10 year-old Magister Magi (and English Teacher) in-training Negi Springfield ran across Mahora's darkened campus, which was, to say the least, quite inconvenient, but since he didn't want anyone (else) to find out about his secret, he had little other choice, even with many of Mahora's residents inside on this surprisingly cold New Years Eve. Apparently it was a record low, but no one cares except the weatherman, and he's a liar, so we don't care about him. Checking on his Pocket watch, he cursed to himself. He was late. Unfortunately, so focused was he on the fact that it was now 11:45 at night, he was a little late in realizing that he had slipped on some ice...black ice!


Now, given this young child's recent training in both the martial arts and how-to-be-a-living-punching-bag/bloodbank, a situation such as this REALLY shouldn't have befallen him of all people. However, Fate, I'm afraid, kinda hated this kid and his damn charisma, and so proceeded to have him fall on the ass that was usually handed to him by a short vampire and not the pavement.

So, at the end of that excruciatingly long explanation of events, we had a young Mr. Springfield sitting on the slippery and snow-covered street, and an older-looking man laughing at him.

Rubbing his offensive posterior in hopes that it would avert the pain and humiliation, Negi looked up at the man, who had just finished laughing and had now settled into a slight chuckle as he deigned to take a swig of his bottle of Alcohol. He wore, from what Negi could tell, several layers of Winter Coats, as well as a hood and scarf, obscuring his entire head save his brown eyes.

Finishing, the old man asked Negi in a friendly voice "So, kid. Is that your way of bringing in the new year?"

Blushing slightly, as was his custom, Negi sighed as he got up. "Well, not really. I'm kind of surprised that happened, actually..."

"I bet." The old man smiled lightly, before continuing. "So, what's got you in such a hurry, anyway?"

"Oh, well, I have to get to a New Year's celebration, and it's across campus, so..."

"Wait, wait, wait." said the man, holding up his hand to stop the boy. "You HAVE to? What kind of Celebration is it if you HAVE to?"

Frowning as he said this, Negi went on. "Well, it's my responsibility, for one thing... and my friends worked really hard to set it up."

"Hmm...friends, huh? Even if you make it on time, I doubt it'll be enjoyable if you have that kind of a mindset. Do you want to go to that party or don't you?"

Negi answered slowly. "Well, it's not like I DON'T want to go, but..." he looked down as he said this. "I've never been very fond of the holidays. It's kind of...painful."

"What?" The man exclaimed, interested for some reason. "Is it that bad to spend time with family and friends?"

Twitching slightly, Negi steeled himself not to let tears come out, if only so this story wouldn't be too angsty. "I don't...really have any family members to spend time with right now..." He wiped his eyes, catching some tears that had broken through his resolve.

Smiling faintly, the man answered in a quiet voice. "Ah...you too, huh?"

Negi's head snapped up. "What? Oji-san, don't you have any family?"

"Well..." the old man said, looking thoughtful for a moment. "for one thing, I'm not that old," he said, pointing to Negi, who made a small squeak of surprise. "And," he continued in a normal fashion. "the majority of my family died, minus a niece I don't know and a son who doesn't need to know." A hurt smile briefly occupied his face.

"You have a son? Why not go see him?" Negi exclaimed suddenly.

"Ah, I would, but you see, he's already become pretty independent, and I don't really think he needs a street bum like me in his life right now..." The old man's eyes were downcast now, quite a difference from the jovial mood he'd been using up till now.

But Negi, the masochistic saint that he is, couldn't leave the mood so angsty, as hypocritical as it was of him. "You're wrong!" he exclaimed. "Even if he's my age, I'm sure...I'm sure that he would really like to meet you! Think about it! What son wouldn't want to meet his own father?!"

The old man smiled at that. "I can name a few..." He said, taking a swig from his bottle as he did so. "I'm just a bum that's worthless dead or alive...with no chance at redemption even if I tried. And I've already been avoiding him for all these years..."

"It doesn't matter! You're his father! His role model! For better or for worse, despite any quirks you may have! He's probably been wondering where you were his whole life! It'll be awkward at first, I'm sure, but I know you two can work it out!" Negi seemed to have taken on a desperate tone, and was now yelling at the man.

The man chuckled for a little while, before answering. "You know, kid, you're way too serious for your age..." He was smiling again, as he laid down his now empty bottle on the sidewalk. "But I guess that's fine."

Negi was worried. He wanted to help this man. He wasn't sure why, but it seemed like if he could make things work out with this man and his son, then maybe...someday...

He was pulled out of his thoughts when the man stood up and began walking down the street.

"Wait, please! I'm sure I can help you! Tell me your name and maybe I can find your son!"

The old man looked back, surprised.

"What, you're still going on about that? Don't worry kid, I'll be fine. More importantly, don't you have a New Year's party that you're late for?

"AH!" exclaimed Negi as he looked down at Casseiopia. It read 11:56. "Oh, no! Asuna-san's gonna kill me! Please excuse me Mr.-"

But as he turned to say goodbye to the man, he found nothing, not even footprints to mark the man's departure.

Mentally cursing his lack of focus that night, Negi threw caution to the wind and mounted his staff, oblivious to the figure watching from a nearby rooftop.

The man stood there, watching the boy rocket off on his staff, chuckling to himself before dropping down and walking along the street. It seemed that despite his son's issues, he'd be fine, what with 30 or so girls around to take care of him, not to mention Takamichi and Al. Though, thinking about it now, the fact that Eva was also "taking care" of him did worry him. So worried was he that he slipped on (oh no!) a conveniently placed banana peel! Fate also hates this man and his apparent charisma. As Gravemind would say: "The sins of the father pass to his son." What a lame saying. Backwards too.

Blinking at a hand stretched in front of him, he looked up to meet the piercing eyes of a tan girl with tattoos on her face. Smiling, he accepted her hand as she pulled him up with unnatural ease, before they both walked down the street.

"How did it go?" She asked as a bird landed on her head.

"Eh, as well as it could, I suppose." He answered in a younger voice, smiling wryly as he removed the scarf from his face, revealing a face to match his voice.

She smiled back as they continued on silently for a while before the man's stomach groaned loudly.

"Want to get something to eat? There's a mini-mart around here that's always open." She asked her companion, like it was a normal thing.

Laughing sheepishly, he nodded, before following her. "I'd be much obliged Zazie."

Yeah, I figured that was a good a way as any to end it. Waddya think? Review! Or I'll curse you with noodles...wait, what?