(3018-01-30) Definitely Not Not Flirting
Summary: Harper and Archer meet in the grounds of Albion Commons, and for the first time, she isn't able to hide behind her books or her glasses
Date: IC Date
archer harper 

Oy! Magic School! What a change it is from your typical, everyday education! Even for Adroits, the specialized classes and attention are (quite literally) worlds away from what the kids would have grown up with. Laying in the grass, off to the side of the central commons area, Archer has one hand crooked behind his head, the other is holding up his tab while he reads, brow furrowed in concentration.

*

Were Archer's attention on the Avalonian teleporter and not on the tablet in his hand, he'd spot Harper's arrival as she steps down and away from it. Dressed in loose-fitting khaki green pants, a matching tee-shirt and with an overly large shirt that's left unbuttoned down the front, she fishes in a bag that's slung crosswise across her front, and pulls from it an apple. She sets to polishing it briskly as she heads towards the Western Commorancy. It's perhaps fortunate that she's watching where her feet are going, for she spots Archer long before the possibility of her tripping over him might occur, and she pulls herself to a halt a couple of paces short of him. A bite is taken of her apple, and she chews on the mouthful a couple of times before speaking. "Hi. Someone will fall over you if you lie there like that." But not her. Obviously. <English>

*

Looking up from his reading, Archer quirks an eyebrow. "I would expect most of the us pay enough attention to the world around us that we'd spot somoene laying in the grass, just like you did. I mean, we're s'posed to be exceptional, right?" he asks, grinning. "Besides. I don't understand why more of us aren't taking the time to enjoy these things," he says, one arm sweeping around to indicate the grass around him. "I don't know where everyone else is from, but there's got to be more kids like me who didn't get to enjoy actual, natural /nature/ very often. It's so different than the manufactured, imported stuff." <English>

*

Harper gives the smallest uplift of her shoulders, and neatly lowers herself to sit in the grass, a short distance from Archer. "Ngh. You'd be surprised she says," swallowing down what's in her mouth before rotating the apple for another bite. "And yes. I know what you mean." she speaks through her mouthful, "… It's sort of overwhelming at times, and this is nothing on Avalon itself." She breaks off, her mouth skewing as she studies Archers face more intently. "I'm guessing you must be an adroit rather than a phenom, right? I can't admit to having seen you anywhere around Canterbury Halls, and I'm pretty good with faces. I'm Harper, by the way." <English>

*

"Archer Ryan, from Jupiter. And yeah, I am," he says, setting his tab down and reaching his hand over in an offered shake. "Adroit, I mean. Just arrived a few days ago. It's pretty spectacular. But I hear it's nothing compared to where you guys go to school. Is it really that fancy over there? I mean, I'm used to space stations and stuff, but our school is still way more advanced than any place I've ever seen before." <English>

*

Harper spends a few more moments eating around the core of her apple before speaking again. "Oh right. Jupiter, huh? I've been doing a bit of reading and research about one of it's moons recently. Io." She doesn't say why, but it's perhaps no more important than anything else that the students are now learning, researching and also being taught. "But yeah. Spectacular would pretty much cover it." A slow nod of her head. "You can stand in Avalon and look to the north where what they call Dread Mountain lies, or to the east where the Whisper Forest is. West is the Fire Borough and south is the Harbour of Undoing. But don't ask me what any of those places are like, because no matter how much you try, you can't get to them." A smile quirks her lips. "Believe me, I've tried. I'm wondering if they're like 'tests' or something for us. When we're deeper into our studies, perhaps." And having spoken perhaps more than she might usually do, she frowns, placing the remains of her apple on the grass to one side before rubbing her hands down her thighs, wiping them clean. "But much as you've never been to Avalon, I've never spent time in a space station either. Do they tell you why all your lessons are up there?" A point of her finger to the skies. <English>

