I know I've always been a Night Writer (as I like to call myself) but I've never attempted this level of craziness in writing. I swear to God, I think I logged a total 8 to 10 hours of missed sleep, just working on this puppy.

At least, this way, it's inspired me to work on HtHRB. Plus, there's this M-rated, threeshot fic I started that I'd like to finish- the first chapter, at very least.

Anyway, I really like this, as far as short, chaptered stories go, and I'm really happy you guys felt the same. :) Good to know none of you are planning on giving up on me anytime soon.

$4$

Well, I got nothin' to hide
Dip down and come for a ride
Embrace the devil so sly, you cannot hear him coming
'Cuz my defenses are weak, I have no breath left to speak
So take the evidence and bury it somewhere.

-"Little of Your Time," by Maroon 5


There were some very important things Layla needed to figure out.

Magenta was the only person who knew everything. She was, after all, Layla's best (female) friend. Magenta understood all that was going on, and Layla was happy to have someone to unload her concerns. And, when she wasn't generally acting like a basket case, she would sit down and listen to Mage vent about how annoying Zach was and why did he have to keep staring at her like that in the middle of class?

Her friend's troubles were so much easier to sort out.

But this… this was catastrophic. Which was why, as soon as she got home, she called Magenta. If there was ever a time to talk to Magenta, this was it. She still wasn't totally certain, but there was aver, very slight chance that maybe, just maybe, she was losing interest in Will… and gaining interest in someone she definitely shouldn't.

The second Layla heard that familiar click of someone picking up the phone, she jumped off of her bed and her fingers through her hair. This was making her jumpy, and there was nothing more she wanted than to tell someone about it.

"What's up, Layla?"

Layla couldn't stop the groan from making it past her lips. Cradling the phone in the crook of her neck and shoulder, she rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palms and said, "Mage, I think… Crap. You were right."

Magenta was silent for several beats, and finally, she heard her sigh across the receiver. "Shit."

The redhead chuckled and rolled her eyes. "Tell me about it," she replied, staring into her bedroom mirror.

"So… Hothead feel the same way?"

She really had to think hard about that one. Did he? Well, he certainly wasn't avoiding her. And didn't tell her not to show up at the Paper Lantern tonight. And he definitely never seemed to mind it when they kissed. Last to she checked, those were all positive signs.

But then again, what did she know about guys? She'd been in love with her best friend for half her life, and she wasn't even entirely sure he recognized her as female.

"I think he does…" Layla mumbled, gathering her hair back in a ponytail and turning her head to either side, considering the style.

"What are you gonna do about it? What about Will?"

Without consciously intending to, Layla felt a tug on her heartstrings and guilt wash over her features. What about Will? She had almost completely forgotten to consider him in this equation, and that wasn't fair. He was still her best friend, even if he was being a little bit of a tool at the moment.

And she could forget that. She'd known him since they were in diapers.

"I honestly don't know what to say to Will, but I do love him. I'm just starting to think I'm not in love with him, y'know?" Layla said, dropping her hair and tucking it behind her ears.

"I've figured that much out," Magenta replied drily, and Layla rolled her eyes again. Mage could be just a little too sarcastic sometimes.

"So… what should I do?" Layla asked, tugging off her t-shirt and sliding out of her flower-covered skirt.

"I don't know," Magenta said, "What do you want to do? It's not like you can tackle Warren without him suspecting that you're doing this for your little audience. You can always tell him, I guess, but Warren never struck me as the talkative type."

"No, you wouldn't think, but Warren's a real intellectual. He reads about a book a day, sometimes more, and he's a big fan of great writers, like Kierkegaard and Tolstoy," she said this all absentmindedly, opening up her closet doors and rifling through her clothes. "He's smarter than me. I could talk to him, I just don't know what to say."

"Actions speak louder than words."

Layla looked up from her closet, but she wasn't looking at anything in particular. She was thinking. She knew exactly what she needed to do, and she knew exactly what she needed to wear.

She exchanged distracted goodbyes with Magenta, and hung up the phone, tossing it halfheartedly behind her and began rifling through her closet with renewed vigor. This might just work. Maybe.

Now she just needed to find that one, little black and green dress for her cousin's wedding…

Awesome.


"Warren!" Layla called out, walking a little faster down the sidewalk. It was getting pretty late, already past closing at the Lantern, and the cool September weather was giving hints of what was to come for winter. She was beginning to regret leaving the house without a jacket.

But she wasn't regretting the dress. Black, with forest green belt, and hitting her just above the knees. She had black heels, but she wasn't going to run down the street in them, so she settled for black flats.

Warren turned around when he heard call, dark eyebrows knitted in confusion. "Layla?" he asked. "What are you doing here now?"

Layla half-jogged up to him, her breathing a little harder than normal. Staring up at him, she said, "I'm settling something." She dragged his head down to meet hers and kissed him.

