A/N: I do not own twelth night, ocean's twelve, Hermes, Bullfinch's mythology, Nike, Mars chocolate etc.
A young girl wearing thick spectacles hurtled to the old woman's arms and sobbed uncontrollably. The old woman rubbed her back gently, succeeding slightly in comforting her.
"What's wrong, honey."
"All the people in school don't like me. They say that they don't like playing with me cause I am," she choked a little and wiped the bit of snot that came out onto the old woman's cardigan. "A nerd and I am boring and ugly. But I really really really like reading about all the gods and goddesses and all the cool things!"
The old woman smiled and clutched the girl's face between her wrinkled hands.
"Come, you are beautiful and intelligent. They are just too blind and immature to see that. One day, when you are older, you will find someone who liked you exactly as you are. Cheer up! Granny will tell you a story you have never read about."
The young girl grinned, revealing a gap in her teeth and pushed her spectacles up before settling herself comfortable beside her Granny as the story began…
In the shrouded darkness of the night, a light shower of shimmering gold descended upon the foot of a bed. The mighty figure folded his wings and lifted his bow and golden arrow, sighing to himself.
"He'll never make a move at this rate, maybe making him even more besotted would help."
The arrows sprang from the bow, before dropping short of its target despite the rather short distance. Embarrassed, Cupid looked around for any sneaky gods or goddesses who could have been peeking at him, before picking up the arrow and ramming it into the boy's chest. He stepped back and admired his work. Just as he was about to take leave, the arrow started to change its glow from a sunshine's glow of true love to a darker tinge of bright red. Cupid tried to pull it out of the boy's chest, but it had already taken root and simply disappeared into the boy's chest.
He could only groan and smack his forehead as the boy's body was momentarily enveloped with that same red glow of the arrow. The same red flash that haunts the eyes of a possessive, obsessed and desperate lover
I tried to maneuver my way through the slightly crowded hallways with the thick stack of books acting as a not very effective warning for people to get out of my way before I bulldoze them over with Bullfinch's mythology. When I reached my locker, my best friend, Alisa, was leaning next to it, looking dreamy. Following her line of sight, was the group of jocks joking around and punching each other. For fun?
I placed the books on the floor gently and picking one up, opened it and closed it right before her eyes. She yelped and jumped.
"ALEXIA! What was that for?"
"Hello to you too. Who are you drooling at?"
"Don't you think that Tanner is so handsome and strong and cute and…"
"Okay, thanks. Bottom-line: He's a jock. I'll never date them. What happened to giving our fellow geeks some loving? Huh? Traitor."
I flung open my locker and buried my head into another high stack of books. Fine, you caught me, I am a geek. And, as I reached deep in, twisting my arm round a few thick books, a slightly muffled shriek erupted beside me. This caused me to jump up and smack my head onto the locker top.
I poked my head out at my best friend, Alisa and scowled at her. But at the freaked out expression on her face, my gaze softened and I eased the note in her hands out to take a look.
"Dear Alisa, I live to see your smile everyday. Love, your not so secret admirer." Finishing with reading aloud the declaration, I let out a whoop and nudge her with my elbow, raising my eyebrows at her inquiringly.
"So...I gather you are quite desirable, huh. That poor guy has been trying to ask you out for the past year, give him a chance."
Though she mumbled and rubbed the back of her neck embarrassedly, I could tell that the redness on her face is not due solely to anger or embarrassment…it looked more like a blush.
"You're blushing, and stop frowning, you never know when someone is falling in love with your smile" I said in a sing-song tone. "Oops, he already did."
"No! It's because of…the heat! So are you, you're turning red."
"That's just because I'm trying so hard not to squeal. Got to protect my serious geek image you know."
To end of my statement, I squealed. Hey! Don't give me that grossed out look, it was really too cute for me not to.
"You don't know how jealous I am of you! Isn't it really nice to have a secret admirer or better still, a not so secret admirer? Especially when he writes songs about you... At least you know he is not some poor excuse of an ape who frequently tries to outshoot his buddies in their little snort the straw out competitions."
A little giggle escaped her at the disgusted expression that graced my face upon the mention of that particular family of males. I grinned back at her and bent down to pick up the books. It was an ancient-looking text on Greek mythology.
A pair of Nike shoes walking by gave it a small kick, and before I had time to demand that he retrieved my book and apologize, he disappeared into the crowd. The book flew open, and stopped at the text on Hades and Persephone.
When I opened my locker again the next morning, there was a silvery box resting on my books. There was an ancient looking parchment paper attached to it, with To my dear Alexia written on it. There was nothing else on it. What if it is a bomb? Maybe Alisa is playing a prank on me. Yeah, probably her laughing at me on this very sad day for a girl nominated for "most-likely-to-become-a-seventy-year-old-spinster-with-twenty-cats". Looking on the bright side, at least I know everyone trusted in my health enough to estimate that I would still be alive at seventy.
Opening it, I knew my eyes instantly widened at the beautiful sight of perfect bars of my favorite Mars chocolate, only in mini size. I took one and popped it into my mouth without hesitation.
