A/N: Ok, so, here's fic number 3. As usual, minimum 3 reviews before an update, so please review! As of right now, this fic is not destined to be as long as 'Collide' (though things keep getting added to my outline so who knows how long it will end up being), nor is it as unplanned as 'These Things We Do', but like both of those it will once again find Ren and Tawny in a more-than-friends capacity. This one might be a little slow in getting off the ground as I still have a few issues to work out plot-wise, but I've decided to begin posting. Methinks this chapter is a bit rushed but it is what it is. Oh, and did I make that summary sound like a perfect soap opera or what? And, by the by, I don't own Even Stevens.
Chapter One: The Beginning of the Things That Matter
"So, how has everybody's first day of school gone?" Tom Gribalski asked jovially as he took a seat beside Tawny at lunch.
"Why do you even ask?" Twitty replied. He and Louis were sitting across the table.
"Another year to expand our intellectual horizons is upon us, boys," Tom grinned, glancing at Tawny. "And lady."
"Expanding our—Tom, you're just expanding my headache, ok? So can it," Louis snapped, shaking his head and grinning at Twitty. "He just becomes more of a geek every day."
Tawny rolled her eyes, turned to Tom, who appeared only slightly wounded by Louis' remarks—he'd taken the harassment for years, it wasn't about to bug him now-- and answered him. "My day's been ok. I have Journalism next period."
"You've taken up the pen for the school, then?" Tom asked.
"No," she grinned. "I accidentally got put in."
"I could see you on the school paper, easily," Tom smiled. "You're a very talented writer."
"What's with the sucking up to Tawny, Tom?" Louis asked, laughing. "You think you have a shot with her?"
"You're with me, Louis. So anything is possible," Tawny scoffed, getting up to leave.
"Where are you going?" Louis asked.
"Somewhere you aren't," she replied coldly.
"Dude," Twitty sighed. "You've been making her mad a lot lately."
"I know," Louis shook his head. "Thanks for that, Tom. And did she say she has paper next? I thought photo was sixth period. I signed up for it just to have a class with her."
"Dude, she told you not to take photo with her again. She said you ruined the class for her last year."
"She wasn't serious, Twitty," Louis said.
"I don't know, man, she seemed--"
"Now I'm in photo and Tawny's not? What am I going to do in photo without Tawny? Who am I going to make out with in the loading booth?"
"Tawny never made out with you in the loading booth."
"Why are you raining on my parade?" Louis asked. "We've been together for over a year-- fifteen months-- fights happen."
"I know," Twitty shrugged. "I'm just saying she seemed serious about not wanting you to take photo with her during forcasting."
"Why wouldn't she want to take it with me? She loves me. I'm her boyfriend. She can't get enough of me."
"Then why'd she leave the table?"
"Shut up, Tom, do you have a girlfriend?"
Tom didn't answer.
"Exactly. So don't think you are qualified to be giving advice."
"You and Charlotte have to do something for your anniversary, Ren!" Ruby squealed.
"It's our seventh month anniversary, Ruby," Ren shook her head. "You don't need to do something for every month. Just one, six, ten, and then yearly."
"Exactly. What did you two do for your last month's anniversary?"
Ren paused, and sighed. "Nothing."
"So, you have to make up for it. Surprise her!"
Ren turned to her ecstatic friend and grabbed her shoulders. "Ruby, honey, chill out."
"Ok, ok, I'm sorry," Ruby laughed. "It's just… you've never been in a relationship that's lasted this long!"
"Perhaps because my previous partners were boys."
"Yeah, I know, but still. Now you've found someone and you're happy. And it's all…perfect. Ren Stevens is finally perfect in every way. You should be happy."
"I am, but I am also Editor-in-Chief of the school paper—the first non-senior to ever be Editor-in-Chief—and I have to give a pep talk to my staff, which is too small, and assign stories and I'm a little nervous and focused on that right now. It's my first class after lunch."
"Hey, Ren, Ruby," Charlotte greeted them in the hall way, giving Ren a quick peck on the cheek. "Have you guys eaten already?"
"No, we were looking for you," Ren smiled, slipping an arm around her girlfriend's waste.
