COMPLETE: A Da Vinci Smile (TEEN)

Thesaurus rex
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Version History:
1.1 : Improved French language - assuré to confiance
1.2 : Josh is now building a longship, not a galley

  • Moderate suggestive themes - infrequent mentions of sexual behaviour

Welcome, readers! I'll get to the point - A Da Vinci Smile is a short story that takes place in the same universe as my other story, The Long Walk. The events occur three years before the main story, and provide an insight into Joshua Cook's character.

The story originated as a response to a writing prompt from The Weekly Prompt thread, which I've spun out into a longer narrative. I don't make any claims to greatness here - it's an idea that was just a bit too vivid in my head not to write. Oh, and all the translation is my work. I don't do Google Translate

Contents
I - Dancing
II - Doubting
III - Denying

Without further ado ...

A Da Vinci Smile
(Version 1.2)

I - Dancing

Why did I ever agree to do this?

Josh scowled at the dance tutor, who was beginning to get on his nerves. The community centre's main hall was cold and smelled faintly of committees. It was the sort of place that had forgotten armies of rickety plastic chairs billeted somewhere on the premises, probably in a room with painted-shut windows. Today, the hall's creaky floorboards served as a dance floor.

“Come on, young man!” the tutor trilled at him. “It's impolite to keep a girl waiting, you know!”

Josh polished his glasses and took no notice. They didn't need polishing, but there was no point in ignoring the ghastly woman unless she knew he was ignoring her. She probably thought she was being flirtatious, in a wholesome, family-friendly sort of way.

I wish she'd stop winking at all the men.

It was all Aunt Cassie's fault, damn her. His aunt had always been something of a social climber. Not content by any means to remain working-class Cassandra Cook, Aunt Cassie had spent the greater part of her young adulthood pretending to be inoffensively well-off. Finally she'd snagged a fiancé who was just that, eliminating the need for pretence once and for all.

Of course, it wouldn't do for Cassandra Whitford, née Cook, to be seen dancing on a scuffed linoleum dance floor. No, Aunt Cassie had decreed that the dancing would be ballroom, and that meant dancing lessons for the whole Cook side of the family. Damn her. Josh hated dancing. Nothing in all the world made him feel as self-conscious and aware of his terribly unimpressive body as dancing.

The tutor was starting to partner everyone up, matching spouses to spouses, brothers to sisters, cousins to cousins. She bulldozed over resistance, especially from the younger members of the sprawling Cook clan. Josh was starting to wonder if he could get away with sloping off during the confusion when a hand clapped him roughly on the shoulder.

“Best move quick Joshy, else the good ones will be taken.”

“Get off, Grey,” Josh said, shoving his cousin's hand from his shoulder. “You can't possibly be enjoying this.”

“Not as much as I'll enjoy unwrapping a bridesmaid,” Graham replied with a grin. “Two of them aren't related to us. What d'you say, one for you, one for me?”

“Not bloody likely.” Graham was still, ironically, the closest of Josh's cousins. They had grown up as brothers, of sorts, each the only son of their respective families. And like so many brothers, they didn't have all that much in common. Josh remained bookish and nerdy, while Graham was sociable and outgoing. Somewhere along the line he had discovered girls – girls, in turn, seemed to like Graham. It was an excellent combination for him, but an annoying one for Josh. For some reason Graham seemed to think that Josh should – and moreover, could - emulate his college horndog persona.

“Suit yourself, dude. I'm dancing with Natalie,” Graham said, and went off in search of his next target.

Right, time to cheese it. Josh studied the sight lines in the hall for a moment, before smoothly putting a knot of relatives between himself and his dad. Using them as cover he circled round towards the entrance -

“Nice try, young man. Your father mentioned you might try and run.”

Damnit, Dad. A little too late it occurred to Josh that sixteen years of teaching dance to often reluctant classes might have also taught the ghastly woman a few other things. Like how to spot a runner, for example. As she gave him an irritatingly shrewd, triumphant smile Josh knew he was beaten.

“Alright,” he sighed, “who's my partner then?”

“I hope you're good at apologies,” she said with an oddly sly look. “You've kept her waiting. Adele! I've captured him for you, darling.”

