A/N: Owen Hunt and his girlfriend, Sophie Malloy, have been living together for two years in Apartment 6C. A new couple, Cristina Yang and her boyfriend, Julian Jones moves in Apartment 6D, directly across the hall. This follows how the lives of the two couples intertwine.
He first saw the tiny, curly-haired woman pulling the box into the elevator on a Monday morning at 10 a.m. She was struggling but she was not giving up. As he reached the elevator, he made sure the door stayed open until she had fully pulled the box inside.
She looked up, gratefully. "Thanks," she said, as she looked up from her box. He was taken aback by her delicate face, framed by lots of glossy, ebony hair. "Six, please." He pushed the button for the sixth floor, which coincidentally was the same floor on which he lived. He was certain that she was now moving in, because he would have noticed such a lovely Asian creature before.
"Is anyone helping you?" he asked. She looked winded, as she lay back against the wall of the elevator.
"We're now moving into 6D and my boyfriend, Julian, was supposed to be helping me but he got called away on business, so I am stuck moving these boxes in by myself. The movers already brought all of the furniture but I had some boxes I had in storage that I needed to bring across," she said.
"Well, I can help you," Owen volunteered, immediately. "Just show me the boxes and I will help you bring them up for you. You are rather small to be carrying such heavy boxes."
"If you noticed, I wasn't carrying them. I was pulling the boxes and sometimes, pushing them," she admitted, sorrowfully.
"It's okay, I can help you," he said. As the door opened for the sixth floor, he picked up the box and waited for her to open the door for 6D. As he entered the room, he could see the furniture had been delivered but they were not exactly in what would be ideal positions. There were a lot of boxes already there with labels like crockery, cutlery, glasses, bed linens, etc.
"This is all the stuff the movers delivered," she said. "I still have three more boxes in my car. Since the apartment is bigger, I can bring in some of my personal stuff I had to put away. We had a really small apartment before."
"Where do you want me to put this?" he asked.
"Anywhere is fine," she said. He put down the box. "Well, let's go get those other boxes," he said. She led him down to the parking area, where she opened the back of a Nissan Juke.
"Cute vehicle," he said. It suited her, he thought.
"Yeah, I like it," she said. Owen picked up a box. She was going to attempt to pick up another box. "Leave it," he said. "You can't lift that up. Now that I know where your car is, I will just bring up the rest of the boxes for you."
She looked at him, uncertainly. She didn't even know his name and she was going to hand over the keys of her precious vehicle to him.
"Oh, don't look like that. I am very trustworthy," he said. "My name is Owen Hunt. I live in the apartment directly opposite yours. I am in 6C. I live with my girlfriend, Sophie Malloy." He shifted the weight of the box on to one arm as he put out his hand for her to shake.
She shook his hand, while exclaiming, "Gosh, you are strong. You can hold that box on one arm. I am Cristina Yang and my absent boyfriend is Julian Jones."
They went back into the building and back up to 6D, where Owen put down the box. She handed him her keys and he went back down, twice more to bring up her boxes. When he brought her last box up, he found her looking at everything in the apartment and she seemed a little forlorn. He knew exactly what she was thinking. She had to get the apartment in order.
"Here is your last box, Cristina," he said.
"Thank you, Owen. I am eternally grateful," she said. "Maybe I can invite you and your girlfriend over some time for dinner."
"I would like that. Always good to make new friends among our neighbors," he said. "So I am going to do the neighborly thing and offer to help you put together this apartment. I will help you move the furniture in the best positions and also, help you unpack everything. Seeing that your boyfriend is away, it is a lot of work."
"You're willing to do that? That is so great of you," she said. "By the way, I am sorry that I am monopolizing your time. It must be your day off."
"No, no," he said. "I work at home. I write code. I get projects from my clients and it is not like I have to go into an office to do that. Besides, working at home, means I don't have to wear a suit."
"I fully understand that," she said. "I am a writer. So I work at home, too. I get assignments from clients, maybe do a bit of traveling, interviewing and then write up the story. I like it. That's nice, so we can see each other during the day. In my last building, I was always the only one left at home and there was no one to talk to."
"Yeah, I guess so. We can have tea in the afternoon, when we are on a break. So what does Julian do?" Owen asked.
"Julian is a banker at First American," she said. "What about Sophie?"
"Oh, Sophie is a law associate at Smithson Brothers," he said.
"Oh, so we are both hooked up with corporate kind of people, while we work at home in our pajamas," she said. He grinned. "Well, sometimes, I am in my underwear," he said. He wondered if he should have said that. But her smile back to him, indicated that it was okay.
"Or naked," she said, laughing. He had the immediate picture of her naked. From what he could see, she seemed to have a rather sexy body. The thought brought a smile to his face.
