Loving James Ch. 02byzolia_lily©
Chapter 2 – Winning James
I managed to corner him again the next day at uni. Well, I suppose it wasn't really cornering. I was just trying to force him to talk to me. I fell into step alongside him and walked with him but he didn't say anything. He didn't even look at me.
All I could think was that I must have said something. I must have been a real prick and now he thought that was how I really was. I must have done something. I just didn't know what.
I had a bad feeling about it. When I thought about him my thoughts were turning more and more sexual. I was having trouble thinking of him without those thoughts, and I was still having those dreams. I must have done something at the party. I must have offended him pretty badly somehow. Or I must have really hurt him. And I was terrified that it had been physically. Had I forced that kiss? Had I forced more from him? Was that why I was dreaming about him naked, vulnerable and sexy as all hell? Was that why he couldn't forgive me?
"Alex, I'm sorry." I started. "I don't know why you're upset with me, but whatever it was, I didn't mean it. I was drunk. Can't you forget it?"
Alex didn't say anything.
"We're friends, right? Can't we hang out again?"
Alex kept walking.
"What did I do?" I demanded. I was tired of this. If he was going to ignore me, then I wanted to know why. "What did I say? The least you can do is tell me why you're pissed at me instead of just ignoring me!"
He turned to face me, eyes narrowed and I was relieved I was finally going to get a response from him. "Just leave me alone!" he snapped, then turned and kept walking.
"No." I said without thinking. "Alex, you're my best mate. What the hell's going on?"
A couple of people looked around since by the time I finished speaking I was almost yelling at him.
Alex walked determinedly on.
I was hurt and furious all at once. Why wouldn't he talk to me? Why wouldn't he even fight with me?
I didn't know what I'd done, but I figured it must be bad.
And no matter what he said, I couldn't leave him alone. I texted him, I tried to call him (he never answered) and I dropped past his house (he was mysteriously never home when I arrived). If I saw him at uni he was either just as venomous as he had been before or totally silent.
After another week I wanted to give up. I was disheartened and beginning to think that I'd just lost my closest friend for good.
Alex was easily irritated, but generally just as quick to apologise with a blush and a winning smile if he'd got cross at me or thought he might have offended me. I didn't care. I knew he didn't mean to annoy me or hurt me so I laughed it off, brushed his apologies aside.
So I didn't understand why he couldn't do the same with whatever I'd done or said. I'd been drunk- I didn't even remember it- and somehow it was destroying our friendship.
I hated to admit it to myself but I thought he must have found a new friend, someone to replace me. someone else who would listen to him vent and just laughed, who wasn't irritated by his nervous energy- and I couldn't believe there'd be that many of us.
I hated to admit even more that it hurt. I'd thought he needed me. He'd always been texting and calling, telling me things, needing my advice or just some company.
And I was coming to realise that I needed him, too. He said things that I wasn't brave enough to do more than think. He made me laugh and he made me argue with him. I'd never argued with anyone in my whole life until I met Alex. He made me feel alive.
I'd thought we'd understood each other. That we'd been similar. Because surely, beneath his brash exterior and under my more reserved nature were the same uncertainties, the same doubts and insecurities. Despite what was on the surface, underneath I thought we were a lot alike. And I thought he'd seen that too.
And I was suddenly afraid that he wouldn't speak to me again, when I really wanted my friend back. The dreams, the desires I could ignore. I was sure I could. As long as I could somehow make it up to him. As long as we could be friends again.
What I needed was a plan to corner him and talk to him. A plan to get him to talk to me again, at the very least.
Andrew took a lot of convincing, but in the end he agreed. He was having another party. One I wasn't supposedly coming to.
And I was going to ambush Alex and make him tell me what was wrong.
I walked out to the balcony on cue. Andrew had texted me to tell me where he was. Alex's lean figure was leaning on the railing. His hair was messy and my fingers itched to brush it back into place.
"Hi." I said. Alex reeled.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" he bawled. He looked furious.
"Wanted to see you." I said with a shrug and an inward sigh.
"Why can't you just leave well enough alone? Don't you get it? I don't want to see you!"
" We're friends."
"We're not friends," Alex spat. My heart sank.
"How the fuck am I supposed to get over you if you won't fucking let me move on? Just leave me the hell alone!" he yelled.
