Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective owners. This story is for entertainment purposes only. I borrowed a bit of the dialogue from the movie but it's not 100% accurate.

"A Change of Pace"

Like the rest of the kids in school, Shelley used to be afraid of Ricky Linderman. She believed in the rumors: that he killed a kid, he raped a teacher, and other such violent acts. But it would take the persistence of the new (well, former new) guy, Clifford Peache to help realize that the dangerous Linderman wasn't so dangerous and that he was actually a good and decent guy who didn't like violence unless someone he cared about was getting hurt.

"Where's Clifford?" she asked as she walked her bicycle alongside Ricky's motorbike down the familiar pathway through the park. Summer vacation was fast approaching, and the late afternoon heat was gradually cooling down. Under normal circumstances, wherever Linderman was, so was Clifford. They were best friends and where one guy was, the other was surely a step behind. They worked good together.

"Him and his grandma are visiting his mom's grave," Ricky answered after a moment of silence. "He'll be back tomorrow."

"Gotcha." She looked down at her fingers wrapped around her handle bars. She suddenly felt so nervous being alone with him. It wasn't because they were alone for the first time, but it was her lingering feelings for the boy that made her stop.

Meanwhile Linderman walked on for a few more moments until he stopped and noticed her lack of pace. Looking over his shoulder, he gave her a strange look.

"What?" he asked.

"Can I ask you something?" She lifted her eyes and gazed over at him. She studied his hard features, his narrow eyes, and almost forgot what she wanted to say.

He said nothing, and she realized he must be waiting for her to continue.

"This Saturday, there's this… well, there's this movie…"

Suddenly she heard Melvin Moody's voice emerge from her memories.

"Hey, Shelley. Do you want to go to the movies?"

She felt her heart soar in her chest. Finally, this was her chance! "I guess so. Sure!"

He grinned at her and played it cool as he casually, but cruelly replied, "Okay, have a good time while you're there."

Crestfallen, she fought back the urge to cry and show disappointment to the guy who was constantly putting her down or ignoring the pleasant gestures she did for him.

Moody was good with manipulating people. No matter how nice she treated him, he always either brushed her off or treated her like crap. There was never a middle ground with him, and she was always hurt in the end. She'd always laugh it off later, vowing to somehow get him to really notice her. But deep down, it pained her immensely, knowing that he seemed to get away with everything yet at the same time still be so enticing. But Linderman was different; even though he was the biggest kid in school and he was unquestionably tough, he didn't flaunt himself in front of everybody. He was so sincere with his feelings and while he wasn't as gorgeous as Moody, it was his personality and his morals, and that he stood up to bullies, that made him much more appealing to her. The more she hung out with him, the more she wanted to be with him. Plus, he didn't talk as much as Moody and it was nice to get a word in edge-wise during a conversation.

"So... do you wanna go to the movies with me, Ricky?"

Linderman was silent. She looked down at her handlebars, as if finding some renewed fascination with them, but really she was afraid of seeing his reaction to her asking him out. She couldn't bear to be rejected again - not again and especially not from someone like Linderman.

Lifting her eyes, she saw Ricky towering over her, as he'd brought himself and his bike over to her without making a sound. He wasn't too close to her, but at the same time it was the closest they've ever stood together. Normally they had Clifford with them or Carson or one of the other guys. Now it was just the two of them.

"What movie?" Ricky asked casually, his hardened features brightening for the first time.

Pleasantly surprised, Shelley had a feeling that this time around, things would work out for her.