Hey guys, this would be my first ever one shot. This idea was circling around my head for a while and then I decided to sit and write it down.

I hope you guys like it. I enjoyed writing this story a lot and I hope you guys enjoy reading it just as much as i enjoyed writing it. Do tell me how you liked it/hated it. Feedback from you guys really matter to me. So please take an incy bincy bit of time and write a few words.

And this is the story. Enjoy! =)

The Deal

When I knocked on his apartment door that morning he answered the door completely stripped to the waist. And no he wasn't even wearing pants. He had a towel wrapped around the waist and it was so low that the one thing I was afraid of right then was that it would fall of any moment and I would be presented with the sight that I didn't want to see.

Don't get me wrong. He has a body to die for. With all the toned muscles and the abs. And with all the water dripping down his coal hair and down his chest and – well he was looking positively delicious.

But not much to me. You see when you see your best friend like that early in the morning it is not a delicious sight, (okay maybe a little, but only if you can forget how he looked as a twelve year old), it's positively horrifying.

'Oh my good lord in heaven!' I exclaimed, quickly shielding my eyes from what was in front of me. 'Didn't anyone ever teach you to put on a fucking shirt before answering your door?'

Even though I wasn't looking at him, I knew he was rolling his eyes.

'I wasn't expecting you,' he said. 'What are you doing here, Emma?' he went to the point.

'Will you throw on some clothes so I can look at you and then tell you why I'm here?'

'Nope,' he said.


'So why are you here?' he asked.

I looked at him anyway. And just at his face. No where down that. Crap! Did I just sneak a peek?

He raised a very black eyebrow and looked at me with those intense green eyes. I never really found out why but that look always made me so weak that I came out blurting out my deepest, darkest secrets to him. He was the only person alive who knew all my secrets and he manipulated me onto spilling everything. Well he does spill his to me in return so we are pretty much on fair ground.

'I need a place to crash,' I confessed sheepishly.

He raised both his eyebrows this time. 'You know what, I'll throw on some clothes. I'm guessing this story's gonna take a while.'

Ian handed me a mug of steaming hot chocolate and I took it gratefully. I was freezing. And I was pretty sure my nose had gone red because of the cold. It was freaking Antarctica outside! And thankfully he had pulled on a black sweatshirt and a pair of jeans. His jet black hair was sticking up in literally all directions seeing as how he had been so vigorously rubbing his head with a towel a minute ago.

'Thanks,' I said as the warmth of the chocolate spread throughout my body. Let me just tell you it felt like it had landed in my hands straight from heaven.

'So what's wrong?' Ian asked leaning the kitchen counter that I was currently sitting on top of. He folded his arms to his chest and gave me the one eyebrow raised look again.

'Shut up,' I said. 'Let me just take in the taste of this thing first.'

He might have rolled his eyes but I didn't care. Telling him could wait. I first needed to take in the aroma of the delicious drink of heaven in my hands and let the smell rise up my nose and spread through my body too and then let the taste spread through my tongue and the warmth hug my throat as I slowly swallowed.

'Okay that's it,' Ian said, jerking the mug out of my hands. 'Talk.'

'You just didn't do that!' I said narrowing my eyes at him.

'I think I just did,' Ian replied with a shrug and placed the mug high up in one of the kitchen cupboards that he knew I couldn't reach. Damnit, I liked him so much better when we were twelve and I was taller than him. Now he was like six feet three inches and I was still in my five feet three inches and it drove me crazy.

'I'll just get the chair and climb up and get that,' I told him.

'Or I could just give it to you after you tell me what happened,' he made another proposition. I was too lazy to drag a chair in here so I liked his proposition better.

'Okay fine,' I said. 'Like I said, I need a place to crash for a few days.'

'What happened to your place?' Ian asked.

'I dumped John,' I replied swinging my legs to and fro and hitting the back of the kitchen counter with my heels.

'Okay,' Ian said, trying to understand. 'First of all. Good for you. Secondly, I still don't get what that has to do with you needing a place to crash. Didn't the guy stay with you in your apartment?'

'Yeah he did,' I replied. I couldn't put the bitterness out of my voice. Trust me neither could you if your boyfriend was John. Really, was I blind the entire relationship?

'What happened?' Ian asked.

'My landlady was a big fan of John because he was oh-so-sweet and oh-so-charming,' I said. 'And when I told him he had to leave, you have no idea the fuss he threw! And my landlady heard that and she came upstairs and would you believe it in his oh-so-charming way, John told her that I dumped him and completely made me look the culprit when it wasn't my fault at all.'

'Why'd you dump him?' Ian asked.

'He was cheating on me!' I replied. 'Scumbag! And so my landlady said she wouldn't have a bitch like me living in her building and said that she was giving the apartment to poor old Johnny! Hell I wasn't going to stand there listening to a grumpy old cougar witch and a cheating scumbag so I grabbed my stuff and came here.'

'Okay,' Ian said.

'I'm looking for apartments and as soon as I get one I'll be out of your hair,' I pleaded. 'Please. Please. Please. Please.' The puppy dog eyes always worked on him.

Ian sighed. But then a smile broke on his face. I didn't like that smile. It meant he was going to tell me something to do that I was not going to like.

'Okay,' he said. 'I'll strike you a deal. You can stay here. But in return who have to do a little something for me.'

