And lo, their faith was rewarded, for that which was long in coming had finally descended unto them.
HI! Those of you who actually watch this poor neglected fic, I apologize to you for leaving you wanting for so long. It is finally winter up the the north, and I can think again. That, and I have wonderful writing music I can stream endlessly now. I have missed this story a bit, I must say. I just... I need to do it right, and I haven't been inspired for a while. I hope that changes now, since this is historically my most prolific time of year.
Crisp autumn air slaps roughly against the bare side of my skull, a cool breeze stealing the warmth from my freshly shaven skin and mocking my attempt to keep warm. I shiver with the inadequacy of the rough brown leather jacket I wear, a gift from a father I haven't seen in about two years, ever since I left home to run away from his marital issues with my mother. It is all I have of him now, and I can't seem to bear the idea of replacing the love and affection he gave to me with harsh words and strained silences at forced dinners.
I pirouette in the dark, I see the stars through a mirror.
So instead, I tug my lonely treasure closer around me and shimmy around in the clothes that Messalla practically threw at me for his whole "drag her to the bar" escapade. I still have trouble accepting that he talked me into this, and more trouble still that he managed to talk me into actually wearing the tight black stone-washed jeans that have hidden in the back of my drawer since the one and only time I wore them. That night lives in infamy, since that was the night that I learned just how much on an inescapable ass Seneca was. On a date he took me on, I find him wrapped up in some bimbo blonde outside the restaurant. This, of course, only after I had to pay for our overpriced and much too small meal because he had wasted all his money on something that he wouldn't confess to.
Tired mechanical heart, beats 'til the song disappears.
The shirt though is something Messalla dragged out of whatever corner of fashion he resides in, where diaphanous tanks with cinched in waists are killer, and pictures of out-dated curios are kitsch and hip. Still though, it is a nice shirt, and the way he grinned after I slipped it over the perky push-up that he literally had to force me into tells me that it's my shirt now. Considering my friend, I turn about to look at him as he trails lazily behind me and ask wearily, "Where the hell are we going again? I know you said this place is opening up tonight, but you never actually said anything about it."
Messalla at least has the grace to look a little chagrined but bounces back, chipper as ever in his sly reply, "We're just about there actually. See that little not-so-little thing of metal and concrete? That's 13, the new bar in town. It's actually supposed to be monstrous in size, but most of it is underground. I heard from this guy I know that the sound system they have is top of the line, and they still almost don't need it because it's built in such a way that the acoustics of the joint are incredible. The act they have tonight, that might be a good thing. They just came back from their first tour a few months ago, which is pretty amazing considering that they are a string quartet. I heard they call themselves Mockingjay Revolution, but I have no clue what the hell a mockingjay even is."
I just about stumble when he spills the identity of the band playing tonight. I never got the name of her band from my mystery girl, but I do know that they are exactly what is being advertised here, a string quartet that must have some touring experience if the way she spoke of being on stage is any indication. If it's them, if it's her, then I can guess where the name came from. I have a vague remembrance of her mentioning loving the sound of singing jays and wishing that there was one that had the markings of a mockingbird. Now I have all kinds of hope and this rumbling buzzing sensation in my gut that I put down to wanting to ask this nameless girl if she will let me film her, but I have a feeling that there is something more that Messalla would have to say about it.
Somebody shine a light, I'm frozen by the fear in me. Somebody make me feel alive and shatter me.
I turn myself about and pick up the pace, needing to get inside and see if it really is her, to do...something. I'm not sure what, but there is something that I know I must do and it requires that this be the place where I will meet her again. I need her to be here, I need to hear that southern husk again and have it give me a name this time, a name I can use to ask many questions and hopefully receive many answers. I have no clue what questions those will be at the moment, but I want to ask them all. I call urgently over my shoulder, "Come on Messi, hurry up! You wanted to come so bad, stop dragging and let's get in there!"
At the door I almost find myself tripped up when a big blond meatwall holds out his arm to bar my way, but then I hear the familiar chirp of my mocha-skinned comrade take to the air.
"Let her through Gloss, she's the one who was already paid for. Cress, just ignore the armbar, go under and through."
A light shove in my back and I do as I am bidden, ducking under and around this Gloss that Messalla is entirely too familiar with and trying not to think of why that is. Inside the massive steel doors I find a long and somewhat steep stairwell descending towards a bright and warm light that is, thankfully, only one color. I was somewhat concerned that it would still be the typical dance club, but it would seem that those fears are unnecessary.
Traipsing down those stairs and into the light just brings me to another somewhat startling realization: I am on the fourth level of a huge concert venue and bar. I had heard him tell me that it was supposed to be massive, but I thought that Messalla was simply exaggerating, or that he'd been misinformed, because who would build a place like this entirely underground, right? Except someone did, and now I'm here and much too far from the stage to see anything. Thankfully it seems fairly empty still, so I pull a kid move and slide down the banisters to reach the bottom level faster and slide out onto the dance floor. On stage I can see the sound system hookups and other bits of equipment, but for the moment my mystery woman is not there.
