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The Bitch and the Dumbass

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As soon as she left her second period class, Adore flattened herself against the lockers beside her, waiting for the crowd to thin out a bit. The bustle of the hallways was always the worst on the first day of class, and Adore didn’t think it would be fun to struggle through alone.

Apprehensive, Adore peered down at the already wrinkled schedule clutched in her hand. She already knew her class for this period - Chemistry, with the Ms. Visage - but the room number had slipped her mind.

  1. Of course. The labs were all the way at the far end of the school, and they were gonna be a pain in the ass to get to on time. She’d had to listen to Raven bitching about it to her friends, loudly, the whole bus ride home last year.

Being late was a habit of Adore’s, but she couldn’t think of a reason to delay any longer. Sighing, Adore pushed back out into the crowd, trying to ignore the all-too-familiar feeling of isolation that grew stronger with every step.

A herd of chattering freshmen nearly knocked her over as she turned a corner, and she couldn’t help smiling wistfully. It had only been two years since she’d been one of them, but it felt like far longer. Ganja had been the loudest of all of them that first day, and Adore had felt invincible beside her.

Or, well, trailing behind her. But with Laganja, there wasn’t really another option. Adore had learned the hard way that you were either a step behind, or you were left by yourself in her dust.  

After what felt like ages, Adore caught sight of the room number, and hurried towards it. The hallway wasn’t as crowded here, mostly because the classroom was practically in the north pole.

As the heavy door swung shut behind her, the noise of the hallway turned to murmurs, and the scratching of chalk on the board grew irritatingly louder, drawing Adore’s attention.

Ms. Visage’s hair was as big as a pomegranate in a bun on top of her head, her upper body framed by the chalkboard. Her lab coat was rolled up to her elbows, and paired with alarmingly high heels, creating a look that reminded Adore of a student-teacher porn intro. She grinned amusedly, half expecting the older woman to spin around and order her to change into more proper classroom attire right there in front of her.

Tearing her eyes away, Adore glanced around. The room was empty, and Adore wanted to kick herself for actually being early - as she’d learned, when you’re labelled the school dumbass, the only way to maintain any kind of coolness is to act like you don’t care about class. She headed towards a lab station at the back, trying to be quiet.

“Miss Delano,” Ms. Visage said sharply, not even bothering to turn around.

“Uh - yes?” Adore managed to stammer, almost tripping over her own feet in her surprise and confusion.

“Nobody sits until I’ve paired you up,” she continued. “Stand against the wall.”

“O-Okay,” Adore said, stumbling over to the wall. “Um, how did you…”

“If you’re going to ask me a question, I need a full sentence,” Ms. Visage said more slowly.

“It wasn’t anything,” Adore said, trying to backtrack.

“Good.”

Adore swallowed. The door swung open again, and Adore sighed, relieved. A few more students filtered into the room, each looking around nervously before standing near Adore.

Pulling out her phone, Adore opened her email, looking for the list of students in the class to pass the time. She recognized most of people on the list, her eye catching on Gia Gunn and Vivienne Pinay’s names. She sighed. The two were inseparable with Laganja ever since she’d joined the dance team last year, and they were nearly intolerable as a trio.

Courtney Act, at the top of the list, made Adore nervous. Courtney rarely scheduled her classes without…Adore scanned the list, and groaned. Sure enough, there she was - Bianca Del Rio. She and Courtney had been fast friends since last year, when Courtney’s family had moved to the states from Australia.

Adore sighed heavily. The last person she wanted as a potential partner - Bianca - was one step closer to sharing her lab station all semester.

“Fuck,” Adore muttered.

“Profanity,” Ms. Visage snapped instantly.

“Fuck,” Adore repeated, provoking a sigh from the teacher.

Bianca Del Rio was smart, but she was a cunt. Notoriously a cunt. Being involved in theater and getting straight As (something that she made sure everyone knew) could’ve put her at the bottom of the food chain, but her sharp, hateful tongue and her undeniable fashion sense made sure she wasn’t even close.

Everyone (except the Seniors) either idolized her or was scared of her. Obviously, Adore wasn’t scared, not really. She just absolutely hated the other girl’s arrogance.

Annoyed, Adore locked her phone and slid it back into her pocket. She crossed her arms, and glanced back at the door just in time to see it open again.

A smaller girl entered the room, her long black hair obscuring her face. Adore frowned, not recognizing her. The girl glanced around, and as her eyes met Adore’s, Adore almost gasped.

“Ben?” Adore exclaimed, forgetting to be quiet momentarily in her shock. She wasn’t surprised she hadn’t recognized her friend - the formerly chubby boy she’d sat next to in geometry was now small, slender and wearing surprisingly pretty makeup, a wig, and a green dress.

“Adore!” Ben exclaimed in a higher voice than Adore had ever heard him - her? - use before, hurrying over to stand beside her. “I didn’t know you had Ms. Visage too!”

“Yeah, I do,” Adore replied, lowering her voice to a murmur at the mention of the teacher. “What - I mean, you look good, girl, but what…”

“I finally got the nerve to start presenting female this summer,” Ben half whispered, biting her lip. “I’m - I’m trans, Adore. I’ve known for awhile -”

“Girl, that’s fucking cool! Should I call you something else?” Adore interrupted, grinning. Ben had always seemed uncomfortable in her skin before. “Female pronouns? Do you need to borrow any clothes or makeup or shit -”

“Female pronouns, and I’m okay for clothes,” Ben replied with a smile. “And I go by Dela, for now.”

