A/N: FIRST OF ALL, I DID NOT WRITE THIS. I'm merely posting this for a friend who could not do it for themselves, so, please, do not ask me to write more, do not address me, and don't ask me who it was. You don't know them. However, I can get comments to them, so, if you feel so inclined, I know that they'd love to read what you think. Because this is not my own piece, I'm not going to put tags on it. However, it is R/M. I hope you all like it. :) I know that I did.

Charlynn

Sleepwalking
A One Shot

Marissa looks herself over in the mirror one more time, running a hand through her hair before she exits her bedroom. Ryan sits silently on the couch in their living room as her date stands awkwardly near the front door.

She looks down at the sundress she has on-- light and summery for the balmy evening--and then up at the suit and tie the man in front of her is wearing. She knows already that they are not right for each other. He is uptight and pristine and she is flowy and wild and just a little bit of a mess. But that doesn't stop her from pretending that maybe something could come of the night.

She rattles out a goodbye to Ryan and she hears him let out an unintelligible mumble; his eyes never moving from the TV, his fingers never uncurling from around the remote. Her date, Christian, tells her that she looks beautiful and she is taken off guard, surprised at his genuine smile.

They sit in some small sushi restaurant for dinner and she laughs at all the right moments and nods appreciatively when he says something that is meant to be agreed with, but she never really contributes to the conversation. He prattles on and on and in a strange way she is almost grateful because that means there will be less time she has to talk about herself.

She sits in his convertible outside her apartment listening to him talk some more. He has a soothing voice, but he's almost manic in his excitement to get his thoughts out into the open. He puts the radio a little louder and leans in to kiss her. She returns the sentiment, enthusiastically pressing her lips against his own. After a while she finds herself tired of being unable to run her fingers through his gel-slicked hair. This is when she knows for sure that they will never work out.

--

Ryan decides to take out the garbage. It still amazes him that only two people in such a low budget apartment could produce so much waste. He grips the white bags tightly in his hands and makes his way out the back door, over towards the garbage cans.

The sounds of the easy listening station intrigues him more than anything, and he looks towards the source of the noise to be greeted abruptly with the sight of intense macking in the front seat of a convertible. He shakes his head and lets the screen door slam shut behind him.

He sits for a half an hour in the dark before the front door opens and Marissa walks in. He turns on the lamp just to scare the shit out of her. She scowls at him and he hums the tune blasting from the car stereo that had been playing while she kissed her date.

She tells him to grow up. He tells her that the suit isn't right for her. That he's a yuppie. An asshole. A snob. She rolls her eyes and tells him that he doesn't even know Christian. He snorts a little at the name and she demands that if he has something to say, he should say it now.

He gets very serious for a moment. Nods his head solemnly. He lifts himself up off the couch, moving towards her slowly, and he can see that she's getting a little nervous. He cups her cheeks with both of his hands, stroking the sides of her face with his thumbs. He can tell that she's getting a little breathy as he looks into her eyes. And he whispers I love you.



She seems stunned for a moment, and he pulls back and laughs demeaningly, partly because it's true, but mostly because he'd never actually tell her for real. He asks condescendingly if that's what she wanted to hear, and he can see on her face that she knows he's fucking around in an angry, hurtful sort of way.

She seems almost genuinely upset at the prospect that he could never love her. He knows from experience. He knows that when she bites her plump bottom lip and lowers her cerulean eyes towards the ground, she's been hurt. They've been living together for a year, best friends for three, but not once have they ever ventured to be something more.

He's disappointed in himself. His hands hang limply at his sides as he skulks to his room, leaving her standing all alone in the darkness.

--

Marissa loses her job at the newspaper. They are redesigning, overhauling, getting a fresh look. And they have decided that her column is no longer necessary. She is devastated. Lost. Catatonic.

