Well, as promised, I now present the first installment of the prequel to the Best Seven Years. As you may – or may not – recall back in the first chapter of said story, it says that while Calvin was nine years of age he and Susie became friends but doesn't really elaborate on that statement.

That was my main reason for writing this new story – to fill in the blank left there.

Also, this story will be a crossover – just not with Harry Potter

Oh yeah, Disclaimer: I do not own Calvin, Hobbes, Susie or any other character affiliated with the comic strip.

Now, without any further ado, I present In Love and War.

tick... tick... tick... tick...

Twenty eyes anxiously watched the clock hands make their sluggish journey across their face. It was Friday afternoon in Mr. Burges Fourth Grade History class – in a matter of minutes, the students would be free for the weekend.

However, Mr. Burges wasn't quite through with this particular class. He stood at the head of the room eying each student keenly. He was a large, broad shouldered man in his early forties. He spoke with a heavy German accent which he seemed to think made him hard to understand because he ended every other sentence with the words 'Does that make sense?'. Nevertheless, being a very large person often gave one a sort of commanding appearance; so when he cleared his throat, the class immediately turned their attention from the clock back to him. "Now before this class ends, I have a few assignments to hand out."

Groans sounded, but were quickly stifled.

"They are reports – oral reports that will be due one week from today, does that make sense?

"These reports will be five pages long on subjects of great events in American history. You will each have a partner in this endeavor; and due to the disastrous outcomes of the last assignment, this time I will be assigning the partnerships."

The students watched apprehensively as Mr. Burges pulled a stack of paper from his desk and strode around the desk to the front of the class. He pulled a sheet off the top of the stack saying "The report on the Revolutionary War will go to Jason Thomas and Danny Moore." He handed the sheet over to one of the boys whos names he had called and pulled out another sheet. "The assassination of President Lincoln will go to Alice Spinnet and Jesse Hendricks." He continued on, bellowing out a couple more assignments and partners until. "Ah, my personal favorite, the Civil War. We'll give this one out to Susie Derkins..."

At the mention of her name, Susie's gaze shot upward at the teacher, clutching her pencil all the tighter.

"and she will be partnered with..."

This was it – the crucial moment. Susie crossed her fingers, hoping with all her might; she didn't particularly care who she was partnered with, just as long as it wasn't

"Calvin Mitchell."

A feeling of dread flooded Susie as Mr. Burges said the name. Why him? Why, of all the miserable luck did she have to be partnered with that lazy, no-account, careless, uncooperative louse?! Mr. Burges placed the assignment on her desk, but she hardly noticed. She turned her gaze stiffly toward the desk where Calvin sat. He was leaning back in his chair, picking his teeth with a glazed look in his eyes. What was he doing?! Did he even realize what was going on? Did he care?! Mr. Burges continued on giving out assignments, but Susie didn't notice. All she could focus on was that this assignment – and possibly her entire future – was doomed to failure.

The bell rang and the students galloped out of the room in their thunderous herd, charging toward their freedom.

And so it surprised Mr. Burges slightly when he heard someone speak. "What did I do?!"

He looked away from his papers to see Susie standing before his desk, her eyes wide and her expression pleading. "Uh, excuse me?" he asked.

Susie pressed on, spewing her words out at a mile a minute. "Did I offend you in some way? Whatever it was, I'm sorry! If this is about the note passing, I swear I won't do it again!!"

"Miss Derkins, what are you going on about?!"

Taking a few deep breaths, Susie composed herself and continued. "Why did you partner me with that Cretan? He never does any work and doesn't even care!"

"Well then, you'll just have to fix that." Mr. Burges said calmly.

"E, excuse me?"

"Let me put it this way, miss Derkins,... you are the best student in my class. And Calvin is... well,... not. I know he has potential, but he squanders it – letting all that talent go to waste, does that make sense?

"That is why I partnered him with you. He needs to learn a work ethic and you are just the one to teach it to him!"

Susie sighed deeply. "Mr. Burges, it just isn't going to work! Calvin and I have been partnered before and it was a complete disaster."

"Well," Mr. Burges went on with a slight twinkle in his eye. "It's been my experience that things never happen the same way twice."

Unable to conjure up any further arguments, Susie thanked Mr. Burges for him time and left the room; thinking that if things never happened the same way twice,then this had the potential to be a statewide catastrophe.

Calvin charged out of the bus doors as they opened. At long last, it was the weekend – he was free! He was positively buzzing with excitement as he cantered down the road to his house. Finally, two whole days without the cares of school – no books, no teachers, no studying, the world was his oyster (whatever that meant.) and all he had to care about was –

He was abruptly pulled out of his musing when he found himself violently yanked backward and slammed into the trunk of a nearby tree. Looking up, he was startled to see Susie glaring at him menacingly – her face reddened, her eyes smoldering and her breathing rapid and heavy.

"Uh,... hey Susie," he said tentatively, wary that she might lash out at him. "what's up – "

"You listen to me, you blithering Neanderthal!" she seethed angrily, thrusting her finger sharply under his chin. "I have worked far too hard on my school work to have it all ruined by the likes of you! If you want to fail on your own time, that's fine with me, but you - will - not - drag - me - down - with – you!!!"

