Saturday, September 2, 2017

Mahou Shonen Just Say No Chapter Two

<-----First Chapter

<-Previous Chapter

When Kanoshi arrived back at his apartment, he checked his groceries over for damages.  Nothing too terrible from his fall; the meat packages were bent out of shape a bit, but nothing had actually broken or spilled in such way that would cause any problems.  He got them put away in his fridge, then sighed as he leaned back against his kitchen counter and pulled his phone out.  Would it do any good to call the non-emergency police line?  He could report that he’d seen Magica activity in Shibuya, but similar to any other neighborhood-based tip, chances were the police already knew.  Besides, though it was illegal to use magic, it was very hard to actually arrest a magica.  They were violent and hard to kill, even without transforming.

It would just be an unnecessarily stressful phone call to make, without any results.  Instead, Kanoshi opened his chat app again to vent about his terrifying encounter to his Internet Friends™.

[ChikaMikan has joined SIFestival.]
Maki-Best: Weba Kanokun.
Nozocchi: Wb I’m still here
Maki-Best: It’s still just us.
ChikaMikan: Guys… I got attacked by a Mag today (。•́︿•̀。)
Maki-Best: Oh, you mean a Magica?
Maki-Best: I heard saying Mag is like calling someone a drunk or a junkie.
Maki-Best: Rude.
ChikaMikan: I can be rude if I want! I got attacked! ༼ つ ͠° ͟ ͟ʖ ͡° ༽つ

Maki-Best: What did they do?
ChikaMikan: A magical girl trapped me in a maze, then a magical boy and a whole lot of distributors showed up and said a lot of mean things!
ChikaMikan: They called me a stray and a dumb gay human.
ChikaMikan: And the guy asked me to become one too…
Nozocchi: Are you hurt?
ChikaMikan: ...Nothing that wasn’t just me falling over in fear and shock.
ChikaMikan: One of the distributors licked me, but otherwise I’m ok…
ChikaMikan: It was just really scary!
Nozocchi: I bet!
Maki-Best: It doesn’t sound like they were being malicious.
Maki-Best: Sounds more like you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
ChikaMikan: Why are you defending them?
ChikaMikan: They’re criminals!
Maki-Best: Sure, but what would you do if one of your students became a Magica?
Maki-Best: Or if one of us did?
ChikaMikan: I trust all of you not to make such a bad decision…
ChikaMikan: And if one of my students did, then I’d feel really guilty because I should have taught them better!
Maki-Best: Wow, Kanokun, you are impossibly optimistic.
Maki-Best: Me, even with your stance on the matter, I can’t even trust you not to make a decision like that.
ChikaMikan: That’s fair… I’m more easily intimidated than you, Tsukki!
ChikaMikan: I could get blackmailed into it, but you wouldn’t!
ChikaMikan: And Zhou-san, I don’t know you very well, but…
ChikaMikan: I have to believe that with Mayu-chan dead, you wouldn’t do that to your family.
Nozocchi: Well, I’m not sure how much they’d really mourn…
Nozocchi: If I became a magical boy and ended up dying?
ChikaMikan: What/..
ChikaMikan: Why not!?
Nozocchi: Mayu and I, we were always afterthoughts.
Nozocchi: It wasn’t that we were treated badly…
Nozocchi: We always got fed, and got decent allowances…
Nozocchi: It’s just that we’d always been more like fish than children.
ChikaMikan: What do you mean by that?
Maki-Best: I get it.
Maki-Best: Good to show off, but otherwise just cared for and ignored.
Nozocchi: Yeah, what Tsukkun said.
ChikaMikan: Well… That still doesn’t mean you should become a mag!
Maki-Best: Hey, Kanokun.
ChikaMikan: What?
Maki-Best: ????
ChikaMikan: Huh?  What does that mean?
Maki-Best: You really are naively optimistic.

[Maki-Best has disconnected from SIFestival.]

