A/N: Before beginning the fic, it is essential that you sing an original rendition of "Happy Birthday To You," because this is no ordinary Bit/Leena.
Vega: Well, it is...but you're just posting it on a very opportune day.
Fade: -glare- Shut up. turns to birthday girl, better known as The Masked Instigator, waves Hi! This is for you, dearest soul sister, because you are the most beautiful and intelligent person I know. And you wanted a romance, anyway. And it was about time I did something as spectacular for you asyou always do for me. So I hereby dedicate this fic to The Masked Instigator, who already has so many gifts she barely needs anything from me...but here you go, anyway! Have an amazing birthday, dear...may all your dreams come truuueee (voice cracks, everyone cringes) ...I love you!
(Psst...go read her fics...they're incredible)
Behind Closed Doors
Hands…(above?) head. Right foot over…here. Right. No, left. Poised…graceful…step, step, step- "OW!" The redhead fell to the ground in a heap, cursing and rubbing her left shin.
A knock at the door put a halt to her frustrated muttering. "Leena? Are you okay?"
Dammit, Bit. "I'm fine, fine…just, er, tripped over my lamp. Yeah."
"Right." Bit shook his head and began to walk away from the door. He hadn't taken more than a few steps before he turned back. "Um, what's your lamp doing on the floor?"
"God, Bit, what is this? It's just there, okay? Go away!" The pain in her leg was making her more irritable than usual. As she heard his footsteps fading she slumped back against the bed, tugging at her crimson locks. It really had seemed like a good idea at first…
Ominous swelling just above her ankle marked the beginnings of another bruise. With a sigh she heaved herself up and decided to head for the kitchen-whatever her injuries, a cookie (or ten) would heal them.
The rest of the team was sitting around the table when she came in. Bit glared as she sauntered over to the cabinet to get a glass. Unfortunately, sauntering had become a bit more difficult these days.
"Leena, dear, are you limping?" Doc Toros looked up from his Pteras model and eyed her suspiciously.
"It's nothing Dad, I just tripped over a book I had lying around." Figuring it was best to avoid standing any longer than necessary, Leena pulled out a chair at the table and sat down with her glass of water and a cookie, ignoring Bit's grimace.
"You told me you tripped over your lamp!"
Leena scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous, Bit. You must have heard me wrong."
"But book and lamp don't so-OW!" Jamie jumped up from the table clutching his left foot while Leena smiled innocently. She saw Brad roll his eyes. Bit only continued to look venomous, furious at Leena for making him look like an idiot.
"I don't suppose you're ever going to tell us what you do in there all the time?" His eyes held something triumphant, thinking he had cornered her.
"In where?" She sipped her water nonchalantly, avoiding direct eye contact by staring just slightly above his nose. He was too busy frowning at her to notice.
"Your room!" He pointed an accusatory finger at the redhead. "We're always hearing crashes and you shrieking…" His eyes narrowed. "For all we know you could be plotting our downfall."
"No, she's trying on clothes for you, Bit. She plans to ask you out next week," Brad offered calmly.
Bit's glares were nothing compared to Leena. She promptly made a face and flipped off Brad, to which he smiled and returned to his magazine. He'd handled worse. Of course, he was sure she'd have some revenge planned later, but he could worry about that after coffee.
After ensuring that Brad understood his days were numbered, Leena turned back to Bit. "And since when is it ever any of your business what I do?"
"I think the planning of my murder should concern me!"
"Well of course it will, she couldn't do it without you."
"SHUT UP, BRAD!" Bit and Leena roared simultaneously. Furiously they turned on each other. "YOU SHUT UP!"
"What are you doing standing around outside my door all day, anyway, Bit Cloud?"
"I don't stand out there all day! You just happen to knock something over every time I'm walking by!"
Jamie muttered something about grocery shopping and Doc Toros left the table without a word, gathering papers and Zoid models into his arms. Brad was usually the only one who cared to stay around for a shouting match between Bit and Leena; in between battles it was the most entertainment he got.
Leena smashed a fist down on the table, narrowly missing the remains of her cookie. "You're just trying to get a look at me, aren't you? I bet that's it. You'll certainly never get a girl on your own!"
"That's funny, I never thought you were much of a girl!" Bit only had time to savor this remark a few seconds before he paled, realizing that he had crossed the verbal line, and the battle was about to become physical. He had a split second to sprint before Leena's fist came charging after him and she chased him out of the kitchen screaming, all pain forgotten.
Brad waited until he felt they were a safe distance away before downing the rest of his coffee and reaching for the phone. "…hey, Naomi? We're still on for dinner tonight, right? Good, because I've got this great story…"
"Ow. Ow. Ugh. Guess I should cancel my haircut for tomorrow afternoon, I'm not going into town looking like this…" Bit sighed in frustration at his reflection, tenderly examining his black eye. "She never beats me up like this for taking her cookies, crazy bitch-no!" His emerald eyes met with the crimson stains on his collar and he groaned. "Dammit, Leena, this was a new shirt…stupid bloody nose…"
"Other people have to use this bathroom, too, you know."
"Well excuse me princess, but other people aren't in abject pain." He grimaced at her high-pitched giggling. On any other girl Bit could appreciate it, but it didn't work for Leena. He knew she only did it when he was suffering to push his buttons.
