Chapter 2 : I hate my flat.
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I hate my flat.
I hate the ugly eggshell colour of the walls that never come clean no matter how many times I scrub them. I hate the scuffed up pine wood of the baseboards that are cracked around my living room wall. And I hate the fact that I’m on the very top floor of my building, directly underneath the world’s shittiest roof, which leaks every time it rains.
Which, you know, is a lot. Because it’s bloody England.
But what I really hate is that my building super is too fucking cheap to get carpet, so my whole flat is covered with only plain wooden floors. And let me tell you, those plain wooden floors get really fucking cold in the morning.
And it really, really sucks.
Today, for example, I feel like my toes are practically ready to fall off from frostbite. Despite the fact that it’s, you know, summer. Apparently our heating system is so cheap that it can either be really, really warm or really, really cold. Nothing in between. So what does my super do? He picks the really, really cold setting, naturally. I swear the bloke has some vendetta against my feet.
What my feet ever did to him is beyond me, but it must have been something pretty awful. Maybe they stink. I don’t know. I don’t think they do. And how would he know what my feet smell like, anyway?
So, as I shove my way into my bathroom this morning, I’m half-blind from my the sleep dust clouding my eyes, half-crippled from the fact that my feet are blocks of solid ice, and fully pissed off. And oh, would you look at that, I have to work today.
And did I mention that our fucking water heater is on the same fucking system as the building temperature control? Take your pick: scalding hot lava burning your skin or ice cubes pelting you mercilessly. Ooh, however will I choose?
When I finally stumble out of the shower (I picked ice cubes, thanks for asking), I yank on my diner uniform and a pair of trainers, grab my work shoes and street clothes, and sprint out the door. I go through this routine every day - leave the building with soaking wet hair and walk to work. By the time I get there my hair is usually dry, and I always pull it back into a bun so it’s not like it really matters anyway.
As I pull open the doors at seven sharp, the smell of burnt coffee rushes out to greet me like the old pals that we are. There’s already noise from back in the kitchen - it’s Wednesday, which means our supplier is stocking the shelves - and Gina is in the main room, double checking facts and figures on her clipboard.
“Hey, Ava,” she mutters, not bothering to glance up.
“Morning,” I say, stiffing a yawn. “Where’s Matt?”
“Sick?” I inquire as I tug my hair back into its bun.
“Yeah. The flu or something. He called off last night.”
I narrow my eyes at her and then scan them around the room, searching for my teammate. But it doesn’t look like there’s anyone else here, so naturally I’m a bit confused.
Scratch that. I’m only confused until the door to the kitchen swings open and out walks Louis the Prick, looking unnervingly happy for seven in the morning.
What a fantastic day this is shaping up to be.
“Ava,” he says, sending me a nod.
“Prick,” I answer back.
Gina rolls her eyes and tucks her pencil behind her ear before finally glancing up at both of us. “You know what to do. Get to it.”
So we do. In silence, I might add. If Matt were here, he’d already have cracked at least three jokes and commented about how fine my arse looks today. But he’s not, so it’s stony silence and the occasional “can you pass the salt?” Oh, the joys of my life.
Once all the opening chores are done - silverware set out on all the tables, menus stacked neatly, condiment bottles filled, that kind of thing - I head back into the supply room and sink down onto my sack of potatoes, massaging my temples with my fingertips. Finally, a bit of peace.
That is, until a tall figure leans against the supply room doorway, casting a shadow over my potato sack. I flick my eyes up briefly to the doorway, see Louis lounging there, and close them, hoping that if I ignore him he’ll disappear back to whatever mansion he came from.
But when I open my eyes again, he’s still standing there, gazing down at me steadily like a nightmare that I can’t get rid of.
“What?” I hiss.
“Didn’t know that rich boys had feelings.”
“You really don’t like me, do you?”
“Well, fine then.”
