How to Love

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album two, track three -- whole lotta love

October 24th, 1977
School Yard
12:45 pm

"Why do we have to go to this stupid pep rally anyways?" Claire asked for the third time in the last five minutes; her words laced with disgruntled disdain. She tapped the toe of her pristine black Mary Janes against the rubble pathway leading towards the football field where all the cheerleaders, including Corrina and Heather, plus the band already were.

Scott rolled his eyes behind his dark aviator sunglasses, using his thumb and index finger to remove his dimly lit cigarette from between his lips. The bitter, burning cloud of smoke burned the inside of his throat, gurgling up his mouth as it waited for him to part his lips for the smoke's great escape.

And blow.

"I thought you were the one all about education and school spirit?" Scott grumbled, squishing out the excess tobacco and the cherry of his cigarette atop of the frigid rubble. The crumbled cigarette laid in between his two fingers while he debated what to do next. A long, drawn out debate. Until he reached out and flicked it towards the annoying blonde.

Hitting her square in the back.

"Screw you, Scott," she seethed between clenched teeth, refusing to give him the satisfaction of seeing her furious red cheeks and etched scowl.

"Not even in your dreams, Anthony," he grumbled to himself in a low voice, kicking rocks as he strolled along the path a few feet behind both Julian and Claire.

Julian nudged Claire in the side with care, knocking shoulders along the way. He offered her a weak smile, bedhead flowing in the harsh breeze. "Hey, what's up, Claire? You're usually all about pep rallies." He leaned in to where not even an iota of space separating their faces. Wisps of her blunt bob slapping him in the face. "Remember what happened last year?"

Scott scoffed, wedging his cigarette tighter between his pale, flesh tinted lips.

Claire giggled, her cheeks flushed a deeper red than the scarlet shade from their Christmas-like school spirit colors.

A tap rang out against Scott's shoulders. His piercing eyes caught sight of a wary senior with mousy brown hair inching closer to him. "What are they talking about?"

Unsure of what to do, he shrugged, puffing smoke out of either side of his parted lips. "Who knows."

"You know," she continued on in a much more confident tone, removing her heavy parka to reveal the familiar two tone cheerleader uniform he saw a few moments prior. Only on Corrina.

"I'm surprised you haven't ditch yet." Blonde tips poked out around the edges of her round face, framing her face. Her scarlet nails performing a walk of shame from his wrist up to his bicep. "It's like common knowledge around here Scott Thomas doesn't do school sanctioned anything. Except for sex in the broom closet every once in awhile."

The flame at the edge of his now half smoked cigarette kindled deep in his gut. His skin flared up under her touch. Only, an unwelcome flame. Similar to that of a stinging oven burn he never asked for nor ever wanted. He shook his arm away from her reach, picking up his pace further towards the football field, almost in pace with the "demonic duo."

Something about her rewound the gears in his mind. Despite the unusual, bad feeling he felt in his gut about her, she had a point. This wasn't like him. He didn't go to pep rallies. Hell, he barely attended his own classes. And the last thing he wanted was to explain himself to Julian or have the government know he complied with their sanctioned "fun."

"I'm getting credit for being here," he grunted out, flicking his burnt out cigarette to his side before hustling away from the crime scene.

Leaving a huffing girl in the dust.

☆●●☆

For the rest of the journey towards the football field, Claire couldn't keep her mind off of two people, Julian and Corrina.

It angered her that the violet haired rebel could just waltz back into town after all these years and have everyone fall at her feet. Matthew did on first glance. Scott did the minute he saw her. Even Julian kept bringing her up in conversations almost immediately after she re-entered their lives. Don't even get her started on her instant friendship with Heather or the fact it seemed like even Serena wanted to get to know the girl better.

No one mentioned her anymore.

Julian didn't act like someone drained his brain of all knowledge whenever they talked anymore. Instead, he went out on a date with Karen Sardeski. Some say he hooked up with Matilda Warren behind the bleachers. Even when they hung out in the basement something felt off.

And Claire Anthony despised it with every bone in her body.

"I wonder where Burroughs went?" Julian asked as he kept his eyes trained on the path before him, careful not to bump into Reagan's back. Last thing he needed was a repeat of last year.

