Laynie was the first to wake on Monday morning, listening to JARVIS repeatedly ask her to get up.
"JARVIS?" She looked over at her clock. It read 6:31. "What are you doing?"
"Good morning Miss Combs, it is Monday, you will be late for your first day back at school if you do not get up."
"Crap!" she shouted, rolling out of bed. "Crap, crap, crap!" She threw open the door and ran across the hall into Carter's room, pushing aside the blanket Pepper had tacked up as a makeshift door. She shoved her friend on the shoulder a few times, shouting when she cracked an eye open, "Carter, it's Monday!"
"Your point being?" Carter asked tiredly.
"We go back to school today!"
Carter's eyes were wide open now. "Crap! Our teachers will kill us if we're late the first day back!"
"Basically! Get up, get up!"
She threw back the covers of her bed and shoved Laynie out of the room.
Laynie called to JARVIS, "What time does the bus come around?"
"The bus does not come by this way, I believe Miss Potts had intentions of driving you," the British AI answered.
"Ah man," she muttered, scouring the room for clothes.
Laynie and Carter were barely ready in time, and still had to locate Pepper. It turned out that she had been called into a meeting, and Steve was the only other Avenger available.
Both girls burst into the living area, Carter still pulling on her shoes while trying to walk. "Laynie slow down!"
"Are you two okay?" Steve asked.
Carter and Laynie were about to the elevator. "We're late for school." Carter answered quickly.
"I can drive you," he offered politely.
"Yes!" Laynie shouted, cutting off her unreasonable friend. "That would be great, Mr. Rogers."
Carter slapped a hand to her face in exasperation. "Fine, but we've got to go now!" She gestured to the elevator.
Steve jumped up from his chair, following the two girls. As they walked through the lobby of the tower, Laynie cautiously approached him.
"Um, sir, you do know how to drive, right?"
He gave her a look. "I'm not that old."
Carter scoffed at her friend's naive question. "Nice Laynie."
"It was a valid question," she hissed.
Steve led them to his car. "You go to Midtown High, right?"
"Yes," Carter answered, slipping into the backseat behind Laynie.
The girls were sure that he exceeded the speed limit by over twenty miles the entire time. Laynie attempted to reassure him that they weren't that late, but he insisted they were fine.
He stopped suddenly in front of the school. Carter threw open the door, obviously happy that the car ride was over. Laynie was quick to get out after.
"Oh my gosh, he's more insane than I thought," Laynie whispered to her friend as they walked into the school. "But at least we're on time."
Carter nodded in agreement. "Yeah... Well, I've got to get to homeroom. See you later?"
The friends met later on as promised, sitting together during lunch.
"How was it?" Carter asked.
"Eh. Just like I remember. Maybe a little more dull." Laynie put her head on the table. "I don't wanna be here," she moaned.
Carter shrugged. "It'll get better. I'm sure."
"Did you hear about Carter Beckett's parents?" The two heard someone whisper from another table. They must not have known the girl they gossiped about sat so close.
"Yeah, I heard they died in a car crash or something."
"It's sad. I mean, as if she didn't have enough problems..."
Laynie tapped her friend's hand. "Don't listen to them. You should know better by now, it's all just gossip. Stupid teenagers being stupid."
Carter threw her sandwich back onto her plate. "I just don't see how it's any of their business." She stood and went to throw away her food. Walking past Laynie she said, "I'm not hungry anymore."
Laynie sighed. Carter had always let other people get to her far too much. And Laynie could only filter so much of it for her. "At least sit with me while I finish eating?"
Turning around to answer Laynie, Carter bumped into someone.
Carter stepped and found it to be none other Tammy Simpson. I am not in the mood to deal with this girl today. She thought, inwardly groaning.
"Oh look who it is." Tammy said mockingly, "Didn't expect you to be back so soon. I thought you would still be out of school after the breakdown you had."
The day word got to the girls about their parents death, they were at school. Neither had taken it well, but Carter least of all.
