He woke up first to the sensation of cold still air against his body. For a moment, he lay there, his mind blank save for the sensory information that came crawling up his spine. It took a beat for him to process he was naked. Naked and in a bed. His memory still hadn’t engaged when he turned his head and saw her.
He couldn’t believe it.
There she was. A handful of inches away from him, hair down and in a mess with half a sheet across her.
The revelation was just enough to activate what memories he had of the night before. All the jamesons had punched holes in the film reel but he could just make out sitting on her couch. Did he ask her to sit next to him or did she do that on her own? The memory reel didn’t have any answers. There was a brief scene of him rubbing her back through her old army jacket.
Another fade to black.
Then they were kissing and she was pulling his shirt off. A hand around his neck and locked into his hair. They broke through her door and almost missed the bed. He wished the memory was clearer. He cursed himself as the it went dark just as her bra came off. The video was gone but the audio played on, loud and passionate.
As if on cue, she stirred and shifted, taking his hand with her and pulling him back into the present. It wasn’t an explosion in his chest like he imagined it would be in idle fantasies half a continent away. There were no fireworks or sudden bursts of feeling. Instead it was the sensation of warm and bright red blood suddenly and eagerly spreading to every corner of his body. It traveled steadily but didn’t miss a spot and quenched the thirst of nerves and tissue that had been parched for years. The blood overruled his caution and he ran his newly animated fingers along her silhouette followed closely by his lips.
The sensation was enough to wake her up and he watched as her brain went through the same start-up his had a moment ago. When she came to, she didn’t curl into him or kiss him nor did she stop him. She just laid there, trying to process what she’d done. He was too distracted trying to kiss every inch of her to try and read her thoughts.
“Well that happened.” She said with a matter-of-fact tone while staring up at the ceiling. It was enough to pull him out of his head and into the conversation.
“Yup” He couldn’t think of anything clever or wry to say at the time. He finally brought himself to look at her face. He struggled to contain the warmth inside him as it crept up to his vocal chords and threatened to burst a dam of thoughts and feelings.
“This…this can’t be anything more” she said after a moment.
“I know” Her words were the hard hit he needed to restore his self-discipline as his rationality regained control of his mind.
“I can’t handle any more complications” she said.
“And that’s why when we get up and leave the room, we’re right back to our usual selves.” He said, forcing himself to sound genuine.
She lookd at him for the first time, “Thank you.” The blood twisted his face into a coy smile.
“Doesn’t mean I’m not going to enjoy my time here.”
He kissed down her body, paying attention to her tattoos. She let him continue but made no movements of her own. She continued to stare ahead, her face indifferent and lost in thought.
With their rules in place and an invisible clock counting down to when they’d get up, their conversation flowed like it always had before. They made jokes. He did impressions and she laughed. Without any tinge of awkwardness or shame their conversation arrived at stories deeply personal. It was their friendship but with even fewer barriers between them.
Each passing second was a greater strain on his mind. One last unspoken thought battered furiously against his rationality’s defenses. He didn’t want this morning to end but he knew he couldn’t let the thought out. It was an intoxicating dilemma.
Her indifference to his hands and lips against her helped him stay the course. Eventually he stopped and contented himself with resting his head against her breast. He didn’t care about memorizing her body; all he wanted was to be closer to her.
This is it, he kept repeating in his head, this is all there is. Then he felt her hand run through his hair and her thumb gently rubbing back and forth. Could she have guessed what he was holding back? He was fairly certain she could. Anybody who saw the way he looked at her knew right away. If she already knew, what harm could come from telling her?
Because it’s not a problem until you say it out loud, his heart echoed in his head. She didn’t need any more problems. He wouldn’t be the one to give her any.