One Shot - The EllieFin in the Cupboard
He was perfect.
The most beautiful man I'd ever seen.
I clutched my hands to my chest and felt my heart skip a beat. How were people just going about their normal party ways when there was such flawlessness right before their eyes? Didn't they see how poetic the line of his jaw was? Didn't they admire how the light catching his blonde hair made him glow like the god he quite clearly was? Didn't they know they were supposed to be swooning?
"Hey, Jaffy, don't stop in the middle of the room, I'm trying to get past here."
I was broken out of my trance as a tall, ice blonde girl brushed past me, turning to send me an imperious, frosty glare which only intensified as she realised just which 'just another fucking first year' she was talking to.
"Oh God, you again."
She couldn't have been more than a year or two older than me, but the way she was looking at me made me feel like I was a snot covered toddler and she was an adult telling me to wipe my dribbling nose. It wasn't a nice feeling at all; she was totally killing my buzz from my perfect man sighting.
"Look, I really am sorry about spilling my drink on you," I apologised, for approximately the millionth time. And I was sorry, although I probably would have been sorrier if she hadn't been such a total cow to me even after I'd apologised and offered to pay for her dry cleaning.
"Sorry doesn't bring back my favourite pair of white jeans," She snapped, "I had to go home and change and now I can't find my boyfriend anywhere."
He's probably hiding, I thought bitchily, and who outside of a pop video wore white jeans anyway?
She stormed off and I waved cheerily and stuck my tongue out at her back. I wasn't going to let some snobby witch get me down, I had my future with Mr Perfection to plan after all.
I looked back over to where he was standing and felt my blood run cold as I saw the erstwhile white jeans wearer herself smile warmly (but completely fakely, I'm sure) at the future father of my children and go over to stand next to him.
He then, horror of horrors, dropped a kiss on her lips, put an arm across her shoulder and they began talking.
It looked like she'd found her boyfriend then.
Nooooooo! The love of my life had a girlfriend? A horrible white jeans wearing girlfriend who hated me? This was awful!
To make matters worse (yes, even worse than my entire made up future crumbling to ashes in front of my eyes) they were looking over my way. She was probably telling him all about my clumsy moment where I'd gesticulated a little too wildly while chatting to that nice IT degree guy in the kitchen and knocked my raspberry alcopop all over her.
It could not be borne! I would not be known by my one true love as a ditzy alcopop drinker who had stained his girlfriend.
Looking around wildly I noticed a small door to the left under the stairs. As far as escape routes went it was a pretty poor one. The door presumably opened to a small cupboard with no convenient tunnel leading straight to the kind of 'the love of my life has a girlfriend' purgatory I deserved, but it was better than nothing.
Making a snap decision, I launched myself at the door, throwing it open, diving through the gap and slamming it quickly behind myself. I then froze for a second waiting to see if there was a sudden babble of 'hey, some weirdo just jumped into a cupboard' from the other party-goers. All I could hear, however, was the continual thump of music and someone telling his mate that tonight he was going to go off 'like a frog in a sock', so it looked like I'd got away with it.
Relieved, I turned to survey my new, cramped, surroundings and then let out a surprised yelp as I saw that the cupboard was already occupied.
The cupboard occupier flicked a dark curl out of his face and looked up at me seriously before pulling an imaginary cigarette out of the corner of his mouth, exhaling non-existent smoke and saying in a deep, gravely voice,
"Of all the cupboards in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."
"Well hello there, Bogart," I gasped, putting my hand against my chest where I could feel my heart fluttering wildly from the shock I'd just received. "You scared the hell out of me."
He stubbed out his non-existent cigarette on his palm, and smiled apologetically.
Although it was really quite roomy in the cupboard under the stairs, (what had that Harry Potter kid been complaining about?), I couldn't stand fully upright and was getting a crick in my neck so I gestured to the floor and asked, "May I join you?"
"Be my, or whoever's house this is, guest," He said graciously and, relieved to not have to stoop anymore, I slid down the wall opposite him, kicking my legs out as I did so.
My fellow cupboard dweller was clearly tall, his legs were bent while I could stick mine out straight without any hassles. For some reason, I liked him more for the fact that he verged more towards the awkwardly gangly than the coolly lithe.
A bare, low wattage bulb hung from the middle of the room and cast a dim yellow light into the cave-like space and there were piles of boxes and paintings stacked against the back wall.
"It's got a bit of a Narnia complex this cupboard." I remarked when I'd finished looking around. "Bigger than you'd think from the outside.
