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Authors Note: Thanks for checking out our story! Please note if you're read some of our other stories, this is rated mature rather than teen. That being said, please enjoy!
Terrance James Miller was only known as such through his writing. Being a thirty-year-old creative writing teacher in Manhattan, he was TJ to friends, family, and most of his students. A semi-published author, TJ Miller enjoyed teaching a handful of classes at a public university in the heart of the city while pursuing his passion for writing in his free time. His apartment was a well lived-in one and he was a frequenter of parks (or any space with a bench, for that matter), yet the seasons were changing and fall was giving way to winter. The colder weather drove TJ indoors and now he tended to slip inside any place that had a few empty tables and coffee available.
This particular night, however, TJ had made plans to abandon his writing to seek entertainment elsewhere. Ashlee Kane, a fellow teacher at the university, had named a bar to meet her at which was a single subway ride and only two stops from the university. TJ, however, lived two more subway rides in the opposite direction. It was easy enough to get there and TJ didn't mind travel in the city, but when he arrived, it didn't seem like the invitation he'd been offered was remembered.
Ashlee was surrounded by at least five males (from the university, no doubt) who looked to range from sophomores to juniors. After making his presence known and being rewarded with quite a bit of silence and neglect for approximately an hour, TJ wandered outside again. He lingered just in front of the bar, searching through his heavy coat with frozen fingers for his pack of cigarettes and lighter. He sighed upon flipping open the top of the pack to see only one remaining. He leaned his head back on his shoulders and stared up through his brown bangs as he tried to recall if he had another pack on his kitchen counter or not.
Shaking his head to himself as he lifted his head and brought the cigarette to his lips, he cupped the end and lit it with the lighter as he inhaled and squinted from a harsh cold wind that picked up some of the light snow that had fallen over the day. Barely anything had stuck, but the canopies above the buildings had caught enough for the wind to carry.
Nearly everyone at the bar that night had been enjoying themselves, with the exception not only of TJ but of a first semester freshman by the name of Natalie Green. That particular bar allowed anyone and everyone through its doors and while it was a bit of a risk to house minors evening after evening, it was too profitable to forgo.
A recently-declared history major who had stumbled along through the first three-quarters of her first semester undecided, Natalie had been quick to make friends and even quicker to begin seeing her fellow male classmates. That night, she had gone out with the mentality of a singleton and had met a few new faces at the bar, but none that seemed interested in mere conversation. She and the two girlfriends she'd gone out with had made brief use of the small, crowded dance floor until things had gotten a bit out of hand.
With only the option of leaving available to her in order to get away from the guys she'd met who were too drunk to understand the word 'no', she stumbled a bit through the cramped entryway and out through the front door of the bar. The heeled boots she wore were proving difficult to walk in after the five shots and two mixed drinks she hadn't even paid for herself and despite the bitter chill of the city night air, the thin jacket she wore and alcohol in her system were enough to keep her warm.
"Assholes," she mumbled under her breath as she reached out to steady herself with a bare hand against the brick side of the building. Perhaps it was because she rarely drank (that night was quite an exception), but her emotions were a bit overwhelming that night. Never before could she recall herself crying over something as stupid as a disrespectful guy crossing such obviously stated boundaries, but there she was, reaching up with her free hand to wipe her fingers under her eyes and thankful she'd worn waterproof mascara.
TJ turned, inhaling the first drag from his cigarette as it remained pinched between his lips as he went about pocketing his lighter. He politely turned his head aside to exhale as he withdrew the cigarette from his lips, his eyes lingering on the young girl who had just exited the bar and was now close beside him. Her mutter came across clearly despite the loud traffic and sounds of the city and his brows rose briefly in amusement until he came to realize she was crying.
Not wishing to appear rude, but also feeling the need to make sure she was all right, he reached aside after his lighter was away and gently touched her forearm with his fingertips as he held his cigarette near his further hip. "Everything all right?" he posed to her softly, watching her hand disappear behind her blonde hair to wipe at her eyes.
Natalie had been too focused on her experience within the bar moments ago to notice that someone else had been standing outside. The touch against her sleeve barely registered to her but the voice she heard certainly did and a bit uncoordinated, she stumbled back from him a step or two, her hand never leaving the cold brick wall. She lifted her brown eyes from the sidewalk and pushed back her hair with an embarrassed sound of recognition. Had she truly expected to stumble out onto a city street and be alone?
"Yeah... m'fine," she mumbled, turning away and drawing a sniffling breath through her nose from both her crying and the low wintry temperature.
She obviously didn't look 'fine' and so he offered a small reassuring smile before glancing up at the glass door and windows to see no one coming after her. It appeared she hadn't told any of her friends that something was bothering her. When his hazel eyes met hers, he recognized her from the dance floor inside (as well as the fact that she was clearly drinking though she was well under twenty-one). Nodding just slightly, he studied her for a few more moments before speaking up. "That's not enough," he offered, though stopped himself from continuing as he rolled his eyes at his typical 'grown-up' remark in regard to her choice of clothing for that cold evening.
His comment didn't make sense to Natalie and she looked back to him with a questioning though somewhat unfocused and tear-filled stare, yet didn't speak. She reached up as she braced her shoulder against the side of the building for support and ran her fingers back through her straightened hair to comb it out briefly and keep the strands from sticking to her damp cheeks. She didn't recognize him at all and could only assume him to be a random occupant at the bar that night, taking a few moments for a cigarette break.
He could feel her watching him though his focus was elsewhere and he cleared his throat as he glimpsed back over at her for a second. "It's thirty degrees out," he said simply with a brief gesture to her to convey his point shortly. He left it at that, however, and turned his face aside as he covered his mouth with a hand to take another drag of his cigarette, though his eyes briefly returned to her. She was still quite obviously upset.
Natalie shrugged, her eyes dropping a bit sheepishly as if she was being scolded by her parents before she closed the front of her light jacket with her hands and folded her arms tightly to keep it that way. "I'm warm," she assured, glancing toward the street before pushing herself away to approach the curb. It wasn't a heavily trafficked avenue of the city, but the occasional taxi did make its rounds in hopes of scamming a car full of drunken college students who were too intoxicated to realize they were overpaying their fare to get back to the dorms.
It seemed to TJ that she was about to catch a cab somewhere alone and her steps gave away her inebriated state. "Hey, you're not..." TJ began, though tried to stop himself from getting involved. He ashed his cigarette into the street as he stepped up beside her and nodded back toward the bar curiously. "Shouldn't you wait for some friends?" he offered. It just felt like a bad idea for her to go about the city alone while drunk. Didn't she know any better?
Though she acknowledged his presence beside her, she didn't take her attention from down the street, trying to spot any approaching yellow cabs. "I'm not going to make them leave with me. They're having a good time. I started having a shitty time... so I'll leave by myself," she explained as she wiped her eyes with a hand once more, stepping a bit closer to the street but failing to gauge her distance from the curb properly.
His attention was downward, on the street as he ashed his cigarette once more, and he caught sight of half of her boot coming down against the edge of the curb. It was clear she hadn't meant to step in such a way and as her weight began to buckle he quickly acted, dropping his cigarette to the small amount of sludge remaining from the flurries earlier that day and quickly stepped into the minimal puddle in the street with one foot while keeping his other on the sidewalk as he caught her with an arm around her back. "I'll split a cab with you," he offered seriously with a roll of his eyes. He'd been having just as poorly a time.
She had been drinking too much to tense up and as he caught her, she let only a brief gasp pass her lips for a few long moments. As she stared down at the street, supported by TJ's arm, her features slowly began to twist and her crying returned unexpectedly, her arms heavy at her sides. "...okay," she mumbled with a tired nod. She had no idea who this man was, but was in no state of mind to care.
TJ grit his teeth, glancing over the girl's shoulder to see if Ashlee was visible from where he stood, but too many bodies inhabited the bar to make her out clearly. He knew he should find her and tell her that he was leaving, but truthfully she had been far too unconcerned over his whereabouts for the rest of the night for him to entertain the idea for too long.
"All right, c'mon, let's walk a couple blocks. We'll never get a cab here. -can you walk?" he questioned half-seriously, beginning to gently release her. He briefly glanced to the ground where his damp cigarette laid and he mentally groaned at the fact that it was his last.
Regaining her balance, Natalie heaved a sigh and wiped beneath her eyes yet again with her fingertips. "I can walk," she answered, licking her dried lips quickly as she stepped away from the curb with him and they began to walk along the slush that sat on the pavement. Though she knew nothing of her new companion, she could simply tell he was unlike the others she had met in the bar that evening. "You know," she suddenly began, her brows knitting in frustrated confusion, "I thought that maybe - maybe - guys in college would be different. That they wouldn't be after just, you know... sex. But I was completely wrong. It's like... I can't even talk to a guy without them wanting to get into my pants," she paused before allowing the alcohol to continue leading her rather verbal conversation starter, tripping momentarily as they walked, "I came out tonight and just wanted to have a good time and then all this shit... and - and it's like... what the hell, you know?" She looked to him, expecting agreement.
TJ hadn't heard the drunken ramblings of a teenager in quite a while and it brought a smile to his lips as she continued in her frustration and hurt, wiping the look from his face when she turned to him for a response. He licked his lips and let his brows rise slightly before shrugging and glancing to her. "Yeah..." he mumbled, hiding a smile as he echoed her, "...what the hell."
With something akin to an annoyed sound, she looked forward once more and hugged her jacket to her body. "I hate guys," she generalized, but after a beat or two, considered the fact that her comment might have been rude. "But you're all right, I think. I don't know, but I think so," she contemplated to him aloud, wiping her drying eyes once again before her boot slid on a patch of icy slush and she managed to grab his arm to steady herself.
Once again, TJ was right there to catch her and this time he stopped along with her. "I think here's fine," he decided aloud, despite the fact that they had only reached the corner of the very same block the bar rested on. He looked out to the street in search of a cab, sighing at the lack of a yellow vehicle anywhere.
TJ wondered when she might begin to sober up and what she might think of him having invited himself along with her. He hadn't even considered where she was headed; for all he knew she could live downtown while he lived rather far uptown. The girl was struggling, however, and he couldn't allow her to wander around alone.
"Where do you live?" he asked with growing uncertainty. There were things he'd neglected to find out that needed to be addressed. "...I mean, if we're going to share a cab."
Natalie had to actually consider his question for a moment. "Oh - um... I live in the dorms. The university across town," she told him as she recalled her residence. "You? I mean... I don't mean do you live in the dorms. You're not in college or anything."
The closest university was across town (the very university he taught at) and with an audible sigh, he had to smile at the irony. He'd been at work for six hours that day...
"Sure, I'll get you there," he offered since he knew what she'd meant. It was actually on the way and so he had to be thankful for that fact.
The first two cabs TJ spotted were occupied, yet finally a whistle caught the attention of an on-duty driver and one pulled up to the curb. TJ pulled open the door and gently ushered the young girl inside (feeling strangely uncomfortable in doing so due to the driver's gaze on her), yet he promptly slipped in behind her and gave him the name of the school and his own street name for the two stops they'd be making. There was no point in taking the subway from the school when he already had a cab.
Rather easily, Natalie slouched in the bench backseat and leaned against TJ's side as she closed her eyes, relieved to be off her feet as the cab gently pulled away from the curb. A quiet sound of contentment left her lips as she dropped her head against the relative stranger's shoulder but she couldn't be bothered by such a thing. His shoulder was comfortable and comfort was a priority to her in her current state. "You know, you should probably call whoever you were out with," she commented, presumptuously. "-girlfriend?"
TJ didn't comment on the status Ashlee had never been to him, but she was the one he found himself with on occassion and so he knew she was clueless, but referring to the fellow teacher. Offering a brief shake of his head, TJ stared ahead as they came to a red light and merely allowed himself to be amused with the girl's head on his shoulder. "It's all right," he offered shortly. "She looked content without me there." He wasn't sure if she realized he was out with someone and had left them practically for this girl, but that was enough said. "-You're not going to be sick, are you?" he asked a little uneasily, low enough for the cab driver not to overhear in case he though of kicking them out to be safe.
