Sofya was a plain woman who did plain things. She wore her plain brown hair in a pony tail and wore plain jeans and a plain button down shirt over her plain tank top. Plain gray boots graced her average feet. Nothing about her was remarkable. She worked an average job at a average bookstore. She lived a plain and average life in a simple small town.
She expected that eventually she would fall in love with someone equally plain and average and they would have a plain and average wedding, small but not too small with their plain and average family. She would eventually live the ever so plain American life. Maybe have some kids, trade the simple apartment over the real estate office in for a boxy mobile home in the park at the north edge of town and raise kids who would end up being just as average as she was.
The only thing unique about her was her name. It was a old Russian name that had often been passed around the family, meaning something along the lines of 'wise woman'. With a name like that, she should be smart and quick witted. She was not. That was just one more area where she was plain and average.
She got up for work in the mornings, left her plain apartment and got a perfectly mundane cup of coffee on the way to her average job. This was her plain and average life where little changed in it. The world around her changed and sometimes those things were exciting for some people. New buildings went up, old ones went down. New business came and some didn't stay long. Storms rolled in and rolled out. The sun came up and the sun came down.
It was perfectly plain, living in a small town. They were just a hour and a half from Phoenix and many often made the trip for entertainment. Sometimes visiting performers would stay in the small town, away from the city, seeking something perfectly plain and average for themselves. The townspeople worked hard to give them just that, a perfectly plain visit to a perfectly plain small town.
She never paid the celebrities any mind beyond sometimes overhearing the whispered names. It didn't matter, not really. Sofya had her books and her music and so it was rare she even would be able to put a face to a name. It made it easy for her to overlook the notoriety of some of her guests at work, when to her they were all just a part of her perfectly average day.
On this particular average winter day, Sofya was running late. A windstorm had knocked out the power to her apartment and her cellphone had run dead. In her purse it sat, connected to a battery back slowly regaining life. She was at least able to call her boss who insisted she still stop and get a coffee to go on her way in. While she was perfectly plain and average, she like most needed a cup of coffee before she was fit to deal with customers.
The line at the cafe was long. Between that and running late, she should have guessed that she wasn't in for a perfectly average day but unfortunately, she was clueless. When she reached the front of the line, she ordered her plain mocha and expected the rest of her day to be perfectly average. Nothing of note every happened to her, beyond occasionally running late for work. Maybe if she would have just acknowledged that this day wasn't a perfectly plain and average day, she wouldn't have been so shocked by the events that were to come when she sat and took them in, a few short weeks later.
Sofya turned and waved at the barista as she walked out of the cafe door. It was something she had done countless times before without anything happening. Today however, just as she began to turn forward again she collided with a mass of a person. The lid on her cup popped off and brown liquid sloshed and spilled down her arm, all over the jacket and shirt of the person she had walked into and onto her tan sweater dress. The heat from the burn caused her to drop the cup instantly, where it joined the man's cup on the ground.
“Shit! I'm so sorry!” She wiped at the spilled coffee on his shirt, clinging to his frame in a way that was hinting at what was underneath before realizing she was now essentially rubbing her hand on a stranger's wet abs and chest. A blush exploded across her face as she stepped back, hitting the door behind her and finally looking at the man who's clearly expensive suit she had just ruined.
“No, Darling. I must apologize, I was not looking where I was going. The bloody phone had me distracted.” Reaching out, he took her hand in his, examining it as it began to turn red from the hot coffee spilled on it. “Are you alright?”
“I'm...” Distracted. He was beautiful and his accent was like music in her ears. His long fingers pushed the sleeve of her dress up, finding where the redness ended while she dumbly kept her eyes on his face. Shaggy curly hair shifted with the wind and dark rimmed glasses added to his charm. When he looked up from her arm she could swear her perfectly plain heart skipped a beat at his bright blue eyes that were anything but average.
“Darling, let's get this under some cold water.” His hand was so warm as he softly wrapped around hers and before she could really think to protest, he was dragging her back into the cafe.
“Sof?” The barista called, startled to see her friend being pulled back into the shop behind a man.
“We've had a bit of a spill. Do you perhaps have somewhere we can wash up? I'd like to get some cool water on her burn too.” The man spoke up, still holding her hand in his. He was mindful to keep pressure off the reddened skin.
“Just around back.” The blonde barista pointed and Sofya found herself being pulled along behind the man again. He was tall and wore a dark blue suit that seemed to hug him, even where it wasn't plastered on with quickly cooling coffee.
“I'm alright.” Sofya managed to finally say as he opened the washroom door and pulled her in. The door clicked shut behind her as he turned open the tap.
“It's okay. I'm okay, really.” She protested as he shoved her sleeve up and put her arm under the water. She couldn't argue that it felt good on the heated flesh but really, his shirt was far more damaged than she was and he had to have been burned too. “Are you okay?”
“I'm truly very sorry about that spill, Miss?” He looked down at her with concern clear on his face, disregarding her question in favor of asking his own. His beard was neatly trimmed short giving him a warm fuzzy look that softened the sharpness of his high and pronounced cheekbones.