Who the hell is Adele? Josh found himself thinking as he was unceremoniously marched back towards the middle of the hall to find himself face-to-face with a girl he didn't recognise. She seemed to be about his own age, perhaps a little shorter, dressed in jeans and a sleeveless white turtleneck. She wore her outfit well, with a figure that tended towards the curvaceous rather than the petite. Oh my. She's cute, Josh thought involuntarily. Adele had large, blue eyes and wore an enigmatic smile beneath a head of loose chestnut ringlets.

“Bonsoir. Adèle Chastain,” she said, holding her hand out. Her voice was flavoured with a soft Kalosian accent. She sounds like the way that fine whisky tastes.

“Er … enchanté, Adele. I mean Adèle. Je m'appelle Cook, Joshua Cook,” he said.

“Tu parles kalossais?”

“Je ne parle pas très bien kalossais. Je seulement étudie le kalossais à l'université.”

“Oh, rubbish!” she giggled. “You speak very well.”

Adèle moved a little closer; Josh automatically stepped back. “Your pronunciation is good, but your accent is so Johto. How is my accent?”

Adorable. “It's, um, it's good. So, er, what brings you here?”

“My mother went to university with Aunt Cass. Well, your true aunt, my uh … adopted aunt. I cannot waltz, so I have been sent here,” Adèle took another step closer. Josh could pick up the smell of the conditioner in her hair – and beneath that, the not-unpleasant scent of her body. He stepped back again, wishing he'd been born with better eyesight and a worse sense of smell. Adèle studied him with her large, blue eyes, that strange smile lingering on her face.

“Joshua, stop retreating,” she said in an amused tone. “If you're going to learn to dance, you're going to have to be used to me being close.”

Josh was starting to feel a bit at sea. He wasn't used to being confronted by pretty foreign girls, pretty foreign girls who smelled of … of cherry blossom and something else he couldn't quite identify. Thankfully he was saved from having to think of a sensible response by the start of the lesson.

“Ladies, gentlemen, now that we're all partnered up!” the tutor twittered. “The waltz starts with the basic ballroom hold. Gentlemen, place your right hand just on your partner's back – see, right there on her shoulder blade – and take her right hand in your left ...”

*​

Ballroom dancing turned out to be both difficult and boring. The steps were actually quite simple. It seemed that most movement happened on the beat. What Josh soon realised, however, was that his feet didn't care what his head knew. They learned at their own depressing pace, taking their instructions from the muscle memory.

Josh wasn't sure whether dancing with Adèle was helping or not. There was something enjoyable about dancing with a cute girl, to be sure, but he wondered whether it wasn't also distracting. “Confiance, Joshua!” she kept telling him. “It's ok, you can lead me!” Still, he rather liked her attitude. Her 'confiances' felt like reassurance rather than mockery; she giggled when he twirled her round only to completely lose the beat. And when the damn lesson finally ended, and Josh decided for some reason to kiss her hand, she had the good grace not to laugh at the ridiculous gesture. Instead, she just dipped a graceful little bow.

“Until next time, sir,” she said as the lesson began to break up. Josh spotted Graham hovering nearby, trying to look nonchalant. Not now, Grey, this is not the time!

“You said that you're here by yourself right?” Josh said, trying to keep half an eye on Grey and look as though she had his undivided attention at the same time.

“Oui, c'est vrai.”

“I was just thinking … perhaps you'd like some company? Maybe meet for coffee or something?”

For a moment Josh felt sure that Adèle would politely decline. She smiled cryptically, and handed him her Pokégear. “Don't call me, I'll call you,” she told him. “Le café johto est vraiment terrible, mais la compagnie sera bien,” she pocketed her Pokégear with Josh's phone number saved to its memory. “Bonsoir, Joshua.”

Graham sidled up as soon as Adèle was out of earshot. “Dude, did you just ask her out?”

“No.”

“Yeah, so what do you call 'meeting for coffee'?”

“Grey, I was just being nice. She's alone in this bloody town, I thought she might want some company.”

“Uhuh, sure,” Graham said, unconvinced. “She fills out that sweater real nice … well, fair's fair, you got to her first.”

“Does it always have to be about the hook-up with you?”

“Josh. Listen to me for a sec, cos. There's nothing wrong with a hook-up if that's what she wants -”

“I'm well aware of that,” Josh snapped.

