I apologize to everyone who's already done the "detention" fic, particularly the "Kyo in detention" idea. I had already written most of this, and I didn't want to waste the work, so I'm sorry if I offend you. Normal disclaimer applies. I claim ownership over nothing but the choice and order of the words.
This was inspired by a colored manga picture. You can guess which one it is.
(Formerly part of "A Study of Faces")
"She did not speak to people as if they were strange, hard shells she had to crack open to get inside.
She spoke as if she were already in the shell. In their very shell."
They sit at the edge of their seats; their eyes are wide and staring, like animals lying in wait. Crouched and ready to bolt; to run.
Fingernails scrape against lacquered wood as they lean towards the clock, counting the seconds. Counting how much time before they sping, the muscles in their legs twitching under skin in anticipation.
The shrill, shrieking ring of the release bell lights a fire under the seats of the students and they rush up, pushing away at chairs and stuffing books and papers into bags. A droll hum of conversation dusts the air, a light buzz that irritates his nerves. She, on the other hand, is soothed; a lazy half-smile slides across her face before she gathers it up and puts it away. The rest of the class pulls together, like the tide, as slowly they shuffle out the door. Their footfalls echo in the halls.
"Hana, Kyo, are you sure you'll be okay?"
He doesn't want to be here. He wants to go home, to walk besides the girl with blue eyes and brown hair, to leave this place behind him. The girl across the room, the one with the private smiles, turns her head gently and flashes one towards her worrying friend.
"Kyo-san and I will be fine. We've both been here before, after all."
The hairs on Kyo's neck stand up and some sixth sense of his begins to itch. It's obvious that he doesn't like the place. Regardless, he hates that Hana takes the time to point this out to Tohru. It irks him.
"Are you sure? Hana, you have enough money for the subway, right? Kyo, you're not bothered by walking home alone? Because if you are, I can sta- ."
Another boy, Yuki Sohma, puts his hand on her shoulder, silencing her rambles. She looks up quickly and blushes in shame when she realizes what she had been doing. He chuckles under his breath. So like her to do such a thing.
"Kyo and Hana-san will be fine. I'll be at my student council meeting if anything happens. Besides, Uo-san is waiting for you downstairs. You shouldn't keep her."
Throughout Yuki and Tohru's conversation, Kyo's eyes darken to ruby. Hana observes. She doesn't say a word.
After exchanging a few words, Yuki walks out and Tohru waves goodbye. Kyo and Hana turn their heads, shifting their bodies wordlessly to get a better view from the windows on the side of the classroom. The streets, the empty parking lot, and a great expanse of sky can be seen through the glass. Below, Tohru walks side by side with her tall blonde companion.
Kyo visibly relaxes; his shoulders slump haphazardly as he swings his foot up, balancing himself precariously in his chair, stretching his arms. Hana folds her hands in her lap, her expression soft and sleepy as she watches the clouds move.
They settle into their thoughts but a teacher opens the door and walks across the room. His gestures are measured, precise; he puts his briefcase on the desk, the small "click" of the lock strangely pronounced in the quiet of the building.
"My name is Mr. Nadako."
With fingers thick from use he leafs through the contents of the case, finally settling on a select few sheets that appear to interest him.
"Hanajima and Sohma. To the front of the classroom. Now."
They glance at him. Hana, whose hair is sleek in its braid, pushes away from her desk and stands, her steps silent as she passes through the rows of seats. Kyo watches her go; then, rather reluctantly, he crosses his arms over his chest and stiffly rises. Their eyes do not meet as they stand there, the teacher drawing a document from his stack.
"Hanajima Saki, grade 11, class 1-E. Do you know why you're here?"
Hana's gaze slides to focus on his face.
"Yes. I believe... my grades. They are considered unacceptable."