He lifted a large pink plastic cup that merrily proclaimed 'Happy Bat Mitzvah' up from beside him and took a thoughtful sip of the contents. "I was thinking more the TARDIS," He finally replied.
"I suppose that's the difference between boys and girls," I pointed out absentmindedly as I nosily peered into one of the boxes and saw nothing but an old, paint smeared sheet.
"Wait a minute, that's the difference between boys and girls?" I looked back at him as he shook his head in bemusement, making the curl he'd moved before fall back across his forehead. "Well, there goes the need to study for my human biology exam."
I grinned, liking this stranger with his warm brown eyes and cup that announced he was a 12 year old girl.
"So," he shifted slightly, turning his body to face me more, "who are you then?"
"Ellie Jones," I held my hand out and he enveloped it with one of his own, shaking it firmly, "Nice to meet you."
"Likewise. And what brings you to this cupboard, Ellie Jones?"
"Fate," I answered decidedly. "I've just discovered the love of my life out there," I gestured towards the cupboard door through which muffled sounds of the party were permeating.
"Ahh, fair enough." He nodded understandingly and took another sip of his drink before adding, "Far be it for me to comment upon how you're going about things, but if the love of your life is out there," he tipped his head at the door, "what are you doing in here?"
"Well there are complications," I sighed pulling my ponytail over my shoulder and playing with the ends, "well, just one actually. The love of my life appears to have an evil witch from hell as a girlfriend."
"Stupid of him," He commented and I nodded enthusiastically.
"Yes, I thought so too." I agreed.
"Just to clarify," his lips twitched and I caught a glimpse of a small dimple on each cheek, "he has no idea you exist, does he?"
"Nope, none at all."
We both smiled, and I felt an unexpected glow warm my cheeks.
"The love of your life, though, that's pretty cool," He said obviously misreading my surprise at the sudden rush of blood to my head as sadness over not knowing the guy I was in love with.
"I think that calls for a toast." He pulled another luridly coloured cup like the one he was holding out from behind him and sloshed some of the liquid he was drinking into it. "To the love of your life realising Ellie Jones is the only one for him."
He held the cup out, but I hesitated, all the horror stories about accepting drinks from men at parties rushing back to me. He saw my uncertainty and, after a moment of confusion, understanding dawned.
"I promise you it's only coke spiked the traditional way, with a healthy splash of gin," He reassured me, "But, obviously, if you don't want any it's cool."
Any of my suspicions evaporated instantly. Every single one of my instincts gave him a rousing recommendation, not to mention he'd tipped the drink from his own cup, it'd be a strange date rapist who spiked his own drink. No, I decided, the only thing I had to worry about was back-wash.
"You don't look like the sort to back-wash," I announced happily, taking the cup I was offered with a beaming smile.
"Thanks very much," he replied, looking proud to be given this endorsement
I bumped my cup against his and repeated, "To the love of my life realising I'm the only one for him. And happy Bat Mitzvah!"
I took a large slug of the drink and was immediately wracked with winded coughs as the liquid burnt its way down my throat.
"Hey, are you alright?" He asked in concern, leaning over to pat me gently on the back.
"Fine," I choked, wiping the newly-sprung tears from my eyes. "That's just either one very healthy splash of gin, or one very sickly splash of coke."
"Hmm," he peered down into his own drink and then remarked philosophically, "Which might explain why I've been stuck in this cupboard for so long."
"Of course, how self-involved have I been?" I looked down at my cup wondering whether I should give it another try and then set it aside, deciding then and there that hard liquor was not for me, "What's your story, Bogart?"
"Other end of the romantic spectrum to yours, I'm afraid," He explained mournfully. "I was dragged here by my step-brother and his girlfriend and pretty much immediately spotted a girl I completely humiliated myself in front of last year. I said I'd stash my step-brother's coke and gin in here and then decided to hide out until I was sure that girl had gone past. Then I discovered these cool cups…" he shrugged as if to say 'and the rest is history'.
"So, just to clarify," I copied his words from earlier, "the gin, coke and cups are not actually yours?"
"Nope, not at all," He grinned cheekily, and any disapproval I might have felt from him stealing his step-brother's stuff disappeared. "But, in my defence, I brought a 12 pack which I left out in the kitchen for people to help themselves to, so I reckon the party gods will be appeased."
"Well as long as the party gods are appeased, it's alright then," I said seriously. "Otherwise they would have sought divine punishment through making you scull ten beers and streak or something."
He laughed then and I loved it. It was a real laugh, uncool, rumbling and completely honest. It made me laugh too just because I liked it so much.