"As far as I'm concerned, I did you a favor. You don't need to go in for that plastic surgery anymore; I fixed your nose for free."
Bit leaned his head against the mirror, willing himself to stay calm. "Haven't you tormented me enough today? Go play with Jamie."
"Oh, you're right itty Bit, I'm sorry. Open the door and I'll give you a hug." He rolled his eyes. Might as well open the door and make her go away… "LEENA!"
Leena's face twisted into a grimace the second she caught sight of him. "On second thought, forget the hug, you're filthy."
"L-Leena, you're not…wearing anything!" Bit stammered, staring at the towel wrapped around her slim body, serving to only just cover her up.
"Well I am here to take a shower. So, if you're finished mourning your new look, kindly step aside." Her expression was smug as she slipped past him.
Furious at having been caught off guard Bit let his mouth open without checking with his brain on what it was going to say. "Next time warn people before you go prancing around like that, you're lucky I didn't go blind."
Leena's amethyst eyes flashed. "Oh trust me, Bit, I plan on something much more painful for you than loss of vision." With that she slammed the door in his face.
Bit rolled his eyes as he started walking away. "As if the renovations to my face weren't enough…ask a girl what she does all day and get completely annihilated…well, Bit, what have we learned today?"
"That you should stop talking to yourself in the hallway, people are going to start wondering." Brad emerged from his room dressed to meet Naomi, running his fingers through his hair. He gave a low whistle at his friend's appearance. "You really did it this time, didn't you?"
"What? Why is she always the victim here? Aren't I the one who got pulverized?"
Brad shrugged. "Shouldn't be picking fights with girls, pal. It's not very gentlemanly. Oh, and if you plan on showing your face in public anytime soon, you might want to put some ice on that eye."
Bit scoffed at Brad's retreating back. "Thinks he's so cool just cause he has a girlfriend… doesn't make him cool, just makes him lucky…"
Dinner that night was a solemn affair. Doc was still shut up in his office, Brad was out, and Bit and Leena weren't speaking, leaving poor Jamie to try and make small talk. He might as well have struck up a conversation with the salad for all the good it did.
"So…um…how's the chicken?"
"Fine." Bit muttered, stabbing a piece of lettuce with his fork. Leena glared at him and didn't say a word.
"When do you think we'll battle again?"
"Eventually. Pass the salt."
"Um, it's kind of closer to Bit…"
"Jamie, pass the salt."
Jamie sighed. "Can't you guys just-"
At that moment Brad strode in, heading over to start a pot of coffee. Jamie was the only one to acknowledge his presence. "You're back early."
"Yeah, Naomi came down with something and I had to take her home. I see the three of you are having fun."
Jamie rolled his eyes as he got up to put his plate in the sink. While passing Brad he hissed, "Next time I'll take Naomi out, and you can stay here with them." Brad chuckled as he sat down at the table.
"Enjoying yourselves, kids?"
"I'm not a kid!" Bit protested.
"Could have fooled me," Leena muttered under her breath. Bit scowled and turned on her. "What?"
"Nothing, nothing…" Leena waved her fork in the air and picked a tomato out of her salad, popping it into her mouth. She turned to Brad, pointedly ignoring Bit's fierce expression. "Is Naomi all right?"
"Oh yeah, she's fine, just the flu. Shouldn't last more than a day or two."
"You don't think you caught it, do you?" Jamie asked nervously from the sink, clutching the bowl he was cleaning.
"Calm down, Jamie. She got sick in the middle of dinner, we didn't have time to engage in any activity that might have contaminated me."
Leena made a face. "I'd rather not picture that while I'm eating, if you don't mind."
"Like you'd even know what to picture," Bit grumbled as he moved his chicken around on the plate.
"Nothing, nothing…" He mimicked Leena's earlier action, brandishing his fork and blinking airily.
"Now you pick up the tomato," Brad offered.
Leena scoffed, tucking a scarlet strand behind her ear. "You're so immature."
"At least I don't go around tripping over lamps. Ahem, books. Your feet must be even bigger than your head."
"You're the one to be talking about big heads, you egotistical little jerk."
Brad whipped a little notebook out of his pocket. "Slow down guys, I need to get this all down for when I go visit Naomi tomorrow."
Leena scowled. "Sorry Brad, but you'll have to get your entertainment somewhere else, I'm done with this." She pushed back her chair and stalked out of the room, her half-full glass wobbling dangerously. Bit shook his head and turned to the others.
"Do you believe her? 'I'm done with this'…maybe you shouldn't start it then!" He yelled after her retreating form. All he got in response was the slam of a door. "Back to her room, of course…seriously what does she do in there?"
"Beats me, maybe you should ask her," Brad grinned wickedly.
"Shut up," Bit muttered. He too stood from the table, running a hand through his blonde hair wearily. "I'll find out eventually. She's got such a big mouth she can't possibly keep a secret…"
"Everything is just big about her, isn't it?"
"Yeah…her mouth and her feet and her stupid head…"
"And her b-"
Bit whirled around, finally catching on. "Keep talking and you'll go to Naomi's tomorrow in a body cast."
Brad tilted his head, pretending to contemplate this. "If I'm in a cast, how will I get there?"