“I love it,” Adore giggled. She stuck her hand out. “Nice to meet you, Dela!”

Watching the delighted smile spread across Dela’s face made Adore smile too. Dela took her hand, but instead of shaking it, she squeezed it excitedly and scooted closer to stand beside her. Adore couldn’t help but laugh. There was something about this new Ben that was just so infectiously bright and happy.

A sharp cackle from outside the classroom drew her attention away from her friend, and she glanced back at the door.

“Shut up, I did not!” exclaimed a different voice, one Adore recognized instantly as Courtney’s from the Australian accent.

“That’s what you say now . Baloney, bitch!” the loud and raspy response was just as distinctive, and Adore sighed heavily.

“Oh, gosh, is Bianca in this class?” Dela murmured in Adore’s ear.

“I know, it sucks ass.”

Courtney and Bianca looked just like they always did, half leaning against each other, a stunning grin on Courtney’s flawless face and a mischievous smirk on Bianca’s.

The two positioned themselves nearby, Courtney checking her lip gloss in her phone camera and Bianca leaning casually against one of the lab stations.

“Why does she have her fucking sunglasses on her head?” Adore muttered to nobody in particular. “We’re inside.

“For the aesthetic, I guess,” Dela shrugged.

“And the jacket - really? It’s like, hot in here.”

“She looks pretty, though.”

There was a pause, as Adore looked Bianca up and down, unable to disagree.

“Stop being so nice all the time,” Adore said finally, rolling her eyes.

“Sorry.” Dela shrugged helplessly.

As Adore continued to watch them, annoyed, Courtney poked Bianca in the arm, pointing at one of the other girls in the room and whispering something in her ear. Bianca cackled, a wild grin on her face, one hand on her hip as she cocked her head and commented something in return that Adore couldn’t hear. Courtney squealed with laughter.

“If she annoys you so much, why are you still staring at her?” Dela asked, her tone soft but curious.

Adore opened her mouth to respond, then quickly closed it, and shrugged, looking away pointedly. She managed to listen to Gia and Vivienne bickering for a few moments, but then Bianca laughed again, and Adore couldn’t stop her gaze from snapping right back to her.

The other girl was playing with her dark brown hair, which was usually pulled back into a twist or a bun. Today, she had left it down, and it hung in tight curls around her shoulders, her acrylic nails tangling in the strands. As Courtney asked her a question, she pursed her perfect, matte red lips and shook her head, hair bouncing as she did.

“Adore!” Dela said loudly, elbowing her.

“Wha -” Adore jumped, and tore her gaze away from Bianca to see Gia and Vivienne standing in front of her, distasteful expressions on their faces. “What happened?”

“Bitch, where did you go?” Gia asked. “We asked you a question.”

“She’s in her own little world,” Vivienne replied in a low voice before Adore could. “You know what Ganja says about her. She probably wouldn’t have even understood -”

“You can ask again,” Dela interrupted, barely disguised annoyance in her tone. Adore frowned, wondering what Vivienne had meant about Laganja.

“We were wondering who you dudes wanted to be lab partners with,” Gia explained, and Vivienne snorted.

“I said I wanted to be partners with you, Adore,” Dela said earnestly.

“Yeah, I’m down!” Adore agreed with a smile. “Honestly, just as long as I’m not with Bianca, I’m down.”

“Why, you guys got a problem?” Vivienne asked.

“Who doesn’t have a problem with Bianca?” Gia snorted. “She’s a bitchy lesbo who thinks she’s all that. And let’s be real, honey, she’s not even some of that.”

“Mmmhm,” Vivienne hummed in agreement.

“Bianca’s gay?” Dela asked, echoing the question on Adore’s mind.

“She’s definitely gay for Courtney,” Gia snickered.

“I mean, duh,” Vivienne agreed.

“It’s a rumor, but it’s totally true,” Gia added. “I mean, look at them - total lesbians. Like, you can’t tell me they don’t have their sapphic ‘sleepovers’ with the doors locked.”

Adore looked back over at them. Bianca was pointing out something on her phone screen, as Courtney looked on from over her shoulder, her hand clutching Bianca’s bicep and their cheeks brushing together.

“Whatever, I don’t care about that,” Adore said, more loudly, shrugging. “I just think Bianca’s like, super bossy and I’d hate to have to work with her.”

“Don’t fear the girl, fear the devil inside the girl,” Dela remarked.

“Like, she’s just - competition, competition, competition, all the fucking time, like, bitch, everything isn’t a goddamn audition,” Adore continued, looking up and trying to find the right words.

“What’s this?” Courtney’s voice, far closer now, startled Adore out of her rant.

“Oh,” Dela squeaked, scooting closer to Adore as Bianca walked up beside Courtney.

“So what were you cunts saying about me?” Bianca demanded casually, her eyes darting over each of the girls in the group. After a moment of hesitation, Adore decided to face her head on. What did she have to lose?

“So, Gia asked me who I wanted to be partnered with,” Adore said, crossing her arms and meeting Bianca’s gaze. “And I said I was down with anyone, as long as it wasn’t you.”

“Oh, so you wouldn’t work with me,” Bianca clarified, raising an eyebrow.