"Nn-nh..." she offered, barely moving her head as her eyes remained comfortably closed. "I feel fine," she laughed quietly, drawing in a deep breath through her nose and with it, taking in the lingering but impossibly faint scent of cigarettes mixed with the cologne he wore. "-and you smell nice," she added, her compliment a bit slurred.
TJ's brow rose slightly as he stared out the windshield around the headrest in front of him. She was a rather amusing drunk and he couldn't help but tease her as he glanced aside to look down at her lap where one hand toyed with the edge of her (still too light) jacket. "Do I?" he mused, though felt the driver's stare on him in the rear-view mirror and left it at that.
Though she had no knowledge of the man's identity (she could only guess him to be quite a bit older than herself), she felt at ease... most likely at fault of the alcohol. "So you're..?" she trailed off and finally lifted her head from his shoulder, opening her eyes halfway to watch him for an introduction.
Be it his good-nature or his never-failing ability to screw himself over, he ceased any and all possibilities (as he liked to consider it), by promptly supplying, "Thirty."
At first, it seemed Natalie nearly missed his misinterpretation as she began to nod with an exaggerated thoughtfulness. "Natalie," she mumbled simply in response and absently stared past him at the blur of colors from the passing scenery beyond the window. Then suddenly, she shifted her attention dizzily back to his face. "You're like... really young-looking though," she commented, as if truly fascinated by the reality of his age. Again, it was the alcohol.
Laughing shortly with a widening smile, TJ turned his face away from hers as he tipped his head aside. "Thanks," he offered with a nod as he looked back to her. Just after their eyes met the cab jerked to a stop and TJ's smile faded as he looked up to see construction blocking a decent portion of the road the cab driver had chosen to take. "Didn't I say-" he began, though dismissed the fact that he'd specifically told the driver not to take the particular road they were traveling on. All traffic was being rerouted and it would take an addition ten minutes just to get around the block they were trying to get to. "Forget it, this is fine," he announced and arched his hips to fish out his wallet. "I'll walk you the rest of the way," TJ assured her as he handed over the fee for the cab.
Inside, Natalie groaned over his offer. Though she was far from cold, she was growing drowsy and walking a few lengthy city blocks was as unappealing as anything. "Okay..." she sighed and began to slide across the bench seat to step out into the street just after TJ exited. She hurried a bit over to the curb, careful in the slush with her heeled boots and stepped up onto the sidewalk as she folded her arms over.
TJ shook his head, sighing at the fact that it seemed he would be taking the subway home since he'd given up the cab. He joined her on the sidewalk and had to sigh at how exhausted she looked. "Think you'll make it?" he teased, nodding in the direction they needed to walk. It was only four blocks up, but it was cold and he didn't doubt she longed to sleep off all the alcohol she'd consumed. Unlike Natalie, TJ hadn't been lucky enough to have more than a single drink and had he, he might be a bit more fun at the moment.
"Sorry, you said Natalie, right? I'm TJ."
"Right," Natalie answered with a nod and a somewhat lazy smile while they began to walk together. Despite her rather inebriated state, she had finally begun to take notice of how particularly handsome her knew companion was. Perhaps his being thirty might have meant something to her had she not been drinking that night, but at the moment, such a thing was completely negligible to her. "I'm eighteen. Bet you feel like a total babysitter right now," she laughed.
TJ slowed. She wasn't only in college, but a freshman. There was suddenly quite a bit of uncertainty in his step and he glanced over his shoulder before looking back to her. Studying her now, he saw how truly young she really was. She wasn't a senior... wasn't even a junior. This girl was just as young as the students he taught! -and at that very school!
"...what's your major?" God help him if she said creative writing.
"History," she stated with an unnecessary sense of pride in her response along with an accomplished grin before she promptly picked up her step, hurrying a bit to keep up with his pace. "Stop walking so fast," she laughed accusingly and reached for his arm to tug back on the sleeve of his coat gently.
