Author Topic: Division In The Ranks  (Read 475 times)

Olivia Storm

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Division In The Ranks
« on: March 12, 2012, 09:59:45 AM »
"You did what?!"

Olivia shuffled her feet, staring down at her hands clasped in her lap as her twin sister, Lucy, paced back and forth in front of her almost incandescent with anger. In one evening, the first time she'd been let off the leash completely to propogate her sister's current plot, Liv had unravelled the whole thing. She'd thought Johnny's distress had been painful enough to witness; Lucy's fury was promising to be worse.

"You told him?" Lucy repeated in disbelief. "Bloody hell, Liv, why not just rent out a billboard, plaster our faces all over the city with the words 'Do Not Trust These Girls' underneath them? You were supposed to just play along and be me for the evening, can't you even get that right?"

That was, admittedly, unfair, but Liv didn't bother raising her eyes to object. She knew her twin well enough that Lucy just needed to get the rant out of her system now, before she had the patience to sit and listen to everything Liv had to say on the subject. And Liv had a lot to say on this subject, not all of it entirely complimentary about the sister currently waving her arms around and raving about her incompetence.

"What the hell am I supposed to do now?" Lucy demanded with a wild roll of her eyes, shaking her head furiously. "He's probably not even going to speak to me, much less listen now. He'll be all caught up in how betrayed and duped he feels and I'll be a huge blot on his record - the girl who not only got away but didn't even manage to pull off a decent trick thanks to her painfully-shy, stupidly-honest little sister!"

"If I'm such a let down, why the hell did you talk me into doing it in the first place?" Liv heard herself snap suddenly, not prepared to sit and take all this tonight. She surged to her feet, the movement sudden and bold enough to shock Lucy out of her anger and into amazement. "I didn't agree with you to begin with. Tag-teaming guys was fun when we were fifteen, Luce, but people get hurt now. Johnny's hurting, don't you get that? Because he likes you, he really likes you, and he thinks now that you don't like him, that you never liked him, and he probably hates me for bursting the bubble you had set up all around him!"

Lucy stared at her twin, startled out of her selfish rant by the palpable upset in her sister's voice, by the wetness in Liv's eyes that the younger woman was trying hard not to let spill. Something had happened this evening, something she couldn't have predicted that had touched Olivia deeply, Lucy could see that now. And anything that touched her more tender-hearted sister was worth investigating. If Johnny had hurt Liv, he wouldn't be able to keep away from Lucy until she'd made him pay for it, regardless of her own guilt in the matter.

"What happened?" she asked in a lower, gentler voice, reaching to draw Liv back down onto the couch. Prepared to listen and understand this time, rather than settle into her snap judgements and wrong assumptions as she usually did. "Tell me everything."
[size=9:184a99ac32][color=darkblue:184a99ac32][i:184a99ac32][b:184a99ac32]I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being.[/b:184a99ac32][/i:184a99ac32][/color:184a99ac32][/size:184a99ac32]

Olivia Storm

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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 10:01:52 AM »
[size=9]Earlier that evening ...[/size]

It'll be fine, Lucy had said. He's expecting me, so he won't see you, Lucy had said. It's just one little date, Lucy had said. And Liv, for all her misgivings, had allowed herself to be talked into doing her elder twin's bidding, as usual. She had, however, managed to win the battle about her clothes - she refused to be tarted up like some present begging to be unwrapped. Her only hope was that she could somehow make it through the evening without upsetting Johnny, or making it too obvious that she wasn't the woman he thought he was seeing. Pale at the prospect of being alone with a man who thought he had kissing rights already, she paced awkwardly back and forth by the fountain, wondering just what he had in mind for the evening anyway.

Johnny wasn't sure why Lucy always insisted on meeting him in the marketplace, instead of picking her up at her place. It was almost as if she was hiding something, but he wasn't sure what it was she might be hiding. A boyfriend, maybe? Or maybe she just didn't trust him enough to let him get that close yet. That he understood, as he felt the same way. Regardless of her reasons, he had agreed to meet her in the marketplace once again for Date 2, which to him, was really a continuation of Date 1, since what he'd planned for their first date hadn't really come to pass the way he'd planned. She'd confused the hell out of him and thrown him completely off track, but he wasn't giving up just yet.

He drove up on his bike, as usual, seeing no real reason to invest in a car. Transportation wasn't really a problem for someone like him who could always resort to flying, but flying wasn't really an option when it came to taking a girl on a date.

Liv had dressed carefully, not wanting to look too much unlike her sister but not wanting to give Johnny any ideas at the same time. So yes, she was wearing a skirt, but wore tights with it. And yes, she wore a rather distinctive short-sleeved shirt, but again, a long-sleeved shirt beneath that. Her hair was down, her contacts were in, Lucy had taken her Blackberry away from her forcibly for the night. But she looked nervous, biting at her lower lip as she paced, and she didn't seem to notice his arrival on the bike, too busy obsessing in her own mind about the disaster about to take place.

