A.N: Hello all, just another one shot but this one is in response to ADOR's Star-crossed Prompt. As soon as I saw the picture it popped into my head. I really wanted to have a look at a dialogue based story as well as pay homage to my beautiful hometown (which I'm kind of missing at the mo). This fits a pretty well-known cliché of girl/ brother's best friend, which is always a fun one ;D Enjoy.
P.S: Working on Chapter 8 of HTKANYR and 3 of Missing Linc.
Pit Stops in the River City.
"You look like an idiot."
Those were the first words that interrupted my musings, as I looked up and down the mall for some person who resembled my brother; my sibling, my saviour and my taxi driver for the night. It's not a common greeting I'm used to on a Saturday night, but I will admit there are worse ways to be addressed. I whipped my head around at the familiar sounding voice and quickly recovered from both my pig tails slapping me in the face and the appearance of the person who was now standing casually in front of me; it was definitely not my brother. Aidan was my brother, Eli's, friend since childhood; they'd bonded on the sports field and had maintained the friendship into puberty and onto adulthood. Obviously he felt this connection to my family gave him the right to comment on my wardrobe in the current situation.
"A slutty idiot, but an idiot none the less." He corrected and walked up to me, giving a quick yet obvious once over of my outfit of choice; a cute but culturally inaccurate German beer maid outfit. Now I don't usually dress as a whorish fräulein, but my friend's Oktoberfest themed 21st birthday called for something more than my customary jeans and t-shirt. My costume had been considerably tame in comparison to other party goers; one who had decided to wear only a German flag to cover their modesty and another who had managed to find an exact replica of my costume only shorter, tighter and less inclined to cover one's nipples.
"Damn, I figured the Converse' smartened up the look." I joked, although the fact that Aidan was standing in Chinatown, instead of on a couch with my brother watching a football game had knocked me for six. I had made it a habit to avoid him at all costs ever since 'The Complication' (and yes, the apostrophes were necessary to highlight the gravity of the event).
He smiled and shifted his weight onto his other foot, looking cool, calm and collected in the process. "You can't smarten up an outfit that includes pigtails and a German beer hostess outfit."
"I'll agree to disagree. What are you doing here?" I asked casually, feeling the hem of my skirt magically shorten and my neckline gape at his continued stare.
"Eli didn't want to leave the game right away, so I offered to come get you." He shrugged.
I pursed my lips and blew out an exasperated breath, Eli bailing on me was not that much of a surprise, his preference for footy games, bars and loose women easily outmatched his concern for his sister's wellbeing. I couldn't blame him though, I'd happily bail on him in the same situation...supplementing the footy game for a theatre trip, a bar for the night time markets in Southbank, and loose women for loose men, of course. The sound of Aidan clearing his throat uncomfortably, snapped me out of my pensive silence. "Oh...Thank you?"
He nodded and gestured for me to follow him, I felt like a slutty German version of Dorothy leaving the bright gaudy lights of Chinatown and delving in to the unknown of an evening with Aidan. We walked under the warm red lanterns of the mall, striding past the dark exteriors and neon-lit interiors of the various shady clubs in The Valley. I was momentarily grateful for the added protection of Aidan's guiding arm as we squeezed through the crowd milling around the footpath; their mental states ranging from pleasant buzzes to almost catatonic. I shot a sympathetic look to the slow-moving but ever-extending line of clubbers at the taxi rank and followed Aidan into the parking complex, making sure to keep a safe distance between us; 'The Complication' required this measure.
'The Complication' between us had occurred one night after one of my brother's parties. Aidan had found it necessary to joke about my desire to start cleaning at one in the morning and I found it necessary to respond with a witty retort that didn't come out as intelligently as I had hoped. He smiled at me, I smiled back and then everything changed. I'm not sure who reached out for whom but for the next five or so minutes I was pressed up against the kitchen counter with my fingers tangled in his hair and his tongue pressed against mine. This was all fine and dandy until my hand had smoothed down his stomach and underneath his shirt and then it was all "You're Eli's little sister, this is wrong, bull shit, bull shit, bull shit." No one can say that I didn't try. In my defence, his hand was on my tit and there was an obvious surplus of double standards from his end.
