Angela stood in her bedroom contemplating her wardrobe choices for the day. She didn't have a lot of options –life on the surface didn't provide much opportunity for excess– but she'd picked up a few things over the last two years. One of the first things she and Dingo had done upon her exile was to buy her a new outfit for everyday wear. Dingo had said they didn't want to attract the wrong kind of attention –by which he meant male attention– and Angela felt it couldn't hurt to fit in. It was also nice not to have to fend off men in every town they passed through. Not that she didn't occasionally have to do that anyway.
But today was her eighteenth birthday –which was really her twenty-fifth birthday, but since she'd shaved seven years off this body's age in the interest of saving time on its growth, it seemed easier just to go with her physical age most of the time– and as she eyed her standard jeans and button down shirt, so similar to Dingo's only more feminine, she decided that today she wanted to attract attention. She bypassed her surface clothing and reached into the back of the closet to pull out her old, standard issue, DEVA flight suit instead.
She snorted as she put it on. "Flight suit," her ass. It was a bathing suit with boots – and just barely that. How had she never realized how little this thing covered? Of course, it covered even less now that she was two years taller and fuller.
It still fit though. Technically.
She studied her form in the mirror. She was attractive. More than attractive. Sexy. But would that be enough?
A sudden and rare case of nerves tied her stomach in knots. She sternly mastered the sensation, breathing deeply until she felt confidence return.
She was damn hot and she could do anything she set her mind to.
Yes. She could do this.
She took one last, calming breath and strode out into the makeshift kitchen of the makeshift home she shared with her partner. Said partner was busily cooking a breakfast of sandworm meat and desert hen eggs.
"Hey, breakfast is almost up," Dingo said, cheerful and laid back as ever. "Take a – seat?" The last word came out a slightly choked almost question as he turned and got his first look at her. He cleared his throat subtly and one brow winged upward in question. "Feeling nostalgic Ange?" he asked. "Not that you don't have the right to wear whatever you want around the house, but I hope you're planning on changing before we go into town."
It was a little annoying how he still spoke to her like he was her father sometimes, or maybe her big brother. More so today, because if that was really how he saw her it was going to throw a serious wrench in her birthday plans.
Then he winked at her, her affable partner again. "We're never gonna get anything done with you looking like that." He gave her an appreciative once over, restoring her confidence once more. "Unless you count gaining attention."
She sniffed. "Maybe I do," she said, aware she sounded snobbish, but too embarrassed to temper her tone and expression.
Up went that brow again, drawing her gaze against her will. Was it wrong she found that sexy?
"Oh," he said. And then he froze and did a sort of double take. "Oh," he repeated, tone knowing.
"Is that a problem?" she asked archly, challenging him. "This body is of age now. And you know I'm older than that."
"No, no. Of course not," he assured her. "I just didn't realize you were interesting in anyone, that's all. Good for you." He slid breakfast onto tin plates and then abandoned them to turn and lean back against the stove on his elbows, watching her. "Anyone I know?" he asked, infuriatingly casual.
It made her even more embarrassed – and angry. Should she really have to spell this out for him after all this time? Her cheeks warmed, probably flushed now, and she couldn't do it after all. She couldn't tell him. Her gaze slid away from his sparkling eyes almost against her will. "Considering you know everyone I know? Likely," she said, voice gone flat.
He grinned and turned back to grab the plates with casual grace – insufferable jerk.
"So," he asked, nonchalant, as he turned to carry their breakfast to the table, "Is it Bradley?"
She glared at the wall. "No," she said, voice going even more flat, if that was possible.
Her razor glare turned toward him. It was a practiced look, one that had cowed lesser men, but he was Dingo, and so he met her cold gaze with a lopsided grin.
Stupid Dingo. He was such a moron.
"Is it Kevin?" he asked as they finished up their shopping. She didn't answer, but that didn't shut him up. "Hans?"
He'd been pestering her, listing the names of every male of their acquaintance, all day and it was getting on her nerves.
"I know!" He slammed a fist into the opposite palm. "Gordon!"
She turned a withering stare upon him at the mention of their ammunition supplier who was easily in his sixties and about forty-five pounds overweight.
He raised his hands in a mockery of surrender, but didn't drop the subject. "Come on, give me a hint?" he pled. "I've named every guy we know!"
Except, of course, the obvious one, but Dingo was too stupid to realize that, and at this point she might even be glad of it. How had this become so damn embarrassing?
Angela didn't do embarrassed well, so she rolled her eyes and moved ahead. Honestly, he was so dense it was painful. She felt eyes follow her as her hips swayed – Dingo's, and others. Not as many as there would have been had she not changed before they began their errands. The flight suit had been a stupid idea anyway. He probably didn't even like that kind of thing.
"Now that's just mean, Angela." He pouted. Actually pouted. And damn it if it wasn't adorable. "I'd tell you if I had interest in someone."
That comment almost stopped her short. She'd never thought of that. Though it was a bit of a relief to hear it. She'd been beginning to fear he was playing dumb deliberately because he was seeing someone behind her back and didn't know how to tell her. Not that it'd be "behind her back" technically speaking. It wasn't like they were together.
