aphelion_orion (aphelion_orion) wrote in off_the_homerow,

[Guilty Gear] Covalent Bonds, Part IV

Title: Covalent Bonds, or The Absolutely Necessary GG College AU Fic with a Bad Title
Fandom: Guilty Gear
Part: 4 of ?
Pairing: mild Sol-Ky distillate, smells distinctly of black tea and brimstone (handle with care, extremely flammable)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: college-AU, humor/parody/crack
Notes: This was born from the idea that Sol would make the best, worst, scariest college professor who ever lived. And possibly that avatar that has Sol in a labcoat and fuzzy slippers. XD Of course, where he goes, Ky can't be far. In other words, my pitch to do something with the ill-reputed high school/college AU genre.

Summary: Sol is your not-so everyday mad science professor, and he hates the universe. That is, until he meets—— Well, no. He's still going to hate the universe. He will, however, be forced into grudging coexistence with it.

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI

Covalent Bonds
or The Absolutely Necessary GG College AU Fic with a Bad Title

Part IV

The only reason Sol Badguy hadn't destroyed the universe was that it would take too much effort. However, he was the terror of door-to-door salespeople, neighborhood watch schemes, and girl scouts, the destroyer of customer support networks and anyone who tried to chat him up under pretenses of "talking about faith", as well as the personal hell of the kid working part-time at the downtown music store, who, in a moment of utter lack of self-preservation, had once answered the question of, "What. Is. This," with, "Uhhh, D.J. Sammy's Best of Queen Remix. It really rocks."

Spam bots made frantic detours whenever they detected his e-mail or any e-mail that looked even remotely like it on a public web forum, and telephone interviewers tried to avoid his number like it was the devil compressed into ten digits — unless they were Candice McMutton of Denial, Anger and Ca$h, an upstart insurance firm (her boss had an odd sense of humor), who had not listened to the warnings and was currently sobbing away at her desk, vowing in the part of her brain that had not been terrified into incoherent blubbering to start a chicken farm in Iowa after making the ill-fated acquaintance of Sol's answering machine.

The thing did not seem to understand this.

It kept popping up like a type of especially irritating mushroom, serious, diligent, bright as a pin, and appearing perfectly at ease in classes most students considered to be unspeakable torture. It was brimming with questions that wanted answering, and ideas it felt could be beneficial for discussion, and had the endlessly frustrating gift of avoiding the projectiles Sol had taken to launching from the teacher's desk whenever its hand went up.

By the end of the first week, Sol had exhausted his arsenal of blackboard erasers, chalk pieces, and rubber bands (he felt too proud to reclaim them from the empty seat next to the thing, where they had been neatly stacked for his convenience). By the end of the third week, he was starting to run out of trick questions and had to start preparing them in advance.

By the middle of the fifth week, when the thing was starting to develop a distinct eagerness in response to Sol's vengeance, as if it couldn't be happier to be threatened with being tossed out of class, he was beginning to earnestly look into his theory that the thing wasn't real. Maybe it was a mutant that had swallowed Plutonium as a baby. Maybe it was some kind of renegade robot that had fled from a secret military testing facility. Maybe the aliens had forgotten one of their own on the last vacation trip to Earth.

Maybe the thing was completely demented.

It appeared to be under some kind of delusion that its dedication would eventually be rewarded, as it didn't complain, didn't file a harrassment suit, and didn't break down crying and begging for forgiveness as most other people would have under the circumstances. Instead, it just had more questions.

And it was doing the unforgivable: It was enjoying itself.

Of course, the more complicated Sol's attempts at destroying the thing became, the longer the thing's answers grew, so by the time it delivered a flawless and completely uncalled-for paper on two-stream instability for the advanced physics seminar, it had also begun to think of Sol as approachable. This was mainly because the ammunition on Sol's side had been reduced to beakers and growled retorts. He wasn't quite up to sacrificing his own tools to the cause, and the thing seemed to have some kind of built-in immunity to biting sarcasm. It had even stopped scowling upon being addressed as "kid", "shrimp", "brat", or "tribble"; instead, it now started talking whenever Sol paused for breath between insults.

Eventually, Sol was reduced to a single, scathing, two-letter word, as it was the only method of stopping the thing in its tracks. He began to say "no."

