Easy A, Todd/Olive. The Red Lobster scene. Written instead of a chemistry lab write-up; also without dialogue, as that is for wimps, or something. Nothing is mine.

Reviews (full of constructive criticism, as per usual) are love and rainbows.

White Knight Syndrome

Somehow, on the same Friday Todd's got the 6 to 10 shift for Red Lobster, Anson brings Olive on what looks like an actual date. Todd only shatters one water glass when he sees them over by the hostess' desk. It's not even a full glass. Things could be worse.

Well, no. Things couldn't be worse, because this is Olive he's talking about, and when it comes to Olive, his brain doesn't exactly function the same way it does for the rest of the universe.

See, on the one hand, Todd thinks Olive's hot. He can fully appreciate the aesthetics of her hips and her boobs and her legs and how they all make this curve, this long line of her that's just so easy to run his eyes down. (The new outfits she's been sporting? Don't help at all.) Besides, he's a guy. It's not like he can stop himself all that much.

But on the other hand, the one currently holding a platter of lobster while he watches her talking with Anson as they sit down at the booth behind the fish tank, he doesn't just want to like her because of said hotness. That isn't fair to either of them.

So he finds other things about her, things that slowly begin to accumulate until he barely notices the physical stuff anymore: she actually reads the books for English, and knows what "prestidigitation" means, and tries her hardest to be nice and generally pleasant to everyone (though she fails at that part a lot), and that up until two weeks ago, she walked through the halls like she just didn't give a shit – which, not to be a cliché, just makes her even hotter.

Nowadays, she looks like she tries to look like she doesn't care, and it kind of hurts, because he wishes she didn't have to. Actually, it kind of sucks that Olive is letting all these guys exploit her like that – well, to be fair, he wouldn't know but with Brandon he's pretty sure it wasn't so much exploitation as a favor done – but he keeps reminding himself that whatever it is, it's Olive's choice.

Except, when he watched her walking away from Marianne and Friends, it didn't look much like her choice at all.

Out of the corner his eye, past the tiny clownfish he named Nemo on his second day of work, he sees her laughing. It's not her relaxed, No Really I Actually Think This Is Funny laugh though, no matter how much she grins; rather it's the one he saw when she was with Marianne, the This Is Awkward But If I Talk Fast Enough It'll All Work Out laugh. (He realizes that Anson has no way of knowing this. He doesn't care, and lets the weird feeling – triumph? – pass.)

Look, it's not like he's some sort of stalker. But there are clues, once you know her well enough, a secret code of gestures and accessories – the one smile she wears when she wants to feel confident; her favorite pair of high heels for good mornings and afternoons and evenings; this one shade of lipstick when she wants to stalk the halls, get noticed. (She already has his full attention, but she hasn't caught on to that part yet.) Maybe it's all psychology, the noticing he does: he sees one detail and wants to know them all, to find the patterns. Anyways, just because he knows which laugh she uses with friends and which one with enemies and which one with frenemies (and he needs to stop overhearing his mother's HBO shows while doing homework), just because he knows her walks and her hand motions, just because he knows her doesn't mean he's, he doesn't know, in love or anything.

However, remembering that he knows her better than Anson apparently does, while a little satisfying, doesn't really help his mood. In fact, he's decidedly grumpy when he's ringing up the check for booth 5 (the one that has the overworked parents who take their preschoolers to a lobster place and somehow don't expect that their children would throw their macaroni and cheese on the walls and there'd better be a tip for the clean up he'll have to do later) when he suddenly realizes that oh yeah, the overworked mom had taken him aside and said it was little Tyler's birthday today, please could you bring us a dessert?

At the time, he'd nodded, because he needed to take booth 11's order – Rhiannon (who he now dislikes because how could she not see what she was doing to Olive as soon as she stood next to Marianne), shrimp linguini alfredo; her hippie parents (who are nice but he can smell the pot from ten feet away), a crab entrée to share – and then had promptly been distracted by the fact that Olive and Anson were sitting down in the window booth.

Now, of course, he has to go get that dessert, but at the moment he's contemplating how Anson is a skeezeball, and a creeper too, and he's going to punch him in the face if he doesn't stop staring at her like that, and Olive deserves so much better, and shit, he really is in love/like/whatever-the-hell-this-is with her. (But only a little bit.)

He finds the dessert tray in the kitchen, grabs a few spoons and the lobster hat and Sam and Eliza and Thomas to go dance the Birthday Lobster Conga over to booth 5.

When he sets down the piece of chocolate cake, he spots her out of the corner of his eye (just past Nemo's little orange face), panicking. He then proceeds to not-exactly-stare at her Mission Impossible ninja crawl past the fish tank. Also, it is a total coincidence that when Olive (and Anson) leaves the restaurant, he has to go outside and check his car and yeah, his shift is totally over, yep.

He reflects that he is kind of ridiculously pathetic, and finds that he doesn't actually care.

When he goes to his car, he can see Anson, that asshole, leaning down and flashing some sort of – gift card? Credit card? ID? – and leaning down and – seriously, fuck Anson. He doesn't want to see this, because it's bad enough that apparently Olive is his one and only, 50's style, but now he has to see her with someone else.

Except Olive doesn't look happy.

Okay, so call him pathetic. He won't deny it. But this is Olive, the same Olive who he almost kissed in 8th grade and regretted not kissing ever since, the same Olive who's bright like a neon sign and way too smart for her own good, the same Olive who just did something to Anson (pushed him away? Punched him in the face? He can't really see past Anson's car) and is now stomping away. Is now crying.

So maybe he has a bit of a White Knight complex. So maybe those heels look like they hurt. So maybe he just needs to make sure that Olive makes it home all right; so maybe he can't stand it when she cries. And so maybe it isn't romantic, or the best moment. And she might not accept his help, and she might run away when she sees how much he cares in the sappy, romcom sort of way (because he's pretty sure all she'll have to do is just look at his face to figure it out).

But he rolls down his window, calls out her name, and when she smiles at him through her tears and running mascara and wobbling heels, his heart does some sort of thumpy belly-flop thing in his chest as she lets him take her home.

And so maybe he tries to kiss her – it's not like he hasn't wanted to since 8th grade, not like he hasn't thought about it all the damn time – and it doesn't work, but – but it could, maybe. She smiles a little and says not like this and it's a little unreasonable but he hopes anyways.

The point is that for once in these past two weeks, Olive looks like she could be happy – and right now, that's all Todd needs.