As the sun rose up over Beverly Hills, a statuesque blonde appeared on her balcony to pick up last night's bottles.

There wasn't much about the previous evening's party that she could actually remember, but she did recall drinking WAY too much.

Her blue eyed scanned the balcony, the last uncleaned area of the house, finding a lone Heineken bottle that quickly joined the rest of the trash in the black garbage bag.

The young woman carried the bag into her kitchen, where she deposited it under the sink to be dealt with later. After pouring herself a glass of orange juice, the goddess-like twenty year old sat down on her leather couch, her long, white robe fanning out around her.

With a red-manicured fingernail, she clicked on the plasma television set.

"In 1974, a game of logic was created and became a worldwide sensation almost overnight."

"I'm not going to leave you…" a male voice assured the blonde on-screen as she tried to fight off a guerilla attacker, blasting her .45 millimeter at them as she hid behind a set of boulders.

She fired another shot, catching one man in the throat, before turning back to the man with blonde, spiky hair and an outfit consisting of a dirty olive shirt and matching cargos, "I'll be fine, James. Go!"

"Kara!" he yelled over the arms fire, grabbing at her arm.

"Go!" the young woman, in a pair of camouflage pants and a black tank, her blonde hair matted to her face, shook him off, stood up, and fired five shots off, catching five men in a row.

He looked from the men to her as she dropped back behind the barrier, "Okay, then. I'll be seeing you."

"But what if the game allowed one of the greatest secrets ever known to be hidden right before our very eyes?"

"Tell me where the cube is," an Arab man ordered as he stood over the blonde one, who was strapped to a chair, the camera focused just past the back of his head.

His face twisted into a wry smile, "It's… somewhere."

The interrogator smashed him in the face with his pistol, "Tell me where it is or I WILL kill you!"

"You'll never find it…"

The man cocked his pistol and pressed it to his captive's temple, "I'll count to five."

The sound of a hammer clicking echoed through the room as the camera made a one hundred-eighty degree turn, finally showing the man's face, but also showing the blonde standing behind him, her own gun pointed at the back of his skull, "I'll count to three."

"Brad Pitt," a deep voiceover announced and his name flashed on the screen.

Almost instantly, James was shown jumping off a cliff into the crashing waves below.

"Charlotte Mercury."

The 5'10" blonde was now seen outrunning a rapidly descending fireball through a cave.



"Damn, I look good," Charlotte mused, toasting the trailer with her glass of orange juice.

As it slid down her throat with ease, she wished she could feel the familiar burn of a good Screwdriver.

Rising to her feet, she made her way into the kitchen, her white robe trailing behind her.

On her way, the blonde caught a reflection of herself in the mirror over a frosted glass table. Her manicured hands rested on the edge, her cup of juice now sitting against the wall.

Her sapphire gaze flitted over her reflection for a moment, then drifted to a picture frame resting near her right hand.

She was born Charlotte Jane,

With a restless soul.

"Charlotte Jane Conover!" a loud voice bellowed. "Inside… NOW!"

The young British girl with long blonde hair sighed, "Mom… I don't want to come in. Five more minutes… please?"

"Please, Mrs. Conover?" the young boy with green eyes beside her plead.

The older woman sighed and shut the screen door to the backyard, "You've got ten minutes, Charlotte."

"Charlie!" the eleven year old girl groaned as she walked away.

"Hello, Mrs. Conover," the sixteen year old with green hair and matching eyes greeted his friend's mother. "Is Charlie home?"

The short-haired brunette nodded, "Let me get her. Come in."

"I'm coming!" Charlie yelled as she bounded down the staircase in a pair of destroyed jeans and a red tank.

"Charlotte," her mother scrunched her nose in disgust. "When are you going to get rid of those old blue jeans? They're so… ratty."

The teenager rolled her eyes, "No… they're not."

"Hey, Jeff," the statuesque blonde smiled at her friend as she packed the remainder of the boxes up to her old Chevelle.