"Indeed." The teacher, a gruff man with brown hair and a thin mouth, slides a sheet with statistics printed in black and blue ink. Hana stares at it, her hands demurely clasped in front of her. Kyo's eyes flicker across her flat expression and the numbers on the paper before finally settling on the adult in front of him.
"We have also been recieving quite a few complaints. Hanajima-san, why are you threatening other students?"
She looks up from her reading, her eyes a lighter shade then normal. Her voice is hushed, as if lost in thought.
"They were being bothersome."
Mr. Nadako frowns and brings a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose. Eventually, he makes an exasperated sigh and a curt nod before moving on.
"Sohma Kyo, grade 11, class 1-E. You were in a fight during lunch this afteroon. One of the boys involved had to visit the nurse with a bloody nose. Do you realize the seriousness of your situation? The only reason you're here and not at home suspended is because nobody answered your phone when we called."
Kyo's hands curl into fists, his whole body tensing up; he presses his arms down into his sides as he diverts his eyes from the teacher's face. He doesn't know this man; he wonders why he's here, telling them this and that, when he obviously doesn't care. The stagnant silence carves deeper into the teacher's frown lines. A moment passes and it becomes obvious that the orange-haired student standing before him refuses to be intimidated. Mr. Nadako stands, his rough fingers splayed wide on the desk.
"Since the both of you seem a bit fixed in your ways, as your records so plainly show, the principal and staff have discussed each of your cases respectively and have agreed on a fair punishment."
Hana's eyes move away from the floor.
He jabs his finger at a particular line of text.
"You both are to go to the janitor's closet and use whatever you find there to make this room spotless. I'll be across the hall, so whatever noises you make that aren't related to progress will be dully noted."
"Now, here are the keys," he places a crowded bronze ring at the front of the desk, "and I expect your task to be finished within two hours. Any longer and I've been given permission to write both of you up for misconduct. So, are we clear?"
"Crystal," Kyo says. He's biting his bottom lip so hard he can taste the salty tang of blood.
With no further words, Mr. Nadako gathers his papers, including those with their names printed across, swiftly slipping them into his briefcase as he makes his way out of the door.
"GAH! That jerk! Thinks he can just- ."
Kyo stops short of his ranting when a small white hand brushes his shoulder.
"Come. We must begin if we wish to finish before sunset."
She's right, of course. It's already late in the afternoon; Tohru is probably at home, asking Shigure what to cook for dinner. Still, it bugs him. That man bugged him. His situation bugs him. She bugs him. In fact, everything about Hana bugs him. Her posture, her quietness, the way she stares that makes him want to curl up and hide. Then there are her 'abilities'...
"Kyo-san, stop dallying."
Kyo's eyes snap open; he wonders when he closed them. Hana is standing at the door, her eyebrows furrowing slightly in annoyance. It isn't until he feels a slight zap on his nose that he moves, hastily scooping up the keys from the desktop. They jingle against each other as he steps through the hall.
The steady slap-slap of her school shoes makes him tense. He's wondering how he's going to get through this ordeal; he's never been a particularly social person and there's no telling what could happen in the time it takes them to clean that blasted classroom. A shiver quickly shoots up his arms. He jabs his hands into his pockets, hunching over to shield his face from her scrutiny.
But it doesn't matter. Hana is looking straight ahead at the door with the small white sign that says "janitorial supplies". She turns on her heel, startling Kyo, and extends her hand palm up.
His eyes dart about as he clumsily hands them to her. He's trying to find something, anything, to keep from looking directly at her. He's skeptical of her restraint; he doesn't want to let her read his mind, or see his aura, or whatever it is that she does. Hana's fingers deftly file through the small brass devices, singling out the correct one after a moment's hesitation. The lock releases with a click and Kyo can't help but clench his muscles against the way the sound is louder then their breathing.
She hands him a bucket full of rags. Brushing her skirt back, she squats down to sort through the chemicals and solutions. He looks down at the top of her head as she gathers bottles about her in a cluster. The dark hair is clean and parted neatly down the center. Kyo steps back to give her room to stand, then grabs for a broom from behind the door. Hana puts the cleaning supplies in a larger bucket and takes the mop.
