AN: A big thanks to Mae again. I don't know what I'd do without her.
ETA: I must thank everyone dearly for all the support I've received for this one-shot. If I could reply to all of you, I would. But I'm so behind now that I fear I'll never finish. Forgive me. Still, I wanted to acknowledge reviewers somehow. So, from my measly little heart to yours, thank you. :)
THE DAY I STALKED HIM
Tuesdays were great for many reasons.
First and foremost, on Tuesdays, the cafeteria served spicy chicken burgers with an extra helping of curly cut fries. Tuesdays also meant a double spare block for all seniors taking the morning combination World History and AP English. The best part about Tuesdays though, was that the swim team had not one, but two hours of practice.
What did two hours of practice mean?
Oh, woe is my heart. It meant that Ashton Brody—not to be mistaken for either Ashton Kutcher or Adam Brody—would be sharing the glory of his body with the students of Lambert Carr High for a whole one hundred and twenty minutes.
The way his back muscles grew taut when he warmed up, the way the water glistened as it trickled over his chest and abs, the way he toweled off his dirty blond hair…
Be still my heart.
Damn it, I said be still.
So what was so special about this particular Tuesday? This was the Tuesday I would put an end to this twisted infatuation.
Ever since he had transferred here two months ago, not a day passed where I did not think about him. Whether it was G-rated or X-rated, those moments were my guilty pleasures, my secret little treasures that I stashed away.
It was an unhealthy hobby. Which was why, after days of careful consideration, I've decided to put a stop to such a fatal obsession.
But how, you ask?
It was so simple it was ingenious.
Based on the assumption that no one was perfect, it would also imply that Ashton Brody was not flawless. It was a universal fact. It had to be true.
So, all I had to do was catch him in a moment of imperfection. Maybe he would knock over an old lady, or litter, or kick a dog, or… something. Anything!
I flipped to a fresh page in my Snoopy notebook and reached for the pencil tucked behind my ear. My trustworthy friend never failed me in times of need.
Target: Ashton Brody
Eye color: Blue
Hair color: Blond
Mission commenced at 7:45am.
007 location: target locker minus 6.
Target location: MIA
I doodled hearts around his name.
"God, you're so pathetic," Courtney had said. Then after finding out about today's scheme, "God, you're such a freak."
It was difficult to plead innocent to that, because it was true. Best friends knew best, right?
Courtney had also said, "Look, you wanna find some big ass zit on his prettyboy face? It's starin' at you, sweetie. What kind of guy like him doesn't have a girlfriend already? He's gay."
Oh, I hadn't wanted to believe it, I really hadn't. But what she said held a modicum of truth, did it not? How could a seemingly attractive, smart, athletic, and all around nice guy not have a girlfriend? How?
There was obviously something wrong with him. Maybe he was asexual?
Whatever it was, be it his secret fetish nose-picking or his sexlessness, I was going to find out so that my soul and libido may rest in pea—
Speak of the devil.
Target approaching locker with 2 irrelevant individuals.
Actions: chatting and laughing
Notes: beautiful straight, white teeth. Swoon.
"And so I said, 'Yo mama so fat I took a picture of her last Christmas and it's still printing,'" Irrelevant Individual Number 1 joked.
Ashton laughed but made no response.
Irrelevant Individual Number 2, on the other hand, doubled over with a couple of loud guffaws, and smacked Irrelevant Individual Number 1 on the back. "Woo, man! That's the shit."
It was difficult not to frown at the trio. Unfortunately, I had the honor of attending elementary with both irrelevant individuals and lo and behold, they hadn't changed since. They were, however, gifted athletes.
Strike one: Target associates with questionable entities.
When Ashton reached his locker, his thumb automatically spun the right combination on the lock. He didn't even have to look.
God, that was so hot.
The massive, door-stop-worthy AP Physics textbook he took out though, was not.
Strike two: Target has questionable academic taste.
Thanks to the two morning spares and an early dismissal, it was only necessary to skip one class today. But it also meant that it was necessary to endure all of Ashton's favorite classes: AP Physics, Organic Chemistry, and Honors Differential Calculus.
The boy was your average B student, but word of mouth said that he took those courses because he… enjoyed them.
Sick, sick, sick.
Target heading toward first class.
007 will report back when resurrected from Classes of Doom.
Praise the lord for big classrooms. It was the middle of AP Physics, and out of over seventy students, surely one would notice my dead body.
