I'm terribly sorry about the long delay, but my computer charger finally died after three long years of abuse and suffering, and I had to conserve my battery for educational purposes until I could replace it. Anyway, I appreciate the feedback from you readers and am open to both your insights and your criticisms. One question; since Ichika's harem will be broken in this fic, if you had to let him keep only one of the girls to himself, which one would it be?
Finally done purging his room of all the mold it housed with his concentrated lasers, Church fell back onto his sandpaper sheet bed, tired as hell. He still wore his suit, since he had been up all night attempting to purify his room of all the uncleanliness it housed. Somehow, despite his efforts, the room looked as desolate and dirty as it had a few hours ago, if not more so. He had recently discovered the termites that were chewing their way through his wooden bed-frame, and he had been too tired to deal with them.
For now, he was content to sleep in his armor, and was about to doze of peacefully when the heavens informed him of another idea.
"RISE AND SHINE, SOLDIER!"
Church tumbled out of bed as Chifuyu practically kicked down his rotten door and bellowed at him like a drill sergeant.
"IT'S TIME FOR BREAKFAST AND IT IS NOT OPTIONAL! REPORT TO THE MESS HALL IMMEDIATELY!"
Church clawed his way back on top of his bed. "You came up to the one hundred and fortieth floor to tell me that?! It's only 6 A.M.!"
Chifuyu smiled devilishly. "I know, but since you refused to fix that wall like you were supposed to, I'm punishing you like this instead. SO GET GOING!"
Church groaned inwardly as he watched the commanding woman leave, and Cerberus piped up in his head. As you humans say, the early bi-
Wearily trudging into the 'mess hall', which was actually a very nice cafeteria, Church noticed the presence of a few other early risers. A trio of girls sat at a table on the right, and one of them was wearing some strange pajamas that reminded him of Pikachu. (Despite being down here, this girl was in fact sleeping).
Scanning the rest of the room, he spotted a few other people of interest. Dunois and her secret boyfriend Orimura were here as well, though only the blonde seemed to be enjoying herself. Orimura looked like he would have rather been sleeping, just as Church would have. Ignoring the two of them, Church scanned the room with tired eyes... until he spotted the most dangerous thing within a hundred miles.
Bodewig, clearly an early riser herself (Not surprising considering her ex-soldier background), sat at a table on the opposite side of the room all by her lonesome, and the death glare she was currently accosting Church with made him feel like his soul was being incinerated just by being subject to her hatred. Church quickly looked around the rest of the room for any means of salvation from a painful and grisly death, and he noticed a the top of a brown-haired girl's head in one of the booths to his left. Not caring what she might think of it, Church sidled over to her and sat down across from her, hoping that Bodewig would be less likely to murder him if he had someone else to witness it.
Before he even identified the girl he now shared this table with, Church glanced over at Bodewig to see if his plan had worked. Luckily, she didn't seem to be getting ready to slaughter him, but the thoughts he imagined running through her head were quite... disturbing.
"So eager to see me?"
Church turned to face the one person he actually liked in this school so far.
"Rinin? Shouldn't you be in the infirmary? There's no way you've recovered already."
The girl across from him, both her arms and her head wrapped in bandages, and covered in healing cuts and bruises, cocked an eyebrow at him. "Oh really? Did you figure that out all by yourself?"
Church frowned. "I was just asking about your condition, out of concern for your well-being. Is there something wrong with that?"
Rinin sighed. "No. Sorry, I'm just... My whole body hurts, and I'm really kinda depressed right now. Guess I was just taking it out on you."
Church nodded knowingly. "I see. It's alright, no hard feelings. But back to my first question, shouldn't you be resting?"
The Chinese girl nodded and glared at nothing in particular. "Well, I should be in bed, but some new numbing agent is being tested on me since I'm so readily available, as Chifuyu-Sensei put it, and the nurses told me to come here and get breakfast, provided that I didn't collapse out of pain or anything."
Church looked at his table companion incredulously. "They're using you for a guinea pig while you're in this state? Even if the infirmary and cafeteria are on the same floor... damn, that's really messed up."
Rinin nodded. "Well apparently, Chifuyu-Sensei came by right as I was complaining about the pain, and according to her, if I have enough energy to whine, I have enough energy to get breakfast myself. She also said it would be knocking out two birds with one stone, hence the numbing experiment thing."
"But is it working?"
Rinin grimaced as she tried to move her left arm a bit, since it was not immobilized like her right one. After reaching it to her plate and back she said, "Well enough, I guess. I'd still rather not move though."
Church noted the full plate of food in front of Rinin, and concluded that her motivation to remain still was pretty intense. "Are you going to eat that?"
Rinin eyed the plate the plate of Chinese food tiredly. "Well I'd like to, but it really hurts too much to move..."
