A/N: So... uh, this is kind of a double challenge response. But only kind of. If you read my notes (the bold ones), you'll get what I mean.
Challenge #5 - Kicking Ass and Taking Names (I already know that this challenge is incomplete, but I'm putting it in here because I steal most of the concepts for this story from it)
1) Female action hero (i.e.: Ordinary Woman)
2) Love interest is a poet who has never worked in a real job—ever (and he really hasn't)
3) During one of their one-night stands, Love Interest recites a poem to Female Action Hero. Female Action Hero eventually uses this knowledge in one of her missions (she has to decipher a poem to save the day, and they have had a one night stand, but it's not a random mission and he doesn't say it during the actual one-night stand, so I don't know about this one)
4) Gratuitous cliché phrases, such as: "I'll save you, my love!", "Don't come any closer—it's a bomb!", etc.' (I fell down on this one, too. There are fairly common phrases in here, but none of them are gratuitous, per se)
5) Comedy. This is meant to be a parody-type challenge (Well, it isn't slap-stick, but I think there is humor in this piece)
1) portrayal of the events during said one-night stand. If story is rated M, it cannot be for sexual reasons (innuendos are allowed).
2) lasting moments of grief.
3) fantasy-based things. Like, the Female Action Hero can't recite the poem to unlock the gate to a magical world, or whatever. Strictly realistic (or, as realistic as parodies can be).
Challenge #14 – Possession (you could say that this is really the challenge I'm submitting for)
Plot: Character #1 is madly in love with Character #2 (check). Character #2 is secretly in love with #1, but doesn't think it will work out so #2 vehemently rejects any of #1's advances (check). #1 becomes discouraged and disappears (Character #1 does, if you think about it). #2, realizing what he/she's lost, is now the chaser (check). And you can take it from there. :)
1) Bucketloads of sexual tension (I think so)
2) Use of the quote: "You're mine. And I'm yours. It's a whole big possession thing. Point is: I love you." (I'm proud of the way I incorporated this one)
3) Main characters must be adults, out of their teenage years (done and done)4) Must be no more than 2000 words (okay, I failed this one. This thing is over 11,000 words)
No: (There are none of these things)
1) Teenagers or younger as the main characters.
2) Use of the following actions: sighing, gazing, or trembling.
3) Supernatural aspects—no faeries, vampires, or other-worldly beings. Realism, please.
He had written her another poem. Standing up on that creaking old stage in the back of the club she had been frequenting for nearly as long as she had lived here, gripping the microphone stand instead of the device itself and holding on so hard his knuckles bleached. Sometimes he would let go just long enough to gesture, so jerkily nobody could tell what it was supposed to mean. His bright blue-green eyes were glazed, and every once in a while she saw him sway like he was drunk, except she knew he didn't drink. If he was under the influence of anything, it was his own passion. And boy, did he have a lot of that.
So you want to be a hero
You want everyone to know your name
You want to see yourself up in lights
We'll exist with only the clothes on our backs
And what we can beg from everyone else
And we'll talk and we'll talk
And we'll do and we'll do
And nobody'll care
But that's okay
We'll keep going on anyway
Because we're heroes like that
Some days he had to tell her the poem was dedicated to her, but this was not one of them. He couldn't have made it more obvious if he had ripped off his shirt and tattooed 'This One's For You, Veronica' right across his chest.
Come to think of it, he would probably do that if she suggested it.
His voice rose and fell, sped and slowed with the strange, irregular tempo of the poem, but somehow it worked. Somehow he made you like how he spoke, made you listen to what he said. He looked like an idiot, but this was what he loved and because of that he was invincible.
Her fingers tightened around her chilly, slippery glass of rum and coke. The ice clinked from the teeny shift on the soggy cardboard coaster. He was such a great, stupid fool, but she couldn't stop watching him.
Let's hike to the rooftops
Let's scream out like banshees
Don't be afraid that nobody's going to hear you
'Cause someone will
After you're dead and gone
In the meanwhile
Let's sling into our capes and fly 'round this town
Let's leave our realities behind
You can clean someone with your soul
Scrub them until they're so raw they forget themselves
Snap the chains that hold them here
Give them that fresh start
Don't worry about the stains on you now
Because you are a hero
The lights were dim and flickering, and they were on opposite sides of the room, but his eyes slid into hers anyway. Slipped into her stare like that was where they belonged.
