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The Game Changer

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"Ok, seriously, what is going on?" P.J. asked, unable to ignore Brendan's weird attitude any longer.

"Nothing..." Brendan shrugged, still pretending like everything was normal between them.

"Really?" P.J. challenged, "Because it just seems like ever since we told everyone that we made out in college, that you have completely disappeared on me."

Brendan squirmed uncomfortably like a kid who needed to pee ten minutes ago, a his face constipated with all the words he'd been holding back. P.J. briefly wondered if she'd regret pushing him to talk to her like this; if she really wanted to hear whatever it was that he wasn't saying. Is it really that bad?

"All right." Brendan sighed, his eyes closed and half his face hidden behind the hand that was tugging anxiously at his stubble.
"I gotta admit something," he muttered, his look of embarrassed guilt suddenly compounded by a reckless twinkle that P.J. knew too well — only it felt out of place being directed at her like that.

"I did... wassup you." Brendan blurted, his intense eyes promising that there was more at stake than his pride here.

"AAAHHH, COME ON, I KNEW YOU DID!" P.J. exclaimed, pumping her fists in victory.

"I know, I know, I know," Brendan admitted, hiding his face again in a weird show of embarrassment.

"Oh man! Why didn't you just admit it?" P.J. teased.

"Because I felt bad... you know, I was ashamed... it's just such a stupid thing to do." Brendan seemed to deflate with this admission, looking anywhere but at P.J. as he tried to justify his weird lie.

"Brendan, it was a million years ago," P.J. offered, taking pity on him.

"Yeah I know, I know... look. You gotta understand something about what happened back then, all right," he said, throwing P.J. off guard as he looked at her directly again with out-of-place intensity. He must've noticed her discomfort, because he turned his eyes away from hers as he continued, "After we hooked up..." he started awkwardly, "I kinda freaked out." P.J. tried to keep her casual smile in place, wanting him to feel comfortable opening up about what was bothering him even though part of her was afraid to hear it. "I wanted to pursue things," Brendan continued, his vulnerability fully apparent now, "you know, but I didn't know how..."

"...Oh..." was all P.J. could reply as Brendan shifted awkwardly, his eyes scanning her face as he tried to figure out what her curious tone might imply.

"And you were one of my closest friends," he acknowledged, "you know... one of the coolest people I'd ever met... I just... I didn't— I didn't want to ruin the friendship."

"Well why didn't you say that?" P.J. gently chided.

"I don't know," Brendan shrugged, tossing his hands in defeat, "I don't know, I just... was just a kid, I guess." Brendan exhaled heavily as he sunk down onto the arm of the sofa beside him, his shoulders slumping and his eyes downcast as he shyly toyed with his thumbnail. P.J. was compelled to sit beside him as he murmured, "Oh. And..." Brendan snuck a quick look at P.J. before continuing, "the truth is..." he grinned and let out a small, nervous laugh that made P.J.'s calm, assuring smile falter. "I was really into you back then." Brendan had to practically force the words out between his clenched teeth, and looked up with a tense pseudo-smile as a telltale blush spread across his face. P.J. tried to maintain eye contact, but was distracted by an odd fluttering in her stomach. She hoped her small smile didn't look too strange as she glanced up at Brendan again, seeing him nodding in nervous, giddy confirmation of what he'd just admitted. She wasn't sure what to do with her face.

"And, you know," Brendan continued, "to talk about it was strange, you know? It's still... strange."

Yeah. She knew.

P.J. knew she had to say something, so she cooly replied, "It doesn't have to be... I mean, you can tell me anything, you are my best friend..."

Her attempt at a casual tone must've gotten through, because Brendan started returning to his usual, animated self as he replied, "I know, I know. I'm sorry. But I'm glad we're talking about this now, because I don't ever want anything to jeopardize... you know," he mumbled, gesturing between them, "what we have."

Why was he looking at her with a question in his eyes? Was he feeling her out? Testing her response? P.J. decided to keep it cool, still thrown off by the really subtle messages she was half-convinced she was picking up from him. Maybe if I pretend not to notice them, they'll go away, she reasoned.

"Oh, God— nothing could do that," she assured him, surprised by the flash of hope that lit up his eyes. Doesn't he know how important he is to me? "You are one of the most important people in my life. You know that, right?"

Something unidentified flickered across his face then, too quick for her to attempt to name it. He gave a little half smile as she wondered what it had been, nodding as he quietly confirmed, "Yeah, I do."

P.J. awkwardly attempted a friendly nudge to his arm to lighten the mood, eliciting a small laugh from Brendan. "You are never going to let me live this down, are you?" he joked.

"No, I don't really think so," she joked back in a high voice that was supposed to be funny, though she was afraid a small strain of something too close to desperate confusion might've leaked into it. Something was not right with her chest right now. An unfamiliar anxiety had taken up residence inside of her, and she had no idea where it had come from or how to shake it off. She tried to will it away, chalking it up to residual stress from a long, confusing day.

Brendan groaned in mock humiliation, pulling himself up and dragging himself toward his room. P.J. knew she had to keep the mood light, to hide her weird, confusing response to their conversation.

"Skiing? Really? ... seriously?" she mocked.




