Week three: a friend of mine, Judy, has now been incorporated into the weekly tradition. As always, check out MetropolisNoir for my sister's entry and now check out Judy under Pyrobes.

"Political Geography"

Brandon stared forlornly at the paper the teacher had put on his desk, frowning miserably as he watched the blood-red F drip ink down the front of the test page. It was the third such F he'd gotten in this course, and he was now failing with rainbow-like colors. The bell rang, signaling the end of class and the end of the school day. He frowned, shoving his books and notes into his knapsack.

"Mr. Corruth. Mr. Hilman. If you'd stay a moment." The professor, a balding, greying man with a thickness that rivaled most car widths and a moustache that could only have come from one's darkest nightmares, waited impatiently until the classroom cleared, leaving Brandon and another boy (Craig maybe?) alone in the classroom with him.

"As you gentlemen know, you both did extremely poorly on the last few exams in this course. At the rate you're going, you will both flunk out and have to repeat next year." Brandon suppressed a groan. He hated this class, a class that combined both government and geography. Two of his weakest subjects since he'd graduated from middle school.

"I don't doubt that you both have other strengths, and this is probably not your best class. Therefore, I'm willing to let you make up the exams with a simple extra credit project." The man's beady eyes somehow gained a diabolical glint, and Brandon was suddenly afraid. Very afraid.

"As you know, in November, the 2004 elections will take place, shaping this nation's future. This is a great opportunity for two young people such as yourselves to learn more about this country's great workings and the people who make it up. Therefore, I would like the two of you to collaborate on a wide scale project depicting the candidate's policies and the various states they are greatly supported in. If you can do this, and do this well, and have this project ready to hand in on Monday, November First, I'd be willing to scale your grades somewhat, depending on how well you do."

Brandon gulped. That gave them barely a week.

"This will, of course, have to be an entirely outside of class project, so you'll have to get together outside of class. Feel free to ask me for any help if you need it." The teacher positively beamed at that thought.

"Thank you, sir. We'll do our best." Brandon said, then followed the silent Craig out to the hallway.

"So when do you want to get together for this shindig?" Brandon asked as soon as they were clear of the classroom.

"I'm not sure." Craig replied, somewhat distractedly as he opened his locker.

"Well… are you free tonight? We could probably get a good start on it." Brandon persisted.

"No," was Craig's careless response.

"Well when are you free?" Brandon asked, holding his temper in check.

"Let's see… maybe… the day after… never." Craig said deadpan, turning to look at him. Brandon gaped at him, then glared.

"In case you didn't realize, this is supposed to be a joint project! Don't you even care that you might fail?" Brandon yelled, his voice echoing off down the hallway.

"Well, let's see… can't say that I do. Sorry. Good luck with that project, sound's a total bitch." Craig shut his locker and walked away.

Brandon stood there fuming for a few minutes before growling low and walking away himself. He went to his locker quickly, then made his way to his locker. Still grumbling, he yanked out the books he'd need for his homework that evening, and walked out to his car.

Fine, so he'd do the damned project himself. A daunting task, to be sure, but he couldn't flunk out of this course, it was required for graduation. He glowered as he walked out to his car. It would probably take up most of his spare time for the next week. Good thing he didn't have a social life to speak of. Dammit. If only he could do a project on something he was remotely interested in, this wouldn't be such a hassle. But then again, if he were interested in it, then he wouldn't be failing the course.

Ten minutes later found Brandon in front of his computer, searching for Kerry and Bush's policies on everything from abortion to the war on Iraq. It didn't take him long before he had a sizeable stack of printouts neatly sitting on his desk. He went from there, finding past electoral voting maps, colored democrat and republican. He smiled somewhat when he found a projected map of the voting tendencies of the various states for this election.

After making up a quick outline of how he'd present the information, he gave up for the evening. A dinner of macaroni and cheese later, he set to work on his various other homework. It was much later that night that he finally finished, cursing the fact that he didn't have a brain capable of doing anti-derivatives faster.

The next day of school was the same depressingly boring drivel again. Calculus, then his English class, then his favorite class – Studio Art – and finally he was headed once again to his last class, Politics and Geography.

