Disclaimer: Totally Jon's, now and forever.
A/N: Another venture into High School!Mojoness. Dunno why. I really think I should seek a twelve-step program for this problem of mine…Until then, it's cute, it's fluffy, it's from Joanne's POV, it's one-shot-ish, and it's one of the few "hot" things I've ever managed to write. I think. Maybe. Who knows? Enjoy. (And review, please, those things make my life.)
"Have you ever found things growing more and less confusing at the same time?" I mused aloud, breaking what had previously been quite a content silence. Normally, I would have berated myself for doing so; silence was a difficult enough thing to attain when one's best friend/unknowing crush was Maureen Johnson. However, this being two in the morning…
Beside me, Maureen lifted herself slightly on the bed we'd both collapsed on hours before and peered closely at my face. Her eyes seemed serious, more so than I'd ever noticed before. Maureen wasn't by nature a serious person. Then again, she wasn't exactly outright goofy either. She was just…Maureen.
"No," she said simply, tracing an octagon on the green comforter with her index finger. "Usually, confusing things stay as such until they are resolved. Why do you ask?"
I shrugged, letting my eyes rove around her bedroom. This place was pure Maureen. Posters with vibrant "activist" phrases were tacked to every wall; I found my gaze lingering on one that screamed, "Our world is not for sale!" in bright orange. Dragging my bleeding retinas from the colorful page, I scanned her desk. Textbooks stuffed with unfinished worksheets piled atop the battered wood; a stuffed cow with only one eye sat forlornly on the Physics book.
This room was the essence of my best friend. I just wished she'd be as clear-cut as her habitat suggested her to be. No one was more fractured than my Maureen; trying to keep track of her diverse personality was more than dizzying.
Not that I should be thinking of her as "my Maureen".
"How about this, then," I continued, laying back again and fixing my eyes on the ceiling. "Have you ever realized something makes perfect sense even though it's purely illogical?"
I shouldn't be asking these questions, I rationalized. They're all in relation to her, and we don't need to be having this conversation.
So what? It was two in the morning. We'd both had too many Reese's cups and three cans of soda each. This wasn't the prime time for logic.
She was chuckling throatily, her "nighttime laugh". A familiar sensation in the lowest part of my stomach stirred at the sound; I gritted my teeth and willed it away as she said, "You grow less and less coherent as you get sleepier, sweetheart. Have I ever told you that?"
I blushed, still gazing determinedly at the light fixture over my head. "I'm not incoherent," I muttered defensively. "Just a little confused."
"About what?" she asked curiously. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that she'd turned onto her side to better inspect me.
Don't look, don't look, don't crack—
"It's not important," I replied instinctively. A tiny part of me died when she nodded, accepting my response without question. This was the one thing I wasn't so fond of about Maureen: she never pushed me when I lied to her about being all right. Never. It was as if my problems were things she expected me to come to her with on my own, rather than mysteries for her to yank from my tangled mind.
It's nice to have respected boundaries, but sometimes, I wished to God that she'd overstep those lines.
I realized the room had gone silent again. Unlike the previous comfortable moment, this one was strained—or was that my own imagination?
Still unwilling to look at her, I listened hard for her breathing, wondering if she'd suddenly dropped off to sleep on me. She did that from time to time, during sleepovers. My Maureen had a bit of a narcoleptic streak in her.
Again. Not "my" Maureen.
"How many girls have you kissed?" she asked abruptly. I jumped.
Propping herself up with one arm so that her body was positioned in the air over mine, she smiled. "You heard me."
My face heated up. Why me? Why was I the one who had to lay in her best friend's bed, with her best friend practically on top of her, faced with such an awkward question?
It'd be a little less awkward if you answer wasn't—
"None," I mumbled. She stared blankly down at me, wild curls cascading off of her forehead. If I leaned up ever-so-slightly, I found myself thinking, those curls would brush against my face.
Maybe, if I try hard enough, I can drown myself in her hair. End this torment once and for all.
"None?" she repeated, her voice a couple of decibels louder than was truly necessary. I wanted to set fire to my head.
"Well, how many have you kissed?" I shot back hotly. If doing so wouldn't bring my face dangerously close to hers, I would have sat up to glare at her.
