A/N: So, this is it (other than the epilogue…or if/when another part starts which is very possible). I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who read and reviewed. I truly appreciate all the interest in the story and how many people have responded to it. I want to single out reviewer Laura (laurafc1107), who is quite possibly the most thorough and awesome reviewer anyone could ask for.
I also want to take a moment (even though they deserve much more than that) to thank Em, my wonderful story/idea partner/everything else who has been with the story from it's literal conception and has never faltered. Without her the story would not have been what it is, and it would not have the same heart. She's been the one I go to for ideas, the one who's held my hand, and the one to spend countless hours making it what it is. She's the one that gets the frustration and the writers' block and everything else. Thank you, honey, for everything you've done and know how much I appreciate it. It's awesome how much the story has brought us. Love you! I also want to thank Kaia, who beta-ed the story and assisted as well, and has been a wonderful support system for over a decade. Mwah!
I'd been serious about school for approximately fourteen minutes. In that fourteen minutes, I was definitely considering bailing from this office and scrapping the entire idea. People could totally audit classes for the rest of their lives, right? There was no appeal to an actual degree, right?
The conversation went something like this:
Random advisor that didn't know me at all: "So…Tyler is it? You enrolled in the fall of 2007?"
"And you've successfully completed…eight points?"
Well when you say it like that, it sounds totally bad. I nodded regardless.
"Did you transfer somewhere else?"
Random advisor blinked at me while I chewed my way through three different nails and tried to keep me leg from bouncing her desk like it was fucking possessed.
"So how is it that you only have eight points, Tyler?"
She didn't say it condescendingly, or judgmentally. And I took a huge, deep breath and decided to keep that whole truth thing going. Not that I wanted to necessarily pour out my soul to this woman I didn't know, but I mean, I pissed away four perfectly good years of my life, so I better have a damn good explanation for it. "Honestly, I didn't really care until recently."
"Yet you kept taking courses as audits?"
I shrugged. "My brother died when I was sixteen. It made me not care about a lot of things. School was definitely one of them. The two classes I actually completed were only because I found them interesting or the prof was really invested in me. Auditing kept my old man off my back because I was still technically in school and I didn't really have to worry about grades or tests or homework. It was like school without the work. That was very appealing."
"And what's different now?"
"I don't want to be stuck here forever. I have no direction, no career goals, and now that I've pissed away four years where I should have been taking it seriously, I realize what a huge mistake that's been. I have someone in my life now that makes me want to be better. I need to be responsible—for myself, for one, but for her, too."
She seemed to be considering me, evaluating. Maybe she was one of those people that had great bullshit-detecting instincts and she was trying to see if I set hers off. I dunno. I was really honest because she asked me to be. And lying and charming wasn't going to get me anywhere this time. So if she shot this down, I didn't really know what my next recourse was.
She looked down at what I'm sure was the saddest transcript at this institution. I wondered if GPAs could be negative? Then she looked up at me again. I wasn't really a nervous person normally, but I think my lunch was going to come up soon if she didn't stop appraising me and just give me a damn answer.
"You realize all the courses you've taken as audit will not transfer for credit?"
"So potentially you'll have to take others or those over again for actual credit to make that up?"
"Yep." I nodded slowly.
She nodded back at me. "Any idea what you want to study?"
"I know I don't want to study business."
She smiled at that. "Ok, that's a start. Why don't we select a standard liberal arts program for your first few semesters? That should give you a basic footing and might spark what you want to study from there. Usually freshmen enroll in Writing I, Cultural Foundations I, and Social Foundations I."
Sounded thrilling. Foundations of anything were right up my alley. Instead I forced a smile. "Yeah, ok."
She smiled back at me in a way that seemed like she'd known me a lot longer. "I teach Creative Writing. I could get you into one of my classes if you like. I think four classes are probably enough for your first venture into real academia, yes?"
I chuckled. "Probably, yeah. I have a job, too, so that would probably be wise. And that'd be great."
"Then I'll sign off for your advising requirement. And I'll see you in class." She gave me this expectant look, like she thought I wasn't going to show up or something.
"You've got a lot of work ahead of you. A lot to make up."
"I know. I'll do it. Whatever it takes."
"You're welcome. Don't disappoint me."
No pressure! Funny though, leaving her office, I felt surprisingly good about things. I mean, when I applied myself I knew I could accomplish things. It mostly had to do with attitude. I could do school; I just never gave much of a shit before. I had more than one reason now.
By the time I was heading home, I had an actual, real schedule with classes that were not audit. I had a book list; a book list that had actual, required texts. I was sort of enthused about the prospect of required reading. How geeky was that?