She might not notice him, but she probably wouldn't be able to miss the noise his bike made as it rumbled its way into the marketplace. As for himself, his eyes wandered the crowd a moment before spying her. He pulled up the visor and honked the horn, waving a hand to get her attention. He was, as before, wearing a black biker jacket, jeans and boots, a long-sleeved navy blue shirt beneath the jacket.

Liv jumped as a horn blasted behind her, starting quite obviously as she turned about to find herself being waved at from a ... "Great, just great," she muttered to herself, plastering on as warm a smile as she could manage in the midst of her in-built terror of men in general and Lucy's taste in them. "Thanks for not mentioning the bike, Luce." Drawing in a deep breath, she moved to join him, her hands falling from the pockets of her jacket as she did so. "Evening, stranger. Fancy meeting you here."

He grinned behind the visor, though she couldn't see it, and revved the engine with a hand, mostly out of habit. "Care to continue where we left off?" He reached behind him to snag the extra helmet Lucy had already worn once and held it out to her. "I promise I'll go slow." There might have been a double entendre there, unintentional or not.

Liv felt her cheeks flush darkly, already embarrassed by the innuendo that she was certain had just been aimed in her direction. It didn't help that she was feeling a little guilty for scolding him the last time they had met, only now realising that he was a very attractive man in his own right. Which, of course, made it even harder to relax. Her fingers curled into the helmet automatically, hoping he wouldn't notice her terror of the machine he straddled. "Be gentle with me," she heard herself say laughingly, drawing the helmet over her head as she swung into position behind him, settling considerably more snugly against his back than Lucy had done the date before.

He laughed again. "That's not what you said the last time." No, he and Lucy hadn't gotten very far, but he'd gotten the distinct feeling she wanted to go farther, and assumed she was teasing him. He waited until she was settled behind him, also assuming she was at least somewhat comfortable with riding behind him. She had seemed exhilarated the last time he'd taken her for a ride, but fortunately for Liv, his plans for the second date were a little more sedate. Still, they had to get there first.

He didn't bother to remind her to hang on tight this time, since she already was. He found himself liking the feeling of her at his back, arms wrapped around him and holding on tight. Once she seemed ready, he slapped the visor down and took off, careful until they got out of the marketplace, excelerating once they were out on the open road.

Unlike Lucy, Liv kept her mouth very firmly shut as she felt the bike beneath her rev and take off, closing her eyes just as firmly. She didn't even squeak, internalising her sudden terror of the ground moving faster less than a foot beneath her toes than it ever had before, holding on tighter than Lucy ever had.

But Liv held on in a way that suggested more trust, somehow; her hands were flat against Johnny's chest, hugging herself tightly to his back, her thighs snug either side of his hips. She had no idea how different this might feel to her sister's higher confidence, only hoping she didn't make a fool of herself by whimpering too loudly as they sped along.

Much to Johnny's credit, he didn't drive like a madman. Though he had a reputation for being something of a daredevil, he was far more careful about risking someone else's life than he was about his own. Thankfully for Liv, the destination he had in mind wasn't far, only a few minutes' drive from the Marketplace, near the river. Focused on his driving, he didn't really notice anything different about the way Liv clung to him like a lover at his back, only that she was there.

As the bike began to slow, Liv opened her eyes, relieved to find herself still in the city at least. Johnny would, no doubt, feel her quiet sigh of relief as she forced her arms to relax a little more, not to cling on quite so tightly as she had done on the journey there.

He steered the bike along the river, until they reached Founder's Park, where he turned in and continued, pulling the bike off the road finally when they came to a small clearing in the trees. It was a pretty spot, he thought, one he'd picked out ahead of time. There was a small shelter with a picnic table nestled among the trees, the river running alongside, the park just starting to come to life after a long cold winter.

The unexpected beauty of the little spot he had brought her to startled Liv out of her close to panicked reaction to riding on his motorbike. Her head came up, one hand releasing him to lift the visor on the helmet she wore as she looked around in enchanted delight. "Oh ... oh, my goodness," she breathed, forgetting for a moment that this was all for Lucy, not for her. "How lovely."
[size=9:184a99ac32][color=darkblue:184a99ac32][i:184a99ac32][b:184a99ac32]I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being.[/b:184a99ac32][/i:184a99ac32][/color:184a99ac32][/size:184a99ac32]

Olivia Storm

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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 10:03:56 AM »
"It is, isn't it?" he asked, as he climbed off the bike, kicking the stand down to keep it steady and offering her a hand. But was he talking about the scenery or her? "I thought maybe a picnic. Corny, huh?"