"Sir, I was wondering if—"


"Sir, there was also the question of—"


"Sir, about the theory concerning—"


In fact, it quickly became the universal transmitter of his feelings, as he discovered that there was room for a startling amount of exasperation and disdain in such a short word, and he'd always been a minimalist, anyway. The word was hurled whenever the thing opened its mouth. It was hurled whenever the thing raised its arm. It was also hurled whenever the thing nodded, tried to approach his desk, or so much as breathed in his direction. He even began to use it for whenever he had the misfortune of spotting the thing in the hallways, on the way to the labs, or in the split second before the elevator doors closed, and, or so it seemed to him, he was spotting the thing a good deal more than was normal.

If he had felt inclined to listen to the small voice in the back of his mind, he might have realized that the reason he was seeing the thing a good deal more than was normal was because his brain had zeroed in on it like it was the tiny, blond constant in the equation to ruin his day. The small voice was understandably upset at Sol's continued refusal to listen, but there was little it could do. It was, after all, just a voice.

Thus, after all its reasonable cajoling, hinting, and facepalming, the voice refused to take responsibility for the Starbucks incident.

The Starbucks incident wasn't really an incident so much as it was a agglomeration of factors that only made sense when combined in a specific order at a specific time in a specific place. It further required you to tilt your head at a ninety degree angle and squint three times fast, and maybe even that wasn't enough, because that was what Ky did, and he didn't really understand it, either. You kind of had to be Sol to fully comprehend the Starbucks incident.

The first factor was Sol's weekend routine, which involved locking himself in his basement and spending forty-eight hours staring at the contents of Petri dishes through the lenses of an electron microscope. It also involved Monday, his most loathed day of the week thanks to the Basic Science course, and the fact that the coffee company, a little disturbed to notice the unusually high turnover on the third-floor vending machine with absolutely zero profit, had carted the device off to the repair shop.

Eight on a Monday morning was not the best time to track down the next vending machine and hack it to deploy something that contained enough caffeine to support his sleep-deprived system, however, which was the reason Sol shuffled off to the corner Starbucks to get something that maybe hopefully wasn't just instant powder. The scowl he meant to direct at the erratically jingling bell over the door was instantly mellowed by the aroma of the gods, so much so that he didn't even mind the crowd of college students having breakfast at the tables.

Then, the lone employee behind the bar turned around, and everything changed.

"Good morning," said the tiny blond thing in the barista outfit. "May I take your—"


"Um," said the thing, squinting. "Okay."

At this point, the situation could have still worked out for the benefit of Sol's blood pressure if he had chosen to listen to the little voice. He didn't. "You. You planned this, didn't you."

"Um, no sir. I work here."

"You knew I was going to come here and you did this on purpose."

"I got hired for minimum wage on purpose, sir?" the thing asked.

Sol stared, the cogs in his head turning because the thing had accidentally stumbled upon the only convincing argument it could have made. The cogs were grinding away towards the realization that maybe he was overreacting. The thing didn't move, just stared at him in a mildly concerned fashion. Ruining his day. Ruining his curve.

Then, it opened its mouth again, and Sol decided to stand by his resolve.

"No!" he proclaimed, and stomped out the door.


If patience was a virtue, then Ky Kiske was the most virtuous person on the planet, as this particular trait was required in superabundance if one happened to be short, fourteen, and in college. He practiced patience the way water practiced patience, grinding away at a solid rockface.

He had spent the first few weeks being very patient with various people, including the librarian who refused to believe that he was a student and wouldn't let him borrow a copy of Dostoyevski, repeated offers from several college students to help him look for parents, siblings, or lost pets, his roommates who thought it was very funny to make jokes about play pens, and the well-meaning secretary in the student administration who had taken one look at him, whipped out the business card of a Chinese place and scrawled her number on the back, all the while saying that he could ring her any time if he didn't know what to do, she'd love to help him out, really, no need to be shy, and hopefully he was eating okay, such a skinny little thing, her parents had a restaurant over on 42nd street and he could skip over for a meal any time, she'd treat him.

And then, of course, there were the professors, who were anything from nervous to enthusiastic about having him, and who'd occasionally stop to ask how he was getting along, hopefully the workload wasn't too much, and if there was something troubling him, he knew their office hours, didn't he?

It wasn't that Ky didn't appreciate the help, he just didn't like being an exception. In comparison, it was almost nice to spend a couple of hours a week being threatened with being set aflame, stuffed in a jar, or booted out of class. In fact, the getting-booted-out-of-class bit had gotten kind of fun, even if he was sure the professor was dead serious about it.

