SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1AN: *sighs* Everything I write is so stereotypical. I should just clump it all together and call it an arc. The Downright Trite Arc, perhaps. Iterative Imagination. Environmentally Friendly
Fiction. I recycle!
Disclaimer: yeah, yeah. You know the drill.
I know I'm good looking. You don't get the shit beat out of you on the streets on a regular basis for being ugly, not unless you're pretty fucking hideous. Enough people call you "faggot," "pretty boy," and "girlie" while they try to implode your solar plexus and you begin to suspect that you might be slightly better looking than the norm. When they start to whistle or catcall when you walk by, you begin to buy into the idea. By the time they try to grab your braid, grope your crotch or try to pick you up, you believe it with your heart, soul, and apparently oh-so-fuckable ass.
It doesn't take long to get to the point where you wish you were ugly. Some days it's all you can do not to slam your face into the wall a few times, bust up your nose, make a few scars. It's tempting to throw yourself down the stairs in the hopes of mutilating a couple limbs or grab a kitchen knife and carve ugly lines up and down your skin. But you can't quite bring yourself to do it because somewhere in the back of your head, past all the anger and hate and insecurities, even past all those secret hopes and dreams, there lives a voice that calls you its handsome boy. A voice that isn't crude and assuming and lewd. A voice that is gentle and loving. A voice without a face.
Sometimes that voice is the only thing that stands between you and the gun.
As time passes, you realize that even though it hasn't affected your physical appearance, life has made you ugly within. It has filled you with only negative emotions, destructive tendencies, cynicism and sarcasm. It has made you resentful, standoffish, wary, and hateful. It has jaded you.
You can't find a reason to care.
"Settle down, you hooligans!" The teacher barked. Dressed in a sweatshirt, blue jeans, and sneakers, Mr. Martin lounged against his desk in the front of the noisy classroom, crossed his arms, and waited. His so-called pupils continued to misbehave, holding conversations, arm wrestling, gossiping, talking on cell phones, making out, even sleeping. In a class of thirty-five, only two were actually working on the assignment.
He tried again. "I have an announcement! If you care about passing, stop talking now!"
About a fourth of the class quieted down and gave him their attention. The rest continued to ignore him.
"If you don't pass, you'll have to take the class again!" he announced loudly.
Instant rapt attention. "I thought so," he chuckled ironically. "Now, will someone please wake Mr. Maxwell up so I don't have to repeat myself?"
All eyes turned to the slumbering figure seated in the middle of the room. Clad in a black hooded sweatshirt, oversized camouflage pants, and a pair of scuffed Adidas shelltops, the class outcast, slacker, and all around misfit sat slumped over his desk, hood-covered head face-down atop his folded arms.
"Hey, Sleeping Beauty. Wake the fuck up." The jock sitting next to him leaned over and punched his shoulder, jostling him awake. Maxwell reluctantly straightened in his seat, face hidden by his hood and shaggy bangs.
"Keep your goddamn syphilis to yourself, shitface," he muttered.
"Oooo. Someone's a little grumpy. Whatsa matter? Didn't get enough beauty sleep?"
"Alright, kids, that's enough," Mr. Martin spoke up before things could turn ugly. "I have some news. As I'm sure you're all very well aware, the end of the year is rapidly approaching."
"Yes, yes. We're all quite pleased. As I was saying, with the end of the year come certain obligations, such as a final exam."
"In light of your... stunning... track records, I have decided to assign a take-home essay. Two thousand words on the theme of your choice. A mere trifle."
"Two thousand?" a girl wearing a skintight, low-cut tank top winced. "I can't write no two thousand words. Dat shit's long."
"That is why I have taken the liberty of assigning personal tutors. My good friend teaches Advanced Placement English at St Michael's Academy and was also searching for a final project. We collaborated and decided that his students could work with you boys and girls and help you complete your final essays."
"Excuse me, man, but some of us don't need any help," a voice spoke up.
"I'm aware of that. Luckily, he only has twenty-three students to our thirty-five. Those of you with the twelve highest GPAs I am entrusting to complete the paper by yourselves. The rest of you... his class will be meeting with ours tomorrow in the library during this period. You can meet your tutor then and set up a meeting schedule. I expect you to be courteous and welcoming. There will be no, I repeat, NO mocking of their uniforms. In fact, the second you even think about being disrespectful, you lose your right to a tutor and must complete the assignment without aid."
"That's harsh, dude."
"That is what you've forced me into. Alright, I'm done speaking. Continue working on your assignment. I'll collect it at the end of the period."
Pandemonium erupted once more. Shaking his head, he fished his newspaper off his desk and buried himself behind it. "Beastly children," Mr. Martin muttered, engrossing himself in the stock reports.
"I'm tutoring a boy after school from now on," Heero spoke softly, pausing as he lifted a bite of lobster from his plate. "It's part of my English final."
