Natalie sighed as she looked at the lists that she and Dan had tried to compile. "Come on. This can't be that difficult."
Dan looked up from his upside-down position on the couch. (It was the most horrendous thing Natalie had ever seen. Not only was he ruining an expensive piece of furniture, but his face was growing redder and redder by the minute. How absolutely unrefined.)
"Haven't we come up with plenty for Ian? Oh, hey, you should add Sinead to the list."
She made a face. "She's not much better, but I suppose we could try." After scribbling down the name, she considered the others. "Can't you think of any other boys? I hardly have any written down."
Dan retracted his tongue from its position on his nose to answer. "Hey, I'm trying! It's just that any decent dude wouldn't go on a date with Amy for fifty bucks."
"Then I'll just give them more. That's not an issue, Daniel." She wrinkled her nose. "And how can you say "decent" and "dude" in the same sentence?"
"You just did." He pushed himself up and swung around to put his feet back on the floor.
Inwardly, Natalie let out a sigh of relief.
"But as long as we're considering family," he continued, "we might as well put down Hamilton and Jonah. Those guys are pretty cool."
"I suppose." Natalie set down her pen. "I'm tired of this. Let's just start the show, and if we can think of any more later, fine." She stood up to adjust the camera, whacking Dan's feet from the coffee table so she could pass. "Can you do it without your outline?"
"I don't need an outline."
"And I suppose you don't need your fingers either, do you?"
"I do, too! How else could I defeat evil monkey lords?"
Natalie rolled her eyes as she turned back to him. "Perhaps by screaming at them pathetically in your sleep."
He blushed angrily. "Hey, that's personal! The camera's not on, is it?"
"No, and you're lucky it wasn't on when it happened, either. Ruining your life would be so easily enjoyable," she said wistfully.
"I could ruin yours just as easily!" he bit back.
"Oh really?" she challenged.
She nearly laughed, but pushed ahead instead. "All right, let's get started. Ready?"
He blew a raspberry at her. "Yup, now I am!"
Natalie forced herself to just push the record button.
Dan grinned. "Hey guys, what's up?"
"Outline, Dan," Natalie said through her smile. "Welcome to the seventh episode of [censored]. We—"
"That sounds so stupid." Dan made a face. "I mean, really. The [censored]? The [censored]. The [CENSORED]! You can't even make that sound exciting or intimidating. I told you [censored] would be cooler."
"Shut up! I explained to you in great detail just yesterday why [censored] is obviously better than… [censored]." She said his choice with disgust. "Now. We would like to extend an invitation of thanks to all of our viewers who have made this operation so successful."
"To viewers like you," Dan mocked.
Natalie looked at the camera as if to say, "Do you see what I have to deal with in order to get my delirious brother away from that disgusting orphan's dreadful sister?" She shook her head. "Ignore him."
"Hey, I was just helping out with your credits like it says on your precious outline."
She threw her hands up in the air. "Okay, what is so ridiculous about having an outline?"
Dan looked it over. "Well, come on. It's… it's all… neat and… stuff."
Natalie raised an eyebrow. "And… stuff?"
He shrugged. "It's just so planned out. Why not just make it up as we go?"
"Because that's what you always do. Really, we can't just have chaos."
Looking at the outline again, Dan could tell it was the loosest organization that she could allow. At least, it was more casual than the ones she'd presented to him before.
"Face it," Natalie said. "You always need to be criticizing me about something. That's the only reason you have to make a big fuss about the outline."
Dan grinned feebly. "Come on—what would a day be like without making fun of you?"
She shook her head, but granted him a smile. "Just try to direct that energy towards our siblings for a moment, will you? After all, we have a lot to get through today."
Dan had to admit that she was right—she had packed a ridiculous amount of things into her outline this time. "Fine," he said, "but just try to cut some slack, would you?"
Natalie smirked, knowing that she had won this time. "Anyway, as I was saying… Ah, yes. We're also very grateful for all of the comments and advice we have received."
Here Dan jumped in. "Oh, and to clear up any confusion—again—no, we are not making this up for comedy. We're really trying to destroy our siblings' relationship."
"Nor is it out of petty jealousy," Natalie added. "And we are certainly not dating, and no, we would most definitely not make a cute couple, [censored]." She muttered her supposed friend's name darkly.
"Now that the usual business is over with," Dan continued cheerfully, "let's move onto the fun stuff!" He rubbed his hands together. "This is going to be great…"
"And that proves reason number thirty-nine to be completely valid," Natalie concluded smugly, setting the watermelon she was holding back down.
"And there you have it!" Dan grinned. "Thirty-nine reasons why Ian and Amy should never go on a date that has anything to do with food, much less a date at all."
