little things. ▒
because you've fallen
head over heels.
▒▒▒ ♥ ▒▒▒
You don't really know what it is that makes you glance at her every few seconds. Her hair is long, and tied back into a low ponytail that hangs down her shoulder every time she bends her head to take down the useless stuff on the slides at the front. The teacher's incessant babbling is grating on your nerves, but staring at her does make things a little more bearable. You're not in the same class – she probably doesn't even know your name. But then again, you are pretty well-known in the school, even if it wasn't your own doing. It helps when you have a charming face and score the most goals at the championships.
Some guy next to you cracks a joke that you don't register because it'd probably lower your intellect, and everyone else rumbles with laughter. You're sitting at the back of the lecture theater because the whole lot of you never listens and teachers have long given up trying to change things – maybe it is true that the students have more power than their educators, at times. Either way, your grades aren't too bad, considering the minimal effort you put into your academics; no one's complaining. The bell rings too quickly for you, too slowly for everyone else. Pens race across papers as those who care try their hardest to replicate the slab of information on the very last slide, even though it's probably available in the library or over the Internet. You resist the urge to roll your eyes as you get up and sling your bag over your shoulders, keeping your eyes on her at all times.
She flips her hair backwards with a slight frown on her face, as though she finds her ponytail a little irritating, then shuffles her papers and slides them carefully into her file. A small smile creeps across your face as you realize it's a plastic folder with pink cartoon rabbit prints all over it. More shuffling, and she moves up the steps, grinning at a friend. Your eyes narrow ever so slightly, but then you realize her radiant beam is directed at a girl. A good girl friend, you suppose. The both of them don't seem much of the backstabbing bitchy good friends sort. The friend has a messy fringe that covers her eyes and a stuck-up expression that's probably there all the time, although it dissolves into a lopsided smile as they exchange a hug – a form of girly greeting that you never understand. Then the trusty, touchy-feely friend looks over her shoulder amidst the embrace, and locks eyes with you. She sends a knowing smirk over as your eyes widen. Some dude barrels his way past you and almost sends you reeling back into your seat, but you regain your composure quickly and glance over again. The girls are gone, and you're late for your next class.
You're not too sure what to make of that small… exchange of sorts.
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The cafeteria is big, but the school population is bigger. You poke at your mashed potatoes listlessly as the guys chatter around you excitedly about last night's soccer match, with a few girls joining in with their two cents worth. They bore you, just like almost everything else. You don't think she has lunch break with you, but you cast a sweeping glance over the tables anyway. A loud squeal comes from behind, and you turn your head in curiosity more than anything else. Two girls, one with cropped hair and one with that ever-familiar swish of a ponytail, are jumping around like rabid idiots, while their friends just raise their eyebrows in amusement and continue on with consuming food or drooling on the oily tables. Yeah, it's probably a common scene to them. To your surprise, you don't really feel disgusted with their childish behavior. Instead, it feels a tad refreshing to know that there are still people out there who don't act like what they aren't just to move up the social ladder.
Someone taps your shoulder with a well-manicured nail and you turn with a sense of dread looming over you. Sure, she's got a pretty face and a hot body that her tight uniform accentuates, but she's got too much lip gloss on and her rose scent is overpowering. For good measure, you hate roses with a vengeance, after an unfortunate incident involving a five-year-old you and a rose bush. Too bad she doesn't get the hint when your lips turn downwards slightly, and continues flirting with you shamelessly. You let out an exasperated sigh inwardly and excuse yourself to go to the Gents. At that moment, you're just really thankful that you aren't a girl because girls always go and relieve themselves in packs. You've never understood why, but you don't think the male population ever will, so you give it a rest. For now, it's just good that you've gotten Rosie (what was her real name again?) off your back.
It's on your way to the basketball court (which is a much better place than the washroom) that someone walks into your chest, and you put out a hand by reflex to steady her. The rough tips of your fingers grasp her pale arm as you hold her up and she smiles apologetically before attempting to scurry off. Her face is turning redder by the minute, and it's making you do things that you don't usually do. Like blurt out stupid things to someone who doesn't know you or keep your hand wound around her wrist too long.
"Hey. I'm Darren. From Economics," you say before you realize what you're saying, and try your very best not to run into the nearest pillar and knock your head against it ten thousand times. She stares at you with her big, watery eyes (it might be something to do with her contact lenses) and blink twice before creasing her eyebrows together.
"I know; you sit behind, don't you?" she states simply, as she gently moves your hand away and walks off without waiting for your reply. You don't really care that she's kinda-sorta brushed you off and made you act like a fool, because you're too busy grinning like a moron at the very fact that she knows you, that she's known your name since a long time ago. There's no need to chase after her to ask her for her name – you already know it. It's duo-syllabic, soft and to the point, because that's just the way she is.
▒▒▒ ♥ ▒▒▒
When you pass her in the corridors now, you give her a nod of acknowledgement. She wasn't really used to having a popular stranger greet her at first, but later on she warmed up and started waving back with a small smile. Nothing special, nothing to get excited about. But it makes you happy all the same, even if you don't show it other than a ghost of a smile passing across your face from time to time. Tests come and go, more Economics lectures where you just sit there and observe her and nothing else, occasional meetings at your lockers because you're lucky enough to have one on the same floor as hers.
