Title: Snow Day
Summary: Wheeler remembers his last snow day.
Word Count: 1691
A/N: Well nothing quite like making it at the last minute, made even more last-minute-ier by my computer freezing up... Also this is totally last minute so it's un-beta'ed like whoa. D: Sorry...
Snow days were not common in Brooklyn. It had to be a pretty bad winter storm before anything shut down there. However Wheeler did remember a few times when the snow would be severe enough that school would be canceled. Most kids loved snow days, and the chance to stay home all day. Wheeler did not love snow days, though. They meant being trapped in his tiny apartment with his short-tempered father. As much as Wheeler disliked classes and homework, going to school was at least a temporary escape from his unpleasant home life.
The last snow day Wheeler had before joining the Planeteers occurred when he was fourteen. The storm had come the week before Christmas break was scheduled to start, and it had been so severe that it had literally paralyzed the city.
Wheeler woke up that morning to world that seemed to be nothing but white. As he stared out of his bedroom window into the snow covered city his mother came by his room to tell him that school had been cancelled.
Deciding to make the most of it, he had gotten back into bed and fell quickly back to sleep. He had been warm and comfortable beneath his blankets when he was interrupted by a sudden loud, angry noise.
“Just because school is closed doesn’t mean you can keep your lazy ass in bed all day!” his father yelled gruffly, banging on the door to Wheeler’s room.
“Whatever, fine, I’m getting up!” Wheeler yelled back, though he continued laying motionlessly in his bed.
It took several minutes for him to venture out from beneath his blankets into the cold, wintery air. His parents could barely afford heat, and he doubted that the heat even worked in this crummy apartment to begin with. Getting out of bed in the morning was always a struggle in the winter.
He quickly got dressed in a pair of well worn jeans and a sweater that was on the verge of being too small for him. He was growing quicker than his parents could afford to buy him new clothes.
He walked briskly through the living room, past his father who was sitting in his usual spot in the recliner in front of the television, a beer in hand though it was not even noon yet.
“Where are you going?” his father called after him.
“Out,” Wheeler responded brusquely, continuing on into the kitchen.
“Up to no good, I’ll bet!” his father yelled, though he did not bother getting up from his chair to stop him.
Wheeler fought the urge to yell something in response, and for once won the battle against his fiery temper. He opened the fridge and found it to be poorly stocked as usual. He pulled out a mostly empty carton of orange juice and chugged what little was left.
“There’s never any food in here,” he muttered as he slammed the fridge door shut.
“Well money’s a little tight right now,” he heard his mother say in her usual timid manner.
“Mom,” Wheeler said, spinning around to face her. “I didn’t know you were in here.”
“Well I was just about to start some lunch, for you and your father,” she answered.
Before Wheeler had a chance to respond he was interrupted by his father yelling for someone to bring him another beer. “That’s it. I’m outta here,” Wheeler said, grabbing his coat running out the door before his mother had a chance to protest.
He had no desire to hang around until his father got drunk, and judging by the rate the man was putting away beers that would not be too long. Though he really had nowhere else to go, he figured wandering the streets of Brooklyn was preferable to dealing with his father when he was intoxicated.
Wheeler strode down the sidewalk quickly, trying to brace himself against the frigid wind. He kept his head down, moving quickly, as if he had somewhere to be. He soon found himself lost in thought, thinking about his parents, feeling bad for leaving his mother to deal with his father alone. As he was mulling over whether he should return home or not, he rounded the corner and nearly collided with someone else.
As he tried to maneuver out of the way he lost his footing on the icy sidewalk and landed hard on the ground. He sat on the ground for a moment, stunned. Finally he looked up and saw a pretty blonde girl looking down at him, her eyebrow raised curiously. “Wheeler?”
“Uh… do I know you?” he asked, though he knew who she was, just not personally.
“Yeah we go to school together. I mean, we don’t hang out, but I know who you are. You’re always getting called to the principal’s office.”
“Heh… yeah…” Wheeler said sheepishly. He definitely had a reputation for being a trouble maker.
“I’m Trish,” she said pleasantly. “I figured you might as well know who I am too.”
“Yeah…” Wheeler said slowly, staring up at her admiringly.
