Reconstruction: Temptation and Deliverance
By S.J. Graham
DISCLAIMER: I dont own the characters of the following story. I have borrowed them from J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves and the other people who have created the show "Felicity." I dont make any money from this (and probably never will). The song lyrics are from Mindy McCreadys CD "Ten Thousand Angels." The poetry belongs to me, though.
Time Setting: This occurs after Felicity has decided to let go of Ben and be true to herself, in Episode two of Season two. So there are spoilers from "The List." She has not cut her hair, however. I decided to leave that the way it was. This story is a sequel to "Reconstruction: The Formation of a Poetic Heart."
EPSTEINS BAR 8:32 p.m.
Elena Tyler and Ben Covington sat at a small table in Epsteins bar. Between them on the table sat a half-eaten pepperoni pizza and two tall glasses of beer. Elena studied the open notebook in her two hands with narrowed eyes. The small book had been filled to capacity with hastily penned words and it was the property of the newly changed man sitting across the small table from her.
It was shocking. Elena looked up at him for the third time since shed begun to read. This person was not the same Ben Covington shed known only a few weeks ago. The changes in him were both subtle and alarmingly intense at the same time. His entire outlook seemed to have changed. His green eyes were curious as she continued reading again.
"Well?" He asked.
She leaned back in her seat and took a deep breath, "Ben This is amazing."
His eyebrows rose in mild surprise, "Really?"
Elena nodded and continued to read, her eyes beginning to adjust to his mildly sloppy handwriting. She could hardly believe the words that she saw before her. He had done what she said and written down everything he could think of, including emotionally personal material that he may never actually be able to say out loud to anyone.
And the depth of his feelings had turned out to be much more than Elena had imagined. Inwardly, she reveled in the thought that Felicity might discover this change in Ben and come to the conclusion that her friend might be able to feel even more for Ben than she had previously.
"Listen, you need to show some of this to Felicity. She would love it."
He glanced down uncertainly, "I don't think so. I'm not really ready for that yet."
"Ben, do you know what you've done here?"
He shook his head, smiling. He knew what she meant, of course. But revealing this new persona to Felicity was a step he didn't feel he could make at that time. He took the notebook from her and pushed it into the backpack at his feet. Pulling the bag over one shoulder, he stood and smiled down at her, his eyes bright with a certain amount of hope.
"Thanks. For everything."
"Sure. You think about what I said, okay?" She replied easily, flashing him a short smile of appreciation for what he'd managed to accomplish.
KELVIN HALL 8:45 p.m.
Felicity Porter stared hard at the sketch in front of her. She'd been working on it for an hour, and still wasn't satisfied with the results. Perhaps it was because her subject was being so uncooperative. Meghan shifted again, moving around on the bed across the room.
"I can't do this if you keep moving, Meghan." Felicity reminded her roommate for the fifth time.
"Okay Like I care. I don't want you to do this anyway. What do I care if you do a crappy job on it?" She replied coldly, grabbing a magazine from her bedside table and idly flipping through the pages.
Felicity's eyes settled on the paper again, trying to decide whether she should add a set of horns to Meghan's image there. Smiling, she did just that and then closed her sketchbook, putting it down on the bed in front of her.
"Alright. I'm done for now."
"Good." Meghan got up, stretched lazily and walked over to her dresser, "Don't forget our deal. I allow you to draw a stupid picture of me and you have to help me placate my parents while they're in town." She turned and gave Felicity a threatening glare, "And don't you dare say a thing about Brad."
Felicity's brow creased in amusement and curiosity, "Who is Brad?"
"Oh." Meghan shrugged, "You haven't seen him yet. Never mind."
Meghan sighed shortly and glanced over at Felicity again, "So what's up with you and Ben? I haven't seen him around lately."
