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The Kissing Game

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Natalie plays this game all the time. She’d hang out with friends and randomly lean in for pretend kisses and it was up to the recipient to back away. None of the guys that overtly had crushes on her even bit the bullet to turn the fake kisses into real ones. It was all fun in games, a quirk everyone in the vlog squad had gotten used to as Natalie had gotten more comfortable around everyone.

Today should’ve been no different.

After finishing a few rounds of meetings at home, Natalie goes to the kitchen to make a protein shake to prepare for her workout. Normally, she did early morning workouts, but today she’d accidentally slept in, so that really sucked.

“Taylor, did you put everything in the dishwasher away? I can’t find the damn bottle.” She sighs and walks around.

 Taylor replies, “Oh, it wasn’t in the dishwasher. I think it’s…” She points at the table, “There.” She grins and brings the used bottle to Natalie. “I can wash it for you if you wanna finish getting ready.”

“Oh my god, no. That’s okay, I can do it.” Natalie smiles at her. What would she and David do without her? She cleans out the bottle and preps her protein powder, then goes and gets ready for the gym.

David, editing on his laptop, looks up at Natalie. “Can you get me Chipotle on the way back?” He grins innocently.

Natalie just narrows her eyes and keeps them locked on his as she walks. They enter a silent staring contest as she walks from the bedroom to the table where her keys were.

David stands and walks after her, determined to win.

She glares and walks backwards. “You’re not winning, David. And I’m not getting you Chipotle.” Because she’d be tempted to get a donut from the bakery next door, and she was not going to do that!

David just follows. “Fine, I’ll ask Taylor.” He grins and erupts into laughter as Natalie trips and falls. “I win!!!!”

Natalie screams as she falls over the pot and scrapes her arm. She glares at him. “Whatever. Fuck you, Dave.” She checks her elbow and arm. Damnit, it was bleeding. She shoves past him and grabs a couple of bandaids before going to her Mercedes and driving away.

David cringes and runs a hand through his hair. In hindsight, he probably should’ve helped her up. Also, he probably should’ve warned her… but, she lived here, she should’ve also known there was a potted plant there. So really, whose fault was it? “Whoops… Sorry, Nat.” But it was too late; she’d stormed and driven away.

Later on, Natalie comes back from her workout and ignores David.

Jeff looks at Natalie and then at David. “It’s 1 pm dude, how’d you already piss Natalie off?”

“I won a staring contest.”

“And let me trip!” Natalie shouts from her room, slamming the door shut.

“Right,” Jeff murmurs. He goes to the kitchen to grab a water bottle to distract himself from thinking about Natalie in the shower.

Soon later, Natalie comes out in athleisure and plops down on the couch next to David. She shoves him over and takes some of the blanket and opens up Instagram. The pain in her arm had been masked by her muscles burning, so she was kind of over David’s stupidity of the morning.  She curls into a ball and listens as David gets up to grab the whiteboard from his room.

“Alright guys, time to plan for New Year’s. What’s the plan.” David pops off the marker and scratches his scruff. He hadn’t shaved in two days and it was itchy and annoying, but girls went wild over it on Instagram, so he’d endure it for another day or so. Anyways… “Did you guys say anything?” He completely spaced out for a minute.

Natalie laughs. “Oh my god.” She goes to the kitchen and makes herself avocado toast, then stands by the couch and listens to everyone. Jason wanted to stay in LA, Carly and Erin were down for LA, Jeff and Todd wanted Miami, and David was down for whatever would get him the best content.

“Nat, what do you wanna do?” David points the marker at her.  “Miami, LA, or Hawaii?”

She covers her mouth as she chews and talks, “Umm… Miami sounds like it’d be a lot of fun, actually.” She finishes her food and puts it in the dishwasher and walks over to David, looking at the names and where they were. “Actually… It seems like the more fun crew is gonna be in LA.” Everyone cheers and laughs at Natalie as she continues, “So I think I’m gonna stay.”

David cackles and erases her name and puts it under the LA column. “Alright, damn Natalie! Okay well if Natalie’s going to be in LA, I’m staying here too.”

Jeff cat call whistles. “Ooooh, so Dave’s just going to follow wherever his Natalie goes, huh?” He nudges the guys and laughs.

Jason cackles, “You know David can’t function more than 3 days without her. Don’t bring it up to him, he’s insecure about it.” Everyone laughs even harder.

Natalie claps her hand together and bats her lashes at David. “Can you blame him though?” She cracks a pretty smile at him.