"Hi, Charlie," he approached the twenty-two year old, kicking some dirt beneath his feet on the way. "Need any help?"

She plopped the last box into her backseat, "No, I'm just about done. Thank you."

"Oh…" Jeff nodded sadly, running his hand along the surface of the convertible.

"Jeff…" Charlie trailed off, approaching him from around the rear bumper. "I know that you don't want me to go, but you know this is my dream. You know I want to act."

"I know that, Char. It just… it just doesn't make it any easier."

She smiled and him sadly and reached for him, "Come 'ere."

Jeff obliged and embraced the slightly shorter young woman.

"I promise I'll call you as soon as I get there. We'll talk on the phone and e-mail all the time. I promise."

She moved West to California,

Became a centerfold.

"Char, I got you a job," her agent's voice crackled through her flip phone.

"You did?" her eyes widened as she whispered, hidden near the bathrooms in the restaurant she waited tables for.

"Mhmm…" she concurred. "A BIG one."

"Charlie!" a deep voice bellowed. "Get your ass back on the floor!"

The blonde winced, "Shit…"

"Charlie Conover," her agent suddenly grew stern. "You tell your buffoon of a boss that you quit… NOW."


"Tell him!"

"Okay…" she trailed off, trying to internally talk herself up.

"Charlie!" her boss boomed again.

Her head held high, she barreled around the corner and looked her boss in the eyes, "Eric… I quit!"

After pulling off her apron and throwing it at the man's feet, the model/actress steamed past the tables and stepped into the cool night outside.

Clutching her phone, she waited for a cab, "Gloria, you there?"

"Yes," her agent confirmed. "I'm here."

"Now tell me," she put her hand on her hip. "Why the hell did I just quit my job?"

Charlie could almost see the smile creeping up her lips, "Because you, Ms. Charlotte Mercury, are the newest Playboy Playmate."

But once you change your name, well the pieces fall.

Now she hardly recognizes herself at all.

Charlotte pushed off of the table, causing the frame to fall back to the floor.

Ignoring the thud, she picked up her glass and glided back onto the balcony once more.

It was hot again, bordering on sweltering and it was only going to get worse.

There were never droughts like this in England.

A part of her wished it would rain… just to bring him back again.

He always managed to show up in the rain.

And there's never any rain when you want it.

Outside of her new apartment, she heard an engine idle.

It had been raining all week in Southern California and the downpour was showing no sign of stopping anytime soon.

After sliding on a zip-up hoodie, the blonde opened the screen door and walked out onto the fourth floor landing, placing her hands on the rail that overlooked the parking lot.

The twenty-four year old watched as the door to a beat-up pickup truck opened and a man with red hair stepped out.

"Hardy!" Charlie screamed and began running down the hallway, then the stairs.

As she made her way to him, she couldn't help but notice the smile plastered on his soaked face. The moment she got to him, she threw her arms around him.

"Hey, Charlie," he laughed, squeezing her tightly. "Looks like California's done you right…"

"The WWE's been rather kind to you, as well," she winked at him. "I didn't know you guys were in town."

"Well, we're on a California tour, so I requested a few house shows off," Jeff grinned, running a hand through his now-dripping fire-engine red hair. "So what's this I hear about you being a Playboy centerfold…"

A hollow little game…

It was raining in Malibu… again.

At this rate, there wouldn't be a water shortage for years.

As Charlotte lay on her bed, clicking away on her remote control to pass the time, her doorbell rang.

"Coming!" she yelled as she clicked off the television and walked to the front door.

The door bell echoed through the condo again.

"I said I'm coming…" she exclaimed, tugging open the door to see a soaked man standing in front of her.

"Jeff?" the twenty-four year old asked.

"Hey, you," the younger Hardy brother greeted her.

"Oh, hi…" the statuesque blonde trailed off. "You should have let me know you were coming."

He couldn't help but laugh, "That's the point of a surprise, Char."

"I know," she nodded and left the door open as she made her way into the kitchen. "I just have a busy schedule starting today, that's all."