"So to fix this impending problem of Ian and Amy dating," Natalie concluded, "we have put together a list of alternate candidates for each to be set up with. It's a simple distraction to make them forget about each other."
"And it's all part of our mega-super-awesome-genius plan," Dan said proudly. "And you guys get to be a part of it!"
Natalie grabbed the lists she and Dan had been working on. "You see, we've come up with a lot of possibilities, but we don't want to go to the trouble of deciding who to set our siblings up with first."
"So we're making you do it."
"On our website there are two new polls so that you can vote for the best—"
"—or worst," Dan threw in.
"—candidate." Natalie refrained from telling him to shut up for the twenty-second time that day, leaving the total tally of her actually having said it at only seventeen.
It was a record day.
"Some may ask if leaving the choice open to public decision is the best choice," Natalie said thoughtfully. "After all, you're practically strangers to at least one of our siblings. You don't know many of their interests, their likes or dislikes… all of that useless and boring information." She sighed. "Who knows if the common consent will be the right thing to do?"
Dan nodded seriously. "That's why we're doing it."
Natalie brightened, finished with being sarcastic for the moment. "We'll introduce them to you now. First, we have the candidates for Amy."
Clearing his throat, Dan spoke in his best announcer's voice. "First up we have [censored]. He enjoys piña coladas and long walks on the beach."
"I hope you realize that he's just making this up," Natalie said disdainfully as she produced a picture.
"That's what makes this fun," he insisted before reverting back to a lower pitch again. "Next is [censored], who goes bungee jumping every weekend."
"You're being ridiculous," Natalie sighed as she held up another photo. "[Censored] would never go bungee jumping."
Natalie braced herself for the next ridiculous comment as she held up a picture of their third candidate.
"Here we have [censored]. [Censored] is awesome."
After a moment, Natalie blinked. "Is that it?"
"Is what it?" Dan asked.
She furrowed her brow in confusion. "Aren't you going to make up some ridiculous fact about him?"
"Why would I do that? I told you, he's awesome. 'Nuff said."
Natalie shook her head, realizing how pointless her efforts were. "You are so bipolar. I should really be used to this by now."
"Yup, you should." Dan grinned triumphantly, already planning what else he could say about their hopeless choices for his even more hopeless sister.
Natalie set down the last picture of Ian's potential girlfriends with a sigh of relief. "Now that we're finished with that business…"
"Come on, it was just getting fun! I could have done that all day," Dan goaded.
She chose to ignore his pestering with considerable effort. "Moving. On." She shifted in her seat to find a more comfortable position. "Now, some of you may be wondering why we want Ian and Amy to find new companions so badly."
"It's really obvious."
"The thing about couples," Natalie explained, "is that they tend to do certain things. Daniel, please show them our first example."
"Would you stop calling me that?" he complained as he reached for their evidence. It was a picture, showing an average red headed girl. She was curled up on a couch, cell phone in hand, and her green eyes seemed mesmerized by the screen. "This is a picture that I managed to get of my sister Amy," Dan said. "She's never really been much of a texter. In fact, she usually gets mad at me for texting too much. And yet here she is… obsessed with some conversation or other."
"It's clear that she must have—wait. Are you sure that's Amy? She looks kind of… weird."
He coughed. "Of course that's Amy. What are you talking about?"
Natalie peered at the poor quality of the photograph. "Her hair looks even worse than usually. It's so ratty, and the color is off."
"So she was having a bad hair day. What's the big deal? The point is that she was freaking out, waiting for a text from Ian."
"She looks like a deer in the headlights…" And then it clicked. "Oh my—please don't tell me you really did what I think you did."
Dan avoided her disgusted gaze and tried to wave the accusation off. "What? I didn't do anything."
"I can't believe you put on a wig and impersonated your sister!"
He let out a huge gasp. "I did no such thing!"
She gave him an exasperated look. "Dan, it's obvious. I thought you said you could get some real evidence!"
"It was harder than I thought, okay? Besides, that picture's not far from the truth. She's on her phone like, 24/7. And if that's not enough, she's on her email a ton now, too."
"Have you ever hacked her email or checked her phone to see if she's really contacting him?"
"Hey, it's not my fault! She always deletes her stuff. Besides, they probably use some weird code so that we couldn't tell what they were saying anyway."
"Pathetic." She crumpled up the picture and tossed it away.
"Well, do you have anything better?" Dan challenged.
"Why, yes. Yes I do." She sniffed and crossed her arms. "I have actual facts. Remember when we… ah, went to go visit our dear Uncle Alistair in Korea?"
Dan groaned. "Don't remind me."
