Disclaimer: No, I don't own anything recognizable from Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society series. Further more, I don't own Sticky's book, Mushroom Minutiae, it's a title I borrowed from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, books. More specifically, the eleventh one.
Spelling/Grammar: As always, I did my best. If you spot any errors, please, point them out. I'm always looking for ways to improve.
Explanatory Stuff: I'm not usually so anti Kate/Reynie-anyone who's read my story Looks Like Morning in Your Eyes, would know that-but I needed a twist. In case anyone doesn't know, in this story, Sticky is twenty-four. I've gotten a lot of reviews asking that I either add on to the two one-shots I already have for this category, or write more stories. I chose to do the latter-somewhat obviously. I had the beginning worked out from a while ago, but never got around to finishing it. I hope it was worth the wait.
She'd watched Sticky grow out of his humbleness and become an almost know-it-all. She'd watched Reynie stop being ordinary and become extraordinary. She'd watched Kate become the loosest definition of an adult as possible. What she could not watch was her own self stretching and "filling-out." Why? Because she was quite happy looking like a four year old for all of eternity. That's why.
"Stupid prom. Even stupider Mr. Benedict." Constance Contraire glared at her reflection and the dress Kate and Rhonda had forced her into. Pink taffeta was definitely not her fabric of choice.
It was Mr. Benedict's fault she was going to the aforementioned prom. Number Two had said she was to young for such frivolity, and though Constance usually hated being told she was to young to do something, this time she had whole-heartedly agreed.
Kate however-who was known for often having a bit to much fun at parties-had decided to bring the prom up at dinner the night after she found out Constance wasn't going. Somehow, after that, Mr. Benedict was convinced that she needed to go because she didn't "meet enough people her own age."
So really, it could all be traced back to and blamed on Kate.
Making a face at the mirror, Constance yanked her hair into a badly formed braid. She hated her hair long, but Number Two wouldn't let her cut it. After that, nothing was left except the horribly uncomfortable shoes and maybe a necklace or something to distract people from the cleavage she still loathed.
Grabbing the gold chain Reynie had given her one year for Christmas, Constance slipped a small, quill shaped pendent onto the cord and fastened it around her neck. Glancing at herself in the mirror once more, Constance decided that even if she hated the dress and event, she did look okay.
Her approval of her own reflection came to an abrupt halt when her eyes latched onto her face and then drew downwards to her pale, almost colorless lips.
Constance blinked slowly a few times. She'd never known her face to be so bland before. Her cheeks were usually red, and her nose more often then not was like a small cherry that someone had stuck permanently to her face. She noticed for the first time however, that her lips lacked any color whatsoever.
"Ugh," she said simply, resuming her hostile glare at the mirror. "I'm not going anywhere looking like some dumb old goon."
"Dumb old what?"
Upon hearing Sticky's voice, Constance immediately assumed her sarcastic and annoying pose. She crossed her arms tightly over her chest, and swiveled her vanity's chair around to face the older boy. And because she was feeling extra irritable, she even added her special frown. The one that always made Sticky wonder if she was going to eat him.
"Goon," she repeated, biting the word off at the end so it fell like a stone and shattered the silence. "I look like a goon."
Sticky edged through Constance's doorway and into her coral and Persian green bedroom. He radiated nervousness, but Constance ignored it. She was to busy pursing her drab lips at her reflection to rebuke him.
"I think you look very aesthetic," he offered, setting down Mushroom Minutiae right beside her elbow. "And nothing like a goon."
Constance observed Sticky through narrowed eyes. Eventually, he broke under the pressure of her stare, and his hands twitched toward his glasses. She smiled. Even with uncolored, goon lips, she still had the power to make the smartest person in Stonetown break-out into a nervous sweat.
"I don't know what aesthetic means," she commented, blinking slowly. "But it sounds stupid. Just like you, Baldy."
Sticky convulsed, and muttered something Constance didn't quite catch. "It means you look nice," he said, and Constance found it very amusing that while his mouth was complimenting her, his eyes were doing their best not to glare.
Pushing back her chair, Constance jumped to her feet. "I don't want to look nice, I want to look beautiful. Where does Kate keep all her make-up junk?"
