You Need to RelaxbyKalIsBack©
I trudged up the front steps of the library, clutching my textbooks in one hand and a case of iced coffee in the other. My footsteps echoed under the long, covered entryway, tapping out a quiet, persistent tattoo as I walked on the smooth concrete. For the fourth time that night, I pushed through the double doors and stepped inside, past the metal detectors and through the next set of double doors.
The two people manning the desk to my left, the only staff in the library at the moment, looked up and nodded acknowledgement of my entrance, then turned back to their activities a brief moment later. I continued past them, following the left edge of the approximately rectangular shaped room. I walked to the elevators stationed halfway between the front and back walls.
They were conveniently located next to the stairs I normally used, but – I glanced at my watch – it was 11:42 PM and I was in no mood to climb three flights of steps. I punched the button and stood impatiently in front of the sliding metal doors, listening to the whirring as the elevator was called down to my level. The doors opened and I stepped inside, pressing the button that would take me to the third floor. And for the umpteenth time that night, I let out a soft sigh.
I should have started studying days before. I knew it. I told myself to. But then, like any good college student, I'd get sidetracked or unmotivated and my studies would fall by the wayside. One day would slip by, then another, and another, until there I was, staring finals week in the face and I had no choice but to study and study hard. I had four finals in the next three days: biochemistry, biotechnology, biomaterials and fluid dynamics. I was only prepared for biomaterials, and only because that class was so easy I could have taken the final in my sleep. That left me with three finals to study for, the first of which was less than twelve hours away, at 11 AM. And naturally, the first final was also the class for which I was least prepared.
The doors dinged open, and I stepped out. The lights were dimmer up here on the third floor, and it was virtually empty. I saw a lone figure gathering up piles of study materials, but everything else was still. The only other sign of life on this floor was a soft yellow light, barely visible, and I wouldn't have known to look for it if I hadn't already known it was there. And that's where I was headed. I weaved my way through the book stacks, finally coming to one of the study rooms lining the walls.
I knocked, and Jess jumped up to get the door. I slipped inside and set my stuff down on a chair in a corner, and put the coffees on the table.
'This stuff is getting crowded,' I announced, more to myself than to Jess. And it was. The room was furnished with a table, just big enough for me to lie down on, and four chairs. Every square inch of the table was covered with papers, books, drinks, food, Post-It notes, or some other bit of academic debris. I had to stack up some papers to make room for the coffee, and even then, the case was perched precariously on a corner. Two of the chairs had been pushed aside and stacked in a corner, and the other two had been hastily moved out of the way as best as possible, and had been mostly forgotten. A neatly folded stack of blankets sat in one chair, and the other chair held my backpack. We had been all but living there for the past day, leaving only to get food and drink or to use the restroom. And that was totally okay. The library never closed during finals week, just to accommodate students like us.
'So have you got it yet?' I asked her.
'Ugh. No. Look.' Jess gestured to the whiteboard on one wall. She popped the top off one of the coffees and sank down onto the pile of blankets. She took a sip. 'Mm. This is good. Thanks.'
I turned to the board and took stock of two incomplete diagrams: a mechanism for glycolysis and one for the TCA cycle. Glycolysis was missing steps 5 and 9, and the TCA cycle was missing the enzymes for steps 4 and 8, along with the corresponding intermediate structures.
'Not bad. You've got most of it. Look...'
I filled in the missing names and structures, walking her through the steps.
'What the fuck?!' Jess cursed, staring forlornly at the board. 'Why couldn't I get that?' she whined.
Jess, more properly Jessica, loved to whine, and not necessarily in a bad way either. It was kind of cute, actually. She would lower her voice and tilt her head, and if she was talking to you, she would invariably look away. Her bottom lip would push out just so slightly, almost imperceptibly. She could be the very picture of dejectedness when she wanted.
'Just practice it. That's all you need. Now draw it again, and remember those mnemonics.' I patted her on the back and turned to the table to find some work of my own, some stuff for Beta oxidations of fatty acids. I took a seat on the free chair, putting my bag on the ground and propping my feet up on the table.
