AN – No.43 in the Road series. This was written in 45 minutes on Easter Sunday night. I hope you enjoy it. It was a very fast project and was not re-read, checked over or anything, so if it's not perfect, that's why. I just needed to do something…spontaneous. Please enjoy.
Disclaimer – the characters of Chuckie and Angelica are property of KlaskyCsupo and Nickelodeon. The song Italian Plastic was written by Paul Hester of Crowded House and it inspired this fic.
There are ups and downs to courting Angelica Pickles.
Many ups and downs.
Not that I'd change a single thing about her. She is a wonderful person when she wants to be and I think – though I haven't said anything yet – that I'm falling in love with her.
For one, she insists that this relationship has to be a secret between us. Part of me thinks its special – that it's just for us, that it's something we share between us. But another part of me wonders – what if it's because she doesn't take this relationship as seriously as I am? What if we aren't telling anyone – our mutual friends, our families – because she doesn't think it'll last?
But then she'll do something almost uncharacteristically sweet, like when she made me dinner, rather than the more usual other way around. Or when she blew off her classes just to stay with me all day when I was sick. Or when she blew up the blender trying to make me my favourite smoothie. Sure, I was the one who had to clean up blender wreckage, but it was the thought that counted.
But then there are things like what's on my mind tonight.
Charlotte Pickles was hugely successful from a young age and as such enjoyed a taste for the finer things in life, and raised her daughter to feel the same way. This is no real secret and nothing I didn't know getting into this relationship. I've always been fully aware of her tastes, even if I don't understand them – I don't see how the $50 glasses of wine we had at dinner a few weeks ago taste any better than the $12 cleanskin I bought on the weekend. I don't grasp the appeal she finds in the Art Quarter, where the cafes are filled with pretentious snobs and just as pretentious coffee – I'd rather a quiet drink at the café on campus, where the coffee is not as good but at least the service is polite. And I don't quite follow the concept of the parties she occasionally drags me to, where rich jocks socialize and are clearly torn between their naturally boorish nature and their evident desire to appear as upper-class as they claim to be.
Both her previous boyfriends since we started college came from this mould. The first – Brock, I remember, with a roll of my eyes – was a blonde brick of a football player that looked as if he had been pulled from a military recruitment billboard. He was rich and thick as two short planks. The second, Michael, had been a part of her business studies class and though not the hulking mass that Brock was he was certainly better looking – and, vitally, richer – than me. He's the kind of guy who can taste the differences in wine, who has the courage to look down his nose at the café staff in the Art Quarter, and who can wear the mask of class at the parties as if he was born for it.
I look at myself in the mirror. Freshly shaved, I like to think I can see something attractive about myself. But in brutal honesty I'm still too gangly for my frame, my are too far apart, my skin is a mess of freckles that seemed to blossom out of nowhere during high-school and when I move I'm still as clumsy as I always was.
What does she see in me?
I hear the door open, and her voice fills the whole flat. "Chuckie, you home?"
"Yeah," I call back, not taking my eyes off the mirror.
"Did you make the reservations?" she asks, and I hear her drop her keys on the table.
"La Vita Beuna expects us promptly at seven," I inform her, running a hand through my hair. La Vita Beuna is the only one of the restaurants in the Art Quarter where I can actually stand the staff, but on the downside it's a wine bar with such ridiculously overpriced food that I have to very carefully balance rent and bills weeks before I can think about taking her there.
"Really?" she asks, joining me in the bathroom. I watch her in the mirror as she comes up behind me. "But you hate it there. Always say it's overpriced."
I nod. "Yeah, but I know you like it…"
She looks at me with a funny expression on her face. "Well, in that case, you know what else I like?"
I look at her in the mirror, cautiously hoping that it's not some new expensive hobby that she's picked up. "No, what?"
"You, you dope," she says, smacking me lightly on the head before wrapping her arms around me. "You don't have to do these things, y'know."
I look at her as if she's gone mad. "But – "
"You know what I liked?" she cuts me off, and doesn't wait for me to answer. "I liked it when you made me a picnic that we had at the Gardens. I like it when we snuggle up on the couch under a blanket. I like it when you treat me like I'm special."
"You are special," I respond, almost on reflex, and she kisses me on the shoulder.
"You don't have to spend a bunch of money to show me that," she tells me. "What, do you think I feel like you're not good enough for me, or something?"
I'm aware a better answer than "Uh," is really called for here, but as she's more or less voiced my deepest fears I'm finding it hard to come up with the words.
"You don't, do you?" she asks, seeming almost stunned by the concept.
"…Sometimes, a little," I admit, reluctantly.
She turns me around and looks me in the eye. "Why?"
I sigh and my shoulders drop. "I dunno, Angelica. You're just…you're Angelica. You've always been this cut above everyone else…and I always feel so…I mean, I'm nothing compared to your exes – "
"No, you're better," she tells me with a voice that leaves no room for argument. "Chuckie, the boys I've gone out with in the past have been rich and handsome, but that was it. I don't want that anymore."
I roll my eyes. "Thanks, that makes me feel so good."
She growls. "What I mean, is, I don't care as much anymore about having to have the best stuff. It's nice, sure, but…but I'd rather have someone who knows me, rather than just sees me as a pretty girl to take on his arm. I'd rather have someone who really cares about me, than someone who just buys me off with pretty things. I've been there, and done that. And I love you."
I'm struck dumb by this statement, and it takes me a moment to struggle out a reciprocation. "I…I love you, too, Angelica."
"And that's what I want now. I still like the nice things, and it means the world to me that you try and give them to me. And if you want, you don't have to stop doing that," she says with a mischevious grin, but a small part of me knows she's not entirely joking. "But never think you're not good enough, alright?"
I smile. "I won't."
"Good. Now, hurry up and finish getting ready," she says, kissing me on the cheek as she departs the bathroom. "La Vita Beuna awaits. And I want to try this new thing that Tara was telling me about that they have there – it's this thing with truffles and veal…"
Her voice is drowned out by my hitting my head lightly on the mirror.