Chapter 7 : The Heat of the Moment
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“When can I see you again?” Audrey asked hesitantly an hour and a half later as Percy prepared to leave, trying to straighten out his ruined clothes. There was a spot of pizza sauce marking the front of his shirt from when she'd used it as a napkin during their meal. While he'd chastised her for her lack of table manners, not quite understanding that Audrey seemed to find nitpicking at him more fun than it should be, he had been smiling.
Their meal together had been, at certain moments a little awkward as they fumbled every now and then for conversation. But by the time they'd gone through their third slice of pizza, it had started to fade slowly. Percy had devoured the mess of sauce, bread and various cheeses and meats as if he had never eaten anything quite as delicious and Audrey had found it startling (And much too cute).
It appeared as if he had been brought up in a place that didn't have much of anything that she'd consider normal. She couldn't figure him out. There was nothing about him that suggested that he was foreign exactly, his accent wasn't forced, trained or awkward. He knew some things, just not what Audrey would consider relevant.
Strange, but she would have more than enough time to figure him out, as they were timidly deciding to get to know one another. It was essential that they grew to know one another properly while keeping their libidos properly caged, as it had the most disastrous effects.
That thought almost made her laugh as she watched Percy shoot a glance at her, one that made her toes curl a little. “When would you like to see me again, Ms. Tang?” he asked carefully, as if he were expecting her to say that she had changed her mind about everything.
Audrey thought of her schedule for school and then reluctantly thought of how busy she would be at Bare Back for the next week or so. Remmington was getting to the point where he wanted all of the girls to either show up during the end of the world or risk his wrath and she would rather not hear his mouth.
They were already on shaky grounds with him continually bullying some of the other girls and she wasn't sure how much longer she could personally stand it. “How about in two days? I'm going to be sort of busy,” she explained.
“Busy with what, if you don't mind me asking?” Percy asked and she could see that he was trying desperately to hide his disappointment. For something to do, he crossed his arms over his chest, somehow looking more awkward than she'd think standing in her hall with her (She had changed out of her dress and was in her pajamas), “I know that you said you had school,”
Audrey nodded wearily, thinking of all the homework that she would have to get caught up on. It had been exciting to see Joseph Wring at Heathcliff Hall earlier tonight and she couldn't wait to tell all of her teachers about it but she pushed that aside and braced her shoulder against the wall. “Yeah, I've got tests and projects to get done.”
Percy mulled his over thoughtfully for a second, as if he found something rather fascinating. “What sort of projects?” he asked curiously and Audrey raised her brows, both uncomfortable and a little flattered that he seemed so interested. “What do you do there?”
Audrey was starting to feel herself blushing because no one had ever really asked her before. Pamela, her friend at the club seemed interested but that had been about all and she never tried to pry, “Oh, uhm, you know, basic stuff. I learn all about business management for theater and we go over famous works of literature while also getting better at our own acting skills, its a lot of hard work,”
Percy studied her curiously and there was a faint smile tugging at his lips that made her slightly wary. Audrey wondered if he doubted that she could do it and then dismissed that thought, he hadn't given her any inclination that he doubted her, “So you want to be an actress for movies?”
“Not so much movies, I want to do plays. You know, go to Broadway and be like Joseph Wring,” Audrey said, feeling a bit of excitement going through her. Percy frowned severely at the mention of the man and she laughed, punching him in the arm before she could stop herself, “no need to get all pouty!”
Percy rubbed at his arm, glowering at her and she laughed all the harder, enjoying the blush on his cheeks. “I'm not pouty.” He muttered, looking far too adorable and she cooed at him, “stop that.” When Audrey only continued, making kissy faces at him, he surprised her by reaching out and giving her chin a good, playful pinch, “what made you want to become an actress?”
Audrey felt herself blushing just a bit more, completely startled that he was asking so many questions. She glanced into his face, trying to sense if he were making fun of her or taking pity but there was nothing but genuine curiosity in his pale blue eyes, making her tingle with happiness. It felt so strange, “When I was little, my mum used to do little plays for me and my brother and it just caught on.”
