There was a rapping knock at the apartment door, unheard over the screams of dying zombies. A few moments passed. Jeremy remained immersed in his game but because his ears were alert for pixelated enemies sneaking up behind him he knew he had heard something. Rapping again.
"Come in!" he shouted from the bunk bed but didn't bother to rise. He knew who it was. Laura, his girlfriend, only had a few friends who visited anymore and if it was her there wouldn't have been a knock. Sarah walked into the room and dropped her backpack on the floor. Hey's were exchanged but although he could feel her staring waiting for a proper greeting he didn't yet pause his game.
Sarah slumped in a heap beside him on the bunk bed with an exaggerated sigh. "We were supposed to study.", she offered in explanation.
Jeremy nodded. "She texted to say she missed a bus and decided to stay in the library a while to finish something. Said she'd be home in a couple of hours."
They both referred to Laura, Jeremy's girlfriend and Sarah's best friend. He paused and looked over at her more to finally acknowledge her presence formally than anything else. It was a familiar presence. They'd known each other for years now. Sarah was half black, half white, and a complete odd ball. It gave her skin a smooth mocha shade which was neither too dark nor too light to deny the light a playful accentuation of her curves. And she had plenty. Not too many, but just enough to be what Jeremy would have admiringly called "voluptuous". A stark contrast to Jeremy, his short black hair and skin that was the kind of pale only a shut in like himself could acquire. Her in summer shorts and a blue low dip top which Jeremy was quietly grateful for, him in his blue jeans and black t-shirt as always. Her full and voluptuous. Him more with the body of a runner.
Jeremy also thought her mix was what allowed her to have such a frivolity of character. A white girl couldn't pull off some of her jokes, and she loved to be silly. A black girl wouldn't be thought funny for making them. At least that was his take. She seemed like Alka-Seltzer to him. Always effervescent and bubbly. Whereas he was a sort of happy melancholy most times, easily switching between rolling along with the joke and changing the subject to something relevant in a heavier sense. They were both opposite and the same in many ways.
She noticed him staring thoughtfully and offered one of her big intentionally cheesy grins. He laughed and shook his head, offering the controller.
"You wanna play?"
She waved her hands and head in unison. "Oh no. I don't do that. That's you guy's thing with the zombie games."
He nodded and then felt like a bad host. "I could put in racing or something." He shrugged at her with his sideways grin.
She considered it very briefly but then defaulted also in favor of being polite. "Um no that's okay you play your game. I'm just going to get my notes and stuff out and read over the chapter, so.."
It was only a few minutes of Jeremy at his game and Sarah with her book in her lap before Jeremy began to let his mind run as always. Thinking how strange it was since he moved to the city. How people here were fine being in such close vicinity and yet acting like the other wasn't there. He was not yet comfortable with it, not because he didn't like silence. He did when alone sometimes. But because it made him think of all those people bustling about on the sidewalks close enough to bump shoulders and yet each in their own island worlds. Nearly face to face and yet still each managing to be behind metal and glass with their cellphones and coffees and Kindles. Another contrast. Jeremy had lived most his life in southern states and although he wasn't much for crowds in close proximity he was a social creature. Not in that how is the weather city superficial way, but in that how is your mom country way that seemed to make people here who didn't seem to be used to genuine inquiries over small talk uncomfortable.
Maybe it was his quietly intense stare. The way his eyes didn't need to avoid and dart around to different objects and subjects. It showed in the culture to him how people here were less comfortable with being really seen and he suspected it just as much of Sarah. That under the bubbly there would be more. Reasons to need to stay so happy all the time that were not themselves so happy. He wanted to know her. Ask her. But a question like that would either not be or could not be answered so directly by someone who wasn't ready for it. He knew that much. He knew she was capable of real conversation. They'd had plenty of less personal debates before about religion, politics, modern events. Most of the time though it naturally tended towards their common denominator, Laura, as it did that day.
"So yeah. Laura told me you picked out that new bra I liked.", he offered. As soon as he said it he wondered if his trying so hard to sound casual ever just made him sound more forced, but that was just more proof that he tended to over think things.