"You're good fun, Ellie Jones," He informed me and I felt ridiculously pleased to hear that he thought so.
"You too," I went to answer in kind and then faltered. "Oh my God," I exclaimed reddening at my lack of manners, "I'm so rude, I don't even know your name!"
"All good," he said good-naturedly, "My name's Fin."
"Fin?" I repeated, "That's interesting."
Suddenly dipping into a rich, lilting Irish accent he replied smoothly, "T'anks a million, me full name's Finbar, it's what you get when your parents have trouble leaving the old country behind." He dropped the accent, took a drink and added, "It's also what you get when your parents don't pay enough attention in Gaelic class, Finbar means 'fair-haired'." He pulled at a lock of his very dark hair to prove his point.
"Oh dear," I smiled, before glancing idly down at one of the paintings I'd just pulled forward to have a look at and letting out a little shriek of horror.
"Whoa, that bad?" Fin asked, craning his head round to see what I was looking at.
"No!" I turned the painting away. "Save yourself! I have beheld an image to curdle the eyes, I would not have you similarly damaged."
He obviously could read the disgust on my face as he said gravely, "I appreciate you taking the bullet for me then. Out of interest, though, what have my dainty eyes been shielded from?"
Shuddering slightly and feeling as if the dodgy amateur painting I'd seen was now branded into my brain I replied shakily, "Naked, naked, naked people."
"What? That sounds cool!"
And before I could stop him, Fin had reached out and turned one of the other paintings to have a look.
"Aaargh!" He shouted immediately, pushing the painting back as if it had burnt him. "My eyes! My eyes!"
"I tried to warn you," I said sternly as he clutched his hands to his face.
"Not hard enough! Why didn't you say it was naked old people doing dirty, dirty things?"
"Wow, do you think these are the parents of the person whose party this is?" I asked, my eyes widening at the implication.
"Holy shit," he swore, "can you imagine living somewhere and knowing there were filthy pictures of your parents under the stairs?"
"What if they don't know?" I suggested. "What if one day they couldn't find their cricket bat or something and they went looking for it and…"
I trailed off and we both looked at each in mutual revulsion.
"We have to put them back," He said fervently after a couple of seconds of silence. "If there was any justice in the world we should burn them, but I think for now we can only shove them as far back as we can and hope no other poor soul ever stumbles across them."
"I agree." I nodded and then we both shuffled around pushing the paintings to the back. "There's a sheet in that box," I added when this was done, maybe we can throw it over them so they're a bit more covered up?"
"Good idea, although-" Fin suddenly stopped, his hand frozen in the act of reaching out to open the box I'd indicated. "What if there's other eye-meltingly gross things in the box?"
"Shit, you're right." I looked at the box with a new apprehension and then back across at Fin who was biting back a smile, his eyes dancing.
"Hold it together!" I said mock-firmly, "This is serious."
"Right, of course," he made an effort to stop looking so amused, but I could still see a shadow of his dimples. "I tell you what, I'm the man here, I'll be the one to go in the box."
"No!" I protested, "It was my idea, I should be the one to risk it."
"It's alright, Ellie Jones, this is my mission. But," he reached over and clasped one of my hands which, I had to admit, was kind of nice, "if I don't make it out of this cupboard, tell my mum I love her and that I had the best Bat Mitzvah ever."
I felt a laugh bubbling up, but held it back to nod seriously.
"I will. Good luck."
He turned back to the box and I reluctantly released his hand so he could cautiously lift back the cardboard flaps.
I held my breath as he scrunched his eyes tightly shut then shoved his hands in the box, pulled the sheet I'd seen earlier out, and then used his foot to kick the box away in one swift move.
"Quick!" He said and I grabbed the other side of the sheet and we threw it over the paintings.
"We did it!" I turned to grin at him and saw that he'd done the same bringing our faces suddenly very close together.
My breath caught in my throat as I was suddenly able to see every little detail of him; the dark eyelashes, the freckle under his left eye, the faint stubble on his chin.
It was like being suddenly wrapped in a warm blanket and cuddled tight, nothing like the lightning bolt I'd experienced with Mr Perfection, but a million times better.
I saw him swallow almost nervously and then his face was tipping to one side and mine to the other and we were moving closer…
"What the hell are you doing?"
We both jerked violently in surprise and Fin smacked his head hard against the low ceiling.
"Ow," he muttered, rubbing at the point of impact before he turned, as I had, to see that while we'd been, um, distracted, the cupboard door had been opened.
