Fluent in French

I slouch back in my chair, pounding down on the keyboard and trying to kill as many weird robotic looking women as I can when the shop bell rings. Pressing the escape button and pausing the game, I look over to the entrance and feel my heart involuntary skip a beat; Julian Chevalier.

Julian Chevalier is in the shop and I'm wearing my "DVDS here are 'Cheap, Cheap'" chicken hat again. I'm always wearing it. It's part of the uniform at the "Cheap, Cheap" DVD store. I mean, I kind of like the hat, it's just I rather not be wearing it in the company of cute, French accented boys.

But it just so happens I only seem to see this boy in the DVD store…well, apart from school. But how on earth is school uniform flattering? He's not going to want to make out with me in that.

Not that I should care. His accent doesn't make up for the fact that he's –

"Oh, g'day Brooke," he smirks at me, giving me a little wave before he disappears into the romance aisle.

A jerk. He speaks English. All the time. I've tried to prompt him into saying "bonjour" to me by introducing the notion but he always returns it with a "g'day" and it's getting rather hard to trick him into it.

What is worse is he doesn't just speak English, he actually uses internet and text talk within his sentences; he can't even speak it PROPERLY.

"Notebook FTW," he exclaims with what I can imagine is a fist pump. I stare bemusedly as I watch his head bob around in the aisles, wondering what kind of boy gets into that movie. I mean, understandably, given his cultural background he might possess the sensitive qualities needed to appreciate the movie…

But come on, the guy's borrowed it out every week since he moved to our town from Melbourne. I'm tempted to just buy him a copy, or take our copy home and burn it for him. Only that'd mean he'd stop visiting.

Well, not that, you know, I care all that much. I just really prefer it if he decides to leave after I've succeeded in getting him to speak a little French. I like a challenge, that's all.

A couple of minutes later he walks up to the desk and sets the DVD down, smirking at me. I eye him suspiciously, and try reverse psychology, "G'day."

"What? No French today?" Julian chuckles and I blink at him. So he's noticed, has he?

"Oui," I respond sarcastically before scanning the DVD and holding it out to him, "would you like a bag, monsieur?"

"I think I'll manage, ty," I flinch at the abbreviation and he winks at me, turning to leave before changing his mind last minute. Turning back around, his warm brown eyes capture my pale green ones, twinkling with curiosity, "Why are you always talking French with me?"

"Because I'm from France and therefore should speak my own language," I smile sweetly at him, causing him to chuckle again.

"But I'm not from France; I'm Australian," he insists, drawing out 'Australian' as if he's speaking to a child.

"Never said you were, said I was," I continue smiling sweetly and he shakes his head at me before walking out of the store, giving me a wave over his shoulder.

I'll make him "bonjour" me yet.

"My little pony?" I arch an eyebrow up at the boy in front of me and he scratches his head a little embarrassedly. "Is this for you, or?"

"No, it's for my little sister," he shakes his head at me with a smile, crinkling his nose and making the light dust of freckles mush together, "she's a little bit horse and pony crazed, spends her allowance on horse figurines, you know?"

"That's random," I smirk at him, wondering why he's telling me this, "you sure it's not for you? I think I saw you in the other day, borrowing the SpongeBob movie."

"Hey," he holds up his hands, "that's blasphemy; SpongeBob is awesome."

"If you say so," I shake my head at him and scan the DVD.

"I say so," he nods and takes it out of my hands, handing me four bucks, "you can keep the change."

"It's five cents," I inform him incredulously, not being able to help the corners of my lips twisting up into a smile.

But he's already walked off and out of the store and so my complaint falls on deaf ears.

Someone clears their throat, and I look around before my eyes settle on the spot before the romance aisle. Julian Chevalier. I note his furrowed eyebrows and pursed lips and blink at him, bemused; what's he so upset about?

"Has someone rented out The Notebook?" I want to know, putting my hands on my hips.

"No," he snorts before disappearing into the aisle, "unless that guy took it too."

I blink, biting my lip and wondering what on earth he's meaning with that "too". He can't have been meaning My Little Pony. We've got so many copies of that it isn't funny, and besides…why would he want to borrow that? Have I been checking out a gay boy these past few weeks???