I skipped every other stair going up to the apartment, excited to tell Allison how it went. Maybe she'd want to tag along and we could go get my books tomorrow. I could show her around the campus—all the places I screwed around not learning anything and all the places I'd have to be serious about now. I kinda just wanted her to see where I'd be applying myself.
She didn't hear me come in. Music was playing loud enough that she wouldn't have, and she was sort of flitting around the kitchen, getting stuff ready to make dinner. Dart to the freezer, grab hamburger. Dart to the stove, pan on the burner. Dart to the fridge, chop onion and toss it in the pan. All the while singing really loudly some Kills song I hadn't heard in a long time.
You can holler, you can wail
You can swing, you can flail
You can fuck like a broken sail
But I'll never give you up
If I ever give you up my heart will surely fail
Apparently we were having burgers. And she was bopping along, her hips swaying to the music, standing completely obliviously in front of the stove. Her hair was in a ponytail, her shorts were cut-offs and both deliciously and indecently short. She was wearing a stark, white tank top that seemed both incredibly innocent and at the same time the perfect pair for the short-shorts.
You can holler, you can wail
You can blow what's left of my right mind
You can swing, you can flail
You can blow what's left of my right mind
I don't mind
She was my reason now. For everything.
She was still too busy into her dinner task and her off-key singing to notice me. The onions were starting to sizzle in the pan, and she was doing this adorably sexy little dance with the flipper in her hand. It still wasn't a spatula. Flippers flipped burgers, too. Just like they did pancakes.
I moved slowly, quietly, and pressed myself against her, my hands landing on her hips, swaying with the music, fingers inching forward to rest on her stomach. My chin fit perfectly resting on her shoulder. I mouthed over her neck before peppering kisses there, breathing out in a way only she could elicit.
"You'd look better in my shirt," I whispered over her neck.
She sighed happily, leaning back against my shoulder, like she'd melt right into me.
"I had it on before…" she moaned as I trailed my tongue down her shoulder, and reached around her to turn off the burner. The spatula fell to the floor, but I didn't really care where it was at the moment, or what the fuck it was called.
"We should take this off then…" I stopped for a second. "Is Aidan here?" It was actually really fucking annoying to even have to worry about that.
She shook her head. "No. Would it matter if he was?"
"No," I said quickly, closing my mouth over hers. "Not really."
Tyler would be home soon. I figured I should start dinner in case things didn't go well at the school and comfort food was necessary. That was basically the deciding factor for what we were having. He liked my burgers for some reason. It wasn't like you could really ruin a burger, but he said they tasted better. Little did he know that I was making these bacon cheeseburgers just in case much comfort was needed. I never really liked teachers; it didn't matter where they were from. College teachers were still teachers. I hoped they'd cut him some slack. He left really nervous, which wasn't really like him at all.
So I cranked up some tunes and got started on chopping onions and was pretty much in my food-groove when he was suddenly just there, all pressing himself into my back and hands over my stomach. I loved the instant warmth that flooded everywhere when he did that. And apparently whichever way things had gone, food wasn't the first thing on his mind.
Sex first and food second was still a damn good plan in my book. His hands drifted to cup my tits and if I couldn't tell by the way his hips shoved into me while he pulled me back into him, the way he moaned, "The no bra makes up for the lack of my shirt," kinda tipped me off to his happiness about that.
"Noted." I pretty much grunted out the word. It all felt too good, and I could feel him hard behind me.
His hands dropped suddenly to the hem of my shirt, and it was ridiculous how easily I lost it, yanked hurriedly over my head. He tugged at the button on my shorts, rough but the eagerness made it somehow both completely sexy while still adorable. Like he couldn't get me out of these clothes fast enough. My shorts were on the floor seconds later, underwear with them.
I anticipated him fucking me right there in front of the stove, but he pulled me back again to rest against him, and despite the rapid way I lost all the clothes, he seemed momentarily content just to be touching me again, caressing my sides, my nipples, while his lips and tongue lapped over every bit of my neck and shoulders he could reach. I finally reached back and grabbed onto his shorts because a girl needs something to ground her when there was that much attention. I sort of felt like I would just spiral out of his grasp and wind up a mess on the floor. I was so wet, and I knew he knew that.
One of his hands slowly pried my grip away from the material of his shorts, and I thought at first he was just giving me something else to hold onto…until the hand kept moving mine and it was right over my pussy.
Sensual, have you met Tyler?
My eyes closed almost immediately, which actually only made it better. His fingers, my fingers—our fingers traced over my outer lips, his thumb rubbing over my clit, and had he not been holding me up, I would have dropped to the floor right there.
He spread me open and pushed both of our fingers inside, exploring me together. It felt like a completely new experience—like I'd never felt inside myself before—rediscovering it with him. His fingers were so much bigger than mine and I wanted to follow them wherever they were pushing us.