He could just see the column in some trash magazine with a photo of the two at the top announcing a professor's inappropriate behavior and some drunken freshman. He weakly smiled and slowed in his pace, swallowing as he forced his eyes to the ground when he felt them trailing down her body where she walked beside him.
He had always considered himself rather good at politely ignoring young girl's crushes on him when he taught, but this wasn't a student of his... and it wasn't as if she had a crush on him. This was quite different.
"I think I'm starting to get cold," Natalie announced casually, though with a bit of a shiver as she slid her hands into the pockets of the thin jacket she wore. "Going out tonight was a really shitty idea now that I think about it," she sighed heavily, allowing her breath to leave her in a white cloud as her head fell back tiredly on her shoulders.
"Bit of a sailor's mouth on you, huh?" TJ offered, finally giving into an actual conversation as he continued to speak with his eyes on the ground and his peripheral vision on her pocketed hands. "First time living away from your family, I suppose... You go out every weekend, I bet." And truthfully, a girl like her probably wouldn't even go broke in the first semester as most students did. With her looks, she wouldn't have to buy herself a thing.
"Mostly," she answered with an amused smile over his assumptive remark as she lifted her head from her shoulders and stared aside at him. "But I've never seen you at that bar."
TJ dug his own hands into his pockets into small fists, smirking to himself as he shook his head at his own response before he uttered it. "I'll be there again," he said with certainty, but inside he wanted to stop making a fool of himself. You can't be serious...
Natalie's smile widened a bit but soon enough, she had to ask, a hint of a teasing tone in her otherwise relaxed voice, "Yeah? With your girlfriend..?"
Groaning mentally, TJ offered a short shake of his head. He hadn't thought it worth correcting before, but now that they were sharing more than a ten minute cab ride...
"No girlfriend," he offered, glancing over to her with his brows raised and his stare serious though calm. He knew he would be questioned on it due to what she'd said earlier, but the bottom line was that Ashlee Kane was not his girlfriend.
"Huh," Natalie commented in amused acceptance as she turned forward with a smile she didn't bother to try controlling.
Similarly, TJ turned forward with a roll of his eyes, not even bothering to conceal the disbelief he had in himself for even just the thoughts he was having. His smile was wide and he leaned his head aside as he continued to stare forward, speaking with a sigh. "...You know, you don't know a thing about me. You really shouldn't trust strangers. - and you told me where you live."
"And..?" she prompted with a quiet laugh as she watched the side of his face with a calm stare. If she had been sober, she would most definitely have realized how inappropriate her obvious flirting was.
He pulled back with a laugh at her behavior and inhaled through his teeth before shivering just slightly due to the cold. Clearing his throat, he shook his head before smiling over at her briefly. "And nothing," he offered finally, hoping it would appease her. "Hey-" he said shortly, having to quickly reach out to catch her elbow sharply to keep her from attempting to cross the street without the light. A large city bus passed them doing a steady thirty beside the curb where she had attempted to step and he sighed heavily.
Though it took a few delayed moments for her to react, she soon realized what had nearly just happened and she let out a startled breath as she looked to him in dazed surprise. "Wow." Yet then, she began to laugh, "... that would have made going out tonight an even shittier idea." Could her humorous outlook really be blamed that evening? "Good thing I had you around to save me," she added in a lower voice and with an ever-present smile before she turned to step off the curb after properly looking both ways.
Gritting his teeth over the stubborn, drunken, and clumsy girl, TJ followed since it seemed there was little else he could do. After almost getting herself killed, he had to accompany her home and see to her safety.
"So, TJ, what is it you do for a living?" she asked suddenly, clasping her frozen hands behind her back as they again began to walk side-by-side.
He was definitely not about to tell her he taught at the very university she attended (his ego wouldn't allow for her laughter) and so he looked over at her and then ahead the single block they had left. "I write," he supplied. It wasn't a lie in any form; teacher by day and writer by night as well as weekend and holiday, TJ Miller was a published author (though as it stood merely in magazines and newspapers).
