MISFITS
a high school cliques rp
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 tough it out [past], ft. chet
FLOSSOffline24 POSTS
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Her father had a thing.

This was the only thing he'd told her, before shooing her out of the house. She'd gone with good humor, of course, glad to see her aging father in such good spirits; but her vacating the household for his mystery event left her somewhat adrift, and with nothing scheduled at the training center she'd wandered downtown for a snack and some window shopping.

Hence her passing a display in one of the larger department stores and executing an artful double take, at the sight of one Chet Cherry further down the aisle. Somehow he didn't see her, likely because she was partially hidden behind a stack of dinnerware; all the better, considering the student's recent habit of ditching both class and her patrols to escape school grounds.

She lingered briefly, chewing pensively on a donut while she thought. Likely Chet didn't want to see any more of her than he had to, considering they were rather diametrically opposed most of the time. Dealing with the fallout of his growing discipline problems gave her no small share of grief, over the weeks - but grief was the topic of the hour, wasn't it?

She remembered hearing briefly about it, in murmurs passed back and forth in the faculty lounge. Far be it from her to pry while on the job, but, well.

She wasn't on the job right now.

So she strode straight down the aisle toward him, slinging her free hand around the boy's neck and leaning slightly to prevent him from running. "Howdy doody, Chet." She was horribly aware of how lame the greeting was, grinning widely at him in spite of it. "Having a good weekend?"

jaronartOffline7 POSTS
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In Chet's defense, he wasn't supposed to know that kicking the wall that hard would've caused it to break, his foot going straight through the drywall. He thought maybe he could just call someone to fix it up quick and pay them off, but his father had found out first. And then insisted that he patch it up himself.

"Your room, your fix," Father had said. Screw that. What was the point of their money if not to get other trained professionals to do the job for him? This was — is — utter bullshit.

Of all things he expected when going to the department store, meeting with the security officer certainly was not on his list. And when she slides an arm across his shoulders, he thinks he's in deep shit.

The sudden physical contact has him tensing his shoulders and whipping his head around to follow the voice. The greeting is lame, he thinks. So, so lame.

Chet's smile is more of a grimace. "Hi Miss Li," he grumbles. "Weekend's going fine." Or was until she showed up and cornered him.

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She had thick skin to begin with, but her first year at Ridgeview had all but cemented the fact, with the more rough-cut kids taking easy jabs at her age and the stickler nature of her job. The transition from ignoring them to calling them out in return had been swift, combining with her naturally terrible humor so that now she could unload as many vividly uncool phrases onto Chet as she could think of.

"Whatcha lookin' for, cool kid?" She released him after, having noted the uncomfortable tension in his shoulders and withdrawing to be safe. She doubted he'd sprint away first thing, now that she'd effectively cornered him into a conversation. "I didn't take you for a window shopper."

He looked about the same as he did in school, when he could be bothered to attend. For her part, she'd only thrown a light coat over her thin sweater and jeans, looking for the most part like a neighborhood mom instead of someone paid to keep the peace at a local high school.

She glanced at the shelf next to them both and quirked a smile, shoving one hand into a coat pocket as if to affect a nonchalant air. "I'd get the blue one." Nodding at the item in question, she seemed nonplussed by the fact Chet seemed to have stopped by a selection of wallpapers, each plastic-wrapped roll more garishly patterned than the last. The blue one in particular was a lurid mess of geometric shapes, labeled cheerfully as Playpen Pattern #18.

... Upon second thought, it was rather odd of the store managers, to stock dinnerware right next to wallpaper and - home repair kits, as she leaned aside to spot a few further down the aisle. "Should I be concerned you're up to no good, looking at toolkits on a Sunday morning?" Despite her words there was very little suspicion in her tone, as she looked calmly down at him. Chet was one of the more manageable problem kids at Ridgeview, as silly as it sounded; though she kept from outright asking him if he was alright, wary of appearing too aggressive from the get go.

jaronartOffline7 POSTS
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Despite the ghastly 'cool kid' endearment, Chet can't help but feel slightly flattered. "Eh, not window shopping," he remarks with a shrug, picking up the blue wallpaper as she'd suggested.

He eyes it with a raised eyebrow, then gives the security officer a smirk. "This your style?" he asks, incredulous as he turns it in his hand. His room wall isn't even that color — he does suppose that what with it being the Christmas season and all, he's unlikely to find less ... festive wallpaper.

Maybe he can use this stuff for a prank, though...

Her question automatically has him smirking. "What, me, up to no good?" he asks, grin wide and voice cheery. "No way, José."

