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First day of school - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
First day of school
Chapter 3 of Shades is up at SQ.

Well, school finally started today. ("And they gave me homework!" one of our regulars informed us in a betrayed tone of voice.) The kids are mildly hyper and have had to be scolded for rough-housing. And one threw a notebook along the length of the shelves, for reasons not entirely clear to me. I'm contemplating putting up a snarkily-phrased list of computer rules, but I doubt it would go over well, so I'll probably stick to the bland list.

At any rate, my usual gang isn't here begging for extensions on their computer time. I'm feeling oddly put out by this. ;)

I always get restless at the beginning of the school year. You'd think thirty-five years old is more than old enough to adjust myself to living in the adult world, which doesn't take a couple of months off when the weather is warm, but I can't enter September without thinking that I should have at least a couple of new outfits, new office supplies, and a clean slate with a new teacher. Maybe if I didn't work with school kids, I'd think of the year starting in January and going through December. Or even starting at Rosh Hoshanah and going on through to the next one (which is at least the same season). But no. I think of the year as starting in September, going through June, and having a two month stretch of restfulness to regroup and get ready for the next bout.

Anyway, since I'm all restless and thinking school, call for drabble challenge: Give me any character in my fandoms (or in the origi-fic I've put up), and I'll drabble a first day of school for him or her.

EDIT: I'll get to the others, but it's bedtime.
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sreya From: sreya Date: September 8th, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think all the "back to school" advertising helps, convincing us that now is the time to get the new clothes, new this, new that... (erm, yeah, I've gone shopping a bit more than I should this past week!)

Anyway, hmm... interesting person to write "first day of school" for... my first instinct is to say "Han" though I know you're not a huge fan of his and it'd probably be a bit of a stretch to put him in a school setting, so how about Padme?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 8th, 2005 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can do Padmé. That's doable.

She stopped at the door of the mock senate, her arms tight around her datapad, its edges digging into her skin a bit. A droid swooped down. "Your name?"

She forgot for a moment, then said, "Padmé Naberrie."

"Welcome to Junior Legislature, Padmé Naberrie! You have been assigned to represent the world of Kashyyk. Please take a seat under the green and brown flag."

Her heart pounding, Padmé wove through the crowd of students. She hadn't known there were so many children on Naboo, let alone so many who would be interested in politics and chosen for this school. A group of teenagers, looking like relaxed gods, were lounging in a senate-style pod under the flag of Coruscant. An edgy-looking boy with several bits of jewelry stuck into him had staked claim on a pod beneath the flag of Alderaan, and was glaring a challenge at several other students who seemed to think they belonged there. Padmé reached the Kashyyk pod, where a curly-haired boy with deep brown eyes was leaning over the readouts that would give him the information about whatever situation they were supposed to practice debating. He was doodling along the side of the monitor, making a pretty chain of flowers. He looked up. "Hello, there."

Padmé's heart fluttered. "I... er... is this... well, of course it's not actually Kashyyk, that would be silly, honestly, but is it, are we meant to--"

"Welcome to Kashyyk," the boy said, extending his hand. "I'm Palo Torezi. Or in Wookiee..." He squinted at the screen. "Well, I can't pronounce it Wookiee. Come on aboard."
From: tunxeh Date: September 8th, 2005 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, an excuse to get you to write more drabbles. How about: Luna.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 8th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
She was "Loony" before breakfast.

It had really started on the train yesterday, when she'd gone looking for Ginny Weasley--who she at least knew on sight, since their families lived close to each other--and ended up in a compartment full of older girls. A curly-haired girl whose house Luna had ended up in had made fun of the garlic earrings Luna had worn (Daddy'd got a letter from a reader saying that there was a new species of daytime vampires on the prowl), and they'd all laughed when she'd tried to explain them.

She'd finally found Ginny, curled up in a corner and writing in a tattered old diary, but Ginny hadn't wanted to talk to her either, which was a lot worse than strangers laughing at her. She'd thought she'd have at least one friend.

