Shades of Blue, Shadows of Grey
Chapter One: Moving In
Two weeks later, C.C. found herself fuming, nostrils flaring. Her eyes might've even gone red for all she knew, she didn't care to look in the mirror. All she cared about was not getting arrested for attempted homicide. The black-haired bimbo that had stumbled in late during orientation was her roommate.
Fran Fine was a package deal. Nasal voice, complete with motor-mouth syndrome and annoying mother…
She offered yet another of her million prayers (she had lost count an hour ago) up to the heavens and steeled herself for a day of avoiding the flurry of questions and attempts at small talk that her nosy roommate had flung at her.
"So, where ya from, C.C.?" Fran asked excitedly before plopping yet another box of posters on her bed. Dear God, how many posters can one person have?
C.C. pursed her lips, offering a smile that she was sure looked more like a grimace, but answered in spite of herself. "Connecticut." came her sudden reply. Her voice was clipped, her response curt, but her roommate seemed not to care.
Connecticut? Could I have picked a more boring place? Then, that is the point.
"Oh, ya know, I'm from Flushing, so I've neva been to Connecticut, but I have this cousin, Martha, that once went there on vacation, and she came back with the worst…" Fran's voice faded into the background as C.C. tuned her out. It wasn't as if she had tried to hate Fran, but it was so hard not to. C.C. had tried so hard to be civil, to be nice, even, but that grating voice...
Lord, grant me the serenity…
A highpitched peal of laughter interrupted C.C.'s prayer.
How in the hell had she ended up with the Flushing native that only spoke two languages: annoying and nasal? She was C.C. Babcock, for God's sake, daughter of the richest man in the U.S., drinking buddy of Bill Gates! She reminded herself of her position in life and who she was supposed to be. C.C. Babcock, no-one from nowhere.
Still, perhaps there had been a mistake in the dorm assignments. Setting the box of sheets on her bed, she strode past her roommate, who had gone back to pinning up at least a thousand Barbara Streisand posters and fashion ads that had so obviously been torn out of magazines. The bubbly New Yorker paid no heed to the angry blond that slammed the door on her way out. Of course, she might not have heard her over the irritatingly loud tunes of her newest Streisand album. C.C. had to get out of there.
Practically sprinting out of the building, she walked swiftly to the Student Union building, eager to calm her nerves with a cup of coffee. She may as well have gone to a Metallica concert for some peace and quiet, what with all the chaos. C.C., after some pushing and shoving through the clamoring crowd, finally ordered her coffee and somehow managed not to get it all over her blazer as she pushed her way back out. Outside, she took a deep breath, breathing in the brisk early September air; she relished the chill. Letting a small smile cross her lips, she spoke aloud in a hushed tone.
"Welcome to living, C.C.."
After a quick call to the storage company that she had hired prior to leaving California, C.C. managed to get all of her things moved into a local storage facility. Unfortunately, it had cost quite a sum of her cashed out inheritance money to have the movers cart her things here to New York all the way from California, but it was worth it in the end.
After all, she would soon be on her way to making her own money, the right way- by working hard. Later, after finishing her coffee and miniature tour of the city, she sat in the back of a taxi cab, ignoring the driver who seemed intent upon starting up a conversation with her.
C.C. Babcock was not a woman to be trifled with, that was for certain. So when the New York traffic refused to move, and if it did, it was at a snail's pace, she became immensely frustrated.
It was late in the afternoon when she finally found herself on the curb, hours after retrieving a few simple necessities from her storage unit, paying the cab driver, with half a dozen boxes piled on the sidewalk next to her.
She watched the cab driver pull away, merging into the flood of yellow taxis, disappearing.
Sighing, C.C. realized it would be quite the trek back up the stairs of her dorm building, let alone the half mile across campus that she had to walk with the six boxes before even getting to her dorm building in the first place. Lord only knew she wasn't about to ask any of the strangers here on campus. These boxes contained her life as she now knew it, and she sure as hell wasn't about to let complete strangers help her carry them. The first box grew heavy in her arms and she instinctively tightened her grip. Well, all those hours she spent at the private gym in her father's building at his insistence would pay off.
