Next Best Thing

a one shot

Eric Devane was possibly the most attractive guy Adrienne had ever met. He had a mop of unruly black hair she wanted to run her hands through over and over again; piercing, bright blue eyes that seemed to delve into her inner soul; and a brilliant smile that made her knees go weak every time it was directed at her. Eric Devane…was perfect. She had decided, upon meeting him in a discussion and discovering they shared the same major, that he was the One for her. He met all of her expectations for her dream guy – albeit they were expectations based on her childhood crush on Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. It was silly, really, to be nearing adulthood and still harbor a massive, hopeless crush on a fictional cartoon character, but it couldn't have just been a coincidence that Eric Devane had entered her life. She'd been single far too long, holding out for her Prince Eric. And now he was here. If this guy didn't turn out to be the One, Adrienne was absolutely positive she'd be alone for the rest of her life. Eric Devane was her last hope. And she was determined to get him.

"You know, daydreaming isn't going to magically make Devane fall in love with you," an amused voice interrupted her thoughts. "It's not going to help you pass the midterm either, Adri."

Shit. The only thing worse than getting caught staring at the object of your desire was the fact that you were so obvious about it that the guy who wouldn't leave you alone knew about it.

"I wasn't daydreaming about anyone," she said quickly, looking up at Will Dalton. "I was just taking a break from studying. I'm so sick of reading about these damn philosophers."

He looked mildly amused, but she could see his irritation seeping through. Why didn't he just give up on her already? She'd already made it clear it was never going to happen.

"How are you doing today, Adrienne?" he said conversationally as he pulled out a chair at the desk she was studying at. He made himself comfortable and propped his legs up on the table.

"Fine," she whispered, remembering that they were in the library, after all, and she was supposed to be studying for her midterm. Too bad the fact that Eric Devane had decided to sit two tables away from her didn't help her cause.

"I didn't ask you how you looked," Will said smoothly. His eyes lit up as he shot her a glimpse of his pearly whites.

Adrienne forced a smile. This was just another sad attempt at flattery - and while any normal girl with fairly decent vision would have killed for Will Dalton to throw out cheesy pick-up lines at her - Adrienne simply wasn't interested in him. He really wasn't a bad guy. If he didn't try so hard to be her boyfriend, she admitted they could be friends. But that would never happen because he wasn't her type – Will Dalton, with his ever-twinkling brown eyes and clean-cut sandy blond hair did absolutely nothing to her heart.

"Aren't the lines getting a little old by now?" she wondered aloud.

Will wasn't deterred. "I don't know, are they?"

"They are," she affirmed. "Come on, Will, I'm not trying to be mean, but I already told you. You're not my type."

"How do you know what your type is if you only date guys who look like Eric Devane, without giving other guys a chance?"

Adrienne shrugged. "I just know what I like. And you're not it."

It was the brutally honest truth, but to his credit, Will didn't even flinch.

"What if you happened to meet the right guy and he was sitting right in front of you," Will said slowly. "Would you give him a second glance even though he didn't look like Prince Eric?"

She gave him a withering look. "You're talking about yourself, right?"

It was his turn to shrug. "Well, not necessarily myself, although, yes, that's who I was referring to. But there could be a million other guys out there for you, and you're holding out for a guy who looks like…Prince Eric from the Little Mermaid."

Adrienne felt her heart stop and felt heat rush into her cheeks. She knew she had guilty written all over her face, and it was obvious to Will that he had unintentionally hit the mark.

His mouth dropped open. "You're holding out for a Prince Eric?"

She glanced down at her notebook and scanned a few notes about Descartes. Why was she so transparent that all her emotions showed on her face? Adrienne had always been shit at poker and an even worse liar.

Will seemed unable to comprehend the revelation he had just struck. "You turned me down all those times because you're in love with the human form of a fictional cartoon character? Really?"

"Okay, now you're making me feel stupid," she finally hissed at him, still avoiding eye contact. "It's just a silly a childhood fantasy I never grew out of, okay!? Every little girl wants to fall in love with and marry her Prince Charming! Maybe I just never let that idea go."

"So guys like me, who actually like you for you and know you exist, don't even cross your mind. But guys like Eric Devane, no matter how lame or how much he might bear a resemblance to a douche bag, automatically win the key to your heart," Will muttered as he shook his head, disgusted. "Interesting."

"You don't know that guys like Eric Devane are douches!" Adrienne protested. "And of course Eric knows I exist. We've had like almost every class together."

"Prove it," Will said confidently. "Go over there and see if he even knows who you are."

Adrienne scoffed. "I don't need to prove anything to you."

But she was curious and she did want to stick it to Will Dalton, who thought he knew everything there was to know about her and who she belonged with. She'd show him.

"Actually, on second thought, I think I'll just go over there and say hi to him," she added as an afterthought. "Ask him how his studying is going for the midterm."

Will made a motion for her to go over there. "By all means, be my guest."

So she haughtily pushed her chair out and marched over to Eric Devane's table, taking him by complete and utter surprise, judging by the look on his face when he looked up to see who had disturbed him.

"Hey Eric, how's the studying going for that philosophy midterm?" she said casually, draping herself over his table.

It took him a moment to focus fully on her, and even then she could feel her heart begin to plummet. He wasn't looking at her the way her Prince Eric should have. In fact, he looked a little unsure of who she was.

"Oh, hey. Studying's going kind of slow…" he trailed off awkwardly.