"Three," she answered smugly. I gawked.
She lifted the hand she wasn't using for balance, ticking the names off on her fingers. "Let's see." (Let's see? Let's SEE!) "There was Debbie, in the eighth grade—she was a dare, though, so I suppose she didn't really count. Kerry, in the tenth grade. Her lips were really chapped. And Kelly, last year. She wasn't bad."
My stomach rolled over. "Thanks for sharing."
She giggled, tossing her head slightly. Mesmerized by her hair, I almost forgot what we'd been talking about until she teased, "You know you like it."
No. No, I really don't.
Unless you're referring to your proximity/hair/eyes/lips/ass—
Where am I again?
"If you say so," I heard myself grumble. Thank God, my voice wasn't betraying me. Yet.
Keep talking, quickly. If you don't, she'll realize something's wrong.
"I thought you were straight," I blurted. Oh, good going.
She shrugged, a wicked smile still dancing on the edges of her lips. "Sexuality is in the eye of the beholder, babe. Technically, I am straight. Technically, I always have been. But, hey; why shut out possibilities, right?"
I was forgetting how to breathe. How could we be having this conversation? This was insane. Maureen was straight as any straight line you could ever find. Sure, she was a massive flirt. In fact, if she was asked to choose between English and the language of flirtation, there was no doubt in my mind that she'd pick the latter. Sex was her natural drive; probably, that was one of the initial attractive qualities I saw in her.
But how in all the hells could we be sprawled on her bed, discussing the fact that she had no problem messing around with other women? In short, she was taking the one thing I had "known" for sure about her and shredding it to bits with a broad, childish grin. This couldn't be real.
I moved my hand to pinch my other arm. Unfortunately, halfway there, my sleeve brushed against her breast. I froze.
Not good. Not good, not good, not good…
Thankfully, she didn't seem to notice the unintentional action. Her eyes were still on my face, but I'd somehow missed the transition from teasing to pensive.
"You're serious?" she asked quietly.
Trying not to quake, I nodded mutely. Her bottom lip disappeared behind even white teeth.
"Have you ever kissed a guy, at least?" she questioned after a second of studying me. I snorted. Her mouth quirked, and she murmured, "Of course not. That was an obvious one."
"Oh, was it?" Sure, now you can speak.
Her eyebrows shot to her hairline. I went on, pleased in a strange way to have surprised her.
Turn it into a joke, Joanne. Turn it into a game. Change the subject, before you give yourself away.
"I'm unattractive, right? Is that what you're telling me? You think I'm fat, don't you?" I put on a mock-pout. This was good. This was perfect. I wasn't fat, and we both knew it—hell, I was probably smaller than even her lithe frame. This was exactly the line we both used when we wanted to change the subject.
Unfortunately, she wasn't laughing.
Well, this can't be a good sign.
"You're not unattractive," she told me softly. Her hand slid along my side to rest on my cheek. I felt my heart contract.
Don't explode, I begged it silently. Don't burst into little pieces. Please, I need to live through this night.
"If you say so," I managed to sputter. Ignore the palm against your skin, Joanne. Just ignore it. And ignore the way those fingers are stroking down, and up, and oh my God…
"I do say so," she replied, smiling slightly. Her eyes were following the progression of her own hand along my cheek, almost as if she was watching a beautiful animal in the wild. Almost as if she didn't realize what she was doing.
I bit my tongue as hard as I dared. Anything to draw my own attention from the warmth. Anything to keep my own eyes from fluttering shut. Anything to keep myself from lurching upward and catching her lips with my own—
"You know what else I say?" she asked, tracing a new path across my forehead with her fingertips. "I say you're better than you ever seem to give yourself credit for." Down the other cheek. "I say you're smart, and you should show it off." Across the bridge of my nose. "I say you're funny, and you should show that off too." Through the front of my hair. "I say you're beautiful, even if you'll never recognize it."
Oh God, oh God, oh God.
Her hand stilled where it had begun, pressed, feather light, to my left cheek. I waited, still chewing on my tongue, for her to come to her senses. It was late—or early—and she had to have been tired. Maybe she was doing all of this in a hypnotized sleep-state. Maybe she was waking up now, and she was wondering why the hell she was leaning over her best friend, caressing my face like a lover.
