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La Reine Du Bal
Topic Started: Jun 2 2013, 02:18 AM (1,480 Views)
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Garrett Wilde Continued from The Calm before the Storm))

Prom was already underway as Garrett pulled them into the crowded school parking lot. He could hear the music drifting out into the quiet streets, and it looked like most of the school was already inside. At a normal dance, an uneasy dread would begin to creep into his thoughts as he left the car. While he enjoyed observing the this aspect of his social structure, he usually felt like an outsider. He would exchange pleasantries with people he barely knew, catch up with any friends he saw who didn't seem terribly busy, and then go home to ponder whether he should even bother showing up next time.

There was no dread tonight, though. The ride over had been full pleasant conversation and side-long glances at the amazing woman who'd chosen to spend the night with him. There were a few awkward, nervous pauses, but oddly enough that only encouraged him. It meant that they were both at least a little bit anxious, but they were here anyway. She hadn't let her nerves stop her from asking him, so he wasn't going to let his get in the way of their evening.

He walked around to her side of the Viper and opened the door, extending his hand out to her with a smile and recalling the phrase he'd learned for this occasion. "Ready to go inside, reine du bal?"
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((Mirabella Strong continued from The Calm before the Storm))

Bella took a moment to pause for breath as Garrett took a temporary leave of absense in order to open her door for her. He was such a chivalrous and kindhearted boy, the most perfect one she'd ever met. The ride there had been an enjoyable one, a concoction of latent anxieties and scarcely contained excitement. She was here, at Prom. Literally. It still seemed somewhat unbelievable. Tonight will be perfect, she thought as Garrett moved to open the passenger door. I know it will.

She glanced at the rear-vision mirror, checking that she still looked presentable, as Garrett extended a hand to assist her outside, into the crisp night air. Prom Queen...that's what he said. He flattered her too much. Bella enjoyed the praise that he was constantly heaping upon her, but she always felt that she didn't reciprocate it enough. Lord knew that there was plenty to compliment Garrett on. His sweetness, his intelligence, his beauty (both inner and outer), the ability that he had to look into her like almost no one else.

"Merci beaucoup, mon ami. Tu es un vrai gentleman," she said, gripping Garrett's hand with her own, and pulling herself into the darkness beyond. He'd learned a phrase, just for her. She doubted too many others would do the same.

She nestled against Garrett as her shoes clipped against the pavement. Nothing could change what was happening tonight. Nothing could go wrong.
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Garrett helped Bella out of the car and draped an arm over her shoulders as she pulled in against him. As they walked through the parking lot towards the doors, he grinned down at her, embracing the absurdity of it all in his mind. It was a beautiful evening, and he was here with the most beautiful girl he'd ever known. "Who could help but be a gentleman in the company of such a classy lady?"

The doors beckoned, and for the first time in his life Garrett's outer calm perfectly matched his inner state. Everything about this evening was flawless. He felt like nothing could spoil his mood, even as his logical nature marveled at the improbability of the situation. Here was someone who not only knew him, but understood almost everything about him. The fact that she made him comfortable enough to be that honest was a minor miracle in and of itself, but on top of that she actively enjoyed being around him despite his various idiosyncrasies. To him, that was incredible. Garrett had never been a particularly superstitious individual. He didn't pay fealty to the concepts of fate or destiny. He'd always been taught that there is a rational cause for every situation he would ever encounter. He was in no mood for a logical cost benefit analysis, though. Instead, as he examined this perfect storm of logical improbabilities, a single thought dominated his mind: I am a very, very lucky man.

He gently squeezed Bella's shoulder as they strode up to the door, then broke away to hold it open for her. He'd do everything to make sure this was her perfect night. She deserved nothing less.
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((Hansel Williams continued from Quixotic))

A defeatist attitude hadn't crept upon him as he had gotten ready, though it was mostly through sheer will that it remained that way. He refused to think of scenarios that didn't include success, refused to feel like an idiot as he put gel in his hair, spritzed on cologne, shaved his patchy beart in favour of smooth cheeks. He didn't consider that what he had planned wouldn't work, as he straightened his tie and slid his feet into shiny black shoes. It would work because it had to. It would work because it couldn't not.

Hansel had pulled out all the stops. He'd made sure he could take his mom's car, rather than the beaten up old pickup that wouldnn't impress a lady. He'd cleaned it for two days. He had a bouquet of an assortment of flowers resting on the passenger's seat as he turned onto his school's street, free leg bouncing and thumb being chewed on as the nerves finally settled in. In all of his two years at Aurora, he'd never asked a girl out, never felt the inclination to engage in what the students called "casual dating".