"I'll mail you there."
"That's a lot of postage. You sure?"
Bit's smile turned sour. "You ruin everything."
"It's why I'm here."
Leena rolled over sulkily, hugging a pillow to her chest. Stupid Bit. You'd think punching the guy in the face would be enough…
Bit is a waste of time…She sighed and pulled herself up from the bed, trudging over to her stereo and lowering the volume. It was getting late, and this was the best time to practice…
"Okay…just take it slow…" Step. Step. Step. Twirl. Step. Step. Dammit Bit is such a jerk…step. Step. Asshole. St-next time I see him he's going to be sorry…
"Argh!" She stopped mid-step, tugging at her hair in utter frustration. How was it possible that even when he wasn't around he was still tormenting her? She sighed, silencing the stereo and falling back into her blankets. Clearly her emotions were too riled for her to get anything done tonight. There was a dull ache in her head too, making it that much harder to focus. She could only hope that the green-eyed bane of her existence wouldn't creep into her dreams…
"Hey, Leena! Wake up! It's my birthday!"
Leena rolled over and groaned. Apparently all ill will between her and Bit was forgotten in light of his birthday celebration. Eighteen and still five mentally. Ugh. This was exactly what she didn't need. Last night had not been a peaceful one. Every time she turned her headache seemed to get worse, and then it was joined by stabbing pains in her side. As if that weren't enough, every snatch of sleep was punctuated with dry coughs and images of Bit, always standing far too close to her.
"LEEEEENNNNAAAA!" She pulled the blanket over her head. "Come on, it's been like a whole five hours since I was born eighteen years ago!"
Leena rolled her eyes at the door. "With a headache that makes even less sense than it normally would. Bit, I'm dying. I'm really not up for this right now."
"Yeah, you sound pretty shitty. I'm coming in."
"Thanks for the warning," Leena muttered as the door flew open and Bit strode into her room, already dressed and with an entirely too big smile on his face. The grin faltered a bit in light of her appearance.
"Leena, you look terrible." Ack. That concern was just a bit too heavy. "I mean, more terrible than usual."
"Haha. You should talk. I still wake up every day and give thanks that I'm not you."
"Do you have a fever?" Bit was suddenly at her side, placing a cool hand on her forehead. She gazed up at him in surprise and he caught himself, snatching his hand away. "Er, I mean, because you'd have to to say you don't want to be like me."
She burrowed herself deeper into her bedcovers and sighed, ignoring him. "I think so. I must have caught Naomi's flu."
Bit's face twisted in confusion. "But I saw Brad already and he looks fine."
"Yeah well he was probably too busy passing the sickness on to me to catch it himself." Leena rolled her eyes and pouted. "This sucks. I hate being bedridden."
"It doesn't suck when you have someone waiting on you."
She raised her eyebrows. "You're going to wait on me?"
"Hell no." He looked shocked at the thought. "Maybe Jamie will, though. He loves being a slave."
"It's being a friend, Bit, not a slave."
Bit shrugged. "Whatever you say. All I know is, Brad's my friend, and he never waits on me."
Leena shook her head in disgust. "Sometimes it's hard to believe you have any friends at all…ugh." She groaned as her stomach lurched and forced a stream of bile back down. "And unless you want a rerun of my dinner for a birthday present, I suggest you leave the room."
He backed away warily. "Well if you start feeling better you know…come on out. This is one of the few days in the year you're required to be civil to me and I don't want to miss out on it." He flew out of the room before she could respond. A second later his head reappeared in the doorway. "But only if you're really sure. I don't want you barfing all over my presents."
"BIT!" A pillow hit the space where his head had been moments before. She could hear him chuckling all the way down the hall and clenched her fists. He wasn't going to stay that happy if she could help it. Leena Toros was not one for suffering alone…she was going to bring him down with her.
Darkness had already fallen when Leena tiptoed tentatively out of her room, still in her pajamas. Her stomach had calmed down sometime around late afternoon, and walking was no longer as dizzying as it had been. Hopefully she could catch him alone…yes. There he was on the couch, face a fuzzy indigo from the glow of the television. She was just steeling herself, reviewing her intentions, when he looked up at her.
"There's extra cake on the kitchen counter."
Leena glared and put her hands on her hips. "You think that's what I'm here for? I do care about other things besides eating, you know."
"Really?" Bit cocked his head, studying her. "Like what?"
The redhead struggled to keep her temper as she sauntered over to the couch and sat down, sitting a bit closer to him than she usually would. "Like spending time with my friend on his birthday."
Bit narrowed his eyes and stared at her. "Cut it out, Toros, what do you really want?"
She slid a little closer, left hand a bit too close to his leg. "To give you your present, of course. You know I haven't done that yet."
"Right…" He was looking a bit nervous at the prospect of having her so close. His efforts to back up failed, as he was already up against the arm of the couch, and he was stuck just staring at her hesitantly, trying to read her motives. Her fingers brushed his thigh and he nearly jumped over the couch. "Er, Leena? Exactly what is this present?"
"Close your eyes," she told him devilishly. He scoffed, seeming to regain a bit of composure.
"No way would I ever close my eyes around you. There are too many things you could do."
