Author's Note: Written for my friend Cheese who is a huge Swagger Bishie fan! He gave it his seal of approval and requested I share. So, here we are. I apologize for any OOC-ness. I certainly tried my best! There might be more one shots associated with this one, so, we'll see. Please enjoy!
Not-So-Secret Secret Relationships
"What exactly are we doing here, anyway?" Star asked curiously as she placed a hand on her hip while Dash carded through racks of clothes. It was four thirty on a Friday afternoon. She would much rather be shopping with Paulina, but Dash had cornered her earlier in the day and all but begged her to come gift shopping with him. He had been secretive about the whole affair and had such a look of desperation on his face, glancing nervously over his shoulder over at the others, that Star had agreed, if only for curiosity's sake.
So there she was on a Friday, willingly shopping for someone she didn't even know. She had to admit, the whole situation seemed weird. "You never told me who we were shopping for, by the way, Dash. If I knew, I might actually, you know, be of help." They were in the men's section, but not the sort of department where Dash would normally get his clothes. That meant they probably weren't shopping for Kwan or anyone else from the sport teams. Could it have been a brother or a cousin or something? But Dash never really talked about family much, so, maybe not.
But if not for a friend and not for a relative, then who could it be?
Dash stopped in his search as he cleared his throat. "Oh, you know, someone." Well then. An answer like that all but screamed out "I've got an incredibly juicy secret that I hope no one will ever figure out because it could ruin me, socially!" Oh, Star was not going to let this one go now.
"Dash, give me a break, would you? You asked me out here to help you find a gift. If you won't tell me who, maybe you can tell me the occasion? Believe me, nothing sucks more than getting an I'm-sorry gift when an I-messed-up-but-it-was-mostly-your-fault-but-I-would-never-admit-that gift is really more important. Paulina says a gift is a gift as long as it's sufficiently expensive enough, but I think there really is a difference. I mean, one time, I-"
"Anniversary," Dash provided, nonchalantly, as he continued to look through the shirts, stopping on a T-shirt for some TV show or another. At least, he was trying to be nonchalant, but he was gripping the hanger so tightly his knuckles were nearly white.
Star stopped speaking immediately, looking at her friend, utterly dumbfounded.
She opened her mouth a few times to speak, but could not form anything coherently. She had to have misunderstood him. There was just no way that Dash of all people could have kept something like that from his own friends! She laughed nervously as she found her voice. "So…an…an anniversary. Like, your parents, or…"
Dash stopped, glancing over at her, seriously. That was not an expression he wore often outside of games. Star instinctively took a step back. "No. Mine."
Star held out her hands. "Hey, look. I'm not going to judge you or anything. But, ahm, I'm just a little surprised." Star wasn't upset, so that much wasn't a lie. She just never pegged Dash Baxter to be the secret Romeo type. "You never mentioned having a girlfriend before," she said, moving to stand beside Dash, looking through the racks of t-shirts as she casually tossed blond hair over her shoulder.
For a brief moment she paused. Suddenly, a lot of things started to click into place. She glanced around them. Teen guy's clothing store. Right. She returned to looking at the clothes, pulling one out, glancing it over. Who in their school would wear something like this?
Silence fell between the two of them. Dash stuck close to Star, glancing at her on occasion, seeming to be expecting some sort of response. Star wanted to say something, but suddenly found she had nothing to say. What was she supposed to say? She had a thousand questions, sure, but none of them seemed appropriate or all that important. Star might have a reputation of being blunt, but that did not mean she wasn't capable of being nice to her friends. The conversation had been short, but its importance hung heavy in the air.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" Dash finally asked, having grown frustrated with the protracted silence. Patience was never his specialty. "Look, I know you're probably angry, but don't just stand there ignoring me."
