aphelion_orion (aphelion_orion) wrote in off_the_homerow,

[Guilty Gear] Covalent Bonds, Part V

Title: Covalent Bonds, or The Absolutely Necessary GG College AU Fic with a Bad Title
Fandom: Guilty Gear
Part: 5 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

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 V

If anyone thought that things ended with the defeat of the Science Troll at the hands of the Tiny Cute Thing, they weren't very familiar with Sol Badguy's psyche.

Actually, nobody was very familiar with Sol Badguy's psyche. The last person who'd tried, the aforementioned grade school psychologist, had survived his self-inflicted defenestration (ground floor office) and was since enjoying his retirement in the backwoods of Arkansas, with a couple of heart pills at the ready whenever the TV switched to a science program. (In little Freddie's defense, he'd simply been explaining what the fight with his teacher was all about — you see, the teacher had found it quite detrimental to her teaching when he kept asserting that space was not, in fact, made up of nothing — and this explanation required an understanding of chaos mathematics and subatomic theory and the infinitesimal unimportance of humanity in the cosmos. This might help in understanding why the psychologist had to take that leap.)

In any case, nobody had been quite deranged enough to try and get acquainted with Sol's psyche since. The one subject potentially convoluted enough to provide an understanding of how the current battle was shaping up was the continuity of any popular comic book, after going through the hands of several editors, some of whom were possibly drunk. After an unlimited number of stalemates, retcons, and unexpected comebacks, neither readers nor creators would be quite sure what the fight was about, but they kept going at it anyway, and fans kept watching with the inexplicable fascination one tends to develop in the face of a blazing, smoking trainwreck leaking Strontium 90.

Sol had taken great pleasure in rendering the thing's victory utterly Pyrrhic, inflicting upon it a barrage of assignments that was sure to leave it too busy to so much as squeak out a plea to stop. Not that the thing would have done that, having foolishly decided to declare war in the first place, but Sol took a measure of satisfaction in imagining it, anyway — especially when the thing appeared to flourish under the treatment like a particularly masochistic type of Bougainvillea, unfurling fresh leaves with every new near-impossible task it was set to.

The other students had long since learned to stay out of the way, though they needn't have bothered. Sol had become so single-minded in his torment of the thing that he didn't even notice them scribbling along under their desks; some out of genuine interest, some because members of the faculty had begun to scout and pay willing members of the student body to provide them with insider reports, delighting in the struggles of their sworn archnemesis/long-time anathema/scary guy who'd once built a harmonics disruptor tuned to explode any stereo playing 80s pop.

Thus merriment was had by nearly all parties involved in this face-off, and all was right with the world.

Until one day, it stopped.

It stopped in the manner a wondrous, well-oiled machine tends to stop, everything grinding to a halt and slumping into shutdown after a fuel source has been taken away. Eye-witnesses would later describe the events in hushed whispers, partly because this was the tone of voice one tended to adopt when speaking of a very grumpy, unpredictable man who had the power of science (!) at his disposal, and partly because they just enjoyed keeping their listeners on the edge of their seats.

It started about five minutes into Monday's class, with the professor's sudden interest in the doorway. Periodically, he would look up from his blackboard squiggles, or pause in popping the cork of a vial, his gaze sliding to the door almost through a will of its own. Soon, this evolved into sudden bouts of pacing, and a routine laser glare sweeping the rows of desks, with the students fighting the urge to dive for cover. For all the jokes they liked to make about being taught by an angry grizzly bear, they had never really been taught by anything more than an extremely disgruntled, sleep-deprived, short-tempered and very intelligent man. Now they were being taught by a grizzly, who seemed increasingly willing and ready to commit scientific savagery upon his students, so they were all very glad when something finally seemed to snap, and the professor stormed out of class, slamming the door.

In retrospect, the catalyst, once unveiled, was as simple and insignificant as it was baffling. It was the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings, causing a tornado to tear through the campus on his way to the lab, and a flood of rumors to spill from classroom to classroom.

The thing had failed to show up.


The thing also failed to show up on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and by the time of eleven o'clock on Friday night, Sol had become very twitchy. This twitchiness did not stem from the thing's conspicuous absence from his classes — no, this twitchiness was due to the fact that the thought of its absence would every now and again wander into his mind like a disoriented tourist whose guide booklet had failed to point out that he really wasn't allowed in here, and who would raise his arm and shout, "Excuse me!" in the peculiar desperation of someone wishing to be noticed by the uncaring locals.