But now he was going to do it during prom.

Mirabella Strong had sat in front of him all throughout english class, and was one of the first people who'd been genuinely, honestly, openly nice to him during his time here. He'd often thought about her skin, how clear it was and how it'd feel under his palm. He'd wanted to curl his fingers through hers ever since he'd seen them wrapped delicately around a pen, or straightening stationary on her desk.

As he stopped at a red light outside the school, he turned one of his hands over, studying the dry, flaking skin he didn't often take care of, running the tip of his finger along the callouses forming hard ridges. It would've likely been an unpleasant experience for her, but-

No. No, he was going to do this. He was going to be casual about it, but he was going to go through with it. He was fairly sure she didn't have any ties, especially since in all their classes together, she'd never mentioned a boyfriend, a prom date, anything to any of those that she was friendly with.

He'd know, because he often listened for her voice in crowds, picked it out with the ease of a radio signal.

Casual, Hansel thought, pulling into one of the few free spaces available. The flowers caught the dimming light, causing him to shoot them a grin. It would be amazing.

He sat down beside her at the table, sliding his chair closer to her, matching her enthusiastic grin with one of his own. Throughout the night, they would get more and more talkative, laughing together, her hand grabbing his in friendly recognition, companionable silence descending as he linked his fingers through hers and she looked towards the dancers with a wistful sigh. He'd pick up on that, a questioning brow raising as he turned to her.

Why aren't you out there? he'd ask, and she'd shoot him an amused look.

I can't dance alone, Hansel, she'd reply. He'd respond by standing, tugging her to her feet. She'd laugh, small and quietly, but would rise with him, go with him, twirl with him. She'd be patient with his inexperience, and he'd dip her on the dance floor, move his face closer to hers so that they were nose to nose, and -

Hansel shook himself when a car horn blared in the parking lot. To his right, Brandon Baxter and a few of the other jocks let out war woops and saluted a passing sedan with outstretched bottles of... something.

Shaking his head, the tall boy reached over to pick up the bouquet, opening his door to step from the car. He wondered where she was, where he'd find her, whether or not she would be pleasantly surprised by the flowers.

He got eight feet from the car when he spotted them.

Mirabella was looking radiant and glowing, in a dress, clearly made up for the occasion. She was looking especially radiant and glowing on the arm of her handsome young date.

Garrett Wilde.

Reflexively, Hansel's right fist curled into a vicelike grip, remembering the harsh feeling of blood and bone against it as he slammed it into Garrett's face. The two boys hadn't spoken a word - civil or otherwise - since that day, the day that Hansel had felt shredded, humiliated, disgusted with himself more than words could say.

And here he was again, with his hand squeezing Bella's shoulder, the two of them looking lovely and enraptured and like the perfect fucking couple. Here he was again, feeling shredded and humiliated because, as usual, Garrett had the upper hand on him. Garrett was smarter, after all. Garrett was better.

He was moving, his shiny shoes clicking against the asphalt of the parking lot, his shaven cheeks cold against the night air, his hair stuck in the styled, perfect mould that he'd set for it with liberal usage of a comb and gel. His left hand was crushing the bouquet as his pace increased, moving faster and faster until he was almost running across the parking lot, his path taking him right in front of both the prom queen and her lovely date, stopping right when he was nearly chest to chest with Garrett. Feelings welled within him that stung at his eyes and made them water - rage, hate, endearment, shyness, disappointment, fear.

Sadness.

His eyes moved to Mirabella's, then snapped to Garrett's before dropping to the asphalt. If either of them were quick enough, observant enough, they could see them start the process of filling, that deadly moment between being fine and letting the tears fall. After a second of motionlessness, Hansel stepped forwards, took the bouquet of flowers, and slapped it into Garrett's chest.

The motion had the two boys close, close enough for Hansel to mutter something in Garrett's ear, voice hoarse, throat full.

The words filled Hansel's head as he slid around Garrett and walked back to the car, hand empty of flowers, head filled with the two final words that he'd said to him. The shelter was open tonight, and he had a feeling that he wasn't going to go home for a time yet. He was going to peel off his suit, roll up his sleeves, and tend to strays and abused and broken members of animal kingdom.

The words reverberated in his skull as he slid back into the seat of the car, doing up his buckle. They hammered at him as he flicked a deft wrist over his keys, the engine roaring to life.

"You win, Wilde."

((Hansel Williams, continued elsewhere))
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Eighteen seconds.

