a/n: nice and fluffy and funny. enjoy :) the line of song lyrics are mine, so no-touchy lol. review to make me feel special ;)
lyrics to happiness
"And I called you up, to listen to your voice, but no one was home. So I kept on ringing, just to get the machine, and hear you say hello."
I first met him when we both reached for the same CD.
Our fingers brushed and we froze. He had been a tall, scruffy looking guy with curious brown eyes and I'd been the girl wearing torn jeans and a scowl. Without thinking, I'd snatched at the CD, grabbing it before he could even blink. I'd grinned in savage triumph. His eyebrows had shot up, and without moving his gaze from mine, he had taken another copy from the shelf. He showed it to me, half smiled, and turned towards the registers.
To get back at him for embarrassing me -- whether he had done it on accident or what, I didn't care -- I shot past him to get to the front of the line. While the operator took my purchase and put it in a bag, I couldn't help looking back to gloat. But the boy merely gave me another grin, wider this time, and went to the line beside my own, where he was served immediately.
With cheeks burning in humiliation and anger twisting in my stomach, I shoved money at the clerk, thrust my jaw out and turned on my heel. My exit would have been more impressive if I hadn't have knocked over a display shelf of New Releases.
But I didn't stop to pick them up, my pride wouldn't allow it, so I walked as fast as I could without appearing to be escaping.
I don't think I convinced anyone, though.
I was sitting at the bus stop, waiting, when I saw him again. I'd been listening to my iPod -- to the CD I had purchased that day in the music store -- when someone sat next to me. Close. So close I could smell the laundry soap used to clean his clothes. So close his leg touched mine. So close it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I had tensed immediately and slid away from him, glaring at his knees which bobbed up and down and his torn, pen-scribbled sneakers.
For some reason, the person put his hand in the space between us and shifted himself closer, letting his hand slide along my leg as he lifted it and placed it on his leg. Scowling heavily and cursing idiotic fools who thought 'personal space' was a place to get personal, I lifted my eyes and prepared myself to bite of this guys head. But I froze upon seeing the laughing brown eyes and shaggy caramel hair that curled across his brow and down his neck. He gave me a wide, crooked grin, and said something.
Music was blasting in my ears, so I didn't hear him, not that I wanted to. I just glared at him and made sure he watched as I stood and moved to the other end of the bench, sitting down. Thankfully, he didn't follow, and when the bus pulled up, I hurried on, flashing the driver my Pass. I went to the back and sat down in a space seat, drawing my knees up and tucking my feet beneath me. I stared out the window, lost in my own little world as the bus pulled away and started down the road.
But my peace was destroyed when someone pulled the earphone out of my ear and said, "Number four is my favourite." I jerked my head around, almost knocking heads with the Music Shop guy. He managed to move back in time, chuckling. "You almost got me then," he laughed.
"Wish I did," I muttered. I tugged on the cord of my earphone, but he refused to let go. He started swinging it around his thumb, in slow circles. "Did you mind?" I snapped.
"Not really," he said, smiling. "Which is your favourite?"
"What?" I said, confused.
He nodded to me. "The CD. What song is your favourite?"
"Why should you care?"
"Just curious," he said truthfully. "Number four's mine. I think it's called...Lyrics to Happiness."
It was my favourite, too. But I wasn't going to tell him that. Instead I ripped the earphone from his hand and gave a hanughty sniff. "I don't even like the CD very much." I turned around, thinking it was the end of the whole thing. But just as I was getting comfortable again there was a tap on my shoulder. I tried to ignore it, but when it continued, like an over-eager little kid, I half-turned in my seat and demanded, "What do you want?!"
He was grinning widely, a dimple pushed up in a single cheek. He said, "For someone who doesn't like the album very much, you sure seem intent on listening to it."
"How do you know I'm still listening to it?" I asked, eyes flashing furiously.
"Easy," he said. "I can hear it... 'And I called you up, to listen to your voice, but no one was home. So I kept on ringing, just to get the machine, and hear you say 'hello'," he sang along to the song I was listening to, and I hated to admit it, but he had a damn good voice.
Not that I'd ever tell him. So I just rolled my eyes and said a very impresive, "Whatever."