When they return, Kyo sneeks a look at the class across from their own. Mr. Nadako is sitting down, absorbed in the reading of some sort of book. Kyo sneers. He imagines taking him on and suddenly his mood improves.
A rustling sound turns his attention towards Hana. She's undone her long single braid and is swiftly and expertly remaking it into two. Her fingers are fast; before he can say a word she's already tied the customary black ribbons tight.
"You'll need to fix your hair as well, Kyo-san."
Confused, Kyo puts the bucket down on a desk and runs his free hand through his bangs.
"Why the hell do I need to so something with my hair? It's short enough; nothing will happen to it."
From her school case she pulls out two cloth bands, one white and the other an ashy violet. The darker one she ties around her own forehead. The white she grabs as she walks up to him, making him nervous with her proximity. She raises her arms to wrap it around for him but he quickly puts a hand on her shoulder to keep her away.
"I can do it myself."
A strange expression darts over her face but it's gone before he can recognize it.
He snatches the cloth from her and hastily brushes his bangs back from his face. While he's busy, Hana begins to sweep the sides of the classroom. He watches her for a moment; he is, after all, very reluctant to begin cleaning anything... regardless of the conditions.
It's very hard not to notice Hana for one reason or another. She' so quiet and still most of the time that she sticks out amongst their rowdy peers. He finds himself comparing her to his cousin, Yuki, though he doesn't find her nearly as infuriating, as haughty, or as excruciatingly better at everything that matters.
He looks up into purple.
"I would appreciate it if you would move those over to this side of the room." She motions towards the desks and chairs. "They're in my way."
While he carries the metal furniture back and forth, Kyo lets his mind stray to other matters. He wonders whether Tohru arrived home safely; he's pretty confident that she did. Uotani is a rough fighter despite her gentleness towards the girl and their strange, dark friend. He grunts as he stacks a desk atop another, taking a fleeting glance at the clock. He scowls when he realizes that Yuki's meeting is nearly over.
'Soon that dirty rat will be home, smiling at Tohru. Giving her compliments. Offering to help clean the house while they share quiet moments alone and- .'
Kyo looks up, shocked. The broom is casually resting in Hana's hand. She's pointing a pale finger at him, her eyes holding his and he's scared because he suddenly realizes... she's right. He is shaking. He takes a deep breath and leans over the last desk, his hands stretching out on the surface to steady him.
And she doesn't say a word. The air becomes so still that he can hear Mr. Nadako turning the page of his book, engrossed in his reading. As he pulls himself together, a strange thought trips through his mind. And that is... despite the quiet, he can't hear her breathing.
swish swish swish
She continues with her sweeping. Confident that he's calmed down, he stands straight and turns around. Her back is to him, but the strokes of the broom as it moves across the floor are slow and steady, fluid. Her braids swish back and forth in time with her movements. Kyo, at a loss for conversation, takes the remaining desk and gruffly puts it atop another. Sunlight from the windows filters through the lifted dust, a warm golden color falling across the room.
"You are awfully troubled today Kyo-san."
Hana can see the alarm on his face as brightly as the sun outside. She has learned over time that, of all the Sohma males she has met, Kyo Sohma has the most open face. Though this in itself isn't saying much; the Sohma family has a tendancy to be rather easy to read.
He pushes himself away from the stacks of desks and makes his way to the windows where he leans on a sill. Her eyebrow slides upward; it is quite unlike him to be this reserved.
"You've gotta stop doing that."
"That," his throws his hands into the air, "...that thing you do. Your mind wave- it's freaky, damn it!"
There. He said it. He reaches up and puts his head in his hands, sighs, then slowly drags his fingers down his face. When he finally looks up, she's smiling and the broom is resting in a corner.