Percy smiled at the thought but Audrey didn't tell him that those moments had been very rare. Usually her mother had been trying to find their father at some local bar, leaving them with a trusted neighbor or worse, arguing with him until Audrey couldn't get the heated words out of her ears. Catching the look on her face, he gently gave her chin a pinch to bring her back and she smiled weakly at him, “What else did she do?” when Audrey blinked at him stupidly, he said softly, “your mother.”
“My mum was really shy so she didn't have a lot of people coming over and her parents had died when she was young. But, when she had me and Erick, she was really good to us and we took trips sometimes,” Audrey found herself saying uncomfortably, flooded with sadness at the loss of her mother. After all this time, it still felt very fresh to her, “we used to go to the beach.”
Percy hesitated for a moment or two and she thought that this would be the part where he made some excuse and left. Instead, he only pressed his hand on her arm in a comforting way that seeped all the way into her chest like warm wine, “She sounds lovely,” at Audrey's expression, he amended, “she was lovely. I won't press you on how she passed, my mother and she would have gotten along very well,”
“Really?” Audrey asked carefully, hoping that she wouldn't be lying awake tonight thinking of her own mother. Lucy Tang had been such a sweet woman but she'd also been so fragile and her father, no matter if he had started out all right in the beginning, had worn her out by the end. “You haven't talked about your family, I'm surprised that you are now,”
Earlier, he had told her that his family were disappointed with him and that had done somethings that made them upset. She couldn't help but wonder what they had been and if he would ever tell her, “You want to know me...I'm trying to trust you. I don't like talking about my family very often,” Percy admitted to her, looking slightly ashamed of himself.
Audrey thought that the words had cost him quite a bit and she felt flooded with happiness, wariness and relief. If they wanted this...whatever it was between them to work, then they had to trust one another, “You don't have to force yourself to talk about them, Weeeasley. I mean, I would like to know your sibling's names and know something about your parents,” he had her curious about his mother.
Percy made a twisting motion with his mouth, as if he were biting back words and Audrey waited patiently. When his eyes began to dim a little, she worried that he wouldn't say anything at all but he eventually spoke, “There are two brothers that are older than me. Bill and Charlie,”
“So you're not the oldest?” Audrey asked in genuine surprise. He seemed to have been to her at least the sort of stuffy, responsible brother that made sure the others were kept in line. When they'd met a while back he'd even said that he'd taken school very seriously but she'd sensed that he hadn't had very many friends, if any.
Percy shook his head and to make himself relax, or to keep touching her, he slid his hand down her arm. A bolt of lightning followed and she felt his fingers closing around hers, rubbing and pinching a little, “You're not ticklish are you?” he asked when Audrey tried not to turn to goo. “Whenever I pinch you, you don't laugh.”
“What?” Audrey asked around a laugh. Percy, frowning, pinched her side and she merely shrugged, making him frown all the harder, “you're being silly. I'm not ticklish but I can try if you touch the right spot,” she teased and he blushed.
Percy stopped pinching and poking at her side and spent a second coughing importantly into his other fist. Audrey roared with laughter, “George says that Angelina is ticklish and that most people are but he obviously lied.” She laughed all the harder at the disappointed look on his face, “anyway, Bill and Charlie—”
“Oh, no you don't! Percy, you're weird.” Audrey said to him rudely and he glowered at her, turning pink around the ears. She reached out and poked him in the side, surprised when he didn't react, “so you're not ticklish either! What sort of freak are you?” she asked angrily, knowing that he had probably been intending on testing his theory out on her to prove his brother wrong. “Prat, you could have just asked.”
Percy fended off more poking and prodding expertly, as if he had dealt with it for years. Audrey had a suspicion that his brother, Greg or no-ear or whatever his name was had been really annoying growing up, “I just wanted to see if it were true or not Ms. Tang! Stop that!” he snapped as she pinched at his sides, watching as he turned pinker and pinker.
Audrey laughed and poked him in the stomach. It was hard as a rock though and she poked at him again and again, fascinated, “Ooh, you've got some muscle under all these clothes!” she gave him a lascivious look and was amused as he started to back away from her. For no reason at all, she tried to pounce and doubled over as Percy literally ran away, “come back! Come on, Percy, let me feel you up!”
