It had always been Vice-Principal Napoleon's experience that the most important thing about teaching in a new place was to make the proper first impression. The proper first impression was not the same thing as a good first impression. Really, the important thing was to make it clear from the get-go that he was in charge and that he would tolerate no nonsense. If you could do that in your first week, the students would remember it and behave for the rest of the year.
So far he had sent twenty-seven students to detention, and he had only been on the island for three days. It was safe to say he was not the most popular man on the island.
It was also pretty safe to say that he wasn't Juudai's favorite person right now. Juudai's nature was generally friendly and prepared to like everyone despite their faults, but when his hands were aching from writing lines half the afternoon, it was hard to feel kindly towards someone.
"Man, that took forever!" Shou complained as he flopped onto the grass.
"No kidding," Juudai agreed, rubbing at his sore fingers. "I'm not going to be able to draw cards right for a week!"
"Well, at least we made it here on time," said Shou. He sighed tiredly. He and Juudai had agreed to meet some of the others under the old tree near the Osiris Red dorm, and they had been planning to take a hiking trip to a cove Juudai had found. They were supposed to have taken their fishing poles and caught their own dinner, if they could, and spend the night there if the weather stayed good. Unfortunately he had used the time he would have spent on his homework to write "I will not daydream in class" five hundred times, so now it was unlikely that he would have as much time to enjoy a camping trip as he wanted to. He considered whether it would be worth the nagging guilt he would get from just skipping it, and envied Juudai for being able to do so without any guilt at all.
"Wonder where everyone is," said Juudai, yawning. "I'm ready to get going."
"I'll check," said Shou. He clambered to his feet again and started scaling the tree. After sitting still for so long, it actually felt good to be up and moving around. He climbed as high as he could, up to where the boughs bent under his weight, and probably would have sent any of his friends plummeting back to earth if they had tried to stand there. They accepted his slight weight, however, and he peered through the foliage out at the school in the distance. "Um, let's see... Oh, that's got to be Manjoume. He's the only one who would be dressing in black on a day like today. So that's probably Asuka with him... Oh, and here comes Misawa. What's he in so much of a hurry for?"
"It's not like him to be late," Juudai remarked. He got up, too, and stared up at the road. A few minutes later, Asuka and Manjoume arrived, deep in discussion and looking grim, followed by a rather ruffled-looking Misawa.
"Sorry I'm late," he said. "I was delayed."
"By what?" asked Shou as he scrambled down out of the tree.
Misawa looked uncomfortable. "Well, if you must know... I was in detention."
"What?" Shou and Juudai yelped together.
"But you never get detention," said Juudai. "You never even get questions wrong on pop quizzes! You're every teacher's pet."
"Not every teacher," said Misawa darkly.
"What did you do?" asked Shou. He couldn't imagine Misawa ever doing anything that would get him in trouble. It was hard to imagine him so much as turning in a library book a bit late.
"I corrected a teacher," said Misawa.
Juudai, Shou, and Manjoume stifled snickers. Asuka managed not to, but she couldn't quite suppress a smile.
"What's so funny?" said Misawa blankly.
"Nothing," said Juudai. "Go on with the story."
"Right. Anyway, I heard Professor Kabayama talking to Professor Ayukawa, and I just happened to hear her suggesting that a certain move ought to be played in a certain situation, and I realized that it wouldn't work because of a timing issue, so I made a suggestion as to how it might be implemented properly, and Vice-Principal Napoleon was walking by and heard me..."
"And that explains everything," Manjoume finished.
"He's been handing out detentions like he's getting paid for it," Shou complained. "He made me write five hundred lines just because he caught me looking at my cards instead of listening to a lecture. I was listening! I was just thinking about how to improve my deck at the same time!"
"No one is getting off easily," said Asuka. "Junko got written up for singing in the halls - can you believe it?"
"He's writing up the Blue students too?" Juudai asked, amazed. "Man, he's tough! Most teachers let you guys get away with everything."
"Not this one, obviously," Asuka replied. "I'm afraid to even breathe when he's around! My parents would kill me if they found out I'd gotten into trouble. They're used to getting reports on Fubuki - well, you know how he is - but I've never gotten in real trouble for anything before."
"Yeah, speaking of Fubuki, where is he?" asked Juudai. "He was supposed to come with us."