"Itty Bit, it's your birthday, I'm not going to do anything to you. Now go on, close your eyes."
He didn't know why he listened to her. He really didn't. He never had before. All he knew was his mouth was being smothered by hers, and it was wet and strawberry-flavored, and it sent chills from his throat all the way to the pit of his stomach, only it really wasn't supposed to. When he felt their lips part he opened his eyes, staring dazedly at her.
A small smile played on her mouth. "Happy birthday, Bit Cloud." She then got up and left the room as quickly as she had come, sweeping away, grinning triumphantly.
He sat there, fingers on his lips, only one thought on his mind.
What the hell was that?
He woke up in agony. There were fireworks in his head. His stomach sashayed with nausea and his throat burned. When he spoke, it was only to croak out one word. "Leena…"
The door burst open as though responding to his voice. "Oh, what an absolutely gorgeous morning, wouldn't you agree?" She strode over and opened his curtains, ignoring his protesting moan. "Well go on, get up, the sun won't wait around for your lazy ass all day." She turned and mock-gasped at his appearance. "Why, Bit, what's the matter? You look awful."
"You…you did this to me." He let out a hacking cough, shaking.
"Oh don't be ridiculous, now how would I do that? You must have a fever. Shall I go see if Jamie wants to wait on you? Ahem, be your slave."
Brad appeared in the doorway looking oddly smug. "Hey Leena, you're looking better." His glance strayed to Bit. "You look like you've been run over."
Bit raised a weak finger and pointed accusingly at Leena. "It's her fault."
Brad shook his head, grinning. "Oh come now, you can't possibly be arguing again. I saw you on the couch last night. Who would have guessed you two would ever get it on?"
"She didn't do that because she wanted to." Bit glared daggers at Leena, who was trying to look innocent and refrain from laughing.
"I really don't think there's too many other reasons to kiss someone, Bit."
"Well apparently it's either a) you like them or b) YOU WANT TO GIVE THEM YOUR CONTAGIOUS DISEASE!" The yelling turned into a hacking cough and Brad grimaced.
Leena laughed, a light giggle made worse through her half-concealing it with her hand. "Oh, did I give you my little bug? Poor itty Bit. Don't worry, though, it's only a 24-hour thing."
"So I only vomit and cough and experience intense pain for a day? Oh this is the best birthday present ever!" Bit scowled. "You had better be far away when I regain my health, because I am going to strangle you."
"Now now, Bit, don't threaten women. It's not proper." Leena tossed her crimson hair over her shoulder, laughing as she whisked out of the room.
"That's not a woman. That's the spawn of Satan."
"Ouch, Bit. That was harsh."
Bit turned his glare on Brad. "Don't make me kiss you."
"Hey man, you'll be the one who has to deal with Naomi. Who, ideally, I have to go meet now. Try to sleep it off. Maybe Leena will agree to join you."
"You did hear the part about how she did this to get me sick, right?"
Brad looked at him knowingly. "So look me in the eye and tell me you didn't like it."
Bit's eyes fell immediately to his blanket. He felt as though he was about to throw up everything he had ever eaten. He stayed silent.
"Just as I thought."
"Close your eyes"…and then her mouth was on his and his mouth was on hers…she remembered his hesitation, that flavor of uncertainty that vanished when he kissed her back, harder, his tongue trailing across her lower lip…
And it had tasted so hot…she had been burning up with fever and he with apprehension…
She blinked wildly, glancing around. "Huh? Jamie?" She shook her head, crimson locks flying, trying to disengage herself from the memory.
Her teammate studied her with an anxious expression. "Are you sure you're feeling all right? You look really spaced out."
"No…no, I'm fine." She pressed a hand to her head, willing her thoughts to stop. If only everything would stop spinning and just come together logically…maybe then she could figure things out… "Just a little tired, that's all."
Jamie didn't look convinced. "Maybe you should go lie down…I think this flu is worse than we thought. Bit's been out of it all day."
"Flu…right…" she muttered, rising from the couch. Any aftermath of her sickness was the least of her problems right now.
"I'll save you some dinner if you want." Leena managed a weak smile.
"Thanks, Jamie. I think I just need a little rest." She left the room mentally chastising herself.
Note to self: Couch is not a good place to lose yourself. Stick to your bedroom. She sighed as she threw herself down onto the bed. Her head was in a frenzy, her stomach felt like a waterslide, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the flu.
"Close your eyes"… She moaned pitifully.
Leena Toros, what is the matter with you?
Talk about a plan that backfired.
If this was the price he had to pay to kiss a girl, he was better off being single. Bit groaned, pressing his palms against his eyes. Any hope of "sleeping it off" was destroyed by his inability to go more than fifteen minutes without finding himself in the bathroom again. He hadn't even eaten anything today. What was he throwing up, his pancreas?
He had to hand it to Leena, this was certainly the most successful revenge she'd ever come up with. Brilliant, really. If it was happening to anyone other than him, he might even find it funny. He turned on his side, reaching for the water glass on his bedside table. It was empty. "Dammit." Alright, he took it back, it wasn't funny anymore. He stared at the glass pleadingly, in hopes that it would fill now that he had renounced his statement of finding the suffering of others amusing. Nothing. God. Of course.