Though he would deny it if asked, Calvin was more than a little frightened of seeing Susie's feral display of temper. He swallowed cautiously, trying to conceal any appearance of fear. "Wh – what're you talking about?"

"The assignment, doofus! We were assigned to work together on a project for Mr. Burges!! Weren't you paying attention?!?!"

"Yeah..." Calvin replied, his mind racing furiously. "We... were assigned to write about the... Gettysburg Address?"

Susie released her hold on him – her expression twisted into an infuriated sneer and her entire frame trembled before she exploded. "SEE? YOU WEREN'T EVEN LISTENING!!! Max and Bridget got the Gettysburg Address, we are writing on the Civil War!"

"Oh yeah, the 'ol blues and the grays – good times."

"Yes! And you had sure better pull your weight on this assignment – I do not want a repeat of the Mercury disaster!"

"Why did I have a feeling you were gonna bring that up?" Calvin tsked.

"Let me make this perfectly clear." Susie growled dangerously. "Either you bust your butt on this assignment, or I'll bust your head!"

"Alright, keep your drawers on! I'll do this paper, it'll be astounding too – worthy of a Pulitzer!"

"It better!" Susie snarled. And to emphasize her point, she clapped Calvin hard on the shoulder before stalking off toward her own house.

"You just wait Susie," Calvin called after her. "this'll be the most thorough, most amazing, most – eh,... tantalizing report the school's ever seen! Scores of papers'll beg to publish it! It'll make your half look like it was copied from a textbook!" Once she was out of earshot, Calvin turned to his shoulder with a mournful "Oooo-oowww-w-w-w..."

After his encounter with Susie, Calvin high mood over the weekend had been completely shot down. He continued on his way – trudging now and muttering to himself all the while. "Stupid Susie, stupid assignment, stupid war... stupid Susie! Of all the miserable luck, why does this stuff always happen to me?!..."

At length, he reached his house and pushed the door open. "I'M HOOOOoooooooh crap."


Five hundred pounds of feline force met Calvin in the doorway midair at high velocity. The two bodies flew backwards rolling and tumbling through the front yard, casting up dirt and debris as they rolled.

"Woo-hoo! Look how far we landed!" Hobbes, Calvin's best friend and tiger called once the two had finally stopped.

"Ugh – get off of me, you hairy oaf!" Calvin grunted.

"Aww, did we get a face full of dirt?" Hobbes asked as he lifted his friend to his feet.

"Can it Hobbes!" Calvin barked, dusting himself off.

Hobbes was taken aback. "Sheesh, what's got your pants up in a knot?"

Grumbling, Calvin gathered his things and confided in his friend. "Mr. Burges just gave me the worst assignment in the history of like, ever." he said.

"Really? What is it?"

"I have to do a report on the Civil War!"

"Hm, the scoundrel." Hobbes mused. "... mm, what's so bad about that?"

"That he set us up with partners." Calvin replied.

"Oh, the nerve of him... what's wrong with that?"

"He partnered me up with Susie!"

Hobbes gasped. "That's terrible! Wait,... I thought you'd gotten over this whole aversion to girls thing."

"It's not that my partner's a girl!" Calvin practically shouted. "It's that it's Susie!"

"Oh, I see – why's that bad, exactly?"

Calvin looked at him in exasperation. "Come on Hobbes, you know what Susie's like – especially when it comes to school work! She's a nit-picking control freak; every little exact, minute detail has to be absolutely perfect, and if it's anything less, she freaks out! She was just reading me the riot act a minute ago – going on and on about how I had to an exceedingly good job or she'd have my head."

"Well that's a bit... vicious of her."

"Tell me about it – she'd like a little, brunette vulture. Well – no, really that isn't an accurate description. Vultures just scavenge off dead bodies, don't they? She'd be a more predatory type creature, like a lynx or a... hyena. Yeah, that's it! She's a little brunette hyena stalking after you, just waiting to rip you to shreds and crunch your bones!

"Hobbes, what am I gonna do?!"

"Hmmm," Hobbes thought for a moment. "When is the assignment due?"

"In a week." Calvin muttered.

"Well, I know this isn't the sort of thing you like to hear, but the thing for you to do is to get to work. There just isn't time for any delays."

Calvin paused for a moment. Then his expression brightened. "Hobbes... that's it!"

Hobbes immediately stiffened, all his senses going on alert. "... What's what?" he asked tentatively.

"I know how we'll get this assignment done! Great idea, Hobbes!"

"Uh, wha – whatever I said, it's probably not what I meant."

But Calvin had gone back toward the house, his exuberance fully reinvigorated. "Perfect – absolutely perfect! I'll have the best paper in the whole class, by golly, this'll show Susie up. Hobbes, you're a genius!"

Hobbes watched as Calvin scrambled all the way back to the house, his heart despairing. When the boy was back in the house, he slumped his shoulders and heaved a heavy sigh. "I gotta stop thinking out loud."