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23 March 2010 @ 11:38 pm
FIC: It's Just The Age Where Nothing Fits  
Title: It's Just The Age Where Nothing Fits
Author: 08adabry
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 10,531
Summary: A Rebel Without A Cause AU featuring Blake as James Dean, inspired by pirateygoodness and the Esquire photo shoot. The title, numerous plot points, and even a few verbatim lines have been shamelessly lifted from the original film.

The first time Blake has the pleasure of visiting the Clearwater Falls police station, she's so crocked that she can barely tell the walls from the floor. "Come on, big guy," the cop says gruffly, putting his hands on her shoulders and steering her into the room. "Almost there."

Blake wrestles out from under the weight of his palms and starts to flail away, but he catches a handful of her tweed coat and pushes her over to the desk. "Public drunkenness?" the man behind the desk asks.

"This fellow's been running up and down Oak Street screaming obscenities and making a fool of himself for the better part of half an hour," the cop says. "Book him until he sobers up."

Blake leans over the desk and sticks out her hand. "The name's Lively," she slurs. "I'm a fine, modern gentleman."

"Lean him up against something, Larry."

The cop turns Blake around forcibly and props her up on the wall. The wood paneling is cool and smooth, and Blake presses her forehead against it before turning her head and looking at the folks sitting on the nearby bench. There's a couple of grannies and a kid and then, at the very end, there's this girl. Blake's vision is swimming too much for her to be sure, but she's pretty certain that this gal is dynamite, and she all of a sudden wishes more than anything that she could sober up on command. She's got no such luck, though, and some fellow comes and pulls the girl into a private room before Blake's eyes have a chance to focus.

"What a world," she groans, collapsing onto the vacated spot on the bench and loosening her tie.

The kid, who's got blonde hair and overalls, looks over at Blake and sniffs, "You smell."

"Oh yeah?" Blake challenges. "So what if I do? What's your name?"

"Taylor," the kid says.

"Well, shall we be pals, Taylor?"

"Sure," Taylor says solemnly.

Blake goes to clap her on the shoulder, but one of the grannies looks over and grabs Taylor away. Blake shrugs and crosses her arms and lets her eyes slip shut.

The next morning is the first day of senior year, and Blake's got a wicked hangover. She manages to dress herself, though, and when she glances in the mirror, she thinks she looks pretty sharp in her herringbone, even if her eyes are a little red. A cup of coffee later, and she'll be ready to go.

Her parents are already in the kitchen when she comes down, and she tries not to look at the way their faces fall as she enters the room. "Didn't you see the outfit I laid out for you, dear?" her mother asks.

"I saw it," Blake replies gruffly, opening the refrigerator. She doesn't mention that the frilly yellow dress is now crumpled in the back corner of her closet.

"Why don't you say good morning to your mother, Blake," her father instructs her.

"Good morning," Blake mumbles, taking a swig of milk from the bottle and grabbing two pieces of toast. "Goodbye."

The screen door clatters shut behind her and she leaps off of the porch stairs. She's just about to go around to the garage and get her car when she catches sight of someone strolling down the sidewalk across the way. It's the girl from the night before. "Hey!" Blake calls before she knows what she's doing, stepping off the curb and trotting across the road. "Hey, wait up, kid."

The girl doesn't even pause or look over her shoulder.

"Hey, wait up!" Blake repeats, running up beside her. "I know you. You're the girl from the station."

The girl stops and turns abruptly, her brown curls bouncing around her shoulders. "So what if I am?" she snaps.

Her eyes are big and brown and gorgeous, and she's so beautiful that Blake feels a little drunk again. "I, uh, didn't make your acquaintance before," Blake stutters. "I'm Blake. I'm new here."

"I can see that." The girl gives Blake an appraising once-over and sticks out her hand. "I'm Leighton Meester."

"Good to meet you," Blake says, nervous as hell.

Leighton purses her lips and Blake just about dies. "That's some kind of voice you got," she tells Blake accusingly.

"Oh yeah? What kind, sweetheart?"

"You think you're real smooth, don't you?" Leighton snaps, scrutinizing Blake intensely. "Well, you are smooth, I guess. Smooth cheeks, smooth hands, smooth neck..."

"Say, what are you getting at?"

Leighton squints and Blake knows she's pinned. She tugs at her collar and frowns, but Leighton only smirks. "You're just a real pretty boy, is what I'm getting at," she says lightly.

"Well, you're a real pretty girl, so I guess that makes us just about even," Blake replies.

Leighton blushes and averts her gaze. Blake grins like a fool.

"So, what, you just wear that suit because you can?" Leighton asks after a moment.

"I don't know, cutie," Blake says with a shrug and a wink. "Guess I never met a skirt that liked me."

"Oh, sure," Leighton replies dryly. "I bet you've met plenty of skirts that like you, you sweet talker."

Blake steals a peek at how the hem of Leighton's dress flutters around her knees. "Do you like me?" she asks hopefully.

"I like Eddie Westwick," Leighton says with a certain finality in her tone.

Blake sighs and nods, like she was expecting it, and scuffs her shoe on the ground. "He's a likeable guy, huh?"

"Sure he's likeable. He's got a car."

"I've got a car," Blake protests.

Leighton puts her hands on her hips and glances at the inseam of Blake's trousers. "He's got a lot of things."

Blake opens her mouth to respond, but then she catches on and her face falls. "Oh," she mutters. "Oh, sure."

"Well, hey now, I didn't mean that," Leighton says contritely, reaching out and catching the sleeve of Blake's suit coat to stop her from walking on. "What I meant is... well. What I meant is that I do like you, I guess."

"You guess," Blake repeats, pulling her elbow out of Leighton's grasp.

"Oh, don't get sore."

"I'm never sore," Blake scoffs. "You need a ride or something?"

Leighton doesn't have to answer because at that very moment, a car pulls up next to them and honks. The driver is the meanest looking greaser Blake's ever seen, squinty eyes and two days of stubble and a brown bomber, and he's staring at Leighton like he owns her. "Hey baby," he says. "Who's your friend?"

"I'll see you later," Blake mutters, turning to head back to the garage.

"Say, buddy boy, what's your name?" the driver calls. "Say, where are you going in such a rush?"

"Shut up, Eddie," Blake hears Leighton say. "Let's go."

Eddie listens, mercifully, and his tires squeal as he pulls away. Blake turns and watches the car speed off down the road, Leighton's brown curls blowing in the wind.

The school is a real ugly building, brown and squat with a big parking lot and no green space. It's not the best high school Blake's ever been to, but then again, it's not the worst, and at least the girls are pretty. Blake winks as she passes a crowd of them tittering away in colorful knee socks and becoming cardigans, and ducks her head when she goes by the boys she assumes to be their steadies. She doesn't look up again until she gets to her locker and finds the kid from the police station - Taylor - standing at the next one over. "Hello," she says casually.

Taylor looks up quickly with a grin big enough to split her face in two. "Hey! You remembered me!"

"Sure I did," Blake replies, fiddling with her lock.

"They all open if you spin to zero and then back to thirty," Taylor informs her, taking matters into her own hands and twisting the dial until it comes undone. "I figured that one out on my third day."

