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[Guilty Gear] Covalent Bonds VIII

Title: Covalent Bonds, or The Absolutely Necessary GG College AU Fic with a Bad Title
Fandom: Guilty Gear
Part: 8 of ?
Pairing: mild Sol-Ky distillate
Rating: PG-13
Contains: college-AU, humor/parody/crack
[Chapter navigation]Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII

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


Those who had the dubious pleasure of being personally acquainted with Sol Badguy would not have described him as a particularly paranoid man. In fact, depending on their job, the solidity of their state of mind, the last time they’d been to see a priest and whether or not they were in possession of a double-barreled shotgun, they tended to describe Sol more as a source of paranoia than anything else.

He trolled political talk hosts in his spare time, was the archnemesis of any radio DJ foolish enough to let a dubstep remix of Bohemian Rhapsody on air, and was the reason the Girl Scouts had declared the five-mile area around his house a no-sale zone (granted, this was mostly due to their scouts running away crying after one look at his face, which wasn’t really something Sol could do anything about, but he wasn’t about to turn down all those inadvertent free cookies, either).

In spite of his reputation, however, Sol lived his life according to one simple and unalterable truth — that the universe was out to fuck with him, and that if he gave it half a chance, it would swipe his wallet, steal his car, and leave him stranded in the middle of the Mojave desert.

The best way to ensure that the universe wouldn’t get a chance to fuck with him was a three-step plan, though the university had so far refused to approve his request for a perimeter fence made entirely out of chainsaws. While that was a pity, it wasn’t a significant hindrance to the implementation of steps two and three, which consisted of expecting nothing and doing nothing of consequence, respectively. This, he had determined long ago, would give the universe as small an opening as possible and save himself a lot of annoyance that was better spent elsewhere.

Expecting nothing meant not having to live with the inevitable disappointment that came from having expected Scientific American to publish an article without at least three bogus sources, or from having expected frozen burritos to taste anything at all like a real burrito, or from having expected the results of last night’s play-offs to go unspoiled for even five minutes of morning conversation. Doing nothing of consequence meant less time and energy spent on being forced to justify his own existence, and minimizing the chances of having it blow up in his face.

The thing, consisting primarily of sunshine and rainbows, didn’t quite subscribe to this philosophy.

The chainsaws, it argued, while certainly impressive, weren’t particularly cost-effective, especially not — and here, Ky had pulled out the books Sol hadn’t even known existed — especially not after the deduction of ten years’ worth of library fines, the costs for incinerating three truckloads of semi-sentient waste, and the import fees for the monthly shipments of kona coffee.

Trying to argue for just not returning the books or simply burying the old bio-samples in Professor Skankentine’s backyard had just triggered the transformation of the world’s tiniest, fluffiest scientist into the world’s tiniest, fluffiest lawyer, and that meant six hours of his life he’d never get back. He’d never realized something that looked about as ferocious as a Japanese dwarf squirrel could argue so loudly and so persistently for so long. After his ears had stopped ringing from the barrage of paragraphs, Sol had quietly vowed to implement future cost reduction schemes without the thing’s knowledge, though he hadn’t gotten very far in figuring out how to do that yet.

Predictably, the thing also didn’t think much of his work ethic, determined as it was to win some kind of award for having absolutely no life whatsoever. In fact, the only reason Sol had stopped trying to tear the happy right out of its soul was that the thing seemed to agree with the most central part of his philosophy — namely that expectations were for the kinds of people who tried to dry their palmtop in the microwave and were very surprised when it exploded.

Granted, this was owing to some rather generous rounding on Sol’s part. In reality, Ky was only about ten percent cynical and ninety percent very, very pragmatic; an attitude that, apart from demanding he try to do everything himself, guaranteed that he never left the dorm without a sewing kit, extra paperclips, a roll of duct tape and a thermos full of tea, the basic ingredients to solving almost all of life’s problems. (Since he’d started working at the place formerly known as the den of pestilence and chaos, the checklist had grown to include a pair of industrial safety glasses, half a backpack full of candy, and the ability to lie convincingly, which were the basic ingredients to solving almost all problems pertaining to Professor Badguy).

