Unfortunately for Ordinary Man, his plan only half-worked. Oh, she was fired alright, but so was he. Their bosses hadn't thought his plan to get her canned was decent role model material. In a way, her sacking had almost been more honorable than his.
Steven would also probably throw a fit if he heard of her apathetic attitude. Even before Aubrey had been kidnapped the job had been stagnating. Now, a month later, she was glad she had been let go. There was no more security, gobs of money or fancy gadgets, but she was normal now. Well, as normal as she got, anyway.
It was funny; being a civilian was more exciting to her than being Ordinary Woman.
She put the last box of crap down on the bedroom floor with a grunt of satisfaction. Moving was a pain, but it was worth it to see the end results. This would be her room—not Veronica's, not Ordinary Woman's, hers. She liked the thought of that.
Actually, she liked the thought of being allowed to be herself the most. It felt like being naked in front of the whole world, and that was admittedly uncomfortable, but she was getting used to it. One of these days it would feel perfectly natural, like it had before she became Ordinary Woman. That was what she wanted.
She felt hands on her and almost defaulted to her violent façade, yet managed to stop herself at the last moment. She gradually relaxed as she touched those hands, tracing knuckles and palms with her fingertips to confirm who it was. No, she wasn't back to normal, but it was getting easier to be comfortable with another person.
"I'm almost done, I swear," she said for probably the twentieth time. "I'm just going to unpack this last box, and—"
"You've been at this all morning, and it's already one in the afternoon. Give yourself a break."
After a moment of indecision she leaned back and let her head fall onto that shoulder she knew so well by now. Her blood hummed pleasantly with attraction, and she wanted to simultaneously navigate her way over that body and stay this way for hours. Sometimes it still felt like she wasn't allowed to do this. She was getting better at letting that facet of her old life go, though; she was determined to keep pushing herself until it was as easy as breathing.
"Yeah, and if I stop I'll never get this done," she said, tilting until she caught a glimpse of jaw and lips. God, this was such a tempting angle.
"I'm sure you will despite the odds, Tash," Aubrey said, slipping his arms completely around her. "Man, it's still weird calling you that." He laughed softly.
Relishing the feeling of still having those arms around her, she twisted until they were face to face. It was a miracle, the way their eyes pierced each other so naturally. The electricity crackling between them, too—it was nearly palpable. She loved it. "It sounds great to me," she said honestly, bracing her hands on his arms. "Say it again?"
"What? Tash or Natasha?"
Gods above, he had no idea how sexy it was when he said her real name. "Either or," she whispered. "Just say it again."
"You have a serious fixation on names, you know that?" he said with a beautiful grin.
"You try being called someone else for twelve years and see if you don't develop a fixation."
"I'm not saying I wouldn't; I'm just making a statement."
She doubted that, but she pushed herself flush against him and made their faces closer all the same. "Just say my name again. Please?"
Aubrey's expression made it clear that this had never been a problem for him. She forgot that she wanted to remark upon that when, eyes still glued together, he dipped his head forward until their foreheads touched. "Natasha," he breathed. "Natasha, Natasha, Natasha."
If it was sad to feel her body come alive with shivers when he said that, then she was utterly pathetic. She touched the edge of his jaw and looked into him strongly, as if she could see his soul if only she searched hard enough. "You have no idea how much I love hearing that," she said in a voice meant his ears only. He was the only one she wanted to see her when she was this vulnerable.
"Don't I?" he murmured, pushing their mouths together in a very provocative, spine-tingling sort of fashion. Unable to help herself, she arched up and made the touch rougher than he had probably intended. She grabbed the back of his head and his hips and dragged him closer still. She couldn't get enough of him. She never wanted to.
Aubrey wasn't one to stress over changes in plans, though. On the contrary, he seemed to welcome it, synching his arms around her waist and tilting his head to the angle that always made her go crazy. God, he wasn't even trying that much and she was getting hot.
They parted lingeringly, breathing a little heavily. She felt as invigorated as she did coming out of an ice-cold shower, except showers didn't excite her like Aubrey did. "You know, how long you waited for me is ridiculous," she told him for probably the hundred-thousandth time.
He visibly brushed it off. "Don't have to wait now."
His mouth was flushed and shiny, and she adored the sight of it. Without even thinking she was touching his bottom lip. The way his half-lidded eyes followed her was sexy. "I liked you from the beginning, practically," she said, also for the hundred-thousandth time.
He puckered his lips to push her fingers away, saying lightly, "Hey, I think I've heard that somewhere."
She looked into him even deeper than before and asked, "The last few lines of that code-poem you wrote, was that just supposed to make it seem more convincing or did you mean them as-is?"
"Wait, that was a while ago. Which lines?"
"The last three. About the possession thing."
He was blank for a second, then comprehension dawned upon him. "Oh, that. Yeah, I meant it then."
Then? What did he mean, then? "Would you mean it now?"
Aubrey gave her a funny look. "I wouldn't mind hearing it," he said, but it was obvious that the statement meant nothing to him.
Her eyes fell for a moment as she gathered her courage, trying not to channel the determination of Veronica or Ordinary Woman. If she was going to do this, she wanted it to be wholly and truly hers, not her alter-egos'.
His gorgeous blue-green eyes were soft and waiting for her when she glanced back up. A little shyly, she put her arms around his neck and leaned into him until their torsos touched like they did when they were kissing. "Now I'm yours, and you're mine," she said, quiet but strong. "It's a whole big possession thing. Point is: I love you."
It's probably just me, but the sweetness of this chapter always makes me feel warm and bubbly inside. Besides that, however, I was trying to channel realism with the government's reaction to the disorderly conduct of their Ordinaries--but not enough to slap you in the face with it, of course, this is a purely gratuitous fluffy chapter. ;P Did I succeed? I thought Natasha's name was fitting, somehow, what do you think? Am I the only one who thinks this a cute chapter? Let me know!
And yes, this also marks the end of this story. Short, no? :D
Comments/questions/criticisms all welcome.