Chet moves a few shelves over, having spotted some repair kits that might suit his needs more. A small one with hammer and nail, a lever and some sort of scraping-thing he's seen the creative kids use for paints. Takes it and chucks it into his basket.

"Why're you here?" he asks, glancing towards Suzy.

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"I have the most discerning style," she deadpanned, taking a step away from him so she could gesture at herself. Aside from the aforementioned street clothes she also had on the typical two or three necklaces, all, to her credit, thin and tastefully chosen. Surely she could be trusted to pick out a wallpaper, at least. "You'll thank me later."

In truth, she was a bit surprised he'd taken her up on her joke. The design was undoubtedly gaudy, especially for its brand and price - though she gave Chet a quick sideways glance at that, recalling the comfort of his family and upbringing. She'd picked up that much, at least, from the disciplinary reports and teachers' meetings she'd been involved in already.

His record marked him for a slightly off-kilter kind of trouble, one that she hesitated to simply label as delinquency. As he gave her cheek for her question, though, she did quirk an eyebrow, looking summarily unimpressed with his diversion as she turned to follow him.

"I'm window shopping," she explained simply, raising the bag with her bought donuts in it as she gestured vaguely to the aisle they stood in. Explaining the cheerful mystery with which her father had ushered her out was unlikely to keep Chet's interest - but why was she trying to do that, again?

She gave his selected items a second look, more calculating now that he seemed willing to stick around and talk. "Now, if you're fixing something, I highly doubt you didn't have a hand in breaking it to begin with."

jaronartOffline7 POSTS
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Chet glances at the outrageous wallpaper. Grins snarkily. "Sure," he replies, not quite sounding sincere, but going along with it anyway.

Chet raises an eyebrow at the woman's statement, then stares pointedly at the shelves. "Funny. Don't see windows here," he responds cheekily. "As for fixing something..."

He trails off, momentarily distracted by a paste that he might need to use to fix drywall (according to youtube, at least) and he plucks it off the shelf. "Well, yeah. Okay. The wall broke." Chet glances at Suzy and smirks. "The room just couldn't contain my awesomeness." Or his anger.

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The paper of her bag crinkled as she withdrew it, sniffing as if irked. "Well, Mister Sass-meister. No window-bought donut for you." Feigning haughtiness, she slipped the bag into her purse with a quick motion, shouldering the strap once more while Chet grabbed another item.

His selections were incriminating enough on their own, not that he was taking many pains to dissuade her suspicions. At his smirk she lifted her lip for a sly sneer of her own, eyebrows quirking in amusement. "Must have been a small room."

"Seriously, though-," she reached out for a painter's spatula, tipping it into his basket with a meaningful look. "You okay? In my experience, rooms are pretty resilient."

Perhaps a shadow crossed her face there, homage to a past experience she chose not to speak of. Security officer was only the latest in her series of professions; but counselor had certainly never been in her resume, and now that the ice was broken she looked at Chet frankly, eyes glinting insightful despite the still-humorous crook in her smile.

jaronartOffline7 POSTS
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Chet's eyes widen. "Woah, woah, donuts? I take back everything I said, then," he rushes, quickly trying to dispel his previous sassiness. What can he say? Donuts are the bomb.

Though he'll admit, Miss Li is certainly a match. "You wound me," he cries, painting hurt on his features. That was ... a really good comeback. He wasn't expecting that.

Chet sees the look that she gives him, and knows what she's looking for. Still — he's not really one to talk. So he shrugs again, looks away from her discerning gaze.

"Well, not this one." He drifts a hand over another shop item, just to have something to do. "The walls are thin."

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"Too late." Wiggling empty fingers at him, she displayed the sudden lack of any donuts before snorting, amused at his sudden willingness to about-face. Likely it was his predictably bottomless teenaged stomach, or a similarly predictable sweet tooth - though if she was worth anything, she was worth banter, and she barely batted an eye, watching Chet flinch in mock pain.

She did watch with more attention, though, when he shrugged. Tension buzzed in him for a moment before melting away, hiding, and she eyed the idle way he swept his hand over another shelf before sighing quietly.

She didn't have the best composure for this kind of thing, but being off the Ridgeview campus helped. If she just treated him like another adult, maybe.

"Thin-walled, hm?" Glancing aside, she kept him in her periphery, reaching absentmindedly for a picture frame and running her thumb over the filigree on the corner. "I suppose you're lucky you've never put a hole through it until now."

Flipping the frame over, she made a face at the price before putting it back. "Breaking walls is a weird thing. It takes more force than you'd typically have in you, but-," eyes sliding aside, she reached for a different frame, this one palm-sized and made of a dark wood. "Less than you'd expect, regardless."

