Warnings: Rated M for swearing and sex in later chapters. Allison's, because her real name is Allison, yo, not Mallory, life was not/is not always sunshine and moonbeams, so there are mature themes dealing with stripping and prostitution, and anything in the movie is fair game, and...other stuff not in the movie.
A/N: Crossing these two took some skewing of the original timelines, and it was easier to skew Tyler's than it was Allison's. So the timeline is current or starting in 2010. For Allison, it's been two years since movie-time, so she left NOLA two years ago. Tyler was just moved to fit within those time constraints. So, it's 2010 for him as well (because this is not The Lake House), he's still just about to turn 22, and most other canon stands, except of course, he didn't die in 9/11, and there will be no Tyler death in this story. That would make me very sad.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, nor am I profiting in any way besides my torrid fantasies.
I hated Aidan. He was a horrible roommate. He ate all the food and moved things to places that he didn't recall. He didn't clean up after himself at all (which, I was lax in this area, too, on occasion), he spilled beer on furniture, and I hated when he did this: when he somehow talked me into going out when I didn't want to in the first place, and then we wound up in loud bars, with equally horrible music and mediocre beer, and a hangover that lasted long past the morning after when I'd wake up next to some faceless chick whose name I didn't know in the first place, much less could I be expected to remember. I suppose that's why I loved him, too. He was a good friend, even if he was a horrible roommate.
Hell, maybe I was the horrible one. I didn't like to socialize anymore; there was no point. He'd made some grand production about going out tonight because I'd become an introvert and used to go out with him every night of the week. It just all seemed so pointless. Going out now was pointless, inane, and…vacant. It felt vacant. I felt vacant here. I could do this at home with more enthusiasm and less social requirement. But Aidan looked like he was having fun being himself, and I knew he was only trying to help in his own way.
The girls we tended to meet, the faceless ones whose names I didn't know to begin with, much less remember, didn't interest me. They were shallow and vapid, and they were here because they'd been dragged by a friend, or were as mindless as Aidan. That was being overly harsh. He wasn't mindless; he just liked having a good time. The problem was, I didn't think this was a good time anymore. It was just more of the same. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy a random fuck; it was just more work than I wanted to put forth tonight. Not that the girls we tended to meet required work, either. I was just tired of it all. They were all the same. Fuck it. He'd managed to latch onto these two girls near the bar and was thoroughly engaging a blonde that looked way out of his league. That left me with the other one.
Her hair was an unidentifiable color; something between red, and brown, and black, and auburn, and she looked about at excited to be here as I did. I pulled a cigarette out and lit it, tossing the match into an ashtray on the bar and glanced at her. She was watching me, watching my mouth specifically, but it wasn't in the way I thought it was going to be. Ordinarily, when a girl looked at your mouth that way, she's got something on her mind, but she seemed transfixed on the cigarette. I smirked and blew out a puff of smoke, already trying to stuff down the feeling of annoyance if this chick was some non-smoking advocate. It was a fucking bar! If she expected to come into a back-alley bar in New York and not leave with the smell of stale beer and smoke on her clothes, she'd come to the wrong place entirely. I held out the pack to her, raising an eyebrow in an offering way, but she waved me off, mumbling something.
It was too noisy in here to mumble. Jesus Christ, she was going to have to speak up.
"What?" I asked, leaning toward her.
She was fidgeting. Like, nearly vibrating right next to me, like she was a ball of energy just waiting to explode, and yet she mumbled.
"I said, I quit." Her mouth was nearly to my ear by the time she uttered it, loud enough that I could hear over the music this time.
I backed up and studied her a minute and then nodded. "That sucks. I keep promising my sister I'll quit, but I never do," I said in that half-shouting-while-trying-to-be-conversational way you had to adopt in bars, and I hoped that she'd catch on and do the same.
She was a tiny thing. Like, seriously tiny. She looked like she needed a decent meal, or fifty. And then there was the vibrating/fidgeting thing. I wasn't sure if it was nervousness or, fuck me, for all I knew, she could be high as a kite. She didn't seem high, though, just high strung or something.
"Your sister?" she said, her eyebrows pulling down.
I nodded, "Yeah. She's twelve," I said in way of explanation.
She nodded back to me, her face still puzzled. Honestly, I had no idea why I'd even told her that. I didn't normally do family stories about my kid sister and her disapproval of my smoking habit on the first meeting, or ever, because there normally wasn't a second meeting. It's not like this was a date, or that it would ever lead to one.
"Can I get you a drink?" I asked. Might as well be hospitable for our one meeting here. She eyed me warily. I took another long drag from the cigarette and stared back at her. My eyebrows rose in question. "It wasn't a marriage proposal, I just thought you might like a drink."
She let out a deep breath, "Yeah, ok. I'll have a Diet Coke." Thank God her volume had risen.
"A Diet Coke?" I asked, smirking again. She nodded. I waved the bartender over, "Can I get a Diet Coke?"
