Alyss slouched down in her seat, her face obscured by a black hoodie. The bruise she had gotten yesterday still stung and she didn’t want Tony to worry. He was getting much too over-protective of her lately, she reflected. Just yesterday he had scolded her for carrying her daggers everywhere, claiming that one day her hand would slip, and she would get hurt. She had protested that the whole reason she carried her knives around was to protect her, but would he listen? No.
She rolled her eyes. Gods, why was he so stubborn? Slowly, the rest of the small class began to trickle in, and Alyss pulled one ear-bud out of her ear. The warning bell sounded. Two minutes left. She looked around. The new girl, Hazel, was slouched in a corner, but other than that the room was empty. She leaned against the wall and hissed in pain as the wall pushed against her tender cheek.
Hazel looked over and Alyss awkwardly met her gaze. “Bruise,” she explained, gesturing to her face.
Hazel gave a sympathetic smile. “Yeah, I get it.”
Alyss reached into her pocket and paused her music. “So… how are you liking Jonestown so far?” she asked. Hazel seemed nice so far, although Alyss had learned that first impressions were not to be trusted.
“Honestly, it’s a bit weird, but other than that it’s okay.”
Alyss cracked a smile. “You get used it. Mostly.”
Hazel nodded. “I’ve seen worse, so don’t worry. Whatcha listening to?”
Alyss was about to tell her when the bell rang, and Mr. David Square strode into the room. “Alis!” he barked in his peculiar accent, his beady eyes fixed on her.
Alyss pressed her lips together. Just another 420 minutes in the torture chamber they called school. She couldn’t even skip unless she had a valid reason, and S.H.I.E.L.D. always checked up on her. It was part of the agreement they had made with her; she would behave herself and act like a normal 17 year old, and in return they would leave her in peace and not imprison her, or worse, send her back to Asgard.
“Yes Mr. David Square?”
He ignored her and continued scrawling something on the blackboard. She rolled her eyes. Typical.
“Mr. Square?” Hazel asked. “Do we ever do art or anything like that here?”
He whirled around. “Hazel! We do real work here, not useless scribbles.” Stepping forward, he loomed over Hazel. “Extra homework for you.”
Hazel open her mouth as if to protest, but Alyss shook her head vigorously. It just wasn’t worth fighting against it. Somehow, Mr. David Square always managed to increase the punishment ten-fold. Hazel sank down in her chair again and Mr. David Square turned back to his project. Alyss picked at the rips in her jeans. It was something to do, and she wasn’t complaining. At least Mr. David Square wasn’t bullying her.
A sudden noise made her jump as Mr. David Square struck her desk with a long wooden rod that he claimed was a pointer.
Why had she thought that? Sometimes, she swore Mr. David Square could read minds.
“Alis! Where is Mr. Stark?”
She lifted her face a little and stared at him. “I don’t know.”
“Don’t lie to me Alis!”
“I honestly don’t know,” she told him. “Ton-”
“His name is Mr. Stark!” he emphasized with a smack of the rod on her desk.
“Sure… Uh, I don’t know where he is.”
He turned away. “Well then, we will start without him and Loki.” He passed out worksheets to each of the desks in the room, ignoring the fact that more that half were empty and returned to the front of the class. “We are having a pop quiz and it will count for more than half of your grade. Turn your sheets over when I tell you to.” He paused, letting Alyss and Hazel get their pencils ready. “Begin!”
Alyss flipped her sheet over and stared in dismay at the complicated problems that lined the page. She was okay at math, but she had the sneaking suspicion that Mr. David Square enjoyed giving her overly complicated problems and watching her try to struggle through them.
The door of the classroom swung open and Alyss turned to look as Tony, or what was probably Tony, slunk to his seat next to her. He was wearing a dark grey hoodie, almost the same as hers, and he silently turned over his page and began working through the problems at an almost ferocious pace.
“Tony?” Alyss whispered. This was not like Tony at all. Normally he would be talking to her, asking why she was covering her face, or poking fun at Mr. David Square. He lifted his head slightly. “Hi Alyss.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yup, I’m fine.”
