A/N: If you haven't seen the latest SL promo for the next half of the season, I suggest you do so, because this story is a take off of what Grace says to Jack in that promo.
Just One Kiss
It was just one kiss.
Just one, tiny, miniscule, meaningless, insignificant little kiss. And she didn't even kiss him for crying out loud, he kissed her! She had to keep telling herself that...It was just one kiss. It didn't mean anything. Just one kiss…except it wasn't.
"Hey, Jason, do you have the answer to number eight?"
Grace didn't look up. She didn't have to. After two and a half months with him, she'd come to recognize the sound of his walk. The program that they'd entered for prospective doctors had taught lessons on perception, after all, a doctor needed to recognize anything that might be off with their patient, no matter how minute it might be. And so naturally she had picked up on the slight shuffle of his walk, the way he dragged his right foot to the side due to the fact that he kicked it out when he walked and when he stopped, he stood at near sixty degree angle. Not that she was always watching him walk, though. It was merely part of her training, of course.
Grace lightly bit the edge of the pink eraser on her pencil with front teeth as she studied the question on her pre-test. The realization occurred to her that Jason hadn't answered her. "Ja-" She looked up as she spoke, only to find him seated on a chair in the rec room, faced away from her. She noticed his sell phone was clamped in his hand. "Jason?"
She dropped her pencil to her test booklet and hopped to her feet. "What's the matter?" She brushed a strand of her wavy angel curls out of her face as she approached him and pressed her hand to his shoulder. Not because it was how doctors were supposed to make their patients feel secure, but because she was working on pure instinct.
"I don't want to talk about it." His voice was small and weak, like the groan of an old arthritic hound.
"Madison." The name dripped off her lips before she could stop herself. Things had been difficult between them all summer. She thought they had broken up before school had ended, but apparently they had gotten back together, and distance was not making the heart grow fonder. "You can talk to me," she said sincerely. "I'm here if you need to talk." Without waiting for a response, she grabbed a chair and pulled it up, seating herself squarely in front of him.
Jason cracked a weak smile. "You're not going to let me get out of this are you?"
A cheeky grin swelled on her pink cheeks. "Sometimes it's good to get things off your chest," she explained. "I've found that out the hard way."
"Well…" Jason shook his head and turned his focus to his cell phone. "I just…Madison and Lauren have been friends forever. They were friends even before they knew Amy. So I guess I kinda grew up with Madison hanging around the house. For a long time she was more like another annoying little sister…and then last year I began to see her differently." He shrugged his shoulders, still without looking Grace in the face. "And so I-I asked her out. And it was alright at first, you know. She was my first real girlfriend…not counting Maddy Fitz who I held hands with in sixth grade."
Grace chuckled, her laugh like small waves washing up and rearranging the seashells on the beach. She suddenly noticed Jason was staring at her and smiled brightly. "I'm sorry…I didn't mean to-"
"It's okay, it was meant to be funny." His shoulders eased up and he sighed. "So things were alright with her at first-"
"But she started getting…I don't know, clingy? She wanted to be around me all the time. And I never signed up for that. I know couples are supposed to be close, and maybe it's just me being a first timer and all, but I thought she was pushing it."
"And then?" Grace quirked her eyebrow.
"And then she started getting really-" Jason bit his tongue, chewing it for a moment as he decided how to phrase his next sentence, "-sexual."
"Sexual?" A slight blush crept into her already bright cheeks. It was almost like a flashlight was shining from the inside out. "Wh-what do you mean?" She coughed and looked at her hands piled neatly against her lap. "If I'm not being too nosy, of course."
"No," he laughed, "it's okay." He scratched his nose in thought, another habit Grace had noticed of him. "She wanted to cuddle…then make out…and then, well, then she started talking about being virgins and-" Jason began to cringe. "She was just too eager if you know what I mean."
Grace closed her eyes, thinking back on many a conversation she'd had with Jack as they discussed their own sexual path and her losing her virginity. "I can empathize," she said in a whisper. "It's a good thing you waited."
"Yeah." He flipped open his cell phone and flipped it closed again. For a while, he just said nothing. Then he looked up and admitted, "I thought getting away this summer would help. I thought it would cool her off and let her think, but it didn't. She just keeps calling me and-and I couldn't take it anymore."
It dawned on Grace right then. "You broke up with her?"
"I didn't feel like I had a choice. She's been stressing me out so much, even my study habits have been faltering."
"I'm sorry." Grace slipped her hand to his knee. "I really am."
"Thank you." He scuffed the heel of his foot on the floor. "You're a good friend, Grace."
"I do my best." Grace licked her lips, tasting her coca cola lip balm. She wasn't too crazy about it, she preferred the sweet flavors like cotton candy and bubblegum, but it had been a gift from Adrian, so she'd graciously accepted it before leaving for the summer. Her eyes lifted to Jason's face curiously. "What did you tell her?"
"Uh…" he looked down embarrassedly. "I told her I couldn't date someone who isn't serious about their future."
"Oh." She nodded, understanding the logic behind the excuse, even if it wasn't exactly true. Her mind turned again to Jack. For whatever reason, talking with Jason about Madison was giving her terrible déjà vu. She often thought about how Jack used to – and sometimes still – pressured her about their sex life, or lack thereof. And besides football, he didn't really have any goals in life either. Except maybe to marry her one day…so they could have sex.
