tagAnalThe Reunion Pt. 01a - Ben & Emma

The Reunion Pt. 01a - Ben & Emma

byOnePenIsMightier©

Authors Note: This is an idea I've been turning over in my head for a little while but was unsure how to actually go about it. This documents a single night amongst a group of friends. Chapter A outlines some background on the group that Chapters B & C do not. There are portions that are the same between all 3 stories to keep track of the timeline between the three, but depending on which pairing that chapter focuses on, there will be additional details thrown in while also having entirely new segments of the story per each chapter. I hope you enjoy them all, as a second portion will be coming eventually outlining the following day. Thanks for reading!

The Reunion: Part 1a -- Ben & Emma

"I'm bored, lets do something." Kayla demanded.

"Like what?" Answered Ashley.

"I don't know. Anything." She replied, slumping further down into the sofa to emphasize her boredom.

"We could go out?" Ben suggested, "By the time we all shower, get ready, and all that it'll be like 8-8:30. That's at least a respectable time to go out for a bunch of people over 30 right?"

"There's that new brewery down on 6th annnnd Washington? Somewhere around there. We could try that out. I hear it's pretty good." Chris mentioned.

"I'm game! Everyone go shower and meet back here in a bit?" Kayla polled the group.

There was a murmuring of agreement as people got up from their chairs and started gathering their things to head home for a short while.

"I'm ganna run home, shower and grab clothes but then I'll be back to get dressed and get ready with you guys if that's cool?" Emma asked.

"Sounds good!" Kayla agreed.

They all filed out of Kayla and Ashley's apartment and towards the parking lot. It had been quite a while since they had all been together what with everyone scattering across the country after college, but it hadn't taken long for everyone to feel right at home again. All 8 had gone to high school together and been inseparable from the moment they entered their freshman year. They had all been in honors and AP classes together and many of them had joined the same sports teams which had further bonded them all together. They had all paired up for school dances and a few had dated one another for short periods of time but nothing that had ever become serious.

That was all ancient history now, they had since all run off to college to become teachers, engineers, and doctors and pursued those careers across the U.S. They would occasionally see one another when they came home for Christmas or Thanksgiving but it had been quite a few years since they had all been together at once. It had taken a herculean effort on Emma's part to finally find a week that they could all come home at the same time. Everyone was thankful at least one of them had the willpower to bring everyone back together and they had all expressed their excitement for the week long get together in the weeks leading up to it.

They had spent the previous 4 days hanging out nearly all day, swapping stories, catching up with one another, and laughing like they always had. Kayla and Ashley's apartment had become the main hub where everyone was coming and going at all hours of the day. Each of them would occasionally run off for a family commitment or to meet some other friend for lunch, but at the end of the day they always ended up together at the apartment.

It was Friday night, they had all exhausted their stories of college and had slowly regressed back to their high school days of lounging around playing cards and poking fun at horrible movies when Kayla had stirred everyone from their old routine to go out for the night.

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The car rumbled along as Ben drove he and Emma towards her house. The two of them had never been the closest in the group, but they had always felt very comfortable around one another. Emma had always been the quiet responsible one, making sure everything was organized and everyone was having a good time, acting as the motherly figure that they all went to when they had problems; not that she minded in the slightest as it made her feel needed.

Even though she was the one that everyone went to with problems, Emma had always been a little jealous of Ben's carefree attitude and the ease with which he seemed to move through life. What would have been major problems to Emma seemed to be minor inconveniences to Ben which he dealt with quickly and efficiently with very little stress. She vividly remembered the sudden passing of a classmate in high school that they had all known but Ben had been close to, and no matter how hard she had tried to be there for him, he always seemed to be the one comforting her after she had broken down. He was unflappable, smooth, and the kind of guy that always eased Emma's mind when he was around. She knew if Ben was there, no matter what happened, he would have the answer.

"So I'll just grab a Lyft back to their place since I'm ganna get ready over there." Emma said.

"You sure? I can shower and change real quick and take you back over there if you want. I'll just hang out while you guys get ready." Ben offered.

"Thanks, but it's fine. Plus, this is us girl's chance to gossip about all you guys!"