"How was the party?" he asked over his shoulder as he beeped his car unlocked.
I rolled my eyes and slid into the car, my nose being assaulted by the scent of new car, Aidan's aftershave and a very faint odour of fast food. "Terrible. I hate clubs." I returned and clicked my belt in quickly, trying hard to keep my eyes straight ahead and not at the distracting male beside me.
"I know." He smiled in the dim light of the car as we exited the parking complex and immediately became embraced by the traffic.
"I don't understand the concept that accidentally making eye contact with somebody gives them permission to dry hump you." I muttered and played with the little satin bows at the top of my thigh highs.
He grinned at that and turned right, finally taking us away from the explicit debauchery of the Valley and into the much more implicit debauchery of the City.
"I'm always hungry." I returned, the food at the party consisting of a small selection of oil-drenched satay sticks and flaky party pies; not very appetising at all.
I turned fully in my seat and pinned him with a deprecating stare. "Don't you have somewhere to be?" Aidan was not one to stay home on a Saturday night, he shared my brother's credo that an hour not partying was an hour wasted.
His eyes were glued to the road but I was sure I garnered a quick sideways glance followed by a reluctant smirk. "No." He finally said and turned onto the Victoria Bridge, the continuous bump over the metal connectors creating a monotonous soundtrack to our conversation.
"Thai sounds good." I finally relented and turned back to face the river on my side of the car; the lights of the Cultural Centre and the CBD reflecting off the smooth brown surface of the water. It hit me that the last time I had been in such close proximity to Aidan; I had been enjoying the taste of vodka and lime on his tongue.
"How's uni?" He interrupted my thoughts and had me stirring uncomfortably in my seat.
"Good." I returned brusquely. Don't think about that night; don't think about how he just appeared at the kitchen counter with his bright eyes and sardonic grin.
"Work?" he probed further.
"Fine." Don't think about that night, don't think about how he was still smiling when you were moving closer and closer together.
"I don't want the politically rehearsed version, Annie." He scoffed and with that the mood in the car changed and I felt the familiar stirrings of hurt and annoyance build up in my body.
"Sorry." Don't think about that night, don't think about his lips. Shit.
He sighed. "I wish it wasn't like this."
I didn't even hesitate, I knew exactly what he was talking about and I couldn't bring myself to pretend otherwise.
"You made it like this." I returned lowly.
He hit the indicator more forcefully then necessary and turned into West End; the music, laughter and intoxicating aroma of the bars and restaurants pulsating through the car. "I didn't mean to-"
"But you did." I enforced with an uneasy smile.
"You have to understand where I'm coming from Annie. Elis's my friend and you don't hook up with your friend's little sister." It seemed as if he was trying to convince himself of that final statement more than me.
"I understand where you're coming from. It doesn't mean I have to like it." I returned and opened the car door as soon as it stopped, striding into the Thai take away shop and smiling cheerily to the small woman behind the counter. After ordering a stir-fried egg noodles for me and a Thai green curry for him we sat down into the plastic green chairs with the promise that our food would be ready in fifteen minutes. I cast a quick glance at the magazines on the small table but noting that more than one cover was gushing about the recent breakup of 'Brad and Jen' decided to give them a miss.
After ten minutes of silence which consisted of me death staring the wall in front of me and Ethan tapping on his phone, he let out a sigh and shifted in his chair, turning to me and throwing his hands in the air as if in surrender."I like to make sure all the labels in the fridge face forward."
I reluctantly pried my eyes away from the traditional Thai painting on the wall (the Buddha gracing it seemed to be experiencing constipation more than spiritual enlightenment). "What?"
He stood up to take our order from the smiling lady and opened the door for me. "I'm trying to break the awkward silence by introducing an obscure and unrelated subject."
