Normally I sit on new writerings a day or two at least, so I can edit with slightly more objective eyes, but I am entirely too tickled with this; so please point out any typos, awkward bits, or plain bad patches of writing. And if you can think of a good overall title - you know, that isn't High School AU - let me know.
Title: The New Girl
Specs: Babylon 5, John/Delenn, AU, 3900 words
Rating: PG-13 for language.
Disclaimer: I borrowed the term "lectern" from Kim Stanley Robinson - it's the tiny, awesome computer of the future.
"Johnny, you malignant shit-head, I thought you were gonna do my Econ homework." 7:21 am. That was a new record; usually McCarty didn't start bugging him about homework till at least 8:30. John stuffed his letterman's jacket into his locker, dug through the morass of shit at the bottom to pull out his Earth History textbook.
"Well, I have study hall second hour, and you don't have Econ till fifth, so I don't know why you've got your panties in a twist," John said, closing his locker and leaning back against it. "Besides, you still haven't written that essay for me, you limp-dicked troglodyte."
"It's not due till Friday."
"Yeah, but I gotta have enough time to put it in my own words."
"You mean take out all my lovely metaphors and glowing descriptions and substitute in your own badly-constructed and grammatically-suspect drivel."
"Precisely. There's no point if Mrs. Shrew can tell I didn't write it." Then any thought of homework or Mrs. Shrew went out the window. John and McCarty's heads swung around as Lindsay made her entrance through the main doors down the hall. Damn, but she was beautiful - long, curly red hair, tits out to here, ass out to there, legs a couple miles long. She had her sycophants already hanging off her arms, and as she passed the boys they were granted a single brilliant smile and nothing more.
"Goddamn, Johnny. I mean...goddamn."
"I know it, McCarty. Tell you what, though - I promise to fill you in on all the details after I nail her."
"Please, I'm the one who's gonna nail her."
"A girl as beautiful as that doesn't usually go for cavemen."
"And what exactly do you have to offer her? Maybe you could write her some poetry. That worked real good on Mary."
"Shut the fuck up," John growled as the warning bell rang.
"Here, I've got it. 'Oh, Lindsay, your eyes are as green as emeralds, like the emeralds in my mom's earrings, which are as green as emeralds."
John dug his mobile out of his pocket, flipped it open. "Wait, what was that bit about the emeralds?" They sauntered down the hall toward History. Lots of appraising looks his way - John already knew he was the most handsome guy in the whole school, but it still felt good to be reminded.
"John! Hey, Johnny!" Ugh, it was Amanda. He only made out with her one time, after they'd won the state championship last spring, at the victory rally; it wasn't exactly like he'd been in his right mind at the time. She still wouldn't leave him alone. She was pretty enough, but she was such a gabber. He could feel his eyes start to liquefy every time she started in on him. She ran up to his side, linked her arm through his just as slick as snot.
"Hey, Mandy. I've got a bunch of questions for Mr. Harrison before the bell rings, so..."
"Johnny, my mom wanted to know if you wanted to come with us to St. Louis this weekend. She's got this thing for her company, and she thought we might have some fun going along?" That was precisely what he wanted to do - get stuck in another city with Amanda and her mother. Trapped in a hotel room, listening to endless yammer.
"Yeah, um, I've got this football thing."
"The first game isn't until next Friday!"
"We're doing drills and shit. Big practice. I've gotta go, I don't want to be late. Bye, Mandy!" That was close. One of these days he wouldn't be able to think fast enough and he'd turn around and she'd have him in a church or something. John slid into the classroom just as the bell was ringing. Mr. Harrison gave him the eye, but the eye was like fuel for John; it just made him want to see what else he could get away with. He flopped into his desk, next to McCarty, and two seats behind Lindsay. John wondered, not for the first time, what all that red hair of hers would feel like on his naked body.
"Hey, Lindsay," McCarty drawled. "Your ass is looking mighty fine in those shorts today."
"You're a pig, Nick." But she was smiling over her shoulder at the two of them.
"Yeah, and I'd like to give you some of that oink-oink, too."
"That doesn't even make sense, McCarty," John said, leaning back and stretching out his legs. Did Lindsay just check him out? Yes, he thought she did. "Have you ever even seen a pig having sex?" He turned his eyes to Lindsay, pulled on his biggest, most charming smile. "It's revolting."
Lindsay giggled, and then they all turned to the door as the principal came in with...what the fuck? There was a Minbari behind him. A teeny tiny Minbari girl, who was looking steadfastly at the ground. John had seen plenty of Minbari before - on the news, obviously, but there were probably a dozen who lived in town, including the herbalist on Main Street. But they were all adults, recent immigrants; he didn't think he'd ever seen a Minbari his own age before.