I turned back around, putting my earphones back in. He didn't interrupt me again, but in my mind, I couldn't help hearing him singing over the voice of the musician on the song, as if it was his song and he was the only one that could sing it.
Determinedly, I changed the song, and tried to think of it as something other than defeat.
I was working at the supermarket when he appeared again. Laughing loudly at something Monica, my friend, had said, I said, not even looking at the next customer as I spoke, "Hi, how are you today?"
"Very good now, thanks," he said smoothly, and I'd whipped around to face the Music Store guy.
I frowned heavily. "What are you doing here?" I asked dumbly.
He raised his eyebrows and showed me the toothpaste he was buying. "Got to keep up oral health, right?" His eyes strayed to my chest and I started to feel affronted before I realised what he was doing. I tried to hide my name-badge but it was too late. His eyes were crinkled as he said, "Right, Annabelle?"
I scowled. "Whatever. That's $2.95."
He took his sweet time getting his wallet out and opening it to the middle. The flap fell open, showing me his licence and I couldn't help reading it, like looking at a car wreck. I didn't want to read his name, but I couldn't help it! Because of the angle his wallet was at, I had to tilt my head to read his name, but before I could, he snapped it shut. I glared up at him, only to receive a bright smile in return. "It's James."
"My name." He smiled and held out his hand, a five dollar note sitting in his palm. "My name's James."
"Like I care," I snapped, grabbing for the money. But his hand was quicker and it curled around mine, his fingers long and tanned. He held my hand and shook it in his.
"Nice to meet you, Annabelle," he murmured softly.
"Let go," I demanded, trying to pull my hand away.
"Easy," he chuckled. "You'll get your money."
"I don't want the money," I growled. "I want you to let go of my bloody hand!"
"Alright then." He let go and I stumbled back, not anticipating him to acquiesce so quickly. I hurried to get his change and slam the cash drawer closed. I held the change out, waiting for him to take it. But he spent a long moment pretending to struggle to get his wallet back out -- why'd he even put it back in the first place? I thought furiously -- and finally he held out his hand.
"Here's your change," I said.
"I know." Still he waited for me to put the money in his hand, as if I was his servant or something. I kept my hand out, his change in my palm, waiting for him to take the money from me. He just grinned infuriatingly, somehow knowing how much he was annoying me.
"Take it," I said through gritted teeth.
"Give it to me," he replied.
"Take the fucking money," I hissed.
"Fucking make me," he said cheekily.
"Hurry up!" snapped the next customer in line. "Stop flirting with him and give him the money!"
I flushed hotly and glared as I dumped the money in his hand. I looked away, angry and embarrassed, waiting for the next customer to come. James laughed and said, "Thanks, Belle."
I spluttered and whipped my head around, prepared to tell him just what I thought about him calling me 'Belle', but he was already walking away, shopping bag swinging by his hand. Still red-faced and buzzing with my rage, I turned back to my current customer and said automatically: "Hi, how are you today?"
"Good if you don't flirt with me, too."
I clenched my fists and teeth, and silently cursed. Out loud I said with a sacharine sweet smile, "That can be guaranteed, sir."
At home that night, I sat in my room, listening to my CD. Number four came on, Lyrics to Happiness, and I immediately skipped over it. Even though it was the best song on the entire album, I couldn't listen to it knowing that it was James's favourite song, too. That boy was just infuriating and annoying. I didn't know what his problem was, whether me or just society in general. Did it please him to know how frustrating he was? Or how angry he made me? Did he just do it to get a reaction from me?
"Idiot," I muttered, scowling at the wall. When the phone rang, I was still angry when I picked up the receiver, so I snapped, "What do you want?" into the mouth piece.
There was a buzz of silence, before, "What crawled up your ass and died?"
"His name starts with a 'J' and ends in 'S'," I spat.
Another pause and Monica said curiously, "Jesus?"
"What? No! James," I practically shouted.
"The CD guy? The Music Store idiot? The Annoying, Infuriating Ass."
"Oh, A.I.A! James. What about him?" chirped Monica.
"Nothing, apart from him being alive," I muttered.
"Harsh, Anna," she said. "He's cute, though."
