One shot: What might've happened is Will hadn't been ready to accept Layla's affection… I own nothing. The characters are Disney's, the song is Clapton's, but love- that belongs to everyone. J
Ginger ale and red Fanta made for pretty horrid punch, but Layla drank it anyway. The Homecoming dance was back in full swing, a pile of discarded baby blankets in the corner of the gym. She sighed and made the surface of her punch ripple. Will was off with his parents, giving them a blow by blow of his defeat of Major Pain, his father beaming and slapping him soundly on the shoulder, his mother looking calm and beautiful, as usual.
Will caught Layla's eye and he grinned cutely offering her a wave. She waved back with her punch hand, spilling red fizz all over the floor. She winced and grabbed some napkins from the table behind her. She dropped to a knee and started moping up the spill, red sticky covering her fingers.
This wasn't how she'd planned her first Homecoming to be. The night had started out so promisingly, now she had a small rip in her dress and red punch all over her hands. Well, at least Major Pain was defeated- she smiled slightly at the thought of no more Gwen Grayson at school- and everyone was safe. That was what was important. All in a day's work for a super hero. No, hero support.
She stood up to toss the sopping napkins away and almost hit noses with Warren Peace.
"Oh! Oh my, you scared me." She said, laughing as her breath returned to her slowly. Warren just stood there, his hands in his pockets, staring at her.
"What, did Stronghold bail on you again?"
"What? No. No, that's ridicu…" She paused. There was no use in lying. She was lousy at it. Besides, Warren's stare made her uncomfortable and gave her the feeling that he'd know if she gave him anything but the truth. "Yea. Yea, kind of. Aren't there any recycle bins here?" She added quickly, looking about the crowded gym for something to toss the now dripping napkin in.
Wordlessly, Warren took it from her and ignited it, the napkin disappearing into ash. He sprinkled the gray dust out of his palm and wiped the rest off on his pants.
Layla smiled sheepishly. "Thanks. I didn't get you anything." She blushed slightly as Warren smiled back, one side of his mouth quirking upwards, making the skin around his eye crinkle.
Then it occurred to her. She lifted her hand and pinched her thumb and forefinger together. Small green coils started twirling around her cuticles, spinning and twining down her long fingers. They became thicker and darker and started coiling back towards their point of origin, wrapping themselves around each other and forming a stem. The green wand in her hand grew longer and longer, a small green bud forming at the tip. Gently it opened, long red petals wrapped tightly around each other rising above the green.
She smiled and loosened her grip, halting the growth process. She broke off half of the stem and placed the rest of it in his jacket, smoothing down his lapels like an affectionate mother.
"There you go. Now you're finished." She smiled at her handiwork, then realized how close they were. So did he.
"You wanna dance?"
Layla started stuttering, trying to think of a good excuse to put some space between them and coming up with none. Warren quirked an eyebrow and shook his head slowly. He smoothly slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her into his chest, taking her still sticky hand into his own and slowly started swaying, giving her a bemused look.
Layla blushed a bright red and quickly turned her head. The colored lights about the gym were gently flashing an Gwen's fog machines were slowly coating the floor with mist. Dozens of couples were in each others arms, heads on each other's shoulders and swaying to the music. She couldn't see Will. She felt Warren take in a long breath and sigh it out, his chest moving gently under her ear. She stiffened and pulled away, a second's worth of space between their bodies.
"Hyadaphis tataricae." He said almost to the air.
"Honeysuckle." She corrected, then looked up at him, her eyebrows raised in shock. "How'd did you-"
"My mom likes to garden." He replied. Layla nodded as though that answered everything and stared safely at his shoulder, thinking that there was much more to Warren Peace than meets the eye.
What'll you do when you get lonely
And nobody's waiting by your side?
You've been running and hiding much too long.
You know it's just your foolish pride.
"I like it." He whispered to the top of her head. Layla didn't even bother blushing this time.