The bartender sat it on the bar without even looking at me again and I handed it to her. She took a tentative sip from the straw, as if I'd spiked it or something in the three-point-two seconds I'd even had the glass in my hand, and averted her gaze from me. Her eyes darted to the door for a second and then back to me. "Thanks."
I nodded back, watching her again. This was odd. And not at all like the usual scenario. For one, she was totally sober, and ordinarily, a few drinks more and we'd be well on our way out the door. Two, this whole nervous, fidgeting, look-to-the-door and did-he-spike-my-drink thing was sort of a big, fat, red, blaring alarm. And I should know better than to stick around blaring alarms. It normally led to trouble and I got myself in enough of that on my own. Then I started wondering if something with me was just off because, I thought I was doing a pretty decent job of looking normal and not psychotic. I'd been pleasant and offered her a drink, and I didn't think I was giving her any reason to find me dangerous or run-for-the-door worthy. I could be charming when I wanted to be, and I wasn't throwing it all over her, but I hadn't been a complete dick, either. She was strange. I didn't normally have to talk this much.
Hmm. "So, you from New York?" I asked, grabbing my beer from the bar and putting the cigarette out.
She shook her head, her gaze bouncing from her friend and Aidan and then back to me.
I chuckled, "So where are you from, then?"
"I've been around."
Jesus, this was like pulling fucking teeth. "Anywhere I might know?"
She looked bored with this conversation, or annoyed. She let out a breath and looked down, shuffling. "Yeah, I was in New Orleans for a while. Texas. Vegas." She shrugged, "Now I'm here."
"What brings you to New York?"
"What brings you to New York?" she parroted back, and a mite snippily.
I chuckled, "Born and bred." Wow. I was so not getting laid with this chick tonight. I wasn't used to this amount of effort. It was kind of refreshing.
She nodded, looking at her friend again.
"You late for something?" I asked, casually leaning on the bar.
She sighed again. "No. I just…" she waved her free hand at me, "forget it."
I watched her gaze bounce again. "If you're worried about your friend, Aidan is harmless."
Her gaze fixed on me. Holy shit. She'd never actually looked me in the eye before. Her eyes were quite striking, demanding and accusing all at once. And they were green. Even in this shitty, dim lighting, with the stupid bar signs and the strobes and the smoke, I could make out the color easily. When under the scrutiny of that gaze, I wasn't sure I wanted it. Part of me wanted to look away. "And what about you? What are you?"
I smirked, "Oh, I'm dangerous. Me, you definitely want to watch out for."
She cracked a smile. That was a first, too. She looked incredibly younger when she smiled. It suited her. "So, you're from New York, huh?"
I nodded, "Yep."
"And you're dangerous?"
I nodded, "Yep."
She snorted, shaking her head. "I don't think you know what danger is."
"No. What part of New York are you from?"
Oh, she was playing dirty now. I didn't answer.
"Yeah, that's what I thought. You do this a lot? Come down to these bars and pick up chicks?"
"Your friend doesn't seem to mind," I nodded to where she was hanging all over Aidan.
"My friend knows how to hustle just as well as I do."
"Is that what you're doing here? Hustling?"
"Look, just forget it, ok? You seem like… Thanks for the drink." She walked over to her friend and started prying her off of Aidan.
Aidan was incredulous and confused. "What? Where are you going? I thought we had a connection. Don't go!" He chased after them. Oh, Christ.
This night was turning into a clusterfuck of epic proportions and I could have just been at home, happily drunk by now. Fucking Aidan. I threw a few bills down on the bar and ran to catch up before he got himself robbed in an alleyway by two hustler chicks or some shit. He had the worst taste in women.
"Aidan!" I yelled. "Fucking stop!"
Of course he acted like he hadn't even heard me, running right out the door and following them down the alley beside the bar, lamenting over their connection and their plans to go back to our place.
"Fucking Christ, Aidan," I said, grabbing him by the back of his shirt and jerking him back just when he'd reached them. "Get a grip."
He shrugged me off, "Ladies! Come on!" He ran a few more steps. "Candi with an 'I,' wait!"
Oh, God. I was never letting him drag me into a night like this again. Candi? Jesus. "Aidan, you dumbass."
By the time they actually stopped and I caught up to Aidan fawning all over the blonde, I had half a mind to just let her have him. Let her take him for whatever he wanted to give away. They'd probably be living in our apartment by the time she was done with him. And it'd probably serve him right. Her friend, my witty conversational partner, now just looked bored, and resigned, and tired. I knew the feeling.
So we both just kind of stood there with our hands shoved in our pockets while Aidan and Candi continued this rather pointless and disgusting display of flirting or…whatever it was called that they were doing.