She wondered if she should have said that because, she too, had the image of him, naked at his computer. He was wearing a rather close-fitting t-shirt and she had already admired his broad shoulders and well-built biceps. She wiped the picture from her mind. She could not be thinking about her neighbor like this. After all, she had a boyfriend and was in a relationship for about a year, now.
There was an awkward silence for about 30 seconds before Owen said, "Let's get this place in order." They spent the next three hours, putting the furniture in place and then unpacking and packing away all of the stuff in the boxes. Owen had a project he had to do but he decided he would work on it, later. He was enjoying himself too much with this woman with the long, dark curls. They shared conversation, laughter, beers and a pizza that he ordered.
By the end, they were exhausted and they collapsed on the couch. They looked around, admiring their handiwork.
"This place looks good," she said. "Thank you so much, neighbor."
He looked at his watch. He was not aware that so much time had passed. He had been having too good a time.
"Ooh, I have to go now. I was really supposed to be working on an assignment," he said. "I also have to start dinner."
"I am sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to take you away from your work."
"It really is okay. I haven't enjoyed myself this much in months," he said. "And it wasn't like we were out or anything. It was just great company."
"Thank you," she said. "I had a great time, too. Who knew unpacking could be so much fun?"
"Yeah," he said, laughing. He got up and opened the door. "So I guess I will see you around, Cristina."
"I am certain of it," she said. "After all, we live across the hall from each other."
He went back into 6C and leaned against the door for a moment. For some reason, he felt that flutter of excitement when you meet someone new and attractive. He knew he should not have been feeling this way. After all, he was in a long-term relationship with Sophie, and Cristina was also in a relationship with Julian. He was just fooling himself, he thought. There was no way that she could be interested in him.
Back in her apartment, Cristina thought about her hunky, new neighbor. "My word, he was gorgeous," she thought. "The most beautiful blue eyes." She tried to shake the thought and said aloud to herself, "You have to stop this, Cristina. You are both in relationships. You love Julian."
All that moving and unpacking had made her feel very tired. She crashed on to her bed. Owen had kindly put the sheets on. He really was a great neighbor, she thought, as she closed her eyes. The hours passed and she was only awakened by the sound of the knocking on her door. She looked at the digital clock next to her bed. It was already 6 p.m.
"Gosh," she chided herself. "I have been asleep for so long. Now I won't be able to go to sleep, tonight." She rubbed her eyes and wondered who was at the door. Julian was not supposed to be back until the next day and he had a key, so there was no reason for him to knock.
She got out of the bed and hurried to open the door, but not before checking the peephole to see who it was. It was Owen.
"Hey, neighbor," she said. "What brings you by?"
"Well, I noticed earlier that you hadn't had time to go to the supermarket, as yet, so I brought you some dinner," he said. "It's just soup." It was a rather large bowl that he carried, she noted.
"That is a huge bowl, I can't eat all of that by myself," she said.
"Well, I thought we could share it," he said, sheepishly. "Sophie won't be home until around later and I am hungry now and I thought we could both use the company."
"Yeah, for sure," she said. "Let me get two bowls." She went into the kitchen and took out two bowls. Her shirt went up as she put up her arms to get the bowls, revealing some flawless, creamy skin. He swallowed hard.
She placed the bowls and two spoons on the table, as Owen ladled the soup into the bowls.
"Ooh, that looks good, Owen," she said.
"Well, give me the verdict after you taste it," he said. She swirled around the soup with her spoon before she took her first sip. "Mmmm….that is awesome," she said. "So you are not only good-looking, you are a great cook, too."
Did she just say that he was good-looking? He felt rather flattered that she thought so. They both sat in silence as they had their soup. "That just about hit the spot," Cristina said. She couldn't help it when she made a small burp.
"Excuse me, I am so embarrassed," she said, putting her hand to her mouth. He laughed. "Do you know in some cultures if you don't burp, the cook is insulted? Well, I would consider that to be a compliment."
They sat there and chatted for a while, talking about everything under the sun. It was already 8 p.m. when he decided to leave.
"Well, Sophie must be home by now," he said. "So have a good night. I will talk to you, tomorrow."
"Yeah, Owen. Thanks, once again for all of your help, today. Helping me move in and bringing me food. I hope all of the neighbors in the building are as nice as you," she said. She walked him to her door and gently closed the door, when he left.
Owen went into his apartment. Sophie was sitting at the table, having a bowl of soup.
"Hey," he said. "You are home."
"Yeah, where were you? I have been here for about an hour," she said.
"Oh," he said. "There is a new couple moved in 6D. Just took across some soup," he said. "Just being neighborly."
"Are they an improvement from Jasper?" she asked. "He was a nutcase. Playing his bongos at all hours of the night. I am glad he moved out." She picked up the newspaper to catch up with the day's events.
"Yeah, it certainly is a vast improvement," he said, as he took his bowl to the kitchen to wash it.
A/N: Please leave your comments. Thanks for your thoughts.