At any rate, the fact that the thing was similarly prone to not expecting things made Sol feel somewhat vindicated in his approach to the universe, not to mention it made his life considerably easier. The lab might not have been a place for expectations, but it was a place for ruthless capitalism. The exchange rate for answers was one candy bar per topic, double that if the question couldn’t be answered with a series of grunts (which, as it turned out, was quite difficult to do when discussing the finer points of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase).

The exchange rate for some actual help was one mug of freshly brewed coffee, and Sol was quite pleased with how quickly the thing had taken to his teaching methods. (He didn’t realize that the thing, in turn, was quite pleased with how quickly Sol had taken to its teaching methods, derived from an online dog training manual. Or that most of the candy had long since morphed into whole grain crackers and granola bars to ensure that the professor would continue to be his tight-lipped, irritable self well beyond the age of forty).

The system was working well; in fact, it was working so well that the more time passed, the more it began to expose its fundamental flaw. It was a flaw that could have been easily fixed, or at least given due consideration with a little bit of introspection, but in a twist that should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Sol avoided introspection like he avoided Freddie Mercury cosplayers — mostly by immolating the very suggestion.

If Sol had felt even slightly more inclined towards the occasional bout of self-reflection, he would have found himself violating his own most basic principle: He had begun to expect things.

Granted, they were not what other people would consider expectations, which made them all the more extraordinary in Sol’s unique version of reality. He had come to expect to come in to a squeaky clean lab. He had come to expect his morning coffee. He had come to expect a modicum of fifteen minutes of intelligent conversation a day. Most damningly, he had come to expect the thing to be there, with its annoying industriousness and its annoying questions and its especially annoying resemblance to a unicorn.

And because the universe is about as likely to ignore such a slip-up as an asteroid is inclined to change its collision course with Earth to avoid ruining everyone’s Sunday, this turned out to be the perfect moment for a shiny silver bullet car to come skidding into the university parking lot.

In truth, skidding was perhaps the wrong word to use in this context. It would have been more accurate to say that there was the sound of tires skidding before said shiny silver bullet car simply materialized in the parking lot. It sat there for a moment, bathing the other cars in the sparkle of its wax-polished majesty, just to allow anyone who might be watching to understand that this was a Really Important Development. Then, its gullwing doors slid outward and upward with a quiet hiss, and spectators would have been forgiven for anticipating fog to come billowing from inside.

There were, of course, no such needless dramatics, though the fog could have undoubtedly been customized in a dashboard function. There was also no theatric accompaniment provided by a church choir, though again, spectators would have been forgiven for thinking they could hear the opening chords of Dies Irae when a foot stepped onto the pavement. A foot clad in an Italian leather shoe, which came attached to a man clad in an expensive three-piece suit and carrying a thin, stylish briefcase. Beyond his strangely nondescript face, he looked like a CEO who had walked out of a board meeting after introducing all the other members to the multi-functionality of his Hammacher Schlemmer therapeutic death chair.

Straightening his jacket, the man surveyed the campus stretching out before him, the car doors sliding closed and locking at the press of an unseen button. He was pleased to note that little had changed — a fresh coat of paint on some of the buildings, some abstract sculptures which were meant to represent wisdom, industriousness and justice but all ended up looking vaguely obscene, and the countless students caught up in the eternal recurrence of college life.

Perhaps the lack of shrapnel pockmarks dotting the ground should have come as a bit of a disappointment, but it was fairly obvious that the emergency reconstruction and landscaping task force had become a lot more efficient since his own college days. Fred had a way of inspiring people to new heights, even if they mostly happened to be a squad of bulldozer drivers called in at four in the morning to refill the gaping crater left behind by a field test of tarmac-eating bacteria.

He smiled a little to himself, and though it was, for all intents and purposes, a benign, everyday kind of smile, onlookers would have once again been forgiven for checking the area for the aftermath of a puppy-stomping.

Originally, he’d planned to be in and out in under fifteen minutes, but now, he figured he could afford to take his time. It was a lovely day for a stroll around the campus grounds, and the stroll was a lovely way of building up some anticipation for the reunion to come.

Across the campus, the-tiny-cute-thing-known-as-Ky-Kiske was blissfully oblivious to the fact that the unicorn had just been added to the list of endangered mythical beasts.