“- And you ought to try it. You're a shy guy, I'm not mocking you, that's just how y'are. But are you telling me you wouldn't want a handful of her fine, foreign tits?”

She has big, blue eyes. Big, blue eyes and an enigmatic smile. Truth be told, Josh wasn't really certain what he had been thinking when he'd – for want of a better term – asked Adèle out. It wasn't as a date, that he was certain of. Adèle Chastain was quite simply out of his league. Maybe, caught up in the moment, something about her blue eyes flicked off the common sense switch in his brain.

Josh realised that Grey was waiting for him to answer. “Yeah. Yeah, to be sure. Fine foreign tit.”
 
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Hehe, I liked Josh in this. So cute. Loved the look further into his character. Dancing is one of my favorite activities so I loved this! Could have been a bit longer and more detailed, although it was awesome just the same.
 
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Nice. I loved this. The description was vivid, and I could feel that I was there with Joshua on the dance floor ... stumbling. I could totally relate to that feeling of being the nerd with an outgoing cousin too. I really liked how you added a second language to your work as well. It gave it some spice. And I appreciated the fact that it's kalossian and not french. I don't know much french (learned a bit of german though), but regardless I really enjoyed this. I laughed more than once.

Now, this is just me, but I find it kind of annoying when female characters are described as 'cute' or whatever. I feel like it's become a cliche of sorts, but I understand that it's relevant to the plot in some way. I mean teenage boys, am I right? :p

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading the next two chapters. This looks like it's going to be really entertaining, so I don't want to miss out. And hopefully we'll also get to see more of Joshua's character.
 
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Haha, Cassie reminds me of my aunt. You do a very good job of developing her character without really even having her speak. That's a skill in and of itself. You take us right into Josh's head and how annoyed he is with the whole situation. Some people might call it an info-dump, but I don't think so, not in a bad way, anyway. In good writing, getting info across to the reader is necessary, and you do it in a subtle way.

The interaction between Adele and Josh was done well too. I tend to not like the whole "boy is shy, girl is not" thing because it gets done a lot, but you handled it well. I like the back and forth small talk in French beforehand.

And I too, enjoy foreign tits.
 
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All right, I read (is proud of himself) well I have to say that it was actually shorter than I expected, so who knew xD

Well it's good that we're getting to look into Josh's character a bit more, as well as learning more about his past. I like Graham cause...well who doesn't like foreign tits? That being said I feel like I'm gonna be pretty sad by the end of this, mostly because taking the Josh in Long Walk into account...I don't think this is gonna go well *prepares man tissues for the man tears*
 
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A little birdie told me you wanted feedback ;)

Short and sweet is the best way to describe this I think. You've absolutely nailed internal monologue, which is how so little can happen and yet so much in such a small space. I really like Josh's character in general especially because of how consistent and well executed he is. The whole "I'm just going to slip out while no one's looking" is totally something I would do. I also liked how you had Grey there to provide a different perspective and break it away from just Josh talking to himself and then being shy around the cute girl. Grey's another very relatable character. Not because I can directly relate to him, but because I know the type. Always hovering nearby and stealing the wimmins from those of us who fancy ourselves the more "patient" type. I feel like the purpose of his character was to spur Josh into making the move, which was well done.

So yeah. Relatable, heartwarming, fun to read. As per usual from you :3

I look forward to more.

Review Extravaganza 16/50
 
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Responses:
Sorry, completely forgot to add these in!
@Akari: I fear you and Josh probably wouldn't get along too well xD The brevity is perhaps unusual for me in that it's mostly dialogue, but there are two more parts so there's plenty more to come!
@Safe-T: I know what you mean regarding female characters. Were Adèle intended for a longer story I would probably have introduced her differently. In this case, you the reader are seeing her through Josh's eyes, and hence what you see of her first is what he notices first
@Legacy: You flatter me, sir. Cassie's a bit of an archetype, you might say. It seems that the foreign tits line has struck a chord with the male readership
@AetherX: Wow thanks! I was only asking or a couple of comments, but I'll take the review :D Grey, Grey, he's a difficult one for me to write dialogue for. I have difficulty in copying the language of the horndog, you might say. I'm glad I have the power to tug a little at your heartstrings, though! In general I am surprised and grateful for the response to this - I genuinely didn't think it would be that entertaining.

