Zeke let his smirk settle onto his face as his natural swagger carried his beefy body down the halls. Pure testosterone sloshed about his veins haphazardly. His alpha male disposition kept his shoulders back and chest puffed out while his gaze swept over his peers. It was mostly scrawny guys he could easily beat up- beta males- and girls of assorted levels of beauty- potential mates. His innate cockiness told him he could have whichever girl he wanted and that, as top dog of Wagstaff, the jock owed it to himself to pick the hottest chick of the bunch. And yet he found himself approaching her locker.
She was not the standard definition of beauty- she’d never appear in one of the many dirty magazines piled under his bed. The girl was too thick around the waist, hips, and thighs to pass for the already ridiculous beauty standards set by the adult entertainment industry. What’s more this girl was smart. All his life, Zeke had been taught to go after girls dumber than he was (something that may seem almost impossible at first but can be quickly proven with a visit to the local mall). This girl was leagues smarter than him, although her motivations made it easy to miss the brain she housed.
Despite all this, she was the one his gaze drifted to when inattentive, she was the one who caused his heart to stutter like an old pick-up after spotting her at the other end of the hall, and she was the one that caused him to so frequently bite his cheek to stop himself from professing his feelings that a callus had formed inside his mouth over the raw flesh.
Reaching the outside of her open locker, he spoke to the girl concealed by the metal door. “Hey girl,” the undercut of his mild southern twang helped disguise the excitement in his voice as his usual over the top volume, “what’chu doin’?”
She groaned. She hated him or, rather, she used to. He was pretty sure she only disliked him now. “Zeke,” her monotone was strained, “hello.” The metal door shut with a clang and the jock could see her. Thick-rimmed glasses enlarged her chocolate eyes and sat upon a rounded nose. Dark hair outlined her face like a picture frame and slightly resembled a bicycle helmet. Her clothing was wrinkled and the colors had dulled. Tina Belcher looked nothing like the fashionable girl whose clones filled the halls of their school. It threw him for a loop and a half only to make a strange and heavy, yet fizzy sensation settle in the bottom of his stomach. He loved it.
Nerves caused his skin to prickle and his hair to stand on end as the jock fought to appear calm and relaxed. “J-ju n’ I were thinkin’ we’d hit Wonder Wharf after school today. We’re gonna have a contest ta see who can win the most carnival games n’ we need someone ta be judge.” It was a lame excuse. There were no plans to meet at the wharf- yet- but he could get Jimmy to agree easily enough. The redhead would probably assume Tina invited herself and wouldn’t put up a fight to her presence unless Zeke did first. His friend was a bit of a sheep but it was okay. The boy’s eyes stayed fixed on Tina’s expression. One fluffy, round eyebrow lifted in contemplation and her unpainted lips pressed together. He already knew her answer.
“Okay,” her tone was more pleasant now. For a split second his hormones flashed the idea of what her pleasured screams might sound like. This was shoved back down to his subconscious, only allowed to return in dreams and Freudian slips. Her dark amber eyes flashed back up to his. “But you should know that I won’t be an impartial judge-”
“I know,” Zeke interrupted her merely for his own amusement. The jock turned and began to walk away.
“Because I like Jimmy Junior,” she continued as though he’d never tried to stop her.
“I know,” he repeated with a wide grin stretched across his face despite the subject matter.
“So I’m probably going to side with him almost- pretty much every time. Just so you know.” Tina was finally done.
“I know.” The brunette called from the other end of the hall.
“Okay!” She called back. God she was adorable.
Zeke flopped into his seat next to Jimmy Junior. “Hey J-ju, what’s up?”
“Uhh… not much,” the redhead’s lisp was as thick as ever. The jock found it endearing now: a familiar sound that reminded him of friendship. “You?”
“I’m good,” the beefier male played it cool, nonchalantly glancing over his bruised and calloused hands. “You busy after school today? I was thinking we could hit the W. Wharf n’ have a tournament ta see who can win the most side games.”
“Oh, uh, I don’t think I can. There’s this… girl I was planning to meet. I think I’m gonna be busy.” The dancer’s voice was shaky and his coppery eyes darted away from his friend.
Zeke huffed in frustration. He knew the Pesto kid was bi even though the boy hadn’t come out to him yet. It might not be his cup of tea but the jock wasn’t going to judge. The wrestler didn’t want to rush his friend or make him feel uncomfortable but it was hard pretending to be oblivious. He wouldn’t sucker the boy out of a date just so Zeke could indulge in his guilty pleasure.
“Alright.” The mullet-sporting kid could easily stop his sentence there. It would be so perfectly neat and drama-free if he just- “Guess it’ll just be Tina n’ me then.” He could see the redhead’s head snap to the side in his peripheral vision. Why couldn’t he keep his mouth shut?
“W-what?” The nasal voice asked hesitantly. There was a hint of anger laced into his tone. God, Zeke wanted to just… punt something he was so frustrated. What he wouldn’t give to be able to wrestle all this awful preteen/tween/teen angst and drama nonsense to the ground followed by a quick kick to its nuts. One of his burly fists clenched as he fought to keep his cool. ‘You’re always cool with this weird territorial game J-ju plays. No need to burst now. You’re okay. Stay calm.’
“Nothin’,” the husky boy mumbled as he turned to look out the window.
“No, you- you said ‘guess it’ll just be Tina and me’!” The dancer was making it hard to stay relaxed. Zeke frowned. He was a boy- he wasn’t supposed to have to deal with drama.
“What does it matter?” The wrestler said monotonously as he turned back to his friend, “you’re going on a date with someone else.”
“It matters because she’s- she’s-” Jimmy junior couldn’t figure out what he wanted to say.
“Just go on your date and have a good time, buddy.” The good-natured tone of the southern voice frustrated the redhead. Instigating a fight with the usually adrenaline-filled Zeke should’ve been much easier than it was proving to be.
“No!” The Pesto kid folded his arms across his chest. “I’m going to the wharf with you two.”
“Great,” Zeke mumbled. “This’ll be fun.”