Disclaimer: All characters below belong to Dianna Wynne Jones (minus those who are obviously not).

AN:
Here, here you go. (;

Unhappy Happenstance

Chapter 5: Spontaneous Decisions

It was the late afternoon, and Sophie was taking a nap on the sofa. She had been trying to be good and quiet and not clean anything, and Howl had given her a book to occupy herself. There were no TVs.

The book was a rather dry commentary on the aristocracy of 18th century France, and Sophie had given up on it after the second chapter. Instead, she opted for lying on the sofa, knees bent, and staring at the ceiling. She could hear rain pattering outside and it wasn't long before her eyes had begun to droop.

A loud crash startled her from her light doze, and she jerked awake. Eyes open, she lay still, until she heard another loud bang within the house. Sitting up, she ran a hand through her hair before standing and heading towards the source of the noise.

A loud roar made her jump, and she stood timidly by the entrance to the kitchen. The door to the basement was wide open, and another clattering noise bounced out of it.

Taking a deep breath, she strode towards the door. A narrow set of stairs greeted her, stairs that turned around a corner into darkness. Her hands were curled inside the sleeves of the large cardigan, and she felt like she was five years old again.

Another crash and thud made her jump, the foot that was tentatively stepping down onto the first step recoiling back immediately.

"Michael!" she heard Howl roar.

"I'm getting it, I'm getting it," came Michael. He sounded rather harried, and she heard scuffling, followed by the sounds of telephone buttons.

"Hello, this is Pendragon." Howl was calm and polite.

There was a pause.

"I have my ways. You don't think a telephone number was something no one could find out?"

Michael appeared at the bottom of the stairwell, looking pale. When he saw Sophie, an anxious look passed across his face and he hurried up, his shoes clacking on the wood.

"Shoo, shoo," he whispered, waving his hands at her as he came near.

"Don't shoo me!" Sophie fiercely replied, feeling a bit put out.

Howl's voice grew angrier. "Yes, well I'd like to inform you that stealing my clothier is rather infantile for you, and if you think that you will be able to manipulate..."

Howl's voice trailed off as Michael made it to the stop of the stairs and rushed Sophie out of the kitchen and up the stairs. He wrenched open the door to the sparse bedroom and pushed her inside.

"Sorry," he mumbled. "Just stay here for a bit, alright?"

"Wait, what? No! I will not," Sophie screeched, only be cut off as the door shut in her face. She heard the lock turn.

Her fist banged against the wood, knuckles pressed white against bone.

"What are you doing?" came a soft voice.

Sophie whirled around, fist pressed to her heart, when she saw Calcifer reclining on the plain bedspread. His fire-y hair was stark against the white pillow that she did not remember seeing earlier, and as she let out a relieved breath, his eyes slitted down at her.

"I think it's pretty obvious." She gestured tersely at the locked door.

Moving with a surprisingly languid grace, Calcifer sat up in the bed, stretching out and yawning. The plain black t-shirt he wore stretched over his lean torso, and settled back down on top of his jeans when he lowered his arms.

"If you're determined, a locked door isn't going to deter you." His bare feet slid across the floor as he stood up, stepping two steps to the little bedside table and jiggling open the one drawer. His hand delved inside a moment, and came back up with a small skeleton key dangling on his pinky.

Sophie's eyes darted towards it immediately.

"Ah ah," chided Calcifer. "I see your pretty blue eyes eyeing this key." He sat back down on the bed, tucking the key into his pants. She made a face, and whirled to face the door.

"Let me out!" she raged, banging against the door. "Don't leave me with this pervert!"

Calcifer chuckled behind her.

"Don't worry sweetling, I'll let you out. But I can't let an opportunity like this go amiss."

She stiffened, her hand still resting against the door.

"What do you mean," she ground out. Sophie was absolutely tired of dealing with people who were full of speeches just dripping with their sense of superiourity. She could feel the smugness radiating off of her unlikely captor.

