Title: On the Hunt
Specs: Miranda, Miranda/Gary, 1800 words
Summary: The story of how Miranda and Gary first met.
Most Friday nights I prefer to stay in. I come up with the most marvelous activities that are in no way sad or pathetic. Last Friday I thrust all of my spoons (wonderful word, that, thruuuuuust) into a cake and made a very small Stonehenge. Quite amusing. But this Friday Stevie insisted I go with her to a club.
There are two sorts of clubs. In one sort, there's a stage which one can ascend to sing and dance, perhaps believing for a short while that one is a genuine, bona-fide pop sensation. In the other sort, there is no such stage. I of course prefer the former sort of club, but in the absence of a stage it's quite easy to sing anyway. A greater volume is required to overcome the music, which in the latter sort of club can become rather deafening. And the club-goers are less likely to sit and listen. But they can't exactly kick you out just for singing (except for that one time they did) and it does liven up the evening.
So here we are, in the latter sort of club, and though I'm in the mood to belt out “Piano Man,” thus far the music, a ragged kind of assortment of techno beats, has not obliged me. I've got a drink with many umbrellas, and so far I've only been approached twice. Both times, it's the same scenario. A look at my face, and then a sweep down my body and back up to my face, as though to check on whether I'm a man or a woman. Sometimes the face isn't enough, so there's a quick peek at my tits. Face, body, face, tits. (Sounds like a naughty nursery rhyme – head, shoulders, knees and tits, knees and tits.) The scenario doesn't bother me too much; I'm used to it. And as long as the man in question finally settles on “woman” we're just as right as rain.
This man walks up to me. Not just a man – a scruffy angel of a man. Quite possibly the most handsome man I've ever seen. And he's looking right at me, and he's smiling, and there's no sweep down, no checking to see if I've got girl parts. Is this a man? Maybe he's a supernatural being of some sort. A fairy, but not the gay kind. At least I hope not.
“Hi!” he says brightly, and the place where I used to have knees feels sort of weak.
“Hi, yes. Hi. Indeed.” Babbling, Miranda, you're babbling.
“I'm Gary.” He sticks out his hand, but I can't imagine why. Why would someone stick out their hand? I've seen people do this before but if there's a reason for it I can no longer remember it. I stroke the back of his hand with my fingertips. His smile flickers a bit, and then it's just as big and bright as before again. “And you are?”
Oh, no. He didn't do the sweep. He's not sure. I suppose asking straight out is perhaps more polite than the sweep. Being up front and all. “I'm a woman,” I tell him, and then I stroke the back of his hand again.
“That’s your name, then? Awoman?” He’s not smiling anymore – he’s grinning. But now I understand what he was asking me – and he wanted to shake my hand, of course! – but it’s too late now.
“Yes. Awoman. One of the more popular Swedish names.”
“I wouldn’t have taken you for a Swede.”
“There’s two types of Swedes.” I pause, go for a drink, dodge the umbrellas, finally find the straw. “There’s the popular tall, thin, blonde Swede, of course, and then the lesser-known solid brunette Swede.” Gary’s laughing, actually leaning on the bar right next to me, and he’s close enough to smell. He smells like a delicious pie, if pies were made out of men and not fruit or pudding. “I’m the former type of Swede, obviously.”
“Obviously. Tall, I see that.”
“I dye the hair. It’s too stunning otherwise.”
“This is all just padding.”
“Quite nice padding at that.” Wait, what? What was that? Did this gorgeous specimen of a man just compliment my padding? I smile, very sultry, and without ever taking my eyes off his I lean in for another drink. It’s seductive, that move. The straw gouges right into my cheek and I’m nearly blinded by an umbrella. Gary laughs, but it’s a quick, kind of embarrassed laugh, and then he’s patting my shoulder. “Are you all right, Awoman?”
“Straws are deadly, Miranda. You should be careful.”
“But you saw? You saw the way it came after me?”
“I did! Predatory, like.”
“So,” Gary drawls, and he’s leaning a little bit closer, “I think it’s best to be on the up and up with you. I’m doing a scavenger hunt, and one of the items I need is a girl’s number. Came in here, and decided I wanted the number of a girl I’d actually call.”
I point to the gyrating dancers. “Did you want me to forge you a path to the girls, then?”
“Write your number down! But it’s got to be on a cocktail napkin, with the name of the club on it.”