“No, I wouldn’t. The vibes that I get from you are just, not cool, full on fierce competition all the time,” Adore said, shrugging. Bianca’s attitude was infuriating, and Adore felt like the dam was finally broken, and two years worth of annoyance were spilling out. “Like you always gotta be the best, and be on top of everything all the time, and, like, fuck being nice. I don’t need to be around that, bitch, I cut that out -”

“Well, isn’t that what we’re here for?” Bianca interrupted sharply. “Being the best? It’s academics, not fucking summer camp.”

There was silence for a moment, Dela vibrating nervously beside Adore and Gia and Vivienne watching the interaction as if it was the most engaging thing since Pretty Little Liars.

“I just feel like we both have really strong personalities, and our personalities would clash,” Adore said finally. “Like, if something went wrong in an experiment, you would sell me up the river.”

“Oh, well…I…” Bianca glanced over at Courtney, then back to Adore. Her eyelashes fluttered as she tilted her head, cocky as always. “What’s your name again?”

Gia and Vivienne gasped dramatically, and Dela’s hand tightened in Adore’s as she glanced up at her.

Adore pursed her lips, furious. Her free hand curling into a fist, she looked away, trying to come up with a snappy retort.

“Quiet!” Ms. Visage shouted suddenly, clapping her hands, and the moment was gone.

Bianca snickered and looped her arm through Courtney’s, a satisfied smirk on her face, before turning her attention to the front of the class.

Adore wanted to strangle her.

“As you already know, almost all of you were late,” Ms. Visage began, her tone sharp and clearly annoyed. “I’ll forgive it today, since it’s the first class. But those who still aren’t here, even though I’ve allowed ten extra minutes, will be marked late. And in the future, I won't be so forgiving about tardiness.”

There were discontented murmurs throughout the classroom, and Ms. Visage clapped again.

“Only one student was early - shockingly, it was Miss Delano,” Ms. Visage continued. Adore flinched, hearing Gia and Vivienne snicker beside her. “As a result, Miss Delano will be given first choice of a lab station for the rest of the semester. Miss Delano, you can sit at your chosen desk now.”

“Oh, shit!” Adore exclaimed in a loud whisper, the corner of her mouth turning up in a lopsided grin. She glanced around, and picked a station in the middle of the back row, slinging her bag over her shoulder and heading over.

“I’ll announce your lab partners now,” Ms. Visage said, with a stern look at Adore. “Miss Pinay and Miss Gunn. Mr. Firkus and Mr. McCook. You two, back row, with Miss Delano.”

The two assigned pairs shuffled to their stations, Vivienne and Gia whispering to each other under their breaths.

“Both Brians, at one table?” Adore could hear Gia comment.

“Too much gay to handle,” Vivienne replied, and the two giggled.

“Miss Chachki and Mr. Dam-Mikkelsen,” Ms. Visage continued. “Mr. Steinberg and Mr. Merrell. Miss Lake and Mr. Creme. You three, next row up.”

Adore flinched at what Ms. Visage had called Dela, and was about to raise her hand and correct her.

Before she could, Dela was raising her own hand, calling out the teacher’s name in a soft voice. Adore caught her breath. Dela - or Ben, as she’d been then - had never once said a word to a teacher in any of the classes Adore had shared with her.

“Yes?”

“Can you - it’s Miss Creme, now,” Dela said, her voice shy as she looked down at the desk. “If you don’t mind, I mean -”

“Of course, I’m sorry,” Ms. Visage replied quickly. Her expression was still neutral, but Adore swore she could see a softness in her eyes that hadn’t been there before. Maybe Ms. Visage wasn’t entirely evil after all. “Miss Creme. Is there a different first name I should note?”

“Dela, please,” Dela replied, the sweet smile Adore had seen earlier lighting up her face again. Ms. Visage nodded and made a note on her attendance sheet, the corner of her mouth turning up slightly.

“Alright, let’s continue.”

Ms. Visage continued to read off names, until finally, almost all the students were seated - aside from Courtney, Bianca, and a quieter girl, Alaska, who Adore knew from the music studios.

Adore tugged her lower lip between her teeth, her fingernails tapping against the desk in her nervousness. She really, really, didn’t want Bianca as a lab partner, particularly not after straight up picking a fight with her just a few minutes before. Alaska seemed sweet, and even Courtney was nice enough without Bianca next to her.

Not Bianca, not Bianca, not Bianca, Adore chanted internally. She closed her eyes.

“Miss Act and Miss Thunder,” Ms. Visage said finally, and Adore’s heart dropped into her stomach. “Miss Del Rio, that leaves you with Miss Delano. You can join her in the back.”

Adore buried her face in her hands.

“I can also dye my hair blonde and let the roots come in so I look like I’ve got a headband made out of horseshit,” Bianca snarked. “But that doesn’t mean I want to, or that I’m going to.”

There was a few chuckles around the classroom. Adore peered out from between her fingers, almost impressed that Bianca was talking back to the notoriously strict Ms. Visage.

Despite the fact that she was doing it by blatantly insulting Adore’s hair.

“Hey, no backtalk,” Ms. Visage retorted. “Get to your seat.”

Adore lifted her head.

“No, it’s fine, you can keep her,” Adore called. “I wouldn’t wanna make her resting bitch face even bitchier by forcing her to her smell my horseshit headband.”

“Profanity,” Ms. Visage sighed. Adore could see Bianca’s lips twitch, almost as if she was trying not to laugh. “Del Rio, I won’t ask you again.”

Rolling her eyes, Bianca walked over to Adore’s station, curls bouncing around her face, heeled boots making a noisy statement on the tile floor.

