NOTE: I combined this into a really long one-shot because I thought it seemed easier. :)
Of the two Shahi sisters, Nuria was the most cool-headed. She stayed calm during arguments, she used logic to solve problems, and most notably, she never, ever let her heart get involved.
This wasn't to say she was a heartless person. She was rather easy to get to know; she had a friendly, outgoing personality. But when it came to her love life, she was proud to say she'd never had a boyfriend, had never gone all the way. She had morals, somewhat prudish values other girls did not.
Vidette, however lovely she was, was on boyfriend number four, a handsome bloke called Sebastian. He was charming, witty, and almost unbearably sexy. He was the sort of person who had women lined up along the block to meet him. Vidette couldn't believe he was dating her, to tell the truth. She was a lowly sophomore, and he was in his last year of university, ready to move onto law school and become the best defense attorney Massachusetts had ever seen – at least, in his opinion.
Nuria didn't like him at all. She despised his arrogant personality, his ability to win arguments with seemingly no effort, and worst of all, his wandering eyes. She'd seen him check out every blonde, brunette, and redhead that crossed his path, even in the company of his girlfriend. Hell, she'd even caught him staring at her chest for at least a moment too long. Since then, she'd never worn a tank top in his company.
Vidette was head-over-heels; that much was obvious. Nuria had done her best to convince her sister otherwise, but as with all lovebirds, it wasn't possible.
Lately, Nuria had noticed a perceptible change in her sister's behaviour. At least before, she'd been able to have a conversation with the girl without it turning to Sebastian, but lately, it was all Vidette would talk about. And if she didn't talk about him, then he would be in their company, smirking that irritating smirk of his as his girlfriend jabbered on about something-or-the-other.
But it was better than what would come later.
She had been on her way to American Poetry, her favourite class that semester, when she'd heard the familiar voice from behind her. An involuntary sigh of exasperation escaped Nuria when two sets of footsteps approached.
Great. The boyfriend.
She spun around and feigned delight upon seeing her baby sister with a six-foot-plus tall demon. He grinned at her in that irritatingly charming way of his, as if he knew how much she despised him. He held her sister's hand tighter in his, winking at her from behind her back.
Nuria seethed, but didn't show it to him for fear of weakness. "Hi, Vidette. Sebastian."
"Always a pleasure," he answered smoothly. Vidette raised her eyebrows at Nuria pointedly. "You look nice today – if you bothered to brush your hair, you might even look as good as your sister."
He was always one to give backhanded compliments. Nuria didn't bother to touch her hair – he'd only said it to rile her up. And unfortunately, it was working.
"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind," Nuria returned in a half-hearted attempt at being civil. Sebastian's smirk was clear evidence that it wasn't working, obviously.
"Off to Poetry?" Vidette asked unnecessarily.
"Yes. Off to the Commons?"
"Yeah – Sebastian wanted to get a sweatshirt from the school store. For his little brother."
"Really?" I don't particularly care.
"Yup. So I guess I'll see you later." Vidette's lips hitched up in a half-smile, and she walked away with Sebastian. He turned his head to wink at Nuria for the second time, and she wondered what on Earth he was up to. She decided to drop all pretences – at least when her sister wasn't looking – and flipped him off the moment her sister's back was to her. It did nothing to deter him. In fact, his grin widened at the sight of her middle finger, which only served to irritate Nuria even more.
Damn that overconfident Romeo.
The first incident came when Nuria left her Gender and Discourse class. It was a fascinating subject, but it didn't hold the eternal interest for her that Poetry did. She'd been puzzling over a question her professor had asked about the philosophy of good sex versus bad sex. Because of her lack of experience in the area, Nuria had had nothing to contribute to the discussion.
She'd been pondering the theoretical background of the question when she noticed the figure leaning against the wall across from the auditorium. Her eyes immediately narrowed in suspicion.
He was staring straight at her; there was no mistaking it.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded almost immediately. Slowly, a dark eyebrow rose, and he grinned.
"What do you think I'm doing here?" he answered, cocking his head in interest.
"Why do you think I'm asking you?" she retorted.
"To cover up the fact that you think I'm waiting here for you," he said finally, his lips turning up triumphantly.
She gasped in outrage. "Excuse me?"
"I think you heard me," Sebastian said slowly, stepping away from the wall, and effectively toward her. Nuria wouldn't let herself become a nervous teenager, and stood her ground. He didn't look impressed.
"So what if I did?" she managed to say, her gaze on him like dust on furniture.
His lips slowly curled into the most devastatingly seductive smirk she had ever seen.
"Well…" he shifted slightly, slipping his hands into his pockets, "we're going to have to do something about that, don't we?"
"What do you mean?" she demanded of him. Was she actually going to catch him in the act – expose him for the ruthless playboy he was?
Before he could respond, Nuria caught sight of Vidette running down the hallway, her shoulder bag flapping against her side.
"Sorry I'm late," she said breathlessly. "Hi, Nuria." She wasted no time placing her lips on her boyfriend's, but as he kissed her, his eyes watched Nuria with the kind of look a taken man should never give to another woman.
She left the hallway quickly, careful not to look back at the smooching couple.
The second incident came a few days after the first.
Nuria had been in the Commons, reviewing her notes for a Medieval Literature test while eating her lunch. She suddenly became aware of the fact that she was being watched, and her suspicions were justified when she looked up to see her sister and Sebastian at a table nearby, eating banana splits.
Or rather, the splits were melting as Sebastian's spoon circled the bowl lazily, and Vidette's sat untouched. She was talking a mile a minute, and he was pretending to listen as his gaze continually slid over to Nuria.
Now, Nuria could agree that sometimes Vidette tended to talk a little too much, but the least he could do as her boyfriend was listen. But then she remembered who she was dealing with – Sebastian Dresden was anything but romantic, sweet and cuddly. He was the rough-and-tumble type, enough for a one-night-stand but not really boyfriend material. And this made Nuria wonder why he was with her sister.
She knew their relationship had been on the rocks for a while, as much as Vidette tried to pretend otherwise. One could tell just by observing the couple that their relationship was little more than physical. Sure, they spoke, but that was only because sex in public was offensive, not to mention illegal.
Nuria ignored him, casting him aside in favour of reading over the last of her notes. When a shadow fell over her books, however, she could no longer pretend she couldn't see them. She looked up, unnerved, but only Sebastian stood in front of her. Her sister was nowhere to be found.
When she looked around, the vague shape of Vidette's disappearing figure was visible just behind the ice-cream stand. He took a seat at her table, forgoing the apparently pointless request to sit down.
His hand still held the remaining banana split, and some of the ice cream had disappeared, although the banana was still whole.
"What's up?" he said casually.
"The sun," Nuria answered dryly.
He chuckled, spooning ice cream into his mouth. She avoided looking at his face, knowing her gaze would undoubtedly travel to his red mouth. She also tried not to notice the fact that a droplet of ice cream still clung to his bottom lip.
"Medieval Literature." She answered him curtly, subtly telling him to go away. He didn't take the hint, even though Nuria was sure he had picked up on it.
"Did I tell you about my Philosophy of Love class?" he asked, finally cutting into the banana.
"No." And who cares?
"Well, my professor was talking about the philosophy of sex today – which, as you know, is an accompaniment to love – and he posed a very interesting question for our homework today. Do you want to know what he asked?"
"Not particularly. I'm kind of busy here –"
"What is sex, Nuria?" Sebastian asked suddenly. His banana split was abandoned when he leaned forward. Nuria's head snapped up and she watched him apprehensively. And as her mind tried to wrap around the question – the outwardly straightforward question – she realized how complex it really was.
He looked at her expectantly, his lips curling into a triumphant grin as the silent moments passed. He knew she couldn't answer the question. Not only because of the complexities of it, but because –
– because she had no experience in that topic area.
"Give up?" he asked.
She scowled at him, unable to respond for lack of a response.
"I'm still composing my answer," he said, his expression growing thoughtful, "but I think it has something to do with the emotional composition of the parties involved. It's an act of love, of course, but it can also be done when one has no emotional connection to a person – you know, one-night-stands."
Nuria listened intently, despite herself, and had to admit – if only to herself – that he had a point.
"We all know how it happens – I'm speaking for myself, of course." The smirk was back. "But I also know that it's not limited to the… conventional methods."
"You mean for married couples?" Nuria put in, eyes flashing.
"No. I meant the action of it," he grinned. "No one waits to have sex after marriage nowadays."
Her nostrils flared in defiance. Sebastian knew very well her moral objections to premarital sex, and the exultant look on his face only served to heighten the frustration.
"You're speaking for yourself."
"No, I'm speaking for the general human population," he clarified, spooning the last of the banana into his mouth. "Except for you, I think. But you're just a prude."
"Excuse me?" Nuria put down her pencil much more harshly than she needed to.
"You're a prude. A killjoy. A sexually inexperienced little pariah."
"I am not, thank you – if you consider being matured as prudish, then so be it!"
"Retorting like a five-year-old is matured?" he asked, scraping the remnants of the ice cream into his spoon.
"Shut up, Sebastian."
"Fantastic comeback," he cracked, throwing the empty plastic bowl into the garbage can a few feet away. It sailed effortlessly through the air and into the wastebasket. He settled back into his seat and placed his hands behind his head, surveying her pensively.
"Sex is different for everyone," Nuria said quietly, after a few moments of silence. "Everyone approaches it in a different way. You and I, for example – you view it casually, but I think it's much more serious."
"Huh." He bit his lip as the information processed. Nuria watched him for any underlying insults, but none came. "Insightful." His lips curled into a smirk. "Never would have expected it from you."
He stood up then, slipped on his jacket, and walked away, glancing back to wink goodbye.
The third incident came the day after the second.
