Powder and Paint
The trouble with new students was that they didn't know anything. Forget knowing how to duel - these first-years didn't even seem to know how to behave in a classroom. Chronos sighed as he entered his office, bearing an armload of odds and ends, which he dumped onto his desk.
"They never learn," he muttered, as he began digging around under his desk.
Chronos kept a collection, one which he had been maintaining since he had become a teacher at Duel Academia, and by now, it was a sizeable collection indeed. Now he reached under his desk and pulled out a sizeable cardboard box, which appeared to contain everything under the sun. It overflowed with comic books, handheld video games, assorted items of makeup, hairbrushes, sunglasses, cellular phones, MP3 players, and other odds and ends. Chronos swept his latest haul into the box and shoved it back into place again. Some schools had a lost and found. Chronos had a found and lost: if he found one of his students playing with something instead of doing their work, they lost whatever it was, and it ended up in his box. The policy was that any student who lost something in this fashion could ask for it again at the end of the school term, but by then, they'd usually forgotten all about it. Chronos was rather proud of his collection of trophies. Just looking at them gave him a nice feeling of accomplishment; they were tangible proof that he'd been doing his job.
Unfortunately, his job description covered more ground these days than it had before. He was principal now (well, almost) and he had responsibilities. Among them was taking his turn as hall monitor. With Daitokuji gone, the school was a bit shorthanded, and not even Chronos was exempt from those sorts of duties. He left his office with a sigh. He'd thought that being a principal would mean he didn't have to deal with this kind of triviality, but authority was not all it was cracked up to be.
The halls were chaotic, as usual. Chronos waded through the crowds, shooting glares at any students he saw who were making trouble. He loved his job and he loved his students, but he wished they would behave once in a while.
"You! No dueling in the halls!" he shouted to a couple of boys who were squaring off next to the stairwell. "Miss Tanemura, that is not a regulation uniform! Put your jacket back on! Mr. Wakaouji, tone it down! People can hear you on the other side of the island! And you three - no running indoors! Go back and walk!" Chronos was enjoying himself. He liked having his orders obeyed.
He was distracted from his rounds by a bit of a commotion. People were shouting up ahead. Chronos broke from his dignified walk into a run, and reached the bottom of a staircase just in time to see an interesting sight. Two boys in yellow jackets were locked in combat, rolling down the stairs as they wrestled and nearly bowling over several students who were innocently trying to traverse the stairway. The boys bounced to the bottom and rolled apart, lying there winded for a moment before woozily sitting up and rubbing their sore extremities. Then they looked up and realized the principal was looking down on them.
"Well, well, well," said Chronos dangerously, "if it isn't Signore Marufuji and Signore Kenzan. What do you two think you're doing?"
"He started it!" said both boys in unison, pointing at each other.
"I didn't ask who started it," Chronos replied. "You do realize fighting is forbidden, don't you?"
The two of them started talking at once. It was hard to follow, but Chronos gathered that the two of them had been having some kind of dispute regarding which of them Juudai had promised to study with that evening, and neither of them seemed to be able to get his mind around the possibility that it was entirely possible that he might have intended to work with both of them. Chronos shook his head incredulously. He never would have guessed at the beginning of the boy's stay in Duel Academia that Juudai Yuki could have built up this kind of popularity. Even now that he had actually come to like the boy, it still amazed him that there were people fighting over his attention. Weren't boys this age supposed to fight over girls?
"This is inexcusable," Chronos declared. "You two are both coming to my office right now. March!"
Looking sullen, Shou and Kenzan got up and began marching. Chronos chased them into his office and shut the doors. He took his seat in the big leather chair and steepled his fingers, giving his unruly students what he hoped was an intimidating look.
"You two are in a lot of trouble," he said. "Both of you should know better! Signore Kenzan, you should be ashamed of yourself for fighting with someone half your size. As for you, Signore Marufuji, shame on you for fighting with a junior student! You have been in this school long enough to know better. You two are both Ra Yellow students, and there are standards that you should be living up to! Unless you both want to be demoted, I advise you to straighten up and start learning how to solve your differences peaceably, or..."
Chronos was interrupted by a knock on the door. A boy came in, looking somewhat frazzled.
"Principal Chronos, we have a problem," he said. "Manjoume is trying to paint the blackboards white again. Professor Kabayama says he can't work like this. Manjoume says his freedom of religion is being oppressed. Professor Kabayama says Manjoume should be expelled for defacing school property. Manjoume says he's not defacing it, he's improving it. Could you come straighten this out?"
Chronos sighed. "I don't know what's gotten into that boy lately. All right, tell them I'm coming." He got up from his desk and went to deal with the issue in Kabayama's classroom. He shot a look at Shou and Kenzan. "You two stay here and wait until I get back. I hope this won't take long..."
