Planning on Patience

a.k.a, In Which I Fuck With Emmett's Mind a Little.

All of this time I'd planned I'd be patient and
You would love me again
You'd come to respect my mind, and at last you'd find
You could love me again.
And I have turned my whole world upside down, trying not to let you go...
Watching you walk away is like a fatal blow.

.:x:.

The blissful memory of nothingness faded as Emmett Forrest awoke from his nap to the loud, ringing cell phone.

He answered—and regretted the action very, very much.

"EMMETT FORREST WHERE ARE YOU HURRY UP," was the string of words that blared out at decibels that might have permanently damaged his hearing. It had originally sounded something like Shryiiwook, as if it were uttered straight from Chewbacca's mouth. But Emmett understood soon enough, and subsequently took a moment to take pride in his eventual comprehension of the English language, before responding to the other end of the line.

Who was he speaking to, again?

"Elle?" he asked, and winced. His voice sounded throaty and dry—telltale signs that he had slept for longer than he meant to. He should have been up working long before…but his body really didn't feel like getting up at the moment.

He sent a disdainful glare towards the closest bedside table—the one that had his water cup—and kind of…rocked and wriggled sideways towards it, making feeble attempts to reach for his water.

"Elle?" he asked again. He lifted himself to a sitting position and grabbed the handle of the cup.

There was a pause on the other end.

"Emmett? This is Emmett Forrest, right?"

He had fully regained his senses by that point, but could only wait patiently for his voice to stop croaking.

"Yes, Elle, it's me."

"Oh," she said, and there was a very short beat of silence to accommodate an intake of breath. Not unusual, per se, but even the smallest of pauses from Miss Woods (comma Elle) tended to throw him off.

"Sorry," Elle's voice came through the phone, sounding simultaneously far and near. "It's just that you sounded…different."

"I just woke up."

"Did I wake you?" was her question, but she didn't wait for a response. "Good!"

Not knowing what to say, Emmett grunted, "Ngh."

"Where are you?"

Emmett glanced at the clock. Six in the evening.

"Was I supposed to do something with you?" His voice had returned to normal.

"Ugh," Elle gave a little grunt of her own, and Emmett could picture her throwing a hand up in frustration. He smirked.

"Emmett," she said, and the whine echoed through the phone, "You have to celebrate with meee…"

"Uh…" Huh?

The voice on the other end let out another frustrated groan again.

"Calahan posted his internship finalists today, remember? And for some crazy reason, I was one of them—remember that?"

Uh-huh. Although he swore it was yesterday. He thought so. Anyway.

"So," Elle spoke slowly, as if trying to explain this logic to a small child, "we need to celebrate."

"When did we plan this?" He really didn't remember this part. "When did you invite me?"

"What plans?" Elle asked dismissively. "It's called 'common courtesy', Mr. Forrest. I don't need to invite you. You need to come anyway."

Emmett had to chuckle at that. "I suppose I do."

"You bet. And don't bother bringing anything but your charming self, mister. I've been waiting for you for over an hour!"

.:x:.

He had brought flowers anyway—pink ones. He really had meant to bring a bottle of champagne or something like that, but he had forgotten how strapped for cash he was until he checked his wallet, and Elle had started calling him an hour later because he was "taking too long…"

Anyway. Emmett hoped she liked the flowers.

But, as it turned out, he needn't have worried, really.

As soon as he knocked, a (dare he say it), hyper Elle greeted him immediately, and Emmett could immediately tell she had a little bit to drink from her rosy cheeks.

"Finally!" she said, grinning at him and ushering him inside.

Elle closed the door and turned to him, smiling. She beamed at him for a while longer before saying, "I keep trying to be polite and look at you but I think those flowers are for me. I want them."

Emmett chuckled and presented them to her with a grandiose gesture, which earned him a giggle from Elle and a nudge towards the small dining table, which looked even tinier given the mass of food placed on it: from chips to cookies to cheese to—were those pizza bagels? Dude.

Emmett placed a little bit of everything on his plate and went over to the couch to munch.

"By the way, I'm ordering mediocre Chinese for dinner, 'kay?" came Elle's voice from the kitchen.

Emmett paused, staring at his plate for a second. "Kay."

He bit into a pizza bagel. Ugh. Fantastic.

After he finished it, he called out, "Where are the others?"

He heard Elle rustle in the kitchen a bit, before she emerged with the flowers in a light blue vase. She placed it by the endtable near the couch and joined him, handing him a glass of wine.

"There's no one else!" she chirped, picking up the remote and resuming whatever was on screen.

Emmett blinked.

"Paulette needs to spend time with Rufus more than me right now. And I thought about inviting the other interns, too," she said sheepishly, "but I realized I'd much rather celebrate alone by relaxing and being lazy."

Emmett picked up on the word, "alone." He said, "But you invited me…"

Elle glanced at him and leaned into the couch with a satisfied smile. "You need to relax more than I do, mister; and being alone isn't fun without you."

Emmett was not actually sure if she was being witty or not; but, nevertheless, he couldn't help but grin like an idiot, thus ruining his attempt to raise his brow at the last comment.

"Besides, I couldn't watch this with everyone else, you know," she added, gesturing sloppily toward the TV screen.

It took him a moment. "Elle, are you…are you making me watch Clueless?"

Elle responded rather uniquely—grabbing a couch cushion, she buried her face in it, and let out a joyous squeal, rather like a gleeful child on her birthday.

She peeked from behind said cushion, and said, in a muffled voice, "Ish my faybrit moobie eber."

Clearly.

And that was how it all began.

.:x:.

