t exactly too keen with having men that close behind him. The poor fabric of his shirt split so easily on his fins, flared out as he spun. “Well? Got something to say, edgelord!”
“You talking to him or me?” Carl said.
“Not right now, pinhead!”
“Why all the yelling?” Lucas grumbled, wiping his eyes as he freed his tail from his embrace again.
“Look at that. Sleeping fruity finally stirred.”
“Huh? Oh... I’m gonna head home, brew an entire pot of espresso, and eat a bag of white chocolate-covered coffee beans.”
“If I may offer a suggestion,” Johnny interjected. “Lucas, you would probably have a better time of staying awake if you drank a bottle of water, instead.”
“Water? Yeah. That could possibly work.” He yawned again, stretching- and yipped as his back popped. Loud. He stood, growling softly, and lumbered out of the room. Ben finally stood and followed after, though watching him “walk” was a marvel in its own right. The obese centaur didn’t really have a gait or a stride. Instead, he seemed to lurch along the ground, his rolls undulating, stretching only to squeeze back together. As they did, Francis could hear the Polka music... and the tuba, fading away as he huffed and wheezed his way down the hall.
“Olen?” Johnny said, pulling Francis’ attention back to his current situation. “Would you like to be taken to the cafeteria?”
The bucket Olen resided rattled, and he slowly rose out of it again.
“I think I will stay here today,” he said. “Though I wouldn’t mind joining the guys for lunch-”
“Whoa, wait! What?” Francis exclaimed. “What do you mean ‘the guys’?”
“You, Mordred, and Carl-”
“Making a lot of assumptions there,” Carl interjected.
“No kidding!” Francis said. “You really think I want to spend anymore time with this fanger than I need to? If it was Captain Kidd, it might have been different-”
“Huh?” The lizan blurted, looking up from his notes. “Someone say my name?”
“Talking about you not to you. Then there’s the idea that you think I want to spend time with misery incarnate.”
“Understandable,” Carl said.
“NOT... TALKING about YOU! Fuck it. I’m heading out. Every second I waste arguing with you morons is another minute I’m away from that pizza.”
“You’re right,” Olen said. “Mordred, if you would pick me up-”
“No one is joining me!”
Francis stormed off. He was kind enough not to slam the door in his wake, but he could not say the same for the lockers he passed. The fin on his arm ripped through them, sparking and shrieking the entire way –which, by the way, he passed Ben. He didn’t even make it to the end of the hall yet and had to stop to catch his breath.
“Oh,” the centaur panted out, giving Francis a tired smile. “Hey, man. You know how to boogie, don’t y-”
“Yeah, whatever,” Francis grumbled, passing him by. As he passed so many others. His fins retracted by that point, sadly; he would have loved to hear their screams. If only his presence wore off already, but no. They still turned and gawked after him, even as he made his way down the stairs and to the door. He practically flew down the steps outside, bounding off those that dared to stop on them, almost knocking them over as he descended to the parking lot. His goal was but a dash down the road after, not accounting for traffic. If he did... well, it’d be a lot quicker coming back. The drivers, though? Not so much.
Once again, sadly, that wasn’t an issue... Oh. There was traffic. He did go through cars, but they slammed on the brakes, coming to a skidding halt before they ever hit him. As did the ones behind them. He made it to the dorms, and looked back, seeing he had backed it up thirty cars. Both sides. He would have to do better next time, but his stomach demanded his attention, so he skipped up the steps to his room, broke through the door, and sauntered into the kitchen, grabbing one of last pizzas out of the freezer.
He lumbered back out onto the walkway, smirking as he unwrapped his treat, watching the traffic slowly dissipate. He could still feel their eyes though, even as he broke away, billowing fire onto that cheap “Italian” cuisine. It only took half a breath, and it was bubbling and hissing, with just a bit of char to the crust. If he had a bit of fresh parsley he would have scattered that on top, but beggars couldn’t he choosers. He rolled it up, tilted his head back, ready to consume the poor thing-
When he felt a staff slap the back of his head.
“Ow! What the fuck!” He bellowed, and rubbed his head as he wheeled to face- another strike from the staff. Stars flashed over his eyes that time, his nose ringing, billowing flames as he growled. “What gives! Why?”