Nuria had had to deliver a stack of marked essays to Professor Smith during her free period at the administrational facilities, and it wasn't until she knocked on the door did she realize she was interrupting Sebastian's Philosophy of Love class.
He happened to be in the middle of a discussion, and by glancing at the board, Nuria could assume rather accurately that they were discussing the very question he had asked of her yesterday.
Sebastian stood at the front of the class, relating to them almost exactly what she'd told him, word for word.
To say she was angry was would be a gross understatement. She was absolutely furious.
Her fingers itched to throw open the door and curse him out right then and there, in front of all his classmates, to let them see him for the lying, cheating defalcator he was.
But she restrained herself. A light tap on the door was all he needed to pause in his monologue and look to the door. She watched with narrowed eyes as his widened, as he realized he was caught.
The door was opened by Smith, and Nuria explained the circumstances as to her being there. He took the marked essays with a cordial smile, and invited her to stay for the rest of the lecture. Nuria accepted, making sure to take a seat Sebastian wouldn't be able to miss her.
He cleared his throat uncomfortably, loosened his tie before beginning again.
"As I was saying…"
Nuria listened to him quickly backpedal to the less threatening subject of love in general, and as her gaze flicked to Professor Smith, she could see his brow crinkling in clear bemusement. She couldn't blame the man.
She could blame his student, however.
"Thank you, Mr. Dresden," Smith said afterwards, crossing back to the podium. "Your homework tonight, students, is to complete a one-thousand word essay on the viewpoints of copulation from as many different cultures as possible. Please make sure you have the proper footnotes and resources – I would like to see a bibliography attached to your completed project. Class dismissed."
As the students filed out, Smith's facial expression changed to one of musing. He looked as if he wanted to say something to either Nuria or Sebastian, or perhaps both of them. At the last moment, he turned back to the pile of papers she had brought in.
Sebastian left quickly, with Nuria right behind him. The corridors, by now, were less crowded than they'd been when the bell first rang, and they found themselves in the company of each other.
They were nearing the cafeteria when she suddenly grabbed his arm and tugged him backward.
"What the hell was that about?" she hissed. The look in her eyes told Sebastian that now was not a good time to play the dummy.
"Your insight made sense," he returned, offering a contrite smile. She glared at him in response, and his weak grin withered in its intensity.
"If you don't tell him, I will," she threatened.
"You stole my answers," Nuria said slowly. "You're not going to get away with it."
"I didn't steal your answers, Nuria," Sebastian replied, his voice oozing the sort of charm he used to get extra marks in class and the occasional cookie in the cafeteria. "I used your name in the monologue. In fact, I used you. I compared our differing viewpoints on the topic. Why do you think Smithy suggested it for the homework?"
"What, exactly, did you say?"
"I exaggerated a little bit, of course. I said that you were protecting your virginity like the Capital, and I, well, wasn't."
He smirked. "Why do you think I was so nervous when you walked in? Did you notice the look Mike Ferrari was giving you? He likes him his virgins."
The day it happened, Nuria heard about it from a loud conversation.
It was mostly about what a dirt-bag he was – not that Nuria could disagree – and what a pushover she was, to take his crap without saying a thing about it. She turned around to look at the two blonds, who were discussing the latest gossip over lattes.
"Sorry to interrupt, but did you just say that Vidette Shahi and Sebastian Dresden broke up?"
"Yup," the one wearing a pink halter replied, flashing a set of white teeth. "He dumped her this morning. Right out by the lake."
"Sucks for her, but at least he's available now," the other added. Her platinum blonde bob was blinding, and Nuria was momentarily thankful for the fact that she was wearing sunglasses.
"Thanks," she responded unnecessarily, before leaving the Commons. She needed to get to the bottom of this.
After crossing through the greenery – which included casually passing an auto class, a chemistry lab, and a library – Nuria found her sister in the usual spot; she was sitting on one of the stone benches and bawling her eyes out.
Nuria gritted her teeth and silently cursed Sebastian for being such a typical playboy.
Vidette looked up for a moment, her eyes red-rimmed and her cheeks caked with black tears, and looked back down to blow into her tissues. A rather large pile had accumulated beside her, some of them falling onto the floor.
She didn't have to say a word. Nuria sat beside her sister and hugged her close as she cried, murmuring comforting things about the stupidity of Sebastian and of men in general, and Vidette's tears gradually lessened as the moments passed by.
As Nuria threw away the mountainous pile of tissues, Vidette rattled off a quickly compiled list of all of Sebastian's faults, but Nuria knew it was only for her benefit that she did so. Vidette honestly believed she had done wrong to him, and she clearly still loved him as passionately as she had before. Both revelations were incredibly frustrating to her sister.
"Nuria, I know you're trying to help me and everything, but I think he had a good reason for breaking up with me." Vidette wiped the remaining of her tears, and the tissue she took away from her face was black with mascara. "I was too needy, and he didn't like that. I was the one who did wrong."
Nuria rolled her eyes when her sister wasn't looking. She'd been having this argument with her for years, and it always ended with Vidette's tears and Nuria's frustration. She couldn't understand where the girl had gotten her dangerously low self-esteem from; it was affecting every one of her relationships.
After a few more hours of conversation between the sisters, Nuria took Vidette back to her dormitory, and began the long walk to her own, which was across the campus grounds.
As she watched the sun set in a backdrop of breathtaking pink, yellow, and orange, Nuria pondered the circumstances surrounding Sebastian's apparently abrupt decision to end his and Vidette's relationship. She couldn't possibly understand what would prompt such a sudden breakup. In the back of her mind, she supposed he'd found another honey to cheat on Vidette with on the side. That rat bastard.
In defence of her sister, Nuria decided to investigate herself.
The perfect time was after classes, when she knew he'd be leisurely heading to the Commons to take a break before basketball practice. It was strange how well she knew his habits, but in reality, it was most undoubtedly because she accompanied her sister so many times when Vidette had needed to meet him there.
The next day, Nuria left class a little early, in order to have enough time to meet him under the biggest alder tree, near the ocean. It was the most coveted spot, because it offered a cool breeze, a beautiful view of the water, and lots of privacy.
Despite her best efforts, he was already sitting underneath the tree as she approached, reading a philosophy textbook about religion. For the life of her, she couldn't understand how Sebastian could be such an intellectual, philosophical fellow, and then turn around and do stupid, immature things like be an unfaithful boyfriend. Three of his friends were also with him, but Nuria, frankly, wouldn't give a damn if fifty of his friends were there. She wanted an explanation, and she was going to get one.
Her sneakers hit the pavement harder than she intended, and it alerted the four men to her presence. The other three unknowns glanced at Sebastian knowingly before turning their attention back to her. Nuria would have puzzled over it if she wasn't concentrated on something else.
"Hey, you! Heartbreaker over there!" she called, as loudly as she could. People turned to look at her, and then at Sebastian, who had an amused expression on his face. His friends were chuckling.
"Hey, you! Gorgeous over there!" he shouted back, and bystanders laughed. Sebastian grinned and winked, as was his usual. Nuria scowled and stomped over to the tree.
"What the hell were you thinking, breaking up with my sister like that?" she demanded, her voice hushed for the benefit of the still-watching spectators.
"I don't believe that's any of your business," he answered, closing his book. "Fellas, shall we?"
"Oh, no you don't," she muttered, her hand reaching out to grab his arm. "I'm not finished with you yet."
"Really, Nuria? Trying to sleep with me already?" he teased, moving away. "Vidette and I have only been exes for a day. Have some class." He waved his friends away, and they left, but she barely noticed. She was too infuriated.
"Don't flatter yourself!" Nuria hissed. "I'm here to get a plausible explanation for why you dumped my sister!"
"I'm not interested in her anymore," he replied, his voice bored. His fingers drummed the textbook he was still holding, as if he'd rather watch grass grow than have this conversation.
Nuria was taken aback. She hadn't been expecting such a straightforward answer.
"What do you mean you're 'not interested in her'? You've been dating for almost a year! What the hell happened in the past few days?"
"I realized something," Sebastian said seriously. "It made me rethink the whole relationship."
"What? That she doesn't fit into your future plans, Mr. Philosopher?" Her voice was laced with sarcasm.
Sebastian looked as if he needed to say something important, but couldn't pick out the right words. "No – she could've. She's very loyal, and sweet, and caring, and the sex was great –"
"I don't need to hear about the gory details of your relationship," Nuria interrupted. "I need a reason for why Vidette is sitting in her dorm room with a broken heart."
He didn't speak for a while. The two of them stood in complete silence, and Nuria waited patiently as he tried to come up with the right words for whatever his problem with Vidette was.
Sebastian took a deep breath.
"She's not you."
She'd left after that, of course. Because right after his little heartfelt confession, that jerk had tried to kiss her. Nuria stomped on his foot, as hard as she could, so hard it made him yell, and strode away with as much dignified purpose as a person in her position could.
He was mumbling to himself, almost as much as she was, those three little words still thumping a strange, intoxicating pattern into her brain, branding themselves to her every waking thought, clinging to her mind's eye. It was ridiculous, and at the same time, it was irresistible.
Nuria couldn't sleep that night. She couldn't sleep knowing that the reason her sister was crying herself to sleep tonight was because of her – because she had obviously done something to attract him to her, to make her seem more desirable than her sister.
She couldn't understand what it was. Vidette had always been luckier with men, simply because they saw her as a woman. Nuria was a tomboy, a playmate, until the day she finally grew boobs and became known as "The Athlete with the Great Rack."
Vidette was a womanly woman, one with her damsel-in-distress personality, her long, dewy eyelashes, and her ability to charm any man, old or young, one who could get any man she wanted, and who had stolen quite a few of them without even trying. One of her boyfriends had been a boy Nuria had had a massive heartache for, and who hadn't even given her a second glance, because she was fourteen years old and still flat-chested, while her twelve-year-old sister was quickly developing the curves of a supermodel.