'Why did I not see this coming?' I said more to myself than to Ian.

'In return you have to help me get rid of the girl I'm dating right now and any future girl I ever need to drive away,' he said. 'What do you say?'

Oh did I forget to mention that my best friend is a complete man whore? He had never been in a serious relationship in his entire life. Let alone serious, he had never been in a relationship that lasted more than a week. Okay, maybe that's not true. He had been a serious relationship back in high school once. And the cliché story happened. He fell in love with girl (Rachel I think her name was). Girl dumped him. Left him heartbroken for months and made him the shameless being he is today. I do remember punching her right after the dumping but that I never mentioned to him. It was best he didn't know. Plus, it's not like I regret what I did. No one hurts my best friend like that and gets away with it!

It's been almost seven years we've been out of high school. He became the professional photographer that he always wanted to be. Well he's not there yet. But he's getting there. And to top it all off, he's the modeling type photographer. You know the ones that take pictures of semi naked or hell full naked size zero girls. So he gets to be around size zero girls in work too. You know my best friend really chose the occupation he could really get the best out of.

Not that my life turned out to be bad. I'm getting to my dream as well. I got the job as a chef's assistant and soon as I was done picking up tips and had enough fund I was so going to open that restaurant I always wanted to. It was going to have the best food in the world and lots and lots of hot chocolate! Mmmmmm…

'Emma?' Ian drew me back from my sweet thoughts. I glared at him for that.

'Thinking about hot chocolate,' he said. It wasn't even a question. I looked dolefully at the top of the cupboard staring at the red mug which had drink of heaven in it.

'I'll give it back,' Ian said, reaching up with a lot ease and getting the cup down. 'But before that. Deal or no deal?'

I looked at the mug in his hand and the fact that I needed someplace to stay and then I looked at the mug again.

'You got yourself a deal,' I said. 'Now give me that!'

'You want me to get rid of her!' I said. I must have sounded tremendously surprised because he looked a little taken aback.

'Yeah?' It came out more like a question.

'But why would you do something like that?' I asked. I mean the girl sitting there at the bar was a complete knockout. With perfect blond hair that would put Rapunzel to shame and the perfect body. And Ian wanted me to get rid of her. What was he? High?

'I'm not high,' Ian said. Oh, I said that out loud? 'She's clingy.' Ian said with a half shrug. 'Definitely not my type.'

'Hello, since when do you have a type?' I said back. He just gave me one of those crooked smiles that would make any girl have a cardiac arrest (I was glad I was immune to it) and said, 'You just remember the plan.'

'Of course,' I said with a sigh. 'Go ahead. I'll see you in a bit.'

He gave me a wink and he was heading towards the blonde. He smiled at her. And then there was the short (or long) period where she tried to eat his face but then they sat opposite each other and talked. Seriously Ian was ditching girls like her. If girls who looked like that could get dumped. Then I shouldn't feel bad about myself for being cheated on. I mean look at her. An absolute heaven made beauty and look at me. With very shortly cut chocolate brown hair and blue eyes, I always found myself the normal looking kind. Not ugly but not like one of those girls either.

Ian dropped a tissue in the floor and bent to pick it back up. Yep, that was my cue.

I walked in like a confident woman who was supposed to be confronting Ian with a lot of practice. And let's just say I played my part to the letter.

'Ian Waters!' I exclaimed as soon as I reached the table. 'HOW DARE YOU!'

'Emma?' I gotta say Ian was playing his part pretty well as well. The look of horror on his face. Any one would think I was the Loch Ness Monster. 'Baby this not what it looks like.'

'Of course it isn't!' I shouted back. 'And Amy Sinclair the week before wasn't what it looked like either was it? And Mandy Brookes the week before that! Ian it's one thing your cheating on me but to think I would be so stupid to think this is not what it looks like!'

The blonde girl spoke up then. 'Ian darling what's happening? Is this your ex?'

'If I were his ex it wouldn't be cheating now would it?' I threw back. Seriously, beautiful but definitely dim. Yeah Ian was better off. 'I'm his wife!'

'You have a wife!' the girl burst out.

'What the hell am I going to tell our kids Ian?' I demanded.

'You have kids!' the blonde spoke up again. 'I'm outta here!' With that she picked up her perfect little purse and walked out of the bar. I stomped out of the bar too to make the whole thing look real to the audience.

Ian joined me a few seconds later on the side walk a few blocks away from the bar.

'How incredible was I?' I asked him with a high five.

'Incredibly incredible,' Ian said with a grin.

'Isn't news gonna spread that your married now that she knows,' I asked.

'Oh she's not from the agency,' Ian clarified. 'I think I met her at the bar.'

'You think?' I asked. 'You don't even remember where you met her? You are such a jerk. Why am I even helping you?'

'Because I'm providing you with a roof over your head,' Ian said.

'Seriously, why can't you break it off yourself?' I asked.

'You don't think I tried?' Ian replied. 'Nothing was working on her! And you are now going to help me get rid of the girls like that.'

I shrugged and then grinned up at him. 'It was fun anyway.'

The nights as Ian's place were a nightmare until I finally adjusted. He had an extra spare bedroom which he so gallantly gave to me. Not so gallant when you could practically hear what he did every night in his room! Seriously, did the girls have to make so much vocal noise? I never made noises! Or that could be because John wasn't very good at it. Okay, yeah so maybe I did wish someone could make me scream like that but obviously it wasn't Ian! Eww!

