“Seriously? Astrix!” My arms block my face just in time for the cuffs of my studded jacket, wielded by Astrix, to come down. The rounded metal spikes, though not sharp bite into my arms making me hiss in pain.
“I said fix it,” she snaps back, continuing to strike.
“You want me to ‘fix’ the rain?” I balk, ducking as another swipe comes down.
“Well, you fucking brought it down, idiot,” she sneers, “use your voodoo to call it off!”
The charcoal denim of my jacket is beginning to darken from soaking up rain, which means Astrix doesn’t have much time before she’s going to have zero benefit from wearing my jacket.
However, she seems content enough just to stand out here hitting me with the limp sleeves of my jacket. I doubt, since i can’t actually stop the rain from coming down harder the longer it goes, that she’ll be happy with anything I could accomplish.
So, I walk off. Why stand in the middle of an uncovered roof just to get hit over a coincidence, when I can reap the benefits of the obvious solution and sit at the top of the stairs until it’s safe? It’s a win/win for me.
“What? Where are you--hey!” Astrix cries as I open the door to the stairs back up and use an old rock who was likely up here from when employees took breaks, to hold the door open.
I don’t answer her, i simply drop my bag next to the wall at the top of the stairs and slide down in the space next to it. I’m not even a big guy and its a tight space for me, no way for her to fit, which, if she’s going to be difficult...fine by me.
My eyes shut, exhausted from the night, and the drama from earlier. I’m not exactly excited to be stuck till whatever time the cops decide to leave. Not with the man I harmed downstairs either injured or dead.
It could be just as bad if the guys alive. What if he wasn’t totally high and remembers me...that involves questioning. That’s a legal reason for them to try to get my identity.
I begin to shake as the anxiety of what i may have started kicks in again. I bounce my right leg to try and work some of the energy off, but it doesn’t seem to help me--at least not by the time Astrix walks up to stand in the doorway.
There’s no point in looking at her--I’ll just get a face full of jacket-sleeve. I just ‘hm’ in response and pray that’s enough.
“You alright?” Astrix persists, her voice softer than it was in her previous question.
With a slight shrug of my shoulders, I sigh shakily. The adrenaline from our escape is mostly gone...and I’m exhausted. I just want to be back at home and sliding into bed after a scalding hot shower.
Is that too much to ask?
But no. I’m trying not to cry in the stairwell of an abandoned warehouse after the girl who caught my attention, but is still in damn high school, just beat me up with my own jacket.
Sometimes my luck is just shitty. No ‘if’s, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’.
Actually, about to break down, i toss my head back against the wall hard enough to get my attention on the pain now radiating from the back of my skull, instead of what was going on deeper inside my head.
“Hey--” Asterix’s alarm is surprising considering she was just beating the shit out of me. “Don’t do that.”
“Why not? I’m fucked--even if I do get off this roof without being noticed. I might have killed that guy--there’s no way this isn’t coming back to me.” I mutter.
I’m staring at the comforting dark of the inside of my eyelids, letting the pain radiate through me when Asterix’s shoes squeak on the concrete landing.
I’m convinced she’s leaving me to stew over my uncertain future when there’s a sliding of loose rocks on the ground next to me, and then the weight of Astrix in my lap. My eyes pop open at the unfamiliar proximity to a pretty girl, mask mimicking me in blue LEDs as she stares back at me, her brow pinched with worry as she regards me.
“You’re really worried about this, huh?” The quiet question, the softness of the syllables catches me off guard even more. Wasn’t she just beating the crap out of me for it raining?
“Let’s...let’s get our story straight then, just in case.” A swath of platinum is tucked behind a heavily pierced ear as Astrix averts her gaze. “I mean...he could have kicked me while I was down? You saw and tried to intervene--he swung. After that, accident.”
“You’re serious about this?”