That Sebastian had obviously seen something about her person much, much more attractive than the eternal beauty Vidette was puzzling. And, as much as she hated to admit it, flattering.
When Nuria saw her sister the next day, she couldn't help but feel guilty. This feeling only intensified during lunchtime, when both Shahis became aware of Sebastian's presence – and more importantly, the unflinching gaze he kept on what looked like the two of them, but was, upon closer inspection, Nuria alone.
"How about we eat inside today?" Nuria asked quickly, her voice carrying an urgency.
If Vidette heard it, she refused to acknowledge it. "But it's so sunny out," she argued.
"Yes, but we're not wearing sunscreen," her sister replied through her teeth. Vidette frowned.
"Nuria," she dropped her voice, "Sebastian's staring at me. Do you think he wants to get back together?"
Her sister's gaze flicked to the table next to a hot-dog stand, where a familiar head of hair could be seen, blue eyes peeking over a philosophy textbook. A little smile appeared on his lips when their gazes locked, but she dropped hers, focusing instead on the pattern of the tablecloth.
"I don't think you should get involved," Nuria finally said. "Let's go."
Vidette said nothing in response; she obeyed her sister, for once, perhaps noticing the perceptible change in Nuria's tone, the urgency and need to leave the Commons immediately. They made tracks, leaving their empty plates behind as the only evidence they sat there for lunch.
Sebastian's gaze was unwavering, and Nuria hated him for it.
Class that day would've been interesting – if Nuria had bothered to pay attention. She schlepped from class to class without really listening to the lessons, and in the back of her mind, she knew it was pointless to try anyway. Anything her professors spoke about, whether it was about a romantic poem or a Shakespeare sonnet, inevitably reminded her of Sebastian.
Damn that suave playboy.
After her English History class, she decided she'd go back to her dorm and take a long, hot shower. Her roommates would undoubtedly be studying at the library until dusk, and she would have it all to herself.
She took a shortcut through under the stone bridge joining the English and History buildings together, basking in the warmth of the afternoon sun and smiling to herself for the first time in days. Her thoughts of lavender bubble bath were interrupted when suddenly, someone began walking beside her, matching his steps to hers. She turned and groaned audibly when he turned his face towards her.
Those stupid baby-blues.
"Hi," he grinned, a genuine smile on his face. He had a cleft in his chin when he smiled, but she'd never noticed – probably because he'd never smiled in her presence before today.
"What do you want?" she sighed, picking at a loose thread on her jacket.
"Well," he began, dodging a freshman headed their way, "I was wondering if you'd go out with me. For dinner. Tonight."
"Are you asking me or telling me?" she said after a few minutes.
He smiled impishly. "Both."
She stopped walking, and he watched her battle with herself for a few seconds.
"I'll think about it," Nuria answered. There was a half-smile on her face when she began walking again. She planned to leave classily, but the hand on her backside soured things considerably. She whirled around and Sebastian's hand fell away, but the smirk on his admittedly good-looking face remained.
"What? Just sampling the merchandise," he winked.
She couldn't believe how confidently he could pursue her, even when she rejected him so vehemently. And the audacity of his advances – it was ridiculous! Nuria didn't bother to respond. She simply walked away with what little dignity remained after such a chauvinistic move.
Christmas break came as a welcome vacation for Nuria, although she noticed that her sister was still moping about her and Sebastian's breakup. She'd taken to listening depressing music, eating copious amounts of ice cream, and holing up in her dorm for days at a time. Nuria had tried to be supportive, but between the idiocy of Vidette's plight and the fact that Nuria had been propositioned by her sister's ex-boyfriend, she'd lost the ability to be patient with her dynamic, oversensitive sister.
One outburst later, and the two spoke to each other with curt, tense tones. And of course, this left Nuria with handfuls of time to try desperately not to think about Sebastian and how nice his hand had felt on her arse.
Nuria and Vidette's parents were calm, easygoing people, but when it came to their daughters' education, they were strict and unwavering. With the vacation came semester reports, and while Vidette – as usual – had managed to score at least an A in every class, Nuria was lagging behind almost embarrassingly. One subject had been her downfall; Gender and Discourse, somehow, had fallen to a B when she wasn't looking.
The entire two weeks was, as a result, one giant lecture on the importance of good grades in university, and how they impacted one's career and rest-of-life endeavours. The lecture concluded with the promise of raising the grade, getting a tutor, and focusing on the important things.
Vidette gloated the entire time; it was the perfect table-turner for the girl who'd always been pontificated on her marks in high school, when English and History and all the quote-unquote "nonsense subjects" had been compulsory.
Nuria cursed Sebastian at every moment, because she knew, deep down, that the reason her mark was suffering was because every time she walked into that class, he managed to pop in, whether it was to drop off papers for the professor, pick up notes he'd left behind, or to actually stay for the class, sit in the empty seat beside her, and bother her for the entire hour the class lasted. Thus, Nuria never had time to take notes, ask questions, or even pay attention to what the teacher was saying. He always distracted her, damn him.
To make matters worse, Sebastian regularly sent her Facebook messages – he was friends with her through her sister. She had rejected his messages many times – asking her about her Christmas break, what she was wearing, and many more inappropriate questions, some of which Nuria couldn't believe she was reading.
She finally sent him one message, telling him to leave her alone in less friendly terms, and that she would block him if he wasn't careful. He was amicable in his response, and wished her a merry Christmas, with another one of his backhanded compliments. Infuriated, Nuria decided to just delete the whole account in general; if he couldn't talk to her directly, she was sure he'd spend time looking at her Facebook page, and there were more than a few intimate things on it she didn't want him seeing.
After one last homemade meal, Nuria and Vidette took a train back to their university, and back to the uncertainty that was her relationship with Sebastian.
Nuria and Vidette made up sometime during the break, and after seeing how many times Sebastian had messaged Nuria, Vidette had to ask.
"What's that all about?" She gestured at Nuria's overflowing inbox.
"Sebastian's just asking me for my opinion about something for his Philosophy of Love class," Nuria answered, clicking off of her account. She didn't want to risk her sister actually seeing the messages, and further destroying her relationship with Nuria.
"Does he ever... talk about me?" Vidette asked hopefully.
Nuria hesitated. She had to formulate an answer that wouldn't encourage Vidette, but wasn't too hurtful also. It was a delicate balance, and one she had to deal with on a constant basis when interacting with her sister, and her sister's ex-boyfriend.
"No, but it's because he and I have a strictly professional relationship. We don't talk about our personal lives," Nuria finally responded. Vidette nodded and took a sip of the coffee she was drinking, but she looked wistful.
"I really want to get back together with him, though," she admitted. Nuria sighed.
"Vidette, he's a jerk. End of story."
"But he has to have a reason for it. I must've done something wrong."
"N – Vidette, relax. You didn't do a thing wrong. He just doesn't know how to handle a serious relationship."
"Maybe he found a girl with bigger boobs than me," Vidette mused.
Nuria rolled her eyes. "I doubt there's a girl on campus with bigger boobs than you."
"Really?" She looked down at her chest doubtfully. "But I'm only a 36C."
"Yes, but you're also more developed than most of the 24-year-old graduate students I see walking around. And more attractive. You can do better than him, Vidette." Nuria poked her sister's side encouragingly.
"But he's just so..."
"I swear," Nuria said, "if you tell me he's perfect, I will pour that coffee down your sweater."
Vidette laughed. "I wasn't going to say that," she lied.
"Yeah, you were." The two sisters were quiet after that.
Nuria's roommate Paige poked her head in about fifteen minutes later.
"Where's Phoebe?" she asked, looking slightly panicked.
"Sleeping. She's got track at four a.m., remember?" Nuria said good-naturedly.
"I need to borrow a tank top of hers – I'm going out tonight and it's the only one I can wear without a bra."
"Geez, Paige. Hot date?"
"My boyfriend's in town," she shrugged. "I think I'll just sneak it out of her closet."
"It's in the top drawer, actually," Nuria pointed. "But be careful. She's got a crystal vase rolled up in her underwear."
Vidette looked at her sister strangely.
"It's a birthday present for her mom," Nuria explained.
Paige quickly located the shirt and left with a quick thank-you. Vidette decided it was time to turn in, and left right after her. Almost five seconds after Vidette disappeared out of the door, Nuria's laptop beeped. It was a new Facebook message.
Hello, beautiful. Still making up your mind about our date?
Nuria gritted her teeth.
No. I've decided. The answer is NO.
After that last message, Nuria's inbox became strangely empty. When a few days had passed and she found herself being able to check her Facebook messages without any bombardment of emails, she decided that maybe she wouldn't have to delete the account.
If karma existed, however, it had apparently decided that she would have to pay in some small way for rejecting Sebastian's offer.
It came in the form of an overheated engine.
She had been driving to the nearby grocery store for some weekend snacks – to accompany her long, arduous study sessions – when all of a sudden, her car had decided that it had been worked too hard. When it began to sputter and start, Nuria cursed to herself and pulled over to the side of the road.
She turned off the gas and leaned back in her seat for a minute, drawing on her limited knowledge of the mechanics of cars. In exasperation, she hit the steering wheel, and the sudden honk of the horn made her jump, as well as some of the other vehicles barrelling down the road beside her. A few drivers gave her dirty looks, and Nuria managed weak smiles in return.
She slumped down in the seat and raked her fingers through her hair.
"Why does this always have to happen to me?" she demanded of herself.
After a few moments of angry reflection, she got out of the car and decided to take a look. She popped the bonnet, something she had never done before, and surveyed the jumble of indistinguishable pieces of metal that somehow bonded together to make the ancient Ford run.
