She had enjoyed watching the storm rage on from inside the comfort of her apartment. Ever since she was little, she had loved watching the dark sky when it was illuminated by lighting. It was like watching nature let off its own fireworks. She loved the thunder and the way she felt, more than heard, it rolling over the land. It was almost more physical than the lighting was. Her boyfriend Brian always said that he couldn't understand why she adored weather like this so much. She always said that she couldn't understand how he didn't.
But then the power went out, and suddenly she wasn't enjoying the storm as much.
That was that part she didn't like about storms: their potential to snuff her lights out. It wasn't as if she was afraid of the dark, because she wasn't, she just didn't like not having a choice about being in it or not. That was when she started disliking it.
And what was worse was now she had to remember where she had put the flashlights, the candles and the lighters. She let out an aggravated sigh and stood up. It was times like these that she almost wished she was a smoker. At least that way she would have a lighter handy at all times.
She side-stepped a table and ended up stumbling into a wall. Stupid power-outages. Always making her forget how she arranged her furniture. Wasn't this building supposed to have a backup generator?
Putting her arms out in front of herself and blinking furiously in the futile hope that she would see some kind of light to follow, she stumbled her way into the kitchen, where she was fairly sure she had last put her emergency supplies. She leaned against the counter and rubbed her eye with the heel of her palm, trying to remember. It had been a while since there had been a power-outage. Too long. If she wasn't so wary of what she'd find if she just opened up drawers and cabinets at random trying to find them she would do it.
As it was she was now wondering if her cell phone still worked or if it had gone dead and needed to be charged. If it wasn't dead, she'd call Brian and ask if he remembered or could lend her some of his. He only lived two floors down, so it wouldn't be any trouble.
Thus, she abandoned the idea of finding the flashlights and candles and set off in search of her cell phone. Several minutes later, she found it and just as she finished dialing Brian's number the phone went dead.
"Uh!" she said indignantly. "That's not fair!" She trailed off with a small whine and sighed dejectedly, tossing the gadget carelessly onto her bed. She thought she heard it tumble off and onto the floor, but that was also when lightning flashed and thunder rolled, so she couldn't be sure. She supposed she'd find out either when someone tripped on it or the storm ended and power came back. "Fine. I'll just go over there."
In actuality, she didn't mind the fact that her cell phone had just gone dead, she just thought that it was sort of ironic that the moment she decided to call someone it decided to go dead. In a way, she took that personally, but in another, she didn't care. She was going to have to see Brian anyway, so it didn't matter in the long run.
Just as she was going to open the front door she heard a knock and, startled, opened it and got a face full of flashlight. She shut her eyes and staggered back, holding the door for balance.
"Oh, sorry," Brian said, hastily lowering the beam. She dared to open her eyes again and blinked rapidly.
"Are you trying to blind me or something?" she demanded. Lightning flashed in the background, but she took no notice of it.
"I said I was sorry. I didn't realize it would be shining in your face until too late," he said, the last part of his sentence just barely audible over a clap of thunder.
She sighed and stepped aside to let him in, saying, "Oh, whatever. I was just leaving to go and see you anyway."
"Really?" he said. "Aw, gee, I'm honored that you would come to me in your moment of need. I never knew you were afraid of the dark, but that's okay, I'll be there to comfort you anyway, baby!"
"What?" she said blankly. Then it clicked and she swatted his arm. "I am not afraid of the dark!"
"Course you're not," he said breezily. "Say, you wouldn't happen to have any candles to spare, would you? I thought I had some, but they either got used up or taken or misplaced or… I dunno. But I apparently don't have any."
"Actually," she said. "I was going to ask you for some. I can't remember where I put any of my stuff." Lightning flashed again and, seconds later, thunder rolled once. If she had more faith in her night-vision, she could have sworn that it had made Brian jump.
"Oh, so you wanted to get candles from me so there would be a nice atmosphere and create a romantic date out of a disaster?" he gushed, squealing like a little girl. "Just for me? That's one of the sweetest things I've ever heard!" He went over and threw his arms around her, shoulders shaking in what she suspected to be suppressed laughter.
She shoved him off and took a moment to stare at him. "You're on something, Brian. I just wanted to be able to see again," she said flatly.
