or: i couldn’t help myself. again. @ezdotjpg
“Can you please,” War said, momentarily distracted from what he had poked his head into the practice room to say, “stop stealing other sections' kids.”
Mage looked up from his book and slid his eyes over to Mini. Ostensibly he then began using telepathy, because Mini shook his head without even turning towards him. “I don't,” said Mage, with no inflection whatsoever.
“Can you please stop harboring other sections’ kids when they run away?” War said, not irritably because it was Mage, but not not irritated, because it was Mage.
His fellow senior and the longtime enemy of any established order returned his attention to his homework and went back to reading, visibly exiting the conversation.
War really hated him, sometimes.
“Does Groose know you’re in here?” War asked Mini, switching targets. He supposed that in fairness there was a nonzero chance that the answer was yes, but as far he had been told, pit was supposed to be practicing in the band room. Which Mini obviously was not.
In defiance of War’s brief lapse into optimism, Mini began moving his mallets incrementally closer to the xylophone, shoulders curving slightly inwards. He glanced up to give War the closest thing to a literal fish eye he had ever been on the receiving end of, and War sighed.
He wasn’t actually the band director, so— whatever. This particular issue could be someone else’s headache.
“Have you seen Mirror?” he asked, directing the question at Mage again. Mini correctly assumed this meant he was off the hook, and he straightened and cheerfully started playing where he had left off when War opened the door. It was not a song that War recognized, which he reminded himself was not currently his problem.
“No,” said Mage, scribbling in his notebook.
“Do you know where Mirror is?” said War, and Mage flipped to another section of his textbook without answering.
After waiting a few beats in vain, wherein neither of the other two deigned to acknowledge his presence any further, War rolled his eyes.
He closed the door on them, in the interests of preserving his sanity. If they had been any other students, he might have tried harder to prod them back to where they were supposed to be— technically Mage was also running away, though if anyone had ever bothered to try to wrangle him, War had never seen it— but he wasn’t the sort of person that enjoyed pounding his head against brick walls.
And of course getting Mage to tell him literally anything was equally an exercise in futility, so he had other things to do, thanks.
He tried the next practice room, and bit back another sigh.
“Oh!” said Loft, also apparently playing hooky and looking guilty from where he sat next to a dead-eyed Slate on the floor. “Um,” he started, but War didn't actually care.
“Have either of you seen Mirror?” he asked, before he was subjected to whatever excuse Loft was fumbling for.
“No?” said Loft, and Slate just kind of stared at him, so that was another thing that he wasn't going to deal with. He closed the door on them, too.
The other practice room had been empty, which meant he should probably look in the gym or one of the courtyards or wherever else the color guard might be holed away from the rest of them.
His phone buzzed in his pocket as he was exiting the band hall, and he pulled it out to see that Wake had texted him approximately thirty times in thirty seconds.
did u find him yet, they all read, without the many typos.
No, he said, and got a barrage of thumbs down emojis. He started making his way to the gym, waiting for Wake to stop typing as he walked through the empty hallways.
do uk where loft went
the woodwinds r sll wandering arnd like sad abandoned orphans
and im tryn 2 help spirit n mask with them
but the upperclassmen r rebelling
Practice room, he said, taking the stairs down two at a time, crying over Slate’s dead body
wait that was a joke right
war answer me we can’t lose our mascot
War snorted, because no one else was around, and he could do that.
I thought you said Mirror was the mascot
i mean ya but obvi ur gonna kill him so we need a new 1
or i guess mini could do it
speaking of groose is blowing up my phone hve u seen him
Mage, War said, which was all he needed to say.
oh lmao again???
i didn’t even notice mage was gone tho how does he do thtt
and who’s watching brass
y is every1 leaving smh r they 2 good 2 play the same 3 measures 4 6 hrs like the rest of us
Bye, War sent, pulling open the gym door.
come 2 my fineral
i meant funeral but actually bury me with a shark and make that joke or i’ll haunt u
War switched his phone off and stuck it in his pocket again, making a beeline to where Mirror was spinning obliviously by the bleachers.
