"You can borrow them, if you want."
I stood up and nearly whacked my head into the underside of Sasha's closet shelf. "Really? I mean - "
She chuckled. "You can borrow my hooker boots. Really." Her smile turned sly. "I think Murph will appreciate 'em." She outright grinned. "I'm just sayin'...He likes it when his girl looks good."
"And hooker boots make me look good?" Yeah, there was some skepticism there.
"Well, he likes you anyway, even when you wear those damn things - " she pointed to my ugly-as-hell plain black sneakers, my work shoes. " - so I think you could go barefoot and he'd be okay."
Which was true, too. "Okay." The boots moved from the closet to hear my backpack. Wouldn't look odd at all for me to be walkin' 'cross campus with those. Not. At. All.
I sat on the half of the pushed together dorm beds that was Sasha's. "Where's Cara?"
"Class." Sasha crawled onto the desk chair and nearly fell out of it. "Then she has some other meeting and then the choreographers meeting."
"I don't know any reason why they wouldn't let you two dance together." Was the truth, too. Cara, from what I'd heard, was a great choreographer.
"Oh, I know." She fiddled with one of the photos taped to the study carrel. "Anyway - How's Ford man?"
"Murphy's fine." My phone somehow appeared in my hand. Open. Shut. "He had a nice time Sunday." Open. Shut. "Elizabeth loves him."
"Which is code for everyone, am I right?" Sasha chuckled.
Silence stretched between us.
"Cara and I almost had sex last night."
That came out of left field.
"Oh." And...Yeah. No idea what to say to that. None whatsoever. "Uh...Things are going then, yeah?"
She bit her lip. "Yes and no. I think we're in some sort of odd transition state and, while it didn't feel weird last night it wasn't...I mean, we've been there before but this had a different feel to it."
"Good different or bad different?" Still trying to process that last bombshell.
Which, in an odd way, made both perfect sense and none at all. "What happened after?"
Sasha shrugged. "We kissed some more, then she held me and sometime later we drifted off." She looked at her fingernails. "The only thing that you could call different was that I was the spoonee and not the spooner."
Spooning was the Visa of cuddling - generally accepted everywhere. And it wasn't just for hetero couples.
Technically, I think Murph and I had yet to spoon. Technically speaking.
Also just realized my best friend slept either naked or mostly naked. However, not my business.
"Did she say anything during spooning?"
She shrugged again. At this rate she was going to strain a back muscle.
"Just that she missed me."
Which could mean more than one thing. Murph murmured "missed you" into my clavicle when we shared a bed on the weekend and he hadn't seen me since Wednesday.
Or, in this case, it could mean missing what Sasha and Cara had had. I think part of their simplicity was gone and it was going to screw with them for a while.
Then I asked a question that would normally not see the light of day. "How was the almost sex?"
Sasha smiled slowly. "Brilliant. She did this, this thing with her tongue and..." She blushed faintly. "Anyway. It was good."
Any almost sex she had was better than the slim chance or sex that was my life.
And the fact that I was terrified of my own body had nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. Let's factor in the fact that I was downright terrified to let Murph even think about glimpsing me naked. Considering he was male and my boyfriend, he had probably thought of me naked. Multiple times.
Which was a train of thought that needed to go away. Immediately.
"So that was normal?"
Sasha nodded. "Maybe...Maybe we've got past whatever we needed to get past."
Maybe. Or maybe it was the calm before the proverbial storm. Who knew - the weather was supposed to be shit all week.
"That would be a good thing." A very good thing as I could stop worrying that my best friend was heading for a breakdown of monumental proportions - and tequila.
"Very," she said quietly. "You and Murphy have plans for Halloween?"
I let the sudden change in topic slide, grateful to talk about something less awkward. "Yup. Costume party and...That's probably it." We hadn't thought much beyond Colby's costume party. We'd probably just come back and crash. Depending on what Dev was doing would determine my place or Murphy's. "You got plans?"
"Maybe order in, watch some slasher films and cuddle."
Cuddling was nice. Slasher films? Not so much. Chinese or pizza would be the deal breaker.
"That sounds fun." It did - I'd just pick a different movie. "How's classes going?" Breath. "How's Koshare?"
"Classes are classes." She picked up a pen from the holder on her desk and began turning it over in her hands. "No big emergencies or panics there. And Koshare...It's interesting to have your girlfriend as your choreographer. It's not a collaborative process, more like following her vision. It's a great vision, don't get me wrong, but it's a little awkward at times." She fumbled the pen. "Especially if you're not seeing eye to eye."
Dance move to dance move might have been more appropriate but I kept my mouth shut. However, couldn't resist in the end. "Artistic differences?"
Sasha snorted. "Understatement." She nearly dropped a second pen to the floor. "I mean, it's great but...There are some parts that would look better if I did them because they're..."