This was partly due to Ky having no idea that there was such a thing as a list of endangered mythical beasts, and partly due to him ignoring any and all of Professor Badguy’s taunts involving unicorn farts, which prevented him from realizing that he was now endangered by association. If he had, he might taken the next rainbow out of there, or at least considered working from his dorm room for the rest of the day.

As it was, however, he was engrossed in the progress of a culture of slime mold that was fanning out across a series of small food clumps, slowly forming the perfect network for a new city subway system. Every once in a while, he reached for his keyboard to make allowances for a water vein or a bundle of high-voltage cables, happy whenever the detour required only a minor increase in costs. On its altar, the coffee maker was gurgling away, but other than that, the lab was enshrouded in a peaceful silence.

It would be fairly short-lived, Ky knew; the professor had gone to argue fundings for the print publication of a couple of Ky’s papers and would be back in a little while, steaming mad at the inconvenience of the world in general and the penny-pinching ways of the university in particular. Ky chose to consider it very nice of him to go to such lengths, although he privately suspected that the professor mainly did so to have an excuse to call the office for research and development a bunch of incompetent — insert words Ky was too polite to repeat here — cockmonkeys.

The professor, it seemed, occasionally needed to blow up at someone, the way other people develop an urge for a double down chicken sandwich or for screaming down the highway at two hundred miles per hour. Apparently, these blow-ups happened with such regularity that the R&D office had turned them into an initiation ritual for new interns.

At any rate, Ky was busy enjoying the calm before the storm and not worrying about the imminent extinction of the species he didn’t even know he was considered a part of, when there was a knock on the door. Not a hurricane of fists pounding on the door, or any rage-blind yelling for the blood — or at least the suspension — of Professor Badguy, but the kind of brisk, inquiring knock one could expect from an ordinary visitor, which ruled out pretty much everyone the professor knew. Most people, insofar as they didn’t tend towards apoplectic rage, found it easier to let themselves in and, if they happened to encounter Ky, apologize for their rudeness after the fact. Anyone who knocked with such civility was either lost or an uncommonly well-mannered delivery man, so it was probably in Ky’s best interest to answer the door before the professor could swoop down from the ceiling and eviscerate their visitor.

As he disabled the electroshock device and turned the door knob, he couldn’t help but wonder where the college choir had found such strong-voiced singers that they could be heard all the way from the other end of the campus, or when exactly they had started practicing in Latin.

On the other side stood a man in a light gray, very expensive-looking suit. It was the kind of suit that belonged to very important people, or at least to people who considered themselves very important, a custom-fitted Armani that looked like it had been whisked from right under the sewing machine to avoid the undignified touch of an in-store display rack. An amused smile was forming on the stranger’s oddly nondescript face as he studied the name plate next to the door, and Ky was pretty sure he was imagining it, but he could have sworn the man was humming along with the practicing choir under his breath.

“Yes? May I help you, sir?”

A standard greeting, though he couldn’t quite help the small spark of irritation that shot through him — the man had quite clearly realized that the door was open and that someone was waiting for him to introduce himself, but had for whatever reason decided to ignore both. Now, he took a second to blink before turning his smile upon his host, though Ky couldn’t shake the feeling that his failure at Method Acting 101 was entirely intentional. He’d never met anyone who had put him on his guard so fast, not even Miss (at her own insistence) I-no, and she was the first general of hell’s legions of succubi, at least according to Professor Badguy.

“Hello. I don’t believe we’ve met yet.” The stranger inclined his head. “I’m That Man.”

Perhaps it was not very polite to respond with a bewildered stare, but Ky had never met anyone who expected people to identify him by such a questionable moniker, either. “…Who?”

“That Man,” the stranger repeated as if it were perfectly obvious.

Ky frowned. “I’m sorry, but you will have to be a bit more specific than that. Sir.”

“Ah, my mistake.” Still smiling, the stranger shook his head and produced a business card from his breast pocket. “Thaddeus Mann. BlueDyne Enterprises.”

Ky frowned harder as he accepted the card, which indeed proclaimed its owner to be Thaddeus Mann of BlueDyne Enterprises on 6425 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, next to a pale red logo resembling an upside-down dragonfly.

“And you must be the wunderkind I’ve been hearing so much about. Ky Kiske.”