There was a creak of bed springs and a patter of bare feet on bare wood. A burning hand settled on her shoulder, and she became rigid.

"You are a liability to Howl. You cannot stay here any longer."

Her jaw clenched. Swiping his hand off of her shoulder, she spun around, stabbing his chest with a righteous pointer finger.

"I cannot stay any longer? I've been voting to leave ever since I got here! I never wanted anything to do with that lunatic that is your mate. I just want to go home!"

She blinked away angry tears, irritated at how they choked her vocal chords.

Calcifer looked unperturbed.

"You don't understand, Sophia Hatter." He yawned. "Howl likes a challenge. You're a challenge to him, nothing more. Spouting insolence and mad eyes and disapproval. Why do you think he insists you stay? If you stayed meek, if you stayed a mouse, if you accepted him, you'd be home already. And now he's facing quite an increase of attention from the worse people possible. It's bad for business, and it's all your fault. In fact, he was planning on retiring on a pile of money later this month. Too late now. You should never have let him control you."

Her finger wavered.

"Did you ever stop to think? If you were serious, you could have prevented him from taking over your car. And now it's too late. Silly girl."

There was a moment in that following pause where Sophie almost felt her heart break a little.

The look on Calcifer's face when she reached down his pants a second later was almost worth being brought near to angry tears and being completely humiliated.

"Fine," she hissed in a strangled whisper. "I'll just do it then."

The door was unlocked in a trice, and she gave it a satisfying slam behind her.

She hadn't really thought she would leave, but when she skidded down the stairs and into the living room, the front door gazed at her mockingly, calling her to challenge Calcifer's cruel words. She paused, taking a deep breath.


The front door was merely a puzzle of ten different dead bolts, but it was amazing how quick Sophie found herself zipping through them. Behind her, she could hear the voices of Howl (demanding) and Michael (placating), and the slow tread of feet down the stairs.

The door opened after a few furious tugs, and she stepped out into the cool air, the spray of mist touching her face for the first time in days. Not caring that she was dressed in nothing but a cardigan and a summer dress, she flung herself out the door and ran.

If she wasn't wanted, needed, she wouldn't stay.


It wasn't long before the mist turned into a light rain, and the amazing feeling of the concrete sidewalk beneath her feet gave way to an uncomfortable, painful feeling between her toes. Despite this, she kept running, her thighs burning. She had to get away, she had to keep going. Fear of being caught by Howl kept her feet smacking against the pavement. Fear of being caught by something else entirely kept her legs pumping.

She realized that they had been staying not too far away from downtown London, and she began to recognize her surroundings. Goose pimples prickled across her naked flesh as she turned onto a more populated sidewalk, her hair now semi-plastered to her neck. Slowing down to a fast walk, she kept her head low and hugged her arms across her chest.

She kept walking, keeping to the side of buildings and choosing random different turns, until she stopped abruptly when a store door swung out into her path. Looking up, she saw she'd arrived at a Tesco grocery. The bright lights inside promised warmth. Taking a swift look around her, she opened the door and stepped inside.

Her feet left wet splotches on the tile floor, but she ignored that. She headed straight for the customer service desk.

"Excuse me?"

A young teenage girl with a layer of make up on turned towards her, bubblegum popping out in a pink sphere.

"Yea?" The girl asked her.

"Could I use your telephone?"

The girl looked her up and down. Sophie realized how awful she must look, nearly drenched and wearing nothing suitable for the weather.

"It's just," Sophie started before the girl could respond. "I've been mugged, and my mobile was in my purse."

The girl's skeptical pout softened a bit. After a pause, she looked to her left and right, before lifting up the telephone and placing it on the counter.

"Be quick, yea? I'm not allowed to let customers use the phone. Just press 5 before you dial, alright."

"Thanks so much," Sophie murmured, immediately picking the receiver and dialing in the number she knew by heart.

"Hello?" came a soft, sweet voice.

