[identity profile] aphelion-orion.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] off_the_homerow
Drabblet to stretch my fingers.

Title: The Civility of Envy
Fandom: Mana Khemia
Characters: Roxis, Vein
Rating: G
Contains: Use of the original Japanese names abounds. I like them better.


The Civility of Envy




If there is one thing he hates, it's being thrown together for group assignments.

It's what a workshop and this whole school are about in theory, forcing a bunch of crazy, work-obsessed alchemists to learn some social skills and coexist without blowing each other up every five minutes, but in practice, things look quite different, the weaker, lazier students trying to hitch a ride on the coattails of the hard workers, and most workshops have some absurd teamwork philosophy to go with it. Isolde's workshop is different, each student for himself as the unspoken rule, and he likes it better for that, even if he doesn't like his compatriots.

Then again, when has he ever liked anyone? Liking someone isn't a particularly smart thing to do, not in general and certainly not when your name is Rosenkreuz, with about three dozen extended family circling on the periphery of your life like a bunch of degenerate vultures, flapping, squawking, floundering in their own ineptitude but periodically dipping down to try and snatch up a tasty morsel. 'Friendship' is synonymous with 'favor,' and if you peek past the sycophantic praise you learn that it's entirely one-sided. Liking someone doesn't factor into it, and if you do, then, well, your loss.

Al-Revis isn't much different; he's heard more than a couple of girls giggling to each other about what a good match he'd make, as if marrying into the eminent house of Rosenkreuz still means anything. On the outside, he supposes it does; the family has done their best to keep the diminished bloodline a secret, after all, still spending the money on a new coat of paint for the mansion each year, and if his father goes out on one of his "jobs", he makes sure to do so incognito.

The lack of glory only becomes apparent when you visit the derelict work rooms, with cauldrons and beakers collecting dust and cobwebs, when you open all the rooms you aren't supposed to peek into and catch sight of the threadbare carpets and the peeling tapestry, or trail up the grand staircase and know your family tree well enough to identify your father as a gambler-slash-addict and your grandfather as a quack, have heard the stories of your great-aunt reading the future from tea leaves and your second cousin making a living as an appraiser of alchemic gems and metals, with more than one block of lead receiving a more attractive sheen before it passes the counter.

And even with the great ones and their discoveries, there's more than enough gossip hiding between the embellishments — great-grandfather Oswald might have postulated the second principle of alchemic energy transfer, but spent his time chasing the skirts of barely legal servant girls, and great-grandcousin Hilda might have revolutionized pentagle refinement, but she'd always had a bit of a temper that only got worse with age, until she ended up confined to the west wing attic, screaming obscenities and hurling bedpans all day long.

There isn't much there that is worth the weight of the name.

The teachers are worse. Every second class he's been to included a little comedy skit where the teacher came in, put his notes down, and then did a double-take to goggle at Roxis like the two-headed chicken in the freak show of a country fair. As if they didn't read the class roster. As if seeing him in the flesh was somehow different from seeing his signature on the sign-up sheet. Seppl went straight from "Sir" to "Imbecile" in his head, even before he noticed how the guy ran his classes, an unorganized mess designed to cost the teacher as little effort as possible, for his breathless babbling about the honor of being able to teach both the heir of Theophrastus Aureolus and the heir of Rosenkreuz in his lifetime.

It's gotten thrown around a lot since then, whenever there's an exercise coming up, some kind of task or problem the students are meant to solve. Surely Roxis won't have a problem with it. Why, I'm sure he's already solved it. Please give the other students some time to answer, Roxis. Oh, such an efficient solution, Roxis. That's the second time this morning that I've been surprised, Roxis. I'm sure both your test scores will be very interesting, Roxis. You are really giving Vein a run for his money, Roxis.

Of course, the pointless blathering drew the ire of his fellow students, and he couldn't blame them. It certainly drew his own ire, and in a way, he was almost grateful to find three guys waiting for him at the door to his dorm within the week, because it meant he could let off some steam, pound his rage into someone else.

Vein Aureolus and Roxis Rosenkreuz.

Seppl's obsession is getting unhealthy. Across the aisle, Vein is squirming in his seat, risks a glance in his direction, and the hopeful "please-don't-eat-me" look is enough to make Roxis feel sick. His glare makes the other boy rock back against his desk, eyes firmly directed at the textbook in front of him, and if Roxis cared to pay attention to such things, he could see his ears turning pink.

Shame. A familiar companion. Twice now, Vein has approached him outside of class, all hunched shoulders and mumbled "hi"s, stuttering his way through an apology and offering his notes, the son of Aureolus bowing down to the one whose father was too proud to apply for a stipend in order to cover the school fees. He's not sure who Vein thinks he's fooling, Roxis or himself or any number of their hawk-eyed classmates - at least half of them are itching for the big explosion as much as Roxis is, and there's a rather vocal minority that always makes sure to talk just a little bit louder when he's walking by, what a horrible person he is for being so mean to poor, kind-hearted Vein. The beast girl that always hangs out at his desk during lunch has taken to throwing him dirty looks in the hallways.

Like it's not all an act, Vein secure in his superiority in every way. And if it isn't, well... then he's a bigger idiot than Roxis thinks he is, and he already thinks Vein a rather substantial fool. Who in their right mind would willingly paint 'victim' all over themselves, cringing and blushing and always trying not to offend anyone - and Vein has to know, he has to, how many brownie points he's scoring that way, with the teachers and the students who have some kind of latent mothering complex. He's seen the same kid tear through a horde of wild bears like it's nothing, so there's no reason to behave like a beaten dog.

One by one, the names are called, and Roxis slides out of his chair before Vein manages to, keeping his ears closed as firmly as he can — certainly, this will be finished in record time, he's going to learn a few things from this himself, with two geniuses cracking on this — and grabs the necessary gear from Seppl before he can get through the dreaded portmanteau.

Vein Aureolus and Roxis Rosenkreuz.

Two people who never should have had to exist in the same room together, and now they're being compressed into a single phrase, spoken in one breath, inexorably chained by the speaker's intent.

Vein-Aureolus-and-Roxis-Rosenkreuz.

He wonders if curses start out this way.





-Fin-

------

A/N: Will maybe do more like this in the future. Also believe that Seppl is a tool. XD C&C is appreciated.



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