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Undertow

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She's staring at the waves, and the thought swells, then washes over her, leaving her shivering.

More than a thought, really. A desire.

She wants to see him. Here. They meet at the beach often enough, but it's usually dark. She wants to see him in the daytime - skin glistening in the sun, water streaming down his chest. Wants to see his teeth gleam as he laughs, and hear joy in his voice, for once. His dark rumble makes something in her gut clench, but she's never heard what he sounds like happy, or even relaxed. He's guarded and careful and always calculating, even when he's teasing her. When he speaks to her, they're always them, and just once, she wants to be someone else.

To be a girl, at the beach, with a boy. To bite her lip and look away as he takes off his shirt, and gobble him up with hot eyes the minute he's not watching. To sit on a towel and shyly offer him her back for sunscreen, and to lie back against his knees when the newness of being here, together, has worn off. To lie down in the sand, facing him, and feel the magnetism between them, eyes drawn to eyes, lips to lips, hips to hips. To keep the kisses gentle, the touches innocent, and the yearning sweet.

She wants to inhabit the same world every other teenager does, and hear breathless compliments instead of biting innuendo. All four syllables of her name, instead of an infuriating tease, or a convenient, economical letter.

But then the wave breaks and the crash of it brings her back to earth. Because this is Neptune, and she is Veronica, and Weevil Navarro is the leader of a motorcycle gang who is never seen out of leather.

They come to the beach to avoid being overheard, to swap intel, to plan an attack. Not to be together. Not even on the nights when they sit here, silent, staring at the waves, before they jump back on his motorcycle and she slides as close to him as she can get, soaking him up before she has to give him back to the world.

And then Veronica, who isn't sweet but yearns nonetheless, always walks away from her chance to say something. Doesn't matter what, really. She could say “let's go the beach together,” or “take me for a ride,” or “let's grab something to eat,” and he'd still figure it out.

He would know she meant “this isn't about favours any more” and “let's just hang out” and even the thing she was most scared to say. Scary for any teenager, even for a 17-year-old badass. Especially for a 17-year-old badass, because she's jaded, and hard core, and sexually voracious, or so her reputation tells her. People like them just don't say things like that, she knows. Maybe they don't even think them.

But she wants to see him, brown and glistening, in the sun. Wants to see him without the sneer, and the leather, and the badass attitude. Because maybe, when he sits here during the day, he stares at the waves and thinks of her.

Maybe he wants to see her.

Another wave rises out to sea and she watches it gather strength and grow powerful. She breathes it in, empties her mind of fear, and releases her secret to the sea.

A boy is crossing the sand, towel slung over his shoulder and water streaming from his wet boardshorts. He stops in his tracks, surprised, because he rarely sees her in the day time and never like this, looking so sad and unguarded. She doesn't even know he's there, he realises, and he doesn't want to scare her so he starts to back away when she says something.

“I like you. I really, really like you,” she whispers, and his heart clenches, because they've been deafening him all week, those words. He's seen them in her eyes and felt them in the press of her body, and heard them in the hitch of her breathing when he stands too close.

And it's not safe for her to be with him, and he'll be a dead man when the Sheriff finds out, and the boys aren't gonna like it one bit. But he can't stay away from her – he's tried. He looks at her bright, blonde head silhouetted against the ocean and surrenders to the undertow …

… he's the wave, and she's the shore, and all they want is to be left alone to fall into each other.

fin