She was back to the nervous fidgeting, chewing her nails and looking down the alley. Exits. I think she was looking for exits. There was a clatter down the alley and she jumped slightly. I turned my head and watched as a few guys walked in front of a van and the van driver honked, stopping just short of driving over them. And then the driver and his passenger proceeded to get out of the van and start to beat the shit out of the guys that just happened to walk in their path. I wasn't a Good Samaritan; I was just pissed off that this night had gone from bad to worse to clusterfuck, and I was walking toward the crowd before I really even knew I'd started. My fist was in the air and flying down on the van driver in the next instant, and it all got kind of hazy from there. There was pain in my knuckles and gravel digging into my cheek, and blood in my mouth and my ears were ringing, and I was in handcuffs lined up next to Aidan and the assholes who started the whole thing.
The cop who was handling all of this was a real prick. They let us go after, shockingly, Candi informed them that we had only been trying to help and weren't directly involved to start with. I thought Aidan was being stupid; maybe she wasn't out to hustle him because it'd be a pretty elaborate scheme to keep it up that long. My Diet Coke friend was just staring at me with this completely perplexed look on her face. Her eyes were all squinty and her mouth was set in a line, and I really didn't care what she thought, but the staring was getting a little old.
Once I was out of the cuffs, the prick cop was still spouting off and was going to send all of them to lockup. I attempted to right his assumption, since they'd let us go, and let them know that it had been the van driver and his friend who had started the whole thing. He wasn't interested in what I had to say at all. And that pissed me off. I will admit, it was my own fault, because you shouldn't ever grab a cop. I will also admit, I tend to do things sometimes without thinking them through. However, the one-eighty degree turnaround I got and the slam to the police cruiser windshield was a little excessive, in my opinion. The huge gash that sprouted over my eye would agree. Pain shot through my head and blood smeared all over the windshield while he cuffed me again and reread me the same rights that I'd just been read.
And suddenly, all I could hear was shouting. And it sounded like it was coming from my previously barely-chatty friend. She was tiny, but holy shit was she spunky. She got all up in the cop's face, screaming, "What the fuck is the wrong with you? He was just trying to tell you what happened! You fucking cops always think you know the truth. You're so wrong. You're so fucking wrong! It can be right there in front of you and you don't even notice it."
She made her own fatal mistake when she shoved him. She should have learned from my previous example that those particular moves were disastrous for any shot at not getting your ass thrown in the can. They had to forcibly remove her, hauling her off while she kicked and screamed.
She looked incredibly sexy when she was angry, her indescribable hair all a mess. I could still hear her yelling about "fucking cops" and kicking at the seats in the cruiser they'd dumped her in as they shoved me into the back of another. Aidan was shoved in the other side, and I rested my head back while they drove us to the police station. I had no idea what prompted her outburst. Or why the hell she gave a damn about the cop busting my shit all up. She was so incredibly strange. I smiled all the way to the station.
They put us all in holding cells, wisely separating the groups. My head was killing me and I really wished that I would have drank more, because maybe then it wouldn't have hurt so much. I think I resembled that of an accident victim after a crash; my shirt was covered in variously red-colored patches of blood and I could feel the bruises forming everywhere. Why I did this kind of shit, I couldn't explain even to myself. The pain was oddly liberating, though. It was different. Alive. It was a break from the mundane sameness. I supposed that the next time I wanted a release from the monotony, there were easier ways.
Aidan was making his phone call and I finally sat down on one of the benches near the side. I could see into the cells across from us; the asshole van driver and his buddy yelling shit, still, and the next cell where Candi and…fuck, I didn't even know her name, were being held. Candi was sitting on the bench, looking appropriately bored, and my cop-loving buddy was pacing back and forth like a caged animal.
"Hey," I called.
Her head jerked in my direction but she didn't stop pacing. "Hey," she called back, not looking at me.
"My name is Tyler."
"Yeah, I know. Your friend was yelling it repeatedly when you were going after that cop."
I snorted, "Right. Are you gonna tell me your name, or do I have to ask?"
"Mal – Allison. My name is Allison."
I watched Candi's leg stop bouncing on the bench and they shared a look.
"Nice to meet you."
She made some vague gesture back to me, but I supposed her feelings on meeting me were clouded by the fact that she was in the clink now.
"That thing with the cop…" I started, "What was that exactly?"
She shrugged, "I dunno. What was yours?"
I shrugged back, standing and leaning against the bars. "Maybe I like to push things."
"Maybe I don't like cops."
Aidan came back then, and a random patrol cop told me I could have my phone call, but that was not happening. There was really only person I could call and I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction. Aidan started yelling all sorts of shit at me that I really didn't need to hear. And I really didn't feel as bad about this particular jail episode as some of the other shit I'd gotten him into. As far as I was concerned, this night was entirely his fault. He finished the yelling about the same time that my father's lawyer showed up. Fucking Aidan.
"Yeah, that's right. I called your dad."
Well, fuck me.
