Vesper's first night of sleep after the whole Eros ordeal was absolutely heavenly. Before being able to sleep however, she'd had to deal with her brother, and saying that Pace had been unhappy about what had happened was probably the understatement of the century. Once she'd gotten him calmed down and no longer foaming at the mouth, he was actually mildly impressed that she'd managed to come through alive. This gained Vesper bragging rights for pretty much ever, so she was in an unnaturally good mood when she woke up the next morning.
Plus there was the fact that Caden had actually gone home for once, after they'd made a quick visit to the hospital, which hadn't made him too chipper. He'd had his head bandaged up, and she'd had to have a bunch of stitches put in before her chest could be covered with gauze. The nurses probably thought they were the most violent couple on the face of the earth, what with the rate they kept coming in with serious injuries, but the two partners had sportingly made up ridiculous excuses just to watch the women's faces turn colors.
Unfortunately her good mood screeched to a halt in the parking lot, where a familiar blonde head was leaning against the side of the building, startling her into cautious awareness. Once she recognized it as the lovely Caden Moore, she relaxed slightly, but her forehead still wrinkled in annoyance. He couldn't even leave her alone for a solid twenty-four hours. It took serious effort to suppress the unnatural happiness rising somewhere in her midsection, but Vesper managed, playing it off as a stretch that hopefully explained somehow to the empath why she was cheerful.
"Slept well?" Caden asked as soon as she reached him, already smiling that irritatingly infectious smirk.
She glowered at him out of habit, stomping forward the last few steps before allowing her eyes to raise from the cracked concrete to look for Caden's crappy Corolla. They did still have to go to work today, as unfortunate as that was, especially because Slaid was probably about to hunt them down himself to find out what had happened if they delayed any longer. Hopefully he wasn't going to be too strict about the two disobeying his order for them to get off the case.
After a cursory glance around the lot, Vesper searched again more closely, missing the sort-of-white car that she was going to be forced to ride in. She looked at Caden questioningly before asking, "Where's your car? Did it finally break down?"
Something came flying through the air at Vesper's face and she instinctively snatched it, feeling the cold metal between her fingers as she brought her hand down to glare at Caden. He was grinning like a maniac, overly happy for someone who was about to be gutted, but as Caden pointed at a vehicle she hadn't noticed, Vesper finally understood what had him so chipper.
There it sat, shiny, repaired, and completely beautiful; the Impala, once again in top condition. Vesper felt her mouth drop open and eyes widen as she took in the sight of the one thing she had ever really felt possessive of. It was probably a full minute before she realized that her feet had stopped moving and Caden finally became impatient enough to speak.
"Happy birthday," he said quietly, satisfaction apparent in the way the corners of his lips twitched at her awed expression.
Vesper was staring at him now, thoroughly confused. When the hell had he found time to deal with her car issue with everything that had been going on recently? It was oddly…touching that he'd cared enough about her to remember her birthday and that her car, her baby, had been vandalized. Her hand opened and she gazed down at the keys settled on her fingers, trying to figure out what to feel. The emotion taking over was happiness, gratefulness, but was it really intelligent to allow herself to enjoy Caden's being nice to her? After all, she was still working on that small problem of discouraging Caden from trying to make this partnership anything but pure business.
But Vesper just couldn't make herself disapprove of Caden's gesture, as much as she felt it would be better. The rest of the short distance to the Impala was covered quickly, and Vesper longingly ran her hand across the still glossy paint, already eager to be in the driver's seat. Caden looked on, amused at her absorption with a simple object, a thing that was really only meant to get a person from point A to point B, but still meant so much to her.
"Pace paid for most of it, seeing as I'm poor, but I thought getting you your car back was an appropriate gift," Caden explained, becoming nervous at her long silence.
Her eyes were unable to separate from the Impala, and she plugged the key into the lock swiftly, smiling slightly at the click it made as the tumblers turned. Inside, the leather was still in perfect condition, untouched despite the lengthy period spent in the tow-yard. It still smelled vaguely of cleaner…and cinnamon. Vesper settled into the driver's seat softly, almost afraid that the whole car was going to disappear like smoke. She wasn't used to people being weirdly nice to her, and this was definitely a situation she didn't have any experience in.
When she revved up the engine, Caden said, his tone slightly joking, "So I guess this means I'll get to ride with you now, seeing as I helped buy back your car." He laughed a little at the end, an anxious sound that told how little this conversation really had to do with the car. This wasn't about her birthday or her car or riding with her, it was about her letting him in. About him getting closer to her. He knew it and she knew it, but neither of them had the guts to say it and set Vesper off.
Finally, Vesper looked back up at Caden, a mischievous glint in her blue-green eyes as she snapped the door closed at her side. The car was shifted into reverse before Caden could protest.
"Fat chance." Her smile had grown, still wicked, and as soon as she was finished speaking her foot had flattened onto the gas. Before she could so much as take a breath, she was spinning out of the parking spot, twirling the car around effortlessly until she was aimed at the exit, making her way toward the street. That's when she made the mistake of glancing in her rearview mirror, catching sight of Caden's resigned, slightly dejected face. He just looked so god damn sad. Not that it should matter to her. He couldn't expect to shove his way into her life so easily; just buy her car back and instant access. No, it didn't work like that and she couldn't afford to get too close to him.
But he looked so depressed as he stared after her, his hands shoved into his pockets and that bright blonde hair flipping around in the wind, fluttering in his ice grey eyes.