By the time Friday evening rolled around, the tourist had been yelling, "Excuse me!" since Monday, and was of the opinion that he had really been quite polite in his inquiries, so he'd decided to change tactics. He'd taken to windmilling his arms and shouting in five different languages at ten-minute intervals, to the point where no amount of calculations and formaldehyde were capable of drowning him out.

Sol paused in his work, and tried to find a way to forcibly kick the tourist out of his country.

He thought of finding a sturdy vertical surface for bashing his head in, or possibly being the first to perform a full frontal lobotomy on himself.

In the end, neither seemed very productive.

He went to the library.


Seeking out the library was a reaction left over from Sol's own college days, the days before affordable computers and ipods were ever at the ready to tune out a world that was out to annoy him with its frat parties, Madonnas, and motorized ice cream cones. The library was his sanctuary, a place of thought and silence, with the ability to instantly calm his overclocking brain and blood pressure (though he might have changed his mind had he spotted its new additions in the form of Several Novels About Sexy Vampires). It was also the place nobody expected him to go, which had left him with ample time to stake out his own private lair between the most remote shelves in the science section, the place where the works of Heisenberg and Schrödinger lay undisturbed by the aggressively illiterate student body.

The laws of probability state, however, that for every ten thousand ignoramuses, there is one really smart person, and this meant a greater than average chance that the place would not remain undiscovered forever. Sol had never considered this before, and wasn't about to consider it now when he was preoccupied with bodily hauling the tourist from the premises. When he rounded the corner, though, the tourist suddenly yelled, "Aha!" and waddled off in extreme self-satisfaction, leaving Sol's blood pressure to spike through the roof.


In a distant corner of his brain, the notion was forming that maybe he should find a more intelligent insult than "you," but the rest of him didn't care. Curled up in his special corner was the thing, half-barricaded by stacks of books on either side, a notepad in its lap, and fast asleep. It appeared to have been readying itself for an all-nighter, a thermos of tea and a packet of cookies sitting next to it on the floor, but somewhere along the line, it had succumbed to the warmth of the central heating system at its back.

Upon the bark, though, it stirred, lifting its head and clumsily rubbing the blurriness from its eyes. "Oh. Good... well, I suppose it's evening now, isn't it. Good evening, sir."

Sol merely blinked, partly because his curiosity had been piqued and was now engaged in a wrestling competition with the urge to just turn tail and leave, and partly because "you didn't show up for your daily smackdown" seemed like a stupid thing to say.

"Um." The thing shifted uncomfortably, trying to make itself presentable the best it could, and drew up its legs to allow him easier passage. "Um, do you need something from here, sir? I mean, I can move."

Sol could have said yes. He could have told the thing to get lost, reconquered his corner, and invasion-proofed it for eternity with barbed wire fences and rocket launchers. He wasn't sure why he didn't. Instead, he said, "Place is gonna close soon."

"Oh." The thing straightened even more. "I've got permission from the librarian, sir. She said she'd make an exception."

"You're gonna let yourself get locked in over homework," Sol said, narrowing his eyes.

"Well," the thing said, its gaze shifting from side to side. "My roommates have their girlfriends over. It would get... crowded."

"And you'd rather sleep in the library than ring up your mom. Right."

The thing glared abruptly. "I don't have a mom."

Somewhere in the back of Sol's head, the little voice facepalmed. Snappy-ass comeback — error. Abort/retry/fail?

He scowled at his conscience rearing its ugly head, and demonstratively jammed his fists into his coat pockets. No way was he going to apologize over that one. He hadn't felt sorry for anything in over thirty years, and he wasn't about to start now. If the thing thought he was going to get misty-eyed over some kind of tear-jerker story, it was sorely mistaken.

The thing wasn't thinking anything, apparently, because it stopped glaring and began to shuffle its notes in order. "Well, if there's nothing you needed, sir... I'm just going to stay here and finish your assignment."

"...which assignment?" Sol said automatically, his brain still not quite able to perform a 30 GOTO 10 and steer the conversation back into a territory that was safe and far away from foot-in-mouth.