And now, Ginny was in Gryffindor, where all of her brothers were, and she wasn't paying attention to the Ravenclaw table. The other Ravenclaws shifted on the benches so that Luna wouldn't have room to sit down. After a bit of this, she got tired and sat down on the floor under the table to eat her breakfast.

"My goodness!" someone squeaked, and she looked directly across at an odd-looking creature in teacher's robes. "What are you doing there?"

"Just having breakfast."

"Well, as Head of House, I think I can find you a better place to sit!" The teacher budged a few people over, drew Luna out from under the table, and pointed to the spot he'd cleared for her. By now, people from other tables were looking at her as well.

She sat down, letting her hair fall around her face so that she didn't have to look at anything but her food. She heard the teacher scurry away.

Someone poked the small of her back. "How about some crackers, Loony?" a voice asked. "Get it? Crackers?"

It was going to be a long day.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 8th, 2005 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
You NEVER get over it.

I've been out of school since 1982, homeschooling starts in August so there's no September madness, but still, every fall is "time to start something".

This may explain why I challenged a professional chef to an Iron Chef America contest last week.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, well. I guess I can live with a school schedule in my head. :)
lady_sarai From: lady_sarai Date: September 8th, 2005 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oo, I'm sorry, I can't help it. I'm addicted to REMUS.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus stacked his books neatly on the desk in front of him, trying to make them look a little less wobegone among the shiny stacks of books his dormitory-mates had brought. Sirius Black, on his right, was reading through a chapter in the Defense Against the Dark Arts book that showed a victim of an Entrail Expelling Curse. He put the book in front of Remus, and leaned over him to grab James Potter, who was on the other side. "Look at that, will you?"

James wrinkled his nose, then grabbed his own book and opened it up to a picture of a woman who'd been breathed on by a nundu. Great sores had opened up on her face, and she was screaming silently on the page.

"Or look at this," Sirius said. "There's another one with someone who's werewolf-bit."

"Right on his face," Peter Pettigrew added, turning around with the book open to the page. The picture was surrounded by text about the ferocity of werewolf attacks, with the stern admonition to first year students that they were never to attempt to handle such a dangerous creature alone.

James made a disgusted sound, then looked amiably at Remus, waiting for a continuation of the conversation.

Remus looked blankly at the werewolf attack, remembering the terror of it all, being dragged through the woods, the teeth...

He turned the page. "Did you all see the chimaera one? Ripped the bloke's legs right off..."
story645 From: story645 Date: September 8th, 2005 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Myrtle, so would dig Myrtle first day fic. Tom would be cool too, of course, but want Myrtle.

Um, I'm still on the September school year schedule. I don't know what I'll do when I finally get into the real world. I currently count my years by school years anyway. Have so much trouble recalibrating to regular years, when everything is in half numbers.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
She got lost on the way to her first class.

Of course. It was meant to be Transfiguration, and she didn't even know what it was, let alone how she'd be at it, and she was definitely going to be late. She never should have stopped at the toilet. She could have followed her classmates. They didn't have to talk to her to lead the way. Olive Hornby could keep right on whispering nasty things; she still had to get to class.

But Myrtle just had to turn aside, because her stomach was all in knots and she was sure she'd vomit, but of course she hadn't even done that, and now she felt sicker than before and she was late and--

She ran into the boy head on, spilling her books and his all over the corridor. He stood and looked down at her crossly, and for a moment, she thought his eyes were red, but that was just silly, it was a reflection from something and it passed.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I've been lost and and I don't know where I am and no one has come looking for me."

The boy raised his wand and said, "Accio books." The books that weren't hers flew to him.

He went on without offering to help with hers.

Of course.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: September 8th, 2005 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sam Beckett (I've been watching QL again).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 12:33 am (UTC) (Link)
"Does he always pretend to read?" Sam heard his pretty new teacher, Miss Jones, say. "It's awfully cute."

Mommy said, "He's not pretending."

Miss Jones smiled like she knew better, and moved from Mommy to someone else's mommy, and Mommy bent down to kiss Sam goodbye. "I think you scared your teacher," she said, winking. "Be a good boy. I'll come for you when the day's over."

