She should not have been here. Well, it was her room, but the boy who was currently holding her hostage on her bed; that was another story. Slowly, she tried to inch her way out from under the grasp of the sleeping man beside her. It had been ten minutes of a slow hangover ridden struggle, but she was almost free. For a moment, it had seemed like she had woken him up, but the snoring had started again, loud and gravelly. That was part of the struggle, the snoring that is. Snoring man mixed with a burgeoning hangover did not bode well for the rest of the day. The other part involved was that this was one boy she should not have in her bed.
It wasn't that the sex was bad. Oh no, it was too good given their shared history. He had a way of knowing exactly what she wanted before she could vocalize it and she had vocalized plenty. Besides, he was in her town. She did not seek this out, the tequila did. The tequila wanted the sex to be so bad she would never want him again. The tequila was wrong and was punishing her head for it.
So close to escape and a hot shower, she looked back at the sleeping boy beside her, his fingers still carelessly putting pressure on her hip. They said exactly what she could never do: stay. The early morning light was beckoning her to take the chance only alcohol had made her take in the dark of night. But she knew, she wasn't the one he wanted. She never had been. For seven years she witnessed his pursuit of her friend, heard of his failures, saw the rejection wound him. No, she should not have been here with him.
Escaping was so much easier when you don't bring your one night stands home. She had become adept at slipping away in the morning finding the quickest means of escape. If a guy had a roommate awake in the early hours of the day, she usually managed a window to tree exit. But these had been strangers, and they were never in her bed.
Grabbing a towel and some clothes from the floor beside her bed, she wrapped the towel around herself and quietly opened her door. Walking silently to the bathroom, she appreciated that both her roommates were gone for the weekend and weren't about the witness her mistake. Perhaps, by the time she was showered and dressed, he will have woken up and left. A mutual mistake made forgotten and unresolved.
As the hot water began to hit her, the tears started to fall. She had long ago accepted that they did not belong together. She had rejected good guys, comparing them to the man that she could never have, because he would always love another. The real problem with unrequited love was not the stinging loneliness. It was the knowing that while you would willingly sacrifice your happiness for his, he would never do the same. Even after four years of not seeing him, of sleeping her way through the campus population, she still had those feelings. Feelings that would have remained in her pants, if tequila and fate hadn't intervened.
A firm, "Damn it," escaped her lips, the first words she had uttered since regaining consciousness that morning. Sitting in the bathtub with hot water beating down, she held herself while waiting for him to leave her to her regrets.
Finally, she heard a door open and his voice echo a tentative hello in the hallway. Good, he's leaving, she thought. A loud knock on the bathroom down suddenly made her spine shudder with fear. He was supposed to leave. He didn't want anything more than what she had accidently given him last night. At least … he wasn't supposed to.
"Are you in there? Come on, answer me damn it." His voice gradually became laced with anger as she continued to huddle on the shower floor. Why wasn't he leaving? More importantly, had she locked the bathroom door in her hurry to escape confrontation? The latter question was answered with a resounding no when the soft click of the door opening reached her ears.
All she could hear was his footsteps coming towards her. Soft thumps echoing in her throbbing head. She could see his outline in the light through the shower curtain. She saw him reach for the curtain and willed him to stop. He could not see her like this. Wet, naked and crying at the bottom of a shower in the foetal position was not her. Finally, his hand stopped moving towards the curtain and retracted. Her sigh of relief was barely contained; his sigh of frustration was not. She saw him sit on the toilet beside the shower, looking at the curtain as if it was not opaque, as if he could see her disgrace.
She heard his breaths become deeper and louder, as if he was working up to saying something. Something that required deep thought.
"W-we need to talk…a-about this," he stammered after a minute of silence.
"Can I be wearing clothes for this talk?" She replied, trying to hide the fear in her voice. Hoping the humour of those words would convey the underlying why. Don't panic, that was the first rule of one night stands. Second rule was to always be prepared. Always have protection, always know your escape routes, always know exactly what you were getting into. She should have run when she had a chance. Damn her need to feel clean.
"While you might prefer that, I have a feeling that if I leave you here alone you'll find a way to run," he replied. He knew her too well after all. She always tended towards flight after all, even when they had still known each other well.
"So talk," she said quietly. Short concise sentences were about all she could manage.
"We…uh, we had sex. We were drunk, had sex and I woke up and you weren't there. I went to sleep holding you and I find you in here crying in the shower. This screams of we need to talk. I may not have seen you in four years, but we are still friends. I still deserve the truth." His deep voice echoed over the rushing water.
"We made a mistake." She forced out each word as her mouth fought her brain for control.
"The truth. Not some story to sooth over all the hard things in life. Words that help you sleep at night. Last night was more than a simple mistake. Last night was more than good sex. It was good sex, wasn't it? I didn't hurt you did I?" The concern in his voice made her heart ache. She laughed, it felt good to laugh.
"It was good sex wasn't it?" She retorted. She saw his head spin in her direction behind the curtain. "Good sex is very important," she deadpanned as she reached for the tap to turn off the cooling water. He laughed.
"I missed that about you, sarcasm to the bitter end," he said softly.