There’s a pause, and the room practically squirms with awkwardness. Apparently, somebody doesn’t know how to take a hint and get the fuck out of my face. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly what one would call a “people person.” And if Louis doesn’t figure that out soon, I might just end up murdering him out of sheer irritation. So it’s probably in his best interest to leave me alone.
Yeah, Ava, good plan. He’s obviously going to leave because you think it at him.
“You’re not wearing your work shoes,” Louis comments suddenly, and I straighten up at his words.
He actually noticed something. That’s surprising. Maybe he does have a brain.
“No,” I say slowly, eyeing him with suspicion. “I’m not. I walk to work, so I carry them with me and wear my trainers. Easier on the feet.”
“Ah.” He nods seriously and taps his hand against the wall. “So...”
“Listen, you don’t have to make small talk. I don’t really care if we’re speaking or not.”
“Whatever. Just thought you might like to have some company.” And with that, he pushes off the wall and leaves me alone with my potato sack.
Looks like the bloke’s got some common sense after all.
“I need a drink,” Louis groans as he collapses into one of the vinyl booths.
“You and me both.”
He snorts and drags his hands back through his hair twice, rubbing his eyes on the second time around. “How do you do it, Ava?”
“Do what?” I ask absentmindedly as I push my rag across the counter. It’s past closing, and Louis and I have very nearly gotten everything cleaned up. All that’s left is to scrub the counter, which I’m working on now, and we’re good for the night.
“This.” I watch silently as he gestures aimlessly around the room before falling back into the booth, spread out on the vinyl seat like it’s a couch.
“You get used to it.”
“I really do need a drink,” he states, and my eyes flick over to him again. He’s really not that bad to work with. Needs a bit of polishing up around the edges, sure, but I can tolerate him.
When he’s not being a prick, that is.
I swipe the last bit of crumbs off the counter and toss the rag at his lounging figure, hoping for it to land on his face. It probably would have, too, except at the last possible moment his hand snaps up to grab it, and he waves it back at me tauntingly.
“I’m gonna go change. Be right back,” I say before I duck into the kitchen, grab my street clothes, and step into the bathroom to strip out of my work uniform.
When I reenter the diner, Louis is still lounging on his vinyl couch, but somehow he’s miraculously changed into his regular clothes as well. I cock an eyebrow at him in suspicion - he’s used magic, I know it - and he smiles innocently at me, eyes wandering to my low cut top.
I try to ignore the fact that he’s appreciating me again, but he makes it so bloody obvious that it can’t be overlooked. It’s like he wants to be caught checking me out - Merlin knows why.
“Godric, I need a drink,” he moans again, eyes finally heading a bit north.
Yeah, you better keep them up there, buddy.
I sigh and take my hair out of its bun, shaking my head a bit so it falls around my shoulders. “If I recommend a good pub to you will you stop whining?”
“Only if you come with me.”
Okay, he’s back to being a prick.
“Just go to MacLaren’s. It’s right down the street.”
“For your information, Ava,” Louis says slowly, getting to his feet, “we work together next week. And if you don’t go with me tonight, I’m just going to whine about it every other time we work together until you do.”
Why? Why must he be such a prick?
Louis can apparently sense my hesitation, as he shoves his hand back through his hair one final time and says, “Just one drink. That’s all I’m asking. I don’t want to look like a loser who has no friends.”
“But you are a loser who has no friends.”
“Come on. One drink. I’ll buy.”
“Urgh - I - fine. One drink, and then I’m leaving.”
Probably not the smartest decision in the world, but hey, I wasn’t in Ravenclaw for a reason. And really, what’s the worst that can happen? Free drinks are always good, right?
Yes. Yes they are.
No. No they are not.
Free drinks are not always good. Not when you’re at your local hang out, where you’re at the top of the totem pole, with some prissy French prick who could not look more out of place if he was wearing clown shoes and a fencing outfit.
“I cannot believe I’m doing this,” I mutter as I slam my head down onto the counter.
This is so beneath me. I could lose all my street cred just for getting seen with this stuck up pretty boy. That would be so utterly mortifying; I don’t think I could ever show my face at MacLaren’s again. Which would be a shame, because it really is a rather nice pub.
