Author's Note: I am sincerely grateful for those reviews on the last chapter, my darlings. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it and you guys are just awesome for taking the time to review! Thank you so much!
Just a reminder… the chapters are not in chronological order and will continue not to be. Think along the lines of 500 Days of Summer. Let's just say that this story's alternate title is 21 Years of Chalek. Haha… Kind of reminds me of one of my favorite literary works of art – One Hundred Years of Solitude. Ah, but I digress…
If there are questions that come up (like how on earth the curse that prevented humans and Mai from being intimate was broken), I'm going to try to come up with a one-shot or two in order to address those details, but I make no promises (the key word here is try). It is inevitable that there will be parts of this story that will require you to read between the lines (or in this case, the chapters) – if you know what I mean. ;) I hope it doesn't get too confusing. I'm really just trying to have a lot of fluffy fun writing each chapter of this story and I'm hoping that as you read through the "snapshots", you're having some fluffy fun right along with me. ;)
Anyway, enough ranting… I hope you enjoy reading this next scrapbook installment!
-It's For Charity-
Valentines 2013. Chloe's freshman year in college.
After her last class for the day, Chloe found her dashing blonde boyfriend leaning on the wall outside her classroom, waiting to pick her up. His face lit up in a smile at the sight of her and she could feel the cliché of clichés that is butterflies on her stomach once again becoming her reality. She'd walk up to him and then tiptoe to give him a peck on the lips before they both go on their merry way. That was one of the regular routines that they'd fallen into since they became an official couple a few weeks after Chloe's epic empathy hit. What was neither regular nor routine on that particular day was the fact that as they walked along campus grounds to meet up with Amy, Paul and Jasmine at the quadrangle, it seemed every other person they happened to pass by had some something to say to Alek about some sort of record he was holding.
"Pucker up, Petrov!" Lots of loud hollering.
Chloe's brows furrowed. Huh? Pucker up?
"Alek, my man! You're gonna break last year's record, right?" Fists bumping.
Alek is my man and what record is this dude talking about?
"See you on Valentines, handsome. Same time, same place, right?" Flirty lashes fluttering.
What the – Same time, same place? Someone stop me from clawing those fluttery eyes out.
"One hundred and counting!" Hearty shoulder slapping combined with some weird attempts at roaring.
One hundred and counting what? What kind of record did Alek break exactly?
"Alek, you dog… Tsk, tsk, tsk…" Head shaking. Impish smile a little too telling.
He's more like a cat actually…
"Can't wait to lock lips with you again, CB…" One cheesy kiss flying.
Oh no, she didn't!
"Ok, that's it!" Teeth gritting, one blonde brow lifting, blue eyes blazing. "That girl did not just say and do that."
Alek swallowed hard as he turned his head toward Chloe, whose hands were planted on her hips, her long curls hanging loosely over her shoulders.
"Have I ever told you how gorgeous you look when you're all worked up over something?" he smirked, inching closer to her, hoping to spare himself the diatribe he was sure was coming his way.
"Oh no, you don't." Chloe waved a finger in the air for added swagger, one hand placed on his chest to push him back from his habit of being a close talker (something she found strangely attractive and completely disarming lately). "You're not going to sweet talk your way out of this one, Petrov. What are they talking about?"
Alek's face twitched as he squinted a brown eye at his girlfriend. Girlfriend. He still couldn't quite wrap his mind around the idea. The Uniter is my girlfriend. Whenever he thought about it, he would experience this strange feeling start from the pit of his stomach – an exciting sensation very much related to the word flutter. He smiled at the thought of kissing those rosy lips of hers, brushing a thumb along her jaw line.
For a moment, she was distracted by the soft, loving expression on his brown eyes and the feel of his finger over her skin. She bit her lip as her attention drifted off to his full red lips. Since when do you have this effect on me, Alek Petrov? You can get away with bloody murder if you continue at this rate. Before her mind could completely wander off to thoughts of kissing her boyfriend, she shook her head softly, willing herself to get back to her senses and deal with the matter at hand. "Well? What is it?" she pried.