“What do you think you’re doing?” Penny boomed back, slamming the tip of her staff into his gut. He doubled over on it... holding tight. He straightened, and the little wizard yipped, pulled off her feet as he did. She dangled like a worm on the end of a hook, sliding down as he hooked that bit of wood under his arm, reeling her in. She was barely a breath away, a single lunge, a bite, and he could see the fear in her eyes... sparking as he bit into his pizza.
“I think that should be my question,” he mumbled through it, waggling that sizzling, bubbling blob at her. “What made you think this was a good idea!
He bit into the pizza again, then again, polishing it off... before dropping her. She grunted, glaring up at him as he lapped his fingers clean, savoring it as much and as long as he could. One would think he would have been sick of pizza; it was a common day food at the cribs. Cheap, plentiful, no one really bitched... yet always so varied. She didn’t seem to understand, though. She didn’t seem to grasp that; she stood, blue fire crackling on her staff this time, the runes burning brighter than ever before.
“You have some nerve,” she said. “You dare raise your hand to a wizard?”
“I had a pizza in it. Besides, you started it-”
“Because I have my orders! As do you. You aren’t allowed off the campus without my guidance, as you are not allowed to leave the dorms without me.”
“... Since when!”
“Since you moved in.”
“I don’t remember that in my contracts! I should know; I spent all day and night fucking reading them- and forgot to turn them in... I’m just... the most organized person. It’s a good thing I came back, then-”
“Yeah. Because I don’t need a fucking babysitter.”
“Eve thinks otherwise.” She pulled out her phone, stored in an interior pocket of her jacket, and hummed as she clicked it open. She finagled with it a moment, then handed it to Francis. “See?”
You are to accompany him to and from VNA. He is not allowed off campus without your supervision, nor is he allowed to leave the dorms without your guidance –if I am not available for either task. Failure to do so will be met with disciplinary measures, if not termination of your contract.
Francis... huffed. Then laughed, smiled as he handed it back.
“Oh man. She loves putting you all through this,” he said, rubbing his belly. “Gonna tell you now: she’s fucking with you.”
“This is nothing new for her... Let me put it this way: see that wording, ‘if she is not available’? She monitors the situation every hour. She literally has an alarm set to check on me. She thought she was being slick with it, but I learned a long time ago to feel when somebody was watching. In other words, she is always available to supervise.”
“But how does she-”
“Every single building in this area has a camera. There isn’t a single blind spot outside... or inside this city. Majority don’t have microphones, though, so we could literally call her the worst things. Unless, you know, she taps into your phone.”
“But I didn’t know any of that!”
“Yeah. It’s what makes it fun.”
“For you! For her! D...do you both get off on ruining other people’s lives?”
He cocked his head, and his brow.
“Now that’s mean. I haven’t done anything to you. In fact, I thought I have been rather kind considering how many times you threatened me.”
“Y...you’re right. You haven’t done anything... It’s all Eve... Damnmit, Lil, why did you fuck up so bad last year? Things were so much... simpler when we didn’t have an actual babysitter. But then Lilith dropped the ball so fucking hard –how much do you know about that?”
“Enough. It has ate at Eve almost half a year now. She barely even sleeps.”
“Huh... guess I have to give her some credit. Even with dealing with that shitstorm, she still seems to have it all together... Anyways, from now on, I don’t think you should leave without me. Even if she is fucking with me, it’ll give me some peace of mind.”
“Fine... As long as it doesn’t interfere with my-”
“That includes evenings, too.”
“What? But I am done far earlier than you!”
“Just piss around in the school. Go stalk someone, make a friend.”
“Have you met my class? The last thing I want to do is ‘make a friend’. I’m sure if I tried with one, they would die of a heart attack; the thought of actually having one would put them into shock. It’s taking everything I can to not completely throttle another one. Who thought it was a good idea to put me in a class with a fanger!”
“You know him?”
“Yeah. Sad guy-”
“That’s putting it mildly. Even Eeyore is telling him to pop a Zoloft or a thousand. That’s the only reason he’s still alive is because, no matter what I might say, he outdoes me. You have ANY idea how... INFURIATING that is? Then there’s the blueberry-raspberry swirl that sits by me-”
“You actually tasted him?”
“Oh, fuck you! Like you never wanted to taste a slime before.”
“I have, but I’m a woman, so it wouldn’t make me gay-”
“Even if it was a female slime?”
“That would be considered cute and quirky.”
“Fuck off with your double standards.”