The woman who is there is the picture of a stereotypical lesbian, if far prettier than most people would imagine in their head. Messy brown hair cut into a carefully disheveled mess and capped with a black beanie precariously situated over it, slightly asymmetrical eyebrows knit cutely together as she tries to rearrange the speaker setup. A worn red plaid flannel with the sleeves rolled to her elbows, the last couple buttons hooked, leaving most of her black ribbed wifebeater exposed. Jeans that look like they've seen far better days, actual wear patterns and sawdust decorating them as the frayed hems trail behind black Converse hightops that are more ducttape and string than actual shoe at this point.
I'm so busy absorbing her and wondering if she is one of the girls mentioned amongst the trees that I don't hear light footfalls come up behind me until a voice that I know almost as well as my own from remembering it so often recently tickles my ear.
"She is a sight, isn't she? So many adjectives, so little time."
So cut me from the line, dizzy, spinning endlessly.
I stop my heart from leaping out of my chest and manage a casual turn to look at her, the one that has consumed my thoughts and monopolized all of my time with her very existence. I try for mysterious grin, probably don't manage it, and simply hope that my voice is far less nervous than I am. "Hey there. Am I going to get a name, or are you going to disappear into the trees again?"
She laughs in such a way that I am sure she wasn't expecting to, and it is all the more perfect for it. In my mind I can see her dressed in a loose dress, the hem just short of her knees as it blows in the wind, that very same laugh spilling from her lips as film rolls to capture it. I don't know what caused it in that daydream, but something about that laughter makes my heart skip and fills me with that buzz again, along with a craving for more.
"Well now, aren't we jus' a demanding little thang? Since it seems so important to you, my name that is, it's Katniss. I'd rather you just call me Kat though, I don't exactly like being named after a darn plant."
I flip it over in my mind, tasting on my tongue and trying to engrave it on ever fiber so I never forget the name of the woman I wish to make immortal on film, and hold out my hand. "Pleased to meet you Katniss. I'm Cressida, and I'd love to know you well enough to call you Kat. If you're offering, that is." For some reason, that incites a blush to creep up her lightly tanned skin and across those perfect cheekbones that I didn't realize I felt so strongly for. She still shakes my hand, and there is a smile on her face that seems just a bit embarrassed and yet very pleased as it sits on her lips, marking another moment among moments that I seem to be collecting where I notice the way her mouth moves.
Somebody make me feel alive and shatter me.
She is about to speak again when there is a crash of sound intruding from the outside world and her eyes, those perfect eyes with their silver and smoke, flick over to the stage to answer a question that she obviously heard and I did not. I do notice though that the handshake is no longer a shake and has morphed into simply holding her hand between us, a state of affairs that I miss the moment it ceases to be when she steps away with regret in her eyes and a few whispered words on her lips.
"Enjoy the show Cress. I think you'll love it."
All night long I have listened to four women sing songs that I have heard a hundred thousand times and never gave mind to, only to hear them in a new way here. I have watched as the girl in the flannel, confirmed to be Johanna Mason when she came down during one of their breaks to buy me a drink and flirt in a way that was truly adorable if ineffective with me, danced about on stage and seemed to put her very soul into the pull of her bow. I have been mesmerized as the two blondes with their tiny frames and gentle, plain faces lit up from within and became breathtaking as they teased out an original piece. I have witnessed all four of them come alive and smile in a way that tells me this is their life, their one true passion.
Most of all though, I have watched the goddess that I found again by chance. I have committed to memory the elegant lines of her strokes with that bow on her cello strings, the heart-stopping light dancing just under those long eyelashes, the full richness of her voice as she paints her words on the air. I have reaffirmed my desire to put her to film, to capture just a piece of this creature for myself, and every moment I have watched her or heard her I have had the buzzing in my mind and the stutter in my heart growing stronger and stronger.
I know that I should feel afraid, no one else has ever had this effect on me, but all I can feel is wonder and the stirrings of something I have not felt for years. I remember a time when I was just into my teens, still awkward and gawky, when I felt something like this around one specific person. I wanted to capture them on film too, at the time that meant photographs, and it was such a confusing time that I don't even remember if they were male or female. All that mattered was the feeling, and how it didn't last when I found that they thought I was weird. Creepy, they said. That weird creepy girl with the camera.
This time though, there is none of that. I am still confused, but at least this time the person making me feel whatever this is seems to like me well enough and wants to know me more. The night is wearing old, the hours are passing by, but for as long as Katniss is here, this is where I want to be. Messalla tried to tease me about her once he saw where my eyes rested more often than not, but all he got was silence and a smile. I don't know why I smiled, but it felt right.
