“It’s no good, it won’t work!” Lockwood throws his hands up in frustration.
“It’s supposed to be ‘coming together’ and it’s just liquid!” He scoops up some of the runny beige mixture and allows it to plop back into the mixing bowl.
“Fucking Felix” He mutters, unwittingly smearing some of the goop through his hair as Timms screams with laughter at the state of him.
“At least Irwin’s had to give us a weekend off essays”
“Yeah but what’s the point of it if we’re still here doing this shit?”
“School trips aren’t free” Rudge says in his best Felix voice.
Akthar laughs. “Is that supposed to be Felix? You sound more like Angela Lansbury”
“Boys, boys, please be good” Hector drawls from behind his book. For some unknown reason, he has been given the task of keeping order. Other than occasionally stalking up and down, purring ‘well done’ and instructing them to ‘put some muscle into it’ he doesn’t really do much.
“Well, I’d rather be writing essays”
“There are some upsides to it” Timms grins as he rolls his pastry into little pellets and pelts one at Rudge’s head
“Oi!” looking around Rudge can’t find the culprit and turns back to his work, only to be smacked again with one.
Giving up, Lockwood bungs what he’s got into the oven and sits up on his work surface. Hector says nothing.
“Why are you so happy?” He asks Akthar who is cutting out gingerbread men with a secretive little smile.
“Sometimes I make them with my little sister” He shrugs.
“Just happy memories is all”
“You’re a mother’s dream, Adil” He starts rolling a fag.
Irwin pops his head in the door at that minute and he jumps down, stuffing it into his pocket and pretends to be working.
“Ah! Here you are, Hector!”
Hector rolls his eyes and Scripps begins to suspect that he hasn’t actually been saddled with the job of keeping them in line, but has probably volunteered to supervise their efforts as a way of hiding from his eager colleague. Scripps can sort of sympathise.
No such suspicions occur to Dakin, however, who instead abandons his mixing bowl and sets himself the challenge of seeing where he can deposit floury handprints on Irwin’s person during ‘innocent’ conversation without him noticing. The entire charade is mortifying to witness.
“Oh God, save us” Scripps mutters as Dakin attempts a friendly pat on the back that definitely goes too low to seem anything other than deliberate.
Posner watches between his fingers as Irwin pulls him outside for ‘a word’. Scripps hides behind him, unable to look at all.
When Dakin returns to class, he goes silently to his workstation and works moodily for the rest of the hour.
“I don’t understand him at all” Posner sighs, sadly.
Scripps notices that he’s smeared flour across his nose and cheeks, like a kid with his mum’s powder. Somewhere in the region of his stomach, there’s a twisting sensation, like going too fast over a humpback bridge.
“Here,” he mumbles, wiping it away with deft strokes of a damp tea towel.
“Thanks” Pos whispers, blue eyes never leaving his for a second.
Hairs rising on the back of his neck, Scripps coughs, uncomfortably. “So, how’s the Victoria sponge looking?”
Pos squats down to peer through the blackened Perspex window. “I’m not supposed to open the oven until it’s time,”
‘You fucking idiot’ Scripps tells himself, biting the inside of his lip in punishment.
Behind him, Lockwood curses at his soggy pie “How are you raw inside you useless fuck?!” He growls, flapping a tea towel at the smoke alarm.
“That’s the fire bell, boys!” Hector heaves himself out of his chair “Everybody out”
Assembled with the rest of the school on the field, Scripps ignores Felix bellowing at them to make orderly lines by form and makes his way over to Dakin who is kicking viciously at dandelion heads.
“What’s the matter with you? What did he say?”
He follows Dakin’s gaze over to Irwin, who has removed his floury jumper and is standing shivering in his oversized shirt.
“I have a detention tonight”
“So? That’s what you want, isn’t it? More time alone with him to work your magic?”
“It’s with Totty. I have to help her organise her marking and clean her form room”
“That’s not too bad, you’ve gotta lose some to win some, I guess”
"Rich coming from you" He glares with a loaded look towards Posner.
"Admittedly, but I'm not the one complaining"
“She has a year ten form group, they’re practically feral! One of them tried to mug me last week. And it means I have to cancel a date with Fiona”
“Never mind. At least you got him to take some clothes off for you” Scripps consoles him, nodding at Irwin who is turning slightly blue in the cold winter air.
Dakin harumphs, but Scripps thinks he detects a hint of self-satisfaction.
Felix’s voice has gone all high pitched and squeaky as he shouts, like a sergeant major’s. They look up to see him berating Hector who’s looking bemused and a little frightened.
Crowther wanders over to join them. “It’s like a puppy who peed on the floor. You could almost feel sorry for him”
“Funny though” Lockwood chimes in, ignoring the squat form of Wilkes as he shouts at them to stand still and form an orderly line.
“How can we stand still and form a line, sir?” Timms asks, innocently.
“But, Sir, I’m not allowed to move!”
The PE teacher walks away, muttering darkly to himself.
The school is filing back inside anyway, now that they've had their customary lecture about it being the worst evacuation time on record.
The eight of them are the last group to be allowed inside. Hector is now nowhere to be seen but from the look of Felix's spiteful red face, Scripps wouldn't be surprised if their teacher finds himself clearing up after Totty's year tens along with Dakin tonight.
“Boys, this has been a disaster. After talking to Wilkes, I have decided that you will instead do a sponsored fun run to raise money for your trips”
Rudge and Dakin are the only two not to groan at this news.
“What are you so happy about?” Pos pouts at a smiling Dakin.
“I’m going to sprain my ankle, I think. Way easier to get out of than cooking”
Fiona is waiting to talk to them as they file back inside. “Nice one lads. He’s going to be in a foul mood for the rest of the day now.” She nods at the headmaster's retreating back before leaning in to give Dakin a peck on the lips. “You still on for the cinema tonight?”
“I can’t, sorry. I’ve got detention” He winces.
“A bit old for that, aren’t you? What did you do?”
“He tried to feel up Mr Irwin”
“Shut up, Posner, no I didn’t!” but he’s gone beet red so it's not very convincing.
Fiona shakes her head “Brilliant, that’s topped off a cracking day”
Felix summons her and she departs with a final black look at Dakin.
“Nice one Pos”
“No problem” Posner grins.
Back in the cookery room they pull their combined efforts from the ovens and start packing away.
Rudge has somehow produced a chocolate cake, a batch of cookies and three cheesecakes.
“Are you magic or something?”
“I like cooking” He shrugs, slicing up the cake. “It’s easy, you just follow the instructions. If Felix doesn’t want this stupid bake sale, after all, we can share.”
Dakin takes an extra slice of cake and wraps it in paper with a grin.
Scripps’ heart stutters as Posner come and stands inside his personal space. “What do you reckon? He’s going to take it to Fiona or Irwin?”
“Or use it to bribe his way out of detention with Totty”
“Nah, she’s way too smart to fall for that”
“I’d like to hope Fiona is too”
“Oh wait, he’s taking another bit, one for each of them, then”
Posner sighs, a great sad sigh worthy of a Shakespearean heroine. “I’d die if Dakin brought me cake”
“I’ll bring you cake, Pos. Actually, I’ve still got half my ingredients left. Fancy a bake and revision session at mine tonight?”
“Oh Scrippsy, I thought you’d never ask”
“It's a date”
He knows they’re just friends, but at the moment that’s more than good enough for him.