ChikaMikan: What was that about…?
Nozocchi: Sorry.

[Nozocchi has disconnected from SIFestival.]
[No Admin Accounts can be pinged.  ‘SIFestival’ chat will be shut down in thirty days if no admin account reactivates.]

Tsukune Madara
Kanoshi furrowed his brow as he looked down at his phone.  What was the meaning of this…?  Mayu’s account, which Zhou had taken over, had retained admin permissions after she died, and Tsukune was an admin too.  Did that message mean the both of them had decided to delete their accounts?  Was it something that Kanoshi had said?  He didn’t understand where he went wrong.  Maybe it was just a mistake on the end of the program, and everything would be fine when he woke up the next day.

He finished putting his new groceries away, then decided he wasn’t really up for cooking today.  He dragged out some leftover curry and threw it back on the stove, then at least got up the energy to make some fresh rice, since he only ever made single serving amounts.  Leftover rice was just dry and bad, so why even bother making extra?  Even when he didn’t feel capable of anything, he could force himself to do as much as make a little bit of rice, if the leftovers he was heating happened to call for it.

When his food was ready, he got it together then sat down in front of his computer.  He didn’t bother with a television, since he had no real reason for one.  Anything he wanted to watch was available online somewhere or another, and it wasn’t like he ever needed to share a screen with anybody.  He generally kept to himself at work, and all of his friends were online.  All he ever had in terms of family was his dad, who had even worse anxiety than he did and refused to go anywhere near Tokyo.

Zhou Wang
If Kanoshi thought of it that way, it seemed pretty sad.  More sad than he wanted to admit, because last he’d claimed, he was living the dream.  It wasn’t like he was living a non-dream.  Everything was stable, everything was the way that it could and should be.  His apartment was nice enough that he never worried about vermin, and not only did his job comfortably support his lifestyle, he loved it.  There was nothing he’d rather do than teach, ever since he was young.  Still, his lifestyle, that was the sticking point.

Was it really fine for him to be alone all the time?  It was normally something which he didn’t give much thought to, but with Tsukune’s sudden disconnection from the group chat, he was starting to wonder if he needed to, well, make some actual friends in person.  Did Yuuri count?  Probably not, given that though he was an adult now, he was once a student of Kanoshi’s.  His supposed friendliness was probably just residual respect from the past, and shouldn’t be considered genuine.

Still, it wasn’t like there was an easy solution out there.  Kanoshi most certainly wasn’t thinking about becoming a magical boy, that much was for sure.  It was only on his mind because of his encounter earlier in the day, and he was just trying to wrap his head around why somebody would do that.  If he became one, and people found out… He could lose his job and his home, for starters; and it wouldn’t do anything for his social life, by far!  He’d just be even more alienated.

It was a good question, his student had asked him.  If it was so awful, why would anyone ever become a magica?  He gave an explanation that was honestly, bullshit.  He had no idea, when it came down to it, why somebody would throw away their life like that.  Horace… As much as meeting a Magical Boy terrified him, that guy didn’t seem like the type he’d expect to see becoming one.  He seemed so confident, not at all the type to give in to peer pressure or depression.  But he had, at some point in the past.

That was the really scary thing about it, Kanoshi thought.  It could be anyone, he could even be working alongside a magica.  If the question mark appeared somewhere easily concealed, then there was no way of knowing; especially since Magica could cast spells that made it so they could not be recognized in everyday life if seen in their magical form.  For all anyone knew, these ultra-dangerous people could be all around them at any time.  That was definite paranoia fodder.

After what he’d seen today, Kanoshi was no less terrified by that thought.  Maybe Horace was fine, and the Distributors didn’t even try to harrass him into becoming a magical boy himself, but there was still the corpse.  ‘Pretty Fighter Ribbon Red’... Had done something so brutal.  He paused where he sat eating his leftovers, then looked up to his monitor and clicked over to a news site.