I felt like my breathing was tied to where we went—where my breath would hitch, where I would grunt and moan and bite my lip to keep from completely shouting out.
"Don't. Let me hear it. I want to know it feels good."
Well he didn't really have to tell me twice.
He moved back to trace my opening before pressing us inside again, curling our fingers, and I really couldn't stop from panting around the grunted shouts.
His mouth was right next to my ear, a whisper that just made me shudder. "Deeper?"
Anyone else, I would have been completely embarrassed by the incredibly needy way I said, "Yes."
Pushing us deeper, curling our fingers, the heel of his hand perfectly over my clit while he was grinding into me from behind. Pull out—trace, rub, dip inside, stroke inside, the wetness coating us, leaking all over my thighs.
"Is that good?"
"You like it?"
It was something about the way he said it (or the fact that we'd just fingered me together); half whisper, his voice so deep and at that raspy point of totally aroused. At which point I basically came all over our fingers and he was both totally amused and more than a tiny bit self-satisfied. I mean he knew I could do the same thing to him, so it wasn't a power thing. We just liked that we could get each other off. If that wasn't enough, he decided it was a good idea if we both tasted each other's fingers. I watched as he brought my hand up to his mouth and his up to mine, and I'm not sure which was more suggestive or stimulating. Feeling his tongue lap at my fingers and suck me off of them was amazing, his teeth scraping gently along the skin. Sucking the taste of myself off of his fingers though, might have edged out as the winner. Tasting myself in his kiss was always extraordinary; tasting myself after his hand had literally just been inside me was sort of in a class by itself.
I kinda thought we'd fuck right here. I could just bend over the counter and he could slide right in from behind, but he turned me and I squealed when he lifted me, yet my legs curled around him naturally and I basically climbed him like a fucking tree, my arms going around his neck.
He turned towards the table and apparently we weren't making it to the bed.
He shoved the shit that littered the table to the floor, plastic glasses bouncing hollowly against the linoleum, random silverware making that metallic pinging noise, and eased me back onto the surface, his mouth meeting mine in a sloppy kind of kiss. It was probably not a good idea to test the limits of this table. It was flimsy as shit and the only other time we'd fucked here I hadn't had my entire weight on it. I had no idea if it would even hold, but we were gonna test that. I giggled when my shoulder hit something. "Ow. Fuck. Fork, Tyler. Fork."
He lifted me just enough to snatch it and literally threw the fork into the living room. He smiled at me in this incredibly proud way, like he defeated the fork or something. The second he was back over me, I started pulling his shirt from the bottom up, hauling it over his head and had another giggle fit when it got stuck and he was momentarily very frustrated.
You'd think he was in a hurry or something.
He took care of his shorts, and the only reason I knew that was because I heard them hit the floor. I didn't really have time to care because his mouth was between my legs a second later and there's just something completely erotic about being tongue-fucked on your kitchen table. I couldn't hold my legs up; they just dangled uselessly while he made a complete meal of eating me out. I loved that he could make me come without even touching me, and he seemed determined to knock out all of those today. Come by touching, check. Come without touching, check, check.
Fingers were sort of unnecessary then. I just wanted him in me. That was all. I got out exactly, "Tyler—" before he was pushing inside, the rest lost in the feeling of fullness.
He started out really close to me, deep and slow and completely not like the hurriedness of the beginning. Maybe it was his transition period, or his way of apologizing for not making this slower. I don't fucking know. All I did know was that I loved the feeling of his upper bodyweight pressing into me, and I didn't really care because hurried did have its advantages. He kissed me again, slowly moving down to mouth over my chest, his fingers trailing over my tits again, my nipples so fucking sensitive.
Eventually he backed up, standing instead of leaning over me. I don't know why that was fuck-all sexier. Maybe it was the way that he was holding my legs back or up, or whatever position he decided they needed to be in to keep me open for him. Maybe it was that my vantage point basically left me to see everything from his waist up, and the way his body just kept slapping into mine, not to mention the sounds of our skin meeting that really had no place in the kitchen, but seemed pointless anywhere else at the moment. Or the way he pushed in and held himself there, pulling my legs back into him and holding me there, too to thrust deeper. Or that I could see all the muscles in his chest and his arms and his stomach and I could watch his hands flex and literally could probably come on nothing else and be damn happy with it. Or that I could feel his thighs and the power behind his hips and couldn't really see it. Or the feeling of his quick thrusts, spreading me wider and pushing him deeper and I couldn't get enough of any of it.
I'd never get enough of this, of Tyler.
His eyes kept moving between watching us, watching himself slide in and out of me, and watching me, his hands on a constant loop of trailing over my skin, possessive and gentle and completely him, dipping to kiss me in between. I had a passing thought of how the table would be completely covered in us by the time we were done here.
