A/N: Hello, all! So this is the beginning of several one-shots in the lives of Link and Tracy; I decided that it would be better to keep them all in one place, rather than having lots and lots of one-offs. They take place in the same universe as "Affirmation", "Waiting for Tracy", and even to some extent "Two Way Street", but each occurs during a different time frame. This first one is on the silly side, but they'll range in genre from chapter to chapter.
Reviews would be absolutely fabulous, as they are what encourages me to write. Super secretly, since I'm a huge dork, I tend to re-re-re-read my old reviews when I need inspiration for new stuff. Heehee.
As much as Link Larkin hated and was disgusted by the fact that people tended to ostracize Tracy for her weight, the whole situation came with a few perks attached. For one thing, it meant that he got to be her first: first kiss, first boyfriend, first everything. He was hyper-aware that no one had ever touched her romantically before him, that no one had ever trailed their hands over her softness and worshipped her before him. And that made everything so much more pure, so much more perfect than it had ever been before.
It meant that her social life – outside of the Corny Collins show and spending time with Penny and Seaweed – was not going to be so filled to bursting that their dates had to be scheduled two weeks in advance. If he decided to drop in on her unexpectedly, nine times out of ten he would be met with a blissfully surprised smile and be ushered into her home.
It also meant that he didn't have to worry about protecting his girl from unwanted advances. Seeing Tracy's unconventional beauty took a special sort of eye to appreciate. Though it was unfortunate in some ways that no young man had ever approached her, Link couldn't help but be grateful that there was little chance of ever needing to enforce his claim over her.
At least, that was what he had thought before the Miss Teenage Hairspray Competition.
It had been only natural that, after the grand finale of the pageant, both Inez and Tracy had skyrocketed to high school fame and glory. Hordes of fans – black, white, it didn't seem to matter – had swarmed both girls on their first day back after the broadcast, and after two weeks they didn't seem to be letting up. Every day between classes, both girls were pestered six ways to Sunday to show the crowd their hot new dance moves. Link would watch with affection, slightly surprised in the beginning at the sheer relief he felt at not being in the spotlight. Now that he was guaranteed Tracy's attention, no one else's seemed to matter as much as it once had.
As much as their relationship was exciting and new, there was another aspect to it. Something deep and warm and comfortable, like the embrace of a person you had known for a very long time. After only two weeks, Tracy knew him better than practically anyone else in his life – and he was having the time of his life learning all about her.
Link had half-expected Amber to kick up some sort of fuss in the wake of her very public humiliation, but no sort of confrontation had ever arose. The ex-queen bee was neither vindictive nor especially friendly after the pageant; instead, she seemed to be perpetually confused at some unknown mystery. Inexplicably, this new Amber spent a great deal more of her time staring with determined confusion into nothing than gossiping with her former friends. The results were pleasant enough, though: after second break yesterday, she had shot both of them a rather dazed but genuine grin for no apparent reason.
But as happy as Link was that his little lady was finally getting the attention she deserved, with the public's renewed interest in his girl, Link was concerned about an unexpected problem coming to surface. And in third period History, it became very clear to the slick-haired teen that such a problem had arisen in the form of Bobby Miller.
Link supposed he couldn't blame Bobby Miller for falling head over heels for Tracy after seeing her dance at the Miss Teenage Hairspray Pageant – after all, he had fallen for her, too. All-dolled up in that chequered dress with her hair swishing around her; as far as Link was concerned, it was a miracle he didn't have to fight off half the male population of Baltimore. But surely the other boy had witnessed his and Tracy's on-screen kiss, must know that she was off the market – they hadn't exactly tried to be discreet. No: this guy was trying to edge in on his girl, and he needed to be chased off.
Since the brown-haired boy sat one row ahead of him, Link had a clear view of him all throughout History class. From start to finish, he watched the boy in question send simpering look after simpering look at the back of Tracy's head. Bobby gazed dreamily at her swishy black hair, not taking a single note or ever asking a question. Link was almost sure he had heard the other boy sigh at one point.
It had to be dealt with – immediately.
