shallowness: bright flowers in vase against green background (flowers that remind me of Layla)
[personal profile] shallowness
Title: Zach, He's Here To Help
Fandom: Sky High
Rating: PG
Characters/Pairing: Zach/Magenta
Category: Fluff
Word Count: 1,023
First Posted: November 2007

Summary: Magenta takes Zach into her confidence on the bus ride to school.

Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, and I make no profit from this fan fiction.

Notes: Big thanks to [personal profile] pyroblaze18 for the beta. Yes, the title comes from that French film, which I’ve never seen. No, this is not about how Zach is secretly a serial killer. I just thought it was funny.


Zach, He's Here To Help: shallowness


Zach tried to play it cool when Magenta came to sit by his side on the school bus. Even as his heart soared, a little voice told him that there had to be some reason for it that had nothing to do with him. Maybe there was a stink at the front of the bus. He couldn't help staring at her, though.

She looked… disturbed. Her hair was just done in a ponytail; her eyes were big and darting about like crazy fish in a bowl.

"Magenta, you okay?" he asked.

"I had a dream," she admitted gruffly.

"Nightmare?" Zach remembered a series of nightmares about giant robots, mechanoid spiders and traffic coming to get him, and he was powerless against them. He’d had them the summer before he first powered up. Then there were the dreams where Speed and Lash were in charge of school ‘security’, and were coming to get him. Sometimes, they threatened to drown Ethan, once, to hurt Magenta, who they’d tied up and knocked out so she couldn't transform and escape.

The real Magenta sighed and fidgeted with her bag, setting it down from her lap to her feet.

"Not a full-on nightmare, no. But it was…"

"Disturbing?" Zach offered, not noticing that the bus had stopped and that Will and Layla had come on. They exchanged amused glances as they passed Zach and Magenta to take an empty seat further back. Magenta hadn’t seen them either.

"Principal Powers came up to me, Layla and Freeze Girl at school and said that since Penny was in detention permanently, the school needed new cheerleaders. Emphasis on the plural, because no-one else has Penny's powers."

"Oh."

"Don't you get it? Me? Us? Cheerleaders!?"

As he'd only seen Magenta cheer sincerely about four times since he'd known her, and that was always because someone like Will had done something spectacular, Zach had to chuckle. "Okay, that’d knock the world off its axis."

"Exactly, but she wouldn't listen. So Freeze Girl iced her."

"Whoa!" Zach said.

Magenta wiggled in her seat, almost, but not quite, brushing against his leg.

"But Layla felt guilty, because you can't do that to the Principal, so she got Warren to thaw her out. Well, the Principal thought that meant that Layla and I wanted to do it. Be cheerleaders, that is. And even though I explained I'd rather dunk myself in a vat of toxic chemicals every day, she wouldn't listen.

"She started following us, to class, to the bathroom. If we ran, she ran too. Her eyes became kinda buggy. And then-" Magenta drew a breath.

"What? What?" Zach leaned forward. She sounded so worried. She looked at him, and they both realized, perhaps because they'd never seen each other this close, that his face was inches from hers and she could feel his breath on her cheek. He sat back in a hurry. Better that than she pushed him.

"So then Layla turned around and agreed to captain the cheerleading squad," Magenta said, speaking rapidly, which was okay with Zach because it meant she was ignoring his invasion of her personal space. Then he processed what she'd said.

"What?"

"Yeah, I know."

Layla was one of the most upbeat people Zach knew, but he'd never, ever, thought of her as a wannabe cheerleader. She'd probably have reasons she could only explain in big words for why she thought cheerleading was fascist. Magenta's dream was weird and creepy. They both sat still, Magenta reliving it and Zach imagining it.

They both shuddered.

"So now she and Principal Powers were after me, trying to recruit me into the cheerleading squad. Both with the same glint in their eyes."

"Like zombies."

She shivered, and Zach felt bad for saying that. "Except they weren't undead," he added.

"I tried to shape shift, I thought I could get into the air vents and they'd have to leave me alone," Magenta said in a low voice. “But I couldn't. So I ran. Then I was on a staircase, Principal Powers was coming down the steps and Layla was coming up. She was dressed like Penny and I-" her voice got breathy, "-woke up." She finished on a note of dread, not relief.

There was a moment's silence, but neither registered the joking and loud homework comparing going on around them.

"It must seem pretty stupid," Magenta said, not looking at him, not sounding anywhere near as confident as she did when she made her usual assertions about life, the universe and everything.

Honestly, Zach thought it might, if it hadn't upset Magenta so much. Anything that upset Magenta, he took seriously.

"I've had worse," she said, "I mean, after the school nearly crashed I—well, I've had worse."

"Hey, you dreamed that your best friend turned on you and you couldn't power up. Not to mention Principal Powers going psycho. That'd disturb anyone," he told her.

She gave him a cute little half-smile.

"When you put it like that…"

He smiled, encouraged.

"But you can't tell anyone. Not Layla and not… anyone."

"I won't," he said. She nodded curtly.

"The stupid thing is, and I've been thinking about this all morning, why did we have a cheerleader anyway? Apart from herself, what did Penny cheer for? We don't compete with any other school in anything - it wouldn't be fair if we did."

Zach chuckled, but said, "Even if you'd figured this out during the dream, I don't think it would have stopped Psycho Principal P."

"No, I guess not. Stupid dream."

And then, as quickly as she powered up, she leaned towards him and embraced him, pulling him a little forward towards her. It was very quick; as soon as she’d clasped her hands behind her neck, her cheek rested on his chest and her hair tickled his chin, she let him go. But he registered the soft, warm feel of her, a distinct, almost exotic smell that might be from her hair or a perfume. But before he could do anything else, Stan Leigh, replacement bus driver, had turned around.

"Buckle up!" he yelled. "Next stop: Sky High!"

Fin.

Feedback, including constructive criticism is loved.

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