"Martha?" Sophie coughed, suddenly feeling tears prickle her eyes. "It's Sophie."

There was an intake of breath.

"Sophie?" Martha whispered, her voice hitched. "Oh god, Sophie, are you alright? Where have you been? We've been worried sick, and your mobile was disconnected, Lettie's been out looking all day today and Mum's absolutely frantic. Where are you?"

Sophie gave a weak chuckle, her eyes looking down the aisles of product as she twirled the phone cord with one finger. "Uhm, it's a long story. I'm alright, I promise. I'm so sorry, I just-" She huffed, at a loss as to how to explain anything.

"What? What is it Sophie? Where are you, I'll come get you."

"I'm in a Tesco," she sighed again. "I'm not sure where I am exact...ly..."

The phone cord dropped from her finger, as the receiver went slack in her hand. In the aisle straight ahead of her, two men dressed completely in black stared at her through dark lenses. One held a black duffel in one hand. The other held a gun.

She dropped the receiver and ran, distorted echoes of Martha's voice talking from the floor where the phone fell. The customer service girl yelled behind her, but all Sophie could hear was the heavy tread of boots running behind her. She ran further into the aisles, ducking in and out until she reached an exit. She burst out the glass doors, knocking aside a couple on their way inside.

It had truly started to rain, and freezing droplets soaked through the thin cloth of her dress. They stung as she ran through them blindly, slipping in and out between pedestrians. Sobs cut through her breaths as she gasped in air, reaching out with her hands to push people aside and to see.

She tripped over a boot, stumbling in the air and catching herself before she fell to the ground. It was enough though, and she felt a rough hand grab her arm and yank her out of the crowd. She struggled, her chest rising with air as she prepared to scream, but a well placed punch to her solar plexus expelled all the air with a painful whoosh. Stars sprinkled in front of her eyes, and her lungs burned as her diaphragm froze with pain.

They dragged her into an alley.

The sound of duct tape ripping off its roll filled her ears, and she willed her limbs to move. All she managed was a sluggish twitch in her legs, and for that she received a whack over the head.

"No more struggling now, girl," came a deep voice, muffled by pain and fabric. "Keep watch Fabian."

Sophie heard the sound of a gun cocking with a small click, and a shadowed figure danced before her pain glazed eyes. It stood at the mouth of the alley.

"Stay still now. Mistress doesn't want us to bang you up, much." He grabbed her wrists and held them together with one large hand, a thick strip of duct tape being tightly wrapped around them. Air finally rattled into her lungs agonizingly, and she wasn't sure if the shallow, hysterical breaths were because of that or were because panic was starting to set in.

Another loud rip of tape roared over the patter of rain on garbage cans. Pure fear rattled down her spine and settled in the seat of her stomach.

"N-no, no, nono, n-n-no," she stuttered out involuntarily. Rain dripped down on her, swimming down between her eyelashes.

"Quiet," the man growled, raising his hand. Sophie flinched.

BANG!

The sound ratcheted in the alley and the man cursed. "Fabian, what are you doing! Point the damn thing away from me!"

The man's partner was faced towards them, his arms outstretched and his hands clutching the gun. It followed something moving, something that the man with Sophie soon realized was behind him.

BANG! BANG!

Powdered brick scattered over Sophie's face, and she curled on her side, sheltering her head with her bound hands.

There was a grunt, and the sound of muffled thuds, before she felt a whoosh of air against her face. Peeking her eyes open, she could see one of her captors laying by her face, his eyes open blankly and his neck at an unnatural angle. Letting out a squeak, she tried to shuffle backwards when she caught sight of a shadowed figure flitting over their bodies and towards the gunman.

There were two more loud bangs, and a thud.

And then, silence.

Warm hands pushed her hair back from her eyes, and a familiar face swam into view.

"Hey, you," it said. An arm hooked itself under her bent knees, another curling around her shoulders and hefting her up against a warm chest. The last she saw was the sight of rain darkened blond hair, plastered to a face spattered with blood.


