My first M-rated fic, and my second SL one-shot. Feel free to read and review. It's romance-related (shocking, I know :P), but my intention was to make it different from the usual lovey-dovey fluff we tend to see on this forum.
I started this a while back and finally got around to finishing it. Since I started working on the intro chapter for the Suite Dreams Collection (which is coming along slowly but surely) it kind of got moved to the back of my mind. Eventually, though, I decided it needed to be posted.
Have fun reading! :)
"The human heart would never pass the drunk test."—Ralph, Period of Adjustment
Zack's head spun as Maya pushed him into the doorway of his cabin, groping the sides of his head as she tongue-kissed him with feverish energy. She tasted like peppermint, and he was pretty sure he tasted like alcohol, but he didn't think she minded. Why would she? He was a teenage boy and it was his prom night. Tampering with the law was only natural.
Besides, he had a reputation to keep. He was Zack Martin, first class rule-breaker, and nothing changed that. Not even a girlfriend.
He felt alive in Maya's grasp. Ignited. His heart was pounding, his vision blurry, his body trembling. He felt weightless. Like he was there and wasn't there at the same time. He wondered if Maya felt the same way (minus whatever part of it was alcohol-induced), but even if she didn't she was clearly exhilarated. Living in the moment without a single thought about tomorrow.
Maya pushed Zack backwards onto his bed and collapsed on top of him, smiling mischievously as she began removing his clothes. Savoring every button she popped open, every inch of bare skin she revealed. She giggled, unable to hold in her excitement. Her nimble fingers unzipped his pants and then proceeded to pull them down. He was wearing dark blue boxers underneath (so typical of him) and she didn't hesitate in yanking them down next.
She paused for a moment, gazing at his erected sex, and then smiled in approval. She began stroking it, deciding to be subtle (there was no sense in rushing things), and Zack let out a sensuous moan, breathing deeply as he gripped the sheets at his sides. Maya's smile widened. "Ready to be corrupted?" she asked playfully.
Zack smiled back. He loved this mischievous side of her. He'd often fantasized about what she was like in bed. And what better time to find out than prom night?
He waited with anticipation as she kicked off her heels and reached under her dress to pull down her panties, lifting her legs one at a time to remove them completely. They fell somewhere behind her and she crawled upward, her bare ass contacting his thighs, the hem of her silk dress tickling his skin. She leaned over and began kissing him, her lips sashaying from his neck to his chest. And between each kiss, she spoke—softly.
Intimacy with her was not just about physical touch.
It was about gentle persuasion.
"Let me make you happy, honey."
"I have to have you."
"You are perfect."
"If you want me to stop, just say so."
It was hands exploring taboo places, discoveries imprinting themselves on innocent minds, body rush after body rush, intensity building.
It was selfishness and empathy rolled into one.
Zack's head buzzed. Probably from the alcohol, but it felt like it could be something more. The room seemed to explode around him. The ceiling was sinking away and the walls were stretching like elastic, almost as if he were trapped inside a balloon.
He started hyperventilating—out of excitement, but Maya took it as fear. "What's wrong?" she asked, suddenly worried.
Unable to speak, he just shook his head. Nothing, he thought. Not a damn thing. Everything is perfect. I'm inside a balloon and it's wonderful.
Maya ran her fingers across his forehead (perhaps cleverly trying to assess his temperature) and then proceeded to run them down the side of his face. She kissed him again on the lips. Then looked him straight in the eyes. "Are you sure about this?"
Why did she have to ask him questions? Couldn't she see that he was in no condition to think? Thinking was for sober people; drunk people just did.
He answered her by giving her a smirk.
The next thing he knew, she was gripping his hard-on and inserting it into her.
It was intense, to say the least—the thrusting, the heat, the surge of energy coursing through him like an electric current, the animalistic force that he couldn't control...
But then came the images, flashing through his head...interrupting his pleasure without respite. Images of long, blonde hair; a smile that showed perfect teeth; a tall, athletic body dressed in a blue hotel uniform; a figure standing behind a counter, looking as though life was flying by without being seized.
He remembered the promise she'd made him: that she would dance with him at his prom night if he danced with her at hers.
And he'd danced. He'd danced the night away, like a fairytale prince.
Not that he'd actually expected her to keep her promise. She'd made it years ago. Odds were she'd long-forgotten it by now. And what did it matter anyway? She'd been too old for him, and completely uninterested. She'd kissed him once, but only out of desperation. It had been over in a heartbeat, and afterwards she'd left without even saying good-bye. She wasn't right for him. She didn't have anything in common with him. And he had nothing to offer her.