“I don’t like that term, Mr. Mann,” Ky said in a voice that wouldn’t melt butter. “And I’d appreciate it if you could state your business plainly, since I have to keep an eye on my cultures. If you’re here to see the professor, I suggest you reschedule your appointment for another day.”

To his surprise, That Man started laughing. “Alright, I see now. I see why he keeps you around. From her description, I thought I’d be plucking a harmless little daffodil.”

“Whose description?” Ky asked, his tone suggesting that the butter would soon find itself the very first object in the universe to achieve absolute zero. He didn’t like these attempts at unsettling him, and he liked infinitely less that they were starting to work. “…You’re talking about Miss I-no, aren’t you.”

“Miss?” That Man raised an eyebrow. “My, she really loves that naughty teacher routine, doesn’t she. Ah well, no matter. She was kind enough to inform me that this department has bred a very promising upstart in biochemistry, so, in the interest of my company, I simply had to nip down here and see for myself.”

Ky wasn’t quite sure in what world a four-hour drive could be considered “nipping,” but decided to let his dubious expression speak for itself. “If you’re looking for a consultant, I’m sure Professor Badguy will give your offer due consideration.”

By which he meant “perforate the proposal in a particle accelerator, then fire its sad subatomic remnants into the sun,” but all the practice in courtesy lies made this one roll rather smoothly off his tongue. The professor thought about as much of doing consultation for corporate undertakings as he thought of decaffeinated coffee and intelligent design, which was to say not much, which was to say nothing at all, and God help you if you were fool enough to mention it in his presence. In his opinion, freelance science consultants got paid to have their words twisted in the annual budget report, and non-freelance science consultants were a bunch of eels so slippery they could slide all the way to the Cayman Islands with their tax-free bank accounts on nothing but the seats of their pants.

That Man seemed to know as much, though, because he laughed again. “Oh goodness, no, the only thing Frederick does is consult asses out of doors. No, my company is rather more interested in nurturing promising little sprouts.”

Pursing his lips, Ky found himself experiencing a strange bug in his politeness module, compelling him to simply shut the door in his visitor’s face. It was the kind of solution the professor would have gone for (plus-minus some flamethrowers or machine guns on legs), which was to say it wasn’t a solution at all, and Ky had an inkling that a closed door would be about as likely to deter That Man as three a.m. was likely to deter an aggressively enthusiastic mariachi band.

Besides, as annoying as it was to be referred to as someone’s pet floristry project, he was also starting to get fed up with all the secrecy surrounding Professor Badguy. Under normal circumstances, he would have considered the matter entirely too personal to pry into, but the strange characters that kept popping in and out of the professor’s life had the unfortunate tendency to extend whatever grudge they were holding against the professor to Ky, such as the engineering teacher with the cowboy hat, who had made it into a habit to appear in the secretary’s office whenever Ky had to go there on business, and who would watch his dealings with the intern as if Ky might suddenly do something potentially scarring or, at the very least, utterly rude, like insult three generations of her family. In the interest of peace, justice and diplomacy, Ky decided, it was high time he found out what was going on so he could at least reassure people that they had a complaint box now, even if it spent most of its time being on fire.

“‘Frederick’?” he asked, tilting his head and widening his eyes for the little extra bit of adorable bewilderment that caused a lot of people to misclassify him as harmless. Although the man in front of him had more than likely graduated from Dewey, Scruem & Howe (and was probably putting the “dick” in “valedictorian”), he also seemed to have decided that he didn’t mind carrying around a stepladder for that high horse, which made him considerably more inclined to dismiss anything smaller than five foot two that was desperately hoping for a growth spurt.

“Are you and the professor acquaintances?”

This time around, he even managed to pronounce “acquaintances” without sounding like he was inquiring about the victim of a gruesome strangulation attempt, now that he knew that the majority of the professor’s acquaintances considered themselves to be so simply because they either didn’t mind living dangerously, or because they were working on a rather promising anger management study and had built their entire career around him.

This was obviously the question That Man had been waiting for, because he chuckled warmly. In the background, the voices of the practicing singers hitched for a moment, before awkwardly segueing back into the chorus.

“Hmm. Coating the football stadium with astroglide doesn’t quite fit the bill for ‘acquaintances’, I think. Then again, I’m not sure what it would fit. The equivalent of second base, probably.”

“I… what?” Ky said, and this time, he didn’t have to fake being confused.

