shallowness: Sky High's Warren Peace smiling (Warren Peace smiles!)
[personal profile] shallowness posting in [community profile] skyhigh
Title: True Colors
Fandom: Sky High
Rating: PG
Characters/Pairings: Layla/Warren, Magenta/Zach, Ethan, Elizabeth (Freeze Girl), Magenta’s mom, Will/OFC
Summary: Ethan has organized a Christmas (fancy dress) party. Layla is determined that Warren will attend.

Disclaimer: None of the named characters are mine, and I make no profit from this fan-written fiction.
Author's Note: The first draft of this dates from Christmas Day 2010. Festive fluff. 2,779 words.


True Colors: shallowness



“So,” Magenta said, taking her usual seat at Layla’s side for their last lunch at school of the year. Warren didn’t even grimace at their presence at the table any more. “What are you wearing to the party?”

Warren grimaced.

“Can I at least have lunch without you talking about clothes?”

Magenta and Layla exchanged glances, testing who wanted to take it.

“You make it sound like we never talk about anything but clothes,” Layla said, plunging in. “I hope that’s not what you think, because there’s no evidence to back it up, which would mean that you’re tuning what we way and assuming that all we talk about is clothes, or, I don’t know, shoes, simply because we’re girls. Because that would be sexist. And wrong.”

Magenta had started eating as soon as she saw that Layla was going to put Warren to rights.

“Besides,” Layla continued, “haven’t you decided what you’re wearing to the party, Warren?”

Warren glared at Layla.

“It’s a fancy dress party. Everyone has to wear a costume.” Layla said, unmoved by the glare.

“Which is why I’m not going,” Warren replied.

“But Ethan wants us all to come. He put an invite in everyone’s locker.” At the mention of Ethan, Magenta looked around the cafeteria for the guys, in case they had got into trouble instead of following her from the till. She saw that they were all talking to seated classmates at different tables, probably about the party. Magenta thought about the three wise men and snickered.

“Why would I want to go?” Warren asked.

“To a party being held by one of your friends? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because it would be fun.” Layla said.

“I don’t do fun.”

“Powder your hair, find a really long white shirt and you can go as Ebenezer Scrooge,” Layla suggested. “So if what you were really secretly worried about was that you didn’t have a costume, I’ve solved your problem.”

“I’m not wearing a costume until I graduate.”

“Don’t tell me you never get tired of black and red.” Layla was wearing a striped sweater in festive green and red for once.

“Don’t you get tired of trying to brighten up everyone’s world, hippy?”

“Nope. Have you actually refused Ethan?” Layla leaned forward to examine Warren’s expression. “No, not even you could turn him down to his face, he’s so excited about this party. It’d mean a lot if you were there—“

“Being the life of the party?”

“I saw that chink, Mr Deadpan. I’ve seen you smile before. I know you can have fun, even at social gatherings. There’ll be music, non-alcoholic punch—“

“Wow. With that and the dressing up, it’s like you’ve described how I spend every Saturday night.”

“I’m going to the Paper Lantern tonight and I’m going to ask them to show me the roster.” Layla finally started eating her nut roast.

Warren made a derisory noise at her declaration, so once Layla had swallowed her food, she continued her attack.

“I’m practically their best customer. They’ll show it to me, and if I find you’ve swapped shifts so that you can’t go to Ethan’s party tomorrow night, I’ll—“

“What? Huff and puff?” Warren said with the certainty of someone who knew how to make credible threats. Magenta smirked.

“Tell them why you swapped shifts,” Layla retorted.

“Ouch. And Williams hits it out of the park!” Magenta crowed as Zach, Will and Ethan finally took their seats.

*


“So I never found out what you’re wearing to Ethan’s party.” Magenta said later, having pulled Layla to sit next to her on the bus. She’d ignored Zach’s pout – since Will and Layla had broken up, they didn’t sit together so much anymore, which meant that the girls sat together a lot, and Zach wanted to sit next to his girlfriend. Whatever. Magenta knew how she’d make it up to him.

“I have it down to a couple of ideas.” Layla said.

“That’s a couple more than I have.” Magenta admitted.

“Really? But you came up with such a great Halloween costume.”

“Which I can’t use again for this party. And...I’ve got nothing. I think my brain has given up out of exhaustion.”

“But there’s so many ways you could go. It doesn’t have to be festive! The only rule is—“

“No superhero costumes,” Magenta filled in with a grin. They’d seen Antmen, Commanders, Jetstreams and even one freaky Royal Pain walking around Maxville at Halloween. Ethan’s stipulation made total sense to every student at Sky High, the only people who were invited, despite all of Mr Boy’s special pleading.

“Right, you could go for a book character, historical figure, animal, vegetable or mineral. Actually, maybe not animal.”

“Hmm,” Magenta said.

“Got an idea?”

“Yeah. Thanks, I knew I’d get one if I talked to you.”

“But you have just over 24 hours. Is that enough time to make it?”

“Sure it is.” The girls grinned at each other as the driver yelled ‘All aboard’. They didn’t get much talking done on the last journey home of the year, as it was tradition to sing Jingle Bells with all-new verses as they flew through the sky.

