Fandoms: Blake's 7
Trope: AU: college / high school
Characters: Vila Restal, Kerr Avon, lots of others
Length: 1,918 words
Summary: One of Vila's pranks brings him to the attention of a senior boy called Avon.
Notes: I've never written a high school AU before so this was a new one for me.
A Chemical Bond (on AO3)
Or right here:
A Chemical Bond
"Sorry I'm late, I..." Vila paused when he opened the door to a lot more noise than he'd expected, relieved that he could keep his not-so-well-crafted excuse to himself. He flung his lab coat on and himself onto his stool in the first row where the troublemakers had to sit. "Ms Plaxton's not here?"
His lab partner Soolin had her head down as she carefully inked a message onto the workbench. "She got called to the staff room for a phone call."
Vila leaned across to see what she was writing: Heisenberg may have been here. "Ha! I like it! Not that I think much of the guy for killing a cat."
"Or not, as the case may be," Soolin said.
"Yeah, but why did he have to pick a cat? I like cats." Vila looked along the front-row bench. Jenna was drawing an intricate design on the back of her hand with iodine, a bit like the henna one Selma had had done for her sister's wedding, while Cally watched. Iodine wouldn't last more than an hour or so though. On the other side, past Soolin, Dayna was sketching the usual tanks, fighter planes, and complicated guns that Vila privately called Swiss Guns in the back of her exercise book while her lab partner Tarrant was charring a pencil in the flame of a Bunsen burner. Vila sighed. At high school chemistry and physics had turned out to be his favourite subjects—so full of interesting and strange experiments—and he'd been looking forward to this class after a long (well, it felt long) geography lesson. "She been gone long, then?"
"A couple of minutes," Jenna said without looking up.
She might be a while, then. Maybe there was time for a bit of mayhem. "Want to have some fun?"
Dayna looked up eagerly. "What d'you suggest?"
Vila's first thought was a chemical volcano, but he'd have to find that orange ammonium dichromate stuff, set it on fire in a fume cupboard, then have to explain away all the dark green oxide it spewed out. And Plaxton would have a pretty good idea who'd done it. Maybe something faster that left no traces. Like... the reaction of alkali metals in water they'd done the week before. "I know!" Vila jumped up and ran over to the shelves behind Plaxton's desk and grabbed a jar. "The grass'll still be wet from the rain this morning. Open a window!"
"What've you got there? Dayna asked, eyes lighting up.
Dayna whooped (the more extreme chemical reactions being her favourites) and ran to slide a window open.
"Everyone ready?" Vila checked that the whole of 9A was lined up along the windows, then unscrewed the jar, tweezed a lump of potassium out of the oil it was stored in, and threw it.
"What the hell?" someone bellowed, and against all common sense, Vila leaned further out. The potassium, now spectacularly lit, was leaping around in the damp grass—and so was a senior boy Vila recognised all too well. Another senior was standing further away, looking amused.
"Oh, crap," said Vila. "That's Blake. He's a prefect."
"Rugger forward too," said Tarrant, who was frightfully keen on getting into the First Fifteen one day.
"Who threw that... that substance—" Blake shouted.
"Potassium, by the reaction," said the other boy elaborately casual. "Which was salutary in Blake's case."
Blake ignored him. "What do you think you were doing?"
"A chemistry experiment," Vila said.
"We didn't know you'd be walking past," said Jenna.
"Good, wasn't it?" Dayna said.
"Come on," Ms Plaxton said suddenly behind them. "Get back to your seats, 9A."
At the sight of her looming behind the class, Blake nodded, mollified, and walked on with his companion.
"Who was that boy with Blake?" Soolin asked Vila while they were testing acids with litmus paper.
"Avon. He's the only Year 13 they didn't make a prefect."
Vila grinned. "I think he's a bit like us. Not that keen on rules."
The next day was Wednesday which meant the weekly school run around the park next to the school. Vila regarded it as a mid-week dark spot because unlike football it was almost impossible to get out of. With footy, all you had to do was be so appallingly bad, you got sent to get equipment and quartered oranges, but there was no way to avoid the run if you were well enough to actually make it to school. Vila could put on a very fast sprint if he had to, but the whole concept of a long forced run was a personal affront.
As always, he started off at a desultory jog until he was out of the school gates, then slackened off to a walk with the usual Wednesday non-running group: Soolin, a Year 11 called Gan, Selma, a redheaded boy from 4A called Deva, two quiet and earnest girls called Ravella and Avalon, and Nova from 9C. Jenna, Cally, Dayna, and Tarrant had already hared off out of sight, the girls because they enjoyed the challenge, and Tarrant in hopeful training for future rugby despite his build being all wrong.
It was a pleasant stroll with lots of chat and jokes, and sometimes they'd sing one of the top 20 songs. If Vila had really thought about it, it would have been one of the bright spots in the school week along with physics and chemistry.
The main path meandered round the edge of the park, and when they got to halfway, Vila suddenly stopped and looked at the thickly wooded centre of the park. "Y'know, if we cut straight through there, we'd cut most of the rest of the course off."
