In Between Love and Hate

Author's Note: I know I'm not a good writer… But I'm back! I've already written four chapters, but I'm only posting Chapter Two first. This one's my favorite… So, enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar. James Cameron does. All I have is my pen and little notebook wherein I write every story that my imagination creates, no matter how it sucks.

Chapter Two:

Grace Augustine had a pet plant named Shipley, and she always treat it with tender concern. She fed it a carefully calculated and measured mix of nutrients, watered it judiciously, and regularly misted its fleshy, heart-shaped leaves to wash off dust and maintain its glossy green beauty.

She adored the plants so much and almost treated it as if it was speaking and thinking plant. She confesses things to it, talked to it whenever she's bored and looked at it with loving eyes, as if it was her child she's looking at.

Maybe, if it has a brain and could really understand, the plant would probably the only living thing who knows everything about Grace, and speaking to it in her spare time is a very crucial thing that she would not be caught dead doing. Or else, they might think that she finally lost it.

It was Friday night, and the rain was pouring hard outside.

The redhead, who was sipping her hot chocolate from her mug, heard a "pop' sound from her not too distant computer which made her turn around, heading for it.

There is a new message from Trajan.

'Hey sis. It's sunny here in my place but I heard from the news that it's raining cats and dogs there. Hope you got your umbrella when you go to work. But anyway, I want to show you some pictures first.'

Grace's brown eyes darted to the link on the bottom part of the screen. She pressed a finger to it and a tab immediately opened, showing her a teenage picture of Trajan with another strikingly-looking man in his early 20's.

He looked familiar… The curl of his lips when he smiled, the straight nose… And cool blue eyes. His hair was blonde and was neatly-cropped, his posture was manly and his body was a little muscular.

She didn't know who he is, but she is certain of one thing; she'd met him before.

Suddenly, Grace noticed the photo caption under the picture and her brown eyes widened with shock, nearly dropping her mug. 'This was taken when I graduated from junior high. You weren't there anymore. But this man beside me was Miles Quaritch in his early 20's. Aside from Dad, he also encouraged me to take up Military trainings and be a Marine.'

Grace rubbed her temples. NO. It could not be Miles Quaritch. Because this blonde man is the same blonde boy she'd often seen in her dreams. He was the same blonde boy that she'd made friends with when she was young… And immature. 'Friends? We've never been friends!'

Her mind was searching for the memories, but she awoke to reality when her phone rang. An unregistered number flashed in the screen.

"Hello?" she answered, her words slipping to formality after the shocking truth she's just discovered.

"Hi." The voice was low pitched, very manly but genuine and almost soft. She recognized the voice and yet she still asked… "Who's this?"

The voice on the other line grunted a laugh and Grace didn't know why it is so pleasant to hear. They're like music – music that you only hear once – during midsummer.

"It's me, Miles." The line crackled as one ravaging thunder hit the ground. Obviously, people had managed to make themselves rich but really didn't care about what made them so – Technology.

"Oh. You called." She tried to make her voice as plain as possible.

But he chuckled, so it's quite obvious that she failed to hide the tension in her voice. "Yeah, I did." He chuckled once more, and Grace couldn't help but to smile.

"What's so funny?"

"Nothing," he breathed, thinking of words to say. "Are yah busy?"

"Do you really want an answer?" she grinned like an idiot and rolled her eyes, her fingers tracing the lines on her forehead. "I am always busy. Respect that fact, every second of everyday."

"So am I disturbing you?" Miles smiled and ran his middle finger over his lips.

"Isn't it obvious?"

There was silence for a minute, but she hears his slow breathing over the phone and her own heartbeats pounding hard on her chest as well.

Then he spoke. So clear, so manly, and so military. "Why, you always answer my question with a question."

That left her quite speechless and stunned. She hadn't expected such question to be thrown at her. She's at a loss for words, and no one had ever done that to her – except him.

"Cat got your tongue, Grace?" Her name slipped from his lips as if it was an alien word. It was so sweet, so tender.

And she feels like she's burning to hell.

Miles grinned at her loss for words. Trajan had always said that that she's a woman of strength, of dignity. She's the kind of dame whom men must fear, but now it feels like she's more afraid of him, afraid of saying anything to him.

And that's what made her a little more interesting.

"Miles," his attention was caught by the woman in his bed. "Still awake, baby?"

Grace knows that it was a woman's voice. So… That means he's with another girl… IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!

And she even called him baby.