“It was one way to alleviate the occasional tedium of student life,” That Man said, tapping his chin. “I’m pretty sure some pranks made it into a couple of yearbooks. Pressure cooker auditorium? Carnivorous vending machine? Night of the Walking Dead at the MedCenter?”

When Ky shook his head, infinitely less surprised by the professor’s apparent choice of a hobby, he added, “Actually, if memory serves, Fred made it into the national news that one time, even. Public hearing. Very dramatic. He’s good with that when he wants to be.”

Excuse me?”

“Funny story, that. He’d tell it better than I could,” That Man said, waving his hand dismissively. “…Actually, probably not. What’s his syllable count these days?”

Ky decided that there was no way to frown hard enough at that particular bit of information. He’d never heard of any hearings, public or otherwise, but he had noticed some odd gaps in the library’s yearbook collection, filled with little piles of debris that, come to think of it, looked a whole lot like ash. “It’s just fine.”

The professor’s syllable count was, indeed, just fine, but it was only fine if you happened to be Ky or a researcher studying speech development in adults. Mostly everyone else had taken the triple increase in Sol’s daily word quota for the sign of the end times it surely was, and had begun glancing nervously towards the sky to make sure the cosmos was still in its proper place and not hurtling towards them in a screaming fireball at a trillion miles per hour.

That Man seemed to think so, too, because he squinted in surprise. “Oh, is it, now? Funny, that. Fred was never much of a social butterfly, even before he ended up here.”

Ky kept himself from echoing the phrase, held in check by the unwelcome realization that while their visitor was evidently disinclined from regarding him as a particularly sensitive variety of garden plant, he also seemed to want Ky to keep asking questions.

The scientist in him was annoyed by the realization. The lawyer had to applaud. The newfound shoulder devil had given up on suggestions of door-slamming and was now recommending bolt cutters.

That Man seemed to notice he wasn’t going to take the bait, because he shook his head. “Ah, do forgive me. It’s hard to be around this place and not get swept up in a bit of nostalgia.”

He reached for his briefcase, allowing the choir a brief pause to build up to a crescendo, and pulled a set of documents from within.

“Allow me to present you with a proposal.”

There is an age-old conundrum surrounding the question, “If a unicorn wanders into a snare and no one is there to hear it, do the psychic waves of its distress summon a virtuous hero to save the day?” It is a conundrum primarily of interest to unicorns, who have to deal with the predicament in the first place, and in this case, they would have been very disappointed to learn that the answer was a resounding no.

The answer was no because Sol Badguy was not especially virtuous and also a little past the age of the average RPG hero (he was, in fact, this close to being considered legally dead in Japan). Besides, the unicorn in question had once trained to be a lawyer, which meant that it was not only quite difficult to distress, but also perfectly aware of the many applications of Tesla coils which exempted their operator from being held accountable.

Now it just so happened that although Sol was not attuned to the waves of non-existent unicorn distress, he did hold the Olympic gold medal in bastard detection. It was a talent he owed in part to his own proficiency in bastardry, and in part to his absolute pitch, which meant he was currently weaving through the busy hallways with the picture of a smirking church choir in his head.

The last time he’d seen an image of a smirking church choir had been the day IT had happened, and while it was always possible that someone was breaking in the newly formed congregation of Absolute Asshole Adventists down the street, as he swerved into the corridor leading to the science wing, Sol was dreadfully certain of two things.

One, that he had, in a bout of terrible carelessness, forgotten to restock the lab’s disproportionately large supply of liquid nitrogen. And two, that the universe was right behind him, twirling the keys to his car.

The laws of physics state that every action prompts an equal and opposite reaction. This is broadly true. The laws of physics do not, however, account for denying said opposite reaction an outlet for something close to fifteen years, which might help to explain why That Man suddenly found himself slamming skull-first into a wall.

In retrospect, self-restraint would have been option. Self-restraint, a welding torch, and an hour-long mixtape of “Ice Ice Baby,” which would have given him the added pleasure of watching the bastard try to set the fire-proof interior of his car ablaze in a last-ditch effort to shorten the torment.

As it was, Sol had to make do with the impact of human cranium against cheap wall plaster, which, while not nearly as poetic, wasn’t altogether unsatisfying.