Sticky pressed his glasses up his nose and shrugged. "I don't know, I've never been in her room. But Constance, you shouldn't go down there and paw through her stuff."
Constance considered flipping him off for that, but he was the only one in the house, and if she needed help reaching something, there was no one else to call. "I'm not afraid of Kate," she answered, heading for the stairs. "And if Reynie has to drive out to a street corner one more time this month because she's to drunk to stand, then I won't even respect her, anymore."
"You respect her?" Sticky looked surprised, and he followed Constance down the stairs and through the kitchen unwaveringly.
Constance shrugged. "She does whatever she wants, whenever she wants. That deserves respect."
"She's twenty-five and still lives with her father," Sticky paused a moment, taking time to avoid the floorboard that creaked. "And her father lives in someone else's basement."
"She has a boyfriend," Constance protested, hitting the basement light's "on" switch. "A party loving, often drunk, twenty-five year old who still lives with her father, in someone else's basement, has a boyfriend. And I don't," she added sullenly, stomping down the last five stairs. She turned quickly around, at that point, and jerked her hands to her hips. "And look at me!" She shouted, gesturing to things she hated most about growing-up: curves. "I'm a gorgeous sixteen-year-old, who wouldn't want to date me?"
Sticky blushed and averted his eyes as he pushed his way past Constance and into the sitting room area of Milligan and Kate's "house." Constance could tell he was thinking very hard about something, because his fingers were toying with the loose string at the hem of his shirt. "They're going to break-up," he whispered, letting go of the string.
"What?" Constance frowned, and set down the wooden box that she'd hoped contained Kate's beauty products.
Sticky patted the couch seat next to him, and waited for Constance to join him before he explained. "Reynie's going to dump her," he said, licking his lips nervously.
"Why?" Constance asked, immediately forgetting all the bad qualities the older girl possessed and only remembering the full figure and happy, always excited laugh.
"He's met someone else," Sticky replied, his fingers straying to his glasses, out of habit. "And I suppose he's sick of getting calls at four in the morning that demand he pick his girlfriend up outside of a bar."
"And that she's slept with a whole lot of people."
"Yeah," Sticky laughed humorlessly. "That too."
They sat for a while, Sticky's hand constantly debating whether or not to polish his glasses, and Constance swinging her legs slowly back and forth. She got the feeling that what Sticky had told her had probably been something Reynie had told him in confidence, and she wasn't suppose to know. On one hand, the secret would make excellent blackmail material. However, on the other hand, Sticky looked so lost and maybe even a bit...lonely, sitting next to her, that Constance hesitated.
"Hey, Baldy," Constance was almost surprised that Sticky looked up, but she continued anyway. "I'll keep your secret if you drive me down to the nearest drugstore and buy me some ruby red lipstick."
"You don't need lipstick," Sticky murmured, glancing quickly up at her. "You're already beautiful."
Constance froze. If Reynie had said the same thing to her, his remark would have been brotherly. From Kate, it would have meant either that she wanted Constance out of her hair, or she was teasing. For anyone else, it would've been an attempted at a self-confidence booster. The tone in Sticky voice, however, implied none of the above.
Realizing his own error, Sticky jumped to his feet. "I'll..." A bead of sweat dripped off his nose and splattered against the floor. His cheeks had flared a crimson red, and his hands started twitching again. "I'll just go get the car, then."
Constance hoped off the couch easily and shook her head. "No thanks, Baldy," she answered, knowing that a car ride, just the two of them, would be awkward. "I'll walk."
Sticky nodded, his face flaring even more with shame. He muttered something under his breath that Constance thought might have been an "okay," and then he turned away from her and finally gave-in to the temptation to clean his spectacles.
Despite being somewhat creeped out, Constance felt a pang of sympathy for the bespectacled boy. Nothing had gone his way since Kate decided to date Reynie instead of him, and now she, a girl who didn't even have her license yet, had dissed him. Sort of. Under any other circumstance, Constance would have taken a picture, to commemorate her victory. This time, though, she decided to make an exception.
Sticky turned slowly around, trying to wipe the traces of misery off his mocha features as he did. "What, Constance?"
"You're not that bad looking yourself," and then, before Sticky could answer, Constance spun around and hightailed out of the basement just as fast as she could.