Blake whistles and slings some of her books and her lunch into the locker. "Look at you, Nancy Drew. Can you tell me where my first class is?"

Taylor takes a look at Blake's schedule and tells her, "Up the stairs and around the corner. Say, what's your name?"

"Blake Lively, at your service."

"Taylor Momsen, at yours."

Blake can't bite back a grin at this kid's poorly concealed enthusiasm.

"We'll be friends, right?" Taylor asks anxiously.

"Oh yes, we'll be great pals."

"I don't have many pals," Taylor confides. "You might be my first one."

"Well, that's good, on account of you might be mine. We'll look out for each other, hey?"

Taylor nods emphatically and runs off. Blake chuckles and turns to head to class, only to find herself face to face with Eddie Westwick himself. Blake smiles tightly and tries to sidestep him, but he follows her, blocking her path. "Making friends left and right, aren't you, buddy boy?" Eddie asks. "Hey kids, this fellow's the new big man."

Two boys step up on either side of Eddie, grinning like hyenas. Blake can see a crowd of folks gathered behind them, and she glimpses Leighton in their midst. "Swell to see you, gentlemen," she says, looking Eddie right in the eye and tipping an imaginary cap. "Let's do it again soon."

She turns her back and starts off down the hallway in the opposite direction. A moment later, a meaty hand lands heavily on her shoulder, and Blake braces herself as she's spun around. As she expected, she scarcely has time to blink before Eddie's fist connects with her cheekbone, sending her reeling backwards and crashing into the wall. The goons laugh uproariously, and the whole gang crowds around Eddie, who swaggers away. Leighton hooks her arm through Eddie's and passes Blake without even glancing at her, which smarts more than the blow. Blake blinks a couple times, presses two fingers to the side of her eye, and curses at the sudden burst of pain. "Can't even get through the first day without a shiner, Lively," she mutters peevishly to herself, pushing off the wall and staggering once again in the direction of her first class.

She's late, and the teacher looks at her disapprovingly and scribbles something down in a notebook. Blake takes a seat toward the back and hangs her head, wishing she had an ice cold bottle of Coke to hold against her growing bruise. Halfway through the class, once she's had enough time to thoroughly immerse herself in sulking, the person one row over and two chairs ahead of her tosses a little scrunched up scrap of paper at her forehead. It's the last straw. Blake balls her hands into fists and grits her teeth and looks up and realizes, just before leaping out of her seat to whale on her antagonist, that it's Leighton. She winks at Blake and flutters her eyelashes coquettishly. Blake deflates and collapses back into her chair.

"Hi," Leighton mouths.

Blake's in no mood to forgive her, so she looks back down at her paper and frowns. Another piece of paper bounces off of her shoulder. Grudgingly, Blake glances up again. Leighton is pouting shamelessly, and despite her best efforts to resist, Blake can't help but smile a little. "Hi," she mouths back.

Leighton winks at her and turns to face the front of the classroom again, twisting her leg over the side of her chair so that her skirt rides up on her thigh. Blake stares and doesn't hear a word the teacher says for the rest of the class.

When the bell rings, the rest of the students file out, but Blake stays seated. So does Leighton, until the last person passes her and she looks back at Blake with a saucy grin. Blake raises her eyebrows and Leighton very deliberately swings her elbow outward, sending her books cascading to the floor. "Oops," she murmurs guilelessly.

Blake's more than happy to play along. "Gee, miss, need some help?" she asks, scooting out of her chair and bending down to gather everything up.

Leighton giggles and bites her lip as Blake sets the books and papers back on her desk. They're nearly at eye level with Blake kneeling, and the temptation to lean over and kiss that rosebud mouth is too much, almost, especially when Leighton tilts her head and starts to reach for Blake's cheek. She draws her thumb softly across the skin just below Blake's eye and murmurs, "I hope he didn't hurt you too much."

Blake brings her own hand up to cover Leighton's. "It's not so bad," she replies softly.

"Still, it's a pity on such a lovely face." Leighton leans forward and brushes her lips over Blake's cheek.

Blake flushes and nearly swoons, like some kind of girl. Her fingers tremble as she runs them daringly up Leighton's arm to the back of her neck. She takes a deep breath. The second bell rings. "We're late," Leighton whispers, pulling back slightly so that Blake's hand slips from her shoulder.

"Shucks," Blake mumbles. "That's my second tardy in a row."

"Off to a good start, I see," Leighton says with a smirk, gathering her books in her arms and standing up.

Blake sighs and gets to her feet, brushing off the knees of her trousers. "Any idea where G302 is?" she asks hopefully.

"Right beside my next class. I'll walk you there."

"Gee, you wanna carry my books too?" Blake asks cheekily.

Leighton laughs and bumps her shoulder against Blake's. "You're quite the gentleman."

"I always aim for chivalry."

"And always fall short, I'm sure."

Blake knows it's meant as a joke, but she can't help hanging her head a little bit. Leighton bumps her shoulder again. "Oh come on," she says. "I was only pulling your leg."

"I know," Blake mutters defensively.

"Say, you really are sensitive, aren't you?"

Leighton sounds more curious than dismissive, but Blake still chafes at the accusation. She knits her eyebrows together and doesn't answer, figuring that strong, stoic silence is her best option.

"I don't mind," Leighton tells her gently. "I think it's sweet."

"Sure," Blake mutters. "Sure, it's real sweet. You're real sweet. We're all sweet as hell."

"Blake, I -"

"Why don't you go find your boyfriend?" Blake snaps. "I bet he's just the mean s.o.b. you've been looking for."

"Hey, why don't you go boil your head?" Leighton retorts hotly.

"I'm not going to do you any favors," Blake sneers.

Leighton stops abruptly and pokes Blake in the sternum. "There's your classroom, buddy boy," she hisses. "Go cool off."

Blake works her jaw, but she doesn't say anything else before turning on her heel and entering the room. The teacher gives her a dirty look and scribbles something down. She slinks to the back and slumps down in her chair.

Blake feels well and truly remorseful by lunchtime, and she enters the cafeteria looking around, trying to find Leighton amidst the throng of students so she can offer an apology. She hasn't taken more than two steps into the room, though, when the two goons from before step up on either side of her and railroad her toward an exit door at the other end. One of them punches the tray out of her hands, sending its contents flying onto the occupants of a nearby table, and the other one grabs her collar to ensure she doesn't make a run for it. "Hey fellas," Blake greets them. "Has your first day been as keen as mine?"

"Shut up," says the one on the right, a tall guy with sharp eyes and floppy hair.

Blake sighs resignedly and lets them propel her forward. They shove her through the back door, and she stumbles over the threshold, squinting at the sudden, bright light. Before her eyes have adjusted fully, someone sucker punches her in the gut, knocking the wind from her lungs and sending her to her knees. "Say, what's the big idea?" she grunts, peering upward at her attacker.

Eddie sneers down at her and spits in her face before winding up to kick her in the stomach. She rolls out of the way just in time, breathing hard and pushing herself unsteadily to her feet. "I said, what's the big idea?" she cries, backing away from Eddie and the two boys flanking him.

"Oh, hey, aren't you quick," Eddie says. "So quick, I'd almost believe you aren't a girl."