When she woke again, she was being jostled slightly as Howl ran, his breaths coming out in small pants as they ascended a narrow, unfamiliar staircase. Her eyes blinked rapidly, and her hands flexed in their still bonded state. She took in a huge breath, and with it came a tumble of tears. They caught in her throat and swam down her cheeks with big, gasping sobs.

"Shh," she felt more than heard. "Shh, I've got you."

They reached the top of the staircase, and Howl adjusted her as he freed one hand to touch the door's keypad. There was a beep, and he clicked the door open, his hand automatically returning to where it supported her under the knees.

Sophie hiccuped through her tears, trying desperately to stop crying but to no avail.

The inside of the room smelled like a hotel, and from what Sophie could tell, it most likely was a hotel room. Howl shuffled them through another door, and she felt herself being plopped down onto a bed.

The air was cold without him.

Another door was opened, and a light was clicked on.

He reappeared in front of her with a warm face cloth and a towel. The latter he wrapped around her shoulders, and the other he began to wipe her face with. The cloth rubbed against her sore cheeks, but it was warm, and she leaned into it, her sobs abating into small gasps.

"There now, you're safe." He took the cloth away, and pulled out a switchblade from his pocket. She flinched as he flicked it open, but didn't move as he gently cut through the duct tape tied around her wrists.

He peeled back the tape, wetting the underside with the cloth so that it might come away easier. His fingers prodded gentle on her skin, rubbing lightly.

"I," she began. "I'm s-sorry, I'm s-so s-s-sorry."

Howl sighed. "I told you I'd get you home, didn't I? Silly girl."

At those words, tears welled up in her eyes, spilling out against her will.

"I-I know b-but Calcifer said th-that you were j-just...and I j-just wanted to go h-home," she blubbered, her hands gripping onto Howl's as he finally freed them from their silver restraints.

"It's okay Sophie," he murmured, and allowed her to pull him in between her legs so that she could clutch at his shirt and cry.


When the tears petered out, he pulled back, cupping her face in his hands. His thumbs wiped at the tear trails that glistened down her face.

"Don't you listen to Calcifer. He's no good."

She gave a small hiccup, and looked him in the eyes. They were a dark, stormy green, and she felt a shiver go down her spine.

"You're no good either," she retorted in a shaky voice.

The small smile that pulled at the corner of his lips prompted one to form on her own face.

"Yes, well," he lamely replied, a breath of a laugh escaping through his lips.

"I'm sorry," she whispered again, leaning closer towards him. "I didn't realize they would really be..."

"It's okay."

The hands that cupped her face tightened slightly, and she felt her eye lids droop, focusing down from his eyes to the smooth line of his lips. Almost involuntarily, she felt her chin nudge upwards, her nose nuzzling the side of his softly.

"You're still no good," she sighed against him, feeling his breath hitch.

Howl let out a huff of air, his mouth a tantalizing two millimeters from hers. She clenched her nails against his chest, and that was all it took for him to close the distance between them fiercely, his hands immediately reaching out to thread into her hair.

A delicious thrill went through her stomach as his warm lips covered hers. She almost felt like crying again, it felt so good. His lips moved against her lips continuously, as if he couldn't help but kiss her again and again. Her hands crept up from where they clutched at his shirt to coil around his neck, and she felt a rumble go through his chest.

His hands traveled down to her neck, down to cup her shoulders. He would pull his mouth back from a kiss, but only his mouth, only to reach in again at another slight way, tasting her again and again. He felt like velvet against her mouth, and tasted like rain and blood and something else indescribably delicious.

Sophie fell back against the bed, and he followed, crawling up between her legs to pin her on all fours, his body covering hers like a predator.