"You know we can handle it if you actually berate us to our faces right?" Ben joked.

"No, no, all good things. It's just nice to get some time with the girls is all."

"All good things? Oh I see, you don't want us thinking you actually like us so you hold back on the good stuff."

"You know what I mean. And we say plenty of nice things to your faces!"

"Like what? All I can remember are jokes about how skinny we used to be and how horrible all our haircuts were in high school."

"Well...that's kind of a compliment since you aren't skinny now and changed your hair."

"Oh so now I'm fat? God Em, you sure know how to cut deep." Ben sarcastically prodded, pushing all the buttons he knew Emma had about not wanting to insult anyone.

"No! You aren't fat! You're hot now!" Emma protested before realizing what she'd just admitted and her pale complexion flushing.

Ben laughed, "I'm kidding Em. Totally understand needing girl time. But I do appreciate the hot comment." he said, smiling at her, "Aww look how red you are! You're adorable."

"Thanks." she said meekly, her cheeks flushing even darker crimson.

"I missed hanging out with you. Why'd you have to move so far away?" Ben asked.

"I missed hanging out with you too. I don't know, I guess that's just where I ended up. I've actually been thinking about coming back. It'd be easier to get a job at the hospital now that I have experience and all that."

"Really? You should. We could hang out more."

"I'd like that." Emma said sheepishly, trying not to read too much into the phrase 'hang out more.'

Ben swung the car into Emma's driveway, "Well, guess I'll see ya in a bit gorgeous!" he said as she climbed out of the car.

"You better quit or I'm going to start reading in to all those compliments more than you want me to!" Emma called back through the open window as she walked away.

"Quit what?" Ben asked knowingly, a big smile spreading across his face that Emma reflexively matched.

As Emma showered, she couldn't help but think of her exchange with Ben. She had been dating a lot lately but nothing that ever went anywhere. She just couldn't find anyone that made her excited to see them. She'd known Ben forever, but somehow it all seemed exciting and new when she was with him. The wild blue eyes of his youth now seemed calming. His shaggy hair was now styled and refined. He was still the smooth, easy going Ben that she had always remembered, and if possible, seemed to make everything look even more effortless. She struggled with everyday adulthood just like everyone else, remembering to pay the bills, keeping track of finances, trying to meet people, keeping up with both work and a social life, it was all exhausting, and somehow Ben made everything seem as easy as breathing.

As she stood there thinking about him, she realized that the normal underlying anxiety that she always felt when going about her everyday life had disappeared, replaced by a flutter that made her understand just how fond she was of Ben. Even with his flirting she knew he'd never be interested in truly pursuing something with her, he could have any girl he wanted, why would he go for the awkward, anxiety ridden girl he'd known from high school?

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Ben watched as Emma opened her parent's garage door and went inside, giving him a wave as he backed out of the driveway.

The entire drive home he thought about her moving back to town and what that could mean for them. He wasn't positive, but had a feeling she would at least give him a shot if he asked her out. Emma had never been someone he had really thought of as a viable dating option; she was one of his best friends, why would he risk that? But since they had all gone their separate ways he had found himself missing her most of all. She was one of the most genuinely kind people he had ever met and never had a bad thing to say about anyone. She was loyal to a fault, and always seemed concerned with how everyone else was doing to her own detriment. She deserved the absolute best, and whether it was arrogant to think so or not, he thought he might be able to give her that.

He turned the idea of them over in his head time and time again and it all made perfect sense to him, the only question that remained was how to get there. Did he just come right out and ask her? Should he play it slow and try to get closer and closer to her until it just sort of, happened? Somewhere in between? He wasn't sure what the best option was, but he did know he'd have to be the one to make it happen as Emma was too shy to ever be the one to approach him. In the end he decided he'd continue laying the groundwork that he'd started earlier in the week, flirting with her whenever he could, trying to spend more time with her, and if the opportunity presented itself to just ask her outright, he would.

It was a typical Ben type plan that involved very little that was fully thought out and would inevitably include a lot of spur of the moment decisions and improvisation; but as with most things in his life, he assumed it would work out for the best.

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A while later they had all showered and changed and were all gathering at the apartment.