P.J. let out a laugh laced with a sigh as Brendan shut his bedroom door behind him, effectively ending the uncomfortable conversation. Thank God that was over with. She needed a drink. Heading over to the kitchen with an odd weightlessness to her step (she really had no idea how to interpret the mood she was in), P.J. distractedly glanced at the liquor bottles waiting on the counter. She noncommittally picked up the bottle closest to her and sniffed a discarded tumbler, pretty sure it was clean enough. It didn't matter. She began to pour herself a glass, a distracted smile still lingering on her face when she noticed a hand lightly gripping her elbow. Brendan? Before she could figure out what was happening, he was closing in on her, clearly intent on kissing her. She had a split second to register the look on his face before she was kissing him back. She was kissing him back!



"Skiing? Really? ... seriously?" she mocked.




Brendan shut his door behind him and let his head fall back against it, hoping P.J. couldn't hear the thunk as his cranium met the wood. WHAT had just happened? ...He was pretty sure he'd just admitted that he'd once had a major crush on her — a crush that he'd never managed to completely get over. Well, he hadn't told her about THAT part... Did she know? ...Was it obvious? He felt like it was written all over his face. She had to have seen it... she knew him well enough to recognize something that obvious when it was practically stamped across his forehead in block letters: I'M A LITTLE BIT IN LOVE WITH YOU PEEJ. I mean, come ON! She HAD to know!

What if she didn't, though?

Brendan stifled a groan and scrubbed his hands across his face, feeling the heat radiating from his flushed skin as he dragged his feet over to his bed. He avoided looking at himself in the mirror, not wanting to see how stupid he looked blushing alone in the middle of his bedroom. What a moron. What have I done.

It was too late to take it back, now. It was out there. Maybe he should leave town: just pack a bag with whatever he didn't want to leave behind and make a run for it, start over somewhere else... at least until things had cooled down for awhile, until he and P.J. had forgotten about the whole thing. How long would that be? A few years? Ten? ...Twenty?

Who was he kidding? She'd just said that she wasn't going to let him live this down! Anyhow, he couldn't leave. He needed her. So much. ...Does she even know how much? How much...

Wait, what was it she'd said back there? Something about how important he was to her? What did she mean by that?

There was something else she'd said, too... something important. He jogged his memory to recall the exact words: he'd just told her that he didn't want anything to jeopardize their friendship... only, that wasn't what he'd actually said... what he have. That was it. He'd said that he didn't want anything to jeopardize "what we have," and she'd said... she'd said "nothing could do that." That's exactly what she'd said... nothing... not even...? But what if...

Brendan could feel the manic impulsiveness spreading throughout his bloodstream now; that familiar rush that took over every time he was about to do something completely genius or totally stupid. He licked his lips nervously, his eyes darting around the room as he considered the insanity of what he was about to do. He had to do something; he couldn't just stand here all night feeling like a total doofus! He had to fix this! Or make it worse! Something, anything other than standing around wondering about what could've happened if he'd only had the balls to go through with it.

He turned toward the door, swallowing past the lump in his throat and willing his muscles to relax. He shook out his hands and rolled his shoulders, stretching his neck and trying to force his saliva glands to rehydrate his parched mouth. Fuck, this was a dumb idea. Go time.

As soon as he opened the door, he spotted her in the kitchen. He was doing this. His feet were carrying him across the small space and the next thing he knew, he was turning her around to face him. Now or never...

Brendan felt his stomach drop out from under him as he leaned in and kissed her just like he'd wanted to so many fucking times over so many fucking years of wondering whether or not she'd kiss him back. Her lips were still as soft and perfect as they had been all those years ago, when he'd panicked and changed his mind before he could make a complete fool of himself. For a moment he was lost in that memory from so long ago, as if he'd just traveled back in time and was reliving that near-perfect moment they'd shared together on the side of that house at that college party, with her hands feeling up his chest as he leaned into her, and his hands skimming against the warm skin just beneath the hem of her shirt. But then her hands were against his neck, her fingers threading themselves into his hair as if they couldn't get enough of him, and — dear God — this wasn't college anymore, and they weren't a couple of dumb kids experimenting with relationship boundaries; this was P.J.—Peej—and she was kissing him back like she wanted this as much as he did.

P.J. pressed her mouth even closer to Brendan's as her hands slid down, cupping his head between them as she kissed him for all it was worth, pouring what felt like a lifetime of unresolved feelings into one stolen moment. Brendan went with it, letting her take the lead as his desperate maneuver turned into something much more meaningful in her capable hands. God, it felt good. She could kiss him like that as long as she wanted, as far as he was concerned.

As she broke the kiss, her hands fell away from his neck to rest lightly on his shoulders, and he opened his eyes to find hers still closed, a sweet little smile breaking out across her relaxed features. She looked so beautiful and so happy that Brendan didn't dare move, not wanting to disrupt the moment. He was completely enraptured as her eyes fluttered open, fixing on his with a look of wonder that made his heart twist. Had he done the right thing, after all? Did she really want this as much as he did? Could he really be that lucky?

She must have guessed his thoughts or something then, because in the next moment her smile was faltering, her eyes scanning his in something closer to confusion than wonder, with a touch of suspicion just sharp enough to pierce through his besotted haze. Why was she looking at him like that? Oh, no...



