If you were in Plainville on February 9th, you would've seen nothing but damp gray streets and quiet, somber rows of buildings for miles around. The sun was hidden behind layers and layers of dusk-colored clouds that seemed to envelop the entire sky. The rain came in buckets, drenching anyone who dared step foot outside for even a few quick seconds.
"Thanks for coming over to help me study, Penny."
Things were no different over at the Tabootie residence. A completely normal house on a completely normal street. You're waiting for a catch here, right? Well, unless you count the fact that one of the occupants has sole access to a whole other world, or that his father invented the cheeseburger smoothie… they really weren't all that different from any other family in the world.
Inside, on the second floor, sitting side by side and watching their textbooks with varying amounts of interest, were two kids, both in the sixth grade and of eleven years of age. The first, with green eyes and tan hair, blankly focused on the words in his book, hardly understanding anything, looking as if there were a thousand places he'd rather be. You couldn't say the same for his Hispanic female counterpart. Studying was her element. You could tell just from the peaceful look on her face as she adjusted her glasses for the umpteenth time. Still deep in thought, Penny Sanchez nodded to acknowledge that she had heard him.
"No problem, Rudy. Besides, studying with somebody else gives me some extra practice."
"Not that you need any, Ms. Prodigy." Rudy replied automatically. "I'm surprised we're still in the same grade." He glanced down at his book again, trying to make out some of the seemingly blurred and fuzzy words on the page before him. "Uh… What exactly is an inhibitor again? I'm not sure I understand many of the things they're talking about."
"Obviously not," Penny retorted, unable to help herself. "It's one of our vocabulary words, and the test is tomorrow. Put into the simplest terms I know, inhibitors are substances that slow or stop the rate of a chemical reaction."
Doi. Sighing, Penny went off into another one of her detailed speeches. As always, Rudy couldn't understand a word she said. It was as if she was speaking a whole other language. "Chemical reactions are when two or more substances combine, or join their physical or chemical attributes together in a way that causes a change in color, smell, appearance, texture…" She seemed to ramble on for hours and hours in a simple few minutes. Rudy nodded along at random intervals, trying to make it seem like he at least had the slightest clue over what she was talking about. He didn't notice himself watching her a bit more than she was comfortable with. Subconsciously, he gazed at his friend with a blank, yet dreamy expression as if he were staring off into nowhere. He never fully paid much attention before, but for some reason he couldn't help noting the sheen of her dark, almost brown auburn hair even in the gloomy weather. It was almost funny, the situation at hand. The imaginative daydream believer without a serious, down-to-Earth thought running through his head, seeing so much in his complete opposite, the bookworm. Of course, just about anyone could see she was much more to him than the precision-obsessed, science-loving new girl that the other students took her for.
"Do I have something on my face or what?" She suddenly interrupted. Rudy, upon hearing this, snapped back to reality, finally realizing what he was doing. Flushing heavily, he looked back to his book, for the first time in his life eager to get back on the subject of their horrid chemistry test. "Uh… no… it's nothing."
She seemed satisfied with this answer, for she turned her attention back to her studies as well. "So, Rudy… Can you give me an example of a natural catalyst found in your body?" She asked, already back on subject. Rudy felt his mind go blank again. Staring down at the pages of his textbook again, he blushed again as he continued to feel increasingly stupid. "Uh…" He quickly scanned the words of the book. 'Catalyst, catalyst… how do you spell that, anyway?'
"Here we are! Enzymes!" He declared triumphantly, pointing to a bold-printed word in his book. Penny nodded, pleased. "That's right, Rudy." She replied, using the same tone of voice as she would for a three year old. Still, she couldn't help but giggle at his adorable innocence and confusion as he worriedly studied the words in his book.
"There's a first… at least, in my history of encounters with the dreaded science textbook." He mumbled, his brain already starting to hurt. Penny smiled and had to restrain another giggle as he clutched his head in mental agony.
The door to Rudy's room opened and in walked Mildred Tabootie, looking cheerful and sunny in spite of the heavy winds and rain. "Hello, kids. I know you've been working real hard, so I brought up some snacks. I think it's just great that you're studying together! Maybe this new method is just what you need to tie yourself down to Earth once in a while, Rudy."
Rudy tried to ignore the last comment, instead turning his full attention to the plateful of food that was heading his way. After being his father's guinea pig for many an experiment with meats and other rambunctious concoctions, Rudy was grateful for some much-needed exposure to something edible. "Thanks, mom!" He managed to say before mercilessly attacking the cookies. Mrs. Tabootie smiled, then turned to leave the room.
"Rudy!" Penny snapped in mock anger as she watched the numbers dwindle. "What've those cookies ever done to you?!?"
"You want some?" He offered, raising an eyebrow. Penny shook her head. "I ate already. I'd rather just study."
"'Kay. Suit 'cherself." He pushed the plate a good distance away from him, a half-eaten cookie in hand, observing his textbook with renewed interest. "So, activation energy… hmm… that's the amount of energy has to be there, you know, for the reaction to start, right?"
