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Ravishment and Exasperation

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This story is rated PG.
There may be some content not for younger kids. However, there is nothing here they wouldn't say on the Total Drama series.

Disclaimer: Don't own anything but the fic.
Rating: T for Teenage Emotions. In Capital Letters.
Pairing: Noah/Lindsay.
Summary: What happened in the Playa that changed Noah's attitude? All he did when he was voted off was curse his teammates. Now he's alone... until Lindsay shows up and inadvertently makes him question everything he believes about himself.

Chapters

Chapter 1: The Wonders of Words

Noah was trying to enjoy some well-deserved quiet time to advance in his reading when the pages were suddenly darkened by a shadow. Sighing, he turned around to see who it might be... and found himself staring incredulously at Lindsay.

The blonde girl looked just as surprised as he must look. “Oh my gosh! How did you know I was here?”

This helped Noah recover. Nothing like a good dose of stupidity to remind him where he was, and with whom.

“Gee, I don't know, maybe... your shadow?” he replied, rolling his eyes.

There. He had given her a sarcastic answer, which was too much for her poor brain to comprehend. Now he had only to read his book while she stormed off, muttering about what a jerk he was, just like everybody else on the stupid island always did.

But he forgot Lindsay was even more stupid than the other campers – if that was even possible – which meant she couldn't even detect sarcasm. Great.

As if she had heard his thoughts, Lindsay said, “Ohhh. Can you, like, see ghosts and stuff?”

“Sure. All the time. I see dead people.”

“Really? If you see my Granny, could you tell her I'm sorry I stole her pearl necklace?”

“Will do.”

“Thanks! You're really nice.”

“Oh yes, Nice is my middle name.”

Lindsay just kept smiling at him, obviously not understanding a word of what he'd just said. She then proceeded to do something nobody else had done before – she sat next to him. Not out of obligation or because it was the only spot left, but because she wanted to. The thought made Noah so uncomfortable he began to get paranoid. What did she want with him?

There could only be one logical explanation.

“You are aware, Lindsay, that I'm not Tyler?”

“Don't be silly. Taylor's with his team. You are Noah, you're on my team!”

Noah was so surprised she actually remembered his name instead of her boyfriend's, he nearly allowed himself to look at her in surprise. Nearly.

“You know my name. I feel honored.”

“Sure I do!” she exclaimed happily. Her smile faded and gave way to a look of confusion. “Why wouldn't I know your name?”

That was it. Noone was that stupid, not even Lindsay. She was definitely up to something, why else would she act like that around him, when everybody else hated his guts?

“Okay, Lindsay.” He closed his book without bothering to bookmark the page he'd been reading, and turned to face her. “What are you doing here?”

She considered him for a moment.

“Well, I just wanted to share my gorgeousness with the world and–”

“Not on the show,” Noah snapped, exasperated, “I mean here. With me.”

“Ohh. I'm hiding from Cindy. She wants me to do something mean to Harry. But don't tell her I said that! And if she comes here, tell her you didn't see me. Promise?”

Noah assumed she was talking about Courtney and Harold, but did not bother to correct her. Nor did he bother to tell her that if Courtney were to come, she would most certainly see Lindsay sitting right next to him. Instead, he just turned another page of his book and said, “Promise.”

“Thanks! You really are nice.”

He tightened his grasp on the book, biting his lip. He knew the girl was not exactly the brightest crayon in the box, but even she ought to have heard what everyone else said about him. Surely she knew that he was a nasty know-it-all, or whatever other creative words those non-imaginative former comrades of his were using to describe him.

Still, it wouldn't make any difference what he said to her. She was beyond stupidity, just like he was beyond intelligence. It was as if they spoke in two completely different languages.

While Lindsay stretched her legs on the grass and sighed, Noah's perpetual frown deepened as he tried to concentrate on his reading. It turned out this made him concentrate on Lindsay's body next to his, and even if he tried desperately not to look, his eyes couldn't help but following an invisible line in her direction every time he reached the end of a particularly distracting – or was it concentrating? – sentence.

He would read, ...combined elements of ravishment and exasperation. Ravishment — because of her pale, voluptuous, impermissible skin, and his gaze would wonder inevitably to her legs, drawing their outline with his eyes, from her delicate ankles to her gracious knees and ending in her supple thighs, and there, he would swallow and read again; her hair, her legs, her angular movements, her gazelle-grass odor, and it would be worse than torture, because she would move and her chest would go up and down in the rhythm of her breathing, and he would have to turn back to his reading before he went crazy; exasperation — because between him, an awkward schoolboy of genius, and that precocious, affected, impenetrable child there extended a void of light and a veil of shade that no force could overcome and pierce. And then he had to wonder why on Earth this was affecting him so much, and why it was not her scent or her body that bothered him the most, but that last sentence that seemed almost like a prophecy: ...because between him, an awkward schoolboy of genius, and that precocious, affected, impenetrable child there extended a void of light and a veil of shade that no force could overcome and pierce.