Sarah looked up from her book with a mischievous grin that pushed her glasses back up her nose. "You two enjoyed that one huh?"
"Mmhm." He grinned back.
"I should go shopping with her more often.", she said waving her pen with the syllables.
He turned towards her leaning against a pillow. "You should. You have good taste in bras.", he said with an over expressed wink. She shook her head and looked back to her notes.
This sort of jokative flirting was common between them. Although not when Laura was around of course. When her eyes were away he looked her over. Her crossed legs in those shorts. He always noticed her full thighs. The bit of cleavage in the round dip of that shirt, not too much but easily a nice C cup he figured, not fully checking her out in any lustful way but not looking away from that which his eyes naturally admired either. He sometimes liked to let his eyes linger on her when they could both pretend not to know he was looking. Jeremy did it because he suspected she secretly found it a little flattering. And of course she secretly did.
A moment later she looked back up at him remembering. He didn't bring his eyes to meet hers immediately. "Yeah I got this one at the same time. Look." She stuck her thumb into her shirt and moved the strap up just enough to show the color. "I love that shade of turquoise."
He bit his lip a little bit looking just as much at the dip in her shirt that led so smoothly up to her neck and shoulder as the actual strap. "I know." Though she had never expressly said he felt pretty confident he knew her favorite colors, her favorite music, her general fashion sense. He was not just observant. He was attentive. Maybe too much so.
He let his eyes wander up to her face. To her full lips before meeting her eyes. Brown and very deep. He was sure they held so much he didn't know yet. Her eyes locked onto his a moment. Blue and vibrant. It was only for a moment, but for just a moment both of them knew that today was different somehow.
"Whatever happened with that guy in your class?" Jeremy acted as if he had to struggle to remember the name scrunching his forehead. "Nick or something."
"Yeah." She nodded slowly as she spoke. A sign of disappointment. Jeremy was looking at her neck. Were his eyes making her skin warmer somehow, she thought. "You were right. He turned out to be a jerk after all."
Jeremy pointed in the air triumphantly and laughed. "Called it!" When she gave him a look he immediately ceased the smile for her.
"No. Dude. It's like I'm a jerk magnet." Dude now. Her language got stupider the less she felt like facing something serious he noticed. He felt no need to point that out and strip her of her defense mechanism but in a round about way she knew he didn't like it. "Sorry I didn't mean to call you dude, just.." She put her palms up.
"No. It's just that guys will treat you however you let them know they can get away with. Stop dating guys for their looks instead of their character and you'll stop having to find out after the fact that you don't like their character." He put his own hands up. "But no speeches. You know this. No speech today."
She clicked a sound of indifference. "Yup yup."
He chuckled a little bit and looked at her flatly. "Alright. Come on. Hug it out, bitch.", he said putting his arms out towards her.
She leaned in squeezing him patting his back and whispering, "Good hug. Firm." It was a running joke between the three of them.
Jeremy wrapped his arms around her properly and squeezed them together. He felt her shoulders relax and she did the same. He buried his face in her neck so that his lips were pressed against it, careful not to purse or move them but intentionally taking in the smell of her perfume, her hair, her skin. He exhaled as he pulled away and she did her best not to show how the warm breath on her neck had made her shiver. It had been a long time since she had been this close to anyone she had also felt close to.
"I'm never going to have what you and Laura have. It's just not what guys want from me." She said it in her same flippant tone, but he heard more sincere sadness in it than he was used to hearing.
He petted her hair in a half joking dog like way so that he would have an excuse to slowly turn this into to just plain stroking her hair a moment. "That's not true. You're very lovable. You just have to start wanting more for yourself." He felt his heart begin to pound in his chest now in a sweet sort of stinging way. He knew he was doing something brazen and abnormal now. He knew he did it on purpose when he saw her eyes close a little longer and her head lean into his touch the smallest bit and he wasn't sorry.
She put her hand on top of his to shake it in the frustration of making her point. "But you two are so in love. Like sickening in love. Always so romantic and sweet on each other. I want that."
