Through the looking glass

BY : walkerofdarkness
Category: +G to L > IS: Infinite Stratos
Dragon prints: 3881
Disclaimer: I do not own Infinite Stratos or the characters from it. I do not make any profit from this story. I do own my OCs though.

Chapter 1

When you lose a person you love so much, surviving the loss is difficult.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The graduating students were all lined up, having finished their last day at this school.  The boys and girls were milling around, chatting with friends, getting one last bit of gossip in before they headed out.

“Hey, isn’t that Shinonono-sama?” a male underclassman asked as they carried chairs to storage.

“Yeah, did you hear she got into the IS Academy?”  his classmate asked, trying not to lose his grip.

“That figures, given who her sister is.  She probably had some special ‘in’ with the academy staff...” a girl student said, trailing off as she noticed Houki’s expression.

Houki Shinonono had heard all three students.  She thought she had gotten used to all the teasing and innuendo about any special privileges she might have received because of her sister’s development of the Infinite Stratos system.  In the quiet nights when she was alone, she would much rather have had her sister been born to a different family.  

She also wasn’t going to let this slight get past her today.  A quick step in and she grabbed the blouse of the girl with her left hand, her right hand landed on her throat and collar.  Houki then yanked hard, drawing on the strength years of kendo training has given her, pulling the girl up to her above average height.  The girl stood on her toes to try and avoid being strangled.

The two boys working with her dropped their loads as soon as Houki moved, but they stopped moving with a single glance from her.  Houki’s eyes blazed with rage and the promise of death, the ribbon in her hair seemed to dance on it’s own wind.

“I. did. NOT. get. into. the.  IS. academy. because. of. my. sister.”  Each word came out through clenched teeth; the voice a low, almost bestial growl that promised blood and suffering for everyone involved.  “I got in because I worked harder than anyone else in this school.  Something you would do well to remember before you insinuate I got ANYTHING because of my name.”

“SHINONONO-SAN, DROP HER.”  a loud, male voice bellowed out from behind the trio.  

Houki complied at once, the girl falling to the ground gracelessly.  “Principal-sama, I apologize for my conduct just now. It was unacceptable.”

“Hai, it was.”  The principal looked at the three who had moved against the wall when he approached.  “You three should also learn from the lessons Shinonono-san just taught you.  IF you work hard and don’t try to rely on your family names, anything is possible.  Now resume your duties.  Shinonono-san, come with me to my office.”

Houki and the principal walked around a corner as they heard the chairs being picked up again.  They carried on down another hallway in silence, Houki’s face covered in shame.

The office staff saw Houki walk in behind the principal, a common enough sight for them.  The principal beckoned her to sit as he pushed the door closed.  A long moment of silence hung between them, growing heavier until it seemed oppressive.  “Talk, Shinonono-san.”

“I have nothing to say, Principal-sama.  My conduct was unacceptable and out of place.”  The words came out from a quiet place, her head down staring at her hands crossed in her lap.

“Hai, we have discussed that already.  Now that you have apologized, I want you to talk to me, Houki-chan.  IF you won’t talk to me as a principal, then talk to me as your kendo instructor.  What bothered you so badly?”

Houki’s head came up slowly, her eyes watery.  “Himura-sensei, I just heard their words suggesting I got into the IS academy and I just snapped.  They said I was going because of my sister, and I couldn’t take it.  They have no idea why I’m going there, or what I had to give up because of my sister.”

Principal Himura nodded his head slightly, his hand cupping his chin.  One finger traced the scar along the side of his face, an old wound from a training accident.  “That is something I wanted to ask you about as well.  Why the IS academy?  Any school would have accepted you readily with your grades and extra-curricular activities.  Why go to the one place where your name might be called into light?”

Houki dropped her head towards her lap again, her ribbon obscuring her face.  “I...need to go there.  Of all the places I could go, the IS academy is the only place I can go that I might be able to get what I need.”

Principal Himura knew this was important, having talked to his wife who served as school counselor.  “What is that, Houki-chan?”

The head came up again, the eyes hard and focused.  “The strength I need to get revenge.”

<—*—>

“I’m worried about Shinonono-chan, Kaoru.”  Himura said over dinner that night.

“Why, what did she do now?”  the question didn’t even slow her pouring the tea.

“She said she needed to go to the IS academy to get strength for revenge.”  That statement caused Kaoru to spill the tea in shock.

“What?”

Himura recounted the entire day’s actions with Houki for his wife.  “‘I need the strength to get revenge.’  Her words exactly.  What can you tell me about her sessions?”  Himura’s eyes matched up to his wife’s, pleading without speaking.

“Not a lot without breaking my professional code.  I can say she has suffered an extremely painful trauma a few years back.  It left her...damaged.  I know that in the time she’s been at your school, we’ve worked hard to help her come to grips with it.”  A sigh paused the next statement.  “I can see now that I failed with her on that.”

“Do you know who she might want to seek vengeance on?’

“She never mentioned any names about it, but I do know she holds several people responsible for that injury.”

Himura considered that for a moment.  “Well, I can only suggest what I know then.  Her kendo skills are superb, her physical condition is at the top in the school.  Her grades never suffered, so she’s smart.  If she wants to go after someone for revenge, they might not have a long life ahead of them.”

Kaoru picked up the attitude of her husband.  “But given all of her strengths, whom would be stronger than her, and what have they done to wrong her?”

They ate the rest of the dinner in silence, lost in their thoughts.

