Tally Mai-chan: Sorry for the late update! It seems I want to write anything but this story, I do love it! Don't get me wrong but as I start to work on it I think of a great idea for another story or feel like reading something else. But I somehow found the time to write and revise this. So thank you for finding time to read (and hopefully review!) it!
Also, I'm looking for a beta. Again. I had a beta but she had too much else to do and had to drop the story. So if any of you reading this think "hey, I could beta this story out of the kindness of my heart and ease the suffering of the writer who goes crazy trying to make sure everything is perfect for those who read it, I could totally do that!" So if you have that thought, or anything along those lines please send me a PM!
Chapter 7: Another view of a Sunday
Conis sat attentive in the soft plush chair before the school Principal. When she was lead in by a secretary with long pink hair and sharp purple eyes, the Principal motioned for her to sit down while he finished writing on a piece of paper.
He wore the same suit as he always did. Fine Italian make, bright yellow with golden stripes running vertically. It was a very handsome suit but the Principal didn't seem to understand much about style and wore a vibrant purple tie with it.
"So Miss Coniiiiis." The Principal smiled cordially at her, giving his full attention. "What can I do for yooou?"
"I would like a pass for me and a friend, Alubarna Pell, to visit Alubarna Chaka in the hospital."
"Ah yes, Mr. Alubarnaaa. He's doing quite fiiiiine, but a visit from some friends would suuuurely boost his spiriiiits." He opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out two white forms, neatly filling each out. He handed them to Conis and told her that she and Pell had permission to leave the school but must secure their own means of travel.
He suggested the tourist bus from the city that often made trips to Shabondy.
Conis thanked him and left the Principals office. Outside Pell was standing still by the door, resisting the urge to pace. Victoriously she showed him the forms and he joined her in celebrating. A high five, followed by a fist bump, a tradition started by Chaka. They agreed on Kizaru's suggestion of using the tourist bus. Though they had to be extra careful about not missing it.
Conis ran back to class, for she used her lunch period to get the permission slip from the Principal. She wanted to do something for Chaka, something that will let him know that they were thinking of him, even when he wasn't with them.
She'll make him cookies.
Conis pulled the oven door open, standing off to the side so not to be blasted by a wave of heat. Using the oven mits she pulled the steel tray out, covered in a generous amount of mouth watering, just-gooey-enough, but not too much, cookies.
She packed them carefully in a plastic container and glanced at the clock. 10 am. The bus was going to arrive in an hour, and it was a 45 minute walk to Shabondy. She hastened out of the kitchen, making sure her permission form was tucked away securely in her pocket.
Nami walked into the commons making eye contact.
"Hey Conis!" The orange haired girl smiled, seeing the container of cookies in Conis' hands. "Where you going?"
"I got permission to visit Chaka in the Hospital. Pell too. I'm taking some cookies to him." Conis smiled fondly at her labor. Chocolate Chip was Chaka's favorite.
Nami's face fell, slightly taken back. Conis wondered if she said something wrong. "Oh... I hope he recovers soon!" The girl said brightly, all traces of disappointment gone from her expression.
"Yeah, me too."
Conis and Pell walked down the dusty road that lead to Shabondy. Pell keeping a steady, wary eye on the forest. Conis wondered how Chaka would react to the news of the Devil's attack on the school.
Shabondy was a small town residing along the coast of at the base of the peninsula. There was no beach but a sharp cut off twenty feet down to the ocean. A pleasant sea breeze floated through the town, built under tall, towering trees over fifty feet tall. Dainty branches high up the trunk filtered the yellow light of the sun into tranquil green.
Each building in the town was curiously circular in shape, the buildings holding a flow of smooth curves, hardly a straight line on any of them. The brightly colored structures ordered around a central plaza at the center of the town. Places of note were the grocery, a clothing store, bookstore and a cafe. There was also a bar at the edge of the town, the only square shaped building in the whole town.
All the teachers at Marineford made residence here, being close to the school for easy travel, the easy going atmosphere of the town didn't deter them either.
Conis noticed, as the two of them walked down the main road of town, a tall woman with long black hair that looked like the new English teacher.
"Isn't that Miss Hancock?" She asked Pell.
He nodded in agreement, watching with her as the teacher walked into a clothes store. Conis felt a sad air about the teacher, she couldn't quite pick out the exact feeling. The regal woman was not acting like her normal self.
"Come on," Pell urged her, "Our bus is going to leave soon."
