kunju (innie_darling) wrote,

A Long Way from Here to Regret (Playing It Cool: Me/Her, Me & Mallory; R)

Hi, everybody!

I just remembered I never posted this story here, only over at AO3. It's a ficlet for the new Chris Evans movie Playing It Cool (the one all of those tap-dancing and yoga gifs are from).

A bit of a spoilery note on the story: The yoga scene inspired this fic - that's what the first bit is playing with - but then things took an unexpected turn. There's a scene in the film that I read as date-rape (of Mallory by a male character who's never named, so I'm calling him Wally in the fic) but that the movie presents as fairly unproblematic. This fic completely ignores that reading and as a result subtracts "Wally" from his subsequent scenes with Mallory. There is no rape or non-con within the story itself. Also, for the purposes of the story, Chris Evans's character is "he," Michelle Monaghan's character is "she," and Aubrey Plaza's character is (actually!) named in the movie - she's Mallory.

Rated R for sensitive issues. Becoming a boyfriend shouldn't make him less of a friend.

A Long Way from Here to Regret

They work it out, what he needs, what she takes, what they both give.

He's never been as impressed by anyone as he was when she held him up, legs certain and strong, all his weight flowing downward to her ass, and it still costs him a moment's hesitation before he stops clutching her hands and lets himself fly, but it's like he's addicted to the sensation of his stomach dropping out, because he pesters her to do it to him every time he sees her stretch. Maybe it's the trust that's so addictive.

Turns out it's just as good the other way around.

One of his big feet horizontal between her hips, the other pressed the long way against her sternum, her small breasts just a whisper on either side, and he has enough control to move her as he pleases, to swoop her down so she's tipped low for his kiss, or to lock his knees and let her soar. And she just keeps looking at him, light behind her eyes, eyebrows up, her whole face open.

It's a long way from here to regret. He'll take it. He'll take her.

He's cracking his knuckles, ready to settle down to do some real writing – there are no hearts of gold in his wounded heroes and mouthy dames, noir conventions notwithstanding – when he realizes the epic scale on which he fucked up.

Ditching Mallory right after her admission of love was shitty, no way to cover that up, but to hear her say she'd been date-raped and do nothing about it was Go Directly to Hell, Do Not Collect $200, Just Go, You Terrible Fucker.

It doesn't matter that Mal routinely makes her confessions on stage, or that he's kind of thought of Wally as a good guy. No one has the right to do that to her.

He texts her. Got a clean bowl? Cap and I are coming over.

Sorry, lover, I don't do threeways is what he gets back, and he can't tell what to make of that, not even a little bit. He's been so wrapped up in his own melodrama that he's forgotten the little slips and skips that make up the rhythms of her speech, the way she talks to him like they have their own private language.


"Keaton," he says to her, because that much he'd remembered in the car, the rant she went on over being named for the dumb girl on a mediocre 80's sitcom, "I'll take you to the police station right now if you want to file a report."

"My hero," she says, but she steps back to let him in.

"Seriously, I'm such a shitheel for hearing about your friend-date and doing nothing."

"It is all about you," she tosses over her shoulder. Jesus, the eyes on her. He shakes himself a little just to see how much of his extremities that gaze incinerated.

"No, I –" Wow, he is messing this up spectacularly. He wishes Granddad were here, that he'd ever bothered to introduce Mal to the old man, even if he can't quite decide how that would have gone. "I –" No more I statements, this isn't a fucking intervention. "What do you need?"

"I just don't want to see him ever again," she says.

"Done. Dude is blackballed for eternity." He puts his hand on her arm, gently, so she can decide if it's too much. She shakes it off. Fair enough.

"And I want –" Mal starts, and stops. He's pretty sure she was going to say I need. He shouldn't be making her do all the work here. At some point, maybe one of them will be smart enough to articulate what she needs to feel safe again.

"You want?" he asks, shaking the box of Cap'n Crunch. She grabs it and a couple of his fingers too, grip tight enough to make his fingertips white and bloodless. He loves her and doesn't wriggle free.

"Yeah," Mal says finally, "gimme the good stuff."

He doesn't go to Malaysia, but he does get the action movie. She doesn't go to Costa Rica though the honeymoon's already paid for.

They hole up in his apartment. She looks surprised by all the hardcover books on his shelves. There are still boxes of Granddad's stuff he needs to go through, but he's not up for doing it in front of her. She'll go to work soon enough and he'll have plenty of solitary time. Or time with Scott, maybe.

A movie he wrote the screenplay for comes out on DVD, and while he watches the travesty unfold on his TV screen, she's next to him with her feet tucked under his thigh. The director completely missed the point of all of the motifs he'd built in and changed the climax of the story, but some of those words and images were his. "It has good bones," she says, wiggling her toes. He thinks she's fucking with him.

For their first anniversary, she gets him a little ceramic frog. There's a slip of paper the size of a fortune-cookie fortune lying on its tongue that says, Don't you want to save me? She laughs when she gives it to him, and it makes him laugh every morning for the next three weeks when he sees it sitting on his bedside table, not out in the living room where anyone could see it and ask. It's part of their story and no one else's.

As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/454122.html.
Tags: fic, filmfic, playing it cool

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