*


Warren picked up the cell and switched it on without looking at the screen.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m getting dressed, hippy.”

“Actually, this is Elizabeth, Warren,” his ex said coldly.

“I’m sorry, I—“

“Thought I was Layla,” she said.

“Yeah,” he confirmed.

“I never thought we sounded that much alike,” she said. The chill in her voice made him remember all the times he’d seen her freeze stuff in seconds.

“I was expecting her to call.”

“Of course you were, it’s Saturday night.”

“It’s not like that. There’s a party—“ Warren sighed, exasperated. There was little use in explaining.

“I don’t want to interrupt whatever you have planned. I was just calling to say that I swapped with Jay so that you two will be working on the holiday project together, not us. I said I’d arrange it, and I did.”

“Oh, thanks,” Warren said. It had been unfortunate that Medulla had coupled them together when handing out the assignments yesterday at the end of the last lesson before the holidays. Lizzy had said through gritted teeth that she’d fix it, and Warren had believed her.

That had been their first conversation for weeks. It had been awkward after all the things that had been said when they broke up. Some of them had been fair, some of them hadn’t. Her words had been delivered like shards of ice, while he’d thrown back heated accusations. He wanted to take some of them back, but they still hung between them.

“You’re welcome. Enjoy your party.” Lizzy said and hung up.

“Merry Christmas,” Warren said sardonically, although the connection was gone.

*


“I’m regretting this,“ Will said to the unconvincing Santa Claus who stood next to him.

“Dressing up as Rudolph was your idea, man,” Santa Zach said.

“Yeah, but it was a bad idea. And I knew it, only you said you’d dress up as Santa Claus too, so I couldn’t back out.”

Santa shrugged his shoulders and pulled up his fake white beard.

“Just knock the door, bro. But not too hard.”

When Ethan opened his front door dressed in a loud shirt featuring palm trees, Bermuda shorts, flip flops and a lei, Santa and Rudolph exchanged glances.

“Isn’t this a Christmas party?” Zach asked.

“It’s a fancy dress Christmas party!” Ethan replied.

“So why are you dressed like it’s being held in Hawaii?” Will asked.

“It’s going to get pretty crowded, hopefully, so it’s going to get warm. You’d better have drinks in that sack, Santa.”

“Don’t get too excited, it’s soda,” Will told Ethan. “Courtesy of mom and dad.”

“As it’s Christmas, I’ll let you in anyway,” Ethan joked. “Now, let’s see if I can find you some milk and cookies.”

“Don’t forget hay for my reindeer friend here,” Zach said, striding into the party.

“Ho, ho, ho,” said Rudolph.

*


“Magenta—oh!” Magenta’s mom’s yell turned into a gasp as her daughter came down the stairs.

Magenta stared at her, a touch of defiance creeping into her stance.

“It’s too much, isn’t it? I knew it was too much.”

“No, it’s perfect.”

“I have gold spray paint, gold tinsel, a gold mask and the most ridiculous gold sandals on. What was I thinking? I knew it was too much. I’ve ruined a nice dress and I should—“

“Stop talking, get in the car, go to your friend’s party and have a blast,” Magenta’s mom said in the kind of voice that got evil-doers and teenage daughters to follow her orders.

“But Layla—“

“Just called. She said she was going over to Warren Peace’s place to make sure he turned up.”

A grin spread across Magenta’s face, beneath the fancy mask that covered her eyes.

“I’ll bet she did.”

*


The waiter stared at the sunflower.

The sunflower stared back at the waiter.

“Don’t give me that look. I washed my clothes,” Warren said.

“I sewed my outfit.”

“You win,“ he said. She was in some kind of green Lycra jumpsuit with stalks randomly sewed on and wore a head-band with yellow and orange material sticking up on it. The costume was obviously homemade, her hair was loose…and it was hard to stop staring at her.

“So, you didn’t trust me to come to the party, huh?” Warren said.

“You’ll be late.”

“So will you, sunflower.”

“Not by much. Can I store my bike—“

“Wait, what?”

“Can I store my bike here? Please?”

“That’s what I thought you said,” Warren stepped outside and saw a bike leaning on the outside of his house, with what looked like a blanket draped over the handlebars. “You cycled here? Dressed like that?”

“Yeah,” Layla said like there was nothing weird about cycling across Maxville dressed as a sunflower in December. “Well, I wore a poncho.”

Warren started to laugh.

“You’re amazing,” he said as he picked up the bike and carried it into the house.

“So you’ll give me a ride?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Warren replied, setting the bike down in the hallway. Layla stepped in after him. He gestured towards the poncho, and she shook her head, then started looking about her. She could see no decorations up, but didn’t comment upon it.

“Is your mom out?”

“Yeah.” From the way he answered her, Layla knew no more details would be forthcoming, so she changed the subject.

“You didn’t take up my Scrooge suggestion.”

“I thought about it and dedided I’d make a convincing waiter.”

“Oh, you do. So much that it’s a good thing we’re not going to the kind of party where they serve champagne and canapés.”