II – Doubting

Why did I ever agree to do this?

The Waltz of the Flowers echoed through the hall, accompanied by a second orchestra of creaking floorboards. The community centre was chilly, but Adèle Chastain's hand was warm. Josh had earned himself fewer 'confiances' this evening, having become slightly more used to leading her. I still hate dancing. Graham glided by with easy competence, giving him a thumbs up behind Adèle's back. Josh felt mechanical and inelegant by comparison, going through the steps with rote-learned precision. Damn you, Aunt Cassie.

Adèle didn't seem to mind his gracelessness, so far as Josh could tell. Her smile kept him guessing; the subtlest of upward curves, she smiled as if she'd seen the funny side of life and everyone else hadn't yet got the joke.

“Tu as les mains douce,” she remarked in her whisky voice. She gave his left hand a little squeeze as if to emphasise her point. The waltz required that he hold her quite close - Josh held Adèle's right hand in his left, his other hand resting on her back. Adèle's left hand was laid on his right shoulder. Close enough to be able to pick up the strangely attractive scent of her body. Close enough to see the subtleties of the ocean-blue shade of her eyes.

“One, two, three, one, two, three, aaand turn!” the tutor blared. Still counting time in his head, Josh let go of Adèle's back and lifted his left arm so she could turn on the spot. He stepped round through ninety degrees, just in time to catch her with his free hand when she lost her balance.

“Très bien,” she said as they moved into promenade – side by side, his left arm over her shoulders holding her left hand, her right in his right. Adèle's hands were warm. As Josh resisted the temptation to lace his fingers through hers, he reluctantly admitted to himself that this was the warm beginning of a crush.

*​

Perhaps it had really started yesterday. Adèle had called to take him up on his offer of company, so he'd taken her to the café on Engineer's Square. Engineer's Square was picturesque, by Mulberry Town standards, being a pedestrianised area surrounding the Brunel fountain. The central pedestal mounted a bronze statue of a frock-coated gentleman - beneath, an elaborate system of cogs and gears shut off and opened jets of water in sequence.

Josh started feeling nervous from the moment Adèle arrived. In hindsight, that ought to have been a clue, but at the time he put it down to feeling, well, intimidated by her. It wasn't just that she was pretty – it was her constant confidence, too, the feeling that he was just a beginner to … whatever this was. So when Adèle asked him who the statue on the fountain was, he somehow ended up giving a history lesson on Mulberry Town's industrial past. And yet Adèle seemed genuinely interested, listening attentively as he talked about railways and steel and the Engineer of Engineer's Square, Isembard Kingdom Brunel.

“What's it like where you live?” Josh asked as they started their second cup of coffee.

“J'habite à Auffrac-les-Congères. You call it Snowbelle City, I think. And you call it Snowbelle for a reason,” she giggled. “The city is very pretty, but the winters are long and snowy.”

“And here I was thinking that you were the belle of Snowbelle City,” Josh said, apparently seriously.

Adèle burst out laughing. “Enfermes ta langue d'argent! And what about you?” she said teasingly. “I think you are as clever as monsieur Brunel over there.”

Josh laughed nervously. “Not by a long way. So what does the very pretty Auffrac-les-Congères look like?”

Instead of telling him, Adèle produced a sketchpad from her bag. The pages were crammed with sketches, the more recent ones of Johto, but the majority were of Kalos. Snowbelle City, the bridge at Grande Vallée, Estival Avenue … afterwards, to his surprise, Adèle insisted on seeing the railway museum.

*​

Who are you, Adèle Chastain? What goes on behind your ocean-blue eyes? The Waltz of the Flowers ended, and they eased out of promenade. Adèle held out her hand with mock imperiousness, but Josh kissed it all the same. Near the middle of the hall the tutor clapped loudly for attention.

“Now I've noticed that many of you are dancing so seriously! The waltz is an intimate dance, so for our last dance this evening I want you talk to your partners! Connect to each other! Aaand begin!”

This time the Swan Lake Waltz echoed through hall, a more dramatic piece than the Waltz of the Flowers. There was something vaguely aggravating about the way the room's bad acoustics mangled the music.

“Confiance,” Adèle said gently, smiling in her enigmatic way. Josh realised that he'd been trying to defer to her lead again, and led her in a simple box-step, trying to concentrate on moving with a bit more elegance and a bit less icy precision – except for when he twirled her round, because that always made Adèle giggle. They danced a meandering circuit of the hall, Josh speaking in kalosian as much as he could. As it turned out, Adèle was a pokémon trainer. She was taking a week off in order to attend the wedding, after which she would be flying back to Lumiose City.

“I already have the Voltage Badge, so I will be going to Relifac-le-Haut next. Oh, zut! End of the lesson,” she said, disappointed. With the end of the Swan Lake Waltz came the end of the evening's lesson. Josh disengaged himself from the dance hold, but before he could step back Adèle put her arms around his neck. “Merci pour la danse, mon loupe.”

Don't smell her hair, don't smell her hair. The hug seemed to end as quickly as it had started.

“Don't call me, I'll call you. C'est bon?” Adèle said.

“Er, oui, c'est très bon. Au revoir, Adèle,” Josh managed. As he watched her leave, he wondered if she knew that she made him nervous. My heart's beating a little quicker, too. Damn.

“Alright, you, spill it! What happened yesterday?”

“Augh!” a startled Josh barked. “Damnit Grey!”

“You do like her! Don't think I can't tell! I caught you contemplating her ass.”

“Oh, alright, so I do! And I wasn't.”

“You're too honourable for your own good, cos,” Graham laughed. “Checking out her ass doesn't make you a pervert, it makes you a guy! That's does it, we're working out a game plan, but I'm gonna need details.”

Why is this so important to you?” Josh said, exasperation edging his voice.

“Because. You're my cousin, and so help me, I going to see you get laid before you're twenty. I know damn well you like the look of Adele, and hey, I bet you like hanging out with her too. You've got a chance here, Josh.”

“I don't know ...”

“What you need is confidence. Positive thinking! Right, I want you to imagine yourself with her, in her hotel room – imagine it!” he insisted as Josh pulled a sceptical face, “Now imagine how good it's gonna be – provided you're smart enough to follow my instructions ...”

Josh tried to imagine himself with Adèle squirming beneath him. “Confiance, Joshua!” she begged in his imagination. “Avoir confiance en soi! S'il vous plaît! Agh, je m'ennuie.”

“Hm. Yeah, that's not encouraging,” Josh said flatly.

Grey gave him a pitying look. “Yeah, alright. Maybe you don't have to go all the way,” he admitted with a sigh. “Second base though, that's not so scary, right?”

“What is this, Unova?” Josh interrupted.

“- making out, playing with her fine foreign tits sound good?”

“Yes, yes, to be sure,” Josh said hurriedly. He was getting fed-up with this conversation, “Hadn't you better be going? E-mail me your blasted instructions if you must.”

“Suit yourself. You'll be thanking me before the week's out, bet on it!” Graham said, clapping Josh heavily on the shoulder.

Josh scowled at his cousin's retreating back. Grey was actually trying to help – well, he was reasonably sure that Grey was trying to help – but his cousin's refusal to accept that they were no longer peas in a pod was downright annoying. It was easy for Grey to talk so casually about sex. Josh knew instinctively that were he to try and emulate Grey's approach at best he'd get away with savagely wounded pride.

It took Josh a long moment to recall the contours of Adèle's chest. The thought of, of touching her there – tafl pieces are to be 'played with', damnit – felt cold and mechanical, like his dancing. What made Josh's heart beat faster was the subtlety of her eyes, the enigma of her smile. And that was confusing, because even if you weren't as blatant about it as Grey's type, surely straight guys should be excited about that? Particularly when it comes a girl they have a crush on? On some level he was curious ... but nothing stirred of its own accord either in his mind or in his trousers.

Part of him wanted to throw common sense to the wind and ask Adèle out on a real date. The same part of him, in fact, that wanted to lace his fingers through hers, that wanted to kiss her enigmatic smile. Maybe then, Josh reasoned, the desire to get more physical comes later.

Except, of course, it doesn't matter, does it? Adèle Chastain is well out of my league.
 
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Seriously, I loved reading this. I came expecting at least a one laugh, and got plenty. The character interactions are so organic and believable, and your characterization is top notch, despite the fact that the chapters are short. I can't wait for more, and I'm hoping you'll surprise me, because I really don't want this to be predictable. Then again, I guess it won't matter as long as I get some more laughs.

