Author: Bad Faery PM
In trying to help her, he broke her beyond repair. After Todd's fall from the roof, Marty learns more about herself and their shared past as she slowly starts to put the pieces of her life back together. x Tarty xRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Chapters: 4 - Words: 6,580 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 02-14-09 - Published: 01-02-09 - id: 4763950
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Ali was an excellent confidant once you got past the smirking and rudeness, Todd decided. Then he remembered he was carrying on a conversation with his own subconscious and decided to give up on that train of thought. At least it was better than brooding.
"If you could change one thing, just one, what would you do?" he asked the other one curiously. His life was in such an utter shambles that he couldn't pinpoint any single moment that would have changed everything. To him, it seemed like he'd done nothing but make one mistake after another, and they'd all piled up, resulting in nothing but destruction.
To his surprise, Ali looked away, his eyes going cloudy and unfocused for a long moment before he reluctantly turned his attention back to Todd. "I'd stay," he said finally.
The short sentence gave him no clues as to its meaning. "You'd stay? Where?"
"With Marty," Ali explained, his voice sounding far away, "That first night, the very first night when she asked. I'd stay."
That night, that first time with Marty, was something Todd strove not to think about. It was just another reminder that no matter what, all he did was hurt her, and it had been that way from the beginning. Yet in the grand scheme of their relationship, it was such a small thing. "Would that really have changed things?"
Ali picked up the remote, pointing it at the television, "I'll show you." He clicked on the screen, and Todd blinked, only vaguely surprised to see himself, a much younger version of himself, standing awkwardly beside a door he remembered well. Slowly the camera panned to the right, and Todd swallowed the lump in his throat as it crossed the expanse of bed, revealing a disheveled, emotional Marty.
"Oh no," he said softly, unable to look away from her devastated face, "Not this. Not again."
"Watch," Ali commanded, "Just watch."
* * *
"Will you stay?" There was a quavering note in Marty's voice, something between arrogance and pleading, like she hated herself for asking the question.
Todd looked helplessly at the door, his stomach curling at the outpouring of emotion. What had he gotten himself into? This wasn't the fun-loving Marty he'd been with earlier. Her hair was a mess, and that was his fault because he'd been running his hands through it. The thought made him feel guilty.
"All right," he found himself saying, wondering where the words were coming from. Without conscious volition, he found himself sitting down stiffly next to her on the bed. Marty seemed to relax slightly at his movement, but he could still hear her panting. "You don't want to... talk do you?" he asked with dread.
"No. Let's just sit here and stare at each other," Marty replied sarcastically, and this step towards normalcy helped tremendously.
"All right, fine, we'll talk," he said grudgingly, then held a finger to her face in warning, "But if you expect me to start saying poetry or something, I'm out of here."
"Like I'm going to believe you know any poems," Marty scoffed.
"I know plenty," he retorted.
"I will!" he snapped, falling neatly into her trap, "There once was a man from East Kent-"
"A limerick?!" she exclaimed in disbelief, "Limericks don't count."
"You wanna hear this or not?" he challenged, starting again, "There once was a man from East Kent./ Whose tool was so long that it bent./ To spare himself trouble/ He bent it double./ And instead of coming, he went."
There was a long, long silence, and Todd felt something akin to embarrassment rising in his gut. Just as he was about to say the hell with it and get out of there, the silence was broken by a most unladylike snort.
Marty collapsed against him, her head on his shoulder, laughing hysterically. A small smile crossed his face, and he put his arm around her to keep her from toppling over. "There once was a man from Rangoon..."
He admired her trim figure, enticingly clad in short red dress, then approached the pinball machine. Stopping just behind her, he watched her game, cautioning her as he saw the ball starting to slip lower, "Use the right one."
Startled, she jumped, taking her hands from the machine, and he quickly reached around her, trapping her body between his own and the pinball machine as he saved her game. "Always keep your eye on the ball," he scolded her, grinning as she slipped her hands back in place, underneath his.
Taking advantage of the position, he nuzzled her neck, frowning when he heard her reprove him. "Todd..." She glanced back meaningfully over her shoulder at the bar where Suede was washing glasses.
"Oh, come on, Marty," he rolled his eyes, "Give it up; you're too good for him."
"I'm too good for you too," she reminded him, but she didn't push him away.
"Yeah, but it's a more even playing field." He pressed his luck and caught her earlobe between his teeth, feeling her shiver.
For a moment she stood in his embrace, then turned, saying regretfully, "Not every thing's a game, Todd." Ducking beneath his arm, she left him there staring after her.
"I don't want to ask Marty," he sulked.
"But she's good at this. If anyone can get you to pass, she can."
"I'm not asking Marty!"
"Todd?" her voice reached him from the door of the frat house, "Powell called me."
"Well?" Marty stopped in front of him, staring down at where he was sitting on the bench.
"I didn't look yet." His entire future rested on the number on that board, and he couldn't bring himself to look.
"You must have passed," she assured him. "You could do the problems. I saw you do them."
"You look," he requested, glancing over at the board, then back to her.
She held a hand out to him. "We'll do it together." Pulling him to his feet, she led him to the board, running her finger down the list of names until she came to his. "Todd Manning," she read aloud as both their eyes found his score.
"What?" he asked in disbelief at the failing grade.
Marty dropped her purse, her face growing pale. "But... how...?"
"I failed," he said blankly.
Suddenly, Marty exploded, kicking her purse into the wall, the contents spilling everywhere, "What the hell?! You knew this stuff! It's not fair!"
