Taylor's not sure who tells her John's in town, after—maybe it's more than one person. It could be an interviewer. It could be her gut.
Maybe she only ends up at his apartment because she wants to get away from everything, just for a few minutes, and she remembers the address, finds it so easy—what if it's a sign, what if it says you're doing the right thing, the way it is so easy to get there, no time for freak-outs or wanting to back down—to hail a cab and give out that address.
She's had a couple of drinks—being old enough to drink legally is new and she kind of feels like she should make the most of it, even though she still grimaces every other sip, no matter what she orders. She's not sure she even wants to like it enough to force herself through warming up to the taste and the burn and the—the taste, really, she just doesn't get why anyone would drink anything alcoholic when fruity virgin cocktails exist. The alcohol just ruins the deliciousness.
She'll probably be over the newness of ordering those drinks without fear or guilt by next week. She'll forget what was so cool about it.
She keeps forgetting things.
"Hey," she says when he opens the door, "can I—" She gestures in the general direction of inside, gaze fixed on him. She's familiar with this place, this particular spot, standing on the mat outside his door and waiting to be let in, even though it's been almost a year since the last time that happened. He gave her a key, after a while. She's pretty sure she never gave it back.
"Sure," he says quickly, shaking his head a little, like that'll make the surprise in his eyes fall off.
She shuffles her feet as she walks in, heels screeching on the hardwood until she reaches the carpeted part of his living room. She shrugs off her coat, and her fingers fidget in her gloves, first, then as she takes those off too.
His apartment looks about the same as the last time she was here. Maybe a little less messy, which is—confusing, because, on the one hand, it could be her fault, it could be that she left some kind of lingering tidiness in the air. On the other hand, it was never this organized and relatively void of out-of-place stuff when he knew she was coming over, and clearly it could have been. He could have made the effort and he didn't.
It also looks bigger. Roomier. But she knows that's just her, just a shift in perspective.
"Are you hungry? Do you want something to drink?"
"I'm not really—" she begins; she means to say I didn't really come here for a specific reason, or I'm not really sure why I'm here, but I'm fine. She knows better than to think she's capable of asking for a serious conversation, even hypothetically. But what comes out is, "—here," and it's a gasp, a realization that makes her eyes widen and makes her say, again, "I'm not really here," in a rushed breath.
"You kind of are," John points out, and she shakes her head because logic, who wants that? She laughs at herself and watches him stride calmly across the room. "If I ask what you're doing here, are you going to answer or just fight me on it?"
She cocks her head and looks around, lips pursed. "Neither." In the process of saying that word, she takes a step forward, and suddenly John's right there, close enough to touch. She's not thinking about it when she reaches for him, when she rolls the hem of his t-shirt around her finger. Instead, she's thinking about all the accusations she threw around the last time she was here. And the last time they held a conversation on the phone for longer than thirty seconds. "Because I'm not here," she repeats, and bites her lip.
"You're—" he begins, then takes a look at her face. Realization washes over him then, mostly negative, which she should maybe take badly, just as she should take it badly when he says, "Oh, boy," like something's really, really wrong. The thing is, he's still here.
He's not batting her hands off.
He's not stepping away.
He doesn't stop her when she kisses him, either; in fact, his hands immediately go to her waist and she opens her mouth by accident, seriously, totally an accident.
It's all downhill from there.
"You're not drunk, are you?" he asks. He sounds mostly concerned; Taylor guesses he was maybe going for detached, too, but he completely fails at it.
"Do I taste drunk?" she says, a little surprised. He frowns. Okay, that was a ridiculous thing to say, if her mouth tastes like anything, it'll be the iced coffee she drank in the cab.
"Are you going to regret this?" he asks, slowly, and she laughs again.
"Oh, god," she says, wheezing, "yes, I am—yes," and her stomach feels tight as she tries to rein the laughter in, and at some point he gives up and slips his hands down the back of her skirt and surprises her into seriousness. "Yeah," she breathes out, slow this time, and then she's kissing him again, holding onto his arms and dragging him towards his bedroom.
They haven't really talked in months. This is the worst thing any of them could possibly do, and she's doing it. She's doing it, and she's pushing him to reciprocate, and this is the worst thing ever, this is the break-up sex she swore to herself she would never, ever have, and she wants it so bad she doesn't even care.
It doesn't even cross her mind that she's sort of cheating her on her sort of boyfriend until John's hands are pushing her shirt up and unclasping her bra and she thinks, I'm really doing this, and she thinks, Oh, God, what about Jake, and she thinks, Feel bad, feel bad, feel bad but she doesn't feel bad.
It just doesn't feel like a terrible thing at all; her and Jake—she likes him, she does, and she's flattered he wants to spend time with her, she was incredibly flattered when he kissed her, but they have nothing in common, they're like—they have fun, and she tries, she listens and she tries to build a common ground, but it doesn't—it's different. And there's so much she hadn't realized she'd taught John until now, until she's stumbling back onto his bed, wrapping her legs around his knees and pulling him down with her.
There's so much she doesn't want to teach anyone else, that she doesn't want anyone else to learn about her because it's embarrassing, embarrassing to let someone know she needs them to stop being careful with her. It's not even—she went through that process with John, once, and it stuck, and maybe the worst part is she hasn't felt like she had to again. No one's made her feel that crazy again.
It's so easy to need it again, to need this—his hands pulling off her bra, his denim-clad knees brushing her ass as he gets rid of her panties without even bothering with her skirt, his fingertips pinching her nipples hard, like he remembers that, he remembers that.
Somewhere in the back of her mind she knows this is a bad idea, but she's a little tired of good ones. She's tired of trying to be strong and pretending she's over him, of pretending she really believes there'll come a day she'll wake up and she won't miss him. She can't remember why she shouldn't get what she needs at a given moment, why it's important to work towards long-term results instead of stay here, undo his belt, open his jeans, seize a moment that's hers for the taking.
Later, after, he steps out for a minute, probably just trying to avoid awkward pillow talk, which Taylor's kind of thankful for, even if a part of her was wishing he'd put himself through it. But that's not—that's not how it is with them, not anymore.
She wouldn't normally get dressed, either, but she does now, and she's trying to locate a missing earring when she sees a glint of metal on his nightstand, behind the lamp. When she looks into it, she realizes the glint belongs to her keys to his apartment, the ones she doesn't remember giving back.
Apparently, she doesn't remember because she didn't give them back; she just left them behind.
The prospect of getting out of here in the morning makes her a little sick, suddenly. She needs to leave. Now. Leave the keys there. They're not hers anymore. It's like officially giving them back, not taking them now that she wants to. Like part of the process of getting over it, even if she doesn't know where to place herself on that timeline—where it starts, where it ends.
By the time she sets foot on the sidewalk, she's regretting tonight already.
She hopes that's a part of the process, too, and not a step back.