"What. You can't have that? Why not?" He looked her over and shook his head and then lifted her hand to his lips closing his eyes before setting it back down. "See? That's not hard. Anybody could do that at any time."
She pulled her hand away and looked him over trying not to seem shocked. She wasn't sure. Was she? No, she decided. Probably it was fine. She was not a virgin, but somehow this small act made her feel more like blushing than anything sexual she could remember doing. She knew it was an act of sincere adoration from a friend. She saw that adoration showing openly in his expression now.
"Who couldn't love that face huh?", he said in a teasing tone putting his hands over her cheeks.
She felt her face flush as he did and put her hands over his. Who can say what it is that stirs these things on. No single thing. In the spur of the moment it felt appropriate to him to lean in and give her what he told himself could be a merely friendly kiss. As soon as their lips met it was clear it was not going to be as brief a kiss as he thought. He could feel her kissing back. Maybe as reflex at first. It was so very soft and slow. She felt as if she were tingling and she knew she had never had another kiss like it. As he pulled away she felt herself following his lips until they weren't touching and their eyes opened to look at each other.
Everything felt close and warm. The world had been curved in at it's borders. There was nowhere else and no one else outside the room. All the rushing of Jeremy's mind was quiet and still and at peace. All her fear and insecurity somehow felt exposed and known and yet she didn't feel as terrified as she imagined she would have. Maybe it was ten seconds before they spoke. Maybe it was ten minutes, but when they did the change in mood was reflected in their hushed tones, as if they had crept upon a deer in the woods or some fragile rare thing that they might break with too much movement.
"Wow.", she said simply. They both laughed a laugh of quiet nervous release. "Hwooo!", she exclaimed. More laughter, which hushed itself after a while as if to see if the moment still existed. When they discovered somehow their hands had come to be touching they decided it was still the moment.
"Can I get another one of those?" She was smiling but he could see that she meant it. The room was a place of four dilated pupils and the moment could not be denied, second guessed, questioned ... or it might never come again. And neither wanted to be the one to cause it to go.
He brushed the back of his hand over her cheek softly and the tender kiss resumed as if it had never broken. When he felt her mouth begin to open a little, her body begin to lean in, he pulled away. When she began to pull back he would follow her back in, his hand on the back of her head now. On her neck. In her hair. Neither of them could be absolutely sure of where they were. The room was a swirling unsolid place. Yet he managed to make sure it was just a kiss. A long and passionate deeply stirring kiss, but she learned to follow his ques and it stayed just that. When they pulled away again they were holding each others hands. Maybe so they wouldn't wander any further.
She breathed a wordless expression that might have translated simply Yes. Good. Please. Jeremy grinned not just as a friend or in happiness but in enjoyment of knowing he had directed that little event. He knew she'd never had someone trace the prompts of her desire in that way before. Let alone focus it and reign it in. It was stronger now than before the kiss. Not relieved. Not simply more turned on. More realized.
"I don't think..", she started to say, but just then he leaned in biting into her neck softly. Licking up it slowly and warmly. Kissing wetly with a small unintentional growl up to just below her ear, savoring with a controlled hunger she could very sharply feel. "I.. ohhh.. kay." Whatever she had been about to say she had no idea what it was.
Until she heard herself say "Laura."
"Hours.", he whispered back simply, his hands on her sides now. Squeezing at her hips. Pulling her closer. Pulling her underneath him as he leaned forward over her pressing his weight warmly down against her, their chests pressed together.
All at once she pushed hard on his shoulders, startling them both. "No. Okay stop. We can't." They stared at each other but the moment would not be so easily shaken off.
He grinned looking down at her licking his lips for the taste of her. His eyes were like she had never seen them before. The Jack Skellington poster on the wall was like she had never seen it, and she had. A thousand times before. Everything was foreign somehow. Some other version of the same room.
He whispered gently. "You say no. But you won't stop me." A command? A statement of fact? He kissed her lips again, deeply now moaning into the kiss. His hand was on her shoulder clenching. Pulling at her shirt. She shuddered with pleasure as she felt his body grind up against hers, felt herself kissing back. Felt her hands on his hips pulling him down harder. He took her hands off by the wrists pinning them to each side above her head. Her hips bucked up involuntarily.