She places a hand on her heart as she steps closer.
"Do I bother you, Kyo-san?"
A blush stains his cheeks and he turns away. He's thinking about the hours up in the mountains with his Master, the sweat and the strain that he went through to get to where he is today. He's thinking about how skilled his hands are; about how no matter what he does, it will never be enough. He thinks about all of that and how this girl in front of him, the one with the frightening eyes and dark braided hair, about how none of that matters.
Because she can take all of that away with a thought. Just a quick little thought zap. Suddenly his mouth is dry, his throat tight against the voice that is rising up.
"Yes. You bother me Hana. You really, really bother me."
He is the same shade as his eyes now. A vibrant red. She brings her fingers to her mouth to hold in her laughter.
So he sits there, feeling miserable and ashamed. His muscles twitch. He wants out; wants to jump out the window, run down the halls, feel the sting of exhaustion in his legs and arms. To forget that he's ever been called Carrot Top, or Stupid Cat, or Kyon-Kyon, or monster, and as his misery and frustration push against his chest in a tight little ball, he breathes heavier and heavier. Beads of sweat begin to dampen his collar.
The sound of running water draws his attention.
Hana is missing from the room. Finally, Kyo feels safe again. An itch creeps up his left arm, and as he's scratching it he takes a gander out the window. Traffic on the streets is thickening with people off from work. Overhead the sky is slowly melting from blue to a light pink.
He does not notice her return. She observes; does not say a word.
Like a statue, she's standing in the doorway, the bucket clasped in her hands. It isn't very often that someone openly admits to being afraid. She wonders what it is that they're hiding. She's sensed it before; some thin secret string tied to their thumbsa great length that wraps around the family, that family, those people.
But the Prince and Tohru... intriguing. And they're all so...
His head whips around and their eyes briefly meet. Even so, he's skittish and breaks the contact. A pity. She'd like to know more about this orange-haired boy, this fiery Sohma who seemed so lost amidst the graves. How long has it been? Weeks? months?
She puts down the bucket and tosses a rag that he easily catches. Her footsteps are light as she gathers bottles about her, mixing soaps and chemical solutions. Kyo's curious; now what is she doing?
"Pick it up."
She gestures to the corner where the broom is propped, beside it the mop. Resisting an urge to glare, he takes the mop, leaning his weight against it. His throat is tight and his thoughts are arrogant.
"So now what?"
"Now," she says. Her tone is light and slightly mocking. "Now you, Kyo-san, will clean the floor."
"But what will you be doing!"
Angry because he doesn't want to, but also because he knows he has to.
"I'll do the windows."
With nothing else to say, they roll up their sleeves and dive into their work. At first, Kyo is hopeful that maybe, just maybe, he can get through this damn experience with his sanity intact. The methodical swirls of the mop lull him into a daze, his boredom nearly tangible. He walks back and forth across the classroom. The spreckled tiles blur into one another until they become the same square.
Later, Hana steps back from the last window and picks up her bucket, ready to dump the filthy water out. The skin on her hands is pruned from suds and stubborn spots on the glass. She sighs and loosens her collar.
"I'm going out."
Kyo turns to look at her. Already, he's half finished with the mopping.
"Do you wish for something to drink?"
The uneasiness on his face flatters her ego. His awkward gait and clumsy movements amuse her further as he steps forward, digging for change in his pant's pocket.
"Uh, sure. Here, I'll pay for"
"That is not necessary. I have plenty of change for the both of us," and she shows him her handful of coins. "Just consider it a gift. For bothering you so."
Kyo's face is still burning when Mr. Nadako comes in. His hard eyes sweep across their progress, quickly assessing what's left to be done. He issues a stern warning about wasting time, inquires about "that girl's" whereabouts, and leaves with a nod and a curt huff of air. Kyo flips his back the finger just in time for Hanajima to open the door.
"This is yours."
She thrusts an energy drink at him.