"Neither have I, actually." Felicity replied as she
put away her sketchbook and went into her closet. It was
certainly the last thing that she would ever discuss with Meghan,
she thought dejectedly. She found herself thinking about him more
than she wanted to. But time after time, she forced the emotions
down and then out of her head completely. Sketching or painting
could often work towards that end. But not always. And tonight
she would try a different method of removing the memories of Ben.
Elena had talked her into going out to a country-western bar tonight. Julie had first invited Elena only, but Elena had decided that the three of them going out together might be a good way to mend some fences between her two friends. A country-western bar wasn't exactly Elena's style, but she thought that they might all have fun, so she'd invited Felicity.
Of course she had refused at first. Being forced to sit at a
table with Julie and try to make friendly conversation wasn't her
idea of a great time. Not considering the way she knew that Julie
still felt about her, anyway. But she wanted to get out of the
dorm and go have some fun. She felt that she deserved it after
everything that had happened the last few weeks. She walked out
of the closet and looked at herself in the mirror.
Tonight, she intended on being carefree and spontaneous. No strings, no obligations. Just music and drinks and good conversation. She hoped. She felt an oddly familiar ache settle into her. Something she'd been feeling from the moment she'd kissed Ben on the cheek on that busy sidewalk and turned away from him a few weeks ago.
She touched the small jewelry box on top of her dresser. She sighed, debating with herself, and finally opened the box and pulled out the silver necklace that he had given her. She would wear it tonight only. Maybe for the last time. Perhaps it would be a device to bring her some courage. She'd never been very outgoing in crowds.
Felicity fastened it around her slender neck and stared at it. It felt like something truly precious to feel the delicate silver strands against her warm skin. She shivered in spite of herself and started to get dressed. She would not think about him tonight. In the back of her mind, the thoughts lingered, though. And she knew somehow that the memories wouldn't just go away on their own. So she would try to enjoy herself tonight and deal with the rest of it tomorrow.
HARPYS WESTERN ROUNDUP BAR AND GRILL 9:42 p.m.
The lights, voices and eloquent country tunes of "Harpys" struck Felicity as refreshing the moment she stepped through the door with Elena at her side. It was a huge place, and more of a dance hall than an actual bar. On each side of the wide dance floor levels rose up from the first floor, which contained tables and chairs. The bar area was on the main floor, near the stage area and the whole place was decorated with various southwestern items hanging on the walls such as wagon wheels, rodeo posters and deer antlers.
Elena and Felicity made their way to one of the few empty tables on the third level that overlooked the crowded dance floor. They hadnt seen Julie yet so they settled themselves down and took in the scene with a certain amount of anticipation.
The dancers below were doing a complicated line step shuffle, which Felicity was sure she couldnt possibly follow, even if she had the guts to get down there and try it. Her pale blue eyes followed the motions of their feet as they clicked their heeled boots against the wooden floor and did an elaborate turn in unison.
One scantily clad waitress came up the stairs, weaving her way through the rowdy throng of "wanna be" cowboys to take their drink order. A few of the men gave her suggestive glances, but she ignored them, as usual.
"Whatll ya have, ladies?" She asked.
Elena sighed, thinking about what might taste good, "Uh how about a rum and coke?"
Felicity nodded, "Ill have the same thing. And a shot of tequila." She grinned at Elenas shocked expression and shrugged casually, "Hey, were supposed to have fun, right?"
HARPYS WESTERN ROUNDUP BAR AND GRILL 11:05 p.m.
"So then she said, I dont care how long it takes. You get rid of that duck."
Laughter followed her joke and she smiled up at the waitress who had already brought the next round of shots to their crowded little table.
Felicity Porter was officially drunk. Elena had seen it coming but was hesitant to stop the fun. She knew how much Felicity was enjoying this and wasnt about to bring her friend down after everything shed been through since shed come back to school. Julie had migrated to another table across the room, leaving Elena and Felicity alone with three very friendly young guys in cowboy hats and multi-colored button down shirts. Their jeans were tight and their personalities even tighter.
