A/N: So, I've been focused on the drama of these characters, but let's face it, they are meant to be in high school and homework is common.
Disclaimer: Still don't really own anything.
Shell-shocked did not begin to describe how Ned was feeling at the moment. It had been four days since his discussion with Suzie, two since he'd talked with Jennifer, and one since Grandma Emma had again told him things would turn out. The elderly woman had been the last of any of the three families to leave having departed on a flight just the previous afternoon.
Ned couldn't help but feel that his grandmother's instincts were off for his current situation. His talk with Suzie ended up as an awkward confessional that was only interrupted by Sascha coming to tell them the food was getting cold.
"…and I finally realized it after talking with my grandpa that…I'm in love with you…I don't need you to say it back, I just, needed to explain for why I was acting so weird…didn't want to come between you and Jen with my own stupid feelings…I'm sorry, Ned."
Jennifer again mentioned how she didn't want to ruin his friendship with Suzie and that maybe they should take a step back for the time being. Ned was left trying to explain to both girls that neither of his relationships with the other would badly affect his current friendship/relationship. They just, needed a system and maybe some ground rules. No talking about his dating relationship with his best friend and vice versa, for starters.
Neither girl had agreed with his terms, so Ned was again left single, but this time without his best female friend to cheer him up.
"They say chocolate heals all wounds," Mrs. Bigby said as she sat beside her son. She handed a mug to the teen and stared at the lightly frosted sidewalk. "Penny for your thoughts?" she asked as Ned shrugged. He focused on the mug of cocoa for a few minutes before turning to his mother.
"I just, I don't get it. Why can't I be friends with one girl and date another? Why is that so complicated?" Mrs. Bigby placed a hand on her son's shoulder. She hadn't been keeping up with Ned's relationship issues as much as her mother-in-law, but Ned had told her when he went from confused, but in a relationship with a girl he truly liked to single, a lot more confused, and slightly depressed.
"It's harder at your age I think," Mrs. Bigby began. "You're dealing with hormones and school, trying to figure out your future, it's a lot of pressure. Your emotions change a lot too. One day you'll feel like your life is over and there's nothing worth crawling out of bed for, the next, you feel like you could climb Mt. Kilimanjaro," Mrs. Bigby said with a wave of her hand. Ned shook his head.
"Mom, I don't think there will ever come a day when I will want to climb something that has 'kill a man' in its name." Mrs. Bigby just smiled and ruffled her son's hair affectionately. "So, it will get easier then, right?" His mom just nodded.
"Alright students, as you know, we have only a few weeks now until the end of the first semester," Mr. Valor announced to his fifth period class. "Now, I don't want any of you thinking I will be lightening the reading or any other assignments because of the coming holiday. Are we understood?" A general chorus of understanding sounded across the room. Valor gave a small grin and turned back to his white-board. Luckily, he failed to notice the squeak of terror that came from the back of his classroom.
"Guys, did you look at the syllabus?" Martin Squirrely asked of Cookie and Jeff. The two boys glanced to each other, the former shaking his head, the latter nodding. "Five chapters and an oral presentation along with the final test, is he nuts?" Martin tried to whisper. Jeff held a finger to his lips urging his friend to keep it down while Cookie simply nodded.
"There is a reason he's on our list for senior prank," Cookie replied. It was at that moment Valor turned back to face his students and directed a question, thankfully Cookie thought, to Martin.
"Now what year did all of this take place, Mr. Squirrely?" Martin gave another squeak of terror and glanced at the board.
"Uh, 1789, sir?" Martin replied. Shocked at the correct answer, Valor opened and closed his mouth several times before shaking his head and moving on with the lecture.
"That, was pure luck," Jeff said while Martin smiled. He soon grimaced as he again stared at the syllabus. This was going to be a lot of reading.
Mr. Valor was not the only teacher trying to cram in a group assignment before the holiday break. Ms. Farrell, Suzie and Lisa's speech instructor, was also making groups. Sets of two or three students were given a popular Christmas story, poem, or play. On the last two days before break, they would perform an excerpt for the class and relate it to the 'Elements of Voice.' Lisa and Suzie chose a scene from "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," even though Lisa had never heard of it.
"Well, see it's about a church Christmas program and how this family of misbehaved kids earn most of the main roles for the Navity, like Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, and shepherds," Suize explained to her partner as the girls brainstormed. "Um, there is a movie about it. Maybe we could rent it?" the brunette suggested. Lisa just shrugged in reply.