Wheeler had developed a little crush on Trish over the years, though he had never admitted it to anyone. She had lived in the apartment building next to his for a few years now. He would see her at school, in the hallways or in the cafeteria, but he had never spoken to her. He figured she was too pretty to be interested in someone like him. Not only that, but she was a great artist, and he could not imagine someone with her kind of talent would want to hang out with a D level student.
“So are you gonna keep laying there in the snow all day, or what?” Trish asked finally.
Wheeler could not decide if she sounded annoyed or amused until he looked up at her and saw the sparkle in her deep brown eyes and the faint hint of a grin on her lips. He stood up quickly, brushing the snow off of his clothes. “It’s kinda cool not going to school, huh?” he asked, trying to think of something to say to strike up a conversation with her.
“Yeah, whatever I guess,” she said morosely, shoving her hands into her pockets and looking down at the ground.
Well so much for that idea, Wheeler thought unhappily. “So you like school then? I guess you would, I’m sure you make good grades unlike me.” He tried to smile a little at the self-deprecating remark, hoping it would ease the tension a little.
“My grades aren’t that great…” she muttered in response.
“Well you are a great artist,” Wheeler said, trying to say something to cheer her up. “I see your pictures at school. I could never do anything like that!”
Trish grinned a little. “Well I like art, but there are other people a lot better than me.”
“Oh come on,” Wheeler said. “You’re like… um… Picasso or something!” He really wasn’t sure who Picasso was, but it was the only artist’s name that he could think of so he figured it would have to do.
Trish giggled a little. “That’s not quite my style. But thanks though, I’m glad you like my pictures.”
Wheeler smiled brightly at her. “I do. So why are you out wandering around in the snow?”
“I just needed to get out for a while, you know. My Mom is… well, I love my Mom, but sometimes she has her moments.” Trish looked a little uncomfortable as she answered.
“Yeah, I know how that goes,” Wheeler replied, looking down at the ground and kicking at the snow a little. His sneaker was quite worn and he could feel the cold easily seeping through. “Is it just you and your Mom, then?”
“Yeah, my Dad skipped town years ago,” Trish replied unhappily, frowning a little at the thought. “It’s just me and Mom. She tries her best, but she... has some problems…” The way she left the sentence hanging gave Wheeler the impression she did not want to go into details.
“That sucks, dude,” Wheeler replied empathetically, not pushing her for more information. “My dad drinks. A lot. And he gets angry when he does.”
Trish nodded. “Sounds like we both have something in common then.” She tried to smile reassuringly but Wheeler could sense something sad in her gaze.
Wheeler was trying to think of something insightful to say in return when something cold and wet unexpectedly hit the back of his head. “What the heck?” he exclaimed, spinning around to see his friend Frankie grinning at him, brandishing another snowball, ready to attack.
“Hey man, no fair!” Wheeler exclaimed, bending over to grab a handful of snow to defend himself. Frankie laughed and lobbed the other snowball as Wheeler was bent over, hitting him in the head yet again.
Wheeler felt his face flush with anger and he was about to yell something obscene to his friend when he was interrupted by Trish’s giggling. Now his face flushed with embarrassment as he quickly bit back his vulgar remark, figuring that would not be the way to impress her.
He straightened up and flashed a huge grin at Trish. “Can you believe the nerve of some people?” he exclaimed with mock outrage as he tried to brush the remains of the snowballs out of his hair.
“Oh whatever, you deserve it!” Frankie retorted, quickly sprinting over to join Wheeler and Trish. “So you two hanging out now, or what?” he asked curiously, shifting his eyes between the two of them.
“No, uh, we just sorta… ran into each other…” Wheeler joked, causing Trish to groan a little at his humor.
“Okay, well, some of the boys are gonna go hang out at my cousin’s place. You two wanna come?” Frankie asked.
“Of course. Anything beats sitting around my apartment all day with my dad,” Wheeler answered enthusiastically. He smiled at Trish. “Whaddya say? Wanna come hang out?”
She smiled back. “Sounds great,” she replied.
As she slipped her hand in his and they followed Frankie down the icy sidewalk, Wheeler realized that perhaps snow days weren’t so bad after all.