'And you know you're going to fall' -White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane.
It’s grey and rainy for most of the ten-hour drive from Virginia to Boston, and Darcy tries to not take that as some kind of bad omen for the move. She was already out of her comfort zone accepting a job in a city where she didn’t know a single soul; she really doesn’t appreciate the weather mocking her life choices.
The rain is mostly finished by the time she parks the small U-Haul in front of her new building and pull out the keys to the apartment she fell in love with through pictures online. She’s not much for religion, but as she hefts a couple of boxes out of the truck, she sends up a prayer that her new landlord hasn’t sold her a bill of goods. Darcy manages to get through the front door, side-eyeing the stairs and grimacing at the thought of carrying all of her shit up six flights. She bypasses the stairs in favor of the elevator, feeling stabby and kind of close to tears when she sees the ‘Out of Order’ sign taped to it.
“Get a grip, Darcy,” she mutters, turning back for the stairs. Darcy shifts the boxes in her arms and the top one teeters off and crashes to the floor, spilling books across the worn tiles. “Godfuckingdammit!” she hisses along with a litany of other curses as she kneels down to gather up her books.
There’s a rumble of laughter and heavy footsteps on the stairs as a deep voice calls out, “Need a hand with that?”
Darcy narrows her eyes and discreetly slips the taser out of her bag. “Maybe. Depends on who’s asking,” she says coolly, haphazardly tossing books back into the box.
Part of her is already regretting accepting the job and moving to Boston on her own. Her unexpected companion stops in front of her and she sees his feet first: well-worn and scuffed work boots beneath faded blue jeans. Her eyes flick up to see which resident of her building was nice enough to offer to help, and the shallow part of her tells her that Boston was the right choice. He’s gorgeous— dark hair, clear blue eyes, light stubble on his face, and an awesome ‘Bluth’s Frozen Banana’ t-shirt stretched across his very well-built frame. “Nice shirt,” she says.
His lips twitch into a smirk that’s sexier than it ought to be. “Thanks.” He squats down and plucks the taser from her grip. “You know these are illegal right?”
“What are you, a cop?” she snaps, snatching the taser back.
“Yup,” he replies, picking up the box of books and standing.
“Bullshit.” His left eyebrow arches impressively and he reaches into his back pocket for his badge. She leans in for a closer look and sees that it’s legit. “Fuck me,” she mutters.
He chuckles and tucks the badge back in his pocket. “We only just met, sweetheart, but…”
“Bite me, pig!” she snaps, eyes widening over her mouth getting away from her as usual. She snorts when her brain registers what she really said and giggles behind her hand. “S’funny ‘cause you’re a cop.”
The man rolls his eyes and shifts the box under his arm. “Yuk it up, buttercup. You want my help or not?”
“You know what, it’s a shitty day. You’re hired,” Darcy smiles and offers him her hand. “Darcy Lewis.”
“Colin Shea,” he says with a nod, shaking her hand. “Where’m I taking this?”
There’s a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as he stands outside 6C watching his cute new neighbor dig around in her bag for the keys. He hasn’t been inside that place for a year at least. Not since Ally put the final nail in the coffin of their relationship by telling him she’d met someone else. And it’s not that he’s harboring all these lingering feelings for her, but walking into her old apartment is just going to stir up a bunch of ghosts he’d honestly rather stay dead and buried.
Darcy’s hand shakes as she slips the key into the lock and she huffs out an exasperated breath. “Somethin’ wrong with your key?” he asks. She turns, eyes wide open and shiny with the threat of tears. Well, fuck. Tears are never good.
“What if this place is a shithole? I fell in love with pictures online, but what if it’s really some former crack den I’m renting from a Boston slumlord?”
He doesn’t mean to laugh, honestly, but she’s being a bit ridiculous and the worried look on her face is part pathetic and wholly adorable. “It’s not a shithole,” he assures her.
Colin rolls his eyes and reaches past her to turn the key. “See for yourself,” he tells her and opens the door.
Darcy walks inside and switches on the light. “Oh my god!” she exclaims, looking around intently. “It’s even better than the pictures! When does that happen, ever?” Setting down the box in her hands, she hurries down the stairs, turning towards the kitchen. There’s a high-pitched squeal from the other room quickly followed by clapping and jumping up and down. “I love it!”
He’s rooted to his spot on the stairs. Not that there’s any need to look around; he knows what the place looks like. Hell, he all but lived here for a while. Darcy whizzes past him in a blur of dark-haired excitement for the bedroom and more delighted squeals soon follow. Her excitement is cute and all that, but he’d really rather not spend the rest of his evening in his ex’s apartment if he can help it. “Where d’you want this box?” he calls out.
“Shit!” she snaps, hurrying out of the bedroom, waving her hands apologetically. “Sorry, sorry. I got so excited about the place I forgot you were even here.”
Her admission startles a derisive laugh out of him. “Gee, thanks.”
“Sorry,” she giggles, taking the box from him. “I appreciate the help.”
Colin folds his arms across his chest and nods. “Is that all you brought?”
She shifts the box awkwardly and finally puts it down next to the other box. “Of course not. I’ve got a U-Haul downstairs.”
“Of course you do,” he says evenly. “Well, let’s get to it then. I don’t have all night.”
Darcy’s eyes narrow and she fists her hands on her hips. “You don’t have to help. It’s not like it’s your civic duty or anything. I can handle it myself.”
