Chapter 1—


"Mrm… what?"

"Wake up."

"Leave me alone," he muttered in his half-awake/half asleep state.

"Come on, you were supposed to be at the studio an hour ago."

"But Belle," he whined, "it's too cold to get up and go to that stupid studio. No. I refuse."

He promptly pulled his pillow over his head and settled back in to sleep.

Okay, so he had decided to be stubborn? Of course. What else could be expected with Brandon Tamblyn? Some things never change… but he really needed to get to the studio. Matty and Andy had already called four times and each time they had left messages that weren't exactly very nice.

But then nothing lately had been very nice between the three boys. They were at each other's throats more often than not and it was making for a horrible recording situation. Not that Nancy Boy recording sessions ever went smoothly. She couldn't recall things ever being this bad though.

She felt Brandon pull her back down into the pillows. "Go back to sleep, Belle."

She flopped down next to him quite awkwardly—as he'd caught her off guard. Well, really, it certainly was never a bad thing to spend the day in bed. Especially on a cold day in the middle of winter. No… that was quite a good thing, actually. She snuggled in next to him and closed her eyes.

Then the phone decided to ring. Brandon groaned, but didn't show any sign of moving. She sighed and sat up again—only to gain her another groan from the Pixie lying beside her. No, this just wasn't going to do. It wasn't fair to keep the others waiting so long. And sure, it wasn't like they needed Brandon there to do every single thing—but he was an integral part of the recording process and so he obviously needed to be there.

"Bran, you really should get up," she tried once again to appeal to his (still rather sketchy) common sense side. "They're getting really angry with you."

"I don't care how angry they are," his muffled voice came from beneath the pillows that were still piled up on top of his head. "I am not going into the studio today. Nothing in the world will make me move from this position that I currently find myself in."

"Ah, long-winded as usual." She gave an amused chuckle as she got an idea.

"Will always be long-winded," he mumbled.

"Nothing will make you move from that position?"

"That's what I said."

She arched an eyebrow. "Nothing at all?"

"Nothing," he confirmed with a nod of his head. At least, she thought it was a nod. The pillows moved a little, so she figured that was what he was going for.

She leaned close to him. "Really?"

He again nodded. "Really."

"So, if I were to do this…" She ran a hand under his loose fitting t-shirt—lightly running it across his flat belly.

"Uh-huh?" He seemed interested.

"Or this…?" She started pulling the shirt up his torso slowly.

"Go on." He peeked his head out from under the pillows. She resisted the urge to laugh outright at him. His large eyes were just waiting for what she was going to do next.

"Maybe this…?" She ran a few, light kisses up and down his chest. "You wouldn't want to move at all?"

"I think I might be coming around." He pulled her on top of him, so that she was straddling his waist. "Only problem is that I think I might need some more convincing."

She hovered above his lips. "How much more?"

"Mmmmm, let's just play it by ear?" he suggested before his lips captured hers.

Okay, so her plan was kind of going off course. She was supposed to wake him up and then push him out of bed—forcing him to get his butt down to the studio. It was proving to be much harder than she'd anticipated, though. What with the way, he was currently kissing every inch of skin that he possibly could and how his hands seemed to be in too many places and not nearly enough at the same time. Only Brandon could accomplish that, she thought to herself.

Naturally, the phone began ringing yet again.

"Ahhh!" Brandon pulled away long enough to let out a frustrated yell. "I am going to rip that phone out of the wall!"

Belle took the moment to pull away and try and gather her composure. It was much easier said that done, but she knew that they absolutely had to get that little man down to the studio. She took in his innocent, doe-eyed look, and saw almost immediately what he was trying to do. Nuh-uh. It so was not going to work this time. He wasn't going to get her to forget about it. Not after he'd already convinced her two days ago that it was preferable to skip dinner with Matty and Enrique to stay in bed. Not that he hadn't technically been right… but that wasn't the point.

"Go get dressed," she ordered him.

"But I don't wanna," his lip trembled. He tried to get his eyes to water a little, but for some reason, he'd never been very good with that crying on cue thing. He didn't know why, because he seemed to have all the other dramatic elements down pat.

"Well, you have to." She avoided looking at his eyes. Seriously—could he flutter them any more if he tried? Well, yeah, he probably could.

"I don't see why I can't just go in later. It's seven in the morning. I mean, why do we have to record so early?"

"Because that's the time you're scheduled for."

"But it doesn't make any sense."

She whacked him with a pillow. "Would you get up, already!"

That didn't turn out very good. She'd hit him harder than she meant to and, as he was still groggy and sleepy, he was a little clumsier than usual. He toppled off the bed (which was still insanely high off the floor for such a compact couple as Belle and Brandon) and landed in an ungraceful heap on the floor.

"What the fuck is wrong with you!" he raised his voice to a high-pitched squeal. "I just got my cast off a few weeks ago and you're pushing me off the very bed where I sustained the injury in the first place!"

"I'm sorry," she rushed to his side, "I didn't mean to knock you off. Are you okay?"

"Well, I didn't break anything this time," he picked himself up, "but my ass hurts."

"Oh well—" she started to say something that would probably make him a very happy Pixie indeed, but was interrupted once again by the phone. "Go get dressed!" she instead ordered and rushed out to get the phone.

"I bet that was going to be a promising sentence." Brandon shuffled over to the closet. "Very promising, indeed."

Meanwhile, Belle had the misfortune of picking up the phone and being faced with Matty huffing and puffing on the other end. You know, if he wasn't careful, he'd end up dying of asphyxiation. She let him rant and rave for what seemed like ages before she finally was able to get a word in edgewise.

"We sort of slept in," she told him, "but he's getting ready now. We'll be there in a few minutes, okay? I promise."

"Well, hurry the fuck up," he barked.

The usually calm-tempered Matty barking at her? Well, that wasn't a good sign. Nope, that wasn't a good sign at all. She rubbed her eyes and headed back into the bedroom to make sure that Brandon was still on track. She had the feeling that he wasn't—simply due to the fact that he wasn't yelling about being tired and exhausted. If he was being quiet, it probably meant that he was doing something that he wasn't supposed to be doing.

She leaned against the frame of the door. "Can't say I'm surprised."

There he was—in front of his closet—curled up in a tiny ball amongst a pile of clothes. If it wasn't such an adorable sight, she might be angry that he wasn't getting ready. But the fact was, it was just simply too sweet to think otherwise. She walked over and gently prodded him awake, only to get the usual curt response, before he tried to curl back up again.

So, this was going to be much harder than she originally thought? Sometimes it was just more trouble than it was worth trying to deal with Brandon. Talk about stubborn and persistent. But then, really—wasn't it those qualities that had forced them back together in the first place? Still, it was times like these where she wished that he was just a little less stubborn. Just a little. That was all she was asking for.

Revised January 11, 2005