Church looked around the cafeteria and found no nurses anywhere nearby (Which was appalling, considering such an injured person was here).
He turned back to face Rinin, who was staring longingly at her food, yet unwilling to make the necessary motions to put it into her mouth. Church swallowed before saying something he hadn't ever planned on saying in his life.
"You know Rinin... if you're really that hungry, and you hurt that much... I could feed your breakfast to you."
Rinin gave him a peculiar look. "I... don't think that's a good idea..."
Church knew why she thought so. Clearly, this was something she only looked forward to Orimura doing for her. So Church decided to change the rules a bit.
"We can make it an exchange of favors."
Church continued, "You need my help, and I want to learn more about your culture. We can trade."
Rinin frowned for a moment, but as her stomach grumbled, she quickly relented. "F-fine... but that's all this is! Favors! Speaking of which, do you even know how to use chopsticks?"
Church smiled as he gathered up the two wooden utensils in his hands. "I do. Years of eating at Panda Express have honed my wicked skills."
Rinin gave a little bark of derisive laughter. "Oh please, that's not real Chinese food! I bet if you tried my sweet and sour pork, you'd never go back to that crappy quality stuff again!"
Church cocked an eyebrow at her. "Is that an invitation?"
"Maybe. I'll think about it."
Church smiled. He was glad that he was getting to know this girl better. As he poked the chopsticks he wielded with the skills of Mr. Miyagi into the sticky white rice with green leaves wrapped around them, he asked his first question. "So what is this dish called?"
Rinin waited until Church had placed the food near her lips before biting into it and (Oh so rudely) answering with her mouth full. "Song chee."
The churlish girl swallowed. "Zongzi. It's made of sticky rice and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves."
"Do you eat it often?"
"For breakfast, yeah. It's really common in Jiaxing."
Offering her another mouth-full, Church waited until she swallowed again before asking her a more personal question. "Is Jiaxing your hometown?"
Rinin seemed averse to sharing anything personal at first, but she knew it was a harmless, and even normal question, to be asked, especially in a school with so much racial diversity.
"Yeah. Jiaxing is in the Zhejiang Province. It's on the eastern coast."
Church wracked his brain for something relevant to the topic. "Hmm... isn't the provincial capital of the Zhejiang Province Hangzhou?"
"You actually know about provincial capitals? I'm impressed. Most Americans are rather ignorant to that kind of thing."
Church was about to tell Rinin that he was actually from Berlin, and that he had only moved from Germany to America, when a shadow passed over the two conversationalists. Both Church and Rinin turned to face the newcomer, who was, as one might have guessed it, another Representative Candidate (RC).
Church immediately recognized the waist length blonde hair and azure colored eyes that only England's RC sported (Besides that, she was the only student around in a full-length dress). The young British 'lady' as she would call herself, eyed both of the table's occupants coldly, but said nothing.
After a few moments of silence, Rinin spoke to the girl that had interrupted her breakfast.
"What do you want, Cecilia?"
Alcott humphed disdainfully. "Do I need to want anything? I can stand wherever I please!"
Rinin rolled her eyes. "Well could you kindly stand anywhere but there? Your presence is increasing my suffering."
"Shut up, Rin. You're just too ashamed to admit that you are glad I came to rescue you from this pervert!"
Church responded indignantly. "P-pervert?!"
Cecilia jabbed a finger at him accusingly. "Don't think I've forgotten what you did to Rin! Not that I care about her personally, but what you do to one girl you'll do to all of them! Especially to someone as beautiful and attractive as me!"
Both Church and Rinin looked at the self-glorifying Brit in front of them and inwardly sighed. It was too early in the morning for this kind of thing. Fortunately, another girl, with long dark hair of equal length to Alcott's, grabbed Cecilia by the ear and began to pull her away.
"Leave them alone, Cecilia. You're ruining a perfect moment, where Rin has realized she can't take Ichika from me and has finally accepted it by spending time with this guy instead."
Rin angrily shouted through Cecilia's protests at the girl dragging her away. "In your dreams Houki! Don't think that just because you're tall and well-endowed and a good housekeeper and... all that..."
Rinin sunk down into her seat as she realized how much the odds were stacked against her. She grumbled to herself incoherently as she dwelt on it.
Church looked back and forth between the two girls and wondered how deep their rivalry over Orimura went. He turned back to find Rinin mournfully staring at her plate of Zee, Zon, whatever the hell it was; apparently having lost her appetite in her misery.
Church thought of ways he could comfort her, but most of them would have required awkward comments that may or may not be accepted by Rinin as compliments. He decided to settle for the safest thing he could think to say.
"If it makes you feel any better Rinin, I think you're more attractive than she is."
Rin didn't even lift her face from the table, but instead replied accusingly. "You liar... men always prefer girls with large boobs. And I can't compete with Houki or Cecilia. Hell, I'm not even in the same league as Charlotte!"
