Chapter 4 - Creep (Radiohead ; 1992)

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"Ryan, this is absolutely incredible," Mr. Way says as he studies my drawing of Brendon that I made in his studio yesterday. "This penmanship is remarkable, and the way you used your shading techniques is more than outstanding. Where did you get the idea to do this?"

"W-Well," I started slowly, avoiding his eyes as I spoke, "he's going to be our m-model for the next eight weeks right? I f-figured I would get as much p-practice in as I could, and hopefully m-maybe get some e-extra credit for the assignment."

I've never been good at speaking to people, even people like Mr. Way that I was completely comfortable with. Speaking just wasn't my thing. I felt more comfortable attaching lead to canvas than I ever will exchanging actual words with people.

"Ryan," he said gently, setting my drawing to the side and sitting on the edge of his desk as he faced me, "you're the last person that should be trying to get extra credit in this class. You have a higher grade than any student in all four of my classes, why do you think you need extra credit?"

I shuffled my feet slightly, staring at the tile floor and tightening my grip on my bag strap anxiously. "Y-You said you're having an art critic come in to evaluate you s-students," I explained quietly. "I w-want him to think I'm g-good."

Mr. Way nodded his head in understanding, slowly twisting his hands together. "Ryan, you know you're good," he said in a praising tone. "You're more than good, you don't need an art critic to validate your talent."

I nodded my head softly, letting his words sink in. I have always had a constant need to feel validated for everything I've ever done, and this was no exception. I chose not to speak again as students started filing into the room, meaning class was about to start. I smiled at Mr. Way appreciatively before heading over to my easel and setting my things, preparing my station.

Everyone piled into the room one by one, and finally every easel was filled, the only empty seat being the stool in the middle of the room. Not more than a second after making that observation, the door opened to reveal the occupant of the seat as he rushed to Mr. Way's desk.

"I'm so sorry if I'm late," I heard him rush out breathlessly. "The music building is almost all the way across campus, and I had to run, and I--"

"Brendon," Mr. Way said, calmly shushing him, "you're not late at all, don't worry. You're actually right on time."

Brendon nodded vigorously, breathing out in relief as he made his way to his stool in the center of the room. He looked in my direction, causing my eyes to immediately fly to the floor. I heard the slight shuffling of my classmates arranging their stations before Mr. Way's voice broke through the chatter.

"Class," he said, clapping his hands together. "Today's assignment was inspired by your own classmate Mr. Ross."

My head shot up at the mention of my name, and my cheeks immediately flared up as I made eye contact with Brendon, reading the confusion on his face.

"I want you to draw our model here as a distinct part of nature," Mr. Way explained. "But, use only his face. Draw him incorporated into a raging river, a wild forest fire, maybe even a lightening storm." He then picked up my sketch and held it up in front of the class. "This is Mr. Ross' work that has inspired this assignment. I don't want any duplicate projects, so everyone choose their own piece of nature or natural phenomenon to create out of Mr. Urie here."

As Mr. Way showed my picture around to the class, I heard a few murmurs spread around the room, and almost all of the comments were positive ones on how good they thought my picture was.

But, there always had to be a spot of negativity in every case.

"Mr. Way," I heard a girl from the other side of the room speak up, "I don't think Ryan should be allowed to have that counted for a grade."

All of the class turned towards her, and Mr. Way shot up an eyebrow. "And why is that, Mrs. Vanek?"

"Well," she started slowly yet confidently, "I mean, he already has a super high grade in this class, and it wouldn't be fair to the other students for his grades to be surpassing ours by more than two hundred points. Also," she said, disgust evident in her voice and on her face, "don't you think it's a bit creepy that he drew this outstanding portrait of Brendon when he didn't have to for any reason?"

More quiet murmurs broke out in the room, their negative auras finding their way to me faster than sound as I felt my face heat up and tears gather in the corners of my eyes. "Now, Mrs. Vanek," Mr. Way said sternly, "that negative behavior in intolerable in this class, and I am more than certain that you're aware of that. I suggest you apologize to Mr. Ross before I ask you to remove yourself from my classroom."

"Really?" She said, shock and anger lacing her voice. "I'm going to get in trouble just because I pointed out that Ryan seems to be obsessed with Brendon?"

I couldn't do it. I shot off of my easel, causing it to slide a few inches back before erupting into a full sprint directly out of the classroom. I ignored the calls of my name as I ran, not really having any plan of where exactly I was going. I found myself stumbling out of the northwest exit, running until I reached the middle of the courtyard. I let my tears fall freely as I tried to catch my breath, falling to my knees in the grass that was still drenched from yesterday's rain.

I rested my face in my hands as I sobbed quietly. This always happens when I begin to gain a sense of confidence in myself. Someone has to go and ruin it with just a few negative words at my expense. I was so caught up in my thoughts and my own sorrow that I let out a small squeal of shock when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I jumped away from the contact, nearly falling on my ass I looked up to see who my intruder was.

"S-Sorry," his smokey voice said quietly. "I s-shouldn't have scared you like that. I just .. I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

I looked up into his chocolate brown eyes with awe and confusion. He was speaking to me. I nodded softly, standing up slowly, brushing the front of my knees before meeting his eyes with my own. "I'm f-fine," I choked out, my voice thick with emotion.

He looked extremely skeptical of my declaration, but thankfully dropped the subject. "That girl in there," he said, pointing his thumb in the direction that we came, "Mr. Way kicked her out and sent her to the dean's office. That was bullshit what she said about you."

I looked at him in an odd way, somewhat expecting him to say something about her accusation of being obsessed with him. "T-Thanks," I mumbled quietly.

He nodded gently, rubbing his arms nervously. "I don't think it's weird that you made that sketch of me," he said softly, catching my full attention.

"Y-You don't?"

"No," he said, letting out a breathy laugh. "I thought it was amazing. Beautiful, actually."

I felt my cheeks heat up as I cast my eyes down to my feet anxiously. "Y-You don't think I'm obsessed with you?"

I looked up to see him shrug softly. "So what if you are?" He gave me a small smile, his eyes casting down to his own feet. "If anything," he mumbled softly, "I'm flattered."

I felt myself smile bashfully, my eyes stuck on my feet.

I, Ryan Ross, have flattered Brendon Urie.

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