Wayward of the Flock
I, the author of this story, hereby own shit. Don't sue, because trust me, you WILL win.
Am I religious? Hell no. I've never been to church, I didn't go to Sunday school, and I picked up my limited knowledge of the Christian religion from my grandmother and the TV. But the school in this story IS religious, and you should keep that in mind. Of course, most Christian schools are pretty nice...but there are some that are like the one I depict, too. Scared yet? You should be.
Yusuke sat in the back seat of the car, some hard rock music blasting through his headphones, watching boredly as telephone poles flashed by the window. The road was flanked by miles of weedy yellow fields, and the mountains were a blue ridge on the horizon. Overall, not exactly a stimulating environment for a school campus. It was secluded, though, and he guessed that was what the founders had been looking for anyway.
In the front seat, Atsuko Urameshi was staring ahead, her hands clenched around the steering wheel. He could only see the back of her head, but Yusuke could tell from her tense shoulders that she was pissed. His mother had been like this ever since he had banged up that gang member. Well, that was her problem. The bastard had deserved it.
"So, what's this place called?" Yusuke asked.
"John Ellison," Atsuko said tersely.
"John Ellison, huh? Well, that's great. And there are no girls there?"
"Why else would it be called 'John Ellison School for Boys'?"
"Shit, I'm just asking."
Yusuke crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in his seat, turning up the volume on his CD player. The 'I am completely aloof and badass' routine was ruined when the car bumped over a hole in the road and Yusuke was squashed between his suitcase and the window. He growled angrily and shoved the luggage across the seat.
"Look, I'm just saying that—"
"—that guy nearly killed Kuwabara—"
"I said quiet!"
"—and the cops never would have done a thing about it!"
The car screeched to a stop in the middle of the road, and the luggage flew forward. Atsuko turned around, her eyes glittering with anger.
"I don't want to hear that it wasn't your fault!" she screamed. "That man is in a coma! A coma! I didn't raise you to be this way, Yusuke!"
"You hardly raised me at all!" Yusuke yelled back. "You're always so drunk off your ass, you probably didn't even know you had a kid until the cops came to the door!"
Atsuko stared at him for a moment, her eyes dark with fury. After a moment, she turned around again, and the car started moving.
"I've been a bad mother, haven't I?" she murmured. Yusuke stared at the back of her head, eyes wide. She sniffled and rubbed her nose with the back of her hand. "It's all my fault..."
Yusuke turned and stared out the window. As loud as his music played, he could hear her crying all the way to the school.
* * *
"Are you Ms. Urameshi?" the secretary asked in a nasal voice. She wore a pair of glasses on the edge of her nose that seemed to magnify the bags under her eyes. Her brown hair was pulled into a bun, and she was dressed in a starchy blouse and a long dark skirt. Yusuke had the weird feeling that she had walked out of a photo from the 1950s.
"Yes, I'm Atsuko Urameshi," Atsuko answered. "I'm here about my son—"
"Yusuke Urameshi?" the secretary interrupted, her fingers clacking away on her computer's keyboard. "The boy who hospitalized a man?"
"Yeah, that's him." Atsuko grabbed Yusuke's arm and tugged him forward. He scowled as the secretary gave him a cool, disinterested look. "Say hi, Yusuke."
"Yo," he said grudgingly. "Big school you've got here."
The look on the secretary's face never changed.
"Yes, it is a big school. We wouldn't want you to get lost. I'm sure we can arrange for a guide." The secretary leaned toward a microphone and pressed a white button. "Minamino, please report to the lobby. Minamino, report to the lobby."
Not a minute after the announcement was made, they heard a telltale creak. Yusuke saw an eye peering through the space between a door and its frame. The boy seemed to calm down when he noticed Yusuke and Atsuko and opened the door so that he could enter the lobby. There was an innocent look about his pale face, and he had lovely red hair that tumbled into his clear green eyes.
"Minamino," the secretary called. "We have a new student. Give him a tour, and introduce him to Mr. Iwamoto."
"Yes, ma'am," Minamino answered. He glanced at the newcomer, but when Yusuke attempted to lock eyes, the redheaded boy looked at the ground hastily. "Please follow me." Without another word, he turned around and began to walk toward the door.
"What about my stuff?" Yusuke asked. Minamino froze at the question.
"Your stuff will be taken care of," the secretary's nasal voice answered.
Yusuke stared at Minamino's tense shoulders as the boy resumed walking. After a moment, Yusuke went through the door, closing it behind him before starting after the other boy.
"So, what are ya in for?" Yusuke asked conversationally. Minamino didn't respond.
"Uh, hello?" No response.
"Ya know, when someone asks a question, they're usually looking for an answer."
"This is the library," Minamino said suddenly, reaching out to touch a burnished brass doorknob. "It is open from seven o'clock in the morning until six o'clock in the evening. No talking, food, or drinks are allowed. No books are to be removed."
"Hey, man, what the fuck is wrong with you?" Yusuke asked, frustrated. The other boy blanched.
"Please, you can't say things like that here," Minamino whispered, eyes wide. His pale face had become even paler and he had covered his mouth with one hand.