Boa Hancock searched through the shelves and racks of clothes the same way she would leaf through a English textbook. Finding nothing of terrible interest and looking for the sake of looking. Though granted clothes were not as intricate as a great novel of literature but textbooks had a way of writing in layman's terms, drowning the study of English.
"Hello Miss Hancock." Nico Olivia poked her head around a rack, holding a silver cardigan to her chest. "It's so strange to see a teacher outside the school."
"You're a teacher yourself are you not?" Hancock said curtly. Nico Olivia laughed, remarking that she was indeed.
"It's been very strange for me. To see all my co-workers living together in such a small town. I found a charming apartment just a few minutes from here, and as it turns out five other teachers from the school live in the same building! It's like a dorm for teachers."
"Is there any reason why you are talking to me." Hancock addressed the other woman haughtily. She had no patience at the moment for meaningless chatter.
"You don't have to be nasty." Olivia lifted a airy white dress up, examining it on all sides. "Tell me, has something been on your mind recently? Many other teachers have noticed that you've been a bit... how should I put this? Out of touch with reality? You don't seem to care about your students at all, letting them do as they wish in the class-"
"Are you accusing me of not doing my job?" Hancock glowered at Olivia, her face livid with rage.
"Hancock..." Olivia was not moved in the slightest by Hancock's anger. "Let's go get lunch!"
Boa Hancock rejected the offer initially. But Olivia was persistent, hounding Hancock even as she left the store and hurried to her house at the end of town. And the woman finally gave up, ungracefully agreeing to have lunch with Nico Olivia. Though it was more like an early dinner by the time the history teacher managed to convince Hancock.
"I have worked hard the past week. Did Kizaru ask you to talk with me. I will not be treated this way. With suspicion and distrust." Hancock said immediately after the waiter left with their order. They sat outside the only cafe in a small courtyard encased by a waist high iron fence. Sitting across from another at a small, two person table made of iron twisted into intricate patterns.
"Hancock, please listen to me. No one is saying that you're not doing your job. You are a very achieved woman! A Masters degree in Literature and English. You are famous for your essays on feminism and the role of man and woman throughout history. I'd say that you're over qualified to teach at a high school. You should be at a collage!
"It's just that, Mr. Borsalino thinks that there is something bothering you, you haven't been acting yourself. You have such a dynamic personality that to see such a sudden and unprecedented change in attitude is startling. He has a sincere concern for your welfare."
Hancock had come to the school, full of confidence, burning with ambition and grace that she could have been mistaken as one of heaven's warrior angels. She was through with her teacher, making sure the concepts being taught were understood and rooted into the student's mind. She had, within the course of week, become noticeably withdrawn. A woman to whom the words 'withheld' or 'shy' held no meaning, hid inside a shell.
It was during the past Friday, where the teachers had come together to celebrate the end of the first week that Hancock's behavior was unnervingly obvious. She was always the center of attention, relished in being in the lime light. And she sat the whole party out in a remote corner, talking to no one.
Hancock had, since her failed attempt to seduce Luffy, the one man to ever resist her, searched in vain for a way to make him succumb to her. But what could she do after her first attempt? Everything she thought of could accomplish no more than what she first tried for, and failed to do.
At this grim conclusion she forced herself to give up. To abolish the boy from her mind, and her life. Only he was there, every morning in her class. To overcome this she ignored him completely, sending him on pointless errands or tasks only to get him out of her class. Something he was almost too willing to do.
But that boy refused to leave her mind! Why him? Why now during a critical time in her life?
"Hancock." Olivia kindly took Hancock's hand in a gesture of comfort. "Let's chat, woman to woman. What's bothering you."
Hancock, a brash, proud woman would never seek another's council but this was too over her head. She couldn't spend the rest of the year like this. Someone high up would catch on eventually. No, she should take this opportunity. It was a blow to her pride to admit it but Monkey D. Luffy was a problem she couldn't solve, or get over.
"I seem to have gotten on the wrong foot with a student." She said simply.
"I see..." Olivia said, nodding her head in some silent agreement. "What seems to be the matter?"
"I guess it could described as... lack of respect."
Conis and Pell were overwhelmed by the crowds of people and doctors, skirting pas one another in the cramped halls. A petite nurse in pink scrubs did her best to keep them in line behind her as they navigated through the halls and maze of people.
After going up to flights of stairs, down a hall, down one level, across another hall and back up two flights they finally arrived at Chaka's room.
"Conis! Pell!" Chaka greeted from his bed, grinning broadly. "Thank god you're here. I thought I was going to die from boredom! There's nothing to do and all the nurses are too busy."