She was kissing him back!

P.J. pressed her lips more firmly against Brendan's before she had time to think about what she was doing, deepening the kiss with an urgency that sprang up from seemingly nowhere. God, he felt good... His lips, his neck, the hair at the nape of his neck, so full and soft she couldn't resist stroking her fingers through it, holding on and kissing him deeper, feeling the heat building between their bodies, feeling Brendan's surprise and pleasure when she took over, taking advantage of the opening he'd just given her to kiss him like she'd always wanted to but never could after he'd blown her off that day in the library. Didn't he want her like she wanted him? Why had he rejected her like that? She vaguely recalled Brendan's excuse from a few moments ago, when he finally explained what had gone wrong back then. Fine. Whatever. That was so long ago, it hardly mattered any more... right? He was here now, finally kissing her, finally making up for that ancient snub, and she was... and she...

She was kissing him back, and it felt so good. Too good, part of her brain was crying out. No kiss should feel this good; why did it feel so...

P.J. opened her eyes and saw the way Brendan was looking at her, and it hit her like a bucket of ice water. Something was wrong with his face; it was too... happy? Jesus. What the fuck. What the FUCK. He'd never looked at her like that before, and it made her want to die. This couldn't be happening. This couldn't happen. Brendan couldn't be in love with her!!

It was too late to take it back now; one stolen kiss and he was looking at her like it meant something impossibly huge. It was just a kiss! Oh, no!

P.J.'s phone rang and she felt a little swell of relief; insane timing, but she was grateful nonetheless. She answered it carefully, watching Brendan's reaction and hurting too much when she saw the disappointment creeping across his ridiculously good-looking features. She'd always had a soft spot for 'Hurt' Brendan, but this wasn't the time for nursing his emotional wounds. She had to extricate herself immediately, before she made the situation any worse. Stephanie was talking to her. Something about needing the spare keys to her apartment. P.J. tried to keep up with the conversation, but Brendan's presence in her kitchen was throwing her off-balance, the energy in the small space pressing down on her like nothing she'd ever experienced before. This was beyond awkward, beyond uncomfortable, beyond weird. She felt like little elves had entered the kitchen through a portal and were rearranging the furniture all around the two of them, or something.

"Yeah, sure, I'll be there in a few minutes," P.J. told Steph, distantly aware of what she was offering to do. "Okay, bye."

When she turned around, Brendan had already left the kitchen. Her face fell as she realized what she'd just done... Oh, God... poor Brendan... She took a small breath and tentatively stepped out into the living room, carefully avoiding looking into Brendan's open doorway as she passed by it, unsure what to do next. Should I say something to him? Should I just leave?

As she turned back toward his room in indecision, she noticed a shadow cross his open door and knew he was standing just inside, waiting for her, or maybe holding back. She hesitated, wanting to tell him something, anything that would make it all better and make her feel like less of an ass than she did in that moment, but nothing came to mind. Unable to come up with anything that didn't sound like absolute gibberish, she decided it would be better just to leave. Maybe they just needed some space to cool off, figure things out?

Grabbing her coat, P.J. reluctantly opened the front door to leave when she heard Brendan's door close in response. Damn it. Something broke inside her at the sound, making her feel even worse than she already did. She cringed as she stepped out to leave, feeling like every step she took to distance herself from whatever had just happened between her and Brendan was less freeing than it was condemning. Was she making a huge mistake? Surely trying to work things out now, after that insane, incredible, irresponsible kiss would only get the two of them deeper into... whatever it was they had fallen into? Temporary insanity? A moment of weakness? ...Misplaced... affection?

Unable to figure anything out in her current state, P.J. gave it up as a lost cause and closed the apartment door behind her, as much as it pained her. She had to just get out of there, get away and focus on something else. She could deal with this later, when she wasn't so fucking confused about the whole ordeal. Maybe Brendan was just as confused as she was, and wanted to take it all back... she wasn't sure if the thought made her feel better or worse. 

She took the stairs, not wanting to be confined in the slow, small elevator, all alone with her thoughts. She focused on each step, trying to distract herself by noticing all the scuffs and markings along the way. She'd gotten all the way to the sidewalk before she'd noticed that the keys she'd grabbed weren't even Stephanie's spares, but a spare set of Andy's. She stared at them calmly, uncertain if the creeping feeling she experienced at the realization that she had to go back upstairs was actually dread, or something a little bit... warmer...



Brendan was lying on his back and staring vacantly at his ceiling when he heard the sound of keys unlocking the apartment door. His heart did a strange fluttering thing as he sat up slightly, leaning back on his elbows and straining to listen. The door opened, and he heard P.J. step quietly inside. A long moment passed before he heard the front door shut, and an even longer moment before he heard her walking slowly toward his bedroom. He swallowed hard, sat up fully, swung his legs over the side of the bed, and waited. More silence. Then, a very small knock on his door.

"Brendan?" P.J. called, her voice strangely quiet, "Can I come in?"

Brendan swallowed again, then managed an almost normal-sounding, "Uh huh..."

P.J. looked as nervous as Brendan felt as she stepped inside, offering a half-hearted "Hey," as she made an effort to make eye contact.