And then, Valentine's Day rolls by.
You stay still in front of the booth selling flowers for a while, staring blankly at the crowd around you. This isn't new to you, but it's still as nerve-wracking. Picking up a pen with a sigh, you scrawl her name and class on a piece of paper and pass it to the girl behind the counter. Nothing extraordinary, just a single pink flower (not a rose) with a small note. Anonymous, of course. You hope she doesn't freak out, because she seems like the sort, then stalk off like you've done something really wrong. No one else knows, or so you think.
School ends like every other day, and you have basketball practice. You're pulling your shirt over your head when someone says, "Hey." You're a bit embarrassed because you have half your shirt off, but she doesn't seem to mind. Waving her hand slightly, she gestures to you to complete your changing process. You shrug and slip on your jersey, before looking her in the eye. She squints at you with a critical gaze, towering over you because you're seated and she's not. Cropped hair curling around her neck and collar, she does look quite formidable with that perpetual dark look on her face.
"Did you need something?" you ask, out of curiosity and the fact that you're going to be late for the warm-ups. She cocks her head slightly to the left.
There is no polite talk, just straight confrontation. You wonder why she's friends with this girl. "You sent the flower to Janice, didn't you?"
Your heart skips a beat for real, but you succeed in looking indifferent. This girl is pissing you off – she's got no business poking her nose into whatever you're doing. "Yeah, what's it to you?" you retort, keeping your voice cool. It isn't long before you realize that was the wrong thing to say.
She fixes you with a condescending glare, which is quite effective since she's still looming over you and her arms are folded. Weight on one foot, she speaks slowly, as though you're three years old with saliva dribbling down your mouth. "If you ever plan on chasing her, you'll have to be facing me pretty often." A plain statement. You remain silent and let her go on because she doesn't seem to be finished. "You hurt her, and I'll make sure you'll never be able to have kids again," she says almost sweetly, but you know better. Gulping visibly, you give her a curt nod.
"Yeah… Look, I really gotta go," you say lamely, pointing at your Coach yelling bloody murder at you from the courts. She turns around and lets out a short laugh. The confrontation is over in a second, and she's smiling pleasantly at you as you dribble a basketball towards your team, trying hard not to seem as though you're running away from her (but failing miserably). Best girl friends sure scare the shit out of you.
But of course, that isn't going to deter you.
▒▒▒ ♥ ▒▒▒
Janice never did find out who sent her the Valentine's Day gift. You have mixed feelings about this, but dismiss it and just hope that you made her happy for the day. Over the past few weeks, you now understand how antagonizing it is to woo someone – your previous girlfriends had thrown themselves onto you and you'd just gone with the flow. This is way different, especially since the target is just too oblivious.
Monday – you see her in glasses for the first time. The thin black frames sit on her button nose like they've always been there, and you have to restrain yourself from reaching over and tweaking her nose. You make casual conversation, asking her why she decided to switch out of contacts today, and she replies with a slight scrunch of her cute nose that she couldn't open her eyes this morning. Term paper? you venture a guess, because you remember vaguely that she takes History or something, and your guy friends are always whining about the amount of work they have to do for the stupid subject. Her eyebrows lift with surprise and she nods, making a face at you to show how much she likes the subject. The bell goes soon after, and the two of you make your way to class – Economics lecture. It makes you a little too happy that the two of you seem like you're going to class together, as a couple. When did you become a lovesick puppy like the protagonists in all those trashy romance novels? (Not that you read them, of course.)
Today, you sit a little further down, somewhere closer to her. Your friends don't really notice the difference, because most of them are stone-dead in the morning anyway. You venture down too much, and before you know it, you're directly behind her. It isn't strange to sit in another seat during lectures, so no one says anything and just shifts around to blend in before the teacher starts droning. The lecture sucks, as usual, and you know everything already anyway. But she's still taking notes and listening diligently, not even bothering to start small talk with her seat-mates. It's then that you realize she doesn't really talk to anyone except that friend who threatened you just a few days ago.
It might have been a mistake, but you throw a paper clip at the back of head anyway. She whips her head around, ponytail slapping against her cheek. You give her a lazy grin and twirl your pen with your fingers. She frowns at you, then turns back to continue listening. It's your turn to frown, because you wanted to capture her attention for a longer period than that. Undefeated, you throw another paper clip (a yellow one) at her hair again and snort with laughter as it stays, contrasting yellow on dark brown. She turns around again with an indignant scowl on her face and hisses at you to stop doing that! That action only earns stifled laughs from you, much to her annoyance. This little bantering continues until the end of the lecture, and you feel like you've been friends with her for ages.
She isn't too happy about the paper clips in her hair, but you resolve that quickly. Long arms are an advantage, you discover as you pull off her hair-tie gently and run your fingers through her hair quickly to rid her long silky strands of metal clips. There's a stricken expression on her face, and you wonder if you've gone a bit too far for friends-who-only-talk-at-lockers, but then her face floods with color and she starts stuttering as she asks you for her rubber band and tries to bunch her hair up back into the ponytail, and everything is worth it. You hear snickering from the back, and you know it's her trusty friend, who's no doubt enjoying this scene.
