Update - 5/15/2010 This is my first one-shot and I'm really happy with the responses I've gotten, however, there is a re-written version, which you should check out as well, or read first, just to get a better picture of the story and characters.
Thanks again to everyone who has reviewed or added this story to their favorites, I appreciate it!
Ten Cent Pens
"Most people would rather stick their fingers in a wall socket than spend a minute with you."
Edward Asner as Maurice in the X-Files episode "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas"
"He is the most self-centered, egotistical, arrogant jerk that I have ever met." I took a deep breath.
My friend's eyebrows rose nearly to her hairline. "Maybe I blacked out or something, but I only remember the really cute guys asking you if he could borrow a pen."
"Are you kidding me? That's not why I think he's a moron. Didn't you hear what he was saying under his breath in class? He was so cocky about it. Yeah, the teacher is kind of stupid, but I mean honestly, who did he think he was?"
"He was a guy asking to borrow a pen." Elise tossed her long hair over her shoulder. "What's wrong with you. He was hot and he had gorgeous eyes."
"Who cares about his eyes?" I honestly hadn't even noticed what color they were, probably boring brown.
"If I never see him again it'll be too soon."
"So, you're not going to class any more then?"
I groaned and dropped my head on the table, a loud smacking noise echoed through the nearly deserted Student Union. "This is stupid." I sat up and glared at Elise. "Do you want to know what else? He never gave me back my pen."
Elise raised an eyebrow. I was really tired of her doing that. "Seriously?"
"He stole my pen! He kept making stupid comments all through class and-"
"He's coming this way."
"What?" I screeched. I spun around in my chair and ended up sliding right off of it and onto the floor. I took a deep breath, sat up and shoved my hair out of my face.
Mr. I'm-too-good-to-give-you-back-your-ten-cent-pen was leaning against my chair looking like he wasn't sure if he was allowed to laugh or not. I made a mental note to hurt him severely if he did indeed decide to laugh at me.
"Hey." He flashed an overly white smile at me. "I'm not sure if you remember me."
"Oh she remembers." Elise was not trying very hard to conceal a smirk of her own. He smirked at me. That cocky little… I wanted to jab the pen he stole violently into the dimple that appeared in his left cheek.
"Right." His eyes focused intently on me. Okay, maybe Elise had a point, he did have nice eyes. They were a golden brown, but when he took a step towards me I caught a flash of green. "Umm, do you need a hand?"
"What? No." I quickly stood up and nearly tripped over the chair.
"Okay, well, you let me borrow a pen earlier and I forgot to give it back." He held the stupid piece of plastic out at me.
"You're returning a ten cent pen?" My left eyebrow was raised and my voice was somewhere between mocking and sarcasm. I could feel Elise glaring dagger at the back of my head. I was a hypocrite and I was well aware of it, but that was before Mr. Why-aren't-you-drooling-at-my-feet showed up. The grin he was sending me told me he was used to girls falling all over him.
"I'm missing something here." He dropped his hand and looked from me to Elise. "I have an idea." Before I could react, he had grabbed my hand. He scribbled something on my palm and smirked before dropping my hand and walking away. I blinked, not sure what had just happened.
Elise grabbed my hand. She squealed like a five year old who had been given a pony on her fifth birthday. I looked down at my hand and frown at the seven digits that had magically appeared there.
"You are so calling him." Elise tore through my backpack and shoved my phone into my hand. "Call."
"No." I sighed and dropped back into my chair. "That has got to be the worst pick-up line ever."
"He didn't say anything to you."
"If this is about returning my pen he can keep the stupid thing."
"This isn't about borrowing a pen. He likes you. He wants you."
I couldn't even begin to describe the look of disgust that was on my face. I didn't even know this guys name, and believe me I didn't want to get to know it either. He was the kind of guy that was used to girls throwing themselves at him when he smiled or winked one of those hazel eyes at you. I was immune to that kind of charm.
Elise sighed impatiently and pulled her iPod out. I simply rolled my eyes and attempted to finish my homework. My phone chimed loudly and nearly sent me to the floor again. I picked up the phone and opened the text message from an unknown sender.
