Chapter One: Ordinary High School Student (II)

So it’s an exciting day at Rachelloon Productions; I finally figured out how to do those widget things. Sort of. Maybe I’ll do some more later, but for now you’ll all have to make do with a single page about the marvellous me. I know–it’s like giving a chocolate cigarette to a crack addict, but I’m sure you’ll all live.

In Troped! news I’ve decided pretty much how this whole chapter is going to go, and cut a few things from the outline I’d decided on back in ‘A Plot of Sand’. Where we last left our heroes, Cheviot made fun of Jericho in his English Lit class, the bell rang and everyone left except Amy and Mercedes, who now approaches Cheviot in an unsavoury manner…

*~*~*

“Mr. Cheviot,” she called, extending the last syllable of his name by an extra beat.

He was still smiling, though he must have known what was coming.

“Yes, Miss. Talbot?”

“I got your e-mail yesterday. About my grade.”

“Ah, yes. Did you have any questions about the catch-up requirements?”

‘Catch-up requirements’ was a phrase Amy pretty much expected to hear in conjunction with Mercedes Talbot’s name. It would have been a surprise to her if Mercedes hadn’t been failing this and probably every other class. But then, that’s what happened when you spent more time ruining other people’s relationships than you did paying attention to your own work.

Mercedes grimaced and stopped in front of the teacher, so close that he recoiled against the desk and Amy was almost sure she could see genuine discomfort. He kept smiling, but she was beginning to feel annoyed for his sake.

“Not really a question,” said Mercedes. “I was just wondering if I really had to do it. I don’t think I’m going to do Shakespeare any better the second time around.”

Cheviot sighed. “I’ve said before I’ll help you with it, Miss. Talbot. You’re brighter than people give you credit for; you just need to put in more of an effort.”

“Isn’t there any other way I could make the grade up, Mr. Cheviot?” she whined, and then she leaned forward as if to trap him on the desk, but he evaded her at the last second with a chuckle.

Amazed by the other girl’s brazenness, Amy began to seriously consider speaking up. This isn’t a middle-aged gym teacher who hasn’t seen a real girl’s boobs up close in years, she thought, angrily. Cheviot won’t fall for it; stop embarrassing yourself!

“I’m afraid your only other option is to repeat the entire year,” said Cheviot.

Slumping a little, Mercedes took up Cheviot’s previous perch on his desk and crossed her legs, tartan miniskirt bouncing above her knees with enough force from her abrupt movement that it showed off at least two more inches of leg than it should have. Sadly for her the gesture was lost on Cheviot, who had his back turned so he could open his filing cabinet.

“Would I get to be in your class again?” she asked, licking her lips.

“Unfortunately, the chances would be slim. More likely you would be in Mrs. Morrin’s class and I must warn you, she does ‘Hard Times’ every year. Why don’t you come along to the reading club after school and I can set you up with a tutor?” Cheviot picked a folder out of his filing cabinet, closed the drawer and turned back around. “Miss. Turner, for instance—”

Not me! Not me! Not me! thought Amy desperately.

“But I’m just way too busy, sir,” whined Mercedes, slithering off the desk and towards Cheviot again. She actually reached out and tucked a few short strands of black hair behind his ear before he could tilt his head out of her reach. “Things to see, people to do—you know what I mean, right?”

Cheviot sidled past her with the folder held up between them, somehow still smiling and somehow still calm.

“It sounds like you lead an exciting life. Have you thought about talking to our guidance counsellor about—”

“Ugh, they already sent me to her, but she’s so boring and the whole thing is useless anyway. What do I really need any of this for when I’m just going to be a supermodel, you know?”

Supermodel? Amy was incredulous. Sure, Mercedes had what it took to steal boyfriends from more ordinary-looking girls, but there had to be a million girls as pretty as her looking for the same position, and Amy’s bet was that the vast majority would have vastly more appealing personalities!

But Cheviot just kept smiling, and said, “It’s good that you have a goal in mind. Now, I’m afraid Miss. Turner wants to see me, so if you’re sure I can’t interest you in some extra help with your work…?”

Pouting, Mercedes rolled her eyes and turned to the door.

“I’d be happy to get some extra attention from you, Mr. Cheviot, but I’ll have to check my schedule.”

“Well, you do that and drop me a line when you figure something out.”

“I will. Goodbye, Mr. Cheviot.”

“Goodbye, Miss. Talbot.”

Mercedes mercifully left the room at that point, giving Amy and then Jocelyn a nasty smirk on the way out as she flipped her dark hair over her shoulder. Her stupid high heels clicked all the way down the hall. Amy found herself rolling her shoulders uncomfortably; amazed that Mercedes could literally make her skin crawl.