Elena couldnt believe the way they were all hanging on every word Felicity said. She watched with a smile as her friend licked the salt off her wrist, downed her fourth shot of tequila and squeezed her eyes shut tight before biting quickly into one of the lime slices placed before her.
"Well Ill tell ya what, girl. You got the prettiest eyes I ever did see," Commented Jim, one of the attentive admirers, "And when are you gonna let me take you out on that dance floor, anyway?"
Felicity smiled contentedly and fluttered her eyelashes at him, "And leave these other two boys here to entertain my friend? I think Id be just a little jealous." She teased.
Elenas eyes rolled heavenward in mock disgust, "Oh, please Just go dance, will you?"
Jim got up from his seat and held a hand out, "Come on, darlin."
Felicity sighed and relented, taking his hand and following him down the stairs and onto the bustling dance floor. It was a relatively slower song, so she was happy to just follow his lead and relax as they shuffled along with the other couples.
Elena watched from above, the smile never leaving her face. It was good to see Felicity letting go and enjoying herself. But she wondered what Ben might think of this difference that she had witnessed tonight. He might not be quite as pleased, she thought to herself.
Then she spotted Julie weaving through the throng, walking a little off-balanced. Apparently, Felicity wasnt the only one whod had a little too much alcohol tonight, Elena noticed. Julie approached the table, her face a bit flushed and her eyes glazed over with drunkenness.
"Elena, I . .." She plopped herself into a chair and rested her head in her arms on the table, "Im really drunk."
"I see that "
"Could you do me a favor?" Julie mumbled, "Call Sean and tell him to come get me. Im afraid to head home by myself in this condic . Condition."
"Sure." Elena grabbed her purse and rose, "Stay right here. And try not to pass out."
She headed downstairs to the payphones by the front doors, ignoring the leering looks she was getting from various males that she passed on the way. She inserted the coins into the slot and held one finger in her left ear to block out the music so she could hear Sean on the other end of the line.
"Sean, its Elena."
"Hey there. Hows it going down there? You guys hook up with some dope cowboys yet or what?" He asked jokingly.
"Uh " She paused and shifted the phone to her other ear, "You need to get down here. Julie is seriously inebriated and needs an escort home. She looks like she could pass out right on the street."
"What?" There was a concerned tone to his voice now, "Um sure. So is Felicity drunk too?"
"Yeah, you could say that. But Ill take care of her." She assured him.
"Alright. Ill be there in a few minutes. Try to keep Julie awake, okay?" He asked.
Elena sighed, "Dont worry. Shell be fine until the hangover hits her in the morning."
She hung up the receiver and turned back towards the crowded room. It was turning out to be a crazy night.
SEANS LOFT 11:14 p.m.
Sean turned from the phone and went to grab his jacket. He couldnt believe that Julie was so drunk that she couldnt get home by herself. And Felicity too? That was totally unlike her. He glanced over at Ben who was half-asleep on the couch, watching a baseball game that they had recorded earlier.
"Hey, Ive got to head downtown. Julie and Felicity are both down at some country bar getting smashed."
Bens eyes popped open and he sat up suddenly, "What?"
"You heard me. Theyre drunk. Ill be back in a little while." Sean took his keys from the keyhook by the door and pulled on the jacket.
Ben was already up and moving before Seans hand was on the knob.
"Im coming with you." Ben said forcefully.
Felicity was drunk and down at some bar, possibly surrounded by drunk punks ready to put their sweaty little hands all over her. He wasnt about to sit still and wait at home to find out what could possibly go wrong in a situation like that.
With a grim expression, he followed Sean out the door and down the stairs to the street.
HARPYS WESTERN ROUND UP BAR AND GRILL 11:50 p.m.
The alcohol had settled over Felicitys brain and body like a soft cloud and she felt better than she had in a long time. Dancing out on the floor with her third partner, she felt a freedom she hadnt known for a very long time. The music pounded through her and she moved with it. Clapping, stomping and swaying to the beat of the country tunes being played loudly over the sound system.
