This is written for Annoyance's one shot contest.
Here are the rules:
-- Has to be a One Shot
-- Has to be more than 2500 words - no drabbles please!
-- The main pairing must be het (boy/girl)
-- The story must be Ridiculously Happy ( Yes, all entries will be entered into my C2). That means no Angst, Hurt/Comfort. Let's all be happy! Romance, Humor and General are the preferred genres.
-- Add the phrase 'for the Ridiculously Happy OneShots contest' in your summary.
-- All ratings are accepted, but please keep lemons to a minimum.
-- The story must be in the category Fiction -- Romance
-- The story can be in POV of either the boy or the girl
-- Deadline for story submission is MAY 11
-- PM me the url of your finished story so that I don't have to hunt around for it.
--The story must use irony. (For example, the one thing the boy hates about the girl could be what finally causes him to realize his feelings for her. Be creative!!)
--The girl must be significantly shorter than the guy, and he should make at least 3 comments about this. (Ideally around 1 foot of difference in height.)
-- Submission starts on April 20
--Stories will be judged by voting. ( I'll hold a poll on my profile)
--You can submit a maximum of 3 stories.
You'd think that the man would know I was in love with him. I've been very obvious about it for a number of years. And yet, James Lawrence Ashcroft thought of me as nothing more than his incredibly nice and extraordinarily passive best friend.
We'd met through a mutual friend in high school. I'd been at work and the two came to get some dinner. I think she, Brenda, was actually trying to hook up with him. James seemed rather oblivious to the whole situation. We ran into each other a few times a week for a few months because both of us were kind of nerdy and didn't really have anything better to do.
James and I eventually decided that we should hang out without Brenda. We had much more fun. She was so mad that she "broke up" with both of us. She was something of a horrible bitch, really. I spent all of childhood letting her push me around. I've never held any grudges against her, though. I like to pretend that it's because she introduced me to James. However, I know deep down that the real reason is that I'm too nice and passive to do anything about it.
That was years ago. He and I discussed college at great length. Neither of us wanted to stay in Boulder, and both of us wanted to study law. We eventually decided that we'd both go to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. It was a long way from home, but we had each other.
He'd graduated much higher in our class than I had. He always liked to joke with women when we went out to bars about how he was "fucking brilliant." They didn't know that he was telling the truth. He was thirty-two, and one of the best medical defense attorneys in the country. I hadn't done nearly as well. I was working as a prosecutor for the city of Cleveland.
It was James who decided he would go to Cleveland, and it was he who had asked me to follow him. I went, because I loved him. Neither of us were married, and neither of us had any sort of serious relationships. I have always been very grateful that the handsome and incredibly successful man found time for me despite his many flings. I suspected that part of the reason the socialites he seemed to attract never stuck around was me. They never liked the dorky little redhead that followed James around like a lost puppy. They definitely didn't like that he treated me better than he treated them, or that video games were more important to him than they were.
He came over something like every other night. I'm really not sure why; my tiny apartment in Orange was nothing compared to the gorgeous home he'd purchased a few years ago in Hunting Valley. And yet, he was here so often that he'd purchased an Xbox 360 for both of us because moving his back and forth ran too much risk of the red ring of death. It always made me grumble, because I'd much rather play my Wii. He hated it because I could kick his butt at bowling.
We had something of a deal worked out. He'd play Mario Party and watch cheesy chick flicks with me if I played COD4 and made him dinner. I always pretended to be bothered by this, but I secretly loved cooking for him.
When I came home from work on Friday, James was already sitting on my couch playing Mass Effect. It was technically his couch, like most of the things in my place. The plasma TV was his, too. I yawned and waved at him. "Good morning, Sunshine," I muttered as I stepped through the door.