“Aw, come on, I’m not that embarrassing,” Louis says as he scans over the bar with his eyes.
“You don’t understand,” I moan as I attempt to wave down the bartender, who is currently flirting with a girl who looks barely old enough to drive. “You are a rich pretty boy. Rich pretty boys don’t come in here. Rich pretty boys have their butlers mail order them wine from France.”
“You think I’m pretty?”
Bloody hell, he sounds like a girl. I guess I was right about him being a priss after all.
“Is that really all you got out of that?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
I roll my eyes and intensify my attempts to get the bartender’s attention. He must be new here; I can’t recall seeing him before. Plus, any of the usual guys know that I’m a regular and they always wait on me first.
“Oi,” Louis shouts down towards the dumb fuck bartender. I flinch as he draws a number of stares from our fellow customers and sink down lower in my seat, cheeks flaming. All I can do is pray to Merlin that nobody who knows me is here.
The dumb fuck turns at Louis’s call and strides slowly towards us, a scowl on his face. “Sorry, mate,” Louis says, “but you really shouldn’t keep this one waiting.” He jabs his thumb at me. “Besides, that bird down there isn’t even half as attractive as the one right here.”
“Wha d’ya want?” the dumb fuck asks, and Louis turns to me, apparently expecting me to order.
“Straight vodka, one shot.”
“Make that two,” Louis says, and the dumb fuck walks away to get our drinks. “Vodka shots? Thought you were more of a French wine type of a girl.”
I shoot him the finger, but he just laughs it off and taps his hand against the bar impatiently, drumming a staccato rhythm on it. He seems to do that a lot - both laughing things off and tapping his hand against random surfaces. Bloody annoying, really.
A minute later, the dumb fuck returns with our drinks. “Your shots,” he mutters, shoving them towards us and then stalking back towards his bimbo.
“Bottom’s up,” I say drily, grabbing my shot.
“Cheers,” Louis echoes as he does the same.
And with that, we both tilt our heads back and down our drinks. I slam my glass against the bar as I finish, squeezing it a bit tighter to distract myself from the burning in my throat. I dunno why I drink this stuff - it doesn’t taste good and it doesn’t go down easy, either. Well, the stuff at MacLaren’s doesn’t, anyway. Cheap bastards.
“All right,” Louis says gruffly, “you had your drink. You can go.”
“I’m being released?”
“You’re free.” He pauses, then glances sideways at me. “But you can stay if you want. I’m buying.”
You know, he really isn’t that terrible. And he doesn’t make bad company, either. Truth be told, I’d probably be here right now with Matt anyway if he wasn’t sick. So what’s the harm in staying for a few more minutes? I’ve already lost all my status at MacLaren’s by walking in here with him. I mean, I don’t have to work tomorrow, and if he’s offering...
“All right,” I concede, checking furtively around the room to make sure none of the other regulars are making fun of me. “Why the hell not? I’m always up for some free drinks.”
“Really?” Louis asks in surprise. He turns to look at me head on, a skeptical look on his face. “I thought you’d be running for the hills by now.”
I shrug and run my finger along the rim of the glass. “Thought you’d be running for your château.”
Louis lets out a bark of laughter and flags down the bartender again, putting in an order for two more shots. “I like you, Ava,” he says, and I can’t help but be taken aback by his sincerity.
“I tolerate you, Louis.”
Then he’s laughing again, picking up his shot, and downing it in one fluid motion. “You never explained to me why you don’t like me, you know,” he comments, nudging my still full shot glass towards me.
I hold up my pointer finger to him - the universal sign for one second - and quickly toss the liquor down my throat. “At school,” I splutter, clutching the glass tightly again, “you were so - I dunno - pretentious. And a bit of a bully, too.”
“I never even spoke to you -”
“I wasn’t talking about you being mean to me, merely commenting on you in general. In sixth year, for example, you just laughed at Lauren Winters when she asked you to Hogsmeade. I remember. I was standing right there.”