He says it like a curse, and it knocks Blake's wind out all over again. She glances quickly over at the crowd of kids waiting and watching against the wall of the school. Most of them seem coolly amused, but Leighton's looking between her and Eddie anxiously. Blake's heart sinks.

"Hey, dyke, I'm talking to you," Eddie shouts, reaching into the pocket of his bomber and pulling out a switchblade.

"I'm not looking for trouble," Blake says slowly, putting her hands up.

Eddie flicks the blade open and starts moving forward. "Come on, queer," he snarls mockingly. "What's the matter? Can't you fight like a real man?"

Blake's blood boils, but she doesn't take the bait. "I don't want to fight," she tells Eddie calmly.

"You don't want to fight," Eddie repeats. He laughs roughly and turns to his friends. "Hey, boys, it doesn't want to fight. I think it's scared." He looks back at Blake and asks mockingly, "Are you scared?"

"Sure I'm scared," Blake replies, trying to keep her voice cool and light. "You've got a knife and I've got nothing. I don't like those odds."

The tall thug with the floppy hair guffaws until the other one, a wiry guy with curly black hair, elbows him in the ribs and mutters, "Stop it, Crawf."

Eddie rolls his eyes. "Throw it a bone, Badger," he commands.

The black-haired one reaches into his coat and tosses another switchblade in Blake's general direction. She catches it reflexively just as the door to the cafeteria swings open and a little person comes barreling out. It's Taylor, and she's spitting mad. "Hey, leave him alone!" she yells, running over to Eddie and grabbing hold of his elbow.

"Say, what's this?" Eddie crows. "It looks like our buddy's got a friend. We'd better back off, boys, I think we're outnumbered."

Crawf chuckles and the other one, Badger, cracks his knuckles menacingly. Blake tightens her grip on the switchblade. "Get out of here, Taylor," she says. "You don't want any of this."

"On the contrary, I think she wants all of this," Eddie responds slickly, grabbing at the waist of Taylor's jumper.

"Eddie, stop," Leighton pleads from the sidelines.

"Leave her alone," Blake says in a low voice. "Or I swear to God, I'll -"

"You'll what?" Eddie scoffs. "Come on, boys, let's have some fun with the little lady."

He's about to hand Taylor off to Badger and the other goon when Blake runs at him, clocking him across the jaw before he can get his arm up. He loosens his hold on Taylor's jumper and she wriggles out of his grasp, scooting off to the side, where Leighton puts a comforting arm around her. Eddie turns to Blake with a murderous expression. "You're asking for it, buddy," he snarls, raising his blade again and jabbing it at Blake's shoulder.

She dodges, flicking her borrowed knife open and brandishing it at him. He chases her, poking at her every so often, but she just circles and knocks his hand away when he gets too close. "Come on!" he yells in frustration after a few minutes of cat-and-mouse. "What are you, chicken? Hit me!"

Blake shakes her head and wards off another blow.

"Now I know you're a girl," Eddie hisses. "Only a girl would run around like a such a sissy."

Blake clenches her jaw and flinches when Eddie's blade nicks her wrist.

"Jesus," Eddie pants. "Stop ducking, you coward."

"Getting tired?" Blake replies coolly, dancing sideways so that Eddie's knife only meets air.

His only reply is labored breathing before he stumbles slightly. Blake sees her chance, plants her feet, and catches Eddie's wrist, twisting so that the blade clatters harmlessly to the ground. She grips the front of his shirt and holds her own knife to his neck. His eyes go wide and Blake can hear the other kids behind them making a commotion. "I told you to leave me alone," she tells him thickly, pressing hard enough that a thin line of blood appears. "I said I didn't want trouble."

There's a loud banging sound and the door to the cafeteria opens yet again. A security guard emerges, followed by a lunch lady, looking around for the source of the disturbance. Blake steps back before they can pull her off. "I told you to leave me alone," she repeats, closing her blade and slipping it into her pocket.

"What's going on here?" the officer demands, trotting up to them.

"Nothing, sir," Blake says quickly. "Just a gentleman's disagreement."

Crawf and Badger each grab one of Eddie's shoulder and pull him backwards. "Thanks officer," Leighton says sweetly. "But I think we've got it under control."

The guard looks unconvinced, but faced with a sea of high school punks, he backs off. "Come on, Irma," he mutters, turning and going back into the building.

"This isn't over," Eddie says harshly as soon as the door closes behind them. "We can finish it tonight. 8 o'clock. City water tower."

Blake rolls her eyes and reaches into her coat, tossing the knife back to Badger. "Jesus, isn't anything ever enough for you?"

"Show, or you're a chicken," Eddie insists.

Blake glances at Leighton, who looks right back with an expression of dawning respect. Blake flushes and does exactly what she shouldn't, which is to tell Eddie, "Sure, I'll be there."

Eddie sneers and walks away with his boys at his side. Leighton lingers for a moment. "You sure are something," she tells Blake softly.

"Yeah, you sure are!" Taylor pipes up from her position at Leighton's side.

Blake laughs and ruffles Taylor's hair. "Thanks," she says. "But I don't want you trying to break up my fights any more, you hear?"

Taylor looks hesitant. "But you said that we'd look out for each other," she reminds Blake. "I was just looking out for you!"

"I know," Blake replies. "You were being a good pal, and I appreciate it. But run along now, okay? I don't want you to miss all of lunch."

Taylor beams and scampers off. Blake smiles fondly after her before turning back to Leighton. "I didn't do half bad, now did I?" she says, puffing out her chest proudly.

"Not bad at all," Leighton replies mischievously, "For a girl."

Blake's smile falters and she bites the inside of her cheek. Leighton reaches for her hand and squeezes it. "I want you to know that I didn't say anything to him," she tells Blake solemnly. "I don't know who found out and let it slip, but it wasn't me."

Blake nods and scratches the back of her neck with her free hand. "I wouldn't have blamed you if you did," she admits. "I guess I was kind of an idiot earlier. I didn't mean to go off on you like that. It's just... well, it's not easy, I guess."

"Why do it, then?" Leighton asks softly. "Why, I bet if you put on a skirt and grew your hair out, you'd be prettier than any other girl here."

"Heck, I could never be prettier than you," Blake protests. "I might as well not even try."

Leighton takes the hint and doesn't push it. She squeezes Blake's hand one more time and then lets it drop. "I lied to you, you know," she says.

Blake's stomach drops. "Oh yeah?" she asks, trying to stay collected. "What about?"

"This morning, when I said I didn't like you," Leighton replies, blushing a little. "The truth is, I like you a lot."

Blake's head spins. She doesn't know whether to be proud or terrified or deliriously happy, so she just gazes at Leighton, with her sweet smile and her pretty hair and her soft, brown eyes, and feels big enough to take on ten Eddie Westwicks with one hand tied behind her back. "You do, huh?" she asks, shoving her hands in her pockets and trying to look tough and cool.

Leighton giggles and nods and steps right up into Blake's personal space, laying her hand flat on the middle of Blake's chest and gazing up at her from under hooded eyelids. Blake gulps and bites her lip. "You gonna kiss me?" Leighton asks, making it sound more like a challenge than a question.

