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Just Friends


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I glanced over at him, sleeping, still, peaceful. It was almost picture perfect: we were in our own little world with just him, taking up most of the room on his twin size bed, and me, sitting precariously on the edge with one leg folded in and the other propped up on his bed frame. In our bubble, the clock read 6:30, the room was slightly chilly, and everything was silent. Outside, the world was just waking up: birds were getting ready to sing and the sun was beginning to glimpse out from behind the clouds and through the morning fog.

He looked like a prince. Sprawled out across the mattress, he made a nearly incomprehensible noise and twitched almost violently, causing the room to shudder. He was on his stomach, drooling onto the sweatshirt he had used as a pillow for the night. There was a light trace of a smirk on the corner of his lips, making my heart quicken a touch.

Shaking it off, I slowly got off his bed and crept towards the pile of clothes tossed carelessly the night before. I gingerly picked up my pants and slipped them on. While switching the shirt I slept in with my own, I scanned the room meticulously, trying to spot the location of my bra after I flung it off the night before. Seeing it near the tips of his fingers as he dangled his arm off the edge of the bed made me groan internally. Quietly, I reached over and picked it up, stuffing it in it my purse.

Opening the door, I paused and looked over my shoulder, back at the sleeping prince. I closed my eyes, finally letting last night’s events flood my mind, full of lust and shame and defeat.

His hand, grasping at the small of my back, trying to pull me closer.

Heart pounding, barely breathing, both of us moaning.

Butterfly kisses along my jaw.

“No, stop.” The words flying out.

Falling asleep, his head in my lap, my hands in his hair.

I looked at him again, wondering how everything had gone to hell in just one night. Unenthusiastically, I smiled at him and left.

--

“You left,” He greeted as he walked through my front door with no warning of his impending arrival. “I woke up this morning and you were gone.”

“I couldn’t stay,” I said simply. I stopped myself from reaching for his hand, instead heading towards the stairs so we could talk in my room. Pausing, I looked back and noticed he wasn’t following me. “Come on, let’s talk.”

Nodding, he followed my lead up the staircase. I politely let him enter my room first and closed the door. He placed himself by my desk, leaning against it. Uncomfortable at his fixed gaze, I sat on the other side of my room, looking down and letting my hair fall in front of my face.

“Why?” His voice cut through the silence sharply. I glanced up slightly, meeting his eyes, which were cold, narrow, and, almost, unforgiving. He was angry and his body gave it away. Aside from his eyes and short comments, his arms hung tensely at his side and his jaw was rigidly locked. I began to think about last night, and the way one arm was wrapped around my waist and the other, gently on the back of my neck. His eyes had been filled with unwavering determination the moment he shoved his lips against mine alarmingly.

I blinked, a dozen times in ten seconds, and said haltingly, “Because..I couldn’t stay.”

“You said that already.” He abruptly pushed off from the desk, stiffly walked towards my bed, and sat down. Tucking his fingers beneath my chin, he drew my attention away from the floor and to him. “Why did you leave? Without saying goodbye?”

His voice was sorrowful, broken-like, as he spoke, “You couldn’t just say goodbye?”

I shook my head slowly, my chin still on the tips of his fingers. “If I stopped to say goodbye, I wouldn’t have left.”

Accepting my answer, he said, “I wouldn’t have wanted you to.”

He moved his hand, brushed my hair out of my eyes, and looked at me. I knew he was thinking about last night as his gaze strengthened. Unnerved, I quickly dropped my eyes, trying to avoid his ability of seeing right through me at all times. My heart started pounding and my face began to flush since I could still feel his eyes on me.

Anxiously, I wiped away the sweat on my palms and mumbled, “I’m sorry though.”

I shifted uncomfortably, still looking down at my pale thighs. Next to me, he moved closer, his jean-clad legs entering my line of vision.

“Hey, look at me,” he whispered, his voice tugging my eyes upward. “It’s okay that you left. I mean -”

“No. That’s not why I’m sorry. I - I...” My voice trailed off and I struggled with coming up with the right thing to say. “It’s just...I’m the one that stopped us before we got too far. And then...”
I stopped abruptly, letting the end of our conscious night fully come back to me.