Sean and Ben entered the building and hesitated for a moment as they searched for the girls. There were people everywhere, and they had no idea where to start to look in such a large crowd.
Then Ben spotted Julie at a table upstairs and waved. Sean nodded as he spotted her too, noting that Elena was there with her, but Felicity was not. Ben had noticed the same thing. And his eyes began to roam across the faces before him, searching.
The two young men made their way up to Elena and Julies
table slowly, trying not to bump into people on their way.
"Its about time," Elena said, exasperated as they approached. Julie had thrown up twice since shed called them, but she
seemed to be sobering up a little after her two trips to the ladies room. Julie smiled weakly at the guys.
Sean shook his head, "Look at you. Youre a mess."
Bens gaze met Elenas and she knew what he was thinking without even asking him. She glanced meaningfully towards the
dance floor below, "Shes out there. Having the time of her life."
He was curious at first. His green eyes scanned the couples dancing below them. And it took a moment before he realized that she was the woman in the center of the floor, wearing a white brimmed cowboy hat and laughing as she was gallantly dipped by her handsome dancing partner.
Felicity grabbed the hat to keep it from falling off and laughed again at Keith, who was the best dancer shed met so far that evening. He was bright and really funny. Not to mention the best looking guy in the room. He gave her an amused look and lifted her upright again, pressing a hand tighter around her waist to keep her from falling over.
Hed met plenty of women here tonight, and some had been drunk, but this one here was cute AND drunk. She seemed to stumble every time he let go of her. Yes, he thought to himself. This one would be a sure thing.
The song changed. It was a slow, sad melody which caught Felicity off guard for a minute, but Keith quickly changed his steps and eased her closer to him, slowly down and then looking into her eyes.
"Excuse me." Came a familiar voice very close to them. Felicity looked to see who it was and swallowed quickly. Her heart started to beat irregularly when she saw Ben standing there. His face was completely unreadable.
"May I cut in?" He asked, his voice a low monotone, revealing very little of his mood. His green eyes were hooded, clouding any emotion that might currently be residing there. And his posture gave her even less indication. He stood straight, tall and proud. Just as he always did.
Felicitys gaze fell to the floor. She didnt know what to say or even how to act. She never would have imagined him being there. In her alcohol-laden mind, she briefly considered it to be the figment of some odd dream.
But when she felt Keith leave her side reluctantly, and Bens familiar warm hands pull her close to him in order to dance, she knew she couldnt be dreaming. This was incredibly and completely real.
The song seemed to increase her confusion. The lyrics, melancholy and exquisite hummed through her head in an endless stream as she began to feel her legs weaken and her heart beat even faster.
Speaking of the devil
Look who just walked in.
He knows just where to find me.
Here we go again.
I can tell hes gonna ask me to dance
Thats not as far as he wants to go.
I need ten thousands angels
To help me tell him no.
She felt the heat of him through his shirt as they swayed to the music. And his skin smelled so wonderful to her, reminding her of their time together on the trip during the summer. She remembered times when he had just come out of the motel rooms shower, smelling like this. Warm, strong.
Trying to shake it off, she concentrated on the steps of the dance.
Its time to face my weakness
And look him in the eye
Lord knows it wont be easy
But Ive just gotta try.
Ben couldnt stop staring at her as they danced. He couldnt stop himself from pulling her closer against him and stroking her back, reaching up and touching the silky curls that lay against her smooth neck. It was intoxicating, having her this close.
Help me break this spell that Im under
Guide my feet and hold me tight
I need ten thousand angels
Watching over me tonight.
Suddenly, she broke away from him with an agitated moan and stumbled towards the stairs that led up to Elenas table. His eyes followed her progress, but he was standing there still in the middle of the dance floor, wishing desperately that he could hold onto those few precious moments he had just shared with her.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
HARPYS WESTERN ROUND UP BAR AND GRILL 12:30 a.m.