Church sighed, again accused of the common stereotype that men only cared about looks. "Well, looks aren't everything you know. Personality is a big part of a successful relationship with someone as well. And besides... although most men do prefer larger... um... 'assets', girls of a different caliber like yourself have a certain appeal as well."
Church blushed as he said that last part, as he mentally compared the sizes of the girls he had met so far. Sure, large was nice... but hell, Church would have been happy with any of them, so to hell with preferences. He was surprised that Cerberus had stayed quiet for the duration of the morning, especially considering all of the interaction going on.
Pulling himself away from his own thoughts, Church returned his attention to Rinin, but much to his dismay, she was staring at him judgmentally. Afraid that he had offended her, Church scrambled to find some way to salvage the conversation, when Rinin burst out laughing. At a loss for words, Church said nothing.
"Girls of a different caliber?' Is that your polite way of referring to us? Well I guess it's better than being blunt about it, huh?"
Church grinned, glad to see that the situation had gone better than expected. "Heh, yeah. And hey, look on the bright side, you'll most likely always be larger than Bodewig."
Rinin laughed again. It was a pleasant thing to hear, in Church's opinion. "Yeah, I bet if Laura cut her hair shorter, everyone would take her for a guy!"
The two of them laughed at the thought of it, but it was soon cut short by a feeling of a malicious gaze resting on them from afar. Church turned to face the last place he had seen Laura, only to find her a few tables closer, staring at he and his companion with menace.
Oh shit, she's moving in for the kill!
Rinin seemed to notice the approaching danger as well. "Uh... maybe we should leave, before our names appear in the next round of obituaries."
Church nodded in agreement, and helped his fellow comrade in escaping Bodewig's rapidly approaching doom. They both escaped into the hallway leading to the infirmary, and sped as quickly as possible, considering Rinin's condition, away from an untimely demise.
Upon finally reaching the door to the infirmary, Church left Rinin to sleep her way through the rest of the day. But upon finding that the nurse on duty was absent at the moment, Church had to help the injured girl into her bed as well, careful to avoid bumping her sensitive arms.
Once done with that, Church turned to leave, but Rinin's voice stopped him short. "Hey, hold on a minute."
Church turned to face her. "Yes?"
"You can just call me Rin now. I think our relationship is at a level where that's OK."
Church smiled. "Glad to know I'm on the same level as five or six other people." He said jokingly.
Rin rolled her eyes at him. "Well if you're going to act like that, maybe I should withdraw my next offer."
Church cocked an eyebrow at her. "Well, if that's the case..."
Rin smirked at him. "Since you seem to believe that Panda Express is oh so wonderful, I'm gonna make you that dish I told you about, so you'll know what real Chinese food tastes like."
"R-really? Thanks... um... when?"
Rin gave him an look of mockery, although the smile it was accompanied with let Church know it was sarcastic. "Well not now, of course. I can barely move on pain medication, much less cook. Give me a week or so. Maybe until Saturday? That's only five days away."
Church nodded with satisfaction. "I see. Well, I look forward to your masterful culinary work, Chef Rinin. But for now, I think you need to rest. I've never seen anyone look as tired as you do right now."
Rin nodded, alright halfway to sleep. "Yeah...sure. Watch out for Laura out there..."
Church didn't know if the petite Chinese girl had meant that as a joke or not, but she had already dozed off, so he couldn't ask her. He turned to leave the infirmary, and bumped into someone at the exit. Fortunately, the person in question was taller than he was, so it couldn't have been Bodewig with a dangerous weapon to maul him with.
Maybe it's the nurse? He thought hopefully.
He raised his eyes to meet the face of a stern Chifuyu. She pushed him back a few feet, and handed him some sort of toolkit.
Church looked at the clunky thing with dismay. "What's this for?"
"That is for the gaping whole in the Academy's gym wall."
Church looked up at her. "I though I got a consolation punishment for waking up at six?"
"You did, but you seemed to be enjoying yourself with Miss Huang, so I can't really call it punishment, can I? Anyway, if you don't fix it within a week, I'll inform Bodewig of your location at all times."
"How did you know-"
Chifuyu leaned in close and made the eeriest face possible. "I know EVERYTHING that goes on around here. You can't hide anything from me."
Church decided to say nothing, and merely walked away from the nightmare he knew would haunt him later. As Chifuyu watched him go, she thought of how entertaining it would be to let Laura know about Church anyway. That's what he deserved for shrugging off his duty to fix the wall in the first place.
This is another pretty short chapter: forgive me. It's because I didn't have an idea for a chapter besides meeting more of the characters and developing some relationships, so I hand no further material after this point. Remember that feedback in any way, shape, or form is always welcome. Thanks for reading.
CHUCK NORRIS APPROVES THIS MESSAGE.