Chapter Five: Tardy
"I'm sorry, Tiffany, but I will not accept nicknames. Ahem…Judy?"
Susan Pompoms grimaced, rolled her eyes, and banged her head on the desk. What was wrong with this teacher? Her way of running things was seriously ancient. She insisted on calling role every single day, completely refused to allow anyone the use of any nicknames, and Susan seriously suspected that if she could get away with it, she'd give detentions for improper posture.
The older woman peered over her thick glasses, scrolling down the seating chart she mandated upon them. "Elliot?"
Susan looked up from her desk at that, and stared at Elliot's just in front of her. To her considerable surprise, it stood empty. Elliot, absent? That just…didn't happen. Ever.
The teacher apparently thought along the same lines, because her tone was one of thorough shock. "Elliot Dunkel?"
Again there was no response, and the teacher was halfway toward grabbing her pen and marking him absent before the door swung open and a flushed-looking Elliot hurried in.
"I'm here, I'm here!" he assured the teacher, sitting down and grinning broadly like nothing at all was wrong.
The teacher gave him a disapproving look. "Young man, I expect better from you than tardiness!"
Elliot nodded happily. "I know, I'm sorry, Ms. Harding, I got stuck in traffic. Won't happen again."
"Yes, well, see that it doesn't," Ms. Harding said, and went back to calling role.
Susan, meanwhile, leaned forward to poke Elliot in the back. "Since when is there traffic at seven thirty in the morning?" she muttered.
"Heh…what can I say?" he responded with a suppressed, nervous chuckle. "It was a fluke morning."
Susan narrowed her eyes at the back of his head. "Not that you aren't a horrible liar anyway, but you must think I'm senile if you expect me to believe that."
Elliot waved it off with another unnerved laugh. "Really, it's the truth."
"Drop the act, Elliot, you were not stuck in traffic. You were making out with Sarah."
Elliot twitched involuntarily and looked slowly back at her. "W-what makes you say that?"
"You have a hickey on your neck."
Quick as a flash his hand bolted to cover the offending red mark just above and behind his left shoulder. "Ah…heh…I can explain that…"
"Spare me the sap story," Susan stopped him. "I'm a little more concerned about it making you late. And I'm guessing Sarah was late too. You never let that happen before. Ever."
"Can this wait 'til after class, maybe? I'd rather not get detention on top of a tardy."
Susan sighed in annoyance, but dropped it for the moment. Throughout the entire period she glared at the back of Elliot's head, only half-paying attention to the teacher's droning voice as she lectured them on the workings of the human circulatory system.
A long, tedious hour and a half later, the bell rang, ending first period, and Susan stalked right behind Elliot out the door, making sure he couldn't slip out without her.
"Well?" she probed.
Elliot glanced sideways. "Are you still on that? It's not a big deal," he said evasively. "Why do you care so much?"
"I don't. But you and Sarah should."
"It's just a tardy."
"It was almost an unexcused absence. Would you like to explain to your parents that you got an unexcused absence because you were too busy making out with your girlfriend?"
"Alright, so we were making out, but so what? Big deal!" he argued as he stopped at his locker and exchanged a few books. "So what if we lost track of time for a minute, one time? It was a fluke. Quit worrying about it."
"Ugh…fine," Susan relented. "As long as it's not the start of a pattern."
"It's not, don't worry!" Elliot assured her. "We're just…y'know…catching up on lost time from the fight."
Susan rolled her eyes. "Sometimes I'm glad I'm single…love makes people stupid."
"Har-har, very funny," Elliot threw back, smirking. "I'm going to class. See you at lunch."
He shut the door and stalked off to his next class, leaving Susan to stand by his locker staring curiously after him. He wasn't lying, not anymore…and his reasoning made sense, and he promised it wasn't the start of a pattern, and for his part, she believed him…and if she knew Sarah, the girl would calm down after a little while and things would get back to normal. Everything seemed right and sensible and logical.
…So why do I still get a weird feeling about it?
"Have you noticing anything…different…about Elliot and Sarah recently?"
"Mmm…nufink 'oo diffint…'y?"
"Chew and swallow, Tedd."
Tedd gulped down a mouthful of turkey sandwich and chased it with chocolate milk, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. "You were saying?"
Susan chose to ignore his less-than-sanitary manners for the moment. "I was asking if Elliot and Sarah seemed different to you."
Tedd shrugged. "I haven't noticed anything different…why?"
"Because we're sitting here talking about them when they're five feet away from us, and they're not hearing a word we say because they're too busy swooning over each other."
Tedd turned from Susan to look at the couple in question. Indeed, neither Elliot nor Sarah seemed to be aware that their friends were talking about them, or that they were even sitting there at all. They were squeezed close together on the bench, foreheads resting against each other as they whispered and giggled to themselves and stole quick little kisses every few seconds.
"Ugh…I'm gonna hurl…" Susan grunted.
"So they're a little…extra affectionate," Tedd said. "It's not unusual. They just made up two days ago. Let 'em enjoy being okay again."
"It's disgusting," Susan countered. "At least before now they kept the sappy stuff private. Now they're all over each other no matter where they are."
"Like I said, they were hating each other's guts for a good couple of days. That's a lot of unused sap building up. I'm sure they'll be back to normal after they spend it all."
"They'd better…'cause they're seriously pushing my tolerance level of Public Display of Affection."
