Again I should be updating my series but whatever. I just found some writing I'd done when I should have been revising, typed it up and finished it. Have some Recess. Plus, I think this is the only Gretchen/Vince on the site, at the time I uploaded it!
That Worked Too
The sound of a basketball against the floor echoed. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Shoes squeaked softly, and the teenager's chocolate brown skin glistened with the beginnings of sweat on his brow.
His hand tilted, and the ball soared in an arc.
It passed straight through the net.
Before Vince realized, seeing as he was in a world of his own, the ball came flying back at him. Of course, he caught it with expert ease, but he was still surprised. Looking from the ball to the source, he regarded his friend.
His red cap was turned backwards; pale skin sprayed with freckles, a large grin on the other teen's face. His messy brown hair was particularly unruly today, and Vince couldn't help but grin back at his friend.
"Thought you said yesterday that you were going to be sick today. You know, in time for the algebra test?" Vince asked, his own voice echoing back to him in the near empty gym. Test. Test. Test.
TJ Detweiler shrugged.
"Nah. I couldn't miss out on grilling Mr. Basketball Star. That rumor is mighty big, and that's why I assume you're here?" He asked, and Vince's expression darkened as he shot the ball back to TJ, roughly.
"Teege, of all people, can't you just cut me a break? I didn't do this when you and Spin first had that thing, and all of middle school were talking about it! You're really not helping," Vince replied, rough as sandpaper. TJ held one hand out in surrender, the other bouncing the ball.
"Relax, Vince. I'm just kidding. I don't care, I just didn't expect it to be Gretch," TJ answered, and Vince snorted.
"You're doing it again," he warned, and TJ nodded.
"Alright, alright. Whatever. You got a game tonight?" TJ asked, changing the subject and passing the ball back to Vince. Vince smiled, relieved his friend had listened. He nodded, and their conversation continued much in an unremarkable way, though Vince hadn't left the gym.
But that wasn't surprising; they'd been friends for years, and so Vince shouldn't have expected TJ to be just like the rest of the school.
The rest of the school were being idiots. The rest of the school were judging him; basketball star, Mr. Popular. He was practically royalty to the rest of the teenage population.
And it wasn't that Gretchen was unpopular. She was even one of Vince and TJ's oldest friends. She was stupidly smart, with an assumed IQ of one billion, as Spinelli frequently pointed out. And she probably wasn't far off.
She'd changed a lot, from fourth grade. Her uneven teeth had been corrected by braces, and were now straight, her bucked teeth gone. Glasses had been replaced by contacts, and whenever glasses made a brief appearance, they were always sleek, no longer the round ones from seven years ago. Her auburn hair was now layered and rested just below her shoulders, straight. And she'd developed a fashion sense of some sort. She'd changed.
But for Vince and Gretchen to have a 'thing' was wrong in the school's pecking order. It upset the balance. It was totally, and completely, wrong. TJ knew. Vince knew. Gretchen knew. Everyone knew.
So why did Vince not care, but care so much? He knew he didn't care about him and Gretchen, together. He and Gretchen were a thing now. So what if he wasn't dating Ashley A, head cheerleader? Or Ashley Q, head of the dance team? Ashley B, track star, Ashley T, swim star?
Really, the Ashleys were the only 'socially acceptable' options for him. He'd already tried dating Ashley A and everything had gone horribly downhill from there.
But what he did care about was the constant scrutiny. It wasn't that he was embarrassed. But he had enough people's eyes on him, being that 'basketball star'. He didn't need people whispering behind his back, either.
"…Vince? Vince? Oh, for the love of God. I knew you weren't listening to me," TJ stated, waving a hand in front of Vince's face as they left the gym. Vince shook his head, reacquainting himself with the real world.
He grimaced apologetically. "Sorry. Mind is thinking of a million and one things," he stated, and TJ nodded.
"I could tell. Can I just say, whatever is bugging you. Try and figure it out soon, because, frankly, if you do that at your game tonight, you're gunna get hit by the ball a lot," TJ stated, his hands in his pockets. Vince nodded, tired and confused. It was Monday, and the events of Saturday night's party were still fresh in most people's minds.
The party had been huge. It was thrown by none other than Ashley Q, and her house was massive. She hadn't hesitated in inviting most of the High School, and pretty much all of 3rd Street Elementary's fourth grade alumni. Mikey and Gus ended up leaving early, as they weren't really the party type, but Spinelli and TJ (who were officially an item) had been seen actually conversing with the Ashleys.
But, Vince had been hanging out with some of his basketball buddies, but eventually moved on to other groups. He wasn't actually drinking, like all the others were. He wasn't much of a drinker, anyways. He'd seen Gretchen, sat by herself as one of her friends was whisked off to dance with some guy. She was still tall, he remembered, though she'd grown into her awkward frame.
He slumped into the seat next to her, making her jump. She was obviously elsewhere, at least thinking of a million different things in a matter of seconds.
"'Sup, Gretch?" He asked, and she smiled when she realized who it was, showing off her now-straight teeth.
"Hey, Vince. You scared me for a second. I was just thinking of my algebra test on Monday…"
At this, Vince groaned.
"Oh, God. Don't bring it up, please. I have one, too, and besides, this is a party," he said, leaning back on the couch. Gretchen followed suit.
"Sorry. So what's up with you?" She asked, and Vince shrugged, feeling calmer about this whole ordeal than he had expected to be.
Oh, not bad Gretch, been thinking about you a lot lately. I've had a crush on you since ninth grade. How's that?
"Well, thought I'd come and keep you company," he said, deciding that was a bit more smooth. She rolled her eyes.
"Basketball players too boring for you?" She asked, nodding her head in their direction as they broke a vase. He shrugged.
"Nah. I think I'd rather sit with you, to be honest."
"You realize this is breaking the social structure. In fact, the entire 3rd Street group has been ever since freshman year."
"God, Gretch, can you ever not be analytical? Besides, you guys are probably my best friends. I'm not just gunna ditch you because I made a sports team."
"Just sidetracking from that a bit, and being analytical again -"
"If you say the phrase 'social structure' one more time…"
"…And the social structure…"
"Gretch? I don't care about social structure. 'Cause I like you."
Gretchen was silent for a few beats.
"Are you drunk?" She finally asked.
"Nope," Vince complied.
As if to prove his point, after muttering something like 'Fuck social structure!' Vince proceeded to kiss Gretchen, straight on the lips. That kiss was reciprocated, and most people saw. It was official – Vince LaSalle and Gretchen Grundler had kissed at Ashley Q's party. And neither of them were drunk.
Vince zoomed back to reality again as he slammed his locker closed, turning on his heel. There she was, being harassed by some girl or another, no doubt for answers. Resolution set in, and he strode over to Gretchen.
He kissed her, pulling her closer to him as the two showed some serious PDA. Someone dropped their books as Vince surfaced. The entire hallway fell silent, and Vince tried to think of some witty line.
"Yeah, that happened," Gretchen answered, to the shocked audience, finally, and Vince grinned.
That worked too.