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1/14/2018

Headmistress Office, Calremont Academy

 

"So, how have you been settling in, Miss Xieng?" Miss Summers asked sitting behind the impressive wooden desk in her tastefully appointed office.  

 

Zhu smiled and nodded, "very well Headmistress.  I like the school very much."

 

"Excellent, that is something which we of course strive for.  It's important that you both enjoy and learn.  Believe me, the time will go fast and you may find very unique pressures which you have to face."  As the third incarnation of the Raven she had first hand knowledge of what kind of pressures the young girl in front of her might encounter.

 

Zhu was about to reply when a middle aged woman stepped in, "I am sorry for interrupting Miss Summers.  However, your 10am is here.  Mrs. Davydov and her son.  Should I show them in."

 

Miss Summers considered for a moment, "Alexa, would you be willing to do me a favor?"

 

"Yes, ma'am.  Of course," Zhu replied.

 

"Excellent.  We have a new student starting.  I would like to discuss some things with Jack's mother in private.  Would you be willing to show Jack around the campus?"

 

Zhu paused, "I would... but I'm still very new here."

 

Miss Summers laughed easily, "yes you are, but admin server you are currently monitoring has a map of the campus whic I'm sure you can find.  Besides, it's Sunday and most students are still alseep I would imagine."

 

Nodding, Zhu got up, her pleated skirt falling to her knees as she straightened her simple long sleeved top, "yes ma'am..." she said sheepishly as she had been peeking at some of the nearby  computers.

 

Smiling, Miss Summers continued, "let's just not make a habit of going places you shouldn't.  Thank you Miss Xieng, I'm sure Mr. Davydov will be fine in your company.  We'll talk again later to check on your progress."

 

Stepping out of the office, she ran into a pair of legs.  A very large pair of legs.  Looking up she realized that it wasn't some kind of colossal leg statue, but they were connected to a person who loomed above her.  She blinked a few times at the mountain of a boy before realizing that this must be Jack, craning her neck she gave him a smile, "oh!  Sorry... I didn't see you.  I'm not sure how I didn't.  We're to take a tour of the facility... and... oh! I'm Alexa.  Sorry.  You have me out of sorts."

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1/14/18

Outside Clairemont

 

Jack slouched heavily in the front seat of the minivan. He wasn't sure why his parents insisted on having the “typical middle class” experience...but he loved their excitement for it. He only wished they had a car he fit in…but he knew he didn't really fit in most vehicles anymore.

 

The minivan pulled to a stop outside his new school and Jack looked out at the prestigious building. “<Vanya I know this has all been a lot..>” His mother said in Russian. “<But I hope it hasn't been too much on you…>”

 

Jack gave her his biggest Grin. “<Oh mother, you know me...I can handle anything.>” Jack exited the car and his mother followed as they made their way towards the office.

 

As they got there, the door opened and a cute girl ran into him, though he barely felt the impact. She muttered apologies. Jack gave her a big grin and took her hand gently. “Da, do not trouble yourself over it melady.” Jack said in his thick English accent and kissed her hand softly in greeting, bending at the waist slightly due to her smaller stature. “I do apologize for startling you. You may call me Jack lil’one.”

Edited by Jack

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That was certainly unexpected!  Zhu blushed surprised as her hand disappeared into his.  Although his formal and warm gesture was also more than what she had learned to expect from the far less expressive Amercans.  They were occasionally huggy, but never this.

 

Giving him a warm smile, she recovered and replied, "thank you.  I'm Alexa... and I'm supposed to take you on a tour.  But, it's very nice to meet you.  Are you going to be boarding here, or just taking classes?"

 

As she spoke she walked out of the office onto the main grounds, shivering slightly in the January air as she pulled her jacket a little closer.  It had just snowed over the past few days and the commons was covered with a thick blanket of snow making the New England brick architecture look particularly magical with a crystaline coating sparkling in the sun.

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"Dobry den melady Alexa." Jack said with a warm smile as they stepped outside into the refreshing cool weather. He noticed her shiver slightly. "Would'st you like my hoodie to keep warm? I would not like you to be uncomfortable in this vonderful weather..." He asked in his thick accent. She might notice he was only wearing a hoodie and shorts in this weather and unaffected. He took off the hoodie and offered it to her without thinking.

 

"And da, a tour would be most excellent, I am undecided if I will stay on campus...but if everyone is as nice as you, this would be nice place I think."