In any case, he had a girlfriend now. And she was hot, so he couldn't complain.
He had everything he could ever want, and then some. He realized that as he and Maya lost their virginity to each other. He had more than he could ever have asked for: a beautiful girlfriend, who also happened to be smart (which was more than he could say for most of the girls he'd dated), a good circle of friends, the chance to travel the world on a cruise ship and see exotic places, good food, a warm bed, and not to mention, passing grades, which meant he could graduate with his senior class (another thing he couldn't say he'd always achieved). His life was good. Better than good—great.
And yet, he wasn't entirely satisfied. He hated to think of himself as selfish or ungrateful, but there was something lingering over him—something essential that he didn't have and wouldn't be happy without.
Don't focus on that! he mentally berated himself. Now was not the time for concentration or regret. Now was a time to live in the moment. There was no sense in thinking about the past or worrying about the future; there'd be plenty of opportunities to do that later, when he'd entered the real world. Tonight was thenight. The big night. The night girls fantasized about and boys sweated over. The night that served as a transition between one part of a person's life and the next.
It had to be perfect, from beginning to end. If it wasn't perfect everything was ruined.
Zack had wanted to make it perfect, for Maya if not for himself. He'd intended to make it a night to remember. As he held her on the dance floor he'd whispered in her ear that he felt like the luckiest guy on Earth, and that he was going to prove it to her.
Shortly after, however, Woody had come up to him and spilled the beans about swiping two bottles of hard liquor from the Aqua Lounge where some of the ship's crew were taking an evening off and having a celebration of their own. And of course, he couldn't say no to that.
Thankfully, Maya didn't really mind. Being from New York, where laws were broken at a moment's notice, underage drinking wasn't a big deal to her.
Tonight was going to be perfect. Tonight was going to be flawless. None of those prom-disaster clichés could touch them. They were invincible, feeling the weight and irrepressible force of their bodies colliding with each other. Unstoppable. They kept going, without holding back, without tiring. Devouring each other. Dominated by their passion. Not thinking. Not caring. Just acting on natural need. Zack was a part of Maya and Maya was a part of Zack, and it was incredibly beautiful.
So beautiful that Zack couldn't fathom how he managed to make such a stupid slip. But right then, right there, while inside Maya's body, he said it…out loud—"Maddie."
He didn't even know that it had escaped his lips until it was already out in the open, floating, lingering between him and Maya like a glass wall. Transparent, but solid.
Maya stared down at him, baffled. "What did you call me?"
Zack panicked when he realized what he'd just said. "Uh…I meant, Maya," he fumbled, hoping she'd accept that.
Narrowing her eyes and pulling her lips into a tight line, Maya sat up and rolled off of him. "No you didn't," she said matter-of-factly, her expression serious, demanding of his honesty. "Zack, is there something you want to tell me?"
"No," Zack answered quickly, rubbing the drunkenness from his eyes. "It was nothing. Just a little slip of the tongue, that's all. No reason to get your panties in a twist—oh wait, they're off." He gave her a teasing smirk, thinking she wouldn't be able to resist that.
"Not for long," Maya got up off the bed, snatched her underwear from the floor, and slid them back on. "I can't believe you just did that," she snapped. "Are you really so hammered that you'd forget who was fucking you?"
Zack heaved a sigh. "Look Maya, what do you want me to say—that I'm sorry? Well I'm sorry. There, now are you satisfied? Now how about you get back over here and we continue where we left off?"
Maya snorted in disgust. "Ugh, I can't believe you!"
"What?" Zack asked innocently.
Maya responded by shaking her head. "You haven't changed." She stooped to put on her shoes.
"Did you expect me to?"
"Yes Zack, after four months of dating you, I can honestly say I had hopes that you'd be a little transformed by now. Guess I was wrong."
"Oh, so if I'm dating you I'm supposed to change who I am?" Maya's words had stung but he wasn't about to show her that. His pride demanded that he retain the upper hand. "I guess you really don't know me all that well. And what about you, huh? You haven't changed either. What, you too good to change? Am I the only one who has to give?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Maya retorted. "I've given you plenty!"
"Oh yeah? Like what?"
"Me…which was far more than you deserved."
"So you're saying I don't deserve you?"
Maya didn't answer.
"Well that's nice," Zack muttered sardonically. "Glad to see you think so highly of me."
"You know what, Zack?" Maya looked at him as though she wanted to say something, but instead she paused and waved her hand at him as though he were merely a pest she couldn't be bothered with. "Never mind. I don't need this." She walked over to the door. "I'm going to my cabin."
