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Between the Lines

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Diane emerges from his bathroom wearing nothing but his flannel shirt, lazily buttoned, and he can’t help but stare.

He is aware that he is open-mouthed, googly-eyed, breathlessly staring and he doesn’t even care. Those legs, the way she walks, that completely knowing smirk… And why shouldn’t he stare? This didn’t happen nearly often enough.

This is, in fact, the first time she has stayed over that they had not fallen into bed dead-tired and half-drunk. This time, they had not made it past the first beer before she crawled into his lap there on the couch by the fire. He can’t help but return the smirk at the flash of memory. But it has left them here, now, in this unfamiliar situation.

He has brought out some extra pillows — he doesn’t know how many she likes. He feels silly, but he fluffs them on her side of the bed. He just wants this to be nice for her. He wants it to be right.

He walks back toward the closet for another blanket (she might get cold in the middle of the night; he doesn’t know) and misjudges her movement, bumps into her awkwardly. They stand face to face for a moment, and she laughs softly. “Hello,” she whispers, her voice in its lowest octave — he might have thought it was calculated to drive him insane, but something about it…

Could she feel as uncertain as he did? It seemed impossible, and yet…

Mercifully or cruelly, he isn’t sure which, she pulls his face toward hers and kisses him lightly, lingeringly. It stops his anxious thoughts for a moment, at least.

She breaks away almost shyly then, making her way around the bed toward the left side.

“No, wait—” he reaches out, his fingertips grazing her elbow as she passes.

She whirls around. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing— I thought— I mean, I—” He gestures at the right side of the bed, too embarrassed to complete the sentence. I made that side nice for you.

“Oh,” she raises her eyebrows, confused. “I’m sorry, I thought that was your side — you were…”

She stops, perhaps suddenly understanding.

“Oh. Of course.” She flashes him a smile, moving back around the bed.

“You like the left side,” he smiles back, sheepishly.

“No no, either is fine.”

“But you sleep on the left.”

She looks over at him, biting her lip — to keep from laughing at him, probably. He thinks he should feel embarrassed but he can’t, quite; she is wearing his shirt and nothing else, she hasn’t bothered to fix her mussed hair, and she is biting her lip, staring back at him. She is the sexiest fucking thing.

He sighs. “You can have the left side.”

“No! Of course not, it’s your house, Kurt.”

“Yeah, but now I’m going to feel bad.”

“Oh my goodness, why?” She does, then: she laughs at him, and tries to suppress it.

“Forget it.” He shakes his head, runs a hand through his hair. This was so much easier after they’d had a few more drinks. “Do you want another blanket?”

“No, I think this will be perfect.” She has stopped laughing, perhaps just to be kind, slipping under the sheets on the right side.

“Okay.” He walks around to the left, as if finally admitting defeat. He gets into bed beside her, painfully conscious of how strange this is.

She reaches behind her, removing one of the extra pillows, letting it fall to the floor.

He frowns slightly. She must think he’s ridiculous. Who needs three pillows?

She rolls onto her side, facing him. And she smiles. Not the smirk that drives him wild, not the teasing smile that makes him feel sillier than he ever imagined he could. It’s that rare, deep and resonant smile that lights up her whole face, that has no agenda, that makes him almost blurt out the words he’s starting to suspect are true.

He reaches out to turn off the light instead, and settles down beside her.

“Comfortable?” he asks.

“Mmmhmm.” She slips her arm around his waist, pulling herself a bit closer. “The right side isn’t so bad.”

“No?” He brushes her hair from her forehead, letting his hand rest on her neck.

“I like the view from over here.”

The smirk is back, and everything that comes with it. She leans in to kiss him, now with definite intent. He pulls her closer still and suddenly everything feels right.