|If I Never Knew You
Author: HeroineHiding PM
When Dr. Nero makes a rash statement and wishes that he were no longer a teacher, a mysterious figure shows up, and takes him on a journey where he sees exactly what the world would be like without him.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure - Maximilian N. - Chapters: 9 - Words: 23,504 - Reviews: 72 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 06-09-12 - Published: 01-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7782659
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There were days when Dr. Maximilian Nero hated his job.
Today was one of them.
He had endured through the first half of the day without complaint, despite the toe-stubbing, cold shower, missing clothing, lack of underwear, burnt tongue, meager meal, hectic teacher meetings (four in all), misbehaving students, mysteriously vanishing lesson plans, glitch in the computer systems, emergency evacuation of the technology lab, destroyed lunch, and of course, the many near death experiences.
Now, though, he was beginning to wear thin. After all, he was only human, albeit one with more extraordinary talents and cash than the average street-goers, and was just as capable of having a rotten day.
This was beginning to feel like the most stressful event of the day yet.
Nero had spent the past forty five minutes attempting to explain a rather important lesson to the new intake of Alphas, but they did not seem to be understanding, much to his frustration. Half of them were staring blankly at the screen, practically on the verge of falling asleep, and the other half were passing notes, giggling and not paying much attention to the video being projected onto the screen. Nero groaned to himself, almost afraid to wonder if his day could get any worse. At least he could find consolation in the fact that this was the last class he was teaching that day. And that the fact that none of them had taken notes would give them all big, fat zeroes in the grade book when it was time for them to turn their notes in. Yes, Nero would enjoy that when the time came.
"Sir?" Otto Malpense poked his head into the classroom door. Nero looked up. A few of the other students did as well, recognizing the elder student as someone who was a bit of a legend around the school.
"Er… Raven was wondering…"
"I didn't finish asking."
Otto left, looking quite confused. Nero, though, knew exactly what the question was anyway. Or… he thought he did. They had had an argument about it earlier that morning, in fact. The details were actually rather fuzzy by now, but he could remember yelling, and saying no then. He figured that he probably hadn't changed his mind in the few hours since he had last seen her. Oh well.
Nero stared at the digital clock in the lower right hand corner of his computer screen, willing the little numbers displaying the school's time to move faster. He had already dictated that the entire class would be serving three detention sessions with Colonel Francisco, and assigning them four was something Nero would have loved to do. The only thing holding him back was the fact that traditionally teachers were responsible for taking care of the detentions they had assigned. He didn't want to give Francisco four surprise detention sessions without any warning. Nero very well knew that all of the teachers had their own things to do, and spending their time punishing students was no one's favorite job. In fact, he would have been giving them detention personally, if it weren't for the meetings and other business-related activities that he had lined up for the day, and really, the rest of the week. Lucky for them.
Suddenly, Nero had an idea. An evil idea. He rather liked the thought of it. It wouldn't require much effort by any of the teachers, and it was sure to be effective. After all, teenagers were quite fond of the stuff… and it was completely within his power to enforce it.
Then again, they had calmed down quite a bit.
Still… It was a very nice idea. Nice in the sense that it would bring misery and disappointment to each and every student sitting in the classroom.
Nero's mental debate, though, was solved, when the first spitball flew. Nero had always had a particular animosity towards spitballs. They disgusted him. Slimy, germy wads of paper flying around the school. Disgusting. He absolutely would not have it.
"That's it," he said coldly, pausing the video. "Your class has dessert privileges revoked until further notice."
A few of the students' expressions remained impassive, but he could tell, one way or another, that his words had had an effect on all of his pupils. A few students slumped down, a few stared at him with anger and loathing, a few started whispering frantically to their friends.
"Silence!" Nero barked. "Or you'll have worse taken away."
The Alphas stopped speaking immediately, all their eyes trained obediently on the Smartboard screen. Nero unpaused the movie, quickly emailing the director of the kitchen staff before returning his gaze to the small clock in the corner of his computer screen. After ten minutes, the bell rang.
MWAH! MWAH! MWAH!
Nero had never loved the sound of the trumpet blaring more than he had in that instant. The students rushed out of the classroom, leaving Nero alone in the classroom. Nero sighed, partially in relief, partially in exhaustion. He began gathering up his supplies and empty coffee cup. He waited for the bell to ring again before he dared to venture out into the hallways—he had had enough dealings with unruly students for the day. Or at least a few hours, if it came to that. Nero hurried up to his office, stopping for a brief moment to refill his mug.
