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Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Posted on Sat Sep 9th, 2023 @ 9:59 by Claire Cavendish & Shane Gooseman

Chapter: All Hallow's Eve
Location: Head Teacher's Office, Avalon Institute
Timeline: Friday, 5th of November, 1992
2888 words - 5.8 OF Standard Post Measure

Claire was anxious. It wasn't an emotion she had experienced often in the past decades but how the last two months had shaped up she had felt the stress and worry starting to grasp her. It had renewed her efforts to find a fitting P.E. teacher for the institute to replace the faculty that had been trying to fill the gaps in the schedule. Her last interview during the summer holidays had left a bit of a bad taste in her mouth.

It was something she had mused on for many times after. It was the stark contrast between her pacifist morality and the insistence of the world to keep throwing fights her way that had her reconsidering the brand of training that the man in Rotterdam had proposed rather than the more peaceful understanding and control that she had advocated for so long. There was a time and place for either approach, and people like Robin Hood and even her own father were making this a very difficult time and place to sit down and meditate with the youngsters who were getting more and more furious at society.

The doors to the office opened right on time and the administrative assistant let in her scheduled meeting. She immediately got up from her seat and stepped around her desk and offered a hand in direction of the man that had entered. "Mister Gooseman, how do you do?"

Shane had try to make himself as presentable as possible in preparation for his interview. He had worn a shirt and tie, which was smart enough, but it fell apart a bit below the waist. His black jeans were torn in places, and instead of shoes all he could find was his black combat boots, though these were extraordinarily well polished. Shane had not felt this nervous for many a year. He could not remember the last time he had actually had an interview. Let alone a job interview and this was giving him a slight nauseating feeling in his stomach.

After politely waiting outside the head teachers office, though he had been fidgeting profusely, and seeing the last candidate leave he had entered into the office with a gentle knock on the door. Trying to offer a confident handshake and smile, but really not feeling like either of these, Shane took shook the head teachers hand thankfully "How do you do Miss Cavendish. Thank you kindly for the opportunity of this interview."

The Texas twang was something that stood out in the Scottish highlands, and it was something that brought back memories of simpler times when Claire was put in a boarding school over state-side. "Thank you for coming. It's difficult to find people willing to associate themselves with the institute after recent events." They had been lucky to keep the confrontation on their front lawn out of the news, but the renewed focus on Mutant Registration and a call for tighter governmental controls on institutes like Avalon wasn't making it a very popular place. "Please have a seat. Can I get you something to drink?"

"Just water please" responded the the American with his South Texan accent. He sat down with a polite nod, and looked around the room from his seat. It certainly wasn't as sparse as the bed & breakfast he was staying in. Shane wondered if by recent events the head teacher meant mutants and mutant registration? He shrugged a little. "Its no trouble at all" he said referring back to her previous statement. "I'm happy to be associated." He gave a friendly smile.

As Claire put the water in front of him she more clearly saw his clothing and it took a moment to register with her the state he was in. "What brings you to the United Kingdom?" She returned to the small counter from which she had gotten the water and grabbed a banana and an apple. She put those in front of him as well before taking her seat back on the other side of the desk.

"Mostly my Daughter Head Teacher" responded Shane with another bit of a shrug. "She is a mutant and blames her dad for teenagers. I was hoping to come over here and mend some bridges with her and her mum." He chuckled to himself a little and stroked his beard "its a work in progress."

"Please, you can call me Claire." The purple headmistress looked at the resume that he had sent in and found a long list of military service. "I'm sorry you couldn't come here under better circumstances." She felt quite responsible for the state the country was currently in, and it was surely going to have an effect on people like Shane and his estranged family. "But honestly it's one of the primary reasons I'm considering you for the job." She frowned a bit at herself, she hadn't meant to be so dismissive. "I mean. I'm sure you've looked up some information on me as well." She looked across the desk for some confirmation.