Many, of course, had asked what I was doing in this class. I said I was taking notes for Courtney—who shared the same, obscene interests as Ashton, and who was also conveniently sick today.
By conveniently, I meant forcefully. A little bit of the three B's—begging, bribing, and blackmailing—in that order, and it had been as easy as taking prune juice from an elderly home.
I did love it when things went my way.
Ashton sat in the row next to the window, three seats from the back. I was in the very back, one row off. So far, he hadn't committed any heinous crimes against civilization. Like a good student, he was taking notes, with the occasional glance out the window. Only twice did he turn around; once was when he needed to borrow a ruler, the other time was to whisper something to the person next to him. No, it wasn't female.
Was that a good thing or a bad thing?
I didn't know anymore.
Target likes using those 4-color pens, especially the red and black.
Target has habit of drumming only last three fingers against edge of desk.
Target has spectacular shoulders and back muscles. 007 wants to cop a feel and press her naked body against them.
Lalala was right. Never in my life had I ever yearned to get down and do the nasty. If I was going to lose my precious little cherry to anyone, I'd want it to be him. No joke. With absolutely no offense to Ex-boyfriend Number One and Two, Ashton made me want to be a naughty, naughty little girl.
Damn, fell asleep.
Judging by the almost empty classroom and the stream of students coming in for the next class, AP Physics was over.
Target nowhere to be found.
Hypothesis: Headed to next medium of torture – organic chem.
007 status: still alive.
"Excuse me, sorry," I said, stepping through a group of freshmen loitering by the door.
The hallway was trafficking again, as it always was during the five minute break between each class. Lambert Carr High was a big school, but there were over 15,000 students. This was when being short was not advantageous.
Exiting the classroom was not hard. The tricky part was getting through the crowd. Fack, some of these kids walked slower than Grandma Arla. Slooowwwww motion, much? Oh, yes, do stop in the middle of the stairs and shout greetings to your homies that you haven't seen in like, forever.
Just as Room 110 came into sight, the familiar blond head disappeared through the door.
Target can run, but he can't hide. Hehe.
I took a seat in the last row again so that he was four seats away, diagonally.
"You're not in this class."
I grinned. "Hey, Riley. I'm taking notes for Courtney. She came down with a bad cold yesterday." It didn't even sound rehearsed.
The brown-haired boy furrowed his brows. "Didn't she tell you that we have a quiz today?"
"No…" I drew out the 'o' sound. "It seems she forgot that little tidbit."
"Don't worry," Riley said with a sympathetic smile. "If you're quiet, Ratcliff won't even see you. He never checks past the third row."
True that. Mr. Ratcliff was more sightless than all three blind mice combined. And this would be the perfect opportunity to observe Ashton in a test-taking environment. Just imagine if I caught him cheating! Jackpot, baby.
Target is sitting at desk, reviewing notes.
Hot chick walks into room and down target's aisle.
Target looks up and checks out hot chick.
Check-out style: slow once-over.
Hot chick and target make eye-contact and smile at each other.
007 status: in pain.
Said hot chick was Rachel Lee Almon—vice president of the student body and predicted valedictorian. I hated to admit it, but she was so freaking sexy. Not your typical golden-haired beauty, but a dark, ravishing, modelesque gorgeous. Her mom was Korean and her father was some French-German mix. Enough said.
Strike three: possibly promiscuous.
Target's homosexuality: nonexistent.
007 status: torn.
"Books away, everyone. No scientific calculators." Mr. Ratcliff did not speak, he dictated.
As the quiz papers were being passed down, Ashton made a sudden movement. One side of his butt lifted from the chair as he shifted. A look of slight discomfort could be seen from his profile.
Oh, Jesus! I'd recognize those actions anywhere.
I scrambled for the pencil that was already in my hand.
He was going to fart! He was going to f—
Ashton reached under his seat and removed half a pink eraser. Frowning, he placed it on the corner of his desk before returning his attention to the test.
The pea was to the princess as the eraser was to Ashton.
Damn it all to hell! How anticlimactic.
Target: page one of quiz.
007 status: bored.
Notes: target has uneven ears, and an out of place uni-dimple when concentrating.
Target: still page one.
007 status: still bored.
Notes: target has feminine lower lip, profile only.
Target: page two. Progress!
007 status: connecting carbon chains to make swastikas.
Target: done, checking over, tapping foot to muted music
007 status: foaming at the mouth from boredom.
Five more minutes, just five more minutes before this class was over. The only interesting thing that happened was when Ashton sneezed and five people simultaneously chorused 'Bless you.'
