So basically, when I'm not getting my butt handed to me by summer courses (databases are evil, soulless things constructed to torture me, of this I am sure), I've been writing fic for seren_ccd 's fake!TV show to end all fake!TV shows, The Aching City. Or as I like to think of it, Jackson and Lisa from Red Eye finally hook up, guilt-free. At any rate, this is the first chunk, before the ANGST starts. And there is so, so much ANGST. In conclusion: seren, you rock. Have some shoddily put-together fic!
and if on some night, a stranger
for seren_ccd , based on her original creation, with permission
for seren_ccd , based on her original creation, with permission
The pub is thrumming tonight, a baseball game blaring from two television sets in opposite corners. People cluster around tables, edging in and out of chairs with drinks in hand. The teams are well matched, as far as Kyle can tell. He was never a baseball guy, preferring soccer even before the move to Ireland, where he promptly had the term “footie” beaten into him. A fuzzy figure in a red jersey connects with the ball, and half the on-lookers cheer while the others groan. Kyle grins, the energy infectious, and scans the mostly deserted bar. He catches the gaze of a woman sitting alone, a pretty brunette, and she smiles back. Kyle’s grin grows wider. She’s smiling into her pint now, shaking her head slightly, amused, at herself or him, Kyle can’t tell, and without noticing, Kyle has taken two steps towards her. When she looks up again, he raises his eyebrows at the empty stool by her side. She leans against the bar, bites the corner of her lip, and the hairs at the back of Kyle’s neck prickle. Calm down, he thinks as she considers, it’s just a girl in a pub. Finally she shrugs, pulls the stool out, faux-exasperated and waits. Kyle damn nears trips himself on the way over and that makes her laugh, quickly covered into a cough. Dark hair and dimples and blue eyes all swirl in Kyle’s head as he sits, and whatever he tells himself, this is not just a girl.
He’s handsome, Meghan decides, in a severe way. All jaw and cheekbones and Jesus, those eyes. He calls Tom, the bartender, and asks for a double whisky. Meghan bites the inside of her cheek. Of course, he has an Irish accent. Of course. He looks over at her and they both chuckle at the obviousness of what’s happening. “Guy walks into a bar,” Meghan says without thinking.
“Sorry?” he says.
Before Meghan can cringe, the Sox score again, and the noise is deafening momentarily. She spins around and gestures at the TV. “Are you a sports fan?” she asks. He turns as well and they both lounge back against the bar, easy and relaxed.
He nods. “Me? Oh sure, big supporter.” Meghan fights a smile. She’s been doing her job long enough to spot a flat-out lie when she hears one. The man clear his throat and squints at the game, nodding judiciously. Meghan flicks a glance at the screen. Absolutely nothing of interest in happening.
She lets her head tip to one side. “So who’s winning?” Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth with her tone. The man’s wide eyes get wider and Meghan thinks, gotcha.
“Well, uh, it’s--” He gestures vaguely with his glass, a wry twist to his mouth, which was lovely and probably soft and that’s quite enough of that, Meghan. “The...lads in blue?” Meghan bats her eyes, finally losing the battle to keep the smile away. He chuckles and sips his drink. “I’m--I have no idea. Not a baseball fan, me.”
Meghan gasps. “Really?” He laughs again, head tipped back. Meghan can see a spot on his jaw he missed while shaving. Her stomach tightens quickly, thinking about the texture, how different it would feel next to smooth skin, and this is miles better than drinking alone after a hellish double shift. He slides a hand over to her. “Kyle,” he says. She takes it.
“Meghan,” she replies. His hand is warm and slightly chapped. Her fingers twitch across his wrist. He doesn’t let go and then she doesn’t let go, and now, shit, she’s holding a strange man’s hand in her regular bar. Behind her, Tom rattles a tray of empties, and Meghan doesn’t have to turn around to see his heavy white eyebrows raised ceiling-high. Meghan releases her gripe. Kyle pulls away, obviously reluctant, and this should be awkward, why isn’t this awkward? “So,” she says, smoothing her tingling hand down her thigh. “What brings you do the city?”
“Am I that obvious?”
“Lucky guess, actually.”
He sighs, swirling the whisky. “Family business.”
Meghan winces. “Sorry, I didn’t mean--” He waves her off. She fishes for another topic. “I was going to offer some suggestions for sight-seeing, but I guess that’s out.” She sounds like a moron. It’s either been far too long or he’s far too handsome, one of the two.
“That sounds good, to be honest.” Kyle absently checks the game, the focuses entirely on Meghan. “I haven’t been a tourist here since I was small.” His eyes, Meghan thinks, are actually, literally too blue. It is swiftly becoming an issue. “What can you recommend?” His gaze drops to her mouth, and Meghan has two options from here.
