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Half a Problem

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His focus slips innocently enough at first. Curly red hair, freckles splashed across a small nose and rosy cheeks, warm brown eyes — not too unlike the idiot in the red cape but much, much more appealing. And then he notices ... Things about the white sweater and the blue jeans to match. Physical things.

"Mr. Tolentino."

Oh, no. No. No. This is not good.

"Can I skip this turn and go twice next round?" Chip tries, smiling weakly.

The answer is no. The answer cannot be no. He needs a moment. Or ... Maybe it's not as bad as he thinks. Maybe if he assesses the damage it'll be okay.

Half hard. Okay, he ... He could work with that, he just needs a second to tuck it into his waste band.

And then they're snickering because they know. Marcy, who isn't quite as hot as Marigold and her stupid white sweater, is snickering. Barfee, with his gross snot problem, is snickering. Logainne, who is like 10 and shouldn't know about these things anyways, is snickering. Leaf, whose stupid sister caused this, is snickering. Everyone. Except Olive.

At least she's nice.

Then again, Olive Ostrovsky being a nice person is not going to make his half problem go away or these jerks stop laughing at him. What can he do? They're all looking at him, is tucking it worth it?

Suddenly, something warm, burning hot really, is touching his arm. Olive Ostrovsky, stupidly nice Olive Ostrovsky with the pink overalls and who, according to Logainne, is pro-choice though still a virgin. And Olive Ostrovsky who has the clearest blue eyes he's ever seen, the slightest inkling of freckles, straightened brown hair.

Pretty girls are going to ruin him, he can already tell.

"It's okay," she mouths — or whispers, he can't tell.

Oh, no. Nice pretty girls are going to kill him, definitely going to kill him. Especially since his stupid testosterone is making him notice the physical things about them. Sure, he can't see any of her ... Chest or ... Lower region but he can see the outline of her legs and they look as pretty as her face and her hand feels so soft and small and he wonders if that hand would be able to take care of his problem and he's going to scream because he's pretty sure the half problem just became a full problem.

His face must do the screaming for him because her eyes go wider and she tugs her hand away from his arm and the burning stops.

He gulps, pulls his sign down, and tries not to waddle to the mic (as those jerks laugh at him and Olive Ostrovsky with the pretty legs and warm hands blushes furiously and makes eye contact with her lap). The word is tittup and he knows that word.

Chip remembers studying it with his brother, he spelled it correctly every time.

But then he didn't have a very full problem and thoughts of Marigold Coneybear and her white sweater or Olive Ostrovsky and her pink overalls stuck in his head. And he didn't think about the definition of tittup or those pretty legs moving like that around his waist or the physical parts of Marigold Coneybear doing that in front of him.

"T - I - T - U — " there goes nationals. And his erection.