Just as he thought, the news was already talking about the salaryman found dead with his head smashed like a watermelon.  Apparently, the police had already decided the only way something this drastic could have happened, especially at that hour of the day, was if it was the work of a Magica.  It wasn’t uncommon at all, these days, for the police to declare a crime the work of magical beings.  It tended to be obvious, in a lot of cases.  If it was caused in a way which didn’t seem plausible for a human, it was usually blamed on Magica.  Surely, a number of demons had gotten away with criminal activity with the police force’s tendency to go for the easiest suspect, but this at least confirmed those were at least sometimes correct.  Kanoshi knew firsthand that this murder had been carried out by a magical girl.

That Distributor which called itself Blade did say that Kanoshi wasn’t a target, that he wouldn’t be a target of Ribbon Red, but that wasn’t very reassuring.  So he wouldn’t have his head smashed, but there were plenty of other magica out there, and plenty who would commit crimes against innocents.  For all he knew, too, that cat was a liar.  And for all he knew, Horace was a liar too, when he said that he didn’t kill humans.

Kanoshi gave another exhausted sigh, then just threw his dishes in the sink before he left the room.  The living room and kitchen had no wall between them, then the bathroom and his bedroom were on either side of a short hallway atop a miniscule, narrow staircase consisting of only three steps.  He washed his face first, then retreated to his room and lay down on the bed.  That was one thing he was glad to have splurged on; a legitimate bed, rather than a futon.  Maybe it was childish, to spend so much just for some extra comfort, especially when living alone, but he liked it.  It wasn’t like he had anything better to buy with that money, and it was a more acceptable investment than spending the equivalent cost on mobile games.

He contemplated just going to sleep without checking his games, but decided that even in a bad mood, he just had to.  He was on the right track to get the Scenario MR from the current event as long as he kept playing regularly, and he had to get his daily loveca too.  He didn’t play too many these days, but he kept a few.  Dream Boyfriend was a game he really enjoyed for the concept, sure, but until Ambition released a game with as much thought and care as DGF, he was going to stick to that one.  The others just felt cheap after playing something with such an interesting and pretty art style.

He noticed that Tsukune still had him in his friends list on both the games he checked, so he felt a bit reassured.  Tsukki was a rather petty person, he’d learned, and if he really intended to cut ties with Kanoshi he wouldn’t have neglected any of the games they both played.  He was just letting Kanoshi sweat for… Some reason.  Maybe Tsukune was one of those people who had a morbid fascination with Magica.

Kanoshi didn’t even want to entertain the thought that his longtime friend would do something like become one.

Another thing that stood out about Dream Girlfriend was that it had announced, upon the surfacing of news reports about bad behavior from Magica, that it would no longer make its magical girl-themed items able to be used in recommendations, though owners of the items could still use them for their own accounts, to avoid fostering a brand new form of griefing.  It was strange, how certain events could alter the entire outlook of the world, and for that matter, the course of history.

Kanoshi could only imagine that somewhere out there, in the infinite universes theory, the vagrant killer had never hurt a child, the Korekara Massacre had never happened, the monsters which Magica fought against, their only positive contribution to society, didn’t exist, and the Distributors never came to this planet.  Even so, that seemed too good to be true.  These were truly dark days…

He could only hope that things would take a turn for the better eventually.  That was what happened, right?  There was plague in the west, but then they put a heavier emphasis on the importance of medicine.  There were feudal territory battles, which inspired a better united government.  There was death and destruction, then a post-war economic miracle.  It was just his luck that he was living in a time like this, in one of the world’s low points rather than a high point.

At least it was a golden age for video games.

With a sigh, Kanoshi banished his melancholy from his mind and rolled over, dropping his phone onto its charger before he fell asleep in mere moments.  Existential thinking was an exhausting way to pass the time.