“Leave me alone, Ms. Tang!” Percy snapped furiously, though he was starting to laugh as she leapt at him again. He dodged and nearly slipped on the empty pizza box that she'd carelessly tossed onto the floor, “I thought you wanted to know more about my family!” he cried as he ran around her coffee table.
Audrey followed after him, narrowing her eyes intently. Percy was surprisingly quick on his feet and she wondered strangely if he'd ever played sports. “Did you play sports in school, Weasley—dammit, stand still!” she cried as she hopped onto her coffee table and tried to latch onto him.
Percy moved swiftly out of the way and gave a cry of alarm as she nearly crashed head first into her bookshelf. “Audrey would you be careful? My God—and no, stop it!” he snapped in a panic as she regained herself and started coming after him again, “I wasn't much of a player—why are you trying to grab me there?!” he shouted when Audrey had nearly squeezed his backside.
“Aw, Percy!” Audrey complained irritably as he ran away from her, using her couch as a shield. They were making a lot of noise but she was having fun and glad that the awkwardness between them was starting to fade away even more—they hadn't even touched one another during their meal. “Come on, let me get a squeeze! I'll let you touch mine!”
Percy spluttered in alarm as she scuttled over her couch and, somehow, managed to wrap her arms around his neck. Laughingly, he wrapped his arms around her waist, the tips of her toes barely grazing the floor, “I did earlier in the alley and I thought we'd already discussed—stop it!” he managed to mutter just before she gave him a brazen kiss on the mouth.
For just the shortest minutes, he kissed her back with such need that Audrey almost went numb from the pleasure of it. “I can't help myself, I'm sorry,” she murmured in between his kisses, his arms tightening around her, “Percy,”
The sound of his name coming from her mouth only made him moan something, a promise or a curse she wasn't sure. “Audrey, stop.” The tone of his voice was gruff as he pulled back, giving in for only one second as she gave him one more kiss, though substituted his mouth for one flaming cheek before letting him go and stepping back.
Audrey wasn't sure why she had thought she wouldn't be able to touch him and from the look on his face, he was slightly panicked. “I'm sorry, Percy. You know I'd like to fuck you but I'm just playing, don't be mad,” she said soothingly as his eyes started to bug a little.
“...Its all right, Ms. Tang. Its really all right,” Percy said as he regained his breathing, looking as if he had run a mile. Audrey thought he was stretching it a bit and almost kicked him but decided that if she wanted to keep seeing him that she would have to stop touching him. “You...you're just so...” he hesitated for a second, pausing as he considered her, “are you all right?”
Audrey shook her head, folding her arms across her chest. The faded Bare Back shirt she wore didn't really hide much and his eyes shot downward before quickly looking away, a curse coming from his mouth, “I had thought that with us we would stop touching one another to make it easier. So we wouldn't you know, act like we did in that alley.”
Percy appeared stunned by this and she watched as he frowned in confusion before pushing his glasses up his nose. “I understand that, Ms. Tang but you...its hard, not wanting to touch you. I would rather not let things get so out of control like they did earlier but a little touching never killed anyone,”
“What? You weren't touching me to begin with before the alley thing and now you're okay with it?” Audrey demanded, furious. She let out a few curses and Percy raised his brows at her, though there was a worried look on his face, “I mean, what do you want? I want to know you, true, but...I can't just sit around and not touch you.”
“I think the sort of touching you'd like to do would be considered far too indecent, Ms. Tang for most people.” Percy said stiffly and Audrey felt a little shamed but then glowered at him as he gave a slight, disapproving frown, “touch me if you must but you don't have to try and molest me each time.”
Audrey thought that he had a very good point and figured that she should at least get over herself a little. They really didn't know each other well but were willing to try and see how that would go and she couldn't ask for much else, “Well, you've been holding back from touching me. Why don't you explain that?”
Percy looked taken aback, as if he hadn't thought she would notice but when she merely raised her brows expectantly, he gave a curt laugh. “Because, Ms. Tang, I'm bad for you. I don't want to touch you and ruin how much joy you give me by making some sort of mistake...”