“No, stop. Stop. Please. I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” I said, placing my hands on his chest to push him away. I scrambled off of his lap; I couldn’t even remember how I ended up there.

“Wait, why? I thought this is what we wanted, what we’ve been waiting for,” he said, confused. He reached over to place his hand on mine, almost lovingly.

“No, no, no. We’re just...friends.” I saw his heart shatter on the last word. Blinking rapidly, I tried to shut the tears in. He looked so devastated.

I remembered sitting in silence and shifting to the back of the bed afterward. I had crossed my legs, leaned back against the wall, and closing my eyes for a few minutes. He had slapped his legs a few times to shake out the nerves and when I opened my eyes, his head had taken refuge on my lap. I smiled meekly and he feigned one in response. As he fell asleep, I ran my fingers through his hair, instantly filling with regret for saying he was just a friend. What was it he had said? What we’ve been waiting for.

But had we? We were close friends - almost best friends - and had been for over three years. Of course, I always tried to think of him as the brother I’d never had, but there was always a part of me that knew I couldn’t see him as only that. I also never particularly liked any of the girls he dated, but that was only because I cared so much for him and didn’t think they deserved him. But what if it was more? What if -

“What if I never realized I was in love with you?” I blurted. While I had been losing myself in the night before, he had turned his head away in defeat. But at the sound of my voice, he snapped back to me.

“I thought we were just friends?” he asked warily.

“I always tried to think of you as just that, even as my brother. But it was futile. I always, knowingly, had a bit of a crush on you, but never enough to take action. I’ve never liked your girlfriends. We get along really well and last night.... Last night I pushed you away, not because I didn’t love you, but because I was scared. You said it. Isn’t this what we’ve been waiting for? It is, isn’t it? Right?” I was rambling and scared of his reaction so I shut my eyes and thought about it, thought more about last night.

“Hey, thanks for letting me crash here,” I said, reentering his room after my shower. My hair was damp and I was wearing one of his t-shirts paired with my biker shorts. I barely picked up on his eyes dragging up and down my body, instead chalking it up to paranoia.

“Um, it’s no problem,” he flashed me a bright smile and hopped onto his bed. “So, you want the floor, right?”

I rolled my eyes, reaching over to snatch a blanket from him. “Yeah, that’s fine.”

As I sat on the floor, ready to create a makeshift bed, he got up, picked me up easily and swiftly, and dropped me on to his own. He said, incredulously, “I can’t believe you’d think I would make you sleep on the floor.”

I laid down, laughing loudly. He sat down next to me and finished his train of thought with, “You’ll be sharing with me.”

“Oh, whatever,” I smiled at him cheekily, “Like I mind.”

I grabbed a pillow to swat him with, but predicting my move, he slid out of the way and tackled me instead. He tickled my sides, making me laugh so hard I couldn’t breath or feel my heart pound.

“Okay, okay. I know when to surrender.” Being pinned beneath him, I suddenly felt my face flush. He must’ve noticed it too, because his arms tensed next to me, in the next minute, he was sitting up stiffly.

He exhaled. “Sorry -”

I cut him off and shifted closer to him. “It’s okay.”

Reassuringly, I sent him a smile. And in return, a smile danced across his lips, with a glint in his eye that I had never seen before. I blushed a little and looked away.

Then I felt his hand cup my cheek and turn it in his direction with our eyes meeting. My breath stopped short and I quickly ran my fingers through my hair. I was shaking. I my hand dropped in slow motion, and he gently brushed my cheek, leaning towards me tauntingly. Suddenly, all at once, his lips were up against mine.

I felt the bed rise when he stood up and I could hear his footsteps going to the door. This time, he was the one leaving but I was awake. I opened my eyes and blinked rapidly, hoping this wouldn’t be the end to our nonexistent relationship, the end to our friendship. My eyes were fixated on his back, scanning the familiar black shirt that clung to his skin. It was the shirt I fell asleep in on his bed. He had worn it to come and see me.

Please turn around, I thought.

He stopped just short of the door and turned slightly towards me. His eyes were only a little broken, no longer shattered like the night before. There was a touch of a smirk on his lips that sped up my heart just a beat. I could barely see his mouth move, so when I made no response, he repeated himself and said, rather loudly, “Right.” ?




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