Surprisingly, David ended up sleeping in the guest room; I slept in with Jess (not in the same bed; she had a hideaway). Unfortunately or fortunately; I couldn't decide. I still felt like I was imposing, and kicking David out—I could only assume that they would share a bed otherwise—seemed even worse. But he didn't even let me protest too much, so I didn't know what to do.

Couldn't get to sleep that night, of course. I mean, I was in Jess' room. Not five feet from her. Which makes me sound like a total creeper, but it wasn't like I was going to do anything. Anyway, she wasn't sleeping, either—her breathing hadn't levelled out. Again, not trying to sound like a creeper, but when it was silent other than our breathing, well, it was kind of noticeable. Okay, I sound like a creeper. Fuck. Anyway.

Jess propped herself up on her elbow after a while, looking over at me with a rueful grin that I could see in the half-light of the room (there was a streetlamp right outside the window and the shades were quite opaque enough to block it out). "I don't know if it's the promise of shopping tomorrow or what, but I'm being especially insomniac tonight—you mind if I put music on?"

I matched her small smile with one of my own. "I'm not sleeping either, so no, go ahead."

Jess paused. "On second thought…" She bit her lower lip, clearly thinking something over. "You know," she said slowly, "there is one thing that always puts me right to sleep."

"If you're going to say, sex with David, I'm going to point out to you that I wasn't the one who determined the sleeping arrangements." I sounded irritable to my own ears—the tone, more than what I said, made me embarrassed and caused me to flush. "Sorry, that was uncalled for. You want me to go swap out with him."

Jess gaped at me for a long moment then burst out laughing. And laughed for a very long time. And every time she started to wind down, she'd crack up again. Finally, she sobered. "Christ, you think David-" She took a deep breath, clearly trying not to start cackling again. "David and I-" She snickered and took another deep breath. "Fortunately, sex with David isn't the only surefire way to put me to sleep, because I really doubt he'd stand for that."

I raised an eyebrow at her, the darkness and maybe my half-asleep state making me bold. "He doesn't strike me as the prudish type—he hasn't taken a vow of chastity, has he?"

"Of course not!"

"But he doesn't sleep with his girl?" I asked, confused. She was making it seem like I was foolish that I would think he would sleep with her—but we were high schoolers, weren't we? Wasn't that what most high schoolers did?

"With his-" Jess began laughing again, even harder this time. It took her less time to calm down again, thankfully, because I was feeling like an idiot.

"Sorry, forget that I asked," I muttered. "I mean, it's none of my business anyway."

"He might kill me for saying this, but David's definitely gay, love—he's been trying to keep it from you, God knows why since you're gay as well and definitely not the type to beat him up over it, or spread it, for that matter. But he's definitely, definitely gay." She snickered again. "And you thought the two of us were…" She shook her head. "Christ, I can't even fathom it."

I frowned, not believing my ears. "David's…gay?"

"Oh yes. Very, very gay. To the point where the thought of dating a girl—just going on one date with a girl—makes him physically ill. Well, maybe that's a little extreme, but any intimate contact? That's enough to make him sick." She shook her head again. "So this whole time, you thought he and I were together?"

I shrugged. "You're together all the time. You bicker like a married couple."

"More like squabbling siblings."

"Is that why his parents kicked him out, then?" I asked, even though I knew it wasn't my place.

"Yep," Jess said, sighing and flopping back on her bed. "Among a couple other reasons that I—no offence—am not getting into with you, but yeah. Mostly because of that. Was the scissors that cut the fuse or something. I don't know, I'm bad at analogies—you're the English freak."

"So what is the one thing that's basically guaranteed to put you to sleep?" I asked carefully, thinking that the subject could do with some changing. Now that I knew David wasn't something I needed to worry about. My brain was basically going into overdrive, imagining—well. Imagining that we could… That she might…

"Well," Jess said, pushing herself back up so she could look over at me, a small smile tugging at her lips. She cocked her head to the side. "Are you sure you want to know?"

"I don't know," I answered, amused. "You'd know better than I would."