*

When his hand is ignored … or, more likely, just not noticed, he decides, Archer lowers it and instead uses it to help push himself up onto his side while he listens to her. He smiles a little when she pauses to frown, the corners of his mouth twitching upwards. Smile or smirk, it's hard to tell the difference. "Really? Never? Well … unless you're fascinated with metal and bulkheads, it's only really impressive feature is the view." He points up at Saturn before explaining, "Close as we are to that, the space station is in between both, so you get good looks both ways. But nah, they haven't said anything yet beyond the fact that, 'your courses of studies are entirely different and your training is best suited for /here/, NOT for Avalon, which is why you are kept separate.'" The fact that he puts on an accent and pulls a face while he's saying this last bit makes it obvious he's mimicking a faculty member's explanation. "But, it does make a little sense why we don't let you mages up there. Somebody makes an oopsie with a fireball, suddenly your whole class gets vented into deep space. Costly way to learn what not to do." And now he's definitely smirking at Harper playfully. <English>

*

Harper's nose scrunches. "I guess so. I mean, the vented to space thing. My special talents is metals, so a mistake by me and…" She halts herself, or more likely she loses herself in her own imaginings about what havoc the twisting, warping or disintegration of metals on board a space station might wreak. Did she notice the offering of his hand? Did she? Only Harper herself would know the answer to that question, and having wiped her hands clean she plants them behind herself, fingers pointed backwards and splaying in the grass. "Did you come with much family?" It's the obvious question for her to ask, her glasses slipping a little down the plane of her nose so that eyes of a quiet grey observe him above the rim of them. <English>

*

When she pauses, Archer waits again for her to finish. But, she doesn't. Archer chuckles silently a couple times, the only indication his smirk and his shoulders shaking lightly when Harper continues on a completely different subject. "Well, I came with all, but I don't know what you'd consider much. Mom and dad, little sister, baby brother. Five, in all. What about you? You said metal, so … Mercury, right?" he asks, shifting back to laying on his back, though he does keep his head turned towards Harper. Her eyes get particular study, grey being a fascinating color for eyes. And with her glasses slid down a little ways, he can see them better. <English>

*

"Three brothers. One older, two younger. Mum and dad," Harper says, a note of tightness creeping into the tone of her voice. "And yes. Mercury. Mostly we were in Port Capena." Her fingers curl into the earth and there's another small shrug given with her shoulders. It'd appear she's a little reluctant and not quite so open as her peers when it comes to divulging much of her details, but it could easily be put down to her nature being more on the reserved and quiet side of things. Her eyes dig briefly into Archer's and there's a moment of awkwardness that seems to descend on her, punctuated by a slight shift of her weight so that she can pull a hand from behind her to push her glasses back up her nose. "Were you on the recent mission where a Curseling was killed?" It's another change of subject, onto something that's perhaps a little less personal for her, though there's still a tension to her voice as the question is asked. <English>

*

- Archer rolls his Perception (2D+0) for a total of 7 (Wild Die: 2), perhaps enough for a Easy task.

*

While Archer is watching Harper, he's too distracted by her eyes to notice the tension that seems to creep up on her. "Oh, nice," he responds to her comments about her family, smiling. But, she changes the subject again and Archer isn't bothered by it. "Nah, I wasn't. I've met the two students that were there, though. Ceres is an Adroit and actually lives in my common-whatsit, and Sunny is a phenom. I think he's from Mercury, too, if I recall. Pretty b-a, the way I hear it. Cut the thing's head off. Wish I coulda been there," he says, shaking his head. "But, I figure, I got a whole life of fighting ahead of me, but no training behind me, so I should probably wait until that scale's slid a /little/ further in the other direction. Not in a hurry to get kilt or anything." And no, he's not talking about turning into a men's skirt, it's just his pronunciation. <English>

*

"Yes. He was. Sunny, that is. He's the only one I know that was there," Harper says, her mouth buttoning with the moue of a pout, before it's swiftly erased with a blowing out of her breath. "I'd like to see one, a Curseling, though Sunny confirmed pretty much everything that I've learned of them. That dread fear thing they do, you know? He said it was bad, really bad, and I don't think that there's anything that our teachers can do to prepare us for that. Not really. You could be the best fighter the Society has, and still be affected by it." With her words, she perhaps displays a knowledge that shows she's been taking her studies seriously and the line of her mouth flattens once more as draws another breath to throw another question his way. "What are you yourself good at? I heard that some of the adroits use drones that are linked to them, and that others are working with weapons and armor. What about you?" <English>