"The assignment from last Friday, sir," the thing said, and if he hadn't known better, he would have said that it looked almost hurt. "On the chemical origins of life. You told me not to come back until I had an answer."

Had he? He honestly couldn't remember. It seemed like a fairly standard thing to say, right alongside, "Any time you think your incompetence has reached peak levels, feel free to use the exit to the right," and "As we can see, this result means that the type (1A) reaction is standard. Unless you're some sort of dumb shit." He barely even expected people to listen to the standard stuff, any more than they listened to other standard stuff in the more civilized world, such as "good morning" and "thank you" and "If you do this, your bones will melt. Whatever it says on that label. Try not to do it."

He frowned. "You're trying to tell me the reason you've been skipping class is that assignment."

"It proved to be... a little more time-consuming than I thought," the thing admitted, chagrined. "I sincerely apologize for my tardiness, sir."

If looks could move mountains, this one could have melted all the glaciers of the Himalaya with its abject misery at being too stupid to solve a problem humanity had been gnawing at for the better part of modern science. In Sol's case, all it did was shift a pebble. A very pissed-off pebble on an indignant mountain that did not want to move and didn't understand why it should, but a pebble nonetheless.

"You do realize the reason why none of these books will give you the answer is that it doesn't exist, right?"

"Um," the thing said, confusion rather than betrayal flitting across its face. "...I thought you wanted me to find it."

Slowly, his own internal can't-be-for-real-o-meter decided to swing from "nope, not real" to "you've got to be fucking kidding me." Making a face, Sol said, "Yeah, kid. I totally wanted you to solve what every major lab on this planet hasn't been able to solve."


"Give me that," he growled, holding his hands out for the papers. Stunned, the thing obeyed, still entirely too much in abandoned-puppy-mode for his liking. "And find a goddamn couch. And if I don't see your ass on Monday, you will rue the day you ever came here."

Then, he turned on his heels and marched out of the aisle to avoid getting caught in the lethal blast of happy sparkles heralded by the joyful, "Yes, sir!", trying very hard not to think about what he had just done.


It was only when he was safely back in his lab that Sol realized he had accomplished nothing he had set out to do. The tourist might have gone, but its smugness still lingered, and on top of that, he'd managed to invite the bane of his existence back into class, and would be subjected to its happy eager glow for the rest of the year. Something was definitely wrong with his brain. Maybe it was time to take a weekend off and get drunk, before he did something like join a knitting club for charity or starting a petition for world peace and interstellar harmony.

It seemed like a plan. Safe, and very likely to get him back to normal once his massive hangover met Monday morning and he got reminded of all the things wrong with the world. He was already halfway to putting his plan in action, shoving experiments into their respective containers, when his gaze fell upon the paper he'd taken from the thing, and so carelessly tossed onto his desk, into the middle of a congregation of flesh-eating acids.

Sol stopped.

And stared.

And kept staring for a very long time.


"Congratulations. You've scarred the new intern for life."

Sol jerked up from poking through his research notes to see the wobbly outline of an elderly, shrunken figure tinged in a gentle brown aura. Then he realized he was staring through a rack of dirt-encrusted beakers waiting to be cleaned, and craned his neck past the lab table. The elderly, shrunken figure — now no longer wobbly — waved in greeting.

"She's threatening to forward you her therapy bill. And before you ask, the door was open," Kliff Undersen observed, giving the handle a pat, to which it responded with a weak, metallic groan and fell out of its socket. "Huh. Better get that repaired."

"As a matter of fact, I've got some parts on order," Sol shot back, and went about adjusting the microscope. "It's not my fault that she lacks the intelligence to stop snooping through my mail. And whatever it is, no, I'm not doing it."

The old head of the department was one of the few people in Sol's life who managed to be equal parts incredibly annoying and incredibly interesting, and who could be both or either entirely at will. Sol had long since learned to be busy whenever Kliff showed up, as he had the uncanny ability to make him do things he didn't want to do, and all of this was most easily avoided by pretending he couldn't hear, couldn't talk, and couldn't see. As an afterthought, he reached for his headphones.

"I think the hand in the jar was a bit much," Kliff said, in a tone that meant he knew Sol had started including these little extras in his mail on purpose.