"Snuggling and watching a movie," Jess said, voice rushed like she was almost embarrassed.

For my part, I felt like I could hardly breathe. Jess wanted to…snuggle with me? "Um," I said, rather eloquently.

"I know you probably think it's awkward since, I mean, I hardly know you, but. I mean, just. Um." She shook her head and fell back on the bed, folding her arms behind her head. "Sorry, it was stupid; forget I said it, if you'd rather."

"You do realize I'm gay, right?" I blurted. Regreted it instantly, of course, because it was a stupid thing to say and guaranteed to make things awkward.

There was a long pause, and my face turned about ten thousand shades of red. "Is that all?" Jess asked. "I mean, I thought you were going to object with something that had a point." She was back up on her elbow again, looking down at me. Smirking, almost. "I honestly could care less. So, you wanna watch a movie?"

Could I trust myself to snuggle with her? Especially now I knew she didn't have a boyfriend? Then again, what was I going to do, with a movie on? I mean, that sounds stupid, but I've never really been the type to be forward about that kind of thing and the movie on would distract me, probably. Hopefully.

On the other hand, if something were to happen… She would tell the whole school. Or she could, anyway, and that was the principle of the thing. No, this would be a stupid idea. She had too much she could blackmail me with. Not that I really thought she would use those things against me, but the fact that she could… I mean, how well did I really know her? I never would have expected my mother to have a problem with my sexuality; could I trust Jess not to blackmail me, if I didn't even know my mother well enough to guess her actions?

"Again, it was a stupid idea," Jess said, rolling back over.

And she sounded so dejected that the next thing I knew, I was saying, "What movie?"

Jess looked like the cat that had got the cream; she launched herself out of the bed and toward the cabinet across from the bed, opening it to reveal a nice television and DVD player. She began digging through a stack of DVDs and pulled one out. She looked sheepishly over her shoulder at me as she loaded it. "All I've got are chick-flicks—this is probably going to be about the worst movie you ever saw, but."

I snorted. "I've got two younger siblings; it's got to be better than what I see at home."

She smiled broadly. "Point." She hopped back on her bed and cocked her head to the side again as she contemplated me. "You coming up here, or…?"

I bit my lip, still not sure this was such a good idea, then crawled over onto her bed. She leaned back against the pillows and pulled me back against her, wrapping her arms loosely around me and resting her cheek against my head.

"Mmm, you're warm," she murmured.

I blushed brilliantly. "Um."

"One thing I have to warn you about: I hate it when people talk during movies. Well, not really hate it, but it's hard for me to follow along. Although I guess I'm planning on following asleep, anyway, so it doesn't really matter whether I'm paying attention or not. Anyway." She aimed the remote at the screen and started the movie, which effectively ended conversation. Thankfully, because I was still trying to adjust to the position; I couldn't form a coherent thought inside my mind, much less communicate it out.

When I woke up, Jess' still had an arm slung across my waist, but we were facing one another now, and our legs were tangled together. I blushed brilliantly but didn't move yet, for fear of waking her. And she looked so peaceful, so beautiful that she made my heart ache. I didn't know if I was going to be able to keep staying with her, for pure fact that I didn't know that I could keep my hands off her. Hard enough at school, hard enough when she was teaching me how to dance; this was a ridiculous prospect. Even if I never shared a bed with her again, just thinking about how close she was going to be would be enough to do me in.

I sighed just as the door opened. "Rise and shine, birdies!" David said. He paused, and I could tell he was smirking when he said, "Well, what do we have going on here?" At least I knew he wasn't going to be the jealous boyfriend; I didn't need that right then. Or ever, but especially not then.

Jess' eyes opened and she smiled blearily at me before looking over at David. "Mornin', love. Couldn't wait to go shopping or what?"

"Actually, your lovely mom made us waffles, and she instructed me to wake you up so you could eat them before they get cold. Because you know they taste like shit when they're microwaved and all. Not to mention the fact that school starts in a little over an hour and you're giving me a ride, so I'd kind of appreciate it if you were on time, for once."

