"I'm worried." Reina's voice was soft and slightly muffled from a large woolen blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She was sitting in a corner atop a small chair gazing out to the early morning traffic that littered the streets through the window of a familiar bakery. In the end she'd gone home and been unable to sleep, so much that she'd ended up coming to work with Haalen in the early morning hours for him to prep his store. Blue eyes shifting they found a familiar set of grey watching from across the room behind the display case; he was making two cups of coffee and preparing to cross the room to stand at her side. "You think he'll say anything or ignore it, Hal?"
"I don't know. Both are equally likely with his personality." Haalen walked over in thought and reached out to place a carefully crafted latte down in front of his fiance, and his own cup of black coffee beside it. Without waiting he leaned forward and wrapped his arms around the small mass within the caramel colored blanket and buried his nose in the curly locks that were hanging loose. The black head remained this way for a moment, squeezing as if trying to reassure the small girl within his arms before finally pressing his lips against her jaw carefully, "He's blunt but when it comes to his feelings he's not the straightforward type. He never has been."
Reina sighed and reached her hand up to grasp the black waves that were pressing against her skin, "Not everyone can be as up front as you are." As if responding to her the man's fingers were at her sides tickling lightly and drug a small laugh from her lips. It was melodic, as if she were singing without words, "Don't tickle me this early. You have bread baking and you'll be opening soon." Instead of drawing away the young vocalist leaned in and pressed her lips against the forehead of her companion, "Try and get off early tonight though, okay? I want to take you with me to dinner. Mom and Dad are coming from Tokyo for a few days."
Haalen grunted and allowed a frown to light his lips, "I'll go but if your Dad starts complaining about my line of work again ..."
Reina had silenced him with a kiss and upon parting gave his nose a small tap, "I've already had a long talk with him, and so has Mom." Giving the pouting male a small smile she leaned back into the arms still wrapped around her shoulders protectively, "Reid's birthday will be here soon; are we planning anything yet?"
The black head shrugged and reached for his coffee, finally standing and letting out a small yawn, "I'm making him a cake. Might talk to Maxwell about having an event at Orchid for him if I feel like it." Pausing to take a sip of the black liquid the Hawaiian shrugged and started heading towards the heart of his kitchen, "If he's not a brat."
Giggling Reina reached out to grasp her drink and hold it towards her center for warmth, "His birthday is already in two weeks ... time flies so quickly now." She seemed to have lost herself in thought for a moment for her blue eyes were locked on the outside world simply watching cars pass by. It seemed like they had all been in school such a long time ago ... it seemed like it had been such a long time ago that she'd been unable to come and bask in the warmth of the man in the next room. She thought for a moment before chuckling and gazing into her coffee, "We need to start planning our wedding soon you know ..." As if the ring upon her finger had began to burn the young woman fiddled with it, rolling the band back and forth as if she were nervous. "Laban ... I'm ready for your name already."
As if sent to break her from her thoughts a hand rapped at the window and forced her gaze upwards in confusion. Reina sighed and attempted to still her racing heart for the sound had startled her, "Jesus Reid you have a bad habit of popping up when people think they're alone." The words were spoken in a muttered tone, filled with annoyance as she stood and walked over towards the front door. Taking the time to unlock it she grasped the blanket around her shoulders tighter for a sharp wind had entered from the early morning air, "Sorry we're not open yet." Blue eyes narrowed in suspicion she wondered if she dared ask the producer about the day before.
Reid scoffed and shoved past her shivering, "You're always open for me. Scoot." Without waiting to be scolded he'd turned and closed the door, turning the lock as if he had a say in the shop's hours. For a moment the twenty five year old simply basked in the warmth that radiated from the kitchen as well as the heater blowing throughout the front of the shop. "Fuck it's getting cold fast this year." His chocolate eyes had taken to watching the world outside in the 6 AM air, after the walk here he'd started regretting his choice of outerwear and wished he'd grabbed a thicker coat than his leather jacket. "Haalen busy?"
Reina nodded and took another sip of her latte, "He's making bread in the back. We were just talking about you actually ... never fails the dark prince brings you." Seeing the man frown she stifled a laugh and started walking towards the back of the bakery, "Haalen! Reid's here!"
