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we form a tarot pack (and I'm aware of that)

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Kristen's been going to the same damn bowling alley every Saturday night for the past six months. You'd think she'd get better at her game but nope, no dice.

“Can't we just play pool tonight?” she asks her friends, as she always does. As always they squash that idea pretty fast.

“I’m good at pool,” Kristen mutters as they enter the building.

“Exactly,” CJ laughs.

Maybe Kristen just needs new friends.

They hang at a hole-in-the-wall bowling alley in Los Angeles that isn’t as flashy as the more modern joints, but it’s got super cheap booze and beer and that’s all Kristen really cares about. Sadly, she gets to stare longingly at the billiard tables off to the right as they enter. It's usually the same old crowd, and also some bowling leagues which makes this shit even more embarrassing. So she's surprised, when they venture over to their lane after renting shoes, that the space next to them tonight is not occupied by Marge, Harry and their two kids and instead by a trio of dudes who look like they could be frat boys.

Kristen groans and ditches finding a ball for getting a beer. When she returns the frat boys are even louder and more obnoxious, hooting and hollering, except one who looks like he wants to burn the universe down.

"Fuck off, it's still early, assholes," the dude says.

“Sure, Johnny, whatever you say," the one with blonde hair replies.

‘Johnny’ is tall and totally fit with dark hair beneath his backwards black cap and even darker eyes when they flicker to Kristen's for a moment. She sees his eyes widen briefly as she watches, taking a long chug from her clear plastic cup. Then he looks away just as fast.

“Kristen! You're up!” Suzie yells. Kristen groans.

Sure enough she gets a gutter ball and rolls her eyes when she turns back to everyone. Her eyes flitter over to the frat boys and she notices Johnny smiling a little, but not in a way that he's laughing at her misfortune. It’s more in an 'I totally knows what that feels like' kind of way. She knocks down one pin on her next roll, which elicits a sarcastic cheer from her friends.

“Fuck you all,” Kristen says cheerfully, bouncing back to her seat and pounding back more of her beer. She turns her head and sees that Johnny is up. Kristen gets a view of his ass as he determinedly takes his turn, and damn it's a nice sight. Then he gets a gutter too and curses up a storm. Kristen laughs loudly and his eyes cut over towards her, face flushing with embarrassment, which is ridiculous.

She raises her cup to him in solidarity and watches the corner of his mouth quirk upward.

He knocks down three pins on the next try and blonde hair dude says, “Oooh show-off,” and then nods in Kristen's direction. Kristen scoffs and makes a jerk off motion to the dude. Johnny looks even more embarrassed, if possible.

“Shut up, Kaner,” he mumbles, taking his seat again, which is basically right on the other side of the divider from Kristen. She watches him raise his beer (from the bottle, look at him, all fancy) to his lips.

“Uh, sorry about that,” comes a quiet voice and Kristen startles when she realizes it belongs to Johnny. It's softer than she thought it'd be, and a bit mumbly.

Kristen shrugs one shoulder, looking at him. “No biggie, man. I ignore fratboys like I do Justin Beiber songs.”

Johnny makes a hilariously offended face. "We're not frat boys. Well, I think Kaner tried to be at some point? But it didn't take."

Kristen laughs. "Uh-huh, okay, so what are you? Beverly Hills hipsters? I think not.”

Johnny flushes some more. “No uh, just. Just in college, I guess. Not. Not one thing. We go to Cal State.”

Kristen squints at him. “So do I.”

“Seriously?”

“Yep. 3rd year English major, minoring in creative writing.”

Johnny smiles. “Senior in Nutritional Science.”

“Huh. You some fitness nut?”

Johnny pulls another face. “I'm into it, yeah. I'd like to be a nutritionist, actually. And maybe a personal trainer. Doing the certificate program in Sports Nutrition, too.”

Kristen hums. “I eat right and exercise but I don't like, consciously always think about it?”