“Very.” I scan the bar for a napkin, but of course there aren’t any. How can there be no napkins? Not one minute ago I spilled all sorts of drink everywhere, rogue umbrellas lying about, it’s like a mini-tropical disaster right here on the bar, and there are no napkins. Napkins! I need napkins!
“Napkins! I need napkins!” I shout, and the bartender sullenly hands me one. Ten minutes ago I thought the bartender was a decent catch, but now, compared to Gary, heavenly, perfect Gary, the bartender looks like an utter troll. But he has given me a napkin, so if he is a troll, he’s some sort of secretly-kind, loves-humans, probably-cries-at-commercials troll.
Here I stand with pen and napkin, and the only thing flitting through my brain is the crystal-clear mental image of Gary using his bare chest to clean up the spilled drink. I realize I’m just standing there, pen hovering, staring at Gary.
“What is my number, Gary?” I whisper. Surely he knows, because I’ve not a clue.
Gary’s laughing again, hand on his stomach. “You don’t know your number?”
“Why should I need to know my number? I don’t call myself. I’m never at home thinking, say, Miranda, I wonder if you’d like to go do something? I’m already there, you see.” And then, out of the haze and the flashing lights and the throng of fit, dancing bodies comes a tiny, tiny blonde angel. Stevie’s heading my way, and I grab her like I’m drowning and she’s a tiny, tiny blonde life preserver.
“Stevie! What is my number!” Stevie looks at me, then looks at Gary. Looks at me, looks at Gary. Looks at me, looks at Gary. “Stevie!”
“So this is what you’ve done today…” she says. I grab her elbow and pinch the skin just above it. “Ow, Miranda--!”
“My number.” Stevie glares at me, then writes my number down on the napkin. I smile winningly at Gary, who’s watching the two of us as though we’re hilarious comediennes on a hit television show. “Stevie’s my best mate,” I tell him. “We do everything together. Practically attached at the hip.”
“Miranda, I was hoping--” Stevie starts, but I don’t need her anymore, so I put a hand on her head and push her away. She of course collapses onto the floor since she weighs all of six stone, and Gary’s looking down as though he’s not sure if what just happened is real and, if so, if he should help Stevie up.
“There you are,” I say, handing him the napkin with a flourish. “My numbers. My…numeros. The numeros of moi.” I stop myself before I start chanting each individual numero in some awful polyglot mix of French, Spanish, and what I think is either French or Spanish.
“You know,” Gary says, carefully tucking the napkin into his wallet, “my mate just sprained his ankle vaulting over a hedgerow. We had to get a garden gnome.”
“A tragic accident.”
“Did you hold his hand manfully and help him through the pain?”
“Of course. Comrades in arms. Brothers in the foxhole.” I’m not sure where Gary is going with this. He should probably get moving. Suddenly it has become very important to me that Gary win this scavenger hunt. He should win everything. The world should probably just give him trophies every day for existing. “It was a pretty bad sprain, so he grabbed a cab and went home.”
“That’s too bad.” Gary! You’re going to lose! But I want him to keep talking to me. I haven’t faced such a difficult and seemingly impossible dilemma since the time I had to decide whether to keep eating cake or save the cake so that I might have cake to eat the next day.
“And it’s really no fun doing a scavenger hunt by yourself,” he says.
“No, it would be like…” And I can’t think of another example of something that would be no fun to do by yourself, since I have loads of fun doing things by myself all the time. “There’s nothing it’s like,” I finally settle on. “It’s the worst. Doing a scavenger hunt by yourself is the worst.”
“The worst, definitely the worst.”
“Fighting a war? Not as bad.”
“Nuclear apocalypse? All in a day’s work.”
“The sun explodes?” Ha! He’s not going to be able to top that one. “Easy peasy.”
“So you want to come scavenge with me?” I’ve read before about someone’s heart skipping a beat, and I always just assumed it was a romantic metaphor. But my heart has definitely skipped a beat, several beats. It’s just a big lumpy lump in the middle of my chest. Surely I’ve misheard him. The last item on his list is probably “enormous woman,” and he’s asking if he can cart me out. “Miranda?”
“You want me to go on the scavenger hunt with you?”
“Yeah! It’ll be fun!” Fun. Gary doesn’t even know what fun is. No one in the world has ever had fun before me, this very instant, about to go off and do a scavenger hunt with Gary, grand, gregarious Gary. I am inventing fun at this moment.
“Of course! Let’s go! We’ve already wasted too much time!” And then we’re shoving off through the crowd, the lights and music cascading down as if to celebrate my moment of triumph. We’re about halfway to the door when Gary reaches down and takes my hand.