Early part of backstory for my drama whore OC, Gillian Kruger. Mostly a bunch of selfish, whiny high school kids bitching at each other, committing acts of violence, exaggerating all their feelings, and generally being asswipes. Please bear in mind that Ms. Kruger is a highly unreliable narrator, who views the world through glasses as jade-colored as a naively cynical little middle-class brat can find.

I wrote this as a single short story and split it up into small chapters for easier reading. Contains near-illiterate levels of swearing; my disingenuous apologies to you all on Jill's equally ambivalent/disdainful behalf. Also, because I am a geeky little fellow, pop culture references everywhere. Not entirely sure on time scheme. Story ends around 2007/2008 or so, which I guess means it begins around 2005/2006. Huh.

Happy belated Valentine's Day. Let's pretend I actually posted this when I wrote it.

000

"Visualize Whirled Peas"

Chapter 1

When you're in high school, it's really awesome to be The Badass.

You know who that is – it's the guy or girl with the style you're too afraid to pull off, who listens to all the music you're afraid to say you like because it's just so rough, you know, and you're not nearly hardcore enough. The Badass is a loner, cold and quiet and scary because they've built themselves this way. They make it look effortless.

Badasses don't have many friends. Their douchetastic mannerisms would lead one to believe they have no friends at all, but having no friends is too romantic and uncomplicated of a notion. It implies that people are unable to accept or understand just what makes the badass a badass, unable to get over their fears and meet this person on their own ground. In truth, it's usually the other way around, but that would infer in turn that this veritable god or goddess of coolness is the douche in the wrong rather than the one wronged.

There's always somebody underneath the douche, and there's always someone who thinks they're good enough or patient enough or special enough to see who that person is, even though the badass has dedicated their life to making sure nobody gets to see it. Being genuine is too simple and too transparent and not awesome enough. Being genuine means giving up on being special, giving up on everything clung to in lieu of being horribly, deplorably, ignorably normal.

Gillian Kruger did not start out as a badass.

000

She started out flagging down Jude Montgomery's SUV as his dad took him home from lacrosse practice. The right middle window rolled down, and he regarded her with his patent lazy stare that most people thought was rude. Gillian felt privileged to know it wasn't. "Hey, no more hair." He said. "Where's Ms. Travers?" The Kruger family friend was usually the one to pick her up.

A pause. Consideration. "She's late."

"Is your mom coming instead or something?"

She shifted the bag's weight on her back and thumped the head of her bat down on the asphalt next to her red-dusted cleats. It pinged softly. The air smelled like weeds and sun, full of the sound of aluminum bats striking softballs three fields over. "She's also late. And Dad's still at work."

"Huh. Well, we can give you a ride."

Gillian nodded and climbed in.

"Dude, you look kinda pissed." He looked out the back window as the Suburban pulled away, and pointed at another vehicle entering the parking lot from the far side. "Hey, isn't that her right there?"

She knew there was only one person in the world who owned a bright orange Jeep with that many bumper stickers on it. "No. Can I stay over tonight?"

Jude stopped looking and turned back around in his seat. "Sure. You left a sock last time." He handed her one of his earbuds, which she screwed into her left ear, and they said nothing else for the rest of the drive while the open window blasted air and road noise into their faces.

Gillian liked that. It was much better than Cassandra's whiny, patronizing questions.

She'd fouled six times the last time she was up at bat, and her hands had started to shake.

"Are you sure you're okay? You looked so sad today. What did you do to your hair? Oh my gosh, are you crying?" Cassandra placed a hand on her shoulder, the way she always would, the way people always did. It was a friendly thing, Gillian knew inside, but knowing could not stop the flare-up of unexplained disgust and panic. The sympathy crawled in her gut like sentient raw chicken.

"Get the fuck off me," she said abruptly. The stricken look on Cass's face didn't register properly. Gillian knew what it meant; she knew she should feel some remorse about it. She didn't. It was beautiful. "Don't touch me." She stood quickly enough to toss the other girl off balance, and shoved her wrist away so hard that bruises were left for a week from where it rebounded off the dugout chain link.

Coach Cox called Ms. Travers and her mother.

Gillian told him to go fuck himself, flung the dugout door open, and made to dramatically flee the scene. The impact was ruined when he caught up to her halfway to the lacrosse field and she was crying too hard to tell him anything else insulting when he handed over her bat and bag she'd forgotten.

She thought about Dad while she woodenly accepted the coach's awkward, clueless Hug of Dubious Comfort. His daughter Jordan, the team's catcher and auxiliary pitcher, had half-tailed him to see what was up, and Gillian wanted to punch her when the half-audible "What's going on? Is she crying? Did she get hurt?" drifts over to her. She'd never really punched anyone before.

She was pretty sure she could learn.

Gillian had stopped crying by the time the Suburban pulled up, and vowed she would never cry again, but all the purpose it served in future days was to make her feel like a huge pussy every time she cried after.

000