I scowled harder at my wall, wishing it would spontaneously burst into flames. Of course Monica was right. James was cute, but his asshole attitude made him majorly unattractive. "So what if he is? He's a Grade-A ass-wipe."
"Actually," murmured Monica. "He's not really. You just don't like him because he keeps making you feel stupid. I think he likes you, personally."
"I think you're dumb, personally," I mimicked immaturely.
"Oh, stop with the theatrics, AB, you know I'm right about this."
"About what? That he likes me? Pfft. As if."
"Why wouldn't he?" replied Monica, and her voice turned dreamy. "Golden, blonde hair that curls down your back. Those big, brown eyes that are like liquid chocolate. And that body, oh--"
"OK. Stop. I'm getting freaked out now."
Monica's loud, throaty laugh filled the line. "Was I good? Did I sound all in-love and stuff?"
"No," I said. "You sounded all lesbian and stuff."
"Aww, Belle, you know I'd bat for the other team just for you."
"Yeah, I know, that's why I'm ending this conversation. Right. Now."
I took the phone away from my ear and pushed the 'off' button just as I heard a shout of, "Bye-bye Belly!"
I stared at it a long moment, before shaking my head and rolling my eyes. Sometimes I wondered just how I picked my friends.
James appeared the next day on the opposite side of the street to what I was on. When I saw him, I froze. Then I scrambled to a large garbage bin and ducked behind it. I was hiding from him, obviously, because I just didn't want to have to put up with him today. I waited a few minutes, peeking around the sides of the bin. The street was clear but I waited a little longer, just to make sure he still wasn't within seeing distance. When I was positive there was no way he could still see me, I straightened myself up, grinning.
"Whatcha doing, Belle?" chirped James, leaning casually against the garbage bin.
I screeched and threw my hands up in surprise, stepping back. But my foot hit the edge of the footpath and my arms pinwheeled, trying to stop my fall. But it was useless. I was going down, and going down fast. For a fraction of a second, I wondered if James would catch me, like one of those Teen Romance movies, but then I wondered even if I wanted him to catch me.
Before I could decide, I hit the ground. Hard. And the wind was knocked out of me.
I stared up at the sky, dizzy with my crash, and James's head appeared above me. "Are you alright?" he asked softly.
"Just dandy," I muttered, more humiliated then injured. I lied there for a few moments, hoping I would wake up and this would all be a terrible, terrible dream. But I didn't wake up and I groaned with the knowledge that I had just made a gigantic fool of myself again in front of James.
"Here," he said, leaning down. "I'll help you up."
"No, no I'm fine," I said, preparing to sit up. But James had alread grabbed hold of my waist and pulled me up. I went up so fast I was dizzy with the momentum, and I stared in surprise at James's arms. "You're strong," I said stupidly.
He grinned lopsidedly before leaning in close and whispering in my ear. "I'm secretly a superhero. This is just my mask -- the whole 'teen gentlemen' get-up."
I took a half-step away, unnerved by his closeness. His breath had warmed my neck and I said, rather distractedly, "I gather you've been getting your money's worth out of that tooth paste."
His grin was bright and wide. "Why? Can you smell my minty-freshness?"
"Ah." I looked around for an escape. "Sure."
"So..." James rocked back on his heels, sliding his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. "Why were you hiding from me?"
"I wasn't hiding from you!" I was quick to say. At his grinning face and crinkled brown eyes, I knew that he knew that I was lying. I gritted my teeth and said, "I dropped my phone. I was picking it up."
"Oh really?" He raised his eyebrows. "You were picking it up for a whole ten minutes?"
Heat spread across my face and I swallowed repeatedly as I searched for an answer. "No..." I fiddled with my hands. "I also lost my...iPod."
"Like that one currently hanging around your neck?"
I glanced down and found my headphones draped around my neck and my iPod, clearly on display, shoved half- into my front pocket. I blinked and said, "As you can see...I found it."
James gave an unexpected bark of laughter and ducked his head. His wavy caramel hair fell down, obscuring his face. I looked around carefully, wondering if I could make a run for it. But before I could, James looked back up and pointed at me, his face flushed with humour. "I like you," he said lightly.
My eyes widened. "Umm..." I looked around more frantically. "I've...got to go."