His lips left hers, and she let out a mew of discontent. They traveled down her jawline, stopping at the junction of her jaw and neck to nip and suckle. The sensations ripped through her nerves, making her clutch at him in between running her hands down his sides. His mouth went down further to the crook of her neck, and she could feel heart rush in her ears as he kissed her skin, pulling with his lips, with his teeth, sipping her with his tongue.

"Oh!" she cried, clutching at his shoulders.

He hissed, pausing, his lips hovering over her skin.

"Fuck," he growled, and let his forehead slump down against her collarbone.

"What," Sophie managed after a few deep breaths. "What's wrong?"

She tilted her head up, pulling her hands back, when she felt her left hand part with something sticky and wet. Confused, she held it up to her eyes to see that it was slick with blood.

"Howl!"

Hastily, she sat up, and he obliged, moving backwards.

"It's fine," he assured her with an aggravated sigh. "One of the bullets just clipped me. I'd forgotten."

She licked her swollen lips, and she saw his eyes darken as they caught the movement. He turned his head away. She felt something dip in her stomach.

"Just clipped you?" she whispered incredulously. Forgotten?

"It's just a scratch." He groaned, rubbing his face tiredly. "Come on, let's get you cleaned up. You need to sleep off the shock of today."

"But," she began. What about their kiss? What about that?

One look from him silenced her, and she didn't make another sound as he led her through her ablutions and tucked her into bed.

The door clicked resolutely behind him when he left her in the bedroom, alone.


She woke up much later, face flushed. The tingling between her thighs was beginning to fade, but the memories of the dream stayed fresh in her mind. She lay in bed, eyes staring up at the ceiling as she felt a restlessness rise in her bones.

When she slipped out of the bed, she walked with certainty.


Howl was sitting on the couch of the suite's little living room, clad in just his jeans and a thin t-shirt. A stark white bandage was wrapped tightly across one of his biceps. A gun was cradled in his hands.

As she padded across the carpet towards him, he looked up, a question alight in his eyes. His hair was dark as night, as it would be after his shower earlier in the night. His dark brows winged straight across his bottle green eyes, and the light freckles that sprinkled under his lashes sprang out starkly against his skin.

Sophie took the gun out of his limp hands, and placed it with a resolute click on the table.

"Sophie?" he asked, but she knew he knew the answer to his question.

She reached forward, threading her fingers through soft black hair, placing one knee on either side of him as she did so. The sofa dimpled under her weight.

Her lips ghosted over his cheek, over his nose, across his jaw. She could feel him shudder beneath her, and felt the burning warmth of his hands through her dress as they settled on her hips.

She settled in against him, fitting her chest to his, before her lips descended on his. They were warm, almost feverishly so, tasting like honey and soap and hot blooded male. His arms tightened around her waist, and he moved his lips in a sudden frantic pattern. She gasped, parting her lips slightly, and he flicked his tongue out to trace the inner length of her lower lip.

She nearly sagged in his grip, her hands pressing closer into his hair.

His tongue swiped at her lips again, before delving inside to play with hers. He sucked lightly, pressing the tip against hers. Sophie shuddered in his arms. He groaned, and the sound rumbled through the both of them.

"Oh god," he moaned, releasing her mouth to descend upon her neck, scraping his teeth and laving the almost bites with his tongue.

Sophie arched into him, breathing raggedly. "Yes," she gasped.

His hands traveled down her legs, and under her skirt. As soon as his skin met hers, she jumped lightly, and brought his mouth back to hers. She attacked his, nibbling and tugging at his lips, her tongue fighting with his as she sucked and pulled. His hands traveled higher, and hers traveled lower, scraping down his chest to reach the rim of shirt and pull.

His hands left her thighs for a moment as she pulled his shirt off of him, reveling in the ripple of muscle that was revealed. She reached behind her to pull at the fabric of her dress, and he helped her pull it over her head, leaving her in nothing but panties.

With a sudden movement, he grabbed her and her back met the couch with a thump.

"Ahh!" she cried. His mouth was making its way down to her breasts, as his hands trailed up her ribs, both aiming for the same area.