"Like I said, you know how he is," said Asuka. "He could have easily forgotten. He's lucky to remember what day of the week it is. Sometimes I don't think he even cares. I once had him give me a Christmas present in the middle of August, just because that's when he felt like celebrating."
"Still, it's not like him to miss a chance to do something like this," Shou pointed out. "You don't suppose he..."
And then he stopped, because everyone plainly supposed he had.
"Great," said Manjoume. "Knowing him, he's gone and done something that will get him detention for the rest of the year."
No sooner had he finished speaking when he was suddenly tackled from behind. He yelped as someone flung one arm around him and the other around Asuka and squashed them both in a tight hug.
"Hi!" said Fubuki cheerfully. "Sorry I'm late! I got caught up in something and lost track of time."
"It figures," said Misawa. "We probably don't even want to know what happened, do we?"
"Hey, it was no big deal," said Fubuki. "I just ran into that new vice-principal guy. He caught me trying to climb out a window."
"Why were you trying to climb out a window?" asked Misawa, raising an eyebrow.
"Because people were standing around in front of the door talking, and I didn't want to disturb them," said Fubuki plausibly.
"And Vice-Principal Napoleon caught you," said Manjoume. "And you're still alive?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," Fubuki agreed. "It just took a while to get away from him, that's all. He just kept rambling on and on about his collection of model boats. And he told me all about growing up in France. Did you know he used to be married? Had a kid and everything, but they're divorced now. That's sad, don't you think?"
"Wait, wait, wait," said Juudai. "You had a personal conversation with Vice-Principal Napoleon?"
"Yeah, I know, it's weird," Fubuki replied. "I mean, what do I know about stamp collecting? But he did tell me when I have my birthday and I turn legal, he'll let me share a bottle of his French wine with him. That was nice, don't you think?"
"And you didn't get in trouble at all?" asked Shou.
"Nah. Why would I? I wasn't doing anything wrong," said Fubuki. "Besides, Vice- Principal Napoleon is really nice. I mean, yeah, sure, he did yell at me a little bit, but he calmed down pretty fast. You've just got to know how to talk to him, that's all."
"Well, apparently you're the only one in the school who knows how to talk to him," said Asuka, with a mix of admiration and bemusement.
"I don't believe it," said Misawa. "There's got to be more to it than just that."
"I believe it. Fubuki's just special," said Manjoume.
"I wouldn't mind seeing it for myself," said Juudai. "I mean, it would be pretty nice to know how to talk to him, myself, so I can stay out of trouble with him."
Fubuki shrugged. "I can do it again, if you want, but there's really nothing to it."
"Let's see it," said Misawa. "My curiosity is roused."
"Okay," said Fubuki. "Shouldn't be that hard. He didn't act like he wanted me to go away in the first place."
That was how, instead of going fishing, the whole group trooped off in search of Vice- Principal Napoleon. They found him back at the main building, shouting at a group of blue- jacketed students for talking too loudly outside of the library. As soon as Fubuki caught sight of him, he bounded over to him with a cheerful, "Bonjour!" The vice-principal looked up, plainly delighted to see him, and the two of them began chattering away in rapid-fire French. The unfortunate Obelisks took this as an opportunity to make their escape. Juudai and his friends simply stood and stared.
"Well, that explains what he meant by knowing how to talk to him," said Manjoume.
"I guess it does make a difference, to have someone around who speaks your language," said Shou. "Nuts. I don't speak a word of French."
Juudai scratched his head. "Since when does Fubuki know French?"
"He's been taking it as an elective for years," Asuka replied. "I had no idea he was that good at it, though."
"Well, of course he's good at it," said Misawa. He smiled his I-just-solved-the-equation smile. Asuka raised an eyebrow.
"Care to elaborate?" she asked.
"Well, Fubuki is the Wizard of Love," he said, "and French is the language of romance..."
"You're right. That does explain it," said Manjoume.
Shou looked speculatively at Fubuki and Napoleon.
"When you look at it that way," said Shou, "I don't really want to be speaking the language of romance to my vice-principal."
"Me neither," said Juudai. "So. Who's up for some fishing?"
Asuka cast a glance at her brother. It didn't look like he planned to stop talking any time soon.
"Good idea," she said.