She gasped the words "Mmmfuck me Jeremy. Do it."
"No.", she heard him say simply. No? Her eyes opened and she saw him gazing down at her with an expression she didn't recognize. He was still in the same sweet daze as she was but there was clarity there too. Did he just say no after all this?
"No.", he said again. "Anyone can fuck you. I want to be the one to show you what it's like to make love."
She laid still as he began to lift her shirt off over her head, lifting herself with it to accommodate. She looked up at him with a sense of awe. That. That was how he was looking at her. He wasn't going to stop. And he wasn't going to let her make it a cheap thrill. He wasn't going to let her run any which way.
He wrapped his arms around her, pressing himself close again. Her arms went around him, caressing his back. He may not have been buff but she could tell he was toned. His arms too. She could feel him unclasping her bra. Pulling it up off over her arms. She extended them. His fingers went over her shoulders and arms as he pulled them off before he dropped the bra to the floor. He ran his hand down between her breasts, over her chest above them, just touching and gazing at her for a moment. She sighed a heavy shaky sigh and began to let herself just take it in. He made a small noise that was one of pleased approval.
He leaned back down over her cupping her breast towards his mouth as he kissed softly over her nipple. She gasped out a moan feeling herself writhe beneath him as the kiss turned deeper. Into a warm sucking lick, his tongue rolling over her nipple. He squeezed the other breast. Harder. Needfully now. Fingers feeling over her nipple before moving up. His thumb brushed over her lips. Immediately she understood, opening her mouth to suck on his thumb. "OooohSarahh", he moaned. She moaned in response to all the sensation, her pleasure and his seemed to mix in the air. She had never heard her name moaned like that before.
He licked slowly up between her breasts before sitting up to watch her suck at his thumb, his hands wandering over her full thighs now. She watched as squeezing them caused his eyes to nearly roll closed. So many times he had imagined squeezing them as he was now. And now he could feel them. So warm and soft and full. His hands rubbed up and down as he squeezed. He began to suck in his breaths, breathing faster. Exhaling the sound "Ohhh" with every stroke.
He dug his fingers underneath her shorts and panties pulling down. Her hips lifted instinctively helping him along. He pressed his hand against her hot wetness rubbing. Sarah's mouth at first opened in a silent gasping oh. And then catching her breath the moans came, as he rubbed his middle finger up and down just inside her. Up over her clit now in soft rolling circles. Up and down. Circles. Up and down. He seemed to know just when and where. His hands over her tummy and breasts again.
DWREEAAAGGHH!!! Both of them jumped startled and then looked over at the screen and laughed infectiously. In her writhing she had managed to unpause his game by coming down on the controller. He paused it and tossed the remote, his head falling on her chest as she clutched at his back with laughter.
"Oh my god.", Jeremy said still catching his breath.
"I'm sorry. Sorry.", she laughed.
They smiled. Eyes meeting again. Then it finally occurred to her that one of them was still much more dressed. It seem to hit him at the same time. He pulled off his shirt quickly throwing it behind him as she reached for his button, unzipping him. He kicked off his jeans and boxers. Here they were now. Naked together. It seemed all at once so unlikely and unreal and so completely natural and inevitable. He wondered if it would be awkward right now to tell her he loved her. She knew that, right?
He took her hand in his, squeezing it around his cock, wrapping her fingers tightly around, his hand squeezed over hers. He bucked his hips slowly forward, pushing through her hand as he made her stroke it down. "MmmmyyesssSsarah.." She began stroking on her own but whenever it was too fast or too hard his own hand guided back the rhythm. Once he was fully hard he pulled her hand off grabbing her wrist and motioning for her to get up with him.
"What?", she said. But he gave no reply and just motioned for her to stand. Once she did he sat down on the edge of the bed pushing her down to her knees. Before she fully realized the implication she found herself on her knees in front of him. "I can't.", she said quickly.
He grinned that grin at her that was now so familiar and so different. Any time when things were not this way was too long ago to remember. It seemed there was only now. "You will."