I walked out of the cell and craned back to look at my cop-disliking friend. Allison. Our eyes met for a brief second but then she was gone again, back to pacing. We completed all the out-processing shit, and the lawyer my father had sent was signing all the necessary paperwork so we could get the hell out of here. Aidan was still livid and yelling at me in hushed tones, but I tuned him out this time.
As we were walking out, I stopped the lawyer. "Hey, can you do me a favor?"
He looked at me, guarded, like I was going to ask him to get me out of a murder charge or something.
"There were two girls with us who got dragged in with everyone. Can you bail them out, too?"
He regarded me a minute. "Are you turning into a humanitarian, Tyler?"
"Someone should bail them out. It's kind of…my fault they're here, so…" I didn't say please. I wouldn't. I would never say please to my father, or one of his many minions.
He turned around without saying another word and we started for the door. Aidan was still on about shit.
"You haven't heard a word I've said, have you?"
"Not really. And I don't really give a shit, either. You're the one who dragged me out tonight, and out into that alley. So, really, it's your fault."
He scoffed, "You are such a dick." He seemed to notice that I'd stopped after we got outside of the police station. "What are we doing just waiting here? Let's go."
"In a minute."
"Fuck, Tyler. Are you waiting for her?"
I didn't answer.
"What do you think, man? She's gonna be so grateful that you that she jumps you right here on the steps of the police station? Are you still trying to get laid out of this?"
I didn't answer that either. Truthfully, I had no idea what the fuck we were waiting around for. What I was expecting. Was that all I wanted out of this? To end the night with a bang with her? Was I looking for something else? I think, mostly, she just confused me. Surprised me. She was different, and I couldn't deny that it was appealing. There was something about her. Something about the way she watched me, looked at me. There was such a profound sense of…loss. And I knew something about that. I don't know. I just knew that I didn't want it to be the last time I ever saw her. And if I just walked away and didn't look back, I'd never find her again.
She and Candi came barreling out of the doors, and she seemed genuinely surprised when we were still there. The lawyer followed a few steps behind and nodded to me on his way to the car. She and Candi shared a look, and I made myself as unassuming and non-threatening as possible.
I tried for a smile. "You ok?"
She nodded. "You?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine," I dismissed. "I just wanted to make sure before we took off."
She looked rather amused, "Yeah, we're used to taking care of ourselves."
I shrugged, "Well, you would have been in there all night otherwise."
She laughed. Like, genuinely laughed at me. "It's not the first night either of us has spent in jail."
Ungrateful little bitch. "What's your problem? I was just trying to make it right."
"By what? Having your daddy bail us out? Does he always bail you out, Tyler? Have you ever actually had to take care of yourself?"
"You don't know anything about me. Where do you get off making judgments about me?"
"You were judging me the minute you laid eyes on me with your cocky smirk, and buying drinks. It doesn't always work that way, Tyler."
I really wished she would stop saying my name like that. It was hard to concentrate on being mad at her when she kept using my name. "I should have left your ass to rot in there, I don't even know why I bothered."
"Fuck you, Tyler. You know dick about my ass. And I was just fine waiting it out in there. What were you expecting? How did you think this was going to go when we came out?"
"I didn't –"
"Did you think I was just going to fall at your feet and blow you right here? Your father's lawyer doesn't impress me."
"Fucking Christ. I didn't mean any of it like that."
"You didn't want anything in return for bailing us out?"
God, she was standing there with her hands on her hips, all pissed off and yelling, and saying my name, and why was she even affecting me this way? I hadn't argued with a chick in years. That's why. It was so familiar and pointless, and no matter how fucked up it was, I'd missed it. Just the interaction. Interrupting me and passionate about whatever the fuck she thought I did wrong. "Maybe a little gratitude, but, no, I didn't expect anything."
"That is such bullshit. If all you wanted was gratitude, you would have fucking left."
"God, you are so infuriating." I paused, just letting her seethe there for a few seconds. "Do you wanna get breakfast? Can I buy you breakfast?"
"What?" she looked surprised again.
"Breakfast. You do eat, right?"
"I…yeah. I eat."
"You look like you should eat more. I know a place. Come on."
I turned and started to walk, completely ignoring the look Aidan was shooting me. He could fuck off and go home. I only stopped to check if she was following when I reached the end of the block. And sure enough, she was a few steps behind me, but catching up. Candi wasn't with her and Aidan appropriately fucked off. I must have passed the test then – the one that she deemed me not a psycho if she could have breakfast with me. We didn't talk the rest of the way, just walked in silence. I slowed my steps when I realized that one of mine was like two of hers and she was almost jogging next to me. I held the door open for her when we got to the restaurant and she looked at me oddly again. I could sense a few things here: she wasn't used to gentlemanly charm, she found it odd, and she was extremely distrusting.
We took a booth with a window view and she looked outside while I studied her instead of the menu. I ordered coffee and she had juice. I ordered pancakes while she got eggs and toast. Why that was fascinating to me, I had no idea, but I found myself cataloguing and filing everything she did. I'm not sure what we were waiting for, but most of breakfast was silent.