He was surprised beyond measure when Craig stopped him outside the door with a hand on his shoulder.

"Can I talk to you real quick?" The expressionless face from earlier was gone, and the boy looked a bit nervous.

"Sure." Brandon said, shrugging. If the idiot thought he was getting in on the project now, he was sorely mistaken.

"Look, I'm sorry about yesterday. I shouldn't have been so… lackluster about the damned project. And I would understand completely if you told me to fuck off instead of letting me help. I did do a bit of work on my own last night once my head slipped back into it's rightful place on my shoulders, if you want to look at it?" Craig offered hopefully, looking awfully contrite.

"Um… I'm not sure. Why were you so rude yesterday?" Brandon asked, confused at the turnabout.

Craig looked sheepish. "Well, I don't really have a good excuse… it was a Monday? And I'd just failed a test?"

Brandon rolled his eyes, but smiled. "Alright, fine. But now we have to get to class. I'll talk to you after, ok?" Craig smiled, relief flooding his face.

"Yeah, sure. Let's go." Craig led the way into the classroom, clearing the doorway just as the bell rang. Brandon grinned and took his seat. Well, things were looking up quite a bit, he'd say.

Class was just as boring as ever, and it seemed to stretch out for an eternity before the bell rang. Brandon quickly made his way over to Craig, shoving his papers into his bag quickly. Before the two could escape the room, the teacher stopped them.

"So boys, how goes the project? Need any input?" The man beamed at them again, and Brandon could've sworn he saw little sparkles floating about his moustached face.

"Er… no that's ok. I think we've got a good start on it though." Brandon managed, before grabbing Craig's arm and pulling him clear. "We've got to get going, see you tomorrow!"

Craig grinned as they cleared the room, heading towards his locker.

"So, are you busy this afternoon?" He asked Brandon sardonically.

"Yes." Brandon stated deadpan, causing Craig to stop suddenly and swivel around to eye him critically.

"You're joshing me."

"No."

"You sure?"

"Yes. And who says joshing?"

"Me obviously."

Silence descended for a moment.

"So. Your house or mine?" Craig asked. Brandon grinned.

"Mine, it's got food, and I left all my printouts there."

Half an hour later found the two bonding over Cheetos and printouts of George W. Bush's plans for America.

"If you could vote, knowing what you know about the two candidates now, who would you vote for?" Craig asked, eyeing the printout of the 2000 election.

"Kerry probably." Brandon replied, a bit absentmindedly as he simultaneously ate a few Cheetos and flipped through a thick sheaf of papers.

"Why?"

"I don't think Bush would be a good choice for office again, considering his stance on the current issues and the choices he's made in the past four years. Kerry may not be a great choice either, but he's the only chance that Bush will be outvoted. And I believe that Bush needs to be ousted more than Kerry shouldn't be elected." Brandon paused. "Does that make any sense?"

Craig grinned. "Yeah. We should probably put it in there at some point. It would probably make Mr. Mueller happy to know we've got some sort of opinion on this all."

Brandon nodded and continued flipping through papers, occasionally highlighting this and that.

The week passed quickly, each evening the two boys would meet at Brandon's house after refusing the offer from Mr. Mueller for his help and running from the weird sparkles. They made great progress and eventually came up with a ten page paper and three maps to turn in. They presented it ceremoniously on Monday November the first, proud of their accomplishment. They both hid grins when Mr. Mueller looked a bit sadly at them, inquiring if they needed help with anything else. There were no sparkles thankfully.

After class that day, they made their way out to their lockers. Brandon smiled tentatively. "Well, it was nice working with you. After that first day anyway."

Craig looked vaguely thoughtful. "So. Got any plans?"

Brandon grinned. "And if I say yes?"

"Then I'm going to be forced to think you're joshing me."

"Your house or mine?"

"I've got a new playstation game."

"What're we hanging about here then for?"

The next day in class, Mr. Mueller asked them to for a few moments. He then gave them the good news that, due to their spectacular and stellar report, he would be forced to upgrade their test average to a B. The boys smiled. Then they went to Brandon's house and bonded over more Cheetos.