Spoiler Level: Nightfall
(This was originally intended as platonic, for a "Rivals" prompt, buuuut now I'm considering the ship, honestly. Sooo I tagged this as a ship fanfiction, even though it's not technically one of my ships... I'm not a multi-shipper, but Linx, but Destina is also good...)
Stina muttered a curse under her breath, staring at the destruction wreaked by her elixir. Why couldn’t she just get it right? Magnate Leto would not be happy that she’d exploded another elixir in the alchemy room. She’d need to clean up well. She sighed.
“Never thought I’d see the day.”
Stina whipped around to see Dex leaning against the doorframe and smirking.
“What do you want?” she growled.
“Oh, nothing.” Dex shrugged. “But it looks like you’re failing alchemy. Not able to make a basic hair-dying elixir at Level Four.” He chuckled. “Never thought I’d see the day the great Stina Heks was in danger of Exillium, like her—”
“You shut up.” Stina stomped over to Dex and jabbed her finger at him. “I’m fine.”
“Fine enough that you’ve used solid imp saliva instead of liquid,” Dex observed.
Stina turned on her heel, stomped back over to the table, and pointedly dumped the remains of her concoction in the trash bin.
“Guess I’ll be on my way then,” Dex said, straightening and turning around.
“Wait!” Stina faltered. “You… owe me! For the balding elixir and the beard.” She crossed her arms.
Dex slowly turned and meanadered over to the table, stepping around the purple goo covering the floor. “Stina Heks wants me to tutor her in alchemy,” he mused. “Because she apparently hasn’t gotten over two-year-old pranks.”
“That’s not—I don’t—” Stina sputtered, her face turning red. The nerve of this boy! “I’d say that’s a pretty accurate summary,” Dex said. “But my help comes at a price.” He leaned in. “You have to help me with something in return.”
Stina still wasn’t sure if she even wanted his help, but it was too late now. “What do you want?”
“I need you to read Sophie’s emotions next lunch period she eats with Fitz and tell me them.” That was… an oddly specific request.
“Ohhh, I see.” Stina smiled. “You like Sophie, and want to check out the competition.”
It was Dex’s turn to sputter indignantly.
“Okay,” Dex took a slow breath and plopped down in one of the few non-spattered seats.
“Whatever. Do we have a deal or not?”
“Fine.” Stina sat down opposite him, wincing as she felt goo soak into her tunic. “You have a deal.”
“Alright, then. Get to work. Your first assignment is cleaning up the mess of your last attempt.” Dex smiled, gesturing in the direction of the bathrooms.
Two hours later, Stina had a finished elixir, and Dex had the satisfaction of spending two hours bossing around his rival. They parted ways somewhat pleasantly, until lunch the next day…
Stina and Maruca were gossiping about the Level Threes who still hadn’t manifested, when Dex appeared between them.
“I need Stina,” he announced.
“Oooh, what’s this about?” Maruca raised her eyebrows at Stina.
“Nothing,” Stina spat, glaring at her. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Dex nodded toward the table across the cafeteria where the losers were sitting, and then walked back over to take his seat there.
Stina shot one last look at Maruca, who was wiggling her eyebrows, and started to walk over. A few prodigies’ attempts at tripping her later, Stina was one table away from her targets. Sophie was on the right side, chatting animatedly with Fitz and Biana.
Stina was still caught up in her thoughts when Linh caught her eye and crinkled her forehead uncertainly, glancing at Tam.
Stina would need to act quickly to avoid too much attention. She casually walked around the table she was at and along the edge of the losers’.
She sidestepped closer to Sophie as she walked, brushing her arm as she passed and concentrating. Sophie started, her emotions flashing to surprise and emotion, but Stina had enough information.
She turned toward the bathrooms as if she had been heading to them all along, with a final glance at Dex, who was looking at her inquisitively. She’d tell him later.
“Interest, happiness, and shyness,” Stina told Dex, leaning back in her seat. “And my assignment today is transmutating steel to iron.”
Dex’s face fell. “I was hoping it at least wouldn’t be Fitz,” he muttered. “But I guess it is.” He looked up. “Wait, so you want to keep going?”
“Isn’t that why we’re here?” Stina raised an eyebrow.
“Well, no, I was here for information,” Dex told her. “But I guess we can keep going, if you’ll keep helping me.
“Fine. But no more mushy stuff, please,” Stina mimed gagging.
“Deal.” Dex nodded at her.
And so it began.