Lifting the helmet off her head - utterly unaware of an unfortunate syndrome known as helmet head - Liv turned her enchanted smile onto Johnny as his hand extended toward her. "I think that's a really lovely idea, Johnny," she heard herself assuring him, despite the blush that colored her cheeks once again.

Setting the helmet on the handlebars carefully, she slid her hand into his, taking all the help she could get in getting off the bike with some modicum of dignity. And trying very very hard to suppress a pang of icy jealousy and resentment against Lucy for being able to inspire this kind of thoughtful intention from any man she met.

He reached over to set a hand against her waist to steady her as she climbed off the bike, smiling a little behind the helmet. "I surprise even me sometimes." Once she was safely off the bike and standing on her own two feet, he unbuckled his own helmet and pulled it off his head. Lucky for him, he didn't have to worry about helmet head as his dark blond hair was clipped short.

He slung his helmet over the handlebars to join hers and yanked up the small trunk behind the seat to pull out a satchel of picnic supplies. The trunk didn't look very big, but there was more than enough room in there for a small picnic lunch, complete with a bottle of wine and two glasses.

Her smile widened with a shy sparkle in her eyes, unaware of how endearing that expression was on a face he thought to belong to just one woman, a woman who was not her. As he let go of her hand, Liv turned to step away from the bike, undoing her jacket as her hands hung at her sides, her gaze taking its time passing over the startlingly private place he had found for this evening.

Glancing back over her shoulder, she blinked in surprise at the sheer amount he somehow managed to get out of his little trunk space. "Can I help?" she asked, returning to step to his side with a curious tilt of her head.

He didn't seem to notice the shyness just yet, too busy unloading the picnic gear from the trunk. "No, I've got it," he insisted, slinging a blanket over an arm, the picnic basket in one hand, the bottle of wine and two glasses in the other. He had his hands full, that was for sure. "I think I have everything. I hope I got everything. I've never done this before."

"So I see." Unlike her sister, Liv's sense of humor was a little drier, a little more sarcastic, and more obvious when it was exercised. She looked Johnny's burdened arms over with a grin. "Are you sure you didn't forget anything? The three-piece band for serenading, or perhaps the kitchen sink?"

He smirked at her, arms piled high with picnic supplies. "I can always sing." He shrugged to adjust the grip he had on everything. "The kitchen sink might be taking it a bit far." He tossed an easy going smile her way and nodded his head toward the shelter near the river. "After you?"

She giggled quietly, covering her mouth with her hand as the sound deepened the flush on her cheeks. "All right, then." Turning to pick her way across the grass toward the little shelter, Liv felt her inner voice start to berate her firmly. Stop flirting with him, you stupid woman. Lucy's man, not yours, and when he finds out, he's never going to want to look at you again, so don't even think about liking him. That thought made her smile fade as the reality re-established itself. Johnny was here with Lucy, not Liv.

Had he known they were twins, he might have had a chance to choose between them and he might have chosen Liv, but he didn't. He believed himself to be courting Lucy, though he was unsure whether or not she wanted to be courted. "How long have you been in Rhy'Din?" This was Getting to Know You territory and something he wasn't sure Lucy was interested in sharing. He followed behind her, setting the picnic things down on the table once he arrived.  

Liv's mouth opened to answer, hesitating just a little before she found the answer her sister would give. "About ten days," she told him, faint reluctance in her tone betraying how much she hated to be lying to someone she was beginning to realise was just unfortunate enough to have caught Lucy's attention in the worst way. She reached to help him set out the picnic things without a second thought, grateful for something to distract her from her acute shyness in being alone with him. "My sister's been here longer, of course - almost a full year now for her." As soon as the words left her mouth, Liv knew she'd made her first mistake. Lucy was going to kill her.

"Ten days?" he echoed, doing the math in his head. "I haven't been here much longer than that." Okay, a little while longer, but not by much really. "I've only been here about a month or so." He took one end of the blanket, letting her take the other so they could fan it out across the top of the table. He arched a brow at the little bit of news she had allowed to slip out. "You have a sister?" He smirked. "Is she as pretty as you are?"

Again, Liv's mouth reacted before her brain did. "Well, she's my twin, so that's up to you to decide really, isn't it?" she heard herself ask, mortified by how easily she'd relaxed into conversation with him. Lucy wasn't just going to kill her; Lucy was going to disembowel her first. Her cheeks flushed once again as she looked away, pressing the backs of her fingers against her heated face with a faint groan.

That single eyebrow arched higher. "Twin?" Oh, you could almost hear the gears grinding away in his brain now. Wait... No, it couldn't be. He looked even more confused now than he already was. He glanced back at her, not noticing the blush, but wondered why she was suddenly looking away from him. He dropped the blanket on the table, distracted. "Are you okay?"