"I'm off the team," he mumbled, barely able to process what had happened.
"No, you're not!" she shouted, attracting a few stares. She bent to pick up her purse, shoving her things haphazardly inside, before straightening and grabbing his arm, "You're going to go talk to him. He's going to give you a retest, and I'm not letting you sleep until you can recite those formulas backwards!"
Keeping a firm grip on him, she started off towards Professor Nader's office, nearly shoving him inside once they reached the door.
To his credit, the professor didn't actually laugh in his face at the demand, only sat back, raising his eyebrows in disbelief. "If you haven't been able to understand calculus for the past four months, what makes you think you'll be able to understand it in less than a week, Mr. Manning?"
"I've got a tutor, Marty Saybrooke. She's helping me."
The professor's eyebrows climbed higher at the mention of Marty, "I'm sure she is."
The man's ironic tone didn't register at first. "So, if you just give me a few more days, she'll help me, and I'll be able to pass the test."
"Why should I? Unless Miss Saybrooke is offering to 'help' me as well..." he trailed off, his lurid meaning becoming clear.
"Son of a bitch!" Todd swore, coming around the man's large desk, "Marty ain't like that!" He raised his fists, rage overwhelming his common sense.
"You hit a teacher?!" Marty's voice rose with disbelief, as she paced back and forth in front of his holding cell, "I can't believe you hit Professor Nader!"
"He had it coming," he muttered.
"Just because he wouldn't let you retest? Todd, you're going to get expelled!" She whirled around to look at him, her mouth moving as she groped for something else to say.
"It wasn't the retest," he clarified, leaning against the bars and closing his eyes; watching her was making him dizzy.
"Then what?!" she resumed pacing again, "How could you hit a teacher?"
"He said something about you," he admitted.
"About me?" she stopped, looking at him curiously, "What'd he say about me?"
Todd chose his words carefully, "Let's just say there was a price for the retest."
Marty's eyes went wide as his meaning registered. She went pale for a moment, then her face softened, a faint smile curving her lips, "And that's when you hit him? Oh, Todd..." Reaching up, she cradled his cheek, pulling him down so she could kiss him through the bars of his cell. He relished it, the first kiss they'd shared since their night together. Then suddenly, she broke away, turning on her heel, calling over her shoulder as she ran out of the jail, "I'll be right back!"
"You're free to go, Manning," the cop announced, unlocking his cell door. Ignoring him, Todd looked past him to Marty, who was leaning in the doorway, wearing a smug smile.
"Nader dropped the charges. And your retest is scheduled for Monday."
He caught her arm, hustling her out of the jail. "What did you do?"
"Oh, nothing," she said innocently, and he stopped dead on the sidewalk as a hideous thought occurred to him. Jerking on her arm, he forced her to face him, running his eyes over her body suspiciously, "You didn't. Tell me you didn't."
"Didn't what?" she squirmed in his grasp, going still as she figured out what he meant. Her face filled with disgust. "Todd! Please. Like I'm going to sleep with him just to get you out of trouble."
He felt a bit stung at her protest, but mostly he was just relieved she hadn't debased herself in that way. "Then how'd you do it?"
With a wicked smile, Marty fished a micro-cassette recorder out of her purse and clicked it on. The grainy sound of Professor Nader's voice filled the air, "You want to get your friend out of trouble? Let's see what's under that pretty little dress of yours."
"Asshole," he muttered, anger once again filling him as Marty switched off the tape.
"I told him that if he didn't drop the charges against you and let you retest, I was going to play this for the dean." She dropped it back in her purse and smirked up at him.
Grudgingly, he had to admit he was impressed. "You should've had him change the grade instead of making me retest."
"Would you like to go back to jail?" she asked sweetly, resuming the walk back to the university.
"You're hell on wheels, Marty," he told her, catching up quickly and slinging his arm across her shoulders. He grinned when she didn't shrug him off.
"You're welcome, Todd."
* * *
On and on it went. Todd watched, fascinated, as he and Marty schemed and flirted and fought and made up. The only trauma at the Spring Fling was the shoving match he and Suede got into when the bartender crashed the party to spend a little too much time moving in on Marty.
"Is this really what would have happened?" he asked Ali, seeing his alter ego shrug.
"Who knows?" Ali retorted, "But it's a hell of a lot better than what did happen."
"Can you send me back?" he asked, wondering just what Ali was capable of.
"What? You think this is It's a Wonderful Life?" Ali snorted. "Do I look like an angel to you? I'm you, idiot. You're dreaming in case you forgot."
"I think I'd rather stay asleep," Todd murmured, reaching out to brush his fingers against the TV screen, touching the glowing pixels that comprised Marty's smiling face.
"No can do," Ali shrugged, as he dimly heard another voice calling his name.
"Todd? Todd! Wake up!"
"Go away, Tea," he muttered, irritated when he found himself opening his eyes anyway, Ali and The Wacky Adventures of Todd and Marty long gone.
"They're discharging you today," the lawyer informed him. "Don't you want to come home with me, Todd?" she simpered, stopping just short of batting her eyes at him.
"Tough shit. Get dressed. We're leaving." She tossed a pile of clothes onto the bed next to him, watching with unconcealed impatience.
Tea, he decided, had the worst timing on the planet.
* * * * *
Author's Note: I find myself so tempted to keep playing in the universe Ali showed Todd in this chapter. Would anyone be interested in reading a "what-if?" story starting with the premise that Todd stayed with Marty that night?