I stare down at my desk in horror.

I mean, the guy has borrowed The Notebook a few too many times to be considered natural. Especially given the fact that he's a male and has TESTOSTERONE! He's meant to like boy-y things like sports and cars and videogames. Like the one paused on my computer right now.

What if what that boy likes is boys, boys and more boys instead? Although I swear to God sometimes it seems like he's flirting with me…

"What are you doodling on your desk?" Julian leans over and I look down at what I've drawn; a little stick figure with short floppy hair bobbing around it's ears, screaming 'I LIKE MEN'. "Well, that's reassuring, I guess. Since when was your hair that short?"

"I was saving lead, okay?" I put down my pencil and look up at him, holding out my hand; he stares at it for a moment before raising his eyebrow, "DVD?"

"Oh," he blinks and sets The Notebook down in front of me, "yeah, here."

I type it in and am about to scan it when the phone rings. I send Julian an apologetic look and pick up the phone, "Hello?"

"Is the Notebook in??" The voice on the other side demands and I know immediately who it is, "My wife is going to kill me if we don't watch it soon. She seems to think I'm doing it on purpose, you know, not getting it. But I'm not. So, please, is it in?"

Charles Paine. He's been calling up and going in every day for three weeks trying to grab a copy of the DVD to watch with his wife Charmaine. He, not unlike some French boy I know, hasn't ever thought of buying a copy for his wife. No, he has to have the copy from the DVD store. The copy that is always rented out by Julian.

"Just a second, sir," I cover the end of the phone with my hand and raise an eyebrow up at Julian, who is picking up the figurines on top of my computer and looking at them, almost analytical in his observation, "hey Chevalier, could you do without The Notebook for one week? This guy has been calling in about it for three."

"Do you like Spiderman better or Batman?" he wants to know and I blink at him, and he looks up and blinks back, "What were you saying?"

"Could you do without The Notebook? A guy is ringing in for it and no offence, but – you're kind of being a hog." I tap my fingers on the phone impatiently, looking into his brown eyes and raising the eyebrow above one of my own, "Chevalier?"

"Well," he snaps out of it and lets his head fall into his hands, smirking at me, "okay, but you owe me, alright?"

"Whatever," I take my hand off the end, "sure, Mr Paine, it's right here waiting for you."

"Thank you! Oh my God, thanks Brooke," he proceeds to thank me several more times before finally hanging up. I snort and put the phone back down, exiting out of Julian's details and going to grab the DVD but finding it's no longer in front of me.

I turn my eyes to Julian's twinkling chocolate orbs, "I kind of need the DVD, idget , so hand it over."

"What'll you do for me, Brooke?" he slides the DVD down his jacket and leans forward over the counter, his fingers inching forwards and touching the tips of my own. I have to bite down on my cheeks to try not to blush.

"Nothing," I snort, putting one hand on my hip and holding the other out for the DVD, "except I could give you a couple dollars off your next rental, if that's what you want."

"It's not what I want," he informs me, ""I could break out of the DVD store, The Notebook in hand, and you and your little keyboard scratching hands couldn't do a thing about it – so what are you going to do for it?"

"What do you want?" I ask, staring at him suspiciously.

"Why don't I show you?" He chuckles, reaching out for my hand again and tightening his grip around it, causing my heart to skip a beat. What does he think he's doing?

Julian gently rolls my jumper sleeve over my hand and pulls me forward, so that my face is right near his. I can see every long, fluttery eyelash, and the contrast between his tan skin and his black silky curls. I can't help but gasp, and he smirks devilishly at me…

Before whispering, "You look a little flustered, Brooke, something you want to tell me?"

I straighten, quickly regaining my composure (or so it would seem), and shrug – trying to act as if it were not a big deal and that he doesn't make my heart pound like crazy, "No, I'm not flustered, and if I were the only reason is because you're making people stare. I'd appreciate it if you didn't do it again. Monsieur."

Only I so want him to do it again.

I add the last bit of French in for good measure and he looks over his shoulder, incredulous, "See, that elderly man over there looks like he's going to have a heart attack. He probably thinks you were trying to steal from the cash register; you can't scare people like that. He's got his phone out and everything, ready to dial triple 0."

