1: Educating Kaylee Ch. 07bySpartan22©
Just as quickly as the Christmas break had come, it was already over, which meant both cheerleading and choir were also over. It was a new semester; everyone had new classes and different teachers, and the dreadful prospect of homework was just around the corner. But most importantly, Kaylee's play practice was now in full swing.
Casting had begun for A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Kaylee really wanted to play the role of Hermia. Despite how hard she studied the lines, the cruel fates just had to dictate, of course, that Cindy would be the one to win the part. Kaylee got the part of Titania the fairy queen. She was initially disappointed -- especially losing the role to that skank Cindy, of all people -- but the more she read the script, the more she tried to look on the bright side, picturing herself enjoying the role of the queen of all fairies.
Still, it bothered her losing out to Cindy. Not just with the play, but with everything. There was something in the air, something different about Remmington High since school started up again, that made her feel like she was slipping into second place as the self-imposed role of "beauty queen" gradually transferred over to Cindy.
Her former friend appeared to be usurping her power within their inner-circle, intentionally or otherwise; Audrey really seemed be the only friend she still had since cheerleading ended. Kaylee tried not to let it bother her, but shrugging things off didn't come naturally.
Kaylee spent a lot of nights at play practice. She had to listen to Cindy's continual self-praise night after night, infuriating her to no end; the only saving grace was that Audrey was also in the play, as one of her fairies, Peaseblossom.
She sighed, thinking about her dilemma and declining social status. Maybe Luke was dragging her down; socially, at least. The more she thought about it, the more she realized it wasn't as big of a deal as she would have made it into only a few short months ago.
In fact, thinking about Luke always gave her a sense of peace. Pondering this simple fact caused a smile to develop on her face as she thought about the affect Luke had on not only her heart, but also the way he impacted her entire life. He was the first thing she thought about when she awakened every morning. He was the last thing on her mind before sleep overcame her while lying in her bed each night. She wasn't bashful holding his hand; she enjoyed walking down the school halls where everyone could see them.
Audrey even told her she was being less bitchy and to thank Luke for that. Kaylee was amazed at her own level of happiness; she was always smiling and couldn't hide it, and it was all because of Luke. If dating Luke was the sole reason why she was becoming less popular, then everyone could just go screw themselves.
At the beginning of the year, if anyone had told her she'd be dating Luke Patton, the scrawny antisocial math nerd of the entire school, she would have laughed in their face. But now, things had changed so drastically. Luke had opened up her eyes in so many ways.
She loved it, but it scared her. She actually felt like she had grown up by leaps and bounds over the last few months alone, and she knew it was because Luke was rubbing off on her.
Whenever she wasn't at play practice, she'd find a way to be with Luke. A couple nights a week, the young pair would sit on the porch swing at his parent's house, holding hands and rocking gently under the night sky, talking about anything and everything. Kaylee loved talking to Luke; it was a different experience having a conversation with someone as intelligent as he was despite his lack of wisdom in the social arena. While she learned a lot from him, she also enjoyed taking the opportunity to teach him social protocols that he had no clue about. They brought out the best in each other, the stronger partner compensating for the other's weaknesses.
Even though the end of the night meant the two were reluctantly forced to part, she looked forward to the goodnight kiss. They had kissed before, but each time was like the first kiss all over again with Luke. He was so predictable; she could always tell when he was going to kiss her. He would first start off by fidgeting with his hands, and then he would begin stammering, and eventually Luke would begin rambling.
Kaylee in turn would coax him, squeezing his hand or caressing his cheek, letting him know it was ok. On more than one occasion when Luke didn't get the hint, Kaylee simply put a finger on his lips and boldly told him, "Luke, you can kiss me now." She didn't think he'd ever get used to kissing her.
The more she thought about it, the more she preferred it that way.
The weekend nights were the most special. Every Friday night, and every other Saturday, Luke drove Kaylee out to the countryside in his Challenger. He still drove like Miss Daisy, she teased him, but she didn't mind. Fast or slow -- it didn't matter -- she loved sitting next to Luke, gazing out the window and enjoying the quiet pace as farm field after farm field passed them by.
