Human Croquet

Author's Note: My first shot at writing a 'Heathers' fanfic! This story revolves around Veronica and J.D and their first game of croquet - and what conversation they might've shared that turned a friendly game of croquet in an even friendlier game of strip-croquet. I loved the two characters together (should I feel guilty about wishing that they *had* toasted marshmallows together over the burning school at the end?) so I was kind-of pushed by that into writing something where they don't hate each other and wish the other dead. So I guess I have to write about the beginning of their relationship. One more side-note, Human Croquet does exist as an actual game - apparently it's 'a good game for a party'. I just heard of it recently and found my perfect title for this. Enjoy reading and please do review, I'm a feedback-junkie!

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"Jason Dean."

"You say my name as though you're meditating on it." Came the reply, along with an almost comically amused frown.

A heartily laugh. "Perhaps I am."

And upon that Veronica Sawyer, her small hand draped around that of her companion and J.D; his eyes as translucent as the moon on the water, descended into the small cosy garden to play a game of croquet. Both had no idea what passionate turn the game would take and at the same time that one thought, that instant attraction as immediate as an electrical storm, was the one thing on their minds. Alternating between the forefront and background of their minds was the knowledge and the want of the part both would play in another chapter of society's sexual rites.

Smiling, Veronica strolled along the lawn, carefully avoiding random croquet hoops, a rushing feeling of sudden liberation coursing through her. Again, she wondered what on earth she was doing. But she knew. She knew that she had been hiding in a room in her mind and all it took was an invitation to a game of croquet from J.D to thrust her out of it and into a fresh way of thinking.

Her rage was still there, that part of her that wanted to slam an axe into Heather Chandler's skull. So was her frustration at a society that allowed people like Heather to gain popularity through predatory crimes against lesser students. The knowledge that she had traded Betty Finn's friendship for their approval. And always, there was that green, stinking intelligence that dwelt in her gut that finally, she had seen the horror of what the Heathers truly were, with all their colour co-ordinated cruelty. But above that all was still the semi-murderous rage.

Now, she suddenly felt decadent. She still would be on top of the world to see a certain Heather Chandler puke her guts out, but for now she felt placated. It was something to do with J.D, she guessed. There was something different about him. Something weird and wild and totally free. It was something she admired. Since she first saw him she had felt those sparks fly. And how those flying sparks were frying the memory of how much she had so recently felt that killing Heather Chandler would be to do a favour for the entire world. Now she felt that spending a little time with this very cute but oh-so dark horse was worth a thousand Heather-killing fantasies.

All in one moment, she forgot about that gun stunt. The extreme always makes an impression, he had said. And it had. Since she saw him her mind was always annoyingly turning back towards him. And just now he had turned up at her bedroom window, uninvited and unexpected and asked her if she was up for a game of croquet. Yeah, he made an impression all right. And here she was, strolling across her lawn, getting ready to play croquet with him, her head swimming with thoughts of him. He made an impression. He liked her too, she knew. J.D liked her. Too cool for words. Her lips creased upwards in a secretive smile, so comically sly that it was adorable.

She thought absently to herself about what would happen next between them. Was it just a simple game of croquet and the wine of well-oiled conversation that they wanted? Yes and no was her guess. So would they end up mindlessly doing something about their attraction, their recognition of something familiar within them both and conform to the modern sexual ideal of wry teenagers? Somehow she thought not. Something about J.D was so different to everything she knew, so exciting and set off a similar element in her own psyche, her own exciting edge. He gave her the instinctive feeling that she was sensing some form of originality, that she should expect the unexpected. It was intriguing. And pretty sexy, she had to admit.

It was nice to have someone who seemed to be on the same wavelength as her. Suddenly, she felt wilder in his presence. She felt free. She suddenly felt empowered. Like she was capable of doing something radical on impulse. And that she wanted to. Carpe diem and all, she mused.

J.D. Jason Dean. Now there was something really worth musing. What was going on behind those quiet but turbulent eyes? What was it that made the cogs of his mind turn and creak? Was he thinking the same things about her? She took and edgy glance back at him, still gazing at her with penetrating eyes, troubled and livid with a constant look of resigned amusement with the world. Somewhere between very simple and very complex. She liked that about him, that one portion out of a mysterious host of charming features.

