He really was lovely.
She couldn't deny it, not that she had ever really doubted it. It was hard though, trying to get a good look at him from the front of the room.
Tooth was a diligent student, always sitting in the front of all her classes. She regretted this during the first week of junior year, after she realized she shared about half of her classes with Jack. He preferred the back of the room. She could only catch glimpses of the boy when she yawned, dropped her pencil, or did acrobatics at her desk (that wasn't too often).
She really didn't want to seem obvious. Not that he would ever notice her staring, Jack never noticed anybody, really. He was always thinking of other things and hardly paid attention to the people around him.
Tooth dropped her glitter pencil for the third time and bent over to pick it up, letting her unruly hair curtain over her face and hide her unwavering gaze. Through the strands, she could see his long legs propped up on his desk. His shoulders were relaxed and he was looking out the window, staring at the autumn leaves. The sun reflected off of the spills of silver covering his scalp.
Tooth was crushing. Bad.
She propped back up in her seat, biting her pencil before jerking it away. Ugh. What a horrible habit! She didn't want the wood to ruin her teeth. They were straight, pearly, and clean. Slumping down on her desk, she softly groaned.
She really wanted to see Jack's teeth.
'I bet they're perfect,' she thought dreamily.
She had never seen them really, because he never smiled. Or at least when he did, it was because he was laughing at the success of his latest prank, and he always covered his mouth when he laughed. Her cheeks heated instantly at the thought of his cheeky laughter. He covered his face so the adults wouldn't catch him, wouldn't realize he was the one that had pulled the prank. He loved those. It puzzled her how he could pull such extravagant pranks and never get caught. The last time she caught him laughing was when the principal was on the loudspeaker, raging over a mysterious someone who had put all of his files into the lunch ladies' freezer. By the time he had found them, they were stuck together and rock solid. She giggled into her arms.
"Toothiana! Is my lesson boring you? Do you need to take a walk down to the disciplinary office to refresh your mind?" the teacher scolded.
Tooth sat up immediately, knocking into her desk with her knees and making her pencils and papers go flying. The class chuckled and she just sighed. Nothing new here.
"No, Mrs. Crumpbittle. I'm fine," she answered softly.
Oh jeez, she couldn't stand this lady. Even though Tooth had the top grades in class, Mrs. Crumpbittle still found reasons to get her in trouble. She had extremely little tolerance for nonsense.
Tooth was sure it was because of her name. Her name annoyed the teacher. As the chuckles resounded around the room, she couldn't help but wonder how it would've been different if her father, Haroom, hadn't named her after his favorite thing, dentistry. By no mistake, yes, she adored teeth and dentition and good sized molars, but...! With all excuses aside, she realized how ridiculous of a name it was. Why would her mother, Rashmi, go along with it?
She fought the urge to sigh out loud.
Her mother. She missed her.
She had been deployed overseas when she had been given a higher ranking in the military. Her mother was a brave Air Force fighter, boasting the high rank of Chief Master Sergeant. Tooth knew her mother loved to fly and so did her father, so neither of them shed a tear when she was deployed. She would come back. She always did.
She giggled at the thought of how a simple dentist won over the heart of such a strong, resilient woman.
Still. In the end of it all, her name was Tooth. It was the cause of much of the teasing she'd ever gotten from other students. The fact that she actually obsessed over teeth made it even funnier to them.
She frowned. She was happy and bubbly! She liked teeth and dancing and spinning in circles, but she wasn't good with confrontations. She didn't think she could hold her own in a fight, not like her mother. She always backed down, and so the other girls always came for her.
"You like teeth? Gross."
"So you're dad cleans the crap out of peoples' mouths for a living? I can see you doing that too."
"What kind of ugly name is Toothiana? Ha!"
She shook the thoughts from her head. She couldn't let things like that get her down. She had good friends that didn't laugh at her or the things she liked.
She smiled. After this period was lunch, and she could see them then! She was sure they would all be waiting for her at the usual table outside on the campus grounds.
She would see North, the Russian exchange student towering over everyone at six feet, four inches. He would be sporting his usual fur-trimmed jackets and dark ponytails. He was muscular and large, with fuzzy eyebrows and bright eyes. He had a fierce look that scared off most people, but she knew better. North was a sweetie. He was still learning English, but he caught on fast and had taken a liking to their group in the beginning of the year.