She looks right at me while I am pondering that very fact, and there is a zing that shoots straight through my chest, painful and at the same time ecstatic. She has this odd little half-smile on her face, and she's not looking away from me as she stands up, places her cello in its case, and steps up to the microphone that Johanna has just abandoned. "All right, ladies and gents, time for us to wrap up the night. The hour is late, the musicians are tired, and some of us have class in the mornin'. Before we go though, one more song, and this time it's for someone specific. You'll know who they are when you see them, b'lieve me."
Katniss is still looking right at me, through me, and there is something I cannot identify as it hides behind those mesmerizing irises. That smoky, velvety voice fills the air as she walks slowly towards me, every word racing straight to me and speeding my heart.
"Oh yeah, I'll tell you something I think you'll understand. When I say that something, I wanna hold your hand."
Every stride she takes has a purpose, and it pushes my pulse higher every second until I am sure that I will die. Then, contrary to all reason, my heart slams back down to a rhythm only slightly faster than normal as she takes my hand in hers and pulls me to my feet. Slowly, deliberately, she drags me out onto the floor where everyone on four levels can see me, and with the microphone in one hand she holds me close with the other as she continues to sing.
"Oh please, say to me you'll let me be your man. And please, say to me you'll let me hold your hand."
I can't really comprehend this, is she asking me out? Is she asking me with a song in front of a lot of people to go out with her? I can feel the flush that has been somewhat omnipresent all night long reach up to my cheeks and my nerves are screaming at me to run for the hills, but I stay. I stay where I am, swaying slightly with Katniss as she leads me in a slow dance to the song her voice is still pouring out, enjoying the warmth of her body pressed against mine in a way that I didn't know I could. It feels so amazingly fulfilling to be this close to another human being, and I have deprived myself of this because in general I am uncomfortable around them.
With Katniss though something is different, and I get the feeling that I will be spending a lot of time figuring out what that something is and why it matters so much. For now, I relish in the closeness that I am allowing for the first time in my life. I get lost in the sound of her voice, the scent of her invading my senses and filling them with dust, pine, and wax, and absorb the feel of her body wrapped around mine. Her height is just about even with mine though she is an inch or so shorter, making her around five foot eight. In my boots, that puts her at the perfect height for my arms to rest comfortably on her shoulders, a fact I take advantage of. So lost in these sensations am I that I miss most of the song until she slows down on the last few lines, tightening her arm as she croons them.
"Yeah, you've got that something I think you'll understand. When I feel that something, I wanna hold your hand...I wanna hold your hand...I wanna hold your hand...I wanna hold your hand."
I am no longer consciously controlling my mouth or my thoughts, and my tongue lets them tumble out into the open. Unfortunately for me, that means right into the microphone that is mere inches from my lips as I whisper, "Okay."
One word, one tiny, insignificant word, and my entire world is turned upside down while I'm being held by a girl whom I've just recently become aware of as she sings me a song. I don't know what is happening, what I am feeling, or how to deal with any of this, but I do know one thing.
Katniss is lovely when she smiles for real.
A/N: So, almost six months to the day from when I posted chapter one, here is chapter two. I know that there were a few that had faith, and for that I thank you.
I must admit, I've spent the last half year delving into stranger and stranger fanships, not to mention all kinds of different fics. So for all of those out there writing the stories I've been reading, thanks.
Now, I must plug some writers! Coz y'see, these people have given me things to read that are better than my petty scribbles.
FIRST, we have Johanna's Motivational Insults, responsible for many great stories but currently writing Loyalty, an AU Joniss fic for those who want a taste of the forbidden love between a Peacekeeper and a civilian.
SECOND, we have Silently Watches with a Harry Potter fic(series) that is to kill for. I'd say die for, but his protagonist might take it literally and steal a few of you. At the moment, he is writing Coronation of the Black Queen, third installment of his saga and well worth the read.
THIRD, and last, we have Quartermass. Also going with Harry Potter, though throwing in some crossovers here and there. Just recently he started In Spite of Appearances, the sequel to his fic In Spite of Obstinate Men. For anyone who is a mystery buff, those are both titles taken from quotes attributed to Hercule Poirot, one of Agatha Christie's more enduring characters. These stories ought to appeal to some of you.
Now, if I'm honest here, I have very little control over where this story will go or what will happen. I'm sure a few of you know that we are often subject to our muse in some capacity, however in my case that is the only way I can write and so I often have a bare outline of where I'd like to go, and my muse decides whether to pay attention to that or drag me in the total opposite direction. We'll see what happens here!
Songs in this chapter were "Shatter Me" by Lindsey Stirling feat. Lzzy Hale and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles(obviously).