Star rolled her eyes. "Don't be dumb, Dash. I'm not ignoring you, I'm thinking." She took one of the t-shirts and put it against Dash's chest, clicking her tongue slightly in distaste. Honestly, who would wear things like this? "Believe it or not, I am so not a miracle worker. You asked me to help you find a gift for your anniversary but you haven't even told me what your…" ok, Star, time to be supportive, but not condescending, "boyfriend is into." Flawless! "Not all boys are the same you know. What one likes, another might hate." She hoped, anyway. She set the shirt back and put a hand on his shoulder. "Can't I get at least a hint? I'd be of more use then."
Dash blushed. Oh, god, Dash actually blushed. This guy must be something special. Or maybe Dash really was just the closet romantic Star used to joke he was. Either way, now Star had to know. "Oh come on," she said with an impish grin, "Just one itty, bitty, tiny hint. It won't hurt. What's he into at least?"
"…I guess video games…"
"There you go! Well, if he's into games, we are so in the wrong store. Come on, there's a Game Depot on the third floor," she said, all but dragging Dash out of the store with her. Video games, huh? That knocked out a good third of the boys in their school. That gave her another thought. "Hey, this kid goes to our school right? He's not like…some summer camp fling, right?"
Dash made a face. "Star. Are you trying to figure out who it is?"
"Yes." No use trying to hide it. Dash was the one who dragged her out, Star was just making sure she enjoyed herself. Oh and this was enjoyable. Dash Baxter, star everything, has a secret boyfriend—a secret boyfriend who apparently likes video games. Detective Star was on the case!
Dash sighed, shaking his head. "Fine, whatever, just try to figure it out then! It's not all that interesting. But for your information, yes, he does go to our school." Star grinned, pleased with herself.
Game Depot was one of those stores that Star walked by all of the time, but never bothered to go in. Now she remembered why. Walls of games, crowded aisles, lots of people. Ugh. Lame. Luckily, crowds parted for Dash.
Walking right to the simulation games section, Dash picked up one and read the back, Star peeking around him to look. 'Captain Taylor's Moon Farming Experience 3D X-Treme'.
What. The. Heck?
"So…he likes farming?" Maybe he's an Ag kid?
"What? No. I don't think he even knows the first thing about farming. But…he likes…space, I think. Like… astronauts," Dash explained, putting the game back, looking a little overwhelmed. "I guess that isn't the best game. Er," he picked up another one, this one about raising gerbils on Mars to fight swarms of alien ants. Who is coming up with these games? "Yeah, I don't really know what I'm doing."
Star huffed, crossing her arms. Oh, what would her friends do without her? Reaching out, she suddenly grabbed the back of some poor smuck's shirt. "You. Random guy. We're looking for a game a space nut would like. Get on it." The boy nodded his head quickly, face bright rest, as he rushed off, returning with a stack of games not even ten seconds later. Nice. Dash had to admire Star for her ability to get things done.
Star motioned for Dash to take the boxes before she all but ignored the poor guy, leaving him to sulk away, dejected. Dash momentarily wondered if he even worked at the store before looking through the games.
Wow. Now these seemed like something he would like. He picked up the biggest one and turned the box over in his hands. Lots of realistic space shooting action, the box promised, whatever that meant. The graphics looked really great, too. The flora looked so realistic Dash wondered if they might be real kinds of plants, bringing the box closer to his face so he could inspect the detail. 'Spacenauts Odyssey' was such a popular game that even Dash had head of it, recalled seeing a barrage of commercials for it not too long ago. Not to mention, it sounded like something a certain someone had mentioned incessantly for weeks on end. Dash suddenly felt embarrassed thinking he had thought clothes would have been a good gift. A video game was much more appropriate.
"Here," Star said, holding out a second box. Apparently, it was a 3D visor. When Dash looked confused, she tapped the side of the box. "The box says that you should play it with these for added effects. Nerds love this sort of thing, right?"
"Hey, he is not a nerd!" Dash defended, bristling instinctively.
Star just quirked a brow. Dash sighed. Lame t-shirts, affinity for science and video games, half coherent, rambling phone conversations about ghosts in the middle of the night… ok, maybe it was time Dash admitted a few things to himself about the guy he was secretly dating.
