Friday, December 1, 2000
Leofric sat cross-legged on top of a washing machine, munching on a Snickers bar and feeling more cheerful than he had in ages. There was a kind of freedom in being intentionally bad; he didn’t have to worry about whether he was going to mess up again, and as long as he didn’t think about the consequences, he didn’t even feel too guilty about it.p
Eriko really didn’t like it when he ran off, he’d discovered, and she’d given him a whole bunch of orders confining him to the suite. But it wasn’t until leaving Japanese class that he figured out a loophole: classes. She hadn’t given him any orders about skipping class. Presumably because, from what he heard, that was the one school rule you absolutely could not break.
So he was skipping class, of course.
He’d dropped his stuff off in Professor Pelletier’s classroom, slipped away like he was just going to use the bathroom, and left, down to his old room to grab a book and then to the laundry room, where he was pretty sure no one would think to look for him. At least not right away.
Leofric had almost gotten through the candy – and man, had he missed candy bars, those brownies on his birthday were the closest thing he’d had in weeks – when the door opened and Luke stepped in.
“Leofric.” His Mentor was not happy – but his Mentor was almost never happy, so that didn’t say much.
“Good morning, sensei.” Leofric smiled cheerfully, as if it was perfectly normal for teachers to frown at him in the laundry room.
“Good morning.” Luke wasn’t actually frowning, which was a surprise. By Leofric’s judgement, that meant he was actually in a decent mood. “You know you can’t skip classes.”
“I can’t?” Leofric put on his best expression of innocence.
Luke didn’t buy it. “You can’t. Come on, I’ve got to get you back to class.”
The got to caught Leofric’s attention, and he popped the last piece of Snickers into his mouth. “Who’s making you?”
Luke raised his eyebrows and his wings flared. “It’s my job.”
“That’s a good point.” It was a much more obvious answer than what Leofric had been thinking, which was, in retrospect, stupid. It’s not as though anyone was Keeping Luke. “Sorry, sir, but it’d be pointless if I started cooperating now.”
“Leo, you do realize I will phys…” Luke blinked at him. “What will be pointless?”
“Skipping class.” He smiled brightly.
Luke huffed in annoyance. “Leo, I can either drag you to class or you can come willingly.”
“Okay.” Leofric put his book down on the machine next to him; he wasn’t going to be able to run very well while carrying it. “Can you put this back in pod three, room six later for me?”
“…Yes. Of course.”
“Thanks.” And with that, Leofric got to his feet – on top of the washing machines – and danced back away from the door.
Luke huffed again, this time verging on an exasperated sigh. “Seriously, kid?”
“I’m committed to misbehaving now, sir,” he said cheerfully. “You’re gonna have to catch me.”
Luke swore under his breath, closed the door, and lunged.
Leofric was waiting for that and pulled all of his newly discovered speed and agility out to dodge to the side and across the gap, landing with a roll on the line of dryers. Luke flare his wings out in surprise – then he was coming again.
It wasn’t until the third dodge, where Luke scolded him for getting backed into a corner, that he realized it wasn’t just catch-the-delinquent. His Mentor, for whatever reason, had decided to turn this into an impromptu sparring lesson. Which Leofric decided to take full advantage of, putting everything into staying away and taking Luke’s advice in the hopes of using up the whole class period.
After several minutes of that, though, he started to realize that no matter what he did, Luke was staying solidly between him and the door. It wasn’t as though he didn’t realize Luke was a million times better at this than he was, and he was successfully skipping class, but if his goal was to be causing trouble…
As he backed up along a line of washing machines again, he had a thought. Luke had a good block going, especially with his wings, but he was still short. And Leofric had the advantage of high ground. If he was fast enough, maybe…
In a sudden burst of action, Leofric darted forward and jumped, aiming to clear Luke’s head and land on the laundry machines behind him. His foot touched down on the metal surface and he felt a thrill of success before a hand grabbed his arm, dragging him down – and before he could get his feet under him again, he was pinned.
“Damn,” Leofric panted, grinning up at Luke through disheveled hair. “I should skip class more often.”
“Tell you what,” Luke answered, “don’t skip class and I’ll teach you how to avoid that.”
“Yeah but that won’t make Er–” He barely caught himself, his mouth snapping shut on the sentence. Shit, he wasn’t trying to get her into trouble, just himself. Maybe Luke hadn’t noticed.
He noticed. “I thought I needed to go to class?” Leofric tried, hoping the deflection would be enough.
Amazingly enough, it was. “Damnit, Leo,” Luke grumbled, grabbing the back of Leofric’s shirt collar as he stood.
Leofric fought the whole way, planting his feet whenever possible and forcing Luke to literally drag him down the hall and up the stairs. His hair was a mess, his clothes were probably torn, and he was going to be one hell of a scene when they finally got to Professor Pelletier’s classroom again.
Eriko was going to find out.
Eriko was going to be furious.
The guilt stabbed through him, but it was getting to be familiar by now, and Leofric reminded himself sternly that making Eriko realize how much trouble he was causing was the point. She didn’t want him to cause trouble. She wanted him to look pretty. Useless for anything but looking pretty, she’d said.
Maybe he could go roll in some dirt, just as a final touch. The humor of the idea managed to distract him from the gnawing guilt, at least a little.
Luke shoved him into the classroom, saying something to the teacher as Leofric grudgingly shuffled to his seat. You don’t want to be here, Leofric, he reminded himself, and focused on playing up the annoyance for anyone watching. Gossip traveled fast, right? But people needed to see it to gossip about it.
Maybe half the class was watching him, their expressions ranging from amused to annoyed. The rest were studiously ignoring him, like they knew what was going on – what he was doing – and didn’t want to watch.
If it was him in their shoes, he wouldn’t want to watch, either.