He followed her quietly, his black trenchcoat billowing out behind him, half-heartedly flirting with a stray breeze before gathering again around his legs. His eyes were inquisitive and yet they devoured all they saw with a sense of familiarity, as if he knew far more than he was letting on. There was knowledge there, but it was impossible to discern the accompanying glint in his eyes as wisdom or arrogance. Whatever it was, it was it was potent and exhilarating. He too felt a bolt of familiarity when he met Veronica, felt as if they shared a seat on the same train of thought. It was different, a change from all other banal encounters he had experienced since arriving in this brave new world of high school. In fact, for the first time in years, there was a change to his routine. Someone who seemed to be on the same wavelength. Someone who might be like him. And to top it all, he actually wanted to play croquet with her. Playing croquet with Veronica Sawyer. It was different, that was for sure.

Turning around with a fair little spring in her step, feeling the curiosity in her make her awake and alive to the fingertips. "So." she spoke up with a bright smile; her almost-husky voice speaking with tired animation that was a world away from her previous fury at all things Heather Chandler. "What colour do you want to be?"

J.D simply raised his arms and brought them down again in an encouraging shrug, his eyes still twinkling with something Veronica couldn't name, burning with something of a trademark smirk. "I wouldn't have thought it mattered."

Straight to the point. How eloquent. Of course he was right and with that, had freed her from a lingering influence the shadow of the Heathers had cast over her. Those damned coloured balls. Her lips twisted into a tricksy, liberated grin of a child who was misbehaving and knew it, her dark eyes darkening with a sweet, mischievous twinkle of their own, unique to her. Her look challenged him quietly.

"Okay." She said, approaching him. "Why don't you start, then?" She said, handing him a single croquet ball at random, paying no attention to the primary colour that crudely striped it. She kept another for herself. In the future, she would look back upon that night with tangible tingles of nostalgia and would try and remember what colour she had uncaringly given him - Red? Was it red? It had to be she always believed - but never could she remember. It had escaped her, another part of him that would be gone forever. So was the memory of the ball she kept for herself.

His grin was cocky but friendly. "So, I guess the ball's in my court, then, to borrow the tennis phrase."

Veronica smiled, dropped her own ball and crossed her arms. "Maybe."

He grinned at her and she returned the smile. Then, his muscles relaxed and he prepared to take a swing. It wasn't bad. Not a total success but by no means bad. Veronica then took a swing of her own, her ball falling a little short of the first hoop. Her look for something between a childlike joy at her tiny victory and dejection at having missed that first hoop. Stronger than both was the look of enjoyment that painted a face from that of a sullen teenager into that of a happy young woman. Playing croquet with J.D - it was fun.

The conversation moved on from there, on swift wings, decorated by competitive but not entirely serious attempts at playing croquet. The night was young and hushed, the tender silence broken only by their words and a few bursts of free laughter under a full moon and Veronica no longer felt so tightly rooted in the mudded banks of the dying boughs of high school society. The night threw heady shadows over them coquettishly, the atmosphere of the enjoyment making Veronica feel like a shining candle, suddenly alive and real, like she was for the first time, having a conversation worth having. It reached a significant point when the conversation reached the point of croquet strategies, following one of J.D's more ambitious and creative attempts at playing croquet, causing a delighted Veronica to burst into warm laughter, and playfully indignant remarks about how he wasn't being fair and breaking the rules.

"So," J.D said ruefully, his eyes alight "you wouldn't have done it?"

"J.D!" she said, laughing "Come on, that's cheating! You're breaking the rules!"

"I know." He said with a charming grin. "But you could just think of it as adding a little spice to the game."

"Play the game any way you like once you start losing?" she said, smiling, ignoring his protestations about not having been losing. "Interesting strategy."

"So what little strategies are you conjuring up there? What plans are you coming up with to crush my frail croquet-ego, Veronica?"

"As fun as that sounds, I haven't really been plotting anything. My head's just been elsewhere, I guess."