Swinging his flashlight around, she caught a glimpse of an innocent grin. "But I thought that was why you got glasses," he said innocently.
"For the record, those are reading glasses, not glasses glasses," she insisted. "And you know what I mean!"
They had had this conversation before, and having to use reading glasses was a bit of a sore spot for her. She hated wearing them. It just didn't suit her facial structure. At all.
Frowning, she swatted his arm again, just for good measure.
"Yeah yeah," he said, absently rubbing his bicep. "But what I'm wondering is why you didn't try to look for it first?"
"Well, I'm pretty sure they're in the kitchen, and I didn't wanna search the kitchen without a light of sorts…" She trailed off, knowing he would get it.
"Oh. Good point," he said, nodding understandingly. "Well c'mon, let's hop to it. I'll be a good boy and flash where you want me to, and you can do all the dirty work."
Gesturing for her to follow with the flashlight, he went over to the kitchen, but she didn't move. For several seconds, she just stood there, a disgusted look on her face. "Ew, Brian," she said. "Just… ew." She shook her head, trying to dispel the mental images.
He turned around, pouting slightly. "What? You don't like me like that?"
"I never said that. What I meant was that you're sick," she said, finally brushing past him and going into the kitchen and stopping in front of the first set of drawers.
"Aw, but you know you love it," Brian quipped, nudging her arm.
"Just shut up and shine the light on that drawer," she said, pointing to it.
He obliged. "Flashing…"
She ignored him and opened it, promptly discovering that they had gotten incredibly lucky. The candles, the flashlights, the lighters—they were all there. She clicked on one of the flashlights and put it on the counter, then grabbed a few of the candles and a lighter and without looking up, thrust them in Brian's direction.
"Light these and spread them around, would you?"
Brian walked off, grumbling something about being doped and taken advantage of and nobody believing him about it. When he mumbled something about his virginity being in danger she couldn't resist calling over her shoulder, "Virginity? You lost that a long time ago."
Putting the candles down on a side table with a few clinks of glass against glass, he laughed. "You wouldn't know, would you?"
"No, I wouldn't," she agreed. "But—"
She felt his arms snake around her waist from behind and tug her up. His mouth pressed into the crook of her neck. "Would you like to?" he asked, causing her to squirm and suppress an odd little giggle. Stupid oaf! He knew she was ticklish there!
Then she felt him sniff. "Ooh, you smell good—what did you put on today?" he asked, pulling away just enough to talk clearly.
"No, I really wouldn't," she said, pretending she hadn't heard that last comment. She twisted and pushed him away in favor of going back to lighting candles. An indignant silence followed.
"I know what you're doing," Brian said. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him point at her accusingly. "You're just saying that to give me a false sense of security! Then you're gonna seduce me and use that line as an excuse later on!"
She almost didn't want to see the expression on his face right now. "Brian, what are you on, anyway?" she asked, but he didn't hear, as he was still barreling on.
"Well I have news for you, lady: I'm smarter than that. I won't fall for it. You hear? Not falling for it!" He stuffed his fingers into his ears and went back to the candles on the side table. "La la la—this is me not falling for it—la la la!"
"Are you getting anywhere with lighting those candles, Mr. Un-seducible?" she asked, used to him going on rants like this. He wasn't, as far as she could tell, but she was willing to accept that it may just be because of the angle she was at.
When she got nothing but a series of la la la's in response, she tried again, "Brian?"
"You thought it would be easy to seduce me, didn't you?" he continued, seemingly not having heard her. "Huh? That's what you were thinking, wasn't it?"
"Oh yeah, Brian," she drawled. "That's all I do in my spare time: plot ways to seduce you. Because you're just that hard to get."
"That's right," he said. "I'm not easy. I'm hard. You hear me? Har—" He suddenly cut himself off and make a childish "Eww… That sounded so wrong."
She snorted and rolled her eyes fondly. Brian was so weird. She knew he wasn't, but sometimes it was almost as if he really was on something.
Lighting flashed, and almost instantly afterwards, thunder rumbled, so deep and close that she felt the floor tremble beneath her. Brian must have jumped three feet into the air.
"Holy crap!" he yelped.