She finally broke, though, looking right at me again with those fiery green eyes, "Why are you doing this?"
I shrugged, "I like our conversation."
She smirked, "You're incredibly weird."
"I know. You're not much better."
She sighed, looking out the window again. "I know."
"Can I see you again?"
Her head swiveled back to me. "What do you mean?"
What did she mean what did I mean? "What do you mean, what do I mean?" That was brilliant, Tyler. "I want to know if I can see you again."
She struggled for a minute. "You mean…you want…a…like, a date?"
"Yeah. Like a date."
More contemplating out the window, this time complete with lip chewing.
"Is it really that huge of a decision? Am I really that bad?" I teased. At least, I hoped I was teasing.
Her eyes jerked to me, "I…I don't know."
"You don't know if I'm that bad?"
"I don't know if we can go on a date."
"But I'd like to see you again."
"Am I completely misreading this?"
"What do you mean?"
Jesus. "I mean, do you not want to see me again, too? If you don't, then I can accept that. I just thought… you seemed to…" I sighed. "It's fine. Never mind. I'm sorry I asked. And I'm sorry that I got you arrested." I grabbed my wallet and threw enough on the table to cover the meal and a tip. "I'll leave you alone." I got up from the booth and forced myself to walk to the door without turning back. I took a deep breath when I got out the door and grabbed for the pack of cigarettes in my pocket, lighting one and taking a huge drag before I started walking back to the apartment.
That was, by far, one of the strangest encounters I'd ever had with a girl. She was completely incomprehensible. I couldn't figure her out. Which was probably why I was so intrigued. It sucked. And seemed like an even huger waste of time that the entire night had not had one positive turn. I'd totally had experience with flirty player women. They strung you along and got a thrill out of leaving you hanging on the string. That wasn't what she was doing. I didn't think she was even capable of stringing really. She seemed alternately flirty one minute and confused the next. So fucking odd. If all she wanted to do was–
I turned at my name and there she was. Running after me. I threw the butt down and stubbed it out, waiting for her.
"Look, I…" she was fumbling already. "I don't do…this." She made a gesture between the two of us.
"This. Date. I don't date."
"Not so much, no."
"Is that, like, a personal choice or?" I left it opened ended.
"More like a circumstance. I just don't have a lot of experience with— I wouldn't know what I'm doing."
"Well there's no manual," I offered.
"No, but I have zero experience with…" she sighed. "I don't even know if that's something that I can…"
I waited for an answer that didn't come. She was bouncing again, nervous, fidgety. Always fidgety. She'd pulled the crusts off her toast through the entire breakfast. It was kind of cute. I didn't mean to make it worse, but I just had no idea what she wanted me to say here. "Do you want to try then or not?"
She was debating, I could tell. She finally looked at me. "Where's your place?"
Not what I was expecting. "I'm not sure I should tell a confessed hustler where I live."
She rolled her eyes. "If I wanted to hustle you, you'd already be missing shit."
I smirked, "This way."
I was happy it was only a few blocks to my apartment building. Truthfully, I was getting pretty tired. It'd been a helluva night, and the whole getting my face rearranged thing was wearing on me. She was silent on the walk; I lit a cigarette to pass the time, perplexed by the latest turn of events here. Apparently interested, yet claimed not to know what the hell she was doing. I really didn't know how to take her.
Thankfully Aidan was gone when we arrived, and the grand tour took about half a minute. She nodded appropriately and looked mostly with detachment as we moved through the apartment. If she was casing the joint, which I didn't think she was, she wasn't doing a very good job of it.
We ended up back in what served as our living room. "Yeah. So, that's the place in a nutshell." I rubbed at my hair. "Hey, I'm gonna take a quick shower, rinse all of the… well, the blood off. Did you want to take one?"
"No, I'm fine."
"Ok. I'll just be a few minutes. We don't have any silver or china, but my guitar'd probably be worth something to pawn. Beyond that, you'd have to dig for change in the cushions," I teased.
"So make yourself at home. There's stuff in the fridge and…ya know, just…whatever. I'll be back in a few."
She nodded, chewing on her lip. She looked like she was gonna bolt.
"You gonna be here when I get out?" I asked.
She smiled softly and turned to me. "I think so."
I nodded. "Good. I hope so."
I left her to bolt or stay, walking into the bathroom and turning on the water quickly. I wasn't in there long, so that didn't leave me a lot of time to think, which was good. I had no idea what I was doing here, but plugging along seemed to be going ok. I really didn't know what to expect from the rest of the…day, either. Crap. It was morning. I hoped she didn't have to work. I was off today, and it wasn't like I had to go to class, I was auditing it anyway, but I didn't know what other plans she had for the day. I'd have to ask when I got out of the shower.