Her gaze fell on the smoke wafting out of a large, square-shaped contraption, and concluded that this, whatever it was, was causing her problem. She put her hands on her hips and sighed.
In a few moments, her answer arrived. Her cell phone vibrated from the pocket of her cargo shorts. Nuria pulled out the Android and took a look at her Facebook page; it had alerted her to a new message in her inbox. She'd kept it open because she was expecting a response from the Guidance Office about her new tutor.
Instead, she found herself staring at another message from the annoyingly persistent Sebastian.
Guess who your new tutor is? That's right, bedhead. It's me.
"'Bedhead?'" she muttered. "Who the hell does he think he is?"
Against her better judgement, and possibly because of the fact that she was standing alone on the side of the road with a malfunctioning car coupled with a terribly irritating message from her sister's ex-boyfriend, Nuria typed a rather desperate response.
I'm stuck on the side of the road with a car that won't start. I am not in the mood for jokes, Sebastian.
His response was almost simultaneous.
Are you serious?
She gritted her teeth in annoyance. What do you think?
Where are you?
She paused. That was a response she was not expecting. She thought he would've mocked her for being so stupid as to not get her car checked, or possibly send her a pair of spark plugs as a present. But this? This was so very unlike him. Nuria was almost instantly suspicious.
Why? she typed.
Why do you think?
I don't know. That's why I'm asking you.
So I can come and take a look at your car. Come on, bedhead, you're smarter than that.
We're friends, aren't we?
Were they friends? Nuria had thought they were more acquaintances by association, before; he had been dating her sister. But now that they had broken up, and the entire mess he'd put her through before Christmas break, Nuria wasn't sure at all of what their relationship was.
I guess so, she finally said. I'm at 7th and Kensington. It's a lonely road, so you'll be able to find me. My car's a Ford Fiesta 2001. It's pink.
Pink? Whose idea was that?
There was, predictably, no response to Nuria's answer. She expected as much. The topic of Vidette had become a touchy subject.
Nuria waited for ten minutes, looking up and down the road every so often. No cars slowed down to help her, but she didn't anticipate any to. People were very cautious in this part of town, especially with people who owned prehistoric Ford Fiestas. But, lo and behold, her proverbial knight in shining armour eventually decided to show up, driving a brand-spanking-new BMW.
Sebastian was behind the wheel, the trademark smirk on his face. He parked the car behind hers and stepped out, carrying a bright red toolbox.
"Couldn't come unprepared, now could I? And damn, is that car an eyesore." He eyed it dubiously, as if expecting it to go to pieces any time. Nuria glared at him.
"Just fix whatever the hell is wrong with it," she ordered, "and stop being such an asshole."
"Me? What about you? Calling the person who's about to fix your car an asshole?" Sebastian smirked. "Tsk, tsk, Nuria. Manners."
But he went to work almost immediately. Nuria watched him open his toolbox and locate the right instrument after taking one look at her car. A few twists here, a few pulls there, and the puffs of smoke emerging from the square-shaped device in the Fiesta's bonnet had dissipated. She was surprised at how quickly he'd done it, and with no witty insults, quips or sarcastic remarks. He had been completely focused on what he was doing.
"Start it up," Sebastian said. He looked at her expectantly, and Nuria realized what he'd said.
"Oh – sure." She blushed, embarrassed. She climbed into the driver's seat and turned on the ignition. She had to admit, she was a little surprised to hear it start; Sebastian seemed like the kind of person who'd only give the impression that he knew what he was doing.
He gave her a thumbs-up and closed the bonnet. Nuria lowered the window and he peered in.
"Well, the inside looks like an improvement," he remarked. "Clean."
"Not this time," he grinned. That stupid smile was so annoyingly attractive – damn it!
"How much do I owe you?" Nuria reached for her purse.
"Simple: a date."
Nuria scowled. "I am not going on a date with you, I already told you that!"
"Yes," Sebastian agreed, "but now, there are extenuating circumstances."
Extenuating circumstances, my big toe.
"Here." She dug out a twenty-dollar bill and pushed it at him. "And that's all you're getting."
With her last, witty retort, Nuria sped off, leaving the philosophy-student-cum-overconfident-playboy in the dust. Quite literally.
Attempting to do homework – homework she had previously failed at doing – while listening to music was proving to be a difficult challenge. The music, coupled with the incessant dings coming from her computer across the room, alerting her to the activities of her Facebook friends, was enough to completely frustrate Nuria.
She closed her Gender and Discourse textbook with a sigh and put away her books. It was apparent that no studying was going to happen today. Instead, though she knew it was the wrong thing to do academically, she sat at her laptop and clicked through her messages. The usual junk was there, but a few of her old high school pals had messaged her. She fired off a few responses, and was just about to clear the entire inbox when her roommate Phoebe burst into the room, wearing the brightest t-shirt Nuria had ever had the pleasure of seeing on a person.
"Where's my tank top? You know the one with the sparkles?" asked Phoebe.
"Uh... Paige borrowed it. She had a date." Nuria braced herself for some sort of outburst. Phoebe was a very emotional person, in more ways than one, and Nuria had forgotten how much she hated when people took her things without permission.
"Ugh! Nuria! I have a job interview today and that's my only dress shirt!" Phoebe cried. She raked her fingers through thick, wavy hair and flounced onto her bed, burying her face in the pillow.
"Relax, Phoebe. I've got something you can wear," said Nuria, suppressing a smile at her friend's antics. "Stop being such a drama queen." She dug through her closet and pulled out a scoop-neck blouse, professional enough for an interview and still somehow managing to blend in with Nuria's tomboy wardrobe of jeans, sweaters and t-shirts.
Phoebe breathed out a sigh of relief. "Thanks, Nuria. You'll never know how much this means to me." She hugged the blouse to her chest. "Oh, wait." She pulled something out of the pocket of her jeans and handed it to Nuria. "It's from Sebastian Dresden. He said it's some project. Anyway, I'll see you later."
"Tell me how the interview goes," called Nuria. When the dorm door closed behind Phoebe, her eyes dropped to the note Phoebe had just handed her.
"'Project?'" said Nuria, incredulous. She didn't believe it for one second. Undoubtedly, that was the excuse he had fed Phoebe, sweet, naïve Phoebe, to get it to Nuria. She was almost afraid to open it, afraid of what lows he'd stooped to in order to get her to go out with him. Or perhaps, she was more afraid that whatever it was, she would finally break down and agree to it. Betray her sister.
With uncharacteristically shaky fingers, Nuria broke the seal on the envelope. A folded-up note was inside, but that wasn't all. It was accompanied by a crisp, twenty-dollar bill. The twenty-dollar bill she had given Sebastian the day before, in the middle of the street after he'd fixed her car. The money fell to her carpet when she opened the note, expecting some sort of accompaniment, or at least an explanation for why he'd sent her back the payment. What she received instead was the most devastatingly salacious, erotic letter she'd ever read in her life. It was crafted specifically for the purpose of making her nervous, or worse, making her want him.
But she did.
Nuria blinked several times, the insinuation of the letter imprinting itself into her mind, and crumpled up the note. A few moments later, it was flushed down the toilet, disappearing into the bowels of the earth and as far as it could get from her.
The next day in class, Gender and Discourse, specifically, Nuria was actually beginning to get into the lesson when a knock came at the door.
"Come in," the professor called. For a moment, Nuria was genuinely interested in who was at the door, until she remembered the complexities of last semester that had caused her poor mark in this class. But she remembered too late. Sebastian opened the door and entered the classroom, a self-satisfied smirk on his face. He didn't look at her, however, despite knowing of her presence in the classroom very well. He'd spent the whole of last semester making unscheduled appearances in the middle of class, and because he had the female professor wrapped around his little finger, he was never met with any administrational animosities.
"Sebastian," said Professor Kilburn, a blush coming to her cheeks. "What are you doing here?"
"Just making my rounds," he replied, finally turning his head to the auditorium of students. His gaze scanned the audience and predictably paused when it landed on her. His smirk widened, but he said nothing to her, or to anyone else. "What are we learning about today?"
"We're just discussing the role of women in early Europe," said Professor Kilburn. "Care to join in?"
"No, I think I'll stay out of this one. But," he said, "I would like to know what Nuria's opinion is."
Predictably, the entire auditorium's attention was turned towards her. She couldn't even glare in Sebastian's direction without looking like an idiot.
"I – I guess I'd say that women were both oppressed and oppressors," Nuria blinked. The professor, who before had barely glanced in her direction, now looked at Nuria with an impressed look on her face.
"Would you care to expand on that...Nuria?" She looked to Sebastian for confirmation. A slight inclination of his head was his approval.
"They were oppressed by the dominant men in society, who were the heads of families and ultimately made all the family decisions," said Nuria, growing more confident. "And they were oppressors because, by complying with society's rules, they allowed those who were worse off than them – for example, slaves – to be used in inhuman ways."
Sebastian applauded first, and the rest of the class joined in, somewhat reluctantly.
"Well –" Kilburn now looked at Nuria admiringly. "I believe this class would benefit greatly from your input, Nuria. Excellent."
Nuria beamed. Sebastian watched her face light up and smiled to himself.
"Thanks, Professor," he said. "I won't disturb your class any more than I have to." He winked at Nuria and mouthed 'you're welcome.' As predicted, she blushed, unsure of whether to thank him or to flip the bird. He had just put her in a positive light with her professor, which was already a huge step toward getting a better grade. And he hadn't even begun tutoring her yet.
That was when he'd pull out all the stops.
Nuria left Gender and Discourse with a blissed-out smile on her face, evidential of how class had gone that day. It withered somewhat when she noticed the figure standing just outside of the auditorium, waiting. She sighed to herself. He'd probably cornered her for a proper thank-you.
"What do you want, Sebastian?" she asked.