It was an unexpected answer to hear and she slowed a bit, looking over at him with interest. "Oh, yeah? Write what? Books? Or for the newspaper or something?" He certainly seemed to at least know what he was doing with his life, as opposed to the numerous idiots she'd been entertaining at the bar that evening and many prior evenings as well.
"Both. But mostly magazines," he admitted as he watched her. Most people didn't have the kind of reaction she did and it was a nice change. "Here, sorry," he said as he stupidly realized his hand had been curled in his pocket around a pair of gloves. There wasn't much of a walk left, but it would be nice to offer them.
Natalie's eyes followed his arm down to his hand where he offered her a pair of gloves and silently (though obviously grateful), she accepted them and began to ease them onto her hands. "Little big," she pointed out with a laugh, yet before she could say much more, her eyes caught sight of something white floating just past TJ's shoulder and a brief glance above to the overhead street lights greeted her with the returning sight of snow. "Look," she pointed out. Though almost every New Yorker was sick of snow by then, Natalie had yet to get her fill. "I love that it snows so much here in the winter. I mean, in West Virginia it snows too, but it's like this one big storm a year and we rarely get over three inches... Here it just keeps coming."
Hearing that she was from so far made TJ listen a little more closely to her speak. The faintest trace of an accent was audible in some of the words she spoke and he smiled at that fact. "I'd prefar once a month," he replied honestly. "Bad weather in the city makes it hard," he shrugged. The worse the weather, the worse the traffic and when it was congested, it was harder to get around.
"...Which building are you in?" he asked, motioning down the street as they came to a stop at the corner. There were only two buildings housing students for that particular college, but the street they stood on rested between the two.
"You know there's two dorm buildings?" she laughed, though nodded for them to head to the right to get to the building she lived in - the building with apartments rather than doubles and singles.
He supposed it was the simplest of things and she might not catch it in her drunken state, but she might be even smarter than he thought. Saying nothing about it, rather following her to the building's entrance, TJ held his tongue.
Natalie slowed as they reached the entryway to the tall apartment building and turned to face him with a laugh, beginning to pull off his gloves at the fingertips to return them to him. "You've safely escorted me back to my building," she joked, reaching out to hand him the gloves she'd borrowed for the past block.
TJ stepped closer, reaching out to take them with a nod of thanks. "That I have," he replied with a smile. She was probably a rather nice girl when sober (she was pleasant when drunk, even). "You've got your student ID and everything..?"
She hadn't brought a purse out that evening, or barely any money for that matter, and she reached into the back pocket of her jeans to fish out her ID, holding it up as her answer. "All set. Thanks for the four block cab ride too," she joked before leaning up without warning to kiss his cheek in thanks despite her amused laughter.
TJ grew still before laughing as he accepted the kiss on the cheek and instincitvely reached out to gently brush her covered shoulder with his hand as he nodded. "Sure... you'll sleep that off, no problem?"
"I don't get hangovers. Lucky me, right?" she answered, rolling her eyes as she turned, yet failed to realize just how close to the entrance doors she'd been standing in the first place. As she walked directly into the doors, she stumbled back and began to laugh harder than before as she lifted a hand to the corner of her forehead - right where she'd bumped it.
"Oh my- Damn, are you all right?" he asked in disbelief, quickly moving forward to steady her by her arm as he took hold of her and turned her to face him. Squinting lightly, he eyed her forehead before sighing and (albeit with a quickening pulse), he reached for the door that was open since her card was waved over the sensor and he opened it and ushered her inside.
"What? You don't find this funny?" she asked through her lingering laughter, rubbing at the corner of her forehead with the heel of her palm with a brief wince. "Ow... I must've really nailed my head on that door." On the plus side, they would both soon be a great deal warmer from the heated foyer of the apartment building and she sighed as she wandered over to the elevator to press the call button.
