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Pressure, Poets, Priceless Smiles

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“You may introduce yourself to the students.”

“Jonathan Sims.”

There was a scrawny man sitting on the desk of the classroom. His long salt and pepper hair pulled back into a messy bun, some strands of hair popping out from places where they had come loose. He wore a green sweater, that was too big, over a white dress shirt, formal pants being held up by a brown belt. His look was one of someone not sure how to be a teacher, so he simply put together what he could find in the back of his closet. That’s exactly what happened. He forgot how it was to be professional. It had been a few years and a now fixed apocalypse that had been wiped from everyone’s memories since the last time he was in a professional situation. Cut him some slack, he’s trying his best.

Piercing glares from children burned into his skin. Looks of malicious intent. Small smirks pulling on their lips and they schemed and giggled to one another. Were they making fun of him? Most likely. Jon heard a few of them mocking his accent even though he had only spoke for a second or two. They giggled, their piercing eyes staring, knowing the gaze would unsettle the average person.

But Jon was unfazed.

“I am sure you all are aware why I am here. I will be your new teacher for the year.”

Yes, yes. Of course. The third teacher this year and it’s barely halfway. The teacher leaves, one comes, they leave, repeat. It had been this way at the school for years. It had always been a game to anyone in the theatre class on who can make the teacher resign the fastest. The class was never taken seriously. Nobody payed attention, nobody learned. Anyone had pity for the poor theatre teachers. The students didn’t have plans of stopping anytime soon.

The principal stood as the silence grew longer, the tension grew stronger. She rocked back and forth, thinking of anything she needed to add. She had already told Jon about the class’ games, and how she had attempted to stop it, but had been unsuccessful every year, letting him know exactly what he was getting himself into. Most of the teachers in the past had either declined the position, or had some sort of apprehension before continuing, but Jon had no sign of such. He accepted no questions, no problems, with a smile. Just as she was about to turn to excuse herself, he cut her off.

“I can take it from here. Feel free to leave, Ms. Peterson.” He smiled at her, and she wondered how he had no sign of regret or fear in his expression,

“Ah, of course. Off I go.” She smiled at him with a nervous chuckle, rushing out of the room without extra commentary or looking back. He turned back to the class.

He didn’t not notice the class’ obviously bad intentions, he just couldn’t care less. Sure, their eyes were definitely something to send shivers down the average person’s spine, but it’s nothing compared to Jonah’s eyes. Sure, their gaze burned into his skin, but it’s nothing compared to Jude’s burning hot waxed handshake. Sure, a difficult class was going to be an inconvenience on his original plans, but he’s been through the end of the world and more, he can take a few angsty teens.

“I have heard many things about you all.” He stared back at them with his own intimidating gaze, obviously not his strongest, for he would rather not kill these kids, but enough to get his point straight. “I hope you enjoyed kicking out your last teacher because I am not going anywhere.” He smiled and said his statement matter-of-factly. Confident, for he told no lies. The class took that as a challenge and Jon was well aware.

“You got a scary gaze for a such a small dude.” One girl spoke up, she smirked as she made her mild attempt at mocking his height, but Jon could see a little bit of hesitance in her eyes.

“Thank you.” He spoke genuinely, ignoring the jab at him. He was used to be called short. Granted, it was mainly from Martin as he playfully joked about how he was oh-so-much taller, but still.

She, Tracy, rolled her eyes. She didn’t expect a big reaction, but maybe a look of annoyance would have been nice.

“Now, before we move on. I will be doing roll call.” He smiled up at them, the class groaned.

Most kids obeyed and said “here” even if it was the most unenthusiastic thing ever, but it was better than the kids not answering at all. Some kids said the dumbest things in hopes to annoy Jon, such as an uncalled for scream or mocking his accent, but he simply laughed at their jokes and horrible senses of “humor”. They always replied with a groan.

