Disclaimer: The only thing I own is the story idea and only some of the witty remarks. I own so little; so please don't steal.

Background music: -


Limited Vocabulary

Shoichi Irie thinks he might really know only two phrases. When the alarm clocks shrills in the morning in the dorm, instead of waking like an ordinary person, he leaps up and shrieks, "I'm sorry!" as if he's really done the clock a misdeed. Flustered and fully conscious, Shoichi turns off the alarm and hopes to god no one hears him. It isn't that he thinks the clock is yelling at him (most of the time), but it's usually he wakes up from a dream where people are on his case and scolding him and it's a knee-jerk reaction and the clock triggers it.

And, with his luck, everyone hears him. "You must be really bad, if you have to apologize in the morning," the person in the next room says to him when they meet in the hallway. Shoichi apologizes again, realizes what is being suggested, and blushes red. It's an embarrassing thought (bringing a girl into his room…!) and it distracts him so he loses track of time when he's eating and has to run out of the cafeteria to try and catch the bus.

He runs into a couple of people walking in the opposite direction and spends a good minute apologizing. When he finally reaches the bus stop that will take him to the main building of the university, the bus is starting to pull away. "Please, don't!" he shouts, dreading the long walk he'll have if he misses it. He doesn't have a car and the courage to ask an upperclassman to hitch a ride. The bus pays him no mind and drives away regardless of his chasing after it.

Shoichi hitches his bag around his shoulder and clenches his teeth. He gets a case of deja vu of when he was still in middle school and still wore a uniform and walked to school. Sliding on a pair of battered headphones, he begins his trek to the buildings twenty minutes away.

Of course, because he is late for the bus, he's late to class, even when he sprints the last five minutes and manages to get into the classroom itself seven whole minutes after the lecture's begun. The professor stops class purposely so everyone can stare at him. "I'm sorry," Shoichi rambles, struggling to get a seat although the only ones left are the ones in the front. "I'm sorry."

"Late again, I see," the professor says, opening his attendance notebook. What luck – his first class is the one where prompt attendance affects the grade. "How would you like me to bump your B minus to the land of the Cs?"

"Please, don't," Shoichi groans, his face flushed as he hurries to get his books out. He's doing relatively well on the papers and exams in this class, but his tendency to be late has really messed up his efforts. The professor knows this, and he makes a good show of teasing him for it. Last quarter, Shoichi slid by with an A-, but it was when the class was in the afternoon. He feels a stomachache coming on.

Next is science and it's home to Shoichi, the rows of lab tables and vials. He can forget all his other shortcomings and throw himself into his research. However, the class before his in the lab is probably a first year class, because everything is in disarray. Someone's kept the burners on and when he attempts to turn up the flame, it spurts and rages. He nearly drops the glass he's holding.

"Please, please, please, don't," he chants frantically, trying to control the fire with a couple of his classmates. After a long, hot struggle, they manage to free the burner from the gas outlet and stand around, panting and glaring at the misbehaving object. When putting blame on an inanimate object isn't satisfying enough, they turn to Shoichi. "I'm sorry," he mumbles.

There's the smell of gas and smoke on him and no one wants to sit with him in the cafeteria. Still, they don't make finding a seat easier so he has to squeeze past other students to get to a free chair. "Sorry, sorry," he repeats, bumping into various shoulders and backs. He earns himself a fair amount of glares.

"If you're going to make us eat off the ground," a fourth year says menacingly after Shoichi accidentally knocks his pudding cup onto the ground, "the least you could do is join us." He advances at the second year.

"Please, don't," Shoichi squeaks, scampering off out of sight to eat outside.

Shoichi thinks the library will be a pretty safe bet after lunch to get away from his raging science classmates and the bully from the cafeteria that seems still out to get him. Yet he manages to annoy the librarians by his pathetic attempts to reach a book despite his short stature and the use of a ladder. A woman gets it for him and gives him a condescending look; he shuffles off into a corner to read.

Still, despite that initial scuffle, the rest of the time he spends in the library is calm and composed. He works alone, so he doesn't have to worry about apologizing for mistakes or getting chronic worry stomachaches. He hopes this is in his future: a safe, controlled environment where he can just listen to his music and work on his work. No rowdy atmospheres or scary people.

When dinnertime comes around, Shoichi creeps out of the library, watching for the bully, and he's about to take the bus (waiting for him thankfully at the curb) back to the dorm when a hand lands on his shoulder.

"You still haven't eaten from the ground yet," the fourth year says.

"Sorry," Shoichi shivers. He would have thought the oldest students would forgive and forget, at least. The fourth year looks ready to drag him off and pummel him. Then a foot shoots up from behind him and kicks the fourth year out of the way.

"Don't go picking on Sho-chan," a voice disapproves, singsong. Shoichi recognizes the shock of white hair and Byakuran smirks at the fourth year. "Or else I don't know how I might feel about it…" Even as a second year, Byakuran has a rough demeanor to him, and he cracks his knuckles with the same threat as a bear might growl. The fourth year gets to his feet and shoots them a venomous look before ambling away.

"I'm sorry," Shoichi says automatically.

"Don't be. I wouldn't think of you to pick fights. Hey! Eat dinner with me!"

Shoichi looks behind him at the bus that's pulling away and agrees reluctantly. Dinner with Byakuran surely means sweets and more unhealthy foods, along with required singing or other unusual antics. It's embarrassing for someone like him. Byakuran cheers and throws an arm around his waist and Shoichi realizes with alarm that his friend's hand is wandering south in public.

"Please, don't!" Shoichi cries, and bites back a whimper as Byakuran gropes him through his clothes.

"I was thinking of a little reward for helping you back there…" With Byakuran's chuckle in his ear, Shoichi knows it won't be just dinner. He tries to hide his face as Byakuran guides him away from any food source toward his room. It really does seem he only knows two phrases, because he isn't trying to talk his way out of this situation, and he has a feeling he'll drop the don't soon.