"Good," Zack said, "and don't bother coming back."
"Oh, I won't." She twisted the knob and tugged, looking back at Zack as it opened. "Enjoy the rest of your night alone."
She slammed the door behind her.
Zack struggled through his inebriated stupor to pull up his boxers and re-zip his pants. After he managed to do that, he removed his suit jacket and lied down, breathing. He belched and grimaced at the taste of sour liquor in his mouth. His head was spinning—not terribly, but enough to where he felt that if he tried to stand he'd topple over.
But despite that, he got up anyway. He had to apologize to Maya. Not that he felt particularly at fault, but he wasn't comfortable with staying on bad terms with her. He didn't think she'd forgive him but he figured it couldn't hurt for him to say he was sorry.
As he stumbled down the hallway in the direction of Maya's cabin, he ran into none other than his DNA-duplicate, Cody, who was strangely by himself instead of with Bailey.
"Hey, Zack," he said.
Zack raised his hand in acknowledgement, trying to balance himself on his own two feet.
"Have you seen Bailey? I can't find her."
"What makes you think I've seen Bailey?"
"It was just a question."
"Well, sorry to disappoint."
Cody gave him a funny look, leaning over and taking an unexpected whiff of the air.
"What the hell was that for?" Zack asked.
"You're drunk," Cody said.
"Not a clue."
"I thought she was your date."
"She was…but I don't think she is anymore."
"What do you mean?"
Zack didn't answer. He turned his face in the other direction, his eyes gazing at the door to the hallway where two unsuspecting teens were making out. But it was clear that he wasn't really seeing them; his mind was a million miles away. "She's not coming," he finally spoke.
"Maya?" Cody asked.
Zack just shook his head, slowly, a sad expression contorting his features. Then, suddenly, he let out a chuckle, barely audible over the blaring music coming from the Sky Deck. "She can't come," he mused. "I'm on a fucking boat, in the middle of the fucking ocean."
"What are you talking about?"
Zack closed his eyes. "Maddie."
"Zack, what happened?"
"Nothing you need to know about."
Cody crossed his arms, peeved. "Jesus, Zack, why are you such an asshole?"
"I dunno. Why are you so annoying?"
"I'm trying to help you here."
"No, you're not. If you were trying to help me you'd be gone by now."
Cody snorted indignantly and walked away, swearing under his breath.
Zack staggered out of the hallway, across the width of the ship's side, and steadied himself against the railing, inhaling the refreshing sea breeze deeply. For a while, he'd thought for sure he was going to be sick; but the gust of cool air that rushed past him cleared his head.
He glanced up at the pitch-black sky sprinkled with stars. It was so pretty that he almost felt better. He closed his eyes, allowing himself to feel the light rocking of the SS Tipton as it cut through the oncoming waves. It had a peaceful, somewhat motherly sensation to it that he found absolutely delightful.
He felt a hand clap him on the back, and jumped at the sound of Woody's loud, slurring voice: "Hey Zack, what'chu up to out here? I'd a thought you'd be—well, you know." He winked and gave Zack a friendly nudge.
"Shhh!" Zack hushed. "Jesus Christ, Woody, just blurt it out why don't cha?"
Woody gave him another nudge. "Aww, come on. Don't be so modest. You can tell me."
"It's not a matter of being modest," Zack whispered furiously. "You're slurring like a damn hick! The last thing you and I need is to get busted."
Woody lost his footing and bumped into Zack, nearly toppling them both over. "God, man!" Zack exclaimed. "You really wasted yourself!"
"Hey, in my defense, I had fun…which, apparently, is more than I can say for you."
Zack shook his head, ignoring that comment. "Yeah, well, try not to fall over," he advised. "Or puke. God, please don't do that."
Woody turned and belched right in his face. Zack scowled. "Okay, how about we get you to your cabin?" he said, covering cover his nose and mouth against the stench. "It's not safe out here anyway."
Bumbling like idiots, holding onto each other for dear life and praying no adults saw them, the two made it to Woody's and Cody's cabin.
"Wait," Woody murmured, "what will Cody think…?"
"Eh, I wouldn't worry about it," Zack said. "He already knows I'm hammered. Odds are he knows you are too—or at least suspects it."
Woody looked worried. "Won't he tell?"
"Nah, he's too busy chasing Bailey."
Zack managed to open the door, revealing an empty cabin that was excessively neat on one side and atrociously cluttered on the other. It was always easy to tell which side was Woody's and which was Cody's, even without the stacked textbooks and hand sanitizer.