“It only works if you go down and work that delicious, charismatic ass off for the cops. It would show that you want to do the right thing...if you run? It’ll look bad.” With the confidence she has in her words, it’s hard not to want to agree with Asterix’s line of reasoning.
“Think about it,” she continues. “You work the anonymity angle; say you freaked and went to the roof but didn’t leave because you needed a minute. You just walk down there and offer your side. “
“What about you?” I tilt my head down a bit more so I’m not looking down my nose at her anymore.
“Oh, I’ll stop pretending I don’t want to cry and get sympathy points for you.” Astrix shrugs and pats my thermal covered shoulder. “My payment is a ride home, though.”
“I don’t know...not to the ride, but...just...why are you offering to lie for me? You don’t know me.”
Asterix’s smile grows, becoming brilliant and toothy. Honestly, it’s distracting. She’s a gorgeous girl. Just sucks she’s only eighteen...and still in high school. I don’t want to get mixed up in a scandal over ‘robbing the cradle’.
Her head tilts, the corners of her eyes crinkling with her smile, now making her seem all the more approachable and open. The kicker, though, is the gentle fingertips that brush a few stray strands of my auburn hair from in front of my shades.
“There. Now I can see your eyes better...”
“Might as well be...They’re as close as I’m going to get, isn’t it?” There’s a hint of disappointment in her words, but I don’t get the sense that she’s going to push the issue. True enough when i confirm her question with a soft ‘yeah’, she sighs.
“Then shush and let me help you,” Asterix’s scolding is halfhearted. “Look we don’t have to go down there until you’re ready--but I promise, I’ll stick to the story when we get down there.”
“I don’t often get the chance to be the hero,” the younger girl shrugs like her answer is lame. “Especially for someone I think highly of.”
“Heh,” there’s something more to her answer, I know it. However, the way that Astrix looks off, I can tell she’s not wanting to answer right now.
So, I decide to put a pin in the subject and tentatively raise a hand to her upper arm and rub my hands over the studs there. Astrix turns her head more to watch me as I awkwardly try to comfort her. My pale cheeks turn a brilliant crimson underneath my disguise, as the feeling of being exposed grows.
Without warning the mercurial girl on my lap starts moving and adjusting herself into a new position. I freeze my hand immediately because the whole ‘still in high school’ thing looking bad is still at the forefront of my mind. Well, more accurately, my entire body freezes. It’s such a sudden ‘switch off’ that my breath catches in my lungs as well. With the roof and stairwell being desolate other than ourselves, there’s no other stimuli for me to focus on other than how she’s moving and what it feels like.
Let’s just say it feels a little too good, and now I’m red for a completely separate reason.
Astrix leans up against my torso so she can rest her head on my shoulder and her body relaxes from the tension of moving telling me that she’s in her new resting spot.
“You’re going to pass out, Ghost,” Astrix teases me from where her face is tucked underneath my chin. She’s close enough I can feel her breath on my throat when she speaks.
“What?” I gasp out a B-movie death rattle, my body completely betraying me by essentially confirming she took my breath away.
“You’re sweet,” she giggles and lightly taps my right pectoral affectionately. “I wish my boyfriend reacted that way to me.”
“Why? He let you fall, and then ditched you here.”
Astrix begins to stroke the waffle fabric of my thermal, quiet after my call out. Her silence told me she knew I had a point. If the dude was okay to just cut and run like that, and be totally fine leaving her behind without so much as a call?
Not worth the heartbreak.
“He’s not usually a such a jerk,” Astrix mumbles.
“The qualifying term of ‘such’ is telling...”
“Just--shut up. Not like I have anyone else seriously barking up my tree, ya know? Rather be with him than alone.”
I pause for a bit, considering how to respond to Astrix carefully before actually opening my mouth. Am I comfortable with getting to know a girl who’s five-ish years younger than me? Not really--especially since I’m not comfortable with outing my real identity yet.
However, taking our age difference from the equation, I know for a fact that I’m attracted to her, and that she is capable of being incredibly sweet.