She can be polite, tell him about her favourite lunch spot, the Mexican cantina four blocks away, flirt a little, say goodnight, and spend the next two days sleeping off the nightmarish week she’s just lived through. Or-- Kyle catches himself staring and swallows hard.
Or Meghan can do something really, really stupid.
Kyle leans back. “I’m-- sorry, I don’t really--”
Meghan grabs his hand. Thank God her sister got all the brains. “It’s fine. I--” She laughs a little, at herself. “I bet I can think of something fun to do.” Kyle’s hand jerks in hers, and when she checks, those big pretty eyes are blown out, and Meghan can’t believe she’s doing this.
Kyle turns their hands over, pulling his thumb across her knuckles again and again. “Is that so?” he asks, softly, testing. Meghan presses down a giggle. Kyle looks up at her, grinning like they share a secret, like they’re partners in crime. Meghan shivers at the thought and breathes out. She wonders how many laws they can break together alone in a room. Kyle stands, tosses too much money for their drinks on the bar, and offers her his hand. Meghan takes it. She’s eager to find out.
The cab ride back to Meghan’s flat is quiet and charged. At some point, Kyle looped an arm around her shoulders and can’t seem to move it. He’s been twining pieces of her hair around his fingers just to watch her face go soft, see her eyes flutter shut. He wants very badly for her to rest her head in the crook of his neck, although he can’t think why. This isn’t the first time he’s left a bar with a stranger, truth to tell, and Meghan’s too comfortable to be new at this. Yet he guarantees the cab drivers thinks they’re a normal couple. they look like a couple in the rearview mirror. Hell, they feel like a couple, which makes Kyle feel odd, off-kilter. He tries to shake it off, presses a kiss to her temple, behind her ear. Meghan slides a hand along his leg, and lust flares in him, hot and familiar. Kyle relaxes.
“Not much further,” she whispers, squeezing his knee. Kyle kisses her neck again, safe. Then she drops her head onto his shoulder and something clicks into place inside Kyle’s chest. He looks down at her, shocked. Her eyes are closed. If not for the pressure of her hand, she might be asleep. The want in him twists like an elevator falling, like a plane taking off. He vaguely considers whether panic is an appropriate reaction when the cab stops.
While Meghan pays, Kyle sucks in deep lungfuls of night air. Christ, Baden, he thinks, get your head in the game. The cab pulls away and Meghan leads him up a dizzying staircase. Kyle keeps touching her waist, her back, her hip, anything to keep him from blurting out something ridiculous like have we done this before or can we do this again tomorrow? and the day after? He’s known her for an hour and they haven’t even kissed.
His willpower gives out at Meghan’s door. He crowds in close while she fishes for her keyes. He puts his nose in her hair and breathes, thinking maybe this will stop the buzz under his skin. Meghan rocks back into him and drops her purse. Kyle realizes he’s in very real danger of ripping at her clothes in the hallway, so he drops to his knees for the purse. He holds it up to her. Meghan looks down at him, her mouth slack, bitten-red. “Keys, love,” he says and Meghan flushes. He fists his hands until they’re safely inside.
They stand in the dark together, perfectly still, until Kyle cannot stand another second of separation and pulls her to him.
This doesn’t feel like a first kiss, Meghan thinks. This doesn’t feel like any kind of kiss. This feels like a problem. This feels dangerous. This is the stress-relief bar hook-up Meghan expected. Kyle has his hands on her face, cradling her jaw, and he’s kissing her like he’s missed her, like he hasn’t seen her in ages. He’s kissing her like she’s just come home. He pulls back to breathe and even that’s too far away. Things get a little desperate after that.
They tug off coats, shirts, shoes. The buckle on Kyle’s belt sticks, horrible things, belts who even wears these things any more, and Meghan doesn’t realize she’s saying it all out loud until Kyle laughs. They tumble into her unmade bed, giggling at themselves. Then Kyle slips one hand down her stomach, and they stop giggling.
They cling to each other, nails over skin, teeth into muscle, certain there’s something else, some other way in because they can’t, Meghan thinks, they can’t get close enough. Kyle pants out her name like it’s the only word he knows and Meghan’s so close, so close, but she can’t let go, not yet, not when all she knows about Kyle is he’s a terrible liar, but he gasps into her mouth, “Love, come on, please just--there, I’ve got you, I’ve got--” and Meghan loses everything in one perfect crash.
Kyle sleep on his stomach, his mouth half open. His hair is in his face and when he wakes up, it will probably be winged up on one side. Meghan can’t wait. She curls in around him in the half-light filtering in from the street. Outside, sirens wail, and Meghan tenses briefly. But Kyle rolls over and tucks her into his chest, and the sirens fade, and Meghan feels sleep tugging at her. As she drifts off, she thinks she hears Kyle whisper something that sounds like finally, but she’s asleep before she can wonder what he means.