Johnny nods. “Some people, like, their body chemistry makes it easy for them not to. But for a lot it's just a general struggle of making the right choices and maintaining.”

Kristen likes listening to this guy talk. He's sounds pretty fucking smart, something she wouldn't have thought given her first impression of him as some dumb frat boy.

She realizes they're just sort of staring at each other when Alicia kicks her ankle. “Earth to KStew. You're fucking up, man.”

Kristen flushes and stands, wiping her hands on her thighs nervously.

Johnny raises one eyebrow slowly, the corners of his mouth tugged up in a grin. “KStew?”

“Kristen Stewart, at your service,” she says, saluting him.

Johnny laughs. “Johnny Toews, nice to meet you.”

He actually puts his hand out for her to shake. Kristen laughs in his face and turns to grab her ball. She makes a whole show of it, running and throwing it down the lane. She knocks down four pins.

“Damn, Stewie, that might be a new record,” Suzie calls out obnoxiously. “You showin’ off?”

Kristen flips her off and looks to Johnny, who is grinning.

“Yo, Tazer. You're up,” the guy he called Kaner calls out.

“Tazer?” she mouths to him, wanting to roll her eyes at all these dumb nicknames, except that’d sort of make her a hypocrite. He shrugs. Kristen watches him as he goes, laughing loudly when he rolls the ball between his legs. It inches down the lane and he actually knocks down like six pins.

“Oh my god dude, now you knock them down? You're hopeless,” says the dude with dark hair.

“Maybe you're his good luck charm!” Kaner yells over at Kristen.

Kristen does rolls her eyes this time. “Yeah, I'm sure that's it.”

“Superstitions are stupid,” Johnny mumbles, elbowing Kaner in the side.

Johnny sits back down near Kristen and she's stupidly happy about it. She glances at her friends who are all waggling their eyebrows in time because they are the most embarrassing humans alive.

“Bowling is dumb,” Johnny says, taking a long pull from his bottle.

"Yes! Thank you! See?” She turns to CJ. “This man speaks my language!"

CJ snorts. “And what language is that?”

“A dirty one, probably,” Suzie says, sounding totally disinterested.

"Please, there are children present!" Alicia gasps, mock scandalized.

Kristen feels her face flush. “Fuck off. He thinks that bowling sucks, too.”

She turns back to Johnny and high-fives him. His eyes are shining and his mouth is twisted in a dumb smile.

Suzie snorts. “Come off it, Stewie, you love it. You just hate that you're not good at it.”

“Well, duh,” Kristen says, draining the rest of her beer. “I'm good at like, everything else and all you ever wanna do is this.”

Johnny makes a noise of agreement. “Right? Like, I don’t know why anyone would say they’re proud to be a good bowler. I don’t think that’s a thing you brag about, when it comes down to acquired skills and shit like that.”

“Exactly!”

CJ and Alicia let out a collective groan.

Suzie waves her arm around. “The bowling leagues here would beg to disagree.”

Kristen snorts. “Whatever, I'm great at like, soccer, tennis, golf, pool. Those things are far more superior than bowling.”

Johnny's nodding like a bobble head. "Hockey, football, both also highly superior."

Kristen tilts her head at him. "You play?"

Johnny shrugs. “High school.”

“Jock,” Kristen teases.

“Yeah, well. I am taking Sports Nutrition.”

Kristen laughs. “Point.”

“I'm gonna get another beer.” He says, waving his empty bottle. “Can I get you something?”

“Another Bud, man? And fries!”

Johnny laughs. “Okay, be right back.”

Kristen sits back in her seat, tucking her knees up to her chest, smiling to herself.

CJ moves into the seat beside her and bumps her with his shoulder.

“Shut up,” she says before he can even start.

He holds up his hands but there's an evil grin on his lips.

“What? I'm just wondering when you're gonna thank me for dragging you here tonight.”

“Never,” Kristen replies at the same time Alicia says, “After she gets laid.”