I snorted and shook my head in mirth.
"See its working. I prefer to see you smiling."
I stopped and stared at him over the top of the car, my heart making its way back into my chest cavity from where it had jumped into my throat."Dangerous territory, Aidan." I returned simply and slid into the car.
After a moment of silence where the takeout started to burn on my lap and Aidan started up the car, I relented to his initial statement. "I like to make sure the labels face the front as well."
The sight of his grin was worth it and I had to stop my own as he reversed out of the parking spot and merged back into traffic.
We drove to the point which over looked the river and I commandeered the radio; switching the bubblegum pop of Nikki Minaj to Jukebox Saturday Night on the AM channel.
"You don't like music from this century?" he asked and took the plastic container and cutlery I handed him.
"No, I don't mind a bit of booty shaking music but it's Saturday night." I snapped the lid of my own container and inhaled the amazing amalgamation of scents; the smell making me remember how hungry I was.
I took a moment to swallow my mouthful of noodles and vegetables. "- and you listen to Jukebox Saturday Night on Saturday night, everyone knows that."
"Sure thing." He noted and turned it up, Jerry Lee Lewis tinkling the absolute crap out of the ivories. We sat in silence and watched the river; the CityCats and ferries making their way along the brown winding water. I love the city, the lights and even the smell that seemed to permeate the air when you were high up, it wasn't as big as other cities, or as fancy, or as dirty, but it had everything you wanted and to me it was absolutely beautiful to look at. I was totally enamoured by it as I reached down for my drink and bumped hands with Aidan. Muttering a quick apology, I subtly scooted a bit closer to the door.
I looked up and met his furrowed gaze as he looked at me, the car door and the noticeable span of material on the car seat. Returning his gaze to me he shook his head exasperatedly.
I sighed and chewed nervously on my straw. "I don't know how to act around you. One minute I want to punch you in the kidney and the next..."
He chuckled darkly and shot me a look over his Thai green curry and raised an eyebrow.
I took a careful sip of my lemonade and shrugged casually in direct contrast to the nervous somersaults that my stomach was doing. "The next minute I have to stop myself from touching you because I know if I do, I'll want to kiss the bejesus out of you."
He sighed and shook his head, placing the container on the dashboard. "This is really hard."
I merely cocked one eyebrow in response. I refuse to dignify that statement with a response.
"You wearing that costume doesn't help much either." He added as an afterthought.
My other eyebrow rose to be reunited with its counterpart. "I thought you said I looked like an idiot."
"A slutty idiot." He emphasised and it was hard not to miss his gaze dropping from my face to my chest and then my legs.
I felt warm all over and I was pretty certain the Thai food had nothing to do with it. "A slutty idiot who is your friend's sister."
"Yep." He turned back to the dashboard and picked up his empty container, placing it into the bag along with my own empty one. His eyes darted to mine quickly before he pushed his door open.
"And if I wasn't?" he paused, half in half out of the car and seemed to ponder that scenario for a moment.
"I'd be on you like white on rice." The tone of his voice was so serious I had to stop myself from emitting a nervous giggle, so I did the next best thing...
"Yeah." He returned, sliding out the car and making his way to the public bin, tossing the bag in and striding back. The warm spring breeze caught up in his shirt and his hair and I rolled my eyes at my own appreciation of his fine form. The level on which I found him attractive was bordering of fan-girl.
"We have all the makings of a Shakespearean Tragedy." I muttered.
"A rose by any other name-" He leant back in his seat and squinted out the windscreen to the dimly lit path.
"Don't start quoting Shakespeare I won't know what to do with myself." I mumbled, dropping my head into my hands, it seemed that every menial thing he did had a way of making me want to show him how easy it was to take off my lederhosen.
He chuckled. "That's the only line I know."
I straightened in my seat and shot him an amused stare, continuing his attempt at Juliet's monologue. "So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd, Retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title. Romeo, doff thy name ...um... And for your name- I mean- that name which is no part of thee, take all myself."