"Oh, stop being a grump, you're not the one who got grounded for a week," Tedd said as he stuffed another chunk of sandwich in his mouth. "T'y an' 'ee 'appy fo' 'em."
"Do that again and I'm going to shove that whole sandwich down your throat and choke you with it."
Tedd simpered. "…'oint 'aken…er…opff…fowy…"
Susan only rolled her eyes and glanced back at the other two, who were now whispering rather excitedly, and Susan was pretty sure she heard the words 'broom closet' somewhere in the exchange. A second later the couple stood hand in hand, Sarah tugging Elliot's arm playfully.
"We're gonna take off, guys," Elliot announced as she pulled him away from the table, waving. "Later!"
They were gone in moments, leaving Susan to stare suspiciously after them. There was something different there, alright…she didn't know if it was a good different or a bad different, but it was there…and unlike Tedd, she wasn't so sure it could all be chalked up to built-up affections. Something else was going on…
God, he loved kissing her.
His back was up against the far corner of the tiny broom closet, his hands firmly latched around Sarah's waist and holding her close to his body. Her hands were slipped around his neck and up into his hair, delicate fingers running through the dark auburn strands that he made sure to take extra good care of, because he knew she loved to run her hands through it just like she was doing now. Her own hair was splashed over her shoulders, the bright blonde a stark contrast to his own, but no less beautiful; and the skin of her arms sliding along his neck was like a silk scarf wrapping itself around him and making him feel like he held royalty in his arms.
Of course, none of this he really noticed at that particular moment, because he was far too occupied by the feel of her lips mingling with his. At first they had been the gentler, more tender kisses he was used to, that they'd generally always shared. But just like she had two nights ago after the lab accident, the kisses grew deeper, longer, more intense, the longer their embrace held. Which was quite a while.
It was such new territory to Elliot; never territory that he minded exploring, not at all, but new nonetheless. It was entirely different from kissing Nanase, at the very least. There had been something lacking with her. He hadn't known what it was then, but he knew now that some level of passion had always been absent there. He knew it because it was far from absent in Sarah's kisses. It was downright electric with her, and her lips were just so red and full and…and was that cherry lip balm he tasted? God he loved that…
Somewhere in a distant part of his mind, he became aware that the bell was ringing for the end of lunch. It'd be about five minutes before it rang again and made them late for class, so reluctantly he broke the kiss, which briefly made her whimper like a hurt puppy.
"I know, I know," Elliot said, just as disappointed, "but we really gotta go to class, we were already late once today…"
Sarah made a pretend-whining sound. "I hope you're not saying you'd rather go to class than stay here with me," she said playfully.
"Not even a little," Elliot assured her. "But we still have to go, or Susan's gonna get on our case about it again."
"You too? How'd she know?"
He rubbed a bit nervously at the reddened hickey mark on his neck. "She noticed your little present…heh…"
"Aww, she just wishes she had one," Sarah giggled.
Elliot smiled back. "Okay, now we really have to go."
"I know…" she murmured sadly.
"Hey, c'mon, it's only two more periods and then we're home free. We can spend the whole rest of the day together if you want."
Sarah's mood shifted quickly at that prospect, and she smiled broadly at him. "That sounds like a great way to spend a Monday."
"I thought so too," Elliot said back, his hands rubbing her hips still, which she seemed to really like. She eventually drew back, though, to turn to the door.
"Well…see you after school, then," she said, hand on the knob.
"Oh, hey, wait!" Elliot suddenly stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. "I almost forgot…I wanna ask you something."
She turned back to him eagerly. "What is it?"
Elliot took a long breath. "Well…y'know how the Random Dudes are in town this Saturday on their concert tour?"
Sarah nodded, grinning. "Oh, I LOVE the Random Dudes, they're my favorite band!"
Elliot smiled. "Yeah…I know." He reached slowly into his jacket pocket and drew out two cards of laminated paper. "That's why I got these."
Sarah's expression was blank for a handful of heartbeats, and for a brief moment he wondered if perhaps she hadn't quite heard him. But then her eyes went wide and her voice filled with excitement as she stared at the words on the cards.
"You got BACKSTAGE PASSES to the Random Dudes?!"
Elliot nodded. "That I did."
Sarah marveled at them. "Elliot, these must've cost a fortune!"
Elliot waved it off. "Aww, it wasn't that bad…I've been saving up for it."
Sarah's eyes sparkled. "This is really for real?!"
Elliot grinned, slipping them back into his pocket. "Mmhmm. You, me, and the band. Saturday night. Ten O'clock. What do you say?"
"I say it's a date!" she squealed, and leapt into his arms again and bumped him into a stack of brooms and he almost stumbled into the mop bucket, but he didn't care. Seeing her smiling face was so worth it.
Elliot gasped. "Crap, we're late again!"
Sarah gasped too and hopped off him. They hurried out of the cramped closet together, rushing hand-in-hand down the hall toward their classes, and skidded to a momentary stop just outside the door to Elliot's.
He squeezed Sarah's hand briefly. "I'll meet you right outside after school, 'kay?"
"Kay," she breathed, and gave him a quick smack on the lips. "Love you!"
"Love you too!" he called as she hurried off, and he ducked into his own classroom, and very nearly managed to successfully sneak into his seat unnoticed before the teacher paused from scribbling the quadratic formula on the board to look out at the class, caught him, and gave him another tardy.
Comments and critiques welcomed and appreciated, as always.