Wait. What if it has laxatives or sleeping pill power or giggle-non-stop powder or some rapid-fart-solution set to make me embarrass myself? Well, it's too late, might as well enjoy the rest!
I polished off the first two rows and as I was midway through the third, there was a small note pasted on the tray below the chocolate I picked up.
Twelve, you're mine forever.
I stared at it quizzed, trying to decipher the meaning of twelve. Hmm…Ocean's twelve? Twelfth Night? Twelve noon? Then, the memory of the page on Hades and Persephone popped into my head.
Unsure, I started counting the number of blank spaces on the tray now. The one I picked up was the thirteenth. The number of pomegranate seeds Persephone had eaten was the number of months she had to stay in the underworld with Hades. I had effectively eaten twelve.
One for every month of the year.
The chocolates definitely left a queasy feeling in my stomach. Not a physical effect though, more of a psychological one. Besides, it could not have been Alisa pulling a prank, there were too many Greek mythology references in there compared to her usual open-your-locker-and-get-your-hands-stuck style. Eyeing the remaining chocolates warily, I inched away from them. My phone vibrated and I flipped it open without bothering to look at the number.
There was a moment of silence before a deep voice responded.
"Hello, beloved goddess of my heart."
I froze for a moment before smacking my head and staring at the phone in my hand, silently mouthing all the four lettered words in the world.
"Oh my god, I am so sorry, I thought you were one of my friends."
"It's okay, I would love to be your very own Greek god, and preferably Apollo since being handsome is always a plus. Did you know you look really adorable when you smacked your head?"
Er…is he hitting on me? Wait…
"Who are you? And are you spying on me or something?!"
He fell silent, and for a few seconds, there was only the sound of breathing on both ends. I glanced around and decided that perhaps, I really should close the window. I grabbed the edge and started to push it close when he burst out.
"Wait! Don't close the window. Just let me look at you for awhile more. Please."
I stared at the phone again in amazement and was about to haughtily slam the window in his figurative face but his 'please' did it and I felt myself softening.
"What's to stop me from putting down the phone right now?"
He chuckled and I felt a tingling feeling deep down in my stomach. Must be the chocolates, must be the chocolates. "Well, you are a curious person and this naturally intrigues you, and of course, the fact that you've always wanted a secret admirer."
Fine, he got me.
"How did you get my number? Do I know you? And what kind of super duper power binoculars are you using? I can't see any samurai like black shadowy figures on my neighbors' roofs."
I could almost feel his smirk on the other side of the line.
"Can't you be a little more psyched? You know me and you don't. I have my ways, and if I really had my way, you will be mine."
"I AM NOT YOUR POSSESSION."
And he had the audacity to laugh, but I have to admit that it was a nice laugh. The kind that makes you go soft and want to laugh along. Okay, self-control is the key to success, control.
"It's only fair, after all, I am already yours."
Darn, I could not control the smile that spread across my face but kept silent. What could I say to that?
"I love it when you smile. Goodnight, my love."
That reminded me. I eyed the surroundings outside my window warily and closed it tightly.
I flopped down on my seat and cracked open my latest chick lit, careful to take the one with a deceptively normal cover that did not betray its contents. Do you not get those this-girl-is-way-deprived look from people staring at you reading romance novels with the girl's assets half spilling out and the guy draped all over her? I was dying to get to the first kiss before the homeroom teacher comes in. Concentrating on reading in my homeroom is no easy task given the high level of…activity in the various seats nearby and the guffaws of gorilla-like guys and hyena-sounding giggles. But for the sake of true romance, I will try my best.
He leaned in closer to her, staring deeply into her eyes. Her breath stilled, and she felt herself drowning deeper and deeper in his dark blue pools. He held her like she was the most perfect and precious thing in the world, his strong arms wrapped around her, protecting her. They were so close, barely a breath away, and he finally…
"WHAT! You have the latest HERMES shoes?" The shrill pitch of jealousy pierced through the clouds surrounding my little lala-land. I was so close! I guess I will only be able to truly savour that scene somewhere else, got to give it some respect, don't you think? More people were also coming in, I had better hide the book before anyone sees the words "For your love".
I snuck a look around me and carefully placed the book back into my bag. There was a movement beside me, and when I looked up again, an unfamiliar guy sat in the seat next to me. He smiled at me, revealing his retainers, eyes twinkling behind his glasses and he nervously combed his hand through his carefully slicked down hair. His shirt was perfectly crisp and tucked into his pants, ah…my fellow kinsman. He extended his hand towards me.
"Hi! I'm Hebel," his voice was nice, just a little squeaky.
"I'm Alexia, cool name you have, so…are you a rebel?"
He laughed. "That's actually kind of the opposite, my name means herdsman in Hebrew."
"Well…I guess you're jobless now."
"Nope, I have a new job now."
I quirked an eyebrow up at him inquiringly and he continued.
"To know you better."
I felt that uncontrollable flush to my face when I am embarrassed. The kind that everyone notices and the kind where annoying people ask if you have a heat stroke. He looked at me concernedly and noting my silence, he asked hesitantly.
He had the dejected hurt puppy look perfected and I could not help but agree.