"I gotta go," he muttered, a glint of annoyance so evident in his voice. Or was it just her imagination? "Remember the day I saved your life, Grace? I'm a Military man. And of all the times I saved someone from death, yours is the most special." He paused, and then added; "Someday you're gonna have to repay that, by all means necessary."

She's not blushing! She's not!

But she is. The stupid hormones…

"Okay. Bye," she said, trying to sound formal after all the electric shockwaves that his very words sent her body.

"And Grace…" he whispered. "My life was empty until you came."

The moment he ended the call, Grace's widened eyes darted to the picture of the blonde man in her computer's screen.

The next day was a rare event. She woke up curling under the thick sheets, eyes watering and body shivering. Her wall clock indicates that she's now late for work, but she just couldn't bring herself to stand. She felt cold, real cold invading her senses and she could not understand why, of all a sudden, this feeling visited her now.

Grace struggled to stand, as she felt like the world is spinning around her and she can't fucking make a step. But she has work to do and if she can remember history correctly, this is her first time to violate RDA's rule of punctuality.

Feeling dizzy and uneasy, she head for her bathroom and immediately grabbed the thermometer sleeping for a long time now in the wooden cabinet. 39 degrees. 'Fever. For fuck's sake it's high.'

She can't take a bath, of course. It'll only make her condition worse. But still, she needed to clean up a little and prepare for her work.

Grace didn't eat. Only makes her dizzier. Outside, the rain was still pouring hard and as stated on the news, it'll still be like this for the next three days.

She grabbed her car keys and cursed under her breath when the engine didn't roar. Life is mocking her today, she's certain. Stepping out of the car, she reached for her umbrella at held it open, raindrops popping over the fabric. She will still need to find a taxi and commute.

So this is the only consolation for the day; a taxi happened to pass by the street and she managed to get to RDA in less than 15 minutes.

But the moment she reached the main entrance of the building, her brittle knees felt so weak and she sank to the floor. She could still see the blurred images of people coming to her rescue. She recognized some faces, others she met often and some she met briefly.

And then darkness finally engulfed her senses.

'Grace...' She could hear a soft man's voice, and a hand pushing her shoulders gently. Slowly, she opened her eyes and Max's worried face greeted her. "Max..." she whispered.

She roamed her brown eyes around the white room and instantly, she knew she's in the RDA Clinic. The air smelled a bit of alcohol...

"Thank goodness you're awake," he said, eyes showing a little brightness. "How do you feel now?"

Grace searched for what she felt now, but there was nothing. Her head felt lighter, and the chill she felt a while ago was gone. "I think I'm fine..."

"I seriously hope so. You've had a high fever, you shouldn't be going out," he sipped the coffee he had in his right hand. "You should've called and told me you're not feeling well."

Grace frowned. "You shouldn't be worrying about me, Max. I'm not a kid anymore," she said as she tried to sit up the bed. On the nearby glass window, she saw that night had already fallen.

"But it seems to me that you are," Max turned his head and stared at the dark portion of the sky as well. "You're like a baby at times, you know. And remember that you can never blame me for worrying. You're my friend, Grace, and you know that."

She chuckled and squeezed his hand. "Well I'm sorry for making you worried..."

It was dark, really dark outside and she now curses herself for insisting that she could very well go home on her own. 'Shit!'

When her mind finally absorbed the very thought that she's alone, her incredible imagination started to reminisce some moments.

'My life was empty until you came...'

'Yours was the most special...'

What did Miles really mean by that?

The blend of his words and her own question echoed in her ear. She couldn't concentrate on walking straight, and she curses him for making her so irritable. 'Bastard...'

And then out of the gloom, Grace spotted two heads walking towards her. In just a few heartbeats, the heads doubled and suddenly there were four of them.

When they reached her, she could almost see the hungry gaze on their faces, but she stood her ground. 'You have done so much in your life, Grace. Falling into the hands of these bastards will never be your kismet!' her still detached mind thought. But even after the strength that she intended to build up in her chest, spikes of nervous needles pinned her whole being.

The tallest and broadest man stepped forward and stared at her with hungry eyes, slightly licking his lower lip. The man was blonde, his hair tied into an intricate ponytail. His jaws were also tight, and she will swear she saw a scar on his cheek.

Grace glared at him with those dragon eyes she's known for. Her hands were clenched to ball of fists, the strength returning to her again.

"My, my... If looks could kill..." The man grunted a deep chuckle.

But the fighting spirit started to crumble in her chest when a sudden dizziness hit her temples. She felt weak, uncomposed and a doze of uncertainty stroked her now panicking mind.