"Mm?" Blinking away her consternation at having almost given Lucy's unfair little plot away at the very first hurdle, Liv swallowed hurried, turning back to offer Johnny an ever-so-slightly crazed smile. "Oh! Oh, no, I'm fine, really I am. Absolutely tickety-boo, I promise." Her smile turned a little tight as she heard how panicked she sounded, drawing in a slow breath as she looked down at the picnic he'd laid out. "This looks wonderful, did you make it all yourself?"

"Uh..." He eyed her suspiciously. Something was definitely not right here, and now that he thought about it, she seemed a little off. There was one sure fire way to find out what was going on, but he decided to bide his time for now and let it play out. "Tickety-boo, huh?" He chuckled. "Is that the same thing as awesome?" He smirked, as an almost evil thought came to mind. "You know, I thought it might be too damp to sit on the ground, but what do you say we live dangerously?" He waggled his brows and went about gathering up the blanket.
[size=9:184a99ac32][color=darkblue:184a99ac32][i:184a99ac32][b:184a99ac32]I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being.[/b:184a99ac32][/i:184a99ac32][/color:184a99ac32][/size:184a99ac32]

Olivia Storm

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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 10:06:42 AM »
"Um ... how dangerously?" Liv eyed him warily, utterly unaware of how close he was to working out the admittedly clumsy ruse she'd been talked into, blushing at the familiar waggle of his brows as he smirked down at her. God, he's handsome ... No, stop that.  "Awesome is pretty close," she answered his question belatedly, watching as he bundled up the blanket once again. "What do you mean by dangerously?"

"I mean, you might get a damp ass, but don't worry... I'll keep you warm. I run hot, remember?" He flashed another mischievous smirk as he fanned the blanket out, bending at the waist to spread it out over the damp grass. It most likely wouldn't be damp for long anyway once he sat down, radiating heat to warm the blanket and ground beneath them.  

"Oh!" The relief that spread through her at this apparently mild offering of danger was palpable, her flush a little lighter this time as her lips curved into a sweeter smile than Lucy was capable of producing. The mischief in Johnny's smirk was lost on Liv, who was just hoping she could get through the evening without making too big a fool of herself or him by this point. "I think I can cope with a wet bum."

"So, what's this sister of yours do? What's her name?"  he asked, as innocently as possible, as he settled himself on the blanket, patting a spot beside him, leaving the basket and other picnic fixings on the table beside them.

"L -" For once, her mind got there before her tongue did, changing the word on the tip just in time. "Liv," she told him, warily lowering herself to the blanket beside him. Despite his invitation to sit close, Liv kept a decent gap between them as naturally as she could, offering Johnny a smile as some kind of consolation prize instead. "She works at the film studios."

He couldn't help but notice the small space she'd left between them. The last time they were together she was all over him. Either she had taken his request to slow down to heart or something else was going on. "I have a sister, too. Her name's Sue." He frowned a little at the thought of her, feeling just a little homesick. "She's a few years older than me. Raised me after my father..." He broke off, unsure why he found himself telling her that.

And again, Liv forgot herself, the reason for her presence there, in the face of a genuine gentleness from the man her sister had described to her as a shameless womaniser. She inched closer, reaching to touch her fingers tentatively against Johnny's arm. "I can empathise a little," she offered in a soft tone. "My dad died a few years ago. Nothing as traumatic as your experience, I'd imagine, but there's nothing that can fill that hole, you know? Not even the most well-meaning big sister."

He glanced to the hand that was touching his arm, feeling just a little awkward by the sweet sympathy she seemed to be offering. It wasn't his father's death that had caused the family to be torn apart. It was something far deeper, but he wasn't ready to share that yet, if ever. "I'm sorry for your loss," he told her, lifting blue eyes to hers that were warm and compassionate, despite his reputation. He paused a moment and got to his feet, abruptly changing the subject before the conversation turned too serious. "I hope you like hotdogs. They're not Coneys, but it's the best I could do."  

She blinked, somewhat surprised by how swiftly he switched from such a serious topic to a discussion of hotdogs. Twisting onto the damp blanket at her rear, she watched as he rose to his feet. "Coneys? Isn't that what rabbits used to be called centuries ago?" she asked in mild amusement. "I draw the line at eating domestic pets."

He laughed as he rummaged through the picnic basket for the hotdogs and fixings. "Never been to Coney Island, have you?" No, he figured she probably hadn't. She was English, after all, and he was just a city kid from Long Island.

Liv's brows drew together in comical confusion as she hugged her knees to her chest, unable to help prodding a little further with her sardonic sense of humor. "You have an island exclusively for rabbits in America?" she asked mischievously. "And here I thought you were supposed to be all about diversity."