I toweled off just as quickly, and was relieved to catch a glimpse of her still in the living room when I made my way back to my room to throw on some other clothes. I was still buttoning up the new shirt when I came back to the living room. She was sitting in the chair that faced the couch, the chair closest to the door.
"Hey," I said quietly.
"I'm glad you stayed."
"I was thinking while I was in the shower."
"Yeah, you don't have somewhere you need to be, do you? Like work or class, or something?"
She chuckled humorlessly, "No. I don't have anywhere else to be at the moment. I work…nights."
"Oh. Ok. Good. I don't work today. And I can blow off class."
"Class, huh? I didn't peg you for a student."
I chuckled. "No? Why is that?"
She shrugged again, "I don't know. I just didn't think you were the type."
She waved me off, "Forget it. I didn't mean it in a bad way."
That was kind of offensive. And judgmental. "Hmm."
"I just meant…I don't know what I meant," she said, looking down at her hands and picking at the hole in the knee of her jeans.
I guess I shouldn't really be that offended. I wasn't a typical student. "It's ok. You're half-right anyway." I turned to the fridge and grabbed a carton of orange juice, taking a glass down from the cupboard. "I worked out this auditing thing, so I don't really get grades."
She didn't say anything to that beyond a noncommittal sound and that kind of annoyed me. It felt like more judgment. I drank the whole glass before I turned back to her and then leaned on the counter that separated the kitchen from the living room. Her gaze bounced around the room before it landed on me.
"Can I get you anything?" I asked, still hospitable even with the judgments.
"You're bleeding," she said in lieu of answering me, pointing to the cut above my eye.
My hand shot up, my fingertips grazing over the cut gingerly. They came away with a smear of red. "Don't need stitches, my ass," I grumbled, turning again to find something to press against it.
"Do you have something to clean it with?" She was suddenly, like, right behind me and, shit, she should make more noise when she moved. She scared the shit out of me.
"Uhm. Maybe in the bathroom," I pointed. She followed me in there and I pointed to what functioned as our medicine cabinet, which had far more junk and less medicine in it than was probably normal. She rooted around in there for a while and pulled out some stuff.
I chuckled, "We might have one. We're not big into washcloths in this apartment." I rummaged through the stack of towels on the counter and managed to find one that looked halfway clean near the bottom of the stack and handed it to her. She ran it under the tap and then turned to me expectantly.
"You might want to sit down."
I nodded dumbly and turned to leave the bathroom. She led the way to my bedroom and gestured for me to sit on the bed. She stepped in between my legs and, hello, more surprise, because I didn't think she was even that interested, much less wanted to get in my space. She pulled away the paper towel that I had pressed against it and pressed the washcloth there instead. Some of that shit stung like a motherfucker, and I hissed while she held it against the cut.
She chuckled, "Don't be a baby."
"Well, fuck, it hurts."
"Yeah, it's a pretty good one." Wow, no sympathy there. She was still gentle, even with the lack of sympathy, and incredibly thorough. When she was done cleaning it, she backed up slightly. "Do you have any Super Glue?"
"Yes, Super Glue."
"Not on me." What the hell? "What did you want Super Glue for?"
She rolled her eyes, this strange posture of chewing on her fingernail and bouncing at the same time being instantly adopted again. "For your head, stupid." She pointed to the cut. "You're not really supposed to use it for deep cuts, but that can't get stitches anymore, either. The Super Glue would hold it together. Make the bleeding stop."
Huh. Wasn't she just a font of first aid knowledge? "Oh. There might be some in the drawer in the kitchen," I said, getting up and searching through the pounds of junk that littered the drawer. It was a tiny little tube and incredibly old, probably well past its expiration date, but might as well. I handed it to her as I sat down again on the bed.
She stepped right into me again, tipping my head back this time and methodically applying the glue like it was the frosting on a decorative fucking cake or something. Her brows pulled down in concentration and she went slowly and carefully, and her hand was cupping my face to hold it in place while the heel of her hand braced on my cheek so she could glue the cut neatly. The fabric of her shirt was pressing into me and she was incredibly warm. Her hand lingered on my face before she backed up again and put the cap on the glue. She tossed it onto the nightstand and then turned back to me and, shit, she was totally gonna kiss me. Except, she didn't. Instead, she leaned over and her lips made a tiny 'o,' and she blew cool air over the glue. Fucking hell.
My eyes fluttered closed and my hands kind of shot out on their own and landed on her hips, and everything about her was tiny and petite and perfect, and she stepped into me again and I pulled her forward, and she felt amazing. Her hands came back to my face and my head was tipped up, and when I opened my eyes again, she was watching me.
I don't know what she was looking for, but I felt the need to ask, "Can I kiss you?"