- - -
obviously adult talk means obscure...
wall breaking metaphors. idk.
jaronartOffline7 POSTS
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Chet's face crumples when she reveals she does not have the promised donuts. He's disappointed. Devastated.

He snorts as she echoes his words back to him. "Well, I never really tried to put holes in the walls," he snarks back. But Chet keeps his tone light and cheery.

Miss Li starts talking about thin walls and breaking them. In a tone that, to Chet, suggests that she means something else. But he can't tell what.

He answers her lack of questions with, "Uh, sure?" and a sideways glance full of confusion.

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His expression was so sincerely gutted that she was tempted to withdraw the one donut she still had from her purse again, until she remembered the particularly headache-inducing time he'd evaded her for several skipped class periods in a row. She liked to think it was wisdom and not pettiness that stayed her hand - though, as Chet's tone remained airy and avoidant, she felt the telltale pulse of impatience in her temple and found it harder to believe.

Against any actual judgment she sighed then, before snaking an arm down to thieve the drywall paste from his basket. "Chet, you can't tell me this was a fluke." She flipped the tube over once in her hand, catching it deftly before offering it back to him with a frank look - "You haven't been happy recently, to put it lightly. I'm asking if you're getting the help you need, from your family or from anyone else."

If being away from Ridgeview was why she'd felt she could speak to him to begin with, then she'd carry her intent through and speak plainly as well. The look she pinned him with was clear with purpose then, nowhere near pitying but several degrees closer to investigative than was probably necessary.

jaronartOffline7 POSTS
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Miss Li's sudden frankness has Chet jerk his head up to look at her. And suddenly, he understands. She's indulged him with random chatter and it all amounts to this pity. His expression hardens.

"Miss Li, I'm fine," he cuts back, looking her in the eye. But her expression speaks of inquisitiveness rather than sympathy, and for a moment, Chet's unsure what to do. A sliver of guilt creeps in and he rests his weight on his other leg.

"Just....some things going on at home," he mumbles, his voice barely a whisper. He doesn't look at her while he speaks.

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Mixed success, but not the worst outcome possible. Kids were... kids, after all, and she couldn't be sure of the lengths some students would go to to avoid her questions.

She held his gaze as he almost snapped back at her, blinking once when his expression flickered like a spent bulb. "I'm sorry, Chet, but I don't really buy that." Short of stating the event that had clearly set him so on edge, she risked the annoyance of repeating herself, her posture intentionally unthreatening as she moved back a half step. "I'm just concerned over how you're coping."

In this moment, though, that'd clearly be her, and she shifted her weight as he admitted to some discord. There was a beat of silence, as they both breathed, and she turned to look casually away in case he needed some composure.

There was nobody nearby in this section of the store, which she took as a gentle blessing. Her next words were slightly hesitant, as she sifted through the possibilities to arrive at what she hoped was firm diplomacy. "I... can't pretend to know how close you are with your sister, but I can-," she considered the option for a split second, knowing the weight of it, before continuing. "... Listen, if you need someone to vent to."

"No judgment, promise," she added quickly, humor coloring her voice slightly as she chanced a small smile. "Even if you've been up to more trouble than I've already caught you at."

jaronartOffline7 POSTS
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There's a long silence as Chet considers her words. Sure, she's being nice and helpful and offering aid but ... he's never really told anyone how he feels. He's always kept it pent-up inside, and it explodes out as he pulls stupid pranks or jumps into dumb fights.

Evidently, Miss Li knew what had happened. It felt like the whole world knew. Chet stares at the floor, at the white tips of his Converse.

She says 'no judgement', and Chet looks up. "Really, I'm fine," he mutters, not looking her in the eye. "I can manage." On my own. It's how he's always done things, after all.

jaronart
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She thought, briefly, that she might hug him, if she knew how to.

The action itself was a simple one, at least in theory. There were several layers of propriety that kept her from trying, even if she felt comfortable enough to do so.

Still, she wasn't getting very far. She shifted her weight, one heel scuffing gently on the tile as she considered the distant slant of his gaze. "Mn."

There were only so many more things she could try, if he didn't want to talk. At the end of the day, it wasn't her job, though she preferred not to shut him entirely out over something as simple as serial mischief. When she spoke up again, her tone had softened, as she flicked her gaze aside to avoid catching his against his will.

"You don't have to. There's no shame in it." Maybe she should have given him the donut, even if it amounted to feeding a dog to keep it focused. All she seemed to know how to do was train pups, it seemed. "Especially if it means the next time I talk to you is just going to be in the office again."

Mouth hooking at the corner with a slight smile, she reached down and slipped the drywall paste back into his basket, careful not to brush against him.

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