Albeit, his sneeze was kind of ugly, but not gross enough to make it strike four. The worst sneezes were ones that sounded mucus-y. Plus, he was clean. He didn't try to wipe his nose with the back of his hand, but instead rummaged through his bag for a small package of Kleenex.
Hygienic men were such a turn on.
Only our school had a ring that sounded like a doorbell. But who really cared? Class was over, and that was the only thing that mattered.
Off to… oh, shiver me timbers—Honors Differential Calculus.
I liked numbers, too. Especially if there were dollar signs attached.
More importantly though, this was the class I would reveal the true Ashton Brody—a lying, slutty, cheapscape dog-kicker. And I would be forever free to focus on my life again. I could prep for SATs without picturing the way he concentrated on math problems, I could take a shower without envisioning his naked body, I could eat without thinking about that mouth of his. In essence, I could live again.
007 status: on the move. Dun dun dun.
Honors Differential Calculus turned out to be problematic. Ashton decided to sit in the back row, which meant there was no way I could observe him from any of the remaining available seats. So, I had no choice but to sit two seats away and pray to God no one would think I had a neck tic.
A tap came from the right.
"Can you pass this down to Ashton?" she asked, handing me a small, folded rectangular note.
"Sure," I said, taking it from her.
Precious, precious. Was she asking him out? A secret rendezvous? Asking him to meet her outside? Asking him to meet her inside? Asking him to do something scandalous? Oral sex? Drugs?
Strike four: possibly an undercover pimp or drug dealer
It gave me a sick sort of scheming satisfaction to know that everyone thought I was perfectly and innocuously normal, and had no idea of the psychotic madwoman that lurked beneath.
Oh, how people trusted me. Katie got up to use the washroom, without even checking to see if the message had been delivered to its proper recipient.
As inconspicuously as I could, I lowered my forehead onto the edge of the desk, hands hidden underneath, un-origami-ing the note. The anticipation was mind-blowing. With quaking fingers, I opened the last fold and feasted on the juicy information.
Swim practice canceled today. Tell Jake and Stevie if you see them. :)
Is this what Hamlet felt like when he echoed the fateful words, "To be, or not to be"? I empathize with thee, dear Hamlet. Let us 'not be' together.
The disappointment was too much. Without even refolding the piece of paper, I handed it leftward.
"It's for Ashton."
Target tests negative for drug abuse.
Target has committed no crime but drink apple juice.
007 quotes from The Wizard of Oz: "I'm melting, melting! What a world, what a world."
The good news was that Calculus was finally over. The bad news was that nothing worth writing down had happened.
Maybe it just wasn't meant to be. The looming sense of failure was draining all the energy out of this 007.
I let out a big, fat, defeated sigh.
Ashton was rising from his seat and heading out of the classroom, probably as eager to get out of class as everyone else.
Like the good little spy that I was, I followed. It would be so much simpler to just get to know him and then have him leak his more uncivilized qualities gradually. But, it was much easier said than done.
I enjoyed talking to people, and I liked to make new friends. But the times I'd come into contact with Ashton… I just couldn't function, speak, or act as I usually would have. It wasn't just about being tongue-tied. See, here was the problem. My sense of humor and sanity signed a pact that whenever Ashton Brody approached within five meters, they would commit temporary suicide.
No, I wasn't kidding.
It never bothered me that a lot of other girls liked to look at him. And really, who could blame them? While they loved to ogle the eye candy though, they didn't pine. A few have tried, but they all gave up in the end because of his rather 'reserved' personality.
Target heading into washroom.
007 status: low-profile and stealthy.
The hallway was surprisingly quiet. There wasn't even a need to camouflage.
Looking once to the right, then to the left, I darted in. It did occur to me at that point that this was going a little too far. But if the bathroom wasn't where people showed their true colors, then I didn't know where else they would. 'Catch them when they are most vulnerable,' as someone famous probably once said.
All of the urinals were empty. By the process of deduction, it seemed Ashton was presently occupying a peach-colored stall, identical to the ones in the girls' washroom. What could be more of a turn off than hearing the person you crushed on take a dump?
Target: last stall.
007: second to last stall.
Could he hear my escalated breathing? My hammering heartbeat? I sure could.
I plopped down on the toilet seat and bolted the lock. It was an awkward position because I had to turn to the left so that he wouldn't see my feet. Not even a gay boy would wear size six grey and pink Puma runners.
His feet, though, were big.