She sighed. "Let's go home, Dingo."
He nodded and grabbed the last of their supplies.
"Wait," he said to her retreating back. "Is it Nelson? Please tell me it's not Nelson," he begged.
Lips compressed into a line of irritation, Angela didn't answer.
He made her a special birthday dinner with supplies he'd somehow snuck into their standard shopping. It was sweet, and completely unnecessary, and it gave her the courage to make another attempt despite the failure the day had been so far.
"Happy birthday," he said, voice soft to match his expression as he slid a lopsided attempt at cake in front of her. Dingo was a decent cook, but baking was hard with what was available on the scorched remnants of planet Earth.
"Thanks," she murmured. She hoped he wouldn't notice her blush in the fading evening light.
He dropped easily into the seat across from her, hands folded on the table, watching her with a gentle smile.
She stared at the cake, willing the blush from her cheeks, and after a moment he cleared his throat.
She knew if she looked up he'd be rubbing his broad hand over the short hairs at the back of his neck, but she didn't do it. She couldn't face him just yet – she was still gathering her courage.
"I'm sorry about today," he said. "I shouldn't have teased you like that. You have the right to be interested in someone without me breathing down your neck. I'm always here if you want to talk, but you don't ever have to feel obligated to tell me anything." He laughed, and it was a little bit stilted, she thought. "I'm not your father or anything."
No, he really wasn't. And, God, she hoped he meant that.
"Thanks," she said again, for lack of anything better to say. She took a bite of cake. It was good, despite it's less than perfect appearance. It sort of reminded her of Dingo: rough on the outside, but on the inside . . . sweet.
His hand brushed hers lightly, as though in apology. It sent heat all through her and she decided it was time to stop beating around the bush.
She pushed her plate back abruptly and shoved to her feet before she could lose her nerve. Dingo watched her, clearly startled, as she practically stomped around the tiny table to his side. He blinked stupidly as she wrapped her fingers in his lapels, clueless, even now.
"You are an idiot, Zarik Kajiwara," she informed him with fond exasperation. And then she kissed him soundly on the lips.
When she finally released him, Dingo gaped at her like the idiot she'd accused him of being. She didn't have the courage to hold his astonished gaze, she'd used it all up in that single moment of bravery, and her own gaze skittered sideways.
"Ange?" he breathed at length.
She could feel the blush down to her toes this time. Stupid real world body and its involuntary reactions. So embarrassing!
Still, she'd come too far to back down now. "It's you, okay?" she said, almost an accusation. "I wanted you to notice me."
His chair scraped softly on the rough concrete floor and suddenly he was towering over her, well inside her personal space. Which, of course, he would be because she was the one who had invaded his personal space to begin with and he was just so tall . . .
His hands skimmed down her arms. "I always notice you, Angela." His voice had gone slightly husky and that, coupled with the barely there contact of his fingertips on her flesh, prompted another involuntary reaction – this time a shiver. One of his hands moved up to brush the side of her face. "I just . . . really?" he asked.
She bit her lip, a nervous habit she didn't remember having in DEVA. Why was he so surprised? It made her uncertain.
"I understand if you're not interested," she backpedaled quickly. Maybe he really did see her as a younger sister. Oh God, how embarrassing.
His hand caught hers in a gentle but inextricable grasp as she tried to turn away.
"I didn't say that."
"You aren't saying much of anything," she countered, which was not at all like him. She didn't like it, she decided.
He stepped forward, body brushing hers, and tucked her into the space there in a single smooth motion. His arms were warm around her back and she felt herself beginning to relax for the first time all day.
"You sure?" he asked, and she didn't have to ask what he meant. She wondered if she imagined the trembling in his taut frame.
She gave one short nod in answer.
His thumb brushed her lower lip, slowly, deliberately, and her gaze finally sought his.
He smiled at her and then leaned down to catch her mouth with his.
It was good. So good. So much better than the mashing of lips their earlier kiss had been, probably because they were both fully involved this time. His lips pulled at hers, soft and warm, and so much more skilled than she'd been expecting. Or maybe it was just that she wanted him so damn much.
He was grinning when he finally pulled away.
"I like you too," he said, his twinkling eyes belying his solemn tone.
She rolled her eyes. "What are we, kids?" she scoffed, mostly to keep from melting into a puddle at his feet.
"Are you saying you don't like me?" He affected a pout.
She shoved at his chest, trying to gain enough space to cross her arms. "I'm saying you're being an idiot again. It's making me reconsider."
"And yet, you're still staring at my lips," he observed, teasing.
She pursed her own lips tightly. "I haven't kissed anyone in this body before." Hadn't kissed anyone in any body before. She'd never had the time for romantic entanglements in DEVA. Not that she was going to tell Dingo that.
He arched a brow, more surprised than skeptical. As if he couldn't believe men hadn't lined up for her attentions in her past life. "Really?"
Desperate to hide her sudden insecurity, she played the vixen. She turned her hands to trace light fingertips across his chest. "Guess what else I haven't done in this body?" She gave him a coy wink at the same moment she brushed a nipple through his shirt.
He swallowed hard enough she actually heard it.
"I can, ahem," he cleared his throat, "think of a thing or two." His gaze darted away and then back, heavy with a weight she didn't understand. "But, uh, isn't that moving a little fast? We only confessed two minutes ago."
Wait – did he not want to? But— he said he liked her! And there was some pretty solid evidence of his interest pressed against her right thigh. "We've lived together for two years, Dingo," she said with practiced patience. It was possible she was missing something here. She didn't want to screw things up by flying off the handle like the child she wasn't.
"Well yeah, but—"
He'd loosed his hold slightly and she crossed her arms, putting space between them. Was he playing the gentleman or was he actually serious? "Today is my eighteenth birthday, or my twenty-fifth, depending on how you're counting. Either way, it's a milestone and I'm going to celebrate. Now, if you're not interested, I'm sure I can find someone who is." She turned toward her room. "I'll just go get my flightsuit, shall I?"
Steel banded arms locked around her waist. His lips pressed against her ear through her hair.
"Hey now. No need for that. I'm just saying it's been a while for both of us, and this is new, and— damn it, Ange," he cursed softly, worry evident in the sudden change in his tone. "We're partners. What happens if this doesn't work out?"
She turned in his arms, anger slipping away. "I'm not planning to walk away if you're not," she promised.
He squeezed her closer. "I'm not."
She smiled, arms slipping up around his neck. "Then I don't see what the problem is. Unless you're out of practice," she teased, attempting to lighten the mood.
He growled at her. Easy-going, unflappable, Dingo actually growled at her. It sent a tingle down to places she hoped would soon see use for the first time.
Still, Dingo was hardly running for the bedroom, either bedroom, despite the look of raw hunger shadowing his eyes. Clearly something was still bothering him.
She titled her head at him in question.
He cleared his throat awkwardly. "So, uh, your 'material construct', is it fully functioning?" he asked.
She bristled. "Of course it is! I—"
He shushed her with gentle fingers against her lips. "I mean, biologically speaking. Now is really not a good time to accidentally start a family, if you know what I mean."
She flushed. "Oh." She hadn't thought of that. Mostly because it wasn't an issue on DEVA.
"It's okay," he hurried to assure her. "I, uh," he coughed, "I've got some things. I mean, I'm prepared. Or I should be." That one hand crept up to his neck, but her hands were in the way so he dropped it awkwardly to his side and he looked away as his face colored slightly. She didn't think she'd ever seen Dingo blush before. Well, maybe that one time when he'd walked in on her in the bath. "Well, I've had them for awhile, and I'm not sure how long they're good, but we should be okay. I think."
His sudden shyness boosted her confidence. She twined her fingers in the hair at his nape and then slid one hand down along the scruff at his jaw to turn his face back to hers. "How long has it been, Dingo?"
His cheeks darkened. "Uh, three years? Four? Definitely before I met you."
"Hey, not all guys are easy," he defended. "It just never seemed right."
"I'm not making fun of you," she assured him and rose on her toes to give him a gentle, chaste kiss. "I'm actually kind of flattered." It was nice to know they'd be on something close to even ground in this.
"Are you now?" His tone changed, becoming pleased and perhaps a touch sly. His hands slid to her waist, framing it in a way both possessive and comforting. She liked it, she decided. It made her feel powerful and protected all at once, which was weird, but so like Dingo.
"Yeah," she said. They stared at each other for a long, unbroken moment, until the energy zipping through her limbs became too much and she knew she had to have him now. "Dingo?" she whispered.
"Hmm?" he hummed, eyes drifting half-closed.
"Where are those 'things', you said you had?"
"Oh." His eyes widened with a start and she almost giggled. "Uh, my room." He released her only to slide his hand down to hers and tug her toward his room. "C'mon," he said, leading her as if she didn't know perfectly well where his room was. She let it slide.
In the doorway he paused, looking back between her and the door to her room.
"Hey, Angela? Sometime, will you wear that flight suit for me again?" he asked.
So he was into that after all. Angela grinned.
"Maybe for round two."
The giggle that had been threatening on and off for some time now escaped.
His arms tangled around her waist again and they stumbled into his room, laughing, insecurities forgotten in the comfort that was them. There really wasn't anything to be nervous about, Angela realized. Being with Dingo here was just like being with Dingo in any other respect – natural and easy and fun.
She didn't get the flight suit for round two. Or three, or four.
She didn't need to.
A/N: So, I watched Expelled From Paradise almost two weeks ago and I adored it, but there was a definite dearth of fanfiction, which bummed me. Until idea after idea started pouring into my head - which hasn't happened for an anime in ages. So, yeah, I'll be posting a series of one-shots as a single story based on one or two word "prompts" that I gave myself. Mostly Angela's POV, but also Dingo's from time to time. I don't know how long it will last, but I think I've got nearly a dozen partially written one-shots on my flash drive. I don't know how often I'll post either and I'll be leaving this marked complete since the stories are in the same "universe" but each could be read as a standalone. I don't know how many people are into this movie (or this pairing), but hopefully someone will get some enjoyment out of these.
Also, I totally made up ages on my own since I couldn't find any given. Dingo's full name, as used by Angela, is taken from the movie credits, so I'm assuming it's canon.