He covertly sent Tracy a note containing a cheerful fib about having some work to finish up after class, suggesting that she leave with Seaweed for the show's taping instead of wait for him. Kids who were on the Council were excused from having a final class of the day, and a bus always came to pick up those without transportation to the studio. When the bell rang, she shot him a smile as she walked out the door, waving the piece of paper to indicate that she had received his message. He smiled back, making a show of taking a long time to pack up his supplies. He waited forty seconds after she left the room, and then proceeded stealthily to the hallway where he knew Bobby Miller's locker was located.
Link sized him up as he fumbled with his books. Objectively, Bobby was actually quite a handsome guy – albeit on the short side and with rather lacklustre hair. But still, he was respectable-looking. He felt a sudden swell of pride at the sort of fella his girl was reeling in, but squelched that sentiment down. What he was about to do would require a decided lack of compassion.
"Hey, Bobby my boy!" Link called across the hall, his tone of voice a good impression of affable.
Bobby's whole body seemed to seize up; he spun around to face the call, dropping The Wonders of Mathematics: Volume II on his foot in the process.
"L-Link Larkin?" the tussle-haired boy asked in disbelief, apparently shocked that the most popular boy in school was not only talking to him, but seemed to know his name. A look of panic crossed over his face, but was quickly replaced with a carefully nonchalant expression. He cleared his throat to hide the stutter, and then began again in a smoother, less-squeaky voice.
"Oh, hey there Link. What's happenin'?"
The two sharp blasts of the late bell rang shrilly throughout the school. There were very few people left in the hall now, only a few stragglers darting hastily into their classrooms. Bobby looked momentarily concerned about being late, but seemed to decide that concern was uncool and resumed his nonchalant expression.
Link stepped across the now-empty hall and stopped about a foot and a half away from the brown-haired boy. He really was quite short, part of his brain mused idly. Link was by no means a giant, but seemed to tower over him nonetheless.
"Well," Link started in a flippant tone. "I noticed you looking at that girl today – Tracy, is it?" At her name, Bobby's eyes glazed over slightly. "You like her?"
"Oh, yes, Link. I sure do!" he exclaimed. "I saw her dancin' on the Corny Collins pageant – well, most of it, I had to take care of my baby sister at the end – and she was amazing! She's got these big brown eyes, and she looks like the perfect little bundle to cuddle up… to..." At Link's raised eyebrow he trailed off, then coughed again. "I mean, yeah, she's swell."
"Oh, really?" Link asked, trying very hard indeed to not show how close to laughing he was.
Bobby nodded, but then looked slightly confused.
"Say, why are you askin', Link?"
He felt a surge of empathy – if rather amused empathy – at the scruffy-haired kid staring up at him all eager. Why, the guy hadn't seen his and Tracy's finale kiss on the show, and he didn't seem like the sort to be highly connected on the rumour mill. He probably didn't even know that Trace was taken – and Link could hardly hate the guy for liking her. After all, she was the perfect little bundle to cuddle up to.
Still, a friendly warning couldn't hurt.
"Well," Link said carefully. "It just so happens that Ms. Turnblad and I are goin' steady."
At his words Bobby's smile fell off his face in record time, and all of the blood seemed to drain from his face at once.
"Now then." Link tapped the shorter boy lightly on the shoulder with his fingertips. He crashed backwards into the lockers as though he had been shoved. Internally, Link grinned: it wasn't very often that he got to play the tough guy, with his slim dancer's frame and pretty face.
"Now then," he said again. "You seem like a nice guy, but it's my job to protect little Miss Tracy, and she just doesn't need to be unnecessarily confused or concerned over something like this." Bobby's eyes were comically wide as he spoke. "So, despite your excellent taste in women –" Link shot him a typical Larkin Grin, "—I'm gonna have to ask you to let it go this time, okay?"
Bobby nodded shakily.
"Excellent." Link removed his fingers from the other boy's shoulder. Once the touch was gone, it was like he was free from some sort of imprisonment. He started gathering his books together erratically.
"Sorry, Link – I mean Mr. Larkin – I mean. Um. I'm just gonna – it won't happen again."
And with that, Bobby Miller grabbed The Wonders of Mathematics: Volume II off of his foot and sped off down the hallway.
Link chuckled, smoothing the sides of his carefully sculpted hair with the palms of his hands. He closed and locked Bobby's locker since the other boy had forgotten -- because really, there was no need to be mean about the whole thing – and began to walk toward his Cadillac, hands in his pockets and whistling "You Belong to Me" cheerfully to the empty hallway.