A/N: Part of a cutsey-tootsie mini series of oneshots I'll be doing. Kinda started with "Biology" and spiraled out of control! Stay tuned for Chemistry sometime soon.
"Hi," she said, shoving her hand in his. He was tall—taller then her—and had a mop of sandy blond hair that constantly fell in his eyes. She was tiny—he could hardly believe she was in high school—but he was already getting the feeling that her personality would make up for what she lacked in build.
"Oh, um, hey," he said distractedly, ruffling his hair and blinking rapidly, trying to clear his head. His eyes—a crystalline green—were hazy and troubled. She smiled winningly, delicately removed her hand, and unassumingly held his gaze.
"Leigh," was her only response, and she looked at him expectantly.
"Teddy," he murmured, fully bewildered now. "I—um, I've got—" he didn't quite know how he was going to do, but it didn't matter. Apparently, she did.
"Yeah, same here," she turned, hair flying around to pool over her shoulders, and walked off down the hall. Teddy blinked again, bewildered.
"Hi," she said. It was her again, and she had her hand out.
"Hey," he mumbled, excruciatingly aware of how rumpled his hair and clothes were. He took her proffered hand, almost forgetting to shake it, admiring the way her hair fell around her face.
"Leigh," she said, just like last time, moving her hand up and down slowly. He almost snapped an irritated "I know," but then wondered if perhaps she had forgotten his name. Somehow that thought both annoyed and frustrated him, so he replied.
"Teddy." Her eyes twinkled—they were a deep, chocolatey sort of brown—and a small smile curved at the corner of her lips.
"I know." Was she laughing at him? "I just wanted to be sure you did, too."
"Know what? My name?" She was an enigma, this girl. With her soft brown hair and eyes, you were deceived in to thinking she was sweet and normal. Teddy shook his head, mussing his hair.
"No," she said slowly, drawing out the syllable. "Mine." She flashed him a smile. "My favorite color is green." He stared at her for a minute, trying to digest the eccentricity of this human.
"That's odd," he remarked finally, cocking his head. "That's the color of my eyes."
"So it would seem," she replied complacently.
"My favorite color is brown," he volunteered.
"How interesting," she said, and he was surprised she did not add that, in fact, it was the color of her eyes. She turned to leave.
"That's the color of your eyes, you know." It seemed important to him that she was aware of this.
"I'm aware," she said, and he was left, bewildered once again.
She was in his math class. Leigh. The name tasted funny on his tongue, like a sour candy that made you pucker your lips, but was sweet once you got to the core. He began to watch her. Traditionally, he had always sat vaguely in the middle of the room—neither one of the uninterested students who goofed off in the back, nor one of the crazed intellectuals up front.
Strangely, although Leigh was front row, sitting neatly with her feet tucked under her chair and the tip of the pencil resting against her lip, he wouldn't really have placed her with the rest of the nerds. Although she was definitely, absolutely, certainly crazed, he admitted to himself.
Her hair was shiny and hung around her in a curtain, held back by a thin purple headband that unassumingly matched her sweater. It was an oddly childish gesture, but sort of sweet in a heartbreaking way. He found himself noticing, almost inadvertently, the way the slight curls that escaped the band fell around the side of her head, and he imagined that they framed her petite face, highlighting her eyes.
Purple, he inferred, was probably her favorite color. Why else would she own a matching headband for her sweater?
True to assumption, he never again saw a match as perfect, although there were certainly more headbands, clips, and pins to be observed. Leigh never wore her hair in a ponytail, though. She wasn't in his gym class but he wondered if she would tie it up then. Why did she never wear it up normally? Maybe she was one of those crazy girls who thought their hair was their best feature? But somehow he couldn't quite picture Leigh itemizing her best features in her free time.
It was a Thursday when he finally discovered the answer to what had become a consuming mystery. She was walking towards math class, coming from the English wing (he had long ago basically figured out her schedule based on the directions she headed before and after math class, and then lunch,) and staring in to space, vaguely moving around people with the grace of someone who had taken ballet for many years.
Absently, hoisting her backpack up so that it settled more comfortably on her shoulders, she peeled a nice tendril of hair from her shoulder and promptly stuck it in her mouth, chewing vigorously.
Teddy laughed until she looked up and smiled brilliantly at him, and which point he was rather glad to go in to class and collapse in to his desk, for his knees had abruptly refused to hold his weight for much longer.
Teddy was exhausted. The day had been long, classes hard, and his history test particularly brutal. His bag was heavy, and the chain on his bike was broken, so it looked like he was walking the two miles home.
