Cameron's new lab partner is kind of... odd. (Not that he's one to talk.)
It's been forever and a day since I've posted something, but I've had these characters rolling around in my head for a while (I'm on this ridic John Hughes kick), so I figured, what the hell. Big surprise that the weirdos are always my favorite characters.
Cameron Frye hated chemistry class.
It wasn't that he hated the subject (he'd be a science dork 'til the day he died, and he unfortunately knew it); not even that it was right after Gym, which meant that at this point in the day, he'd just be recovering from a miniature heart attack.
No. No, it was definitely the other students that did him in.
Simone Adamley, although cute and usually friendly, was also the most annoying girl he'd ever met. She was his lab partner, a move she'd initiated at the beginning of the semester as an opportunity to press him for gossip on Ferris - a job he didn't particularly relish. When he learned she didn't give up easily at gossip-hunting, he started feeding her non-damaging factoids just to shut her up - things like Ferris's favorite color (silver) and foods (something the rest of the girls on the drill team took to with glee, if the boxes of Hostess cupcakes that always appeared in Ferris's locker were any indication) - and that worked for most of the semester.
Lately, though, she'd become more ambitious in her questioning. It scared him.
(The day she asked if he was aware of any special "positions" that Ferris and Sloane liked to practice, he started choking on his own tongue and had to go down to the nurse's office for the rest of the class.)
But today, Simone was out of sixth, prepping early for some pep rally type... thing (and he did not look forward to that next period, thanks). So Mr. Peel paired him with the dark-haired girl sitting the next row over, whose partner was also absent, and he took it as a sign from God.
Her name was Allison Reynolds, and she disliked talking. It would be a trait he'd admire greatly if they didn't have an assignment due at the end of class.
"Do you, uh, wanna do the first five questions, and I'll take care of the others?" he asked.
Allison narrowed her eyes at him.
"Or we could do vice versa?" he quickly added. She ignored him and bent over her paper, scribbling wildly. Cameron sighed and went back to his own worksheet.
After fifteen minutes passed, he turned to ask what she got for six - the only question he'd had trouble with - and prayed she'd actually answer. But when he glanced down at her paper, he frowned. She didn't have the right answer for six. Or one; or two.
Or any of them.
Her worksheet was completely covered with an elaborate scenic landscape, covered bridge over a river and all.
"That's very good," he told her. "You're talented as hell."
She bit her lip and stopped scribbling, but didn't respond.
"I'm just-- I'm only wondering, what're you gonna turn into Peel at the end of the period? He'll throw a shitfit if he sees that."
"The lab assignments count for thirty percent of our total grade, y'know."
She stared at him, her face completely blank, before picking up her pen and adding a new tree to her sketch. He had the feeling it didn't worry her in the least. Maybe she gave lessons; lessons on not worrying.
Hell, he'd enroll in 'em for a semester or twelve.
"Sometimes, I want to know if they actually expect us to believe they cooked this shit, instead of scraped it out of the locker room shower drains."
Ferris gave the Chicken Surprise on Cameron's tray a vicious poke with his fork. Cameron yanked his tray (and fork) back.
"Please dissect your own lunch, okay? I actually plan on eating this."
Ferris gave him a pained look. "You're too afraid to try out for field hockey because of potential injuries, yet you're willing to risk sudden death by eating that? Good luck."
Sloane rolled her eyes. "C'mon, Ferris. Give him a break."
Ferris glanced at the spaghetti on Sloane's tray, grimacing. "Don't get me started on yours."
Cameron and Sloane exchanged weary glances.
One of Ferris's favorite lunchtime activities was playing culinary critic with Shermer's hot lunches - something he found amusing, no doubt, because he always brought lunch from home. One would have thought he'd grow bored with the activity past fifth grade, but one thing Ferris was not known for was tactful restraint.
Suddenly, the entire pep squad ambushed their table for a lunchtime poll, eager to get Ferris's opinion on making "Danger Zone" the new Shermer fight song (a tradition Sloane found as ridiculous as Cameron did, if gauging by her barely restrained eyerolls), when a sharp movement across the cafeteria caught Cameron's eye. A girl in an oversized black blouse and pleated skirt was beelining to the dessert rack. It took him a moment to realize who it was - his lab partner from yesterday, Allison.
She reached out to stuff an orange and two containers of Jell-O into her giant messenger bag, then walked off, expression calm. The lunchlady at the register, too busy telling a freshman to put back one of his desserts, didn't even notice.
Cameron had a sudden, wild mental image of her striding away from a burning building with the same casual gait. He blinked.
The only thing he'd ever stolen in his life (well... other than his Dad's Ferrari two wonderful weeks ago, har har har) - was a red Stegosaurus eraser from the school store, back in second grade. He didn't mean to take it.
It had just... happened.
Besides. He'd felt so tremendously guilty that he'd returned the loot two days later, only to get scolded in front of the entire class and banned from the school store for the rest of the year.
(Ferris was right. He kind of did suck at the whole relaxing, cool-and-loose, not-being-such-a-walking-hernia thing.)
During sixth on Monday, Cameron was stuck again with Simone. Allison had also returned to her regular lab partner, a red-haired basketball player who spent more time chatting with the other jocks than paying attention to her or any classwork. (Not that this made him different from the rest of the class.)
It was Senior Week, and people were getting antsy. Simone herself, as Treasurer of Student Council, was frantic with last minute prom preparations, leaving Cameron blissfully free of gossip-hounding, and with ample opportunity to people-watch.