He grunted in response, not looking away from the TV. I sighed, exhausted. I was used to James' non-responses and knew better than to be offended. I plopped down beside him and let out a grunt. "You know, we're getting old." He glanced my way for a moment, letting me know he was listening. "My father always said that it only hurt when he moved, and now I've come to know what he meant." James snorted. "You know, I always planned to be married before I was thirty, and here it is a week away from my thirty-second birthday. I haven't even been on a date in I don't even know how many years."
"You're just bad at meeting people," James supplied.
I bit my lip and cleared my throat. His words stung, especially because they were true. "I know. I wish I wasn't, people always tell me that I'd make a good wife."
He shrugged. "You would. You cater to everyone, regardless of how much you actually like them. You really don't want me to go into this, Naomi."
I sighed again. "Right. Sorry."
He fell silent for a while as his face twisted in concentration. He was fighting Benezia for the second time, and I assumed it was my fault he had lost the first. He shouted out in triumph a few minutes later as the alien fell. "Why are you so concerned about getting married all of a sudden, anyway, Ne?"
I bit my lip. I couldn't tell him that my mother had threatened to disown me unless I started popping out grandbabies soon. I shook my head and stood. "I don't know. I guess it's that we're not getting any younger. I'm going to go make some dinner. What do you want?"
"You're changing the subject, but I can't resist your cooking. It'd better be something yummy!"
I laughed outright. "Pancakes?" I offered. "They're so good that my father claims to this day that they're the reason he married my mother."
"Nah. They are that good, but that's what you're making me for breakfast tomorrow morning." I could hear the smug grin in his voice.
"And what makes you think you're sleeping over?" I shot back.
"I brought a bottle of your favorite. And a whole bunch of movies."
I sighed, defeated. James knew just what to do to get me. "Fine. You're getting broccoli, then." I grinned at my own small victory when I heard the groan come from the living room.
"You are the only person I've ever met who gets excited about broccoli, Naomi! It isn't natural!"
My shoulders trembled with silent laughter as I pulled vegetables out of the refrigerator to put into the stir-fry. I quickly chopped the peppers, onions, broccoli, carrots, green beans, and sugar snap peas. I tossed the large pile into a bowl and set to work cutting the chicken breasts I'd pulled out of the freezer to thaw that morning. When that was done, the chicken went into my wok with a bit of oil and a dash of garlic powder.
I looked around for the white wine I usually keep next to the stove for a few minutes only to find it resting on top of one of the cabinets. I glared at the bottle. "How did you get up there?" I asked it bitterly. "James! Get in here for a sec!" I shouted.
"But I'm playing a game!"
"You should have thought of that before you put my cooking wine on the top shelf, shouldn't you?" I groaned as I stood on my toes in a futile attempt to reach it. "Now stop being childish and come be useful." I could hear his profane protest from where I was standing under the cabinet. "Just pause the game and stop your bitching already!"
"Fine, but you're going to pay for this!" Within moments, James was behind me. He reached far above my head and pulled the offending bottle down. He handed it to me and patted the top of my head gently. "You're lucky that you have a big, strong man like me around to save you in these moments of distress."
I snorted and snatched the bottle from his hands. "Yeah, whatever."
"What, I don't even get a thank you kiss?"
I knew I was blushing. I bit my lip and punched his arm. "Out, sir. Go play your games. Maybe Liara will kiss you." He chuckled and hurried out of the room. I managed to cook the stir-fry without any more embarrassing events.
Before too long, Mass Effect was off and both James and I were stuffing our faces full of rice, vegetables, and chicken. Stuffing is a relative term. Both of us have enough manners to know that it's only polite to eat slowly and chew with your mouth closed. "Very good," he complimented between mouthfuls.
My face lit up. "Thank you," I replied. Praise, especially from James, always made me feel better. "So, what're we watching tonight?"
"Well, I thought first we'd watch Shoot 'Em Up, then Reservoir Dogs. Perhaps after those we can see 28 Weeks Later, Resident Evil 3, and Serenity. And I guess we can fit this trash in there somewhere," he answered while holding up a copy of No Reservations.