Ben pulled his car into the parking lot, looking around to see if he recognized anyone's car, only to realize he was the last to arrive. He got out of the car wearing a tight fitting baby blue V neck that accented his toned chest and arms along with a dark pair of jeans. He bounded up the steps to the second floor apartment, hearing loud voices laughing from inside as he opened the door.

Everyone was already debating the best course of action for getting to the bar as he entered.

"Hey, hey! So are we all getting taxis down to the brewery then?" Ben asked the group, trying to get caught up on the conversation.

"Seems like the best option to me." Chris agreed.

"We're going to need 2 cars with all 8 of us. Who wants to order them?" Emma said, coming from down the hallway and entering the conversation.

Ben's heart skipped a beat. Emma was normally gorgeous, but tonight she was spectacular. She wore a bright yellow sundress that hugged her perfect form before flaring at the waist and hanging loosely around her legs, ending just above her knee. She wore tan ankle high boots with a heel that made her thin toned legs look even longer than they already were. Her dirty blonde hair was down, draped over her shoulders, framing her beautiful face. She was stunning.

She smiled at Ben as she noticed him staring at her. He quickly regrouped and smiled back as Grant offered an alternate option to Emma's two car plan.

"Nah, I've got a guy that gave me his number last time I was in town and said to call him whenever I needed a ride. He's got a car that seats 6. He'd let us sit 2 people on laps or on the floor if we wanted to all ride together." Grant chimed.

"Ehhh I don't know how safe that would be." Emma rebutted.

"It'll be fine. You can sit on my lap, I won't let ya bash your head in." Ben said smiling at Emma and hoping she'd take him up on the idea.

"Who's going to prevent everyone else from bashing their heads in?" She asked.

"I don't know, but there's not a lot worth saving there." Ben laughed, gesturing around the room at everyone else.

"Hey! My head works perfectly fine thank you very much." Kayla responded.

"Of course it does beautiful. Don't you worry, I'll protect that pretty little head of yours," Issac mocked Kayla as he stroked her cheek with the back of his hand. Kayla quickly pulled back and playfully chomped her teeth in his direction.

Emma giggled, "Ok fine, I guess we aren't going that far."

"Perfect. I'll call him." Grant said as he stepped outside the apartment to make the call.

Emma wandered over to where Ben was standing, "You sure you don't want Ashley or Kayla sitting on your lap? They're both smaller than I am. Would make more sense." She offered.

"Well at least one of them will have to sit on someone else's lap to make it work. Plus if you sit on me that makes the other seats a little less crowded since, like you said, you're so enormous."

"I didn't say I was enormous! I just meant I'm taller than them."

Ben laughed, "I know, but yeah, I'm sure, you can sit with me. You look beautiful by the way."

Emma blushed, "Thanks. You look nice too."

A couple minutes later, a black SUV pulled up outside the apartment complex. "He's here! Let's go!" Grant called inside.

Grant climbed into the passenger seat greeting the driver, while Adam, Ashley, and Chris climbed into the back bench seat. Issac climbed into the one captains chair while Ben climbed into the other and patted his lap, smiling at Emma and offering her his hand to help her climb in.

Emma took his hand and carefully climbed into the car, settling onto Ben's lap, her arm draped around his neck. Ben's arms encircled her and pulled her tight against him. With the ceiling being lower, Emma's head was awkwardly tilted and pressed against the fabric of the roof.

Ben noticed the awkward crick in her neck, "Here, put your head down here so you don't mess your neck up." He offered, gently pushing her head onto his shoulder to rest.

Emma took a deep breath after getting comfortable on Ben's shoulder and immediately became flustered. She had never been this close to him and he smelled amazing. She felt her whole body flush and a tingle in her groin as she breathed him in.

Emma let out a long sigh and squirmed slightly in his lap.

"You ok? Comfortable?" Ben asked, smiling at her.

"Of course. Just getting situated." Emma responded, eyes averting his.

Ben gave her a slightly inquisitive look, trying to place the look on her face that said she was hiding something. She seemed nervous, but he couldn't possibly imagine why.

Everyone finally settled in their seats, they headed towards the brewery.