"I don't know," Blake replies, taking her hands out of her pockets to wrap them around Leighton's slim waist and trying not to think of what Eddie would do if he saw them like this. "Should I?"

"Do you want to?"

Blake laughs. "Hell, sweetheart, I wanted to the moment I saw you."

Leighton grips Blake's shirt front and tugs her down until their lips are inches apart. "Then what are you waiting for?" she whispers.

Blake closes the distance between them, cupping the back of Leighton's neck with one hand and wrapping her other arm around Leighton's waist. She wants to be cool, wants to be perfect and smooth and do all those things that guys in the pictures do when they kiss beautiful ladies, but then she tastes Leighton's candy red lips and she's lost. She doesn't know up from down with Leighton's mouth on hers, and she doesn't want to. She just wants to be here forever.

Leighton pulls back to breathe and mutters, "God, Blake," in this shivery, shuddering gasp that hits Blake right between her thighs.

"I think we're late for class," Blake whispers, making Leighton laugh breathily. "Maybe I should just give up now and cut for the rest of the day."

"Oh yeah?" Leighton murmurs, sliding her arms around Blake's neck. "Want some company?"

Blake winks at her. "I'll buy you a malt," she offers. "You can show me around town."

Leighton purses her lips thoughtfully. "Chocolate," she says finally.


"Come on," Leighton insists, taking Blake's hand and tugging her toward the parking lot. "I want a chocolate malt."

Blake grins. "Whipped cream and a cherry on top?"

Leighton bats her eyelashes and nods and stands on her toes to kiss Blake's cheek. Blake blushes bright red, all the way to the top of her ears, and dares to sling her arm around Leighton's shoulder as they walk to the parking lot. Leighton slips her own arm around Blake's waist and doesn't pull away until they get to Blake's Plymouth. "So where are we going, sweetheart?" Blake asks as they slide into the front seat.

"Clarke's," Leighton replies. "It's the best ice cream shop in Clearwater Falls. Turn left out of the parking lot and take a right at the first light."

Clarke's is a sweet little place, mint green and pastel pink all over. Blake sidles up to the counter, smiles charmingly at the grouchy, gray-haired woman at the register, and receives two sweating glasses topped with towering columns of whipped cream as a reward for her efforts. She bears them back toward the booth that Leighton has staked out, hesitating as she approaches the table. Leighton smiles up at her sweetly and Blake makes up her mind, sliding into the same side of the booth and depositing Leighton's malt before her. Leighton grabs it and takes a long sip, her lips pursed and her throat working, and Blake's mouth goes dry. Leighton glances at her slyly out of the corner of her eye and grins around her straw. "Delicious," she declares, pushing the malt away and kissing Blake full on the mouth.

"Yeah," Blake agrees dazedly when Leighton pulls back, forgetting for the moment that they are in the middle of a very public ice cream shop. "Delicious."

Leighton giggles and uses the straw to scoop up a clump of whipped cream. "So," she says, licking the straw clean very delicately. "Why did you move to Clearwater Falls?"

Blake watches her mouth, the movement of her tongue, and almost forgets to answer. "My family moves a lot," she replies absently. "My parents do it to keep me out of trouble."

"Are you in trouble often?"

"What do you think?"

Leighton scrutinizes Blake thoughtfully. "I think you're pretty swell," she says in a decisive tone.

Blake laughs. "That's not an answer to the question," she protests, tangling her fingers with Leighton's underneath the tabletop.

"Fine," Leighton replies, removing her hand from Blake's and resting her palm on Blake's thigh. "I think that if you are trouble, you must be the best kind of trouble there is."

"Is that so?" Blake gasps as Leighton's fingertips press against her trousers, high on her leg.

"It is," Leighton responds solemnly, though her eyes are twinkling and her fingers are tracing patterns in places that make Blake want to tug at her collar and drink a sip of ice water. "Was my answer satisfactory this time?"

Her hand moves higher, and Blake squeaks in a most unmanly fashion. "Leighton," she hisses. "We're in public!"

Leighton glances around the ice cream shop like she's seeing it for the first time. "So we are," she replies innocently, her hand stilling. Blake isn't sure whether to be put out or relieved, but then Leighton grins wickedly and leans in so that her lips are brushing against Blake's ear and whispers, "Would it be terribly unladylike of me to invite myself into the back seat of your car?"

Blake tries not to look thoroughly scandalized, but she can feel her face turning as red as the cherry on top of her malt at the mere idea of making it with Leighton Meester on a Monday afternoon in the back of her beat up Plymouth. "I don't know," she stutters. "We've only just met, really, and you've still got a steady, and I don't think -"

Leighton kisses her to to shut her up and smiles against her mouth. "Come on, Romeo," she murmurs, leaning over to take one last sip of her malt before pushing Blake out of the booth. "Let's go have fun."

Blake frowns, but she lets Leighton lead her back out to her car and follows Leighton's directions as she drives them to the outskirts of town. They stop at a bluff overlooking the falls and Leighton coaxes her out of the car, pulling her toward a patch of grass and flopping down on the ground. Blake sits beside her and looks out at the view. They rest there for almost half an hour before Leighton rolls onto her stomach, propping her chin in her hands and looking right at Blake and saying, "I've lived in Clearwater Falls my whole life, and I've never met a single interesting person here."

Blake shrugs, squinting against the sunlight. "It's not so different from anywhere else."

"You're different, though."

"Yeah, I'm a real freak show," Blake drawls, laying back and lacing her fingers behind her head.

There's a pause before Leighton murmurs, "I wish you wouldn't do that."


"That thing, where you close up on yourself. Everyone isn't out to get you, you know."

Blake sighs and closes her eyes against the brightness of the sky. "The thing is, though, most people are."

"I'm not," Leighton says in a soft voice.

Blake opens her eyes and shifts onto her side and looks at Leighton intently. "No," she replies softly, reaching out a hand to trace the curve of Leighton's jaw. "No, I guess not. But you can't blame me for wanting to protect myself."

Leighton smiles and wriggles forward, no doubt getting the front of her dress dusty all over, and pushes Blake onto her back. "I don't blame you for wanting to," she murmurs, her hair falling around them like a curtain as she leans down for a kiss. "But that doesn't mean you need to."

Blake shrugs uncomfortably and changes the subject. "What were you doing at the station last night, anyway?" she asks, pushing Leighton's hair back gently. "I never found out."

Leighton laughs and rests her cheek on Blake's chest. "That is how we met, isn't it?" she replies. "I'd forgotten."

"It seems like it was ages ago," Blake agrees.

Leighton hums and nods and says softly, "I feel like I've known you forever."

"It's only been a day," Blake reminds her, chuckling. "Imagine what you'll feel like tomorrow."

"Pretty swell, I bet," Leighton replies warmly. She smoothes the lapels of Blake's coat and kisses Blake's jaw. "You want to know my crime? I was arrested for the defacement of public property."

Blake purses her lips and squints dubiously. "You don't strike me as the type," she admits.

"Ed and his boys were painting crass things on the statue in the middle of town, and he dragged me along with them," Leighton explains. "When the cops pulled up, I was the only one who didn't get away."

"He left you?" Blake asks disbelievingly. "What a worm."

