A/N:O OMG. It's that fic Kyoko wrote that was really popular until she saw something shiny and forgot about it. Shiny things are very distracting, yes they are.
Ahem. Anyway, thanks to one reviewer whose objects hit me in the head, I have decided to start over. Brand new. No more disappointment. I swear. (shifty eyes)
So. The New and Improved On the Catwalk. I don't own Batman Beyond…well, not the franchise. I own the series, though, because I totally PWN. Enjoy.
"Square root of 59, 049?"
"…What's this week again?"
I rolled my eyes, glancing up from the textbook to glare at him.
"You didn't answer my question."
Terry grinned at me, rolling onto his back and tucking his hands behind his head. The bed pitched under his weight and I shifted a bit, moving my numb leg out from under my butt.
"Career Week, isn't it?"
Sighing, I unscrewed the cap to my Dr. Pepper and took a swig. I had been trying to reeducate Terry on everything he'd missed in Statistics for the past four semesters (Yes, that's two years) and was failing miserably. Did I mention I think he has A.D.D.?
"I don't see why we need it." I said, sitting the drink back on the small pillow behind me once the cap was back on. Terry reached back and picked it up, taking a drink as well. I made small noise. Germs. Ew.
"Half the students will either end up pumping gas or hanging out on 5th Street." I continued.
He chuckled. "Sad, but true." With a lazy groan, he sat up and glanced at the clock beside my bed. It was 7:41 PM. Terry's patrol started at 8:00.
"Sorry, Max. Gotta go. We'll pick up at…11:00?"
I nodded. "That'll be fine. If you actually pay attention this time." I added, giving him another brief glare. He just flashed me that infuriating smile and swiped up his book bag.
I shook my head, smiling in spite of myself, and shut the textbook. "Bye."
And with that, my best friend was gone; off to fight the scum of Gotham's Underbelly. I sighed again and stretched out on my back, staring up at the ceiling in thought. How long had it been now since he became Batman? Six or seven months? It was almost as if I couldn't remember a time before he was Batman.
A small frown started to form on my lips. No, I should remember it exactly: that night when I'd sent Terry the email about his "secret", which turned out to be a total bust. My ego was only so much meat after that night. Everything moved into action from there. Now that I knew, Terry used me as a resource more often and I had never felt so important in my life. And after the incident with Xander and Kairi, well…I'd also never felt more afraid and intrigued in my life. I could see where old man Wayne was coming from as far as not letting me in because of inexperience, but…There was no way in hell I wasn't going to become a part of their world. Of Terry's world…
I shifted uncomfortably for a second as my thoughts drifted to things from the past. Come to think of it, and I really hated to, the fine line of our friendship was starting to blur a bit. Especially after the night Kairi died…
I jumped as my cell phone rang in my pocket. I had been concentrating harder than thought.
"Max? Is Terry there? He said he was studying with you tonight."
"Sorry, Dana, you just missed him. He's going to work. Why don't you try his cell?"
I heard her sigh. "Great. That's going to make this way easier."
I blinked in confusion. Dana wasn't really a sarcastic person so that last comment threw me for a moment.
"Max, I…" she sighed again. "I can't do this any more. I mean, yeah, it's been fun, but Terry barely has any time for me any more because of his job. And I've been really patient, but I can't deal with it. He's missed four dates in the past month. I think it's time we moved on."
I was silent. I had seen this coming, but I hadn't wanted to admit it to myself. It only made sense—after all, how much could a girl take? As much as I sympathized, it wasn't fair to Terry.
"Dana…" I replied slowly, trying to find the right words to say. "You know he's really trying. He wants to be with you, he really does, but it's just—"
"Max, I know you mean well, but I've made up my mind."
"Could you tell him when he gets off from work? Please, I don't think I can break up with him face-to-face."
"But you don't understand—"
"Max." Her voice was firm, unmoving. I knew that tone.
I sighed deeply. Sure. Dump the break-up on the understanding best friend. How am I supposed to deal with those big baby blues in person? But her mind was made up. I couldn't change that, not without blowing Terry's secret wide open.
"I…alright. I'll tell him."
"Thank you, Max. Thank you so much." She said before hanging up. Sadly, I slipped my cell phone back in my pocket. This was just my luck. Just when things had started to look up, here I was, sitting with this burden on my shoulders. How would I even begin that sentence? After all the time Terry had tried to put into their relationship, he gets felled by a technicality. I didn't know who to feel more sorry for: him or me.
I buried my face in a nearby pillow, completely miserable.
Something brushed against my stomach, his hand. His breath on my lips, almost a kiss but not quite. His lips were soft, like velvet, and I felt like I couldn't get enough of the way they felt against mine…
Someone was shaking my shoulder, effectively shattering the dream. I lifted my face from the pillow and found Terry bending over me. I pushed up on my hands, blinking as my eyes adjusted to the light, and fell back on my butt. I rubbed my eyes as he dumped his book bag at the foot of my bed and sat beside me.
"Tired?" he asked rhetorically, raising an eyebrow. I glanced at him in wordless confusion. He pointed to the clock. It was 11:26. I was still fully clothed. Oops.
I tried to smile and failed miserably, giving up and forcing myself to stand. "Fell asleep. Sorry. I'll be back in a sec."
I shifted through my dresser and picked out my usual nightclothes. Nothing fancy, mind you: just a huge t-shirt and cotton pajama bottoms. I normally wore boxers to bed, but there was a boy in my room, best friend or not. And aside from the fact that I'd just had a very dirty dream about him. My Mom had taught me better than that.
I slouched off to the bathroom with the clothes in my hands, hating the fact that I remembered what had happened hours earlier. Why had I agreed to do Dana's dirty work? Friendship only went so far. Did she even realize how bummed this was going to make him? Probably not.