Allison, he noticed, still ignored class assignments and simply sketched at her desk - mainly landscapes, but always with plain black ink, and always somewhere that didn't even remotely resemble Shermer.
Over the next few days - drowning out lunchtime polls, and Ferris's attempts to serenade Sloane with (passable) karaoke of Smokey Robinson singles, aided by his Walkman - Cameron noticed that Allison never ate in the cafeteria. Other than slipping an item or two from the dessert tray into her knapsack, she never purchased anything, either. Just disappeared into the hallway.
He considered that maybe she didn't have enough money for a real lunch (and her scant wardrobe of threadbare blouses and skirts seemed to support this), but if that were the case, she'd be enrolled in the Free Lunch Program at Shermer.
After nine consecutive lunch periods of wondering, Cameron realized that, A) he'd thought about this too much for his own damn good; and B), those particular lines of inquiry were creepy, which meant that; C) he, himself, was becoming creepy - possibly beyond redemption.
It was an unsettling thought.
But, see-- he had an obsessive personality. He couldn't help it. And the only way to eliminate his new mental baggage, apparently, was to do a little investigating.
Besides getting the ear-beating of a lifetime from his father, and also coming to the realization that a person either had to "shit or get off the pot" (Ferris's words, not his), the Ferrari fiasco had taught Cameron an invaluable lesson. High school wasn't forever.
It was ending pretty damn soon, actually.
Wednesday afternoon, Peel was absent, replaced by a chipper young substitute fresh from college, which basically meant a free period. Desks were noisily pushed together as friends laughed and whispered and goofed off, itching for the school day to end. It was always on these days that Cameron realized how few people he really knew.
Being best friends with Ferris meant a constant jumbled entourage consisting of every single clique at school, and even those quieter moments, when it was just him and Sloane, still meant the occasional nods and hellos in the hallways. But here, alone, things were different.
It wasn't an uncomfortable loneliness, like he felt at home, sharper and more insistent even when his parents were there (especially when they were there), but one he could appreciate. He didn't know why, but he had a feeling that Allison (head bent over her notebook, now, sleeves pushed up to her elbows, biting her lip appealingly) could understand that.
After class, he tried to catch her eye; grin; say, "Class sure was a fuckin' waste of time today, huh?" Things he'd seen his friends do with ease countless times, simple as riding a bike.
Point was, he'd never done it himself. Ferris was the one who'd initiated their childhood friendship, walking up to him one day at recess and demanding he play the Hideous Alien Creature so that he, Ferris - playing, naturally, Heroic Astronaut Bounty Hunter - could capture and return him to the Hideous Alien Creature nature preserve. (Sloane, calm and level-headed - who'd started hanging with them sophomore year - had been a much-welcomed addition to the group.)
But Allison apparently knew more about blending into crowds than even he did, and by the time he'd collected his books and looked up, she was gone.
It made no sense that human wallpaper such as himself would have difficulty spotting one of his own kind. Yet... there it was.
(Sloane was right. He really did listen to more U2 than could be good for anyone.)
But after two lunch periods of fruitless searching, by Friday, he found Allison sitting Indian-style on the concrete steps of the school's front entrance, eating a sandwich, sketchpad balanced on her knee.
"Sit here a lot?" he asked, then cringed. It sounded like a shitty line.
Hey, great. What next, Frye? "The paint job on that banister really brings out the color of your eyes"?
He'd better sit down before he said anything else too nut-numbingly stupid.
"Can I--" He cleared his throat, shoving his hands into his back pockets. "It cool if I sit here?"
(He highly doubted she - or any girl at all - would categorize sitting with him as a cool thing, but that was besides the point.)
She studied him for a moment, then shrugged. Thankful she didn't bolt, or worse, throw her sandwich at him, then bolt, he sat.
From far away, wearing enough eyeliner to make Siouxsie Sioux jealous, her eyes looked black, but now, up close - he saw it wasn't far from the truth.
He understood not digging the whole, y'know, cafeteria scene. (If it weren't for Ferris and Sloane, he'd have likely spent every lunch huddled in the library, discovering new fatal diseases he possibly had and wouldn't have known without the entire life-saving Encyclopedia Britannica set.)
"What are you doing here?" she asked, tone deceptively quiet. It was his turn to shrug. Good an answer as any, considering he really had no fucking clue.
They sat in companionable silence for a while, her sketching and eating, him realizing too late that he'd forgotten to buy anything, when she held out half of her sandwich to him. It didn't look too appetizing - he was pretty sure there was no such thing as blue lunchmeat - but he was starving, so he smiled and reached out to accept it.
Her fingers brushed his, and he felt his stomach tighten oddly.
The third to last day of school? Yeah. Really not the time to lecture on a new topic.
(Peel must've been feeling suicidal, or something.)
Cameron glared at his notes, wondering when his scratchy cursive had become a swampy mess to even him, when something small hit his left ear. His first instinct was to discern which burnout had thrown the spitball and keep his distance until he made it to the student parking lot after eighth, but when he glanced down at his lap, he saw that his classroom UFO wasn't a spitball. It was an eraser.
A tiny, hamburger-shaped eraser; miniature tomatoes and pickles and all.
He blinked and turned around.
Although she was staring straight ahead, expression one of practiced boredom, he was pretty sure that Allison had thrown it. A small twitch of her lips gave it away.
Grinning like a goddamn idiot, he pocketed the eraser, and for the rest of class, proceeded to drown out the rest of Peel's lecture.