Author: CaveDwellers PM
And if she asks he will give her everything, but he's just another guy. oneshot.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Words: 4,040 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 3 - Published: 10-15-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2731395
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Tucker hadn't expected anything, really, just a way to somehow pass U.S. History. His parents would kill him if he failed another class, and he knew they weren't joking. When he failed two classes last year…
"Alright, I want this next group to talk about Irish Immigration to the US. Tucker Dryfield… you can work with Maggie—is it Raisin or Resin?" The teacher wasn't even looking at the class; she was having too much trouble trying to pronounce the last names on her attendance chart.
"Resin, like the tree sap." That was probably Maggie. Truth be told, he had never noticed her before. She sounded bored, as if she'd explained her last name one too many times and now she was over it.
The woman pointed vaguely and made a small note. "Gotcha."
As the rest of the partners were called Maggie made eye-contact with him from across the class and jerked her head towards the sun-filled window next to her. Clearly, she wanted him to move over to her.
Inwardly, Tucker shrugged. It didn't matter to him. He brushed his hair out of his eyes, gathered his crap and plopped down in the desk next to her. The seat had recently been vacated, because it was still sort of warm. He couldn't decide if that bothered him or if it was better than a cold seat.
"Did the Irish even do anything for the US?" he wondered aloud. "Besides drink and fight?"
"Beats me. I guess we'll have to find out." Her voice was deep, for a girl, and oddly matter-of-fact despite the cluelessness of her statement. Sarcastic people sounded like that. God, sarcastic people bugged him.
"Yeah." Things became quiet, and Tucker felt awkward. Now what? He slouched in his seat and fiddled with his mechanical pencil. God, did he hate school. He wished class would just be done already so he could hang out with Chris and Regan at the skate park. Knowing about Irish immigration wasn't going to make him a better person, or change his life. It was stupid. Why couldn't they be taught things that actually mattered?
God, this quiet was killing him. He had to say something.
"Hey, just wondering, do you get that Raisin-Resin question a lot?" Not exactly what he had been going for, but it would do.
Maggie smiled wryly, but he could tell that he had surprised her. "Yeah, actually. But I guess I didn't leave much room for mystery, huh?"
He snorted, liking the way she'd handled her answer. "Nah, everybody sounds that bored when people ask them how to say their names. I know I do."
"Hey, if you do then I don't feel so bad." It was a stupid conversation, but she was clearly enjoying herself, and in that instant he decided he liked that. He liked talking to her.
"You shouldn't. Definitely."
The teacher was saying something about the school library being a valuable resource, but he wasn't paying attention. At least, not until Maggie wondered, "Do you think anybody uses the library for actual research these days, or if it's only there for show?"
"I don't read. I dunno." Well, it was the truth. Tucker would much rather be outside on his skateboard than stuffing his nose in some stinking book.
She glanced at him, considering. Her eyes were a very soft blue-green, but it felt like they were piercing him through. Tucker wanted to squirm, but he didn't.
"Skater?" she finally asked.
Not knowing what else to do, he defaulted and smirked cheekily. "That obvious?"
Maggie thought about that. Then she decided, "It's the hair."
He reached up and fingered his hair self-consciously. It was long, though most of it was in a beanie. What came out from under tended to flip up, as intended. Tucker would have loved to say it was because he was too lazy to get it cut, but really he just liked the style.
Just like everybody else.
Then Tucker noticed her hair. It was sandy blonde, a little longer than shoulder length. He hadn't known it was possible to have so many layers. He couldn't figure anything out about her by looking at it, though, and that annoyed him a little. What made him such an open book?
"Yours is… pretty non-distinctive, actually," he remarked, trying to sound like he knew what he was talking about when he had only a faint idea of what distinctive was supposed to mean. He hoped he hadn't just made himself look stupid. Maggie looked like the type who called you on your bluff.
It was her turn to feel her hair, now. "Really? I told the chick at the salon I wanted something kind of edgy."
On another person it might have been, but Maggie was probably the least edgy person he had met. Her name was Maggie, for god's sake! "You should get your money back, then, 'cause you look like a prep," he said.
She didn't actually look like a prep, but that didn't seem to make the least difference to Maggie. She swiped at his arm, only partially joking, and he dodged. "Shut up! I'm trying to distance myself from that word."
Oh. Could have fooled him. She didn't look like any stereotype, just… normal.
"Good luck." He evaded again, snickering.