"Hi," said a familiar voice, and he was torn between the urge to groan and the rush of adrenaline to his stomach. Leigh pedaled up to him, perched on a bright purple bicycle.
He settled on a neutral "hey."
"Where do you live?" She asked him curiously, slowing her pedaling to match his trudging.
"Elm Street," he replied tiredly. "My bike broke," he offered in explanation to her curious look.
"I live on Glen Street," she said. "It's around there." Suddenly, she smiled mischievously. "You can ride on my handlebars, if you like."
He looked at her for a minute, resisting the urge to drop his jaw and gape at her. It was the most ridiculous suggestion he had ever heard. She was about 5'2", and probably weighed under a hundred pounds. He was over 6 feet, and had no idea how much he weighed, although he was sure it was somewhere up there.
He settled on a barking laugh. "How about I ride, and you handlebar it?" He asked, looking her up and down. She simply smiled.
"This train is leaving. Hop on or be left behind!" He stared at her. Finally giving in, he handed her his bag—"oof ! What the heck do you have in here?"—and looked back at her.
"Ready," she chirruped, and pedaled forward. He hopped on, closing his eyes and praying to all deities above that he survived.
After the first few wobbly minutes of heart-stopping terror, things went surprisingly smoothly. He clung to the rubber grips with white knuckles, but after a few minutes the terror became the last thing on his mind.
His hands were practically on top of Leigh's, and he could feel their firm grip and soft warmth. With each pedal he felt the bike surge beneath him, and was uncomfortably aware of her sweet smelling head somewhere in the vicinity of the small of his back.
"So…" he said finally, in an awkward attempt to break the silence. He could almost feel her smiling behind him.
"Left here, right?" She asked quickly.
"Yeah. You lived here awhile?"
"Nope. Military brat—just got here." He blinked. He had trouble picturing cheerful Leigh, with her laughing eyes and large smile, as the daughter of a strict military household.
"My dad's a banker," he said. "Not as interesting."
"I'd much rather be boring," she replied, and it felt oddly confidential. "It's hard, moving a lot."
"But you're here to stay, right?" He asked, suddenly feeling a desperate need for her constant, annoying, awkward, funny presence.
"No," she said, slowly, sadly. "Probably not." He didn't really know how to reply. Why had she gone to effort of making a friend, if only to never see them again? He hung his head.
"Here's your street," she said, slowing. Then, giggling, she shoved him playfully off the handlebars. He stumbled, catching himself, and turned to give her a mock glare.
"You'd better hope you're not ticklish," he said, advancing. She laughed. Hopping off her bike, she threw her arms around his neck.
"Don't forget my name," she whispered in his ear, and pedaled off. He stared at her, bewildered. She didn't come to school the next day, and he realized that math class had become oddly dull without her perched on the edge of her seat in the front row.
Her family had moved again, he found out later.
Teddy's feet dragged. He really wasn't feeling up to this debate right now. But the Harvard/Yale rivalry had to be honored, and so, crimson tie in place, he casually strolled in to the debate room to quickly go over the case with his partner.
The Yale team was already there, too, dressed mostly in trim blue. Halfway across the room, partner in sight, he nearly keeled over when a hauntingly familiar voice reached his ears.
"Hi," someone said. He whipped around. There she stood—absolutely unchanged, it seemed—hand extended. He'd tried not to think of her much since that bike ride, five years ago now. His heart abruptly beat double time, and he felt his pulse accelerating.
"Hi," he replied, and ruffled his hair. He still felt inadequate next to her, as if he had forgotten to button the tip button of his shirt—which he had—or comb his hair. Her hand was extended, and he grabbed it eagerly.
"Leigh," she said, and he tightened his grip on her hand, pulling her in to his arms.
"Teddy," he whispered in to the intoxicating mixture of her hair and skin. He felt her relax against him, and hugged her closer. "I didn't forget," it seemed necessary to say.
"I know," she said, pulling out of the embrace. "I just wanted to be sure." Her hair was slightly rumpled from being abruptly crushed to his chest, and he felt as though he should apologize for grabbing her. Instead, he grinned.
Her hair was delicately pulled away from her face in a low ponytail, but his hug had dislodged a few creeping wisps.
"I like your hair that way."
Her answering smile, in Teddy's book, could have rivaled the chandelier for wattage. "I finally broke my bad habit," she trilled.
"I owe you a ride on my handlebars, one of these days." She actually laughed at that—the beautiful, bell-like laugh her remembered so well—and turned.
"Sometime soon," she promised, and wriggled back in to his arms.