Alex drew a sharp breath, then shook his head and before I could think of anything to say he'd shoved past me and left.
"So I guess it's out." Andrew said. I hadn't noticed him standing there. The tip of his cigarette glowed in the darkness.
"What's out?" I asked. I was still reeling from what Alex had yelled at me.
Andrew leant against the railing. "You haven't figured it out yet?" he asked dryly. I felt heat rush to my cheeks. Was this serious? "Mate, he's pretty obsessed with you. I can't believe you haven't noticed it before now. I mean, he's only been in love with you for, like, the whole time you've known each other."
"What- how do you know?" I blustered. This was unexpected. This was... what the fuck was I supposed to say to this?
Andrew shook his head. "'Cause he told me. He fucking moons over you, you know. He talks about you all the time. Just be glad you don't have to listen to him." I felt a surge of annoyance. I didn't like the way Andrew was talking about him, but I had to think about this.
Alex was in love with me?
"Then why the fuck's he been avoiding me?" I demanded. Andrew just shrugged. I guess I hadn't really needed to ask. Alex had sort of just yelled the answer at me anyway.
I'd been worried I'd forced him to kiss me. I didn't know if that was the case or not, but that didn't matter anymore. I'd got it all wrong. That kiss had meant something to him. And I'd spent the last few weeks telling him it hadn't meant anything.
I left Andrew to his smoke, and headed down off the balcony wondering where Alex had gone. Not home, surely?
I began to walk down the street, and remembered the small park I'd seen on my way. I suspected he'd be there and I was right.
He was sitting on a gently grassy slope, arms around his knees.
He looked absolutely pissed. Thin lipped. Like he might hit me.
I took a seat next to him.
"What do you want?" he said angrily. I smiled at him as he looked at me. I knew he wouldn't listen to me if I tried to explain myself. And being this close to him made me want to do all those things I'd been dreaming of. So, for the first time while sober, I leant forward and kissed him lightly.
Alex made an agonized noise and shoved me away from him. Our lips parted, but I didn't go far, sitting next to him like I was. I put my arm around him and pressed my mouth to his again.
After a millisecond he started to relax, to melt against me, started to kiss me back.
And wow. This was what I'd been missing. I wished I could remember kissing him before. This was way more than I'd ever expected from a kiss. This was way better than a dream. Heat spread through me, pooled low in my belly. I was so going to get hard if we kept this up.
It didn't take long before he shoved me away again, this time with far more force. I held on to him, otherwise I think he might have got up.
"You prick." He snarled. "You think this is fucking funny? You think I'm going to let you mess with my head like this? Fuck you, bastard."
"Why don't you want to kiss me?" I asked blankly while he struggled against my grip on his arms. Yeah, I know. Let's just say that the kissing had robbed me of my brain power.
"Because you don't think about me that way, you're just fucking with my head and I won't-"
"I never said that." I said calmly.
I never knew what it meant when I saw the term 'deafening silence'. That was the moment I found out. "W-what?" he eventually blurted, eyes widening.
"You said that. You never asked. I never said."
Alex swallowed hard and changed tack, went back on the attack. It was where he was most comfortable, his most reliable form of defence. "What, so now you expect me to believe you're in love with me? And that it's a coincidence? As if you're not just after an easy lay and I'm not -?"
"Alex." I said gently. He scowled at me and blushed red.
"Then why did you laugh?" he demanded, sounding absolutely anguished. "Why would you? Like you thought it was funny."
"That's what all this is about?" it struck me all of a sudden. "The fact that I laughed?"
"Why shouldn't it be?" he sounded outraged. "You laughed¬- as if no one would want to kiss me sober, like you thought I was a freak, like-"
"Alex," I interrupted him. I was appalled. "You never thought that I might be laughing because I didn't know what to say? I was embarrassed because I couldn't remember a damn thing and I had no idea if you were angry at me or going to pretend it never happened... because it was awkward and because I didn't have a clue what the hell else to do. I didn't know how it happened. If you'd wanted to kiss me or if I'd... you know, forced it. I didn't mean to offend you. I didn't think you might take it like that." I finished quietly as he frowned and looked away. He shook his head and we fell into another awkward silence that rang in my ears.
"So you wanna tell me what happened that night?" I asked.
"If you really want to know." He grouched.