So I took refuge of my earplugs and finally got to get some sleep. Ian usually made it up to me with hot chocolate or dark chocolate. He knew how to play his cards well. And I had to pretend to be his ex girlfriend, his current girl friend, his wife, his sister oh you name it to help him get rid of his one night stands. Okay, so yeah, maybe I didn't like how he treated the girls but hey I was desperate here. I needed a place to crash which he was providing me with and seriously if the girls knew what was good for them it was better they steered clear of Ian anyway.

My apartment hunting wasn't going all that well. All the apartments sucked so badly. And the ones that were good, I couldn't afford them.

'What's up?' Ian asked, as I slumped back to his place from work and apartment hunting one day.

'Life's cruel, that's what,' I replied.

He snorted. 'What's wrong now?'

'I'm not getting any good apartments!' I said, collapsing down on the sofa beside him. Ian was sitting on the sofa doing something very attentively with a camera. I rolled my eyes and walked to the kitchen. Only one way to get warm on the cold, freezing night like this. Hot chocolate. I poured it till the brim of the mug and walked very slowly back to the sofa careful not to spill any. I wasn't worried about Ian's carpet I was only worried that I would waste hot chocolate even if it was only a few drops. I sat back down and slowly took in the first sip and licked the remnants off the brim. And then closed my eyes and felt the warmth slide down my throat. And then ruining my perfectly blissful moment, I heard a click and then a second one. My eyes shot open.

'Ian!' I exclaimed. 'You jerk!'

Here I was drinking my hot chocolate with so much peace and he just had to ruin the moment by snapping pictures of me during that time! And then have the audacity to grin at me like that!

'Gimme that!' I tried to snatch away the camera from him but he was too fast for me.

'Relax, Em,' he said holding the camera far away. 'I was just testing the new camera. I promise not to use your photo for Elle,' he joked.

I stuck my tongue out at him. And he started seeing the photos.

'Ah, this is priceless!' he said.

'Lemme see,' I said. Okay, he got a picture of me licking the brim of the mug and – 'eww who takes pictures like that. Nobody takes photos of people licking the brim of the mug.'

'You'd be surprised,' Ian told me.

'You take photos of women licking mugs!'

'Where do you think the posters of coffee ads and tea ads or any other drink ads come from?' Ian told me. 'Photographers need to take those pictures.'

'Oh right, the horny looks the models give with the cup of tea in their hands,' I realized suddenly. 'How did I forget that? There's one right outside the restaurant I work in. Don't people give you those looks like that when they want to go to bed with you? Isn't it something inappropriate to give over a cup of freaking tea?'

Ian laughed and then shrugged. 'Why, you can't invite someone to go to bed over a cup of tea?'

'Yeah, sure you can but the looks they give it's more like they are inviting you to bed and planning to pour the cup of tea – never mind.'

Ian laughed again. 'I would have asked you to finish that sentence if you weren't my best friend.'

'Well, at least I don't look horny,' I said, looking at the picture again.

'No, you don't,' Ian confirmed looking at the picture too.

The bell went right then and Ian jerked his face away from the photo on the camera screen.

'I'll make myself scarce,' I said. 'And say hello to the earplugs.'

The unbelievable things I had to do for Ian. I even had to speak French to scare of this girl. And all the girls Ian dated were like majestic. I couldn't understand how he managed to nail all of them and then have it in him to get rid of them.

'Your French always impressed me,' Ian said. 'What did you say exactly?'

'You better not know,' I told him.

The next day was the best getting-rid-of-girlfriend-day ever. I got to slap him! And shout at him that he gave me syphilis but that's not important (He didn't want to take this girl to bed for some reason and I had to think of something to say). Important thing is the slap. It kind of felt satisfying.

'Oh you enjoyed that didn't you?' he asked. His cheek was still visibly red from the slap.

I laughed. Seriously I couldn't stop myself.

'You didn't have to hit me so hard,' he complained, massaging his cheek.

'Hey, it's only fair,' I said. 'You gave me a deathly disease.'

Ian rolled his eyes. 'I need to sit down,' he said as he occupied a park bench.

'Ian, it's below zero outside and it's almost midnight and you want to sit on a park bench?' I asked.

'Yes,' Ian said. 'I didn't know your slaps could drain so much energy out of people.'

So I went and sat down beside him. The night was cold and I wrapped up my muffler tighter with my gloved hands. I was fairly sure my nose had already gone red.

'Are you ever going to stop doing this?' I suddenly asked Ian.

'Doing what?' Ian asked.

'You know sleeping around like that,' I said. 'Don't you ever plan on settling down or anything? Start an actual relationship?'

'Do you?' he asked back, without answering my question.

I shrugged. 'Yeah, I do,' I replied. 'Just waiting for the right guy to come along. But after John, I'm gonna have to take a break from seeing guys for a while. You know seeing you dump beautiful girls like that sometimes makes me feel like me being cheated on was okay too. If girls like that can get dumped by the minute, what chance do I have?'

'Are you trying to tell me that being cheated on by that fucking douche bag was okay?' Ian asked. He hardly sounded so angry. He shook his head and calmed himself down. Or I think. 'Emma what happened to you was definitely not fine. And if it makes you come back to your senses, I'll tell you that never in my life have I cheated on a girl. I let one go before I go out with another one.' He smiled and the anger completely died down from his voice. 'But I must say you portrayed me as one pretty well for the last couple of weeks.'

I smiled. 'I did, didn't I?'

Ian smiled back. I loved how his smiles always reached his eyes and made his green eyes twinkle like actual emeralds.

'Listen Em, you are a beautiful and great girl and don't let some scum like John make you think any different,' Ian said. 'Cheating is not how it works. You guys were together for three years and he should have respected that and at least been honest with you.'

'I know,' I said. 'It's weird how after I found out that he was cheating on me and I dumped him, I didn't feel sad. I kind of felt relieved.' I looked up and smiled at Ian. 'Thanks Ian,' I said. Seriously I do come out telling him everything don't I?

'Anytime,' he said, wrapping his arm around my shoulders.

'I'm sorry I slapped you so hard,' I apologized. His cheek was still as red as a tomato so I felt sort of bad.

'I'm sorry I gave you an STD,' he apologized in return.

I laughed and reached up and placed a kiss on his cheek. The cheek I had slapped so hard. As my cold lips touched his somewhat warm cheek, I had this weird feeling that I couldn't explain. You know the feeling you get when you're on a rollercoaster, it was something like that. I suddenly felt that my stomach was gone. I shook the feeling off. Instead I said, 'If I get a cold after tonight, it's so your fault.'

'Id's so your fauld!' I said. I didn't even have the energy to shout. My whole body ached. My nose was blocked that made me speak in a funny way.

'What's wrong with your voice?' He asked. 'Did you catch a cold?'

'Yes, I did,' I said over the phone. 'Id's dothing serious dough.' He had this important photo shoot that day and I didn't want him to worry. 'I'll be fide. Why'd you call adyway?'

'Never mind,' Ian said. 'I'm coming over.' He hung up before I could protest. I could feel my temperature rising and my throat started to hurt so bad that I couldn't get myself to even cough properly when I had the urge to. It literally felt like my throat was on fire whenever I tried coughing. And then the ache went to the head. It seemed like I would be better off it is just burst and then I could die and not feel the pain anymore. And then I felt so dizzy. I closed my eyes and saw black.

'Em,' I heard someone calling me from a distance. 'Emma! Wake up.' Okay that was Ian's voice. I opened my eyes. The simplest of movement of opening my eyes took so much of energy out of me that I finally realized what people meant when they said that their eyelids felt like lead.

'You're burning up,' Ian commented touching my forehead.

'I dope you meand dad in da lideral sense,' I said, weakly trying to crack a joke. But even I wasn't understanding half the words that were coming out of my mouth.

Ian rolled his eyes. 'Sit up,' he said. 'C'mon.' He put his hands on my shoulders and helped me sit up and handed me a glass of water and Tylenol.

'It'll lessen the pain,' he said as I swallowed it. 'So what do you need?'

'Kleedex,' I said. The finished one whole box already.

'You mean Kleenex?' Ian said, a small smile forming on his lips. 'I'll be right back.'

He came back a good ten minutes later. Did fetching a box of tissue usually take that long? But he came in with the Kleenex box and a mug of hot chocolate. I felt like saying "yay" but I couldn't bring myself to with the energy I had in my body.

But I guess he saw my eyes brighten and he smiled. 'Here you go,' he said handing me the hot cup of chocolate. 'And here's your tissue.'

But I was too busy taking in the aroma of the hot chocolate to listen to him. After I took a few sips and basked in the warmth of the drink, I suddenly realized something.

'Iad?' I asked. He snorted.

'Say that again,' he said cracking up. He was sitting there the whole time I was drinking my chocolate watching me at it. Go figure.

I rolled my eyes but the action made my head ache. 'Ow,' I said involuntarily.

Ian's face turned serious instantly. 'You okay? Where does it hurt?'

'Id's okay,' I said. 'Just da head.'

'Maybe you should lie back down,' Ian said. 'I'm registering you for the doctor's tonight.'

He took the mug of chocolate from my hand and placed it on the bedside table. Then he straightened my pillows and helped me lie back down on them and pulled the covered over me. 'Feel better?'

I nodded pulling the covers up to my neck.

'You were going to ask me something?' Ian reminded me.

'Yes,' I said. 'Whad happed do your phodoshood? You shoulded hab come. Id was ibportad.'

Ian was trying hard not to laugh and he was not doing a good job of it either. 'Sick you is entertaining,' he said finally.

I wanted to hit him but wasn't sure I could so I just satisfied myself by sticking my tongue out at him. Once he stopped laughing he said, 'Don't worry about it. It was no big deal. I'll get more photo shoots later. Now do you want soup?'

'Your such a mama bear,' I said. 'You dow you can'd make soup!'

'Yeah, last I checked,' Ian pointed out. 'Mama bears couldn't. They just catch raw fish and feed it to their kids.'

'Are you going do feed be raw fish?' I asked. With him you never knew. He ate raw fish once for a bet. He won the bet but he lost appetite to eat for a week after that.

'No doofus,' he said. 'I'll just order some from outside. Get some sleep. I'll wake you when the soup's here.' He moved the bangs away from my forehead and leaned down and placed a kiss there. I swear if I were able to move it would have totally immobilized me. As my best friend since twelve, we had shared a lot of kisses on the cheek and forehead but they never made me feel like this before. The night at the park had caught me off guard and now this. What the hell was happening?

I woke up about three hours later, throat as dry as the Sahara Desert. But feeling a tad bit better than before. I reached for the glass of water on the bed side table but it was already being handed to me by Ian who had materialized from thin air (or so it seemed).

'The soup arrived two hours ago,' he told me. 'I didn't have the heart to wake you so I'm just going to heat that up now.'

I nodded. He felt my forehead again and I had those goose bumps. 'It's coming down a little bit,' he said. 'I registered you for the doctor. He says he'll see you tomorrow morning.'

I nodded again. He got up and came back a few minutes later with my hot soup. The soup helped me regain a bit of strength. And while I was sipping my soup, he started being annoying again. He whisked a camera out of nowhere and told me 'smile' and started clicking photos of me on my sick bed. Did this guy have nothing better to do?

'Sdob doing dat,' I said. 'You can'd dake pictures of me whed I'm sick!'

At one point I just ignored him and concentrated on my soup. He showed me a couple of pictures he had snapped. I didn't want to see them at the beginning because I knew they were bad but he showed me anyway. And I must tell you Ian was talented with that camera. He could even make a sick person look good in photos.

After I was done he took away the empty soup bowl and placed it on the bedside table. The bedside table was a mess let me tell you. He sat down on the bed beside me and put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me close so I was leaning my head against his chest.

Initiating goose bumps alert.

My whole body reacted to his touch. I didn't know why because this was supposed to be normal. The goose bumps and the increase in my heart and breathing rate sort of scared me and I knew I had to pull back and figure out what the hell was wrong. But I couldn't. Because no matter how many goose bumps I was getting, it, his whole hold on me was feeling so good that I just couldn't pull back.

He was talking about random stuff. Stuff that happened at work or at home or somewhere else. He was trying to make me forget for a while that I was bedridden with fever and cold.

'So whad's your masderpiece?' I asked suddenly thinking that he had never shown me his greatest work.

'Masterpiece huh?' he seemed to be thinking about it. 'It's a photo I took pretty recently. I'll show it to you as soon as you get well.'

'You can'd just bring it here and show me?' I asked.

'No, too lazy,' Ian replied with a grin. 'So I'll just wait for you to get well so you can walk over to my room and see it.'

I hit him weakly on the chest and he laughed. Everything seemed so bizarre to me. I couldn't help but feel the warmth emanating from his chest right through his t shirt and to my hand. I didn't even want to move it away. Instead I clutched his t shirt in my fist not wanting him to go.

'You need to sleep,' Ian said finally. 'Get some sleep.' He saw my hand clutching his shirt like that and he smiled at me. 'Don't worry I'm not going anywhere.' Could he read my mind?

But yeah, I was tired. My head was throbbing and all I wanted to do was get some sleep lying there just like that with Ian.

The last thing I remember before dozing off, was Ian kissing my hair and then tell me softly, 'I love you.'

I knew he didn't mean it that way. I knew he meant he loved me only because I was his best friend. But when he uttered those words something inside me jerked, scaring me almost out of the world. It was not his words that scared me because I had heard them countless times before. He always told me he loved me. But always as a best friend. Never as anything different. But right then I wanted him to mean it differently. And that's what scared the hell out of me.

Ian took me to see the doctor because he wouldn't let me go alone no matter how much I told him that I was well enough to make the visit by myself. But being the stubborn person he was he completely let the words flow through his head as though I hadn't even spoken at all. The doctor prescribed me some medicine and I was up and about in no time. Ian was always there to remind me when to take my medicine. He was hovering around me all the time until he was satisfied with my condition. But it only made things harder for me.

I needed to move away. I needed to get myself an apartment fast. And move out. Because I realized over the next couple of days that I had fallen in love with my best friend and I needed to go before it got any worse.

'So I got an apartment,' I told Ian one evening when I returned home.

'You did?' he asked. 'I thought you weren't even looking.'

'Of course I was,' I said. 'I told you I would be out of hair as fast as I could.'

'Why, is my hair that uncomfortable to be in?' Ian asked with a smirk.

'No your hair was fine,' I said. 'I just need to be in my own hair for a while. Ew, I sound like I'm a louse.'

'So is the apartment good?' he asked.

'Yeah, it's fine,' I lied. Truth was it wasn't. But I still had to go in before disaster struck. 'Plus, John's been getting pretty snappy about getting my stuff out his apartment. So I have to move my stuff to my new place as well.'

'Right,' he said. 'Of course. If you need help moving your stuff, just ask me.'

'I will,' I replied. I couldn't help but notice how the conversation was so, I don't know, almost formal and not anything like us. He sounded so grumpy today. He'd have given the dwarf a run for his money.

I got my stuff out of John's apartment and loaded everything on to the pickup van I hired. Once all my stuff was outside my new apartment, I hoisted all the things up in my tiny one bedroom apartment (did I mention it smelled like fish in there?). Then I headed back to Ian's to pick up some stuff I had in there. I was spending the last night there because it was already late and I hadn't sorted everything out at my new place yet.

