The Science Project

Asher is a typical high school student- aside from being two years ahead in science. Although he may lack the skills to write a five page paper on some dead author guy, Asher is one of the leading science wiz-kids in all of high school- and he has quite the reputation because of it. However, Asher's motivation for staying ahead in his classes extends far beyond simply enjoying science.

And that motivation has a name.

Mathew Owens.

Mathew is the typical bad boy, and although he is constantly teasing Asher and his friends, he can't hep being head over heals or Mathew's brilliant smile. And now that Asher finally has the chance to get close to Mathew by rigging the "randomized" groups for the annual science fair project, he makes it his mission to find a way to get closer to Mathew and confess his feelings once and for all.

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7. Chapter 6: The Secret to Happiness (Stuff and Cats)

Chapter 6: The Secret to Happiness (Stuff and Cats)

MATTHEW

    His apartment was nothing special. Ok, so it was cleaner than mine. More organized than mine. Generally better than mine. But he probably didn’t have a drunk lazy bitch making mess after mess and never cleaning. I looked around curiously, shoving my hands in my pockets and not saying anything. Actually, he didn’t have all that much stuff. It was a pretty minimalistic approach- he only had what he needed.

    There was a couch, a little coffee table, TV, blue rug, a mostly-empty bookshelf, a kitchen with hardly anything in it- a fridge, stove, oven, some utensils- and two doors- probably leading to the bathroom and bedroom. My apartment was pretty much covered in stuff- and cats. In my defence, stuff and cats are definitely known to be the secret to lifelong happiness. I’m sure it’s proven. Somewhere… Yeah, ok, we probably needed to downsize, big time.

    “M-Make yourself at home…” Asher stammered, taking off his sweater and hanging it on the previously-empty coat hanger by the front door. I glanced over just in time to see his tomato red face before he turned and scampered off to the kitchen. What was he so embarrassed for? “Want something to drink? I have water, juice, some soda… oh, maybe I’m out of juice… um…”

    I shrugged. “Nah. Let’s just get this science thing over with. I’ve got bigger and better things to do.” I walked over to the bookshelf and inspected it a little, pretending to be interested even though all I really wanted to do was get the hell out of there. Ok, so Asher wasn’t the worst person in the world, but I wasn’t exactly a people person.

    I heard a little huff behind me. “You could at least pretend to be interested.” Asher grumbled, slamming the fridge door. I rolled my eyes. Oh, so he was going to throw a little temper tantrum? What were we, seven? Seriously, this wasn’t the elementary school playground, and I didn’t take his ball.

    “Well, I’m not interested.” I said hotly, turning on my heals and crossing my arms definitely. What did he expect from me, anyway? He acted like it was fate that we ended up partnered or something. Like every moment in our lives lead to us working on the project together. “I told you before. Science really isn’t my thing.”

    “Well then what is your thing.” Asher put air quotes around the word “thing.” Was he seriously mocking me? Rude.

    I sighed, running my fingers through my hair. “Mechanics, I guess. I work at my uncle's auto shop.” I said honestly, feeling the urge to throw up. Ick. I just shared something about myself. Gross. I didn’t even know why. Maybe it was because Asher was so annoying, I knew he would keep bugging me until I gave an honest answer?

    Asher's face brightened, his eyes glistening like stars. He was from 0 to 100 in half a second. Just what was with that kid? “Really? That’s so cool! I’ve always wanted to build things, but I’m really only good at the science part. Actually, science is probably my only talent.” He blushed a little, growing a bit bashful.

    I smirked, letting out a little chuckle. Ok, I admit, he’s a brat, but he’s a cute brat. Damn him. “Well, I’m only good at building things, so don’t feel too bad about being a man of one talent.”

    Asher giggled, getting himself a glass of water from the tap. “I guess I shouldn’t.” His face lit up again, and he turned to face me swiftly, grinning like a madman. “I have an idea for our project!”

    I raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Do share.”

    “We should build something! Like a model rocket!” He exclaimed, hopping a little as he announced his big plan.

    “A model rocket? That’s… A little ambitions, don't you think?”I didn’t want to shoot down his idea write away, but he was the smart one. There was no way I could pull something like that off.

    Asher shook his head. “No way, think about it! I want to work for NASA, and, you know, build the actual rockets, so I know a lot about it. And you’re good at building things, so I can do all the coding and designing, and you can put it together!”

    I blinked slowly, letting that all sink in. “That’s… actually not a terrible idea. I might be able to get some scrap metal from my uncle’s shop, so we could use that. And I have all the right tools, since that’s where I work…” It actually sounded doable. “Wait, you want to work for NASA?”