The table seemed completely rickety and inadequate to deal with the amount of motion that was going on here. If I wouldn't have been splayed out all over it with Tyler pushing into me, I suppose I would have been more worried about the way it was literally banging into the divider wall between the living room and the kitchen. He hooked my legs around him and leaned forward again, his thrusts harder, faster, more forceful, and a relentless pace that I never wanted to stop, pushing us both so close.
Sometimes I wanted to tell him things when we were this intense. When everything was powerful and concentrated and the love I felt for him was literally igniting someplace bottomless inside me. But words never seemed to have the same meaning when speaking was unnecessary. I could feel everything he wanted to say.
His name came tumbling out while the table creaked like it was breaking with us. The full-body flare of release washed over me, mixed with that sense of completeness that had nothing to do with the orgasm itself.
His head thumped against the table for a second, our breathing trying to outpace each other, before he nuzzled his face against mine and sluggishly tracked his mouth back, restarting the slowest, most languidly happy kind of kissing. He was still thrusting lazily, which just meant there'd be more of a mess all over the table and, ya know, neither of us really gave a shit about that. Tables were made to be cleaned.
"I think the table is fucked, baby."
"Eh, we'll get a new one. A stronger one."
I laughed softly, cupping his cheek, and ran my thumb over his lips. "I love you."
"I wanna live with you."
I smiled up at him, 'cause he was a sappy dope after orgasm. "Yeah, me too."
His breathing was still fast. He shook his head. "No, I mean I think we should live together."
I laughed softly. Orgasm-brain. "Yeah, ok."
He just smiled some more, and kissed me again, but there was a sort of unclear look of… I couldn't place it really. We basically just went back to making out on the table, feeling each other up, and kissing like teenagers, but he seemed really happy, so I didn't bring it up again.
Getting dressed again was sort of amusing. I wasn't sure we'd ever really redressed in the kitchen before. His was way faster than mine—although I think he spent a fair amount of that time appreciating the way I shimmied my thong back on and had to adjust it before and after I pulled the shorts up.
He sighed in this really pathetic way.
"You're still not wearing my shirt."
"Well you stole it like an asshole before I could grab it. I had to put on this tank top."
"Coulda made the burgers topless. Just sayin. The underwear were pointless, too. You'll just lose them again soon."
"Always so confident."
He smiled at me smugly. It was truth anyway.
"So tell me about school while I attempt dinner for the second time."
"Cooking is sexy. Can you blame me?"
I smiled at him over my shoulder. "I'm making bacon cheeseburgers."
"You looking to get laid again? 'Cause I could turn the burner off again."
"Behave for five minutes or so. C'mon, tell me about school. What happened?"
He blew out a breath. I wasn't sure that was a good start or not. "Well…basically I've squandered four years. And I have nothing to show for it. That's the short version. None of the audit credits will transfer, so I basically get to start over."
I turned and hugged him before sitting on his lap. "I'm sorry, Tyler."
"No, it's ok. It's my own fault. And I have to deal with that. The advisor they assigned to me was pretty nice about it. I was honest, so I guess there wasn't much for her to say. She got me into one of her classes and the regular liberal arts freshman courses."
"Is that good?"
"They're 'Foundation' courses. Like surveys of topics. No, I think I'll hate them. But I'll do it. I have to. So I'll suck it up and probably complain to you every day like a whiny child. I hope you have a large store of patience."
"For you, yes. I'll make it better. And there's always bacon."
"Fuck the bacon if there's you."
He shrugged. "Man's gotta have priorities… That's not to say I'll turn down the bacon."
"I was thinking maybe you'd want to come with me tomorrow to get my books. I could show you around the campus—all the places I screwed off not getting grades and all that. And where I'll be slaving away now. We can have lunch there."
"Sure, that'd be cool."
He nodded, happy that I agreed.
"Can you set the table again? You made kind of a mess," I teased.
He smiled, like it was more a thing of pride. "Absolutely."
He set tables like a guy—a thoughtful guy; not the rushed kind that just threw it all on the table—that was more for the brushing it off. It looked like it took a serious amount of concentration. Or like I was going to test him on the spoons being on the correct side or something—it was actually pretty cute.
He looked down at the table when he was done, and his brow was all furrowed. "Hmm."
He glanced at me and then had one of those 'Oh!' looks and took off for the living room, coming back proudly with a fork. "Knew something was missing."
"You are such a geek."
"I'm going to be even more of a geek now."
"Why is that? 'Cause you're going to pay attention in class now?"
"Well, I might concentrate sometimes. But, no, I was sort of already salivating at the idea of required reading."