David pulls a cute, dorky face at her. “Ha ha HA. I so CAN live without you.”  He pokes her with the cap end of the marker. “I just choose not to.” That came out way more sentimental than he intended. Whoops.

Everyone in the room awws and coos at David. “Awwwwwww, I almost forgot these two actually like each other,” Zane says between laughs.

Natalie giggles and puckers her lips and leans in for one of her famous fake—

Kiss.

A kiss that definitely just happened.

Her lips were pressed against David’s.

Right now.

Holy shit.

What?

She pulls away and her and David look equally stunned at each other.

Everyone was silent, cameras pointed at them.

David immediately commands his crew, “Don’t even think about putting those in any of your fucking vlogs.” He points his marker at every single person whose camera was on them. “This didn’t happen.”

Natalie was still stunned, even as Jason comments, “Well shit, I don’t remember that being on today’s agenda.” Everyone awkwardly laughs, but it wasn’t enough. Jason continues, “So, is it my turn to kiss David now?”

Natalie snaps out of it and just sits down and distracts herself on her phone.

David runs a hand through his hair and laughs awkwardly. “Sure, Jay. Come on over.” He blows a kiss and then goes back to the whiteboard.

No one mentions ‘it’ after that moment.

The night comes and goes. Another night, another set of parties. Many shots. Zane nearly dislocating his hip(?!). Jeff, Ilya, and Toddy endlessly hitting on Natalie. Jeff leaving early because he missed his dog and needed to wake up early for his morning workout. Todd actually hooking up with Corinna. Jason trying to walk around in heels and falling and snapping his ankle—probably.

It’s 3 am and Natalie and David are in the ER with Jason, whose ankle is completely wrapped in ice while waiting for the x-rays to come back. Natalie was still a little drunk, but coming down quickly. David wasn’t drunk at all, and the only one sober enough to actually drive to the ER.

Natalie doesn’t say anything. She hadn’t talked to David all day. Why was she even here? Oh right, Jason was one of her best friends. She contemplates the price of an IV hangover cure. Hmm…

David leans back and vlogs Jason. “So this idiot snapped his ankle literally in half. We’re just waiting for the X-ray to come back.” He pans the camera to Natalie and stops recording. “Oh my god, don’t tell me you’re still mad at me.”

 “You kissed me, David.” She glares at him. “What the fuck.”

David just looks confused and Jason interjects, “Actually, from my vlog footage… Natalie, you kissed HIM.”  Jason laughs. “Did you take some of my morphine, Natalie? Cause you sound a little high.” He pretends to take out his IV. It wasn’t even morphine they gave him; it was just a vitamin bag to help balance his electrolytes.

Natalie scowls. “Whatever. You know I pretend to kiss everyone… You should’ve pulled away.” It was drunk her talking.

David turns off his camera and leans forward. “You caught me off guard. Really.” Well, mostly. Yeah, no, definitely… Definitely. “You really think I wanted to kiss you? Please.”

Jason silently vlogs the two of them, panning back and forth between the three of them. Panning to drunk, grumpy faced Natalie. Panning to David, glasses on, hood up, looking like a regular guy. Panning to himself, coyly smiling and wiggling his eyebrows. None of this would see the lights of YouTube, but it was still something fun to keep in his hard drive.

Natalie glares right back at David, then turns her attention to Jason.

Jason blinks. Oh no. He shuts off the camera and holds his hands up in surrender. “Okay, okay. I’ll let you two kids hash this one out. But, if the old man may say – aka me – don’t let this change you guys. You two kids are perfect for each other – friends or family or whatever – so just talk this out like mature adults and move on from this. Because tomorrow’s a new day and the vlog squad just isn’t going to function if David and Natalie aren’t working together. I mean that literally and figuratively.” He puts the camera down and looks at them.

Natalie stands up. “As if David can be mature for one second. Even right now, look at you, oh my god. Can’t even sit still for a minute. I’m calling an Uber.” She stands up and walks out.

David rolls his eyes dramatically and gets up. He walks after her and grabs her arm. “Natalie, chill. Look, fine, whatever. I let you kiss me, okay? Can we not talk about it out here?”  He really didn’t want people listening in on their business. If this got out, he’d literally never hear the end of it.

Natalie crosses her arms. “Fine.” She looks around. Ugh, where was there a private spot in a hospital??? She just walks right back to Jason’s room and points at him, “Pretend you’re not here.”