She nodded after a second, slowly, tentatively. And I tried to remember that she told me she didn't do this, she didn't date, and maybe she just didn't have experience with how these things tended to go. I let my hands wander up her back and pulled her closer, wanting her body flush with mine. She went easily enough and wound up with a knee bent on the bed, right in between my legs. Fuck. I moved a hand up to cup the back of her neck and pulled her head down, her eyes calculating and still watching, and it felt like it took forever before our lips were touching. Her lips were amazingly soft and the kiss was almost chaste; just a press together and I backed off. She stayed where she was, though, and I took that to mean I could do it again, pressing a little longer, a little harder. She fell into the rhythm quickly, and if she was new to this, I wanted her to be comfortable before I did anything else. I started moving my lips against hers, and she was either an excellent liar or a really fast learner.
I urged her to move closer, to sit on my lap, and she hesitated a minute; long enough that I thought I'd pushed too far, too fast already, but she relented quickly and straddled me, her hands landing in my hair and, good God, I hadn't kissed someone this long, this thoroughly in a long time. Most of the late-night-won't-remember-you-in-the-morning kind of encounters weren't this drawn out. It was still fun and satisfying, but it was a much faster pace and less comprehensive. There was kissing, sure, but it was more frenzied and less delicate. This felt delicate. Feeling her like this, her breasts pressed against my chest and the rest of her body in contact with mine, it was amazing. I reveled in the feel of her under my fingers. Her skinny arms and slender body, slim legs pressing against my thighs, her little hands combing through my hair. I leaned back on my elbows slowly, giving her time and space if she wanted to stop, but she followed me right down to the bed, shifting off of my lap, but not stopping our lips.
I was about to turn onto my side so the kissing could continue comfortably for both of us when she pressed her forehead into mine and stopped kissing me momentarily. Her hand ran down the button line of my shirt and stopped right at the top of my jeans. How her little hand got inside there that quickly, I have no idea, but her deft little fingers were on my cock faster than I could even blink.
What the hell was this now? She seemed to have a fair grasp on what she was doing, so what was this shit about not dating? She started stroking immediately, my cock filling out in her hand. Her forehead left mine and I missed the pressure, I missed feeling the hot puffs of air that left her mouth and traveled over my face. She wasn't kissing me anymore, either, and her hand, while amazingly attentive, felt very mechanical. She knew what she was doing with my dick. She knew how to stroke, how much pressure to apply, but it felt very detached and controlled. Like she was just trying to get me off. And…I mean, I could realize this was the case, but I didn't know why, or if I was just reading more into it than I should have been. So I just let her, coming with my pants still on and her little hand stroking every last bit of my release out.
Now, I wasn't a dick in bed. If I got off, whoever I was with got off, too. That was just…right. It was the way of the universe according to Tyler Hawkins. She reached for the washcloth soon after finishing me off and wiped her hand. I couldn't have given less of a shit that I'd just come in my pants. I wanted to make her feel good, too. I pulled her back to lie down again and she turned her head to look at me. I shifted closer and pressed a kiss to her lips.
"What are you doing?"
"Kissing you?" I didn't think that really needed to be answered, but she asked.
Uhm. "Because I want to?"
She looked confused.
I pressed another kiss to her lips gently, like we'd started with, and she relaxed slightly, kissing me back. I made sure she knew I was going to touch her before I did, my hand landing on her stomach and moving back toward her hip, kneading gently. My hand moved slow enough that she could have stopped me if she wanted to as I made my way into her jeans. I wasn't nearly as deft with my fingers as she was with hers and getting the jeans undone was more of a chore than I wanted. Getting this done with all the layers of clothing was another hassle, but if she was confused about me kissing her after I got off, clothes were probably staying on for this one. My fingers played under the band of her underwear for a while, just letting her get used to the feeling of me there, and I rubbed my thumb through the strip of hair just above her mound. I only used one finger to find her slit, running the pad through her lips and...stopped. I pulled back to look at her. She wasn't wet. At all.
"Are you ok?"
She nodded, "I'm fine."
"Are you…just not into this?"
"You don't need to do that," she said, staring me down.
"Uh…but…I want to do that."
This was a genuine question. She wasn't being aloof or anything. Like, she genuinely wanted to know why I had my hand down her pants. "Because…I want to make you feel good?" Why did I have to ask all this shit? Ask! I had to ask her a question to her questions. Because they were bizarre and strange questions to ask during any type of sexual encounter.
"You got off, didn't you?"
"Yes. And that's why I'd like to make sure you get off, too."
"I don't need to get off."
I took my hand out gently. "Why not?"
"I just don't."
"Is this part of the not dating thing? Like…you don't get the concept of mutual satisfaction?"
She laughed. "Maybe."
"Ok, well…this is how it works. Or, at least, this is how it works for me: if I'm with a girl and I get off, she gets off, too. Otherwise, there's really no point. Because I can get off myself, it's just not as fun. Nor is it mutual."
She was looking at me very strangely. "Are you f'real?"
I nodded, confused myself now. "Yes. Completely. That's how it works."
