"You don't know what it's like to be me."
Those words ran circles around Cameron's brain, taunting him.
"You don't know what demons I face every time I close my eyes."
The entire room was warm, and it smelled of sweat and nervousness.
"You don't know…and, trust me, you never will."
Behind his eyelids, Cameron saw the flash of her molten jade eyes, and it was that which brought him back to the present; slouched in his chair, his spine pressed uncomfortably against the curved plastic. His now-open eyes roamed over the room – over the bent heads and hunched shoulders of his classmates – mentally scoffing at the other teenagers. Cameron was widely considered a "teacher's pet", but that couldn't be further from the truth. Cameron despised teachers. He was simply smart, and good at charming people.
Then, his eyes stopped as they landed on someone. Or, rather, two someones.
Dante Johnson and Vanellope Hansen.
Dante was sitting with his head tipped back slightly – which was only a guise for the fact that his eyes were fixated in a reveling way on Vanellope. The raven-haired girl had her elbows propped up on her desk, and her chin resting on her knuckles. Her eyes were closed.
You don't know what demons I face every time I close my eyes. Was she facing those demons now? Was she battling inside herself, fighting against the horrors that lurked in her own mind?
Her relaxed posture would say no, but the flinch she so evidently gave said yes. Cameron's eyebrows drew together over his silver eyes. True, he didn't know, but he wanted so much to know. He wanted to know what went on inside her head. He wanted to understand who she was, what she was.
Just then, the girl behind Dante – a rather popular girl, by the name of Cain – hissed out his name, and he dropped his head back to stare at her. Cameron's left eyebrow twitched.
Cameron had always found Dante to be arrogant and aloof; thinking of himself as better than everyone else. He chose to be separate from everyone, but unlike most secluded people his separation seemed to stem from arrogance and a state of mind of being better than his peers. It annoyed the hell out of Cameron.
As always, time seemed to pass much more quickly when Cameron was lost in his thoughts, because a moment later the loud, high-pitched bell rang and brought him back to the present, wincing. Geez. They really need to fix that goddamn bell.
Standing, Cameron gathered up his papers and pencils, carelessly dumping them in his backpack with a sweep of his arm. Looking up, he spotted Dante walking out of the class, smiling, following Vanellope like some lovesick puppy. Disgusting.
Sighing, Cameron hoisted his bag onto his shoulder, and pushed his chair firmly against the desk. He was just setting a foot outside the class when he felt a nail tap him on the shoulder, and sensed someone behind him. He continued walking until he was out of the way of the other students – as much as he hated them, he had to keep up appearances, didn't he? – and turned on his heel to face Cain. Here we go.
Cameron knew that Cain must've been a nice girl for all these people to like her, but it was hard for him to see the good in anyone. It was hard for him to see anything in anyone.
That was one of the peculiar things about Cameron. He was a sociopath. He felt no remorse, no regret, no sadness, and no love. He didn't care for all these stupid high school student or their petty problems. They were only in his way.
"Yes, Cain?" He kept his voice neutral – having to force a degree of contempt out of his voice. Really, the only girl he would ever care to spend time talking to was Vanellope. And really, he needed to hurry this up. I have to get to class – if I don't get there on time, what kind of teacher's pet would I be? His lips quirked up in a smirk at the irony of it all.
Cain's one red eye glared at him from underneath a sparse curtain of black bangs. She had her hands set firmly on her hips, which were cocked off to one side. For a few moments, all she did was squint at him, and Cameron was quick to wipe the smirk off his face.
"You've talked to Vanellope before, right?" Now, this, Cameron thought, was an extremely odd turn of events.
If Cameron's suspicions were correct(and they normally were) then Cain was the one who had started all of those rumors about Vanellope being some kind of otherworldly being. She seemed to harbor nothing but hatred for the other girl. Cameron could sympathize with that.
"Yes, a couple of times." Again, Cameron practically fought an internal battle to keep his tone even. "Why does it matter?" Cain scoffed, and tossed some of her long hair over her shoulder. Of course, Cain was also very smart, but her intense feelings sometimes got in the way of that. As was the case of a lot of teenagers now.
"I want to know what's so damn interesting about her. Why is Dante following her around like that?" Ah. So that was it.
"I wouldn't know. She's interesting, but not that interesting." A lie.
"Huh. Doesn't seem that way. Everyone's been staring at her." Jealousy is an ugly thing.
"Maybe they're just curious. She is new, after all." Goddammit, just leave me alone.
Thankfully, this seemed to appease Cain, for her posture relaxed and she leaned back on her heels, crossing her arms, pondering. "Yeah, I guess that makes sense." She flashed a dazzling smile. "Thanks, Cameron. You're a peach." She ruffled his hair with one lean hand, and Cameron had to force down the overpowering urge to slap her hand and snap at her. Holy shit, go away.
With a curt nod, Cameron turned and hurried down the hall, ignoring the elbows that bumped him and the backpacks that slapped his stomach. He made it to his next class – English Language Arts – just in time with the bell and his teacher, Ms. Pace, nodded approvingly at him.
As he slid into his seat(right at the front, naturally) Cameron was well aware that he would have to speak to Vanellope sometime soon. He had to beat Dante to the punch – or better yet, nip it in the bud and get rid of his obsession with her once and for all. That would definitely put his mind at ease.
"Vanellope." She didn't say anything. She didn't even look up. Cameron frowned, and shifted his weight, a little off-put by this. Then, slowly, she raised one pale finger, her eyes never leaving the slightly yellowed pages of her black book. Forcing himself to relax a little, Cameron rocked back on his heels, hands folded behind him.
He had set his bag at his feet, letting it rest against his calf, and he was uncomfortably aware of what was in it – several papers ripped from Dante's messy binder when the boy hadn't been looking. Cameron had done this mainly to better familiarize himself with his opponent(as he saw it) but also to see if Dante really was just a lovesick loser and had been scrawling little notes about Vanellope here and there. He hadn't.
Vanellope looked up, and gently set a black velvet bookmark in the book, covering some of the written words. She was skillfully curled in a way that nothing was showing from underneath the leather dress she wore, and her slim legs were tucked against her chest.
"Yes, Cameron?" she asked, shifting so she was a little more upright, and Cameron couldn't help but notice that they way she moved was…so graceful. A little mystical, almost. As silly as that sounds.
"I wanted to ask you about…" Cameron trailed off, and for the second time that day his eyebrows knitted together in a deep frown. Vanellope's eyes were far-off, distant and…dreamy.
Oh, God no.
Cameron spotted Dante across the library, smiling to himself as he slid into one of the computer chairs.
His gaze returned to Vanellope, who hadn't even noticed his silence; too caught up in her own thoughts.
"I have to go." Swiftly scooping up his stuff, Cameron threw his backpack over his shoulder and whirled, accidentally knocking his foot against Vanellope's leg. She might have said something, but the blood was rushing in Cameron's ears, and his heart was pounding.
He already got to her.
Dante must have talked to Vanellope, and something…something had changed. In both of them. For one, Dante never smiled.
For two, Vanellope was never far away. She was always alert and active, watching the way others proceeded very carefully.
Cameron was too late.
Well, Dante. I guess this means war. You don't deserve her. You don't deserve anyone! I will beat you. No matter what. No matter what!