Fanfiction – Promise Not To Fall

missclairebelle:

kalendraashtar:

In relation to this post, @notevenjokingfic, @missclairebelle, @pissedoffsoka13 and @danielledreamsthedayaway lovingly pressured me into writing this oneshot (“Hooker AU”). It’s not to be taken too seriously, it’s just a way to express my love, how I miss writing and to stretch my creative legs a bit without much thought. Until I have the time to give you proper stories again. Love, always. X

Promise Not To Fall

All my life, I’d lay my head sideways on the pillow with my belly down, yearning for the comforting sound of my own heartbeat. With my ear pressed tight against the fabric, I was able to turn inwards into the cave of my chest, exploring stalactites of unspoken desire and underground rivers of pain, barely hidden in the soothing and rhythmic sound.

When I saw her for the first time, it was as if I had laid down to listen to my heart once more, just to realize it was sitting in front of me. Everything about her beat, with purpose and the slight regret of a tired heart.

I had crossed the Charles Bridge at sundown, my eyes almost numb with the sparkle of the setting sun and appearing lights over the Vltava river. Prague always sang its most beautiful song in the twilight. Eighteen bridges stretched all over the horizon, strings of a guitar that I wanted to play until my fingers were calloused and dormant.

I strolled down Karlova Street, losing myself amidst the myriad of voices that spoke a dozen languages, my elbows brushing past cameras and selfie sticks. The scent of pungent sweat, melting ice-cream (cappuccino, stracciatella, pistachio, two different kinds of chocolate) and distant rain dripped down the back of my throat, until I felt the urge to cough, for a second wishing to have air inside my lungs that was only mine.

The crowd was getting larger by the minute, mainly walking in the opposite direction, a mob furiously pushing towards the last good minutes of light for a perfect photograph. I sighed in defeat, unwilling to bodily push my way across the long street, and swiftly entered a quiet establishment. The lights were dim inside, as if the night had been sitting around waiting for its turn to move on the city with a cocktail in hand, and the decoration was swanky. I quickly estimated that a beer in such a place would probably cost me more than an entire meal elsewhere, but soldiered on and sat at a high table.

I was distractedly munching salted peanuts, crunchy with sea crystals and a tang of smoke, when a clipped English voice made me turn my head towards the bar.

“Whisky, neat.” A woman asked the bartender, placing her small purse next to her elbow on the counter.

The Englishwoman was wearing high waisted black trousers, that highlighted her striking figure, and a white blouse with sheer fabric in strategic places – while it promised everything, it revealed nothing. Her hair was a mass of brown mutiny, with curls that weren’t exactly perfect, each of them unique in its half twists and incomplete turns. Watching them made me long for home. They seemed just right for a hand to be immersed in them, caressing and pulling, as they flowed against eyelids and the side of a nose, gluing themselves to lips, sticky with too many kisses. Her beauty didn’t take my breath away – it gave me all the air I could possibly hope for, inside me all at once, occupying every empty space that had been aching.

I finished my too-sweet beer, forcing myself not to stare at her. What was it about her that compelled me so?

I couldn’t tell if she was waiting for someone, or just enjoying a night by herself. Something about her demeanour seemed open, while simultaneously maintaining an odd reserve and aloofness. The woman was just like the loch near my home – lazily embracing the glen, commanding the landscape. And yet I almost drowned there when I was young; the dark waters told nothing about small boats living underwater after storms or coins tossed to its currents in hope and prayer. Her depth was unknown. Unfathomable.

Not knowing what possessed me, I walked to the bar in a pretence of thirst not yet quenched. I ordered another beer and casually sat on a stool next to hers, fidgeting with my fingers, avoiding to glance at her.

A Scot.” A warm voice spoke, and the relief that washed over me almost made me laugh. I wasn’t invisible to her. “Drinking beer? There’s a sight to behold.”

I smirked and raised a brow, gulping down slowly before I answered her. Pacing myself. “Dinna trust what they pass for whisky around here.”

“Fair enough.” She conceded, raising her glass in salutation. “I’ve been away long enough to behave like a pagan, I’m afraid.”

“Do you live here?” I asked, striving for nonchalance. The way her eyes reflected the whisky’s colour almost made me dizzy. Thoroughly inebriated. “In Prague?”

“Yes.” The woman leaned over, her fingers brushing against her temple. “You’re a backpacker, aren’t you?” She asked, raising her elegant brows with a light smile.

“What sold me out?” I asked, returning her lopsided smirk. I felt awkwardly eager, as if the thump of my heart had moved closer to the edge of my ribcage. If I blinked, I could be heartless in a moment.

“Rumpled shirt.” The woman gave me a throaty laugh, almost breathless. I scratched the back of my neck, suddenly embarrassed by my blue attire. When I had donned it that morning, after rescuing it from the pits of my battered backpack, it had been the last truly clean item of clothing I possessed. After a month backpacking across Europe, what I missed the most about home was a washing machine. “And all those stars in your eyes. Like you couldn’t quite believe how lucky you are.”

“Really?” I bit my bottom lip to avoid myself from cackling aloud, incredulous and self-conscient. “Moon-eyed, am I?”

“Yes.” The remarkable woman pushed her hair to her right shoulder, exposing the soft flesh of her neck to my eyes. I swallowed slowly when I noticed the scattered goose bumps, coming alive. Would my own fingertips tingle, if I touched her there? “The fact that you have coins from several different currencies in your wallet helped as well.” I had dumped the contents of my wallet into my hand, looking for change to pay the bartender, a few moments before.

