The first time he sees her, she's reading a book. He'd later learn that wasn't unusual for her. What catches his attention the most is the fact that she's perfectly capable of getting herself buzzed into his apartment building without ever once breaking the rhythm she has with the pages. It's almost hypnotic, the way she skims the words. He has no doubt, despite that, that she's reading every sentence on the page.
He caught the door before it swung shut, meaning he doesn't have to pull his keys out right away. That's very good news, as his hands are freezing and he'd like to keep them in his gloves for a little longer. They get on the elevator together, and she doesn't even seem to be aware of his presence, so caught up in whatever it is she's reading.
When the door opened, she steps out. He smiled slightly, wondering if she even would have noticed if it had stopped at a lower floor. She might have just gotten out on whatever floor it was. She looked the type.
It wasn't until the door had tried closing the second time that he had realized she'd dropped her hat. He had scooped it up and followed her into the hallway, glancing around. She was near one end, approaching the door at the end. He hurried after her.
The door opened easily at her touch. Suddenly not wanting to have to knock on the door, he quickened his pace. "Miss? Excuse me, miss! You dropped..." He trailed off as she looked up at him, an adorable, confused expression on her face.
She looks like a faerie! He thinks in awe. Suddenly mute, he holds up the hat to her.
"Oh!" Her eyes widened, then she looked down, blushing. "Thank you." She muttered, timidly taking the hat from him.
"Your welcome." He replied, awkwardly and a little shyly. He spoke no louder than she did.
"Amy? You here?" That had been when the tall, black-haired man stepped out of the still-open doorway.
"Oh, sorry Darien. Yes I am. I didn't mean to leave your door open like that." She smiled at the older man then. It was a cheerful smile, but he couldn't help but dislike it. He rationalized it later, saying that his inner artist didn't like the way her eyes crinkled, or other such nonsense.
He slipped off then, while they were greeting each other. That this Darien knew her that well... It didn't sit well with him.
He had a shot in her memory that night.
The second time he sees her, she was reading as well. It was summer now, and she was enjoying both the sun and her book equally, from the look of her. She laughed at something the words told her, and he stared, entranced. He had his sketchbook with him. He'd been planning on drawing the lake that day. He loved the act of drawing rippling water. To make something that dynamic into a still took real effort, but the end result was almost always worth it.
He was unable to focus on the lake, however. Finally, he got something going. It wasn't until the picture was half finished that he realized that she was in it. Under the water, her face took on an even more fae appearance. The Lady of the Lake, hand reaching forth and all. The look on her face was almost pleading, heartbreaking. Did she want him to pull her out of the water? Or did she want him to join her under it and disappear without a ripple? The thought made him shudder. With fear? Longing?
He was never sure. Later he would stare at it for hours, trying to decide which it was. Eventually he gave it up as not mattering. She was not related to that 'Darien', he knew.
Eventually he buried the picture in his filing cabinet. His friends laughed about his 'artistic temperament', but he was getting sick of the vile feelings that thought brought up in him.
He got drunk in memory of her memory that night.
The first time she sees him, he's holding her blue, knit kitty-hat in his hands. She blushes, thinking that it's far to childish and feminine an article for him to see. Never mind that she'd been wearing it all over town on her head for the past five weeks. Suddenly it is too private, too intrusive.
She didn't clue in that it wasn't the hat making her insecure for a long time.
She just stammers out some appropriately appreciative comment, and he responds with something sounding equally strained. She winced internally, not sure what to say.
Darien chose that moment to poke his head out after her. She was, to be fair, standing in his doorway after letting him know she'd arrived. For the first time, she could have kissed him. She gave him a warm smile, a silent thanks for the save from awkwardness. Then she apologized for just hanging around in his entryway.
He hadn't cared, had just asked what she was doing. She mentioned that the young man with her had returned her hat. That was when she realized that he wasn't next to her any more. She put the sinking feeling in her stomach down to being disappointed in the way he'd just run off.
She dreamed of clear green eyes that night.
The second time she sees him, she is entranced. He's out playing in the rain. She watches him from Darien's balcony, yearning to go join him. She's helping Serena study for another test up here. It's incentive. Once she pronounces her friend as knowing enough, Darien takes her out. Having him there to remind the blonde not to daydream helped. A lot.
She watched a different blonde capering in the weather and smiled. She didn't know what it was, but something in her was telling her to go down there. However, there was still her promise to her friend in the way. With a sigh and a last, longing glance, she turns away from the balcony.
Later that day she sees him again. He is on a balcony two up and three over from Darien's. He is drawing. From this distance, she doesn't know how she can be sure that's what he's doing, but she is. She stared at the copper head a little longer before turning to leave.
That night she does something she hadn't thought she'd ever do. She pulled out the drawing pencils her father had sent her for a birthday years ago. She'd never touched them. They had been given shortly after he'd left, and she'd seen the fear her mother had desperately tried to hide.
"Oh, what wonderful pencils these are. I'm sure you'll make wonderful pictures with them." The woman had said instead, smiling through her tears.
The child looked at them, then put them back in the box and closed it. "I don't want them." She informed her mother. "I don't want to be an artist. I'm going to be a doctor, just like you." The defiant look in her eyes had melted her mother's resolve and caused the tears to spill. However, they were no longer created by fear and pain.
That was when she promised herself that she would only create things that wouldn't hurt. Things that would heal.