“At least I’ve got a resting bitch face instead of a resting idiot face,” Bianca added as she hopped up on the stool next to Adore’s. Lifting her sunglasses from her head, she set them down carefully, red nails clicking against the desk. “Fucking ditzy cunt.”

“Shut up, theater nerd,” Adore rolled her eyes, the corner of her mouth turning up slightly.

“Fake punk bitch.”

“Arrogant -”

“That’s enough,” Ms. Visage called, glaring at them. “I’ve got a class to teach.”

As Ms. Visage started to go over the syllabus, Adore glanced at Bianca sidelong. The other girl was looking down at her notebook, full lips still twitching with amusement. Her dimples were evident in her cheeks, and Adore couldn’t stop staring at them.

“Theater nerd? Really?” Bianca whispered, shaking her head slightly.

“‘Resting idiot face’?” Adore retorted in the same whisper. Bianca met her gaze, and shrugged, her eyes sparkling.

“It was funny.”

“It was next level lame,” Adore argued, half smiling.

“Not my best,” Bianca agreed. “You are an idiot, though. Probably gonna make me fail this fucking class.”

“Oh no, not a single smear on Bianca Del Rio’s 4.0 GPA!” Adore whispered dramatically. “She’ll never get into college now!”

“I’ll just take the lead,” Bianca muttered, rolling her eyes. “Nothing I haven’t done before.”

“Oh, so you’re that bitch,” Adore said. “Figures.”

“Someone’s gotta do it,” Bianca shrugged, grinning savagely as she glanced at Adore. “And I am the bitch, after all.”

Adore groaned quietly, dropping her head dramatically into her hands. She could hear Bianca chuckle next to her, and she groaned again, louder this time.

“C’mon, it won’t be that bad,” Bianca whispered. “I do bite, but you’ll get used to it. You must have thick skin. I mean, you walk around dressed like that every day.”

“Shut up, bitch.”

“Delano! Del Rio!” Ms. Visage called, interrupting her own lecture. “What did I say? No talking during class!”

Bianca stifled what was probably another one of her cackles, and Adore hid her smile in her hands. Even though Bianca was irritating and bitchy, she had balls. Annoying teachers was probably the only thing that kept Adore awake during classes, and she was pretty sure Bianca enjoyed it even more.

“You said I had a resting bitch face?” Bianca muttered. “Look at that cunt. I’d say she’s got a stick up her ass, but honestly, I think a dick is way more on point.”

Adore’s eyes widened in shock as she stifled a laugh, looking at Bianca to see her smirking at the front of the classroom. It was going to be an interesting semester.  

Chapter Text

In the first few weeks of chemistry class, Bianca learned three things (other than the class material itself) that she immediately filed away to think about when she was bored.

She also wrote them down, of course - on the backs of her pages of notes, when Adore was too busy daydreaming to pay attention. Bianca’s brain got so busy sometimes that it was best to keep a record of whatever she wanted to remember.

First of all, Bianca learned the right way to lean on her desk during the breaks in lecture so she could catch all of Gia and Vivienne’s gossip (without them realizing she was listening), to share with Courtney later. Through that, she also learned that the dance team captain, Alyssa Edwards, was the gossip queen of the school.

Honestly, if Bianca had a dollar for every time she’d heard Gia whisper ‘Alyssa says…’ in that annoying drawl of hers, she’d be able to live comfortably without even getting her high school diploma for the rest of her life.

Secondly, she learned that Ms. Visage was not the monster people made her out to be. She wasn’t easygoing, by any means, but her infamous mean streak actually made Bianca more inclined to like her. Ms. Visage was a judgemental bitch, that was for sure. But from what Bianca could tell, she really just wanted all of her students to succeed and live up to their full potential.

However, as far Bianca was concerned, Ms. Visage’s impression of Adore’s full potential was misguided. The teacher expected Adore to have full comprehension of all of the readings and material, something that very clearly wasn’t going to happen.

That led to the third thing Bianca had learned: Adore, despite being seemingly unable to focus on academics, wasn’t actually as dumb as Bianca and everyone else had assumed she was. When they did labs, Adore always had a relatively good grasp on what she was doing, and Bianca didn’t mind answering what questions she did have.

It seemed harder for Adore to understand all the lectures, but she seemed to be trying to. Even though her leg bounced almost nonstop and her nails tapped against the desk impatiently, she started out every class taking notes.

Halfway through, though, Adore’s focus would start to slip, and Bianca would catch her doodling in the corners of her pages instead.

And that brought Bianca to the present moment, 25 minutes into Friday chemistry class, with a page and a half full of notes on the properties of the noble and halogen gases in front of her. Beside her was Adore, with about two thirds of that material written down in messy handwriting, from what Bianca could make out.

The other girl was tugging on her lower lip with her teeth, and humming quietly as she carefully drew a series of small cats right in the middle of her page.

Instinctively, Bianca wanted to tell Adore to pay attention, but she doubted it would make a difference. Ms. Visage was only going over the readings anyway, and Bianca’s hand was tired from taking notes all day. She set down her pen, propped her chin up on her fist, and watched Adore for a moment.

Adore’s bright eyes were soft and striking at the same time, lashes fluttering as she surveyed her doodles. A lock of dyed blonde hair was slowly falling across her round cheek, and the slightly pouty, focused look on her face made a smile tug at Bianca’s lips.

