Chapter 11: A series of unexpected events
“Anything with boobs can get a frat boy to do anything.”
~ Felicity Smoak (Overwatch)
Celeste Moctezuma found herself kissing Ross Gustin
It wasn’t as outrageous and insane as it seemed.
(Okay, maybe it was even more outrageous and insane than it seemed.)
It’s not like Celeste had meant to end up kissing him, it just sort of happened. A lot of things like that happened to people, right? It’s not like she had wanted him to kiss her at all, right?
She should probably back up a bit to make more sense.
You see, it was just another study session. A simple study date – no! Session! (God, she hated herself).
Ross’s parents had started yelling downstairs, as they regularly did whenever Celeste was there. Angie was over at a friend’s house for a sleepover, so Ross’s only worry was turning up the radio and going on like everything was normal. He talked about World War 1 as if it was the most pertinent thing to ever be talked about. Like it was his only lifeline.
But, this time Celeste wasn’t going to let it go.
Maybe it was because of the events earlier in the day, but this time Celeste wasn’t going to passively pretend to care about why some idiots decided to start a pointless war by killing the Archduke of some unimportant country.
When she got home from school, she immediately wanted to go out and punch something or someone. The afternoon before she had blown off hanging out with Ross to go rob a jewelry store, which turned out to be a bust anyways because that new villain, Mischief, stole her money and humiliated her in front of the member of a gang. Not to mention it made her feel very confused about where she stood with Ross, as she blew him off for something that turned out to be nothing but losing.
The problem she came to throughout the day after her failed robbery was that she was either upset just because of Mischief, or she was upset also because she could’ve had a marvelous time with Ross instead.
And the problem with choosing that meant deciding where her heart stood when it came to the nerdy yet amazingly cool kid who helped her ace history class was that she didn’t want to admit she felt anything other than mutual passive respect for him. If she was sad on missing out on study-free alone time with Ross, did that mean she liked him in that stupid romantic comedy type of way? Did that mean she was falling for Ross?
Of course, there was no way in Celeste’s troubled mind that she could’ve been upset at the prospect of losing alone time with someone only considered as a friend, because by the end of the day her mind was already too frazzled to accept anything other than she may be falling for Ross, and it was quite terrifying.
Bad guys don’t fall in love. Bad guys rip apart happy couples and rain on parades. Bad guys don’t go frolicking in the park with hot boys in hipster glasses.
(Did she just call him hot?)
(What was wrong with her?)
Anyone who knew Celeste (and Celeste could probably tell you that the number of people who actually knew her was smaller than the number of time Wild Fire had ever actually gotten close to throwing her in prison) knew that she was acting very strange indeed. She was never usually this jumpy and nervous, she was always calm and stoic. She was never this absent-minded, she was always heard-headed and sharp.
Celeste must’ve been going mad, it was the only explanation.
And, so, when the school day came to an end and Ross walked up to her again, face hopeful and innocent, Celeste started to have a heart attack. She was definitely not ready to face her feelings, and she had tried to avoid them by ignoring him all day. It turned out Ross was a lot more persistent than she gave him credit for.
“Celeste, I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute?”
She desperately looked around the hall for any reason to leave without seeming rude, but pretty quickly Celeste remembered that she hadn’t really made any friends at Kingdom Hills High except for Ross, and that was by mistake. She had no reason to run away screaming like she wanted to.
“Um . . . sure.”
He smiled widely, “Great.”
They both looked at each other for a moment, unsure. Ross had seemingly got lost in her gaze and Celeste was trying not to faint.
“Are you still coming over tonight to study?”
Celeste was jubilant and terrified all at once. He wasn’t going to ask her out at that exact moment, but she had to face hours tonight at his house alone with him instead.
“Yeah,” it came out as almost a whisper, but Ross still heard it, as evident by his ever widening grin.
Clark Rogers, number one Wild Fire suspect and world class jerk, put his hand on the lockers next to Celeste and stared down at Ross. She had almost forgotten how much the jerk bullied Ross.
Ross flinched when Clark got close, but it was delayed. Like he had forgotten for a moment that he was supposed to be afraid of Clark.
“You want to give me some alone time with Celeste?”
They were both very confused. The only contact she’d ever had with Clark was when he spilled his sloppy joe all over her three months ago. She was surprised he even knew her name.
Ross hesitated, and Clark started for him. Again, Ross seemed to forget to be scared for a moment before flinching and walking away.
Celeste was too confused by the appearance of the guy who was probably her biggest enemy that she didn’t look after Ross to see if he was okay.
“Is there something you want?”
Clark chuckled, something she was sure his on and off again girlfriend, Delilah Sivan, loved and swooned over. “Why do you have to be so cold?”
He was making her very uncomfortable with the way he was leaning over her. It was no secret that Celeste was short, and it made her feel even more helpless when a big guy like Clark was overtaking her personal space. It was like how she felt when Mischief made moves on her yesterday. At least when she was around Ross she felt safe. His height was almost the same as Clark’s, but it made her feel protected, not cornered.
“I’m not being cold, I’m being curious.”
Clark rolled his eyes, like she was just a little puppy. “Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I know something about you.”
Celeste flashed with fear, as she always did when anyone mentioned any secret of hers. If anyone knew who she was in her spare time, they could use it against her. Had his casual tone at calling her cold mean more than it seemed. Did he know she was Arctic Frost?