"Why the hell did you let him in?"
Reid hissed at the sharp voice from the back before calling out in response, "Because my little sister values my life and saw I was freezing to death!"
"Go turn into a snowman." Haalen retorted as he appeared finally, wiping at flour on his hands. He returned the glare he'd received with one of his own before nodding towards the few pastries already lined in his display case. "Go pick two out and I'll get your coffee. Isabella likes a lot of cream, right?" He'd already started walking towards the machines behind his counter and reached for two large to-go cups. Reid simply nodded and wandered towards the case to look over the limited stock.
Reina watched the two with a smile before settling down at one of the stools that were lined on the opposite end of the counter. They really did act like brothers ... Clearing her throat as she took another sip of her drink her eyes finally landed on Reid, brow lifting quizzically as the words spilled from her lips at a tempo that caused the man to shudder, "So, did you say anything to her? You acted rather selfishly yesterday you know ... probably scared her half to death with that stunt."
Haalen chuckled at the directness of his fiance's words and turned to watch the response as the coffee brewed. Reid however turned a light shade of white and tried to ignore the words. He took the time to point at a bear claw and an apple turn over before glancing to Haalen and muttering out, "One of each of those." When he'd been given an impatient look in response the producer grunted and shrugged finally, "What, you're on her side today? Both of you bullying me ... jeez."
"Well? Did you say anything to her?" Haalen pressed, already unamused by his failure at avoiding the topic.
Reid hissed under his breath before shoving a twenty from his pocket into the large tip jar set atop the glass display case. "For fucks sake, really?" Neither seemed to budge on the issue at hand for Reina watched with an unblinking scowl and Haalen held his pastries out of reach in ransom with a dulled expression. They weren't going to let him off the hook this time it seemed and ultimately brought a heavy sigh from the producer's lips. "It's not as if I can simply go 'Hey, Isabella by the way my heart goes BAHHH when I look at you.' or something. It's a lot more fucking complicated than that!" His words were short as he snatched the small bag and secured his coffee cups in one hand. The words alone seemed to have entertained Reina for she started laughing all the while Haalen gave him a look of disbelief.
"Did you seriously just say you couldn't tell her your heart sounds like a sheep?" Still not fully comprehending the words the baker watched in a state of uncertain shock. He didn't think his friend could be that ... well ... that stupid. As if the swift realization finally sank in the man pinched the bridge of his nose, "You're both idiots." Reina was still laughing as their childhood friend shot them a glare and muttered a few indecencies before turning on his heel to head out of the shop. It took a moment before the blonde finally calmed and crept to the front door to lock it once again, shaking her head all the while. Haalen leaned over onto the counter in defeat, "How is it that he's so fucking bright when it comes to music but when you throw emotions into play he's stupid as hell? I know Claudia raised him better."
"You're completely right, because if he'd turned out like her in that department then he would be married already." Reina smiled and leaned forward to press her lips to her fiance's head. "His brother took after their Mom and I think he took after their Dad in that department, and only this department. Every other second of his day he is more of his Mom than Claudia is." Haalen laughed despite himself and simply allowed the young woman to engulf his head in her warmth; he admittedly wanted to drag her behind the counter, far out of sights of the shop's windows and simply curl up with her beneath the blanket she still clung to. If only it weren't so late already, and if he hadn't wasted so much time already this morning before they'd left home. "Reina I want us to go to the mountain again soon. To the cabin."
This seemed to spark a light of pure happiness in the young woman's eyes for she'd smiled widely, "After Reid's birthday lets have a vacation."
At first I thought the pungent smell of cigarettes was a part of my imagination - one invading even my subconscious.
I didn't remember dreaming, nor did I remember moving from the spot on the floor in the living room.
All I remembered was the feel of your arms locked in place and a sense of security that scared me to my bones.
I was terrified of many things as we lay there until we fell asleep.
I was terrified that you were going to speak something, anything, that would cause my heart to falter.
Terrified of falling asleep because that would mean I trusted your hands that were so close to my beating heart.
Terrified of the warmth that surrounded me like a security blanket; one that calmed my shaking nerves.
That was probably what terrified me the most ...
The fact that as terrified as I was, I felt in the depth of my being I shouldn't have been.