They'd lasted eighteen seconds before something happened, something disrupted everything, something sent this whole naïve fairytale she'd let herself conjure up be besmirched. Lilac patterned shoes clopping gently on the pavement, Garrett's grip on her shoulder a mixture of firm and gentle. The doors to the venue, from which music was pulsing softly were almost in reach.

And then Hansel was there.

Hansel, the boy who'd sat behind her in English the whole year, who was sweet and had that adorable stutter, who was always nice to her. There. He and Garrett abreast, the scent of flowers wafting through the cool evening air. Peonies are my favourite...

A breath flowed through her, shakily, followed by a mouthful of saliva. Her mouth was dry, then. It always dried up when she was nervous, or something unexpected happened. And something very unexpected had happened indeed.

And then he was gone, as quick as he'd come. He might've been crying, but she couldn't tell, so quick was his exit. Without dramatics. A thought entered her mind, and flashed away almost immediately. Flowers...the flowers that he'd thrust into Garrett's arms, petals now floating to the ground. Peonies were her favourite...

And Hansel had known.

Oh God...no...he can't...he can't...he can't...because if he had then he would've said. He would've...he would've...

No...would he? A year, a year in English, and she couldn't gage such a basic element of his personality. But a year...a year was more than long enough for other things.

Her face went blank in the seconds after Hansel's departure, before returning to colour and life. A smile returned to her lips, a forced one. Not the true one she'd had just a moment ago. But she wouldn't let Garrett see the difference. There was no way she'd let him see.
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You win, Wilde.

Something snapped in him with those words. He clenched the flowers that Hansel had thrown against his chest tightly, and a low growl escaped his lips as he watched him leave.

"It wasn't enough. It wasn't enough for you to slander my grandfather, insult my lifestyle, and assault me. It just wasn't good enough for you. You had to come with this, tonight of all nights, and treat her like, like some damned prize-"

He caught himself and realized that he was speaking out-loud, his shaking tone cutting through the night air as it rose. He turned to Bella beside him and his expression softened. He felt hot shame flooding through him.

"I'm sorry, Bella, I...I lost control there. It was wrong of me." He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "Hansel and I...we don't get along well. Do you remember that bruise I said I got when a branch hit me on an unfamiliar trail? That was him. It's what I've come to expect of him."

He stared down at the crushed flowers. "I never expected this, though. For him to say something like that about you, and just leave...well, that part is for the best, I suppose." A rare frown creeped onto his face as he stared down at her. Things couldn't just go back to how they'd been less than a minute ago. He could tell that at least a fragment of that beautiful moment was lost, and as much as he hated Hansel for ruining it, he hated himself more for being unable to save it. "I'm sorry," he rasped as he dropped the flowers and placed a hand on her shoulder, "I just wanted this to be the perfect night for you, but it seems like I can't even manage that."
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A prize...

Bella froze as Garrett reacted to the encounter with Hansel, his words acidic and raw. Unlike anything she'd ever heard from him. Nothing but sweetness had passed from his lips while she'd been in his presence. And then...reassurance. Back to his normal tones. But which one was the truth?

"A branch...you said it was a branch, but it was him?!"

Bella's cheeks flushed red. Whether it was out of anguish or anger, she couldn't tell. One thing was certain though: he'd lied to her. A lie, so very very minor, one that she would have otherwise been oblivious to, but it was still a lie. The boy with whom she'd entrusted everything. Every. Little. Thing. And he couldn't do the same. She'd opened herself up to him, let him see the rawness that she'd hidden beneath the smiles and the laughs...she would've done so much more...for him...

Calm. That's what she needed. She needed to be calm, she couldn't just verbally attack him, like she wanted to right now. To berate, to cry, to whine, and end up hyperventilating and end up relying on him like she always had. That trust had fractured, and she wasn't going to let that fracture heal easily. Not if it could open up again just as easily.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

"Garrett...why didn't you tell me of this altercation with Hansel? When did it happen? Why did it happen?" She looked Garrett in the eyes as she spoke. She needed to see his reaction before his reply. While she waited for his words, his always pretty words.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
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"Because I'm very, very foolish..." he said quietly, unable to meet her gaze.

He could feel the tears building with her panic. He'd completely lost his center. The words poured from him without a thought. "He was so broken and alone, Bella. That's what stood out to me. I thought that maybe I could help him, like you help me. I couldn't, though, because he doesn't want my help, or anyone else's. So when he lashed out at me...I didn't tell anyone. I didn't want it to come back to him. I didn't want to return his anger. I thought maybe if I could just be the bigger man and withstand whatever he threw at me, maybe it'd get to him and he'd see how pointless it all was."