Jeff shrugged, "So I'll come with you. I don't care if it's a Playboy shoot. Scout's honor, I won't look."

The model/actress sighed. He just wasn't getting it.

"I have a bunch of readings for movies, Jeff," she explained, slipping on a pair of black slingbacks to match her miniskirt. "I'd love to take you along, but the only people allowed in are me and Gloria."


"My agent."

"Oh," he nodded, slightly stung by her answer. "Then after?"

Charlotte pointed to her suitcases on the couch, "I'm off to Australia to start work on my first movie."

The blue-eyed starlet bit her lip and stared down at her expensive Manolo Blaniks.

"That sucks," Jeff stated dejectedly. "We don't come back to California until next summer."

She looked up from her shoes, "The moment you find out those exact dates, e-mail me them. I'll put them into my calendar and we'll plan something, okay?"

Jeff nodded, "You've got it, Charlie."

The blonde laughed, "Call me Charlotte. Charlie is such a baby name."

And you've won it.

The door behind her creaked open as a still-wet figure snuck up behind her.

"Guess who."

Charlotte whipped around in fear, only to find a sopping wet man standing in the foyer, "Jeff."

"Hey, Charlie…" he shook his head with a slight smile. "I mean, Charlotte. Sorry."

She waved it off with a French-manicured hand and stood up from the box she was unpacking, "It's fine…"

His green eyes flicked around the new house, which, for the most part, was decorated, "You know, I like this place better than Malibu."

"Jeff, what are you doing here?" Charlotte asked him point blank, tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear.

"Good joke, Char."

"I'm serious," she replied, sliding her hands into her pockets. "I have to be at the airport in a few hours."

"Another movie in Australia?" Jeff snapped with a shake of his head.

"No, actually. Brad Pitt and I are filming a new movie in Canada in a few weeks," she explained, grabbing her water bottle off of the kitchen counter to his right. "It's my first action movie, so he thought it'd be fun to head up a bit early and do some off-roading."

Looking for a thrill…

"Oh yeah?" Jeff nodded, sarcastically impressed. "And how about Angelina and the kids?"

"Maddox is coming with us," Charlotte stated simply with a smile. "He's such a cute little boy. He's just like his mother. Unfortunately, Angie won't be coming with us. She's staying at their condo and taking care of Z, Pax, and Shiloh."

But you've done it all.

Jeff just stood there in his self-made puddles on the tiled floor, his mouth agape at his friend.

The Cameron-native just couldn't believe what she'd become.

Charlie was the biggest tomboy in school for as long as he could remember. There was never a single football game that was played without her in it.

He didn't even know if she'd picked up a football since she'd moved out West.

Jeff shook his rainbow head sadly, "I don't even know you anymore."

Charlotte laughed as she began to water the plants in the family room before she had to leave, "What are you talking about?"


"Charlotte," the blonde corrected him.

"That's exactly what I'm talking about!" he yelled at her in complete and total frustration. "My best friend in the entire world is Charlotte Jane Conover. She has a British accent and never forgot where she was born, but loves where she wound up in Cameron. Charlotte hates being called by her full name, only goes by Charlie."

"Jeff, I…"

But Jeff wouldn't stop talking. Not this time.

"Charlie is the most amazing girl in the entire world. No matter how much my day sucks, she puts a smile on my face. Did you know that she moved out to California to become an actress?" he asked, a slight smile on his lips. "Well, she did. We kind of lost touch once she moved out here, though. I still miss her… I think about her every single day."

Charlotte put down the cup in her hand and began to walk towards the North Carolinian, "Jeff, I'm right here."

"No," he refuted through gritted teeth. "You're not her. You never wear blue jeans, you never go a day without having perfect clothes and perfect hair," he continued, advancing towards her. "I bet you don't even have your favorite jeans anymore. I bet you threw them away the moment you became Charlotte Mercury… because you're not the same girl anymore, you're not her," Jeff's eyes darkened sadly and he sighed, heading for the door.