When Kanoshi woke up the next morning, he mentally berated himself for forgetting to disable his alarm, hit dismiss, and rolled over back to sleep.  It was Sunday, as they’d scheduled the early release day to make the weekend start earlier, and he had no business waking up early enough to go to work.  Four hours later, he woke up for real, sitting up in bed and starting the day off by once more checking over his mobile games.  Tsukune still hadn’t removed him from the friends list on either of them.  So it probably was a problem with the program…

That was what Kanoshi was telling himself, anyway.  He sighed and put those worries out of his mind for now.  He stood up and went straight into the bathroom from his room, just going across the hall.  He always started his mornings the same way, even if it meant he needed to wake up extra early.  Mobile games, shower, get dressed, then either make breakfast and coffee or stop to buy it from one of the local cafes.  His favorite used to be Oishi Cafe, since he’d met the owners when their daughter was in his class, but since the massacre he’d avoided it.  He didn’t want to face Amai, a small and petulant brat from day one who would likely seize upon the opportunity to call him a horrible teacher for watching his students go on to that high school to kill or to die.

Now that he thought about it, that girl he’d seen in Shibuya was a bit like Amai, too, though their insults were rather different.  Both of them had what could only be called an affected cuteness to their appearance, hiding an abrasive and harsh nature.  Since they’d both attended Korekara, he had to wonder if those two might have been friends.  Perhaps they could tolerate each other…

It was too depressing, however, to think about what could have been before everything went wrong.  He distracted himself by just focusing on his shower, shampooing his hair as soon as it was wet rather than his usual habit of spacing out for a good ten minutes before taking any action.  Spacing out meant even more thinking, and he’d had quite enough of that for the past twenty-four hours.  The one amenity his apartment didn’t have was a full bath; he only had the shower portion.  When he finished showering, he got dressed in the bathroom, then froze midway through buttoning his shirt.  He’d heard a strange sound.  He did another button after brushing it off as a quirk of the building, but he’d hardly finished that when he was sure what he heard next was a voice.  Too far off to make out any words, but not far enough to be in the hallway.

There was somebody in his house.  He stayed right where he stood, holding his breath as he thought through it.  This was way too much excitement all at once!  Maybe he forgot to lock up last night, and someone who drank too much last night thought his apartment was theirs?  No, he definitely would have locked the door after being shaken up by his encounter with those two magica.  Could it be Ribbon Red, come to ensure there were no witnesses to her crime?  That didn’t make sense given she’d made no effort to hide the body, but Kanoshi didn’t claim to understand the way that criminals thought.

Paranoia aside, he knew that he couldn’t just hide in the bathroom forever.  Soap had no nutrients in it, he’d starve to death eventually.  That was the only thing that really stood out to him as a reason why he couldn’t just stay put and pretend nobody lived in his home so the intruder wouldn’t hurt him.  Then the other shoe dropped, besides starvation.  Of course whoever was in his apartment would need to use the bathroom at some point, and would discover him there…

He took a deep breath to try calming his nerves, and decided to investigate instead of just being a sitting duck.  At least he could get back into his bedroom, there were more hiding places in there.  As soon as he opened the bathroom door, however, his fear gave way to annoyance as he recognized the voices, even though he could only catch some of it from where he stood.

“Four hundred hours of playtime on …. ?  And the keys remapped so that …. hand”

“Do you think that he’s ….. ?”

“Oh absolutely, ….. No doubt about it-”

Horace Giorno
“Why are you in my house!?” Kanoshi shouted as he walked into the living room, flushed red as he could fill in the blanks of what they were talking about.  Sitting at his computer, one of his video games open to the statistics page, were Horace and one of the distributors.  Kanoshi hated that he remembered its name was Oh One.

“Oh, sleeping beauty is awake!” Horace grinned, spinning around in the chair to face him, “Not that I actually saw you sleeping.  I stayed out of your room.  Watching people sleep is most certainly not my style, unless I have good reason to be watching them sleep.  For example, having slept in the same place and being the first one to wake up.”