"Alright, but what's your schedule like? Student Council is doing some decorating for the charity basketball game on Thursday. Even though I'm just Class Secretary, I'm expected to help and attend," Lisa replied. Her friend nodded in reply. Dukakis High had held the game for only a few years now as a way to support community gift giving for those less fortunate. Attendees of the game were asked to bring new or slightly used toys and other gifts that would be distributed to families just before the holidays. In addition, Suzie knew she would be receiving an invite from Angela about a get-together for all the Wolves players. She hoped to unofficially announce next year's captain and of course see off all the graduating players, Angela herself included.
"I guess we'll have to aim for the weekend and brainstorm between now and then," Suzie replied. The girls decided to confirm their definitions for each element of Voice. By the time the bell rang, neither teen felt like they'd really accomplished much. Suzie was actually thankful the rest of the week would be mostly lectures as it was hard to plan something when the other person had no clue what you were talking about.
"Alright, we're going to start on the next chapter tomorrow, so glance at the vocab," Ms. Farrell said as the students gathered their things. Suzie gave Lisa a small nod as she left the classroom and headed towards her next class. The smaller girl caught up to her a moment later and nudged her elbow.
"You never told me how your weekend was," Lisa began as Suzie's eyes darted in hope of some escape. "Look, things were awkward at lunch, overly awkward. I don't think I've felt that out of place since I went with Simon and Ned to the comic store in the mall. You've been acting odd for a few weeks now and please, as your friend, can you tell me what's up?" Lisa asked. Suzie's shoulders sagged as she slowly exhaled. "Let me guess, it's complicated," Lisa suggested. The other brunette shook her head.
"No, just stupid really," Suzie replied. Lisa was about to ask for an explanation when the two saw Ned round the corner. Brief nods were exchanged, but the tension between the former friends was almost palpable.
"Hey, you wanna help decorate tomorrow afternoon? We could use all the help we can get," Lisa tried with a slight smile. Suzie nodded returning the gesture. "See you tomorrow." Suzie just nodded again heading for class.
By third period Tuesday morning, Billy Loomer fully realized why he hated high school. Throughout the previous day a rumor had spread that Bigby and Jennifer had gotten into a fight. He hadn't a clue how anyone had come upon this knowledge, but he'd dismissed it as pointless and unnecessary. Now, having been grouped with the couple and Suzie for-of all things-volleyball, Loomer felt it necessary to snap them out of their moods.
This was for a few reasons: first, they were losing, second, he hated losing, and third, the last shot had nearly hit him in the head and Jennifer could have easily spiked it at their opponents.
"Hey, how 'bout we take five?" Loomer called to the other team. A girl, a senior he didn't know the name of, stomped up to the net and glared at him.
"It's gym class, junior, we don't take five," she barked in a snippy tone. Loomer crossed his arms and glared down at the petite girl.
"You sure, cause it looks like you're sweating and sweat isn't attractive," he fired back. The girl reached a hand up to her forehead and glanced at her barely damp hand. She made a noise of disgust before calling back to her own team that they were taking five. "How grateful I am she's so vain," Loomer mumbled to himself returning to his own teammates. "Alright, who died?" he asked as three sets of eyes turned to him.
Ned glared before turning his gaze to Vain Barbie while Jen and Suzie alternated between glancing at the floor and ceiling. Sighing, Loomer decided to force his teammates to huddle. He easily yanked Ned over by the collar of his shirt before all but pushing the two girls to stand before him.
"Dude, personal space," Ned said again glaring as he tugged on his collar. Loomer returned the glare, pulled Ned down to a partial crouch, and gently pushed down on the girls' shoulders to form a huddle.
"What. Is going. On?" Loomer asked looking to each teen in turn. No response. "Look, I'm not going to say that I enjoy having a gym class with my ex-girlfriend, her now ex-boyfriend, and the girl that won't answer my calls for a month." Suzie looked most guilty at the statement, but tried to apologize with a look. "I don't care what stupid problem is up with you three, but I do care about losing when two supposedly awesome volleyball players are on my team and we're losing to mini-me over there." Loomer nodded toward the small senior girl who was dabbing herself with a paper towel. "Now, can we please move past personal issues and take her down?"
The other three teens glanced once more to their opponent before giving an affirmative response. Loomer gave a satisfied smile as they got into position. He even had to stifle a laugh when soon after Suzie spiked the ball at the other team and the senior girl shrieked to get out of the way.
"Lanie, this isn't dodgeball," one of her teammates chided. The girl just 'hmmfed' as Loomer gave Suzie a high five. Finally, she was smiling.
A/N: well, it's a major filler chapter & shorter than most others, but I needed someone to start the ball rolling on getting rid of the angst. In the series, Loomer and Seth always did a really great job of this, along with the Vice Principal whose name escapes me. W/ Seth severely to the wayside, I preferred to use Loomer.