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The Invention (Rebel Belles, PG-13, Harper/David, Harper & Bee, Harper/Ryan)
tumbled hair, girls rule, austen
innie_darling
Taking a step back to the first thing I wrote for this year's Yuletide, here's a tiny fic for a very charming book series called Rebel Belle, by Rachel Hawkins. The first two books are out, and they're a fun and very fast read - you should be able to get through both in a few hours. The main character, Harper, is a pop-culture aware Southern belle who gains a superpower and a destiny due to an unexpected encounter. (It should also be noted that I have yet to break my habit of writing fic for blithers, with whom I co-wrote a beast of a fic this year.)


"The Invention"


It wasn't until later that I even thought to ask: why hadn't David ever had a girlfriend? Yes, he dressed like a Yankee in a cold-brew Brooklyn coffeehouse (though at least there were no effing scarves), and he had routinely been beyond obnoxious (but only to me, apparently), but it wasn't traumatic to look at him or anything. He didn't have Ryan's big, warm, muscular body, but he didn't work for it the way Ryan did either. Everyone knew the Bradshaw boys were genetically blessed, but Ryan had put in the hours at the gym, patiently building muscles while I was Pilates-ing my way to a taut and toned cheerleader body.

Still, skinnyish though he was and leaving the argyle sweaters aside, David wasn't entirely tragic, so why hadn't anybody been cozying up to him?

Maybe because he was so, so awkward.

The first time he saw my room, his face went pink enough to drown out the spray of freckles on his nose. And it was just my room, not the Temple of Doom or anything, and it wasn't like I'd left my unmentionables scattered around. Just my full-size bed with the purple bedspread I'd picked out at fourteen, the photoboard with its crisscrossing ribbons, and the sheer curtains that belled out like a ballgown at the slightest breeze.

I didn't want to wait around for David Freaking Stark to quit impersonating one of Aunt Martha's Precious Moments figurines, so I sat on the bed, gestured for him to take the chair by the Marie Antoinette desk, and said, "You wanted to talk, so talk."

Even perched on the edge of the seat, David looked like he belonged on that dainty chair. Which meant that he looked like he belonged in my room. My bedroom.

That might have been the point at which my brain stopped processing and sought shelter in outrageous facts that were somehow more credible, like Saylor Stark being a Mage with no blood tie to the boy she'd raised practically from birth. The boy who was sitting in my bedroom and giving me a measuring look.

"I want to try to have a prophecy," he said, rubbing his hands on his jeans. I might have only worn jeans to convince Dr. Greenbaum that I was "chill" (which was a word as terrible as any of the four-lettered variety) and not at all a control freak, but even I knew jeans did not need to be that tight.

"Miss Saylor should be here –" I started to say, before David rudely cut me off.

"I don't trust her right now. Not yet." I might have hated to admit it, but he sort of had a point. Saylor hadn't done herself any favors by stating so baldly that she'd kidnapped him.

"Don't you usually have your visions alone?" I tried next. Look, I remembered how dizzy and disoriented I'd been just from the brief, bloody flashes I got from holding his hand to say grace at Saylor's table. I wasn't about to put both of my hands in his without an effing good reason.

"Sometimes," he said, and then paused, portentously (a word we'd both spelled correctly in that sixth-grade spelling bee). "Sometimes, you're in them."

That had to be a line, though why David was busting one out on me I had no idea. Except it wouldn't be a line if it was an Oracle/Paladin thing. "Sure. I guess that's plausible."

"It's true!" he protested. "Do you want to hear one of the good ones?"

One of the good ones? Plural? I had a hard time meeting his blue gaze. "You tell me."

"It took me a second to recognize you," David said, his voice going even and soothing like a hypnotist's, but in a way that made me feel safe instead of sleepy. I felt exactly the opposite of the way I did whenever he was in danger, like nothing could ever hurt him when he was like this. "Because you didn't have that little frown-crinkle here." His hand came up but didn't touch me, hovering instead in front of the spot between my eyebrows. "That I-could-run-Grove-Academy-with-one-hand-tied-behind-my-back frown." He ducked a little then, to catch my eye. "People would help you, you know. If you let them."

"Mmm," I said, noncommittally.

"Anyway, you're in a field somewhere, sitting on a picnic blanket, just chatting away with Bee. You must have said something funny, because Bee's throwing her head back and laughing that big horsey laugh" – his smile was enough to tell me that he wasn't mocking my best friend, that like me he admired the way she laughed with every bit of her body – "and you just look so happy, Pres."

I was always happy when I was with Bee. I loved her more than anybody else in the world. The vision was nice, and it took away a little of my fear of aiding and abetting him to another prophecy. As much as I didn't want David having those headaches, a sweet scene like that probably made up for it at least a little bit, right? And for him to tell me about it, sounding kind instead of like the ruthless jerk he turned into whenever he was penning another editorial about me, was a gift. I didn't need Emily Post or Aunt Jewel to nudge me with her elbows to know I should reciprocate.

I swallowed and beckoned him over. "Okay," I said, waiting for him to settle gingerly on my bedspread and looking him right in the eyes, trying not to remember how hideous just getting reflections of his Cotillion prophecy had felt, all that red streaking over the white gowns. "I'm trusting you here."

His eyes heated up and it was like our hands were magnetized, locking together as if that was their natural state. And then – oh, I knew why he'd blushed when he saw my bed, why he'd said the vision with Bee was only one of the good ones. Because my hands tingled at his touch, and the fire that leapt from his fingers to mine felt like joy along my skin, and I could see, in those brief flashes I got of his visions, the two of us kissing in my bed.

Not just kissing like we'd tentatively confessed liking each other, maybe. Definitely not kissing like it was a dare or a Spin the Bottle obligation. And not even like first-kiss-after-saying-I-love-yous. In the vision, David and I were kissing like we'd invented it, completely lost in each other.

The vision spun on, the two of us biting softly at each other's lips, hands confident and welcome on flushed cheeks and bare hips. My purple bedspread slipped down, and I could see the faint freckles on David's exposed back. We looked lit up, ecstatic that we were exactly where we were supposed to be.

I could see the vision, and I could feel, present tense, David's hands holding mine, but that was it. I couldn't taste him, couldn't feel the weight of his body pressing mine down into the bed. Because it wasn't really happening. It was a glimpse of one possible future, that was all, and it was even less possible than it seemed because I had Perfect Boyfriend Ryan and David had . . . his newspaper and his jerkiness and those terrible headaches.

David also had the decency to say – out loud, to Saylor Stark, when it counted – that his life wasn't worth the sacrifice of mine.

I pulled free, hastily disentangling my hands from his, and cutting the vision off. How long ago had he seen this? It couldn't be that he'd never had a girlfriend because he'd been holding out for this vision to become a true prophecy, could it?

I finally looked up at him. Behind his terrible glasses, his eyes were the blue of cloudless skies, but so sad. "Yeah," he said, like he was answering a question I hadn't asked.

It took a lot for me to be stunned into silence, but David had pulled it off. Before I could gather myself, he'd left, and the only signs he'd been there at all were my rumpled purple bedspread, the heat in my face, and an ache in my heart.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/456819.html.

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