"As I said, lacks the intelligence. I'm sure there's a sociological study for this."

"Average human's self-preservation instincts in the face of unspeakable horrors?" Kliff asked mildly.

"Something like that. Also, get out."

Kliff did nothing of the sort. Instead, he shuffled closer, and began to wave a packet of M&Ms under the lens of the microscope. Sol knew a basic ruse when he saw one, and he also knew that if he were to grab it, he'd have to start paying attention to whatever errand had brought the old man here. In the end, his cravings won out. Kliff thought he was cleverly concealing a triumphant smirk under his beard when Sol snatched up the packet and tore it open with all the care and attention of a wild boar that knew it had walked into a trap, and Sol made very sure to let Kliff know he wasn't being at all sneaky, it was just that he was hungry.

As always, the old man failed to look even the slightest bit guilty about it. "I read the paper."

Sol began laying out the M&Ms in the shape of a double helix. "So?"

"I won't pretend I know even a third as much about this subject as you do, but I have to say... it is the most well-researched punishment I've read in my entire career."

"Ah." He nudged the bases between the spiraling strands into place.

"It looks incredibly promising. To tell the truth, I've been keeping a bit of an eye on the boy. Seemed way too much like someone I know, with better social skills. He came here on a grant, did you know that? Both parents deceased, and yet he keeps working so hard."

Sol glared, and started devouring the guanine. "Your point?"

"Truth be told, I always thought he was a bit too good for law."

"Law?" Sol muttered past a mouthful of cytosine.

"Oh, come now," Kliff said, raising his eyebrows. "Half the faculty's been wondering what on Earth he's doing in your courses. Are you going to tell me you weren't the least bit interested?"

"Yes. Now are you going to give him some backing, or did you just come here to share Cinderella stories?"

"Oh, I'm going to. I'm going to. In fact, if he accepts the change in major, I'm going to do more than that." The old man crossed his arms, looking thoughtful. "I was thinking of assigning him a tutor. That way, the boy can get access to the labs, do some independent work. There's no use in waiting until he's allowed to apply for a graduate project. That kind of talent needs some guidance and practical experience."

"And now you want me to tell you which one of our eggheads to turn into the chaperon," Sol concluded, and started attacking the green ranks of the adenine. "Gee. Let's see. Moron, moron, moron, incompetent fuckstick, moron. Closet creationist, moron, moron, oh, and Bergman's a mouthpiece for Bayer pharmaceuticals. Just thought you'd like to know. I'm sure any one of them will jump at the chance to raise the fluffy little genius duckling into a scientific swan. If you want a completely degenerate swan that talks out of its own ass, of course."

"That wouldn't do, no."

"Better start looking at other places, then."

"Actually, I already had someone in mind."

"Oh, yeah?" Sol said, shooting him a sideways glance.

It took him a moment to identify the twinkle in Kliff's eyes, and to realize in a split second of perfect clarity that this was where he knew the thing's look from— it was the same expression the old man was wearing now, immensely pleased that he'd managed to maneuver him exactly where he wanted: between a rock and a fucked place.


"I'm of the understanding that you would be on the same wavelength."


The old bastard was already backing up, smiling serenely, completely unconcerned at the fact that two-hundred pounds of musclebound science were starting to get really, really pissed off.

"And you have more than enough room."


"I think it would do you good, having someone around. Help you remember how to communicate in polysyllables. Don't worry, I'll take care of all the paperwork."


"Excellent, I knew you'd see it my way."

And before Sol could reach for the nearest flammable object and whatever might make it flam, Kliff slipped out the door.



A/N: Whaaat. You didn't earnestly expect Sol to win this one, did you? XD Next up: Further adventures of the Quasiamicable Pair!!! How will Sol cope with the invasion of the Warmfuzzies?! Will Ky befriend the contents of Sol's fridge?! How long does it take for udon to gain sentience?! And most importantly... what will I-no do?!

Many thanks to Twig and her mighty fic iron. Comments and thoughts are, as always, very welcome. :)

Notes for the Bored:
- Those novels about vampires? Not a lie. I recently found out that my very own university library does not have a single copy of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, buuuut... we own the Twilight series. Hooray!

Tags: college au, guilty gear, sol/ky
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