Change In Plans

She didn't know how long they'd been here. Ten minutes? Thirty? Time was an unimportant. It' passage was irrelevant compared to the intensity of what she was feeling. Chills ran from the small of her back, radiating through her body as Freddie pressed her into the cold metal of the elevator wall. He felt firm against her, strong. The muscles in his arms were tensed as his hands rested on the wall on either side of her head.

They'd kissed before…made out in the chilled darkness of movie theaters and the warm comfort of his bedroom. But never in the three months they'd been together had it felt like this. This wasn't just love – this was desperation. The end was coming. They'd decided, in an uncharacteristically grown up fashion, that their differences were too great for anything romantic to work…at least not right now. But then he'd said those words, words he'd never uttered out loud and without a conscious decision she was repeating them.

I love you.

In that moment she knew that nothing she'd ever said had been so true. She did love him, in a way that both frightened and exhilarated her. In some strange way those words made the finality of their decision less so. She loved him. He loved her. It wasn't a sudden rush or a random feeling. It was a slow building, through years of fights, tests, and challenges. It had snuck up on them, caught them unaware and now they were captured by it. She didn't know much about love, what she felt for him was a first, but somewhere in the pit of her stomach she knew that it was real, and it wasn't going to go away. Not being with him felt impossible, but the decision had been made. They'd agreed, and she'd have to find a way to live with it.

Midnight. That's what they'd agreed on. When the clock struck and announced a new day it would be in a world where Samantha Puckett and Freddie Benson were not a couple. They'd try to go back to being friends. They'd go on with life as they had before. They'd take the time they'd spent together and lock it away; waiting until they were ready. But right now, in the time they had left they would allow their bodies to say all the things that their words couldn't seem to.

They were good at this. From the beginning it had been the one area that always worked. They were different in so many ways – fundamental ways. It was a rare occasion when the most general of conversations didn't result in an argument. Fighting was like a second language for them. But in these moments, there were no words. It was the only time when she didn't fight to dominate; she allowed him to lead, to control, to make her his. It was a place where he didn't feel timid, intimidated or worried that giving his heart to her would end in disaster. In these moments there was trust and love and it spilled over into a passion that sometimes scared them both.

They were virgins, a fact they'd discussed fairly early on. And despite the 'Puckett drive' she'd inherited from her mother or maybe because of it, Sam had been vocal in her desire to keep it that way – for now. She didn't want to be labeled, to make a decision that she'd later regret, to give away something so important to someone who might not appreciate it. She didn't want to be her mother. Freddie understood that and respected it. And though his adolescent hormones screamed almost audibly in their desire for her, he was patient, and tender. In all truth, he hadn't been so sure he was ready to take that step himself. But he knew that when he did, he couldn't imagine it being with anyone but her. He loved her, a fact he'd only recently allowed himself to realize. He thought he'd been in love before… before Sam. He'd had butterflies and jealous rages and tears shed in the privacy of his room. But being with Sam shed a stark light on the truth of those feelings. He'd been infatuated, in love with the idea of being in love. But real love, what he felt now, wasn't as neat and tidy as that. It was messy, confusing and frustrating. It was having a heart so full of the other person that you couldn't imagine anything else would fit. He understood love now, which is what made the current situation so confusing.

They were ending. Breaking up. They were coming to terms with things in their relationship that didn't work. But it didn't feel like an ending. As his lips pressed into hers, soft moans reaching his ears, driving him to distraction, he didn't feel like it was over. This felt something like a beginning. They'd started this thing on impulse – an unexpected kiss that lead to them being an "us", with barely a conversation on the details. They hadn't considered if it would work. They hadn't thought about what they'd do if it didn't. They'd rushed in, head first, consequences be damned. And it had been hard. The problems they had together and individually hadn't gone away. He was still controlling and judgmental sometimes. She was still selfish and emotionally volatile sometimes. In the warm bubble of couplehood they thought their problems would melt away, but as their feelings intensified it only made their separate issues more obvious, and less manageable. They fought…often and fiercely, and while the making up was the stuff of dreams, in hindsight they were slowly drawing to this point. To a time where they would have to love each other enough to admit that if they really wanted it to work they'd have to take the time to deal with the hard stuff.