"What?" she said mockingly. "Is Big Bad Brian afraid of a little thunder?"
"Oh, shut up," he said. "Don't tell me you didn't feel the floor shake—that wasn't just any old clap of thunder. That was freaking close!"
"Brian—what are you talking about?" she said seriously. Of course, she really did know; she just wanted to mess with his head.
"Waddaya mean what?" he exclaimed, and she could see him waving his arms. "You felt it, didn't you? You felt the floor shaking?"
She shook her head slowly. "No, I didn't."
"What?" he sputtered, freaked out and disbelieving. "How could you not feel it?! It was like a freaking earthquake!" Spread his arms out wide, as if to gesture to something much bigger than he was.
She giggled in amazement at his gullibility. "I'm kidding, Brian," she said. "Kidding."
Brian was quiet for a beat as that information hit him. "Oh…" Then he became huffy. "Don't scare me like that! I thought you were serious!"
She smiled a little and tuned him out as she lit and spread out the rest of her candles. Brian ignored this and continued to rant about how she was a sadistic, conniving wench that only wanted to make him freak out so she could pretend to comfort him and get into his pants etc, etc. Every now and then he would say something particularly ridiculous or strange and she would laugh, but for the most part she was quiet and let him get it all off his chest.
The constant sounds of the storm going on outside and what little she could see of it through the window entertained her when he didn't. It wasn't funny, but fascinating in a way that took her back to her childhood, where she would sit out on the front porch with her family—wrapped in either quilts or thin throw-blankets, depending on the season—and watch and imagine she knew exactly what was going on up there in the sky.
Her most frequent assumption was that there was a war going on that Earthlings didn't know about, and this storm was only happening because things were getting nasty up there. Whatever it was up there—gods, goblins, stars, fairies, she had never been able to stay with just one species—wasn't fighting fair, and someone else was crying and fighting in a rage so mighty thunder and lightning were the only ways it could be expressed.
She supposed that was why she was so unafraid of things like this now, because of that childhood fascination she'd always had with the weather that went beyond the war theory. Sun had meant that it would be a good day. Rain would forecast a bad day. Wind either meant that it was time to let something go or to pick something new up. Storms like monsoons were ambiguous, because it was both rain and light and noise, so she had simply labeled them as predictions for an interesting day. She had thought the weather reflected her mood and everybody's mood around the world. If the weather was different someplace else, then that was because enough people were feeling that way to change it.
She had stopped believing in things like that by now, but the naïveté of it all—the simplicity of her understanding of the world—always made her want to smile.
Eventually Brian ran out of things to go on about. She was already sitting on her couch, alternating between reminiscing, watching the storm outside the window, and amusedly observing him pace and flail his arms about. When he paused enough to realize that he went and joined her, and that was the end of her contemplation of all other things besides him.
"Got tired of ranting, huh?" she asked with a small, fond smile as he pulled her to him so that she rested snugly against his chest. She tilted her head to the side to get a better look at his face as she waited for a reaction.
"'S no fun when all you're doing is talkin' to yourself," he grumbled. She didn't need him to be pouting to tell that he wasn't really mad.
"Well, I'm really sorry about that," she said, leaning up and giving him a quick, lingering kiss on the mouth.
She noticed the flash of light and the now-distance roll of thunder, but he didn't seem to.
Brian frowned and his eyes narrowed in mock-suspicion. "No, I don't think you are. Don't you even realize how much emotional damage you've caused?" he said pointedly. "We're talkin' years and years of therapy, lady. I need people to pay attention to me, and all you do is spazz! How'm I supposed to react? Just assume that you care, even though you obviously don't otherwise you would be giving me the time of day—"
"Brian?" she interrupted.
"Yeah, baby?" he asked, immediately abandoning his rant and giving her his undivided attention with a charming smile that made her want to melt right then and there.
"Would you shut up if I kissed you again?"
Brian let a moment pass before jutting his jaw out and frowning. She could tell that this was only an act, as well. It was made especially obvious by the way the corners of his mouth kept twitching upwards one him, as if he were only just restraining the urge to smile.