Ren had first met Charlotte in 7th grade and they'd fasr become best friends—more than that to Ren, but that didn't come out for a couple years, even in light of mad jealousy she revealed when Charlotte's former best friend, Yvette, came for a visit. Charlotte had moved to Sacramento from Topeka, Kansas when her dad transferred, and when he was transferred back half-way through 8th grade, Charlotte moved back. Back to Topeka, back to Yvette. A broken-hearted Ren forced her from her mind and set about focusing on school work and boys—if you liked boys you fit in better anyway, even if it didn't really make you happy. But Charlotte had returned to Sacramento and reentered Ren's life half-way through sophomore year. With her returned all of Ren's feelings that she'd tried so hard to bury. By spring break Ren was out of the closet, and she and Charlotte were finally together.
And Ren Stevens was truly happy for the first time in her life.
Tawny had decided to go to Journalism early, in hopes of getting a chance to talk to the teacher or editor or whoever she needed to if she was to get out of the course.
The classroom was empty when she arrived. Not having anything better to do, she took a seat and pulled out a small, black hard-cover book, filled with blank pages. Her aunt had given it to her as a gift over the summer, saying that since Tawny didn't have any siblings, and didn't confide much in her friends, it would be practical for her to keep a journal. She'd been careful to use the word journal as opposed to diary, knowing Tawny would scoff at the thought of being such a stereotypical girl.
She opened to the first blank page and picked up her pen. Hesitant, she had no idea where to even begin, or what to write about even... she wasn't about to waste paper venting about Louis' seeming inability to grow up at all. And it seemed pointless to just write down the things that had really been bothering her lately. It's not like the book would answer her in anyway. It's not like it would offer consoling advice.
"Hey, Tawny," Ren glanced over at her brother's girlfriend as she entered the classroom a planned eight minutes early, preoccupied with sifting through lists of story ideas her sub-editors has submitted. "I didn't know you were interested in journalism."
"I'm not, really," Tawny replied as she closed her book. She got up from her seat and made her way to Ren's side. "I got put in here by mistake. I'm supposed to have photography, actually. I think the class filled or something. Anyway, do you know how I could switch out?"
"Oh, well, you'll need to talk to Mr. Zimmer about that, but you should stay. Give it a try, you might like it," Ren smiled, knowing she could use every extra hand she could find. "Plus, we have a darkroom too. And it's always less crowded than the art darkroom, and has color developing. Maybe you could work as one of our photographers? As long as you keep up, no one will mind if you use it for personal work too. It's a small staff so you'd have to write too, but it's really not that much work."
"I've heard it's an easy A," Tawny said, considering Ren's points. "Maybe I will give it a try."
The final lunch bell rang.
"You should," Ren nodded. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to sort out story ideas for the next issue before class starts, so…"
"Yeah, ok, thanks," Tawny nodded. As students began to file into the classroom, she returned to her seat by the window and waited for the syllabus to be passed her way. She put her journal back in her backpack, having added nothing to it.
The supervising teacher, Mr. Zimmer, gave a quick run through of the rules and a brief overview of proper writing styles for a newspaper before Ren stepped forward and began speaking.
"Hello, I'm Ren Stevens, many of you already know me, and those that don't I look forward to getting to know you and working with you this year. This year, things are going to be different at the Lawrence Daily Times. Many school papers focus too much on trivial stories about prom dresses and lunch menus—we're going to be writing about real things, things that actually matter. So, yes, prom will get its story in the spring but it's not going to be front-page. Front-page is going to be reserved for stories that need to be told. And there are plenty of stories here waiting to be told. You have to dig deep, find the truth and expose it. The students and faculty here have a right to know what's going on and it's out duty to report to them. Sports and A&E won't change much, but News will, and so will forums. The Forum section is for expressing your personal opinion on anything—but the forum stories that get printed will be the ones expressing opinions on important things, significant things. It's a place for you to share your thoughts with the entire student body and faculty, so use it wisely. Use it to tell us about something that really matters to you. If we all work together to accomplish this, if we all strive to dig as deep as we can for the stories waiting to be found, I know this year will be one of the greatest years in the history of the paper."
Everyone clapped, very perfunctory. Not that they didn't appreciate Ren Stevens and her gusto, but, they had more important things on their minds-- like parties and dates and that other thing that seemed to totally ellude Ren: fun.
Tawny grinned. Louis' sister had always perplexed her, though she'd never thought about her much.