|Of Dances and Decathlon's
Author: StBu PM
Sam and Laura are attracted to each other but neither has the guts to say anything - so their friends decide to give them some helpful prodding. Includes characters and Decathlon plot but not storm, slightly AU SAMXLAURA. Please R and R! Rating may changeRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 5 - Words: 10,575 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 01-27-08 - Published: 01-19-08 - id: 4020344
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sam glanced up from where he was doodling on the back of his calculus test to check the time. He sighed in boredom – there were still ten minutes to go, and he had already suffered idly through fifteen. Calculus tests were the worst.
He stole a glance at Laura and saw that she was steadily working her way through the second last question. Her hand writing was neat and efficient but had a slight flourish that he thought added her essential Laura-ness to it. I definitely spend too much time watching her if I'm starting to personify her writing, he mused. Laura appeared to feel him watching her and quirked an eyebrow at him. When she saw he had finished she rolled his eyes and he grinned sheepishly back at her before she returned her attention to her paper.
It had been just under two weeks since their study session and in that time they had begun to develop a casual friendship; Sam was definitely more comfortable talking to her now and couldn't wait for calculus everyday so he had a good excuse to see her. He liked to think that she found this agreeable as well. The unwelcome scene with her sister had definitely broken the ice on their situation, though they had avoided that and other serious topics in favor of light chit-chat.
Thinking about how Melody treated Laura still shocked him. Not having any siblings himself he couldn't personally compare but he had never heard of anyone having this bad a relationship with their sister. He had a suspicion that something had happened years ago that their relationship had never recovered from. Having Melody and her friends try and seduce him had confused and panicked him enough, but when he saw Laura in the doorway he had felt a surge of understanding and clarity (something he rarely experienced when Laura was in the vicinity), followed by anger and protectiveness. He had never seen someone look so beaten down and dejected in such a short period of time. He knew that he had been rough with Melody, but even though he was raised to believe women should never be manhandled he also knew that she deserved it.
What had shocked him the most was that Laura seemed to think that she was worth less than her trampy older sister. For a person he had always admired as being intelligent, confident and beautiful this was mind-boggling.
His mind was pulled back to the present by the shrill call of the bell, signaling the end of the lesson. The class let out a collective sigh of relief as they passed their paper's to the front of the room and gathered their books to leave.
"How long did that take you?" Laura smiled at him as they walked into to the already crowded corridor.
Sam shrugged and replied "Long enough."
Laura laughed. "You can tell me – I won't tease you or anything."
"Um… twenty-five minutes." Sam admitted.
Laura shook her head in wonder. "That's crazy! You do nothing in class and then zip through the test in no time while the rest of us stress out and barely finish."
Sam scratched his neck, slightly embarrassed by the praise. Truth be told he had found that test harder than usual, having spent the past two weeks of calculus lessons focused on Laura. He had to go to History anyway, so he instead said "I'll see you this afternoon," and walked away.
Laura watched the clock tick through the last agonizing minute of the last lesson of the day. She couldn't wait to spend some extra time with Sam outside of school, where she could let her hair down – while getting some studying done, of course. She just thanked God that they were studying over at Brian's place this time; she shuddered at the thought of having Sam in her house again after what Melody had tried.
While she hated Melody for doing it, Laura felt an odd sort of liberation from her sister's shadow because of the way things had turned out. Having being hurt twice before in the same way, Laura knew she had been harboring the fear that – if she and Sam ever got together – he would do the same thing. She knew that losing him in that way would be twice as bad as losing any other guy and she didn't know how she would handle that – she realised after the fact that this was one of the things causing her to shy away from starting a real relationship with him.
The bell sounded and Laura hurried to get her things and meet Sam and Brian at the carpark- they were both already there waiting. The three of them climbed into Brian's car and drove to his house, which was neat and tidy but smaller and significantly less expensive looking than Laura's. It had an air of family warmth that made her feel instantly comfortable.