"Class, if I could have your attention, please," Dr. Sumalong was saying. "I'd like to introduce a new student." John let the principal's voice fade into a blur, like he usually did, and just looked at the Minbari. She was a bitty thing, all right, although the bone made her head look bigger, which made the rest of her look smaller. Pretty blue robes, which would make her stand out even more - the rest of the girls all wore the tiniest clothes they could get away with. She was sneaking little glances up at the class, her hands clasped in front of her; John didn't think he'd ever seen anyone so pale before.
Now Sumalong had left, and Mr. Harrison was escorting her to an open desk. He plopped down a textbook right in front of her, and John watched her study it curiously.
"We've already done Chapter One - I'm not going to require you to do any of the homework, and I'm not going to test you over it, but I would recommend you read through it anyway. We're starting Chapter Two today." Mr. Harrison started writing on the chalkboard, and the Minbari girl opened the book like she'd never seen one before.
"Oh, no," George said in his most annoying voice. John really hated that pimply-faced asshole. "I don't think she knows how to operate the textbook."
"They just have singing crystals or something on Minbar, right?" Lindsay added, and the class laughed. Most of the laughter sounded fake, the laughter that people went ahead and gave to the popular kids because it was easier to just go along with the flow. But the Minbari girl didn't seem to realize that it wasn't genuine, and she stared down at her desk, red spots standing out on her pale cheeks.
"I would kill for some singing crystals," John said, good and loud. "Better than a textbook any day. Um, I mean, I love your textbook, Mr. Harrison! Sometimes at night I read it just for fun!" He leaned over to McCarty, whispered as loud as he could: "That's a lie. I still don't know how to read." More laughter, real this time. John slipped McCarty a wink.
"You're illiterate! That explains practice last week. You screwed that play up because you can't tell the difference between the Xs and the Os!"
"I'm illiterate. That's it." John threw his hands up, shrugged. Then he opened up his textbook, held it upside down, and gave it his most serious, studious look. The class was really going now, and Mr. Harrison's voice was barely audible.
"Mr. McCarty, Mr. Sheridan, if we could please get started. I've went ahead and written some discussion prompts on the board."
"Mr. Harrison, I just told you that I can't read. You're being discriminationary." There was a kid up in the front row practically falling out of his desk, and McCarty was slapping the top of his desk, howling discriminationary! in his high-pitched laughing voice. John snuck a look over at the Minbari girl, who was looking at him with confusion and gratitude all mixed up on her face. He grinned at her, and she dipped her head at him in return.
"I love to eat lunch!"
"I love it a bunch!"
John and McCarty were using their best fake opera voices. Ever since Mrs. Shrew had forbidden them from singing out their answers in English class (which sucked, because John never got tired of belting out climax, even when it wasn't the right answer - especially when it wasn't the right answer), they'd made a point of singing in the cafeteria. Mrs. Shrew had lunch duty, but singing wasn't against the rules or anything, so she had to listen to it.
"Today I'm going to eat some pie!"
"Pie is so tasty I want to cry!"
They got in line, looking out over the tables all lined up. "We could sit with the team," McCarty suggested. John shook his head. "Lindsay's table is all full up." And indeed, there were a million hangers-on all clustered around her. Even now Mrs. Shrew was telling some of them to take their chairs back to another table.
Then John saw the Minbari girl, sitting down all by herself at a table in the corner. She was holding one of the brown bags the school put together. "Do you see that, McCarty?"
"Oh, no. She's got a brown bag."
"We have to stop her."
"But there's no time! We'll never make it across the cafeteria before she takes her first bite, Johnny." McCarty stepped forward, one hand over his heart, the other outstretched. He summoned a deep, stentorian baritone, and like they knew to do so, the students eating settled down into a well-timed hush. "This is a message for the Minbari!"
John joined him. "Don't eat that sandwich or you will be sorry!" She was looking their way, the sandwich out of the bag and halfway to her mouth. She paused, and they both put out their hands - stop!
"Enough!" Mrs. Shrew, coming their way.
"Why can't we sing?"
"The cafeteria rules never said we couldn't sing."
"You do not need to be so loud," Mrs. Shrew shrewed at them, her beaky nose all wrinkled up. "I won't have shouting at lunch." They just looked at her, sullen and bored. "Do you hear me?"
"Yes, Mrs. Chu," they gritted out in unison. The line had left them behind, and they easily cut back in - maybe they were a little further ahead than they'd been originally, but these little dweebs weren't going to say anything. John loaded up two trays, paid, and then made his way over to the corner.