These feelings, the understanding that at midnight they'd be stepping out of the little world they'd built for themselves with no pre-arranged time of return, made them desperate, frantic. Not knowing when they'd touch like this again; relish in the sensation of bodies pressed impossibly close, made this moment more important than any other one they'd shared. It was hope, and promise. Their hands weren't touching just to touch. They were building a memory, burning it indelibly into their minds, into their bodies, into their hearts so that in the times when the way back to each other felt like a path overgrown with regret and fear they could remember this moment and know that love would always bring them full circle, it was inevitable. This was home.

They were panting now, their breathing fast and erratic. She wanted more of him than she could seem to possess. His hand left the wall and dragged slowly down her side, trembling at the edge of her shirt as he raised it and she gasped as his hands brushed softly against her side. Her hand on his neck pulled him closer, deepening the kiss until she felt she'd drown in it. His mouth was insistent against hers, his tongue sliding between her lips, building a heat in the pit of her stomach that demanded her attention. She moaned in response and pressed herself closer to him still.

His lips stopped as he pulled himself to stand in front of her. She instantly ached at the loss in contact and thought for a moment 'this is what it will be like…missing him'. She raised her eyes to meet his, questioning.

"We should probably…get out of here" his voice was low and throaty. She wondered if he had any idea how sexy he sounded. She stood from the wall, attempting to calm herself as she ran a hand though her wild blond curls.

"Uh…yeah, I guess you're right. I should be getting home anyway." She reached for the elevator's panel to start it again. His hand grabbed hers before she could.

"No Sam, that's not what I meant." He was suddenly nervous, unsure of how she would take what he intended to say but incapable of staying silent. "I mean…" he looked at his watch, raising an eyebrow. "It's only eleven. We still have an hour. You could…come to my house" he finished his sentence in a rush, hoping that the more quickly he said it the easier it would be.

She stared at him and then at the ground. She knew what this meant. They both did. They'd talked about this before. They'd laughed at the way the kids at their school jumped from one bed to the other like a game of musical chairs. Neither of them wanted to join in that disaster. They agreed that some things should be special. But as she looked at him she thought being with him, taking that step could never make more sense than it did right now. They were what they'd been waiting for.

It was probably only seconds that he'd been waiting for her response but it felt like an eternity. He stared down at her, second guessing himself. He'd pushed her too far. She'd told him she was waiting for the right time, the right person. And even if that hadn't been the case, how crazy was it for him to make the move when, at least for now, things were ending between them? But for him it made sense. She'd been his first everything – first kiss, the first girl he'd ever really loved. As sure as he was that they'd eventually find their way back to each other, he also knew that there was no guarantee when that would happen. Would there be other men in her life before then? Other women in his? He didn't want to take the chance that something this important would be shared by anyone but her.

"Okay"

She said it so softly that for a moment he wasn't sure he'd heard her right. He looked down at her, a question on his face.

"I said okay… let's… let's go." She smiled at him softly, the smile he loved so much, the one he'd miss with an intensity that already made his heart ache.

No further words were said but he reached down to lace her fingers with his and she leaned back into him, laying her head on his shoulder as they waited for the elevator to stop. When the doors opened they were thankfully alone in the eighth floor hallway. Sam waited, squeezing his hand and he realized that she was waiting on him. He felt a rush of pleasure at that – she was letting him lead. It didn't happen often but it never ceased to fill him with pride when it did. He grasped her hand tight and led the way from the elevator to his door, forcing himself not to look at Carly's apartment as he passed it. This was about him and Sam – neither of them knew how Carly would react to this, and right now, neither of them cared.

He fumbled in his pocket for his keys, opening the door to let Sam pass into the cool, dark apartment. His mother wasn't home – working the late shift at the hospital. When he'd first started dating Sam his mom seemed to always be there. He wondered if she'd purposely changed her schedule just to lessen the chances of he and Sam being alone. She hadn't trusted Sam, called her a delinquent and a bad influence. Those first few weeks together he'd seen his mother and Sam observe each other (from as great a distance as possible) each of them wary of the other, thinking the worst. But slowly they'd developed something of an understanding. And while Sam wasn't exactly his mother's favorite person (and vice versa), they'd come to an agreeable tolerance of being in each other's lives and his mom had given them limited privacy and space. He had never been more grateful for that than he was now.