Shane grinned a bit "I'm no spook or special ops type if you know what I mean Head teacher....I mean Claire. But I have been around the block a few times and bumped into a couple in passing back in Nam. So yeah..." he shrugged a little again. "I asked around with some old acquaintances. The only thing that came back was your early work in the eighties; sponsorship and gifts and such to fund pro-mutant endeavours in the UK, and that you became more vocal with the government types to push for more inclusive policies. That sort of thing. Oh and your Vietnam protests” he finished with a wink. He looked at the resume Claire. "I may not have any teaching experience. But I know Phys Ed and I have even been trying to get into some UK sports."

Claire gave a bit of a weak smile at the mention of her presence at the anti-Vietnam War protests. That was a long time ago, even so she stood by the choices she had made then. "I don't regret being there in Washington. Will that be a problem?"

Shane gave a wry smile. "Not at all. I still have my demons to work through from that place. A lot of us do. I still think it weighs heavily now in the American subconscious. Even here in this new decade of the 90's. I think it still impacts the way America thinks about itself and the world. Sure does to me" finished Shane with a more cheerful smile and pointing at himself. "But that place taught a young kid a lot. Something I hope I can teach these kids at your academy. Team work. Its rough world out there and its going to be rougher for your students. Physical Education will help get them ready for it by learning to work as team, to rely on each other and help them overcome barriers together."

It was a relief to hear someone like him talk about teamwork and control of abilities rather than fight and power. Claire knew the world was a dangerous place, doubly so for people like them. She was also convinced now that she needed to do something to steel the young students against these threats of the real world. The utopia where all could live in harmony and mutants wouldn't need to know how to fight was perhaps just a dream, but it was what drove everything she did. She was an idealist. But she'd be damned if anyone would accuse her of being naive. "I'm sorry you had to go through that." She allowed for that to hang between them for a moment, it wasn't something she could ever imagine going through herself. "So, what makes you think you can guide teenagers through some of the most tumultuous times in their lives?"

Shane wasn't sure of the answer. He had been pondering this very same question since finding out that he had an interview. In the end he spoke from the heart. "The important thing is to remember they are teenagers first and that sports is supposed to be a fun competition. You then build the exercise, routine and build in that synergy and joint effort over time. Here they are going to build the life skills that will see them good for the rest of their life. I genuinely believe sports can help young people thrive and empower them for the future, whilst also teaching them emotional resilience and fortitude."

Claire was impressed with the answers so far, and try as she might it wasn't something she hid well in her expressions. "What do you expect from the Institute in regards to this? Other than a steady paycheck."

Shane scratched his beard and then smiled "A Gym would be a good start" he said with a chuckle "Will need equipment as well. I can put together some sort of list if you like. Though i am new to this sort of thing as well. So it could end up being a work in process." Shane did not want to give off the impression that he was making it up as he went a long.

"It always is." Claire replied with a smile, "Would you perhaps like to see what we offer our faculty?" As she fully expected a positive response she got up from her seat and motioned for the door through which he had come in. "We provide room and board for all our staffmembers, and a steady wage. Should there be a need for additional help, like financial guidance, mental health guidance, or anything else, we also have people and contacts for those things." She gave a look over her shoulder to make sure he was keeping up with her. She could already hear Jhanvi commenting on another American on the payroll, and the amount of paperwork that created.

Shane nodded enthusiastically "that would be brilliant thank you. He stood up from his comfortable chair and followed the head teacher out of her office. It would be great to see the place and the thought of having his own space was very appealing. A mental health check up wouldn't go amiss either. He still had nightmares from his time in the army and that constant nagging knee and back pain would be worth a look at to by some sort of medic. He was not sure yet if he was ready to open up again, even to a professional, last time he did that, it had not ended well.

They navigated the corridors towards the independant faculty dorms. "Some of the faculty are associated with some of our so called houses. We use that to promote social structures, some healthy competition, and the exploration of personal identities. I'm getting ahead of myself, but should you end up in a leadership role for one of the houses you'd be assigned quarters closer to the student's dorms." She took a moment of thought before adding. "In case we do not find an opportunity for employment you're still free to use our facilities for the time being. Get back on your feet as you look for other opportunities."

"Sorry what.....?" responded Shane in confusion. He felt like he had missed some important part of the conversation "Get back on my feet?" He had clearly missed something in the conversation. Maybe he had not been paying attention when thinking about getting some counselling.

