There’s a goose loose on the school grounds.
M-21 hadn’t believed Tao when he said he found it wandering the grounds on the security feeds but face-to-face to it, there’s no mistaking it to be a goose.
Were goose even native to Seoul? M-21 sure doesn’t think so, since he’s never seen one wandering around before this one – not even in the city parks.
“So what do I do with it?” he asks through the earpiece.
The goose stares up at him. M-21 stares back.
“Chase it off the school grounds?” Takeo suggests. “I’ve seen videos of other security guards doing that with other wild animals.”
“Don’t be such a downer Takeo, the goose is harmless! It hasn’t even done anything, so we should just leave it be. Just keep an eye on it for now, M-21,” chirps Tao.
M-21 continues to stare at the goose. The goose does not flinch, continuing to meet his gaze. “Sure, I guess.”
There wasn’t much else for him to do today, anyways. The day had been quiet so far, with nothing besides a couple of harmless school yard scuffles going on in the morning.
The goose rears it’s head up, letting out a loud, “honk!” before breaking it’s staring contest with M-21 and waddling away.
(If M-21 had thought goose were capable of such expressions, he would have thought that the goose looked pleased.)
M-21 doesn’t know how good of an idea it is, but around lunch time, he purchases some plain milk bread from the cafeteria and proceeds to feed it to the goose.
Tao is very definitely snickering through his earpiece but M-21 resolutely ignores it as one does when dealing with the likes of Tao.
The bread had been pure impulse but he admits that the loud, grateful “honk!” he receives once the goose polishes off the bread, flapping it’s wings before waddling away again does bring a small smile to his face.
The goose finally waddles off the school ground right before the classes end. As M-21 has no obligation to watch over it after it’s off school grounds, he doesn’t pursue the goose.
However, right before the goose walks through the school gates, it makes sure to twist it’s neck around once to meet M-21’s eyes, honk twice and flap it’s wings before leaving.
Tao laughs. “Would you look at that, M-21’s made a new friend!”
M-21 rolls his eyes. “It was just a wild goose, Tao.”
“No way, it was definitely saying good bye to you just now! That means you’re friends now!”
“Sure, sure,” M-21 responds without much thought. He’s sure he won’t see the goose again.
The next morning, after the first bell has rung and all the students have gone to class, M-21’s asked by Tao to go to the front gates.
It’s the goose again.
“Honk!” A fluff of it’s feathers and a stretch of it’s neck and the goose waddles through the school gates.
The locked and barred school gates.
“Uh,” Takeo says through the earpiece.
Tao cackles. “Guess you’re on goose-watching duty again, M-21!”
It’s lunch time and the goose is staring expectantly up at M-21.
M-21, refusing to be intimidated by a goose of all things, stares back at the goose, scowl etched into his face. “What?” he irritably asks.
The goose aggressively flaps it’s wings. “Honk!”
It strides forward and begins pecking at M-21’s slacks.
M-21 hisses, steps back. “Wha – hey!”
He mimes kicking the goose but the goose rears back with practiced ease, out of kicking range before immediately stretching it’s neck back out to peck at M-21’s shoes and whatever part of his slacks that it could reach.
“Stop that!” M-21 barks out, taking two steps back this time. He refuses to jump back any further because doing anything further would be equivalent to retreating in a fight to regroup and M-21 refused to consider the idea that he was fighting with a goose.
“Honk, honk!” The goose is not deterred and merely matches M-21’s strides so M-21 continues to be in it’s pecking vicinity. “Honk!”
M-21 relents. “Alright, alright, I’ll get some bread for you!”
He can hear Takeo attempting to muffle his laughter through the earpiece and Tao is definitely laughing in the control room but he’d take that over having to explain to Frankenstein why he ended up with tears in his slacks because he refused to feed a goose some bread.
M-21 may not be fluent in animal language but there was no other way to describe the look the goose was giving him when he comes back with bread from the cafeteria, except smug.
M-21 glares at the goose. “I’m not getting you more bread.”
The goose almost looks affronted, flapping it’s wings in offense.
“Well if it’s not more bread, then what is it?”
The goose cranes it’s neck to meet M-21’s eyes, holding his gaze for a long moment. Then, still keeping eye contact, the goose bends it’s neck so it’s parallel to it’s body.
It was bowing.
That throws M-21 off guard. “Oh.”
The goose remains bowed, expectant.
