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Day 7: Hypothetically
Things are still a bit awkward between Ben and Bea when they get to the Duke’s house an hour later. Though Bea had reassured him her parents seemed to like him, they both had hoped for a better introduction. The knowledge of the aunts’ betting had also got their heads buzzing. If they had been obvious enough for her aunts to cotton on, how much had their friends been talking about them behind their backs?
When they get out of the car, Hero opens the door and bounces over to them. Bea lets go of a sigh she’s been unconsciously holding, pleased to see that her cousins’ reconciliation seems to have gone well. Hero’s steps have got that spring in them again, something that has been sorely missing these past two months.
“Hi guys!” Hero chirps, pulling both of them into hugs. “Did you have a good date night last night?”
“Yeah” Bea replies. “It was alright; I had planned on coming home yesterday, though.”
“She fell asleep halfway through UP!” Ben informs, his voice filled with false outrage. “No sense of the classics, this one. We had to watch Wreck-It Ralph during breakfast to make up for it.”
Hero giggles. Beatrice glares at him.
“Well, if you hadn’t insisted on ‘one last film’, I wouldn’t have fallen asleep, and I wouldn’t have been exposed to the world's most awkward conversation this morning!”
“Okay, Beatrice” Hero says, managing to be both chipper and warning at the same time. “I sense there’s a story here, and I’m dying to hear it. Why don’t you come in and have lunch with us, Ben? I’m sure you’ll be more forthcoming than grumpy cat over here!”
Bea’s face instantly switch from her patented grumpy cat expression into pure insulted. “I do NOT look like grumpy cat! When have I ever looked like that?”
“Oh please” Hero waves dismissively. “You do it all the time; I’m sure it’s in, like, half the videos. I’m pretty sure we’ve got one where you make that face while actually wearing you grumpy cat t-shirt!” She turns to Ben for backup. “Right? You’ve seen it to, haven’t you?”
Ben clears his throat. “I haven’t seen that particular video, but I’m quite familiar with the expression.” Bea just glares at him, ‘You’re supposed to be on my side’ showing quite clearly in her eyes, and then she walks into the house, head held high.
Lunch is a pasta salad that Hero’s very pleased to have made from scratch herself. And even though Ben’s gotten to know her a lot better during the last two months, the devilish behaviour she sometimes exhibits still surprises him. This time, she shows it by waiting until both him and Bea have food in their mouths, and are just about to swallow, when she asks with a fake-innocent voice:
“So, what happened this morning to make you both so uncomfortable?” Hero’s smile never waivers through the panicked coughing coming from her cousin and her boyfriend. Instead, she keeps looking at them with bright, expectant eyes until they give in.
“You could use those eyes to fight crime” Bea groans, and resigns herself to tell the story.
“Alright, so I fell asleep at Ben’s last night, and didn’t wake up until this morning. So Ben made breakfast—“
“Which may have been a completely awesome breakfast that perhaps included someone’s favourite drink: Banana milkshakes. You know, hypothetically.” Ben butts in. Bea rolls her eyes, and continues.
“And we may have been arguing while we were taking care of the dishes, so Dickface here decided it was the perfect time to start a food fight.”
“I may have hypothetically been the one to have completely accidentally started the hypothetical food fight, or Bea could be said to have started it by talking about Fred’s death!” Ben defends himself. At Bea’s glare, he quickly adds “Hypothetically”.
“Anyway, our clothes were really messy, so I had to take a shower. When I came back, I realised I had planned to talk to my mum and dad today, and that I wouldn’t have time to get back home in time to take their call. So I borrowed Ben’s computer, and sat in front of his Harry Potter poster, and hoped my parents wouldn’t be able to tell I wasn’t home.”
Ben takes over. “While Bea was talking, I may have been taking a shower myself. And let’s say, hypothetically, I’d forgotten to bring a clean shirt with me into the bathroom, so I had to go get one from my room. And when I got back, Bea wasn’t there, so I thought she’d finished her call, and was using the computer to watch something else, hypothetically. So I picked it up, and…” He trails off, and clears his throat. “Hypothetically.” Bea gives him a weird look, before continuing.
“So yeah, while I’m away getting the power cord, Dickface picks up the computer, flashing his naked chest to my parents in the process, and reveals that I’ve been spending the night in the house of a boy they’ve never met!”
“Hypothetically” Ben breaks in.
“And my mum just casually goes on about ‘what a pleasure it is’ to meet Ben, asks when WE’RE planning on coming to Australia, and, get this, wants to ‘remind us to keep it safe’! It’s just— why would she think— it’s not even— huh— we haven’t— aurrgh!” Bea groans, pulling on her face. “It was the worst!”
Ben nods. “We quite possibly looked like tomatoes the entire time. Hypothetically.”
Waving her hands frantically, Bea carries on. “Oh, and get this! Dad said your mums have been betting on when Ben and I would get together, and they’ve been discussing it with my parents! Gaaah!” Bea’s eyes are quite wild, and for one second, Hero worries for the emotional wellbeing of her cousin. “Did you know about this? Have you been doing this yourself? Is that why it was all you and Meg and Ursula could talk about last winter? If so, I don’t care that you’re my cousin, Hero, I will fight you!”
Ben steps in, and puts his hand on Beatrice’s shoulder to try and calm her. “We’re not saying you’ve place bets on us, Hero, but maybe you’ve heard some gossip? Or perhaps participated in it? You know, completely hypothetical!” Bea whirls around, and pokes a finger in his chest.
“You keep using that word. I don’t think you know what it means.” Her tone is still angry, but the fire in her eyes have lessened somewhat, replaced by a familiar teasing sparkle. He grins back at her.
“Okay, one, we’re definitely adding that film to our ‘To watch’-list! Two, it’s a reference to one of my vlogs, from right around everything went to hell. All the guys were over at Pedro’s to talk about what they think they saw at you place that time, and to keep it from being too obvious, we talked about a ‘hypothetical’ situation. We repeated it so many times, it became an inside joke between me and Pedro. I just forgot you didn’t watch my videos.”
“Well, you stopped watching my videos, too!” Bea starts to defend herself, but is interrupted by Hero.
“Oh, that’s a great idea! A re-watch of all the vlogs! So much has happened over the past year, and since you haven’t been watching each other’s videos, it would be great to see them all together, so you can see what you missed. We can ask Ursula to set up a watchlist of all the videos in chronological order, and she could include her own ones and Balthazar’s song as well.” When Team Blessed (she can’t wait for them to see that particular video!) still look unsure about this proposition, she presses on. “It would be a perfect way to see how much you’ve evolved over the year. We could live-tweet it, too, so our followers could watch along with us, at the same time!” This sparks some interest in their eyes, and Hero knows she’s almost got them. “You could make fun of each other’s hypocrisy.”
And this is what seals the deal, because no matter how much Hero knows Bea loves Ben, she also knows how much her cousin likes to tease the people she cares about. This has been the primary form of communication between them for almost four years, now, and the only transition from arguing into flirting was taking the acid away from their words.
Bea looks over to Ben, and he grins widely at her, nodding. “Deal!” Bea says, before finishing the last of her salad. Hero smiles excitedly, and runs away to call Ursula.
“You’ll take care of the dishes, won’t you?” They hear her voice echo from the hallway.
“Sure!” Bea hollers back, before turning to Ben. “No food fights this time, though” she warns.
“I don’t know” Ben smirks, before gliding his arms around her, pulling her close. “Perhaps this time, we could shower together!” Bea’s protests are quickly muffled by his lips, and she sighs into the kiss.
The dishes can wait. She’s got more important things to do.