"And here I thought it was my burgers."
He brushed me off. "Pffft, you make me salivate for a lot less than that."
"I think that was a compliment, so I'm going to take it as one."
"It was totally a compliment. I haven't had to read anything in a long time. I think it'll be kind of nice."
I set a plate down in front of him. "I'm sorry our sex life has prevented your reading."
He pulled me into his lap. "My reading will not impede on our sex life. But I'm still geeking out about it a little."
"Whatever gets you off, honey."
So…perhaps I hadn't planned the whole 'asking her to live with me' thing very well. Kind of like when I originally just blurted that I loved her during sex; I had a penchant for those kinds of really important things just tumbling out whenever my emotions got the best of me.
But I was totally serious. And I don't think she really knew that. I think she thought that I was just post-coital and all love-stoned, but I really meant it.
She rolled for me easily, her legs even rising, knees bent, like she was ready to have sex with me… Given that I did wake her up that way fairly often, it was sort of just awesome that she did it, but I really wanted conversation. I sounded like such a girl.
She "Mmmm-ed" at me sleepily, her hands already reaching for me.
"I really was serious."
"What?" She was still groggy, but blinking at me slowly. "What?" she said again.
"I was serious."
"I want us to live together."
"Wait, what?" she was awake now, the sleepiness giving way to something much more coherent.
"I don't wanna worry about Aidan being home anymore. Or anyone else in our apartment. I want to just live with you. I want us to live together. Our own place."
"Yes, really. I want that with you. I think we're ready. What do you think?" I realized that was probably a horrible position to put her in on the spot. Especially if she didn't think she was ready for that. I mean, we lived together. That was already true. But it was a big step to really make that kind of commitment to a place together versus she lived here in my place. "You don't have to answer right now."
"No, I mean…yes."
I cocked my head at her. "Yes?"
She laughed at me. "Really yes, Tyler."
Ecstatic—was the only word I could think of at the moment. And love. Always love.
And she'd been totally ready to have sex with me—it seemed silly not to capitalize on that in celebration now.
So to sum up the night, I was going back to school, I had an awesome girl that loved me and we were totally moving in together, and as always sex with her was as awesome as she was, and the afterglow seemed even more satisfactory currently.
"Should we talk about our apartment?"
She giggled. "Are you a little excited about this?"
She nodded, smiling at me. "I am."
"Ok! Then we should obviously talk about our apartment. What should our apartment be like?"
"Um. What do you mean? Like besides four walls?"
I scoffed. "You have to use your imagination. If you could have anything, what would you pick? Then we can see if the places we look at have those things."
"I don't think I've ever thought of that before really."
"Well now you can start!"
"I don't want a tiny shower," she blurted.
"I kinda loved your tiny shower, but I agree. We'll look for a bigger shower."
"Aidan can keep your couch."
I laughed. "Yes, he can keep that. What do you want to keep from your apartment?"
"All of my furniture is shit, and it doesn't match. I don't need to keep it."
"I liked your bed."
She blinked at me. "And that's why we've slept in yours for months?"
"Well that's only because we spent most of the time here and my bed was already here."
"It's not even really a bed. It has no frame. Yours has a frame and I remember it being really comfortable. I don't think I would have slept well in it otherwise." I didn't have to tell her the night in particular I was thinking about.
She touched my cheek. "Ok, maybe."
"We could get a new bed."
"No. We have two perfectly good beds."
"What? Why can't we buy a new bed?"
"I don't think we should buy all new stuff. You have plenty of stuff and we can use some of mine; it's just not matching and shit."
I laughed. "Why do you think I made amends with my father? I mean he's totally paying for this."
She laughed again, but this one was one of those sarcastic, humorless laughs. "Yeah, or not…" She paused, looking at me. "How long have you been thinking about this?"
I looked down, away from her eyes. "Uh, a while," I said quietly, shyly.
"Did you really make up with your dad for this?"
"No. I mean, that helps, but, no. I didn't really go in to see him with any of that in mind. I was anticipating a fight, honestly. But when he was making an effort with Caroline, and the pictures and stuff…it was just sort of a perk."
"A perk, huh?"
"I asked him about it. I asked him for help."
"You asked your dad for help?"
"Yeah. With going back to school and moving in with you."
"So you asked me to move in with you with your dad first?"
She was teasing me, and I kissed her instead of giving her shit about it. "I didn't really ask him that part. I told him we were moving in together. And then I asked him for help."
"There's that confidence again. What if I would have said no?"
I laughed. "Then I guess I'd be really bummed right now. But you would have still had sex with me, right?"
"Out of pity, of course."
"Right, right. So then I'd get over the crushing feeling."
"Did you think I'd say no?"