For the first time, his words had sunken in, and she tried to chase after him "But, Jeff…"

He stopped, turning around in the doorway he had walked through no more than twenty minutes ago, "You're not the girl I fell in love with."

So long, put your blue jeans back on, girl.
Go home, remember… Hollywood's not America.
So long, put your blue jeans back on, girl.
Go home, remember… Hollywood's not America.

With perfect blonde curls cascading around her face and her makeup immaculately done, Charlotte Mercury stood in the wings of the NBC Studios, waiting for her cue.

Tonight would be her first appearance on Late Night with Jay Leno since she was twenty-three years old and had been selected as Playboy's newest Playmate.

In a pair of black stiletto heels, a denim miniskirt, and a black halter top, the strings of which looped through a gold ring, she finally heard the host's introduction from beyond the curtain.

"My next guest is an incredibly talented actress who can next be seen in the movie 'Rubix,' co-starring Brad Pitt. We are honored to have her on our show tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome… Ms. Charlotte Mercury!"

The blonde plastered a smile on her face as she walked through the curtains to the band's instrumental of "Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder.

Upon reaching the platform, she was greeted by the slightly-taller host with a kiss on the cheek and then proceeded towards the guests' chairs.

Leno sat down in his chair and turned towards her with a smile, "Welcome back, Charlotte."

"Thank you," Charlotte beamed at him graciously. "It is quite lovely to be back on the show. It's been a while."

"Yes, yes, it has," the host concurred. "It's been around six, seven years."

"I think that's about right."

"Now, clearly, we can tell you're from England. But your first move to the States wasn't to California, was it?" Jay inquired, settling into the interview.

She shook her head, "No, right before my eleventh birthday, my mother and I moved to North Carolina… to a little town called Cameron."

And everybody here's from somewhere else.

"Ah," Leno nodded. "I see. And you moved here when you were how old?"

"I moved to Los Angeles when I was twenty-two."

"And what was your first job?"

"Well, at first, I was your typical struggling actress," the British girl laughed. "Then, by the grace of God, and my agent, Gloria, I managed to land a job with Playboy as a Playmate."

"And right after that was the first time you came on the show, if I recall," Jay added, to which Charlotte agreed. "And you know, we have a picture of the first time you were on here."

"Oh God, please don't show it. Bloody hell," Charlotte grimaced. "Don't show it."

"Too late," Jay laughed as the picture showed up on a split screen with the video feed.

Her hair was stick straight and she was in a pair of tattered jeans and a tee-shirt, looking like ANYTHING but a Playboy Playmate.

In fact, it was the first time she'd realized just how different she had become.

Jeff was one-hundred percent right.

And you can make a million dollars,
but you might lose yourself.

"And you go from that, to a world-famous actress, starring in a movie with Brad Pitt, no less!" Jay commented with marvel. "Tell us about your new movie."

And you can take the heat…

But despite how much she felt like absolute garbage, she knew that she had to continue on with the interview.

"Well, I play Kara Bridges," the statuesque blonde began to explain. "And Kara is a pretty tough chick. She's essentially a hit-woman for British government and is one of their top agents. Brad plays James McAllister, who is a former marine that kind of went awry once he was discharged for attacking a superior officer. He's captured by the government and in exchange for immunity, they want him to go on a dangerous mission."

"Now how does the most frustrating toy known to man-kind have anything to do with that plot?" he joked, causing the audience to laugh.

Charlotte laughed as well, "That's exactly what I wanted to know when they pitched the movie to me!"

The audience laughed some more.

"When you take a Rubix cube, Jay," she turned to him and continued, "There are certain patterns that you turn each side in order to get the boxes to move a certain way. They're called permutations. The idea is that these permutations are codes of some sort to a greater puzzle."

"But why is there fighting?"

Again, Charlotte chuckled, "The average run-of-the-mill cube sold in stores doesn't hold the key to the puzzle. In fact, it wasn't Rubix's idea at all. It was a smaller version of something that he possessed. It's not a 3x3 cube. It's something on a much greater scale that is a lot more complex, which holds the key to finding one of the greatest power sources on the planet. The problem in the movie is that this item vanished right after Rubix cubes hit the market. And now, the government has tracked it down, but they're not the only ones. So in a joint effort with their greatest ally, Great Britain, they're sending two of their best agents to recover the cube before it falls into the wrong hands."