Jess sighed, and some of her hair blew up in front of her face. I couldn't resist brushing it back behind her ear; while I was embarrassed at my action, she smiled almost shyly at me before looking back at David. "Tell her we'll be down in a minute. I need to brush out my hair."

David winked at her and flounced out, shutting the door carefully behind himself—and when I say "flounced," I literally mean it.

Jess groaned and rolled on her back, pressing both hands to her face. "He's far too chipper in the morning. It is still morning, right?" She peered over at the clock. "God, it's only seven!" She looked sidelong at me. "You're more than welcome to go back to sleep, if you want."

I shrugged. "We've got school."

"Oh, duh. For some reason, it feels like a Saturday. Anyway." She yawned and sat up, dragging a hand through her hand and staring blankly at the television for a moment—it was still displaying the DVD menu. "We both must have conked out during the movie, I guess."

"Yeah, evidently, your plan worked."

"Always a plus." Jess stood and stretched, and I had to look away. "Best not keep Mom waiting—she's likely to send David back up here, and then we'll have to listen to David bitch all day about how he got torn away from his waffles." Even though she had said she was going to brush her hair, she started out the door, and I trailed behind her down to the kitchen.

That afternoon, we went dress shopping at a little boutique in the city that David knew of (the place where he claimed the "perfect" dress was). The shopkeeper greeted David by name and everything, so I had to figure he was there a lot. And now that I watched him closely (and now I knew he was interested in men, I guess), I could figure out why: he and the shopkeeper flirted for about the entire time Jess and I were trying on dresses.

Which, I might add, was a very long time. I grabbed the first dress I tried on, the teal dress David had picked out. It looked fine, it fit fine, it didn't cost too much, whatever. It wasn't like anyone was going to see it, since I still wasn't planning on going to the dance.

Jess, on the other hand, tried on half the things in the store. And then tried on most of the things in the store. And then tried on half of the things in the store a second time. Not that I really minded watching her twirl around in them (she looked beautiful, I might add), but I've never been much of a shopper. I mean, I like the thrift stores all right, but other than that, well. I couldn't see why she was obsessing as much as she was, but to each her own.

Finally, she got this little yellow halter dress with lots of added sparkles and stuff (the thing shed as she walked around). I wanted to say she looked cute, but she looked too hot to be just cute, but she looked too cute to be hot. Of course, I wasn't supposed to tell her she looked hot, so it was good that I could tell her she looked cute. And it would stand out, which was the great thing about all of the colours of the dresses in the store (no black or red, here), and she was meant to stand out.

"Can we go ice skating while we're in the city?" David asked plaintively as Jess was paying. He was shooting looks at the shopkeeper, and I couldn't help but to think that he was trying to…well, not double-date, since Jess and I obviously wouldn't be on a date, but something similar to it.

Jess rolled her eyes. "How did I know you were going to ask that? I feel like every time we come into the city, we end up ice skating halfway to dawn. We have school tomorrow."

"You can't blow off one day of school? Don't you have, like, perfect attendance?" David whined.

Jess snorted. "As if. But then again, when have I ever minded missing school?" She sighed and looked at me. "Lizzy, play the part of parent, here?"

I raised an eyebrow at her. "I honestly could care less, though." I hadn't been ice skating in years. Probably wouldn't be able to keep my balance. But thinking of seeing Jess on skates… If she skated the way she danced, well. It would be amazing. Not that I thought she would, necessarily, because I know they're two entirely different things, but still, she had to be graceful.

"See," David said, sticking a tongue out at Jess, "no objections. So we'll go?"

"You're just lucky I brought my skates," Jess sighed, even though I could tell she wasn't actually put out by the idea. Was amused by it, actually.

"I don't have skates," I said with a frown.

And this was where the shopkeeper—Trevor, his nametag said—came in. "I've got a friend who rents them—I'm closing up right now; if you wait a couple minutes, I could walk over with you guys."