"Thank you." She said quietly, her voice shaking. She couldn't figure why she was so nervous. Did she really think that Warren would try something in a room full of super-teens and staff? Besides, he was a sophomore and something of a loner. Why would he even want to try something with her? Bad boys and hippies didn't mix. Then again, they didn't dance together either…
"You smell nice, too." She finally added, immediately regretting it when she saw his shoulders shudder with laughter. She squeezed her eyes and turned her head away again. Why was she like this around him? This was Warren, the psycho who had threatened to bomb her and the rest of the sidekicks the day Will got his powers. He was the kid who had sworn his vengeance on the Strongholds, a family she loved and admired. This was the guy who had… who had taken her to Homecoming when Will had stomped on her and who listened to her that night at the Paper Lantern when no one else was around.
Unconsciously she took a breath of him- sesame seed oil and Old Spice - and smiled. She wondered if that was what his dad used and tried to imagine a little Warren with his large, imposing father teaching him to shave.
"So, your mother likes to garden?" She asked, trying to sound more interested than she felt. She wanted to ask him what his father was like, how hard it was growing up with such an infamous father, if his villainy hindered his bedtime-story-telling capabilities.
"When she has the time, yea. The restaurant keeps her pretty busy." His hand found the small of her back and Layla jumped, her eyes widening a bit. She looked up at him and offered a small, shy smile then looked over his shoulder at the other dancing couples. Then it hit her- his mother worked at the Lantern! She'd seen her, the small, tired looking woman who took her order and folded napkins. It was hard to imagine such a woman having Warren, let alone raising him- alone.
"I never thanked you for that."
"For listening to me that night at the Paper Lantern." She looked up at him. Now it was his turn to look away, his eyes shifting nervously. She could feel his pulse quicken in the fingers holding her own.
"Yea, well… you know." Layla smiled broadly and started to laugh, her whole body shaking with the relief of it. Warren looked down at her, slightly offended then started laughing too, albeit grudgingly. So, he was human after all.
"You looked like you could use someone, was all."
"I did, thank you. And thank you for this."
"What, trying not to step on your feet?" He gave Layla a little wink that reminded her of her Uncle Chester- a shape shifter- who would morph into famous game show hosts at Christmas and distribute presents with a bleached smile.
'No, for taking me to the dance."
He looked over his shoulder and raised up on his toes a bit trying to see over the crowd. "He's still talking to his mom. I don't think the plan's working." He said with a conspiratory whisper.
'Eh, I don't care anymore. It's my Homecoming. I just saved the school and I deserve this. Besides, life's too short to wait for Will Stronghold." She finished, sounding surer than she felt.
"I couldn't agree more."
"Does that mean you've forgiven his dad?" She felt him tense up, his fingers crushing her hand like a vice. She winced then yelped and pulled away as his hands ignited. Warren wasn't even looking at her. His eyes burning a hole in the ground.
"I guess not." She mumbled, cradling her slightly singed hand. The flames died slowly and Warren unclenched his fists, his whole body seeming to sag with his release. He looked over at Layla and his eyes widened a bit.
"Did I hurt you? I'm sorry… It's just-" He couldn't finish. He stormed to the refreshments table and quickly grabbed a cup of punch. He took a long gulp finishing the glass in one swig and slammed the cup down, his face contorted in disgust.
"I know, It's terrible isn't it?" Layla asked, laughing awkwardly as she handed him a napkin. He roughly wiped his mouth and stuffed the used paper square in the cup, the rest of the punch soaking through the thin sheaves.
"Can I ask you something?" She asked gently. Warren didn't answer and she took it as a go sign. "If you hate the Commander so much, why don't just attack him? He's standing right there." She turned and pointed halfway across the gym where the Commander was dancing by himself, amused and watching the students dance.
"That wouldn't be very smart, would it?" He managed through clenched teeth. Layla could see that it was taking a lot of restraint of his part, talking about the Commander. It wasn't as though she didn't understand, but she wasn't much of one for grudges, especially ones that were ended so long ago.
"It's not like it's gonna bring my dad back, is it?" He finished carefully. Layla didn't know why, but she placed her hand on top of his, finagling their appendages so that their fingers were intertwined and gave him a small squeeze. His hands were warm and strong, understandably, and fit so well with hers…
"Besides, you probably wont go to Prom with me if I roast your best friend's folks, am I right?" He gave her his usual smirky smile which made her laugh. She felt the tension leave his hand and he sighed, straightening up and shaking his hair back from his face.