I grinned at him and gave a quick side hug. "We'd better. You know how much I love that movie," I nearly squealed. "And how much I hate the scary ones," I added.
He simply laughed and ate another forkful of his dinner. Staring at Shephard standing around doing nothing wasn't exactly the best background for dinner, but I didn't particularly mind. "So, why are you here?" I questioned.
"I felt like it."
"Don't you have a case to be working on? Or a date to be sweeping off her feet? Why'd you come all the way here to play Mass Effect when you've beaten it at your place?"
"Yes, yes, and I figured I'd be hungry later."
I groaned. "If your date comes to kill me because you stood her up, I'm going to sue you."
An evil grin crossed his face for a minute. "You'd never win."
I groaned. "I've had enough of you being mean to me. It's time for drinks and movies," I declared as I picked up our dirty dishes. "I'll get the drinks, you put the movie in."
When I returned from the kitchen with our Bombay and tonics, 28 Weeks Later had just started playing. I sighed and sat with him. He knew I was way too passive to refuse watching whatever it was that he wanted to see. He also knew that I'd do anything he asked with or without the free gin. James just liked to pretend to bribe me even if the outcome wouldn't change.
Though I'll deny it until the day I die, I liked that creepy movies give me a chance to cuddle with my stunning best friend. He'd let me do it regardless of whether we were watching The Lion King or The Exorcist, but having an excuse made me feel better. Scary movies don't exactly terrify me, but they certainly don't entertain me.
Half a bottle of gin later, I didn't care that we were watching another zombie movie. When one has had a terrible day at work, there is no better sensation than the lack of sensation. Memories of work came rushing back and I sighed as I clung closer to the man beside me. I made a mental note to ask him for help writing my case in the morning. I knew I wouldn't remember to remind myself to ask, but trying to do so certainly made me feel better.
By the time Resident Evil ended, I felt as though I'd started to sober up. James popped Serenity into the player. I grinned. I loved the series it went along with and the movie was wonderful, despite being slightly depressing. I felt content to grin and giggle girlishly at the man beside me when he announced what we were watching. Considering that no one sobers in less than an hour after having that much to drink, I fell asleep on poor James. Luckily, I don't snore.
Next thing I knew, I was laying in James' arms and he was whispering my name in my ear. I groggily opened my eyes and blinked up at him a few times, confused. "Hm?" was the only thing I could manage to force out of my mouth.
"It's very late. You fell asleep on me."
I nodded absently. "Oh."
He hugged me more tightly for a moment and grinned down at me. "You were drooling all over me," he whispered.
"I was not," I grumbled seriously at his joke.
He shrugged. "You're always so grumpy when you wake up. Let's go to bed."
I sighed, untangled myself from his arms, and stood. "Okay. I guess you're staying here tonight?" I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and forced a smile at him. I found myself wishing at that moment that he'd find my ridiculous appearance adorable. I couldn't keep my eyes open, I was blushing from the alcohol, my hair was a mess, and my suit wasn't exactly in the best condition. I bit my lip and sighed. I was completely in love with him, and I really wished he could see how wonderful I'd be for him.
He followed me into my bedroom. He claimed my bed was more comfy than the bed he'd purchased for my guest room. I'd stopped being embarrassed by his antics or even protesting. I completely ignored him while I stumbled around in the dark trying to find the tank top I wanted to sleep in. James threw one at me from my dresser on the other side of the room. I put it on after it hit me in the back of the head. "Thanks," I muttered. Far too lazy to find pants, I resolved to sleep in my tank top and underpants. After dressing, I fell into my bed and curled up into the sheets. James was already on the other side of the bed.
I was drunk and he was not. We did not cuddle. I didn't wake up partway through the night to find his muscular arms clinging to me as though I'd disappear if he let go. The alcohol did a number on me and I passed out far before he did. James has never been the romantic type, and especially not with me. We understood each other and were completely comfortable together without the physical contact. That's not to say that I'd have complained if he did want to hold me while I fell asleep slowly. What woman doesn't want an attractive man holding them close and whispering sweet nothings in their ear?
