Summary: A bit of a character study on Steven.
Notes: Canon. Will be appearing in the next chapter, so it’s a spoiler.
Word Count: 574
Normally, Steven spent his afternoons in the library at the school, deeply absorbed in his studies. That day turned out to be particularly warm, and the library was unusually stuffy. Instead, he took his books and made his way out towards the athletic fields. He found a shady spot far enough away from where the teams were actually practicing that the noise wouldn’t bother him too much. He leaned against the smooth bark of a birch tree, and began to read.
He wasn’t the only student who thought the confines of the school were too unbearable on such a beautiful day. There were other students sprawled out on the green grass, most of them more interested in socializing that studying. Steven did his best to tune them out, and for the most part he succeeded. That was, until two girls at down under a nearby tree. One of them pulled a transistor radio out of her bag, and turned it on.
Steven tried not to listen as they giggled about various inane things while one fiddled with the radio to find a station to their liking. Eventually, they settled on a station playing the kind of music that his father would call “noise.” He was just managing to tune them out when a new song started playing, causing one of the girls to let out a high-pitched squeal.
“This is my favorite song!” she exclaimed.
“Mine too!” the other one replied, and then the two of them proceeded to sing along with the radio.
Steven kept his eyes focused on his book, though anyone who was paying close attention would have noticed that he never turned a page. He was too engrossed by the actions of the two girls, and the catchiness of the music playing on the radio. He envied them, in some ways, having the freedom to enjoy such a beautiful day. Instead, he needed to try to slog through several chapters in Simerican history if he had any hopes of acing the test he had on Friday. He refocused his attention on the textbook, trying to make the dates and locations of various Civil War battles stick in his mind.
It wasn’t fair, he thought sometimes. It wasn’t that he was a bad student; Steven consistently was in the top ten of his class. But the amount of work and preparation that he had to do to maintain that status was exhausting. Somewhere, deep inside, he knew that his parents would be proud of him no matter what grades he brought home as long as he had done his best, but the look of pride on his mother’s face and the tone of his father’s voice when he said, “That’s my boy!” when he brought home another A meant so much to him. After all, he was the Bradford heir, and much was expected of him. He needed to do his best to hold up the family name.
With a barely audible reluctant sigh, Steven got up and gathered his things. He would never get his studying done outside, and the library would be no less stuffy than it had been an hour ago. Steven decided to head home. At least there always managed to be a cool breeze in the old tree, and Peggy and Nettie would leave him to his reading there. With one last wistful glance at the girls enjoying their music, Steven began the long walk home.