It pained Laynie to remain where she sat and watch, but on previous occasions similar to this, she'd only ended up getting Carter into more trouble with the bullies when she stepped in.
"I'm really not in the mood Tammy." Carter growled.
Tammy smirked. "I'm a bit jealous of your parents, at least they don't have to look at you anymore. The rest of us aren't so lucky."
Laynie saw the look on Carter's face. "Carter, don't-"
She was cut off by Carter punching the girl in the face. "Shut up!"
The whole cafeteria went silent.
"Carter, walk away," Laynie ordered.
She ignored the order and looked down at the teenage girl sprawled out of the floor, a bewildered expression on her face. "You don't know me, you didn't know my parents. So just shut up," Carter ground out.
Tammy, who obviously hadn't learned her lesson, said, "I have to wonder if your parents really died or just abandoned you, who would want a daughter like you?!" she shouted at Carter.
Before Carter could bring down her fist again, Laynie had a grip on her elbow. "Carter, she is not worth it." The words were directed to her friend, but she sneered at Tammy the entire time she spoke. "She's just a lowlife who can't find a way to entertain her small brain without making other people feel bad."
Carter took a deep breath, composing herself. "You're right."
She looked down at Tammy and grudgingly held out a hand to help her up. The girl took her hand, just as grudgingly. As Carter was pulling her up, she punched Carter and sent both of them tumbling to the ground.
Laynie shouted at Tammy, trying desperately to drag the girls off of each other and failing. Soon enough, a teacher came and broke up the fight, ordering all three of the girls to the principal's office.
Carter was leaning on Laynie for support as all three girls were escorted to the principal's office by a teacher. "Thanks Layn."
She sighed. "You're welcome."
Once school was over the girls found Pepper waiting outside.
"I'm so sorry about this morning, girls. It won't happen again. I'm just glad Steve was able to drive you," she said as they got into the back of the car. She turned in her seat and was faced with a very battered Carter and tired-looking Laynie. "Oh... Goodness, what happened to you two?"
"Laynie accidently hit me in the face with her locker. She didn't know that I was so close." Carter lied, before Laynie would try to stutter through a lame excuse.
Pepper coughed, obviously trying to hide a laugh. "Well, be more careful."
Both friends gave each other a look of relief as the woman seemed to believe the lie.
The last of the day was pretty uneventful. They ate a take-out dinner with the rest of the Avengers and all retreated to their spaces afterward. Carter and Laynie finished their homework around nine, sitting in Carter's room behind her newly installed door.
"It's nice to have a door again." Carter mused, holding an ice pack to her sore eye.
"Hm, if only you could see it better."
Carter looked over to Laynie and grinned. "Do I resemble Director Fury?"
"Oh yes, the resemblance is remarkable."
They both laughed.
"So, the principal did say that if I got into another fight this week I'd be serving Saturday detention for the next three weeks, right?" Carter asked Laynie.
"Yeah," she answered quietly. "And I would really like it if you wouldn't get into another fight."
"I'll try not to. But, no promises." Carter said honestly, "You know how much Tammy and her moronic friends like to antagonize me."
"You don't have to acknowledge them at all, you could just pretend like they don't exist. Carter, you know how much I hate it when you get into fights."
"I know, I know. Sometimes, I just can't help it." Carter frowned.
Laynie made an aggravated noise, pulling herself up so she could see her friend over the edge of the bed. "You have to try! It's called willpower."
"That's easy for you to say, you're not the one who's normally the target of the jokes and gossip. For the most part, they leave you alone."
"That's because I ignore them," she deadpanned. "If you just stopped encouraging them, you would have it a lot easier. The reason Tammy still made fun of you after you hit her was because she wanted to see her words get to you. If you had just walked away, she might have called you a couple of names, yeah, but now you look like an easy target." Laynie laid back across the floor. "That's all."
Carter sighed. "Look, can we try and conquer one problem at a time? I'm really trying to get along with the people here. It's hard enough without trying to ignore Tammy as well."