At least she hoped so.
The bright sunlight of the day had already begun to fade to dusk, and the campus trees were alight with the glow of the last green leaves of summer. Disappointed that she probably wouldn't make it back to her dorm in time to enjoy a New York sunset on her fire escape, she began, one by one, hauling the boxes towards her dormitory. By the time she had finally got the last box to the entrance to the student apartments, she was red with exertion, hair was sticking to the nape of her neck, the sun had long since set, and she had refused her too-bubbly-too-bright roommate's help several times. So it was no surprise that her day could only possibly get worse.
An hour later, as she lugged the last box towards the landing of the stairs, C.C. felt herself collide with something else. The box flew out of her hands, and her belongings scattered about the linoleum floor. The many CDs and DVD's she owned were strewn across the floor. She bent to pick them up, her mood less than thrilled. Tossing the films into her box, she didn't bother to look at the poor young man who was muttering apologies and fumbled to help her gather her CDs, setting them in the box, before gathering the box in her arms and setting off up the stairs. She shot a few parting words of wisdom before she continued up the flight of rickety stairs.
"Watch where you're going, BigFoot!", C.C. snapped. She was sorry almost as soon as she had said it. Of course she had heard his apology, yet she couldn't bring herself to care. The exhaustion was setting in and she wanted to go to bed.
A shout followed her up the stairs.
"Get off your broom, Witch, maybe you'll go slower!" That voice, it was familiar. C.C. paused and cast a glance backwards down the stairs.
Blue eyes. Niles.
Instead of apologizing as she should've, she just offered the young English man an ugly sneer and continued up the stairs. If she had stopped for a mere second, she might've seen the hurt in Niles' eyes and heard his profuse apology. Instead, she had disappeared before the five-letter word passed his lips.
Niles remained at the bottom of the stairs, his own box clutched safely in his arms, as he watched the so called 'witch' sashay up the stairs.
Shit. Why didn't I keep my mouth shut? I didn't even think.
She certainly was no witch, that was for sure. Surely witches would be less wretched and terrifying if they looked like C.C. Babcock. C.C. Babcock was certainly a beautiful woman, no doubt. With grey eyes that were as sharp as an eagle, she could make you feel like a complete lunatic or the single most valuable person in the world. Coupled with her pronounced cheekbones, even the face that had launched a thousand ships held no comparison. Though he couldn't bring himself to forget the biting remark she had made, nor the look she had given him, as if he were a lower being compared to her.
Whatever, she's not even that pretty.
Quirking an eyebrow, Niles stooped to pick up an item that had caught his eye, just stuck up the radiator heater. A disc. It must've fallen out of its case.
Tchaikovsky, hmm. She has taste.
Pocketing the disc, he turned to the doors, wondering where the recycling bin was.
A loud knocking broke through the most pleasant of dreams. C.C. flipped over, stuffing the pillow over her head. "Just a minute." she mumbled, hoping the visitor could hear her through the door. The knocking stopped. Bleary-eyed and barely awake, C.C. stumbled out of bed on shaky legs. Whatever time it was, it was too early to be up and at 'em. Whoever was at the door must've been determined to make her life a living hell. She'd barely gotten any sleep last night, due to resisting the urge to kill her roommate via holding her giant, stupid fuzzy pink pillow over her face, and when she finally managed to drift off into a deep slumber, she had dreamt of a blue-eyed man with a heart-stopping smile and a knack for knocking her over.
What the hell, Babcock, pull yourself together. He's an ass.
Finally able to peel her eyes open long enough to see that her roommate had left and to grab her robe, she pulled it on, tying it securely around her waist. She didn't bother to look in the mirror by the door before wrenching it open.
