"Um, do you want something?" - Vayne to Tony & Renee in the game scene when they were wanting to "take him." What if Vayne hadn't been rescued?

Disclaimer: I don't own Mana Khemia or any associated properties. Gust and the other rightful owners and distributers do. No infringement intended or money made: please don't sue.

She knew him right away. He looked a little older than when he had been floating in Theofratus' lab. What mana was able to age? No, he had to be a mana. Theofratus wouldn't have failed, not to mention what were the odds of creating a human by accident?

The artificial mana seemed nervous, almost like a skittish colt ready to bolt. Tony was rather aggressive and direct: had he just strode into the freshman classroom and dragged Vayne away as his classmates watched?

"Hey, this is the right guy, right?" Tony asked.

"Yeah, earth to Ms. Isolde?" Renee chimed in. "I'd like to get my toenails done sometime this year." She'd just finished doing her nails when Isolde had sent them to retrieve Vayne after freshman orientation let out.

"Yes, this is him. Sulpher, too. You two can go." She knelt down to examine Theofratus' cat. "You're looking well." Had the mana been taking care of him? Well, it existed to serve.

"You know Sulpher?" Vayne asked as Tony and Renee left, feeling a little less nervous. Sulpher was his friend, so a friend of Sulpher's was a good thing.

"Mrow," the cat responded, pushing against her hand once before walking back around Vayne's legs.

"You used to know Dad, too?" He blinked at her.

Dad? Sulpher's presence was making her feel nostalgic, however, so she wasn't thrown off by Theofratus' creation calling him that. "Right. I saw you a few times, too. He enjoyed working on you." It had been the only thing he lived for, at the end. Completing his monstrous suicide weapon.

"Working on me?" He frowned as though he didn't know what she was talking about and thought that was an odd way to put it.

"…Nevermind." She should observe him a little first. Document Theofratus' greatest work, so the world could know of his genius. She'd just destroy it before it did any harm.

Vayne would always do anything asked of him, although once or twice Sulpher vetoed something Tony had suggested, she determined by watching the exchanges out of the corner of her eyes. This included gathering materials, sorting materials, doing syntheses, taking notes for people to copy, letting Renee do his nails, dusting her office, etc. That was a relatively harmless manifestation of his nature as the mana of wishes. Useful, too.

"I don't mind. It's kind of nice to help out," he told her, which made Tony snort, tell him once again that he had to stop being such a doormat, it was annoying, and rub his head. Vayne had smiled, and finally started to laugh. Like he liked this, liked getting to be an ordinary boy. If a very well-behaved one. The news that he was Theofratus' son had gone around the school, courtesy of Zeppel's big mouth. Thankfully no one had the nerve to insinuate that this meant he was her child, but the vice principal had said that it was very mature of her, to look after him like this instead of being jealous. At first the insinuation that Theofratus had another women had offended her, but obviously she couldn't tell her the truth.

Or Vayne.

He'd kind of sidled into her office one day and ended up working around to the idea that it would be kind of nice if she told him about his father. He'd seemed very diffident about the whole thing. Honestly, it had reminded him of Sulpher. Of course, he'd come by on a day that she was feeling nostalgic and had actually wanted to talk about him. That was probably why.

He still sat and listened. It was… comfortable.

Tony had this ongoing drama in the form of his rivalry with that delinquent Flay. She'd told Vayne to stay away from the bad influence (who might use Vayne's powers for evil), but once a new student joined Flay's workshop, he had the bad taste to pick a fight, or rivalry, whatever, with Vayne.

Whose reaction to this consisted of 'who, me?' At least he'd come to her for advice instead of listening when Tony told him how to handle it.

"Roxis Rosenkrantz, hmm," Isolde murmured, steepling her hands. Did he suspect anything? Would he have any reason to?

"You what?"

"But it was fixed, right?" Tony scuffed his shoe on her floor.

"You're lucky it did." And there was only one way it could have. "Get out of my sight." She pointed towards the door. After he left, she looked down at Sulpher. "Were there any witnesses?"

Sulpher yawned and washed his paw.

"Flay's workshop saw him do it. I'm sorry, Ms. Isolde, I came too late to stop him."

"I'm not blaming you, Vayne." She tapped her boot on the floor. "What did Sulpher say?"

"He said no one saw, but…" that didn't make any sense.

"That's good. You may go."

"You what?"

"But it was fixed! There's no way Flay should have won!"

"Well, he did. You used your workshopmate as a stake in a bet?" He'd used Vayne? "Get out of my sight." She looked to Sulpher. "Were there any witnesses?"

"The hall was packed," Vayne answered.

"Not the duel, the bet."

"Well, there was Flay, Roxis, Jess and Nikki of course, and there were a bunch of people in the hall, but I don't know how many were paying attention."

"Can you… do something about it?"

"I don't know. Flay's pretty stubborn."

Sulpher lashed his tail.

"What did Sulpher say?"

"He doesn't know if it's a good idea."

"Well, I don't think it's a good idea for you to be in the clutches of that delinquent."

Vayne did end up in Flay's workshop, unable to resist the flow, but Isolde made a point of stalking in there threateningly every so often to make sure they weren't overworking him. At least the new student did most of the cleaning.

Isolde told her to keep coming to her office to tell her about his day. She'd already had him do that so she could take notes, but she had to make sure Flay wasn't using him for anything.

Actually, if he could resist Flay's desires, then maybe…

After Roxis got a mana, he and Vayne reached a sort of truce, which made Vayne happier. He really couldn't stand people not wanting him around. Talking about Roxis while they were still rivals had made him look all sad and confused.

Aside from that drama, the rests of his school years passed rather uneventfully. He hadn't blown his cover, no one had any reason to suspect anything, he had actually been able to articulate a desire (to become an alchemist, just like her), and there were other signs that perhaps Theofratus had wrought better than he knew.

About a week before graduation, after he'd come by with Roxis to ask permission to travel with him and she'd granted it, she decided it was time to take Vayne aside and give him the talk she'd been putting off for years now.

"Vayne, did you ever wonder where you came from?"

"Is this about where babies come from? Because Nikki told me that when a woman and her husbands…"

Oh dear god. The beastwoman had given Vayne that talk? "No, this isn't about sex. But we should go over what she told you." Isolde cleared her throat. "Anyway… You see, when a genius alchemist decides to attempt something long-thought impossible…"

It took her awhile to explain everything without bringing up exactly what had happened to Theofratus. Once he understood that, there was the general information about Vayne's powers she'd accumulated to go through, and the ethics of it all. "Do you understand?" She concluded.

"I shouldn't let Roxis make me do anything I don't want to?"

Oh, yes, there was that too. "Did Nikki tell you about condoms?" Beastpeople tended not to use them.


"Hold on, let me find the recipe."