Dimly, he could hear the shrieks and clatter as passersby made desperate leaps to safety, and the crunch of plaster when he tightened his grip. Someone was shouting close to his ear, which, upon later reflection, turned out to be very reasonable things like assault charges and blood pressure, but for once, not even the small, underdeveloped voice of reason in the back of his mind felt inclined to listen.

He was going to wring the bastard’s neck until his eyes popped out of their sockets, and he was going to do it it until he gave himself a repetitive stress injury.

“My… my, what a welcome.”

Somehow, the dispassionate amusement in that tone rang as clear as it had on that fateful day, despite the fact that he had his elbow pressing up against the bastard’s throat.

/What’s wrong, Fred? Don’t care for the responsibility?/

“You… never could go… five minutes… without making a scene.”

Somewhere in his head, he had an answer to that, consisting of a middle finger, a power drill, and a parade of curses arranged in rhyming couplets, but all that left his mouth in the real world was a long, guttural growl.

“Sir, what’s gotten into you?!”

A hand on his arm, trying to keep him from cutting off the bastard’s air supply, but he refused to budge.

“Sir, stop that! You’re rendering yourself liable to prosecution!”

Sol didn’t reply, but kept watching the face on the end of his elbow, which, despite its increasingly purplish color, was still watching him with that same unbearable smugness from fifteen years ago.

“Sir! I assure you, we do not have the legal funds to deal with such a case, unless you’re willing to cut back on your coffee.”

It took some effort to tear his glare away and level it at the thing instead, which stared back with unflinching seriousness, wielding the unforgiving logic of the numbers. The air crackled. So did the plaster. Nobody moved, except for the apparition of a strange Japanese man, who was clutching his electric guitar with bated breath.

After a long moment of silence, Sol let out one final growl and stepped back, leaving the bastard room to crumple into a wheezing heap, which, infuriatingly enough, he did not do. He merely coughed, straightened his tie, and began brushing out the wrinkles in his suit.

Unseen, the apparition of the strange Japanese man collapsed in disappointment.

“My goodness, how little has changed.” The bastard picked up his briefcase, and began brushing it off with the same exaggerated care. “You always did need people looking out for you.”

“I wouldn’t worry about charges,” he added, turning to address the thing, which was staring from one to the other like it was trying to figure out how to keep the two live wires in a bomb from touching. “That’s just good old Fred’s way of saying hello. Not sure I’d call that syllable count ‘just fine,’ though. Then again, reunions are supposed to choke you up, aren’t they?”

“Fuck. off .” Sol bit out, well aware that he was just wasting his breath. The universe had gotten what it came for and had already swaggered off, perfectly happy to let fate and her sister payback handle the fallout.

“That’s cold, Fred. And after I came all this way just to see you.” The bastard smiled the kind of toothy smile that made Sol want to slug him in the face, just to see him try and talk past a mouthful of dislocated teeth. It wouldn’t hurt him for long, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt his wallet in any way, but again, this was all about the laws of physics and not about pay-off.

The bastard seemed to realize what he was thinking, because he shook his head. “…Actually, no, not quite. I don’t need to give you special invitations. You know my door is always open for you.”

He nodded meaningfully towards the thing. “This is BlueDyne’s philosophy, you see. We are interested in and willing to support the raw talent, no matter the personality attached to it. Individuality is where innovation comes from, after all. And live entertainment.”

“Shut the fuck up and leave.”

“Before you’ll do… what exactly? I know you, Fred. You’re all bark and no bite.”

Just a punch. Just a punch was all he needed, and then he could take his sweet time figuring out where he’d get a vat of teflon and enough rocket fuel to fire a hundred and eighty pounds of asshole into the sun.

“See?” His plan for a better world must have shown on his face, because the bastard smirked, giving the thing a meaningful nod. “From this, you’d think he’d be all id, but then Fred picks the oddest times to develop a superego.”

There really wasn’t anything keeping him from lunging that remaining distance and reducing the world population by one — the world had shrunk down to the maelstrom of his own fury and its target, eclipsing logic, reason, and the good dozen mobile phones working to load Twitter and Instagram. The balance of the force would finally be restored, and all he needed was to—

“Think of the coffee!”