"Oh, so you noticed me," Yusuke retorted. "Let's try again. I'm Yusuke Urameshi. You got a name besides Minamino?"
Minamino looked around, as if checking that no one else was around. Once he had reassured himself that they were alone, he nervously locked eyes with Yusuke. When no one scolded him, he dropped his hand to reveal that the corners of his mouth were turned up in a hesitant smile. It looked weak, but it was nice all the same.
"Shuichi," Minamino answered. "Some people call me Kurama."
"Kurama huh? Cool name," Yusuke said. Kurama's smile widened.
"Thanks." He began to walk down the hall, and Yusuke fell into step beside the other boy. "You should only use it when we're alone, though. Never around teachers...or other students, for that matter."
"What? Why?" Yusuke asked, confused.
"Well..." Kurama glanced at him. "There are no rules about it, really. But if it seems like you're getting too close to someone, there's bound to be trouble."
"Oh, I get it," Yusuke nodded. "Homophobic?"
"Y... Yes, something like that." Kurama shrugged, not quite nonchalant. "Actually, the teachers don't approve of any kind of closeness. Calling someone by a nickname in front of a teacher could land you in detention."
Yusuke let out a low whistle.
"Whoa. Anything else I should know?" Yusuke asked. Kurama hummed thoughtfully.
"Just pretend that you're the only one in the school. That's usually your safest bet." Kurama smiled again. "Well, the dorms are upstairs. I can show you ours now, and then we'll come back down the other end so you can see the infirmary and the cafeteria."
"Sounds like a plan," Yusuke said, allowing Kurama to lead him up the steps. They paused for a moment on the second floor.
"This floor is mostly classrooms and the teachers' offices. We don't have any classes on this floor, though, so you can pretty much ignore it." They continued upward.
Yusuke noticed the lack of maintenance as soon as they reached the third floor. The floor was coated with a layer of dust, and the cream paint on the walls had completely fallen off in some places. The doorknobs were the same as the ones downstairs, but the brass looked like it hadn't been polished in years. Some were so rusty that Yusuke wondered if the doors even opened anymore.
"This is our dorm," Kurama murmured, stopping beside a door. He turned the knob and pressed his shoulder against the wood, shoving the door open.
Yusuke peered inside. The room was small, and there was only one mattress on the floor, covered with one of the thin, itchy wool blankets that Atsuko kept in the back of the car. A light bulb dangled from a chain that hung from the ceiling, and an iron crucifix was nailed to the wall opposite the door.
"It's not much," Kurama murmured, "but at least you don't have to worry about me or Hiei killing you in your sleep."
"Wait, you have another roommate?" Yusuke asked incredulously. "This shithole isn't good enough for one person, no way it'll fit three."
Kurama shook his head.
"We're lucky to have only three in here. Some of the other dorms have four or five boys."
"But... But those rooms are bigger, right?"
"I don't know," Kurama said with a shrug. "I've never seen the other rooms. The only students who get to see them are members of the disciplinary committee. They check up on us during the night, make sure that we aren't doing anything suspicious." Kurama gave him a sympathetic smile. "You'll get used to it after a while. Just don't get in trouble, and you'll be fine."
They walked down the hallway, descending the stairs at the other end. Kurama showed him the infirmary, which they were promptly thrown out of by Dr. Kamiya (according to Kurama, the man had no desire to see anyone unless they had been exposed to bubonic plague). After their run-in with the doctor, Kurama pointed out the closed doors of the cafeteria and informed him that it was only open during mealtimes. He also warned that the cook, Makihara, would not be happy if food was taken out of the cafeteria.
"So, guess that's the end of my tour, huh?" Yusuke asked as they passed the lobby and ended up where they had started.
"I still have to introduce you to Mr. Iwamoto," the other boy responded. Kurama stopped next to a door. "This is my class. Don't say anything unless you're spoken to, understand? Introduce yourself to Mr. Iwamoto - politely. Don't talk back to him...and never, ever show disrespect."
Yusuke nodded, and Kurama turned the knob.
Not one of the students in the classroom seemed to notice when the door opened. A short, bespectacled boy with dark hair stood beside his desk, reading aloud from a book; he never even paused. Kurama's eyes immediately dropped to the floor when the teacher turned and narrowed his eyes at him.
"Minamino," the man sneered. "So kind of you to return."
"Please excuse my absence, sir," Kurama said, bowing his head deeply. "I was asked to show a new student around."
"New student?" the man said, his eyes moving to Yusuke. "Jaganshi, stop reading." As soon as the order was given, the boy closed his mouth. He continued to stare at his open book, however. "Well, come in."
Kurama walked forward wordlessly, and Yusuke followed him. The teacher was tall, and even through his starched shirt and black tie it was easy to see his strong muscles. He had beady black eyes that glinted behind a pair of glasses, and his complexion was tinted a rich olive shade.
"Name?" the teacher barked.
"Yusuke Urameshi," Yusuke answered. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kurama tense up, and tacked on a belated, "sir."
The man's eyes narrowed.
"Welcome to John Ellison School for Boys," the man said. His tone conveyed anything but welcome.