Gender: Female Age: 20 Location: N/A
|Introduction: Sorry for the delay with this one. Couldn't get things quite the way I wanted them. Forewarning, there is no sex in this part of the story. If you're looking for a tale of meaningless sex, you should look somewhere else. To fully enjoy, please read from Part 1. Thank you to everyone for reading, rating and commenting! -SS|
Jasen rapped heartily, pausing to note the sideways 8 and chipped paint that adorned the discolored door. Despite dozens of car rides and even more conversations, it was his first time at her door, always having been asked to wait outside or being told that she would be right out. He did know, from offering to help her carry some things in, that her apartment was 'only two doors after the top of the stairs'. The plan had come to him less than an hour before, leaving him no time to consider how she would react, and even less time to give any thought to if she would mind him showing up at her apartment.
A few seconds of silence followed the sound of his knock before he heard a bolt shift. All at once, he was nervous, but his determination was too solid for him to back down. The door swung slowly, with a creak, and her face appeared in the opening. Surprise showed in her features, along with a small degree of confusion, yet he could not help but smile at the sight of her. “Jasen? What's up?”
“Can you come out and play?” His words nearly trampled hers as he tried to get them out before losing his nerve.
The confusion mixed with the tiniest hint of amusement on her face, making his stomach begin a pleasant tumble. “Can I what?”
“Can you come out and play?”
Her smile widened. “Play? What do you mean?”
It never occurred to him that he might need to explain himself, but knowing why he wanted to ask made it easier, despite her smile threatening to steal his words. “You remember when you were a kid and your friends would just come and knock on your door and ask if you could come out and play? You didn't have to set aside time in advance or worry about making plans, you just played. I want you to come out and play.”
“What would we do?”
“I don't know, go to a park, act crazy. Just hang out, swing, play tag, spin around in circles until we get so dizzy we fall over. It doesn't matter, just play.”
“The nearest park is like half a mile away.” She didn't need to go outside to know the late October air would be cool.
Jasen refused to give up. “Half a mile isn't that far and you know it. We can skip all the way there and it'll warm us up.”
She fidgeted the slightest bit in the doorway, not sure what to say but knowing her heart was moving rapidly. “I have so much homework I need to do, plus work tonight, so I don't...” Before more of her refusal could escape her lips, he gave her the look which always accompanied his teasings of 'all work and no play'. There was a decent amount of homework sitting on her desk, though most would not take nearly as much time as she had set aside for it. The day hadn't even reached the afternoon, leaving her hours before she would need to get ready for work. Her teeth barely clenched onto her inner lip when she spoke again, “I'm not dull.” The words came out defiant, as if she had something to prove.
Nearly a minute passed while they stared at each other through the open door. Kairi debated with herself, what she had always referred to as her 'better sense' quickly losing the argument. “I'll grab my coat.” Jasen didn't even try to hide his excitement. Giving a small hop, he smiled wide enough to hurt.
The second she stepped back through the door, he grabbed onto her arm and began to urge her to move faster, making it almost impossible to lock the door before they rushed away. “Jasen, you're being ridiculous!” She laughed, allowing herself to be pulled along and loving his excitement. They all but hopped down the stairs and jogged to the end of the block. No words passed between them the entire walk to the park, but no words were necessary as they laughed at nothing and began racing each other at random intervals.
As Kairi's feet hit the familiar wood chips, a new wave of excitement ran through her. She ran to the swings and threw herself on. “Bet I can jump further than you!” Pushing off against the ground, the shift of her weight came naturally, as if it hadn't been years since her last time.
“You will lose that bet.” Jumping onto the next swing, he stared at her as he began to rock himself. The passing of October had taught him that her definition of a coat was an oversized sweatshirt, sometimes accompanied, as it was in that moment, by a pair of gray gloves and a thick red hat. The hat pressed her blonde hair tightly against her face, framing it perfectly. When she smiled, especially there on the swings, she looked like the cover of a Christmas card, beautiful in the most natural and simple way possible.
