Ashleigh Anpilova


Tony meets Jeanne for the first time.

A pre-het story.

Written: August 2009. Word count: 1,000




Carefully he made his way through the bar, his gaze already locked on his target. Not that she'd have noticed he was watching her, not even if she looked up. He'd done this kind of thing all his working life.


He noticed there was a seat near to where she sat, and he eased into it. He sipped his drink slowly and continued to watch her in his non-watching way. He saw her pick up her drink, take a swallow and put it back down. No one was watching him, no one was paying him any attention, so with a swift but controlled motion, he moved her drink and pushed his own glass into the place where hers had stood.


He'd noticed, as he'd been watching her, that she reached for the drink without looking, so the fact the color of the win in his glass was different from hers wouldn't register with her - at least he hoped not. He continued to wait, willing her to reach for her drink.


After a moment or two she reached, without looking, for her glass. Her fingers closed around the glass she thought to be hers, and she began to lift it towards her.


He touched her wrist. "Excuse me," he said, "I believe that one's yours." He nodded towards her actual glass.


"No, I don't think - Oh." She broke off as she looked at the glass she held. "I'm sorry," she said, putting it down and reaching for her real glass. "I don't know how that happened."


"No worries," he said, handing her glass to her. And then with a smile and a nod, he picked his glass up and settled back in his seat, pulling a book on movie genres from his pocket as he did so.


Under the pretence of reading (he even turned the page at regular intervals) he still kept his eye on her. More than once she glanced his way, turning her head slightly and then looking away. The movement was natural; had he not been studying her, had he not been who he was, it would have passed for her simply making certain she picked up her own glass, or just the normal way people move their heads.


He noticed the number of people around the table she sat at began to diminish, until only she and what was obviously a couple remained. There were fewer people in the bar overall, and he now tuned into the conversation. From the snippets he could hear, the couple were planning to go out to dinner and were inviting them to join them. But she declined. Five minutes later they left her alone.


Finally draining his glass, he couldn't remember the last time a drink had lasted him so long, he put his book down on the seat next to him and stood up. As he 'saw' her at the empty table, he smiled; she smiled back.


Mentally crossing his fingers and hoping he'd read the signs correctly, he nodded to her empty glass. "Can I buy you another?"


She looked at him for a moment and he waited. "Thank you," she said. "That would be nice."


He returned with the two glasses of wine; white for her, red for him, and handed her the former.


"Thank you," she said, again smiling. Then she held out her hand, "I'm Jeanne Benoit."


He took it and shook it. "Tony DiNardo," he said.


"Nice to meet you, Tony." She sipped her drink.


"And you, Jeanne." He drew her name out very slightly.


"I see you're interested in movies?" She picked up the book he'd left.


He shrugged. "I am. They're also my job."


She raised an eyebrow. "You work in the film industry?"


He laughed. "No. I teach the subject. I'm a professor in film studies - on-line."




"Yeah. It's a good way. I don't have to worry about having to meet the students. I doubt there's a teacher alive who wouldn't say his or her job would be far easier if it wasn't for the students."


Now she laughed. "I can relate to that," she said. "But in my case it's patients."


"You're a doctor?"


She nodded. "Yes. I have some exams coming up soon and this is my last evening out for a while."


"If you need someone to test you . . ." He trailed off and just looked at her.


"But wouldn't that break your 'no meeting the student' rule?" she asked, looking at him over the top of her glass.


He shrugged. "Rules are made to be broken."


She studied him. "Yes, I can see that fits you very well."


"So you want me to help you?"


"Maybe." She sipped her drink.


He took a long swallow of his wine and as he put his glass back down, he glanced at his watch. "Hey," he said suddenly, "I hope you don't think it's forward of me, but I haven't eaten all day and I wondered if you'd like to join me for a pizza or something." He waited; wondering if he'd overplayed his hand, if it wouldn't have been better to give her his number, get hers and call her in a day or two to remind her about his offer to ask her questions.


She was silent for a moment; then she nodded. "Pizza sounds good."



He left her outside her apartment, after arranging to meet her for coffee in a few days to ask her questions.


He left himself into his apartment, dropped his keys on the table and sighed heavily. He was exhausted; it'd been a while since he'd done this kind of thing, and he'd forgotten how tiring it was to begin with.


Pausing only long enough to snag a beer, he grabbed the phone and dialed a number. It was answered straight away. "Jenny. It's Tony . . . Yeah. It all went according to plan. I met her and I'm seeing her again in a few days . . . No. I won't forget . . . Night." He hung up.



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