Disclaimer: I love Greg Berlanti, and Everwood is his, not mine. Mild Language.
She remembers the day she broke her best friend's heart. It was 3:13pm on a Thursday five days before the new year would start in college. It was two days after the girl who had become a sister to her came back to town.
She remembers the moment she knew she would be breaking her best friend's heart. It was 1am on an insane weekend. She had been suspicious of her feelings, but it was at the hour that her suspicions were confirmed. They had just dropped off her ex, drunken and delusional. The boy who would make her break her best friend's heart sat down beside her on the couch, and looked at her with an amused grin as he laid his head on the cushion.
"Don't you wish you had held off on breaking up with that sexy beast?" He had chuckled as the ex let out a nasal snore that could be heard across the apartment. His eyes focused in on her, and he told her she had cookie crumbs on her sweater. They complemented her outfit, he said with a straight face.
A stupid moment to have an epiphany, that's undisputed. But that was the single minute when she knew. She would be breaking her friend's heart, and his friend's heart. At that moment, she wanted to break every strict code of friendship there was, and she hated herself for it.
They had never spent as much time together as they had with other people, but somehow they shared an understanding that slept silently, unknown to most people but established and concrete to them. Even when they stopped talking as much as they once did, they looked for each other, protected each other. Without the other's knowledge, of course.
She told her friend not to toy with him; he simmered at his friend for betraying her.
She had once said he wasn't her type. Understanding and friendship was their foundation, and on 1am that weekend, she knew she had been wrong.
He remembers the pain he felt when he put himself out there time and time again, only to be pushed away. He remembers the connection he shared with the girl he had never considered in that light before…
It was 11am, and her best friend had just left. She had looked at him and said that it wasn't right the way he had been treated before. She had apologized on her friend's behalf, and bought him an ice cream cone to cheer him up. He had thought how adorably innocent she was, how sweet. And as she waved the cone in front of him temptingly, he realized he was going to break his own friend's heart.
They spent the summer denying it to themselves. One minute of weakness crippled two months of self-sacrifice. It was 3:00. She had been hanging out with him increasingly often since the departure of her friend and the awkward atmosphere that enveloped her every time she spent time with his friend. He was playing again and they were home alone.
She loved to watch him play; his fingers were artistic with elegant grace unsurpassed by any other. She would never talk much while he played, preferring to let him work in silence and liking the way the only sound in the room would be from his notes. The passion in his eyes and the beauty of the music calmed her in ways that surprised her. He didn't seem to mind that she was there, and if he did he never mentioned it.
He didn't mind; he appreciated the silent companionship. It strengthened his concentration.
He had been playing, and she had been beside him. His fingers finally rested and his eyes cleared to meet hers. She didn't say anything; words always seemed to ruin perfectly fine moments. But her lips spread into a smile and she became transfixed with his fingers, those beautiful, lovely fingers.
Her own hand gingerly touched his gifted God-like hands and she wanted to tell him that she liked his fingers. She stopped herself, knowing even in her head how stupid the comment would be.
He watched her stare at his hands, examined the smile that hadn't left her face. And he couldn't shake how nice it felt to have her skin touching his.
He shifted minutely in his posture, which caused her to look up. His hair was falling into his eyes again, and she only had time to be amazed at how carelessness on any other person could still look stylish and purposeful on him before she realized she was staring and looked down at his hands again. Their fingers were still intertwined, but the closeness of the action didn't register in her mind.
He was so beautiful.
She was so different than anyone else he had ever met… and so similar to whom he was.
He was so amazing.
She was so cute.
His hands were so perfect.
Her expressions were so quirky.
He moved his hand, which meant she had to let go- to her embarrassment- and used it to tip her chin upwards. She smiled at his hair again, and he smiled at her smile. Their smiles faded as a thought jolted through both of them. They realized that this was the moment of heartbreak for those closest to them. Did he feel the same way? Did she? And somehow they felt in their eyes that the answer was undeniably yes.
Without thought or understanding, as one they both leaned forward silently and then their lips were brushing ever so softly together. She leaned closer to his body and he tightened his hold on her hand. Her free hand ran through the longish hair she admired so often, and his lips increased the intensity and pressure he exerted against hers.
And then he moved his legs for greater comfort and gave her more accessibility. Her hair tickled his face, his legs brushed against her thighs, and for one sweet thought-free moment, their kiss was perfect.
"Ephram?" Her best friend's voice cut through the perfection with cruel precision, the hurt and shock in her voice filtering itself into a weapon.
"Hannah?" His best friend's voice was a punch in the stomach for him and a cause for shame that was rising up steadily in her throat.
The two broke the kiss, their eyes snapping open, panic on both their faces. They only looked at each other for a fifth of a second before turning to face the accusatory looks of their closest friends.
Betrayal. That's what both set of eyes glared at the two.
"Ever heard of the friendship code?" Bright exclaimed, "Don't ever make out with your best friend's ex!"
"And don't ever make out with your ex's best friend. Funny how both applies here." Amy softly said before turning on her heel and fleeing.
Ephram and Hannah met each other's eyes again.
"I'm sorry," both of them blurted before they sprang up and ran after their respective best friend.
A moment in time that was long foreseen.
The minute they realized they had feelings for each other.
The minute she realized she wasn't that shallow.
The minute they found themselves breaking their friend's hearts so they could mend their own.
Both had been hurt by those they were no longer with… why should they even care? They were better people than that, that's why.
"So. I think I kinda like you. A lot, I mean. Well obviously I like you, but in a less 'let's hang out and read poetry' kind of way and more of an 'I'm slightly creepy because I can't stop thinking about you' kind of way. Not that I'm being stalkerish. I live next door to you, so, that isn't really possible. Good God, you should probably shut me up soon, considering my mouth seems to have taken on a life of its own…" Ephram was rambling. It was the day after the Abbots walked in on their kiss, and he didn't seem to want to take it back.
"I guess two months together will do that, huh," Hannah quietly answered. "We can't do this, you know. I love Amy, and I still love Bright. We can't."
"Oh, I know. There's too much to lose. I'm just saying…"
"Would it be terrible to call this a rebound?"
"It would justify it, maybe."
"Would it be wrong?"
"Depends." Ephram shrugged, meeting her eyes.
"I do like you, you know."
He smiled and kissed her again briefly. "Yeah. I know."
If they did go through with anything, it would be short lived. Both of them knew it. There were too many involved, too much complexity. It wasn't right. They probably weren't soul mates or any of that crap, anyways.
She took his hand, those hands she fell in love with, and pulled him to a sitting position in his former room. She had always cared about him, and he had always looked out for her. Granted, it was a sister-brother thing to begin with, but the concern was always there, and that was what was important. Somehow, through everything that had happened and everyone who had passed through their lives… somewhere along the line, friendship and sibling-like protectiveness had grown into more. And both of them knew exactly when that happened, down to the exact minute.
"Can like beat love?" He asked her thoughtfully.
No. But it sure could make both of them feel a hell of a lot better.