Chapter 26: bravery comes in many forms
Ulric stared in disbelief at the strange assortment of objects laid out across the floor of Bach's room.
He cast a glance at the blonde who was looking rather pleased with himself. "You can't be serious."
Bach smiled but it was a sly grin on his face, "Two choices Ulric, your pride or Alicia."
Ulric scowled slightly at his words and then he nodded.
Bach gave a mock bow as he swept his arm across the room in a dramatic flourish, "Well then, shall we begin?"
"Milo?" Kevin called out as he knocked on the door of her room. He shuffled his feet nervously, slipping his hand into the pocket of his blazer once more to assure himself that he hadn't lost the small object within.
From behind the door, he heard hurried footsteps followed by the thud of furniture being knocked over and the subsequent gasp as she tripped.
"Milo! Are you al-" He was cut off abruptly as the door swung open, revealing a rather embarrassed girl.
She was wearing a crumpled white t-shirt and dark shorts and her hair was tied up in a loose knot. She had a slightly flustered expression but as she saw him, the corners of her mouth quirked up into a shy smile.
Kevin felt his heart skip.
"Hey." She said softly and his nervousness vanished.
He leaned down slowly, giving her time to pull away and when she didn't, he kissed her. Kevin felt her arms move to encircle his neck as she pulled him into her room.
"I thought the making out usually happened after dinner." She murmured against his lips, a touch of amusement in her voice.
"Should I stop?" Kevin asked, pulling away but somehow finding it quite impossible to release her from his arms.
She laughed and leaning in again, whispered, "Hell no."
There was a shrill beeping and Milo gasped, shoving the surprised Kevin to the floor before jumping up and dashing towards the kitchen.
"Oh shoot!" She yelled, fumbling to open the oven door to check on their dinner. "I totally forgot to watch the food!"
Before Alicia started her first year at Tech U, the standard dormitory room for every student comprised of a combined bed/study space. The rooms were moderately sized but did not include additional facilities such as attached bathrooms or kitchens. The boys on each floor shared two common bathrooms and all meals were taken at the cafeteria.
However, Gavin Rayne, like any other concerned father, was not comfortable with having his only daughter share the bathroom with nineteen young men and as such, contributed very generously to the construction of deluxe rooms for special guests. Similarly to Alicia and Jocelyn, Milo was currently staying at one of these rooms.
Kevin pushed himself off the ground, gingerly rubbing an elbow that had collided against the low table but instead of being annoyed, he had a silly grin plastered over his face.
"You cooked dinner for me?" It was hard to miss the happiness in his voice.
Milo looked flustered again. "Well," She bit her lip, hesitating, "Sort of, I guess."
"Great!" Kevin leapt up and went over to her. As he approached her, he noticed that she was fidgeting and attempting to hide something from him.
"Wait!" She yelled, her voice frantic, "The food's er, burnt. Let's go out for dinner instead, I'll pay for it, alright? Please, please?"
Kevin wasn't convinced. He stood before her and reached out a hand to touch her face gently, "Milo, what's wrong?"
Milo sighed, "I really wanted to cook dinner but I didn't know how to. Sure, I can make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich and fry an egg but I don't know how to cook a proper dinner! I even asked Alicia for help, to teach me and she said to do what's comfortable so I," She paused, and continued in a meek voice, "Got one of those ready made ones and microwaved it."
She clapped her hand together in front of her in apology. "I'm sorr-?"
Milo gasped in surprise as Kevin swept her into a tight hug.
"You're amazing!" He declared, swinging her around happily, "I didn't know you could cook so well! I can't even do any of the things you mentioned!"
For a very brief moment, Milo wasn't sure if he were serious or saying if he was just humouring her but as she gazed down at his open delight and affection, she found herself mirroring his smile.
"You're such a spoiled brat, you know" She chided him, reaching up to run her fingers through his dark hair fondly, "But that's why I love you anyway."
Quite abruptly as he had started, Kevin stopped swinging her and carefully placed her back down on the ground. She watched him in confusion and also with a hint of anxiety at the sudden change of mood.
He cleared his throat nervously, well aware that his ears were burning and that his hands were shaking, pulled out a small box of polished ebony.
Kevin flipped the box open, removed the ring inside and gathering all the courage he had, he took her hand and said, "Milo Jen Richards, will you please marry me?"
The room was silent as she stared at him in shock but as she about to speak, Kevin cut in frantically, "I know it's really sudden and that I can't support you on my own yet and that we're really young and I haven't even graduated and I'm not very clever and I can't even ride a bicycle but."
His voice had taken on a calmer tone, "This isn't just some impulsive decision. I'm in love with you Milo, and if you're not against the idea, I'd like to spend the rest of my life making you happy."
He grinned shyly, "And learning how to ride a bike too."
Her smile, he noted was the most radiant thing he had ever seen and as she threw herself into his arms with tears in her eyes, Kevin heard her say, "You already make me happy, Kev."
And Kevin O'rion knew then that some rich spoiled brats do get their happy endings after all.
The play had already begun.
Even from behind the closed doors of the auditorium, he could still hear muffled voices as lines were spoken or sometimes shouted.
Ulric closed his eyes and took a deep breath and then with one last whispered prayer for luck, he shoved the doors open and entered the room.
The advantage of having to do a play based on a fairy tale was that practically everyone knew the general lines and how the story eventually ends.
Alicia has breezed through her script during rehearsals, choosing to ignore the lengthy and updated dialogue that Rience had written. As for the actual play, she simply chose to play it by ear and she could hardly wait for it to be over.
She watched distractedly as Rience pranced around the stage below her, declaring his undying love for her.
Alicia stifled a yawn with a hand as she glanced over to the clock at the back of the hall – half an hour more to end the torture.
To her surprise; and she had to admit that she jumped; the doors the auditorium swung open violently.
All heads swirled to look at the shadowed figure and puzzled voices were heard asking if this were part of the play.
From her perch atop the wooden tower across the hall, Alicia could easily recognise the familiar silhouette, well, most of it anyway.
He was dressed a dark suit and over it, he had armour plates made of aluminium foil wrapped cardboard attached to his legs, arms and chest. In one hand, he carried a foam swimming board with had a coat of arms stuck on it and at his side hung a floorball stick. Finally, he wore a cap pulled down low so that it hid half of his face. Simply put, he looked ridiculous.
Ignoring the jeers and laughter, Ulric made his way down the hall till he reached at stage.
Tilting his cap upwards to reveal his face, Ulric smiled sheepishly, "Forgive me for my lateness among many other things." And going down on one knee, he offered his hand to her and said, "Princess, forget the prince and run away with me."
From that evening and for weeks to come, the play would become legend among the students.
The accounts varied but everyone who was in attendance that night swore that they saw Alicia Rayne retreating a few steps back in order to give her a head start before leaping off the tower in a stunning display of athletic ability into the arms of one very strangely dressed Ulric Powells who promptly ran off with her.
The boys are however, still not quite sure if that were supposed to be part of the play.
To be cont'd?
I've lost track of how long it's been since I've updated this story and I have to apologise and also, thank you for all the emails urging (shoving me off my ass) to continue this.
Given that I haven't written in years, I still hope that you'll like this chapter. Once again, thank you for your reading and patience.