"Did you get my note?" he replied, a knowing smile playing about his lips.
"Yes," she sniffed. "And I flushed it down the toilet, that's how dirty it was."
"Really?" he said softly.
He leaned against the wall with his shoulder, facing her sideways. "Well, I wasn't really expecting you to show up at my dorm wearing nothing but a lace teddy, but did it at least get your motor running?"
She scoffed in aversion. "You're repulsive, Sebastian. Get out of my way." She pushed past him, and was almost near the end of the hallway when he spoke.
"I'll take that as a yes," he called after her. She didn't respond.
Nuria headed for the library with a heavy heart when she finished her last class of the day. After the disgustingly chauvinistic display Sebastian had put on in the hallway earlier, she was not looking forward to dealing with him for a full two hours. But a part of her was put off by what he did in her G & D class today. He had casually slunk in (as per usual) but then, he had done something so incredibly unlike him. Nuria was still reeling from his unexpected question.
The library was full today, probably because it was the day before the weekend and every student wanted to get in some last minute homework before traipsing off to their respective parties. Nuria's roommates weren't the party type, like herself, so usually they went out for drinks at the local pub or had a girls' night in. Vidette wasn't a party girl, either, but Sebastian, of course, being Sebastian, enjoyed popping in at neighbouring residences and doing shots with his fraternity brothers, with or without Vidette. And of course, when he was drunk, he was even more insufferable.
Sebastian wasn't there, obviously; it was too much to expect her tutor – to use that word to describe Sebastian was simply not fair – to be on time for a simple study session. With a sigh, Nuria chose a table in the relative vicinity to the books she would probably need over the course of the hour. One small victory in this, she supposed, was that Sebastian was her tutor through the school, and she would, as a result, not have to pay for his services.
She didn't have to wait long for him, however. A mere five minutes after Nuria arrived, Sebastian sauntered into the library, his gaze predictably ping-ponging from girl to girl as he did so. And of course, because he was Sebastian Dresden, every girl he glanced at did more than glance at him; in fact, Nuria was pretty sure she'd seen a few of them undressing him with their eyes. She suppressed a shudder of repugnance.
"And when did you get here?" Sebastian was smirking down at her, triumphant. "A bit too eager, aren't we? Not a very attractive trait, Nuria."
She ignored him, figuring his ribbing was only to rile her up. "Can we just get this over with?"
"If you'd put on a sweater, maybe I could concentrate," he replied, the expression on his face looking as if he'd rather she didn't. And for that reason, she rummaged in her bag for a hoodie.
"Happy?" said Nuria, once she'd pulled it on.
"Mmm." When she looked up at him for a more coherent response, he was still staring in the general area of her chest, the tip of his tongue peeking out of his mouth. What on Earth was his tongue doing out of his mouth?
"Okay," Sebastian said suddenly, seeming to snap out of wherever he had been. "Gender and Discourse. Also known as Dirty Talk," he grinned, the dimple in his chin deepening.
"Also known as the bane of my existence," Nuria put in. "Even more so, now."
"And what is that supposed to mean?" asked Sebastian. She raised her eyebrows.
"Are you referring to the fact that I'm your tutor?"
"Well, I can tell you that thanks to me, I've had at least twenty different students pass their courses with nothing less than an eighty, as well as win a few awards with their essay-writing." Sebastian's chest puffed out with pride, as if he was reciting his resume and she was the prospective employer.
"Oh, shut up," Nuria muttered, opening her G & D textbook. "You haven't even taken Gender and Discourse."
"So how could you possibly land yourself a tutoring job with me?" she demanded. The librarian, who had been watching them warily, shushed the both of them. They apologized quickly, but Nuria's annoyance had not lessened whatsoever.
"I pulled a few strings," said Sebastian, leaning back in his chair. "And you'd better not ask why, Nuria."
"Oh, come on," she said. "You can't be serious about that 'she's not you' crap –"
"Excuse me," Sebastian interrupted. "That 'crap,'" he gestured with air quotes, "is my feelings. And as of right now, those feelings are –"
"Bull. I know your history."
"What history –"
"I know how many girls – not including my sister – that you've wrapped around your finger with 'I like you' or 'you're beautiful' and then broken up with as soon as you found someone new." Nuria whispered heatedly, both to appease the librarian and because she didn't want others overhearing. "And I know that there's no way you could possibly be pursuing me unless you have an ulterior motive. So what is it, Sebastian? A bet? Maybe with your perverted friend Mike Ferrari, who, if I recall, 'likes him his virgins'?" She sat back in her chair triumphantly, relishing the fact that for once, Sebastian Dresden had nothing to say.
But her mood evaporated when she saw the look on his face. The look of hurt. She almost reeled back in surprise – that Sebastian would ever have that look on his face was unthinkable.
"No, Nuria," he said bitterly. "There is no ulterior motive. There's only the truth." He picked up his bag and stood up from the chair. "And the truth is that I like you."
It was Sebastian's turn to leave, his movements going out of the library stoic and detached – rejected. He looked at no one as he left. Nuria was alone at the table, her previous beliefs about Sebastian and men like him shattered. There was nothing staged about his behaviour today. He had revealed the softer side of himself to her, and she had rejected him coldly. And now, she feared, things may have veered from bad to worse.
Vidette, since her breakup with Sebastian, had begun to let herself go. And by 'letting herself go,' Nuria meant that she was indulging in a full-of-fat chocolate milkshake. Even if she tried to look as if she was diversifying her diet – for example, the banana split Sebastian had bought for her on more than one occasion, conveniently ending up either face-down on the ground or in the trash – she watched what she ate. She also exercised, but it was more in the form of Pilates or yoga than hard-core sports. There was, however, one sport Vidette was naturally talented in – soccer. Somehow, she always kicked Nuria's arse whenever they played, and it was why Nuria never offered a game up anymore.
Nuria preferred vanilla milkshakes, and she supposed it was also indicative of the fact that she was apparently a vanilla sort of person. At least, according to Sebastian. And speaking of – Nuria hadn't seen hide nor hair of him since yesterday in the library, and they were supposed to be meeting later that night for some study-time. She decided she would apologize for being a jerk, but she wouldn't go out with him. She was still wary of his sudden change in demeanour, after all. That natural suspicion wasn't about to change anytime soon.
"You know," said Vidette, sipping her milkshake thoughtfully, "I've been seeing a lot of Sebastian this semester."
Nuria stiffened at the mention of his name. "Yeah? Why?"
"His Ethics class is in the same building as Calculus." A smile had involuntarily come to Vidette's face, and Nuria groaned inwardly.
"Watch yourself, Vid," said Nuria. "That's all I can say."
"Well..." As soon as Nuria saw the slightly guilty look on her baby sister's face, she knew Vidette had most certainly not been watching herself.
"Vidette," sighed Nuria. "What happened?"
"Nothing," shrugged Vidette. "We talked."
"Stuff. School. Work. He mentioned he was tutoring you. Thanks for letting me know, by the way."
"He's just tutoring me. It's not a big deal." Now it was Nuria's turn to shrug.
"But Nuria," Vidette bit her lip, wet from the milkshake. "I think he was flirting with me."
"What?" Nuria barked. Vidette threw her a bemused glance.
"He kept complimenting me – my hair, my makeup, my boobs –"
"Ugh," said Nuria, running her fingers through dark, tangled locks. "Ignore him."
"You know that's easier said than done," said Vidette. "He's gotten really gorgeous over the winter break. I think he went to the Bahamas or something."
"Montego Bay, actually," Nuria murmured absentmindedly. When she saw Vidette's bewildered expression, she remembered. She wasn't supposed to know such intimate things about him. "I mean, that's what I heard," she clarified.
He had mentioned it in one of the hundred Facebook messages he had sent her – back when he was still an obnoxious jerk – along with an invitation to join him next time he visited. He'd enclosed a photograph of the beach, which admittedly was pretty fantastic, but Nuria had deleted the email in an attempt to keep away from temptation. And what a sweet temptation it was...
"Are you still dating that Mark person?" asked Nuria, praying Vidette would say yes.
"Nope," chirped Vidette. "I broke up with him last week. All he would ever talk about was robots. It got boring after a while."
"But – Vidette. You love robots. You talked robots all Christmas break," Nuria protested. "How could it ever get boring?"
Vidette shrugged. "Besides, I think he's got a girlfriend in Florida," she added. "At least, that's the rumour. Why were you asking about Mark, anyway?"
"I was just hoping you weren't available."
"Why?" Vidette looked as if she knew the answer, but was just playing the ditz part again, the same way she did when she was trying to pick up a guy. Honestly. The girl could build a computer from scratch, program a robot and do calculus without an issue, but when it came to the opposite sex, especially choice members of the opposite sex, she melted like an ice cube out of the freezer. It was extremely infuriating.
Nuria gave her sister a look, complete with raised eyebrows. "You know every well 'why.'"
Vidette sighed. "Nuria, I think I'm old enough to make decisions on my own. Especially when it comes to dating."
"Sebastian broke your heart, Vidette, need I remind you –"
"Shouldn't you be focusing on bringing up your G & D mark?" interrupted Vidette. Damn.
"Shouldn't you be focusing on... oh, God, what's the use?" Nuria threw her hands up in frustrated defeat, and abandoned her sister at the lunch table they'd been sitting at. The vanilla milkshake, however, stayed with her. Some things were just too good to leave behind, even after making a defeated exit.
After the losing argument she'd gotten into with Vidette, Nuria was looking forward to a relaxing afternoon with a book and some music; at least, until she had to meet Sebastian. But her plans were foiled when, upon unlocking the door to her dorm room, a pulsing techno beat echoed throughout the room. The same annoying phrase was repeated over and over again, in a never-ending loop.
"'Shut up and sleep with me?'" muttered Nuria. "Phoebe? What in the world are you listening to?"