A few minutes passed in silence. Jess whined again, and I looked up. I held my tongue, and after a few more tries she filled in the appropriate enzyme, hissing out a 'Yesss!' in triumph. My eyes lingered on her as he finished filling out the cycle. She was wearing a pair of black leggings, which I almost never saw her without. They hugged her long, slender legs, emphasising her shapely calves and thighs. She was wearing her favourite red Hollister sweater up top, a loose, baggy affair that she claimed kept her warm, even though it had a few small holes. We'd been friends for almost a year, but I'd known her by sight since we were both Freshman. And strangely enough, this was the first time we'd been in close quarters, in our Junior year. It had never been just her and I before. We'd studied together, in groups, and worked on quarter-long projects, but also in groups. It was really on accident that we were working together now. I'd been talking to one of my classmates about studying, and she overheard and asked if she could join me. I was known for getting good grades, and was a 'hot item' as far as studying went. And I liked her, so I said yes. And there we were.
I turned back to my work, and about five minutes later I looked up to see Jess doing a little happy dance. She'd filled in the rest of both charts.
'Great job,' I told her, sticking out my hand for a high five. She returned it, and then plopped down on the blankets happily, taking another sip from her jar.
'That was awesome,' she said dreamily.
'Mhmm.' I flipped a page. 'Now do the ETC.'
The ETC, Electron Transport Chain, was the next thing she had to learn, and then the photosynthetic light and dark reactions, and then she'd be caught up to me.
'Explain it to me first?' she pled.
I set my work aside and drew it out on the board for her, making sure she understood each step as I went through it, taking care to differentiate between the shuttle systems, the function of ATP synthase, and the various cotransporters and coenzymes.
It was sketchy for her, I could tell. I had to explain several different times, several different ways. I didn't mind; it reinforced the concepts in my mind. But it was obvious she wasn't getting it.
'Write it out for me as I explain it to you,' I instructed, pressing the pen into her hand. 'And repeat it back to me.'
I sat to the side, monitoring her progress. She was doing great at first, and then she stumbled at cytochrome Q, then cytochrome C, then at the proton pump. Then she tried again, and got stuck again. The third time wasn't the charm. She got stuck again. Hell...
Jessica tossed the marker onto the table in frustration, bumping her head onto the whiteboard.
'Just relax,' I told her. 'You're not going to get anything inside your head if you're stressing. I promise you won't.'
'Is that one of your secrets?' she growled. Her hair, long and dark, fell forward to cover her face, but I knew from the sound of her voice that she had a half smile on her face.
'Just common sense. Actually, biochemistry and psychology.' I smiled.
Jess looked up at me, slowly lowering her hands and fixing me with her dark eyes. She flipped me the bird and mouthed 'fuck you.' A standard exchange. My smile only grew.
'I'm serious. If you're stressed, your body isn't paying attention. You need to relax.'
Jess sat up and leaned back. I loved the way she did that. I loved the way she moved, period. I couldn't put a word on it, not perfectly at least, but if I had to say it, I would have said she was elegant. The way she moved was elegant. The way she wrote, the way she stood up and sat down, the way she twirled her pent, it was all elegant. If she wasn't in my major, I'd have pegged her as a model. She was tall and thin, but not gangly. Elegant. She drew her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her knees.
'The final is in a few hours. How am I supposed to relax?' She gestured to the clutter on the table. 'Four finals, I'm basically high on coffee, it's twelve-thirty, it's hot and stuffy,' she started unzipping her sweater, 'I've been living in the library for the last day, and I have to memorise biochemistry. Remind me how I'm supposed to relax.'
I tossed my papers on the table. 'Four finals, high on coffee, it's twelve-thirty, it's hot and stuffy, I've been living in the library, and-' I paused for emphasis, 'I've made four coffee runs, three food runs, I've had to walk-slash-run a mile and a half home and back to feed my dog, haven't slept in two days, and you're talking to me?' I was grinning. 'Really. Just relax.
De-stress. Right now, my give-a-damn is broken, so I'm not really stressing. You? You're about to bust a vein or something.'
'Well yeah,' she whined.
I laughed. 'Do you have any music on that?' I pointed to her laptop.
'Put some on.'
'Aren't we studying?'
'No. We're relaxing.'
'Is this how you study?'
'No. Normally, I have earphones in so I can't hear a bloody thing, and I hash out whatever needs doing.'
