By S. Faith, © 2009
Rating: T / PG-13
Summary: Another 'what happens at the end of the first movie', only… well, life isn't perfect, is it?
Disclaimer: Just a bit of fun.
Notes: Once upon a time I wrote a little tiny story about another fictional couple. I don't think I even posted it anywhere. But it very much inspired this. A little surprise while I write the fic that ate Manhattan.
Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible time.
Things are more likely to go wrong the more you fucking want them not to.
They had made it to this moment at last. Alone. In the snow, in the cold, she in his arms, he kissing her with the fire of a thousand suns. When at last they drew away from one another, she dropped back onto her heels again with what must have been the most satisfied smile of all time. Next to his, of course.
He likes me enough to come back from America, she thought. Enough to buy me a diary, enough to kiss me while I'm wearing not much more than knickers, in the middle of the sidewalk, in front of complete strangers.
"So," he said. The snow was really starting to come down now. The ground was blanketed in white fluffs. Fewer and fewer cars were on the street, and that was really saying something for London. "Which way shall we go?" Her confusion must have been obvious, because he added quickly, "Back to your flat? Or my house? We're about halfway between the two."
"Oh," she said, smiling again. Out of the warmth of his embrace she was starting to shiver. A lot. Her teeth began to chatter. "I suppose. Either. Sure."
"Come on," he said decisively. "Your place. You need more clothes."
Shyly she grinned. He had a point.
They spent a few moments working out the logistics of walking with her under his coat, and they started out on a good stride. The problem was that her leg muscles were so rubbery from the running and the cold that there was a disconnect between her feet and her body. Within a half a block, she lost her footing and tumbled out of his embrace, falling sideways and landing on her arse in the snow. At least it's dry snow and not a puddle of slush, she thought wryly as he reached to help her up.
"Are you all right?" he said, brushing the flakes from her, then realising he was (albeit it with a gloved hand) touching her bare legs, nearly bare bottom, and jerked his hand away suddenly. Before she even had a chance to tell him she was all right, he peeled out of his overcoat (transferring the diary from one hand to another) and helped her into it. It was far too large, but it was warm and it smelled wonderfully of him. "Should have done this to start with," he said, clearly chastising himself, pulling it tight around her, scrutinising her to ensure they were safe to proceed. Then he put his arm about her shoulders and directed her back towards her building.
Upon reaching the building, Mark reached and tugged on the handle, but it did not give. He furrowed his brow, then looked to her.
"I d-don't have my key," she blurted.
"You…" he began, then drifted off, his expression slipping to one of amusement. "Well, I suppose you wouldn't have a place for your keys in what you're wearing, would you?"
She pursed her lips. This was not getting off to an auspicious start.
Holding herself to keep the warmth in, she stared madly at the line of doorbells. Someone must be home. She reached out a hand and tried her downstairs neighbour Dan's flat. After a few minutes it became clear he was not going to answer. She then tried Vanessa. After a second ring, she picked up.
"Who is this?"
"V-v-vanessa?" asked Bridget, her voice shaking with the cold she felt. "It's B—"
"Bloody sick and tired of this," Vanessa interrupted in an extremely impatient tone. "I don't know who you are but if you don't stop pushing my bell I'm phoning the police!" She then slammed down her entryphone.
Bridget sighed. "I can assure you I am not regularly prank-calling my neighbour," she muttered, pressing the next button, Mr Ramdas; she hadn't wanted to choose his, as she always embarrassed herself in front of him. She felt Mark's arm around her again, rubbing her arm for warmth.
She really wanted in her building. Now.
"Yes? Who is this?"
"M-Mr Ramdas, it's me. Bridget. Top flat. Sorry to bother you at this hour. How are you? How's your wife?"
There was a moment of silence. "She's still dead."
She felt like banging her head against the side of the building; she knew his wife had passed away, and had even done this once before, asked after her. "Oh, God, of course she is. I'm so sorry for your loss. Still." Behind her, she heard Mark trying to suppress a chuckle.
"How are you?" he asked.
"Pretty cold, actually. If you could—open the door for me?"
"I'm locked outside."
"Oh," he said. "Yes, yes, of course."
She heard the blessed buzz of the lock release and Mark, being nearer, opened the door. She thanked Mr Ramdas, hung up the phone, then turned to enter the building, slipping when her trainer-clad foot slipped on a wet patch.
She landed hard against Mark.
"Sorry," she said, gripping his upper arms tightly.
"Don't be," he said in a low tone.
He helped to right her, then he followed her in. She loosened the coat as they headed up the stairs. The warmth of the building, particularly as they went up the stairs, sent delightfully warm prickles across her skin. Because he towered over her by probably twenty centimetres or more, his coat was accordingly lengthy. More than once she stepped on the front corner, nearly sending herself flying forward and onto her face on the stairs.
She was not exactly the epitome of style and grace that evening.
Blessedly the flat door itself had not managed to close and lock her out, but upon finding it open, she heard Mark say, "Wait, Bridget. Don't go in."
"Whoever broke into your flat might still be in there."
She laughed. "No one broke in. In trying to get down to you I didn't close it."