He takes a taste. It's nice; kind of like a sour fruit smoothie. Kyo returns to the window sill. Hana seems to nod and then opens her snack. So he thinks about it and decides... he kind of likes this. The nice silence between them; so long as his head isn't being messed with, he figures he may just live to sleep tonight after all.
"I don't need to."
Kyo's eyes snap up. He stares at her; she meets his challenge as she carefully continues eating. Her expression is calm and maybe, kind of, sort of amused.
"What did you just say?"
"I don't need to."
"Yeah, but what do you mean you don't need to?"
The sound of crunching metal and Hana's diverted eyes make him look down; to his surprise, his empty can is a mess of smashed tin and left-over drops of drink. Hana's eyebrow flicks upward.
"You are very anxious. Why?"
The dull throb of his jaw pressing into the top row of his teeth diverts his attention, but only for a minute. He turns around and spits into the garbage can. She does not say a word.
There is a sharp rat-a-tat-tat as Mr. Nadako raps his knuckles against the open door, letting himself inside. His long strides carry him across the room, into every corner, as he inspects the quality of their labor. Kyo flexes his fingers; he has decided to hate this man, hate him as if he were a worthy opponent but not with as much respect. He steals a glance at Saki. She has swallowed her sarcasm, her loose shoulders; her glance is far away and her wrists are set at a stiff angle.
"You have done a reasonable job," the teacher begins. "If you wash the board and fix the furniture, then you have permission to leave. You must, however, check in with me to make sure that everything is as it should be."
He looked sternly between the two, turned on his heel, and left.
"We do not have much choice."
She must have moved while he wasn't looking. 'Yes,' his mind reasons, 'she must have. How else could she be across the room that fast?' He does not linger on this, however. Only casts her a withering look, rights his fallen sleeves, and grabs a drippy sponge from a nearby bucket of suds.
"Don't you ever talk like a normal person?"
She tips her head. He attacks the grime on the board with a fervor wrought from frustration, aggrivation, and the motivation to get home as soon as he can.
"What do you mean, Kyo-san?"
"I mean," he says, "why do you say things that don't make sense?"
Saki purses her lips to keep from smiling. She takes the other sponge, wringing it slightly with her fingers, takes a place beside him (much to his ire), and helps him scrub.
"I don't understand."
"Like hell you don't. You're smart enoughyou've got that wavey thing, that crazy power of yours. Why do you always have to creep people out?"
He presses his sponge hard against the plastic; small lines of dirt and water run down into the sill. Saki turns and finds a dry rag from out of nowhere. Without so much as a whisper she pushes his arm over her head, moving underneath it to clean away the sud trails and the residue in the grooves of the sill.
He pulls away. He is blushing. Her hand drags the cloth across the surface; lifts away the dirt; her face is upturned and staring and she is mouthing words that he does not hear. Too close. She is too close.
The sound is rushing in his ears and he's surprised because it sounds just like water moving far too fast but she's looking at him strangely like he's said something crazy.
But he isn't crazy, no he's startled and now she's looking worried and her eyes are wider then he's ever seen them, fully open and a shining shade of opal like two rocks jammed into her skull.
Too close. Breathe. Too close. Breathe, Kyo. Too close. She's too close. He'll change. She'll scream. Breathe.
"Kyo. Give me the sponge."
There is a wetness seeping through his shirt; the feeling shocks him out of his reverie. Kyo glances down at his hands, at his fingers curled like talons around the tiny, ruined sponge. He looks up. Saki's movements are slow, patient, cautious as she extends one of her pale hands out for the wretched ruined sponge. He stares at her palm. Tiny slivers, tiny lines running from here to there, crossing, bending; breaking like rivers of skin.
He gives her the sponge.
She points to a desk. "Sit down."