There was an almost serious silence, and then she declared, "I think we should check the library out, just to see what happens. And if that doesn't work, we can always print something off the Internet. I'm curious to see if it really is a good resource after all." She looked over at him. "That okay with you?"
"Yeah, sure," Tucker said, subconsciously nodding with her. He stopped as soon as he realized he was doing it, but his sentiment was the same.
Just like that, the library didn't seem like such a bad place anymore.
"Okay, I think this was a bad idea."
Tucker threw up his hands. "Now she tells me." He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and checked the time. "Ooh, and five minutes 'til end of the period, too. I love it."
"Well, you weren't coming up with any ideas! I thought you were down with this, too!" Maggie exclaimed, clearly frustrated. She snapped yet another book closed and put it on the top of the slightly teetering pile of rejects. They hadn't found a decent book yet.
He shrugged. "I was, until I realized I didn't have a freakin' clue what I was doing."
That was almost a lie. He had never known what he was doing, but he had gone into this knowing that, so it had never bothered him to begin with. He just wanted to see how she would react.
"And when was that?"
"Oh, about five minutes into it," he said airily, going over to the table and pretending to read the next book over her shoulder, complete with page-turning.
"Aw, Tucker, why didn't you tell me?" she said, her shoulders abruptly slumped.
"I did. Before we even came here, I told you I didn't read—you think I know my way around libraries?"
"No. What was I thinking? Someone like you is useless in libraries—I'm practically useless in libraries!" She stood up and began pacing agitatedly.
"I don't see what the problem is. Just print up a couple of sources tonight and bring 'em to class tomorrow. We'll put them together and bam, there's our presentation."
"So what if we don't actually know what we're talking about, smartass?"
Tucker was not fazed by that in the least. "It's called BS. Learn it, love it, use it whenever possible. That's how I get through school."
She eyed him up, and he could see the exact moment she decided he was BS-ing that last statement. He couldn't exactly deny it.
Then Maggie became thoughtful. "Or we could quick-review the sources before school, and then in class, and make a couple notes of what we want to say in the presentation before we go up there," she said, clearly thinking aloud. "That could be enough to make it seem like we know what we're doing."
It wasn't exactly BS, but it worked for him. Her idea was probably harder to crack under suspicious teacher prodding, anyway.
He nodded. "Yeah, and if we get drilled you can always trip her up by saying your last name is really Raisin after all."
"Yes, it's foolproof. I see it." Maggie laughed. It was a great sound, Tucker decided. As great as her smile.
The bell rang, and the words were out of his mouth before he had decided to say them. "Hey, you got a number?"
Tucker was revisited by thoughts of how stupid school was in his next period: English. What a waste of time. If he wanted to, he could write a decent paper, and that was all that really mattered, right?
He thought so.
So he decided to text Maggie. It had only been like, twenty minutes, but already he missed talking to her. And why not? He had asked, and she had given him her cell number. If that wasn't a sign that talking was okay with both of them he didn't know what was.
It took about a minute to get her response. She was either a slow texter or she was worrying about getting caught, he couldn't tell.
'Shouldn't you be in class?'
He thought it funny that she actually took the time to type it all out. Seriously, who did that? It took way too much time, in his opinion.
Actually, she seemed like too much of a goody two-shoes to skip. But still.
'I am in class' she told him about a minute later.
'so am i'
'Then shouldn't you be paying attention?'
'look whos tlking' And to show there were no hard feelings he added a smiley.
'I am paying attention'
'not even. Ur tlking 2 me'
'Why do you think I take so long to respond?'
As if to prove her point, that text came in surprisingly fast. Tucker was impressed, to say the least. She had even spelled everything correctly. He wondered how long it took to master something like that.
'oh' Was all he could think to say.
'That's right. Now pay attention to your class. I'll ttyl, okay?'
And Tucker obeyed because 1) he couldn't fail another class and 2) for some reason, he believed her.
The funniest thing was that Maggie didn't let him down.
The more Tucker got talking to Maggie, the more he realized that she was pretty much the definition of Social. One day she would hang out with him and his friends, the next she would be with the anime club making jokes about obscure Japanese comics, and the day after that she would be chatting it up with the cheer squad, or the goths. He had never heard a bad word about her. And no, she wasn't sarcastic at all.
While he had seen her frustrated, Tucker had never seen her downright angry. Maybe that was why she was constantly being greeted in the halls: she was so easy to get along with. And she was smart. And—dare he admit it—she was pretty hot, too.