"Oh, he's a real prince," Leighton replies bitterly. "Girls are just spoiled for choice when it comes to men in this town."

"I bet," Blake snorts.

"I admit, I have been thinking about broadening my horizons," Leighton continues, walking her fingers up the center of Blake's chest. "I figure, maybe if I go somewhere else, I'll find what I'm really looking for."

"Somewhere else?" Blake asks, playing dumb. "Oh, you mean like the next town over?"

"Ha ha," Leighton says dryly.

"Oh, you mean the next county over! Or the next state? Yeah, I bet the boys in Nevada are real nice."

"Oh, cut it out," Leighton grumbles, though the corners of her mouth turn up. "You know that's not what I mean."

"Sure I know," Blake replies confidently, wrapping her arm around Leighton's shoulders. "You don't mean Nevada, you mean Oregon. Or Arizona?"

Leighton rolls her eyes and kisses Blake one more time before snuggling into the crook of her shoulder and gazing up at the sky. "I give up," she huffs. "Let's find cloud shapes."

Blake chuckles. "I haven't done that since I was about six years old," she replies.

"So? Let's do it again now."

They talk and cloud-gaze for hours, kissing intermittently, and by the time they get around to driving home, it's past four in the afternoon. "Better drop me off a block from my house," Leighton says. "Eddie's probably waiting out front in his car, wanting to know where I've been."

Blake can't help tensing up. "Sure," she mutters after a moment. "Just tell me when to stop."

She can feel Leighton's eyes on her, and it makes her itch. "Relax," Leighton murmurs, putting her hand on Blake's knee. "I'd tell him to scram right now, but I don't want him trying to kill you tonight."

Blake relaxes a fraction. "I forgot all about that," she admits. "What happens at the water tower, anyhow?"

"You race to the top. First one up wins."

"Some game," Blake snorts. "Should I win or lose?"

"If you lose, Eddie'll make your life hell," Leighton replies. "Of course, he'll also do that if you win."

"Great," Blake mutters dryly. "I'll just aim for a tie, then."

"That's the spirit," Leighton says brightly. "Pull over here."

Blake coasts to a stop at the curb. "See you at eight, I guess."

"I'll be there," Leighton replies, kissing Blake quickly before sliding out of the passenger side door. "Oh, and Blake?"

"Yes?" Blake asks, craning her head to see Leighton through the window.

Leighton bites her lip shyly. "Thanks for the malt."

It's enough to make Blake smile again, and she says, "Any time, sweetheart," before winking and driving off, glancing into the rearview mirror again and again well after Leighton has disappeared from sight.

Blake hides out in her room when she gets home, staring up at her ceiling and trying to stain every perfect moment of the afternoon into her memory. Her parents call her for dinner but she begs off, preferring instead to keep the taste of Leighton on her lips. Finally, at seven thirty, she reluctantly gets out of bed, washes her face, and puts on a fresh t-shirt. With her blue jeans and her black leather jacket on, she thinks she looks pretty okay.

Her parents are still sitting up in the kitchen when she tries to sneak out the back door, and her mother shrieks as soon as Blake enters the room, rushing over and clutching the front of Blake's jacket. For a split second, Blake can't figure out what all the fuss is about, and by the time she thinks to bring up her hand to cover her eye, it's too late. "Look at your face!" her mother cries, prodding at the bruise over Blake's cheekbone. "What did they do to you?"

"You damn fool," her father growls from the kitchen table, taking a sip of whiskey. "Won't you ever learn?"

"They didn't do anything, Ma," Blake mumbles, twisting out of her mother's grip. "I just ran into something, that's all."

"I wish you'd've worn the dress, just once!" her mother wails.

Blake shakes her head and wrenches the door open, storming out past the back porch to the garage. When she pulls out into the driveway, she can see her mother's silhouette in the window. Grinding her teeth, she rockets out into the street, her tires squealing as she peels away.

By the time she gets to the water tower, her anger has cooled, but as soon as the group of kids come into view, her nerves kick up full force. She parks her car and gets out slowly, looking at the gang over the roof of her car. Eddie's leaning against the hood of his own vehicle, his arm wrapped around Leighton's waist like a vise. Badger and Crawf stand to his left, arms crossed, and Blake can see Taylor hovering on the periphery. She smiles grimly. "Evening, folks," she says.

Eddie lets go of Leighton and stands up straight. "Welcome to the party, new kid," he replies in a tone just this side of sinister. "You ready to rumble?"

It takes all of Blake's willpower not to look at Leighton, but she manages, and she stares Eddie right in the eye as she responds, "You bet, buddy."

He swings his arm around, and Blake flinches in anticipation of a blow, but he just slings it around her shoulders in a semi-headlock. "Come on, then," he says, steering her over toward the tower. "I hope you aren't afraid of heights."

Eddie's arm is heavy across Blake's back, and his grip is crushingly strong when they shake hands at the base, glaring at each other. He's bulky, though, not quick, and Blake knows from their skirmish that his reactions are sluggish and clumsy. She holds out hope that it will work to her advantage.

"Rules are simple," Badger says once they've shaken hands. "You each start at a ladder, both feet on the ground, both hands on a rung. Crawf'll count you off. Anyone who leaves the ground before he says go is a cheat, and must forfeit the match. First man up is declared winner and champion, and loser gets stripped down and tossed in the reservoir. Any questions?"

Blake shakes her head.

"If you fall," Eddie adds. "No one saw it."

"I won't fall," Blake replies coolly.

"Go to your ladders," Badger commands. Blake and Eddie give each other one last look before splitting.

There are four ladders running up the sides of the tower and they take the two nearest, so Blake can see Eddie from where she stands. He motions Leighton over and she hands him a towel, which he uses to wipe off his hands before grabbing the back of her neck and kissing her. Blake fumes, but keeps her tone light when she yells, "Hey cutie, me too!"

Leighton glances over and smiles and pulls away from Eddie, bringing the towel over to Blake. "Any last words of advice?" Blake mutters, scrubbing at her sweaty palms with the rag.

"Eddie'll take off like a shot, but don't try to rush it in the beginning," Leighton replies under her breath. "He wears out quickly."

"Will they actually toss him in the lake?"

"Those are the rules," Leighton affirms. "He always loses when he's drunk, so he's been tossed before."

"And when he's sober?"

Leighton takes the rag back from Blake and looks up at her solemnly. "He always wins."

Blake nods grimly and Leighton gives her a quick smile before walking away. "Hands up!" Crawf yells, and Blake turns to her ladder, gripping the cool metal. "Ready, set, go!"

Blake starts climbing steadily, hand over hand, pushing off with her feet. In the corner of her peripheral vision, she can see Eddie shoot ahead of her in a burst of speed and practiced technique. She takes a deep breath and climbs faster, quickly finding a rhythm as she scales the side of the tower. A quarter of the way up, Eddie is still beating her by a considerable margin, and her arms are starting to ache. She concentrates on her own ladder, trying to ignore the way her sweat makes her palms slippery against the metal. Halfway up, her back and quads throb with unaccustomed exertion, but she thinks about Leighton and her parents and every jackass who's ever taken a swing at her, and keeps moving up at a determined pace.