Since they were all supposed to have been studying for two weeks, they decided to use tonight as a quiz night. Each person would take a turn to quiz the other two on whatever topic they wanted. They managed to get most questions correct and Laura was pretty happy with their preparation. She could really feel the enthusiasm in the room, and though Sam, being less competitive, was more subdued than her and Brian, she could tell he was happy joking around and laughing as a team. She couldn't have asked for better teammates; it was all coming together.
Brian congratulated himself – he didn't know what had happened between Laura and Sam that had made them more comfortable around each other, but he did know it happened at the study session and therefore could be credited to him. It was almost too easy.
Granted, they weren't exactly holding hands and finishing each others sentences, but he thought it was definitely a step in right direction. His only worry was that they would fall into the 'we're just friends' trap and stay there, too afraid to be honest about how they felt.
New York was in two days time, and this was exiting to Sam for a number of reasons. Firstly he had never been to New York before and had always wanted to go – the fast-paced, grimy big-city culture had always fascinated him. Secondly, and more importantly, the trip wasn't just the competition but included the visitors bunking with students at Pinehurst academy (the school that was hosting the first round) and a day of sight seeing. Which meant spending time with Laura away from the nonsense of school and family – especially family.
There was only one obstacle between Sam and New York – his fear of flying.
Sam opened his tenth packet of peanuts and started nervously throwing them into his mouth – eating peanuts was the only thing that kept him sane while in the air. They had been in the air for half an hour but to Sam it felt like hours had passed.
Sam had the seat closest to the isle, Laura sat in the middle and Brian sat nearest the window. Both Laura and Brian seemed unaffected by the fact that they were hurtling along at 250m/s, thousands of feet above the ground (it was times like these that Sam cursed his good memory and active imagination); they were happily absorbed in rereading their study notes.
"You alright?" Sam glanced up to find Laura smiling slightly at him, eye brows raised.
Sam didn't feel like admitting to the girl he was falling in love with that he was scared out of his wits, so he kept his mouth shut and nodded back, then returned to his peanuts.
"He's afraid of flying," came Brian's voice from the window seat. Sam shot him a dirty. Memo to self – kill Brian at the earliest convenient time.
"I'm fine," he insisted, then unconsciously threw another handful of nuts into his mouth.
Ding. Sam looked up to find the 'FASTEN SEAT BELT' sign blinking down at him; the words 'LIFE VEST UNDER YOUR SEAT' appeared ominously below it. Sam could feel the first signs of panic begin to settle in.
"You know statistically, the chances of a plane going down because of turbulence it less than what, one in a billion?" Brian had always had a habit of sprouting unhelpful facts at the wrong time. Sam felt his breathing begin to constrict. "Or is it a million? I can't remember if it's a million or a–"
"Shut up Brian." Sam felt Laura lean closer to him and say reassuringly, "Listen Sam; don't pay attention to him okay? Everything's fine; they're still serving drinks," she added to illustrate her point. Sam nodded at the head rest in front of him. Hearing Laura's voice was soothing and he swallowed, pushing down his fear. He might have succeeded if at that moment a stewardess hadn't hurried down the isle and motioned for her drink serving colleagues to go back to their seats. The plane started to shake.
"Folks, it seems were going to have a bit of a bumpy ride here for the next few minutes," the captains voice sounded over the intercom. "We ask that you please fasten your seat belts and put your tray tables and seat backs in their upright positions until we get through this, thank you." He sounded hurried and the plane jerked suddenly, surprising the passengers and causing some to call out in alarm. Sam heard someone yell "Grab it!" and looked down the isle only to narrowly avoid being decapitated by a runaway drink trolley.
The cabin began shaking and jerking gut-wrenchingly and Sam pushed himself back against his seat, muscles tensed. He couldn't breathe and grabbed the armrest next to him in total panic, squeezing tightly. Stupidly glancing out the window he saw the wing looking so unsteady that he was sure it would snap off at any second. Not good.
Bags began falling from the overhead lockers; one hit Sam on the shoulder and he looked around in wild alarm.