Pell gave Chaka a high five and Conis presented her container of cookies, to which Chaka gladly tore into. He went into a short rant about the food the hospital has been giving him. He said that he missed the school food, occasional burnt pancake and all. When he asked if anything happened while he was gone Pell and Conis exchanged quick looks.
"Well..." Conis said slowly. Then told him of the attack on the school. Chaka listened intently, showing his shock. A Devil attacking the school. He asked them a lot of questions, if anyone was badly hurt, did it really destroy the girl's dorm. Pell told him that only a few were badly injured but nothing the school nurse couldn't handle. The girls dorm taking only minimal damage.
"Chaka," Conis glanced sideways at Chaka's roommate. Trying not to be rude as she nodded her head at the rooms other occupant. A ragged man, with dark sunken eyes continued to sigh, staring out the white curtained window with listless eyes. A scar ran down his face and his entire left arm was completely bandaged. He didn't seem to notice them.
"I don't know much about him." Chaka grimly told them about his roommate. There was a hesitance in Chaka's voice that made Conis regret asking about the man. "He mostly just sits and stares out that window. He came here a few days after I did, I remember the nurse carrying in some of his things. There was a pictures of a woman. It think it's his wife, at night he says her name in his sleep. I think he came from the war."
Conis and Pell stayed with Chaka for three hours, filling what time they could with card games or just talking. Chaka said that his leg was healing fast and in a week or so could come back to the school, but he'll have to be on crutches for long time.
Conis and Pell stepped off the bus, quickly scooting to the side so five or six tourists could board. The bus stop at the end of town was empty, a small booth inside of a metal awning.
Shabondy was always particularly beautiful in the evening. The sun setting across the horizon, warm orange light wrapping around the buildings in a soft, subtle glow. Conis admired the way the town was lit up in golden light, the overshadowing trees darkened, like the sky above them. Like Shabondy transformed into a beacon of light in a dark world.
They walked down the main street, wanting to get back to the school before dark but also wanting to linger in the town. There was a strict curfew placed after the Devil attack so this could be there last chance to see the town in it's most stunning moment.
Down the road they observed many of the town people heading straight to a small side street, all wearing the same serious expressions. Pell craned his neck to see around the throng of people massing around what appeared to be a pet food shop. Curious the two students pushed through the crowd, ashamedly excited at this grim event.
Pell edged his way through two men, making way for Conis to squirm through. At first Conis thought that they went the wrong way, that the people couldn't be possibly interested in the building that she saw. It was old, very old. The boards covering the windows halfway rotted. The front door un-boarded, but chipped wood and nail holes suggested that it once was. The green paint, once vibrant and fresh as grass, faded by time to dingy greenish-gray. A sign saying "Pet Food" in big red letters hung above the door, the wooden sides chipped and worn. The red lettering hardly legible.
She never noticed this building before, being like this since she came to Marineford as a freshman. Pell shrugged his shoulders at her, not getting it either. It wasn't until two men in black suits, one carrying a sleek black briefcase did something happen.
The man carrying the briefcase held it close to his chest, both hands clutched tightly around the handle. He looked nervous, eying the empty, black doorway. The other man, taller by a few inches was more confident, talking strong fast strides to the door.
When they came within five feet of the house, a small white dog jumped through the the front door, barking threateningly. Briefcase man stumbled back, using the briefcase as a shield. The other man tried to grab the dog and was bitten on the hand.
"What's with that dog?" A woman in the crowd commented. "That place has been closed for ages. A company from the city bought it you know." To which her companion nodded, adding in her own info.
"I heard that those man are here to inspect the building, making sure it's okay to tear the place down. They got halfway through when that dog came and attacked them!"
"That's the ex-mayors dog isn't?"
"Something's possessing that dog!"
"Someone call animal control!"
"All this over a dog?" Pell said quietly to Conis. She nodded not sure how she should feel about this. A new business coming into the town was good right? But why would that dog attack these men? If it was vicious it would be attacking other people too wouldn't it?
The two men in black suits backed away from the building, standing on inner edge of the crowd. The dog huffed in satisfaction and walked calmly back into the old building. It circled three times in one spot and laid itself on the floor, it's head resting within the door frame.
"I think... it's protecting that building." Conis said to Pell. "It only attacked when those men got too close, then when they left it stopped barking."
"Why would a dog protect a building?" Pell asked, she didn't know the answer.
The two men left, arguing with each other in hushed, but angry tones. Soon the towns people too left, continuing on with their daily lives. Pell and Conis lingered just a bit longer, the dog watching them from the doorway.
