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So Sick of Feeling the Same


Jazz

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so, the girl who never finishes a story is back again, only this time I have the entire story finished so it will be posted. (: title's taken from the song 'when keeping it real goes wrong' by the wonder years. it's pretty good.

things to be mentioned before we begin: I'm posting this chapter from my phone so sorry for any typos; this is a high school au, so by nature it's going to be a little ridiculous; LYK has made fetish!Arthur canon for me, so he's in here. anyway, enjoy! part two will be up in a few days.

-

The day Arthur's life goes from simple and manageable to a nerve wracking mess starts, by all accounts, like any other average Monday. He pulls into the senior parking lot at exactly 7:19 and stops at his locker to drop off his books and his lunch before arriving at his first period AP Psychology class five minutes before the bell is set to ring. He pulls out his notebook and refreshes himself on last week's notes while he waits for class to begin and turns to a clean sheet of paper as his classmates begin to shuffle in, yawning and groaning and sipping tiredly on their coffee.

By the end of class, he's taken nearly four pages of notes on various sleep disorders and he knows a great deal more about enuresis than he ever really wanted to. He walks over to Dom's desk and drops his notebook down in front of him. It's gotten to be habit lately, letting Dom copy his notes. It used to be that he'd take his own notes, but ever since he read about lucid dreaming experiments on Wikipedia (and really, the idea that Dom trusts anything from that website makes him cringe) he hasn't gotten a full night of sleep that hasn't been tainted by 'mind-unlocking music' or white noise. So, instead, he sleeps during first period and Arthur gives him the notes.

Arthur thinks it's stupid, really, but he doesn't really say anything because he's used to it by now. It's just another normal Monday and Arthur has no reason to think it would end up being anything more, so he doesn't. Simple as that.

(In the near future, Arthur will cite this to Ariadne as legitimate proof that the Universe hates him and wants nothing more than to make his life suck. And no, he definitely will not roll his eyes when she makes a comment about him having a flair for dramatics.)

After Dom shoves the notebook in his bag with a promise to have it back to him by the end of the day, he and Arthur leave the classroom and walk to their second period class, Public Speech and Debate. Arthur has a love-hate relationship with that class. And it's mostly his fault, if he's being honest with himself. He tries not to do that too often. It's not the actual class he hates; in fact, he legitimately enjoys the material and most of his friends are in there as well, so he's got people to talk to. He even enjoys Mr. Saito. There's really only one thing he hates and that's –

"Partners," Mr. Saito announces, stepping out from behind his desk and looking around the room. Arthur's face immediately falls and he promptly raises his hand. He'd much rather work on whatever project they're being assigned individually. He's been stuck with partners in the past who'd done little more than drag him (and his grade point average) down, and if at all possible, he'd like to avoid having that happen again.

Mr. Saito looks over at Arthur, and he can swear he sees the faintest of smirks on his teacher's lips as he says, "No, Mr. DeLacey, you may not work alone. A partner is mandatory for this project."

"But—"

"Unless, of course, you'd rather take a zero for the assignment. And I'm sure, Mr. DeLacey, that you don't."

Arthur bristles and pulls his hand down, glancing around as his peers separate off into pairs. He knows that no matter how many times he lets Dom borrow his notes, his friend is always going to work with Mal when given the option. It would be pointless to even ask. He's half tempted to see if Ariadne might want to work with him, but before he can even rise from his seat, she's scampered across the room to Yusuf, the foreign exchange student. If he looks hard enough, he can swear he sees hearts in her eyes. He's heard her wax poetic to him about how wonderful he is countless times at lunch and on the phone, so he knows without a doubt that she'd kill him if he interrupted her opportunity with him. Or maybe kill is too nice. She'd probably mutilate him.

Arthur shudders at the thought. He wonders briefly if he might be able to convince Nash to work with him, but he doubts it's a viable possibility. Last time they'd done a project together, Arthur had said a few, uh, harsh things to him that may or may not have included Nash's inevitable fate as a greasy, uneducated fry cook flipping burgers at McDonalds. Arthur's not exactly proud of that, but in his defense, Nash had all but ruined their presentation. He had it coming.

Before he can consider the fact that he literally has no one else to work with, Arthur realizes that Mr. Saito is pushing someone toward the desk beside his. Of course. While Arthur was busy concerning himself with the fact that he didn't know who to partner up with (and definitely not pouting about the fact that he had to have a partner to begin with), everyone else in the class was splitting up into pairs, finding their friends. By the time Arthur gets around to finding someone new to work with, everyone else has been taken and his partner's already been decided for him. Go figure.

Arthur looks up at the student being guided toward him and nearly chokes. Of all the people he could've possibly been paired with, what were the odds that he would've ended up with –

"Mr. DeLacey, you'll be working with Mr. Eames."