It was over as soon as it had begun; the cabin steadied and the flight crew started picking up loose luggage. Sam still sat tensely; bolt upright in his seat, his breathing coming in shallow gasps and his heart thumping. His mind was frozen with shock.
"Sam?" Laura's voice cut through the miasma in his head; he started and looked at her in confusion. Her eyes dropped to the armrest between them and then flicked back up at him. "Can I have my hand back?"
Sam's eyes traveled to where his hand gripped the armrest, or more accurately, to where he had Laura's hand pinned fiercely between his hand and the armrest. He let go in embarrassment and she flexed her fingers as if they were cramped. He laughed nervously and smiled at her with what he hoped was a charming grin but what was probably extremely goofy. She was clearly amused by how lame he was because she laughed softly, smiling as she returned to her studying.
Laura almost didn't tell Sam her hand was trapped under his; the death grip was worth the feeling of his hand covering her own – contact that her mind and body craved. But she reconsidered. Her hand would lose feeling eventually, and he would notice and probably think she was a weirdo.
He looked so cute in his obvious embarrassment and Laura found the fact that he was afraid of flying absolutely adorable. She promised her self that she would tell him that, one day.
It was ten o'clock, the day just beginning to warm when Sam, Laura and Brian climbed out of the taxi and gazed up at Pinehurst Academy.
"Looks rich," Brian observed dryly – a rich school meant rich kids.
"We're already five minutes late, let's go." Laura had been fidgeting nervously since they got off the plane. Brian knew she was stressing about the competition; she really wanted to do well.
Sam said nothing, instead shouldering his bag and starting for the entrance. A man of few words, was Sam.
They entered the reception area and Laura marched up to ask to woman manning the desk for directions. She apologized, saying she knew they were late but they had hit traffic.
The receptionist laughed good-naturedly as she checked her watch. "Oh, don't worry honey, your not late at all – your actually twenty-five minutes early. The competition doesn't start until eleven."
Laura glanced at her wristwatch, clearly confused. "But…" she began, and then trailed off, her eyes clearing in understanding. "Oh, I forgot – I set my watch half-an-hour early so we wouldn't be late!" She laughed in relief, though it had a slightly hysterical edge to it.
"Of coarse you did, honey," the woman nodded seriously. She took their names (Laura was too distracted to remember her surname so Brian supplied it for her) and gave them directions to a room where they could "sit and try to calm down" before the competition began.
The further the trio got into the school complex the jitterier Laura became. Brian noticed that she had started muttering things under her breath, and she constantly made them stop so she could check something on her notes in her backpack. When they paused to use the toilet she tried to follow the boys through their door; Sam had to turn her around and gently guide her towards the female lavatory and usher her inside.
"Are you always this stressed out before exams?" Sam asked bluntly as they walked into a well appointed sitting room. Other students looked up as they entered and either appraised them suspiciously or nodded in greeting. Brian applauded Sam's direct approach – subtle definitely wouldn't work at the moment.
"Huh?" Laura looked at Brian blankly, obviously confused as to who had spoken.
Sam cleared his throat. "I said do you always stress this much?"
"I'm not stressed," Laura replied weakly. Brian and Sam looked back at her in disbelief. She heaved a sigh. "Okay; I'm a little stressed out. It's only because there's so many things they could ask us, there's no way I know everything I should – Lake Titicaca!" Brian jumped when she exclaimed the last, and then dived into her bag to check some notes. He could see his shock mirrored in Sam's expression and he shrugged his shoulders at his, silently asking what they should do. Sam looked at Laura crouching over her notes, muttering, and then looked back at Brian. He appeared to come to a decision.
"Some water might help, Brian," Sam suggested. Brian didn't think this was especially brilliant but didn't have a better idea himself, so he left in search of a water cooler. I hope he has something else up his sleeves, he thought to himself, because Laura isn't gong to be much help if she can't think straight.