She didn't know if one went up or the other went down, but her heart and her stomach met all the same. Her breath caught. At this one shared look her whole body seemed to come alive. The blood coursing through her veins, the movements of the other patrons in the club, even the particles in the air—she was hypersensitive to them now in ways that she had never been two seconds ago. It was like a buzz, like a high, like it was meant to be.
It wasn't meant to be, though, because it just wouldn't work. Why couldn't he see that? Why couldn't he understand that she wasn't allowed be tied down to anybody?
And nobody said being a hero was easy
Nobody said it was fun
But it's glorious
But it's golden
As long as you can survive the ride
And if you can't, you're not alone
There are more fallen heroes than you think
Beaten and defeated
Some don't know how great they could be
You know more than anybody
You're gonna touch someone some day
You're gonna open somebody's eyes
And when you do I want to be there
I want you to know that you're the only hero I'm looking for
He ended this poem with valiant flourish, voice barely above a whisper and focus still glued on her like kindergarteners' fingers were glued to the inside of their nostrils. There was moderate applause from the audience, which was actually impressive since he was a regular at open mic nights and the regular patrons hardly responded to anything.
It took some effort, but she finally forced herself to look away. She tugged her iPhone out of her purse and started looking through her call log and text messages—maybe someone had tried to contact her and she had missed it or something. She even checked her email.
Why was it that, when all you wanted was a legitimate excuse to leave, nothing presented itself? There had to be something in Murphy's Law about that.
Sure enough, as soon as he had tromped off the stage and gotten himself a raspberry iced tea at the bar (it was his favorite, but in her opinion it was fruity for multiple reasons) a chair scraped into place beside her. "So how was that one?" he asked her.
She had to refrain from groaning in exasperation, although it probably would have been better than acting on the impulse to climb into his lap and devour him with her tongue.
What? He was her type, and she was still in her prime. Horniness didn't only affect teenagers and kids in college.
She merely raised her glass and deadpanned, "Hear, hear."
To her complete and utter indignation he snatched her drink out of her hand and sniffed it. "Yesh—do you have something against your liver, Veronica? Because I think you do."
She scowled and ripped her drink back out of his poetic, vegetarian, non-alcoholic hand. "Not everybody gets drunk on words, Aubrey."
This positively horrified him. His eyes widened and everything. "No. I didn't really look drunk, did I?"
"'Fraid so," she said, sipping at her cocktail.
"That's horrible! I wasn't supposed to look drunk!"
"I'm sorry to hear that?"
"Christ, no wonder you didn't like it. It would have been so awkward if a drunk-looking person tried reciting a poem to me." He leaned on his elbows and ran his hands furiously through his wavy flaxen hair.
The sight yanked at her heartstrings, and it took some willpower not to do anything about it. "Oh, get over yourself—you always look like you're drunk up there."
Aubrey's head shot up, expression suddenly hopeful. "So you did like it?"
What the hell was this? She insulted him and he acted like it was a comfort.
He opened his mouth, and then visibly changed his train of thought to say, "So do you want to do something next week? I don't know, maybe dinner and a movie or something? A walk in the park?"
He asked her this every week. What made him think anything was going to change? "No, Aubrey, I really wouldn't."
"Why not?" He leaned on his elbows again, only his chin was propped up by his palms and his hair was tousled and his lips were so, so unguarded right now. His knee bumped into her thigh and all of a sudden she had to hide the goosebumps erupting on her arms.
God, what she wouldn't give to be a different person right now, someone who didn't have to mind giving in to him.
"Because Veronica isn't even my real name. You don't know anything about me, and you're stupid enough to think you can make a move anyway," she said tersely. "It's a waste of everybody's time."
Technically the first part was true: Veronica wasn't her real name. This wasn't really her true personality, either. It was all a part of her occupation, and she couldn't have gone against it if she tried.
She wasn't sure she wanted to try, either. Not after what had happened the last time she lost control around Aubrey.
