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Fic: Futility

I wrote this for the twelvecolonies challenge 'Ficlets of the Unexpected'. The idea was to take a pairing from a list of characters who never interacted at all during the series, and write a short piece of fic in which they do. The pairing I chose was Laura and Boxey, and whilst I'm not overly happy with this due to my original draft being way over the word limit, and the edited draft seeming very rushed to me, some people seemed to like it, so here it is.

Title: Futility
Word Count: 999 words
Rating: K

First day of term on this frakking planet they’d called New Caprica. They've been settled here for three and a half months already, but it’d taken this long to talk frakking Baltar into providing a tent and enough desks and chairs and equipment for it to be worthwhile trying to get a group of children together. Frakking frakweasel only agreed to it in the end because the woman licking his ear during his meeting with her had distracted him enough that he’d signed the requisition she’d thrust under his nose without really reading it.

There were about twenty children due to arrive, aged anywhere between six and sixteen. More than that in the fleet, but some had parents who didn’t want them to attend and much as she’d have liked to insist, she didn’t have that kind of power anymore. She'd worked out a curriculum that she hoped would allow for all of them to learn something, and they’d just have to play it by ear as they went along.

Maya was ticking off names as the children straggled in through the tent flap. Laura smiled to see how excited some of the younger kids looked as they found a chair to sit in. This was why she loved teaching so much. The unbridled enthusiasm and complete straight-talking that you got from children was such a contrast to the backstabbing and hypocrisy she had to deal with when talking to politicians. She smiled at a little girl who had run straight to the front of the class and was bouncing in her chair.

There was a scuffle at the flap of the tent. Looking up, she realised Maya was having trouble with someone standing outside. She got up to investigate.

One of the pilots from Galactica was holding onto a boy who looked about fourteen by the scruff of his neck. The boy was staring sullenly at Maya, trying to pull away from his jailor and muttering that he didn’t need to go to school. On spotting her, the pilot smiled, relieved.

“Special delivery from the Admiral, Mada- Ms. Roslin. He's been hanging about on Galactica with pilots and deck crew far too long, and the Old Man thinks you might be able to do something with him.”

So kind, Bill. “Thank you, Lieutenant. We'll take it from here.”

The pilot nodded, glancing briefly around before giving her a quick salute that she no longer had any right to.

She took a long look at the kid in front of her, smiling at him. He was dressed in what appeared to be a cast-off fleet uniform, too big for him. Well-fed. Hair was a bit too long. And he was glaring daggers at her.

She sighed. “You can take that look off your face for a start. What's your name?”

A mumble. “Boxey”

“Boxey isn’t a name. What’s your real name?”

“It’s frakkin’ Boxey.”

Wonderful.

“Language. Alright, if you insist … Boxey. You've been living on Galactica?”

Nod.

“Why?”

Shrug.

This was going to be like pulling teeth. “Go and find yourself a place to sit.”

He sloped off to a seat at the back of the classroom, and she made her way to the front, plastering a smile onto her face which quickly became genuine again as she began to introduce herself to the children.

By the afternoon, it was clear that this was going to be a real challenge. She had such a mix of ages to deal with, and they ranged from bright children who were already practically teaching the others, to some who clearly weren’t comfortable in a classroom, to little ones who couldn't read yet, to …

“Boxey!”

He looked up guiltily from where he was emptying the contents of a box of stationery supplies into his pocket.

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“That doesn’t look like nothing. Put them back.”

Grumbling, he did so.

This wasn’t going to work, if he was going to be like this all the time he was here. Indicating to Maya to carry on with the maths lesson, she moved to the back of the classroom where he was sitting, and crouched down by his desk, speaking softly.

“What do you think you're doing, taking the equipment that we've worked so hard to get hold of so that I can try to teach this class something?”

He shrugged.

“Well?”

“What's the point?”

“What do you mean, what's the point?”

He looked at her, incredulously.

“What's the point of learning maths and languages and the history of the Twelve frakkin' Colonies when there aren't any Colonies anymore? And we're all just going to die here sooner or later anyway?”

She opened her mouth to respond, but closed it again, thinking. Imagining what it must be like for a child with no parents to see a future, to see a reason to be stuck here, learning about things there seemed no purpose to learning.

Slowly. “This is our life, Boxey. And you, and the other children in this classroom, you're the future of the human race. You're the reason for everything, now. And if you, and the other twenty children sitting in this tent, don't learn the things I'm trying to teach you, then sooner or later, they'll be lost forever. And no one will ever know where we came from, and why we did what we did, and what we knew.”

He didn't look convinced, and Laura was suddenly overcome with a rush of pure futility. She reached out and ruffled his hair, and as he pulled away from her hand, she stood up, walking back to the front of the classroom. She looked at the eager faces in front of her, just twenty two of them, and found herself wondering if everything she was doing was for nothing.

First day of term, and already she couldn't see the point.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
cavgirl
Aug. 11th, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
Ouch. I can see this happening, how demoralising Laura would find this. And so true - 'for every child who wants to learn, there are thirty who don't' - and you can so SEE why some of those children might think exactly what Boxey does. I'd love to see this expanded. Does Boxey pull up, or does his status as a pseudo-Galactica crew member make him a 'cool kid'? If so, how does that effect the other children and ultimately their behaviour with Laura? And what would it be like to have your former president as your teacher.... OK, I'll shut up now.
astreamofstars
Aug. 11th, 2010 09:39 am (UTC)
Hmm, an expansion. I might have to think about that one! I'll add it to my list ...

Thanks for reading :)
cavgirl
Aug. 15th, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
Hey, I couldn't get this fic out of my head, or my comments about it. So... I had a go at writing a kid-pov of New Caprica, exploring the idea of having the president as your teacher. Would you have a look? It's not Boxey, so it doesn't really step on your toes - at least, I hope not!
astreamofstars
Aug. 16th, 2010 05:58 am (UTC)
I love to! No such thing as stepping on my toes - the more fics the merrier! :)
cavgirl
Aug. 16th, 2010 12:20 pm (UTC)
Ok, do you want to give me you email addy? Or you can email mine: townsend_lisa@inbox.com.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )