note: this is more of a daydream than an actual dream, one of those scenarios that you think about as you’re falling asleep, making decisions consciously for a time before you really do fall asleep and the daydream morphs into an actual unconscious dream. this one concerns the Dan Stevens movie Criminal Activities. it follows the script closely, with the addition of an original character, some bantering dialogue, and a few tweaks to the storyline; so it’s basically a fan-fiction. if you haven’t seen the movie, there will be spoilers. you can check out my former post, Criminal Activities: appreciation for visuals of the characters.
I meet Noah for the first time at work. I waitress at a little hole-in-the-wall bar that Noah and his friend Bryce like to frequent. Noah appears quiet, somewhat stoic, but his eyes are always dancing with mischief. I like to eavesdrop when he and Bryce play darts, just to hear Noah’s wicked sense of humor. after I fail at holding back my laughter one too many times, Noah starts including me in the conversations. it doesn’t take him long to ask me out on a date. Bryce seems surprised at this development but supportive.
I’m really nervous on our first date, not at all like our interactions at the bar; I fear I’m coming across as an anxious mess! Noah moves from his seat across from me at the table and into the booth beside me instead. he tries to put me at ease, to let me know that my nervousness is okay. he says that he knows what it’s like to feel anxious and act in ways that you beat yourself up over later. he vaguely hints at his younger self and how he was always trying to fit in, I feel an instant kinship with him because of this. we change the subject quickly and talk of everyday things, as we realize we have similar tastes and temperaments. a kiss happens, sensual smiles go along with it. the date is good. we have several more dates that consist of various activities. a few months pass, then Noah says he has to attend the funeral of a High School friend. I offer to go with him but he says that Bryce is going too, and that he’ll be okay. I had learned snippets here and there about his group of High School friends; though there wasn’t a direct mention of bullying, I could fill in the blanks myself by the things Noah offhandedly said. when I asked questions about it, he would wave off my speculations, claiming ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’. when Noah returns, he unexpectedly cuts his hair, which makes it curlier than it was before. he loses some of his body definition as well, appearing lankier and not as broad. he says the change is for a job he is preparing for (he works for a security company that cases businesses to find their weak points and assess the risks, so sometimes it can be akin to undercover work). he becomes distracted, I don’t pry.
one morning Noah receives a telephone call and I see him acting in an odd, almost submissive manner. when he ends the call we stare at each other for a moment. he says it has to do with that job. I have been feeling like he is keeping something from me lately. he’s shared with me what he was doing on jobs in the past, talked through his thoughts out loud and sometimes I contributed. it was fun for us to talk through different scenarios together, all the what ifs, but ever since the funeral Noah has been different. I ask Bryce about it, thinking that maybe something happened on their trip. Bryce said it probably just brought up old baggage that Noah felt embarrassed to tell me, I should let him come to me when he’s ready. things feel fishy, and Noah knows I think it’s fishy, but I agree to let it go. I try to lighten things up after the phone call by teasing him about his hair, like I sometimes do. this time though he doesn’t join in, he says it used to be him, once upon a time. I apologize and say I was only teasing, I love to run my fingers through the soft curls; he acknowledges that he knows. he heads out then and I start to worry. I don’t hear from him that week.