Mr Allen looks over at us with vague interest before he turns his eyes back to the DVD collection, probably arguing yet again with his wife about what DVDs they're getting. She always wants romance and he always wants science fiction, and unless the movie is both – they fight it out over mobile to the bitter end.

It's kind of adorable.

"He is not," Julian snorts before waving an arm in the guy's direction and turning his eyes back to mine, "stop changing the subject."

"Whatever you say, Chevalier," I shrug, slouching back in my chair and tapping my fingers against my chin, feigning boredom, "so do you need assistance for anything else, or are we done here?"

Julian looks at me for a couple moments longer before shrugging, and sliding the DVD out of his jumper, "Guess not, see you in a week."

"Au revior," I smile mock sweetly and then think of something, holding up a finger, "oh, and one more thing," he looks curious but guarded, "I like Spiderman, Batman's an asshole. Besides, when you type both of their names in lowercase onto Microsoft Word – guess who's one comes up with a red squiggly line, suggesting it needs a capital?"

"Spiderman," he smiles and I nod proudly, causing him one last chuckle before he puts the DVD down and leaves the store.

Smiling and shaking my head at his baggy jeaned ass, I turn my eyes back to the computer and back to what's important – video games!

"Mum, after this can we go to the supermarket?" a little boy asks his mother, tugging her on the sleeve and dragging a Spiderman backpack behind him; I'm so glad he hasn't given up to the pressure that is Ben 10.

My little cousin was obsessed with Spiderman the year before last and last year and I saw him sporting Ben Ten shorts instead of his spidey pants. It was quite depressing.

"What, to get some aeroplane jelly?" She rolls her eyes, setting his DVDs onto the counter and giving me a look like what can you do?

"Mum," the boy takes on a serious look, furrowing his brows, "you've seen the ads, it's 'I like aeroplane jelly, aeroplane jelly for me' for a reason, you know. I do like aeroplane jelly. Aeroplane jelly is for me."

"Surname please?" I smile at the cute little boy before turning my eyes to his mother.

"Godfrey," she says, waving a hand dismissively at her kid, "he's a little jelly crazed. On his birthday, instead of inviting his friends over and having a birthday party, he filled an entire bath tub full of strawberry jelly and just laid in it."

"Mum," the kid whines, sounding embarrassed.

"He smelt like jelly for a week or so," she ignored his complaint, smiling as she hands me the DVDs, "it certainly inspired all the little girls' in his class' interest."

I scan the DVDs as the kid mutters something about cooties, handing them over to Mrs Godfrey with an amused smile, "Who could resist the lure that is the smell of strawberry jelly?"

"Who could indeed," she shakes her head, handing me over a ten dollar note and then taking her dollar change, "thanks."

"Thank you," I smile as she leaves with a wave, complaining kid in tow.

"So, I've been thinking," I near jump out of skin, finding the My Little Pony borrower boy right in my face, twirling The Little Mermaid in his hands this time, "you know that guy you like?"

"What?" I take it off him, searching his mother's last name and wondering, not for the first time, what his name is. "What are you talking about?"

"You know that French accented one, with the pretty boy long lashes and big brown eyes?" He teases, raising his eyebrows suggestively. I try to remain calm – after all, his insinuation is far from true – but it doesn't appear to be working. He starts grinning at me like mad, "Oh yes, you know all about him."

"No," I lie, scanning his DVD and holding out my hand, "Just hand me four dollars and we'll be done here, mister match-maker."

"Oh, there he is," my back goes rigid and I look over his shoulder, only to find out he's lying, "so, not attracted to him at all, huh?"

"Not attracted to him at all," I agree whole-heartedly, gesturing with my hand and raising my eyebrows. "So hand over the money, and like I said, we'll be done here."

"Oh, but we're not done here," he shakes his head, grinning, "you know what you got to do, right?"

I look at him, raising an eyebrow in incredulity, "What?"

"You got to lean in," he leans across the bench much like Julian did the other day, "you've got to flutter those eyelashes, and you've got to," he leans much closer, glancing out the corner of his eye before whispering, "give him a big fat kiss on the lips to make up for looking like you're with another guy right now."