"You do know this is more confusing than the actual cube, right?"

The blonde continued to force a smile. He was starting to get on her nerves.

But will your heart grow cold?

"There are a lot of twists and turns," she agreed with a nod. "But it's an action-packed movie. And my character, Kara, is a really awesome character to portray."

"What kind of training did you have to do?" Jay inquired curiously.

She paused to recount the hours she'd spent on and off the set training, "I had to do a lot of weapons training. Brad and I had to go to the firing range a bunch of times, but he was a lot more experienced than I was. He'd done 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith,' which had required a lot of similar training, but this was my first time firing a weapon. Aside from that, there was some hand to hand combat training that I had to work out, as well. I'm supposed to be a classically-trained agent in this, so I trained with a couple of former US Marines who were unbelievable. I mean, you would NOT want to meet this people in a dark alley."

"What kind of people do you actually want to meet in a dark alley?"

"None, I suppose, come to think of it."

Leno laughed heartily, to the point which Charlotte wanted to vomit, "Well, the movie looks fantastic. I'll definitely be going to see it. 'Rubix' starring Charlotte Mercury and Brad Pitt hits theaters on August 8th. Charlotte, it's been absolutely lovely having you here."

"Aww, thank you," she smiled at him, shaking his hand.

"Oh, it's an absolute pleasure. Please come back soon. When we return, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps."

Driving her Porsche down Route 101, Charlotte shook her head thinking about the interview.

If possible, Jay Leno had asked the stupidest questions and had the dumbest of jokes in response to her answers.

Not to mention the fact that if she had smiled for any longer period of time, her face might actually have been stuck.

They say acting's just pretending,
but even that gets old.

Pulling off the highway, the blonde passed the Staples Center and immediately hit traffic.

Now at a dead standstill, she looked up at the marquis sign towering high into the air for any clue as to why there was a backup.

Sure enough, she found her answer.

Tonight: World Wrestling Entertainment Presents WWE RAW.

Instantaneously, her stomach lurched.

That meant only one thing.

Jeff Hardy was inside.

The North Carolinian ran a hand through his blue and lime green hair, sighing as he dropped down onto the locker room bench.

This was Los Angeles and he knew just how far away he was from her. Mere minutes from the house he had last been in a year ago, the last time he'd seen… her.

It had been pouring buckets and the drive to Beverly Hills had been treacherous, but it hadn't mattered. He'd just been dying to see her, to see if she'd changed.

Unfortunately, she hadn't. And after making the trip out to California, after lying to her about the WWE being in town, he had come up empty handed again.

But Jeff Hardy wasn't stupid. He knew when he was being brushed off and he wasn't about to set himself up for the heartache again.

Reaching into his wallet, he fished out a small photograph, worn out by time.

He stared at the eleven year old girl and twelve year old boy in the picture.

Both were soaked from head to toe by the falling rain, completely coated in mud, giggling over their exploits as they smiled for the camera.

Jeff sighed once more, "She always loved the rain."

And there's never any rain when you want it.

Silently, he wished for just one more moment with her in the rain, even if it was like the last time they met.

A hollow little game and you've won it.

Because being away from Charlie was pure torture… and the slightest encounter with Charlotte was better than nothing at all.

And suddenly, his prayers were answered.

Looking for a thrill…

Jeff anxiously glanced at his phone.

I know you're here. I know you're in town. I need to see you. Same place as last time. – C

It couldn't be. It shouldn't be.

But it was.

... But you've done it all.

So long, put your blue jeans back on, girl.
Go home, remember… Hollywood's not America.

Charlotte raced through the house and up the stairs to get to her closet.

She knew it was buried in there somewhere.

Moments later, she had found exactly what she was looking for… and genuinely smiled for the first time in years.