He pulled out a package of hotdog buns, along with packets of ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, a jar of pickles, and so on. He chuckled at her joke, amused by her sense of humor. "It's an amusement park. You have those in merry old England, right? Maybe I'll take you there someday," he blurted, as he continued his search for the elusive hotdogs.

"Oh, you mean like Alton Towers? Yes, of course we have those," she nodded, back on slightly more stable ground as she watched him assemble the promise of food. "You'll take me to see an amusement park centered around bunnies? Cool." Pushing herself to her feet, she came to stand beside him, a little closer than before now that the conversation seemed to be safely away from any kind of innuendo or suggestion of intimacy. "Are you sure I can't help with anything?"

Yeah, right. You'll be lucky if you get a third date at this rate, he thought to himself. Do something to impress her! But what? He couldn't even find the damned hotdogs. He sighed. "I think I forgot the weinies. Must have left them in the fridge." He had been looking forward to grilling them without a grill, but that wasn't going to happen now, was it? He flopped down on the bench, utterly annoyed with himself. They still had the wine and some munchies, but no hotdogs.

Liv snorted suddenly, an abrupt giggle escaping her lips before she got her hand over her mouth again. "Oh dear," she commiserated with a smile. "I should probably mention that in England, a weinie isn't something you eat in polite company, and you definitely wouldn't put it on a grill. But I understand your point." Seeing his disappointment, her smile faded, her gaze turning to the middle distance as she tried to work out a way to get him what he'd wanted from this date. Never mind that Lucy would instantly have suggested getting inside and going to a proper restaurant; Liv wasn't prepared to spoil Johnny's evening. "There must be a store somewhere nearby."

"I screw everything up," he muttered, pouting. "I can't even get a simple picnic right. What's the point?" He got to his feet again and started packing things up, angry at himself. He thought he'd gotten off to a good start but somewhere along the way, things had gone wrong and he'd messed it all up again. He wasn't too surprised. It always ended this way. "What's the point of going to a store? I wanted this to be special. I wanted to..." Never mind what he'd wanted. It didn't matter. He'd done nothing but screw up lately, it seemed, in ways she didn't and couldn't know anything about.
[size=9:184a99ac32][color=darkblue:184a99ac32][i:184a99ac32][b:184a99ac32]I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being.[/b:184a99ac32][/i:184a99ac32][/color:184a99ac32][/size:184a99ac32]

Olivia Storm

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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 10:09:21 AM »
"Oh, no, please don't ..." Forgetting herself yet again, Liv reached out to still his hands with her own, upset by his distress. "Please, Johnny, don't be angry. It could happen to anyone." She gripped his wrists, trying to pull him around to face her.

"How does a quick trip to a store spoil a date, anyway?" she asked, her brows rising in challenge. "I'd invite you back to mine for a meal, but Lu - Liv will be there. I don't think she'd like it." This was offered with an apologetic smile, but the expression was overlaid with concern for him. "Please don't be upset with yourself, Johnny. One hiccup does not spoil a beautiful location or good company."

He reluctantly turned to face her, still frowning, still angry at himself. Of course, he felt warmer than normal. If she didn't know better, she might even think him feverish. Here he was with a beautiful woman and he was fretting over hotdogs. What the hell was the matter with him anyway? "You don't get it, do you? I screw everything up, Luce. I'm gonna screw this up, too." He turned back to the picnic basket with downcast eyes. "I don't even know what I'm doing here anymore. Am I needed or am I not?"

"You do not screw everything up." To her ever-lasting shame, Liv felt herself stamp her foot, frustrated by his insistence on being a bad guy in this situation. "You're not going to screw this up, I am. I guarantee you, Lucy Broderick is not worth getting this upset over for anyone." She had no answer for his need to know if he was needed, barring the instinctive response that was quashed before it escaped. She barely knew the man; squeaking out I need you this early was either wishful thinking or delusional.

He furrowed his brows as he glanced to her once again, his attention drawn to her when she stamped her foot, puzzled once again by her words, her insistence that she herself was not worth getting upset over. "I think she is," he insisted, still thinking Liv was Lucy, finding himself drawn to each of them for different reasons, but thinking they were both the same girl. "I just wanted to get to know you better. That's all. I thought maybe..." But they'd been over all this before, and he felt they were at an impasse. "I don't want you to get hurt, Luce." He'd told her this before, as well. It wasn't so much that he was afraid of hurting her, as he was afraid of her getting into trouble because of him. "I should just take you home."  

Liv stared at him, unaccountably hurt by his sudden change of mind and attitude. "You're just going to give up?" she heard herself ask very quietly, leaning back from him. "Just like that, because of a packet of pork products?" Her teeth found her lower lip as she stared up at him, seemingly unaware of how her fingers gripped his sleeves still. What had Lucy said to him to make Johnny second-guess himself and her with everything he said or thought? Liv found herself wanting very much to give her twin a thick ear for putting her in the position of smoothing over the confusion she'd sowed.