The man moved fast, walking towards her in a quick but sure manner. He immediately grabbed her wrist the second he's beside her.

"Leave her alone!"

Then there came a voice, a manly one, broad with American accents and all. "Leave her alone you dickheads!" he continued. As he walked towards the group, the four men stepped back, not to escape, but to launch themselves against the brave newcomer.

And like the eye of the raging thunder, the brave newcomer punched the man's face, knocking him off the ground, bleeding. "Don't you ever come back if you wanna die."

The four men drifted off, their eyes showing the fire of revenge, of hatred... And defeat. The blue-eyed man watched them as they disappeared in the darkness of the night.

Miles Quaritch turned his head to the poor woman in his right, only to find himself staring at his best bud's sister, the fiery Grace Augustine. Her eyes were closed, fingers rubbing her temples gently.

And then she fell to the ground.

But he moved fast and caught her now unconscious body in his wide arms.

Grace opened her eyes.

It was still dark; the precipitation rate now worth knowing for it feels like The Great Flood is happening again. For many years, the world has been like this; weak and trembling. In exchange for man's satisfaction and industrialization, the world is beginning to crumble under everyone's feet. Garbage was the main source of these floods and the more man made advancements, the more we destroy the environment.

And Grace didn't want that horrible thing to happen - to just let Earth die and run out of its wonderful resources. She'd always wondered in those incredible things she saw when she was young will still exist for her children to see, and that's what keeps her going and made her fight for the future.

'Children... Will I ever have one?'

She was pulled from her thoughts when a sudden click from the door rang in the room. "What the..." The door opened and revealed the face of a handsome blue-eyed man, his face stone-cold and his hands clenched to ball of fists. "What the fuck are you doing here?!" she yelped, her body still lying in her bed. She's afraid to stand for she might feel dizzy again.

"Good morning Sleeping Beauty!" Miles crossed his muscled arms before his chest, grin lighting up his already handsome face. "How's your sleep?"

"What the fuck are you doing here?" she repeated, her voice slipping from a rather mad tone to a soft one. She struggled to stand but the headache began killing her again.

"Naughty, naughty. You need to rest," he muttered as he walked towards her, his eyes showed that impossible look of worry. When he reached her, he placed a hand above her temples, feeling the hotness of her skin which sent electrical shockwaves to his body. "You're hot,"

Grace blushed, raising an eyebrow to hide her embarrassment. "W-What?"

"I said you're hot," he whispered as he sat down beside her in the bed, the mattress gave way to his weight. "High fever, so high."

She remained quiet as he Miles roused to prepare her meds, pouring a green liquid into a glass. Grace raised an eyebrow when he gave the container to her, slightly shaking it up and down. "I hope this helps," he smiled, making her reach out and grab the glass involuntarily.

"What's this?" she asked as she placed the glass under her watchful eyes, then to her nose. "Stinks,"

"It's a Chinese Herbal Medicine," he pulled the chair beside the desk and sat. "My Chinese neighbor asked me to avail some from a nearby drugstore because he, too, has fever. But then I saw you."

"How?" she sipped a little, and found that the liquid tastes as bad as it smelled, or maybe even worse. "Can't remember a thing,"

"Why the sudden change of mood?" Miles asked as he watched her beautiful face turn a bit sour, and he found it so hard to hold back a laugh. When he composed himself, he tried to figure the thing that's been currently running in her mind. 'She's so hard to read…'

Grace's eyes widened because again, he caught her off guard with his question. "J-Just tell me how you – and I got here,"

"There were some gangsters who stalked you last night. Guess it'd rude of me to watch you there while falling in their hands." He crossed his arms, waiting for her reply. He thought he caught her off guard with his question, but it was so easy for her to compose herself.

And that is, what he likes about her.

There was fire in her eyes, greed in her personality, and in between those undeniable characteristics of hers, there is a bit of fascination, and a wildfire beauty.

He had met many women before, had brought them to bed and had left when the sun shone. But Grace is simply different from them. Whenever he's with her, he felt like history is repeating itself. Miles had that feeling that he had met her before, somewhere at the back of his conscious mind, he knows her. 'But when? Where? How? Why?'

"So you saved me… again," she stared at those blue eyes and saw that cloudy composure beneath them. She knows it. His mind is absorbed into something else, but here he was, staring at her like she's a confusing puzzle which is so hard to combine.

When he noticed her sudden silence, Miles blinked and collected himself, shifting his position because of the uneasiness in the way her brown eyes stared at his face. "Yeah… I guess…."

"Thanks, Miles," Grace smiled one of her rarest smiles.