“What are you reading?”

He almost let out a yelp – had she been looking at him? Had she noticed? – but caught himself on time. He rearranged the features of his face as if it were a puzzle, and put on his usual frown.

“It's called a book.” He hoped she hadn't noticed the slight crack in his voice, or the way his eyes were unmoving and glued to the page.

“I know, silly,” she giggled, her laughter chiming like bells, “I mean what's it about.”

He was determined not to look at her. He had to push her away before she intoxicated him anymore.

“It's about a guy who wants to read in peace, without anyone coming to bother him with stupid questions or calling him a jerk because they don't agree with him.”

She said nothing. He thought maybe she had understood him this time, and he feared he had gone too far. Then he wondered why he feared he would hurt her feelings in the first place.

“Sounds like a very sad story,” she said at last.

Noah let out a breath he had not realized he had been holding.

“So, what happens next?” Lindsay asked, her voice dripping with concern. It was almost as if she truly cared about what happened to a fictional character who wasn't even fictional.

“A girl comes to annoy the hell out of the guy. She doesn't let him read with her constant yapping.”

“Ohh. You wanna know what I think?”

No, he thought firmly. Just go away. Leave me alone.

“Not particularly, no.”

“I think the girl is being really kind to the boy, because she's being his friend.”

That took him by surprise.

“His friend?” he was careful to sound sarcastic and unaffected, and not at all hopeful.

She nodded, smiling. “Yes. Because she saw he was lonely, so she went to keep him company.”

Noah opened his mouth to reply, but for the first time in his life he found he had no words. Maybe it was that perfume of hers, and the way it was tickling his nostrils and clouding his mind.

“Lindsay!” someone said. They both jumped in surprise when they saw Courtney coming, her strides wide and angry. “There you are!”

“She saw me!” Lindsay whispered.

Courtney planted herself in front of them, barely aknowledging Noah's presence, and instead focusing on Lindsay.

“Where have you been?” she growled. “You know you have to help me get back at Harold!”

“I wasn't aware slavery still existed in Canada,” Noah commented as casually as he could, even though he could barely hold back his fury. Sure, Lindsay was stupid and easy to manipulate, but that didn't give anyone the right to take advantage of those weaknesses. If anything, they should help her. But of course, he should have known better than to expect anything even remotely resembling kindness from these idiots.

Courtney ignored him. “Lindsay, we have work to do!”

Lindsay hesitated, mumbling and taking her hand near her mouth. Noah closed the book loudly.

“Sorry, Courtney, but she's busy.”

Courtney turned her fierce black eyes to him, and Noah suddenly understood why she was even more intimidating than Heather, and why Lindsay hadn't told her off. He also understood why she was Duncan's girlfriend.

“Oh, really?” she asked, crossing her arms. “Doing what?”

“I'm giving her Literature lessons.” He put his hand over Lindsay's mouth quickly, out of fear she would get excited and ask him when they were going to start. “She failed Literature, and she's hoping to pass it when she goes back to school.” He waited for Courtney to leave, very much aware of the fact that he was sweating under her and Lindsay's gaze. “Last time I checked, Harold did not bully himself, you know.”

Courtney didn't look like she bought a single word of what he'd just said, but to Noah's immense relief, she left. After she was out of sight, Noah took his hand off of Lindsay's plump lips, feeling suddenly ashamed. He thought he could feel the shape of her mouth burning itself into his palm, branding him forever.

You're being absurd, Noah, he told himself. Stop reading Shakespeare and Nabokov! It's gotten into your head.

“Sorry about that,” he said uncomfortably.

“Why? You saved me!” Lindsay exclaimed happily. “My hero!”

Then, before Noah could even see it coming, she wrapped her arms around him and squeezed him tightly. Noah felt every part of his body that was in contact with hers grow hot, and even his breath seemed to stop in his lungs. Her fragrance was poisoning him now; he could practically taste it. It was flowery, and sweet, and it seemed to adhere itself to his skin.

He pulled her away as soon as he regained his senses. He had to keep his distance before he went mad again.