"I thought you liked her - me," she corrected hurriedly, shaking her head with a slightly guilty smile, hoping the look could be taken for wry. "I like you. I like you a lot." And there was the crux of her problem. She liked Johnny; Lucy liked Johnny; Johnny liked Lucy. Third wheel yet again.

"It's not because of..." He blew out a breath. It sure as hell wasn't because of the hotdogs. The hotdogs were just what had set him off, that's all. "I don't want to give up, but... I've let people get close to me before. It never works out." He finished packing the hotdog fixings back up. "It's easier just to float through life, not let anyone close, but it's lonely, you know? The last girl I cared about... She broke up with me because I couldn't be around enough. Because being who and what I am means I can't always do what I want to do all the time. There's a bigger picture here. I've got a duty to perform, and sometimes that duty interferes with my personal life. Not everyone understands that, not everyone can live with that. It comes with the territory. It's my responsibility to do what I can to help keep people safe, but..."

He closed his mouth suddenly, having said a lot more than he'd intended to say.  

It was just as well Lucy had related what she considered to be the important details to Liv before letting her sister come out this evening, or Liv would have had no idea as to what Johnny was talking about. She stood just behind him as he finished packing up, hugging herself as the sense of his loneliness pressed down around them. "She was an idiot," the geeky Broderick said quietly through her frown. "That girl. An idiot for letting you go just because she was too selfish to understand what compels you to help people who can't help themselves." And Lucy was going to get a piece of her mind when she got home. "I'm sorry, Johnny. I didn't want to upset you. Seems like it's all I ever do, doesn't it?" For a moment, she referred back to their only other meeting, when she had accused him for flirting with anything in a skirt for flirting's sake. But he wasn't likely to understand that reference at all.

"No, she wasn't. She was right." He finished packing the things up in the basket, feeling suddenly hollow inside, empty. He'd had high hopes for this date and he had no one to blame for its failure but himself. "I don't know what I'm doing. Fooling myself into thinking I can have a normal relationship when there's nothing normal about me."

Another thing Liv was that Lucy was not was tender-hearted. The younger Broderick twin was almost in tears listening to Johnny condemn himself so thoroughly, at a loss for anything to say to break him out of his gloom. "Please don't," she managed in a squeaking whimper of a voice. "Don't hurt yourself like this, it's horrible. No one deserves to feel that way about themselves." Her teeth bit deep into her lower lip, the pain pulling her a little from her sympathetic misery and into coherent thought. Not coherent enough, however.

"You should be telling this to Lucy," she said without thinking. "I shouldn't have heard any of this, I'm so sorry." Distressed by her intrusion on such a personal moment, Liv shook her head, backing away. "I can't do this, it's cruel. I ... I'll get her to call you, as soon as I get home. I'm so sorry, Johnny." She turned, beginning a hurried attempt at escape from the angry outburst she felt certain was coming now that she had totally given the game away.

"What?" He was pulled out of his own misery by her  confession, watching as she tried to make her escape, but instead of anger, he felt only confused. "You're not Lucy?" he asked, obviously surprised by this fact, but seemingly not angry. "You're her twin?" he guessed. There was no other explanation. He actually chuckled a little, mostly at his own stupidity and strangely, feeling a little relieved.

She couldn't run away, not when he was asking her a question, even if he was laughing. Coming to a halt, Liv braced herself to face the music, turning to face Johnny once again. She offered him a vaguely distressed, deeply guilty quirk of a smile, her hands waving without purpose as she shrugged. "I'm Olivia," she told him in a quiet, dull voice. "Lucy's going to kill me, but I can't lie. I'm not good at it, and I'm terrible at being comfortable with guys I fancy. You'd have guessed eventually anyway."

"God, I really am a jackass. Well, I guess you two got me good. Broderick Twins one, Johnny Storm zip." He sighed again, wondering which one had suffered more from his idiocy. "I guess I deserved it, huh?" Guys she fancied? Was she talking about him? No, she couldn't be. It was Lucy who liked him, wasn't it?