“Sofya.” Manners couldn't be ignored for long. “Really, it was my fault. Your shirt must be ruined?”
“Sofya? That's a beautiful name.” Her face felt warmer than her burned hand at that moment. “As for my shirt, no worse than your dress. I do believe we are at least even in that.”
He laughed and she was captivated. He had a fleeting chuckle that seemed to light up his entire being. It was mesmerizing and she couldn't look away. For how plain and average she was, he was everything she was not and could never hope to be. Just standing with him made her feel small.
Yet somehow, she was now alone with him in a bathroom. That thought hit her like a ton of bricks. They were alone. In a bathroom. And she didn't even know his name. If it felt like her face was burning before, it was clear on fire now as he took a wet wad of paper towels and dabbed at his shirt, only succeeding in making more of the fabric translucent and clingy before giving up.
“Where have my manners run off to? I'm Tom.” Tom took her hand in his and examined the redness as he spoke. “It's looking better already, thank goodness.”
When he smiled at her again, her brain short circuited. Surely she should say something. Words were a thing still used to convey meanings, right? If she tried hard enough, maybe she could even say one. Words became very hard. What were words again? She suddenly remembered coffee cup on the ground, next to hers outside.
“Let me at least replace your coffee?” Her little town didn't have anywhere she could replace his shirt but coffee? She could manage that much. He looked surprised before another wide smile graced his face, as if the thought was the best thing he had heard all day. She couldn't fathom why, she was just a painfully plain woman with a coffee stained tan sweater dress.
“Yeah, let's get coffee. I'm sure this is better than what the hotel had to offer anyway.”
Standing in line with him she felt the eyes on them. She couldn't really blame them, he was tall and imposing, yet seemed to radiate warmth. Even if he was cold as stone, she was sure all eyes would be on him, just because of how handsome he was alone. She wondered for a moment what he would look like clean shaven.
“You're a local?” He asked, when the silence drew on as the line slowly moved forward.
“Grew up here, yeah. Never really left.” She shrugged, feeling insecure under his gaze.
“It's a nice little town. I can see why people come visit.”
“You're from overseas?” She needed to change the subject or they would stand in silence again. Stating the obvious was the best she could come up with. She wasn't worth talking about, not worth spending the time on. She was just plain, average, forgettable.
“Ah, yes. I live in London. But I travel a lot for work.”
When she asked him what sort of work he did, he was caught off guard and all he could do was laugh. It was another whole body laugh and she watched as his tongue peeked out, pinched between his teeth. It was physically painful to look away when Sara, the barista asked for her order with a smile full of mirth on her face.
She quickly ordered and motioned for Tom to do so as well. His voice made even something as everyday as a coffee order sound nearly musical. It was a sin. It was magical. She couldn't look away as the Sara read off the total. Because of how distracted she was, she was slow in grabbing her wallet out of her purse.
Tom was faster than she was however and when she looked up he was far closer to her than she expected and was holding out a credit card, which Sara was quick to take.
“Wait, no let me-” Her protests were cut off.
“Too slow.” He countered as Sara swiped the card.
“Tom Hiddleston. I wonder, it's almost like I've heard that name before.” Sara was hardly containing her laughter as she watched confusion dance across her friend's face. “Sof, you better call me tonight!”
“Am I in trouble?”
“No, just clueless.” This was rich, the best entertainment Sara had in months and unlike Sof, she actually watched movies. This did out do the entertainment she got out of watching the latest Avengers movie, seeing the man himself in her little town. She handed the card and receipt slip back for him to sign as she set about making the drinks.
“What was that about?” Sofya asked as they stood aside.
“No clue.” Tom smiled as he collected the drinks.
“I could have gotten it. It's the least I could do for ruining your shirt.”
“Maybe I'd rather your company as repayment for the shirt? Regardless, your dress took some of the spill as well. We are even, both down a garment.” Tom waved away her concern. “Perhaps you can tell me how you fill your time? What is there to do around here? I've got a few days to fill.” His smile was so painfully warm.
“Mostly I just work.” She shrugged, sipping her mocha.
“What do you do for work.”
“Just at a bookstore. Nothing special.” Tom stopped in his tracks.
“Bookstores are always a special place. You're lucky to spend your days surrounded by the hopes and dreams of others.” Again he smiled that blinding smile. “What about when you're not working?”
It was odd how he kept the conversation on her. She was boring, plain, average. Surely he had more interesting things he could talk about. Surely he had better things to be doing than walking with her.
“Hiking, normally. When I'm not reading.”
“Would you believe it if I told you I've never been?” She laughed at him and he watched as her honey brown hair danced around her in the wind.
“I would. You scream City Boy. City Boys have better things to do, more interesting things normally.” It was so odd to him, the offhanded way she put the idea aside.
“Maybe,” For the first time he hesitated and she couldn't begin to understand why. “you could take me, Sofya?”