“Horace, the boy asked you a question!” Oh One chided him as it stepped closer to Kanoshi, shaking its head, “Apologies, Kanoshi Kyosuke!  I promise, we are not here to recruit you.  Horace simply wanted to see you again.  I swear, I am the only one around here with any manners whatsoever,” It sighed and seemed to sit down on the floor, though it was a little hard to tell when something so abnormal took a position.

“That really doesn’t answer my question in a satisfying way!” Kanoshi protested, crossing his arms and glowering at the distributor.

“Well, Must Pope promised him that we’d find another dumb gay human at the store, as if that’s possible.  There’s no store that could sell something like that.  Must Pope is still adjusting you see, since in its last universe, anything could be bought from a store, anything at all.  A very terrifying place which favored the rich, excluding those who became merchandise in stores to purchase a rich person.  I explained to it that here, it isn’t a matter of wanting a Kanoshi, it’s a matter of wanting the Kanoshi.”

“What Oh One is trying to say,” Horace stood up and gently tapped it with his foot, holding a hand out in front of himself, “Is that you and I got off on the wrong page, and I’d prefer to get to know you in a… human environment, see?”

Kanoshi didn’t shake his hand, “If that’s the case, why didn’t you make me forget I saw you as a magical boy?  And why bring the cat?” He looked around, “For that matter, where’s the rest of them?  And again, what makes you think that breaking into my house is a way to get me to interact with you as a human rather than a magica?”

“Wow, cold,” Horace sighed, shaking his hand out before returning it to his pocket, “Well, I can answer all of those questions.  I didn’t use a glamor because my mark is in such an obvious place, and besides, I don’t like hiding things about myself.  Our meet cute, anyway, is way better off being that I telekinetically picked you up off the ground while investigating the murder which made you fall over.”

“Meet cute implying that either of us will ever be telling anyone that we ever met,” Kanoshi deadpanned.

“Let me finish!” Horace continued, “I brought Oh One because it doesn’t let me go anywhere without at least one distributor supervising me.  I’m so valuable, after all, since I was the very first magica created on this planet, and a powerful one at that.  Can’t have anything bad happening to the Prince.  As for the others, well, just because they’re Oh One’s crew doesn’t mean they’re always with it!  They have their own magica to check in with.  As for breaking into your house… I have no excuse for that.”

“...I see,” Kanoshi dropped his aggressive stance and frowned, bringing his hands up to cover his mouth as he looked away with a wave of anxiety crashing over him, “O-Oh no, what if my landlord finds out you were here!?  I’ll be evicted for sure if he finds out I let a magical boy in here…”

“Let?  Kanoshi-kun, that’s funny.  I did commit a crime, a B&E so to speak.  Nobody would fault you for that,” Horace shook his head and took a step closer.

“Well, I’m letting you stay here long enough to drink a cup of coffee,” Kanoshi muttered as he wandered into his kitchen space, “Which I really shouldn’t, I mean, rewarding bad behavior?  That’s the first thing you learn never to do when working with children…”

“Then lucky for you I’m not a child,” Horace joked, then sat up on an empty bit of counter space near Kanoshi, “Unlucky for me, I don’t drink coffee.  Tea’s more my thing, or energy drinks if I really need the caffeine.”

“You even have to make hospitality difficult,” Kanoshi sighed, but opened up a cabinet below the countertops and pulled out a rarely-used tea kettle his dad had sent him as a housewarming gift when he first moved to the area.  Though he rarely had anyone over he’d make tea for, he kept the thing clean on principle.  His dad wanted him to be using it, to be a little less socially inept than he’d been himself.

“I’m not making anything difficult,” Horace shrugged, shifting to instead lie down on the counter, “I’m simply saying that you shouldn’t bother making me a cup of coffee that I wouldn’t enjoy anyway.  I’d drink it out of gratitude due to it being the thought that counts, but that would be a waste of your coffee beans.”

“No, I’m going to make you some tea,” Kanoshi grumbled, shaking his head as he filled the kettle with water and set it on the stove.