Zack laid Woody down on his bed. "Well, Woodchuck, see ya in the AM."
"I ain't looking too forward to it," Woody sputtered. "Our heads are gonna hurt like bitches."
"Heh, yeah, probably."
Zack turned around and started teetering back towards the door.
He stopped. "Yeah, Woodman?"
"What happened between you and Maya?"
Despite how much both their heads were spinning, they were able to lock gazes. And in that moment, they almost felt sober.
"I'm not sure," Zack replied honestly.
"Did you two fight?"
Zack paused before answering. "Yeah."
"Are you two going to break up?"
"What's it to you?"
Woody stared at him silently, waiting for a response.
Zack sighed. "I think we are."
"It's okay, Woodman. It's nothing you need to apologize for."
After that, Zack left and closed the door behind him.
Then he made it back to his own cabin—where the memories of his and Maya's altercation hung ferociously fresh in his buzzing mind. He may have been drunk, but not drunk enough to forget.
He went to bed thinking of it all. Falling asleep with it on his mind. He didn't know what he was going to do, but he figured he'd make that decision in the morning, when he was sober.
Thinking was for sober people anyway.
When he woke up, he knew. He had no idea how he knew; he just knew. As soon as the sunlight poured in through the porthole of his cabin and he stirred in half-wakefulness, faintly aware of the migraine piercing his head, he realized what he had to do. It felt like such a strange revelation—like an epiphany, which seemed out of character for the likes of an impulsive person like him. Yet he couldn't shake it. It was irreversible. Irrefutable.
He got up, feeling an air of certainty about him despite what he now planned to do, and got out of the prom suit he hadn't bothered to change out of the night before. His head felt like an punching bag, and he popped some aspirin in the bathroom to take care of it (though knew it wouldn't be effective for a while). He brushed his teeth, splashed water on his face, threw on a red T and a pair of jeans, and then headed out the door to Maya's cabin.
When he reached it, he knocked, partly to see if she was in there and partly because he wanted to act like a gentleman. This wouldn't be easy. Heck, it would seem crazy. But he had to do it. His conscience—who knew he even had one?—dictated it.
"Yeah?" came Maya's voice from the inside.
Zack halted for a second, unsure of his next move. Should he announce himself, or go ahead and barge in? The former was more gentlemanlike, but the latter seemed wiser. If he told her his name, she might not have allowed him to come in…and he really needed to speak to her. She could ignore him all she wanted to soon enough, but right now, he needed her to acknowledge him.
So he opened the door, just like that, and walked in.
Maya was sitting up in bed. And to his surprise, she did not immediately yell at him to get out. Instead, she stared him down, wondering what the hell he wanted and how much nerve one guy could possibly have.
Zack took a deep breath. "Hi, Maya."
Maya looked at him for another brief moment, and then quickly turned her face away. "Yeah, I figured it would be something like that." She paused, already knowing why he had come. "You're breaking up with me, aren't you?"
He sat down on the bed parallel to hers—the bed of her roommate, which was presently unoccupied. "I'm sorry," he said, suddenly wishing he was drunk again so he wouldn't have to deal with this awkward situation.
"So who's Maddie?"
He'd known that she would ask that. "A girl I know—well, knew."
"You don't know her anymore?"
He thought about that. "No, I don't think I do."
"But you still love her." It wasn't a question, but she waited for a response.
Maya sighed. "How did it ever come to this?" she asked, speaking more to herself than to him.
"I didn't want it to," Zack tried to amend. "I'm in love with her."
"But you said you don't even know her."
"Then how can you love her?"
"I don't know."
Maya groaned in irritation, running her manicured fingers through her wavy brown hair.
"I never wanted to hurt you," Zack added. Then to show he was serious, he asked, "Are you going to be okay?"
Maya looked down at her feet, holding her arm about the elbow as she considered what to say. "Yeah…I guess." This was so awkward for her. She looked back at Zack. "Figures I'd lose my virginity one night and get dumped the next morning."
Zack couldn't help feeling guilty. It was so unfair for her. He'd told her loved her, and really had in a way, but not in the way he was supposed to. That was all a part he'd been playing. He'd wanted her, with a burning passion, but now knew that no matter how many times she pleased him, it would never be enough. "Please don't cry," he begged. He had no right to ask that of her, but he couldn't stand the thought of seeing her break.
He wasn't sure he could walk away if she did.
"Don't worry, I won't," she assured him. "I have too much pride for that."
"Just tell me one thing."