As much as she’d resented being paired with Adore two weeks ago, Bianca was minding sharing a desk less and less every day. If she was honest, Adore was actually kind of...adorable. She winced internally at the unintentional pun.

“See something you like, nerd?” Adore murmured, smirking lazily as her eyes flicked over to Bianca quickly.

“Just wondering what it’s like in that messy brain of yours,” Bianca fired back quickly, her voice low and raspy. “Don’t you get dizzy, with how fast everything goes in one ear and out the other?”

Adore grinned, her tongue poking out between her teeth as she finished off the ears of another tiny cat on her paper.

“Maybe I like being empty-headed,” she replied, resting her cheek on her fist and smiling vapidly at Bianca. “I’ll graduate and be someone’s trophy wife, never work again.”

Bianca snorted.

“Better fix those roots first, bitch,” she retorted. “And get your tits done. Rich older men like tits.”

“How about rich older women?”

Bianca raised an eyebrow. Was Adore gay? For some reason, she’d never even considered the possibility. It hadn’t really mattered before, she figured. And it still didn’t matter. Biana forced herself to stop thinking about it.

“How should I know?” she replied finally.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Adore whispered, feigning surprise. “I thought you were one of them. I must’ve been confused by your worn out hairstyles and that grandma neckline.”

“Well, damn,” Bianca cackled quietly despite herself, covering her mouth. “Not bad for the dumb girl.”

Adore shrugged, still grinning, and turned her attention back to her notebook. Bianca tried to do the same, reviewing the notes she’d already written, but she lost interest quickly, and in a minute or so, she found herself looking up at Adore again.

This time, though, Adore was already staring at her.

“You really think they’re too small?”

“Huh?”

“My tits,” Adore explained, her voice low. “You really think they’re that small?”

“I - well, I hadn’t -” Bianca stammered, thrown off guard. She glanced down at Adore’s chest, and then back up to the other girl’s face to see Adore smirking at her again. “I mean,” she paused, trying to regain control of the situation. “They’re n-not too small, they’re nice tits - I mean, objectively, of course - but they’re not trophy wife material.”

“Aw, thanks,” Adore teased, batting her eyelashes rapidly and shimmying her shoulders. “Glad you like them. Yours are nice too, very -”

“- Don’t,” Bianca cut her off, slightly flustered. “Just shut up, you idiot.”

Adore laughed too loudly, and Ms. Visage’s droning voice fell silent.

“Oh, shit,” Adore muttered, covering her mouth with her hand. Bianca grinned, suppressing her own laughter.

“Delano!” Ms. Visage shouted sharply. “What did I say about talking during my class?”

“I wasn’t talking, I was laughing,” Adore replied, and a wave of giggles swept through the classroom.

“Delano, my class is not a joke.”

“Yeah, c’mon, Delano, it’s life or death here,” Bianca added, jumping onboard delightedly. Ms. Visage’s lips twitched.

“Sorry, Ms. Visage, Ms. Del Rio ,” Adore said mockingly, rolling her eyes and flipping Bianca off.

“Ms. Visage,” Bianca called, gasping with offense. “Adore’s being profane -”

“I didn’t say anything!” Adore denied.

“She flipped me off, that’s the same -”

“That’s enough, you two,” Ms. Visage cut them off firmly. “I have a lecture to get back to.”

Clearly satisfied with herself, Adore flicked her hair over her shoulder. Huffing out a sigh, Bianca tapped her finger sharply against Adore’s notebook.

“Get back to it, airhead.”

Adore flipped her off again.

Reluctantly, Bianca resumed taking notes as the rest of the period crawled by, glancing sidelong at Adore every so often and trying not to get caught up in staring at her.

When the bell finally rang, Adore nearly fell off her stool in her hurry to get up, her arms swinging comically. Chuckling, Bianca put her things away and slid her ever-present sunglasses back into place on her head.

“Bianca!” Courtney called. Bianca looked up to see her best friend standing near the doorway impatiently, with Alaska Thunder, Dela Creme, and Darienne Lake hovering beside her.

“I’m coming, don’t get your panties in a twist,” Bianca quipped, hopping off her stool and slinging her bag over her shoulder.

“We getting lunch?” Courtney asked as Bianca walked towards her. “Willam texted and said she’s saving the table.”

“Yes, Court, it’s lunchtime ,” Bianca replied slowly, as if Courtney was stupid. “When else would we get lunch?”

“Good!” Courtney linked their arms together, completely unfazed by Bianca’s rudeness. “C’mon, then. You too, Adore.”

“Huh?” That was Adore. Bianca looked over her shoulder to see the other girl frowning confusedly.

“Wait, there’s no way Adore’s coming to -” Bianca began to say.

“Yes, she is,” Courtney interrupted. “So are Dela and Darienne here. Let’s go, people, time to start walking. Haven’t got all day.”

“But, Court,” Bianca tried again, letting Courtney pull her along as the group shuffled out through the door and headed towards the cafeteria. Adore hovered on Bianca’s other side, and Darienne’s boots could be heard pounding the floor behind them.

“No buts.” Courtney shook her head. “I was talking to them before class, and they seem like pretty cool people. And you need more friends anyway.”

“Oh, fuck you,” Bianca snapped halfheartedly. “I guess this bitch is coming, too?” She nodded towards Alaska.

The tall blonde was a few feet away from Courtney, her posture surprisingly diminutive for someone decked out in combat boots, heavy metal jewelry, and dark eye makeup that gave her a ‘I’m so hardcore that I just got punched in the face twice ’ look.