"Hey," Brendan replied, glancing up at her from beneath his dark eyelashes.

"Um, can we talk?" P.J. asked in a meek voice, trying to make the question sound innocuous though they both knew it was anything but.

"Yeah, sure," Brendan replied, shifting over on the bed and gesturing for her to sit beside him with a small shrug, as if afraid she'd opt to stay standing. P.J. smiled somewhat tightly, and sat stiffly next to him, her hands bracing her knees as she stared down at her lap. Brendan kept his hands to his sides, gripping the edge of the bed as he turned his head to glance up at P.J.'s face from his lowered gaze, cautiously studying her as he waited for her to make the next move. When it became obvious that she wasn't sure how to begin, Brendan decided to initiate.

"I'm sorry," he offered.

P.J. glanced up at him then, looking almost... sad?

"You are?"

Brendan blinked, licked his lips, shrugged, and tried again. "I mean, sort of, yeah."


He had no idea how to interpret that. "Are you?" He asked softly. When P.J. looked at him in apparent confusion, he clarified, "Sorry?"

"You're the one who kissed me," P.J. defended, though her words lacked conviction.

"Uh, I think you might've kissed me back there a little, Peej," Brendan replied flatly.

"What?" She asked, her brows furrowing together in a way that was impossibly cute. "Nuh uh, you caught me off guard..."

"Are you serious?" Brendan smirked, getting slightly defensive, "Is that really how you remember it?"

"Whatever, Brend," P.J. shrugged, "Does it matter?"

"I don't know, you tell me," Brendan countered, moving his hands to rest on his thighs.

"What's that supposed to mean?" P.J. asked, her hands falling to rest on the edge of the bed.

Brendan looked at her seriously then, his brown eyes seeming darker than usual in the low lamplight. His gaze lingered on P.J.'s face before he looked at her carefully and asked, "You liked it, didn't you?"

P.J.'s mouth opened, but no words formed. Her eyes were moving between Brendan's lips and his dark gaze, and she fixed him with a penetrative look before answering, "Okay. Maybe I did."


P.J. couldn't help but smirk as she admitted, "Okay, I liked it."

Brendan smirked back, though his eyes were still filled with an emotion that made P.J. distinctly nervous.

"I liked it too," he quietly confided. "A lot."



"So..." P.J. started, trying to steer the conversation someplace productive, wherever that was. "I guess we should... talk... about that?"


"Oh, man..." P.J. sighed.


P.J. dropped her head into her hands as she muttered, "This is... this... isn't..."

"Peej," Brendan gently placed his hand on one of hers, drawing it down to rest on the blanket between them as he soothed his thumb over her palm, "...look, I'm sorry I freaked you out. It was my fault, okay? I didn't want it to go like this. Let's just forget it happened."

"What did you think would happen?" P.J. asked softly, her voice heavy with a sadness that made Brendan feel like complete shit.

"I didn't think, Peej—that's my problem—I should've thought it through, but I didn't. I just... you know."

"Then what made you do it? Why now?" P.J. pressed, her eyes fixated on their hands as he kept stroking his thumb across her palm.

Brendan sighed, starting to trace half a heart shape on P.J.'s palm before thinking better of it. "When you said that... nothing could jeopardize... what we have... I guess... I guess I took that too literally, or... thought maybe you meant... or I guess I kind of hoped you might've meant..."

"That it was okay to just kiss me?" P.J. finished for him, when Brendan couldn't finish his thought out loud.

"Yeah, I know... it sounds stupid now, I don't know why I thought... I mean, I just got the idea in my head, like a now-or-never sort of scenario, and I just... went with it."

Brendan's thumb had stopped moving, and was resting heavily on P.J.'s palm. After a moment, she closed her fingers around his hand and sighed. "It's all right, I get it."

"You do?"

"Yeah, you were acting impulsively. You do it all the time, Brend, just never with me; at least, not like that. I get it, though. It doesn't mean anything, it's just the way you're wired or something."

Brendan didn't like her reasoning, and turned her hand in his until he could grip it firmly, getting her to meet his eyes.

"Hey," he said earnestly, "it wasn't like that."

"It wasn't?" P.J. asked carefully.

"No, Peej. I wouldn't just... I wouldn't have acted on it if I didn't think... if I didn't think it might be worth it."

"Worth what, exactly?" P.J. asked, her heart starting to race a little.

"Worth the risk," Brendan replied in a hushed voice, struggling a little with the words. "I thought it might be worth it if there was even a chance that you might... want to kiss me as much as I want to kiss you."

P.J. felt her chest contract as she stared back at Brendan, who was looking at her with that same intensity she'd witnessed earlier. Oh, God.

"I... do. Want to kiss you," she said slowly, watching the bewilderment spread across Brendan's too-handsome face, "...but..."

"...but?" Brendan swallowed.

"But... it's not... a good idea...." P.J. managed to say, trying and seemingly failing to convince herself. Fuck. Stop looking at me like that.

"No..." Brendan agreed, his eyes glazing over slightly in that same dreamy expression she'd seen after he kissed her. "...bad idea..."

"Yeah," P.J. nodded, distantly aware that they were starting to slowly lean in toward one another, "really, really bad idea."