She's nearly at the top when she realizes that she can't even see Eddie anymore out of the corner of her eye. She figures at first that he must have already made it to the top and starts to curse herself, but then glances down and sees him still around the halfway point, moving up at a crawl. It's a triumphant moment, but then she realizes that looking down was a terrible idea. A sudden wave of dizziness overtakes her. The ground is very, very far away, and the people standing there look very, very small. Blake closes her eyes and inhales and then looks up again. She plants her feet and grips the rungs above her. She keeps moving up.

Once she's hauled herself up onto the narrow walkway that runs around the water tower, Blake collapses against the side and leans her head against the structure, breathing hard and trying to will her muscles to stop trembling. She can faintly hear cheering from below, and she allows herself a congratulatory grin before schooling her features and peering down again. Eddie is very nearly at the top, panting and sweating, but still moving up. Blake hauls herself to her feet as he clambers onto the walkway. Her legs are like jelly underneath her, but she grips the railing beside her and stays upright.

"You fucking dyke," Eddie gasps, bracing himself against the tower and panting heavily. "How did you do that?"

Blake shrugs and doesn't say anything.

"You think you're all that, don't you?" Eddie snarls. "Well I've got news for you, buddy, you aren't. You've still got tits under that t-shirt."

"So what if I do?" Blake replies mildly. "I beat you, didn't I?"

Eddie's nostrils flare, but he doesn't move. "I know you've got your eye on my girl," he says accusingly. "Too bad she'll never take a second look at the likes of you."

Blake's temper spikes and before she can stop herself, she snaps, "Oh yeah? Well I've got news for you, buddy. She already did."

It takes him a moment to understand her meaning, but when he does, his eyes go almost comically wide and his face turns purple with rage. "You're a goddamn liar," he says.

"Am I?" Blake challenges. "Where did you think she was this afternoon during sixth period?"

"You bitch" Eddie growls low in his throat, reaching into pocket and pulling out a knife.

Blake hears a distant scream from below. "You really want to do that?" she asks, holding her ground. "You already know I can fight you and win. It'll only look worse for you if I do it again."

"I'm going to kill you," Eddie mutters, sounding very much like he means it and starting to walk forward. "I'm going to fucking kill you."

"No sir," Blake replies, pulling her own knife from her jeans. "I came prepared tonight, and I'm certainly fresher than you are after that climb."

Eddie clenches his jaw, and Blake sees something cross his face that looks very much like fear. "Just put your knife away," she says gently. "We'll go down quietly. No one has to get hurt."

Eddie keeps walking forward, but his hand is trembling and his eyes are filling with tears of desperate anger. "I hate you," he whispers.

"I know," Blake replies firmly. "But trying to fight me right now isn't going to make it any better."

Eddie makes an ugly noise of fury in his throat and without warning hurls his knife at Blake. She doesn't have time to duck, but his aim is terrible anyway and it just nicks the arm of her jacket before flying off the tower. Her heart leaps into her throat, but the blade doesn't even touch her skin, and a quick glance downward assures her that the jacket is okay too. "Jesus," she grumbles, folding her own knife and shoving it into her pants. "Happy now?"

Eddie looks at her with an odd, defeated expression, and then glances over at the railing. Blake steps forward quickly, ready to grab his arm, and says, "Don't even think about it."

Eddie glares at her rebelliously for a moment before letting out all his air in a long, audible breath and sinking down against the side of the water tower. "Wouldn't you?" he asks.

"No," Blake replies firmly. "No, I wouldn't."

Eddie looks over at her. "I guess not," he replies after a moment. "If you were gonna give up, you would've done it by now."

Blake clasps her hands together and nods silently.

"I hate it up here," Eddie declares after another brief silence.

Blake takes that as her cue to stand up and dust her pants off. She doesn't offer her hand to Eddie, but she waits for him to get to his feet as well and nods solidly at him before moving over to her ladder. He responds in kind, and they begin the long climb down.

Blake gets to the ground first, and the first thing she does is look to Badger and Crawf and shake her head meaningfully. Crawf tilts his head quizzically, but Badger seems to understand, and he nods imperceptibly. Then, all of a sudden, there's a flurry of movement and Blake is nearly tackled to the ground by Taylor. "You were so good!" Taylor squeals. "You were so fast and you totally beat him and they're going to throw him in the lake!"

"That's enough," Blake says quickly in a stern tone, before softening her voice and giving the girl a smile. "But thanks."

Leighton comes up beside her next, anxiously reaching for her arm and checking the scratch on her jacket there. "You're okay?" she asks.

Blake grins at her and replies, "I'm better than okay, cutie."

"I was worried," Leighton admits, toying with the edge of her own blouse. "I didn't want you to get hurt."

"And I didn't get hurt, did I?" Blake responds. "Here I am, safe and sound."

"Here you are," Leighton repeats softly.

At that moment, Eddie leaps down from the ladder, looking around warily at the assembled crowd. Before anyone can say anything about losing or lakes, though, Badger yells, "Who's for shakes at Clarke's?"

The group erupts in cheers, and everyone piles into cars, the dunking ritual forgotten. Eddie lingers, looking over at Blake and Leighton with an uncertain expression. Finally, he shrugs and turns away and slides into the driver's seat of his convertible, burning rubber out of the lot.

The three of them, Blake, Leighton, and Taylor, are left alone under the tower. "I think I've had enough ice cream for today," Blake declares. "You want a ride home, Taylor?"

"Gosh, can I ride in your car?" Taylor asks eagerly.

"Sure you can," Blake replies, winking at Leighton. "Hop in."

They cram into the front seat, Taylor sandwiched between Blake and Leighton, and cruise through the streets of Clearwater Falls. Taylor chatters the whole way home about how swell Blake is and how great she did in the race, and Blake just smiles and pats her on the head. "Be good," she tells Taylor when they get to her house. "I'll see you at school tomorrow."

"Great!" Taylor exclaims, scampering over the yard and up onto the porch, waving enthusiastically at the car before going inside. Leighton laughs and says, "She's cute."

"She's a troublemaker," Blake replies, putting the car in reverse and backing into the street. "I like her."

"Oh yeah?" Leighton says, sliding across the front seat and curling into Blake's side. "Do you like me too?"

"I think you know the answer to that question," Blake replies, smirking.

"Is it so wrong to want to hear it again?" Leighton demands.

Blake slows to a halt at a stop sign and leans in to kiss Leighton. "I like you," she whispers just before their lips touch.

Leighton smiles into the kiss. "Come to my place," she murmurs when they break apart.

Blake hesitates and shakes her head. "You know I'm not the kind of guy that girls want to take home to meet their parents," she protests.

"My mama works the night shift at the hospital and my daddy's out drinking with his buddies," Leighton replies. "No one has to meet anyone."

Blake purses her lips and considers it. "You're sure?" she asks.

Leighton laughs and replies, "Just go, Blake."

Leighton's room is dark, muted blues and soft but somber greens, and there are shadows in every corner. She makes no move to turn on the lights when they walk in, though, and so Blake doesn't either. She crosses her arms over her chest instead, wishing she still had on the jacket she took off downstairs rather than just a t-shirt. Leighton steps in front of her, putting her hands on Blake's waist and looking up. "You won tonight," she says.