*

"Yeah, I heard that, too. Still. I wanna face one," Archer says, looking up at the sky while his brow furrows, thinking about it. He's quick to grimace, though, and shake his head. "Not by myself, though. I know that's suicide. But we been on the losing end of this for so long. I can't wait to take the fight back to them." He takes a breath, then looks back over at Harper, smiling again. "GyroBow, for one. Been shooting those since I was big enough to hold it. Bostaff, too- some folks call it a quarterstaff. We're still doing the initial testing to see what kinda powers I got, so I dunno about that yet. But, between drones and weapons and armor? I'm definitely guessing it's weapons and armor. Otherwise, I wasted a whoooooole lotta time," he says with a smirk. Then, he turns the question around. "What about you, Miss Mercury? Besides being brilliant, what are you good at?" <English>

*

- Harper rolls her Transform (2D+2) for a total of 11 (Wild Die: 3), perhaps enough for a Moderate task.

*

Harper ghosts a smile to the Miss Mercury bit. It's a half-smile. An almost smile. It's also fleeting, tipping the edges of her mouth enough to soften her expression, before is pushed away with a crinkling of her nose. "Well. Like I said before. Metals. I can do stuff with metals." She brings her other hand from where it's still planted on the ground behind her back, and quickly brushes a strand of hair back from the side of her face before holding it out, palm upwards towards Archer where he sits. He'll feel it as a warmth across his stomach, Harper's eyes narrowing and the tip of her nose flaring slightly as she concentrates quietly on the task that she's set for herself. There's a shimmering that centres upon the buckle that holds the belt fastened upon his waist; it's molecular structure breaking down until it disintegrates silently and without fuss into a pile of dust in his lap. A tilt of her head, and there… right there… amusement shows in her face. <English>

*

Archer grins when he ALMOST gets a smile out of her. SO close! But then, as she reaches out and he starts to feel funny, he quirks an eyebrow. He looks down, his brow furrowing a little when his buckle starts to shine. And then disappears. That raises both of his eyebrows and then he looks over at Harper. "Well, then," he says. Then, he smirks and starts to chuckle. "I should really make some offhanded remark about this, especially because I think it'd be really cute to see you blush. But, I think there's a fifty-fifty chance that it would make you get up and leave, instead, and that would definitely defeat the purpose," he says. "Either way, color me impressed. And yeah, definitely wouldn't want you doing that on the space station." <English>

*

Harper's brow furrows with a frown, and her lower lip tucks between her teeth at the tease. "I don't blush." Apparently she does however, for there's the slightest lift of colour across the upper reaches of her cheeks, and her frown turns to a scowl as she lowers her hand and reaches to claim back her apple core. "It's about learning to control it," she says, wrapping the core inside a tissue before tucking it away. "I mean, I could have over-egged it and made it explode or melt, and that could have been pretty nasty for you." A pause before she adds, "And, well, me. I don't suppose it'd go down well if I'd deliberately harmed an adroit." A glance back to Archer and a holding of his eyes with her own. "But I guess I owe you a belt now. At least I've plenty of credit left, given I rarely shop." <English>

*

Archer tries very hard to stifle his snicker and keep a straight face when he shakes his head. "No, no blushing, whatsoever. It isn't that adorable, either. And it doesn't make your eyes sparkle, even in the slightest," he agrees, wholeheartedly. Sort of. "But thank you for not exploding my stomach. It usually takes me a little while before I'm spilling my guts to people." He smiles again, fully and brightly, at Harper. "But you don't owe me anything, you're good. I have more belts, and I was the one who asked you to show me what you could do. So we're square, aight?" <English>

*

"I gotta go," Harper scowls, clambering quickly to her feet as Archer continues to tease her further. A renewed offer of a belt isn't made, perhaps because he's so thoroughly turned the first one down, and she tugs the strap of her bag into place so it lies comfortably where it ought. She's not flustered by the tease, she's absolutely not. Or maybe… just maybe… she is. A breath is audibly huffed, and whereas she'd just said she had to go, she does linger long enough to quickly say, "Probably won't see each other again, not until we find ourselves on a mission together or something. So. You know. Good luck with your stuff and everything. Hope it goes well for you." <English>

*

Archer blinks a couple of times, then quickly tries to climb to his feet as well. "Well, now, wait a minute, don't go running off," he says, dusting his pants off and making sure they're staying up, now that they're no longer secured. Thankfully, they are. "I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to upset you. And I'd hate for you to leave upset with me. And I'd hate to think that now you'd avoid me because you think I'm just gonna tease you all the time. I can stop, I promise," he offers, holding his hands up to the side plaintively. <English>