She knew he was shocked from the way his muscled bunched up tightly under his thin black t-shirt, but he responded pretty quickly, pulling her into his arms and tilting his head so he could kiss her at a better angle.

She had come here to prove a point to herself, but within a matter of seconds, that had flown out the window. It was just too easy for her to get distracted when they kissed. That was probably another sign.

Her arms were winding around his neck, and she had the sudden and indescribable urge to wrap her legs around his waist.

Warren broke the kiss first, and she was pretty surprised to see him looking so angry. "What the hell was that for?" he demanded, glaring down at her.

Layla didn't miss how deep and gravelly his voice had turned, and that fact that he was having a little trouble breathing evenly. Cocking an eyebrow, Layla responded, "I believe it's called kissing."

He stepped away from her, almost as though he was afraid to be too near to her. She just stared back at him, watching calmly as he ran a very frustrated hand through his hair- still pulled back in a bun- and then, without any real warning, grabbed her by the arms and pushed her up against the wall.

Layla's eyebrows shot up as he planted an arm on either side of her, effectively locking her in place. She wasn't used to being manhandled by guys. Will was too much of a gentleman to ever think of doing such a thing, and no other guy knew her well enough to try. The fact that Warren Peace was so comfortable doing so caused her to shiver with anticipation.

"Look, hippie," he said, his voice hard and still pretty breathless. "I'm not the good guy. I'm not like Will. I'm not good at playing nice, or being nice, or even being social. I don't like small talk, I don't like my personal space being invaded, and I don't like your friends. But the thing I dislike the most is when someone tries to take away something that I want, or feel as though is mine in any way, shape or form."

She should not have felt as attracted to him as she did in that moment. Even though it was misogynistic and sexist, there was a small part of her that liked his possessive tone.

"That's why you need to decide right now," he said, his tone deadly serious. "Either you knock off all this impromptu kissing and finally leave me the hell alone, or-" He stopped there.

Layla smirked. It was that same smile she had taken from him, and it was worth it, just to see the muscles clench in his jaw and neck. "Or what?" she said, her voice a teasing lilt.

He didn't say anything, just continued to stare at her, locking and unlocking his jaw.

She was getting tired of the games. It was kind of fun to mess with Warren, but she was right; she needed to give him an answer.

Leaning forward, she closed the distanced between their mouths and really kissed him. She heard him groan as he kissed her back, pushing her further against the wall and wrapping his arms around her.

The kiss was hot and passionate, and nothing at all like she would have ever expected from either one of them. Her hands were in his hair, their tongues fighting for dominance as his hands gripped her hips.

Before she knew it, Warren had effortlessly picked her up, keeping her snugly wedged between him and the wall and giving her the opportunity to wrap her legs around his lean, toned waist, just like she had thought about not five minutes before.

After several minutes of heated kissing that felt like hours, Layla finally was the one to break the kiss. She rested the back of her head against the brick wall, panting slightly. Warren tilted his head, resting in the crook of her neck as he placed small kisses against her collarbone.

Layla sighed in contentment, and shut her eyes, happy to lose herself in the sensations. After a few more minutes, she mumbled, still breathless, "Hey… Warren?"

He was busy doing some very interesting things involving this one spot where her ear met her jaw, so he sounded annoyed when he asked, "What, hippie?"

"Can we do this more often?"

He stopped whatever lovely things he had been doing and pulled away, looking her in the eye. "What does that mean?" he asked slowly, making it sound like a warning.

Layla smiled down at him through heavy lidded eyes and shifted her grip around his waist. "I mean," she said, slowly, "I want this to be permanent."

Warren looked suspicious. "Permanent," he repeated.

"Permanent," she said, looping her fingers absentmindedly through his hair, which was mostly falling out of its bun. When he didn't immediately respond, she added, "If only to see the look on Stronghold's face, one last time."

Warren smirked and kissed her. He couldn't argue with that.

$4$

Yes, I am aware that this chapter, in comparison to the rest and what you're probably used to seeing from me, is painfully short. But know this: I can't write anymore. I love you all, but this is it.

I think this is a pretty decent ending, and I'm happy I finished it in less than two weeks, more or less. There are a few ties I wanted to include, but the plot (and my muse) just wouldn't allow me. Maybe I'll include an Epilogue later on, but I have other things I want to finish before I add more to this.

I actually wrote the last part first, mostly because I write about 95-percent of my kissing scenes at night. Don't ask me why, that's just when I'm most creative and relaxed. Even if it is at a ridiculous hour (I basically stayed up all night writing this, so you had damned well like it, readers!). Crap. Now I have to go to bed and sleep the rest of the day away.

Yeah. That's totally functional.

I really hope you enjoyed this (short) fic! :D