“Watch it!” She laughed, pushing his leg away from her. “No playing dirty.” Lost in his thoughts, Jasen hadn't noticed that his path angled, causing a near collision. Rather than get upset, she retaliated and shifted toward him, bumping her hip against his.
Initially surprised, Jasen was soon lost in laughter, his own as well as hers. They bumped back and forth until Kairi swung so far to the side she nearly struck the bar holding the swings up, but even then she did not stop laughing. As she straightened herself, Jasen realized he had not looked away from her for more than a second since they set foot in the park. Every second he spent with her, he found himself more and more lost, simply in her presence. “Ready?” She giggled, pumping herself upward as hard as she could.
Remembering the reason he had jumped on the swings in the first place, he shifted his weight a bit faster. “Ready!”
“One… Two… THREE!” His jump was a bit shaky as he pushed himself off. When he hit the ground, his knees buckled and he rolled, thankful for the padding of his coat lessening the blow of the woodchips.
Kairi, on the other hand, shifted her weight perfectly off of the seat and soared gracefully through the air, bending her knees as she landed just past Jasen, bending her knees to lessen the impact. As soon as her balance was her own again, she turned to him. “Are you okay?” Despite her concern, there was still laughter in her voice.
Jasen’s body shook against the ground as his own laughter overtook him. “I think… I think you win that one.”
Kneeling down next to him, she couldn’t help but feel something rise inside of her, a feeling she seemed to need to push down increasingly often when in his presence. “You’re okay though, right?” A tiny smirk began to pull at the corners of her lips, but he didn’t see it.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Good, because you’re it.” She smacked her hand against his arm before jumping back to her feet and taking off, racing through the woodchips and up to the jungle gym.
Taking only a second to register what had just happened, Jasen scrambled up and went after her, ducking under bars and climbing up a metal ladder. They weaved through every piece of equipment on the playground, slipping through bars, climbing up the slides and tangling themselves in small spaces. For almost half an hour, they tagged each other back and forth, Jasen always seeming to take just a bit longer to get to her than she took to get him.
He noticed, shortly, that she was more agile and flexible than he would have thought, able to shift her body through small openings and pull herself up on the bars. There was no fear in either of them, fear of falling or hurting themselves, nor any of the hesitation that seemed to find adults who decided to play. They laughed loudly, filling the afternoon air with the sound, and called each other cheaters for insignificant reasons.
“You… you are fast,” Jasen panted, dropping his hands to his knees as he stopped to catch his breath. She was beaming at him, her face brighter than he had ever known it before. Through his exhaustion, he could feel adrenaline begin to pump through him having nothing to do with their game. “I uh…” She made even speaking difficult. “I know you have things you were planning on doing today, so if you want to head back…”
Kairi was shaking her head. “Not so fast. We have one thing left to do.” Moving backward into the grass, she threw her arms open and began to spin herself in a circle.
Jasen watched her as she moved, confused at why she was spinning yet ecstatic at how happy she looked. “What are you doing?”
“I’m spinning in circles until I fall over!” Obviously, he had been joking when he made his list of possible activities, but she took it to heart and was determined to live up the moment. Not wanting to be left out, he rushed over to her and began to do the same. Neither knew how long they were spinning, too busy watching the sky twirl above them. Finally, the momentum took him and he shifted sideways, pumping into her. Both stumbled, staggered and fell.
Through their labored breathes, Kairi and Jasen gave short bursts of laughter, lying in the grass on their backs. “You okay?” He knew the second he knocked into her that she wouldn’t be upset, but asked to be sure.
A few breaths came before she answered, her eyes scanning across the clouds above her. “I’m… amazing. Wonderful. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time… thank you.”
His excitement at her words was almost impossible to contain. “To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting you to come out.”
“I’m glad I did.”
Silence passed between them as Jasen stared at Kairi and Kairi stared at the sky. As much as he did not want the day to end, he felt like he should offer for it to. “If you’re ready to go back…”
“Are you asking because you are?”
“No. I’m asking because normally you would have asked to go home by this point. I don’t want you to feel obligated to stay.”
As he looked at her, he saw a smile shake her lips. “I want to stay. For a little bit longer at least.” Silence came again before she broke it. “The sky is so blue.”
The purity of her words caused him to smile. “It is; blue and big. Seeing it like this makes me wish I took the time to look at it more often.”
“Things in life become ‘more important’, you know, to the point where doing something you enjoy is seen as wasting your life or wasting precious time. If you can’t make a living off of it, you shouldn’t bother. People don’t really make a living off of admiring the sky.”
Again, her words were more genuine and passionate than he could ever hope to be. “Is that what you believe?”
She thought for a moment, truly thought. During the silence, Josh couldn’t help but think about how often people don’t allow themselves that moment, wanting to answer the moment a question is asked. He thought of how often people fear silence. “Not necessarily,” she finally said, her voice gentle. “I guess it’s something like I kind of live by, subconsciously, but I’m not necessarily an advocate of it. People should have things they enjoy in life simply for the sake of enjoying them.”
“What do you have?”
“What do you have in life that you enjoy simply for the sake of enjoying it?”
Her hesitation spoke volumes for her, before she even opened her mouth. “I mean, I enjoy working and studying. I like my job and I love learning so…”
“But you have to have a hobby of some sort.”
She wasn’t ready to share that yet. Not yet. “Nothing really special. Like I said, I don’t advocate the need to always be productive, but I’m kind of a hypocrite in that sense.” Jasen understood that the subject ran deeper than she wished to go, and readily fell back into silence, looking again to her as she looked to the sky. Another offer to leave nearly came to his lips when she stopped the thought. “What do you think makes a person?”
The question threw him, and he was unsure of what to say. “What do you mean?”
“I mean… is a person nothing but the product of the things that happen to them? Are they their actions or their thoughts and intentions despite their actions or… I don’t know.” Her final words came out almost defeated.
“Well, a person is definitely more than the things that happen to them. Bad things happen to good people, right? Sometimes people react badly or in a way they normally wouldn’t to try to cope with their experiences, but… I’m not sure how to explain it.”
“So… if something really bad happens to a person and in return they do something they normally wouldn’t, something that could hurt someone else or… if someone used someone else just to make themself feel better…”
“Why are you asking?”
Once again, her teeth met the inner part of her lower lip. “I just… there’s something that I…”
The quiver in her voice was unmistakable, leaving Jasen’s mind to travel to the look of defeat he had seen on her face as she sat on the ground outside the bar the night they met. He thought of that persistent smile, never willing to admit something was wrong. “Did something bad happen to you?”
“No.” Her answer came more quickly than it should have. She knew she was lying. He knew she was lying. Neither pointed it out. “It was just a question. I guess looking at the sky made me feel all philosophical or something. I uh… I should get going.” Kairi began to rise to her feet, Jasen following suit a second later, though not quite able to catch up. “I have to work tonight, so… yeah. This was fun. Thank you. Really, thank you.” Just like that, she left.
“I hear you have one of those rare nights off tonight. Want to celebrate or something?” Jasen had run into Kairi outside the library where she had spent hours studying and the last few working. From what she had told him a few nights before, it was her first night off in almost two weeks. Though almost a month had passed since their day of playing in the park, he hadn’t forgotten the tone of her voice or the look on her face when she asked him the question. A piece of her wall had broken down in that moment, one she hadn’t put back up completely. Jasen never took advantage of this break, despite how much he enjoyed the extra glimpse he was allowed to see of her life.
She no longer said he needed to wait outside, though he never made it much further than a few feet past her front door, and had even shown him baby pictures of herself when she found an album with him there. The greatest moment, as insignificant and miniscule as it may have seemed to anyone else, was when she admitted to having a bad day. There was very little elaboration, but it was more than he had ever expected. Even so, it made him want more.
And even so, there were some things she would not share. “I can't.” She smiled that polite yet awkward smile she always gave when refusing someone something. “I have something I'm supposed to do tonight.”
“Studying?” It hadn't taken much for him to realize how seriously she took her education, whether it was in her classes or the world of fictional super heroes. To his surprise, she shook her head. “Something fun then?”
