A/n: I lied-it turned out to be six parts instead of five. Obviously. And now it's done. There's a good possibility that I MIGHT write a sequel, but probably not for a few months. Just keep your eyes peeled for it.

Anyway. Thanks for reading along and reviewing. I hope you enjoyed these characters as much as I have. And I hope you enjoy this last chapter.


THE GAMES WE PLAY

PART SIX

When I wake up the next morning, the first thing I notice is how bright the sunlight coming in through the window is. Which tells me it's either late morning or early afternoon.

The second thing I notice is that I'm alone in my bed.

That Marc's gone.

I stare up at the ceiling, biting down on my tongue. Why am I surprised? I mean, I should be used to it by now. Hook-ups that don't go past a night—it's what I fucking do. The sneaking off before the other wakes up so no one has to deal with the awkward, shitty morning after.

So no one gets the stupid fucking notion that it's going to be more than a once off.

After all, that's all I'm good for.

Or so I've been told.

Rolling my eyes at myself and at this fucking ridiculous situation, I kick the blankets off and head to my bathroom. I stubbornly keep my eyes from straying to the mirror until after I've taken a piss and brushed my teeth. What I see makes me exhale hard.

My hair's a tangled mess. My lips are still slightly swollen and redder than usual. I have bite marks and hickeys on my neck and chest. Faint bruises shaped like fingers on my hips, ass, and wrists. Scratches on my shoulders and down my back.

I watch my reflection as I reach up to touch the juncture of my left shoulder and neck, where there's a nearly perfect impression teeth. Where Marc bit me the second time he came, groaning and—

Throwing my hand back down to my side, I whirl away from the mirror and storm out of the bathroom.

The fucking fuck is wrong with me? The fact that Marc banged me and then left shouldn't make me feel like this. Shouldn't leave knots in my stomach or this emptiness in my chest. I mean, what the hell did I expect? That he would be different from the other guys I'd been with?

Yes, the most logical and truthful part of my brain says.

I sneer. 'Cause I'm fucking stupid for thinking that. I should have known better than to expect more than just sex. 'Cause that's all it was. All the flirting, the coming over here with pizza, booze, and video games, the fucking small talk—that was all just to get in my pants. And it worked. 'Cause I wanted to play the fucking game. 'Cause Marc knows how to play it right back. 'Cause I was the one stupid enough to keep it going even after I started to realize that maybe it wasn't just sexual attraction that made me want him anymore. That maybe it was more than that.

For me. Not for him, obviously.

I should have fucking known better.

With another self-loathing sneer and shake of my head, I leave my room without bothering to put clothes on. There are more important things I need to do. Like getting a fucking cup of coffee and a cigarette. Or ten. Or a maybe even a whole pac—

I stop dead in my tracks, my eyes glued to what's strewn across the hallway floor.

Marc's shirt.

Blinking, I pick it up. He wouldn't have left this here, would he? I mean, this is a perfectly good shirt that looks fucking amazing on him. He wouldn't forget it just because he was in a hurr—

The sound of a cupboard opening and closing from the direction of the kitchen catches my attention. I snap my head back up to stare down the hallway, my eyes wide with realization.

He's still here.

That thought makes my heart skip a beat and my stomach swoop. Which is a stupid respond, but it happens and I don't really care. I'm too busy standing there with Marc's shirt still in my hands, marveling at the fact that he didn't leave. But after a moment, that gets boring and I get curious.

So, I slip Marc's shirt on—only because it's kind of cold; not because it smells good or anything sentimental shit like that—and head towards the kitchen.

The sight that I'm greeted with is Marc leaned against the counter. In just his jeans. Drinking coffee. From my FUCKER mug.

And when he notices me, he smiles. He doesn't grin impishly. Or smirk, leer, or whatever. He smiles. Sweetly. Gorgeously. In a way that makes his blue eyes warm and inviting.

My stomach does that stupid swooping thing again, leaving me a bit lightheaded.

"Morning," Marc says.

"Morning," I echo back, my voice dazed. I blink a few times, trying to clear my head, and then frown slightly at him. "That's my mug."

"Yeah," he says, now grinning impishly. "And that's my shirt."

I feel myself flush a little, and the sarcastic words that I was going to say completely desert me. So, I just stare at him. For the first time in a long time, I feel uncertain and self-conscious. I've never been in a situation like this before. I don't know what to do.

Fortunately for me, Marc does.