A head of bright red hair appeared in the doorway, grinning. "You rang?"
"You're not Jamie," Bit grumbled, pulling the covers over his head sourly.
"Very astute. He's out. Brad's out. Dad's working. Bit Cloud, I'm your only hope. Of course, I'm not going to come too close. I've heard this is one nasty bug."
"Have you really," a muffled grunt came from underneath the mountain of blankets. Leena silently praised him for making this easy. Teasing Bit was fun. Having to look into his eyes while doing it, which led her to his mouth, which reminded her how it tasted, which made her realize that she wanted to taste it again, which-Ack. Stop. It would be easier to avoid him. It really would. But she wasn't that kind of person. Though when Bit finally emerged from under the covers, she wished she were a coward who had stayed safely in her room.
What she didn't know was that Bit had been hiding his face for his sake as much as hers. It was good not to see her. His eyes strayed to her mouth, full and pink, and he started choking. Leena did her best to look disgusted.
"Gorgeous, Bit, really. But what do you want?"
That could be answered lots of ways, he reflected grimly. "A glass of water, if your majesty is so willing." At last, his mouth obeyed him. This thinking-before-speaking thing really did work.
Leena tilted her head in mock consideration. "Well, I suppose it's the least I can do, since I did put you in this position, after all. Cover up your head again, I'm not catching this flu." And I'd rather not stand so close to you while I can see your face. He obeyed quietly, albeit not without rolling his eyes. She reached for the glass, glad that he couldn't see her hand shaking. "Um, I'll be right back."
Bit sighed as he heard her leave the room. He contemplated emerging from his hideout, if only to get another look at her, but decided it wasn't safe. She'd be coming back entirely too close to him…and he was delirious, wasn't he? Who knew what he would do? He closed his eyes and firmly tried to remind himself that it was Leena's fault he was like this in the first place. But all things considered, not a bad way to catch the flu, is it? He glared at the voice in his head. Shut up.
"Alright, here." He heard the glass being set down on the table. "Can I go watch TV now, or does itty Bit require something else?"
"Actually your leaving the room is exactly what I'd like right now," he murmured bitterly. To give me some peace of mind, please.
"Fine by me." She was halfway to the door when she heard a mumbling coming from under the blankets. "What was that?"
"You should wear your hair like that more often."
Leena froze, instinctively putting a hand to her head. Her crimson tresses were half up, half down, random strands falling out to frame her face. It had been a two-second job on her part. She stared at the lump on the bed that was Bit, unconsciously fingering her hair. "You have a fever, don't you?"
"Like you wouldn't believe."
A week later found the base in an unusual pattern. Doc, Brad, and Jamie tried to go about business as usual, but the awkwardness of Bit and Leena tended to throw them off a bit. The two had been tiptoeing around each other, stealing glances when they thought no one was looking. Bit wasn't pilfering cookies and Leena was twice as clumsy as ever. The silence that had settled around the base was eerie. For the first time everyone was able to appreciate how much Leena's screaming added to the atmosphere. Without it, everything was flat.
Said redhead had always prided herself on keeping up an appearance of normalcy no matter what the circumstances. However, even she had to admit that her jibes at Bit were far less biting than usual. And he wasn't even trying.
"Shit," Leena muttered under her breath. Everyone was gathered around eating dinner. Jamie and Doc were engaged in conversation about something or other, and Brad was pretending to sip his coffee while actually watching Bit and Leena, stuck side by side through Brad's own cunning. Reaching for the pepper, after nearly tipping over her glass, Leena had knocked her fork off her plate and onto the floor. For the third time.
"I'll get it," Bit mumbled, ducking his head under the table. It was worth it not to see her bend over again. Who wore such revealing clothes to an everyday meal? Honestly. He fumbled for the fork, finally managing to grasp the handle. As he was bringing his hand back up, his knuckles grazed the milk-white of Leena's bare leg. She immediately started choking on her mouthful of rice, earning startled looks from the rest of the table. Bit wordlessly placed the fork at her side, trying desperately to avoid Brad's eyes.
After a few minutes and another glass of water Leena finally stopped cursing and spluttering. Bit still hadn't managed to lift his eyes from his lap but he was aware of the fury emanating from the redhead at his side. He was going to pay in blood.
Leena was fuming. Choking. She'd started choking. And she was convinced her heart had skipped a beat. So Bit had almost killed her. And made her look like an idiot, in all of ten seconds. Never mind that she had only wanted his hands on her for over a week now…
She waited until everyone else's attention had drifted before acting. Then, trying to convince herself that the tingles in her fingers were the aftermath of rage, nothing more, she placed a firm hand on his thigh and squeezed.
His reaction was exactly what she'd hoped for. Bit leapt up from his chair, upsetting his glass and hers and sending the chair itself flying backwards. The contents of the table rocked precariously. Brad, to his credit, managed to keep a straight face, even when Bit tripped over his fallen chair. Leena had no such self-control. She'd cracked up the instant her hand left his leg, and hadn't been able to stop laughing since.
She laughed even harder when he turned to her, steaming, clearly wanting to confront her but not wanting to risk making himself look stupid in front of everyone else. Bit's fists were clenched. When he spoke, his words were surprisingly lucid. "Leena, could I speak to you for a moment?"