As horrible as his classes had been, the pile of paperwork sitting on Nero's desk looked almost more daunting than the students. Nero bravely took his seat in the enormous, black leather swivel chair, taking a sip of coffee and beginning to sift through the work he had laid out in front of him.
Pile one, reports. Nero always disliked reading reports. Reading summaries of his employee's incompetence was more infuriating than anything else. He demanded the best, and yet somehow some idiot always managed to take best as another word for minimal effort. People died when things like this happened. People died when someone was careless. Sometimes Nero felt like he was the only one who could see how disastrous mistakes could be. One by one, Nero read through the reports, signing them and returning them to their file in the out basket, where someone would bring them back to the archives were such documents were kept. To his slight relief, there were no reports of death, although if there had been, he would have known about it already. Still, it was nice to see the proof laying out on his desk. By the time he was done, Nero was in an even worse mood than he had been in before. All the same, he pressed on.
Second pile, finances. What needed to be repaired, who needed a pay raise, who needed a pay cut, bills being due, who was paying their loans this month. Even with the extensive classes on the subject of money, most of the students didn't understand how much money and resources it cost to run this place. For them, blowing up a section of the school meant a month's worth of detentions. For Nero, it meant another check. He had known that running a school would be expensive, but sometimes the amount of damage a group of teenagers could do could surprise even him.
Piles upon piles of paper appeared to materialize in front of Nero. Slowly but surely, the papers in out basket began to pile up, and the little pile gave Nero a small twinge of satisfaction. His brain was quick to remind him that there would be more tomorrow. Nero glanced at the time. Nearly two hours had passed. He had finished just in time to prepare for the meeting he had with a few science and technology teachers in fifteen minutes.
Or, he would have, had a guard not dragged in a boy wearing a blue jumpsuit.
"Excuse me, sir," the guard said. "He was found attempting to sabotage some equipment for a sports match. Apparently it was very serious. Colonel Francisco would like immediate permission for a red-level offense."
"It depends," Nero purred. He directed his gaze at the struggling boy. "What did you do, Mr.…?"
"Hadley. And I didn't do nuthin'!" the boy insisted. "It was just an electric plug! Or two. Or ten. In the water… With knives."
Nero gave Hadley a stern look. Just another example of someone who didn't understand fatal mistakes. Yes, the other team would have been eliminated, but so would have Hadley's… permanently.
"Permission granted," he said, tapping a few keys on his computer to allow Francisco the permissions to take care of the student as necessary.
"This school is stupid!" Hadley shouted as he was forced in the direction of his punishment. "Nothing's important! You don't teach us anything!"
Nero rolled his eyes, but he didn't really mean it. For a moment, a flicker of doubt passed over his face, but after a moment, it was gone. He glanced at the time again. Five minutes had passed. Nero grabbed the materials he would be needing for the next half hour, accidentally knocking his partially filled coffee mug over. The remaining pool of coffee splattered onto Nero's clean, white shirt… along with his notes for the meeting. Nero audibly growled, righting the mug and looking over the damage. His shirt could be fixed, he merely needed to button up. His notes, on the other hand, were done for. Nero accessed the files from the computer, attempting to reprint the papers.
Or he would have, if the printer hadn't run out of ink.
Cursing under his breath, Nero printed the files at another computer, racing over to it and waiting for the papers to roll out. Normally, it wouldn't have taken long, if someone else hadn't been printing a particularly large document first. For what seemed like an exasperatingly lengthy time, Nero lingered next to the printer until the final page of his notes printed. He plucked them from the tray, hurrying out of the room and to the meeting room, where, considering his luck, the teachers were probably already waiting.
Indeed, everyone was waiting on him. Six sets of eyes watched Nero take his seat. Nero, ever the improvisational host, acted as though nothing had happened and began the meeting. Nero listened intently to what his fellow teachers had to say, but he became increasingly distracted as his Blackbox, located in his pocket, began to vibrate more and more frequently. Nero continued to ignore it, hoping that he himself was not vibrating too much as he recorded information in response to what the others were saying.
He was no longer able to ignore it, though, when his Blackbox began to buzz loudly. Annoyed, Nero pulled out the Blackbox, looking at the message displayed on the screen. He was needed by the council. Brilliant. He informed his colleagues that the rest of the meeting would be cancelled, rising and sliding his Blackbox back into his pocket. Nero hurried out of the room. He was still within hearing distance when he heard some of the other teachers say:
"Nero has an awful lot on his plate, don't you think?"
"He ought to slow down."
"Sooner or later, all this activity is going to catch up with him."
Nero turned the corner, pretending that he did not really care what they were talking about. He rushed into the meeting room, where everyone else was seated and apparently waiting on him.