'Biochemistry,' I quipped. Jessica rolled her eyes. 'Seriously! You know, there's all kinds of feel good chemicals that help you study, and,' she raised an eyebrow at my pause, 'they can be produced naturally, inside your body. If you're happy, you study better, you're more motivated, and you retain more information. Like dopamine, or endorphins, for example. Or, uh,' I waved my hand vaguely, 'cortisol or something like that.'
'And how exactly am I supposed to get those chemicals going? What "metabolic pathway" do I need to follow?' she asked, making air quotes. Soft instrumental music started playing.
'There's lots of ways to do it. Do something that makes you happy.' I ticked things off on my fingers. 'Or something that makes you work. Running, for example. Solving a problem.'
Jess spread her arms, indicating the small space. 'Does it look like we're going running in here?'
'Well, no, but there's also se-' The words died in my mouth. Warmth crept into my face, and I looked away.
'Did you say sex?'
I scratched at a sudden itch near my forehead. 'Uh, yeah.' The room was embarrassingly quiet for a long second. The only sounds were coming from her computer, the soft strains of a
Japanese flute. I'd never forget that flute.
'So do you usually have sex when you study?' Her voice had no hard edge in it. If anything, she sounded genuinely curious. I let out a breath.
'No. I've never actually ha-' I closed my eyes. 'Shit. Uh, yeah, I'm just going to stop talking now.' I fished around the table for something, anything, but Jess snatched a pair of papers out of my hand.
'You've never had sex?' She sounded incredulous.
'No,' I mumbled.
'You're serious? A handsome guy like you?'
'Now you're making fun of me.'
'No I'm not.' She sounded genuinely taken aback. 'You're not ugly. I mean, even your glasses are kind of hot on you sometimes. I thought you were with that girl... What's her name? The one with the colour obsession.'
'Danielle?' I named a classmate with a fondness for neon. 'Haha... I bloody wish.' I winced. With every passing question, I was embarrassing myself more and more, and I was eager to get back on topic. 'Don't we have studying to do?'
'No. We're relaxing, remember?' She repositioned herself in her chair. 'Never?'
'So you're still a virgin?'
I made a face and took a sip of coffee. 'I think that's the definition of the word.'
'So have you ever seen a girl naked?'
'You're asking if I'm a peeping tom? No. But there is porn, so-' I gaped, and Jess started laughing uncontrollably, rocking back and forth in her chair. 'Bloody hell. Quit asking!'
'No, this is fun.' She leaned forward, intent. All traces of frustration or exhaustion were gone, and she'd grown animated and lively. 'So have you ever touched a girl?'
'Yes!' I blurted, almost triumphantly. 'A little groping, a little fooling around a few times.'
'Oh, well excuse me. Ever kissed a girl?'
'You think I'd just have my hand inside a girl's shirt without kissing her? Not likely.'
'So you've got two out of three. Why haven't you gone all the way?'
'I've just never had the opportunity.'
'Bullshit. You're in college, Scott.'
'I suppose you're trying to make a point here?'
'Go to a party, any good party, and if you're living and breathing you're getting laid.'
'So I guess that's why I haven't gotten laid then. I don't go to parties.'
'Are you serious?'
'No. I'm actually joking. I've been to every party since the beginning of freshman year.' I rolled my eyes. 'Yes. I've got other things to do.'
'Yeah, but a party every weekend or so wouldn't kill you,' she whined.
'This is all nice and goodly and entertaining, but it's also hypothetical,' I reminded her.
'Seriously. I'd think girls would be falling over you, what with that accent.' I scoffed. I'd caught so much shit on account of my accent. Being English in the States loses its novelty after a while. 'And you work out too,' she continued. 'I've seen you in the gym. Look at you. All big armed and stuff.'
'Mhm. Yeah. That's all very nice. Can we get to work now?'
'What if you had the opportunity?' Jess asked.
'You said you haven't had the opportunity. What would you do if you had the opportunity? Would you go for it?'
I thought about it for maybe half a second. 'Probably, yeah.'
'How so? Do you practice lines in front of the mirror?' she grinned. 'You know, just in case?'
I laughed. 'No. Not even close. Why would I do that? I like to think I can hold my own in a conversation without getting corny cheesiness involved.'
Jess smiled and nodded to herself, tapping a finger on her knee. 'I don't doubt it.'
A long, pregnant silence followed. My eyes were fixed on the board, where they'd been for the entire conversation. I didn't dare to even glance over at Jess, in case she was looking, which she probably was. And... despite what I'd just said, I had no idea what to say.
