For Your Eyes Only
He arrives at her porch quarter past five and she whips open the door, looking a mess.
"What happened?" he asks after a moment, brow cinching as his eyes skim over her. Her hair's wet and wild, she has bloody tissues stuck to her legs, and he's pretty sure her shirt is on backwards. Possibly her shorts, too.
Without warning, she grabs him by the wrist and yanks him inside. "You stay here and watch TV," she says, quickly slamming the door shut behind them and disappearing down the hallway. "I have to finish getting ready."
He stands there, frozen briefly, and then lets his mouth fall open. "What? You're not ready?"
"Do I look ready?" she calls back, and her voice is muffled because by now, she's in the bathroom, fumbling for her blow-dryer.
Jamming his hands into his pockets, his sighs, pivots back on his heel and plops unceremoniously onto the couch. "Then why'd the hell you call me so early if you're not even ready?"
Silence reigns until she responds, and then, her voice is timid. "I had a mishap."
He scoffs as he reaches across the couch for the remote, but a smirk teases the corners of his lips. He presses the button and watches as the black screen flickers to life. "Klutz."
A few minutes pass and he can't hear the TV over the noise of the blow dryer. Whatever program is playing in front of him looks boring, though, so he doesn't really care enough to turn up the volume and instead he kicks up his legs and rests his feet on the cluttered coffee table. He leans his head back and stares at the ceiling, because it's probably more interesting than TV anyway. The remote is idle in his hands and he gets pretty far in counting the spider's webs before he's distracted.
"Check the score for last night's game," she says, standing in the hallway. He can see her if he cranes his neck a little more, but that's a bit painful, so he sits up and turns around to face her. She gestures to the TV, and she's still got the blow-dryer in her hand, but her hair looks pretty dry to him. "The Tigers played last night, didn't they?"
"Why are you asking me? You know I don't watch pussyball," he mutters, but changes the channel to a sports station anyway. The scores that roll across the ticker are for hockey. He sighs and can hear her take a step or two closer.
"Do you want to know where we're going?" she asks, leaning against the back of the couch. He can see the tag of her T-Shirt peek out from beneath her collar. "Markus and I, I mean," she adds with a giggle that makes him feel like his teeth are about to rot and fall out.
"Aw, come on." She jabs at his shoulder with two fingers, which doesn't hurt as much as it used to back in elementary school. The nerves there were probably dead by now. "Ask me anyway."
He keeps his gaze on the television screen, but she notices the slight twitch of his jaw. "No."
So instead she takes to jabbing him harder and after a few moments of this he turns around and gives her a noogie. She struggles to get away, but it proves futile, as always, and instead she absently tries to smack him upside the head until he stops at his own leisure. She recoils as soon as he lets go and runs a hand through her hair, surveying the damage.
"Great. This is going to take forever to fix."
He merely smirks and turns to face the TV again. "Good. Make him wait."
"I don't have that kind of time. I'm supposed to be meeting him in fifteen minutes," she mutters as she shuffles down the hall, back towards the bathroom. A piece of toilet paper falls off her leg and floats helplessly to the ground.
Feeling a little better now, he's taken to flipping the remote in his hand. "They say absence makes the heart grow fonder."
"You don't get it!" she retorts from the bathroom, with a tone that nearly makes him jump. "I can't screw this up!"
"It's not the end of the world!" he calls back, gripping the remote tighter, but only briefly. "It's just a date. Jeez."
"A date with Markus Stanton." She's emphasized the name as if he was the very incarnation of God himself. "I'm lucky he even knows who I am, let alone - "
He's really annoyed now, and so he cuts her off. "I know, I know. You've told me a hundred times already." When he's met with nothing but silence, he lets out a long sigh and shuts off the TV. "So why am I the one driving you? If he's so great, shouldn't he be able to pick up his own date?"
"He loaned his car to the homeless shelter this week," she replies, and it makes him immediately regret asking. "I hear he does it a lot. Isn't that awesome?"
He sighs again and sinks back into the couch. "He shouldn't be going around asking girls on dates if he doesn't even have a ride... "
"Is that jealousy I'm hearing?"