Sol blinked, his rage-soaked mind momentarily unsure what coffee had to do with anything. The maelstrom eased up a bit, leaving him to realize that there was an inconveniently placed object blocking his path, or rather blocking his fist, and that it was short, blond, and trying to do the blocking with its face. Its stupid, wide-eyed, earnestly imploring face.

With the fist stalled an atom’s breadth away from its nose, the thing swallowed. “Sir…”

Sol stared back, for the first time in his life disconcerted at the thought of causing collateral damage — so disconcerted, in fact, that it took an obnoxious clucking noise to remind him that the bastard was still there, and, unfortunately, still very much in one piece.

“You know, Fred, you might want to do something about your impulse control. Not everybody’s as understanding as I am. I can only do so much to keep you out of trouble.”

He cast a glance around the bend of the corridor, which was beginning to fill with the sounds of the descending gossip vultures and the determined jog of the campus police. After a pause that existed solely to remind Sol of the full extent of his near-misfire, he turned towards the exit, secure in his knowledge of paragraph forty-seven of the supervillain rulebook, which states that the villain never has to worry about protecting his back during a dramatic departure, because a bumrushing hero would just look pathetic.

In the doorway, he turned back to meet the thing’s eyes, and tipped his nonexistent hat. “It’s been a pleasure. You know where to find me, should you change your mind.”

If there had ever been a time when it would have been useful to know how normal people reacted to nearly being falcon-punched by two-hundred pounds of angry Kodiak bear, it was certainly now. Ky suspected a nervous breakdown was probably in order, maybe a newfound aversion to shaggy rugs, but found neither option to be particularly conducive to resolving the situation.

At least, he would have dearly liked a cup of tea before he had to try and placate the campus police, who were a lot less eager to do their duty once they learned just whom they would have to approach for questioning. In fact, they seemed downright relieved to be talking to Ky, taking notes with the kind of exaggerated care that suggested they had no idea how to tackle the incident, and were hoping not to be forced to tackle its instigator. At least not without flame-retardant suits. And armor-plating for delicate places. And a couple of cattle prods. All of which they were going to put on order right now, expect us to be back in two weeks, thank you and have a nice day.

Instead of taking this as the cue to start fearing for his own safety, though, Ky was exactly one part worried about the potential ramifications of the incident, and four parts worried about the professor himself, which didn’t leave a lot of room to worry about anything else. By now, Ky could safely say that he had seen the professor’s moderately unhappy reaction more times than any insurance company in the city cared to count. For Professor Badguy to forego the precision lasers, noise cannons and the many uses of angry raccoons in favor of punching someone… well, most people wouldn’t have touched that incident with a barge pole covered in exploding puffer fish, but by now, it was safe to say that Ky wasn’t most people.

Armed with a cup of espresso (with lots of cream to soothe frayed nerves), he made his way to island of pestilence and chaos, where the professor was bracing himself against a shelf, drawing deep breaths.

“Here, sir.” Ky set the cup down in the one spot on the desk that always remained clean and free of face-melting acids, but got no reaction. The professor had never refused coffee before, not even when he was grading independent research assignments, which, according to him, were the [expletive deleted] floodgates on the [expletive deleted] Aswan dam of insultingly incompetent laziness and deserved to be [expletive expletive expletive deleted] into the sun and [expletive deleted] sideways.

After a minute of silence, Ky decided to press on. “Sir, who was that?”

No answer.

“He said you used to be students together. That you were… friends.”

At this, the professor stiffened and shot him a baleful look from the corner of his eye.

Ky sighed. “Sir, please. I understand if you don’t want to talk about it, but I do think I’ll be able to help better if—“

“None of your fucking business,” the professor ground out, causing Ky to take an involuntary step back.

The professor had never sworn at him before. Well, alright, the professor had sworn at him plenty of times and in several languages, but never in a tone of voice that suggested Ky should stop asking if he liked his internal organs all lined up and in working order. There were any number of personality quirks Ky was willing to put up with, from choleric coffee critics to socially inept social workers, but he hadn’t grown up to be a fifteen-year-old ward of the state by letting himself be intimidated into silence.

“Pardon, but I do believe it is my business, sir. I’m the one who handles the complaint box, I’m the one who has to draft up letters of apology, I’m the one who has to lie for you when there’s trouble, and I’m the one who gets to deal with all the after-hour visits by furious strangers who seem to think it’s okay to knock me down a peg because I’m not six feet of poorly controlled temperament. The least I deserve is a heads-up when the arrival of some random person means I’ll also have to deal with you!”