"Yes! Wow! You're on a roll!" Penny teased as she flipped through a few more pages. "How about valence electrons? Do you know what those are?"
"They're the electrons farthest away from the… nucleus thingie…" He replied immediately, making little gestures with his hands. "…uh, right?"
"Pretty much, yeah." She casually glanced at him, sensing his increasing boredom. "Uh, Rudy, if you don't want to study NOW, you know, it's ok. We could take a break."
He brightened up instantly. "You mean, like… ChalkZone?" He asked, sounding like a five-year old who's just been told the entire world was transformed into a giant brownie sundae (Well, that may be a slight exaggeration). "Definitely! I mean… If you don't mind. I know you like studying…"
"Are you kidding? Even scientists need a little time off. Let's go!"
Rudy took a quick glance at his clock. 7:43. Penny was always required to come home no later than nine, so they still had over an hour. Just in case, he grabbed a watch off his nightstand and quickly attached it to his wrist, on the off-chance that they should happen to lose track of time. Grabbing the magic chalk, he hurriedly doodled a giant oval-shape on his chalkboard, then looked around inside. They were in nightly part of ChalkZone, usually referred to as NightZone. It was dark and near deserted, they observed, but at least the portal was only a foot above ground level. "Come on, Penny!" He exclaimed excitedly, grabbing her hand and pulling her in.
Rudy was always confident in ChalkZone. He was never hesitant or unsure about anything, like he was in the real world when faced with REAL opponents, like long division or chemistry. Penny, however, sometimes felt like a nuisance or a stranger whenever she tagged along with her artistic friend on his bizarre adventures, like something out of a comic book. Studying, science, math, or anything that required proper use of logic- that was her zone. But in a world where your best survival skill is a vivid imagination, she was practically a fish out of water… or something like that.
"There you are! I've been looking for yous two all day!" It was Snap, conveniently located a mere twenty feet away like he always was whenever Rudy and Penny showed up. "Where've you been?"
"Studying. We have a massive science test tomorrow." Penny responded. "We can't stay very long, because I have to go home in an hour, and we still have a two more sections to cover in our textbook."
"Sheesh! You finally show up, and it turns out that you have to leave soon. Can't you do your studying later? That's why they invented sleepovers," Snap pointed out, frustrated. "So, now that you're here, what do ya wanna do?"
"I dunno. What about you?" The girl murmured back, looking up at the chalky stars, then back at Rudy, who was looking at her blankly with a dazed look on his face. "Rudy?!" She asked, waving a hand in front of his face. The boy finally snapped out of his trance after a few curious taps on his noggin.
"Huh? Oh, what?"
"Well, for starters, we could help Rudy improve on his attention span," Snap grumbled. It was no secret that he was still opposed to Penny's constant tagging along, and really sick of all the attention that Rudy gave her just because she was a girl.
'Geez! Who needs girls, anyway?'
"Snap, there you are! Just the man I wanted to see!"
Into the clearing walked Queen Rapsheeba. Instantly Snap brightened. 'I do!'
"I've already started planning my next car show, and, well, since you're the previous winner, I figured you'd know a thing or two about what we should do for the show, you know, that'll make it stand out." She continued, already knowing she had him hooked. "What do you say?"
"Of course, Queen! Anything!" He practically could've groveled at her feet at this point. He turned towards Rudy. "You're on your own, bucko!" With a cheery wave towards Rudy and Penny he turned around and immediately trailed after Rapsheeba like a hungry duckling.
"Well, there goes Snap." Rudy mused, watching his drawing depart into the depths of NightZone. "Go get the science book, Penny. We can study in ChalkZone."
Rudy started to draw a table and some candles so they could have some light while they studied. Penny was off through the portal in an instant, and came back seconds later wielding both of their textbooks. "What's with this sudden inspirational interest in studying, Rudy?" Penny asked, dropping the books on the table. Rudy shrugged. "I dunno. Guess I just need to start paying more attention to my grades, is all…" He didn't tell her the real reason, of course.
"Moving on." Penny looked through the words in her science book. "Here we are! Metals and Alloys. You listening?"
Rudy nodded obediently. "I read through this, once. Uh… Alloys are a combination of two or more metals… Right?"
"Yeah. Maybe I should read through the whole section, you know, make sure you understand it."
Penny started to read out loud, adding in a few even more detailed words here and there. Her company tried his best to follow along, listening intently to every word she said. He never had much of what you'd call a passion for science, like Penny… but for some reason, as he sat with Penny hearing her go over it, it seemed all too fascinating. Maybe it was just the way she put it.
"Metalloids are nonmetallic elements, like Arsenic, that have some of the chemical properties of a metal."
'I love it when she talks like that.' He thought dreamily, still not understanding much of what she was saying.
Or maybe there was more to it than that.
Like, for one, it's her he loves.
A/N: Weird little blurb written at 1:30 AM. Don't hit me because it sucks. I'm too tired to care. Plus, I'm a little busy wondering why the heck I'm up that late typing up pointless fanfiction with no plot.