Two people were looking in at us, but it was clear that the one who had spoken had been the blonde guy at the front who was wearing a pretty pissed off expression.
Oh well that was just fantastic…
I groaned quietly and felt, more than saw, Fin's eyes land on me. He considered me for a moment and then looked back at our audience saying,
"Love of my life? Evil witch from hell?"
He'd got it in one.
"What did you say?" Mr Perfection asked crossly as his girlfriend's mouth formed a perfect little moue of disapproval.
"Nothing," Fin shook his head disbelievingly, "Just trying out some new nicknames for you. Ellie Jones, this is my step-brother, Cameron, and his girlfriend, Rachel."
I let out a short bark of almost hysterical laughter and then tried to cover it in an ugly cough. Once I'd recovered I saw that their expressions had both darkened further and said feebly,
"Nice to meet you."
"She's the one who tipped her drink on me," the white jeans wearer Rachel said snottily, pointing at me.
"On purpose?" Fin asked me and I shook my head wishing I'd left my hair out so I could use it to hide my amusement at the hope in his tone.
"Come out, you freak," Mr Perfection, I mean Cameron, interjected at this point. "I told you to put my things in the cupboard, not hide in there like some kind of feral."
"The better alternative being hanging out with you?" Fin asked sarcastically, crawling out and then offering me a hand to help me up after him. "Hardly."
"Whatever," Cameron tossed his head slightly so his hair bounced and I frowned a little as I recognised this as a completely affected move. "We're going so if you're getting a lift with us get your shit together and we'll meet you out front."
Cameron and Rachel stomped off and I was nothing but pleased at their departure.
"So…." I pursed my lips and looked at Fin, remembering our 'moment' a few seconds ago and wondering whether it was going to be awkward now we were out of the cupboard under the stairs.
"Yeah, so…" He looked at me and I saw a sort of question in his gaze. For a moment I wondered what he was thinking and then I got it.
"The love of my life is sort of an arsehole, isn't he?" I asked with a grin and his expression mirrored mine as he nodded.
"Yeah, he sort of is," He agreed.
"Shame," I said lightly. "Never mind, I think I'll recover from my non-existent heartbreak just fine."
"Glad to hear it." Fin looked like he was about to say something else, but was interrupted as Cameron shouted over the heads of the other party-goers,
"Come on, you nong, we're going!"
"Right," Fin suddenly swung around so he was in front of me, a look of determination on his face. "I think you're kind of awesome Ellie Jones."
"Same goes, Bogart" I said sincerely, feeling my face go pink again with delight.
"So I'd like to hang out with you again," he said going a little bit pink himself. "Maybe even outside of a cupboard."
"Outside of a cupboard?" I repeated in mock disbelief, "That's just crazy!"
"Just crazy enough to work?" Fin asked and I bit my lip as the gleam in his eye made my stomach do a little somersault.
"Definitely," I agreed.
"Jesus Fin, I don't care if you bloody walk home you know," the shout came.
Fin let out a growl of frustration and then quickly pulled his phone out of his pocket. I did the same and we exchanged numbers quickly, our smiles as secretive and our looks as furtive as if we were kids stealing lollies.
"Okay," Fin said when we'd both logged each other's number away, "so I'll call you."
"That'd be good." My jaw hurt from smiling so much, but I didn't feel like I'd be able to stop any time soon.
We stared at each other for another charged second before he went to turn away.
"Wait!" I hadn't even known that I was going to call him back; the 'wait' had come from somewhere much more instinctive and automatic than my brain. As Fin turned back, however, my brain caught on and knew exactly what I was going to do next.
I took a step forward and then leant up to press my lips against his, pretty much trembling with joy as he immediately cupped my face and kissed me back.
It was short and incredibly sweet and I could see that he was as blown away by it as I was as we moved back from each other.
"See you soon, Ellie Jones," Fin said with a face cracking smile.
"See you soon, Bogart," I repeated, watching as he backed away, keeping me in sight for as long as possible before the definitely NOT love of my life hooked him round the neck and shoved him outside.
I gave a little girly squeal and spun around, the fateful cupboard under the stairs coming into view as I did so.
Leaning down I gave it a fond little pat on its wooden frame, straightening as I felt the phone in my pocket give a little buzzing cheep.
Pulling it out I saw that Fin's thoughts were the same as mine,
Best cupboard ever.
Ellie and Fin were my characters for NaNoWriMo last year and I treated them appallingly, shoving them into ridiculous situations and making them say horrible, cringe-worthy things. This is my apology to them. Pure fluff and written all in one go, I hope it makes you smile.