Like a…please, God, don't let her wake up.
For that matter, let me stay in this dream too.
Time seemed frozen. I stared up at her, a deer in headlights. She gazed down at me, serene. Too focused, I realized, to be asleep.
Her hand moved again. Slow, but with precise direction. She was aiming.
Warm fingers touched firmly-pressed-together lips. I wanted to bite down on my tongue again, harder than ever.
Don't, I warned myself. She'll feel the constriction of your jaw, she'll feel it and wonder. Don't ruin this.
Her eyes weren't on her hand anymore. They had captured my own, taken me so deeply into her gaze that I wasn't sure I'd be able to climb free. This was not like any other time. This was not like getting lost in her bubbly laugh. This was not like melting when she squeezed my arm in passing in the hall. This was completely new.
Her index finger pressed down, lightly, testing. I resisted the groan that threatened to tear through me. She smiled slightly,rubbing that same finger back and forth across my mouth.
"Believe me yet?" she asked quietly, and I sensed that this was something of a test too. I had to get this one right.
Slowly, I felt myself nod. Her smile widened, splitting her face almost majestically. Her fingers retracted from my face, and I felt my stiff shoulders sag into the mattress.
Was that the wrong answer?
"Good," she said. Her eyes still hadn't released me. "Because I'm right. You know how I know?"
Silently, I shook my head.
In one swift motion, she slung a leg over my left one, bringing her body as close to mine as she ever had before. This wasn't, though, like the hundreds of tickle fights, or the millions of movie-watching cuddles, or even the countless hugs. This was like the dreams I felt guilty for having, the fantasies I tried to force from my mind day after day. This was like…
God, don't let me wake up.
"I'm always right," I felt, rather than heard, her breathe against my mouth seconds before she crushed her lips to mine. The groan I'd been biting back slipped free, disappearing against foreign lips and tongue and teeth. One of her hands was pressed firmly to my collarbone; the other combed restlessly through my hair, tangling and tugging enough to hurt just a little. Glorious, allowable, welcomed pain.
Her tongue pressed insistently to mine, urging it into a dance. It was not unlike, I found myself thinking dazedly, the way she'd always urged me out of my shell and into life.
Hee. If I wasn't so preoccupied, I'd be laughing.
God, the things this woman can do with her tongue…
Someone was whimpering as her hand moved against my throat, tickling and stroking; I had the sneaking suspicion that someone was me. She was making noises too, little sighs of—appreciation? Desire?—and moving her hips slightly. My arms wound around her, into her hair and down, down, slipping into the back pockets of her jeans as though they belonged there. I felt her kiss down my neck, her mouth wet against my skin; my right hand instinctively flexed and I felt her chuckle again, that raspy get-to-you laugh.
"Nice," she murmured against me, drawing her lips back to mine and swallowing the gasp I had emitted.
Seconds, minutes, eternities passed. Time, air, the universe—what mattered? As long as I was in her arms, as long as it was her strong body pinning mine to the bed, as long as she was pressing fevered, confident kisses against every bit of my face she could reach, I wanted nothing.
How long have I been waiting for this?
I wasn't sure why or when her lips parted from mine. I couldn't bring focus to the exact moment her body lifted from mine. All I saw was her smile, her eyes, those lips that had so intoxicated me.
"You okay?" she asked, voice a little hoarse, but soft. I nodded, and her smile became a grin.
"Better than," I answered, not even bothering to try to overcome the heady sensations rustling through me at warp-speed. "Best, even. You, uh…I wasn't expecting that."
"Coulda fooled me, honey." Her eyes twinkled. "You must be a natural."
I didn't think it was possible for my face to get any hotter. Apparently, I didn't know much.
She leaned back down, nuzzling her face against my neck. My arms wrapped around her of their own accord. A thousand questions hit home in my head.
What does this mean?
Is she gay?
Does it matter?
Does she love me?
Is this a game?
Should I trust this?
Should I think about this?
Does she want to do that again?
When it came down to it, though, the only question that really mattered was the last one she asked before we lapsed once again into companionable silence:
"How was that for a first kiss?"