She left.

While Miss Jones was talking to other parents, Sam peeked into the big box of books on the carpet. He'd read them all at the library already. They were thin books. He knew a lot of them by heart, and especially liked the one with the old man and all the hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats, but he felt like he should do something new, as school was a whole new place to be. There was a cannister of Lincoln Logs, but he had those at home, and he and Tom had made a whole town from them. There were dolls for the girls, but when Tom had caught him playing with Katie's dolls once, there had been teasing, so he left the dolls alone, and in fact gave them a very wide berth when he walked around them.

Finally, he found what he wanted: a toy piano. He'd seen pianos before, but he'd never tried one, so he reached for it carefully, and plunked a plastic key.

It made delightful ringing sound.

He hit another key.

And another.

And the little lights that sometimes went on in his brain flared up, and he understood.

And played.
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coralia13 From: coralia13 Date: September 9th, 2005 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh - Anakin!

I am so in the depths of back-to-school right now. Sophomore Slump hits hard. But who doesn't love a shiny new Pink Pal and a couple of shapened pencils?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 12:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Mom had managed to win a lot of fights with Watto, but she'd lost on school, since Watto couldn't see any reason to spend good money getting a slave educated, especially since the slave already knew how to read and could pick up just about anything.

At least anything that would be useful for what he was doing for Watto.

And what else mattered, really?

Anakin hadn't had much of an opinion about it. None of his friends went to school, and the boys who did go were rich-boy dandies, as far as he could tell. At the same time, he'd thought it would be neat to be able to sit around somewhere all day and just read and do math and stuff, so he hadn't hated the idea.

But it hadn't gone anywhere. No one had ever told him he ought to be in school.

Until now.

And now it was the other ten-year-olds saying, "Don't you know anything?" and teasing him because he'd asked who the king of Coruscant was. (Of course, they didn't call it teasing, and said it like they were all concerned, but Anakin knew. He saw them smirking at each other.)

So far, he'd been embarrassed in history class, in government, in literature, and in math. (The last had bothered him particularly, because always thought he was good at math, since he could figure costs and weights and measures in his head. But the others were making graphs and doing proofs of things, and he couldn't make heads or tails of it.)

He didn't even know where he was going to be embarrassed next.

"Are you all right?" someone asked, and he found Master Obi-Wan beside him.

"Yeah. Fine. Sure. Where do I go next? Am I done?"

"Oh, no. One more."


"One more, Anakin. I absolutely insist."

Anakin grumped along beside him, not wanting to be told yet again that he was stupid and didn't know anything. They stopped in front of a door to a rather loud classroom, and Obi-Wan touched the botton to open it.

It was a machine shop.

The boy who'd chided him earlier about not knowing there was a king of Coruscant was glaring at a simple droid with a dead indicator light. He'd forgotten to fix a wire.

"I don't understand this," the boy said.

Anakin grinned at Obi-Wan, who winked back and left. Anakin went over to the boy and said, "Here, let me help you with that."
parallactic From: parallactic Date: September 9th, 2005 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Autumn always makes me feel restless and creative, like I should start something new.

I'd appreciate it if you wrote a Leia drabble. Thanks.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 03:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Her guards sat in the side of the classroom like statues, their arms crossed over their chests. She only watched them through the corner of her eye, doing her best to disassociate herself from them. The others in the class weren't nearly as incurious. A girl in long braids went up to them and started asking them if they weren't too old to be starting school, and a boy asked if they had blasters (much to the teacher's annoyance).

Worse than the guards were the gossip reporters, who were meant to be kept out of school but had accused Father of "becoming Imperial" and taking away freedom of the press when he'd tried to enforce it. Their cam-droids floated along beside them, and occasionally darted into the classroom to take pictures of Leia as she sorted out her datachips and her little collection of styli to take notes with. The other children watched this with some interest as well, but they were far more interested in the cam-droids than in Leia. One boy kept jumping in front of a droid saying, "Take me! Take me!" It of course wasn't programmed to take pictures of anyone except the princess, and eventually he realized it. He came to her desk and kicked her in the shins, then left without saying anything.