*

"I'm not running off." Harper says, another scowl claiming her features as she watches Archer follow suit and climb to his feet. "And I'm not upset with you." She is. She so is. She unhooks a hand from her bag strap on which it was anchored, and runs it quickly across the crown of her head where her hair's been pulled into a tail. "Look. I just, you know…" He knows what? And there it is again, another lift of her shoulders when she can't think of the words that she needs in that immediate moment. Her mouth skews to the left as she turns something over in her thoughts. It's clear that she is, for her eyes flick to Archer, then away, then back to settle on him once more. "Look. We can exchange details if you like. Proof that I'm not upset with you?" She holds a hand out, the left one, her OED strapped about her wrist. "And I don't avoid people," she does, "… it's generally the other way 'round." <English>

*

Archer smirks a little, holding up a finger. "One. /So/ running off. If you had someplace you needed to be, you wouldn't have sat down next to me in the first place." Another finger. "Two, I don't want you to give me your details as a way to prove you're not upset with me. If you're not upset with me, stay, hang out, let me get to know you better. And three," a final finger raised as Archer's grin turns even more impish. "Most people avoid a /lot/ of things in life. I'm not most people, and I definitely don't wanna avoid you." And then he's grinning at her again, waiting to see her reaction. He doesn't move to accept her OED offer at all, just holding up his counting fingers. <English>

*

Harper stares at Archer's hand, or more she stares at his one-two-three finger lifting as he illustrates his points. It'd appear that she's quite mesmerised for a second or two, and she snaps out of it with a grunt. "Fine. If you want straight, then I'll be straight with you. I'm probably the most boring person that you could meet. Seriously. I don't like the fun things that kids our age like. Parties. Socialising. Flirting. I like books, and studying. I like learning. I want to be the best that I can be so that when I'm face to face with them I can say that I gave it my everything. And they will come." She pulls her hand back and pushes her hand into the back pocket of her pants. "And actually, I was on my way to pick up some quick food before I hit the library. If you're hungry, you can come too. If not, well, I guess you're not. I'm also boring with my food by the way. Just so you know." <English>

*

Archer grins and shakes his head as he lowers his hand. "Wrong again. You /just/ made my belt buckle disintegrate. That puts you as far and away the most interesting person I know," he responds, clasping his hands behind his back. "And it's cool if you don't like that stuff. And I'm sorry if my flirting displeases you. But, your eyes really are stunning, and the fact that you don't smile often or easily makes it all that more important to me to see you do it. So, you'll have to forgive me if I continue to flirt and tell you how pretty you are. Unless you want to tell me what else I could do to make you smile? Can I start with buying your snack?" he asks, nodding towards that area. <English>

*

"Ugh. You're doing it again." Harper says, drawing a deep and cleansing breath before going on to add, "But fine. Fine. We can go get some food. And people that smile all the time are people that scare me. For real. Nobody smiles all the time without being either half-wits or psychopaths." Her scowl nevertheless softens, and her eyes cut back to Archer's, assessing the impact of her words on him. Not that he himself is grinning like a Cheshire cat, but the potential is possibly there. "It's this way." A tilt of her head is given towards the archway that leads out to Titan Square, and she does indeed start walking that way, her eyes remaining on him to check whether he's going to accompany her or not. Because quite honestly? She's given him enough reasons to not. <English>

*

"I'll keep that in mind," Archer says, smirkinng. He notices Harper watching him, so he winks at her again. And he does indeed start following her, stooping to grab his tab and then jogging the spare paces it takes him to fall in along side her. "But you don't think I'm too scary, do you? Even though I keep smiling at you?" he asks as he catches up, matching pace with her. "I mean, I can't /not/ smile at you. Even if you manage to dissuade me from flirting, you're still smart and interesting. Those are two of my favorite traits." At least he manages to say it with a straight face, this time. <English>