"Where?" he questioned, with another swing that came closer to forgetting the rules entirely rather than simply breaking them, it left them scattered, ashen and smouldering in the debris of his swing.

"Oh, I don't know. It's stupid. I still can't stop thinking about how nice it'd be to disembowel Heather Chandler with a knitting needle and stuff."

He shifted towards her. "That's got to be the best idea I've heard all day. I could go for that. Might be messy, though. We'd have to wear old clothes."

Veronica gave a hopeless chuckle, heavy with longing. "I wish. It'd make everything a lot simpler. And probably make the world a better place."

"Yeah," he said reflectively "the world would be far happier if Heather Chandler would just exit stage left."

Veronica smiled again and sighed wistfully, leaning closer towards him, now noticing the nearing proximity between the two of them. "Is murder always a crime?" she said jocularly. It was nice, this conversation, to be able to flirt with homicide, if only dreamily. To be able to pretend to be ridding the world of one Heather. One tiny bliss.

He gave her a crooked smile. "That, my Veronica, would have to be for the courts to decide."

"Yeah," she said with a dreaming sigh "but it'd be worth it. You know, I actually heard of a cool method for venting a lot of anger and frustration and stuff. Some guy I read about once put a Jack-o-Lantern on some other guy's porch, stuck a knife in its head and attached a little note you it that said: You. Freaked the other guy out something mad. I guess there's a problem with it though, when you're angry and frustrated with the whole system."

"You sure you don't wanna go for the knitting needle?" he said with a wry smile, his eyes shifty and deepening, revealing an inner-smile that was not entirely unpleasant to behold. "I'd be up for riding the world of one bitch who deserves to die if you are."

Veronica threw him a guarded smile. "You sound so serious. . .!"

"What if I am?"

"That's sick, J.D." She gave him a playful shove. "Don't be an asshole. Besides, I'd sooner play croquet with you - even if you do cheat - than waste my time thinking about a Heather, right? We can vent on the croquet balls instead."

And with that she took a triumphant and thoroughly moral swing. The ball hit the corner of the hoop with a dull, resounding blow, but did not pass through it, as if spiting her. She laughed and held her hands up in a defeated gesture. J.D was gazing at her with entranced eyes. He had moved back slightly, now enveloped again in his own personal portion of the universe.

"Veronica?" his voice was surprisingly tender, all traces of his sardonic teasing washed away to reveal something just s full of dark, morbid humour but also betraying something purer that shone like a single, solitary and dying beacon in the darkness.


That tone of knowledge slid with ease and pleasure back into the dry pitch of his voice. "You ever heard of Human Croquet?"

"Human Croquet?"

"Answer enough. Alright, Human Croquet. My mom told me about it once. A good game for a party, she said."

"How very. I'm listening." She said, her voice thickening with intrigue, her eyes narrowing but also lighting up with the sensation of curiosity striking against bold imagination.

"It's basically - no surprises here - croquet with people. You've got your balls and your hoops. The object of the game is what it is here. To win and all that glory."

Veronica shifted uneasily. "You know, I got caught up in this game - it gets hard to remember that the point of it is to win."

"What about all that stuff you got fed about the trying being important?"

"Everyone knows that's bullshit."

Suddenly, she looked lost. And lonely. And just as sudden and fleeting, J.D pitied her. And again, recognised that she was on the same level as him. All she needed was a healthy push in the right direction. He approached her and gave her an earnest smile and took her hand, the hand of a girl recently disillusioned.

His voice was barely the ghost of a whisper, but was warm, daring and sensual a sound as it glided over her ear, his words speaking deeply to her, brightening up her twisting insides.

"You want to play a game?"

Their hands were clasped now. She interlaced his fingers with her own. Her eyes, deep and doeful said, Why not?

He moved behind her, his breath, warm and heady against the back of her neck. He slowly placed his hands over her eyes. "Close your eyes." He gave a silent command. "Right, Veronica. You're the ball so when I say go, you go straight forward, like your average school-Uni.-job-home-husband journey. When I say stop, you stop. You forget about all that garbage. Then, the hoops come into play. Ready?"