And sitting next to North would be Sandy, the reasonable one of the group. He was fun to be around even though he was mute and narcoleptic. The school had forced him to take lower level classes with the other disabled kids until they realized he was a lot more capable than they had realized. Many times, Tooth had caught the chubby, blonde boy helping North with his studies. He communicated with them using a notepad that he carried everywhere, but they had all learned a little sign language just for him. Tooth almost laughed out loud as she remembered the big grin on his face when he realized they could sign a little with him.
And sitting opposite to the both of them would be Bunnymund. His name was weirder than Tooth's, but due to his quick temper and great right hook, most kids left him alone. He had moved from Australia when he was younger but the accent never left him. His parents studied animals and came to America to study a new breed of rabbit that had popped up in the region. Even though he had a sharp tongue and a short fuse, Tooth knew he meant well.
She looked at the clock, counting down the seconds. What a group they were! All from different places, yet they fit so well together.
Even her own appearance was different. Her father being from Thailand and her mother of Indian descent, Tooth was a strange, exotic thing. Her skin was a light brown, as if the sun had kissed it for a little too long. Despite her Asian heritage, for some strange reason her hair had turned out a dirty blonde instead of a normal black. Her eyes were a bright purple, making every other person she met ask if she was wearing colored contacts. A genetic anomaly, she figured. She had put dyed streaks of blue and purple in it last week. Her father nearly went into cardiac arrest, but her friends thought it fit her bright personality. Surprisingly, the colors looked fitting on her.
She twirled some of the blue strands around her finger and looked over her shoulder to the back of the room once more. The lanky boy was grabbing his bag and staring at the clock, muttering the seconds under his breath.
Jack Frost. The coldest kid in town. He didn't like talking to anyone, touching anyone, looking at anyone, he didn't like people.
But Tooth liked him. She liked him a lot.
She drifted off, still twirling her hair and gazing when his eyes shot over to her. She nearly choked, jerking back around and slapping her hand to her side. Oh gosh!
The bell rang loudly and the class sounded as if a herd of buffalo ran through it as the students shuffled out. Tooth quickly picked her fallen things up off the floor and shoved them into her knapsack. He had seen her staring, ugh. He probably thought she was some kind of creep.
She hoisted her knapsack on and jogged over to the door, eager to leave this horrible class. The moment she stepped through the doorway and turned down the hall, she ran into something hard.
The impact jerked her out of her thoughts as the breath shot out of her chest. Tooth was usually graceful and poised, rarely out of balance like this. She nearly fell over, but two hands gripped onto her arms and pulled her upright. She swayed back into the body, cautious of not slipping again. Oh thank goodness she didn't fall and make a fool of herself! Now, who had she run into? She just had to apologize, running around like that and not paying attention-
She stopped. Her cheek was nuzzling into a blue sweater. One with ratty, bitten drawstrings. The name barely made it into her head before she was shoved back, violently.
She stumbled backwards, having to catch herself again. Tooth stood face to face with Jack Frost. His bag was slung over one shoulder and he looked...annoyed. The air around them grew extremely heavy.
She scrambled for the right words to say in the tense moment.
"I-I-I'm really sorry about that, I-I wasn't looking-" she stammered out, cringing at the way her nervousness was crippling her ability to speak.
He shook his head impatiently and held up his hand, cutting off her poor excuse.
"Watch where you're going," he snapped. His voice was hard and she couldn't help but look away from the frustrated expression on his face.
She hadn't meant to upset him. She really liked Jack. Or at least, she thought she did.
Summoning forth her last bit of courage, she tried again, softer this time.
"...Honestly, I am sorry, I really hadn't seen you standing there, I wasn't paying attention-"
He absently wiped the dust from his clothes, ignoring her attempt at an apology and how she grew more and more quiet. Her voice died down the more he was inattentive and Tooth was painfully whispering by the time he finished wiping himself off and brushed past her.
She slumped. He hadn't even listened to her.
The back of her throat closed up and her face burned as she rubbed at her forehead with a trembling hand. She squeezed her eyelids shut and began to walk away hoping to find her friends soon. She didn't realize that the boy had such a hold on her, that he could make her feel this useless from uttering only a few words.
