The Art of Love

Summary: Rattles has a huge crush on Sue Ellen. They have an art class together that lets him see her every day. But when some horseplay causes him to ruin her painting, he has to find a way to make it up to her. Can Rattles fix the damage? Can they ever be together?

Can also be found here.


 

Sue Ellen had her tongue stuck out slightly with concentration. The entire canvas depended on her making careful brush strokes, which meant ignoring the loud class around her. She was in an art class at Elwood City High, and judging by the daily noise and confusion, most of the kids thought the high school was a zoo instead. Sue Ellen did her best to ignore them, but today, the piece had to be perfect to complete her artistic vision.

Suddenly the canvas leaped off the easel and onto the floor, causing her to paint across the entire painting as it nearly fell into her lap. Sue Ellen cried out in horror as the boy responsible appeared in her field of vision.

An extremely apologetic Rattles eyed the canvas with a guilty expression.

Sue Ellen was about to grow angry, but she saw a flash in his eyes. Rattles turned around to face Slink, who was covered in paint water and had a devious look on his face. As soon as he saw Rattles, he knew he was in trouble, but it was too late. The punch hit him square in the cheek and knocked him onto the floor.

“What’s going on in here?!” the art teacher cried, taking a visual canvas of the suddenly silent classroom. When she saw Slink on the floor, she sighed heavily, “I am so sick of your ill behavior, young man. I’m writing you up. Get out of my classroom, and I hope administration never lets you back!”

“But he hit me!” Slink cried, trying to plead his case. No one said a word, even the art teacher. She merely pointed to the door, sending him out of the room. She then returned to her cluttered desk to fill out the write-up report for his behavior, signaling the rest of class to get back to work, or to attempt to.

Sue Ellen studied her canvas carefully. The piece was a lost cause, and as Rattles studied her, he knew he had to do something to make it up to her.

Rattles was a very private person, even among his closest friends. None of them knew he harbored a deep crush for Sue Ellen Armstrong, a crush that had spanned since her arrival to the area so many years ago. They were juniors in high school now, all of them nearing seventeen and their college years. Rattles and his friends liked to hang out, and some of them liked to make trouble. He knew that because of his antics, Sue Ellen would never go for him, but the ruined painting was a way in.

“I think I can fix it, that is, if you can trust me,” Rattles whispered. Sue Ellen hung her head, “No, it’s fine. I mean, you can have it if you want it. I’ll just have to start over or something,” she sighed, getting off of her stool and disappearing into the art supply room.

Rattles took the painting back to his station. He knew that Sue Ellen couldn’t see him as she settled back into her easel and began to paint again, so he started the repair work. It wouldn’t be the image she was trying to create, he knew, but he had to save the painting from the trash. He caused the damage, so he had to fix it. And maybe, just maybe, if he did a good enough job, she’d possibly like him back.

It had been three days since the canvas incident. Slink had been out of class since then, but today he was back and more rambunctious than ever. Rattles moved to avoid him, taking a spot by the window. Sue Ellen was there too, abandoning her painting for work with colored pencils. She sat in a sun beam, the rooms dust giving her a mystical appearance. Rattles blushed as he put the finishing touches on her once-ruined painting. It wasn’t the image she’d started with, but his fix completely hid the giant line of red paint down the center of the canvas.

Now all he had to do was give it back to her, but he didn’t want to do it in class. Slink had stirred up some of the other boys again, and the four of them were having a rinse water fight. Students kept moving away from the group, many of them ending up near Sue Ellen’s sunbeam. It was too much of an audience for Rattles to be comfortable, and when class ended, he decided to just take it with him. He carefully placed it in his locker so it could dry properly. All he needed to do now was find the perfect time to give her the painting back, and possibly admit his feelings.

The Sugar Bowl was nearly empty when Rattles walked by. School had been out for almost two hours, so most kids had gone home to await dinner with their family. Rattles wasn’t in the group, and judging by the identity of the restaurant’s only patron, Sue Ellen had no plans either. Rattles stepped inside, asking to take a seat in the booth across from her.