"I heard..." Conis said hesitantly, "a woman say that that dog hasn't left that building for days. It must be hungry." She looked at Pell almost pleadingly. She had a soft heart when it came to animals. Pell rolled his eyes and suggested they get some food quick before it got late.
They went to a small 24-hour convince place and bought a bottle of water and small bag jerky (they couldn't find anything better for substitute dog food) and when they got back to the old building an old man was already there.
He had the strangest hair, resembling the hair of a poodle, and wore casual, lose clothes and red sandals.
"Here, Chou-chou," He set a bowl of water and dog food before the door frame. "I heard about what happened earlier. It's been hard on you hasn't it?"
"Who is he?" Conis whispered to Pell.
"I don't know but he must be the dog's owner. Maybe he can tell us what's going on. Excuse me! Sir!"
The old man looked up from where he sat crouching and watched the two students come closer. The dog, Chou-chou, growled when they were a few feet away, and Conis hesitated.
"Were not here to cause trouble." Pell explained, to the old man. "We just want to know what's going on. We saw what happened earlier and heard that the dog hadn't eaten in a while and we brought food but I guess you already did that."
"You youngsters, you go to the school don't you?" The old man asked. They nodded. "Ah, well I'm sure you'll be hearing about it soon enough."
"What do you mean?" Conis asked.
The old man gave the good dog a pat on the head before standing up to talk to them properly. "There's a company in the city called Wapol Konzern that bought this store. They want to turn it into a steel shop. Though it wasn't just Wapol Kozern behind the decision, the mayor and even your school Principal agreed that it was a good idea to have such a prestigious company set up shop here. All in all it would be great for a little town like Shabondy, we get most of our resources from the city but have to travel there each time. Now we can just go to this toy shop/steel shop and order what we need."
"That doesn't explain this little guy." Pell said with a nod to Chou-chou. Conis gave the dog a comforting smile and asked the man if she could pet him.
"Not up to me, Miss, ask him." The old man said.
"I'm a friend. I won't hurt you." Conis told the dog, holding her hand our for him to sniff. The dog stretched it's nose to her hand, taking careful sniffs then licked her hand. Conis scratched Chou-chou behind the ear and the dog closed it's eyes, enjoying the attention.
"Chou-chou belonged the owner of this pet store." The old man said with a sigh, his sad eyes remembering unhappier times. "He was a good friend of mine, and he was very hardworking. Bought this place second hand, and worked real hard to restore it. It was a more of a mess back then that it is now. Business was terrible, hardly sold a thing. But he worked hard every day, doing his best to keep this place alive. Then... one day he became ill and went to the hospital in the city. He said to Chou-chou that he'd be back and when he was they'd work extra hard."
"Your friend died in the hospital didn't he." Pell said, several moments after the man stopped talking. Conis listened carefully, sorry to hear of the old man's loss. Even Chou-chou was solemn, his head lowered with respect.
"Chou-chou knew his owner had died, but he still protects this place. The store his owner worked so hard to keep and run. (Sigh) These past years have not been kind to this place."
"You poor thing." Conis was extra sure to give Chou-chou plenty of love, rubbing the little dog's warm belly. "You don't want to see the store your owner worked so hard to make destroyed."
"The name's Boodle." The old man held out his hand for Pell to shake.
"Pell, and this is Conis."
The old man looked up an the darkening sky, it was close to eight pm. "It's going to be dark soon. I'll give you kids a ride back to the school if you want, my truck may not be the best but..."
"Would that be okay?" Conis asked, not wanting to get in trouble with the school.
"Can't be too careful, news of the attack has hit the town pretty hard. I'm sure old Borsalino wouldn't be too upset. Let's get going then."
During the drive back to school Conis constantly thought of little Chou-chou. There had to be something she could do.
Tally Mai-chan: Chapter 7 and there's plenty more coming! Please review! Tell me your reactions! Your thoughts! Am I doing a good job writing the story? Do you think everyone is in character? Your input is really important to me!
Chapter 4 Omake
Inspiration: Typing error I made in the first draft
Luffy read the front of the news paper.
"High school student kills mom."
"What!" Luffy exclaimed. "He killed a mom?"
"Not just any mom." Law said. "He killed one of the most dangerous types of mom. A soccer mom."
"Yep. Went to a soccer game and little Jimmy's mom didn't like his attitude. He didn't like little Jimmy's mom and-"
"Man, this guy is hard core."