A car drives by outside, and a beam of light passes over Leighton's face. She's smiling sweetly. Blake smiles back. "I did, didn't I?" she says.

"You beat Eddie and then talked him out of killing you for it," Leighton replies wryly. "You've got to be some kind of hero."

"No hero," Blake says softly, unfolding her arms and wrapping them around Leighton instead, pulling her closer.

Leighton presses against her readily, burying her face in Blake's shoulder. They stand there in silent embrace for a long moment, and Blake relaxes incrementally as the seconds tick by, getting used to the feeling of Leighton's fingers on the regrettably feminine curve of her hips. It's easy to breathe in the dark where no one can see them.

She feels warm lips against the skin of her throat and flinches, then groans when Leighton bites lightly at the junction of her neck and shoulder. Leighton's grip on her waist tightens and Blake feels herself being propelled backwards, stumbling and falling onto the bed when her legs hit the mattress. Leighton climbs on top of her, straddling her waist and kissing her hungrily. Blake reciprocates, flattening her hands against Leighton's back and pulling her closer. Leighton's tongue flickers across her lips and she opens her mouth, only to make a high-pitched, girly, and unmistakably feminine sound when Leighton deepens the kiss. It's stupid and it's embarrassing and it's wrong, and Blake, mortified and blushing furiously, pushes Leighton away quickly and sits up. "Sorry," she mutters, putting her head in her hands and trying to calm her rapidly beating heart.

"What's the matter?" Leighton asks, sounding truly confused and a little apprehensive.

"Nothing," Blake growls, squeezing her eyes shut and pressing the heels of her hands against them, like it'll make her stop thinking about her parents and Eddie and the bruise under her eye and the dress in the back of her closet. "I'm not - I'm sorry."

"I don't know what you're apologizing for," Leighton tells her. "Did I do something wrong?"

"No!" Blake exclaims. "No, Jesus, there's nothing wrong with you."

Leighton is silent for a moment, then sighs. "Blake," she says quietly. "What kind of a person do you think a girl wants?"

Blake snorts and says humorlessly, "A man."

Leighton's hand grasps her shoulder and tugs her backward. "Come here," Leighton commands, pulling harder when Blake resists. "Come down here."

Reluctantly, Blake reclines into the pillows, staring hard at the ceiling. Leighton grabs her chin and forces her to turn her head so they're looking at each other through the darkness. "Stop trying to live up to something," she tells Blake sharply.

Blake closes her eyes and takes a shuddering breath. "I want to be enough," she whispers, her voice cracking. "I want to be good enough for you."

"You are," Leighton replies firmly, moving closer and draping one arm over Blake's waist. "You're the person I've been waiting for my whole life."

Blake opens her eyes again, and Leighton's gentle smile glows in the thin light from the street. She's terribly lovely, and Blake almost wants to simply dwell on her beauty forever, but instead she rolls over and pins Leighton to the mattress and kisses her with a little bit of desperation and a lot of hope.

Leighton's hands fly to her hips immediately, pulling her closer, and Blake swallows a groan and bites down on Leighton's ear. Leighton's fingernails dig into Blake's side and she bucks upward, whimpering when Blake responds by pressing her thigh forward between Leighton's legs. It sends a heady rush of power and pride to Blake's head, and she reaches between them to tug Leighton's blouse out of her skirt while she kisses down the side of Leighton's neck. "Jesus," Leighton hisses, clutching at Blake's shoulders when she slips her hand under the edge of Leighton's blouse, reaching up to massage Leighton's breast through the stiff fabric of her bra.

"Okay?" Blake whispers, sliding her hand under Leighton's back and lifting her up slightly.

Leighton nods and purrs as Blake undoes the clasp of her bra before pushing her blouse over her head and sliding the straps of the undergarment down her arms. The darkness makes it hard to see anything, but Leighton's skin is warm and soft under Blake's fingers. She arches up into Blake's touch and Blake wraps her hands around Leighton's waist, marveling at how small she is, how slender her body feels in Blake's grasp. Leighton whimpers when Blake slides her hands upwards slightly, moving her thumbs in quick circles around Leighton's tightly pebbled nipples. "Please," she whispers into Blake's ear.

Blake grins and drops one hand to the hem of Leighton's skirt, all the while continuing to press kisses down Leighton's throat, over her collarbone, and across her chest. She slides her hand up Leighton's leg, slow as can be. Leighton shifts and keens and says, "Blake, please," and that's enough encouragement for Blake to cup her hand and press it against Leighton's center. Leighton moans and Blake has to close her eyes and take a couple deep breaths, because this isn't her first time but it's closer than she'd like, and Leighton is so warm against her palm that she can't stand it. She slips her fingers under the cloth of Leighton's panties and pauses. "Okay?" she asks again.

"For Christ's sake, Blake," Leighton gasps. "Stop being such a gentleman already."

Blake smirks and presses forward and up with two fingers. Leighton cries out and arches up, her knees bending and her thigh rubbing right between Blake's legs. Blake grunts and falls forward onto one elbow, rocking her hips down in time with her thrusts. They move together, hard enough that the frame creaks beneath them, and the friction from Leighton's leg makes Blake's head spin. "More," Leighton whispers, hooking her outside leg around Blake's waist and pulling her closer. Blake bites down on her shoulder and adds another finger and then Leighton is shuddering and trembling and crying out beneath her. Blake rocks forward one more time and feels every muscle in her body tighten with pleasure before she's left loose and boneless, collapsing next to Leighton.

They lie still and silent for a moment, catching their breath, before Leighton rolls onto her side and stares at Blake with shining eyes. Blake raises an eyebrow at her and mumbles, "What?" into the pillow.

"Nothing," Leighton replies, grinning and wriggling up against Blake. "You're just pretty swell, is all."

Blake chuckles and shifts to her side, gathering Leighton into her arms. "Is that so?" she asks, puffing out her chest a little.

"Yes, it is," Leighton says in a low, honeyed voice that sets a pulse pounding between Blake's thighs. She drags her hand down Blake's stomach, and Blake wants to just lie still and let Leighton go on, but she can't help flinching when Leighton's fingers brush against her belt buckle. Leighton sighs and moves her hand upwards again.

"No, wait," Blake says quickly, putting her own hand over Leighton's. "I'm sorry, it's just -"

"You'll trust me some day, won't you?" Leighton asks quietly.

Blake ducks her head and takes a couple deep breaths and closes her eyes. When she opens them again, Leighton is looking at her patiently. "Yes, I will," she replies, hoarse but confident. "I promise I will."

Leighton smiles and presses a lingering kiss to Blake's cheek and rests her head on Blake's shoulder. "I know," she says.

The next day, Blake walks into school with the prettiest girl in the world on her arm, sick to her stomach and completely terrified. Groups of kids turn and stare and whisper as they pass by. Blake hopes it has to with Eddie and the water tower, rather than with what she's hiding behind her gray suit and short haircut, but she's not so sure it does. "Calm down," Leighton tells her. "It doesn't matter what they think."

"Doesn't it?" Blake replies darkly, glancing warily at the surrounding students.