She straightened her back and stuck her chin out.

The teacher stood and opened the class.
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: September 9th, 2005 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Tonks' first day of Auror training..... ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 03:26 am (UTC) (Link)
"I'm supposed to be teaching you not to curse everything that moves," Mad-Eye Moody told her, looking disdainfully at the training room he'd set up. "But I'll tell you the truth, as long as you promise not to spread around that I told it to you."

Tonks raised her eyebrows. "Sure. Why not?"

"It's better to throw one more curse than you need than one less." He shook his head. "'Course, you can't go doing that while they're testing you, so I guess we better do this by the book. As long as you understand that training is the last time you'll ever use the book."

"Right," Tonks said awkwardly. She'd worked madly her last three years at Hogwarts to qualify for Auror training, and getting them to allow a metamorphmagus had been something of an ordeal as well. And just when she'd thought she'd reached the last hurdle, someone had brought up her aunt, Bellatrix Lestrange, and her cousin, Sirius Black, both languishing in Azkaban for their crimes. This was meant to suggest that Tonks was tainted. Moody, who'd taken a shine to her and helped her since she'd told Sprout about her wishes, had come to her defense.

She didn't want to disobey him. She also didn't want to be sacked from the Division on her first day of training. So she agreed vaguely, and kept the book's instructions in mind... for once.

Moody narrowed his eyes. "All right," he said. "Go."

"Go... what?"

He waved his wand, and several figures were Conjured. "You have three dark wizards or witches here. Round them up."

"On my first day?"

"What did you think you'd be doing, girl?"

She studied the scene, spotted one obvious choice (a man with a long knife held above the head of a child) and one less obvious one (a woman selling a silver goblet that she recognized at the last moment as being engraved with a curse). The third could have been anyone. The man reading the Prophet? The woman with her bright emerald necklace? The woman with--

The blast came at her from the last angle she expected, a tiny elderly woman sitting on a bench and begging for gold. Tonks dove out of the way and hit the figure with an Impediment Jinx. It dissolved, and Mad-Eye appeared behind it. "You're slow, Tonks," he said. "I could have hit you any one of a dozen times. Again."

She took a deep breath, and waited to start again.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: September 9th, 2005 01:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Love the Anakin one so much.

...Aunt Beru.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Beru had never seen so many people in one place. Daddy had brought her to Anchorhead before, of course, but there were always only one or two people at Toschi Station. There were almost twenty people in the school, and all but the teacher were children, so they all had to have parents somewhere. She couldn't imagine that many people on Tatooine, but she supposed they must be there. Mommy said there would be a 'sembly at the end of the year, and everyone would be there, and it might be almost a hundred people. She couldn't think where that many people would fit.

She straightened her new clothes and her shiny hair ribbons. It was silly to wear bright things in her hair on Tatooine--they'd only fade in the suns--but it was nice for just one day.

There was a boy sitting alone at a table in the back, and she took the seat beside him, putting her fresh new box of styli and datapads carefully in the center of the area in front of her. "Hello," she said to the boy.

"'Lo," he said.

"I'm Beru Whitesun."

He didn't say anything.

"I'm so excited that they made this school. I've never been before. Have you?"

"Nuh. Waste of time. Dad's making me."

"It'll be very fun, I think. Do you like reading? I love reading. My very favorite story is about a Jedi knight and this little girl on Coruscant. I don't remember the title. Do you know the story?"

"I don't read stories."

"Oh. Do you want me to stop talking?"

He looked at her, and shook his head.
From: underaloggia Date: September 9th, 2005 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)


I've been on "the schedule" my entire life (went to school, went to college, worked at a college, went to grad school, and now work at a college)--but yup, every September seems like New Year's Day to me. More than New Year's, actually. Always seemed weird to me to put the resolution-making halfway through the (school) year...

