|Categorise and Nominate
Author: Diary PM
He drops the subject, but he knows his aunt and grandfather will probably be hearing more rants about one cocky, auburn-haired Austin, who has an odd face. Complete. Edited slightly.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship - Justin S. & Austin - Words: 1,895 - Favs: 1 - Published: 10-26-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8645026
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own Ugly Betty.
Austin Fitzgerald appears in Lena Korvinka's class.
Justin's working on his English homework, and Lily Winston nudges him. "New kid," she whispers.
He looks up. There's an auburn-haired boy quietly talking to Lena, showing her papers. Justin starts to ask where Lily thinks the new kid is from, but then, the other boy grins at something Lena's says.
His stomach suddenly feels like the time he accidentally swallowed a jalapeño pepper, his mouth uncomfortably dry. He tells himself the strange feelings and sensations coursing through him are due to skipping breakfast.
However, after Austin's introduced and is practicing a line reading, Justin finds himself snapping, "You're doing it wrong!"
Lena glares, Lily pokes him, hard, and everyone else is visibly confused, a few appalled, by his outburst.
Looking at him with a blank expression, Austin studies him for a moment, and then, he breaks into a grin, causing Justin to feel an uncomfortable heat rise in his cheeks. "Yeah? If you think you can do better-"
The challenge hangs heavy in the air, and with as much dignity as he can muster, which he'll admit isn't much, Justin stands up and holds his hand out for the script.
"He was so cocky! And he smiled at Lily, which probably means he likes her, and she can do so much better than a cocky boy with an odd-looking face!"
His grandfather and aunt look at one another, sharing a look he can't decipher. "It's not nice to make fun of people's faces," Betty offers, sipping her tea.
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Justin wonders why he's the villain in this scenario. He didn't invade a class and start-
At least, his smile doesn't make people get stomachaches.
He drops the subject, but he knows his aunt and grandfather will probably be hearing more rants about one cocky, auburn-haired Austin, who has an odd face.
It turns out Austin isn't completely terrible.
Lily insists they invite him to sit with them, and Austin shares his gum. "My dad's a police officer," he tells them. "My mom lives in Washington; I'm not exactly sure what she does."
"My dad's a dentist, and my mom teaches yoga," Lily says, leaning her head against Justin's shoulder. He feels a surge of triumph at the brief look that flashes across Austin's face. "My sister's an engineer; she's in Canada with her girlfriend right now."
"My mom's a hairdresser, and we live with my grandpa," he says, hoping Austin won't ask about his dad. Lily never has. In truth, Justin's not sure what to say. His dad dying a hero wasn't enough to get his grandpa to say even one nice thing about him, and as much as he loves his dad, dying a hero doesn't inspire the same loyalty as actually being there for his mom, aunt, and him all their lives does.
"Cool," Austin says. Motioning to the two of them, he asks, "So, are you two, like, together?"
Lily laughs, removing her head. "Of course not!"
Trying to ignore the pain and humiliation, Justin says, "We've only known each other for about three weeks. But we have a lot in common."
Admittedly, it comes across as decidedly non-smooth, and Austin smirks at him, causing him to make a face when Lily's not looking. That only makes Austin try to turn a laugh into a cough.
"Do you have a girlfriend," Lily asks, causing Justin to turn his scowl to her.
Why does she want to know that, he wonders, sourly, ignoring the part of him that's just as curious.
"No," Austin answers as he looks Justin. "What parts are the two of you trying out for next week?"
"Well, I'm trying out for Christian," Justin says, relieved to be back on familiar ground.
"I'm trying out for Lise," Lily says. "What about you?"
"I'm trying out for Cyrano," Austin says, grinning. "Looks like we'll get to see how well we act off each other, huh," he says to Justin.
"Yeah," Justin mutters. For some reason, the scene where Cyrano and Christian hug jumps into his mind, making him feel uneasy.
"Don't worry," Lily says, reaching over and squeezing her hand. "You have great chemistry with everyone."
"Thanks," Justin says, grateful to have such a cool friend. He kisses her cheek. "You're totally going to make Lise likeable and sympathetic."
"Here, mijo," his grandfather says a week later, handing him two plastic bags. "I made a peanut butter-and-orange sandwich for you and a turkey with tomato sandwich for your Lily friend. Did your mother give you enough money for drinks?"
"Yes, thank you, Grandpa," Justin says, leaning over so that his grandpa can kiss him. "I love you."
Inside, he pauses, suddenly feeling guilty when he sees Austin and Lily sitting together. He'd honestly forgot about Austin and hadn't thought to ask his grandpa to make something for him, too. Sighing, he goes to sit down. "Hey, guys."
Austin grins, and he looks down in irritation.
"Sandwiches," Lily says, happily, reaching for the bags. "Justin's grandfather is a chief; his food is delicious."
