Nov 18, 2019 12:45 AM
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"Okay," he says agreeably.

Leaning!
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They reach her barracks. She has a top bunk, second from the door on the left, and Qiaochu's diagonally one farther back from her. "Hey Qiaochu," she calls. (He's one of the kids who's resisted nicknames.)

"Hi, Bella," he says. "Who's he?"

"He goes without a name. I call him Suicide Watch. But I just rescued him from some bigger kids, and I want you to take messages from him for me if he needs rescuing again, okay? 'Cause I can't -" She taps her temple - "and you're usually around. Is that cool?"

"Yeah, yeah, I take your messages, I your answering machine," says Qiaochu. He's taken up more Battle School slang than she has. "You owe me, though."

"I owe you," she agrees.

"Suicide Watch?" snickers another boy.

"Sue," suggests a third. "For short."
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Sue laughs.

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"You want to go by Sue?" asks Bella, raising an eyebrow.

"Hurray, Bella found a girl friend," snorts the kid who suggested calling him Sue. "They can have tea parties."

"I just beat up twelve-year-olds, I beat up you you say tea parties again," says Bella mildly, dropping into slang for this purpose.
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"Sure," giggles Sue. "I Sue, I your girlfriend."

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"Fine, I braid your hair, no tea parties," says Bella, rolling her eyes not unfondly. "You can find Qiaochu's brain, tell him if you need your girlfriend to come dance on some necks?"

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"Yeah, got it," he says cheerfully, and gives Qiaochu's mind a little push. More of a nudge, really, a little mental hey-I'm-here.

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Qiaochu waves hesitantly and goes back to his geometry homework.

"Back soon, hauling Sue home now," Bella tells her launch, and she leads Sue out the door again. "What's your path color?"
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"Grey blue grey."

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Bella paints the path. "Hey, how d'you even log into your desk if you didn't have a nickname before I gave you one?" She doesn't fall into slang naturally, only when she's trying to slot into the social framework more deliberately than average. She drops it when it's just her and Sue.

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"I had some nicknames," he says. "My login name is HEYYOU."

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Bella giggles.

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Sue giggles back.

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His barracks is kind of far away going as slow as they are, but she gets him there. "You worried about anybody in there, need me to break another nose?"

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"Nah," he says easily. "Thanks."

And he hugs her.
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Hugs!

"See you in the game," she says. "If it keeps doing multi, anyway." And she waves and skips off.
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