“Shhh,” Kristen says, eying Johnny's friends. The Kaner dude is smirking at her and giving her a thumbs up. The dark-haired dude, who maybe resembles Johnny a little but definitely isn’t as hot, looks a little less inviting.

Just great. Maybe she's back in high school right now.

“That boy is fine,” CJ sighs mournfully, looking back to where Johnny is getting his order taken.

Kristen turns her head, sneaking a peek. He really is, is the thing. Kristen's stupidly into the way his jeans cling to his ass and the way his shirt clings to his abs, and just -- there’s a lot of clinging going on, for sure.

It's Kristen's turn and she heads up determinedly, body tense, thinking about how much she'd love to get Johnny's pecs under her palms. When she releases the ball, it flies down the lane. She’s turned around before it reaches its destination and then freezes, because that was definitely a loud crash. Johnny's just come back and his eyes are wide.

“Yeah!” he yells, and Kristen turns to see a strike.

“Holy shit.”

Both her friends and Johnny’s clap up a storm and Kristen bows exaggeratedly before flipping them all off.

“That was awesome.” Johnny says, all smiles as he hand her her food and drink.

“Thanks, man. How much do I owe you?”

Johnny shakes his head. “Nothing. Consider it my gift for this milestone.”

Kristen laughs, popping a fry in her mouth. “Well, gracias.”

“You gonna let her show you up?” Kaner says when its his turn and Johnny rolls his eyes, scoffing, before looking Kristen dead in the eye and then racing up the lane, throwing the ball dead center and getting a strike himself.

His friends are stunned into silence, her friends are snickering, and Kristen's just staring at how hot that actually was. Then she'd like to die because, what? She just found bowling hot? This is a new low, even for her.

He mouths ‘for you’ to her and fuck if want doesn't course through her body, her nerve endings singing.

Kristen clears her throat when Johnny sits back down beside her.

“Nice job.”

He smiles softly, ducking his head a little. It’s stupidly cute.

“So, creative writing, huh?”

Kristen blinks at the non-sequitur. “Yeah,” she says, dragging a hand through her hair and offering him a fry. He takes one. “Poetry. Always been pretty into it.”

Johnny hums. “Recite me one of your poems?”

Kristen stares at him before a nervous laugh bubbles out of her. “Uh, I dunno, man, I have a lot? And they’re all kind of long?”

Johnny waves his hand. “Just part of one then,” he says easily, and then bites his lip. “Um, I mean, only if you want to. I know those things can be like -- personal.”

Kristen smiles. “If it isn’t personal, it isn’t worth doing, man.”

They look at one another for a moment and Kristen swallows, captivated by his eyes and how it seems like he’s trying to figure out how she ticks.

“Okay, uh. Here’s the end of a recent one.” Kristen takes another gulp of beer.

“One honest day up on this freedom pole
Devils not done digging
Hes speaking in tongues all along the
pan handle
And this pinion erosion is getting dust in
My eyes
And Im drunk on your morsels
And so I look down the line
Your every twitch hand drum salute
Salutes mine …”

She looks at him the whole time and then wonders why she chose this damn poem of all ones. Johnny’s eyes grow soft during it and his expression is far too open by the time she finishes that she needs to look away.

“Yeah, so, there’s that.”

“Cool,” he says softly, almost like it’s punched out of him.

Her mouth twists. “Nah, it’s fucking crazy.” Kristen feels way too vulnerable now and glances away, downing some more beer.

“I don’t think so,” Johnny says quietly before there’s a fury of activity and she realizes his game is over. The dude that looks similiar to him is saying they’re gonna head to a bar near campus.

“Yeah, sounds good, Davey,” Johnny replies.

“Uh, excuse me,” he mumbles and she watches him get up. Kristen shakes off a flash of disappointment.

“Hey, so, uh. We're heading out,” Johnny says, standing beside where she's sitting after he's returned his shoes.