The words stunned her and she stared at him in open mouthed shock. He had said that she was a bright spot in his day but she had never in her life been told that she was a joy in someone's life, “You know that I'm just a strange stripper that you met at a club, right?” Audrey asked him, flushing with pleasure and fear.
“Yes, I'm aware of that but we both want something out of each other. I don't want you to be a stranger to me, I like talking to you and I like...playing,” Percy said seriously, appearing only slightly awkward. She stared at him, trying to understand what was happening and he hastily said, “I want a friend. I've never really had one before but if you're reconsidering everything, I wouldn't blame you.”
Audrey was amazed and scared and relieved. She had never been very close to anyone, not even Pamela at the club and she was so used to taking care of herself that the thought of trusting someone and knowing that she was cared about, being worried over made something hurt. It took a moment to realize that her heart felt as if it were filling up and she couldn't fight it back, “...All...all right, Percy.”
Percy's brief moment of relief vanished as he saw the expression on her face and she felt his eyes narrowing. The way he seemed to read her mind made her aware of just how impossible it would be to hide, “I know what you're thinking, Ms. Tang and this isn't easy for me either but you have too much life in you to just let it fade away.”
“You don't know that. Everyone's always told me I was trash,” Audrey found herself clipping out. Ordinarily, the words would have caused anyone else to turn away or offer some sort of weak empathy but Percy merely studied her calmly, looking as if he understood, “I don't want pity or some fake ass compassion.”
“I'd like to find these people and hurt them for you. You are not trash,” Percy said firmly and Audrey blinked in surprise, somehow knowing that he would hurt someone for her. It made her a bit chilled, “you'll go good things with your life.”
Audrey's heart pounded in a way that made her wonder if she had lost her mind and she gave him a weak smile. Somehow, she felt like crying but she couldn't become silly and emotional from just this one compliment, but no one had ever told her how nice it would be to hear it. “Percy, you don't have to be pitying—”
“I am not pitying you, Ms. Tang!” Percy snapped in genuine irritation. When he continued to notice the doubtful look on her face, a very arrogant expression spread over his own, “You'll get none from me and I would like it if you would do the same.” Audrey wasn't sure if she would be able to pick up her jaw from the floor and he gave her a tender smile, “you're going to have to get used to the fact that I'll be around.”
Audrey nodded jerkily. “Right...right...”
“If we're going to continue seeing one another,” Percy replied softly as he watched her face. The look she was giving him wasn't flattering but there was almost a stern, affectionate look on his face.
Audrey recoiled from it but Percy was closing the space between them and she didn't know what to do. She wanted to be the sort of person that had someone or something to look forward to but it was so risky, “If we get close and I start to want you more than I do already and everything turns to shit, you realize that it'll kill me, right?”
Those were not the words that she had thought she would say and Percy appeared both startled and understanding. Panic laced in her veins but he merely tilted her face up, causing her breathing to nearly stop, “I won't let anything hurt you, I promise.”
Audrey wanted to fearfully tell him that he could hurt her and that she could, eventually hurt him. But the words never formed as Percy pressed the softest, most wonderful kisses along her cheek, that fragile promise taking root in her heart.
“Audrey, Remmington said to tell you that there's someone at the bar waiting for you, some tall bloke with red hair and glasses?” Pamela's voice seemed to come out of nowhere and Audrey, who had been shimmying back into her bra, paused. The locker room was clambering with girls and the smells of body sweat and thick perfume made it very difficult to draw in a breath, “did you hear me?” her friend asked with a frown.
Audrey finished clasping herself into her bra and reached into her locker for the shirt that she'd tossed in along with her purse, pants and biker boots. “I heard you, Pam, sorry,” she said while shoving into her shirt and turning to her friend, who was still dressed in what barely counted as a string and fabric.
Pamela wiped absently at a bit of glitter on her bare shoulder before giving her a dismissive wave. “Its all right,” she said while two other girls squeezed past, giggling madly over some joke that Audrey had started earlier, “so is the bloke waiting for you outside the same bloke that you've been obsessing over?”
Audrey felt her eyes rolling a little as she noticed that her shirt was inside out, the tag tickling her chin. Irritably, she shook out of it (A girl whistled across from them) and straightened it out, “I haven't been obsessing over him, Pamela,” she said with a frown after slipping the material over her head.