“Why would you do that?” Horace froze, seemingly at a loss for words for the first time since the two men at odds had met each other.

“I honestly don’t know.  I should hate you on principle.  There’s nothing you’ve done which has made me think any different of you than I do of other magica.  I mean, you broke into my house, it isn’t like I’m going to think you’re a non-criminal magical boy,” He switched on the gas, making sure it was actually lit before he turned away and crossed his arms, frowning at Horace, “I guess, maybe I can’t just hate somebody for being a criminal, even if… I know something is wrong, it doesn’t mean that I can actually feel anger towards someone just because of that.  Sometimes, Magica are victims too.  Those times when you fail, and the property damage sticks, whatever you’re fighting must be pretty terrifying.  I just can’t imagine why anyone would subject themselves to that, would do a crime to enter a life of fear… Before, I thought it was only bad people, or people with no chance at life who’d become magica, but now I’m not so sure.”

“Why, because you met somebody as charming as me?” Horace questioned, sitting back up and leaning in towards Kanoshi.

“That’s part of it,” He nodded in response, tapping a finger against his chin, “I also think a friend of mine who I’ve known for years might have become one.  That just doesn’t make sense to me, with what I’ve heard, what I’ve been told to tell the kids.”

“What you’ve been told to tell the kids,” Horace sighed, staring across the room, “Hey, I get it’s a new thing, but how much of what you’ve been told to tell the kids do you really believe, huh?  Don’t they also say to tell the kids that alcohol tastes bad, sex will kill you, and you’ll actually use algebra in life?”

“Hey, algebra is useful!  In occasional, very specific situations!” Kanoshi protested, but then groaned, “You’re right, though.  It’s the responsibility of adults to think critically about what everyone’s saying…” He closed his eyes, dipping his head towards the floor with his voice soft, “Still, that magical girl yesterday did kill somebody.  And it’s not like she’s the only one.  And even if people’s ideas about magica are wrong, that doesn’t change that they have those ideas, and will act on them.  I love my job, so I wouldn’t risk it, even if there was some reward, which as far as I can tell, there isn’t.”

“Well, let me set your mind at rest.  I dunno about this friend of yours, but when I became the first magical boy on this planet… Oh One didn’t withhold any information from me.  It said that in some universes, magica end up hated, sometimes even hunted.  It said that being a magical boy is dangerous and thankless, and I still took it up without a second thought, and that’s because I didn’t have anything to lose,” Horace explained, tilting his head to the side, “I’m not willing as of yet to dive into everything, but I was at rock bottom.  I was the type of person you’d expect to give in.  I used the power I got to pick myself up and do something with my life again.”

Before Kanoshi could respond, Horace was on his feet and standing especially close again, whispering, “I know I teased you yesterday, asking if you’d join me, but I wouldn’t recommend becoming a magical boy unless you’re certain it would be a net gain.  There are rewards, but none which would please someone who’s already happy.”

“I see…” Kanoshi gave a slow nod, not moving from where he stood as the kettle started to whistle, only turning to pour the hot water over a teabag rather than stepping away from Horace, “You know, I guess I wouldn’t mind if you came by from time to time.  It must be pretty lonely being a magical boy, and I’m ashamed to admit that all of my friends are online.”

Horace reached around Kanoshi to grab the steeping teacup, then wandered over and sat down at the kotatsu which sat in the space between the kitchen area and the computer desk, “There’s no shame in using modern technology to get to know people.”

“Well, maybe not, but it is a shame to rely on it,” Kanoshi sighed as he joined Horace, sitting down cross-legged, “Sometimes, I definitely wish I had friends who could actually come to my house.”

“I can fill that position temporarily, until you find some better friends in person,” Horace chuckled, stirring the bag around in his teacup with a jovial smile on his face.

