Sam chewed aggressively on her gum as she walked down the hall away from her history class, affording a trashcan that stood in her path a kick. She was not in a good mood, and also very bored. One lethal combination.
Carly had been giving her the cold shoulder ever since the beginning of the school day. Honestly, it wasn't entirely Sam's fault that the paper she lent her went missing. Sam didn't know that she had a hole the size of China in the side of her backpack, so not only was Carly's paper missing, but the book that Sam had borrowed without notification to the library was gone as well.
And she was just getting into it!
She ducked to the side of a row of lockers as she saw one of the Audio Visual nerds coming her way, and wondered, not for the first time, why all of Freddie's geek friends thought it was a good idea to take up the supreme role as hall monitors. They were disliked enough as it was, no need to add more vitriol against themselves.
She continued her trek down the abandoned hall as soon as she saw that the coast was clear and swiped her bangs away from her head as she peered in a mostly-empty classroom that served as a few students' sixth period study hall. Freddie was seated where she thought she would find him; at the front of the class near the blackboard, hunched over a textbook like the good little student he was. Only, he was not the only one leaning over his desk to look at the book. Valerie was there, also, in her light spring dress and purple cardigan, grinning in Freddie's face as her finger traced words on the pages.
Her lips were moving and Freddie looked like he was trying to stifle a laugh, lightly grasping her wrist and shaking his head as he repeated the words back to her.
Sam rolled her eyes and kicked open the classroom door, and then scowled at the heads that came up to peer questioningly at her.
"J'aime spaghetti et boulettes de viande."
"Valerie, so nice to see you again for the third time today," Sam greeted, cutting into her and Freddie's conversation.
"Oh. Hi, Samantha." Valerie sat back in her seat and rolled her eyes toward two girls before smiling saccharinely at Sam. The two girls, as far as Sam knew, were also on the cheerleading squad Valerie was on, was maybe as dumb as a sack of bricks, and were the brunette's lackeys. In other words, completely irrelevant. Not that Valerie was in any way relevant.
Not that Sam cared about Valerie.
Freddie, on the other hand, looked up at her in surprise, his brows shooting upwards to his hairline. "Sam! I thought that you had class with Carly this period."
"You thought right, Fredward," she replied and leaned against the edge of a desk, the gum popping in her mouth.
A smirk slowly formed on Freddie's lips. "Skipping again?"
"I wouldn't say again, seeing as how it's kind of an ongoing thing. It never stops."
"I see. So, why are you here and not roaming around outside the school like you usually do?"
"There's a such thing as too fresh air. I know, shocking." She sighed and drummed her fingers against her thighs. "I am so sick of Carly right now."
"You know, Sam, she never did anything wrong except be angry with you."
"And that's the thing. I tell her it's not entirely my fault, and it's like she just doesn't want to listen. I don't understand how she can still be so ticked off at me. What's the worst that could happen to her? Going down a grade letter?"
"And it's kind of a big deal. You're the only one who doesn't care about grades."
"'Come on, Freddie…" Sam shook her head. "It's not worth giving up on—"
"As much as I'd hate to disrupt your riveting conversation, Freddie," Valerie interrupted, apprehensive smile on her face. "I still need help with my French."
"She's right, Sam. I… you know, tutoring." Freddie shrugged and turned around in his seat, away from Sam.
"That's right, tutoring," Valerie unhelpfully added. "So run along now, and maybe get back to class before you completely fail junior year."
The two girls tittered and Sam narrowed her eyes, leaning close to her. "You can stick your French up your a—"
"J'aime spaghetti avec des boulettes de viande," Freddie said to Valerie and shot Sam a disproving look. "See what I did there? The third word had a silent letter."
Valerie flipped her hair over her shoulder and placed her hand over Freddie's. "Not quite, but I'd like to take you for some… boulettes de viande."
Sam couldn't help but laugh when Freddie's eyes opened as wide as saucers as he began spluttering, and she smirked at the stricken look across Valerie's face. "Smooth," she said before rising from her seat. She ignored the glare Valerie and her cronies sent her and patted Freddie's back as she leaned into his personal space. "Meet me on the field after you're done with this chick and her bimbettes. We have stuff to discuss."
Valerie's jaw literally hit the floor and before Sam slipped out of the classroom, she heard Freddie consolingly say, "Don't mind her. She's just Sam."
::: ::: ::: :::
The clouds broiled overhead and wind gusted, fanning wild hair across her face, and Sam growled before looking down at the notebook she held in her lap. She scratched out a few words with the tip of her pencil and continued writing beneath the marred line, resolute about completing this task, and at the same time ticked off that she had a task to do. Seriously, what happened to regular detentions and spankings with rulers?
Sam cringed. Okay, the ruler thing could be marked out.
She looked up at the shout of her name and had to stifle a smile at the sight of Freddie running toward the bleachers from halfway across the field, bag askew across his chest. She also had to suppress a weird feeling of yearning in her chest, swallowing it down until she could breathe again.