Vesper sighed and slammed on the brakes, wincing as her new tires squealed on the pavement with the abrupt stop. Again she looked in the mirror and couldn't help the quirk of her lips as that half-smile she was so familiar with appeared on his face, lighting up his features. The Impala was back in reverse before she could think about what she was doing, and Vesper was too busy grinning to regret it.
a/n - Yay! It is now completely complete! Hope you all enjoyed! Thanks to Alice B. Black, maidengarnet, A.V. Mackie, Dellarose, Sekhra, Faith Adeline, Just to See you Smile, openheadspace, chameleonduality, and katherine haynes for reviewing last chapter so far! And now, here is the long awaited outline of How High! I didn't change anything as I went along and each bullet was supposed to be a chapter, so I think it's kind of interesting to see how close I stuck to it and yet how different it is. Spandacular!
How High - Outline
X Vesper Adams gets a new partner and deals with a grabby fast food customer before retiring to her humble abode
X The new partner, Caden Moore, sneaks into her apartment and in turn earns a black eye to model for the rest of the Agency
X Vesper and Caden go on their first mission, arguing the whole way, and end up discovering that something is amiss
X Pace Adams, Vesper's wild and obnoxious brother, shows up with his hooker-esque girlfriend, Leila Summers, and generally wreaks havoc
X Vesper and Caden get into a word fight at work, are apprehended by their boss, Slaid, and end up becoming further estranged (on Vesper's part) and more endeared (on Caden's)
X X Basically he likes to annoy her and she likes to hit him – it is a symbiotic relationship
X Vesper and Caden track a human-esque myth and end up losing it because of Vesper's inability to ignore Caden's taunts
X X Obviously some serious anger ensues
X Post-failure arguments, meeting with Slaid, and the ride home with Pace, post-tire-slashing
X Pace decides that Vesper needs a break and forces her to go clubbing for her twenty-first birthday which in turn leads to her becoming entirely intoxicated
X X Being drunk around Caden is not a good thing
X Either she a) wakes up with Caden in her bed or she b) wakes up with Caden in her apartment – either way things are not pleasant
X X Anger ensues and increases when Pace decides to call and Vesper has to forcibly silence Caden so that her brother won't know that he's there
X Vesper and Caden go to work and she gets sent home because she's so temperamental, but Caden picks her up on his way to the myth site and she stubbornly refuses to be grateful
X X Battle happens and she has to save Caden's ass, but he's injured in the process
X She wakes up the next morning with two rose petals on her pillow and begins frantically searching her apartment, only to find no one
X X There are no calls that day and she spends it researching the petals and trying to ignore Caden's increasingly more hilarious teasing, reluctantly asking him to stay in her apartment to watch for the petal-leaver
X Pace of course walks in the next morning, sees Caden—only in boxers—and, being the entirely over-protective older brother that he is, instantly sets upon Caden
X X Vesper has to intervene, but when Pace starts to tease her, she jumps at him and Caden has to pull her off of him
X X Of course all the while annoying-hooker-girlfriend is screaming at the senseless violence that the others so love
X Vesper and Caden go into work late, are scolded, then set off on another daring adventure, only to find that in their absence the myths have organized into a force to be reckoned with and that they have no chance of defeating on their own
X X A battle ensues, which they of course lose, and they have to flee—a thing Vesper does not do well
X X They begin to wonder what's going on and who is organizing the formerly un-allied myth creatures
X The next day (a weekend, yay) Vesper is unobtrusively walking down the sidewalk to buy groceries, when she gets attacked by a human-esque myth
X X She of course is able to fend it off, but not before she makes it spill some pretty important stuff about who's been leaving things in her bedroom
X X Caden thinks it's very important, no matter how much she wants to just let it go, and immediately sets up camp in her living room (a little too readily if you ask me) to protect her from the wrong-doer
X Pace, quite obviously does not find this desirable, but restrains himself from beating Caden into the ground and instead uses his energy to sift through the mighty culture of the underground looking for clues about Vesper's stalker
X X Hooker-girlfriend turns out to be less pathetic than everyone thought when she saves Pace from a potentially dangerous situation using her natural…talents.
X First encounter with Cupid, the god of love, whom they find out is running this popsicle stand in a normal hit gone wrong
They attempt a kill but obviously he's a freakin god so there isn't much that they can do yet and they have to flee
X Another foray into the underground is in order and they struggle to find out how to kill a god only to find that they're nearly impossible to kill and the only way is to stab him with a silver dagger through the heart
X X This obviously poses a problem because it will be nearly impossible to get that close but creepy underground weirdo man makes them think of what love is vulnerable to and after many wrong answers they finally come up with lust
X Planning takes place in which Vesper, Caden, Pace, and Leila try to think of some way to lust Cupid to death
X X First they think that it should be Leila that does it since she obviously isn't lacking in feminine wiles (hey it's her job) but then they decide (after much argument) that it should be Vesper, since after all, it's her he wants
X X Caden, after the other's have left, tries to talk her out of it, but he can't (obviously, she's way too pigheaded)
X She wakes up in the middle of the night to a ruckus in the living room and finds Caden being knocked unconscious and used as a shield by a myth that then drops three petals on her floor and tells her that she's been warned
X X After reviving Caden she tells him what happened and they wonder what could be going on, but before they can figure anything out they're abducted, separated, and taken to Cupid in a big, cliché creepy warehouse
X X They're held captive for a bit, confused but otherwise unharmed, then finally they come face to face with Cupid again
X Conversation about the myth's realm and seduction of Cupid take place and obviously Vesper triumphs, killing Cupid, freeing Caden, and fighting her way out of the warehouse to certain victory and slow motion music
a/n - And that my friends is truly it. Until next time... -ominous music-