Brendan licked his lips, and P.J.'s eyes followed the movement. She lifted her gaze to find him watching her closely, and felt her heart beat a little harder.

"Peej," Brendan nearly whispered, his voice hoarse.


"Can I kiss you?"



Brendan's eyes were begging as they kept drifting between P.J.'s mouth and her distracted gaze. He was leaning toward her on his arm outstretched beside her, his strong bicep flexed beneath the sleeve of his t-shirt. P.J. unconsciously glanced over his body, noticing (as she had so many times before) the strength of his broad chest and trim waistline; his undeniably attractive physique that she'd pretended to ignore for so long. She'd always wanted to touch him, the compulsion to just hug him sometimes overwhelming, but had instead reminded herself that it was safer to keep an appropriate distance from her friend, especially in front of everyone else. The last thing she needed was to have the other guys think that spontaneous hugging was cool, so she'd repressed her affectionate urges around Brendan, for the most part. But now, looking at him stretched toward her like that, so inviting, asking her nicely if he could kiss her... she just wanted more than anything to wrap her arms around him and feel what it was like to hold onto him for a while... even if it was a very, very bad idea.

With a small smile, P.J. decided to make her move. She shifted in place until she was seated right in front of him, orienting her body to meet his. She watched the happy surprise transform Brendan's hopeful expression as she leaned toward him, but missed his look of sudden confusion as she smiled wider and rested her head on his shoulder, her arms wrapping carefully around him and drawing him in. Confused but compliant, Brendan returned the embrace, his arms gently folding around the girl pressed close against him.

Brendan wasn't sure if he should feel jilted, or elated. He'd asked P.J. if he could kiss her again, but in response she'd given him a hug? Not that he was complaining, exactly... it felt nice, holding her like that. Really nice, in fact. It wasn't the first time he'd hugged his friend, but this was different somehow. For one thing, she didn't seem inclined to let go any time soon. But the way she was holding him was softer; sweeter than any hug he'd ever received from her before, or indeed from anyone ever. What was happening? He felt the swell of her breasts pressing gently against his chest as she breathed in and out, and he felt soothed by the rhythmic contact. His own breathing evened out along with hers as he relaxed further into the embrace, his fingers strumming a continuous circular pattern where they rested against her back. Her arms were wrapped snugly around his waist, her head a welcomed weight atop his shoulder. Getting more comfortable, he let one of his hands trail up her back to touch her lightly on the nape of her neck, stroking delicately as if afraid any sudden movement might scare her off of him. She tilted her head deeper against him, arching her neck in the process and welcoming his tentative touch.

They sat like that for a long while, slumping comfortably against each other as Brendan's gentle fingers explored this small, new territory. He'd touched other women like this before, but with P.J. it felt so much more intimate. He felt like he was walking a thin line between affection and violation, and it thrilled and frightened him in equal measure. Every touch between them was so much more loaded, more tender than any he'd ever experienced. Just breathing against each other felt more sensual than sex with strangers ever had.

Eventually Brendan could feel something inevitable building between them. They couldn't sit like this forever, sweet as it was. The feeling started in the pit of his stomach, like a coil slowly winding from someplace deep inside. As the tension built, he knew P.J. was feeling it too by the subtle shifts in her body against his; the small changes in her breathing. She tilted her face from where it had rested against his shoulder, and he stilled as he felt her lips brush ever-so-lightly against the side of his neck. P.J. sighed, and he felt her whole body swell against his with a yearning that was entirely new. Her lips touched his neck again, lingering this time, and he swallowed thickly. That butterfly-soft touch had been enough to send his blood rushing to his groin, and he knew it was pointless to try and will his growing erection away. This is happening... this is really happening!

Suddenly P.J. shifted and pulled back, and Brendan worried that she had sensed his predicament somehow. When she looked at him, though, he couldn't hide the want that was written all over his face when he saw the heavy lust reflected in P.J.'s expression. Oh my God, this really is happening. P.J.'s bedroom eyes were truly a sight to behold, directed on him like that, her face slightly flushed and her lips parted. Brendan was too stunned to move.

"Kiss me," she whispered, and he didn't need to be told twice.

This time the kiss was softer than before, a slow, careful exploration that gradually deepened as they learned all the ways their mouths fit together. They kept pulling apart for brief moments to open their eyes and look at one another, continuously astonished by what was happening, exchanging breathless glances before being drawn back in to go even deeper, then surfacing for light, experimental kisses that toyed with an invisible electricity growing between them. Neither of them wanted to stop playing this delicate game, lost in the rapture of this new intimacy. P.J. pulled back and hooked Brendan with her gaze, drawing him with her as she shifted her position to stretch out on the bed, loving the way Brendan bracketed her with his strong arms before lowering himself down to continue kissing her like it was all he ever wanted.

Their breathing had become erratic as the kissing went on and on, until both of them were crazed with the need for further contact. Brendan pulled back and watched P.J.'s expression as he touched her face affectionately, then moved his hand down her neck to trace along her collar bone. He bent his head to kiss the exposed skin beneath her neck, and when she arched up into the kiss, his hand moved down to ghost over her breast. P.J. arched further into the touch, making a soft noise of assent as his hand closed over the mound, squeezing gently as his mouth trailed down to the edge of the low collar of her shirt. He glanced up with a look that she immediately understood, and without further prompting she pulled the shirt up and over her head as Brendan maneuvered out of his own shirt, then started unbuttoning her pants as Brendan pulled off his second layer. He helped her wriggle out of her black jeans, peeling them off with more eagerness than she'd ever seen him apply to any task.