"What is your real name, then?" asked Aubrey. "I want to know."
Wouldn't he, though? He had been trying to get a date with her for months now. She had no idea what was preventing her rejections from permeating his thick skull.
"It's not going to make a difference."
"What if it does?"
"Okay, how's about this." She leaned on her forearm and leered at him. "You get a real job, and I'll consider going on a date with you."
He blinked, stunned, and then he burst out laughing. For a moment or so all she could understand was "Get a real job—hahaha! Hahaha, get a real job…" She couldn't see what was so funny, but she didn't do anything but take a few large gulps of her rum and coke and wonder if maybe that would help clear things up.
When Aubrey finally got a grip on himself he said, "Listen, that's never happened, and it's never going to. I don't care how much I like you, the monotony of a real job would still kill me."
Admittedly, envisioning him in something like an office job, without all of his color and spontaneity, did make him less desirable. That was mostly because he was much better suited to wearing t-shirts that showed off his lean form. She remembered only faintly what it had been like to touch him, running her hands through his soft, wavy hair and along his chest.
To be honest, she hated how vague the memory was.
She pretended she hadn't been thinking about anything too intimate while she watched him laugh some more. When he had calmed down she said, "Yeah, I didn't think so."
"Good," he said matter-of-factly. "Because if you had thought so I would have been in trouble."
Shit, she wanted to know why. She wanted to sit here and talk to him until the club threw them out, or at the very least drag him out on to the dance floor (which was slowly refilling, since open mic was now over) and rub their bodies together until she didn't know how to be alone anymore. And then she would haul him somewhere semi-private and crush him to her so hard they fused completely.
She wanted to do all of these things and then some, but she didn't. She simply took another sip of her rum and coke and observed him out of the corner of her eye, like Veronica would. "Oh?" she grunted, purposefully blasé.
Aubrey gave her a strange look, and then shifted in his seat until their legs weren't touching anymore. "Well, yeah, if you thought I'd change myself because I want your attention then it would just go to show how little you know me."
"I don't know much about you."
"That's only because you're being stubborn." And then he grinned, his blue-green eyes slipping into her with hardly any effort at all. They seemed to glitter, and it made her a little uneasy. What was he thinking?
God, the way his grin shaped his face was so hot.
"I think your stubbornness is sexy, though. Does that make me masochistic?"
"Probably," she muttered over the rim of her glass. Inwardly, however, she found his blatant honesty irresistible. Oh, what she wouldn't give just to lurch over and—
Okay, maybe she needed to lay off the alcohol. It obviously wasn't helping her maintain control. It had never helped, truth be told. The last time she had gotten drunk…
Well, let's just say that was where all of the distracting half-memories had come from. That evening had compromised a lot of things for both her and her career; she couldn't afford to let herself go like that again.
He laughed like she had just made a joke. This was usually how their conversations went. How Aubrey claimed to still be smitten was beyond her, because if their roles had been switched she would have gotten fed up with basically having conversations with herself a while ago.
So his persistence was attractive, too. Just a little.
Oh, who the hell was she kidding? If she had a different occupation she would have gone on a date with him by now. Were she allowed to do as she pleased, they would already be an exclusive couple. She would be able to maul those unguarded lips all she liked, would be able to plop herself down on those legs instead of a chair and refuse to move for anything. That lean body would be hers, and by now she would have memorized every crest and valley, been able to find every feature he possessed even if she was blind and deaf.
Unfortunately, her career wasn't the most flexible. She also wasn't at liberty to up and quit when she wanted to do something else; people actually depended on her.
"Hey, did you hear anything I just said?" Aubrey sounded a little annoyed. She couldn't exactly blame him for it.
God, if she were allowed to make it up to him she knew exactly how she would do it. As it was, however, her mouth opened and she nearly apologized. She didn't when she realized Veronica wouldn't apologize and changed the words at the last second.
"Not a thing." Veronica's personality wasn't the type to ask for an instant replay.
Her personality was, and therein laid the problem. She wanted to know what he had to say.