“So what is he to you now?” Pamela asked with wary curiosity as she braced her leg onto a bench and started unrolling her silk stockings expertly. Audrey gave her a flirty look that made her laugh, “oh, stop. So you and this bloke, are you seeing each other?”
Audrey knew that some of the girls were dating outside of the club but she had heard that a lot of the relationships didn't end well. But what she had with Percy was a friendship and she said to her friend with a slight smile, “We're not precisely seeing one another. Just meeting up and talking.”
Pamela made a disgruntled sound as she finished slinking out of her stockings and started on her top. When she managed to get it off, she slung it over her shoulder before going to her locker and opening it with a glance down at her, “Talking? That's it? He's not giving you some sort of trouble is he?”
“No, no.” Audrey insisted firmly with a frown down at her. After snatching her pants from the bottom pit of her locker and slipping into them, she said to her friend, “we're just interested in getting to know one another.”
Pamela's reply was muffled a little from the noise in the locker room and Audrey groaned in annoyance. The club had been busy lately and while these two days of working had given her enough money to keep some of her bills at bay, they had also exhausted her, “Do you want something more from that though?” her friend asked once the noise had gone down.
Audrey felt herself feeling uncertain, unsure how to reply. There was so much about Percy that she didn't know and the thought of meaning something more to him both delighted and scared her, “I don't know, to be honest. Its been a long time since I've been with anyone,”
“Well, I know that you've had some tough relationships but this bloke isn't that bad, is he?” Pamela asked her after slipping on her shirt. “I didn't really get a good look at him, Remmington's fat ass got in the way.”
Audrey felt unease boiling in her stomach. While she had been doing her own job as effectively as possible, their manager was making things as unpleasant for her as he could and she never slipped and showed fear, “Remmington didn't give him a hard time, did he?”
Pamela gave her a worried glance but didn't answer right away and Audrey's eyes widened, thinking that Percy was in trouble. “I'm not sure, but I don't think so. He must have overheard him asking the bartender about you and told me on my way in that he was here.”
A very slimy, unpleasant feeling settled into the pit of her stomach. “That asshole,” Audrey muttered furiously as she finished buttoning her jeans and slipping on her favorite denim jacket, “I'd better go out there and make sure he hasn't done something to Percy.”
“He's probably too busy chatting up customers to notice your bloke, Audrey, don't get yourself into a fit. You've been pushing it with talking back to him the way you do, he'll only take so much,” Pamela warned gravely. She had been working at Bare Back far longer than she had and knew the club like the back of her hand, “some girls are saying that he's crazy,”
Audrey snorted as she impatiently pushed the strands of her long hair out of her denim collar. “Aren't we all though?” she asked dramatically and Pamela leaned down to give her a look, “and anyway, why should I be scared? I'm not going to let him bully me the way he does all the other girls.”
Pamela heaved a sigh and spent a moment or two of getting into her own pants, muttering about being too old for this. “You should at least be careful, Audrey. We try to look out for each other here but what if he catches you alone and we can't help?” she asked.
Audrey wondered if any of them would help if they could. Pamela might but she didn't know so much about the others, “I'll be fine. You're talking to a girl who used to be in a gang, Pam,” she reminded dryly while getting the rest of her things from her locker.
“True, but you don't walk around with a switchblade anymore.” Pamela reminded and Audrey rolled her eyes. “Just be careful, all right?”
Though her concern was touching, Audrey felt a tad annoyed and spent a moment shoving into her sandals, which caused her aching feet to purr with pleasure. “I'll be careful so no worries, okay?”
Pamela looked a little doubtful but gave a resigned sigh as Audrey slammed her locker door shut and kissed her cheek on her way out. “You'd better be!” she heard her friend cry at her back with a laugh but she barely heard her, so intent on getting out of the locker room to Percy that it hardly mattered.
The sound of heavy music greeted her as she made her way out of the locker room and back towards the front of the club. It was a very busy night and as she walked around tables, girls serving drinks and men trying to get a pinch out of her ass, Audrey was almost choking on cigarette fumes. Dark shapes in corners looked like menacing, otherworldly creatures as she passed them by and tried to get through the mass of people without breaking bones.