After Brian left to look for water Sam turned his attention to Laura. She did look a little ridiculous crouched over her bag next to the door like that – gorgeous, but slightly ridiculous. He crouched down next to her and gently but firmly removed both her bag and her notes from her grasp.
"What-" Laura began, but Sam was already walking towards to nearest empty lounge. He dropped her bag and notes next to it and turned back to find Laura trailing behind him. She stopped in front of him and raised an eyebrow, clearly asking what the hell he thought he was doing. If looks could kill.
"Sit." Sam said. "Please," he added when Laura looked less than impressed at being ordered around. Laura glanced longingly at her possessions, glared at him and sat down grudgingly.
"Okay." Sam sat next to her. "Close your eyes." Laura seemed to realize what he was doing because she started shaking her head doubtfully.
"Sam, I don't think now-"
"Sure it is," he insisted as reassuringly as he could. Seeing that she still looked unsure he said "Fine," and closed his own eyes, breathing slowly and deeply. After a minute he peeked at her out of the corner of his left eye to find she had taken the bait and was mirroring his own actions. He searched her face and was satisfied when he found the signs of worry were already lifting from her face.
Sam had started using the meditation technique more often in the past two weeks and was finding it easier and easier to slip into the reflective state of calmness. Disregarding the thought that the other students in the room were probably laughing at them, he focused himself inward and let go.
When he finally opened his eyes and turned to Laura he found her shuffling through her retrieved sheets, apparently just as stressed as she was before. Sam sighed; he had tried.
Laura looked up and smiled at his defeated expression. "Don't worry," she assured him. "I'm just sorting them." She neatened the pile and slipped them back into her bag as proof. Then she sat back and added. "Thanks. I can't believe I didn't think of that."
"Well, I had to do something; you were freaking Brian out." Sam joked. Laura laughed, that soft musical sound made Sam shiver.
"Where is Brian?"
"I sent him for water. He should be back soon…" Realizing the truth in his words, and given the electric clarity that overtook his mind in the aftermath of meditation, Sam felt an irresistible urge to tell her how he felt about her, and immediately. Without any further thought about what he was going to say he shifted his weight so he was facing Laura, his legs crossed in front of him and his elbows resting on his knees. "Laura?" he asked quietly.
Laura grinned and playfully mirrored his pose, which unintentionally brought her face within a foot of his and made his heart suddenly start beating a tattoo against his rib cage. "Sam." She replied in the same lighthearted tone, still smiling. Why is it she always sounds like she flirting after she meditates? Maybe she is flirting… The thought was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.
"There's something I-"
"Excuse me; I hope I'm not interrupting?" Both Sam and Laura looked up to find another student smiling down at them. He was tall and well built with dark curly hair, dark eyes and a friendly open face. The emblem on his blazer announced him as a student of Pinehurst Academy. Sam disliked the way he kept his eyes focused on Laura.
Laura was the first to recover. She smiled at him and replied "Not at all." Sam managed a half smile, but pretty boy barely looked at him.
"I couldn't help but notice; were you just meditating?" he sounded like it was the most fascinating thing in the world. Sam rolled his eyes at the guy's obviousness, but Laura either didn't notice or didn't mind because she happily kept the conversation going.
After introducing one another (and Laura introducing Sam) the two completely ignored him for a few minutes, chatting away like old friends. Sam listened, his mood becoming darker by the second. Apparently 'J.D', as his friends called him, was in his senior year at Pinehurst, was Senior Class President and was 'really nervous about the Decathlon'. He had joined the team, he said, to beef up his college application, but had been caught up in the 'intensity of it all'. Sam could see Laura warming to the guy and wanted to hurl.
They had just started on college preferences when two things happened; a teacher opened a side door to the room and announced that the competition was about to begin, and Brian hurried back in through the main doors with three plastic cups balanced in his hands.
"It took me forever to find the water and then I got lost on the way back." He took in Sam's dark expression, Laura's happy one and the random addition to the equation, and asked "What did I miss?"