Kaylee remembered vividly the first time he took her into the country. Luke found a quiet place to pull over and park as the sun went down; no one was around for miles. There was a feeling in the air unlike anything else she had ever felt before; it was as if they were the only two people in the world. Luke escorted her out of the car and grabbed a few blankets out of the trunk, throwing them on the hood of the Challenger.
She recalled her own state of shock as she watched him throw a blanket on top of the hood, climbing up and offering his hand to her. He loved that car, but with the single act that would have made any true car aficionado pass out, it showed how much more he loved her.
That first night was magical. Luke instinctively drew her close; she smiled, knowing how uncharacteristic that was for him. He was so busy looking up at the stars, excitedly telling her about the constellations, that he didn't even realize he was pulling her into his arms. Savoring the moment, she wrapped her arms around his chest, looking up and into the night sky with him.
"...And you see that one right there? That's Orion," he whispered to her. She wasn't really listening to him before; he was speaking way above her head and she couldn't keep up. Plus, all she really wanted was for him to hold her, and he was already doing that.
"Are you listening to me, Kaylee," Luke chuckled.
Caught red-handed! "Sorry, I was just daydreaming. Or nightdreaming. Dreaming at night without being asleep, whatever you call it," Kaylee said stumbling on her own words, unable to explain what she was feeling. Lately Luke had the ability to even mess up the simple things in her mind.
"Orion. You said something about Orion," she quickly blurted, bailing herself out.
"Yes, Orion is one of the easiest constellations to see. See those small three stars in a row," Luke pointed out. "That's his belt."
"Oh! I see it," Kaylee said as her eyes followed Luke's finger.
"They're called Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. Orion was a hunter in Greek Mythology, which is why the constellation is also known as 'The Hunter'."
Kaylee smiled. "Wow, that's original," she said sarcastically.
Luke nodded and kept talking -- he obviously didn't get it.
Once again, he lost Kaylee and had no clue. She didn't mind; Luke could talk all night for all she cared. In fact, she preferred it. His voice was calm and soothing, and his peaceful words reassured her that he was still there next to her. With that thought alone, she snuggled up against him even closer. If she had her way, she would have ripped off his clothes and taken him right there. Not because she had a primal lust the way that men had, but because he was... well, because he was Luke and she was simply crazy about him.
She wanted to give herself to him; she had such passion that she was desperate for him to have. She silently cursed under her breath, remembering how he had to play the role of the gentleman, despite what she wanted. No matter; she would get her chance with him eventually, somehow or another.
By the time that night was over -- or any of their subsequent nights -- she still hadn't learned the names of any of the stars, and other than Orion she couldn't even remember the name of a single constellation. That belt was pretty easy to see, but that was about it.
But aside the education in astronomy, simply laying on the hood and cuddling with Luke while gazing up at the stars? She wouldn't have traded those nights for anything.
As amazing as life was with Luke, Kaylee still knew she would have to deal with what Audrey called 'The Bradley Situation.'
She never called him after she saw the video of him and Luke in their one-sided fight; she was simply too angry to face him and maintain any rational train of thought at the same time. Every phone call from Bradley was ignored despite the instant surging rage she felt whenever his number popped up.
When she finally saw him in the halls for the first time after Christmas break, it took everything Audrey and Mick had to hold her back.
Audrey later told Kaylee she thought she was seriously going to claw him to death with her newly manicured fingernails. Even Kaylee, after she had a chance to settle down and let her anger subside, was shocked at her own behavior. She was just grateful that Luke wasn't around to see the 'psycho' side of her, as Audrey so lovingly called it. It was like she had turned into The Hulk, complete with all of his anger and rage. His raw strength, not so much, but that wasn't going to stop her from ripping Bradley apart had he refused to quickly retreat.
Audrey joked, "Kaylee smash!"
Kaylee didn't think it was as funny as she did.
Bradley stayed out of her path after that. Every once in a while, Kaylee would catch him staring at her, sometimes from across the cafeteria and other times on the other side of the lockers, but once he was caught he would walk away. Kaylee smirked, watching his pathetic loser-self crawl away like a dog with his tail tucked between his legs.