"Lucy thought you did," Liv confessed awkwardly, staring at her own feet as she spoke, grateful that he hadn't picked up on her unthinking confession. "She thinks you need to learn how not to flirt with anyone but the person you're with, and she's very persuasive when she wants to be. And I'm a soft touch. I should never have agreed to it, I'm really very sorry for all this."
[size=9:184a99ac32][color=darkblue:184a99ac32][i:184a99ac32][b:184a99ac32]I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being.[/b:184a99ac32][/i:184a99ac32][/color:184a99ac32][/size:184a99ac32]

Olivia Storm

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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2012, 10:13:20 AM »
"Person I'm with?" he repeated, brows furrowing. "But I'm not... We never... I thought she wanted..." He was babbling, confused again. Unless something had happened that he wasn't aware of, they hadn't decided to date exclusively, and the truth was he hadn't been with anyone since he'd met her. Oh, there had been a little harmless flirtation in the inn, but nothing had come of it. "You're Liv, not Lucy." He was starting to put two and two together. "You wear glasses? It was the hospital, wasn't it? That nurse. God, I was half drugged out of my mind, and she was coming on to me like jam on toast."

She nodded, still awkward, still uncomfortable, her cheeks dull red with shame and embarrassment and the prospect of explaining all this to her sister when she got home. It wasn't going to be a fun conversation. "I think so, yes," she said quietly. "Lucy thought you were making a fool of her. She's a bit ... ruthless sometimes, when she wants to make a point."

"I see." He frowned, lowering himself onto the park bench. So, she hadn't liked him after all. It had all been a ruse to teach him a lesson. Well, the joke was sure on him, wasn't it? "It's okay. You don't have to tell her, Olivia. Just tell her... just tell her I decided it wasn't gonna work. Tell her I broke it off. She doesn't have to know I know." He averted his gaze, feeling the old loneliness settling heavily on his heart, like a lead weight. If only things had been different. If he hadn't flirted with that nurse. If he'd met Olivia first. If he wasn't what he was.

Liv felt her heart sink again as Johnny slumped onto the bench. As much as she wanted to escape the sense of guilt and heavy burden that had settled on her, she knew she wouldn't be able to if she left him all alone with his misery now. After a long moment of fidgeting uncertainly, she reversed her course, sitting down beside him in quiet solidarity, her arm pressing to his. There was a moment more of silence, and she spoke, very quietly.

"I haven't lied to you except when I was talking about my sister Olivia. And even then, those weren't lies, they were just twisted." She sighed softly, wondering what was wrong with her. There was no way he would ever look at her the way he had when he'd thought she was Lucy. "If it helps at all, I think Lucy's going to rip all my hair out and use it as a duster."

What was she trying to say? She'd said she liked him, but she'd been pretending to be Lucy then. Had that been part of the ruse or not? Oh, what a tangled web we weave and all that crap. His temperature was a little cooler than usual, still warm, but not radiating as much heat as he normally did. "It's not your fault. Just tell her I figured it out on my own. If she loves you, she'll forgive you. She probably thinks I'm too stupid to figure it out. God, I'm such an idiot. I should have seen it sooner. You two are total opposites." He wanted to whack his head against the picnic table, knock some sense into himself. Even if he wanted to date the gentler twin, he couldn't now. Not without her sister hating them both.

"It is my fault," Liv insisted glumly, her hands tucking deep into her pockets as she watched her toes scuff against the grass next to his feet. "I should never have agreed to it in the first place. She's so full of it, she'll just laugh and go looking for a sex friend anyway." She shook her head again, tipping her head back to stare up at the sky. "I wouldn't have gotten involved if I hadn't been so pleased to see her again. Serves me right for assuming that I'd be able to stay neutral, I suppose. How was I supposed to know I'd fancy you more than she did? Is that fair?"

"You?" he asked, turning to face her, both brows lifting curiously. "What do you mean?" Lucy had alluded to wanting a sex friend, as Liv had so bluntly put it. Had he been foolish to want more? To want something more meaningful than just a few nights of pleasure? And here was this girl - this sweet, shy, honest, beautiful girl. What did she want, he wondered.  

"Oh God ..." Liv's eyes closed as her face lit up once again with a vivid blush, too shy of her own confession to look at him, much less acknowledge that he was looking at her. "I, um, well, you know ... I like you, I said I did. You don't have to believe me. Or like me. I mean, I know Lucy's the pretty one, she's always got guys interested in her. Not that I'm, you know, unbroken or anything, I've had boyfriends. Well, when I say boyfriends, I mean one, a while back. I say a while, about six years. Oh God, I'm babbling, I'm going to shut up and hope you don't laugh too loudly."

He just watched her, listening while she rambled on, taking it all in, like he had with her sister when she'd cracked herself open a little. Now that he could compare the two, he found himself wondering why Olivia considered herself to be the less desirable of the two. He tentatively reached out to touch her cheek. "You're just as pretty, Olivia. You don't give yourself enough credit."

He found them both attractive, both desirable in their own way. Lucy being fiercely independent and sure of what she wanted, flirtatious, sexy, assertive. Liv was the opposite but in no way less desirable. She was shy, sweet, almost innocent in a way, timid, gentle as a flower.