Since when was the floor so comfortable?
It was warm and felt as if a large cloud were enveloping her that smelled of cigarettes, coffee, and a faint oak musk. These were not things she associated with the floor, but with the body that had been behind her upon the floor. This alone was enough to cause her eyes to jerk open and into the low lit room; it took her eyes a moment to adjust to the early morning sunshine that was slowly starting to creep above the skyline through the window but when they did she felt her heart skip. No, this was not a floor she found herself curled upon, but a bed in a familiar bedroom that had once been littered with boxes and held no life. Somehow the room felt lived in, and was now saturated with a lively glow from the void the unpacked storage containers had left. Izzy shifted and rubbed at her eyes a moment before glancing down as if to assure herself she was awake and not in a very lucid dream. The navy jersey knit sheets were real, much like the black linen comforter that she'd been curled within only seconds before. Her clothing, unchanged form the jeans and floral top she'd been wearing the day before were also real enough to stir her heart.
"Reid?" Her voice echoed in the empty room, one that she felt she was out of place within. It was strange, for it felt as if he'd just been within the bedroom's walls. His scent lingered in the air, or on the pillow she'd buried her cheek into; either way it felt as if his presence was near. As if brought forth by a sign the turn of a key in the front door followed by the low squeak the hinges made as it was opened and closed alerted her he was indeed home. Maybe he had not been, but not he was. The brunette tugged at the blankets in an attempt to block the low chill in the air, even with the heat on the Fall air seemed to slip through the cracks in the windows.
It took a moment but after a bit of shuffling, followed by a set of keys being dropped on the counter a familiar set of brown eyes appeared within the doorway. Izzy stared before giving her companion a small wave as if to alert him she was awake and alert; he looked tired as if he'd either not slept well or had woken many times through the night. When exactly had she been put in his bed? Better yet had he be curled up on the other side of it ... "Good morning ..." She dared not think of such a thing for her face would turn the color of a tomato and her ears would catch fire. Looking for a topic the young woman noticed the coffee in his grasp and sighed.
Reid noted her disgruntled frown and laughed before crossing the room to sink into a sit atop the corner of his bed, "I got coffee. Like promised."
Isabella took the cup that was extended to her with a low grunt, "The deal was I would make coffee in the morning, idiot."
So she remembered what happened then? He wasn't certain if it was a good or a bad thing honestly. Reid laughed nervously before opening the bag holding their pastries, "I got breakfast too ... bear claw or apple turn over?"
Izzy took a sip of her coffee before sheepishly stating, "Apple."
"Lucky guess on my part then. I ate the bear claw on the way back home." Reid smiled before reaching out to place the treat within his companion's open hand. Partially luck, and partially paying attention to her when they'd gone by for breakfast at the bakery. She always had gotten a warmed apple turn over with extra cinnamon on top ... it was something he'd teased her about once and said she was sassy enough already without the extra spice. A strange silence had befallen the room and the black head had taken to twiddling his thumbs while gazing through the window at the rising sun. "Sheets didn't stink too much, did they?"
Izzy shook her head before swallowing a bite she'd taken of her pastry, "No." She'd almost said that they'd smelled like him: like his cologne. Like the scent of the Camels he went through like he lived on them. Like the black coffee that he often kept filled in the empty mug on his desk. Like him, and like a warm spice that seemed to have appeared over the past few months. Somehow the stale smell of emptiness had all but vanished from the room and one could smell sunshine, and life. "Thank you for letting me use your bed." When had she been placed in it? How long had she used it? Where had he been sleeping the whole time? She wanted to ask.
"You drooled all over my pillow you know. You can wash it as thanks." Despite himself the words that were meant to joke came out forced. Reid's eyes remained locked on the rising sun, his ears ringing from the unsettling air that surrounded him in the room. Wasn't she going to ask? If she didn't ask about anything he couldn't say ... if she didn't ask he wouldn't get the chance to explain anything. "Did you ... um ... sleep alright? Zoey likes to hog my bed a lot so I was worried about her kicking you." He'd slept on the floor and watched the dog nearly push the young woman off countless times. They were all things he didn't know if she recalled for she'd passed out.