"Hey, you didn't eat the sandwich, did you?" he asked, sitting down across from the Minbari girl. No, it was still sitting there. She was looking at him with a weird look on her face - like she was afraid he was going to yell at her or something. John slid one of the trays over to her, and she looked at it like she'd looked at the textbook. "Always get a hot lunch. They make the sandwiches at the beginning of the week and just keep putting them out. And they put stuff like pickle loaf and olive bologna in them. One time, McCarty had to eat one because they ran out of burgers, and he nearly died."
McCarty sat down beside him, nodding gravely. The Minbari girl looked between the two of them, apparently still waiting for something. John dug into his lunch, hoping that Minbari didn't like cookies and he could eat hers.
"Thank you," she said quietly, something odd-sounding in the words, but before he could think about it, Lindsay was leaning over the table, shirt hanging down to expose her lovely, lovely boobs.
"Hey, I scared off a couple of the freshman. You guys want to sit over with me?" She completely ignored the Minbari girl, and McCarty, too, for that matter; eyes only for John. McCarty jumped up, and then turned when John didn't move. "Johnny?"
"Nah, I'm gonna eat with the new girl. Thanks anyway, Linds." She narrowed her eyes at him, then turned and walked back to her table, her ass moving side to side. McCarty and John both watched it go, and then John finally shooed him away. He turned back to the Minbari girl. "So, I kinda wasn't listening when Suma-dong introduced you. What was your name?"
He stuck his hand out. "I'm John." She reached out and took his hand, a bit tentative, and he was expecting a weak, girly handshake, but her grip was good and strong. She gingerly ate her first bite, chewing slowly. "So what do you think?"
"It is acceptable." He hadn't ever heard anything like her accent before. He needed to keep her talking, so he could listen to it some more.
"So did your parents just move here or something?"
She shook her head. "One of my instructors on Minbar was very interested in humans. He communicated that interest to me. I wished to come here, to learn more about your people. I think I would like to be a diplomat, a bridge between our worlds."
John realized he was staring at her; she had the prettiest voice. He shoved some more food into his mouth. "So are you living with some Minbari then or something?"
"A human couple. One works with the Minbari Immigration Agency. They have been most generous." Delenn took dainty little bites, and John held his breath when she tried her cookie. She seemed to really like it, and after a moment’s careful thought, John tossed his over onto her tray. "No, you do not have to," she protested. He just smiled at her, polishing off his chicken strips.
"May I ask you a question?" she asked, and he nodded. "Why does the Earth History class not use a lectern like the other classes? The young man with the spotted face was right; I do not know how to use such an object. I can read the words, of course, but there is no way to make notes or to easily find the information for which one is searching."
"Mr. Harrison is really big on learning more than just the dates and names. In most of Earth's history, students read actual books, and wrote on chalk boards, and didn't have lecterns or mobiles, so that's what we do, too. So we can learn about it or something. It's a pain in the ass." Her smooth brow wrinkled at that. "Your ass is what you sit on." He leaned to the side and slapped his own. She blushed, looking down at her lap. "Anyway, I can show you how to use it. There's an index and glossary in the back. And if you ever need to, you can just get answers from me and McCarty."
"So you do know how to read?"
He laughed. "Yeah, I know how to read."
"Then why did you say that you did not?"
"Because it was funny, I don't know. That way everyone would laugh at me and not..."
"And not at me." Her voice sounded a little sad, and John was struck by the urge to give her a great big hug. "But why would that be humorous?"
"You don't think it's funny?"
"It was a lie. Minbari do not lie."
"I was just making fun of myself. People usually laugh at that. If I'd stood up on my desk and twirled around and said 'I'm a pretty, pretty girl' people would have laughed, too."
Delenn seemed to understand that better. She leaned forward. "They laughed because it was a lie."
"Yeah. I mean, it usually only works if it makes you seem more stupid or more of a loser than you actually are, and not the other way around." She was looking at him intensely, and John wasn't used to being the focus of such keen scrutiny. "What do Minbari find funny, then?"
"We find humor in the inability to achieve spiritual enlightenment." Now she was the one making fun of him; she had to be. What did that even mean?
"I don't know what that means." She smiled at him, a light laugh. She had that weird triangle thing at the top of her nose, and she was bald, and she had a huge bone wrapped around her head, but she was pretty. For a Minbari.
"It would be difficult to explain to a non-Minbari." Mrs. Shrew was yelling at everyone to finish up and dump their trays. John grabbed hers. "Thank you, John, for eating with me."
