Written as a request for StillSunflower, but I appreciate all views. Please read and review!
I bit back a scream as I stormed through the door of our house, and slammed it behind me. I'd waited there for hours. My date hadn't shown. What was it about me? Was I that undateable?!
Morgan thought so. Typical Morgan just came right out with it, "Roxie, honey, guys just don't like your kind." She hadn't meant to sound so spiteful about it, but that was just her all over. I ignored her, conjuring up a few creative different ways that I could kill her in my head. It wasn't just the things she had said… she called me 'honey'. I hated that.
Sabrina was different. She didn't exactly say it, but she thought it. She would offer a solution, forever fixing people's problems, and would tell me I needed to 'tone down' my attitude. I'd snapped and asked her what was wrong with my attitude. She just stared at me with one eyebrow raised in reply.
It was ok for them. Men appreciated those two. They knew how to be around them, all girly and pretty and cute, but strong enough to stand their ground as well. I only seemed to be able to stand my ground. Something in me would just never let me be feminine.
I'd hoped I could be alone tonight, maybe steal the ice cream that Sabrina had left in the freezer and just lie on the sofa watching bad television until I fell asleep. I never wallow in self-pity ever, but this had unfortunately become a disastrous date ritual for me. It happened more often than you'd think. Still, it seemed I could never have what I wanted. Miles was sitting on the sofa, all sorts of stacks of paper and pens and textbooks dominating the coffee table.
"Uh-oh, walking hurricane."
I couldn't believe he'd just said that. I saw him roll his eyes without even looking up. Wow, what a wrong time to aggravate me. Picking up an apple from the fruit bowl, I launched it at him, missed, and scattered quite a lot of whatever he was working on. He yelled exasperatedly. Ha.
"Roxie, what the hell was that for?! I've been working so hard on this project."
"It's Friday night. What on earth are you working on a project for? I didn't think you had any projects due for months."
He wouldn't look at me as he started shuffling all the paper together again in the correct order. "Actually, I'm working on this for fun."
It was my turn to roll my eyes. I mean, I knew he was a bit strange and everything, but was he serious? At least I was putting myself out there to get stood up. Miles was a college student who never even attempted to stray from their comfort zone. He preferred to be shut in, surrounded by his stupid work. "You are such a dork."
I cringed at myself inwardly. Where did that come from? I sounded like… Morgan. Flirting? Oh no. No, no, no, no, NO. I shook my head violently, forcing it out of my system. "So, what are you working on?"
And now I was talking to him? I didn't do this. I was never interested in his work. I still wasn't interested in his work. It always made me yawn, and I hadn't ever stuck around long enough to know if it would put me to sleep if I waited and listened. I just didn't ever seem to care what Miles had to say. What on earth was going on?
He looked at me a little funny, but didn't ask me what was up. Instead, his eyes suddenly snapped, alarmingly alert, as he said, "Well, I'm attempting to calculate the realism of both chemical and physical attraction."
"What in the name of hell does that mean?!"
Why did I care what it meant? Leave, Roxie, go and slam your bedroom door and shut yourself away like you always did when Miles was home.
"I want to know if it exists. I want to know if when two people who really love each other kiss, it feels the same as when two people who hate each other kiss."
"And why do you want to know that?"
He shrugged, "It's just always something I've wondered, that's all."
And there, in the moment, I sort of admired the way he was tackling something he wanted to know. If I ever wanted to know something, I beat up the person who wouldn't tell me. I didn't ever explore it, I didn't ever challenge myself.
Roxie, this is Miles. Get a grip.
"So how are you going to do that?"
"Well I've nearly completed the experiment. I just need another girl to help me out, but I can't seem to find one anywhere…"
I was about to suggest asking Morgan – she was always hunting for new boys to kiss – until I realised he was looking at me with a silent question written all over his face. Oh no. He had to be kidding me.
"Woah, no, no, no!" I yelled, motioning 'never' with my hands. "Tell me you're joking. You don't expect me to help you out, do you, Miles? Are you serious? Why on earth would you think I wanted to help you? Are you that deluded? Honestly? Oh holy hell."
And at that point, I hated myself. This was what Sabrina was talking about. I was horrible to guys. That was my problem. And they hated me for it. Miles looked so innocent and hurt right then, as though I we were four years old and I had stolen his favourite toy and stomped on it right in front of him. I never wanted to see him make that face again. I wanted to take back everything I ever said to him that made him feel the way he did in that moment.
"Look…" and when it came to it, I couldn't say I was sorry. I was still me; I was still too proud to admit when I was in the wrong. "Ok, ok, fine. What would I have to do? Kiss somebody?"
Miles' face brightened considerably, and then he looked a little sheepish and refused to meet my eyes. He seemed to be picking invisible dirt off of his signature boring t-shirt. "Actually… you have to kiss me."
