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Remember to Breathe

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They do a lot of oral.

Somehow, it feels easier to manage, less a reminder of being just fuckbuddies if they never actually fuck. A lie of omission, barely paper thin, for the way it manages to behave like love.

When Troy left for ACRA, the emptiness had produced a strange mix of nightly beers and commiseration over movies—a perfect storm of codependence and newfound privacy that left them kissing through credit rolls twice that week. Afterwards, they mentioned it, and yet didn’t. A few overcompensating smiles and the implicit silence would sweep it away soon enough.


…By now, they were practiced at being this ‘nothing’.


Such a nothing were they, that he liked very much to make the stupid buttered noodles that they’d eat together—not because she particularly enjoyed them, but because she liked him enough to pretend, and that felt good.

Such a nothing were they, that there still hung a black vest in her closet, cleaned carefully of its orange paint and kept pressed in case of—what? In case fiction afforded her another step into his closed-off heart?

The truth is stranger than fiction.


One night, she let their pasta sauce burn on the stovetop as she ventured to kiss him in the kitchen, seeking once and for all to know a sober and unimprovised version of the boy. Abed was nothing if not cautious, but the clasp of their hands said that he was there—that the press of his kiss, far gentler and more candid, was all his own. The oven ring was left to cool, dulling to black as they stumbled to her bedroom.

It’s fine, it’s all fine. They’re supposed to get comfortable winging it, right? So what if they’re jumping a column?


So over the coming weeks, they do a lot of oral. He goes down on her and knows how to make her come, from the first purse of his lips upon her inner thigh to the stroking of his long fingers inside her, finishing her as she shuts her eyes against the rush of bliss. When he knows she can’t see, his dark eyes watch her face like it’s a source of light.

Abed, Abed.

She sighs his name and sounds so sweet when she asks for a kiss, like she doesn’t know if they’re just playing, if they’re allowed.

One kiss tonight, that’s all—a soft moment of contact that lulls his eyes closed and tingles along his scalp as she threads her fingers into his hair.

Such a little thing makes her happy, and somehow it’s worrying, because Abed isn’t sure he knows what this is—the kissing and the wanting to kiss her just as much. He can’t compartmentalize it anymore, nor can he just leave it alone. He never learned to handle such things, because TV can’t teach everything, not this feeling in his chest as she undoes his pants and guides him to lie back against the pillows.


He watches her face like it’s a source of pain.


He knows the real him is just too different and doesn’t do change. At least when the two of them have other people to be, then the script is all there—but if it’s them, if the characters are Abed and Annie, then Abed must love Annie because the script is becoming all about her now. He watches it all day, typing itself out behind his eyelids, all a rough draft that feels perfect the way it is. Is that love?

His racing thoughts melt away when her lips close around his cock, and he’s so hard, maybe harder than he’s ever been at the feeling of her tongue on him, inexperienced but devoted to his pleasure. She takes her time and never hurts him, resting her free hand on his belly above the place where his guts knot themselves with new emotions—emotions so strong that they might trigger a psychotic episode or a split personality or a nervous fit if they didn’t come in a box labeled Annie Edison.

Annie, Annie.

Remember to breathe.


Annie’s not sure which part she likes better, his or hers, but she’s starting to suspect. The soft sounds that escape him as her mouth drives him mad, the gentle rolling of his hips that he can’t stop as he gets closer—it’s all a test she’s passing, one that says she has an effect on him, that maybe she can start a momentum between them that will last longer than a hit movie scene. Is that what I want?

‘It’s stupid, it’s just physical, it feels good not to have to feel anything more than this’—All mantras of a girl keeping a safe distance from deeper attachment. She almost has herself convinced for the night until his hand gently cups her face, and with the stroke of his thumb across her cheek, her white lie fades to black.


“Stop,” He says suddenly, panting from just how close he is to the edge. She lets him go, watching as he dribbles precum onto her hand and with deep breaths, tries to keep from coming—



She kisses his hip as she waits for an explanation, but she’s fairly sure she knows. There’s something intense at work behind his eyes as he looks at her, accidentally expressed by a clench of the jaw and the way his lips try to form words.

In the next moment, there’s a hand lifting hers from its place upon his stomach, guiding it upwards and encouraging the migration of her body up his torso. Their bellies press together as she settles on top and kisses him without asking, as deep as the angle will permit. The clumsy knock of their teeth, the puffing of their breath, the awkward press of his nose into her cheek—somehow, it’s wonderful.


Not Hollywood, not screen-worthy, just them.

Remember to breathe.


Just one more kiss for tonight, and then one more—until they’ve been lying entwined long enough that they’re not winging it anymore, but carrying it forward, forward to her needy gasps and his deep groan as he finally slips inside her. She shivers through every cell and blushes crimson as he holds her close.

The rough draft is penning itself right before their eyes—scary for the reality of it, for the terrible importance of needing someone this way, and the pleasure they’ve never felt so deeply.

Maybe the fear is part of it.

When they come together and lie catching their breath in a tangle of sheets, it still doesn’t make much more sense. She keeps him in a hug and squirms the blanket over them, and he lets himself softly pet the back of her head. It’s fine, it’s all fine, they’re allowed.

The scene is over, the credits roll. It seems just like real life for the way this manages to feel like love.