When War got within about 3 feet of him, Mirror noticed his approach, and cringed out from under his toss in such a way that his flag hit the floor inches away from War with a bang.
“Whoops!” he said, sheepishly grinning like he hadn’t almost just let a 6 foot metal pole wildly careen into the side of War’s skull, “My bad!”
The rest of the flag line had glanced over at the noise, but upon seeing War’s face shuffled their block safely out of range, leaving Mirror standing a little separate from the rest of them.
He sent them a betrayed look.
“So you’re failing,” War said without preamble, and Mirror attempted not to grimace at him.
“I'm failing right now,” he said placatingly, like that meant anything when grades were going to be finalized at the end of the week. Seeing that this clarification was not going to save him from whatever dark fate War’s expression was spelling out, he mustered a mostly convincing smile. “I won't be failing at the end of the week!”
“Why,” said War, if not skeptical then at least unswayed from a path of extreme violence. Which, within the structure of the band, meant forcing Mirror to lug around props and play chromatic scales in his free time.
“My paper!” said Mirror, gesturing expansively, and then when this also failed to have any effect, he added, “I already talked to Mage about it.”
There were a lot of things War might feel like doing if Mage were a normal human being, but instead Mage was a weirdly terrifying monster of a person, so War just had to be irritated at Mirror.
“Mage isn't leadership,” he said, mostly calmly, “and you're in my section, so talk to me about it.”
“It isn't a failing paper!” Mirror exclaimed, attempting to surreptitiously scoot his flag closer to himself with his feet so he could grab it. War crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at him.
Mirror snatched his pole and gave him a pitiful expression. “Really! Or I mean like,” he said dismissively, waving a hand as he neatly rolled up the silk, “it got failed, but that's because Yuga hates me, and also basically teaches historical revisionism. The paper was good! So my grade is going to be fixed before report cards go out.”
“Can you tell me,” War said, no less disgusted after this explanation, “why you decided to pick a fight with a teacher right before competitions start?”
“Well, obviously I didn't think he'd fail me,” Mirror said, leaning on his pole and pouting. “And it’s not like he can get away with it, so why not? Anyway, I already talked to a bunch of people, it’s going to be fixed, I’ll still be able to play my solo, so it’s fine!”
War still felt faintly dubious— Mirror was absolutely not above lying, although the fact that the color guard coach hadn’t killed him herself was a promising sign— but if he didn’t have to press gang anyone else into groveling for extra credit, he wasn’t going to complain. Especially since, this last minute, he was getting out of having to grovel to Yuga, too.
“Would it kill you,” he said, sighing as Mirror brightened, “to tell me about these things before I get sent to yell at you?”
“I feel like you might have killed me, at first,” Mirror said, brazen and grinning again now that he had decided War probably wasn’t going to yell at him. “But you don’t need to worry anymore! Impa just emailed me a few minutes ago that she was gonna talk to Yuga about it, so that should at least get me to passing.”
If Mirror (or, more likely, this was where Mage had been involved) had roped the head of the history department into it, it probably would be fine; Impa was another uniquely terrifying person, and she was in all likelihood going to snap Yuga like a twig.
Which was great, because War was the backup option for Mirror’s solo. And since it was Mirror’s solo, playing it meant he would have been forced into the middle of the color guard’s drill. They would never in a million years extend the same mercy Mirror got to him; he was horribly certain Slate would have found a way to give him brain damage by the time Mirror wheedled his way back into performing.
So yes, he really would have killed Mirror if he’d gotten himself failed by provoking Yuga for no reason, and that kind of just made this situation even more irritating.
“I really would have,” he said, since it was true, and also it made him feel a little better to see Mirror’s smile crack around the edges.
“Right,” he said, sidling back to his block, “but now you don’t have to do that, so….” and he promptly ran away.
War pulled out his phone again.
Is there any particular reason, he texted Mage, completely ignoring Wake’s many and various messages detailing the woodwinds’ rampage, that you didn’t tell me about Mirror’s paper?
No, said Mage.
So War was probably just going to go sit in the band director’s office and stare at the wall for a while.
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