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Reality Check

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One of these days, he'll kiss her.

He'll finally break the rules that have held him in check, forgetting that he only allows himself to contemplate this in the dark, or on holidays. He'll lean in, inexorably, inevitably. She'll watch him, blue eyes wide and disbelieving,and he'll gently brush his lips against hers.

Or maybe he'll take her by surprise, because the flow of her words has turned into meaningless babble, and he'll kiss her instead of responding, and the kiss will mean all the obvious things (I love you) (I want you) and several unobvious ones (trust me) (I won't hurt you) (you've been my secret).

By the time he finally gets up his courage, he'll have imagined it a thousand and one times. Kissing her as the first snow of the winter falls around them. Tasting the ever-present coffee on her tongue. Wiping away her tears with his thumb and soothing her sobs with his touch. Backing her against a wall and leaning into her, feeling the heat rush through him like fireworks. Kissing her hand first, mouthing her knuckles and the tips of her fingers until she's shaking.

He'll even have imagined being the startled recipient of her kiss, when she finally opens her eyes and sees what's in front of her, overcoming her fears before he overcomes his doubts.

But he'll never have imagined the way it will actually happen. And once it does, he'll never imagine again, because reality will rob him of the need.

He'll kiss her in the moonlight, and the troubadour will stand behind them and play a love song, the strings of his guitar rippling in the still summer air. He'll kiss her at five in the morning, when she rolls over and accidentally elbows him in the stomach, and he finds he doesn't mind at all. He'll kiss her at midnight on New Year's Eve, as they both close their eyes and offer up a prayer for another year exactly like the one that came before.