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They all crowded a standing high top table, looking around and taking in the large warehouse turned brewery. The large timber beams and columns along with the acid wash concrete floors gave the space an old rustic vibe that contrasted the large stainless steel brewing equipment nicely.

"This is pretty sweet!" Chris commented.

"Yeah this is actually a lot nicer than I was thinking it'd be." Ashley mentioned.

"Yeah, yeah, it all looks lovely, but the real question is how's the beer. What's everyone want? I'll get first round." Issac offered.

They all perused the large board hanging over the bar listing their beer selections and gave Issac their order.

Issac headed off with Ben and Chris to help carry everything back.

As the night progressed the guys each took turns buying rounds for the group until a slightly intoxicated Emma interjected, "Hey...My turn to buy a round. All the guys have bought stuff, I want to get a round."

"You don't have to, I was going to get the next one." Ben responded.

"Why? You already got a round. It's the girls' turn to treat the boys." Emma said confidently.

"I honestly don't use my money for anything, so save yours and let me buy a few pretty ladies a drink," Ben smiled back.

"Nope, sweet talk isn't ganna win this one. I wanna buy a round."

"Aww you think we're pretty?!" Kayla said mockingly batting her eyelashes at Ben.

"Actually, with you always saying you're 'like one of the guys' I believe you were exempt from that. Sorry, you're just going to have to be ugly like all the rest of us." Issac said, grinning at Kayla.

"God you're a dick. Can't have a single nice moment can we?" Kayla prodded back, playfully shoving Issac's shoulder.

"Since when have we ever been nice to each other?" Grant responded.

"Actually, in the spirit of changing things up and breaking old habits," Chris started, getting everyone's attention, "Adam, would you like to maybe start us off by breaking an old habit and showing the group how its done?"

Adam's eyes widened, staring directly at Chris, silently begging him to let it drop as Chris smiled back deviously.

The group looked between Chris and Adam, trying to figure out what was going on.

"I'm intrigued by how terrified Adam looks right now. Whatever it is, I'm 100% in for it." Ben laughed.

"It's nothing. Chris is just being an asshole, that's all." Adam said, chuckling nervously and trying to brush the exchange off as not worth pursuing.

"Oh no no no, not getting out of this one buddy. This needs to be done for your own good. I know it's awkward but just bite the bullet and do the thing." Chris retorted.

Ashley looked up at Adam's terrified face, "What's he talking about? Whisper it in my ear and I'll be the judge of whether he's being an asshole or not. If he is, then everyone will let it go."

Chris burst out laughing uproariously at the offer, "Oh that's a PHENOMENAL idea. Ok, Adam, tell her and she can be the judge."

"Not happening. You can all drop it. It's not happening."

"Fine, then Chris tell us what it was." Ben suggested.

Chris shrugged, "I'm sorry buddy, I really am, I gave you every opportunity. I told Ada-"

"Don't you dare!" Adam interrupted, "FINE, FUCKING FINE!"

Adam turned to face Ashley, his face bright red, bending down and whispering in her ear.

A giant smile spread across Ashley's face as Adam pulled back, "So, was that a question or a statement? Felt like more of a statement to me."

Adam's face was burning hot with embarrassment, "Ugh, you're all going to be the death of me. Mostly you." he said pointing at a giddy Chris who was doing a little victory dance at the other end of the table. He leaned back in and whispered in Ashley's ear.

Ashley pulled back, a look of disgust suddenly on her face, "You son of a bitch, it's taken you 13 god damn years and when you finally do it it's because CHRIS made you?! No! The answer is absolutely not! How da-...I'm kidding, of course. I've only been waiting since sophmore year you idiot." Her smile had returned, beaming at Adam who's face had contorted from horror, to pain, to apologetic, to euphoria.

"Woah, woah, woah....did he just?" Kayla pointed from Adam to Ashley.

Ashley, still smiling and staring up at Adam slowly nodded.

A high pitched squeal of delight erupted from Emma and Kayla as they bounced up and down with excitement.

"It's about time!" Emma commented. She then realized that in her excitement she had grabbed on to Ben's arm, "oh, sorry, got carried away I guess." She apologized as she pulled her arm from his.

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