Author's Note: Me and my friend Jess (or curlyboff as she is known on here) are currently jointly obsessed with Dr. Horrible, and this is my present to her. It's utterly different from her brilliant BigBangTheory crossover 'The Two Doctors'. It's an Alternative Universe, and I'm not American, so apologies if my very vague descriptions of a school are drastically wrong. Anyway, enjoy!
"Now, Billy. I think you know why you've been sent to me."
Billy slumped further down into his chair. He stared sullenly at the desk he was sat in front of, refusing the eye contact he knew he was being offered. Why did people pretend to be so sincere all the time? Surely he wasn't the only one who noticed how corrupt it all was. People pretended to care when it suited them, but never when it mattered, and never did they mean a word of what they said.
Mrs. Harris sighed. Billy was familiar with this technique. The "you've disappointed me and that should make you feel guilty" technique. Like it was his fault people expected things of him. He thought he was making it clear enough that they shouldn't bother.
"I don't understand it. You're a smart kid. The smartest, in most of your classes. But you're wasting it all by misbehaving."
That wasn't true on so many levels. He wasn't wasting anything. He was using his talents. It would be wasteful to follow the school's pitiful curriculum when his gifts for math and science would be put to so much better use elsewhere. Billy was going to change the world, not sit around and tesselate shapes.
"This has got to stop, Billy. I've given you so many chances."
He had to hand it to her, the old bat didn't give up easily. He'd been hauled into her office at least once a week for most of his school career, and she always tried to talk to him patiently, as if trying to guide him to some moral epiphany. She never shouted. In some ways he wished she would. If he could make her fly off the handle at least once, he'd feel like he'd achieved something.
"We're wasting time here, I see. You'd better go back to your lesson. But I don't want to have to see you here again."
He rose from his chair, still not looking at her. He didn't want to see that 'concerned' frown he knew so well, the one he knew was nothing more than a mask.
He crossed the room to the door, and, once outside, leant against the wall a moment. He didn't really feel like traipsing back to History with the infinitely boring Mr. Neils just yet. He rested his head against the wall display and closed his eyes.
When he heard footsteps a few seconds later he snapped them open, mind quickly formulating an excuse. Looking down the corridor, though, he saw that the newcomer was not a teacher, but a girl about his own age, with flame-red hair, clutching an oversized backpack and looking every inch the new student.
As she approached him, she smiled shyly. "Is this...the principal's office?" she asked.
It took Billy a second to process the fact that she was addressing him. "Um, yeah," he managed eventually.
"Thanks." She gave him a smile. Billy blinked back.
Then she disappeared into Mrs. Harris' office, leaving Billy to rack his brains to remember the last time someone had smiled at him that genuinely.
Billy loathed break time.
In principle, it was a good idea. Time between lessons where he could think, and not be hassled by some teacher about concentration and commitment.
In practice it was sort of hellish.
Carl Hanner and his cronies were waiting for him outside math class. No matter how long he stayed behind after whatever lesson, they were always there. Honestly, Billy couldn't fathom why they wasted so much time on him. They'd already made it quite clear that he was useless and beneath contempt.
Carl leered at him. He was in the grade above Billy, and was a good head and shoulders taller. "Here's our little friend! Coming to play, Billy?"
The others sniggered as if Carl had said something drenched in sparkling wit. Billy gazed defiantly into Carl's eyes. "I'm not scared of you, Carl."
"Oh, good," Carl sneered, grabbing Billy's left arm and twisting it behind his back. "I wouldn't want you to be scared. We're friends!"
Billy winced inwardly, hoping his discomfort wasn't showing on his face. The first time Carl had hit him the shock had brought tears to his eyes, something he would never be able to live down.
Carl marched him down the corridor, the gang of gorms tagging along behind. Billy braced himself as well as he could.
His nose had nearly stopped bleeding by the time the nurse called him into her office.
