Holly sat dumbly in the chair as Captain Kelp froze the images on the monitors. One showed the view from the front of the cockpit, and the other showed the side view from his. She wished the floor would open up and swallow her. Of course, since this was Foaly's domain, there was always the possibility that that could happen. She waited a second, hoping.
The floor stayed solid.
Holly sighed. She hated swallowing her pride, but the alternative was appearing like an immature idiot in front of two of her friends. Not that she hadn't already, she remembered, blushing furiously. "I guess I owe you an apology," she muttered quickly, barely audible.
Trouble coughed. "Er, well. As long as you don't whack me with that" - he indicated her helmet, which she realised she was clutching like it was a bowling ball ready to hurl - "consider it accepted."
Short managed a smile and loosened her grip on her helmet. "Thanks."
"I'm amazed you survived, Holly," Foaly broke in from where he, too, was examining the videos from the race, despite his supposed hatred of the event. "The way that flea-trap is constructed, it's a miracle you managed to start it in the first place. Did you know it depends on a nickel-cadmium battery? That's a disgrace to the day and age!"
The two captains exchanged glances. "You can say that again."
"Have you seen the finish vid yet?" the centaur asked. "You can see Holly's flap coming off and barely missing her rudder! You know, instead of ejecting dysfunctional pieces, you should just blow them up."
"Great idea, Foaly," Short said smoothly. "And do you know what? I bet you could build a better racer for less money than the commercial companies do."
He snorted, but it was a proud snort. "I could. But don't think I know what you're trying to do, Holly."
She wasn't paying attention, though. She was busy playing the view from the finish line cameras in slow motion, a smile across her lips.
Foaly tapped a monitor to her left. "Here's the picture at the line," he said.
Holly looked at the frozen frame, and her smile became slightly smug.
"Guess who won," she couldn't help saying.
"You," Kelp stated, then joined her in examining the photo. "But only by ten centimeters."
"Mmm." Short wasn't that happy about her slim margin of victory.
"If I hadn't slowed down to check on you, you would never have caught me," Kelp said, a trifle discontent also. "Of course, you would've won anyway," he added with a bit of distaste.
Holly would have had no problem rubbing it in if he hadn't disqualified himself saving her. That put a damper on her fun, and in fact prompted her to do something extremely generous. "If you want, I won't mention to anyone that you bumped me."
"No, you don't have to do that," Trouble said quickly.
"It's no problem, really," she said, using her grandmother's favorite phrase and feeling polite enough to be acceptable at a fancy banquet.
"No, you don't need to," Kelp repeated.
Short looked at him curiously. "Why in Haven not?" She'd felt sure he'd want to keep his reputation in tact.
"Well.." Kelp cleared his throat and looked away, embarrassed. "You see... no offense, but... I'd rather be disqualified that be... beaten by a girl."
Holly's jaw dropped. Foaly snickered despite himself. "Retrieval boys," he muttered.
Trouble shrugged. "We've got our pride."
Holly stood and shoved her helmet at him, hard. Furious, she stomped out of the room. Semifinals? Bring it on. Retrieval was going down.
But she couldn't help joining in softly with the chuckles that followed her out the door.
- Fin -
A/N: The title of the story, in case you were wondering, is taken from the song in Wicked in which Elphaba asks: "Was I really seeking good/ Or just seeking attention?/ Is that all good deeds are/ When looked at with an ice cold eye?" Her answer is different from the one I give here, of course. Anyway, thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think of it! I may write a few more oneshots for AF, but my best work is done for Narnia.