“Did I... Did I do something wrong?” Lindsay asked him, her eyes big and watery.

He couldn't look at her, he knew she was hurt. This time, the idea that he had hurt someone without even opening his mouth made him feel bitter, and guilty, and angry.

“No, Lindsay. I just don't like...” People? You, making me uncomfortable? “...hugs.”

“But why?” she insisted. “Everyone loves hugs.”

There it was – everyone. He was not like everyone, and everyone loved to remind him of it, didn't they?

“Well I'm not everyone, in case you haven't noticed!” he snapped. “I'm the weird kid that nobody likes, so no, I don't like hugs, or parties, or whatever other insipid pastimes you might have. Now excuse me while I go and do some unnormal things you probably think make me a freak.”

With that, he left.


Chapter 2: Revelations


“(Their relationship) combined elements of ravishment and exasperation (...)”
--Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, by Vladimir Nabokov


Lindsay didn't have to worry about Courtney pestering her for the rest of the day, but somehow that unpleasant feeling in her stomach would not leave her, and it was even worse than the fear she felt whenever she was near Courtney. It must have shown on her face, too, because when she met Beth by the pool, her friend frowned in the most unflattering way. Lindsay would never tell her that, though – Beth was very sweet, not to mention that she actually treated her with respect.

“Did Courtney forthe you to do somethingth to Harold?” Beth asked her, concerned.

Lindsay sat next to her and immersed her feet in the cool water, still trying to decipher what that knot in her stomach was.

“No,” she said, staring at her toes, watching them move at her command. That she could understand. “I tried to hide, like you told me to, but she found me anyways. She's so smart...”

“What happened?”

“I don't know,” Lindsay answered truthfully. That was the only response that was never wrong: she never knew anything. “Noah told her I couldn't go with her because I failed Literature and he was helping me study.” She paused, wondering why he had said that. “It's very weird, because I never took Literature...”

“Wait, Noah? You were with that guy?”

Lindsay didn't like the way Beth looked now, either, but she sensed it had nothing to do with her appearance this time.

“Yeah,” she replied, a little less confidently this time.

“Why?”

“You were the one who told me to hide,” Lindsay said, half-accusingly, half-uncertainly. Had she gotten that wrong, too?

“Yes, but not with Noah.” Her voice softened when she saw Lindsay's expression. “He'th tho mean, Lindth, he probably made fun of you. And you're tho... kind, you probably didn't notithe.”

Lindsay bit her lip. Was that how it had been? But she thought he had helped her, when he had said that to Courtney... or had she been mistaken? It was true that she didn't understand most of what he had said to her, and then he had rejected her hug and ran away...

“I don't get it,” Lindsay mumbled, hugging her knees to her chest. The knot in her stomach tightened, and something else – something that wasn't even a part of her body – hurt.

She wanted to ask Beth to explain it to her, but something in the way she had reacted when Lindsay had mentioned Noah told her it would be best not to. But who could she ask, then? It had to be someone who was smarter than her, but not mean like Heather or impatient like Greta.

“I'm going for a walk,” she told Beth.


She found her where she always was: by Geoff's side. Surprisingly, they weren't making out; instead they were talking quietly and murmuring sweet nothings into each other's ears. Lindsay squealed inside – that was so cute! She wished she had someone like that too. But none of her boyfriends had ever treated her the way Geoff treated Bridgette. She wondered why that was.

She didn't want to interrupt them, but before she even had the chance to reconsider, Bridgette looked in her direction and smiled slightly at her. “Um, hi, Lindsay.”

Geoff seemed startled. He looked around until his eyes found Lindsay, and then he smiled too. “What's up, man?”

“Well, I kinda have a question... No, more like two. I need help.”

Bridgette and Geoff exchanged a look, before approaching her hand-in-hand.

“Is everything okay?” Bridgette asked her kindly. “I know Courtney can be a little intimidating, but she's not mean. I'm sure she'll stop if she knows she's bothering you.”

“It's not that. But it kinda is, in a way... You see, I was trying to hide from her, so I went where Noah always goes to read his big books, and we talked.”

“You talked to Courtney?” Geoff asked, bewildered.

“No, me and Noah talked,” Lindsay corrected him. She tried desperately to remember what they had talked about. There was Noah, sitting on the grass, reading... she had asked him about the book. “He was very nice.” Then she remembered what Beth had said, and she wasn't so sure. “Anyway, Cindy found us and she wanted me to go with her, but Noah told her that I couldn't go because I failed Literature.”

