A/N: As you can see, this flash fic is different than all the rest so far. Instead of a one shot, this is the first chapter to a new, probably relatively short ficlet. Unlike my other stories, this is not planned out. I have a general direction in which I want this tale to go, but I'm going to let the prompts inspire me and dictate just how long this ficlet will be. If you have questions, just ask; otherwise, I hope you have fun with this new tale. Enjoy!

Charlynn

Shadows Have Offended

Chapter One
OCFF#3: A Midsummer Night's Dream

It was one of the last days of summer, and they were alone. No interruptions, no third parties, no plans, just the two of them, and that was something to be cherished. She watched him from across the patio, lounging relaxed and carefree on a pool chair, a heavy book in one hand as his other rested underneath his head. He was reading, absorbed in someone else's life, someone else's troubles, and, while there was a part of her that did not want to disturb him, there was another, a more demanding urge inside of her, to wanted to go to him, crawl up in his lap, and curl up in his embrace like a content kitten that just licked the cream.

Debating, she stood there, shifting bashfully from one foot to the other, twisting her towel in her hands but never once taking her gaze away from him. Making sure she didn't make a sound for she didn't want to disturb him, she waited, hoping for a sign as to what she should do, as to what he would want her to do. She knew she was being foolish. After all, he had never turned her away before, so why would he start now, but she also understood that sometimes a person needed their downtime, their personal, quiet time, and she didn't want to impose upon that, especially since their summer break would soon be over, and they would both be returning to the pressures and expectations of their everyday lives. But she should have known better.

Almost as if he sensed her presence, he glanced up from his novel, saw her standing across the patio from him, and smiled. It was always like that. Whenever one of them entered the room, even if the other's back was turned, they could always sense each other lingering near by. They shared a unique sense of awareness for the other, and it made her feel as if they were connected on a deeper, more united level than other couples; it made her feel as if their relationship was special. Putting his book aside, he held out his right hand towards her, beckoning her to join him.

"Come here," he whispered, his words both pleading and demanding in nature at the same time, and, of course, she could never deny him.

With those two softly spoken words, her nerves disappeared only to be replaced with a sense of confidence. She returned his smile and made her way towards him, instinctively adding a saucy swing to her hips, an enticing roll to the most primitively erotic curve of her body. Once at his side, she allowed him to wrap his still extended arm around her waist, pulling her down to sit pertly in his lap.

"So, what do you want to do today?"

Avoiding his gaze, she tossed her beach towel away and crossed her legs, allowing the long stems to glide smoothly across each other, knowing his murky blue eyes were following each and every one of her form's languid movements. "Well, we're alone right?" Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him nod quickly, his Adam's apple bobbing twice as he swallowed in rapid succession. "And it's been a while since it's been just you and me."

"It has," he agreed, his voice saturated with pleasure and anticipation. She couldn't help it; she had to smile at his obvious enthusiasm.

"So that's why I was hoping we could just stay here. You could read for a little while, and I could lay out, and, from there, we'll just see where the day take us."

"Really," he questioned her suggestion. "That's what you really want to do?"

Biting down on her lip to prevent herself from laughing, she had to admit that her boyfriend was too damn cute for his own good when he was disappointed and started to pout. It was just one of the reasons why she could never say no to him. Another was because she was hopelessly in love with the man holding her in his arms, and she knew he felt the same way towards her.

Decisively, she stated, "yes, it is. Now, lean back," she instructed him, "so I can get comfortable."

With a goofy grin on his face, he complied. Swinging one of her legs across his, she straddled him, lifting both of her arms above her head to tie up her long, blonde locks. Fascinated, she watched as his gaze lingered over her, drank her in, appreciated all the delicate, fine movements of her muscles as she fixed her hair and then dropped her hands to untie the strings of her bikini top. Unabashedly, she let the material fall down and flutter to the cement of the patio, baring her body almost completely to her boyfriend's greedy eyes.

Finally and without elevating his orbs of cobalt blue away from her chest, he asked in a shaky, aroused voice, "what are you doing?"

"I don't want tan lines," she responded as if the answer was obvious.

"And what about your bottoms?"

Oh, the man she loved was definitely mischievous and full of trouble, but two could play that game. "You need someplace to hold onto me so I don't fall off of you," she replied breezily, acting as if she didn't know what her words were doing to him, "and I can't have the print of your hand tanned onto my back, so we're going to have to compromise. I'm going to have to settle with not tanning in the nude, and you're going to have to hold me a little lower than you usually do." Innocently, she peered down at him, "is that okay?"