while I’m running errands I see him enter the Royale hotel. I know Paula, who works there, so I trail in behind Noah at a distance. it’s the middle of the day and the place is basically empty. I ask for Paula and when she comes over, I ask if she can take her break because I need to talk to her about something. she sees how nervous I am, so she agrees. where we’re seated I can see that Noah is sitting with three other guys, one of whom is Bryce. I’m out of their line of vision and have to strain a little to see them. I fill Paula in on what’s going on. she says she knows all about asshole boyfriends, so she’s on board with my spy game. the men seem to be arguing and they are kind of pushy towards Noah; he just takes it, which isn’t like him at all. Paula says they’re sitting at Mr. Levato’s table and that means they’re meeting with him. okay, so this must really have to do with a job but why is Bryce there? and why is he joining in on berating Noah? Mr. Levato arrives and Paula jumps up, saying she has to get back to work. when the meeting is over and the guys leave, I try to duck down and hide my face but Bryce sees me. he doesn’t acknowledge me but we both know we’ve seen each other. Paula tells me to finish my drink and get my head on straight before I leave. as I’m thinking through things, Mr. Levato sits down across from me. he introduces himself and makes small talk, then he says he saw me spying. I almost choke on my tongue! I know he’s a high ranking connected guy, Paula says he’s nice but still, he doesn’t know me and I was snooping on his business meeting. I tell him the truth, that I’m dating one of those men but I don’t know what’s going on. that I thought things were really good but now it seems like maybe I was too understanding by not asking questions and maybe he’s in trouble and…and… I ramble and spout random nonsense because I’m nervous. Mr. Levato asks which one I’m dating. when I say Noah, he smiles and says I had him worried for a second. I don’t understand but he assures me that everything is under control and it will all work out. he then asks how I know Paula, and the topic of where I work arises. I know I’m getting let go soon because the bar is doing a major remodel so I’ll have to get another job. he then offers me one as a waitress. I can’t believe my luck! I stumble and stutter and almost laugh with astonishment, and then ramble some more. he laughs and says I’m ‘too cute’, and to come in next week for a trial run. I’m not sure how to explain to Noah how I got a job at the restaurant he was just at, so I don’t tell him. if he can keep secrets, so can I. he doesn’t even know about the bar remodeling because I’ve not really held a decent conversation with him in weeks. the next day Paula calls to say she vouched for me and to tell me the details of when to come in and who to talk to, etc. a few days later I work my first day at the Royale. it goes really well. Mr. Levato personally congratulates me, says I’m charismatic with the customers and it will be a good fit. Paula comes over and he hugs us both, saying we’re his best girls. Paula laughs and goes to help a customer. Eddie, as he tells me to call him, asks how things are with my boyfriend. I say I don’t know because I haven’t heard from him. then I ask him where the bus stop is because I don’t have a car, Noah was going to get mine looked at but, well. Eddie says I won’t ride the bus, Gerry, his right hand man, will drive me. it’s on his way. I don’t remember telling Eddie where I live but he seems to know anyway. I should probably be wary but I’m not. he’s the first person, besides Noah, that’s cared about my welfare in a long time. it’s nice. Gerry is actually quite interesting to talk to. I enjoy our car ride very much. I finally get a hold of Noah the next day but he’s very tight lipped about things, and when I ask to see him that evening, he says he’s busy. I want to cry, out of sadness and frustration. I quietly hang up without saying goodbye. Noah calls back immediately but I don’t answer, I just stare at the phone. I call Paula to see if she’s busy, she says no and that we should celebrate my new job and her boyfriend getting his just desserts. I agree because I’m curious about the boyfriend situation and she’s been a big help to me, so we end up going to a little coffee shop that her cousin just opened. while we’re sitting there gabbing about her asshole boyfriend, I hear Noah’s voice at the counter. he’s ordering a lot of coffee to go.
instead of announcing myself, I decide to follow him (he’s on foot). Paula sees too and we talk about what I should do. it’s not exactly the best neighborhood but I am tired of this game he is playing, so I want whatever is going to happen to happen. she understands and tells me to be careful, then she slips me some mace under the table. oh shit. maybe I shouldn’t go. no, I am! I follow at a distance and then speed up as I see him turning onto a side street, walking towards a broken down building. I call his name and he whirls around. I suddenly become nervous, fearing that he’ll be angry and what that might feel like directed at me. when he continues to be evasive I tell him that I’m trying to convince myself that this has to do with his job and not that he’s cheating on me, like my heart fears. I can’t hide my nerves and he sees that I’m wary of him, not just the situation. he assures me that it is the job. I ask if he is in trouble. he implores that it was nothing like that. he hesitates, and says the job has him tapping into his former self and he’s had to stay in that head space. I regret following him, apologizing for jeopardizing the whole thing, he assures me it’s fine. and then Warren opens the door.