His gaze was intense, but not in a bedroom-eyes sort of way. "That isn't safe," he said sternly.
"I was distracted," she said.
He smiled, his demeanour changing in an instant. "Shall we…?" he asked, holding his hand out to allow her to precede him, which was somewhat ludicrous considering it was her own flat.
After one more short flight up, they were back in the flat proper.
"Allow me," he said, reaching for his coat. She turned and he slipped it down off of her shoulders. He walked to throw it over the banister as she turned to face him again, feeling inexplicably and suddenly shy. She cleared her throat, smiled at him again. It was not proper to do what she really wanted to do: throw herself at him and pick up kissing him where they'd left off.
It seemed, though, that he had no concern for what was proper, because he took a step towards her; that prompted her to walk too and they met up in the middle. The rapidity with which his arms went around her and his mouth covered hers hungrily was surprising; his warm, newly de-gloved hands went around the small of her still-warming back. She pushed herself up on her toes again, returning that kiss with equal fervour, her own hands threading into his hair.
This caused him to gasp and recoil back, nipping her lip a little. She looked up at him with bewilderment, feeling a little hurt. "Your hands are icy," he said gently, reaching to take then between his, blowing warm breath into where he had them captured. He raised his eyes to her again, and this time, the intense gaze had quite a different intent.
"Better?" she asked, her voice quite eluding her.
"Mm," he said low in his throat, releasing her hands to take her in his arms again, to engage a kiss once more. His hands were on the flat of her back again, holding her very tightly to him until they started to slip down over her arse, just as his kiss slipped from her mouth to her jaw to her ear.
She tilted her head to the side, feeling herself lost in sensation; his soft hands gliding over her pants then down to the backs of her thighs. Arching up into him, she turned her head towards him, hoping to kiss his cheek—
It was her own hair that caused it, caused her to erupt in a sneeze; she turned her head as quickly as she could and as sneezes go, it was rather dry, but her horror was quite unmatched.
"Sorry," she whispered.
"You all right?" he returned, kissing the juncture of jaw and ear, seemingly undeterred, to her relief.
His fingers tightened a little on her bottom. Not much pressure, but quite insistent. One hand moved; however, the other did not. She could feel why. Something was caught on the seat of her pants, and it was not his fingers.
He raised his head up, rearing to the side to try to look over her shoulder. "We have a little problem. My wristwatch is caught."
If she were superstitious, she might think the universe was trying to tell her something. "Oh no," she said.
"No, no. It's all right." He tugged and tugged, but made no headway.
"It's not," she said. "It's all going wrong."
As he pulled firmly, he asked, "I'll try not to tear them."
"Tear them if you need to—oh."
He'd begun to kiss her throat again, just as he yanked one last time; she heard the distinct sound of tearing fabric. He chuckled, looking to her again, his voice low as he spoke. "I didn't envision this involving me ripping your clothes off of you."
"You envisioned this?"
"Quite often," he said, kissing her again.
Despite how much she had grown to like his kisses in such a short amount of time, the thought of standing in his arms with torn panties was too undignified to bear, and she pulled back. "Um… Why don't I go put something nice on?" She broke away from his embrace and backed away, not wanting him to see what was undoubtedly a gaping hole in the arse of an already small pair of underwear.
She made it all the way into the room before turning to look around herself. Inwardly she groaned. The room was a complete wreck, due largely in part to her hastily packing for a trip to Paris she was no longer taking—which brought to mind that her bag was still in the back seat of Jude's mini, including a sponge bag filled with most of her bathroom toiletries as well as the remaining clean pants (of the normal variety) she could find.
She needed only to find her pretty silk robe; she didn't figure the accompanying camisole was all that necessary. The last she'd seen the robe, though… and then it came to her. It was hanging on a hook in the loo.
A very loud thump announced she was not alone, confirmed when she turned to find Mark doubled over rubbing his shin. She realised he had hit it on an askew laundry bin. With a light laugh, he raised his head, met her eyes again and teased, "I am beginning to wonder if this is such a good idea."
"I am feeling a little cursed," she said sorrowfully, her hand instinctively reaching back to hide the hole in her pants.
He brought himself up to his full height then strode to her; once again she caught her breath at how he towered over her. "Think of it as yet one more obstacle in a series of obstacles to overcome," he said quietly, stroking her cheek. "Makes success all the more worth having."
God, but he had a way with words, making up completely for torn pants, messy rooms and—
"Shit," she muttered quite without thinking, just as he was bending to kiss her again. She couldn't help herself; it had just occurred to her that after Daniel had dumped her, she had been too depressed to purchase a new box of condoms.
"Sorry?" he asked, frozen in position.
"I'm…" she began lamely, not sure how to delicately broach the subject. "I haven't… my bedside table is in need of a… restock."
"Ah," he said, clearly catching her meaning. "I, um." She swore he looked sheepish. "I came here with… great hopes."
"Oh," she said, catching his meaning this time, her smile a twin to his. He bent to complete that kiss, and before she knew it, they were sitting on the rumpled covers on the edge of the bed, snogging like their very lives depended on it. It was his taking her around the waist and beginning to angle the two of them back that caused her to break away. "Wait," she said breathlessly. "Wait."