Julian shuddered at the thought.

He never did get his G.I. Joe underwear back from atop the school's flagpole.

Claire shrugged; her pale lips curled into a hidden gem of a frown. "I don't know." And I don't care.

A rock skipped down the beaten path, smacking into the front end of the small building in front of the bleachers. It bounced off the freshly painted "L" and trickled down the hill towards the parking lot where a beaten down El Camino stormed in like a bat out of hell.

No one paid it any mind.

Julian whistled in a chipper tune as he shuffled on in the frigid metal seating, taking on right in the middle of the section closest to the exit. A smile grew over his boyish features as his mind dazzled in the past, still hooked on the same subject from earlier. Much to the dismay of a region far south.

Claire followed suit, watching the menacing grey clouds as they threatened to wreck havoc on the pep rally. Well, it was havoc to anyone who wanted to be there. Groaning internally, she said a small prayer she hoped would be answered. Last thing she wanted was to be forced to cheer on two people she couldn't stand.

And Scott. He decided to take his own seat in the back row, away from the Demonic Duo, smoking a fresh cigarette. His third of the rally.

Little did they know, trouble brewed on the horizon.

Let the rally begin

☆●●☆

Corrina sighed to herself as she clenched her arms around her chest, shivering to herself. The sound of her teeth chattering calmed her a tad, but the sensation wouldn't last long. That she knew to be true.

To her right, Heather continued to tug down her Christmas lover style cheerleader top. Her eyes pooled in fear and anguish every time it flew back up from the waistband of her short skirt. Nature was bound and determined to screw the girl over.

Corrina nudged her in the side, pointing towards a grumbling Matilda Warren and her crony Jocelyn Danger. "Cut it out before the devil and her sidekick notice. You look radiant."

"She's positively glowing," a voice sneered in front of them through clenched teeth. Lips tainted a shade of red similar to the horns poking through her box blonde hair. Strands blew in the high winds behind her, not a single one out of place.

The devil herself, Matilda Warren.

The rebel stoner rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest before her fists did any real damage by her side. Icy stares cut into her skin, harsher than the wind ever did, but it proved easier to tune out. Though, the stupidity pouring through her porous mouth proved harder to.

"Can you shut your mouth for the first time in your life?" Corrina snapped back, cutting her eyes into the bitch's soul. "Some of us actually cherish the ability to hear."

Matilda rolled her eyes. Her sidekick stared down at her manicured nails, refusing to make contact like such an action was beneath her. Around their frame, the clouds darkened to new heights. A storm brewed around them. Like if nature truly knew the evils living deep in their manicured souls.

Right when a huff left the bottle blonde's lips, the principal's voice rang out around them, bouncing all around them.

"Guess that's our cue," Heather whispered, dragging Corrina away from the scene before it became a crime scene. Last thing she wanted was her close friend to be singing jailhouse rock instead of cheerleader cheers at their pep rally. "Let's go, Cor."

Corrina rolled her eyes, refusing to uncross her arms. But that didn't mean she didn't take the time to flick off the bitch.

And then Heather reached out and slapped the violet haired girl on her exposed bicep. Leaving a flaming red mark against her pale olive complexion. "What was that about? You don't want to mess with her."

Blank expression. That's all the younger teen got out of her.

With a curling smirk, the rebel shrugged her shoulders, the wind picking up all around them. "Who cares. She's just jealous coach made you captain over her entitled ass."

"But her father's the principal," Heather seethed through clenched teeth as both of them took their places in two lines on each side of the balding, intimidating man.

Her smirk only widened across her pale pink lips. "I don't care who produced her. She's still a bitch in and out. And I don't put up with bitches."

"And now all rise for a singing of the National anthem by our lovely choir," the principal shouted, motioning for each set of bleachers to rise in unison.

"Hold up!"

The band ceased. So did Principal Warren.

All eyes fell on a disheveled man climbing up the hill. Only a blue satin box visible in his hands from a great distance.

Heather's heart sunk in her chest.

It was Matthew Burroughs.

His chest heaved with heavy sighs. Lungs porous. Cheeks flushed from the heat. He got down on one knee, wavy the hand with the box in it around to regain his balance.

"Heather Ashley Swanson, will you marry me?"
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