Okay, so totally new territory for me. I totally had a crush on Tawny when I was younger (my type, you see ) and I just got in the mood one day to write this little number. Obviously, it's been a long time since I've seen the series and some facts may not be completely correct, but allow me a little creative license. Now from the first chapter is meant to be ambiguous, it's really just a precursor to some other ideas working in my head for later chapters. In short, this isn't my best work, but later chapters will be much better I promise. Anyone who knows my Marimite fic, never fear, the last chapter is in the works.

Standard disclaimers apply, and please review with any suggestions on plot or other material to write fiction on. Thanks!



Strange and Beautiful – Chapter One

I have a story. It's not a very typical story, but it is a love story. It's not a once-upon-a-time, and there are no princes, princesses, kissing frogs, or evil witches. It's by no means your ordinary love story, but then again, I'm not really an ordinary girl.

It's a strange thing, how two people from completely different worlds get drawn together by something they can't explain.

Strange, but beautiful too.

I begin in High School. First day, take three. I'm finally an upperclassman, and it's all the usual shit. I can already tell that I'm going to hate Physics, and math is just as boring as ever. And for the love of God, how many times can they cram American history down our throats? The only bright spots are my English and Creative Writing classes, but by the end of the day I can already tell that it's going to be a very, very long year.

I step outside into the bright afternoon sunlight. It's an unnaturally hot California day, and I'm starting to regret my jeans and long sleeved black shirt ensemble. I push my hair off my neck for a moment of air, and look around the emptying school grounds.

I see my two best friends Louis and Twitty sitting on the steps near the main entrance, and walk over to join them. It was just yesterday that we were lounging at Twitty's house, watching re-runs of The Office and doing absolutely nothing. What a difference a day makes.

"Hey Tawny," say Louis and Twitty, almost in unison.

"Hello, boys," I reply dryly and drop my black bag on the sidewalk, enjoy the audible thud it makes on the concrete steps.

"Ooh, moody I see," Louis comments. "Bad day?"

I sit between the two boys and heave a dramatic sigh. "My advisor told me that I need to join more extracurricular activities if I want to get into a decent college."

Twitty's eyes widen. "She said that?"

"Not in those exact terms," I admit," she also said I should try in other classes besides English. But that is the condensed version of an otherwise pointless 20 minute meeting."

"Harsh," Louis comments. "I once thought about doing that, but an extracurricular would seriously cut into my much-needed goofing off time."

Twitty laughs. I roll my eyes.

"But in all seriousness," Louis says, trying to stop laughing, "you do like writing and stuff, right? You should probably do something with that."

"Good idea," Twitty chimes in. "Like the school newspaper. They're always looking for fresh meat."

Louis opens a Coke, although I have no doubt he doesn't need either the caffeine or the sugar. "There you go, Tawn."

"Never mind the fact that the school paper is currently the anarchic domain of your older sister," I remark dryly.

"Don't let the perfect one scare you," Louis takes a long pull from the Coke, then a mischievous grin crosses his face. "In fact, I bet you could take her on if you wish. You know, girl power and such."

Twitty looks at Louis, confused. "What? Now you're talking crazy, dude."

"They've got like, totally different personality styles, and they're both really hard-headed. It'll make for hours of entertainment. Personally, I'd be rooting for Tawn. The Queen's gotta be dethroned one of these days."

I look incredulously at Louis, not quite believing my ears.

"You've got to be kidding me."

Louis laughs again. "Mostly, yeah. But still, you should go for it, if you can get past Ren's holier-than-the-pen attitude I'm sure you'd get some excellent extracurricularin' out of it." I cringe at Louis' misuse of the two adages, and Twitty just shakes his head.

"Dude, that's not even a word."

Louis turns. "I'm aware of that Twitty, okay? But come on, let's encourage our journalist here."

I groan inwardly. It was actually a good idea, though I'm not that receptive to taking advice from Louis Stevens. As good a friend as he was, his motives weren't always the purest, and he's always had a penchant for laughing at other's expense. But of course, it had always been that way.

Join the school paper. As much as I don't want to do it, the only other option at this point was the gymnastics team, and I sure as hell wasn't going to give anyone in this school that pleasure. I sigh deeply, and shrug her shoulders.

"Alright then. School paper it is."

I pick up my bag, stand. "I guess I'm going to go talk Ren, then."

I hear Louis' voice as I retreat back to the school: "Dude, was that clever or what? I'm so going to be scoring this year; the ladies won't know what hit them."

I walk faster.