Her skirt swishes around her calves as she steps aside, allowing him to pass from behind the teacher's desk to get to the seat. He lets himself fall; as a result, his elbows slam haphazardly against the false wood. Kyo then proceeds to watch as Saki, gentle, quiet, scary, always courteous Saki, finishes the rest of the board by herself. She even drags the teacher's chair out to stand on when she fails to reach the higher areas.
And all the while his head is blank but for a few scattered thoughts. He wonders what Tohru has cooked for dinner. If Yuki has already told her about the secret behind the strawberries.
He's also wondering about the steely undertone, that slip of strength and power that was under a dark girl's breath as she commanded him to move away. It is the same power that Shigure has used in his pressence maybe but once or twice, the one that throws you so off guard that you have to listen and obey.
He wonders if she knows.
Saki has finished cleaning. She's gathered the bottles, the buckets and rags. She's arranged the shades so that the last slices of twilight cut across the room and momentarily blind his eyes. He swears he hears her laugh a little.
Now she's left, gone to get Mr. Nadako from across the hall. Kyo turns his head, stands up from the chair, and dusts from his shirt the dirt that isn't there. Walking over to the windows, he parts the blinds. The sky is very dark now, an indigo blaze of dark blue that's dotted with stars. Below him, the sounds of late traffic- cars honking, shoes slapping concrete, vendors screaming, cell phones ringing- drift up to his ears and tickle his senses.
Saki is back. Her hands are undoing the two braids that hang limp on either side of her head. Black wavy hair falls over her fingertips as they dart in and out of the strands.
"We may go now."
They walk side by side down the hall. Their slippers slap the linoleum out of step; there's at least a foot of distance between their shoulders, one and a fourth between their ears. Kyo scratches his mouth. Saki stares straight ahead. Neither says a word, and when they reach the locker room with their normal shoes and their things hidden away in small metal boxes, they don't look to see what the other is doing.
It's like this all the way down. Out the doors. Down the stairs. Across the grass.
They reach the gate and pause. When they continue, Kyo will go to the right, towards Shigure's house. Saki will go to the left towards the subway; there is a train that can take her away that leaves in twenty minutes. But they don't moveinstead, they turn to each other.
"Why do you have bad grades?"
"It doesn't matter. Why were you in a fight?"
He laughs a little. He get's it.
"It doesn't matter," he says.
She smiles. "Exactly."
He gives her a brusque nod and turns around to leave. Her voice, however, shoots out of the air clear and sharp, and he finds that he's yet to move an inch.
Saki startles him by suddenly appearing beside him. 'How did she... oh, screw it.' There is an odd luminescence in her face.
"Tohru-chan... she's fine?"
"Yeah. Tohru's all right."
"And you," she says, surprising him again, "you, Sohma-san, and Shigure are all right as well?"
He blinks, taken aback, before he manages to say, "We're good. Just fine."
For a moment, it seems as if she's about to accuse him. Her eyes narrow, then settle again in that half-asleep look that she uses to cover her thoughts. At last, a slow smile creeps across her face.
"I apologize, Kyo. I never answered your question from earlier. How rude of me."
Kyo blushes. He's flustered because this is the third time that his cheeks have burned, which is not good for his image. Saki crooks her finger at him, bending it in an invitation to lean closer.
So he does.
Her hand moves with great speed and rests itself behind his ear. He can't speak; can barely breathe because her fingers are so damn cold, even though she wears gloves all of the time outside of class. He knows this because Yuki once asked Tohru, who told them both. He also knows that it's getting harder and harder to stay still because she's close, so very very close.
Despite her cold hand, her breath is warm against the curve of his ear.
"I choose my words so that people will listen."
A long white finger with black paint over the nail taps the end of his nose in a teasing way. A girl with black hair, a black cloak, and lace hidden under her school uniform steps back from him, steps back all the way until she's forced to stop walking backwards. She takes a left: walks off towards the subway, towards a bus that leaves in fifteen minutes to take her away.
Kyo turns to the right and heads home.