Chapter 9: Before the Meeting
Disclaimer: If you recognize it from the movie, I don't own it.
Warnings: OC character (kind of) - I've given Freeze Girl a name and a character
Pairing: Warren/OC, Will/Layla, Zach/Majenta
Summary: The teens prep for the meeting
Author's Note: First posted at FF.net
Chapter 1 - MELINDA
Chapter 2 - THE STRONGHOLDS
Chapter 3 - MONDAY
Chapter 4 - DETENTE
Chapter 5 - INTERLUDE
Chapter 6 - JUST A DANCE
Chapter 7 - TEAM DYNAMICS
Chapter 8 - THINGS HIT THE FAN
The bright voice pierced the comforting darkness causing her to rouse. Pulling the covers down slightly, a single blue eye cracked open and peered into a light filled room. Glancing around, she caught sight of her red-headed friend smiling down at her. Dressed in flowered print jeans and an emerald top, Layla sat on the edge of the bed.
"Sleepy head! Breakfast will be ready soon."
With that disgruntled sound, she looked around again before sitting up. With a long yawn, she stretched and groaned.
"What time is it?"
"In the morning? Layla."
A snort drew their attention to the door. Clad in black jeans and a violet top, Majenta leaned against the jamb smirking. Moving into the room, she closed the door and hopped on to the end of the bed. Although the smirk never slipped, Melinda could see the concern in her deep eyes. Even Layla seemed anxious in her cheer.
"Are you planning to sleep until the meeting?"
Ah, there's the hot button.
"The meeting doesn't start until eleven. Why are we awake?"
"How many alarm clocks do you go through?"
"In a month or in a year?"
"You can't be serious."
Melinda slanted her a sharp blue gaze.
"Never underestimate my love of sleep and dislike of morning."
Green eyes sparked in amusement and she stepped back to give a deep, sweeping bow.
"My Lady Solumnia!"
As she stood back up a small pillow caught her in the face. She stepped back, snatching up the projectile to stare at Melinda. Amused blue eyes stared back and one white-blond eyebrow rose in challenge. Green eyes narrowed and Layla charged forward swinging.
For several minutes, chaos reigned in the bedroom as the three girls dodged and swung. The battle raged, with giggles and laughter echoing. Finally, one of the small down pillows was stressed too far and it burst. All three froze as the feathers flew and began to drift down.
At that moment, the door opened.
Of course, NOW someone comes to check on the noise.
Josie Stronghold walked in and stopped short in surprise. Her eyes flickered and darted from the feathers to the girls. Majenta's violet eyes were open wide in surprise even as she struggled to keep her face stoic. On the other hand, Layla's face showed her open concern with both hands covering her lips. Mrs. Stronghold's mouth twitched.
Melinda bit her lip as the amused eyes met her twinkling ones. They stared at each other for a long moment as the other two looked on with anxiety and the feathers settled in an abstract pattern on the floor.
I would pay good money for a picture of this.
Shaking her head, Mrs. Stronghold threw her hands out and raised her eyes to the ceiling.
"And me without my camera!"
Melinda burst out laughing, the clear tone bringing smiles to everyone's faces. Will's mother gave a large warm smile.
"All right girls, finish getting ready. Breakfast will be on the table soon."
She left the room, closing the door behind her. Still laughing, Melinda grabbed her stuff and headed for the bathroom.
After the girls finished their morning routines, they headed downstairs to join everyone else. The male half of the group were either leaning or sitting on the countertops in the kitchen. Will, in his usual colors, stood near the refrigerator talking quietly to Warren. The dark-haired pyro perched on the countertop dressed, as usual, in black with a deep red shirt showing under his jacket. Ethan and Zach assisted in lighting up the kitchen with their bright orange jacket (Ethan) and yellow top (Zach). They were uncharacteristically silent, eyes showing the same nerves that had been reflected in the girls' earlier. Melinda's face grew serious as she skirted past Warren and they exchanged glances. Giving an almost imperceptible nod, she sank into a chair and propped her chin on one fist.
"You lot were up early?"
"Will's dad came knocking. Kind of hard to ignore."
Everyone else turned to him in consternation. They had not expected the exasperation showing in his voice. On the other hand, she just tilted her head and put on an amused expression.