"Well you don't need my permission, itty Bit." She sniggered into her water glass. "Go right ahead."
"Oh, all right, if you insist." She rose, leaving the rest of the table in a confused quiet, still not quite sure what had just transpired. Brad leaned back in his chair, looking very satisfied.
"So who wants to renew those Bit and Leena relationship bets? I'm guessing it's going to happen sooner than we thought."
"What the hell was that?" He had her pressed up against the wall, towards the end of the hallway where there was no danger of being overheard. Judging from his gritted teeth and flaring eyes, escape wouldn't be easy, or especially smart.
"You first," she hissed back, determined not to break eye contact.
"What are you talking about?" Shit. He'd looked away. There was no way he'd convince her it had been an accident.
The role-reversal was instant. Leena was furious. "Oh, like it was Jamie who suddenly decided to see how far he could get under the table? You're revolting."
"Well next time I'll let you get your own fork when you drop it for the thousandth time."
His weight shifted, pressing into her just that little bit harder. "And what about you? There's no way you can convince me that was unintentional. Nice attempt at turning me on, by the way. I can only hope you'll get better."
"Payback, Bit. Surely you're familiar with it." She scowled. "And back up a step, would you? I'd think you'd know better than to touch me after what just happened."
The blonde gave an uncharacteristic scoff. "Please. If I wanted to touch you, I'd do this."
All the willpower that had been keeping Leena from bashing Bit in the face was suddenly transferred to keeping her from gasping aloud. His bare hand had slipped to her knee, and was languorously traveling up her thigh. The calloused touch shocked her. Thank God I remembered to shave today. It wasn't until his fingers were skimming the edge of her skirt that she regained herself and slapped his hand away.
He smirked, mainly to cover up his own alarm at what he had just done. There was no way of hiding his surprise, however, at the sudden triumphant spark in Leena's violet depths. Before he could judge what was happening she had grabbed his collar.
"And if I wanted to turn you on, I'd do this." In one swift motion Bit was the one up against the wall with Leena pressing into him, one deliberate knee grazing his thigh. She reached one delicate, cream-fingered hand up to brush the golden tresses out of his eyes…
"OW! Shit, Leena!"
She cringed, glad he couldn't see the crimson rushing to her cheeks. "Er, sorry."
"I think I'm blind."
His histrionics helped her salvage composure. "Don't be overdramatic, you're fine."
"Well, it's no mystery that you're single. You're not even compassionate." Bit pouted, palm still pressed over his right eye. "I feel sorry for anyone you've dated. Kiss them, and they spend the next day in the bathroom. Try to turn them on, they lose an eye. When was the last time you cut those fingernails, anyway? Damn."
Leena crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him, taking a few good steps back. "And how many girls have you watched choke to death because you tried to get under their skirt during dinner?"
"None, that was something especially for you."
"Oh, well don't I feel unique and violated. Please, never date me."
"Wouldn't dream of it."
Oops. Too late for that.
"So where did you two go last night?"
"Nowhere." He crossed his arms and kept his eyes on the television.
"Oh come now, Bit, you can tell me. I already have a girlfriend; I know what it's like. Think of me as…a giver of advice."
"I don't need any advice, Brad."
"You mean you already got her in bed?"
"I'll take that as a resounding no…"
"Brad, shut up. Now."
His friend grinned mischievously. "Oh, itty Bit, no need to-"
"Don't call me that."
"Alright, alright…" Brad tilted his head dubiously. "Are you sure nothing happened to your eye? It still looks-"
"Yes, I'm sure, would you stop asking me that?" Bit threw the remote to the ground and stood up, fuming. "What is it with everyone around here? You'd think tormenting me would earn you guys money or something." He stormed out of the room, still muttering furiously.
No sooner than he had left did Leena come in, throwing herself down on an armchair without a word to her teammate. Ever since dinner the night before her new stance on things was to avoid all contact and conversation. It was kind of a fun game to Brad, actually. Like trying to get those British guards to talk.
"Leena, just make-out with the boy already."
She blinked, giving no indication that she had heard him.
"It would save everyone a lot of trouble."
She let her hair down and put it up again. She changed the channel.
"I mean he talks about you all the time."
Leena paused mid-fidget, turning her head to look at him. "He does?"
She glared, clenching her fists. "You asshole."
He sighed as she turned back to the television. "No, but he might as well. Come on, Leena, we both know-"
"Know? Know what?" She rounded on him, crimson strands flailing. "I don't know about anything that concerns Bit Cloud and me, because I don't feel anything about Bit Cloud. Nothing. At all."
"I mean it would be ridiculous, right? Me and Bit, whatever. And, what am I saying, there is no 'me and Bit'!" Her voice rose rather shrilly as she used finger quotes to emphasize her point.
"As if I actually care that he touched my leg, of course I don't care, what's to care about? Just because no one has ever touched me like that before or anything doesn't mean I have to get all giddy about it, right? I mean what am I, some kind of shrieking overemotional teenager?"
"I don't like him. Do you hear me? I don't like Bit Cloud at all."
"Good. Go tell him that."