"I did." Izzy laughed lightly, catching the forced joke he'd tried to clear the air with. So, he felt the weight that was hanging there as well? Thinking a moment the brunette nodded, "She does that when she sleeps with me too, so I'm used to it. Um ..." She had to at least ask about how he slept. Where he slept. He looked as if he'd been awake all night thinking, or working again, when he'd been the one complaining about fatigue. "Did you sleep er ... alright?"
"Nah, not really. The floor isn't that warm by yourself."
A strange sound had caught in his words, and it was enough to drag the green eyes that had been locked on her feet upwards and to her right. The pair of chocolates were watching the sky still, shoulders dropped as if he were a child being scolded. Somehow he looked almost ... disappointed? Isabella thought a moment, watching in silence as if she were unsure if this were the correct word to use to describe his demeanor. Somehow she recalled the shaking his shoulders had done the night before, and the vibration that had riddled through her chest when she felt him screaming at the top of his lungs. Somehow he looked completely different, and lacked a luster that one would even consider such a strange event as the one that had passed possible. "Um ... Reid about yesterday ... what ... um ..."
Shit her voice was shaking and she didn't know how to ask.
"She wanted me back ... and I was fine ignoring her really." Reid's voice trailed off, eyes locked on the window still. "I was fine with just carrying your ass into the building and ignoring her until she started spouting nonsense. I guess I provoked her a bit though ..." Despite himself his eyes had snuck over, trying to catch a glance at the pair of green he'd felt upon him. Instead of watching him however he'd found them eyeing her feet in a mildly worried confusion. "She really didn't like seeing me carrying you like I was ... straight pissed her off like I knew it would." Without thinking he'd reached over and placed his hand atop the brown mass to ruffle the messy locks; this action alone had forced the green eyes up sheepishly. Her cheeks were red and she was embarrassed - she was biting at her lower lip like she did when she felt guilty. Laughing the twenty five year old glanced back to the window, eyes softening as they spotted the sun alighting the morning sky with oranges. "Sorry."
"Why couldn't I hear then?" Izzy whispered and settled for watching the side of her companion. His hair was messy and looked as if he'd yanked a hat from his head upon entering the apartment and failed to fix the few strands sticking up. "And provoking her willingly isn't very kind you know ..."
"Nah, probably not. I'm over protective and was admittedly a little worried that she'd rush you though to be honest. Besides ..." Pausing mid sentence the young man reacted to the fingers that had taken to smoothing his hair. Reid remained frozen a moment, caught off guard by the comforting motion before he dared to peek at the woman to his left. She looked worried and her cheeks were red as if she'd been outside in the sharp Fall air that blew through the streets. Without thinking his fingers had slipped a bit lower and started fiddling with a strand of her hair before taking the time to tuck it behind her ear. The action alone caused her to shiver for he'd felt her shoulders jerk lightly as his fingers lingered in place, "If you heard what I was yelling at her you probably would have scolded me, and I can't have that."
Isabella swallowed as she fought back the urge to shy away from his touch for it burned. Instead she withdrew her hand and reached up to give the index finger that lingered near her lobe a little squeeze. That didn't make it better for the feeling spread and felt as if a fire were raging through her hand and up her arm right into her ears. They were beet red and she knew it for she felt them burning and noticed a small smirk tug at the lips of her companion. He looked like he wanted to tease her about it but he refrained, and for this she was grateful. "I've scolded you before and you've survived fine. I doubt you even take it seriously when I scold you." Her voice was faint, eyes sweeping to fall back upon the coffee cup within her right hand. She started to pull her left away so she could take the top from the cup off and simply bask in the steam still filling the top. Instead though her hand wouldn't budge for it had been locked down by a pair of larger fingers and pinned to the bedside.
It was enough to draw her attention to the hand cupping her warmer one and force her green gaze to watch the cold digits. "Are you alright?"
"Not at all." Instead of watching the morning sky through the window, or the floor when Zoey had entered the room and curled up into a small ball the chocolate eyes were locked on his hand. Reid was watching his fingers in disbelief, as if he had not control over the fact that he'd grasped those of his roommate's so tightly they were shaking. Somehow it felt as if he hadn't grabbed her she'd have ran away, and it was unsettling. In stead of waiting for a response the producer took a breath and let it out slowly before speaking in a hushed tone as if he'd been punched square in the gut. "I'm overprotective, and selfish a lot ... this is selfish really ..."