Hey. How are you?
I glared at the screen. What was this all about?
I think you have the wrong number. Sorry. I sent the message and went back to my studying. My phone chimed again. I rolled my eyes, but read the message anyway.
I don't think so.
Okay, I'll play your game. Who are you and how did you get my number?
Lol. I'm not going to make it that easy for you. How about this, a question for a question. And we both have to answer truthfully. Do you have a boyfriend?
I glared at the screen so hard my eyes started to hurt. Who was this guy? At least I hoped it was a guy. If not I was going to be really freaked out. I looked up at Elise, but she had her music up loud and was in her own world. So much for getting any help from her.
I'm not playing 20 questions with you. Please leave me alone.
I put my phone down, half expecting it to chime again. I sighed contentedly and went back to my studying. My phone chimed and I jumped. So much for wishful thinking.
Okay, maybe my first question was too forward. My name's Nick and your friend gave me your number. I've been wanting to talk to you, but things just haven't worked out. What's your major?
I chewed on my bottom lip. I wasn't sure if this was legitimate or not. I looked back over at Elise. Of course it was legitimate. She would post my picture and phone number on a billboard in an attempt to get me to go on a date. I took a deep breath and sent a message back on a whim.
I'm a biology major. Do you have a last name?
The response came quickly.
Why? Do you want to stalk me on facebook? ; ) Sorry kiddo, no last names. It's part of the mystery. Although if you did see a picture of me I'm sure you'd be more willing to talk.
I accidentally snorted after reading that last part of the text.
You're so modest and humble. Look, I've got work to do and I really don't have time for this. And I resent being called a kid!
I wasn't sure why I added that last part, but it was too late to take back the message now. I shook my head. My phone stayed silent and I was worried that I had maybe offended the person, then I realized it was actually a good thing. It meant he would leave me alone. Right on cue my phone chimed.
Well, not that you asked or anything, but I'm a grad student, and I really didn't mean anything by the kiddo comment. Thanks for the compliment btw. : ) Did you grow up around here?
I almost didn't respond, but then realized texting a complete stranger was a lot more fun than studying.
"How are things going with hot-text-message-Nick?" Elise's voice made me jump, even if it was only a whisper because we were in class. I had been in the middle of a text message and accidentally sent it.
"Don't call him that. He has a name." I hurried to send the rest of the message.
"You two have been texting for almost a month, when are you going to meet him?"
"Maybe I don't want to meet him."
Before I could answer Mr. Arrogant-still-hasn't-given-me-my-pen-back leaned forward.
"Hey." His voice was low. My phone vibrated and I tuned him out. I grinned at the text, as expected Nick had teased me about being absent minded. I sent a lighthearted jab back at him.
"He needs a pen again." Elise's voice cut through the din of the professor's voice.
"Here." I shoved a pen in the direction of the obnoxious parasite behind me. I heard him mutter thanks, but I didn't really care.
"Hey!" Elise poked me in the side. "Why don't you want to meet him?"
"Because I don't want to mess this up." I glared at my phone. Where was my response? "I mean, things are great and whatever, but what if we meet and talk in person and it's just a mess."
"That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard."
"Okay, well, what if he's a creep or something."
"He's not. He's gorgeous."
I rolled my eyes. I had been trying to get Elise to confess for weeks that she had given some random guy my number, but she wouldn't crack. This was probably as close to a confession as I was going to get.
"What if he doesn't think I'm gorgeous?" My forehead creased.
"Then he's an idiot." That voice didn't belong to Elise. It belonged to the pen stealer behind me.
"This conversation doesn't involve you."
He smirked at me. His eyes were blue today and matched his shirt. "Hey, I'm just saying that if you've been texting this guy for a month there must be something between you two."
"How do you-"
"You two aren't exactly quiet."
"You're annoying." I realized my statement was as insulting as bunny slippers were intimidating but I didn't care. He had no right to eavesdrop on my conversation.