It occurred to her that Will could be right. She'd be damned if he was.

"You do remember who I am, don't you?" she pressed.

"Sure I do," Eric struggled to say, looking affronted. "We've taken all our philosophy classes together."

Hope surged through her. "Do you know my name?"

"I know it starts with a B," Eric said confidently.

Immediately, the hope evaporated. It was slowly starting to hit her. Eric Devane was NOT the One. What did she ever see in him?

"Um, no, you're wrong," she told him. And evidently, so was I.

"B for beautiful!" Eric exclaimed, trying to save his sorry ass.

Adrienne couldn't even smile. She wasn't even disappointed or angry. She just didn't feel anything towards Eric Devane anymore.

"You're even worse than Will Dalton," she said, shaking her head. As she turned to leave and go back to her own table, where she knew Will had been listening with a triumphant grin on his face, Eric completely surprised her.

"Hey, maybe you should give Dalton a chance," Eric said quietly from behind her. "He's a cool guy who seems really into you."

She stopped in her tracks. He was pushing her to date another guy. And he hadn't even bothered to ask what her real name was.

Maybe it was because she wasn't a redhead and her name wasn't Ariel and it just simply wasn't destined to work out. In any case, she had her answer. Eric Devane wasn't the One. Adrienne sighed. She might as well start picking out her cats now so she could prepare to be the crazy cat lady all the neighborhood kids played pranks on.

Hell no was she about to let that happen.

Adrienne nodded thoughtfully and turned to walk away again. "Maybe I will. Good luck studying."

She knew Will hadn't heard that last exchange. So as she went back to her desk and saw the slight smile playing on the corners of Will's mouth, she knew she had the chance to turn that into a real smile.

"So," Will said nonchalantly, but his mouth was twitching. "How'd it go? How's our perfect prince doing?"

She leaned back in her chair and finally met his gaze. "He knows I exist, that's for sure," she said flatly. "But he doesn't even know my name."

"I don't want to tell you I told you so, but…" he starts to smile, and I can feel all of my resolve faltering.

"So don't," she snapped, suddenly tired of playing games with him. "Dalton, what's your deal with me? Why do you still ask me out when I've said no every single time?"

"I think you're cute," he said unabashedly. "And I'm eternally optimistic, so I thrive on the hope that one day you're going to crack and say yes."

From the glint in his eye, she could tell he wasn't being entirely serious. But she had to give Will some credit. He was persistent and knew what he wanted enough to go after it and put everything on the line, no matter how many times he got rejected. She liked that in a guy. It was a quality Eric Devane would never possess. In fact, Will Dalton had a lot of attractive qualities Eric Devane didn't have.

And now she was realizing that maybe she shouldn't have limited herself to Prince Eric-types of guys when there were so many other great guys who could actually like her. And one of them was sitting right in front of her.

Maybe she'd been too narrow-minded. Maybe guys like Will Dalton deserved a chance. Maybe today was going to be his lucky day.

"I need to find a book," Adrienne said, trying to hide her smile. "I think some of the notes I took might be wrong."

"Couldn't you just google it?" Will asked, dumbfounded.

She shook her head and abruptly got up, sauntering over to the rows of bookshelves surrounding the study desks. She heard Will's chair scrape against the carpet, and within moments his footsteps trailed behind hers.

"What book are you looking for?" he asked, picking up a random book from the shelf and examining the cover. "I don't know if you're going to find it in this aisle, these are all mathematics journals."

Adrienne rolled her eyes and whirled on him. God, he could be so dense.

"I'm not really looking for a book," she told him point-blank.

The confusion written all over his face was so adorable. How had she never noticed this before? Oh, right. She'd been too busy looking beyond him at guys like Eric Devane.

"Then why are you – oomph" Will said, rubbing the back of his head. He'd hit it against the bookshelf when Adrienne had stepped way too far beyond his comfort zone. "What are you…"

Adrienne grinned, leaning towards him and noticing that he was not at all disappointing up close. God, he really was good looking. He knew it, too.

""I never really gave you a fair chance, Dalton. And, well, your name isn't Eric and you don't have blue eyes or black hair," she said solemnly, gazing into his thrilling brown orbs, "But I guess you'll do."

Before he could even react and because she didn't like their current proximity, Adrienne closed the distance and pressed her lips to his. She felt his surprise against her lips but smiled when he seemed to relax and deepened the kiss, wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her body against his. She pulled back to catch her breath, and Will smiled lazily down at her.

"Your name isn't Cinderella and you don't own glass slippers or have an evil stepmother," he said, his voice husky and echoing the tone she'd used earlier, "But I guess I can be your Prince Charming."

Adrienne smothered a laugh and instead raised her eyebrows.

"Surprised?" Will asked cockily. "You aren't the only one with a childhood fantasy."

This time she really did laugh out loud, but quickly sobered when she remembered they were still in the library.

The library. Oh shit. She really needed to finish studying for her midterm tomorrow. She made sure Will was informed of this, but his only response was moving his lips down to kiss her neck.

Adrienne let out a sigh of contentment, knowing she was going to end up pulling an all-nighter.

But at the rate things were going with Will in this deserted area of the library, she figured losing one night of sleep was just a part of being in college.

A/N: Okay, so not my longest one-shot or my best work, but I still hope you liked it! This one is a result of not wanting to write Reality Check and procrastinating for studying for my final on Tuesday. Blahhh summer school!