Warren chastises Noah, asking how long it takes to get coffee. Noah tries to explain it away and points out that he ran into someone he knows. I wave awkwardly and then Warren whisper yells at Noah for bringing me back with him. Noah flinches and says I followed him. I agree and said that I did. Warren tells me to leave, almost like he’s scared for me. this causes me to feel protective of Noah and so I refuse. they both stare at me dumbfounded. Noah tries to convince me to go home and that he’ll see me later. Warren perks up and asks if I’m the girlfriend. I say yes. Warren laughs, remarking that I am real. Zach yells from inside to quit yapping and bring the coffee because they need the caffeine. Warren and Noah look at each other and then Warren just shrugs his shoulders and they go ahead in, I quietly follow. as I walk into the room I take in the scene before me and wonder what the fuck I’ve gotten myself into. Zach asks who the hell I am and Warren says I’m Noah’s girlfriend. Zach yells at Noah for bringing me back. my eyes glance over Bryce’s as I say he didn’t know I followed him. Zach asks from where did I follow? I say the coffee shop. Zach doesn’t believe that I just happened to be there. I chuckle and say “it’s a small world, huh?” they’re not laughing and Noah is looking at the floor. Marques, who is duct taped to a chair and looks the worse for wear, speaks up and says they’re being rude, that introductions should be made. Zach throws his hands up. I look around, not knowing if I should start. Warren smiles like the cat who caught the canary and says Noah should do the introductions. Noah looks at me with a piercing stare, then turns and names the guys one by one. then says I’m his girlfriend. I take stock and realize I can’t appear anxious here, this is serious. Noah is playing a part and he won’t break from it to comfort me, neither will Bryce. I need to show him that I can adjust and handle myself. I start to feel pissed at Noah for not acting like himself, pissed at myself for getting into this situation, pissed at Warren and Zach because I realize they are the High School friends who weren’t exactly nice to Noah, and pissed at Bryce for lying to me when I went to him for advice. I use that anger to put up my walls. I turn to Marques and ask what his deal is. he laughs at my bluntness and says me being there should liven things up! he introduces himself as Marques Flemmings and says he’s being held against his will. I turn to Noah and disbelievingly say “you kidnapped Demetris Flemmings’ nephew?! Jesus Christ!!” Marques is tickled pink that someone knows who he is and is giving the right reaction to his name. Noah gets defensive and says they’re doing someone a favor. I ask who, Zach says that’s none of my business. Bryce butts in and says we should drink the coffee before it turns to sludge.
while Noah deals with the coffee, I go into the kitchen to find a drink for myself. the guys are all in there and stop talking as soon as I enter. I make a wise crack about that not being suspicious at all. Warren is very curious about me being Noah’s girlfriend. Zach wants to know how that works, like does he ramble during sex and get turned on by math equations? I say I suck at math. Zach wonders what else I suck at. Bryce tells him to cool it, don’t be rude. Zach laughs and says the fact that I’m fucking Poodle is rude. it doesn’t make sense to him, I’m a good looking woman and seem like I have a badass streak, maybe I’m the dominant one in the relationship. I say, straight faced, that maybe Noah is a dominant. like 50 shades and all that shit. they all get quiet as they consider that but then crack up laughing and say no way. I make my way back into the main room. Noah is sipping his coffee, sitting on the couch. I plop down next to him and ask if there’s enough to share. he looks apprehensive but then says yes. I make small talk about the coffee, like everything is normal. Noah relaxes and holds the cup for me while I take a sip. I cuddle up close to him and try to subtly smell his skin and touch his side under his shirt, to ground myself and remind me that this is my Noah. he knows what I’m doing and kisses the top of my head. time goes by slowly. the other guys talk about random things, teasing Noah every once in awhile. Noah closes his eyes and leans his head against the back of the couch, mumbling about his head killing him. I start to stroke his hair. Zach sees and makes remarks about Poodles again, hinting at something that makes Noah tense. Warren tries to get him to stop. I give Zach a look to kill and ask why Noah’s existence threatens him so much. he’s incredulous. I press on and ask if Noah having a girlfriend threatens his manhood. he disbelievingly scoffs. I ask if he has a girlfriend. he says yes, he’s getting married in two weeks. I look like I don’t believe him, with the same cocky smirk that he keeps giving me. Bryce tells me to drop it. I laugh and look to Marques and say I think I hit a nerve. Marques laughingly agrees. Zach insults me and walks away. Marques says he’s glad I’m there. I shrug. I start rubbing Noah’s leg and Marques starts asking questions about how we met. Warren tells him to shut up, and tells me to quit making friends with the enemy. so I