“Say,” Kanoshi started, leaning forward on the table with his cheek rested in one hand, “Your name was Horace Giorno, right?  And you’re from Italy?  How do you speak Japanese so well?”

“Well, the truth is that I don’t!  I don’t speak a word of it, and I definitely can’t read or write it,” He answered, “And to me, you sound like you’re speaking Italian.  It’s a matter of simple magic, a latent skill every magica receives.  Usually it only works while transformed or focusing on using it, but anyone with the mark on their tongue or an ear gets it automatically.  Likewise, those with marks on their arms get strength while not transformed, legs get speed, torso gets endurance…” He tapped his chin for a moment, thinking, “I think neck counts as torso, too.  Head or face in general, I’m not sure how to put this… if I had it on my cheek rather than my tongue, I would have my unique telekinesis ability without transforming.”

“That’s pretty interesting,” Kanoshi blinked slowly, “So… Italy, huh?  I heard there’s good food there.  What do you like?”

“Not a whole lot!” Horace laughed as he answered, “One of the food capitals of the world, that’s my country, but I’m a very picky eater.  I’ll eat pasta, but not with any sauce but plain butter.  Grilled cheese, but not with whole or multigrain bread, and only with certain types of cheese, too.  It’s specific but not expensive tastes for me.”

“And you’re trying to claim you’re not a child?” Kanoshi smirked back at him, “That’s the diet of a nine year old!”

“I assure you, I’m quite the adult.  I’m thirty, though I’ll never look a day past twenty-nine, since I became a magical boy a whole year ago,” He chuckled, drumming his fingers against the table, “And how old are you, Kanoshi-kun?  That’s one thing I wasn’t able to figure out.”

“I’m twenty-seven now,” Kanoshi answered, then blinked a few times as he looked Horace over, “Thirty?  Twenty-nine when you became a magical boy?  So if you were the first one, why is everyone saying it’s teens who are high risk?”

“I have no clue.  Probably because nobody wants to hold adults responsible for their actions, and it’s easy to say it’s the new generation who are ruining the world,” Horace waved a hand in the air, then started sipping at his tea with the bag still in it, “Truth is, there’s more adults by far.  The younger magica I’ve personally met, they usually had better reasons to do it, too.”

“Huh…” Kanoshi mumbled, looking down at the table.

“So, twenty-seven… I did know you started teaching at Aoba Public Middle when you were twenty.  Isn’t it boring, to work at the same place, in the same job for seven years?” Horace wondered, and his tone was just one of curiosity, “When I was still, y’know, human, the longest job I ever held was two years, and that was already getting to be a big-time drag.”

“It’s not really a job to me,” Kanoshi shook his head, “I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was the age of the kids I’m teaching now.  I meet new kids every year, and I try my best to be there for them because most of them come from families which can’t afford any other middle school, or who can’t pass the entrance exams, or whose family just won’t bother with anything better.  It’s all I can do to try and offer help, academically and emotionally to kids like these.  Aoba Middle’s reputation is pretty bad, so it wouldn’t look good on my resume if I went anywhere else, even if I wanted to, which I don’t.  So here I am.  I’ll probably keep this same job my whole life!”

“That’s an impressive level of devotion,” Horace noted, then finished his tea and stood up, “Ah, I should be going.  It seems a monster has just started to attack Ikebukuro.  Oh One, it’s time to go!” He called, and it stood up from where it had been laying in the sunlight filtering through Kanoshi’s window.

“Well, I’ll see you soon!” Kanoshi smiled back at Horace, and waved as he left, then just stayed where he was for a few more minutes, thinking about what had just happened.  He’d had a normal, pleasant conversation with a magical boy who’d just shown up in his home unannounced.  That wasn’t… Normal.  Was he really so desperate for socialization that he’d stoop so low?  That line of thought was what he was supposed to think, for sure, but he wasn’t really feeling it as a ‘stoop’ moment.

He pulled his phone out and decided to at least attempt to send direct messages to the two friends who’d disappeared the previous night.

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