M-21 fidgets, suddenly uncomfortable. “You’re, uh, you’re welcome, I guess.”
The goose preens, coming back up from it’s bow to flap it’s wings three times. “Honk!”
“Wow M-21, I never knew you were so proficient in goose.”
“Shut it Tao.”
Like the day before, the goose leaves just before classes end for the day and the students begin to leave. Also like the day before, it makes sure to turn it’s neck towards M-21, honk twice and flap it’s wings before leaving.
Almost like it was saying good-bye.
“Twenty thousand won says the goose comes back tomorrow,” goes Tao.
“I’m not going to bet against something that’s sure to happen,” Takeo says in response.
M-21 both loves and hates his family.
It takes a week and a half before the sight of a goose trailing after M-21 on the school grounds become commonplace enough that students and teachers alike stop staring whenever they catch sight of the goose. Several of the students, Shinwoo and his circle of friends included, even begin greeting the goose when they pass it by.
The goose returns their greetings accordingly with a flap of it’s wings and a loud “honk!” that always leaves Yuna giggling.
It reaches the point that the goose even becomes a sort of unofficial mascot for the school. It still causes mischief occasionally, pecking at people to get their attention when it wanted something in their hands or stealing someone’s belonging off a bench, ensuing a five minute chase to get it returned. However, nothing it ever did caused any lasting damage so as a member of the special security team, M-21 let it be.
Then, the incident with the foreigner happens.
It goes like this:
There’s a lost foreigner at the school gate who M-21 intercepts because the goose has just arrived (Tao likes to joke about how eager M-21 looks to get to the front gates in the morning these days - something which M-21 will deny with his dying breath) too.
The foreigner is staring, gobsmacked at M-21 like he’s never seen another human being before to which M-21 pointedly ignores and calmly asks the man what business he has at the school.
The foreigner stutters out something in English, then some broken Korean which is enough for M-21 to piece together that he’s looking for a hotel in the vicinity but he got the address wrong so the taxi left him here instead of where he was supposed to be.
M-21, after hearing the address of the hotel, gives the foreigner simple instructions on how to get to the city center where the hotel is and expects that to be the end of that.
Only the foreigner doesn’t leave.
He continues to stare at M-21, wearing an expression akin to the ones people wear after they’ve been mind-controlled by a Noble.
“You are very beautiful,” the foreigner dazedly says in heavily-accented Korean. “If you like, we could go to restaurant, yes?”
M-21’s brows furrow, a frown tugging at his scar. The foreigner was asking him out for a meal? “What?”
“Restaurant,” the foreigner repeats. “Or. Or, coffee? Coffee good, too? Or you also like tea – “
The foreigner and M-21 jump simultaneously, having forgotten about the goose.
The goose, who was now charging straight at the foreigner in full-on attack mode.
“Honk!” The goose begins furiously pecking at the foreigner’s shins while flapping it’s wings.
The foreigner screams, turns around and runs straight down the road leading away from the school.
When the foreigner is out of sight, the goose pulls it’s wings back into itself, preening. “Honk.”
“Uh,” says Takeo, who had witnessed the whole scene from the rooftops.
“Well,” says M-21, who isn’t quite sure what to say actually.
Tao, too busy howling with laughter, is of absolute no help.
The goose waddles back to M-21’s side, still preening and looks up at M-21 with a goose expression that could have been passed as expectant on a human.
M-21 looks back at the goose. “Good job?”
The goose puffs up and flaps it’s wings.
“Honk," it happily says.
Because Tao absolutely lives for school yard gossip and chatter, the story of the goose chasing off the foreigner hitting on M-21 reaches legendary status within the school by lunch time.
By that time, the story has already been heavily embellished and exaggerated to the point that M-21’s not even sure the students are talking about what happened that morning or if they’re just repeating the plot line from a drama on TV. The unfortunate side effect of this heavily embellished and highly exaggerated story is that all the students begin swarming M-21 in mass when he enters the cafeteria and even more of them begin greeting the goose when they see it. Several of the girls give the goose snacks, thanking it for “protecting their school’s very important security guard” to which the goose honks in gratitude and gobbles up the snacks with gusto.
“Congrats Ajusshi!” Shinwoo says with a laugh as he gives the goose the rest of his bread from lunch. “You’ve got yourself a protector!”
Lettuce bits around it’s beak and the destroyed remains of a sandwich at it’s feet, the goose lets out a triumphant “honk!” in agreement.
M-21 is going to kill Tao.