"Actually," a familiar female voice replied, "it's Paige. And the song's called –"
"Let me guess. Shut Up and Sleep with Me. By a band called, I don't know – Climax? Orgasm?"
Paige appeared in the doorway to the bedroom, from where the music appeared to be pouring out of. She was grinning from ear to ear, her hair in a messy bun and her body clothed in her sweatpants-and-tank-top staple. "You got the song right," she laughed, "but the band's called Sin with Sebastian."
"Are you kidding me?" Nuria marched past Paige and into the bedroom, burying her head underneath the pillow on her bed. What were the odds of a song called 'Shut Up and Sleep with Me' being by a band called 'Sin with Sebastian?' Was this some sort of supernatural call, a hint to what she should do about her ongoing Sebastian problem? Because if it was, she most certainly was not going to go through with it.
"Maybe I should send Sebastian Dresden the link," Paige said thoughtfully. "He'd probably appreciate it." The song ended, changing quickly to one by Joseph Arthur. Nuria sat up in the bed, relieved that the Sebastian song had finished.
"You have his email?" Nuria couldn't help asking.
"No. But I have his Facebook. I think everyone does." Paige shrugged. "We talk sometimes. He seems nice."
Nice? Nuria wanted to spit. Sebastian is not nice.
"And I hear he's single," Paige continued, a little smile playing about her lips. "Maybe you could put in a good word for me?"
"Me?" Nuria was confused – and worried. "Why me?"
"He's tutoring you, isn't he?" Paige asked.
"Oh. Right. Uh, Paige, maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea to go for him. I mean, he has a bit of a reputation, you know."
"You mean his playboy status?" Nuria nodded. "Doesn't matter. I'm not looking for a serious relationship," said Paige. "Just a fling."
"Be careful," Nuria warned.
"Okay, Mom." Paige laughed. "Honestly, sometimes you're such a –"
"Prude?" Nuria sighed. "I've heard that one before."
Nuria stalled a bit before going to her study meeting. She figured Sebastian would breeze in afterward, and she would be waiting around for him as she did last week. But when she got to the library ten minutes later than they'd agreed, Sebastian was sitting at the requisite table, looking irritated. It was another first, seeing that kind of expression on his face. There was no trace of a smirk or even of playfulness in his gaze. He looked sour.
"Sorry I'm late," she said, dumping her books on the chair across from him.
"Not a problem," replied Sebastian, his tone of voice cool. "Do you have your assignment finished?"
"The essay, you mean?" He nodded. "Yeah, it's right here." Nuria passed the thick document across the table. Sebastian took his time going through it, perusing the hastily-written essay without a trace of urgency. Nuria tapped her pen impatiently against the desk. Sebastian looked up at her after a bit, his eyes telling her to stop. She did, mostly because she was surprised. Usually he was the irritating one.
He handed it back to her some time later, capping the red pen he'd used to mark it as he did so. As Nuria flipped through her formerly pristine essay, she gave a surprised gasp when she saw the number of red circles, crosses, and corrections. Sebastian crossed his arms and watched her read his comments.
"Are you kidding me?" she said incredulously. "Word choice? It's my essay, don't you think I should have a say in how it's written?"
He leaned forward. "The words you chose don't fit into the context of the sentence," Sebastian replied. "If I were a professor, I'd probably give that essay an eighty at most."
"It's not that great," Sebastian shrugged. "At least, for an English essay."
Now, Nuria's gaze was dubious. "Your verdict isn't biased, is it Sebastian?"
"Excuse me?" He leaned forward, his face changing into one of a defensive nature. "I'm not critiquing you, Nuria. Your essay needs to be spruced up. You're not writing it in a logical way. Your writing is personal and too involved." He pointed out an entire paragraph he had circled. "It's clouding your judgement."
"I can't help it," said Nuria, her turn to be defensive. "The way women were treated is just brutal. As a woman –"
"Whining about it isn't going to help," Sebastian interrupted. "I don't need a rant about unfairness and sexism. I can get that from a blog post. I need arguments, good strong arguments that will convince me of your opinion."
She opened her mouth to respond, but thought better of it. Damn him and his logical arguments. "Fine," Nuria muttered. "I'll fix it."
"Good," said Sebastian. "Now, let me take a look at that homework."
By the time Nuria left the library – a full four hours after she'd gone in – she had a very different view of her writing. Sebastian was an excellent tutor, very deserving of his reputation, and he had proved it when he pointed out errors in her grammar, conventions, and writing itself. And the most amazing thing about it was that there wasn't a trace of condescension in his tone at all. She hadn't thought it was possible for him to speak about something so confidently without being arrogant, but he was. He was supportive of her arguments, in agreement most of the time. By the end, he'd suggested a few books for Nuria to read, to spruce up the arguments in her essay.
At the end of the tutoring session, things became awkward. They packed up their respective things, unsure of what to say to each other. Finally, Nuria had turned to Sebastian and said, "Thank you. For the help."
He had nodded in response. "You're welcome," he'd replied. And then he smiled, a little pull of his lips.
Nuria had been about to leave when he stopped her.
"Nuria." It annoyed her, how much she enjoyed hearing him say her name. When he used to say it, his tone was playful and arrogant. Now, he said it with respect. "I'm sorry," Sebastian had said. "I guess I was critiquing you more than the essay."
"No problem," Nuria replied quickly. "'Bye."
And she'd left as quickly as she could, because no way had she ever heard Sebastian apologize for anything he ever did. When he spilled ice cream on her weeks ago, when he and Vidette had still been dating, when she tripped over his stray foot in a hurry, and even when he'd broken up with Vidette herself, those two little words had not escaped his lips. The fact that he had apologized, and so easily, too, was indicative of how he felt towards her. A sudden jolt of guilt went through her, and she couldn't help herself. She'd looked back. He had been watching her leave, but when their gazes locked, he looked down, suddenly preoccupied with the buckle on his shoulder bag.
Now she walked back to her dormitory, confusion muddling her brain. What was she supposed to do now? She had never been in this kind of situation before. It had been complicated enough, Sebastian pursuing her while he was in a relationship with her sister. But now that they had broken up, and Sebastian had somehow done a complete turnaround in personality, Nuria was puzzled. Did she still have an obligation to her sister, to not go after Sebastian because he was Vidette's ex-boyfriend? And with regards to her feelings in general – how did she feel about Sebastian? The things she asked of herself were ones she had no answers to, and when Nuria pulled out the key to her dorm, she hoped one of her roommates would be in there, willing to answer some questions of a purely hypothetical nature. At least, that was what she hoped they would believe.
"I want all of your essays in the basket before you leave," said Nuria's Gender and Discourse professor. "No exceptions."
Nuria took a deep breath and clutched the package to her chest, following the crowd of students as they gathered at the teacher's desk to deposit their European History of Women essays. While she waited for the mass of people to dissipate, she quickly looked over her paper, breathing a sigh of relief when she saw that it was free of grammatical errors. After meeting with Sebastian a few more times, they had tweaked it together until it seemed suitable enough to hand in.
Speaking of, Sebastian had not made even one pass at her in the several tutoring sessions they'd had. He fit the part of the teacher, gently prodding her along to the objective, helping her become a better writer and a more logical debater. Several of the homework assignments he'd helped her with had earned her excellent marks, and also assisted in her becoming a favourite of the teacher. Her mark in the class was – compared to last semester – much higher, and because she had such a complete understanding of the curriculum, Nuria was more able to participate in discussions. Sebastian's cues about logical, detached arguments carried through in Nuria's debates with her fellow classmates and Professor Kilburn, who was obviously noticing the dramatic change in Nuria's academic performance. Truthfully, Nuria was enjoying the course even more than she had previously, despite the fact that she had had to drop a course she had wanted to take this semester in order to make up for it.
She was truly grateful to Sebastian for his unrelenting passion and drive as a tutor. It made her wonder why he didn't go into teaching – he was certainly good at it.
"Miss Shahi?" Professor Kilburn called. Nuria snapped back to the present, mechanically putting her essay into the basket. As she went to pick up her books and head to the quad for lunch, she picked up a few snippets of the conversation two girls who sat in front of her were having.
"Really? He asked her out again?" the redhead squeaked. She was wearing a pair of ratty old jeans with a surprisingly elegant, lacy top, a juxtaposition in its own right.
"Yeah. Connor told me," said the other. Her hair was tied in a fishtail braid. "And apparently she said yes. I think she's desperate."
"Well, you know girls like her. They always need some arm candy with 'em. It's like they'll die or something without a boyfriend!" the girl in the lacy top replied.
"But Sebastian Dresden. He's one of the yummiest arm candies of them all, and he's hooked up with her again?"
"Maybe she's good in the sack."
"Or maybe," and the brunette sounded thoughtful, "he's trying to make someone jealous."
"Who?" the first girl demanded. "Who could it possibly be?"
"Well, it's obvious. Who's the only girl we've seen Sebastian Dresden with for the past – I don't know – three weeks?"
"Nuria Shahi." There was a gasp as the redhead apparently realized something. "Oh! You don't think –"
"Duh," said the brunette. "We've got a love triangle going on here." She smiled smugly, obviously pleased with herself for figuring it out first, and turned to pick up her jacket from the back of the chair. In an instinctive glance, she looked up. Her eyes widened when she saw Nuria standing there, hands on her hips and looking very pissed off.
"Let's go," the girl said, and the two juniors hustled out of the auditorium as quickly as they could.
Nuria left shortly after. She had a bone to pick with a certain contradictory senior. Apparently, he didn't know how to keep his hands to himself.