turn my attentions to Warren. Matt comes up in conversation and I ask who that is. they all get quiet and say he died. I ask if he’s the funeral Noah went to. he says yes. I chuckle and then say “well that explains it”. Warren asks what I mean, and I say Matt used to be the leader. Zach gets defensive and asks why I would think that. I say I know that Zach hasn’t been the leader for long, because he sucks at it. Zach tells Noah he needs to control his woman before she gets hurt. I hold up my hands and then pretend to zip my mouth shut. the phone rings and Zach answers as he goes into the other room. Warren tells me to quit goading Zach, that he’s under a lot of stress. I look at him like he’s crazy and say aren’t they all! they have Demitris Flemmings’ nephew, bloody and tied to a chair! I ask what the plan is anyway. Noah says a business arrangement fell through and they owe someone a lot of money. if they hold Marques for 24 hrs, then their debt is paid. Marques perks up at the mention of 24 hours. Warren tells Noah to shut up. Bryce says it’s Noah’s fault they’re in debt to begin with, they all start blaming each other. Zach walks in and kicks some things around, throwing a tantrum. he relates that his girlfriend has been cheating on him. Noah makes some remarks in his dry sense of humor and I laugh loudly, Zach pulls me off the couch and throws me into a table, I fall to the floor. fuck that hurt! Bryce gets him off me, as Noah anxiously looks between us before running over to me and seeing if I”m okay. as they all fight behind us, Noah whispers that my bravado is hot as hell but that I need to tone it down because Zach is ready to go postal. smashing into that table really did hurt my hip and I’m trying not to cry. Noah caresses my hip under my shirt and tells me it will all be over soon. I nod. he winks at me and then awkwardly helps me back to the couch. the others have calmed Zach down, until Marques chastises him for hurting a lady and then goads him about his girlfriend. Zach bloodies his nose and knocks his chair to the floor. when the guys try to wrestle Zach away from Marques, a wire is discovered under his shirt. Marques is an informant.
Zach calls his law enforcement buddy, trying to see what we should do. I ask if he should really be telling others about what’s going on, he shushes me. I side eye him and walk back out to the others. after he’s done with the call, I ask who they’re doing this all for anyway. Zach tells me it doesn’t matter. I say I really think it does. Zach ignores me and goes on about turning themselves in. I disagree, saying we should just hand Marques over like planned. Warren says I don’t get a say. I say I’m part of it now whether they want me to be or not. then it comes out that it’s Eddie who is behind this. Noah falls back on the couch, Marques gets quiet. Eddie shows up, addresses me with surprise. beckons me to come over to him, I look back towards Noah as I do. Noah is looking very surprised, and it’s genuine. Eddie puts his arm affectionately around me and asks how I got mixed up in this. I say Noah is my boyfriend. Eddie says “so this is the guy who’s been jerking you around?” as he looks menacingly at Noah. Noah freaks out, stumbling over his words and apologizing, saying he didn’t think Eddie would want him to tell anyone. Eddie agrees, says Noah did the right thing but that he’ll have a lot of making up to do. Noah swallows nervously and agrees. Eddie squeezes my shoulder and then tells me to go back to my guy. I do, as Noah immediately reaches out for my hand and pulls me beside him. Eddie makes sweet remarks about young love, then claps his hands together and proceeds with business. the guys argue about who will shoot Marques (not to kill, just to maim) Zach tries to bully Noah but I grab the gun and point it at Zach. I tell him to step away. everyone is shocked I have the gun. I start to act a little crazy, pointing it at all of them, saying I am sick and tired of the arguing and the bullying and them all being complete fuck ups! I direct most of my rant at Zach, Warren steps in to defend him and I shoot Warren in the leg. he drops to the ground in pain, everyone is stunned, Eddie laughs, Gerry compliments my shot. Zach tells me to shoot Marques since I’m evidently Annie Oakley. I pale. Warren is the first living thing I’ve ever shot and I’m surprised I even hit him. it must have been the adrenaline. Bryce says he’ll do it. he coaxes me to give him the gun, I look around like I’m in shock (which isn’t far from the truth). I look to Noah, he tries to calm me with his eyes but I know he needs to stay in character. I look to Eddie, he says he doesn’t care who does it, but someone has to take a shot so lets get moving. Eddie sees that I’m on the spot and says since I work for him, it shouldn’t be me. everyone is dumbfounded, including Noah. Gerry laughs and tells Eddie they think I’m an undercover thug. they laugh and Eddie corrects them by saying I work for him as a waitress. Bryce motions for the gun, I hand it over, then Bryce gives it to Zach. when he starts to refuse, Bryce says the leader should do it. Zach hesitates. meanwhile Warren has been standing, well leaning, on the couch watching this all play out. he grabs the gun and does it.