As a child my mother always told me to try something. If i didn’t like it, I didn’t have to do it again. People don’t work out all the time...as long as I’m careful about what I tell her, and don’t lead her on if the connection fails, I should be fine.
“So, uh--Astrix?” The stroking of my shirt stops and her head tilts up so her nose is pressed to my throat.
“Do I have to really bark, or...?”
The laugh I get in return is everything. The pealing of joy coming from her coupled with the squeeze she gives me, the bridge of her nose pressing to me neck brings things into perspective. I’m likely not going away because of a genuine accident. I should be able to date.
“No, you don’t have to bark,” Astrix says once she calms down a bit. “But I appreciate the sentiment.”
“Cool...” I sigh in relief, my voice changer crackling as it strains. “Look, I’m not good at the whole girl thing...I mean--”
“Ghost,” Astrix quietly gets my attention by cutting me off, not only with her words but by lifting her head so she’s looking me dead in my LED eyes. “Shut up.”
Her hand on my chest slides up to my shoulder, then my neck until she gets to the ties for my mask. I freeze, immediately wanting to catch her hand, but Astrix gives me a soothing ‘shhhh’ and gingerly pulls the face mask down to reveal my lips and nose.
My mouth opens slightly as inhale a shaky breath under the scrutiny of her gaze. Astrix’s eyes are locked on my lips, her own set just barely open in her fascination as what’s under my mask.
Astrix leans in as my heart pounds. The LEDs in my sunglasses are again outing my feelings, giving her heart eyes until her lips are close enough to brush mine when she speaks:
“Me too,” she breaths against me, her icy blue eyes staring through my lenses and into my soul. The worry she can tell who I am hits, until her eyes flutter closed. Then my panic changes to: ‘oh god this is really happening’ just in time for her kiss to land.
Now, I’m not necessarily experienced with kissing, but I have done it enough for instinct to make up for my lack of charisma. I can tell she’s trying to take things slow with me. The kiss is a confident yet gentle pressure that remains immobile long enough to give the impression that this is all she thinks I can handle.
Oh, ye of little faith.
I lock my arm that’s around her in place to pull her tighter against me, trying to be wary of her injury. I get a sweet squeak of surprise from Astrix and lean forward to meet her half way in the kiss.
My mask gets pulled under my chin enough that Astrix can abandon it to cup my face. Her slight whimper as she tries to move closer just spurs me to trap her full bottom lip between mine.
Astrix shudders, and all bets are off from that point. I guess I’d found a turn on, because she lets out a soft moan against my lips, before upping the ante by deepening the embrace.
The way she’s clinging to me is more befitting someone clinging to a life raft. Even though I’m holding her against me, Astrix desperately pulls at my thermal and kisses me harder. I meet her with the same fervor, my hand slipping under my jacket to stroke the bare skin of her midriff.
Soft sighs and other noises of contentment on Astrix’s behalf make me want to keep going, but the need for air cuts in, making me pull away from her.
We just sit there, each one of us slightly panting as we look at the other. I don’t know what was going on in her head, but for me? I’m wondering how to get this girl to come home with me.
“What?” Astrix’s lip’s part into a breathless grin.
“So, uhhm...you wanna come over?” I chuckle slightly.
Astrix’s dark brown eyebrows lift in surprise at my forwardness. I don’t blame her for not expecting me to basically ask if sex was an option, because I wouldn’t have called this either, even if you’d asked me mid-performance. A flirty night of dancing? Maybe. But not sex.
Something about her just radiates safety, though--enough so that I’m willing to deal with her being barely legal. It’s more than her offering a way to keep me out of trouble, it was how kind her eyes were, how she didn’t mask her feelings.
Slowly, a wicked smile spreads on Astrix’s face, and she presses her forehead to mine.
“Yeah...I’ll come over.”
“Cool,” our lips connect in a short playful peck.