'You're really moving tomorrow?' Ian asked, as we sat on the sofa and watched the television. I don't even know what was on the T.V. All I could think about was that Ian was sitting right next to me. Ian, with whom I had practically grown up. Ian, with whom I had shared very secret of my life. Ian, who had always been there for me no matter what sort of trouble I was in. And now after almost thirteen years, I realized that I had fallen in love with this same Ian and I was running because there was nothing else that I could do about it.

'Yeah,' I said. 'Tomorrow.'

'You got everything sorted out?' he asked in that grumpy formal tone again.

'I'll get everything sorted out by tomorrow,' I said. 'Do you have any hot chocolate left?' I needed the chocolate to take my mind off things.

'No,' Ian replied shortly.

'What?' I asked totally mortified. 'But you always have hot chocolate.'

'Since you're moving I figured you wouldn't be needing any here anymore,' Ian said.

'Why are you - ,' I started but I was rudely interrupted by the door bell. I stayed where I was and stared at the television, not really seeing anything there but wondering why Ian had suddenly become so rude with me.

Ian came back a few minutes later and he was not alone. Accompanying him was one of his beautiful dates. This time it was a red head. Perfect hair, perfect face, perfect body. She'd most probably score a fifteen on ten. And suddenly I found the corners of my eyes stinging threateningly. God, I was so lame!

The red head noticed me before I could sneak back in my room. Infact she noticed me before I could even get up from the sofa. 'Oh hi,' she said a little uncomfortably. 'Who're you?'

I stood up from the sofa right then. 'Um hi,' I said back. Without introducing myself to her I just said, 'I'll go. Um have fun.' With that I ran inside my room and locked it shut.

Have fun? Did I just say that? Did I just tell Ian and a girl he brought home to have fun? Well of course they were going to with or without me telling them to. But I said that! God that was so embarrassing. I felt like melting into fluid and seeping down through the hardwood floors into the apartment below!

As of course I couldn't melt down to a fluid, I dropped down on the bed and tried to get some sleep, reaching for my earplugs and stuffing them in my ears. But of course, sleep wasn't going to come anytime soon. I thought about what a disaster I had made out of the whole thing. Falling for my best friend should never have happened. And now Ian was being so rude to me for no apparent reason. Or did he already get the vibe that I loved loved him and that made him super uncomfortable being around me. I hoped not.

I loved Ian more than anything. Ever since we became best friends, I loved him even more than my family and now I ended up loving him even more. I wanted what was best for him. I wanted him to be happy and my moving out was only going to make that possible. I couldn't bear it if things became awkward between us.

I tried to ignore the fact that the man I loved was totally having a great time in the next room with a ravishing red head. Thankfully with my earplugs on I heard nothing but that didn't make me feel any better. The tears that were threatening to fall did fall now and along with it came a tightening pain in my chest.

Fuck! How could I have let this happen?

I woke up pretty early next morning owing to the fact that I needed to sort out my new apartment and make it habitable. I thought Ian was still asleep and not wanting to barge in his room to say good bye and see things I didn't want to in the process, I decided to get out and come by later to say good bye to him or just call him up later. No sooner had I reached the door, I heard his voice.

'I can't believe you were actually going without even saying a "bye Ian, see you later",' he said coming out of the kitchen.

'Ian!' I exclaimed, taken aback. 'I thought you were sleeping. I didn't want to disturb you.'

'You've always been the greatest nuisance I've ever met so I don't see how waking up me up from sleep could have been any more disturbing,' Ian said.

In love with him or not, I really felt like hitting him then. Ian just knew how to irritate me. Like when he stole all by chocolates from me in high school just so he could see me wandering around frantically looking for them and then show me the photos of my frustrating face and have a laugh at them.

He is so evil!

Having nothing to say to that and seeing that I couldn't hit him (he had good reflexes, he could always dodge so well, so it wasn't worth the effort), I sneered at him.

'Yeah well, I didn't want to barge in on you and a certain red head,' I clarified. 'That would have scarred me for life.'

Ian cracked a smile and handed me the red mug and I could smell it from there.

'I thought you said you didn't have any!' I said, quickly taking the mug from him before he changed his mind and put it away somewhere high.

Ian shrugged. 'I lied,' he said.

'Why?' I asked. I could understand that my tone was a bit tentative. A silence followed and I was looking forward to his answer. Why would he lie about something as trivial (to him mind) as hot chocolate. But the answer he came up with was –

'I don't know.'

'But you never lie to me,' I said back.

Ian was silent again. Then he said. 'C'mon. At least see my master piece before you go.' He grabbed my hand and pulled me to his room.

Once he opened the door, I saw to my surprise and somewhat amusement that his room hadn't changed a bit since high school. Sure it had been relocated and enlarged but it was still the same, messy room that screamed "Ian" at your face.

His curtains were dark and heavy and every inch of his walls were filled with photos. Photos he took himself. And what amazed me most was the fact that none of the photos were that of pretty girls he usually photographed as a job. Most of them were photos he took back in high school with friends, (I saw myself in a few) and family. Sceneries from the suburbs that we had both grew up in and come out of. Sceneries of New York City during the all the seasons. There were photos of unaware kids playing in the parks. And I noticed a few pictures of a certain German shepherd I knew very well.

'On my God, Glen! I haven't seen him in a while!' I exclaimed. 'Why didn't you bring him with you?'