It took a while to get back into the flow of it. Other than for class projects, she hadn't drawn anything in years. However, eventually her pencils were gliding over he paper, smoothly fleshing out the image of a man she'd only seen once, months before.
It was a guilty sort of pleasure, this drawing. She felt like she was a fraud, just drawing because it was what he did. What she'd seem him do.
The picture, when it's done, is nothing like she'd thought to make it. He's standing beside a lake, the water rippling gently next to him. He's reaching for something. His face, however, looks torn. Like he can't decide whether to keep his feet on the ground, or go forward into something, somewhere, new and different.
She runs her fingers over the drawing. "Go." She whispers, tears forming in her eyes. She didn't know what she was sending him to, but it was something he wanted. Even if the water swallowed him whole, she knew he needed to be there.
More than just green eyes visited her slumber that night.
"You dropped your hat." Came the voice, one she'd only heard once. Still, she recognized it right away. It was the same man who had picked up her hat, this same hat, for her the previous winter. She turned, face bright red suddenly.
"Thank you." She said softly, accepting it back from him. His eyes searched hers, and he let out a small smile.
"Deja vu, eh?" He asked, something unreadable sitting heavy behind his eyes. She gave him a small smile back.
"I'm over here a lot during these sort of times. Serena just cannot study for a test herself. I don't want her to fail." The comment was quiet, but he had no difficulty catching it. He thought her voice sounded like music, light and sweet.
"Serena?" He asked, curious. She nodded.
"My best friend. Her boyfriend lives here. The two of us help tutor her." A lighter grin crossed her face, and he felt like the sun had just come out, seeing it. "It's probably the only reason her father lets her see him. Since we started this, she's gone up two letter grades."
He smiled back, the expression fitting his face like nothing else she had ever seen. "That's good. So the tutoring session is over now?" She nodded, and he frowned slightly, gesturing outside. "So you're going to go home in this? Are you sure that's a good idea?"
She didn't have to look out the lobby window. She knew what he was talking about. Not only was it icy and slick, but it was snowing heavily.
"I don't really have much choice." She responded, a trifle tartly. "I'm not going to ruin their date by hanging around." Blue eyes met green defiantly, and she could almost see the wheels turning in his head.
"I..." He closed his mouth then, took a deep breath, and tried again. "If you'd like, you could come have a cup of coffee with me. The snow's supposed to stop fairly soon." The words came out in a rush, like he didn't know if he should say them or not.
She blinked. She hadn't expected that. She wasn't the type who got invited upstairs by strangers, and definitely wasn't the type to accept. She went to tell him this, but it didn't come out right.
She wasn't sure who was more surprised when all that did come out was "Yes."
"You will?" He responded, looking immensely relieved and quite surprised.
"On one condition." She cautioned. She blushed then and looked at her feet. "Youhavetotellmeyourname."
It was his turn to blink bemusedly. "Um, what?"
She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself down. "You have to tell me your name." She repeated, enunciating carefully. Her face went even redder. "I, um, I don't know it." She admitted sheepishly.
He smiled and held out his hand. "Zoi."
She took it while returning the gesture. "Ami."
She looked at the door and gulped. She'd had Darien let her into the building. She didn't even know if the person she'd come to see was here. However, there was no backing out now. She took a deep breath and knocked.
She was just raising her hand to knock again when the door opened, and a very tousled looking blonde answered it. His green eyes widened in surprise when he saw who it was. "Ami! You... I... What are you doing here?" He asked, a smile lighting up his face.
She blushed lightly, but met his eyes squarely. She presented him with the package she had brought, holding it out between them. "Thank you for letting me visit while that storm blew itself out. And for driving me home after."
The words hung between them. Slowly, he reached his hand out to take the gift. "Would you like to come in?" He asked, never looking away from her eyes. She nodded once, suddenly smiling giddily.
He ushered her into his place, helping her get her winter gear put away. He kept the gift tucked up against him the whole time, never releasing it. Finally they made it to the living room.
"Do you mind if I open it?" He asked.
She shook her head. "Go ahead." She encouraged softly. He required no more prodding. The paper soon lay on the floor, forgotten. He raised his eyes to hers in a silent question. She went red once again and looked away.
"It's the season..." She muttered, not really answering him. He placed the gift to the side, and carefully turned her face to him.
"It that really all?" He asked, sounding slightly crestfallen.
Once again her mouth betrayed her better judgement. "No. It's... today was no coincidence." She blushed even heavier.
Whatever he saw in her eyes and heard in her voice apparently reassured him. The anxious look in his eyes faded, to be replaced with a cheeky grin. She glared at him, not finding much to be amused about. She opened her mouth to tell him that, but fell silent as he suddenly moved right next to her.
Then his lips met hers, and she melted against him. He never knew drowning could be so wonderful.
Forgotten on the table, a chocolate heart gleams from its bed, purpose fulfilled.
Happy Valentines to you all. Yeesh, I just about gave up halfway through this. I took a tumble on the ice earlier, and my wrist is killing. That makes two slips in the last two days. Bleh. Oh, and I had something else I wanted to say. If you've never heard of Four King Hell, you don't know what you're missing. It's a SM fancomic, and it's both hilarious and sometimes sweet. Mostly hilarious. That Zoi... Anyway, I hope you liked the story. I'm not sure if I kept it in the right tense the whole way through... I did try, though. Let me know what you think.