She turned her head toward the ceiling, looking away from me. I just stared at her. Because what the fuck was I supposed to do now? Like…did I try again? Protocol had flown out the window again. And apparently I was going to have to go back to the asking shit again. "Would you like me to?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know if you'd like me to get you off, or you don't know if you want to get off at all?"
"Which one? Do you get off?"
She giggled, "Yeah, I get off."
"But not with other guys."
"No, not normally."
"Have you ever gotten off with a guy?"
"Yeah. A long time ago."
She seemed incredibly far away when she said that, and she looked sad, and this shit was just monumentally fucked up. "Did you like it?"
"Yeah," she smiled. That was better. "It was nice."
"So…would you like me to?"
She turned her head back to look at me, "I…" she trailed off.
I stared her down, "Why are you so opposed to me making you feel good?"
She shrugged, "That's just not how it works."
"Christ, says who? I just told you I'd like to. Why is that not how it works? I want to get you off."
"I don't need to get off."
"Bullshit. That's bullshit. Completely."
"What difference does it make to you if I don't get off? You got off. That's what you wanted."
Ok. What? "You think…I brought you here just so I could get off?"
"No. I just told you that if I get off, you do, too. And I didn't bring you here for that reason anyway. Jesus, you're the one who asked where I lived. You wanted to come here."
She didn't have an answer for that.
I sighed. "Ok, look. Apparently something has gotten crossed here in communication. I'm not looking for just sex with you, ok? I didn't bring you here or buy you breakfast because I wanted to get in your pants."
She raised an eyebrow.
"Fuck me, come on. I mean, sure, if you're gonna offer it to me, I'm gonna take it. But…if you just wanted to hang out today, or whatever, I was fine with that, too. I'm not in a hurry. I just…I liked you. I didn't want to walk away and never see you again. I only asked for a date at the diner. I didn't ask for you to come back here and jerk me off. It wasn't a conditional date."
She sighed then, heavily, letting the breath out slowly. "I'm sorry. I told you. I don't know how to do this. I…I'm used to a certain way of guys just…it doesn't matter. I'm sorry, I just have a tendency to react."
"Was that what the handjob was? Reacting?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
I nodded. "Ok."
"Why do you ask that?"
"It was just very mechanical. Like you weren't really into it. I guess I wasn't that surprised that you weren't wet."
She was watching me again. It was kind of unnerving. Like she alternately knew every thought I had and then didn't know shit. Maybe I kept surprising her the same way she did me.
I looked back at her, "Did something happen to you? Did someone hurt you…or force you? Is that why you don't date?"
She closed off again. "It's a long story."
"I've got all day."
"You don't know anything about me."
"You don't know anything about me, either. Tell me. Then I'll know something about you. Do I need to know?"
"Do you want to?"
"I just told you I did." Oh, my God, talk about pulling teeth. I thought the bar was bad. This chick was like a rollercoaster. Vibrant and fun and alive, and then distant and unemotional and blank. And so fucking controlled.
"You don't trust me, do you?"
She shook her head. Sadly, but she shook it.
I nodded. "That's ok. I flirted with you in a bar, got you arrested, bought you breakfast, and you gave me a handjob; I suppose that's not exactly trustworthy material on the onset."
She didn't say anything.
"I'm guessing you don't want to relax and let me try to get you off, either."
I nodded. "Ok." I let a beat pass. "You wanna take a nap?"
She looked at me oddly again. "Where?"
"Here. This is a bed, ya know?"
She looked wary again, untrusting.
"I promise, I will not try to have sex with you or get you off in any way. We can just sleep here. I'm an excellent sleeper." I put my hands up to show I was completely innocent and truthful.
She chuckled and pulled her bottom lip behind her teeth, appraising me. "If I do this…and you try something…I'll use the Super Glue, and you won't like where I use it."
I smirked, "You really shouldn't threaten me with a good time this early in the relationship."
She smiled back. "I'll remember that." She debated another minute and I let her have whatever she needed. "Ok," she said, somewhat hesitant.
I moved slowly, lying down so I was vertical instead of the horizontal way we'd been lying across the bed, and she followed suit, mirroring me with her head on the other pillow. I figured, for this first sleeping arrangement, she wasn't going to want me to touch her and there was going to be that invisible line that I couldn't cross on the bed. Trust took building. I could do that. "Sweet dreams," I said softly, knowing that I had to be the one to close my eyes first. Building step number one.
I closed my eyes and I heard her sigh, "My dreams aren't normally very sweet."
I opened them again for a second, "Mine aren't, either. I'm right here, though. If you need something."
She nodded, "Thanks."
I closed my eyes again. "Thanks for gluing me."
She snorted, "You're welcome."
I know I smiled and that was about it. I fell asleep quickly, and just like I'd hoped she was going to stick around when I took the shower, I hoped she be there when I woke up, too.
Special thanks to my friend/beta/lover/wife/hetero-life partner, Kaia for everything, and Em for developing back story and framework and everything else, too. Luff you guys.
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