“I didn’t want to go with her,” he says simply, shrugging his shoulders like it’s nothing. “I don’t see what the big deal is.”
“You didn’t have to be so cruel about it -”
“I was doing her a favour.”
“Oh, a favour? That’s what you were doing?” I let out a hollow laugh and turn to look at him, locking my eyes with his. “It was a favour to embarrass her in front of our whole Transfiguration class?”
“Yes,” he says quietly, never once breaking eye contact, “it was. I’m not a relationship type of guy, Ava. I didn’t want to give her any false ideas.”
“You could have just let her down easily.”
“But then she wouldn’t have learned.”
Our conversation breaks off, and I shove my glass away from me angrily. So much for him being tolerable. God, I just knew he was this type of person - why did I doubt myself? Why didn’t I just stick with how I had him pegged and be done with it? Why did I even give him a chance to prove me wrong?
“Don’t act like you know me,” Louis says quietly, jerking me out of my internal rant. “You don’t. You don’t know anything about me.”
“I know enough.”
“Really? What’s my middle name? What’s my favourite colour? When’s my birthday? What annoys me? Why am I here, working at a Muggle diner? You know nothing, Ava. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. Let’s not pretend otherwise.”
He cuts off abruptly and lifts his hand to the bartender again, and immediately another set of shots slide towards us. I run my finger along the wood grain of the counter, refusing to touch my drink as Louis tips his shot back into his mouth.
I wish I hadn’t come here. I wish I hadn’t accepted the first drink or the second one, but I can’t change that now. I don’t want him to pay for me, and I don’t want to be indebted to his filthy rich boy money. I can take care of myself. I always have.
“Here,” I mutter, slapping down a few notes on the table. “This should cover my two.” And then I stand up decisively, fully intending to head for the door.
At least, I was intending to make my way towards the door. But before I can properly do so, Louis’s hand catches my arm and holds me back.
“Wait,” he says, voice soft. “Please. I’m trying to get to know you. Why do you think I wanted you to come with me so badly?”
“I’m not like Matt. I didn’t bring you here to get you drunk and hope I get lucky. I want to get to know you, Ava. Really. I’m trying, but I can’t do it unless you let me. I’m sorry if you have a negative impression of me. Just - don’t be so quick to judge. Wait until you know me first.”
Then he lets his fingers slip off of my arm and they fall back to the bar, rapping out another pattern against the wood. And as much as I want to dislike him, I can’t shake the feeling that he’s actually being honest with me. He really is trying. I don’t know why, but he is. And that’s more than I can say about Matt. He doesn’t try. We come here and talk, but it’s never about me. It’s about sports or films or work. Never me.
“All right,” I mutter in resignation, stiffly taking my seat again. “But you try anything, mister, and I am out of here.”
Louis cracks a grin and pushes my shot towards me. “Please, Ava. I don’t need to get you drunk for that.”
“Always humble, I see.”
“But of course.”
I down my shot and feel the alcohol sloshing around my empty stomach, which is really not that smart of an idea. So, I turn to Louis and say promptly, “I’m hungry.”
He rolls his eyes - which are really blue, by the way - and flicks them up towards the menu scratched on a blackboard behind the bar. I follow his gaze, even though I already know what he’s looking at - like I said before, Matt and I come here all the time.
“Want a cheeseburger?” he asks seriously, and now it’s my turn to laugh.
“What is it with you and cheeseburgers?”
“Cheeseburgers are the mightiest of all burgers.”
“Whatever. A cheeseburger will do.”
I wince a bit as Louis shouts down towards the dumb fuck bartender - bloke really needs to learn how to use an indoor voice - and before too long a cheeseburger and another round of shots are sliding down towards us.
“Let’s play a game,” Louis says as I take the first juicy bite of my burger.
“Yeah. You drink a shot, and you can ask the other person a question that they have to answer. Simple, really.”