“Hey, I’m just saying-”
“The only one I would want to really be friends with is Captain Kidd.”
“Really? The coolest, new male in the school?”
“Not ringing a bell- oh! Do you mean the lizan?”
“No shit! But we seem to have a basic understanding: He stays to himself, I stay to myself. Best relationship so far... Then there’s the fucking furry-”
“Lucas?” She squealed, jumping in place and holding herself. “He’s so adorable! I just want to hug him and squeeze him- did you see those ears- and that fluffy tail- wait. What did you call him?”
“A fucking. Furry.”
“Them’s fighting words. He’s too cute.”
“And a complete waste. He spent all day asleep.”
“It takes a lot of energy to be that cute.”
“That explains a lot about you... Then there’s Mordred... I can’t get a read on that guy. For instance, he stood behind me and was just... there. Aside this morning, they were quiet otherwise... And the way their eyes look at me, I’m not sure if he wants to fuck me, kill me, or both. At the same time... Then there’s my two friends I made and lost before I even started school, the fangers- so tell me where I should make friends, huh?”
“Well, there’s always extracurriculars-”
“Fuck that! I’m not staying at school any longer than I need to-”
“But you’re stuck there anyways until I’m done.”
“Why do you need to keep reminding me of that... We stood here and argued the entire hour away. Let’s get back.”
He huffed, his fins aching, wanting to spread, matching his throbbing temple. The rest of the actual, teaching day went by sinfully smooth... The last four hours? Torture. The rest of his class was gone, thankfully, but he needed a lot of catch-up with Johnny. Which he didn’t hate too much... It still wasn’t what he wanted to do, but it could have been worse-
It was worse. Lilith joined in.
He didn’t bother hiding his fins when she sauntered into the class, nor hold back the flames from his maw. His brain was gone, refusing to learn anymore, but it didn’t matter anyways. Once she came in, any lesson, any more lecture was gone to their lovey-dovey prattling and saccharin flirting. He doubted Johnny even noticed him leave, taking both his notebook and Johnny’s study guide along with him. His fin shrieked along the lockers again, this time on the other side of the hallway. He needed to have it match, but there was no one in the building anymore to watch him. Most had gone home, others across the grounds in the new building, wasting time on such trivial things like art or music or kendo. Others were even out on the grounds, themselves, either wasting precious oxygen talking amongst themselves or playing ball... Which he took only the smallest amount of pleasure of shooting the first orb out of the sky. The rubber it was made of hissed and bubbled on the grass, but he was proud of himself: that was one helluva shot from the third-story window.
As expected, though, nobody wanted to mess or play with him regardless. No one approached, tried to strike up conversation, and anybody he did approach either froze like a deer caught in headlights or quickly changed direction. Again, it was steps above a harpy defecating on his shoulder... but no less soul-crushing. He thought he made it clear; he didn’t give shit unless he got it. But no. But no... Plank finally made herself known, and the two called it a day. Tuesday pretty much played out the same, as did Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. It was school; it was the same, mindless, thoughtless schedule and habit.
Maybe I should have just gone to prison, he thought, watching the clock tick away on the wall. He returned from lunch- that was a lie; he never left for lunch. He managed to ration the last pizza for two days, but then only ate what Plank took him to every morning. How she stayed skinny was a wonder; how could anyone stomach that much fast food? Then again, it was how he was surviving then; his stomach was so upset with him for forcing him through that Hell that it didn’t even think of food.
That didn’t stop his shadow from looming over him. Every. Single. Freakin’. Day! Maybe, perhaps if they actually spoke, he could tell them to fuck off proper, but no. They would approach, simply stand there, wait and see if he would react... then walk off. And, speaking of reactions, he hadn’t seen neither Dixie nor Ezra since that first day, so they were most likely actively avoiding him. How lovely.
Johnny sat by him, going over the lecture. For the fourth time. Francis heard him proper the first, but was finding it hard to give a single care. He already knew all this, yet Johnny insisted that he didn’t.
“You might understand it, but you aren’t absorbing it,” he would say, only to launch into it again. Who cared? Why waste his time when they could be tackling the next subject. He could use a laugh; he already looked it over during class earlier in the week. And Johnny knew. But he kept. Prattling. On!
And there’s Lilith. On cue.