Alek grimaced as he shoved his hands in his jeans' pockets. He slightly twisted his upper torso, a guilty look crossing his face. "Don't get mad, okay?"
She crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot lightly on the ground, awaiting an explanation.
"There's a Valentines fair tomorrow, right? There was one last year and I was assigned to the kissing booth," he hesitantly explained before quickly adding, "All the funds raised go to charity by the way." He cringed as he continued, "I hold the record for the most kisses and that's..."
"…what all these people are talking about." Chloe frowned. "Alek, that's so…"
"Impressive? Charitable?" he asked hopefully.
"Unsanitary." She wrinkled her nose at the idea of dozens upon dozens of girls lining up to kiss her boyfriend. The idea made her resent that the curse keeping Mai from being intimate with humans had already been lifted. "You're not gonna do that again tomorrow, are you?"
He could only narrow his eyes, his lips twitching. "I've been on the kissing booth's roster since last year. Some have already even bought tickets to…" He scratched his head uncomfortably "…uhh… kiss me."
"No. Way," Chloe shook her head furiously. "Not gonna happen." She turned and walked away from him, heading for their friends.
Alek trailed after her. "Come on, Chloe… it's for charity!"
"What do you think you're doing?"
Chloe turned to find her boyfriend's honey blonde brow raised at her. She smiled sweetly at him, waving the pen she was holding in the air. "Have I ever told you how gorgeous you look when you're all worked up over something?" she quipped, echoing his own words.
Alek snorted. "Like I don't know that…" He looked over her shoulder at the sheet of paper that now had her name and signature on it. "You did not just sign that." The sheet had the words "Kissing Booth Roster" on top of it in big bold red letters.
"Oh, but I just did," she responded, her blue eyes twinkling.
The Mai protector's stomach turned, a rather disturbing image of dozens upon dozens of guys lining up to kiss his girlfriend flashing through his mind. He was no fool. He knew that a lot of the guys in campus would be more than willing to pay good money to be able to lock lips with Chloe. "No. Way," Alek shook his head. "Not gonna happen."
"What?" Her eyes widened. "You can do it, but I can't?"
"I don't have a choice! I tried to back out of it, but the organizer wouldn't let me." He gritted his teeth. "Chloe, you're being unreasonable." He looked at her, brown eyes pleading for her to back out of this whole deal.
Chloe smiled and slightly tapped him on the cheek. "Come on, Alek… it's for charity."
The Valentines Fair…
Alek stepped up to the small platform where two wooden stools had been set at the very center. The announcer, Ryan, was saying something about him being the record-holder when it came to the most number of kisses – thus, the most amount of money raised – on last year's fair. Alek wasn't really paying attention. His eyes were set on the other platform just beside the one he was on, where Chloe was taking her place sitting on one of the two wooden stools set there.
Who the hell organized this thing? Alek wondered to himself, musing over why on earth his shift coincided with Chloe's. He had done everything he could to talk her out of this, but the Uniter – as stubborn and headstrong as she'd always been – was relentless.
"If you're gonna go ahead with this thing, then so am I," she reasoned out.
Thus, they found themselves in this predicament, with Alek wondering if he should take note of the face of every guy who dared kiss Chloe so he could beat them up later. Before he could further mull over the idea, however, a skinny and obviously giddy brunette sat on the wooden stool across the one he had just settled himself on. Alek tried to smile as he leaned over for the kiss. His eyes were still on Chloe and this sick feeling settled on the pit of his stomach when a guy sat across his girlfriend. To add to his horror, the guy who was about to kiss Chloe was someone very familiar.
"Hell no!" Alek exclaimed, standing from his seat, much to the surprise and chagrin of the girl in front of him. Her lips were already puckered up and ready to experience just how great a kisser he was, so his sudden outburst was rather unexpected and unnerving.
Chloe's eyes momentarily met with her boyfriend's and she raised a challenging brow at him before facing the old friend now sitting in front of her.
"Hey, Chloe," Kai smiled nervously. "You sure about this?"