*

Harper eases her pace until Archer catches her up, then matches her stride to his. "Honestly? They're my favourite traits too. I'd rather talk to someone with the personality of a bit of moon rock if they've something interesting to say, than someone that thinks my face is a foot lower than where it actually is." Ouch. Her ponytail swings in synch with her step, and wisps that have failed to remain captured by the band she's wrapped it in, flutter at her cheeks. Cheeks which have, thankfully rid themselves of the colour Archer had brought to them. "And you're not scary," she goes on to say, head twisting so that she can look at him as she speaks. "You've actually got quite a nice smile. It's just, you know, you don't have to do that with me. I think you're smart. You kind of got it right with the one, two, three thing after all." <English>

*

Archer does smile again, when she admits he was right about the numbers. "Well, thank you, Harper. I appreciate that. And, honestly? I like your eyes, regardless of what's below them. But … what don't I have to do? Flirt? Because, you see, I kind of /do/ have to do that. I'm a guy. You're a pretty girl. It's a natural reaction, instinct in man since woman came around. Thousands of years of evolution haven't changed that part of us at all," he explains in a non-chalant fashion, as if it were a matter of course. "It is you women who are better at masking your feelings and intentions. And you can't tell me you don't because I've already seen you deny and try to hide your blush. So that is in your nature, as well. That's what makes us different and what keeps us chasing after one another. At least, that's what I think." <English>

*

"But you don't have to," Harper says, putting a strong enough inflection on the third word of her response that it holds the nuance of a groan. "I mean, not with me you don't." She does, nevertheless, give the smallest of nods to what Archer says about evolution. "Ngh. You're telling me!" A twist of her mouth. "My brother is constantly pissed at me because of it. He had a girl he liked in Port Capena, and wasn't happy having to come here. Nevermind the slick job he's now got, or the fact that his own children, should he marry and have them, will be entered in the program here. So ungrateful." A roll of her eyes is made, and they pass under the arch and out into the bustle of Titan Square, and she swiftly navigates them over to one of the outlets that serves fries, amongst a multitude of other hot foods. "Just fries for me. If that's okay." She's totally taking him up on his offer to stand her her food. <English>

*

Archer quirks an eyebrow at the emphasis on the lack of need for him to flirt. With a shrug, he shakes his head and relents. "Okay, okay. I won't flirt with you anymore. But," he says, holding up his finger and shaking it at her for a second. "If you're just saying that because you secretly find me incredibly attractive and are just wishing I wouldn't flirt with you so you're not tempted to reveal an unrequited affection, I am going to be very cross with you." He laughs, then, grinning and winking at her again. "And yes, if fries are what you want, fries are perfectly fine," he says. He then orders two sets of fries from the vendor, offering his own allowance card as payment for both. He obviously intended to make god on his offer. "Also, I understand about your brother. My sister was none to pleased with me, either. But, once she got here and saw some of the boys? She's forgiven me. She's only fourteen, though, so she didn't have anything close to a steady relationship she had to leave behind." Then, something dawns on him. "Did /you/ leave somebody behind?" Because why else would she not like to be flirted with? <English>

*

Harper is quick to shake her head. The observant would point out that she was too quick in her denial, and they'd probably also point out that there's a bite to her lip that leeches it of its colour. "No." One word is her response to that, and she holds out a hand to accept the fries as they're passed to her. She does add a little extra salt to her's, along with a squidge of tomato sauce from one of the dispensers, then meanders over to where a low wall affords seating to those citizens of Titan that require a place to sit. And sits. With hot fries in her hand and thoughts on her mind, she falls silent as Archer comes to join her, concentrating on dabbing the fries in the sauce before transferring them to her mouth. And, if behind her glasses her eyes do slide Archer's way from time to time, it's probably only to check that he's enjoying his food as much as she. <English>

*

- Archer rolls his Perception (2D+0) for a total of 14 (Wild Die: 11), perhaps enough for a Moderate task.