With a soft chuckle, he sets the mug down on the counter before crossing my tiny kitchen until he's directly in front of me. Then, with another sweet smile, he takes my chin gently in his hand and tilts it up so he can press an equally gentle kiss to my lips. My eyes fall close and I sway into him without thinking. Marc chuckles again as he pulls his mouth from mine. I frown slightly.

No, no, no. What are you doing? Come bac—

Marc wraps his arms around me, pulling me into a tight embrace and nuzzling his face into the crook of my neck. "You're beautiful, you know," he murmurs a second later, against my skin.

My breath leaves my lungs in a whoosh and my heart begins to beat wildly. I'm feeling lightheaded again. 'Cause he said 'beautiful.' Not sexy. Not hot.

Beautiful.

Without me telling them to, my arms wrap around Marc's neck. But that's okay. 'Cause he's warm and smells fucking delicious.

And because you like him, adds the most logical part of my brain, in a taunting voice. I don't bother trying to deny anything or argue with it. 'Cause it's right. I do like him.

Fuck.

I shake my head, looking up at the ceiling in despair. How could I have let myself get into a mess like this? It never ends well when I fall for someone. I always get screwed over. 'Cause I'm always the one that gets too attached or fucking whatever and it fucking—

"Dani," Marc says abruptly. There's a peculiar tone to his voice that makes me blink and freeze. "Normally, I wouldn't do this. I've been fucked over enough the past few times I've tried. But I'm going to take chance here because you're different from all those other chicks I've been with. And I like that. I like you. So, let's go out."

"You mean on a date?" I ask carefully, keeping my voice inflectionless.

"Yeah."

"One that doesn't involve us getting naked and fucking for the entire night?"

"Well, in the beginning, no. I was thinking more like dinner at a restaurant, then maybe a movie or barhopping. But we can end it like that, if you want."

I pull back from Marc, just enough to give him a (fake) hesitant look. "I don't know," I tell him. "I mean, I've heard some things about you. And I'm not sure the sex was that great."

"Bullshit," Marc says with a flat glare. "It was that great—you know it was. Admit it."

I just smirk at him. Which makes him roll his eyes and huff. But then, he blinks, frowns a bit, and looks back at me with a questioning expression.

"What things did you hear about me?"

"Just that you're a lady-killer."

Marc's eyebrows rise. "And do you believe it?"

I shrug. "Maybe."

"All right then. Should I believe what I've heard about you?"

"Which would be…?"

"That you're a man-eater."

"Huh. That's interesting."

"Yeah…so?"

"'So' what?"

Marc rolls his eyes at me again. "Should I believe it?" he asks, and I sigh.

"It might be a little bit true," I confess, with a reluctant nod. "Just like I'm sure it is for you as well."

It's Marc's turn to sigh and reluctantly nod. "Yeah."

"Right," I say, once again feeling unnaturally uncertain. "So. What does that mean for this?" I motion vaguely between the two of us.

"Well," he begins, "either that it will be as amazing as the sex or it'll be a disastrous, hellish nightmare. I don't know which is more likely. But honestly I think we could work in our own fucked up sort of way. So, I'm willing to risk it." Marc gives me that sweet smile again. "Are you?"

I stare at him for a very long time, searching his gorgeous blue eyes for any signs of bullshit or ingenuity. When I see none—when all I see in earnestness and hopefulness—I nod.

"Yeah," I say a bit breathlessly. "I think I am."

Marc beams. Then, he smashes his lips to mine and kisses me deeply. I kiss him back, my head swimming. I can't believe I just agreed to this, but…maybe it'll be okay. Maybe it'll be different this time. 'Cause Marc's different. He's…he's…

A really good kisser.

I whimper, unable to help myself, as he plunders my mouth with his tongue. Marc laughs and steps away from me, breaking the kiss. But not without pecking me once more first.

"C'mon," he says afterwards. "Have a smoke with me."

"All right." I nod. "Just…give me a second. I need coffee."

Marc smiles and nods back, grabbing his coffee—still in my FUCKER mug—and heading towards the balcony. I watch him go for a few seconds, smiling vaguely, before turning my attention towards getting another (less awesome) mug from the cupboard. I fill it and take a sip, only to jolt, blink, and then grin foolishly as an incredulous laugh escapes my throat. 'Cause it actually tastes good.

'Cause, for the first time in a long time, the coffee isn't disgustingly bitter.

Fin.