This fic is set a couple years into Yoshi’s attendance at Addergoole (Yoshi being Cynara’s oldest son; Ruki/Sigruko mentioned below is Leo’s older daughter, by Aelfgifu). I’m not 100% happy with Regine’s voice in this, but I wrote this for fun, so… here’s Regine losing an argument.
“I did not anticipate this.” Regine glared at the notes in front of her as if they were personally responsible for her current predicament.
“You should have.” Laurel Valerian was pulling no punches today. “It’s what you wanted, after all.”
“This – this violence is not what I wanted!” Regine frowned at the notes again. They’d had no fewer than four instances where students had come far too close to being expelled – and in one case, the only reason that nobody had been expelled had been that the boy hadn’t been trying to kill anyone. He’d left them hung upside-down in full view of a camera, but the story his victim was telling was that the boy had held a knife to their throat and whispered “If I wanted you dead, you’d be gone.”
The other instances, Luke, Agmund, or Shou had caught before it had turned into murder. That one, nobody had noticed until it was done – and that worried Regine.
Shira was laughing at her now, which was not helping Regine’s mood at all. “Certain violence is all right, but other violence isn’t, is that it?”
“This was nearly murder!”
“Good.” Shira’s eyes were cold, even though she was smiling. “It might teach the victims a lesson.”
“And what lesson would that be?” When had her staff stopped being frightened of her?
To add insult to injury, it was Agmund who answered this time. “There are people you do not mess with because their family will mess you up,” he offered cheerfully.
“It’s the logical outgrowth of what you were building here,” Laurel added. “You wanted strong students who could survive an apocalypse. The ones that could, did. And now their children are here.”
“This is not what I meant by strong. Beating up on those who get near their younger family, defending them against everyone who has any interest in them.”
“You didn’t have an concern when Adorlee was pimping out her cousin out a few years ago.” Shira leaned forward, as if going in for the kill. “So it’s only okay for them to be awful to their family, and not support their kin?”
“…What?” Mike sounded genuinely horrified.
“Sorry, Mike, but you never should have Mentored your own daughter.” Shira’s tone gentled. “Pimping out Eryk isn’t the worst of her sins, but it’s pretty high up there. If you wonder why Eryk tried to keep Kishmish locked in a bubble,” Shira added, mostly to Regine, “or why Yoshi is doing his best to protect Ruki and will probably do the same for Viðrou next year – start there. You let people get tortured, sold, abused, turned into human dolls, they are going to react. They might do so by being absolutely certain that the same doesn’t happen to the rest of their family.”
“Also…” Laurel was smiling. That was never a good sign. “These are kids raised in the apocalypse. Can you imagine how many times they were told ‘take care of your sister;’ ‘take care of your brother?’ I mean, I’ve heard that time and time again from the kids that came out of that. They were raised being miniature adults.”
“The whole concept of this school,” Regine complained, “is to give them a place to learn the dangers of being adult without actually having the long-term consequences of those dangers or the mistakes that can be made.”
“For instance,” Shira offered cheerfully, far too cheerfully, “making enemies with someone who has more deadly allies than you do?”
“Not taking on someone with a large support base unless your support base is willing to back you?” offered Reid in a treacherous moment.
“Don’t forget,” Luke rumbled, “‘know your enemy.’ Regine, it’s not as if these kids won’t have these support bases in the real world. You can’t tell me, for instance, facing Sigruko sh’Leofric out in the world would be a good idea? She wouldn’t just have Kishmish and Yoshi backing her up out there, she’d have the entirety of Boom. And I, for one, do not want to see what that group does if you threaten their children.”
“They bury you,” Valerian purred. “It’s quite impressive.”
“That’s beside the point.” Regine glared at all of them. “They are bypassing all of the traditions of Addergoole, and it is going to cause difficulties. You can’t tell me you haven’t heard the complaints from the upperclassmen already.”
“My kids don’t do Hell Night predation,” Luke pointed out. “If they want to Keep, say, a Boom kid, they’re going to negotiate it politely. And even Boom big siblings can’t argue too much with polite negotiations.”
“Mine often get signed contracts,” Drake agreed. “Again, this leaves less room for worried siblings.”
Agmund laughed. “I have heard complaints. I have also been asked how they can ensure that their children come to Addergoole at the same time, so they can protect each other.”
Regine resisted the urge to put her face in her hands. “The students like it,” she posited, “and so do all of you.”
“So, why don’t you, Director?” Shira’s tone was more placatory now. “Because clearly you don’t.”
Regine frowned. “They are solving things with threats and violence, and they are disrupting the way things run here. We have finally worked out a balance of predatory tactics vs. the safety of the students, and now they are throwing that into disarray again.”
“Regine,” Reid interjected, his voice kindly, “they’re teenagers. They inherently create disarray. And their lives – as Laurel pointed out – have been in disarray for years. They’re going to be more violent than their parents, in some cases; they’ve likely seen more violence than their parents had at their age.”
“And what about when they kill someone with this understandable, reasonable, laudable violence?” Regine did not snap. She had not snapped at anyone in years. But it was a close thing.
“I would suggest,” Agmund offered, “that we think about that now. What about when someone is killed? Do we stick to ‘expulsion?’ Do we punish more minor transgressions when we never have before?”
“Call an all-class assembly and tell them the rules are changing,” Shira offered. “Lay out what’s unacceptable and what the punishments are. And then stick to it. People will test you. People will test the rules.”
“So,” Regine studied their faces. “You’re suggesting that the answer to the potential of one student murdering another is to punish more minor crimes before it gets to murder? But only going forward, no ‘grandfathering in’ past infractions?”
“You can’t punish Yoshi,” Luke cut in. “Not for this one. And if you’re thinking of trapping him into a punishment, I wouldn’t recommend it.” His wings were still. Regine found that more concerning than when he flapped. “Think about it. Tethys Kept him pretty badly–“
“There was no abuse,” Regine cut in. “We have been watching for abuse.”
“We’ve been watching for physical abuse. If you think that’s the only sort that can happen, Regine, then I don’t know why you’re teaching Mind Workings.” Luke glared at her, daring her to argue with him.
Regine wanted to. She considered her options, and decided to allow, “We have been watching for physical abuse. We discussed matters ten years ago and agreed that we needed to be vigilant to starvation, torture, rape, and other violent abuses. And we have been. Yoshi was not physically abused.”
“Look at Boom. Do you think that would be enough to stop an attack? No. Boom is waiting. If Yoshi wants to protect his family, let him.” Luke’s glare was hard and unyielding. “Let that one be, Regine.”
“And, for the rest?”
“We draw up a list of things that we won’t tolerate it. We all agree on it. And then we make it clear, in assembly and privately to each of our cy’rees, that we are serious about it going forward.” Reid nodded politely at all of them, but there was no more yield in him than in Luke. “And we’re careful we don’t penalize people banding together. After all, that’s what will save their lives.”
Regine knew when she’d been beaten. “Then that’s what we’ll do,” she agreed. “Let’s start on a list.”
Other students mentioned:
Adorlee is Magnolia’s oldest, by Mike. Mags lives at the Ranch, with Boom (mostly with Howard), raising her children and Shiva’s (Shiva vanished in the war) (Shiva is also Magnolia’s half-sister, and her crew).
Eryk is Shiva’s oldest son (by Ty).
Kishmish is Shiva’s youngest daughter (by Nikita)
Viðrou is Cynara’s and Leo’s son, the second child for both of them.
cy’ree is “my students, those I Mentor.”
sh’ is “daughter of the mother.” Yes. Mother.
Think that’s everyone.
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