Waking Early

This is @Inventrix’s commissioned continuation words from the March Giraffe Call.

Addergoole East is the school run by Dean Kailani Storm; it opens in some form before the 2011 apocalypse and is a full-fledged school for fae and humans within a decade of that.

This story takes place at least a generation after that. So: 2011+10+20 (Yr 17+10+20) = 2041, Year 47 of the Addergoole School, Year 20 of Addergoole East.

Kiba woke with the sunrise, un-surprised to find her roommate already up and gone. Serenity was a work-study student; her parents hadn’t had the money to pay tuition (so very few people did anymore), so she did odd jobs around the place to cover the cost of her education.

So did Kiba, of course, although she was a legacy student. “It’ll keep you honest.” Her mother was a big proponent of keeping Kiba honest. As if, without constant supervision, Kiba was going to turn into a lying, cheating, philandering wanderer of some sort.

Of course, to hear her mother tell it, that’s what her father had been, so maybe there was some merit to the concern.

She dressed quickly – there was frost on the trees outside, and, although the school was well-insulated, it wasn’t all that warm, not when the fire had died down – and hurried downstairs for breakfast.

The dining hall was nearly empty, this early in the morning – most students would either come down in an hour, when the main breakfast was served, or had already eaten earlier, like Serenity. But Kiba liked it now, quiet, with the warmth of porridge to fill her up and the slow happy caffeine of a mug of tea for a bit of extra perk.

Her first class wasn’t until eight, but her Mentor was waiting for her out in the orchard. “You’re early.” It was clear Kavan Pensus approved. “Let’s go through the first seven Kata while we wait to see if the sleepyheads show up.”

“Yes, Professor.” Kiba bowed low, smiled, and began the exercises. There had been nothing like this back home, even with her parents having come out of Addergoole First. Of course, home had been a lot of trying to stay alive and trying to hold on to a culture that had been gone before Kiba had been born.

Professor Pensus had his own set of kata; the Seven were a set of stretches that slid seamlessly into calisthenics and from there into attack poses.

As she stepped into the calisthenics, Pensus, down on the floor in a split, began quizzing her. “How have you been sleeping?”

“My rest,” she caught her breath, and remembered to speak evenly, “has been pleasant. Serenity isn’t – is not having nightmares any more. She is sleeping more evenly, as well.”

“And Kaspar?”

“Professor.” She finished her last jumping jack and paused long enough to practice her disappointed-gaze at her Mentor. “Such things are private.”

“And I am your Mentor.”

“Yes, but you are not my lover nor my Keeper.” She fell into the next set of poses before she could be corrected.

“These things are true. And yet can I not be concerned about your life?”

“You can, of course, be concerned and curious. But it still remains my right to have a private life, so long as I do not give that right to another.”

“And you do not plan to give that right to Kaspar?”

“Am I late?” Jethro hurried into the courtyard and dropped into the first Kata.

“You are on time. What have I told you about being on time?” The professor was clearly enjoying this. Kiba hid her smile in another pose.

“Yes, Professor, I mean, no, Professor, I mean…” Jethro, who was never good at the mornings anyway, was saved by the rest of their cy’ree appearing.

“How do you get there so early?” Jethro and Clove shared most of Kiba’s classes, so they walked together from their morning training session most days. “I mean, there’s never a morning when you’re not there.”

“Come on, Jethro.” Clove clucked in amusement. “What does the professor tell you? Use the information you’re given.”

“The information I have is that Kiba shows up early every morning for training with Professor Pensus. I assume that she’s not a ridiculous kiss-up, because I’ve never seen her kissing up to other teachers. See, more observed information. And she doesn’t have morning chores.”

“But her roommate does.”

Kiba looked between the two of them, amused. “Excellent deduction, Clove. Actually, I’m just used to getting up early, and never got into the habit of sleeping in that some people get into when they come to school.”

“Farm family?” Jethro hazarded it a little more cautiously. Kiba wondered if he was afraid of offending her.

“Farm family.” Kiba nodded. They didn’t need to know the nitty-gritty stuff, at least not yet. “And, besides, I really like the morning session.”

“So maybe you are a kiss-up.” Jethro’s arm came around Kiba’s shoulder in a way that was somewhere between friendly and familiar. “Let’s see how you feel after the afternoon session.”

Kiba didn’t move his arm. She found she liked its warmth. “We’ll see.” Glancing over at his expression, and catching Clove’s in the process, she thought maybe there were quite a few things they’d be seeing.

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