You walk Janice to her next class, carrying her heavy files for her. She doesn't protest because she's still smarting over the embarrassment from before, and you aren't complaining. The two of you walk side by side, and you're a little surprised by the fact that she only reaches your chest in terms of height. You've always had a soft spot for shorter girls, though. The walk is too short for you, probably too long for her. You dump her things on the desk she's chosen and tug at her ponytail before sauntering out of class. Her jaw drops as she sniffs and rants a little to a classmate as you smirk at her from outside, through the big window. It's true that infatuation makes you do all kinds of stupid things, and you've just confirmed that once again.
Funny thing is, you don't seem to care.
▒▒▒ ♥ ▒▒▒
The school year rushes past in a blur, with you leading the team to win the nationals again, and studying in the library because Janice is always here. You see her burying her nose in a thick Economics textbook, trying hard not to fall asleep. It puts a smile on your usually unfriendly face and you start walking up to her. Her friend, who's become a lot nicer to you over time but still doesn't trust you enough to leave the two of you alone in a common space, stays put in her position next to Janice and smiles at you triumphantly. You roll your eyes inwardly and drag out the chair opposite the girls, flopping down ungracefully and waking Janice up.
She jolts up, nearly dropping the heavy textbook onto the table with a loud bang if not for your save. Blinking and staring around, she looks so much like a lost puppy wandering around on the road that you reach over and ruffle her hair. She purses her lips without really meaning it, and reties her messy locks. You scrutinize her for a while, then realize what's different today.
"You cut your hair," you say with mild surprise.
"That's nice, Captain Obvious," her friend replies almost immediately, that intolerable smirk on her face. You resist the urge to kick her under the table because you know that Janice won't appreciate it. In return, you get to see Janice shushing the irritating friend and smile at you apologetically.
Darren: 1, Friend: 0.
The friend doesn't seem to be bothered though, and swats Janice's reprimands away before collecting her books and saying in a teasing tone that she's going to leave the two lovebirds alone while she goes off to the track to sweat her fats off. There's silence after her departure, as though the two of you are trying to comprehend what the alien has just said, then Janice bursts into giggles. You raise an eyebrow – hmm, her giggles are much nicer to the ears than the high-pitched laughter of the girls that you used to hang out with. You laugh along, and then you do something stupid yet again.
"I like you."
She stops midway another giggle, and stares at you with widening eyes.
Shit, shit, shit, shit, you repeat under your breath a million times before calming down enough to construct a proper sentence. Well, since you're already in the hot soup, might as well jump into the fire. "I… I like you a lot. Um, since the start of the year, maybe. You know, during Economics and all," you trail off, feeling really dumb. She's still silent, and you don't dare to meet her gaze in fear of rejection.
But it comes anyway, even if it's not really in the way you expected.
"Someone dared you to do this, didn't they?" she asks incredulously, her voice raising an octave. You're glad the library is pretty empty right now and the librarians are patrolling another part for noisy kids who smuggle food in and move the chairs around too much. You snap your head up and stare at her in disbelief – you've just poured out your heart to her, and she just blows you off with such a lousy excuse? You're ready to start ranting at her like you've never done before because you're rather humiliated, but then you look into her eyes again, and figure that she's actually telling the truth.
She really doesn't believe she's good enough for someone to like her.
Your angry expression softens till you're actually smiling (albeit a little tiredly) at her. "I sent that flower to you a while back, if you remember." Her eyes light up with realization, and you know she remembers. A light flush rises up her cheeks as she remembers the small note. It was something romantic, about the girl I can't take my eyes off of. She hadn't given it much thought, aside from the fact that it'd made her really happy, from within. The flower had shriveled up a long time ago, but she keeps it pressed in her journal and looks at it from time to time. Of course, you don't know that.
"You sure no one's paying you to do this?" she asks with less conviction than before, eyes darting around to look at the people around the both of you. The scene is pretty hilarious, and you almost burst out in laughter but decide against it since it'll just confirm her prior assumption. They're making quite a bit of noise, and the angry menopausing librarian is marching over with an angry look on her face. You know it's probably not the right time, probably the most stupid thing you've done in your list of Stupid things Darren has done after falling in love with Janice, but you tilt her chin upwards with your index finger and thumb, before brushing your lips against hers.
"Do you believe me now?" you ask with a slight pleading tone in your voice, looking at her earnestly. (You hope the bitchy librarian trips over a book, and she actually does.) She returns your gaze with a confused one, her face fully flushed pink. Then she lets a small smile grace her lips hesitantly, and moves forward to close the distance between the two of you.
And you know that this stupid thing ranks first in your list of stupid things, but it's definitely the best thing that's happened to you in your entire seventeen years of life.
▒▒▒ ♥ ▒▒▒
Author's Notes: Yet another useless one-shot that sprouted out of nowhere. Reviews much appreciated.