"I dunno. No, not really. Maybe. I didn't know if you were ready or not. I thought about asking Doug for permission actually, but that seemed a little too formal, and he was already threatening to do bodily harm. I'll save that for his next visit. Once we're already living together. You can tell him."
"I'm gonna have to tell Jordan. You'll have to tell Aidan, too."
I wasn't really sure how to do this. I'd never actually moved out on a friend before. Or moved out and told someone I was doing it. I was sort of just one of those leave one morning people. This was different for so many reasons. I was sticking her with the whole amount of rent, and I really had been gone for a long time already.
"I feel like I've been a horrible friend."
"Yeah, you totally have been," she dead-panned, smirking at me.
"No, but seriously."
"Yeah, what happened to 'chicks over dicks' and all that?"
She was teasing me but I still felt bad. "I really like this dick."
She waved at me, sighing. "I know, I know. Fuck god."
"I like more than his dick."
She sighed again, more dramatically. "I know."
"I love him, Jordan."
She morphed into a full-blown smile. I wasn't really expecting that. I'm not sure what I expected. Of course, I hadn't actually told her the part about me moving out. Maybe the smile would fall then.
"That's great, Allison. And about time, too—the poor bastard's loved you forever, I think."
Well. Not what I expected, either.
"He's been in love with you for months."
"How the fuck do you know that?"
"Because he told me."
"When did he tell you?"
"At the hospital that night. When he broke his hand."
It all kind of clicked into place at once. "That's why you were ok with him after that!"
She shrugged. "I guess. We had a good talk. And he was sincere when he told me. He didn't have to tell me that. I guess that made me realize he was really serious and invested."
"Yeah, he's totally invested." I paused, and then added. "We're getting married."
That made her face fall. "Wait, what?"
"Yeah. I mean, we figured that was best for the baby."
Her face was so alarmed now. "What!? You're pregnant?"
Her near stroke was kind of amusing, and I have to admit, I was selling this really fucking well. I nodded for a second. "Yeah…" then figured I should probably not leave her there. "No, actually we're just moving in together, but I was trying that whole give bad news with worse news thing you taught me."
She sat down, her hand on her chest. "Jesus Fucking Christ. Give me a heart attack, why don'tcha?"
I laughed. "Your face was hilarious."
"Oh, I'm sure."
"You were, like, horrified."
"Well! You just told me you loved him! Stranger things have happened!"
"We're much more careful than that."
"I've not gone off the deep end and decided parenting for me at 21 is a good idea. You can chill."
She pointed her finger at me. "If he asks you to marry him, your answer is 'No.' A staunch 'No.' For years. Decades maybe."
I laughed. "We won't rush anything."
"God. Ok, so you're moving out?"
"Doesn't seem so bad now, right?"
"Well you haven't been here much anyway."
"I know. And I'm sorry about that. I also want to apologize for leaving you with all the rent."
"No, no, I mean, I figured it was coming. It's not practical for you to keep a place here, too. I get it. It's fine. I'm really happy for you. Once my heart rate slows to something more normal, I might even hug you, but until then I still kind of want to slap you, so keep your distance."
"I can do that."
"Are you gonna be ok?"
"Of course. I'm sure there's some girl at the club that needs a place. Some young girl that might need socialization and a GED."
"You do have a habit of picking them up. Just stay in New York. Don't go moving on me anytime."
"Well, I'll still see you at work."
"Are you gonna do an apartment-warming or something?"
"Like a party for your new place."
"Oh. I dunno. We haven't really talked about that."
"Have you picked a place?"
"No, we kind of just decided. We haven't really looked at any yet. But I wanted to be up front so it wasn't a shock or anything."
"Yeah, there was no shock today."
I laughed. "I'm so proud of myself."
"You should be. For lots of things."
She was complimenting me. And I was gonna take it. "Thank you."
"Hey," I said back. I don't know what I was expecting really. Sulking perhaps? Pouting? Weeping? I dunno. This wasn't it.
Instead of any of that, Aidan was just chill, and they were sitting on the couch, playing a fucking video game. Had he not told him? That had been the plan—split up and tell them both.
I sat on the arm of the couch next to where Tyler was sitting and nudged him since both of them were basically ignoring me. He did one of those sideways glances while not really giving me his full attention.
"Well?" I whispered.
I nodded in Aidan's direction.
I got another distracted glance. "Huh?"
I let my eyebrows rise and made a more dramatic nod towards Aidan before giving Tyler the equivalent of Well!? again without saying it again.
Blank. Completely blank. Boys were so thick.
"How did it go?" I asked; all clipped and with a fair amount of duh mixed in.
"The fuck are you talking about?"
I smacked his shoulder.
At least now I had his full attention. I mouthed The moving.
He rolled his eyes and turned back to the screen. "Jesus. We're fine. It's cool."
"What the fuck does 'cool' mean?"
He paused the game, and gave me his patient look. "It means this is how the conversation went: 'Dude, I'm moving out.' 'You're moving out?' 'Yeah, Allison and I are getting our own place. You're gonna have to find someplace else to stay unless you want the full rent here.' 'Where is Jordan living?' 'Fuck if I know. Why?' 'We could rent the place together.' And then we started playing this game. So he thinks we're, like, trading places or some shit."
Aidan grinned at me. "I will need a roommate. I'm very clean."
I just stared at him.
"I'm a fucking slob but I can be better."
I shook my head. "Dude, she's not moving in with you."
"She hasn't even entertained my offer!"
"Um, yeah, I don't think she really needs to."
"I'm totally taking the big room. I can share! I can't wait for you losers to leave. Think of all the peace and quiet I'll have when no one is fucking constantly."
I forced myself into the space between them on the couch and threw an arm over Aidan's shoulders. "You're totally going to miss us. I know it."
He shrugged me off. "Yeah, well don't rub it in."
"Is that a tear, or do you have dust in your eye?"
"It's just because I'm handing him his ass in this game."
"It's not like I won't know where you live and can't visit."
Neither Tyler nor I said anything.
"Right?" Aidan asked.
Tyler and I smiled and said nothing. Tyler unpaused the game.
Aidan died pretty much instantly because he was still looking at us instead of the game. "I'm not going to miss you at all."
"You died, dude." I pointed out.
"I'll make sure you have visiting hours," Tyler added. "But I can't promise there won't be constant fucking."
"My next roommate is going to be so much better than you," Aidan mumbled.
Tyler starting school was interesting. It was both amusing and kind of awesome to see him throw himself into something so seriously. It was nice to see a different side of Tyler, too. Academic Tyler was kind of intense in a determined way that shouldn't have been surprising to me at all given his fondness of projects like finding my favorites and experiencing shit. He could be kind of a moody fucker, too. Moody in a frustrated way that may have had to do with the fact that spending time together took some hits. It seemed to me that college was about two things—reading way too much useless shit and then puking it back out in either a paper of some sort or a test—and I always thought tests were stupid. Tyler seemed just as frustrated by the actual volume of shit he was required to read and then he'd get even more upset when what he read wasn't directly related to shit they were studying.
School and Tyler meant serious sacrifices on my part, too. I had to be responsible and shit like that just because he needed to study. Usually if I was in the bedroom with him, I wasn't being responsible, so I tried to let him get as much done before crashing the bedroom or else things kinda didn't get done then. Or rather, things got done, just not in his school-sense.
So it was while I was trying to be really responsible and let him finish writing another endless paper that I found an apartment listing that I thought we needed to check out. And I kinda couldn't wait because it sounded really cool.
I grabbed the paper and poked my head in the bedroom. He had shit sprawled all over the bed and a pen stuck in his mouth, and he kinda really needed a desk, I think. Our new apartment needed a desk. He had that little line in between his eyes that meant he was concentrating really hard on something. I almost didn't say anything, and just went back into the kitchen, but this was exciting and he'd just have to go back to concentrating later.
So I basically threw the door open and bounded into the room, jumping on the bed next to him and bouncing half of his shit to the floor. He didn't try to stop any of it, so it must not have been that important.
"I don't mean to interrupt you but I totally think we need to check out this apartment."
He took the pen out of his mouth and chucked it on the stack of papers. "Yeah?"
He looked tired. Maybe the break would help. "Definitely." I handed him the paper. "Check out the one I circled."
Available for immediate move-in: luxurious one-bedroom apartment just cleaned and updated. Bedroom can easily accommodate a queen-sized bed as well as other furniture. This building has been in my family for years and features newly refinished wood and tile floors, updated kitchen with appliances, and an interior that's modern and homey. The basement has laundry and storage for each tenant. It doesn't get much better than rent including all utilities. Sorry no pets!
"Aww, well Aidan can't visit—it says no pets."
"It sounds great. We should check it out."
"Whatcha doin now?"
He sighed and dropped the book he was still holding onto the floor. "I'm checking out apartments with you."
"I don't want to distract you if you need to keep working."
"Distract me. It's horribly boring."
"Great. Let's go! You don't need an appointment."
The apartment seemed perfect in print—just what we were looking for. And I found myself more excited than I thought I would be to just check out apartments. I think it was the idea that it would be ours, or it was the fact that I had more of a say in where I was going to be living than probably ever before in my life. Usually apartments were just a matter of circumstance, location, or if they were cheap. This was the exact opposite of that. It was a place to make a home with Tyler. It was something we were deciding together. I really loved that.
I wasn't sure I was completely ok with the idea of his father paying for a large portion of it, but I also realistically knew it wasn't going to be possible without some type of help—especially if Tyler was supposed to be focusing on school.
"Is this apartment above a pizza place?"
"Looks that way."
"Guess they didn't advertise that part."
"That seems like it would be really awesome."
"The smell doesn't seem so awesome."
"It's probably baked into the walls at this point."
"That's probably strike number one."
The realtor was overly-nice and way too pushy, but rushed all the same. And totally knew that the place smelled liked it was baked in grease daily. He kept trying to talk to Tyler as though that would make his case better, or Tyler would understand how pizza-smell was really awesome 24/7.
Both Tyler and I knew we were not taking this apartment, and I think the dude knew it, too, but that didn't stop him from forcing us to wait through his entire pitch.
"Why the fuck did he keep trying to sell me on the smell of pizza night and day?"
I smiled. "Because you look like the kind of guy that would enjoy that?"
"Ok, so let's go with that premise—if he then thought that I was the one to sell it on, why didn't he try to sell it to you, too. Wouldn't you be the tougher sell in this scenario?"
"Maybe he was just an asshole who thought women have no say."
"It was ugly, too."
"It was pretty hideous."
"The floor was gross. Like the grease just leaks up through the floors."
"What should we do now?"
I pulled on his hand until I was at the curb and sat down. He stood there for a second before I pulled some more and he finally joined me.
"Are we giving up hope already? Taking to a life on the curb?"
"I think I know where we can get some refrigerator boxes. We can have a designer box-apartment."
"I hear the roofs leak on those types of domiciles."
"Pfffft, that's a myth. Cardboard is very absorbent and yet water rolls right off. Besides my apartment with Jordan totally leaked and we just shoved a bucket under the leak."
"Well then I have nothing to be concerned about. I'm glad you have it all figured out."
"Stick with me, you'll be ok." I patted his leg absently, digging for the paper. "Now be quiet while I find the other two I looked at in here."
"And here I thought this was going to be a fast trip."
I pinched him. "Behave. Or I'll make you get your own room or sleep on the couch."
He smirked, but was quiet while I looked over the other listings I wanted to check out.
"Read this to me."
He took the paper wordlessly, and I think he thought it had difficult words or something, and I both loved that he did it without question and without judgment if that's what this was really about.
"One bedroom, utilities included, extremely comfu." He stopped. "Comfu?"
I burst out laughing, and his face went from serious to goofy smile instantly. "What the fuck is 'comfu' exactly?"
"That's why I wanted you to read it out loud."
"When we get there, I'm going to ask them what the definition of comfu is, and if it's like a new level of comfortable that I do not understand. Maybe it's Bohemian."
"That's it, I bet. It's Bohemian comfort."
"Not sure where the 'u' comes into play..."
"Maybe it's actually the opposite. Maybe they're secretly telling us all to fuck off. Come and F-you; Comfu."
"Maybe we should start looking online instead. Where there are actual pictures of the places and we can decide before we even leave if it's gross or ugly or whatever."
"I kind of liked the novelty of circling things in the paper, but if you want to take all the fun and surprise out of it, I guess."
He laughed. "Then keep circling comfu places in the paper, and we'll do it that way."
He leaned over and kissed my cheek, so I turned my head to meet his mouth instead the next time. "What was that for?"
"Nothing. I don't need a reason."
I smiled, and went back to the paper, leaning my head on his shoulder and sneaking my hand between his legs to hug his thigh. Pretty sure Tyler would consider that affection. And basically we just hung out on the curb that way for a while. Just 'cause.
I pulled my arm back, patting his leg before standing up. "Ok, should we keep looking? We can knock out a few more of these tonight."
"Technically I already have everything I need."
I laughed. "Wow. You are such a fucking cheese ball. Let's go."
"I meant with a roommate."
I nodded knowingly. "Sure, sure you did."
He grabbed my hand as he stood up with me. "You want sushi for dinner?"
"Aww. You do love me."
"Well I'm having pizza. I've got a taste for it now that I feel like it's seeped into my clothes from that apartment."
I squeezed his hand.
"But yes, of course I love you."
"I love you, too. Cheese ball and all."
The other apartment I wanted to check out was vaguely in the direction we were heading, but I didn't really even care. We'd find one.
There was a little girl running down the sidewalk after what looked like her older brother, yelling and screaming; the brownstones were all the same brick color the entire length of this block. Rap music bellowed loudly from a car making its way down the street. A cab breezed past honking consistently. Even in this section of the city, noise was all around us. Walking hand in hand with Tyler—I liked being part of the noise. I liked being part of this city. It felt like my city now.
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