AN: I've been enjoying Richelle Mead's world of Moroi and Dhampirs for a long time, and I'm glad I finally have something to contribute to the world of VA fanfiction! Anyway, this takes place at some point in Golden Lily, after Sydney has asked Adrian to buy diet sodas for her and after he's bought the Mustang, but obviously before the stuff at the end.*UPDATE* I have written a sort of companion to this piece, called "Stop Thinking," featuring a similar conversation between Sydney and Rose. If you enjoy this oneshot, I encourage you to go check out that one as well :)
The Impossible Girl Phenomenon
"You got Diet Cokes?" Dimitri asked, eyeing Adrian as he unloaded the groceries in the kitchen.
"They're all Sydney drinks," Eddie told him as he went for a regular soda. "Well, that and coffee."
"Yes, I've noticed she can be funny about food," Dimitri said. It was something else, though. He watched thoughtfully as Adrian put the drinks away without a word.
Dimitri went back into the living room and sat on the plaid sofa next to Sonya, who was absent-mindedly twirling a red curl around her finger. He wanted to discuss it with her-she tended to be particularly sensitive to these things, and her aura-seeing made her especially so. But he couldn't, not with Adrian just in the other room.
Perhaps he was just trying to soothe his guilty conscience. As happy as he was with Rose, he hated the way things had ended between her and Adrian; after all, he knew all too well how impossible it was to just "get over" a girl like her. Adrian was unhappy, and Dimitri wished he could pretend it wasn't his fault.
They returned to their research session. It, as usual, yielded little in the way of useful information. Adrian complained and smoked but did not drink, even though everyone knew he wanted to. Eddie and Dimitri sat side by side, bored but duty-bound as Adrian and Sonya studied their auras intently, Sonya perhaps significantly more so than Adrian.
Finally, Adrian decided they were done, and as nothing new had revealed itself, the others agreed to call it a day. Sonya and Eddie stepped out to go to the car-Dimitri would drop Eddie off at Amberwood in the rental on the way back to Clarence's-but Dimitri didn't follow.
"Could you wait a moment?" he asked Sonya quietly at the door. She nodded and her eyes flickered curiously toward the kitchen, where Adrian was presumably fixing himself an alcoholic drink of some sort. She closed the door and Dimitri turned toward the kitchen hesitantly.
"Can I help you?" Adrian called, his back turned, as he opened a bottle of beer. "I'm not sharing my alcohol if that's what you want."
"Er...no," Dimitri said. He paused, for once unsure of how to say what was on his mind. Adrian turned around and stared at him, recognizing the abnormality of the situation. "You got Diet Cokes," Dimitri said finally.
Adrian's eyes flicked away and he walked past Dimitri to sit on the plaid couch.
"So?" he asked, settling down.
"So...you got them for her. For Sydney." Adrian tensed visibly.
"What's your point?" he asked. Dimitri eyed him and, after a moment, sat down on the couch next to him. Adrian glared at him and scooted as far away from him as he could.
"You got her Diet Cokes," Dimitri said again, trying to make himself understood without having to say exactly what he meant.
Adrian shrugged. "She likes them," he said, taking a drink. Dimitri watched him as he finished and set the bottle carefully on the coffee table.
"Don't you generally go for something a little stronger than beer?" Dimitri asked, deciding to steer away from the apparently increasingly awkward topic of Sydney Sage and her Diet Cokes.
Adrian raised an eyebrow and cast a sidelong glance at Dimitri.
"Okay, what is it that you want?" Adrian snapped, picking up the bottle again.
"Well...you know, she isn't here that often," Dimitri said, going back to Sydney. "She doesn't spend that much time here."
"Really?" Adrian sighed, seemingly exasperated. "You're still on about the sodas? What is your problem? She asked for diet, I got her diet. It's not a big deal-it's not like I don't have the money."
"What about the car?" he asked.
Adrian shrugged. "What about it?"
"You bought an old car that she loves but you can't even drive?" Adrian grimaced and took another long drink.
"Do you want something?" he finally asked. Dimitri watched Adrian for a moment as he tried to think of how he could say this. It really was none of his business, and he knew he wasn't a good person for trying to get more information to make himself feel better about having hurt Adrian.
"I know you don't like me," he finally said.
"Really? You picked up on that?" Adrian snarked. Dimitri ignored this.
"Nor should you have any reason to," he continued. "But I'm more observant than you might realize, and I can't help but pick up on certain...things."
"Things," Adrian repeated sourly.
"Things," Dimitri agreed calmly. "Just because you don't flirt constantly with her doesn't mean I can't see it."
Adrian jerked his head toward Dimitri and glared.
"So what are you saying?" he asked bitterly. "That everyone knows? That my secret's out?" He slammed the bottle back onto the coffee table again. "Or are you going to blackmail me? Threaten to tell everyone unless I...what? What is it that you freaking want?"
"I want to know that you're okay," Dimitri said. "I want to know that Rose and I didn't hurt you too badly."
"Well, you did," Adrian snapped. "But I know it's not your fault. I mean, you're still an asshole, but...I always knew she still loved you. I never thought for a moment she would ever stop." Adrian sighed. "Things would have ended between us even if you hadn't...well, she would have left me anyway."
Dimitri watched Adrian carefully for a moment. "I'm very sorry, Adrian," he said. "I can't tell you how sorry."
Adrian cleared his throat awkwardly. "You're right, though," he said. Dimitri raised an eyebrow, and Adrian barreled onward. "I'm, um...over Rose, I think. I mean, I guess I just...wasn't as hopelessly in love with her as I thought." He paused, and Dimitri waited patiently for him to continue. "Sydney...she's...well, she's..." Adrian paused, thoughtful. "Sydney crept up on me," he said finally.
"Certainly you're more subtle with her than you ever were with Rose," Dimitri said, remembering the constant flirtations and gifts and invitations that Adrian had used in trying to catch Rose's attention. They had cost Dimitri many a night's sleep, worrying about whether Rose would would fall for Adrian, even after he had told her they could never be together.
"Subtle..." Adrian said thoughtfully. "Well, Rose was never much for subtle anything." Dimitri laughed out loud at that. No, whatever the opposite of subtle was, that was Rose. "With Sydney, though," Adrian continued, grinning at Dimitri's reaction, "anything less would scare her away."
"That's true," Dimitri sighed. "She's gotten much more comfortable around us, though."
"I guess," Adrian said. "But...she's so obedient to the damn Alchemists." He leaned back and let his eyes close. "She'd never let herself have anything with me. I'm surprised she spends as much time with me as she does, even just as friends."
Dimitri pondered that for a moment. "I think," he said carefully, "that she spends as much time with you as she does because she has feelings for you, too. Maybe she doesn't know it, or maybe she'd simply never admit it, but they're there."
Adrian opened one eye and glared at Dimitri.
"And now you should leave," he said.
"I wouldn't say it if I didn't think it was true," Dimitri said. Adrian opened his eyes and sat back up.
"Why am I even talking to you about this?" he snapped.
"Because," Dimitri said, with a small smile, "as much as you hate me, I do have some experience with the impossible girl phenomenon." He pushed himself up to his feet and crossed to the door.
"Yeah, well," Adrian grunted, "your 'impossible girl' didn't turn out to be so impossible, did she?"
Dimitri stood with his hand on the knob and turned back to face Adrian.
"Yours won't either," he said as he opened the door and stepped out. "Yours won't either."