Usually the teacher would already be in a bad mood by the end of roll call, but Jon either had a slight or sarcastic smile, or an unphased expressionless face. No signs of anger, regret, anything. This was gonna be harder than the rest, the class agreed to that in silence, but they liked challenges, so they weren’t planning to give up anytime soon.

“Does anyone have any questions? I will not teach a lesson today, so I suggest we find fun ways to waste your time until this period ends.” He sat on his desk instead of the chair all this time, and had now just moved to sit with his legs crossed, allowing himself to lean forward. Horrible posture, but it was comfortable, and Martin wasn’t here to scold him right now.

No hands were raised, just the same looks he was given the entire class. He sighed, rolling his eyes and lolling his head back as he tried talking again. “That’s getting tiring. If you want to be ominous instead of talking, at least do it correctly.” He propped his head back up, staring at the class who now had looks of confusion, annoyance, and surprise on their faces. He mentally smiled.

The class simply denied “Trying To Look Ominous” as Jon just stared. He could tell that they were already impatient from no reactions, and honestly found that funny, but didn’t plan to give in anytime soon. Allowing yourself to get bullied by angsty theatre teens after causing and fixing the literal end of the world? That’s just sad. He scoffed at himself to the thought, thinking about how Martin would laugh at him and give him a pep talk. “Kids?” He would laugh. “My god, Jon… You think you could take some children…”. Thankfully, Jon won’t succumb to the teen angst.

“Now. Are you all sure you don’t have any questions?” He stared at the silent class. He thought they would have some kind of questions. Where he was from… why he wanted the job… they couldn’t have been completely question-less. At this point, a “What’s your name again?” sounds like a relief.

One kid raises his hand. Daniel again. Jon pointed to him.

“What’s those marks on your face? Acne scars?” He sat in a relaxed position, almost as if he could sleep comfortably just how he was. Jon could tell what he was doing. Subconsciously making someone self-conscious and making it seem unintentional. Seen it too many times. The smirk on Daniel’s face is what made it obvious.

“Got eaten by worms.”

He replied with a shrug as if it was no big deal. Daniel’s eyes widened a bit as he tensed, though he quickly relaxed back down. A few kids simply raised their eyebrows. Not surprised by the fact themselves, but just how it was stated so naturally.

“Thank you for your contribution, Daniel.” Jon nodded at him.

“Sure. Call me Danny.”

“No, I don’t think I will. Now, anyone else?”

Hands immediately shot up, each one asking about a different scar. Jon spent the rest of the class period answering to their curiosity, enjoying their reactions of not fear, but amazement. He knew he could talk safely if just about small stories, because he Knew that these kids not only love violent stories, but also love to waste class time.

---

“I’m home!” He called out to the house, not expecting an answer. The grey cat rubbed up against him as he hung up his coat, a smile on his face. Extending his arms and bending his knees slightly, the cat hopped up into his hold, and he cradled the purring creature as he kicked off his shoes and went to the kitchen.

Cat now shifted to one arm, Jon turned on the tea kettle and got his mug, making his tea how he normally does. Of course, always dangling the teabag in front of the cat’s face and getting a laugh out of the feline swatting it before he put it in the water to steep. He made his way to the couch, moving the cat to his lap as he sat there to his thoughts. The warmth of the beverage flowed down his throat as the warmth of the cat warmed his hand, the soft fur brushing nicely against his rough palm. It was calm. Perfect.

Though the spot next to him was painfully empty.

Jon leaned forward, setting his mug down and holding his head in his hands with a sigh. He always kept glancing next to him, no matter where he was. There was supposed to be someone there. With him. And he knew that.

He tried tearing his mind from the thoughts that were always there, wiping away some of the salty tears that had begun stinging his eyes. He looked to the picture on the shelf. It was him and Martin in Scotland. There was a fluffy cow behind them, and all three looked happy to be there. He tore his eyes away.

Saving the world was hard.

Making the needed sacrifice was harder.