"I've only been worried about it for weeks." I said dryly. "Christ, Alex I was beginning to think I must have hurt you. You know. physically." He snorted.
"So what happened?"
Alex sighed. "Well." He said. "Andrew got tired of me moping so he decided... to dare me to kiss you. So I did. And you seemed... you seemed to like it. So we went into another room and kept... we kept kissing. I hadn't realised you were that drunk. Not-remembering drunk. I thought... well. I left you alone for two minutes to go to the bathroom and when I came back you'd gone back to the party and you'd had even more to drink. You were so pissed we didn't have a choice but to bring you home. Andrew had to help me carry you."
And there it was. I finally understood.
"Alex, I'm so sorry." I apologised quietly.
He shrugged. "Whatever."
We sat in silence for a time on the hillside, the grass stained silver by the moon. I wanted to lean over and kiss him again, but my uncharacteristic forthrightness had deserted me and I was back to not being brave enough.
"You wanna go back to the party?" I asked finally.
"I suppose Andrew will bitch if we don't." Alex said sourly. I grinned. Old Alex was back.
We walked back and Andrew raised his eyebrows at us when we came back into the house.
"Just ignore him." Alex said loftily.
"Want a drink?" I asked him. He gave me a hard look that just screamed 'really?', then shook his head. "I'm going to get one." I told him. He rolled his eyes and headed over to some mutual friends. I went to the esky in the kitchen. When I reached for a beer I realised I was shaking.
How the fuck was I supposed to do this? How did anyone do this? Obviously most people were braver than I was. Or more desperate. Otherwise I was pretty sure the human race would have died out, oh, say, a few millennia ago.
I thought about it for a while, then put down my untouched beer and wandered back out into the lounge room and found Alex laughing with Elspeth.
"Hey." I said to him. I was determined to be brave. And I hoped I wasn't desperate. "Want to dance?"
"Fuck, no." he said scathingly. "To this music?" I grinned.
"You're just making excuses now." I told him. "I know I'm a crap dancer. You'll just have to deal with it." He made a face, but allowed me to bully him into dancing anyway.
He'd been right, I realised. The music was slow. And therefore so was the dancing.
Well. This was awkward.
He was softer than I'd thought he'd be from looking at him. Being skinny like he was I had expected him to be bony, but he wasn't as bony as I'd thought. He was warm and reassuringly solid next to me. I kept my hands at his waist, but it did take some willpower.
Alex's hands rested lightly on my arms, but he didn't seem to know what he wanted to do with them. He kept glancing briefly up at me, eyes dark and worried and somehow timid, then glancing quickly away again. He spent a fair bit of time looking at my neck and chest.
"I didn't have anything to drink." I said.
Alex shot me a dark look. "So?" he asked.
"So," I said, sucking in a breath and gathering my meagre scraps of courage. Alex looked at me more curiously. "I'm going to kiss you." I blurted. I'd had some clever line about a dare lined up in my head, but it had totally deserted me.
Alex blinked at me stupidly and I quickly brushed my mouth across his. It wasn't nearly so easy to kiss him sober, not on our own in the dark.
Alex bowed his head and rested his forehead against my shoulder.
"What the fuck are you doing?" he demanded quietly. He sounded tired. Resigned.
"Well." I swallowed hard. "I'm... thinking we should give this a go." He drew a deep breath but stayed silent. I waited for him to speak, but instead he drew another deep breath a few seconds later. "Um. Are you ok?" I asked.
"Fucker. You want to give this ago and you're not going to let me smell you in peace?" Alex demanded. Oh. Right.
All the same, relief swelled through me in a wave. "Well, you could have answered me." I suggested with more heat than was characteristic for me.
"Whatever." He brushed it aside, then looked up at me with a quick grin before resting his forehead back against my shoulder.
We stayed that way for a while. It was comfortable. And neither of us was about to make the next move. Christ, the steps we'd taken felt like huge leaps and bounds to me.
"Can we get out of here?" Alex finally moaned.
"Yeah." I agreed. I didn't think he'd noticed, but Andrew had been watching us closely and I wanted to escape his gaze. We went back into the kitchen and then into the hallway. "Where are we going?" I asked.