He wasn't sure if the professor was dead serious about the other threats (it was improbable, but not implausible), though his classmates certainly seemed to think so. In fact, this was the reason for the impromptu war council being held in one corner of the lecture hall, a handful of students lounging together — they refused to think of it as 'huddling' — to discuss the predicament the way terrified peasants tend to discuss their evil overlord.

"I heard he has a door in his office," one girl was saying, twisting one of her many braids around her fingers. "If you try to bother him, he'll throw you through it! And you'll only make it out again in pieces. Floating in ethanol."

"Oh, please," another girl said, glancing around nervously in case a stray chair or desk decided to morph into Professor Badguy. "You know what I heard? He tranqued the press staff at a conference with a homebrew cocktail, just 'cause he hates questions. Was six hours before they stopped babbling about fairies."

"Dude, really?"

"Well, you know what?" Another student leaned forward conspiratorially, letting his glasses slip to the tip of his nose. "He's got an eyeball as a bookmark! I saw it!"

"What, like, from a goat?"

"I think it might be from his lab assistant."

"He doesn't have a lab assistant."


"...Actually, I think I saw those things at Staples for half off," Ky ventured, shrugging when six pairs of eyes turned to him. He had developed the tendency not to speak very much unless he was spoken to, as it took most people too long to locate the source of his voice two heads below their own. "Some kind of Halloween gag gift."


"...anyway," the guy said, squinting at him over the rim of his glasses. "Point is, he's damn scary. I wouldn't wanna cross him."

"Yeah, but... man, he's a teacher," another girl moaned. "He's supposed to answer our questions."

"I'm not sure that one's a teacher. More like... I dunno." The guy waved his hands to illustrate. "A bear. A really angry bear that hates people."

"All of this isn't really helping. Mock exam's in two weeks, which means it'll be in one week. I mean, we could just pool all the questions and send in one person. That way, he won't kill all of us."

"Oh, great idea, Fanny. So noble of you to make that sacrifice." The guy with the glasses bowed dramatically. "Sayonara, we hardly knew thee."

"Hey, wait wait wait a sec, Mito," the braided girl interjected. "You can't do that."

Fanny glared. "Thank you."

"No, I mean," she paused. "You can't do that. Sacrifices have got to be virgins. Power of purity and all that."

"Oh, ha ha."

"Well, depends." Mito was stroking his chin thoughtfully. "I mean, do virgins help against trolls?"

"He pings more demon to me, honestly. Takes way too much pleasure in our torment."

"Oh, well. In that case..."

All eyes swiveled to Ky.



Certain insinuations aside, Ky minded his new role as the sacrifice a lot less than the others thought possible. He had questions of his own, after all, but Professor Badguy had the unfortunate tendency to yell at him and storm off. Ky wasn't quite certain what he had done that might merit such behavior, but he had long since come to the conclusion that there were a lot of creatures on God's green Earth, and they all had to be allowed their little idiosyncrasies. (This philosophy mainly stemmed from the fact that Ky was usually subjected to samesaid idiosyncrasies, and had, in fact, subconsciously started spelling the word with a 'z'.)

He spent an evening pondering the best way to approach the professor, akin to a time-traveling big-game hunter pondering how to approach a particularly skittish specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex. After class was out of the question, unless he found a way to lock them both in an elevator long enough to ask what he wanted to ask. Before class was even less ideal, since the professor had the uncanny ability to materialize out of nowhere, which had caused a couple of students to speculate on the success of beaming technology and meant the professor couldn't possibly be waylaid. Besides, it might delay the course, and that just wouldn't do.

Ky was pretty sure the professor's office was still in the same spot, even if, over the past few weeks, it had been adorned by crisscrossing police tape and the sign "crime scene" hung on the knob, painted over to blend seamlessly into the off-white hallway, and been half-covered by a giant flag with Sanskrit writing on it declaring the office a city state. (Road toll: 10,000$ per inch, caution: killer robots inside, residents: one; with the 'one' crossed out and rewritten to become a zero, with the footnote 'too much stuff inside' attached to it. Ky knew this because, intrigued, he had spent an afternoon at the library, which had the added bonus of him becoming semi-fluent in Sanskrit).

Eventually, he decided on the method least likely to offend, which also happened to be the method most easily ignored. He opened the laptop, and began to carefully choose his words.


In his lab, Sol was working away at his table, surrounded by the harsh glow of halogen lights. Occasionally, he paused to reach across the table to take a sip of coffee (he'd finally managed to crack the machine on the fifth floor instead, plus the machine selling Snickers next to it), and was thus prepared for a nightlong session with the bacteria cultures. The beep of his e-mail client interrupted him mid-sip, and he sent his swivel chair spinning towards the other end of the table, where the laptop stood on a small square free of dangerous chemicals, feeling distinctly uneasy in the company of so many liquids just waiting to be spilled across its keyboard and melt its insides.