I especially liked this because I can totally relate to Josh being pressured by his cousin, though I'm a lot more stubborn, so I'd end up pissing Grey off for not listening.
 
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (II)

Awwww poor Joshua, we've all been there. I remember when I used to take dance clases and also didn't know what to think hen I was close to the girl I was dancing with. Joshua's reall relaetable on that end, but he also has a lot of his own personality which is good. These chapters are very simple and basic on their own but they're short and they serve as a good and fun breather.

I'll be happy to see how this al ends and what happens with Joshua and Adele.
 
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (II)

Haha boys are so silly. Going back to the last chapter, DOS FOREIGN TITTIES THO! Haha, loved that part. Don't know why you boys like the foreign kind. Mine are American (I guess that's foreign to some), but they are nice, I like to think ;P

Anyways, loved this new chapter.
 
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (II)

I don't have much more to say than last time. I still love your character interactions and thought processes and how natural they seem. Definitely dug the chapter.

Question, though:

“What is this, unova?” Josh interrupted.
Is the missing capitalization here a typo or one of these newfangled capitalization schemes again? "Kalosian" was never capitalized either, but I don't know if that's a French thing or what.
 
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (II)

I think it's time to make a few authorial comments! I'm actually asexual, so writing this story - especially as far as Grey's dialogue is concerned - has been quite a challenge for me. This is one of the reasons I'm so glad this has been as well received as it has been, particularly from the guys. I'll admit though, the "fine, foreign tits" I wrote because I thought the alliteration was amusing. So yes, Akari, it's a bit of a mystery to me too - and you'll understand if I don't get excited about yours xD
 
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (II)

No problem, Pavell. Story of my life, sadly.
 
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (II)

Responses:
@Akari: If it makes you feel any better, it's not personal. I'm indifferent to all tits xD
@AetherX: Oh, bloody hell. Yes, you're right. Apparently French doesn't usually capitalise countries, but it bled over into my English writing
@Flaze: Funnily enough, the one time I did learn to dance - when I was about nine, I think - I was actually quite comfortable. I was dancing with Kimberly, as I recall. Being enchanted (And I don't necessarily mean that in a good way) by the smell of a girl's hair, yeah, been there
@Safe-T: I'm pretty sure that this chapter at least won't be predictable, at least in terms of what you have predicted

III – Denying

From: Joshua Cook ([email protected])
Sent: 8 October 2009 18:29:12
To: Graham Cook ([email protected])

Ok, I think it's about time I put my foot down. Your plan isn't going to work. Look, Grey, I know you're trying to help, I get that. But come on, let's face it, all this about Adele, it's not going to work. Whether or not I like her isn't the issue – she's not interested in me. Look, cos, it's not that I don't appreciate what you're doing. It's just this whole casual hook-up thing, I can't do it. Your game, not mine.

I'm going to see Adele again this evening for a final time before the wedding. It'll just be a night out with, well with a friend. My mind's made up and I'll hear no more on the subject.

*​

Josh hit Send and leaned back into his swivel chair, which promptly creaked dangerously. His bedroom, already quite small, was rendered smaller still by the addition of two big desks set below the window. On the left, his writing desk housed the long-suffering desktop computer, cheek by jowl with a home-built oak bookcase crammed full of books. On the right, a much bigger work desk covered with tools and materials. A card model of a longship was taking shape amid a drift of scale drawings. In the opposite corner of the room between the foot of the bed and the door, Bulbasaur lay flat in his basket, snoring hoarsely.

Josh sighed heavily. This would be his last chance to see Adèle before the wedding, and therefore his last chance to see her alone before she went back to Kalos. It was a disappointing thought – he hoped that she might want to go for a late dinner after the film, just to get the most out of their last meeting. Josh harboured no hopes of seeing Adèle again. She was, after all, taking the Gym challenge, sinking any chance of a real relationship. As to the idea of a brief hook-up ...

Doesn't matter anyway. Adèle Chastain is well out of my league. Though he would never admit it to the likes of Grey, the thought of a casual hook-up scared him. Supposing the absurd happened and Adèle actually wanted that? Making out? With tongues? How the hell is that done? And with Adèle, so confident, so charming, and inevitably well-versed in that sort of thing.

It seemed to Josh that everyone else knew the rules for this sort of thing, but nobody had bothered to induct him into the mysteries. That struck him as rather unfair, because to his own surprise he found the idea quite attractive. Scary, but attractive. I think.

Doesn't matter anyway. He hurrriedly pushed these confusing, contradictory thoughts to the back of his mind. It was about time he got dressed anyway. He dug out a clean pair of jeans, the newest he could find, a black shirt, and his brown blazer out of the wardrobe. Inspecting himself in the mirror, freshly showered and shaven, Josh concluded that at least he didn't look as awkward as he felt.

*​

Josh found his father in front of the TV, watching the coverage of the latest Gym battles from around the region.

“Hey Dad, I need to borrow your car.”

“No,” he said immediately without even looking up.

“Oh, come on! Adèle and I are going to see a film tonight. Her hotel's on the other side of town!”

“No.”

Fine, so we're playing that game then? “Yeah, you're right,” Josh said with exaggerated nonchalance, “I've just got this notion about honour from somewhere, can't imagine where. I guess Adèle will have to walk through the town centre at half-past ten at night. Alone.”

“... alright. The key's on the hook. Be careful!”

“When am I ever not?” Josh said, turning to leave.

“Hey,” his dad called after him, “Remember -”

“Honour is its own reward. I know Dad.”

“Good lad.”

*​

It was a cold, clear night, colder than Josh had expected. He pretended not to shiver when they came out of the warm cinema lobby onto the frosty street. Adèle was buttoned throat to thigh in a navy blue coat, her cascade of chestnut hair spilling across her shoulders. At nine o'clock at night, Broad Street was still bustling, illuminated by the harsh yellow glare of street lights.

“They don't show many films like that in Kalos,” Adèle said.

“Really?”

“Non. Not in the cinema. That first moment where night falls, and the spirits appear with the lamp light, that was so … what is the word? Enchanteur?”

“Enchanting. Or spellbinding, perhaps,” Josh said. They ambled slowly down the street, Josh having parked the car on the empty library car park rather than on Broad Street itself. Having made a resolution to do nothing about this crush, Josh was finding himself able to relax a little more in Adèle's presence. Nevertheless, the crush burned on, like a warm glow in his chest.

It was just as well that he had seen the film before. Josh had inadvertently thought about Adèle through about half of it. He wondered about what it would be like to kiss her Da Vinci smile, whether she would keep smiling like she'd seen the funny side of life. It would be nice hold her afterwards, to be sure. Waltzing wasn't the same as cuddling.

'Are you telling me you wouldn't want a handful of her fine, foreign tits?' Josh still had trouble imagining that. Making out, touching and feeling … the concept remained intimidating. Another thought had struck him in the cinema – girls liked to touch around as well, right? Dancing had only served to remind Josh of his unimpressive body; small, slim, forgettable. He just couldn't see Adèle being attracted to his body.

“Spellbinding,” Adèle repeated, “Thank you for taking me out tonight. It's been a lovely evening.”

They walked in silence for a while, their breath frosting in the cold air. I wonder what she would do if I took her hand right now? A irrational courage seized him. He stopped abruptly, and took a deep breath.

“Adèle …” he started, and faltered. Adèle's big blue eyes took away the words. He didn't dare kiss her, and he had forgotten what he was going to say.

“Your cousin thinks I am attracted to you, doesn't he,” she said softly. Look at her eyes, not her lips.

“... are you?”

“No,” she said gently, and with that Josh's heart sank, “Mais, you make me feel safe. And that is more valuable than you know.”

Adèle wasn't smiling any more. Her eyes were sympathetic, the colour of a sunlit sea. There was a strange crushed feeling in his chest, like something was pressing down on his heart.

“You look so disappointed,” Adèle said. Josh took another deep breath and made himself meet her gaze. There was regret in her eyes, behind the sympathy.

“Maybe …. maybe I wanted you to like me more than even I realised.”

Adèle laid a warm, gentle hand against his cheek. Her expression turned serious. “If I had to choose, I would rather have you in my bed for the night than your cousin.”

“... really?”

Yes. Because I would rather have someone who makes me feel safe. Even if they were scared and inexperienced,” she added.