I eye him suspiciously and take another bite, but honestly, it’s not that bad of an idea. We get to know each other, which is what he wants, and I still get my free drinks. Sounds good to me.
“All right,” I concede. “You ask me a question first.”
Louis shrugs and tips back his shot. He still looks fairly composed, though, despite the fact that it’s his fourth fucking shot in thirty minutes. I’ve only had three and I’m already starting to feel the buzz kick in. But Louis doesn’t appear to be affected in the least by the alcohol, so maybe I’m just a lightweight compared to him.
He takes a breath and fiddles with the glass, apparently carefully considering what to ask me. “Do you have any siblings?”
“Nope. Only child.”
I shrug and drink my fourth shot, taking another bite of the cheeseburger after the alcohol finishes burning down my throat. “What’s your middle name?”
Louis laughs (again - am I really that funny?) at my reference to his earlier outburst, hand waving at the dumb fuck bartender for another round. “Cedric.” Down goes the fifth one. “What was your favourite subject in school?”
“Charms. What’s your favourite colour?”
And so it goes. Drink a shot, ask a question. I don’t know how long we sit there, drinking and talking, but I know that I’ve had far too many for my own good. And it’s starting to catch up to me.
The world swirls a bit on the edges and my voice is too loud in fact everything is too loud and I’m laughing and all of this is wrong and I need to go home because I’ve had too much but everything Louis says is funny and I’m starting to feel sick now and I can’t see straight and I’m giggling and I never giggle but he’s just so fucking hilarious that I can’t stop it and his eyes are really blue and I don’t make good decisions when I’m drunk and I think I’m going to make a bad one tonight but I don’t care because he’s so funny and I’m so drunk and he’s really close to me and his breath is tingling in my ear as he whispers something in it and his eyes are so fucking blue and he’s everywhere and his lips are burning on my lips and his tongue is tasting my tongue and his hands are caught in my hands and he’s just everywhere but I don’t mind because his eyes are really blue and why the hell not?
We’re tangled together and stumbling out the door and he’s really close but too far away because I want him to be everywhere because he smells good and his eyes are really blue and I’m pretty sure I’ve thought that before but I don’t care because it’s true and I want him to be everywhere and where are we going and what am I doing and I don’t know what’s going on but that’s okay because he’s kissing me again and his eyes are so blue and I want him.
“Your place or mine?”
That’s him whispering I think but I can’t be sure because it could be any blonde haired really blue eyed bloke that looks like Ian who happened to push me outside where it’s really cold at night and I’m shivering and I just want to go home but I don’t because I want him.
“Yoursss. I hay my fla.”
My words are slurring together because I’m so fucking drunk and I knew better than to do this but I don’t care anymore because it’s already done and I’m here with him and his blue eyes and he looks like Ian and he’s clutching at my hand and we’re spinning spinning spinning but it’s not because of the alcohol even though the world is spinning anyway and all I see is dark before my feet hit solid ground and I didn’t even know we left but apparently we did because now I’m in a new place because it’s not cold anymore and Louis is everywhere and I really don’t know what’s going on but at the same time I do because I know what’s going to happen and I know I shouldn’t let it happen but I want to even though I don’t want to and he’s everywhere and his hands are scorching the skin beneath my shirt and then there are clothes on the floor and my knees are hitting the back of a bed and it must be his bed because I told him I wanted to go to his flat but it doesn’t really matter because I just want him and I hate my flat.
A/N: Phew. The action’s starting. I hope the bit at the end was all right - I’ve never written a drunk person before. I think I did okay, though. One gigantic run-on sentence is really the best way I can think of to describe being drunk... Oh, and I hope you guys don’t think this is going to turn into the cliché story or whatever what with the drunk hookup. Trust me, the whole ‘cliché’ thing is not happening. If you’ve read my other stuff, you know I like to turn everything on its head and twist it around. So don’t worry about that :D
Anyway, thoughts? Predictions? Reviews? Any of that would be lovely.
P.S. Thank you so much for the wonderful response on the first chapter! Forty-two favorites and counting :)
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