Alyss sighed. Obviously, he wasn’t fine, so why bother lying to her?
“ALIS!” Mr. David Square’s bark jolted her back. She resumed working on a problem, occasionally glancing over at Tony’s desk. Was he mad because of Loki? It had not gone unnoticed by her that Loki hadn’t appeared yet, although he skipped school regularly. It was probably nothing, but Alyss resolved to ask Tony about it at lunch.
Alyss turned as Loki sauntered in, his long black hair smoothed back and his trademark smirk on his face.
“You’re late!” Mr. David Square snarled. Loki ignored him and walked over to his seat. Alyss stared at Loki for a bit. He seemed almost too happy, if that could even be a thing. Loki slowly glanced over at Alyss, a quizzical look in his eyes. She quickly returned to her work, feeling his eyes boring holes into her back.
"Class!" Mr. David Square bellowed two hours later. "Time is up!"
Alyss put down her pencil and turned over her paper. Across from her, Hazel and Loki were doing the same thing, and Tony was listening to music, his sheet already gone. The perks of being a genius.
"You can go now," Mr. David Square told the class. Alyss gathered up her backpack and ran to catch up with Tony, who was already halfway out the door.
"Tony?" she asked.
"Yeah?" he replied.
"What's wrong?" Alyss questioned him.
"Nothing." He responded, the tone of his voice making it clear that he didn't want to talk. As they sat down at a table, Loki and Hazel slid in next to them.
"So Tony, have yo-"
"Shut up!" Tony exploded. "Be quiet Reindeer Games."
Hazel looked confused. "Reindeer Games?"
Loki smirked. "It's what he calls me when he gets mad."
Tony scowled at Loki and turned to Alyss. "Sorry about today. I'm a little angry."
Loki choked back a laugh. "I would think so. When are you going to show them?"
"Show us what?" Alyss asked. "What are you talking about, Evil Magic Boi?"
Loki stared disgustedly at Alyss. "Just because Bruce calls me that doesn't mean you can."
"Why, would you rather me call you shrimp?"
Hazel grinned. "Shrimp?"
Loki slammed his fist down on the table. "You are not James, and so therefore you do not get to call me shrimp. Besides, I'm taller than you!"
Hazel shook her head. "Why has this conversation turned into everyone annoying each other with nicknames?"
Tony stared at her. "Oh it's on, Hermione."
"What! What did you just call me?" Hazel sputtered. "My name is not Hermione, it is nothing like Hermione, and I am nothing like Hermione. How dare you compare me to her!"
"You heard me, Hermione."
Hazel growled at him. Loki, who was sitting next to her, leaned over, and whispered something in her ear. Alyss watched them for a few seconds, and then turned back to Tony, who was fiddling with his phone.
She took a bite of her sandwich. "Whatcha doing?"
"Uh, nothing much," he replied. "Just making some upgrades to J.A.R.V.I.S."
"Aren't you hot with your hood on?"
"I could ask you the same thing," he said, peering towards her.
Shoot. Why did she have to draw attention to herself?
"Uh..." she stalled.
Hazel got up. "Bye guys. I have to go finish something now." As she walked past Tony, she casually reached out and pulled his hood down, a gleeful smile on her face.
Alyss gasped. “Tony! What happened to your-”
“I lost a bet.” He angrily flipped his hood back up. “And Hazel, what the f-”
“Language!” Loki interrupted.
Alyss stared at him. “Why-”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” He turned to Hazel, who was standing behind him, almost choking with laughter. “You are SO dead right now! And you!” He whipped back to face Loki. “Don’t think I didn’t notice you telling her all about it! ARGH. You’re all dead!”
Grabbing his bag, he stormed off, leaving them behind.
The room was quiet for a few seconds, everyone staring at the door that Tony had just slammed shut.
Loki was the first to recover. “Honestly, he’s overreacting. Having pink hair isn’t that big of a deal.”