According to Sam, the affection was horribly misplaced. There's no way she could have a crush on Freddie. There was just something wrong with the planet and moon's alignment, or something. The positions must have been off for months.
"Sam, hey," Freddie panted, stopping to an abrupt halt. "What's up? What did you want to talk about?"
And then he smiled and Sam felt like smiling back, but she settled instead on growling to herself. She barely gave him a second's breather before thrusting her notebook at him.
He clutched it to his chest and adjusted his bag, giving her a confused look. "What's this for?"
"Freddie," she said and gave him a deadpan look, brushing her hair away from her face. She could see realization blossoming on his expression, and she steeled herself for the argument.
"Oh, no, Sam. No," he shook his head and held the notebook toward her.
"But, Freddie, you're so good at it and I can barely think of what to write, so could you just do this one thing for me? Please?"
"Sam, this is your scene to write."
"Please?" she pleaded, pouting her lips so far down her face that she had to spare a thought of how cool it'd be if her expression got stuck that way.
He looked to be considering her for a moment before shaking his head. "Not gonna work; you have the worst puppy-dog eyes in the world."
"Please," she whined and batted her eyes for a good measure, and chuckled when she noticed him giving in. "Thanks, Freddie."
"Whatever. But I only do this until the end of the period."
"Okay." She shrugged and followed him up the steps.
"That means that if I'm not done, then you have to write the rest yourself."
"That's totally fine," she lied, took a seat next to him on the bench at the top of the bleachers. She gave him a few minutes' time of rewriting the lyrics in the notebook, and then smirked at him. "So, stud muffin, I see you're trying to aim for the queen of the cheerleading squad."
"No, I'm not trying to get with her," Freddie replied, biting the end of the pencil between smiling lips.
"She asked you out on a date in that stupid French way."
"Uh… no. We were going over what she needed help with, actually."
"Freddie, she asked you on a date," she retorted, maybe a little too sharply.
"Oh," he said, his eyes going wide and something like delight changing his expression. "I didn't know."
Sam made a disgusted sound and leaned farther back, turning her scowl away from him. "I don't know what you see in her, anyway."
"Okay, Sam, what is wrong with you now? Not enough bacon this morning?"
Try a bit too much Valerie soup, Sam thought. She didn't answer Freddie and he soon turned his gaze away from her and went back to the lyrics.
"Anyway," he added a minute later. "She asked me if she could be in the play."
She gave him an incredulous look and waited for him to return her attention before saying, "Tell her no."
He scoffed and shook his head. "I can't just do that. We do need someone else to fill the role of the woman who makes out with the Englishman."
"There's always Carly."
"No," she said. "You don't get it. Valerie is an attention seeker. She stops at absolutely nothing to be seen and heard. She's a complete life-ruiner and she'll screw everything up."
"She can be kind of abrasive, but deep down inside, she's sort of a nice person."
"She spits acid, and the final answer is no."
Freddie narrowed his eyes at her before violently tapping the pencil against the notebook settled in his lap. "You don't run the play, Sam, so you don't get final answer."
She gaped. "Fine! How about I call Carly, and ask her about her opinion on this matter, because I'm absolutely sure that she's the last person we need in order to make decisions." Sam pulled her phone out and began dialing Carly's number, but Freddie swiped it out of her hands. She gave him a murderous look.
He returned the stare. "There's no need for all of this."
"And why is that? Oh, yeah! Because Carly also hates Valerie, much like the rest of the female population in the world. Can you guess which direction her vote is going to lean?" When Freddie only continued to stare at her with pursed lips and furrowed brows, Sam took a deep breath and let it out. She stood up and brushed the seat of her pants off. "You want to be with a complete social climber? Fine. Just don't expect a shoulder from me when you get caught up in the fame and glory and become a shell of yourself."
"When have I ever expected a shoulder from you, honestly, out of all people?"
She crossed her arms and looked away, and had to admit that he was kind of right. Freddie had never shown himself to be a person who needed to seek solace in anyone. He was strong-willed, independent, and as much as Sam hated to think it, really good at being completely in charge of whatever he found his main focus on. It was kind of endearing in a really big way, and Sam pulled a face.
But still, the last thing she wanted was Valerie anywhere near the vicinity of Freddie. It was a friend thing; she would do it for Carly, as well, if her best friend were setting her sights on a complete douche. "She'll tear you into pieces."
"Not unless you do it first. I mean, just the thought of me and Valerie dating makes you look absolutely dangerous. I can't imagine how you'd be if Valerie and I were to actually start going out," he said, and Sam nostrils flared in anger, but his tugging on her arm made her expression soften. He gave her a lopsided smile. "Come on, sit down."
She took his command, leaned into him briefly before wrapping her arms around her legs. "What is it with guys and their inability to take good advice?" She glanced at him and saw the same goofy smile on his face. "I really hate you, Freddie."
He ran his hand across her head, messing her hair up a bit more beyond repair, and laughed at the way she gasped. "The sentiment's kind of, a little bit, reversed."