Maggie could go practically anywhere, but there was no place she belonged. She talked to him about that, once. "I mean, having a lot of people to go to and hang out with is great, but I have no best friends, no confidants—you know what that means, right?"
"Err, not exactly," he had said, a little embarrassed.
"A confidant is someone you can spill your guts to, basically. Someone you can trust."
"Oh. Yeah." Now that he was thinking, he had known what that word meant, once upon a time. Somewhere along the way he had forgotten it.
"Yeah, but I don't have that. I don't know anybody well enough. So if I have a problem I'm pretty much screwed, 'cause there's no one to talk to."
"So I'm guessing I'm not the first person you've said this to." He had been trying to understand the purpose of the confession. Trying and failing horribly.
"Well, no." She had looked a little embarrassed herself, and he hadn't been able to think of why. "But I like talking to you, Tuck. You don't judge, you just listen."
"Just trying to be a good friend," he said gruffly. But his chest had swollen like a balloon, and the gruffness was more to hide how flustered he was than anything.
And Maggie had smiled like she knew exactly how he felt. "Yeah, but friends don't usually try so hard."
Now that he was thinking about that, Tucker didn't know what she had been trying to say. Had she meant just that: that he was a good friend, and she liked talking to him? Or had she meant for it to have a dual-meaning: that he was a good friend, but also that there was a reason she told him more than she told others?
And he wondered how it had to feel not to have anybody to go to when you had a problem. He really couldn't imagine it, but he wanted to. He wanted to identify with Maggie, to let her know that he understood and mean it.
He was on one of the many school benches, texting—who else—Maggie when Regan sat down next to him. Most people thought of a guy when they heard her name, but she was a tomboy. Well, sometimes. Tucker had known her long enough to recognize the girly expression she had right now. He had probably made another ignorant guy mistake again. She was good at calling him on those things.
"Oh, hey," he muttered, scooting over some so she had enough room.
Her gaze went to his cell phone, and he could tell that she didn't need to ask to know. "Maggie?"
"Yeah." He slid his phone shut and shoved it into his pocket, ignoring the buzz as the returning text came in. They hadn't been talking about anything private, but for some reason he was feeling protective.
"Dude, you know she's just treating you like everybody else, right?" Regan said.
Tucker didn't like the way that she phrased that. "What do you mean?" he asked guardedly.
She sat back, mouth twisting as she figured how best to put it. "Well, it's—" she stopped, scratched her head, and let out a breath as if in defeat. "Okay, I don't know a nice way to put it. Maggie's awesome—we all like her—" she gestured, supposedly towards the rest of their group, but her aim was way off "—but she's one of those chicks that just doesn't commit, y'know? Take it from a chick: she's a flirt. But she's not going for anybody and you can't see that."
Tucker didn't give himself time to think before he defaulted. "Whoa, where the hell did all that come from? Who said I liked her?"
"Your face, whenever she comes around," Regan said flatly.
"Oh, and you can read my mind, right?"
Regan stood up. "Look, I'm just trying to look out for you."
Conveniently—oh, so conveniently—the bell rang.
"I'll see you, Tuck," she said stiffly, bending down to pick up the backpack he hadn't even realized she'd brought with her and stalking away.
Tucker wanted to be pissed, but he couldn't. Because Regan had been his friend forever, and he knew she wouldn't be saying things just to be bitchy. There was some sense in what she said: what evidence did he have that Maggie was treating him any differently than anybody else? He liked her—liked her better than anybody he'd ever met—but he didn't know how she acted with her other friends. All he knew was the person he had worked with in History, and the person he regularly sent texts to or had lunch with. That was about it.
A part of him hated to leave it, but he didn't answer Maggie's text on his way to class.
He still hadn't decided what he felt when she started walking with him during his free period. It was her free period, too. There had been times when they spent it hanging out together, but he hadn't wanted to do that again until he had sorted himself out. It didn't seem fair, somehow.
Obviously, there was no such luck for him.
"Hey Tucker, what's up with you? I tried texting like, fifty times and you never answered. Did you not get them or something?"
He had gotten all of those, of course, but he didn't feel like saying as much. "Oh yeah, I've just been… piled with homework." Inwardly, he had to cringe at the lameness of that excuse. He was the kind of person who blew off as much homework as he could, and if he had to do it he did at the last minute. Maggie knew that.
Both of her eyebrows rose. "No way—you feeling the pressure of homework? That's like you knowing the Dewey decimal system."