The weird part is the *specific* timing--I was always on a mid-September post-Labor-Day start schedule, like your students are, and the last couple of years, I've been on this wonky start-in-mid-August schedule, and I just *can't* get used to it. ARGH! August used to be for sitting on the dock at the family cottage reading mystery novels; now it's for frantic syllabus prep and xeroxing... And yes, I too bought the too-expensive not-on-sale dress I couldn't really afford at Banana Republic a couple of weeks ago, because *new clothes are a necessity*.

And since I'm a nerd at heart (albeit a cool modern nerd, according to that quiz you put up a while back, a fact of which I'm inordinately proud)--I'm requesting a Hermione drabble. Pre- or post-Hogwarts, whichever you like...

PS. Shades is fantastic! Creepy and sad (esp. that last chapter from Remus' POV), but brilliant as always!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: School!

I think it seems late to me because Labor Day was a little late this year, plus my school was always the Wednesday after Labor Day, and this is Thursday, so...

Okay, anyway, Hermione.

"Miss Granger," Professor Hamilton said, "the skills are there, but you have no grasp at all of fundamental scientific knowledge. Have you so much as dissected a frog?"

Hermione bit back a desire to ask him if he had ever so much as brewed a simple Sleeping Draught, and nodded. "I'm sorry. That's why my parents wanted to send me to a summer program. I've been attending an experimental school. Like Summerhill--they let us take what we want to take and follow our interests. And, er... I was never interested in dissecting anything. It's a bit cruel, you know."

"Well, the frog is already dead when you start, so it doesn't feel a thing."

"Well, killing it just to teach children how to cut it up doesn't make a great deal of sense either."

He smiled. "I see we'll have an interesting time this summer, Miss Granger. And you needn't worry--we have no dissections on the syllabus. But I certainly hope you're familiar with computers--that's our replacement for the frogs, a virtual dissections of sorts. You do understand how to use a computer, don't you?"

Hermione sighed, and hoped she could muddle through.
danaedark From: danaedark Date: September 9th, 2005 01:37 am (UTC) (Link)
How about a first day of school for Willow?
danaedark From: danaedark Date: September 9th, 2005 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Write faster! It's almost my bedtime and you haven't made it to my request yet! :p
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riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: September 9th, 2005 02:29 am (UTC) (Link)
How about Percy?

I work for the school district so my internal schedual is the same as that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Percy sat at lunch alone, looking from side to side at his year-mates. The other three boys in his dormitory--Oliver Wood, John Collins, and Edward Vance--all seemed to be getting on famously, and the girls were all hunched together and giggling, sometimes pointing to older boys (including, to Percy's confusion, his brother Charlie). He'd tried talking to them, but they just didn't seem interested in anything he'd tried to say.

He ate his sandwich methodically, taking a sip of pumpkin juice after every third bite, and lining up the cut vegetables for later. Carrots first, followed by squash, then turnips. Alphabetical was always a good way to go.

"Perce!" The bench shifted, and Percy found himself being jostled by a sharp elbow on his right. His other brother, Bill--a prefect--had dropped himself down and settled in to eat. "How's your first day?"

A moment later, Charlie took his other side, and, to his great annoyance, began to rearrange the vegetables. He dipped a carrot into the squash and popped it into his mouth. "I forgot you did that with your vegetables."

"You ate with me yesterday," Percy said, pulling his plate closer and guarding it. "And the day before, and all summer."

"I have a bad memory."

Bill Summoned the pepper and began to grind a thick blanket of it onto his food. "You need to lighten up a bit, Perce."

Percy turned up his nose. Bill and Charlie always said that.

"Really, Perce, I mean it. Running around telling people that you want to be a prefect--"

"--or that your brother is one--" Charlie cut in wiht a horrified tone.

"--isn't the best way to make friends. D'you want some pudding? They've got chocolate cake."

Percy frowned, his eyes itching and his face feeling very red.

"You look like a tomato," Charlie said. "Lighten up. Bill and I are going to play go down to the Quidditch pitch later."

"I don't have a broomstick."

"No, but you could watch, and if no one's looking, I'll take you up."