He stared at me for a moment, before shaking himself out of whatever reverie he was in. "That was hot."
"Huh?" I smiled widely, revelling in the fact that while most girls would swoon over recitation of prose, it seemed to have a similarly profound effect on the man in front of me.
"Ice cream?" he asked quickly.
"Sure." I nodded slowly, clicking in my seatbelt.
He snapped his head to the front of the car and jabbed the key in the ignition. "Movenpick?"
"Is there any other kind?"
Aidan continued to face forward during our journey to the ice creamery, absent-mindedly tapping his fingers on the steering wheel and occasionally clearing a lump in his throat. As we surveyed the glass case and I pretended as though I would consider any other flavour then my usual, I pondered over the fact I probably deserved more than the 'your Eli's sister' excuse. I had known friends who had dated their brother's mates and I knew for a fact that the reason my old schoolmates glared at my brother was not a result of me bitching about his tendency to leave empty cartons in the fridge. What was it about Aidan and my particular pairing that he thought so catastrophic? I was determined to find out as we took our ice creams out to the street and sat on a bench overlooking the lively pedestrian scene.
"So why does it say in the bro code that you can't date your friends sister?" I enquired, digging my spoon into the meringue and cream goodness and savouring the texture and taste of the frozen and churned dairy product. I noted quite amusedly that throughout all the pit stops this evening, not one person had given me a strange look due to my German attire. With the amount of pedestrian traffic going past the most I received was a second glance and I smiled down at my ice cream at the fact that the weird and wonderful was the norm in this part of the city.
Aidan looked up from his own dark chocolate scoop and thought for a moment on my question. "Well despite your age your big brother is always going to see you as the annoying little girl he shared his childhood with. You're not really female or a sexual being to him-"
"Thank Christ." I grinned around my spoon and turned to look at him, his eyes were locked onto my mouth
"So if we were to date- if- he would have to accept the fact that you are actually a girl and that would be awkward for him." He finished and stuck his spoon into his mouth, his eyes closing momentarily at the taste and causing me to consider licking him.
"Right." I nodded, simply churning my ice cream over and over in the small tub.
"Also if we dated and we broke up then our friendship would have to be over and he would feel the need to beat the shit out of me for hurting you." He shrugged.
"What if I hurt you?" I pointed my spoon accusingly at him and waved it for effect.
There was something else behind his smile, but before I could decipher it he merely shrugged. "Well he wouldn't beat the shit out of you; I'd still get a thrashing."
"Would you hurt me?" The instant I asked the question I knew I didn't want to know the answer, either way I'd be hurt and angry and unsatisfied.
He paused and smiled softly, making my fingers itch to grab onto his. "No. Never."
I rolled my eyes and threw the tub in the bin, I walked back over to his car and waited for him to unlock door. "Wrong answer."
"You should be doing and saying things to make me hate you."
He relocked the door and leaned on the side of the car. "I don't want you to hate me."
"Then you're a masochist...Which actually makes me hate you a little bit." I shot him an annoyed smiled and pointed purposefully down to the door handle.
He stared long and hard at me. "I don't want you to hate me." He repeated again.
I let out a frustrated sigh and couldn't help but bite out the next statement. "Well, liking you isn't doing either of us any favours, is it?"
I returned his hard gaze with one of my own, the moment dragging on until the click of the automatic lock allowed me to wrench open the door and slide in, clicking my belt in and turning my body to face the window.
"Take me home, please." I ground out, sick of feeling the burn of his stare in the back of my head.
"I need to make one more stop."
"Fine, whatever." I sighed and slid down the seat, crossing my arms and taking on the universal stance for 'leave me the fuck alone if you want to be able to reproduce one day'.
We drove for about ten minutes, before he pulled up in front of an apartment complex that looked mildly familiar. I nodded stoically as he relayed he would be back in a minute and tried not to watch his progress as he quickly strode to the stairwell. It was incredibly frustrating to be mad at a person and still be ridiculously attracted to them.
