One Kiss – A Short Story
She wonders if she ignores it if it will go away. She knows better than that though. As much as she considers the warm confines of her bed her safe haven, it's not going to save her from this. But it still doesn't make her want to leave it any more.
She never planned to kiss him. Even if she had thought about it several times before, she absolutely did not plan to do it last night. Especially not with him being vulnerable and, well, possibly tipsy. And even if it felt so incredibly right to her, like their lips were meant only for each other, she's fairly certain that it didn't feel that way to him. Not with the way he jerked away from her when he realized it was her lips on his and not his girlfriends and headed straight to his bedroom without so much as another word.
She knows she has to apologize. After all, he is her best friend and her roommate and she certainly doesn't want to lose him as either. But she knows that actually facing him after last night isn't going to be easy, especially because her heart teeters on such a dangerous edge with him already. She's already suffered through one embarrassing rejection. Another one is just on the other side of her bedroom door.
But ignoring it isn't an option. And ignoring him, well it's never been an option.
She can hear him in the kitchen. Over the past two years, she's become an expert on telling who is up and moving around in the apartment without seeing them. Blaine is quiet and sometimes you can't even tell there is someone there. Kurt is well, Kurt, and therefore sings his way through buttering his toast and just about any other task he is doing. And Noah, he's just clumsy and loud. The fact that she's heard the refrigerator door open at least three times in the past half hour and close with a loud thud is an obvious sign of Noah Puckerman. She already knows though that he is going to get quiet the second he sees her and she already hates the feeling it's going to bring.
She's unsure when she fell in love with him. It just feels like it has been an eternity. Once she realized those feelings were there, she also realized they had been hiding inside of her for a very long time. But it didn't matter because, by then, Noah had found his footing in the city and was busy enjoying what seemed to be a neverending pool of models and actresses to date. Then he found Heidi, the gorgeous model straight off the bus from Iowa and she's been around ever since. Sure, he's her best friend, but she knows she will never be able to compete with the likes of Heidi or anyone else whose graced his arm here.
She knows it is time for her to face the music so she reluctantly throws her comforter back and slides out of the bed. She puts on her robe before looking at her reflection in the mirror. Her hair is disheveled; no doubt after a night of tossing and turning and her face looks a little ashen. She runs her fingers through her hair for a few seconds before giving up and walking away. It's not like it's going to matter anyway. Regardless what she does, she will never look as perfect and put together as Noah's beautiful girlfriend. The only thing that is going to be radiating from her face is the embarrassment that is already starting to show.
She tightens the belt on her robe before she takes a deep breath and opens her bedroom door. His eyes find her as soon as she does and he keeps them there briefly before turning his attention back to the bowl of cereal in front of him. She ignores the feeling in the pit of her stomach and moves to the counter to pour a cup of coffee. When her back is to him, she can feel his eyes back on her but they are gone when she turns around.
"Where are Kurt and Blaine," she says casually, somehow hoping that they are somewhere near and she can maybe delay this conversation.
"Breakfast date." He doesn't even move and it makes her more nervous than ever. She's pretty sure she'd rather be standing naked (ok maybe not naked) in front of 10,000 Broadway critics than suffering through the silence she is right now.
She takes a look at the chairs surrounding the table he is at and makes a quick mental decision to sit in the one farthest from him. He raises his eyes only briefly as she does and she takes a nervous gulp of the coffee in her hands and then reaches across the table to grab a banana from the bowl of fruit in the middle. For a moment, she considers ignoring the whole debacle, somewhat like he apparently is, but she knows she's already had this conversation with herself and she can't leave the giant elephant in the room. She misses Noah already and it's only been a few uncomfortable hours. Having this awkward silence continue is not an option for her.
She clears her throat and waits for him to reluctantly bring his eyes to her. "So will an apology be sufficient or must I grovel?"
He cocks an eyebrow. "What are you talking about, Rach?"
Clearly, he is very intent on ignoring the situation and it actually hurts her a little. While she knows she cannot compare to his lovely Heidi in the kissing department, she did not think that she was so average that it would not even register on his radar. She was pretty sure he was delighted in her skills back in high school.
Shaking her head, she shuffles the thoughts away and returns to her original intent. "Noah, I will not let this sleeping dog lie. I very obviously made a mistake last night. I never should have kissed you. And I apologize."
She sees his jaw lock as he finally brings his solemn gaze to hers. He keeps it there for a few seconds before cocking his head to the side. "Why did you kiss me?"
While she had asked herself that same question many times over the course of the night, she did not expect it to come from him. She opens her mouth to respond a couple of times but words do not materialize. So finally she runs a hand through her long tresses and lets out an exasperated breath. "I don't know, Noah. I was enjoying a lovely evening with a friend and perhaps had one too many glasses of wine and then there was this moment . . ." Her voice trails off with these words and she lowers her eyes from him.
"What moment?" She hears the slight break in his voice but ignores it.
"Noah . . ."
"What moment, Rachel?"
She slowly pulls her eyes back to him and takes a deep breath. "I don't know, Noah. We're just sitting there laughing and reminiscing about high school and taking that road trip after senior year and how much fun it was and then you look at me and it's suddenly all quiet and I thought I saw something . . . and the only thing I could think to do was kiss you. And obviously I was wrong and regardless, it was a very stupid move. You are my best friend. You have a girlfriend. And I was caught up in a nonexistent moment. I sincerely apologize."
Her nervousness grows when he doesn't say anything, he just watches her from across the table. The only thing she knows to do is ramble on. "Noah, I, in no way, intended to trample on your relationship with Heidi. She is a beautiful woman who is very driven and confident. I can respect that. So please do not let my indiscretion come between you. It was clearly my fault and it never should have happened. So I think it is best if we just try to erase last night from our memories. Poof, it never happened."
And then he laughs, heartily laughs and she feels so embarrassed that she just wants to run back into the safety of her bed and stay there for the rest of her life. "Like that is ever gonna happen, Rachel." That doesn't help.
"Sure it can," she says as she shakes her head vehemently, "we can just rewind to yesterday morning when we were just friends and forget that kiss ever happened. Like our own little do over."
"Can you really forget it," he asks, suddenly serious, and she knows that he is reading her like a book. Like he always does.
"Well . . . . yes, you know I am perfectly capable of doing anything I put my mind to." She knows that is a lie but she won't tell him that.
She really just wants to go back to bed now. To wrap herself tightly in her blanket and forget the world for at least a little while. She feels she deserves it with all the embarrassment she has endured. But she figures there is more to come. Especially when she sees Noah lean back in his chair and cross his arms on his chest.
"You know, you're kinda wrong about Heidi. She's not nearly as confident as you'd think. Well, she is in many areas but there is one thing she is very unsure about."
She's clearly not ready for Noah's Heidi speech but she knows that she made the bed and now must lie in it. She clears her throat and tilts her head to the side. "I can't imagine what that would be."
"You," he says clearly and she feels the shock echo through her body. "Well, more specifically, your relationship with me. She's always been kinda jealous of you, of us. I don't know how many times I've had to tell her we're friends and that's it. But she just keeps saying that she feels like there is something more and that she sees the way you look at me."
His eyes lock on hers when he finishes and she struggles to find her voice or her strength. She clears her throat after a few moments. "You should tell your girlfriend she has nothing to worry about."
"What if she does have something to worry about?"
She shakes her head, trying to ward off her apparent transparency, "Noah, I said it was a mistake. I . ."
"It wasn't a mistake. There was a moment. A cosmic, epic movie, sparks flying, I want nothing more than to kiss you moment. And there has been a bunch of other moments like that between us before. We can ignore it all we want or swear that it was a mistake but it doesn't change the fact that it happened and honestly, both of us wanted it to happen. Cause I sure as hell have been wanting to kiss you for, like, years now Rachel. So yes, Heidi does have something to worry about."
She tugs her eyes away from his, trying to process the words that he has sent soaring through her heart. Ones she has waited so long to hear that now that she is hearing them, it is extremely difficult for her to process. She has been so prepared to take the fall for making a mistake that she never once thought that he might say something like this.
Her mind roams back to the night before. "But you pulled away. You left me."
"At the risk of sounding like Cocktail Tom Cruise, I got spooked. It's kinda hard to deal with something happening that you had resolved yourself to believing never would. So when you kissed me, I didn't have a clue what to do. I wanted it so bad and didn't know where to take it. So I had to take off and process it all." He throws his head back, moving his hands to place behind it. "Do you know how many times I found myself outside of your door last night? How many times I wanted to knock and when you answered, just kiss the breath out of you. Cause I knew you were in there beating yourself up and I knew you were fighting the exact same feelings I was. But then Kurt comes in and finds me outside your door like some lost puppy and he sits me down and tells me that I needed to make sure I got things right with you, that I didn't go barging in there without being fully ready to tell you exactly how I feel."
"How do you feel?" Her voice is barely a whisper and she hates how she sounds. Like she is scared of what he is going to say.
He gets up then, walking around the table to take a seat directly beside of her. He positions his body to the side and then slides his hand into hers, their intertwined fingers now resting in her lap.
"Heidi isn't just jealous of the way you look at me, she's jealous of the way I look at you. Because you're so much more than my best friend. You're the only woman that comes to my mind when I think about getting married. The only one who I can ever imagine having little Puckerman's with. Hell, you've been the only one for me since our sophomore year of high school, Rach. But I kept thinking God was playing some lame joke on us and keeping us apart but I realized last night that the only thing keeping us apart is us and the fact that we are both so terrified of our feelings and terrified of those three little words. But I'm not terrified anymore." He squeezes her hand tightly. "That kiss, it woke me up. There is no one else who has ever made me feel the way you do. And I'm certain no one ever will. I love you, Rachel."
She can feel the tears start to trickle down her cheeks but he quickly moves his hands to cradle her face and uses his thumbs to wipe them away. "I'm a mess, Noah." She can only imagine how big of a wreck she looks right now with her disheveled hair and makeup free, tear stained faced. But he's still looking at her like she's the most beautiful woman he's ever seen.
He laughs, continuing to wipe the wetness from her face, "You're gorgeous."
Tears spring even faster when she starts to laugh with him. "I lied to you, I'm not sorry about kissing you. There's no way I could ever forget it. I was just telling you what I thought you wanted to hear."
He shakes his head as he rests his forehead against hers. "Not what I wanted to hear. You know what I want to hear."
"I love you," she whispers, "I love you, I love you, I love you."
His mouth instantly finds hers and he slides his hands around her waist and tightens his arms around her, pulling her onto his lap. "I haven't brushed my teeth," she mutters in between kisses.
"I don't care."
She feels her body shiver as he trails hot kisses down her neck. Her whole body feels like she is on fire and she's fairly certain nothing has ever felt this amazing to her. She's been waiting a long time to feel like this. But as her eyes flutter shut and he continues to work on her neck, she has another thought. "Noah," she says, pushing against his shoulders until he pulls his head back and looks at her, "you still have a girlfriend."
A smile lights up his face and she again starts to feel her body heat up. "Yeah, and she's sitting right here on my lap. I broke up with Heidi this morning. You're the one I want, Rach."
Leaning forward, she places a gentle kiss on his lips. She expects him to respond and he does, but not with more breathtaking kisses but rather with a plea for her to take a shower and dress in comfortable clothes. He tells her that Kurt warned him that he must woo her before he beds her and he plans to do just that. Because he's getting this right this time, he says.
Hand in hand, he walks her through the streets of Manhattan, stopping every now and then to go into a quaint antique shop or to pick up flowers at a bustling flower shop. He orders her favorite Aztec Elixir from Vosges in Soho and places a sweet kiss on the side of her head as they feed the birds in Central Park. After dinner, she slips her arms into his and they slowly walk back to the apartment. They sleep together that night but don't have sex for another three weeks, both content with holding each other at night until the moment feels perfectly right, magical.
One year later he places a ring on her finger and promises to continue to fall more in love with her every day. It's yet another cosmic, epic movie, sparks flying, I want nothing more than to kiss you moment to add to all the others they've shared.
She knows there are many more yet to come.
When she says one day that their romance started with one kiss in that New York City apartment, he's quick to point out that it didn't. It started long before that with a kiss in her bedroom during their sophomore year of high school. That was the first of their epic moments that set them on the path to true love.