“This is your fourth time in my office just this month.” Principal Ethans reads over the pink referral paper that has Matthew Mixon’s name and a bunch of angry scribbles from the lunchlady.
Matt tilts his chair back, his arms folded across his chest. “I didn’t know throwing cherry Jell-O was a criminal offense.”
Principal Ethans sighs and rubs her face, shaking her head. “Matthew, everyone knows that throwing anything in the cafeteria will get you sent here.”
She gives Matt a small smile and slips her glasses back on. Principal Ethans is probably the nicest principal he’s ever had, and Matt’s pretty proud of himself for charming the hell out of her. It’s saved him from the endless days of detention he should have gotten.
“I really don’t want to have to do this, Mr. Mixon, but given that we’re two months into this semester and you’re on first name basis with the secretary at Student Services, I don’t think I really have a choice. With all of your charges,” she holds up the small stack of pink slips that are kept paperclipped in his personal file, “this will add up to quite a few days of In-House suspension and Saturday School.”
“What? Principal Ethans, c’mon--”
She cuts him off, “That is unless we can come to an agreement.”
Matt eyes her suspiciously, leaning forward in his chair and resting his elbows on his knees. “What kind of agreement?”
“You can either suffer In-House punishment with Coach Zwart and write the same essay every day,” Matt shudders at the idea, “or you can be the mascot at the rest of the football games this season.”
“Wait, what about Geoffrey Thomas? I thought he was the mascot this year?”
“Mr. Thomas suffered a, uh...minor injury. That means he can’t this year.”
“What kind of minor injury?”
“Something about a groin muscle.”
“Oh,” Matt says, “Principal Ethans, can’t you cut me a break? I thought we were amigos here.”
“Those are your options,” she leans back and crosses her arms with a smug smile on her face. Matt narrows his eyes and glances between the pink slips and her face before sighing in resignation.
“Fine, I’ll be the mascot. However, I just want to say now that the fact that our mascot is a devil is pretty politically incorrect--”
“Thank you, Mr. Mixon, your concern is duly noted.”
The mascot costume is even worse than Matt had ever imagined. It’s stuffy, uncomfortable, and really fucking hard to see out of when he’s running around the sidelines with the cheerleaders.
“This is bullshit,” Matt mumbles to himself, adjusting the head of the costume. “Why did you agree to this, Matt? You would’ve been so much better off writing essays for Coach Zwart. You dumb fuck.”
The worst part about being the mascot is running with the school flag whenever their team makes a touchdown. Running is almost impossible in the fucking costume and not being able to really see anything kind of sucks.
“Matt, grab the flag and go!” The cheer coach yells at him. The marching band starts to play and Matt grabs the flag off of the fence and sets off for his sprint across the field. He almost makes it without any injuries or casualties--almost--but then Matt’s tripping over his own goddamn feet and landing face first into the dirt at the end of the field. The devil’s head flies off and Matt groans as he pulls himself back onto his feet.
“Holy shit, are you okay, dude?” A voice behind asks. Matt looks up at see some dude watching him through the fence with a sincerely concerned expression. Matt’s seen him around before, specifically coming out of the principal’s office with a bruised face and bloody nose. He gave Matt a grin as he walked past and Matt stared after him until Principal Ethans called him in.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m cool.” Matt says, trying to hide the blush that burns his face. He retrieves the devil’s head and flashes the guy a quick grin before tugging it back on and hustling back to the other end of the field.
His name is Andy Hurley. Matt finds this out through Ryan Morgan, who apparently knows everyone in the hardcore scene.
“I’ve seen him around at shows and stuff.” Ryan explains, not looking up from the math homework he’s scrambling to finish.
Matt asks, “Do you know anything about him?”
Ryan glances up at him and shrugs. “All I know is he’s edge and he’s into the hardcore scene. Kage probably knows more about him than I do.”
“Why do you want to know about Hurley?” Kyle whispers. Matt found him hiding in the depths of library reading comics instead of doing any actual school work.
“Because, I just do, okay?” Matt whispers back.
Kyle rolls his eyes. “I don’t know much about him, dude. All I know is he’s edge, vegan, and he’s a drummer.”
“For what band?”
“I think he’s in between bands right now, but I’m not sure.” Kyle shrugs.
“I hear you’ve been asking around about me.” Matt looks up from his spot on the front steps of the school and shades his eyes. Andy stands there, giving him a little smile, his arms crossed as he leans against the railing opposite of Matt.
Matt tries to be cool. “Oh, yeah? Who told you that?”
“Kyle Johnson,” he answers easily.
“Motherfucker sold me out,” Matt mutters to himself.
Andy shifts his weight, still smiling and Matt really wishes he wouldn’t because it’s making it hard to be pissed off at Kyle right now. “Any reason why?”
Matt shrugs, “Just curious.”
Andy doesn’t push it, but he doesn’t leave either. Instead, he pulls a folded up piece of bright yellow paper from his back pocket and hands it to him. Matt unfolds it and sees that it’s a flier for a show on Saturday.
“My band is playing, if you want to go. And maybe we can hang out after, or whatever.” Andy says.
Matt grins so hard it feels like his face my break. He folds the paper back up and shoves it into his own pocket before looking up at Andy and nodding.
“Yeah, that sounds cool. I’ll definitely be there.”