Thirteenth Floor Guys

A/N Hello, all. This story is a combination of two of my older stories, and I'd like to see what everyone thinks. The prologue and the first chapter are slightly disjointed time-wise… The prologue starts in 1996, then jumps to September 2006, the very beginning of the characters' junior year of college. The first chapter starts in December 2006, near finals week, but is flashing back to an event in September. The second chapter will actually pick up in December. Slightly confusing, 'eh? Well, just to add a little more consternation to the mix, the prologue is in third person, but the rest of the story is told from the first person point of view of the two main characters. They both live on the penthouse floor of a hotel that their parents own, the Belfleur. Hence all the references to the thirteenth floor. ;

The characters are based off of real friends of mine, real places I know, and an actual problem that I seem to have, but otherwise all people, places and events are completely fictitious.

Otherwise, enjoy.

--The Incredible Flying Wolf

Prologue: Ten years ago

Four Star Magazine

Issue 881

May-June 1996

After spending just one night in the newly-renovated Belfleur Hotel, this picky reporter only has one thing to say: the Belfleur has not only met our rigorous criteria, it has surpassed them in every way imaginable. Just seven years ago, this precious gem was marked as condemned, one of numerous run-down old hotels in the city district. But under the watchful eyes of Miranda Fairchild and Brendan Keyes, the hotel blossomed into the four-star marvel you see today. May 5th marked its fifth year of operation, and of course the dreaded review from Four Star magazine.

And like I said before, the Hotel exceeded all expectations. We sent two reporters into the hotel, one announced as our representative, the other undercover. Both received prompt, courteous service; the desk answered all of their questions, the luggage was taken care of immediately, and they were conveyed to their rooms with undue pomp and circumstance. The rooms were tidy, clean, and surprisingly comfortable and spacious. The cuisine in the formal dining room was rated top-notch. Of course, with a culinary team like theirs, who wouldn't expect four-star meals? And the spa... joining forces with Appearance Day Spa was one of the smartest things the owners could have done. Their exposure has improved dramatically, as has their customer base. And the price is almost ridiculously reasonable for such comfort.

All I have to say is that I give the Belfleur top ratings in all categories, and highly recommend it to any and all who can't afford not to have such luxury.

Althea Fairchild sat heavily on the swing, her expression serious as she regarded her best friend of five years. "What's wrong, Fallon?" she prompted, using his first name in a rare show of affection.

The boy pushed at the ground with his foot, staring down at the mulch as if it were the most fascinating thing on the planet. "Thea..." he paused, struggling with the words. "Thea... I think I'm in love," he blurted, his face suffusing with a bright red blush.

Thea lifted an eyebrow, watching her best friend silently. "So? Who is she?"

"Callie Parker," he murmured, still kicking at the mulch beneath his swing.

"That girly-girl?" Thea snorted.

"Yes, her," Fallon replied, blushing even harder. "I like her. A lot. But you know I can't talk to girls."

Thea gaped. Incredulous, she spat, "Newsflash, Keyes! I'm a girl!"

"Yeah, you're a girl, but... But you're not a girl," he explained, finally looking up to meet his best friend's gaze. The look in his dark grey eyes was pleading, begging her to understand the difference.

Thea dropped her eyes to her feet and began to swing. "So, why do you like her?" she asked nonchalantly, effectively changing the subject.

Fallon sighed gratefully, also starting to swing. "Well," he began, "She's got the most incredible eyes..."

Present Day

"And she's got the most incredible eyes."

Thea looked up from her beef lo-mein, rolling her eyes. "Now where have I heard that before?" she drawled sarcastically, setting the white carton down on her desk.

Instead of looking sheepish, Fallon just gave her one of his trademark grins. "Eyes have always been a huge turn-on for me," he replied easily. "You know that."

Thea rolled her own leaf-green eyes. "Yes, yes, how could I forget?"

Fallon laughed in that easy, rolling way of his. "This is gonna be an interesting semester." He flopped back on her bed, his hands clasped behind his head. "Thea, you have to help me."

"What can I do? I don't even know this girl."

"Yeah, but you know how she thinks. That's the best part... You're like a guy with the ultimate insight into the female brain." He clapped her on the shoulder, nearly knocking her off her chair.

This wasn't the first time Thea had heard this particular argument. It had been a while, true; but it wasn't by far the first time. "Thanks. I think."

"Trust me, it's a good thing," he replied cheerfully, pushing himself into a sitting position. "You know how both sides think, so you're already ahead of everyone else I know."

So why the hell won't you date me?? She thought, reaching over to pick up the carton with her lunch in it. The question hovered in the back of her throat, aching to be released... and yet, she could never bring herself to say it, to put those words out into the open where they so clearly belonged.

She finally settled on, "Well, that's good to know."

"So will you help me, then?" he asked, storm-grey eyes once again pleading for her help and understanding.

Her stomach did a couple of flips. She never could resist Fallon when he got like this. His puppy dog eyes were just too much for her. Thea sighed. "I'll do what I can."

That radiant smile graced his mouth for the second time. "You always come through."

"Yup. Dependable Thea." She couldn't help smiling back.

Fallon lifted one jet eyebrow as he swung both legs over the edge of her bed. "Thea, I've known you for over fourteen years now. 'Fess up. What's bugging you?"

"Nothing, seriously," she said, making sure to wipe all traces of discontent from her face. You wouldn't understand, she thought sadly. He just sat there and stared at her, eyebrow still arched, a skeptical twist to his mouth.

Finally she settled on the one explanation she could think of. "Calc is driving me nuts," she finally confessed, pushing that little voice screaming "LIAR!" as far back as she possibly could.

"Calculus," he repeated slowly, clearly not believing it.

"Yup," she replied. Thea stole a quick glance at the clock on her computer. "Speaking of, I have to get to class in half an hour. So that means out for you."

Fallon nodded warily as he stood, still watching his best friend.

"Keyes, I'm fine," she insisted as she tugged at his hand, trying to get him to leave so she could get to class.

"Alright," he conceded, watching her pick up her backpack and toss her calc book in. "I'll let you off for now. But you better tell me what's wrong later."

Thea nodded. "Now, out!"