“I dunno,” Courtney shrugged. “Alaska, are you?”

Alaska looked up, seeming slightly startled. She blinked a few times, running a hand through her messy hair.

“If you guys - if you want,” Alaska said unsurely.

“Court, she looks like she hasn’t brushed her hair in a week,” Bianca muttered. “I feel like something’s gonna jump out of that nest and bite me.”

“Of course, we’d love to have you!” Courtney chirped, ignoring Bianca entirely and waving Alaska closer with her free hand. “C’mere.”  

“I can’t believe you,” Bianca hissed under her breath, and Courtney squeezed her arm. “I swear to god Court, if you try to invite that bitch who looks like the product of a meth-ridden 3 AM hookup between Elvira and fucking Marilyn Manson, I will -”

“Sharon can come too, if you like,” Courtney added, cutting Bianca off before she could finish her whispered threat. “You two are friends, right?”

“You’re the devil,” Bianca muttered in Courtney’s ear.

“Oh no, that’s okay,” Alaska said, shaking her head and frowning. “Sharon doesn’t eat at the cafeteria. I don’t either. Not usually, at least.”

“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” Courtney chirped. “You’re with us, now.”

Bianca sighed deeply.

“Oh, c’mon now, turn that frown upside down, Willow,” Courtney said with a grin, elbowing her. “It’ll be fun! Who knows, you might actually find someone you like in the bunch.”

“I’ve got you already, I’m good,” Bianca said. There was a responding coo from Courtney, who squeezed her arm again.

“Aw, what about me?” Adore half whined on her other side, a lazy smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.

“What about you?” Bianca said, glancing up at Adore.

“Seemed like you liked me a lot earlier,” Adore teased, looping her arm through Bianca’s and pressing in next to her, almost as if she was mocking how the other two girls always walked together.

“Oooh, someone’s getting friendly,” Courtney commented with a giggle.

Bianca’s cheeks started to get warm as Courtney side-eyed her. Trying to pretend that she wasn’t blushing, Bianca rolled her eyes exasperatedly. She swore sometimes that Courtney was put on the earth just to embarrass her.

“Yeah, just this whore,” she snorted. Adore’s hand was brushing lightly against the inside of her wrist, and Bianca didn’t think she liked the way it made her skin tingle. “Get off of me, bitch, I wouldn’t wanna catch anything.”

Adore smiled charmingly, and Bianca pushed her off, making a face. On the other side of Courtney, Alaska giggled.  

The girls made their way quickly through the halls, other students getting out of their way at the mere sight of Bianca and Courtney heading up the pack.

The crowd inside the cafeteria parted like the red sea in front of her, almost eliminating the line for food entirely. As she grabbed a lunch tray, Bianca was suddenly glad that she was levelheaded enough not to let the rush of power get the best of her. She couldn’t stand the people who did let high school popularity go to their heads.

Bianca knew that she was a bitch. In fact, she owned it. But - in her opinion - it was never uncalled for bitchiness. If someone did something stupid, they deserved to be read, and Bianca would be damned if she wasn’t the one to do it. It was all just honesty, really, and if the truth scared people, they could just stay the fuck out of her way.

Which, of course, they did.

Which, in turn, bumped her, albeit unintentionally, up the social food chain. Bianca hadn’t sought popularity out, but she had it anyway - a combination of power through fear and admiration through concise fashion choices. And also, a burst of luck from having the school’s #1 overachiever and social butterfly at her side most of the time.

The people that did seek popularity out, though, the ones who wore metaphorical masks to school, fought tooth and nail for power, and abused it when they did have it, those were the people that Bianca wanted to roast like pigs on spits.

If their school had stayed true to the stereotype, then Courtney and her fellow cheerleaders would’ve been that sort of people. But at Johnson High School, it was the core of the champion dance team who formed an unbreakable, intolerable, and sometimes cruel clique.

Bianca knew Shangela, one of the best dancers, and she wasn’t so bad, just a gossip addict. She’d also been friends with Alyssa Edwards in middle school, and Alyssa wasn’t a bitch, just an often insensitive diva. It was the ones like Gia Gunn, Coco Montrese, and Tyra Sanchez - and more recently Laganja Estranja - who were the worst. They were the ones who couldn’t get enough of being the center of attention and talked shit about everyone outside of their social circle for fun.

“Willam!” Courtney pulled Bianca out of her thoughts with an excited squeal, wobbling on her tiptoes so she could see over the sea of people to their table. “I see her, Bianca, c’mon!”

Bianca grabbed her lunch tray, hurrying after Courtney as her friend trotted quickly through the crowd.

Wondering if they’d managed to lose the latest victims of Courtney’s almost aggressive friendliness in the bustle of the cafeteria, Bianca glanced over her shoulder.

No such luck. The rest of their little group was following along like ducklings, Dela and Darienne keeping up the pace pretty well. Adore was another story, balancing her tray precariously against her hip as she struggled to get the strap of her bag back over her shoulder and catch up at the same time. Bianca snorted.

The cafeteria was packed with students, but their table was mostly empty, aside from a couple of Courtney’s friends that she knew Bianca would tolerate. Today, it was two other cheerleaders: Willam Belli, wildly popular and probably Courtney’s favorite person on the planet, and Joslyn Fox, a sophomore who thought Courtney was a god.