"Fine, fine. I guess he is kind of a nerd. But, I don't know. He's got a cool side," he mumbled, playing with the edge of the box.
Star hummed lightly. It wasn't often that Dash would let his guard down long enough to let his more thoughtful side show. It was a nice change, though Star wasn't sure how she felt about the fact it was some unknown guy that had inspired this change in Dash. If Dash was going to go off and date some guy, he should have at least had the decency to date someone Star and the others already approved of. Bringing in an outsider was totally going to ruin the dynamics. Social order was a delicate beast and Dash better be confident in what he was doing because there was a good chance that, if handled improperly, the whole thing could blow up in his face. But for now, Dash needed a friend more than he needed a refresher course on the precarious, capricious nature of high school clique mentality. "Well, I guess it wouldn't be impossible for a video game nerd to be cool, too." Bluh, it felt weird even saying something like that. "I mean, the two aren't mutually exclusive, I guess. Some of these games actually look pretty fun."
Dash perked up. "Do you really mean that?"
"Er, most of it. The important parts, yeah."
Dash just laughed, giving Star a rough half-hug. "Thanks! See, I knew you would be good with all this gift-buying junk!"
Star just gasped out as she tried to worm her way out of the hug/choke hold.
When Monday morning arrived, it was as if nothing had happened the previous Friday. Star felt a little ashamed that she was even expecting a change. Dash was still the same person he had always been. It wasn't as if the revelation would mean he would suddenly come to school dressed in flamboyant dance clothes. Really, nothing had changed.
Dash and Kwan were picking on the losers, Paulina was chatting about the trip to the beach she had gone on with her family that weekend. Star fell into usual routines, but found herself looking at the boys around her more than usual, intently running through a check list. She hadn't given up. She would figure out who it was Dash was seeing if it was the last thing she d-
Ugh. Danny Fenton. When had he walked over to their lunch table? He had been rather brave lately, actually coming up to her group of friends unprompted several times a week now. Mostly he would just pick a fight with Dash and then leave, but it still annoyed her. She supposed he had a good enough reason, though. Dash often would go into dork territory to pick on him too. So, an eye for a geeky eye, she guessed.
"Dash," Danny responded. Star inwardly groaned, pulling out her compact, fixing her lipstick. He looked so cocky. How annoying.
"Fenton," Dash sneered, standing up, his chest puffing out to make him look even bigger. If it were any other dork, he would have had the brains to turn tail and run, but instead, Danny just smirked.
He then did something that confused everyone. Everyone except for Dash. And Star. He held out a hand held, showing Dash the screen. 'Spacenauts Odyssey', high score four million, almost forty hours played. Star's eyes widened slightly as she realized what it was she was looking at. Dash's scowl broke into a smile for a fraction of a second, just long enough for Star to see, before he grabbed a hold of Danny's shoulders. He spun Danny around and pushed him away roughly. "Why would I care about your dork game, weirdo! Get out of here, Fenton, before I stuff you in a locker!"
And just like that, Dash returned to his conversation with Kwan and Danny Fenton returned to his own, equally confused looking group of friends.
Within minutes, the two groups were carrying on their normal conversations, the weird scene between Danny and Dash completely forgotten. Forgotten, that is, for everyone except for Star. She was watching Dash intently now and saw as he tossed Danny and his group side long glances. She saw Danny doing the same in return when he thought his own friends weren't looking.
Star suddenly sighed, annoyed and rested her chin on her laced fingers. Such. Losers. Didn't they know secret relationships were so last century?
"You really shouldn't have come up like that all of a sudden…" Dash muttered, all but whispering as he ducked into the janitor's closet. There was only one flickering light bulb and he could hardly see anything, but he knew who was in there.
"Sorry. I just," Danny tried before suddenly hugging Dash. "This game! Do you have any idea how long I've been wanting to play it? The freaking game costs nearly a hundred dollars by itself, not to mention the visor! How did you know?"