As he tossed the pants aside and rose over her again half-naked, P.J. allowed herself to really look at him. She'd seen him shirtless before, but now she was able to fully appreciate how incredibly fine a sight it was. She really wanted to touch him, and moaned pleasurably into his mouth when he lowered himself to kiss her again, this time pressing his warm, naked chest fully against her own bare skin. She ran her hands down his sides and across his strong back, pulling him closer against her and feeling his trapped erection pressing into her hip for the first time. Brendan moaned as she shifted her hip against it, her fingers digging into his back as his tongue pressed deeper into her mouth.

"Fuck, Peej," Brendan groaned, holding her face and fixing his super-dark eyes on hers as he resisted the urge to grind his dick shamelessly against her, "I want you so bad..."

P.J.'s mouth was slack as she writhed against him, arching her hips against his and staring at Brendan's mouth as he bit his lip and shut his eyes tight. She didn't know what had possessed her, but watching Brendan react to her like this was making her hornier than she could ever remember being. She felt sexier now than she had since she was a teenager. As she pulled back, she watched Brendan's eyes open again as he hovered over her, breathing heavily and looking thoroughly wrecked with desire. His hair was mussed, his jaw slack and his pupils fully blown, and she'd never seen a sexier sight in her entire life. Christ, has he always been this fucking hot?

P.J. reached up to touch her breast, watching Brendan's reaction as she skimmed her fingers over the top of her bra cup, dipping her middle finger beneath to play with her nipple. Brendan licked his lips and bent down to mouth over the opposite breast, reaching up and pulling down the bra enough to expose a nipple, and sucking on it gently. P.J. gasped and arched her back, and Brendan seized the opportunity to reach around and unclasp the bra from behind, loving the little smile that P.J. rewarded him with as he smirked back, gently guiding the bra straps down her arms and tossing the pretty garment aside.

Brendan's roguish grin faded when he took in the full sight before him: there was P.J., sprawled out on his bed, completely topless and wearing nothing more than her red and white panties and her little gold necklace. Her hair was coming out of her messy ponytail, and she was staring at him with an unguarded hunger that she'd never shown before. There was so much skin in front of him just waiting to be touched that he almost didn't know where to begin, until he focused on the rosy little nipples, pertly demanding his attention. With a half-smirk he bent down and watched P.J.'s eyes as he took her breast in his strong fingers and lowered his mouth, tonguing at her nipple as she arched her back and bit her lip in pleasure. He sucked on each nipple before crawling up to lick a path up P.J.'s outstretched neck, kissing along her jaw before finding her mouth again with hungry lips. 

As he kissed her thoroughly, Brendan's hand tickled the outside of P.J.'s thigh, his finger skimming along the edge of her underwear before tracing down the back of the leg, tickling up and down her inner thigh and coaxing her leg to spread open for him. Brendan pulled back from his kiss as his fingers grazed the thigh's apex, locking eyes with P.J. as he traced the lightest of touches over her panties, watching her breath hitch as he skimmed the fabric covering her clitoris. The expression on P.J.'s face when he touched her there was something he never wanted to forget. Brendan's touch became a little firmer as he ran his fingertip over the sensitive area, pressing slightly into the hot groove beneath the sheer cloth barrier.

"These are wet," he murmured, feeling the slick dampness rapidly seeping through the fabric. P.J. could only manage a broken noise in response.

"Are you wet for me, Peej?" Brendan teased, his confident smirk and careful touch doing things to P.J.'s brain and body that rendered it momentarily incapable of doing anything other than reeling in delight. Brendan slipped a finger inside the panties and probed deeper, groaning at what he felt.

"Jesus, you are..." he hissed, pressing his forehead against P.J.'s. "Holy shit... Fuck, Peej. You're killing me."

"Take off your pants," P.J. managed in a breathy whisper, nudging Brendan's erection with her thigh. She wanted him inside her so badly now, but hoped she hadn't pushed him too close to the edge. She knew he might not last long in the state he was in, but she was so worked up now that she was ready to come at a moment's notice.

Brendan struggled with his zipper and flipped onto his back, wriggling out of his pants as if they were on fire. His boxers followed quickly, and he turned back to P.J. just in time to catch her appreciative gaze. She knew he was one stupidly good-looking dude, but who knew he'd have such an attractive penis, too?

Brendan reached for P.J.'s underwear, pulling them down carefully at her nod of encouragement. Oh fuck, naked P.J. on his bed was definitely the hottest thing he'd ever seen. Her legs were slightly spread and she was leaning back on her elbows, looking at him like he was the sexiest fucking person in the room. He knew she had it backwards, but wasn't about to argue the point.

He crawled up the bed to meet her, sprawling out beside her and gently reaching out to touch her, his fingers carefully cataloging slope of waist, dip of navel, curve of breast, ridge of shoulder.