Elena and Ben sat at the small table, watching the rapidly declining crowd of people slowly make their way out the door. Felicity was out on the dance floor again, refusing to return to the table where Ben sat.
He turned to Elena, "Its time to leave. I know shes having a lot of fun, Elena. But shes getting a little "
"Flirtatious?" Elena asked quickly.
"Yeah." He watched Felicity as she finished out the last song of the evening with a short guy wearing a blue Dodge baseball cap who looked like he was about to pass out himself. The guy was asking for her number, Ben thought. But she didnt look very interested. Thank God.
Finally, she came back to the table and sat down, determined to ignore him.
"Felicity, Im heading back to the apartment." Elena said, catching Bens surprised look, "Bens going to take you back to the dorm." She ignored Felicitys gasp of outrage and stood up, "Call me tomorrow when the hangover wears off."
Then Elena turned and headed out, leaving Felicity and Ben alone together at the table. She turned to him with a determined gleam in her eye, "Well, lets go. I guess the funs over for tonight."
He smiled gently at her.
KELVIN HALL 1:05 a.m.
Felicitys attitude towards Ben had shifted during the ride on the subway. She had been nothing short of charming from the moment they stepped onto the subway platform. She had smiled at him enchantingly and actually curled her arm through his as they walked. It almost seemed like she had forgotten the previous rift between them.
Ben was startled and happy about this. Until he realized it was the tequila that was making her act his way. And this soured his mood significantly. He didnt even really want to take her upstairs to her room once they got to the dorm, but she had sweetly insisted.
"I dont think Meghans here tonight. She was talking about some " She hiccuped quietly and continued after clearing her throat, "Some party that she was going to at a friends house. You can come upstairs "
With a serious feeling of disinclination, he agreed. She led the way from the elevator down the hall and struggled with her keys for a long moment at the door. He finally sighed with amusement and opened the door for her.
Giggling, she went inside and turned the light on, "See? I was right. No roommate."
He looked around uncomfortably, "I think I should go. You need to sleep it off, Felicity."
Her eyes were on him then. Steady and warm with invitation. She smiled slowly, the curve of her lips seductively moist and Ben suddenly felt a fervor pass through his whole body. The surface of his skin, still tanned from the summer sun felt oddly cold compared to the heat that had begun to burn inside him. The lower half of his body felt heavy with desire.
Felicity tilted her head and then reached down to the hem of her shirt. Grasping the soft cotton in her fingers, she tugged it upward, over her stomach, shoulders and her head. She tossed it haphazardly to the floor by her bed and shook out her hair.
Bens mouth opened to speak, but the words refused to
come. She was incredibly attractive. And the look on her lovely
face was enough to cause tremors to pass through him. He took a
step for the door, trying to stop this thing that was about to
happen between them.
But she stopped him with one simple word.
He turned back to her. Controlling these raging physical cravings had been his main goal those last few moments. Pushing away the lascivious thoughts and emotions was quite a chore by itself. But when she spoke, that soft compelling tone reached his ears with astounding grace. And when she reached down and unzipped her close-fitting blue jeans, he felt his resolve crumble completely and fall around him in discarded slivers.
KELVIN HALL 1:54 a.m.
Ben pulled the comforter closer around the two of their naked forms and brushed his warm lips against Felicitys forehead. She mumbled incoherently in her sleep, turning and snuggling up against him. Her hair was spread out behind her like a glorious golden fan and he held a strand of it in his fingers.
Hed never felt this kind of peace before. The passion that they had given and received on this night would remain in his memory forever. And for the ninth time that evening, he wished he had brought a notebook with him so that he could write. Not because he was bored. Certainly not that. But just because he had so much going on inside that he couldnt just let it pass over him and be forgotten.
She stirred yet again and he could feel her gentle breath against his bare chest as she said dreamily, "I love you."
He froze for a moment. Then he smiled lazily and closed his eyes.
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