Spencer Reid loved learning, but, as a twelve-year-old high school senior, he could say with every fiber of his being that he hated school.
"Come on, Einstein; just say you'll help us out, and then we'll leave you alone for the rest of the school year. We just want a little help… Doing four sets of homework should be easy for such a brainiac like you!"
You want to cheat! Spencer's mind screamed the words that he didn't dare voice to the three – these three top reasons why he hated school. These same three guys – Benjamin, Phillip, and Tobias – were his main three tormenters. Sure, the 99.999% of the other students liked to pick on him from time to time – that or they just ignored him – but these three football players absolutely lived to make Spencer's life a little more of a living hell every day. Before long another student or two would probably be joining their ranks, a lower-classman who was eager to fit in with these "cool" seniors.
Oh look, here came a freshman now. Blonde, blue-eyed, female, straight from soccer practice since she was still wearing her uniform and carrying a soccer ball under her arm, the girl… wait a second, he recognized that girl. That was Jennifer Jareau, one of the .001% of the student population who didn't seem to understand that trying to make friends with him was equivalent to social suicide. She was the girl who stirred up the feeling of butterflies in his stomach, the good kind of butterflies that he hadn't even known existed before he had met her.
She was glaring at the guys who currently had Spencer surrounded. He was being backed up further and further against a wall as the trio of athletes formed a semi-circle around him, too focused on their prey to notice a lowly freshman stalking towards the scene of the crime.
As Spencer watched her out of the corner of his eye, she suddenly stopped within a couple of yards of them and lowered her ball onto the ground, aiming with a precise, practiced eye at Tobias, the boy that they all knew was the leader of this motley crew. And she kicked the soccer ball straight into the back of Tobias's head.
The boy grunted as all three of them whirled to face this intruder.
"Hey," she demanded, "leave him alone!"
"What the h***!" Tobias screamed at her. "Get lost!"
"If I were you, I'd take your own advice; I just saw Mr. Hodge getting ready to come around the corner. You wouldn't want the principal to see this sort of behavior from her star football players, now would you?"
"Snitch," Benjamin snarled, while Tobias chose to call her something that rhymed with Benjamin's sentiment but carried a little more potency.
But Jennifer was right about none of them wanting to get caught in the act, so they all scattered, abandoning Spencer with his back literally against the wall. After watching the three boys stalk away, Jennifer came over to Spencer and scooped her soccer ball up off the ground while he grabbed his backpack.
Upon straightening up, she looked him in the eye and asked, "What was that all about?"
He slung his backpack over his shoulder, answering only, "Homework."
"I take it that they didn't like whatever answer you gave them?"
"Actually, they didn't like that I wouldn't give them all of the answers, if you know what I mean."
Jennifer snorted. "Yeah; sounds like they're some real jerks."
"That's one of the nicer words for them," Spencer agreed before inferring, "So, I haven't seen the principal come by yet."
"Oh," she shrugged. "He never was coming; I made that up."
Spencer's eyes widened. "Well then, thanks for your help, but, Jennifer, when they figure that out, they're going to kill you!"
"Nah," Jennifer shrugged again. "And hey, call me JJ; all of my friends do."
Spencer shook his head, wishing that she would just get the picture already and walk away for her own safety. "You don't want to be friends with me."
She took a step closer, saying, "Sure I do."
"No, you don't," Spencer argued. "Not if you want to retain any semblance of a social life."
He goes to walk away from her, but she steps up, walking along beside him. She doesn't seem to get the picture that it would be better for her if she weren't seen with him.
"Social life with the likes of who? Tobias and his goons? No, thanks; I think I might have to choose social isolation over that."
Spencer shook his head; she didn't know what she was saying.
Realizing that she was going to follow him all the way off of the campus if he didn't say anything, he stopped in his tracks and turned to her. "Listen, JJ, thanks for your help back there, but you're a really nice girl and I don't want you to be associated with me. That would just bring you trouble."
JJ smiled at him, the sort of smile that said in a kindly-meant way, You really don't get it do you?
No, he did not understand whatever was going through her head. Considering the fact that she was a girl, he was fairly certain that he may not want to understand it. But a small part of him thought, and maybe even hoped, that he did understand what she wanted.
But surely not… After all, he was only twelve years old – that was a big difference to her fifteen years. And he was the school freak!
Even his brain with an IQ of 187 didn't seem to understand this, since the butterflies had returned to his stomach and were flying around in full swing.
"You're not going to go away, are you?" he asked with a small frown.
"Nope," JJ said, her grin widening until it spilled over into her big, pretty blue eyes.
He sighed, asking, "So what can I do for you then? What do you want? Help on your homework?"
She opened her mouth to answer, paused, and seemed to change her mind before replying, "Well, maybe, I don't know… Chemistry? At my house?"
Her tone had changed to one that Spencer didn't quite know what to do with, but in a weird way liked all the same. Since he didn't know what to say, he said the only thing that came to mind.
"I thought freshman didn't take chemistry."
He saw JJ bight back a laugh as she replied, "Well, between the two of us, I think we've got plenty of it."
Now Spencer was really confused. His eyebrows drew together as he said, "But I've already advanced beyond chem."
He saw her bite the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing, but he didn't know why.
"You're cute, you know that, Spence?"
He smiled at the ground, suddenly feeling tongue-tied. "Thanks; you're… you look nice too."
Here she did laugh. "I just came from soccer practice; that means that I'm hot, sweaty, and a general mess. If you want to come to my house later tonight, though, I promise I'd look presentable then. And I've got a feeling I could teach you a thing or two about that chemistry that I was talking about."
JJ made him nervous, especially when she was acting this way – like she was trying to flirt with him, except he didn't know how to keep up his side of it, no matter how much he wanted to. But still, one of the prettiest girls he could think of was asking him to visit to her house, and he wasn't idiotic enough to say no, despite all of her cryptic "chemistry" talk. And it wasn't like his mom was likely to notice if he left the house for a couple of hours.
He nodded. "Okay."
JJ's smile widened as she bounced up on her toes for a second. "Great! Come by at five?"
"Alright. I'll see you then."
She leaned forward and pecked him on the cheek before wheeling away and jogging towards the front of the school. And there it was between them, quick and scary as anything. That's when it finally dawned on Spencer what she had meant.
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