A/N Hey guys! If you've author alerted me for anything C/B, you probably won't want to read this. I sat down attempting to write the next installment of Maho or TTE, or even finish up my CB 2x15 oneshot, and this is what came out, oddly enough. I blame Mia. *hugs*

He'd been five when it had first happened. If you could even call it by that name; call it a kiss. Technically it met all the requirements; lips pressed against lips. But if you were going to nit pit – which even at five had been her area of expertise and not his – then he guessed it didn't really meet the definition of a kiss was supposed to be. Not that he'd every actually taken the time to look it up in a dictionary, but he was pretty sure that mouthing 'one, two…' and all the way up to ten against her wet lips wasn't what poets had been going on about for centuries.

And he'd proven right when at ten when it had happened again, much with the same outcome. He'd seen his parents stealing one another's breath under the mistletoe purely by accident; he'd been unable to sleep, too worried that his first official present to his first official girlfriend wasn't 'mature' enough for what she had called their 'sophisticated relationship', and he couldn't help but notice the blush creep up his mother's neck as his dad's lips massaged hers with his own. It wasn't anything like the quick good morning pecks he'd become accustomed to exchanging on the playground as she held court by the monkey bars for all her squires to see or the hard pucker they'd share before he'd sneak off to cultivate his horticulture skills with his best friend.

He'd begun to think maybe they were doing something wrong and had taken it upon himself to fix the problem. Ten year old Nathaniel Fitzwilliam Archibald was nothing if not richly endowed with both excess time and money. So he'd tried nibbling on her bottom lip like the magazines his mother kept hidden under the west wing powder room sink had suggested he should. She'd cocked an immaculately plucked eyebrow at him and tired to mirror his actions, but their teeth had clashed and he'd ended up with a fat lip. He'd tried relaxing his jaw and running his hands the length of her spine, but the boney processes protruding there had given him the willies and he'd nearly threw up a little in his mouth – and hers – at the feel of them through the thick material of her coat. By the end of that school year it had come to the point where he'd tried kissing her in every way and everywhere he could think of. He had even stooped so low as to take inspiration from Dr. Seus, but neither in a tree, or by the sea, or in a bar, or by a car – or in any other combination of settings that rhymed, flowed alphabetically or had any relation to each other what so ever had made a difference; a kiss remained just an awkward meeting of lips.

At sixteen he'd given up, resigning himself to his fate of kissing and being kissed like a dead fish until he'd gotten the crazy and alcohol fueled idea at the Shepard wedding that maybe it wasn't them that was the problem so much as it was her. Maybe if he kissed her best friend, a girl her polar opposite, he'd know once and for all if a kiss was really just a kiss, or if it was it was really just her kiss.

So he'd kissed his girlfriend's best friend, the forever life of the party, hoping that she'd shed a little light on the situation. And she had. Their kisses hadn't been as automatic, as forced, or as robotic; there had had been more flexibility in her lips than tension, more fire than ice beneath her skin. But the kiss had been wet and sloppy, and more of her tongue than his had ended up in his mouth until it was practically down his throat.

He'd decided it was him after all, and had danced with the one who brought him until at seventeen his fake world had crumbled in the hands of his phony father and he'd dumped his knock off of a girlfriend to for once follow the beat of his own heart. It had led him all the way to Brooklyn, to this moment frozen in time on the steps of a coffee shop where the planets all aligned, the world righted itself on its axis, and everything suddenly snapped perfectly into place. And finally, with her curls hugging the hands that had found their way to the nape of her neck and his tongue slowly tasting hers, he'd at long last experienced it; he'd kissed and been kissed.

It was the difference between screwing your eyes shut and having them slide closed of their own volition in pure pleasure; between puckering your lips and having them slowly par to meld themselves perfectly against the pair they were always meant to meet.

It was the difference between everyone that had come before her and the no one he wanted to come after her.

It was the difference between him and them and him and her.

It was the difference; she was the difference, would always be the difference.

It would always be Vanessa.

A/N I actually really enjoy Nate/Fitz with Vanessa, though I think I'll leave the writing of them to much more experienced supporters. I am going to sit down and force myself to work through my 'Til the End issues today. It's terribly unfair of me to make you wake for an update for this long *hangs head in shame*