I look over his shoulder again and this time Julian's actually there, hands shoved into his pockets and with a look I can only describe as hostile on his face. In front of me mister match-maker is nearly peeing his pants with held in laughter, and I throw the DVD in his face with annoyance, "Shut up and give me the money, moron."

Catching it before it falls to the desk, he digs into his jeans pocket and tosses two two dollar coins at me, "Keep the change," he chuckles, conveniently leaving me to deal with an angry Julian once more. I honestly don't know why the guy bugs him so much.

After he's out the door Julian comes storming over, his feet hitting the DVD floor hard, and his fists clenching at his sides, "Who is that, seriously? Is that your boyfriend?"

"No," I splutter, cheeks going bright red, "I don't even know what his name is."

"So you go around kissing guys you don't know?" he splutters right back, looking really angry with me and pointing outside to a man walking across the zebra-crossing, "Are you going to go kiss him, too? Or what about that guy?"

He points to a guy strolling around in the action section, picking up a copy of District 9. The guy looks up when he realises he's being pointed at and raises his eyebrows before walking self-consciously off to another aisle.

I turn my eyes back to Julian, incredulous, "Well, I don't know, Julian; he does seem to have better taste in movies than you do. What do you care who I go around kissing anyway? I mean, not that I was even kissing that guy."

"Hey, don't you diss The Notebook," he says defensively, wagging a finger right in my face and causing me to flinch, like no you didn't, "and WTF, Brooke, if you weren't kissing him what were you doing? The Maori 'hello'?"

"For all you know we could have been," I bark, bringing a hand down on the desk noisily and glaring into his now not warm, but boiling hot with anger, brown eyes, "and as far as I know it's not any of your business what I do, anyway, so unless you're here to hire a DVD…"

I think my silence speaks for itself.

"Oh, I think everyone knows all well why I come here," Julian shoves his hands into his jeans and glares at me, hostile, "everyone except you that is."

"What?" I blink at him, bemused, feeling my heart skip a beat at his words.

"You figure it out, retourne enculer les mouches," he rages, before starting for the door.

"What? What?" my jaw drops and my heart skips a beat again, and I have to grab hold of the bench to keep myself steady – he just spoke French to me; he just spoke French to me, "did you just…I know you just – that was so…"


"Va bouffer ta merde," he mutters before the automatic door closes behind him.

I hold my hand to my heart and I can feel it beating fast as I watch his curly brown head disappear down the street. I can't believe he caved. I was starting to think I'd never get him to do it, and so he decides to on a day when I hadn't even attempted to get him to speak it. The irony makes me want to laugh; only I don't feel like laughing right now.

I do however feel rather giddy.

Okay, so I looked what I think he said sounded like up, and what he said is not exactly complimentary. I guess he was really mad at me at the time because he told me to go have sex with a cow and then to eat shit. Both of which are definitely not sexy things to be saying, even if they are in French.

I find myself staring at the definitions again, bemused. I mean, why does he come here? That's what he was talking about before he stormed out of the DVD store, telling me to eat shit. He was giving me this real meaningful look when he said it too, like he was trying to tell me something just that I was too stupid to get it.

And call me a freaking moron, but I still don't know what he was on about.

All I know is I want him to be saying some more French words to me.

Next time preferably nice ones.

"Hey, there," I look up to see Julian, The Notebook in hand, and my heart starts the familiar pitter-pat I've grown so used to by now, "how's it going?"

"Good," I eye him warily, raising an eyebrow at him and wondering whether he's going to swear in French at me again – and shamefully enough I actually want him to, because swear words are better than no words at all, "how are you going?"

"Good," he nods, tapping the DVD on the edge of the bench and looking awkward.

"Um, so," I start, racking my brains for something, anything to talk about that will make this less awkward. I don't even know how it got so awkward anyway. Perhaps the combination of him feeling nervous over being so angry the other day and my feeling nervous because, to be totally honest…I've kind of developed a tiny bit of a crush on the guy.

"So," he nods, tapping the DVD against the bench some more and making me want to scream. It's not supposed to be like this at all. I'm supposed to be a smartass and he's supposed to be a smartass back and then go on his merry way, DVD in hand. He's not supposed to stick around staring at me like this.