Glen was Ian's German Shepherd dog. It was the most adorable creature on the planet. And Ian loved his dog to bits. So I couldn't understand why he wouldn't bring him with him to New York.

'I was planning to,' Ian said. 'I'll bring him in soon. Mom tells me he's getting bored of the suburbs by now.'

'Hmm, I miss him,' I said. Glen listened to me unlike Ian.

'C'mon,' he said. 'I thought you wanted to see my masterpiece.'

I nodded and walked to where he was standing. It was his desk. And it was as messy as his room, with stationery, stacks of photos, used up films, different camera parts. And there was only one framed photograph in his entire vortex of a table.

'This,' he said, picking up the framed photograph and handing it to me. 'Is my masterpiece.'

I was too frozen in surprise and shock and the convolution of all human emotions to lift up my hand and take the photo in it.

'Ian,' I finally brought myself to speak. Being speechless wasn't helping matters. I still didn't take the framed photo in my hand and he was still holding it for me to see. And now you see the reason I was shocked and immobilized was because I had seen that picture before. Infact I had seen him take the picture right there in his living room with his brand new camera. I finally lifted my hand and took it from him with shaking hands.

This was his masterpiece? Was he kidding me?

Because as I looked at myself in the photograph I could see nothing great about it. It was just crazy old me enjoying my hot chocolate. It was the photo where I was busy licking the brim of the mug. My eyes were closed tight as they always were when I enjoyed the taste of chocolate with all my heart.

'Why?' I asked him finally. I didn't have it in me to look at his face because I knew if I did, I would start crying and I didn't like being sloppy.

He sighed. 'You're right, Emma, I never lied to you,' he said replying to the accusation I made some minutes back. 'But I wasn't entirely truthful to you either.'

This time I looked up at him. He ran his fingers through his hair, a sign of frustration.

'What do you mean?' I asked. How can you not be truthful and not lie at the same time?

'There are things that I didn't tell you that I guess I should have,' Ian said.

'You mean you lied to me by omission?' I asked.

Ian shrugged. 'If you put it that way.'

He heaved a sigh and sat down on the edge of the bed. I remained standing on the same spot.

'So are you going to tell me now?' I asked.

'Yeah, let's start with the fact that when you started dating John I was furious,' Ian said. 'I felt like beating the guy to a pulp even though at that time there was nothing wrong with him.'

'Why?' I asked slightly taken aback. He had not shared these violent feelings of his with me.

Ian gave me a smug look and said, 'Let me finish,' he said. 'Questions later.'

'Yes, ma'am,' I replied back like I would to a school teacher. Ian rolled his eyes but continued with what he had to say.

'I couldn't explain why I wanted to do that back then so I brushed the feeling off,' he said. 'But then when you came in and told me that you guys were moving in together I seriously felt as though I could go over to the graveyard and make John dig his own grave.'

'I never knew you had this much of a potent violent side to you,' I said.

He gave me a look, the one eyebrow raised one.

'I'll stop talking,' I said.

He nodded and continued. 'Emma I realized after that that the reason why I hated John so much was because I wanted to be John.'

'Excuse me!' I exclaimed. 'Oh c'mon you can't say stuff like that and expect me to keep quiet.'

'Yeah I wanted to be John, because I was fucking jealous of that guy,' Ian said. 'You guys were together for more than three years and it drove me fucking insane.'

'What the hell are you talking about?' I asked back. 'Why would that drive you insane? Why in the world would you be jealous of a lowlife like John?'

'Because you were with him and not me,' Ian finally blurted out. Okay that shut me up. Pretty much for eternity I guess.

'I fell in love with you Emma,' Ian finally said in a calmer voice. 'Even before John. Right after high school. And before I could confess, this John came out of nowhere. And I couldn't tell you anything.'

'I slept around a lot and dated a lot trying to get over you,' Ian said. 'Because I somehow took it for granted that you and John were never breaking up and that you were happy with him. And all I wanted was for you to be happy.'

He slept around like to get over me? It wasn't Rachel, the girl in high school that broke his heart? She wasn't the one that made him into the shameless being he is today. It was me. It was me all along. And even though I was supposed to be angry with myself for doing that, I couldn't help but notice my stomach wasn't there anymore. I was getting that feeling again, the one you get when you were on the rollercoaster.

'I figured you didn't feel the same way so I didn't tell you anything afterwards as well,' Ian kept talking. 'I continued with my plan to try and get over you. But that didn't quite work out so well and my resolve completely broke after I took that photo.' He indicated the picture in my hands. 'I don't know, the moment I looked at that picture I realized that there was no possible way that I could get over you. After that you even caused me to become celibate.'

'But all those girls,' I finally spoke. I wasn't even sure it was my voice anymore.

'I didn't sleep with them,' he replied. 'Hell, I couldn't sleep with them. So I had to come up with some excuse myself and when the girl was difficult I had to make you come up with an excuse for me.'

Syphilis? That's why he made me say that? That's why he didn't want to take that girl to bed?

With my earplugs secured in my ears during all the nights, no wonder I didn't hear if there was something going on or not in the next room.

'I'll understand if you never want to talk to me again,' Ian said. 'But I couldn't keep this to myself for any longer.'

I still couldn't speak. Ian loved me back just the way I found out I loved him. And although it was the happiest moment of my life I couldn't bring myself to speak.