But to her astonishment, Miles chuckled and placed her arms to rest at his nape, eyes showing that of an impossible cheerfulness. "So…. Now that I saved your life for twice a row now, does that mean we're already friends?"

She raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. "You gotta be kidding me." She followed it with a strange laugh that made his smile even wider.

"But can we...?" Miles reached out his hand to her, but Grace just stared at it, trying hard to suppress a laugh because he made a face that looked like Puss 'n Boots in Shrek!

"By the way…" she said, changing the topic. "Why did you –"

"Call?" he suggested, and she nodded. "Well I was bored… I need someone to talk to…"

"You have someone to talk to. I heard her voice in the background," Grace muttered. "Who was she?"

Miles grimaced. "You mean Amanda? She's a friend."

"A friend?" she made her voice as sarcastic as possible. "Wow! She just called you 'Baby' and she's a friend. How's that possible?" an evil yet uncertain smile curled in her lips. "Hmmmm….?"

"Why, are you jealous?" he said simply, and again, he knew he caught her off- guard with his question when he saw her eyes widen with extreme shock. "Tell me, Grace. Are you jealous?"

She glared at him, fiery brown eyes towards his cool blue and the idea popped in her playful mind. This is a game. He is challenging her, to see how she will react in his stupid scheme. But she'll never let that happen. She'll play the game, by her cards, by her rules, but she'll win. "And what if I tell you that I'm jealous? What would you do?" she whispered and faced him, very near as she thought she could be, smelling his manly and fresh scent. "Hmm, Mr. Quaritch…?"

Miles moved fast she barely even noticed that his lips were already on hers, kissing her gently, and fingers lifting her chin. His lips are… incredibly soft. As for a Marine like him she never knew that such part of his body would be as soft as a cotton candy. His breath was warm, fresh as a mint gum, like he just chewed Eucalyptus before pressing his lips against hers.

It was a sinful kiss… so easy to respond… so hard to resist… and… arousing.

He was kissing her gently but soon he got hungrier, wanting for some more, deepening the kiss as he slid his tongue to roam in her mouth.

She couldn't help it. She's falling back from the scheme he set up with him, and dammit, he's winning the stupid game.

It was sooner than later, when her unconscious mind allowed her to wrap her arms around his neck, his kisses getting deeper and deeper as he pushed her to lie on the bed.

They simply let it happen. For a moment they just stayed in that position, him over her, feeling each other's heartbeats the same way as they did when Miles saved her from a near accident.

But then he stopped kissing her delicate lips and smiled at her, then pressed a sweet, tiny kiss on her forehead. "We shouldn't be doing this," he stood up and sighed, his eyes raking over her form. "You want some breakfast? I can prepare you some…"

Grace didn't answer, but she nodded her head and stood up to follow him to the kitchen. She was still absorbed to the fact that she had almost given herself up to him. He won the game. He got her under the command of his loving kisses.

She felt safe in under him. His lips against hers were like a chemical compound that made her want to burst into bubbles.

And yet, on the contrary, it felt good. Didn't it?

She watched as he prepared the ingredients, bread, vegetables, and others. He moved his hands expertly while he did the… sandwich? She doesn't really know. It looks like a sandwich, but not an ordinary one. It was bigger, fuller, and more appetizing to the eye.

When he finished, he put the sandwich in a small plate, and handed it to her, "Bon Appétit!" he smiled at her, the incredible feeling is somewhat engulfing her again.

Grace took a bite, a sizable one. When the inner taste reached her taste buds, she wasn't sure if she was surprised. It was like an alien; very delicious and out of this world! "This is good. What's in it?"

He smiled again and sat beside her, then took a bite as well. "I can't say. That's a secret."

She frowned. "Has your hair color always been black?"

That made him pause. "Why do you ask?"

"You're answering my question with a question."

He chuckled. "Well… No. I was blonde when I was young."

So now he confirmed it. He really is that blonde boy she knew when she was young. "So why'd you die it with black?"

He gave her silence. Grace saw his Adam's apple moving up and down, and she knew what is coming. As she chewed, it seemed like forever to hear his answer.

"Because my hair color reminds me of what I am," he turned to face her. "Or what I was, once."

Grace could see his blue eyes watering, shining like the moon in the dark sky. She could feel his pain. He's hurting. "Sorry if I asked."

Miles grinned. "Don't worry its okay. No one can run from his past anyway. Not even a strong woman. Not even you, Grace."

Thanks for reading! Please review. - EyeCandy16 (3843 words)