I had just one my second round of 'Scramble with Friends' when Aidan came striding back to the car and wrenched the driver side door open, sliding into his seat and staring straight ahead for a few moments.
"Uh Aidan-" I was about to ask him whether he was okay or if he had stopped at this random house for some sort of illicit act when he slid his hand to the back of my neck and pulled me over the gear shift, latching his mouth onto my completely shocked one. After a few dazed moments I returned his ministrations whole-heartedly, knowing quite well that when he came down from this weird high we'd go back to how it was before. My hip was pushing uncomfortably against the parking brake but I ignored it and curled my fingers into the fabric of his shirt, turning my head slightly to the side and revelling in how he deepened the kiss in return. He tasted like Thai green curry and dark chocolate ice cream; not an overly pleasant combination but the things he was doing with his tongue made me think it wasn't half bad. He pulled away momentarily before placing one more, quick scorching kiss against my lips and sitting back in his seat; staring out the windscreen.
I was completely frozen, the parking brake making an indent in my hip and my fingers reaching out and grasping as though I was still holding onto his shirt. "What happened in there?"
"I just asked Eli what he would do if I went out with you." He nodded as though he couldn't quite believe the statement himself.
The statement was like a slap to the face and my arms instantly dropped down to grip on the seat. "Eli's in there? You drove to where he was to ask him if you could date me?"
I blinked slowly not knowing if the kiss was a final parting gift or an awesome predecessor to a relationship. "What did he say?"
"He just shrugged and said that it wasn't 1832 and I could do whatever the fuck I wanted to as long as I got out of the way of the TV. He said that if I hurt you he'd break my face, though." His mouth curved up into a slowly growing grin and the way he was looking at my mouth and leaning forward slowly alerted me to the fact I wasn't going to be talking for the next few minutes.
I placed a palm gently against his chest using the smart logical part of my kiss muddled brain to consider the reason why, after spending most of the night telling me all the reasons he couldn't be in a relationship with me, he had gone against his initial reservations. I was not about to forget that after a toe curling kiss...it would take at least 4 more to really make me amnesic. "Okay? Why the change of heart?"
"I don't know. Maybe because I can't resist a girl in lederhosen, who eats Thai food and thinks Converse' smarten up an outfit." His hand reached out and curled a finger around a strand of my hair.
"That's not it." I shook my head.
His whole hand slid back to grip on my neck and his thumb drew circles just below my ear. "Because you are annoyingly persistent, listen to music that hasn't seen the light of day in forty years and can quote Shakespeare perfectly?"
"Nope." I shook my head again but leant into his touch.
"Because I hate the thought of you hating me." He hadn't shaped that statement as a question so I knew that we had finally uncovered the catalyst for his change of heart.
I leant over the gearshift and pressed my lips to his softly, revelling in the fact that his returning pressure was just as languid; the promise of a lot more kisses of varying degree floating in the very minimal space between us. I drew his bottom lip between mine, before leaning back into my seat and facing the front; requiring all my self-control to act as though I was not as effected as I felt.
"Home, Jeeves." I smiled.
He blinked twice. "Right at this moment?"
"Yep." I all but chirped.
He blinked again and licked his lips. "No more pit stops?"
He paused and looked at me as if was about to drag out a snare drum and go 'buh buh tsa'. "You sure?"
"Oh Yeah." I nodded seriously.
He blew out a sigh and shifted uncomfortably in his seat, sticking his key into the ignition.
"I need to get home-" I smiled.
"Yeah?" he returned, raising a casual eyebrow and backing carefully out of the parking space.
"Yeah, my roommate is away and I need some help turning the labels the right way in my fridge." I turned to him seriously, my fingers sliding into his palm and intertwining with his.
The car jerked awkwardly with the sudden brake and I couldn't help but chuckle as he turned to me and grinned, his foot making fast friends with the accelerator.
From where I was sitting the city had never looked better.