She looked like a gaping fish for a moment. Her jaw unhinged and clamped shut silently. No sound came out as she repeated the action a few times before managing to utter, “What?”
“Hiking? You, me, ideally together?” His smile was so warm, she couldn't refuse him and so she did the next sensible thing: she grabbed onto the first excuse not to.
“You can't go hiking in a suit.” And he laughed at her.
“I didn't mean right this second and I don't just wear suits. Maybe tomorrow?” The warmth of his hand startled on her back startled her and brought her back to reality.
“Yeah.” She nodded, feeling dumb. “Yeah, sure. Okay. Hiking. Tomorrow. Make sure you wear boots.”
“Wonderful. I'll meet you at the cafe, just name the time?”
“Half past nine, is that okay?”
“I'll be looking forward to it, Sofya.”
Sofya spent the rest of her day in a daze. Oddly enough, it progressed just as it normally would. She saw the same plain customers, had the same plain lunch and went home to her average apartment. Yet, she couldn't get her mind off Tom. He was everything she wasn't and she hardly knew him. Somehow his warm smile and bright eyes convinced her to go out on the trails alone with him. It was a stupid move, that was how painfully plain girls die first in horror movies.
Yet, she was excited just the same. The whole situation was so oddly abnormal that a part of her was sure she would wake up and find it had been a dream. Or, more than likely that she would make it to the cafe to only be stood up. Surely, someone so beautiful as him would realize she was just plain as could be.
With a sigh, she pulled out her phone and called Sara. She waited as it rang and ran before her friend answered.
“So, Tom?” Sara didn't even bother with a 'hi' or 'how are you'.
“Tom.” Sofya was lost at to the point of the conversation. “What about him?”
“You're seriously clueless?”
“I'm not sure what I'm missing.”
“What all happened with him?” Sara quickly changed tactic. Sofya didn't know who the attractive man was and he would be more than happy to enjoy this show for so long as it lasted as long as her friend didn't get hurt in the process.
Sofya told her friend about the hiking trip and their short shared walk. She was chastised for not getting his phone number. She was finally allowed to go to sleep with the promise of reporting on any and all events during the hiking trip.
Tom made a trip into Phoenix, as much as he didn't want to go into the city that evening. A wide smile was almost always on his face and he was in high spirits as the shop clerk set about assisting him in selecting boots that would give sure footing on any trail. He'd spend the next few hours wearing them to break them in and if he was lucky he could avoid sore feet and blisters.
With his good spirits, he was more than happy to humor any fan that crossed his path. It had been a good long while since he had so much energy and joy at these simple random encounters with his fans. While it was always good to see them, it was often draining. Now, he was more than happy to have a distraction, a way to pass the time and share his good mood.
When he made it back to his hotel that night, he was eager to sleep. Unloading his pockets on the table, he kicked off his shoes and set aside his jacket. He was looking forward seeing Sofya again and wondered how her day had gone.
With a glance at his phone he frowned. The woman had captivated him instantly. As much as he wanted to send a simple text message to Sofya to ask how her day was or maybe to check on her burns. Like a proper fool however, he had neglected to get her phone number.
Laying back on his bed, he closed his eyes and pictured her. Dear god was she a beauty and that was saying something. His life often put him around men and woman of high standards of beauty. Yet Sofya knocked the very breath from his lungs. There was a effortless beauty that just seemed to encompass her.
He could just picture the sun as it danced off her honey brown hair, just a few shades too dark to be called blonde. She had such a small nose, it was adorable with freckles sprinkled around the bridge and high on her creamy pale cheeks. When she first looked up at him from wiping at his shirt he had a sudden and powerful urge to lean down and kiss it. Chocolate brown eyes seemed to come alive with worry and concern for him all while ignoring what surely had to be a painful spill.
The nail in his coffin however was her voice. It was sweet and melodic in everything she said. He could be lost listening to her speak, watching as her pink lips moved to form each word.
Tom knew he had a problem. It happened time and time again. He would fall hard and fast against his better judgment. It was his curse and this time his heart set itself on a woman who clearly had absolutely no idea who he was. She looked at him and just saw a man and that, paired with her beauty and kindness made for a concoction that was deadly.
In the span of a few minutes, she had captured his heart, as if she had accidentally wiped it clear out of his chest while she was simply trying to wipe the coffee from his shirt. Tom was always hesitant to voice it, but he was a romantic at heart. So much so, he still held high onto the notion of love at first sight. Such naive ideas however often would scare away a woman.
Tom found he couldn't wait to see her again. Morning couldn't come soon enough for him. He dearly hoped she would come as agreed, that she wouldn't back out. She didn't know him from Adam and as much as he liked it, because of that she had no reason to trust him, none at all.
If her friend, Sara he believed her name was, told her who he was, would she still come? If she knew he wasn't just a everyday man, would she still treat him like one? Surely the attention on his life, the pressure would scare her away long before the simple logistical challenges would have a chance to. But by god, did he want to see her again.