I've never actually been to the newspaper office, in fact, I barely know where it is. I make a lucky guess that it must be near the main office, and happen to see the door marked "The Cougar Weekly" across the hallway. Good guess. I step inside.

"Can I help you," a small dark haired boy at one of the dark wood tables calls out, barely looking up from a Sudoku puzzle.

"Yeah," I shove my hands in pockets out of habit. "I'm here to see Ren Stevens for a position here at the paper."

The boy raises one hand, points down a narrow hallway. "Around the corner, at the very end. She should be there."

I don't bother saying thanks; the boy is already engrossed in his Sudoku once again.

I make my way to the editor's office, dodging people with cameras, stepping around the chairs of those pounding away on their keyboards. I find the door to her office open, and leaning over the desk is a tall, brown haired boy. Ren is sitting at the desk in the editor's office, poring over some paper, a red felt tip pen in her right hand, poised over the page, ready to make any necessary corrections.

Ren Stevens. The very picture of perfection. Her grades are impeccable; she's organized, neat and tidy. She has her life in order, no doubt already thinking about which schools she wants to go to. The Ivy Leagues, perhaps? Yale, Harvard? Or something closer to home, like USC or Stanford?

I feel, unexpectedly, a little bit intimidated. It's not as if she's a stranger, my years of friendship with Louis allowed me some exposure to the girl. Not that we were friends. First name basis, nods of acknowledgement in the supermarket was really as far as it went. I found her pretentious, a perfectionist, and I'm sure she saw me as the sarcastic little Emo girl who used to date her brother. The thought makes me laugh inside. I knock on the door frame.

She looks up. "Hello?" She pauses a moment, does a double take. Her eyes, for only a moment, flash the 'what are you doing here' sentiment, but she recovers quickly.

"Oh, hey Tawny. What did Louis do this time?" She's wearing a red tank top and jeans, with black-rimmed glasses. Red is really her color.

"Actually, I came here to talk to you."

She finally puts the red felt pen down. "Okay, no problem. Come in. This is Peter, he's the assistant editor and one of our opinion columnists."

"Hi," he raises a hand in greeting.


I realize that I'm still standing outside her door, and I step inside.

"Sorry about the lack of chairs," the Peter says, "whenever the main office is running low chairs mysteriously disappear from here."

"That's okay," I say, setting my bag on the ground. "I was wondering if you needed any more help here on the staff, my counselor thought it would be a good idea to get some writing experience for college."

"Actually, yes!" says Peter "Two of the underclassmen just quit. Do you have any experience?"

"Nothing formal, but I'm a good writer, I could pick it up quickly."

Peter claps his hands together. "Wonderful! One issue: resolved. What do you think Ren?"

She looks a little blindsided, and for a second she just blinks at me.

"Umm...yeah. That's good. Welcome aboard, Tawny."

"Actually, our beginning of the year meeting is going to be right now, so if you want to sit in you'd get all the information you need," Peter explains as Ren stands and moves around the desk.

We walk back to the main room, where several other people are talking, lounging, or working on homework, waiting for the meeting to start. Ren makes her way to the front of the room, and claps her hands loudly. The talking continues, so I display a little known talent by bringing my fingers up to my mouth and let out a loud, long, piercing whistle.

Ren just looks at with these wide eyes. What is that look?

"Hello, everyone. I'm Ren Stevens, most of you know me already. This year, we want the Cougar Weekly to be something that we can all be proud of. Our budget has been expanded this year, so we're really going to get a chance to spread our wings and see what we're capable of."

Someone at the back starts humming "Wind Beneath My Wings" and a few snickers emit from the crowd.

Ren looks unfazed. "Thanks for that. But in all seriousness, we're understaffed right now, which means some of you are going to be doing assignment you don't want to do, but if you can learn to compromise then I'm sure we can all work something out. Okay, then. Newbies this year: Marcus Fielding, Ben Gilleland, and Tawny Dean. Newbies, if I assign something to you, then you write your article on that, if not, think of your job as a freelance. You can write about what you want, and if I like it I'll print it. The rest of you know the drill, write what's assigned to you, submit all articles to me Thursday morning by eight, new assignments by Friday afternoon. That should be about it." She turns to Peter. "Anything to add, Peter?"

"Just that we're getting a new printer soon, so be patient with the old one."

Ren nods, looks around. "Questions?" Silence. "Okay, then. Dismissed."

I heft my bag over my shoulder. Maybe this won't be so bad.


Okay, so that sucked. Give it time, though, I promise it'll get better.