The girl bounded up from her seat, lavender eyes wildly bright. "You know what, I think I will! In fact, I'm going to tell him right now." Leena strode from the room resolutely, the hair that she had been twisting around her fingers thrashing chaotically about her shoulders. Brad shook his head as the last pleat of her skirt disappeared from view.
"Yes, please do. If you two don't hook up in the next four hours I lose twenty bucks."
Bit Cloud, I am here to announce that I…don't like you. At all. Right, that'll work. She drew in her breath, flattened her hair…
"SHIT! Bit, don't do that!"
"Don't do what, open my own door?" He blinked in bewilderment, watching amusedly as Leena huffily composed herself.
"Well don't just come bursting out of there like…like…"
"Like it's my room?"
Leena opened her mouth, shut it, and narrowed her eyes in a scowl. This was the idiosyncrasy that indicated her lack of something to say, and Bit's cue to relax. He let the door close behind him and leaned against it smugly, scrutinizing the girl in front of him with a critical eye.
"And to what do I owe the pleasure of your stalking me?"
"Standing outside your door is hardly stalking," Leena scoffed, madly fingering her necklace.
"But I used to stand outside your door, and you used to tell me that it was stalking, and-"
"Oh, so you admit to hanging around outside my room?"
"To try and get a look at me?"
"As if I don't see enough of you every day," he muttered. Accidental eye-contact let on that he hadn't muttered quietly enough.
"You know, Bit," Leena snapped, hands falling away from her necklace to gesture in the air, "I'm glad you said that, because it reminds me of why I'm here at all." She took a step back, using the distance as an ally. Amethyst stared straight into emerald, because when she was furious with him it was okay to look. "I don't like you, Bit Cloud. Not at all." A smile followed the words, one that spread wide enough to calm her mind. That had almost been fun.
Bit gazed at her. The foreign hue that had shaded his eyes faded almost immediately, and he moved forward until she could feel his exhales on her cheeks. "So you don't like me."
"No." Leena kept her gaze constant, trying not to show how this unexpected reaction unnerved her. Her shock increased when his blank look morphed into a crooked smile.
"So when I do this," his hands shimmied down her sides and came to rest on her hips, fingers sneaking just under the rim of her shirt, "you don't like it."
"I…no." She was about to faint, maybe, and she didn't like that…
"And if I were to do this," he lowered his face into her neck, exhaling gently on the fragile skin, "you'd tell me to stop."
"N-yes, yes." Her lungs were gasping. There wasn't nearly enough air in this hallway. Had that always been a problem in the base? She couldn't remember. She was shaking.
He emerged quietly, eyes coming back to meet hers, jade serene and unaffected while violet trembled with the unknown. She didn't like this. She didn't. Well, maybe if he kept moving his fingers like that…
"And I'd guess," his voice had dropped to a whisper, "that if I were to do this," one hand moved to slowly tilt her chin upwards, "you wouldn't like it." His mouth was brushing the corner of hers when she flinched and jerked away, spitting words out so fast they were tripping over her tongue.
"I-I have to-go," was all he caught before she fled, untouchable-girl image shattering with every successive footstep. Bit sighed heavily and collapsed against the wall, brushing sunlit strands out of his face.
"Such a great lead-in, and it still doesn't work out the way I'd hoped…"
Oh shit. Fuck. That had so not been good.
The redhead was pacing furiously, wringing her hands and tugging at her hair and necklace and sleeves…she was going to break something if she kept this up. It was just…what had happened…it had…what had happened?
That encounter was so completely not her and Bit that she had no idea what to make of it. Forget Bit, it was completely not her. Since when did Leena Toros run away from anything? Much less a boy…Christ, she felt like she was thirteen! "I have to go"? What the hell kind of reaction was that?
She never should have tried to teach herself. It just led to his suspicion, which led to an increase in their fighting, which led to…shit, her kissing him? Well she had been sick, sick people weren't in their right mind, that's why there were doctors and hospitals to keep them from doing stupid things like kissing boys who were supposed to be just friends.
Shit. Shit. If there was one thing she could do besides making cookies, it was ruining chances.
Leena sighed moodily, roughly poking the play button on her stereo. If nothing else perhaps a few simple songs would take her away from this…yes, losing her mind in steps and twirls was very welcome. Wait, losing? No, she meant calming, yes, calming.
"Leena? Can I come in?"
She was not to be undone again. Stereo, off. Door, open. "Bit."
He looked at her unsteadily. "Why'd you turn the music off?"
"There was music on, you turned it off before you opened the door."
"Does it matter?"
"Are you hiding something?"
She laughed. It stopped just short of bitter. "Still want to know what I'm doing in here, don't you?"
Actually I came by to find out what makes my kiss so repulsive but sure, I'd love to know. "Uhh…"
What the hell. Her grin surprised both of them. "If you laugh I'll deck you."
He smiled, stepping rather uneasily into the room. "I don't doubt it." His gaze followed her carefully, the blink of her eyes, the sway of flowing skirt against her legs, the messy precision of her hair. Imperfection was never so alluring.
She took a breath and closed her eyes, not wanting to see him seeing her doing this. Why was she doing this? Because it will bring him back, something far away whispered. Bring him back to where, she didn't bother asking, or caring. It sounded right.