<—*—>

The haze of cigarette smoke hung in the bar as the visitor walked in.  Muted lights cast some shadowy corners, but the music was louder than previous times. She’s been in here too much lately.  I wonder what set her off this time?   

The bartender looked up from the glass he was cleaning, smiling slightly at the sight of his visitor. “Hello again, Yamada-san.  Thank you for coming so promptly.”

Maya Yamada smiled lightly back at the bartender.  “I came as soon as I could.  Has she been a problem?”

The bartender stepped closer to Maya, dropping his voice to a near whisper.  “Not more than the usual rowdies that come in here.  Couple of new guys showed up and tried to pick her up.  She had to tell them ‘no’ and a bit more forcefully than I’d like.”  He grinned at Maya, trying hard not to stare too much at her bountiful chest so close to him.  “But all of the regulars will tell those two they got what they deserve.  When they wake up.”

Maya sighed a moment.  “Okay, what does she owe you tonight?”

The smile faded, all business again.  “Only sixty tonight, but I’ll warn you that even though she wasn’t drinking much, the stuff she ordered was potent.”

Maya reached into her pocket and handed him a good supply of bills.  “Here, keep the change as a tip for yourself.”

The bartender went to the register and cashed it out.  “You going to need help getting her home?  I’ve got a guy on staff whom can take my spot so I can give you a hand.”

Maya shook her head, her green hair waving from side to side.  “No, I’ve got a good technique for handling this.  It’s never a problem.  But thank you for the offer.  She at her usual spot?”  A quick nod confirmed what she already knew.  Walking back to a quieter part, Maya found a small table with a person slumped on top of it.

The dark hair on the head fell down to mid-back, a few licks peaking out from it.  An arm was supporting a face reddened from alcohol, but that didn’t detract from the sharp, strong chin or the gentle curve of the face.  Maya knew that if the eyes were open, they’d be brown and in her current state, bloodshot. Stooping down close to her friend’s head, Maya quietly spoke to her. “Orimura-sensei, wake up.  We need to go now.”

A groan escaped the lips of Chifuyu Orimura, but wakefulness wasn’t coming.  “Nooo.....don wanna wake...”

Grimacing slightly, Maya got closer to Chifuyu.  “Come on Chifuyu, it’s time to go.”

Chifuyu’s eyes opened slightly, but remained unfocused.  “Yamadakun, izthatyou?”  Her head started to come up as she tried to look at this new form.

“Yes, it’s me.  Batou-san called me to get you tonight.  Let’s get you home and in your bed.”  Moving slowly, Maya got an arm under Chifuyu’s shoulder and started to stand her up.  Chifuyu tried to help, but couldn’t get her body working right to consider it ‘help’.  Batou started to come around the bar to help her, but Maya shook her head again.

“One little step at a time Chifuyu, here we go.”  Half carrying the swaying Chifuyu, Maya managed to get them towards the door.  Batou stepped from the bar to hold open the door for them.

“Take care of her, Yamada-san.”

Maya smiled quickly in reply.  “Come on Orimura-sensei, we can do this.”

The air outside was cooler, a nice contrast to the warm bar.  Carrying Chifuyu wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but Maya had done this before.  She continued on, taking it slow as necessary.

After half an hour and only a few falls, the two of them were standing at the door to Chifuyu’s house.  Pulling out her own set of keys, Maya slipped her key into the lock and let them in.

Chifuyu, slumped against the doorframe didn’t try to help anymore.  Her eyes had drifted somewhat back into focus now as she had gained some measure of sobriety.  Looking around her place as Maya helped her in, she started to panic.  “Sorry I didn’t clean up for you came.”

Maya glanced around the place.  Cleaning wouldn’t solve this place.  You would have to start by burning it to the ground.  The trash overflowed the garbage cans, litter was covering most every surface.  Various liquor bottles covered large portions of the floor, all of them opened.  

As they moved through the house to Chifuyu’s bedroom, the mess only got worse.  Her room had a futon mattress with a pile of dirty clothes stacked up in one corner, and even more liquor bottles in the other corners.  A few small picture frames were lying in disarray along the walls, the glass in them cracked or ruined.

“Let’s get you into bed Chifuyu.  You’ll feel better in the morning.”  Setting Chifuyu down on the futon, Maya pulled off the clothes that were soaked in spilled drinks.  Sighing, she just added them to the top of the pile.  Rolling Chifuyu onto her side, Maya noticed new scars on her arms, and how her trim figure was patchy and distorted.

“Chifuyu, you go to sleep now.  I’m going to sleep here tonight, so if you need anything just let me know.”  

Chifuyu looked at her friend for a moment, trying to focus her eyes and mind but failing.  “Thanks a lot Maya, I always need a friend like you.”  Falling over onto the futon, Chifuyu passed out once again.

Maya turned out the light and sighed again.  Walking out of the room, she moved down to the hall to the other room.  This room was spotless, untouched by the disaster that had become the rest of the house.  What set you off tonight Chifuyu?  You’d been doing so well, but what went wrong tonight of all times?  Catching a piece of paper on the top of the desk sitting there, Maya picked it up and read the date off it.  Pulling her phone from it’s pocket, she checked the date.  Oh.  If it was anything, it would be that.  I guess I’ll have to talk with her about it in the morning.  Yawning from her exertions, Maya stripped and folded her clothes carefully, then climbed into the futon and went to sleep herself.



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