A/N: written to fill in some background on two main characters in Rule of Thirds (likely NaNoWriMo 2012 pick). Please excuse total lack of context, lead-in, editing, and conclusion… And yes, same narrator as Kalispell, a little ways down the road. (Sorry, this scene doesn’t involve Chad :P)
We stumble up the porch steps, still laughing too hard to stay upright.
“Did you see his face?” Devon manages to say.
I can only nod, leaning against him while I struggle for breath. “I thought he was going to punch me.”
“I didn’t think you’d actually do it,” he laughs.
“I didn’t think I’d actually do it,” I tell him, still not quite believing myself. “But once you start throwing a drink, you can’t really stop…”
He fights the grin forming but fails, bursting out laughing, which gets me going again. The two of us stand there on the porch, barely able to breathe through the laughter. My legs are burning from the sprint down the row, and my arm still stings a little from the door clipping me as we dodged out of Sigma Chi. Whatever, the guy had it coming.
I suck in a deep breath of cold night air, willing my heart rate to slow. Devon has his hands on his head, his chest heaving too.
“Oh man,” he says, exhaling in a plume of fog, “drunk running is the best.”
I glance up at him. I thought he was relatively sober. “Wait,” I ask, “how drunk are you?” In my head I’m trying to remember how many drinks he’s had, but I’d lost track of him while we were at Durand.
He smiles sheepishly. “Um… not that drunk?”
“Social zone?” I suggest.
He laughs. “Sure, social zone.” He pulls me into a hug and rests his chin on my shoulder. “Melanie,” he says, sighing, “I’m so glad we’re friends.”
Friends? C’mon Devon, I want us to be more than that. And I think he does, too. I hug him tight. “Me too,” I say into his shoulder.
We stay like this for a while, just resting against each other. It’s surprisingly nice, although it’s starting to border on awkward if it weren’t for the alcohol and the fact that I’m liking this. But the longer we stand here, the more the chill of the autumn night creeps into me.
“You want to go in?” I ask. “The drunk warmth is wearing off…”
He chuckles and rubs my arms to warm me up. “Sure.”
He leaves one arm slung around my shoulders as he digs out his wallet for the card reader at the front door. It beeps, and I pull the door open. I’m not even sure how it happens, but we’re in the door and my hand is gripping his to secure the arm he has around me. It’s awkward, sort of, but as long as neither of us acknowledges it, we can let it stay awkward. We head across the main entryway and into the stairwell like this.
“Okay,” he says as we reach the stairs. “We’re going to trip on something –”
Damn it, he’s acknowledged the awkwardness. “No!” I say stubbornly, half being petulant because I’m hoping it comes across as cute, too. “I’m not letting go,” I insist.
“Fine,” he says, tightening his grip on my hand. “But don’t blame me when we eat shit.”
“Oh ye of little faith…” We start climbing up to the first landing. Devon’s purposely trying to mess things up, skipping a stair here and there to throw us off. I shove him with my free hand. “Stop that! Watch out for the turn.”
“Mel… we are too drunk for this,” he says as he nearly trips on a step.
“My legs feel like jelly,” I tell him. “That sprint from Sigma Chi was a bad idea…”
He laughs. “You say this now?”
“Oh shut up,” I say, dragging him up to the second floor landing where we stumble out of the stairwell and into the hall, giggling at each other. Yeah, we’re actually giggling. I manage to get control over it as we stop outside my room.
“So.” He’s watching me, but trying to avoid eye contact at the same time. It’s really cute.
“So…” I reply.
“Here’s your room,” he says slowly. I can sense the hesitation in his voice. I wish I could invite him in, but Dani’s already asleep inside. She has some thing to go to early in the morning and needs the sleep. My insides quiver. How can I maneuver this so we end up at Devon’s staff single instead? I can’t come up with anything fast enough, so I stall.
“You have my keys,” I remind him.
