A/N: So, this is for tsttoain, who asked if I could write something Matt and Perri centric. I'd never really planned on writing for Perri, so it was interesting to try and get inside her head. I hope you enjoy it.
The World According to Perri
The world, according to Perri Lawe, has always been a bright and glittering place. It sparkled with promise and beauty. But sometimes, things that are bright and glittering hide the truth underneath.
At age six, Perri's father gave her the first piece of expensive sparkly jewelry she ever owned. It was a dolphin on a thin chain. And she wore it every single day. The little girls at school oohed and ahhed over it, impressed that she got a piece of "big kid" jewelry, not stick-on earrings or cheap plastic bracelets. Perri would let the dolphin flash, she'd smile with her pointy little white teeth, and she'd bask in the adoration of her public.
It was the first time Perri ever felt like a princess. And she soaked it up.
Because as long as she could remember, expensive presents, like jewelry and designer scarves, had been what her father would bring home for her mother, showering her in commercial affection. And so, Perri, in her very mature six years, associated that necklace with her father's love.
What Perri would realize much later was that her father showered her mother with expensive presents only after making large mistakes: staying too late at the office, missing important dinner parties, forgetting anniversaries, his eyes lingering just a little too long on his assistant. The gifts weren't just tokens of his affections, but apologies wrapped up in shiny paper.
By age 12, she had outgrown the chain of the necklace, and rather than get a new one, she left it forgotten at the back of one of the many jewelry boxes her father had given to her growing up. As much as she still loved the sparkle and the expense, she had two new loves: boys and clothes.
Clothes were an easy love to embrace. She was quick to flip through fashion magazines, scope out the newest additions to all of her favorite stores (and there were many), and getting a credit card out of her all to happy to indulge her father was probably the easiest part of all. She filled her closet, actually she filled two of them, with all the latest and most expensive clothes she could. Shopping always put her in a great mood.
And when there were bad moods, it was all too easy to pull that thin strip of plastic out of her wallet and hand it over to any cashier in sight. When she did poorly on a test, she got a new pair of shoes. When a crush liked someone else better than her, which rarely happened, she went for earrings. When her father didn't show up to a dance competition or a talent show, she bought herself a new skirt. It was a system she kept up for more than three years, when her credit card suddenly reached its unreachable limit.
Boys were even easier. For the most part, all she had to do was give a coy smile, throw her hair over her shoulder, maybe even give a short laugh, and she could have them eating out of the palm of her hand. Boys were predictable. They developed fixations on the prettiest girls, the girls at the top of the popularity pyramid, and the girls who appeared unattainable. So, Perri made sure she was all of those things. She worked on her tan, highlighted her hair, learned what clothes looked best on her, snagged herself a spot with the most popular of the popular, and did her best to play it cool when she was flirting. And those skills were so honed over the course of her next couple of years, that she was a champion dater.
The only thing was, guys came and go. She got bored. There was never anyone who could hold Perri's interest for long. And she had a feeling she didn't hold the interest of too many boys much longer than the initial two weeks of their courtship either. Most boys didn't want to look past the shiny happy package to get to know the Perri underneath. The Perri who tried so hard to ace her exams, but never seemed to rank at the top of the class. Or the Perri who was so starved for approval that she spent two hours trying to make sure she looked absolutely perfect in the morning. No, that Perri was someone just for her.
Of course, her entire life, there was another love that she held above all others. It could fill the void that cute clothes, sparkling jewelry, color coordinated outfits, and attention from boys could not.
There was something about the feeling of the fiberglass board under her feet as she flew across the surface of the water. It gave her butterflies in a way no boy ever had. It cleared her head better than any shopping trip. She didn't have to perfectly apply her makeup before heading into the waves. And she got to wear the cutest swimsuits while doing it, so that was a bonus.
And surfing led her to some amazing places. When she heard about Solar Blue, and their elite surfing academy, she filled out the application and sent in a video of herself right away. She employed all the classic Perri tricks. Shiny jewelry, blinding smile, coy laughter, perfectly presentable outfit, and, of course, leaving it all behind on the water. She was a shoe in, and she knew it.
She didn't actually believe her dreams were coming true until she walked into the house for the first time with the other kids. And she realized that surfing had finally given her something she had been missing this whole time: real confidence. Not the confidence that came with snagging the right boyfriend or wearing the right dress to a party, but the real kind that came from within.
And caught up in this knew revelation, that's why she didn't notice him at first.
That's not true. She noticed him. She just decided that Matt, like every other boy she met, was likely only glancing her way because of the shiny wrapping she was so used to wearing. Matt checked her out in her bikini when he thought she wasn't looking. Matt complimented her on her surfing, even when she was having a bad day. Matt helped her with her studies. He even took up her end of the slack on some of the household chores when she disappeared for a while. He was an all around nice guy. But she'd known nice guys before. So she kept him at arms length. He was someone she could call a friend.
But then... but then.
It was a stupid school dance. And she wanted to go more than anything. But that part of Perri that still hid behind pretty clothes and a perfect reputation needed someone to go with. She couldn't go alone. It just wasn't done. She wanted the perfect guy to wear on her arm. Someone she could show off. Someone who would have all the girls who thought she was a joke salivating on the edges of the dance floor. It seemed as though there was no perfect guy though. And everyone else in the house was all paired up, even if the pairs weren't what she expected.
Except for Matt.
Matt. With his puppy dog eyes and his disarming smile and his... Mattness. He was under the impression that Perri's options were so widespread that she just couldn't make a decision. He tore a page out of her address book, separated all of the names, and tossed them in a hat. She didn't have the guts to tell him that none of those boys wanted to go with her. That none of those boys could reconcile shiny pretty Perri that they saw in school with the competitive and real Perri they saw on the beach. None of them were interested.
Matt adding his name to the hat was probably the best thing that he could have done. Because with his shy smile and Perri's gratitude, she was pretty sure the night would be perfect.
And even if it wasn't, she was willing to admit that maybe Matt wasn't such a normal guy after all. Maybe he really could see beneath the sparkle and the glitter to the truth underneath. And in the whole world, according to Perri Lawe, that was worth more dolphin necklaces than anything else.