The inbox was showing one new message. Now, the only reason Sol was even checking his mail in the first place was because he was waiting for the confirmation of a shipment of nitrous oxide for his revenge against the vice presidents. It didn't really occur to him that nobody could have been working this late, otherwise his fingers wouldn't have automatically guided the mouse and clicked. Absently, Sol lowered his head for another sip, and paused.

There was a message splaying across the screen, but it had nothing to do with the crisp efficiency of business e-mails. The message continued for paragraphs upon paragraphs, elaborately phrasing various questions, and Sol was momentarily too fascinated by the realization that its phrases were arranged in iambic pentameter to notice that he was reading it.

His gaze fell upon the sender, and he scowled.

Normally, he would have deleted it. Taken satisfaction in moving it to the recycle bin, and watching it disintegrate bit-by-byte into nothing. But, he admitted, the iambic pentameter did deserve a commendation. He pulled up a folder and chose his best picture of a bedraggled deer.

Two minutes later, the answer arrived, so succinct in its tone that it might as well have been written by a completely different person.

"I fear that this does not sufficiently answer my questions, sir."

In the glare of the overhead lights, Sol's satisfied smirk would have looked right at home on a man-eating shark.


Thursday morning found Ky on an intercept course towards the labs. He had decided that while patience was a virtue, so was perseverance, and had funneled every ounce of his immense determination towards the goal of getting answers. The result was something that made a couple of early risers stop in their tracks and stare after him, mostly because they could have sworn that there was a crackling thundercloud stalking down the hallway. Not that thunderclouds could stalk, but it was really the only way to describe the sight.

Ky Kiske was a tiny-cute-thing on a mission.

This didn't escape Sol, who had just exited his lab, saw the thundercloud coming, and decided on a quick detour to avoid being massively annoyed.

Ky would have none of it. "Sir!"

"No," Sol said, and shoved open the door to the fire escape.

"Sir, I know you don't seem too fond of my presence, but this is important."

"Is the world ending?"

"What? No, sir. It's just—"

"Then it's not important."

Ky gritted his teeth. He'd finally caught up to the professor, who seemed determined to take an obstacle course to class this time, slipping through an open second-story window and dodging one of the cleaning wagons polishing the floors. "Sir, I know I'm not in a position to criticize—"

"Then don't."

"—but you have an obligation towards your students."

"Do I, now?"

Ky sighed, nearly skidding around the sharp bend towards the lecture halls. "Sir, I know you don't like me, but would you please consider answering the questions that aren't mine? Most of my colleagues are really worried."

"Hm, let me think about that." The professor shot him a sidelong glance. "No."

"Sir, please. I don't see why you're so determined to slight people who are willing to learn. We're all interested in the course, but sometimes we need a few more explanations."

"You know what? That's my problem."


The professor glared at him. "You're interested."

"...You... don't want us to be interested, sir?" Ky said slowly, blinking to make sure he understood.

"No, because then you think I'm going to have to start teaching you."

"...and you haven't been doing this?" Ky asked, feeling that the entire conversation had taken on a rather surreal quality. It was a belated realization, to be sure, but his tolerance for the bizarre and illogical had grown substantially since starting college.

"You're real bright, you know that? I've been trying to get rid of you." The professor was staring at him now, as if hoping to make him spontaneously combust. They had come to a halt in front of the lecture hall, though to any unfortunate soul wandering by, it was looking more like the beginning of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral.

"I don't care about these classes, I don't care about these people, I don't care about you. I wouldn't even be here if not for—" He interrupted himself. "The point is I wouldn't be here if I didn't have to, and I'm not doing a lepton more than that."

"...wow," Ky breathed softly, trying to recover his wits. One of the side effects of flapping his unflappable personality was that he tended to speak his mind without the two dozen politeness filters getting a chance to intervene, and it was about to get him in big, big trouble.

"Wow, you... I've never met a teacher so unwilling to teach."

"You know what? Here," the professor said, and dumped his pile of books into Ky's arms.


"Mazel tov." Fishing around in his pockets, the professor pulled out a laser pointer, and placed it on top of the pile. "Today you become a man."

Then, he turned on his heel and vanished down the corridor, leaving Ky to stare after him in utter, stunned bewilderment.


"Yo. I think you— whoaaaaaa!"

Sol, finding the blissful silence of a busy workday abruptly disturbed, glanced up from his experiment to see the equivalent of a golden retriever caught in a bear trap. One half of that impression was figurative, the other quite literal, as Sol had chosen to replace the explosive on the doorknob with the rather more effective snare. The retriever was swaying slightly from side to side, one of his legs caught in the sling, his hair and bandanna brushing the floor. Briefly, Sol contemplated keeping him there until the doorstep was clean.

Then, the retriever opened his mouth again to let out his best whine. "C'mon, bossman, you gotta stop doing this. That's just cruel. Let me down."

Grudgingly, Sol pressed a button, and the retriever fell to the floor with a thump, the metal sling landing smack-dab across his belly.

"Ow," Axl Low pronounced as he clambered to his feet, rubbing his bottom and seeking to rid himself of the sling. And then, again, for emphasis, "Ow."

He was one of the few people Sol didn't wish to murder on sight, if only because of his three defining characteristics. One, he was working for the tech department, two, was looking like a Guns 'n' Roses reject at all times, and three, he was naive enough to keep lending Sol computers, programs, gadgets and parts, all of which he never got back. Occasionally, he would show up to complain about it, but Sol thought it only fair, considering he was doing Axl's job on the side most of the time. Which was probably a good thing, since the guy couldn't fix a toaster to save his life, regularly electrocuted himself while changing the light bulbs, and had the special talent of making computers give up on life just by looking at them.

Thoughtfully, Sol reached for the borrowed Macbook and moved it out of Axl's line of sight.

Axl finished dusting himself off. "I just wanted to swing by. Thought congratulations might be in order."

"And why's that?" Sol asked, knowing from experience that Axl would go away quicker if he didn't ignore him, and break less.

"Well, your robot."

Sol raised an eyebrow.

"Come on, your robot," Axl encouraged. "The one teaching in hall 33-D!"

"What," Sol snapped.

"Yeah. Granted, I thought you'd go more for scary than cute, but he's pretty damn lifelike. You wouldn't mind if we took a look at his wirings, would you? I mean, you beat us to it and all, so the cybernetics— Hey! Where are you going?!"

But Sol was already shoving past him, taking the quickest route to lecture hall 33-D. Dimly, he heard Axl calling after him, rambling on about how he'd always known Sol would succeed one of these days, how it was a breakthrough in robotics technology, and where had he gotten the idea for that downright adorable template, but Sol wasn't really paying attention. His mind was awhirl with the conviction that this couldn't be what he thought it was, and if it was Axl's idea of a prank, then the idiot wouldn't be able to feel safe again for the rest of his life.

Lecture hall 33-D was usually completely unremarkable, distinguishable from other lecture halls only by the large black sign above its front entrance. Today, however, it was distinguishable by the cluster of people that had formed outside, a bunch of students and one or two professors trying to peer through the crack in the door, and whispering excitedly. Since he'd always been a man of little patience, Sol elbowed his way past them, and froze.

"Welcome back, sir," the tiny blond thing at the blackboard said, turning from a meticulous diagram depicting chromosomal crossover during meiosis, and flashing him a smile.

"You," Sol bit out.

In the background, the students stopped taking notes.

"Yes, sir?"

"Why are you teaching this class."

"Um, you... told me to, sir?" the thing ventured, looking very earnest.

Sol stared, finding himself at a complete loss for both words and thought for the very first time in his life. The thing was staring back expectantly.

Eventually, wordlessly, Sol held out his open palm. The thing beamed, dropped the piece of chalk in it, grabbed its bag and made its way to its seat, looking more the part of elated fourteen-year-old and less the part of military genius who had just managed to win the decisive victory in a stalemate against Attila the Hun.

Sol turned to the blackboard to examine the diagram, found no fault with it, and promptly began to scrawl all over it.

- TBC -


A/N: No retrievers, girl scouts, or Starbucks customers were harmed in the making of this fic. They were, however, slightly disturbed. As usual, C&C is much appreciated.

And now, for the after-fic bingo:

- Spot all the cameos, win a cookie!
- I'm pretty sure Starbucks is a bit more generous to its employees, but hey. XD Also, in case you hadn't guessed it yet, yes, this fic's main purpose is to stuff Ky into as many cute outfits as possible.
- For the record, the students are mourning their loss.
- Next time on Crack R Us... THE LAB!!! *dom dom dooom*

Tags: college au, guilty gear, sol/ky
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