There was hesitation in her eyes as she shifted her bag on her shoulders, lifting it a bit, but her smile curved to a more knowing one. “I was asked to help out with this benefit fundraiser thing tonight at the performance center uptown.”
“So it is work. Are you serving or...?”
She passed her weight back and forth between the balls of her feet. “It's just a thing. Nothing big. I really do need to go and get ready, though. It starts in an hour. Sorry. Maybe some other time.” The last words were thrown over her shoulder as she hurried away, already a bit past schedule. Jasen couldn't quite understand the conversation that had just taken place, but he knew that he was missing something. What he hadn't missed, though, was a time and a place.
“A Night in Pink: Celebrating the Power of Women” the sign on the front of the door read. It was colorful and featured the well-known pink breast cancer ribbon on one corner. Jasen dropped his eyes to the description of events for the night, which included names of performers and a “special guest.” None of the names were familiar to him, but he couldn't curb the desire to find out what Kairi didn't seem to want to tell him.
“Good evening!” A well dressed usher greeted him as he walked through the door. He was directed to a box office where he bought a ticket and was led to a seat on the main level. While the balcony only featured rows of cushioned seats, the lower level was filled with tables and formal dining chairs. Servers worked in between them carrying trays of food and drinks for those who had ordered them. As much as he looked, he could not find Kairi among them.
The lights dimmed, causing Jasen to glance down at his program, thinking that it may be best to enjoy the show if nothing else. The acts flowed gracefully, shifting between short skits and poetry for the first half. Every few minutes another server would pass by, and he couldn't stop himself from turning to look at them as they did. No matter how many faces he saw, none matched the one he was looking for. Even as intermission came and passed, there was still nothing, and he accepted that she must have been asked to help somewhere in the back, but doing what he couldn't imagine.
As he settled back down after the break, he glanced at his program. “Act 2: A Night in P!nk.” All performances for the remainder of the program were based on songs by the artist. The first girl stepped on to the stage to the upbeat beginning of Raise Your Glass. It wasn't until the chorus began that he realized someone else was on stage. A girl dressed fully in black, her face obstructed by a band around her eyes. She danced in the background as the other sang, wonderfully choreographed steps that only came during the chorus before she sunk back into the darkness, becoming fully invisible once again. As more songs passed by, accompanied by appropriate images projected onto the screen behind the stage, he watched the girl appear again through each, always dancing but never claiming attention. Still, he couldn't take his eyes off of her movements, and was more than intrigued by how easily she made herself disappear.
Looking to the program again, he saw that she was marked only as “special guest” and nothing more. The last segment of the program arrived, and the girl stood alone at the center of the stage. “Trouble” began to pump through the speakers. Putting her hand at the hem of her black over shirt, she pulled up sharply and ripped it away in a single movement, revealing a gray cotton tank top that tightly hugged her curves, highlighting a flat stomach and perfectly curved chest, two things he hadn't noticed in the least through her previous clothing. Her arms and shoulders were exposed, and as she began to move to the beat, the beautiful tone was more than obvious.
Just as quickly, she ripped off the tear-away pants, tossing them to the side and revealing jean shorts and coal Converse. She danced amazingly to the tempo, showing moves Jasen couldn't even imagine being capable of. Hip-hop steps, twisting, turning, jumping. A wide smile stayed on her lips through every movement, though it didn't have the feel of that forced smile performers always wore. Pure joy was on her face. Jasen felt his heart flutter.
A light sheen of sweat began to cover her neck and chest, but if she was at all fatigued, she did not show it. Her legs were mesmerizingly muscular and firm, leading his eyes up to the hem of her snug short shorts as she turned, and over another perfect curve. The crowd cheered for her throughout the song, glazing over the atmosphere with a rock-concert feel.
The final set of repeated lyrics began and, without warning, the girl ripped the bandana from her face, throwing it to the side in such a manner that her hair flung across her features. It provided the perfect extra second of suspense before her hair relaxed back over her shoulders and her face was exposed. As if they knew her, as if they had waited for and loved her, the crowd burst into ecstatic applause. A scattered few even stood as they whistled and whooped. Jasen could only stare, slack jawed, at the girl on the stage. He didn't dare blink. It couldn't be Kairi. The girl with the amazing curves who was dancing expertly onstage in front of hundreds of people couldn't possibly be Kairi. How had he not noticed the muscle and tone that covered her body? How had he not noticed those curves?
Before the first song even fully ended, it transited into another. "Get This Party Started". A little more than halfway through the song "So What" took over, and she transitioned to the new tempo and style flawlessly. Jasen still found himself unwilling to blink. His eyes traced her body's every movement, from the bend of her knees to the tilt of her head, even the trail of beads of sweat that worked down her skin. No matter what, his gaze always ended on her smile. Instantly, he knew what she had meant when she had told him that seeing a performers enjoy what they're doing makes watching the performance better. It went then to "Sober" followed halfway through by "U + UR Hand".
She was in control of every last muscle in her body, isolating them so only one piece of her seemed to move at a time. Her tone of her movements transitioned as quickly as the song. Proud. Rebellious. Carefree. Seductive. "Bad Influence" began and she rocked her hips, back to those watching, running her hands through her hair and bending in all the right ways. It was as if she were giving a private lap dance to every member of the audience simultaneously. She winked and blew kisses, never overdoing it. Anything shy and timid that he had ever seen in her was gone. She was fiery and feisty. Sexy.
Heart beginning to race, Jasen dropped his eyes back down to his program, if for no other reason than to give his mind a break. "Special Guest: Embodying the Many Sides of Women". It was exactly what she was doing. Jasen's heart pounded in his chest; he felt light.
With a deep breath, he looked back up to the stage, just as the music began to fade. Blue and green lights illuminated it from the sides, but there was nothing and no one there to light up. His eyes darted quickly, back and forth, desperately wanting to see her again. The next song began, much slower than the previous ones. "Glitter in the Air". She slid back on the stage, truly being gone for only a few seconds. The sweat was cleared from her face and neck. Her Converse and socks were gone; only her bare feet fell onto the black wood as she stepped gracefully.
All of these changes took a background level of importance to the change that held Jasen's eye, as well as the eye of everyone else in the room. A deep pink, near floor length dress took the place of the skimpy tank and shorts, loose past the hips to allow her full movement. She was nothing shy of elegant, and was made even more so when she rose her weight to the toes of one foot and began a slow spin. Amazingly balanced.
Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands? The lyrics swam through the speakers and into the crowd.
Closed your eyes and trusted, just trusted? No one dared make a sound as they watched her. Goosebumps rose across arms and legs. Jasen was covered. He had forgotten how to breathe.
Have you ever thrown a fist full of glitter in the air?
Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, 'I just don't care'? The smile was gone from her lips. What remained was passion.
She flexed and bent in ways the normal human body could not fathom. Leaning herself backward until her finger tips brushed the floor. Lifting her leg until her knee pressed into her chest, keeping herself perfectly straight. Her balance alone was far beyond belief. Everyone held their breath. Even the servers stopped, trays poised on their shoulders, and stared toward the stage.
The first chorus came, followed by the second verse. Another version of the chorus. The tempo increased, very slightly, and her movements followed, still flowing elegantly. A series of "la"s began and she shifted her weight quickly, all over the place, but not without purpose. Two loud chords pumped out, one right after the other, and she planted a foot with each one.
All movement ceased.
"There you are, sitting in the garden" The sound was no longer coming from the speakers.
"Clutching my coffee," The voice that rang out through the room was not magnified in any artificial way, yet it was crystal clear.
"Calling me sugar" Despite everything, there was no waver in Kairi's voice as she sang. She filled every last inch of the room. It was a beautiful sound. As close to flawless as one could get.
"You called me sugar" Her hands rose to her chest, and she lowered herself downward rhythmically, following the downward movement of the notes. Jasen's heart beat only slightly faster than its normal tempo, but he was hyper-aware of its pattern.
When her body reached the floor, her singing ended and Pink's came through the speakers once more.
Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight?
Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself will it ever get better than tonight?
Tonight His thoughts went to the night he had spent with her, how he'd picked her out of the crowd and his thoughts refused to let her go. The smile she gave him, how it was different from the one she gave the customers she served. The desperate desire he had to help her. The amusement in her voice when she explained her understanding of comic books. Her laugh, ringing through as they played video games. He could still feel the weight of her body, the softness of her skin. He thought of how he felt when he saw her again... relief, confusion, joy.
The song had ended, but the crowd did not cheer, still too elated to do anything but watch. Kairi stepped backward as one final melody began, the piece entitled in the program as "Preview for December Bullying Events: Stay Strong". Her chest rose and fell heavily. "Made a wrong turn once or twice. Dug my way out, blood and fire. Bad decisions, that's alright. Welcome to my silly life"
With one final step backward, she brought herself in line with a chorus of women, all the previous performers of the night, still dressed in their respective costumes and outfits. A small number of the other girls joined in, their voiced rising together with the next lyrics.
Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood
Miss 'No way, it's all good'
It didn't slow me down.
A few more came in.
Mistaken, always second guessing
Underestimated, look I'm still around
With a collective breath, every woman on stage sang together. Kairi, unable to stop herself, swayed to the beat.
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than fucking perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing,
They all fell out and only Kairi remained. “You're fucking perfect to me.”
The same pattern followed, Kairi singing alone until the other women joined in in layers. As the song continued on, Jasen tore his eyes away from the stage to look around the room once more. Tears were forming in the eyes of many around him. Though his eyes stung, he held back, enticed by the undeniable passion that radiated from Kairi's every word and movement. It was that, Kairi’s passion and how obviously she was pouring her heart into her every word, with which he attributed everyone else’s tears. His own body was covered with tingling goose bumps.
Despite the perfection of her voice, despite the crowd being drawn to her from the moment she revealed herself, she did not demand attention. She did not make herself out to be more important than any other woman on the stage. Kairi allowed her own voice to be overtaken by the others, though her measured tone was unmistakable among them. Jasen was more lost in her than he had ever known possible. The steady pounding in his chest became the only thing he was aware of outside of her, and even that was far in the background.
Her sways expanded through the others, everyone moving by the times the chorus came the second time. The rap portion came, lines rippling through different women as it went.
The whole world's scared, so I swallow the fear
The only thing I should be drinking is an ice cold beer
So cool in line and we try try try but we try too hard
And it's a waste of my time.
Done looking for the critics, 'cause they're everywhere
They don't like my jeans, they don't get my hair
Exchange ourselves and we do it all the time
Why do we do that, why do I do that
The pause was the smallest bit longer than any had known it to be, but her expression showed exactly why this was so. The words came out as if they were her own, spoken from deep within her. “Why do I do that?” A beat of pure silence before she called out, filling the entire room with her voice, strong and unwavering. “Yeah! I’m pretty, pretty pretty”
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than fucking perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing, you're fucking perfect to me
“You're perfect, you're perfect”
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than fucking perfect.
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing, you are perfect to me.
Jasen's stared straight into the eyes of the girl in the pink dress, wishing she could see him, yet happy she couldn't. All around him, people stood, applauding the group of women. More than anyone, he guessed, they were applauding Kairi. The others on stage edged her forward, but she remained in line with them, shaking her head at their efforts. When the applauding began to die, she was the first to scurry offstage.
"You should go out and say hi to some people. They're always waiting for you, but you just disappear." The teenage girl nearest Kairi looked up at her with hopeful eyes.
"The last bus into town leaves too quickly. If I miss that then I'll have to walk all the way back, so hanging around isn't really an option. Sorry." Her voice was genuine and kind.
"My parents will give you a ride back. They've been wanting to meet you, too."
"Maybe next time, okay?" She ruffled the girl’s hair, giving her a smile before breaking off from the rest to go into the dressing room. As always, she changed quickly, slipping into over sized sweats and gym shoes. One last time, she ran her hands through the silky fabric of the dress, admiring the way it shined as the overhead light reflected from it.