The building lobby wasn't particularly warm with the door being opened and closed so frequently, but the lack of wind was enough to let his shoulders drop. As he stood close to the elevator with her, he felt increasingly awkward. There was somone at the front desk, a student no doubt, but their attention was on a laptop and since those that came and went had an ID, they didn't seem to care to look up. Though it eased his mind, he didn't feel comfortable at all. He knew he should have excused himself, but she had just hit her head. "...You have ice or something?" he asked awkwardly.
Natalie turned to lean back against the wall beside the elevator doors tiredly, her hand still gently rubbing at the corner of her forehead. "I feel like this would hurt a lot more if I hadn't been drinking..." she groaned, ignoring his question though it wasn't purposeful.
"All right, let me see," he sighed and stepped forward, close to her as he reached up to gently take her wrist and lower it from her forehead. He tilted his head, staring down at her as he surveyed what he saw to be a small bump forming. "You'll live," he whispered gently with a growing smile.
"I don't know..." she mumbled in amusement as she squinted up at him playfully. "I might have a concussion."
He reached up and took her cheeks in hand, squishing her face with a laugh since he simply couldn't help himself. "Looks fine to me."
She pouted despite his hand and narrowed her eyes rather than squint. "Mhm."
He lessened the hold he had and instead let his thumbs brush her cold cheeks. "You'll be fine," he assured her before letting his hands fall and he slipped them into his pockets as he looked to the elevator door which opened with a harsh ding.
A lazy smile once again appeared on her lips, reminding them both of her drunken state, and with a low laugh, she nodded and pushed herself away from the wall as the doors to the elevator opened. "Night," she told him as she stepped into the elevator and turned to hit the button for the fifteenth floor.
With a weak smile, TJ stood there awkwardly as the doors began to close and he half nodded in response. His lips parted to say something and his features crinkled just slightly as he smiled and shot a hand out suddenly, causing the doors to cease and open once more. Now with the elevator waiting for another passenger, TJ laughed low in his throat as he took a slow step forward to join her and kept a hand out behind him to keep the doors from closing all the way. "...But if you did have a concussion..." he began, his smile turning to a light grin. "I think I'd feel better if I left you in the care of your roommates."
Momentary surprise crossed Natalie's features as she watched his hand shoot out between the doors but as he stepped inside the elevator with her, she leaned her shoulder against the wall with a quiet laugh. Her alcohol-soaked mind wasn't about to remind her of his age or of how inappropriate such a gap between them would be and so she simply stood there, her smile widening slowly with a shrug of acceptance.
Nodding in surprise, TJ turned slowly and seeing which button was illuminated from her selection, he pressed it again to cause the doors to slide closed. Backing up, TJ leaned against the wall beside her with his hands against the metal bar behind him as the elevator began its ascent. They had a few dozen floors to climb, but TJ knew courage was seldom and fleeting. His arm brushed hers and he simply waited for a reaction, curious if she was merely a drunken flirt or she found herself as strangely attracted to him as he found himself to her.
Natalie's eyes lifted as she felt his arm brush her own and with the same smile, she bit her lip and shifted her attention to the digital readout to watch as the number continued to climb with each new floor. Her night was turning in a rather unexpected direction but could her interest in him be helped? He hadn't once tried to grope her or said one rude remark since they'd met and to top it all off, he was very attractive. "My head's pounding a little," she commented casually.
"Yeah?" he questioned, grateful for the reason to turn to look at her as he not only glanced, but turned his entire body to face her. Leaning with a hand against the bar at his hip, he reached out casually to the side of her face to place a knuckle beneath her chin and turn her face to his. Of course this motion should have been followed with an observation of her forehead, but all too quickly his attention shifted over her features and soon, her lips.
It was a strange feeling to be attracted to this young girl as he was to women closer to his own age. Never before had TJ had such a strong desire to take things further than mere conversation with an attractive student. He knew his boundaries, but this girl wasn't his student (technically) and she hadn't at all said a thing about his age.
He gave up on arguing it, on lamenting over all the many things that told him to stop and opted to focus on the single thing that caused him to end up with her at all. She's adorable and you want to kiss her. No sooner had he thought it had he leaned down and lightly pressed their lips together.