She found him underneath the biggest willow tree on campus, reading from a book entitled European Women: Owners or Slaves? Under very different circumstances, Nuria would have been impressed with his broadened range of reading material, but right now, she wanted answers. It seemed she would always want answers from the brute, and whether or not he would give them to her was their entire conflict. And she could tell something had changed in his personality once again. He stood erect against the tree trunk, his posture straight and confident. As girls passed by, he looked up, winking at quite a few – none of which, of course, were his girlfriend. Having a significant other, ironically, seemed to have spurred his flirtatious side, the same side Nuria thought had been finally stifled, at least in the past few weeks he had been single.
Apparently, she was wrong. Terribly wrong.
Whether he had seen her coming or not, she didn't know. But when Nuria stopped directly in front of him, eyes blazing with fury on behalf of her sister and another emotion she refused to acknowledge because it was simply too silly, Sebastian looked up from his book. He grinned and closed it firmly, letting the hand with the book fall to his side.
"Afternoon, gorgeous," said Sebastian. "How'd the assignment go? Did Kilburn like the essay?"
She brushed off his questions. "I'm not here about the assignment, Sebastian. I'm here about something I heard earlier."
"Actually, I've been meaning to discuss some of this oppressed-or-oppressors stuff with you." He held up the book as explanation. "I guess you had the same thought."
"No, Sebastian, I didn't. What I heard had nothing to do with history."
"What was it, then?" He leaned back against the tree, watching her with a sly little smile. He knew.
"When did you get back together with Vidette?" asked Nuria, her tone barely masked with courteousness.
"A couple days ago," said Sebastian, casually checking his watch. "Right after you left the library, actually. By the way, you're welcome for that tip about the hunting."
"Be quiet, Sebastian," Nuria said, supremely irritated. "Why did you ask her out again?"
He shrugged. "I was bored," was his explanation.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Nuria demanded, abandoning the somewhat civil tone altogether when Sebastian spoke so casually about his relationship with Vidette. It infuriated her to no end. "You know very well that Vidette is still in love with you – and I know that you have no interest in her at all!"
He looked at her, apathetic as usual, but there was something different in his sky-blue gaze today. Something lit his eyes, added a little more passion and fire to them, and despite wondering what had changed, Nuria was too consumed with the idea of this selfish bastard going after her sister again, twisting her and threading Vidette along a thin, intricate little string, only to drop her again. She knew it was going to happen. She was sure of it.
But she'd be damned if she let him do it again.
"Why do you care?" he asked smoothly. He watched her with a smirk. "Jealous?"
Her skin reddened ever-so-slightly, but he noticed.
"I think you are," Sebastian concluded, "if you're blushing like that."
"I am not – jealous," Nuria spat, steeling his gaze. "I just don't want to see my baby sister get hurt by you."
He casually stepped forward, the smirk still firmly on his face. Nuria's head tilted slightly as she tried to evaluate his body language. She could be crazy, but it looked as if he was trying to – seduce her. And that would be unthinkable, because –
– because he was in a relationship with her sister. But then, when she thought about the passes he had made at her during his and Vidette's previous relationship, how he had openly discussed his feelings for her, the idea that Sebastian would try to seduce her didn't seem so preposterous after all.
"What are you doing?" she finally deigned to ask.
A small smile touched his lips.
"There's something you should know about me, Nuria." As he spoke, he inched closer to her, his movements akin to ones of a shark, or some other sort of predator. "If a woman isn't interested in me, contrary to popular opinion, I'm not going to force the issue." He spread his hands. "I'll move on. In this particular case, well –"
His face was suddenly very close to hers. His breath was hot against her cheeks, and his jacket collar brushed her neck. Nuria would've moved, but she stood against the very same willow tree Sebastian had been standing underneath, the same tree she'd confronted him under earlier, after his initial breakup with Vidette.
"If I can't have you," he breathed, his voice as soft as rose petals, "then your sister is the next best thing."
Her mouth fell open. For once, she had nothing to say. Nothing formulated itself in her mind, except for one glaring, pulsating reaction. And react she did.
His lips were on hers first, his mouth consuming hers entirely, his body physically dominating every moment, every second of the kiss. He was intent on letting her know, if not through his words, which were admittedly charismatic and smooth, but through his actions, of how he felt about her. His fingers threaded through her hair, his pink lips tasting of cinnamon and the remainder of the corn he'd eaten at lunch. Nuria couldn't breathe, but at the moment, her body's primary need was not for oxygen, but for the feel of his body against hers. Rationally, she knew how stupid this was, how idiotic they were for acting like any other couple at the school – publicly displaying their affection for one another, but this was different.
It wasn't different in that it was a glaringly obvious cliché, but in that she never believed that these things actually happened in real life. At least, not for girls like her.
As soon as the words reached Nuria's ears, she pulled away from Sebastian as if he was on fire. He was still clutching her face, but upon seeing the girl, he stepped away as well. Vidette stood a little ways away, shaking with anger and with tears streaming down her face. She placed one foot forward, as if unsure of whether to approach them or run away. When she finally chose to turn around and leave, Nuria knew something had broken between them. Kissing her sister's boyfriend was the ultimate betrayal, and now that she was given time to think about it, guilt overrode everything else.
"Vidette!" Nuria called, running after her sister. She didn't look back at Sebastian, figuring he was probably smirking or doing something similar. She had no way of knowing he stood underneath the tree with a thoughtful expression on his face.
"Vidette, wait!" Nuria shouted, hurrying through the Commons, sidestepping people, books and animals as she did so. Vidette ignored her, as expected, and continued her angry walk. Nuria broke into a sprint and ran in front of her sister, blocking her. "I can explain."
Vidette glared. "Don't give me some quote from a stupid romance novel, Nuria. I know what's going on here. My boyfriend is cheating on me... with you." She eyed Nuria with contempt. "I thought you hated him, Nuria. But I guess it was all an act, wasn't it?" She put her hands on her hips. "How long have you been with him?" she demanded.
"I only kissed him once – today," said Nuria, anguished. "He's been trying to get me to go out with him ever since..."
"Since when?" snapped Vidette.
"Since your breakup," admitted Nuria. "But I've been rejecting him and he doesn't seem to get it."
Vidette snorted. "Yeah, you've been rejecting him, alright," she said nastily. "The entire time I've been dating Sebastian, I knew he flirted with other girls and other girls flirted with him – and I accepted it," she muttered. "But you – I never expected you to fall for his charms."
"No one ever does," said Nuria. "I'm sorry. I really am. I'll stay far away from him if that's what you want."
Vidette looked up at her sister, shaking her head in what Nuria assumed to be disappointment. "Do what you want with him, Nuria. It's fine."
And then she turned and walked away.
Vidette wasn't really expecting her sister to jump into the Sebastian bandwagon, just because Vid had given her a bitter blessing. She wasn't even expecting Nuria to occupy the same space as Sebastian, and in the back of her mind, she wondered if it was out of respect for Vidette that she did so, or just for the sake of appearances. Sebastian was strangely subdued, at least from what she'd seen over the few days since she'd caught Nuria and Sebastian kissing, but Vidette had grown to distrust his vulnerable, less arrogant side. Perhaps Nuria's warnings had finally rubbed off on her.
She knew forgiving her sister would probably be the most logical way to go, but she usually saved things like logic for math and technology. In the real world, she thought with her heart, and it had worked pretty well so far, at least in university. She'd snagged the most attractive guy on campus and had led a fairly strong relationship with him – it was trusting and open, the way she believed one should've been. It wasn't until people began whispering about his debauchery and potential affairs did she really begin to wonder if he'd taken advantage of her gullible nature. Nuria had warned her of that, too, and it irritated Vidette to no end when her sister was right.
"Hey," came a cheerful, friendly voice. Vidette turned her head towards the speaker, her eyes narrowing in a very Nuria way when she saw Mike Ferrari.
"What do you want, Mike?" she asked, abandoning civility for the sole reason that queer ducks flocked together. She didn't care if Mike was nice and sweet and friendly – as long as he was close friends with Sebastian Dresden, the heartbreaking bastard she now knew as her ex-boyfriend, Mike would be treated the same.
"Nothing," he smiled. "What are you working on?"
They were in the middle of Robotics class, but the teacher had stepped out for a moment to use the restroom. He probably wouldn't be back for at least ten minutes, and that was because the entire class knew about his flirtation with the Computer Science professor. The two of them went together like Oreos and milk, the same way Vidette thought she and Sebastian had.
"The same thing you're working on," she replied, sighing. She typed a few keys into her computer, and the robotic arm connected to it moved towards Mike, extending its fingers in a handshake. He watched, impressed, and politely shook the robot's hand.
"Nice," he complimented. "Mine's just scrap metal." He gestured at the pile of machinery at his workstation, where his partner, another one of Sebastian's friends, was texting furiously. Vidette casually glanced at her nails, giving him a not-so-subtle hint to leave. Clearly, like Sebastian, Mike didn't know how to take a hint.
"So, how're you holding up?"
"No offense, Mike," she plastered a fake smile onto her face, "but why are you talking to me? Sebastian and I aren't dating anymore. You have no obligation to say hello to me."
"I know..." said Mike, "but I want to. I – I've kind of liked you for a while now. Before you and Seb started dating."
Vidette glanced around surreptitiously in a knee-jerk response. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Seb made it pretty clear that he wanted you."
"Yeah," Vidette scoffed. "For about a day, probably. And then he saw my athletic, fiery, smarty-pants sister." She looked back up at Mike. "And like all the other boys, his feelings for me flew out the window."
"I'm sure that's not true," said Mike, patting her hand sympathetically. "Your sister's not that hot."
"But you admit she's gorgeous."
"Well – yeah, I guess, but –"
"There's no but," said Vidette. "It's how it's always been. Every single boyfriend I've ever had has admitted to me that the only reason they went out with me was to get closer to Nuria." A little whimper of defeat escaped her lips.