"That's nice, dear," his mother replied, dabbing her lips with a linen napkin. "Be sure to inform Maria of the days when you'll be late so she can set aside a plate for you."
"Who is this boy you're tutoring? A younger student?" his father asked with a marked lack of interest, only seeking to fill the silence.
"He is in my grade, but he attends public school," Heero dipped his bit of lobster in a small bowl of butter. "I'm to help him write an essay."
"Public school?" his mother looked amused. "Small wonder he needs a tutor. The local schools are simply abysmal! To think of all we pay in taxes..."
"Well, I'm sure you'll do a fine job, son," Mr. Yuy smiled disinterestedly before changing the subject. "Did either of you hear the weather report for tomorrow? I'm supposed to tee off at 10AM sharp with the CEO of Tyre, Industries. You know how business can be."
"Excuse me," Heero said abruptly, folding his napkin and laying it next to his mostly full plate. "I'm suddenly not feeling very well."
"Alright, dear. Tell Maria if you need anything, hmm? She's here until nine tonight."
"Thank you, Mother. Good night, Father. Good luck with your game." Heero stood and exited the dining room. His parents watched him go.
"That boy is very amusing," Mrs. Yuy giggled. "So old fashioned and pretentious."
"Maybe we should have sent him to public school," Mr. Yuy frowned. "Toughened him up a little."
"Pshaw! And have some low class hussy seduce him for his money? No, I like him just where he is."
"It might have been good for him to meet people who are different from him. That boy has no idea what the real world is like."
"Oh, pooh. Anyone who's had internet access for as long as he has has to have some idea of reality!"
"Seeing it on the internet and seeing it for yourself are two very different things. I'm beginning to think this tutoring assignment might actually be a very good idea."
"Alright, kids, settle down!" Mr. Martin clapped his hands loudly, drawing the attention of his errant class. "Your tutors are about to arrive, so please try to behave yourselves. Remember, this is a library, not the cafeteria." He paused. "Will someone please awaken Mr. Maxwell?"
The door to the library swung open, revealing a tall man clad in a suit. As he entered the large room, he was followed by two neat lines of students. The uniformed teenagers looked around them with an aura of aversion and disdain. The shabby school was obviously not up to their standards of decor. The library, though large, had few shelves of books. Most of its space was consumed by small tables, at which Mr. Martin's class were currently sitting. To call the room utilitarian would almost be a compliment.
"Take a seat," their teacher instructed his reluctant class firmly. Then he moved to greet Mr. Martin. "How are you, Steve?"
"Not bad. Class, this is Dr. Elliot and his students from St. Michael's. Say hello."A reluctant chorus of welcome arose. He chuckled. "Don't sound so enthusiastic. Well, now that we're all here, how about we explain the particulars of this assignment. Dr. Elliot?"
"Thank you. As I'm certain we are now all aware, Mr. Martin's students are required to write a 2000 word essay for their final exam. My students are to tutor them. You are to meet together at least once a week for the next five weeks. At that time, the papers are due. Mr. Martin's students will be graded on the quality of their work and my students will be graded by the improvement in their writing."
"That doesn't mean you're to write their papers for them. Trust me, I'd notice," Mr. Martin continued. "But you are to guide them. And they will listen and try to learn something."
"Once a week I will be collecting a brief progress report from my students. I believe Mr. Martin requires his pupils to bring in their notes and rough drafts, as they are done."
"That's right. So now that we've got that covered, let's pair you up! Now, your teacher and I have spent a lot of time considering who should work with whom. We tried to match you by your strengths and weaknesses. I think we did a pretty good job. When I call your names, please find one another and sit together. First up, Douglas Goodrich and Perla Taveras."
"Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell." Only one student arose. "Duo Maxwell.... Mr. Maxwell. MAXWELL! Will someone please wake Mr. Maxwell up?"
"Yo, douchebag. Wakey wakey!"
"I hear ya, McNeel," Duo sat up, his hair hanging in his eyes. "What the fuck you want?"
"Tom doesn't want anything, Mr. Maxwell. However, I would be delighted if you would pay attention and go pair up with your tutor." Mr. Martin pointed to where Heero was waiting, a look of displeasure on his face.
"Sure, whatever." Duo stood and stumbled to the table where Heero stood. He threw himself down in an empty chair and laid his head back down on the table. "Wake me when it's over," he requested, pulling his hood down over his eyes and quickly falling back asleep. Heero shot a questioning look at his teacher.
"Just leave him alone for now," Mr. Martin shook his head. "He hasn't been awake for any other part of the year. Why start now?"
When all the students were paired up, they were given free reign to discuss their project. Soon the room was filled with young voices. However, one pair remained silent.
Heero sat staring at his unconscious partner. He didn't know what to think. First he was taken to this hideous, dirty, rundown school. Then he was assigned to work with a sloppy, slobbering idiot. He eyed Duo's oversized clothes with distaste and wondered why Duo slept so much. Was he that depressed or was he hung over or perhaps stoned? No one could naturally be this tired at nine in the morning.