"What?!" she snapped, before clearing her throat, startled by her visitor, "Oh… Erm, Mr. Davies… I mean, Niles."
"My, my, aren't we crabby in the morning? You look great by the way; the pink fluffy robe look really suits you. You can call me Niles."
Apparently, the blue-eyed devil also had a knack for being extremely blunt. C.C. let a smile touch her lips before his words registered.
"Huh?" C.C. rubbed her eyes and looked down, adding an "Oh, shit," before shutting the door and opening it again a few seconds later, this time clad in a plain white bathrobe. Niles would never admit it, but he almost regretted pointing out the fact that the robe she had worn was clearly not hers; after all, he never lied to women; she had looked great.
"Sorry. Let's try that again," she spoke, her voice scratchy with the last clinging tendrils of sleep, "Good morning, can I help you?" The blonde stepped out into the hallway, pulling her room door shut.
"No, actually. It's more of a matter on how I can help you. I wanted to apologize for last night. I didn't see you there. I should've—" Niles spoke with genuine firmness. C.C. interrupted, setting her hand lightly on his arm.
"No need, Niles, really. I didn't see you, and when I did, I acted very rudely. I was exhausted, it had been a long day… So, I'm the one that should be sorry." Offering Niles a kind smile, she extended a hand, as if mimicking the introduction they'd had two weeks earlier.
"Truce?" Niles took her hand in his, and shook it firmly, wondering idly what lotion she used. Her hands were so soft.
He wondered what it would be like to lift that had to his lips- if it was really as soft as he thought... Banishing the ludicrious idea, Niles focused on her face. Angelic, almost... But he had never seen an angel, so he imagined that this was what they looked like. He could die right now and be perfectly content. Of course, he wouldn't. But if he kept holding his breath, he might. He exhaled, slowly, reminding himself to breathe.
Blue eyes locked with grey, and there they stood, neither moving, each lost in thought.
Niles was the first to break eye contact, flustered at his distraction. A slight blush crept up his cheeks, and with his previously unoccupied hand pushed a cup of coffee that he had been holding towards her.
"I think this qualifies as an olive branch of sorts, doesn't it?" Niles smiled. C.C. lowered her gaze, agreeing with a nod as she sipped from the to-go cup.
"How did you find my room anyway, Niles?
C.C. noted his casual outfit. Clad in dark blue jeans and a polo shirt, she could see why she had initially found him so attractive. The sea-blue t-shirt did nothing to hide his excellent form; broad-chested and well muscled, Niles was certainly a handsome man— only slightly taller than her barefooted self, she imagined she would be as tall, if a bit taller than him in heels.
"Mmm," she said after a few more sips of coffee (though, looking back on it, she wasn't sure if the hum of satisfaction was solely due to her coffee), "this is really good. Where did you get it? Don't tell me the cafeteria makes this stuff, because I tried that slop last night— not the best thing in the world." C.C. grimaced and chuckled into the cup as she took another sip.
Niles smiled, pleased she liked the coffee. "There's a little cart down the street that serves coffee. I discovered it quite by circumstance one day. So, am I forgiven for my clumsiness last night?" Niles' electric eyes pierced hers, searching for an answer, desperate for her approval.
C.C. chuckled, glancing at him, "Anyone who can feed my caffeine addiction can be forgiven." A slight smile graced her lips as his own lips quirked in a tilted smirk. After a few moments of silence, Niles spoke again.
"Well, I'd best be off. It's the last day to move things in, and I still have most of my things to get. Maxwell and I have spent the better part of the week moving in his items. I've got a lot of unpacking to do. Have a good day, Miss Babcock." Niles turned on his heel, and in a moment, he was gone, leaving C.C. standing in the hall, cradling her cup of coffee, a smile on her face.
A/N: So, what did you all think? Please, don't be shy about leaving your thoughts in the little box there. I do have anon reviews enabled, so you know!