Warren rolled his eyes and stepped towards her. Layla froze until he gestured for her to move sideways. She scuttled to the side, feeling embarrassed as he picked up his keys from a shelf behind the door. Then he paused.

“Wait, you’re saying there’s going to be no champagne at this party?” he deadpanned.

“Nope, just non-alcoholic punch,” Layla said cheerfully, glad that he was covering up for that weird moment where she’d been an idiot.

“And music, and dancing and mistletoe. Remind me why I’m going again?”

“Because it’ll be fun. F-U-N.” Layla said, marching out into the night ahead of him.

“Yes, ma’m, Captain Sunflower,” he murmured, staying still for a second, the sway of her hips drawing his eyes towards her ass.

“C’mon, lock up, or we really will be so late that Ethan will start to think we’re not coming,” Layla called out, only noticing that he was dawdling.

*


Golden Magenta had extricated Santa Zach from a Friendly Christmas Elf, who was now playing with Rudolph’s red nose, while music blared and snowmen danced with tigers. Ethan had exchanged his lei for a paper chain, but was still the door-opener.

“Hey, you guys! You made it!” he greeted his latest guests with the same exuberance as he had shown the first.

“Yeah we did!” Layla said very brightly.

“Cool. It’s shaping up to be an excellent party. Just one thing, Layla,” and Ethan leaned forward as if he was going to impart great secrets.

“What?” Layla asked, trying to take in the party behind Ethan as well as what he had to say.

“The mistletoe’s plastic. Please don’t get mad.”

“Why should I get mad? I don’t care about mistletoe. Why is everyone obsessed with mistletoe?”

“No-one’s obsessed with mistletoe!” Warren said. “We came here for the Christmas cheer.”

“You did?” Ethan said, puzzled. He’d never used Warren use the word ‘cheer’ before and he was never sure from Warren’s delivery if he was making threats or not.

“Warren, that’s not a smile, that’s a grimace,” Layla, who was the best at deciphering Warren’s expressions, patted his arm, and then she squealed. “Look at Magenta! Isn’t that the coolest outfit!?”

Layla waved at her friend, who waved back and shimmied a little, before leading Santa to dance.

“That Father Christmas had better be Zach,” Layla said.

“Oh yeah, it is,” Ethan replied. “He called dibs. No-one else dared come dressed as Santa.”

“How could you not recognize him, anyway? No-one else we know dances that badly,” Warren said.

“C’mon, let’s follow their lead,” Layla exclaimed, partly because she wanted to, partly out of revenge. Ethan’s eyebrows raised as Warren…just followed Layla into the party and towards the dancers. The night looked like being more interesting than he’d expected.

“Hey, dude, close the door,” Coach Boomer’s spitting image yelled at Ethan.

*


“What are you doing on Christmas Day?” Magenta asked Zach in the kitchen. It was pretty empty, although the girl dressed as a tiger sat on the floor, eating tacos. She seemed happy enough.

Zach looked at Magenta with a particularly blank expression. He’d lost his fake beard a long time ago, while Magenta’s mask was decorating Ethan’s mantelpiece.

“It wasn’t a trick question, Mr Claus,” Magenta said. “I was just thinking that maybe you should make some time to come over to my house on the day.” His face still appeared blank, and she found herself playing with some gold tinsel that had come a little loose from her dress.

“Did I say how great you look tonight?” he asked, just as she’d started counting the number of tiles on the kitchen floor.

“Yeah,” she said, smiling. “Non-sequiteur much?”

“I’ll be there with bells on,“ he said fervently and she looked back up into his face.

“Oh, okay. Good.”

*


Layla was buzzing and she couldn’t blame it on the punch, because it probably was just a made up from a mix of fruit juices. Besides, she realized she’d been buzzing before tasting it. Since Warren had got in the car and driven her to the party, parked and stayed by her side. Since feeling his arms close about her, his breath on her hair. He was a great dancer, but she hadn’t felt safe in his arms. She’d expected his slightly raised body temperature, but not how aware she’d been of him, muscle and strength under the black t-shirt and pants she’d seen him wear dozens of times at the Paper Lantern.

And now he was standing next to her, half-smiling as he watched a girl in a white lab coat try to start a conga line, although Elvis was singing about heartbreak at Christmas. It was that kind of party. Layla tapped Warren’s cup of punch with her own to get his attention back to her.

“Admit it, you’re having fun,” she challenged.

He turned around to face her and gave her that rare full smile that went all the way up to his eyes, and this time there was no hiding from the shiver that ran through her.

“You too?” he asked.

She nodded, sure that she was blushing, but hoping that the party atmosphere explained it away.

But Warren looked up and Layla’s eyes followed him to see that they were standing pretty much directly under some plastic mistletoe. Her heart sounded louder in her ears than the music, as he’d been the one to walk them over here. Warren took half a step forward and leaned down. Layla lifted her arms up around his neck to bring him closer, wanting more of the punch-flavored kiss.

They parted for air a long time after Elvis had given way to Mariah, and Warren was smiling. Layla couldn’t stop smiling back.

“Merry Christmas,” she whispered. His answer was to slip his arm around her waist and kiss her again.


Fin.

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