"What now?" he asked, not without a certain level of impatience.
"I…" She glanced down to herself, down to the sad little purple tank and ruined striped pants, then back at him. "I don't feel very pretty. I didn't really finish changing before, and I'd like this to be perfect."
He offered a smile. "You look beautiful, and I'm hardly concerned with clothes I'd very much like get out of the way anyway," he murmured, "but I take your point." He pecked a kiss on her lips. "It's been a very long day, one that for me started in New York City, so the faster you're back…."
"Just a few. I promise. Make yourself as comfortable as you need to."
She backed out of the room and into the hall—still not wanting to show her bum to him even though he had already seen it—then dove into the bathroom.
Once the door was closed securely behind her she let out a great long sigh, shimmied out of the ruined panties and tossed them into the waste bin, then slipped out of the tank. She rummaged through her drawers until she at last located a backup toothbrush, a small travel toothpaste, and a hairbrush. She scrubbed her face clean then realised it would take just a little more time to take a fast shower. She pulled out a bar of handmade rose-scented soap Shaz had bought at a bazaar and given her for her birthday once, washing thoroughly and diligently.
Well, she thought, best to wash my hair as well. He won't mind.
She washed and conditioned her hair, then pulled out the hairdryer and blew it dry for a modicum of style; wet locks hanging about her face would have been the opposite of sexy. She rubbed body lotion all over herself, a lovely almond oil / vanilla combination that smelled wonderful and felt even better. For a final touch she swept a little mascara on—waterproof to keep it from making her look like a masked bandit by morning—and a daub of shimmering pink lip gloss. She then slipped into the silky robe and padded back to her room.
She found that Mark had made himself very comfortable: his clothes were crisply folded—all of them, even socks—in a freakishly neat stack on the chair by her door, shoes tidily beneath. The bedside lamp was on and he was beneath the covers.
However, he had apparently made himself a little too comfortable; he was fast asleep.
She felt a little hurt, even disappointed, because well… he had fallen asleep, and what woman wouldn't feel a little insulted by that? She was forced to remind herself, though, of what he'd said before she'd left the room, how the poor man had just gotten off a transatlantic flight—hell, probably two!—and probably was in need of a good, long, solid night's sleep.
She smiled as she looked upon his sleeping form, smiled as she realised he'd placed the packets on the nightstand. The spirit had been willing, she mused, but the flesh had been weak.
She turned down the covers, and still clad in the silken robe she slipped beneath the sheets. Despite her moving and adjusting herself into a comfortable position beside him, he did not rouse from slumber. He did, however, turn over, reach out and drape his arm over her, pulling her closer into a hug almost as if it were long-practiced habit. She smiled, deciding that she very much liked the thought of sleeping in the warmth of his embrace, and closed her eyes, content with her present situation.
Best to make a fresh start of things in the morning, she thought with a smile on her lips as she drifted into sleep, considering how things have progressed up to this point. An actual shag might well have been fatal.
"Oh. Oh God."
It was Mark's sleep-slurred voice that brought her to consciousness the next morning, and for a split-second she thought he was saying it regretfully, as if being there was the biggest mistake he'd made in his life, bigger even than marrying his adulterous wife. But she then felt his fingers touch gently on her cheek, and she turned to look up at him. He was propped on an elbow, looking about as much as a man could look like a whipped puppy.
"I'm so sorry," he said, running his fingers along the hairline at her temple.
"You were tired," she said, blinking sleepily.
"Please know that it wasn't you," he said.
"Long flight. Day started in New York. I understand."
He exhaled, then went quiet as he studied her, gaze travelling over her features, fingers moving from her face to her chin, then throat, then playing along the collar of her robe. "You look so lovely."
She didn't think it right to contradict and point out she had undoubtedly looked lovelier the night before, that she likely needed to brush her teeth and wash her face and—
"I have a lot to make up to you," he added huskily.
Quickly he bent over her and dove upon her with a kiss; her fingers, this time nowhere near being cold, wove up into his hair. His own hand followed the collar of her robe down to the tie securing it closed; after a moment or two he began to chuckle low in his throat.
"Recalcitrant knot on an exquisite gift I've been anxious to open," he whispered in explanation just as he finally managed to untie it. He parted the halves of her robe to the side, his fingers brushing against her bare skin as he did so, sending shivers through her.
He proceeded to more than make amends for the night before. She realised he had been right, that the series of roadblocks strewn in their path only served to make this triumph that much sweeter. When all was said and done, as they laid glowing and panting in one another's arms, Mark hummed low in his throat as he lavished her neck with tender kisses.
"Mmm?" she managed, the only question she had the coherence to form.
"You," he said, an unmistakable teasing edge to his voice, not ceasing his activity one whit. "The gift that keeps on giving."
She chuckled, bringing her arms up around him, intent on giving even more. Whatever curse or streak of bad luck had befallen them the night before seemed to have been broken… over and over again.
… … …
Colin Firth is ~ 6' 2" (~187 cm); Reneé Zellweger is 5' 4" (~163 cm).
I made this variant of Murphy's Law up.