"Well I am. No doubt you recall how close those two got. They had their first kiss there."
"Yeah, and then he totally—uh, he, um, dumped her…"
"Who cares how many 'breakups' they've had in the past? The point is, they're together now, and if their relationship is anything like it was before," she prompted.
"Then… they'll be kissing even more." He gagged. "Man, that's just gross! Who'd want to kiss Amy? She's like an alien. Blegh!"
"Exactly! The very thought is disgusting."
Dan paused expectantly. "… Aren't you going to exclaim how gross it would be to kiss Ian, or something?"
She blinked. "Why?"
"Well, Amy's my sister, and so I understand how weird and unromantic she is." He shrugged. "Don't you feel the same way about Ian?"
Natalie laughed. "Oh, no. You see, unlike you ugly little orphans, Ian and I are of the upper class. We both strive for excellence in all areas. While Ian could stand improvement in some, such as judgment, he is otherwise in no way 'weird' or 'unromantic'. He can be quite suave when he wants to, and it's no surprise that Amy's so infatuated with him. Any girl would die for a chance to make out with him, I'm sure. What I can't comprehend is why he would choose to do so with your sister."
Dan stared at her. "… You're reasoning is both logical and insulting."
"Thank you. I try."
"That wasn't a compliment."
"The point is," she pressed, "is that we must put a stop to all this relationship foolishness before they go too far."
"Whoa, you don't think—?"
"No, Daniel, don't be ridiculous." Natalie rolled her eyes and addressed their audience through the camera. "We've been keeping track of some of our siblings' comings and goings, and some of them definitely match up. No doubt they've been meeting secretly in order to go on a few pathetic dates."
"I bet that's when they kiss!" Dan realized triumphantly.
Natalie suddenly felt that she could relate to poor Irina's twitching eye. "Yes. Very good, Daniel," she said sarcastically. "But it's only a matter of time before Ian and Amy get bolder and determine that it's appropriate to announce their relationship publically, and we all know where that will lead."
"No, don't tell me…," Dan whispered.
"Unfortunately, there's no way around it," Natalie said gravely. "Sooner or later Ian and Amy will force us to endure…" She took a deep breath. "PDA."
"No!" Dan wailed, throwing his arms up with despair. "You had to say it. You had to say it!"
"I know, I know." She shook her head. "It's a horrid affair, but every group of people affected by a relationship has to go through it. After all, the people actually in the said relationship tend to completely ignore anyone outside of it until they find a necessary reason to acknowledge them. Therefore they don't comprehend how little we want to see their… affectionate actions."
Dan huffed. "It's so inconsiderate of them."
"And that," Natalie said, focusing again on the camera, "is why we need your support to mercilessly tear these two apart. They must be stopped. Please, dear viewers—you're our only hope."
This incredibly dangerous account is almost finished, but before it ends there is something that must be understood.
One of the most delightfully ironic components of writing is the use of foreshadowing. This is the process by which certain events are suggested to happen by prior happenings. Foreshadowing is always best when these later circumstances are uncomfortable for whoever may be in them.
Writers use this tool with great vigor and enthusiasm quite often, I find, but that isn't the only place where it may occur. I find that it happens naturally in the world all around us. You may call it a coincidence, fate, destiny, or the ironic nature of a greater power.
I prefer to call it foreshadowing. (It sounds more daunting that way, I think.)
But the point is that I was quite glad to discover how perfectly well certain events in this report were foreshadowed. That is, until it almost got me killed.
After a moment, Dan blinked. "Did you just quote Star Wars?"
Natalie turned to him, surprised. "What?"
"Star Wars, episode IV. You totally just had a Princess Leia moment there."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"'Help me O-Bi-Wan Kenobi… you're my only hope'," Dan quoted in a ridiculous, high pitched voice. "See? That's exactly how she said it, and then you were like… 'You're our only hope'." This time the higher pitch was accompanied with an awfully attempted accent.
"… You're ridiculous." And with that Natalie turned off the video camera.
a/n: Thanks so much for reading this far, guys! I hope none of this has been terribly boring… I'll admit, as fun as this bantering can be to write, sometimes I come down with a serious case of writers block from all the banter. Anyway, huge props to Ria (again) for getting me out of it.(: Seriously, she's so amazing, and this chapter ended up much better because of her fantastic advice.
And if you're interested in other things that I'm working on right now, you might be pleased to know that I'll probably update How To Kiss soon with two or perhaps /gasp maybe even three new drabbles that I'm loving very much.
Please don't favorite without reviewing—I love to know your thoughts on my writing, guys, especially since I don't have an official beta to let me know how much I fail. Thanks!(: