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Untouchable Face

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Jake can't lie to himself about this. Well, why would he even want to? This is everything he's been wanting. So maybe he wants to lie to himself about this. Whatever, it's not relevant.

Leslie's face tonight—what a face, and it was sending him all kinds of signals. That face of hers can tell a thousand stories, but tonight he is convinced it was at least whispering, Kiss me, Jake. Right? Did you see it? Well, no, you didn't, but he's pretty sure about that.

It was at least saying, Jake, we need to talk about things that my face is doing, which he'll take, but he's a little more into the other option.

So he shows up at her door, and he's done this once before, and he remembers it well. He knocks and she opens the door readily, still dressed for work but barefoot.

And like that time before, he flies on wings and a prayer and he simply steps forward, invades her space, giving her time to move away. She doesn't, but her face is a challenge now, saying, Really, Jake? You really think so? and yeah, he really does, so he bends to her and kisses her. His hands come up on either side of her face, holding her gently still, and he kisses her like nothing of the past four months has happened at all.

And she doesn't push him away. And she doesn't fight him. And she kisses him back, with an urgency that is either very good or very bad.

When they separate, when Jake tips his head back and looks at her face, still between his hands, it is pink as ever and saying, well, if a face could be speechless, that would be it.

He waits to see what her mouth will have to say about it.

They're both breathing a little hard, and finally Jake says, "That was a long time coming, don't you think?"

Leslie gives him a look (it says, Don't you be smart about this, Jake Doyle) and says, "Let's go inside."

She seats him on the couch and brings them glasses of water and then sits down beside him, shuffling back into the corner of the couch so she can cradle her glass of water and put her knees up in front of her.

The first thing she says is, "You're seeing Jess."

"No." Jake laughs. "I'm not."

"She thinks—"

"She thinks no such thing, Leslie. Trust me, we've had that talk."

She narrows her eyes at him, brow furrowing slightly, and it just says, I want to blame you for something, Jake.

"Yeah," Jake says, and makes a slow but very smooth move over to the other side of the couch. He leans over her and tips her chin up with the tips of his fingers. He kisses her again, quiet and deep, and she lets her knees drop away, lets him settle on top of her in the niche of the couch.

She melts under him, puts up less than no resistance, and they fit together like they always have.

But he has to pull back, just a little, to see her face. Her eyes are closed, chin tilted up, the flush clinging to her skin. The flush goes down her neck and under her shirt and he, very gently, runs his finger along the neckline of her shirt. She opens her eyes, slowly, and blinks calmly at him, her face saying, I'm not going to fight you on this, Jake.

"This is okay?" he says.

She closes her eyes again, tips her head back, and sighs deeply. "Yeah, Jake, it's okay."

That's not quite as enthusiastic as he would like, so he kisses her again, feels the immediate reaction in her body. Her face lifts to his, her hands grip the sides of her shirt, and her body presses into his.

And he knows, maybe she would let him stay the night. Tonight isn't the right time. He needs to leave her wanting more. So he kisses her, he kisses her, he kisses her, but he pulls away a little bit each time until he's kneeling beside the couch on the floor. She opens her eyes almost drowsily and says, "Where you going?"

"I gotta go, Leslie," he says softly.

She frowns, her face saying, You're making a big mistake.

"I can come back," and her eyebrows go up. "If you want… to be my girlfriend."

The trepidation that takes her face immediately gives Jake a stomach ache, but he smiles through it.

"I'll let you think about that. Take your time, Leslie. I just wanted you to know the lay of the land."

She sits up, pulls back into herself, straightens her clothes, and then stands to show Jake to the door. Her face has closed down, showing her poker face, her work face, her this-is-not-for-Jake face, but Jake is determined to get her to smile. At the door, before he reaches for the knob, he turns and dips to kiss her, and she can't help but smile at the sloppy terrible aim that turns into a nice kiss somehow.

"Okay, okay," she says, just the hint of that smile still on her face. "Get out of here if you're going."

On the step, Jake turns to grin at her. She shakes her head, trying not to smile.

"I'll call you."

"Just me?" she says, and Jake grins harder.

"We'll see." He points at her, cheesy, and walks away.