If he said something she would break into tears. If he said something, no matter what it was she was going to shatter. Izzy took in a breath and felt her knees ache as if she wanted to force them to move and to carry her towards the bathroom that lay on the other side of the house. She wanted to run, and he knew it. He knew she wanted to run and that was exactly why he'd grabbed her hand and locked her in place on that bed. "Reid." Shit her voice was shaking. "I need to shower so ..."
"You can shower in a damn minute." Despite himself the words were sharp as they rolled off his tongue for admittedly she'd annoyed him with that line. She wanted to run, and it pissed him off. Dark eyes lifting they'd taken to trying to catch the shifting green; she was avoiding his gaze and trying her best not to look in one direction long. "Izzy, look here." Nothing, she still let her eyes flit across the room as if she were trying to chase a firefly. Reid grunted and cleared his throat, "Izzy." Her name rolled off his tongue a bit harsher as if he were trying to shock her into looking at him. It didn't work for she apparently knew better than such a thing. Shit. Without thinking his fingers had released her hand and he'd reached out to try to cup at her cheeks. That moment however where he didn't have a hand on her was all she'd needed for her feet had carried her up and in a full out run for the door. "Damn it Isabella!" Three, maybe four, seconds after she'd jerked to her feet and launched herself off of his bed and for the door he'd yanked up to follow. "You don't get to spoil me rotten and then run off scared!"
She knew he was right. She knew it but despite that she was already halfway through the living room and heading up the stairs of the other side for her bedroom. Izzy swallowed harshly, ignoring the loud footsteps only seconds behind her. From the sound of it he'd jumped over the couch in an attempt to close the distance between them. She hadn't expected him to jump up and chase her through the house, nor had she expected him to speak with such a serious tone. Where was his usual sarcasm? Hell, why wasn't he teasing her ... he couldn't be teasing her with such a look in his eye. Hitting her doorway the twenty four year old reached out for the knob in an attempt to close and lock it; in the end she wasn't quick enough for a mass of black hair and a familiar hand had caught the door before it could close completely and forced it's way in. In the end she'd turned and started heading for the bathroom only to feel a familiar arm latch around her waist and her body thrust towards the bed on the opposite side of the room. Isabella whimpered and threw her arms up to cover her face as if she'd mentally prepared herself for the worst.
The weight alone pinning her hips down was enough to make her bite at her lower lip in confusion as the male pinning her shifted and his presence hovered closer. She felt his eyes boring through her arms, and the smell of oak and cigarettes was so close she could have mistaken herself for being within his bed again. From the feel of it he'd sank into a sit on her lower half and taken to leaning over her face within his own - from the feel of it anyway for she dared not open her eyes and move her arms to see. She dared not lock her gaze with those chocolate orbs for fear they'd melt her instantly. If she gave in even an inch she would started crying.
Shit. His voice was close enough that his breath was hitting her ear, and her name as it fell from his mouth was delicate and tempting. It felt safe, so much that it tempted the arms protecting her from facing the current situation. If she faced it then she would have to acknowledge that he could leave, and if he could leave she would have to acknowledge that she didn't want him to. ... And if she acknowledged that she would start crying. "Reid please ..."
"Fuck don't start crying ... you seriously break my heart when you start crying."
Shit his voice was shaking. Isabella whimpered for she was tempted to move her arms simply to see what type of face he was making. He sounded troubled, and as if he were nearly begging her to look him in the eye. It was a terrible feeling. "Then move. If you say one word I'll cry. I swear to God I'll start crying, Reid." Before she could react his fingers were pulling at her arms with enough force to move them and force the young woman to clench her eyes tightly. Honestly she'd expected him to pin her arms in case she felt the need to try to block her view with them again, but instead the cold hands had locked onto her cheeks and a weight had settled within her chest. Izzy whimpered for she was tempted to open one eye and peek to see his face again; he'd sighed and it had sounded so heavy. It had sounded as if he were giving up.
"You saying that isn't helping, idiot." Reid sighed again unable to still his racing heart. Shit, what was he doing? How was he going to play this off? Her saying something like that made his chest swell and his stomach ignite into a small fire that felt familiar. It was a terrible, cursed thing that welled in his chest and made his breathing ragged. A feeling he'd come to know years ago and it had nearly torn him limb from limb in the end. Hope. It was a disconcerting thing but even now he thought he liked it. Unknowingly his eyes had shifted not to the clenched eyes below him, but to his own fingers trembling as they attempted to hide themselves within the mass of brown waves thrown over the bed. It was enough to cause him to wonder over the weak flutter within his chest that caused the words hiding in his throat to feel as if locust were going to fly from his mouth any moment. "Isabella please look at me. Just look, alright?" He was tired of being ignored to the point it pained him.
Shit. The tone of the voice that tugged on her ears mixed with the delicate ripples that vibrated from his fingers coiling around her hair made the young woman shudder. If he called her name like that she was going to melt without even looking at him. "What is it already?" Despite herself she'd forced her eyes open and found a familiar pair of chocolates only centimeters away. It was enough to make her loose track of her thoughts and feel the fatigue and terror that had been hugging her bones fade within an instant. Silence. It was enough to make her think of something she'd never considered for she'd always compared eyes she'd encountered to oceans, or desserts. No, his eyes were dark and warm and reminded her of her favorite thing. For a moment she thought back to the half empty coffee cup she'd let fall on the floor and was certain was making a mess on the hardwood before she focused on the browns digging into her cranium again. "God damn it, Reid." The cold that had gripped at her bones, much like the fatigue that hit her like a truck from fear had all but vanished into a warm sense of calm. She felt wide awake and safe.
She always felt wide awake and safe when he was even within the same house. He was like fucking coffee in the morning.
"Well if you're going to complain about it, what do you want me to do?" Reid spoke softly, brows pressing into a thin line of confusion. "What am I supposed to do?" If she kept saying such negative words, and looked at him like that. It was contradictory and he felt his mind wandering. Shit ... had her eyes always been this pretty? They were green, but they had flecks of a lighter green that made them look like gemstones. If she kept looking at him as if she were going to cry if he didn't hold her, but scolding him as if she wanted him to leave ... "What exactly am I supposed to do in this situation then, Isabella?" He didn't want to hurt her again. Fucking hell.
It was slight but she felt him move as if to get up and it was enough to scare her into latching onto the tail of his shirt. It was an action that equally surprised her as much as the large brown eyes watching her carefully. "Don't go." She didn't even recognize her own voice as it spilled out and tears started overflowing her lids as if a downpour had been brewing for hours. Her shoulders were shaking and her breathing was coming out in sharp breaths as if she were having a panic attack, "Please stay and smile at me. Keep me company when I'm lonely and drown out the silence that's been following me around." Isabella took in a desperate breath, "I swear the world has never sounded so beautiful before." The words were pushed out as if she were scared she were going to forget them, "Please stay and sing for me again."
It was something instant for she felt like she were going to burst into pieces from the intensity the arms that had enclosed themselves around her squeezed. She'd been expecting something, but not the tight embrace she'd received. Reid had yanked her into his chest and rolled over onto the bed to simply lock his legs around her knees and hold her in place. He'd hugged her so tightly she felt the air in her lungs escape and have to fight to return so she could breathe properly as he buried his nose in her hair and prevented her from moving, much less running away again. For a moment silenced filled the air and she found her heartbeat increasing from terror ... what if he had been teasing? Oh dear god ... Isabella took in a ragged breath and grabbed at the shirt she'd been clinging to tighter. Her mind had been wandering, trying to sidestep and jump over the cracks that had started forming through the logic of her companion's reaction. At least until a familiar set of fingers had started running through her hair and a melody so clear and calm she felt she were dreaming hit her ears.
Just as he'd done the night he'd found her and carried her home from that gas station's bathroom his baritone was humming out a wordless melody so soft and kind it brought tears to her eyes. One that blocked out the uneasiness that had started to crawl up her spine and begun coiling it's fingers around her throat; her world was tossed into a lovely light filled with a beautiful song that could put her to sleep. It was enough to cause the twenty four year old to wilt into his shoulder in tears.