The remainder of the morning had gone smoothly and Victoria was standing in the lunch line. She was idly scanning the room and noticed TT sitting at a table with her usual clan, Derek standing behind her as though waiting for a command like a trained dog. Yeech what had she seen in that douchebag anyway?
Thankful that the school had recently started serving salad, Victoria loaded a plate with mixed greens, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Once she got to her table she was surprised to see she had added a hamburger with bacon to her tray but found she really was craving red meat.
“Mind if I join you Victoria?” She glanced up into a pair of serious brown eyes framed by a gaunt face.
“Not at all.” She said, “But I fear you have me at a bit of a disadvantage.” She looked at the boy curiously, “Are you a new student?”
“I’m David, we have been in the same class for the last three years.” He frowned, “You really don’t remember?”
“Now I know you’re messing with me because…” She stopped herself from mentioning the school register just in time. “Because there hasn’t been anyone in my class for five years named David. I know the names and faces of all one hundred and twenty students in my grade and yours is not familiar.”
“I told you it would not work, her memory is far too accurate to fall for such a simple lie.” Yuen-Ja sat down on Victoria’s other side. “It would have been much better to talk to her directly instead of trying to make her feel bad that she hadn’t noticed you, but your cover is blown now!”
“Damn it Yuen-Ja NOW my cover’s blown!” David blushed beet red.
“Oh you’re David Jacobs. You’re a sophomore, right? Math prodigy, solved the allegri equation at age nine and has advanced although questionable ideas about astrophysics? That David?” Victoria gave him her best smile, “Why didn’t you say so before?”
The smile had its intended effect and while he was attempting to recover Victoria turned her attention to her sister. “Causing trouble again I see? Why can’t you leave them alone dear?”
Yuen-Ja giggled uncontrollably, “It is just so much fun Tori. They really are silly do you not agree? May I have some of your salad?”
Victoria quirked an eyebrow, “I might as well say yes since you’ve already helped yourself. David, if you’re finished gawking you really should close your mouth, you’re bound to catch flies otherwise.”
“Davey tell her why you are really here, I know she is pretty but that can wait. What you found is important.” Yuen-Ja said between bites of salad.
“Oh, uh, right. Listen, I think someone may have targeted you Victoria.” His voice dropped to a stage whisper, “I noticed some irregularities in the school’s personal information databanks and when I checked there appears to have been some unauthorized entry within the last six months. All of the files that were downloaded had something to do with you.”
“Hey V, what’s shakin?” Grace and Carrie slid onto the bench across from her, “Are you really going to eat that hamburger? Eww, red meat is so gross!”
“I’m going to eat it if everyone would just leave me alone damn it, I’m starving!” Victoria said, “Hey sis, leave me a little of that… why don’t you go get your own?”
“I already ate Tori, I merely wanted a little more.” Yuen-Ja gave her an impish grin, “We will talk later?”
Victoria nodded and her sister and David got up from the table.
“What’s with the math freak bugging your foster sister anyway? That kid creeps me out. All tall and lanky with those giant owl eyes. Why didn’t you tell him to leave her alone?” Carrie said, as though David wasn’t standing right there.
“Bugging? He’s not bugging her, she’s trying out for the senior math team today. I guess you wouldn’t know it by looking at her but Yuen-Ja is addicted to equations. Most of what she gets involved in ends up being some sort of programming language but she likes to solve mathematical problems to keep her brain sharp.” Victoria took a huge bite of her hamburger and sighed in satisfaction.
“Really? Wow, I never would have imagined.” She looked at Yuen-Ja sidelong, “She looks preppy, not … well … nerdy.”
Yuen-Ja glared at her, “Not everyone is as fucking vapid as you stupid bitch, I will make you regret your insult.” The Mandarin rolled off her tongue, sounding sickeningly sweet in spite of the caustic words.
“What did she say? I didn’t mean anything by it ya know?” Carrie’s eyes widened in apprehension, even in a few short weeks people had learned when she spoke Mandarin trouble was going to follow. “It’s cool for some people to be nerdy even if it’s not for me.”
Victoria looked at her sister and rolled her eyes, ”I know right? I can’t wait to get the fuck out of here next year. I don’t know how I put up with these people for all these years. Don’t do anything that will get you into trouble, and don’t mess with Carrie too much. She’s never intentionally been unkind to me.”
“Whoa when did you learn Chinese? I didn’t know you could speak Chinese.” Grace said.
“It’s not Chinese, it’s Mandarin. I’ve been taking classes and practicing with Yuen-Ja.” Not the whole truth but close enough, Adam had been teaching her more or less.
“Isn’t Mandarin Chinese?” Grace asked, shrugging and moving on with her usual miniscule attention span, “How do you manage to do it all? You’re so damn lucky to have all that talent.”
“I don’t want to leave; I want to make their lives miserable instead. It’s more fun to win Tori; these little shits don’t have a fucking clue what’s going to hit them if they don’t stop messing with me. Oh and you should give David a chance, he’s a genius. His take on security algorithms are some of the most innovative I’ve seen. His father also owns a robotics laboratory, I am sure he would love to meet Eugene.”
“Hey hey now, it’s just high school. Don’t do anything too out of control OK? They’re just stupid girls.” Victoria said, still speaking Mandarin. She was genuinely worried about what might happen if her sister was unleashed on the general public without restraint.
Victoria turned to David, “So did you want to catch a movie? Maybe on Saturday? It would be great to get out and enjoy myself a hard week, is there anything good out right now?” What the hell, he seemed nice enough.
“Yeah, I think there’s an indie film at The Elephant that sounds good, I forget the name but it has gotten awesome reviews. Uh, I’ll pick you up at five?” David sounded like he had just won the lottery.
“Oh. My. God. Did you just ask him on a date?” TT seemed to have just taken note of their table although Victoria bet she had been eavesdropping the entire time. “This loser? Why would you stoop so low Vicky? You must be seriously down and out to be asking an underclassman on the math team on a date.”
“Oh how the mighty have fallen!” One of her cronies chimed in.
“Man I’m glad I got out when I did, that’s just pathetic.” This was from Derek who was following and carrying their lunch trays. “What does this little nerd have to offer anyway?”
Victoria didn’t even pay attention, although she could see David’s face flush. “I’ll see you Friday David; I have to visit my locker before my next class. Good luck on your midterms.”
The boy was smart enough to take a cue from her and also ignored the slight, “Yeah, you too V. I hear you are on your way to graduating at the top of the class.” The look on TT’s face was priceless, although Victoria was willing to bet he didn’t know how dangerous messing with TT was going to be. That bitch had holding grudges down to a science.