Ky let out a breath, willing his fists to unclench. “I’m sorry, sir. That wasn’t what I—“

For a moment, a glimpse of something indecipherable flitted across Professor Badguy’s face, before it was buried once again under a glare of such animosity that Ky found himself direly wishing for a heat shield.

“Get out.”

“Sir, that’s not—“

“Get. out.” the professor repeated in an even lower voice, pushing back from the shelf.

“Look, you can’t just throw me out because you’re—“

The professor took several steps forward in a manner that suggested he could, and he would, and if Ky wanted to be spared the indignity of being tossed out by the scruff of his neck, he would keep backing up towards the door and feel a very intense regret over leaving his taser at home. It wouldn’t have prevented things from escalating into a scuffle, but it would have given him a sound basis for an argument.

As it was, his heels hit the doorstep, and crossing over it seemed to appease the professor’s need to defend his personal space because the glare abated slightly, allowing Ky to catch a glimpse of a man who was very angry, and very tired, and very tired of being very angry, but stopping was out of the question because, well, what else was there to do.

And because he had seen it, and the professor knew he had seen it, his vocal cords couldn’t even get past the first syllable of a reparation attempt before the door slammed in his face.

Arms at his sides, Ky stood there, trying to comprehend what he’d seen and slowly realizing that the lock hadn’t clicked shut, and there were no hammering noises coming from inside, and the door knob wasn’t starting to glow red hot from a soldering iron. The professor hadn’t even tried to confiscate his keys, and that was precisely the reason why Ky could absolutely not go back inside.

After a while of listening to the silence, he lifted his hand and quietly rapped his knuckles against the door. “I’m… going to need my notes, sir.”

There was no reply from within, but after a moment the door pulled open a crack and his backpack dropped at his feet.

“…Thank you, sir.”

The door closed again.

Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Ky picked up his bag, straightened his tie, and, after a last look back, marched off in the direction of the campus café. If the professor thought things were going to end like this, he was sorely mistaken.


A/N: Oh lookit, we found the plot. It only took about six months. XD Anyway, C&C is most welcome!

Notes for the bored:
- Yep, Firefly and Terminator. Of course.
- That Man's address is the Google HQ in Pittsburgh, which looks rather remarkably like an evil lair.
- Funnily enough, the domain abbreviation for Cayman Islands is Ky. Yeah.
- Yeah, Johnny isn’t exactly wearing a cowboy hat, but meh. Who cares.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 11th, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC)
I love this so much.
Nov. 19th, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you! (sorry for the reply delay; I have a major backlog of everything LJ-related right now OTL)
Jan. 16th, 2013 03:49 am (UTC)
PLOOOOOOOT. That ends in a cliffhangers. *wilts like a wilting flower* But I love how Ky's not going to take this lying down! He's going to figure out what happened and then kick butt. Right? ;D
Jan. 17th, 2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
*laughs* I have to provide people with some incentive to keep reading, right? XD
Mar. 16th, 2013 01:55 pm (UTC)
this is a really good fic, I was guided by nostalgia of sol and ky then ends up here. I really love the humorous bits and I actually squealed by the cute.

Mar. 26th, 2013 01:00 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you! And I apologize for the late reply. I hope you'll find something you like in the archives, too. :)
Mar. 30th, 2013 04:25 pm (UTC)
I am back here to tell you I've found your ffnet account when I was googling for fic on my phone haha. I am really REALLY liking how you write all these fanfictions. In writing Sol, especially. I was floored when I was reading one of your older fic (One Sweet Moment Aside) along with Sheer Heart Attack on my player.

And then this AU fic, which is incredibly funny, I can't take it. I'm gonna dig out my PS2 and play Guilty Gear again to refresh everything.


Apr. 1st, 2013 05:05 pm (UTC)
*laughs* Yeah I've kind of got my fic all over the place, but the place where it all gets collected is LJ.

I'm really glad you like that one. I'd been wanting to do something with Sol and his Queen ways since forever, but the story that eventually came out of it was pretty different from the one I'd originally thought I'd write.

Hee, thanks! That makes me happy. I'll do my best to write more soon!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )