A slight breeze came in through the open window, rustling the curtains, but never reaching the two occupants lying inside.
Jess frowned. "And why shouldn't I be? It's over 90 degrees in here, and I put a lot of hard work into that."
"'Hard' being the key word," Leslie giggled into his chest.
Jesse was too tired to think of a comeback. "Just let me be," he muttered, closing his eyes.
"Hey! It was a compliment," she exclaimed, looking up at him.
"Well, it's tough to tell sometimes. I swear, you haven't matured one day since we met."
"Oh, really?" she asked. "I seem to recall a time when you were very pleased at how much I matured."
He sighed audibly. With Leslie Burke, there was no such thing as a quiet, post-coital rest.
She continued, "Or did you mean in a non-physical..."
"I'll have you know, Jess Aarons, that I have grown up... at least a little bit. And don't forget, I graduated 20 places above you."
"High school was a long time ago, Leslie."
"Only three years!"
"Well," he protested, "I would have done much better if you'd tried to help me more with my homework, instead of jumping my bones every day after school."
"So it's all my fault?"
"Ok. I'll remember that the next time you start to get too, um... excited. Which, by my reckoning through past experience, should be..." Leslie raised her arm and glanced at an imaginary watch, "... about an hour. Give or take 15 minutes."
"I'll be asleep. Good night," Jess said, turning over onto his side.
Leslie put her hands behind her head and stared at the ceiling in silence. Seconds turned into minutes. The heat in the room was sweltering, burning her skin... Gah, she couldn't take it any longer!
"Jess?" she whispered. "Jess!"
"Huh? What is it?" He turned over. Damn, Jesse thought, she looks really worried for some reason.
"Did you... did you really mean what you said?" she asked him, anxiously. "Are you getting sick of me?"
Jess sighed. "No, of course not," he said, hugging her close. "I just say those things sometimes, as like an act or whatever. You know guys. We're always taught to be tough, show no emotion... get our heads out of the clouds," he mimicked his dad's drawl. "Things like that."
She burrowed deeper into his embrace. "Well, I'm still sorry... I guess you've spoiled me, Jess. We've been best friends for so long that sometimes I forget that I never used to have any friends. And I understand why, now. I mean, who wants to hang out with the always-too-cheerful girl who goes on and on about fictional places and never shuts up? No one."
Jesse bit back a laugh. "What do you call me, then?" he frowned down at her, pretending to be annoyed. "Don't forget, I wasn't exactly the most popular kid, either. What would my life be like without you and Terabithia? I'll tell you: Miserable, dammit." That got a laugh from her. "Instead of working from home, I'd probably be stuck in Home Depot by now... or even worse, college." He shuddered at the thought. "So of course I'm not tired of you; never could be... So don't ever change, ok?"
"Ok." Leslie placed her lips gently on his. Before he could respond, though, she pulled back. "Speaking of Terabithia, we haven't gone in a while."
"Well, now look who's overestimating the passage of time," he replied. "You call one weekend 'a while'?"
"I miss it," she pouted.
"Don't worry, it'll still be there. It will still be there long after you and I are gone."
"Hey," she said, suddenly brightening up again, "Did you finish the bridge design yet?"
"Already taken care of." He smiled. "May Belle should have hammered in the last of the planks yesterday. She's actually quite good at that stuff... for a girl."
"Ah, of course."
"We'll put the finishing touches on it when we go back. This week, sometime..."
Jess threw up his hands. "As you wish, my queen."
"Thank you," she said, slapping his arm playfully. "My king."
He rolled his eyes. "Just remember to thank your dad for the wood. Anywhere else, it'd probably cost a lot of money, which obviously we can't afford..."
"... Because you don't work at Home Depot."
"Yes, because I'd rather spend my time drawing and being with you than helping people like Gary Fulcher find their... paint thinner, or whatever they need."
There was a short silence.
"You know," Leslie spoke up, "we could try it if you want." Jess didn't answer. "I mean, how hard could it be to have real jobs for a little while? I could write when I get home, and you could still find time to draw... And we'd have a nice, steady income - "
"You'd find out how it feels like to have a traditional wife. Who knows, maybe you'll like it," she said, trying to give him a slight smile.
"I don't want a traditional wife, Leslie. That's why I married you."
"Well, a little change is good every once in a while... Hey, are you hungry? You want me to make you a sandwich?" she giggled.
"Uh, definitely not," he grinned back at her. "But let's try something new anyways... because, like you said, 'about an hour.'"
She looked at him questioningly.
In response, Jess rolled them over and lay on top of her. "For the next few minutes, Leslie, I want you to just close your eyes... and keep your mind wide open."