With that, Francis excused himself and headed for the front of the academy. No one stood out there, and it’s been clear the last few nights, allowing him a proper view of the heavens. He had to admit; the sky was far more beautiful here than in Pennsylvania, even in his old lair. Maybe it was the mountains, themselves, the way those dark tops cradled him under that sea of stars, but he found it so easy, so compelling, to simply get lost in their majesty. It wouldn’t be for long, though, as the sun threatened over those dark teeth, but, for the moment, it was only him and that darkness.
That was until Plank made herself known.
“You’re earlier than expected. Not that I’m complaining. The sooner we get out of here the b-” He began, lowering his head out of those heavens and to his interloper. Who wasn’t Penny. Instead, it was a harpy he didn’t have the displeasure to meet until then. She was on the shorter side, even for a harpy, but a high-born. She wore a pair of bright, turquoise sandals to show off that she had regular feet; they were even given a soft coating of white on each toe, as if they were sculpted out of pearl and marble. Her legs were hidden in a pair of dark blue jeans, but he could tell she had quite a bit of curve to her as his eyes continued up. Her thighs looked so inviting, so squeezable, as did her rump, complimented by her soft tummy peeking out of her bright pink t-shirt. At last, she had a nice pair of lovelies before him, rivaling Tiny’s and barely kept at by by a white bra. Even then, her bright, red tips poked free, clashing with her white down, giving way to soft blue feathers on her arms. She had a very soft face, rounded just like the rest of her, with sharp, green eyes, wide, wondering.
“H-hi,” she managed to stammer out.
“Hi.” He returned, flat, and watched as the fear, the uncertainty and anxiety grow in those green wells. “How may I help you?”
Francis rolled his eyes, tapping his foot as she continued to splutter and trip over the same damn word over and over and over! Her legs squirmed more, her small tail flicking against her back, scraping against the fabric more. Which only reminded him of his own situation. The fairies have been very kind to him; every night he peels off his clothes, they had them cleaned by the morning... so long as he didn’t pleasure himself. They drove a hard bargain with that one, but that only meant they wished death upon the next person he sought.
And, what do you know, he was finally in the mood for chicken.
He growled, and the harpy shrieked as he grabbed her, with both hands, right on her plush rump. It was too inviting to pass up, after all.
“H-help! Help!” She screeched, again and again, flapping and fighting... before settling, realizing he wasn’t doing anything else... She cleared her throat. “E-excuse me-”
“Oh! So you can say more,” he said, and clawed into her cheeks. She squawked, and started to blush- turning beet as they both heard the denim rip under his fingers. Her skin was so smooth, like dough in his hands, kneading her as she went quiet again- before giving both cheeks a firm smack. She squawked again, and jumped, feathers flying. “Well?”
“O-oh... T-that was se-sexual assault, you know?”
“Yeah... it was... it was... So you know who I am, but who are you?”
“M-me? I’m n-nobody-”
“Nobody, huh? I knew a lot of girls with that name. Ended up being some of the best fucks. Care to add to that?” He gripped her rump again; she jumped again, but more as he blew on her pointed ear, making her squirm.
“N-no... stop... You can’t.”
“Then your name can’t be Nobody, now can it?”
“Well, Mel, you may not be a nobody but would you like the best ride of your life? I have broken many a goblin, and harpies are not nearly as promiscuous. Are you up for it?” He let her go, scoffed, and leaned back on the wall. “Or are you going to chicken out and return to your friends.”
“Huh!” He hooked a thumb up the steps, to the doors, where five other harpies were seen peeking through the crack. All color fled from her face, and she backed away, shrinking under his glare. “I-I’m sorry. I was d-dared to.”
“Yeah? And how far would it have gone? Get out of here.”
She did. She took to the skies, but wasn’t alone. The rest of her gaggle joined, flying off into the dawn. Penny wasn’t long after, and it was a quiet ride to the apartment. He gave her a one-finger salute, then went home, stripping at the door. As was the usual routine... Again, what he wouldn’t have given for the goblin by now. He would love a nice... hearty...
He sniffed the air. He sniffed it again; there was no mistaking it! Something was being cooked.
His neck cracked as he looked in the kitchen... and his appetite was gone. There was a goblin there, as there was food and his bag at the table. The goblin was already eating, savoring the sausage on her fork, almost sensual with it as she locked eyes with Francis, but sex was the last thing on his mind.
“Hello there, laddie,” Nicole said, tittering as she winked at him. “Looks like it wasn’t a long farewell after all.”