"So," I repeat, like I'm some kind of parrot, "so, uh, The Notebook huh? You seem to like that quite a bit. Why is that?"

Julian blinks at me, "Uh, you know, it's uh, sweet? I like the relationship between them."

"Between Noah and Allie?" I want to know, nodding my head, "Yeah, they're great, you know that part in the end with the 'why didn't you write me'? That always tugs at my heartstrings. What's your favourite part?"

Julian blinks again, "Uh, you know, I just love all of it. It's all good. I really couldn't pick a part I didn't like."

"Okay," I raise my eyebrow at him as the fiddles awkwardly with the DVD, "well, do you want to borrow it again?"

"Sure do," he pushes it towards me, "can't get enough of it."

I pick it up and go to scan it, but then I sigh and look at him, wanting his chocolate eyes to twinkle again. Right now they're lowered to the desk, averting my gaze at all costs. It's not at all like him. "Va bouffer ta merde, eh?"

He stops looking nervous and smirks, looking back up at me, "Some quality French right there."

"Oh yeah," I put my hand to my heart, "tell me to eat shit again, Chevalier, it makes my heart pound so fast."

"Oh, really," he says, waggling his eyebrows at me as he leans over the bench, making my heart go all aflutter when his chocolate orbs level with my pale green ones, "tell me, Brooke, what else makes your heart pound?"

"The fact that you watch The Notebook, pretty much the most girly movie in the world," I tease, reaching up and stroking one of the black curls that has fallen across his eyes, "the way you use text talk in your sentences, man, does that get me going. Also the fact that you refuse to speak French to me, and when you finally do, it's insults."

Julian rolls his eyes and if he minds my touching his hair he doesn't say anything, "Brooke, Brooke, Brooke – whatever is your obsession with the French language?"

"Aw, come on," I whine, letting my hand drop from his hair, "can't you give a girl a break and just do it?

He rolls his eyes again, "Look, Brooke, I –"

"Hey, Brooke-y baby," Mister match-maker walks in through the automatic doors, his little sister in tow, "see I told you I wasn't lying about her."

"Oh, hey," I grin, turning my eyes to his little sister who's staring at Julian curiously, almost calculative – a scary look on someone so young, "did you like The Little Mermaid? You know, you should watch the second one too. It's pretty good."

"Yes," she nods, still looking at Julian, "is that him?"

Her brother looks down at her and nods, "It sure is, Eliza, what do you think?"

"Who are you?" Julian scowls at him, crossing his arms over his chest.

"I'm Lewis," he says, pointing at himself and grinning before pointing at Julian, "and you're Julian."

"What?" Julian says, looking a mixture of confused, angry and flattered, turning his eyes to mine. "How does he know my name, Brooke? Have you been talking about me to people or something? Because I don't know that guy. All I know is, he tried to kiss you last time I was here."

"The 'get him jealous' technique, bro?" Eliza looks up at him with a smirk, which earns her a chuckle.

"Did you kiss him?" Lewis asks, winking. I feel a blush wash over my cheeks.

"What?" Julian turns his head back to Lewis who smiles back at him, eyebrows furrowed and hands balling into fists. "What do you mean did she kiss him? She's kissing other people as well as you? Who did she kiss? Who else is she kissing?"

He turns his head around again, angry, "Who aren't you kissing?"

"I'm guessing not, then," Lewis whistles, shaking his head and giving me a disappointed look. Jerk, "Come on, pucker up Jules, she has something to say – or do, to you."

"What?" Julian growls, blinking. "Look, I don't know what you're saying, but, get out of here. I'm in the middle of something."

"Hey, be nice," I scold him, reaching out to pat him on the shoulder when he glares and me and smacks my hand away. I blink at him; he looks almost wounded, his eyes are filling with hurt. He doesn't say anything, though. Just glares at me like I've done something really mean. "What? What's wrong?

Julian turns his back to me, I can see through his tee that the muscles have gone all rigid and he crosses his arms over his chest and begins to radiate out hostility. I blink again and turn my eyes to Lewis who sighs, shaking his head and making crazy whirls about his temple, symbolising that Julian was acting crazy –

And then pointing at me. No, he didn't mean that Julian was acting crazy. He meant that Julian was crazy for me – yeah right! I wish!