Bianca raised an eyebrow, making a mental note to interrogate Courtney later for both choices - Willam, because Courtney was getting very transparent about the crush she had on the her, and Joslyn, because letting her sit with them could not be explained through anything other than Courtney’s narcissistic tendencies.

Willam, the object of Courtney’s attention, was poised perfectly on the bench, her multi-colored pastel hair in beachy waves that were clearly supposed to look tousled and messy.

There was no food in front of her - Willam didn’t like to eat in public - and she was popping her gum loudly as she looked down at her phone. She also clearly hadn’t noticed the excited blonde puppy that was Courtney Act hurrying towards her.

As someone who spent a lot of time on her hair and makeup, Bianca knew exactly how much work it had taken Willam to look careless, and she respected it, just like she respected Willam’s impeccable fashion sense and taste for expensive shoes.

All in all, if Courtney had to have a crush on someone, which she always did, Bianca was fine with it being Willam. She’d give the couple her stamp of approval, if she had to.

Courtney reached the table, hopping up onto the bench right next to Willam and immediately invading her personal space with a kiss on her cheek. Willam nearly dropped her phone in surprise, cursing loudly as Courtney wrapped an arm around her waist.

Cackling, Bianca sat down on Courtney’s other side. Resting her elbow on the table, she watched them as they interacted, gathering ammunition to use later when she made Courtney admit her hopeless crush and do something about it.

“You got lip gloss on me,” Willam laughed, setting down her phone and reluctantly letting Courtney pull her in closer. “Fuckin’ bitch.”

“It looks good on you,” Courtney said, grinning. “It’s your color!”

“I know all my colors, and that’s not one of them,” Willam replied, looking at Courtney. She paused for a moment before continuing, a smile tugging at her lips. “It’s not one of yours either.”

“Hey!” Courtney gasped, offended.

Willam laughed, her arm wrapping around Courtney’s shoulders.

“Don’t worry, you’re still hot,” Willam added, reaching up to brush Courtney’s hair out of her face. “Even if you are shit at makeup.”

“Aw, fuck off,” Courtney huffed, her cheeks pink. Willam grinned even wider.

“I feel like I’m gonna get my first and only cavity just from watching this,” Bianca said grumpily, waving her hand at them. “You’d think you’re a couple on a honeymoon, with all of this bullshit going on.”

“You’re just jealous,” Courtney said dismissively, resting her head on Willam’s shoulder.

“Yeah, she likes me better now,” Willam added, shrugging. Her words were clearly directed to Bianca, but her lazy smile focused only on Courtney, eyes bright and narrowed affectionately. “Sorry ‘bout it.”

Rolling her eyes, Bianca pointedly looked away. She wanted to commit that enamored look on Willam’s face to memory so she could describe it to Courtney later. Maybe it would help convince her to just ask the other girl out already, before Bianca did it for her.

After a moment, Bianca realized that Adore, Darienne, and Dela were all still standing around awkwardly with their lunch trays. Glancing to her other side, she saw Alaska hovering behind Courtney and Willam, looking very self-conscious.

“Well?” Bianca demanded, looking around at them. “Are you cunts gonna sit down, or keep making yourselves look stupid?”

“As if we’re the cunts here,” Darienne muttered, almost too quietly for Bianca to hear. Adore’s eyebrows shot up, and she glanced at Darienne sideways.

Dela nudged the trio over to the other side of the table, where an over-eager Joslyn Fox was waving them over with a smile. After a moment, Adore sat down across from Bianca, with Dela and Darienne beside her.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” Bianca arched an eyebrow, glaring at Darienne once the three were settled on the bench.

“Hm?” Darienne looked up at her innocently. “Oh, nothing.”

“Mmhm, sure,” Bianca hummed, deciding to leave it for now. She eyed Darienne suspiciously. There was very little that she knew about Courtney’s new friend, and it made her slightly nervous. She’d have to try to get information out of one of the less annoying dance team girls later.

“Courtney,” Bianca said, nudging her friend, who lifted her head slightly with a hum. “Alaska’s still…”

She trailed off as she looked behind them. Alaska was gone, probably off to wherever she normally spent the lunch period.

“What about Alaska?” Courtney asked.

“Nothing, she just left,” Bianca shrugged nonchalantly, ignoring the guilty feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Of course Alaska had left - they’d forgotten about her, and left her standing there awkwardly in the middle of the cafeteria. It wasn’t as if she was Bianca’s responsibility, though, so there was no reason to feel bad about it. It was Courtney who had dragged her along with them, and then promptly forgotten her entirely at the first sight of Willam Belli. Classic Courtney.

“Oh no!” Courtney exclaimed. “Where’d she go?”

“Oh nerrrr!” Willam repeated in an exaggerated imitation of Courtney’s accent. Bianca cackled. “Who’s Alaska?”

“I feel so bad,” Courtney said, a pout on her lips. “I liked her, I did!”

“Who’s Alaska?” Willam repeated her question, only to be ignored again.

“You forgot about her,” Dela put in from the other side of the table, her lips twisted in a frown. “I was waving her over to sit with us, but there’s not really enough room on this side.”

“Are you trying to imply something here?” Darienne asked, looking annoyed.

“Oh gosh, no, not at all!” Dela exclaimed, her eyes widening. “It’s just not a big bench, that’s all.”

“No, I see how it is,” Darienne said with a dramatic sigh, flapping her hand at Dela. “It’s fine.”

Seeming unsure of what to say, Dela glanced at Adore, who shrugged, picking at her food. Bianca narrowed her eyes as the table fell silent.

