Thanks to all of you for your great support, for your favorites, alerts and reviews. And a big thank you to Haku2009 for betaing the second chapter and her overall help with this story.
A kiss is a strange thing. It can be meaningless, it can be profound, all depending on the person you're kissing. It can change everything and you can never take it back.
The night I promised Dani that I would get her the tapes I wanted to kiss her so badly, so I had to leave. I knew that kissing her would be profound for me and I didn't want to take advantage of her. I didn't want to disrespect her like that. I didn't want to disrespect myself. I didn't want to be her rebound after Matt. I didn't want to put us in an awkward situation.
I was quite proud of my self control as I left her. Resisting her must've been one of the toughest things I have done. Then Marshall died. He's dead. I still have trouble believing it. Part of me still expects him to show up at my place or that when I switch on the TV I will see him with a smug grin on his face explaining how he fooled all of us.
But yesterday they found his body. I was glad that he sent the tapes before he died. Not only because it allowed me to keep my promise to her but also because it gave me an excuse to visit her. It wasn't just because I knew that Dani would feel safe again after I'd give them to her but also because I didn't want to feel so alone. She always makes me feel less alone.
So I visited her yesterday to bring her the tapes and to be close to her. When she leaned in to kiss me this time, I couldn't resist. I needed her too much. Kissing her meant something, to me at least. I avoid thinking about the L-word, but still it lingers. Dani is not just a friend to me.
And now I'm standing in her office while she sits in her fancy chair. She stares at me like a deer caught in traffic light. That is exactly what I was afraid of. Part of me, a big part just wants to leave. I could do that. I have no official business here, so I could just turn around and walk away.
But I don't because yesterday we kissed and it was profound and now I need to deal with it.
"Why did you kiss me?" I ask.
Dani crosses her legs. "It was an emotional moment. You just lost a friend and I felt shaken." She uses her therapist-voice, the one she uses to calm people down. But her foot is teetering and her fingers are drumming on her upper arm.
"That's a great analysis of the situation, but it doesn't answer my question."
She shakes her head. "We have the worst timing."
Yes, we have. "Why did you kiss me, Dani?"
"I don't know." She hangs her head, avoiding my gaze.
"You're lying," I say. I know she is. Somehow I'm glad she can't look at me when she lies. "Why?"
When she looks at me again, her face is open. "How do you do that? Read me like that? How do you know me like that?" she asks.
"It's …" I pause. How should I answer that? I could tell her that I learned to read people, that it's part of my job, but with her that's just one part of the truth. "Your face," I say eventually. "You have a very open face."
"Then how come other people can't?"
"Maybe they don't look." I always look. When she's around I have to keep myself from staring at her.
I wonder if she knows that. Right now she looks at me as if she knew. She nibbles on her lip and her brows furrow. That's her thinking-face. All I can think about now is how badly I want to kiss her again.
She stands up and walks towards me, her arms crossed. "That night when you told me that Pittman had the tapes, why did you leave?"
"I said what I needed you to hear and you wanted me to leave."
"And yesterday?" She tilts her head. "Why did you kiss me, Nico?"
I'm thinking about the L-word now. I'm not going to tell her that. We have the worst timing. I don't think that she's over Matt yet and I don't want to be her rebound guy. I always was the second choice for Gabrielle. I think she loved me it just wasn't enough to choose me over Marshall and his money. I don't want that with Dani.
I didn't ask her why she kissed me because I'm under the illusion she might feel something for me. I came her to hear her say that she doesn't. I don't want to drag this out. I need a clean cut. I need the truth.
I must've been silent for too long, because Dani squints at me again. "You can't expect me to tell you all, when you hold everything back yourself," she says.
"You really think I do that?" I told her about Gabrielle. I told her about Marshall.
Her features soften again and she touches my arm. "Please, Nico."
I gulp. "I wanted to kiss you. I couldn't resist. If I hadn't left the other day, I would've kissed you then too," I say. Then, "Did it matter at all that it was me?"
"Of course it did." She removes her hand from my arm and runs it trough her hair. "Dammit, after I got divorced I stumbled into an affair with a hot football-trainer, now that Matt and I didn't work out I should probably be kissing a causal, sexy surfer guy with great abs. Not you." She gestures freely, her hands moving through the air and illustrating her words. She's not lying now.
It hurts more than I expected. I thought, I would be prepared. I'm not. I need to leave now. "Okay. I call you when the Hawks need you."
"You're not leaving now!" Her hand catches my arm when I try to turn around and she pulls me back to face her. She pushes her hands against my chest. "You freak me out, don't you get that? Everything always falls apart and you're the only one that's…" She doesn't finish the sentence, she just breathes.
I can feel the warmth of her hand creep trough the cotton of my blazer. "That's what?" I ask. We're so close now, staring into each other's eyes. I want to kiss her so much right now.
"That's stable," she says and shakes her head slightly. "The mysterious fixer that probably holds more secrets than I do became the only person I trust. This is insane and I don't know –"
This time she doesn't finish the sentence because I bend down and kiss her before she can. I cup her face with one hand and wrap my other arm around her waist. She sighs against my mouth when I pull her against me. She feels so good. When her tongue slips into my mouth, I lose it for a little bit. She tastes so good. She's clinging to my shoulders. The way she presses her hips against mine drives me insane. I break the kiss before I lose the last bit of my control and take her right here in her office.
"Nico …" She sounds breathless.
Our foreheads rest against each other, her body is still flushed against mine. Her eyes are still closed when I open mine again. At some point, I must've lifted her up, because now her feet are dangling over the floor. I put her down gently and and her hands move from my shoulders.
When I cup her face, she nuzzles her cheek against my hand. I run my thumb over her lips and she opens her eyes. She's so beautiful. That L-word fills my head again, but I'm not ready to say it yet.
"What do you need?" I ask quietly. "Tell me what you need and I'll do it." That I have to tell her. I need her to know I'll do whatever she asks me to. If she allows me to, I will do whatever I can to make her happy.
"Don't leave," she whispers.
So I stay and kiss her again. It's enough for now.
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