I glare at him and he smiles again, grabbing his little sister's hand and beginning to drag her out of the shop with him. I watch them leave, watch her complaining to him, that she wanted to see what was going on. I want to know what's going on too; things seemed just fine a moment ago.

The store is silent, and I watch Julian's back, his shoulders going up and down as he breathes heavily, barely seeming to be able to contain his frustration. I blink at him and wonder whether I should go over there, ask him what's wrong. Only I've got a feeling it's got something to do with me…which means her probably won't feel like talking very much.

Aggravated, I let out a sigh and sit back down, turning my eyes to the computer screen and about to click down on a computer game when he finally decides to speak. "Is that what it's like with you?"

"Is that what what's like with me?" I want to know, bemused.

"The guys that you flirt with, like it doesn't even matter if you like them or not," he turns around, his hands dropping from his chest and balling into fists as he glares at me, "you flirted with me, did that not matter either?"

I feel my cheeks go flaming red and my hands fly up from the mouse to cover them, embarrassed, and angry, "Guys I flirt with? Right, I don't know what gave you that idea, man, but I don't flirt with anyone."

"You flirted with me," he insists, before striding over to the bench and stroking through my bangs with his fingertips, causing my heart to jump, "you touched me like this."

I don't say anything. My eyes are immediately drawn to his. He leans in and looks at me, eyes flickering down to my lips before returning to mine. My heart skips a beat again. Julian sets his hands down on my spinny chair and rolls it towards him, climbing over the bench and sitting atop it, looking down at me, eyes intent.

"Do you do that with everyone else?" he wants to know, gesturing out the door. "If I didn't come in, were you going to kiss that guy? Were you?"

"No," I tell him, before holding my chin up high and raising my eyebrows challengingly, "not that it's any of your business."

"You know what? Maybe not," he glares at me, slamming his hands down on the arm rests and sounding annoyed, "but I want to make it mine."

"What do you mean?" I look away.

"You know what I mean," he says softly, and taking one of his hands off of the armchair he cups my cheek and gets down from the bench; bending at the knees to meet my eyes, "I mean that every time I come in here, it's not to borrow The Notebook."

My heart does a loop-de-loop and my cheeks flame brighter; I think I know what he means.

"I haven't even watched it to be honest. It's just that every time I go in here, I get so nervous I just grab it because that's what I grabbed the first time," he says, laughing at himself and sounding a little embarrassed, "Do you want to know why I get so nervous?"

I don't answer him. I think I'm having a heart attack right now. I mean I can't believe this is happening, that the cute French guy who won't speak French wants to kiss me. Or at least, he really, really seems like he wants to kiss me from the way he's looking at me and holding my cheek like that.

"It's because I really like you," he informs me, and I look at him, eyes wide, "and as much as I've tried to tell you I can't speak French, there is one French thing I can do."

My first thought is cooking, like he's going to cook me a meal – but a second later when his lips latch onto mine and he's pulled me up into his arms, I know better. The chair behind me rolls back and bumps into the wall, my arms go around his neck and his hands hold tightly onto my sides. He opens his mouth, and starts to engage me in a furious battle of tonsil hockey, and my mind goes so far up into the heavens I don't even think about customers walking in on us.

I just kiss him back, tilting my head up and weaving my fingers into his hair. The chicken hat atop my head falls off as he bats it with a hand, sick of the beak bumping into his forehead.

Two minutes into our heavy duty make out session; he brings lips away and rests his forehead on mine, smirking, "I can French kiss."

"You sure can," I agree breathlessly.

"So, you, me," he steps away, jerking a thumb in mine and then his direction, raising his eyebrows suggestively, "tomorrow I'll come pick you up from work and we'll actually watch this Notebook movie."

"Okay," I agree, I think I'd agree to everything right now.

"It's a date," he grins, pecking me on the lips and jumping back over the other side of the bench before running out the door. I watch his brown curls bounce until he runs out of view and put a finger to my lips, falling back down into my chair.

Wooo. Damned if he isn't fluent in the best kind of French there is.


YOU LIIKKEE? This is dedicated to my friend Anika, who I wrote it for and who said I wouldn't be able to get it done today. I proved her wrong. Praaiisee me.