Despite going to bed very late, I woke up at 8 in the morning. Terrible as it was, it seemed to happen to me every time I drank. James was still asleep. After trying fruitlessly for an hour to get a bit more sleep, I resolved that it was time to get up. I was careful to not make much noise as I rolled out of bed and slipped my baggy lounge pants on.
All of my attempted silence was ruined when I had to yawn. I tried to be quiet, but a tiny squeak came out regardless. James insisted that it was cute. Though I didn't agree, I certainly didn't mind the man I was in love with telling me how adorable I was. I stretched, scratched the itch on my stomach, and walked out of the room.
I sighed deeply when I realized that we'd left quite a mess the night before. I pulled the curly mess of my long red-brown hair into a sloppy bun with the elastic band on my wrist. I drank a glass of water before setting to work on the dishes. As much as I didn't like to admit it, I'd grown accustomed to cleaning up after James. He tended to leave a mess everywhere he went. I liked my apartment spotless. The only reason his house was as clean as he kept it was the maid he had hired to come every few days.
I groaned when I realized that I had consumed about half of the gin bottle and put the remainder in the freezer. Realizing that it would be a fair amount of time before James woke, I went to check my email and ended up reading a few random articles on Wikipedia to pass the time. Around 11:30, my stomach decided that it was time for pancakes and bacon.
If James wasn't awake by the time breakfast was done, I'd just wake him up. I'd heard horror stories about what happened to the other women who woke the man up. However, it's incredibly hard to be mad at someone who wakes you up with the most delicious pancakes in the world and bacon. James and I were both firm believers that bacon made everything better.
I'd been so wrapped up in flipping pancakes that I hadn't heard James come in. Needless to say, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I felt his arms snack around my waist and pull me back against his chest. I was frozen in place until he whispered into my ear, "Don't let them burn." I nodded dumbly and placed the pancakes on a plate for him. I was confused when he didn't take the plat full of bacon and pancakes, but I set it on the counter anyway. "You smell good," he said finally. His breath was tickling my ear. I shivered.
"Thanks?" I questioned weakly.
His chest reverberated with chuckle at me. My arms were covered in goose bumps. I bit my lip. If he hadn't known before that I was crazy for him, I was sure he did after this. James seemed to be enjoying this much more than I was. He nibbled on my ear gently and chuckled again when I let out a strangled squeak.
"Aren't you hungry?" I asked.
"No," he said after a minute.
"I am," I said quickly. I couldn't be more desperate to get away from such an embarrassing situation. He was driving me crazy, and he knew it.
"Too bad," he responded easily. His arms tightened around my waist. I sighed. I hoped it showed my annoyance at his antics, but I was afraid that it made me sound content to stand like this. I licked my dry lips and poured more pancake batter into the skillet. He let out a sigh as well. "Maybe I should marry you for your pancakes," he said absently. I nearly dropped the bowl. He let me go, hands lingering on my hips for a moment before sauntering over to the coffee pot.
I responded by putting his plate on the table along with some syrup. Considering that we lived in Ohio, the syrup was 100% maple. It was much easier to find in Cleveland than on the west coast. That was one of the things I liked about the area. He ate quietly while I made more pancakes for myself.
When they were finished, I plopped down into the chair across from him. We were silent while I ate my pancakes, and I could feel his eyes on me as I washed the dishes. "We still have movies to watch," I suggested.
Reservoir Dogs isn't exactly the most romantic of movies, but it was the first thing James put in. I didn't want him to think that his earlier antics had bothered me, so I leaned against him as we watched. I always found myself wishing that having his arms around me meant as much to him as it did to me.
I was suddenly drowsy again and nearly fell asleep through the entire movie. When it was over, I yawned and stretched. James looked amused. "Are we going to do anything today?" I inquired.