A few minutes later, after I'd brushed my teeth and washed my face, I made myself go back in my room. Terry was rifling through papers to find where we'd left off. It almost made me smile. He was so disorganized.
"I have your homework. You seemed to have developed a habit of losing the same night you finish it," I commented with as much humor as I could put in my voice.
"Ah," he replied, sparing me a sheepish grin. I took my place near the headboard of the bed, legs crossed, and pulled the heavy textbook into my lap. Okay. Math, I could handle. Relationships…not so much. I needed to clear my head, first, before I tried to break the news to him.
"If 64.9 is the percentage of Asia's annual imports, then…no, wait…" I muttered, erasing what I'd just written down and scribbling something else, raking a hand through my hair as if it would help me concentrate better.
"Max, slow down. You've been overworking your brain for the past hour and a half. We should take a break."
I shook my head, not bothering to look up. "Can't. We've got forty more problems, plus that essay in AP Macro—"
I could only make a small noise of disappointment as he yanked my notebook away forcefully and tossed it on the floor. It laid there forlornly for a moment before I made a move to retrieve it. Terry grabbed my shoulders so I couldn't move forward, grinning.
"You. Break. Now."
I glared at him, but sat there like a good little girl. His smile faded a bit at my expression.
"What's with you tonight? You're even more anal about your work than usual. Something wrong?"
I felt my stomach suddenly sink several inches. This was what I was afraid of. With schoolwork, I could ignore the problem altogether. But with that gone, I had little choice but to think about what Dana asked me to do.
Tongue-tied, I scooted away from him and pulled a large pillow into my lap, resisting the urge to hide behind it.
"Uh…nothing. I'm just stressed is all."
He snorted and collapsed on his back, laying his head on my stomach. It made me uncomfortable, but I let him stay there. "Tell me about it. If I don't pass Stats this semester, I can kiss graduation goodbye. God knows I don't need another year at Hill High."
I didn't reply so silence descended, making the air thick. Or maybe that was just me.
"I'm bored. Wanna have sex?"
Laughter exploded out of my mouth before I could stop it. He rolled over onto his stomach and watched me giggle, amused.
"She laughs. So I'm not such a useless best friend after all."
I rolled my eyes mockingly. "Sure, you aren't."
He took this opportunity to smack me in the shoulder with a pillow. I hit him back and from there we started a loud, ridiculous pillow-war. Until my sister banged on the door, roaring, "SHUT UP! IT'S AFTER MIDNIGHT! TERRY, GO HOME!"
Terry and I looked at each other in embarrassment and he slid off the bed, whispering sheepishly,
"Night, Terry." I could worry about "the problem" tomorrow. Or so I hoped.
5th period. Also Known As The World's Most Boring and Useless Class.
Career Day. Also Known As Who Gives a Rat's Ass Day.
My head was propped up on one arm as I stared blearily at the thirteenth Career Person explained what they did for a living and blah, blah, blah. It all started blending together after the engineer guy said his bit. That was the only thing I was interested in. Everything else just made me want to…sleep.
I couldn't find any words to say. Kairi had given her life for me, for us. There was nothing I could say to that. Even though, for once, it hadn't been my fault, I felt as if I'd been Terry's burden. And I knew he was feeling guilty more than Bruce or me.
His eyes were distant and held none of their normal warmth. I sat there on the arm of the couch, wanting to move, to hug him, but I couldn't make my body move. What could I say? What could I do to console him?
After a moment, my lips parted and I could speak.
"Thank you. For saving me."
He didn't speak, so I bent forward, closing the distance between. I was aiming for his cheek, but he turned his face towards me at that exact moment. Our lips touched, sending an electric shock up my spine. I pulled back in panic, my face hot, touching my mouth in alarm.
"I-I'm sorry! You just—"
I jumped up from the couch, embarrassed, moving to go hide in the kitchen, when he grabbed my arm. I stopped. Slowly, Terry pulled me around to face him. The look in his eyes made me shudder. He never looked at me like that. It was always the look he gave Dana before they…kissed.
I froze as he lowered his face inch by slow inch towards mine until his breath brushed over my lips and—
"Mr. McGinnis and Miss Gibson!"
My eyes shot open and I sat up straight as the teacher shouted. Next to me, Terry blinked a couple of times and moved back in his chair. We'd both dozed off. Dammit.
"Since you two are having so much fun on Career Day, I think I'll assign you to our next guest speaker."
At this comment, a woman—no, wait, it was a man! —burst into the classroom, grinning as if he'd just won the lottery.
"Hellooooo class!" he exclaimed with the vigor of a cheerleader. He was dressed in mostly pink: a checkered sweater over a dress shirt, white khakis, and pink loafers. I'd seen less pink on a ballerina. His hair was blonde and oiled to stay down on his head, parted to the left immaculately.
"This is Mr. Peter Wilkinson."
Mr. Wilkinson turned his smile to the teacher. "You can call me Petey."
The teacher stared at him blankly for a moment before turning his gaze back on Terry and me.
"Mr. …Petey is a model instructor."
My mouth fell open as did Terry's. No way…this couldn't be happening…
"Y-You're kidding, right?" Terry asked weakly. Mr. Wilkinson shook his delicate head, clapping his hands together.
"Absolutely not. I'm the owner of the Magnificently You clothing line, debuting next month. You two are going to be my protégées for the rest of the week! Won't that be fun?"
I heard a thud to my right. It was Terry's head hitting the desk. Mine followed soon after it.
This was now my new problem.
Now of course you know you have to review. This fic is devoted to all my faithful reviewers, who inspired me to rewrite it. Let me know what you think, compare it to the old one, give me feedback! Thanks for reading.