"Since when do you care what people think about you, anyhow?"

"Since I care what people think about you," Blake responds. "They could call me every name in the world and I wouldn't blink, but you..."

"Don't worry about me," Leighton insists, lacing their fingers together. "I'm happy as can be."

Blake glances down at their clasped hands and grins, but her smile fades when she looks up and catches sight of Eddie at the end of the hall. He's leaning against the lockers there, staring down the corridor at Blake and Leighton with an odd look on his face. Hands jammed into his pockets and brow furrowed stubbornly, he seems more like a boy who's been sent to his room than a tough greaser, but all the same, Blake doesn't want to cross him. "Should we go another way?" she mutters, tugging Leighton's hand and slowing their pace.

"Of course not," Leighton replies firmly. "He's not going to do anything but sulk at us."

"He hates me."

"He's scared of you."

Blake bites back a response, hoping that Leighton is right. Besides, she knows that to turn away would be unforgivable cowardice, and so she sets her jaw and puts a little swagger into her step. She holds Eddie's cold gaze as they move down the hallway toward him. His face is full of anger but also fear, and as they pass him, he drops his eyes, staring at the ground. He doesn't look back up until after they have moved on, and it makes Blake want to let out a whoop of victory.

"See?" Leighton murmurs as they round the corner before pausing at Blake's locker. "Not so bad."

Blake chuckles and nods, reluctantly letting go of Leighton's hand to spin the lock. It sticks a little in its casing and she misses the second digit, cursing when the dial flies by the number.

"I told you, spin to zero and then to thirty!" It's Taylor, elbowing Blake out of the way and grabbing the lock. "Geez Louise."

"Hi Taylor," Blake says with a smirk, stepping out of the kid's way and grabbing Leighton's hand again.

"There, I got it," Taylor announces proudly, swinging the metal door open. She looks over at Blake and Leighton's clasped hands and makes a face. "Are you two going steady?" she asks.

"We sure are," Blake replies easily, tossing a couple books into the locker before closing it.

"I figured," Taylor tells her matter-of-factly. "Even yesterday, it was pretty obvious."

Blake laughs and ruffles Taylor's hair and says, "Come on, we're late for class."

Taylor falls in step with them as they turn to move down the hallway, sticking by Blake's side like her shadow. "Say, is it as easy as it looks?" she asks all of a sudden, tugging Blake's sleeve. "Falling in love, I mean?"

Blake gets a funny, tight feeling in her chest, and she glances over at Leighton, who looks back at her with brown eyes that sparkle and shine. "Yes it is," she replies, not taking her gaze off of Leighton's perfect smile. "It's the easiest thing in the world."
secret member of the hurl scoutsmcdoh1902 on March 24th, 2010 04:53 am (UTC)
You are really fucking awesome. This AU is really fucking awesome. Man. I really need to watch Rebel Without a Cause, don't I?
08adabry08adabry on March 24th, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC)
Haha thanks so much! And I will be honest, I did not watch it until I saw Blake's Esquire photo shoot and realized I needed to write fic about her as James Dean.
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08adabry08adabry on March 24th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)

But :D :D :D I am so glad you like it! I was hoping you might.
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08adabry08adabry on March 24th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
sapphire_magick: Bleighton eyesexsapphire_magick on March 24th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
Whoa, I'm amazed. Completely speechless. God, I can't even form SENTENCES. This AU is so ridiculously good. I love it so much!
08adabry08adabry on March 24th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
Wow, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
lesbinione: fancylesbinione on March 24th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
That was delicious AU perfection with whipped cream and TWO cherries on top.
08adabry08adabry on March 24th, 2010 06:00 pm (UTC)
Chocolate-flavored? I hope so.

Thanks :)
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08adabry08adabry on March 24th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
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08adabry08adabry on March 24th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
-: Stick It - Haleyteh_faolkitty on March 24th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
This was posted just as I lay down to sleep (Foolish me for checking my flist once more before bed, I suppose.) and I have to say- totally worth being like a zombie all day. This was one of the most touching, epic fics I've read in a while, let alone Bleighton fics. Splendid work :D
08adabry08adabry on March 24th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
Lols I do that all the time, no matter how ill-advised. I'm really glad you liked it! Thanks for the feeback!
meso-esoterica: 3-1 inside risemesoterica on March 25th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
Oh my God, this hit SO! MANY! KINKS! for me. Like, kinks I didn't even know I had. Awesome :)
08adabry08adabry on March 25th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
Haha thanks!
Mary X. Fiend-Villainess: bleightonfivewhatfive on March 25th, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
OMGGG UNEXPECTED FIC IS THE BEST FIC. I was so excited when I saw this on my flist yesterday. I love that you didn't even need a ton of backstory to make me feel for Blake and, heck, even Eddie lol. CAN I JUST SAY IT IS MY FAVORITE THING WHEN YOU TAKE MOVIES AND TURN THEM INTO AUs WITH BLAKE AND LEIGHTON AND SEXYTIMES?
08adabry08adabry on March 25th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on March 25th, 2010 10:37 am (UTC)
...can i marry this?
08adabry08adabry on March 25th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
If you like? Haha thanks :)
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08adabry08adabry on March 25th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad! Thank you!
bruja: pretty girls » georgia jonesrules1through8 on March 25th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
Whaaaaaaaaat. What in the ACTUAL fuck? WHY IS THIS SO GOOD. Like, if James Dean were still alive, I'd yell at him for not being badass enough because your Blake Dean is SO FUCKING AMAZING. AND I REALLY LOVE JAMES DEAN, SO.
meanmrcatsupmeanmrcatsup on March 27th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
Blake sighs and nods, like she was expecting it, and scuffs her shoe on the ground. "He's a likeable guy, huh?"

I've only seen this movie once, and it was a few years ago...but for some reason, I remember shoe scuffing as an essential part of Jimmy Dean's acting. I feel like you really nailed his/Blake's character. Taylor's too. I basically don't remember anything about the rest of the characters, even the love interest--but it all worked for me.

Terrific job. (I'm embarrassed how long it took me to clue in that Crawf and Badger weren't original characters.)
madndizzee: The way Quinn likes it by rutabega129madndizzee on March 27th, 2010 07:23 am (UTC)
I haven't read Bleighton in a while but then I saw your name, Rebel Without a Cause and mention of the Esquire shoot and I'm in. From Glee to GG, aren't you awesome and versatile. :P

This AU is definitely one of my favs! It just oozes cool. I think Blake's got James Dean beat haha. And Leighton, so cute. The two of them together just makes me happy. And Taylor was pretty adorable too. I even like Eddie.
taxiforhiretaxiforhire on April 6th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
This was so great and wonderful and great. Guh.
Jay.jonesingjay on April 11th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
whoa...like the best thing au/bleighton/blake drag i've read in...well, forever! brilliant! please do the outsiders!
Ailiemeteoritecrater on October 28th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
This may read as abnormally creepy, but your Heya fic was awesome and when someone said you'd written Bleighton I kind of had to come stalk you. I won't comment on everything I read for fear of flooding your mail box with my squeeing/fangirling, but hot damn you are amazing, this is all kinds of amazing, and I kind of adore you right now.