Nell leant against the railing overlooking the bullpen below, a melancholy smile on pale lips. The team below was celebrating, joyous at completing a case and having a free night on the town courtesy of their boss. Any normal girl would be with them- having fun and relaxing after a tense few days. But she wasn't normal. And now they knew.
Her IQ was just a number but numbers made the world go round these days. And the number of her IQ made people's eyes go round. Especially Eric's. She sighed, leaning more heavily on the rail. She hated how he'd looked at her- like she was suddenly different because he knew she was smarter than him. She was just the same as she always was. His knowledge of who she was was the only thing that had changed. And she hated that.
Footsteps behind her alerted her to someone else's presence. The steady flip-flop of his flip-flops told her who it was. The last person she wanted to see right now.
"Hey partner," He walked up and stood next to her. He didn't look at her, just followed her gaze out over the bullpen, watching as people left for the night."
"Hey," She replied, not impolitely. They weren't partners. Not really.
"So I've been thinking," He started and she internally sighed. Conversations that started with those words rarely went well.
"A worthy pursuit of your time, I'm sure."
Blue eyes rolled dangerously upwards, "Granger didn't think so. Pretty sure the guy hates me based on my fashion choices."
Nell glanced at the flip flops, brightly striped shorts and beige T-shirt but didn't say a thing. Eric was her friend and sometimes ignorance is the only blessing you can give a friend. "And you were thinking about?" She directed back on topic.
"You," His eyes widened as he realised what he said.
Nell bit her lip to stop herself from laughing. "Me?"
"No. Yes. Technically," He stammered, trying to find the right words. "You're IQ."
"RiiIght," Her grip on the handrail tightened. "My IQ. Because that's the only thing that matters."
"No," He shook his head, her sarcasm not lost on him. "It's just a number, right? Barely even matters."
"Except for the fact you freaked out when you found out," Nell countered.
"Yeah," Eric nodded sheepishly. "It's just I'm-"
"Used to being the smartest person in the room," She finished his sentence out of habit. She knew the feeling he was describing. She got it too. There was a thrill in knowing you could run intellectual rings around everyone in the room but the downside wasn't worth it. For every door her high IQ opened, another two slammed in her face. Eight year old 'friends', who didn't understand why she named her dolls Henry and Catherine and why they fought over the pretty blonde named Anne, ignored her. Fifteen year old classmates jeered at her for being younger than them. It wasn't worth it.
"Yeah," He dug his hands into his pockets. "I mean, first you come in here and practically take over my kingdom."
"I didn't take over," She objected.
"But then we became friends. And we've kinda learnt how to share, right?" He glanced up at her.
"Yeah," She agreed, nodding slightly. She couldn't really tell what he was getting at.
"But we haven't learnt to share each other."
"Share each other?" She echoed, wondering if he knew how that sounded. From his horrified expression, he'd just worked it out.
"Ourselves," Eric corrected quickly. "Childhood, likes, dislikes, you know, partner stuff. Friend stuff. I'm sorry. I'm not good at this whole apology thing."
"You're apologising?" Nell asked, surprised and touched by the gesture.
"Trying to," He said, shrugging his shoulders a little. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that it doesn't matter. You can be as smart as Einstein and I wouldn't care."
"You wouldn't care?" She pursed her lips, looking up at him through incredulous eyes.
"Okay, I would care but it wouldn't be that big a deal," Eric amended his statement. "You're obviously uncomfortable with people knowing."
"People knowing isn't the issue; it's how they treat me that's the problem," She explained, turning to face him. "Everyone just acts like they think I think I'm superior."
"You are," He said, his vehemence surprising the both of them. "What I mean is, you're smarter. It's a fact. Like I'm better than you at WoW. We'll deal with it. There's more important things than books and cleverness."
Nell's lips twisted to a smile, "Are you quoting Harry Potter to apologise to me?"
"No," He shook his head furiously. "Yes."
"So you're Hermione in this scenario?" Her eyes shone with mirth as she asked the baited question.
"I'm totally Harry Potter," Eric retorted indignantly, drawing himself up to his full height. "I have the glasses and the bully cousin. You're Hermione."
"I have red hair," Nell pointed out, pointing to her cropped copper locks.
"Fine, you're Ginny," He declared. "Happy."
"As long as you don't ask me what my IQ is again," She nodded.
"Okay," He agreed.
"And that includes illegal hacking," She added with a knowing look.
"Killjoy," His eyes narrowed at her from behind black frames.
"So now you're adding insults to your apology?"
"Apology's over now. Let's go drink."