The couple exchanged another quick look, and then Bridgette said, “So... he helped you get rid of Courtney?”

Lindsay nodded.

“Then what's the problem, man?” Geoff asked her. “The dude saved you–”

“Yeah, that's what I thought too!” Lindsay exclaimed, happy that she had been right about that. “But then I hugged him, and he pushed me away. He got really angry, and started telling me how he didn't like hugs, and he ran away! And I don't know if it was because of something I said.”

Bridgette put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed it gently. “No, you didn't do anything wrong. He really is a jerk.”

“Yeah, dude just can't chill.”

“He's not like that,” she protested. In her mind, being a jerk was deeply associated with Heather. And she knew Noah wasn't anything like Heather. Heather bossed people around; Noah was hardly around people at all. How could anyone even say he was mean? He hadn't used her to help himself – he had helped her just for her sake, and she hadn't even asked for it.


Noah couldn't concentrate on his reading that afternoon. Every now and then he would come across a sentence, or a word, or even a simple letter (L, S, Y), that reminded him of his conversation with Lindsay. And he could not allow his mind to go there.

He couldn't get past the last sentence he had read, and even when his eyes followed the trail of the black letters across the page as his brain turned them into words, a little voice inside him kept repeating that paragraph over and over again, like a chant: “between him, an awkward schoolboy of genius, and that precocious, affected, impenetrable child there extended a void of light and a veil of shade that no force could overcome and pierce.

With that voice echoing in his head, he gave up and went down for dinner. He sat alone at his usual table, pretending to read while he ate. Normally he would just shield himself behind his book, but today, it seemed as if the pages had turned invisible. Somehow, he could sense the piercing glares every person in the room was sending his way. He wondered what he had said to upset them now.

Then it hit him, and he shrank in his seat as a single name delivered the answer, which seemed to echo in his mind, chiming like the bells her laughter reminded him of: Lindsay.

He dared to lower his book at eye-level, so that he could do a quick scan of the room. As he had feared, everyone in it was staring at him. Some looked away immediately, while others held his gaze fiercely. Still, the only pair of eyes Noah was looking for was not there.

Just when he was about to get up, she propped down in the seat opposite him, blocking his view of the others. Her light blue eyes weren't angry, but there was something there that Noah couldn't identify.

He didn't know what to say, or even how to react. Was she here to yell at him?

“Hi, Noah,” she said, sounding nervous, and most certainly not yelling. Suddenly she smacked her forehead. “Ohh! I forgot to ask if I could sit down!”

She was about to get up, but Noah's arm reached hers automatically and pulled her down as if it had a mind of its own. She looked surprised. He withdrew his arm as fast as he could, and tried to use his book as a shield again.

“You don't have to,” he murmured, utterly embarrassed by that pathetic display of... whatever that was. “You're not anybody's slave here.”

“You're right! Nobody bosses me around anymore,” Lindsay said excitedly, “not Heather, and not Courtney. Lindsay stands up for herself now!”

He was relieved that she was babbling about stupid things now, since it made him remember who she was in the first place. He lowered his book, feeling more like his old self now.

“So, you came all the way here to pass me the memo?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow.

Lindsay's jaw dropped. “What memo? Oh, no! Don't tell me I had to tell you something–”

“No, Lindsay,” he interrupted her, quite exasperated. “I wasn't being literal.”

“But aren't you always literal? You have a book and all,” she pointed to said book as if to prove she had evidence to support her claims.

Noah almost laughed, not because she was being incredibly stupid, but because he genuinely thought the situation was funny. Then he remembered himself.

“What I meant is...” He paused, considering explaining to her the difference between literal and literary, but decided against it. Instead, he would try the only approach that worked with Lindsay: the direct, in-your-face one. “What are you doing here?”

For the first time since he'd known her, Lindsay actually looked a little shy and uncomfortable. Noah winced. It was like seeing his inner self reflected in her.

“I just wanted to ask,” she began, twirling a lock of her sunny hair in one finger, and looking at the silverware intently, “if I did something wrong today... Because sometimes, I say things and people take it the wrong way, and I thought maybe that's what happened, and I'm sorry that I made you angry!”

When she finished, her face was quite red, but her eyes were fixed on Noah's with what seemed to be fear. Noah felt like shielding behind his book again, but this time it was out of shame. No wonder everyone was sending him those nasty looks. He had officially Kicked the Puppy.

But since when did he start caring about that?

He looked into her face, and instantly looked away. She had the power of making him feel guilty and nauseous and stupid all at once, and Noah hated it. He just wanted her to go away, and he wanted the feeling to be gone with her.