Chloe shrugged. "I've always wondered what it would be like to kiss a Jackal." It was her who talked the Jackal into being the first to line up for a kiss, hoping to make her boyfriend jealous. Her first option was Paul, but she knew there was absolutely no way Alek would be jealous over her kissing her childhood friend… plus Amy wouldn't be very happy about that. As she shifted her seat closer to Kai, she could feel Alek's furious brown gaze burning against her skin.
Alek's fists were clenched and the girl in front of him was staring up at him in terror, intimidated by his menacing stance.
"Alek," Ryan hesitantly placed a hand over his shoulder, "you're scaring the customers."
He didn't really hear because he was too preoccupied watching the Uniter – savior of the Mai – leaning over and about to lock lips with a Jackal. Not just any Jackal… it's Kai. He remembered how jealous he was of the guy when Chloe made it her personal mission to see to his safety. "Don't do it, Chloe," he muttered, hoping she could hear.
Chloe heard Alek's warning. She smiled inwardly.
"I think your boyfriend is just about ready to rip my throat out. He seems to be the kind to enjoy ripping body parts off of people…" Kai whispered to her ear.
Chloe giggled, knowing how jealous Alek must be by then. "Relax. He won't do anything to you," she whispered back.
All their low whispering was driving Alek crazy. What are they talking about?
"Are you going to kiss or what?" Ryan asked him, now sounding rather annoyed.
Alek smirked. "Oh I'm going to kiss alright." Not being able to hold himself back, he ran down the platform he was on and was on Chloe's platform within seconds. Before her lips could touch Kai's, Alek grabbed her arm, pulled her away from the Jackal, planted his hands on her small waist and pulled her against him.
She looked up questioningly at him, but a smile was now slowly forming on her lips.
He looked first at Kai then roamed his gaze pointedly at all the other guys lined up to kiss her. "Anyone who kisses her will answer to me."
"What you gonna do, Petrov?" a guy from the line hollered.
"I don't know," Alek shrugged. "Rip your tongue out perhaps?"
"See, Chloe…" Kai mumbled rubbing a hand over his neck. "He's the ripping sort…"
"Alek…" was all Chloe managed to say before his lips crashed possessively over hers, claiming, controlling, commanding, his tongue freely kneading against hers. It felt like forever before their lips parted. Chloe gasped when he pulled away from her, her knees weakening at how great and passionate a kiss that was. He's always been a great kisser, but that was… Oh gosh… I don't even know what that was. The only word she could think of to describe it was amazing as she held on to his strong arms for support.
A smirk formed on his lips at the sight of how rattled she was. "Let's see any of these chumps attempt to beat that…" He chided before letting go of her waist and turning to head back to his platform. He sat across the skinny brunette who seemed to be even more eager for a kiss after watching him go at it with Chloe. He grinned at the girl. "Now we can kiss." His lips were about to touch the girl's, when he felt soft, delicate hands grip his arm. He had to smile when he heard Chloe say, "Oh no, you don't…" before pulling him up to stand so that she could throw herself against him, arms around his neck, her lips pressing against his with equal – if not more than – the passion he displayed earlier.
Somewhere along their once again very public display of affection, Ryan began tentatively poking Alek's shoulder. "This really isn't what kissing booths are for."
"We're kissing, aren't we?" Alek asked breathlessly after prying his lips away from Chloe, who was as breathless as he was. "What else are kissing booths for?"
"Well, there's this whole fundraising thing and there's a line…" Ryan began to explain, his hands flailing in the air to emphasize his point.
"Yeah, yeah… her shift's an hour long, right?" Alek asked with a small shrug. "I'll pay…"
"And what about your shift and all these people lined up to…"
"I'll pay for his shift," Chloe responded before glaring at the girls lined up to kiss Alek. "Anyone who objects should be willing to put up a fight, because my claws are coming out if anyone tries to kiss him."
Alek had to smile both at how possessive she was being and at how literal her claws-coming-out threat could be. "Chloe King, you have no idea how hot you are right now," he cooed.
Chloe grinned, her hand on the back of his neck pulling him close. "Just kiss me, Alek Petrov."
