Started my daily ficlets to make the hiatus pass, then decided to keep going with a 2nd cycle, and then a 3rd, 4th, etc through 36th cycle. Now cycle 37!


"Progressions"
Artie/Lucy (OC)
Sequel to "Not so different, not so similar"

She was starting to make him nervous. Every time she was near now, he had this kind of double take like even though they were friends, had been for a couple months, he still couldn't believe she was by his side. But she was, and she laughed with him, smiled because of him… She was getting better and better in Glee Club, had become one of them though she was still very close with the band which had been her home before. All he knew though was that the more time went by, the more he couldn't forget that moment when they'd almost kissed. He knew he hadn't gone through with it for the right reasons, because it wouldn't have been right, but it didn't make it any easier to think about what could have been.

"Hey!" He startled when she came out of nowhere and had himself a mini heart attack. She smirked. "Something scare you there?" she asked innocently.

"No, that's how I greet people now," his eyes darted about before turning up to find her face. If she stood right under the lights, looking up at her like this… her hair was like fire and he just wanted to get burned.

"Right, it's catchy," she teased, then smiled. "I have an offer for you."

"Shoot," he nodded.

"So being the new girl at Breadstix, this weekend, I have the very glamorous task of doing inventory. "I'm going to be at it, probably both days, so I was thinking if you're free you could help me out… I'll let you hold the clipboard…" she baited, and he gasped, making her laugh.

"I'm in."

So Saturday after lunch Artie made his way to the mall and found Lucy. The Breadstix uniform on her was almost more than he could handle. The first time he'd seen her in it, out of nerves, he'd laughed, and she'd smacked him.

He followed her into the stock room, where she presented him with the aforementioned clipboard. He took it up like it was the greatest honor he'd ever received. For a while they just got to work, developed a steady rhythm of it, like a choreography of some sort. As the hours went by, he could see she was getting tired, but he was still okay, and he tried to encourage her. They were still there after closing time, and the stop of the constant background noise seemed to drain what little energy they both had left. Lucy sat on the ground, pulling cans from the bottom shelf and stacking them lazily as she counted them.

He stared at her, the clipboard in his lap now. It was just them now, even though there were probably others still in front, this felt more intimate than the rest of the day had been. Somewhere among the various smells of food in this place, he could still isolate the scent that belonged to her, and… he really wanted to say something. All this time he couldn't bring himself to do it, because he wasn't sure how she'd respond, because he was scared he might screw things up again like he'd done before, twice…

Were they just friends, and he was seeing it wrong? He could still hear her little sister asking him if he was Lucy's boyfriend, and the way she'd reacted, he could have sworn she was flustered, but he could have been assuming. He didn't want to make a move and lose her as a friend in the process… things would get awkward, then they'd stop hanging out…

"So, here's a crazy idea," her voice brought him back to reality and he looked back to her after he'd blinked the thoughts away. She was still stacking, a wall of cans between them.

"Love those, go on," he nodded.

"Well, we have all this food, the quantity of which we now have a very intimate knowledge of," she nodded along, and he gave the clipboard a wave. It didn't even occur to him she wasn't meeting his eye. "Neither of us has had dinner yet, and I know Marcel hasn't left yet," she had told him about the chef before. "I'm sure he still has something he could put together for us so after we're done in here we could go and have dinner. We'll have the whole place to ourselves, and, uh…" she bowed her head, chuckling nervously… He didn't know what she was going to say, but that unsteady hesitation was unfamiliar enough when it came to her that he felt something like anticipation.

"Yeah?" he urged her on.

"And, well, it could be like a, uh… a-a date?" she frowned, let the words settle, then dared turn her eyes up to him in wait of his response. He needed his jaw to come off the floor first. There he'd been, trying to figure out how he was supposed to handle this, and she'd gone and made the first move. "Artie?" she asked after a moment, and he half expected to lose grip on his chair and knock the cans all over her. It didn't happen.

"I think my brain froze…" he finally managed, and she smirked.

"Did you restart?"

"Something like that," he nodded slowly. "You… I…"

"I'm sure there's a sentence in there," she encouraged him with a smile.

"Okay… I mean… Yes…" he nodded slowly, and then he was smiling too. There was a moment of silence, and then she got up.

"Right, I'll just go make sure with Marcel. He gets cranky if w…" she started to move toward the kitchen, and then he thought of something.

"Lucy?" he called and she reappeared at the door.

"Yeah?"

"Well, it's just… I was wondering," he wheeled a bit closer. "What made you ask me? Now, I mean." She paused, thought for a moment and then shrugged.

"Kind of wanted to do it for a while. My mother says patience isn't my thing, but… I guess I was still a little scared about that one." She had never looked more adorable than she did then. "I should probably go and…" she started to leave again.

"Wait!" he called again, and she appeared once more.

"We're going to dine on sugar packs if you don't let me go," she laughed.

"I'll be quick," he promised. "Thing is, there's something I've wanted to do for a while, too, except I can't exactly do it without your help."

"And what's that?" she asked.

"Come here," he waved her over. She walked up to him, and he realized what the next direction almost sounded like, but he hoped she knew why he was asking it. "Just… down here," he indicated for her to get at his eye level. She must have known exactly what he'd been thinking, judging by the teasing look on her face.

"Now what?" she asked, lifting her eyebrows, though he saw the slightest twitch in her features like she knew what he would do now, and she was preparing herself.

He leaned forward, and so did she, their eyes crossing for half a second, and then… a kiss. It was all he could have hoped for and then a little more on top of it. There was a pause, a breath, two smiles, and then another kiss. Finally they parted, looking to one another.

"Okay, now you can go catch Marcel," he nodded.

"Promise? You're not going to call me back again?" she dared him.

"No, I'll be good," he nodded.

"Better be, or no dessert for you."

THE END


A/N: This is a one-shot ficlet, which means that signing up for story alert will not bring you any alerts.
In the event of a sequel, the story will be separate from this one. And as chapter stories go, they are
always clearly indicated as such [ex: "Days 204-210" in the summary] Thank you!