“No, Lindsay, it wasn't anything you said or did,” he said slowly, trying to keep his voice as monotone as always. “You were very nice. I was just a jerk, as always.”

“That's not true! You're not a jerk!” she exclaimed, so stubbornly and so sure of what she was saying that it took him completely by surprise. He was sure that no one had ever denied the fact that he was a jerk, not even his own parents or closest friends. Yet here she was, the most stupid person he knew, refuting what he had always considered a truth. A bitter one, but a truth all the same.

He was too astounded to say anything, but luckily she went on.

“You were nice to me. You saved me from Courtney just because you wanted to, not because I forced you to do it or because you would get something out of it or anything...”

Noah thought about it for a moment. It was true, what he had done had been pretty selfless. Selfless. Kind. Now those were two words he thought he'd never use to describe himself.

“Did I say the wrong thing again?” asked Lindsay. It was only then Noah realized there had been a long pause, and she had been waiting for the response.

“No.” Surprisingly even to himself, Noah wasn't getting tired of being asked stupid questions by Lindsay. In fact, he couldn't get over the impression that Lindsay was extremely insecure in some aspects. He'd never thought people like Lindsay could ever be insecure.

“Then why are you frowning so much?”

He sighed. “I'm always frowning, Lindsay. That's not exactly a novelty.”

“A what-ly?”

“Nothing. It's really okay. Don't worry about it.”

She still looked unsure, and somehow that horrible feeling would not leave. He had to do something to dissipate her doubts so that she'd leave him alone for once, alone in his comfortable mind with his comfortable ideas and his comfortable self.

“Look, the reason I didn't hug you back was...” he began to say, only to interrupt himself as he thought about that moment. Why had he pushed her away? Why was he so incapable of accepting human contact? No, don't go there, he told himself firmly. He focused on trying to come with a simple explanation for Lindsay, something that she could understand and that wouldn't hurt her feelings.

Before he could form an answer to all those questions, though, someone slammed their fists on the table, causing it to shake slightly. Noah and Lindsay turned at the same time, only to find Tyler standing there, looking not at all pleased.

“Oh, hey Taylor!” Lindsay greeted him.

He looked hurt that she didn't remember his name, and Noah couldn't help but snicker at this. She remembered his name, and he had never gone out with her.

“Is this idiot bothering you, Lindsay? I heard he was a real jerk to you today,” he glared at Noah, who ignored him completely. Of course, he knew Lindsay would go blabber to her friends how he had been so mean to her, so he wasn't really surprised that her boyfriend felt the need to protect her.

“Why does everyone keep saying that? Noah's not a jerk,” Lindsay said. “And he wasn't bothering me.”

Tyler looked like he seriously doubted that, but instead he said sweetly, “Linds, let's just go.”

She crossed her arms like a little child who was being denied something she wanted.

“I'm not your slave!”

“I know you aren't, babe, I'm just trying to help you out here.” He lowered his voice, but Noah could still hear him. “He always makes fun of people, but you're so innocent you can't tell... So let's just go, okay?”

So this was the way everyone treated her. No wonder she was so clueless – everyone in her life sheltered her because they knew she wasn't smart enough to understand the world. That was the reason she was always seeking reassurance. She was constantly afraid of being wrong, because she was convinced that she could never be right.

“What are you so worried about?” Noah asked the jock. He was suddenly mad at him for no particular reason. “Afraid if you let her out of your sight, she might have some thoughts of her own for once?”

Noah wasn't surprised when Tyler grabbed him by the collar, bringing him close to his face. He was even less surprised when all the sounds in the dining room were silenced as all eyes fell on the two of them. They were a bunch of predictable, mindless sheep, after all.

“What did you just say?”

“Such a stupid rhetorical question.” Noah rolled his eyes. “You know what I said.”

Tyler shook him slightly, and Lindsay gasped.

“Yes I do, that's why I'm giving you the chance to take it back,” Tyler growled, breathing into his face. He smelled of chicken. “So. Take. It. Back.”

“Stop it, Tyson!” Lindsay stood up and grabbed him by the arm, and at the same time, Geoff and DJ decided to intervene to help split them up. All they had to do was force Tyler to release his hold on Noah, who fell neatly on his seat like some limp doll.

“You alright, man?” DJ asked him.

“No, I'm destroyed. Can't you see how violent that guy is? He's a monster! Look what he's done to me!”