Cheviot meanwhile looked like he was trying his hardest not to cringe before he finally relaxed and turned to Amy.

“And how can I help you, Miss. Talbot?”

His eyes were green too, but naturally so—pale and tinged brown. Amy wasn’t so stupid as to have a real crush on a teacher these days, but she had to admit that she could understand why a good quarter of the girls at school apparently were.

He wasn’t even that stunningly attractive or anything; though hardly plain-faced either, with gold-tan skin, fine features and a small, neat, black goatee. There was just something sophisticated about his looks and mannerisms that made him compelling.

Not that it meant anything, of course. It was just the way things were.

“Um… about the reading group… ?”

“Oh yes, did you get the list for this semester?”

“Mm,” she nodded. “I was just wondering, uh… the first text is ‘The Clerk’s Tale’?”

“Yes,” said Cheviot, with a little resignation. “The school board wouldn’t let me do the Miller’s.”

Amy made a mental note to look that one up later. “Yeah, um, I was looking for it online, and some of the links said they were presenting it in translation… so I wanted to make sure we were doing the translated version, because that’s what we all thought was going to be—”

Cheviot was already shaking his head. “Oh, no,” he said, dashing her hopes. “We’re doing the original. I’m sending you all the files tonight.”

For a moment Amy had to stop and blink. Nervously, she mumbled, “It’s just that I looked at the first page of the original and it was kind of… incomprehensible.”

Cheviot chuckled. “The version we read will have a glossary. Don’t worry about it; Chaucer is always difficult at a first glance, but once we go over the conventions of Chaucerian English I think you’ll pick it up pretty quickly.”

Amy wasn’t so sure. But she didn’t want to press the issue and sound stupid, so she smiled faintly and nodded her head.

“Oh, okay. Uh, I guess that was all I wanted to know.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Great, thanks!”

She laughed a little, gave him a small wave and then almost lost her balance turning on one foot to the door. Crap, maybe she was stupid enough to have a crush on Cheviot. She hoped he didn’t think anything of it.

By the time she left the class she could see Audrey and Hannah had found their way to the classroom and had been standing with Jocelyn just out of her view in the hallway. She breathed a sigh of relief.

“Hey,” she greeted them.

“How was ‘the Chev’?” asked Audrey, accompanying her question with a little faux-street gesture. She sidled next to Amy and the four of them began to walk towards the exit.

“No one calls him ‘the Chev’, Audrey, that’s just stupid,” said Jocelyn.

“He was fine,” said Amy, trying to nip Jocelyn and Audrey’s bickering in the bud. The two of them had been best friends practically since before they were born—their mothers had met at a New Parents group on the colony—and by this point they were like an old married couple.

Audrey put an arm around her shoulder. “Uh-huh. The Chev is always fine.”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake, Audrey, stop it before I disown you as a fellow human being.”

Audrey dropped her arm back to her side, smirking. She wasn’t being serious when she called Cheviot ‘the Chev’, or even when she referred to him as ‘fine’; she wasn’t even in his class for English. But Audrey liked to tease Amy like crazy, and did so with a dry and comically bored tone.

Well, Amy found it comical anyway. Most of the time. Hannah too, apparently, since she was giggling beside them so much.

“Where are we going anyway?” she asked, as they walked out of the building and onto the grounds.

Hannah shrugged. “Movies?” she suggested. “The ‘Immortal Blood’ movie came out. It’s supposed to be good.”

“I don’t see how it could be,” said Audrey, “seeing as the books were a load of crap.”

“You think everything is crap,” Jocelyn told her. Then she grinned. “Maybe ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ is playing?”

“For Jerry’s sake, I hope so,” said Amy. “If he gets held back again he’ll probably have to take catch-up classes with just him and Mercedes.”

“Yeah, and then she might breathe in his general direction and give him an STD.”

“Jocelyn!” cried Hannah. “Don’t say stuff like that!”

Jocelyn gave her a look. “I’m serious though, you should have seen her trying to sex up Cheviot in the classroom just now—she was practically shoving her tits in his face going ‘give me a better grade Mr. Cheviot, and I’ll give you a—'”

“Okay!” said Amy loudly. Each of them swiped their Mini-Pads over the security barrier on their way out of the main gate. “Moving on, I’m totally up for seeing ‘Immortal Blood’, once I message Dr. Solus and make sure it’s okay. What about you guys?”

“If you don’t mind me making snide comments the whole way through,” said Audrey. Amy would have expected that either way.

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