Dash blushed, suddenly thankful for the dimness. He wrapped his arms around Danny, pulling him closer. "Lucky guess. Also, you were going on about it for a few weeks."
Danny turned his head away, resting his cheek against Dash's chest. "…So you were paying attention. I thought you'd fallen asleep on the other line."
Oh, he had. At least, some night. Danny always called him after midnight and between school and sports, Dash was exhausted. Exhausted, but always wanting to listen to Danny, even if he didn't understand most of what he would go on about. Just listening to Danny going on about something excited at length was worth the bags under his eyes the following morning. Thank god for unlimited minutes. "No way. I like listening to you talk about all this space junk. I just figured this would be a good fit."
"You… thought to get this for me by yourself?" Danny asked, obviously growing suspicious. Danny knew that Dash could be a bit of a romantic at heart, what with his taste in movies, but, now that he thought about it, buying gifts was never Dash's forte. He remembered his birthday. The clothes Dash had bought him were nice, but Danny was still a kid! He could get excited about getting fancy, expensive clothes when he was an old man of thirty or something!
From the way Dash shifted form one foot to the other, it was obvious that Danny had hit the nail right on the head. "Well, ok, maybe not completely by myself," Dash confessed, "I might have asked Star to help me."
Danny pulled away now, visibly tensing. "You told Star about us? She's probably already told Paulina!" No, no, no, this was not how he had planned to tell Sam and Tucker!
"No! She didn't, I mean, I didn't really tell her about us. She knows I'm seeing someone, but she doesn't realize it's you. At least, she didn't on Friday."
"You saying she knows now?"
Dash gave him a wry smile. "I'm saying you were acting pretty weird at lunch. Even by your standards."
Danny crossed his arms as he leaned back against the shelves. "You could have said it was someone's birthday…"
"I could have. But I don't like keeping this from my friends. I'm sure you don't either."
Danny watched Dash for a moment before reaching a hand out, patting his shoulder. They both relaxed as the tension faded from the air. "Yeah. It sucks. I mean, I guess there's no real reason for all this secrecy. Really, how bad can their reactions be?"
Wednesday marked a strange day at the school. In the middle of lunch, Danny and his two friends suddenly walked towards the popular table. Sam and Tucker were looking antsy, one looked ready to fight, the other looked ready to run. The popular kids just looked shocked.
"Fenton," Dash said, the first to speak. The whole cafeteria around them was silent. Even the adults were quiet, watching the scene unfold. The way Dash said that name was different. He wasn't scowling. He wasn't sneering. He wasn't making fun of him. He was smiling. It was a genuine greeting.
"Hey Dash," Danny responded, with a grin as he sat down across the table form Dash, holding out a bag of chips. "Want one?"
Dash grabbed a chip and put it into his mouth before grabbing a few more. Danny just rolled his eyes and gave up the whole bag. Star glanced over at Sam and Tucker. "You two going to sit down or what?" Sam and Tucker sat down, their arms to their sides, looking like they had just been grabbed and taken into enemy territory.
Wow. Awkward. Star glanced over at Dash. And Danny. They looked happier than they had in a while. Dash was hunched over the hand held, tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth as he focused on the game, smashing the buttons for all he was worth while Danny leaned over the table, practically yelling out his unprompted backseat advice. "No! No! Watch out for the alien spit balls! Dodge! Dodge! Roll! Dodge roll! Now, swoop! Yes! Yes! NO!" And then, when Dash managed to finish level one by himself, down to his last life, Danny threw his arms around him. "Yes! We did it!" From the way Dash squirmed, trying to get out of the vice-like grip Danny had around his neck, Danny wasn't the push off he seemed at first.
Despite what everyone initially suspected, the delicate social order of the high school was far from destroyed by Dash and Danny's somewhat unexpected union. After a few days, the two groups separated once more and the other students found new topics of conversation.
The only change was that every once in a while, Danny, Sam, and Tucker would sit with Dash and his friends for a nice, if a bit awkward, lunch.