And so he did.
Ryan's shoulders sagged in surrender. "Where's this booth's organizer? Who's next on the roster?" he asked no one in particular, having no idea what to say or do to the people lined up for a kiss.
"Oh, you'll do…" the brunette who Alek was supposed to kiss stood up and kissed the announcer instead.
Shocked, Ryan tried to pull away. "Tracy, I'm not on the roster," he gasped.
The brunette smiled. "Come on, Ryan… it's for charity."
Jasmine shook her head at both of them. "I can't believe you two spent that much money to do something that you could otherwise get for free. What does all of that even prove?"
"Why does it have to prove anything?" Alek asked, smiling and meeting Chloe's gaze, his arm over her shoulder.
She smiled back. "If you ask me, it was worth every penny."
Jasmine had to roll her eyes at the couple going all gooey-eyed over each other once again. She lifted her hands in mock surrender. "Of course… go ahead… kiss again."
And so they did.
But not before both of them huskily said in unison, "Come on, Jasmine… it's for charity."
Hannah giggled, her cheeks blushing as her eyes went back and forth from her dad to her mom, a wide toothy smile on her face.
"I'm getting nervous over how much this little girl enjoys hearing kissing stories so much." Alek began messing with Hannah's hair.
"Daddy, stop that…" Hannah frowned, trying to push her father's hand away from her head.
"Why? Have you told her 'kissing stories' before?" Chloe asked.
"No… but I'm pretty sure either Xander or Claudia has…" Alek creased his brows at their daughter, looking more than a little concerned.
"Daddy, am I allowed to kiss boys?" Hannah asked. She tilted her head to the side like she always did when she was trying to be cute.
Alek shook his head. "No, Hannah. You're not allowed to kiss boys. Not until you're forty." He then turned toward Chloe. "Isn't five the age when she's supposed to think boys have cooties or something and she's all disgusted by them?"
Chloe chuckled. "I was about seven years old when I had my first kiss."
"Geez… you're not helping…" Alek grimaced. "That is so wrong. Now I can't get the image of you kissing Paul out of my head."
"Ewww…" Hannah wrinkled her nose. "You kissed Uncle Paul, Mommy? Was Aunt Amy mad?"
"That was a long time ago, sweetheart. Aunt Amy was more disgusted than mad," Chloe replied with a soft smile. "And Hannah, you heard your father…" she added, rubbing her little girl's back. "No kissing until you're forty."
"When will I be forty?" Her blonde eyelashes fluttered over her innocent brown eyes.
"A very long time from now," Chloe answered their child.
"If I could do anything about it, never..." Alek muttered under his breath, nodding resolutely. "Aren't there any other stories in there?" he asked, tilting his chin toward the scrapbook. "One that doesn't involve kissing."
Hannah shifted her attention to the scrapbook. She sifted backwards through the pages.
"Aren't you supposed to be sleeping already?" Chloe brought up.
"Just one more story…" the little girl pleaded, a pout forming on her pink lips. "Pleeease…"
Alek and Chloe exchanged glances. Hannah was known to have charmed her way out of many difficult situations with that cute little pout of hers. Chloe rolled her eyes. "Fine. Just one more story and off to bed you go…" Chloe watched as Hannah thumbed through the pages. She stopped at a certain page and began giggling. "You guys look funny."
Chloe smiled at the picture. It was a wacky picture, with Paul, Amy and her just fooling around.
Alek creased his brows. "That isn't the day I think it is, is it?"
Chloe grinned. "Yup… It is. That's the day you and Paul actually became friends."
- to be continued -
Author's Note: Confession: This one-shot was mostly inspired by the whole kissing booth scene in the movie She's the Man, with Channing Tatum and Amanda Bynes. Also, I'm slightly afraid that I might have written Alek and Chloe a bit OOC here, but *sighs* does it help if I say I tried not to? *smiles*
All proceeds (a.k.a. reviews) for this chapter will go to The Brain of Ivane's Inspire the Writer Foundation, so be generous and leave a review. Come on, sweethearts… it's for charity.