Bread Crisis

"Avan, Cosette!" Aliasse shouted angrily as she went looking for them in the courtyard. Both of them broke apart from each other in their place in the bushes and fell out of there just as Aliasse passed them.

"What were you two doing in there?" she asked suspiciously.

"Uh, nothing," Avan said, a statement at complete odds with his and Cosette's hot and flustered faces. "Aliasse, what the heck? I just got out of solitary and now I can't even have a second to - " he began, ignoring Cosette's frantic gestures to shut up.

"Nevermind," Aliasse said, and Cosette visibly deflated with relief. "Mama's torturing me!"

"What? That woman in a labcoat, right? How's she torturing you?"

"She told me to clean up my room is what!"

"How's that torture - " Cosette began, but Avan stepped forth and said, "I know. I used to have it all the time from Leon. I'd hate him for a while and then everything would go back to normal. So Cosette here will help you clean up your room and we can all be happy," he said. Cosette, whose face had just began returning to normal colour, went red with rage again but there was nothing to it.

"Yay!" Aliasse said, jumping and pointing towards the old campus. "Let's do this, Cosette!"

"What are you looking at, Cosette? Get to work," Avan said, oblivious to why Cosette was looking at him with a gimlet eye that could have withered tree bark.

While Cosette was slaving away cleaning Aliasse's room in the old campus while the Valkyria alternately requested her to give her rides on her shoulders and shouting that she had missed a spot, Avan was devouring loaf after loaf of bread in the bakery - so ravenously, in fact, that Alexis, who was sitting next to him, said that she had lost her appetite and hurried to the drill grounds to practise more fencing, as well as try to forget the image of loaf after loaf going in Avan's mouth.

"Yo, Avan, bro!" Pete said as he leapt onto the seat Alexis had forsaken and started digging in with gusto.

"Why am I not surprised to see you two again?" said Alicia with a laugh as she set another batch in front of them. "I hope you'll enjoy this, because it's going to be your last batch for a while."

Avan suddenly stopped chewing and looked at Alicia with his mouth full. Then he gulped and whispered, "Did I hear you right?"

"I'm afraid so," Alicia said. "We've run out of bread, and until we get our next batch of resources in, we can't bake more."

Those were the words of doom for Avan. He fell out of his chair, writhing and spasming and looking for all the world as if he was trying to tie his body into knots. Helmut, who was sitting on his other side, hurriedly got up and left the bakery with his own bread left half-eaten. Juliana, who was making her way out and ignoring all the male students ogling at her, stepped over him with her usual look of disgust she reserved for Class G students, although this one was even more so.

Alicia went around the counter and knelt beside him, trying to calm him down; he wasn't hearing any of it. Pete looked at Avan writhing for a while, then shrugged and started eating the remaining bread.

That was too much for Avan. Leaping up with his hand over the shelf, he snatched it from Pete, screamed, "Mine!" and ran out; bashing the door in the process and leaving an Avan-shaped hole in it. The students put their heads together through it and saw him running off over the horizon. Alicia looked shocked.

"I didn't think a joke would go this far," she said. Slowly everyone's heads turned towards her. "Joke?" someone said.

"Well, yeah," she said. "Anyone want more bread?"

Everyone cheered and crowded the counter to get the next batch.

When night fell and Cosette was finished cleaning Aliasse's room and putting her to bed, she started leaving the main campus, cursing and saying something like, "not a babysitter." Halfway through the tunnel she heard someone muttering something indistinct and once or twice a sob would echo.

Cosette froze. The old campus looked haunted from outsidde whenever she looked outside. Could it be... ? She shook her head, scorning herself for thinking it was a ghost. Probably some lost younger student. She pulled her sidearm out all the same. She turned went through the passage, ready to flee, and found a student lying there.

Her first, absurd thought was that the ghost had killed someone. Imagine her fright, therefore, when the 'dead' student heard the footsteps and turned to look at her.

"Avan!" she said, relief flooding her. "What happened?"

"Bread... finished..." he mumbled.

"You're insane. We just got our resources in today, remember? It can't run out today, even if it does sell so fast," she explained.

This seemed to bring life back into Avan. He got up, losing his frightened state, and looked around. "How come you're here?"

"You had me clean up Aliasse's room, remember?" she said, her annoyance of the day now returning.

"Well, I'm sure I can make it up to you..." Avan said as they resumed what they'd been doing when Aliasse had found them when a giant footstep echoed behind them.

"It's the ghost!" Cosette whispered.

The ghost took its time, one echoing footstep after another. Then it came into view. Not quite the ghost they were expecting.

"Cosette, what about a bedtime story - what are you two doing?" Aliasse demanded.

"Avan, what were we doing?" Cosette said, trying to act oblivious and failing miserably.

"You're the one supposed to explain stuff to her," Avan said.

"Uh, we thought you'd be hungry so we sneaked in ... an empty bread crate for you," Cosette said. Aliasse wasn't satisfied.

This time, they were busted for good.