If Billy were one for liking people, he might have admitted to liking the nurse. She didn't pretend. "Got in another fight, then, have we?" she said, matter-of-factly, as he half-walked, half-staggered into the room.
"Yes." Usually he preferred the Mute Nod of Nonchalance, but the throbbing he was currently experiencing meant he wasn't crazy about moving his head too vigorously quite yet.
"Who with this time?" she asked him, not even bothering to lace her voice with feigned interest.
Even if he'd been the type to tattle, which Billy wasn't, giving the answer 'Carl Hanner' would have been utterly pointless. No member of staff who'd ever met Carl could possibly believe he was anything but the charming star pupil they knew him to be. Captain of the junior football team, vice-president of the student council, straight As in every subject.
"Just some kid."
The nurse handed him a wad of tissues to stop the last of his nosebleed. She soaked the cut on his forehead with warm water. Some of it ran into Billy's eye and he hastily wiped it away, lest she think he was crying like some little kid or something.
"Looks like that's going to be an impressive bruise," she said, nodding at the large patch on his arm which was already beginning to show up in an attractive shade of yellow.
Billy blinked in acknowledgement of this statement. Of course it would be. Everything Carl Hanner did was impressive from some angle.
"All right, you're done," said the nurse, "off you go."
Lunch was better than break. He could hide in the cafeteria where Carl couldn't risk trying anything; there were always teachers on duty.
As he waited in line, Billy spotted the red-haired girl from earlier eating alone in the corner of the hall. He frowned. Usually when a new kid joined the school they were assigned a 'buddy' to show them around on their first day, take them to classes and eat lunch with them. Billy's had been - who else? - Carl Hanner. Briefly he wondered why this girl didn't seem to have one, but then he remembered that he didn't care about people and stopped wondering.
Once his lunch tray was full he went to join his friend Howard at their usual table. The term 'friend' here was used in its loosest term, Howard being the only person more pathetic than Billy himself and thus the only person who'd be seen with him. The poor kid suffered from an overactive sweat-gland disorder, earning him the purely descriptive nickname 'Moist'.
"Hey," he said as Billy sat down, noting the cut and swollen nose, "Hammer get you again?"
'Hammer' was their private nickname for Carl, though beyond the slight similarity with his surname they couldn't remember why they'd chosen it.
Moist nodded. "Me tomorrow, then," he said, with certainty. That was how it worked.
Billy made no reply. Then he indicated the girl, still sitting alone, behind them. "Have you seen the new kid?"
Moist glanced at her, the shrugged. "Yeah, she's in my biology class. Her name's...Jenny, or something."
Billy saw no reason to react to this.
"Why?" Moist asked, wiping beads of sweat from his forehead. Billy reflected for a moment that it would be very difficult to tell if Moist were ever hot or under stress. Or maybe he would sweat more? Hard to imagine.
"No reason," Billy murmured.
"She's kinda cute," Moist observed. "Is that why?"
Billy looked at him disdainfully. "Really, Moist? Something that superficial? I just saw her in the halls, that's all."
Moist shrugged. "Whatever." They continued to eat in silence, companionable on Moist's part, stony on Billy's.
By the time the bell rang, Moist had all but forgotten the conversation. Billy watched as the new girl - Jenny? - got up to put her tray back. Quickly he snatched up his own and made his way to the station too.
He managed to get his tray directly on top of hers, 'managed' as in slotted his in place while she was still putting hers down to ensure no-one got there first, nearly catching her fingers as he did so.
"Sorry," he said hastily as she pulled her hands away. She smiled at him again, just a brief, glimpse of a smile, but enough to make him return a smile at the back of her head as she turned to go.
As he walked to English class he felt an odd sense of happiness. Odd in that it was an unfamiliar sensation in connection to school, and odd in that it had been caused by something as tiny as a smile from a stranger. But he was happy nonetheless.
It was short-lived. He felt a grip on his arm, and heard a laugh.
~As Doctor Horrible knows, reviews and love have the same basic molecular composition!~