"You can have half of my sandwich," Justin offers. "You're not allergic to peanut-butter or oranges, are you?"
At Austin's look, Lily explains, "Justin loves peanut-butter sandwiches with slices of oranges. You should try it."
"Okay," Austin says, nodding. "Thanks," he says as Justin hands him the smaller half.
"The best thing is that Mr Suarez uses real fruit and other food in his stuff," Lily says. "No packages and syrup."
"It's good," Austin says.
Justin hands him a napkin, trying to ignore how Austin looks with peanut butter smeared on his cheek. "What's your favourite sandwich," he asks, concentrating on his own, aware that seeing someone with food on them shouldn't invoke whatever unidentifiable feelings he's currently feeling.
"My dad usually just fixes me a bologna and cheese sandwich," Austin answers, licking his fingers. "I kinda forget there are different kinds."
"What kind of cheese," Lily asks. "I like the kind with olives cooked in, but sister has a dairy allergy and can only have the soy kind."
Austin shrugs, grinning at Lily. Justin resists the urge to kick him. "The kind of food I eat would bore both of you. My dad just fixes basic stuff and tries to make sure I don't eat too much junk food."
"That's not a problem for Lily," Justin notes. "Her parents didn't let her have sugar until she was three. She never developed a taste for it."
Justin, on the other hand, loves sugar; he's just never had a big appetite, and when he was little, his family always insisted he eat a full meal before desert and have a piece of fruit before he had a sugary snack. When he got older and learned about nutrition, he made the decision to try his best to eat as healthily as possible.
"They learned from my sister," Lily says, laughing. "She's addicted to Mountain Dew, and she's a vegetarian, but she hates vegetables." At Austin's puzzled look, she explains, "Basically, she eats loads of pasta, potatoes, and the occasional taco."
Austin grins, and words Justin doesn't want to acknowledge bubble to up in his brain. "Thanks for the sandwich, Justin. Tell your grandpa I said thank you." Then, to Lily, he asks, "Where do you get cheese with peppers cooked in?"
"Olives," she corrects, and they talk about that until class starts.
Jessie Alejandro wants to play the part of the head fey, and Justin sighs, knowing she'll probably get it.
It's not fair.
Her body type is all wrong for the part, and she frankly sucks at doing Shakespearian monologues. But she's a girl, and the term 'fairy' isn't an insult for girls. They can play one and dress up for one as Halloween, and no one makes assumptions about them.
When Lily is helping Eddie put a diaper on a prop baby, Austin looks at him curiously, and Justin wonders what the correct categorisation for Austin's eye colour is. "When are you going to nominate yourself for the role of Puck?"
"What's the point?"
He knows what his mom, Grandpa, and Aunt Betty would say. He knows Marc would agree with them.
And Justin's not proud of himself, but sometimes, he gets tired of fighting. In elementary, he wasn't allowed to form the drama club until his mother dragged him to school one afternoon and tapped her heels, hands on her hips, as she talked about lawyers and the eleven o' clock news. In middle school, he tried never to let her find out about the bullying after he saw how seriously she took it when he mentioned Randy's harassment; she was busy with her salon and his frikking married gym teacher. Justin still blames himself for her involvement with the latter; it's his job to use his technological expertise and kid/teen-endowed snooping skills to make sure his family doesn't end up with crazy people like Constance or jerks like that guy who stood his aunt up.
Justin's had a girlfriend, and despite what Randy's friends claimed, he wasn't psycho over Randy. He was sad when Cliff and Marc didn't get married, and besides Tammy, he's honestly not sure if he'll ever want to be someone's boyfriend. He's just him, but everyone besides his family and the few friends he's made want him to not be him.
Sometimes, whether it's the right response or not, he thinks about his dad and tries to 'be a normal kid'. It may hurt, but it also makes his life a lot easier.
"Don't let it go to your head, but you'd be awesome as Puck," Austin says.
Austin has somehow gotten the delusional idea that he's a better actor than Justin stuck in his head.
"Shut up," he orders. "Jessie's a girl."
That earns him a strange look. "Is this something you've just figured out or-"
"She'll get it," Justin answers, tersely.
Instead of responding, Austin wordlessly offers him some gum.
Justin accepts, thinking that's the end of end up.
Ten minutes later, however, Austin's standing up and saying, loud and clear, "I'd like to nominate Justin for the role of Puck."
As he gapes, Austin winks, and Justin is starting to realise that thinking someone has a beautiful smile means he can't keep thinking of Austin as a friendly enemy. Friendly enemies don't do things like this, they don't make people feel like this.
Okay, he thinks, finding himself smiling and reaching over to shake Austin's hand, I just need to figure out what exactly Austin is.
Somehow, thinking of him as just a regular friend doesn't work any better than thinking of him as a friendly enemy.