But then he took a slightly shaky breath and said in an overly dramatic, hurt voice, "Oh, so we can talk about your needs, but as soon as I start to open up about mine it's suddenly a great time to shut me up by kissing me? I don't think that—"
She cut him off again by doing just that. If nobody interrupted him, Brian could rant forever about nothing. She preferred to think of it as a special, endearing talent, but most people either thought he was annoying or hilarious. Depending on the day, she might agree with that, but on the whole she didn't really care if he ranted—she liked to think she wouldn't have liked him near as much if she did—but right now kissing him just seemed like a much better option than listening to him.
Typically Brian's rants had hidden, somewhat-relevant meanings, and she was beginning to decipher which type meant what without his or anyone else's assistance. In this case, I can't believe you want to kiss me and stop me from talking about my needs really meant yes, I would like you to kiss me.
But for a second she thought that she had read it wrong because Brian wasn't doing anything. Then she felt him smile against her, and as he kissed her back her doubts were swiftly washed away. She supposed she'd met people who had more talent, but there was something earnest and heartfelt about the way Brian kissed her, as if he were seeking her approval. She liked being able to give it, the way he really seemed to think it meant something no matter how many times he got it. She liked thinking that she meant that much.
Similarly, she liked that he seemed to think she deserved it. He was always encouraging her to think positively about herself, and while she couldn't claim to having the worst self-image in the world, she couldn't deny that she'd been noticing improvements in her own behavior since she'd started dating Brian. She thought more highly of herself, she was more confident, less likely to criticize herself when she saw prettier women, less temperamental and more apt to make light of situations that would have formerly left her feeling resentful, tongue-tied and embarrassed. Because he was there, her outlook on life was that much brighter.
She thought there was more lightning and thunder in the background than what was becoming usual, but she honestly wasn't sure. It wasn't like those sorts of things bothered her anyway.
She liked what Brian was doing to her—the way he made her feel, the positive changes he was encouraging her to make, the way he seemed to always bring out the best in her—everything. She liked it a lot. Whether she was in love with him or not was debatable, but she couldn't see herself ever being unhappy with him, and she figured that that was monumentally better than being in love and miserable.
When he broke the kiss Brian was grinning. "I thought you said that this wasn't supposed to be romantic," he muttered in a somewhat husky, teasing voice.
She smacked his leg half-heartedly, but couldn't resist mimicking his expression as she retorted, "And I thought you were supposed to be un-seducible, but that was all wrong, too. Hard, remember?" Her grin morphed into a smirk and she debated whether or not winking would be appropriate before deciding not. It was a little too out there.
Brian seemed a little surprised that she would bring that up, but quickly smothered the expression with a grim frown. "What're you talkin' about? I am un-seducible," he said, puffing his chest out and setting his jaw as if this were something to be proud of. "I'm just stringing you along right now. Obviously, you're none the wiser." He paused and seemed to consider something, then added with a sniff and an upturned nose, "And you're right there. You would know if I was hard or not."
She laughed, knowing it was pointless to argue with him about it. "Yeah. Right."
And she kissed him again, something he greeted with enthusiasm enough to rival the last one. As she faintly registered more thunder rumbling in the background, she wasn't sure where all of this would go. She doubted it would be sex—they had both agreed that their relationship was far too new for that—but that didn't mean other things couldn't happen. Right now, she couldn't say she'd be complaining if they did.
And if the way he'd just moved her was any indication, she wasn't so sure he wasn't trying to protect his un-seducible image.
This time when they pulled away Brian was panting slightly, but his eyes were sparkling with mischief and humor. "Hm, you're sure eager," he mused in a mutter. "Is it because you're scared of the weather or because you're trying to get into my pants?"
And just like that, anything they might have been building up to collapsed. She groaned and thudded her head against his shoulder a couple of times while he cackled at her. "Brian, that totally killed the moment, here," she said exasperatedly.
He merely hugged her and continued sniggering. "There'll be other moments," he assured her. "I just wish you could've seen your face! It was totally worth killing the mood. Man, I wish I had caught that on candid camera or something!"
Try as she might, she couldn't stop herself from rolling her eyes and smiling along with him. She probably had looked pretty funny.
Well, that and it felt too good to be held like this for her to really complain, even if he was now mumbling something about how hard he found it hard to believe that she actually liked this kind of weather.