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Not Quite the Tunnel of Love

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Lucy Lane understood what it meant to be an Army brat. Constant moving around, never managing to keep friends even with Facebook, and barely having enough belongings to fill a bedroom. She was used to it, but it didn't mean she had to like it. What made this particular move even worse was the fact she was two months into her final semester of high school.

She was the new kid on Valentine's day and she was grateful no one on this tiny ass town gave a damn. She handed the note to her new teachers, barely got introduced, and picked a seat in the back of the class.

Well, no one gave a damn until her biology class right before lunch.

Lucy took the one empty seat next to a girl tinier than even her. Before Lucy got her notebook out, there was a box of chocolates on her desk and hastily scribbled note.

+I hope you like chocolate cause my girlfriend went a little nuts.+

Lucy blinked, looked at the girl next to her, and raised an eyebrow. The girl in the beanie tilted her backpack so Lucy could see inside. There were two more boxes, a real rose, a leather rose, and a bright pink puppy plush holding a small box of chocolate.

The girl in front of Lucy held a note over her shoulder. Lucy took it and wondered what was in the water.

+I'm the girlfriend. It's cool.+

Lucy shrugged and popped open the box. There were others eating their goodies, and the teacher didn't seem to mind. Once the class was over, the couple invited Lucy to eat lunch with them.

“As long as you don't mind sitting with the school pariahs,” the taller one said.

“No one drops their lunches on you, do they?” Lucy asked as they headed out of the room.

“They won't dare,” the tiny one said with a smirk. “Trini. That's Kim.”

“What makes you guys the pariahs?”

“Jase is the former football qb,” Kim said, “I used to be a cheerleader, Zack is crazy, Billy blows things up, and Trini and Maggie hate everyone.”

Trini rolled her eyes. “Me and Mags just know better than to trust people given the way we’ve been treated.”

“I wasn't planning on making friends,” Lucy said. “As soon as I graduate, I'm outta here.”

“Ditto,” Trini said. “What’re your plans?”

“The General is trying to hint the Army isn't a bad idea, but if it turns out people like him? I can manage college. You?”

“I don't know. This one,” she tossed her thumb at Kim, “has been yanking me through the college application process.

“It's one college,” Kim said as they reached the cafeteria. “And it's just National City.”

They got their food before heading over to a table that looked purposely shoved into a corner. There were two guys tossing nuggets into each other's mouth and a girl was texting furiously with a smirk on her face.

“Guys,” Trini said as they sat, “Lucy’s new, we’re adopting her.”

They looked confused, but shrugged and greeted her nicely enough. Lucy identified Maggie since she was the only other girl, and Jason looked like the former football type. Zack introduced himself by passing her a leather rose from the multitudes in his bag.

“Been passing them out to whoever doesn't have anything for today. Though I see Trini managed to get rid one of the boxes.”

“Chocolate is delicious,” Lucy said with full authority.

Trini nodded. “It is, but if I come home with evidence of having a girlfriend…”

Lucy nodded. “The General would be the same if he had a clue.”

Zack perked up. “Would he be with that military group looking into the Power Rangers?”

“I can't imagine there's any other reason he's here.” She shrugged. “I just hope we stick around long enough for me to graduate.”

Lucy didn't miss the looks traded amongst the group. She filled that away for later. Honestly, if she had just landed in the middle of something…

Maggie cackled and put her phone down so everyone could see the video. On the screen, a girl with dark red hair was in shock at the pile of stuff in front of her on the cafeteria table. There was a big red bear with a balloon, a massive box of candy, and roses in a dozen colors and styles.

“She's gonna kill you,” Zack said with glee.

“She's gonna try,” Maggie said. “She said I could embarrass her at school.”

“I don't think she was expecting that much,” Trini said with a raised eyebrow.

“And you thought this was bad,” Kim said, motioning to everything that could fit in Trini’s bag.

The girl at the other school took the phone from whoever was holding it. “Thank you, Maggie.”

Maggie picked up the phone. “Welcome, Ally. And don't let Kara trick you into sharing, I gave her her own box.”

When the call was over, Lucy rolled her eyes. “That was far too adorable for me. I don't think I can hang out with you.”

Maggie rolled her eyes. “Too much of a badass?”

“Exactly.” Lucy was kinda disappointed she left her gloves in her locker. Oh, well, that could be a surprise for after school.

The last member of the group joined them with a smile and no food. “Hey, guys.”

Kim introduced Lucy to Billy. His eyes went wide when she mentioned her military father. Jason told Billy not to worry. “She took candy from a stranger, I don’t think she’s a rule follower.”

“And the strangest stranger, at that,” Zack said.

Trini glared. “I will end you.” She was trying not to smile, and none of the others seemed concerned, so Lucy figured threats were normal.

“You keep saying that, yet here I am.”

They went back and forth for a bit before Kim suggested Trini could be doing something more fulfilling with her mouth. Lucy expected them to start kissing. Instead, Trini dug into her food and half a box of chocolate.

A few tables down, high pitched squeals caught the cafeteria’s attention. A group of girls erupted from their seats as their soda cans spluttered their contents all over them. Kim cackled and traded high fives with Trini and Maggie. Jason sighed in exasperation and Zack said he was just jealous. Billy asked if that joke was ever going to get old.

“Maybe by spring break,” Kim said, shrugging.

Lucy wanted to ask, but figured she was too new and didn’t want to know. Once lunch was over, Maggie asked which class Lucy had next. Lucy didn’t even need to look at her schedule. “English.”

“Awesome,” Maggie said, “I need a new project partner.”

“What’s wrong with the old one?” Lucy asked.

“He ignores the fact I have a girlfriend. My aunt was ready to take him out back and beat some manners into him last month.”

Lucy winced. She knew the type. “Right. You’ve got yourself a new project partner.” She had no idea how she ended up with a new group of friends. Something skittered up her spine, a warning that something was definitely strange. But she wasn’t going to run away from whatever was coming. The town was too small to escape whatever it was, anyway.