“Observant, I see.” I tilted my head in a nod, implying that I was impressed. “Did ye see anything else of note?”

“You’re homesick, because you came straight to me when you noticed I was English.” She licked her lips, looking at me appraisingly. “You might be a gentleman, because you wouldn’t have pressed me for conversation if I hadn’t approached you.” Her eyes averted mine, as if immersed in contemplation of the bottles displayed on the wall. “There’s an old tan line on your finger and you keep brushing against it with your thumb without noticing, so you were probably married once.” Her eyes searched mine, with a hint of mischief and curiosity. “Am I close?”

“Aye.” I said hoarsely, clearing my throat to steady myself. “Remarkably close. I’m Jamie, since you seem to already ken everything else about me.”

She hesitated for a moment, as if she wasn’t sure her name would be safe on my lips. Eventually, she offered me her hand to shake in greeting. Her palm was cold, but dry. Her index finger touched the scar on my knuckle, a moment too long - as if she was tracing it -, and I shivered.  “Claire.” Another fraction when her voice faltered. “And I know something else, as well.”

“Oh, aye?” I encouraged her with a teasing smile, playing with the rim of the glass in nervousness. The dull material didn’t sing under my fingers.

“You – you don’t seem like the type that would pay for my company.” Claire stated softly, observing me with eerie calmness, as realization dawned on me. Words planted as seeds, blooming into disappointment. Expecting me to walk away in a heartbeat, I instantly realized.

“Ye’re a – a call girl, then?” I asked fearfully in a low voice, hesitant to pronounce the words. It felt like I was shouting it to the crowd outside; once I put a name to what she did with her body, everyone would know forever. I would tarnish her.

She snorted, amused but sardonic. “That’s about as mild as you could put it. Hooker, whore, hustler, prostitute, working girl, tart. I am all of those things, if you need to label me. Call me whatever you want.”

“Why are you telling me this – confiding in me?” I questioned, when I trusted my voice not to sound entirely shocked. I seemed to have acquired several shards of glass, churning inside my stomach and chest, ripping through me. “Ye could have simply dismissed me or fooled me.”

“As I said, you don’t seem like the type of man that would give money away to shag someone.” Claire shrugged, turning her upper body to face me directly. “I don’t want you to waste your time, or mine. Not when you seem to be a decent chap.”

“Ye’re here working, then.” I gulped down. She gawked at me, her eyes softening considerably.

“I only come at bars to work.” Claire said mildly, her nose scrunching. “When I’m off, I only want to be home, clean-faced and wearing pyjamas.”

“How can –“ I swallowed hard, desperately searching for appropriate words. “How did you end up –“

“How does a woman like me end up in a trade like this one?” She smiled mysteriously, almost wickedly. But her eyes betrayed sadness, loss, grief. Her eyelids seemed heavier, burdened by a story, words like rocks against her open eyes. “Every woman is like me, Jamie. And I am every woman. I arrived here by choice, as we all did at some point. Maybe the choice that dictated it arrived sooner or later, clearer or at the end of many crossroads.” Claire’s full lips pressed in a thin line. “No one forced my hand. And it isn’t as degrading as you might think, if you manage to disentangle sex from other emotions. If you do it on your own terms.”

“Is this the moment when ye tell me it isna really about sex?” I raised a brow, looking intently at her. Studying the faint pulse on the side of her neck, the small and almost invisible scar on the right side of her chin, the pure golden spot amidst the darker butterscotch of her eyes. Playing with the pieces that composed her on the restless fingers of my mind, struggling to get a clear image, where everything would fall into place.

“I cannot tell you that.” Claire sipped her drink, the corners of her eyes wincing just so with the full force of the malting. Her voice was seductive and husky, a trick of the trade or her truest self beckoning me. “Most just want what’s between my legs. Some want me on my knees, the power of towering over me, to have me feel just slightly afraid. But many want the fulfilment, the fantasy, the one-sided expectations – to fuck a stranger, to be called “daddy” and “sir”, not to be concerned whether I came or not.” She shrugged, her eyes piercing mine. She was the whore, and I was the one naked in front of her. “It is about sex. But sex isn’t simple at all, is it?”

“And how do ye build a life for yerself in the midst of all that?” I pressed softly, tilting my head to take her in. The creamy and velvety skin on the top of her breasts was clearly visible through her shirt and I wondered, with inexplicable pain, how many men had found a path of desire so close to her heart. “How do ye keep yerself grounded – what remains that is truly yers?”

“I always promise not to fall.” She affirmed, her voice serious even if her lips turned up on a knowing smile. “My heart is never on the line. I keep it with me at all times.”

Claire grabbed her purse and started to put on her short leather jacket, while I was still completely scattered and speechless after her admissions. She gently caressed a strand of my red hair, her long finger riding the wave of fiery copper, in a gesture surprisingly tender and unanticipated. “I might take the night off. Fancy a Starbucks before I head home?”

This is a gift and not at all the crack that the tone in the original post that inspired my begging implied. You’re an artist with words Kal. This paints a picture and FEELS like Prague. The purposeful reveal of bits of her character tell us a lot but almost nothing. You’ve set a scene and created a world with a commendable economy of words and I love it.

I won’t beg for more because the rest being up to the reader is nice. I am totally picturing the Starbucks over by the sex museum in Prague, a cappuccino that maybe turns into a late ice cream by the astronomical clock, and then they part ways better for having had just an evening of someone to listen, nonjudgmentally and without the burden of future.

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