"Doubtful," he responded, sounding about as lazy as I felt.
I nodded. "I don't feel like making dinner," I stated bluntly.
"It isn't even close to time for dinner, how do you know that already?"
"I just do. I'll buy us some Chinese take out or something," I muttered.
He shook his head. "I guess it won't kill me to take you out to dinner."
I squinted at him for a moment. "I wasn't asking you to take me to dinner."
"So why'd you say that?"
He shrugged. "We always get take out when you don't want to cook."
I sighed. "Fine. What would you rather do?"
He thought a moment. "I haven't been to Giovanni's in a while," he suggested.
I stared at him. "No."
"But they have such good steak."
"You're not blowing two hundred bucks because I don't feel like cooking."
"Because it isn't right! I changed my mind, I feel like making steak."
"Don't lie, Ne," he said bluntly.
I groaned. "I'm not going to win, am I?"
"Not a chance."
"Fine, then. But you really can't make a habit of this."
He shrugged and we watched Shoot 'Em Up. I curled up in his arms, blushing profusely. James was always nicer than he should be to me. Too worked up over our little argument over dinner, there was no chance I'd fall asleep during the movie.
"I want a puppy," he whispered into my ear about halfway through the movie. I was startled, but tried my best to hide it.
"You're never home," I reminded him.
"I'll buy you a puppy, then," he said like it was the most obvious solution.
"My complex has a rule against that sort of thing."
"What do you think we should get? A German Shepherd? Burmese Mountain dog?"
"James, I can't get a dog," I said seriously.
He grunted unhappily. "How about a kid?"
I elbowed him in the stomach. "Neither of us are married. We aren't around enough to take care of children, anyway."
"Right. So, German Shepherd, then?"
I sighed. "Puppies are a lot of work, James."
"I know. Maybe we should get both. The Shepherd will need a friend to keep him company."
"I'm not keeping your dogs here."
He was nibbling on my ear again. My breath caught in my throat. "Okay." I tried to watch Clive Owen kill a guy with a carrot, but my best friend was kissing my neck. I bit my lip and tried to hold my satisfied moan in. "What if I have the dogs at my place and you take care of them there," he whispered.
"You're not going to sweet talk me into coming over every day to walk your extraordinarily energetic puppies."
"What if you never left?" He asked, kissing my neck again.
I gasped, shocked. "You want me to move in with you?"
I felt as though I were going to be ill. The room was spinning. "The women you bring home might not understand."
"No more women," He said, seriously. He was smiling at me.
I blinked. "What?"
He sighed and gently pushed me off of him. "You talk in your sleep."
I was nearly hyperventilating. "What on earth are you talking about?"
"Look, I'm really nervous about this." He ran a hand through his hair as he said it.
"Nervous about what, James?" For some reason, I felt like crying.
He reached into his pocket. "I was planning on doing this tonight at the restaurant, but I thought you'd rather I didn't make a scene." He pulled a box out. "I'm not just asking you to be my roommate, Naomi."
I was crying and grinning like a fool. I sniffed, and my throat felt tight. "Are you asking me to marry you?" I asked quietly. He nodded. I launched myself at him and hugged the poor man tightly. "Of course I'll marry you!"
He clung to me and kissed my forehead. "I know."
I bit my lip and sobbed into his shirt, ecstatic. He rubbed my back. My face began to ache from smiling. "I love you," I finally managed to get out.
"I know. You talk in your sleep." I was too happy to be embarrassed. He pulled the gorgeous ring that must have cost a fortune from the box and put it on my finger. "So, now your mother won't disown you."
I stared up at him. "How'd you know?"
"She gave me the same threat." He kissed me lightly. James looked about as happy as I felt.
We ignored the movie's ending and were content to hold each other. I don't know how long it was before either of us moved or spoke, but James was the first to say anything. "So, can we get a puppy? And a kid?"