"Can I ask you a question, Mike?" she said, rubbing her eye.
"Yeah, anything." He leaned closer, his gaze earnest.
"Do you like me for me, or for my boobs?" she asked. As expected, his eyes flicked downward for a moment, but thankfully, only for a moment. He laughed and shook his head.
"You, silly." He tapped the robot arm. "Do you realize how incredibly cool you are? I mean, you can build things like this" – he fiddled with the arm – "and you look like that. You're the whole package. Sebastian was an idiot for choosing your sister over you."
"Really?" asked Vidette. It was silly, but his words were beginning to wrap around her insecurities, replacing them with more permanent confidence. At least, she hoped it was permanent. "You think the fact that I can build robots better than you is a good thing?"
Now Mike looked confused. "It could be a bad thing?"
"I... I guess not. I just thought guys would be intimidated by it," Vidette said hesitantly.
"I can't think of a single guy who wouldn't think of it as a turn-on," said Mike, grinning. "So, would you consider going on a date with me..." he looked back at his pathetic excuse for a robot, "and possibly helping me out with my assignment?"
Vidette said nothing for a minute, contemplating the implications of going out with her ex-boyfriend's friend a week after they'd broken up. It wouldn't look good, that was for sure, but after having her love life clogging up the gossip mill for the past few months, spending some time with a sweet, attractive, tech-challenged guy wouldn't matter much.
"Yes to both," she replied, this time extending her own hand out for a shake. Mike did one better and kissed it.
Sebastian really had some class, Vidette mused sarcastically.
She and Mike had been enjoying what was the beginning of a lovely first date, simple and sweet, not ostentatious and expensive the way Sebastian had been. Instead, they sat at one of the back booths in a café on school campus, sipping frothy hot chocolates and eating club sandwiches. He engaged her in conversation about every topic under the sun, and every time, he surprised her with the breadth of his knowledge. Mike was really shaping up to be an excellent potential boyfriend, one Vidette felt completely comfortable with.
And of course, Sebastian had to muck it all up by showing up at their table, apologetic and sexy and gorgeous. But Vidette refused to be taken in by it.
"Sebastian, can't you see we're –"
"Just a second, Mike," said Sebastian. That was another thing. He never let other people finish talking. It was probably the lawyer in him, taking charge of the situation and commanding others authoritatively and mercilessly. But this was the real world, and no one should've been cut off as rudely as Sebastian had to Mike.
"What is your problem, Sebastian?" demanded Vidette. "We are trying to enjoy a date here!"
"I know," said Sebastian, his tone perfectly apologetic, "but I came to apologize."
"Cheating on you. But I swear," and now he looked like a dying actor, delivering his last performance, "Nuria was the only girl I ever actually did anything with. I promise, Vidette."
Mike was watching her, probably waiting for her to crawl back to Sebastian. "What are you trying to say?" she asked instead, expectant.
He blinked. "That was it."
"So you don't want to get back together?"
"No, not really," he admitted. He stood there, for the first time since she'd known him, awkwardly. He brushed his hand over his hair, looking back and forth between her and Mike. "Sorry for interrupting you earlier, Mike," said Sebastian. "It's just been bothering me."
Vidette snorted. "That's rich," she said sarcastically. "You having feelings."
Sebastian's forehead crinkled in annoyance. "I'm not some heartless prick, Vidette. And if you think I am, then maybe it was a good idea to break up."
"You bet it was," she retorted. "Mike is way more of a man than you'll ever be."
Mike sat back in his seat, obviously not comfortable with being caught in a love triangle. "Uh, Vidette –"
"And you don't have to worry about asking me permission to date my sister," continued Vid. "Go ahead. Nothing's stopping you."
"Uh, yeah, actually." He looked irritated now, even more so than before. "Your sister won't go out with me until she has your permission."
Vidette had to admit, she faltered a bit at that. "What about you?" she said, her voice softer.
He shrugged. "I really am sorry for cheating on you, but I'm not sorry about the way I feel about Nuria," he admitted. "Cheesy as it sounds."
Vidette sighed. Even when she hated him, he still managed to get on her good side. Damn him and his manipulative tendencies. "Fine," she said exasperatedly. "I give you my permission."
He brightened a bit at this, though he tried – poorly – not to show it. "Really?"
Vidette tilted her head, appraising Sebastian's truthful reaction, and determined that it didn't matter whether or not he was faking it outwardly, she could always tell his mood from the tone of his voice. And this particular tone sounded jubilant, happy, as if he would climb to the top of his dormitory and yell from the roof. "Really," she replied. "Now go." She shooed him away. "I'm trying to enjoy a date here."
Sebastian thanked her and left, his stride leaving much more confident than it had been coming in.
"Finally," muttered Mike. "Sorry," he said almost immediately after. Vidette was surprised, but it was probably because after being in a relationship with Sebastian, who never apologized for his actions, seeing a man do it so naturally was strange.
"You don't have to apologize," said Vidette, grinning. "Just eat your sandwich."
Nuria waited rather patiently for her Gender and Discourse report to load. She closed her eyes, hoping – not in vain – that she had achieved the mark she'd been aiming for. But then she realized that even if she did, there would be no one to really celebrate with. Her sister wasn't speaking to her, and Sebastian was clearly off-limits, at least until Nuria could make amends, but it didn't look as if it would happen anytime soon. Vidette had one hell of a temper, and the fact that she was stubborn only made her even more infuriating to deal with. Trying to convince her of Sebastian's Casanova exploits had been gruelling, but from what she could see, they had paid off. A few weeks too late, of course.
Your document is ready for viewing, alerted Nuria's email. She clicked on the link, eyes searching the screen, then widening when she saw a final grade of 93. She let out a little gasp of delight. Someone knocked on the door to her dorm room not long after, and it temporarily put a damper on things. She couldn't very well answer the door with a silent scream on her face, could she?
Out of habit, she looked out the peephole. Sebastian stood there, his ice-blue eyes looking directly at her, as if he knew she was watching him. She couldn't decide whether she was annoyed or happy that he had shown up. She had made a promise to herself to not talk to him or pursue a relationship with him as long as Vidette was upset with the both of them. Sebastian had agreed with her on it, but he was evidently having second thoughts.
She opened the door. He grinned when he saw her, and as always, it took her by surprise to see those stupid, attractive dimples. Though now, they weren't so much stupid as they were attractive.
"Hello, gorgeous," he murmured, leaning against the doorway. "May I come in?"
"Since when are you such a gentleman?" Nuria teased. His eyebrows rose. But she knew when it had happened. After her failed attempt at trying to apologize to Vidette, Nuria and Sebastian had discussed their relationship at length, Nuria's intent being to make absolutely sure that he knew what he was getting into, pursuing a relationship with her. She made it very clear that there would be no sex involved, nor would there be any of the customary undressing-with-the-eyes business Sebastian had been prone to performing on select members of the opposite sex during his relationship with Vidette. Sebastian had agreed profusely to all her demands, calling them demands, and stated that all she had to do was be who she was. He was still the manipulative, infuriating Sebastian he always was, but at least now, he was more good-natured about it. Or perhaps Nuria had begun to find his backhanded compliments amusing instead of irritating.
"The gentleman's been in there, lounging around and waiting..." he kissed her hand politely, and she shook her head good-naturedly, "for the right woman to coax it out. Guess it was you." He looked up at her with a devilish little smirk. Always the charmer. "So, what's new? Did your G & D mark come in yet?"
For a moment, she forgot about why Sebastian shouldn't have visited. The excitement she'd previously been affecting on every piece of furniture she'd come into contact with before Sebastian had knocked on her door returned as soon as he mentioned her grade. She wanted to show her tutor her mark and let him be proud of her. "Yeah, I did," she replied, trying to be nonchalant about it. Sebastian looked amused.
"What'd you get? A ninety?" he asked casually. She scowled.
"I think I would've done better than a ninety,"she sniffed. He chuckled.
"Okay, a ninety-three," he clarified, his eyebrows rising. She looked at him suspiciously.
"How did you know? Did you peek?" she accused.
He shrugged. "I know my way around the administration's office," was all he had to offer on the matter. "I personally believe that every mark higher than a ninety deserves a reward." He eyed her provocatively, his lips curling into a sneaky little smile. But that smile reminded Nuria of the old Sebastian, the one that had brought this awkward, uncomfortable love triangle upon them.
"You shouldn't be here, you know," she said suddenly, looking apologetic. He almost expected her to bite her lip as she did so, in that annoying girly way, but he remembered almost instantly that Nuria wasn't like most girls. Thankfully.
"Yes, I should," replied Sebastian, edging closer to her. She stepped away, and he was pleased to see that she did not look happy about it.
"You told me you'd stay away until –"
"Until Vidette gave us her blessing. And guess what?" He tugged her close. "She did," he whispered into her hair.
Nuria pulled away quickly, looking up at him suspiciously. "You're not making this up, are you?"
"No," said Sebastian, smirking. "Though I suppose I probably could've, but I'm being good now." He laced his hands together around Nuria's waist, his fingers tracing a pattern up and down her tank-top-covered back. She shivered. "But not too good, obviously," he continued, nipping at her ear. She laughed, the feeling ticklish, and asked him again.
"Vidette really told you we could –"
"Nuria," said Sebastian, his tone serious now. "I hiked across campus, interrupted an apparently important lunch date, stood there and begged your sister for the permission you seem to need. Is that enough for you?" He looked at her expectantly, daring her to contradict him.
Nuria's eyebrows rose so high, they almost disappeared into her hair. "Wow," she said. "I'm impressed."
"Get used to it," he chuckled, finally, mercifully touching his lips to hers.
Hope you enjoyed! And please, leave a review :) And also, there's a one-shot sequel to this (nowhere near as long) entitled Cherry-Sweet, if you want to check that out. :D
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