Soolin shrugged. "Why not?"
Partway through they came to a clearing with a pond, and there was Avon, sitting on a bench reading a newspaper. Lowering it, he drawled, "I assume you've decided to take a shortcut rather than expend unnecessary energy doing the complete circuit."
"Yeah." Encouraged by Avon's lack of prefect status, Vila sat down. "Nice spot."
"It was." Avon said pointedly. "There are others."
"We just got here." Vila glanced at the newspaper. "You're doing the chess puzzle?"
Vila leaned in for a closer look. "Knight to F6?"
Avon frowned at the puzzle, then shook his head. "Interesting. But I wouldn't. You didn't think it through." He looked at Vila with considerably more interest. "Ah, potassium boy."
Vila grinned. "How'd you know it was me?"
"The look of overdone innocence at the time."
"Doesn't always follow. I mean, even when I am innocent, if people are looking around for the guilty party, I might, you know, work extra hard at it to be certain. If you see what I mean."
"I do, oddly enough." Avon sat back. "What's your name?"
"What sort of a name is that?"
At least he hadn't made the usual comment about being called after a house or a football team. "Hungarian. And no Open all Hours jokes, please."
"I should hate to be so predictable." Avon took a pen out and turned to the cryptic crossword. "Goodbye."
"There are other quiet clearings to infest."
Vila stood, wondering if he'd ever be so enviably grown up. "Suppose we'd better be off then," he said to the others. "We'll be in really good time," he said gloatingly.
"Once again, I doubt that you've thought it all through properly," Avon said, without bothering to look up.
"What d'you mean?"
Vila shrugged, unsure what Avon was talking about - the chess problem or something else? "Um, right," he said vaguely and set off down the path, followed by the others.
It was a pleasant and leisurely stroll back to school during which they talked about Avon.
"He's not very polite, is he," Gan said.
"Brilliant with computers, though," said Deva. "He's in my class for that."
"Tarrant said they caught him smoking behind the bike sheds," Nova said. "And that's why he's not a prefect."
"Or for maybe for hacking," Deva said thoughtfully. "Though I don't think they caught him."
"What did he do?" Vila asked with interest. "Get into the school computers?"
"Um. Maybe." Deva gave him a sidelong look. "It was a bit of a challenge some of us set for ourselves, and I think he succeeded."
"But what for?" Nova wanted to know. "To get rid of his order marks?"
"There wouldn't be any point," Ravella said. "Staff would still know if he'd done something wrong."
"If I had the chance," said Avalon, "I'd change my Eng. Lit. marks. If you don't agree with Morag's interpretation, she marks you down. So much for thinking for yourself."
"Just go along with them," Gan said. "It's much easier and you can still have your own opinion in your head."
Vila shot him a speculative look. Bit more to good old Gan than he thought. "Here we are," he said, seeing the school gates ahead. "Better start running."
There were two prefects on the gate noting down times for house points. "You lot are very fast today," Blake said.
"Very," said Glynd and gave them a sharp look.
"Just happened to be a good day for a run," Vila said breezily.
The next day at assembly, the head, Mr Bercol ("Old Berk" to most of the school) looked very serious as he said that several students had been seen cheating in yesterday's run. "I would like those concerned to do the honourable thing and own up. Stand up, if you will."
Vila twisted round to see Avon at the back with the year 13s; Avon gave him a sardonic look, one eyebrow raised. Vila sighed and slowly stood up.
"What are you doing?" Soolin whispered angrily.
"They know. Might as well get it over with."
The rest of them reluctantly got up, standing there either red-faced and ashamed or defiantly proud.
Vila saw Avon a couple of days later while on his way to the science wing. "Did you rat on us?" he asked, feeling unaccountably hurt. They'd only got detention and a warning not to do it again, but he'd liked Avon.
"Of course not. In fact I did try to warn you."
Avon sighed. "When I asked if you'd thought it through."
"Planning, Vila, planning. If you want to cheat, you need to work things out. How long do you usually take for the circuit? How long do you need to spend in the woods to take approximately the same elapsed time? And what, for that matter, are you going to do there to prevent getting bored?"
"Oh. Right. It was really a spur-of-the-moment thing."
"Yes, I suspected as much."
Embarrassed, Vila ducked his head and scuffed a foot on the path. "S'all right. I didn't think you were a grass."
"Actually, Rontane spends Wednesday afternoons up in the language lab with binoculars."
"So he saw us come out of the trees." Vila thought about that. "But then, getting the timing right still wouldn't have worked."
"Precisely. Research and planning are essential. I have my own exit point." They walked on in silence. then Avon said, "Have you ever put potassium in a swimming pool?"
Vila's eyes widened. "I bet it'd be a good illustration of Brownian motion!"
"To say the least. My class has swimming at 2pm tomorrow, an activity which has very little personal appeal. It would be appreciated if it didn't even start for some reason."
Vila grinned. "Gotcha!"
And yes, I'll have to post the remaining three to make up a bingo line during the amnesty period.
Also posted on Dreamwidth, with comments.