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Zhu looked at the hoodie, thinking it would probably be more like a dress on her than any sort of hoodie.  For a moment she considered it, but while she had a little chill, it wasn't to bad.  Although, Shanghai typically did not get below freezing throughout the year and her new home was certainly much more prone to bone shivering bouts of winter.  "Thank you, but I have a jacket.  It's just a bit windy and it went through my coat and perhaps through me was well!  I'll be fine though...."  Then she smiled and laughed, "besides, if I put that on, I might trip on the hem."

 

As they walked, she pointed out some of the classrooms before finally asking, "what are you going to be studying?"  Which was a little bit of a problem as every time she went to talk to him she had to crane her head up or just stare at his stomach.  Of course, that wasn't the worst thing in the world, but being ogled wasn't something she was about to put anyone through.

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 "Well would not want you tripping, no." He smiled. "Not when you have been so kind to me. That would make me look very bad, no?"

 

He studied the places she pointed out on their tour. "I have only recently come to this country." He said as they walked. "I have not given much thought to studies. But I do know that there is things within me that need control." He looked at her. "I suppose that would be good place to start?"

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If anyone was watching closely, Zhu's cadence paused ever so slightly as she considered what the very large boy beside her said.  While she wasn't sure exactly what he meant, given the nature of the school, she could only guess.  Without any knowledge of what he could do, the thought of him out of control frankly was terrifying.  However, she pressed on and offered a quick prayer to whatever fates were looking down on them that she didn't have to experience it first hand.

 

"I am sure that they can help... there are some amazing teachers here and the facilities are wonderful," she said turning towards the commons area.  "So you have abilities too?  There are a lot of students here who do."  Then she quickly added, "we're going in the union, you can get food here.  It's rather good and most of the students eat.  A lot.  I mean, I don't really, but it seems like most of them do."

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"As you probably can see, I rarely miss a meal..." He said with a laugh, not even noticing the small pause in his companions stride at his words.

 

"Da I have abilities as you say. Tho no one has ever seen them thankfully. I am glad to hear you speak so highly of this place. It gives confidence." He chuckled softly. "And no...I don't suppose a lil thing like you eats very much...but make sure you eat enough...cannot have my newest friend starving. That we cannot."

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She laughed with him, which was a rather melodic light sound as she covered her mouth, "no, but it seems everyone has to work very hard for their abilities.  I guess I don't have too."

 

As she spoke, she paused at the entrance to the cafeteria, which while being in between breakfast and lunch, still had a reasonable spread of snacks, fruit, bread and lunchmeat set out for students who couldn't wait a few hours between meals, or those whose class load didn't line up with normal meal times.  The room was spacious with comfortable family style seating, bright light, and long counters where all manner of foods could be served.  "They have all sorts of variety and the cooks are quite good.  If you are enrolled, you can eat as much as you need."

 

"Upstairs, there's a lounge and places to relax or study.  It's quite popular in the evening... and I don't think I'd starve for a while.  I think I checked the other day and I was heavier than I wanted to be."
 

While she was giving the guided tour she wondered about his choice of words.  Friends denoted something more than acquaintance, unless it was a Russian idiom that she didn't know about.  She resisted the urge to hack into his phone, and instead used the microseconds between pauses in their conversation to look up exactly what were the social moires of post Soviet Russia.

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"Well you look in quite good health to me lil'one." He commented as he took a plate and tray and piled it with enough bread, meats and cheeses to make a good 10 sandwiches. "I hope they do not mind if I make a light snack. My...how you say...me-ta-bolism? Is quite high."

 

He added some fruit to the plate and rejoined her to continue the tour, absently making a sandwich. "What is it you do? Besides smile and make good laugh I mean...those cannot be your only super power..." He said with a smile. He found her easy to get along with, and was enjoying his tour with her.

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She waited while he made what was perhaps one of the largest sandwiches she had seen, and decided that a half a banana would suffice for her.  It was probably a little much, but she had skimped on breakfast, so it shouldn't spoil her appetite for lunch later, "oh no, they don't mind.  In fact I think they encourage students to eat frequently... and yes, that is the correct word.  Metabolism."