DJ actually chuckled, and then proceeded to give Noah one of those weird punches on the shoulder that were considered so manly among their pedestrian culture. Deciding this was a good sign, Noah smiled at him – as much as he could smile, that was – and watched him leave with Tyler and Geoff.

He had forgotten Lindsay was still there until she spoke.

“Awww, I'm so sorry, Noah, are you okay?”

“He didn't hit me, Lindsay,” he replied, half-annoyed, half-touched that she cared. “That counts as okay in my books. Anyway, shouldn't you be with him?”

Lindsay just stared at him blankly.

“You know, with your boyfriend? Tyler? Tall guy, brown hair, red jumpsuit? The guy you make out with?”

“Oooh, him. He's not my boyfriend, silly. We just hang out.”

“Maybe you should tell him that. I don't think he's noticed.”

“Beth said the same thing!” she exclaimed, pointing her finger to him in triumph. Then she paused and brought it to her lips. “But I thought he knew that already.”

Noah was getting irritated by now. “Obviously he doesn't.”

“You're right,” she said, as if it was the ultimate revelation. Then she beamed at him. “Thanks!”

Barely stopping himself from blushing or losing his perpetual frown, Noah asked, “What for?”

“For your help,” she smiled, but suddenly she looked sad. “You know, I don't get why people say you're mean.”

“Me neither. Who doesn't love a sadistic bastard who makes fun of them with his sarcastic remarks and snarky comebacks?”

She brightened up again. “I know, right? Maybe they just don't get you. Like me, for example. I don't get most things, so I know what it's like. But I get you.”

He had to resist the inner urge – no, the need – to snort at that. If there was anyone in the world less capable of understanding him, it had to be Lindsay. After all, he was a geek genius and an outcast, whereas she was dumber than those ridiculous cowboy boots she wore. She was loved and accepted by all, and was nice and sweet; he was the asshole everyone hated. How on Earth could she possibly claim to 'get him'?

But it was Lindsay herself who answered this.

“They just need to see the other side of you,” she said simply.

And that was all it took. Maybe there was another side to him, one that he didn't know himself, and one that only someone as radically different from him as Lindsay was could see.

“You know, Lindsay,” he said, for once dropping his monotone voice. “I think you might be smarter than people give you credit for.”

“Really?” she asked hopefully. Noah felt sad that she would ever get so excited about hearing someone mention the possibility that she was smart. “Really really?”

Again, he found himself half-wanting to make a snarky comment, and half-wanting to smile at her. As disturbing as the last idea was, he couldn't exactly poke fun at somebody who probably wouldn't even realize it.

“Really. You have what's called emotional intelligence.”

“Ooh,” she said, nodding as if it all had become clear now. Then she asked, after a pause, “What does that mean?”

He had to repress a sigh.

“That you're the female Anti-Me.”

“I thought that was Justin,” she replied, frowning a little.

“What I meant is,” he explained as patiently as he could, “is that you're the opposite of me. People like you, you like people, yadda-yadda.”

Her usual cheerful expression was gone from her beautiful face – Noah almost choked on his tea – wait! Beautiful? He had not just thought that!

“But people like me because I'm pretty,” she said sadly, “and because they feel sorry for me for some reason. They treat me like a kid.”

Noah was not expecting that response. Hell, he was not expecting anything other than a blank stare.

“Now that I think about it,” Lindsay went on, “you are the only one who doesn't treat me like that!” she said, looking at him with those big, blue eyes.

Noah was too ashamed to meet her gaze. He had always thought Lindsay was about as deep and intelligent as a Twilight novel. If he were truly as much of a genius as his IQ score indicated, why had he failed to notice it? Why was he constantly failing at the subject of People?

The night of his elimination came back to him all of a sudden. Looking back, he now realized why he had been truly mad that the others had chosen Lindsay over him – it hadn't had anything to do with being left out in favor of the team's idiot, but it had had more to do with the fact that they liked her better than they liked him. And why wouldn't they? She had competed with them, she had cheered everybody on. He had sat reading a book and acting like a jerk.

Maybe he wasn't surrounded by idiots – maybe the idiot was him.

And the fact that it was Lindsay, the Queen of all idiots, who had made him realize that, made him feel almost as embarrassed as he felt for being attracted to her.

Trivia

  • The fic was originally published on my fanfiction.net account, on October 1.
  • The first chapter was proofread by SummerEliza, whose Noah/Lindsay fic "Beautiful Geek" inspired the story in the first place.
  • The book Noah is reading, and the one from which the passages come from, is Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle, by Vladimir Nabokov.

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