"I'm sure you do," he said, grinning. "But so do I. Do you want a ride?"
"No!" I was startled at the suddenness of my own voice. I scratched my head unsurely. "No, I, ah, I'm ... catching the bus!"
His eyes crinkled. "Yeah, at what time?"
"At, ah, umm...at...now!" Luckily for me, a bus had just pulled around the corner, and I held up my hand and waved it frantically towards me. "See! I've got to go--"
"Hey, I wanted to ask you--"
"No time!" I said, leaping to the side of the road. The bus pulled over and I scrambled on. "See you!"
"Bye, Belle," farewelled James laughingly.
As I walked down the aisle searching for a seat, I looked out the window and was surprised to find James waving at me. I frowned but held up a hand as well. He saluted me as the bus turned the corner. I collapsed into a seat and gave a hefty sigh.
I didn't even know where I was going.
It was a few weeks later, almost a month after last seeing James, when I decided on a spur-of-the-moment thing to go to the music store. It was midday, a time when everyone was either at work or school, and the shops were empty.
I walked into the store with the loud thumping music and immediately relaxed. There was such a large selection. Should I go for Pop or Rock or Alternative or even Folk? I wondered to myself as I walked down the aisles, browsing the titles idly, letting my fingers slide over the shelves. Finally I reached the reduced cart and stopped to flick through the titles.
Suddenly the world went dark.
I yelped and flailed, trying to fight off the hands that covered my arms. But they pulled me back, into someone's warm, firm chest, and I fought even harder. "Guess who?" said a warm, unfortunately familiar voice.
I froze briefly then fought harder. "Get off!"
"Relax, Belle, it's me. James." He released me and I spun around to glare at him.
"I know it's you," I said. "Why do you think I was fighting so hard?"
He grinned and laughingly put a hand to his chest. "Oh, how you wound me so."
"Good," I muttered. "What are you doing here? I thought I was finally rid of you."
"Sure, sure." James's eyes crinkled. "You'd be heartbroken if you never saw me again."
"Yeah, heartbroken with happiness."
His smile jerked up. "That didn't even make sense."
"I know," I admitted shortly. "But it's still true."
"...and that didn't make sense either."
"Sure it did. To me."
We stared at each other for a long moment in silence. Finally, I had to laugh. "Yeah, that was stupid."
James laughed, too. "I'm glad you admitted it first."
"Because you started it."
"No, I didn't," I said.
"Yeah, you did," replied James in a sing-song voice.
"Did--" I stopped and rolled my eyes. "This is why I don't like being around you. It makes me stupid."
"I bring out your good side," laughed James.
"What? My stupid side is my good side?"
"Yes," he said, nodding his head and smiling.
"Why?" I asked, confused.
"Because you're cute when you're stupid."
I stared at him in shock and finally said, "I'm not sure if that was meant to be a compliment. Does that mean I'm ugly when I'm smart?"
HIs eyes widened and he held up his hands. "No, no! I just mean you're cuter when you're being stupid!"
"And how often is that?" I said, narrowing my eyes.
"Well." He hestitated, before admitting, "Quite a bit when I'm with you."
I'd already known that. For some reason, I was always a fool when I was around James. And that made me feel surprisingly depressed. "Isn't that just great?" I muttered, looking away.
"But..." James stepped forward, bringing himself between my parted feet. He put a hand on either side of me, bracing himself against the rack of CDs. "...that's why I like you."
I was feeling nervous. And more than a little unnerved. "Um...because I'm stupid?"
"No." He grinned. "Because you're cute when you're stupid."
I frowned. "That was from a movie..."
"No, it wasn't," said James. At my pointed look, he gave a sheepish grin. "OK. It was sort've from a movie. But the movie said they were 'cute when you're angry' which I thought was stupid."
"Because being cute and stupid is such a difference?"
"It is when you're Annabelle."
I rolled my eyes, but couldn't help the smile. "I thought I was 'Belle'?"
"You are when you're stupid," grinned James.
"And why is that?"
"Because Belle is beautiful," he said.
"That...doesn't make sense."
"Sure it does," replied James, smirking. "To me."
James stole a kiss across my nose and grinned when I stared at him in surprise. "It doesn't have to make sense," he said.