 

When he corrected himself on the word, she realized that English was still a bit of a challenge for him and switched over to Russian, which she spoke fluently, <"I don't have any real powers, other than being smart and I can talk to electronics remotely.  But I've designed a lot of things that help me when I need them too.  I'm very sorry, I should have switched to Russian earlier, I'm not really sure what I was thinking.  Other than you were really really tall.">

 

Tucking a stand of hair behind her ear, she flashed him a smile, <"I'm glad you can laugh.  That's very important... sometimes, everything seems to serious that it's good to just let things out.">

 

 

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Jack raised an eyebrow and smiled as he heard one of his native tongues. "<Well lil'one you are full of surprises. Do not be sorry, English is an interesting language, and I do need the practice.>" 

 

He took a large bite of sandwich and chewed thoughtfully. "<You know, you are too hard on yourself milady. Being smart is an excellent ability, Don't sell yourself short. And yes...my size is a lot for for people to take in...>” He grinned at the expression, and then returned her smile wholeheartedly. "<Too many people in this country do not know the power of a good laugh. I am glad you do. You are a very special person milady.>" He took another bite of his sandwich.

Edited by Jack

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Zhu grinned, <"Oh no... I mean, I'm very happy with who I am.  It's just that I can't shoot fire or fly or any of the things that most people can do around here.  Besides, I have made some things which help too.  They are my inventions.">

 

She reached over to take his hand, looking up at his face to make sure that it was not a problem.  Frankly her tiny hand was lost in the sea of his which caused her to giggle, but she concentrated for a moment and a small statue of a hammer and sickle started to appear with the Chinese stars flowing around and between it.  It was a beautifully intricate piece that seemed to be made of some composite of metal and laminate.  It took a moment to finally fully appear, but when it was done, she let go of his hand and stood back.  With a grin, she said, <"Magic!">

 

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"<Lil'one you honor me with such a gift...I fear I do not have anything as nice as this for you...>" Jack said with sincerity. Without warning he scooped her up in his arms for a giant bear hug before setting her back on the ground. "<You are indeed a very special girl lil'one.>"

 

He held the statue gingerly in his big hands, not wanting to damage it. He was going to find a special place in his room to put this.

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Getting hugged by Jack was kind of like being smothered by a large warm boa constrictor as her ribs felt like they creaked in protest even though the sensation was not altogether unpleasant.  Still, it was a little disconcerting how easily he had lifted her off the ground as if she were no more than a scrap of paper.  She made a squeaking noise from both the surprise and the air that was compressed out of her lungs and staggered a little when she was set down, trying to get her bearings back.  So it took her longer to reply than it otherwise might have, especially given that she had noticed that he was a rather nicely put together boy!  Although it wasn't really proper to think about or notice things like that when she had an official duty to attend to in his tour.

 

Turning away to compose herself, she took a deep breath and again fooled with her hair before turning back with a big smile, <"I'm glad you liked it.  So, yes... what was I saying?  Oh... right, that's why I don't eat as much, I don't really have powers that need a constant supply of things to eat.">  As she finished the sentence, her eyes trailed to the sandwich that would likely feed her for a week.

 

As they walked away from the cafeteria, she took him through the union.  She paused at some of the lounges and gaming areas, <"this is a pretty good area to come to in the evening.  Although, there is always studying and homework to do.  At least for me there is.  Not everyone studies as much I think.">

 

 

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Jack finished his sandwich in one last bite and chewed for a moment before speaking, completely oblivious to Alexa's fussing and momentary distractions. He was lost in thoughts ranging from how good the sandwich was to the cafeteria and gathering place for studying.

 

"<It is a nice enough place I suppose...but I prefer to be outside as much as possible. Nature is beautiful and more relaxing then any place indoors.>" He commented as they walked. He lifted the statue in a gesture to draw her attention to it. "<Your studies have certainly been worth the efforts lil'one.>"

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She grinned, <"well... most of that I learned before coming here.  Everything here is just advancing what I already knew... and up... coming up with more creative ways to use what I have already created.  They have opened some thoughts for me that I don't know if I would have come up with at all.  There are very smart people in here and my engineering classes have been incredible.  They have toys that I really really want.">

 

As they had been talking the pair had crossed through the commons area and just approached one of the residential blocks.  The ivory covered building still had green peeking through the snow covering which accentuated the East Coast architectural charm, <"I can show you a room if you'd like?  I am not sure if my room mate is there, but I think she would love to meet you anyway.  Would you like that?">

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"< Your glowing recommendation of this place has convinced me to stay here I think. Plus I'll get to see you more, so that is nice as well. I  have no doubts I will enjoy it here. >” 

 

Jacksmiled big at her words. "<I would love to meet any friend of yours lil'one.>" He gave her a playful grin. "<Taking me to your bedroom already...my you do move fast.>" He chuckled softly to himself.