“Cool,” Kristen nods, putting her hand out for a fistbump. “Good game, man.”

Johnny frowns a little and then bumps her back. “Um, yeah. So, uh.” He runs his fingers through his hair. “So, um. Maybe I'll see you around campus,” he finished lamely.

Kristen feels any hope she had deflate because what the hell is that? Their campus is huge and they've certainly never met before.

“Yeah, maybe,” she responds, trying to sound casual.

“Okay,” Johnny says, shuffling on his feet. “Okay, nice meeting you,” he says, holding her gaze before looking towards her friends. “Bye,” he says with a little wave

They all say some variation of ‘See ya, man’ and then he's gone, heading towards the door, his friends trailing behind him.

Kristen leans back against the chair and closes her eyes, letting out a groan.

“Forgot my phone, be right there!” she hears and then turns when someone taps her on the shoulder. It's Kaner.

“Hey, uh. Listen, Johnny's really terrible at making a first move, okay? He like, literally can't. Like it’s not in his genetic makeup or something.”

“Okay,” Kristen says slowly. "Soooo.."

Kaner sighs. It's hilarious that she doesn't even know his real name yet.

“Soooo,” he mocks, “you should totally follow me out there and pick him up.”

Kristen barks out a laugh and hears snickering to her right.

“Shut up, losers,” she says to her friends, before turning back to Kaner. “Uh, dude, I'm not exactly the first move type either.”

Kaner throws his hands up on the air. “Great, you're both awkward dorks,” he exclaims, exasperated. “Look, in two seconds he's gonna waltz through that door and yell ‘Shake a leg, Kaner,’ because he's just that cool, so whaddya say?”

Kristen eyes him skeptically.

Kaner sighs loudly. “I swear this won’t end in you getting laughed at by our dumb asses, okay?”

Thing is, she totally believes him. Kristen chugs the rest of her beer and follows him towards the door while CJ yells, “Get it in, son!”

High-fucking-school.

“Hey, look who I found!” Kaner yells obnoxiously when they get outside. Johnny's leaning against the passenger side of a black four-door. His arms are crossed over his chest, cuffs of his shirt clinging (again with the clinging) to his stupidly big biceps. When he sees Kristen he straightens up immediately.

“Uh,” Johnny says intelligently and Kristen doesn't doubt that Kaner really wasnt joking about this dude having no game.

“Yo,” Kristen says, walking up to him with Kaner, who then tugs their other friend a few feet away. He might be a cool dude, at that.

Johnny runs his hand through his hair. “Uh, sorry if he said any-”

“Shut up, dude,” Kristen laughs, smiling up at him before taking a deep breath. “Okay, now’s the moment when you ask me if I wanna do anything of those things we named before that are less lame than bowling.”

Johnny looks surprised for a second and then there's a smug little smile tugging at his lips. It shouldn't be so stupidly attractive.

“What if I said mini golf?” he asks skeptically.

Kristen nods, smile widening. “Mini golf is totally superior to bowling, man.”

Johnny looks pleased and chews on his bottom lip, thoughtfully. “What if I said bowling, but just the two of us since we both suck anyway?”

Kristen shakes her head. “I'd say be more original for a second date, rather than repeating the first.”

Johnny raises an eyebrow. “This was a first date?”

She nods solemnly. “It was to me.”

“Why's that?” Johnny asks, sounding amused.

Kristen steps in close and looks up at him, takes in how his cheeks are a little red, his mouth slightly parted. “Because I don't kiss on a first date,” Kristen whispers, bringing her hand up just above his elbow, stroking the skin there. She fees him shiver a little beneath her touch. “But I do on the second.”

Kristen watches in satisfaction as Johnny swallows hard.

“Um. Okay, that works.”

She laughs in delight. “Just gimme your phone number already, Johnny.”

He does.

On her way back inside Kristen is forced to revise her current stance on bowling; maybe it's not so bad after all.

[end]