Her walk turned into a jog as she raced to the school exit, hoping that the cold autumn breeze would cool down her steamed and embarrassed face.
He was still lovely to her, even with that ugly scowl on her face. She really did like Jack.
Even if he didn't like anybody else.
"Hello Tooth," North greeted brightly in his heavy accent, "What is wrong? Why you have long face?"
Tooth sighed and smiled as she approached the table. As she predicted, they were all there, waiting for her. The embarrassment and the pain didn't feel as bad anymore when she saw their bright faces.
"Oh, nothing Nicholas. It's just been a rough day. Mrs. Crumpbittle gave me a hard time, that's all." She didn't want to tell them about Jack. She didn't want to make things awkward around the boys by talking about her crush, and she didn't want the three of them to hunt Jack down and force him to be kind to her. She didn't want any trouble.
North nodded, "Yes, the professor of history? She is slow in the voice and ugly in the face, makes class no fun. I sleep always in history. That is why Sandy must always help me!" he laughed a huge laugh from deep in his belly, enjoying his own joke.
The others laughed and Tooth sat herself beside Bunnymund, pulling out her lunch.
"Hello, Sandy!" she signed.
"Hi Tooth." he responded swiftly.
She looked over to Bunnymund and nodded before looking to her lunch and then the campus grounds. The leaves were changing color this time of year. Winter would be arriving soon. She poked at her sandwich absently.
The three young men observed her quietly before Bunnymund broke in, "North's right Tooth. We know what you said about Mrs. Crumpbittle is bull, she's rotten to everyone. Give us blokes a fair go and tell us what's really going on."
Tooth shook her head slowly. She was to Bunnymund's blunt nature. That was just how he was.
"It's honestly nothing guys!" she looked to them and smiled, trying to express that she was okay. "It's just been a rough day like I said, that's all."
Bunnymund shrugged and went back to his vegetarian lunch. North was already chowing down on a big sub sandwich and Sandy was napping, typical with his narcolepsy.
She sighed happily. They always cared for her and she appreciated it greatly. Once she became friends with the three of them, her troubles had diminished. Bullies grew nervous at the thought of approaching a girl with three other dudes, and girls couldn't mess with her for being alone anymore. They were the bright spots in her life and she loved them all like brothers.
She reached in her bag to grab her teeth scrapbook and look through it. She knew it was the weirdest thing ever, but she liked to collect pictures of nice teeth and look at them. She sketched pictures of canines, molars, and incisors. North had even let her take a photograph of his strong teeth to tape into the book. She loved looking through it and she knew that here, with her friends, she wouldn't have to worry about being ridiculed. She sifted her fingers through the bag, but couldn't find the scrapbook. Huh? Where was it? Had she left at her desk in class? Oh no...it had her name in it and everything! It had the names of people whose teeth she wanted to get a better look at.
It had Jack's name written all over it. She cringed.
Her fingers brushed past a tin in the knapsack. She gasped.
"Oh! That reminds me! I brought you guys something."
They all perked up except for Sandy who was still snoring away. She dug into her knapsack and pulled out a case that was stock full of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies. They all made noises of satisfaction and reached for the cookies.
"I made them for you guys last night after I finished my essay! I hope they're good." she smiled brightly and began doodling in her notebook as they chowed down on the treats. She would look for the scrapbook as soon as they finished the cookies.
"Sandy, wake up, try these." North nudged the blonde boy. He didn't move. "Sandy, cookies. Sandy? Up. Wake up, I said. SANDY WAKE UP." he bellowed.
Sandy jerked awake. North handed him a cookie and they both smiled warmly. Tooth laughed. She loved things like this, being with them. She looked back at the red trees to see the leaves fall. Her eyes widened.
There he was. Strolling up the pavement to their table. With her scrapbook. Her scrapbook. The scrapbook with her teeth paraphernalia and her teeth sketches and people's names everywhere, her damning scrapbook.
The boys' munching sounds quieted down as the newcomer approached their table.
Tooth didn't know whether to be happy at the sight of the book again or to bolt.
Jack was at their table before she could decide on what to do, holding the book out to her. His snowy hair was ruffled and his white skin was a bit flushed in the cheeks, like he had been running around school to find her.
"Here. You dropped this earlier. Why don't you sit in the lunch room like other kids? It took forever to find you."
Her jaw dropped. He looked for her?