*

Harper's response causes Archer to blink, and he watches her while she treats her fries. And then walks away. And sits. And starts eating, without saying anything further. He hrms, frowning a little as his brow furrows, trying to decipher her reaction. He adds a little salt to his fries, as well, and follows her to the table, sitting across from her. After a few more moments of silence, he decides to press forward. "Do you want to talk about it? It's none of my business, of course. But, sometimes talking to a stranger is better, since I have no reason to judge you," he says, still watching Harper carefully. <English>

*

"Nothing to talk about. Thanks though," Harper says, the tightness of her words decrying their actual content. Her chin drops a little, enough that the loosened strands of her hair swing forward to curtain her cheeks, and she eats the next few of her fries in relative silence. It's an awkward sort of a silence between them, though mercifully short, and she does eventually break it, pushing the remaining fries away from her before licking her fingers free of salt and sauce. A breath. "I know you mean well, any maybe sometimes it is easier to speak to a stranger. But I'm good at not talking. It's just how I am. The past is the past, and the future is everything else." Beat. And there it is again, the glimmer of a smile that catches the edges of her lips. "You can finish my fries if you like. You paid for them, after all." <English>

*

Having already smashed most of his fries, Archer is much obliged to accept Harper's remainders as well. However, he shakes his head and disagrees with most of the rest of what she says. "That's not 'just how' anybody is. If humans didn't need to talk, we wouldn't have invented so many languages," he points out. "But," he adds. "I'm not going to pry or try to force my way in to your life. You don't want me to flirt? Okay, I won't. You don't want me to smile too much? Gotcha, I'll work on that. You don't wanna talk? Alright, I can go with that, too. But with all of these things you say you don't like, I really have to wonder …." He lets that last bit trail off, canting his head so he can look at Harper's face. He searches her eyes, her cheeks, her lips. After a moment of this, he smiles softly and speaks softer yet. "Whatever you're trying to protect inside must be very, very special. I hope I get to see it, someday. Otherwise, what in the world are we fighting for?" <English>

*

Harper's expression melts a little further, softening her features before she snaps to and banishes it completely. "It's dark and horrible." She mutters. "It's Voldemort as a foetus beneath the bench in the final film. It's twisted, slimy and gross. You really don't want to see what's inside me. Trust me…" It'd seems that JK Rowling still remains popular amongst the youth of the third millenium, and having licked her fingers completely clean, she uses them to anchor back her hair behind her ears, inevitably adding a touch of grease to its lengths. Still, she's hardly the sort that'd appear to be too concerned with her looks, and her face is unreadable as she twists her head back his way, eyes locking solemnly with his. "Thank you though. For saying you won't flirt with me, or pry and force your way into my personal life. I'll make you the same promise, I won't do that to you either. But anyway, I must get off to the library now. I don't know when we might bump into each other again, as I've asked to be moved to the dorms in Avalon. So, that said, would you like my contact information?" <English>

*

Archer clicks his tongue, though he does offer is OED to her. "See, but that's the thing, Harper. I wish you /would/ do all those things. So don't promise not to do any of those things. If you could manage even two of the three, I would prefer it," he says, smiling again. "And you know that's not a deterrent for me, right? I'm a boy. We like icky, dirty, sticky things. So I'll still be happy to see it, if you ever decide you'd like to show me. And if not, well. I'll settle for what's on the outside, too. I'll take what I can get." <English>

*

Harper grunts. She actually grunts. "Fine." What the heck does that mean? That word is one of the trickiest in the galaxy, especially when uttered by a girl to a boy. She bumps her OED to Archer's, the barest of information being exchanged on her side; name and number. "Catch you around…" Wait. Was that a rising inflection to the end of her words? Something that'd make it more a question than a statement? A brief nod of her head is given, and after waiting for whatever response he might give, she turns on her heel to head quickly back to the (relative) safety of Albion Commons. <English>

*

"Please do," Archer responds, smirking again. His information is more detailed, name, number, email, all the essentials. And then, while she's walking away, he makes one last attempt at getting her to smile or blush, by totally cat-calling after her. "At least I don't mind watching you go!" And then he whistles. It's totally over the top and not very serious, but hopefully it works. <English>

*

Harper's reaction is not to turn around. No. It's instead to snag at the back of her shirt-tail with a well-placed hand, and to tug it down hard, following which her arms wrap firmly about her waist. She walks awkwardly, deliberately stiff-legged so her hips don't swing and give Archer anything to ogle over. What he definitely won't see is the creeping blush that spreads across her face, nor the small smile that plays her lips, even if they are accompanied by a grumbling roll of her eyes.

*

Satisfied with the reaction he is able to see, Archer just smirks largely and stuffs more fries into his mouth. And regardless of how she's walking, he'll watch her. Just in case she turns back one last time so he can wave at her and let her know he sees her.

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