Sue Ellen eyed him with contempt but allowed him to sit. He sighed as he slid into the booth, “Look, I know I’m on your bad side right now, but what happened wasn’t entirely my fault. I felt terrible-”

“It’s okay. So another painting of mine got ruined because of Slink. You handled the problem,” she grinned. “I can’t believe he comes anywhere near you after a punch like that. I really didn’t expect you to do that for me, but I’m thankful.”

“I…I did something else too,” Rattles said, pulling his backpack into his lap. Now was the time to reveal the painting, and he carefully pulled it from his bag. He passed it across the table face-down. “I fixed it,” he said as she turned the painting over.

Sue Ellen gasped. It wasn’t the image she’d pictured in her mind, but the painting still looked amazing, almost gallery quality. And the vicious red line was cleverly hidden in the elements he’d added, turning the canvas into a masterpiece.

“It was the least I could do. I just…I need to tell you something else,” he stammered, blushing slightly. Too stunned to speak, Sue Ellen nodded for him to continue as she kept staring at the painting. “I’ve had a crush on you since our old Lakewood days, but I knew you wouldn’t want to be with a guy like me. My friends are a bunch of animals, and I’ll admit to doing some things with them. But I’m willing to change for you. You’re worth it, in my eyes, and I’d do anything to make you happy.”

Sue Ellen was stunned. Of all the people to have a crush on her, it had to be Rattles Ciccone, one of Elwood City High’s baddest students, at least in the eyes of everyone else. Sue Ellen was suddenly flooded with images of his good deeds. Yes, he’d done some bad things too, but he didn’t mind helping the community. And as she eyed the painting in her hands, she realized he was right. He was willing to do anything for her.

“I, um…, I’m surprised. I’m speechless,” Sue Ellen laughed, continuing to eye the portrait. “I just never expected this, but…I won’t reject you, but maybe we should try this out. I mean, we both have images. I’m so quiet and intellectual. People talk about me all the time and it’s not always good. We’re opposites for that reason, but I’d like to see how things could work.”

So the two decided to enter a trial relationship of sorts. They met up the next morning to walk to school together. Their entrance into Elwood City High was marked by stunned silence as people eyed them. It was clear that they were together, and most people seemed horrified, but none more than Slink. He was in the middle of play-punching another friend of theirs when he saw them approach. He was immediately skeptical of the relationship, and he was vocal about it too.

What neither of them expected was Fern to come up to them. She’d gotten even quieter since elementary school, and though she was smart and knew right from wrong, she rarely said a word. Today wasn’t that day. She marched up to Slink and began to argue on their behalf.

“Why can’t they be together if they want to be? Jealousy has you by the throat,” Fern hissed.

“Jealousy? Why would I be jealous? He’s lying to her! You’re a bad boy, Rattles! Stop being a goody-two-shoes and get back to being you,” Slink pleaded.

“Everyone has a good side,” Fern argued, “at least anyone with a conscience. You’re upset that he’s rejecting your way of life. Well guess what? It’s good riddance!” Fern spat, turning to the couple, “Make it work. You two can be perfect for each other if you just stop listening to guys like that moron.”

“We will,” Sue Ellen nodded firmly. “Fern’s right, Slink. Everyone has a good side that has a soul. You act like an animal, not a human being, and because of that, you’ll be forever alone. Stop being jealous and start being a better person, and maybe then you’ll find someone too.”

Fern led the couple away from Slink, but he had to have the last word: “It’ll never work,” he called after them. Stares greeted him as he remained in his same spot. Though people had their doubts that Rattles was a good guy for a girl like Sue Ellen, they were eager to see if the couple could make it work. The only opposition they faced was from Slink, but the couple ignored him. They would try to make it work, allowing Rattles to live out dreams he’d had for years of being Sue Ellen’s boyfriend.

~End

Theme 89: Painting

Theme from my Infinite Arthur Theme List challenge. Let me know if you’d like more info.

This is another one-shot for my “Crushed Hearts” collab series. Any author can submit a piece to the project. Just let me know what you’d like to add and I’ll submit it to the community Arthur Collab Projects, which includes pieces from other collab serieses as well. Let me know if you want more info.

As for this piece, I really want to do more with this pairing. Intellectually, Rattles and Sue Ellen are a match, but behaviorally, there are major differences. But I can see it work out somehow, so I’d like to play with it some more. Expect some more pieces with this pairing from me in the future, and feel free to play with it on your own.

 

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