Nodding, I hold out my hand, though I’m hoping he left them in Tyler’s room at Durand. “I gave them to you earlier.”
“Oh yeah,” he mutters, digging around in his pocket. Damn it, please don’t have them… “You mean these?” He holds them up, dangling them up out of reach.
Oh, you want to play that game? “Don’t make me fight for them,” I beg, maybe a little too plaintively. I might be a little more tipsy than I realized.
“C’mon,” he teases, jangling my keys over my head.
“Devon…” I whine.
“Melanie…” he mocks, matching my inflection.
I hop for them once and manage to brush the carabiner keychain, but I land too close to him and lose my balance. He catches me with his free hand, setting me back on my feet. He’s laughing again. I don’t mind that it’s at my expense — he looks too happy for me to interrupt. I pout, and he just grins back. I’m working out how long I can draw out this game, but before I can do anything, he brings his hand with my keys down. Well that was quick. But instead of handing them to me, he puts his hands behind his back with a smug grin. I’m about to protest when he leans in and kisses me.
Thank God. It’s about damn time — we’ve only been flirting all night. It’s a gentle, lingering kiss — soft, like he’s keeping his distance, checking to see if this is okay. Yes, Devon, it is. I feel him start to draw back, so I pull him closer, putting my hand on his chest and sliding it up to his jaw. In response, he takes a step forward and closes the slight gap between our bodies, his mouth moving against mine and coaxing my chin up to meet him at his straightened height. I wrap my arms around his neck to keep him here — not that he’s planning on going anywhere. His hands slip around my waist, tugging me against him as his tongue brushes my upper lip, asking for permission to take it further.
But the keys in his hand are digging painfully into my lower back. I gently pull away, pausing to graze his lower lip with my teeth so it’s not a total shut-down. I open my eyes and look down before I can catch his gaze, and I reach around behind me to take the offending keys from his hand. I’m not about to open my door though, so I wedge the carabiner keychain into my pocket to secure my keys there. Devon’s watching me, confused I think, his hands still resting on my hips. I look up at him shyly, trying to see what he’s thinking. He looks concerned, so I take his hand and pull him toward his room, stopping mid-hallway to kiss him again. I use his momentum to let him fall against me, pinning me to the wall. His hand goes to my waist again and eases its way up my side as he kisses me harder. I let him slide his tongue past mine, but this time, he’s the one who breaks away.
“Melanie,” he whispers, leaning his forehead against mine. “I can’t do this like this.”
“What?” I whisper back. I’m confused. Can’t do what like what?
He sighs and kisses me softly on the temple. “I don’t want to have to be drunk to kiss you.”
Oh. I hate that he’s making sense, when all I want is to feel his mouth on mine again. I don’t care if it’s sloppy; I don’t care if his mouth tastes like gin — but I guess that’s his point. I should care. I still want to say, ‘kiss me anyway,’ but I know he’s right. “Then kiss me when we’re sober.”
“You’ll let me?” he asks.
“Let you?” I laugh. “If I knew you felt this way, I would’ve kissed you a long time ago.”
He smiles and puts a hand to my cheek, brushing my lower lip with his thumb. “You didn’t show it.”
I’ve got a million replies to that, all arguments that I’ve made to Dani chronicling my genuine efforts to hit on Devon. But at this moment I don’t feel like launching a campaign in my favor. “You didn’t show it either,” I whisper.
He visibly resists leaning in to kiss me again. An involuntary shiver runs down my spine, so subtle that I don’t think he notices.
“Brunch on the balcony tomorrow morning?” he asks softly.
“You seriously think I’m going to say no?”
He smiles, a wicked little smile. “I’ll see you at ten-thirty…”
His fingers linger on my cheek for a moment, then he turns down the hall towards his room, leaving me leaning against the wall, legs shaking from the run and the kiss while the imprint of his hands and mouth still tingle on my skin.
I push myself away from the wall and exhale slowly. I don’t care what Dani has to do tomorrow morning, she’s about to get woken up.