"Max," Diabolus Darkdoom said curtly, obviously annoyed by his tardiness. "We've been waiting."
"I do apologize, but I believe that it said something about an emergency," Nero replied coolly. "So I suggest we get started, now."
Darkdoom, still miffed but realizing the truth of Nero's words, began to speak.
"There's been an offer made to this council in terms of resources," he informed the council. He began to elaborate all the details, which, although interesting and potentially helpful, did not seem entirely spectacular enough to merit emergency status.
By the time that the meeting was over, Nero was thoroughly put out. Of course, he knew that such discussions were important to the success of the organization, but honestly, he had a school to run too, and there were far more important "emergencies" that he needed to attend to at his own school.
Nero left the meeting as quickly as possible, accidentally running into Raven as he exited the meeting room.
"Watch where you're going!" Raven snapped, before realizing who exactly it was she had run into.
"Watch who you're talking to!" Nero retorted angrily. Both glared at each other angrily. The animosity continued to linger.
"Just shut up," Raven growled, before turning and walking off before Nero could say something else to her.
Nero, never one to miss the chance to have the last word, grabbed a pen from his breast pocket, throwing it in Raven's direction and hitting her squarely on the head with it. Without looking back, Nero walked back to his office, where more paperwork than before awaited him.
Nero cursed under his breath throughout the duration of his paperwork session, feeling quite behind and inexplicably angry. All the same, he pressed on, working well past dinner time and into the night. It was nearly nine when he finally gave up and decided to get a snack before going to bed for the night.
Nero didn't bother heading down to the kitchens, instead pulling out a sandwich from his mini-fridge and eating that instead. It was flavorless and dry, and Nero had to spit it out. Nero collapsed onto a chair, rubbing at his temples and reviewing the day.
"Nothing's important! You don't teach us anything!"
"Watch where you're going!"
"Nero has an awful lot on his plate, don't you think?"
MWAH! MWAH! MWAH!
"We've been waiting."
"Sooner or later, all this activity is going to catch up with him."
"Just shut up."
The thoughts clouded his mind, twisting everything he saw with the distorted images of today's antagonists.
"I wish I weren't a teacher!" Nero shouted at last. "I wish I had never done this."
"Wish granted," a quiet voice said from the doorway. Nero looked up, astonished, to find a figure about the age of sixteen years old leaning against the doorframe. He was wearing a hoodie, which hid his face, and a pair of jeans and some sneakers. Definitely not a H.I.V.E. student.
"Who are you?" Nero demanded, immediately on guard. "How did you get in here? Who do you work for?"
"You can call me Caesar," the boy said. "And you won't be needing those."
Indeed, Nero had been discreetly reaching for one of the few personal defense items he had on his person.
"Who… Who are you?" Nero asked again, now more confused.
"I said, Caesar," Caesar replied. "But that matters little to you, I'm sure."
"Who do you work for?" Nero's patience was running thin. He stood, his anger rising at this strange intruder who dared to challenge his strength and power.
"I don't work for anybody," Caesar replied casually. "Heck, the only person who can see me is you."
"Look, Max, can I call you Max?" Caesar said. "I grant wishes. So I have come to bring you your wish."
"You just said, direct quote here, "I wish I weren't a teacher, I wish I had never done this."" Caesar pointed out. "I am here to grant you your wish."
"I… But I… Uhh… Are you real?"
"Yeah. Something like that. Now come on, we don't have all night, you know!"
"Get up! Come on!" Caesar encouraged. "We've got places to go! People to see!"
"Oh, come on already. Let's get to the hangar, our flight is waiting."
"Dude, if you're going to ask about every single thing we're doing, it's going to be a long night."
"I just don't understand… Where are you taking me? And why should I trust you?"
"As said, I grant wishes. I am going to show you exactly what life would be like if you had never done any of what you've done," Caesar replied coolly. "And as for the trust thing… Well, considering I'm not real, and you won't be either in a very short period of time, I don't see much harm in it. Now hurry up!"
Hesitantly, Nero followed Caesar to the hangar bay, for once being completely ignored by absolutely everyone in the school who he passed. There was a helicopter waiting for them in the hangar. It was bright purple, and it occurred to Nero that a bright purple helicopter was not the best way to avoid attention. Still, he hesitantly followed Caesar onto the deck, and took a seat in the copilot's chair.
"Where are we going?" he asked.
"Where's your sense of adventure? Don't you want to be surprised?"
"I'm not really fond of surprises…"
"Alright, I'll give you this one, but then no more questions, okay? First stop, Laura Brand. Buckle up!"