"Don't answer that," he sighed, running his other hand through his hair wearily, "Just take it." He thrust the book at her. It tumbled off her lap and onto the ground as she scrambled to grab it.
"Oi!" Bunnymund started, getting up from the table. He didn't like the way this guy had just waltzed over and started chucking stuff at Tooth. He didn't like the way he spoke to her either. He was asking for it! Tooth pulled on his arm, sitting him back down.
Jack turned to leave and Tooth was racing for something to say to stop him. She had to thank him, apologize to him, anything to get his attention for five seconds.
She looked to the bin of cookies. That was it!
"Wait!" she called out, snatching the tin and leaping up. Jack's step didn't falter, so Tooth ran and placed herself in front of him. She didn't realize her hands were trembling again because her voice came out steadier this time around.
"Here," she kept it brief, holding out the tin of cookies, "please take some! As an apology for earlier."
He stared at the bin before looking back at her, unsure.
"I made them myself." Tooth added quietly.
She wanted to try. She wanted to get to know this frigid boy, maybe see what he was like when he thawed out a bit. She could already tell he was lovely. Even though he had shoved her earlier and bit out his words in the meanest way, he still returned her book. He didn't make fun of her for it, he didn't throw it in the trash or the lost and found box, and he didn't give it to the other kids to laugh over. He went to find her and returned it.
Maybe he wasn't so cold after all.
She stopped breathing as a pale hand slowly reached into the bin and pulled out a cookie. He held it like it was some kind of alien creature, like he had never seen a cookie before. She was almost afraid he would put it back in the bin, or worse, drop it on the ground. Her fears were dispelled as Jack timidly bit into the cookie, chocolate smearing on his bottom lip.
Tooth bit into her own lips longingly. He really was lovely.
He nodded for a moment, still. She was still. The boys at the table were still.
Jack's eyebrows raised and he took another bite. Tooth could feel the pride welling up from the bottoms of her toes to the tips of her hair. He liked them.
"Well, I'll be damned. These are pretty good." Jack rasped out through a mouthful of warm cookies. His voice wasn't as hard anymore.
Tooth couldn't help but smile brightly. She was getting through to him. Sure, Jack hadn't smiled or anything, and she was sure they weren't even acquaintances yet, but...it was something.
Tooth eagerly held out the container as Jack grabbed a handful of cookies and shoved them in his jacket pockets, already eating another one.
"Thanks," he said walking off before slowing down and turning back once more, a crooked grin on his face, "...Tooth."
She nodded, blushing, not sure if he was poking fun at her or not. "No problem!"
He continued walking backwards, facing her and munching on the cookies she made.
"Nice drawings, by the way. In the scrapbook. Kinda' strange, though. Next time you make cookies, find me, yeah? Oh, and Tooth?"
"Yes?" she answered swiftly, happy about the compliment and eager to hear more of that smooth voice of his.
He pulled a sly grin, and maybe Tooth was seeing things, but she was sure that Jack Frost had the whitest, brightest, and nicest teeth that she had ever seen on any human being, ever. She wanted to swoon.
"The next time you want to see my pearly whites...? All you gotta' do is ask." he pointed at his sly smile and chuckled at the way her shoulders froze up and her face turned red.
Tooth wanted to turn into a bomb and explode. It felt like one was going off in her face as her cheeks grew warmer and warmer. He had seen his name in her teeth scrapbook among the others. He knew about her weird obsession!
His smile vanished as he bit into another cookie, walking back down the dirt trail off the campus grounds. Ditching school. Again.
Tooth turned back to the table, her friends having seen everything. She couldn't hide her embarrassment as she sat back down and placed the container back on the table.
North broke the awkward silence.
"So...since other boy took like, eight cookies, may I take more?"
Tooth nodded weakly.
North cried out gleefully before shoving his hands in the container and taking half of the cookies left. Sandy shrugged and went for the rest before North could inhale all of the remaining food. Bunnymund watched Tooth shrewdly, looking back and forth between her and the receding boy, Jack.
Tooth sighed, burying her face into her arms to hide her happy expression. Jack Frost, the coldest boy in the entire town, the boy who didn't like anybody, who didn't talk to anybody, who didn't befriend anybody; the boy who pulled pranks and ditched school and was cold to everyone-
-he had smiled at her.