"I understand that the world is not always so welcoming towards people like us." Claire was one of the lucky ones, even compared to non-mutants. She had always been well off and the trust fund that had taken care of her had made sure she'd never be in a position Shane was in. After the eighties she'd been able to become independently wealthy. Though, no such thing truly existed for her, she'd always had the head start her family name had given her and she was well aware of that. Still the stark difference between Shane's apparel and her own had made her assume he was homeless and after her initial reaction to his surprise it started to dawn on her that perhaps she had been mistaken. "Do you have a residence within the U.K.?" She felt her heart race, hoping she could salvage the conversation without having to explicitly tell him that she thought he was homeless.

He shrugged a little bit "I mean I have not been here that long. After I flew in I went straight to my Ex-Wife's to see my Kid. It was amicable but they did not want me around for to long, and when i saw this job going I came straight up on the train and booked into the Bed & Breakfast down the road. I haven't really had much time to look around for anything permanent. I mean I assume I can get some sort of work visa with you guys?"

Claire nodded a bit at that, "Administration has become quite adapt at cutting through all that red tape." She was glad he had moved on to another topic. She came to a stop in front of faculty quarters. "This is just an example." She unlocked the door and opened it to a relatively small room with a bed, a desk and some space to create a small personal corner with a seat or a couch or something. "There's wardrobe room here." She made her way over to the built in wardrobe and slid the doors aside. "And an en-suite bathroom" She crossed the room and opened the door to the tiny bathroom containing a toilet, shower, and small mirror over a sink. "It isn't much, but most of our staff spends their time outside their rooms."

Shane looked into the room, nodding to himself in approval. "Lovely" he said with genuine affection. He had slept in worst. Correction. He had slept in a lot worst . This was a Roman Villa compared to some of the places he had had to lay his head down. "What a lovely place. Are you sure you do not need any rent. My pension would more than cover it?"

"Don't worry, with the wages we pay you'll still need the pension." Claire retorted with a wide beaming smile. She was clearly joking, but clearly also hinted at the fact that they'd be willing to take him on as a teacher. "We have some special dispensation in regards to teachers, so you won't need a teaching degree when you start. But there's a limit to that in how long you may stay on without such a degree. I hope you're willing to attend classes to attain that certification."

"Sure" said Shane with a smile "There is always time to learn something new." Though he could not remember the last time he had been in academic lesson. Though as an Army Sergeant had given plenty 'instructions' to new trainee's "I'm looking forward to it......that is if i have the gig?"

"I think you're the most qualified person I've seen regarding this job so far." Claire smiled, "There's of course the matter of a background and precedent check. I'm sure you can appreciate that." She focused on his reaction as she mentioned that, trying to suss out if that was going to be an issue. Misconduct in the military was something that ranked as a massive red flag on such things.

Shane had been in the Army since he was 19 years old and held over thirty years under his belt of service. But the Army was all he had known. Nothing else, just the Army. In fact his little jaunt to the UK had been his first time out of the states without being under arms. He had been 101st Airborne Division. But just like his time in the Army had had stayed with the Division as a NCO all of his career. None of that Black ops, Wet Work, classified, Commando rubbish. He was soldier nothing more. But he was a Soldier with a clean record. Well clean ish. Couple of pranks gone array and oh yes, that one time he had gone absent without leave to get married. But he had been young and had done his time for it without complaint. "I ain't got no chequered dark past boss" responded Shane in his Texan accent. "It's just a little bit spotty is all" he finished with a bit of a chuckle.

"We've all had our run-ins." Claire admitted with a bit of a smirk of her own. "You should probably check in with Jhanvi, she knows more about registration, visas, work permits and all that. In the meantime, explore. We'll get you on the rotation for P.E. once all the paperwork is done." The institute was under a lot more scrutiny of late, so it was paramount that they didn't give the inspection, or other detractors, any ammunition for follow-up. They had to go do this by the book. "Welcome to Avalon, Mister Gooseman."

Shane shook Claire's hand again vigorously "thank you kindly for the opportunity boss" responded Shane with a smile on his face. "I wont let you down". Yeah this would work out. Thought Shane to himself. This could work out good.


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