Eddie tells us all to scram and warns us not to say a word because we all took part in the crime. as Noah drives us home, I’m next to him in the front seat with Warren beside me and the two others are in the back seat. I’m fussing over Warren and his foot, which I feel horribly guilty about, while Noah is freaking out, also concerned about Warren, wanting to take him to the hospital. Zach refuses, saying it would be too suspicious. I give him a piece of my mind again, saying I should have shot him instead. Warren is quiet until Zach hits me in the back of the head and then he snaps at him. I rub my head, while scooting closer to Noah but holding onto his bicep. the others are fighting so he leans down and whispers that it’s almost over, just hang on a bit more. he kisses my head and says that I’ve been so brave. Bryce offers to go home with Warren to make sure he’s okay, which finally appeases everyone. after they’re all dropped off, Noah and I are very quiet. he takes me back to his place and as we step inside, his phone rings. I silently go back to his bedroom and lay face down on his bed. he comes in to join me, laying beside me in the same manner. we turn our heads towards each other and just stare for a few minutes. he breaks the silence by saying that the call was from Uncle Eddie. I raise my eyebrow and murmur ‘uncle?’ Noah then tells me the whole sordid tale, about who Eddie is to him, how he was involved in the plan all along, and how Noah orchestrated the whole thing for revenge on his former friends. Zach was the only one he intended to screw over by getting him fired and making him lose his girlfriend, who was having an affair with someone who owed Bryce a favor. Warren was just a bystander who he never meant to hurt (though I ended up hurting him!) and the man who stole away Zach’s girlfriend actually fell for her and planned to skip town with her; that made me feel good, at least. what about Marques and the fake debt to Eddie? what was going to happen to him? then Noah told me about the reward money from Marques’ uncle and how him, Eddie, and Bryce would all get a cut. wow. I still couldn’t wrap my head around it all! I timidly asked Noah what was going to happen to me. he seemed confused about my question. I clarified by asking if I still had a job with Eddie, and if Noah was going to leave me behind when he got his cut of the money. his eyes opened wide as he shot up off the bed and gathered me into his arms, holding on tight like I was the one that was going to leave. I burrowed into his chest and breathed him in, afraid to come out of hiding and see how he looked at me. with his voice full of conviction, he said that he wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was I. Eddie, who he assured me had already claimed me as his niece, would still be my doting boss. Warren, who was more worried about me than his injured foot, wasn’t hurt as badly as we feared, and Zach would be so wrapped up in his own troubles, that he wouldn’t give the rest of us a thought; so it was kinda good he was such a douche. and Marques, who was nobody without his family name, would prevent any retaliation against us by his uncle so that we’d keep his informant status quiet. as I lay wrapped in the security of Noah’s arms, his soft voice fervently whispered apologies and promises. I leaned my head back and placed a light kiss on his throat, higher and higher until I turned my head to reach his lips. then I told him to keep the hair because I really liked running my fingers through it. he laughed and easily agreed.