"Sophie," he murmured hoarsely.

She squirmed underneath him, pressure building in her abdomen sweetly.

Another choked cry escaped her as his mouth latched onto a nipple and sucked.

"More," she moaned, and he complied by bringing up both hands finally to cup her breasts, is fingers moving rhythmically as he sucked.

Blindly, she reached up to fumble with the button of his jeans, pulling it apart almost savagely. With a chuckle, he wiggled his rear to help her pull the denim down, kicking it to the floor as soon as he was able.

"Oh gods," she cried, bucking upwards. Her bare legs felt the silky smoothness of the skin of his abdomen, and she nearly shed tears, her want to pull him close was so desperate.

One hand left the her breast as he kissed his way to the other nipple, and slid slowly down her stomach.

"Mmm," she groaned, and he hummed against her breast.

The hand slipped under her panties, parted its way through red curls, and she nearly spasmed as he touched her center. Her hands flailed, settling to thread through his hair once again.

A finger circled her entrance, and she moaned, low and deep.

"Stop teasing me, damnit," she ordered breathily, and she felt him smile against her skin. As his finger entered her, she felt her hips slide upwards, agonizing for friction. He slid it in and out, in and out, and she nearly saw stars when he slid in one more finger. His thumb brushed against her clit, sending waves of pleasure up and down her body.

"You're so wet," he choked, his words hot against her breastbone.

"Please," she begged. "Howl, please"

He shook his head, side to side, his hair brushing across her like a brush. Her nerves were on fire. Her knees tightened around his side and she squeezed, coaxing him closer.

With a groan, he lowered down, and she felt his other hand go down. There was a rip and slight discomfort before she saw something blue go flying through the air.

"Hey," she complained half-heartedly, but soon forgot the destroyed underwear as his arousal slid against her wetness. She forgot to breathe.

"Ahh," he groaned, and she saw him bite his lip.

"Just do it," Sophie growled, impatient, and nearly started keening when he immediately thrust forcefully inside her. Every part of him, touching her inner walls. It was burning hot.

Her breaths came out in loud pants alongside his, and she shifted her hips, letting him sink in a fraction more. They both groaned together, and she felt him curl one arm around her back while the other braced itself near her head on its elbow.

His hips moved backwards, and his cock dragged against something that made her cry out. With a snap, he reentered her, and she clutched at his back, digging her nails in. He started a steady rhythm, pumping in and out, in and out, pulling at her hips as she moved in tandem. The slide of him against her was making her limbs shake, and the head of his cock brushed roughly against a spot that made pleasure literally ripple through her body.

"Oh yes," she breathed out raggedly, and he groaned in agreement. The pressure building inside her was getting hotter and heavier, and she couldn't take it.

"I'm so close," she whimpered. "Please Howl, please!"

"Yes," he managed, his voice low and hoarse. "Yes, Sophie."

And then he slammed into her with incredible force, over and over, until all she could see was blackness as her entire being focused on the feeling of him rubbing fiercely against her. Her eyes rolled backwards, and then intense pleasure exploded, and her black world turned bright white.

When she came to, he was still riding her, when she felt him pull out suddenly and his whole body went rigid as seed splashed out onto her stomach. His eyes were squinted shut, his eyebrows lifted as if in anguish, and a rumbling moan ripped out of him.

His breaths were ragged against her skin, and he pulled her to him close, seeking her warmth.

"Sophie," he finally murmured.

She kissed his brow where it lay nestled against her neck.

A hand trailed down her ribs and back up, caressing her skin.

"What is it, Howl," she mumbled.

"Stay?" The question soaked in the skin near his mouth, and she felt it as it came out of his mouth.

"Yes," she replied sleepily. "Always."


AN:
1. I have never been anywhere British, so I apologize if I got anything geographically stupid about London D:
2. SO. WHAT'D YOU THINK. REVIEW! :D