A/N: Quick drabble for the PPG Monthly Drabble LJ. Prompt was "New Beginnings." Word count is actually 981, but likes to mess with things.
Buttercup threw herself in an empty seat near a window on a busy train. She looked out the window and saw Bubbles and her father waving goodbye. Blossom had already departed for school a week earlier for some leadership training thing, so for the last week, it had just been Bubbles, who was going to school in Townsville, the Professor, and Buttercup.
Choosing to go to school outside of Townsville was one of the hardest decisions Buttercup had ever made. She never thought she'd be smart enough for college, let alone a small private liberal arts school upstate. But her grades weren't all that bad, and she had worked awfully hard over the past several years. She wanted to believe that being a superhero had nothing to do with getting accepted to school, but part of her was starting to have doubts. What if this was just a publicity stunt? What if she really wasn't smart enough for school? What if she got there and failed out?
As the train pulled away, she reached into her bag and pulled out a letter and a package from the Professor. He gave them to her just before she got on the train, before one last kiss on the cheek. She had planned to wait until she got to school to open them, but something felt right about that moment, so she opened them.
When you and your sisters were little girls, you were fascinated by a Rubik's cube I kept on my desk in the lab. I don't think you girls knew I was paying so much attention, but I couldn't help but notice that you each solved it in your own way.
The moment Blossom's eyes focused on the puzzle, she began to formulate a solution. I handed it to her, and within moments she had solved it with cool and calculated precision. Once she had completed it, she said, "Done!" and handed it back to me, but we both know that she really meant "Where's the next challenge?"
Bubbles didn't see the puzzle as a series of algorithms or a problem to be solved. She saw it as an artistic work to be modified to its original state instead of a math problem, mere flashes of colors to be arranged in the correct order. She stuck out her tongue to the side as she often does while she works, solving it in a matter of minutes. "Beautiful," she said, and then she set it back on the desk.
You, my Buttercup, were the wildcard, as you often are. You ignored the puzzle for a very long time, speeding right by it for days without the slightest glance. But after a while, the challenge became too much of a temptation, too hard to resist. You waited until you thought you were alone, ignoring the fact that you were breaking the "being in the lab without supervision" rule (…again). I don't think you knew I was there in the lab, watching you from the stairs, but I was.
You began to examine it, turning it over in your little hands. I thought of Blossom, the way she solved it in her mind before she even touched the Rubik's cube. But you weren't thinking about ways to solve it; you were hesitating for some reason. You took a breath, and you began to rotate the tiny cubes.
But you weren't abrasive or rough with it, as is in your nature. Instead, you were gentle and harsh with it all at once, twisting and flipping quickly but with an odd hesitation that I don't often see from you.
I watched as you finished the puzzle and set it back down. You stared at it a bit, and for a moment, I thought you were going to solve it again. I thought that some element of your competitiveness would push you to do it again, to do it better, even though you'd done it admirably fast. But I was wrong, I realized, because you walked away.
It took me a moment, but I figured it out. That sudden restraint I noticed wasn't you pausing to figure out the solution. You stopped yourself for a moment because some part of you was afraid to fail. You were afraid to see how your decisions would pan out, if they'd make you start over again because of one simple error.
It was then I realized that the reason you hadn't approached the puzzle before wasn't because you weren't interested. It was because you wanted to succeed, especially after your sisters did it. And the look you gave the Rubik's cube after you solved it was a kind of awed pride.
You didn't think you could do it, Buttercup, and I don't know why.
You are brilliant, my Buttercup, though I know you don't always think so. You've had to work harder than your sister for most things, but let me tell you a secret—I think that makes you smarter. You know how to learn from the journey, not just from the end result.
And now, here you are, on the way to your college orientation. You're going to meet new people and study new things. You're going to have so many more opportunities than you'd ever have in Townsville.
You're also going to make new mistakes, and that's okay.
Sweetie, please don't be afraid to fail.
Buttercup finished reading the letter with a small smile, and unwrapped the package that came with it. She didn't need x-ray vision to know what it was; there were only so many cube shaped objects that the Professor would to college with her.
30 seconds later, she solved the Rubik's cube. Maybe she wouldn't be as bad at this college thing as she had originally thought.
She quickly scrambled the cubes again. She could always use a fresh start.