David tries very hard not to smile or make a joke out of the situation, but instead tries to remind himself Natalie was one of the girls he cared about most in the world and attempts to be mature. He grabs her arms and squeezes. “Okay. So.” He scrunches up his face. “Here’s the truth: I don’t know why I let you kiss me. I don’t know why I didn’t pull away. I just know… I didn’t.” And he kinda liked the kiss. This sucked.

Natalie looks up at him. “No shit. Do you like like me, or something? I thought you got over that when you were 12.”

David pulls at his hair, thinking. “Uh… I mean, no. Not really. I don’t know.” He sees her getting even angrier and tries to save himself. “I mean…” he groans, “Maybe?”

Natalie nearly stomps her foot. “Why do all guys literally suck? Just tell me!”

“I mean, you look great when you dress up. Like, you look really good! Like, holy shit drop dead gorgeous good. And I don’t think that’s really normal for a boss to think of his assistant, let alone one he’s best friends with. And you really fucking annoy me sometimes, but you’re still like… the one person whose opinion I really NEED to hear. Not even want. I need to hear you tell me things.” He continues to ramble, “But it’s not like when I liked Liza—”

Natalie’s face scrunches. What the hell.

“—Not like,” David stops. He makes a face. “Fuck, Natalie. I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m saying. I just don’t want this to change anything. If you want, we can just pretend that today never happened. I won’t even use any footage from today. I’ll tell everyone to do the same if that’s—”

Natalie holds up her hand. “Stop. No, it’s okay.” She knew he was trying and rambling to save himself. “Just shut up, sit down, and let me think.” She sits and rubs her temples. “I’m too sober for this shit.” She sighs deeply and looks at David. Poor kid actually looked worried – as if he’d fucked up everything.

She closes her eyes and continues to rub her temples. She was too mature for this shit, but Jason was right. And so was David… Sort of.

The doctor comes in with the x-ray and explains the situation. Jason was going to get his ankle wrapped for a couple weeks – which would provide great entertainment! – and then he’d be back on his feet.

A couple more hours pass and Jason’s discharged and free to go home. David stands up and nudges Natalie, who had been asleep in her chair. He rubs his nose. “Hey, uh… Let’s get the car.”

Natalie grumbles and wakes, opening an eye and looking at David. “Sure.” She gets up and yawns, walking with him. She crosses her arms and walks silently.

David didn’t like the silence. Not at all. He wanted to talk to someone—anyone. Especially Natalie. “So… about that kiss, eh?”

Natalie looks at him, stops in her tracks, and then starts laughing. She snorts a little and shakes her head and continues to walk again. “Oh my god, Dave. Shut the fuck up.” She giggles as she walks to the car and pays for the parking. “I’m over it. Whatever. Just… whatever. Just drive us home.”

David smiles at her and bites his lip anxiously. “Really? Cool, okay. Nice.” He taps his chin and looks at her.

Natalie looks at him, then smiles. “Maybe I overreacted, today. I’m sorry. I uh… Didn’t mind it, I guess.” She quickly touches his hand and just like that she’s not touching it. “You’re just the first guy that didn’t pull away.”

David licks his lips. “And if I played the game now, would you pull away?”

Natalie blinks. “Wh-what?”

He takes his chance and leans over, planting one right on her lips. He cups her chin and is almost prepared for Natalie to straight up deck him.

What he’s not prepared for, however, is for Natalie to actually respond and start making out with him. And they make out, alright. They make out for what feels like an hour.

The only thing that tears them apart is David’s ringtone blaring. He jumps apart and his voice cracks as he answers, “Coming, Kay. I mean Jay.” He wipes his face and whips out of the parking spot.

Natalie sucks her bottom lip and stays silent. Her mind was going a million miles an hour. What the literal fuck had they just done? She gulps and sees Jason outside, looking pathetic on his crutches.

“Get in, loser! We’re going home.” David grins at Jason. Just like that, David Dobrik, Vlog Squad God, was back. He flips on the camera and starts his bits.

Once Jason is back home, David drives home. The silence becomes awkward. He taps his fingers on the steering wheel, then creeps his right hand over to Natalie’s and taps his fingers on her hand. He grins, but doesn’t look at her.

Natalie looks down at their hands and then at David. “Really.” If she held his hand, it’d definitely change their relationship—work, personal—forever. If she didn’t hold his hand, maybe they could just pretend this entire day never happened, like David had promised earlier. She turns her hand around so David’s tapping fingers can finally still and hold onto her hand.

She says nothing.

David stays grinning.

They silently pull into the driveway.