Funny about that analogy. In her experience, most men were in fact dogs. Luke was kind of the exception, even though he fit the definition in a different way; he was more of a sweet, loyal puppy that followed her around with unconditional adoration, unafraid of putting himself at risk for her. She loved that about him.
She tried not to be selfish, but she absolutely loved the attention he showered her with. He wasn't the smoothest talker, or the most eloquent, but she began to realize she had an ability to understand what he meant where others didn't. For example, whenever he said, "You look good, Kaylee," she could look into his eyes and understand what he really meant was, "You look absolutely stunning, Kaylee!"
At first, it seemed like they had a pretty good after-school routine developed. Most of the nights when she had play practice Luke would go to the library to study. At the end of each night, as Kaylee's play practice wrapped up -- ten minutes prior to be precise, as Luke was always punctual and on-time -- Luke would finish up his studying, put his books and binder in his backpack, and walk to the other side of the building to wait for her.
Practice was frustrating for Kaylee. For some reason she'd always get tongue-tied on the line, "Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard". She liked acting, but Shakespear...what the frick was he thinking? Really, why couldn't the old English guy speak... well, English?
At least Luke was always there to comfort her, even when she was overwhelmed and felt like bawling her head off.
"Where's Luke," Audrey asked Kaylee after play practice. "This is like the first time in a month I haven't seen him here waiting for you."
As the two girls walked to the parking lot, Kaylee couldn't hide her irritation. "He said he had something with Aaron tonight. I think he's helping him with his documentary."
"Yeah? What is that documentary about, anyway? He's been working on it like all year," Audrey responded.
Kaylee shrugged, "I don't know. I think it's like that old show Seinfeld, minus the comedy. It's about a whole lot of nothing. At least that's all I've been able to figure out from it." But when Kaylee remembered the video clip Aaron played for her, starring Luke Patton in the role of the underdog hero who took on the bully, she bashfully added, "Mostly, anyway."
"So I take it things are going good with you and Luke? You guys are like always together," Audrey remarked.
"It's going pretty good," Kaylee said, although her smile was obviously forced. "I wish he would've shown up tonight, though. He's already planning on seeing Aaron twice next week, too, so I won't get to see him."
Audrey laughed, "That's not that big of a deal; so what if you have to share him for a night or two? You can live without seeing him for a twenty-four hour period. Besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder."
Turning her head towards Audrey, Kaylee made a point of showing off an exaggerated eye roll, "Well, as crazy as I am about him, I think he's even crazier about me, if that were possible. I just don't like the thought of him losing interest in me." Kaylee pulled out her keychain and remotely unlocked her car. "I mean," Kaylee said, looking up at the night sky with a dreamy smile, "I've never had anyone as mad about me before as he is. He's practically wrapped around my finger, but the thing is, I didn't put him there. And here's the crazy thing." She continued, "Every minute that I'm away from him, it almost hurts, you know?"
With a slight smile, Audrey unlocked her car and opened the door, nodding, "You have it bad for him, hun. I swear, you guys are gonna have like twenty babies together." Unable to help herself, Audrey joked, "Literally!"
Even Kaylee laughed as she opened her own car door. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves."
She tried not to think too hard about Audrey's comment; having Luke's babies was the last thing she needed on her mind.
"What do you mean you're going over to Aarons again? That's the third time this week! You said it would only be twice," she pouted.
Kaylee was frustrated. She wanted to reach through the cell phone and choke her boyfriend.
"You know I want to see you after your play practice, but he needs me. He took on a project a little bigger than he thought it would be, and I'm trying to bail him out," Luke told her apologetically.
Her sigh was clearly audible through the phone, "Luke, you're killing me! You can't just pop this on me on the day of. You have to give me some warning!"
"I know," Luke replied, trying to use every diplomatic skill he could muster up, "I would have told you earlier if I had known but I just found out about it. I told him he has to give me more of a heads-up; he thought he had an extra week and found out today that wasn't the case."
"Luke, I don't even care what kind of project he's doing or what he's filming, but can't he do it himself? Haven't you helped him enough already?"
"Well," Luke responded slowly, treading very carefully, "I'm just trying to help him out, like a certain young lady I know that needed help with her mathematics and chemistry..."