"I moved to a different town for school. I didn't drop off the face of the earth. Besides, we weren't really friends back then." She countered wistfully.
"I was too busy being an idiot, chasing the wrong girl. Making mistakes."
As he talked, she reached for the towel on the counter. Wrapping it around her body, she sat on the inner bathtub ledge. She can't bring herself to move the curtain to the side. Removing the distance between them might have broken her newly found composure.
"She's getting married next year, you know?" She asked, hoping he heard the subtext as well.
"I know. I didn't exactly get an invitation though."
"I did. Maid-of-honour duties, here I come." She quipped. Finally a conversation she knew. Talk about the best friend he loved, and his unrequited feelings. Not her own. Not even sitting in her bathroom half-naked on a Sunday morning could make her talk about herself. That would be selfish.
"She was all wrong for me anyway." He replied, for the first time sounding quite certain.
"What made you come to that realization?" She asked, her heart suddenly beating faster. Quick as lightning, he opened the curtain separating them.
"Last night," he said. Their eyes met and the look in his eyes scared her to the bone. It's the same look he gave her last night as he held her. The look she was so afraid of never seeing again. Her grey eyes widened at the intensity and warmth in his brown eyes. He sat on the bathtub across from her, enclosing her legs in his knees. His jeans chaffed against her damp skin.
"She was wrong for me, because I should have been with you. For all the times I made you listen to me whine about her not wanting me, I should have been making love to you. I should have been fighting for you to notice me all those years ago." He continued as his hands held her chin, making her hold his gaze. "We should have been having lots of good sex. After all, it's important."
She trembled under his gaze. Her mind tried to resolve his words as real. Hands fumbled to keep the towel around her body.
"Say something, please!" He said with urgency, his thumb distractingly tracing her jaw line.
"You came to town to find her didn't you?" She asked hesitantly. Her brain was refusing to listen to her heart which was telling her to surrender completely to his gaze. Her heart was always a bit of a masochist.
"I did find her. I found her and her fiancé happy together. And then I found beer, lots of beer. Then I found you making out in an alley with some creep behind the bar. And that sight hurt me more than anything she ever did. Seeing some other guy taking the chance I never did…fuck. Do you know how sexy you sound when you moan? How you look pressed up against the wall here, one tiny towel separating me from your body? You're making me feel again."
"Feelings are overrated," she replied quickly, tightening her hold on the towel. "Feelings get you hurt. Feelings make you spend years trying to forget why you have them. I've spent years running away from feelings that could never be fulfilled. Now you're here and you're telling me all I had to do was get groped in an alley and let you watch?"
"Wait, what?" He asked, confusion at her confession registering in his soft, brown eyes.
"I liked you, okay? In the can't sleep, want to be with you and only you kind of way. But you wanted her. So I ran. I went off to university with the express intention of never going back."
"Liked you, yes." Now that she had found the words, they could not be stopped.
"All this time?"
"Yes, I've been working very hard to forget about it. Then I get a call from her saying that you're suddenly in town begging her to run away with you. And…"
"And?" He repeated softly.
"Tequila." She said without an ounce of hesitation.
"Fuck." He whispered stunned, his eyes meeting hers in sincere shock.
"That too," she retorted with a small smirk. A minute passed, only the tapping of water droplets leaky from the old tap echoed around them. He looked upon her contemplatively; red-rimmed eyes as remembrances of her earlier tears.
"And you were crying because you thought I wouldn't want you back?"
"I was crying because I'm weak and stupid. And I thought you would wake up and forget it was me, not her."
"Because it was good sex," he said standing up in the bathtub, a smile gracing his lips. Her gaze followed his actions. He hadn't run away. She had finally admitted how she felt and he hadn't run. Bolstered by his continued presence, she allowed herself one more confession.
"Exactly, it was too good. Great, even. It was a stolen moment I didn't deserve. A punishment for still wanting you." She finally exhaled deeply, as if she had been holding her breath for seven years. She finally took his proffered hands and stood before him.
"But it wasn't. Stolen, that is." He stated and she licked her lips in anticipation. The gap between them was decreasing with every passing second. "The truth is: last night was entirely yours. It's always been you; I was just too stupid to see it." With those final words, he grabbed her and kissed her so deep and so hard it took her breath away. Finally, she managed to tear away and catch her breath.
"Breakfast?" She asked with a grin, her hands playing with the bottom of his shirt.
"Breakfast?" He replied quizzically.
"Yes, the meal that follows a night of great sex, occasionally involving coffee and French toast. Perhaps eggs if you're one of those crazy people." She explained factually.
"I bet you say that to all the guys." His grin matched her own, wide, toothy and positively infectious.
"Never. Sex is one thing." Her forehead moved to rest against his chest. "Breakfast is personal."
"Well, what have we been waiting for?"
This was where she was supposed to be.
A/N: So, I finally went back and fixed the roving tense issue that has been plaguing this story since I originally posted it. There might have been some additional sprucing up, since I originally wrote this way back in 2012 without any punctuation whatsoever. However, I figured for the 1200+ people who read this, and the 3 lovely reviewers, and the 15 kind favourite-ers, and the one follower (as of April 20, 2014), a polish was the least I could do to thank all of you.
-Sleepless but not in Seattle