“Sure thing, sweetheart,” he chuckles. “You carryin’ furniture up six flights of stairs? This I gotta see.” There’s still a stubborn set to her jaw, but he does see a bit of the wind go out of her sails.
“I had a plan. I was promised a working elevator when I put my deposit down.”
“Hate it to break it to ya, 6 C, but you were lied to. That damn thing is out of order more than half the time,” he laughs again when her face falls and she glares back at him. She’s way too young for him, but she’s pretty fucking cute—all sassy and indignant like she is. “C’mon. Let’s get you moved in.”
It doesn’t take long to get her stuff brought upstairs. She didn’t bring much with her and the only thing that posed even the slightest bit of a challenge was the brand new mattress and box spring that she splurged on before leaving Virginia. It’s not that the mattress was heavy by any means, but it was big and awkward and both she and Colin kept swearing when the thing slipped out of her grasp on nearly every turn up the stairs. At one point she started yelling “Pivot!” like Ross Geller and Colin laughed so hard he tripped and dropped his end, sending the mattress sliding halfway down the stairs. They sat there laughing like idiots for five minutes until a tenant on the fourth floor opened up the door and hollered at them to “shut the fuck up already.”
“Don’t mind that guy,” Colin says. “He tried to marry his dog.” Darcy laughs until she can’t breathe and the guy yells at them again.
Maybe it should be weird, having this stranger in her space, helping her move her stuff, but the only thing she feels is gratitude. Sparsely furnished or not, she doesn’t want to think about how she would have realistically managed moving in on her own.
“That should do it,” Colin says as he walks into her bedroom with the last of the boxes. He sets them on her dresser and the box on top topples over onto the floor. “Shit!” he hisses as the contents scatter over the hardwood. “M’sorry!”
There’s no sound of glass shattering or anything else breaking, so Darcy just shrugs as she sets down her suitcase and cranes her neck to see which box fell. She’s absolutely mortified when she sees items from her nightstand—namely her pink vibrator—rolling across the floor. Darcy moves quickly to kick it out of his line of sight, but from the shit-eating grin on his face she knows her attempt was futile.
“Too late. Already saw it,” he says, eyebrow ticking up.
“Big fucking deal. I masturbate, okay?” Darcy snaps, bending over to retrieve the vibrator from the floor. “Thanks for the help. You can go now.”
“It certainly is pink.”
Darcy’s face burns hotly and she tosses the vibrator into an open box. “You know where the door is.”
“And…sparkly,” he grins crookedly, stuffing his hands into his pockets.
“How much time would I have to serve for beating you to death with it?”
“Ooh, kinky. I like you.”
“Colin!” she hisses, stomping her foot on the floor.
He throws his head back and laughs, clapping a hand over his chest. “Okay, okay, I’ll go. I’m sure you’d like to unpack and relax,” he says, making air quotes with his fingers.
“Alright, neighborly bonding time is over now,” Darcy says tartly, grabbing his arm and tugging him along through the apartment. He’s still laughing when they reach the door and she manages to not assault the policeman by kicking him in the shin.
“I really do appreciate your help though,” she tells him, pulling open the door and smiling softly. “I don’t know how I would have managed by myself, so thanks.”
“My pleasure, Sparkles.”
Darcy rolls her eyes and huffs out a laugh in spite of herself. “See ya ‘round, Barney Fife.”
Colin’s face splits into a crooked grin, shaking his head as he backs out of her apartment. “I reject that nickname.”
“You do that,” she smiles and wags her fingers at him. “Thanks again!” she says, closing the door and flipping the deadbolt.
She turns and leans back against the closed door.
The apartment feels far too empty now and the first thing Darcy does is fish her iPod out of her bag. The second is plugging her computer in to charge. “It’s you and me now, kid,” she says to her laptop, running her fingers over the top. She turns on her ‘Old Hot Rockers’ playlist and bounces around the apartment with excess energy, exploring the empty bathroom cabinets and the kitchen cupboards, dancing around in circles to the music playing in her ears.
Maybe this whole being a grown up thing isn’t so bad.
Upon closer inspection, Darcy sees that whatever cleaning service the landlord used did a half-assed job and the bathroom and kitchen still need work. She finds a box with cleaning supplies and cranks up the volume, singing along while she cleans.
Darcy cleans until the apartment sparkles and the battery is nearly flat on her iPod. She tugs the earbuds out and her ears ring in the sudden silence. In the bedroom, Darcy digs through a box to find the charger, and her fingers brush against her vibrator. A blush heats her cheeks and she tries not to think about her hot neighbor’s shit-eating grin from earlier.
She showers off the grime of moving day, thrilled to learn that while her building may not have a working elevator half the time, there’s no shortage of hot water or strong water pressure. Her phone buzzes on the counter as she’s stepping out of the shower. Wrapping a towel around her body, she sees another text from her mother and ignores it. Palming her phone, she pads back into her bedroom to find pajamas.
Sitting down on the unmade bed, Darcy drags her laptop across the bed and switches it on. She roots through her purse and finds a cereal bar to nibble on, making a mental note to buy groceries tomorrow. The room is quiet but for the chiming of her laptop; it’s a little unnerving. Once her laptop boots up, she turns on some music and a message pops up.
None of your trusted wireless networks can be found. Would you like to join the wireless network named "My Neighbors Suck”?
"Yes, yes I would like that very much," Darcy mutters to herself, a smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. She pauses for a half second, thinking about who she’s about to steal WiFi from, but she shrugs and does it anyway. "Alright, Officer Shea, let's see what you’ve been up to."