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<"I'm glad that you wi..."> her voice froze and she stammered with her face turning beet red, <"No no no!  That wasn't what I meant at all!  I thought you might like to see a room and I don't have the keys to empty rooms since I'm not a normal tour guide!">

 

She looked up at him mortified that he had gotten the wrong impression from her question and wondered what else she was going to bungle on this trip, <"Besides!  My roommate is there... and she's really cool and would love to meet you!  Really!  It's very innocent, I mean other than a little mess that's all there is to it.">

 

Near panic, she sent a message through her phone which was still in her pocket. 

 

Rev, please be in the room in five minutes!  Please!  I think I gave a giant Russian the impression I wanted to take him back to my room!

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Jack put a steadying hand on the smaller girls shoulder. "<Fear not lil'one, I apologize for making you flustered. It was just a joke, I don't assume you to have any Ill intentions milady. Forgive my rudeness.>"

 

Jack was immediately sorry for his joke, he hadn't meant anything by it...now he felt bad. He hoped he hadn't ruined his friendship. He remained silent as they walked towards the dormitory.

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Zhu took a deep breath and nodded, falling into a mixture of English and Russian, <"no, it's fine.  That just... surprised me is all!  I thought you might have really thought that I wanted too... well you know.  I mean, we've just met and you seem really nice, but I don't want you to think the wrong things about me.  Back home the boys were mostly afraid of me because I was smarter than they were, so I'm not always sure if I'm doing something wrong.  Social contexts are... difficult.">

 

She wasn't kidding either, much of her knowledge of American culture... and to a lesser degree Chinese culture, even teen culture, was derived from watching movies.  Which, had this been one, they would have made it to her room and there would have been some kind of accident where her clothes would have been removed in a very comedic way to highlight the awkwardness of the situation.  That was something she hoped to avoid!  Besides, while she thought Jack was pretty nice, having a boy as big as he was alone in your room was a little disconcerting.  Which, that should have been her first thought before asking a strange boy to her room.

 

This was likely a story that was not going to be relayed to her mother on their evening calls.

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"<Boys are stupid.>"  Jack agreed with a nod. "< Well most people are afraid of silly things like that...but not me. You are smart and fun with a good head on your small shoulders. Hopefully you do not think ill of me. I have a tendency to say things without thinking.>"

 

Jack offered her a reassuring smile so that she knew he did not think wrong things about her. She was probably the nicest person he had met since coming to America.

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Rev

 

Rev was resting her eyes on her bed and grunted when Jack and Zhu came in. 

 

"Grumrhmrl...oil the stroke...frghmmm....." she mumbled, but it was a light doze, and her eyes opened quickly. 

 

"What, me? yes! I was resting my eyes. Not sleeping!" she proclaimed, groaning her way up to a sitting position and resisting the urge to rub her eyes. She had her gel skin on, and had oiled her limbs. She looked normal bar the white hair and red eyes. 

 

"Whose this? Zhu! you move fast. Got a boyfriend already?" she asked. 

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As they had walked through the residence hall, Zhu had made sure to show Jack the lounges, the main office, mail room, laundry room, and practically every other feature of the well appointed building.  She had been praying that it had given Rev enough time to get back to the room.  So seeing her friend waking up from a "rest" was a very welcome sight for her, although she wasn't sure what the room mate code was for bringing people back to the room unannounced.

 

<"Wait what?!"> she said in Russian before exclaiming the same in England, "Wait... what?!  Why do people assume that I'm... I mean I would... with the two of us!"

 

She spluttered and stammered a bit more before taking a deep breath, "Lexa, this is Jack... he's a potential student at Claremont and I'm giving him a tour.  The headmistress asked me too."

 

One side of the room was ordered clutter, with varying machines in differing states of completion in organized piles.  The single bed on that side had a pink comforter and was tidily made, although her clothes from yesterday were setting on top.  The walls were covered with pictures of China or scientific principles.  The desk had several computers wired in a conglomeration, which blinked and pulsed with no keyboard or monitor visible.

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Rev

 

"Yeah, yeah! I'm sure that's code for he's your boyfriend, somehow, right? Even if he doesn't know it yet!" she smiled. "Although you will need a step ladder to kiss him, won't you?" she noted, clocking the height difference. 

 

"Don't mind us two, Jack, we barely moved in yesterday!" she warbled on, giving Zhu a high five. 

 

"Zhu is the smartest smarty pants here though. She knows more than everything. Which is probably impossible. But its quantum or something. I don't understand half of what she has forgotten, let alone the stuff rattling around her brain!"

 

"Anyway, I'm pleased to meet ya, and all that Jazz. I'm Lexa. Or my stage name is Rev!"

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