Before he could speak, however, her iPhone vibrated and beeped loudly. She got it out of her purse and checked the screen. It was a text, and a long one at that. She unlocked the phone via passcode to read the whole thing.
'Please report to—'
"Hey, what is that?" Aubrey arched his neck to try reading the screen upside down. "I thought we were having a conversation."
"Guess not," she said off-handedly, scrolling down the message and memorizing the important details as she went.
He sat back in his chair heavily, but said nothing. He knew better.
When she finished reading the text she deleted—erm, the custom-icon actually said terminate, but it was basically the same thing—and took a twenty dollar bill out of her purse. She slipped it under her drink's sodden coaster and pushed her chair back to stand up. When she did, the world seemed to shift about her almost tangibly. She pretended not to notice.
"When the waitress comes back tell her the money's there," she said, gesturing to the twenty. Then she started to turn. "Bye."
In her ears his chair scraped loudly, and his hand was gripping her bicep before she knew anything else. Her skin prickled uncomfortably at the contact, and her heart squeezed tightly in her chest. Please, please, she pleaded silently. Don't do this to me.
He didn't yank her around to face him. Rather, it was her traitorous body that complied with his gentle tug. He really needed to stop treating her like like she was some fragile dame he didn't want to frighten.
"You can't let them call you in when you're not even sober," he said quietly, for all appearances respecting her need for secrecy.
"I'm buzzed, not drunk," she said, yanking her arm out of his grip in a typical Veronica fashion.
"No." He grabbed her again, tighter this time. Not tight enough that she couldn't escape, of course, but it did show that he meant business. "Your judgment is skewed. You'll kill yourself just trying to get there." His eyes were too freaking vulnerable. She hated when he was concerned about her; it always made her feel like shit when the Veronica personality responded.
"Do I look like your daughter?" she said caustically, pulling herself away again. "I've done this a thousand times before, now back off."
She whirled around and made a grand total of two steps before Aubrey breathed, "Veronica…"
And, damn it all, her heart thumped hard enough for the whole world to hear. Her feet halted involuntarily (well, sort of), and she barked a "What?" as she faced him again. "I've got things to do, so let's make it snappy." She even clicked her fingers for emphasis.
He walked up to her without any trace of fear, and when he stopped he was way too deep in her bubble of personal space. All the while those soulful, poetic eyes kept her in the same place.
If she had any nemesis at all, it was those eyes. Aubrey honestly didn't know how much power he had.
Before she could stop herself her line of vision dropped to his lips. She couldn't help it, they were just so inviting,so there. He was only about an inch taller than her; it wouldn't be much of a stretch…
He started saying her fake name again, but she hated that that was the only name he knew. She grabbed the back of his head and mashed their mouths together so she wouldn't have to hear him say it.
At first he was too shocked to do anything, but the more she arched herself into him (and the harder she ground their lips together), the more he woke up. Her whole body was on fire with want, just because she was close to him. It almost didn't matter if he responded, because kissing him at all—and knowing that she would be able to remember it in full later—was enough.
He was about to reciprocate whole-heartedly when she felt a thought stiffen his shoulders. He pushed her back, eyes somewhat unfocused and mouth shiny with her saliva. When he spoke, his voice was a little breathy, "The only time you kiss me is when you're drunk. You can't go out like this."
"I kiss you when I damn well feel like it," she said harshly. "It's the best way to shut you up."
For a split second Aubrey was hurt, but then his eyes narrowed. "Does nothing I do for you make a difference?" There was danger in his voice. Red flags.
Her cell phone beeped again and she realized with a jolt that she had stayed too long. This was where the Veronica personality came in handy. "You know what? I don't have time to deal with your bitching right now. I'm gone."
And just like that, the door to the club was closing behind her. She didn't even look back.
The voting period for SKoW has already started, I know. I was finishing up this story while they were taking nominations and I didn't want to submit an ugly draft. I should probably hold onto this for a better time (like closer to the next round), but I was too excited. So I guess I'll have to wait for round 5. ;P
In other news, I'm absolutely loving the chemistry between these two. It's so much fun to write. ;D Am I the only one? What do you think her job is? Do you like Aubrey? Let me know!
Comments/questions/criticisms all welcome.