"Meet him and I'll leave you alone."
"For the rest of the day or for the rest of my life."
"Which ever you pick." He flashed me that perfect smile. I frowned.
"You promise you'll leave me alone?" I asked.
"Yeah, you meet this guy, get proof of it of course and then, if you never want to talk to me again you don't have to. I promise to leave you alone."
He laughed. "Yeah right. You won't meet him and you get to look forward to me pestering you about it every class." He leaned back in his chair and plastered that stupid cocky smirk on his face.
I snatched up my phone and sent the text message quickly.
Let's meet. 2 in the student union.
I threw a victorious smirk behind my shoulder. If anything he only looked impressed.
I was convinced that time had come to a complete standstill. I was all too aware of how my hasty decision had more than likely just cost me a friendship with someone I didn't even know. The professor finally dismissed us and I had just under ten minutes to pull myself together and figure out what I was going to say to the guy I had fallen into seriously like with.
"Hey." The voice was deep. I turned. My pen borrower. "You look pale. It's not a big deal. I'm sure everything will be fine."
I nodded. I wasn't sure how to interpret this side of him. He was usually cynical and pompous.
"It's not a big deal, right?" At this point I just needed someone to tell me I was doing the right thing. He nodded.
"You'll be fine." He smiled lightly at me.
I nodded and headed to the union building, to my surprise, and slight horror, pen boy followed me.
"What are you doing?" I stopped and folded my arms.
He smirked, back to his cocky self. "I'm just curious about this boy who has you so flustered."
"I'm not flustered."
"Whatever you say."
I looked around desperately for Elise, but she was gone. Great best friend she was. On the other hand, maybe she had the right idea, bail out before the boat sank. I pulled open the door to the union and wondered where I was supposed to go now. The building was huge and I hadn't specified a place to meet. I was also aware of that fact that I had no idea what this guy looked like.
"Where are you meeting him?" Pain-in-my-side put his hand on my back and eased me forward. I jumped away from him and turned to glare.
"Why are you still following me?"
"I just want a good seat. I don't think I want to miss this."
"You obnoxious, cocky little." I struggled for the right word. "Twit!"
"Really?" His voice was dull. "That was the best you could come up with?"
"Go away. How is this guy going to find me if you're tagging along?"
"That sound like a problem he'll have to figure out."
I threw my hands up in frustration. "You're so annoying!"
"And charming." He smiled. His smile fell quickly. "You don't think so?"
"Right now? No." I looked around the building quickly. "Why are you still here?"
He gave me a smile that under normal circumstance I would have found charming, but right now I was just annoyed. I saw him glance at the large clock on the wall.
"You just said I was charming." He grinned again.
"I did not say that!"
"Well, you hinted at it." He glanced up at the clock again. "I don't think he's coming." He frowned slightly. "Well, maybe he's just not punctual."
"GO AWAY!" I yelled so loudly my voice echoed through the building. I immediately blushed.
"Well, if he didn't know where you were before he's bound to see you now." He leaned down and I felt his breath on my ear. "Everyone's staring at you."
"Thanks. That helps a lot." I elbowed him before pressing my hands against my cheeks, hoping my face wasn't as red as I thought it was.
"Yeah, you're bright red." He grabbed my elbow lightly. "Let me buy you a smoothie or something and we can wait for him, and then if he decides to stand you up you won't feel bad waiting for him."
I didn't quite understand his logic, and I wasn't sure if I wanted a pity smoothie from Mr. I'm-going-to-make-you-feel-like-an-idiot-by-pointing-out-how-red-your-face-is. He pushed me over to a couch and I collapsed on it. He headed over to the smoothie line and I realized that I really needed to learn his name and stop always making ridiculous long last names for him, even if it was fun in a twisted demonic way.
He came back with two smoothies. He passed one over to me. I took a sip. Strawberry pineapple, my absolute favorite. I sunk into the couch and finally relaxed. Pen boy stretched his long legs out and propped them up on the low table in front of us.
"Like your smoothie?"
"Yeah, you got my favorite flavor. Thanks."