He shrugged. "Yeah, well, sometimes a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do to get through a class."
Of course she would know that. And of course he had told her what a bad student he was. Of course—because if she gave him the chance he would tell her everything, even those things people were better off not knowing.
Maggie never hesitated to call a bluff. He had known that the day he met her. What made him think it would be any different now?
"So?" said Tucker defensively.
"So, I think we should probably talk, 'cause I think this is about me." She didn't wait for an answer before she grabbed his arm and hauled him over to one of those picnic tables birds just couldn't resist crapping on. That was probably why nobody was sitting on it, but as long as it was dry crap Tucker didn't care about it and it seemed that Maggie didn't either.
She made him sit and then dropped down across from him. She put her forearms on the table and leaned foreword. "Okay, talk to me."
"The weather sucks, doesn't it?"
"Come on, Tuck. I've got…" she rummaged in the pocket of her jacket, and withdrew a silver coin. "Five cents. Instead of a penny, I'm offering five cents for your thoughts." She held it out to him, a quirky smile playing across her lips.
Maggie paused, thinking, those soft blue-green eyes cast off to the side. He wanted to break down, but the What Ifs kept stopping him. What if he was right? What if he was just being an idiot? What if this was his one chance, and he was blowing it? What if he was saving himself?
She looked up and met his eyes, startling him. "What did I do? I thought we had something really awesome going on, and now suddenly all I'm getting is…" she waved her hand in front of her face "Wall. What happened?"
That was all it took to crack him, to make him so uneasy he couldn't stand looking her in the eye. "Nothing."
"Nothing my foot." He thought it a little ironic that she chose that moment to slap the table with her hand. "Why is it that guys never want to talk about what's really going on? Why do they always expect all the problems to go away because they ignore it?"
That got him. "So I've got issues. You're acting like we're dating or something."
"We're not, but—Tuck, that doesn't mean I don't care about you."
"That doesn't mean I have to tell you every damn thing, either," he snapped.
That hadn't been what he meant to say at all. He didn't want to push her away, but he didn't want to give ground prematurely, either. He wanted it to be exactly the same for both of them, but he didn't know how to do it.
"I'm not saying that—where are you getting this crap?" She looked genuinely confused. "I just want to know where things went wrong, 'cause I really like talking to you and—I don't know about you—but I don't want to lose it. Okay? That's my side of the story. What's yours?"
God, he couldn't keep his guard up around her. He was going to do the exact same thing he always did, and he wasn't going to care.
"You don't wanna know," he muttered.
"I wouldn't be asking if I didn't want to know, Tucker."
"Look, I don't know who's been telling you I'm no good because I treat everybody exactly the same—oh, don't even give me that look, this has happened before—I'm telling you I don't." He couldn't remember when she had stood; all he knew was that she was right in front of him and he couldn't tear his eyes away. "I know I'm not an open book or anything 'cause I never thought it would be this hard, but I'm trying, an—"
Tucker didn't care that he was at school and it probably looked stupid, he hugged her anyway. Either the table was shorter than he thought or Maggie was taller, because he didn't come any higher than her ribcage. He was glad, though, because he hadn't been thinking about what would happen if he ended up any higher. Because of the way her soft stomach tensed, he knew he had caught her by surprise.
She was warm.
"You're not, but I am an open book," he mumbled into her. Could she even understand this? He didn't know. "And I don't want to be played with like I'm just another guy."
At this Maggie relaxed considerably. She put her arms around his head and shoulders, holding him in place. "I wouldn't do that to you, Tuck, I swear," she said in a voice meant only for his ears. "I swear."
He stayed there for a minute, enjoying the hug, before deciding that he'd made himself look stupid in front of the whole school long enough and moving back. "So… that's it, then," he said, somewhat awkwardly.
Maggie put her hands on her hips. "Excuse me? I'm seeing you tomorrow. I'll text you later today—this is not it. You've got me, I'm not going away any time soon."
Try as he might, he couldn't keep from smiling as she sat stubbornly next to him. He bumped her shoulder with his. "Not that it, genius."
"So wh—" Recognition hit her, then. "Oh. Oops."
"Yeah." What was that saying again? The one with the book? He couldn't remember. Probably wouldn't work, anyway.
Nothin' but fluff, to be sure. I actually wrote this for a long-distance writing class I'm taking. It ended up being like, 8 pages too long (I guess I got carried away), so I had to suck it up and lob off most of these scenes when I sent it in. I'm hoping it will live on here.