Okay, so maybe Arthur had a list of a thousand things he should be doing right now. Literally, a thousand. He was supposed to be checking all the girls in, greeting them at the entrance hall, helping them find their rooms, meeting with the reporters and making sure they were doing anything illegal (who was he kidding, more like stopping them from the illegal activities they were already doing; he had half the guards in the palace looking for hidden cameras), informing the king and queen of the girls' arrival (no thank you, he liked his head on his shoulders) and also finding Nick and making sure he hadn't died yet. That last one was important.But more important than all of these was finding Valentina Tsoi and asking her where she wanted the guards stationed for the Selection. Sure, he'd asked her two weeks ago, but her answer might have changed. Answers did change, after all. Which was why it was extremely important that he go to her office and ask her in person immediately. Also he had to ask her what her favourite type of flower was. For decorating purposes. For the palace. Not for any personal reasons, definitely not.As he knocked on the door it suddenly struck him what a bad idea this was. Would she think he was incompetent for asking the same question twice? Would she be annoyed at his bothering her? Would she not be here?As every moment passed he suddenly found himself wishing she wasn't here. Then he could pretend this whole thing never happened. What a terrible, terrible idea to come here. He had a million other things to be doing after all. But, here he was. Staring at her office door. And he really and truly had no idea whether he'd rather it open or remain shut.
Some said Valentina Tsoi had the sixth sense. Which she didn't-- but it was a nice, misguided compliment, of sorts. What people attributed to some freaky psychic ability was usually actually attributed to their own subconscious desire to announce themselves whenever they walked into the room, through scuffling footsteps, staggered breaths, unruly shadows, the likes. So usually, when Valentina Tsoi heard the feet nearing and then stopping at her door, before said person had a chance to knock, she was already opening the door, graciously letting them in, offering them some coffee, or maybe some tea, a how can I help you, today?, and throwing in one of her blinding smiles just for kicks and giggles. But today-- her schedule was backed up. Val was working against the clock, bare feet propped up on her table, nail polish drying, as she read the incredibly long requests each government official had sent in, sifting through bribes and reports of blackmail and media outlets trying to get a piece of, well, everything. Her door, usually wide open, was closed. The woman behind the door, usually exquisite in every way, shape, and form-- had not slept for sixty hours. Not that you'd be able to tell-- if not for the small collection of stilettos and oxfords by her chaise which suggested that she had practically lived here for the past three days. So yes, she had heard the footsteps long before they reached her door. And yes, she heard the stopping, the knocking, the waiting. But as much as Val hated to admit it, it took her a rather long time to stop typing up a censure to the thirty seven news outlets practically begging for any updates available asking them as kindly as she could to just leave her the hell alone, find a decent pair of heels, shove the rest of her shoes in a cupboard, and make her way to the door. It didn't matter. By the time she made it to the door, you wouldn't be able to tell. Swinging it open, it was-- ah, of course, Head Guard, Westley Arthur-- and Val already had the upper hand, as she locked eyes, her doe eyes on his very slightly panicked blue ones (aw, how cute), eyes and mouth both crinkling up into the same angelic smile which warranted dozens of daily letters and presents from both men and women across Illea. "Mr. Arthur! You're here for the updated roster, I assume? Come in, make yourself comfortable," she ushered him in and sat him down in an armchair with an espresso before he could protest. "I'm sorry to keep you waiting, it won't be long-- I just made a few adjustments for the sake of keeping up the pretense of heteronormativity-- but other than that, it's basically the same."
After waiting a short amount of time, so much happened in thirty seconds that his brain was hardly able to process it. The door whisked open, they locked eyes (oh, God, her eyes were gorgeous, and that smile...), and suddenly he was sitting with an espresso in hand as Valentina flitted around the room doing a thousand things at once, as usual.It was always thus with meetings with Valentina. She perplexed and confused him to no end and he always felt seven steps behind her at any given moment. And yet, somehow, he couldn't get enough of that feeling. She was intoxicating to be around and she fascinated hi-And he was staring off into the distance. Or maybe at her. He really couldn't tell which. His brain scrambled to remember what had just happened and what she'd said to him, trying to figure out what the proper reply was."Yes! Roster. I need the roster, yes." That was why he was here, he suddenly remembered. Not to have coffee, although it looked delicious and he could probably use a serious caffeine boost. (How had she even managed to make coffee so quickly? It had been his hands the second he'd sat down, and it was hot!) He nodded hastily, snapping himself out of his second daze of the meeting. Get yourself together, Westley, it's only been a minute. "I'm sure whatever changes you've made will be acceptable."
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