"Not her concentration."
Sasha nodded. "But it's all good. We keep the studio in the studio as best we can."
Which was probably not an easy thing to do. Maybe it was a good thing Murph and I didn't have a common extracurricular activity.
"How's your week look?"
It was my turn to shrug. "Same as usual. I'm kind of sucking at getting my teaching hours so far, but it's hard between lab, practice, games and...breathing." Looked at my hands, unsure if I wanted to drop this bombshell. Oh, what the hell. Live in the moment and all that. "I'm not sure I want to do this anymore."
She stared, pen thumping softly to the carpet. "What?" She reached for number three.
I slipped my Chuck Taylor's off and drew my legs up. "I just...I don't know. It's a lot of effort on top of everything else and I'm not really liking it as much as I thought I would. It kinda sucks." My socks were mismatched - one gold toe, one blue. El would approve. "I'm only doing it as a back up plan and not as that thing that I really want to do with my life. I mean, look at Murph. Murphy wants to be a history teacher. He's pumped about it. Wants to stay and do the MAT program. Me? Right now it's just another thing to worry about."
Between physics, keeping track of time, and soccer, I had enough to keep me occupied. And I hadn't mentioned orgo, yet.
"So why did you sign up?" Sasha moved her computer back a bit to put her rear on the actual desk. "Why apply in the first place?"
"Because it was a back up plan." Not the only reason, but definitely the simplest. "And I like to work with kids." Again, slightly more complicated than that. Why be black and white when you could operate in shades of gray?
"But you're not sure it's what you really want."
That right there summed it up quite nicely. "Yup."
And really, that's all there was to it. What it came down to was that I didn't know what I wanted, now much less wanted as a back up plan. Hell, maybe waitressing would just be my back up plan. It'd worked like a charm so far.
Considering I turned into a workaholic when I was home for the summer, it didn't really surprise me.
I looked at the time on my phone - it was nearly eight. "I gotta go - I'm having dinner with Murph."
"It's late for dinner, isn't it?" Sasha squinted at Cara's clock on her desk.
"Not when you're having a sort of date with your boyfriend." I uncurled and started to put my Converse back on. "I guess it's not really a sort of date, it is a date. Dinner and a movie." Dinner being ordered-in Chinese and the movie being from the boys' DVD collection. Depending on what mood we were in it might be an action film or something hopelessly romantic.
Hope we were more inclined toward action, truthfully. While I loved my best friend and the fact that she was in an exclusive, loving relationship with someone as great as Cara, it was sometimes a little hard to swallow. Maybe it was because my relationship with Murph was so new, that I was still trying to get past that infamous four month mark.
That damn four month mark I tried really hard not to think about since it made my blood pressure skyrocket.
Sasha stumbled off her perch to give me a hug. "Have fun on your date."
I nodded, turning serious while picking up the boots she was lending me. "You ever need me - to talk or listen or anything - just call. My phone's always on." It was. For her it always would be.
"Thanks." She hugged me again.
With footwear that made absolutely no sense being within fifty feet of me in hand, I headed out of the building and down the hill. And back to my original train of thought about those damn four months.
Bobby and I had been off and on all through high school - usually in periods of about four months. We'd be good as gold for a while and then things just sort of...went downhill. So we'd take a break for a little while and then after a couple weeks - maybe a month - we'd get back together for about another four months. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
Considering Bobby was my one previous decent relationship - though hindsight is twenty-twenty - I had to base things off of, I was honestly expecting Murph and I to follow that same pattern or a variation of it. Not what I wanted, but more or less what I was expecting.
Which, if Murph found that out, he'd probably have me committed. At least.
This was one of those times where I hated being in my own head.
A couple of Smithies nearly whacked me between the eyes with the front door of Jackson while I fumbled for my keys. Snark in check, the stairs to the second floor seemed a little longer than normal and I dropped the boots - and my Chucks - on the new, and, honestly, forty-year-old-homemaker welcome mat and knocked on the door of the fishbowl.
A breathless, wet-haired Murph answered. "Yeah - Oh. Hey."
I stuffed my hands in my pockets. "Hi." He was wearing his good jeans and a nice button down with a long-sleeved white shirt. Murph always looked good to me but right now? Hot. Damn.
Which had me worried I was under dressed. "Am I...?" Not the most eloquent question I've ever asked, I'll admit.
"No," he said quickly, "you look fine. Great."
He was a little nervous. Clearly. "I'm in jeans and a t-shirt."
Murph gave me that smile, the one that threatened to break his face. "Do I really have to say it?"
"Nope." His hand found the small of my back once through the door and the room smelled of Chinese take out. Lunch now seemed very far away.
As far as impromptu Thursday night dates went, this was quite excellent. And it technically hadn't even started yet. Sure dinner was ready but the movie hadn't been picked out and Murph seemed more on edge than he ever was. Especially around me.