He left the room, and the two boys were on their own.
"What do you say we make a run for it?" said Kenzan.
"Are you crazy?" Shou replied. "We'll get in worse trouble than ever if we do that! We'll get demoted!" He hugged himself, as if trying to prevent someone from taking his hard-earned yellow jacket from him.
"Don't be a wimpasuarus," Kenzan retorted. "By the time he's done dealing with Manjoume, he'll have forgotten all about us."
"Fine. You run. I'm staying," said Shou. Wickedly, he added, "Maybe if you run and I don't, I'll get off easy and you'll get a detention, and I'll get to hang out with Aniki while you stay here and get punished."
"Grr..." For a moment, Kenzan looked furious. However, good sense apparently won out, because he changed his mind and relaxed. "Okay, so it wasn't my best idea ever."
"You can say that again!"
"Do you want to be pounded again?"
"You'd have to catch me first!" Shou replied.
Kenzan tried to grab him, but Shou was too quick for him, and dove under the principal's desk. Kenzan tried to crawl into the small space, but his broad shoulders made for a tight fit. Shou giggled as he scooted out the other side, and Kenzan, struggling to get himself unstuck, banged his head on the underside of the desk.
"No fair!" he complained. "You can get into places I can't!"
"That's because you're big and dumb and I'm smart and quick!" Shou jeered. He was enjoying having an advantage over the one he saw as his rival, even such a pointless advantage as being able to crawl under a desk. Since he was already on the floor, he began going through the things that were stuffed under there. There was a large cardboard box that looked interesting. He wondered if he had time to look at it before Chronos came back.
"Don't call me dumb, you little...!" Kenzan stormed around to the other side of the desk and prepared to throttle Shou, but his attention was caught by the mysterious box. "What do you suppose is in there?"
"I don't know," Shou replied. "We might get in trouble if we open it... it might have student files or something."
Kenzan picked it up and shook it. It made enticing clunks and rattling noises. Some mysterious electronic object made a blipping noise.
"Doesn't sound like files to me," he said. He looked speculatively at the door. "You know, I bet we could hear him coming before he gets back. We could put it away before he sees it."
"Umm..." Shou followed Kenzan's gaze, then looked longingly at the box. Then he looked at Kenzan. "You open it."
"What? You found it - you open it!"
"Well, you're the one holding it!" Shou replied.
"Fine, then." With a swift moment, Kenzan whipped the lid of the box off and looked inside. He laughed. "Hey, would you look at all this stuff?"
"Let me see, let me see!" Belatedly, Shou realized that the problem with letting Kenzan open the box was that Kenzan was so much taller than he was. Shou scrambled to his feet and jumped up, trying to get a peek inside.
"Hmm, I don't know if I want to show you or not..." said Kenzan thoughtfully.
"Let me see, let me see!" Shou begged. "Show me or I'll yell until a teacher comes!"
"I can yell louder than you," said Kenzan, but he put down the box anyway so Shou could look inside.
"Wow, look at this!" said Shou. "I wonder where it all came from?"
"Who knows?" Kenzan replied. He began stirring through the jumble of odds and ends. "I bet you could make some money selling this stuff off!"
"You aren't going to steal it," said Shou, plainly scandalized.
"Of course not! Don't be stupid," Kenzan replied. "It is cool stuff, though. I always wanted one of these." He pulled out a handheld video-game system and tried to turn it on, but the batteries were dead.
Shou dug through the box, wondering what else might be in there and if anyone would miss it if he took it - which of course he wouldn't, but it was tempting. The box looked like someone had gone through Duel Academia and forced everyone to empty their pockets into it. Certainly they had gotten a nice cross-section of the school, even if they hadn't managed to reach everyone.
"There's enough makeup in here for every girl on the island," he said, looking at the myriad tubes of lipstick and compacts full of eyeshadow.
Kenzan grinned wickedly. "How about I give you a makeover?"
"Eek, no!" Shou tried to back away, but Kenzan caught him by the arm.
"A little powder, a little paint, will make you look like what you ain't!" he said in a singsong voice.
He pulled a tube of purple lipstick out of the box and pulled it open with his teeth. Shou struggled to escape, but Kenzan was too strong for him.
"Hold still," Kenzan ordered. He managed to draw a pair of smudgy purple streaks around Shou's mouth. "There you go!"
As soon as Shou was able to wiggle free of the larger boy's grip, he plunged his hand into the box and came up with another tube of lipstick, this one neon pink. Before Kenzan could react, Shou had made a bright pink mark across one of Kenzan's bare arms. He tried again, but Kenzan dodged, and this time the lipstick went across his leg instead.
"Hey! That's going to stain!" Kenzan complained. He tossed the lipstick aside and pulled out an eyeliner pencil, which he brandished menacingly. With a flick of his wrist that would have done a fencing champion proud, he left a blue streak across the side of Shou's face.