"You're fucking gorgeous, Peej," Brendan murmured. She watched him with a half-smile, her eyes tracking his as he committed as much of her body to memory as he could. She lifted a hand to touch the side of his face, her fingers drifting into his hairline. They met eyes again and a look passed between them that set everything aflame. Brendan was kissing her hard, and she was giving back as good as she got.

As he rolled on top of her, she wrapped her legs around him and dug her fingers deep into his hair, her tongue sliding against his as his engorged cock pressed against her.

"Oh shit," Brendan gasped, "should I grab a condom?"

"No," P.J. whined, arching up against him, "fuck me now, Brend; fuck me like this."

Brendan made a strangled noise as he shifted to comply, nudging the head of his cock against P.J.'s slick folds. "Jesus Christ, Peej!" he groaned as he fisted his swollen cock, slowly working the head inside her as he tried to hold back the compulsion to come all over her right then and there.

They both let out a whimpering moan as he pushed inside her, pausing when he was fully seated to control his breathing and focus on fucking her properly. After a prolonged moment, he was finally able to move inside her, starting out with small thrusts before working his way up to a deeper rhythm. P.J. was holding onto his back and crying out in pleasure laced with something almost melancholy, as if Brendan were slowly destroying something with every thrust, but she didn't want him to stop until it was thoroughly obliterated. He looked at her in concern, his worry compounded by his ever-increasing ecstasy. He knew all this incredible build-up would have to end in a fall — he just couldn't be bothered to think about it when he was having the most intense sexual experience of his life. HOW is this so. fucking. good? Who knew fucking your best friend could ever be this fucking amazing? The almost-pain in her eyes that seemed to simultaneously say "how could you?" and "do it harder" was driving him crazy, taking him to the edge of a totally new precipice of sexual consciousness. He wanted to fuck P.J. until she forgave him for wanting to fuck her; to make her come so hard that she forgot he wasn't supposed to touch her like this. He wanted to fuck her so sweetly that she'd never want to be anything less than his lover; to convert their friendship into something more meaningful, no matter how much it hurt to make that happen. He wanted it to hurt. It should hurt. He was killing their friendship so that they could start over as lovers, and it was going to be devastatingly beautiful. He cried out in ecstatic agony as he changed the angle of his thrusts, then flipped them over so that P.J. was on top, and sat up to meet her in a desperate kiss as he gripped her hips, thrusting up as she ground down onto him, crying out in her own keening elegy for what was lost between them as she enthusiastically helped to tear it apart.

Brendan was close now as he watched his friend-turned-lover bouncing deliriously on his lap, her angelic face beautifully distorted with spasm after spasm of pleasure. She wanted this, too. She kept looking at him as if she couldn't believe what he was doing to her, and the recognition of it was driving her senseless with need. She wanted him to fuck what was left of their platonic friendship just as completely as he wanted to fuck the shit out of it; to batter it with his dick until it was unrecognizable, then come all over it. It was far too late to turn back, now, and he was going to ride it out for all that it was worth.

He was feeling reckless again. He wanted to try something new; to push this as far as he could push it.

Bracing her back, Brendan gently guided P.J. down off his lap and laid her down on the bed again, wrapping her legs around his waist and kissing her deeply. His hard cock prodded at her folds teasingly as he kissed her, making her squirm in an effort to work him back inside her. He laughed brokenly and pressed his face against her cheek, kissing her and stroking his hand along her body as her breathing slowly quieted. When she was relaxed and responding to his touches, he rose above her again and lined up his cock, holding her gaze as he slowly pushed back into her. The intensity between them now was undeniable; he knew she was feeling what he was feeling, and it was fucking amazing. Their eyes stayed locked as they began to move together, slowly building a steady rhythm as he rocked into her with conviction, putting everything he had into it.

"I love you, Peej," he blurted, both of their eyes widening at the admission. "I do," he panted, rocking into her deeper, "I fucking love you."

"Brend," P.J. wailed, thrusting her hips up to meet him with greater urgency now, their rhythm turning erratic as P.J. let out a string of incomprehensible sounds.

"Come on, Peej, do it," Brendan urged, his own thrusts turning desperate as his face twisted with the need to finish, "come for me... come for me."

P.J.'s eyes rolled back as she breathed out a soft little cry, her back arching and her arms stretched out above her head, her whole body shuddering in a gentle surrender. Brendan tensed as he felt her spasm around his cock, gritting his teeth and groaning at the awesome sensation. He waited until she started to relax before thrusting a few more times, easily following her into a transcendent orgasm. He knew his face must've looked like someone had just gut-punched him hard after shooting heroin into his vein, but he was too blissed-out to care how stupid he looked. That was fucking. incredible.

Brendan's head slumped onto the bed next to P.J.'s, his body rolling lethargically as he shifted his weight onto his right shoulder and off of the woman breathing heavily beneath him. His left hand drifted up to rest on the curve of her hip, and he gave her a soft squeeze as his whole body shuddered in a delicious post-coital aftershock. He was half-laughing heaving breaths into the blanket, delirious from his completely narcotic orgasm.