He smiled down at her. "Maybe tomorrow at lunch you can try to explain spiritual enlightenment to me. You can't use big words, though. I'm kind of dumb." She opened her mouth, looking like she was going to correct him, and then smiled in surprise. John grinned, the kind of grin he couldn't help and not the kind of grin he used as a weapon, and left.
The end of the day! Seventh hour was the worst - fifty long minutes listening to Ms. Van Houten talk about trig like any of them gave a shit. He'd tried singing out sine! cosine! one day, but she hadn't even blinked, and it wasn't any fun if they didn't get mad. He knew he needed to be good at math if he was going to get in the Academy, but it was all he could do to keep his eyes open. Besides, he had more important things to think about. Practice tonight was going to be tough - Coach was making them run drills after half the team had forgotten to bring their signed physicals in last week. Then he had a pile of homework, half of which had been due today that he’d blown off. But the bell was finally ringing, and he was going to have at least a few minutes of fun before he had to get back to work.
Out of the classroom, finding McCarty, and then they were running up and down the halls whooping joyfully. Scholars Bowl was selling doughnuts before and after school to raise money for a field trip, and John spent the last of his cash buying half a dozen, which he carefully balanced in two stacks as he headed back down to his locker.
"I love glazed doughnuts!" McCarty sang, spinning a sophomore around in a loop. She squealed, then shrieked when she saw the sticky glaze he'd left on her shirt.
"You love your own nuts!" McCarty doubled over with laughter at that, then nodded as he regained his composure.
"It's so true, though. I really do." John carefully ate one of his doughnuts - no hands, just keep enough in your mouth that the rest doesn't fall out when you chew - as they jumped loudly down the steps. McCarty went on, "Speaking of which, I figured out the greatest thing the other night. Start with some Vaseline..."
John elbowed him in the stomach. The halls were pretty well cleared out by now, and the Minbari girl - Delenn - was all by herself down the way, standing in front of her locker, spinning the dial and crying.
"I'm gonna talk to her, okay?"
"We're gonna be late for practice. Coach'll make us run laps. She'll probably make us run double laps, because we were late yesterday."
"You go ahead. Tell her...tell her I'm sick or something."
"She'll check, and then she'll have your ass."
"Tell her I barfed. You don't go to the doctor every time you barf."
"Whatever you say, Johnny. I look forward to watching you run laps for infinity." McCarty headed out the doors then, and John spent a long ten seconds trying to figure out what to do with all the doughnuts in his hands. He finally tossed them in the trash, rinsed his hands off in the water fountain, and rubbed them dry on his jeans. He walked over to Delenn, who was still spinning the combination lock's dial, crying quietly but reaching the point where she was going to start sobbing; little choking noises in her throat, her chin trembling.
"Hey. Hey, Delenn, what's wrong?" She turned away from him, wiping the tears off her face.
"I cannot get this ridiculous device to open. I have missed the transport, and I don't know how to get back to the house." Her shoulders were shaking. John didn't even think, just reached out and pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her. He rubbed her shoulders and her back. She was tense for a moment, then finally relaxed against his chest, crying again.
"It's okay. Hey, it's okay. I'll take you home." Her tears finally tapered off. John kept running his hands up and down her back. She felt nice against him. She felt really nice. He cleared his throat and backed up, not wanting to freak her out with a big human erection her first day of school. "What's your combination?"
She showed him her lectern, 13-37-6 displayed on the screen. John spun the dial and opened her locker up.
"How did you do that?"
"You have to turn the dial nice and slow, but smoothly - and stop right on the number." He pulled out her history textbook, and helped her load up her bag. "You want to practice?" She nodded, and he closed her locker, spun the dial. He moved aside and she went through the combination. He could see her hesitate during the second spin, and knew before she even tugged up on the handle that it wouldn't open. Delenn smacked her hand against the locker and said something in her own language. Something that did not sound nice at all.
"Was that a Minbari curse word? You're going to have to teach me all the Minbari curse words." She cut her eyes over at him, bottom lip looking a little wobbly again. "Just go nice and slow. You can't pause in the middle." She tried again, and he put a hand on her shoulder. This time she made the long second turn just as smooth as can be, and the lock released. She let out a triumphant little cry when she opened the locker door.
Delenn closed it back up, looked up at him with her big gray eyes. "Thank you again, John." He shook his head at her.
"No thanks necessary. Hey, instead of taking you straight home, do you want to go do something?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you said you wanted to learn more about humans. We can go do something fun, something you've never done before." He smiled down at her, really turning on the charm, and was delighted when she looked down at her feet, nodding as that pretty blush spread over her cheeks. He slung her bag over his own shoulder, took her hand, and dragged her out the door.
John was halfway to his car before he realized he'd just asked her out on a date.
Chapter Two - Playing Games