What was that saying again? Big hands, big feet, big—
Was he taking off his clothes?
There was an uncapping sound, and a glop. It was followed by… the sound of skin rubbing together.
I leaned in closer and heard an unmistakable smack smack between the chafing.
What in the heck?
A low groan, and then a quick hiss.
Oh, all that was sacred... he was masturbating!
Masturbating. In a bathroom stall. In school.
I thought I was going to be sick.
Here I was, sitting in the boys' bathroom, listening to the love of my life masturbate in the adjacent stall.
Target caught self-cultivating in bathroom stall at school.
007 status: numb.
Just as I was about to get up and make myself scarce forever, he set something down on the ground.
Oh, lord almighty.
His lube. Sick-o nast—
It didn't quite look like lube—not that I knew what lube looked like—but more like… a prescription.
Pushing my hair away with one hand so that I could peer down, I squinted and read the label.
50 GM Ectosone Regular Cream – Betamethasone Valerate
APPLY TO AFFECTED ECZEMIC AREA(S) TWICE A DAY.
Target caught applying prescription lotion, not lube.
007 feels stupid and relieved, with stupidity outweighing relief.
Mission: up in the air.
Now I didn't quite know if I wanted to find out Ashton's dirty little secrets anymore. Could I handle the trauma?
Location: 1.5km off school grounds.
Target walking in unknown direction, perhaps for lunch.
007 status: wary and weary.
The urban streets were busy, but lively, especially since it was lunch time. Although it made it harder to follow Ashton through the crowds, there was little chance of being discovered.
With a backpack slung over his shoulder, he strolled down Bartholomew Avenue like a true regular. I did love the way he walked. There was an effortless ease about him that commanded the attention of those around him.
He stopped in front of Café Crepe.
Ah, good choice. It was only a five minute walk from school, and probably one of the more popular dining venues for students.
Seating himself at a small, black booth by the wall, he flipped open the menu and began to scan the items.
I crept into the two-person booth diagonal from him.
"Would you like anything to drink?" The waiter, who looked much too old to be working here, stopped in front of my table. But what did I know? Maybe receding hairlines were in.
"Just water, thanks."
It was so tempting to hide behind the laminated gold menu.
007 could not strain ears enough to hear.
"Sorry, can you come back in a few minutes? I'm still deciding," I told the waiter, putting on my best 'there are so many delicious choices, I cannot possibly pick one' face.
To be honest, I really was famished, tired and famished.
After only five hours of stalking, I was ready to conclude that Ashton Brody did not pick his nose, fart, scratch his crotch, burp, or masturbate, in public.
Rather contrary to all that, he was polite, down-to-earth, smart, and a dedicated athlete.
This wouldn't do at all.
It was fifteen minutes before the waiter brought Ashton's order: not one, but two crepes. Judging by the smell and color as the waiter carried it past, they were possibly strawberry, banana, and nutella.
Target has a sweet tooth and a big appetite.
007 status: hungry.
Maybe he was ugly when he ate. Bad table manners were a definite no-no. Having two older brothers, I was very, very familiar with the sight of guys stuffing so much food in at once that parts of it stuck out from their mouths or dribbled down their chin.
But Ashton didn't eat. He reached into his bag and took out a pen. Grabbing a napkin from a dispenser, he began to write.
From the length of it, it seemed to be a phone number? Maybe not. Gah. What was the boy writing?
I surveyed the room for any hot girls that may have caught his attention. There were a few candidates.
However, he didn't approach any of the other tables. What he did do was get up and walk toward the restrooms.
Target partakes in strange behavior.
007 status: about to find out if curiosity did kill the cat.
Discretion was, after all, my middle name. Making sure that he had disappeared, I snuck up to his table. Upon getting closer though, I noticed something odd.
The two plates of crepes were placed facing each other, each with a glass of water to its right.
It was a table set for two.
A date. He was here waiting for a date. Who would eat out alone?
It had been so obvious and I'd missed it.
Target status: dating.
007 status: impending.
If it hadn't been evident before, it was now. There was nothing wrong with Ashton Brody, and there wasn't going to be anything wrong with him no matter how long or how closely I followed him. The longer I stayed, the more I would realize that he was everything I cracked him up to be.
All hail unrequited love. It was time for this 007 to head home.
Just as I was about to leave, the napkin he had been scribbling on caught my eye. It sat in the middle of the table, the handwriting on it clear and neat.
But a phone number it was not. And when I read it, my heart missed a beat.
The message was short, sweet, and simple.