She spends the first week on the couch, unmoving, watching bad daytime talk shows. After a long, hot shower, she spends the next three looking for jobs. Every day she comes home empty handed. Unhappier, even more discouraged than before. It's another week before she realizes that rent is due, and that she doesn't have enough cash saved to pay her half of the bills this month.

She wrings her hands in anticipation and nervousness as she sits at the kitchen table and tells Ryan that night about falling behind in her funds. Much to her surprise, he offers her a smile and softly tells her that he's already paid the bills for the month and given the landlord the rent.

She is shocked. Speechless. She knows he can't afford something like that. He has always been a better saver than she has, but he still wasn't exactly rolling in money. The fry cook position he has down at a 50’s style diner isn't exactly the sous-chef job he's been hoping for.

Another month passes, and still she has found no job. He pays for everything again. The rent, the electricity, the internet and phone bills, the cable, the groceries. She tells him every day that as soon as she gets the money, she'll pay him back. He shakes his head at her with that small smile of his and she can't imagine how he's being so flippant about it all.

She's gotten more and more out of sorts, and she knows that he can tell. Because every day after his shift at the diner, instead of flopping down on the couch and relaxing like she knows he wants to, he takes her for walks around the big park that they live next to. He can read her so perfectly, knows her so well, that he can even pick out which nights to offer her a cigarette to calm her nerves a bit.

Sometimes they talk about how their days went. Other times they babble on and on about the news and the future or the past or the goals that they have. And sometimes, they don't say anything at all. Strangely, she thinks that those days are the best.

--



He's proud of her when she finally finds a job. It's months later, but it finally happens. And for the first time in a long time, she's happy again. And he's happy that she's happy. She loves working for the magazine, and it pays well enough that she is able to reimburse him faster than he had expected. Not that she has to pay him back at all.

He finally gets that sous-chef position he's been dying for, and for the first time in a while he feels satisfied with his life. His schedule's changed, but they still take their walks every day. A little bit earlier in the afternoon, because he works until close, but they still go every day. He wonders if she gets lonely around the apartment at night.

--

He kisses her one day.

Out of the blue. He presses his lips into hers and it is heady and unbelievable and she runs her fingers through his hair and she can feel his breath hitch. She backs away after a short while, her breathing shaky. She quietly whispers that she can't.

He looks questioningly at her, and she tells him that she's still seeing Christian. That's part of the reason. But mostly it's because she's not sure she can risk their friendship for something they might fuck up. She can't risk not having him in her life.

He doesn't come home that night. Or the night after. She's worried to death and freaking out a little bit, but when he comes home and smiles that same wistful smile at her, she finally lets out a breath she doesn't even know she's been holding. Things between them are never the same though.

She sits in her usual chair at their usual table at the usual sushi restaurant that her and Christian eat at. He is talking animatedly about something, but for some reason she can't find it in her to do more than nod absently.

She wonders what time Ryan's getting off work tonight. She tries to visualize his schedule in her mind. She tries to remember if they have any leftover marshmallows in the cabinets so they can stay up late again and make s'mores over the candles on their kitchen table like they did the other night.

--

One night, Ryan is so exhausted that he collapses down onto the couch, still in his stain-covered chef's jacket. He turns the TV on, but his eyes sink shut in a matter of minutes.

He stirs a little, some time later, to long, slender fingers tracing patters on the wife beater he's wearing beneath his unbuttoned white uniform. He reluctantly squints into the bright lights of the television, its soft hum of late night infomercials indicating that it's the early hours of the morning. She's sitting on the floor in front of the couch smiling at him with this soft, assuring grin that he's never seen before.

She leans towards him, her eyelashes fluttering softly against his skin as she kisses him. And it's just like the first time. He tangles his fingers in her golden tresses and pulls her up off the floor, closer to him.

They both break away, their heavy breathing echoing in the room, as they gaze intensely at one another in the darkness. He smiles a crooked grin, kisses the tip of her nose, and pulls 

her on top of him. She rests her head on his chest and he strokes his fingertips up and down the soft skin of her upper arm.

He leaves the TV on.