"Sure." He owed her at least that much.
She looked at him seriously. "Do you love me, at all? Did you ever love me?"
He didn't even have to think before answering: "Of course…but not like you thought I did."
It was the truth. He knelt down next to her and took her hand in his, holding it as though he were going to kiss it. To anyone else, this would have looked like a proposal. And in a way it was.
"Are you going to ask me if we can still be friends?" she questioned.
"No," Zack replied. "That' s so lame. The way I see it, if I have to ask for your friendship, then I never really had it in the first place."
"Yeah, you have a point." Maya gave his hand a light squeeze. "So what are you going to do now? You can't go to her, at least not while you're on the ship."
"I wouldn't be able to go to her anyway," Zack said. "She doesn't want me."
Maya was taken aback. "She doesn't want you?"
Zack shook his head for an answer.
"Zack, that doesn't make any sense! How can you possibly be dumping me for a girl who doesn't even want you? Do you just not want a girlfriend? Is that it?"
Could this really be Zack—this boy who was calling it breaks with her without having a backup girl? Without so much as a chance for another date? Was this Zack who was calling it quits with the girl he'd been so into all throughout his last semester at Seven Seas High…for a hopeless dream?
Zack could tell that Maya was dumbfounded. He couldn't blame her; this was highly unlike him. He didn't like stepping out of one canoe until he was safely in another. In fact, that was one of the few mottos he lived by.
"I know this isn't like me," he told her. "This is more like my brother…and God, does it shame me to say that."
Maya almost smiled. Almost. "You really love this Maddie girl, don't you?"
Zack nodded. "She's that one person, you know? That one person who makes me feel…well…like I can fly. No one else has ever made me feel that way before."
"Yet she'll never love you—not in the way that you love her."
"No," Zack conceded, "probably not. But I can't keep doing this—I can't stay with you when I feel this way about someone else. It isn't right. I don't have many scruples, I'll be the first to admit that; but this is one I do have. I care too much about you to stay with you when my heart isn't in it. You deserve better than that. I hope you don't think I'm being a coward; I'm trying to do the right thing here. I never should have slept with you. That was wrong. I'm sorry. I was drunk, and I'm sorry about that too. I wasn't thinking. I was…"
"It's okay, Zack," Maya interrupted him. "You can stop rambling now. I get it."
Zack was tempted to continue, but he didn't. There wasn't much left to say.
"Your brother came in here last night, after you left," Maya said. "I think you should apologize to him. You really hurt his feelings."
"He'll get over it," Zack replied. "He always does." He nodded in her direction. "What about you? How are you holding up?"
Maya thought about that. In all truthfulness, she didn't know how she was holding up. She wasn't terribly happy, but nor was she terribly depressed. Part of her wanted to get down on her knees and beg him not to leave. But the other part was grateful that he was —grateful that he'd had the guts to come out and tell her the truth, instead of letting her believe a wonderful lie.
"Okay, I guess," she answered him awkwardly. "I mean, I could be worse."
"Thank God," Zack said in relief. "I thought for sure you'd try to kill me after everything I just said."
"If I weren't me I probably would."
"You're a saint," Zack half-laughed.
"I wouldn't go that far," Maya disagreed, "but I like to think of myself as more understanding than the average girl. You came to tell me the truth; that says a lot. It may not be what I want to hear, but I'd rather hear it than lies."
Zack smiled, leaned up, and gave her a quick peck on the forehead.
Then he got to his feet and stood before her, still as a statue, their eyes taking each other in—understanding each other in a way they never had until then.
But it was confusing. It was downright perplexing. Zack loved Maya, at least to some extent, but he loved Maddie more. He desperately wanted to be with Maddie, but couldn't because she didn't love him; he also wanted to stay with Maya, but couldn't because his conscience wouldn't let him any longer. Part of him hated himself for loving Maddie, and Maddie for not loving him. The other part hated himself for not loving Maya, and Maya for loving him.
Maya couldn't deny that she loved him, and that she hated Maddie—both for being the object of his love and for not returning it, no matter how contradictory that seemed. A piece of her resented him for loving Maddie. But beneath that, at her core, she respected him for loving her still. For having a love that transcended time and defied reasonability. Only real love did that.
After staring at each other for what felt like an eternity, Zack finally turned to take his leave of the cabin.
Before she could stop herself, Maya was calling his name: "Zack…!"
Zack looked back over his shoulder.
"I want you to be loved."
He smiled. "You too."
In case anybody's wondering, I don't hate Maya. I'm just a writer telling a story here. :)