"Too bad. I was hoping you'd hate it and I could have two."
"How thoughtful of you." My voice was emotionless. I snuck a glace at the clock. It was already ten after the hour.
"So. How long are you going to wait?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. How long are you going to keep pestering me?"
"Only until you meet this guy."
"Why do you care so much about whether I meet him or not?"
He shrugged. "I don't have anything better to do until my next class starts. This beats studying anyway."
I rolled my eyes. "You have a name?"
I gave him a pointed look. He laughed. "Well? What's your name?'
"You can call me Hunter."
"Because that's not really your name?"
"It's my last name."
"What's your first name?"
"That is privileged information, and unfortunately you're not privileged enough to know it." He raised an eyebrow and smirked.
I rolled my eyes. "You really are full of yourself."
"What happens if this guy stands you up?"
I shrugged. "Honestly, I'm scared to meet him."
He gave me a blank look. "Why, because you're worried he'll be below you?"
"Do you think I'm that conceited?"
He shrugged this time. "You don't seem to want to get to know me."
"That's different. You're annoying."
His eyes flashed and changed to dark brown. "That's about all you've said about me." He stood abruptly. "I've got to go. Good luck with lover boy."
I watched him leave, almost sad to see him go. At least with him here I didn't feel like a complete loser.
I hadn't texted Nick in two days. I was waiting for an explanation about why he hadn't shown up. I wasn't going to cave and demand a reason. If I wasn't worth his time, then he wasn't going to be worth mine.
I took my typical seat in class and pulled out a notebook. Elise sat down next to me and her eyes got wide as she looked at something beyond my shoulder.
"What?" I turned and saw Mr. Leave-me-high-and-dry-in-the-student-union Hunter pulling out the chair next to me.
"Hey." His voice was lackluster. "Do you mind?"
I started to say yes, then simply shook my head. What did I care? He just better not ask to borrow a pen.
I leaned forward and tried to stay focused by writing exact notes, but the lecture today was boring. I ended up doodling in the margins of my notebook. I glanced over at Hunter's three-ring binder and saw extremely detailed notes covering the page. I turned back to the front of the class and saw he had even copied down the diagram on the board in excruciating detail.
I propped my chin up on my hand and sighed. A hand moved across my back slowly and I felt Hunter's shoulder press into mine.
"Hey." His voice was low, but I could tell he wasn't trying to get my attention. I saw Elise turn to him out of the corner of my eye. "Could I borrow some paper?"
I turned to face him. "Why is it so hard for you to be prepared?"
He turned his attention to me and blinked. I pulled away, not realizing how close our faces were to each other. He laughed lightly.
"I'll try harder next time." He looked over at Elise who was passing him a few sheets of paper. "Thanks."
He snapped the sheets into his binder and resumed his note taking. A shiver ran down my spine as I realized the warmth from his hand was no longer on my back. I could have kicked myself for also noticing how amazing he smelled.
I sighed and went back to doodling. It was safer that way. Hunter's elbow crashed into mine. I turned to glare. I could see the apology written on his face. I shook my head and turned away from him.
The stupid class finally ended. I left with Elise and vaguely noticed Hunter behind me. My phone vibrated in my pocket. I had a message from Nick.
Sorry. I've been busy. Want to meet today?
My mouth twisted into a savage grin as I shoved the phone in the pocket of my backpack without responding. Let's see how he liked that.
"Was that lover boy? How is he?" Hunter's voice was light, and mocking. I turned around and slammed his against the closest wall.
"What is your problem?" I leaned forward and shoved his shoulders into the wall. "Why are you so intent on messing with my life. I mean, first the pens and now you're practically stalking me."
I took a deep breath and stood up on my toes to attempt to be closer to his height. It didn't do much good; he was still about three inches taller than I was.
"Are you gonna kiss me now?" A slow grin spread across his face as I blushed and jumped away from him. I was breathing heavily and I wanted nothing more than to smack him. "I wouldn't mind."
I turned and stomped away. I should have punched him when I had the chance.
