stringy lights and annoying neighbors
december 2013 one-shot challenge

She stands outside her house in great frustration: putting up the Christmas lights was near impossible to do herself, and with the sky gradually growing darker, she needed to finish it quickly. But every time she'd line part of the roof with it, it would either fail in general or simply fall down because she had not done it well enough. That and she also needed an extension cord to attach to the end of the lights so it would be able to plug into a wall—to no one's surprise, she didn't have one.

It was a new house and it was the first Christmas she'd spend there. Her home was placed in the middle of a quaint neighborhood, and all the houses, including hers, were rather small and homely. One downside to her neighborhood, however, was that it was mainly a community for elderly people, and the only person who might possibly be able to help her was an infuriating boy who only tinkered around with his toys night and day.

His house was directly across the street from hers, and it was the only home around her area—or maybe even her street—that had a resident under the age of sixty. He was probably her age and he could probably easily set up her decorative lights, but she refused to ask him for assistance.

After all, he was only an imbecile—and a reckless one, at that. She had often seen him exit his home, his face and clothes slightly charred or the tips of his curly hair singed. He was undoubtedly careless, and self-absorbed, and most likely even a womanizer. There was nothing more she hated than men who used women only to leave them.

With a sigh, she climbs up the ladder as a reattempt to hang up the lights. Usually, when she put her mind to something, she would always get it done, but this task, as simplistic as it seems, felt near impossible for her.

Although her back is to the street, she can hear the low rumble of a pickup truck pulling up into the house across from her, and her eyes automatically flit upwards behind her closed eyelids as a small groan escapes her lips. He's home.

She focuses her attention at the task before her, and waits for the familiar sound of his garage shutting closed as he locks himself in his house.

But it doesn't come. Why didn't it sound?

"What are you doing over there, Ogygia?"

Her head turns to the direction of the house opposite from hers, and to her complete surprise, there stands Leo Valdez, shirtless and next to his trashcan, a black-stained towel slung over his shoulder. Her eyes travel down to his muscled abdomen, and before she knows it, she's tripped off the ladder—she had stupidly been standing on the top part where it literally says 'Do not stand here'—and fallen to the ground on her hands and knees.

She winces as she lands. The skin on her hands and knees were definitely skinned, and her elbows felt as if they were jammed into her humerus, but a little pain she could handle. What she can't handle, however, is her frustratingly shirtless neighbor who happened to rush over to her side of the street as she fell. She didn't need him to help her!

"Are you okay?" He asks this cautiously, as if he expected her to shoot poisonous venom at him through her teeth. She turns to sit on the cement ground of the driveway, cringing as she supports herself with her arms. He moves the ladder and the fallen lights away from her, and crouches down beside where she is sitting.

Glaring at him through her eyelashes, she mutters out, "Of course I'm okay. It was just a little trip." She shakes her head, her long, straight, golden brown hair falling in front of her face. Gesturing with one arm, she says, "Now if you could go that way please, that would be nice."

He lets out an exasperated sigh and shifts to settle in the same position as her. "What, is there some magical boundary line that I cannot cross in the middle of the street?"

She shrugs stiffly, wanting to get up and away from him, but finding that she somehow can't. "Exactly. You're on my side, so please leave." She stares at her denim—or lack of denim—clad knees that had been torn through upon impact.

The intensity from his gaze seems to act as superglue, and she's stuck to her spot on the driveway. "And to think we're about the same age." He sighs, and looking at him through the corner of her eye, she can see him shake his head.

"That's precisely what I was thinking. How can a little tinker-boy like you be the same age as a mature woman like me?" Her comment comes out less harsh than she had intended, and from the —somewhat attractive—twinkle in his eyes, she fears he took it as a joke or a light jab.

"I might as well be an elf, huh? Already have those pointy ears and everything." He wiggles his eyebrows at her, holding both of his indeed pointy ears, and she fights to set back a fit of giggles. "But as a matter of fact, Calypso, I don't tinker. I fix things. I invent."

The words come tumbling out of her mouth before she can stop them. Maybe it was because of the way he had said her name. "What kind of things?" She fixes her gaze on his face—not his torso, mind you—intently, and she finds herself… genuinely curious?

He suddenly looks embarrassed, and the tips of his ears heat up in a way that makes it so aesthetically pleasing. "Just… things…"

"If you don't tell me, I'm just going to assume you're a crazy old inventor like Belle's father in Beauty and the Beast." She gently prods more, her tone taking on a teasing one. "'Crazy ol' Leo. He's always good for a laugh.'"

But her playfulness is surprisingly met with a more somber tone. "That's probably better than what you originally think of me."

Her next words close up in her throat as the silence takes over, and she unexpectedly starts to feel guilty. His words were undoubtedly true… not like she'd admit that out loud, ever… but still. Ever since she had moved into the neighborhood, two months ago, she had always had this indescribable hatred towards her across-the-street-neighbor.

The funny thing was, now, as she stares at him, she couldn't remember why.

"How's your arms? Knees?" He dutifully and swiftly changes the subject, instead asking with sincere concern about the statement of her limbs.

She flexes her appendages slowly, biting back the wince. "It's a bit tender, but it'll be better in no time." Her eyes cannot leave him; all her attention is solely on him and his perfect face and his perfect body.

He nods, giving her a half-smile. "Well, not nearly quick enough if you want to get those lights up." He stands up—her eyes fly to his abdomen—and he dusts his hands off on the sides of his worn jeans. "Want me to give you a hand?"

The urge to snap out "No!" rises, but she has no trouble squelching it down within her. Instead, she gives him a smile—or at least she hoped it was a smile of sorts—and nods her head gratefully. She watches as he works in a timely manner, setting up the ladder and hooking the stringy Christmas lights in an orderly fashion alongside the outer-rim of her home. (He even ran back to his garage to grab an extension cord she could borrow.)

And in less than twenty minutes, (with barely any natural light out) the entire front side of her relatively small home is lined with bright, fluorescently multi-colored Christmas lights. By this time, she feels comfortable enough to stand up, and they both walk to the street to view her house from a distance.

"I have to say, I think I did an awfully good job," he says, grinning. She stands near him, gazing at her festive—or at least more festive—home with admiration.

"I think I agree." He turns to look at her, the twinkle in his eye, and he nudges her slightly, causing her to laugh out, "Okay, I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you."

He nods to himself, shoving his hands in the pockets on the backside of his jeans. "Anytime." Their eyes are still connected, and it is in that moment that Calypso realizes A) her neighbor wasn't so bad after all, B) he seemed nothing like a womanizer, and C) she actually enjoyed his company.

She bites her lip anxiously, wondering why she had ever not liked him, whether it was completely platonic… or even romantically.

It was a mystery she might never be able to solve, but nevertheless, there was always a way to fix it.

She takes a deep breath; her eyes are still trained on him, and she asks, "Would you like to come in for some coffee?"


december 2013 oneshot challenge: forum: Monsters in the Closet

This is my first time writing either of them I am afraid I have not mastered their characters (not like I have for anyone) but yeah I apologize ^-^