“And what is it that you know?”
He looked down the hallway, to where Ross had disappeared, “Dating a pipsqueak isn’t going to get you anything in a place like this.”
She didn’t let the relief show on her face that he didn’t know who she was. “And why should you care? You don’t even know me.”
He shrugged. “Maybe, but I do know there are other people that are much better suited to a strong woman like you than skinny nerds like him that no one likes.”
Celeste looked him up and down, trying to summon a nonchalant look even though Clark’s presence was making her steadily more uncomfortable. “Don’t you have a girlfriend, Mr. Popular?”
“Depends on why you want to know.”
Celeste put her shaking hands behind her back. She may have been a terrifying villain, but she was still a girl who was helpless against large frat boys like Clark. Last time she had run in with Wild Fire, at least he had boundaries. It made her question whether or not Clark was actually the hero with his constant disregard for her fear at his towering frame.
Now being so close to Clark’s towering gaze, she wasn’t sure she could call them the same fiery warm brown as Wild Fire’s. They seemed darker in this situation where she seemed unable to escape from them. For the first time she doubted Clark being the hero she hated. Wild Fire may have been a self-obsessed hero, but Celeste knew him well enough to know he respected women who weren’t pelting him with snowballs.
“I think it’s about time for me to go,” Celeste offered, trying to see a good opening for her to slip out from his gaze.
Clark’s hand shot out as she took a tentative step down the hall, “not so fast.”
Celeste wanted to ice the guy so bad, but Kingdom Hills High had pretty good security cameras, and there were still people in the halls to catch her using an icepick to stab their favorite student.
“I’ll catch you later so we can talk more about this.”
He finally let go and Celeste rubbed her hand as he turned to walk down the other way.
And, when she got home, she was hell-bent on getting her frustrations out somehow. She needed to punch someone or tear down a wall.
After quickly destroying an abandoned block deep in Oakland with ice and snow, Celeste felt a bit better. If any news sites reported the incident of the site the next day, they would probably think Arctic Frost had gotten in a fight with some hero or another, not that she was only blowing off steam. Because of course she was always fighting heroes for no reason.
She hoped maybe at least some neighborhood kids would find the winter wonderland and have some fun. At least her destructive power could do someone some good.
When she showed up at Ross’s house, she was still frazzled, especially considering her little tantrum had made her forget about the hours of alone time with him. By the time his parents had started fighting and he turned up the music and tried to explain to her the logistics of why anyone thought it was a good idea to declare allegiances in Europe and wait for someone to press the ever growing big red button, Celeste was tired of pretending.
“I don’t care about why some gang killed the prince of some kingdom!”
Ross was taken aback by the outburst. “Actually, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was-”
“It doesn’t matter! He’s dead! There’s nothing we can do for the poor guy now except move on!”
Ross tilted his head and closed the textbook so that the cover face of an All-American girl stared back at her. “What’s going on? You haven’t been really paying attention. I thought we were making progress?”
“We are making progress, I got a B on my last test,” Celeste defended. If anything Ross was able to get her to remember more by connecting the learning with fun moments, which meant it was easier to recall why the United States was trying to not get involved in foreign affairs in the early 1900s when she tied the memory with sitting in Ross’s room laughing at his impression of Woodrow Wilson.
“But there’s something on your mind today, you aren’t retaining much, are you?”
Ross’s words felt a little fired, so Celeste frowned and crossed her arms. “I am retaining some stuff.”
He lifted his eyebrows and leaned back. “Oh, really? What’s the name of the ‘gang’ that killed the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and what country were they from?”
Celeste bit her lip. “Um, the Nazis from Germany.”
Ross sighed and put his pencil down. “Well, we can’t get anything done with you like this. So, what’s one your mind?”
There was a particularly loud bang from downstairs that surpassed the loud punk music that played through Ross’s radio. He flinched and Celeste gave him a pointed look.
“They probably just dropped the remote.”
“That was the same excuse you used last time.”
He was caught there. “People can drop their remotes on more than one occasion.”
Celeste uncrossed her arms and looked into Ross’s eyes. “You think I don’t know what your parents are doing right now? I can sure as hell tell you that they aren’t dropping a TV remote. I’ve been where you are before, and I know how you feel like you have to make excuses, but I am here to tell you that you don’t have to make excuses with me. I am not going to judge you for something you can’t control,” she tried to urge the words into a truth Ross would understand. He had to know her side was his.
A strange expression passed over his face. Ross leaned over and tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear. It was as if they were back at the first time she had come over, when she first realized just how different Ross was from her stereotype of him in her head.
“You really are beautiful, Celeste,” Ross assured her, wide eyes and soft face completely focused on her. She had no time to completely discern what the comment meant before it happened.
He kissed her. It was nothing like she thought it would be, and at the same time it ended too fast. His warmth pulled away, eyes wide. Of course he thought Celeste would murder him or something for even attempting to make an actual move. The only thing neither one of them expected was what happened next.
Celeste leaned over and kissed him back.
It was outrageous and insane and totally unexpected. Celeste was cold and heartless, not some love lust romantic who saw the world with heart eyes. At least, she was supposed to be cold and heartless. Maybe for one moment, one sweet moment, she could stop pretending to be some terrifying villain and just be herself.