AN: The following is a "missing chapter" from Written's story "My Darling Talia" that would occur sometime after/around chapter 16. We get a behind-the-scenes look at another moment from the pair we all adore, Henry and Talia. The story was published with permission of Written, by the way. She invented these characters and the story; I just wrote this addition as my own little tribute.
My Dummy Henry
"Talia, hold still please," I instructed firmly. "You know I can't do this right if you're squirming."
Talia sighed. "Can't you hurry? It's such a lovely day out. I'm too restless to stay in now."
I shook my head. "I have to do this right. No rushing."
Pursing her lips into a pout, Talia just glared at me.
"Besides, you shouldn't be going out anyway with the sun as high as it is. You'll only get more of those silly freckles."
Her glare turned into a deep scowl. "What, exactly, is wrong with my freckles?"
I ignored her question and avoided eye contact as I busied myself with the task of drawing blood from her pale arm. After carefully placing my samples into my case, I turned back to her, only to see that her expression hadn't changed at all.
"Well?" she questioned.
"Well, what?" I returned.
She balled each of her hands into fists at her side. "What's wrong with my freckles?"
I rolled my eyes. "Are you still on that, Talia? It was just a silly comment." I picked up my briefcase and walked across the room toward the door.
"Just a silly comment?" Talia repeated my words. "Then why did you say it?" It took me a moment to realize that Talia had moved along with me, stepping in front of my path to block my exit from the room.
I shrugged. "Is it really that important? Now if you'll excuse me, I have things to do at the lab."
"No," Talia stated firmly. She held her head high and crossed her arms in front of her. "I'm not letting you out of here until you tell me why you said that. And you have to apologize for saying it so rudely."
"Talia, now you're just being ridiculous," I grumbled. "There is nothing for me to explain to you and nothing for me to apologize for."
"You know, Henry, I don't think that Dr. Knolls would be too thrilled with the way you are treating your subject right now." Talia's voice was venomous.
Her face dropped from fierce to something less intimidating. "Of course, that's all I am to you, a subject," she muttered under her breath, pulling her eyes away from me and toward her shoes.
I sighed heavily at her blatant unreasonableness. "Talia, now you know that's not true. We're friends."
"Friends?" She scoffed. "Are you sure? You've hardly even looked at me during the past few weeks, even when you come to my room or when I go to your room so that you can gather your data." She spoke the last few words with great disdain.
"I've been busy..." I began my excuse, but Talia cut me off with a sharp poke to my chest.
"No, you haven't!" she insisted, poking me again. "You've been avoiding me! Ever since that time we kissed!"
An itchy feeling greater than one I had ever experienced before quickly came over me.
"Are you embarrassed of me or something?" Talia continued, and she didn't wait for me to answer her question. "I swear, Henry, you are the most confusing man I have ever known! One minute I think that you're a nice person, and the next minute your insulting me. One day you kiss me, and the next day you don't even acknowledge my existence. You compliment me, and then nothing. You invite me to your room all the time, and then you never even do anything. What is your problem?"
She actually stomped her foot on the ground then, and I recoiled from her in slight fear.
I stammered out the first thing that came to my mind. "What do you mean, I invite you to my room and never do anything? We do lots of things—read books, talk about fairies. You know, lots of things."
"That's not what I mean," she snapped, taking a step toward me without altering her fierce facial expression. I took a step backward to counter her step, but she only took another. We continued this pace until the back of my legs hit the desk on the far side of the room. Talia took one additional step, strongly invading my personal space.
She went on, hardly pausing to take a breath. "We've been alone together how often over the past few weeks? And how many times have you even attempted to kiss me? I swear, Henry, I don't know what goes on in your head. Have you even thought about it? Or is research and aquatic opossums all you ever think about?"
My mouth opened and closed like a fish a few times as I tried to think of something intelligent to say. Her words caught me so much by surprise that I couldn't come up with anything coherent. The itchy feeling continued in full force.
Her foot tapped against the floor with impatience. "Well?" she spoke her signature phrase of the evening.
I cleared my throat, merely stalling for an answer. In all honesty, I hadn't really thought about it. My mind had been so wrapped up in the problem with the fairies and making sure my research was coming along to Dr. Knolls' liking that my personal relationships with anyone had been a bit overlooked. "Do—do you want me to?" I asked, feeling a lump rise in my throat. I wasn't sure what I dreaded hearing—that she did or that she didn't.
Talia released a long breath and threw her hands into the air in frustration. "Henry, you can be the most clueless person in the world sometimes. I don't know how many times I've given you hints. If I didn't speak up like this, you would probably never even notice anything, would you?"
"Notice?" I reached my hand up to my neck and pulled at my tie. Loosing it did nothing to alleviate the itchiness.
"And if I didn't take any action, nothing would ever get done," she continued.
"Done?" All I could do was repeat random words.
"Well, I've had it! It's now or never, Henry Watson. Go ahead, make your move. If you can't follow through, then there's the door!" She stomped her foot again and tilted her blond head in the direction of the wooden door.
It hit me. I finally got what this was all about. Almost laughing at how easily this would be to get through, I told her, "Talia, I'm very sorry for what I said about your freckles. I actually think you're freckles are very lovely, and I was only teasing when I made that silly comment. There would be absolutely nothing wrong with your going out in the sun today." I smiled pleasantly down at her.
Her expression did not change. If anything, her scowl deepened. "And?"
And? Oh, right, and... "And I hope that you'll accept my apology. I will be more careful in the future to avoid hurting your feelings over such issues."
She paused for a moment before reacting. Such reaction was rather dramatic, in my opinion. "Henry!" she screamed, and she reached out with one fist and slammed it down onto my chest. "You prat!"
The wind rushed out of my lungs as Talia's fist made its connection, but she didn't seem to notice. She raised the other in a movement to repeat her action. But I saw her intentions, and I reached out to grab her arms before she could assault me again.
Then I made my move. With each of her wrists locked firmly in my grip, I leaned down and pressed my lips to hers. She pulled back, surprised, but I followed her, never once breaking contact. It only took her a second to realize what had happened, and she softened, ceasing her attempts to beat me with her fists. I released my hold, but she only pushed herself closer to me, removing all space between us and pushing me back into the desk again.
My fingers found their way down to her waist, and I subconsciously wrapped my arms around her there, pressing our bodies even closer together, which seemed impossible but happened anyway. Somehow, it felt right and not nearly as inappropriate as I imagined such bodily contact would be like.
And then I toppled over as my weight shifted unevenly from pushing back against the desk. Talia came down with me, but our lip contact had finally been broken. I was embarrassed, but Talia laughed it off.
"Henry!" she beamed, still laughing.
I could feel myself becoming redder. As I was already in an embarrassing moment, I figured it couldn't hurt hurt to bring up another embarrassing topic. "So, er, I'm a little new at this. How often would you like me to do that? Minus the falling over part, of course."
Talia trailed one finger along the palm of my opened hand. "Well... as often as you'd like, I suppose." She peered at me through her long eyelashes.
I loosened my tie some more. "Once a week?" I guessed.
She reached out and tugged at my tie until one side pulled completely free. "Forget your numbers, Mr. Watson. You're wasting too much time."