It was another bleary morning. Remnants of winter's chill still lingered even though delicate buds of green were beginning to sprout on the campus' trees. But even as the masses of uniformed girls complained about the interminable cold, a certain net idol remained undisturbed as she strode off the train. She ignored the slaps to her shoulders that were exerted by the people she dared to say were more than acquaintances, and continued to analyze the small book she had been holding in her one hand. The first bell could be heard throughout the campus, and Chisame found a small smile making its way to her face. It was going to be another normal school day.
It had been nearly two months since their adventures to the Magical World, AKA Chisame's personal living hell. Kagurazaka, Sakurazaki, Miyazaki, Asakura, Saotome, Chachamaru...She had literally leapt into their world. It was a world where she didn't belong, and yet she willingly entered for no real reason.
Okay, maybe there was one.
A boy with red hair was suddenly at her side, flashing a boyish grin at her. He was about a head or two shorter than her, and was dressed in a navy blue suit along with a ridiculous neon striped tie. Old habits urged her to chastise the boy for being a walking fashion disaster, but she was too caught up in the less-than decorous smile he was giving her. She shouldn't have been fazed after the whole Magical World fiasco but...it still felt unnatural.
"Sensei," she nodded, putting her book away. "What's up, where's Kagurazaka and the others?" she asked coolly.
"They went ahead," Negi replied, "I think they wanted to get good seats for the opening ceremony."
"And not you?" Chisame raised an eyebrow. "Weird, you'd think the brat would show up at six in the morning to get a front seat..."
"Did you say something Chisame-san?" Negi was looking at her curiously.
Negi was quiet for a while. This sense of formality was familiar to Chisame, just like in the old days when they had never said so much as a pleasant 'hello' to each other. But it was irking at the same time because recently an invisible curtain wavering her mind when she tried to venture out of that comfort zone. There were words she wanted to say and when she found them...the curtain would draw to a close. Gritting her teeth, Chisame had another thing to her add to her 'reasons why Negi is a pain in the ass list.'
"You know I thought I would stop by," Negi suddenly said, startling Chisame. He smiled sheepishly at her, only to be responded to by an irritated look. "I just wanted to talk."
To talk? The net idol stared at the boy incredulously. "About what?" she said slowly. She wasn't sure she wanted to continue this conversation anymore.
"Anything." He said simply, "We can talk about school, our friends, the magic world..."
Chisame twitched in response at the latter.
Okay, now she was uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. Chisame wasn't sure what the kid was up to, but she didn't like it. She didn't like the fact that her ten-year-old teacher was practically hitting on her. Her brown orbs met his own, and it struck her at how much it made her realize she was speaking to someone who was beyond his years. Those wide, dark eyes no longer held that childish innocence she was accustomed to. They were older, and wiser. But what's worse was that she felt him looking through her, almost as if he knew the words she struggled to find in her own mind. She felt her cheeks grow hot.
"Y-you should really stop looking so serious when you say things like that, sensei." Chisame chastised, frowning deeply through her blush. "Girls will hate you for that. Maybe even kill you."
"But shouldn't I always treat my students with respect and dignity?" Negi asked curiously. He remembered Asuna telling him something like that, followed by a painful punch over the head. The ten-year-old that he physically was shone through during moments like this.
"That's the thing, sensei." Chisame said, "In fact, you're doing the opposite when you say things like that."
"I-I don't understand Chisame-san," Negi frowned. He didn't realize that being with one of the only few people he could candidly converse with could be so confusing. "Please tell me how it would be so upsetting!"
Now Chisame was racking her brains to find an answer. "Idiot." With a loud sigh, Chisame looked away and continued to stare in front of her.
Masses of freshmen continued to brush pass the two, completely oblivious to the heavy atmosphere that lingered over. Negi was staring at his shoes, trying to keep pace with Chisame who was seeming to ignore him. He had clearly upset her, but what's worse was that he didn't know why. He retraced his words and analyzed as best he could to find any words that may have held negative connotations to Chisame. But his efforts were futile. He may have been the Thousand Master's son, a user of the deadliest and darkest magic arts, and an achieved high school professor that was beyond his years ..but he was helpless when it came to topics like these.
They finally came to a stop at the school doors where everybody seemed to have disappeared into already. Chisame turned to see that Negi still held his gloomy expression. She felt a pinch of guilt for the little brat.
"Damn it. He's just a kid. It's not his fault he has no idea what he's doing."
"Hey, uh sensei..." Chisame lightly shook Negi out of his trance, "Don't worry about it, it's not something you're expected to understand right now anyway-"
'I got it!" Negi was suddenly a walking epitome of ebullience. Chisame had to literally hold her skirt down from the immense release of energy that burst from within the child.
"Wh-what is this? Some kind of over the top epiphany!?" Chisame struggled to regain her footing, "It's almost as bad as Negi sneeze..."
"Chisame-san!" Negi turned to her as if he had discovered the cure for cancer, "I think I've got a grasp of what you were trying to tell me!"
"Uh, that's nice..." Chisame replied awkwardly as she tried to straighten her skirt. Then she suddenly felt something grasp her hand. The high schooler looked up and was instantly startled by the pair of brown eyes staring so admirably into her own. Negi held her one hand as if it were the most precious thing in the world to him. His back was straight, and his eyes furrowed together in concentration. Chisame blushed.
"Sensei, what the hell?"
"I think I understand now Chisame," Negi said warmly at the one student whom he had viewed as someone of great insight and knowledge. But most of all, she was one of his most cherished companions. His friend. "You have always helped me out." he said softly, tightening his grasp on her hand.
Chisame slowly opened her mouth, "Sensei, I..." Her words trailed off as Negi continued to speak.
"When you told me that I shouldn't say things that may make girls hate me," Negi said, his eyes bright with excitement, "I didn't really understand, and I still don't. But I think I might have an inkling of what it must be like that I'm doing that would make them angry."
With that, Negi placed a tacit kiss on the net idol's lips.
When the boy moved away, he was blushing slightly. But he seemed pretty proud of himself for being able to solve this nearly impossible puzzle.
"Thank you Chisame-san for putting things into perspec-"
"I'LL KILL YOU!"
Suddenly, a scream of unfathomable pain could be heard throughout the Mahora campus.
"I'm sorry to inform you that Negi-sensei won't be here to attend your first opening ceremony to high school this year." Shizuna said as she stood amongst the previous class 3-A students. "There were some complications upon making it to the front doors."
Ayaka Yukihiro was livid. "What?! But what horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE, thing could have happened to our dear Negi-sensei to not attend our first opening ceremony?!"
"Judging by his injuries, we concluded that he was hit by a stampede of a thousand-ton trucks."
"AT THE SCHOOL DOORS!?"
The class immediately erupted into total chaos at the news.
"Now, now girls.."
Chisame, who was impervious to the whole thing, continued to type away at her laptop as hell was rising. The bespectacled girl rolled her eyes as more than half the class stormed out of the classroom, competing for the coveted spot at Negi's side. "Morons."She licked her lips slightly, whether it was unconscious or not, she found herself smirking at the notion of kissing the brat.
For once, that curtain in her mind was drawn open.