He shut the door behind them and took Sam's hand again, leading her to his room. Once inside he turned on the small light beside his bed leaving the overhead lights off. Tonight felt sacred, bright light too glaring. He stood beside his bed, his back to Sam who had yet to say a word. He worried for a moment that this would be awkward. He wondered if they should talk first, discuss what was going to happen, decide if it would change anything. His thoughts were silenced as he felt Sam's hands slide around his waist from behind, her head laid softly against his back. He ran his hands over hers. Her hands were so small. He'd always been amazed that someone as tough and decidedly ungirly would have such pretty hands. He picked them up, tracing her fingers.

Turning to face her he looked down into her eyes.

"Are you sure?"

She stared up at him, emotion making her not trust her own voice. How did she tell him that she'd never been surer of anything? How did she tell him that she felt like she was standing in the middle of the most important thing that had ever happened? What could she say to drive away the fear in his eyes?

"I love you."

Those were all the words he needed. She loved him. He loved her and no matter what might happen tomorrow, this love was a truth that made the rest irrelevant.

Lowering his head he captured her lips with his, trying with all he had not to let the heat of his emotions make him rush. This wasn't a race. They both knew that this was a prelude to the end of their beginning and neither was in a hurry.

Her lips met his in urgency, moving against him, lost in the feel of him, the taste of him. She nibbled on his bottom lip, running her tongue over the softness of it. She bit down, eliciting a moan from deep inside him. He reached down and slid his hands over the backs of her thighs, pulling her up and onto him. She wrapped her legs around his waist, both hands on the side of his face, kissing him harder, deeper. He walked toward the wall and pushed her into it with more force than he intended but the need for apologies was squelched as he felt her moan into his mouth.

He leaned into her, molding his body to hers as the evidence of his need for her pressed against the inside of her thigh. He heard her gasp and he looked up to meet her eyes. They were darkened and heavy lidded, the shock of what she'd just felt evident there.

"Someone is happy to see me" she laughed low and soft, and he joined her. This was them, passion and laughter. Comfort and heat.

He lowered her from the wall and walked her toward the bed. Sitting on the edge he pulled her down to his lap, straddling him. Their lips met again and his hands moved over her back, down to the edge of her shirt before slipping underneath. He traced circles on the small of her back then followed the line of her side up to her breast. His hands were warm and soft and she felt herself shiver as his fingers played tentatively at the edge of her bra. The lace was thin and she felt the warmth of his fingers through it.

Pulling back from him she reached down to the edge of her shirt pulling it swiftly over her head and dropping it to the floor. That one movement was like an invitation they were both all too happy to accept and the next few moments were filled with the discarding of clothing as their lips met hungrily with the heated flesh of bodies newly exposed. Like seeing each other for the first time. She kissed his chest, his neck, running her hands over his strong arms. He nibbled at the soft skin of her collar bones, licking the valley between her breasts touching her everywhere that he could and still wanting more.

She reached around and grabbed the hem of his shirt tugging clumsily, drawing it over his head. She loved to look at him this way. His shoulders were broad, the muscles there hard and lean. She ran a hand over his chest and smiled at the groan he couldn't contain. She continued her trail over his chest to his arms, gripping them. One thin vein ran down the center of his bicep, stretching across to his forearm. She leaned forward and traced it with her tongue, slowly down and back up, stopping to bite softly into his shoulder, eliciting a groan in him that sounded more feral than human.

He lifted her up and laid her on the bed, brushing the hair from her face. She pulled him back down to her as he worked at the button to her jeans. His hands were shaking in fear and anticipation. They were headed toward a place that there was no coming back from, but they were both powerless to stop. Sliding his hand into the waist of her jeans he tugged them over her hips, running his hand over her thighs as he worked them the rest of the way down her legs. Reaching around she unclasped her bra, dropping it to the floor beside them. She lay underneath him in dark blue lace her wild blond curls spilled over the pillow. He looked down into her eyes, lit with passion and wondered if he would ever again see anything so beautiful. Lowering his face to her neck he nipped and sucked at the skin there, licking over her collarbone, placing open mouthed kisses over her jaw, her cheek. He couldn't get enough of her. He tangled his hands in her hair and buried his face in the softness of it. She smelled of vanilla and he inhaled deeply, wanting to remember it forever.

She ran her small hands over his chest, tracing the angles of his muscles, scratching her nails lightly over his hip bones, venturing lower still. As his mouth ran from her neck to the soft swell of her breast she grew bold, reaching into the elastic of his boxer shorts, sliding her hands over his hips, pulling the fabric with her. She uses her feet, wrapped around his waist to pull them the rest of the way down. His mouth lowers to capture one pert nipple in his mouth and her back arches involuntarily, the feel of his lips, his tongue sending waves through her body.

Her hands find him, all shyness gone as she wraps her hand around him grasping him firmly, dragging long slow lines from base to tip. He closes his eyes tight, willing himself to maintain control. She smiles up at him, glad to no longer be the only one on the verge. She continues, gaining momentum that is matched by the speed of his breathing. His mouth returns to her breast, licking sucking, biting his response to her. He begins to find a rhythm as his heart races. Ripples of pleasure threaten to completely undo him as her hands increase their speed. He is going to lose it right here.

He reaches into his nightstand, drawing out a square of silver foil.

"Do you need me to put it on?" He doesn't tell her that the few moments it will take to put it on are going to be used to bring himself back from the brink. He is trying to avoid ending it before it even starts.

"I've got it" he says gruffly, leaning his face into her shoulder.

Raising himself back up on one arm he looks at her, drinking in her face, her eyes, her lips.

"I love you Samantha"

Her face softens and she reaches up to cup his cheek in her hand. There are tears in her eyes but no words escape her mouth. She doesn't need to say anything. He knows.

When he enters her it's like the sweetest pain. Her heart aches at the realization that there will never be anyone as close to her as he is now. He moves against her slowly, wanting to lessen her discomfort. The resistance doesn't last long and when it breaks she shudders against him, pushing her hips up to meet his, biting into his shoulder. They say the first time never lasts long but neither of them knows how much time has passed as they move together. They are surrounded with each other, with wave after wave of pleasure that makes them sure they've left their bodies behind; the intensity too much for them to stay. They reach the peak and tumble over into oblivion, coming undone. He fills her body now in the same way he has filled her heart, fully and completely until they are both overflowing and they reach their end in a rush of screams and kisses.

The return to reality is slow and painful; the beauty of the moment now dissipating as the truth of their situation trickles in. They lie side by side, both of them struggling to catch their breath. He turns onto his side, facing her. She is still, her eyes closed and a small smile plays on her face. She looks the way he feels – at peace. Leaning over to brush a hair from her face his eyes fall on his bedside clock.

12:01

The lighted numbers illuminate the darkened room. Her eyes are drawn to where his lay and her face falls when she sees for herself. Times up.

The awkwardness they were happy to have avoided in the beginning rushes in around them. Clearing her throat she sits up and gathers the sheets around her naked torso. He wishes he had some words to make this easier. Something he could say to take away the feelings that are rapidly tainting everything. But how do you say goodbye to someone you've just given everything to?

You don't.

Reaching across the bed he grabbed the clock, ripping the cord forcefully from the wall. She looks at him in shock then confusion as a smile spreads slowly over his face.

"It's after midnight" She listens to him but her expression doesn't change. She searches his eyes and waits for him to continue, her heart screams inside her, begging him to say what she can't. "We missed our deadline"

"Hmmm….so what do you suggest we do about it?"

"Let's pick a new time" he says, tracing a finger down her cheek.

She smiles, melting at his touch. "A new time to break up?"

"Mmm hmmm" he says, leaning in to place a soft kiss on her forehead.

"What do you have in mind?"

He raises himself to stare into her face. Confident now in his decision. This is not a woman he can let go. This is not a love he can live without…for any length of time. They are different – glaringly so. They have things to work on – big things. And they would work on them… together. Walking away was not an option now.

He looks at the clock, still in his hand and sits up, throwing into the farthest corner of his room. Turning back to her, he smiles.

"I'm thinking…never"