Jess rolled her eyes; David thanked him and told him what a help it would be. As if they didn't rent skates right by the rinks or anything. Although his friend apparently rented them for cheaper, but it wasn't that much cheaper. Anyway, since I had already guessed that this was a pseudo-double date, I wasn't surprised. The four of us walked over, David snuggling under Trevor's arm already "for warmth." We got our skates and put them on.

David and Trevor took off first; Jess and I followed a little behind them. I tugged on Jess' sleeve before she could get on the ice. "Uh, Jess?" I asked hesitantly, wobbling even standing on solid, non-slippery ground.

"Hmm?" she asked, looking back. She must have seen something of my fear in my face; she laughed lightly. "You don't know what you're doing, do you?" she asked.

I was only a little offended at her laughter; she didn't mean it that way. "Not at all," I confessed. "I mean, I think the last time I was on skates, I was maybe five and it was for some girl's birthday party. And I think I ended up with some colourful bruises, actually."

Jess snorted. "It's not that bad—it's just like dancing. You just need to know how to keep your balance, and you can do that, right?"

I frowned. "Maybe," I answered uncertainly.

"Here," Jess said, holding out her hand. "I'll lead you, just like I do when we're dancing, okay? I'm not saying I won't let you fall or whatever, because if you go down, I probably will, too, but I'm not going to let you fall as easily."

I bit my lower lip and took her hand. "All right." I allowed her to coax me out onto the ice.

It wasn't so bad, as long as I didn't try to do anything except move forward in a straight line. Actually, even turning wasn't so bad, not after the first couple laps. And Jess lied a little when she said she wouldn't be able to keep me from falling; I guessed it had something to do with her dance stuff, but she was actually pretty good at keeping me on my feet. Which is why suddenly, without warning, I was spinning in a tight circle under her arm.

I stumbled out of the spin and against her, and her arms wrapped around me. "Hey," she said softly.

I snorted. "You do that on purpose?" Then I blushed: why would she have done that on purpose? I was the gay one, here, not her. She probably didn't want me plastered against her like this. With that thought, I started to straighten away from her, but her arms were still around my waist.

"Of course I did that on purpose, silly," she said, and she was so close. My brain hurt a little from trying to both enjoy that she was so close and figure out why she was so close, actually. "Hey, Lizzy?" she asked suddenly.

"Um, yeah?" I asked weakly.

"Have I mentioned that I've got a crush on you?"

That, more than learning that she wasn't with David, took my breath away. It wasn't a panic attack, per se, but the shock was definitely a factor. "Um," I said. Didn't know what to say. Um. Could hardly think. At all. Um.

Jess half-smiled nervously, then leaned down and kissed me lightly. When she pulled back—too soon, far too soon—her eyes were questioning. I had to assume all I was showing her was shock.

"Um," I said again. Had Jess just… Um. Completely bewildered, the only thing I could think to do was to lean against her slightly and kiss her back. Just as lightly, just as hesitantly, because I didn't really know what I was doing, but it got the point across, I guess.

Jess smiled down at me. "That's what I hoped," she said quietly. She nuzzled my cheek lightly. "You want to learn how to dance?"


And that, friends, is the end. I know it seems incredibly half-assed, and I have to apologise for that. And I know I didn't tie up everything I meant to tie up, and I have to apologise for that, as well. And I know it's been an incredibly long time since I last updated, and I apologise for that the most, since this is bullshit-that one, I blame on college. Anyway, here's the thing: this story was started for Alice-she was my inspiration and my muse and all that shit, and whenever I got stuck on the plot, she helped me out. And now she's got bored of me and is fucking other people, and it's damned difficult to write this for her-it's damned difficult to give a fuck about this story. So. There you have it. Apologies, again.

Thanks to all the people who stuck this through and who favourited and reviewed and alerted themselves and etc., etc., etc. I'd go back and make a list, but I'm lazy as fuck and it would be an incredibly long list. Suffice it to say, you know who you are. I hope. Although maybe you no longer remember; it has been a while.

Anyway, last time I'm saying it, this is finished. Thanks.