The hours passed as the two of them chatted about everything and nothing. In between snacks, Elle told him about her years at UCLA; and in between a bowl of surprisingly non-mediocre, mediocre Orange Chicken, he recounted his life growing up in the slums; and over many glasses of wine and beer, they gossiped over who was hooking up with who, and what classes Elle would be well-advised to take in the future (though Elle would never remember receiving the advice, nor Emmett in giving it).

And then, they fell in hysterics over some absolutely ridiculous remark Elle could not remember saying a moment later; and, in the resulting lull where they found themselves gasping simultaneously for breath and some small shred of sanity, Emmett was suddenly pulled back into sobriety as Elle mumbled,

"Warner proposed to Vivian today." She said it just as nonchalantly as one would say, "I had a PB&J today".

She was looking at some invisible spot on the floor, her mind elsewhere. It took a few seconds before Elle realized he was looking at her sharply.

Elle smiled at him—a sad, drunken smile, that wasn't meant for him, and yet, wasn't meant for anyone but him.

"Elle—"

He stopped, not knowing what to say. What does one say?

"I'm okay with it, y'know," Elle said, not waiting for a response. She gave a little shrug. "I'm jus' sayin'—he proposed. And she said yes. And I'm fine."

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath through her nose, and leaned back into the couch.

"I've never felt I could be something more than what I was, until today. And seeing my name—it was the most amazing thing ever."

She laughed and glanced sleepily at Emmett. "I could get addicted to that feeling, y'know."

Emmett tried to smile back, but the uneasy feeling in his gut made him tense all over. Elle was perfectly content with how things had played out; he did not doubt that. It was just…

"But it's just…"—and that sudden telepathy is like a painless punch to his gut—"I just never thought I could be anything other than 'his girl', you know. Whoever 'he' might be, really—but Warner was just always 'that guy'. For…a really, really long time…"

Emmett looked at Elle, taking her image, wanting to remember how she looked at that moment, an inhibition that his drunken state refused to forget. Sad, wistful. Once again, in the place she went to every time Warner walked through the door.

"It's a lot to take in all in one day. You just need time," Emmett reassured her—and this time, the punch to his gut really did hurt because it was absolute bull; because Warner slipped up and (still) called her "Pooh-Bear"; because the Perfect Couple was exactly that; because for each douchebag boyfriend that left her with even more bills and even less money to pay, his mom cried for many nights at the kitchen table when she thought young Emmett was sleeping—because she thought 'he' could be 'that guy' time and time again.

The thoughts danced in Emmett's head among thousands of other things; so it startled him when he felt Elle's temple knock his shoulder.

"Elle?" he asked, shrugging slightly.

She only murmured incoherently.

And that was how Emmett wound up sitting there, with Elle sleeping on his shoulder. He sat in silence for a few minutes, before eventually realizing that she wasn't about to wake anytime soon.

"Poor kid," he said. The day's events had worn her out, and it just seemed best to let her rest. He laid her down gently and went to fetch her pillow and blanket from her bedroom, where Bruiser had retired for the night as well.

After propping the pillow under her head and tucking her in, Emmett surveyed his handiwork. In sleep, Elle looked peaceful. A section of hair had fallen across her face, and Emmett pushed it back into place. Soft. All those hair products she had must've worked for her.

She must've been really lonely.

And suddenly, Emmett found himself mere centimeters away from her face, and, to be more specific, her lips. He caught himself, frozen—somehow he had closed his eyes—and when he looked down, Elle was still asleep just as she had been a mere second ago, her mouth parted slightly open, her breath turning into a light snore.

He flinched and jerked away, as if burned, and swore a bit more loudly than he intended to—not that he intended to curse at all. A blankness of mind persisted even afterwards for many moments, and when that too finally subsided, Emmett Forrest was left with a rather intense feeling of self-disgust. And anger—yeah, that tended to coincide as well. At Warner. At stupid hormones. At Elle.

He couldn't stay there anymore. He had meant to, but…Grabbing Elle's keys, he removed the one for her apartment from the keychain and hastily scribbled a note. Emmett then let himself out, locked the door, slid the key underneath, and headed home, tired. Today was clearly not his day.

And if he had thought that whatever he had felt then was just due to his boozy high, he was mistaken, because for reasons that he could not and did not want to explain, he avoided Elle for days.

And nearly a week after, he picked up her call for the first time since to hear her demand (after an initial, hesitant pause), "Are you mad at me for something?"

To which he responded, "Of course not. Why would I be? I've just been busy. Wanna meet for lunch?"

And that was when Emmett Forrest realized: he liked Elle a lot more than he realized.

Which was a problem. A fixable problem—it wasn't as if hi crush could be anything serious—but nevertheless, a problem. He just had to be patient and wait until it all went away. Or until Warner and Elle got back together and started planning the wedding.

"So um," Elle was saying, "I thought I ordered three twelve-packs of Red Bull, but I ended up buying three cases of twenty-four. Want a case?"

It was the most horrible lie he had ever heard. Seriously, this girl.

"Emmett?"

"Yeah, sure, why not? If you bought too much." His voice had the proper amount of casual indifference even as his stomach did a backflip.

He was fine, too.

He just had to be really, really, really patient.

fin

Dedicated to intensewhatever, RedVine, and MsDelightfullyInsane-who reviewed. I normally don't beg like this, but I'd appreciate if everyone who read and liked this fix just let me know that, at least. Here, just copy and paste this:

I read this story and liked it and am too lazy to write anything else.

I know +favorites technically means even more than this, but just reading a note like this means a lot more to me. Please?