Arthur forces himself to suppress a groan. It isn't that he doesn't like Eames; on the contrary, he sometimes finds himself staring at the other boy from the back of the classroom, watching the way the thin cotton of his t-shirt stretches and strains across the broad muscles of his back, and occasionally he'll find himself thinking of Eames when he's laying in his bed at night with nothing else on his mind. And maybe, sometimes, when Eames happens to wander into his mind with his tight shirts and ripped jeans, Arthur's hand might slip beneath his blanket –

So, no, it's not that he doesn't like Eames. It's more that they're two entirely different kinds of people. Eames, he's broken car parts and Pall Mall Reds, he's college parties and cheap beer. He's everything that everyone wishes their senior year would look like, laid back and fun and reckless. Arthur – well, Arthur's not. And he'd rather leave it at that, thank you very much.

He just doesn't really see how it would work.

But Mr. Saito is obviously convinced that it will and Arthur has no choice but to bite his tongue because Eames is currently sliding into the desk next to his, all languid muscles and nonchalance as he leans back and clears his throat. He smells like cigarettes and orange juice, Arthur notices, and tries not to think about how that could possibly smell good.

"Right then," Eames says as Mr. Saito leaves to go check that everyone else has found a suitable partner, turning to face Arthur with the slightest of crooked smiles playing at his lips. (The same lips that Arthur is decidedly not going to look at while he speaks, so he keeps his eyes locked on the binder on his desk instead.) "Hello, Arthur."

Even though they're in the same grade level and they've shared several classes since Eames transferred to Cobol High during his sophomore year, Arthur's never actually spoken to Eames. And he liked it that way, honestly. Not talking to him meant he wouldn't embarrass himself by saying something stupid or bland. It also meant he could actually focus on his school work during the day instead of fixating on the dark spirals of ink that peeked out from under Eames's shirtsleeve, the subtle curve of his lips as he bit down on the end of his pen. (So, okay, maybe he didn't always focus, but he was maintaining his 4.53 grade-point average and that was all that really mattered.) But that's not the point.

The point is that Arthur has never spoken to Eames before, so he's never actually gotten to hear his name come from those lips. He's never heard his consonants and vowels pulled through that accent until they're thick and sweet and dripping like they're covered in honey. Not until now, that is. And now, with the heat creeping up his neck, Arthur can't decide if he always wants to hear that voice or if he'd rather Eames be mute. Given the current circumstances, he's inclined to lean toward the latter, but that doesn't mean his decision won't change.

(That doesn't mean his decision will even matter, either, because it won't. But Arthur doesn't dwell on that.)

Sometimes, when Arthur gets flustered, he has trouble differentiating between what's alright to say to others and what ends up coming out downright rude. To make matters worse, he tends to be plagued by word vomit, resulting in long, pointed strings of verbose insults and callous remarks that just come spilling from his lips. As much as he tries to keep his composure, he's got to say something, and he's pretty sure his eyes are going to bore a hole into his binder if he keeps staring at it so hard.

"Look," Arthur says flatly, eyes still locked on the binder, "I want you to know now that I have every intention of winning this debate and I plan to do so with or without you." He can see Eames raising an eyebrow curiously out of his peripheral and he swallows hard, continuing. "That's not to say I wouldn't like your help, because on the contrary, things would be significantly easier if we could split the workload, but I'm not going to –"

Really, Arthur could've kept going, and lord knows (or, okay, no, if anybody would know, it'd be Ariadne) he could've fit in several more unintentionally cold jabs at Eames and his work ethic (that, if he took a moment to pause and consider, he would realize he actually knows nothing about). But he doesn't keep going, because he's cut off by Eames. But he's not talking. Rather, he's –

"Hh- heh'gshx!"

Arthur sucks in a sharp, quiet breath and presses his lips into a thin line, chancing a glance up from his binder to look over at Eames. Save for the way he's scrunching up his nose a bit (which Arthur definitely does not think is endearing, not one bit), the other boy is still. His eyebrows are knitted and he's got an expectant look on his face, laced slightly with annoyance. And then, much to Arthur's – what, horror? pleasure? disbelief? – Eames tilts his head back, blinking up at the bright fluorescent ceiling lights. As much as he wants to look away (because he's sure he's staring, even if Eames hasn't noticed, and that's embarrassing), Arthur is fixated on Eames. He watches the harsh rise of Eames's chest as his breath hitches, the way his eyes slowly close.

"Ih- hheh! Heh- eh'gssh!" Eames bends forward a bit, turning his head away from Arthur and directing the sneeze into the crook of his elbow. Then he straightens, offers Arthur another crooked grin, and apologizes. Arthur, to his credit, looks away as quickly as he can. He thinks he might've given himself whiplash, but he's not quite certain.

"Sorry, Arthur," Eames says, rubbing lightly at his nose with the side of his hand. "Didn't mean to interrupt you. But on any account, you shouldn't worry your pretty little head about getting the project done. I assure you I'm perfectly capable of doing research, creating a thesis and the like." He smiles again, and Arthur's still (more than) a little tense. He's not sure he's ever looked so closely at his binder before, and rather than acknowledge the fact that Eames feels the need to defend himself in front of Arthur, he wonders instead how the top left corner got dented and whether or not he can fix it.

Eames stares at Arthur expectantly, waiting for some sort of response. Arthur can feel his eyes surveying him, and he thinks briefly that this must be what his binder feels like. It's more than a little unnerving. Assuming Eames won't break his gaze unless he says anything, Arthur speaks. "Class is almost over," he deadpans.