There were rude jokes, curses and sneers at her back but Audrey hardly paid them any attention as she tried to catch sight of the bar. Even the redness of Percy's flaming hair couldn't be seen through this mess and Audrey groaned in irritation before checking to see if her boss were around. Remmington wasn't hard to lose track of and she caught his large form snugly situated in a booth, talking to some customers and she figured that he had to play his part.
It wouldn't be right for the patrons to think that he was a slimy, disgusting bit of filth—though Audrey had her doubts that anyone would care. Thinking it was unfair that they couldn't at least have some support, Audrey was squeezing her way around a group of men when she felt someone's sweaty fingers clasp around her wrist.
When the club was busy like this, men would hit on anything and anyone and she was not in the mood. “You'd better let me go if you know what's good for you!” Audrey snarled furiously, turning round with her teeth bared.
“Whoa, its only me!” Joseph Wring said in alarm, blue eyes going wide at the vicious look on her face. Audrey gasped in surprise, never thinking that she would see such a famous actor in a place like this and instantly felt her cheeks turn red, “I thought I recognized you! Aubrey right?”
Audrey snatched her wrist back, shaking off her shock. He was apparently with a group of his acting friends and they gave her little winks from behind him, making her skin crawl, “Its Audrey and I'm real sorry but I've got to get going,” she said irritably, turning around.
Joseph said something to his friends and followed after her and Audrey didn't need to look into his face to know he was drunk. Thankfully though, she finally spotted Percy at the bar up ahead, “Hey, not so fast, how about staying for a minute? Don't you wanna see the dances?”
Audrey noticed how he was staggering a bit and moved away, thinking that this wasn't what she'd expect from him. Joseph Wring was known as a talented actor, not some stupid slob, “I work here, so I've seen more than my fair share. Why don't you take a seat and get a glass of water or something?” she suggested, glancing up into his pale, sweaty face.
“Aw, come on, Aubr—Audrey, see I got it right?! Why not hang out with me and my friends for a minute?” Joseph asked with what she thought was supposed to be a charming grin. It made him look like an ugly wax doll, “you like acting right? I could help you out with that.”
Though Audrey had heard her share of insults, this one seemed to strike her right to the pit of her soul. For him to think and even suggest that she would lower herself to that caused an intense rage, the sting of tears making it worse, “Why don't you go fuck off you prick?!” she snarled, threatening to punch him.
Joseph's perfect blonde brows raised up in mock surprise, though she saw a flash of anger going across his face. Audrey tried to shake him off as he wrapped an arm around her waist, “I didn't know you were a stripper, I'd love to see you dance—”
“She said fuck off and if you don't want me to break your arm, you had better get it off her.” Percy's voice seemed to slither out of some dark pit of hell and Audrey found herself turning slightly to see him standing right behind them. “Now.”
Joseph gave a nasty bark of a laugh and pushed his sweaty fingers through the blonde fringe of his hair. Percy's eyes narrowed into icy blue sheets, his entire face nothing but one murderous scowl, “Look, whoever you are, it was just a joke. I wasn't really going to do anything to her.”
Audrey made a sound of disgust and shoved his arm off and moved stepped beside Percy, who said in an almost soothing way. “If you had done anything to her, I would have had to kill you.” The glint in his eyes suggested that he would regardless.
There was the strangest of moments after the cryptic words, as if the world had stopped turning. A few murmurs had gone up from the little crowd around them and Audrey was horrified by the calm look on Percy's face. Joseph Wring had turned pale and she saw that true fear had passed through him but instead of upholding any shred of pride, he stepped back, saying with a nasty little leer. “Take your slut, I could get it from someone else.”
“Son of a bitch!” Audrey thought she heard herself say, as if from a distance. It wasn't worth it, the prat wasn't worth it but she felt tears sliding down her cheeks and looked up at Percy, saying tightly. “Let's go—” but stopped short.
Percy appeared as straight-laced as usual in his clothes but there was something feral and wolfish and....dangerous about him. And before Joseph Wring, grinning and gloating could walk away triumphant, he attacked.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully, you don't hate me too much. Right?
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