So long, put your blue jeans back on, girl.

Go home, remember… Hollywood's not America.

As Jeff approached the house, he noticed that not only was the door unlocked, but it had been left ajar.

Carefully, he pushed it open further and stepped into the house, immediately hearing crunching under his boots.

His emerald gaze darted to the floor and found that there was glass everywhere.

Squatting towards the ground, he noticed the pieces were of all colors and there were even some mirrored shards, as well.

Rising back to his feet, Jeff searched around the apartment and found no sign of Charlotte, but found chunks of plaster ripped from the walls where paintings had been wrenched off of the plaster.

Not a single item of furniture lay undamaged, a single frame unshattered.

"Charlotte?" he whispered, walking further into the house, the crunching growing louder and louder. "Charlotte, are you home?"

Then his footsteps were echoed lightly from upstairs, "Jeff?"

"Yeah, it's me," he answered, trying to find the source of the voice.

The actress descended down the stairs, "I didn't think you'd come."

"So you trashed your place instead?" he mused sarcastically, still surveying the damage.

"No," she shook her blonde locks. "I trashed my place because I was angry, because I was thinking about what you said to me the last time I saw you… and you were right then and you're still right now. This city, this place… it isn't me, Jeff. It isn't me."

And I know what you're doing.

"But isn't this what you wanted, Charlotte?" his eyebrows furrowed at her.

"Not at the expense of losing everyone I love, Jeff," she sighed. "I couldn't tell you the last time I saw my mother… or the last time I spoke to you without you being mad."

"You've wanted this for as long as I can remember," Jeff recalled, advancing towards her. "Don't give this up because of me. You know me, Charlotte. I'm not big on the Hollywood scene to begin with, but this is your dream."

I know that you can be anything you want to be.

She ran a hand through her hair, "All I know is that you were the one who kept me grounded, Jeff. Everyone out here… they want a piece of me, a seat on the gravy train that is Charlotte Mercury. But they don't care whether or not Charlie Conover wants to be Charlotte Mercury anymore."

"Do you?"

"Do I what?" she cocked her head to the side in confusion.

"Do you want to be Charlotte Mercury anymore?" he clarified.

For a moment, she was silent. And then she made up her mind.

"Not if I'm going to lose you…"

A grin slowly spread across his face, "I'm still here, aren't I?"

"And not if I have to lose these," she finished her thought, her sapphire eyes shifting their gaze towards her legs, clad in a pair of ripped denim jeans.

So long, put your blue jeans back on, girl.

Go home, remember… Hollywood's not America.

He took a few strides forward and soon stood face to face with his childhood best friend, "I want you to listen to me. I don't care if you're an actress, a singer, a model… whatever. I don't care if you're Charlotte Mercury when you're doing whatever it is you want to do… as long as at the end of the day, when we're together, you're Charlie."

Her azure eyes locked onto his emerald ones, "Do you mean what you said?"

"About not caring?"

"No," she shook her head, never dropping his gaze. "The last time you were here… when you said you fell in love with Charlie, that you fell in love with me. Did you mean it?"

He nodded, "I did… I still do, Charlotte. I want that time we're together to be for the rest of our lives."

"Jeff, stop it," she closed her eyes. "Just don't."

So long, put your blue jeans back on, girl.

Go home, remember... Hollywood's not America.

"I-I-I… I didn't mean to come on too strong, I'm sorry," he apologized, backing away from her. "I shouldn't have said that."

The blonde bit down on her lip and then placed a hand on his shoulder, causing him to turn around. As soon as he did, she pressed her lips to his, parting moments later with a quiet smack.

"Don't call me Charlotte… I'm Charlie. And that's who I want to be. It's who I'll always be."

It's not America.

A/N: This one was for you, Charlie! I know it's INSANELY overdue. It really, really is. But I hope this was worth the wait.

And now you can stop holding my one-shot hostage!!

For all of you readers out there, please review and let me know how I did. This was my first Jeff centric story. I hope you like it.