She just knew he was sporting a smug smile on the other end on the phone. Leave it to Luke to remind her how much she needed his help. And, after all, Aaron was his best friend. She sighed again, but this time it was one of resignation. "Ok, ok. You have a point. Just don't forget about me, cowboy," she whispered in a sultry voice.
His momentary silence on the other end was a clear indication she found a way inside his head. She gave a knowing, satisfied smile as he stammered, "I-I would never forget you, Kaylee."
"I know, honey, and that's so sweet of you, but I was being rhetorical. And I feel the same way about you. The play is next week, just please promise me you'll be there for opening day at least?"
Luke said, "Of course, Kaylee. I wouldn't miss that for anything. Normally I'd be tutoring four or five people this time of year, but since I'm only helping Aaron and Melissa it will be easy to deconflict schedules and make your play my first priority."
Kaylee's eyes opened wide and she clenched her jaw. She growled, "MELISSA? Who is Melissa?"
There was a period of uncomfortable silence on the other end of the phone before Luke finally spoke.
"M-Melissa, you know. Melissa Young. She's a junior..."
Kaylee interrupted Luke and exclaimed, "THAT Melissa? She's a slut! Are you kidding me, Luke Patton?"
"S-she's not... I... R-really, Kaylee, we're just studying..."
Kaylee grunted. She wanted to scream, You better be!
Maybe she made Luke too hot. She didn't regret giving Luke his makeover, but Luke couldn't possibly resist someone like Melissa.
She knew how tramps like Melissa operated. They started out innocently enough, but gradually they would fawn all over their prey, and before their victim knew it, their hooks were set in them too deep for any hope of escape.
She held her tongue as well as she could and said, "Luke, I'm not going to make you not study with her. Just be careful. I know girls like that, and I don't trust her."
Luke said, "But don't you trust me?"
Kaylee sighed, deflated. It took her a moment to think of a response. "No, of course I trust you, Luke. It's her that I don't trust. I just... I don't want to see someone take advantage of you. You dress nice, and you look really hot. That means certain types of girls will be coming out of the woodworks, gunning for you."
"But I don't want any other girls. I just want you," Luke said matter-of-factly, as if he couldn't figure out why Kaylee was so upset.
Kaylee smiled. She even felt a little guilty. He sounded so calm when he said that, like he didn't know how to look at any other girls. It was as if he really, truly didn't understand why she was overreacting. Maybe she needed to relax, but she couldn't help worry about his vulnerability.
But she had to make him understand; he was soooo naïve. "Baby, just remember, you're kind of new at this dating thing. You're a bit... shall we say, inexperienced. There are girls on the prowl out there that would love to chew you up and spit you out. I... just... be careful." She breathed a sigh of relief, now that she at least had that off her chest. The rest was up to Luke.
"Ok, Kaylee," Luke said, devoid of emotion.
Well, that was Luke. At least he understood. That was all she could ask for.
"Night-night, cowboy," she told him, hanging up her cell.
Kaylee couldn't help steal the occasional glance out into the crowd whenever she had a chance, despite being on stage. Especially during one of Puck's never-ending and long-winded monologues. She knew exactly where Luke was supposed to be sitting, but the seat was empty.
She scanned the rest of the audience just in case he sat elsewhere, but he was nowhere in sight. Besides, Luke was predictable and a creature of habit. He wouldn't even think of sitting somewhere else other than his assigned seat.
That meant one thing: He stood her up!! She couldn't believe it! And if that alone wasn't bad enough, his absence made it even harder for her to focus.
Audrey, or rather 'Peaseblossom', looked at Kaylee with wide eyes and whispered loudly with a closed mouth.
Slowly bringing her mind back to the mythological world of satyrs and beasts, Kaylee realized Brock, who was playing Oberon, had finished his rant and now everyone was waiting on her. She quickly spouted, "My Oberon! What visions I have seen!"
The rest of the night wasn't much better. She somehow managed to deliver her lines, although they came across flat and uninspired. It was a blessing when the play ended; as the curtain went down, she breathed deeply, feeling much like an animal put out of its misery.