I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.
"You should do that more often. Laugh." He said quickly, answering her before she had a chance to ask.
"Well, you should smiled more." She countered, amazed at how easy it was to banter with him.
"Stick around and maybe I will." This time there was no playful smile, no game show host wink. Layla was taken aback by his bluntness and by what he was offering. They had agreed to go to make Will jealous, no other reason. At the time Warren hadn't even seemed interested in anything else, or was he?
"So you're not doing this because you like me or anything? This is just to get back at Stronghold?" His eyes had the same look in them now as they did then. Was he seriously interested in her? Layla shook it off. Of course not. She didn't know him well enough to read him. She smiled and gave him a playful shove.
Warren grabbed her arm and quickly found its match, pulling them both around his torso, forcing her back into his sphere. Their chests were touching and she could feel his heart beating quickly underneath his breast bone. But his face remained stony, the same threatening face she'd seen staring at Will their first day so many months ago.
But it wasn't threatening now. It was familiar, a friend's face. All of he pain that was hidden under the rage, she knew what it was, why it was there, how hard it was for him to control it. They were so close now, she could smell the Colgate on his breath. She swallowed and found herself staring at his mouth which was hovering dangerously close to hers.
"You're actually a pretty good dancer." She whispered, feeling her heart jumping at the back of her throat.
"I'm pretty good at a lot of things." Layla was scared. She'd never been this close to someone this dangerous before. Once, in middle school, she and Will had partnered up to practice waltzing in gym class. He had no rhythm and his palms kept sweating, but she had been in heaven. Now she was a breath away from the best dancer she'd ever been with, one of the hottest boys at school and possibly the most attractive, once he'd gotten his hair out of his face…
Following the thought, Layla reached up and brushed a stray bit of hair out of his eyes and behind his ear. It was surprisingly soft, not as oily as she'd thought it was. Her hand seemed to be working on it's own, tracing down his jaw line and resting flatly against his cheek. His eyes closed and she felt him grow warmer.
Let's make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don't say we'll never find a way
And tell me all my love's in vain.
"I'm not Stronghold's stand-in." He said quietly, his eyes still closed. Layla caught her breath, more audibly than she'd planned. He did want her, he was serious, she was reading him correctly. Her head felt numb. Warren Peace liked her? It made about as much sense as Will dating a super villain.
"No one ever said you were." She whispered.
"You're shaking." He said, the corner of his mouth lifting slightly.
"I'm cold." She lied. Her whole body was flushed, even though an unsteady shake was trembling her limbs and making her knees feel weak. She wrapped her other arm around his waist more tightly, her fingers taking a handful of the back of his vest.
Warren opened his eyes and smiled a bit more. He ran his hands along her arms, his skin oven-like. Her arms goose bumped at his touch and she shivered. She took in a sharp breath and Warren laughed.
"You really don't have much experience with guys, do ya hippie?"
"Well, I just wasn't interested in middle school, I mean the boys were so…" She faltered under his gaze. She had been too busy following Will around to notice anyone else. Besides, guys like Warren didn't go to her old schools. She was pretty sure guys like Warren didn't exist anywhere else.
"No." She said quietly. Warren nodded slowly and took her hand off his face.
"Oh, sorry about that. Sometimes my mind just-"
His lips cut her own off. It was strange, her first kiss. It wasn't like she'd thought it would be. She thought it would be with Will in her mother's garden surrounded by jasmine vines. She felt his hand snake back into the small of her back and he pulled her closer into him. He pulled away and looked down at her, hi face once again a calm blank.
Layla lingered with her eyes closed for a moment. "Oh," She managed finally, "So that's what that's like." Warren laughed again and let her go, keeping a hand on her back to keep the still shaking girl steady.
"Are we getting back at Will?" She asked, her voice slightly light and dreamy.
Warren smiled. "I don't think so, no."
"So, what are we doing?"
"I thought you weren't so into labels?" He smiled and held out his hand. She placed her own in his and their fingers interlaced once more.
Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind.
Voila. Hope you enjoyed. I know I did. I'm off now to dream of Warren setting my own little heart aflame. Ciao.