A gentle high still ran through her. Dancing was her deepest secret, almost a guilty pleasure. Tossing her book bag over her shoulder, she hung the dress on a corner of a locker and started out toward the back hall way. The truth was that she had probably already missed the last bus. Reaching the end of the hall, she pushed open a door to the cool night air.
"If I had known, I would have brought you flowers." The voice caught her by surprise, causing her to turn quickly on her heel. Jasen was leaning against the back wall, looking directly at her. His expression was relaxed yet thoughtful and without accusation.
"What are you doing here?"
"I heard there was a show tonight that a friend of mine was helping out with. I thought I would come check it out." Kairi could only nod, not sure how to react. Embarrassment filled her at the thought of someone she knew watching her onstage. Without warning, her thoughts traveled elsewhere. They traveled to the word "friend". Had he used it casually, the way someone might introduce another person as a friend just for simplicity sake? Did he truly consider her a friend? Did he not really mean anything at all? "...do you?"
Her eyes shifted to him sharply. "What?" To her even greater embarrassment, she had completely tuned out what he had been saying.
A gentle smile crept over his face. "I want to ask you a question, but I don't want you to get offended by it." Again, Kairi only nodded. As if giving further proof of how deeply he knew she could be offended, his eyes dropped from hers. The words needed to come out perfectly, and it was with a heavy sigh that he said them. "Why did you do it?"
She was taken aback, unable to understand how that question could offend her. "What? Dance?"
"No, no." He shook his head, releasing another uncertain sigh. "I could see why you did that. There was more passion in a single movement of your body than I could ever hope to put into an entire show." Her face grew warm as she fidgeted uncomfortably at the compliment. "I meant... what I was trying to..." An unsteady breath escaped his lips. "Why did you sleep with me?"
That she understood. Her stomach gave flip as her mouth fell open with words she couldn't speak. The warmth drained from her face. "Why are you asking me this?"
"I need to know."
"What, you've never had a one night stand before?" She tried to make the words come out as a joke, but the discomfort was obvious in them. All defensive walls within her had risen.
"And what, you have?" The words were more desperate than angry. "I don't believe that. I don't believe that you're a girl who would sleep with someone for no reason. I don't believe that you're able to just not care. And I don't believe that most guys discuss comic books and play hours of video games with a girl when they're just looking to get laid."
Her eyes shifted back and forth, as if she were trying to find an answer, or an escape. “You left the next morning, so you obviously…”
He was shaking his head. “I didn’t just leave, I left you…”
Before he could go on any further, she cut him off. "Look it happened; it was months ago. Why do we have to talk about it? Why do I need to explain this to you now?" Frustrated tears threatened to break from her eyes, but she denied them.
"You don't think I have a right to know?"
It was true, completely. He had a right to know, making her feel obligated to tell him, but she found that she couldn't. Her mouth opened then shut. Still, Jasen didn't push her. For a moment, she stared at the ground, cool air whipping through her hair and across her face. "Kairi, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked, not like that. I swear, I wasn't trying to ruin your night or anything. You were truly amazing up there, and I should be congratulating..."
"You do," she finally said, looking him in the eye and stopping his words. "You do have a right to know, but... I don't want to explain it while standing in an alley way."
To her surprise he was nodding, a gentle expression on his face. "You're right. Let me give you a ride home, and I promise not to make you tell me anything. I would like an answer, but only when you're ready." Her eyes were on the ground as she chewed the inside of her bottom lip. Regardless, she nodded.
"One more question, just a simple yes or no. Does anyone know you can do that?"
"Sleep with people?"
He couldn't help but smirk, shaking his head. "Dance."
"No. Just you, I guess. I was helping serve at an event here, once, and was the last one inside cleaning up. I didn’t think anyone was around, so I tried out the stage. One of the event coordinators saw me and said she wouldn’t report me if I helped out with their next benefit. That was a while ago. Every once and I while I get another call asking if I can help. Most of the people who work here don't even know my name."
"And that's the way you like it?" The shy smile that came to her lips was the only answer he needed before he bobbed his head in understanding. "Come on. I'll get you home and out of the cold."
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