She felt something twinge in the pit of her stomach, but she wasn't sure exactly what it was. Sadness? Anger? Regret? And then something pulled her right out of her stream of consciousness. It was only then that she realized Jason's hand was on hers. She was registering the warmth of his fingers. Grace focused her sight and found him staring at her. Her cheeks began to feel hot and she didn't know why.
"I never noticed before," he said slowly, "but your eyes…they're-they're silver."
Grace chuckled. "Gray, really."
"Silver sounds better." Jason eased his hand to the table and set his cell phone down. "Besides, gray doesn't sparkle."
Grace chuckled again, that rushing shell tinkling laugh. "Thanks, I guess."
"Can I ask you something?" Jason asked, his voice suddenly stretched like taffy.
"Why are you with him?"
"With-with Jack?" Her lips quivered. "B-because," she stammered, thrown off by the sudden change in conversational course and general directness of the inquiry. "We love each other."
"Do you? Even after…even after he cheated on you with Adrian?"
"That's all in the past. He's changed. I've changed. Adrian's changed. We've all changed."
"But how do you know you love him?"
Jason nodded in a cumbersome manner. "You've never had feelings for anyone else before? Not even an inkling of a feeling? A tiny crush?"
"Then how do you know it's love if you don't have anything to compare it to?"
Grace shuddered. "I…we have tests we should be studying for." She rose off the chair. "Again, I'm sorry about Madison." She turned, but his slender fingers wrapped around her arm and whipped her back, causing her hair to whirl like a golden cloak around her head. Without warning, she felt Jason's lips on her own. It burned. A sweet, slow burn, like cinnamon mints. Her whole body soon felt that way. And soon she found herself giving into the kiss before she even knew that she was doing so, but she promptly pulled away.
There was no visible heat on his dark cheeks, but she noticed that his lips were slightly swollen from the rush. He looked alive, a one-eighty from what he had when he'd come in after his phone call and subsequent breakup with Madison. "I'm-I'm sorry…I don't know what came over me."
Grace looked down. His hand was still on her bare arm. She didn't make a move to remove it. "It's okay," she replied, barely loud enough for him to hear her. "You're upset…you're not thinking." She closed her eyes, still tingling at every pinpoint in her body. "I won't hold it against you. We can…we can just keep this between us."
"Yeah, sure. It was just one kiss." Jason eased his fingers off of Grace's creamy arm. Red hand imprints remained from the force of the grab. His eyes grew. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"What?" she followed his gaze and almost laughed. "No! No. I'm fine." Grace brushed her arm with the tips of her fingers out of instinct, despite knowing she couldn't brush them away. They'd disappear in time, of course, but the fact would remain that they had been there.
Jason stared down at his feet. "Thanks. For…not being angry with me. You're right, I'm just upset. Again, I'm sorry."
"It's fine." Grace eased across the recreation room to where she'd abandon her pencil and pre-test notebook. She scooped them up and dropped them into her pink sweater, which she wrapped up and pressed to her chest. "You know what, I think I'm a little too tired to study tonight. We can…catch up tomorrow, okay?"
"See you at breakfast." She could feel his eyes on her as she opened the door to leave. Glancing over her shoulder, her face shielded by a sheet of her hair, she saw him lick his lips. Without thinking, she licked hers too. Her coca cola lip gloss wasn't as vibrant as before and as the door shut, she wondered if Jason could taste her lip balm on his lips too.
As the memory faded from her mind, Grace Bowman found the tip of her tongue lightly brushing her lips. It tasted of sweet cotton candy Bonnie Bell, the kind Jack claimed he enjoyed so much when they made out. Somehow, it didn't seem to be her favorite anymore.
She listened to the sea water crashing against the sand. Something inside kept telling her that she should come clean and tell Jack about the kiss. After all, it was technically cheating, wasn't it? But another voice in her head told her she had a right to keep it between them. She hadn't kissed Jason, and he'd only kissed her out of weakness. And besides, Jack had cheated on her once before…so did he really have a right to know about something so small?
"But two wrongs don't make a right," she murmured unconsciously. It was something her father had always told her growing up. But that wasn't always true. Technically negatives made a positive. And people were punished for bad things to make them right. Keeping her secret, perhaps, could be considered Jack's punishment for cheating. "But I always forgave him…so does that mean I've wiped the slate clean?"
The ocean reflected in her silver eyes as she watched the water. When she'd realized Jack and Madison had spent time over the summer, she'd immediately suspected that maybe he'd cheated. Or perhaps it was just wishful thinking. After all, if he had cheated with Madison, that would make the playing field even again. She could forgive him easily a second time if she was guilty too. They'd have to forgive each other if they were both guilty of the same offense. But as far as she could tell, Jack and Madison seemed nothing more than friends, which made that one kiss all the more acidic on her mind.
She whirled around. There he was. Her boyfriend. Her handsome Jack. The boy she'd cheated on with One Kiss. "I…I have something I have to tell you."
Jack smiled. He leaned in and quickly kissed her, though no full body tingle came with his kiss. "What?" He was clueless.
"I-I kissed someone." She couldn't read him. All she could register was the waves thumping rolling in and out, tearing down the sand with each crash.
"It was just one kiss! It was just a quick kiss!" She rambled, trying desperately to explain. But as the words rolled off her tongue, she knew God must be shaking His head at her. It was just one kiss. But it had been one kiss that was worth more than all the kisses she'd ever had with Jack. Heaven be damned, because she'd be willing trade that one night of incredible sex with Jack for just one more kiss with Jason.