“Anyway, who’s Alaska?” Willam asked for a third time, breaking the weird tension dryly.  

“Tall punk bitch, blonde rat’s nest on her head?” Bianca replied.

“Ohhh,” Willam nodded. “Smokes under the bleachers with Needles’ crew sometimes?”

“Does she?” Bianca asked, raising an eyebrow. She’d known Alaska hung out with Sharon sometimes, but Alaska was a good student, and Sharon and her friends were the type of people that would end up in prison or dead in alleys, not in college. And on top of that, Alaska had seemed so self-conscious and quiet, it was hard to imagine her breaking school rules so openly.

“I mean, unless she’s got a lookalike, yeah,” Willam shrugged. “I’ve seen her there a couple times. Fuck, she’s so trashy, though.”

“Pot calling the kettle black, much?” Bianca retorted, and Willam grinned.

“Fair.”

“She’s really nice,” Adore put in, speaking up for the first time. “Spends a lot of her time alone. She plays the piano in the band rooms sometimes, though, during free periods. I think I’ve heard her singing, too.”

“Her makeup is terrible ,” Willam drawled.

“So’s Courtney’s,” Adore countered. Bianca cackled, surprised by the speed of Adore’s comeback. “And you clearly love her.”

“Hey, wait a second -” Courtney started to defend herself, perking up.

“Also fair,” Willam agreed, cutting Courtney off and stroking her hair soothingly, as if she was a pet, when she huffed in annoyance. Willam grinned at Adore. “I like you. What’s your name?”

“Adore Delano.”

“I’m Willam.”

“I know,” Adore chuckled.

“So why are you here?” Willam asked.

“She’s my lab partner,” Bianca said.

“I meant, like, all of them.”

“Courtney picked them up after chemistry class,” Bianca explained. “Said I needed more friends.”

“Sounds like her,” Willam snorted.

“I’m right here,” Courtney whined, nudging Willam’s shoulder with her nose like a puppy. Bianca just barely caught the flash of a genuine smile on Willam’s face before the other girl suppressed it.

“Wait, we’re friends?” Adore asked, resting her forearms on the table and leaning forward. “I thought you hated me.”

“No, we’re not,” Bianca snapped.

“But you don’t hate me, though?” Adore tilted her head to the side, a cute half smile on her face.

Bianca paused for a moment. Two weeks ago, she would’ve answered immediately that she did, but she wasn’t so sure anymore.

For as long as Adore had been on her radar, Bianca been grouping her with Laganja Estranja, mostly because Laganja and Adore had been inseparable Freshman year. She’d never interacted with either of them, but she’d heard Laganja talking far too much their sophomore year, when she started hanging out with the dance team girls. Now that she was on the dance team, she was insufferable.

So when Bianca had ended up in a fight with a loud and annoyed Adore the first day of class, it had been an easy assumption - if Laganja was a fake, loudmouthed attention whore, then her close friend was probably exactly the same way.

Obviously, Adore wasn’t. And come to think of it, Bianca hadn’t seen Adore and Laganja hanging out in a while anyway.

“I never said I hated you in the first place,” Bianca pointed out finally. “You were the one who came for me that first day.”

“You’re cool now, though,” Adore said, shrugging carelessly. “I mean, I can’t hate you, because you’re helpful, and sometimes you’re sweet, and you’re funny...but you’re truthful, but you’re a dick ...you’re like, evil-nice.”

“She’s got you down pat, Bianca,” Courtney commented, giggling.

Bianca smiled at the little speech. Courtney was right. And the fact that Adore wasn’t ashamed to admit that she’d been wrong before made Bianca like her even more.

If Bianca was totally honest, the shameless, raw bitchiness that Adore had thrown her way that first day of class had been the reason that she’d actually communicated with Adore at all instead of just ignoring her. Adore wasn’t very smart, but she was funny and filterless and she spoke her mind, and that was the kind of person that Bianca fucked with.

“Now if you’d said that to me on day one, Adore, I’d have been your friend from the start,” Bianca said, laughing. “But it’s gonna take a bit longer than that, because you were such a cunt.”

“It’s fine, bitch, I’m not trying to be your friend just yet,” Adore said, making a face. “You’re a dick, and you wear fucking sunglasses inside.”

There was a burst of chuckles from around the table, and Bianca could hear Willam’s wheezing, seal-like laugh above the rest. Bianca rolled her eyes, leaning forwards so she could glare at Willam.

“What?” Willam grinned. “She’s right. Wearing sunglasses inside is real fucking stupid.”

“Just put them in your bag?” Adore added. “It’s not like it’s hard?”

“Oooh, she reads Bianca, I like her,” Willam exclaimed, clearly delighted. “Courtney, can we keep her?”

“I’ll keep the sunglasses on, thanks,” Bianca retorted. “My hair gets frizzy, and they help keep it down.”

“Are you sure it’s not just because you wanna look cool?” Adore was smiling now, her eyes sparkling, and Bianca wasn’t sure she could take her eyes off of her if she tried.

“I’d look cool with or without them,” Bianca replied.

“That’s debatable,” Courtney put in.

“Yeah, I think it would take a lot away from the whole…look,” Willam mused.

“It does, I’ve seen her without them,” Courtney agreed.

“You’re all cunts,” Bianca said firmly.

All three of them laughed, and Bianca rolled her eyes, suppressing a smile. Maybe the new additions to their little group weren’t the worst thing in the world.