Class is almost over? Really? Arthur wants to shoot himself. Or maybe Eames, for the way he keeps sniffling and scrunching up his nose. Or maybe even Mr. Saito, because really, he's the reason that Arthur even has to work with Eames to begin with. He could've very easily done an independent project and garnered the same score, if not a higher one.

Eames furrows his brows at Arthur for a moment like he's perplexed, but the expression fades as quickly as it had come about. "That it is," he agrees, pressing his lips together and nodding his head slowly. He must take it as his cue to be dismissed - and really, Arthur needs to brush up on his social skills and stop being so nervous – because he slips his dilapidated notebook into his bag and tosses it over one arm. He starts toward the other side of the room.

"Eames, wait!" Arthur says quickly, and Eames freezes on the spot, turning to look at him.

"Yes, Arthur?"

"We should – we need to meet up after school to work on the project if we want to get everything done," he says, and he does his best to keep any trace of hesitance out of his voice. Eames nods, slipping his hand around the gray nylon strap of his book bag. Arthur takes it as his cue to proceed. And because Arthur is Arthur, and he has a preference for familiarity, especially in a situation like this one, he asks Eames to come over his house.

"I can do that," Eames says, and then pauses, a slight frown playing at the corners of his lips. "I can't be there until around 5:30, though, is that alright? I've football practice until then, and I can't really afford to miss a day," he explains.

"Football is a fall sport," Arthur says, managing to procure another crooked grin and a laugh from Eames. He doesn't really understand what's funny, why Eames is laughing, and for a second he's worried he's gone and said something stupid.

"No, no, I'm not talking about your kind of football, pet," he says, and even though he runs a hand over his face like he's exasperated, he's still smiling. "Quite frankly, I don't think that should be called football at all. You use your hands for the majority of the game." He chuckles, the corners of his lips upturned. "I've soccer practice as far as you're concerned, I suppose."

Arthur feels all his blood rush to his face at Eames' explanation, tinting his cheeks and the tips of his ears pink. Oh. Soccer. That makes sense. He presses his lips together and tries not to think about how dumb he must've sounded for not realizing that Eames was talking about soccer.

"So, I'll see you around 5:30 then, yeah?" Eames asks, and really, Arthur's convinced Eames must think he's a bit slow. He's hardly spoken at all the entire time they've been talking, and when he actually did talk he managed to make an ass of himself (both times). The irony of it all is that Arthur isn't slow, he's actually the top candidate for valedictorian and a member of the National Honor Society, thank you very much. He shouldn't be having this much trouble talking to one person.

"Yeah," Arthur says with a nod, exhaling slowly to regain his composure (and maybe a little bit of dignity) and half-smiling at Eames as he shoves his binder into his bag. He writes his address down on a scrap piece of paper and pauses for a moment, trying to decide if he should write his number beneath it as well. In case, y'know, Eames gets lost or needs directions to his house or something.

After a few seconds' hesitation, he decides against it and ends up thrusting the scrap of paper in Eames's direction. He really just wishes this class would be over. Once he's in AP Calculus, he'll be able to focus on polynomial approximations and geometric series instead of thinking about the fact that in about seven hours, Eames is going to be over his house. In his bedroom. Working on a project with him.

"Thanks," Eames says, smiling briefly as he tucks the slip of paper in his pocket. "Catch you later, Arthur," he adds with a small wave before turning on his heels and heading toward the other half of the room where Yusuf is gesturing animatedly with his hands and Ariadne is giggling up a storm. Arthur watches as Eames claps Yusuf on the back, chuckling about whatever it is that he's saying as he takes a seat on the tabletop next to Ariadne.

A few minutes later, Arthur's finally walking toward his locker (and away from that godforsaken classroom) when he hears the echo of another sneeze carry down the hall, followed by quiet laughter. He recognizes the laugh as belonging to Eames and he sighs, closing the door to his locker and pressing his forehead against the cold metal. "God," he mutters, hoisting the strap of his messenger bag over his shoulder and starting down the hall again. "This sucks."

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THIS. IS. AWESOME!

You just took some of my favorite characters ever and stuck them in high school. Which is where I like them. Because that's where I am. :bleh:

Seriously though, I love your writing. It's just descriptive enough without being over-descriptive and you totally get into the characters' heads. It's really and truly great.

More soon, I hope?

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YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! SO MUCH YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Mmmmm... How I've missed these two. You're exceptionally good at capturing the High School dynamic. And your spellings are unbelievable. I can literally hear the sneezes in my head. I like that EVERYONE is in this, it's so cute! Arthur and Eames are adorable. Eagerly awaiting the next installment! Thank you.

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Oh please yes SO MUCH EXCITE :D <-- what went through my head when I logged on.

Right now I'm loving Eames' syntax and diction -- his voice is just delicious and you write it so well! Also I adore academia AUs so this is pushing my buttons, oh yes... I'm also squeeing over Arthur's mindset, so Arthur ^^

I'm on tenterhooks for the next installation! Thank you for writing and sharing <3

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drool.gif Why must I be tortured so? This is AWESOME!!! GAHHH!! Need more SOON!!!!
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