"What's going on with you and Hunter?" Elise's voice pulled me from my studying. I gave her a confused look. "I thought you hated him."
"I do." I shrugged. She gave me a skeptical glance. "Okay, whatever, he's not that bad."
"You two have been talking during class and after class and you even giggled the other day."
"I did not."
Elise nodded. I replayed the conversation Hunter and I had in class the other day. I felt my face turn beet red. I had giggled at something he had said. I shook my head.
"Well." I stopped, not sure what else to say. "He's distracting me from stupid Nick."
"You haven't texted Nick in two weeks and he hasn't texted you either. Hunter isn't your distraction; he's your new love interest."
"You're insane." I closed my book and headed to class, which just happened to be the class I shared with Hunter. My phone chimed and I pulled it from my backpack. Speak of the devil, it was Nick.
Look, I know you're mad. You deserve to be mad at me, but can we please talk about what happened in person. You at least deserve to know the reason I stood you up. Please?
I wasn't sure if I wanted to go through this or not. Maybe I could convince Hunter to come so I wouldn't feel stupid when Nick stood me up again. With any luck I could get another free smoothie too.
Fine. Same place same time. I sent the message and then turned my phone to silent. I walked into class and found Hunter already there. I sat next to him.
"Do you think I'm stupid?" I was sure my question threw him off guard because his eyes were wide. They finally narrowed and he folded his arms across his chest.
"Is this one of those questions that no matter what my answer is I'm still going to be wrong?" He smiled at the end. I frowned at him. "No. I don't think you're stupid."
"Then why do I feel stupid?"
Hunter scratched the back of his neck. "Uhh? I might need a little more detail here."
"I agreed to meet Nick again today."
Understanding flashed across his face. "You're afraid he'll stand you up again."
"I guess." I slouched down in my seat. "Actually, I don't even know if I want to meet him anymore."
"Why not? I thought you two had a thing going?"
"Well, he ruined it."
"Hmm. Well, I guess you'll just have to meet him and see what happens."
I nodded. "Will you come with me?"
The smile on his lips was a mix of amusement and cockiness. It made me laugh.
"I can't. I've got stuff to do."
"Oh. Okay." I quickly turned away from him so he wouldn't see how disappointed I was.
"Hey." He grabbed my arm and I felt the heat from his fingers travel up to my shoulder. "It'll be fine. You can tell me all about what a moron he was on Monday."
I nodded. I was happy he was trying to lighten my mood, but I would have been a lot happier if he had agreed to come with me. I was startled by that thought, and at the idea that of all the men in the world it was Hunter I had chosen to depend on. I didn't know anything about him. I looked at the doorway to see Elise standing there with an I-told-you-so look on her face.
She crossed the classroom quickly and took her seat. She greeted Hunter and took out her book.
Hunter touched the back of my hand. "I really am sorry I can't go with you."
He squeezed my hand lightly and I smiled up at him before pulling my arm back and checking my phone. There was a single message there.
Hunter grabbed my wrist as I left class sending a warm shiver up my arm. I turned back to face him. "You're going to be fine." He gave me a warm smile that immediately put me at ease.
His fingers moved to intertwine with mine. It was an innocent gesture, but my heart rate sped up. "You okay?"
I nodded. "I have to go." I slowly pulled my hand from his grasp. "I'll see you on Monday, okay?"
"Yeah." There was a flash of hurt in his eyes, but it faded quickly. I fleetingly wondered if Hunter was somehow jealous of Nick. I shook the stupid thought from my head. Why would Hunter be jealous of a guy I've never met?
I pulled open the heavy doors of the student union and paced slowly in the large atrium. I had no idea what to expect or even what to think. I dropped my backpack down on a chair, retrieved my phone and resumed my pacing. A chime from my phone made my fingers start shaking.
Hey, I'll meet you at the smoothie counter. You still like strawberry pineapple, right?
