Disclaimer: All characters and beasties belong to Scott Westerfeld.
A Matter of Principal
A Goliath Bonus Chapter Fanfiction
She planned on letting him win all along.
It was the way he proposed the stakes of their challenge. He had never mentioned it before, but she could tell that he had been thinking about it for some time now. Clearly, he wanted to see her in a dress. Enough to risk a chance of wearing one himself.
It wouldn't be that bad. She reasoned. Her pride could handle loosing, as long as she knew she could have won. And seeing the look on his face when she reveled herself would be worth loosing to him, just this once.
And she would be lying if she said she didn't want to indulge his curiosity. She had seen the new styles in the magazines, the thin, loose fitting gowns with beads and fringes. They were modern and edgy, nothing like the stiff corsets and heavy skirts her was forced to wear at home. She had endured wearing dresses at parties countless times for her mother, why couldn't she do it this one time for Alek?
Their battle began. Despite her months climbing ratlines he had the the advantage of a boy's upper body strength ,and for first few minutes they fought in ernest. He was driven by his desire to prove his point and she teased him, testing her strength against his.
Her muscles were growing sore, and even though she could have gone on far longer, she began to give in. At the realization of his impending victory, he looked at her with a raised eyebrow and cocksure grin.
His sudden confidence rekindled her competitive edge. She was willing to lose to him for his own benefit, but not to inflate his ego. Before she knew what she was doing she slammed his arm onto the table.
What had she done?
For a long moment he stared at her, dumbstruck. "I really have to?" Alek asked, shock resonating in his words.
'Of course not.' Said the voice in her head, the same one that wanted to let him win so many of their other competitions before. Then his face flashed again in her mind, the grin, the victorious glint in his eye. This was a matter of principle.
"Of course you do, dummkopf!" She said aloud. "It was your wager." She pushed herself from the table and stood quickly "You get a dress and I'll help you accessorize, so you don't look plain in front of the fancy boffins." She laughed and walked out of the room before she changed her mind.
She presented him with the purple parasol the next day. And even though she maintained her own victorious grin the entire time, she still felt wracked with guilt. The day before the party she realized the simple solution. Deryn had no trouble sneaking out of work that afternoon to - barking spiders - go shopping.
Careful of her curls Deryn pinned the hat to her head. She had never worried before if anyone thought she was pretty. But, as she stood in front of the mirror the hope that Alek wouldn't like the way she looked wouldn't leave her mind.
The lady boffin knocked and popped her head into the room. Deryn could tell that she was trying very hard to uphold her oath to never act surprised.
"And who are you supposed to be?" Dr. Barlow asked.
"Indeed." Dr. Barlow replied, looking her over. "A rather bold move, do you not think, Mr. Sharp?"
"Too bold?" Deryn asked. She hadn't considered the possible repercussions on her reputation with the Society.
"Not necessarily," Dr. Barlow said thoughtfully, "but I do wonder why."
Deryn explained the wager she and Alek had made, as well as her accidental victory. "If he's going to go though with it, I should give him what he wanted." With small smile Dr. Barlow just shook her head at the young woman.
"I would have chosen a more," Dr. Barlow paused and looked Deryn over again, "conservative look. These new styles are just so," Her eyes swept the gown once more, this time resting on parts of Deryn that had had never been as exposed as they were underneath the dress' low cut neckline, "revealing."
Deryn was rather fond of the way she looked in this dress. Deryn looked her self over in the mirror one last time and decided that Alek was gaining more than he had lost.