    Asher blushed, shifting on his feet a little awkwardly. “W-Well yeah… I’ve always really liked science, and when I was a kid, I used to sit at my  bedroom window looking up at the stars and wish that a star would come down and take me far away…” He rubbed the back of his neck a little. “Pretty stupid, huh?”

    “Stupid? No way! I think it’s cool. I never thought about shit like that when I was a kid. I’ve always been boring.”

    “I don’t think you’re boring!” Asher chimed in almost instantly. I felt my face redden with his, and an awkward silence fell over the room for a few minutes. Well, that was a first. Most people who didn’t think I was boring thought I was mean or cruel, but Asher didn’t seem to be afraid of me, so that was also a first. Kid had problems. That was the only logical explanation.

    I cleared my throat, trying to lift the awkwardness in the room. “Right, well, we should get to work, shouldn’t we?”

    Ahser nodded timidly, shifting a little on his feet. “R-Right. We should start with the design. Can you grab my sketchbook? It’s on the bookshelf. I’m just going to uh… Run to the bathroom…” Asher scurried into what I could only assume to be the bathroom.

    I shook my head a little. I was probably never going to be able to understand that boy. But that was ok. I mean, it wasn’t like we were going to hang out after finishing the project. I was graduating (hopefully) and it wasn’t like we ran in the same social circles either. Asher was just another schoolyard crush- a crush that was, as far as I could tell, unrequited. So there was no reason to get all worked up about it.

    I went over to the bookshelf, peering at the different titles as I tried to find the sketchbook at requested. After a few minutes of looking, I finally spotted a leather bound book with “SKETCH” embroidered on the side in silver lettering. I plucked it from the bookshelf and flipped it around in my hands a few times. I couldn’t help but wonder just what it was he had in there. Maybe he had designs for other things? He did say that he wanted to work for NASA. He probably designed stuff all the time.

    Maybe I could just take a peek…

    I shook my head. That probably wouldn’t be a good idea. I hadn’t asked, and it could be personal. I didn’t want to risk angering him the very first time we actually hung out just the two of us. I set the book down on the coffee table and flopped onto the couch, intending to wait for Asher’s return.

    I swear, that sketchbook had eyes, and it was staring right at me.

    My leg bounced annoyingly as I tried to ignore the temptation to pick up the sketchbook and flip through it. I wasn’t normally one to ignore temptation- that was probably obvious, considering my reputation- but it seemed right. Or, maybe it wasn’t. Literally, the curiosity was eating me alive!

    Ok, fine, one look.

    I swiped the sketchbook off the table and opened it up, flipping through the blank pages until I finally found one with content. My eyes widened. Ok, it definitely wasn’t a rocket or anything. It was… Well, it was me. There was no mistaking it. It looked like a photograph- but not one I had ever taken before. I was sitting under a tree, a novel in my hands. I actually remembered that day. A bunch of my friends had decided to skip, but I had too many detentions as it was so I decided to stay behind. I hadn’t even realized that anyone was watching me, let alone drawing me.

    The bathroom door swung open, and my head snapped up. “Sorry about that, now let’s get started on- Why are you looking at that?” Asher nearly shrieked the last part, and I flinched a little at the sound of it. Whoops. Caught in the act. Asher ran over and took the book out of my hands, his entire face redder than Mars.

    “Wait, I wanted to look at it more!” I protested.

    “Why? They are just stupid little sketches. I’m not any good, I just do it sometimes to pass the time. Keep me busy…”

    “Are you kidding? Asher, those are amazing! And you said your only talent is science.” I was honestly blown away. Yeah, maybe it was a little creepy that he was drawing me without permission, but it wasn’t like he was profiting off of it. Besides, I liked it. It looked really awesome, so I wasn’t going to complain.

    Asher looked up timidly, half-hiding behind the sketchbook itself. “Y-You really think so?”

    “Hell yeah I do. I don’t say anything I don’t mean. You know me.” I shrugged, showing my hands into my pockets.

    Asher blushed. “W-Well in that case… Thanks I guess. I’ve never shown my art to anyone, so… It’s nice to have a positive reaction the first time.”

    “Really? Not to anyone?” My eyes widened a little in surprise.

    Asher shook his head. “Nope. Not even Amy.”

    I couldn’t help but smirk a little. Well what do you know? Guess I knew something about Asher no one else did. It was kind of stupid, but that made me happy. “Well, in that case, I am honored to be the first.” I gave him a little dorky bow, and thankfully, Asher laughed in amusement.

    “Ok, now it’s really time to get to work.” Asher said, taking a seat on the couch.

    I smiled a little. Ok, so maybe the whole science project thing wasn’t going to be so terrible after all. “Yeah. Let’s get to work.”

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