"Oh, poor babies, being woken up by the stern, but good-hearted father-type. I'll do you one better. I was woken by the cheerful voice and exuberant personality of . . . a morning person."
She gave a mock shudder, leaning back in her chair. He slanted a dark eyebrow at her.
"Icing the flower child makes that much noise?"
She smirked, crinkling her nose, and threw a napkin at him.
"No, that would be the pillow fight. After all, no sleepover is complete without one."
They all stared at the three girls as Mrs. Stronghold gave them their breakfast. Ignoring the looks, they began to eat. After a few moments of silence, Melinda looked at the guys and raised her own eyebrow at them.
"What's the matter? Did you forget to have yours?"
A handful of snickers echoed in the room, only to turn to laughter as the two of them traded back and forth.
"Somehow I don't think ours would have been as fun."
"So you admit pillow fights are fun?"
"They are fun to watch."
"You could have watched those three."
"Are you trying to give me nightmares?"
"Oh, please, who else are you going to watch?"
"I could always watch you three."
"I beg your pardon? Our pillow fights are not spectator sports."
"I don't mind participating."
"Darling, didn't you know? No boys allowed."
That last line, drawled out in a put-on Southern accent brought a fresh round of laughter to the kitchen. A quick satisfied smile graced her lips while he gave her a hidden wink. The undercurrent of anxiety was gone.
As the humor died down, Will's parents stood up. His dad turned to them.
"We are gathering with some of your parents before the meeting to make sure everyone knows what is going on. Ron Wilson will come by around 10:30 to pick you up."
The kitchen remained silent for a few minutes after they left until Will cleared his throat.
"I think we need to figure out how we want to handle the meeting."
Murmurs of agreement answered him even as the others shifted to focus their attention. Melinda smiled to herself in quiet approval as he managed to control his embarrassment before speaking once more.
"Well, we've been handling all of this as a team so far, and I want to do the same at the meeting. If we're going to make them understand, we have to handle this right."
"I agree. How we handle this is going to affect how they see it. They really don't want to take us seriously."
Warren shifted as the others grumbled.
"Think about it. This twice now that their school has been targeted. And both times, who have their saviors been? Not one of the teachers, or seniors, or even outside heroes . . . instead, they've been rescued by those they'd written off. To them, Homecoming was a fluke."
"Exactly – look at us. Look at us for just one minute like they do. Who do they see? The Goth shifter."
Maj's lips twisted.
"The nerdy guy who melts."
"The glowy loud mouth."
"The pacifist plant-lover."
"The icy poor-little rich girl."
"The pyro villain-in-disguise."
"And the wanna-be hero living off his family name."
As Will finished the list, everyone remained silent. None of them were really popular, and all of them had been targeted in the halls at some point or another.
"Together we make a really good team. They don't know what to do with us. We don't fit in their little categories."
Melinda blew out a huff.
"I should hope not. Narrow minded – the lot of them – they don't want to acknowledge us because they'd have to change their thinking. To them, we should always surrender, leaving the 'problem' to those in charge. We shouldn't be 'defending ourselves' – it is not our place."
Warren's glare grew fierce.
"Too damn bad – if we waited on someone else, we'd all be dead or 'pacified.' I don't really care if it annoys them, or hurts someone's feelings."
Will raised his hand for attention.
"No one is disagreeing with you. We all made a choice to do something instead of giving up or panicking. Now, how do we use that?"
Silence reigned for several long minutes before Melinda smiled.
"No matter what anyone thinks, appearances matter. We need to go in looking like individuals who have chosen to band together. They need to see that we were not forced to become a team – we chose to."
While the others just looked at her, Will and Warren nodded.
"Good point, Snowflake."
She sniffed delicately before turning to the de facto leader.
"I think Melinda's right. We go in, dressed just like we are right now, but we do it as a group. Where do you think they'll have the meeting?"
Ethan straightened up.
"Probably in the gym. When you factor in all of our parents and whoever is representing the school, it'll be too large of a group for an office."
"Right, so we need to sit together. Nobody goes to sit with their parents."
Zach leaned forward.
"Will, man, you'll have to be in front."
Even as he began to protest, the others argued him down. They had followed his orders at the dance, and they would follow his lead now.