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Apr. 1st, 2006 @ 02:09 am Mitch & Max - The Prequel - part 1
It was a bright afternoon in early September. The sunlight was strong, warm enough to echo the summer just gone, but a breeze rustled through the leaves that were just starting to turn yellow. It was the first day of the Autumn Term at Academie le Tour. The tree-lined campus was packed full of buses, bringing excited students back to their friends after the long vacation. Cars were everywhere, overflowing the car parks and abandoned on roads; driven by anxious parents, taking their young people to college for the first time.

Max Flexor was sitting on his trunk at the side of the road, watching his fellow freshers arrive. As another car pulled up and a tearful mother fell out, kissing her equally-tearful daughter on both cheeks, Max cursed for the fiftieth time the rift with his own parents. Arriving in his father's limo, he'd seen the envious look on other students' faces - then how they'd looked away in embarrassment as he, and his possessions, were tossed unceremoniously out of it. It wasn't the chauffeur's fault - he'd always been kind to young Max - but he had his orders. "Take the boy to college and leave him there. Don't lift a finger to help. Perhaps a few weeks of hard work'll straighten him out." Max rubbed the shade of a tear out of his own eyes (real men shouldn't cry), and prepared to carry his things into the hall.

Ten minutes later he arrived, thoroughly out of breath, at the top of the fourth flight of stairs. Three flights would have been bad enough, but he hadn't considered that the college's European-style education extended to such minor details as the naming of floors. The entry level was, in fact, called the Ground Floor, and the Fourth Floor was actually the fifth. And no porters or elevator? What was the world coming to? The second year girl on the reception desk had even laughed when he'd asked if there was someone to help carry luggage, and pointed out that a big healthy guy like himself should have no trouble at all. Max had blushed, aware that he'd made a faux pas but uncertain why.

The corridor was dark, with student rooms on both sides, and just one window at either end. Max's eyes were having trouble adjusting after the strong sunlight outside. As he caught his breath, his eyes started to focus, and he saw that the door in front of him was labelled 43. He counted along the room numbers - 43, 45, 47... until he saw his own room, no. 49, in the corner next to the window. This time dragging his trunk along the floor rather than lifting it, Max trundled along to his room.

Fumbling the unfamiliar keys out of his pocket, he prepared to unlock the door, but he suddenly remembered. Knowing that he had trouble making friends, he'd signed up for a double room rather than a single. Even with his father's strictest budget, that still left him a lot of money to spend, but he knew he'd need textbooks and other things unavailable in the village where he lived. It was only money. Anyway - he'd been told to expect a roommate, as he'd already arrived - but would the roommate be in? What was the protocol in these things? Wavering uncertainly for a moment, Max pushed the quiff of brown hair out of his eyes and knocked. There was no reply.

Max tried the handle, and finding it was unlocked, pushed open the door. Inside was a room so small and poky it seemed almost unbearable for one, let alone two. The bunk bed looked thin and hard, the desks were splintery, while the shelves were arranged haphazardly on the walls. Max stared in horror at the facilities that he was expected to endure for a year. And if that wasn't enough, most of the room was taken up by a boy who was arranging a few meagre possessions on shelves, and dancing like a loon to music inside his head. The other boy looked up, saw Max and stopped, abruptly, as his mouth fell open in surprise.

Part 2.
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