Ian got up from the bed and came and stood in front of me.

'Every time I looked at that picture, I couldn't help but smile,' Ian said. 'First time after I got my job, that was the only photograph I took that was natural and completely down to earth. There's nothing fake about this. And it made me smile no matter how much of a bad mood I was in. So yeah, this is without a doubt my best piece of work. A picture is supposed to touch your heart and this touches my heart all the time.'

I still wasn't speaking because I was taking my precious time swallowing and digesting what Ian had told me.

'Talk Emma,' Ian said finally, not being able to take my silence any longer. 'Say something.'

I swallowed hard.

'I have a confession to make too,' I said.

Ian raised his eyebrow.

'I punched Rachel in her face,' I said.

'Rachel?' Ian furrowed his eyebrows. Don't tell me he didn't remember Rachel!

'Your girlfriend in high school,' I reminded him anyway. 'The one that broke your heart.'

'Oh Rachel,' he finally said as realization dawned.

'I punched her right after she broke up with you,' I said.

'Why in the world?' he asked.

'Because she hurt you and I got angry and needed to take my anger out on someone,' I replied. 'So I punched her for breaking your heart. It was a nightmare to see you hurt like that.'

Ian cracked a smile. 'If it makes you feel any better you're not the only one who did that.'

'You punched Rachel too?' I couldn't believe what he was saying. He hit a girl?

'No, of course not,' Ian said. 'What I meant was I punched John pretty hard too.'

'What? When?' I asked. When did he even get the chance to?

'You remember the day I took this photo?' Ian asked looking at the photo on my hand. I nodded. 'There was someone at the door and you left thinking it were one of my girlfriends.'

I nodded again.

'It was John,' he said.

I raised my eyebrows to heaven.

'He came by to talk to you,' Ian said. 'Something about your stuffs. Saying that you wouldn't pick up his calls. I punched and kind of told him to fuck off.'

'Kind of?' I asked.

'Okay, yeah, I directly told him to fuck off,' Ian corrected himself. 'He said something about suing me for harassment though.'

I smiled. 'Don't worry he won't,' I assured him. 'He's a coward. He'll never do it. But thanks anyway. I always wanted to punch him in the face. But you doing it will do just fine. As long as it hurt.'

'Believe me, the pleasure was all mine,' Ian told me.

'Ian, you know when we were sitting in the park bench,' I told him. 'At one point when I kissed you in the cheek, my stomach literally wasn't there anymore. And when you took care of me when I was sick and you stayed with me all night I felt something and wanted you to tell me you loved me and mean it in a different way.'

'I did,' Ian pointed out.

'Will you let me finish?' I said.

Ian smiled and nodded. 'It scared me,' I said. 'My feelings for you were scaring me so much that I decided to move out before it got any worse. I thought you didn't feel the same way about me and after yesterday I knew I was right and I knew I was making the right decision moving away.'

'The red head?' Ian asked.

I nodded.

'Nothing happened,' Ian said. 'When you said you were moving away I thought I had to start getting over you again. But obviously all she got was a seat on the sofa and a glass of water before I told her I couldn't do it and that I was i love with the girl in the other room.'

Ian reached out and took the photo out of my hand and placed back on the table not moving his gaze from me while he did so.

'So where do we stand now?' he asked.

'On your floor?' I replied back in the literal sense.

'Try the figurative sense,' Ian advised.

'I love you?' I said.

'It came out like a question,' Ian said. His eyebrow raised, his head tilted to one side and the smile was almost ear to ear.

'I love you,' I said, meaning every syllable I said with so much force that I even ended up being surprised myself.

Ian kissed me then, not on the forehead and neither on my cheek. It was full on the mouth. And I was completely swept away by it. I never knew a mere kiss could make you feel that way. His lips were soft yet so firm as they moved so confidently against mine. His mouth was so warm that I didn't think I had it in me to ever stop exploring that mouth of his. And his tongue as it moved against mine created sheer magic. I slid my hands up his chest and circled them around his neck as I kissed him back with as much force and emotion as he was kissing me with. One of his arms were wrapped around my waist keeping me close to him and also keeping me on my feet because I couldn't feel my legs anymore. And the other was cupping the side of my face, caressing my cheek with his thumb.

He pulled back after what seemed like an eon and I gave in even though I wanted to protest.

'I love you Emma,' he said, looking at me with those intense emeralds of his.

'I love you too,' I replied back with a smile.

'Stomach still there?' he asked, good humouredly.

I shook my head. 'No,' I said. 'But neither are my liver, lungs, kidneys and intestines.'

Ian laughed and kissed me again.

'And how was that?' he asked once he broke apart again.

'You're tied with hot chocolate,' I told him. That was a lie. He raised an eyebrow at me again.

'Okay, fine,' I said. 'You taste better.'

'I can live with that,' Ian said, kissing my smiling lips again. 'I'll make you a deal,' he said once we broke apart again.

'What now?' I asked. Why did he have to talk so much? The kissing was seriously going well.

'You get your stuff from your new apartment to right here,' he said. 'And you get as much hot chocolate as you want in return.'

That was the best deal ever. I grinned and stood up on my tiptoes and kissed him again. I couldn't get enough of that mouth.

'Deal,' I said.

So that was the story. Sorry of there were any typos.

Tell me what you guys thought of it.

Cheers. =)