Then, his face broke into a mischievous smile. I have a really bad feeling…
"So, what was the book you were reading?"
Crap. I shook my head at him and subtly tried to pull my bag closer to me. He leaned in closer and nearly had me trapped between the wall and him. Speaking of which, his chest was like a wall in itself and was it the all-nighters I have pulled reading romance novels or are those well-defined abs I see under his shirt. He placed his hand on my table, effectively closing in on me, and his muscles bunched. I really do not think one can get that kind of muscles writing thousand word essays.
The teacher entered, and I breathed a sigh of relief. He bolted right up and walked hurriedly up to the teacher and muttered some things to her before he returned. I managed to calm myself down and sat right at the edge of my desk, away from him. This guy is seriously fast getting himself a space on the list of "creepy people Alexia should avoid".
He settled himself back down beside me and leaned onto his right arm, blatantly staring at me. I could barely focus on anything else, other than the heat of his gaze. I only barely registered the teacher asking if there was anyone absent.
Hebel jerked up and his head turned, as if he was about to answer. His eyes widened, and he quickly resumed his previous position and grinned at me deceptively. Like I was going to eat that.
I stared at him for a long time, and finally, I wrote at the side of his notepad.
What are you doing?
Reading that, a delighted smile lit up his face and when he tried to reply, I pushed away his hand and added to the question.
He did not look at me again.
Hebel disappeared, and Tanner reappeared. He very conveniently appeared at my locker the next day with a gigantic bouquet of daisies. I stopped a few meters away, and was about to turn away when he spotted me. He smiled, straightened and walked determinedly towards me.
"Hey Alexia! Wait! I have something to tell you!"
I started to retrace each step for every one he was taking. The smile on his face slipped into a slight frown and if anything, he looked even more set and determined.
You know, I have always wanted a guy to chase after me. But I had imagined it as a more relaxed and calm frolicking on a nice little green hill with golden sparkles in the air. I slammed into my class and hid behind my teacher, who I am, fortunately, her favourite student. She looked at me confusedly as I planted her in front of me and crouched behind her. Tanner stopped outside my class and narrowed his eyes at my unsuccessful cover. Blame the extra packets of Ruffles. He deliberated for a moment before he nodded respectfully at my teacher and left. But not before he looked at me meaningfully.
"What was that about?"
"Oh! How fun."
"I'm sorry ma'am, but you don't know what you are talking about."
I decided that she was a lost case and took my seat. I should have known better though, that he wouldn't give up so easily. At the end of the lesson, I stuffed everything hurriedly into my bag to make sure that I was the first out of the class. When I took my first step out of the classroom, a deep voice sounded beside me.
I screamed and just narrowly spun out of his reach. His footsteps were close behind me as I crashed out of the hallways and barreled my way out of the school. The only thing available was a tree and I tried to fit myself as best as possible behind it. Tanner emerged from the door just as I got behind and released a frustrated roar when he could not see me. He smashed his fist against the wall, groaning and then moaning again when his fists hurt. I tried to cover my face with a big leaf as I peeked out. He slid along the wall and slumped himself against it.
If I had been close enough, I would have heard him muttering bitterly repeatedly.
"Why doesn't she like me?"
The next few days, however, he left me alone. Late after school on a Friday, I found a cushion shaped like a sun in my locker. It had a little note attached to it.
I'm sorry if I scared you. But you're my sun, and I'll always be the sunflower looking to you for the light to survive.
It was sweet, simple, and I felt myself unconsciously smiling. There were light footsteps behind me, and when I turned around, he was holding a sunflower in his hand. I did not miss the hopeful glimmer in his eyes and he held out the sunflower to me.
"Will you accept this sunflower?"
I pretended to frown at the sunflower and never made a move to take it. His eyes became downcast and his hand slowly fell to his side.
"Okay, I get it. I won't bother you again."
He bit his lips and was about to leave when I closed the steps between us and hugged him tightly. He froze for a moment, before pulling me tightly against him. I did not have to look at him to know that he was smiling like there was no tomorrow.
"You don't know how long I've been waiting to do this."
"After all the things you did, you only want to hug me?"
He chuckled and groaned into my hair.
"You do not want to know what I want…"
"Okay…keep it PG."
"For now I'll just settle for this."
And then his lips landed gently against mine, and I never got to reply.
"Wow…that was so romantic! That guy is so cool! I wanna be the girl!"
"You'll just have to wait patiently for your prince charming to come. Now, go and wash off those tears."
The girl scrambled off the chair and happily skipped off. An old man entered the room, and laughed when the little girl nearly crashed into him.
"Why do you look so happy, my child?"
"Nah uh, it's only for girls to know."
The old man looked inquiringly at the old woman, who only shook her head and smiled at him innocently. He shook his head resignedly and sat down beside the old woman, placing an arm around her shoulders and drawing her closer.
There was a light flutter of wings and soft bell-like laughter faded into the background.
A/N: myths used are Hades and Persephone, Cupid and Psyche, Hermes and Penelope (Arkadian version), Apollo and Daphne and Clytie and Helios (in order of appearance). Thanks to all who have voted.