“That's … that's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me,” Josh said, taken completely aback. The crushed feeling in his chest persisted, conflicted with a rush of astonished pride. She would rather choose me! It wasn't the same as if Adèle were actually attracted to him, but to be ranked above Grey …

Josh wanted to show his affection for Adèle more than ever, not just because of his own attraction to her, but because of the way she was able to appraise and assuage his insecurity so deftly. He laid his own hand against her cheek, lightly caressing her smooth warm skin with his thumb.

“Tu as les mains douce,” Adèle said with a smile, a real smile, a smile that meant 'I am content'. “Allez … voulez-vous me nourris maintenant?”

Josh managed a weak laugh. “Ok. We'll go and get dinner then.”

*​

They spent the rest of the evening together, late dinner followed by hanging around at the bar until closing. Josh tried to enjoy the evening for what it was, but his heart wasn't really in it. His heart was awash with conflicting emotions; disappointment, pride, nascent love, a hollow spot where desire should have been. It was almost a relief to drive to the hotel. When he left Adèle at her room, she kissed him chastely on the cheek.

Afterwards, he wished she hadn't done that. It was a cruel kindness – for days all he could think of was her lips on his cheek, chaste and passionless.
 
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Don't Look Away
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (III)

Wow, that wasn't what I expected thankfully, but still pretty sad to be honest D: I feel bad for Josh. I hope we get to see Adele in the main story maybe :p
 
make plove not warble
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (III)

A good, satisfying ending, if a bit anticlimactic. It was about what I expected, but that's certainly not a bad thing. The only other ways it could have ended would have been kind of lame. I also hope that Adele at least gets a mention in Mostly Walking The Long Walk.
 
It's been a while
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (III)

Well, I still found myself having a little laugh as I read this. Even if the ending was rather sad, it was the only way you could have ended it without pissing me off, so congrats :p I'm kidding though, seriously this was a great short, and I'm glad you took the time to write it, even if it meant putting off A Long Walk. I look forward to returning to it with a new perspective of Josh.

Also, I though this was appropriate.
 
oh my
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (III)

That was really lovely. I can definitely empathize with Josh in regards to his feelings for Adele.

Unfortunately I can't really give much of a review. Everything was flawless, as far as I'm concerned. Just thought I should say a little something, though. :p
 
Thesaurus rex
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (III)

Perhaps I should post another round of responses!

A surprise ending? Well, probably. The boy doesn't get the girl, and it's not because of any dramatic reason. I suppose I wanted to subvert expectations with the ending - why I did what I did, and what it means for Josh (And Adele, for that matter) I'll leave up to you to decide. The story is deliberately ambiguous and contradictory at times, not for the sake of just being mysterious, but just to point out that this crushing (And sexuality) business is a lot more complex than we authors give it credit.

@AetherX, I will admit that I hadn't planned for Adele to make an appearance in The Long Walk. If she does it's unlikely to be a major appearance - I think I would be rather cruel indeed to have Josh cross her path again. As for a Long Verse spin-off starring Adele, I don't know, I doubt it. She isn't really well rounded enough to carry a story, I think, so it would take a lot of work to get her to the point where she could.

@Life, you give me far too much credit! I'm very flattered, nonetheless! I am sort of curious to know what you're favourite bits were, if you have no criticism - but don't take that as a request, per se! I am grateful that you commented at all ^^

@Safe-T I always forget something in responses. I didn't write this specifically to be funny, but if I know you at all I can take a guess at what you did laugh at!
 
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oh my
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Re: A Da Vinci Smile (III)

@Life, you give me far too much credit! I'm very flattered, nonetheless! I am sort of curious to know what you're favourite bits were, if you have no criticism - but don't take that as a request, per se! I am grateful that you commented at all ^^
Aha, well, I'm not really the best reviewer and I often skip over little grammatical things, so I suppose that's why I say such. Don't get me wrong, though, I still think everything was excellent.

About my favorite parts? To put things short, I love how relatable it is. Between the nervousness Josh has when around Adele to when he has those conversations with Grey. I also really love the "Damn Aunt Cassie" lines. They remind me of all the times I've been angered by a family member and say such things.

You also do a wonderful job of describing all the dance scenes.
 
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