"Oh, it's on now!" said Shou. He dove into the box again and found a mascara brush, and the two boys went to war.
They were, in fact, so involved in their warfare that they did not notice the arrival of Acting Principal Chronos, who opened his door to find an astonishing sight. Various bottles, boxes, and tubes of makeup were strewn all across the office, and in the middle of it all were two boys who looked as if they had been standing too close to an explosion at the paint factory. Shou now had a purple mouth, blue stripes on his face, and streaks of mascara in his hair, and his nose looked as if someone had shoved it in a brush full of rouge, which was more or less the case. Kenzan, whose face was a little out of Shou's reach, nevertheless had streaks and swatches of eyeshadow all over his clothes, and his arms bore traces of lipstick, making him look rather like a child's finger-painting project come to life. Chronos simply stood and stared.
"Um," said Shou.
"We can explain," Kenzan offered weakly.
"I don't want to know," Chronos replied. "I really don't want to know."
"We'll clean it up!" said Shou.
"Yes, you will," said Chronos, "and then we will talk about your punishment."
Under their teacher's menacing gaze, Kenzan and Shou began picking things up and putting them back in the box.
"This is all your fault," Kenzan accused.
"Is not," Shou said. "You were the one who had to start painting me!"
"Well, you told me to open the box, so there!"
"Silence!" Chronos snapped. He looked down at them both. He appeared thoughtful. "You two really are disgraceful. You look like wild men from a carnival! I need to think of a special punishment for this. Oh, wait, I know..."
The two boys held their breath as they waited for their doom to fall.
"You two are going to serve as an example," Chronos decided. "When you're done picking up this mess, you are going to go outside and stand at the front door of the school for the next hour. You may not wash or change your clothes - you are going to go exactly as you are, and if anyone asks, you will tell them what you've done. I think that sounds fair, don't you?"
"But, but!" Kenzan protested.
"You'll make us miss our study meeting!" said Shou.
"You should have thought about that before you started all this trouble," Chronos declared.
There didn't appear to be any getting out of it. Miserably, the pair put away everything they had dropped and shut it neatly back in the bag. Then they allowed Chronos to lead them outside where they would spend the next hour as the laughingstocks of the school. Shou hung his head. He had hoped he would get more respect after he'd joined Ra Yellow, but it didn't look like he'd ever get any respect after this. When they got outside, Chronos stationed them on either side of the main doors and told them firmly to stay put. Then he was gone, leaving them to their doom. The two of them stood in silence for a moment.
"This is a fine mess you've gotten us into," Shou complained.
"Well," said Kenzan thoughtfully, "it could be worse."
"What do you mean?" Shou asked.
"He says we have to stay by the door for an hour," answered Kenzan. "He didn't say we couldn't move around a little..."
A gaggle of students, on their way to the computer lab, chatted happily with each other as they walked up the path that led to the school. They had nothing serious on their minds - they were all Obelisk Blues, after all, and no one ever gave them any trouble, not even the teachers. If they wanted to descend on the computer lab and turn it into their own private study hall, that was their prerogative. They weren't expecting any trouble from the teachers.
They definitely weren't expecting any trouble from a seven-foot-tall, shaggy-haired, two- headed, rainbow-colored monster. They were more than a little surprised when one jumped out at them from behind an obelisk. The students shrieked with one voice as the roaring thing descended on them, waving four arms and making horrible faces at them. The Obelisks scattered, homework forgotten.
"Ha, did you see them run!" said Shou, from his perch on Kenzan's shoulders.
"They squeal like a bunch of girls!" Kenzan said. "Hey, maybe next time we should drop down from on top of the doorway! They won't know what hit them!"
"Good idea!" Shou agreed. "You know, every once in a while, you come up with a good idea."
"Of course I do," said Kenzan. "You're not so bad yourself... sometimes."
"Here come some more! Girls this time," Shou warned. "Let's see if they yell louder than the boys do!"
While the two-headed monster was getting itself into a new hiding place, a pair of teachers were watching it from a window high above the action. Chronos and Napoleon, enjoying an after-school drink, interrupted a lively discussion on whether French or Italian wines were superior to get up and watch the show.
"Disgraceful," Napoleon muttered. "How can you let them get away with that?"
"Oh, it's not so bad," said Chronos. "They're making the best of a bad situation. That's a skill any duelist needs."
"Well, maybe so," Napoleon agreed. He watched as a group of girls fled shrieking into the woods. "It is entertaining, in a way."
"Can we page a few students?" asked Chronos. "I can think of a few who deserve it."
Napoleon thought it over. "It couldn't hurt, I don't think."
Chronos nodded as he reached for his PDA to send a few messages. After all, he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't make sure Kenzan and Shou had to work a little to redeem themselves.