"Ready as I'll ever be."

His silence questioned that remark. Then he bent closer to her ear and gave a commanding whisper. And forward she moved, straight and true as an arrow until told to halt.

"So where are the hoops?" she asked into the choked chill of the night, reaching out for J.D's presence.

"Well, we don't have enough people be hoops, so I guess we'll have to do." He said with amusement and took her hands in his and held them high and formed n arch with their young bodies. Tentatively, she opened her eyes and found herself gazing deeply into his. The moment caught them both off- guard. His eyes were flecked with onyx darkness, strands of silver and wisps of blue like rolling, thundering clouds in a turbulent storm, run through by forked lightning. Her own eyes were sweet and rich with untold, haunted depths.

She shivered. At that moment Veronica thought she could well have been anyone, and he anyone also. He could have been anyone's dream, anyone's own dark rebel to drown in. But at that instant she saw that, for now, he was hers. She smiled and an understanding stretched between them, linking them. A love, no matter how brief, no matter how flawed, no matter how doomed blossomed then. She wondered why he chose that moment and how he led her to feel that. How did he make it so unreal?

Awkwardly, she shattered the silence, groping and fumbling gauchely for something to say. "So, we're hoops now? So where's the ball? What - what happens next?"

J.D grinned. "Well, normally your ball goes through the hoop depending on your aim. We don't have enough people for that though. Human Croquet falls under the title of Big Group Activity, I'm sorry to say. It's a game for a party. . .or for someone with a lot of friends."

Veronica gave an ironic laugh. "Hey, you know this morning, I could've gotten enough friends round for this. But Monday morning. . .I'll probably have a hell of a job just finding one."

"You've got one already right here."

She smiled, her hands holding his with more tangible affection. "Yeah, I like that. I like this. That's the thing. . .I probably lost all my friends after what happened with Heather tonight but, I know it sounds crazed, but. . .I don't think I care. I don't even think I feel the loss. Or any bad feelings. I don't feel weaker or emptier or lonelier. I feel. . .it's weird but I feel better. More complete. Like I just chopped off a rotting limb and saved the rest of me. The threat of losing my popularity and reputation just - just isn't so bad."

His gaze began chiselling into hers own. "And so," he said with a brief theatrical flourish "in conclusion, the lie of society begins to unravel for Veronica Sawyer."

She inclined her head in a gesture between bashfulness, admiration, irony, sincerity, pride, softness and inviting warmth and gave him a wry, knowing smile as she made use of one of her favourite phrases. "You're beautiful."

Her companion shuffled slightly, head bent towards her. "I was planning to say something along those lines sometime tonight, myself."

On that note, her hands, in response, moved out of his own and ran, gently like light on water, down the length of his arms and settled, linking behind his neck. His own hands travelled down her and settled on her petit waist, pulling her like a magnet towards him. That first kiss was tender, inquisitive and explorative. Gradually, with growing need it deepened, as they both had their own needs, their own wants, their own desires to give and take. With hunger they clung against each other, holding on for dear life and trying to wring a little more from their shared passion. With that kiss, and understanding beyond any eye-contact was developed and an affection was rooted deep. In parting they shared a deep, glowing chuckle and pressed their foreheads together.

They continued in that fashion, clinging to each other like desperate parting lovers beneath the bowels of the deep night, kissing and touching, silhouetted by shadow and light. Soon, laughing and sighing, they stepped over hoops and clothes sailed down past ripe skin and falling upon the lawn, splayed between hoops as they made a boudoir out of her garden. It could have been love, it could have been lust. Neither could tell them apart at that point. But both knew it was fun, wonderful shared fun.

And so, they abandoned croquet and settled for being just humans.

Later, in the rich aftermath as they lay together, bodies nude and tangled, painted ivory by darkness and capricious moonlight. Still they laughed. Still they kissed. Still, they talked. They lay, nuzzling together, wrapped in the warm afterglow of sex.

J.D's voice was the first to be heard.

"Well, that was my first game of strip-croquet."

They both hoped it wouldn't be their last.

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