He unsteadily lifted his gaze to meet hers. "I'm so sorry, Bella. I just wanted to help him. I didn't care if he hurt me, that just wasn't important...I never thought he'd hurt anyone else. Especially not you."

Steady. He needed to steady himself. He had to get back into control before he made things worse. He sighed shakily as he prepared his next move. "That doesn't make what I've done right, though. I never should have lied to you, even about something so small." Despite all his efforts, he still couldn't stem the flow of tears. "And I never should have let my anger get the best of me. You deserve so much better than that." He managed to gain enough composure to look her squarely in the eye. "I promise, with whatever my word is still worth to you, that it's never happened before, and it will never happen again." He spoke with all the sincerity he could muster. He'd never meant to hurt her, and he'd be damned if he was ever going to do it again.
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Bella remained silent as Garrett spoke, struck wordless, her mind whirring away as she processed his words.

Never again... A slight sliver of doubt remained at the back of her mind at those words, but she dismissed it. He said he'd never hurt her, and she knew that would be true. He'd lied to protect her, hadn't he? It wasn't as if she'd let any fight between Hansel and her Garrett go away easily. She could see herself in the middle of English, struggling to repress the fury which boiled within her beneath a masquerade of smiles and pretty words.

Pretty words...just like Garrett's. I've lied to him too. I've never told him how I really feel about him...

Garrett finished his apologies, his eyes brimming with tears, tears she'd scarcely ever seen. It was then that she knew it was true. It had to be true, didn't it? Garrett didn't seem too good an actor, and what he'd just done was Oscar-worthy in Bella's eyes.

She placed a soft palm against Garrett's cheek, brushing away a teardrop. She smiled, genuinely, the moment of anxiety of doubt of anger of anything other than smiles and laughter gone. "Garrett..." She whispered, looking straight into his eyes, his eyes that never failed to entrance her. "Garrett, don't worry. Everything's gonna be okay, alright?"

Garrett...I love you. The words flashed through her mind, unheralded, and almost passed through her lips, before common sense prevented any rash confession. She wanted to say it, to do it with all of her heart, but she couldn't. Not yet. Their evening had been disrupted enough, and she didn't want to do it further damage. From now on it'd be nothing but perfect.
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She was silent. Silence was never a good sign. Every negative outcome possible spun through his mind as he waited, unsure if he should keep talking or just walk away. He'd already done so much damage. This was just another stupid, stupid mistake in what had become a long series of stupid, stupid mistakes, and maybe if he just left her alone she could still salvage something of the night she deserved.

He was just about to leave when he felt her hand against his cheek. He opened his eyes and realized she was staring up at him. Even more surprising, she was smiling.

"Everything's gonna be okay, alright?"

I am a very lucky man.

He reached up and took a hold of her hand and managed a weak smile. "Thank you." He hesitated as he considered biting back his next thought. Against his better judgement, he went on.

"There's something else, Bella...not something I didn't tell you, just something I don't say often enough." There was an awkward beat as he searched for words. He had nothing profound to say, though. Honesty would have to do. "I just want you to know that I really care about you. I hope I never give you any reason to doubt that." He pulled in just slightly closer, bringing their hands down and hooking his arm under hers. Some of the brightness returned to his eyes, and he smiled just a little wider, using his free hand to wipe away what was left of his tears. He wouldn't easily forget what had just happened. He couldn't afford to be that sloppy. He needed to remember this night to make sure he never gave in to either his anger or the carelessness that he had falsely identified as altruism. He wouldn't let her get caught up in his problems again, and the best way to secure that goal was to avoid having problems in the first place.

There was one major issue lurking in the back of his mind: Hansel. Before, he'd been a minor annoyance at best and a concerning exercise in charity at worst. Tonight he proved that he was more than that, though. Garrett was too overwhelmed by the forgiveness of a gracious woman to consider him for more than a moment, however. Right now, nothing mattered save for the fact that he and Bella were still alright. He glanced over at the doors, less hopeful than before but oddly reassured by the ordeal. On second thought, he'd misspoken before, at least partially. He wasn't just lucky. Luck had brought them together, certainly, but their ability to recover and to trust was something built only through solid, purposeful effort, making it something much stronger than fate or fortune. He didn't know what to call it, but he knew how to describe it: Beautiful, in the purest sense of the word.