"I don't care." Alex said. He didn't smile and he was being bitchy as all hell. I was used to this. I followed him out of the house and walked with him in silence. It didn't take long for me to figure out that we were walking back to his house. I wasn't quite sure what to make of that, but I said nothing, ignored the warning of my inner voice.
When we came to his front gate, he paused and turned to me. He looked anxious. "James." He said. "I don't think we should do this. This is a bad idea." I stared at him in shock.
"That's crap!" escaped me before I could help it. "You've been avoiding me for weeks over this, and apparently you've been wanting this for years and now you don't even want to try? What the fuck, Alex?" he looked away, but I'd seen the anguish in his eyes and I knew what was wrong. "I'm nervous too." I finished.
"What's that got to do with anything?" he snapped in reply. "You don't like me like this. You never have. And now you want me to believe that you want to-"
"I do." I said firmly. Alex fell quiet. "Maybe it took that drunken kiss to realise it, but I do. And I'm not going to let you walk away without at least trying. You don't think we won't regret it, otherwise?"
Alex was silent, head bowed.
I felt sick. Maybe it was from my bout of forceful insight, but I was pretty sure it was just nerves. He couldn't profess his love (in not quite those words) and then refuse to try to work things out together, could he? That didn't make any sense.
"Alex." I said more quietly.
He finally looked up. "You're a mean prick. You know that, right?" I grinned. This was Alex's way of admitting I was right.
"Yeah." I agreed. "Now shut up and go get your things. You're staying over at my place." His look of confusion vanished with my last words and I imagined he blushed, but it was a bit too dark to tell.
"Fine." He said. I waited for him to vanish up the path, but he didn't move. I smirked inwardly and grabbed him for a kiss.
He made a soft 'eep' noise and grabbed handfuls of my shirt and before long it had become nothing like the three brief kisses we'd shared already this evening. It fast became something approximating the drunken kiss I only half recalled. It was amazing. Better than amazing. Alex tasted so good, and his tongue teased mine and made my heart race. I was warm and tingly all over, burning where he touched me. It was so good I was getting hard. Embarrassingly hard, embarrassingly quickly. I hoped Alex either didn't notice or didn't care. Whatever. I was pretty close to not caring myself.
Alex finally pulled away, almost reluctantly. I expected him to make a scathing remark but instead he was silent, wrapping his arms around me and holding me close, pressing his face against my neck and shoulder. I hugged him tightly back, warm all over.
Finally he pulled away, grinned at me, planted a kiss on my lips and hurried towards his house.
"I'll be quick!" he called over his shoulder.
I didn't care.
I wasn't going anywhere.
At home I let us in and turned the lights on.
"Your parents still away?"
"Yeah." I agreed. "Hungry?"
"You offering to cook for me?" Alex asked with a quick grin.
"Um. Yeah." I agreed.
"Sounds good." I made mac and cheese because it was easy and cheesy and it was comfort food.
Alex sat on the bench and watched me. We talked a bit but it was still a little awkward. How were we supposed to go about this?
"Thanks." He said when I sat down and passed him his bowl. It was a nice change to him moaning about how he couldn't cook. Neither could I, really, beyond a few basic meals. I was planning on learning though. Maybe I'd see if Alex wanted to learn with me.
I stacked the dishes in the dishwasher and Alex wiped the benches down.
I didn't know what to say. How could things change so much with just a few words, a few kisses?
"Hey." Alex said quietly. This new sincere Alex was weirding me out. I was not used to him being this nice. "Thanks for... for not listening to me earlier. You're right. About now I would have been at home kicking myself from here to forever. I just..."
"I know." I interrupted.
Sometimes the possibility of losing or ruining something was so frightening that it was worse than the idea of never having it in the first place.
Alex smiled briefly. "Yeah. Of course you do." He reached out and placed his palm over my heart. I was taken aback. It was an oddly intimate gesture. "No one knows me like you do." He said softly. "There's no one else in the whole world..."
"Hush, you." I told him, and kissed him. I was far more comfortable doing that than trying to think of words to express how I felt.
Alex's hand gripped the back of my neck and I slid my fingers down his spine. His lips were so soft, warm and yielding. His mouth was hot and slick and his tongue was quick and teasing. Incredible. I wondered what it would feel like against my skin... elsewhere... a shiver ran through me and I was getting hard again. Alex moaned softly against me and then broke away, giggling.