It started slowly. The practicing really had made her better; she was in time with the music now. Step, twirl, step step, and all Bit could do was stare, struck. The idea that such aggressiveness could move so timidly was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Leena went far away when she danced. She managed not to jump when the song faded and she opened her eyes to find Bit, not even bothering to pretend that he hadn't been gaping at her the entire time. She switched off the stereo resolutely and stood, staring back at him with one hand on her hip.
Bit was still processing. "You can…dance?"
"Well I'd like to think that's what I just did, yes," she told him rather shortly, dropping her eyes. It was too much. "I taught myself," she mumbled to her shoes.
A girl who could waltz and pull off a Weasel Total Assault. He had nothing to say. Something in her shuffling feet broke the tension, though, because it was nice to see her nervous. He blinked. He had to touch her.
Leena looked up when he came in front of her, peering resolutely into his face. His hands splayed across her hips as he smiled down at her. "You're such a freak, you know that?"
She glared acidly stopping just short of sticking her tongue out. "Get your hands off me, Bit Cloud." With all the firm hostility in her tone, she made no move to get away.
His grip tightened, fingers ruffling the edges of her skirt. "What if I don't want to?"
"Well you don't really have a choice." This time she did walk away, firmly placing her hands on his and removing them from her waist. She moved to lean against the wall. He didn't follow.
"Don't whine, it's very pathetic."
Now he was stepping forward. "What do you want from me?"
She smirked, sidestepping his grip. "Not what you're apparently eager to give."
"That's funny, because you seemed eager enough half an hour ago."
Leena smiled benignly. "Subtlety, Bit. It's a girl's best friend."
"Well, it's not mine." His mouth covered hers before words could come, and for all her refusal, the nonverbal response was quite accepting. Cooler but more demanding than the first kiss, Leena found herself nearly collapsed against the wall by the time they broke apart, relying on Bit to keep her balanced.
"If I wake up with malaria tomorrow I'm going to kill you," she murmured wearily. He chuckled, fingering her hair absentmindedly.
"The way I see it now, we have two options," he said in reply, gently pressing her into the wall. "We can go out and kiss on the couch and help Brad earn some money, or we can kiss here."
"Wrong. You forgot option number three."
Bit raised his eyebrows. "Which is…"
"I go to bed, and so do you. In your own room," she added forcefully at his hopeful expression.
His face fell in a pout, save the mischievousness in his emerald eyes. "I bet I can change your mind about that."
"I bet you can't."
The kiss was harder. Longer. Her knees buckled. She sighed into his mouth. "Alright, maybe a couple more hours…"
"No. Get out of here." She put a resolute hand to his chest and began pushing him towards the door. "You can go brag about this to Brad, and everyone will be happy."
"I'll give you a cookie-"
"Bye!" The door flung open so fast it nearly smacked her in the face. She was still standing there attempting to process everything when he reappeared.
"What kind of cookie?"
"What kind of cookie?" He repeated impatiently, nearly bouncing up and down.
She rolled her eyes. "Chocolate chip."
"Alright!" Bit bolted from the room once more, somehow managing not to trip over his untied shoes. Leena was closing the door when he rushed in again, grabbing her by the shoulders and accidentally lifting her a few inches off the ground in the process. She managed to swallow a startled string of expletives and opted to glare at her captor instead.
"Bit, I swear, if you do that one more-" He asphyxiated her words. For the frenzy he was in the contact was surprisingly placid. Her fingers tangled in his hair. He smiled at her dazed expression when they came apart.
"Thanks." A gentle tug of her loose hair and he was gone. Leena had just collapsed on her bed, mind whirling, when Brad shot breathlessly through the half-open door.
"Were you just-did Bit-did you-" He fell to his knees, pointing wordlessly.
"Brad?" Leena rose calmly and bent down in front of her friend. "Are you feeling okay?"
"You," he gasped wildly. "You kissed Bit!"
Leena shook her head pityingly, clucking her tongue. "I think someone caught that flu…you're hallucinating."
Brad opened his mouth to protest and promptly closed it. "I-what?" He threw an anxious hand to his head, still breathing hard.
The girl put a sympathetic arm around his shoulders. "Poor Brad, let's get you to bed," she cooed. He coughed dryly, firmly believing in the illness.
"Yeah…bed…" Brad mumbled dazedly. "Shit. I've been running around the base for the past hour, looking for you…and Bit, and-"
"Hush, hush, no need to worry about that now." She prodded him gently as they started down the hall, smiling. A few steps later Jamie came upon them looking startled. "What's wrong?"
"Oh, he's got a bit of a flu, nothing to worry about," Leena said brightly, grateful for the pathetically exhausted look on Brad's face.
"Leena…Bit…kiss…" Brad mumbled into his collar, head lolling.
Jamie's eyes widened. "What did he just say?"
Leena shook her head. "It's the fever talking," she whispered conspiratorially, patting Brad on the head.
"Oh," Jamie nodded seriously, taking a step back from Brad's mumbling form. "That must be one wicked sickness."
"Yes," Leena agreed firmly. "I believe it is."
A/N: Hurray for ridiculously long birthday one-shots! looks around Why aren't any of you cheering with me?
Vega: Well Fade, most of them gave up before they got to the end.
Oh...well that's too bad because now they miss the party. -confetti-