A gentle jump betrayed how unexpected she found the tentative touch of his hot hand to her burning cheek, her eyes opening to meet his gaze with a shy smile. "Oh, I guess I am now," she admitted with a shrug of one shoulder. "When I wear my contacts. I was one of those buck-toothed freaks at school - it sort of stuck with me." There was a pause as she looked at him awkwardly. "You don't need to pretend, you know. You like Lucy, it's obvious. I'm sure she likes you as well. I'll just stay out of the way."

"Liv, I hardly know her." It was the truth. He hardly knew either of them, and they hardly knew him, but he hadn't been lying when he'd berated himself earlier. He still worried he'd screw it up one way or another, or someone would get hurt, more than likely her. "I wish I'd met you first," he told her quietly, leaning a little bit closer, not wanting to toy with her heart the way her sister was toying with his, but drawn to her, nonetheless.

She smiled very faintly, shy but flattered by his quiet confession. "You wouldn't have looked twice at me," she told him with a certain amount of confidence. "I'm not brave enough to shout at anyone who tries to knock me down with their motorbike." An almost playful light touched her eyes as she met his gaze briefly, proving that at least Lucy had told her how it had all begun accurately.

"I didn't try to knock her down," he contradicted, his own blue eyes dancing a little as he smiled. "I was blinded by her beauty, which is a lot like yours." Okay, he was admittedly flirting now, but he was also being honest in his assessment. "What would you have done? Run away?" It would have been easy to kiss her, too easy. Instead, he let his hand drop, not wanting to push his luck too far. Her heart was one that he sensed was easily broken, and he didn't want that on his conscience.

Eyeing him with wary disbelief, her smile was touched with shy laughter at his suggestion that her looks were in any way blinding in a good way. "Probably," she admitted, lowering her gaze to her knees as her smile deepened. "Or fainted. Or cried. I'm a bit of a wimp, you might have noticed already."

"You're not a wimp. You're sweet." He glanced at the picnic basket and the blanket that was still spread out on the ground. The blanket he had thought he and Lucy might end up at least snuggling together on. He sighed. "This date has turned into a disaster. I at least owe you lunch or something."

"Um ..." She swallowed awkwardly, unconscious of the way she had begun to lean against his side as they talked, apparently innocent of anything artless in the motion. "I think you need to talk to Lucy before you decide if you want to spend time with me. It's only fair, right?"

"Yeah, I guess." He wasn't sure what he wanted anymore. He was aware of her beside him, but made no attempt to discourage her from leaning close. She wasn't Lucy, no. She was Olivia. And as much as he tried not to think about it, he felt heartsore knowing Lucy had played with his heart the way she had, whether intentionally or unintentionally. He glanced away again, wondering not for the first time why he was here, so far from home. A stranger in a strange land. "I guess I'll take you home."
[size=9:184a99ac32][color=darkblue:184a99ac32][i:184a99ac32][b:184a99ac32]I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being.[/b:184a99ac32][/i:184a99ac32][/color:184a99ac32][/size:184a99ac32]

Olivia Storm

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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 10:21:09 AM »
"... We didn't talk much on the way back," Liv concluded in a small voice from behind the cushion she was hugging tightly to her aching chest. "We did a lot of damage, Lucy. You should have seen his face; he was devastated."

"No, I did a lot of damage," her sister argued quietly, frowning as she absorbed the recounting of the date she'd sent her rather less man-hungry twin on. "You did the right thing, Liv. I'm sorry you had to. I'll fix it, I promise."

Liv shook her head, pressing her face into the cushion for a long moment before she spoke again. "Don't be angry with him," she murmured. "He likes you, Lucy. Just ... give him a chance, alright?"

Lucy's frown deepened as she looked back at her sister, younger by all of twelve minutes but a lifetime of emotional timidity. "What about you?" she asked, reaching over to stroke the dark fall of hair out of Liv's eyes. "You like him, too."

Pain flared for a moment in Liv's eyes, slightly resentful but resigned to living it through and moving on. "It doesn't matter," she said quietly. "He doesn't want me. Just don't string him along, Luce. If you want him, have him. If you don't, let him go, or I swear I will give you a black eye for your first day at the hospital, so help me."

Lucy snorted faintly, but she took her sister's threat seriously. Liv was the only person who'd ever landed a punch on her, and every time Lucy had walked away with some injury to prove that she was in the wrong. She'd made a big mistake this time, and in the process, she'd upset not just the man she'd been playing with, but her much loved twin as well. But it could be fixed, she was sure. It had to be.

[size=9]((Many thanks to Johnny's player for the scene sandwiched between my attempts at narrative clunkiness!))[/size]
[size=9:184a99ac32][color=darkblue:184a99ac32][i:184a99ac32][b:184a99ac32]I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being.[/b:184a99ac32][/i:184a99ac32][/color:184a99ac32][/size:184a99ac32]