Mr. Martin wandered past their table and paused. "I'm sorry, Heero. I realize this is going to be frustrating for you. Don't be afraid to rap him when he dozes off. Lord knows everyone else does."
Heero frowned. Rap him? Cautiously, he reached out and shook the boy's shoulder, reluctant to touch him. Happily, Duo awakened at the slightest touch.
"Hands off, asswipe," he grunted, hauling himself upright in his seat. He rubbed his eyes and peered blearily across the table. He blinked. "I don't know you."
"I'm from St. Michael's," Heero said. "I'm your English tutor."
"Oh," Duo yawned. "What're we supposed to be doing?"
"I'm supposed to help you with your final paper."
"Oh, sure. Sure. The essay thing, right." He yawned again. "So what do we need to do?"
"We need to arrange meeting times so that I can assist you. I am free any afternoon but Tuesdays and Thursdays."
"Umm... Let me think." Duo squinted, his face shadowed by his hood. "I usually have off on Monday afternoon. That good for you? Say around three o'clock?"
"Yes. Where do you want to meet?"
"How about the public library? We can meet by the reference section."
"Alright." Heero reached into his bag and drew out a Palm Pilot. He entered the appointment into the personal calendar. By the time he looked up again, Duo was once more asleep on the table. Heero spent the rest of the period staring silently into space.
"So how was your tutoring session, my boy?" Mr. Yuy inquired, delicately slicing his porterhouse steak. "Win the Nobel Prize for literature yet?"
"No, Father." Heero frowned, stirring his mixed vegetables around with his fork. "I must confess, I'm a little frustrated."
"Is he uncooperative, dear?" Mrs. Yuy sipped her red wine and hummed with pleasure.
"No, I don't think so," he considered. "It was difficult to tell. He kept falling asleep." He frowned again. "In fact, I don't even know what he looks like. He kept his face covered the entire time, either with his hair or his hood."
"Oh, he sounds so disreputable." Mrs. Yuy gave a dramatic shiver.
"Now, now, my lovely. I'm sure Heero won't be bringing him home, now will you?"
"There's a lad. Oh, before I forget, I'm afraid I'm going to be in Japan for the next month or so. I'm in the middle of..."
Heero sighed and consulted his watch once more. It was a quarter past three and Duo still hadn't shown up. He wondered if he had fallen asleep somewhere. He wouldn't be surprised in the least.
Ten minutes later and he was ready to leave. Gathering his bag, he shoved back his chair and was about to stalk out the door when a hand grabbed his arm.
"Wait! I'm here. I'm here." He turned to find the student from the other day standing slightly behind him. He still wore a hooded sweatshirt and its hood was still drawn low of his face.
"It's about time," Heero snapped. "Where were you?"
"I was... detained," Duo muttered.
"Yeah. Detained." Duo slouched onto a chair and set his backpack down on the table. "You want to get started or what?"
Heero sat across from him. "Yes, let's begin. Have you thought of a theme yet?"
"A theme?" Duo sounded confused. "Why do I need to do that?"
Heero resisted the urge to leave. He did not suffer fools well. "So you know what you're going to write about."
"But I'm done," Duo protested, drawing a sheaf of looseleaf papers from his bag. "I wrote it last night."
"Let me see," Heero demanded, holding out his hand. He doubted it would be very good. He skimmed over the rumpled sheets quickly. "This is good," he admitted in surprise. "Why were you assigned a tutor?"
Duo shrugged. "Yeah, well, it's not that I can't write. It's that I hardly ever hand anything in."
"No time to do the assignments. Can I have my paper back now?"
"Sure," Heero took one last look and then reluctantly extended the papers. He drew them back when he saw the dried blood on Duo's knuckles. "What happened to your hand?"
"Nothing. My papers?"
"Is that why you were... detained?"
"Yeah, alright, it was. Now fork it over."
Heero passed the papers over the table with a glare. "I don't approve of fighting."
"I don't like it myself, but sometimes you don't really get a choice, okay?"
"There is always a choice."
"Well, some of us can't afford choices. Now excuse me, I have someplace else to be."
"Same time next week?"
"Yeah, sure. Whatever." Duo paused, and threw the papers back at him. "Here, knock yourself out editing. You might as well do something."
Heero watched as he walked away, his frame all by enveloped by his baggy attire. He still had no idea what his companion looked like.
A/N: *sighs* No, this isn't new. It was begun almost a year ago, before the joyous arrival of your friend and mine, Writer's Block. Ill-content with the traditional offerings of hor'dourves and wine, this unwelcome guest has become a permanent fixture for reasons no one this side of Kato Kaelin can hope to understand. I'm gambling that once this is posted publically, I can guilt myself into writing more. So bring on the guilt!