My eyes widened as though he had proposed something completely absurd. Me? Roxie? Kissing Miles? I searched his face for anything that told me he was kidding, but I should have known better. Miles hardly ever cracked a joke.
"Oh come on, Roxie, I'm not that repulsive."
I scoffed out of instinct.
"You were certainly up for kissing a random guy – isn't that a little worse than kissing your roommate?"
He kind of had me there. I was shocked to the very core. But then he looked at me, pleading in his eyes. I couldn't go through with this, could I? No, I couldn't. I seriously couldn't.
Although I knew he wouldn't let it lie if I didn't help him out. It was only an experiment. It didn't mean anything; I was just lending a friend a helping hand. Perfectly normal. And besides, what if he told everybody that I jumped at the chance to potentially kiss a stranger? I'd get a reputation for being desperate, and Roxie King was never desperate…
… said the girl who was about to kiss Miles Goodman.
"Alright! Alright. I'll do it," I replied, hesitating as I glanced at him. His face lit up, and it made me feel funny inside. Sort of nice. I felt like I'd done a good thing. I felt like I'd done something right for once in my life. "But watch your wandering hands, Goodman!"
I sat next to him on the sofa, contemplating what the hell I was doing.
An experiment. It was an experiment.
Miles began to fidget like he always did when he was embarrassed. He stammered and stuttered for a bit, leaning his head to the right and then the left, "So, er, my hands, I should, er, what should –"
"Just put them here!" I snapped, taking them in my own and placing them on my waist. I was suddenly aware of the physical contact. I couldn't remember a time when I'd been like this with a guy. I definitely didn't remember it feeling this… good? I hated that I felt my face soften as I looked at him.
An experiment. It was an experiment.
How had I never noticed his eyes before? Dark blue and peppered with lighter, greyer flecks. So pretty and overloaded with surety; sure of what, I wasn't certain of, but sure of something. Miles had not once been intriguing to me.
But somehow, in that moment, he was.
I suddenly wanted to know everything about him. I wanted to know things like where he grew up, what had gotten him so interested in stargazing and astronomy and science, what his family were like, if he had ever been in love with somebody besides Sabrina's Aunt Zelda, what he thought about right before he fell asleep, why he –
And then we were kissing. It wasn't what I was used to; it wasn't rough and desperate. It was slow and calm and nice. Our mouths worked together as though they fit together like a jigsaw, and pretty soon it was impossible to know where my mouth ended and his began. My stomach flipped repeatedly and I ran my fingers through his hair, resisting the urge to smile because I just didn't want to stop kissing him. He moved one hand from my waist and up to my cheek and –
Miles. Hand. Was. On. My. Cheek.
I was enjoying a kiss from Miles.
An experiment. It was an experiment.
I moved my hands from his hair and pushed him – sharply but not quite as sharp as I might have pushed him fifteen minutes ago – and I stood up, smoothing down my t-shirt and my jeans.
"Right, I'm pretty sure you've got enough to work with now."
Miles blinked, mouth still open, hair messed up. He looked bewildered.
"Erm, er, yeah, I definitely have enough to work with now. Thanks, Roxie, you're a good friend."
I smiled at him, and then the air grew thick between us. Awkward, almost. Weird. We'd never had an awkward silence before – I always had an insult brewing in the back of my mind that I could hurl at him in an emergency. Oh hell, what had I done? I didn't want us to be uncomfortable around each other.
I was about to say so, when he gestured towards his papers, "So, um, I have to get back to my work now."
My jaw clenched, ready to offend him in any kind of way. But I couldn't. It would have been better if I had. Perhaps things would have gone back to normal if I had. But I didn't. I let things get messy. I always had to be messing something up. Typical me.
So, instead of fixing everything, I stormed over to my room, as though nothing had happened in between me being stood up and this moment. As though I had simply come home and made straight for my bedroom.
I hesitated, hand on the knob, other hand on the door frame, and I turned. Miles was busy scribbling away, rubbing his head furiously, clearly concentrating hard on getting everything that he was thinking right that moment onto the paper before he forgot it all. He left me no option but to interrupt him.
He sighed and looked up. "Yes, Roxie?"
"Remind me again what you're working on."
Again, another sigh. His attitude was a million times worse than mine. "I am attempting to calculate the realism of both chemical and physical attraction. I told you all this before. I needed two people that liked each other like crazy to kiss, and two people who hated each other to kiss."
I looked straight at him, "And which part of the experiment was I?"
He looked like he might vomit for a minute, as though he had suddenly realised that he was talking to a girl and not just me. And then he gave me a small smile, and my heart swelled. "I have absolutely no idea."
I'd never seen that smile before. I would kill to see that smile again.