P.J. was trying to slow her breaths and get her heart rate to steady, feeling like she'd just jumped off a cliff and fell for miles before landing on a springy marshmellow cloud. She'd fallen off the edge of the planet and somehow landed in Candy Land. Heat was radiating off Brendan's sweaty body and caressing her hypersensitive skin while his heavy breaths ghosted across her neck; he was panting incomprehensible profanities into the twisted blanket beneath them, his fingers flexing possessively into the flesh of her hip. P.J. couldn't remember the last time she felt so thoroughly, conclusively fucked.

As if on cue, a soft buzzing noise sounded from the floor, and the sound send a cold trickle through P.J.'s overheated blood. She tensed as Brendan seemed to ignore it, still exhaling delirious laughs into the bed cover.

"Is that your phone?" P.J. asked, her voice sounding abnormally small and thready.

"Huh?" Brendan replied, rolling over slightly to turn his face into her neck, and humming with pleasure as he found skin to press a kiss into. His arm wrapped around P.J.'s waist and he tried to draw her closer to him, sliding his hand up her back as he pressed his body flush against hers and showered her neck in lazy kisses.

"Brend," P.J. tiredly objected, pulling away slightly and forcing him to look up at her. His eyes were so full of affection that she was distracted for a moment before the soft buzzing sound cut through her lapse. "Your phone?"

"Leave it," Brendan smirked, his brown eyes sparkling as he gazed up at P.J. and caressed her back with gentle touches. Between his adorably mussed hair and his impossibly handsome expression, P.J. was having trouble remembering why she should pay attention to anything else in that moment, but then the soft beep of a new voicemail message jarred her awareness.

"Oh my God, that was probably Stephanie," P.J. gasped, "I totally forgot about her!"

Brendan's expression fell as he registered what P.J. was saying.

"I have to call her back — I told her I was heading over there! She's probably freaking out!"

"I'm sure she's fine," Brendan grumbled.

"She's locked out," P.J. replied, sitting up and looking around the room in confusion. Brendan tensed as he watched her slowly come to her senses, worried that she might be waking up from a shared dream that he never wanted to wake up from.

P.J. spotted Brendan's Led Zeppelin t-shirt and pulled it on quickly as she stood up, her bare ass peeking out from beneath the hem as she turned to him apologetically in the doorway, beautifully disheveled and practically glowing in a blinding aura of Perfect Dream Girl that had Brendan's heart seizing up again. The image of her burned in his mind as she walked away to find her phone, and he laid on his back, naked and cooling as he listened to the hushed tones of her voice as she called Stephanie with some quiet excuse.

When P.J. re-emerged in his doorway, her hair had been pulled back in place and she was fully dressed, looking shyly at Brendan who was still completely exposed.

"What did you tell her?" He asked as he sat up awkwardly and moved to the side of the bed, turning to glance questioningly at P.J., who was having trouble making eye contact with him now.

"Um, I told her that I grabbed the wrong keys and had to go back... which is actually the truth, if not the whole truth..."

"Oh," Brendan replied, rubbing a tense hand over the back of his neck.

P.J. heard the note of surprise in his voice, and worried that she'd disappointed him.

"But, you know, I'm glad I came back," she offered, knowing how weak the assurance sounded.

"Yeah?" Brendan asked, looking up hopefully and with more vulnerability than P.J. could handle.

"Yeah..." she nodded, smiling at him and hoping she kept the fear out of it. Brendan smiled back at her, but his eyes were still seeking out something that she wasn't sure how to appease. She ducked her head for a moment, and when she glanced back up Brendan was regarding her with an expression that reminded her too much of a kid who knew he was about to be picked last for a team but was trying to look like it didn't bother him.

"I'm going to go now, okay?" P.J. asked, her heart aching at the way he swallowed and nodded. "...But I'll be back?"

"Yeah, okay," Brendan replied, smiling dismissively in a pretense of casualness even though he was completely naked. "See you later."

"Okay," P.J. smiled, knowing how tense it was and eager to extricate herself from the situation before her discomfort became any more obvious.

Brendan listened to her leave, and sat in place for a long moment before sprawling back on the bed with a heavy sigh. What the hell just happened?



Hours later, P.J. returned to the apartment to find Brendan's door closed. She sighed, hoping he hadn't been too offended that she'd taken so long after spilling the news of everything that had transpired with Stephanie, who had been blindsided by the frenetic, breathless disclosure. P.J. was exhausted after that conversation, and hoped Brendan wouldn't mind letting things between them rest, at least until tomorrow.

Pulling off her coat, she wandered into her bedroom to find a pile of her discarded clothes neatly folded atop her bedspread. Her heart sank at the sight, though she wasn't sure why. What does this mean?

Slumping down onto the bed beside the little pile, P.J. ran her fingers over the undergarments and recalled the way Brendan had touched her that night, her skin prickling at the thought. She wanted to feel him next to her again; wanted to run her fingers through his tousled hair and kiss him slowly; wanted him to wrap his big arms around her tightly and never let go. She also wanted to wake up and see Brendan emptying the last of her orange juice into his mug, then glance over his shoulder at her with a caught-in-the-act grin and offer to pour half of it into a cup for her. She wanted to go back to light jokes and good-natured ribbing; casual conversation and simple, meaningless interactions that reminded her that they'd always be there for each other; that they'd always like being around one another, no matter how familiar their relationship became. She wanted her friend back. Oh God, Brend... what have we done?