"Shall we go inside, Bella?"
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Bella blushed, pulling in tighter against Garrett's side as they approached the entranceway to the event centre. Garrett was so...she couldn't find the word to describe it. He had fulfilled every need that she had, without ever asking anything in return. She hated herself for the thoughts that she'd had just a minute ago. The fact that she could think so acidly of anybody, let alone anyone as close to her as Garrett frightened her slightly. With Garrett she knew that nothing would go wrong. Her life had become complacent as of late, ironic given how close they were to graduation and going in a whole new direction. She wasn't anxious as much, her grades were steady and almost stress-free, and she had a loving...friend like Garrett at her side. But in truth, I don't know what I'd do without him...

As Garrett asked whether she'd like to go inside she broke into a fierce grin, the dimple in her cheek becoming more prominent as she did so. "Of course, Garrett!" She said, prodding his arm playfully with a ringed finger as she stepped towards the entrance, beckoning him. "Unless you want to sit outside in the bitter winds all night. C'mon - let's go dance!"

She didn't actually know how skilled a dancer he was. Well, I guess I'll find out! she thought, clinging to Garrett's side as she awaited a response. I'm sure he's perfect. Just like he is at almost everything...
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It was incredible how she could make the whole world feel right again so quickly, with just a few words and a simple gesture. She pulled things back together so easily, to the point that now she was almost teasing him as she beckoned him through the door. He swatted gently at her playful finger, chuckling in spite of himself and throwing up his hands in mock protest. "Now wait a minute, this is a dance? I don't remember you mentioning that part." He closed back in towards her and sighed as they walked through the doors, unable to stop himself from grinning even if it ruined his already shaky performance. "I suppose you're stuck dancing with me, then. I'll try not to be too embarrassing", he said with a wink.

The activities center was packed. There were so many people, many of whom he felt like he barely knew. Still, as he looked around the room, he let out a low whistle. "Imagine that. There must be over a hundred girls here," he said as he leaned in closer, continuing in a whisper into her ear "and you still manage to be more beautiful than each and every one of them. Bravo, reine du bal."
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Pop music filled the hall, students dancing to the synthesised beats. Some were slightly more relaxed and fluid in their movements, but those that chose to grace the dance floor all seemed to be in the height of euphoria. Bella nodded her head slightly to the music. The tune was kinda catchy - she'd heard it on the radio while completing homework several times; - and the spread of food that lined the wall seemed to be diverse and plentiful. She recognised a few faculty members acting as chaperones, and gently waved to a few of the nicer ones.

"Ooh, this is great!" Bella beamed as she and Garrett made their entrance. Her face flushed a dark crimson at Garrett's latest complement. He was too sweet. "Oh, Garrett. Come now. You're ever-so-sweet. When there're girls like Mara and Naomi here, the bar's raised pretty high. To place me amongst girls such as them is the highest honour." She looked around, to see if there was anybody else she could recognise, but the hall was filled with such a large amount of people in a flurry of colours that it was difficult to pinpoint any of her friends.

Looks like it's just Garrett and I for the moment. Not that I'd complain about that.

Half-drunk on the jovial atmosphere and Garrett's good will, Bella couldn't repress the light giggle that escaped her lips as she curled an arm around Garrett's wrist. She pointed to the piles of food that the smorgasbord consisted of. "D'you want to get something to eat first? Or shall we demonstrate our dancing prowess?"
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Garrett enjoyed her reaction to his compliment. She was usually a very humble girl, most likely out of courtesy, but sometimes he wondered if she was genuinely unaware of how stunning she was, especially with all the work she and her mother had put into her outfit. While he was hardly an expert in fashion, he knew she was selling herself short. Still, he didn't want to embarrass her too much, so he didn't press the point.

He noticed some of the faculty had taken note of her greeting, and he waved politely. He was on pleasant terms with most of his teachers, and he didn't notice anyone with particular distaste for him. Good, one less avenue for disaster. I've had my fill for tonight.

He could hear her giggle lightly over the music as she pulled him further in, seeking advice towards their destination. "Hmm, I feel like it'd be foolish to turn down a chance to see your musical skills, mademoiselle," he said with a smile.
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As the opening of another track began its broadcast, Bella suppressed a laugh at the choice of song. She took Garrett's hand in her own and dragged him in the direction of the dance floor as the leading songstress began to croon softly through the speaker systems.

Ooh, I can't go any further than this
Ooh, I want you so badly, it's my biggest wish


"Alright then, Garrett. This song's quite a soft one. How about a slow waltz between you and I? I'd like to see your own dancing prowess."

Her eyes locked upon Garrett's as they stepped ever closer towards the rabble of students that were milling about on the dance floor, the hem of her dress gently brushing against the linoleum that lined the floor.

This ought to be fun.
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