There was another blanket down on top of the comforter, an older one, and while eating a Nutri-Grain bar was one thing, sesame chicken was quite another. Smokey sat proudly atop Murph's pillows and I settled on the bed, leaving Murph plenty of room. He handed me both plates to get himself up there and I handed the beef and broccoli back.
"We're away this weekend," I said, mixing the rice with the sauce. "So, I have no idea when I'll be back."
He swallowed what might have been a broccoli spear whole. "Do...Do you want me to leave the door unlocked?"
It was tempting. The only problem was that I was probably going to reek and didn't want to accidentally wake Dev. And where would my bag go? That didn't need to stink up the whole damn room at some beastly hour.
And him leaving the door unlocked was the equivalent of him giving me a key. Which threatened to make my head explode.
It was easier to look at my plate, pushing rice around. "I don't want to disturb anybody."
"It would be a Saturday, right? No idea what Dev's gonna be doing but I have a paper to write, so I'll be here." He moved an onion out of his way. "I mean, if you don't want to, that's fine - "
I looked at him. "I need to shower, at least, because I don't wanna crawl into bed - yours, at least - sweating and smelling like...sweat." Ate some chicken. "I'll let you know when I get back and shower and then I'll come down." Because chillin' with Murph on a Saturday night? Damn fine plan.
"If you don't - "
"I do." I did. "I just don't want to freak you out by how bad I smell."
"Oh." He blinked. "You don't have to worry about that."
"Call it a girl thing."
He popped a piece of beef in his mouth and nodded.
"What's your paper on?"
"It's our history midterm paper. Four to six pages."
Which reminded me I need to not only make flash cards for T-S Britain, but also needed to study them, too. "Fun."
We talked about classes, about flu season (and this year's flavor was swine, not bird) and ate our way through our respective Chinese containers. Murph deposited the empty containers in the hall trash and flipped one row of lights off on his way back to the bed.
"So," he said, easing to the floor and burying his upper body under the bed. "I have two potential movies."
I flopped ungracefully forward, feet against the wall, palms against the bed frame to steady myself and looked down at Murph's broad back. His movie collection must be under his bed. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." He grunted. "Do you have your phone handy?" He stretched a hand back; I shimmied the phone out of my pocket and dropped it into his palm. "Thanks."
He thunked his head on the way out and stayed on his knees, resting his forearms on the mattress on either side of my head. Up close and personal, and he dove in for a kiss. "I have Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Stardust."
Good choices. Very good choices. Not what I was expecting, though that was fine by me.
"Stardust, if you're okay with that." He kissed me again and stood, firing up the DVD player and setting the TV on the right channel. I rolled upright and leaned against the wall. Murph tossed the DVD remote on the comforter and turn off the rest of the lights.
There was some jostling as we tried to find some comfortable position and still clearly see screen on the dresser across the room. In the end, Murph's back was to the wall with me tucked into his side, one arm around the small of his back and the other resting on his thigh, our fingers laced together. With my left shin across both of his, this could possibly be utter contentment.
Could? Let's rephrase: Is.
Ian McKellen's voice came from the TV speakers and I relaxed further into Murph, ear close enough to hear his heart.
However, while I was trying to melt into a puddle of goo, Murph was wound about as tight as a friggin' eight day clock. I dug the fingers of the arm behind him into his opposite hip.
Murph jumped spectacularly.
Yeah. Tighter than a clock.
"I call bullshit." My fingertips creeped under his button down to rub his side through his layering shirt, mindful he was a tad bit ticklish.
He rubbed his thumb over my knuckles where our hands were joined. Took a deep breath. Nuzzled the top of my head. "Is this alright with you?"
That happy little phrase could pertain to a whole lot of things. My heart kicked it double time, sesame chicken churning in my stomach. "This being movie and dinner?"
Murph shifted a little. "Yeah. I mean - Dinner ordered in..."
It suddenly clicked.
Murph was afraid this date - dinner and a movie in - wasn't good enough. He was worried I wouldn't be happy enough with what he'd be able to give me. The boy wanted to bring me the moon and was worried I wouldn't be happy with the simple star he'd brought back.
He didn't need to take me anywhere fancy or to an eight dollar movie to make he happy. This, sitting here with him, stuffed with Chinese and watching a movie in the fishbowl, was more than enough for me.
Hell, just having this opportunity was enough for me.
"Murphy," I said, sitting up and effectively cutting him off mid ramble. "I don't need a nice restaurant or a movie in a theater. This right here is perfect for me." Just to make my point, I cupped his face and kissed him. Hard.
His hazel eyes searched mine in the darkness and he must have found what he was looking for because he all but melted as he relaxed.
"Wanna watch the extras?" he asked as we settled back in.
Tristran tackled Yvaine and this impromptu middle of the week date was something I could definitely get used to.