We both opened our mouths to say something at the same time, and I only heard a confused jumble of syllables.
'Sorry. Ladies first.'
I looked over. Jess smiled. She stood and stretched, straightening her arms over her head and arching her back. 'Well, I was going to say that I'm giving you an opportunity.'
I blinked again.
Jess snickered. 'Come again? I haven't even come once yet.' Her smile grew then. I'd always liked her smile and her strong, white, symmetrical teeth.
I chuckled nervously, and the room suddenly felt small and close. Jessica sauntered over, running her left hand over the edge of the table as she walked.
'Wow. You're serious.' She nodded. 'Um, okay. I-I don't have any condoms or anything,' I told her.
'Well, that's okay. If this is your first time, then you're clean, right?' I nodded. 'And I'm clean too. So don't worry about that. And it feels better without it anyway.'
'Can't you, you know... get pregnant?'
'No. I'm safe for a couple days. Quit making excuses.' She pushed my knees apart and climbed in my lap, straddling me. She was just as tall as I was (and I'm just over six feet), so my face was just even with her chest, and she was looking down at me.
'Now. Since this is your first time, I'm going to make sure you do it right. Do me right. Not any of that crap you see in the videos. We're going to go nice and slow, okay?'
I nodded again, dumbly. It was all I could do. 'Good. Now.' She took my hands and put them on her upper thighs. 'First things first. I love when a guy puts his hands on me. It just feels so...' she sighed. 'Incredible. I want to feel it.'
I slowly rubbed my hands back and forth across the leggings, and gently squeezed the last time. Then I went further back, carefully taking her cheeks in my hands and squeezing again. She nodded her approval. I quickly slid my hands upwards, encircling her slim waist, and then higher, up to her ribcage.
'Like that?' I asked. I glanced up at her. She was smiling still.
'Yes, just like that. A little higher, though?'
'Oh. Right.' I slid my hands up even further, slipping them inside her sweater to feel the thin fabric of her shirt beneath. She shrugged out of the sweater and tossed it onto the floor, disengaging from me for a few moments. I noticed that, even though they were hardly visible in the dim light, her nipples were poking through her shirt, clearly outlined against the material. I pressed each of them with my respective thumbs, rubbing them back and forth, and flicking them, watching them spring erect.
'That's good, but you have a mouth too. I want you to use it on me, however you want.'
I leaned forward to take a nipple in my mouth, shirt and all, but Jessica held my head and leaned back. 'Maybe I should have been a bit clearer. Start up here, Scott.'
She leaned forward to kiss me, and I missed the first time, hitting just the corner of her mouth. She took me by the chin and guided my lips to hers. Her lips were parted in a warm, wet invitation, and I pushed my tongue forward, tracing it against her lips first, and then seeking out her own tongue. The kiss, simple as it was, was like a shot of epinephrine straight into my nervous system, making my heart beat faster and speeding my breathing.
'Mmh.' I pulled back.
'What's wrong?' she asked.
'Nothing. You just taste good.'
She smiled, leaning forward again. Our noses touched. 'Lots of gum chewing. Now shut up and kiss me again. I don't go mouthing off when you're teaching me something, so don't you go doing it to me.'
I kissed her again, hungrily, while my hands continued exploring her body. It was old hat, I kept telling myself. I'd kissed and held a girl like this before. Well, not exactly like this, but pretty close. But then, it felt so much different, so much more, knowing I wouldn't stop there. I pulled her closer to me, my hands on her upper back holding her tight. I broke the kiss, and my lips went to her neck and upper chest, searching for skin, pressing against any exposed spot, sucking and catching her skin between my teeth. Jessica groaned happily and arched her back, turning her hips in my lap.
'My shirt,' she whispered. 'Take my shirt off.'
I fumbled with the hem of the thin material for a few seconds before getting a good enough grip to pull it up. She straightened her arms above her head, and I pulled it off, throwing it aside. My gaze dropped back to her chest.
They were the first pair of breasts I'd ever seen. In the flesh, that is. They weren't exceptionally big. In fact, they weren't big at all. I'd have guessed she was a medium B cup, enough for me to feel that they were there, and to protrude from her chest, but little more. They were topped by a pair of thin, short nipples.
'They're beautiful,' I told her between kisses.