"I think I can manage."

Grinning at him appreciatively, she settled down, sprawling her tall form over his. Chests pressed intimately together, she nuzzled her face into his neck, placing several subtle, whispered kisses below his ear. Content she let her eyes drift shut as the sun overhead and her boyfriend's hand against her bikini clad, rounded derrière lulled her into a serene, tranquil rest.

They both knew that he wouldn't be able to read for that much longer and that she would quickly get bored with laying out, but, before they gave in to the passion they felt for each other, they would enjoy the comfortable, quiet, sensual moment in each others arms. After all, summer would come to a close sooner rather than later, and neither of them knew when another opportunity like the one they found themselves taking advantage of that afternoon would come their way.

With a start, Marissa found herself falling, being pushed out of the lounge chair and onto the harsh, unyielding concrete of the patio. Except, she hadn't been pushed; she had been kicked. Except, the lounge chair was instead a full sized bed, and, except, what was supposed to be a poolside patio was rather the scratchy material of her boyfriend's carpet.

It had all been a dream.

Suddenly depressed and unwilling to go back to the bed she had no desire to be in, the young woman quietly made her way out of the upstairs bedroom and crept down to the kitchen where she passed through the open terrace doors and went to stand outside. Being July, the evenings were warm enough that she wasn't chilled standing there exposed wearing only a light camisole and a pair of girl boxer shorts. Her hair, which had been pinned up before she went to bed, had come loose sometime during her sleep and was blowing gently with the light breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean. There were many bad, unpleasant things that had happened to her while living in Newport Beach, even at her tender age of eighteen, but California was still her home, the sea her steadying presence, and Marissa could not imagine leaving it, not even for her boyfriend.

"Isn't it a little past your bedtime?"

If it had been any other voice, the person behind her would have startled her, but not him. Turning around to face her moonlit companion, the blonde smiled in recognition. Those cobalt eyes always seemed to make her feel at ease, calm in her own skin. But she shouldn't feel that way. The man before her was not her boyfriend; he was not the childhood friend who had turned into her first love while they were in high school together. Instead, he was the brother of the man she was dating, the older, wiser, dangerously attractive brother she should not be having erotic dreams about at night.

Finally answering him, she responded, "I had a dream, and, after I woke up, I couldn't sleep."

"A nightmare?"

Unwittingly, she blushed, averting her eyes from his piercing, questioning gaze and pivoting back around to look out over at the ocean below. "No," the young woman finally murmured.

She could feel him moving behind her, could sense when he stopped and lifted his hands to rest them comfortingly against her shoulders. "Do you want to talk about it?"

And, just like that, he broke down every feeble, inadequate defense she had managed to build up between them over the years. In the fall, she would be going to school in San Francisco to study photography, Seth would be going to Rhode Island to attend Brown, his dream college, and Ryan would be going to Berkeley to study law, following in his adopted father's footsteps.

Sighing, Marissa attempted to explain. "Things are just… they're complicated right now. Seth and I, we used to make so much sense, but now…" Her voice trailed off, because she wasn't sure how much she should reveal her boyfriend's best friend and brother, how much should remain private and personal between her and the man she was supposed to love.

Seth didn't understand her dreams. He hated that she refused to follow him to the east coast, he hated the fact that she didn't want to be far from home, and sometimes it felt like the boy who had always been able to make her laugh, who had stood by her through some of the worst times in her life, didn't hear her anymore. He dismissed her art, refused to do things she liked, and made everything they shared together about him. But, on the other hand, he was still Seth; he was still the goofy, endearing guy who had meant more to her than anyone else ever had so far in her life. How did she move past that? Was it even possible?

Breaking her free of her thoughts, Ryan turned her around in his arms and starred into her eyes for several long, assessing minutes. When he spoke, his voice was smooth and reassuring. "People change, Marissa. Sometimes it's hard to realize that they have, that we have, and, most of the time, it's even harder to accept the changes, but you have to. It's a natural part of life." Lifting a hand to cup her jaw, he brushed back a few strands of hair that were sticking to her lips. Leaning in, he placed a tender, reassuring kiss to the tip of her nose before breaking their connection and stepping away. "If you ever need to talk, you know where to find me."

And, just like that, he vanished almost as quickly as he had first appeared. Going back inside, she shut the French doors, closing off the midsummer night from behind her. With butterflies dancing in her stomach, she made her way back to bed, wondering if the fairies were at work again.