"Yeah, I'm jealous that he doesn't have a car. Totally jealous." He stands up abruptly, tired of talking through halls and walls. He saunters towards the bathroom, where the light is on and the door is open. She's standing at the vanity, leaned over the sink, staring intently at her reflection as she plucks her eyebrows. He slouches against the doorjamb and looks her up and down. The tissues are gone from her legs and she's turned her shirt around. The jury was still out on the shorts. Her hair's a bit messy, but in a good way. When all of this occurs to him, he frowns. "Why can't you just go the way you are now?"
"Seriously?" Her mouth drops open and she glares at him in a way that would've bore a hole through him if it wasn't via the mirror. "He can't see me like this," she nearly hisses, and the tweezers she's holding look like they're about to snap in half.
He shrugs and wonders if her hand is hurting at all. "Why not?"
"Because I look like the Little Match Girl after she's been chewed up and spit out by the Cookie Monster," she says so quickly it takes him a moment to decipher all of it. She sets down the tweezers and grabs a brush from one of the vanity's drawers.
"And it's okay for you to look like this in front of me, but not him..." he trails off, watching as she tames her hair, glaring at him all the while.
"Exactly." She looks at him as she speaks, only breaking eye contact when she has to manually untangle a knot. "The me you're seeing right now is meant only for your eyes." She flashes a smile that carries an air of doom. "No one else can know it exists."
But she's used that smile a lot in the years he's known her, and so he isn't phased.
"Right," he says, with a slight nod to punctuate it.
Her attention returns to her reflection and she also nods. He shifts into a more comfortable position against the door and watches mostly in silence as she finishes with her hair, applies her makeup, brushes her teeth, and gurgles mouthwash. She kicks him out so she can get dressed and he finds himself on the couch in the living room once again, staring at the screen not out of interest, but curiosity as to whether or not the Tigers had managed to lose yet another one.
Four more minutes pass and by this point he realizes that she will, indeed, be late for her date. Not by much though. He really doesn't care either way, but he knows she'll be upset and he dreads the thought of how spazzy she's going to be on the car ride there.
"Do I look okay?" she asks suddenly, from the hallway.
He turns around just as the score for the Tigers game was shown, and he lets his eyes drift over her, lingering in a way that he usually wouldn't allow. He frowns slightly at her polished, made-up appearance. "You looked better before."
She pouts and her brow knits like it's about to eat her face. "Gee, thanks."
"Are you ready to go?" he asks, turning the television off.
She nods, which is a good sign that she's really not mad after all. Just anxious. He's relieved, but he doesn't let on, and instead gets to his feet and stretches noisily.
"You've got your cell with you, right?"
She slips it out of the depths of her purse and holds it up for him to see. "Yeah, why?"
He cracks his knuckles as he steps towards the door. "Just making sure." He watches as she wrestles her feet into a pair of painful looking shoes and opens the door for her so she doesn't kill herself trying to go down the steps of the porch. As they linger at the threshold, he catches a whiff of something unfamiliar and can't help but make a face.
She notices immediately and frowns. "What?"
"You..." he pauses, not wanting to say anything more, but knows it's already too late, "don't smell like... you."
The look she gives him is incredulous, and she pushes the storm door open. "That was intelligent, Tarzan."
"Shut up," he mumbles, half-heartedly, and pulls both doors shut after them. She scrambles down the sidewalk and to his car, letting herself in and getting buckled up as he merely strolls along. She makes a few choice faces and hand gestures at him and he hurries it up a little. He slides into the driver's seat and she's nothing but a bundle of nerves as they leave her house and head towards where she's supposed to meet her date. She worries and fusses, and he does his best to assuage her concerns until she begins to complain about his driving.
At her request, he stops the car about a block from the meeting place and she takes a last look at herself in the mirror, mumbling and grumbling about how she wishes she'd had another five or ten minutes. He assures her she looks fine and she, again, writes it off as something that friends are obligated to say to each other in these kinds of situations.
Then, she leaves, with a smile and a wave, closing the door behind her. He watches as she scurries along the sidewalk, the wind catching her hair and the hem of her skirt. He watches until she rounds the corner and is out of sight. And then, and only then, he crosses his arms over the steering wheel and inelegantly drops his head to rest on them. The horn chirps loudly, but he'd expected that. He sits like that for a minute, maybe two, with only one thought going through his mind:
"For my eyes only, huh?"