My head was pounding and I wasn't sure what I wanted now. I mean, I did want to know who this mysterious Nick person was, but I wasn't sure if it was even worth it anymore. He had shown me that he was unreliable and he had hurt me. I chewed on my lower lip and wished Elise and Hunter were here. Hunter would crack some joke and Elise would roll her eyes and tell me to stop being a baby.
I finally got my fingers to stop shaking long enough to send a reply.
Sounds good. I'll be right there.
I retrieved my backpack and told myself that whatever happened just needed to happen. I wasn't going to worry about it. I would meet Nick and that would be that. I would be laughing with Hunter on Monday about how scared I had been. I froze in mid-step. Hunter. He had told me that after I met Nick he would leave me alone. But that was before we became, well, whatever it was we were. I groaned. I had somehow in the space of two months fallen in love with I-refuse-to-tell-you-my-first-name-and-I-still-have-two-of-your-pens Hunter.
Well, it was clear what my decision was. I was going to meet Nick, tell him it was nice to get to know him and then find Hunter and confess my undying love. I snorted. Yeah, right. I'd keep pretending that I was unaffected by his touch, his presence, his amazing cologne all while eagerly looking forward to seeing him in class. I shook my head. I was pathetic. I needed to focus. First Nick. I could tackle my Hunter problem on Monday. I had the whole weekend to figure out that one.
I finally started walking again and turned around the corner. The smoothie counter was deserted. Maybe I wasn't going to have to worry about Nick after all. This was all some kind of sick game to him. I walked over to the counter anyway. Maybe he would materialize out of thin air.
There was a smoothie sitting innocently on the counter with a bright orange post-it note stuck to it.
I took a very deep breath and slowly turned. I caught a glimpse of hazel eyes before lips landed lightly on mine. I breathed in the scent of Hunter and collapsed against him. My fingers trailed through his hair, pulling his mouth securely against mine and his arms tightened around my waist. I finally came to my senses and pushed him away.
"Are you crazy?" My breathing was ragged and I could already feel the heat rising in my cheeks.
"I'll explain everything." His arms locked tightly around my waist and he pulled me closer. He rested his head on mine. "Elise sent me your number. You seemed to like me more in text messaging format, but I figured once you actually got to know me that could change. I wanted to tell you the first time who I was, but I knew you'd kill me. I'm sorry." His words were rushed and his arms were tense. He probably expected me to run away. I was surprised I was still standing in front of him. Slightly pressure on my hips reminded me he was waiting for me to say something.
I tiled my head up and he looked down at me. "You told me you were a grad student. What are you doing in an undergrad biology class?"
"I'm a grad student in biology and I have to tutor as part of my degree, and part of that means I have to attend the class I want to tutor."
He laughed. "Hey. That class is the reason we're here."
"You have so much more to explain."
"I'll explain it all if you'll do one little thing for me."
His eyes turned a brilliant shade of green and he gave me that smirk that I had always thought was cocky, but now it was his trademark and it made him look even more attractive than any man had a right to look.
"Kiss me again."
I did, happily I might add. Elise would pay for her silly little trick, but that could be taken care of later, after Nick I've-never-been-so-glad-a-man-stole-a-pen-from-me Hunter had finished explaining himself.
His arms tightened around me and he deepened the kiss. Maybe Elise could get away with manipulating my love life, just this one time.
Woo-hoo, this is my first ever one-shot. I'm not totally happy with it, but I think it has it moments. I've been trying forever to write a one-shot, but I just get too involved with my characters and I try to give them backgrounds and all that stuff.
Okay, so my goal for this story was to write without using the typical I said, she said, he said, dialogue tags. I don't think I used any of them, and if I did please point them out so I can fix it. I also didn't give the girl a name. That's on purpose, please don't yell at me for that. What else? Hmm, I know the story line moved kind of fast. But at the same time I kind of like it. I'm totally open to any criticism and I totally believe in returning reviews, as long as the one I receive is thought out and helpful to my writing. So, click that stupid little button at the bottom of the screen and help me out here.
P.S. There are Strawberry Pineapple smoothies in it for you if you review. Granted, they are imaginary, but enjoy one anyway! :)