"But I'm not supposed to..."

"Come on, Perce. You know you love flying with me."

"But isn't Bill meant to not let you let me break rules?"

Bill made a halo over his head with his fingers, and Charlie grinned. They piled more food onto Percy's plate, and for the first time since he'd arrived, Percy felt like he was home.
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: September 9th, 2005 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Regulus Black. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
The owl brought the giant box of sweets at breakfast, and Regulus groaned to himself. Mum had bought a similar box when Sirius went off to school, but when he'd failed to make it into Slytherin, she'd sent it to the new class of Slytherins in general, with compliments of the Black family. Sirius, of course, had seen this, as he was meant to. Now, she was finishing the job by making absolutely sure he was aware of why he hadn't got any sweets.

Not that he'd wondered. He'd gone on about it after the lights went out at home for some time, mainly in the vein of, "As though I want her ruddy sweets."

Regulus untied the parcel and sent the owl home with a thank you note to Mum, and then stared at it without unwrapping it. His cousin Narcissa was watching him curiously from the end of the table, and her friend Severus Snape was glaring at him.

Or not at him.

A warm hand landed on his head, mussing up his hair, then Sirius's lean body pushed aside the two second-years sitting on Regulus's right. "I see you got the prize," he said, grinning and unwrapping the parcel. He opened the box of sweets and tossed a chocolate over his head. Regulus saw Sirius's friend James coming over, flanked by Peter and Remus. Sirius tossed them other sorts of sweets, then put a handful in front of Regulus. "So," he said, looking around, "this is what the world looks like from the Slytherin table."

"It's really not that far away from you," Regulus said, putting the handful of sweets back in the box.

"You haven't been here long."

"Mind?" James Potter asked, tapping one of the first years sitting on Regulus's other side. The first year--a girl whose name Regulus didn't know yet--blushed and scooted aside, and when James sat down, she kept looking over at him. James didn't pay attention to her. "Now," he said, "since you're Sirius's brother, we're prepared to forgive the unforgivable."

"Right," Sirius said. "From anyone else, it would be intolerable..."

"I voted against it," Peter said.

"But we don't count Peter's vote," Remus assured him.

"What am I meant to have done?" Regulus asked, irritated. He could see Narcissa and Snape glaring, their eyes narrowed.

Sirius waved his hand vaguely at the snake-themed napkin holder on the table and widened his eyes, the expression that had always meant, Do you really have to ask?

Other Slytherins had joined Narcissa and Snape in glaring at Regulus, surrounded by Gryffindors offering to "forgive" him. "You're embarrassing me," he hissed at his brother.

"Embarrassing you? Come on, Reg. Why don't you come sit with us?"

Regulus closed the sweets box. "Because this is my table. All right?" He stood and picked the box up, carrying it over to where Narcissa was sitting, and plunked down beside her, leaving Sirius and his friends where they were, an isolated patch of of surprise.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: September 9th, 2005 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)
How about a Goonie? Any of them, really. I just watched it for the first time this afternoon, and went back and read your drabble from a while ago with much more understanding. You're right, it's a great movie.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, first-time Goonie-watcher! Yay... glad you liked it. Ickle Sean Astin and Corey Feldman! I think I'll watch it this evening.

Okay. Mikey?

"All right, Mikey," Mom said, zipping up his jacket and handing him his lunchbox, which was covered with pictures of cowboys and horses. "We're going to go next door and get Richard, and he'll walk to school with you and Brand."

"Richard! But he barely talks English."

"You barely talk English, lame-o," Brand said.

"The Wangs are refuseniks--"


"That's just what I said, Brandon. They're refugees and they'll need help getting around."

"My help?"

"Your help."

Mikey considered this. Mostly, he was the one who got helped. "Okay, then," he said. "I'll help Richard."

Feeling very proud of himself he opened the door, only to be plowed down by fifty pounds of bouncing refusenik.

"Pogo-power!" Richard Wang called out. "You 'kay, Mikey?"

"Well," Brand said, "somebody needs help, anyway."
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