Natalie only realized that she'd been hoping for a kiss from him until nearly a full two seconds after the soft presence of his lips against her own finally registered to her sluggish consciousness. Her eyes slowly closed as she relaxed back against the wall of the elevator with a content sigh from her nose and blindly reached out to hook her fingers into the pockets of his coat.
The light presence of her thin fingers hooking onto the pockets of his coat registered to him and soothed his unease. Perhaps a kiss wasn't so out-of-the-question as he had thought. Afterall they'd had a nice evening walk, despite her tired and drunken state, and the conversation had been entertaining enough. Though part of him nagged that she was drunk, he didn't think any harm could come from a kiss.
The elevator was still climbing and so was his courage. Inching closer still, the hand he had on the bar behind him slid until it was just behind her lower back and it came lightly against the thin jacket she wore, his other hand still positioned gently beneath her chin as his lips brushed hers again gently, daring to coax her lips apart as he kissed the young girl.
Natalie felt as if she was in a haze - alcohol-induced, but nevertheless a pleasant one - and without hesitation, she slowly drew her arms back until her elbows came against the elevator wall, in turn drawing TJ closer by his pockets until a mere inch or two separated their bodies. Though they new bits of information about one another, they were still practically strangers... but Natalie couldn't bring herself to care. She parted her lips against his, withdrawing altogether for a teasing moment of hushed laughter and then leaned further into the kiss than she had been before.
Though disbelief was present over how the night had turned out, TJ was more concerned with using the fleeting minute or so worth of time he had left with her in a memorable way. How could he think he would ever see her again?
The hand at her back lifted as he was drawn forward and he pressed his palm to the wall instead which enabled him to lean into her. With eyes slipping open just faintly to watch her lips curve into a slight smile as she laughed, he found himself drawn into a similar haze. Her playful nature drove him crazy and the hand at her chin slid gently behind her head as he guided her head to tip aside and he proceeded to deepen the kiss gently.
Natalie had kissed a handful of guys before, among other things, yet be it the alcohol or the kiss itself, that moment with TJ was most definitely her most enjoyable yet. Soon enough, however, the harsh bell from the elevator rang as the doors parted to an empty hallway and Natalie blindly reached out for the nearby buttons to press the door button to keep them open. With an audible breath, she pulled back from his lips and opened her eyes to stare up at him, keeping still between TJ's body and the elevator wall for the moment. "...I have to go," she whispered with the faintest of surprised yet disappointed smiles.
TJ's breath left him in a heavy exhale as he let his hand fall from her neck to reach up and press a thumb beneath his lip as he watched her in thought. He didn't say anything at first, only nodded, and finally as a smile began to tug on his lips, he let his hand drop as he looked up with a shake of his head to himself. "Right," he smirked. "Nice meeting you," he added as he looked back to her and lifted an arm to hold the door open for her instead.
She bit her lip and ducked beneath his arm to slip out of the elevator as he held the door for her, with only a brief glance over her shoulder in his direction. Silently, she turned and started down the empty and relatively silent hallway, a hushed breath of disbelief leaving her as she smiled to herself. Had that really just happened? Her pulse and heart were still quick from the rush of it all and as she pulled out her single key from her back pocket upon reaching her door, she cast a short glance down the hallway to see the elevator doors fully close. She still felt quite drunk but if she focused enough, even with her limited capacity to do so, she could see feel TJ's lips against her own. Letting herself into her apartment, she only had to walk a few feet to reach her own room and having left it unlocked, she stumbled a bit inside and simply collapsed onto her bed with a content sigh.
TJ leaned heavily against the back of the elevator, grinning quietly to himself as he stared ahead at his blurred reflection in the elevator doors. Though it might have been acceptable to beat himself up over kissing someone twelve years younger than himself, TJ found he could only find amusement in what had happened. Even at thirty he was apparently attractive enough for a freshman in college to want to hook up with. He dismissed the fact that she was drunk and allowed his ego to feed on the compliment of her company. When the doors slid back open, the student at the desk eyed him curiously and he hid his smile as he left the building in silence.